Most people really don't want Church,
in its reality. Think about it.
Church is the place we repent in,
driven to frayed knees by the sheer aspect of Glory,
the desperation for Justice,
and the weeping from the soul-piercing beauty of Love.
Church is the place of binding and loosing.
It stands one foot in this world, the other in the Kingdom …
in this age and the Next.
It is the House and Moment of Confession:
I cannot but say out loud who I am in the Face of Glory –
there is the heavy mysterium tremens,
and the solace of Paschal symphonic Light.
In the Church's Confession of her confidence,
I in my weakness give witness to my plight.
Church is never a place of easy communication.
You might rightly complain of my penchant for the KJV,
for its sonorities that are not at all ornate but anciently sharp.
But you don't come here to understand but because you are understood.
You come for peace, and knowledge only after,
and even that knowledge is the data from the Whirlwind.
Listen, with trembling, to kyrie eleison, hospodi pomiluj,
and predicate your Americanism on the authorized version,
like Melville, Faulkner and Hemingway.
But I am not here today as a Bible salesman,
knocking at your door with a Thompson's Chain Reference.
I sell for free a hard place of Trinity.
Most people say that they're all for Love
but really don't want it, for Love is a terror.
Most people say that they want Peace on earth
but really prefer a piece of satisfaction:
for Peace comes, everyone knows at bottom,
only from the breath of the historical and heavenly Jesus,
Second Person suffering on the Cross.
Love washes the shore of the heart only as Blood and Light.
When you walk into Church
you should not be looking for handshakers
and acceptable carpeted interiors, damn it.
You should not be looking for the proper affiliations and accreditations,
or for diaper-changing stations and teenage entertainments
and whether or not the vestments of clergy and people are suitable to you.
You should be looking for Paradise, as a cruciform Thief,
and if you do not seek it, you sure as hell won't find it.
Don't blame the ethnic parish, the shaved priest,
the patriarchal deficiencies of gender sensitivities,
the lack of air conditioning or any modern conditioning for that matter.
In the very act of blaming, you disqualify
the outré parishioners or the poor bishop or lousy location and language …
Church is the Upper Room that is locked after the Cross
but invaded by Resurrection.
It is the mystical locus of anamnesis, the place of memory
that burns bright with Pentecost, always.
The language sung is the union of true vision,
the apostolic chorus and aria of Gospel and Work,
of Baptism and Teaching, Absolution and Communion.
Most people don't want this, for now.
This place is no longer the boutique destination of a malcontent exodus.
We are becoming more unpopular, more eccentric,
unacceptable to all sides right and left:
no Council, whether Great and Holy,
or late by Wall Street, can fix this problem.
We have lost our ethnic cachet:
the immigrants have left us for the American Dream,
and have found other religious communities to further their cause.
We have failed our preservationist charm:
nature abhors vacuums and museums,
and Time will not let us be.
I sell Trinity for free and the Cross,
free but infinitely dear.
You should look here for the earth and sky,
seen and heard, echoes of the Word.
You should expect the unseen Heavens
and the indefinable indubitable notions of angels,
trans-adult, beauty fire and placid.
You should expect Holiness that you wake up emblazoned in,
headset tongue as of flame in.
You should look for yourself,
understood, but not understanding,
known, but not knowing,
defended, but not defining,
loved, but never loving enough,
always more but becoming much more.
Orthodoxy is appealing
only at the gates of Hades
which do not prevail
except in au courant illusions.
Here at the gates
is the place where we recover Man
and become Likeness.
It is, sufficient Grace,
as you and I grow older