Santuário San Rafael Ascension Catholic church

An independent ministry in the Catholic Tradition

A word about language, sources, and style

             Many of the conflicts in the mainstream churches and ecclesial communions center around what language ought to be used to talk about God and our experience of the Divine.  Most, if not all of the conflicts surrounding dogma and doctrine, are in fact arguments about words. 

             The independent Catholic churches of the Ascension Alliance, while holding to the principles of love, and a belief in the reality and efficacy of the Holy Sacraments, do not impose any particular doctrine or language on believers, but insist that each soul struggle with the reality of the divine experience through a personal encounter with the Living Christos.  Many of us find that experience, of course, in the deep and beautiful language of traditional Catholic liturgy and devotion.  Others, equally inspired, struggle to give birth to new language which expresses what we truly know to be ultimately inexpressible. 

             On many occasions, Santuario San Rafael uses traditional language because of the emotional, historical, and mystical associations it has for many.  This is often a question of temperament, since some people prefer modern language. 

             Another issue for us is the struggle to be inclusive.   We know that it is difficult for some ears to hear modern gender inclusive language, but we also know how painful it is for many women to feel excluded.  This process is a pilgrimage of both good faith and language change, and we invite you to struggle with us on the journey. 

             We have also taken many texts, prayers, and language from a multitude of sources, most of them ancient or traditional, and we have sought to weave them together into a new and enlightening meditation on the hidden and subtle aspects of the Catholic tradition.  In doing so, we have often followed the lead of others too numerous to mention.  For example, in The Divine Liturgy of the Deep Song of the Heart, we have followed the basic structure and language of the Mozarabic Rite as it appears in Spanish and Latin, but we have also incorporated a number of other sources as diverse as the Nag Hamadi Texts, St. Teresa of Avila, Federico Garcia Lorca, the Qabbalah and unpublished Mayan sources from the highlands of Guatemala.  Some readers may be shocked or puzzled by this diversity, which is not intended to offend, but to shed new light on the dynamic and ever-renewing gospel of Jesus.  

             A number of anonymous sisters and brothers have expressed their dismay at this linguistic diversity.  Dear friends, in all sincerity I say to you that you may be right about these things.  I would certainly love to see your own efforts to write inspirational and mystical language as you struggle to put into words your own heartfelt experience of the Divine Love. 

             Even the most carefully orthodox of theologians must admit that on some level, God is beyond all gender, all thought, all number, and all concept.  Let us seek to emulate the apophatic way of the Pseudo-Dionysius, and allow our souls to grow to new levels of spiritual sensitivity. 

             The editing and re-writing of sacred language is a process as old as the scriptures themselves, and we are deeply part of that tradition.  Forgive us when we have not used sufficient footnotes.  

The Language of Prayer

A human response to the experience of God


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