From Being and Nothingness:
"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit." Matthew 7:17
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Luke 6:45
These two passages (taken from the Douay-Rheims version of the bible) have been rolling over in my head for the last week since learning of the confirmations that many (most?) of the allegations against Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the apostolic order Legion of Christ and the lay apostolic association Regnum Christi. Added to the list of accusations which were previously made is the confirmed fact that Fr. Maciel fathered a daughter who is now 22 years old and her mother is only 37 years old (which mathematics will tell you was 14 or 15 when she conceived).
Often on blogs people posit their positions as provocations or opinions, using the blog primarily as a medium of judgment on the events around them. That is usually my reason, as well. However, today I offer this post primarily to engage you to think with me what these two passages mean and how the current situation that the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi can be understood in light of them.
I want to avoid a moralistic approach and at the same time I want to avoid an interpretation of those passages as deterministic. I also don't want my reflection to remain at the surface of my annoyance with the LC or RC in my particular encounters with them. Instead, I want to try to understand what exactly a "fruit" is and more so, I want to understand how much the "charism" of any religious order or lay movement is tied to the person of the founder, and whether or not this "tie" is necessary to or a consequence of the moral life of the founder.
I also want to understand more about the Legion's formation and structure. Are some of it's tendencies (the focus on appearance, sameness, moral rigidity, secrecy, the apostolate) a result of some work Christ was doing "through" a fragile, broken creature or are they the result of a dualism that emerges as a result of his constant rejection of Christ's grace.
Here are some thoughts:
1. The focus on appearances belies the tendency in someone who lives a double life to convince all those around him that "everything is fine." It's not a coincidence that all the Legionaries are told time and time again that their appearance is fundamental in not interfering with someone hearing the gospel message.
2. The focus on the "sameness" of all Legionaries could also be a symptom of the above mentioned problem. The more everyone is the same, the more the person who is living the double life can rely on those patterns and expectations to cover their own duplicity.
3. The focus on moral rigidity often what we call "reactionary." The reaction is to the person's own sinfulness. Sin, in the Christian life, usually evokes shame. Since serious patterns of sin result from our own choices, we often think that our choices and actions will lead us back to the right path. This is a typical misunderstanding of the Christian life in which instead of a complete reliance on Christ, we rely on the rules as the path to holiness.
4. The focus on secrecy is almost self-evident. When you have something to hide you treat everything as if it is "private" and therefore create patterns of behavior where you "hide from the left hand what the right hand is doing." This isn't always negative. Somethings should be private. But when everything has the potential to be a little damaging or negative is treated with "secrecy" we can really occlude the truth.
5. The focus on the apostolate is troubling because it avoids the personal interior work of self-awareness and self-acknoledgment. This is true in my experience. Often when I focus on my work as the most important thing it is because there is an interior rejection of my dependence on Christ and an inability to be silent in front of him and recognize what I am in front of him. Even prayer can be full of this "business" so even hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament can amount to a "nothingness" if I am not present with all of myself infront of the "You" that makes me.
In addition, I think it also can be used a "measure" of one self, in the way that the protestant tradition has looked at it. "I must be good with God, because look at how successful my apostolate is going." It's the tendency that many had to say "Fr. Maciel must be a saint, because look at all the good that the Legion does, look at all the seminarians, look at how faithful they are to the pope, only a saint could generate all of that." If he's not a saint, are those things that he generated now evil?