A significant proportion of conversations in my life center around diagnosis. They focus on claims about what's wrong with the Universal Church, the local Church, our province of the Order, or our formation program. The tone of conversations can range from the rigorously scientific or the devoutly spiritual to the silly and lighthearted, but the mode of conversation is the same: 'This is what's wrong.'
This framework rests on certain assumptions:
1. There is something (or some set of things) wrong, and it is serious or critical enough to command a lot of our attention.
2. It is, however, apparently difficult to name or define, as evidenced by the almost overwhelming diversity of opinions. In other words, there does not seem to be much consensus.
3. Describing what's wrong is the starting point for discerning the remedies to be applied.
4. Our ministerial and missionary decisions and commitments ought to derive from the remedies thus discerned.
Now I'm not posting in order to say that this is a wrong or bad way to proceed. If I should say, 'our problem is that we are committed to a discourse of diagnosis,' I would only make myself an example of my own assertion without saying anything further. I will, however, say that on this model, in which decisions about ministries and mission are supposed to derive from diagnosis, such decisions become almost impossible to make given the lack of diagnostic consensus.
All I wish to say in this post is that my theological and ecclesial conscience has been pushing me to notice this structure to many of the conversations I encounter and participate in, and to become willing to expose it to critique for myself. I'm not sure where that will go, if anywhere, but for a starting point from my own prayer on this today I just recall one of my favorite prayers from the Mass:
Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus, et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum.
What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given us in time, may be our healing [remedium] for eternity. (new translation)