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McIver offers hopeful vision in the midst of ‘ruins’

“Love persists in the midst of ruins.”

That might be the most apt takeaway from Colin McIver’s presentations at the Diocese of Duluth’s 13th annual Diocesan Assembly, held Oct. 13 at Marshall School in Duluth. It was attended by about 170 people.

Colin McIver
Colin McIver addresses the crowd at the annual Diocesan Assembly Oct. 13 at Marshall School in Duluth. He spoke on the church’s teaching on human sexuality and its See McIVER on page 22 answers for the world. (Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)

McIver, an author and speaker from Ascension Press, took this mantra from his fi rst talk from the title of a Walker Percy book, “Love in the Ruins.”

“The word ‘ruin,’ I think, is a pretty apt description of where we fi nd ourselves in the church,” he said.

He noted his own life as an example. He has two adopted children, and he says their odds of being adopted, as opposed to aborted, were extremely low. He himself is the product of divorce, his father a laicized priest.

He noted the clergy abuse scandal and how really the whole human story is God’s love in the midst of ruins.

“The solution in the midst of ruins is as it has always been,” he said, “to be saints. … I think we very much can flourish in the midst of this.”

He cited the example of St. Francis of Asissi, who must have appeared to his contemporaries as “nuts.” But holiness attracts. “When real holiness happens, it’s magnetic,” he said. “… The Gospel outshines imposters.”

In contrast to the ruins, he noted that there is a clear, positive vision of sex, love, and relationships found in the church’s teaching. “most of us have heard of it,” he said to the crowd. “Most people in the world haven’t.”

And he said that while the teaching of Humanae Vitae, Pope St. Paul VI’s encyclical on birth control, was ignored, 50 years later “it’s clear Paul VI was a prophet.”

McIver’s second talk focused on that teaching and Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and how they answer the deepest questions of who we are, what our purpose is, and what our story is.

Married love is, he said, a participation in divine love, and an echo of the words “this is my body, given up for you.”

He emphasized that in the Christian view, “Life is not a series of unrelated episodes … life is an epic,” an epic love story, more akin to “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Princess Bride” than it is to an episode of “Seinfeld.”

He emphasized the importance of giving ourselves in service to others and that chastity is the way we can do that with our sexuality. “Real love is not possible without chastity,” he said.

He also spoke of an approach to presenting these challenging teachings to others, modeled on the approach of Jesus to people like the woman caught in adultery, the rich young man, the Samaritan woman at the well, and Matthew at his customs post. He said we are “to see, to love, and to challenge.”

McIver concluded his presentation with a question and answer session which covered subjects ranging from Drew Brees to the validity of natural family to frozen embryos to healing after you’ve already been sexually active.

The day concluded with Mass, celebrated by Bishop Paul Sirba.

— By Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross