Fr. Martin R. Tripole answers the question we who claim the mantle of Catholicism ought to all be pondering:
When is the last time you saw someone display courage?
We know it exists among public servants: soldiers, policemen, firefighters. We know it existed among the first responders at 9/11. We find it in people who sacrifice their lives for the well-being of those dearest to them, such as a father who will dive into water to save a drowning son or daughter.
But how about in Catholicism? Does it demand courage to be a Catholic today? For most of our lives, the issue never arose. Traditional Christian values were commonly accepted in America: to put it succinctly, Catholic values and civic values largely coincided. But in recent times, we have come to realize that it doesn’t take courage to be a Catholic, but only a faithful Catholic. For example, it doesn’t take courage today to be a Catholic politician who is pro-choice, but it does to be one who is pro-life.
How ready are we to stand up for traditional Catholic values and beliefs today?
The Vatican has recently stressed the courage that marks men and women of deep commitment to the faith. Pope Francis called Benedict XVI’s decision to step down as Pope on February 28, 2013, an act of “a man of great courage and humility.” At the canonization Mass of John XXIII and John Paul II, Francis referred to the new saints as “two men of courage” who “bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.” The Pope fired up 500 youth at the Vatican on August 28, 2013, when he said, “I wanted to tell you this, to tell you: courage, go forward, make noise. . . . Please, go against the current. Be courageous, courageous: go against the current.” At his June 23, 2013, Angelus reflection, Francis urged everyone, especially youth, to “have the courage to go against the tide of current values that do not conform to the path of Jesus.”
But is Francis too quickly presuming that youth today experience a clash between the tide of current values and the path of Jesus?
"The days of comfortable Catholicism are past”
It would come as a bit of a shock, I think, to many Catholics comfortable with current developments in our society, to hear the Pope speak of a clash between current values and Jesus’ teaching. It would come as an even greater shock for them to hear the remarks of Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton University, when he addressed the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, on May 13, 2014:
The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship—heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.
According to George, if one wants to be a good Catholic today, one must be “prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel” regarding “Biblical and natural law beliefs”: about “the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions,” about the “core social function of marriage” to “unite a man and woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to children born of their union.” To be sure, it is still possible to be “a comfortable Catholic” and “socially acceptable”; but to be a Catholic who professes openly fidelity to the teachings of the Gospel and Christ’s Church, one must be prepared “to take risks and make sacrifices,” “to make oneself a marked man or woman.” The “costs of discipleship” are high:
It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. . . . to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members. Yes, there are costs of discipleship—heavy costs.
But why would Catholics accept such costs?
Do read the rest.