Real forgiveness is hard because it address people, you know, sinned, dammit! They don’t deserve forgiveness.
Correctamundo. People who have sinned do not deserve forgivenness. A helluva a lot of them don’t (or won’t) even admit they’ve sinned, much less gotten around to asking for forgiveness. Jesus’ extremely hard command is still plain:
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mk 11:25).
Note the completely unqualified nature of that command. Nothing about the sinner apologizing. Just “forgive everybody everything, always, and forever”.
“But then they’ll have gotten away with it!”
No they won’t. God is still God. He sees if and when they repent. The forgiveness is for your sake as much as theirs. Forgive and they won’t own you anymore. Hold to bitterness and their cold clammy hand will still grip your ankle 25 years after they have died (and perhaps all the way to hell). Forgive. Let them go. Be free. Let God worry about their destiny.
Mark Shea should be a regular read for anyone wanting to take Catholic faith seriously. And yes, I'm completely aware some Catholics will disagree.
What I love about Mark is this. You can disagree with him all day long but you better bring your "A" game when doing so. And the plus side of that is you've studied what you believe and why and you've come to know more about the Catholic faith.
By now you’ve probably heard of the tragic story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who has an inoperable and terminal brain tumor. While Maynard’s age makes her condition unusual, what has really brought her story attention is her decision to end her life.
"After several surgeries, doctors said in April that her brain tumor had returned and gave her about six months to live. She moved from California to Oregon to take advantage of that state's law and says she plans to end her life soon after her husband's October 26 birthday."
"I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don't deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to make that choice for me?"
Mrs. Maynard is going through an agonizing ordeal to which few people can truly relate. So this post is not about her in particular as much as it is about the moral issues that come to bear on her decision.
I recommend dividing this emotional issue into two distinct questions:
1. Do we have a right to commit suicide?
2. Should the government make it legal for doctors to help patients kill themselves?
Let’s start with the first question. You’ll notice I am using the frank language of “killing oneself” or “committing suicide.” The other side of this debate prefers euphemisms like “death with dignity” or “choice in dying," but that obscures the real issue.
Everyone agrees we should have a choice in “how” we die. By that I mean we should be able to choose where we die (in hospice, in a hospital, at home), who we want to stand by us as we end our mortal existence, and whether we will use treatment to delay or even indirectly hasten death.
But once again, do we have a right to commit suicide?
My Life, My Choice?
I think it’s clear we don’t have an unlimited right to kill ourselves. I live in San Diego where it’s not uncommon for people to try to commit suicide by jumping off the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. When that happens, and if there is time, the bridge is shut down, and the police try to talk the person out of what he is about to do. Indeed, whenever anyone threatens suicide, we usually expect the police to stop him. Why? After all, if you have an unlimited right to kill yourself, then the police shouldn’t stop you.
But the reason we forcibly stop these people is because we believe they are not thinking clearly, and they will regret their decision to kill themselves. That’s generally true, but even if they weren’t mentally disturbed we would still probably think their decision to commit suicide was irrational and try to stop them.
If the right to die were truly unlimited, the state would no more investigate a person’s motive to die than it investigates a person’s motives for marrying someone or conceiving a child, actions that also have permanent consequences (though not as grave as the consequences of suicide). The state would let people end their lives without scrutiny, just as it lets people have children or marry.
But since most people would consider the vast majority of reasons a person might give for ending his or her own life to be insufficient, it follows that there is no unlimited right to commit suicide.
Horn takes on common objections and the role of the state at the link.
I honestly believe the historic Catholic faith and I wish to proclaim it in its glorious fullness, and this includes the church’s moral teachings. I not only want to proclaim it, I want to live it, fool and failure that I am.
However, what I resent is the present assumption that if you wish to live and proclaim the fullness of Catholic doctrine, dogma and discipline then you must immediately be some sort of legalistic, harsh, unwelcoming, Pharisee.
It is assumed that you don’t have a sense of humor or humanity, that you are intentionally harsh and that you probably pull the wings of flies for fun.
No doubt there are some who wish to follow the fullness of the historic Catholic faith who lapse into Pharisaism, sober seriousness, legalism and downright ugliness. We’ve all met them. No doubt there are some who stumble into strict negativity and tumble into sour self righteousness. In their zeal for clarity of teaching they lose charity.
There are conservatives like that and guess what? There are progressives like that too–but the other way around. They are just as ugly, self righteous, seriously smug and judgmental as the conservatives they despise, and they are just as blind to their self righteousness as the other side. In their zeal for charity they lose the clarity of the faith.
A plague on both their houses.
We needn’t go there. We mustn’t go there. There is another way.
Read the whole thing. I did and and it's a personal roadmap of sorts for me... and probably, for others, something we who are passionate about our faith need to read and often.
On my way home tonight, I drove past a field filled with goats and few sheep.
I don’t know how familiar you are with them, but sheep aren’t all that bright. In fact, they’re pretty stupid and they can smell pretty bad especially if you get them wet. They’re also pretty docile, and tend to go along faithfully to wherever the shepherd leads them.
Goats, on the other hand, are clever but destructive. They will chew up and destroy everything in their path without much thought. They’re smarter than is probably good for them, and can get into all kinds of mischief if they’re not protected from themselves.
Know what Texans use to protect flocks from the outside world that wants to devour them?
Read the rest and find out... but allow me to say positive light is shed on jackasses which, as a special sort of jackass, is personally comforting.
Best advice I've seen yet for those whining about the happenings at the Family Synod comes our way via Jennifer Fitz:
If you find yourself stuck on the grumpy loop, rehashing over and again the failings of Cardinal Clueless or Father Frustrating, pray for him as if he were dying.
That’s right. Imagine your nemesis on his deathbed, about to face his eternal reward, and pray as if his very soul were at stake. If you are correct in perceiving just how far he has strayed from his vocation, then his eternal soul truly is in grave danger even now. And if you’ve somewhat over-imagined the peril, the poor man needs all the prayers he can get, what with having to put up with the likes of you.
Jennifer suggests that this prayer practice might come in handy for parish and family life too.
I remember well, when I was not attached to a particular faith tradition, when I was in essence denomination-less, church-less, yet still filled with a faith in God and the afterlife, how concerned I was with the notion that should I meet an untimely end, how there'd be a void, a hole if you will, as to the funeral and burial, as to the means by which my loved ones would say their goodbyes. It was disconcerting and, truth be known, a factor amongst numerous factors as to my motivations to link back up with a faith tradition.
Before I became Catholic several years ago, I had little exposure to Catholic funerals. As I have grown close to aging patients and walked with them in their last days, I have had the deep honor and privilege of attending a few such services and have found them profoundly moving and ennobling. I have been stirred to sadness, inspiration and reassurance by the deeply reverent, yet wonderfully human experience of celebrating the life and entrusting the soul of a friend to God. After having this experience, it was hard to resist learning more about the Catholic process of remembering and burying the dead. And thanks to Dick, his wife Sharon and their adult children Vince, Anne, Mary, Cathy and Julie, I have been forever changed by what I experienced.
There are three parts to what is called the Catholic Order of Christian Funerals. As my priest would describe it, it is one prayer with three parts: the Vigil, the Funeral Mass, & the Committal. For the sake of this piece, I would like to alter the names to better fit what I saw or heard: Keeping Watch, Nourishment, & Pilgrimage. It was holy and beautiful to behold.
I strongly urge the reading of the whole thing, particularly if, like me, you've reached an age when the thought of death becomes a tad more frequent and recurring.
The circumstances surrounding Dick's death in Tod's piece, the descriptions detailing the meaning of each of the three parts of the funeral, and the manner in which the family handled the entire thing, a handling that was clearly an outgrowth of their faith, is indeed holy and beautiful to behold.
A good number of folks don't set out to isolate themselves or alienate other Christians. It just sort of happens while they're busy doing other things. Maybe they get stuck on one aspect of their faith life and concentrate on it SO much that before they can really recognize what has happened, it's too late. They have built an accidental ivory tower. No one can get them down because they have been up there focusing so much on how the people trying to get them down from their tower are The Enemy Inc. Here are just a sampling of the different ways that Catholics are currently holding each other at arm's length:
1. By form of worship
2. By number of years in The Church
3. By level of education
4. By socioeconomic level
5. By sin proclivity
6. By age
7. By sex
8. By political leaning
9. By geographical location
10. By pet issue/ministry
There are many more, and I'm sure you, my friends, can help me add to this unfortunate list. I bet you also see one on this top ten that stings a bit. Maybe you have excluded someone, written someone off based on one or more of these. Maybe you yourself have been shut out or not heard or made to feel inferior or even "less Catholic" because of one or more of the above. My friends, do NOT allow yourself to be cast aside or made to feel any less a legitimate guest at the banquet because someone has chucked you based on one of these criteria. A Christian who is praying the Sinner's Prayer constantly will NOT do this to you, as he or she is too aware of his or her own failings and need for mercy.
More importantly, do not fall into the deep and wide trap of putting miles between you and another Catholic because of the above factors. Do not burn bridges. That is not our way. You will end up poorer for the decision if you determine that a fellow Christian is not up to snuff because of the type of Mass he attends, whether she is a convert or a cradle Catholic, or because he is a HE and you are a SHE. Don't say to yourself, "He can never understand the struggles of a mother." This is simply not true. Every man is the son of a mother, and can offer you unique insight into your vocation.
I have seen a number of well-read and "sophisticated" Catholics simply dismiss the comments of their plain speaking peers. I have seen avowed conservatives refuse to even engage a more liberal counterpart KINDLY. I have watched Catholics whose main ministry is fighting poverty completely discount anything said by a Catholic whose focus is fighting abortion. When did we forget that all the parts of the body have different jobs? That each operates independently but in harmony? That one needn't take away from the other?
Know also that for each category above, both sides are equally culpable in creating division and putting up walls that prevent true fellowship and productive dialogue. For every Catholic Christian who is saying and writing demeaning and dehumanizing generalizations about the poor, calling them lazy and implying that they are ruining the country, there is another Catholic Christian right behind him in line giving the opposite diatribe, making tasteless and insensitive jokes about the wealthy, assuming that anyone who has reached a certain level of material success is selfish and greedy and has not "died to self."
At the root of these examples is one common element: pride. Yep, the crown jewel of the seven deadlies. How so? Well, it's not hard to figure out, friends. We all begin so well.
I'm not particularly sure of the sinner's prayer to which Nicole refers but the following, which I understand is called the Jesus prayer, is one I've recently begun to pray in earnest and with great frequency:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.
Since local officials announced Ms. Pham’s positive test early on Sunday, the news has resonated through circles of friends who worked with Ms. Pham or studied nursing with her at Texas Christian University, and through the Vietnamese community in Fort Worth, where she grew up. In interviews and news reports, friends have described her as a compassionate and caring nurse who loved her job, was grounded by her Catholic faith and cherished her King Charles spaniel, Bentley, named for her old neighborhood.A Dallas city spokeswoman has said that the city would care for Ms. Pham’s dog.
In photos from friends and family and her now-deactivated Facebook account, Ms. Pham is invariably smiling — posing with a friend on a trip to Boston, sitting outside at a cafe or taking a selfie while her dog nuzzles her.
“She’s able to make friends in any setting, any scenario,” Ms. Joseph said. “She has a contagious laugh.”
The daughter of political refugees from Vietnam, she grew up in the Bentley Village subdivision of Fort Worth, in a large red-brick home that her family built in the mid-1990s, said a next-door neighbor, Jim Maness. Neighbors said that the family was exceedingly private and quiet.
Ms. Pham attended the accelerated nursing program at Texas Christian in Fort Worth, and graduated in 2010. Ashlee Mitchell said she bonded almost instantly with Ms. Pham in classes there. Not long after they met, she said, “we were best friends.”
Ms. Pham and her family were active at Our Lady of Fatima, a largely Vietnamese Roman Catholic church, said Tom Ha, the church’s education director. Because the family prizes its privacy, he said, congregants are meeting in small groups, rather than large gatherings, to pray for Ms. Pham. Christina Mykhanh Hoang, a church member, said Ms. Pham’s mother had simply asked friends “to continue to pray.”
Consider making her, and all victims of this disease and those involved in treating the sick and finding a cure, part of your daily prayer routine.
... why my conservative Catholic kinsmen are up in arms and claiming doom and gloom relating to the news coming out of the Family Synod today in Rome.
Lots of focus on the paragraphs of the Relatio having to do with homosexuality:
50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.
Apparently the 50th paragraph is causing serious heartburn amongst the brethren and I must be too simple-minded to understand why.
Compare those words with what's written in the Catechism (which was first published by Pope John Paul II in 1992:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
I think some of us need to take a deep breath.
This is not as earth shattering as some are portraying it.