It's one thing in my view to suggest there are serious problems with what social programs today have become, a suggestion to which I'd nod my head in agreement more times than I wouldn't. The ineptness, the corruption, the dependencies created are all reasons for reform but should social programs go away entirely? Are they in fact, sinful?
The Church has been skeptical of the growth of the welfare state over time. In Centesimus Annus, John Paul II criticized the welfare state on the grounds that it usurped what is properly reserved to individuals, families, and local communities. This criticism is often invoked not only as a sort of final word for Catholics on welfare, but also as an endorsement of a laissez-faire approach to social and economic issues.
But John Paul II goes on to make two things quite clear: first, that the modern welfare state that he’s criticizing does not constitute a blanket condemnation of all welfare policies, especially of the sort initially promoted by Bismarck or even the American liberals of the 1930s. Second, in keeping with Pius XI, he argues that individualism is not the antidote to excessive statism but is in fact another force as hostile to the notion of solidarity and charity as the welfare state is to the principle of subsidiarity.
As he writes:
The individual today is often suffocated between two poles represented by the State and the marketplace. At times it seems as though he exists only as a producer and consumer of goods, or as an object of State administration. People lose sight of the fact that life in society has neither the market nor the State as its final purpose, since life itself has a unique value which the State and the market must serve.
Given all of this, I sometimes wonder about the blanket conservative rejection of the welfare state. If charity is superior to welfare, why is it not more widely practiced to the point where welfare would be entirely superfluous? Is it because people assume that there is a welfare state to take care of problems they would love to take care of themselves through their own charitable donations, but see no need to? Or is it because the atomization of society through the operations of an amoral marketplace has created a society that, to use John Paul II’s term, has become “personalized”? If charity is not forthcoming from a society of individualistic consumers, how else are the poor and desperate to find the relief they need?
I am not an ardent supporter of the welfare state, insofar as it treads upon those areas of social life that would violate the principle of subsidiary. At the same time, however, there are certain needs and rights that would not be met even in the minimum if all state assistance were to dry up tomorrow. It often appears to those of us who support at least some welfare provisions that those who oppose them in an angry, categoricalsense are simply concerned about their own bank accounts, forgetting entirely the Christian teaching (in both Scripture and Tradition) about the nature and purpose of wealth. It was summarized by Pius XI:
[A] person’s superfluous income, that is, income which he does not need to sustain life fittingly and with dignity, is not left wholly to his own free determination. Rather the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church constantly declare in the most explicit language that the rich are bound by a very grave precept to practice almsgiving, beneficence, and munificence.
One may legitimately ask whether the government should play any role in seeing that a person uses his extra income as it ought to be used. The idea of “forced charity” is a contradiction in terms. However, how can we ever ensure that charity is actually performed without admonishing the sinner? Far from admonishing, there are many who lavish endless praise on the excessively wealthy and appear more concerned with safeguarding their money than with the condition of the poor or the integrity of society. What the wealthy do with their money is often of far less concern to them than whether or not a poor person harbors an envious thought towards them. These priorities are skewed.
Distributism in the Aristotelian and Catholic tradition is the answer to the twin evils of consumerist selfishness and isolation, as well as over-dependence on a powerful government. It is the key to regenerating the community and its economy, strengthening the position of the family, creating a local infrastructure to support a Culture of Life, and better managing the wild swings of the global marketplace.
When it leads to dependence, laziness, and the usurpation of the legitimate role of local institutions, welfare is indeed both harmful and sinful. But if through wise policies it can be made to strengthen those institutions and make them more competent in their tasks, then complaints about redistribution of excessive wealth — clearly understood as wealth beyond what one needs to maintain a dignified life — ring hollow. Such policies in truth ask so little and promise so much that it would be irrational not to try them.
In the end there is no difference between the conservative who wants total freedom with respect to wealth and the liberal who wants the same with respect to sexuality. Both argue that society shouldn’t use coercion to ensure a moral result in the area of life where they would like freedom to sin. Both are sure that while God would insist that one be regulated by the secular authorities, the other is left to personal conscience. While abortion is a more grave matter than clinging to personal wealth, the same flawed argument is used to defend it: It’s my body, it’s my wealth, it’s my property. But all things belong to God, be they children or wealth, and are merely entrusted to us to be used for the common good.
Hargrave's piece is worth reading in its entirety, particularly for the faithful Catholic, the serious Christian, the committed believer. It's an interesting and much needed perspective, one that should become part of any debate focused on government social programs and the need for welfare, particularly as the Presidential race heats up.
Decisions and resolutions taken during an enthusiastic moment mean little unless tested by time and by waiting. The immediate request for places on the right and left side of the kingdom by James and John he ordered tested by the ability to bear sacrifice and to drink the cup of His Passion and Crucifixion. When after multiplying the bread, the multitude wished to make him a bread king, Our Lord fled into the mountains alone. It is always a good policy never to choose the most enthusiastic person in a gathering as a leader. Wait to see how much wood there is for the flame.”
Two items I came across today, both of which shed some much needed light on Scripture and its authority.
First up, Fr. Kenneth Tanner, an FB friend and priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church:
Look, I get it. I understand. Some folks are looking to diminish Scripture because of a disposition that rejects central Christian teachings but it does not help to put the Bible instead of Jesus at the center of faith and practice if we want to foster belief and strengthen discipleship.
The OT was translated into Greek during the three centuries leading up to Jesus. This is the collection that Jesus and the apostles called "the Scriptures" in the gospels and epistles. The NT did not exist as a collected body of canonically-received texts until 300 years after Christ.
And (just for kicks) many Christians don't include some of the OT books that were in the collection the apostles used.
For 15 centuries *after* the resurrection the vast majority of Christ followers could not read Hebrew, Greek, or Latin. Most had access to only portions of what we now call "the Bible" and heard most of the Scripture that they heard in the context of worship.
These are centuries of martyrdom and deep Christian commitment, of amazing expansion of the faith--all with an at best partially-available Bible.
Even with the invention of the printing press and the translation of Scripture into languages that the ordinary man or woman could read, most Christians were still illiterate and only wealthy families could afford a complete Bible.
Not until the mid-1900s did it become commonplace for the average American to have ready access to a comprehendible version of the Bible at an affordable price.
Yes, some memorized portions of the Scriptures in earlier oral cultures but it was also the liturgy, the prayers, the icons, the sacraments, and the preachers and teachers of the church that were the conduits by which the faith was instilled in most disciples.
The Scriptures were revered but these first Christians also understood the very-human-yet-Spirit-guided process by which they came to have the texts, especially as a collection. The Bible was available because of the church.
Many contemporary Christians more or less imagine that the book they hold in their hands dropped out of heaven from God like (if you believe it) the Book of Mormon or the Koran.
It's not until the last 200 years or so that the Bible--as the collection we have today--has been widely available in the homes of Christ followers and only then in the industrialized West.
Today there are still millions of Christians worldwide that do not have access to a personal bible and yet our faith thrives...not because we have a magic book but because by the power of the Spirit the risen presence of Jesus Christ makes the Father's love known everywhere.
We have to become honest about this. The Bible was never meant to bear the weight it does for some of us apart from the church as the people of God, in whom the resurrected Christ dwells, and of the Eucharistic sacrament as the presence of Jesus himself.
And C.S. Lewis is right: possession of the book does not guarantee that one is reading it well or getting out of it what the Spirit intends: the reality of Jesus as the highest revelation of God *and* of man.
A Bible that is not read with guidance from the Spirit-bearing teachers who wrote, preserved and collected it in the first centuries after Jesus nor read without the aid of Christians down the ages right up to this moment (who by the Spirit have rightly divided it) is a flat-out dangerous book.
We do not worship the Bible but the God who is revealed in the world-altering actions whereby he loved Israel and expanded his promises to all humanity in Jesus Christ.
Before any page of the Old Testament was written there were first personal encounters with the living God by humans and then, in Jesus Christ, personal encounters of the living God as one of us. All of these experiences of the living God are, as all experiences are, first order knowledge.
By the Spirit that leads the people of God into all truth the Scriptures can become anamnesis--not a mere memory of the saving events but a participation in them, a participation in Jesus Christ.
That's an excellent exposition of what I see to be a most Catholic perspective on the good book. From a priest who's part of the Charismatic Episcopal Church no less. Excellent.
And here's another, this one from a Catholic, that takes us to a deeper level:
The Bible is your best tool for sharing the Catholic faith with non-Catholics. Your shared love, your mutual recognition of its inspiration and submission to its authority, make the Bible a great starting point.
But read the Bible with the Church. Do not share your interpretation or your perspective with non-Catholics. Share the interpretation of the Catholic Church. The Bible is, after all, her book. Because of the Catholic Church we know that Paul’s second letter to Timothy is a legitimate part of the Bible, and in that letter Paul says that Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). By “useful” Paul means that Scripture is to be used.
Non-Catholics would contend that the Bible is sufficient on its own apart from the Magisterium. But of what use is an unsinkable ship if the crew cannot agree about the helm, the sails, the captain, the means of navigation, and where they are going? Of what use is an infallible text without an infallible interpretation?
If sola scriptura were true, why were the apostles and evangelists and church fathers unaware of this supposed doctrine? Jesus did not promise his followers that someday—hundreds of years after his ascension—a collection of texts would be faithfully (infallibly?) canonized and accurately (infallibly?) copied and translated so that after the invention of the printing press this book could lay open on any literate (infallible?) person’s lap as the pillar and foundation of the truth. No, Jesus established the apostolic Church to finish his mission of proclaiming the truth (Matt. 16:17-19; Luke 10:16; John 16:13; 17:20; 20:21-23; Acts 1:20). According to the Bible, the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Written by Catholics for Catholics, canonized by Catholics, translated and preserved by Catholics, the Bible is the Catholic Church’s book.
Two very solid explanations of how to see the good book.
There continues to be much buzz in the 'sphere and in social media about Pope Francis and his strong criticism of free markets and capitalist economies. It's easy to dismiss the rabid who are quick to launch ad hominems and insults against him, the modus operandi employed revealing effectively their moral bankruptcy.
But there are those who, though restrained in the manner chosen to voice their critiques, are nevertheless increasingly troubled by what it is this Pope is saying. It is to these reasonable yet concerned people that Fr. Robert Barron speaks, as only he can, in this much needed video put out by the Word On Fire team:
Excellent stuff, as usual, from Fr. Barron who's making a trek to a local church here in a few weeks as one of a number of speakers headlining for the Bishop Keane Institute. I've already bought my tickets and look forward big time to his talk.
It was with enormous surprise that I received word of my appointment as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, but it is with a humble and joyful heart that I accept it. The Church of Los Angeles—the most populous in the United States—is energetic, diverse, and creative. Over the years, I’ve visited many times, including multiple trips to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim; most recently, I was in the Archdiocese for a lecture at Thomas Aquinas College. So though I can’t claim to know it well, I have been able to taste and see some of its richness.
The late Francis Cardinal George—the spiritual grandfather of Word on Fire—was a mentor and friend to me. The mission closest to his heart was the evangelization of the culture, bringing Christ to the arenas of media, politics, law, education, the arts, etc. I can’t think of a more exciting field for this sort of work than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centers of our time.
I hope this means we'll be hearing more, and not less, from this good man.
I have encountered many who see Catholicism to be not only wrong in its theology but to in fact be a cult, a false faith, something to not only eschew but to rail against for promulgating idolatry, blasphemy and cultish beliefs.
My experience has been that these folks are less interested in seeking truth and more interested in proving to the world that they are right (particularly when their wrongness would chip away at foundational or core ideological, rather than faithful, beliefs).
A Facebook source led me to a page titled “Questions for Roman Catholics”, by Matt Slick of the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. “The responses [I get],” Slick states, “vary from defensive tradition to ignoring them and hoping to go away. Some of the questions are easier for Roman Catholics to respond to, and others are not. I hope that these might be helpful in your dialogs with the Roman Catholics as you try to present to them the true and saving gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Well, it depends on the context in which Slick presents the questions; some are pretty intrusive. But overall, some of the questions are no-brainers, some misrepresent Catholic doctrine to some extent, and some just show how little Slick himself understands what he’s attacking. The overall presentation is supposed to lead the Catholic to question his faith and the Church. But it’s by no means an infallible (*ahem!*) wrecking ball. Here I present it with fearful fidelity, including Slick’s misspellings, along with the answers. (Note: Questions rendered irrelevant by the answer to a previous question — or, in the case of the oral tradition questions, based on a fallacious notion — are presented in strikeouts.)
When Jesus instituted the supper, he had not yet been crucified. How then was the Eucharist his crucified body and blood? The same way the Eucharist becomes his crucified Body and Blood at the Mass: Through the power of God. Time is a property of the universe; God, as Creator of the Universe, is not part of it, and therefore not constrained by the sequentialism time imposes.
If, as the Roman Catholic Church teaches, that the Eucharist Wine is the literal blood of Christ, then how is that not violating the Old Testament law against drinking the blood of any flesh (Lev. 17:14)? Because the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood (cf. Jn 6:53-58) is part of the New Covenant, which supersedes the Old Covenant. Moreover, Christians are not justified by the Law of Moses; invoking it as binding on Christians, therefore, indirectly rejects the salvific work of the Cross, as St. Paul argued inGalatians 5:4.
How is it possible for the Eucharist to be the actualy [sic] body and blood of Christ if, by definition, a human body is only in one place at one time as Jesus' body was in the incarnation, especially when you realize that Jesus is still a man (1 Tim. 2:5; Col. 2:9). Error: Jesus is not “still a man”; he was and is both man and God (cf. Jn 1:1, 10:30-33; Col 2:9). Mark 10:27: “... [F]or all things are possible with God.” Again, as argued in Q.1, God is not constrained by temporality or the sequentialism it imposes.
The Roman Catholic Church says that individuals are not allowed to interpret the Bible, but that they must submit to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. How then can you know if the Catholic Church is correct if you can't check it against Scripture? Remember, Paul praised the Bereans [sic] for checking even what he said against Scripture (Acts 17:11). Here is a simple conditional which can’t be safely contradicted: If the Holy Spirit guides the Church (Jn 14:26, 16:13), and the Holy Spirit is reliable because God is trustworthy (Rom 3:34; 2 Tim 2:13), then it logically follows that the Church is reliable … or, as we say, infallible. If, however, the Church cannot be reliable, why then, either the Holy Spirit does not lead the Church or the Holy Spirit is not reliable: either answer contradicts Scripture, and impugns the fidelity of God to boot. Merely possessing a Bible doesn’t make one an expert in hermeneutics.
Does the phrase "let each man be convinced his own mind" (Romans 14:5) mean that a person is able to look at the Scriptures and be fully convinced according to what he sees it says? If not, why not? No, it doesn’t; this is an out-of-context fallacy, one of the great dangers of “proof-texting”. When read in context,Romans 14:5-9 merely says that one can pursue a holy life by many ways, some of which can be in opposition to others. It does not support a do-it-yourself interpretation of Scripture.
If the phrase "let each man before he convinced his own mind" means that he is able to interpret Scripture on his own, what does he do if he believes what he sees in Scripture contradicts the Roman Catholic Church's teaching?
If the phrase "let each man before he convinced his own mind" means that he is able to interpret Scripture on his own, then doesn't that contradict the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church which denies you the right to interpret God's word regarding faith, morals, and doctrine in a manner inconsistent with what it proclaims?
How many verses has the Roman Catholic Church officially, infallibly interpreted? It is extremely low. How then do you know what is actually correct? Because of the trustworthiness of the Holy Spirit which guides the Church, as answered in Q.4. Besides the dubiousness of the assertion that the number of verses which the Church has “officially, infallibly interpreted” is “extremely low”, even when interpretations and doctrine aren’t proposed definitively, the doctrine of the ordinary infallibility of the Church holds that such teachings are protected from error, and are to be given the assent of faith. (See CCC 892)
Mr. Layne goes on to cover topics such as Christ Himself, His Mother (and our Mother) Mary, Oral Tradition, Prayer, Salvation and Scripture. It's good and enlightening stuff, well worth bookmarking for reference later.
With the headline of this post alone, I've probably lost a vast number of knee-jerkers who'll not hear a tid-bit of anything that goes against what they perceive this Pope to be. He is, in their eyes, a de facto Marxist and no amount of substance to the contrary will budge them from their cemented (and demented) perspective.
This post is not aimed at that level of ignorance. Someone much smarter than I once proclaimed the folly of fixing stupid and I've learned, albeit slowly, to not make the attempt.
This is aimed instead at people who while wincing at the Pope's economic critiques are open to the notion that there might be solid reasons for his frequent harangues. Doing the aiming for us is Tim Hoopes over at Aleteia:
In their book Good Capitalism/Bad Capitalism William J. Baumol, Robert E. Litan, and Carl J. Schramm point out that there are four capitalist systems.
One is oligarchic capitalism—where the upper class gets capitalism and the lower classes get the shaft. This was the capitalism Pope Francis saw in Argentina, and he lived through the Great Depression that it sparked there. He hates it, and so should we.
Another is state-guided capitalism: This is the capitalism of China or Dubai—and, increasingly, of the West, where as Alisdair McIntyre put it, “What we confront today is a new leviathan: the state and market in a monstrous amalgam.” This is the system that marries corporate greed to government greed to our ruin, according to Francis.
Another capitalism is “Big Firm Capitalism.” This predominates in America, and Pope Francis specifically criticizes it, using the example of large firms crowding out small farming, hunting and fishing (No. 129) and diminishes us all: “This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume,” he writes (No. 203). “But those really free are the minority who wield economic and financial power.”
The fourth kind of capitalism is Entrepreneurial Capitalism—the “business creativity” which Pope Francis praises and the subject of much economic thought recently, often using the moniker “think small.”
This is an economy that puts people in the first place, and values products by how they create real value in customers’ lives. What would this kind of economy look like? I think the old parable of the investment banker and Mexican fisherman sheds some light on the question.
The story goes like this: An Investment banker is vacationing in Mexico when he sees a fisherman pulling his boat onto shore in the late morning. “You fish for a living?” he asks. “Tell me, what’s your typical day like?”
“I wake up late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs,” he says.
The investment banker scoffs and offers him some advice: “You should start by fishing longer every day. Catch and sell extra fish, and buy a bigger boat. That means more fish and more money and you can keep adding trawlers until you have a fleet. Forget selling to the merchants in town. Get a contract with the processing plants in the city. Then you can leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York. In 10 to 20 years you can take your company public and make millions.”
“And after that?” asks the fisherman.
“After that you’ll be able to retire and live the good life. You can live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings playing guitar and drinking with your friends!”
Which man’s world do we live in? Which would we rather live in?
To fill out the story, you can imagine the “throwaway culture” the banker or the fisher-CEO would have to embrace to live his lifestyle: The international trips, the hotel stays, eating on the run, the damage to his family relationships and the relentless search for solace in entertainment.
As Pope Francis put it, “a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption” (No. 50).
Pope Francis does not reject capitalism—but he does reject the current system where some get rich off of speculation, while the rest of us live, rest and recreate in order to be better wage slaves for our god Mammon while suffering epidemic levels of anxiety-related disorders—or line up in government offices as de facto wards of the state.
You who are reasonable and thoughtful and who are still reading I hope will seriously munch on Mr. Hoopes words and inwardly digest them.
Disagreeing with the Pope on this is allowable of course but at least you get a better sense of what he's critiquing and what he's proposing while seeing that it's all quite Catholic and not Marxist.
The comments of [Archbishop Allen] Vigneron and Edward Peters, who teaches Catholic canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, are part of a polarizing discussion about gay marriage that echoes debate over whether politicians who advocate abortion rights should receive Communion.
In a post on his blog last week, Peters said that Catholic teachings make it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, "Catholics who promote 'same-sex marriage' act contrary to" Catholic law "and should not approach for holy Communion," he wrote. "They also risk having holy Communion withheld from them ... being rebuked and/or being sanctioned."
Peters didn't specify a Catholic politician or public figure in his post. But he told the Free Press that a person's "public efforts to change society's definition of marriage ... amount to committing objectively wrong actions."
Peters, an attorney who holds the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 to be a referendary of the Apostolic Sinatura, which means he helps advise the top judicial authority in the Catholic Church. Peters' blog, "In Light of the Law," is popular among Catholic experts, but not everyone agrees with his traditional views.
Last month, Vigneron said at a news conference that maintaining views that oppose abortion and support traditional marriage are important for Catholics.
"Were we to abandon them, we would be like physicians who didn't tell their patients that certain forms of behavior are not really in their best interest," said Vigneron, who oversees 1.3 million Catholics in southeastern Michigan.
Asked by the Free Press about Catholics who publicly advocate for gay marriage and receive Communion, Vigneron said Sunday: "For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: 'I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.' In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one's integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."
Vigneron said the church wants to help Catholics "avoid this personal disaster."
It is a thousand times easier for a person to say and admit their religion is COMPLETELY WRONG, rather than to say and admit that their thinking and their life is WRONG.
It is much easier for a person to abandon their religion rather than their EGO, and they are always looking for a religion that does not jeopardize their EGO.
Profoundly counter cultural but necessary thinking there. And true. Completely. And sadly.
The final related piece is one that faithful Catholics (and those interested in faithful Catholicism) should particularly bookmark. It's a comprehensive, and that's an understatement, post put up by Leila Miller at Little Catholic Bubble that covers this topic most widely and deeply. Take a good gander at what she's put together. If you're looking for solidly Catholic pieces on the issues of gay marriage and same sex attraction, Leila's post is your go to place.
I was having lunch recently with family when someone mentioned being friends with a Christian who had made the decision to never make waves, who refused to give opinions, who thought it best in these divisive times to not in any way engage so that they could avoid controversy. The person relaying this to the rest of us clearly was seeing this friend's non-engagement as something virtuous.
I don't particularly remember my response but do remember making the conscious, and in hindsight cowardly, decision to not say what I was actually thinking.
There is a false, unbiblical notion of Jesus that emphasizes and isolates some of his teachings and traits, while excluding others. Hence there are many who reduce Jesus’ moral teaching to a vague notion that we should be nice and try to get along. This not only simplifies Jesus — it trivializes him.
Jesus, in describing his own ministry and why he was hated so irrationally that even Pontius Pilate had to marvel, said to Pilate: The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me (Jn 18:37). Pilate scoffed, of course, and like a 21st century secular or libertine, said, “Truth! What is that?”
But there is something funny about the truth. The opposite of the truth is not just less meaningful, or just another opinion. The opposite of true, is false. Truth has a way of dividing. It will not abide competitors. That Jesus is Lord, is true. Anything different from this is not just less meaningful or someone else’s view — it is false.
Jesus says, “I am the truth” (Jn 14:6). As such he cannot be reduced to a harmless hippie going about speaking of love and inclusion. Did he speak of these things? Surely. But he also summoned us to a choice for him or against him. To choose for him was to be saved; to choose against him was to be condemned. The same Jesus who said, “Love one another” (Jn 13:34) also said, Unless you come to believe that I AM, you will die in your sins (Jn 8:24).
In times like these we are going to have to recover a healthy sense that Jesus not only unites many in his truth, but he also divides and distinguishes by that same truth. Myopic and wistful notions that Jesus want us to be nice and get along cannot supersede his command that we love him and put faith in his truth, even if it means our own family disowns us or is “offended” by us.
In this sense Jesus did not come to “unite” in some merely sociological sense. He came to distinguish his true followers from those who actually follow the world or Satan.
Once the Truth comes into the world, what is false must be rejected. Once the Light has come into the world, the darkness must be called by its proper names: confusion and obscurity. Once the Way has come into this world all other paths are excluded and lead only to Hell. Fr. Robert Barron says well and artfully: “Jesus compels a choice.” We are free to choose, but we must choose. Tertium non datur (no third way is given)!
Yes, in times like these we are going to have to recover notions that Jesus will divide, even as he seeks to unite us in the truth. We cannot go on clinging to a “Hallmark card theology” of pleasantries about getting along and being “nice.” Jesus did not end up before Pilate and nailed to cross by soft-pedaling the truth.
The Truth divides. And some of the divisions are very uncomfortable, reaching right into our families. There are going to be “weddings” we should not attend, gatherings we must refuse, affiliations that must end, affirmations we should not give, confrontations we must make, and silence that is no longer tolerable (if it ever was tolerable).
Indeed, we have gone on too long remaining silent — even approving — while sons and daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends cohabitated, stopped attending Mass, got divorced and remarried and engaged in any number of other immoral and questionable practices.
We thought being quiet would bring peace. It did not. Compromises with the world and the devil do not bring peace but only demands for further concessions and compromises. At the end of the process we are silent, dead in our sins, and the world and the devil just have more victims. This mess we are in today happened on our watch. We who should be prophets are left shaking our heads and wondering how it got so bad. No real mystery here: silent pulpits, silent dinner tables, and suing for a false “peace in our times.”
Somewhere we bought into a notion of a fake Jesus, a harmless hippie who just wanted us to be nice and get along. But that Jesus would never have ended up before the Sanhedrin, or Pilate, or on a cross. The fake Jesus would not have had enemies at all. The fake Jesus would never have many who left him and would no longer follow him because of his teaching on the Eucharist (John 6) or marriage (Matthew 19), or his own divinity (John 8). The fake Jesus is loved by the world because the fake Jesus’ is of this world.
But the true Jesus stood accused before Pilate, and was condemned to die by a world that hated him because he was not of the world.
That is hard, dare I say brutal, honesty and well worth reading in its entirety.
I should have the courage of taking Msgr. Pope's piece and passing it along to the person with the silent Christian friend.
I really should. God grant me the opportunity... and the courage.