“It is only the authentic peacemaker who can be persecuted… The true peacemaker understands that this work necessarily requires that they must be persecuted by a world that rejects the very notion of sin, and, by extension, the need for a Redeemer. At its core, this persecution is merely yet another face of the demonic. G.K. Chesterton saw this clearly. Toward the end of his life he wrote that in the final analysis the great ideological battles in the modern and post modern ages are not between the progressive and the traditionalist, the statist and the republican, the collectivist and the capitalist, but between the Catholic Church and Her enemies.” - Motherless, Brian Gail -
There’s a lot of bad news out there for Catholics who view the Church as the authentic vessel of Truth. Scientists are operating on animal-human hybrids (hey, but they’re going to do it ethically!), the country is heading for financial ruin (is it reversible at this point?), a panel of our “best” doctors says contraception ought to be provided for everyone (ignoring countless studies that suggest the opposite) – and the “catholic” secretary of Health and Human Services will no doubt sign off on the measure, a “catholic” governor pushes a redefinition of marriage through New York, law suits are already rolling in for those who choose to follow their consciences and not acknowledge such “marriages”, and the list could go on.
Before continuing, let me say here that while I focus on these sorts of stories on this blog, I very much am filled with a sense of hope – these stories do not tell the story of eternity. I wake up every morning thankful for another day, and I love being a priest. I love my family, I love my friends, and I love being a priest.
However, we as Catholics have that unique world view – we neither dissociate ourselves from the world, resigning ourselves to mountain top meditation, nor, on the other end of the spectrum, do we think that this world is the sum total of reality – prosperity on this earth does not always signal God’s favor, and suffering is not always without purpose.
As a priest, I feel a lot like Gandalf at the end of the Return of the King. He fights like Hell to save Gondor because it is important, and this world is worth fighting for, but, at the same time, as it appears the death blow to the city is about to fall, with a voice full of hope and excitement he assures Pippin that “No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... One that we all must take. The gray rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all change to silver glass. White shores... and beyond. The far green country under a swift sunrise.”
So we stand, and we fight, because the world is worth fighting for.
And the question that keeps coming me back to me in these days, especially to those “catholics” who choose for themselves what they like of Church teaching – do you not see the Church being persecuted, just as Jesus predicted?
And so I end with my original thought, a question I’d love the unorthodox “catholics” to answer – do you think we are one day going to be persecuted for helping the poor, for protesting the death penalty, or for pushing for the care of the environment (the trinity of social doctrine among those who despise Church teaching generally)? Do you think that one day there will be concentration camps for recyclers? (for the record, I am an avid recycler, help the poor, and protest the death penalty).
How do you not see what Chesterton saw? The Church is attacked on every side, and She is, quite clearly, the ONLY voice left fighting for the things she’s always been fighting for.
Those who so frequently espouse the “social doctrine of Jesus” while shedding all the rest of the moral instructions of the Church – what are you thinking – and do you really foresee a day where the persecution of the Church will be conducted based on those issues that you fight so passionately for, to the exclusion of what the Church considers concerns of the first order?
Pick up a sword, gird your loins, and join the battle for good. What if we stood for Truth as one Body of Christ? Answer – we would be able to say to the culture of death “May you be lifted up and be thrown into the sea,' and it will happen.” (Mat. 21:21)
Regarding the financial future of our economy, Dave Ramsey last week initiated "the Great Recovery". http://www.thegreatrecovery.com/live/ Any thoughts about this? Is the Catholic Church participating?ReplyDelete
I read your article and I want to take up your challenge: “And so I end with my original thought, a question I’d love the unorthodox “catholics” to answer – do you think we are one day going to be persecuted for helping the poor, for protesting the death penalty, or for pushing for the care of the environment (the trinity of social doctrine among those who despise Church teaching generally)? Do you think that one day there will be concentration camps for recyclers? (for the record, I am an avid recycler, help the poor, and protest the death penalty).”ReplyDelete
I do believe one day we will be persecuted for helping the poor. I know you are deeply concerned about human dignity with your defense of the right to life movement. At the same time, many would not share your concern with human dignity. Look at the way the homeless are treated in our cities. Youth kill or torture the homeless for fun. Look at the saints who defended the poor and the overall controversy they caused. Look at the saints who stood up for the slaves and their rights. And what about the rise of Nazi Germany (and the eugenics movement in our own country)?
I recently wrote a paper to present about Environmental Spirituality. In the paper I defend the need for good stewardship against those Christians who believe the second coming or the rapture removes any responsibility we have. I so often hear that the world is going to end anyway so why fix anything now? I argue that the environment is a channel by which God may manifest himself and yet authentic Christian spirituality requires God and the world to be distinct.
There is an interesting book I read a few years ago entitled “Torture and the Eucharist” which connected the torture of others with the Eucharist itself. I think you might enjoy it since it comes from a Radical Orthodoxy perspective than the typical liberal book. But look at the way people who work for peace and justice were treated in Latin America or in South Africa. What of the faithful who protest the destruction of the natural resources in the rainforest who seem to disappear or who live in fear? I think it may be easy for us to say that there is no concentration camp for recyclers here but what about people who stand up to exploitation where only a few people are able to profit at the expense of the vast majority of people and the destruction/exploitation of their natural resources?
I do not want to confine Catholic teaching only to issues of social justice. I continually teach the Trinity and the Incarnation as these are the central truths of our faith. But that also means that the “traditional catholics” must be challenged since their truths may not be as central as they want. At the same time, I want no kind of orthodoxy that would stand by preaching Jesus while the Body of Christ is killed. These are the thoughts of one “unorthodox ‘catholic’” which can be challenged or refuted by others with greater zeal, knowledge, and orthodoxy.
Thanks for your thoughts - I think there are areas of the world where people are persecuted for such things. I guess my reflection was directed to Americans and first world folk trying to get people to realize where the persecution is at for Christians today in the first world.ReplyDelete