Marriage Defenders: Part 2 of 2

jbap

A friend of mine who is a beautiful wife and mother of seven children was in a supermarket this week.  A 50 year old man stopped her and then sarcastically asked her if she knew what “caused” having seven kids. She texted me about this and then added her and her husband’s thoughts on this:

Some days the world just wears you down and a part of you starts to feel like maybe you are a freak. Not just about having a lot of kids, but about everything. And then you realize you need to spend some time in adoration and start to once again see life through Jesus’ eyes and not the world’s. The world is so blind and hard-hearted that what is beautiful and sacred just can’t be comprehended by it.

Why is the world so hard-hearted to Christians today?

As I said earlier, it’s not because we’re being hateful on issues of sexuality.  So why do Catholics constantly get mocked for following Christ and His Church in the silence of their homes?  Is it because they’re secretly judging their neighbors and everyone feels it?  Maybe…but I think today’s feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist can shed light on the psychology of the conviction of conscience.

Now, there’s a lot of Herods in the Bible but I want to consider Herod Antipas (20 BC-AD 40), the tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea.  He’s the one who mocked Jesus before His execution. He’s also the one who ordered John the Baptist’s death for having spoken out against his adulterous relationship.

Now, most Bible movies do a pretty good job at capturing the love/hate relationship between Herod and the Baptist because of this one very rich line in the Gospel: “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.”—Mark 6:20

I believe it was Earnest Hemingway, an unbeliever, who liked to travel the Deep South of the USA and listen to fire and brimstone homilies in Baptist Churches. Apparently it made him feel alive, or at least he heard these homilies “gladly.”  This curiosity was also found in Herod.

But of the 2.5 million people populating first century Palestine, why would a somewhat-powerful governor like Herod move beyond curiosity towards the murder of a homeless man who had been calling him out for living with his brother’s wife?   I mean, really—2.5 million people are silent about his adultery, and then one guy who is half-dressed in skins and eating crickets calls this magistrate out for a sexual sin many miles away on the Jordan River and Herod panics? What exactly got under Herod’s skin? Or better, what gets under Herodias‘ skin? The answer is that they secretly recognize John the Baptist as the mouthpiece of the one, true God they are running from.

As I wrote in a post called Mercy Killing of Consciences:
You see, if the final exterior agent of traditional Judeo-Christian belief (the Catholic Church) reflects the interior-but-objective, flickering, dying pilot light of your conscience that you’re trying to kill, then the Catholic Church is the one thing that is keeping your conscience alive…and you hate it. This is because long before rules were found in the catechism, they were found in your heart.

I know John the Baptist wasn’t a baptized Catholic, but killing John the Baptist was Herod trying to kill his own conscience, for Herod’s conscience was not created by Herod-himself in a relativistic way, but by God-Himself in an objective way.

That’s why Obama wants to stop the Little Sisters of the Poor in the HHS mandate .  That’s why a 50 year old man in a supermarket harasses a young mother of seven.  Both bullies know that that’s how they should have lived.  If  you think this is an exaggeration, then what other explanation would there be for them to go out of their way?  It has to be personal conviction of conscience at how others silently live their lives for God:

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us, and opposes our actions…the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.”—Wisdom 2:12a, 15

I don’t know that supermarket stalker’s past, but statistically an American man of his age has already paid for one to two abortions, not to mention one or two dozen dead children from several decades of abortifacient-pills-induced sex.  I don’t know this guy’s conscience, heart or past, but I’m just saying statistically this is the truth for an American male of his age.  (Do the math if you want.)  Of course he’s going to feel convicted by a Catholic woman who lived the way he should have.  His conviction came out as sarcasm.  Herodias’ came out as murder.

There’s only one truth of how humans should live, and it’s entirely found in the Catholic Church, so we should probably stop apologizing so much.  Yes, it’s true that we Catholics lost a lot of credibility in the priest scandals of the past 50 years that destroyed so many lives, and for that we do need to keep apologizing.  But the Truth remains on walking billboards like my friend in the supermarket.  She and many others are heroes and white martyrs of marriage, like John the Baptist was a hero of marriage carrying his red martyrdom in the picture above.  They’re both formidable Marriage Defenders:  one married, and one celibate.

I wasn’t so clear on this at first.  Yesterday, I texted my friend back that I would have punched that a** in the face if I had been there in King Soopers.

gun

Later, I realized that creeping behind that broken old creeper’s sarcasm was probably a hunger and even sadness for the family he had contracepted away.  In the face of such brokenness and/or hostility (only God knows) it can still make us wonder how to act.  Here’s my suggestion: Catholics are not called to act like weird-o-cult people who act strange in order to appear holy.  But we are called to live normal, fun lives in a way that seeks Christ fully, especially in the Eucharist and in the daily Rosary.  Doing simply that may make others say of us:  “The very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others.”

Once we boldly but humbly accept the fact that our manner of life is unlike that of others, then it’s easy “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”—Titus 3:2-5

Marriage Defenders: Part 1 of 2

The_Ladder_of_Divine_Ascent_Monastery_of_St_Catherine_Sinai_12th_century

The reason why the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox hesitantly accept divorce and remarriage today can be traced back to a 9th century synod, where Greece had a pre-emptive episode of England’s Henry VIII’s libido issues. In fact, the Greek bishops of the 9th century held a synod to recognize the legitimacy of the emperor Constantine’s second marriage. A Greek monk, St. Theodore, stood alone in the breach, calling this synod the “Adultery-Synod,” moecho-synodus in Greek. Like history that would be repeated seven hundred years later in England with Henry VIII versus St. Thomas More, the Greek bishops and the emperor stood behind the synod of adultery, not behind the saint.

St. Theodore the Studite was also a champion in speaking against slavery and iconoclasm (removing pictures from Churches.) But in upholding traditional marriage, he suffered the most. He was whipped, imprisoned and exiled away from his monastery. The saint not only blew the whistle on the emperor, but also on those priests who gave silent consent to his sin. St. Theodore said that in “crowning adultery, the priest, Giuseppe, is in opposition to the teachings of Christ and has violated the law of God.”  Roberto de Mattei remarks that “for Theodore, the Patriarch Tarasios had likewise to be condemned, since, even if not approving the new marriage, he showed himself tolerant of it, thus avoiding the Emperor’s excommunication and the priest Giuseppe’s punishment.”

St. Theodore simply stood by Jesus Christ who said:  “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”—Luke 16:18

Before applying this to the upcoming synod, I want to consider an important question of Catholic morality:  When a monk-saint quotes Scripture against his own bishops, how is this different from Martin Luther? If both used the Bible-alone for morality, then how could it be true that one died a heretic and the other a saint? Indeed, even the 1983 Code of Canon Law says “Christ’s faithful are bound to adhere, with a religious submission of mind, to this authentic magisterium of their Bishops.”—Can 753.  Where do we draw the line as Catholics?

Before getting to the answer, I want to further build up my argument against St. Theodore. Orthodox and Catholic theologies rightly consider the transmission of truth to flow through the hierarchy of the Church (Bishops to Priests to Laity.) This is a reflection of the hierarchy of truth given through the 9 choirs of angels (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, etc.) This hierarchy of communication should not be broken. This is how Orthodox and Catholics are different from Protestants: The order of hierarchies is not to be considered clericalist, but angelic.

For humans, the true interpretation of Sacred Scripture comes from God through the bishops through the priests through the parents to the children. This is how catechesis should work. Notice this beautiful cascading down of the truth.  Similarly, within the angelic choirs’ hierarchy, there is a cascading-down of truth, but it is a non-verbal, angelic illumination: The angels who are closest to God, the Seraphim, communicate down to the Cherubim and likewise to the Thrones to the Dominations to the Powers to the Principalities to the Archangels to the Angels to finally the angels’ work in our lives on earth. (Notice that the highest angels do nothing but contemplation and the lowest angels deal with measly human affairs.)

In any case, besides the hierarchy of the transmission of truth among the angels revealing the perversity of a Sola-Scriptura-interpretation of Divine Revelation, there is the positive and beautiful call to an order of obedience to the hierarchy in this transmission of truth in both communities—on earth and in heaven. This obedience of low angels to high angels was never violated.

Except for once—now my counterargument—when St. Michael the Archangel himself attacked Lucifer for placing himself above God Almighty. During the great angelic battle in heaven (Rev 12:7), the military ranks were indeed broken and God blessed the lower angel reminding the disobedient higher angel that no one is like God (מיכאל, Mi-cha-El? Who is like God?) Not even the Seraphim are like God.

Not even the bishops. Martin Luther broke rank against the bishops to begin a mutiny against Divine Revelation on marriage. St. Theodore the Studite broke rank against the bishops to end a mutiny against Divine Revelation of Marriage. Actually, Theodore never broke rank. He essentially said Who is like God’s Divine Revelation on the indissolubility of a sacramental marriage. Even in this, Theodore obeyed the Church hierarchy who supported the Emperors who threw him into exile three times. He never started a new “Church.” Theodore suffered within the Church—not without in schism—all for the sake of the truth. Holy Orders must be honored, but still Theodore gave primacy of place to God: No synod can change the truth of the Gospels and the traditional Magisterium.

People often say that the sensus fidei (sense of the faithful on doctrinal issues) is infallible, implying that we need a democratic vote of doctrines like contraception. Bishop Morlino of Madison wonderfully answers these people by reminding them that the infallibility of sensus fidei actually includes not only those Catholics alive, but also those dead: the billions of Catholics who have gone before these dark days, who held firm to the truths of the Gospel (or at least tried to, an important attraction to the Divine Mercy of Our Redeemer.)

Speaking of ancestors, all four of my mother’s grandparents relocated in the early 20th century from Counties Mayo and Roscommon, Ireland to the South Side of Chicago. Thus, I have a great love for Chicago Catholicism. My heart broke when I read the new Archbishop’s homily from this week (23 August 2015.) Archbishop Cupich said the following about the upcoming synod of sexuality:

“With the upcoming synod, it is clear that the Holy Father is calling the Church to examine our categories of expression about what we believe and be open to new avenues and creativity when it comes to accompanying families. All of this has much to say to us in Chicago, that we not settle for solutions that no longer work, expressions that no longer inspire and ways of working that stifle creativity and collaboration.”

With my extended family’s roots in Chicago, I have to wonder: Which expression of Catholicism is not working in Chicago? Bernadin’s seamless garment? Or perhaps Cupich is speaking of the many families found in this video of a Mass in Chicago in 1941, narrated by Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with Archbishop Cupich’s denotation in the above quote. He said nothing heretical in the above quote. But let’s remember: Only a legalistic society considers denotation without connotation. Is the connotation of Archbishop Cupich’s quote that the Catholic Church will integrate “creativity” in regards to doctrinal “solutions that no longer work” in reference to the morality of homosexual actions or Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried? We’ll have to wait until the synod to see!

Telescoping outside of the world of sexual morality, let me say a brief word on the morality of the tongue and pen: I wonder how many of us Catholics of all vocations, priest and laity, right or left, think that we’ll be able to stand before God at our death and justify our small lies and large deceptions of others by saying things like, “Technically in my denotation, I did not say…”

We priests and bishops will answer to God for teaching sins of both commission and omission, for God will not be tricked by our legalistic subterfuge. I think that at our judgment, each one of us will answer both for the denotations and connotations of our words. We will answer not only for what we “technically” said, but for the fruits in others’ lives produced by our teachings and even attitudes.

These fruits (life-based or rotten) found in others’ lives (most especially our children’s catechesis, be them our spiritual children or biological children) will all be made clear at the General Judgment, for then we will see the outcome of the lives that we formed so intimately. There will be no word games at the General Judgment—only an arrival at our eternal reward—where we join those we guided in word and example, for better…or for worse.

When Darkness Becomes Light

What about children conceived in rape or incest? What about fetal deformity? What about threats to the life or health of the mother? These are the abortion exceptions produced by my friend, Kevin Williams.  Even if you can’t watch the full hour, just watch the first 10 minutes of this delicate and beautiful video:

Won’t you please forward this to anyone who needs to hear this message of life?  This is an important story to share with those who have been raped or abused, and especially anyone who is in a hard situation, thinking about abortion.

Let them see in this gentle video that life is worth living  and that God can turn darkness into light.

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.—Isaiah 42:16

Also see Kevin’s websites:  http://downsyndrome.love and conceivedinrape.com 

Planned Parenthood and Priests

pp Mass

When I was sidewalk counseling at an abortion clinic last Friday, it hit me that it’s good that there’s actually a few priests and bishops speaking out against Planned Parenthood, but there’s still something worse than abortion.

For no crime is there heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use [of the Holy Eucharist.]”—Council of Trent, De Euch v.i., 16th century.

This could either refer to sacrilegious Masses or sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion.

Of course, the interior state of a person who is receiving Holy Communion can never be judged by another, especially based on exterior indications.  However, a priest or a bishop who publicly tramples the rubrics of his rite commits a public act of sacrilege, calling down upon him “the heaviest punishment to be feared from God.”  (ibid.)

Consider four frequently-broken rubrics found in a post-Vatican II document called Redemptionis Sacramentum:

1) “When Holy Mass is celebrated for a large crowd – for example, in large cities – care should be taken lest out of ignorance non-Catholics or even non-Christians come forward for Holy Communion, without taking into account the Church’s Magisterium in matters pertaining to doctrine and discipline. It is the duty of Pastors at an opportune moment to inform those present of the authenticity and the discipline that are strictly to be observed.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum 84

2) “The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful where there is such a large number of communicants that it is difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist and there is a danger that more than a reasonable quantity of the Blood of Christ remain to be consumed at the end of the celebration.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum 102

3) “Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum 151

4) “If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum 92

Is there a big enough chance the Eucharist would be profaned that would justify the switching of an entire parish or diocese from Communion in the hand to exclusively Communion on the tongue? First of all, a bishop once told me he believes 80% of those who received Holy Communion in his diocese received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin.  I’ll never forget that number that he told me.  That right there is enough profanation to demand exact and immediate obedience to the rubrics of the Liturgy:  New Mass, Old Mass or the Byzantine Divine Liturgy.  This is because a priest doing the right thing automatically engenders worthy communions among the laity.

When a bishop preaches against a Satanic Mass that takes place in his diocese, that’s great.  But where did the Eucharistic host come from destined for sacrilege?  This answer I can give with 99% surety:  The consecrated Host came from a Mass in that same diocese where the satanist took Holy Communion in the hand from a lay Eucharistic “minister” who was quickly smiling at the next person in line…while Our Lord was being taken to a new crucifixion in unspeakable rituals…literally unspeakable satanic rituals which are as evil as abortion.

Bishops and pastors have not only the right, but the duty to enact everything in Redemptionis Sacramentum overnight without any need for a higher authority.  Why?  Because protection of the Eucharist is Divine Law, not Ecclesial Law. Rome can change Ecclesial Law (and some things in Redemptionis Sacramentum admittedly refer to Ecclesial law.)  Particular Law is what a bishop can change in his diocese. Divine Law and Ecclesial Law trump Particular Law.  Redemptions Sacramentum is mostly the first two since it is a document for the universal Church.

So what is the excuse for ignoring God’s law?  Because no one else is following it.  But this will not exonerate us at the Final Judgement, especially since Rome was so clear after Vatican II, not to mention all the binding documents prior.  Even common sense dictates that we must end this sacrilege against God in the Eucharist, especially if we are to simultaneously beg God to end the scourge of abortion—something only He can do—not the Republican party.

This rejection of God’s holy law is why Bishop Athanasius Schneider has called this the fourth greatest crisis in the history of the Church.  His namesake shows that there is precedent in Church history for global blindness even among the clergy.  The core of every crisis is when priests fear man more than God.  The same is true for this crisis of the 21st century.  The only difference is that we have dubbed our current fear-of-man to be “pastoral charity” instead of “Arianism.”

The specific four instructions that I quote in Redemptionis Sacramentum were given by the Church nearly forty years after Vatican II.  All are to be enacted within the new Mass of the vernacular (i.e. English or Spanish in the USA.)   I can’t stress enough that it was released in 2004, not 1604.  Nor is Redemptionis Sacramentum a frilly tidbit of devotion for more pious priests.  Why do I say this?  Again, the above four quotes are examples of the bare-minimum.

Pastors and bishops can stop 99% of Satanic Masses (and probably reduce the more common sacrilege of people showing up to Mass in 6″ shorts) by enacting Redemptionis Sacramentum, for this document clarifies that it is our duty to eradicate the reception of Holy Communion in the hand in any danger, even in the Mass of Vatican II, for the highest authorities have spoken on this topic: “To touch the Sacred Species with their own hands and to distribute them is a privilege of the Ordained.”—Pope St. John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae.

(The above tenets are all “givens” in the Traditional Latin Mass that you see pictured in the above photo with a priest-friend of mine in front of a Planned Parenthood.   It’s the only Mass I offer now, too.)

We should return to my original topic:  What does obedience to Redemptionis Sacramentum have to do with ending abortion? Read Exodus 25 and Exodus 26.   The chapters contain God’s instructions to Moses regarding Divine Worship.  The Ark and the Tabernacle had to be fabricated exactly as God said—down to the centimeter.  In Exodus 25-26, following the “legalistic rules” of worship does indeed come before social justice.   Hence, in the New Covenant, for “no crime is there heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use [of the Eucharist.]”—Trent.   Redemptionis Sacramentum is a lot easier to follow than Trent, and yet it’s still being ignored by “conservative” pastors.  If we eschew the minimum of God’s request on worship, how can we ask Him to end abortion?

In fact, any priest or bishop who preaches the hard truths of marriage while not fulfilling the minimum found above in Redemptionis Sacramentum may be the very person Jesus spoke of when He said: “You load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”—Luke 11:46.  So-called “conservative” pastors are often the worst culprits in persecuting the few priests and laity who wish to hold to all of Redemptionis Sacramentum.   At least, I have to honor the “progressives” for their consistency:  They don’t hypocritically pretend to fight the Unborn Holocaust or this Liturgical Holocaust.  Some even have genuine zeal for their own pet-projects.

I don’t think we priests can sincerely ask God to end the Unborn Holocaust until we have collectively become obedient to Him in ending this Liturgical Holocaust.  It would cost us little more than short-lived popularity.  Until then, it may be costing unborn babies their lives.

IMG_0367

Immaculata Dedication

IMG_0345

I petition the intercession of the following two saints as I  consecrate this blog to St. Maximilian Kolbe and the Holy Mother of God, aka the Holy Theotokos, the Immaculata, Mary Most Holy…”Mamma Mary!” as all the Philippina women at my parish lovingly call our mother.  I also dedicate it to all the guardian angels of the entire world, and especially the angels of any people the Eternal Father has destined to read my mediocre but true blog.

May I suggest St. Maximilian Kolbe’s consecration prayer to the Mother of God?  I believe St. John Paul II prayed this every day:

O Immaculata, Queen of heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, [name] cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most please you. If it please you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: She will crush your head and You alone have destroyed all the heresies of the whole world.  Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Mercy Killing of Consciences

sam woman

Today, many Catholics believe that “mercy” consists in remaining silent before someone’s sinful lifestyle, so as to let that individual’s gasping conscience, well, die in peace. I think this is the “mercy” that the media is begging the bishops to invoke over those who have fallen into gravely sinful lifestyles: Leave them alone, so they can go on living in peace.

And both parties’ consciences are alive.  barely.

Here’s my proof that America still has a conscience: The media does not attack Mormons or Muslims for jaw-dropping beliefs like the reception of a pile of women for every man in the afterlife (a strange overlap of Islam and Mormonism.) Why doesn’t the media attack such preposterous tenets of religion? Because it’s short-lived fun to mock ideas that are clearly irrational. I’ve never heard of Anderson Cooper mocking the idea of a planet in the afterlife for every Mormon man who gets his favorite sister-wives to keep him company in outer-space. It’s like disproving a child who is dreaming.

But no one is laughing at Catholics who speak out against gay “marriage.” Is this because we have been hateful?  No.  It’s because everyone’s conscience is made in God’s objective image and likeness. Intellectually there is a relativism invading the country, but in the hearts of everyone on earth, I believe this to be true: Relativism can not be incorporated into the human heart, especially the human heart seeking God. Relativism has not gained full ground of the conscience yet. The proof is the anger (which is unfortunately rebellion against their own conscience.) If opposition to same-sex marriage was ridiculous like Mormon planets or Muslim virgin-heavens, then no one would care about us backwater, slack-jawed Catholics or our so-called bigoted beliefs.

You see, if the final exterior agent of traditional Judeo-Christian belief (the Catholic Church) reflects the interior-but-objective, flickering, dying pilot light of your conscience that you’re trying to kill, then the Catholic Church is the one thing that is keeping your conscience alive…and you hate it. This is because long before rules were found in the catechism, they were found in your heart.

Fighting against Catholicism may appear to be fun on the blogs, but there’s always a sadness and anger that accompanies the wit. Why? Because fighting God is exhausting, and it brings out the venom. Ironically, the venom is a good sign that such a conscience is still alive.  If a sting of conscience is an embrace from God, and if conscience is objectively created, then we’re talking about a divine embrace that brings rebellion and fury (probably because of the clash of true conviction and false religious advice.)

We hide our fury behind words like “mercy.” Notice how many Catholics today offer suggestions for the Pope and bishops to make the teachings of the Church more “merciful.” Notice how these arguments (in regards to the inner-life of a man or woman’s conscience) are similar to the arguments for euthanasia: Let them die in peace. Essentially, we’re talking about the mercy-killing of the soul.

Even otherwise-orthodox theologians will say half-joking but fully- erroneous statements like: “Ignorance is the eighth sacrament that saves more than the other seven.” Ignorance never saved anybody.  Only Jesus Christ did.  But what they mean is that for a sin to be mortal, it must be done with full knowledge. While this is true, the hyper-emphasis on this single tenet of Catholic moral theology misses the enormous counter-weight: Moral knowledge does not have to be book knowledge.  The truth is that God stamps natural law on the soul at the moment of conception:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.—Rom 1:19-20

Thus, many mortal sins are committed by people who don’t know Catholic theology.  I’ll stick to that shocking statement because in the above chapter, the Apostle Paul continues to explain that pagan tribes are still guilty before God for homosexual sins.  Why?  Because even before they hear of Christ, they know such sins are wrong by looking into their heart and outwards to creation.  Yes, God can surely forgive such sins in the confessional within a His heartbeat of His Divine Mercy, but let’s be clear:  You don’t have to be a Bible-reading-Catholic to know that you should not put a scissors into a baby’s head, or that you can not physically put a male-part into a male-part.

Thus, “ignorant” pagans still need a Savior. And He is mighty to save me and anyone else of grievous sins. You see, if ignorance of the Gospel were enough to save a person, then St. Francis Xavier never should have gone on hundreds of perilous journeys around the South Pacific and Indian Oceans to baptize hundreds of thousands.

I can already hear the objections: Does this mean that all non-Catholics go to hell?  Pope Pius IX gave the clearest answer in the 19th century:  “By Faith it is to be firmly held that outside the Apostolic Roman Church none can achieve salvation. This is the only ark of salvation. He who does not enter into it, will perish in the flood. Nevertheless equally certainly it is to be held that those who suffer from invincible ignorance of the true religion, are not, for this reason, guilty in the eyes of the Lord.”—Pope Pius IX (Ott 312, Denzinger 1647.)

Jansenists and liberals both make the exact same theological mistake: What is the least that I need to do to escape the wrath of God?

The above is a worthless question when we hear why Jesus Himself says He came to earth:  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.—John 3:17

Jesus came to save us, and He can be trusted more than the neo-con theologians who over-play the card about “full-knowlege and consent of the will.”  Legalistic exoneration is not mercy.  What is the definition of mercy?  Mercy is a heart given to the miserable. Even better, it is to bring the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the miserable, like me, and like every sinner. Literally, the etymology in all Romance languages of that word misericordia is this: giving (dia) the Heart of Christ (cor) to the miserable (miseri).

Perhaps our model of mercy for a time of sexual sin should be Jesus when He encounters the woman at the well who is herself in sexual sin:

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink,” for His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”—John 4:7-10

Although He knows her past, Jesus does not make her feel her shame. In fact, they begin a remarkably casual conversation on mudane things like buckets and wells and tribal chatter long before He gets to the difficult topic of her being divorced and re-married five times. By the time He gets there, she is so moved by His love that she changes her life.

So also, we need to be bold but tender with those whom we are evangelizing. Notice that Our Lord does not encounter her in a way that is self-righteous or even more nauseating: passive-aggressive-self-righteous. So also, we need to speak as gently as Jesus to any woman at the well. Christ speaks first as a friend—in things earthly, like thirst—before speaking of sin or worship. Our tenderness and sincerity may turn a great sinner into a great proponent of Christ and His Church:

Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.—John 4:39a

She knew that her ignorance did not save her anymore than darkness brings light. Only Jesus Christ is the light that every human heart desires (openly or secretly!) Ignorance is not “the eighth sacrament that saves more than all the rest.” Let’s stop this Catholic “mercy-killing” of consciences (as if any Westerner with the internet could claim invincible ignorance!) Since indifference is worse than hatred, then I propose that pretending like everyone is headed to heaven is the worst act of hatred we could enact in the lives of our family and friends.

This realization of the truth of the Gospel is not a carte blanche to be self-righteous.  We simply trust that every heart was made for Jesus Christ and His Church, not just those who are currently Catholic. But if you really can’t get the right words to share with a sinner, remember: Our Lady of Fatima was clear that God will do the heavy lifting if we but pray and sacrifice for souls. You gotta be doing at least one (evangelizing or sacrificing) if you as a Catholic have any love for anyone but yourself.  Complaining will not get you to heaven.  May we show them the Rescuer, the Deliverer, the One Who is mighty to save!

 

Under the Table and Dreaming

dog-eating-crumbs
I’m biased, but I think my little sister is the best writer I know.  Before I knew what one was, she had a blog.

Talking on the phone to her last night, I started thinking a lot about Mark chapter 7:

And from there [Jesus] arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet He could not be hid. But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell down at His feet. Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He said to her, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs. ” But she answered Him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And He said to her, “For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone.—Mark 7:24-30

If you read my sister’s blog (and especially if you read the next section of Mark chapter 7, you’ll catch the connection.)

But back to the above account of the Greek woman and her encounter with Jesus:  Someone asked me recently about Jesus’ apparent harshness. He answers the desperate woman, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

There’s no getting around the fact that Jesus called her a “dog.” Does He do this because of her roots in a culture opposed to pure Judaism? The Greeks tried to colonize the Jews, and some died for the faith (see 1 and 2 Maccabees.)  Other Hebrews capitulated, denying their faith and becoming some form of a hybrid pagan-Jew, hence— a dog to the pure Jews.

But Jesus is not only a Jew; He is the Son of God. He is God Himself who made this woman in His image and likeness. Isn’t it going a little far to push her away?  Isn’t this teasing too much? Is it mean? Is it good-natured inter-cultural ribbing or perhaps all-out racism?

This is my best guess at what is happening:

Jesus is reminding her that she has a lot stacked against her.  She is a woman of a bloodline of traitors and she has a daughter with a demon. A half-breed is actually interrupting a Jewish rabbi for a favor. Jesus responds in kind as he definitively names the full-breed Jews to be “children” and the half-breed Syrophoenicians to be “dogs.” Basically, He reminds her that this is an irrational request.

Jesus is setting up a hurdle to show how unreasonable is her petition…and she takes the bait. She sees the hurdle of natural opposition, and banks on the one thing left: The supernatural. Why? The only possible explanation is that she knew He was not only a great rabbi, but an all-powerful Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One…the one we have been waiting for…the one she had been waiting for.

She recognizes that she is just a dog under the table, a dog hoping for what scraps of faith might fall from the table of the mighty Jews.  But she and Our Lord both know something else is happening here:  Jesus must painfully stretch her heart beyond natural limits to place within her family the supernatural grace He had always destined for them.  Like a good coach laying more weights on a football players bar, Christ not only tests the strength of her faith, but actually increases it through the pain of begging.

She takes His bait of teasing, knowing that she had nothing to lose with a daughter with a demon.  The Jewish man sets the high-hurdle.  The Greek woman jumps over it.  (He knew she would!)  Love has to go beyond manners. Love has to go beyond what is polite. Love of a daughter has to go beyond the annoyed and annoying Apostles who are rolling eyes at her.  Jesus and her both know this.

And then? Her faith immediately extinguishes the cultural firewalls—the firewalls which Jesus had a divine foreknowledge she would eradicate with her faith.  He reminds her what is reasonable, and she reminds Him that God’s power goes beyond what is reasonable…exactly what He wanted her to teach the Apostles, and anyone who would ever read the Bible until the end of the world.

Jesus jokingly shows the calculations about what can be expected from God, and she responds with a faith beyond calculations—exactly what He wanted.  Her faith blasts away the Apostles who had placed Adonai’s power in a cultural and safe little box. She teaches them the lesson they will bring with their miracles one day as they travelled to Spain, India and Ethiopia, carrying literal miracles that would speak His message:

What is impossible for humans is not impossible for God, even raising the dead.