Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Conversion Without Welcome

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30
I saw an interesting blog post entitled, "The Church's Essential Mission: Conversion, Not Welcome". You can read it HERE. The blog, "One Peter 5", is written by a Mr. Eric Sammons, who has some pretty impressive credentials.  He is "father of six children, author of three books, and Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice in Florida."  He has appeared on "The Journey Home" on EWTN, "Catholic Answers", "Kresta In the Afternoon" "Catholic Answers" and other programs.  He hires himself out as a speaker.  Mr. Sammons is a convert to the Catholic faith from Evangelical Protestantism.

However, I must respectfully disagree with the blog post mentioned above.  Mr. Sammons' argument is stated in the first paragraph:
“All are welcome!”
You can hardly walk into a Catholic parish today without encountering this slogan. Not so long ago all the talk was about the “New Evangelization,” but that topic has been back-burnered in favor of “welcoming.” No one should feel excluded from the Catholic Church! Who is it, exactly, that has been complaining about feeling unwelcome? That’s usually left unsaid. Yet the current emphasis on welcoming people to the Church certainly implies, at the very least, that we have been in some way inhospitable in the past.
The welcome wagon movement has as a foundational principle the need for changes in the language of the Church. It posits two problems with the language of our first 1,981 years:
1) It’s too hard to understand, and
2) It makes people feel bad.
Mr. Sammons is upset with those in the Church who are "dumbing down" language to make it more understandable to people because he feels that simplifying language actually "undermines the work of salvation."  He gives an example:
They propose that the Church sought to explain the Trinity in ways people could understand, specifically by using Greek philosophical terms. However, a closer look shows that the Church was not primarily concerned with making the doctrine of the Trinity understandable. She was interested in making it precise. If the end goal is “understandable,” one usually ends up with a dumbed-down explanation which can easily lead to errors. But if the goal is precision, then although one might have to work to understand a concept, he can be assured of arriving at the correct understanding.
Mr. Sammons seems to feel that "understandable" and "precise" are mutually exclusive.  Mr. Sammons feels that the Church cannot be concerned with being "understandable" because trying to be "understandable" only leads to more error.  If people can't understand, that is their problem.  Mr. Sammons feels it is better to leave people completely in the dark than to try to speak in language to which they are more accustomed.

Mr. Sammons tells us that Jesus never tried to make things easier for people to understand.  In fact, according to Mr. Sammons, our Lord was purposely trying to hide the Gospel from certain people:
Nor do the Gospels attest that the desire to make language understandable is a priority for our Lord. After Jesus tells the story of the Sower in Matthew 13, the disciples ask him why he speaks in parables. Our Lord replies, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:11-13). Christ himself makes it clear that the “secrets of the kingdom of heaven” will not be understood by everyone, and there is nothing we can do about it. Concentrating our efforts to do so, then, appears to be for naught.
This excerpt from the Gospels has nothing to do with language. Jesus used every day language and situations in the parables which were easily understood by the people. Our Lord was hiding the meaning of these parables from the people at that time which was before His Crucifixion and Resurrection, before the Gospel was opened to the whole world. But does Mr. Sammons believe that there are groups of people in the world today from whom Our Lord is purposely hiding the saving message of the Gospel? Remember, Christ also told Peter, James, John and Andrew not to reveal His transfiguration on Mount Tabor until after His resurrection. However, this was most certainly not true after Our Lord rose from the dead. Our Lord made it very clear to the apostles, just before He ascended to heaven, that they were to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:16). The message of the Gospel is no longer hidden from anyone, as St. Paul tells us that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Tim 2:4).

If we are to take Mr. Sammons' argument to its logical conclusion, we would have to say that the Church should concentrate on "precision" and forget about "understandability" because (1) worrying about "understandability" will only lead to more errors, (2) if people cannot understand what the Church is saying for whatever reason, then it is out of our hands and they can all just quite literally "go to hell" and (3), there are actually people who are not supposed to understand the Gospel because Our Lord is not interested in saving them.

Certainly there have been and always will be those who will reject the saving message of the Gospel. That is a consequence of free will. But how can free will be involved if people are not even able to understand what the Church is saying? If I speak only English, and someone is trying to tell me something in Russian, is it my fault that I don't understand?

Mr. Sammons has another argument against using language to make the church more welcoming:
The second attempt to change the Church’s language is more pernicious. It aims not just to make the Church’s language more understandable to modern man, but also to make it more acceptable to him. We see this in the desire to soften the Church’s language about sin, especially in the area of sexual morality. Less than a generation ago, St. John Paul II called the attempt of those who had divorced to later marry outside the Church “evil” (Familiarius Consortio 84), yet today such language is condemned in many quarters of the Church. People will only feel welcome and thus enter our doors, it is said, if we soften our language on the “hard teachings.”
Mr. Sammons seems to feel that unless the Church uses specific, theological language, truth and dogma will be lost.  He feels it is better to leave the teachings of the Church less understandable in order to avoid the loss of "truth."  I would like Mr. Sammons to show me one passage in the Gospel where Our Lord speaks to people using "theological" language.  He always used the language of the people, always speaking with words easily understood by the people.

Certainly I agree with Mr. Sammons that we must not use imprecise or incorrect words in order to make spiritual concepts easier to understand.  However, our world is basically biblically illiterate. Most people cannot even name the four Gospels. Knowledge of God and salvation is as foreign to most people as knowledge of quantum physics. In addition, people are just not as generally literate as they use to be. There is a reason why newspapers are now written at an 8th grade level. The Church, in her wisdom and guided by the Holy Spirit, realizes that she cannot reach people as she once did.

In answer to Mr. Sammons, here is an interesting video which was just made at the Synod of the family in which the fathers of the Synod discuss this very issue:

These Cardinals explain far better than I can why Mr. Sammons is wrong:

Cardinal Wilfred Napier of South Africa: "I think language is something we have overlooked for a good while. We used language that is out of touch with the way people speak today. In the past, it was sufficient to say to people, "you are going to go to hell if you continue this way of life." Hell was a reality. It was something they knew, or they understood it. When you talk about hell today, people don't know what you are talking about. So I think the emphasis is shifting."

Cardinal Godfried Daneels: "We don't begin by accusing or stigmatizing but by talking. At a later stage you can take the person to a higher level. But beginning with accusation or a stigmatization is not good pastoral method."

Cardinal André Armand Vingt-Trois: "If the Church wants to address not only its members, but also others outside the Church, it must look for words and formulas that will allow it to be understood by those who are not already inside."

Cardinal Wilfred Napier of South Africa: "All kinds of people came to Jesus. What did Jesus do? He opened the doors for them. He spoke the language that they understood and He converted them out of their sin. "Woman, did no one condemn you?" He wasn't saying you are okay, you were just caught out. He said, "Did no one condemn you? Neither do I condemn you." Which means that He could have condemned her for what she had done. But He didn't use that language of condemnation. And I think that's sort of the feeling that I get. Let's put our language in a way that is going to invite people to a conversion, to an experience of Christ which is going to be realistic and is going to make a change in their life rather than leave them going away with a terrible guilt conscience or something like that."

Cardinal André Armand Vingt-Trois: "When a physician makes a diagnosis, he has terms to designate exactly the disease in question, but if he uses these terms with his patient, he will not be understood. Therefore, he must explain the meaning of the diagnosis with words that are not technical words. In theology, it is the same thing. One has a precise theological vocabulary that is a science with a technical reference, and when one addresses people to announce the goods news of Christ, one does not teach them a theology course. One tells them the contents of the theology but with a vocabulary that can be understood."

Mr. Sammons writes, "picture finding a person drowning in quicksand. Would your first concern be greeting her cheerfully and making sure she feels comfortable in your presence?" Mr. Sammons thinks the first thing we need to do is make sure they understand the correct terminology of why they are in quicksand. Mr. Sammons also writes, "Today there are countless souls lost and drowning, and the mission of the Church is to set them on the right path to salvation." I could not agree more with that statement. But when someone is drowning, as Mr. Sammons says, do we look at them floundering in the water and start lecturing them on the dangers of whatever led to them to this situation? Don't we first have to pull them out before we can do anything else? When someone is drowning, that is not the time to give them swimming lessons. 
Our world is most definitely drowning in sin, and they can no longer hear the Voice of God. Holy Mother Church, as evidenced by the above video of various cardinals, realizes that her job has become to reach out to people who know nothing of God. The Catholic Church has truly become an alien culture in the world. Since the world no longer speaks our language, we must now speak in a language that they will understand. It is a daunting task, but with God, all things are possible.

And to answer the title of Mr. Sammons's post, "The Church’s Essential Mission: Conversion, Not Welcome," the truth is there can be no "conversion" without "welcome". Why should anyone come to a Church which he or she feels is standing in judgment and condemnation, and speaks in ways that no one can understand anyway. Our Lord said, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17). That does not mean that Jesus did not show people their sins. He was always telling people "Sin no more." And certainly the Church must always define sin.

But as Pope Francis said, the Church is a field hospital. And a hospital never turns anyone away. In fact, the more ill someone is, the more right that person has to be a patient. It doesn't matter what the patient understands or doesn't understand about his illness. As Our Lord said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick." (Mt. 9:12). And as Cardinal André Armand Vingt-Trois explained, "When a physician makes a diagnosis, he has terms to designate exactly the disease in question, but if he uses these terms with his patient, he will not be understood . . . when one addresses people to announce the goods news of Christ, one does not teach them a theology course. One tells them the contents of the theology but with a vocabulary that can be understood."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Do We Abandon the Church in Stormy Waters?

This video of ships being tossed around and almost capsized by massive ocean waves is basically what many have characterized as the condition of the Catholic Church following the Synod on the Family.  With the ending of the Synod, the Catholic blogosphere and certain "catholic" media are telling us that the Church is in a major crisis and that Church hierarchy, including and maybe most especially Pope Francis, are trying to destroy the Church.  Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara put out a video in which they actually said Pope Francis may well be the "worst pope ever" and we might have to start thinking in terms of "anti pope."

Michael Voris did a video in which he reported that Cardinal Burke accused Pope Francis of harming the Church. A few days later Voris pulled the video and actually did a mea culpa, saying he did not want anyone to think he, Voris, was in any way publicly criticizing the Pope. Some of those who are normally critical of Voris were instead applauding him for this move, while the normal Voris supporters harshly criticized him. The world truly was upside down. However, both groups need to really rethink their positions. Yes, Voris said he will not publicly criticize Pope Francis, but just two days before he released a video of how Catholics should react if the entire Church hierarchy, including the Pope, is unfaithful to Christ and His Church.

From Voris:
"So let’s just say for discussion that the pope is a bad pope and is very opposed to the traditions of the Church."
Many will say that Voris isn't actually accusing the Pope of anything. He is just proposing a scenario. Well, he then proposes more "scenarios", all of which he has stated, more times than I can count, represent the actual state of the Church:
Let’s just say there is a cabal of wicked and evil bishops and cardinals in cahoots with him to overthrow the Church.
Let’s just say there are many other cardinals and bishops who through a willful ignorance and cowardice and naïveté are going along with this because they actually believe it is better to accommodate the world than to fight the evil in it.
And let’s just say most dioceses in the world have succumbed to one degree or another to the evil and most of them are unfaithful in varying degrees.
Let’s just say most Catholics no longer believe the Catholic faith, which must be believed totally.
And let’s just say most leaders in the Church, including the pope, are no longer Catholic in any meaningful manner and want wholesale changes that touch on the very heart of the faith.

We know that Voris believes all of the above because he has certainly stated these things enough times. So it is only logical to assume that he also believes Pope Francis is a bad pope, although he refuses to "publicly" state so.  Voris somehow thinks it is okay to attack every part of the body but the head.  It is okay to cut off toes, fingers or even whole arms and legs, stab and slash at vital organs, beat with bats and sticks, etc., but just don't touch the head.  Voris actually has the gall to say the following:
"I have dedicated the remainder of my life to serving the Church and to have to consider that I did something that brought some harm to Her makes me heart sick."
Voris is the guy who told everyone to stop financially supporting their parishes and dioceses. Voris is the guy who said Cardinal Dolan is evil and going to hell. Voris is the guy who said most bishops are "homosexualists". Voris is the guy who said the average Catholic sitting in the pew is "Catholic In Name Only." It seems to me that his entire "apostolate" is all about destroying the institutional Church, which he has said is on its last legs and needs to be destroyed.

It should be pointed out that the answer Voris gives to the above "scenarios" is that we should remain "faithful." My question is: faithful to what? If we are to believe Voris, this is no Church left to which we can be faithful.

Not to fear. In a video a few days later, Voris has given us the answer. There is a group of people who can always be trusted to never go off the rails and lead us astray. It is "the faithful Catholic media" of which Voris is a proud member. Never mind that Voris' own bishop will not allow him to use the word "Catholic" in his organization's name. That guy is just part of the false "Church of Nice" anyway and no one should listen to him. In fact, the very fact that Church hierarchy rejects Voris only gives him more credibility, because "faithful Catholic media" can only be faithful if they are separate from the Catholic Church, as Voris tells us:
"You simply cannot have a Catholic Media run by the Church. It must be free and independent—a free press, a free Catholic press—beholden to nothing but the truth."

So should Catholics now fear that there is a snake under every rock threatening to destroy the Church?  Do we stop trusting the Church hierarchy and start trusting people like Michael Voris and Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara?  Has the Holy Spirit abandoned the Church and left us to fend for ourselves?

Those who say we must reject Church hierarchy need to be reminded of the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in Luke 10:16.  This is what Our Lord told not just Peter, but ALL of the apostles, of whom Catholic bishops are the direct descendants: "Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me." The "you" spoken of in this verse is not referring to "faithful Catholic media" but to Church hierarchy. Jesus Christ specifically says that to reject the authority of Church hierarchy is to reject Him. Yet, this seems to be exactly what Michael Voris is proposing.

Our Lord told us (John 15:5) that "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  For those who think they can be independent from the church, Our Lord warned in the next verse: "If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." And as Luke 10:16 shows us, the only way to truly remain in Christ is to accept the authority of His Church.

Michael Voris and those who defend him would answer that they are not talking about being separate from the Church, but just from those in the corrupt hierarchy.  But is it really possible to make our own personal judgments and separate ourselves from the hierarchy of the Church and still remain in communion with the Church?

Even though they are sinful, fallible men, we cannot separate Church hierarchy en masse from Jesus Christ. This does not mean that we have to accept every word that comes from every individual bishop and priest.  But as Our Lord said, to deliberately separate ourselves from earthly Church authority is to separate ourselves from the true Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.  

We need to remember that Our Lord gave the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter, NOT to the laity and not to "faithful Catholic media". There was no clause to this agreement between Peter and Christ that this would be binding only as long as Peter acted in a certain way. Why? Because Peter and his successors and all of Church hierarchy are, in effect, nothing more than puppets. This is not saying that they give up their free will in their personal lives. They are still fallible human beings who are as capable of losing their salvation as any of the rest of us. (And because of their positions, they are actually judged much more severely than the laity.) But our Lord told us that the Holy Spirit is the One who is really pulling the strings in the Church, and even when it seems like He is asleep in the boat as Jesus Christ was with the apostles, He is still in charge. That is why Jesus said that when we reject Church hierarchy, we are rejecting Him. We cannot just decide on our own that we can no longer trust those put in charge by the Holy Spirit. We never have the right to become our own magesterium.

I find it interesting that none of those who are condemning Pope Francis for leading the Church astray have quoted from his final speech to the Synod. You can read the entire speech HERE, and I would strongly suggest it. Pope Francis directly addressed those statements from the Synod that seem to have been in conflict with Church teaching, and how we should deal with this. Here are just a few excerpts:

"Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.
Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).
And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.
Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.
And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.
We have been given an ironclad promise by Jesus Christ that the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church.  The night before He was crucified, just a few short hours before He was arrested by the Sanhedrin, Our Lord told His Disciples (John 14:1):
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In that same chapter of John 14, Jesus said (verses 16-18):
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you.
Many have accused me of being an ultramonatist, which means I believe the Pope can do no wrong. I do not have faith in any man, not even the Pope. But I do believe the words of Jesus Christ who told me that He gave the Keys to the Kingdom to Peter, and that He will never cease to work through Peter.  Our Lord never told me I had to rely on my own weak and sinful judgment.  He said I need to do is trust in Him, and He will never allow me to go astray.  Michael Voris is actually right - we do need to remain faithful.  But that means being faithful to Holy Mother Church, not to "catholic media" or anyone else who is apart and separate from the Church.

Proverbs 3:5-8:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.

This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
We live in very evil times, and the Barque of Peter is thrashing wildly on the troubled seas. Now is not the time to decide the Church is not seaworthy. Now is just when we should be trusting even more deeply that Our Lord is in charge and will not allow His Church to be destroyed, either from within or without. It is not up to us to stand in judgment of those in authority. If we really feel they are not fulfilling the duties of their office, as St. Paul wrote in I Timothy 2:1-3:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Our first Pope, St. Peter, wrote (I Peter 1:5-6)
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
As Pope Francis reminded us at the Synod:
So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).
When you are feeling lost and afraid, go before the Blessed Sacrament and realize that there is nothing to fear.  Our Lord has conquered all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Synod: Fasten Your Seatbelts

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Words Of Jesus Christ (Mark 2:17)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The Words of Jesus Christ, (Matthew 11:28-30)

Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.
Relatio post disceptationem (working document from the Synod on the Family) Paragraph 23
As I suspected would happen, this past week the Catholic blogosphere has been apoplectic about the Synod on the Family in Rome. The Synod is an opportunity for bishops and others to meet in Rome and express their opinions and views about the current state of the family which, any way you look at it, is pretty sad. The Extraordinary Synod taking place in Rome is basically a gabfest.  The Pope is giving people from all sides of the various issues concerning the family the opportunity to air their views.  However, it is vital to note that there will be no decisions made this year. 

This fact makes no difference to the Catholic blogosphere.  The consensus among the blogosphere seem to be that Church hierarchy has fallen completely off the rails and is no longer under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Many of those viewing the Synod have become hysterical and worse.

Pope Francis, in his opening remarks at the Synod, did his best to tell us what the purpose of these meetings is.  The meetings taking place in Rome are not about redefining doctrine or dogma.  The Extraordinary Synod is not about changing the direction the Church has taken for 2000 years.  It is about defining the problems that the family faces in the 21st Century and how the Church should address these problems.

In St. Peter's Square on the eve before the beginning of the Synod, Pope Francis said:
"Let us invoke openness to a sincere, open and fraternal exchange of views, that it might lead us to take pastoral responsibility for the questions that this changing time brings with it, Let them fill our heart, without ever losing peace, but with serene trust that in his time the Lord will not fail to lead us back to unity."
Notice the words of the Holy Father which imply that the Church is not walking in unity on many of these issues right now, but as His Holiness says, we should never lose peace but have "serene trust that in his time the Lord will not fail to lead us back to unity."

"Doesn't the history of the church perhaps tell us of so many analogous situations, that our fathers knew how to overcome with stubborn patience and creativity?" 
We must lend an ear to the rhythm of our time and perceive the odor of people today, that we might be imbued with their joys and hopes, their sadness and anxiety: at that point we will be able credibly to propose the good news on the family.
Pope Francis wants everyone to have their say, even and maybe most especially those whose views do not conform to Church teaching.  He admonished those who do stand by Church teaching to listen with "humility."

Pope Francis continued this theme on the first day of the Extraordinary Synod in his opening message.  From a portion of his opening remarks [HERE]:
A basic general condition is this: to speak clearly. No one must say: “This can’t be said; he will think of me this way or that …” It is necessary to say everything that is felt with parrhesia [to speak boldly]. After the last Consistory (February 2014), in which there was talk of the family, a Cardinal wrote to me saying: too bad that some Cardinals didn’t have the courage to say some things out of respect for the Pope, thinking, perhaps, that the Pope thought something different. This is not good; this is not synodality, because it is necessary to say everything that in the Lord one feels should be said, with human respect, without fear. And, at the same time, one must listen with humility and receive with an open heart what the brothers say. Synodality will be exercised with these two attitudes. 
Therefore, I ask you, please, for these attitudes of brothers in the Lord: to speak with parrhesia and to listen with humility.
And do so with much tranquillity and peace, because the Synod always unfolds cum Petro et sub Petro, and the Pope’s presence is the guarantee for all and protection of the faith.
With that last statement, Pope Francis is reminding the Church that no matter what may be said, we should not allow this to distress us in any way because through the Pope, the Holy Spirit will still be there guiding and leading the Church, "and the Pope’s presence is the guarantee for all and protection of the faith."  The approach that Pope Francis is taking seems to me to be that of a doctor who wants his patient to describe all of his symptoms, not holding anything back.  Like a good doctor, Pope Francis realizes that the Church cannot help people heal if she does not understand exactly what is causing their illness.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Catholic blogosphere seem not to believe this.  They feel that if everything is not going just as they feel it should, then the Pope is as far off the rails as the rest of Church hierarchy, and we don't even have to listen to the Holy Father.

The blogosphere has now concentrated their criticism of the Synod on the working document that was released, the "Relatio" as it is being called. You may read the entire document HERE, and I would suggest you do so. Yes, there are some very controversial statements in it, which Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa has said, "The message has gone out that this is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic Church is saying. It's not what we're saying at all."[HERE]   However, along with these controversial statements are also some very profound statements, such as that quoted above.

How can there be such disparity in this document? Because this document is essentially a very broad summary of the different topics discussed so far at the Synod and the views and opinions of those involved in the discussion. It is in not in any sense an official document of the Church. Yes, the secular media is running with it, but that still does not give the document any true authority. This document is essentially talking points, the basis for discussion, just as requested by Pope Francis. 

One of those leading the charge against the bishops at the Synod is, as could easily be predicted, Michael Voris. In his reports so far concerning the Synod, he has described the bishops there as "assorted wicked bishops, bishops who wear the robes but are, as Our Blessed Lord said, 'ravenous wolves.'" He is telling us that there is a "Holy War in Rome", with bishop against bishop.  He slandered specific bishops, such as Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., who Voris says "is no friend of the Church’s teachings regarding the reception of Holy Communion by Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried without having their previous marriage annulled."  

Voris assails and condemns the bishops with the following:
There is no doubt about it—no denying it any longer, Church-of-Nice defenders—the homosexual agenda has arrived full throttle in Rome, carried in by various bishops under the guise of mercy, charity, welcoming, etc. in their modernist baggage.
And this also must be said very clearly: There are bishops and cardinals in this Synod who no longer believe the Catholic Faith. They don’t sound Catholic, they don’t speak Catholic, they don’t think Catholic.
What purpose does this rhetoric serve except to divide brethren and turn them against those appointed by the Holy Spirit to watch over their souls? It would seem that Michael Voris has no interest in listening to anything or anyone that might suggest that the Church is not in a death spiral. He picks and chooses his facts. He made the following comment:
There hasn’t been one word here of sin, the need to take up one’s cross, sacrifice, conversion, confession, or anything of the like.
First of all, Michael Voris has no idea what specifics have or have not been discussed in the Synod because the discussions have all been behind closed doors.

Secondly, the document release by the Synod, proves him wrong.

Paragraph 14 specifically mentions the Cross:
14. Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19,8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross.
Paragraph 12 quotes Pope Francis about the great need to turn towards Christ:
12. In order to “walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ, to pause in contemplation and in adoration of His Face. ... Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed of possibilities open up” (Pope Francis, Address of 4 October 2014). Jesus looked upon the women and the men he met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God.
The need for conversion is mentioned in paragraph 28:
28. For this reason, what is required is a missionary conversion: it is necessary not to stop at an announcement that is merely theoretical and has nothing to do with people’s real problems. It must not be forgotten that the crisis of faith has led to a crisis in matrimony and the family and, as a result, the transmission of faith from parents to children has often been interrupted. Confronted by a strong faith, the imposition of certain cultural perspectives that weaken the family is of no importance.
Paragraph 35:
The importance of family spirituality and prayer needs to be underlined, encouraging couples to meet regularly to promote the growth of the spiritual life and solidarity in the concrete demands of life. Meaningful liturgies, devotional practices and the Eucharist celebrated for families, were mentioned as vital in favoring evangelization through the family.
The concluding paragraph puts everything in perspective.  This paragraph tells us that the points raised in the document were from discussions that "took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening."  These discussions were not about answering questions but just the opposite, "to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer..."
58. The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015. These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view. All the same the collegial path of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all. This is the wish that from the beginning of our work Pope Francis has extended to us, inviting us to the courage of the faith and the humble and honest welcome of the truth in charity.
Despite this, we have Michael Voris and others telling us that the Church is at war with herself and we will basically have to choose which side we are on.  As Voris says,
If there is anything good to come out of this event so far, it would be that the battle lines are being drawn clearly and that Satan is being exposed.
 And how does Voris know that "Satan is being exposed"?
You know the Enemy is present here, precisely because his name never comes up in anything told to the media, in any documents, speech summaries—anywhere. It’s as though to many of the Fathers of the Synod, he simply doesn’t exist.
Michael Voris is not privy to any of the numerous private meetings that are being held in the Synod. Yet he makes this horrendous accusation because "Satan" is never mentioned in any media documents or summaries. Hey Mikey, these are "summaries", not blow-by-blow descriptions.    Pope Francis told us that we can absolutely trust that the Holy Spirit is very active in Rome right now because "the Synod always unfolds cum Petro et sub Petro, and the Pope’s presence is the guarantee for all and protection of the faith."  I think I will believe the Vicar of Christ before I believe Voris or any of his cohorts.  

Voris tells us:
This isn’t Catholic by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, it doesn’t even rise to the level of bad Protestantism.
Again, Voris makes this horrific accusation based not on any actual knowledge but on reports and summaries, and as I have shown, he has misrepresented even those things which have been made public.  Voris completely discounts the words of Pope Francis and the promise that the Holy Spirit will not desert the Church.

Who is really doing the work of the devil?

Below is a wonderful video by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales of a press conference he did shortly before the Extraordinary Synod began.  He gives an excellent explanation of the process which we are watching:
Could I present you with an image to begin with? The first serious public discussion of the themes of this Synod took place last February at a meeting of the Consistory of Cardinals to which I was admitted as a newly nominated cardinal. I said after that the discussion there had been like an overture. It was something that signaled many of the themes that would be developed in due course. So it moved quickly from theme to theme.

This Extraordinary Synod, I would like to suggest to you, is a first movement of a piece of music. Only a first movement. What will happen after this Synod, there will be a second movement. And that will be the 12 months in between the two Synods of Bishops. Now those of you who know classical movement format, second movements are often more meditative, they're quieter. They're to be listened to perhaps more intently. And I think what goes on throughout the Church worldwide between these two Synods is a very important part of the overall composition.

The third movement, which as you know is often quite dramatic, will be the Ordinary Synod in October 2015. That will be attended by elected members of bishops' conferences.

And then in musical terms there will be a finale, which will be whatever the Holy Father concludes if this Synod follows the normal pattern. So in due course there will be an Apostolic Exhortation such a Evangelii Gaudium. And that will express the mind of the Church through the Pope on the matters that have been talked about.

So it's very important that we understand where this Extraordinary Synod sits in the whole process the Catholic Church worldwide is embarking on.

I would suggest watching the whole video.  It is very enlightening.

Interestingly, today is the feast of the great Saint Teresa of Avila.  One of her most famous quotes is:
Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rest in Peace, Father Groeschel

Father Benedict Groeschel and Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Father Benedict Groeschel died on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis.  I was able to hear Father Groeschel speak many times and had the great honor of meeting him on a few different occasions.  He was the real deal.  He made some missteps along the way - don't we all - but there can be no doubt of his love for our Lord, the Church and the poor.  He completely dedicated his life to fulfilling the Gospel.  

I remember the first time I saw Father Groeschel in person.  I had seen him on EWTN many times and knew he was a celebrity.  However, my first impressions were of a very down to earth and humble man.  He was wearing sandals that were beat up to say the least and his simple gray habit tied with a rope.  He greeted anyone and everyone who came up to him, giving all that warm smile with a twinkle in his deep blue eyes.  He spoke in plain English with no attempt to impress anyone.  He had a wonderful sense of humor.  And his speech was filled with love for Our Lord, to whom he completely dedicated his life.  

Father Groeschel always told us that he fully expected a stay in Purgatory.  I think he may have been "disappointed."  He suffered tremendously in the last several years of his life, and was never without pain since his near death experience after being hit by a car in Florida in 2004.  I believe he suffered his purgatory here on earth.  That did not stop him from his ministry.  He was everywhere, traveling far and wide and a fixture on EWTN.  

I really like this quote from Father Groeschel:
Bishop Sheen used to say that there is nothing worse than wasted suffering. And that is certainly true. I was taught by the sisters long ago in Catholic school to unite my sufferings, works, and prayers each day with Christ, and I continue to do that through the heart of Mary. It gave great meaning to me while I was in the hospital and idle, unable to work for the salvation of souls, to be able to offer the pains and the patience required by them as a prayer for the world.

You have to be careful with suffering. One has to be careful not to enjoy it, or focus on it, or expand it too much. Then suffering becomes the goal. The goal is not suffering; the goal is loving patience, offered to God as best one can. And the humility to admit that we don’t do this very well. One of the things I learned from my illness is that over and over again we have to tell God that we really trust Him. Trusting in God is not one action; it’s an ongoing way of life.
On this Feast Day of St. Francis, an antiphon from the Divine Office said, "Francis left this earth a poor and lowly man; he enters heaven rich in God’s favor, greeted with songs of rejoicing." The same could be said of Fr. Benedict Groeschel. There is little doubt in my mind that he is now rejoicing in heaven with his good friend, Mother Teresa, and Father Solanus Casey, whom he also knew, and St. Francis himself.

Pray for us, Father Groeschel. We need it.

Well done, good and faithful servant.  

Cardinal Kasper Explains Why He Is Wrong

There has been a tremendous amount of cyber ink spilled on the subject of divorced and remarried Catholics being readmitted to the sacraments, specifically being able to receive Holy Communion while in an invalid marriage. Cardinal Walter Kasper is at the front of the line heading the charge that such individuals be allowed to receive the sacraments.

I have great respect for Cardinal Kasper, who is a very well regarded Catholic theologian (despite what you hear over the Internet), and I believe he is also a very devout prince of the Church. Up to this point, I have been withholding judgment on this matter of divorced and remarried Catholics, although I admit that I actually wanted Cardinal Kasper to be right.

However, Catholic News Service just released a video of excerpts of an interview with Cardinal Kasper in which he left no doubt that he is completely wrong on this subject. His own words condemn his position, and I have no choice but to admit that. You can watch the video below.

You will see that the first words of Cardinal Kasper on this video are, "If there's a second union, well it's not a sacramental one." Those words of and by themselves should end the discussion. He tries to mitigate this statement with his next statement, "It's not of the same level as the first one." Not of the same level? That is like saying an Episcopalian bishop is not of the same level as a Catholic bishop. "Levels" has nothing to do with this.  One is legitimate, the other is not.  The "second union" of which Cardinal Kasper speaks is an illegitimate union in the eyes of the Church and God.  And Cardinal Kasper has admitted as much in his first statement.  His second statement does not lessen that truth in any way.

I am sure that I do not need to tell Cardinal Kasper that it is not possible to make anything holy which has not been made holy by Our Lord. Cardinal Kasper knows this, and has even admitted it. Yet, he continues to persist. After admitting that a civil marriage cannot be sacramental, he says the civil union "can be seen some marriage elements of a marriage and of a family. There is love, there is commitment, there is exclusivity. It is forever, there is prayer life, there are children. . ." Cardinal Kasper is arguing that if something looks like the real thing, then it can be accepted as the real thing, even though it has not been blessed by the Holy Spirit.

The other day, my husband and I were walking past beautiful old All Saints Episcopalian church in Brooklyn. The doors were open and we could see a magnificent high altar, and there was even a lit sanctuary lamp next to it. If we didn't know better, we would have sworn this was a Catholic Church. But putting in a high altar with a lit sanctuary lamp does not make it Catholic nor does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the tabernacle.

Below is a picture of All Saints Episcopal Church, which at first glance looks very Catholic. But you will notice that this is a marriage of two men. Ah, how deceptive looks can be!

I am really amazed that Cardinal Kasper would make the argument that because a relationship "looks" legitimate and even contains certain real elements of a true marriage, that somehow makes it valid and legitimate.  The picture above of a same sex wedding looks legitimate and contains many elements of a real wedding, but it can never be any more than play acting for those involved.  And that is just as true for illegitimate second "marriages" among Catholics.  

Cardinal Kasper then went on making more arguments which, again, show that his position is untenable. He says of those divorced and remarried, "To say every sexual act is sinful, that's different. If you tell people who live this way, and they do it in a responsible way, to tell them that's adultery, permanent adultery, I think they would feel insulted and offended." Yes, Your Eminence, people involved in sin no doubt feel "insulted and offended" when you point out their sin. But do we really have any other choice? Cardinal Kasper's statement that people in invalid marriages can have sexual relations "in a responsible way" just makes no sense whatsoever. Does sin stop being sin if we somehow sin "responsibly"? What does that even mean? The fact is, that statement has no meaning at all.

Cardinal Kasper then makes an even more ludicrous statement: "Such a sexual relationship within such a couple has also its positive values, it's not only its negative values, and I think the first word the church always, in every situation, is a 'yes'." I guess the positive values are that the couple is involved in only one sinful monogamous relationship instead of multiple, promiscuous relationships. So I guess, according to Cardinal Kasper, jumping off of a 10 story building would be less damaging to us than jumping off of a 40 story building, even though the results are the same.  I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland at this point.  

Cardinal Kasper continues, and it actually gets even worse, "I'm happy that God gives you this love and that you can express this love. It's not the fullness already, but who of us loves God and loves the neighbor as he should do it?" Cardinal Kasper is saying that those involved in an invalid marriage are involved in an "imperfect" relationship, but the rest of us have no right to judge such relationships because we are not perfect, either. Cardinal Kasper knows that the Church not only has a right to judge such relationships, it is her DUTY to judge these relationships. The Church cannot endorse any situations that are spiritually harmful to Church members. Not to make a judgment on these invalid marriages would actually be a dereliction of the Church's duty.

Cardinal Kasper then says it is his duty to accompany these couples in their invalid marriages, and encourage them "to do according to their conscience when it is a very mature conscience." The Cardinal is actually saying that, even though someone is living in violation of church teaching, if the people involved have a "mature conscience", then it is okay to encourage them to follow that "mature conscience."

Cardinal Kasper is a great theologian, so I know he has read Roman 1:28 which says, "Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done." A conscience that is formed outside of Church teaching cannot be trusted. We can never support anyone who is living in direct opposition to Church dogma. I truly cannot understand how Cardinal Kasper can make statements that are contrary to this.

But the worst of Cardinal's Kasper's statements are still to come. He says, "On God, everybody has always, if he wants, a chance. And God gives a new chance." That statement is absolutely, unequivocally true. Our Lord never stops calling out to us, calling us to repentance and His Love and Mercy. Our sin can and often does drown out the Voice of God, but that doesn't mean He stops calling to us.

But then Cardinal Kasper goes off the rails. He says, "After a shipwreck, you do not get a new ship, but you can have a plank in order to survive. And that's the mercy of God." This is absolutely, completely false. Our Lord did not come to earth and pour out His Life on the cross to give us a "plank" so that we could merely "survive." As recorded in John 10:10, Our Lord said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." St. Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Our Lord wants us to experience His Saving Grace fully and abundantly, not just a small piece of it marred by our sin.

In Luke 5:36-37, Jesus said:
"No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins."
Cardinal Kasper is telling us that God's mercy will allow us to stay in our sin and that He will give us a "plank" that will somehow stop our sin from destroying us.  It seems that Cardinal Kasper truly believes that the great Mercy of God will allow people to stay in their sin and have only a piece of the Holy Spirit (if even that much) instead of being filled with the Holy Spirit and in a full relationship with Him. 

This goes against everything taught by Our Lord and the Apostles.  When we come to Christ, we must get rid of everything that hinders our relationship with Him, and that means getting rid of ALL of our sin.

St. Paul wrote Philipians 3:7-8:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Does Cardinal Kasper think that St. Paul is saying we must get rid of everything that hinders us except an invalid marriage? Does Cardinal Kasper think St. Paul would agree that if an invalid marriage has enough elements of a valid marriage, and the couple involved have a "mature" conscience, this somehow brings them into the graces of God?

Our Lord told us in Matthew 18:8-9:
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Certainly Our Lord did not mean that we should literally maim ourselves, but He did mean that we should be ruthless and unrelenting in getting rid of anything that is sinful in our lives.

I really wanted to believe that there was a way for divorced and remarried Catholics to be able to receive the sacraments. Nothing I had read up to this time convinced me one way or the other on this issue. But this video of Cardinal Kasper leave no doubt in my mind. I now realize, from his own words, that Cardinal Kasper is wrong on this issue. I find no joy in this at all. This is an extremely divisive issue in the Church, and Cardinal Kasper is actually making it wore by his insistence on taking a stance against Church doctrine while trying to convince us that he is upholding Church teaching. And I think that he actually does believe this. At the same time, I still believe it is very important that the issue be explored and discussed among the bishops so that they will be able to show the world that there is no other possible judgment.

We really need to be in prayer about the Synod which starts on Sunday, October 5. We need to pray that all involved are completely submissive to the Holy Spirit, and that it will not prove to be a cause of division among Catholics. We are at a crucial point in the world and in the Church. We cannot allow Satan to have the upper hand. 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Candidate for Patron Saint of Bloggers: St. Therese of Lisieux

The only way to advance rapidly in the path of love is to remain always very little. That is what I did, and now I can sing with our holy Father, St. John of the Cross: 'Then I abased myself so low, so very low, That I ascended to such heights, such heights indeed, That I did overtake the prey I chased!'
St. Therese of Lisieux

Today is the Feast Day of St. Therese of Liseux, one of our most amazing saints.  She is the patron saint of missionaries although she was never a missionary.  She is a doctor of the Church, even though she wrote only one book - her biography - and was never even a teacher in her short life.  She lived only 24 years and died as an unknown little nun.  Yet, she is now loved and revered around the world, and considered one of our greatest saints.

I would also propose that St. Therese be named the patron saint of bloggers. Why? St. Therese taught the "little way", which means making ourselves as small and insignificant as possible. Her "little way" includes accepting personal insults without striking back, and in this way making ourselves a part of the suffering of Our Lord, who took all of our sins upon Himself.
Think of how different the Internet would be if bloggers got rid of all of the self righteousness and indignation with which so many of us express ourselves, and we instead treated one another with love and understanding, even though we disagree with one another.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who modeled herself after the Little Flower, had a "Humility List" which corresponds with the teaching of St. Therese of Liseux:
1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
I am using this opportunity to confess that I have failed miserably in living this list on this blog and on the Internet in general.  I have been subjected to some pretty nasty name calling, such as bloviating crackpot, an evil rotheart, a megalomaniac and a twit, to list just a few of the pejoratives used against me.  I've also gotten "hysteria and irrational methodology", "Your behavior is impulsive and irrational", "You have been inconsiderate, unreasonable, and biased", "your rhetoric is blatantly dishonest, it's why you have a double standard". One of the "nicer" things said about me is that I am "clueless." I confess that I more often than not allow my pride to get in the way and have reacted to these insults with indignation. Hardly the way of St. Therese and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

As a Catholic blogger, with the emphasis on "Catholic", I am here and now making a pledge, in the spirit of the "Little Way" of St. Therese of Lisieux, never to get involved in personal attacks against others.  I will continue to comment on issues and show where and when I think others are wrong in their opinions and even in their actions.  That is the definition of blogging about the issues.  But I will never again make personal attacks against others, judging their character in any way.  

More importantly, I will never again respond in any way to personal attacks made against me.  I am going to write my blog and live my life according to Blessed Mother Teresa's "Humility List."   I accept personal attacks from others as a tool to help me in my own spiritual growth, as a reminder that I am just a sinful human being in great need of correction.

There is no need to fight our personal battles. We have a Savior who will fight for us. We are told in the Divine Office, "Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you." It is not necessary to win every argument or even win any arguments. The ultimate aim of all we do should be to spread the Love of Jesus Christ, and the best way to do that is to allow Him fight our battles for us.

In reading the Gospels, you will never see even one instance where our Lord defended his personal honor against others.  He always defended the Gospel, but when it came to personal attacks, He never once struck back.  This is most especially seen when He was crucified.  In fact, one of His last statements was made on behalf of those who were crucifying Him:  "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."  

The Word of God warns constantly of the senselessness of arguing, and just how self defeating it is:

Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Proverbs 15:18 - "A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel."

II Timothy 2:14 - "Keep reminding God's people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen."

II Timothy 2:23 - "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels."

James 4:1 - "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"

I know that when I argue with others, it is far too often not because I am searching for the truth, but because I want to prove how right I am.  It is a matter of ego.  It is in direct contradiction to the teachings of that great doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux, who taught the "little way." 

Following are a few quotes from St. Therese by which I think every blogger should live: 
"And it is the Lord, it is Jesus, Who is my judge. Therefore I will try always to think leniently of others, that He may judge me leniently, or rather not at all, since He says: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged."
"You are wrong to find fault with this thing and with that, or to try and make everyone see things as you see them. We desire to be 'as little children,' and little children do not know what is best: to them all seems right. Let us imitate their ways. Besides, there is no merit in doing what reason dictates."
"When something painful or disagreeable happens to me, instead of a melancholy look, I answer by a smile. At first I did not always succeed, but now it has become a habit which I am glad to have acquired."
“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant ones, count as nothing.”
“It is better to leave each one in his own opinion than to enter into arguments.”
I think it is important that Catholic voices are heard on the Internet, but let us try to follow the way of the Little Flower. Let the Catholic voice be one of love and true concern, and not just a matter of showing how "right" we are. When someone personally attacks you, be it on the Internet or in your personal relationships, instead of striking back and answering in a like manner, think of this quote from St. Therese:
“Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.”
St. Therese, pray for us.


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