What does the word “virtuous” conjure up in your mind? Are you thinking of someone who is holier than thou? Are you thinking that it’s definitely not you? Well, think again! We all have good character traits that others see in us. Those good character traits are virtuous! And yes, we also have certain qualities about us that might not be so attractive. But that’s life! We are an imperfect people, striving for perfection that will be obtained in the next life. But for today, we are all on a journey, working our way home to Heaven! In this life, we have choices to make: Do we want to grow closer to God, or do we covet sin and vice? Read more…
I’m noticing that there is a growth in a troubling trend on the internet. Some Catholics, whether on Facebook, blogs or comments on articles, have begun to elevate their rhetoric over personal preferences on policy to the point that they accuse other Catholics who question whether that policy is good or prudent of supporting evil or otherwise being a bad Catholic. I call this troubling because of the fact that the Church does allow us some leeway in determining how best to promote a Church teaching or oppose an evil.
Distinguishing Between Church Teaching and Personal Preference
Let’s clarify something first. When the teaching authority of the Church says that we must do X or must never do Y, then to refuse to do X or to choose to do Y is morally wrong. Moreover, to encourage others to disobey the Church on either issue would be causing scandal. Therefore, in our advocacy for a thing or our opposition to a thing, we absolutely cannot contradict Church teaching. If we oppose Church teaching, we do evil. That’s indisputable when it comes to our moral obligation.
But when two people agree that the Church teaching must be followed, but disagree with each other on the ways and means to sincerely and most effectively carry out the Church teaching, then it is unjust of Person 1 to accuse Person 2 of not being faithful to Church teaching. Person 2 can disagree with the prudence or philosophy of Person 1’s position without denying the truth of the Church teaching.
People who know me know that I like Aristotle’s definition of truth. It is a simple definition and it lays out parameters for understanding the reality of what is said:
To say that what is is not, or that what is not is, is false; but to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true; and therefore also he who says that a thing is or is not will say either what is true or what is false. (Metaphysics 1011b.20–39)
Aristotle, Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vols.17, 18, Translated by Hugh Tredennick. (Medford, MA: Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1933, 1989).
So, when we speak, what we say either corresponds to reality or it does not. Unfortunately, society today does not seem to care for discovering what corresponds with reality. Rather many people prefer an interpretation of events that justifies themselves and puts those they agree with in a bad light. The result of this mindset is the fact that people will only listen to what makes them comfortable and seek to reject what makes them uncomfortable. But if what makes them comfortable is false, then their sources are harmful in seeking out the truth and living in accordance with it.
So, I saw on a blog the other day where the author was citing an authority for a moral issue. In this case the author was citing the SSPX and said that the SSPX was “for real about Church discipline” and he was willing to listen to them. On the other hand, the author has no respect for the teaching authority of the current Pope and the bishops. When someone called the author out of this, asking about the contradiction of the SSPX being disobedient, the author replied that the SSPX followed all pre-conciliar teachings and disciplines. To which the reply was “except obedience to the Pope.”
Now I’m not naming the blog or linking to the article in question, because the point of this article is not about condemning a person or article or website. Rather, watching this exchange, I found myself reflecting on the common epithet “Cafeteria Catholicism” and what distinguishes Cafeteria Catholicism from other people who find themselves running afoul of the Church. Are all of us Cafeteria Catholics on account of our sins? Or does the term reflect a specific mindset?
Thanks is an easy word to say…
… but sometimes it doesn’t get expressed as often as it should. Therefore, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to take this time and space to specifically say thank you:
- To God, for blessing me with abundant graces. He guides me every day. He loves me unconditionally. He forgives my transgressions and extends mercy on my soul.
- To my husband, for your never-ending, self-giving love, support and friendship.
- To my family and friends who share my joys and sorrows. Your love is pure gold to me.
- To all of my followers:… Read more…
Lose weight at this time of year?
Yes, it can be done!
Lose weight the right way – this time for the right reasons and for good! It’s that time of year, when we are tempted to imbibe on eggnog and eat all sorts of baked goods. The temptations are everywhere you look: At the grocery store, on TV, in magazines; even in your own home.
Would you like to get through this holiday season and not gain weight? Maybe even lose a pound or two? If so, let me introduce you to the process I used to lose 60 pounds… Read more…
After the Paris attacks, proposals for resettling Syrian refugees have become widely debated. On one side, we see people arguing that the risk of terrorist infiltration means we cannot allow anybody into our country, and asking why Muslim countries can’t take them in. On the other side, we see people arguing that we have an obligation to help these people regardless of those risks of infiltration. Unfortunately, these debates are polarizing and tend to demonize their opponents. Those who stress security portray the other side as advocating a blind throwing open of the doors. Those who advocate helping refugees portray the other side as “being afraid of widows and three year old orphans” or being the party of Herod (no lie. I actually saw a Catholic blogger make that charge).
This is actually the Either-Or fallacy which assumes the two extremes are the only possibilities and the position which is contrary to the support view is very bad. The fallacy overlooks the possibility that there can be three or more possible actions to take and that their opponents don’t actually hold the position attributed to them (the Straw man fallacy). Some of these debates can be quite uncharitable…
Compassion is not seasonal!
Compassion seems popular this time of year. We tend to share our abundance with those less fortunate in the form of donations to shelters and food banks. Why is it that we only tend to take this action predominantly in November and December? People are hungry and homeless all year round. I don’t have a definitive answer for this question, but I think it has something to do with processing tax deductions. Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical. However, I think we need to move beyond tax donations. We need to enter… Read more…
Children Copy Us
Children mirror what they learn from adults and older siblings in their lives. So, just what is it that you are teaching the children in your life? Are you teaching them, by your example, how to grow in virtue? Or, are you teaching them the very things that you don’t want them to become? In essence, do you practice what you preach? Or, is it more of a “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality around your house?
On my blog, I write about the virtues for adults, to benefit not only the adults, but the lives of children. My blog teaches you as an adult, how to embrace and practice virtue; so that you can be good role models for the children in your lives. If, as adults, we do not embrace and practice virtue, then how can we expect our children to grow in virtue? Read more…
What’s most tiresome about the attacks against the Holy Father is that they essentially make an unsubstantiated accusation of the Pope seeking to change Church teaching to embrace error. What this boils down to, however, is that the critics are claiming that they have a proper understanding of the faith while that of the Pope or, in many cases, the whole Church is in error and must be opposed. In other words, if the Pope does not behave in the way his critics want him to behave he is considered to be heretical and working to destroy the Catholic faith—though whether he does so through incompetence or malice, the critics have not come to an agreement on.
When challenged on this by defenders, these critics then misrepresent any attempt to disprove their claims as “explaining away” what was said or “claiming infallibility” for every little thing the Pope says or does. I once, not too long ago, had critics accuse me of being blind because, I always defended him and disagreed with their interpretations of the Pope’s words and actions. I find that to be rather alarming: The anti-Francis mindset has reached the point where the accusations are assumed to be true by default, and these critics refuse to consider the possibility that they misinterpreted what the Pope actually said.