Christianity, believing God exists and that we must always seek to know, love and serve Him, sometimes finds itself at odds with a society which embraces values which reject what God commands. When that happens, we discover that the one unforgivable sin in society is choosing to obey God rather than men. I’m of the view that this happens because people don’t like to be told they are wrong in how they choose to live. If someone should dare to be a living witness to the fact that the values embraced by society are wrong, the society wants to silence that witness.
I believe Christianity receives this hostility because it is denouncing the idols of society. Sometimes those idols are literal, like the Roman Empire. Sometimes those idols are false ideas and values that deceive people into doing evil and calling it good. Either way, societies react badly when the Church says “I will not burn incense at your altar.” However, while some individuals may compromise, the Church herself cannot, and neither can the members who seek to be faithful to Our Lord. The Church is not called to conform to the world, but to lead it away from idolatry to the truth of God.
Today is Holy Wednesday. In today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew 26: 14-25 we hear of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ:
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.
We are Judas when we betray Christ
I think it is safe to say, that we are all kindred spirits to Judas Iscariot. We may not want to go there and admit it, but… Read more…
In 1881, in the midst of attacks of the nation-states on the Catholic Church, Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903) issued the encyclical Diuturnum on the authority of civil governments. In it, he lays down the source and the scope of that authority. Far from being an anarchistic document or demanding the establishment of a theocracy, Pope Leo XIII indicated that a legitimate government with legitimate laws has the right to be obeyed. However, that government does not have absolute authority over every aspect of life. There are paths which a government might be tempted to take but, if they make that decision, their authority vanishes. His encyclical, Diuturnum, says:
It was just another day of the week, or was it? Jesus knew, as God, that before the week would end, He will have given His life, for many, to conquer death.
What must Jesus have been thinking?
He arrived in Jerusalem the day before; greeted with fanfare; literally, with palms waving in the springtime breeze. Jesus knew, only too well, how fickle man can be; how in the blink of an eye, they would turn on Him. He would be turned over to the authorities and would be put to death. Jesus only had a few more days to… Read more…
As all couples know, marriage is hard. However, our marital struggles become easier when we realize our growing pains are simply part of the normal process all couples must go through as they move from infatuation to a deep, mature, sacramental love. Mercy in marriage is the only way to not only survive marriage but to thrive as a couple and become unified and one in Christ. Listening to another Catholic couple explain this process from a faith perspective, as well as share their own struggle, encourages other couples.
I think it is time for another edition of Quick Quips because there are a number of problematic behaviors appearing that are incompatible with our Catholic faith that Catholics seem to be in danger of adopting.
Justice Requires Us To Act Justly Even if Others Act Unjustly
In Plato’s Republic, there is a discussion about justice. One of the guests (Simonides) discusses the nature of justice when it comes to giving a person his due and describes it as “it is that which renders benefits and harms to friends and enemies.” (Republic, 332D). During the course of the discussion, Socrates demolishes this assumption, pointing out that justice is about doing right to a person, regardless of whether the person is a friend or an enemy. That shouldn’t be a surprise to the Christian. We believe our Lord told us:
There is no doubt that this election is going to be a difficult one for people who are appalled by the statements made by our major candidates. They are asking questions along the lines of “who can I vote for in a good conscience?” Unfortunately, these people are often being accused of bad faith to the point of not caring about the issues the accuser finds important. Confusing the issue is the fact that some people are supporting candidates for reasons contrary to Catholic teaching or are supporting a candidate for reasons which seem superficial and flippant. It is easy to confuse people in the first category with people in the second. Another problem is that some confuse questioning one candidate with supporting another. This results in many people feeling on the defensive over having their orthodoxy challenged while also believing that people with different views are not orthodox Catholics. It’s a vicious circle.
I think that a passage from a book written by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in 2008 is especially relevant here.
Blessed are the Stressed: Secrets to a Happy Heart from a Crabby Mystic, by Mary Lea Hill, FSP
Feeling stressed, but not necessarily blessed? Do you want to feel better about the direction of your life? Well, Blessed are the Stressed: Secrets to a Happy Heart from a Crabby Mystic, by Sister Mary Lea Hill, FSP focuses on reducing your stress by embracing the tenets of the Beatitudes. Specifically, this book addresses the importance the Beatitudes play in your life, especially in a culture that tells us that happiness can be found in a slick new car, or a fancy new house. According to Sister Mary Lea, true happiness, or blessedness, is found in… Read more…
You see, I love going to confession. Besides the Eucharist, Confession is my favorite sacrament. (Crazy, I know!) Don’t get me wrong, I still get nervous sometimes when I go to confession. I sometimes think I don’t have anything to say. And yes, I often confess the same things over again. But that’s okay!…Read More…
I recently discovered the writings of the “Forgotten Pope,” Pope John Paul I, who reigned for just over a month in 1978 before dying. While his body of work was very small, I find he had some insightful things to say. For example, in an audience on September 20th, 1978, he told this story of a personal experience:
Some one will say: what if I am a poor sinner? I reply to him as I replied to an unknown lady, who had confessed to me many years ago. She was discouraged because, she said, she had a stormy life morally. “May I ask you”, I said. “how old you are?”
—“Thirty-five! But you can live for another forty or fifty and do a great deal of good. So, repentant as you are, instead of thinking of the past, project yourself into the future and renew your life. with God’s help.”
John Paul I, Audiences of Pope John Paul I (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013).