In modern times, Christianity has a problem with people who choose not to follow the people who are the appointed leaders. They believe that when the Church differs with them, the personal preference is to be heeded, not the Church. Such an attitude is understandable when we deal with Non-Catholics who do not believe that the Catholic Church is the Church established by Christ, or non-Christians and non-religious people denying Christianity altogether. The point of Christianity is that it professes to have revelation from God, and that people who have been entrusted with the authority of applying that revelation have their teaching backed by this revelation. So a person who does not believe Christianity possesses any such revelation, it stands to reason that they won’t follow the teachings of that Church.
However, when it comes to Christianity, which professes to believe in the God of the Old Testament and believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God, this faith necessarily presupposes that God has given us realization—through the Law, the Prophets and finally through His Son. When the Christian falls afoul of the commandments in some way, the fact is he or she is behaving in a way which God has revealed to us to be counter to the way He wants us to live. Furthermore, when God has revealed that authority has been given to certain human beings to bind and to loose (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18) for the purpose of bring the message of salvation and teaching His commandments so that people may live as He commands (Matthew 28:19-20 and Revelation 22:11), then obedience to that human authority is a part of being faithful to that revelation of God.
Regular readers of mine probably know my favorite quotation of Aristotle, his definition of truth by heart, but it’s time to cite it again:
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.
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).
What brings up this citation this time is my seeing a growing number of people on the internet willing to impute motives to people based on their own interpretation of the quoted words, without concern as to whether the author intends those interpretations or not. It’s an important thing to keep in mind. If we want to speak truthfully about a person, we must make sure that our interpretation of his or her words are what the author intends before we praise or criticize the author/speaker in question. If we don’t do this, then we speak falsely about the person and our criticism is either wrong or, if it’s right, it’s only right by coincidence.
Wish! Make a wish!
It’s a new year, with new beginnings; filled with hope for better tomorrows. What is it that you would like to see happen this year? Where does your hope lie? For me, I wish for the usual things, like good health for Nick and me. However, when I broaden my horizons and begin to think of others, I wish, and pray, mostly for peace.
I actually pray for… Read more…
There is a rhetorical question out there, derived from the military, which goes: Is this the hill you want to die on? The meaning of the question was “Is this objective worth the cost?” (i.e. is this objective worth dying over?). The question has a wider usage now, but the basic meaning is the same: Is this fight worth the effort? It’s certainly a question we need to ask ourselves, keeping in mind the ultimate goals of our life on Earth. It’s especially worth asking ourselves as we seek to understand whether a task is a part of our life as a Christian or a distraction from it.
The world is full of disputes, and the Christian has to determine whether a dispute is one about his Christian values or about one’s preferences over how they would like things to be. When it comes to the former, the Christian of course needs to take a stand for his beliefs. But if it does not concern the Christian values dieectfy or actually reflects a worldly or aesthetic concern, then the Christian needs to consider well the importance—or lack thereof—when it comes to making a dispute over it. They especially need to consider this well when they are willing to indict those who disagree with their views.
It’s that time of year once again, when we assess how we are doing; when we make resolutions to do things we have yet to do, or to do things differently. We want to see positive change! Yet, we are all creatures of habit, and sometimes our habits are not good. That is why every January we make resolutions to eat healthier, to stop smoking/drinking/taking drugs, etc. only to fall off the wagon as soon as the first temptation crosses our paths.
Have you ever stopped to think about why you are tempted; not what tempts you, but why you are tempted? Read more…
On one of the Catholic news sites out there, I was involved in a debate with another reader about the issue of divorce and remarriage. This individual argued that the Church, in confirming that remarriage after divorce (as opposed to receiving an annulment first) is morally wrong, was ignoring the words of Our Lord concerning the parable of the lost sheep. In other words, this individual was asserting that to show mercy to the divorced and remarried, the Church had to stop teaching their actions were sinful and needed to admit them to Communion.
This kind of thinking confuses mercy with tolerating a lack of restraint, and misses the point of what mercy is. It seeks to assuage the conscience of the sinner by telling him or her that their actions are not even sins at all. The Church is accused of being merciless because she will not change herself when people demand that she stop saying things are sins. The reason she will not is because she cannot contradict God’s commands without being faithless to God. When God commands that we do X or avoid Y, the Church cannot permit us to avoid doing X or permit us to do Y. As Our Lord said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Oxymoron is defined as “a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in ‘cruel kindness’ or ‘to make haste slowly’” (dictionary.com). Here’s another one: jumbo shrimp (my favorite oxymoron).
Well, given today’s politics and discourse that we hear from the politicians, I believe that I am about to coin a new oxymoron: virtuous politician. There must be some, somewhere, don’t you think? I can be hopeful. However, where are they? Has anyone seen one? If so, please let me know, because I would like to shake that person’s hand. I cringe to think that… Read more…
Dance with joy!
Joy is different from happiness. Many people equate the two incorrectly. Happiness is fleeting; joy is lasting. Where joy has no “conditions,” happiness does have “conditions.” I’ll be happy if…where we place conditions on what makes us happy. Do you hear those words, “we” and “us” in that last sentence? We define happiness in this life, and we easily can disappoint ourselves; especially when the criterion for happiness is left up to us to decide upon. Many think that riches and fame will bring happiness; but that is not necessarily true. We search for happiness in vain, … Read more…
Does it elude you? It seems that during this time of year, everyone wishes each other “Peace on earth” (Luke 2:14). Do you view this sentiment with hope, or do you think it falls flat?
If you have Christ’s Peace within your own heart, I think you view this sentiment with great aspirations of hope, because you wish for others what you possess for yourself. If it falls flat, then perhaps you don not have the amount of Christ’s Peace within your own heart that you desire.
How would you know if you actually had Christ’s Peace within your own heart? Well, for starters, you… Read more…
One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to watch the movie, “A Christmas Carol.” One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when the ghost of Jacob Marley visits his old partner Ebenezer Scrooge. Marley tries to warn Scrooge to change his ways before it is too late. It’s too late for Marley, who drags the chains of sin and neglect with him for all eternity. Marley is seven years deceased, and warns Scrooge that Scrooge’s chains of sin and neglect are far greater than Marley’s, since Scrooge has had an additional seven years to commit sin and neglect. Jacob Marley tries to impart some wisdom; to explain… Read more…