So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, March 16, 2015

In a civilized society ideas are shared and evaluated.

It was William F. Buckley Jr., if memory serves, who said something to the effect that the answer to offensive speech is not to suppress freedom of speech but to answer offensive speech with more speech. That 'answer' might include condemnation of offensive speech and perhaps a healthy application of ridicule (of ideas) to expose ideas that are a threat to civilization.

In a civilized society ideas are shared and evaluated. Ideas are measured against received wisdom. In wisdom there is no lie.
No one heals himself by wounding another.—St. Ambrose
The thought of imposing an idea to gain a disciple is simply not tenable for Catholics. Coercive behaviour is ineffective in bringing someone around to the saving message of the Holy Gospel. A Catholic seeks to propose to nonbelievers ideas that are harmonious with the received Tradition of the Catholic Church so as to lead the seeker to Jesus Christ and the healing peace which only Christ can give.

For the faithful believer, the disciple of Jesus Christ, the realities which the Church proposes are binding on those who freely accept Jesus' call. A disciple may not put his or her hand to the plough, as it were, then ignore the demands of the Gospel upon his or her life. The demands of the Gospel, unlike the demands of the world, for example, are life giving. The Gospel leads one into an ever deepening appreciation of the mystery of love, the drama of man's redemption by God and the journey of a soul into the heart of God. Anyone who has ever been in love knows that love is demanding. Anyone who has been in love knows that authentic love magnifies the inherent dignity of the people involved. Those who enter willingly into the relationship of self sacrificing love in Holy Matrimony are bound together in a lifelong communion. In such a binding communion two people discover authentic freedom, a freedom made possible because the spouses are bound together in Christ.

The Tradition of the Church is a body of entirely reasonable teaching verified in word and deed by countless saints who have embodied the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been rightly said that the teaching of the Church points to the person of Jesus Christ. Catholics propose a person—Jesus, through and with and in Whom we enter into an intimate communion of love with God—not mere doctrine. All orthodox doctrine confirms the truth of Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation.
We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become.—St. Clare of Assisi
Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.—St. Francis of Assisi
Unfortunately, the ability of Catholics and other believers in Christ to share the message of the Gospel is constantly threatened these days by restrictive measures that claim to defend the common good. How is the common good served when ideas that have successfully guided human relationships both political and personal for more than two thousand years are suddenly and irrationally marginalized as a threat to society? How can anyone recall the vast intellectual, scientific, artistic and social legacy (hospitals, schools, universities, relief services) of the Church and then say that the Catholic Church is a threat to civilization? Is it not historical fact that the Faith also liberated peoples from practices which subjected people to the tyranny of human sacrifice, revenge and idolatry, practices which offend the dignity of the human person?
The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.—St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Catholics distinguish between people and their behaviour: love the sinner, reject the sin. Thus, we can say that we believe in the dignity of all people while rejecting behaviours which impinge on human dignity. Unfortunately, the consequence of failing to understanding and appreciate those distinctions leads many to think that people are the sum total of their actions. Such a narrow view of the human person imprisons people within their actions and eliminates any consideration that a person is capable of change. By contrast, the Catholic Christian viewpoint offers a vision of hope to those who want to change and embrace a new life of love, hope and joy.

Is it not reasonable for any citizen to peacefully assert the right to propose ideas in the public square, a forum in which all should be permitted to share views and opinions which can then be evaluated for the sake of the common good? Surely democracy needs the protection of the fundamental rights of life, speech, religion and conscience in order for democracy to flourish. With no small amount of irony, some people, in the name of tolerance, are not willing to extend tolerance to Christian institutions comprised of people with religious convictions that created our free and justice oriented societies.

In an era when legitimate authority is too often looked upon with suspicion and casual disregard, is it any wonder then that the wisdom of our elders is being marginalized? The tabloid tips for living that are offered in a trendy magazine, for example, are hardly a lasting benefit to people in need of the deep knowledge of the human person affirmed in the Catholic Faith.

A generation without roots will repeat the worst errors of previous generations without realizing that their own actions are, in fact, intolerant, destructive, coercive and uncivilized.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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