Archives for May 2011

Politically incorrect

Two weeks ago I wrote about being charitable. Far too often people confuse this with “being nice” or even silence. What to say, when to say it and how to say it are interior arguments we have with ourselves. There can also be powerful external forces pushing on us too.

The external forces I am thinking of have the goal of imposing self-censorship upon others. The hoped for calculus is this: “if I say anything, I might be condemned for what I say and be liked less, so it is safer to say nothing.” There is a powerful list of tools in the arsenal of those who hope to control others speech and the truth they may proclaim:

Political incorrectness – speaking against popularly accepted secular “values” even when they are wrong. For example, supporting a male-only priesthood over false arguments such as equal rights or sexism.

Being non-charitable – taking exception to positions or actions which are morally wrong, contrary to the truth taught by Holy Mother Church and endanger the eternal soul of another. For example, telling a woman considering an abortion that it is wrong – regardless of her preferences, perceived choice, mistake or life situation.

Being judgmental – objectively judging right from wrong actions, especially when the facts are not in dispute. For example, judging the acts of the Governor of New York – a professed Catholic – who divorced and “remarried” (a woman who is also divorced) and who often scandalizes the Church through his strong support of abortion (as a well known Catholic figure).

Being intolerant – refusing to accept the free-will choices of others, even when they (at least superficially) “don’t affect you.” For example, refusing to embrace the attack against families led by those seeking acceptance and approval of immoral sexual relationships.

In many ways, these classifications are somewhat arbitrary but the effect is the same. Ironically, those who most vocally accuse another of fitting one of these labels are themselves often non-charitable, judgmental, and/or intolerant.

Speaking of irony, one of the most ironic responses I have seen is when people are accused of being “unchristian” for speaking up. This accusation may be followed by sanctimonious comments on what Jesus would have done. Baloney! Jesus was often politically incorrect, judgmental and intolerant out of His love for us!

The question for us is do we value being accepted by others more than our obligation to live as Christians and help others to do likewise? Are we trying to get to heaven AND take as many others along with us as we can? OR…   are we trying to be liked and be as popular as possible? If it is the later, we may be building our treasures on earth at at the expense of those in heaven.

Please understand that I am not suggesting (in most circumstances) that we be confrontational. That is rarely a good strategy. Much can be accomplished by speaking softly but firmly. Sometimes just saying “that is wrong,” spoken out of love, is enough. I often remember one time, as an adult, that I suggested something wrong to my father. He responded “that is wrong” and not a word more. We did not speak of it further, but I sure thought about it a lot later, re-evaluated and corrected my erroneous viewpoint.

I am not sure it is ever “wrong” to be politically incorrect. Like Christ, from whom it is inseparable, the Catholic Church itself is politically incorrect. Our excellent shepherds and other faithful Catholics are often accused by those opposed to the truth, inside and outside of the Church, of being non-charitable, judgmental and intolerant.

Do not fear these labels. Do not accept a negative spin upon someone’s words because another (boldly) labeled them this way. Consider only the truth and intention. Of course, sometimes people really are non-charitable (“Joe did that to hurt John”), judgmental (“Sue is going to hell”), and intolerant (“I don’t like how {group of people} do {something cultural}”). In those cases, the words are said not out of love and are of themselves often sinful.

Sometimes, a thoughtful conversation may result from speaking up. The person may have their eyes opened and be grateful. Far more likely, the person will be annoyed that they were challenged and maybe like you a little less at that moment. Have patience. The small seed that you plant today may eventually bear great fruit.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against evildoers.” Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Elsewhere: Hungary vs. Europe

Unlike other Eastern Bloc countries, Hungary did not immediately adopt a new constitution after the fall of communism. On Easter Monday they finally completed the process, voting 262 to 44 in favor.

This important milestone also coincides with the mid-point of their Presidency of the Council of the EU. You might think that fellow European Union member states would be happy for Hungary and congratulating them for their progress. Not so much.

The problem is that Hungary has failed miserably in adopting the rabidly secular, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual mindset of the other countries. The first clue is the opening line of the new constitution: “O Lord, blessed be the Hungarian nation.” How dare they embrace religious values – and in such a blatant manner too.

It gets worse, protecting life from “the moment of conception” and defining marriage as “the conjugal union of a man and a woman.” Intellectuals throughout Europe are understandably outraged.

Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula has written about this development over at LifeSiteNews:

There has been a great deal of discussion about Hungary’s “Easter Constitution,” so nicknamed not only because it passed with a grand majority on this past Easter Monday, April 25, but it may represent a resurrection of values that many thought had all but disappeared from the laws of Europe.

We have to understand the importance of this document, and why so many in Europe are in a panic over its passage. It is a surprising move in a very good direction, representing another step in what many believe is a long and uneven journey back to Hungary’s, and Europe’s, roots. Clearly, however, it marks a departure from the secular liberal ideology that, like a heavy leaden cape, seems to be darkening and weighing down so much of the contemporary world.

The preamble of the constitution starts with the first line of the Hungarian national anthem: “O Lord, blessed be the Hungarian nation,” recalling the Christian roots of this country. It continues to emphasize this theme, stating the unique role played by King St. Stephen in establishing Hungary and acknowledging the role that Christianity has played in her preservation. It is also very interesting to see how this constitution ends: “We, Members of Parliament elected on 25 April 2010, being aware of our responsibility before Man and God and availing ourselves of our power to adopt a constitution, have hereby determined, the first unified Fundamental Law of Hungary as above.”

Would that more contemporary legislators would admit that they have a responsibility towards God!

The most important innovations of this constitution, however, are found in Article 2, which establishes that “the life of the foetus shall be protected from the moment of conception.” This document in the following article III n. 3 also expressly prohibits eugenic practices, as well as the use of the human body or its parts for financial gain and human cloning. The logical consequence of art 2 is that abortion and other crimes against life would at some point be declared illegal and criminalized after this constitution enters into force on January 1, 2012. As this constitution establishes, the government shall submit to the parliament the acts necessary for the implementation of this new fundamental law.

As if to emphasize their seriousness about their newly rediscovered respect for human life at all its stages, the government is already conducting a very effective anti-abortion advertising campaign. Granted, this campaign is born of a need to reverse Hungary’s demographic collapse, but it is good to see sanity beginning to regain a footing in Eastern Europe.

Read the whole article:   The resurrection of Hungary.

Resources: Convert Journal YouTube channel

When I began this blog I had little interest including video material. My first 7 Quick Takes Friday had no pictures or videos! Today, most of those sets (now up to #30) are mostly video – mostly YouTube videos to be specific.

Sometimes I want to revisit a video that I published previously but do not remember exactly where. Well over 100 videos have been included in the 150 Convert Journal blog posts so far. Some of you may have hoped to find a video here too. It is relatively easy to search text, but video is another matter.

My most favorite videos appear under the Video tab at the top of the blog. That is useful for several reasons, but it only covers a dozen or so.

The solution? The shiny, new Convert Journal YouTube channel! Here you will find all the YouTube videos published on Convert Journal, organized into a handful of convenient “Playlists” by subject area.

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Stop by and explore.

This is probably a good time to talk about the other ways to follow this blog. Of course, you can always bookmark it and revisit from time to time. Other, more convenient means are available as well:

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7 Quick Takes Friday (set #30)

This week: Universae Ecclesiae is out. Why no women deacons, explained again. Why we don’t offer the Eucharist to everyone. A reminder on keeping priorities properly ordered. The absurd proposition that Christianity was a fabrication. A unique wedding proposal. The perfect ceiling mural for a smoker’s lounge.

— 1 —

Universae Ecclesiae is out. It is a Motu Proprio instruction from the Holy Father that clarifies and strengthens Summorum Pontificum. For those who do not follow this stuff, it applies directly to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. However, it is part of the reform of the reform and it will ultimately influence the ordinary form (and the post-Vatican II excesses often seen there).

— 2 —

Women deacons – still no. A while back I wrote about this issue. It is raised by the misguided liberal / progressive (toward Church teaching) crowd who see it as a matter of “equality” and as a stepping stone to women “priests.” No and no, and that will not change (ever). Daniel G. Van Slyke tries to explain (once again) why not for Crisis Magazine.

— 3 —

This is a good video out of the Diocese of Rockford (IL) by their Monsignor Eric Barr (Episcopal Vicar for Clergy & Religious). Here, he answers “Why can’t non-Catholics go to Communion?” This is a good follow-up to my recent piece The Body of Christ.

— 4 —

Here you are, online again. That’s OK, but keep your priorities right!

— 5 —

A Lutheran group put together this excellent animated video showing how absurd those who posit that Christianity is a fabrication.

— 6 —

Right here in Georgia, Matt wants to propose to Ginny. How to? Maybe a nice restaurant, waiter brings champagne, ring in bottom of glass? No. Why not have Charlie (her brother) take her to the movies and planting a surprise there? Bring along friends and family (sneak them in after the movie starts) to share the moment…

Where does Marcel find these things (he was the first one I saw publishing it)?

— 7 —

This is a mural in a smoker’s lounge. Appropriate, no?

a smokers lounge

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Being charitable

The dictionary has several definitions of charity. The first meaning that I think of when hearing the word is of the organizational kind. The next would be of the “good works” variety. In reality, these are just two manifestations of a pure intent.

Maybe I just was not paying close enough attention, but I do not remember the concept of being charitable articulated as often in my past Protestant community as it is among Catholics. It is a simple, beautiful and very Christian philosophy. At its heart, it is following the second of the two greatest commandments – to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). The really simple definition should be “charity is love.”

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins has written about the “face of Christ.” Our need to see it, how it is reflected in the Church and through the witness of the Saints. He explains:

In sum, the Church is called to reflect his Face, the face of Christ Teacher, Prophet, Priest and King, in order that we can say of her in relation to Christ what Christ said of himself in relation to the Father…

[…]

We need to be accurate in what we mean. The Church, to whom the sublime mission has been entrusted to make present and reveal the face of Christ to the human person, is not only constituted by her structures, but also by all the members of the People of God. With the Incarnation in a certain sense Christ united himself to every human being.

Last Sunday, Father Walter (a visiting priest) gave an excellent homily on Jesus as our shepherd. He focused on Christ’s love for each of us, individually. That love is a very personal thing, from our Lord to every single person. Not just a “love for all” but a love for you, by name.

Putting all this together, we are called to reflect God’s love in our treatment of others, whom He loves perfectly just as He loves us. Think about that. Every interaction we have with another person is an interaction with someone who God says is unique, special and whom He loves without limitation. Our actions relative to that person (every person), the one with the powerful friend, must be ordered to their benefit. THAT is charity.

Being charitable is asking yourself if the action you are about to take or the things you are about to say put the honest benefit of another first. To “put them in their place,” “score a point” at their expense, to assume the worse of their intentions, or just being mean (because you can, you feel like it and are having a bad day) – are all at least uncharitable.

Sometimes people think that being charitable is “always being nice” or “never hurting someone’s feelings.” They are very wrong. In some situations, following those guidelines is actually uncharitable. Jesus and the Apostles boldly rebuked and condemned evil. That probably hurt some feelings.

My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The truth God revealed to us is important and not a matter of opinion, choice or personal preferences. When people do not understand that, or worse – distort it, our obligation is to help them. If we remain silent out of a false notion of charity, then we contribute to continuing their ignorance. If we love them, we care about their salvation and our actions should be certain and gentle.

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

CCC 2478

When you have to reprove anyone who has committed a small or even a grave fault, do so with great gentleness. Be firm when the fault demands it, say few words, and never speak when in a passion, for then the reproof will harm the soul of both the one receiving it and the one giving it.

[…]

A Christian soul, and above all a religious soul, to be pleasing in the sight of our Lord, will treat her neighbor as she expects our Lord to treat her. Remember this well and when the opportunity comes, practice it faithfully.

Finally, when our response to public sin or false teaching is silence, we contribute to the scandal it causes. In these cases, the harm is to many more than one person.

Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

CCC 2284

Reprimand publicly those who do sin, so that the rest also will be afraid.

Be charitable, not silent!

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