Sunday, May 24, 2015
PERSPESTIVE AND PASTORAL COMMON SENSE
Right now in those places around the world where the mustard seed of 11% of Catholics are attending Mass, there is no need to go underground yet although I suspect on the hot button cultural issues concerning sexuality they need to keep their mouths shut in the public square.
Ireland is a case in point. It is Catholic in name only. But the decline in Irish Catholicism accelerated by too much of Catholicism being a kind of state religion with inept episcopal leadership in the face of scandal and the relentless march of secularism has in reality made Ireland a secular state with a secular religion more virulent and authoritarian than anything Catholicism was in her heyday. Perhaps it is the Irishness of Ireland that is so authoritarian simply picking and choosing which vehicle they will use to express it. Today it is a ruthless secularism.
The law of prayer is the law of belief. Yet we know of high Anglicanism with tasteful and exquisite liturgy and music that despite the smoke, bells, chant and elaborate ritual, Anglicans are quite content to be post-Christian. They have led the way in fact into appeasing the secular culture on everything sexual.
How do faithful Catholic today navigate through the cesspool of secularism and the corruption it brings to Catholics and other Christians who drink of its water?
1. Love never fails. Pray for them but don't join them. This is true of family members, be they parents, siblings children or down the ancestry ladder. One can love a relative without accepting their lifestyle. One can visit them in their homes, go out to eat with them and have them as friends. Never enable a sinful lifestyle though. But don't harangue.And if they influence your more than you influence them disengage.
2. Be compassionate and in dialogue with relatives (who want to speak to you) about their lifestyle choices. Sometimes, though, following Christ and being a Catholic estranges us from family members who aren't. This goes way back to the early Church and we have to accept this reality.
3. One commenter wrote on another thread that we should engage those who oppose us. A couple of years ago my parochial vicar was on a panel at Mercer University and the topic was homosexuality. With him was an openly homosexual Episcopal priest in a public partnership as well as others yea and nay. It was a very productive meeting and I hear Fr. Dawid represented the Church very well and was invited out for lunch by the gay Episcopal priest! That says something, no?
4. On one to one meetings with those who have same sex attractions, I think I am quite pastoral as I am in the confessional. I don't think anyone thinks I am condemning them to hell or that I find them disgusting as I don't. When they are respectful of the Church and her teachings, I think things are very productive. Sometimes while aiming for perfection we have to settle with what will do. When Jesus couldn't keep his three apostles, Peter, James and John awake in the Garden of Gethsemane, in accepting this reality Jesus simply said "It will have to do!"
5. It is better for a homosexual to be monogamous rather than promiscuous and to be in a loving, healthy partnership than in one that is unhealthy. Mortal sin is mortal sin but only God will judge why people committed their mortal sins at their personal judgment. Why are some Catholics, a few who comment here, persist in breaking the 4th and 8th Commandments when it comes to the Holy Father and others in the Church in positions of authority? Do I ban them from commenting or pray they will repent one day? Only God will judge their salvation at their personal judgement though. But for those who break the 6th Commandment (from masturbation to same sex sex)where true care and love are expressed in chaste ways, this should be encouraged and applauded. Grace is at work. And pastoral counselors should counsel chastity, be it faithfulness to a partner or celibacy. We all know that in true marriages husbands and wives are often sexually inactive due to a variety of circumstances. In an illicit sexual partnership, chastity should be a goal as well as chaste celibacy.
The jury is out on what same sex partnerships that involve the adoption of children or children created in some fashion for the couple does to these children. We have some anecdotal evidence that it is quite harmful, but as with sexual abuse or any other type of abuse, it takes decades for people to acknowledge publicly what they experienced as children and teenagers. It will come though. I am sure we will have studies on this in the future. It has to be damaging.
Finally, as our culture embraces the infidelity of Sodom and Gomorrah in its rejection of God (sexuality is a part of that infidelity) will we see a collapse of western civilization overrun by the barbarians of the day, be they ISIS or any other radical, death dealing group? Time will tell. We know history repeats itself.
But we also know that evil never prevails. The battle is won and this Pentecost Sunday should reassure us of the ultimate outcome!