Evangelization and apologetics try to unite two things: God’s truth and the human heart. Let us keep in mind these two things are meant for each other. To effect this union we must possess a love for both the truth and the person. The goal is not just to prove our point or, worse, to prove ourselves correct. Rather, the purpose is to bring people to Christ and to establish his truth in their hearts. To do that we must possess the truth. But we must also keep hearts intact. We depart from the right path when we prize a certain principle or truth and run roughshod over the person in our delivery.
In short, the Church Belligerent [as opposed to the Church Militant] succumbs to the temptation to win arguments instead of hearts—to break the bruised reed and quench the smoldering wick.
A friend, once having acted less than charitably when arguing with someone about Eucharistic adoration, confessed, "It was as though I had taken the monstrance and smashed it over his head." A shocking image, perhaps. But it describes the danger well. The human heart desires the truth. We ought not wield the truth as a weapon, a club for beating people into love for Christ and his Church. If we do, the truth may remain intact, but the heart will be crushed or—worse—hardened.
So, be nice, pray, and shut up. I'm yawning here...
It is a good article.
You may yawn, Gene. But, as I think I may have said on the Blog before, some people very close to me have been driven further away from the Catholic Church because of the stridency of the Church Belligerent – something that saddens me. Only with the election of Pope Francis have they begun to soften their attitudes – a little bit at least. I don’t expect you to understand but perhaps some other readers will.
Yes, like the saints. Which is why few of us here will go marching in.
Anon2, if people are being attracted to the Church because of a perceived loosening of doctrinal and moral requirements, that is not a good sign for the Church. The election of Pope Francis indicates, to me and many others, that a large faction of the Church desires an accommodation to modernist, secular morality and that this is manifested in the sophistic of a "change in pastoral practice." This seems more and more apparent to be Francis' approach and he is doing absolutely nothing to clarify if this is otherwise.
I personally do not care if those who cannot handle a strong, direct message from the Church regarding doctrine and morality leave and go elsewhere. They are tantamount to the enemy within because their squeamishness merely lays the foundation for further progressivist inroads.
We live in a time when the Church is under attack from all sides by ruthless enemies who only see negotiation as a victory for them; it is not a time for compromise, conciliatory gestures, or appeals to reason and polity. In a word, we are at war and good, devout Catholics are too slow to realize it.
As for those who cannot handle the Church's beliefs and teachings, I certainly do not want them in the Church.I do not worry about their salvation…to paraphrase a USMC quip from way back, "Screw 'em all; let God sort them out!" And…He will.
Preacher, you talk mighty big and tough for a johnny-come-lately Catholic.
Some people wake up naturally, others need an alarm clock.
In both cases, I would hope that the awakening occurs at the proper time.
Anonymous, I am a fairly recent Catholic (8 years) because I am a life-long Christian, a former pastor, and student of Scripture, Church history, and theology. That path, over time, led me logically to the Catholic Church. I have seen what has happened to protestantism, and I see the Church making the same mistakes…I believe I bring a useful perspective to the Church based upon years of pastoral experience and theological study. It is not "tough talk"…it is a matter of fact observation. What do you have to offer?
I always felt sorry for Fr. Scalia for getting stuck with this job.
Mean Gean....So....Maybe we Catholics should ask for the advice of some former protestant preachers to deal with the problems that the Catholic church has???
Anonymous, That is not what I was suggesting. I was merely pointing out the similar path the Church is taking along the road to Hell. The Church has within her own Magisterium the solution to the problem…if She will decide to deal with it...
Interesting. Re-reading the Acts and Epistles I note that nowhere do the evangelists and apostles entertain the need to 'soften' the Gospel to attract non-believers. Instead they are supremely confident in the Gospel to heal, liberate and convict all people that Jesus is Lord and they ought to be disciples.
Thus with respect to non-Christians we only read about being peaceful, praying for kings etc. but living quiet lives... but not watering down doctrine or morals so as to 'fit in'.
They preached mostly underground - person to person, family to family. Most of the conversions came via lay people converting other lay people. Priests and bishops wrote letters to other bishops etc. but by and large from 100 to 313 the faith grew underground via persuasion: miracles of healing, exorcism and personal witness of the Gospel message by people who were utterly convinced of the justice and righteousness of the Gospel.
As far as I can tell, the pagans reacted to this advance with waves of fury, usually when some prince's fiancé refused to put out or when some elite didn't get their way and could blame a hated minority.
Catholics can (and do) live as second class citizens in dozens of countries. We have and current do live in places where our creed and morals are not respected by the authorities and opinion making elites.
Catholicism was entirely underground and illegal in Britain for over 200 years on account of refusing to accept divorce and remarriage of the King. Hundreds of martyrs and thousands of believers paid the price in blood for the Church's position on sexuality and ultimate religious authority.
Tens of millions of Chinese Catholics suffer under the communist party and current Chinese regime's authority and moral world-view that demands their fealty to communism as the price to get ahead or even eke by...
and yet we American Catholics really think some sort of capitulation will 'save' us? From whom? God?
The God that accepted the martyrs for their fidelity to His Gospel is going to bless us for selling out? Really?
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