Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 28, 2005
Be Obedient: Follow God's will
The most basic lesson of Christianity is that the salvation of humanity was accomplished by the Son of God's act of total self-giving out of obedience to the will of the Father. It behoves us then to do the same - to find fulfillment by renouncing self and following God's will.
No one says this is easy. No one says that anyone does a particularly good job of living up to this call. But it is our call and we are better for recognizing it and trying to walk this path.
It is disconcerting then to read Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin's comments rejecting the Church's teaching on marriage, same-sex marriage in particular.
"A lot of Catholics are 21st-century Catholics and we've tossed off the vestiges of medievalism, but we're still devout in our faith," Martin said in an interview (WCR, Feb. 21).
It is hard to know what Martin might mean by "devout" since he goes on to say, "Most Catholics around the world pick and choose cafeteria style." One can only assume that Martin's devotion includes putting his own "wisdom" above that of God as he is the arbiter of right and wrong.
One perhaps shouldn't be too hard on Martin. He is only brazenly stating in words what other Catholic MPs and millions of other Catholics too often state by their actions.
This is the crisis of our era. This crisis is not that of widespread violation of accepted moral standards. That happens in every time and place. It is rather the widespread repudiation of the notion that any moral standards exist.
This moral crisis is not the passage from the old to the new, the move from "the vestiges of medievalism" to the enlightened Age of Aquarius. Rather, it is the descent into moral anarchy. It is the transition from the belief that the Ten Commandments are the word of God to the belief that those commandments were carved out by a nomadic civilization 3,000 years ago and ought to be jettisoned by the well-educated cognoscenti of the third millennium.
The definition of "close-minded" is the insistence that only one's own thinking matters with regard to the morality of one's actions. Such close-mindedness would pay little heed to the Ten Commandments whenever they prove inconvenient.
Close-mindedness is indeed rampant these days with our nation's political leaders unwilling or unable to get out of the box created by the prevailing ideology of moral relativism.
This ideology pretends to defend human rights, but it is a constricted view of rights which recognizes individual desires, but not the common good.
Salvation, as said above, is based on self-giving out of obedience. The late Henri De Lubac, one of those whose writings gave rise to the Second Vatican Council, wrote that for one to achieve salvation, one must be rooted in the soil of the Church. "Far from passing judgment on (the Church), he will allow her to judge him and he will agree gladly to all the sacrifices demanded by her unity."
Martin, presumably, would grumble that this talk of sacrifice is more "medievalism," that people today are educated enough to "pick and choose." But any truly devout Catholic must move from the cafeteria to the sanctuary, where some things are so holy that one can only bow before them. That bowing is not in the repertoire of some 21st century Catholics only means that it is an act that needs to be re-learned.
Eternal life begins today. It is not a reward at the end of the rainbow. And the secret of getting there is to bow before the teachings of the 2,000-year-old Church, which were given by Jesus Christ and are faithfully elaborated today by the successors of the Apostles.
Give the last word to De Lubac. The humility of spirit needed for whole-heartedly following the teachings of the Church "is perhaps the most secret point in the mystery of faith and that which is hardest of access to a mind which has not been converted by the Spirit of God."
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