Thursday, March 9, 2017

Taking the Faith into All Walks of Life

Yes, I know, Declan is back. But, I have one more guest post that I couldn't squeeze in while he was on vacation. Ann Seeton reminds us that being faithful Catholics isn't always so easy. Do it anyway.

We are to be salt and light. We are to bring Christ into the places we go and into our own activities. It is a given and we expect ourselves to do it, and yet, what does it LOOK like?

I used to think that bringing Christ into places like Church was easy. That is, until I discovered that God has some fairly plain directions for how we are to live. Even with the Church clarifying the whys and hows, there are some things you cannot say in Church unless you want to be on the bottom of a dog pile of angry people.  Why is that?

If we run such risks when talking about the Faith with fellow Catholics, then how on earth do we bring the Faith with us into other places? Like work, or school, or a club based on a mutually loved hobby?

We all know the theory: You have to BE the Catholic you are even if your workplace bans that crucifix you love to wear, or the rosary hiding in your pocket. You have to see Christ and serve Christ in each person, no matter if they are hostile to the Catholic faith or do not care one way or the other.

Yet, it isn’t that easy. Lets begin with the hostility.

Hostility to things Christian is pretty common these days. We see it in the courts. We see it in the news. We see it worldwide. The obvious evils of rape, murder, enslavement, and martyrdom are easy to see, easy to condemn, and, from our safe homes in the US, ought to be easy to speak against.  So, what keeps us quiet?

We also see it in the subtle (or  not so subtle) idea that if you really believe all that Bible stuff that you must be less than sane. Or in some circles, if you believe all that Catholic stuff you must be uneducated, ignorant, and stupid.  The peer pressure in our society can be fierce.

The pressure to conform even in Christian circles can be over-whelming when mostly Catholic persons merely hold the details of the faith as a comfortable fairy tale instead of historical fact and present reality. Something that we hold in common but do not act upon or allow to influence our daily lives.

I think the fear of disapproval silences us more often than not. Humans are social, we live in groups: families, communities, parishes, clubs, and work-places.  We want to cooperate with others in our activities.  Sensitivity to social approval and disapproval is part of what makes group cooperation possible. It has always been difficult to part ways with our peers.

AS long as a generic Christianity was the norm for the American culture, speaking up was expected and approved.  The community agreed on most truths of Christianity and the superior value of those beliefs.  But there were always exceptions, weak places that could be attacked and we live with the results.

Truths taught by the Catholic Church are loathed and hated by all the fallen angels.  Those truths, and anyone who holds them, must be attacked in whatever way possible with an eye to driving those beliefs underground and silencing anyone who would defend those truths.

The purposeful activity of the demons is to convince people to reject part or all of the Faith, view it as a nice fairy tale, or reject it as intolerant. The source of all heresies, including some heresies that are now called religions, is in the whispering of the demonic. Finally the Reformation where apostolic authority was rejected in favor of whatever layperson’s opinion happened to be popular was demonic no matter how many history books hold it up as a great leap forward for human rights.

Our Founding Fathers were so eager to avoid the religious civil wars of Europe, they created a form of tolerance that could be exploited to go from each Christian is free to worship as he sees fit, to all religions are equal, to every idea is equal.

The rejection of the concept of objectively knowable truth, which in a small dose allowed bickering factions of protestantism to live together, is the root of relativism.  Catholics felt it first and always, that pressure to let go of the absolutes of our Faith, teachings God gave us through the Church, and to accept heresies as equal to orthodox teachings. Holding to an absolute is held to be rigid, judgmental, and extreme.

We are children of our own age, and suffer from this relativism, making the deliberate study of the Catholic faith and some serious examinations of ourselves, essential to our ability to carry Christ into where we go and what we do. Relativism is so ingrained in our culture we hardly see how we ourselves fall victim to it.

An example:  One day you are at a party and an excited person says “oh my g--” do you speak up or do you let it pass? Our culture says that avoiding offense is a high priority. The pressure is on, do you speak up? If you speak in private, how will it be received?  The person may thank you and try to do better, or not.

There is a new policy at work. It contradicts what we, as Catholics, hold to be true. Do we approve the new policy to avoid being called judgmental or rigid? Do we respectfully decline to approve? There was a time when disagreeing was OK, but not anymore. Now, it can get you fired and blackballed.

Today, the same peer pressure that used to reinforce the Christianity in American culture is being used against Christianity. The same tolerance that declared all interpretations of Christianity acceptable has morphed into a demand that any and all beliefs be accepted as equally valid.  The flaw in the plan is now the cudgel for everyday martyrdoms.

The Rosary is my response.

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