I’ve had this piece bouncing around in my mind for a while. If I stall around long enough, an email comes that acts as the perfect launch. Well, here it is. Emphases mine:
Thank you so much for this post!
I am a 21 year old woman who is in the process of figuring out my vocation. I have attended the Latin mass all of my life and find it incredibly difficult to be faithful to Catholicism in my relationships with non-Catholics and my Catholic friends who do not take their faith as seriously as I do. I am trying to be a good example to them while allowing our relationships to flourish and continuing to grow in my faith, but I’ve found that my commitment to my friendships is having a negative impact on my faith. I’m being forced to choose which is more important and I find that extremely painful. It is exactly as you say, my desire for human love and affection is interfering with my faith and principles; not on a serious level ….yet! But I do see that it is setting me up for bigger compromises down the road. This article clearly and uncompromisingly defines true love as Our Lord’s love for us, ie. selfless love solely for the sake of those beloved and doing what is best for THEM, regardless of the physical, mental, and emotional cost to HIM, the Lover.
Thank you so much for taking the time to explain a vital piece of Catholicism that has been hiding in plain sight all of my life! I’ve been trying to imitate Our Lord, but so far, I’ve been confused as to what I’m supposed to be imitating. There are so many twisted and warped ideas out there that have been messing me up, namely the media and the culture of “nice” that has seeped into me and all of the people around me. This non-contingent Christlike love is what I should be striving for in all of my relationships. I finally have the answer to a question that has been burning in my mind since I was fourteen years old. That question is “What is true love?” You’ve laid the answer out for me in black, white and red. For that I am eternally grateful!!
Why do you people all come here and read what I write and say, whether it be on financial markets, politics or theology? How many of you came here due to one topic – say the MFGlobal meltdown – but now come and read my posts about Catholicism? Or vice versa? How many of you disagree with me, but still read every word I write and listen to every audio interview or video presentation I do?
The answer is because whenever I speak I always SAY SOMETHING CONCRETE, and I say it in extremely clear, even BLUNT language. I make points. Clear, explicit points. I lay out a foundational premise, build a logical, rational framework on top of it, cite examples, make direct instructional analogues, and before you know it, we have all learned something. This is called “rhetoric”, which is the art of discourse. For some reason, I am really, really good at rhetoric, and good rhetoric is attractive.
There were never any conversations around a family dinner table that honed my rhetorical skills when I was a kid. I was basically silent in school. I just listened. I suppose in all of that listening I learned how others successfully framed arguments and presented information in a compelling way and merely copied those techniques. And, perhaps, I get help sometimes. I will admit to having the experience while speaking extemporaneously before groups of listening to myself almost as an observer and – God forgive me – being impressed with something I said that had never occurred to me before the moment it came out of my mouth. “Wow. That was good. Gotta remember that.”
Now there is an important catch in this. There can be “attractive” rhetoric that is all lies, and great speakers who are utter loons, or worse. Hitler comes to mind. Hitler was making clear points, which were lies – but stated with great bluntness and clarity, and made logical progressions that were built completely on false premises, and was obviously a captivating speaker, and he was evil to the bone. Just because the rhetoric qua rhetoric sounds “good” doesn’t mean that it is TRUE. Always remember that.
Okay. Enough of the self-congratulation. Let’s talk about this modern problem of people speaking in mindless platitudes and even abject jibberish and being hailed as geniuses for doing so. Two obvious examples of this are Obama and Francis. I will be focusing on Francis, because I think we are all probably on the same page with regards to Obama’s mindlessness.
Last week a letter Francis wrote to an atheist journalist made headlines because in it Francis said something like, belief in God is not necessary – you only need follow your conscience. He has said things like this before – do good works and we’ll meet each other there, etc. The press picks these things up, splashes them all over every paper and website all over the planet, enormous, incalcuable damage is done to human souls by them, and never ONCE has Pope Francis made ANY effort whatsoever to clarify these horrific, horrific blunders and mis-statements. And spare me the wailing and moaning – if you need 60,000 words on advanced Aristotelian or Thomistic thought as it applies to a pagan living in the Amazon River Basin in the third century Before Christ in order to make Pope Francis’ statement even MILDLY conform to, er, CATHOLICISM, then the problem is his, and it isn’t a problem of being “too smart”. It is exactly the opposite. Pope Francis is a theological and rhetorical idiot.
I actually read the entire text of the letter Francis sent in response to the inquiries of the atheist journalist about Christianity and the Church. Several times. It is utterly incomprehensible jibberish from beginning to end. It is a series of buzzwords and catchphrases pasted together until something resembling paragraphs form. I assume that the atheist journalist has a brain in his head, and has now received a letter from the Vicar of Christ in direct “response” to his questions about the Faith and the Church, and there isn’t a cogent, direct answer in the entire thing. If I were the atheist journalist, I would now walk away from Christianity forever with a smug feeling of certitude that it is all nonsense, because the pope himself couldn’t even form a single lucid, much less persuasive point or explanation in response to my inquiries.
And the press and the politicians and the neo-con “Kathy’s” in the commboxes read this tripe, and being so eager to appear “smart” and “deep” and to build up (particularly the press) a man who is a veritable wrecking ball against the “brick-by-brick” attempted reconstruction of Christian Culture, SWOON and fawn over it, just as the people swooned and fawned over the buck-naked emperor as he paraded down the street. What these people are doing is the sin of flattery.
It’s jibberish. It is intellectual bluffing. He is a contra-educated South American Jesuit. There’s no “there” there. These guys were taught Marxism and pop psychology in seminary, and then ordained priests. They were taught to ruthlessly disdain and resent EVERYTHING “old”, including the Church Itself, and instead to stare intently down at their own navels, marvel at the lint, and then build a “newchurch” out of that lint. Bluffing is all they can do, and edifices built out of lint can only ever collapse – but they are taught that these edifices of lint are vastly superior to anything before, and even to relish in their “nuanced dialogue”, aka jibberish, with the world.
I will leave you with two quotes. The first is Pope Francis speaking yesterday. The second is from the thirteenth chapter of the book of Ezechiel. Be sure to read the footnotes.
“I dare say that the Church has never been so well as it is today. The Church does not collapse: I am sure of it, I am sure of it!”
Pope Francis, The Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth, Successor to the See of Peter
Even the prophets of Israel that prophesy to Jerusalem, and that see visions of peace for her: and there is no peace, saith the Lord God. And thou, son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people that prophesy out of their own heart: and do thou prophesy against them, And say: Thus saith the Lord God: Woe to them that sew cushions under every elbow: and make pillows for the heads of persons of every age to catch souls: and when they caught the souls of my people, they gave life to their souls. And they violated me among my people, for a handful of barley, and a piece of bread, to kill souls which should not die, and to save souls alive which should not live, telling lies to my people that believe lies. Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Behold I declare against your cushions, wherewith you catch flying souls: and I will tear them off from your arms: and I will let go the souls that you catch, the souls that should fly. And I will tear your pillows, and will deliver my people out of your hand, neither shall they be any more in your hands to be a prey: and you shall know that I am the Lord. Because with lies you have made the heart of the just to mourn, whom I have not made sorrowful: and have strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his evil way, and live. Therefore you shall not see vain things, nor divine divinations any more, and I will deliver my people out of your hand: and you shall know that I am the Lord.
Ezechiel 13: 16-23
Sew cushions: Viz., by making people easy in their sins, and promising them impunity.
They gave life to their souls: That is, they flattered them with promises of life, peace, and security.
Violated me: That is, dishonoured and discredited me.
To kill souls: That is, to sentence souls to death, which are not to die; and to promise life to them who are not to live.