Monday, September 23, 2013

The jolly bishop and the winnowing fan

I realise I am breaking the never-listen-to-the-Mainstreamians rule, but one point springs to mind from a comment in the NYTs piece on Dolan's reaction to that thing.

"...the archbishop of New York, embraced the “magnificent interview” in which the pope chastised the church for its obsession with sexual morality, and called him “a breath of fresh air.”

After Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal Dolan, who has himself softened his language on homosexuality in the past year, likened the pope to the Yankees’ retiring relief pitcher: “I think he’s our Mariano Rivera. He’s a great relief to all of us.”

Last Wednesday, Pope Francis surprised Catholics and non-Catholics alike with the publication of a lengthy interview in which he reprimanded the church for emphasizing dogma and moral doctrines over ministering to its people, including “those who have quit or are indifferent.” He laid out a vision for a more inclusive church as a “home for all” and said the church could not afford to be “obsessed” with same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception.

The comments were a sharp departure from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who had zealously defended church doctrine, once calling homosexuality “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.”

If we do not "emphasize" dogma and moral doctrines - otherwise known as the truth of the Gospel - what do we have to offer these people in our "ministry"? Without the truth, what can we give? Our own personal warm feelings? Our sincere wishes for their wellbeing? Warm hugs all 'round?

Silver and gold have I none...but here's a hallmark card platitude for ya. Go and be comforted.

~ * ~
"...a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

"Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength.

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.


And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.



Teresa B. said...

This is the same bishop (I think the first year he was in NYC who was not happy when one his newly ordained priests had his first mass in the extraordinary form. (this young man was originally from Cambridge, Ontario)

Anonymous said...

"If we do not "emphasize" dogma and moral doctrines - otherwise known as the truth of the Gospel - what do we have to offer these people in our "ministry"?

Christ, basically.


Natalie said...

Well said Anonymous. I completely agree. x

Fr. Hair-Tonic said...

If the implication is that Catholic dogma and moral doctrines (i.e., faith and morals)don't lead people to Christ, then we all may as well admit that Martin Luther was right. I don't think a dichotomy between Church teaching and Christ is either true or something to be casually bandied about as if it were.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


so Christ and the Truth are separate? You can offer Christ (not talking about the Eucharist) only by telling the truth about Him.

He said himself, "If you love me, keep my commandments."

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

...and I'm very surprised that one of *my* readers, a regular Picnicker, would say such a silly thing.

Anonymous said...

Hilary, of course not; Christ and truth are not separate. But what I mean is this: I have heard far too many traditionalist sermons which are nothing but polemic. An example: the sermon at our nuptial Mass was used as a vehicle partly to bash the attendants over the head with the topic of same sex unions. Nothing was said about Christian love, the beauty of the sacrament of marriage, etc. There I was hoping that the glory of the old Mass would somehow serve to awaken dormant religious sensibilities in some of my lapsed family and friends but all they remembered was the awful, patronising sermon. You can hit people over the head with talk of dogma and morals but this doesn't have the power to convert. It won't convert non-believers to Christ, and it won't bring Christians to a deeper faith or repentance.

When I read the Church Fathers, the saints, my soul opens up and I long for a deeper relationship with Christ, and I am also convicted of my sin and the need for deeper repentance. When I hear a sermon from the mouth of a traditionalist priest, nine times out of ten, I am left feeling cold. I can't imagine a non-believer being impressed either. Of course, not every priest can be St John Chrysostom, but the exposition of the glorious faith of the Apostles has to be about more than just moralism.


wkndbeachcomber said...

"In order that the reconciliation of justice and mercy be not scandal for us, of his own accord God has willed to show how these two perfections, far from destroying each other in being united, find only in this union the realization of their supreme demands. By the death on the cross of the Word made flesh, 'mercy and truth have met each other; justice and peace have kissed' (Ps 84[85]:11).

God the Father, in demanding of Jesus Christ, by reason of His justice, an infinite satisfaction, as the offence was infinite, required of Him the most heroic act of love. And in consigning Him thus for our salvation to the glorious ignominy of death on a cross, He showed His own infinite love for the sovereign Good, for Christ, and for us. What is the sublimity of the cross, if not the harmony of perfections seemingly in opposition, the union of the supreme demands of justice and love?

Liberal Protestants who refuse to see anything more in the Passion of our Lord than a manifestation of God's love for us and not a demand of His justice, outrage this love which they claim to want to safeguard. They do not understand that, in proportion as love is purified of all imperfection, it becomes identical with mercy and justice. It is as absolute, imperative and strong as it is sweet and compassionate. This sweetness and mercy would be false and would no longer have anything divine about them, if they were not identical in God with the holy demands expressed by justice. We are far from believing in that good-natured God whom the world delights in creating for itself, and whom Bossuet, somewhere in his works, calls an idol.

'Love is as strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell. The lamps thereof are fire and flames. Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it' (Cant 8:6). Love is as strong as death; its holy hatred of evil is as inflexible as hell... in this eminent degree... mercy and justice are simply one."

- Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's "God, His Existence and His Nature: A Thomistic Solution of Certain Agnostic Antinomies, Volume II"

Scott W. said...

An example: the sermon at our nuptial Mass was used as a vehicle partly to bash the attendants over the head with the topic of same sex unions.

I don't know where this happened, but I can tell you that I've been to parishes all over in the United States and I have yet to hear any homily that addressed the hot-button issues in a forthright manner but rarely, and then only in the most vague, platitudinous manner. While I agree that a nuptial Mass is not the time or place for such, overall the silence on these subjects is deafening. How do you further de-emphasize doctrines as the Pope wishes when the doctrines are already secretly locked in the attic like a crazy aunt?