Friday, August 08, 2008

And Jesus Wept

There's been no shortage of heated debates found in the blogosphere lately (Remind me to tell you the story of Disco Jesus another day...). The most recent, however, has touched a nerve with women on both sides of the issue--including yours truly.

Now, not that anyone in cyberspace cares one iota about what this mom thinks, but for my own mental the confines of my own corner of the web...I've got something to say.

I had the privilege of hearing Fr. Larry Richards speak at our parish earlier this year. With several non-practicing Catholic Christians and many separated brethren in our extended family, one thing he said firmly implanted itself in my most plebeian mind. He said, "We do better to welcome people into the Church by loving them than by arguing with them." I might add, even if we know they are misguided--or just plain wrong. Another great mom, whose company I miss very much, was fond of saying, "Jesus will reveal that to them Himself." And, as regardless of the issue, she didn't force herself on the person, but continued to love them and pray for them...right where they were and wouldn't you know it if Jesus didn't do just that.

He's like that, isn't He?

And, I think about Him a great deal when we attack and tear down one another all in His name. Oh, the great sorrow Our Lord must feel. But you know who gets the last laugh, don't you? It's not the one with the best documented response or the most cutting retort or even the one who gets the final say. Oh no, for those people have been played by the Lord's most cunning rival.

The Devil.

You don't believe me? Go and read some of the *charitable* comments that were left in response to the multitude of posts linked here. If the Devil wasn't already dancing as Christ's Church splintered off into tens of thousands of different denominations, he's surely looked upon our latest means of self-destruction and began a cha-cha to envy Fred Astaire.

Even the Catholic Church, in all of her wisdom, acknowledges that while the faithful are still called to lovingly evangelize, that God--in ways known only to Him--can lead those ignorant of His message to Him and to "a faith without which it is impossible to please Him." (CCC, 848)

Doesn't this all really come down to a matter of humility?

If we were humble, nothing would change us--neither praise nor discouragement.
If someone were to criticize us, we would not feel discouraged.
If someone would praise us, we also would not feel proud.
--Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Try as I might to live in God's friendship and follow Him faithfully--at the end of the day, I am still painfully human--a walking disaster of weakness and flaws. And God is, was and always will be, well, God--full of mercy and forgiveness and an unconditional love so powerful we can't begin to comprehend or interpret it. And we would be arrogant to try. But God knows this and so He doesn't ask this of us. What He does ask is that we share His love with others. And with His help and much grace, He knows we can.

"Love one another as I have loved you." John 13:34
"Love God with all your heart, mind and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39


Laura said...

I agree with you. I'm definitely a fan of 'Love one another'....using manners...being polite...smiling...looking for the positive rather than negative...and trying really hard not to judge others. :)

Eileen said...

I wrote a long comment (you know how I can be), then changed my mind.

Suffice it to say, I'm totally with you on this. Preach it, sister!

I try very hard to avoid allowing myself to become embroiled in these controversies, if only because the world does not have enough Tums to help my ailing stomach when I read them!!!

So I'll leave it to you. Well said.


Skeptical Catholic said...

Why is disagreement evidence of the demonic? Or did I miss your point?

Open to life means not using artificial contraceptives. Using NFP means that you hope that you don't have another child just yet, but if it happens, so be it. That's open to life.

Artificial contraception means you really don't want another child. But what if that fails and you say, so be it and you accept that life? Why is that so bad other than the Church says one way of avoiding procreation is okay but the other isn't? What's so demonic about this conversation?

patjrsmom said...

Hi Skeptical Catholic,

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. We are in complete agreement about what NFP is -- no arguments here.

My concern has little to do with this specific issue and much more to do with the direction some of our well-meaning conversations take--many which seem far from charitable or Christ-like, which is something the devil delights in.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comment.

God Bless,

Suzanne said...

HI Jane,
Stopping by to say hi and also add why in the world do people say the things they say on the internet, it makes you wonder what they are really like in person?

skeptical Catholic said...

Thanks for your nice comment. In thinking about what I wrote, I thought maybe I was too harsh. I would have had to delve into the links more deeply to see what you were intending.

Open to life means, to me, welcoming into the world the life created from conception, even if that person was not intended (and, indeed, may not have been wanted) at the time he or she was created.

Just as an FYI, I'm skeptical because I don't get why timing is more holy than artificial means for avoiding pregnancy.

patjrsmom said...

Hi Skeptical Catholic (and anyone else following along),

I (and I'm sure many others) can appreciate your question. The issue of NFP vs. contraception can be the straw that broke the camels back as it were for many people in the Church.

I am no theologian (you'll just have to trust me when I say that teaching grade schoolers is the zenith of my expertise ;-)!!!) But I know what I like, and given my propensity for elementary teaching, I also like things that speak simply to my heart, soul and mind.

If I were to recommend anything that does a stellar job of explaining the difference between NFP and contraception, it would be Christopher West's "Good News About Sex and Marriage".

For those who haven't read it, he's a regular Joe, who fought so long to understand this particular church teaching that he almost left the Church. Now, he is a powerful speaking on the same teaching that almost drove him away. He is also the father of 3 (not 13--just because people sometimes ask this about him) children.

I don't know if this helps, but I'm sure his explanation is--at a minimum--better than mine would be.

And, I'd like to commend you that you continue to ask the question and make the effort to understand this teaching (or any others). I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people ask "Why do Catholics do that?" to someone and the response is along the lines of, "Uh...I dunno." Yikes!

Keep asking and keep praying. God will provide.

God Bless,

Ginny said...

Great post Jane! I am in agreement with you on this one for sure!