Saturday, November 29, 2014

DADT Faith

Here is a recent post from The Catholic Thing that fits rather well with the general theme of this blog since we have several posts tagged with both “Reality” and “Professor Ratzinger”.

Burden? Really?
The article is about Cardinal Ratzinger reflecting on some comments made by a nameless colleague of his. The remarks were about being grateful to God that He allows so many unbelievers in “good conscience”. Since many would not be capable of bearing the burden of faith and all its moral obligations, they can still reach salvation going another way, as long as they do it in good conscience.

The comments disturbed the Cardinal and he expressed his dismay in the context of reality. Is no truth better than truth? Should we be grateful for a kind of blindness sent by God for the salvation of souls? In this view, faith is only for the strong. Knowledge would make salvation harder, not easier. The Truth will put you into bondage. Why bother to evangelize? Should we pass this burden on to others? In thinking about WWSD (what would Satan do?), this seems like a very clever and effective strategy for a new anti-evangelization that appeals to human laziness.

I convey this kind of misconception to my Confirmation students by comparing spiritual laws with physical laws. I ask the students if any of them babysit small children. Many respond, “Yes”. I ask if they would let the children play on the roof. They giggle a bit and reply, “No”. I ask, “Why not? The roof is a large open space with many inclines and slants to run up and down on. It would be great fun!”

The students understand the law gravity and how to live in harmony with it; the small children they are responsible for do not. Although small children are perfectly innocent, playing on the roof (even in good conscience) is bad for them and will eventual hurt or even kill them. So, is it best NOT to teach children about the danger of falling? Is learning about gravity only for the “strong”? Does knowledge of physical laws make life harder, like a kind of bondage? Of course not, the more mankind understands physical laws the better our physical life can be.

The same goes for spiritual laws. We are fully alive and most fulfilled when we attune our life and safety around the realities of moral law, natural law and divine law and there is no way to do this if we don’t know what they are. Fornication is a good example to use since most everyone thinks it’s “okay” as long as you “love” each other or perhaps just “lust” each other a whole lot.

The Church teaches that a serious or mortal sin against God’s laws has three conditions (CCC 1857):
  • The object of the sin is of grave matter (sexual sins are always grave since they distort what it means to be made in the image of God).
  • It is committed with full knowledge.
  • It is committed with deliberate consent.
It seems the second point automatically excludes any unchurched non-believer from mortal sin, so shouldn’t we be happy for them? No, we should not. We should be disturbed, as if we saw small children playing on a roof.  The damage being done to their souls will need to be dealt with in this life or the next, just like damage to the body from falling needs to be dealt with, even if one is unaware of the law of gravity.

Is faith a gift from God or a burden? Do we believe it gives rise ultimately to joy, or do we believe what you don’t know won’t hurt you? Do we believe the Truth sets us free or are we living by the “DADT” faith policy? Don’t ask, don’t tell.

Which way?

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