“Where there is love, there is God.” Mother Teresa
The word love is so commonly used, its use is becoming uncommon. Some love food, others sex, and others love only what others have. In Catholic tradition, those “loves” are referred to as gluttony, lust and envy respectively, which are also known as, (shhhhh….whispering) mor…tal…sins.
Societies throughout history have argued and thought about what is right and what is wrong, what are virtues and what are vices (sins), what ought to be legal and illegal, and so on. Today, our enlightened elites tell us not to worry about such medieval thoughts, because the answer to those arguments is so blatantly obvious: there is no right and wrong, and even if there was, any failure or poor decision in your life is not your fault. This is the gospel according Karl, Friedrich, Jean-Paul and Michel. Today’s disciples include a series of deep thinkers such as Justin Trudeau whose budget balances itself every year (it’s called a trust fund), Bill Gates whose charitable foundation provides poor women with the means to kill their babies free of charge (i.e chemical abortions such as mifegymiso, whereby the mother’s pregnancy sustaining system is disabled and the child is starved to death inside the womb), and Klaus (not Santa) whose “great reset” will have us own nothing and be happy. With love like this, who needs hate.
The reality is that if people are convinced there’s no sin, then in short order they come to accept that there are no sinners, and if there are no sinners, then there’s no need for a Saviour. What we get is a bloodless god or spirit that makes no demands (no Cross) for a sinless man. Peter Kreeft describes this type of culture as an “orgy of universal tolerance and non-judgementalism”, its citizens as “spiritual Chamberlains”. Of course, this universal tolerance is deeply intolerant of the universal (Katholikos in Greek) Church, and ex-communication is quick and harsh to be heaped on those heretics that disagree (churches burning in Canada and US).
The truth is that if we believe there’s no free will in order to do away with any sentiment of responsibility or culpability, then we also do away with the prerequisite necessary to love, for without free will, love is impossible. If we are not free but forced to love, it no longer is love, that is slavery at best, rape at worst. If we have no control over our will, then we descend to the status of mere robots at best, beasts at worst. In either case, love is not possible.
Recently, alarms have been raised south of the border about the sharp decline of army enrollment. Author and cultural commentator William Kilpatrick, said that woke culture is largely to blame: “Previous generations have fought for God, country, family and liberty, but the woke generation has been taught to see through all such values. Eventually, one’s own self becomes the highest value. Once they come to realize that war may require the “ultimate sacrifice”, many, if not most of the woke will do their best to avoid the service.” I wonder if the same applies to declining vocations and Church attendance.
Regarding tolerance, Venerable Fulton Sheen reminds us that “Love therefore is not merely an affirmation, it is also a rejection. The mere fact that John loves Mary with his whole heart means that he does not love Ruth with any part of it.” God, afterall, did not provide Adam with women, but rather with one woman. As the proverbial saying goes, “God only gives you what you can handle”. G.K. Chesterton mused that “The whole pleasure of marriage is that it is a perpetual crisis” and that the “wise old fairy tales never were so silly as to say that the prince and princess lived peacefully ever after. The fairy tales said that the prince and princess lived happily ever after, and so they did.” For the happy man, true love is then exclusive, in marriage and in faith, through loving one woman and one God.
In terms of human will, the Church is very pro-choice. Our life, indeed our salvation, hinges on our choice to cooperate or not with God’s freely offered grace. The Son afterall, shines on us all, whether the sky is clear or cloudy. Saint Padre Pio put it simply: “Remember that the devil has only one door by which to enter the soul: the will. There are no secret or hidden doors.” Christ taught us clearly what He meant by following Him, when He said “he who is not with Me is against Me” (Lk 11:23). Jesus is implying that the decision to follow Him is up to each one of us, and that that choice is never going to be neutral (hello agnostics). Carrying our own cross(es) would be rather foolish, if we “dared to believe” that everyone is saved. The prayer given to us by Our Lady at Fatima, “Oh my Jesus forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell…” would be utterly meaningless if there is no sin and no hell. It would be like declaring there are no bad hockey players, instead blaming hockey sticks for all passes/shots (good or bad), or worst, saying there is no difference between a tape to tape pass and flipping the puck to the stands. Scary to think of a democracy, where rather than hold politicians accountable for their parliamentary decisions, we would simply be told they were born that way. No one is at fault, and since the scores are not kept, everyone is a winner!
Except we know this not to be true. There is a difference between Sidney Crosby and Joe Smith from the Friday night beer league, because given equal opportunity, they produce unequal outcomes. When the Democratic party fought in favour of slavery, their choice was not equal to the decision by Abraham Lincoln to fight against it. Likewise, the Church’s call to sainthood is not equal to declarations for universal brotherhood, because one is rooted in love for God through obedience to Christ, and the other in love for self through obedience to the zeitgeist. The increasing levels of depression and anxiety in our society, particularly among the young, i believe are a demonstration of people in despair, discovering that any self-made meaning for life, inevitably leads one to realize that all life choices become much ado about nothing. Getting back to our good ol’ hockey game, consider the thought of watching an entire season of NHL games, where the score is not kept, no rules need to be followed, and everyone is invited to play. This is how the game of life is being proposed to be played and the results will not be any different: less players, worst players (who needs training camps), chaotic games, and eventually no game.
This is not the way God intended for us to love. The entire Word of God began with a wedding between Adam and Eve, and ends with a divine wedding between Christ and His bride the Church (Rev 22:17). In between, we find one of the most beautiful parts of the Bible, which along with Exodus 12 and Psalm 23, was the most used text of the OT for sacramental instruction in the early Church: The Song of Songs! This love letter is interpreted not only as a dialogue between a bride and king Solomon, but as an expression of love between God and His people (CCC 1611). Consider the following passages:
Deut 6:4-5 “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” and Song 3:1 “Him whom my soul loves…”, or Ps 23:1-2 “The Lord is my Shepherd…He makes me lie down in green pastures…” and Song 1:7 “Tell me…where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down…”. Unless pasturing flocks was considered romantic at the time (consider today’s equivalent: tell me where you park your cars, the gas stations where you refuel…”), this is clearly alluding to God’s love for us and ours for Him. How beautiful that this love, albeit in a less perfect way, can be expressed through the love of one man and his one bride! To anyone that sees Christianity as a boorish set of rules devoid of pleasure, I invite them to read the Song of Songs and it’s 8 chapters of the “rose of Sharon” and the “lily of the valleys”, “gazelles” and “young stags”, and even discover a new meaning for towers (Song 8:10) and palm trees (Song 7:7-8). Who said God doesnt have a sense of humour?
Consider that in ancient Israel, the act of ritual washing with water was a critical way of preparing the bride for her wedding, and it adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of Baptism and all its implications. My wife recently gave birth to a beautiful young girl named Amy (root word Amor), and she too was bathed in a special water before leaving the womb (her world as she knew it) to come and join us in the flesh. Simply looking at her brings me joy in a way that no money, career success, athletic achievements, or anything else offered by the world even remotely approaches. Her tiny little smile provides relief to any form of sleepiness or ache, and in one moment, uplifts the entire family! If this is but only a small expression of the love God has for us, then let us not worry for whom His love toils, for it toils for me and thee.
St Joseph – pray for us.
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