A Catholic Knight

A Catholic Knight

28 November, 2012

Standing Up to Tyranny

Standing Up to Tyranny

The election in the United States of America is over and the Church lost. At least half of the Catholics voted for candidates who openly advocated grave evil when there were other options available. The requirement of the Faith, even the requirement of logic, should have yielded a different result. As I wrote in my last post, I do not say that the votes of Catholics necessarily should have gone to Romney, but they definitely should not have gone to Obama. Yet, they did.

There are those who will use this fact to claim that the Church is “out of touch” and needs to change her positions to match the opinions of a growing number of those who call themselves her members. The opposite is the truth. It is those who call themselves Catholic while openly rejecting the Faith who are out of touch. They are, at best, deluded; at worst, they are outright liars. They have armed the enemies of the Church with a powerful weapon, which they will use to try and force the Church to subject itself to the state, or to force her out of the public realm altogether. So, what are we, who strive to be truly faithful, to do in the face of this? We are to imitate the martyrs, for we may be forced to join their ranks.

What we should not do is give up even one aspect of the Christian mission to the world. That mission is to spread the Gospel, not merely in word, but also in deed. Our charities are not philanthropic institutions, they are Christian ministries, and we are called to fulfill and defend them even in the face of persecution – and persecution appears to be well on its way.

There is a lot of talk about the need for our charities to shut down because we cannot comply with the mandate. That is an absurdity. Yes, as Christians we are called to be obedient to the laws of our government, but the Christian Tradition also states that laws which are unjust are not really laws at all. It also states that we are to obey the laws of God over those of man.

God's law requires – REQUIRES – that we fulfill both the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy. In other words, even in the face of government persecution, we cannot cease from feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the needy, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead, giving counsel to the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses, bearing patiently the troublesome, and praying for the living and the dead. All of these are integral parts of spreading the Gospel, they are part of how we exercise our religion. Just because the government has decided to make a “political stand” on some topic, like abortion or contraception, does not mean that it ceases to be a religious issue for us. Both of these practices pre-date Christ, and Christianity has opposed these things on religious and philosophical grounds since the beginning. Therefore, there is no basis for the claim that a government, which is barely 200 years old, somehow has the authority to override a religious teaching that has been around for 2,000 years, just because it has decided to politicize some moral issues in recent years.

There has been a lot of talk about how we cannot comply with recent (or future) government demands that we directly support things which are contrary to the Christian Faith. There should be no talk of shutting down our charities, hospitals, or even our businesses because of the way the government will persecute us. If we do, then the government will successfully portray us as not really caring for those in need. It is not the Christian ministries that want to stop serving those in need, it is those in government who want the Church to be completely subject to their will or force us to stop. These institutions must continue to run and do so in accordance with our Faith. The rest of the faithful must do everything they can to support their continued operation.

What if the government goes through with its threat to shut them down or fine them out of existence? Well, then the people will see the truth; it is the government who cares more about subjugating the Church than about the needs of its citizens. If Catholic hospitals, hospices, soup kitchens, and the like are to close down because of the HHS mandate, it should be publicly seen that the government has marched in and forced it to happen. I mean this literally. Keep working until agents of the government physically march in and shut us down. If they use a less visible means, like seizing assets, then make that publicly known. Even if the mainstream media outlets won't report it, there are a lot of independent outlets made possible by the Internet who will.

Our resistance must be peaceful, but we must not forget that we are the Church Militant. We are engaged in the war over our souls and the souls of those around us over our eternal end. While Christ has won this war through His victory on the Cross, we are still living it, and we must continually strive, as St. Paul taught, to work out our Faith in this life. Yes, we must render to Caesar what is Caesar's, but Caesar cannot make a claim to that which is due to God for God is and always will be above Caesar. The heavenly kingdom is greater than the earthly countries. Therefore, we must always be faithful Christians first, and good American citizens second.

07 November, 2012

Some Thoughts on the Election

God establishes all governments. That is not necessarily reason for political leaders to feel good about themselves, for God can establish a government as a blessing or a punishment. Time will tell about our government and the governments of our current age, but I think the indications of God's intentions are pretty clear. After all, it does seem to frequently be the case that, when a people as a society choose to reject God, His punishment of choice is to let them have what they think they want – a society without Him or His blessings.

At the present moment, it looks like President Obama was re-elected, and was re-elected with the support of many so-called Catholics. I am not claiming that the Catholic vote should have gone to Romney; in my opinion, a true application of the Church's teaching regarding material cooperation and the requirement to choose the least of evils would have led to a different choice. Obama may still have won without the Catholic vote, but he should not have won – or even lost – with it. What I am saying is that there is no sense in which a vote for Obama could be considered as compatible with the Catholic Faith. Why, then, did Obama get so many votes from Catholics?

The only reason that seems logical is that the Church has failed to live up to her Faith. I am speaking here of the Church at all levels within the United States of America. In other words, it was not simply a failure of the bishops, or of the bishops and priests, but of the laity as well. It is a failure of learning, of understanding, of proclaiming, of living, and of defending the Faith. We are supposed to be the Church Militant, actively engaged in the battle for our own souls and the souls of others in this world. It is truly sad to see the current state of the war.

We of the laity have certain obligations that most of us seem to be ignoring. First of all, we are obligated to learn our Faith and to apply it to all aspects of our lives. While we do not support the Church running the government, we cannot accept the modernist notion of the “separation of church and state.” That notion means that the government cannot have an officially declared faith (which was the intent of the First Amendment). In modern days it is also declared to mean that we cannot even consider the teachings of our Faith in public life, not just in how we vote, but how we live our lives outside of the walls of church and home. The way we live our lives, how faithfully we go to Mass, how faithfully we raise our families, how faithfully we obey the just laws of our country, how faithfully we do our jobs, and how faithfully we treat others, are all serious obligations which seem to be lacking in American Catholics. Just look at the statistics of how many of those who declare themselves to be Catholic regularly go to Mass, how often they observe Holy Days of Obligation, how many of them believe in the Real Presence, Penance, the doctrines concerning abortion and contraception, and the Church's doctrine on the ordained priesthood. Yes, the laity have failed.

Priests are supposed to lead the faithful by boldly proclaiming the doctrines of our faith and explaining that rejection of even one doctrine is rejection of the Catholic Faith. Yet, for how long have those of us with traditionalist views lamented the near complete absence of a clear explanation of our beliefs from the pulpit? I went for years without hearing priests discussing sin, or hell. How far removed that seems from the Gospels, where Christ did not hesitate to preach about these things. Priests are supposed to be alter-Christus, they are supposed to act in the name of Christ Himself, who acts through them. Yet, how many of them give Holy Communion to those they know are in mortal sin? How many pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians receive Holy Communion from their hands, consecrated to serve Christ by faithfully administering the Sacraments. This is not an issue of using the Sacraments to engage in political manipulation; it is an issue of clearly standing up for the Faith, of clearly showing the rest of the faithful that there are things by which we can truly separate ourselves from God and for which we must repent before we can receive such a blessing. 

Bishops are the successors to the Apostles, exercising the fullness of Christ's priesthood they received through ordination. Yet they have failed to lead the faithful and the priests by consistently denouncing the errors of our society and within our Church. Yes, they protested the HHS mandate, but they advocated the very health care law which enabled that mandate. They put their trust in the representatives of a party that boldly proclaims its unwavering support of contraception and abortion in all stages of pregnancy – even partial birth abortion. A plan promoted by a president who was proven to even support infanticide in cases of “failed” abortions where the child was born alive and breathing. They failed to live up to their apostolic responsibility of being on the front line, regardless of the consequences, defending the faith. They should never have advocated for a law from such a group without first seeing its provisions, but they did. They also failed to end the confusion of the faithful about the non-negotiable issues by declaring excommunicated those politicians who have excommunicated themselves from Holy Mother Church by advocating abortion, euthanasia, and other deceptions of the Evil One. Again, this is not about entering into the realm of politics, this is about proclaiming and defending our Holy Faith handed down to us from Christ and His Apostles. These politicians and other public figures have already excommunicated themselves. It is not political for bishops to exercise their responsibility to Christ and to the portion of His flock entrusted to their care by formally declaring that politicians who claim to be Catholic, but who publicly reject Church doctrine, are excommunicated in accordance with Church teaching and law. 

We are supposed to be the Church Militant. We cannot lose the war for we have Christ on our side. Even when we lose battles, we are not to lose hope and are supposed to persevere in the Faith, we are under grave obligation to live out our respective responsibilities in the face of the persecution our Savior said we would face for His sake. As a church community, we are failing to live up to this obligation. We have failed our country. We have failed our Church. We have failed God. May God forgive us.