Exactly Backwards! The World and Our Faith

It really should be “The Faith and our World.” Faith comes first and all things should be seen by the light of Faith. But many people have it exactly backwards. Instead of the world being on trial it is more often our Faith and the Scriptures that end up on trial. For a Christian it should be the world that comes under our scrutiny through the Word of God and the truth of our Faith. We ought to have some pretty tough questions for the world:

  1. Why is revenge and violence your way?
  2. Why do you celebrate promiscuity?
  3. Why do you constantly think that money and power is what makes you great?
  4. Why do you kill the unborn and praise it as a right?
  5. Why do you reject the wisdom of prior years as recorded in the Scriptures and Tradition?
  6. Why do you hate authority and any limits on your behavior?
  7. Why do you struggle so much with addiction?
  8. Why can’t you stay married?
  9. Why are your children’s test scores dropping? Why are they getting pregnant? Why do they have STDs?
  10. Why are your priorities so messed up?
  11. Why are you so worked up about silly things like Hollywood and Sports but not very interested in Faith, truth and justice and your final end?
  12. Why do you trust the shifting opinions of men more than the lasting truth of God?

Most Christians should be asking these sort of pointed questions to a world gone mad. But too many, filled with worldly thinking, put the Church, and Scripture on trial and demand answers only of these.

The fact is, too many Catholics tuck their faith under their politics, under their worldview, under their preferences. Instead of judging politics by faith, faith gets judged based on political views. Most Christians are far more passionate about politics than faith and if there is a conflict between what their faith says and what “the Party” says, guess what gives? A large number of Catholics base their moral reasoning not on Scripture or Church teaching but on what Hollywood stars, politicians, and pop-culture figures say.

And therefore when the Church does speak and/or Scripture is referenced and it goes against any of the modern thinking  from the world gone mad, angry denunciations, or scoffing, laughter and so forth come forth even from Catholics. It is exactly backwards. It is the world that deserves this treatment. It is the world that deserves to come under our scrutiny and answer to our faith. The world should seem downright strange and alien to us, inimical to our understanding. The Book of James makes it plain:

Know you not that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

And God does in fact seem an enemy to many. They may not be able to see it that clearly so they direct their condemnation at the Church or at the Bible. But in the end these are just deflections since the Church and Scripture are merely reporting what God clearly teaches.

In the end, why not put the world on trial? Why not test the world by faith and see all things by the light of faith? Why not store up some pointed questions for a world gone mad? The early Christians who renounced the ways of the world and knew that the Lord had called them out of the world had a saying: Let grace come, and the world pass away. Maranatha! (Come Lord) (Didache, 10)

The following video is an excerpt from a sermon I preached Yesterday here at the Parish. Audio is me, photos are of the parish.

23 Replies to “Exactly Backwards! The World and Our Faith”

  1. I know I am up ridiculously early (actually can’t sleep….thinking too much and I have PTSD), sooo since I was not doing anything productive I decided to read the blog. Again, another thought provoking one.

    I personally did not really start to trust in God until a couple of years ago. I could not receive communion for about 4 months because I had gotten very ill and the doctors thought I had Celiac’s disease (thankfully I do not. I do have a genetic blood disorder that was misdiagnosed for years). That event made me realize how much I depend on receiving the Eucharist to feel whole.

    On the question of abortion….is abortion ok in terms of rape or incest? I have heard differing opinions on that and am quite confused.

    I agree that those questions should be asked in the world,and I expect there will be much controversy over them. For the marriage one, quite a few do break up over domestic violence. In my job, I see marriages break up because of burnout, affairs,and unpredictable work schedules.

    Just my 2 cents at the crack of dawn from pulling an all nighter….sorry if it doesn’t make sense 🙂

    1. No Abortion is not OK in cases of rape or incest for in such situations we would then have two victims, the woman who was raped and the Child who is killed. Hence the Church must teach against it.

      To break up over domestic violence is often necessary. But divorce and remarriage are a different matter. Only if the marriage could be considered null would the person be able to get married again. As for other strains on a marriage you mention, people do have decisions to make regarding how they balance worke etc and life. But one of the reasons the marraige vow is rendered “For better or for worse” is to accept that every day isn’t always pleasant. It doesn’t therefore excuse divorce though it may explain it as you suggest.

      1. What I’ve learned in my fifty years here is that nothing hard is possible without God. And marriage sure is hard. Unless both people love God more than anything else, the marriage is likely to fail. If one person in the marriage more than anything else, what you’re likely to end up with is what we call redemptive suffering – one person suffering for the other who’s actions will be out of line.

        My point? Don’t marry anyone who is not profoundly religious. And don’t get married unless you love God and the truth more than you love your spouse.

  2. Speaking of abortion…

    I couldn’t sleep either and flipped on the TV to see a bio piece done on a “doctor” who took over for the abortionist who was shot in that church a while back. Don’t know where I’ve been, because I honestly did NOT know that it is legal to have an abortion past 19 weeks unless the mother’s health was in jeopardy.

    Well, this “doctor” and his abortion patient were interviewed. The mother had three kids was 22 weeks pregnant and didn’t want to have anymore children. She gave her third child up for adoption and found that experience too traumatic, thus this time around, abortion was her route. This doctor explained how happy he was that he was available to step in to provide this “vital service” to women such as this. I was sickened.

    1. How could anyone think that abortion would be less traumatic than adoption?

    2. Babies have been born at 22 weeks. So, in this case, how is this different from the mother who gives birth and puts her child in a trash can?

    3. This “doctor” said he does abortions up to 26 weeks, when babies are considered well viable. I’ve been in the NICU w/my goddaughter when she had an IV put in, and it was obvious she felt pain. My goodness, I’m not sure if I’d feel badly if this man were also shot.

  3. This was the comment I was going to make before I got sidetracked-

    “Why are your children’s test scores dropping? Why are they getting pregnant? Why do they have STDs?”

    An item highlighted in the news was about Milwaukee schools giving out condoms to combat their problems with students and STD’s. What is wrong with the world? Would someone who thinks giving our kids condoms is okay please explain their reasoning to me?

    I’d wager a bet that there are more kids in high school who use alcohol than kids who have sex, and yet we don’t allow them to drink in a “safe” way because “they’re going to do it anyway.” A few years ago, a couple from VA hosted a high school party, took kids’ keys so they wouldn’t be risky with the driving and rolled out the kegs. They went to jail.

    As with drinking, we know it’s NOT A GOOD THING for teens to have sex, so why do we make it permissive? I really don’t understand.

    1. Yeah it’s really incredible the different standards at work. We get all worked up about certin things but when it comes to sex we seem to have taken a sleeping pill. The sexual reveolution really put some people morally to sleep and in such a way that they just lack plain good sense.

  4. Great post, Monsignor. What makes the Catholic tradition a living tradition, in which Christ is at work, is our constant return to the sources, i.e., to the Eucharist, the liturgical life of the Church, Scripture, and the doctrine of our Tradition. It is always a return to the sources and then a move back to the present day. It is always to bring out the relevance of these sources for contemporary situations. But what often happens is that, as you said, the politics informs the faith rather than vice versa. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that we need to question our own political commitments and those of the world from the basis of the faith. We must do this in love, but we need to stand firm nonetheless.

    Thanks for the insight.

  5. Monsignor: To all your above questions to the world I would answer: indoctrination by television. The Amish don’t have these problems do they? We start being indoctrinated as toddlers. I am trying to kill my television, but it doesn’t die easily, I’ve only eliminated 2 nights a week so far. It was Oprah who helped me most: one day her guests were a “swinging” couple, just regular folks mind you, only they slept with friends on a regular basis. Oprah looked slyly into the camera and said, “Things are changin, folks.” Then a show bewailing how our culture makes young girls believe they are worthless unless they are thin, good looking, etc, and a few days later a show on how to look your sexy, skinny best in your tight jeans, girls. LOL

    What a pretty church you have.

    1. Little of no TV is a great idea. I too have whittled it down to less than an hour. I watche selvective movies and other DVDs as well but there I can be more slective.

      We are blessed with a very nice Church. Recently spent 100K to clean and touch up the beautiful paintings on the clerestory.

  6. God bless you all. Msgr. You have hit a chord that is obviously resonating well and good. Katherine. Don’t give up. I was diagnosed as Schizophrenic back in ’68. They did not delete this label when my memory recovered a ‘lost gap’ in my consciousness and therefore the label PTSD was more appropriate. I learned through many encounters with the system, my belief that the personal is indeed at risk in the power establishments that exist in this world today. That is what I originally wrote my book about at mere ‘therapy’ – to get the story out. Then the insight as to what was behind philosophy, even with Kant, who in a previous article I showed or at least said that he wanted to make way for faith, but then ended up, with an historical rather than an eternal basis for that faith, despite his high sounding vocabulary. Msgr. Pope. I am happy. I am finding blogs on New Advent which really will fill in the gaps for me. I discovered this morning for instance, in reading a debate between Catholic Theologians on the difficulties for the Church at present. As the debate has not been finalized, therefore I will have to go ahead, and keep learning, as I write, following my intuition WITH FAITH. Katherine. Faith, Hope and Charity are the theological virtues. When I had a sudden conversion and it seemed like everything came to me at once, I found myself in a state of being, (mind and emotion) which is what I believe is meant by faith. That’s what Catholicism has that the philosophers don’t have. The good ones are trying to convert their ‘idea’ based philosophies into praxis. But as Bender said, and I trust he lives, Faith, hope, and charity are not ‘just’ Ideas. They are Theological. They are from God. Katherine. You are doing well. Don’t give up Hope. You have placed your faith in God. PTSD is curable..

  7. There is a simple answer to all questions: the world does not know Christ the Lord.

    Look at the picture you posted – the people are about to ask for Jesus crucifixion. The world thought He was an enemy. The Romans, the Jews, the religious authorities and you and I when given a chance would do it again. Catholic or not, the enmity with Christ will last until He comes back. It is OK to think of Christ as an enemy if we are living under the banner of the enemy and the deceiver (devil).

    But for those who believe he gives the power to be sons and daughters of God. The teachings are helpful, but let us remember that all 12 disciples had the teachings first hand. The Holy Spirit guides a Christian disciple out of the darkness of the world and inspires us to live according to the teaching in spirit and in truth, not just on Sundays. Sooner or later, a Christian must make the decision to love God with the whole heart, soul and strength. Until then our so called faith is a like a book on a shelf, it prepares us with knowledge but it is not the day in and day out 24/7 relationship – the call to holiness. Some people think only a few are called to this life! Another deceit of the enemy.

    Love is wonderful! The love of God can transform all the pain of the world into opportunities for joy, service, generosity, etc. Some Christians return the gift of faith expecting more pleasure than pain. No pleasure was promised, but love and peace.

    It is going to hurt to follow Christ:
    • to keep a baby that came from a rape
    • to stay married to someone who stopped pleasing us
    • to help with time and care those who fall behind instead of jeering at them and feeling superior
    • it hurts to curve our hatred and disdain for criminals
    • to work harder for education instead of indulging our families in entertainment.

    But ask the runners and the athletes, can they experience the joy of the race without the pain of the training and the muscle exertion?

  8. Msgr. Pope is right on. We should use our Faith to challenge the world, even when (most of the time), our faith and our morals are in the minority. Otherwise we are succumbing to a culture of hedonism and nihilism, believing in nothing but a search for pleasure, and attacking the Church for teaching that fixed standards of right and wrong DO EXIST, the world to the contrary.

  9. Good day greetings Msgr. Today we are giving a thanksgiving mass for the Blessed Mother Mary Immaculate Concepcion, it is also a day of joy since She is the patron of our country the Philippines. I remember God telling me that He has given the name of my country to me (Luzviminda R.P. – luzviminda republic of the Philippines) although some calls it a joke but for me that is no co-incidence. With regards to your topic and comparing it to my personal message of prophecy for the country, i can only say Amen. It is true that is the very reason why i joined the call for candidates for this coming election. What makes me different from the rest of the candidates ..it is because I am coming in the name of my Faith (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) the faith i belong is the church of the poor or the only Catholic church in Asia, i am with the Parish Renewal Movement (a lesson about the spirituality of each individual and thereby bringing them back to the Faith and lastly I work and belong with the Basic Ecclesial Community – small catholic-christian community of propagating the faith, living the life of the word of God in the smallest community of the land, People must know how to see the light of God in Spirit (according to the Faith) and in Truth (according to the realities of the present life, the condition of the living that exist in the world) and if we accept the Truth then we have to let the Spirit lives in our heart and control our mind and action to work in accordance with the Faith..in that manner we please our God Almighty.
    With regards to the question of abortion…God said to me in a dream at the moment of conception He has already given it to men because He is the creator and we have to look at it as a gift of life. Any thought and act of killing is against the law of God.
    Please pray for me as i defend my Faith. Thank you and God bless us always.

  10. Monsignor, this is exactly what we need: a muscular preaching that isn’t afraid to get in your face with the challenging questions. For too long, we’ve had to live with an ineffectual I’m-okay-you’re-okay sentimentalism in homiletics, telling us to love one another but not reminding us that occasionally tough love is called for, that standing up for and with the Prince of Peace is often a source of tension, division and rejection. We see emphasis on the Christ of the “Footprints in the Sand” story, who carries us through our troubles, without equal time paid to the Christ who admonished those who would follow him to take up their crosses (Mt 16:24).If you ain’t dogmatic, you ain’t teachin’ nuthin’! Have you thought about doing seminars on the subject of homiletics?

  11. Were it not for the allegedly approaching Winter Precipitation I would not be watching the news, I am so sick of hearing about a particular golfer!

  12. In the weeks since my mother’s death, I’ve been going through my mother’s files. I came across baptismal certificates for my grandmother, my mother, and myself.

    My grandmother’s reads:

    Ella, Tochter von Daniel und seiner Frau Emma [daughter of Daniel and his wife Emma]…

    My mother’s reads:

    Edith, daughter of Chester and his wife Ella…

    Mine reads:

    Cynthia, daughter of Walter and his wife Edith…

    I was curious to see whether my daughter’s certificate read the same way, so I dug it up.

    Catherine, daughter of Christopher and Cynthia…

    For the record, my husband and I were married for nearly two years when our daughter was born. You’ll note that two words included on my grandmother’s, mother’s, and my certificate aren’t on my daughter’s. It seems that baptismal certificates no longer pre-suppose that a child’s parents are married.

Comments are closed.