Some Proverbs for the Bishops Gathered in Rome

As the summit on sexual abuse begins in Rome, the prelates of the Latin Rite of the Church are reading from the Book of Proverbs in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours. Some of the proverbs listed in today’s reading are particularly appropriate to the task at hand.

He who winks at a fault causes trouble, but he who frankly reproves promotes peace (Prov 10:10).

There is tremendous pressure today to remain silent about sin and evil. Those who do speak of sin are often labeled judgmental and intolerant. Sadly, many Christians have succumbed to this pressure; nothing but trouble can result from such capitulation. The moral cesspool that is our modern age is stark evidence of this.

The correction of faults, frankly and with love, is an act of charity (St. Thomas Aquinas). Error and sin bring war and division, both individually and collectively, but God’s truth, lovingly proclaimed, brings peace by insisting on what is good, right, true, and beautiful.

We live in an age that turns a blind eye to evil. The world often celebrates it in visual entertainment, books, the news media, and music. One can see the destructiveness of the glamorization of evil simply by reading the news.

God’s law is His peace plan for this broken world of ours; it is His wisdom that will bring us peace.

It seems obvious that the failure to correct sin in others and the downplaying of sin are at the heart of this crisis. We pray for our Church leaders to clearly and confidently proclaim God’s law and to courageously correct and reprove error.

A fountain of life is the mouth of the just, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence (Proverbs 10:11).

Jesus warned that Satan and those who are evil often masquerade in sheep’s clothing, while underneath they are ravenous wolves (see Mat 7:15). Many in our world today who despise God’s wisdom attempt to conceal it with euphemistic or deceptive phrases such as pro-choice, pro-woman, no-fault divorce, reproductive freedom, euthanasia, and death with dignity.

Despite the cloak of pseudo-compassion, they ultimately peddle death and division. God’s wisdom, on the other hand, speaks to the dignity of every human life, to hope, and to the promise of eternal life despite difficulties in this world.

We pray that the clergy and leaders of the Church will be like a fountain of truth and justice. Sadly, too many pulpits have been silent; teaching on many critical moral issues has been lacking or even erroneous. Many prefer to speak of tolerance and love in vague and unmoored ways. Tolerance and love have their place, but only in the context of truth and concern for the ultimate good of souls (not necessarily their present comfort).

Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but he who restrains his lips does well (Proverbs 10:19).

In an age of non-stop communication and 24/7 news reporting, the sin of gossip is an almost ever-present temptation. Discretion appears to have been lost.

Our age is one of easy access to various media (e.g., movies, television, books, news, music), and on account of this sin is not wanting. We talk endlessly about other people’s business and often ignore our own issues.

Rare indeed are those who “restrain their lips” and limit their criticism to what is truly helpful unto conversion.

The Pope has warned in this crisis of the need for care in how we speak to it. On the one hand, there has been too much silence and the faithful are rightly finding their voices. However, all of us must restrain the impulse to speak with invective, undue anger, and cynicism; these can generate more heat than light. Many criticisms of the hierarchy are rightly deserved, but we should not fail to praise what is good, to pray for a miraculous conversion, and to assist in crafting solutions that will restore holiness to the Church.

Crime is the entertainment of the fool; so is wisdom for the man of sense (Proverbs 10:23).

Our culture often celebrates the sins of others as entertainment. Fornication, adultery, and all kinds of sexual misconduct are normalized—even celebrated—in books, movies, and on television.

It is the same with violence. Most adventure movies today glamorize its use to solve problems.

Where are the movies that depict wisdom, beauty, love, truth, chastity, and strong families? There are some out there, but they are far outnumbered by those that celebrate crime, violence, dysfunction, and sinfulness.

As the prelates gather in Rome, we must recall that we are dealing with a cultural issue, not just a Church issue. Our whole culture has turned foolishness into entertainment and proposes we not take grave error seriously. We pray that Church leaders will realize anew our obligation to return to the font of God’s wisdom as the source of truth. Pleasing the world by conformity to its language and narrative is neither our role nor our goal. Proclaiming God’s truth is our purpose and our mandate.

When the tempest passes, the wicked man is no more; but the just man is established forever (Proverbs 10:25).

The truth will out. Evil will not remain; it cannot last. Christ has already won the victory.

The foolish keep resisting; they laugh at God’s wisdom, dismiss the Scriptures, and reject Church teaching. When they are gone, though, we will still be here proclaiming Christ crucified, gloriously resurrected, and ascended to glory.

Though the Lord permits His enemies time to repent, their days are ultimately numbered—evil cannot last.

As the bishops gather, we pray that they will see the need to purge evil from the Church, to resist the pressure to succumb to the spirit of the age. Pray that they recall we will ultimately win only with loyalty to Christ Jesus. Persecution is not the worst thing in life; compromise with the world and dying in our sins is. The victory is in the Lord Jesus, who was crucified to this world, rose gloriously, and is reigning over a Kingdom that is established forever.

These are just a few proverbs that are particularly appropriate for our bishops as they gather. Please pray for them all.

 

Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: Some Proverbs for the Bishops Gathered in Rome

Proverbs for Pro-Lifers

We who participate in the March for Life are always in need of the Lord’s strength and guidance, His grace and mercy, in order to see our goal of ending legalized abortion. To that end, I offer some lessons drawn from the 24th chapter of the Book of Proverbs:

OUR SUMMONS TO TESTIMONY If you remain indifferent in times of adversity, your strength will depart from you. Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not. If you say, “I know not this man!” does not he who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and he will repay each according to his deeds (Prov 24:10-12).

In this passage, we are being told that this is a battle in which we must engage; we must take a stance. We must stand up and be counted; we must witness for life. Either our silence will condemn us, or our witness will bring forth blessings.

Tens of millions of unborn babies have been and are being taken to their deaths, “tottering to execution” in abortion centers throughout the country. Too many Americans say, “I don’t know about this,” or “It’s not my issue,” or “It’s none of my business,” or (worst of all) “I’m personally opposed but don’t want to impose my view on others.”

God knows and sees through all of this. Each of us will have to render an account for what we have done or not done in the face of the scourge of abortion. This public slaughter cannot remain something that we are merely privately bothered by. This passage from Proverbs indicates that silence and inaction when the innocent are being dragged off to slaughter is tacit approval.

We are summoned to respond!

OUR STRENGTH IN TRUTH – A wise man is more powerful than a strong man, a man of knowledge than a man of might; for it is by wise guidance that you wage your war, and the victory is due to the wealth of counselors (Prov 24:5-6).

One thing is for sure: in this battle of the last 40+ years, our primary strength has not been in the law or in politics. Judges and princes (politicians) have done little to limit abortion on demand. At best, we have mildly limited access to unrestricted abortion. In general, the federal courts have resisted even the most reasonable and minor restrictions on abortion. There is also insufficient political resolve in the legislative branch to bring an end to abortion.

Our strength is in our wisdom and knowledge. The wisdom of God teaches us that God knew us before we were ever formed in our Mother’s womb (Jer 1:5) and that no life is an accident. It teaches us that God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb and fashioned us wonderfully and fearfully in the secret and sacred place of the womb (Ps 139). The wisdom of God is clear that to abort a child in the womb is to snatch the knitting from God’s hands and pridefully say, “This shall not be.” Scripture says, Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?” Does your work say, “The potter has no hands”? (Is 45:9)

In the end the truth will out. We are in a battle for hearts and minds. As medical evidence continues to mount, along with vivid 3-D imagery of babies in the womb, it is getting harder and harder for supporters of abortion to argue that abortion does not end the life of a human person who is, from the very early months, aware and able to feel pain. We must persistently and consistently persuade by assembling and presenting evidence.

Although some stubbornly resist the truth of what they do not wish to see, there are many others whose ambivalence can be eroded and who have not hardened their hearts. Pulling back the curtain further and further is slowly winning the day. The truth is on our side and facts will eventually prevail.

Deep down, people know the truth; they understand what they are doing but do not want to be faced with it. This explains a lot of the anger directed toward us.

Consider how the facts about cigarette smoking, once a commonplace habit that was even viewed as glamorous, have practically ended its acceptance. Consider, too, how the acceptance of slavery (rooted in many similar arguments and flawed logic) is now considered a disgrace in our nation’s history, along with the segregationist attitudes that followed. Harmful lies cannot persist forever.

Our strength must continue to be rooted in the wisdom of God and in the knowledge of medical facts about human life in the womb. People can and will be stubborn, but facts are stubborn things, too. We must boldly and confidently present those facts.

OUR SURETY IN TIME  Be not provoked with evildoers, nor envious of the wicked; For the evil man has no future, the lamp of the wicked will be put out. … For the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin. Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and when he stumbles, let not your heart exult, lest the Lord see it and be displeased with you, and withdraw his wrath from your enemy (Proverbs 24:19-20,16-18).

It is easy to become battle-weary and discouraged. This has been a long fight and the death toll overwhelming to contemplate. Every now and then I encounter pro-life and other cultural warriors who have become grouchy; they struggle with anger, even directing it at fellow pro-lifers. We must remember that wicked philosophies and erroneous doctrines have their time, but they will not last. As this proverb reminds us, the lamp of the wicked will be put out; if they do not repent, the wicked will stumble to ruin.

Scripture says, For the Lord who avenges blood is mindful of the oppressed; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted (Ps 9:12). God will requite the blood of the innocent who cry out to Him (see Gen 4:10; Rev 6:10). He will do so in His time and in His way, but all will one day know and be ashamed of the horror that this nation has inflicted on our most innocent and defenseless members. The world will one day look back with deep shame upon this era, when the killing of infants in the womb was celebrated as a “right.” This period in history will deservedly be called the second “Dark Ages.” For now, we can only soldier on in our work of changing the hearts of others.

The passage also says that we should not let the wicked provoke us to vengeful anger or hatred. Unless they repent, they will be the saddest of people in the end; their lamps will go out and the darkness of what they have done will envelop them. Our only true and godly stance is to pray for their conversion.

Many who formerly supported legalized abortion have now joined our ranks. There are more than a few who left the abortion industry and now work tirelessly to save lives and to scatter the darkness and lies of abortion supporters/providers. Thank God that they escaped; thank God for their witness. We can only pray that more will have a change of heart and join with us. Keep praying and working for the conversion—not the destruction—of our opponents.

Indeed, we cannot become like our enemy, Satan, who hates human beings and loves to see their downfall. We cannot, as the proverb says, rejoice at the downfall or destruction of our opponent or of any human being. While we may rejoice when evil influences end, we should never delight in the destruction of any person because each of us was made in God’s image.

The worst deception of the Devil is to draw us into hate and vengeance (cloaked in righteousness) even as we work to preach the glory of life. Such behavior is a deception because no end, however good, can justify evil means or can excuse becoming like our enemy. If we become like Satan, he has us, no matter the cause. Leave final judgment to God because only He can see well enough to do so.

These are a few proverbs to which I piously believe God pointed me when I asked for guidance. Our battle is difficult and wearying, but we must recall that we are summoned to it regardless of how hard it is; silence is unacceptable. This is all the more reason to rest in the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, to insist that others look to the truth that is written on their hearts, to understand that we are on the right side of history and that the lie of abortion cannot forever stand.

If you find a good fight, get in it!

Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: Proverbs for Pro-Lifers

Pondering Some Proverbs

In daily Mass this week we are reading from the Book of Proverbs, in which a common theme is the contrast between the wise man and the fool.

Let’s examine a few passages from the Proverbs. They go a long way toward explaining the ultimate destiny of the wise and the destruction wrought by foolishness and evil.  My comments are presented in red text.

Blessings are for the head of the just, but a rod for the back of the fool (Proverbs 10:6).

God’s law is a great blessing to those who love wisdom. His commandments are not prison walls; they are defending walls. His commands do not limit freedom so much as they frame it within necessary limits.

To the foolish, though, to those who despise God’s wisdom, to those who hate discipline and reasonable limits, God’s law—any authority that tries to limit behavior—is hateful and punishing, like a rod on the back.

Many today are not simply indifferent to God’s wisdom as proclaimed by the Church and Scripture, they are openly hostile to it!

It is like the reaction of someone who has been sitting in a dark room and is suddenly subjected to bright light. He despises the light and protests its presence as something obnoxious and intrusive. Jesus lamented, And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil (Jn 3:19).

A wise man heeds commands, but a prating fool will be overthrown. A path to life is his who heeds admonition, but he who disregards reproof goes astray (Proverbs 10:8, 17).

The wise man listens to instruction and strives to base his life upon it. The wise humbly accept that they do not know all things and must be taught by God.

Fools, those who hate wisdom, prattle on and on about their own opinions. They believe something is true simply because they think it.

The text says that the end of a fool is destruction. Many nations, empires, political ideologies, trends, and philosophies have come and gone over the years, yet God’s truth remains. The wisdom and the Word of the Lord endure forever.

He who winks at a fault causes trouble, but he who frankly reproves promotes peace (Prov 10:10).

There is tremendous pressure today to remain silent about sin and evil. Those who do speak of sin are labeled judgmental and intolerant. Sadly, many Christians have succumbed to this pressure; nothing but trouble can result from such capitulation. The moral cesspool that is our modern age is evidence of this.

The correction of faults, frankly and with love, is an act of charity (St. Thomas Aquinas). Error and sin bring war and division, both individually and collectively, but God’s truth, lovingly proclaimed, brings peace by insisting on what is good, right, true, and beautiful.

We live in an age that turns a blind eye to evil. The world often celebrates it in visual entertainment, written media, and music. One can see the destructiveness of the glamorization of evil simply by reading the news.

God’s law is His peace plan for this broken world of ours; it is His wisdom that will bring us peace.

A fountain of life is the mouth of the just, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence (Proverbs 10:11).

Jesus warned that Satan and those who are evil often masquerade in sheep’s clothing, while underneath they are ravenous wolves (see Mat 7:15). Many in our world today who despise God’s wisdom attempt to conceal their violence by using euphemisms such as pro-choice, pro-woman, no-fault divorce, reproductive freedom, euthanasia, and death with dignity.

Despite the cloak of pseudo-compassion, they ultimately peddle death and division. God’s wisdom, on the other hand, speaks to the dignity of every human life, to hope, and to the promise of life in spite of any difficulties.

The soul of the wicked man desires evil; his neighbor finds no pity in his eyes (Proverbs 21:6).

There comes a steady hardening of the heart of a person who loves evil. As the hardening grows worse, they care less and less for the pain they cause others. They show little pity and don’t seem to mind that they destroy the reputations of others. Their cruelty, both physical and emotional, grows ever worse.

The just man’s recompense leads to life, but the gains of the wicked, to sin. Better a little with fear of the Lord than a great fortune with anxiety. Better a little with virtue than a large income with injustice (Proverbs 10: 15, 16).

For those who are striving to be just and to follow God’s wisdom, the rewards received are to be shared generously with others. The gains of the wicked, however, lead to sins such as gluttony, greed, and hoarding. Rather than sharing their abundance with others, they spend it on the flesh; they place their trust in creatures rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.

Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but he who restrains his lips does well (Proverbs 10:19).

In an age of non-stop communication and 24/7 news reporting, the sin of gossip is an almost endlessly available temptation. Discretion appears to have been lost. Almost everyone thinks he has a right to know everything about everyone else. The people’s “right to know” seems to have no limits.

Our age is one of many media (visual, verbal, musical, etc.) and on account of this sin is not wanting. We talk endlessly about other people’s business and often ignore our own issues. Why stay in our own lane when we can “tune in at 11,” read a scandal sheet, or surf to a website for the latest gossip?

Rare indeed are those who “restrain their lips” and limit their critique to what is truly helpful unto conversion.

Crime is the entertainment of the fool; so is wisdom for the man of sense (Proverbs 10:23).

Our culture often celebrates the sins of others as entertainment. On television, in the cinema, and in many other forms of communication, fornication, adultery, and all kinds of sexual misconduct are normalized—even celebrated.

It is the same with violence. Most adventure movies today glamorize its use solve problems. We also glorify mobsters and some other violent criminals.

Some will argue that movies should reflect life. That is fine, but most people are not killing other people, burning cities, crashing cars, or blowing up buildings. Most people are not involved in organized crime. Sadly, however, there is a lot of fornication, adultery, and participation in homosexual acts. In movies, this behavior seems to bring few negative consequences; in real life, however, the consequences are often devastating.

Where are the movies that depict wisdom, beauty, love, truth, chastity, and strong families? There are some out there, but they are far outnumbered by those that celebrate crime, violence, dysfunction, and sinfulness.

When the tempest passes, the wicked man is no more; but the just man is established forever (Proverbs 10:25).

The Church alone is indefectible, by the promise of Jesus Christ. Although evil movements, political forces, and sinful regimes rise and boast of their power, they eventually fall. The Church has seen empires rise and fall and philosophies come and go. Evil men have threatened the Church with destruction for thousands of years, but we have read the funeral rites over every one of them.

The truth will out. Evil will not remain; it cannot last. Christ has already won the victory.

The foolish keep resisting; they laugh at God’s wisdom, dismiss the Scriptures, and ridicule the Church. When they are gone, though, we will still be here proclaiming Christ crucified, gloriously resurrected, and ascended to glory.

Those who mock this resist the consistent message of history. Jesus is Lord, and though He permits His enemies time to repent, their days are ultimately numbered—evil cannot last.

These are just a few proverbs that are particularly appropriate for our times. They help us to understand what God has to say about many modern trends.

Here’s a video with some other sayings. In posting this I do not mean to affirm every saying presented in it, but some of them do make good sense!

There Is More to a Home Than Just the House

There is more to a house that its size or beauty. It is an odd truth today that though our families have decreased in size, the square footage of our homes has increased dramatically. The “great room” in some modern homes is larger than the entire house I grew up in, and some of today’s walk-in closets are larger than the bedrooms of old.

Despite all this luxury, we don’t seem to be any happier. Wealth can bring comfort but not happiness. There is more to a home than the building itself. The Book of Proverbs speaks to this:

  • Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife (Proverbs 17:1).
  • The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin (Proverbs 15:6).
  • Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. (Proverbs 25:24).

That last one may get me in trouble, but I’m sure women can adapt it for their use as well.

The commercial below develops the theme that a house is more than just the building. There are many things that make a home appealing beyond its size or the brick and mortar that compose it.