Friday, May 4, 2012

Blaspheming the Name

For the Name of God through you is blasphemed among the Gentiles, as it is written.- Romans 2:24

I believe that something Roman Catholics ought to keep in mind is that because of the preeminent and awesome Grace that they receive by being united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a partaker of her Divine Spouse the Holy Spirit, a sharer in her relationship with Jesus Christ, and a participator in her life in the Triune God, in other words, as the Israel of God and the Church of Christ, they have an enormous responsibility to conduct their lives in a manner worthy of this unimaginable Grace. The Catholic Church makes lofty and transcendent claims and can, to a large extent, back up those claims from Sacred Scripture, history, Tradition, and Reason. This places the Cross in Catholics lives of remembering that they are the holy, particular, and special priestly people of God, and are thus accountable before the judgment seat of Christ our God to live holy and blameless lives, in which fault cannot be found, as representatives of God the Father and of Christ, and as those embodying the Blessed Mother's purity. This is, to be sure, a lofty goal and one that will require frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance, but it is nevertheless one that we cannot shirk to live however we please. This shirking of the responsibility to lead holy, immaculate, honorable, and worthy lives is exactly what is too common among Catholics, who all to often clothe themselves with filth and thus give rise to the excuse and the indignation of Protestants who say, "How could the Catholic Church be the Church of God and the Body of Christ, necessary for salvation? The only Catholics I have ever met in my life have been irreligious, drunken, cursing, immoral, impious, dispassionate, apathetic party animals who don't really give a fig about Christ or His Church apart from the cultural heritage and the familial structure it provides." Woe to those Catholics through whom the Name of God, and of His All-Pure Bride the Church is blasphemed. Woe to them. It will be terrible on the day of judgment for them, as they examine their lives and realize how many Protestants' souls they could have saved simply by preaching the Gospel by their actions, as St. Francis of Assisi said, and then following through by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Faith. We do not get a pass for living holy lives that cannot be justly calumniated by Protestants, nor do we have any excuse for not having a zealous, ardent, fiery love for Jesus Christ, Our Eucharistic Lord and Divine Spouse. We ought to be better at "having a personal relationship with Jesus" than the Protestant is! We ought to see Him, meet Him, love Him, and serve Him passionately in the Eucharist, in our soul, through His Spirit in all our actions, and through our works of charity, the corporeal and spiritual acts of mercy, in all who need His Divine Love flowing through us to them. "Whatsoever you do, do all as unto the Lord, knowing that from Him you receive your reward," says St. Paul. Do you really believe that Jesus Christ becomes one Body and one Spirit with you, and thus with all of your actions and words? Do you really believe, REALLY, that He is present in all of your actions and that in all of them you represent Him? Do you REALLY BELIEVE that what you say ought to be always and at all times sanctified, in grace, and seasoned with the salt of holiness, as St. Paul says in Colossians 4:6? Do you believe that drunkards shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, and that drunkenness (excessive drinking beyond moderation - a word regarding this - for the sake of your family, your children, your heritage, and your honor, why not rather err on the side of more moderate drinking then use the excuse of its legitimacy as license to draw near the fire of over-indulgence? As St. Paul says in 1st Corinthians 6:7-8, "Why not rather be wronged," than offend your brother, who God desires to accept salvation in the Catholic Church, apart from which there is no salvation?) is a vile sin, as St. Paul clearly says in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, and that in Confession you are restored to your Baptismal Grace of being Washed, Sanctified, and Justified, as St. paul says in verse 11 of the same chapter? Do you truly believe that "if any man speaks, let it be as the words of God" Himself, as St. Peter says in 1st Peter 4:11? In short, are you living the gospel ideal of morally representing God, as the people of God, as specifically and in no uncertain terms laid down by the Apostles in the Sacred Scriptures? Are you causing those outside of the Church to revile the Pure Bride of Christ, and blaspheme the Holy Name of God?

Something to think about. My own dear mother has met so many Catholics, including her very brother, brother's wife, and her entire family, as well as coworkers, who simply do not give a fig for any of this, nor for the Scriptural injunctions to live decently, soberly, and holily, nor for the fact that they represent God. This is a fearsome thing, friends, readers, and fellow Roman Catholics. Is your life worthy of God? Are you on your way to becoming a Saint? Or do you just not care, being swept along in family traditions, and doing what is easy, what is normal to you, and living carnally and filthily? Any Saint would say the same thing, any Saint would challenge all in the Church, even Priests, every clergyman, (a notable Saint even admonished the Pope) to live lives worthy of their calling and such that even the godless, even the Protestant, are awestruck by your evident holiness, and ashamed of their evil speech (1st Peter 3:16). It is with great sadness and with a heavy heart that I say that much of the criticism often levied against the moral sense of laity within the Catholic Church has truth to it. Let's wake up and realize this, and once more surrender ourselves, body and soul, to God as Living Sacrifice, as the Priestly people of God, and strive to honorably and duly represent Jesus Christ, our Sovereign King, our only Judge, and our True and Divine Lover and Spouse. This is the preeminent call of the Second Vatican Council: That the laity are responsible to live holy and laudable lives, and that they, too, are responsible for the furthering of the mission entrusted to the Church, in St. Peter, by Jesus Christ: to go into all the world, teaching all that He has taught us, and in doing so, preaching the Gospel to all men and Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


  1. Well, firstly, I thought this was very well-expressed. I thought you got your point across well in relatively few words. However (must there always be a however, you probably wonder!), I do have some problems with what seems implicit in your post doctrinally.

    While much is expected of those who are given much, it is NOT the laity's apostolate to preach the Gospel in the same way that it is given to the Bishops and priests. To my recollection of Apostolicam Actuositatem, the laity actually engage in their apostolate to the evangelization and sanctification of the world by exercise of the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity. The laity do preach by how they live their lives in the world, and they are not called to preach the Gospel with their mouths as the Bishops and priests are committed to do.

    Also, except for in the danger of death, the laity is NOT to baptize; lay men and women are only extraordinary ministers; bishops, priests and (by delegation) deacons are ordinary ministers of Holy Baptism.

    Now, most of what you wrote was in compliance with these notions, so don't take this as any sort of rebuke. I am merely writing you on this because there is this common belief that the laity are called to stand on a pulpit in the public square and preach the Gospel, when that is not the case. Even St. Francis of Assisi agreed as part of the Papal recognition of his new order (Friars Minor) that he would not preach on theological matters, but only moral matters (and only then with a special Papal approbation). A lot of moderns seem to lean to the revolutionary notions that the sheep need to lead the shepherds, since the shepherds are not getting things done. I am not accusing you of this, merely commenting on my observation of it. This common revolutionary thinking leads to all sorts of obedience problems (which seemed to be particularly keen after the close of the Second Vatican Council in our age).

    It seems to me that as long as the laity engage in their apostolate with charity and MODESTY, then a lot of good will come to society. But that has to be the true apostolate, not some made-up, fantastic notion of what the apostolate of the laity is.

    I hope the best for you, Jonathan, in all this! I am very sorry about whatever scandal your mother and father have suffered at the hands of their families.

  2. Hi Nicole, with regard to this post, I just want to say first off that I will not say I am a super-expert on all of the documents promulgated by Vatican II, let alone other Councils, or Papal documents. I know a fair bit about my faith, I have a mind capable of pursuing it and learning much about it, but I am not an expert. I don't have time to read all of Apostolicam Actuositatem, so I can't say that you're wrong regarding that document. I did see this quote, however:

    "There are innumerable opportunities open to the laity for the exercise of their apostolate of evangelization and sanctification. The very testimony of their Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have the power to draw men to belief and to God; for the Lord says, "Even so let your light shine before men in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).

    However, an apostolate of this kind does not consist only in the witness of one's way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life. "For the charity of Christ impels us" (2 Cor. 5:14). The words of the Apostle should echo in all hearts, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16).(1)

    Since, in our own times, new problems are arising and very serious errors are circulating which tend to undermine the foundations of religion, the moral order, and human society itself, this sacred synod earnestly exhorts laymen-each according to his own gifts of intelligence and learning-to be more diligent in doing what they can to explain, defend, and properly apply Christian principles to the problems of our era in accordance with the mind of the Church." - paragraph six of Apostolicam Actuositatem

    Perhaps I can clarify what I meant by my post. First of all, I did not mean the laity are to go around Baptizing willy-nilly, that's about as unorthodox as the relentless streams of "extraordinary" minsters of the Holy Eucharist. I simply meant that they should be prepared to administer Baptism *if they ever come into the presence of one near death who wishes to be Baptized and be converted, and there is no Priest nearby,* for both infants and adults. I think that it's truly important for all to be prepared for such an occasion.

    Second, I think that it's possible for orthodox Roman Catholics to disagree about some things and still be orthodox and in good standing with the Church, and I think this is one of those areas. I am not suggesting the laity ought to usurp their Pastors or Bishops, and try to stand up at the front of the Church, preach homilies, and be the figures that take over the roles of the Bishops. What I *am* suggesting, however, is that it is necessary on a day to day basis to be knowledgeable and equipped in the Catholic Faith, and to use that knowledge in order to speak of your faith at all times to those who wish to know. It is an essential part of my Catholic attitude and approach to the world to give witness to the Truth of the Catholic Faith, theologically, morally, and in every other area. My, this blog wouldn't even exist otherwise! :P I've had to do this with my family and with others, and I seek in all things to have Christ on my lips. I don't believe that this is a bad thing, and I can't imagine why that would ever be objectionable, to glorify Christ and be devoutly and openly religious. It's something that I think is a positive, and should be embodied by more Catholics, building upon their moral witness in their lives.