Tuesday, April 25, 2017

‘Don’t Judge’ — How to Respond When Your Relativistic Friend Quotes Jesus

‘Don’t Judge’ — How to Respond When Your Relativistic Friend Quotes Jesus

It’s fascinating how some people who don’t regularly read the Bible are quick to quote one scriptural verse back to Christians: “Don’t judge” (Matthew 7:1).
This line is commonly used to silence us from speaking out on moral matters. “You shouldn’t tell others what is right or wrong! After all, Jesus said, ‘Don’t judge!’”

But the Bible speaks about judging in different ways. On the one hand, we should never judge a person’s soul. That’s what Jesus critiques when he says, “Don’t judge.”

Someone’s spiritual situation before God is between that person and God alone.
At the same time, Jesus isn’t telling us it’s evil to use our minds to make judgments about what is right and wrong. Indeed, the Bible calls us to make good, wise judgments about many things in life. St. Paul, for example, says “the spiritual man judges all things” (1 Corinthians 2:15).

Many people are afraid to say something is morally wrong because they don’t want to be “judgmental.” But we need to help them see there’s a big difference between making a moral judgment and judging someone’s soul. 

Is it okay for me to use my mind and simply make a judgment? If I notice it’s raining, I make a judgment: “I should bring my umbrella.” If it’s snowing, I make a judgment: “I should wear my winter coat.” Am I a mean, bigoted person if I do this? Of course not. God gave me a mind. He wants me to use it.

Similarly, can I use my mind to make a judgment about someone else’s actions? If I see my toddler about to run into the street, can I make the judgment, “That’s not good for her. She might get hit by a car”? If I do this, I’m not saying she’s a horrible person or condemning her to hell. I’m just observing that she is about to do something that will cause her great harm.

Let’s take this a step further. Can I use my mind and make a judgment about someone else’s moral actions? Let’s say there’s a young female college student who is sleeping around with one man after another. Can I use my mind and make the judgment, “That’s not good for her”? Can I make the judgment, “She’s not going to be happy living this way. She’s never going to find the lasting love she longs for. She’s made for something better”? Of course.

But let’s be clear: I’m not judging her soul if I do that. She may be doing something objectively wrong, but I don’t know her personal situation before God. I don’t know her background, her situation or her wounds. “Who am I to judge?” Pope Francis would say. A soul’s status before God is something between that person and God alone.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes how various factors in people’s lives may impair their free choices in such a way that limits their culpability or moral guilt. As Pope Francis explains, “Each person’s situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without.”
Only God sees the whole picture. Perhaps this young woman comes from a dysfunctional family and has never experienced authentic love. Maybe she was abused. Maybe she has always been taught that this is what it means to be a liberated woman. Such a woman doesn’t need me condemning her soul. She needs to know God’s love, mercy and plan for her life.

At the same time — and this is absolutely crucial — if I care about her at all, should I say something to her about what she’s doing? If she is a close friend or family member, for example, should I talk to her about it?

I wouldn’t be judging her soul — that’s between her and God alone. But to love is to will the good of another, to seek what’s best for the other person. And if I truly love this person, then it’s the loving thing to show her the better way.
Certainly, I should do this prudently, in the right time and in the right way, and with great gentleness, humility and compassion.

But it is simply not loving to sit back and never desire to share the truth with her.
Imagine if I see my 2-year-old daughter about to touch the hot stove and I say, “I wouldn’t do that. But I don’t want to be judgmental. Whatever makes you happy.”
Or imagine if my non-swimming toddler is about to jump into a swimming pool, and I say, “Oh well … if that works for you! … I personally wouldn’t do that, but I don’t want to impose my views on you. It’s your life.” Would that be a loving thing to do? Absolutely not.

This gets to another tragedy of moral relativism: Relativism hinders us from loving people.

We can become indifferent to the needs of the people God has placed in our lives.
Instead of responding with love and compassion when we notice our brother stumbling in life, we can become apathetic and unresponsive. We can become like Cain, who said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That’s not love.

Let’s rise above the culture of relativism and show more love for the people in our lives by sharing the truth with them.  

Edward Sri is a professor of theology at the Augustine Institute. This article is based on his newest book and eight-part DVD small- group study, Who Am I to Judge? Responding to Relativism With Logic and Love (Ignatius Press). Part V:  “Why Relativism Is Not Neutral.”
Read: Parts 12 & 3.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Interior Life is Everything

It Might Not Look Like Much, but the Interior Life is Everything

I thought life was too short not to do it all, so I was willing to try anything once. I was always up to something new: apartments, jobs, travel plans, degrees, beliefs. I had long lists of things I wanted to try and places I wanted to visit. But then I converted to the Catholic Faith, had my first baby, and became a stay-at-home mom. I don’t really do a whole lot anymore.
No one calls my parents to say, “You’ll never guess what she did now!” about the soup I made for dinner. No one cheers from the sidelines: “Do it now, while you still can!” when I seize some free time to read. And I don’t send postcards from my adventures in the Land of Croup.

There is still movement aplenty in the form of toddler mischief, blocks flying past my head, and children standing on things they shouldn’t be standing on.
But for the most part, any changes, any “movement,” comes not from doing something exciting in the greater world but from an interior movement of the heart, mind, and will. I’m not crossing borders, but experiencing the slow and often painful movement of the soul toward God.

Our culture is all about the externals. We cultivate bodies and bucket lists as if there will be a crown in heaven for those who looked the best while trekking at Machu Picchu. But in heaven, joy will be found in those quiet fruits of practicing the faith: contemplation, prayer, and adoration.
The inner life isn’t flashy, it’s not exciting, and no one is going to be jealous of the time spent on your knees in prayer. But it’s the real stuff, the good stuff. The hard stuff.

More determination is required to subdue the interior man than to mortify the body; and to break one’s will than to break one’s bones. — St. Ignatius of Loyola

In seizing freedom and making lists there was little bending of the will, little in the way of sacrifice beyond saving money for the next adventure. And very little stillness.
Now I live on a much smaller, more intimate scale. There are no big trips planned, no promotions, nothing exciting—only the day-to-day attempt at joyful sacrifice and surrender of self. This is harder than the worst of flights, bedbugs, and food poisoning all in one. It doesn’t sparkle with novelty either: the battle against the flesh is an old one.

But this interior movement is everything, even when I am perfectly still, kneeling—not even “standing on my own two feet.” As the spiritual life has grown, the bucket list has shrunk. Sometimes that feels good and right, other times a backpack and a one-way ticket sound pretty appealing.
And those times I remind myself that the real destination sells no postcards, and no one’s clamoring that you should go now before it’s discovered. The crown offered there is sought in the smallest of moments, in privacy and prayer, in the constant and quiet pursuit of what is good and holy and true—and in the denial of self.
“Lord what wilt Thou have me do? Behold the true sign of a totally perfect soul: when one has reached the point of giving up his will so completely that he no longer seeks, expects or desires to do ought but that which God wills.”
—St. Bernard of Clairvaux

image: Mikhail Markovskiy / Shutterstock.com
Denise Renner


Denise is a wife, mother, and Catholic convert who writes at The Motherlands. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. Denise was raised Lutheran, earned a masters in theology from Southern Baptists, and, finally, was lead to the Catholic faith by her husband.

Martyrs suffer for our sins - homosexuality is one

Jan. 11, 1993

Each week, Fr. Rutler writes a column to which you can subscribe on the parish web site. In this week's column, he writes:

I do not like most jargon, as it diminishes the creative power of the noble English language rightly used. For instance, I do not like to be told by bureaucratic sorts to “prioritize.” (Apparently, the first recorded instance of its use was in the 1972 presidential campaign.) As with all things, Christ the Living Word put it better when he said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). God and his promise of eternal life should have priority over every other desire or concern. Recently, many television viewers complained about a news bulletin covering the beheading of the journalist and devout Catholic, James Foley. Their objection was not to the horror of the news, but that it had interrupted the broadcast of a soap opera. We are learning quickly that people with that defective kind of priority will soon find out the hard way that life is not a soap opera. We are now engaged in a war, whether or not some politicians hesitate to call it that, and it must have priority over all other interests. The war is being fought by enemies of God, deluded by the conceit that they are fighting for God. 

This is so hard for an indulged and selfish culture to accept, inasmuch as it means acknowledging that good and evil exist, though many would prefer to ignore the latter. Christians are being martyred in the Middle East, and public officials still find it hard to mention that those who are being crucified, beheaded, and driven from their homes are suffering because they are Christians. 

The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, Shlemon Warduni, said on Vatican radio: “We have to ask the world: Why are you silent? Why do not you speak out? Do human rights exist, or not? And if they exist, where are they? There are many, many cases that should arouse the conscience of the whole world: Where is Europe? Where is America?” The genocide of Christians, who have been in Iraq since shortly after the Resurrection, does not seem to have priority in the attention of many in our country. 

As this suffering continues, many in the United States are willing to tolerate heresy and moral decadence in a vain attempt to “get along” with others. While Christians must “love the sinner and hate the sin,” there are an increasing number of people who are intimidated into enabling the sinner to advertise his sin. In 1992, Cardinal O’Connor said that compromising Catholic truth for the sake of political correctness “was not worth one comma in the Apostles' Creed.”

The holy martyrs in the Middle East honor the Church and atone for our degeneracy. Their bishops are willing to struggle and die with them. They must be amazed that bishops and people in other places have their priorities so wrong. 

Fortune Telling, Ouija boards - are evil - by Fr. John Hollowell

This is Super Serious: Fortune Telling, Ouija Boards, Tarot Cards . . .

Ouija Boards and Demonic Oppression 

By Fr. John Hollowell, On This Rock:
I spoke with a young man who was battling authentic demonic oppression for over twenty years after being in a room where a Ouija Board was being used when this young man was in seventh grade.
He shared that he felt something come into him and that from that point on in his life, he knew he was battling a Demon that had considerable ability to harm him (head aches and weariness) and to suggest things to him denigrating himself, his family, discouraging him from going to Church, discouraging him from confession and priests, and much more.
Stay away from fortune telling, Ouija boards, Tarot Cards, and all that other garbage.  EVIL IS REAL.  
“All forms of divination are to be rejected:  recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future.  Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers.  They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone”
– Catechism 2116
Note that Deuteronomy compares all these evil consultations with killing children: “Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortuneteller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead.”
– Deuteronomy 18: 10-11
St. Paul and Deuteronomy note that those who engage in these types of acts commit mortal sins.  It is SUPER SERIOUS
As noted from this particular young man’s story, even those AROUND this type of activity can be harmed in serious ways.

Cardinal Sarah - God or Nothing

For some in the Church today, Catholic doctrine is subject to rewriting, liturgical worship of God is primarily a chance for people to assemble and express themselves, Catholic moral teaching is now to be considered an example of outmoded rigorism, and pastoral care of the faithful means telling them to do whatever they want as long as it makes them “happy.”

But are we really happy when we reject Our Lord’s teachings and try to convince ourselves that that is what Our Lord would want us to do? Is it not rather the case that any such manipulation of the truth of Christ produces a spirit of anxiety and bitterness that inexorably manifests itself in a frenzied attempt to tear down the rest of Catholic teaching and practice?

It really does come down to God or Nothing.