But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.
C.S. Lewis Screwtape #12
Cracker: You loved David, you love a man you make love with a man, you have a baby, but babies cost money, there’s never enough money, so you talk about abortion , you go and see Michael, his advice what does Michael say?
Maggie Harvey: Michael says we will always be welcome in his church no matter what I do.
Fr. Michael Harvey: I was trying to make it easier for you.
Maggie Harvey: I didn’t want it made easier, I wanted you to say ‘No’. I’m a good Catholic I believe, I go along to my priest a lifetime of sacrifice and all I ask for is to protect the child in my womb, but he won’t.
Cracker My Brother’s Keeper 1995
There is an old Baseball joke about the about the Devil challenging God to a game. God laughs saying the Devil doesn’t have a chance listing all the great baseball players in heaven, the Devil slyly smiles and says: “Maybe so but I’ve got all the umpires.”
I can’t help but think of that joke when I saw this piece at the Anchoress over some of the phrasing at the Extraordinary Synod on”gradualism”.
The Extraordinary Synod for the Family is only half-completed, and its denouement will not be known until October 2015 or even later, but if the relatio post disceptationem, the mid-term report of this Synod is any suggestion, then, as Vaticanista John Thavis suggests at his blog, it’s going to be a bumpy year, Bette; a bumpy year!
Now the principle of gradualism is pretty clear
That’s the goal of gradualism. It is not about ignoring doctrine or condoning mortal sin. It is about a priest at work the field hospital God has provided, and applying powerful medicine within dosages that each patient can withstand, until they are spiritually stronger, and can withstand further treatment. Your dosages and mine will be different at different times in our illnesses.
This is an admirable goal you want to keep the fish on the line as you slowly reel it in but instead of reeling it into death you’re reeling it to life and there are examples of how this is done
The other option was that we live together but maintain a chaste relationship. “Live together like brother and sister” was the phrase we heard repeated over and over. This is a task that is widely acknowledged to require heroic virtue from even the most virtuous, yet the likelihood that two people who hadn’t attempted to live virtuous lives, basically ever, would be able to accomplish it was somehow not of interest to solicitous advice-givers.
It was of interest to our priest, however. He was interested in a great many things everyone else overlooked. He spent hours with the Ogre and me, together and separately, figuring out our strengths, our weaknesses, our fears, our limits, our feelings for each other, and our hopes for the future. I suspect he recognized that we had both lived in a state of chronic, habitual mortal sin for years and quickly decided that a quick “get out of mortal sin fast” card was not what we needed; at least, not then. I believe his ultimate goal for us was not short-term but long-term. He was trying to figure out how to bring both of us into a state of grace, how to help us learn to love God, each other, and our child, and how to begin building a foundation that might one day support a solid family.
As a rule however one size doesn’t fit all. You have gradualism on one end & cold turkey on the other. For some cold turkey can’t work because their faith foundation is not strong enough to overcome habits of sin formed over years and reinforced by culture. Contrariwise gradualism might simply be used as an excuse to justify themselves in continued sin. It’s all in how things are taken
The reactions I am seeing are a good reason why we should welcome a return to principles of gradualism while also guarding the church carefully as they are implemented. It’s very serious, because if people go off half-cocked and not listening (as they tend to do) they’re not going to understand what the church is saying, anymore than they understood that when meatless Fridays ended, they were still supposed to take some sort of sacrificial action on that day, every week.
Most people still do not know that, and if something that clear could be lost in the noise of media and spin, then much more important and nuanced thinking can become terribly misrepresented.
The problem is for every person who knows this fact about Friday sacrificial action and remembers it there are 1,000,000 people who instead remember George Carlin’s joke about someone still being in Hell on a meat rap.
That the real danger of what is coming out of the Synod not what the words say but how they’re spun.
Presumably the goal of the vast majority of the Bishops and Cardinals there is to express language that facilitates the church aiding souls in “irregular situations” (read mortal sin) to progress away from said mortal sin to eventually a state of grace with God and full reconciliation with the church.
23. Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.
However the goal of the media and those who oppose the church is quite the opposite. The Goal is to have the church decide to not only consider such states of Mortal Sin acceptable for individuals but to actually redefine sin itself as evidenced by this piece at Yahoo:
In a dramatic shift in tone, a Vatican document said on Monday that homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer” and asked if Catholicism could accept gays and recognize positive aspects of same-sex couples.
The headlines and pieces tend to shout one thing while the realities of what is actually being said is quite different as noted in this Time Magazine Piece:
The relatio reaffirms at several points that marriage is between a man and a woman. Substance on that point is not changing. The Vatican has been repeatedly clear that this Synod will bring no changes to doctrine, or even a final document with new rites. To “welcome gays” does not mean the Church is no longer equating “gay” with “sin.”
The problem here is what Father Z calls the “Synod of the Media” to wit:
For example, if the Synod makes a statement about the “gifts and qualities” of homosexuals, keep in mind that homosexuals do NOT have ”gifts and qualities” for the Church simply because they are homosexuals.
Of course homosexuals have “gifts and talents!” But they have them as human beings, not as homosexuals. They must not be turned into some subset that can then claim rights as homosexuals. They are no better or worse than any other human being and each of them have the obligation to respect nature and God’s law.
This is completely consistent with existing Catholic Doctrine:
Catholics do not object to homosexuals participating in the life of the Church. We object to the suggestion that homosexual acts are normal, acceptable, good, proper… take your pick. They aren’t. They are objective sinful and gravely disordered. The people with the inclinations toward them are obliged to struggle against them just ever other person on earth is obliged to struggle against inclinations, to battle against and resist the world, the flesh and the devil.
That will be news to those reading this New York Times , the BBC , the Irish times and the National
Schematic Catholic Reporter who didn’t know the doctrine in the first place. They will read these pieces and come out with something completely contrary to what the Bishops in the Synod are actually trying to say.
Remember “errors of Vatican II” weren’t errors of the doctrines expressed, they were sound and faithful, the error was allowing the media and the church’s enemies (but I repeat myself) to spin and define said doctrines to the uninformed faithful for their own purposes. And that poor catechesis of so many Catholics is how we got into this spot to begin with.
Over the last 24 hours we have seen the same thing, Elizabeth Scalia not withstanding, thanks to the media millions of people around the world will be told that the teaching of the Catholic Church and the definitions of sin concerning homosexuality & cohabitation are something they are not.
We may have the players but the media umpires are making the calls.
In an age that is even more connected than the 60’s and with a press that is even less informed about religion than they were a half a century ago such misinformation could lead to disaster and if continued unchecked might result in the work of the Synod leading to a loss of the souls we are tying to save.
My suggestion, take the same approach Robert Stacy McCain takes on feminism, don’t take what the media says as gospel read the documents yourself (the link is here) and follow the advice offered:
12. In order to “walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ, to pause in contemplation and in adoration of His Face. … Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed of possibilities open up” (Pope Francis, Address of 4 October 2014). Jesus looked upon the women and the men he met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God.
The Church needs to thread carefully because nothing will lose souls faster than to allow The Catechism of the Catholic Church to be spun in the minds of the people and replaced by the The Catechism of the Mainstream Media.
Update: Ed Morrissey at Hotair:
The final version of the relatio will be issued on Saturday, and it might end up being amended and “clarified” significantly. The Synod has shifted into small-group discussions, and earlier today Pope Francis added a number of people to work on the final relatio, including the highly-regarded Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Even that document won’t be the final word; the debate will continue between the bishops for the next year until the Ordinary Synod. But the next version of the relatio will still make for lively debate, too.
Update 2: Via Hotair Again:
While the individual interventions of the Synod Fathers are not published, yesterday’s Relatio, which is merely a discussion document, was published immediately and, I am told, even broadcast live. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church. …
While the document in question (Relatio post disceptationem) purports to report only the discussion which took place among the Synod Fathers, it, in fact, advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept. Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable.
Burke called on Pope Francis to issue a statement reaffirming current church teaching on marriage and family life. The summary of yesterday’s morning session, released today, affirmed that the relatio was not universally accepted as an accurate description of the thrust of the conversation. On both homosexuality and cohabitation, the summary noted calls to clarify that the relatio should not offer a “positive evaluation” (English translation) of either status or practice, as was noted in the aftermath of the release of the relatio yesterday through other sources. At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis emphasized the invitation of all to the Church — good and bad — from the Gospel reading, which seems to coincide with the thrust of the relatio.
People trying to spin the Vatican? Say it isn’t so!