Monday, June 30, 2008

3 objections to the Church

So I just had a conversation with a friend online about a Protestant who was questioning her about Confession. It can be tough as a Catholic since you basically always get questions from everyone about everything. The Church is the most misunderstood and hated institution on the planet. In my eyes, there are really three groups that attack the Church and her faith in subsequent levels. First, there is the skeptic.  Academic atheists as well as  your typical "skeptic" on campus all question the foundational truths of the Christian faith in general. A secularist does not accept the authority of Revelation, nor accept the miraculous nature of Christ's earthly ministry, and often will even question the mere existence of God. The assertive notion that the Catholic Church proclaims THE truth (Gasp! The evil "T" word!) strikes many as arrogant and offensive in our politically-correct society. Protestants, on the other hand, accept Revelation and the primary realities of God's existence, though attack the Church on the contents and implications of this Revelation. The irony here is that Protestants rely on the Church even for their foundational beliefs that they share in common with us. Protestants believe in the Trinity, but where did this faith come from? Its not explicit in the Bible, but came from a Church Council in the 4th century. Even the Bible itself is a product of the Church. There is no "table of contents" hidden in Leviticus 32 or on page 952 in the Scriptures. The cannon of Scripture too comes from a Church Council. This is a difficult fact for those Christians who hold to a "Bible only" formula of faith to explain away. 
Thirdly, there are un-orthodox Catholics within the Church who attack her. They accept the reality of God that a secularist denies and the reality of a visibly established Church (usually, that is) that a protestant denies, but attack some of the finer points of the Church's doctrine. They are, in effect, protestants who go to Mass and have labeled themselves as Catholics. I can think of Hans Kung, Richard McBrian and those who are members of "Call to Action" and other leftist groups in the Church. They pay lip service to the reality of the Church's divine nature, but deny it in their attacks on her infallible doctrines. 
These three groups, secularists, anti-Catholic protestants, and heterorthodox Catholics all present a challenge to the faith of the Church. Of course, there is an answer to all of their objections, but they are voices crying out to Catholics less informed about their faith. And this brings me to my point. Many people that we come across on campus or in the workplace are one or another of these groups. Each needs to be shown the love of Jesus Christ and treated with respect and compassion. Yet their arguments need to be met clearly and directly, albeit using different means. The secularist often needs philosophical and logical reasons for accepting the validity of a theistic worldview. Using Bible verses when talking to a non-Christian will not get you very far, despite what Bible-man in front of the Oregon State library may think. Similarly, a protestant needs to hear the clear Scriptural foundations of Catholic belief above all else. Each needs a different approach to effectively stir the heart to conversion. 
This is what St. Paul means when he calls us as believers to be "all things to all men". Speak in the language of a feminist to the feminist, as a protestant to the protestant, as a hippie to the hippie, etc. Each person brings a unique perspective in their questions to the Faith. The Church has not only the answer to every objection, but on an even deeper level, the answer to every need of the human heart. It is important to present the Faith in beautiful clarity and charitable sincerity to all who may come to us with objections or questions to the Church. We should welcome these questions, not be afraid of them or be defensive in their midst. 
"There are not one-hundred men who hate the Catholic Church for what it really is, but millions who hate it for what they think it is"

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dan and I both are members of the St. John Society. Here is their website:

Check em' out. 

What? Another blog?

Dan Fitzpatrick and I created this blog for a couple reasons. The first is a way for us to stay connected with each other through the infinite space of Corvallis to Portland. As I sit here and listen to a combination of the composer Palestrina followed by the exceedingly excellent "Top Gun" soundtrack (I challenge anyone to listen to "Danger Zone" and not get fired up to go out with your best friend, call sign Goose, and fly a plane), I am thinking of my other reason for starting this blog with Dan. The other day I was reading a blog by a young member of a group named "Voice of the Faithful". This is a liberal, un-orthodox Catholic group which seems to have a median age of 130 years and whose essential position on every issue in the Church (abortion, the Liturgy, women priests, homosexuality, contraception, Church authority, feminism, the role of God) is the opposite of authoritative voice coming from Rome (which comes of course from the Holy Spirit). I was reading this "blog", short for "bunch'a-liberal-unorthodox-garbage" in my opinion, and was thinking about the role of the media in the life of the Church. 
The media, as everyone knows, can be a source of good or evil in the world. Often, it is a source of evil. The media, and specifically television and the internet, allows people access to a vision of the world starkly in contrast with that of the Gospel. I don't think I need to mention how the internet can be used as a source of evil in particular to make this point. Pornography is but one example. The misinformation available on that blog I refered to earlier is another. 
In contrast, the media can also be a source of enormous good if used by men and women of faith to promote Gospel values to a world increasingly closed off to traditional approaches of evangelization. In this regard, I think of the influence of EWTN television, Catholic radio and Catholic websites such as Catholics Answers and Catholics Come Home should be proof enough of the influence that Catholics can have using the media. 
I hope that Dan and I get the chance to discuss some things which are pertinent to the lives of Catholic students at a university. Often, these issues are not discussed in homilies or at youth group gatherings, or a variety of reasons. I think that as Catholic young adults, our primary responsibility is to "go deeper", both spiritually and intellectually with our faith. Only by doing so will our faith be credible and attractive to those outside the Flock of Christ. There is nothing on earth more appealing to an honest seeker than a Catholic fully alive in the grace of God with a strong intellectual and moral foundation. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions following our what I am sure will be random and politically-incorrect thoughts.