Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?
For all those inclined to revile the Church and what it stands for, practicing Catholics like me have a humble request - attend any mass at any time at any Catholic church in the world. It won't take more than an hour of your time, you won't be asked to convert, and I can promise you that the priest will encourage you to do only one thing - love thy neighbor as you might love yourself.
St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City is a wondrous testimony in the midst of one of the great cities of the world.
It might seem presumptuous for a 44-year old man to attempt to defend a great faith that has existed for two millennia. But if there is something I sense as a layman that perhaps the leaders of the Church may not, it's the need, in the political patois of the day, for a better "ground game" to defend Catholics against a continued and intensifying onslaught of secular bigotry. Catholics need help and inspiration for as famed writer Andre Dubus once said, "belief is believing in God; faith is believing that God believes in you."
What follows is not an airtight academic defense of the Church, the nuances of the faith, or its more controversial precepts. Catholics have had St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More, John Henry Cardinal Newman, and hundreds of other geniuses to do that. This is simply a humble plea for those disposed to have an aversion to the Church and the faith upon which it is based to see it through the eyes of the faithful.
Regretfully, in today's world, describing oneself as "spiritual" is about as far as one can get without being labeled at best, a hopelessly superstitious rube, and at worst, a misogynistic and homophobic bigot with secrets to hide. The great irony in all this, of course, is that those calling most loudly for tolerance in society are often the most aggressively intolerant of Christians in general and Catholics in particular.
It has become the pabulum of certain anti-Catholic voices among the political left, Hollywood, and the mass media to claim that the Church has done more harm than good throughout history, completely ignoring its past and present contributions to charity, art, science, and scholarship. Of course, those interested in the truth would be hard-pressed to find another organization so committed to helping and educating others. While modern Catholics recognize that hasn't all been achieved without controversy or scandal, we also wonder why we are so often the subject of ridicule and scorn.
More than twenty years ago, the late President of Georgetown University and later, The New York Public Library, Father Timothy Healy, S.J., was quoted as saying that "anti-Catholicism is the one allowable bigotry" to of all places The New York Times. Modern Catholics often find it difficult to see how the much vaunted plea for tolerance is ever extended to them.
There is no denying that the Church's unpopularity lies, at its core, with its views on human sexuality and the sins, past and present, of the institution of the Church. While it can be argued whether the Church's views on sex are out-of-step with modern society, those unfamiliar with the faith should understand that the sentiment behind them lies with what we see as a simple and incontrovertible truth -- life is precious and young lives in particular deserve great respect and attention. Because life is such a wonder, we all must modify our own behavior to ensure that newborns are best protected and nurtured within the confines of a family with two loving parents. The Church has also been outspoken in its belief, often realized among young people only later in life, that casual intimacy, like booze and drugs, is often not a form of personal liberty but rather an instrument of personal enslavement.
There's no denying that the question of abortion often tends to be the greatest source of tension between the faithful and the secular. I believe the difference between those who consider themselves pro-choice and those who consider themselves pro-life can be summed up in the idea that those who believe in abortion rights see it as a question of women's rights, while those who believe in the right to life see it as an issue of human rights. That is to say, the basic virtues of each argument lie essentially in the same sentiment -- the weak need to be protected against the strong. The biggest difference between the two sides of the issue, to my mind, lies with an interpretation of motive.
For whatever reason, those who are pro-life have been caricatured as misogynists intent on denying women their rights rather than simply those who demand that a respect for what we should all hold to be most sacred - life itself. This caricature has no doubt been made more vivid at times by the comments of the asinine, but that ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Christmas / Advent News
- A Layman's Plea for Tolerance of Catholics
- A Question For The Christmas Season: Do You Want To Become A Saint?
- Every Leader Supporting Abortion is Herod, Every Child Killed a Holy Innocent
- Feast of St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr, Calls us to Reflect on the Gift of Deacons
- Fr. Sly on the Feast of St John in the Octave of Christmas
- Welcoming the Birth of the Redeemer in the Womb: Jesus was an Embryonic Person
- Merry Christmas: Love is Born on Christmas Morn and the World is Born Anew
- Pope St Leo the Great: Christian, Remember Your Dignity
- Pope Benedict XVI: If God's Light is Extinguished, Man's Divine Dignity is also Extinguished
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?