When people start by saying “I used to be a devout Catholic”…

you can be sure that what is about to come out of their mouth next is a farrago of ignorant nonsense.

Not to disappoint, a reader writes:

I used to be a devout Catholic but abandoned the faith ten years ago. I have never lost my fascination for Christ and his hidden presence in the world. I would like your opinion as to why seemingly sincere Christians like Pope Benedict preach so weakly in this age when most people are ignorant of the fundamentals of the Christian faith and live lives radically opposed to the demands of that faith. Surely, the truths which Christians believe, such as the possibility of eternal damnation, require a strong preaching warning them of the greatest danger we can imagine as well as attracting them to the wonders of Christ?

Um, if you were really “devout” you would not have abandoned the faith. So don’t kid me. As I noted here about the grossly overused word “devout”:

It’s not a word so much used by Catholics as about them. Indeed, the paradox of the word is that those who use it to describe themselves are almost invariably either rotters, former Catholics or both. There’s something strange about a person who announces “I am devout!” just as there is something either creepy and laughable about a person who announces (in a serious, not flippant manner) “I am humble!” It’s like the Tibetan Buddhist in the Onion article shouting like Muhummad Ali, “I am the greatest monk of all time!” Really devout people are too busy living life to go around reminding everybody they are “devout”.

As to your main point, I have no idea what you mean. The Pope teaches constantly. And I’m willing to be money you have no idea what he says and have not read a word of what he’s written. If you are asking why he has not preached a fundamentalist Protestant hellfire and damnation sermon, that’s probably because he is not a fundamentalist Protestant. He has, however, taught brilliantly, beautifully and deeply on the Faith for decades in writings that are clear as a bell and easy to understand. If you are suggesting that, because the world is ignoring and spitting on the message, the message is therefore false, I suggest you reacquaint yourself with how the world received the Greatest Teacher who ever lived.

My suggestion: find out what Benedict is saying before denouncing his teaching as “weak”. It is the gospel, plain and simple, and it retains the power to destroy strongholds.

Oh, and speaking of strong messages: repent and return to the Church Jesus Christ founded or you risk the everlasting fires of hell for your pride. Jesus said of the Eucharist “Do this in memory of me.” How dare you disobey him and ignore his final command and greatest gift?

How’s that? Strong enough? Or do you only want to kick other people’s butts while congratulating yourself? There’s a parable about that:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

You want strong preaching? Be careful what you wish for! For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.


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