Like billiard balls on the table, I am sort of scattered all over the internet just now, so, let’s rack these things up and then you can have a crack at me.
Earlier this week Kathryn Jean Lopez published Part II of our long interview last May. Reading oneself seven months later can be interesting, and self-instructive.
KJL: “When something is true, there is no point in arguing. We cannot make anyone believe anything.” How does that gel with the Gospel mandate to evangelize?
Scalia: Jesus never said “go out and make them believe you!” In fact, the idea that any Evangelist can “make” someone believe — can install faith into another through sheer insistence and force of will — is a false idea that could lead a well-meaning evangelist to believe he or she, and not God, and God’s grace, has been the impetus of faith, the deliverer of another’s soul. A knowledgeable discussion between an apologist and an atheist is informative but only the Holy Spirit working in the midst can bring about faith.
Jesus essentially told the apostles not to argue, not to insist. He said, “go — proclaim the good news. If they don’t want to hear it, shake the dust off of your sandals and move on.” All you can do is speak the truth, calmly and with as much love as you can, and hope the Holy Spirit — the Advocate — will help carry it into someone’s heart through whatever slight opening there might be. As we see from the saints, often speaking the truth has no effect at all; doing it while the lions are circling, or the flames are licking though . . . that sometimes has an impact.
The popes of our lifetime have embodied this. They don’t argue. None of them argue. They just speak it — more importantly, they visibly live it the way they speak it — and move on, trusting the Holy Spirit. It’s all you can do.
The game is afoot; if the Holy Spirit is throwing a lead, I hope I can see it and give a proper chase!
My latest spiritual sport began online, in a religion forum where a modern-day consecrated virgin (yes, those exist, and, in fact, their worldwide numbers are growing) was debating a group of religious sisters, nuns and nun wannabes about what defined a “Bride of Christ” and whether the term was being used too loosely by some.
If that sounds like a dull and pedantic sort of debate, you would be surprised; it seems everyone participating wanted to be a Bride of Christ and could find reasons why they ought to be called one — especially in consideration of their baptisms within the Church, the first and primary Bride. The conversation thread became a free-for-all (I stopped reading some 20 pages into it) of Jesus-loving women trying to grab a piece of veiling, or a chunk of corona, for themselves. The consecrated virgin was standing her ground and taking no prisoners.
You’ll have to read it all to see where it leads.
Finally, I was up late last night, singing sea chanties and otherwise trying to stay awake, writing this contribution to Kelly Wahlquist’s ongoing examination of Evangelii Gaudium.
We cannot say “yes” to everything, but we can say “yes” to God. Our Savior tells us that after loving God with all of our heart, mind and soul, our very next duty is to love others with the love God has for them.
This is sublime, subversive humility, and in public life it can be misunderstood as weakness. Rather, service to this scriptural order is a source of strength. To love another with the love God has for them enables us to hold steady, even in the face of contempt, because we see the hatred for what it truly is: a lack of Christ, an ignorance that can be informed in the light of that his love, if it is truly reflected in us. Engagement with non-believers and atheists, then, as with all the rest, when taken up with threads of respect and humility, can be “a path to peace in our troubled world.”
Full text here.
There seems to be a theme running through all three pieces. I think I have something due to come up next week over at National Review. A Christmas piece that will be quite different from these. I’ll add it when it shows up!
Just remembered, if you’re interested in imagining how evil responded to the Birth of Christ, I have I have a very short fictional piece on it at First Things.