Have we become the Pharisees? — UPDATED

Have we become the Pharisees? — UPDATED November 29, 2011

That’s the provocative question that Mike Hayes poses over at his blog, Googling God:

Where are our Mother Teresa’s today? Why are those stories not being told? Every time the church is in the media it’s almost always about something insular. Mass changes, child abuse, embezzlement, school and parish closings.

Where is the good news? Perhaps we’re not providing enough of that. Couldn’t we all do just a bit more as parish communities?

Perhaps we have found the Pharisees again. And perhaps it is us. I know I can do much more than I’ve been doing.

Granted, that when we are inside of our churches we need to take more care of how we execute the “performance” of liturgy for lack of a better word. How are we inspiring others with ritual and song and preaching?

But that’s only 25% of our time. What do we do with the other 75%?

It seems to me that a “movement” is at hand. That priorities have to be made to look outward as a Catholic community. We won’t all be Teresa of Calcutta–and that’s good, she’s already been here.

But we can be great. We can challenge ourselves to stretch far beyond where we think the limits of the human heart can go. We need to give the media something ELSE to cover–something that they can’t ignore because it’s just too inspiring to let go by.

Perhaps that’s what we start praying for? Perhaps that’s what the new Roman Missal awakens us to. That it is “our fault, our fault, our most grievous fault” that we all too easily look inward and only even do that superficially. Mass should provide us with the same strength that it provided Blessed Teresa with–and I pray that it does for us.

Check out the rest.

And might I suggest: if you’re looking for great stories of Catholics building community, and looking outward, check this out.

UPDATE: Deacon Bill Ditewig has joined the discussion on this over at his blogCheck it out.

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97 responses to “Have we become the Pharisees? — UPDATED”

  1. Excellent, excellent point. We all need to look beyond ourselves to help our neighbors in need in order to see Christ in the world — and to do the work of the church.

  2. Beautiful! Mr. Hayes has really struck a chord…this should be required reading by everyone who claims the name of Christian or Catholic.

  3. Actually I think we live in a Pharisaical society in general, not only in the Church. For example, as a nation we go into a spasm for some politician that violates his marital vows (from either party) and yet we don’t even discuss the profound damage done to families by divorce. Just one example among many.

  4. Sometimes I feel like a terrible Christian because I hate being a lector and an eucharistic minister, I can’t sing, I get bored at Cursillo and when I’m around really pious Catholics I like to cuss just to shock them. I’ve started to equate being involved in the liturgy and with Church people with having an apostolate. Being an apostle in the world means something very different.

  5. One viewpoint and certainly worth looking seriously at for all, but most especially those who take their Christian faith seriously. Of course we do not have a media or other institutions today that are favorable toward the Christian faith, especially Catholics. As Rudy points out, our society is one that tends to tear down rather than build up. Recent look at the Occupy crowd points that out very well with rapes, killings, destruction, and anti semetic screams all from a crowd demanding they somehow deserve more rather than talking about what they can do for the country and others.

    As to the faith and things like the liturgy, those should be important to all Catholics because this is our way of talking with the divine Lord and Savior. It is also hard not to hear the words of Mother Theresa who took the time given to her at the Nobel Prize ceremony not to talk of helping the poor, but to demand an end to the culture of death with abortion. She said it well that countries living through the holocaust of abortion cannot do other things well as it impacts us to our very core. We have given a lot of what Christians use to do on an ongoing basis to government and that government has taken funds we could be using effectively to help our families and others and pouring them into programs that do not work. A government that supports abortion will never really provide care for others with love because the love is gone from the grave sin of abortion. Now we see the politicians positioning everything not for the good of others, but to line up power and control. Until we have God at the center of our lives and our country back Under God, this country will continue to spiral downward. Our hope has to be in God and His Church and not in politicians, especially those who are tied to the holacuast of abortion.

  6. Most of what truly makes us community, makes us Church, is never visible to the rest of the world. My wife lost her mother this weekend and the support for us, and our children, from our parish community, clergy and lay alike, has been an amazing blessing to us at this time, and no one sees that, nor would they. Certainly our “press” could be better, but it is never as bad as it seems.

  7. “Every time the church is in the media it’s almost always about something insular. Mass changes, child abuse, embezzlement, school and parish closings.”

    Well, okay, who controls that? Us? Or the MSM?

  8. The question is: does it have to be St. Colonat’s Parish, or its Christian service committee, cooking at the soup kitchen, or the Diocese of Podunk building affordable housing? Or do the faithful have the scary responsibility of doing something, anything, themselves, rather than relying on something they call “the Church” as if it were separate from them?

  9. Actually Hayes’s claim irks me. The claim that Catholics are Pharisees is one of those general protestant anti-Catholic claims. I don’t think Mr. Hayes means it that way, but he could have chosen different language.

    I see his point. But worship of God and Christ are pretty important to me. Does he consider all the Catholic Charities that are out there and the good works done by thousands of Catholics? Does he consider the heroic effort to end abortion? We can’t control what the media wants to emphasize.

  10. I think Mr. Hayes is projecting. Orinary Catholics do good every single day and they don’t ask the media to come document it. He insults the Catholics running the food bank, the pregnancy center, the Catholic lawyers who provide free legal help, the good, kind people who make it possible for elderly parishioners to get to Mass, the generous nurse practitioners who spend their days of doing blood pressue checks at the parish, and the brave people who try to save babies from being slaughtered. Perhaps he should look at himself instead of throwing the word pharisee around.

  11. I’m rather nonplussed by Hayes commentary.

    Pharisee = Hypocrite

    And hypocrisy is pretending to be something that we have no intention of ever becoming. Jesus castigated the Pharisees for putting on a public show, while their hearts were far from the Law, far from God, and far from the people whom they burdened.

    We’re not Pharisees, because we’re not hypocrites. Many are uncatechized, even unevangelized, and don’t know the scriptural imperatives toward the corporal works of mercy. They need to be taught, nourished, and led. That isn’t Phariseeism.

    A rare swing and a miss by Hayes.

  12. I read the entire article and was impressed with its truthfulness. I worship in a protestant church now — after 60+ years as a Catholic — because I wanted a congregation that actually practiced Christianity personally rather than giving money to some central office (the diocese) to use for something I might not agree with or do not see as a priority for my limited resources.

    Yes, they will know we are Christians by our love. To me that means hands-on, a piece of the 75% of our time cited in the article. At my church there is NOT a rush out of the parking lot at the conclusion of the Sunday service.

    Instead a great majority of the congregation visit with each other and ALWAYS greet newcomers. Post-Sunday-service is the time final preparations are made for the works of charity planned for the upcoming week; the houses to be painted, the elderly to be visited, the meals to be delivered, the sick and hospitalized to be visited, etc. No one postures to be noticed, they humbly just roll up their sleeves and get to work.

    It is wonderful. No pharisees there. They are culturally just not that way. Catholics have a lot to learn in this area. Catholics may tout the Real Presence, but Christ is quite visible at my protestant church, also.

  13. “Post-Sunday-service is the time final preparations are made for the works of charity planned for the upcoming week; the houses to be painted, the elderly to be visited, the meals to be delivered, the sick and hospitalized to be visited, etc.”

    Well Jake why didn’t you do those things as a Catholic? Why didn’t you encourage others to join you? Sounds like a bunch of excuses for leaving the church. They don’t take a collection in your church?
    Catholics don’t tout the Real Presence, we have it.

  14. Jake,

    When you were a Catholic, did you ever join the Knights of Columbus, the Holy Name Society, etc. I see a great many Catholics actively engaged in charitable works, though I’d like to see many more.

    I think the comparison between Catholic ecclesiology and Protestant ecclesiology doesn’t hold up very well. For one thing, a Catholic parish typically contains a much broader cross-section of the socio-economic stratification than a typical Protestant congregation. Further, whereas a good many Protestant congregations do not belong to a cohesive, hierarchical international body, Catholicism is a single, universal church that takes in the entire socioeconomic spectrum of humanity and must respond to the entire spectrum, and not just the one or two missionary churches a given congregation might field.

    We need those institutional structures in a single Church of over 1 billion members.

    And then there are all of the domestic, parochial organizations within the Church that do charity. Your problems and ours are very different, and it doesn’t do to attempt invidious distinction. Were you as actively involved when you were a Catholic?

  15. Very involved — Eucharist Minister and Lector for many, many years, Catholic school administrator, Newman Club officer in college. I tired of the hypocrisy I witnessed most every day from the people with whom I dealt in numerous parishes and dioceses over the years. It was always about the money. One parish actually declined my willingness to contribute my time if I could not also contribute money.

    New church — Methodist, quite hierarchical, socially and economically diverse, but with a different style of leadership at all levels and different priorities for the local congregations than the Catholic church.

  16. Sorry you had a bad experience. I find some wonderful and inviting Catholic congregations as I travel. The key is to remain positive.

  17. Jake

    I’m sorry you left the Church. I heard a great quote from Peter Kreeft that said, “the church is a hospital for sinners not a museum for saints”. I try to remind myself of that when I experience or manifest less than saintly virtures.

    However I am really confused how anyone who believed in the Eucharist as the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Crhist could ever leave Him regardless of the shortcomings (hypocrisy, scandal, etc) from individuals. I know many protestant congregations have great singing, stimulating bible studies, active fellowship but they don’t have the Eucharist. I’m sorry I just don’t understand. I’m reminded of the parables in Matthew describing the Kingdom of Heaven compared to the good seed and the bad seed. Jesus said “Let both grow together until the harvest”.

    I apologize in advance if I sound preachy and it is not my intent. I hope you and your family have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

  18. I thought their were situations when Jesus corrected the Pharisees and Scribes when He saw their actions as being far from the spirit of the law. Their hearts weren’t far from the law instead they had a rigid application of the law with no room for mercy or compassion.

  19. Oh — I was also a Knight of Columbus. My council had the some rather entrenched, elitist, self-serving leaders; probably the most inept leaders I’ve encountered in any organization to which I belong, among which are the Elks, Moose, Eagles, and American Legion. There was no collegiality that I saw in the running of the council.

    The council eventually drove so many members away that the Knights hall was saved from foreclosure only by leasing it to a Fundamentalist Church. That was three or so years ago and the Fundamentalist Church is still in residence there.

    I resigned my Knight membership but was told I wasn’t allowed to do so except with the permission of the Supreme Council, or maybe it was the state council — do you believe that? Forced membership!! Nothing has ever shocked me more than the gall to dictate to me what organization to which I must belong in my private life. On the books I guess they have many members. In practice I expect there are a handful of active participants that now meet in a room at the local parish.

    Quite frankly I found the Knights to be like the AARP, an insurance company with a membership component. And yes, I am familiar with the history of the Knights. Those early days of the Knights are thankfully long gone.

  20. Being on the church staff and family end of people leaving Catholicism for many years, it’s less a matter of what the Church preaches on the Eucharist, but on the very real disconnect between people who profess Eucharistic faith but who do not live a Eucharistic faith.

    It should sting, and sting deeply, that even one believer was chased out of our house. Quite often it is because of unrepentant pharisees in our midst.

    The emphasis is on the adjective there, not the noun. I suspect that people would be far more willing to accept pharisees, who are children of God, after all. The problem is the one Jesus nailed at the end of John 9. “We see,” some Catholics say. “But the sin remains,” says Jesus.

    People seem satisfied with the 99, but who’s bothered to go after that one, especially if that one advocates democracy, women’s ordination, the Eucharist for priest-less parishes, a better translation, and yes, even the CCHD?

  21. Thank you. Those were very kind comments. I did not consider them “preachy”. I found them to have come from the heart of a good person. I only hope you did not intend to define my path is the “bad seed” option.

  22. The article we’re talking about concerned us as a Church, not about us as a country. It asked us to look at ourselves as Church, not as Americans, Democrats or Republicans. This post turned into a diatribe against the Occupy movement and our current administration. Not helpful.

  23. I followed Deacon Greg’s link to the publication of the CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association). I was particularly interested in the piece about the Orthodox church in former Czechoslovakia. The story is one of constant strife between rival Christian factions from the days of Cyril and Methodius to the present. Particularly disheartening is the account of how the restriction on married Catholic Eastern-rite clergy in North America occasioned a movement away from Catholicism back in Czechoslovakia. A bitter post-Communist conflict between Catholics and Orthodox over parish properties was evidently resolved only in recent times. But the bottom line in this tale of bickering and strife over little more than ecclesiastical discipline is this: In modern times, “a majority of Czechs identify themselves as atheists.”

  24. I just find it mind boggling that anyone so involved in the Church could just walk away from it. Mind boggling.

  25. Quite a different thing. Hard to equate the two. Nice try though.
    Perhaps a little reading on the Theology of theEucharist may clear things up for you. If you think the Methodist notion of Eucharist or Communion is the same as the Catholic belief you are gravely mistaken.

  26. RomCath — (and I hope this is posted near his comments.There was no “reply” option after his post). It wasn’t a simple walk-away. It was a years long crawl as disappointments piled up. Todd noted it quite well in a post on this thread — it was the “very real disconnect of people who profess Eucharistic faith but do not live a Eucharistic faith.” There were too many of them and no improvement was in sight. I had better things to do with my time than fight that entrenchment. When I finished crawling I stood up and found myself elsewhere. And I like where that is.

  27. I am perfectly clear on the Roman Catholic theology of the Real Presence, thank you. I’m not debating the theology of Eucharist in various traditions here and as I’m not sure what you mean by the Methodist notion of Eucharist or Communion (my training is all Roman Catholic) I’m not prepared to do so.

    What I’m pointing to is Jesus’ clear expectation that we will serve the poor, and the long standing Roman Catholic reading of service to the poor as being service to Christ Himself. “When did we see You hungry, Lord?” Mother Teresa’s notion that as she bathed the body of a dying man, she was touching Christ, or Origen, who spoke of weaving a cloak for the shivering Christ with our care for others.

    My belief in the reality of Christ present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist does not preclude my believing in the reality of Christ’s presence in the poor. Nor does it make me unorthodox.

  28. No, it doesn’t make you unorthodox, M, but it does show you willing to take terms with relatively settled meanings, apply them in a very different context, and then whack some poor blighter who walks into the trap. “Real Presence” is not an especially felicitous phrase, I grant (it does not get at the Eucharistic singularity, which is better put Real and Substantial Presence), but most Catholics who know anything about the Eucharist know that’s what meant in most cases, and they rightly see “Real Presence” language being applied outside of that context usually with some doctrine-dilution agenda in mind. So, go a little easier on nice folks who react to your odd phrasing exactly as anyone could have told you they would react. Even if you are technically correct.

  29. Ed,

    Point well taken. It was meant as an allusion to CS Lewis’ comment in Weight of Glory (“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” )and obviously I’m no CS Lewis. I rather thought that I’d been swiped at, actually, which just goes to show how far I need to go in living the faith I profess.

    RomCath, I apologize, I did not mean to entrap with designs to whack the unwary, and am sorry I appear to have done so.


  30. One reason I felt this article was particularly valuable was that it asked us to look at ourselves honestly, to see where we might step up and become more the people God calls us to be. All too often, we get defensive when discussing our Church or start pointing out the splinters in other people’s eyes while ignoring the planks in our own. I grow uncomfortable when people emphasize how we possess the Truth…there is certainly truth in that belief, but it becomes problematic when it blinds us to our failures and weaknesses. I think one of our strengths as a Church has historically been our ability to look inward and be critical of ourselves. Any institution that loses the ability to do that eventually becomes irrelevant.

  31. When the term “Real Presence” is used in the context as above it refers to the substantial presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine. They are Christ’s body and blood. To say you have the “Real Presence” in your neighbors is not quite the same thing. Yes, we are called to minister to others as we would to Christ, to see Christ in every person, That does not mean they are Christ in the same way He is present in the Eucharist. We are called to see His presence in every person.

  32. “I grow uncomfortable when people emphasize how we possess the Truth…”
    I get uncomfortable when people deny that we do. I also get uncomfortable when folks who once believed we do then don’t. The Church is divine, its members are not, To walk away because you think Catholics are hypocrites is bizarre. What does that make you? Perfect?

  33. It is not quite the same thing, I know. Mysterium fidei, 39, is quite explicit that in the Eucharist Christ is uniquely present. Mysterium fidei is also clear that His presence in other ways is also “real” — Christ indeed is really present in your neighbor.

    I have no doctrine-dilution in mind here, frankly I find the latter far harder to fully live and believe than the former. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not something I struggle with, it is a source of great consolation in my life; seeing Christ in my irritating colleague, or the cranky homeless person on the street? There, I struggle.

  34. “I just find it mind boggling that anyone so involved in the Church could just walk away from it. Mind boggling.”

    Unfortunately, I do not.

    I’ve known dozens of faith-filled people who fit the description. All too often, the pharisees cluck and say the involvement couldn’t have been very deep rooted. The pharisees are unwilling to go after the lost sheep, admit their most grievous fault, and draw the person back into the fold … before the antigospel takes root.

    Good Catholics, especially self-styled orthodox Catholics don’t always want to admit it, but sometimes, just sometimes, they are at fault.

    Many people just want a simple apology, be it from a bishop, a priest, another parishioner, a parent, a friend, a family member. The new Confiteor is meaningless chatter unless it translates into real contrition with another human being–not only with an unseen God.

    Believe me, I grieve my college friends, my grad school friends, my family members, former staff colleagues, and most recently a parishioner of my acquaintance.

  35. Hello Romcath,
    Not sure who you’re directing your reply to, since you’re quoting me in the first part, then I assume your referencing someone else in the second.
    My quote “I grow uncomfortable when people emphasize how we possess the Truth…” was directed at those who shy away from any criticism of the Church, claiming that we’re somehow above that because we are, as you say, divine. We look for evil motives in the criticism and become very defensive and insular. Since the Church’s members are indeed human, and we have no direct phone line to God, it is certainly possible that at any individual moment in time we can be in need of reform and renewal. That often comes as the result of much needed and accurate criticism…criticism which may indeed be God speaking to us and telling us to get our Church in order! (Rarely do we get the type of direct communication that St. Francis did when God asked him to repair His Church…both locally and universally!)

  36. Ugh… I really need to resist reading the comments on these Catholic blogs! I swear… some people can turn anything into an argument. *facepalm* I’m not going to waste my time debating, but I would like to share something that’s been a real inspiration for me lately.

    “What we would like to do is change the world–make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute–the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words–we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.”
    ― Dorothy Day

  37. I just heard this in the Priest’s homily during the Daily Mass televised on Telecare: “The world at its worst, needs the Church at its best.” Sorry, I don’t know the Priest’s name but I wanted to share his comment because I think it is appropriate for this post.

  38. I think Mike Hayes brings up some great points. Often an article can serve to provoke us out of our slumber, as we are frequently “asleep in the light” as Catholics (to borrow a phrase from the late CCM artist, Keith Green.)

    Much has been made (rightly so) of the new and more accurate translation of the Roman Missal. The REAL translation of the Mass, though, happens when we incarnate its teaching outside of the sanctuary walls of our parish! I believe that this is the point of the article.

  39. I never said that the Church was beyond criticism or in need of correction. The Church has undergone trials from the beginning. Its members are not perfect. If they were they would need the church or the sacraments at all.
    I find it mind boggling that anyone who has lived a Catholic life, been a minister of Communion etc can now suddenly walk away from the church as if it never meant anything to them. I can’t see how anyone can live without the Eucharist.
    If someone in your family brings shame to the family for whatever reason, do you just walk away from your family? If people find leaving the Church after years a logical step in ine’s spiritual life so be it. Sorry I don’t. If you ever believed that the Church held the “fullness of truth” does it make any sense to abandon ship?
    I don’t care to continue this debate. Thank you.

  40. Jake, and the rest on this stream.

    That “disconnect” idea is very persuasive. I have also found it to be very true. My years of working with “ex-catholic-anti-catholic-fundamentalists” convinced me that all the talking about Roman Catholicism being a church of the Eucharist does not really mean anything to these folks. It does not mean anything to those folks because it may not really mean anything to us.

    Someone also above used this phrase: “pharisee = hypocrite.” That is a Christian era meaning — not a first century Judaism meaning. During the first century of the Christian era, the Saducees were the priests/ the Pharisees were laymen; the Saducees were “letter-of-the-law” fundamentalists/ the Pharisees believed in a much broader and richer Judaism; The Saducees were a much smaller and much more “old-fashioned/quaint” group/ the Pharisees had broad support of the masses and were considered quite contemporary.

    Jesus did not challenge the religious ideals of the Pharisees so much as he challenged their unwillingness to live up to those ideas.

    Same thing here.

  41. I too am confused. Why did you have to leave the Catholic Church to administer to the poor? Why did you have to wait on other people to improve? So you believe in the Eucharest but left the Church (and therefore cannot recieve the Eucharest) because others didn’t live up to the Eucharest?

    After reading through all this, I’ve come to the conclusion you just wanted to leave. There are plenty of Catholics who follow the your ideal of charity. You didn’t need to leave the Catholic Church to find it.

  42. While reading these comments I thought of another piece from the Deacon dealing with how we are “dismissed” from Mass – the three choices available:
    Go forth, the mass is ended.
    Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
    Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your life.
    Two of them would seem to respond to what Jake is saying is missing – we should announce (live) the Gospels or glorify the Lord – yet in most parishes the first (go forth the mass is ended) is used – This seems to say – its over go back to your life. You have done your duty.
    Maybe we should take what the last two want from us and live then – and then maybe Jake and others would still be members of the Catholic Church

  43. When you say “WE” I assume you include yourself and I absolutely dis-agree with you G.N.
    If you think you are not a hypocrite, then guess what…..
    I know I don’t even know you or anyone else here on this blog, but EVERYONE is a “pharisee” at one time or another…. EVERYONE!… even the POPE; chatechized or not. Jesus dosen’t admonish a specific group of people, he admonishes us ALL.
    And it’s nice that that people do this or that and take care of people but we can NEVER do enough; we can NEVER OUT GIVE GOD; wwe are always called to do more than we are doing at present.

  44. “late CCM artist, Keith Green.”

    Keith Green’s ministry is fascinating for a number of reasons. Just as his music career was getting started (mid 1980’s, but I’d have to check my files), he became addicted to the same virulently anti-Catholic parodies that drew characters like Lorraine Boettner, Tony Alamo and Jack Chick. For about a year or so, Keith Green’s “Last Days Ministries” published an extraordinarily popular series of tracts luridly pointing out all the errors of Catholicism.

    Then, just as suddenly, all those tracts vanished and a letter of apology surfaced and also — somewhere along in there — he died in an accident. If, after that point, any letter or query arrived at their office about those anti-Catholic tracts, the reply stated simply that they had been removed and were no longer being distributed.

    There has to be more to that story but we’ll probably never find out in this world.

  45. Weird.

    Then there is Rich Mullins who was going to be confirmed in the Catholic Church but died in a car crash.

  46. I often like to say that salvation is not a matter of passing a theology test. It is about being in a relationship with God consistent with the light we have been given.

    And God have mercy on any of us who so hide the light of his good news that it becomes invisible in his Church to people of good will, whether inside or out.

  47. Deacon Mike, when those in the church worked to end slavery in our country, where they doing the work of God. The article asks about Mother Theresa and if we are doing here work today. It talks about all the hours she worked beyond prayer, mass, and sleep. I think devoting ones time to trying to end the holocaust of abortion, which Mother in her speech called the “greatest destroyer.” She often talked about the culture of death. Since the current administration and that party are the ones fighting to keep abortion legal and to provide more funding and support than any previous administration, and since the president has already named two known pro abortion judges to the supreme court, I think battling this administration and the party of this president is indeed a work the Catholic Church seems to be very serious about. After all, the Pope named it the number one non negotiable issue above all others including taking care of the poor.

  48. Michelle

    Mother Thresa entire speech is written around what she termed the “greatest destroyer” which was abortion. If you read her speech, you can have little doubt from it or any other time she talked about the culture of death as did Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict as well. Her point was you could do nothing to help those millions of dead babies as she so well said..

    “Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child – what is left for me to kill you and you kill me – there is nothing between. And this I appeal in India, I appeal everywhere: Let us bring the child back, and this year being the child’s year: What have we done for the child? At the beginning of the year I told, I spoke everywhere and I said: Let us make this year that we make every single child born, and unborn, wanted. And today is the end of the year, have we really made the children wanted? I will give you something terrifying. We are fighting abortion by adoption, we have saved thousands of lives, we have sent words to all the clinics, to the hospitals, police stations – please don’t destroy the child, we will take the child. So every hour of the day and night it is always somebody, we have quite a number of unwedded mothers – tell them come, we will take care of you, we will take the child from you, and we will get a home for the child. And we have a tremendous demand from families who have no children, that is the blessing of God for us. And also, we are doing another thing which is very beautiful – we are teaching our beggars, our leprosy patients, our slum dwellers, our people of the street, natural family planning.”

    As a Catholic, the mission has to start with ending abortion and since it has become a holocaust by its legalization in this country, not doing everything to end abortion, which means eliminating the party of abortion and before that slavery and the KKK, should be our mission.

  49. I fully agree — it is not about passing a theology test, but about faith, hope and love. Theology is important — it helps keep passing down the faith through the ages, and it helps answers questions when people have them — but the pursuit of theology is not a calling for all, and some of the holiest people are those who had no theological education.

  50. Sadly, what has happened is that the faith has been confused as propositions — which of course can be used to outline faith, but can never be the faith.

  51. “As a Catholic, the mission has to start with ending abortion…”

    Really? That’s the foundation of Catholic missions? It’s one thing to agree that abortion is evil, and we should work to stop it. But the foundation of Catholicism is not abortion, it is Jesus Christ and Christ crucified. The foundation is the triune God of love who seeks us to love him and each other. The foundation is the way of the good Samaritan, which if we lived that out, would end abortion.

    If we look at history, abortion is not new. The ancient Romans not only had abortion but also outright exposure of infants. The early Christians opposed this, but did not see it as the foundation of their mission to the world to stop it. They didn’t even see taking on Rome and destroying it despite its vast cruelty and sickness. The Christian must focus on God. I fear, for many, the “pro-life” cause has become an idol diverting them from Jesus. Let them who have an ear, hear.

  52. Jake, of course since you made the decision to leave the Catholic Church, you have left the “Real Presence” behind. Michelle clearly knows this as seen in her clarification on that point. Mother Theresa knew that without prayer and the mass including the Eucharist, that nothing else she did in the rest of the day was possible nor did it hold purpose without serving her Lord.

  53. Todd, I think some are confused on the causes people leave and somehow believe that there are issues which do not have to be believed as Catholics. Helping someone understand these non negotiable Church teaching is not being a Pharisee or a hypocrite. One priest pointed out recently in a talk at the parish that some believe the Catholic Church should ignore its essential or non negotiable Church teaching to keep those who disagree in the Church. He used the example of the teaching on homosexual unions or marriages. Saying to a homosexual person that it is acceptable and not doing grave damage to their soul in continuing to live in this great sin is like giving drugs to a drug addict and calling it kindness.

    We are all called to have a “well formed” conscience and the Church teaching needs to be understood and in many cases accepted even when we have doubts while praying for the grace to believe. Too many today see those who are willing to accept and profess Church teaching as being like the pharisee. Those who do try to help when Church teaching is being misstated are not saying they are without sin for all have a thorn in our heal. In fact, being an enabler for grave sin would seem to be like the priest pointed out, like giving drugs to a drug addict.

  54. The way of the Pharisee is simple. Just look at how people think through “non-negotiables.” They will see Pope Benedict mention principles which Catholics must hold. Fine and good so far.

    But then the Pharisee will add rules in applying those principles and say you must follow their rules of how those principles apply in the political situation. The Pharisee takes truth and uses it to enslave, not liberate, to demand adherence to their control structure, confusing their own construction with the principle itself. It is not.

    This is why the Pope has also said, as many others, voting for someone who is not pro-life is possible if one has proportionate reasons (this is not a numbers game when they say this, though the Pharisee often tries to make it about numbers). Indeed, one of the things I see happening with Pharisees is an inversion of rules and principles, turning rules into principles and principles into suggestions. How odd.

  55. I agree Manny. No one has to leave the Catholic Church for it is the Church which has provided hospitals, schools, orphanages, and a million other worthwhile programs one can become part of in every parish in existence. Those who leave in my experience often do because they simply cannot accept a non negotiable Church teaching. They refuse to surrender to Christ and His Church putting away their pride or unwilling to have a well formed conscience which starts with acceptance of Church teaching on all She says we must accept. Evidence of this comes in how so many can support abortion and call themselves pro life ignoring the fruit of their actions in the millions of dead innocent children. In the recent issue of Penn State and the abuse, I sense an amazing outrage at these grave sins committed on a few children (one is too many), but many of these same folks cannot seem to make a connection to their involvement in the killing of millions. Yet, when you take the time to point out Church teaching on abortion and the need to have one have a proportional reason to vote as they do for abortion candidates, you are attacked even though not a single person has been able to point out anything that could possibly be a proportional reason that would balance out abortion.

  56. Jake, you seem to have issues with many folks in the Catholic Church who did not measure up to your personal views on what being Catholic was supposed to be. I have seen none of those you have listed that had anything to do with Catholic Church teaching, but with personalities you could not get along with on an ongoing basis. In every group where there is more than one person, this is going to happen to us as humans. That is what makes it so important for Catholics to all accept the essential Church teaching. We are united in those beliefs and where there is discord in these areas, it is usually those who refuse to believe or accept.

    And as to the history of the K of C, not sure what that slam was all about. There were lies about the K of C in its early years which were proven to not be true and those lies were used against the first Catholic candidate for President in 1928,

  57. On other point Jake, why do you keep coming to Catholic blogs if the Church was as you saw it to cause you to leave? I find it interesting that former Catholics do not seem to be able to simply walk away and leave it alone. So many seem to waste so much time and energy against the Catholic Church. Never did understand that one.

  58. Having someone say they have never seen a discussion of proportionate reasons, I provide one:

    Cardinal Dulles: In moral theology an important distinction is made between ordering or performing an action and cooperating in the action of another. Where the cooperation is remote, its influence on the effect may be very slight.

    To vote for an appropriations bill that includes some provisions for funding abortions would not be so gravely sinful as to warrant excommunication under Canon 1398. The vote might arguably be licit if the funding for abortion were only incidental and could not be removed from a bill that was otherwise very desirable.

    The legal problem about abortion in the United States does not come primarily from legislators but from the judiciary, which interprets the Constitution as giving a civil entitlement to abortion practically on demand. This interpretation of the Constitution, we believe, is erroneous and should be corrected.

    (Many people and places discuss them, in actuality).

  59. Well, I hear about former Mormons, former Muslims, former Democrats, former abortionists, former this, former that all the time — it is something which people discuss; do you think former abortionists who are now pro-life, who look to pro-choice blogs to debate them have a problem?

    Let’s not be rude to people. Fruitful dialogue takes people where they are at.

  60. No harm in apologizing to someone who you may have sent away from the Church by your actions. However, trying to help someone understand something the Church teaches should not be a need to apologize. Lying to someone about Church teaching and allowing them to remain in grave sin should be a concern to anyone who really cares for that other person. So many want to dance through hoops to try to avoid the simple facts about the Catholic Church so they can continue to do as they want, and not surrender all to God.

  61. This was a wonderful exchange of thoughts. There were a number of them that deserve to be pondered. I especially enjoyed the overall civility. In the short time I have been participating in this site, it is the first time I see the possibility of a someone maybe being convinced to, at the very least, temper his/her rhetoric.

    A blessed, merry holiday season (and especially Christmas) to all of you.

  62. Barbara I have heard that quote as well from a Dominican priest on a retreat. His entire talk was about the times we are living in and the need for those in the Catholic Church to be a beacon for truth and not give in to the culture which surrounds us. His example was the culture of death and how some seem willing to allow that culture to overcome Church teaching for their own convenience or for their own benefit or belief that is at odds with Church teaching. He was the first to point out the simple fact that should all Catholics say no to anyone who supports abortion denying them a single Catholic vote, legalized abortion would end in this country in a very short time frame. We need the Church at our best. He said that had the Catholic Church united against slavery along with the other Christian Churchs, we might have avoided a civil war, black lynching, the KKK, and racism. It was an amazing talk and your quote reminded me of it once again.

  63. I do see disheartening evidence of Phariseeism (as it is presented in the Gospels) in these combox discussions. We argue mint and chives. We look for reasons to trip one another up on our orthodoxy or lack of it. We strain at gnats and swallow camels, and we can’t tell the spirit from the letter most days. (I say WE with full admission of my own complicity.) It giveth me heartburn.

    I do think that because the world sees us doing this, we come across as insular and kvetching, and that Mike Hayes’s post is a salutary wakeup call. Here is a bit of Mother Teresa wisdom that I posted as my Facebook status this morning: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to one another.” All of us, within and without the fold. The Body of Christ is no mere analogy.

    And I can testify that it is not only possible but sadly likely that someone nurtured and rooted in Mother Church, with decades of committed work for the Church and with full assent to her teachings, can walk away. Must walk away. Not lightly, not without great pain, and not without comfort and joy in the years away. But she can also, by the grace of God, come back.

  64. Henry, you do not answer the question on what could be proportional reason to support a pro abortion candidate.

    You say “The legal problem about abortion in the United States does not come primarily from legislators but from the judiciary, which interprets the Constitution as giving a civil entitlement to abortion practically on demand. This interpretation of the Constitution, we believe, is erroneous and should be corrected.”

    What could be more direct than voting for a pro abortion senator like say a Ted Kennedy or any of the others who will act to block people from the judicial supreme court who could overturn Roe or for an Obama who put two pro abortion judges on the Supreme Court and through executive order allowed funding to flow again for abortions? The supreme court judges do not appear out of thin air, but are appointed by those who support the Roe decision and abortion and they are confirmed by these senators you vote for who are pro abortion. These candidates came up with the dance through the loophole of being “personally opposed” to abortion while having a 100% voting record supporting abortion. That would be like having Joe Patterno say he is personally opposed to child abuse and then voting on a personal basis to not do enought to stop it. There could be nothing more direct or obvious and in the next election of 2012, Catholics who claim they care about stopping abortion to insure that they do not support any pro abortion candidate and there are easy ways to find this out. Emily’s list and that of planned parenthood give you a list of names that are pro abortion and who they support. Multiple pro life organizations also produce lists which show their stance and also their voting record and grade all candidates. Of course it is also easy to see that one party platform and policies is the party of abortion and fights for judicial appointments to keep it legal.

    Along these same lines, there is also the issue of support of gay marriage and special rights for gays. This is also a non negotiable issue to the Catholic Church as has been pointed out by Deacon Greg as a long held and unchanging position of the Catholic Church. Again, it is easy to see the party and candidates that would put people on the bench who will support this grave evil.

    You and others who desire to vote for pro abortion candidates seem to try to find loopholes and to use arguments that defy logic. We all do this to a certain extent with any sin we are determined to continue to do despite the impact on us.

    Two last questions henry.. If all Catholics who hate legalized abortion and funding of abortion united and let both parties and all candidates know that they would have zero support, would abortion laws not change fairly rapidly? And can anything be even close to bringing this holocaust to an end finally after 54 million babies have been slaughtered?

  65. The Real Presence is perfect, whole, unblemished and easy to love. Not so us. Nor our brothers and sisters. And still, it’s been made clear to us time and again that we will be judged by this – whether we treat our brothers and sisters as we would Christ Himself; whether our love of neighbor is second only to our love of God.

    I’m stunned sometimes by the contortions we’ll put ourselves through in order to NOT see Christ on the breadline or in the face of the other. Beyond the scathing words on blogs and talk radio, beyond the pronouncements and dissertations about what we can do or should or might have done, there is a simple turning away from the discomfiture the face the othered Christ presents to us.

    Do we ask the name of the homeless person as we drop our coins? Is the donation given online, through the mail or in the collection plate easier because it doesn’t smell, act crazy or interrupt and demand? Do we stop to listen to, notice, love those whose lamentations and pleas (for justice, audience, help or perhaps something even less recognizable) are, after all, inchoate and prosaic psalms? Do we take a step across the barrier of the observed to the actual?

    “For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof,” says poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Sometimes these words ring in my ears, sometimes they buffet me, always they goad me with my own imperfections, blemishes and brokenness. So do we step across the barrier? Somehow it seems to me that is the definition of faith.

  66. We are all parts of One Body (where did I read this?) Some of us work on preserving beautiful liturgy, some of us feed the hungry, some of us raise funds for the poor and needy, and some of us offer help to mothers and pray in front of abortion clinics. Using God’s gifts in one area does not necessarily mean we are ignoring or neglecting another.

  67. I would think it also includes Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness and Love. I think it means bringing Christ to the poor, downcast,the marginalized and those who are alienated. It means leaving the 99 and seeking out the 1 wherever that 1 is. It means listening to Jesus and reflecting on where in our lives we are Pharisees. It means hearing pain in the words and voices of people and doing what we can to open their hearts and our hearts to the healing power of the Holy Spirit. It means imitating the father of the prodigal son not the older brother.

  68. That wasn’t a “slam” on the KC origins, simply an acknowledgement of its start as an insurance company for Catholics that were the brunt of discrimination by society in general. It wanted to help Catholic widows, orphans, and other Catholics in financial distress due to such discrimination. The fraternal aspect, if I remember correctly, developed over time.

  69. Mark

    Look again. I didn’t say that. Cardinal Dulles said it.

    And voting for someone who is pro-choice is not direct support for abortion and indeed, one is not even implicated except in remote material cooperation unless the reason they voted for someone is because of their position on choice. You are confusing material and formal cooperation — a basic error which is often found in some circles online.

    When you confuse actual categories in moral theology and philosophy, no wonder you get confused at words like proportional, which have meaning within the context of moral law — not, again, of numbers. There are many elements of a prudential decision which must be made such as effectiveness (will a person be able to do anything?).

    What is funny is basically, you demonstrate what I point out about Pharisees. They didn’t like “loop holes” in the “law” which allowed people to heal on the sabbath. They liked strict laws and anything which didn’t fit with their system was seen as “loopholes.” It’s not loopholes, it’s categorical error which is being embraced by many so-called pro-life Catholics who force a voting position while ignoring Catholic thought on voting.

  70. Maybe. Maybe not.

    Not every problem can be solved by a rational approach. To suggest that someone left Catholicism because their knowledge was defective is not exactly framing Christian faith in a traditional way.

    One counter-example is the notion of the Dark Night. God seems absent, even in situations in which his presence was well known and perceived. It’s less a matter of convincing oneself intellectually that the one set of footprints in the sand are God’s.

    That said, there is also a lot of misinformation being delivered by Pharisees.

    When a pharisee is accused and objects, one of two things might be in play:

    a. The person is not a pharisee and has an authentic objection.
    b. The person is a pharisee and one, is lying about it, or two, is unaware of their behavior.

    How does one tell? Actions, not words. Fruits, not reason.

  71. “I do think that because the world sees us doing this, we come across as insular and kvetching, and that Mike Hayes’s post is a salutary wakeup call.”

    Are you saying other people aren’t doing it either? Is it only Catholics? Look at the protestant websites. They too have lots of insular kvetching. Look how they treated Rob Bell’s notion of salvation? With similar Pharasaic discussion. This is the nature of the internet and discussion forums. People talk, and they talk about Biblical and theological issues. That doesn’t mean that charity isn’t going on as well.

    This whole Hayes controversy is like dsaying that since Thomas Aquinas wrote a lot of philosophical and theological stuff, he was a Pharasee since he didn’t spend his time administering to the poor. Come on people. Hayes is way overstating his case.

  72. This whole Hayes controversy is like saying that since Thomas Aquinas wrote a lot of philosophical and theological stuff, he was a Pharasee since he didn’t spend his time administering to the poor. So Todd is Thomas Aquinas a Pharasee?

  73. No. As a saint in heaven, he’s not. As a believer on Earth, he wasn’t.

    Thomas’ greatest gift to the Church, I believe, was as a mystic. He had a deep spirituality that integrated intellect, heart, and really, most every aspect of his life. By all accounts, he practiced what he preached.

    A pharisee is someone who, according to the Lord, shouldn’t be imitated.

    A person who protests too much may be innocent of being a pharisee and stung by unjust criticism. Or she or he could be the real thing, but just blustering.

  74. Jake, I’m sorry you’ve had that experience. What drew me away from the my protestant church after 30 years was the last, and final for me, million dollar addition, with no food pantry, no poor outreach, no soup kitchen.

    My parish feed 250 poor in a rural community, and a thrift store that puts clothes on their backs. Benefits for people with medical needs. People are helping everywhere. It’s alive and vibrant.

    I’m so sorry you missed it, but perhaps God was calling you to start it in your parish? Someone needs to lead. One woman started our food pantry.

    And, there was always the Catholic Workers.

  75. Probably here?

    If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”

  76. @Todd

    I can’t reply to you Todd, so I hope you see this.

    I agree Thomas Aquinas is no Pharisee. Niether should your regular Catholic Church goer be considered one either. It’s between God and the idividual whether he/she has done the proper good works. The more I think about it, the more I reject any part of Mr. Hayes’s argument.

  77. Let me consolidate my line of argument that I’ve made in several replies above into its own comment.

    This whole Hayes controversy is like saying that since Thomas Aquinas wrote a lot of philosophical and theological stuff, he was a Pharasee since he didn’t spend his time administering to the poor. So is Thomas Aquinas a Pharasee?

    No, Thomas Aquinas is no Pharisee. Niether should your regular Catholic Church goer be considered one either. It’s between God and the individual whether he/she has done the proper good works as delineated in the parable of the sheep and goats (Mat 25). The more I think about it, the more I reject any part of Mr. Hayes’s argument.

  78. Well, I don’t think Catholics in general can be considered Pharisees. I would say that certain attitudes are tendencies within some groups of Catholics or communities.

    People who are focused more on the letter of the law, rather than the virtues of compassion, mercy, hope, etc.–such persons may or may not be pharisees. But their actions or attitudes may be.

    Correcting a sinner is part of being a Christian. Or, as my mother would tartly say when we were kids, “If the shoe fits …”

    Any believer should examine her or his conscience and consider if she or he may be a pharisee.

  79. I think Mr.Hayes has it right, Pharisee equals hypocrite and there is plenty of it here to go around with me included.

    WE have issues every day that our good Deacon brings up, be it something on religion or politics. And our “Pharisee” comes out all the time big time.

    If you dont agree just go back to the hundreds of blog posts, you will find all the evidence you need.

    Other evidence…..when Deacon Kandra has to shut down comments.
    So if your wondering who controls the content in the media, all we have to do is look at ourselves.

  80. Because Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection.

    It’s easy to remember because they were sad, you see!

  81. Yes, it certainly has diverted Mother Theresa as shown in her quote and ongoing concern about the culture of death. It diverted Pope John Paul II who on his visit here chose to pull aside then president Clinton on the issue of abortion and on which JPII spoke often of the need to end the culture of death with abortion. And now we have the diversion of Pope Benedict XVI who labeled two issues, ending abortion and marriage between one man and one woman as non negotiable issues which seems to bother some here.

    Henry, how do you see us as good samaritans to the 4000 babies killed each and every day as a direct result of those who refuse to stop supporting a party and politicans who support and fund abortion? If the Samaritan were on the same path, but rather than seeing the man beaten, saw babies being killed in abortion mills, and refused to stop them, he would certainly not be a “good” samaritan. Folks, we have a vote which can be used to send a message that we are no longer going to support abortion and want it ended now. If all Catholics and those who care about life will contact the both parties and all pro abortion candidates and say that this issue will prevent your support, it is within our power to bring this holocaust to an end. It is frankly as simple as that. Then, you can have a debate over how best to care for the poor, with big government, or by having a limited government and low taxes and having a robust market driving everyone to a greater lifestyle and with our increased funds, doing the giving and work ourselves to help the poor. But as long as babies are being slaughtered in abortion mills, it is not going to be possible to do anything else positive out of this culture of death. Why would a loving and just God support a culture that kills babies legally by the thousands each and every day? May the strong negative direction of our country is God allowing us to sink to the pig pens in the hope that we will stop this holocuast and come home to God in this country once again.

  82. Henry, I was just asking a question as it has always made me wonder why so many “former” catholics cannot seem to cut the cord and often feel a need to try to convince others to leave as well or to justify why they left.

    A former abortionist who has by amazing grace seen the error of his ways could be going to pro abortion sites to try to help others cross over from the clear evil of their ways. Is this what you think Jake is doing with his posts? I don’t get that feeling he is trying to get others to leave the Church. If he is, that is kind of sick as the Catholic Church is far from an evil in this world in any way.

  83. The Dark Night issue was not what was being discussed. What seems to be the issue is that some see that if a Catholic sees error or a statement that is flat out in total dissent from actual Catholic teaching, especially on non negotiable issues, and points out what the Church actually teaches, they are labled and often attacked. My point was that if one is stating Catholic teaching correctly and somone chooses to leave as a result, that there would be no reason to offer an apology to get them back or to not clearly evnagelize on what actual Church teaching is on a topic. Once again, Jesus when some screamed out His teaching on the Body and Blood were to hard and walked away, he did not go after them to apologize or to tone down the hard teaching, but turned to his apostles and asked if they too wanted to leave.

    When the Pope puts out a statement that issues are non negotiable has he did on abortion and marriage between one man and one woman, that is very strong statements and because it deals with our faith and morals, we are called to accept these and support them. That is only one example. When Nancy Pelosi was running her mouth with lies about Church teaching, the Pope took the time on her visit to set her straight on Catholic teaching which is his role as well as ours as layity taking Church teaching out into the world.

  84. the death of 4000 babies a day is a holocaust that is not comparible to healing on the sabbath. And thus it is about numbers. If we had a million dollars and had to choose which issue was of more importance to solve, your argument would be to spend it on saving one person and leaving the 4000 to die. It is also about morality. Life trumps everything else for without life, you cannot have liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Of course if you are worried about feeding the poor as some try to use as proportional reason, having 4000 less to worry about through death each day makes that problem a little easier.

    I note you do not answer either question I asked at the end Henry which is why we have Catholics voting for abortion in as direct way possible as they have the full knowledge that the candidate supports abortion and if elected will do everything they can to fight any attempt to stop it. Talk about loophole seekers. That is sad.

  85. Of course it means mercy and love and compassion and forgiveness. When someone commits a crime, we can have love for the person, we can have mercy, we can show love, and we can forgive. But we should also do everything in our power to stop the crime and certainly to not make it legal and something that happens more frequently in nationwide abortion mills than the Nazi’s death camp murder of the Jews. At the end of the war, the US and other countries made a great effort to round up those who supported the murders in any way including those who made policies, ran the railroads, and those who gassed and burned. We did not demonstrate a lot of compassion or mercy or love for them which it seems like you believe we should have had. We demanded they pay for their crimes, even though in Nazi Germany according to the laws of the land the crimes were legal.

    Today we live in what Mother Thresa and Popes JPII and Bendict have called the culture of death and all have said that supporting it in any way, like voting for those who support the death camp abortion mills must dig deep to find a proportionate reason to help these people get into power using whatever means we have to defeat them. When we do, this country can once again find our way to again being one nation under God. And it is as such a country that we will see love and compassion and mercy and forgivness in abundance.

  86. Henry, this is a good article to review on Church teaching. I note that the Cardinal says that Catholic politicians supporting abortion should be instructed so they clearly understand Catholic Church teaching. If this does not work, then the second step might to be ban them from receiving communion.

    Also, there was nothing in the article about choosing to vote for politicians who support Roe and legal abortions or those who fund abortion. You seem to want to confuse the issues once again.

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