Serious Catholicism and the Political Toilet

Serious Catholicism and the Political Toilet March 8, 2017


It went like this:

Since I have been a Catholic, a serious Catholic, I have always been a political conservative in America. Never, ever have the two been said to be incompatible, except by the National “Catholic” Reporter, and now by a certain group of “Catholic” bloggers who voted for Hillary or would have voted for Hillary Clinton had they been in a swing state. I have held the same views on immigration that I’ve had for 22 years of being a practicing Catholic. Are you saying I have to change my views now? Why? I’m completely comfortable… 

And at that point the screenshot cut off.

I’m so vain, I thought this post was about me (and several of my blogger friends).  The person who made it has been trying to antagonize us for about a week now. I’ll admit it straight off the bat: she’s got me. I absolutely do hold that you cannot be a strict, party-line conservative and also a faithful and obedient Catholic. I don’t think you can be a strict party-line liberal and be a faithful and obedient Catholic either. The teachings of the Catholic Church go far to the left of left on some issues and far to the right of right on others. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and Christ will not be bound by the politics of Man. The Catholic Church worships a Person who, in his short life on this earth, managed to unite the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Roman Empire– against Himself, because he refused to please Man rather than God. There’s not a political box in this world which can contain Him. Any position on the political spectrum is guaranteed to be about as Catholic as an old, backed up toilet.

Mind you, every adult knows that there comes a point in time when you have to roll up your sleeves and plunge both hands in an old backed-up toilet or the whole house will be flooded with sewage. Ignoring the toilet because you recognize it’s dirty would not be a prudent response. You have to involve yourself with the toilet. You have to work to get it unstopped as best you can, or replace it if it’s totally broken. And then you have to clean the bathroom and yourself up thoroughly, throw away your ruined clothes and go back to the much more worthy tasks which were occupying you before the toilet backed up. It’s the same thing with politics. We are required to participate as we can, and do whatever work we can do to lessen the evils that might result. Then we wash up and go back to our other work.

What we must never do is assume that because we made the best of something, that makes that thing good. It was necessary to fix the backed-up toilet and virtuous of you to get to it right away, but that doesn’t mean you rejoice in the backed-up toilet or go out for a night on the town with poop on your clothes. It doesn’t mean you leave your bathroom that way because that’s how it’s supposed to look. It doesn’t mean that the smell of sewage is the odor of sanctity.

If you find yourself voting exclusively for conservative-leaning candidates, very well. That was your call. But never for one moment presume that, because you felt they were your best choice, you should agree with everything they say even when they contradict the Faith. That’s not unplugging the toilet, it’s putting the toilet on a pedestal and claiming the toilet is the god who led you out of Egypt.

“Are you saying I have to change my views now? Why? I’m completely comfortable.”

Yes. I am saying you have to change your views now, whether you’re comfortable or not– if your views can be shown to be wrong. That’s what the spiritual life is– a process of continual repentance, whenever you find you were wrong. The word “repent” means “to turn around.” If you find yourself veering to the left or the right, repent and turn to the narrow path. If at first you went to the political toilet with good reason, but you stayed in there to worship an idol, stop venerating porcelain and get out of the bathroom.

Human beings are adjustable creatures. We can grow comfortable with nearly any situation– that’s why comfort is an extremely unreliable gauge for whether you’re doing the right thing. One can get accustomed to the smell of an old, backed-up toilet. One can begin to imagine it wasn’t so dirty after all. One can even forget that there is a world outside the bathroom, a smell other than sewage, and work other than plumbing.

So it is with our life as Christians. People can get so they only see their pet issues and their old ways of dealing with them. They can get the impression that this one task is the whole of the spiritual life and everything else is a foolish distraction. And they feel comfortable in that state, because they’ve decided that’s all there is.

Having held views for a long time has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not they’re correct.

And may God preserve me from serious Catholics. Emotional Catholics are always more fun.

(Image via Pixabay.)

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