|Rebutting the ‘Catholic but…’|
This article is as it appeared in Bp. Olmsted's column of The Catholic Sun. His current article is linked here: http://www.catholicsun.org/bishopColumn.htm
“I am a Catholic businessman but I don’t let the Church influence what I do at the office or in the boardroom;” but Jesus says (Mt 7:21), “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
“I am a Catholic politician but I don’t let my Catholicism impact on how I vote or what legislation I promote;” but Jesus says (Mt 7:26-27), “Everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
“I am a Catholic physician but I don’t let my faith mold my decisions regarding abortion, contraception, or other medical practices;” but Jesus says Mt 5:37), “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.”
“I am a Catholic talk show host but I don’t let the Church inhibit my right to say whatever I want on the air;” but in the Letter of James, God says (2:17) “Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
“I am a Catholic priest but I don’t let Magisterial teaching keep me from dissenting from moral or doctrinal points nor let it limit my own ‘pastoral solutions’;” but at ordination each priest professes a solemn oath, “I believe everything contained in God’s Word, written or handed down in tradition and proposed by the Church… I also firmly accept and hold each and every thing that is proposed by the Church infinitively regarding teaching on faith and morals.”
Lent is the time to kick the “Catholic but...” out of our own daily lives. It is the time to expunge rationalization from our minds and to root out compromise from our hearts. Lent is the time to say a determined “No” to the temptation to water down our faith for personal gain. It is the time to say a much larger “Yes” to Jesus and His Gospel of Life. Lent is the time for Totus Tuus, the time to renew our commitment to love God with all our mind and heart and strength.
The “Catholic but…” syndrome stands in direct contradiction to Jesus’ clear and unequivocal demand (Mk 8:34-36), “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”
The “Catholic but…” syndrome is not without precedent in history. The fact that Jesus Himself directly and frequently opposed such rationalization shows its prevalence 2000 years ago.
Each Lent, the Church urges us to rekindle our love for Jesus and to take a closer look at how completely we are taking up the Cross that fidelity to Him entails. This means we need to examine our consciences, and to insure that they are formed on the solid foundation of the Gospel.
During these 40 days before the Easter Triduum, the Father shines new light upon our souls so we can discover (or rediscover) the essential connection between truth and freedom, and between faith and culture.
To take the time, then, during Lent to form our consciences more fully in accordance with objective truth (known from God’s Revelation and the natural law) not only brings wholeness and integrity to our personal lives; it also makes it possible for us to bring healing and reconciliation to society. Let us take advantage, then, of this Lenten season 2004 to engage seriously in the pursuit of truth and freedom.
On the first day of Lent each year, the Lord says to us through St. Paul (2 Cor 6:2), “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Now is the time to rebut the “Catholic but…” It is the time to say “Yes” when we mean “Yes,” and to say “No” when we mean “No.” Lent is the time to profess our Catholic faith with gratitude and to put every part of it into practice.