Gracefully Obedient

In his contribution to How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors, Luis J. Rodriguez states, "...I am open to learn from all spiritual expressions, religious practices, and cultural/social traditions. They all contain truth and validity in them, even though not one of them is true or valid for everybody."

How does he know that? He doesn't. He's cobbled together a mélange of beliefs which enables him to live his life with the least amount of guilt.

Mr. Rodriguez is a good man and does a lot of very good work with the gangs in L. A., but is that all there is? We all do that, though. We all look at how good we think we look to other people, at work, at church, with our families and believe we are just fine.

We refuse to look at our personal or secret sins, choosing to believe that those affect no one or that they involve consenting adults, so everyone is aware of the ensuing damage, if not prepared.

But let's look at our secret sins. How many reading this use porn? Victimless, right? No one's getting hurt, right? Except the women and men in the videos and photos you're using to escape the work involved in a real human relationship. Aren't they victims? If there wasn't such an overwhelming demand for porn and for porn that involves the ever new, the ever young, and the ever fresh, would so many young girls in our society be lost runaways and drug addicts driven there by fathers who couldn't or wouldn't control their own addictions and sexually abused them until they could get away? And did they get away? No. They're still being abused, but now for a few dollars and a hit or two. These women are surrendering the most precious part of themselves, a part they should be offering as a gift to only one man for the rest of their lives, for a few dollars, so you can get what? What are you and the million others getting from this, really? Not very secret at all, is it? And not really victimless is it?

But you help with the food drive at church, mentor the new guys at work, and you haven't divorced your wife yet, so you're a great guy. No, you're not.

What of the consenting adults? Having that affair with that guy, because your husband doesn't understand you? Or is it you're a pain and your pride is in the way of any kind of reconciliation? That's what the affair is really all about, right? Your pride needs you to be all important and you can pretend that in this affair. Well, he may seem great, and you are, too, of course, but how is this affair affecting you two? Oh! You are both adults and both of you understand what this is all about? Really? So, when he leaves you for any of the younger women he's currently working, your pride won't be hurt then? You won't feel your age and miss your youth and curse your life, your husband, your children for driving you into this slavery to the mundane and the droll? And what of him? Do you think there is nothing wrong with a man who is a perpetual predator? Do you ever wonder what pain drove him to be the wolf and never the shepherd? It doesn't really matter, though, does it?

But you are a room mom and are on the board of the local art museum and head up the Women's Night Out committee at church, so you're a great woman. No, you're not.

How have we gotten into this mess? By approaching faith and religion as nothing more than a bag of good chocolate-covered raisins, we have lost the ability to recognize truth or the good. Rather than moving into closer and more loving relationships with God, we have done lasting and largely unrecognized harm to ourselves. If all religion is going to be for us is something to make us feel good and hearty about ourselves and justify and absolve what we do, then we should stick with the bag of chocolate-covered raisins. The raisins do a better job anyway than trying to keep track of and coalesce all of our disparate beliefs and ideas, while pretending God is our personal cheerleader.

This idea that all beliefs lead to God and that we have the license to make up our own faiths is the stock in trade of the candy man known as non-Catholic Christianity. Despite Mr. Rodriguez's assertion, accepting a multitude of paths or "truths" doesn't work. We only end up holding on to what makes us feel good, while jettisoning what convicts us. Non-Catholic Christianity, however, preaches this very illusion as truth, but more than 15,000 non-Catholic denominations attest to the lie it is. After all, only in non-Catholic Christianity is an individual's hubris to start his own church celebrated by the lost, the confused, the frustrated, and the like-minded. For much of non-Catholic Christianity, in fact, money is the authority and the vagaries of the pop culture are the standard.

Please, understand me. I am not talking about individuals. I am discussing a failed movement within Christianity, a rebellion that has done more harm to individuals than anything else in the world, precisely because it leads to the idea that the individual is god and competent to make the rules. Non-Catholic Christianity did away with obedience, then did away with God.

While too many individual Catholics live non-Catholic lives, the Catholic Church is the only legitimate Way to the eternal Truth giving abundant Life. Yes, again, there are way too many Catholics who live like unrepentant heathens without a conscious, but using that as an excuse to stay where you are is immature and dangerous. The Church is the Body of Christ animated by the Holy Spirit. Only through the sacramental and liturgical life Christ offers us in His Church, can we find the grace we need to live authentically Christian lives. Why? Because in His Church, Christ offers us the opportunity to be obedient to Him directly. Only through obedience to Christ lies our hope to redeem the horrible messes we've made of our lives and for 2,000 years only the Catholic Church has held up a standard that has never changed. In the Church, we can finally be at peace knowing that we are following Christ and His Word. We no longer have to work so hard at keeping up the lies and the appearances. We can finally heal and become the people God has always wanted us to be. No longer slaves to the vagaries and predilections of common men, we freely become children of Love.


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