Wednesday, March 14, 2012

We're Huge, Ancient, and Changing the World

I really do not want America to get back to the 'good old days,' when 'regular Americans' enforced their 'good old-fashioned values.' My memory's pretty good, and I remember a more WASPish America.

There's more to American culture than these cartoons, but this was - and is - how some folks see the Catholic Church:

(From Thomas Nast Portfolio, Ohio State University, used without permission.)
" 'The American River Ganges,' Harper’s Weekly, September 30, 1871, p.916"

(from H.E. Fowler, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)
"Crowley, Jeremiah J. (1913) 'The Pope: Chief of White Slavers High Priest of Intrigue,' p. 430"

(Chick Publications, via, used w/o permission)
From "The Death Cookie," Chick Publications (1988)

Sincere belief that the Catholic Church is just simply dreadful isn't a uniquely American phenomenon. It's also based on assumptions that aren't a particularly good match with reality.

I've repeated this quote before:
"There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church - which is, of course, quite a different thing."
(Bishop Fulton Sheen, Foreword to Radio Replies Vol. 1, page ix (1938), via Wikiquote)

'The Good Old Days,' Or Building a Better World

In a way, I can see why some folks are so upset about the Catholic Church.

It's huge. I'm one of more than 1,000,000,000 Catholics living today.

It's global. We are, quite literally, "all over the world."

It's ancient. The Catholic Church has been here for two millennia, and draws on a tradition that goes back many thousands of years.

And we have a mandate to change the world. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1928-1942, 2419-2442) We're called to correct the "scandal of glaring inequalities;" to respect the "transcendent dignity of man," and to respect the human person. (Catechism, 1929-1933)

Even if we're only slightly successful, we'll upset a lot of applecarts.

Folks who benefit from the status quo, who are on the high end of those inequalities, have reason to fear and resent the Catholic Church. Not good reasons - and that's almost another topic.

Practical Love

It might be easier to believe that all we need to do is sit back and think lovely thoughts. 'Spiritual' as that may sound, it's not what my Lord said.

I don't think it hurts to repeat this. The Catholic Church notes that, when someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, my Lord said it was to 'love God, love your neighbor. (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31)

One more thing: everybody is our neighbor. (Matthew 5:43-44, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-30; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1825)

Under the circumstances, I don't see how someone who claims to take Jesus seriously can see one neighbor mistreating another neighbor - and not try to help sort out the problem. That sort of indifference doesn't seem very 'loving.'

Taking Jesus Seriously

Changing the world is a pretty big job. One that's obviously going to take quite a long time. But we're not alone:
"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore,12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' "
(Matthew 28:19-20)
I think one reason that the eleven were so highly motivated was that Jesus gave that assurance after he'd been killed. I posted about that last Sunday:
One more thing. I became a Catholic, after learning who held the authority that my Lord gave to Peter. (Matthew 16:13-19) And that's another topic.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.