Thursday, March 17, 2011

The First Temptation and being pro-RH Bill

I was rereading the book "Jesus of Nazareth" and I got to a post last year which quotes the Pope partially, as he writes about the first temptation of Jesus.

"At the heart of all temptations is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives. Constructing a world by our own lights, without reference to God, building on our own foundations, refusing to acknowledge the reality of anything beyond the political and material, while setting God aside as an illusion - that is the temptation that threatens us in many varied forms. Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil, no - that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place. What is real is what is right there in front of us: power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs."

I will devote the rest of this post to a comment (insightful as usual) by TE. It seems a fitting follow-up to the previous post. Pro-RH bill Catholycs would do well to read it.

The Pope's absolutely right. That's exactly what's happening. It's time we all open our eyes and see what really is at stake here.

The pro-condom crowd is trying to sell their side by painting it all in rosy optimistic colors. They have tons of statistics and are brazen enough to promise great benefits including families becoming financially better off. But what are they really selling? Uncertainty. All the rosy promises are just that - possibilities. They cannot really prove that all of their rosy predictions will come to pass. They are asking people to take a gamble. Of course they won't say it that way - they'll call it taking an intelligent stand based on irrefutable medical statistics.

As the Pope said, "it pretends to show us a better way,..."

The contras try hard to disprove the pro's arguments and refute their statistics by presenting their own set of counter statistics. Those passionate enough will paint a tough pessimistic picture to counter the rosy ones. They have fallen into the same trap as the pros - they are arguing for another set of uncertainties and are asking people to bet on another horse.

The contras have to open their eyes. The Church has already ruled on these issues so why engage in debate over it? To a Catholic the issue is closed. The Church's stand is clear and you might even say it's become part of the repository of truth. The Church's position is guided by the Holy Spirit. There is no uncertainty in this. The Holy Spirit is not an ambigious thing susceptible to statistical measures. The Holy Spirit is sure and its guidance is truth.

As Catholics, why should we opt for betting on uncertainties when we are already gifted with something certain? Why exchange something sure for something that isn't?

From a certain perspective Monsod's article is perhaps even more dangerous. It reads logical, balanced and fair. But it also re-opens the issue. This we have to guard against. If you take it seriously you would find yourself weighing the pros and cons of the issue. When that happens you would have opened again what the Church had closed. And that position raises a bunch of uncomfortable secondary questions like "Would I still be a good Catholic if I don't readily accept the Church's position and engage in debate over this?" Let us not be faithless - not just in the sense of not being true to our commitment to Christ but also in the sense of being lacking in faith.

As the Pope said, "the act of pushing God aside...we perceive Him as secondary."

The battlefield is not condoms and contraceptives. It's the Truth we hold, our values and beliefs. That is what is at stake. The real issue is not what the debaters are spouting about. They would have you bark up the wrong tree while secretly attacking what you truly hold dear. Let's not be deceived.

It's not about the optimists half-full glass nor the pessimist's half-empty one. The glass is actually full, it's just of a different size. Don't empty it by trading a sure thing for uncertain ones.
To add to that, an excerpt from Humanae Vitae:

No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law. It is in fact indisputable, as Our predecessors have many times declared, (l) that Jesus Christ, when He communicated His divine power to Peter and the other Apostles and sent them to teach all nations His commandments, (2) constituted them as the authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel but also of the natural law. For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men's eternal salvation.


Anonymous said...

Set aside the Church's teaching for a second and just consider the issue from the point of view of intellectual honesty. How can people flagrantly oppose the Church and still consider him/herself a catholic? The reality is that one cannot call oneself a Catholic when one cannot accept what the Catholic Church teaches. Either you're catholic or you're not. The term "Non-practicing Catholic" is meaningless. It's akin to calling someone who eats meat as a "non-practicing vegetarian".

The moment that we stopped believing and following the Church we professed to belong to is the moment we dissociated ourselves from that very church. By opposing it we betray it. As Christ said: "He who is not with me is against me." But as people we have a propensity to deceive ourselves. We justify our betrayals of the Church by disguising them as humanitarian causes, ennobling them with lofty ideas by branding them as life-saving and empowering to the poor. Never mind that it can't really be proven. We deceive ourselves into thinking that our justifications have made our betrayal more noble and must therefore be the better way. Yet no matter how much they are white-washed, no matter how many statistic-supported, powerpointed, scientifically surveyed, medically proven, internationally accepted arguments are posited - it does not change the truth. It is still a betrayal. This is exactly what the Pope was explaining. By pretending to show a better way, temptation entices us and its deception is complete when we fall for it. We do not see the betrayal anymore and we feel good and heroic as we begin to see ourselves as champions for the poor.

But it doesn't stop there. Now that the opposing stand has been declared, it is now required to defend it. And vehemently defended it is. You would swear by the statistics and quote "authorities" on the subject. But stop for a moment and consider Matthew 5:36-38 "And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." We need to wake up, kapatid. Let's call a spade a spade. Let's set aside the rationalizations and see what has occurred for what it is - a betrayal.

I've been watching March Madness on ESPN. During breaks and timeouts, they flash quotes from the coaches on screen and one that particularly caught my eye was this:

"when someone doesn't give you 100% of what he can give, he's telling you what he thinks of you and he's also telling you what he thinks of himself."

If you support the RH Bill and still consider yourself a Catholic, think about what that coach said. By opposing the Church you are obviously not giving it your 100%. What does that say about you? Forget dogma. Forget the encyclicals. What does it say about your character? Be intellectually honest.

WillyJ said...

Nowadays it seems to be chic and cool to dissent with the Church and while invoking conscience.
While doing so, there is an implicit claim that one's intellect and logic far surpasses an institution which has been thinking out loud and discerning for 2000++ years.

All this time the Church is wrong, and "conscience" is invoked as a trump-all card even though the "conscientious position" has nothing to lean on. Nothing. Absolutely nothing but individualistic perceptions. I recently attended an RH-bill forum (in a Catholic university!) where prior to the forum, there was a mock survey of all the attendees(college students): who are pro-RH bill, who are Anti. The result: 116 Pro, 16 Anti, and 35 undecided. Asked for a show of hands in mid-forum who among the audience have read the bill in its entirety, only 2 hands rose up. Among that two, the other one happened to be me. Yes, the 116 who were pro-RH bill made a "conscientious decision" to support the bill even though they have not read the bill at all. Of course, their "cool" professors had a lot to do with it. And that experience prety much sums up how I understand what you mean by "intellectual dishonesty".

This is what Archbishop Chaput has to say:

"If you’re Catholic and you disagree with your Church. What do you do? You change your mind.”

WillyJ said...

"non-practicing vegetarian" :-)