Aren’t we hearing a lot of voices, secular and from other believers? I am, and many of these voices are angry or fearful or despondent. I have to remind myself that the Church and many Christians have been in more peril than we are today. And I remind myself to consider these things:
1. No political party or ideological camp is “home” for a Christian. We are Christ’s before any other affiliation.
2. The Gospel should be challenging and humbling. If it isn’t, we have to read it more carefully. If Jesus’s words challenged and humbled Peter and Paul, why shouldn’t they challenge and humble us?
3. Will a ship come for me? J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbit hero, Frodo Baggins, was admired by all for casting down the Enemy, but Frodo knew that for all his sacrifice he could never have achieved his mission without the unintended assistance of Gollum. He found no peace in the aftermath of his “victory”, but because of his humility and cooperation with grace, imperfect as it was, a ship came to carry him to a land of peace and bliss. So too do we hope, imperfect as we are.
4. Why are so many Christians living in as much fear as unbelievers? Aren’t we supposed to be different? Thus, I challenge myself.
5. Popes deserve our allegiance, whether we like them or not. Peter tried to talk Jesus out of the Cross and denied him, but the risen Christ didn’t ditch Peter.
6. Even so, we aren’t obliged to agree with everything a pope says, but he’s still Peter and deserving of our respect and Christian love.
7. Slogans such as “Science is Real” and accusations of science-denying shouldn’t faze Christians because we are seeking truth, wherever it leads, because truth is of God. Galileo’s views on the solar system, Pasteur’s theories about microorganisms and human illness, Boltzmann’s and Planck’s theories about entropy, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, Lemaitre’s Big Bang Theory were out of the mainstream in their times, so we should be cautious of people who are shouting down or “canceling” contrary ideas about current topics of scientific interest and concern.
8. It has never been easy to be a disciple. Often, harder than it is now: Maximilian Kolbe in a starvation bunker, Edith Stein in an extermination camp, Walter Ciszek twenty-three years in a Soviet prison, Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan thirteen years in a Vietnamese prison, Cardinal Kung many years in a Chinese prison, holy men and women religious beaten down by their superiors. And by all accounts, these women and men were more grateful and joyful than the rest of us.
9. Images that help me; a spiritual desert where we can go like the monastics for respite from TV, the internet, and social media. And our little tattered net that Our Lord wants us to cast with into the water with storms all about us—“But at your word, I will lower my net.”
10. What Jesus himself says about how we should deal with our enemies—today’s enemies, yours and mine—is so radical that we want to ignore it or water it down. I often wish I could. But we can’t because he said it and lived it to the end.
11. The greatest of us and the least bring nothing with us when we die—power, wealth, pleasure, honor—except what is of God. When we are tempted to think we know better than God, consider the billion-galaxy universe that He created out of pure love—an unimaginable gift, and then a sacrifice we cannot come close to imagining. If that doesn’t humble us, nothing will.
12. From a purely human perspective, all times are crazy times. Only with a perspective like Solanus Casey can we say, “Blessed be God in all his designs.”
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We read: “7. Slogans such as ‘Science is Real’ and accusations of science-denying shouldn’t faze Christians because we are seeking truth, wherever it leads, because truth is of God. Galileo’s views […], Pasteur’s theories […], Boltzmann’s and Planck’s theories […], Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, Lemaitre’s Big Bang Theory [….].”
Details matter, but in our actually-longstanding cancel-culture, who among the brainwashed are curious any more about history—as if “History is Real”, too? Even the history of science might surprise our bored generation(s):
GALILEO with a telescope witnessed to the external universe with its billions of stars, while Christians today with the sonogram are persecuted for witnessing to the universes within—unborn children, each with a genome of billions of DNA;
PASTEUR (who once was asked on a train why he [a famous scientist!] was saying the rosary), said ““The more I contemplate the mysteries of Nature, the more my faith becomes that of a Breton peasant. Perhaps, when I learn more, I shall have the faith of a Breton peasant’s wife”;
PLANCK was a Lutheran, although it was the Lutheran Kepler who was excommunicated from his church (for holding that planets followed elliptical orbits), rather than his contemporary, the Catholic Galileo (who held that that the planets had orbits); and,
it was the Jesuit LEMAITRE who corrected Einstein’s math to discover the Big Bang (versus Einstein’s steady-state universe), two years before Hubble who got the credit—-until the new theory of an expanding universe was renamed as the Hubble-Lemaitre Law, only two years ago by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Call me uncompromising, inflexible, lacking appreciation of nuanced statement if you wish. All good counsel. Except, “5. Popes deserve our allegiance, whether we like them or not. Peter tried to talk Jesus out of the Cross and denied him, but the risen Christ didn’t ditch Peter”, which needs clarification. Allegiance and respect are different in kind. Allegiance means fidelity, obedience, adherence. We are first and foremost essentially obedient to Christ. We adhere only to what Christ has revealed, and taught, and conveyed by Apostolic Tradition. We cannot and must never adhere to the proposition promoted by this Pontiff that communion may be given to manifest adulterers, active homosexuals placing mercy above justice and the requirement for repentance. “Even so, we aren’t obliged to agree with everything a pope says, but he’s still Peter and deserving of our respect and Christian love”. This follow-up although likely well intended requires clarification because it leaves the impression, again unintended that we can pick and choose between Apostolic Tradition and the Pontiff’s New Paradigm. When Tolkien’s Frodo approached Mordor and all seemed dismal he lay looking up to the clouded heavens and the radiant light of a star appeared piercing the gloom. Tolkien leaned heavily on the permanence of truth.
Thank you, Father Morello, for the clarification. It is timely and helps me immensely. I often look forward to your responses on any given subject.
I thank Fr. Morello for clarifying what is “owed” to the Pontiff.
In amplification, Christ is the head of the Church, and the Pontiff is His Steward, thus our allegiance is and always remains to Jesus Christ. In the happy event that the Pontiff is faithful and true, our allegiance to Christ is shared, and the voice of The Good Shepherd is heard when the Pontiff speaks.
In the unhappy event of the Pontiff straying from The Truth, most abominably in the idolatry in Rome in October 2019, and in refusing to confirm us in The Faith, we remain in allegiance to the Jesus the head of The Church, despite any such wayward Pontiff confecting what John Henry Newman called “the suspension of the Magisterium.”
The problem we now have a “bad” Pope.
Thank you Professor Doran, great article – I really needed to read it and remind myself of the City of God. On #7: God created a wonderful universe and science is a great tool for investigating patterns in nature; Patterns which the likes of Spinoza and Einstein beleived pointed to back to God himself. But I think the big mistake today, however, is the belief that Science is something more than a tool, like the creation of a non-anthromorphic idol representing secular reason and truth. I think the great scientist, mathematician and earnest Catholic thinker Blaise Pascal said it best, “We make an idol of truth, but truth without charity is not God.”
The sticking point is belief in a God who ONLY pervades all of nature (monism), versus a God who ALSO is both personal and yet infinitely transcends all of gratuitous “creation.” Spinoza was a monist. Einstein says many things, but also these:
MONISM? “The main source of the present-day conflicts between the sphere of religion and of science lies in the concept of a personal God . . . In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up on the doctrine of a personal God…” (“Science and Religion” , in Out of My Later Years [New Philosophical Library, 1950], 27-8).
SCIENCE AND RELIGION: “This is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs [religion is not to overreach]. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors” (ibid., 25-26).
AND…In a note written a year before his death, Einstein reportedly dismissed religions as “childish superstitions,” BUT then a few days before his death he confided again to his fellow scientist Francesco Seferi, “He who does not admit the unfathomable mystery cannot even be a scientist” (cited in Don Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense [Ignatius Press, 1970], 68).
Dr. Beaulieu thank you for your comment. As an architect and civil engineer whether it is determining torque on an elevator during a seismic event or figuring out the best cut and fill techniques for the design of an ADA accessible path in a park, I use science and math everyday. But I have to beleive that science is ultimately a very good tool of applied reason and documentation patterns based on experiential observations of natural conditions and nothing more. And while I would agree that the sad error of both Spinoza and Einstein was their inability to beleive in a personal God I also have to beleive that contextually it was their Jewish upbringing and background that blinded them to the truth about Jesus Christ, (Much like Paul when he was Saul). Interestingly enough, recent documents on Spinoza reveal his moving towards Quakerism, (Dr. Dominic Erdozain, Emory Universtiy). What if Spinoza had another 10 years to live, I wonder if at 55 the scales could have droped form is eyes and as a Quaker his work could have been able to bridge Modern philosophy and Christianity – His “Short Treatise” was so close.