Wednesday, 25 June 2014
The Party Spirit
The "party spirit" has nothing to do with balloons or cake.
St. Paul tells us that the party spirit is a spirit, or demon,
St. Paul wraps up this discussion so poignantly: “I hear that there are divisions among you ; and I partly believe it,
Few Catholics understand what the “party spirit” is
and how it comes about. Factions have been within
the Church since day one.
St. Paul refers to such in
1 Corinthians 1:10-17, in Roman 12: 9-21 and
Romans 14: 1-12.
of division. Divisiveness is never from God within the
Church. Divisiveness is not the same as criticism,
which should include positive solutions to problems.
For example, one may criticize a catechetical program
in a church, but not offer to find alternatives which
may be better or teach. Those who judge and criticize merely
to stir up trouble build the doorway for the party spirit.
Divisiveness usually means three things. Firstly,
that a lack of charity and forbearance has crept
into a parish or a group. This lack of charity comes
from concentrating on people’s sins and failings,
rather than encouraging their good points.
Secondly, egotism creates division.
Egotism is loud, must be heard and seen and in everybody's face.
Egotism is not humble, and defends itself constantly.
Egotism judges others.
Thirdly, the seeking for power creates a party spirit. To the extreme, this seeking of power creates entirely
new churches, such as the four churches found in the 1960s on one corner in my home town, all split-offs
from the other. Division caused confusion, anger, even hatred.
In 2 Timothy 3:1-5,
St. Paul tells us where the party spirit comes from. "But understand this, that in the last days,
there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient
to their parents, ungrateful, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce haters of good, treacherous,
reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of god, holding the form of religion but
denying the power of it. Avoid such people.".
Avoid such people. Run away from them.
The last phrase must include the discernment to know when to avoid and when to correct.
Avoiding means not being friends with those who are untrustworthy of the Gospel of the Lord.
Avoiding means that if one does not avoid slanderers or the abusive or the arrogant, on becomes
like them and loses the gifts of discernment, temperance, and prudence.
We do not have to win every battle and even fight every battle in the Church. Some battles require
great holiness and purity of heart. Some require patience and intense prayer and fasting.
How does one avoid strife in groups?
St. Paul has the answer, “Put on then, God’s chosen ones,
holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another, and
if one has a complaint against another, forgiving one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also
must forgive. And above all of these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
One must find peace within one’s self in order to spread peace and only those who have found peace,
through meekness to God can truly stay away from unnecessary conflicts.
of Paul’s inspirations, comes about
when people engage and encourage,
wrath, anger, bitterness, clamor, and
slander. See Ephesians 4: 25-32 on
If one reads all the epistles, one finds the
theme of communal harmony is almost in
each one. If
St. Paul had to address
divisiveness over and over, one can see
that it can be a persistent problem.
I cannot refer to all the passages on this theme, but list a few ways to avoid divisiveness in the Church,
in our parishes, in our communities, in our families, and so on.
One, look to one’s own sins in humility and truth. If one sees the horribleness of one’s own weaknesses
and failings, one cannot judge nor cause dissension by pointing to another’s faults.
Two, think on Christ and not on one’s self. If one is truly in love with Christ, the Bridegroom, one
supernaturally wants to love His brothers and sisters and find creative ways to show this love.
Three, forgiveness covers a multitude of sins and failings. To forgive is to forget, which some priests
do not teach. I would hope people in my life forgive and forget instead of constantly saying a litany
of my faults to me. This concentration on negativity rises from unforgiveness and even hatred.
The negative litany destroys community.
Four, egotism must go. The rule of the saints and the great teachers on purity of heart, mind and soul
tell us that the ego stands between us and God, between us and His Perfect Will in our lives, between us and the
community, between us and eternity. If the ego is not destroyed, we shall not see God after our particular
judgment as we have chosen our self-will over Him.
Lastly, egotism and narcissism constantly fall back on talking about one’s self and one’s grievances.
As we say here in the States, “Get over it, he (or she) is not that into you.” I have discovered that really
most people are truly not interested in me, but only in themselves. This should be a freeing experience
of grace, enabling one to concentrate on God and not one’s self.
for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”
The genuine are not those who cause the factions, but the Truth of the Gospel itself causes factions-however,
we can teach, preach, instruct, but never judge. “For if we judge ourselves truly, we should not be judged.
But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened, so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
The genuine are those who allow God to purify them and those who cling to the orthodoxy of the Church in all
Let us allow God to chasten us first before we have the audacity to chasten others.