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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Catholic Calvinism and Suffering

I am in a strange position and must suspend the blog, hopefully, temporarily. Those readers who already have my email may email me, of course. I must work on my present physical situation full-time.

All I can say is that this suspension has nothing to do with anything connected to the blog and everything to do with my being here. Pray for me.

One of the greatest evils which has crept into middle-class Catholicism is the Calvinist idea that the chosen, saved people of God have physical blessings on earth.

For years I have spoken and written about the "middle-class church" which cannot see the value of suffering and which blames those who suffer loss of material status for crimes or horrible sins.

When one suffers in the States, the typical thought which enters the minds and hearts of many Catholics is that the person must have sinned grievously against God to merit such a life. If one is a financial failure, one is to be blamed entirely for some sort of egregious sin.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, states St. Paul.

So, there is an idea that those who consistently suffer must be shunned, not allowed into one's sphere, set aside.

Ironically, many of the saints who lived in past centuries would have been shunned by pious middle-class Catholics.

Such attitudes, like, such and such a saint must have done something wrong to be treated by his or her community as a pariah, is an idea more common that not.

SS. Padre Pio and John of the Cross both were punished by their own communities simply because they were graced by God in extraordinary ways. St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese, the Little Flower experienced criticism within their own order. St. Benedict Labre died as a beggar. Blessed Margaret of Castello was abandoned by her own parents.

The list is long. And yet, the idea which expresses itself like this, "Well, if you had not done something wrong, you would not be in this state" resounds loudly among laity and religious alike.

The days when religious houses accept the poor are long gone. The hospitality of religious houses now has a price tag. The orders, in some cases, have lost their original charism.

We have all sinned. There is no one who can claim that they are blessed physically, materially by God because they have been "good".

Material blessings have nothing to do with merit or holiness, but merely God's goodness and Providence.

In His Wisdom, He plans that some people are poor, even destitute.

When Catholics in America were poor, they were better Catholics, as they did not confuse the American Dream with the life of saintliness.

Socialism has deadened the moral conscience of a large segment of Catholic society. The other evil is gross individualism, which undermines attempts to build community.

To be mistrusted simply because one is poor is a great suffering. But, with it comes joy, as Christ Himself was mistrusted by His own people and He is totally Innocent. One joins in the suffering of Christ in a real and intimate way.

What can a follower expect if one really follows Christ but misunderstanding, marginalization, false judgement? And, if one loves Christ, one desires to be like Him is all things. To those whom He allows to experience His Own Life, spiritual blessings follow in abundance.

Matthew 8:20

20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Did you ever wonder why Christ said this? Because He had no place. His own extended family and others must have refused to allow Him to stay in houses in places where He was preaching and teaching. Our Lord was not exaggerating or making up poetry. He was describing His life.

Recently, I was turned away from a Franciscan place simply because those inside were concerned that I would never leave. They made no effort to help me in my situation or discover alternatives which I did not know in the area.

I cannot imagine St. Francis doing this to anyone who came to him for real aid to get on one's feet again. What will happen when thousands, if not millions have lost status and jobs, because they are Catholic and uphold Catholic teaching? What of those priests who will refuse to do ssm? They may lose their positions in some dioceses. Do not kid yourselves on this point, as not all bishops would support priests who are orthodox on this teaching.

Will they be turned out onto the streets because they will be perceived as having "done something wrong"?  The spirit of the remnant Catholics in England and their courage have disappeared into history, I am afraid. 

To follow Christ is a larger call than the seeking comfort or approval. But, it would be nice to be in a community of love and hope. 

One last quotation from Garrigou-Lagrange: In the passive purifications, the soul is frequently tempted against hope, and when all created aids fail, must hope against hope, or beyond all human hope, because of the one formal motive, the help of God. “When I am weakest then am I strong.” But God helps us most efficaciously when He confers upon us, not only the grace which urges and stimulates, but grace which is efficacious in itself. Thus does the soul attain to holy abandonment in the hands of God.  from Grace

Pax vobiscum.