Tuesday, May 12, 2015

We should be ready

Don’t bother reading me today; go and read what Jennifer Hartline wrote.  Here’s an example of it:
What you, the culture, fail to understand is that I am not motivated to please you or appease you. I will not be bullied into submission. I will not “adapt” my beliefs to suit you. It doesn’t matter that you have decided there is no sin in abortion, same-sex “marriage”, sex-on-demand, and the treatment of babies as commodities—I disagree because I know that God has said otherwise.
What you cannot accept is that I will not cease to worship the true God in favor of your gods. I will not abandon the Truth in favor of your empty, self-serving doctrines. It doesn’t matter how many names you call me, or how many insults you hurl in my direction, or how you may wish to ostracize and push me to the outer edges of society. It will not change anything.
Abortion will always be a grave evil and utterly unjust, no matter what the Supreme Court says. Marriage will always be the union of a man and woman, for life, for the benefit of their children, no matter what the Supreme Court or any government says.
Sex will always be designed to be life-giving and unitive, no matter how much you trivialize it or how much contraception you demand.
There will always be fundamental, inherent, and complementary differences between men and women. There will always be only two possible genders of the human person: male and female.
You see, you didn’t create the human person. You didn’t create marriage. You aren’t the author and giver of new life. You didn’t establish the human family.
You don’t have the power or authority to change what God has ordained from the foundation of the world.
Read the rest here.

Over at Rod Dreher’s blog this week, discussions and conversations about what Rod calls the “Benedict Option” are taking place (here’s one example).  Because our culture is becoming so hostile to ordinary expressions of Christianity, something like the Benedict Option is needed.  On a different Benedict Option post Rod wrote last week (which has now fallen off the main page and thus will get few new comments) I wrote something about what I think the Benedict Option means.  I don’t usually quote myself, but this was long, and I don’t really have time to re-do it for the blog, so your patience is appreciated:
So, what is the Benedict Option?
If I had to turn it into a motto or two, I’d probably start with: In faith, peace; in unity, strength. (Somebody could put those in Latin if they wanted.)
The idea is to see in one’s faith life and faith community the source of that peace of soul that gives you the ability to interact in a very different and hostile world without forgetting the Master or His way. For us Eucharistic Christians the source of that peace is, of course, the Eucharist, the taking and consuming of Christ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as often as is spiritually possible and the ceaseless attempt to reform our souls, shed and confess our sins, and conform our wills to the Divine Will. Not only the liturgical worship (which is paramount) but the practice of prayers and devotions on the one hand and tangible acts of charity on the other are key to this peace of soul.
The second part of the motto points out that even outside of our own parishes or churches or mosques or synagogues we are traveling among people who share many of our same ancient beliefs in the sacred dignity of the human person, of what used to be called the “eternal verities,” and of the nature of reality and the purpose of life. These other faith groups may join us in defending unborn human life and/or those at-risk of involuntary euthanasia (which often means opposing the voluntary kind as well on principle); they may join us in insisting that marriage is a union of a man and a woman and that the integral importance of the natural family should not be undermined by governments or societies; they may join us in opposing the onslaughts against human dignity that arise from the indignities of the global economy; they may join us in opposing the intrinsic evils of torture or unjust warfare or the non-intrinsic but circumstantial evil of the death penalty in societies where it is no longer even remotely necessary to condemn prisoners to die in order to preserve the common good–and so on. The important thing is that when they do join us, they do so to fight a common set of enemies, which in old Catholic tradition were spoken of as the world, the flesh, and the devil, all of which frequently collaborate to draw the soul into sin and deaden the conscience against evil.
To me, what makes this a “Benedict Option” is that the primacy of the faith calls for a renewal of the individual soul, of the family, and of many of our voluntary associations and occupations. We Christians, in particular, have enjoyed a relatively long (if frequently uneasy) peace with the world, allowing us to do pretty much what everybody else does, in terms of jobs and entertainment and social lives. What I think Rod keeps saying here is that this is the age that is ending, and it is ending before our eyes. To use an obvious example, it was possible for serious pro-life Christians to continue to work at most jobs, join most organizations, talk about the same TV shows at the water cooler at work, etc.–but already it is not really possible for serious pro-family Christians to do the same, and the growing intention to force every person in America to affirm the goodness and wonderfulness of SSM, surrogacy, transgenderism, etc. is already taking a toll by forcing people out of certain jobs and organizations.
Strengthened by our individual faiths and then united by our shared values, Benedict Option people can help each other to resist the Empire’s attempt to force us to pour out libations to these strange new gods–and not in some vague, psychological way, but in tangible ways (such as making sure the owners of a little pizza shop didn’t face homelessness or starvation after being made the new targets of the present set of Two Minute Hates ordered by our elites). We can, and should, keep doing these things, and should position ourselves to be able to do them for the next several generations. At that point, the attempt of modernity to reorder the very notion of human flourishing in its own image will likely have collapsed under the weight of reality, and our descendants will be ready, and strong enough, to begin the work of rebuilding.
When I read Jennifer Hartline’s blog post I thought about what I’d written above, because I still think that in order for us Christians to survive the coming era with our faith intact and our families strong we’re going to have to do those two things: one, strengthen our faith lives ideally around some local faith community, especially a good parish, monastery or convent, or similar place where orthodox Catholicism thrives, and two, go out into the world alongside those who share our values even if they don’t share our faith, and work together against the corruption and darkness of the present age.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a Catholic today, and one thing I keep coming back to is this:  In order to LIVE the Gospel, we must SPREAD the Gospel, but in order to SPREAD the Gospel, we must LIVE the Gospel.  Hardly profound or original, but it’s the tension between actively living the Gospel and trying to spread it in an age when Christians are being punished for refusing to celebrate sexual immorality in all its forms that is starting to make itself felt.  We have, relatively speaking, had an age of peace, when the culture, though not ever fully with us, was not teeming with active hostility against us.  That age is over.  To be a “good American” one will very soon have to be a false Christian, as no true Christian can accept sexual immorality (including contraception, abortion, gay “marriage,” the commodification of children, and the promotion to young people of every form of sexual license) as something that is good.

So we, and our children, and their children, will be bad Americans, because we will not betray our Lord.  And the ramifications of living as second-class citizens whose every word and action is suspect will soon be our lives.  We should be getting ready.


Deirdre Mundy said...

I think one key is Dreher's comment that the Benedict option isn't running away, it's running TO.

We all know those crazy homeschoolers who've become preppers, are withdrawing from the world, and who've decided to live as Amish.

But that's not what monks DO. They draw strength from their community, but then they go out and change the towns around the monastery. Traditionally, they educate, they heal, they evangelize... they just also have a really strong 'base camp.'

So, Dreher's Benedict option isn't 'Let's all move to a swamp and start "CatholicTownLLC!" as much as 'Let's draw strength from our relationships with other Catholics and likeminded people so that we can go out and be missionaries."

The latest Pew Survey on religion makes it clear. We're living in missionary territory. So...we're called to go out and make all nations disciples, starting with the people who live around us. And thus, we also need a community of fellow missionaries so we'll be up to the task.

Also--I think you're a little off in acting like the "Catholics are second rate citizens and distrusted" is a NEW thing for America. Rather, it's a reversion to the norm, and the last 20 or 30 years have been the anomaly.

The danger is that we'll respond to this rejection by forming enclaves and putting up walls, instead of by recapturing the spirit of the Early Church and becoming missionaries.

OTOH--- The fact that we're all being called to evangelize all the time and that our neighbors are in such desperate strengths seems to be a HUGE argument in favor of earlier confirmation.

If our kids are going to have to be missionaries, why are we witholding the tools they'll need?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Jennifer is the antidote to the blue funk Rod Dreher is falling into. I don't agree with the substance of everything she says, but the fact that she is standing up for what she believes to be true, rather than bowing (in adoration, or in fear and trembling) to the new consensus of the chattering classes, is all to the good.

It is possible that the Truth of the True God differs in some detail from what Jennifer believes it to be. But that is precisely why our civic institutions are restrained from suppressing her inquiry and devotion. It is also possible that some of what the chattering classes currently deny is True.