Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Catholic polemics

From A Word From the Desert:
The man who cries out against evil men, who does not pray for them, will never know the grace of God.

St. Silouan the Athonite +1938
Catholics tend to moralize exhortations like this, as if he's saying God merely wants us to be more charitable ideally or by force of will, like our moms wanting us to eat our vegetables. Then the legalistic approach kicks in: God's justice may punish us for not being more charitable but God knows we're nothing but sinners (in this life) and has waved the magic wand of forgiveness from the Cross because He loves us, so we don't have to sweat charity too much (in this life), especially when "speaking the truth to power" (in this life) demands forceful protest against evildoers (like that "bastard Obama"). Sometimes we have the further gall to presume Purgatory voids out all negative spiritual consequence (in the afterlife) from our lack of charity (in this life) because what's the Great Laundry Room in the Sky for if not to clean up our little sins like not being charitable enough to enemies? Often this is accompanied by giggly joking about how "I'm so going to hell." (Catholic irreverence is more often than not a disguise for cognitive dissonance.) Usually it goes completely unnoticed that this attitude is patently un-Scriptural and un-Patristic and that it's all quite cloyingly blasphemous, not to mention sophomoric. I'm not even going to get into the "two-storey universe" this attitude implies.

But St. Silouan spoke his words quite literally and without any guile. We render ourselves incapable of receiving, knowing, experiencing, becoming, participating in God, if we, like the "godless anti-Christs" we criticize, cry out against evil but never pray in the heart for evildoers. Bearing hatred on the inside for anyone is to commit murder, literally in the Kingdom. Even worse, it is murder of our own very souls because it reinforces our slavery to hatred and its many vicious kinsmen.