Catholic Social Teaching Tuesday– A Continuing Discussion

This is the latest installment in the Catholic Social Teaching Series. Every Tuesday, Charles McCarthy and I discuss topics in Catholic Social Teaching. Charles posts on the first and third Tuesdays; I post on the second and fourth. We hope the discussion is entertaining and enlightening.

In his last post, Charles discussed how faith liberates reason. Without quibbling about the implied opposition between faith and reason, there are two assumptions that I’d like to point out and explore further. First, if God as a plan for society, we have a duty to effectuate that plan. Do we not? But the vision of that final, just society provided by Scripture is primarily eschatological.

Second, how do we “purify” reason? Two things cloud reason. The first is God Himself. Because we are finite creatures, we do not see the fullness of God’s glory. God even declined to show Moses the fullness of His glory. As our hearts grow in love for Him, he reveals more and more of Himself to us. . . and as we see more, we love Him more, and we see more still. The second is sin. Sin clouds reason by cutting us off from Him and decreasing our capacity to see Him. . . and as we see less, we love Him less, and we see less still. How is it that we see more? Sanctifying grace through the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation. This suggests that the root of the matter is personal piety.

So while I agree with what Charles wrote, I ground the Church’s authority to articulate the moral principles in question on what appears to me to be the obvious proposition that God has a plan and we are to work that out. At the root of that plan is His desire to bring all people to eternal bliss with Him. Who other than the Church could better articulate those principles?

The principle that unlocks it all is “human dignity.” What exactly is that? We all know the proposition that people have dignity because they are created in the likeness of God. However, I don’t that helpful as a means of makng practical decisions. It seems that almost every practical choice costs human dignity and potentially helps. Until we grasp that principle, we can’t make much progress at all.


Why The Catholic Ending Of “Lost” Was Perfect

Well, maybe, not perfect. It was, however, a logical culmination of the underlying Catholic-ism of “Lost.”

Throughout the show, it became clearer and clearer that each of the main characters was seeking redemption. For Catholics, redemption implies and Redeemer. Being a popular TV show, Lost couldn’t be explicit. What it could do, though, is show that redemption arises from self-giving; the emptying of oneself for the good of another. Catholics know this as love.

All of the characters began as laws unto themselves. Highly selfish. Kate. Sawyer. Jack. Eko. Their self-centeredness brought them to Australia and then to the Island. At the beginning, Jack told Kate that the Island was a place for redemption. The problem is that none of the characters could figure out how to redeem themselves.

Eko is the best example. He felt his need for redemption sensibly. Being haunted by memories of his brother, Fr. Yemi, he tries everything that he can think of to atone. He finds pushing the button as a form of attenuated self-giving — until Locke destroys it. But Eko failed because he never believed he needed to be redeemed — that was the point of his non-confession.

Kate, the murderess, became a mother and the one obsessed with rescuing everyone. Jack, the coldly competent surgeon desperate for approval, was mortally wounded fighting the Man in Black. He then went back and saved the Island at the cost of his own life. Hurley gave his life a guardian. Ben gave his life as second in command when he wanted to rule. Rose and Bernard and Sun and Jin gave themselves to each other.

Why the ending was perfect or at least logical? The people in the Church (the politically correct stained glass was annoying) all learned to give themselves to others while remaining themselves. Why wasn’t Eko or Ana Lucia there? Eko wasn’t there because he rejected the need to give himself in his non-Confession. Ana Lucia never changed (although she started to) as we saw when she took the bribe. In the end, I think it fits quite nicely.


Getting Up To Speed With St. John, Chapter 9 (Updated)

Chapter 9 relates the episode of the man born blind.  It is shocking to our sensibilities but, then again, Christ has shocked our sensibilities over and over in this Gospel. So what’s the teaching? Here are some resources:

One area that it might be fruitful to explore is how this chapter challenges us to look at our response to people who are disabled, either physically or mentally.  Relatedly, verse 3 also challenges our response to God.  Do we love God as He is or do we love Him conditionally so long as He acts in accordance with what we believe to be good? When we face suffering do we give up God’s goodness or do we give up unconditional love?

Another thing I observed is that St. John devotes a great deal of space to describing this episode and he does so in quite some detail.  Why do you think that is?

Anything else strike you about John, Chapter 9?  Comments are open.


He’s waiting for you…Why you should go to Mass

You are 60 seconds away from being on fire for Mass….what you see is not what you get.  Are you ready?

(c) Exploding Filmworks 2007

Calling for Posts/Topics

I wanted to make sure everyone knew that if there’s a topic of interest that I should keep on the lookout for or if someone wants to guest blog, just let me know. Anything orthodox that might be of interest to Catholic guys or families is fair game. Just leave your ideas in the comments.

When The Holy Spirit Came To Sugarloaf Mountain

Sermon on the Mount – 2010

Among the leaves, among the rocks, among the gnats, something special happened. 17 guys hiked up a steep, rocky hill, and participated in a miracle. Christ really and truly came to them. Spontaneously singing “One Bread, One Body,” they did become one body with one spirit in Christ. This was the Sermon on the Mount 2010.

The St. Francis Men of Emmaus (a.k.a. the Church Guys) joined our brothers from St. Martin’s this morning for a beautiful morning Mass at the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. The sky was overcast. The clouds threatened rain. The trek was steep. The stairs uneven. It was worth it.

At the top of the mountain, Fr. Avellino has transformed a card table into an altar. His white vestments contrast sharply with the dingy sky. Vincent’s surplice is brilliantly white; his cassock, coal black. Around them and the altar stand 15 guys, linked by a common love for Christ and desiring only to bow down in worship then and there, on that beautiful mountain.

Fr. Avellino is speaking of holiness, of freedom, and of mission. He calls us to seek holiness not for ourselves, but for Christ. He speaks of freeing ourselves from all that keeps us from Christ; from all that keeps us from the mission given to each of us from the beginning of time; and of attracting others to Christ by living in the freedom and joy that only Christ gives. He tells us about a Church, born on Pentecost never to die.

Then he turns to the altar.

He takes bread, blesses it, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread becomes Christ Himself. For that moment, Christ is really truly with us, among the leaves, among the rocks, among the gnats. By the power of the same Spirit, what had been wine, becomes His Precious Blood, the blood He shed on a very different hill a very long time ago. And then Christ gives Himself to us, holding nothing back. And, just for a moment, the world stopped for 17 guys on a hill.

This was – no, is – the Sermon on the Mount 2010.

© Wendel Hall 2010

Have Fun, Raise Money, Help The Least Among Us

Please join Chevy’s and St. Francis of Assisi teenz at a fundraiser for summer workcamp!!!!!!!!!!

Invite all your friends and family to dine with you at Chevy’s and the restaurant will donate 25% of the proceeds to SFA teens going to work for the least among us for a week this summer!

Date: May 25, 2010

Time: 4:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.

Location: Chevy’s on Clopper Road

Be there or be square!





© 2010 wendel hall