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Wisdom from my blogging friend Ryan at Without Having Seen.  This is his comment in reply to Patrick Madrid‘s post on what to do with a Facebook friend who may or may not have been out of line in a discussion.  I think that Ryan has again charitably and faithfully stated catholic (universal) truths, and I’m reprinting it here to benefit my readers, too.

Thy Handmaid’s son said…The issue isn’t whether abortion is murder or not. That’s a given: yes.

The issue is whether, in the context of a discussion, this truth is the paramount one in the hierarchy of truths. The Code of Canon Law, which is an invaluable resource for instruction about the heart and mind of the Church, gives us an interesting clue on this point. The very last canon, which deals with the transfer of pastors, says this:

“In cases of transfer, the prescripts of can. 1747 are to be applied, canonical equity is to be observed, and the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law of the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes,” (CIC 1752).

The salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church, and if I might add, its primary mission. In fact, I need not, because the Catechism says it better (CCC 849-51). Salvation, and thus missionary work, must be grounded in truth. The fundamental truth of all human affairs is that God’s great love for us wills to save all men, and we must order our presentation of subordinate truths in a manner that will make them most credible. Missionary work, our proactive, evangelical share in this saving plan, requires patience, the Catechism tells us (CCC 854). That is because people are all coming from different places and experiences and will respond to different individual true statements in different ways; this also largely depends upon the person by whom they hear the truth proclaimed.

When dealing with someone on an issue, particularly a thorny one, I ask myself a few questions, since the salvation of souls – and not the simple proclamation of truth – is the highest law of the Church. The questions include: “Will this person listen to me? I am a 32 year old man with such-and-such a personality, this sort of relationship to the person, and this sort of reasons and experience to fall back on. Will he listen to me? Can I express the truth clearly and charitably? Are my motivations pure – that is, about my love for this person – or are my motivations tainted by anger, spiritual ambition, or what have you? Is it a truth that I need to proclaim? Can the person wait to hear it, or must it be spoken now, with dire consequences otherwise? Am I well disposed to help the person cope with any emotional fallout that might arise, to really care about the PERSON and not just the argument?”

If it sounds like I am making a very complicated issue of a simple debate, that’s because it’s not about an issue, but about souls. The salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church. For my part, I try to make the supreme law of my conduct to be faith, hope, and charity. These three alleviate the burden of having to win debates, do it myself, and cater to my own interior motivations. I am free – when tuned into these divinely given virtues – to say, “Hey, maybe I don’t win this today, but Jesus wins in the end, so I am free just to pray for the person and trust God, if that’s all I can do now.” BAM! Pressure gone.

It is no lie, if a post-abortive woman asks, “Am I a murderer?” to respond, “You are a beloved daughter of God, who wants you only to know his love, to repent of the sins of your past, and live new life with him – just like everybody else.” It is no lie, nor is it an evasion. It is defering one truth in favor of a much more important one.

December 28, 2009 11:55 PM

That is awesome, Ryan.  You gave me something to ponder, a better way of thinking of evangelization.  Ya just taught me a lesson!  thanks!  <3

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Over at Fallible Blogma (Is that the most clever pun ever?), Matt Warner is presenting Catholic Speaker Month all this October.   Matt asked Catholic bloggers to feature a Catholic Speaker in a post on their weblog.  What a great way to get to know the men and women who are out there teaching, inspiring, witnessing and evangelizing, and I am thankful that Matt at Fallible Blogma is putting this together.  You can see the list of speakers and their “interviewers” here

Although I heard about it late in the month from AmP, I was thrilled to be able to have as my speaker, the biblical scholar Prof. Michael Barber of John Paul the Great University.  (Some of you already know my feelings about Prof. Barber [and let’s not forget Brant Pitre!].)  Michael is a respected biblical scholar, one of several young, on-fire Catholic Biblical theologians, whose work is important not only to we Catholics, but in the wider Christian scholarly circles because of ecumenical aspects as well. 

To get a sense of Michael personally, all one has to do is  watch  his charming videos of Reflections on the Sunday Liturgy of the Word and you can just tell that he’s a really good man.  But if you  do not know who he is, or read his books, or listen to his radio show, Reasons for Faith or follow his postings on The Sacred Page (formerly Singing in the Reign), then this is a great opportunity for us to get to know him.    Because of the lateness of my participation in Catholic Speaker Month event, I did not actually interview Michael.   But I have read carefully through his entire weblog and I slept in a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I therefore give you…

My (Imaginary) Interview with Biblical Scholar, Michael Barber**

**totally made up of quotes, snippets and assumptions pieced together from Michael’s weblog

 

Michael Barber, clean shaven Professor of Biblical Studies

LuceMichael:  Hi!

Michael Barber:  Hi!

LM:  Hey, thanks for agreeing to this imaginary interview. 

MB:  It’s no problem at all.

LM:  Happy belated birthday!

MB:  Oh—thanks.

LM:  So uh…tell my readers a bit about yourself.

MB:  Certainly.

I am the Professor of Theology, Scripture and Catholic Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego. I am finishing up a Ph.D. in Theology at Fuller in Pasadena, CA. I received my B. A. in Theology and Philosophy from Azusa Pacific University and a M. A. in Theology from Franciscan University. I have written two books, “Singing in the Reign: The Psalms and the Liturgy of God’s Kingdom” and, a brand new book, “Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying Its Lessons Today. I recently began a new weekly radio show, Reasons for Faith Live, which is heard on EWTN’s Radio Network every Friday at 11am Pacific Coast Time. In addition, I am a Research Fellow for the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology (see links). I also lead Bible studies at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Covina, CA. Many of them have been recorded and are available on CD @ saintjoe.com.  source 

LM:  Uh….your answer seems a bit out-of-date.

MB:  Hmmm?

LM:  Nevermind.  Let’s move on.  First off, let me say that I love your radio show, Reasons for Faith–which I should mention you’ve actually been doing for a few years now.

MB: Thank you!  I really enjoy doing it.

LM:  I can tell.  I also love your videos on the Sunday Liturgy of the Word.  They are on my ‘must-do’ list every week before Sunday.

MB:  Ah, thanks again.  I have a lot of fun doing those, too.  The hardest work belongs to the student producer Nate Sjogren. He’s just a Sophomore, but he’s really an amazingly talented student. And he’s got the fiery enthusiasm of a new convert–he came into the Catholic Church at this year’s Easter Vigil!   source

LM:  That’s awesome!  I agree he does a bang-up job.  I really like the artwork you guys always show in the videos.  I wonder where you keep finding the right art.

MB:  We try for that whole “cover of Scott Hahn’s books” look.  source

2 out of 3 biblical scholars think that Dr. Hahn's book covers have nice artwork.

 

LM:  I notice that your reflections often sound like homilies.  Along with the biblical explanations and context you provide, you usually give a “going forth” message,  and you seem to relish the transformational dimensions of your talks.  Any particular reason for that?

MB:  I’m not sure.  One of my uncles is a priest though.

LM:  Ever think about being a priest yourself?

MB:  I have wanted to be a biblical theologian since I was a kid. 

LM:  That had to have stumped your guidance counselor.  How on earth did you decide that– as a kid no less? 

MB:  When I was a young teenager I was first exposed to a lecture given by Dr. Hahn–it literally changed my life. I was immediately hooked on Scripture. I must have been around 13 or so and I was hooked. I told my dad I wanted to major in Theology, get my Ph.D. and become a professor. I’ve been on that track ever since.     

(more…)

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O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell.  Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Your mercy.

My goodness, I just read an article on Inside Catholic and the comments section was just full of hatred and vileness.  :-(     The article was about Newt Gingrich‘s conversion to the Catholic faith.  Those commenters who defended Mr. Gingrich, or chastised the meanness, or in general showed a willingness to see God’s grace in the conversion story were also treated to sarcasm, attacks, and accusations.  (See for example, Ryan Haber’s comment #34 and the response #39)  Without commenting on Mr. Gingrich’s politics, his history or the ‘validity’ of his conversion, I will say that one must always rejoice in any lost sheep being found, mustn’t one?  I had previously read an article on some Catholic site about Tony Blair and the same type of vitriol was in the comments section.  I especially find it appalling that so many ‘in-the-fold’ Catholics proceed to pick apart the past histories, the sins, the public statements of these new converts.  My word, I would be devastated to have my community picking apart the blatant stupidity of my youth, my many, many failures, my willful disagreements with Church teachings, my obstinate run headlong into a state of grievous sin where I remained for distressingly too long.  Converts, re-converts, lost sheep, prodigals of all stripes–whether famous or not– deserve prayers–our prayers– and our edifying support; not backseat driving, judgments, scrutiny, malicious suggestions and its ilk.

I understand that politics make people agitated, emotional and passionate, but what happens to reason?  How can one who is reading a Catholic website, of all things, give in to such debaseness?  The very point of reading Catholic material, Catholic websites, Catholic weblogs *ought* to be bringing ourselves into a more perfect understanding of God, of His Will, of His Plan, of His Word–through His bride, the holy catholic Church.  It should be lifting us up. 

I also understand the difficulty in expressing passion in the written form, that writing may take on an unintended tone.  I understand the momentary loss of temper or rationality.  Still, I’m shaking my head in true confusion and sadness.  I’ll share with you what I left in the comments of the Inside Catholic article:

September 30th, 2009 | 11:32pm

I was interested to read this article but like so many commenters above, I turned to the comments and was disheartened by the level of meanness found there.

My Catholic brethren, where is our Christian charity?

I can do no more than offer up my prayers for Mr. Gingrich’s video to be a tool in God’s plan for the salvation of many souls, evangelizing to bring them to belief. In God’s plan, even an imperfect tool can reap a great harvest.

My prayers also for the continual, ongoing conversion of Mr. Gingrich, myself and indeed all Christ’s body: we, the Church.

May He lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of His mercy.

 Written by luce
My friends, remember Scripture:  woe to you, you hypocrites, you Pharisees who live by the letter of the law but have not love in your hearts.  This can be directed at anyone of us, at any moment of any day.  Let us pray for strength and charity to overcome this trap.
 
Prayer:  We all fall short of the mark, Lord, and You know how many times I have denied You, I have deserted You, and I disobeyed You.  Yet, in my time of need, You always come running for me, like the father in the parable.   I do not deserve Your mercy but I welcome it and I need it.  Help me to find my gratitude, help me to show my gratitude by in some little way emulating You with my own mercy and forgiveness toward others.
Let us pray:
 
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned greatly
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault.
Therefore I ask Blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
Amen.

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