Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Scandal of Scandals

by Ryan

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe 
in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a 
great millstone hung around his neck and to be 
drowned in the depths of the sea."
– Matthew 18:6

One of the most dreaded images in the New Testament is this teaching by Christ: the one who tempts others to sin will be cast into the sea carrying enough weight to sink to the very bottom. Strangely, the violence displayed here might put us at ease. I mean, surely Christ is talking about the kinds of people who wallow in the depravity of sin, answering eagerly to all of life's temptations, right? He's not talking to me! Well, you know:

• I pray the rosary and other traditional Catholic devotions daily.
• I read scripture and reflect on it's messages daily, and frequent other pious readings.
• I attend Mass every Sunday/Holy Day, and I even go occasionally on weekdays.
• I lead a life that seems markedly different from others around me, because being a Christian has changed me (oh has it now?).
• I'm a regular in the Confessional.
• I'm pretty much more Catholic than the Pope (thanks Gwenny!)

I post this list not to boast; not that any man could boast. I post this list because, despite the life I seem to lead, I am often deserving of the millstone and a toss into the sea. No, I don't bring all the girls to the yard with my public school calves, nor do I invite the guys over for a night of smut. I do something much, much worse.

I make sure that people never want to become Catholic. How do I accomplish this, you ask? Its quite simple, really:

• I get irrationally angry over small matters.
• I make the Catholic Faith seem exclusionary.
• I make the Catholic Faith seem like a prison.
• I make the Catholic Faith seem like an awful lot of rules, just to become someone that rhymes with "grass mole."
• I answer legitimate questions like I'm in a boxing match.
• I answer aggressive questions like Genghis Khan.
• And many, many others...

"You mean you don't want to come over and discuss religion with me? But I'll give you free beer! And sometimes I even do that Mongolian grill thing; that's pretty sweet, right?

So, now that I've revealed how truly bad I am at this whole Catholic thing (yeah, yeah, I know all the good ones say this too!) perhaps a solution, or solutions would be helpful. Here' a few that come to mind, if you happen to be in the same boat.

1. Ask yourself the following: "Would a non-Catholic want to learn more about the faith from being around me?" Ouch, right? And, if not, why? Time to get back in contact with those folks who "must have lost your number" and have an honest conversation. Some of those friends may only be ready for spiritual milk and not the solid food of Christian Truth.

2. Find a spiritual role model: Christ is the obvious choice, but one of the benefits of being a Catholic is recognizing all the saints, living and deceased, whom you may wish to emulate. For me, that guy is the currently respiring Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput. To me, Archbishop Chaput defines "pastoral care" and is the kind of role model that challenges others to a higher level of holiness just by his manner.

Well worth your time is a speech he gave at Houston Baptist University about religious liberty. In the last portion of the video, Chaput does a question and answer session, which really could have been quite ugly- a Catholic bishop fielding questions in an auditorium full of Baptists. When seemingly given an opportunity to stick it to his hosts, the archbishop instead focuses on ways that Catholics could do better, and how we could learn a thing or two from Baptists regarding their welcoming nature and their reverence for scripture. He says all of this without ever betraying his identity as a bishop, and leaves the room to ample applause.

I want to be like Archbishop Chaput when I grow up.

1 comment:

  1. This CFA controversy has given me plenty of opportunity to observe and practice debate styles about hot issues. I don't know if this will be helpful to you, but imo, graciousness is lost when the sarcasm comes out. I was really impacted by this editorial of Simcha's:
    And have been paying more attention to the way I speak to others and the way others speak since then.