Saturday, June 15, 2013

Swimming Against the Tide of the Times

Fellow Christians: we have a choice.

We either make a radical commitment to Christ, or we make a radical commitment to sin.

It doesn't seem that way.

It seems as if we can become Christians and simply feel good about ourselves, or even, with a secret thrill, feel better than everybody else.  The "prosperity gospel" is wrong, but Christ doesn't demand we give up our suburban houses and cars and streaming TV, does he?  Not everyone is called to become a hermit or a beggar or a priest or a nun.  And as the Masses and especially the music at St. Somewhere keep telling us, "Jesus was nice; you be nice, too."  Just show up on Sundays and be nice.  I'm OK, you're OK too.  That's all that's required, right?

It's easy to laugh at that, but I'm convinced this is how we live our faith if we only live it by default, which is to say if we only let the tide of the times float our boat.

A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. - G. K. Chesterton
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. - Jesus Christ (John 15:19)

The world will only hate us if we act as a witness against the world; and we will only act as a witness against the world if we radically abandon ourselves to Christ.

Because the choice is either Christ or Sin - Life or Death.


I talk every now and then about the great spiritual upheaval I have gone through, which began last August and which has led to hundreds of blog posts and to more - to the splitting open of my head like an egg; to the cracking of my heart and the pouring forth of all the demons that made it their dark and rotting home.  Yeah, really!  It's been that bad.  I've gone a little nuts - more so than usual!

Now, before this struggle, I was not actively evil, and I was probably more serious about my faith than the typical Christian.  Or so I thought.

But I, even as a "Devout Catholic" (tm) and "Serious Christian" (c), had made room for the world, the flesh and the devil.  (For the wisdom of doing that, of "making room for" or of "providing for" such things, St. Paul says, " ... make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts," for we are to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" - see Rom. 13:14).  I compromised.  I kept in reserve stuff that my inner Old Man, my Petty Tyrant who wants-what-he-wants-when-he-wants-it cherished.  I buried my Lord's talent and kept it as my own (see Mat. 25:14-30). I was Smaug the dragon guarding a precious hoard.

I'll give myself to you, Jesus, mostly and by and large - but I'm keeping hold of this!

And God, in His Divine Mercy, said, OK.

And He let His judgment play out - His judgment which is, in this life, something like "karma" - the consequential, the bearing forth of the fruit of our actions.  And since I had sown to the flesh, I reaped corruption.  Had I sown to the Spirit, I would have brought forth everlasting life (see Gal. 6:8).

And so I speak from a kind of awful authority, having seen and experienced my doom in a small way.

And that authority is His authority, which says this:

Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. - (Deut. 30:15)
Believe me, friends, I've had a taste of that disaster.


The author at the falls.
To "follow your bliss" seems to mean to do whatever floats your boat, but your boat is being carried along by the tide of the times, which is rushing headlong to the falls.

To "follow His bliss" means to turn against that stream - specifically ...

But more than that.  

We are called not just to avoid sin (a negative) - for that's only a start.  

We are called to become holy, which is something positive, and which can only happen by the working of the Holy Spirit in us - can only come about through God's grace, which is typically communicated through the sacraments of His Church, and by means of our cooperation with it.  

Because you can't be a tentative Christian.  And you can't be a tentative sinner.  Christ will sweep you up with Him, radically and wholly, if you let Him; and sin will sweep you toward greater destruction and corruption than you can possibly imagine.  

We are ultimately radical Christians or radical Sinners; we are fooling ourselves to think we can go half-way down either path.


Pat said...

"I'm OK, you're OK". I read that in the seventies. A policeman, who came when my apartment was broken into told me when he saw the book on the floor, "Not everyone is OK." Life lessons...
Here's a link you will appreciate. "St. Clares all-inclusive ecumenical community in the catholic traditional." Stanford N. would loooove it!

Anonymous said...

Would forging of papers be a form of lying which would be unacceptable?

Unless, he was a martyr by his DESIRE to save Jews, not the (IMMORAL) WILL to do so (depending on what your view is).

Kevin O'Brien said...

Anonymous, see

Anonymous said...


Wonder when the magisterium will weigh in.

Kevin O'Brien said...

The Magisterium has weighed in. The teaching condemning lying as intrinsically evil is a teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church on a matter of morals, and hence infallible.