Thursday, August 8, 2013

Integrated Catholics Disintegrating?

My friend Joe Griesemer, commenting (via Facebook) on my post Hooray for Suicide! shout the Catholics, asks

Maybe we should speak of Integrated or Non-Integrated Catholics, instead of Left or Right?

I think this is an excellent suggestion, for many reasons.

  •  Although Politics trumps Faith for most Americans, defining Catholics solely by their political inclinations plays up to that and falls into that trap.
  • The issue is not so much are you a liberal or a conservative, a leftist or a right-winger, the issue is do you accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and try to live them?  It is tempting to say, "Well, Nancy Pelosi is not a real Catholic", or even "The Westboro Baptists who 'hate fags' are not real Christians".  But any baptized person is a Christian; indeed is a Catholic, though perhaps not in full communion with the Catholic Church.  This is because Christ established One Church and not several; so all followers of Christ are members of this One Church - His Body - all of us in varying degrees of integration in it.
  • When a Nancy Pelosi publicly dissents against Church teaching on abortion, she thereby excommunicates herself from full communion in the Body of Christ (I'm talking de facto excommunication, not de jure or canonical excommunication), whether she takes communion or not and whether a bishop is cavalier enough to let her.  But likewise when a right winger supports Usury, Lying or Torture, (and now, God help us, suicide) he is likewise cutting himself off in fact if not officially from full communion with the Catholic Church.  
  • Anyone who sins gravely is doing the same thing - regardless of his political stance.  A little cheating on your wife, some porn here or there, defrauding your employees of their wages - all of that stuff keeps you out of the Kingdom - which is to say dis-integrated from the Body of Christ.  And I speak as a sinner to my fellow sinners - we know what we are capable of, we know what we do, and we know how far from living integrated lives - lives of integrity - we really are.
A less-than integrated fellow.

An Integrated Catholic is integrated into the Church, in full communion with it, and shows integrity between his practices and his beliefs, and between his beliefs and Church teaching.  

This ain't easy.  In fact, full integrity, full integration, is nothing less than sanctification - holiness - becoming like Christ, becoming fully formed to His image.  

But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.  - 2 Cor. 3:18
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Rom. 12:2 

Anything shy of that partakes of non-integration, more properly called dis-integration, in the full sense of that term: coming apart, dissolving, not holding together.  "Hell is a place where nothing connects with nothing," says T. S. Eliot, a place whose very identity is disintegration, lack of communion, separateness, isolation.

Now most of my readers are right-wingers.  The libs don't leave comments about how wrong I am about contraception and abortion, because the libs don't read this blog.  But, as a penance, read some of my archives and take a look at the heat that's been brought to bear by "conservative Catholics" who are actively and vehemently dissenting from Church teaching on Usury, Lying, Torture, Suicide and even matters of Sex - and you'll quickly see that the problem is not our politics.

The problem is our disintegration.


Dan Horn said...

Dan the Normal Guy says:
Either what the Church says is right or it's wrong. If you are Catholic and believe it is right, then you need to go "all in". You have to shun the pagan influences of our culture of death or you just can't be Catholic. I once got into an argument with a friend who said his Pro-Choice wife was a devout Catholic. While I'm sure she attended Mass much more dilligently than I, she can never be in communion if she supports abortion. Heck, even hyper-Atheist Penn Gillette is against abortion. You have to be all in because if not, even if 1% you are out.

Kevin O'Brien said...

But to be "all in" eventually means to stop sinning and to let Him remake you. That's the hard part!

Del said...

When Peter Kreeft spoke in Madison last year, he defined a Catholic as "Anyone who believes what the Catholic Church teaches, and who strives to live according to that belief."

Struggling against a sinful addiction does not prevent a person from being part of the Body.... but a person does separate himself by knowingly rejecting the truth.

Nancy Pelosi said that her Catholic faith compels her to defend abortion as "sacred ground," which should not be discussed as as part of politics. What she really means is that she is NOT Catholic. Abortion is sacred to her; Christ and His Church are not.

Now, Kevin.... Kevin is doing a marvelous and difficult service in reminding us Pharisees that we too must live by the parts of the Gospel that we find difficult. Usury, torture, lying, and putting too much faith in politics -- these are the temptations that attract us. Suicide? -- not so much, but it is disconcerting to see this in a "normally integrated" Catholic publication.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Del, your comment kilt me! Seriously, thank you for this excellent comment.

Tom Leith said...

Ohhhhh! Now you have absolutely confirmed your Right Wing status,and at any number of levels,you cotton pickin' Integrist,you!

Unknown said...

This is a fantastic article! I'm with you 100%.