Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ideology is Human - Christ is Divine

The "Jesus Program" is not an external thing.  We don't become Christian and then try to be better people (or not).  We die and are transformed to something new.

Ben Mann and Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis write about this today in Catholic World Report  (my emphasis)...

We often shy away from that transforming union with God, replacing it with something else: something we can comprehend or control, which takes less discipline and sacrifice. [my note: we replace the awesome and scary Reality with out own petty unreality.  Or worse yet: we simply call ourselves Christian and continue blithely to sin.]
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When lesser goods occupy the place of the mystical life, we become spiritually blind. Doctrinal orthodoxy, moral uprightness, and the externals of Church life become substitutes for God’s very presence. Surrounded by the paraphernalia of holiness, we believe we are close to God, when in fact our hearts and souls are far from him.

The article is quick to point out that you can't have the mystical life without "doctrinal orthodoxy, moral uprightness and the externals of Church life".

But the best Christians around us have the latter and only the latter, the Faith becoming a kind of ideology or self-help program for them, and the worst Christians among us simply have nothing.

I pointed this out recently in an email to a friend.

It's common for converts to compare notes.  "In all my years since becoming Catholic, I've never heard a homily on ... " fill in the blank.  For instance, in my 14 years as a Catholic, I can count on one hand homilies I've heard that mention contraception or pornography, two terrible problems in the Church.  But I've never heard a homily that mentions the evils of fornication or adultery - which are both very common - and addressed directly several times in Scripture.
But that's not my point.  My point is, I don't think I've ever heard a homily that mentioned the central Biblical theme of Transformation - the self's death and rebirth of Baptism, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me".  Without this death and transformative rebirth, then our Faith really is only a form of activism.  In this mistaken theology, whether we're saved by Faith or by Works, it comes to the same thing.  Christ saves us and we try to do good, but the two don't really connect.  I suppose a nod is given to the powers of grace when we hear homilies on, for instance, the vine and the branches - but ontological transformation is never even hinted at.  Perhaps because the Cross is so central to it.

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The Cross is so central to it.

Death and rebirth - which is Baptism, which is the Cross, which is (for that matter) Matrimony - a radical change in our very being - transformation in Christ: this is the end to which we are called.  Let us, then, set our face toward Jerusalem. 


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