Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Joy of the Cross: We are More Than our Sins

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

Kevin Tierney has written a powerful article at Catholic Lane that tackles the lukewarm (and rather depressing) compromise with sin that the Relatio from the Synod seems to convey.

In his article, Tierney defends (of all things!) the joy of the Gospel - even the joy of the struggle, of the long walk up Calvary and the many stumbles along the way.

Some excerpts (my emphases) ...

The Church no longer speaks of the joy of marriage, but instead about how difficult it is and how so few can live according to its precepts. The danger here is that we create a self-fulfilling prophecy: if marriage and the family are not the joy and fulfillment of man, then we will continue to see less joy and more difficulty. 


When I struggled with living out the moral teaching of the Church, I was never happy. Even when I was happy, I was less than I could be. Thanks to the design of God, that unhappiness drove me to seek answers, and it drove me to the confessional. While I obviously cannot disclose what was said during those sessions, never once did I find a priest who condemned and judged. All understood our struggles with life, and that a life of constant minor indiscretions can be even more dead than a life of only one or two major indiscretions. They practiced true graduality in slowly but surely guiding me towards living out the truth. Yet during all of this, these great priests did several things:

  • They reminded me that I was not called to live according to these sins. If God called me to something, it must be possible.

  • As impossible as it may seem, my struggling would lead to peace if I let Christ give it to me.

  • Following the Gospel provides a joy even during the lowest of times that all the pleasures and comforts of the world cannot match in their highest of times.

Read the whole thing here.

This is the great danger of the politics of "sexual orientation".  It identifies us with our sins.  If a man is sexually attracted to other men, why should that define who he is?  We all struggle against all sorts of sins, some of them quite horrific, but if I (for example) am "oriented" toward adultery, and yet I constantly struggle to cooperate with God's grace so as to be faithful to my wife, am I in fact an "adulterer"?  An "alcoholic" is more than his bottle if and when he begins to turn away from it.  There's a big difference between an alcoholic who allows himself to be dominated by his addiction and one who is vigilant (by the grace of God) in resisting it.

We are more than our sins when (by God's grace) we repent of our sins.

This is never easy, but it is the only way to the joy of Christ about which Kevin Tierney speaks - even though it is the Way of the Cross.

And the joy and grace that comes to us when we take up our daily cross is lost when our bishops and priests are too ashamed to call us to be more than our sins.  "Don't start up Calvary.  It's a rocky road.  Leave the cross by the wayside and relax.  Take it easy.  God loves you anyway."

As Bishop Sheen reminded us, the spirit of antichrist is the denial of His cross.


The Ubiquitous said...

Is there a broken link to Mr. Tierney's blog post?

Anonymous said...

Actually I was alright with some of what the original synod document said (although I am very, very, very glad the whole thing has been overhauled.)
It was the bit about gay couples having something of value in their relationships. I thought that was important.
You know, I think there can be a fair amount of 'unreality' in how orthodox Catholics talk about gay people. It's not enough that homosexual acts are mortal sins - we have to believe that gays are bad parents, lust-filled, demonic, immature, filled with rage, looking to seduce our children, incapable of genuine love towards each other and so on and so forth.
It gets to the point that admitting the existence of even a handful of happy, well-adjusted gay couples would seem to be anathema for orthodox Catholics. Like a logical impossibility.
The stuff about "valuing their orientation" was nonsense, though. We need more African bishops calling the shots, I think.
Link isn't working, BTW.

The Ubiquitous said...

I can understand the point about Catholics talking frequently about demonizing "the gays."

However, the resistance to say genuine love is well-founded. It depends what you mean by genuine love. Genuine love for the other would entail not wanting to place the other in a near occasion of sin, so gay coupling is necessarily a false or incomplete love by design, which is basically the same as saying it is always sinful to some degree.

There's something like love, to be sure, an affection and a general desire for the good welfare of the other, but "genuine love" is a bit far.

That is, unless you mean eros and philia without agape, in which case English is the wrong language to say these things.

Chris said...


The idea of happy, "gay" couples precisely is an impossibility. If human beings are made as male and female, to be attracted to one another, then how could it ever be good or fulfilling for people to act contrary to their nature. Children are also to be raised by a mother and father, so yes, homosexuals raising children is a form of abuse. Furthermore, no one is "gay" as though one's sexual attraction defined who they are. To point out these facts is the most loving thing someone can do, for no one will be happy living contrary to what God- or even Godless nature for that matter- made them to be. This is also why homosexuals have such high rates of suicide, mental illnesses like depression, substance abuse. They are clearly not happy living as they do. (And no, these things do not result from the non-acceptance of homosexuality.)

Kevin Tierney said...

Link should be working now, site had some tech difficulties.