Tonight, I watched the movie Apocalypto. Not merely by coincidence, I read this morning in the catechism the passage that reflected on the early fathers stating that the Church was prefigured by Noah's ark. How fitting a prefiguration; through imperfect men, Christ's visible Church here on earth is made a tangible ark of salvation for those who are lost. Apocalypto (and many other movies like it) stand as strong reminders of just what that lost world was without Christ (and what it still is in many cases outside the Church).
So what does all this have to do with so called "progressive" Catholics. Well I'll tell you. First, theres certainly nothing "progressive" about those who call themselves so. I scoffed at the Catholic Church as a Protestant when I saw the liberals inside it complain when an orthodox pope was elected. If anything exposed the fraud of the Church, I thought, surely this did. But, after all... the Church DID elect an orthodox pope. That was one of the events that got me originally scratching my head.
Now as far as "progression" goes, liberal Catholics for the most part, are aiming (as an immediate goal) at three things: ordination of women priests, abolition of priestly celibacy and permission granted for contraception. I say immediate goal because leftism (or as some like to say liberalism) is itself never satisfied. If these things were to be passed, then they would start asking for abortion rights, and then condoning of homosexual behavior and so on and so on. Many are already calling for these so that shouldn't surprise anyone. The Chuch would follow in the same disastrous footsteps as the Episcopalian Church.
Now if it were ever a temptation to view these "progressive" Catholics as having any sort of sincerity and self honesty, we should remember this: since they obviously don't place too high of a value on orthodoxy then they could just as well go over to the Episcopalian church which has already apostatized to the degree which they perversely desire for the Holy Catholic Church. But yet they try to destroy the true Church. Why? Why not just leave it alone if not for evil intentions? This apostasy is not done; it will continue. Neither is rot, decay or mold ever satisfied until it has devoured everything which was once called wholesome.
God delighted in creating a world which could be understood on many levels. One of them is symbolic. Leftists have embraced a disorder which perverts their ability to comprehend the beautiful truth imbedded throughout all of reality which testifies only of the Truth. Thanks be to God for the Holy Catholic Church which exists as a visible means for salvation to all who would accept it, and in the process does itself very effectively illuminate this beautiful truth in symbolism.
This is why I can use decay and rot as imagery for leftism because they both act in the same exact way. The thief "commeth" for only one purpose, and so a "progressive" attitude only has one purpose: destruction of the righteous. It is crucially important for all Catholics to understand this truth and what kind of battle is at hand (not merely in the distant future). Pope John Paul II understood this very well and if you don't believe me, just read his encyclical: Veritatis Splendor.
All of the issues raised by leftists start with a truth and is then perverted. In light of watching a depiction of the horrible violence of the Americas in the not so distant past, I thought I would briefly touch on what I see being argued about constantly in the blogosphere now: pacifism.
I'm not going to quote the Pope and I'm not going to pull out the Catechism. We all know what it says on the subject. But each takes the words and fits them to his own agenda. The truth is that death is a horrible thing. It is the ultimate physical evil. Death is the great weapon forged by our enemy against us but which was defeated by Christ on the cross. So here we start, with a sound truth which both liberals and conservatives would agree to and the question is where do we go from this point?
A few years ago, I became interested in pacifism on reading Tolstoy's - The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You. Tolstoy was a great writer and his book contained a lot of truth that I had never been exposed to myself. It sure makes one start to question things. But let's remember, Tolstoy was in fact excommunicated from the Orthodox Church. There was a reason for that.
The problem is, he started with a truth and took it to an extreme which lead to perversion. The perversion still seems right to fallen man when he is wrapped up in it himself. It seemed right to me a couple of years ago. (Now don't get me wrong, much of it still is right, and it is true just not all of it.) Even a small error, if left uncorrected, can turn into a gross disorder.
Death is such a terrible perversion and so contrary to what we know is good and holy. We were not meant to die. It is the ultimate disorder. God delights in life not death. It is by death that we truly realize the value of life and so we all understand as Catholics, that everything in our power must be done to prevent death from occuring. Of course, non Catholics & non Christians can and do understand this as well.
Tolstoy preached non-resistance to evil by force even in extreme circumstances. There have been others who taught so as well but not many as widely known as him. Protestants and fundamentalist tend to over-react (in my opinion) to this error of Tolstoy's by nearly condoning violence by their apologetics on the subject of pacifism.
Now lest you think that I am about to contend that the truth is a graceful "middle ground" between the two extremes, don't be so hasty in your judgement. I have been delighted to find that the Church can rightly be called pacifistic in so far as that it has not merely a preference towards non-violence but an obstinate resistance to violent means when it is at all possible to solve the problem by peaceful means.
Because of the serious disorder caused by violence (even in "civil" settings), the Church's position has always been a strong one and in fact, so close to the extreme of pacifism that it is not hard to see why many have taken it one step too far. It's not that they're far from the truth at all. In fact, taking a step in the opposite direction by the same degree, I think, would result in being further from the truth than even sitting on the extreme pole that Tolstoy was.
In practical terms, there is a reason that the Popes' statements and the Catechism has always left "wiggle room" for those who arent extreme pacifists. Yes the Church passionately preaches a gospel of life and forgiveness, but it is also ours to protect and serve the cause of justice on earth. As we all know Micah 6:8 reminds us that God requires us to "do justice" but also to "love mercy" and that is why each morning I incorporate that into my prayer:
And favor my Lord, bestow on meIt would be a mistake to call it a "balancing act" to rightly incorporate both the justice and mercy which God requires of us in our life. However, God does not only require one from us. And in the real world, when the sparing of one guilty life means the destruction of many others who are innocent, we have, in a quantifiable way, neglected our duty of preserving justice.
That I be able to accomplish these three
My hands to do justice
My heart to love mercy
And my feet to walk humbly, my Lord, with Thee.
It is always our preference as Catholics to choose life and as I said before, it is not merely our preference but a mandate. It is our preference to tell the truth and not merely our preference. But if we were hiding a Jewish family during the holocaust and the Nazis came looking for them, suddenly our priorities have changed. Likewise, when the sparing of a criminal means the death of many innocents, you needn't be a theologian to see the disorder here.
Now some have argued (and they are not totally mistaken) that with technological and sociological advancements, the death penalty is becoming, to say the least, more obsolete than it was in prior ages. This argument however, leaves out the psychological effect on the minds of all criminals knowing that they will escape the ultimate punishment even if they do get caught for murder. It is impossible to know the number of murders commited daily precisely because the criminal does not posess an adequate fear of his threatened punishment but we can be certain that it happens.
So as we, except in cases of last resort, will opt for life as Catholics, we must not neglect those who are being unjustly murdered if that may result in any way from our lax policy on punishment. If it can be proven that the death penalty does not deter other criminals from murdering, then it makes for very few cases of permissible capital punishment if any whatsoever. But to date I know of no study even attempting such a thing and let's be honest... we all know good and well, punishment and propensity to commit crime by the populace it threatens are very strongly and causally related.
Do I support the death penalty? Not when I'm on trial...
I'm not sure how I started with the theme of the movie Apocalypto, leftists creeping into the Catholic Church and then ended up here but I have a tendency to do that sort of thing. I read / saw three things that stuck out to me today. First, the reflection from the Catechism: Noah's ark prefigures the Church. Second, a "progressive Catholic" blog. And third, the movie Apocalypto. Somehow they all made sense together and made for a somewhat coherent post.
As for the title "Apocalypto Now", I chose it as a play on words more than anything but it also does remind me of the ending of "Apocalpyse Now" where in the climax the Montagnards, or indigenous people of Vietnam, end up sacrificing that buffalo or ox or whatever it was. What we witness there is the same thing we can't help but witness in the world around us and in other movies and depictions of the world like Apocalypto: a grave and serious perversion.
In the order of the events I saw today, the Catechism reminds me that the Church is here to be the boat of salvation for all mankind - the answer to this disorder so prevalent in the world. The "progressive" Catholic blog I read reminded me that there exists even on the boat, perversion seeking to destroy from within in very subtle ways. The movie reminded me of the seriousness of the grave perversion which is anything that acts in rebellion to the revealed Word of God.
Disorder can never lead us to Christ but only away from Him. Liberalism never leads to Christ. Though liberals can and do follow Him, and liberals have been used to bring lost to the Church, liberalism itself only has evil ends. Remember what Christ told us: "He who stands firm until the end will be saved". Let us therefore be strong and defend His bride: the Church. As of late, our greatest enemy lies within so beware.
Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, and may we all join together to combat injustice and seek peace and non-violence as much as we are able without crossing over into the territory of disorder.