All are welcome. - Gather us in.
I know Mr. Phelps died, but I don't know where he is. May he RIP. The Catholic Church wouldn't, couldn't proclaim him a saint because he placed himself outside the Catholic Church. In fact he despised Catholics. As a 'hyper-Calvinist' I suspect he believed he was predestined and therefore among the elect already. I don't know about stuff like that.
I mention Phelps because of his position on the evils of homosexuality. Phelps was an extremist, no doubt about that - wrathful, perhaps in his own valuation, he had the spirit of an Old Testament prophet. I rather think he was more or less fanatical in the sense of the New Testament, born-again, start-your-own-church-Bible-banger sort of way. Yet his 'teaching' bore some similarities to medieval sermons and writings of some of the great saints in the Church. Which is why I asked, facetiously mind you, is Fred Phelps a saint?
No sin in the world grips the soul as the accursed sodomy; this sin has always been detested by all those who live according to God...Deviant passion is close to madness; this vice disturbs the intellect, destroys elevation and generosity of soul, brings the mind down from great thoughts to the lowliest...They become blind and, when their thoughts should soar to high and great things, they are broken down and reduced to vile and useless and putrid things, which could never make them happy...Just as people participate in the glory of God in different degrees, so also in hell some suffer more than others...for this is the greatest sin. -St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) - Fighting Irish ThomasPriest and prophet forage in a land they know not.
Tom O'Toole wrote a post reminding Catholics of what the saints had to say about homosexuality - the quote above is from his post. It is good to remind ourselves of that. I've done posts on a couple of saints Tom highlights myself, to great accolade, I might add. I'm kidding of course. I remember writing about Peter Damian's treatise, Hot Night in Gommorah, or something - the exact title eludes me at the moment. And Pope St. Pius V and how burning homosexuals at the stake was seen as a perfect penance in his time. Such posts are always a big hit. NOT. Even laced with humor some readers find that stuff offensive in the extreme.
All kidding aside, Tom's post is an excellent reminder that homosexual behavior really is a serious, grave sin, a mortal sin. Some saints have said it is the worst sin. Obviously, Churchmen rarely talk that way any longer. (The reactions to Pope Francis' and Cardinal Dolan's interviews demonstrate that, much to the chagrin of some.) As we have been told repeatedly, todays emphasis is on conversion. The Biblical, 'T'raditional teaching hasn't changed - "the tone has changed." Some people would probably favor a Fred Phelps approach, others would like bishops and priests to preach like St. Bernadine of Siena and other 'hardliners'. I can understand that.
In this Culture of Death era, when Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson nearly lost his job by quoting St. Paul's teaching on homosexuality, it's unlikely Pope Francis or many—if any—bishops will publicly proclaim the Catholic Church Fathers on the same subject. Due to a combination of concentration on compassion owed the homosexual person, trying to stay politically correct, or perhaps even fearing jail time for a homophobic hate crime, the clergy have largely begged off talking about the not-so-pleasant consequences of the sexual act. Still for the sake of seeing the incredible continuity of Church teachings through the ages, it's now necessary to revisit these directives that both agree with Paul's warnings to the Romans and Corinthians and at the same time would make his skin crawl. - Tom O'TooleHowever, today the Catechism still teaches the truth about homosexuality and all forms of sexual immorality. The documents from the CDF, especially from Cardinal Ratzinger in the Pontificate of John Paul II reiterate Church teaching, while affirming Sacred Tradition and Biblical authority on the sin of homosexuality and its consequences. The teaching is there. Pope Benedict was confident of that fact in his Pontificate - since he never issued any other document aside from what was already there. It's just not always clearly taught. People like Tom O'Toole remind us of that fact - that it is there - on the books - but it's not always taught.
Outsiders - people outside the Church, as well as some inside the Church - prefer to reject the notion of sin and punishment. Likewise, the culture has lost the sense of sin. We all know that. Religious and non-religious people alike know that - "All have gone astray - there is not a good man left."
Priest, prophet, forage in a land they know not.
I said in my alarm;
'no man can be trusted'
all have gone astray,
there is not a good man left -
there is no one who does good,
no, not even one.
We love you!
The time of mercy can't eclipse the truth.
Calling people to repentance doesn't mean banging them over the head with how horrible they are, or yelling, "You're going to hell if you don't repent." Mercy is not exacted in hostility and contempt and scare tactics. The sinner is easily repelled, often because deep down the sinner understands his alienation, his anxiety. By contrast, the encounter with mercy - with Christ - consoles, embraces, and sees. It is the light of Christ that enlightens the soul. Every sinner who has experienced conversion can most likely tell you the moment he first believed, the exact moment he met Jesus... much like the Samaritan woman in today's Gospel when our Lord revealed himself to her - "I am he, the one speaking to you." (She was still a sinner! Think of that. " while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.") I'm convinced that is how the conversion of sinners comes about. As Pope Francis indicates in today's Angelus address:
“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ In this way – the Pope explained – he cut across the barriers of hostility that existed between Jews and Samaritans, crushing the prejudice that existed in relating to women. (Ed. note: Imagine she was another type of sinner.)
The Pope said that Jesus’ simple request signals the beginning of an open dialogue, through which, with great delicacy, He entered the interior world of a person to whom, according to social convention, He should not even have spoken to. (Ed. note: Imagine she was another type of sinner.)
“But this is exactly what Jesus does! Jesus is not afraid. When Jesus sees a person he goes towards that person because he is filled with love. He loves all of us. He does not stop before anyone because of prejudice” he said.
And Francis explained that Jesus does not judge, but acknowledges each person making him or her feel considered and recognized, and stimulating in that person the wish to go beyond their daily ‘routine’.
He explained that the thirst Jesus speaks of is not so much a thirst for water, but the with to quench the thirst of an arid soul. Jesus – Francis said – needs to meet the Samaritan woman to open up her heart: he asks her for a drink to highlight her own thirst. The woman – he pointed out - was touched by this meeting and asks Jesus some deep questions that each of us harbor, but often ignore.
The result of that meeting at the well – Pope Francis continued – “was that the woman was transformed: leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and told the people of her meeting with a man ‘who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ She was so happy. She had gone to the well to draw water and she found the living water, the spring of living water welling up to eternal life. She ran to the village which had always judged condemned and rejected her and announced that she had encountered the Messiah who had changed her life” he said.
And, Pope Francis said: “each encounter with Jesus changes our life, forever”. - Pope Francis
Sin and its consequences, judgement and damnation are important to teach - and remember - the teaching is always there. Likewise, there will always be someone, something to remind us of it. As I said, sinners intuit that dread within themselves as an alienation - only love and mercy can conquer such barriers. Love alone cuts across the barriers of hostility that exist between us. Crushing a bruised reed, quenching a smoldering wick is not the way of salvation.
For when he asked the Samaritan woman for water to drink,
he had already created the gift of faith within her
and so ardently did he thirst for her faith,
that he kindled in her the fire of divine love.
Without condemning her, he gently elicited from her the confession, "I do not have a husband" - and thus he kindled in her the fire of divine love...
Jesus, I trust in you.
Blood and water flowing
forth from the side of Christ,
as a font of mercy for us,
I trust in you!