The Bear's Article on Religion as a Near Occasion of Sin Was Prescient
|Today, no holy water. Its absence represents the|
spiritual and intellectual desert in which
poor Bear must live, he supposes.
The Bear watched every single person dipping their fingers into the dry bowl as they entered the church. It was like some Catholic Candid Camera setup.
Well, well. Here the Bear finds himself obligated by his own integrity to discuss the very sort of thing he so blithely dismissed before. It's one thing to preach in the abstract, and something else to have the very problem crammed down your throat. How can he ignore this sort of thing, even during Lent, when it is a practical challenge?
So, here are a couple of articles you might find interesting. One is a detailed article on the Church and gun control, and the other discloses the astonishing roster of Soros-connected lefties that produced the USCCB's gun-grab position.
Finally, there is an article on the forgotten Bath Township school massacre which remains the deadliest in the U.S. to date with a final death toll of 44. Forgotten, perhaps, because the killer did not use guns. See Before They Blamed Guns, They Blamed Catholics.
The homosexual child abuse scandal has reared its scaly head, again, in the background, as it seems that clients of Pope Francis were protected and promoted despite apparently credible allegations.
The implications of his encyclical Amoris Laetitia are being worked out on an ad hoc basis around the world when it comes to the propriety of divorced and remarried Catholics in the communion line.
The Bear does not know who said it, but the Catholic Church in America truly is the Democrat party at prayer. This is not the place to launch into a defense of the second amendment, which the Supreme Court has recognized as a personal right. At a minimum, however, it is one of several political issues that have polarized Americans. Perhaps, Church leaders might at least have the prudence to recognize that and not see worshippers as a captive audience for their debatable political positions.
They just can't help themselves from taking advantage of an opportunity like this, though.
Aside from politics, one can only marvel at the wrong-headedness of depriving people of an important sacramental like holy water during Lent.
So, yes, indeed, it was a prescient article for the Bear. Since this is a very practical series of articles on succeeding in Lent, the Bear thinks he ought to share good strategies for dealing with the kind of thing he experienced Sunday. His catch phrase for Catholics has always been, "Nail your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew and die there."
What do you think? Is that good enough? Or are there no significant problems in the Catholic Church today?
Sunday before last a woman dressed up in some sort of priestess outfit conducted the service (not a Mass) because there was no priest available. Think about that for a moment.
When we are trying to attract people to the Catholic Church, as one commenter suggested, what is the best thing to tell them? Shrug and say the Church just has always had some flawed human beings in it, but is still unique in teaching the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the unchanging truth? Or just say nothing and hope they don't notice anything before we have them in the boat?
Of course, there is a good answer.
Pope Francis has suggested over and over the dismay that has divided Catholics and scandalized a large segment of the faithful who blog about the Church is simply the result of ignorance but mostly ill will. How does that answer sit with you?
Maybe the absence of holy water during Lent - where there is no tradition or rule allowing it - should just make us think about the desert in which Jesus fasted. If that line of reasoning is correct, perhaps we should go further and remove all sacramentals from our homes, too. We should not make the sign of the cross, or say the rosary, or display crucifixes during Lent. How far could you imagine such "symbolism" could go, if carried to its logical conclusion? Is there a problem with seeing holy water as a nothing more than a symbol to be manipulated at the whim of parish priests?
And, with the sole exception of abortion, it seems one must be a member of a certain political party in order to be a good American Catholic.
It would be the easiest thing in the world for the Bear to sweep his concerns under the rug during a series on Lent. That was his earlier idea. However, he suspects he is not the only person who is scandalized by their religion and whose Lenten peace and growth is challenged by the very institution to which he looks for assistance. The Bear would not feel like he was being honest if he ignored all this in a series about practical strategies for Lent.
The Bear cannot tell you what you should do when religion becomes a near occasion of sin, unless it is to convince yourself that you are the problem and be assimilated.
Or, if that does not ring true to you, perhaps the answer is just to do your best to ignore it. That might be easy for humans. It is not so easy for Bears.
Many times, going to church has been a near occasion of sin for the Bear. Sometimes it's all he can do to remain quiet in his pew without rising up on his hind legs and roaring in indignation.
Many Catholics have grown increasingly confused and worried over the past few years. However, many Protestants have also found the Evangelical movement wanting and waning. It would serve no purpose to prepare charges and specifications against any religion. If you are satisfied where you are, the Bear is very happy for you. If you are not, he does not need to give you the reasons.
Wisdom from Pope Benedict XVI
But, whether it is a strange gospel of social and material equality without Christ - of "issues" - or a feel-good faith that builds self-esteem, many are turning away from such ideas and looking for the truth.
In Pope Benedict XVI's book Co-Workers of the Truth, the reading for February 17th says something we don't often hear these days:
It is a thoroughly Christian impulse to combat suffering and injustice in the world. But to imagine that men can construct a world without them by means of social reform, and the desire to do so here and now, is an error, a deep misunderstanding of human nature. For suffering does not come into the world solely because of the inequality of possessions and power.
From: Die Situation der Kirche heute, pp. 37–38
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 64). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
The Bear doesn't really have much to say about that. He understands. May the Holy Spirit guide you, but may you accept that you may very well go to your grave as a sheep poorly fed, if fed at all.
This Lent might be a good time to look beyond our doubts and even our disgust and accept that the kind of security we crave might never be found in having all our doctrinal ducks in a row. No, it isn't fair, and, yes, you should expect better than you are often getting from your shepherds.
Friends, the Bear respectfully invites you to wonder if your religion is getting between you and God, and what you might try to do about that. Obsessing over the latest scandal cannot be spiritually healthy, especially during Lent.
There are ways, the Bear believes, that one may be right, but wrong.
One possible response is to turn directly to God more often through reading Scripture, through prayer, and through alms-giving and service. We cannot go far wrong in our religion if we take more responsibility for loving and serving God, and practicing charity toward our neighbor.
Another spiritual discipline for this Lent might be to just tune out. Avoid the constant grumbling, even if it is justified. Many of us must simply accept that we are unlikely to ever find rest for our souls in our religions.
This seems like a shame, but even the Bear has not changed things to his liking, no matter how clever his agitprop.
However, who knows if we might find a different kind of certitude? The brilliant mathematician Blaise Pascal recorded a mystical experience that gave him just that.
Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the martyrology. Vigil of St. Chrysogonus, martyr, and others.
From about half past ten at night until about half past midnight,
GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob
not of the philosophers and of the learned.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
GOD of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
Your GOD will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.
He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Grandeur of the human soul.
Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have departed from him:
They have forsaken me, the fount of living water.
My God, will you leave me?
Let me not be separated from him forever.
This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and the one that you sent, Jesus Christ.
I left him; I fled him, renounced, crucified.
Let me never be separated from him.
He is only kept securely by the ways taught in the Gospel:
Renunciation, total and sweet.
Complete submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in joy for a day's exercise on the earth.
May I not forget your words. Amen.
And the Bear said Amen.