Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Civic Responsibility as Christians

Father Frank Pavone is a contributing writer to the Washington Post's On Faith column. This is only a part-time gig for him though. His day job is the national director of Priests for Life, the largest Catholic, pro-life organization in the country, a man truly doing God's work.

In his February 23rd article entitled Walking tightrope of religion and politics, he talks about the proper perspective the discussion of religion should be given in the political debate. For me, the "ah ha" moment in his article is the sentence,

"Religion isn't just private. Beliefs have consequences on public policy, morality, and the safety and rights of citizens."

How many times have you heard someone say, "Religion is a private matter between me and God"? (seems the Governor of New York just used that one recently)  It's a particularly American attitude, isn't it? We are, after all, the ultimate individualists. But is that what we are really called to do as Christians? Are we really supposed to just be sitting at home on the love seat, being satisfied that we supposedly have a "personal relationship" with Jesus? See James 2:14-26. Maybe we've forgotten that we are called to be the salt and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Ultimately, it's your responsibility, people, to take a stand for what you believe in, to put your faith into action.

Why don't more people do it? That is an interesting question. The fact is that a lot do! But more need to. To me, the problem is ultimately rooted in the misinterpretation and ridiculous misapplication of the concept of separation of church and state. Do you think the founders envisioned their democracy stripped of any semblance of its Christian roots? Did you ever think that you'd live to hear the President of the United States would say that America is NOT a Christian nation?

How about students being suspended for having a rosary at school? An American university attempting to implement a policy that defined religious discrimination as Christians oppressing non-Christians? In many cases the ludicrous has become the norm. Many Americans have allowed themselves to be sold a bill of goods that to hold a religious conviction and to speak on it publicly (other than in Church) is somehow un-American, is somehow infringing on the rights of other Americans. Seriously?

The bottom line is this, beliefs DO have consequences in society, STAND UP for yours, take action, participate in the process, love your neighbor as yourself and above all, by the Grace of God "...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."

Think about what may happen if you don't.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Church Militant

In starting this blog, I'd like to explain its purpose and how its name represents that purpose.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 954 reads as follows:

954 The three states of the Church. "When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating 'in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is"':
All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together.

In Catholic theology, the Church Universal is traditionally divided into:
the Church Militant (Ecclesia Militans), made up of Christians on earth who are living and who struggle against sin, devil and "..the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).
the Church Triumphant (Ecclesia Triumphans), those who are in Heaven, and
the Church Suffering (Ecclesia Penitens), consisting of those Christians presently in Purgatory**.

**Purgatory is brought up here only to outline the understanding of the Catholic Church (my church) of the Communion of the Saints. It is not meant to be a barrier to my non-Catholic friends as I am endeavoring to be ecumenical in my presentation. That is not to say that you won't see good old fashioned apologetic discussions about the differences in Catholic and Protestant exegesis, you will. But debate is healthy.

These terms explain the three states in which Christians exist within the Communion of the Saints. Although we may be physically separated from each other by the barrier of death, we nonetheless remain united to each other in one Church, through Christ, and support each other in prayer.

Thus the name of the blog. The Body of Christ on Earth is the Ecclesia Militans and we are called to holiness in Him. Our mission here on Earth is summed up nicely by St. Paul in Philippians 2:12-18:

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. 

I hope to bring to this blog commentary on news of the day from my perspective in the light of Church teaching; examples of God working in us for His own good pleasure for the betterment of our brothers and sisters; and anything else that happens to pop into my head. :-)

Thank you for your time. Hopefully you'll enjoy it. If you feel it to be edifying, I would appreciate it if you would follow the blog and share it with others. God Bless.

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