I take God very seriously. I also think people matter. I care deeply about truth and love.
By some standards this isn’t a particularly “religious” blog.
For one thing, I keep saying that loving my neighbor and seeing everybody as my neighbor is a good idea. I’ll get back to that.
For another, I write about science each Friday; real science. And I don’t see it as a threat.
I don’t ‘believe in’ science, in the sense that I expect it to replace God. That would be as silly as trying to find life’s meaning in the second law of thermodynamics. It would also be a very bad idea. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2112–2114)
But I do not fear truth and knowledge. For a Catholic, that would be illogical.
This is not a new idea.
“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8–9; 63:2–3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2)….”
(“Fides et Ratio,” Pope Saint John Paul II (September 14, 1998) [emphasis mine])
“…if methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith, for earthly matters and the concerns of faith derive from the same God. … we cannot but deplore certain habits of mind, which are sometimes found too among Christians, which do not sufficiently attend to the rightful independence of science and which, from the arguments and controversies they spark, lead many minds to conclude that faith and science are mutually opposed….”
(“Gaudium et Spes,” Pope Bl. Paul VI (December 7, 1965) [emphasis mine])
“…God, the Creator and Ruler of all things, is also the Author of the Scriptures – and that therefore nothing can be proved either by physical science or archaeology which can really contradict the Scriptures. … Even if the difficulty is after all not cleared up and the discrepancy seems to remain, the contest must not be abandoned; truth cannot contradict truth….”
(“Providentissimus Deus,” Pope Leo XIII (November 18, 1893) [emphasis mine])
“Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air…. They all answer you, ‘Here we are, look; we’re beautiful.’…
“…So in this way they arrived at a knowledge of the god who made things, through the things which he made.”
(Sermon 241, St. Augustine of Hippo (ca. 411))
It’s not easy, particularly when a neighbor isn’t acting neighborly. But nobody said this was going to be easy.
Nobody who know much about people, anyway, and that’s another topic.
“He said to him, 22 ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
“This is the greatest and the first commandment.
“The second is like it: 23 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
“24 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.'”
If what Jesus said sounds familiar, it should. The same ideas are in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
My neighbor isn’t just the chap with a wheelbarrow across the street, or the folks who moved in on the corner north of me. The parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30–37 makes that pretty clear. (February 1, 2017)
Philippians 3:20 says “…our citizenship is in heaven….” But sitting around and thinking lovely thoughts about heaven won’t cut it.
I must act as if what I believe matters:
“Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
“You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.”
I’m supposed to be a good citizen here in America: contributing “…to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom….” That makes social justice a priority. (Catechism, 1928–1942, 2239)
Our goal is, or should be, building a better world: a civilization of love.
“…The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty….”
(“To the United Nations Organization,”1 Pope St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995))
You know how it goes: love is patient and kind. Love isn’t jealous, pompous, inflated, rude, self-serving, or quick-tempered. Love doesn’t brood over injury, either; and celebrates truth, not wrongdoing.
I checked the Catechism’s glossary for a definition of “love,” and got this:
“LOVE: See Charity.”
(Glossary, Catechism of the Catholic Church)
That’s informative, but not very. The “charity” entry says that charity is a virtue:
Love and charity, in the Catholic sense, aren’t just feelings. Doing what’s right is easier when emotions are in sync with our reason — but we’re supposed to do what’s right, no matter how we’re feeling.
Thinking is part of being human, too; or should be. Having a good, or bad, feeling about something may mean that it’s good or evil — or not. Either way, I should think before responding. (Catechism, 1765–1770)
I can’t love someone and hate the same person. Not at the same time.
I must not hate folks whose actions make my faith look like a psychiatric disorder.
But loving someone doesn’t mean ignoring daft behavior. Imitating their bad attitudes makes even less sense.
I don’t know how many “Catholic” blogs are in the “cesspool of hatred” that Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica talked about last year.2
“…’Many of my non-Christian and non-believing friends have remarked to me that we ‘Catholics’ have turned the Internet into a cesspool of hatred, venom and vitriol, all in the name of defending the faith!’ he said….
“…’Often times the obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed, nostalgia-hankering virtual guardians of faith or of liturgical practices are very disturbed, broken and angry individuals, who never found a platform or pulpit in real life and so resort to the Internet and become trolling pontiffs and holy executioners!’ Rosica said….”
(Catholic News Service, via Crux (May 17, 2016))
I have noticed that venom-spitting religious rants, Catholic and otherwise, are fairly easy to find. That’s one reason I started a blogroll of non-ranting Catholics.
Since I think loving my neighbor matters, and that everyone is my neighbor, hating someone isn’t an option. When I notice myself starting to hate someone, my job is removing that hate: not expressing it.
I get angry more often than I like, but don’t see much point in ranting. That’s partly because I take love and God seriously.
It’s also because I would much rather share what scientists are learning about this wonder-filled universe we live in, and pass along the best news humanity’s ever had —
More, mostly about love and truth:
- “Anger and Whitewashed Tombs”
(February 12, 2017)
- “Who is My Neighbor?”
(February 1, 2017)
- “Celebrating Mercy”
(November 21, 2016)
- “The Virtue Trap”
(October 23, 2016)
- “Trusting Feelings: Within Reason”
(October 5, 2016)
- “Caritas in veritate”
Pope Benedict XVI (June 29, 2009)
(From vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate.html (May 6, 2017))
- “Dialogue between cultures for a civilization of love and peace”
Pope St. John Paul II, XXXIV World Day For Peace 2001 (January 1, 2001)
(From vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_20001208_xxxiv-world-day-for-peace.html (May 6, 2017))
- “To the United Nations Organization”
Pope St. John Paul II, Apostolic Journey to the United States of America (October 5, 1995)
(From vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/1995/october/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_05101995_address-to-uno.pdf (November 26, 2016))
- “Evangelium Vitae”
Pope St. John Paul II (March 25, 1995)
(From vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html (May 6, 2017))
- “Vatican PR aide warns Catholic blogs create ‘cesspool of hatred’”
Catholic News Service, Crux (May 17, 2016)
- “Fr. Rosica Receives Distinguished Communicator Award from Brooklyn’s DeSales Media Group”
Salt and Light Media (May 11, 2016) (Includes full text of Fr. Roscia’s remarks)