Friday, February 03, 2006

Catholics and Chastisement

There are those within the Church who absolutely reject the idea of chastisement and those prophecies which predict either a great chastisement or various lesser chastisements such as natural disasters. Their objection is always expressed thusly: "a loving God would not 'punish' His creation with a chastisement.

An example of this confusion may be found in an article entitled "My Redeemer Lives: Tragedy, Disaster, and the Justice of God" in the February edition of The Word Among Us magazine. The author of this article, after referring to the multiple disasters in New Orleans and the earthquake and the tsunami which followed it in the Indian Ocean, writes: " should we think about these things? Does Scripture really teach that God punishes us with earthquakes and floods and hurricanes? Does the Church teach that God sits back impassively while we suffer at the cruel hands of Mother Nature? Of course, the answer to both questions is a resounding 'No.'" (p. 5).

Of course, when you pose those questions, the answer is definitely a "resounding no." But perhaps those are the wrong questions? What does Sacred Scripture really teach us about chastisement? Does chastisement really represent a "punishment"? Or is it something else entirely? We can best examine this issue through the analogy of parents who actually love their children and who wish what is best for them. Such parents will employ both the carrot and the stick to encourage their children to do the right thing. When the carrot isn't working, parents will very often turn to the stick because of their love for their children. Does not Sacred Scripture teach us that, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently)" (Proverbs 13: 24). And in Hebrews 12: 6-12, we read: "For the Lord disciplines him who he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed."

We see how earthly parents discipline and chastise us for our own good, what makes us believe that things would be any different in God's relationship with all of His children? Are we prepared to accept what God's Holy Word has to say on this matter or do we believe ourselves to be "wiser" than that inspired Word?

If and when God permits a chastisement, He does so out of His Divine Mercy. He permits chastisements to come as a correction more than a "punishment" because He loves us!

Until next time,
God love you
Paul Anthony Melanson


Anonymous said...

Our secularized society rejects the supernatural and the whole concept of sin. In this respect, our society mocks God and His Commandments. It seems like there is a big push in the Church to convince people that God doesn't really act on our times. There are a lot of Catholics who are really Deists. They believe that God created the world and the universe but no longer involves Himself in our affairs either directly or indirectly.

My God is different. He is a God of miracles even today and He cares about what we do or fail to do. He maintains a personal relationship with every member of His creation.

It's small wonder that those who reject this appear so miserable. If they believe God doesn't "get involved," it means He doesn't really care.

Anonymous said...

I've read The Word Among Us and it can be a good magazine with some worthwhile articles. But often the pieces are just liberal claptrap.

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