Monday, November 07, 2016

Saint Mary's Parish in Orange, Massachusetts: Resorting to violence to resolve conflicts is never the Christian way

In their zeal to promote the Cult of Softness and effeminacy in general, many within the Church advance a distorted notion of Christianity in which anger and violence are always and everywhere an "evil."

For example, at Saint Mary's Parish in Orange, Massachusetts, we read the following in the parish bulletin:

"As we celebrate Veterans Day this week, what should be the Christian attitude in resorting to violence to resolve conflicts?  Veterans are rightly honored for their role in defending the country, especially in time of conflict and violence.  Yet, resorting to violence as a means of trying to resolve human conflicts is not the Christian way to deal with relationships.  Jesus models the image of God in which all are valued and cherished as God's children, no matter who they are or which side they are on..."

Resorting to violence to resolve conflicts is never the Christian way?  Really?  While Jesus indicated that those who live by the sword will perish by it (Matthew 26:52), He also told His Disciples, as He gave them instructions for the Time of Crisis, "When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?" "No, nothing," they replied. He said to them, "But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked’; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment." Then they said, "Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied, “It is enough!" (Luke 22: 35-38).

One who does not have a sword should buy one.  Why?  If resorting to violence always falls short of the Christian ideal, why then did Jesus exhort His followers to buy a sword.

The Sacred Scriptures show otherwise.  In the wonderful Catholic classic entitled "My Meditation on the Gospel," published by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, Rev. James E. Sullivan provides us with the following meditation on Christian Fortitude:

"After a few days' stay at Capharnaum, Jesus and Mary and the first five Apostles made the journey to Jerusalem for the Passover. When they entered the Temple, they heard its usual peace broken by a great uproar. Men were shouting and bargaining, oxen and sheep were bleating. Jesus stiffened, His Father's house made into a market place! A fierce, set look came over His features. His hands seized some cords and tied them into a whip. His eyes never left the scene before Him. He walked forward then, arms outstretched. 'Take these things away!' He cried out. His voice was strong, yet trembling with anger. An uneasy fear came over the crowd, as His eyes burned into theirs. They hurried away their oxen and sheep, those in back urging on those in front. The money-changers alone held their ground. Jesus seized the end of their tables and sent them flying end over end. They became panic-stricken then. They grasped what coins they could and ran. Jesus stood alone in the courtyard. Peace settled again over the Temple.

My Lord, how I admire You in ths scene! We are so liable to think that being a Christian means being a weakling and a 'mouse'! How wonderful to see that distorted notion so firmly dispelled by the example of Your magnificent courage! Your Father's house was being desecrated; there was reason for the fighting - so You fought! You didn't care what they thought or what they would say. His glory was primary! Nor did it matter to You that You were alone against them all. Your courage was so great and Your cause so just that the entire crowd fled before You."

Does the cleansing of the Temple represent a failure to live the Christian ideal?  Of course not.

In a previous post at this Blog, I noted how it is possible to "be angry and sin not" (Ephesians 4: 26), something which liberal Christians do not understand. Writing for Touchstone Magazine, Dr. Leon J. Podles explains that, "..many Christians have a false understanding of the nature and role of anger. It is seen as something negative, something that a Christian should not feel.

In the sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church, those who dealt with the bishops have consistently remarked that the bishops never expressed outrage or righteous anger, even at the most horrendous cases of abuse and sacrilege. Bishops seem to think that anger at sin is un-Christian. Gilbert Kilman, a child psychiatrist, commented, 'What amazes me is the lack of outrage the church feels when its good work is being harmed. So, if there is anything the church needs to know, it needs to know how to be outraged.'
Mark Serrano confronted Bishop Frank Rodimer, asking why he had let his priest-friend Peter Osinski sleep with boys at Rodimer’s beach house while Rodimer was in the next bedroom: 'Where is your moral indignation?' Rodimer’s answer was, 'Then I don’t get it. What do you want?' What Serrano wanted Rodimer to do was to behave like a man with a heart, a heart that is outraged by evil. But Rodimer couldn’t; his inability to feel outrage was a quality that had helped make him a bishop. He would never get into fights, never rock the boat, never 'divide' but only 'unify.' Rodimer could not understand why he should feel deep anger at evil, at the violation of the innocent, at the oppression of the weak.
Emotional Deformation

The emotions that are now suppressed are hatred and anger. Christians think that they ought not to feel these emotions, that it is un-Christian to feel them. They secretly suspect that Jesus was being un-Christian in his attitude to the scribes and Pharisees when he was angry at them, that he was un-Christian when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple or declared that millstones (not vacations in treatment centers) were the way to treat child abusers.

Conrad Baars noticed this emotional deformation in the clergy in the mid-twentieth century. He recognized that there had been distortions in 'traditional' Catholic spirituality. It had become too focused upon individual acts rather than on growth in virtue; it had emphasized sheer naked strength of will. In forgetting that growth in virtue was the goal of the Christian’s moral life, it forgot that the emotions, all emotions, including anger and hate, are part of human nature and must be integrated into a virtuous life.
Baars had been imprisoned by the Nazis. He knew iniquity firsthand and that there was something wrong with those who did not hate it:

A little reflection will make it clear that there is a big difference between the person who knows solely that something is evil and ought to be opposed, and the one who in addition also feels hate for that evil, is angry that it is corrupting or harming his fellow-men, and feels aroused to combat it courageously and vigorously.
Just Wrath

Wrath is a necessary and positive part of human nature: 'Wrath is the strength to attack the repugnant; the power of anger is actually the power of resistance in the soul,' wrote Josef Pieper. The lack of wrath against injustice, he continued, is a deficiency: 'One who does good with passion is more praiseworthy than one who is ‘not entirely’ afire for the good, even to the forces of the sensual realm.'

Aquinas, too, says that 'lack of the passion of anger is also a vice' because a man who truly and forcefully rejects evil will be angry at it. The lack of anger makes the movement of the will against evil 'lacking or weak.' He quotes John Chrysostom: 'He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but the good to do wrong'..." (Full article here).

The spiritually mature Christian understands that not all anger is unjust. That there is such a thing as just or righteous anger. Such a Christian strives to control anger through prayer and by considering the example of Christ. Let's all pray for those in leadership positions in the Church. That they may come to a mature faith which is able to discern between just and unjust anger.

One shepherd [and he is that in every sense of the word] who possesses such a mature faith is The Most Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska. His Excellency has been quoted as having said, "No words that are printable, or even conceivable, are adequate to express my outrage, fury, and depression upon learning that anyone, much less a priest, would sexually molest any children. Such a thing is an unspeakable abomination. Upon hearing such things, I must confess that I am tempted to look for my shotgun and baseball bat, much sooner that I am tempted to give any consideration to a possible 'sickness' in a perpetrator. Molestation victims and their families are certainly entitled to anger. Sometimes their excessive anger and demands, while often becoming unacceptable and unreasonable, are still understandable to me."

One last thought.  The "pastoral team" over at Saint Mary's Parish says that "veterans are rightly honored for their role in defending the country," and yet, I have been treated with nothing less than contempt even though I am a veteran who served this country during wartime.  I have been ostracized at Saint Mary's. 

We must give more than lip service to honoring veterans.  We must put our words into action. 

1 comment:

Steve Leclerc said...

So according to their logic, if an Irish Catholic policeman shoots a criminal on the street to stop his aggression, he has failed to deal with the situation in a Christian manner.


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