Thursday, July 29, 2010

More on Stuart Reid and what it means to be a Christian...

"Wherefore the Church does in every place, because of that love which she cherishes towards God, send forward, throughout all time, a multitude of martyrs to the Father; while all others not only have nothing of this kind to point to among themselves, but even maintain that such witness-bearing is not at all necessary." (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. 4, Chap. 33).

When Mr. Stuart Reid over at The Catholic Herald [an English Catholic newspaper] wrote a piece somewhat critical of the new website Protect the Pope, I responded by refuting his arguments. One concern I had was Mr. Reid's assertion that, "Catholics may one day be persecuted as Jews once were, in which case they will have two choices: either to be brave and die as martyrs or to deny their religion and join their persecutors. The Jews of the Holocaust had no such choice."

I responded to this statement by writing, "This says much about his level of faith. For the authentic Christian, there is no choice. We cannot abandon Christ."

Now Mr. Reid has written that, "Mr. Melanson should sit down in a darkened room and have a little think. One of the key beliefs of Christianity is that we have free will: No free will, no Christianity. For the authentic Christian therefore there is the choice I outline...but the Jews of the Holocaust had no such choice...They could not stop being Jews.."

Now, I never denied the reality of free will. But our free choices have consequences. This point was addressed by Peter [a regular reader of this Blog], who wrote:

"No serious Catholic would consider that a real choice Mr. Reid. Our Catholic identity is deeper than you would acknowledge. Just as Jews cannot 'stop being Jews,' the authentic Christian cannot 'stop being Christian.' We don't put on our faith and take it off as a coat. Baptism imparts a sacred character. If we use our free will to reject Christ, then we place our salvation in peril. Maybe that's a choice for you. For those of us who are Catholic in more than name, it is not."

Through Baptism, the Christian is made an adoptive member of the divine family. Which is why, "When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is that very spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God." (Romans 8: 15-16). Just as families live together, so the three Divine Persons dwell in those have received the gift of faith and who are faithful to it: "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." (John 14: 23).

Martyrdom bears witness to faith. The martyr prizes heavenly glory more than any other good, even life itself. To choose to abandon the Catholic faith and Christ Jesus to avoid martyrdom would mean placing limits on fidelity to the Lord Jesus. Which is why I wrote, "For the authentic Christian, there is no choice." The authentic Christian will not abandon the Lord Jesus or His Mystical Body which is the Church. He or she will not set limits on his or her fidelity to the Divine Master.

As Peter so eloquently put it: "We don't put on our faith and take it off as a coat." We do not abandon our Divine Family to avoid persecution or even death. Instead we keep His Word and hold onto it at all costs. Even unto death.

1 comment:

Michael Cole said...

Pope Benedict XVI has said that: "In ourown time, the martyrdom of Saint Maximilian Kolbe is perhaps the most impressive demonstration of all this. He dies for someone else; he dies amid songs of praise; he is burned, and his ashes are scattered - his whole life is destroyed, and in that very way the radical self-giving, the giving away of himself, is consummated: whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life will save it."

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