The perils of triumphal Catholicism
If there's one truth I've repeatedly witnessed, it's that God resists the proud. And I dare-say God resists the proud even when they are right. A commenter of mine recently rebuked me for an attitude of religious superiority and after reflecting on her complaint, I agree that some of my YAY! CATHOLICISM! posts have come off as prideful.
I realize that I need to guard against an attitude of triumphal Catholicism because it walks dangerously close to human pride.
My journey into Catholicism was fraught with stumbling-blocks, not the least of which were rah-rah Catholics who never missed an opportunity to remind everyone that their Church was the One, True Church.
Now, even if the Catholic Church really is what it claims to be--this truth is not well-served by prideful wagon-circling and crowing proclamations of Catholic awesomeness.
Why? Because God resists the proud--even if/when they are right.
Orthodoxy is vitally important but not at the expense of love and humility.
The truth, I've discovered, usually does just fine for itself. My human pride, however, requires constant vigilance.
There's an innate human desire, I think, to be part of the winning team, to be on God's side, to "defend" Mother Church against an increasingly hostile secularist society. Especially after the public drubbing the Catholic Church has received in the aftermath of the sex scandals, it's understandable why some Catholics have resorted to a defensive posture instead of an open, peace-making one.
We have felt attacked, misunderstood and unfairly characterized in the media. We have identified external enemies: the Liberal Media, Secularist culture, "The Gay Agenda."
And yet, I think we Catholics are missing the point. So long as we are focused on external enemies, we will not be able to clearly see the enemies roving in our own midst: pride, fear, lack of charity.
As long as we are focused on fighting external enemies, we neglect to examine the internal enemies of our souls. It's easier to point out the sliver in the eye of the "Liberal Media" while ignoring the log in our eye that blinded us from seeing the sexual abuses within our own communities.
After all, if judgment begins with the House of God, what did Catholics imagine would happen if we failed to hold ourselves accountable? Only hidden sin brings forth shame. Sin that is rooted out and properly expunged is stripped of its destructive power.
I actually think that the media's broadcasting of the sex scandals was a severe mercy for the Catholic Church. It is an opportunity for reform, an opportunity to make right, an opportunity for transparency and restoration.
Which is why I am concerned when I see prominent Catholics issuing ever more dire warnings of looming disaster instead of ushering in the peace and love of Christ.
We cannot fortify ourselves against impending tragedy by issuing hysterical, panicky warnings about America's impending doom. We cannot restore and reconcile hurting souls while simultaneously beating them over the head with proclamations of our Catholic rightness.
If the world ends, it ends. If disaster strikes, it strikes. If the Catholic Church loses it's tax exempt status (oh! the horror!), so what?
If the Catholic Church is persecuted, treated unfairly, forced to close parishes and resort to private, secret meetings---SO WHAT?
This is nothing worse than what early Christians suffered.
The solution to the brokenness in our world today is not louder proclamations of orthodoxy or clarion calls to defend the truth.
The solution to our anxious, fearful, alarmist world is love and humility.
This is where Catholics--and especially Catholic bloggers--ought to be different from the clanging cymbals of fear.
If we have orthodoxy but have not love, we are noisy gongs only adding to the cacophony of discord, strife, worry, fear, anger.
If we have triumphal Catholicism but have not love, we may actually hinder earnest souls from entering the Church because they are turned off by our prideful attitudes.
And if we understand all Catholic mysteries and have all faith but have not love, we are nothing.