Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What is Truth? What is Charity?

This past Sunday I sat in New Orleans' famous St. Louis Cathedral for Mass, knowing that the many arguments, misunderstandings, objections, and lukewarmness over the HHS Mandate (pdf flyer) swirled outside the Cathedral with the same menancing gray clouds of impending doom that lurked in the rain-clouded skies over New Orleans that day.
What is the HHS Mandate? (pdf flyer)

In the middle of our passion and needs and, certainly, our misunderstandings, we need to step back and remember this quote of Elizabeth Foss (along with supplied links). It is worth highlighting:
"Our goal is to defend religious freedom, yes. But our greater goal is to bring souls to God."

"Our  greater goal is to bring souls to God." That is the ultimate, end result. The arguments, misunderstandings, and objections of today are temporary time interruptions. What matters is not how the person feels right now, today, at this very moment but how they will feel on the day they die.

They may not agree with us today but your example will set the tone. They may make their mother weep bitter tears for many years (St. Augustine's mother did). They might hate the Church and persecute Christians (St. Paul did). They may have an abortion today (Catholic Worker Dorothy Day did). They may deny knowing their Lord (St. Peter did). They may have a child out of wedlock (Thomas Merton and St. Augustine both did). They may embrace the world and all it has to offer over their faith and all it has to offer.
But these are temporary time interruptions within the span of a lifetime.

Am I saying that we shouldn't speak to them? That we shouldn't give our friends the Truth?

I am not saying that. I'm only sad at how many words are being used and not enough charity is being made through action. And I love words. I write them often.

And words can hurt and sting and tear down. But words can prove meaningless in the end. Their wounds, however, remain. That is where charity steps in. We do not base our faith and the Truth on our fleeting feelings of today but we must remember that those feelings are part of our humanity, as delicate as it is.

Angry, hurtful outbursts from passionate Christians have been known to isolate and turnaway lost sheep for a lifetime. Hurling words and stones only scare the sheep away. They run off in another direction, into the unknown, into a field where someone or something else lurks, waiting for them.
Are we there with a gentle approach? Is the ringing of our dinner bell more conducive than empty words released?

Relationships are built on love, not hate and indifference.

Everyone thinks they have the Truth and speak with bold Charity.
Few do.

We speak of having the Truth, yet do not have the truth in our own lives. We self-proclaim the Truth but do not constantly seek knowledge of it.

We forget (or fail to observe) that "God opposes the proud...even when they're right." ~ Fr. Mike Scanlan, shared by Scott Hahn.

I am not opposed to Truth. But, like Pontius Pilate, my weak tunnel vision questions, "What is Truth?" In an OCD moment, I repeatedly bath my hands in the clear water, then dry them of ever finding that Truth because I live in a world where everyone thinks they have found the Truth. Few have. I cannot walk the path of others who "think" they have found the Truth. I must follow the Truth. Or, at least, trust that He will guide me back to it when I loose my way or take a detour. :-)

I only know that there is one Church I can follow because it is the one authority left to me by Christ. He did not leave me orphan. Like a good brother, He left me a recording (the Holy Spirit), a road map (Scripture), a mother (the Church), and a thick family album full of family stories and recipes and celebrates and feast days (Tradition), as well as a family who fights and feasts, lives and loves (the Communion of Saints).

I embrace my Catholic faith wholeheartedly because it has so much to offer. And, in over 2,000 years, it has never misguided its children in the things that truly matter.

So I don't worry about the Truth as much as the Charity which comes from my lips. Lately that has been my main focus...everything done in Charity because Charity remains even where Truth collides
And what is Charity?

My good friend Monica supplied these thoughts and quotes:
"In light of our president saying he likes to follow charity in his life of faith...

Fulton Sheen says, "Charity is in the will, not in the emotions or passions or senses. In human love, feelings have their places, but unless they are subordinated to reason, will and faith, they degenerate into lust, which wills not the good of the one loved, but the pleasure of the one loving."

"St. Augustine says,“Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”
"St. Therese says, "I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors' defects--not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues."

"Many like to think of charity as just what St. Therese says, which is beautiful, but all three of these really make charity beautiful, I believe." ~ Monica

And this quote by St. Robert Bellarmine sums up all three nicely: "Charity is that with which no one is lost, and without which no one is saved."

One must find peace with knowing what type temperament they have in order to be charitable and share the Truth.

I have struggled, and searched, and prayed for that wisdom and, in a blindsided way found it. And, when finding it, was graced to be given a To Do list regarding the HHS Mandate and my small place in God's world.

More on that later.

In the meantime, how have you found your peace with God's Truth? How do you believe Charity is given and spread?

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