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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Preach from the Rooftops: Evangelium Vitae at Twenty

Preach from the Rooftops: Evangelium Vitae at Twenty

So how do we preach the truth to a world that can be vehement in denying that there is such a thing as Truth? I remember reading a book years ago about beings who started out perfect until they stumbled into this paradox of lying. Why a paradox? Because they use words which, while intended to convey only truth, can be bent to convey lies instead. But I think today's challenge to evangelization is not only this paradox caused by relativism. Not only can people repulse the truth by clinging to the notion that objective truth does not exist -- itself a paradoxical assertion -- but we've been fed too much from the font of feelings. It's akin to relativism, but it is its own form of poison: one's emotional instincts are equal or superior to one's reason. While I think we do benefit from being honest with ourselves as far as how we feel about things, it is the gravest mistake to let emotions take the wheel.

How do we evangelize such a crowd? I think we can simply take it on faith that all we can do is to proclaim in season and out of season, and let the seeds fall where they may, all the while building families and friendships and communities in all charity and hope. It's the formula that the Apostles left us with and which the Church had applied across the generations all over the world. It works or (sometimes) it doesn't. A wise man somewhere wrote that our mission is to be faithful, not effective. I have the power, by God's grace, to be faithful. The effectiveness is largely out of my hands anyway.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Adulteress and St. Mary Magdalene

Today the Gospel reading was about the adulteress that was brought before Jesus in order to trap him (John 8:1-11). I was reminded of how the identity of this woman had often been conflated with St. Mary Magdalene. Then it struck me that whoever this woman truly was, this shameful past can be seen, in the end, as a cause for joy and rejoicing - not because such a past is in any way glorious, but the victory of mercy and repentance is. I think it is entirely human to dwell on a given moment but Christians are called to take a longer view. St. Josemaria Escriva refers to enlarging one's view until it is universal or Catholic. I think I need to start doing so in earnest, because I am often incredibly short-sighted. If the notion of sin should ever pop into my head, I should probably immediately think "Mercy!" Because, seen from the other end, sin really doesn*t have the last word. I must have read that from Mark Shea somewhere, or G. K. Chesterton. It is the sort of thing they had probably written about already. Not to mention, Jesus himself said this to the woman to tie off that dreadful episode: "Neither do I condemn you.. Go and sin no more." It slso seems fitting to point out these last words (among others) of his as he was dying: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."