From readers – September 14, 2017

| September 12, 2017 | 2 Comments

Seeking joy

This thought in response to the recent exchange of letters: True joy comes from living a virtuous life (including Christian sexual integrity), with the hope of eternal life in Christ, our Lord and savior. Approving of others’ sins out of a misguided sense of “acceptance and tolerance” risks their eternal joy and shortchanges their ability to experience real happiness even in this life.

Debra Braun
St. Agnes, St. Paul

Christianity more than ethics

There has been a lively exchange in these pages about Catholicism and doctrine. Two points have been made: first, the Church must always affirm her whole body of teaching. Second, it is untrue to the Gospel to judge another by means of oversimplified litmus tests for faithfulness. I would add that Christianity is neither a morality nor an ethics. It’s true that there is a Christian morality. It’s true that there are Christian ethics. But Christianity itself is not the total collection of “truths” about morality and ethics (do this, don’t do that). Christianity is the devoted human response to the event of the Incarnation of God in Christ. My meeting with Christ is personal, for Christ has come to meet me as I am so as to make me something more. In a truly personal meeting I can be awakened to the other’s personal history with God. Only then can I “be Christ” for her. If I choose either condemnation or silence in the face of another’s doubt then I cancel out his personhood. But if I seek a personal meeting with the other in order to bring light to him from within his doubt — then I am imitating Christ, who does not come to condemn, but to save (Jn 3:17).

Father Byron S. Hagan, parochial vicar
Holy Cross, Minneapolis

Better fact checking

The recent front page article on water quality (“Catholics urged to contribute to state’s water quality conversation,” Aug. 24) began with the statement that half of the state’s lakes are too polluted for swimming and fishing. A quick reference to the Minnesota PCA’s website on impaired water shows that less than 10 percent of our lakes are listed as impaired. If the author of this article cannot get such a simple fact correct, why would we believe any other statement she makes? Shame on both her and the editors for failing to stop the spread of fake news.

Len Lorence
St. Pius X, White Bear Lake

Editor’s note: Unfortunately, we omitted the key qualifier that it’s in the southern half of the state that 50 percent of the lakes are often too polluted for swimming or fishing. Please see the correction on page 2 of the September 14 print edition. It has been corrected in the story online. We strive for high journalistic standards and with this mistake failed to meet them. We sincerely apologize for the error.

Share your perspective by emailing CatholicSpirit@archspm.org. Please limit your letter to the editor to 150 words and include your parish and phone number. The Commentary page does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Catholic Spirit. Letters may be edited for length or clarity.

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Category: From Readers

  • Paula Ruddy

    Thanks to Fr. Byron Hagan for his encouraging letter.

    • Charles C.

      I am honestly glad that Paula Ruddy is encouraged by the letter from Fr. Hagan. The world needs encouragement.

      On the other hand, I found the letter to be confusing and discouraging.
      Certainly, the good father didn’t intend it that way, so perhaps he or Paula Ruddy can explain it for me.

      First, “Catholic,” or “Catholicism” is mentioned only once, and that in the first sentence of Fr. Hagan’s letter. After that there are five references to “Christianity,” or “Christian.” What is gained by switching the discussion from the specific (Catholicism) to the general (Christianity)? The only result seems to be introducing a vague, cloudy, general spirituality, for the definite topic under discussion.

      “Second, it is untrue to the Gospel to judge another by means of oversimplified litmus tests for faithfulness.”

      That’s “begging the question,” Father. Anything that’s over-simplified is wrong, but if it is merely simplified then it is good. Just claiming something is over-simplified isn’t evidence that it is, that’s just one person’s opinion. Jesus comments on faithfulness, and judges it, all over the place; rewarding its presence and condemning its absence.

      And, finally, the good Father says:

      “But Christianity itself is not the total collection of “truths” about morality and ethics (do this, don’t do that). Christianity is the devoted human response to the event of the Incarnation of God in Christ.”

      Here, there is confusion in either semantics or logic. It appears that the position is “if you respond with devotion to the Incarnation, you’re good. Lists of things to do and don’t do aren’t Christianity.”

      All right, Father. Clearly, each individual chooses their own “devoted human response” when they realize that God is incarnated in Christ. Is each such response equally “valid,” or “Christian?” If someone says “This is what my faith in Christ leads me to do,” does all judgment of that act stop automatically while we applaud that person’s “devoted human response?” I hope you say the answer is “No.” But, of course, that requires us to judge the act.

      Catholicism requires BOTH the devoted human response AND the avoidance of sin and the doing of good works in accordance with Church teachings. Both must be present. If that were not the case, there would be no sacrament of reconciliation. Further, there would be no Conference of Bishops saying “Respect the Earth, Redistribute Wealth, Don’t be Racist, The Government must pay for Universal Health Care, We must allow, and pay for, anyone who wants to be in the US.” Or whatever the current issue is, concerning which the bishops want to tell us what to do or not do in order to have a “devoted human response.”

      As an aside:

      “If I choose either condemnation or silence in the face of another’s doubt then I cancel out his personhood.”

      “Condemnation or silence in the face of another’s doubt,” eh? Do you happen to know how the Holy Father is coming on with his response to the Cardinals’ dubia? And is he (or his staff) still criticizing those who offered them?

      Please, Father, recognize that there is vast confusion in the Church. We look to the Holy Father, other bishops, and priests to clear up this confusion. Don’t let us down. Speak the truths of the Church clearly, simply, and with resolve. It can be done, it’s been done before.