From readers – August 24, 2017

| August 23, 2017 | 9 Comments

Costs of the Reformation

The article “Unity but truth” (July 27) featured the founder of the Protestant “deformation” that divided Christianity into two hostile camps for 500 years. Throughout biblical history, God chastised his people when worldly pursuits became dominant: The deluge, Babylonian captivity, the destruction of Jerusalem ending animal sacrifices to this day, the Eastern schism and then, the most world-changing events, the revolt of Luther and Henry VIII, throwing Catholic Europe into political and social turmoil, culminating in the Thirty Years’ War, bloodshed, disunity and endless religious fractioning that ended, for many, the eucharistic sacrifice as offered at Mass the previous 1,500 years after the Last Supper, changing bread and wine into his body and blood (Jn 6:51, 61). The latest chastisement can be seen in the July 27 edition’s letters to the editor calling for Catholic teaching to accommodate contemporary worldly whims, [as well as] adulterous marital arrangements, abortion, the collapse of social restraints, massive clergy and lay exodus, scandals, denial of the true presence by most Catholics as commissioned by messiah Jesus, to be offered till he comes again.

Everett Dehmer
Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul

Judge not

I hate waiting in lines. Unless there is just a single line for people who want to check in or out, get gas, pay for their groceries or whatever, I always choose the wrong line. I inevitably end up behind someone who is sure they have the exact change — if only they can find it, or someone who can’t find their credit card, or someone who doesn’t quite understand why they can’t use a coupon that expired three weeks ago.

Given my abhorrence to waiting in lines, you can perhaps appreciate how surprised I was to read the letters to the editor in the Aug. 10 edition of The Catholic Spirit. The issue they were writing about concerned an Illinois bishop’s decision to prohibit Catholics in same-sex marriages from receiving Communion or having their funeral in a Catholic Church. One of the writers was clear that God “does not have a place in heaven for those who decide his rules are outdated and don’t fit the current whims of individuals.” Another suggested that “those who claim they are loving others by allowing forbidden practices may just be loving them into hell.” As I read these comments, I couldn’t help but think that these writers had found a way to expedite the judgment line at the end of world.

This is pure genius. I am surprised that no one thought of this before. By narrowing down the issues that Jesus articulated in Matthew 25:31-46 to a single question: “Did you question/wonder about/believe in same sex marriage?” — in effect, by doing some pre-judging in this world — it will save God time at the end of the world. In fact, the line at the judgment at the end of the world should move along quite swiftly. We won’t have to worry about whether or not we fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, comforted the ill or visited the imprisoned.

Of course, though, if we narrow down the criteria for judgment to a single issue or question, it does make it difficult to explain why Jesus told that parable in the first place.

We need to be clear. The idea that we can save God time at the end of the world by doing some pre-judging here is complete nonsense. God searches our hearts, our minds and our souls, and God — and God alone — is the only one who is qualified to do any judging. And while I can’t say for sure, I suspect God is not all that appreciative of those who think it is right and proper to save time at the end of the world by doing some pre-judging here.

As for me, I am grateful that judgment belongs to God alone, and that it is something God doesn’t need any help with — however well intended. I am also hopeful that at the end of the world God will grade on a curve. I say this because the older I get, the more I realize how much in need of God’s mercy I am.

Father John Bauer
Pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis

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Category: From Readers