Friday, September 22, 2006

Fr. James V. Schall: Is Christianity a Comfortable Religion?

Homiletic and Pastoral Review does not put many of its articles on the web and I like to bring them to your attention when they are there. This was another outstanding article by Fr. James V. Schall. A general reminder, HPR does have an archive of many articles they have featured - all high quality. I usually print out an article and take it with me for periods of waiting. HPR is published by Ignatius Press.

Right thinking about the Incarnation
seems to be the single
most important issue behind our contemporary turmoil.

Is Christianity a Comfortable Religion?
By James V. Schall

“Make sure that no one traps you and deprives you of your freedom by some second-hand philosophy based on the principles of this world instead of on Christ.” —Colossians, 2, 8.

“Jesus’ mission concerns all humanity. Therefore, the Church is given responsibility for all humanity, so that it may recognize God, the God who for all of us was made man in Jesus Christ, suffered, died, and was raised. The Church must never be satisfied with the ranks of those whom she has reached at a certain point or say that others are fine as they are: Muslims, Hindus and so forth.” – Benedict XVI, Ordination Homily, St. Peter’s Basilica. [1]

“The world cannot hate you, but it does hate me, because I gave evidence that its ways are evil.” —John, 7, 7.

The Rector of our Community, at a graduation Mass, made the amusing, but well-considered remark that, in preparing homilies, priests are well advised these days never to mention the word “love,” unless it actually appears in the scriptural text assigned by the Church, not themselves, to be read for that occasion. Of course, we all recognize that love stands at the heart of Christian revelation. No one wants to change this, unless, of course, he wants to change the premises of Christianity itself, which in fact not a few do. We know that Benedict XVI’s first encyclical was entitled, Deus Caritas Est, that Christ told us “to love one another as I have loved you.” Sometimes we are not told that Christ’s love brought him to the Cross. By implication, he is telling us to expect the same. How many, we wonder, actually want a Christianity that leaves out the difficult and unpleasant parts? To do this reconfiguring is just another way to make, by ourselves, our own religion and reject the one revealed to us.

We have all also heard stories of good people who have been to parishes in which “love” was the only topic ever preached for the last thirty years. The long-suffering congregation never heard mention anything serious about sin, mortal or venial, hatred, persecution, law, penance, mortification, discipline, repentance, or the “thou shalt nots.” These latter are prominently found in the actual Scriptures we are to read and in the works of the Fathers of the Church who followed and explained them. We sometimes have to wonder how these difficult teachings ever got into Scripture in an age in which everyone is said to be saved and everyone should tolerate anything, whatever it is. Of course, I also have heard tell of the pastor who managed to get something about birth control or finances in every sermon he has preached for the past quarter-century.

continue reading Fr. Schall at the HPR website...

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