DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     August 5, 1999     vol. 10, no. 146


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today Pat writes about "impressions and perceptions" illustrating how we see ourselves, how others see us, and, most importantly, how God sees us. He points out that the former two are often tainted by our misconceptions and prejudices but the latter is the true barometer of how we really are. Too often, we all put more emphasis on human perceptions and impressions and forget God's rightful vision of our souls - the only "impression" that counts. Employing excellent syllogisms, backed by Sacred Scripture, Pat cuts through the chaff and clutter thrown at us by politically correct rationalizers and modernists trying to make excuses for their own failings. He succintly points out that of the three pair of "eyes" - ours, others, and God's - only the Almighty's can see clearly. True twenty-twenty vision means 100% focused on living God's Will as he points out in his column this week Three Lives.

          If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at Padraic42@aol.com

For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives

Three lives

        The opening lines of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's autobiography "Treasure in Clay" reads; "When the record of any human life is set down, there are three pairs of eyes who see it in a different light. There is the life:
      1) As I see it.
      2) As others see it.
      3) As God sees it.

          No one, I would imagine, would see their own life as a waste, as evil. No doubt, not even Adolf Hitler nor Josef Stalin probably saw themselves as evil incarnate. We all have a rationalization of what we are and why we are. The mother who goes to an abortion clinic isn't doing this for evil reasons but out of concern, what she feels is right and necessary. The homosexual or heterosexual having illicit relations with their partners, aren't sinning but engaging in a natural, healthy, and loving relationship. We can all point to someone else and say, "I'm not as bad as……" or "I'm a good person, better than……" If we were to listen to ourselves, we're all saints destined for Heaven.

          How others see your life is another story. No doubt, someone is saying "I'm not as bad as….." and be referring to you. To militant homosexuals you may be a homophobic, gay basher. To feminists, a sexist, patriarchal, Neanderthal. To modernists, you may be seen as an ignorant sheep being led apart from human reasoning. We have Christians who also reverse that, and consign all of the above to the nether reaches of hell. If we were to listen to what others said about us, we'd all be consigned to hell.

          Then there is our life as God sees it. He sees our inner heart. He sees and knows whether we are rationalizing or truly believing what was taught to us. He is the merciful AND just Judge. Modernists and dissenters want to see Him only as a merciful Judge, the notion of justice missing from Him. Thus, whatever they do can, and will be forgiven them. They parrot the saying, "I cannot envision a loving and merciful God sending anyone to hell." Thus, hell must not exist, but is rather a fairy tale designed to scare the unenlightened, the ignorant, the easily led, into total obedience to a man made institution, the Church.

          On the other extreme is the faction which sees God as only a great and terrible Judge ready to render terrible and eternal punishment for the slightest infraction. Some feel that they escape this only by saying a few magic words, "I accept Jesus as a my personal Lord and Savior" by which it doesn't matter what we do, we'll go directly to Heaven. (So much for God being All Just) The idea of a merciful God is lost to them. But how does the Church reconcile these two positions? How is God both merciful and just?

          The Church teaches that a person who commits a sin without honestly knowing it was a sin is guilty of venial sin. Wrong, yes, but not deserving condemnation. However, the person who knows an action is a sin and commits it anyway, with no coercion, is guilty of mortal sin. And mortal sin is deserving of eternal condemnation since we are saying no to God, repeating what lucifer said to God, "I will not serve." It is then we who separate ourselves from God, it is then we who condemn ourselves, preferring hell to Heaven.

          "If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal" (1 John 5:16-17).

          It must also be known that mortal sin isn't just restricted to the seven deadly sins, as some seem to think.

          Someone once wrote that we may well be surprised to see who enters into Heaven and who doesn't. The Church speaks of the conscience being the ultimate guide, but this teaching has been distorted to mean any kind of conscience. The Church refers to an 'informed' conscience. Consider the person who commits a crime without knowing it, or due to extenuating circumstances? He is still liable to the law, but not the full extent of it. Hence the person who is guilty of manslaughter, and is sorry for having done it, will not receive as severe a sentence as the person guilty of 1st degree murder, and not being sorry.

          The person raised to believe that the earth is flat cannot be condemned for that belief, even though it is wrong. So it may well be that, for example, the homosexual who has been 'taught' that his active participation in that lifestyle is good will not be condemned for his sin. (Though a punishment may well be called for...Purgatory.) However, for the person who taught him that? Consider the following: "… but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).

          Conversely, we read, "My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20).

          But for many, the conscience they use is a 'dead' conscience, not an informed one. When we hear people say that the Church must change it's teaching to suit their wants and desires, it isn't from an 'informed' conscience, but a dead one. Their informed conscience tells them that such and such is a sin, but their dead conscience demands their own way.

          Justice would say that they receive what they request, to go their own way, apart from God. And eternity apart from God is hell.

          However, we must also be careful not to think too highly of ourselves. Scriptures are full of examples of those who did so. They could do no wrong since they were the 'sons of Abraham', they were better than the publicans (tax collectors), the harlots, the sinners. "What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" 'They said, 'The first.' Jesus said to them,' "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him" (Matthew 21:28-32).

          The mob who brought the adulteress to Christ was correct in pointing out her sin, but they seriously erred by condemning her. This was their 'sin'. "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (Matthew 18:15-17).

          We must not take pride that we are not committing some sin, for the chances are we are guilty of another. This doesn't absolve us from trying to help our brothers and sisters see their error, just be aware of our own and do something about it. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:1-4).

          So, if we judge ourselves only by how we see ourselves, we are guilty of pride. "Pride consists in a man making his personality the only test, instead of making truth the test. {The Common Man, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1950, p. 254}

          If we judge by how others see us, then we are doomed to trying to live up to their visions of themselves. "It is pride to think that a thing looks ill. because it does not look like something characteristic of oneself." (Ibid)

          But where we need to judge ourselves is in how God sees us. If we do this, not only are we concerned with our own short comings, but with others as well. "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives Me;" (Matthew 18:5).

          If we see our lives as God sees it, then we won't be like the Pharisee who boasted how good he was before God, but will rather be like the publican who repeatedly asked for God's mercy. And will join our voice to his saying, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."

      Pax Christi, Pat

August 5, 1999       volume 10, no. 146


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