DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     October 4, 1999     vol. 10, no. 188


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE

      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 challenges those who would twist the Church to fit their mold rather than fitting the mold God wants us to blend into for His sake and the sake of our souls. As Pat illustrates in his column, be careful of what you wish for, you may get it and be stuck with it. That is why the lipservice that modernists, dissidents, and feminists spiel is merely a smokescreen. Reading between the lines one can easily see these groups are not interested in changing the Church for the good of God's people but for their own selfish, insecure reasons that would elevate themselves above God. They are guilty of false advertising and ultimately will get called on the carpet, and, if they're not careful, could be vacuumed up into the oblivion of the nether regions. That is the gist of Pat's column today, Dog and Pony Show!.

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

Dog and Pony Show!

        My platoon was on a tank range while another unit set up a display of the new Abrams, M-1 tank for visiting dignitaries. It was magnificent!!! Much sleeker than the M-60's we were using. Lower to the ground, faster, for a tanker or armored cavalryman, it was a thing of beauty. Going up to it, I noticed that even the armor was roughened, I guessed to make it easier to camouflage. However, when I brushed up against it, a large clump of painted, dried mud, fell off, making a very visible blemish on this otherwise pristine display. Ticked off, the officer in charge quickly got an enlisted man to 'touch up' the blemish before the dignitaries arrived. Apologizing, I later found out that, not only was it given a quick paint job, but the thing had to be towed to the site because the engine froze up. In short, it was a 'dog and pony show'. The tank looked great form afar, but if one looked closely, it was a mess. In fact, the only reason why the dignitaries knew that this was a great looking tank, was because someone said it was. (The M-1 has since gone on to prove it's worth)

        We see a lot of 'dog and pony' shows today. Things we think are true simply because someone tells us they are, but closer inspection would show us the blemishes. Thing is, more often than not, we just take another's word for it.

        In colonial America, for example, the cry to rally the people to revolt was "No taxation without representation." The facts were that representation in Parliament was the last thing we wanted. We'd be one lone voice in a large assembly. Hardly the ability to change things. So when Benjamin Franklin went to England, he was told point blank NOT to accept Parliamentary representation if it was offered.

        Today, we see much the same thing. We see and hear views and teachings which seem fine on the surface, but merely cover ignorance, error, and in some cases, deception, handed down with authoritarian ruthlessness. Now for many, they'd say I was speaking about the 'authoritarian, patriarchal' Church. But in reality, I'm speaking of the, so called, modernist, spirit of Vatican II, enlightened, tolerant dissidents.

        Now before anyone thinks I'm just being nasty, let me explain.

        We hear how we have to allow all thoughts and ideas. No problem with that, overall. The Church has always encouraged people to contemplate God, especially in respect to the times and places they live. That is the 'job' of the theologian, to help explain God to man. However, today, we hear a different voice from many theologians.

        If they make an error (no problem since everyone makes mistakes, that's how we learn), they refuse to acknowledge that they may have made a mistake. No, the Church is wrong, not them.

        This was the problem with the 'theology' of people like Martin Luther and Matthew Fox (New Age concept of the Cosmic Christ) The problem is, like Protestantism, that if 'they' are right and the Church is wrong (and 'they' rarely agree) then we don't get unity, but division and confusion. To ease this problem, many have adopted the notion that ALL views are equally valid. However, they will never accept the Church's view so obviously not ALL views are equally valid in their eyes. As one person told me, "Catholics have the right to create their own spirituality, their own theology." If that is true, then why did he call orthodox spirituality and theology wrong, and I was ignorant and backwards for believing it? IF truth is relative and then one cannot say that orthodoxy is wrong. However, if orthodoxy is true, it CAN say relativism is true. But the dissident doesn't see that. Instead they often find themselves working to isolate, ridicule, and slander the faithful Catholic. The Common Ground Project failed simply because groups like Call To Action wouldn't discuss but preferred to dictate.

        "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith; but they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men" (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

        "Pride consists in a man making his personality the only test, instead of making truth the test. It is not pride to wish to do well, or even to look well, according to a real test. It is pride to think that a thing looks illm, because it does not look like something characteristic of oneself. {The Common Man, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1950, p. 254}

        We hear such comments as "The Church is hypocritical, anti-woman, because it doesn't address issues pertinent to women." But if one looks closely, the 'issues' they really seek is the Church to change it's teachings on artificial contraception and abortion. The issue is presented as one of fairness, but, like the early revolutionaries illustrated above, fairness is not what they are really after.

        We hear how anti-woman the Church is because it won't (can't) ordain women as priests. Yet, from their own literature and conferences; "Is it a dream to get a piece of the clerical pie even if we choke on it?" (Schussler-Fiorenza; one of the co-founders of the Women's Ordination Conference) In fact, Donna Steichen reported that; "The fact is, the leadership of the feminist religious movement has not been interested in the priesthood, as we understand that term, for a long time. They're not going to take a vow of obedience to a bishop and they certainly wouldn't practice it if they did. They want a new church, a church without ordained priests, where the community can choose its own ritual leaders."

        Schussler-Fiorenza pointed out that to accept women ordination would only perpetuate a system which is unjust. Rather, they should concentrate on transforming the priesthood into "a non-sacramental office of community-ordained facilitators." So, though we 'hear' groups like FutureChurch and Call To Action advocate women priests, which draws many with it's appearance of fairness, the facts are that they really don't want it. And if they were ever given female ordination, it would be a win-win situation.

        "To ordain women is to give this rotten totalitarian system that the Roman Catholic Church has become the push in the grave," ( Shelia Briggs, a former assistant professor of women's studies and now professor of religious and social ethics at the University of Southern California.)

        Remember that passage from 2 Timothy 3: 2-5? "For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it."

        What they can't see, or refuse to see, is how the Church has always upheld the dignity of women. Not that all Catholics did, but the Church did.

        Of course, if you disagree with them, you are the one who is myopic (tunnel vision), closed minded, ignorant, etc. You will be the one belittled and ridiculed. THEY have the truth and the Church doesn't.

        The other tact is for the theologian to explain man to God. Here is one of the biggest problems we face today. Sexual sins are not a sin because…..it's healthy, it's natural, it's FUN!!! (Yes, someone actually said that to me) For many, the true test of truth is whether or not it suits them.

        "Pride consists in a man making his personality the only test, instead of making truth the test. It is not pride to wish to do well, or even to look well, according to a real test. It is pride to think that a thing looks ill. because it does not look like something characteristic of oneself.{The Common Man, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1950, p. 254}

        They speak of their conscience being their guide, that they do as they please with a good conscience. But more often than not, if one listens to them, they've killed their conscience and replaced it with one more suitable to them. We hear "I was tired of the Church making me feel guilty…I have nothing to feel guilty about…ergo." Well firstly, the Church didn't make you feel guilty, the person did, because their conscience told them it was wrong. The Church offers reconciliation, a relief from guilt. But because they refuse this, they have to kill their conscience, rather than listening to it.

        "By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:19-20).

        Or as St. Kolbe pointed out, those who are troubled by the guilt of their sins may not turn to the Church for relief, but turn against the Church. The Columbine High School tragedy is an example of this. Two boys who felt alienated take their anger out by attacking those they feel made them outsiders. The thing is, it wasn't the other kids or the school that made them outsiders, they did that to themselves.

        Now, it's logical then that many would be drawn to those who dissent. Either they like what they're being told, or they don't want to seem ignorant, so they jump on the bandwagon. It's easier to be a follower, it's nicer to have people think highly of you. So it's preferable to stand far off and see the wonderful vision, than investigate it closely. But if you invite them to take a closer look, and see that it's just a dog and pony show, they'll likely refuse and chastise you for daring call it that.

        They'll boast of their enlightenment, their tolerance, and understanding, then be intolerant of you.

        "The mind of modern man is a curious mixture of decayed Calvinism and diluted Buddhism; and he expresses his philosophy without knowing that he holds it. We [i.e., Catholics] say what it is natural for us to say; but we know what we are saying; therefore it is assumed that we are saying it for effect. He says what it is natural for him to say; but he does not know what he is saying, still less why he is saying it . . . He is just as partisan; . . . just as much depending on one doctrinal system as distinct from another. But he has taken it for granted so often that he has forgotten what it is. So his literature does not seem to him partisan, even when it is. But our literature does seem to him propagandist, even when it isn't." {The Thing, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1929, p. 120}

        G. K. Chesterton said it best: "People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad . . . The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never respectable . . . It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob . . . It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to avoid them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect. {Orthodoxy, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1908, pp. 100-101}

        As Christ pointed out, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

    Pax Christi, Pat

October 4, 1999       volume 10, no. 188


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