Friday, March 2, 2018

"Pain and sorrow in my mind"

It's difficult to believe we're already in the third month of 2018; tempus fugit. I had a good intention of posting one more time by the end of February but that intention fell victim to busy-ness. But then blogging not only is not a full-time job, I don't even attempt to make remunerative. Whatever I have to offer I offer for free. This also helps me keep blogging in perspective. Now in my twelfth year of putting up posts here on Καθολικός διάκονος I have learned to pace myself. One of the ways I have done that is by not chasing current events. This is not to say I don't or won't post on issues of the day whenever I think I have something to say worth passing on. Most recently, I posted on my opposition to hate crimes laws. Prior to that, I posted at the beginning of the #MeToo Movement.

Without a doubt, these days the news provides ample material to go on about. Flying home this morning from a business trip, I took the opportunity to re-read the Holy See's Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons. This seminal document on the diaconate was promulgated jointly with papal approval by Congregations for Catholic Education and Clergy just over 20 years ago, on 22 February 1998. The word "ideologies" is used three times in the document.

The first time "ideologies" is used the Directory makes it clear "Deacons are strictly prohibited from all involvement with political parties or trade(s) union movements which are founded on ideologies, policies or associations incompatible with Church doctrine" (sec. 13). Next, the Directory points out that deacons ought to "strive to serve all the faithful without discrimination, while devoting particular care to the suffering and the sinful. As ministers of Christ and of his Church, they must be able to transcend all ideologies and narrow party interests, lest they deprive the Church's mission of its strength which is the love of Christ" (sec. 38). Finally, the Directory notes that deacons are to grow in the love of Christ for humankind, which love "surpasses all ideologies — is thus an essential component of the spiritual life of every deacon" (sec. 49).

So, while I am not forbidden from expressing my views on the news of the day, as a deacon, I must be careful in how I do that and do it through my understanding of the Gospel as expressed by the Church's magisterium and for the sake of the Gospel. For example, pointing out that more firearms, which has been empirically proven to lead to more violence, given that violence, especially lethal violence, is contrary to the Gospel, is not an ideological viewpoint, which is why it is a viewpoint expressed by individual bishops and by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. But I agree with those who insist that a steady diet of political commentary from a member of the clergy compromises not only the witness of that cleric but potentially, at least for some, the message of salvation in Christ.

While I am on the subjects of magisterial documents and salvation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on 22 February 2018 (22 February being the universal Feast of the Chair of St. Peter), promulgated, again with papal approval, Placuit Deo. This document is a note to bishops "On Certain Aspects of Christian Salvation." It warns against two contemporary tendencies when it comes to human destiny. These two tendencies, with important caveats, are identified as Pelagian and Gnostic. The Pelagian tendency, which, believe it or not, is rather prevalent in advanced Western societies that are quite secularized, holds that you attain salvation by and through your own efforts. Without a doubt the most prevalent variant of this, "I will be saved ('go to heaven') because I am fundamentally a 'good' person." The Gnostic tendency, which is also quite widely spread and often by many who also hold a Pelagian view. Gnosticism understands salvation as something achieved when the spirit is "freed" from the constraints of the body and the material world. The Pelagian view has no need for the salvific sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Gnosticism either explicitly or implicitly rejects the bodily resurrection, which means rejecting Christ's own rising from the dead and/or its effect on us (i.e., we will also be bodily raised from the dead).

With all of that plus the fact it is Lent, a good Friday traditio, it seems to me, is Peter Schilling's "The Different Story (World of Lust and Crime)" with a video from back when making music videos was an art form:

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