Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Just a Pinch of Incense 2019

Let us not then seek relaxation: for Christ promised tribulation to His disciples: and Paul says, “All Who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12.) No noble-spirited wrestler, when in the lists, seeks for baths, and a table full of food and wine. This is not for a wrestler, but for a sluggard. For the wrestler contendeth with dust, with oil, with the heat of the sun’s ray, with much sweat, with pressure and constraint. This is the time for contest and for fighting, therefore also for being wounded, and for being bloody and in pain.

—St. John Chrysostom, Homilies On Hebrews V, #6

You might have heard of Bishop Tobin being attacked because he publicly stated that the “Gay Pride” events are incompatible with the Catholic Faith, and we should not participate in them. Or you might have seen (or been) the Christians savaged on social media for standing up for our beliefs on sexual morality. It’s ugly, it’s committing the same actions they falsely accuse us of. But it’s not anything we weren’t warned about.

The attacks we face at this time are both soft deceptions and hard attacks. We’re told, “love is love.” We’re shown books, television shows, and movies portraying these relationships as either completely accepted or horribly persecuted. The message is that there is no valid reason to oppose these relationships and whoever does so must be motivated by ignorance and hatred. Since the social and media elites declare there can be no justification for hatred, those who refuse to comply with their views must be driven out and silenced… punished until they confess their guilt and yield.

Early Christians could offer “a pinch of incense” or face persecution.
So can we… by betraying our fidelity to Our Lord, Jesus Christ

Of course, we must be certain that our behavior is not deserving of reproach. As St. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:19–20,

For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God.

But we must not confuse speaking the objective truth that “this act is morally wrong, and we may not participate or appear to give support” with speaking harshly or dogmatically. Yes, unfortunately some Catholics—including some clergy—have spoken that way. But to assume that any speech saying “X is wrong” is bigotry against practitioners of X is the “either-or” fallacy. To judge the belief of the Church based on the worst people who agree with it is the “guilt by association” fallacy. To assume that the bad behavior of some members represents the teaching of the whole Church is the fallacy of composition.

What Bishop Tobin did here was remind the faithful that we cannot burn incense at the altar out of agreement or fear. If we profess to follow Christ, our words and actions must bear witness: not just in showing love for our neighbor, but in standing up for what we believe in the face of hostility. As St. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:2–4, we must:

…proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.

When the world is wrong, we must testify to that fact, even though the world (or the elites who shape the mob) hate us for it. 

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