Monday, September 10, 2012
On being an orthodox Catholic
From an Atenean of the old school:
By Minyong Ordoñez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sunday, August 26th, 2012
It’s not easy to be a doctrinal Catholic today, one who adheres to the official teaching of the magisterium of the church. It’s easier to be a relativist, the obey/disobey type, depending on one’s pleasure and convenience.
A myriad of forms of independent thinking are peddled today in the public square of our pluralistic society. Media churns out messages and ideas, uncensored for intellectuality or banality. Desktops and laptops empower the youth to think and speak in personalistic terms.
Social issues interpreted by the State to legislate laws run in conflict with the Church’s doctrines, i.e. birth control, divorce, same-sex marriage, etc. When the debates ensue, the thin line between the separation of Church and State becomes thinner and thinner, to the point of intellectual and emotional violence.
Intense pressure is brought upon the Church by the State acting in alliance with human rights advocates, feminist groups, and opinion pollsters who produced high approval scores on populist demands.
A locked-horn impasse happens because government bureaucrats and the Catholic hierarchy come from different disciplines and visions. The state focuses on the temporal needs of its citizens. The Church prelates act as both guardian and agent of temporal and spiritual needs, “the good shepherd to the flock.”
This temporal and spiritual unity, when dichotomized, have been the crux of the Church’s problems since the dawn of history, when Christianity was at the forefront of creating a civilization based on religion, arts and sciences, education, and governance, while the tribes of barbarians pillaged, plundered and raped in Asia minor and Nordic Europe.
The current conflict between our lawmakers and the Catholic hierarchy serves as the theater for debating the passage or non-passage of the state-crafted RH Bill. Congress believes there’s no dearth of data, opinions and mission statements advanced by both anti- and pro-RH sectors. All angles have been scrutinized, and all arguments have been processed. It’s time to end the debate and incorporate amendments. The next step is the vote.
The Catholic position is disadvantaged when the full force of the government—the executive, the legislative and the judiciary—all under the payroll and servitude of the coexisting ruling elite, find a common cause, while the Church stands solitary in the defense of doctrinal matters and moral issues. The Church hierarchy is mocked as sclerotic, medieval and irrelevant to the needs of modern times. This mockery is bearable for the bishops, just as the crucifixion of Jesus was bearable for the Son of God.
Although a sinner like most men, I am anti-RH Bill. I revere the sanctity of human life, life at any stage and in any form. My respect for life’s sanctity stems from my religion (obedience to God’s will), psychology (faculty to love), physiology (fecundity to procreate), and the transcendent nature of man and woman. (More things are wrought in prayer than this world dreams of).
I admit to shock and dismay when TV talk show host Karen Davila hurls questions to the public like, “Is it moral for a child to be born and grow up soiled with dirt, heavy with bloated stomach, breathing hard through mucous-clogged nose, sleeping with empty stomach in shanties along the riles? Is it moral for poor women with unwanted pregnancies to die on the cot of a quack abortionist and incompetent health centers?”
How visceral! Just as visceral as when I weep for the murder of the holy innocents perpetrated by a government official right after the first Christmas. Just as visceral as the world grieving Hitler’s gassing to death millions of Jews to remove ethnic impurities in his racial cleansing. Just as visceral as all good men mourning Pol Pot’s elimination of capitalist sins in the killing fields of Cambodia. Just as visceral as God-fearing Filipinos weeping over thousands of dead fetuses flushed down in the sewages of our hospitals and clinics when the RH becomes a law. To all these, my conscience says no!
My repugnance for social engineering schemes committing murder to solve social injustice originates from my primeval instinct, an instinct that God wrote in the hearts of men—fear of God and trust in His mercy and wisdom.
“Do not be afraid!” the beloved Pope John Paul II told us. Catholics can find strength and comfort in the power and invincibility of their faith, the same power and invincibility that gave courage and strength to the early Christian martyrs fed to the lions by Nero, the same courage that allowed the apostles and saints to die for their faith.
The Catholic Church is fully equipped with the mechanisms to vanish evil and fear in our hearts. Our access to the sacraments of confession and Holy Eucharist cleanses us from our sins, and enables us to have a living and continuous relationship with the living God Jesus Christ. Frequent prayers and reception of the sacraments give us the humility and courage to obey God’s commandments.
The Church will never go down in defeat. The blood of martyrs nourished it. The Petrine authority granted by God guarantees that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
For us Catholics, it’s virtues, not vices that win the end game. The freedom we enjoy is not about being free to commit sin against God. Our freedom is all about being free to do good in the name of God.