Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Pet Issues

These are themes I always keep coming back to repeatedly, the issues I "track" for me and for you. Let's take a new look at them:

Faith – It's the pivot point I use to "move" everything else. It's somewhat difficult for me to define because it is so tightly wound to my experience of God in Christ. Faith leads me to sanctify places, times, objects, peoples, and relationships, and me as a person. Faith, then, is a point of encounter with God in persons, places, and circumstances, and within my very self. Faith irradiates outward in word and action but is no mere "feeling," but rather an act of the will, a decision to see God in Christ in everything and everywhere. It starts and finishes in God. The fact that my faith is in God in Christ makes it "Christian" as opposed to anything else "out there."

Belief – It's the contents of my faith, its outer formal expression in word and in practice. I may be consciously or unconsciously aware of it and its effects on my outlook. Belief may be seen as the "outer trappings" of faith, so-to-speak. The effects, the shape of the Liturgy, the matter and the form of the sacraments, the Creed, formal prayers and blessings, sacramentals, the works of mercy, etc. may be termed "beliefs" of differing importance, yet they all shape "faith" and gives it an external expression. Faith and belief go hand in hand and throughout history, many times it's been difficult to change a belief without tampering with the meaning of "faith." Worse, sometimes "prejudice" has been confused with "belief," perpetuating unhealthy attitudes, obsolete ecclesiastical structures, or disciplines.

Orthodoxy – Means "true doctrine, teaching, or worship." Orthodoxy is a gift, a goal, an ideal. The Church has it always, and strives for it, knowing that a failure in doctrine would lead to a failure in the worship due to the Triune God alone. It's a consequence of God's own promise that the "gates of hell and death" will not prevail against the Church. It's intimately related to "belief," since it deals with the rightness or wrongness of the contents of faith. Yet, "orthodoxy" is not something that is possessed by one single Church-member, but that is hold collectively by the whole Church; one is "orthodox" inasmuch one is a member of the Church.

Orthopraxis – Means "true practice." It refers to the nitty-gritty of being a Christian. First and foremost, the key to Christian orthopraxis is Love: sacrificial Love for God others, Love seen as participation in the inner life of the Triune God leading to a virtuous life of service to others. There are other external things related to orthopraxis, say, in the liturgy, in architecture, in music, etc., but these, though important, are secondary to the commandment to Love one another as Christ himself loves us.

Church – I belong to many local, national, and professional communities and associations, but only one transcends them all and that's the Church. The Church is both the place and the community where I receive my faith and my beliefs and from her I go forth after the ite, missa est to change the world. The Church is both a natural and supernatural, even a transhistorical institution, spanning space and time both into the past and into the future. It manifests itself visibly at the global, national, local, and domestic level—the family. Each level deserves different measures of loyalty and dedication; each one provides a space for action and a support system of mutual communion and cooperation. The Church has her origins in God, constantly moving toward Him, now and in the future.

Catholicism – A note of the Church, meaning "universal." The Church is Catholic because Christianity is Catholic and in a narrow sense, because Christ is catholic, that is, He is for everyone, in every country, in every culture, in every age. Our faith is Catholic because it is to have an impact on every aspect of human life, on art, culture, politics, as well as on personal behavior. For the Catholic Christian, no area of life is to be lived outside of Christ. The true Orthodox Church either is Catholic, or is neither.

Country – Is my immediate field of Catholic Action; the place and community where I was born and where I live. The community, the land, and the resources to be forged and protected for the common good, as well as its social, economic, and governmental structures that support Freedom and Justice.

Culture – This is a notion that many ideologues, pundits, and social engineers think they understand, but don't. The dictionary has several definitions for it but these are the one I like most:

bulleta : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon man's capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.

Basically, culture is that medium we take for granted, as a given, what ensure us of adequate communication with the neighbor; that which is naturally assumed, needing no elaboration, explanation, or translation. This is the medium that I want to change, modify, or influence.

The Rights and Duties of Man – That which is inalienable because it's inherent in the Nature of Man, including the Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; and the works needed to preserve or enhance those rights in an environment of Justice.

The End of Man – Happiness in this life and in the next with and for God in Christ. It is the goal of "enlightened self-interested," manifested in service to God and to others, until the "self-interest," through contemplation and striving in faith and works is done away with, only the disinterested Image of Christ remaining in each man and woman . Faith and hope will then pass away; then, only Love will remain.

Return to Vivificat!