Wow!! It sure was hot in Charleston, South Carolina! It’s good to be home to cool RI and OLM! Charleston is a beautiful city with lots of history and genuine Southern hospitality. However, I’d plan a visit when it’s a little cooler next time! The meeting of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors was very good. We heard from national experts and also got briefings from the Government Relations Office of the US Conference of Bishops. In addition, it is always good to discuss public policy issues with my colleagues from across the country.
We had some 35 states represented at the meeting from all way in Alaska to Maine and lots of states in between. Paul Linton, a national legal scholar on abortion law gave some insight into the current legal situation in various states as well as in the Supreme Court. We also received briefings on many of the issues before Congress and the Administration including religious freedom, immigration, poverty and health care.
We heard an excellent talk by Dominican Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, OP, a noted theologian and the Prior of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. His talk entitled, “The Common Good in the Public Square: Civility, Politics and Public Discourse,” was excellent. Father Guilbeau provided great insights and analysis about the tone and direction of politics today. We are becoming an increasingly coarse and crude society especially in our politics and most especially on social media. And increasingly there is hostile intolerance of anyone with an opposing viewpoint.
In a recent column, Father George Rutler, the noted author, writes:
“If there is no objective truth, there are no heresies. For the lazy thinker, the mellow refrain suffices: ‘It’s all good.’ The etymology of “heresy” is complicated, but it has come to mean a wrong choice. Yet, if the mere act of choosing justifies itself (as when people declare themselves ‘Pro-Choice’), then no choice is wrong. But we live in a real world, and so everything cannot be right. Thus, we have a new religion called political correctness, and anyone who is politically incorrect is accused of being “phobic” one way or another. Suddenly what claims to be liberal is decidedly illiberal, and what is called “free speech” is anything but free.
This confusion is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of creation itself. The world follows an order; otherwise all would be chaos. As God has revealed himself as its Creator, there are truths about the world that cannot be denied without illogical anarchy. Every heresy is an exaggeration of a truth. For instance, Arianism teaches the humanity of Christ to the neglect of his divinity, and Apollinarianism does the opposite. The long list of heresies with complicated names illustrates how many deep thinkers made mistakes by relying only on their own limited powers of deduction. The two most destructive heresies were Gnosticism and Calvinism, which totally misunderstood creation and the human condition. Thus, we have the romantic fantasizing of Teilhard de Chardin and the sociopathic astringency of John Calvin.
By natural intelligence, we would know God as the Designer of the universal order (Romans 1:19-20), but only by God’s revelation can we know the existence of Christ transcending time and space. By Christ’s enfleshment and the shedding of his blood on the Cross, as Saint John Paul II said, quoting Colossians, “the face of the Father, Creator of the universe becomes accessible in Christ, author of created reality: ‘all things were created through him . . . in him all things hold together.' So Christ cannot be understood as just another wise man in the mold of Confucius or Solomon. As Saint Cyril of Alexandria proclaimed: “We do not say that a simple man, full of honors, I know not how, by his union with Him was sacrificed for us, but it is the very Lord of glory who was crucified.”
Without recrimination or censoriousness, but just looking around at the disastrous state of contemporary culture, logic can conclude that, if all things hold together in Christ, without Christ all things fall apart.”
Much food for thought and reflection for all us as we seek to serve the common good! Be well. Do Good. God Bless! Go Sox!!!! Oremus pro invicem!