Daily Archives: January 9, 2011

The Monsignor, The Lock And The Key

Unimpressed by feelings and intentions: locks and keys.

Some of you will remember an older blog post of mine about Msgr. Charles Pope, “The Monsignor with no uncertain trumpet”.
Msgr. Pope has another very interesting blog post, explaining with the usual energy a couple of concepts which, if there were more people like him around, there would be no need to explain in the first place.

This time, Msgr. Pope (I never can avoid a smile thinking of his name) deals with the issue of “good intentions”. In a world which, as I have tried to explain here, makes of individual conscience the metre of right and wrong, the intentions have become – at least in a vast part of the population – the most important criterium to decide about the morality of an action. If something is done in good faith, they reason, than you can’t blame them for their actions. Sounds fine, but it isn’t.

Msgr. Pope leads us away from the fuzzy world of “meaning well” and individual conscience and into the promised land of simply doing what is right. His explanations are utterly unemotional, but very much to the point. By reading them it is clear that, say, burning incense to Gea whilst sending positive energy to the environment is not going to help much toward salvation and how right one “feels” whilst doing this is truly, truly not going to change anything in the matter.

With almost Mundabor-like brutality, Msgr. Scalia brings examples such as these (emphases mine):

As I approach the Church door, I take out my keys and put what I think is the Church key in the lock. Now I do this with best of intentions. I think I am doing what is right, I feel that what I am doing is right. Only problem is that I put the rectory key in the Church lock. Despite all my good intentions, despite that I thought and felt I was doing what was right, the lock does not turn.

All the good intentions in the world will not make that lock turn. I may swear that I think I am right, and that I feel right. But none of those things will win the day and turn that lock. I actually have to DO what is right to get the proper result. The right key has to go in the right lock to get the right result. What I actually do is the determinative factor. Feelings, thoughts and intentions cannot win the day.

Very similar is also this one:

To get to your house you tell me to turn right on Park Ave. But I turn left. I may think you said left, I may sense or feel I am going in the proper direction, I may intend to be doing what is right, but none of that is going to change the fact that I am going 30 mph in the wrong direction and am not going to get to your house until I actually DO what is right.

I do not want to deprive you of the pleasure of reading the blog post in its entirety, but the message is clear enough: one must do what is right (and one is told what is right) to achieve the right result. If one decides not to do what he has been told to do to arrive at destination, one should not be wonder if he gets lost and never arrives. He will arrive only when he begins to do things right.

“Elementary, Watson”, I hear you say. The problem is that nowadays even the most elementary concepts are, in the mind of many Christians, so confused that no serious work can be done unless these fundamental misconception are not removed from the start.

Besides and as I have already noted here, this “he meant well so you can’t blame him”-mentality is applied with the same absence of coherent criteria already examined in the older post. A priest who leaves the priesthood, becomes the lover of a married woman and marries her after her divorce (apparently such things exist) will probably be considered fine by the secular world as they deem him to be “in good faith”, but I fail to detect in such approach anything remotely approaching Christianity.

What about Hitler, then? What about the Oklahoma City bomber? What about Pol Pot? What about the once numerous examples of cruel but ideologists dictatorships? I could go on.

Msgr. Pope once again points out to harsh realities of life which many people in the pew seem not to want to hear. The problem is, if one gives them what they want they’ll stop attending Mass anyway, because at that point they will feel free to decide that they can stay home and pray “with good intentions”.

In time, Christianity will become barely recognisable, then Christianity is based on the acceptance of a system of values and beliefs, not on the creation of one’s own.

Mundabor

 

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