Very interesting blog post of Archbishop Chaput (one of the best of the new generation of orthodox, vocal bishops in the United States).
The blog post focuses on the fundamental choice given to anyone of us to choose whether we want to follow Christ, or the world. But what I think makes this article particularly interesting is the frank admission that in some Muslim countries, the time devoted to their sacred texts is vastly superior to the time devoted to the same purpose by us.
This relates, of course, to the usual problem of the missing instruction of the Catholics from the part of those who should care for them in the first place: the priests; but at the same time, it stresses the fact that in the Muslim countries, this instruction effort becomes mind- and world-shaping:
They read and discuss the Koran every day, for hours each day, every day of the week until they know it by heart. Many of them can recite whole sections of the Koran without thinking. Little by little, like water dripping on a stone, it shapes their whole view of the world—what’s right and what’s wrong; what’s important and what’s not.
Now don’t get me wrong: what they do is wrong in the sense that they spend their time on the wrong texts, believing a lie. But what they do is certainly admirable in the zeal they show, in their desire to have their lives shaped by their religious convictions, instead of doing the contrary as many mickey mouse-Christians in the West try to do. In the end, my being a Christian must lead me toward seeing my entire existence and the world around me in the light of Christ’s teaching. It cannot be that Christianity becomes just something we put in a corner of our consciousness, to be used only when it doesn’t conflict with the rest of our lives.
This is why I find the discussions about what do so-called homo-marriages take away from (the only) marriage so useless: the problem with so-called homosexual marriage is not that homos will, after having been “married”, try to kill as many husbands and wives as they can. The problem is that so-called homo marriages are the contrary of what Christianity teaches and must therefore be refused by every Christian not only as a private choice, but in their very existence.
Coming back to our eagerly reading Pakistanis, the observation can be easily made that such a zeal can degenerate into fanaticism, and it rather often does. But my answer to this is that such ardent zeal can become fanaticism because they follow the wrong religion, not because it be wrong to be zealous in the first place. You just can’t be too Christian.
We live in a world which looks with mistrust at sound knowledge; a world more ready to rely on the often misguided “common feelings” – those things that everyone in one’s social group believes – than on sound knowledge recognised as truth. As a consequence, our countries are full of people sincerely claiming to believe in Christ, but who never made the effort to understand the implications of this. Muslims seem to have less of a problem with that.
Bishop Chaput puts the Christian alternative as follows:
American Catholics have the one true Word of God in the Bible. If we took just one hour of the time we waste on television every day and used it to study and pray over the Gospels, we’d be fundamentally different people, and our country and our world would be transformed.
Bishop Chaput is here referring himself to the American Christians as a whole, the majority of whom are (for the time being…) Protestants; but we integrate the encouragement with the reading of sound books of Catholic doctrine it certainly applies to Catholics, too.
To conclude, let me express once again my deep gratitude for the work of those rare determined, orthodox and vocal bishops who, like bishop Chaput, are not afraid of saying it as it is irrespective of the “hurt” it may cause in those, well, permanently hurt. If in Western Countries we would have had more bishops like him in the past twenty or thirty years, I doubt that we would be discussing euthanasia and homo so-called “marriages” now.
I woke up very early this morning (a festivity here in England, and apparently a fine day too) to hear the news that is now going round the world: Osama Bin Laden is dead, killed by a US Navy SEAL commando of 40 in Pakistan.
I won’t do anything to hide from you my sense of satisfaction, of a job well done, and of gratitude and admiration for the brave soldiers who executed this brilliant operation without even a casualty.
A short time later, in front of my hot caffellatte, I wondered how probable it was that the bastard now rots in hell. Rather probable, I would say. Nay, make it very probable. The idea that he would, on his last seconds (and we do not know the details, but from what has transpired it would appear that he has seen it coming; which again doesn’t make me sad, at all), manage to get a perfect contrition is, how should I put it, not entirely believable.
And so I was there, looking into my caffellatte in this glorious sunny morning of victory and justice, and wondering whether I should… pray for Osama Bin Laden’s soul. I pray for the dead (particularly for my dead, I admit; but for all the dead anyway) every day and this prayer is to me not only the compliance with a religious duty but a tender link to beloved people not here with me anymore; moments in which I detach myself from the cares of this world and connect in spirit to the other part of my family, those who are now past those cares, and in which I give back in a small way the endless prayers that – I am sure – several of them have prayed for me and for all those I love. Therefore, praying for the dead is something I love to come back to again and again, just because it is a tender moment.
Should I therefore, now, expressly pray for…… such a bastard? For the epitome of senseless cruelty and fanaticism? Should I pray for him, even if I am almost sure that he rots in hell and the seventy-two virgins might have – more or less metaphorically speaking – turned out to be something like, say, seventy-two angry feminists or seventy-two extremely horny sodomites?
I tried, and I failed. It seemed insincere to pray for someone you feel is in hell. It seemed like I was just making a stupid attempt at “feeling good” (I hate these things, having experienced that people who try to be good and people trying to feel good are two completely different sets of people) with utter disregard for the reality on the ground.
Still – I thought – I do pray every day the Lord that he may “lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of [His] mercy”. But this is a generic embrace of suffering humanity and, most importantly, refers to a salvation that is still possible to every one of them. I was, therefore, very unsure.
But then I reflected a bit more, and I realised (always looking at my caffellatte, still too hot to drink) that Jesus must have loved this soul as much as everyone else’s, and that his salvation was as important to him as the one of the greatest of his saints. Seen in this perspective, things changed and I could now envisage praying for him not because I think that he is probably in purgatory (which I don’t), but because after the Holy Ghost has made an effort to recover him for so many years, I can at least put an effort of mercy for a short minute.
I therefore made the sign of the cross and started: “Eterno riposo dona loro, Signore…….“; feeling at the beginning – I admit – slightly stupid in the process but going on the best I could, and repeating the exercise three times.
At the end of the prayer, a strange sensation came to me: not the one of “feeling good” (which I hate), but of a little obstacle that I had overcome: the one of not only knowing, but feeling that the person I despised most on earth was still a beloved child of Christ, a soul of infinite importance. It seemed to me that I had done my duty of forgiveness for the improbable case he has escaped hell, and that I had paid my little homage to his long-suffering Guardian Angel and to the Holy Ghost who both have, I am sure, made so many efforts to save him.
Dear readers, you know that I am absolutely allergic to good-ism and similar bollocks, and that I think that there is a time for peace and a time for war.
Still, there is also a time to tear and a time to mend; a time to kill, and a time to heal.
In this glorious day of victory and justice you may want to try, if you can, to pray for Osama Bin Laden.
It probably won’t do any good to him.
It certainly won’t do any harm to you.
Egypt has recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after Egypt found itself in the exclusive lists of the countries singles out by the Holy Father for not doing enough to protect Christians (he forgot India and Pakistan, I would say; but perhaps he thought these last two go sans dire).
The Egyptians complain that the security of Christians in Egypt is an internal matter of the Egyptian government. This might well be, but the Pope hasn’t said that he wants to run the Egyptian security policy; he has merely said that they are not doing enough.
I think, though, that a great embarrassment hides behind this uncomfortable reaction. It is not advisable for any government (particularly if relying on massive transfers from the US to stay halfway afloat and last time I looked only Israel received more transfer from the US than Egypt) to be in the black list of the Vatican and to be branded as a country not doing enough to protect Christians. I doubt that even Iran would look without worry to a similar situation but whilst Iran doesn’t have to be worried about the effect on their purse of 70 millions US Catholics, Egypt does.
Let us, then, register this little diplomatic scuffle as a sure sign that the Pope’s move will force the Egyptian government to deal with the matter rather than limiting itself to the usual whining of third world (please substitute this with the politically correct expression) fake democracies (please do it again).