jeudi, novembre 20, 2008

Charity is not kindness (part II)

We said with Cardinal Newman that Charity is not kindness and that kindness can even be a lack of charity. Many people simply want to please others and display a great kindness for that. They may have a good intention – or maybe not – but that is not the question, because a good intention does not excuse an evil act.

Cardinal Newman continues: In the sacred province of religion, men are led on, - without any bad principle, without that utter dislike or ignorance of the Truth, or that self-conceit, which are the chief instruments of Satan at this day, nor again from mere cowardice or worldliness, but from thoughtlessness, a sanguine temper, the excitement of the moment, the love of making others happy, susceptibility of flattery, and the habit of looking only one way, - led on to give up Gospel Truths, to consent to open the Church to the various denominations of error which abound among us, or to alter our Services so as to please the scoffer, the lukewarm, or the vicious. To be kind is their one principle of action.

These words were written in the XIX century, but they are more than ever current. If pleasing leads us to open the Church to error and to alter our liturgy, then pleasing is a sin and kindness is a betrayal of faith and of charity. In many parishes, there are some Liturgical committees that spend hours to discuss how to welcome people who come to Mass. And they rearrange the Liturgy according to their own thoughts about charity. The idea is that everybody should feel the warm welcome given during Mass. But if you try to explain to them that they might be wrong and that it is certainly not what the Church desires for her children, I bet that their kindness would disappear very quickly.

I do believe that the need of many Christian communities to find some ideas, for not saying tricks, in order to adjust the liturgy, is precisely a consequence of the loss of charity, the true charity that is one of the three theological virtues infused by God. The book of the Acts of the Apostles shows us the connection between the liturgy and the virtue of charity. (Ac II, 42-47) Fide, spe, caritate colendum Deum, Saint Augustine says. God is to be worshipped by faith, hope and charity. We believe with the Church that the entire liturgy has the Catholic faith for its content (Pius XII)¸ which is expressed by the epigram ‘lex orandi, lex credendi’ – the law for prayer is the law for belief. But we can expand this epigram to include ‘lex amandi’ and even ‘lex cantanti’ (but this is another topic, for later if God wills) – the law for love and the law for singing. In the sacred liturgy we profess the Catholic faith explicitly and openly, Pius XII says again. The liturgy is also a continuous exercise of hope and charity. (Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei).

A liturgy that would not be based on the theological virtues would not be truly meet and just, nor right and helpful to salvation. It would be a work more human than divine and its consequence would be a diminution of faith, hope and charity among the Christian people, which would bring a greater desecration of the liturgy. In fact, it is a kind of vicious circle that finally leads to the abandon of the supernatural virtues. Satan’s strikes on the liturgy are wrenching and we have not finished seeing their effects after decades of liturgical abuses. And because the law of prayer is intrinsically linked to the law of belief, it is really not surprising that we unfortunately see today apostasy within the Church. The Catholic recent vote in favor of Obama is just one sign among many others. This is what happens when charity is replaced with kindness. The Christian principles simply vanish… and during this time, souls dash for hell.

More than ever, it is necessary for those who have kept the true faith to love more. The charity of the first Christians was so burning that we could recognize them by it. Look at how much they love each other!
To be continued...

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