Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Center and Core of Our Being

G.K. Chesterton once noted that "Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved." When you pick up your daily newspaper(if you still read it) or scan the news of the day on the web, you will see the most hideous of evil actions.This past week alone there were stories on a high school teacher who was letting students come to his home for sex, and videotaping them, a man who was selling sex with his wife on Craiglist, a 15 year old who prostituted her 7 year old sister, and somewhere (I can't remember) where people were killing their children for human sacrifices. Where does this evil come from? How is it possible that in the "enlightened age" this insanity takes place? Man's nature and it's relationship to evil has run the gamut throughout history. You must guard yourself into false beliefs about it. Pelagius was a 4th century monk who set forth the notion that moral evil came from bad teaching, or a bad setting, or poor example . When you believe that ,you set up the proposition that people can be divided into the "good and the "bad." This viewpoint of which St. Augustine so brilliantly opposed, overlooks the most important understanding - that man is flawed to begin with. The opposite side of seeing fallen man is to view strictly man's depravity. Luther took this and developed the idea that we as man, were totally corrupt, and are "dung heap" that could only be covered and made to look pure as white snow before God. Calvin then propose that there are those whom are chosen and those whom are not. Catholic teaching rightfully understands that man suffers from the results of Adam and Eve's decision to disobey God and that we as their heirs - have inherited this propensity towards the "low road" in the desire to satisfy the soul (known as concupiscence). We seek what is good but our fallen nature allows us to believe that what is really not good,(in some cases even evil) appears to be good. This concupiscence is present not to take man to the depths of immorality but to make us "struggle for the victory" with the aid of God's grace. Which brings me to what I want to write about as we continue this Easter season. In reading the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28, the last chapter. I came across this, verses 16 and 17 -"The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted." Yes they doubted! Wait a minute after Christ had Risen and appeared to them some of his disciples doubted. How could this be? The parallel to this in the development of the spiritual life is this: there is a point in our life when we can acknowledge Christ and His Goodness, His Love, His gift of Salvation, but it is only viewed as external to our life and not lived in an interior way. This is typical of most Christians - their faith is seen as an external object, comparable to their work, their recreation, their finances, their relationships, it is another aspect of their being, fully present, but not different from other aspects. The disciples did not get there - the point of interior spiritual reality until the Holy Spirit fell upon them at the Pentecost. At that point (if you have never read the Book of Acts - please do so) they begin to be fully transformed and to evangelize. Our faith has to become central to everything. Paul put it succinctly when he said "It is no longer I who live but Christ lives within me."

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