Saturday, September 20, 2014
By Father Paul Nicholson
The Anchoress, aka Elizabeth Scalia, has posted a very sugary and entirely inadequate article (I have created a link through donotlink.com so you won’t be giving her extra hits by viewing her article!) http://www.donotlink.com/box7 on her private interpretation of the Holy Father, Pope Francis' remark: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense.” The Roman Pontiff made the passing, and ambiguous, remark in a rare interview at the beginning of his pontificate and which, by the way, is non-magisterial -- that is to say, it is not binding in conscience. So Catholics are free to accept it, reject it, or interpret it any way they please.
The Holy Father had his own reasons for saying what he said and, well, it is what it is. But I refuse to accept that this is single remark defines his papacy. How stupid that would be.
The Holy Father did not explain what he meant, or about whom he was talking when he made the statement. He left it ambiguous. Of course, ambiguity is hard to live with, but it isn't the end of the world. All good, faithful Catholics can, and do, give the Holy Father the most generous interpretation of what he meant.
But not Elizabeth Scalia. She narrowly defines it, and proceeds to load upon the Holy Father the weight of her private interpretation.
She has a very specific life experience which colours her world. Sadly, she cannot keep this to herself. Instead, she claims title and privilege as supreme auxiliatrix of the Holy Father, and proceeds to tell us what he meant, and how the Church should be missionary. No doubt, she will have some who think her post correct and clever. But she presents something dreadfully foreign to our Holy Catholic Faith, a picture of the missionary impetus of the Church as a tea party ... and little else. She attempts to link this to the Incarnation of Our Blessed Lord, drawing close to the sinner and winning us by his conviviality.
Really, Elizabeth? Then what went wrong?
If Our Lord was simply drawing close to us, to draw us out of sin by his wonderful, warm, inviting personality, meeting with “us” where we were at, and learning our names and our stories -- what went wrong, Elizabeth? Jesus did talk with us, ate with us, laughed and cried with us. I dunno where he helped us to give birth or buried us, but Elizabeth, I don't think we need to be too graphic here. So why didn't people embrace Him and all profess belief in His Incarnation? I mean, if he was just settling in, to get to know people, and laugh with them, and cry with them ... why the horror of the Crucifixion? Because, Elizabeth, Our Blessed Lord drew close not to win friends, but to redeem man. The only way to save a soul is to redeem it, by offering God the holocaust of His life, and submitting in perfect obedience to His Will. He proclaimed a doctrine that was an offence to the Jews -- He made Himself God.
They flung that at Our Lord on Good Friday afternoon, unable to bear the sight of the Redeemer, a worm, and no man: “He made Himself God”.
The work of evangelization is not a public relations campaign. It is not some kind of political effort. It isn't about simply moving in with the sinner and smiling with astonishing indifference at their horrible condition. It is with affability, teaching and instructing the sinner; illuminating his ignorance and helping him grow in the spirit of repentance.
The missionary comes with the understanding that the grace of God can only be obtained by suffering and offering. God will grant the grace in so far as we offer ourselves as immolated victims for the salvation of souls. We must repeat the action of the Mass in the work of Evangelization -- we must acknowledge we are sinners; we must proclaim the Word of God in all its demanding summons to holiness; we must offer ourselves as victims with Christ; we must consecrate ourselves as a living holocaust for sin; and we must share ourselves tirelessly, not holding anything back.
Evangelization without a holocaust is proselytism. Proselytism is imagining that you can win souls for Christ without a sacrifice. It pretends that souls are won by winning arguments or, for that matter, laughing and crying with them.
But Elizabeth Scalia has a hope that we should be dumb enough not to see what she is doing. She is asking us to believe that all we need do for Evangelization is to ease off the doctrine and step up the niceness.
Really, is she expecting anyone who is Catholic to accept this? The fact is, many will accept it, because it is Evangelization without a Cross, an Incarnation without a crucifixion. And to that, her claims will fail, like so many other enthusiasts over the centuries.