Monday, January 24, 2011

Engaging with Pro-Choice Advocates and Christian Fundamentalists

CAN Be Like Teaching a Pig to Sing

The reason why one should never try to teach a pig to sing is that it is a waste of time and it also annoys the pig.  For Catholic Christians committed to their faith and animated by that faith to honour life and their faith, engaging with those committed to fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and those committed to pro-choice beliefs tends to waste time as well, while begetting just another flurry of platitudes and rhetoric.  Pro-choice advocates and Christian fundamentalists make strange bedfellows, and indeed they are, by and large, but their animus towards the beliefs that we, as Catholic Christians hold dear is very similar.

This past year, I have engaged in dialogue with a Christian fundamentalist over at Father Tim Moyle's blog "Where the Rubber Hits the Road".  It proved to be a waste of time, and bore similar characteristics in responses to engaging pro-choice folks over there, as well.  Both groups seem inclined to feed you their rhetoric; in the case of the fundamentalist it is focused on the errors of the Catholic Church.  In the case of pro-choice folks, they label us as anti-choice, and then carry on their spiel about the evils of denying women the choice to do what they want with their own bodies.  In both cases, they tend to get it wrong, factually.  So, attempting to be honest and faithful to our Catholic heritage and beliefs, I have presented the truth as we/I understand it.  There, a real similarity surfaced, that I found curious.  Both groups when presented with something that does not fit their belief system, gloss right over it and move on to the next item on their list.

But, it brings me back to what this is all about.   Ephesians 6:12, in the New International Version translation, says this:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 
So, engaging as I have, for me at least, is a lot like taking a pocket knife to a gun fight, where the only reason you had the pocket knife in the first place was to clean under your nails.

My visits to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, including the one I will set out for in a few minutes have reminded me that Jesus is what this is all about.  As Catholic Christians, we have Jesus as Our Lord and Saviour.  BUT, in that faith, we also have the Eucharist, which the catechism, referencing Lumen Gentium, the papal encyclical, describes as "the summit and source of our faith."

When Father Clement Agamba, or Father Tim Moyle, another priest or deacon, or an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist presents me with Holy Communion, he or she says: "Body of Christ."  I respond: "Amen."  It is so, nothing less.  It is Jesus present here in this place, just as He said He would be.  I take a brief moment to look at that wafer of bread, now transubstantiated into the body and blood of Jesus, My Jesus, Your Jesus, and allow Him to come into me.

At SEAS, they have Eucharistic Adoration Monday to Saturday, for an extended period of time.  As I watched Father Clement prepare the altar for this Adoration, I could see the love He has for Jesus, and the love that Jack, a member of the parish, who was helping in the preparation had for Our Saviour, has for Jesus, and it started to become Clear, Crystal Clear.

Those in attendance are led in prayers to open Adoration by the priest, and then one particular woman leads us in the Divine Mercy Chaplet and other prayers.  She ends the communal part of the prayers with prayers to end abortion and for the closing of abortion mills.  And again, it becomes Clear, Crystal Clear for me.

Our greatest weapon against ignorance and bigotry is prayer.  We pray to return love where we are hated and reviled.  We pray to let Jesus shine through us so that He cannot be mistaken.  We pray for forgiveness for our sins and sinful tendencies, those things that prevent others from seeing Him in us, and blind us to Him for ourselves.  We pray to see Him in those who oppose us, for He is surely present in them.

Prayer changes things, and the first thing that must change is our own hearts, if we are to be witnesses to Christ in this world.

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