Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What Would You Fight For?

This is the name of an ad campaign that ND runs during their football games. Basically, they take a cause (hunger, criminal justice, disease, learning disabilities, etc.) then show how someone connected to the university is "fighting" on the right side of the cause. See, cause they're the "Fighting Irish," so they're supposed to fight for stuff. How clever. I'm waiting for them to emphasize the Irish part and show clips from Boondock Saints.

Anyways, here's the one that ran this past weekend:

I'm sure everyone is completely breathless over how awesome this was, but let's try to take a look at it from the standpoint of Catholicism, rather than that of some indifferentist New Age-ism.

First, I'm very happy this guy isn't being tortured anymore and that he labored against causes like apartheid. I'm very sad, though, that his experience in prison left him with such radically erroneous concepts about God.

"The Spirit of God dwells within all of us," he says. Why would an allegedly Catholic university have a guy spouting this off on a commercial for the school? We know from prior commercials in the series that the university wants itself associated with the content promoted by the speaker. Can we all agree that his comment is not Catholic even in the most remote of senses? The Spirit of God lives within the baptized who are in a state of grace. It does not live within those who are in a state of mortal sin. Period. So the imam is gravely mistaken and ND has given him a public platform to espouse such views in a way that ties them to the university (and the Church as well unfortunately).

Anybody remember an ND commercial or campaign that featured people fighting for the spread of the Gospel? And no, I'm not talking about social justice causes that are devoid of evangelical content. I'm talking about something specifically directed at conversions. I don't, but I'm more than willing to be proven wrong. Perhaps something about the underground Church in China or some other group of martyrs. Today is the Feast of Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and their Companions. All of them were tortured and died for the Church of Jesus Christ. Can't have that. Instead, let's talk about the tragic case of a guy being tortured and then turning towards a false religion for his consolation.

Oh, hey. There's Desmond Tutu. That makes it ok. A faux bishop from a schismatic and heretical sect is giving the "Amen" to what the imam says. If an Anglican and an imam agree on it, it must be true. By the time this spot was over, I couldn't help but think that the whole thing was like a weird virtual Assisi meeting except Catholicism wasn't invited. The worst part is that whoever vetted this thing for the university probably had the same thoughts and smiled when they saw the end result.

Peace among religious people is a great goal. However, let's keep in mind that false religions are a hindrance to salvation and hence bad. In this sense, there can be no peace among religions. Truth always strives against error. For those who proclaim the Truth to simply adopt the "I'm ok/you're ok" version of the world is not only hypocritical but monstrous in its disregard for the souls of their neighbors.

What is ND fighting for with these spots? Probably money and the applause of the world.


Anonymous said...

Can you point to any passages in Church teaching that support the claim that "The Spirit of God lives within the baptized who are in a state of grace. It does not live within those who are in a state of mortal sin. Period."

Throwback said...

Just flipping through the Catechism, there's #1265 which says:

"Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature,"69 member of Christ and co-heir with him,70 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.71"

If it makes them a temple of the Holy Spirit, then they wouldn't have been such before. See also Leo XIII in Divinum Illud Munus but I don't remember where.

This reception of the Holy Spirit infuses the soul with sanctifying grace. CCC #2023

Sanctifying grace is what makes us pleasing to God. #2024

Mortal sin deprives us of sanctifying grace. #1861

Hence, we are no longer pleasing to God and worthy of damnation. #1861 and 1033

Since we've severed our communion with God, it's pretty clear that the Holy Spirit isn't dwelling in us while we're in a state of mortal sin. Think of it this way. Mortal sins are called that because they bring death to the soul. The Holy Spirit is "the Giver of Life." How could a soul be dead with the Giver of Life present?

Does that make sense? I can probably find a more condensed version.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't there be Augustian readings, consistent with those passages, in which the God is still with all, in so far as the participate in divine being (they exist) even if, clearly, there is a turning away from God and rejection of God through mortal sin? While we are surely "made a new creature" through baptism, it isn't as if we were, before baptism, not as son or daughter of Adam and Eve. Thus, in so far as each of us is created in the image of God, it would seem that God is, to some extent, "in" all of us (at least in a reflected sense).

Moreover, in fine Aristotelian fashion, we could interpret the claim that the spirit of God is in us as asserting that He is in us in potency (if not in act).

In other words, you can try to read such passages from the ad as "clearly" in opposition to Church teaching if you wish, but there are available interpretations that make such claims potentially consistent with Church teaching. Might it require an uncharitable reading to end where you do? Might interpretive charity require us to try to find consistent readings if they are available?

Anonymous said...

Moreover, since (catechism 179) faith is a supernatural gift of God, and we require the "interior helps" of the Holy Spirit to have faith, and baptism is a profession of faith, doesn't the Holy Spirit have to be with us, at least in some sense, prior to baptism? If the Holy Spirit were in no way with us prior to baptism, there would be no way for us to get sanctifying grace at all, for such grace is a free gift of God, not something we can bring about on our own.

Again, the point here is about interpretive charity. If there are available interpretations that are consistent with Church teachings, should we not accept those readings? It seems we would need a lot more information to conclude that such a sentence is clearly and completely contrary to Church teaching.

Throwback said...

Being can be spoken of in many ways.

When Catholics talk about the Spirit of God dwelling within us, this is pretty specific lingo. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a particular item. If ND wanted clarity on the issue, they should have recommended that the imam not use words with such defined meanings.

It's funny that you bring up Augustine. He was very clear that the unbaptized were enemies of God or as St. Paul said "children of wrath." We can always say that God is "present" in various ways. The Muslims I've encountered agree that God is omnipresent. Does that mean He indwells, especially in the Catholic sense of the Holy Spirit? Of course not.

In the Aristotelian sense of potency, I'm not sure how one could interpret the imam's words as meaning that. Can you elaborate? It seems to me that this would completely negate the point he was making.

On the last point, Unigenitus makes it clear that there is grace outside the Church and naturally we must concede that the Holy Spirit moves outside the Church lest, as is said in the question, nobody would convert at all.

These are both in the sense of actual grace, rather than sanctifying grace. This does not mean that the Spirit dwells in any of these individuals.

I don't think I'm being uncharitable at all. Words have meanings and those meanings matter. Much of our current problems come from people ignoring this very simple fact and/or trying to play Humpty Dumpty with very basic concepts. If a different meaning was supposed to be conveyed, why not say "reflected" or some other such word.

I suggest that charity would mean to call for greater clarity so that people would not be misled. For much of the Church's history, ambiguity alone could be cause for a writing to be censured. Given the current levels of dissent and doctrinal ignorance by so many, that should be considered again.

Anonymous said...

It seems odd to require such narrow doctrinal use of language from a non-Catholic within an ad which is not meant to be an official Church teaching, especially when there are clear senses of the phrases that would be acceptable in context. But if you want to be upset about it, I suppose that is your right.

It would have been nice if God had been direct in the opening of Genesis, and not chosen metaphorical "days" to express the creation story. It would have saved lots of people from error. But, of course, direct speech that is not open to some confusion is often hard to come by and sometimes would, in fact, be counterproductive. Protestants would likely claim that a lot of the problems with Catholics is their failure to stick to the plain meaning of terms. That move, in general, seems an odd on for a Catholic to make. The Church has always recognized the importance of nuanced interpretation, not rigid literalism.

Since the point, as I understood it, was about some sense of shared humanity that should bind believers of all faiths (and in fact all humans), in the pursuit of peace, I think there are plenty of readings of the words in question that are not just acceptable from a Catholic point of view, but downright commonplace. You obviously disagree. I see no danger that such an ad will lead people into false belief. Again, you disagree.

Thanks for the responses. I'll let it go here.

Throwback said...

I'm not sure it's all that odd to expect some precision of language from an "inter-faith bridge-builder." I think that was the designation used. One would think if he's engaged in those sorts of activities that he would know what those words would mean in the context of advertising for a Catholic university. You would also think that the university would recognize this as well.

Your second paragraph doesn't make much sense from a Catholic view. Sure, God could have said it differently. He didn't really have to though, since He gave us a Church with infallible teachers to let us know what Scripture means. If Protestants have a problem with dogma, I don't expect the Church to water it down for them. It's a sad day when speaking directly and clearly is discouraged as "counterproductive." How are vague and amorphous platitudes productive?

In addition, there is room for debate and nuance. I don't see how the ideas I've reviewed regarding sanctifying grace and such remotely enter the same field as the Creation story.

You may understand the imam's point however you like. I just accepted what he said at face value. There's a Spirit of God. It dwells within everyone. What he said was wrong. Charity from ND's part would be to point this out to him. Letting him sit muddled in error is not charity.

This is all only part of the problem. As I made clear, why doesn't ND promote something with Catholic clergy, religious, or laity converting people to Catholicism?

"Fighting for the True Faith of Christ's Church"

Why do I have the feeling that we'll never see such an ad?