Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Today is Tuesday, June 29. And I haven’t posted any talks in a couple of days because I haven’t been feeling well, you could probably hear that still in my voice. Thanks be to God, I’m feeling better today. And there’s a topic that I’d like to discuss that I hope, if I can articulate this topic, clearly, it will help address 100 different issues that we have to deal with in modern Christian controversies. And one of the reasons why I want to talk about this today’s because I was asked to talk about a very controversial topic. And I really don’t think it’s possible to share my share my thoughts on that topic in a helpful way, until I have first taken some time to talk about a more general topic that needs to be understood before that topic or or other topics can even be discussed in a profitable way. If you follow my discussions, I tried to take as much time as I can to engage with other Christians, primarily online. Because I spend hours at my desk each day and whenever I want a break from my normal work in the classical Liberal Arts Academy, I, I take time to see what people are talking about. And I either start a discussion myself or respond to something someone else has posted, to try and stir up some good conversation and help Christians think a little more carefully than they would if they were left to the to the usual talking heads in modern society. There’s a major problem in modern Catholic thought, and when I talk about modern Catholic thought I’m talking about the way that the laity thinks about controversial issues the way that the laity talks about controversial issues. And more and more the way even the clergy talks about modern issues. Because we have to all be honest, and acknowledge that recent generations of Christians have not received the education that was given to children throughout Catholic history, even in medieval times when the peasants received little or no formal education at all, the society in which they lived was still directed by those who were educated. But in American society, whoever has the most votes, gets to influence the culture. And the ignorant, common people, the peasants, as it were, begin to influence the whole society. And rather than have a small number of wise men, counseling, the rulers and having that wisdom trickle down from the minds of the wise men, you into the policies of the powerful men, and then down to the daily experience of the common people in our society. The thoughts of the common people are pumped up to the top of society and they trickle down and make a mess of everything. And so what happens over time as this idea of democracy works itself out is that the Society of the wise which was established, through Catholic history, is slowly dismantled and replaced with a society of the common people volger society. And this has really never happened in world history, where the common people, the ignorant, the uneducated, the vulgar, slowly took over and directed the culture of any society. And Christians, rather than being opponents of this process are actually caught up in it. They’re guilty of the errors that plague this society. They’re not self aware. They don’t know history. And they think that their thoughts are actually the thoughts of the wise. They think that their religious views are actually the religious views of the doctors of the church, or the Fathers of the Church, and saints. And we end up with what we see developing more and more in Christian society, which is a vulgar, emotional, carnal political culture, that becomes more and more detached from true Christian faith and morals. And I’d like to talk about a fundamental problem in modern Christian thinking, that’s allowing this to happen. And even worse, is causing Christians to lose. In all of the public debates, no matter what the moral topic may be, no matter what the controversy is, Christians lose the debate, because they’re easily duped by their own false ideas. This is a this is an idea that I’ve developed and have come to realize, from my actual experience, in discussing these issues, more than from any of my formal studies in philosophy, or the classical liberal arts, I’ve never really looked through the ancient philosophers for this concept that I’m going to talk about, but I think the reason why it won’t be found in the writings of the philosophers is because they didn’t struggle with this problem. This is a this is a problem that arises in democratic culture among common people. And the wise men would not struggle with this problem. For a number of reasons that I’ll try to remember to explain. But here’s the here’s the issue, just to put it up for you to consider right up front, and then I’ll talk about it a bit. In the ethics, Aristotle explains that when we talk about virtue advice, the way that virtue advice work is not how most people think of virtue advice. Most people think of virtue advice as two opposite sides of a spectrum on one side is a virtue and on the other side, is advice. And therefore in every moral dilemma or every moral discussion, there’s two sides, good and evil. virtue advice. What what Aristotle taught in the ethics is that this is actually not the case. This apparent two sided dilemma over simple oversimplifies the real problem with virtue advice and what he explains in his nicomachean ethics is that virtue is not simply the opposite of vice, but virtue is actually the medium or middle or balance between two opposite vices. The real dilemma if there was to be a dilemma between two different sides, it would be between two different vices, not between virtue and vice. And virtue is the middle or medium between two contrary vices. So, for example, if we considered the vise of being wasteful, with money, just blowing money on all kinds of pleasure and nonsense, as the proverb says, a fool and his money are soon parted. That idea of what’s called product galletti. wastefulness usually related to the pursuit of pleasure. That’s one vise, wastefulness on the other side of that vise is a different vise. And the vise on the other side. The opposite of wastefulness is an excessive unwillingness to spend money as one should. An example of this man would be Ebenezer Scrooge. So we have these two opposite vices, we have product galletti on one side, and then we have this stinginess. On the other side. There’s a name for it that I know because I’ve taught it in theophrastus as characters, but it’s just not on tip of my tongue right now. I’ll think of it probably as I talk. But anyway, what, what’s important here and this is just one example. What’s important is to see that on the opposite sides of a moral discussion are two opposite vices. Not good and evil, but evil and evil. And in the middle, not necessarily exactly in the center between them, but somewhere in the middle between these two is virtue. The virtue of generosity. And so the challenge in a moral discussion is to find especially in one’s own personal circumstances, where the where the golden mean that’s where this term comes from, where the golden mean of generosity lies between product reality and stinginess between the prodigal son blowing all of his inheritance on his friends and pleasures, and the stinginess of Ebenezer Scrooge, were in the middle between these, this true generosity and you know, from your own experience, that it’s, it’s a challenge to understand these practical things. As a Christian, you may say, I’d like to help the poor, I’d like to donate to church and help the church. And that’s, that’s, that’s obviously good. And you’ll say that And generally speaking, it’s easy to say what our duties are. Our duties are to help the poor Our duty is to support the church. That’s one of the precepts of the church. That general moral idea is obvious. And there aren’t many people who would disagree or object to that. The problem though, is when it’s time to actually do it. We run into all kinds of practical questions like, how do you help the poor? Who really is poor? How should I support the church? All these practical questions, how much should I give? These practical questions get into the real details. And the reason why they’re difficult for us is because we have to actually find the golden mean. And doing that’s very difficult. It takes great wisdom to be able to determine where virtue is, for example, just in in God’s providence last night, I was testing a student on a catechism lesson on the 10 commandments. And it was the commandment against stealing that we were talking about. And the commandment, the teaching of the Catechism, the Baltimore Catechism about this commandment explains that if we’re indebted to others, and we have just debts, we cannot give charitably while we owe others, payment for debts. So all of a sudden, you see this, this openness to charity, as it were, is made more complicated by the fact that you can’t be charitable with other people’s money. And if that money is owed to someone else, because it was borrowed from him, that’s not your money to be lending out to others, or donating to others in the name of charity. And so we see all these different factors, the fact that we have children who have needs, we have bills, we have business expenses. And so we’ll all often hear people criticizing the wealthy, criticizing Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, because they have billions and billions of dollars. And they’ll be criticized for not helping the poor. And yet, if you were to talk to Jeff Bezos, or Ilan Musk, first of all, they would tell you that the wealth that’s reported that they have is not cash in their pocket. Most of that wealth is wrapped up in stocks and portions of their companies that they own. And it’s sort of a theoretical wealth. It’s not a wealth that they could take to the store and use to buy things. The billions and billions of dollars that they have that’s also the capital that they use to run their businesses. For example, Elan musk made millions and millions of dollars as one of the founders of PayPal. His success with the technology that was later used by PayPal earned him millions and millions of dollars. And we could imagine people running it Ilan musk yelling at him, that he doesn’t give it all away and be quote unquote generous. But the reality is Elan musk use that money to invest in another business. He didn’t just keep it. He invested it in Tesla. And some time ago. Again, these men are criticized in their prosperity. But no one pays attention to the times where they take on the great risks and the great labor’s that are necessary to build these companies. For example, Tesla, at one point in its history, was a failure. And the company was on the verge of collapse. Things were going very badly. The company was losing investors couldn’t find replacements for investors. And was right on the brink of going bankrupt. When Ilan musk invested everything he had in the company. I don’t know the exact number, but it was either 10s or into hundreds of millions of dollars. He put everything he had into Tesla, and single handedly saved Tesla with his own wealth. risked everything. And now Tesla is thriving. He’s making billions of dollars. And people criticize him. As if he should take all that money and give it away. What they what they don’t realize is that that money that is talked about is not it’s not money in his pocket. He’s not going to the store and spending billions of dollars. This money is working. he invests it, he develops solutions in business. And the money that he invest employs 1000s and 1000s of people. And if we look into the details of his life, we will find that he already gives millions and millions of dollars to charity. But the people criticizing him for not being quote unquote generous. are themselves likely protocols with their own resources. are they’re stingy with their resources? And imagine that the reason why there’s poverty in the world, or why they have difficulty is because the wealthy don’t give enough. And that’s just that’s just idle criticism. But to know where generosity is is very difficult. And gaining that wisdom is the point of studying ethics. Because Aristotle leads us through these meditations on virtue advice. And Aristotle explains in the ethics that the goal of these studies is not to simply know about virtue, but to be good men to be virtuous individuals but this issue of moral right and wrong. What I really want to emphasize here is not good or bad. It’s not a simple two sided discussion. It’s actually a two sided discussion where both sides are wrong. And the truth which is to be found lies somewhere in between those two extremes and finding it is very difficult. Now, if men, if Christians studied ethics and understood this, they would be very slow to dive into moral questions. When you understand the individual nature of virtue advice, which makes the discussion even more complicated. men would be even more hesitant to enter into political discussions related to moral issues because it’s even more complicated. For example, I had a friend who when he was 13 years old, showed up at my house one night around midnight. And he was driving around town. He was 13. He was driving, and he stopped by because his father was asleep in the car. He was actually driving his father home from the bar, because his father was an alcoholic. And his father used to use him as his driver. And so one night as they were driving home from the bar, my friend decided to stop by and say hello. He was raised in an alcoholic home. He was treated terribly abused. And we can understand why when he got older, he took a very extreme stance on alcohol. And as far as I remember, one of the one of the reasons he and I remained friends was because I didn’t drink. And I don’t believe he did, either. He was actually a very good athlete. He played basketball. And he wasn’t into the party scene, because he saw the ugly side of alcoholism. Now let’s talk about his father, if his father was to ask the question, How much can I drink? Let’s say his father decided he wanted to live a virtuous life. After 30 plus years of alcoholism, if he was to ask, what can I drink? And we were to go on to opposite extremes and say, Well, on one extreme, there’s total abstinence. But that’s not necessary. It’s not even necessarily good for us. And on the opposite, extreme, we’ll put alcoholism. And somewhere in between those two will find the golden mean for responsible, healthy consumption of alcohol or out or alcoholic beverages. Somewhere in between the two extremes is the mean. The problem is that the mean, for my friend and for his father, are not in the same place. His father is known to be inclined in an extraordinary way to alcoholism and therefore his father has to stay on the abstinence side of the center between the two extremes as a way of protecting himself From his inclinations, whereas a person, for example, my eldest son, Jonathan, won’t even take a sip of wine just hates alcohol. Free him. The mean is sort of very fluid, because he’s not tempted in any way towards the extreme of alcoholism, are overindulgence. And so we see that for individuals, the ideal place on that spectrum is not the same. One person to control his weight has to strictly fast because for him, he’ll either over eat or not eat at all. And the idea of controlling his eating is just not a reality, at least at this point in his life, and so he’s got to choose where virtue is. And for him, that place is not the same as it would be for someone else. This is the case with my wife and I, my wife and I have different strengths and weaknesses. I came from a family that indulged in food, I grew up playing sports. And because of that, I was always able to eat whatever I wanted as much as I wanted, and I just burned it off playing sports. My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t even like to eat. She was always very lean. And she’ll never be tempted to gluttony, because she’d rather not eat at all. Or eat very lightly. I have to be on constant guard against gluttony. My wife doesn’t need to think about it. On the other hand, my wife struggles with slough. When my wife wants comfort, she goes to sleep. And she finds comfort in sleep. I, on the other hand, would live without sleep if I could. And I’m frustrated at two or three in the morning, when I know I need to go to bed. And I basically go to sleep so that I’m not tired the next day. But if I could live without sleep, I would do so gladly. I don’t I don’t want to sleep ever. And so my wife and I have these opposite strengths and weaknesses. I need to watch out for gluttony, she needs to watch out for sloth. I never have to think twice about sloth. She never thinks twice about gluttony. And so how we live and where we set the boundaries for our lives in order to live virtuously are different. These moral issues are complicated. Because, as St. Benedict explains in the rule, one absolute rule cannot be laid down for all people. That’s not because the actual moral ideal differs. This isn’t leading us to some kind of moral relativism. Because it’s not true that what’s good for one person is not good for someone else. It’s not true that there’s no such thing as an intrinsic evil. But in the actual practical decisions and details of our of our lives. We need to set boundaries in different places, because of our own individual strengths and weaknesses. So we can see, and we all know this, that our own personal or monastic morality is complicated. It’s complicated to sit down and make a daily schedule for ourselves or a diet for ourselves, and have everything be directed by virtue. What do we normally do? We normally, because we’re not realistic, we normally exaggerate our virtues. And we come up with schedules and plans and diets that are not realistic. And we write them all out. We also do this with resolutions, we write them out. And then we don’t teach them. And we imagine that because we write them out that that’s what we actually think is right, or that’s what actually is right. But our inability to actually keep those things reveals that they’re fictional, that they’re not realistic. And that that’s not wisdom, to make a routine, or a diet that no one’s going to actually keep. And we see the wisdom in St. Benedict, when he writes his rule, because even though he is a he’s a saint, interested in the way of perfection, at the same time, he understands that writing a rule of perfection, would not be prudent or helpful. And this leads us to another level of this discussion. I hope you’re sticking with me here. We have to stop imagining that the virtues we talk about, or write about are real. And the virtue we actually practice is not our fault. The virtue we actually practice is the virtue that’s real. For us as individuals. When we talk about being judged by God, at the end of the world, the way that it’s phrased in Scripture is that every man is going to be judged, according to the deeds done in the body. What we actually are, is not what we say, not what we write, not even what we think. But what we do. What we do, is what we are. Now when we judge other people, we normally judge them for what they do. And when we do that, we’re actually judging justly. We judge others by what they do. And not by what they say we say Talk is cheap. And yet, when we think of ourselves, we judge ourselves by our intentions, by our words, by our thoughts, by our desires, and not by what we actually do. And in this, we play the hypocrite. We set the bar high when we judge another person, judging him according to his actual deeds. But we excuse ourselves for our deeds, and judge ourselves by our intentions. Now, there’s two options here. We’re told to be careful that we do not judge what Jesus clarifies and explains he doesn’t mean Do not judge that that doesn’t even make any sense. He doesn’t mean that in an absolute way. What he says more fully in another places judge with righteous judgment. What is what he says even further, in another place? When he’s criticizing men for their unjust judgment and criticizing that tendency towards hypocrisy that we all have, he says you lay heavy burdens on others. In which you will not lift a finger to move or carry. In other words, what it means to judge unjustly is to criticize in others, what you don’t criticize in yourself, to demand of others, what you don’t demand of yourself, to discipline others, but not to discipline yourself. That’s hypocrisy. Now, that leads us to two options. And we see these two options in modern discussion. Option number one is to acknowledge that we don’t practice what we should. And therefore, to avoid hypocrisy. We should stop criticizing others. And just accept that whatever standard we practice is the standard that others should practice. And that’s relativism. That’s the false reaction to the commandment Do not judge. The true reaction is to say, when I look at someone else, I can see rightly, that what they do is more important than what they say. Therefore, in order that I may judge justly, and not play the hypocrite, I need to discipline myself. I need to make myself virtuous and holy. So that I can with integrity and honesty, admonish the sinner which is one of my duties, a work of mercy, but only if I do it in the right way, which is from a sincere heart. And if I disciplined myself first, if I engage in this battle with myself first, as I see how difficult a battle it is, as I see how many temptations, how many obstacles, there are, how dependent I am, on the grace of God, on the sacred scriptures, on prayer on the sacramental life, when I see how weak I am, how hard it is, how dependent I am, not only on the grace, to do these things, but to but the grace to even desire to do these things. It will change how I look at others, it will make me more empathetic to the challenges that they face. And it will allow me to both admonish them, but also help them it’ll help me to admonish them and correct them, but also forgive them. It’ll help me to admonish them, but also to be patient. As their understanding develops, as they grow in grace, as they slowly overcome their weaknesses, one by one, sometimes, one sin is actually the effect of some other bad habit. And until that bad habit is removed, that other sin has no chance of being removed. And so, if I attack myself first, and learn, by my own experience, what it really takes to live this life, then that will make me able to help other people. Sick succeed in that same battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. I can help them if I’m sincere, and not just a hypocrite. I can help them by focusing on myself because if I don’t master myself I have nothing to offer them. Sure I can talk about virtue. But I can’t model it. Sure, I can talk about saints. But I can’t show them a saint. I can talk about some virtues. But I can’t talk about others, because I don’t practice them. And this is why we can help others by focusing on ourselves. And if we look at the lives of history’s wisest men, we find that’s what they did. They focused on themselves. We look at john Cassius conferences, which I always recommend, to people who ask what they should read, I always say, if you’re not going to read Sacred Scripture, read Cassius conferences. And what we find is john kacian, traveling to the places where hermits live, to ask them for spiritual direction, because they, the isolated hermits are the spiritual masters who can teach. They can explain to someone how to overcome their vices, and how to become holy, because that’s the focus and work of their lives. They’re not hypocrites. They’re devoted to this spiritual battle. They’re humbled by it. They’re made, gentle, and patient, by it. They’re made honest by it. And that’s why a wise man like john kassian, seeks them out as his spiritual directors, rather than someone who knows what to say. We’re thinks he knows what to say, or appears to know what to say. But isn’t himself a model of true holiness. Now, where is this all going? Well, we’ve talked about the complexity, of personal ethics. And we’ve talked about the danger of hypocrisy, not just the danger of hypocrisy, but the fact that Jesus showed us by his concern for hypocrisy, that this will always be an inclination in us. He showed us by his constant focus, and condemnation of hypocrisy, that it will always be an enemy of true Christianity, this unjust judgment of others. And we can see a picture starts to develop here, as we think of the complexity, of personal ethics, finding the golden mean, in our own individual lives based on our own strengths, weaknesses, temptations and so on. How hard it is for us to make a rule even for ourselves, and how we often error when we try to do that. And then when we think of judging others, we don’t judge them with the same understanding we judge ourselves with. And then we react badly by saying, since I myself don’t obey, I need to not criticize others, and create this fake peace, this relativism. Rather than saying, I know what’s true when I look at others, I need to hold myself to that same standard. I need to remove the log that’s in my eye. So that I can see clearly to judge my neighbor and help him remove the splinter that’s in his eye. That’s the goal. Now, if I were to visit each one of you who are listening to this, and I were to ask you, so do you have all these things in order? Do you have your life morally all in order? All vices have been suppressed? All virtue is abounding. You live a disciplined, orderly life Where everything is done, as it should be done, all of your duties are fulfilled. There’s no time wasted, there’s no money wasted. You support what you should support, don’t support what you should not support and live with perfect virtue, practicing the same virtue that you would speak to someone else, I would guarantee that there’s not one of you. Who could say yes to that. There’s not one of you who will say, everything in my life is an order. I’ve got everything figured out. I’ve got a routine through which I practice perfect virtue. I disciplined myself, like St. Paul said, I Buffett my body and make it my slave. I seek the way of perfection. I freed myself from distractions. None of you will say that. And if I were to point out faults in your life, you would make excuses for them. You would explain that you’re working on that. You know about this. You’ve been working on that. You’ve been improving in this, you’ve fallen back a little in this. And you would justify your current status with regard to each virtue and vice that I pointed out. And yet, you’ll turn right around. The first time there’s a new story in the news. The first time you hear about something Joe Biden said, or Nancy Pelosi said, or the gay rights activists said, or the pro choice activists said, and you’ll unleash this vomit fire of moral criticism that contradicts your own response to your own moral faults. And that’s hypocrisy. That’s not Christianity. That’s hypocrisy. We’ve already said, personal ethics is very complicated. Even if we figure it all out, theoretically, and know what we should do in every circumstance, theoretically, doing it is a completely different battle. Jesus warned us and said, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, even when we have right desires. carrying it out, is a whole different battle. And how we are to carry it out requires a certain way of thinking and understanding. Because our flesh is weak. We’re not robots. We’re living, breathing, growing, decaying, healthy, sick, changing, strong, weak, energetic, tired, human beings, our flesh is unstable. circumstances around us are constantly changing. And it’s impossible for us to pursue moral perfection, as if we were some kind of robots that simply needed to be programmed what to do, and then they would do it. Even if we know what to do. Doing it is a completely different challenge. Now we can see the perfect teaching on this issue. When we look at the teaching of our Lord, which we should do more then Christians do as they get their teaching from 1001 different Talking Heads. rousing them up to all kinds of action which Jesus did not Rouse his disciples up to do. The fact that what you read in the gospels, what Jesus taught his disciples what Jesus himself did, what the disciples themselves did, what the early spiritual masters in the first centuries of the church did. And what these modern Catholic celebrities tell you to do, when you see that they’re not the same thing, red flag should go up and say, these guys are probably wrong. If anybody tells me to do things that Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to do, that the apostles didn’t tell the early Christians to do, that the early spiritual masters of the church didn’t do that none of the saints ever did. If someone’s telling me to do something different, they’re probably wrong. Something is probably wrong. I may not know what it is, they may be smooth talkers. They may be wealthy and appear to be successful, like they know what they’re talking about. They may have all kinds of academic degrees. But the fact that what they are saying and telling us to do is not what Jesus told his disciples to do. Not what the apostles taught early Christians to do. Not what any saints ever taught anyone to do. That tells me that these guys are wrong. And what we need to do is, stop listening to this nonsense. If you if you’ll be honest, if you’ll be honest, you’ll see, it’s always tied to a sale. It’s always tied to a book sale, to a conference ticket, to merchandise, to a donation, it’s always tied, it’s always leading up to a sale of some kind, maybe not at the beginning, because that’s how a marketing funnel works. It starts by engaging people on the fringes, developing a relationship, and leading step by step to what’s called a conversion. It’s a marketing funnel, it starts with a free webinar, it starts with a free paperback book. And this paperback book is not necessary. It’s not anything original. It’s not something that’s actually helpful. It’s just something to give away. To get your email address to get you onto a mailing list. To get you into the, into the regular mailings and the and the appeals for financial support to target you with all the book sales, you’ll look on the on the YouTube video, there will always be stuff for sale on the video itself. And you just have to ask yourself, did any saint ever lived like that? Did ever any prophet or apostle, ever act like that? Did was Jesus ever selling anything? We need to go back and get our direction, get our spiritual direction, from Jesus himself from Sacred Scripture from the Holy Spirit, speaking to us through Sacred Scripture, within the context of the Catholic faith, if the people talking to us are rousing us up to political action, if they’re rousing us up to purchase things from them, of course, if they’re rousing us against the hierarchy of the church, against the Pope, against bishops, we can be absolutely certain that they are people we should not be listening to something is wrong. The fact that the focus is political, rather than personal is our first red flag. When you know how difficult it is for you, to obey God’s will to keep God’s commandments. How can you allow yourself to be duped into thinking that yelling about other people’s Moral failures is God’s will for you. It’s the exact opposite of what Jesus taught the exact opposite of what Jesus did. Jesus, who actually is perfect, and who actually is, the judge of all men was merciful. He taught people, he was patient, he was forgiving. He was generous with his time. He listened to people’s questions, he ate dinner with people whose company was questionable. And if we ask ourselves, Who in the world today talks and acts like Jesus? The answer is the Pope. That’s who the pope does. The Pope is the one who talks and acts like Christ. And he gets criticized for it by who, by the political Christians who want him to punish and excommunicate everybody who want Christians to be denied access to the sacraments. Why? Because of moral dilemmas, political controversies, they want the pope to be exactly the opposite of what Christ was. And they’ll point out one event in the life of Christ, which is when Christ clears the temple, one event, they’ll use that one event to characterize the whole ministry, and teaching of Christ, one event, they won’t get into an actual study of the passage, they won’t ask what the purpose was, in what Jesus did, they won’t focus on the fact that Jesus has the authority to clear the temple. They won’t get into the details, they’ll simply take angry Jesus and use him to fight any fight that they’re interested in, in their own hypocrisy. If Jesus was chasing out anyone from the temple, if we look at the actual story, he was chasing out people who were making merchant dice of the faith. He was chasing people out of the temple, who were selling things in the temple. So who would Jesus be chasing out of the temple, the people marketing themselves, selling their merchandise, those would be the people that Jesus would chase out of the temple. So let’s be honest about who it is that Jesus actually got angry with, we find two groups of people. First, as I said, Those who were turning God’s house into a house of business and merchant dice. Kind of like the people online selling. Anything that they can get to print. Everything they do in the name of Christ ends up in a sale, or a product of some kind. They were the ones that Christ was sent was criticizing. And the other group of Christ criticized and spoke harshly to were the hypocrites who criticized the moral lives of others, and neglected their own personal sanctification. Those were the two groups that Christ spoke to harshly. And those groups are not represented in the hierarchy of the church. those groups are found in the self publishing, self promoting marketing machine managers and political Christians that are the ones that Christians are following. They’re the ones that were criticized by Christ. Now, that’s a lot of negative criticism. What about positive action? What should we do positively First of all, as I said, we have to get off of these influences that Rouse us up to anger, to anxiety, to hypocrisy. We have to set ourselves apart from anyone, anyone who criticizes or speaks against the hierarchy of the church that includes the bishops and the Pope. Anyone who speaks against the Pope, anyone who publicly criticizes the Pope, or bishops of the church should be blocked. no saint, no saint ever did so. And again, they’ll have all of their explanations. Oh, St. Catherine of Siena, criticize the Pope. She didn’t criticize the pope on YouTube. She didn’t publish letters and circulate them among the common people criticizing the Pope. She spoke directly to the Pope. The only reason we even know about her communications with the pope were that they were written in private letters, and her confessor. Her confessor later wrote her biography, and shared the details of her life. And her I believe I have this right her confessor was a saint himself. Her confessor told us about her relationship with the Pope and her private councils, to the Pope, which were solicited by the pope himself, because she was known to be a living saint, full of wisdom, and personal holiness. She was not some lay person selling his own book on YouTube. She was not some lay person publishing criticisms of every move, the pope makes digging up any bad story he can find about priests or bishops in the church and publishing it to get views, and sell his own stuff. That’s not what Catherine of Sienna was doing. If you want to see how saints reacted to members of the clergy or the hierarchy, who they disagreed with, go study the life of St. Francis, go study the life of Padre Pio or john Bosco, and see how they dealt with bishops who oppose who didn’t understand what they were doing, or opposed their ministry. And if you’re going to look at someone like Catherine of Sienna, ask yourself, how do we even know this about her? And how is that different from what these other people are doing? So first of all, positively, we need to go and study the Scriptures themselves, and take spiritual direction from the scriptures given to us by the Holy Spirit to be our surest source of spiritual direction. St. Paul says in Romans chapter 15, I believe everything that was written in the Scriptures was written for our benefit us living Christians. So that through the comfort of the Scriptures, we might have hope. The Scriptures are our best source of spiritual direction. If you’re going to take Christian instruction, take it from Christ himself. His teaching is in the gospels of the New Testament. Lord, learn the Christian way from Christ. He’s the only teacher. Second, if you’re going to study outside of the Scriptures, then you should stick to the writings of the doctors of the church. Just because someone is a saint, does not mean that anything he or she wrote or did is appropriate for you in different circumstances. Just because a saint said this or that does not mean it applies universally to all Christians in all places at all times. It could be true that something is st said or did was appropriate only in his or her individual circumstance, an example from Sacred Scripture. Samson, the famous warrior of the Old Testament, actually kills the Philistines by killing himself. He’s the equivalent of a suicide bomber. In ancient Israel. Standing in a temple, he he, he knocked over one of the pillars that held up the ceiling of the temple, causing the ceiling to fall, and kill everyone, including himself. To say that, because Samson did this, that I should do it is false. If you read any of the doctrines of the church commentaries on the life of Samson, in that passage, they’ll explain that Samson must have received some special revelation, some private revelation that instructed him to do that. And in his circumstance, in the providence of God, it was appropriate. But that’s it. It’s not a model to be imitated. It’s not recommended to others to practice. It’s an isolated event. And many of the events in the lives of the saints are similar. For example, the fact that Joan of Arc went to war doesn’t tell any woman that she ought to go and grab a machine gun, and run into the street and start killing her enemies. She can’t appeal to Joan of Arc, as her example, Joan of arcs circumstances were isolated, and private. That’s the difference between a writing of a saint and the writing of a doctor of the church. the writings of the doctors of the church are recognized because their teaching is universal. So you should make sure that when you do read something written by a saint, or when you do learn about the lives of the saints, you understand the nature of private revelations of isolated circumstances. Because remember, personal ethics are complicated matters. And you don’t imagine that just because a saint, a quote can be found, from some saint, that that quote means you are free to go and imitate what the saint did. That’s not true. If you want to learn the teaching of the Church, according to the magisterium, and authority of the church, that is what the Catechism is for. You don’t go and find for yourselves teachers, like St. Paul warned about that tickle your ears and say, the things that you want to be true. You go to the authority of the church and learn directly from the authority of the church. So positively, you need to improve the sources that you go to, to learn how to live, and you’ll find that what they teach is very different from what these talking head celebrities teach. Secondly, you need to realize that what motivates people to get riled up about politics as Christians is hypocrisy. And we’re already at over an hour here, but let me let me briefly touch on one subject that I’d like to leave you with to think about. In the early church, there was a heresy. That’s known as Palladian ism. And when we look back at history, and we learn about these heresies, we often wonder, who cares? These things are so philosophical and abstract, like who really cares about all of these theological concepts Reverse is in heresies of the early church. And we feel like our lives today don’t relate to those heresies. And that’s because we don’t study philosophy. We don’t study theology. We don’t communicate in this kind of language. But the problem is, these heresies start with errors in the hearts and minds of men. The words for them come later, they start because men are inclined to certain errors by their own sin. And then these inclinations lead them into false beliefs. And then those false beliefs are eventually given a vocabulary and begin to be communicated in words. We’re not comfortable with the words of many of these ancient heresies because we don’t, we don’t talk like that we don’t have philosophical education and so on, but the original spirit and errors out of which these heretical teachings were born, are in us. And therefore, the errors of the ancient heresies are present in us, even if the words aren’t. And Palladian ism was an ancient heresy where men denied that salvation and holiness were dependent entirely on the grace of God. Palladian ism taught that the fall of man did not leave men, morally corrupt, spiritually dead. But that men still had the power to choose what is good. And that God’s grace was given to those who chose to do what was good. In modern circles, we hear the same. God helps those who help themselves. That’s plagiarism. That’s plagiarism. Plagiarism is the idea that human beings who are not in the grace of God who are not participating in the sacramental life of the church, who are not baptized, who don’t go to confession, who don’t receive absolution, who don’t go to Communion, and who lives outside of God’s new covenant with none of the graces of the gospel, none of the faith or theological virtues of the Christian life, but live in their own human natural ability, their own natural condition that they are able to understand and choose what’s good. That’s Palladian ism. What the gospel teaches us is that no one can please God, St. Paul said, without faith, it is impossible to please God. nothing that we can do, can be done rightly, without grace. We will not desire to do good without grace. If we do desire, what’s good, it’s because of grace. And if we actually carry out that good desire, that carrying out of that desire is also because of grace. We have to collaborate with that grace. But without grace, it’s impossible. We wouldn’t desire to do good. And even if we desired it, we wouldn’t be able to do good. We’re saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, St. Paul says Palladian ism argues that we can save ourselves and that we have to save ourselves, or God won’t save us. That’s basically the idea. And as ridiculous as that may sound. It’s what political Christians believe. And I can prove it. Here’s how Attention to politically active Christians, political Catholics, you’ll hear them talking about natural law. You’ll hear natural law, this natural law, that natural law, this and the the idea that they’re talking about is that all human beings are accountable to natural law. And therefore, the governments of the world, the secular governments should follow natural law in the making of state laws. And they should enforce natural law, natural law, natural law, natural law. And everybody screams and cheers. Homosexuality should be punished, because it’s against natural law, and the crowd cheers. abortion should be punished, because it’s contrary to natural law. And the crowd roars natural law, natural law, natural law that’s not Catholic doctrine. And let me explain why. Of course, it’s true. That natural law condemns not just homosexuality and abortion, not just this new gender identification fad. Natural Law condemns any behavior. That’s self injuring, and contrary to the necessity of the nature of anything. It condemns a million different things in your life and in my life. Natural Law doesn’t simply condemn extreme moral deviance that we don’t happen to struggle with. It condemns any unnatural behavior overeating is condemned by natural law oversleeping condemned by natural law. The problem with natural law is that from the time of the fall, man became corrupt. And as St. Thomas Aquinas, who everybody claims to love actually teaches, at the fall of man. When man’s nature was corrupted, by the fall by the sin of Adam and Eve, natural law was destroyed. This is the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, at the fall of man so we can talk about natural law in and of itself, but at the fall of man, natural law was destroyed. Man is not capable of living according to natural law, because he has fallen and corrupt the guilt of that original sin is taken away by baptism. But man, even Christians remain corrupt because of original sin, they remain subject to concupiscence which is the inclination to sin. Even Christians remain corrupt and are in capable of living according to what was originally natural law. It’s for this reason, St. Thomas explains that the law of Scripture replaced the law of nature. This is why divine relationship divine revelation was necessary because the law of nature was destroyed by the fall of man. What Christians are supposed to be doing in the world is leading their fellow sinners, their fellow fallen, corrupt creatures, to the grace of God through the gospel. Jesus said, Go into the world, and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. To go into the world, and tell people to obey Jesus, or to obey natural law, and ignore the whole, make disciples and baptize them part is to actually believe that human beings in their natural state are capable of understanding and obeying the natural law. And that is pelagianism. You may not say it, you may not use the same language to talk about it. But what you’re doing is false. No, no one should be able or expected to live according to natural law. No Christian should be yelling, that people who disobey natural law should be punished. Unless they’re willing to put themselves in prison, every time they overeat. Every fat man should then be in prison for sinning against natural law. Every slothful man in bed past 7am should be rounded up by police and dragged into prison for breaking natural law. No one believes this. It’s hypocrisy. Natural Law is none of our business as Christians, our duty to the world is to help them enter into the grace of God, to have their sins washed away by the mercy of God. To have their sins taken away by the graces that Christ purchased for them, and offers them in and through his church, and the sacraments of the church. He calls people to learn from him through the Scriptures, and through the church. He doesn’t tell anyone, to punish anyone, or to go out and preach natural law and punish anyone who doesn’t comply. That’s got nothing to do with Christianity. And if you start to put all these pieces together, you have to ask the question, what the heck are these people leading us into? Who are teaching us these things? Why are we listening to them? Do you honestly believe that you’re that you’re good? And a keeper of natural law? You honestly believe that’s true of yourself. You honestly believe that any human being who doesn’t obey natural law should be rounded up and put in prison or punished by the government? If you don’t believe that, why do you believe that about certain things, but not others? Who are you to judge which parts of natural law are serious and which aren’t? This self contradicting, insincere moral teaching is hypocrisy. Personal ethics are very complicated. We can do nothing good. We cannot even understand the truth without grace. And our job as Christians is to lead people into the grace of God, not to lead them into our political party, not to change their vote, not to change the laws. But to lead people to baptism. If Catholics are falling away, or to help lead them to confession. What they need is God’s grace. That’s what they need to understand the evil of homosexuality. A man needs God’s grace to understand the evil of abortion. A woman needs God’s grace. He Before that, to understand the evil of fornication, the man who makes the woman pregnant, who then seeks an abortion, that man needs grace. And if we can help that man, we might eliminate 100 abortions. Because the real cause of the abortion is that man’s fornication. There are many, many problems. Our hearts are corrupt, and a scripture says desperately sick. From our hearts come all of the evils in this world. And in the Gospel, Christ came into the world, to change human hearts. And he does that he takes wicked people, and he turns them into good people. That’s what we call sanctification. The Holy Spirit does that work. And he does it through the grace of the gospel. And as a Christian, what you’re supposed to be bringing to the world is the gospel. Not your politics. Not conservative morals, not natural law, not political protests, not kancil culture boycotting businesses. What you’re supposed to be bringing to the world is a humble confession of your own weakness and worthiness of damnation, and a personal testimony of the grace of God. So that others, who are also sinners, no worse than you can find hope in God and can themselves come to that same grace and be healed and be sanctified. That’s what Christians are supposed to be doing in the world, not fighting with liberals, not dividing themselves against other human beings. They’re supposed to be leading their enemies, loving their enemies, and bringing them to Christ, that Christ, who, unlike you, or me, is actually able to save them, to help them and to change them. So, as I said at the beginning of this, before we get into other moral issues, this general issue needed to be addressed first. Now that I’ve established this general set of principles, I think it’ll be much easier for us to discuss isolated issues in the future. I know it’s long, but I hope that you appreciate our ability to get into the details, and not just play on the surface of all these issues in shallow water but, but to get deeper. I hope that we can get into some isolated issues now and deal with them intelligently, as Christians, not as police agents, not as hypocrites, not as ignorant common people, but as wise people as true believers in the grace of God and the gospel. And I think that as we do that, we’re going to be filled not with anxiety or anger or vexation, but with peace and with hope and with love that can actually help people. God bless.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai