Saturday, September 27, 2008

Convert Go Home?

Maybe he doesn't mean precisely what the words say, but it's pretty disappointing that he said this anyway. Apolonio Latar writes:
If you are to become Catholic because of a theology, get yourself a book and do not waste your time in the Church.
Hmm...well, thanks for the warm welcome, Apolonio.

The fact is that people become Catholic for lots of reasons. Some do so because they want to marry a Catholic. Some do so because of years of life with a Catholic husband or wife. Others do so because they are drawn by aesthetics. Some folks are so impressed by the lives of Catholics that they want to be just like them. And, yes, some of us actually become Catholic because we are pursuing the truth.

I happen to agree with him that the Church is more than just the Magisterium. Mystical saints like St. Teresa can't be boxed up quite like that. The fact is, though, that people become Catholic for many reasons. Who cares what their reasons are, as long as they are faithful Catholics now? Who cares if they don't have all their theological, philosophical, aesthetical, mystical ducks in a row if they are actively striving to be true to their Lord? Nobody has "arrived" in this life.

Hmm...I didn't think I was grumpy today, but Apolonio's remarks obviously rubbed me the wrong way.


Mike Burgess said...

I may take this up on Mr. Latar's combox eventually, but I'm with you (and Lee) on this one.

As you know, the issue is near and dear to me, and while I think I understand what Mr. Latar is saying, I think he undermines himself, perhaps fatally. I don't know. I'm sure his Ivy League degree serves him far better in the public's eye, and I don't mean to disparage that at all, but doesn't his piece indicate the sort of postmodern, quasi-existentialist thinking which (I would say inevitably) leads to indifferentism and, perhaps, the "dictatorship of relativism"? That ultimate sentence which is so objectionable to you and I seems inescapably, ineluctably so to do.

G.K. Chesterton, when asked the same question Mr. Latar posed to his Anglican acquaintence, responded, "to get my sins forgiven." Now, there is an experiential but doctrinally bound-up answer presupposing certainty if ever there was one.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the support!

I considered dropping the bomb over there, but I just didn't/don't have time to get into an extended discussion with him about this. Still, I was pretty miffed, and I had to vent. :-)

I'm happy to say that Mike L. has come to "my" defense, too, in addition to Mr. Faber's pointed question.

Apolonio's article reads like "it's my way or the highway:" as though only one kind of path to God has legitimacy, and all others are counterfeit. But it's simply absurd to say that.

And he's wrong about this, in my opinion (from the comments): What gives us certainty is an encounter. No. what gives us certainty is the grace of God. It's the charism of faith. We can't argue someone into the Church because God must give him that gift, and he must accept and receive it. That's the brilliance of Aquinas (at least in part): he doesn't try to solve every possible objection beyond all possible objection; he attempts to demonstrate that the Faith is reasonable/not contrary to reason.

More later (I've gotta run).


Reginald de Piperno said...

Okay, one more before I do that running I mentioned.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that are not seen" (Heb. 11:1).

The CCD comments add: "The sense is: faith is assurance in the case of things that are hoped for, it is conviction about things that are not seen."

This is not to say, of course, that "encounter" is meaningless, but "encounter" is subjective. The Mormon has an "encounter;" so does the Muslim, the Hindu, etc. Certainty by "encounter" completely demolishes the value of certainty.

Now I'm really running :-)

-- RdP