Is God About Avoiding Conflict?


               

I have been having discussions with a number of very insightful and sincere Catholics regarding whether or not avoiding conflict is consistent with God’s Will, Christ’s example, and Heaven’s plan of salvation for us.  The short answer, regardless of the conflict it may ensue, is no, avoiding conflict is not consistent with either God’s Will, Christ’s example, or Heaven’s plan for salvation for any of us. In fact, just as much harm can be inflicted to justice, souls, and salvation through appeasement than through reckless abandon.

God  Almighty did not appease Lucifer and his minions when they revolted because, to do so, would have been contradictory to the very nature of God as the all-knowing, all just, and all good Creator. If God is all of these things, and we know He is, then it stands to reason that any revolt against Him would, by definition, be an unjust, ignorant, and evil effort.   God could not appease to evil, to wrong, to injustice, to ignorance precisely because, as the all perfect, all knowing, all powerful Creator of the Universe, He would contradict and betray His very nature by yielding one bit to such evil, thus ascribing it any gain of measure against His perfection, truth, wisdom, and justice.

Likewise, Christ did not appease the money changers in the temple because they too, stood for wrong, evil, ignorance, disrespect, and rebellion against Almighty God.  Just as it would have been the height of absurdity for God to “negotiate” with Lucifer, it would have been ridiculous for Christ to sit down with the money changers in a brew of political and social correctness to find common ground and avoid conflict.

If the two above examples provide glaring evidence that Heaven is not about appeasement to wrong, then how can it be that otherwise sincere, intelligent, thoughtful, and caring Catholics may confuse avoiding conflict as the path of God or Christ?  I believe that, at its very core, such a belief stems from the mistaken notion that unity, peace, uniformity, understanding, compromise etc. are all good things per se.  This myth arises from our mistaken human perception that love is about avoiding conflict and seeking peace, about finding common ground, about compromise, and about meeting others half way.  While this may be true in many business, political, social, and practical matters, it is not automatically true in moral matters.   Besides, when we deal with others, we are dealing with relative equals in humanity, limitations, and weakness, so compromise and avoiding conflict may often be a good thing in such cases.

However, such areas as moral theology and the notion of just wars remind us that appeasement to evil is not an option.  As followers of Christ and children of God, we have a moral and eternal obligation to cultivate a sound moral conscience and ethical analysis.  When our opponent is evil, perdition, sin, and the very agenda of Lucifer himself, we are required to stand our ground and not yield an inch.  Speak of appeasement to Sir Thomas More and John the Baptist. God does not want us to be appeasing fools, diluted wimps, or compromising cowards. Rather, He wants us to sharply define where we can give ground, and where we will not. He wants that sharp distinction to be based on His Word and Christ’s example. He wants us to have the courage and the strength of conviction to stand up, speak out, and represent His path to salvation as best we can.

Neville Chamberlain was a decent British Prime Minister whose lasting and damning legacy was his oblivious appeasement to Hitler borne of a personal horror of war and belief that diplomacy was always preferable to confrontation.  When the true error of his blind appeasement became apparent, he was replaced by Winston Churchill who, as history shows, may be the most loved Prime Minister in British history due to his assertive and brave confrontation of evil, not in blind ignorance or reckless denial of the horror of war but, more important, due to his clear assertion that it is better to fight bravely for a just cause than surrender or yield mistakenly in the face of an evil opponent.

If the beginning of sin came at Lucifer’s revolt and God’s open demonstration that Heaven is not about appeasement to evil, then the end of sin will come when God separates the just from the unjust on Judgment Day.  If Heaven were about appeasement, compromise, negotiation, peace at all cost, and keeping everyone happy, God would turn our entire human history into a farce by treating the unjust the same as the just and suggesting a group hug.

Let us not mistake the love of God for appeasing drivel.  God’s love is a tough love and, whether we like it or not, it is a dividing and just love which will give each of us what we deserve. The present political and social environment in this world and this nation is such that appeasement only creates confusion, dilution, and more loss of souls.  If our shepherds actually had the guts to speak against evil and wrong, against disrespect of God, and in defense of our Faith in word and action, at all times, as More did, we would have far less confusion among the faithful.  No, God is not about avoiding conflict.  He is about profiling against evil.  He is about separating the wheat from the chaff.  He is about expecting us to choose which side we are on.  This world preaches avoiding conflict because that is the way of Lucifer.  We have already seen and will soon see even more how moral appeasement is the true path to perdition.  Following Christ and obeying God are not easy paths, and appeasement is just the misguided strategy to convince us that whatever makes things easier for us must be good.  God wants us to be united to Him, but on His terms, not on conditions of mutual comfort or satisfaction.  If we do not see that His terms are in fact the terms of eternal comfort and satisfaction and instead push our own secular, human perceptions of those goals, that is our problem.

Copyright, 2012  Gabriel Garnica

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Why We Define Our Suffering’s Power


Let us begin by asserting that, whether we like it or not, we all suffer and will continue to do so.  Suffering comes from imperfection, either external to us or internal within us.   It is impossible to avoid suffering in this imperfect world, complete with its injustice, evil, and human weakness and sin.  Simply put, even the most perfect being would suffer in this imperfect world ( just look at Our Lord).  For all of us except Christ and Our Blessed Mother,  the added complication of our own internal imperfection magnifies and intensifies the imperfection which assaults us on a daily basis.  This double dose of imperfection ( our world’s and our own) makes suffering a given which we are foolish to ignore or reject.

Atheists and agnostics argue that the existence of suffering proves that God does not exist.  Such an argument is as juvenile as it is delusional.  All of us have suffered as children despite, and sometimes because, of our parents’ efforts, yet we do not therefore argue that our parents do not exist either because they allow us to suffer or cannot prevent our suffering! Now atheists and agnostics will argue that, since believers view God as all powerful, He is therefore in a unique position to prevent and stop all suffering and would therefore have to be a patronizing sadist to allow suffering and injustice to befall even the most innocent, such as children.  Again, we are judging and viewing things from our perspective and not God’s. Innate in all of this is the notion that suffering is somehow something terrible to be avoided at all costs.   Once we accept this fallacy, it is easy to see why we would feel that suffering can and should be avoided, and that there is little if any redeeming value to suffering which justifies its cost.

Such a consumerist morality, which views right and wrong, joy and suffering, good and evil etc as some store negotiation by which we each seek the best deal we can get, is one of the central causes of this warped idea that suffering can and should be avoided and that anything which brings about suffering is somehow evil.  In fact, as Christians we are called to follow Our Lord’s example, and what better example in this regard do we have than His Obedient acceptance of suffering as a redemptive tool.  Suffering then, has the great capacity to bring us closer to God or, if taken destructively, to take us further from God.  The choice is up to us, which is why and how we define our own suffering’s power to save us or to  destroy us.

Copyright, 2012  Gabriel Garnica

 

The Holy Equation


The final chapter in then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Faith in The Future (2009), entitled “What Will the Future Church Look Like?”  includes his thoughts from the past that, in order to become holier, the Catholic Church will have to become smaller.  We have all heard the expression “Less is More” so this notion that reducing something may actually enhance it should not be something too new to any of us.   I propose that these ideas should be translated into a Holy Equation, by which we will find the solution to many of our problems, be they secular, spiritual, or eternal.

Embrace the Minus

We live in a society obsessed with more which thus must begin all interactions, intentions, and proposals with the the notion of more is better.  An equation of this idea would be   +  = ++ where + is more and ++ is even more.  This equation  assumes that adding to anything necessarily brings about more of that thing or more of anything else, which is not always the case. More money need not bring us even more money or even more happiness for that matter.  More health need not always guarantee us even more health since health can change and is not always a given.  In order to move toward God and our ultimate salvation, we need to Embrace The Minus simply means developing a comfort with less money, less security, less predictability, less popularity etc.  Only when we disconnect ourselves from constantly defining success and happiness as having more of anything will we be able to cultivate the kind of unselfishness and generous nature that Christian charity asks of us.  Only when we embrace having less will we be able to detach ourselves from the superficial, artificial, and material.  Only when we accept having less will we come to personify the kind of humility that following Christ demands.

Define Equality Clearly

We live in a society obsessed with notions and proclamations of equality.   An equation of this idea would simply be   ================  as if all that matters is equality.  This equation assumes that equality is automatically and necessarily a virtue and a good unto itself, which is not always the case.  The lazy student who never studies does not deserve the same grade as the good student who studies hard.  The criminal who arrogantly harms or violates does not deserve the same respect and consideration as the good citizen who respects the law.  We hear of profiling and intolerance as evils, yet both can be a necessary part of a holy life.  Profiling is defined as judging, evaluating, and even predicting behavior and people based on the past or group characteristics, perceived or real.  Our society paints profiling as evil, yet the ability to profile may save our lives and, more importantly, our souls. Profiling is really about distinguishing and eliminating blur in our lives.  While it may be used as an evil tool to promote racial or other kinds of abuse, which we should never tolerate, it can also be used as a weapon for good, which we should always promote.  Likewise, we are told that intolerance is a bad thing by people who are champions of intolerance. This hypocrisy should warn us that, ultimately, intolerance is a subjective toy used most often by those who wish to selectively promote their agenda over that of others.  Ultimately, again, while intolerance can be an evil, it can also be a necessary ingredient of salvation and good.  We should, for example, be intolerant of sins such as abortion, euthanasia etc. History tells us that, rampant tolerance leads to mindless appeasement and, ultimately, both physical and spiritual destruction.

Salvation requires that we define equality as the need to love and respect human beings beyond their particular faults and traits.  Jesus did not come to heal some people but all of us, despite our very real weakness.  We are all made in God’s Image, and thus we all deserve love and respect.  That does not mean, however, that our sins should be tolerated, justified, rationalized, enabled, embraced, or supported with twisted notions of non-judgmental drivel.

Kiss Cross

It should be no coincidence that the plus sign looks like a cross for, ultimately, the cross is indeed the most positive image of salvation we should strive for.  While all of the faulty equations of this world begin with a +, the true follower of Christ will end his or her equation of happiness and success with the +.  As Christ told us, we must begin with less in order to obtain more.  We must reduce ourselves in the eyes of this world in order to enhance ourselves in the eyes of God.  We must think of others first in order to think of our eternal souls in the final analysis.  We must kiss the Cross, seeing It as our great hope, in order to live the Cross, seeing It as our only path. He who fears the Cross lacks faith in God.  He who kisses the Cross lives faith in God.

Implications for Our Faith

Many today speak of dissidents from our Faith, factions which arrogantly proclaim themselves members of our Church, doctors of our present ills, lawyers of our present trials, and warriors of our present battles.  While some of these people honestly seek what is best for our Faith, many more only seek what fits their agenda, despite our Faith. These rebels, like their father Lucifer, only seek to divide, to destroy, to deface, and to reshape our Faith, not in the Image of God or the path of Christ but, rather, in their own whimsical agenda. Woe to those who pretend to be Catholics or Christians, who use these names only as covers for their own twisted agendas and ambitions.  We must keep our eyes on the prize of the Holy Cross, and see this prize as our ultimate plus.

Too many otherwise good Catholics support and proclaim to need to appease, to include those who speak publicly against our tradition while pretending to be of that tradition.  Do we speak of including cancer out of consideration for cancerous cells?   Of course not!   While it may be of some value to reach out to dissident Catholics and Christians in an attempt of brotherhood and charity, there comes a time when we must realize that our salvation and the salvation of our true Faith comes before anything else.  Only fools grasp unto useless baggage, sinking their life boat in order to preserve a suit or dress when they finally reach safety from a shipwreck.  Our Faith demands the therapy of Christ, yes, but it also demands the medicine of surgery to remove what harms us.  We must accept and prepare to be smaller in number but deeper in faith,  more humble in attitude but more confident in our missions, and less cluttered in purpose but more resolved in carrying, embracing and, yes, kissing the Cross as our true path to salvation.  If our view is that only God matters, then we may someday realize that less of this world is more God in the calculation of salvation.

Copyright, 2012   Gabriel Garnica

God Is The Very Essence of Tough Love


We are often told that God is love, and that is true, for He loves us more than we love ourselves, and that says much. However, as often happens in this society and world, we only get half the story.  This society loves to tell us half of the truth, pretending that this half is the whole, but a true follower of Christ can see through that delusion just by identifying and reflecting on this society’s messages in the light of God’s Word and Christ’s example. Many plot to tell us lies, and many of those who lie do so while wearing masks, pretending to be Christ’s followers, as if calling ourselves Christian had a magical ability to make us so.  “Christian” and “Catholic” are merely words, and we often slip away from the essence of these words in our daily struggle to repay God’s love with loyalty, however fleeting. No, actions speak louder than words, and that is precisely where we are measured most vividly, and fall most completely.  God loves us despite ourselves and, if we are saved, it will also be despite ourselves, for our momentum, our pattern, our trend, is to fail.  The evil one wants us to give up, to decide that the goal is unattainable, not worth the effort.  This evil one wants us to measure God’s love and patience by our standards, and not His.  By our standards, we would have given up on ourselves long ago.  However, by God’s measure, we are still worth saving despite and regardless of our wretched weakness.

God is love, yes, but He is the Epitome of tough love, which is love so great that it is not afraid to teach, to point out weakness and flaws, to highlight failings, and to lovingly show the way. God is love, but He is not wimpy, appeasing love. This society paints Christ as some smiling hippie who winks at our sins and says “don’t worry, be happy”.  I wish I had a penny for every time I read or heard some diluted, pseudo-Christian or pseudo-Catholic proclaim that “my God is a God of love who would not condemn or profile anyone.”  Guess what, God is certainly about profiling, for we are told that He will separate the good from the bad on Judgment Day.  Last time I checked, Christ was throwing out the money changers and John the Baptist was telling it like it is regardless of the consequences.

We are living in a society where many evils and sins are tolerated, appeased, rationalized, and accepted either as no sin at all or, at the very least, as no big deal.  Many so-called Catholics will attend, for example, events and gatherings where sin is celebrated and the Word of God is disrespected, under the pathetic excuse and rationalization that they are merely being good friends, returning a kindness, not judging.  Implied in all of this is the image of Christ as some hyper-tolerant wimp who loves us so much that He contradicts His own teaching and example.  Love may be blind for us, but God can love with eternal/eternal vision, and tell it like it is to us, whether we like it or not.

The next time you are told or hear that God is love, answer that God is love, but a tough love, that cares so much for us as to not retreat from telling us what we need to hear, what we need to change, and how we need to act.  We may pretend that “our” God would not do this or that, or would accept everything this society so embraces, but that is only our illusion, our delusion, and our feeble “solution” to our self-generated dilemma of pleasing God and pleasing this world as well.  God loves us despite ourselves, and if we cannot, or do not want to deal with the consequences of that, well that is tough.

Copyright, 2012  Gabriel Garnica