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.
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