28 October 2007

Fr. Paul Scalia on the Church Militant or the Church Belligerent

In the summer's issue of This Rock magazine, Fr. Paul Scalia wrote an exceptional article on avoiding the pitfalls in defending our faith and changing the Church Militant into the Church Belligerent.
"The Church, like a nation, must defend herself and her faith. She must fight for the truth and for the salvation of souls. This demands doing battle, for which reason we call ourselves the Church Militant. Like a nation, however, the Church also encounters a danger: that the fighting spirit of the Church Militant turn against her, to cease being the Church Militant and to become instead the "Church Belligerent." This term describes not so much a specific group of people as a certain attitude, mindset, or approach. It indicates the necessary fighting spirit of the Church Militant severed from the principle of charity. And it constitutes a hazard...it poses a threat precisely to those—to us—who take the demands of the Church Militant seriously, who see the crisis in society and within the Church, who recognize the catechetical and liturgical fallout of almost four decades, and who desire to enter into the battle for souls.

"To effect this union we must possess a love for both the truth and the person. The goal is not just to prove our point or, worse, to prove ourselves correct. Rather, the purpose is to bring people to Christ and to establish his truth in their hearts."
"Getting carried away by the human intrigue and politicking that loiters in the Church slowly wears away at our supernatural outlook. We should react to scandals (past, present…future) first with sorrow for the offense against our Lord and the damage to his Mystical Body. We should grieve more that he is betrayed than that our counsel or advice was not heeded."
"The hallmark of Christians is charity, not churlishness. The pagans were moved by the Christians: "See how they love one another"—not "See how they complain to one another."
The belligerent spirit distracts us from the immediacy of our own sanctification. The never-ending discussion about the latest liturgical abuse, or catechetical disaster, or transfer, or suspension, etc.—all of the stuff out there—has very little to do with my own soul. My concern is first for my soul, and only secondarily for those matters that come within my sphere of influence. The devil delights for a man to put the smackdown on the pastor for rotten catechesis if he can get his soul in the process. He laughs himself silly when a pro-life activist neglects his own family—in defense of life."
"Be Joyful Warriors How do we wield the sword without impaling our souls on it? First (and last), we must be willing to suffer. It is not our job to correct everything. And trying to do so will only bring unrest. Yes, this means that at times we will have to bear wrongs and allow errors to go uncorrected. There are many rotten things in the Church, but none of them are of the Church."
"He [Jesus] commands us to learn from him not because of his severity but because he is meek and humble of heart (cf. Matt. 11:29). Yes, he cleansed the temple, but he also wept over Jerusalem. Some point to Sts. Athanasius and Catherine of Siena as examples of those who spoke forcefully to the hierarchy. In acknowledging that truth, we must not forget that they were not defined by such directness, nor did they do it without reserve. They suffered profoundly for the Church. We cannot follow their example of directness unless we imitate also their holiness and suffering."
"But we should find no joy in opposing a priest or a bishop on some point of doctrine, liturgy, etc. Indeed, it should bring us great sadness and regret. Nor should we rejoice in the least at the downfall of a priest or bishop, as if it vindicates our position. Rather, we should mourn the fall of one of the Lord’s anointed, as David did.
"Finally, we know that our Lady is the perfect image of the Church. ...perhaps we can see in her also a model of the Church Militant. One line from the Gospels brings this out: Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19). She both guards and cultivates. She kept all these things—there is the defensive part, to guard what we have been given. But she also pondered them in her heart—that is, she built them up within her heart. May she, "terrible as an army in battle array," (Song. 6:10) teach us how to fight manfully and build joyfully. Read the full article.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

The dominant modern defect in the Church today is the inability to say "No" to cultural absurdities. Standing on first principles or truth is a cultural critique that society does not readily stomach. Our Lord's justifiable anger in the Temple is rejected not only by the culture but by priests in the Church who like Fr. Scalia are more impressed with his weeping than by the manly rabinic hyperbole expressed in the Temple Cleansing. The Church is significantly feminized already without this type of facile judgement. Outrage is the legitimate response to injustice swept under the rug and was the readily apparent in lives of all the prophets. Modern day prophets do not survive formation teams at Seminary. They are embalmed and "toe tagged" and entombed as Scripture so often reminds us. Modern priests like Fr. Scalia would be scandalized by the likes of Isaiah, Jerimiah or John the Baptist. In fact Jesus himself would find himself commited to St. Luke's Institute after his Temple Cleansing which is the modern equivalent of the scourging at the Antonio Forum. Fr. Scalia has forfeited his right to the perfecting beatitudes by his self justified silence. Modeled after worldly prudence rather than longsuffering prophetic witness.

Anonymous said...

The above writer has it spot on. Rightgeous anger is a capital crime; legitimate correction considered brutish beligerence. The oft repeated maxim: Truth in Charity has become a platitude and a slogan. A man of the timber of ArchBishop Raymond Burke considered extreme because he insists on applying Canon Law not some American version of it.
Fr. Scalia's rule of prudence seems better married to cowardice rather than the prophetic role. The vannila priest posing as an English gentlemen in the House of Lords will never be cosummed with zeal for the House of God which our Lord spoke of. Cowards never really suffer either. They die comfortably in their beds.

Anonymous said...

Truth in the liberal age is considered to be belligerent and in the poorest of taste. Justice Scalia is vilified on the Supreme Court precisely because he stands for something. Of course charity must animate all the virtues as the ultimate crown. But Fr. Scalia's position is an invitation to mediocrity and the golden mean between good and evil. This position has been used as a sword to silence the truth in the modern day. Truth tellers are constantly accused either directly or by implication that they are bereft of charity. The accusation is right out of the liberal playbook and is the bread and butter of the impious. Fr. Scalia is better than a "useful idiot" to be used as a pawn to carry water for the left. Sorry Fr. Paul, you are your brother's keeper and called not to correct "'everything" but certainly that which is standing in front of you. The dictum often heard is "You have to pick your battles" reflects this same false prudence. Because those who are wont to repeating this are rarely found on the battle field with all due respect to the important distinction between daring-the needless and disproportional risk and courage.

Anonymous said...

Ditto fellas. That is exactly Bill Bennet's point in his book: " The Death of Outrage". Would that the world could witness more the outrage of believers in the face of injustice.

Anonymous said...

He is showing himself a son of his Bishop. Fr. Scalia's position is erily akin to the quietist position of the 5th century. A review of Augustine's "Admonition and Grace" will disabuse him of such superficial flights of fancy.

Anonymous said...

I read the full article:Mene, Tekel and Perez. Tried and found wanting. The mortified man will appear excessive to those with defects and defective to those with excesses. Appearing "churlish" to one's enemies is often the begining of suffering. How would Fr. Scalia evaluate the harsh words that St. Thomas More used against Martin Luther or the knucle sandwich serve up by St. Nicholas to Arias after an impious remark about the Blessed Mother at one of the Councils. This summation while not entirely off the mark misses more than it captures. Fr. Scalia confuses false judgment with critical thinking and justifies his own brand of ecclesial silence as he withdraws to the sidelines.

Anonymous said...

The Church has been accused of Churlish Belligerence for the last 2000 years. Does this priest not understand that the Word of God likened to a Sword in Sacred Scripture is in its very essence confrontational. Seems like Fr. Scalia wants a "kinder gentler" Truth. Pre-repentance the Gospel always appears Churlish and Belligerent. He is smart enough to know this so I ask the question: what is his true purpose in the article? Appeasement maybe?

Anonymous said...

The author's inability to make the distiction between appearance and reality is surprising. It would seem that the distinction and dynamic between subject and object eludes some when trying to make political points. The author makes a facile judgement that is in itself a move to "belligerence" which apparently he deplores. Observations by a boy not a man in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

The Babylonian message echoed by this priest is simply: "Don't rock the boat". A Rodney King Christianity of " Why can't we just all get along". This message while having a certain appeal to the weary is not congruent with the Gospel call to perseverence. Where there is Truth there is also Charity; and where true Charity there is Truth. They walk together and come in pairs. One with out the other is a lie. How old is this priest anyway... young it seems. To be helpful this article should have been on the perils of rash judgement.

Castellanus said...

I think you miss the point and would do well to re-read the article. He never says there is never cause for correction especially coming from a priest or Bishop. I think what he is driving at is the tendency on behalf of many laypersons to be uncharitable in their criticims as evidenced by some of the comments posted here, i.e, "vanilla priest"
I would suggest reading this letter from Fr. Scalia to Prof. O'Brien at Univ. of Holy Cross.
http://goodjesuitbadjesuit.blogspot.com/2007/10/fr-paul-scalia-on-untruth-at-college-of.html

Anonymous said...

Who missed the point? "Vanilla priest" is a well known description of the seminary candidate who does not rock the boat or question authority. It descibes a "thing" and does not condemn a motive. Scalia's atricle promotes this kind of thinking and evaluation of "motive" which if you are not Padre Pio is a fool's task. The fact that every expression is imperfect regardng the demands of perfect charity is not adequate grounds for the supression of comment. The judgment of the Christian is for the purpose of extending mercy not the condemnation which silences the pursuit of truth.

Anonymous said...

I think both the article and the blog makes a legitimate point. First, dialogue should generate more light than heat; second one should not be so swift and indeed reluctant to attribute "lack of charity" as someone's motive in dialogue. A presumption of good will should prevail in the dealing with others even to the extent of tolerating weakness or defects rather than making federal cases out of the speck in a brother's eye.

Anonymous said...

This article was susceptible to misunderstanding by the way it was written. It could be entitled: Complaining about complainers yet as noted above contains some presumptive and unsupported judgements about those who engage in such complaint. The Gospel mandate involves the Church in a critical but fair "engagement" of the culture. This article unwittlingly discourages such engagement and provided no wisdom of how to conduct the business of the Church Mititant other than to quip platitudenously: Be charitible. Unasailable in the abstract; not helpful in the concrete.

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