Friday, February 06, 2009

Stop increasing my culpability!

I had lots of repetitive pipetting to do in the lab yesterday, so I got out my iPod and listened to about seven sermons back to back while I worked. Aren't podcasts wonderful? Like having a radio station that plays only exactly what fascinates you at every moment. The sermons were great, except for one that pretty much stated flatly that every decent eligible committed Catholic has a religious vocation. How could that work? I'm still trying to make sense of it. (Update: I guess that particular preacher had been looking at the flow chart Joe mentions in the comments.)

But anyway, in one of the other sermons the priest challenged his congregation to a certain difficult and praiseworthy task-- I won't say what. He said he wanted every confirmed Catholic in the building, no matter his age, to have made some progress within a year. He pointed out that all are called to this, that it's desperately important, that there's really no excuse not to. "I'm as serious as a heart attack," said he.

"Ha ha," I thought, "those poor suckers who heard that sermon-- now there's no getting out of it!"

Then it occurred to me that I was hearing the sermon too. Stupid podcasts.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Well, of course, vocation to marriage, single life, or religious life :), but I liked your flow chart ;)

Rachel Ann said...

I am strongly opposed to the idea that all believers (cause if you took his idea far enough, I'm sure he would think it would be all believers) remain single. There is an excellent book called Sacred Marriage that I think all Christians should read, that talks about how marriage is a sacred work, too, and explains why. After all...God instituted it! And just think of Priscilla and Aquila...better TOGETHER. They did so much for the kingdom TOGETHER.

Not knocking celibacy, cause obviously God calls some to that, too. I just hate how some people knock marriage.

And you know what? Now that I'm on a roll, here's one of the reasons why marriage is important...essential even: Paul equates Christ and the Church to a marriage relationship. I feel like a truly Godly marriage, where the husband serves his wife as Christ has served us, and where the wife submits to the husband as the church is to submit to Christ is an INCOMPARABLE living, breathing testament to the non-believing world (and yeah, yeah, I know I'm totally a hypocrite cause of some of the things I've written on my blog...I'm learning). I just hate when people negate it. That is not the heart of God.

Rachel Gray said...

Every other Catholic speaker I've heard totally agrees with that-- forbidding marriage and requiring celibacy was even an early Christian heresy that St. Paul condemned in one of his letters to Timothy.

So I'm hoping that particular priest was just being hyperbolic, but it was odd.

Joseph said...

To say that all Catholics, or all committed Catholics have a religious vocation does not necessarily imply understanding celibacy as required, or forbidding marriage, which is of course heretical. There are different ways people understand vocation, and they don't (and shouldn't) always understand it as obligatory: I quote from Fr. Butler's book Religious Vocation: An Unnecessary Mystery:

Father Maggiolo succinctly sums up the doctrinal position of St. Thomas: "Religious vocation is not an exceptional grace reserved to a privileged few but ... an invitation extended by Jesus Christ to all without distinction." Counsel, objectively, is static and sterile of itself, and so the divine operation in the subject is required; for vocation "has efficacy only by an internal impulse of the Holy Ghost that causes to rise in the heart an appreciation of and desire for the religious life."...
The writer or speaker discussing religious life, therefore, should make his appeal general and objective. His approach should not be: "Is God calling you—look into your heart of hearts, etc." Rather, the approach should be the Christlike challenge to all, appealing to personal courage and generosity to effect a response: "God is calling you, daring you to follow Him. Are you generous enough, etc.?"

Whether or not one agrees with this, it is not really the same as denying the goodness of marriage, but is only asserting the superiority of celibacy/religious life and the invitation to it by Christ. It can be hard to hold both of these things in one's mind however.

Someone else recently asked me a question related to the apparent position of the priest you mention: he expressed it this way: "Is marriage only for the weak?" (Apparently corresponding to the idea that the marriage vocation is only for "uncommitted" Catholics.) I hope to post a response on my blog within a day or so.