Friday, March 20, 2009

What to expect when dealing with bad will and/or willful blindness

Pope Vigilius, Council of Constantinople II, 553, ex cathedra: "...we bear in mind what was promised about the holy church and him who said that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (by these we understand the death-dealing tongues of heretics)"

Most people, lamentably, do not possess good will, perhaps otherwise described as the ability to hear ideas opposed to own's own and reflect before responding honestly and charitably. This is often because they do not care to obey the precepts of the Natural Law, written on their hearts, and on the hearts of all men, thus they either do not realize they need Christ, or they have been given over to blindness (2nd Thessalonians 2:10 - see below).  How do you deal with a wilfully blind person? This is an important question these days, since it seems 99.9% of the world is comprised of them, at least as far as the truth of the Catholic Faith is concerned.  And as can be seen, I am no exception to propensity for blindness in some area or another.

From my own experiences talking to people who are already calling themselves Catholic or Christian, I have found that when confronted with the more obvious passages from the Bible that support Catholic doctrines, the results can vary:

1. Pride, refusal to believe that the Church could be right all the time (denial of infallibility) usually followed by the hypocritical assertion that I am prideful for strictly adhering to the Church's infallible supreme authority. A very strong indicator of bad will, though infrequently it may also represent a sincere ignorance of the dogma of infallibility, it's divine origin and it's precise definition and scope.  For when the dogma of the pope's infallibility is properly understood, many objections to the doctrine of Catholicism start to melt away, because they are in fact arguments against something entirely other than Catholicism.  A strawman if you will.

2. Calumny, or resorting to ad hominems and other logical fallacies, attacking me for the dogmas they disagree with, as though I was the Pope who uttered the ex cathedra statements that teach them, or as if I have no right to believe what God has revealed through His Word and the Tradition of the Church or the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, or that to believe it is racist, bigoted, intolerant, etc. This is a certain sign of bad will, since they are clearly attacking God's law, though they may think they are only attacking me or the Church, which they believe only to be a fallible assembly of men. I can only hope and pray that these receive the same mercy that St. Paul received when Christ appeared to him and converted him.  This is often done after I present a doctrine, and they rebut with a Scripture, which I can then demonstrate the Catholic context for, in addition to numerous other examples and analogies that show Catholicism is the true religion.  Unable to answer truth with anything convincing, they look focus their attacks on something they can pick apart.... more strawmen, or perhaps miserable and foolish me.  Fine, but the truth of the Church remains, regardless, you only made yourself feel better by unleashing your hate on someone who loves/loved or is praying to love the Lord.

Act of the Apostles 9:5: "Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest."

3. Outright refusal to listen. Once a person with willful blindness sees that his position is indefensible, he shows his bad will by refusing to proceed any further with the discussion, after which almost invariably come one or both of the above two conditions. They may feel that they simply have not learned enough about the subject matter being debated, and therefore feel that they need time to do some research and come back to debate some more, which is often a sign of good will, or they may simply realize that their position is indefensible and for some mysterious reason, their pride will not allow them admit to it and abjure of their folly. Worse yet, these will often invent a straw man argument, or present factually untrue "evidence" in an attempt to not only confirm themselves in their own deception but draw others into it as well.  Or perhaps their cognitive dissonance is so high that they literally cannot comprehend the arguments put forth.

4. The most frustrating of all signs of willful blindness and bad will are those people who profess to be Catholic and offer up contradictory theology, which does not even begin to resemble true Catholic theology, as an attempted defense of their untenable positions. These ridiculous people know deep down that the Church has always taught the same thing, that dogmas are immutable and to be held as they were once declared, but they jump around the issue, or they insist that the dogmas are now understood in a different way, or that there were exceptions that were not posited when it was pronounced and that obvious contradictions are only apparent or alleged contradictions, thereby denying infallibility here as well, at least implicitly.

The worst part is that (I suspect) most of these people are legitimately convinced by their own fallacious beliefs. They fail to see how dishonest their positions really are, and are further unwilling to admit their mistakes. What's more is they tend to pick a side before they even begin, and they resolve themselves to prove that side correct, no matter how much logic and infallible dogma is thrown at them.

Have we all made mistakes? Yes. I don't believe there is a single person in the world who has not, myself included. I willingly admit that there was a time in my life when I was agnostic. I didn't know anything about God and to my shame, I didn't care. I lived a life disgustingly sinful and proud and it did not look like I was ever going to change.

Slowly but surely God has called me further and further out of my deep blindness.  But with this, as with all things, once the full Truth stands revealed, it is glorious and perfect, as are all those truths which come from God.

My purpose is to know and love the Truth, plain and simple and that is what I have prayed for. When I realized that I wasn't sure about it, I finally admitted to God that I was spiritually blinded and asked Him (through Mary) to give me the knowledge I so desperately wanted so that I could share it with others. I didn't realize just what level of sacrifice I would have to make for the Truth, but I was resolved to meet it whatever it would be.

It is really scary to think about propagating the Gospel if you don't know the truth - the world is so hostile to Christian ANYTHING, who wants to be one of the few who tells it as it actually is?  Anybody in their right mind, that's who.  Because God can overcome all ignorance in us, and His love can inspire all courage. No one should dare to do so and risk greater damnation by spreading what could for all they know be a false Gospel, so I was resolved to learn it and obey it no matter what sacrifices I have to make for it. Sadly most people are not humble enough or docile enough to give up their families, their friends, even their sinful pastimes for God's sake. Why should God give them the Truth unto salvation?  Especially when I barely trust my own self to recognize it?  I speak these things publicly so that if you know I am wrong and where and why, then you can tell me and be God's instrument by which I am saved from my ignorance.

When a person is resolved to give up the world as our Lord tells us we must, and seek Him, of course we will find Him. And once we have, it is our duty to preach to every creature and to denounce and reject all those who denounce and reject the Gospel, insofar as their salvation is concerned.  Scripture is clear on this point, through the exhortations of Jesus Christ, St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul.

St. Matthew 18:17: "And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican."

2 St. John 1:10: "If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you."

1 Corinthians 5:11-13: "But now I have written to you, not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat. For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not you judge them that are within? For them that are without, God will judge. Put away the evil one from among yourselves."

Heretics like to say "Who are you to judge?!" They like to argue that Jesus tells us we are not to judge, but like all things they twist this out of context as well.

St. Matthew 7:1: "Judge not, that you may not be judged,"

This is usually as far as they get. This one verse suffices to make their point. However, they leave out the other important parts.

St. Matthew 7:2-5: "For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

Clearly Jesus is telling us that unless we are refraining from whatever crime it is that we are judging our neighbour to be guilty of, then we have no right to make such judgments as we would be hypocrites. A heretic, however, who is denying the Truth certainly needs to be denounced by those who uphold the Truth.

And again, our Lord tells us that if such heretics are bad willed, obstinate, stubborn or in any other way resisting the Truth, then we should not even bother with them, lest they poison our souls as theirs also have been poisoned.

St. Matthew 7:6: "Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you."

St. Luke 12:56-57: "You hypocrites, you know how to discern the face of the heaven and of the earth: but how is it that you do not discern this time? And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?"

We must learn how to judge what is just so that we can effectively admonish sinners and heretics for their conversion, that is, until they obstinately resist.

St. Mark 6:11: "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you; going forth from thence, shake off the dust from your feet for a testimony to them."

St. Titus 3:10-11: "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: Knowing that he, that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment."

How much more succinctly can it be summed up than Titus 3:10? If someone is bad willed and not open to the Truth, then we are exposing ourselves to danger just by being around them. If they will not let us drag them to heaven, we certainly should not let them drag us to hell, but that is the likely outcome if we socially commune with them, and it is the certain outcome if we spiritually commune with them by praying with them, thereby becoming schismatic and non-Catholic ourselves.

1 Corinthians 10:21-22: "You cannot drink the chalice of the Lord, and the chalice of devils: you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?"

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supp. to Part III, Q. 23, Art 2:
"...An excommunicated person is banished from communion. Therefore whoever communicates with him leaves the communion of the Church [commits schism]: and hence he seems to be excommunicated.I answer that, A person may incur excommunication in two ways. First, so that the excommunication includes both himself and whosoever communicates with him: and then, without any doubt, whoever communicates with him, incurs a major excommunication. Secondly, so that the excommunication is simply pronounced on him; and then a man may communicate with him [the excommunicant] either in his crime [encouraging or participating in the excommunicant's idolatry, prayer to false gods], by counsel, help or favor, in which case again he incurs the major excommunication, or he may communicate with him in other things by speaking to him, greeting him, or eating with him, in which case he incurs the minor excommunication."

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supp. to Part III, Q. 23, Art 3:
"...some hold that it is always a mortal sin to hold communion with an excommunicated person, by word or in any of the forbidden ways mentioned above (A[2]), except in those cases allowed by law (Cap. Quoniam). But since it seems very hard that a man should be guilty of a mortal sin by uttering just a slight word to an excommunicated person, and that by excommunicating a person one would endanger the salvation of many, and lay a snare which might turn to one's own hurt, it seems to others more probable that he is not always guilty of a mortal sin, but only when he holds communion with him in a criminal deed, or in an act of Divine worship [encouraging or participating in the excommunicant's idolatry, prayer to false gods], or through contempt of the Church."

Those who reject the Church are to be considered as heathens.

St. Matthew 18:17: "...and if he will not hear the Church, let him be as a heathen and a publican."

1 Corinthians 10:20: "But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God."

Even to encourage the prayer of an obstinate, bad-willed non-Catholic is gravely sinful. It is because of their bad will, obstinacy or stubbornness that many non-Catholics reject the Church. It is a sacrilege to think that such bad willed persons can approach the throne of God in prayer, for we know that only the prayers of the humble are accepted by the Lord.

1st St. Peter 5:5: "for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace"

So it is a denial of common sense and Scripture to believe that obstinate, bad-willed non-Catholics, who have just rejected the Catholic God (by stubbornly believing in heresy, adhering to, supporting or defending schismatic sects, etc), can then somehow pray and sacrifice to the same Catholic God, whose Faith and teaching they have just rejected. They do not worship the true God.

It is not permissible for a Catholic to encourage the prayer of an obstinate bad-willed, non-Catholic because the prayers would be directed to a false god and therefore be idolatry and a violation of the First Commandment.

To encourage, endorse, tolerate or participate in this would be sacrilege and schism, unless we properly qualify that they must only pray to the one true God of the Catholic Faith, and only for their own conversion after humbling themselves and resolving to learn the true faith and obtain contrition for their sins. If they are not showing signs of humility, of good will and willingness to learn and convert, if they show only bad will, it is entirely better to avoid these people altogether as much as we are able, whether they are parents, brothers, sisters, co-workers, etc.

Pope Vigilius, Second Council of Constantinople, Canon 11, 553 A.D., ex cathedra: “If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinarius, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their heretical books, and also all other heretics who have already been condemned and anathematized by the holy, catholic and apostolic church and by the four holy synods which have already been mentioned, and also all those who have thought or now think in the same way as the aforesaid heretics and who persist in their error even to death: let him be anathema.”

Ephesians 5:11: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

Pope Pius IX, Etsi Multa, 1873, #26: "[...] Therefore, by the authority of Almighty God, We excommunicate and hold as anathema Joseph Hubert himself and all those who attempted to choose him, and who aided in his sacrilegious consecration. We additionally excommunicate whoever has adhered to them and belonging to their party has furnished help, favor, aid, or consent. We declare, proclaim, and command that they are separated from the communion of the Church. They are to be considered among those with whom all faithful Christians are forbidden by the Apostle to associate and have social exchange to such an extent that, as he plainly states, they may not even be greeted. (2 St. John 1:10)"

Anathematize (meaning simply make an act of the will to let them go, and let God deal with them, after one or two admonitions)  and avoid bad willed, stubborn heretics and enemies of God and the natural law. The most you can do is be cordial and charitable with them if you have to work with them, or purchase goods or services from them, but leave it at that.

Josue 23:11-13: "This only take care of with all diligence, that you love the Lord your God. But if you will embrace the errors of these nations that dwell among you, and make marriages with them, and join friendships: Know ye for a certainty that the Lord your God will not destroy them before your face, but they shall be a pit and a snare in your way, and a stumblingblock at your side, and stakes in your eyes, till he take you away and destroy you from off this excellent land, which he hath given you."

Do not befriend them. Don't pray with them, don't eat with them, don't shop with them, don't play with them, don't engage them in discussions, not even for their conversion, unless they show clear signs of good will; willingness to learn the true faith and convert.

St. Matthew 7:6: "Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you."

Otherwise stay away as much as you are reasonably able, since they have shown you their unwillingness to listen to reason and Truth. They will drag you to hell with them if they can by constant temptations to condone their sins. Since they pray not to the true God, to pray with them, encourage their prayers or commune with them spiritually would be spiritual fornication and adultery against the true God of the true Faith. If this seems harsh and hard to believe, then consider the words of Jesus Christ our Lord:

St. Matthew 7:13:
"Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat."

St. Matthew 12:36
: "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment."

St. Luke 18:8: "...But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?"

And Saint Paul's admonition to the Corinthians to excommunicate in the case of physical fornication must certainly also be applied in cases of spiritual fornication.

1 Corinthians 5:1, 5: "It is absolutely heard, that there is fornication among you... To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."

We do bad willed heretics no good at all by accepting them as they are and pretending nothing is wrong. This is sinful and scandalous and will most likely lead to our own spiritual blindness. Sinful, because we are then tacitly accepting every error that makes them enemies of God and His Truth, which we would not do if we loved God and His Truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:10: "And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying"

Those of us who have friends or relatives who are bad willed in denying the Truth, we must admonish, and when they refuse to listen, we must shake the dust from our feet for a testimony to them, hoping that they will see that we truly believe that they sin and are subverted, being condemned by their own judgment. All we can do after these admonitions is to avoid any unnecessary dealing with them, and pray from afar with fastings and penances that they convert to the Catholic Faith before their deaths, being always ready to satisfy them if they come to us in humility, sincerely asking for the reason for that faith which is in us (1 St. Peter 3:15). This is tough love. This is real love.  Their presence is dangerous, so if you must be around them, especially  regularly, be on your guard and pray always!

St. Matthew 10:37: "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me."

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