Sunday, July 15, 2018

How Pious-Sounding But Silly Platitudes Trip Up Good Catholics

I speak mostly of pious-sounding platitudes that are put before some good Catholics by others whom they hold in esteem.  Many of them contain some elements of truth, but the truth is never differentiated from the outright rubbish that is also contained.  So let's start.

The first is actually a statement of St Mother Teresa of Calcutta that has been largely yanked out of its context.  In an interview when a reporter asked her about the growth of her order and her work, she said, "God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful."
  • She was speaking only of herself and the work of her order.  I would bet that she, in her wildest nightmares, would never have envisioned that Catholics in other apostolates,would attempt to take her statement and turn it into a maxim for their own work.
  • She was responding to inquiries about her success.  Too often pro-lifers, when faced with failed efforts, whip out that quote in a knee-jerk fashion instead of doing the hard work to see why failed and to learn from mistakes.  They'd rather do that then address their own failures, and more frighteningly so, the failures of their co-workers.
  • In adopting her quote for their own work, pro-lifers actually act in disregard of the words of another saint, Pope St John Paul II.  At the 1993 World Youth Day in Colorado, he told all people there "woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life".  Notice that he said nothing about merely "trying" and "being faithful".  The Holy Father clearly laid on our shoulders the onus for objectively measurable, tangible success.  We are NOT allowed to yank Mother Teresa's statement out of context to give our failures an "escape clause".
  • Now a little dose of irony.  If pro-lifers don't examine their failures and learn from them, if they don't strive with every ounce of effort to succeed, if they don't take ownership of their efforts and outcomes - they aren't truly being faithful!
Here's another regrettable platitude.  It is half-true and half-nonsensical.  "God doesn't called the equipped; He equips the called".  The second half of that statement is quite true.  It's the first one that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  Consider that every ability, every talent that we have has its source in God, right?  So if "God doesn't call the equipped", that is, the people on whom He bestowed the "equipment", why did He give them the "equipment" in the first place?  That's absurd.

These are just two examples that come to mind.  As I run across more, I will dissect them too.

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