What happens when Catholics miss the point of their faith?
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A Catholic professor has penned a remarkable short article pointing out what happens when Catholics get caught up in movements that have little to do with Christ.
What happens when a religious order becomes too involved in secular affairs?
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Crisis Magazine has published an insightful short article by Timothy J. Williams, professor at the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University at Steubenville.
His piece tells the story of a small community of nuns, mostly in their 70s, who have built a faux chapel in a cornfield to block the construction of a natural gas pipeline. The chapel is a table covered with a lattice and about eight benches, all exposed to the open air. On the basis of this construction, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ have filed suit to protect their sacred place.
In reality, they are joined with environmental protestors and are attempting to use religious freedom as a means to block otherwise lawful construction. They are partnered with "Lancaster Against Pipelines," a community group opposed to fracking in Pennsylvania.
The problem isn't that they have an opposition to fracking. The problem is that they are using their faith as a weapon to participate in partisan society. They have chosen a side, drawn lines, and established a fortification, albeit flimsy.
This isn't what Christ has called people to do, and correctly, Williams points out that their tiny religious community is on the verge of extinction. That's what happens to a community that loses sight of its intended purpose.
As Christians, there is nothing wrong with having opinions. It is okay for those opinions to be strong, and to motivate us to action. After all, many of us are quick to support pro-life movements.
But if we take vows and enter religious, contemplative life, then there is an expectation that we are going to transcend many of the cares of this world to laser-focus on leading a Christlike life. And that life does not allow for distractions from pop-culture movements. It's understandable to interact with the world, indeed, this is often the calling. But interaction to the point of complete distraction is a matter of concern.
More importantly, your religious order should not be used as a weapon in a partisan conflict.
History is filled with hundreds of extinct religious orders. In every case, the order was founded by a holy person. And in every case, the order went astray, usually as it became more concerned with secular affairs, such as moneymaking and power. It never ends well for the order.
Likewise, we too as individuals can take a lesson here. We must not become so focused on our opinions that we lose sight of the real purpose of our life, which is to love God and one another. We must not use our faith as an offensive weapon. We must not allow ourselves to chase money, power, fame, or to become caught up in cult movements. All these activities are antithetical to the message of Christ.
Let's use this cautionary tale to refocus our practice on Christ, and not on the temporary distractions of this world.
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