As to why I am writing this book, that is quite straightforward, and it may surprise you. For, despite the firestorm of polemics to which I subjected you above, this work is not for the sake of wearisome, power-driven argumentation. The world clings to that method, a method that never fails to make itself perceived as an ungraceful fencing duel where the only strategy of both opponents is to make endless, unimaginative, lunging touchés to draw blood. Nor am I doing this to win an intellectual debate, for the authoritatively degreed will tell me that I am not qualified for that exercise. Not that I wholly agree with that, but entering into that fray would only turn this into that same useless, power-driven, argumentation I mentioned previously, only now we must waste our time quoting sources.
My confidence to confront those who, no matter how learned, disagree with me comes from my desire to obey, for if anything I am writing is determined authoritatively and objectively to be in error with Church teaching, I will strike it out or burn it myself and will seek the reconciliation of the Church in sacramental confession. That obedience gives me the freedom and boldness to speak as I do. I shield myself in battle with the Church’s authority, not my own.
The reason, then, I write the story of how this dogma of God’s Church came to be so alive in my soul is that love for God and for my fellow man drives me to do so. You might ask how dogma and universal love can coexist. Are these two not antithetical? Does not dogma intolerantly exclude those outside the dogmatist’s belief system, just as we confront and kill an enemy outside a castle to save the kingdom? Are not all those who oppose us our “enemy”? Is not dogma merely another word for intolerance, itself being a thinly veiled synonym for hate? This might be true in the darkened intellect of the modern secular man but not to the Christian who loves God. On the contrary, these two concepts are reconciled because God is, universally and objectively, both dogmatic truth and perfect love. It may seem paradoxical, but objective, dogmatic truth and universal love are wholly compatible and even necessary complements to each other because both originate from the one triune God. It is this apparent paradox of love and dogma that I will discuss in this chapter, for it is most important.
This very same paradox drove St. Joan of Arc to comfort a dying English soldier on the battlefield, praying and even shedding tears for him. (Twain 2007). This very same paradox led the Lord to say that we should love our enemy, while also telling us that he has come not to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34). This very same paradox drove Jesus to clear the Temple of money-changers by force, throwing down their tables and running them out with a whip, while still loving those same sinners enough to die for them. (John 2:15). The key to this paradox is the following: Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He is alive and has a will of his own. He loves humanity. His saints, including his most Holy Mother Mary, are alive and are real people who also love humanity. The living Founder of the Catholic Church has a will for us and the world at large, as well as a love for us and the world at large, even today in this lost fantasy world created by the modern “enlightened” and atheistic mind.
The mind of Christendom knew this paradox well. When Joan of Arc led her army into battle, she did so because she loved Jesus and Mary while also loving her enemies enough to free them rather than holding them as prisoners of war. For the medieval mind, Jesus truly was resurrected, and could not be reduced to a mere “enlightened” spirit risen “in their hearts” (but not physically). Likewise, we must be careful not to reduce Christ to a mere good feeling or philosophy.
Jesus, Mary, and the saints are real. Dogma and love are about the real, physical resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that he is dogmatic truth, while his love for the world resolves the paradox of dogma and love.
How does this paradox manifest itself appropriately in our lives? Dogmatism without love is an unsightly state of affairs and often is the cause of disgust for religion, particularly Catholicism. We must be uncompromising in our beliefs while also indefatigable in our willingness to sacrifice lovingly for others.
To begin, the resurrected Christ says today that which he spoke two thousand years ago; he does not change (Hebrews 13: 8-9). This is the origin of, and reason for, dogma. Jesus determines what is right and what is wrong. Jesus, being God in the form of the Second Person of the Trinity, determines which is which. People suffer and die because they do not accept those last two statements or are indifferent to them. Christ, in order to redeem us, allowed men to judge and condemn him when he came the first time. However, Christ, and he alone, is the King before the Father in heaven. It is before his judgment that all earthly powers will kneel the second time he comes. Christ and his laws, his judgments, and his will are supreme to any earthly king or judicial body.
For example, England, apparently against the will of Jesus, sunk its claws deeply into France during the Hundred Years War and denied Charles VII his rightful place as King of France. That is what Joan of Arc’s Voices more or less told her. She was to ask the English to leave without bloodshed but to remove them by force of arms if necessary. Of course, Jesus loves the English as much as he loves the French. He loves all people of all nations, but how often do we not realize that Jesus is alive and has a will of his own for us as individuals, families, communities, and nations, just as he had a will for France during Joan of Arc’s time. He is, objectively speaking, King of all creation! Yes, Christ loves all of us; however, those whom he loves can be working against his will. Therefore, we must fight wars at times for the sake of Christ’s kingdom, be they personal, cultural, or even at times real wars, and, in fact, the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church both use the term warfare to describe this battle between the kingdom of man and the kingdom of God.
Yet, above all this battling for the kingdom of God, a universal love still governs our attitudes. We battle for the God-man Christ, and we love for the God-man Christ. It is not the Catholic religion’s fault that war is the watchword, nor is it the dogmatist’s fault for testifying to absolute, objective truth by the authority of the Church Christ founded. The fault lies with our rebellious self-willfulness against God, which leads us to resist his charity as an addict resists the help of a loving family. We do not blame a friend, who for love’s sake hurts our feelings or makes us angry in the act of saving us from harmful behaviors, and we should not blame the Catholic religion, acting out of love, for moving our souls out of eternal harm’s way to save us from ourselves and from the evils that influence us. These are acts of dogmatic love.
This, of course, implies that the truly living, resurrected Christ through his Catholic Church knows more about what is good for us than we do ourselves and is, therefore, everyone’s moral authority. That last sentence can enrage the prideful modern mind filled with philosophies of self-affirmation and self-determination. On the contrary, the truth behind that sentence above is the key to freedom and love in the dogma of the Church. The Freedom Dance I will share with you below absolutely depends on that sentence. The modern mind howls at the notion that Christ is the legitimate and authentic moral authority over all people, even over those who do not believe. Yet, how could it be logically any different unless Jesus, the Founder of the Catholic Church, is resurrected to some lands but not others, or is resurrected to the person in one house but not his neighbor, this being disconnected reasoning. The Crusaders, God bless them, did not fall for this illogical, relativistic assertion that Christ is God for some but not for others. They defended Christendom with dogmatic fervor and helped spread her influence. To deny dogmatic Catholic truth is to deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a rational disconnect that too many Catholics willingly accept.
Christ is objective truth by virtue of his resurrection, and his teachings do not change. Therefore, even if you are skeptical of Christ’s resurrection, do not believe that he was merely a “feel good” New Age psychotherapist. Christ’s teachings have not changed, and he did not teach Eastern “impersonal nothingness” or pop psychology. He instructed his followers to pick up their personal cross and follow him. He emphasized that he had come not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) The resurrected Christ is the one transmitted to us for over two thousand years through the apostolic succession of his Church. He is alive, and he teaches through the Catholic Church.
The dogma of the Catholic Church places demands on our lives and for good reasons stemming from dogma’s origin in the objectively true physical resurrection of Christ and his unchanging message. That is the first part. Now we look at the second part, the manifestation of love based on knowing and having a relationship with the resurrected Christ and recognizing him through his authentic revelation guarded by that institutional Church he personally founded. Mere intellectual devotion to a philosophy about him is not enough. Philosophies and ideologies alone would not drive Joan of Arc to free France or to comfort the dying enemy while she was at it. It is a personal loving relationship with the real person of Christ, the author of Catholic dogma, that unravels the mystery of warriors who can wield swords in Christ’s name.
In order to love the real person of Christ, we must first believe with reason that we have a reason to believe in the resurrected Christ of Catholic Dogma, rather than in the imagined and illogical Christ of modern New Age spirituality. Let us take a moment to see if it is reasonable to believe that this resurrected Christ does exist. If we find that it is reasonable, we will know that everything else about him is just as real, including his love for us, collectively and individually. We then will be wielding spiritual swords ourselves for love and the Kingdom of God!
Let us start with the stipulation that we should not allow skeptics to intimidate us about the reality of the physically resurrected Christ. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ are the most dramatic moments in human history whereby heaven answers all of man’s questions, in the very short geological time-frame of thirty-three years, with real physical evidence. I truly wonder if today’s materialistic atheists, agnostics, or run of the mill secularists so busy creating “new world orders” in their spare time founded on physical science and “human potentiality,” ever give this notion an intellectually honest moment of thought. None of the material evidence favoring the claims of Jesus Christ are relevant to them. They cannot be relevant, simply because this religion is not supposed to be true and would be a wild pestilence to atheists and self-seeking secularists if it were.
Likewise, they reject the historically proven ability of Catholicism to create a positive world order with a vibrant, life-giving spirituality in exchange for some wild and dangerous experiment with radical individualism that seems to glory in calling vulgarity progress. Why do the media channels continue to sink us ever more deeply into the sickness of vulgar language, violence, and sensuality? The secularists suppose that this is what “progressive” people do. They reject the noble moral foundation of Christendom for nudity, violence, and blasphemy. They call this “freedom.”
It is always easy to be skeptical and cynical, that is not a particularly challenging intellectual exercise, but with regard to the claims of the Church, it is also easy to believe if one only accepts the challenge to open one’s mind. The case against the resurrection is far from being the only reasonable one, or even the best one. If this were a typical scientific question purely in the material realm, science would agree with the viability of the “pro” position even if it could not support it conclusively. It is not Faith versus Science here; it is Faith versus Skepticism. Using scientific reasoning, the skeptic has reasons to be skeptical. Using scientific reasoning, the believer has reasons to believe. It is unlikely that science alone will conclusively prove anything one way or the other. “Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of realities that are unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The writers of the bible understood this as common sense, which perhaps is why the author of Hebrews went on to make the next obvious point, “Now it is impossible to please God without faith, since anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) The modern, skeptical mind quite regularly overlooks common sense. Do you not think that this all should get attention that is more serious?
For example, today’s generic skeptic wants physical evidence, yet drives by a Catholic Church not knowing that he is near Christ in the flesh, that is, Jesus’ substantive presence in the Eucharist. Of course, the skeptic does not accept this faith in the Eucharist as scientific. However, hundreds witnessed Christ after his resurrection. Many throughout history witnessed Eucharistic miracles. Why does the skeptic ignore these testimonies and keep his mind closed to what those first-hand accounts might prove?
The atheist and skeptic reject this evidence and these testimonies of the “greatest story ever told” on the basis that they simply cannot (or, more accurately for the atheist, must not!) be true; therefore, they are not. Their scholastic efforts to translate history whitewash and “demystify” the translation by telling us that all the so-called testimony was mere allegory and did not really happen. If scripture tells us, the logic goes, that Jesus prophesized that the Temple would be destroyed, and the Temple then was destroyed in A.D. 70, the writing of that story must have been made up after A.D. 70 when the Temple destruction was known, because, you see, no one can really prophesy. That the destruction of the Temple must be known already for anyone to say that Jesus predicted it is the logic of the skeptical storyteller. There are no miracles, only folk stories illuminating Jesus’ generous humanism, at least in the mind of the skeptic.
The skeptic assumes pure materialism to be the universal first philosophy; though, he has no reason or evidence that this should be so and makes it, therefore, merely a dogma of his own. The oxymoronic result is that he has no problem worshiping what he calls reason, even though he cannot see it, but he will not worship God for the very reason that he cannot see him. If, on the other hand, scientific theories had the kind of eyewitness confirmations that Christ does for his resurrection, these theories might be laws. Yet, to the skeptic considering Christ, this is not acceptable simply because they assume a supernatural first-philosophy.
It is not the objective of this book to make conclusive arguments favoring a belief in the resurrected Christ, for there is a plethora of material on that subject written by able scholars. My only point here is that if one is to be a skeptic, he should be skeptical of sweeping and too rarely challenged claims made by those who protest belief in the resurrection. If you were to follow the evidence with a broadened mind that considers a supernatural first philosophy, you will discover the answer to which the evidence points, and most startling of all, you will find that truth is, in all reality, a living, resurrected person rather than a philosophical argument or a scientific theory. This is the critical missing link most often overlooked by secularists and materialists. It is a person who is truth, not a philosophy or theory. It is a person who is love. This person is Jesus Christ who proved the truth of his claim by the public witness of his resurrection to eternal life.
Now, we are getting somewhere! We love a person! We follow the person we love with all the dogmatic fervor that Joan’s troops had when following her! Can we blame anyone for loving a person with dogmatic fervor? You will find yourself, then, loving this particular man who is truth and goodness, this very perfect God-man who is indeed the summation of reality itself, all in a way most personal and life-changing. You will realize that mere men did not found the Catholic Church, as the Church’s opponents are fond of saying, but that a God-man founded it! That is a paradigm-shifting difference! When you reach this point, you become that very paradox mentioned above; that is, you become ruthlessly dogmatic while at the same time loving those over whose head you club with your dogma. You are unwilling to compromise what you know to be the truth about this person, but that is because of love; we cannot possibly think of this as hate. We have this fundamental misunderstanding with the world; we are dogmatic because we love him who is objective truth, not because we hate those who oppose us.
Using an analogy, if you knew a person who could cure all of the terrible cancers in the world, would you not be ruthlessly dogmatic in promoting him? Would not love of humanity be your motive? Would you allow others to die because they choose not to believe your person is authentic or because they ostracize you for being intolerant of those with other opinions? Would you, dare I ask, even start a crusade for this person to get your solution out?
The world believes that dogmatic souls must be hateful. On the contrary, we who discover Christ are exceptionally dogmatic out of love. This is not a paradox to the Catholic Christian, but it is to the rest of the world. We must honor him who is truth, and share him in his entirety so that others may experience this fullness of love, life, and freedom. Like many Catholics down through the ages, we must suffer rebuffs from a world that interprets dogma only as evil, but we must do so for love, love of Christ, love of our neighbor, and as Christ himself demands, love of our enemy. Dogmatic love forces its way out to embrace the world.