Are we losing our focus?


#1

I sometimes wonder, as I watch us engage in discussion that often “goes south”, if we are losing our focus on our search for God, or more precisely God’s search for us.

The following is the opening paragraph from Abraham Heschel’s God in Search of Man:

It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by disciplne, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion–its message becomes meaningless.

And lest anyone consider what an apt commentary this is on today’s state of things, consider that this was written in 1955. Unfortunately, I far too often see exactly the symptoms the author notes here, and in myself included.

How do we start to work together to recover that “living fountain” that is Christ?

Peace,


#2

I think a lot of people are apt to become proud and arrogant when others don’t see things the same way. This is something I’ve always struggled with. Pride is the root of all evil. I don’t think that it’s something that will go away any time soon.

However, I’m not going to just ignore the philosophies that are damaging so many people today. I’m not going to idealize the past and say that there were no problems, either. I think you have to love tradition, but not to the point where you become extreme and push others away.

I have tried to stay away from debates lately, because it sometimes became a contest just to see who could make a better comeback. We wouldn’t even try to see the other’s point. I’m not backing down on any of my positions…I just don’t think that arguing really wins many people over.


#3

I think there’s a lot of truth to what you say Trevor. The need to “win”, which implies then that someone else must “lose”, is very strong in us.

It seems though, that when we are talking about the Church of the Prince of Peace, that we should be looking for “win-win” situations. That we should actively be trying to find the common ground–without sacrificing our core beliefs–to live the life that will draw people to God. Certainly there are things that are damaging out there, but the question of how to deal with them is key. Do we do it by poking our finger in someone’s chest and screaming at them, either literally or figuratively? Or do we take St. Francis’s approach of “Preach the gospel always; use words if necessary.”

The biggest problem that I see is that we have too many willing to die–no, actually for *someone else *to die–over things that are not really Truth or Tradition, but truth and tradition that are really much more a matter of preference.

I’m personally just growing weary of watching my brothers and sisters in Christ clawing each other’s eyes out over which group God likes better. :rolleyes: For in the end, God is always on the “side” of the wounded and humble who seek Him with a childlike surrender, rather than those who think they already have all the answers and who then don’t really think they need Him.

Let them all be one Father, as we are One.


#4

From the rules of TC forum

Please, when you start a thread make sure it contains a reference to why it should be in the Traditional Catholicism forum. This forum is quite topic specific, so if you don’t want your threads moved to other forums please indicate why it should be in the TC forum (unless it deals directly with the following topics: the Traditional Latin Mass, the Indult, SSPX, sedevacantism). Thank you, everyone.

Not sure where this will be moved… possibly Spirituality? Anyway, just to let you know John.

Well, actually - I should give you the benefit of the doubt, this could have been a simple mistake of not knowing the right sub-forum to post this thread in, but - did you post this thread here deliberately rather than posting it in Spirituality where it probably should go, because everyone there already thinks the same as you, but here you get to stir the pot with the traditionalists? Come on, that’s not the way we do things around here.


#5

Just so everyone knows, I approved this thread for the TC forum at the request of the OP. Thank you.


#6

Who is Abraham Heschel?:

Heschel was famed as an activist for civil rights in the USA, and an activist for freedom for Soviet Jewry. He is one of the few Jewish theologians widely read by Christians. His most influential works include Man is Not Alone, God in Search of Man, The Sabbath, and The Prophets.

He was chosen by American Jewish organizations to negotiate with leaders of the Roman Catholic church at the Vatican Council II. Heschel persuaded the church to eliminate or modify passages in its liturgy that demeaned the Jews, or called for their conversion to Christianity. His theological works argued that the religious experience was fundamentally human impulse, not just a Jewish one, and that no religious community could claim a monopoly on religious truth.[1]

John,

The bolded part of the above is heretical. Do you agree with this?

Btw, do the Jews need to be converted?

Gorman


#7

Gorman,

With all due respect, that is all irrelevant to the question at hand, which is an examination of a specific passage as it relates to where we are focusing ourselves and our efforts.

While your posing those questions highlights the need for the question of the op–in doing exactly what the question asks about, losing our focus–I would respectfully ask that we confine ourselves to the question.

Peace,


#8

Does put a different prespective to this discussion—finding out whose writings are being used.


#9

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever.
He is the focus of our faith.

He must reign in our hearts, and in the heart of all.

Where do we find Him?
In the Most blessed Eucharist that is the source and summit of the Christan life.


#10

Religion =- binding oneself to God.

Now insert this phrase whrever you see religion. HMMMMM!!!

Now here is one written in the 19th century - Liberalism is a Sin


#11

It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by disciplne, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion–its message becomes meaningless.

Dear John,

Above is the original quote you posted.

Who are you blaming then…the Catholic Religion? The only true religion…the only true Church…the Church outside of which there is no salvation?

I find your post offensive to Catholic ears…Our Faith is expressed in the Creed! Our worship is determined by these disciplines!

You are quoting a liberal non-Catholic here…and he is wrong. He does not make any distinction between true and false religions…do you make those distinctions?

Yes, we’ve lost our focus…we’re focused on false ideas and this obsession with false ecumenism.

Gorman


#12

I did not see that John was blaming “anyone.” He simply asked a question that I think is very relevant, “How do we start to work together to recover that “living fountain” that is Christ?”

A gentleman of peace, asking how to work together, and all I see is division and attack.

So folks, HOW do we recover that living fountain?


#13

Well some modest proposals:

Adoring and worshiping Him in Holy Mass-uniting our suffering to His in the sacrifice.
Serving Him in the poor and destitute-seeing Him in our neighbor.
Getting to know Him more in the gospel.
Loving His mother and His special friends the Saints.
Trying for His sake to conquer ourselves.


#14

We are called to be holy in everything we do. Jesus said: “If you love me keep my commandments.” We are saved by faith through grace but we are also told that faith without works is dead.

Pray and ask God what he wants you to do. Make sure you follow the Commandments. Each one of us is called to be Christ-like in our daily lives. For me, that means prayer, dealing with others in a Christ-like manner and asking God for strength to avoid temptation. I need to have God on my mind every day and look at my thoughts and actions in light of what the Bible teaches.

God bless,
Ed


#15

:rolleyes:

How does consideration of a specific passage and question change the perspective? I used that passage because it said it better than I could. Who said it is irrelevant to the question.


#16

The point of the ariticle, which is what I’m trying to get at, is that when faith becomes a matter of rote response and adherence to the words of creeds, etc, without true worship of the Author, it becomes pointless.

When it becomes legalistically and Pharisaically about the rules, and forgets the reason for the rules–to bring us to love of God–then it is worse than useless and becomes a tool of oppression.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with “true religion” and “false religion”. It has to do with religion that loses its focus on God and instead focuses on the fingers pointing to God, with a result of using a God made in our image to beat others into submission to our personal vision rather than helping them to join in the journey.

I specifically asked that this thread be kept in this forum because I see it so aptly highlighting the discord that is the result of the very things the passage articulates. I don’t confine that to either “side”, but put it here because the battle rages more fiercely here than in other areas on the forum.

My goal was to hopefully bring each of us to look at whether we have individually been guilty of losing our focus and using God for our own purposes rather than seeking to join together to do His purpose.

I only used this passage because the author stated it more eloquently than I could (and in fewer words :o ). Who wrote it really isn’t relevant to the discussion. How we react to what was written is.

My goal, always, is to try to bring peace to the Body of Christ and to unite us in trying to bring about the Kingdom, even where we might differ in preference. If one wishes to attack me for that, though I’m not saying you are, I will bear that.

But much as Jesus said that “those who are not against us are with us” when the disciiples wanted to rain down fire on some that were doing work in his name but not part of their band, I would seek peace between all who are trying to do work in his name, that we might all find our way to the full Truth, breaking ourselves for the salvation of the world.

Peace,


#17

I’ve been reading Imitation of Christ.

As an ex-evangelical Protestant convert to Catholicism, I find this book disturbing and uplifting at the same time.

I was taught that Jesus came to bring abundant life! (John 10:10).

I never attended a church that got into the “Health and Wealth Gospel,” but I was taught that “God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives.”

I would be doing a disservice to my evangelical friends and teachers to imply that they never taught us about trials. Joni Eareckson Tada is an example of a person for whom God’s “wonderful plan” was to spend most of her life paralyzed from the neck down. We were never taught, at least in any of my churches, that Christians are to be free of suffering. (Some Protestant churches DO teach freedom from all suffering as the “right” of a true Christian.)

We were taught that God would give us joy in the suffering.

Imitation of Christ challenges even that seemingly correct teaching. Throughout the book, we are challenged to follow Jesus even if there is NO APPARENT HAPPINESS TO BE DERIVED FROM SO DOING.

So I guess my question to the OP is, "What do you mean by “living fountain, which is Jesus?” Is there any chance that you are talking about some “fountain” that will sprinkle us with drops of refreshing water and allow us to wade it in with bare feet, and give us a place to sit and kiss our lover, and provide “magic waters” in which to toss our wishing coins?

Or are you talking about Jesus, who is Truly Present in the Blessed Sacrament, in His Word, and in the hearts of those who follow Him?

I don’t think we have to “recover” Jesus, who has never left us. I think we need to open our eyes, take them off ourselves and others, and we will see Him.

I think we need to spend more time among the blind, the sick, the dying, the prisoners, the widows, and the orphans, because Jesus said that if we behave kindly towards these, we are behaving kindly towards Him. THERE He is, with them.

I think that this quote from IOC, Book II, Chapter 7, is worth considering:

“If in all things thou seek Jesus, doubtless thou wilt find Jesus. But if thou seek thyself thou wilt indeed find thyself, to thine own ruin.”

BTW, I am addressing this to myself, not the OP alone. I am most guilty of not seeking to “see” Jesus, but instead, gazing at myself.


#18

I think you stated eloquently what I am talking about here:

Or are you talking about Jesus, who is Truly Present in the Blessed Sacrament, in His Word, and in the hearts of those who follow Him?

I don’t think we have to “recover” Jesus, who has never left us. I think we need to open our eyes, take them off ourselves and others, and we will see Him.

I don’t believe I ever referred to “recovering” Jesus. I have only questioned whether we have in many cases lost our focus on the Jesus who told the woman at the well that he would provide “living water” that she might never thirst. That as St. Paul told us, we need to keep our eye on the prize.

I just fear that we’re fully unable to find Jesus in brothers and sisters who love him and follow him as much as we do, though they might express it slightly differently. And I just don’t want to feel that I’m crucifying him all over again by failing to recognize who I’m “killiing” with my thoughts and words.

Peace,


#19

My— ncjohn----for someone whose goal is to bring peace to the Body of Christ----you do have a “peculiar” way of doing it. Your whole post above—is suppose to do what. Bring peace—when you imply not having true worship, pharisaical, beating into submission, etc., etc., etc.


#20

Let me try one more time.

My goal is for each of us to examine our hearts to see if we are doing those things. I have accused nobody of anything, but am trying to bring each of us to try to take the next step toward a stronger focus on God by searching the dark places in our soul to see the times when we don’t. We cannot bring anyone but ourselves back into focus, but if we are individually in focus we will be less likely to distract someone else’s focus.

Maybe I’m just not up to the task of conveying what I’m trying to do. If I see more confusion, perhaps I’ll just ask that the thread be closed rather than have my inadequacy bring on a counterproductive result.

Peace,


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