This is one of the best (probably the best) series of lectures on Vatican II that I have come across.
BTW, our eternal destiny — salvation or damnation — is based on the works we do.
Growing up in church* I frequently heard teaching that included something like this: “I know it may seem the passage (or verse) says X, but in fact it really means Y.” In other words, although on the surface it looks clear, don’t be fooled. Since we know that such and such doctrine must be true, we therefore know that this passage can’t really mean what it seems to mean. This kind of approach was most evident (to me at least) on the topic of faith versus works. Since, of course, we know we are saved by faith alone (sola fide) then we know passages that say we are saved by works must actually be saying something else.
But do they? A good question to ask is, if the writer (St. Paul, St. John, etc.) of any passage in question meant what one has now figured out it “really” means, then why did he write it the way he did? In other words, if the writers of the New Testament meant to say we are saved by faith alone, then why didn’t they write that way? So many times they wrote we are saved by works, as well as by faith, grace, mercy, baptism, etc., that one wonders how did they get their doctrine so messed up?! But of course their doctrine was correct, and it is we who must correct our thinking.
As an example of what I mean, below are examples where New testament writers (many of the words are from the mouth Christ) point to something other than sola fide.
Anyway, I too feel convicted of often letting myself off the hook thinking it doesn’t ultimately matter how I live my life as long as I have faith. It’s a trap I fall into too often. I think we all do. Perhaps it’s a human tendency, perhaps a product of my Protestant upbringing (though I see it everywhere). And caring to do good is not the same as doing good. Caring may be enough, I mean I’m going to fail again and again, so caring has got to count for something, but I wonder.
Some might say that God doesn’t intend us to actually do good works, only that we try, miserably fail of course, and then turn to Him. That that is the purpose of having good works set before us as a goal; not that we do them but that we try and learn we can’t. I don’t see that teaching clearly articulated in scripture.
Some might say that good works are fine, and of course we should do them, but they are ultimately meaningless, that any work we do is really worthless. Again, I don’t see that teaching clearly articulated in scripture. In fact, clearly the opposite.
What I do see are repeated calls to good works, and that those works are critically tied up in our eternal destiny, and our movement towards becoming one with Christ and holy like our Father is holy. I also see we are utterly sunk without God’s grace and mercy. But still, we are called to be holy, to do good works. Our eternal destiny depends on it.
Judgement and works brothers and sisters. What do we do with this? What do we do with these verses?
Matthew 7:19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. . . .”
Matthew 7:21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Note: See the next several verses (7:22-27) to get a fuller picture of the implications.
Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of man . . . will repay every man for what he has done.”
Matthew 25:34-36 “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” (cf. 25:31-33, 37-46)
Luke 3:9 “. . . every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
John 5:29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”
Romans 2:5-13 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-11 . . . inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by his power, . . .
1 Peter 1:17 . . . who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, . . .
Revelation 2:23 . . . I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.
Revelation 20:12 . . . And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. (cf. 20:11-13)
Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.
Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.
Those are just a few of many passages.
*Sometimes I joke that I was moved from the hospital directly to the First Baptist church nursery, such was my experience.
Several years ago I wrote a thesis for my MBA program. I was curious to explore the relationship between myself, my stuff, and how both are related to the greater world beyond my little bubble of existence. I titled it: Global Supply Chains and the Commandment to Love One’s Neighbor as Oneself. Feel free to read it if you wish.
I wrote the thesis several years before I became Catholic. I knew nothing of Catholic social teaching then. If I had known about Catholic social teaching I think my thesis would have been significantly better. Nonetheless, the process had an impact on me, and allowed me to explore ideas that had been ruminating in my subconsciousness for several years. Back then I was influenced, among other sources, by Naomi Klein‘s book No Logo.
Now I find the excellent documentary The True Cost speaking to the same issues. It’s like nothing has changed — except perhaps there are now more people thinking about these problems. And, there are some companies working to be different. Naturally these companies are small, but they are a start.
Global supply chains, with all their related and inherent moral implications, are deeply interwoven into every aspect of our lives. We cannot extricate ourselves from them, nor do we want to. It’s not about running away, but about change. We need to make choices that matter, that reflect who we want to be, and that are born out of a fundamental desire to love each other, to love the “other” our neighbor. We can actually make better global supply chains — better in terms of how laborers are treated, of how the earth is used, as well as efficiencies and more appropriate costs. However, we are generally disinclined to do so because inherent in the nature of global supply chains is their ability to hide the implications of our consumer choices from view. Combine that with human nature and we have a recipe for exploitation of both human labor and their environments.
I can say from personal observation that Americans (U.S. citizens I should say) often do not like to know how much their consumer choices are tied to unfair exploitation of others. They bristle when told. They make up and believe falsehoods when confronted. It’s shameful.
As the general manager of a small company, I am interested in these issues. We are just now beginning to have the kinds of conversations that may lead us to consider ethical sourcing more than we ever have. Our business is based on doing good for the world. We sell and market art supplies, and our focus has been on the importance of art and artmaking to health, personal growth, education, and world peace. Considering our supply chain in terms of ethics and the wellbeing of both labor and environment fits right in to what we believe. I am curious about what we can do.
As a Catholic, I have come to see that these issues are very much at the heart of what I believe, how I should behave, and who I am following — namely, Christ. So it is a personal thing for me as well.
Recently I have personally discovered Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy. He is a powerful advocate for Christian Non-Violence or Pacifism. Years ago I came across Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement. That was my first experience with Christian pacifism. More and more my inclinations lean in this direction. In fact, though I am willing to consider other arguments, and will change my mind if necessary, for now I cannot see any compatibility between being a follower of Christ and any kind of violence, including going to war. I say this while still finding stories of heroism in war deeply moving.
Here is one of several talks you can find online by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy:
This is a great overview, in six short videos, of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Just Defense (formerly Just War) Theory or Doctrine. It is also a critique of where that theory stands today in light of modern ‘total” war, and ultimately advocates for the original Christian position of pacifism, or peace making.
Perhaps because of recent politics, I have become interested in the Catholic Church’s idea of subsidiarity. Below are some videos that explain the idea and, to some degree, broader Catholic social teaching.
The following is from FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO:
The Right and Duty of Parents Regarding Education
36. The task of giving education is rooted in the primary vocation of married couples to participate in God’s creative activity: by begetting in love and for love a new person who has within himself or herself the vocation to growth and development, parents by that very fact take on the task of helping that person effectively to live a fully human life. As the Second Vatican Council recalled, “since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs.”(99)
The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.
In addition to these characteristics, it cannot be forgotten that the most basic element, so basic that it qualifies the educational role of parents, is parental love, which finds fulfillment in the task of education as it completes and perfects its service of life: as well as being a source, the parents’ love is also the animating principle and therefore the norm inspiring and guiding all concrete educational activity, enriching it with the values of kindness, constancy, goodness, service, disinterestedness and self-sacrifice that are the most precious fruit of love.
This gets to the heart of why we have chosen to homeschool our children.