Catholicism Is More Than Being Pro-life.
Firearms are Catholic issue
There is a bishop whose Twitter profile led me to make a double-take. He has a strong reputation for his pro-life actions and is outspoken against abortion. Across Interstate 95 from his chancery and cathedral sits his local Planned Parenthood. With neon signs hanging on the upper corners of the building and at least one probably shining right into his office across the highway, one can assume a kind of in-your-face from the abortion clinic to the bishop.
The bishop's chancery is next to his cathedral which is closed most of any twenty-four hour period outside of weekends. The doors do open around 11:00 am for confession and Mass at noon but then the doors close again. I find the difference stark. You can visit an abortion clinic anytime during its eight to ten-hour business hours six days a week. You cannot visit the cathedral and pray because it is closed. It is open more time, ironically, the one day the clinic is not open on the other side of Interstate 95.
The bishop's Twitter profile says he is pro-life but says nothing about the Jesus he follows. Obviously, his faith can be assumed but this illustrates a problem with the pro-life movement.
Recently, Trent Horn of Catholic Answers tweeted:
Are you a Catholic first or are you pro-life first?
If you are Catholic then you will live a different ethic that is by default pro-life on all issues. If you are pro-life first then you will work on different levels to change laws that promote alternatives to abortion but you may not be Catholic.
Solutions to gun violence and other issues may or may not be pro-life issues, but they are Catholic issues. The answer begins with each one of us.
The practical elements of the Second Amendment
I do believe in the Second Amendment, however, remember that is about having arms against a government that turns against its people. Honestly, today, no matter how many guns you may have, you are not going to fight successfully against the United States military. You would need support from another government and would need a considerable amount of foreign backing to fight that battle if it was needed. We can assume that all other means to prevent our country from reaching that point failed including non-violent resistance. Further, we would all be at fault if it reached that point.
Otherwise, guns are there for recreational shooting and personal protection but as Catholics should we use them outside of recreation?
I am a United States Navy veteran. I am trained in firearms but I am no longer in the military. I do not own a weapon and I do not possess an FID card. Why?
I said it recently on Twitter.
Can I justify killing another human being before the throne of God? If I am Catholic that is the question we need to address not ‘how do we remain pro-life and solve the gun issue?’ We are not pro-life Catholics. We are Catholics which by default means pro-life.
The Gospel needs to be preached
Do you want to know why our country is in such a mess? Do you want to know why there is so much division? The Gospel has not been preached. It is that simple. We as Catholics can talk a good game but we have to live it too. Catholicism is it calling to be prophetic to the world. So by default in order to preach the gospel we have to live our life differently. It may be legal to to own a gun and even to use it against another but as Catholics do we have that right outside of what the Constitution guarantees us. I wrote before how we as Catholics have the right to free speech guaranteed in the Constitution but we do not have it in our faith. No Catholichas the right to make comments of hatred or destruction even though we have the constitutional right to do so. Our rights and our responsibilities differ from those in the United States Constitution.
We certainly do not live our faith perfectly but even that is a testament to what we believe. We recognize our need for the sacrament of reconciliation because we understand a different set of values then those who do not share our faith.
The most pro-life action you can do is simply to preach the Gospel by your life. Do you attend Mass every week? If you call yourself Catholic and pro-life then I hope you can answer that question in the affirmative. If you cannot then you are not preaching the Gospel.
Your presence at Mass is a powerful sign of Christ’s teachings because you demonstrate to others that Christ is real in your life by your actions.
Do you have a good solid prayer life that affects your actions? I hope so. If your prayer life is sparse then you have no fruit to draw upon to preach the Gospel. Prayer needs to be a conversation with God regularly and not a series of rote words you say daily. Your dialogue with God needs to affect all you do in your life, it must bear fruit. You can and should say rote prayers but there needs to be other forms of prayer too and if possible some forms of contemplation. Praying for favors is important and none of the saints would disagree, however, our conversation with God needs to be more comprehensive if we are going to live our faith. We need to invite Our Lord into our life, our struggles, our temptations, our vocational challenges and our failures.
The fruits of our prayer must challenge the culture around us by the way we live.
Would you use a firearm to protect your property? Would you be willing to kill another human being to protect your house? Can you justify it before the throne of God?
Would St. Francis carry a gun?
St. Francis had to go on an errand one day and while he was away a thief came to steal money from his friars. They beat him up and chased him off. When Francis returned, he was incensed that his friars would value money more than another soul. He chased down the thief and apologized. The robber was so surprised he became a friar himself. As for the men who chased him off? Francis ordered them to put money in their mouth and climb to the top of a dung heap to show how much he valued money.
Our greatest mission is the salvation of souls and doing it with heroic actions. If you choose to kill another person to protect your property then you value your property above that human soul. The saints would castigate you to change your ways.
When I was in the Navy, we were trained never to shoot to kill an intruder. We needed to maim to stop the lawbreaker from fleeing. So even in the Navy, we were ordered not to kill an assailant unless he gained access to the more deadly weapons that may or may not be in an arsenal.
So what right do we have to shoot to kill an assailant on our private property? As Catholics, we don’t. We as Americans have the right to possess arms. We cannot use them to kill as Catholics unless it is an extreme last resort. As Pope St. John Paul II said about the death penalty, such examples are rare, if they exist at all.
Are you Catholic or are you pro-life? Remember, if you are Catholic and live a faith that is the fruit of your prayer in all ways then you are also pro-life. If you are pro-life, you may never be Catholic or for that matter an even disciple of Jesus. There is a huge difference.
If you are in the Boston area come visit us for the 10:00 am Mass at St. Anthony Parish
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