Charlie's Blog: O/O



Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

The conflict with modernists and traditionalists within the Roman Catholic Church is a fierce one. Modernists undermine orthodoxy with their calls both overt and covert for things like embracing LGBT issues, allowing remarried adulterers to take communion, and the clown Mass. The Mods are wrong in this, but they do get one thing right. They care about the poor and the marginalized and are passionate about social justice. Traditionalists want orthodoxy restored and for the Church to be faithful to the Magisterium and the deposit of faith given to us by the Lord and His apostles. Yet, I don't see many Traddies out there feeding homeless people or sorting clothes at St. Vinnie's. The Traddies believe everything will be fine if we could rescind Vatican II and restore the traditional Latin Mass. Which side is right? The fact is that they are both right and both wrong.

A true Catholic is one who combines both orthodoxy and orthopraxy. This does not mean that you simply take the middle road between extremes. This means embracing both extremes at the same time. Orthodoxy is right belief. Orthopraxy is right practice. James in his epistle tells us that we need both of these elements to have pure and undefiled religion. This is vitally important.

Two amazing women who I expect to be canonized were Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa. Despite the inflitration by modernists in Catholic Worker houses today, Dorothy Day was a true Catholic. She was radical in her orthopraxy but devout in her orthodoxy. She held to all that the Church teaches, but she also fed the poor and campaigned against evils in society. Mother Teresa was the same way being orthodox but also compassionate to the poor in Kolkata. Both were faithful daughters of the Roman Catholic Church in both word and deed.

Today, many Catholics do not have pure and undefiled religion. They either champion orthopraxy over orthodoxy or orthodoxy over orthopraxy. Their religion becomes subordinate to their politics. This needs to stop. Then, you have lay people who have neither orthodoxy nor orthopraxy. They are Catholics in Name Only and represent the lukewarm St. John warned us about in Revelation.

Faith without works is dead. We hear that all the time, but I don't think we grasp its meaning. Works are not a substitute for faith. This is the error of the modernists. Conversely, traditionalists seem like mere complainers because they care more about straining the gnats of the liturgy than doing the corporal works of mercy. The result is that you have Catholic apostolates that look like fronts for communism while you have hardcore parishes with Latin Masses that are good at catering to the faithful who don't live a finger in works of mercy for fear of being seen as communists.

Today, these two women are being co-opted by the two groups. Modernists love Dorothy Day because of her checkered past and commitment to non-violence and social justice. But she loved the Latin Mass and was a pro-lifer. Similarly, traditionalists love Mother Teresa because she angered the lefties who wanted to co-opt her with a Nobel Peace Prize by preaching about the evils of abortion. But Mother Teresa was more radical than even Dorothy Day in her simplicity and compassion for the poor. The fact is that orthodox Catholics today use Mother Teresa as a symbol instead of an example.

Orthodoxy without orthopraxy is worthless. Similarly, orthopraxy without orthodoxy just turns the Church into an NGO. Faith and works are a package deal. You have to do both. If you're not doing both, you are not becoming a saint but merely pretending. If we really believe, we will really do things. And we can only do things and give hope to others when we really believe in Heaven and not some socialist utopia that can never be. We live in a fallen world. Those who do not combine faith and works deny this elemental doctrine.