The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sins That Cry to Heaven

In any case we clearly see, and on this there is general agreement, that some opportune remedy must be found quickly for the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class: for the ancient workingmen's guilds were abolished in the last century, and no other protective organization took their place. Public institutions and the laws set aside the ancient religion. Hence, by degrees it has come to pass that working men have been surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition. The mischief has been increased by rapacious usury, which, although more than once condemned by the Church, is nevertheless, under a different guise, but with like injustice, still practiced by covetous and grasping men.
Pope Leo XIII
Rerum Novarum, 3
May 15, 1891

When Gioacchino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi, aka Pope Leo XIII, penned these words, little could he have known that his encyclical on the condition of labor in the world could easily be adapted to many of the problems facing the world today. With the Industrial Revolution still reverberating throughout the world and the seeds of communism and socialism beginning to germinate, the common, everyday man found himself caught in the crossfire of intellectualism and capitalism. Man's suffering was the impetus for the Pope's letter to the world.

Fast forward a century and some odd years, and what has really changed? Have not public institutions and laws distanced themselves even further from God and religion? Have employers become anymore compassionate? And what better term than rapacious usary describes the practice of creditors who charge interest rates of over thirty percent when a borrower falls behind regardless of the circumstances surrounding the delinquency?

It's hard to find a time in history when so many of the sins that cry to heaven as identified by the catechetical tradition outlined in the the Catechism of the Catholic Church have been so amplified. These sins are as follows: the blood of Abel, which represents the murder of the innocent; the sin of the Sodomites, which represents the perversion of human, sexual love; the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, which represents those held in human bondage; the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan; and the injustice to the wage earner.

What proves disheartening is that so many of these sins have been declared as normal by a culture that has distanced itself from God. For example, if one were to count the number of people living in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, one would still be about four million people shy of the number of American citizens murdered by abortion since Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal in all fifty states. Fifty million souls is the best estimation of that number, and that will likely accelerate when President Elect Obama signs into law the Freedom of Choice Act, which effectively removes nearly all restrictions at the state level on this civil act of murder.

The sin of the Sodomites comes into focus with the proliferation of not only laws that legitimize disordered sexual behavior but also in the media that attempts to normalize its practice. Where once gay couples were featured in prime time shows as way to show the program's sophistication and also to simply titillate the audience, now one can hardly find a program that does not introduce the gay theme into the plot. Even home improvement shows that feature couples trying to fix up a house have their token gay couple fixing up a bungalow.

There are more human beings in slavery, today, than at any other time in human history. That fact doesn't make the nightly news because it happens in places far removed from Western culture to people in the third world. Were slavery happening in Nebraska versus India, a loud hue and cry would ring out across the land. God sees this injustice even if the West ignores it.

Yet the West does embrace another form of slavery. One of the many factors that has led to the economic downturn has been the culture's enslavement to materialism. The line between want and need has all but disappeared. If one wants it then one must need it and even be entitled to it. This is a form of human bondage that keeps one away from the authentic freedom found in the Gospel.

"And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: `The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. "`I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:14-20

Laodicea was an early Christian community which got its name from Antiochus II when he colonized this area of modern day Turkey around 260 B.C. He named the city after his wife. More importantly is the fact that the sin of Laodicea was simple ambivalence. Such is the exact condition that America finds herself in, today, with regard to faith. Her faith is neither hot nor cold but rather secondary to the secular whims of the day. The fruit of this mystery will place his hand on Sacred Scripture as he is inaugurated as President of the United States this week.

And while the Evil One likely is reveling in the hypocrisy of the spectacle about to unfold, perhaps the best Christian response for now is the simple prayer prayed at a mass somewhere in the world every hour of every day...

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.


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5:29 AM  

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