St. Paul Admonished the Jews to love God over "The Law"... : LUSENET : Catholic Pages Forum : One Thread

This board is a seemingly endless thread of interesting questions, passionate debate and thoroughly human responses, and I am constantly impressed by some of the erudite and knowledgable answers which can be found here, but I wonder sometimes, while we're busy spouting law, making salient points, quoting scripture, papal bulls and catechisms, holding each question up to the letter of the law...(and law is a good thing, you gotta have 'em, no debate there)...I cannot help but think of St. Paul and how he derided the learned Jews who had gotten so caught up in the rules, the laws and the interpretations that they couldn't see the Messiah. Or how Jesus reminded his disciples that "it is not what you eat that makes you impure but what is in your heart" - a concept that completely blew apart the dietary restrictions they'd known all their lives. Or again, Paul telling us that if we have all the knowledge of the world and have not love, we are clanging symbols. The law is wonderful. The precepts of the lord are perfect...all of that is true. And we are human, faulty, humble, imperfect...and if we could all master and live with all of the rules all of the time, we'd all be popes. The tree that is too rigid does not bend with the wind, and so it topples - the reed that bends lives to rejoice in it's creator another day. The great thing is to do our loving best, each day, try to fit our humble, imperfect lives into the perfection of the Christ, and then not beat each other or ourselves up when we have fallen short of the ideal. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with your whole heart, mind and soul, and to love others as you love while we can love the law...we can't whack each other over the head with least that is MY interpretation...any thoughts out there? :-) Christus Factus Est!

-- Anonymous, June 29, 1998


Oh Dana! You've brought up so many points, I don't even know where to start!

Well first off, I will just add that there must be a balance between following the Law (Bible, Popes writings, Catechism, etc.) and living as the Spirit moves us. (Which I think was your main point, Dana, though you said it much more nicely.)

Second, thank God for the sacrament of Reconciliation otherwise we'd all be seeing each other in the firey after-life!

Now, to defend all the spouting of laws, I think this is something which is gravely missing in the lives of most Catholics. We're in the 90's. An age when freedom of choice and freedom of expression and following you conscience and anything New Age etc. are glorified. We're told by movies and mass media and court decisions that *as long as you feel good about it*, it's OK.

While I admit it's nice to feel good about what I'm doing, I must also admit that this is not what determines whether or not that something is *right*. Neither is something necessarily right because it seems logical to me, because I could easily be unaware of some key point (see all the discussion on NFP etc.) Thus, it is good to have a good grounding in the 'rules' of what is right and what isn't.

So, I've enjoyed reading all this energetic debate because not only is it logical, but because it's also backed by scripture etc. etc. It's been thought provoking. It's been illuminating. Thank you.

-- Anonymous, June 29, 1998

Esther, you're the grooviest!

Esther, I just want to tell you how much I always enjoy your postings - you are very real, very unpretentious and so open and curious - you're a groovy lady! Dana

-- Anonymous, June 30, 1998

Dana and Esther,

While no mature Christian would have difficulty understanding the rationale behind St. Paul's criticism of the externalism of the Pharisees, I think it would be most incautious simply to equate the quoting of Holy Scripture, Papal Bulls, and the Catechism with rule pronouncement. There is an unfortunate tendency today to create a false sense of opposition between spirit and letter. This tendency was clearly visable in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council when the so-called "Spirit of the Council" was opposed to the Council documents themselves. It seems to me that this kind of thing is the inevitable by-product of the same nominalist exagerations that influenced the Reformation. Yours in the Holy Trinity.

-- Anonymous, June 29, 1998

Response to St. Paul Admonished the Jews, etc

Dear John, I can't help it, I can only do the best I can within the confines of my humanity and my two years of college, and so I know I fall way short of any Christian ideal, know too little to actually have an opinion, probably question when I shouldn't and no, I never could color inside the lines - I'm not the most disciplined of people, but I have a loving heart...I think of my relationship it Jesus and Mary very much in that I'm still the kid who can't color in the lines, but I have a loving, trusting soul and a good heart...I am sure Jesus and Mary spend a lot of time shaking their head at me while they wash me up for dinner, but I still know they love me! :-) This is the only excuse I can offer up for when I get it wrong around here...and (please don't take this negatively, as it is not meant in a negative way at all) since I cannot understand most of what you just wrote up there, I can only say...duh...thank you for saying that if you were the pope, you'd forgive me in person! :-) Your wayward-bad-coloring-friend-in-Christ, Dana

-- Anonymous, June 30, 1998

God's law

Dear Dana, I haven't been reading this discussion for very long, but when I first started I was taken back by how "Catholically correct" everyone seemed to be, and I was feeling pretty unworthy. So I started thinking about this topic myself. I think that living by the Catholic faith - by the Word of God as set forth in Scripture and interpreted by our Church fathers - has really begun to "set me free". I say this because rather than being swayed by all different pulls of the world, since I've surrendered my will to Christ's, I now walk in his protection and in his love. Of course, you can't submit to God's word if you don't know all of it. So I've found that the more I've learned about God - through this bulletin board, through scripture, and through other reading - the more confidently I know that I am walking with Christ.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I find myself very appreciative of all I'm learning here. Not to knock what you're saying - sometimes people who know it all can begin to sound somewhat self-righteous - but I enjoy the company of these learned Catholics, yourself included. Patty

-- Anonymous, June 30, 1998

God's Law

Ah, Patty, you took the words right out of my mouth - I didn't realize it until you said it, but unworthy is probably what I was feeling. I think sometimes, the whole topic of God and Church is so hugely vast it's impossible to cover it with any kind of erudition, and then along come some of these incredibly brilliant well informed people and they blow apart all of my little theories and comfortable places to live. But that's okay...I'd rather have my comfort theories blown up and be forced to grow (and since I must admit I am wrong here so very often, I do believe I am growing in HUMILITY! :-)) than stay in my cubby hole and stagnate. I have enormous admiration for many of the people here, and like you, I am learning an awful lot...but I guess there is part of me that is always a bit of a spoiler, or a devil's advocate so to I will continue to question and get blown down! :) I had an experience once with a teacher who belonged to an eastern religion that was rather cultish (kind of Tao meets Buddha with a little Enya thrown in) and she was such a RIGID person, so completely uptight and unbending...she followed the rules so scrupulously that she seemed like an automaton - and not a particularly happy automaton at that...and I asked another student about this, because I found her very difficult to deal with - and this guy told me that he knew this teacher well, and that she really wasn't a bad sort, it was just that she lived so scrupulously within the rules because they were like an anchor for her - that she felt too insecure to step outside of them and live "by her own lights". I'm not implying that anyone here is remotely like this teacher, but I do find myself thinking of her a lot, and doing my darndest to be aware of why I am here, why I am Catholic, and why I believe what I believe. I want to be here with a straight heart, one that is here, just because I love Jesus and WANT to be with Him, and not because I am afraid of living outside the rules, or coloring outside the lines. Again, this is only about me...I hope no one reads any of this and thinks I am making a veiled reference to anyone else (I am not that clever), or implying anything other than what I am saying, about me myself...and I guess I feel the need to explain myself because I've gotten some e-mail from people who think I'm a little strange. I don't think I'm strange, just maybe not as well informed as many others here, and just a teeny bit adolescent in my spirituality. That's not a bad thing, it? :-) Thanks for your letter - I've noticed your posts are always very thoughtful and deeply spiritual, and have enjoyed reading them! Dana

-- Anonymous, June 30, 1998

Dana, I hate to use this forum like this but...I just tried to email you and it was a no go.

I'd love to share a few more private thoughts on this subject so if you'd be me.

-- Anonymous, July 02, 1998

Dana, I also just tried to e-mail you but it bounced. So e-mail me! And by the way, you're pretty groovy yourself! :-)

-- Anonymous, July 02, 1998

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