SOPHISTRY 101: BLURRING THE LINES OF TRUTH
by Pauly Fongemie
December 22, 2013
Apologetics is the science of explaining and defending - not apologizing for - the Catholic Faith, its teachings, morals and Tradition.
Sophistry is the art of blurring the line between truth and falsehood through the subtle shift of language while engaging in debate - casuistry. The purpose is to place both the true and false or good and evil on an equal playing field at best, and at worst to actually reverse them so that what is forbidden by God is now permitted and what was once recognized as revealed truth is now either optional or thoroughly denounced depending on the topic at issue. The adjective, sophisticated, is derived from sophistry - and thus, those who subscribe to sophistry and their comrades often apply the term sophisticated to those who believe and espouse as they do, since they consider themselves above the hoi polloi or more prosaic, plain-spoken men who still uphold the natural law, truth, beauty, wisdom and the good as it has been revealed and passed down throughout the ages. In today's parlance, those who deem themselves sophisticated are wont to refer to those who oppose their notions as hicks, uneducated, etc. Take your pick, you know what I mean, I am sure. Of course, the use of such derision is a characterization, not an argument in of itself. Sophists prefer the characterization in place of point by point refutation of their opponents' arguments because it is easier, appeals to emotion, and tends to close down further debate for most people who are not given to the discipline of apologetics, but are subject to sophistry unbeknownst to them in almost every field of endeavor. Human nature 101, we could say.
The purpose of this essay is not apologetics per se, but a look at the operation of sophistry versus apologetics in modern life. We shall look at the most telling example or primary occurring instance, the often referenced "gay rights" debate.
The operating principle of shifting gears, inverting reality is the very hallmark of the sophist side of the contention in society. It centers on two presumptions:
1. Objective truth, objective morality is no longer binding and that those who uphold objective norms of human behavior in the matter of "social issues" [an euphemism] are judging those who do not - that is, judging in the way that Scripture condemns. This is surely cynical, a pious fraud, if you will, for the sophists insist that we must obey Christ in the matter of judging, which is correct, but they are free to dissent from the strictures of Scripture elsewhere.
2. The sophists employ the term subjective as if this was objective, much like those who proffer the nonsense that "there is no such thing anymore as objective truth." This is a shibboleth for if the notion that there is no more objective truth, is to be valid, it must be objectively true in of itself, otherwise, and in keeping with the idea of subjective truth only, then one is actually ascribing to their subjective posture when one rejects their argument in favor of the objective, because if truth is merely subjective, it is subject to each person's interpretation - subjective assessment, by definition. Thus, you and I are free to weigh against the subjective view of choice. This is preposterous, illogical according to the sophist. And an obvious contradiction. The sophists know we know it, too. Caught in their own warped trap, they attempt to make subjective ideas binding on society through pressure groups or the politically correct tactics that effectively restrict debate, not open it up. In other words, intolerance in the name of tolerance, an utter absurdity.
Ultimately, what they are insisting on is that subjective truth as they define it is really objective because they are in power by way of influence and say it must be so. They no longer even think in terms of hypocrisy except when it can be used against one's cultural foes. Not only must the masses subscribe to their untenable dictates, but it is an imperative of the sophist tribe that not only is the politically correct idea a must, one's moral actions that contravene can be curtailed by law and one's very conscience is no longer inviolate. You can't get more objective than that to be honest. In other words, if they sincerely believed in subjectiveness, then each man would be free to choose as he sees fit, or subjectively in matters of social norms, and this must include the right to adhere to the objective. It is so elementary, so much a part of pristine logic that only those who want to be deceived and or deceive could possibly miss it. In truth, I do not believe they miss it, it is that they no longer care that they contradict their own dicta as radicals, usurpers of the normal as much as anything else, the only rule that now matters enough to be wielded with an iron fist is that the ends justify the means. The term ruthless leaps to mind, along with desperate. Common sense may not be as plentiful as it once was, but there is enough left of old-fashion unparsed honesty - a rudimentary form of common sense - however inelegantly put, that persists in interjecting most inconveniently for the sophists.
Let us define our terms: the objective realm and the subjective.
The first is reality - what actually is as opposed to what one would prefer - it is known through the natural law written in the heart of each person at creation and what has been revealed by God through His Prophets, and since Christ - the Apostles - His Holy Catholic Church.
Now men were given free will by God and He will not interfere with this gift. Men may use their free will to abuse its purpose and deny God's rightful authority over men and His Divine law, the simplest expression of it being the natural law, delineated by the Ten Commandments. It is fashionable today to say that some of the Ten are applicable and others are not. Guess which are? You have it, those the sophists approve of, no matter what God commands or thinks. To the sophist man is free to choose, unless of course he is not a member of the intelligentsia or ruling class of acceptable ideas, then he has no free will - the choosing is done for him. Sophists think that because one has free will, that whatever one chooses - provided one is a sophist, of course, is right and justified, simply because it is free - they reverse the objective and the subjective: the subjective is objectively binding and the objective is subjective, that is not binding.
However, the objective is what is always true because it is given by God for all eternity.
The subjective, or application in relation to the objective binding norm has two aspects:
(1) Applying the objective as a mode of conduct to particular individuals unjustly - i.e. Ascribing fault or sin to a person whose heart we cannot read, which is the prerogative of God, not men; and
(2) The particular response to the objective in a person born in Original Sin, by which he may not always judge wisely in his fallen state of imperfection. The man imbued with a love and respect for Truth and the natural law is aware that he is fallible, and in need of the grace of God to choose as wisely as possible. He prays that the subjective attribute - which he cannot hope to escape because each person has a subjective component in the soul's faculties - does not become the objective for him. He is always open to what is true and the Truth ultimately.
The Truth with a capital T is always true - what we call the eternal verities - but what is true, truth with small t, one day may not necessarily be true the next, so it is not considered a part of Truth proper itself. An example:
It is true that it is raining ice today. It is not my subjective opinion, it is truly true in reality whether I want to believe it or not because I do not like ice storms. Even if I were to deny the storm, it rages on despite my subjective preference. If I pretend hard enough and even manage to convince others that there is no ice storm, we may venture forth to our peril.
Unseen snares that arise because of a denial of Truth have more serious implications than when what is under consideration belongs only to the lower genre - usually it is too late to set the redial button, with disastrous consequences.
For instance, if I go out into the ice storm and sprain my ankle, I can go back home promising myself that taking such risks is generally not a good idea. I have learned that denying reality is not helpful to my well-being. I now recognize that there is such a thing as an ice storm. But, if I deny the innate dignity of the preborn child - his right to life - and advocate abortion, assist others in getting one, then it is too late for those children. I may wake up and realize what it is I have wrought in the name of "rights" and amend my advocacy policy. However I have already caused so much harm in my abortion support that others have been unduly swayed toward killing the baby in the womb, so that while I have repented, the probability that I will be successful in reaching out to all those unknown persons that I have influenced is problematic to say the least. They may have heard me speak persuasively the first time on such and such a platform, but I have no guarantee those same individuals will be in attendance at the announcement of my change of heart.
Tomorrow it may be true that the storm has passed. But it is a part of Truth, by necessity of Divine design and causation, that God wills the storm by putting into operation the elements that constitute weather and by not preventing its occurrence on such and such a date and in such a place. The Truth is that God is the source of all created being. It is true that some days the weather is different from another. It is Truth itself that without God willing it there is no climate at all.
I cannot change the reality that weather exists but I can change my willed response to it by free choice. Weather is existential Truth, a storm is existentially true. Both can be proven. Both are in reference to what is unchanging as long as the world exists - we still include existential Truth in the orbit of eternal verities because it lasts until the end of ages, and eternal is sometimes the adjective used for such a quantification - a metaphorical description. There is Truth outside of the realm of the existential, that which is revealed through the natural law and those verities revealed by God.
So now we arrive at the crux of the cultural divide, the heart of the debate, all pretensions aside by those who dissent from the natural law's rightful, sovereign authority over man and his actions. The issue is framed in such terms that it is no longer acceptable to the casuists that we merely agree to disagree; even when weak men cede ground and accept the dominant opinion as a fait accompli, it is never enough. Submission yes, but also a forced partaking in the deeds that are shameful and unnatural. We are not permitted to "live and let live" as they used to say, but we must engage in assisting them in their riotous celebration of the rite of sodomy. They demand that we, too, defile ourselves.
It is an all or nothing enterprise with them simply because it is human nature, when one sins on an epic scale in open defiance of human dignity, one more easily justifies the sin if others can be compelled to join in if only in a subsidiary role, such as being forced to bake a cake for a "gay wedding." If "live and let live" were truly their aim, as some of them claim, then there is always another bakery around the corner that in all likelihood favors the "crowd." Thus, we know infallibly that "live and let live" is not the goal. It is the way of all unholy flesh - the degradation of full submission - mind, body, soul, conscience - nothing less will do.
Even if there were no other available bakeries, then the just thing to do is to go forward as if there were no bakeries in town to begin with - use one's own resources. This is because to compel another to violate that which is sacred - their conscience under God is to actually commit a greater offense against human dignity than the supposed "harm" done to moral usurpers, who have no just claim in the metaphysical sense. Where does it stop - is a doctor to be forced to do abortions just because he delivers babies, a Catholic not to attend Mass on a holy day of obligation or penalized if he does not donate to Planned Parenthood?
Before we turn to some of the key phrases or stratagems used in asserted arguments by the sophist clan and their lickspitters, a few words of caution are in order:
One - not everyone who parrots the party line has an ulterior motive out of malice - often people who are not given to critical thinking and analysis fall into a line of thinking that the prevailing "wisdom" is the right thing. They simply want to get along by going along since they themselves "are not experts".
Two - people with good hearts do not want to hurt others, so mistakenly think that if they agree to the demands of the sophists that peace will occur - that they are showing "compassion." It is the same as letting the enemy define the parameters of war on its own terms. One may as well surrender upfront and avoid a necessary, righteous war altogether. Appeasement only leads to war as Britain found out under Chamberlain, and no less in the culture war. Appeasement is a sign of weakness to the enemy which presses on undaunted, almost smug. However the easily silenced and cowed err, they are sincere, although no help to us. We ought not dismiss them for they are also injured and victimized although they know it not. They are in need of our solicitude as much as anyone, for they have been essentially deformed by the slow erosion of first things and the imperatives of the natural law.
Three - when I speak of the sophists I am addressing those who wage deceit in their rebellion against the natural law and normalcy, not those who are under their sway. Normalcy has been redefined by sophists, too. Normal is what someone is used to, no matter how disordered i.e., normalcy is whatever they say it is. This cannot hold water: if normalcy is always changing and can be redefined at will, then there is no such thing as normal, by definition. Their argument falls of its own logical inconsistency.
Four - most men and women afflicted with the disorder of same-sex attraction do not choose this condition. It is a heavy cross for them at some time in their lives. Be that as it may, social mores and expectations have so deteriorated that we have decided on some level to accommodate the inclinations that are disordered, rather than devoutly assist these persons with love and firm but always gentle [in the way of Christ] reasons for celibacy or at least its consideration - the meaning of virtue and its contemplation as a beginning, out of love for them. We, too, have become disordered because we now believe as a whole - 54 percent of society - that in order to show love and compassion, we turn away and place the abnormal on a par with the normal. If we really thought this through and had not debased ourselves in the process, we would realize that this is abandonment and cowardice.
It is a more difficult undertaking to love when we are hated or despised and rejected. A false love for the sake of someone's feelings is not love at all. It is the height of self-centeredness, the road well-traveled, the wide way that many find, rather than the narrow path of the few, the brave, the faithful and yea, the just. We have to do more than simply care, we must do so with honor or our feelings are cheap insults to those who need us most but do not know it. We must have respect for them, to show honor: we have to begin with Truth because not only does it set us free as Christ taught, it is a recognition that we recognize the afflicted's dignity, that he or she is man or woman enough to hear the Truth for Truth' s sake and theirs. That we do not kowtow to their demands like fearful, ineffectual parents giving in to spoiled children who cry and maneuver to get their way. These deeds of honor require a commitment to unstinting love, the lasting kind because it is born of sacrifice and hard work and not for the hope to be loved in return. It is not based on emotion or sentimentality. It is for the sake of God and the other only and only in the way that upholds human dignity, even if someone is no longer capable of acknowledging this.
The burden is more or less on us because we are dealing with persons who simply want to love and be loved in return; they yearn for normalcy; although they proclaim "my inclinations are normal", down deep in their gut they recognize that they are not [otherwise why offer the charade that they would not choose to be the way they are] - in the sense that the disorder they have predisposes them to be other. A kind of self-rejection either sets in when left on their own or those with misplaced compassion tend to confirm them in their "lifestyle" choices as if society must accept this as normal and equal to heterosexuality. When some of us refuse to go along, a displacement vexation erupts and spills over to clothe us with what they perceive as hateful, not loving. Too much of society now gives them license for almost any behavior if done in private; actually the "lifestyle" to use the current phrase, is so damaging to the human soul, not just the body, that they are blinded and cannot respond in any other way but to lash out. We need to really understand the underlying dynamic at work; rather than respond in kind, which is unGodly, it is necessary that we who love God and His holy Word - His laws and His creation - all His works, the most beautiful being the Angels and men - to answer as Christ answered the five-time married Samaritan woman at the well: in Truth but not condemning her outright. Christ engaged her, drew her to Him by treating her honestly - He told her her sins, but did not speak about Hell. It isn't that we ought never talk about the fires of Hell, it is the context and the timing. If Christ had condemned her and left it at that, she would have been out of there so fast, the exchange between the two of them would never have happened. We do not know if she truly amended her life, but she left at least with a spark of grace and wonder, so much so that she went out to the village proclaiming what she was told. I believe with all my heart, that because Christ is all-merciful, that He loves sinners, waits for them, bids them onward to Him at every opportunity that sinners are open to, the Samaritan woman saved her soul in the end. Her encounter with Christ was so compelling that to think otherwise shows little faith in the power of such sublime love.
Our new Ordinary here in Maine, Bishop Robert Deeley, said recently that his goal was to "teach the truth in love." Indeed. Not always easily accomplished for all of us are flawed. The way I like to look at the human plight is this, through the eyes of the Good Thief on the Cross, Jesus' first and second last words from the Cross, and the two Apostles, St. Peter and Judas.
We are all sinners, deeply wounded, scarred and only He can penetrate into the depth of our hearts and souls to know what we know and intend - our disposition. He came to save all men. After His executioners had finished nailing Him to the Cross and it was raised, He looked up to Heaven and uttered His infallible prayer, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Truly that had to be the case because He said so. Did they intend to kill Christ? Yes, but they did not fully comprehend that He was innocent and the Messiah. Truly the Roman soldiers who were entrusted with the actual execution of Jesus had no idea at all, save one centurion, and then not until the end.
Thus, we cannot know or even claim to know what is in the heart of another man; we have all we can do to examine our own conscience carefully and to the nth degree. Even then we have to place ourselves under a confessor to help us see our state before God, Whose mercy is above all His works according to His Own Word.
Unfortunately for all of us there is now mass confusion - one of the major chastisements of the age. One side says "Who am I to judge?" and leaves it at that - in essence, whatever a proponent of same-sex "marriage" may actually think he intended to convey in totality. We then answer, no we must not judge the sinner, but only the sin. This sounds hollow - a platitude easily spoken - to the other side. This is because so ironically they conflate the sin with the sinner, the very sin they accuse us of. They do not recognize that this is what is occurring, of course, and that we really truly mean what we say.
We are beneath the Cross once more at Calvary witnessing the two thieves crucified for capital crimes on either side of Jesus. One thief, in his agony and frenzy lashes out, unrepentant although Jesus awaits in all mercy to receive him in forgiveness - the reason He came - to save sinners. The other thief, the one Tradition calls Dismas, as guilty as the first thief, recognizes two significant truths:
1. That he is guilty of the crime and according to the practice of the time, merits the penalty; and
2. That Christ is the Savior of men, the knowledge of which has been communicated to him by Jesus because the thief acknowledged his sin. And because he did, he paid a great complement to Christ when he asked Him to remember him when He came into His kingdom. How quickly and completely Jesus absolved him of his sins - "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." Dismas is a Saint. Christ forgave him as completely and quickly as He forgave the penitent St. Peter. Both Peter and Judas, Christ's friends and Apostles were beloved by Him - no matter their faults. He was always encouraging them onward to be better, but not once did Christ ignore the truth of their faults - at one point he was very direct with Judas when he derogated from the Magdalen's use of precious ointment to anoint the feet of Jesus - suggesting that the money was better used for the poor. Christ told Judas that he was wrong and why, but neither did He condemn him. Judas would do this himself later as we learn in Scripture. After the Last Supper - the institution of the Holy Sacrament - the Holy Mass - these two fallible, errant Apostles went out into the night and sinned grievously - Peter to deny Our Lord three times as Christ foretold earlier, and Judas to betray Him. Two sinners, just like us, actually.
The latter, when he realized what it was that he had wrought, rather than beseech Our Savior for mercy and pardon, committed the sin of despair and hung himself. Christ was heard to say "It were better if that man had not been born." He first betrayed Christ, then denied Him - denied His mercy, a grave offense to Christ.
The other, St. Peter, impetuous Peter, realizing what he had done, leapt immediately to ask Jesus to forgive him - Peter was so full of love for Jesus that He knew His mercy was not to be outdone and he was rewarded because his remorse was sincere. Saints are sinners who do not give up, and we must never give up on ourselves and our neighbor. While Judas betrayed Christ, he also denied Him by denying His mercy. But St. Peter, who denied Christ, did not betray Him, he turned to Him, not away from Mercy Himself.
Always pray for the GRACE of St. Peter, and not the DIS-GRACE of Judas. Many parents name their sons Peter, but no one in his right mind names a son Judas. He gave up. In the battle for minds and souls in the matter of the natural law and the dignity of the human body - the temple of the Holy Ghost - designated to be rendered resplendid for all eternity at the final judgment when all the bodies of the dead shall rise, according to their destination - we begin with handicaps, not only out of our own weaknesses but because the culture has planted many time bombs waiting to assail us at every turn:
One of the most prevalent phrases one hears in those making the case for the acceptance of homophilia or the rights of those who practice sodomy and or those who support them is:
"Who am I to judge?"
Standing alone without proper context not only provides the rationale for not judging in the subjective, sinful sense, which is a righteous proscription but most importantly, it is at the same time an unjust rationale for not judging in the objective sense, which all men with intellect and free will and conscience are bound to do, for we must not "cast our pearls before swine." Man was made to judge, in the objective order, that is. That order includes what a moral action is made up of and what an immoral one is. The "Who am I to judge?" argument is the ploy of one who has already judged for himself that if he makes an objective statement, such as citing verbatim from the Word of God, he is working the subjective, which is the very definition of sophistry. And most likely he has already decided or judged that anyone who upholds the objective order is a hateful judge. Irony!
No man can judge the heart and soul of another, this is certainly true and a positive command by God. But God does not tells us to not judge at all, He, in fact, provides the rules for judging, in order that we are not led astray. If the dictum, "Who am I to judge?" were left to its own devices, in lieu of rightful objective judgment, we could have no law itself, or even the commandment not to judge the heart of another. Why? Let us look at another analogy.
The State of Maine imposes a speed limit on the highway. Countless of drivers speed anyway, most of them getting away with it because there are not enough troopers to catch them all. On any given day as I proceed into Augusta I am surpassed by speeders. I do not know why they are speeding - if they are not cognizant for some reason about the limit; if a particular person is having a heart attack and is racing to the hospital; if a baby is about to be born; if the car is out of control due to same malfunction. There are any number of logical reasons apart from ill-will or disregard for the law on the part of the speeder. However, to not judge that I am in the midst of speeding automobiles is foolhardy. It risks my life and my neighbor's. I have to be aware of my surroundings to be a moral person with responsibility. It is not my right to keep pace with the speeder, but slow down and let him pass if need be, precisely because it might not be his fault, and even if it is. I judge that he is speeding. I know that this is forbidden. I determine not to follow by example. To do this I must recognize that speeding is wrong. The objective form of judgment has been accomplished. I may if I choose to, form a committee to see if we can have a social campaign to reduce speeding - to raise awareness of the inherent dangers to others in the abuse of the rules of the road. I have not sat in judgment in a sinful manner on any one speeder at all. But I am being a good citizen in wanting to promote the law on the highway. I cannot have a live and let live attitude.
Now speeding is against the law; sodomy, for the most part, as long as it is not public copulation, is not. I may be in a position to advocate celibacy but I am not advocating that we have a law that makes it possible for the cops to bust down people's bedroom doors, etc. I am not pointing fingers at particular persons in this matter, just as I am not doing so with speeders. We need to be very clear about this - not to be bamboozled by the assertion "Who am I to judge?" As if the subjective ban applies to the objective. Without the proper context, too many people presume the one for the other and society is in a state of dissolution, for objective truth is dismissed as judging sinfully. What a feat for sophistry and the minions of Hell who are dancing below - how easily the deed of confusion to confer legitimacy on that which is illegitimate was accomplished!
Another sophist argument for "gay rights" is that "he was born that way and cannot help himself." In other words, since he can't help himself his actions are moral or at least moral for him, and that he has no self-control and is entitled to whatever pleasure he wants.
There are two sides to this deceptive argument. The first is that if someone has an inclination toward unnatural carnal acts, he does not have to exercise self-control, that he is like a runting animal with nary the dignity of the person with free will in command of the baser appetites.
The flip side, always silent because it is never raised positively, and which follows logically from the assertion of the first, is that if someone chooses in mid-life to experiment with homosexual acts and decides he prefers them, it is his choice. Well, logically enough, if sodomy is morally acceptable because someone has "no choice" according to those asserting this line, then why must it follow that one who does choose, has the same exemption? Again, logically the first cannot be said to be persuasive if the second also applies, because what the sophist argument is really positing is that it is choice that matters in the end. The casuist simply cannot have it both ways. But give him this, he sure gives it the old college try! Challenge him, do not let this token slogan pass by as if true.
The sophist will have a hard time in reply because he is essentially dishonest in his assertion and claim. If he maintains the first, but backtracks [not much of a probability because the sophist is a committed dodger] on the second he has already revealed his Achilles heel - that willed unnatural acts are immoral. If he says that both cases are legitimate and should be allowed on the basis of choice, then why does he make such a display of exerting himself on the part of the first, since it is not even germane as he admits? To ask is to answer. It is a ruse to convince those who may be on the fence and wavering away from his claims.
The third most prevalent argument is that "Gays have the right to marry whom they love" and or "They are being persecuted for whom they love." As I wrote in my most recent FATIMA article:
... We [society] accept the sodomites' specious claims that are an appeal to emotion, not objective truth. For instance, we often hear the argument that "gays are being persecuted or discriminated against for whom they love." ... If we had our thinking caps on we would reject this fallacious reasoning immediately. Why? ... No one could possibly mandate that someone else not love any particular person. Love is an emotion - it can also be an act of will, since it is a commandment of God, but in its purely natural, non-spiritual form, it is an emotion. No one can be blamed for an emotion in of itself. It is not whom they love, but what they do with the one they profess to love that is morally illicit. The prohibition against sodomy applies equally to non-homosexual persons. Bonnie and Clyde were lovers; their love per se was not a crime against nature, it was that they did so outside of the bonds of matrimony and as lovers murdered wantonly and robbed banks. I repeat, anyone will love whom they do, that is no one's business. But actions that affect the common good - that which is without virtue and honor in keeping with the purpose we are created for, the dignity inherent in each person, are our business. Not in order to point fingers at individuals, to sit in subjective judgment, ... but to uphold standards in the objective realm. Most practicing homosexuals, if they are somewhat honest will eventually admit that while they claim the message of the Church is not always provided in a tone they find acceptable, that ultimately this does not matter, for it is the very message that rankles and moves them to rage. So anything else is just window dressing. They intend to shut up Christians and anyone else who does not endorse, accept sodomy as a "right".
In summation, we are called by Christ, as His soldiers, to witness to the Truth that saves - apart from winning the culture war we are battling to save souls in jeopardy; ultimately the culture war is lost unless we reclaim souls for Christ. The word culture is derived from the term cult, or belief - religious practice
St. Paul instructs Titus thusly in Chapters 2 and 3:
"Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to Himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. ...
"To speak evil of no man, not to be litigious, but gentle: shewing all mildness towards all men. For we ourselves also were some time unwise, incredulous, erring, slaves to divers desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared: Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost; Whom He hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior: That, being justified by His grace, we may be heirs, according to hope of life everlasting. It is a faithful saying: and these things I will have thee affirm constantly: that they, who believe in God, may be careful to excel in good works.
Our good works must include reaching out to the dispossessed - those that have been abandoned and deceived by the larger society of men who speak and act as if it does not have the care of souls uppermost in mind, if at all, but the propagation of vanity, pride, defiance of all that is of God and His dominion, dissensions, and deceit - "By their fruits you shall know them." This is one of the rules for judging handed down by Christ.
First we must humble ourselves before the Lord, acknowledge our own faults and then ask for the grace of peace in our hearts, the peace that comes from a right conscience and union with Christ in all things; then we can pray for the virtues of prudence and fortitude that we require for the daunting task that lies before us. We will be bruised in battle for the foe has no scruple, the ends justifying the means - but if with the courage of St. Paul we count not the cost, but press on, if we but salvage one soul from the jaws of perdition, all is gain, Christ has once again triumphed and He is again our only boast.
Before we depart this lesson, we ought to pause for a moment to consider the sophist plea for "tolerance."
Once more the sophists reverse intolerance and tolerance, which pertain to two different substances. The first is in relation to principles, ethics, honesty - these are not persons but imbue the person with knowledge, dignity and virtue. We must be intolerant of lies, for instance, in all but a few cases - such as in geometry, in court or in legislation and rule - for example we must be tolerant of the liar who is a sinner. This is not to say the lie is excused, but that the lie's scope does not extend to the overall public good. The exposure of the lie rectifies its telling. In public life, such as in mathematics, government, etc., rectification of a lie is more complex, so a tolerant attitude can compound the harm done. This has to be undertaken situation by situation, but in general we do not cry here "Tolerance!" The natural law has always recognized that where the public good is involved "To see evil and not punish it is injustice!" In the public realm, love without justice is mere sentimental tripe while justice without charity is the oppression of socialism.
And most especially where Truth with a capital T is concerned we have a moral obligation to be intolerant of the error, although we tolerate the person who may have innocently made the error. Tolerance applies only to persons, not to truth; intolerance applies only to truth and not to persons. With regard to persons, tolerance is the disposition or habit of patience with evil and forbearance - not to rush to judgment or inflict reprisal, but only in the private sphere. In the public, the survival of civilization itself depends on intolerance of evil, and even then only to a point, because some evils cannot be eradicated by force and the attempt to do so inflicts a greater evil - home invasion of the police to nab a smoker in a precinct ruled by Bloomberg who forbids its practice everywhere including in one's home. The Church has always made this distinction.
Today the sophist expects one to be intolerant of truth and tolerant of the lie. It is not enough for the sophist that we may with patience bear with homosexual practice among individuals. Sophistry demands that we not only be patient with sinners, we must positively affirm them in sin, which is a distortion of the function of tolerance, actually demoting its vitality as a virtue.
In closing, my brothers and sisters:
Recall when I urged you all not to give up on yourselves and your neighbor, supra? I had in mind a miracle of sorts. Sean Hannity of radio and FOX News had at one time endorsed some contraception as morally licit, which was a scandal. I immediately began praying that he would see the light and accept the Church's teaching. I am sure that many other Catholics prayed for him, the tens of thousands who read my columns. Well, last week he was thoroughly Catholic in a debate that included contraception - he did not mince words. Oh, God bless Sean Hannity and Praise God from Whom all grace descends! Never, never give up - on any one, not any one!
There can be no justice without true charity, but where there is no true justice, men lose hope and charity perishes. We must put on both and go forth. The homosexual person who is searching for the truth, for real love, for his lost dignity, we may, in our nothingness, but sincerely loving, be his only hope in a world so blighted by despair and false platitudes that confirm sin, not holiness. May God bless you with His Peace this Christmas season; may the spirit of the lowly Christ Child Who loved so much He condescended to taken on human flesh as a Divine Person in order to save men from their sins spur us on when all around us it seems cold and that we have even been abandoned in the midst of the growing apostasy and rejection of the rule of Christ the King. Let us renew our determination to battle for souls - let Him keep score for it is His creation, we have but to persevere in faith, hope and love ...