Tag Archives: faith and reason

3 unavoidable questions for Christian faith’s reasonability

In recent years, we have seen a significant interest in teaching the faith more authentically, but also we’ve become more attentive to answering the real questions believers and unbelievers have. With the Year of Faith fully engaged now, I think we need to attend to three unavoidable questions whether we are teaching teens, adults, or expanding the horizons of our faith and understanding of the cosmos we live in.

There are no easy answers in proposing the Christian faith to others, especially to teens. Do you want pablum when considering real questions?

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Working with your FOMO

Many people are plagued with FOMO. Do you know what FOMO is? Think: Fear of missing out.

Why ain’t I doing this? Why ain’t I at that party, in that conversation, being recognized for this and that achievement. FOMO questions our making of the right choices? FOMO wants to advance my cause. The other as other counts for little. FOMO paralyzes our humanity because its focus on the sentimental, superficial, on the unfocussed. It reduces our human relationships to an object. FOMO is a post-modern way of speaking of deadly sin (mortal sin). FOMO leads to the death of one’s personhood.
FOMO is an insecurity not only in social circumstances but also, and more importantly, in the spiritual life. It is a reduction of our religious sense, a reduction of someone greater. FOMO is not living life in the present moment. FOMO is the sin of envy, pride, and self-centeredness. It is the un-awareness that you can’t do it all. Reversing the effects of FOMO is the recognition that you are not able to be everywhere at all times. Most people are not given the gift of bi-location. Saint Padre Pio had the gift, but he likely used it for the building the Kingdom of God and not his own agenda.
Do you have joy? Do I love? What fills me with anxiety? How does Christ answer the desires of my heart? Are you aware of the gifts that are in front of you? Can I discover my true self in the life I lead, in the work I do, in the person I am? Are you bitter towards others? Are you aware that you are loved by God and others for the person you are, and not the person you think you are, or should be? The focus on Christ overcomes FOMO because it’s less about the whim (what could have happened…) and more on the certainty that Christ exists, that He’s a concrete reality and that only God makes and sustains us. say it another way, attention to the religious sense in my life (and other others) acknowledges that God has a tenderness for me — and this tenderness is a sign of a relationship with Him.
Above I mentioned that FOMO is a reduction of one’s religious sense. What does that mean? Well, look at it this way: what are the desires of your human heart? How do these desires of the heart allow us to see the attractiveness of everything, even to consider the implications of  a desire’s inadequacy. The masters tell us it is not enough to be aware of the religious sense, the religious sense has to push us forward in our relationship with God (the Divine Mystery) so as not to lose my personhood, my “I”.

Post-Christian America: what does it look like, why?

Bouncing around in Catholic religious orders for some time is the notion that one can be a member of the Jesuits or the Sisters of Mercy and “go beyond Jesus and the Church.” I can remember hearing from a Jesuit whom I respected in the early 1990s that he was a “post-Christian Jesuit.” I wondered how a member of the Society of Jesus, a son of Saint Ignatius, could be post-Christian. The former Dominican Father Matthew Fox tried the same line of thinking. In fact, he’s neither a Catholic nor a Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Preachers as he’s gone to the Episcopal Church and now some kind of new ager. Christ is optional for him. Not long ago a religious sister who teaches at CTU said that the sisters in the USA can go beyond Jesus. So the recent crisis in faith in religious orders reflects a deeper divide in Christian faith in the rest of society.

I try to wrap my mind around what it means to be a post-Christian American. Father C. John McCloskey III, priest of the Opus Dei wrote a piece, “Post-Christian America,” which I am recommending. Father McCloskey is a Church historian and research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute (Washington, DC). The point of the article is not demonstrate America’s abandonment of Christian faith but to say how it happened.

Liberal Christianity on the decline

The NY Times op-ed columnist and author Ross Douthat writes about the decline of “liberal Christianity.”  I found Douthat’s “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?” a good article to ponder, even good enough to take to prayer, because Ross asks what within the tradition of modern Christianity is worth saving and what definitely needs to be jettisoned. Douthat, for me, reminds me of days not long ago when a prominent religious order of men adopted a form of liberal Christian thinking on all maters but the truth, even to the point of a several members saying they relished being post-Christian. Gone are the days –at least one hopes the days are gone– when we are theologically shallow, lacking the biblical narrative and true theology.

Ross Douthat recently published the provocative Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (Free Press, 2012).

Will Catholics be forced into pariah status by aggressive secularism?

The Witherspoon Institute published an address, “At the Door of the Temple: Religious Freedom and the New Orthodoxy” by Philip Tartaglia on June 27, 2012. How are the challenges of faith and reason pressing us to think and act more boldly in the face of limitations being placed upon religious liberty?  The Most Reverend Philip Tartaglia is a responsible thinker and provokes all of us to do something that is reasonable.

The new orthodoxy of secularism fails to understand that the virtues generated by religious freedom underpin and encourage a healthy democracy.

When I was consecrated a bishop in 2005, I was not fretting about religious freedom in Scotland or in the United Kingdom. Yet just six and a half years later, I can say with a concerned and fearful realism that the loss of religious freedom is now arguably the most serious threat that the Catholic Church and all people of faith in this country are facing. The way this issue unfolds will determine how the Church will present itself to society for the foreseeable future. Will the Catholic Church–and other religious bodies and groups–have the space to adhere to, express, and teach their beliefs in the public square? Or will these basic elements of religious freedom be denied, driving the Church and other religious bodies to the margins of society, if not actually underground?

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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