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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Heroism, the Average Man and the Subtle Condescension of Lowered Expectations

(Yes, "man," I consider myself included in the term, I am part of mankind.)
I have to confess, (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea minima [?] culpa,) since the organ in which it appeared its not one from which I find I receive much information nor food for thought, I had not actually read the entire interview in which a German prelate had opined that "heroism is not for the average Christian."

It is a ludicrous statement, a theologian might as well say that sanctity or sainthood is not for the average Christian, the grandeur of Heaven is not for the average Christian, the doing more than the minimum to get by is not, or the Beatific Vision, or the effort to live without sin...
Not called to holiness, not called to grapple with the prince of this world and his rules for  going along to get along...
One might as well say that the Glory of having been created in the image and likeness of God is "not for" you.
You commonplace persons, you member of the hoi polloi, you sad little average person.
Not everyone agrees.
There was a link to a FOCUS article about heroism in my inbox, and some pretty solid advice, (though the trendy jargon of "being present in the moment," I could have wished had been worded differently.) An excerpt:
1.     Pray.
Build and solidify your relationship daily with Jesus Christ, the most heroic among us.

2.     Practice saying no to yourself.
Build a habit of saying no to the things you want. This will make you the master of your own will.

3.     Be present in the moment.
Become interested in the people you’re with.  Don’t wish your life away.

4.     Lead someone else.
As you try to grow in virtue, teach someone else those same virtues which you are building — and then show them how to teach someone else.
Also, instead of merely reading the money quotes as reported elsewhere, I did read the rest of the Cardinal Kasper interview. His "hero" line in context:
To live together as brother and sister? Of course I have high respect for those who are [living together as brother and sister]. But it’s a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian. That could also create new tensions. Adultery is not only wrong sexual behavior. It’s to leave a familiaris consortio, a communion, and to establish a new one. But normally it’s also the sexual relations in such a communion, so I can’t say whether it’s ongoing adultery. Therefore I would say, yes, absolution is possible. Mercy means God gives to everybody who converts and repents a new chance.
I have high respect for such people [those who say that absolution requires penance, and that entails a firm purpose of amendment]. But whether I can impose it is another question.
'Zat really any better? As a confessor or spiritual director he "can't say whether it’s ongoing adultery"? Of course you can't impose any penance or absolution fort that matter FOR SOMETHING YOU CAN'T SAY IS A SIN.
Oh, one last section, which I will not criticize, but which leaves me flummoxed:
CWL: When you talk about a divorced and remarried Catholic not being able to fulfil the rigorist’s requirements without incurring a new guilt, what would he or she be guilty of?
Kasper: The breakup of the second family. If there are children you cannot do it. If you’re engaged to a new partner, you’ve given your word, and so it’s not possible.
"Engaged"? "Given your word"?
Perhaps by "engaged" he means something other than the immediate association most anglophones have.
But is there guilt in breaking your words when the very giving of it breaks and earlier one?
And yes, children, if there are any, should be the first consideration.
This, of course, includes children from the previous union.
But is it good for a child to live in an environment where at least one of his parents has come to the realization that, whether fully culpable or not, his participation in conjugal relations is sinful, and is not willing to forgo them?
In fact, if one parent would like to live chastely and the other insists on them, isn't that the very definition of an abusive relationship?
Which almost anyone would say, one should extricate oneself from, no?

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