Friday, September 28, 2012

The little decisions we make

I have heard from time to time the objection that if the Christian Faith is true then what we do in this life doesn't matter at all.  The afterlife (we are told) is all that matters.  This in turn should mean that Christians are not charitable, have no concern for the earthly concern of others, etc.

I cannot speak about this criticism impacts our Protestant brethren as it seems more targeted at them rather than Catholic theology (even though critics often confuse the two).  From my observations Protestant theology makes a sharp distinction between justification and sanctification.  The former involves righteousness and the latter sanctity.  In Catholic theology we recognize the distinction but they are much closer together.

The first objection to the criticism is that the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world.  Period.  The affiliated charities, hospitals, homeless shelters, etc point to the fact that being a Catholic Christian does not mean one stops caring about the world.  As Archbishop Chaput states:
Jesus tells us very clearly that if we don’t help the poor, we’re going to go to hell. Period. There’s just no doubt about it. That has to be a foundational concern of Catholics and of all Christians.
So Catholics and Christians have an obligation to care about the world and the material needs of fellow man.  The "brighter" side to this is that all Man is made for Love, and since Love is an act of Will, we are made to Love and care for our neighbor by acts of charity.

While this is important I think the criticism is wrong at a more fundamental level.  If (according to classical theism and Catholicism) God is Love, Goodness and Truth, then any action that we perform brings us closer to Him or farther away.  In fact far from this life not mattering the very little acts we do lead us or move us away from God.

Telling a white lie, sending a get well card, giving someone directions.  These are all things that mean something for those who believe.  In fact the only way anything can have real meaning is within the context of a universe created by God.

Far from this world not meaning anything, every decision we make here and now has the potential to impact our ultimate destiny.  This world matters to those of the Faithful.  To say otherwise is to misunderstand our Lord, the Faith, and our duty.  And that is a very perilous position to be in.

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