“Ortho-Agape”

Still finding the stomach for an occasional lurk in the Catholic blogosphere these days. Of course, the progressives seem to be leaning to crowing and the Catholic Right seems split between disarray and spinning the new pope faster than a neutron star.

As a side bar, the discussion has heated up about who’s meaner: a liberal or a trad. I have to watch my own snark and temper, of course. But sometimes meanness is more a perception of the listener. Sometimes people experience life as a series of beat-downs, so they are sensitized to reacting to anything, or even everything, as if someone is abusing them. This is the well-known victim mentality. Pope Benedict might have referred to it as part of the hermeneutic of relativity. If one self-identifies as a victim, then all one’s unpleasant social interactions are the mark of persecution, or even hate.

It really doesn’t matter if the people involved, victims or tormentors are “orthodox” or not, virtuous or not. This is true for two reasons. First, as I mentioned already, to a victim, every adversary is a persecutor. But we also have to concede that any mortal being is imperfect. And liable to sin. Virtue can never be the identifying mark of the orthodox, not in this world. All fall short of the ideal of Jesus Christ.

Increasingly, I’m thinking that orthodoxy matters less and less. More important is the cooperation with God’s grace to present an “Ortho-Agape” (Orthocaritas sounds smoother, but mixing languages like that is a question mark.)

We could be aiming more to a “right-charity/love/kindness” in presenting ourselves as believers and followers of Christ. Though it doesn’t appear in this week’s Lectionary, the parable of the two sons does occur after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. In some way, that should point the way that Christians are called to an integrated stance of being ordered to God and to other people, and that this is not a natural conflict.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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