Friday, May 08, 2009

Christian dignity and loyalty

1) DC ‘Hood vs. St. Columba’s, Oxon Hill, today, 1 pm. It is our first day game at a school! Go ‘Hood!!
2) Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. Please join us!!
Anon asked:
1. How does one distinguish between swallowing their pride and setting aside their dignity? Or- is there even a difference?

First, let’s see what the Catechism says about the dignity of the human person:

“The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son1 to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity” (#1700).

What does all this mean, especially “attain to the perfection of charity?” It means that our dignity is found and fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. We lost our dignity through (Original) sin, but Christ restores our dignity when he became one of us. So, in order for us to fulfill our dignity as persons and to attain to the perfection of charity, we must live in Christ and love as he loves. Later in the section on dignity, the Catechism focuses on charity:

“Jesus makes charity the new commandment. By loving his own "to the end," he makes manifest the Father's love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love." And again: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (#1823). “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which "binds everything together in perfect harmony” (#1827).

Now, let’s look at the dignity of Christ on the Cross. His unparalleled love and humility is on display. This is the greatest example of “swallowing one’s pride”. Did he lose his dignity? No, because he did the Father’s Will and loved his own “to the end”. Jesus says this is the greatest love. Those who killed him acted against his dignity, but Christ’s dignity is not only preserved, it is fulfilled because he entrusted himself totally to the Father’s will in deep charity and humility.

So, when we live humility (i.e., swallow our pride), we imitate the love of Christ. Not only is our dignity not set aside, it is preserved and actually fulfilled. If we are in situations where we think that living humility compromises or even sets aside our dignity, then we need to look more closely at the Cross of Christ. If the Crucifixion set aside Jesus’ dignity, why would a crucifix hang high in each Catholic Church?

2. What is more correct, to be loyal to another person or to be loyal to a value?

Most correct is to be loyal to Christ. He calls us to be loyal to both persons and values. If someone we know is acting against a value, then we continue to be loyal to them as much as our conscience allows. I’m thinking about the loyalty of the martyrs, particularly St. Thomas More. He was loyal to the Church and to King Henry VIII. When the King’s extramarital affair presented a conflict between his loyalty to the Church and to the King, he remained as loyal to the King as his conscience would allow. This was a tremendous struggle for Thomas. In remaining loyal to his values, Thomas was actually being loyal to Henry! Henry was sinning against himself (his dignity) and God as well as bringing scandal to many others. Thomas remained loyal to both Henry and his values until death. Like all the martyrs and in imitation of Christ, Thomas didn’t choose death; he didn’t stop being loyal to others. Others chose death for him. His loyalty to people and to his values remains in tact to this day.


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