Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bishop Blair: "The Universal Call to Holiness"

Bishop of Toledo Leonard Blair writes in the February 2009 issue of The Catholic Chronicle:
The universal call to holiness

Written by Bishop Leonard P. Blair
Friday, 06 February 2009

... It is one thing to see the "universal call to holiness" depicted in marble. It is quite another to catch a glimpse of it in flesh and blood, as I did on Jan. 21. That evening I was present in the Basilica of the National Shrine for the annual Mass on the occasion of the "March for Life" in our nation’s capital. Several ,hundred members of our diocese, including many young adults, were participants with people from every part of our country.

This event is a living model of the "universal call to holiness" not because the Catholics of every age group, ethnicity and state of life who went to Washington are holier than other people (and in any case, only God knows the true state of any individual’s soul). Rather, what is striking is the public witness that is given to Christian holiness as a call to the "perfection of love" beyond the private sphere. It is a call that leads to "a more human manner of life ... in earthly society." It is a call to work and pray, to speak up and to stand up for our neighbor, both unborn and born, in keeping with the most fundamental truth from God about the dignity and rights of every human person.

For a very long time we Catholics in the United States were raised to keep our faith to ourselves in order to get ahead in a society marked by anti-Catholic bigotry. After the upheavals of the 1960s there was a short lull because it was thought that the church was ready to become "mainstream" by abandoning many of her teachings on faith and morals. Anti-Catholicism is now returning with a vengeance because the church remains steadfast regarding abortion, contraception, divorce, homosexual behavior, etc., not to mention other issues of social justice.

The drama of social change has been unfolding for a very long time. Recently I read a highly acclaimed biography of President Theodore Roosevelt, in which the author offered the following description of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., President Roosevelt’s appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1902, more than a century ago: "In his world," the author writes, "there was neither absolute good nor absolute evil — only shifting standards of positive and negative behavior, determined by the majority and subject to constant change. Morality was not defined by God; it was the code a given generation of men wanted to live by. Truth was ‘what I can’t help believing.’ Yesterday’s absolutes must give way to ‘the felt necessities of the time.’ " (Edmund Morris, "Theodore Rex," p. 130)

This worldview now reigns supreme. And there are many who argue that the call to holiness — including fundamental questions of justice based on right and wrong — has little or nothing to do with a Catholic’s daily life in the world. We should just mind our own business, they argue, and keep our beliefs on these matters to ourselves behind the closed doors of private devotion, personal virtue and religious exercises. Yet, when scoffers look back over 2,000 years to discredit the Christian faith, isn’t it precisely the historical failures of Christians both to denounce and renounce public injustices and evils in society that bolster the false claim that Christianity is either a failure or a fraud?

[Read the whole thing]

© Copyright 2002 - 2009 Catholic Chronicle
The Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo
(emphasis added)

My Comments:
God bless my Bishop. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to tell Bishop Blair last week how much I enjoy and appreciate his monthly column in The Chronicle.

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