I was looking at an old journal of mine, and came across this little passage I wrote last October–a stressful and anxious time in my life for a number of reasons. Among other things, I was getting ready to leave for 3 weeks to go and care for my parents, both of whom were gravely ill.
I was just thinking this morning… life is just love and war and love and war. And as I’m starting to notice about all truth, it’s not “either or,” but rather “both and.” You can’t live an authentic life by the slogan “Make love not war.” There’s no such thing as “free love.” Love is always an engagement with another… and a setting against other others. My love for God and Church sets me against fierce legions of opponents, both mortal and immortal. My love for my parents sets me against legions of my own comforts, conveniences, interests, and preferences–and one’s own ego can be the fiercest opponent of all. Love always requires choice and dedication–and rejection. Those that are rejected may or may not let you go in peace.
I’ve been under siege from all kinds of things … But I’ve made my choice, I’ve dedicated myself, and I’m sticking to my guns–by the grace of God, who is both love and the only invincible warrior.
Coming across that this morning seemed pretty timely for me. I’ve been feeling rather besieged for the last month or so. And people have been chiding me–sometimes kindly, sometimes not kindly–for what they perceive as belligerence and anger. These include people who know me personally as well as complete strangers. It’s generally been over politics and especially over my pro-life stance. Which is pretty understandable; people on all sides of these topics are passionate and often very emotional.
What bothers me is when somebody will say, “Boy, you Catholics are angry,” or “It’s not Christian of you to say such mean things” or “Jesus said to love, not hate,” etc. Now, it doesn’t bother me if someone is offering me some fraternal correction. I can be inordinately angry and even mean sometimes, just like anybody else can–though it’s hardly characteristic of me, by the grace of God.
What bothers me is when people accuse me of being angry or mean just to try to shut me up! Without taking any time to explain to me where I’m going wrong, and definitely without bothering to address the issues that I am talking about–such as what is wrong with me for being a angry that nearly 50 million innocent and helpless children have been barbarically killed in this country since 1973, and that our new president-elect doesn’t seem that bothered by it.
I don’t need anybody to tell me that anger and meanness are bad. My moral compass may not be perfect, but it is a little more fine-tuned than that, thanks. And the fact is, anger is not always the same thing as meanness. Anger is not always opposed to love and peace. And anger about ideas and actions is not the same as anger toward persons… just because I tear ideas and actions to shreds, doesn’t mean I want to hurt the person who thinks/does them. Quite to the contrary, actually… it’s usually a matter of wanting to save the person.
I don’t need anybody insinuating that I’m a bad Christian, or that Christians in general are bad, if I express anger–that’s nothing but a cowardly ad hominem attack, and I have no patience for such nonsense when I’m talking about important, often literally life-and-death issues such as abortion.
I don’t need anybody to try to convince me that the world is full of love and peace when, in fact, it’s full of violence and injustice–neither of which I can be indifferent to, much less OK with. I can’t “accept” or “tolerate” or “be non-judgmental about” such things. I can’t, and I won’t, for the sake of my immortal soul.
I don’t need anybody to try to distract me from the fact that I, and all of us, are locked in a life-long spiritual war with extremely real temporal and eternal consequences. The war is currently getting more heated now than ever. The fact that we know the war is ultimately won does not excuse any of us from not engaging in battle.
This is what it comes down to: When I die, I really don’t want God to look at me and ask why I fiddled while the world burned. I don’t want to be the servant with 1 talent from this Sunday’s Gospel reading. I know what kind of Master I serve… He may be Love Itself, but He isn’t always “nice.” Not when being nice would endanger the ones He loves. He may be a Lamb, but He’s also a Lion. And He put a little bit of the Lion within each of us, too… He is our Father, after all, and we’re meant to be like Him.
Say I was a mother with children… would I be expected to be nice all the time? Would I be considered mean if I got angry because somebody or something was threatening my children, or because they were doing something to endanger themselves?
Right now, I may be unmarried and not have biological children, but I’m still a mother in my own way. Actually, in a much wider, universal sense. I’m a daughter of the Blessed Mother, and her love is not only for her Son, but for all people, and the entire world. Such is my love, at least at this point in my life. When I see things hurting my society, my country, my Church, or the world at large, or when I see them doing things to endanger themselves, I’m not just going to do nothing, or keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, I pray. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I do something more confrontational. Sometimes I get angry.
If I were to do nothing, I would convict myself of a sin of omission! And I do sometimes. Sometimes I’m weak. Sometimes I’m timid. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I’m cowardly. Sometimes I’m selfish and just don’t want to be bothered. Sometimes I abandon people to their folly because I think they deserve it. These are the things that come from a lack of love! And nobody chides me for those failings… nobody but the Holy Spirit speaking through my conscience.
In any case, things haven’t changed much since last October… I’m still sticking to my guns! I pray that all my fellow Catholics do the same! Keep on fighting the good fight, and for mercy’s sake, don’t let anybody shut you up by calling you a big meanie!