But where is wisdom to be found, and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof, neither is it found in the land of them that live in delights....The finest gold shall not purchase it...Gold or crystal can not equal it....High and eminent things shall not be mentioned in comparison to it...Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?...Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom: and to depart from evil, that is understanding. ~Job 28:12-28
Last night my brother called to speak to my mother. Normally, there's a lot of small talk about how people are doing and what books they are reading. But sometimes their conversation gets around to our family, especially our 7 children. You see, we are something of a freak show with my Protestant extended family. For some reason, they say what disrespectful thing they are thinking, right in front of our faces, and pretend that we don't hear it. It's sorta like going to the circus and talking about the bearded lady while you are staring at her through the glass. It's almost inhuman. And last night was no exception.
What's so freakish about us? Well, we are real Catholics. We are poor. We have 7 children. We obviously do not use birth control. I do not work outside the home. Our family is devoted to Our Blessed Mother. We have icons all over our house. We pray the Rosary and make the sign of the Cross often. We go to confession and we believe that it's possible to control one's sinful behavior. For my Southern Protestant family, we are not to be taken seriously. We are out of touch with reality. We are silly. We are wicked and we need to be saved. So every little chance my Southern Baptist brother gets, he offers some practical Protestant "wisdom" and "truth."
The little pearl of wisdom he offered last night was in regard to our 17 year-old son. Truth be told, we've had a difficult go with him. He's grown up in the Northeast where religious belief of whatever sort is personal and marginal. He came of age in the public school system where social activities are overly encouraged along with the idea of teenage personal sovereignty. As such, our transition from a modern Catholic family to a traditional Catholic family has been especially difficult for him. He openly questions God and, thus, morality. And as frightening as that seems, somewhere underneath is a little seed; a seed of Truth that Our Lord will allow to blossom in His own time. I have often been reminded, when I go to the confessional confessing my own doubts and fears about him, that St. Monica prayed for 30 years over St. Augustine. So I know from the lives of the Saints that it only takes a seed. Eventually, it will grow.
Unfortunately, Protestants don't have the beautiful treasury of the Saints. They don't have the inexhaustible collection of men, women, and children who overcame the snares of the devil and lived their lives with eyes solely on heaven. They don't have the beautiful gift of the Sacraments, especially of Penance and the Eucharist. They have no understanding really of God's grace in our lives. They are, sadly, facing a broken world, a sinful world, with only their intellect and will to guide. So it was no surprise to me when my brother threw in his unsolicited 2 cents in regard to our son.
You see, our son has a girl-friend. These two have been sweet on each other since they were 14. Back in those days, we knew about their fondness for each other, and we chose not to over emphasize it. Yet, every chance we got, we talked about chastity, respect for each other, and the necessity to protect each other's reputation. We've insisted on that. As they approached 16, a quite vulnerable age in this modern world, we upped our conversations about chastity and respect. Not once, in any conversation that we have had with our son, have we mentioned or encouraged he and his young girl to sin. In fact, we have reminded him that he can control himself-he must control himself-until they marry, if that is the Lord's will. And yet, we realize, completely, that this modern world is fallen. And we've also recognized that, as their feelings grow, there might be occasion to sin. And with a young son whose grown up in a modern Catholic, Protestant, and secular world this is a frightening situation. Yet, we have peace, hope, and faith in Our Lord and our young son.
But as the case with most Protestants, they don't see sin in this way. For them, we are all totally depraved. The spirit might be willing, as my brother thinks, but the flesh is weak. So his advice, freely given to the trad Catholic freaks, is to "hope and pray they are using birth-control." Now isn't that special? Not that I am surprised at his suggestion. He has offered his practical Protestant position on many occasions. And in an effort not to seem "preachy", he disguises the "birth-control is beautiful" ideology within almost every conversation. "It's hard enough to pay for one child to go to college. It's impossible to pay for 4." "Groceries are high." "You've got to drive a big ole' gas guzzler 'cause you can't put 6 kids in Ford Focus." "You've only got three bedrooms?" And the one that I love--"You're pregnant again? Aren't you 43?" He feels justified in his tid-bits of advice, though, because they are practical. And even when counseling unmarried teens, the practicality of not having babies always trumps the sinfulness of one's actions. So us pesky Catholics, always focused on our personal sins, are just stupid and silly because we just can't embrace the practicality of living.
So how do I respond to my pompous, Protestant brother? "Oh boy. You'd encourage them to pile one sin on top of another? How Christian of you." And there in lies the rub, doesn't it? And here is where our Protestant friends are let loose running in the corral. They have lost the concept of actual sin, how we participate in it, and that we can doing anything about it. And because we Catholics still believe in sin, still believe that Our Lord hates sin, still believe that Hell is a real place and that we can merit it by committing mortal sin, we are freaky, impractical, illogical individuals. And, in their opinion, we aren't doing ourselves or our children any favors.
Protestant theology and ideology has brought the United States to complete moral decay and economic collapse. In practice, it is a Godless faith. It is a faith where men and women make their own rules, decide who God is and what He wants, and determine for themselves how to merit heaven. Protestant theology causes one to eventually embrace evil because they believe it to be practical or morally acceptable. It also causes one to look upon certain people through judgmental eyes. It is grave danger to the soul because, the ultimate outcome is a belief sin is not real, that morals are relative to circumstance, and that material possessions are a reflection of God's grace.
I love my brother dearly. I believe that he is sincere in his Southern Baptist beliefs. I know, without doubt, that he loves Our Lord with his whole heart and soul. I don't doubt his sincerity or his piety. I don't doubt that most Protestants are this way. I was one. I know many. They are good, hard working people, without question. But Protestantism is diseased. It is a lie from the devil and, if one is not careful to recognize the dangers, leads to hard-heartedness, selfishness, sinfulness, and loss of faith.
I am absolutely never going to tell my sons or daughters that sin, in any form, is acceptable. I am especially not going to tell them, when they are older, that sexual relations outside of marriage is okay or acceptable. Sin is a horrible thing. It damages our relationship to Our Lord. It hurts him. Sometimes, in the case of mortal sin, it separates us completely from Him. And although we have a human nature, a desire for the things of this world, the things of the flesh, we also have a free will and God's grace. Through the reception of the Sacraments we can have a continuous flow of Our Lord's graces. And with that, we can have the will to never offend God again, the desire to avoid sin, the ability to reject Satan and all his vices. And that is the pearl of wisdom I am going to give my son.
More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason. ~Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
St. Monica, pray for us!
St. Augustine, pray for us!