Thursday, November 20, 2003

Peace, all. Jcecil got me thinking about Archbishop Chaput's cute comment about charity in connection with the USCCB's reiteration of Church teaching against contraception. When asked about the potential for reception the contraception teaching would have among a Catholic laity that has largely ignored such teaching in the past, the archbishop said that Catholics generally ignore Church teaching on charity as well. But we still emphasize it. If the Church taught charity in the same way it presents teaching on artificial contraception, we Catholics would be obligated to perform an act of charity every time it crossed out minds. Look in my closet and see an extra pair of shoes or an extra coat -- whoops: gotta give it away. Read about a prison escape and my mind wanders -- oops: have to get down to the county jail and visit. Drive past a hospital -- better pull in the lot here and check on the sick. Let's be real about this. If people performed acts of charity every time the thought crossed our minds, the world would be a better place, no doubt, and lots of saints would be raised up in the resulting chaos. But the reality is that conscience is a guide to a reasonably holy life for most of us who are unprepared or doubtful about being heroes. I admire Catholics who are open to procreation at every sexual act. But openness to generativity in marriage might have more in common with our approach to charity than Archbishop Chaput thinks. The real sin is when we ignore the urgings of charity over the course of a life. Never ever visited the sick? Never ever visited a prison? Never ever gave clothing away? These are signs of a possible defect in charity. In the same way, a couple practicing artificial contraception over the entire course of a marriage might indicate a possible defect in their approach to the sacrament. But isolated instances or a period of choosing not to conceive children? I can't buy it. At least not unless the bishops are asking all of us to kick it up several notches to sainthood right away. And I don't think they are, do you?

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