instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount

In a comment below, Pauli refers to the phenomenon of Catholic priests discouraging people from joining the Church.

Meanwhile, my son keeps asking me awkward questions about whether people who don't believe in Jesus can go to heaven.

The question is particularly awkward because we live in an area with a very large Jewish population, and the yes-and-no nuances of the answer sound awfully academic when a boy is imagining his next-door neighbors in eternal torment.

And I don't think it's escaped my son's notice that I seem pretty blase about the increased risk our neighbors run of damnation.

It seems to me that there are three possibilities:
  1. My neighbors can go to hell for all I care.
  2. I don't think believing in Jesus makes much of a difference in terms of salvation.
  3. I've got to preach Christ to my neighbors.
None of these is especially appealing, but the first is unneighborly and the third means taking on work with a high risk of humiliation. So it's in my own interest to massage the second possibility into a form that's more or less consistent with my understanding of the Catholic Faith.

I wonder whether similar forces are at work when a Catholic priest tells someone Catholicism (or even Christianity) is no big deal. If Catholicism is a big deal, then the priest had better get on his horse and get going, and not just with would-be converts who fall into his lap. But if getting on his horse and getting going would upset his plans, then maybe he's willing to take the broad, flexible outlook on just how big a deal Catholicism is after all.