A good Catholic on “bad Catholics”

4 08 2010

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People often say, “It is better to be a good Protestant than a bad Catholic.” That is not true! That would mean that one could be saved without the true faith. No. A bad Catholic remains a child of the family, although a prodigal, and however great a sinner he may be, he still has a right to mercy. Through his faith, a bad Catholic is nearer to God than a Protestant, for he is a member of the household, whereas the heretic is not. And how hard it is to make him become one!

-St. Peter Eymard, found here

When I was a teenager, I used money spent working in apricot orchards to buy the books of St. Peter Eymard for devotional use. So it is interesting that I re-encountered him again so many years later in the form of this quote.

I am no longer all that interested in the issue of who gets saved outside the Church, since it is hard enough to get saved within it. The more pressing issue for me when presented with this quote is the idea of who belongs to the Church. St. Peter sees the Church as a family, and even “bad members” are still members. In other words, he sees it still almost as a matter of blood or kinship. Now, we tend to see it as a matter of “commitment”. The person closer to Jesus is the one who looks like a “commited Christian”, regardless of actual affiliation. There is a certain Pelagianism at work here, one that exalts civic virtue (those which are useful for post-industrial modernity) over supernatural virtue (which can be at odds with it).

On statues

4 08 2010

Their properties have been represented for us by the theurgic art in its statues of the gods, whom it clothes in the most varied figures. Some of them it portrays by means of mystic signs that express the unknowable divine potencies; others it represents through forms and shapes, making some standing, other sitting, some heart-shaped, some spherical, and some fashioned still otherwise; some simple, other composed of several shapes; some stern, others mild and expressing the benignity of the gods; and others still fearful in shape.

-Proclus, from A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid’s Elements