"Understand then, that the Lord, your God, is God indeed, the faithful God who keeps his merciful covenant to the thousandth generation toward those who love Him and keep His commandments." (Deuteronomy 8-9)
"What we have here is a failure to communicate." Cool Hand Luke
Another flare-up of the perennial DaVinci Code virus elsewhere in St. Blogs provoked the thoughts that follow. I have noted a strong tendency to rush toward the apologetic books when this particular virus raises its ugly head. And that is well and good to help people combat the misinformation.
But it led me to the question--why should this be necessary? If someone accused your mother of being a slut would you run for the dictionary, to show that by definition she is not? Or would you simply let love take the lead. This is not to fault those who wish to address and correct the errors that are introduced here. It is to fault whatever mechanism gives rise to so weak a love of Jesus that some are inclined to take seriously any calumny uttered against Him.
It seems to me that much of our apologetics stays in our heads and never percolates down to the heart where it can foster true and lasting love. The only true defense against such idiocy is Jesus Himself. If we truly love Him, then nothing said against Him can convince us of anything other than the truth. The purpose of apologetics is to convince, but after conviction, something must help the truth bloom into love.
Where do we fail as Catholics to foster the love that should be the strongest line of defense against this horror? Obviously, those of us in St. Blogs seem to have no real problem with this; however, it appears that a great many outside the community have a faith that falters when assaulted with clever half-truths and glamorous lies. As I said before, if someone calls your mother a slut, the heart rushes in to battle what we know to be a lie. Where is the heart rushing in to battle the lies uttered against Jesus? What is wrong with our system that we should be so weak?
Yesterday I quoted a passage that said, "The family is the first 'sacrament.'" The more I read of the life of St. Katharine Drexel or St. Thérèse of Lisieux, I realize that their early advantage in life that led to lives of heroic sanctity was a devoted, loving family that focused attention on God as loving Father. The heart of love is fostered in the home. Children learn to love Jesus if they see that there is an obvious, passionate love of Jesus in the hearts of their parents.
All of us know that children will learn more from what we do than from what we say. We cannot instruct a child on the dangers of smoking while puffing on a cigar. We can't tell them the dangers of alcohol consumption while we blithely imbibe. They learn more from example than from speech. We can spend all day every day talking about Jesus and teaching the facts of Church History, Christology, Theology, and any number of other disciplines; however, if our children never witness us turning to God with our problems, if we do not take the time to sit down and pray with our children, they will not know Love. And "if I speak with tongues of angels and have not love, I am as a clanging cymbal," my words are meaningless. If I teach the most vaunted truths, and talk all the time of mystical theology, but I never once retire to pray, I have taught nothing worthwhile. Some of the information may stick in the head, but the heart is unmoved.
This, I think, is the position of most people whose faith is assaulted by such nonsense as The DaVinci Code. They may well know the facts they were taught in CCD, through sermons, or at home. However, the head has never transferred the facts to the heart where they feed love. And this often comes about because there is no strong devotion in the home. Parents do not instruct their children to pray first about any problem before trying to act upon it. They do not teach their children to rush into the Arms of Love. If we are armed merely with the technical facts of hypostatic union and transubstantiation, we will be like deer in the headlights when someone approaches with another intellectual construct--say consubstantiation or "the Church suppressed the fact that Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus." Complete balderdash, utter nonsense, and completely believable to one whose heart is not fortified by love of Christ and of His Earthly body, the Church.
Our intellects can be persuaded of any number of idiotic and patently untrue theories. This is what the "fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil" is all about. Knowledge is based on a series of facts chained together in arrays that make some sort of reasonable intellectual construct. But these constructs are subject to attack on any number of grounds. The principles that form them may prove untrue or unstable, the configuration of facts can be changed to create a new, equally likely construct.
Intellect must be fortified by love. Knowledge must be strengthened by prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and most importantly self-giving. And all of these are fostered not by the institutions we erect to teach and lead, but in the home, in the heart of the family. So, save your children this heartache and pain now, while you may, teach them to pray because Love of God is born in talking and listening to Him, not merely in the facts about Him.
When we hear of those challenged by the DaVinci code or by any number of other heresies, let us rush to their aid armed with facts. Let us show them the untruth of what they see. But let's start our assault with a prayer, either together, or before we ever meet with the one who needs help. Let us surround the intellectual battle with an unpierceable mantle of profound love and self-giving to Jesus the Lord. And when the facts have been arrayed, let us stand ready to lead the one attacked into prayer and into love of Jesus Christ. If we love Him, we cannot believe the preposterous things said of Him and of His church on Earth. Start the battle with prayer, continue the battle under the cloud of the Almighty (just as He shielded the Israelites) and end the battle with prayer. Our final goal should be to move the heart as much or more than we move the mind.
Love then is our strongest defense. Absolute abandonment to God protects us, mind and body, heart and soul from all the nonsense uttered by the greatest intellects on Earth. The proper response to an atheistic neo-Freudian is not a refutation of Freudian theory, but "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. . ." The proper response to The DaVinci Code is a presentation of facts followed by , "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."