Quo Vadis, Domine?

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Quo Vadis
Domine
is the name of my favorite church in Rome. It lies just outside
the gates of my favorite place in Rome, the Callistus Catacombs.
It is a tiny, old church, easily missed by tourists looking for
"the grandeur that was Rome." It commemorates the time
in the life of Christianity when St. Peter decides to remain in
Rome, rather than go to another city in order to avoid persecution
and death. While the historical environment of that time (54–68
AD) is well known, the precise historical details of Peter's choice
are not. The spiritual drama of Peter's decision, however, has been
illuminated and immortalized by the Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature,
Henryk Sienkiewicz, in his 1905 masterpiece Quo
Vadis
.

At the climactic
moment of the novel, Peter is leaving Rome with his friend, Nazarius,
during the height of Nero's persecution of Christians. He meets
the risen Jesus on the outskirts of the city. Jesus, however, is
walking into, not out of, Rome:

The traveling
staff fell out of Peter's hand. His eyes were fixed immovably
ahead. His lips were open, and his face reflected unbelievable
surprise, immense joy, and rapturous exaltation.

Suddenly
he threw himself on his knees, his arms lifted upward and stretched
to the light, and his lips cried out: "Christ! O Christ!"
His head beat against the dust as if he were kissing the feet
of someone only he could see. Then there was silence.

"Quo
vadis, Domine?" his voice asked at last, punctured by his
sobbing. "Where are you going, Lord?"

Nazarius
heard no answer. But a voice of ineffable sweetness and abundant
sorrow rang in Peter's ears, "When you abandon my people,"
he heard, "I must go to Rome to be crucified once more."

The apostle
lay still and silent with his face pressed into the dust. Nazarius
thought he had either died or fainted, but he rose at last, picked
up his pilgrim's staff, and turned again toward the seven hills.

"Quo
vadis, domine?" the boy asked like an echo of the apostle's
cry.

"To
Rome," Peter murmured.

Consistency

Before people
take seriously a proclamation of someone who asks a sacrifice from
them, common sense demands that they see a consistency between the
words and deeds of that person. Imagine if Jesus, after having taught,
"Love your enemies," for three years, rather than saying
to Peter, "Put up your sword," had said, "Peter,
get the other ear!" Would people say of Him that He teaches
"with authority" (Lk 4:32; Mt 7:29; Mk 1:22)? If, on the
cross, instead of praying, "Father forgive them, for they know
not what they do!" Jesus had instead cried out, "Father,
have no mercy on those who have done this to me," would His
teaching, "Love your enemies" be credible?

Jesus was aware
that His teachings about the Way of Eternal Life would forever sound
— and would forever be — hollow if left un-enfleshed. He had to
walk through the furnace of His own truth before He could expect
others to live what He proclaimed to be the will of God. Verbal
witness alone was sterile. "If he does not believe in his own
truth enough to live it, why should I?" would be a normal —
and quite logical — reaction to Jesus, or to anyone else, proclaiming
the Gospel by words alone. As philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche framed
it: "You will never get me to believe in a redeemer until you
act redeemed."

In Quo Vadis,
Peter visits Christians who are soon to be martyred. A Roman soldier,
Vinicius, in love with a Christian woman, clandestinely places himself
among the Christians in order to locate her. At that moment Peter
begins to speak:

[I]t's not
enough to love just one's own kind; God died a man's death on
the cross, he spilled his blood for all mankind, and even the
pagans are turning toward him now…And it's not enough to love
only those who love and treat you well. Christ forgave his executioners.
He removed all blame from the Jews who turned him over to Roman
justice to be crucified and from the Roman soldiers who nailed
him to the cross…"Only love is more powerful than hatred,"
the teacher said simply. "Only love can clean the world of
evil."

By the time
Peter finishes Vinicius is perplexed and disoriented:

[T]hese ideas
were a completely new way of looking at the world and totally
rearranged everything known before. He sensed that if he were
to follow the teaching, he would, for example, have to make a
burnt offering of everything that had made him; he would have
to destroy his thinking, crush all his perceptions, excise every
habit, custom and tradition, erase his whole acquired character
and the driving force of his current nature — burn it all to ashes,
consign it to the winds, and fill the void with an entirely different
soul and a life on a wholly different plane. A philosophy that
taught love for Parthians, Syrians, Greeks, Egyptians, Gauls and
Britons seemed like lunacy; love and forgiveness to an enemy and
kindness in the place of vengeance were simply sheer madness…What
he heard seemed totally divorced from reality as he understood
it, and yet it made his reality so insignificant, it was hardly
worth a passing thought.

Sanctity

Everyone has
heard the pros and cons for following or not following Jesus and
His Way. There is only one rationale, however, that could be universally
conclusively persuasive — that herein dwells the quintessence of
sanctity, herein lies eternal salvation. And, this is precisely
what the Christian faith holds. It is Jesus, and only Jesus, who
is the incarnation of absolute Holiness. In all creation there is
not a clearer manifestation of Holiness than Jesus. Jesus is what
Holiness looks like in time and in eternity because Jesus is the
Eternally Holy "made flesh." Sanctity then is freely laying
down one's life, moment to moment, in order to love the Father and
all His sons and daughters, as Jesus loves the Father and all His
children. Sanctity is following Jesus, the incarnation of the Holy
One. It is in loving one another as Jesus loves us (Jn 15:12; 13:34),
that a person fulfills "the entire Law of the Gospel"
(Catechism
of the Catholic Church
, 1970), that a person does the Father's
will "on earth as it is in heaven" (2822). The Way of
sanctity, the Way of nonviolent Christ-like love of friends and
enemies, and the Way of eternal salvation are all indivisibly one
and the same Way — the Way of Jesus.

Heroism

The Way of
sanctity, however, is a heroic Way, because every step on this Way
is a step of love in an atmosphere inundated with the dark matter
of evil. Not a step of love as Caesar defines love, nor as Aristotle
defines love, nor as Hugh Hefner defines love. It is step of love
as Jesus, the God of love (agapé) incarnate, defines love
by His words and deeds. It is a love that has at its heart the cross
— the symbol and the reality of the nonviolent, unlimited, self-sacrificial
love for all human beings, enemies as well as friends. Indeed this
cross-grounded love is the very power and wisdom of God to conquer
evil and death forever. It is a love that, in the words of Vinicius,
is "simply sheer madness." Yet it is a love that renders
every other approach to life "so insignificant, it [is] hardly
worth a passing thought."

In The
Brothers Karamazov
, Father Zossima, Dostoevsky's paramount
example of what it means to be a Christian, says that Christ-like
love "in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with
love in dreams." To voluntarily enter the dynamic of Christ-like
love for others, friends and enemies, is supreme heroism. It is
the heroism of the cross. It is, as the song says, being "willing
to march into hell for a heavenly cause" — and to march there,
or into any lesser battle, with the cross of Christ-like love as
one's solitary weapon. It is risking responding — to hurt, hate,
cruelty, insult, shame, calumny, fear, violence, injustice and even
the very threat of death — exclusively with that love made visible
by Jesus. It is abandoning oneself to Christ by abandoning all means
that are inconsistent with the means of Christ. It is bearing the
"unbearable burden" of the cross of limitless, nonviolent,
self-sacrificial Christ-like love for both friends and enemies every
second of every day in common affairs and in crisis moments. Why?
Because Holy Love Itself has asked that it be done for the salvation
of the world. To commit one's life to this cross-based love — as
opposed to a violent, partisan sword-based love with the other as
the primary object of sacrifice — in a world saturated in evil,
takes great boldness and courage, great faith and trust. It takes
genuine heroism. But to choose to live in this Way is to imitate
God, to unite with the Holy, to literally participate in the very
Life of the Nonviolent Trinity whose love for each and all is infinite
and everlasting.

Sanctity's
Fragrance or the Harlot's Perfume

Christ-like
love can be very costly but, expensive or not, it is the power of
God given to the Church. Such love has no more need of social status,
coercive power, connections in high places, prestige, badges of
distinction, money, intrigue or prerogative, than a rose has any
need to give a sermon to attract people. When a Church or its leaders
feel that they need social status, coercive power, etc., to draw
or hold people, perhaps what is really needed is an examination
of conscience and consciousness to determine why the attracting
fragrance is no longer being emitted from the rose, or what is being
done that is interfering with people being captivated by it. Human
beings will flee from the suffocating smells emanating from the
perfumes that the perpetually decaying kingdoms of the world offer
as temporary means for masking the unendurable stench of evil and
death, if alternatively the ambrosia of Christ-like love is made
present by the Church. Why? Because human beings are made by Christ-like
love, in the image of Christ-like love and for Christ-like love.
Christ-likeness is what it means to be human. Christ-like love,
the love intrinsic to the Eternal Logos (Word) "through whom
all things were made," is–must be–the fullness of life in
time and in eternity. Nothing could be more inviting and appealing
to a human being than that from which the universe is made, than
that in which the soul participates, than that for which he or she
never-endingly longs, namely, to know they are eternally loved by
the Source of all.

The historically
discredited Christian modus operandi of ceaselessly concocting
sermons, theologies and apologetics that attempt to by-pass the
Divine agapéic rose of Christ-like love, by imbuing the sulfur-based
perfumes of the kingdoms of the world with artificial eternal significance
and Gospel-standing, is tantamount to an erotic harlot continually
pouring new perfumes over old perfumes which have begun to reek.
It is just more of the same old unheroic, spiritually unproductive,
"gong booming, cymbal clashing" Christianity (1 Co 13:1).
It is a Christianity that leaves the course of everyday life, and
history in general, as pagan as ever — if perhaps, slightly less
noticeable for a while. If the opportunity is made available by
the Church, human beings will gracefully and naturally gravitate
to a Community incarnationally committed to the Christ-like love
of all people, friends and enemies — regardless of the cost or the
required heroism involved. This will occur because a rose-scented
spiritual and moral atmosphere would be intuited by the immortal
soul to be heaven on earth, even if the body were nailed to a cross.
Vinicius grasped this instantly.

Benign Concern

Religious elites
who commerce in the scents of the kingdoms of the world will, with
a display of benign concern, often demeaningly insist that "little
people," "ordinary Christians" are not up to the
heroic struggle entailed in trying to love friends and enemies as
Jesus does. "The u2018Sermon on the Mount' and the u2018Sermon of the
Cross' are too much for them," they say. "Let those in
the pews be content with venerating crosses of wood and metal as
holy object with only metaphysical meaning — but with no content
in regards to the moral will of God." To which I respond: Tell
that to the thousands of "little people" whose martyred
bodies lie in the catacombs of Rome! Tell that to the "ordinary
Christians" in the holding cells beneath the Circus Maximus
in the days of Nero or two hundred years later in the days of Diocletian.
In the Gospels it is precisely the "little people" that
Jesus spends most of His time with and to whom He most often issued
His invitation to "Follow Me"–and who follow him. It
is the religious elites in the Gospels who refused to take Him at
His word and who work like the devil to prevent "ordinary people"
from so doing–and from following Him.

Systematically
bracketing out from one's proclamation of the Gospel selected teachings
of Jesus concerning the Will and Way of God, because the "little
people" in general or "ordinary Christians" in particular
are not up to living them, or would rebel against them, is a temptation
from the Evil One that must be resisted. It must be resisted with
particular vigor especially by those who have accepted a position
of Church leadership with its explicit commission from Jesus to
"teach them to obey all that I have commanded you" (Mt
28:20). Pastorally figuring-out how a teaching of Jesus should best
be presented in order to elicit comprehension of it and commitment
to it is one thing. Pre-judging whether Christians can or cannot
live fully a life of Christ-like love — "all that I have commanded
you" — with the help of the grace of God, and employing this
analysis to validate withholding or muting a teaching of Jesus is
quite another. The former task Jesus commits to the leaders of the
His Church. The latter task Jesus allots to no one in His Church.
With the power of the Holy Spirit involved, choosing the path of
Christ-like love, which from the outside may appear impossibly heroic,
can from the inside be experienced as necessary and as natural as
breathing. St. Peter on Pentecost being the first, but by no means
last, example of this.

Heroic Christic
love, then, is not auto-salvation, as it does not depend on its
own strength to conquer the satanic, like a nation would rely on
its organizations of violence to save itself from its political,
economic, cultural, ethnic or religious enemies. It is the power
of the Holy Spirit of the Risen Jesus Christ that makes it both
desirable and possible to overpower in a Christ-like Way the anti-Gospel
currents — psychological, emotional, cognitive and spiritual — that
the kingdoms of the world have set in motion in us and in our lifeworld
long before we were aware of their presence. But, heroic or unheroic,
perseverance in Christ-like love and sanctity must be and can be
the daily and lifetime commitment of the Christian, even if he or
she is just a "little flower" in a forest of giant theological
and ecclesiastical redwoods.

This is all
possible because the Christian rests secure in the faith, that regardless
of how dreadful, fearful or hopeless life may seem to be in its
entirety or in a particular hour, God — whether called upon or not
— is encompassing each one and all as a prodigal Father embraces
a beloved son or daughter. Therefore, regardless of projected fearful
outcomes, the Christian can venture to stay-the-course in trying
to love as Jesus loves, in trying to be holy as Christ is holy,
because he or she is certain of the Good News that "nothing
can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus
our Lord" (Rm 8:31-39). Trust in Abba’s total love and protection,
as Jesus trusted in Abba’s total love and protection, is where the
Christian's complete security resides. He or she knows, with invincible
faith and unshakable hope, that the Father will protect him or her
as totally as He protected Jesus, regardless of how fragile or vulnerable
he or she feels at the moment. How else could martyrdom in the Spirit
of the Nonviolent Jesus and in the model of the Protomartyr St.
Stephen be either possible or sane two thousand years ago — or today?

You've nothing
to Fear

Let us return
for an instant to Quo Vadis. It is now only minutes before
the Christians are to be herded into the arena of horror. Sobs,
silence, and desperation alternately punctuate the air. An anguished
widow pleads to God, "Give my son back to me, O Lord."
A Christian father repeats and repeats, "The hangmen raped
my little daughters and Christ let it happen." For another
Christian soon to die, "the hair lifted on his head in terror"
when he thought, "What if Caesar of Rome was mightier than
Jesus of Nazareth?" Peter quietly sits praying among the tormented
faithful. Then he begins speaking, so low at the outset that hardly
anyone hears him:

I tell you
in Christ's name you've nothing to fear! Life waits for you, not
death. Joy without end, not torments. Song waits, not tears and
moaning….

"I tell
you as God's apostle, widow, that your son won't die but will
be born in glory to a new life, and you will be together. I tell
you, father, whose innocent daughters they've soiled, they'll
be as unblemished as the lilies of Hebron when you meet again.
I say in Christ's name to all you mothers who'll be torn away
from your orphaned children, all you who'll lose your fathers,
all who cry for pity, all who'll witness the death of those they
love, all who are sick at heart, unfortunate and fearful, and
I say again to you who must die: You will wake as if from a dream
into eternal light, and the Son of God will shine in your night."

Secularization

Of all the
dangers to the integrity of the Petrine ministry, the episcopal
ministry, presbyteral ministry, indeed to the institutional Church
itself, the greatest is secularization (Latin: saecularis
— worldly, temporal, as opposed to eternal). By secularization is
meant the adoption by the Church, by its leadership and/or its membership,
of the values, attitudes, beliefs, powers, needs, means, and goals
of a secular society, which values, attitudes, beliefs, powers,
needs, means, and goals are hostile to, obfuscate, or are dismissive
of that Christ-like love which is the power of God given to the
Church to lead people along the Way to an eternally-graced union
with Him.

The secularization
of the institutional Church, its leadership and laity, is the axial
betrayal, which leaders and members must confront and confess today,
if the Church is to be renewed and revitalized — if a new time of
authentic evangelization is to commence. Secularization is a process
not decades old but centuries old. It is no longer a creeping aberration
in the institutional Churches; it is a galloping normality throughout
the Churches. It has also become, due to literacy and mass media,
more and more noticeable, scandalizing and off-putting to more and
more people — Christians and non-Christians alike.

The long-standing
pretense can no longer be spiritually sustained that secularization
has served the Church well, or even adequately. Can anyone look
candidly at the twentieth century Church in any of its institutional
forms — Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or Evangelical — and honestly
maintain that the pastoral leadership of these Churches or the Churches
themselves have been equal to the attacks that evil has mounted
against Christianity and humanity during the last hundred years?

From 1914–1918,
Church leaders in nation after nation ratify as conforming to the
will of God as revealed by Jesus the diabolical monstrosity of World
War I. This malignancy metastasizes in the same leaders or their
successors, thereby ensuring that they would rationally, theologically
and canonically be able to place the satanic abomination of 1939
to 1945 under Divine patronage. Now that this Century of Cain is
over, it is known that Christians killed more people in war in the
twentieth century than in all the centuries since the time of Constantine
(d. 337). Christians also slaughter other Christians in unprecedented
numbers during the last one hundred years. Practically all of this
homicide is done with the various Churches blessing and morally
justifying those Christians who are doing it. But, in no way is
twentieth century Christianity out of step with the Christianity
of the last seventeen centuries. Volumes of evidence from the recent
and the remote past — for example, the historical fact that more
Christians are killed by the Roman Empire after it becomes a "Christian
state" than when it is a pagan state — can be adduced to verify
that the long-term results of secularizing the Church, beneath the
veneer of public piety and religiosity, has been a spiritual and
pastoral calamity.

When Rome became
Christian in name, the Church became Roman in deed. The persecuted
became the persecutors. In operational practice the Lamb became
the Imperial Lion with all the inversion of values, attitudes and
morality that the reversal of those symbols implies. And, like any
lion that has once tasted the rewards of power and ease of life
that come with living off human bloodletting, its appetite for these
only increases. This appetite has not been satiated to this day
— although it does wax and wane according to the political climate
of the hour. Secularized Christianity with its ethics for the baptized
of justified homicide, violence, dominative power, fear, enmity,
retaliation and revenge in pursuit of earthly agendas has literally
turned the cross of Christ upside down and made it into the sword
of Caesar. Instead of the Church "turning the whole world upside
down" (Ac 17:6–7) by fidelity to the Way of Jesus, the world
has turned the Church of Jesus Christ upside down by secularizing
it to ways and means that are self-evidently at war with the ways
and means of Jesus.

Unless the
past has been perfect, the future should be different from the past.
Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, Colorado, writes, "Much
of the western world may still appear to be Christian, but it is
not — at least not in any real sense of the word u2018Christian.'"
No reasonable observer of the scene could disagree, if by "Christian"
is meant following the Jesus of the Gospels and His Way. But, who
is responsible for this situation? Evasion of truth is preposterous
when eternal salvation is at stake. The Hebrew and Christian Scriptures
are in accord on this: A sin left unnamed regenerates itself incessantly
and with ever-greater intensity. Denial only assures a future that
mirrors the past. So it must be stated unambiguously: responsibility
for the secularization of the Church lies primarily on the heads
of Church leaders, and those who piously strive to be Church leaders
in Churches that justify their own secularized ethos. Well, the
"Ninth Hour" is upon the leadership of the Church. The
cock crows! Jesus Christ is looking "straight at" (Lk
22:61) those He has chosen (Mk 3:13–14) and who have denied Him.
(For to deny the truth of His Way, or to substitute another way
for His Way because one believes His Way is unrealistic, is to deny
Him.) His Eyes are asking his betraying Church and its leaders:
"Are you now sincerely willing to follow Me and enter once
again upon the Way of the Nonviolent Messiah — and to bring with
you those "little ones" I have placed in your care?"

Survival

The taproot
of the spiritually toxic problem of secularization is veiled but
not entirely concealed. Worldly leaders are concerned with the survival
of their societies or institutions. Secular leaders are denounced
or deposed if they fail in promoting the survival of their group
and its interests. If there is one thing, however, the Church never
needs to worry about, it is the survival of the Church. Temporal
survival, which is the primary concern in the realm of the secular,
is a non-concern in the realm of the Church. The Church survives,
period. It survives not by superb administration, financial acuity,
clever public relations gimmicks, coercion, violence, catering to
elites, secrecy, fear, nor by anything else human beings do to assure
the survival of worldly enterprises. The Church survives only because
of this — Christ guarantees its survival. Jesus Christ has never
left the Church. He still lives in the Church and exercises His
headship. There is never any need for anyone, anywhere, or at any
time, to be concerned about the Church's survival. In fact, a billion
Christians going to war "for the survival of the Church"
would be an ignominious spiritual failure in the guise of a brilliant
worldly success. It would be unbelief masquerading as heroic fidelity.
It would be false witness. It would be utterly irrelevant to the
Church's survival. It would be secularization befogging the Christian
mind and suppressing the Christian heart.

"My business
is fidelity; God's business is success," explains Mother Theresa.
This truth has to be deep in the heart of Jesus in Gethsemane, as
well as deep in the heart of St. Peter and those Christians to whom
Peter speaks on their way to the Circus Maximus. Likewise, it must
reside deep in the heart of anyone who wishes to be a faithful Christian
— most especially in the heart of anyone who wishes to be a faithful
Christian leader. Note that Mother Theresa did not say: "My
business is success; God's business is fidelity!"

The Church
requires not one "pragmatic" sin, not one inch of departure
from the Way of Jesus, not one act that is not an act of Christ-like
love in order to successfully complete the mission Jesus committed
to it. The power the Church has been given to fulfill Her mission
is the power of God, and that, Jesus tells us, is the power of love
as He makes it visible in time and space. Concern for an institutional
Church's material dimensions is appropriate provided it stays within
the parameter of Christ-like love. Toward that which is totally
perishable inside or outside the Church, Church leaders and Church
members owe no duty beyond that which can be executed with Christ-like
love. If gaining possession, continuing possession or re-possession
of some worldly thing — or even the whole world — cannot be achieve
within the requirement of Christ-like love, then it cannot be achieved,
and the Church or Christian therefore has no earthly need of it
in order to accomplish fully their divine assignment within the
mystery of salvation in Jesus Christ.

"One
act of pure love," teaches St. John of the Cross, "is
more valuable to the Church than all other acts combined."
St. Paul would concur (1 Cor 13). If a person wants access to a
power superior to this, or to a power antagonistic to this, then
he or she should not be a Christian, let alone a Christian leader.
If a Christian leader or a Christian has succumbed to the temptation
to employ the anti-Gospel powers of the kingdoms of the world (Lk
4:5–7; Mt 4:8,9) to achieve some goal, then the "Ninth Hour"
is upon him or her. If he or she will only have the courage of St.
Peter the Betrayer, to look into the Eyes that are looking "straight
at" him or her, to look straight into those Eyes and see the
Infinitely Benign Eternal Being within them, then the power and
the wisdom of the Nonviolent Jesus will be made clear — as will
His invitation to follow Him and His Way. St. Edith Stein presents
the matter in these compelling words:

Do you see
the eyes of the Crucified looking at you with a searching gaze?
They are asking you a question: Are you, in all seriousness, ready
to enter once again into a covenant with the Crucified? What are
you going to answer?

The Nonviolent
Follower of a Nonviolent Leader

For a sincere
follower of Jesus, the question is always "Quo Vadis,
Domine?", recognizing full well that wherever Jesus
is going, whether it be Golgotha or Rome, He is going there without
the weapons of the kingdoms of the world: no swords, no guns, no
halberds, no cruelty, no enmity, no deceit, no worldly power. Unlike
the founders of other religions, He is always armed solely with
love and absolute trust in the unfailing protection of the Father
almighty, and never with carnal weapons. Only a person who is interested
in so following Jesus, and hence in undertaking the mostly unseen,
but genuinely heroic, daily martyrdom of innumerable micro-acts
of nonviolent Christ-like love toward all who cross his or her path
— friends and enemies — should have any interest in becoming a Christian
leader or a Christian or a catechumen.

Such a commitment
by a Christian demands an ongoing "burn it all to ashes, consigning
it to the winds" abandonment of a secularized, anti-Gospel
self-understanding. A secularized self-understanding has been rigorously
neurologically inscribed — cognitively and affectively — by a personal
and social history of religious as well secular legitimization over
decades of life. To turn away from it and daily pick up the cross
of nonviolent Christ-like love toward all is nothing short of dying
to self — the old self that was given to us without our consent
by one or another of the kingdoms of the world and its religious
support group(s). To follow Jesus, as Vinicius instantly realizes,
it is necessary "to make a burnt offering of everything that
had made him." As the Apostle writes:

I beg you,
in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, think of God's mercy,
my brothers and sisters, and worship Him, offering your living
bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model
yourselves on the behavior of the world around you, but let your
behavior change, modeled by your new mind. This is the only way
to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is
that God wants… (Rm 8:1–3)

This does
not mean, however, that a Christian or Christian leader is condemned
to live chronically on the edge of sadness because he or she, like
Jesus, renounces traveling down the spiritual and moral culs-de-sac
to salvation offered by the totally perishable kingdoms of the world
— culs-de-sac offered as if they were royal roads to eternal
significance and glory, e.g., the ways of violence, enmity and dominative
power. On the contrary the daily sacrifice of the old and deeply
nurtured self-understandings and value systems on the altar of agape,
on the cross of nonviolent love toward all, is made with magnanimity.
Why? Simply because it is required in order to fulfill one’s Christian
responsibility to God and to humanity, as well as, to the destiny
for which he or she was drawn out of nothingness for a time. It
is the concrete deed of Christlike love, as noted earlier, that
is the sine qua non for proclaiming the Gospel with authority
and credibility to an unbelieving and fear-ladened world of wounded
and wounding human beings. An ever more desperate humanity lives
imprisoned in what appears to it to be an irredeemably meaningless,
evil, and mortal existence. It lives in this unspeakable torment,
longing in every cell for the only good news that is really Good
News: that God is Abba, that "Jesus of Nazareth who
was crucified is risen" and that the Way of Eternal Life has
been revealed and opened for all. To proclaim this unsurpassable
Good News with Christ-like authority and credibility is how a follower
of Jesus meets his or her most cherished goal — unreserved co-operation
with Him whose supreme desire is to ensure that all who must die
"will wake as if from a dream into eternal light, and the Son
of God will shine in their night" (Jn 12:31; 1 Tm 2:4; Ti 2:11).

What a love!
What a life! What a grace to be chosen by Christ-God for such a
vocation! What a privilege to be given the opportunity to lead and
assist others in fulfilling their calling from the Holy One. What
a tragedy to mis-use, mis-direct and abuse such a gift in order
to religiously legitimatize as the Way of Jesus secular values,
powers, spirits and behaviors that are eternal dead-ends for one
and all — values, powers, spirits and behaviors that are not only
inconsistent with the Way of Jesus but that are hostile to the Way
of Jesus and His salvific mission.

Quo Vadis?

January
6, 2007

Fr.
Emmanuel Charles McCarthy is a priest of the Eastern Rite (Byzantine-Melkite)
of the Catholic Church. Formerly a lawyer and a university educator,
he is the founder and the original director of The Program for the
Study and Practice of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution at the University
of Notre Dame. He is also co-founder, along with Dorothy Day and
others of Pax Christi-USA. He has conducted retreats and spoken
at conferences throughout the world on the issue of the relationship
of faith and violence and the nonviolence of the Jesus. He was the
keynote speaker at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee for
the 25th anniversary memorial of the assassination of Rev. Martin
Luther King, Jr. there. He is author of several books, including
these: All Things Flee Thee because Thou Fleest Me: A Cry to
the Churches and their Leaders to Return to the Nonviolent Jesus
and His Nonviolent Way; Christian Just War Theory: The logic of
Deceit; August 9: The Stations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love.
He has also authored innumerable articles on the subject of violence,
religion and the nonviolent love of friends and enemies taught by
Jesus by word and deed. His audio/video series, BEHOLD THE LAMB,
is almost universally considered to be the most spiritually profound
presentation on the matter of Gospel Nonviolent Love available in
this format. BEHOLD THE LAMB is now available on
mp3CD through his website
, either at the cost of $5.00 for a
disc or it can be acquired directly by an mp3 downloaded from
the website for no cost
. Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy was
nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his life’s work on behalf
of peace within people and among people. He may be reached and his
work my be accessed at the Center
for Christian Non-Violence
.

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