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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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?"
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.
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.