Getting God Wrong

Fr. Chris Pietraszko: Are You Ascribing to a Stupid Way of ThinkingA

by Fr. Chris Pietraszko

Fr. Chris Pietraszko

One thing I have been trying to do in my Apologetics course is to link our Catholic Spirituality to various doctrinal truths of the Faith. It is very important for us not only to know God’s law, who He is, and what He has done for us, but we need to also be able to apply such truths to our own lives.

Getting God Wrong #1

I believe that one of the reasons we fail to propagate the faith to others is resulting from the appearance of dry-adherence to a moral-law. Pope Benedict XVI called this “moralism.” Moralism essentially removes the essential characteristic of “relationship” we are to have with God and our neighbour.

A morality is and ought to be predicated of the relationship we have with God. That is to say that just because you follow the moral law, does not mean you have a good relationship with God. Likewise it also says, if you do not follow the moral law (especially in grave matters) you most certainly do not have a good relationship with God.

Rather the motivating force must both be extrinsic and intrinsic when discerning the moral law in our own life. We must seek to have a good relationship with Christ “in” the very act of doing what is right, rather than “by” the very act.

Getting God Wrong #2

For instance, if a Catholic does not “internalize” the moral law, it merely becomes a hoop by which they jump through in order to de-facto (in their own mind) love God. But this is legalism. The alternative is to say, “It doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I have some sort of ideal in my mind about God, I love Him.” This is lawlessness.

The middle position is also the narrow position, it is difficult. We must not only abide by the law itself, but we must internalize it. We must love God’s law, and to see how “in” the act, we are directly choosing God and Neighbour.

For instance, a couple who practices the Church’s teaching on contraception by not contracepting, they do well. But if they internalize this matter, they do very well, because they refuse to ever diminish the nature of their spouse by compartmentalizing an intrinsic dimension to their nature as a male and female. Man and woman have the capacity to procreate, and it is through this “identifying dimension” that man can truly love woman for all that she is, rather than rejecting a part of her nature as if it were a problem.

I believe that theologians who have not internalized the moral law may foster a legalistic or lawless approach to this particular infallible truth of the Church, as explained by Pope Paul VI.

Getting God Wrong #3

The particular approach I’d like to deny and condemn directly is a Kantian approach to morality. In an unnamed place, there was a priest who had communicated to his brother priests that it was morally praiseworthy to give a family who had practiced NFP an “exception” to use contraceptives since they had already fulfilled a significant quota of 9 children.

Kantian Ethics therefore judges whether an act is good or evil, “by the act itself” rather than “in the act itself.” In other words, he is looking for a consistency in the person’s life, like virtue, whereby they practice what is good on a regular basis out of duty.

Kantian Ethics can also be called deontological ethics. In this way, Kant does not indicate that there is anything intrinsically wrong with the act itself. All that should be discerned is the outer-shell of the act and how often it occurs.

But most of us would never ascribe to such a stupid way of thinking. For instance, if a man were to kill someone, he would not plead with the Jury and Judge by saying, “But I don’t normally do this, I deserve an exception to the rule, because I am not really a killer.” For such a person to suggest this as a defense would have failed to internalize the irreparable damage he has caused society and the said victim.

Likewise, “in” every act of contraception there is a rejection of God’s masterful design and path towards goodness and a rejection of the spouse in an essential matter. Without this internalization of the moral law, we therefore lose sight of the Master’s Sermon on the Mount, whereby he not only calls us to follow the law, but to internalize it. If one internalizes the moral law on contraception, they realize that every act of contraception is a (possibly latent) hatred for who the other is as male and female. Therefore there could never be any “exception” to something so intrinsically evil.


Headlines were edited.

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7 comments to Getting God Wrong

  • Justavoice

    This was meant for “Momofeight”…

  • Reggie

    The root of the problem is that a substantial percentage of American Catholics don’t agree with the Church on this issue. I believe that inability to agree with Church authorities in this issue stems from the fact that many Catholics believe Church leaders who are trying to “sell” this no-contraception policy are simply a bunch of old never- married men i.e. bachelors who many believe lack the requisite credibility, sensitivity, and knowledge to be pontificating on matters of sexuality and marriage. This is not something that orthodox Catholics want to hear, but there is a lot of truth in it and it’s going be very difficult to turn things around.

  • tg

    Momofeight, I will pray for you. I’m an old sinner who contracepted and repented. However, deep in my heart, I’m kind of glad I’m old and post menopausal. I think back that if I had my reconversion when I was young, what would I have done? I really didn’t want to have a lot of kids due to my impatience. (I only had the usual two.) I’ve read that the church teaches “responsible parenthood” but don’t know much about it. There’s controversy over some remarks that Pope Francis made (again) and the term ” responisble parenthood” is out there. You may want to read about it. I really feel for you. May God bless you and help you and your family.

  • Momofreight, I will pray for you as you struggle to follow Christ during this difficult time.

  • Momofeight

    My husband I have eight children ages 17 down to 8mths. I have some medical female issues in relation to pregnancies. But these are more like a handicap rather than deadly for me. We have a nice home, two cars, and we aren’t starving. But we are uninsured at this time. But we aren’t homeless or destitute. I get very overwhelmed and stressed out by the responsibilities and pressures of raising hood, virtuous children in this evil corrupted culture. It is exhausting. We are constantly swimming upstream, going against the tide and standing alone. It’s hard on our kids too. We know that that is what is best. We attend TLM and go to confession almost twice a month. But I struggle with nfp. In fact, I hate it. I know that we have fallen victim to this type of kantian thinking too. We say we are faithful Catholics so…..and so we have often manipulated intimate moments in fertile times to avoid life! We confess this mortal sin. But time and time again when that fertile time comes and it’s time to abstain we find it difficult. And if that weren’t bad enough, I wonder if we should be abstaining at all? Do we have a legitimate, serious, grave reason to avoid life? My heart says no, not really. But another baby at 41 with 8 others to raise is quite a challenge and frankly it is difficult! There is never anyone to talk to and most people just pat you on the back, tell you what a great catholic you are, and then potentially confirm you in your sin/selfishness. It is so hard to discern these things. I pray Jesus will be merciful to me as I continue to lean toward shutting that door to more babies because I am tired and worn out.

    • Stella

      Basically, you have to think and pray this issue through. If your sincerely believe that contraception is wrong, you must not go down that path. On the other hand,if after after prayer and thought you come to another conclusion you should consider another path. Remember, God at the very least permitted contraceptive methods.

    • Justavoice

      I’m probably not telling you anything you’ve not heard or read but I was so moved by your comment I felt compelled to tell you that the Good God Who created you loves you perfectly. He is with you and holds you in the palm of His hand. He loves you when you say to Him with a contrite heart that you are sorry. He knows you will fall again, that’s our nature. But He can “make all things new”.

      He knows you are tired and worn out, as He was tired and worn out when He chose the struggle to save us. He loves you when you fall, (remember He fell three times and had to be helped). The following suggestions may take a while to embrace, but like exercise after a while it gets easier and it does change your life.

      Praise God that He has granted you a heart that desires to love Him. Praise Him that you believe that He loves you in spite of your failings. Praise Him for the faith that allows you to look past the temporal. Praise Him for the husband that loves you enough to share this life with you. Praise him for those beautiful children he has granted you. Praise Him for the difficulty, (yes, even the difficulty) of raising those beautiful children,(remember they are first His children surrender them to Him when things get rough). Praise Him for this increasingly difficult struggle and ask the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to make the choice God desires for you. Praise Him that He is allowing you to participate in his saving work.

      Praise Him that you are being given the grace to realize you are in the front lines in the war against marriage and the family. Thank Him for Holy Mother Church and the sacraments and ask that they strengthen you to continue the battle.

      Daily place your heart in the heart of Our Blessed Mother and ask her for her heart. Ask her to gently guide you to the foot of her Son. Ask for her intercession and for the grace to accept the true peace and joy God wants you to have in this life so that your joy will attract others to accept life if it be His Will. Praise Him in all things, even when you are worn out, that is the hardest part, but that too will eventually lighten the load. May God bless you, you are in my prayers.

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