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(Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The Cook. Source)
How can we proceed to defend the official teachings of the Church against anti-Catholic persons?
Let me begin with a personal anecdote. A few years ago, I decided to defend the Church more vigorously. To take a metaphor from the boxing world, I decided to lose weight, to get up early every morning and go running, to practice my right hooks and my uppercuts, my bobbing and weaving, etc. Once I was ready, I sent out an invitation to all "anti-Catholic boxers", so they would show up in the boxing ring, in order to find out who was right.
I was never short of opponents, except these opponents never really showed up for a boxing match. They preferred to run around the ring in all directions, then go hide in the crowd, spew out a thick smoke screen, and then escape outside to go declare to all journalists that they had won the fight!
I was probably the last person not to have understood how the fight between Satan and the Church proceeds. The opponents are not well-matched, nor even grossly mismatched. The fight is inexistent.
Indeed, Satan and his troops have no strength, no good arguments, no valid reasons to convince us. How could they? God is "HE WHO IS", whereas His creatures are "they who are not". In a way, outside of God, there is nothing. If we cut ourselves off from God, we cut ourselves off from Everything. And Satan is precisely the one who cuts himself off from God and who attempts to drag others down with him.
For there to be a fight, strictly speaking, there must be real forces on both sides. So in a fight between two boxers, there are two flesh-and-blood men who really exist, two real pairs of boxing gloves, a real reward for the winner, etc.
Satan has nothing. He couldn't, for example, offer a real but different Earthly Paradise to Adam and Eve. All he could do is spew out enough lies about the apple to make Adam and Eve bite it.
It's the same thing today. Every time we commit a sin, we heed a lie told by Satan. If we are honest with ourselves, if we open our eyes and look at the consequences of our bad choices, we can see that Satan had promised a beautiful and desirable fruit, but that we ended up with a mouthful of nothing.
Think about alcoholics, adulterers, thieves. Hadn't Satan promised them a "beautiful apple" to eat? Moreover, you don't need huge sins to come to this conclusion. Just take the last time you were supposed to get up early, but instead decided to sleep in, or the last time you were supposed to stop eating, but instead decided to continue, etc.
The nature of the fight between Satan and the Church will always be "asymmetric". Satan will never be able to show up in the boxing ring, with his boxing gloves, and have a fair fight. All Satan can do is to avoid the fight more or less cunningly, and then declare that he is the Champ!
Normally, if you chicken out of a fight, you can't declare you're the winner, unless you want to be publicly ridiculed! For this trick to work, you have to deceive the spectators, you need a smoke screen. Satan generates this smoke screen by cooking up a large cauldron of Slander Soup.
(Before trying to explain the recipe of this Slander Soup, a stern warning is in order: "Anybody can cook up this recipe, including Catholics". Unfortunately, it's not because Satan is a Cordon Bleu chef, that he's the only one who's able to make Slander Soup. Keep in mind that Catholic stupidity is the root cause of all our problems.)
When Satan wants to cook up a cauldron of Slander Soup, he gathers the following ingredients:
3.1) Three cups of overwhelmness. After having categorically asserted that the Church was wrong, Satan's collaborator says he's too busy to have a debate. For example: "The Church is criminally responsible of forbidding condoms, since this causes a genocide in Africa. Uh, what? You claim that statistics prove the contrary? Sorry, but I'm double-parked! Good bye!"
3.1.1) Counterpoison #1: "If you won't take the time to listen to the Defence Attorney, shouldn't you avoid finding the time to throw accusations?"
3.1.2) Counterpoison #2: "Yes, don't waste your time with trivialities such as your eternal salvation, to the detriment of emergencies like your TV programs, your novels and your stamp collection!"
3.2) A teaspoon of disdain. Satan's collaborator asserts that he doesn't even need to get into the boxing ring, since he won the fight a long time ago. For example: "Kant has demonstrated that Saint Thomas Aquinas' proofs of God's existence were false".
Counterpoison: "Fantastic! I'm crazy about classic
boxing matches! Which DVD must I purchase to see that fight?"
Do you know where to look in Kant's many books to find his argument
against Saint Thomas? Do you know where to look in
or others to find his rebuttal to Kant?
My Dad has another way of expressing the same counterpoison. Whenever somebody rattles off some wild assertion, he just says: "Name me two!"
3.3) A half-cup of freshly pressed insult juice. Satan's collaborator claims that, despite his eminent generosity and his peerless courage, he can't get into the boxing ring, since his opponent doesn't play fairly. For example: "We can't have a debate with you since you're fundamentalists, or extremists, etc."
3.3.1) Counterpoison #1: "Is it fair-play to throw insults at people?
3.3.2) Counterpoison #2: "Praise the Lord! Finally a physician for souls who can cure me of my spiritual disease! Doctor, you're a wellspring of Science, so you'll certainly be able to clearly explain what is fundamentalism (or religious obscurantism, or rhetoric, etc)!" Almost inevitably, these people will try to escape by saying something like: "Rhetoric is what you do". Point out they're giving a circular definition, i.e. a non-definition.
3.3.3) Counterpoison #3: "Could you explain to me a good debating method?" Often, these people don't even know a single good method.
3.3.4) Counterpoison #4: "Just name your referee!" If one of the players doesn't play fairly, the referee will be able to spot it, and give him a penalty. Propose an e-mail exchange to be posted on the Internet, so the spectators can act as referees.
3.4) A finely-chopped clove of diversion. Satan's collaborator has a whole series of manoeuvers used to create diversions. The counterpoison is always the same: you have to expose the diversion and bring the debate back on topic. Here are some of the more popular diversions:
3.4.1) "Such a Pope, such a Priest has committed a serious sin, therefore Catholicism is false!" We have to distinguish between the official teachings of the Church, and the deficient behavior of some of Her members, especially since the Church teaches that She's composed of sinners, and that Popes can go to Hell just like anybody else!
3.4.2) "Such or such a theologian defended the rights of the poor (or whatever other noble ideal), and he was condemned by the Church!" We have to find the actual reason for the condemnation. For example, if a bank robber also takes care of poor abandoned kittens, we mustn't accuse the police of being "anti-kitten" when they throw this criminal in jail for bank robbery!
3.5) Two big overripe contradictory statements. Since Satan's position is essentially illogical, he often inspires his collaborators to attack reason itself. If Logic is "illogical", or anyway if our reason cannot attain truth, then Satan can rebuke all Catholic counter-attacks to his lies. For example: "Classification into rigid categories is often useful, but there are levels of comprehension that are beyond true and false".
3.5.1) Counterpoison #1: "In what tree are you, if you sawed off the branch of reason you were sitting on?" As Aristotle noted thousands of years ago, if we reject the principle of non-contradiction, we cannot assert anything.
3.5.2) Counterpoison #2: "Let's get together and make a list of all the synonyms you use for «true» and «false»" People who claim to be «beyond true and false» will inevitably contradict themselves, and to try to hide their contradiction, they'll use synonyms or periphrases to camouflage their use of keywords such as "true, false, good, bad", etc.
3.6) One little but well-greased jumping bean. Satan really loves this ingredient! This little jumping bean first spurts out a lie. So you do the research, gather the data, assemble the proof, and refute his lie. So he quickly jumps to another lie! So once again you do more research, gather more data, assemble another proof, and refute him again. But he again jumps to another lie! If you try to grab him by saying he's jumping around instead of answering your rebuttal, his skin (well-greased with numbers 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc.) let's him squirt out. If you try to say you can't catch him because his skin is well-greased, he accuses you of being nasty because you're trying to catch him, whereas he's a nice guy who never tries to catch anyone! If you reply that he's the jumping bean who first spurted out a lie against the Church, he'll accuse you of being dishonest because you call him a liar! (And so on, without end...)
3.6.1) Counterpoison #1: Some "anti-greasy-skin" counterpoisons listed above help a bit, especially 3.3.4.
3.6.2) Counterpoison #2: An well-armed Templar. In the worst cases, it's practically impossible to argue with a profoundly wicked and duplicitous person. You need to arrest him, take him to court (where an honest and intelligent judge can detect and reject all his lies and manipulations), then jail him so he will stop harming society.
"What is the best way of fighting against Satan and his Slander Soup?" To the surprise of some people, I'd say it's frequent Confessions. "Come on, you've got to be kidding! The best way to pummel the living daylights out of your opponent in a boxing match would be to kneel down more often in a confessional?" Yes, Sir.
Remember this whole boxing match business is a metaphor. In fact, as soon as we step into the boxing ring and stand our ground, Satan runs away! [Jc 4:7] The hardest part is getting off our backside and stepping onto the ring! Fear and discouragement are our main enemies. Once we've improved our interior life (among others with more frequent Confessions), all we need is a good source of information on the Catholic Faith, a good method to develop our capacity for critical thinking, and a few antidotes to Slander Soup!
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