Today I read Sam Gregg’s great piece at American Spectator today wherein he unloaded on sentimentalism. HERE
Despite its claims to take the mind seriously, sentimental humanitarianism is also rather “uncomfortable” (to use classic sentimental humanitarian language) with any substantive understanding of reason. It tends to reduce most debates to exchanges of feelings. You know you’re dealing with a sentimental humanitarian whenever someone responds to arguments with expressions such as “Well, I just feel…” or “You can’t say that,” or (the ultimate trump-card) “That’s hurtful.”
This is a good reminder for you who will pay attention to the lead up to the Synod on the Family in October. It is expected that there will be a debate about Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. On one side we will see those who defend doctrine, going back to the Christ’s words in the Gospel and St. Paul’s teaching. On the other we will see those who make strong appeals to mercy and suggest in vague ways that doctrine that has been clear since the beginning is somehow subject to change, if only we can apply the right hermeneutic (interpretive lens). This later group will accuse the former of conducting a war on mercy: “You haven’t looked into the eyes of a divorcee who is remarried and seen the anguish. You are against mercy! You are mean!” The “You are mean!” Argument™ was given a test run over at Fishwrap recently, in one of several loooong rambling posts by Michael Sean Winters.
A while back I posted my own little rant about divorce, remarriage and Communion. HERE In this little rant I wrote:
People make mistakes. We are not angels. People sin. People suffer. That doesn’t mean we lie to them about what sin is and what their state is. No. We tell them the truth and then, with great concern and compassion, help them with clear teaching, a strong and certain Catholic identity, the sacraments Christ gave us as the ordinary means of our salvation, and encouragement.
We sinners move forward, up the hard, rocky, thorny, path and we refuse the smooth, broad and seemingly easier path down to Hell.
You know what? Not everything can be “fixed”.
These days we expect everything to be fixable, to have a solution. There must be some way to get around problems, some cure, some repair, some slight-of-hand.
No. Not everything can be fixed. Some of the mistakes we make in life can’t be fixed. We must deal with the consequences of our choices, seeing them clearly for what they are and not living in a state of denial, or in some fantasy realm in which there are no true consequences for our actions.
Don’t get me wrong. If there are good solutions to the problems that some couples get into that are consistent with what Christ and the Apostles taught and handed down, and which have been constantly reaffirmed in the whole course of the Church’s history, GREAT! Let’s use them. However, the life of grace, even in suffering, for the sake of happiness in heaven by far outweighs the short-term “fixes” of this life that could actually be spiritually dangerous.
It is not “sentimentality” to be concerned about the well-being of people who are in tough situations. It is, however, a really bad plan to create “fixes” out of sentimentality that will, in the long run, do harm.