Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Four Types of Mercy and my dispair

Next week I get to go to the Holy Name Society Men's Conference in Salem.  In preparation for my confession, and in an attempt to bring some organization to my despair, here is my problem with the Year of Mercy- that never got resolved, but may have a very simple solution indeed.

The problem, as I see it, is I'm educated enough to know that there are four competing definitions of mercy in this world, that they are mutually exclusive, and that they can be described as four mutually incompatible religions.

  1. Unitarian Secular Humanism- Mercy is reduction of human suffering.  By any means.  In the atheist extreme, this leads to euthanasia and abortion- killing the suffering person to reduce human suffering overall.
  2. Hindu Karma- Human suffering is caused by needing to learn a lesson, so the most merciful action is to allow the lesson to continue and do nothing.  Eventually, the soul will start to learn (in this life or 10,000 lives down the road) how to avoid suffering.
  3. Buddhist Matrix Dharma- Human suffering is an illusion of expectation caused by the ultimate illusion of existence itself.  Mercy is helping the suffering soul realize this.
  4. Catholicism- Human suffering is the necessary evil needed to spur the righteous man to use one of the Spiritual or Corporal works of Mercy to help relieve the suffering.  Relief of the suffering comes from either Corporal reduction of Physical suffering (even after death, burying the dead in hopes of resurrection is a corporal reduction of potential physical suffering) or Spiritual Reduction of Spiritual Suffering, by bringing the expectations of the soul in line with reality.
The issue arises with certain items like the current Divorce and Remarriage debate, which looks an awfully lot like a choice between 1, 2, and 4:

  1. Marriage is dissoluble, and so an intolerable marriage should be given Divorce (euthanasia).
  2. Marriage is indissoluble, and we have been given an intolerable marriage because there is something we need to learn.
  3. Not being argued in the current debate, but it would be the Marriage is no longer a Sacrament and is illusory anyway, so why worry?
  4. Marriage is indissoluble, and with confession and the processes already available in the Church, can remain so while reducing some of the human suffering.
The trouble is, I'm having problems knowing the difference between accompaniment and enabling.  When does 4 devolve into 3,2, or 1?  At what level is the temptation there for a busy priest to just give absolution to everybody, or worse yet, be extremely harsh with everybody?

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Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
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