Tag Archives: Tim DeCelle

The Gospel is Peace, and we are its Peacemakers

16 Jul Tim DeCelle

“Neither are any wars so furious and bloody, or of so long a continuance, as those occasioned by difference in opinion, especially if it be in things indifferent.” – Jonathan Swift

I have struggled of late to grasp, to strain, to keep what is mysterious and transcendent. I have a bad habit of reading too much. Not too much of just anything, but too much of the dour and polemical pieces that I find too often and easily published online. Such works bring me always crashing back down to earth, back to the cold and brute facts of human ego and violence. I am, unfortunately, thinking of some Christian and Catholic writers.

Peacemakers - Tim DeCelle

Certainly, this is not true of all or even most of those writing about their faith. But a vocal minority has made dominant an oppositional, warfare style of writing. It is all doom and gloom: we are living in perilous times, we must fight the enemy. I am incessantly reminded that we are in a culture war, that we must wage war and win.

   I thought I read something in the Gospels about peacemaking?

If you are reading this, I want to assure you: YOU are not the enemy. Whatever you might read about the battle for values or a clash of cultures, I assure you that you are not the barbarian at the gates of civilization. This kind of language always attempts to draw lines between people, an attempt that falsely divides what should be united.  In fact, the only battle that we should ever speak of is the battle between good and evil, between all of humanity and the forces of darkness. We must resist the temptation to see evil as somehow incarnated in another.

We are in this together. We are made to work together, to live in peace, and to be peacemakers. We are called to transcend the petty bickering and grandstanding about the “valueless” enemy. Before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed that all would be made “one.” This is a “one” united in and through Christ.

It is not a political unity. It is not a unity about who holds what ideology. Socialists and libertarians, liberals and conservatives and everyone in between and beyond—all will be made new in Christ, and not through ideology.

We have and will still have differences of opinions, of ideals, and yes, even values. We are not to abandon truth but rather to live in the image of Jesus is to live as a peacemaker. We are not called to fight for culture but for people. We are their defenders. Through this self-gift, the actual lives and souls of people will be transformed and, from it, the whole world.
– Tim DeCelle

Faith Lives in Community

26 Oct Year of Faith - Seeking the Face of Jesus

Year of Faith - Seeking the Face of Jesus

Faith fascinates. It angers, confounds, and challenges. It is one of the least boring elements of religious life today. It is home to some of the central debates of our times regarding religion and science, the nature of knowledge, and interpersonal communication. If religion may be seen today by some as passé or irrelevant, faith certainly is in vogue.

This year we celebrate a “year of faith.” Some may perceive this as being entirely esoteric, isolated, and personal. In some respects, such a conception of faith and religion echoes the values of contemporary American individualism. Faith, it is said by some, should be a private affair that has no bearing on the larger public sphere. Americans want their faith interesting, but as a way of public life, visible to many, it becomes somewhat less appealing.

I want to suggest something about why faith in practice, as a visible representation of a world as well as local community, is precisely what such individualism needs. American individualism stresses how individuals ought to express themselves by pursuing their own goods and sense of fulfillment. It tends to stress individual difference as a cornerstone of our pluralistic society.

One of the major concerns raised here is that such an individualism loses sight of how communities both foster values within individuals, as well as create larger networks of charity and support for one another. We should not dismiss individual expression as simply a fad – its historical reality is our ongoing reality. Yet, we don’t have to embrace its present state as being fragmented and isolated. We can, in fact, form community around large acts of shared engagement.

Such shared activity could be understood as ritual, as the shared expression of a common set of beliefs and values. Religious faith, as an expressive act, is one of the most substantial examples of such engagement; because, religious faith seeks to transcend above, and not diminish, expressions of individualism.

And this expressive act finds perhaps its greatest representation on the cross. As a Catholic community, we experience this act of sacrificial, self-giving love every time we share the body and blood of Christ at Mass. We do this not just at the level of our local community, but also as an entire body of believers, across space and time. Those who live in such disparate places as the Twin Cities, Calcutta, New York, and Beijing can join together as one body, one community, and sharing and expressing their faith. In a fragmented, isolated, individual world, faith is the antidote to our private sorrows, reminding us of the network of charity to which we belong, and which ultimately belongs to the love of Christ Himself.

-Tim DeCelle