Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Good Heretic

There were once two architects in the Baroque period that were great rivals. Their names were Bernini and Borromini. Bernini is famous for the Arms of St. Peter's Square and the Baldachino. Borromini is famous for Sant'Ivo and Sant'Agnese. Also, they each built a church on Via Quirinale.

Bernini was known for an adherence to the ideas of the Renaissance orders while Borromini liked to play a little bit. Bernini, of course like all good traditionalists, didn't like this. He once made the comment that "a bad Catholic is better than a good heretic." Although it may have been the other way around and Borromini said "a good heretic is better than a bad catholic." Either way, this opens up a lot of questions. They were talking in code about architecture, but let's think a little bit about the implications.

First of all, "good heretic" could mean a lot of things including "bad heretic". In other words, in the view of a Catholic, a good heretic is one who is least heretical thereby making him a bad heretic. In this sense, I think I would agree. It is better to fail at being a heretic than fail at being a Catholic.

But wait, a twist!

"Bad Catholic" (A blog, by the way) could also mean a Catholic who does bad things, namely a sinner. In this case, even if you were a "good" heretic meaning you were a "bad" heretic, you might still be worse off than a "bad" Catholic who at least wanted to follow the truth but failed.

Then again, bad catholic could just mean being a heretic, so it all comes full circle.

I think that Marc Barnes is on to something in his blog. All of us Catholics are "Bad Catholics" in that first sense. We are all sinners. Even the heretic! If he is a good heretic, however, what to say that he's not trying to follow God's will whether he knows it or not? What if his sins blind him but he is working on overcoming them? What if he wants to believe the truth but has not yet come to a place of receiving the gift of faith?

Being a "Good Heretic" in this way could be almost as good as being a "Bad Catholic" in the Marc Barnes sense.

And it's certainly better than being a Catholic who doesn't even try.


Joseph K @ Defend Us In Battle said...

Yeah, he is on to something :)
So are you..

I think that the degrees of difference in how we label people, or even think about ourselves are important. More important though are the aspirational goals we have and the direction we are trending.

Pope B has said that what is less important to God is how often we fall, as opposed to the important question: how often we get back up again.

Nate said...

Right, we should care if we ourselves are good or bad catholics/heretics. When we come to the conclusion, we'll realize that it's not the end. Time for conversion no matter the outcome.

Reminds me of Batman: Master Bruce, why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again!

Joseph K @ Defend Us In Battle said...

Remember that song about "Sunscreen" that was popular about 10 years ago, I want to redo it, except call it... "GET UP"

Nate said...

Forgive me my cultural un-knowledge. I was home schooled!

I think I understand your point though.