The most irritating thing that I came across on the internet was a friend posting this t-shirt on Facebook.
I don't want to analyze why it is wrong and the one possible right interpretation of it. I want to address my rather exaggerated reference to it as 'cowardly.' Aren't I going a bit too far there?
I want to talk about how we get in the way of God's work. We do this in a million ways. I might do it, for instance, through preferring profit to the cultural evangelization I try to do. I might do it by trying to appear as a good Catholic because it makes me feel good about myself, I want others to think well of me, and give me social or economic preferment. As an intellectual I may do it: to sell books, to get a good professorship, to gain distinctions, or simply because I want others to think of me as smart and as holy, someone important.
One particularly pernicious part of this today lies in wanting others to see how easy-going we are, open-minded, tolerant and all that. It's the whole 'who am to judge' stick. I don't mind who gets married type of thing. How big of you! You are so generous about something that doesn't effect your life in any immediate sense at all!
It's all about 'seeming' these days. Even good Catholics can fall into this. They might mention how many non-Catholic friends they have, how nice they are to those gay people, and all that. The fact that you have no negative feelings about people who's lives don't impact your own at all doesn't make you virtuous; the opposite would be insanity! It's not good enough to not be insane. The only thing tolerance of evil reveals is the you don't understand why it's bad. Tolerance of evil just means you aren't very smart, or at least very thoughtful. But extroverts can't help themselves. lol.
The old adage "preach the Gospel, use words if necessary" is overdone because it too easily fits into the soft touch evangelization that lets you off too easily, preserving your open-minded image.
So here's a thought: stop worrying about your self: you are not part of the Gospel message.
So if someone gets angry with me because of something I write, what do I care? Either they are ready for the Gospel or not. The only thing I have to worry about is how accurate I was. I don't want to hurt people - I never set out to do that - but it is equally important that I do not try to ingratiate myself. Priests and bishops are very susceptible to this. It's hard being a party-pooper bishop all the time, so it's understandable that they would feel tempted like this. Like smiley Cardinal-bishop of New York not 'having a problem with' the final demise of the Catholic St. Patrick's Day Parade. It's so important to look nice. Catholics are always saying win people over with kindness and a good image. I say no, don't do that. It's too hazardous for you. It's too hazardous to your salvation and your growth in holiness.
Here's a thought: when did it become a part of Christian discipleship for Christians to have policies of their own? "I don't have a problem with..." I don't recall the apostles speaking that way. Or the Fathers and Doctors. What you do or do not have a problem with is irrelevant. Christians are disciples of Christ, messengers, ambassadors. My life is Christ.
I have no idea what the context was, but I recently read that when Pope Benedict made his famous Regensburg Address, a certain cardinal said that the speech didn't reflect his personal view. Unless the context radically adjusts things, such a statement exemplifies everything I am talking about. First of all, a Cardinal is the pope's assistant, second, as a Christian, he is Christ's messenger - so who cares about his opinion as his opinion? - third, Ratzinger is the world greatest expert on Catholicism, so from a purely human perspective it was temerarious to say the least to call his interpretation into question.
So just come out and say stuff! So few people are willing to put themselves on the line for Christ. It's much easier to be quiet, isn't it? But you only get one life. Join the stream of those who have lost their jobs and their businesses for Christ - this is the glorious army of white-robbed martyrs today!