Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gloria

Marvelous in the skies above
Amidst the darkness of the night,
Resplendent with fire of His love,
Inspired by His heavenly light,
Angels announce the newborn King

Greatly trembling, the shepherds fear
As the heavens above are filled
By the angels whose song they hear
Before being calmed by such goodwill
Yet so heard in the words that ring

Dare we too join in the praise
Offered by the angels to Christ
As the Child in the manger lays
(Not scorning the Pearl of great price),
Ent'ring the song which they do sing

[Very rarely do I write poetry since, as you can see, I am not a poet.]

Friday, April 4, 2014

This afternoon I was re-reading a dialogue I had with an atheist friend of mine from a few years ago (in October 2008), and I have decided to extract part of it for a post. The dialogue itself was something which I think I would have been much better prepared for today than I was back then, due to various factors (not the least of which being that I read a lot more philosophy in the form of good books, posts, and comments by people such as Edward Feser and Mike Flynn , that would have been greatly helpful to me if I had known about them then.) As I made sure to emphasize at the time to my friend, I wasn't exactly prepared for a dialogue on atheism at that point. (I still don't have really any experience in such dialogues, for that matter, and hence cannot state I am exactly prepared now).

Yet the reason I am making this post is because there are some areas in which I was able to formulate my thoughts even then on some things that are of a more general nature than the specific topic of atheism itself. The following is one such example. While the immediate circumstances for the words that follow, as can be clearly seen, were from a criticism of religion he made from an atheistic perspective, in it I explain my own views in such a way that it would also address some criticisms that are also made by non-Catholic Christians against a Catholic perspective of how it is legitimate to take the various good aspects of non-Christian cultures, and bring them into a Christian context, as Aquinas did with Aristotle (while, of course, rejecting any error that is associated with them.) Again, since I was addressing them to an atheist friend, the way I explained it is not the same approach I would take to a non-Catholic Christian, but since some of the areas of criticism between an atheist and such a non-Catholic Christian would overlap, I have included it below:

Anyway, here is the extract, which I have not touched at all (except for replacing my friend's name with dashes in two spots).

Monday, February 24, 2014

Just came across another old writing of mine, an argumentative essay which I had to write for a writing class in May 2009...I have decided to include an extract here (from the much larger paper), since it gives my thoughts on a common fundamentalist interpretation of Acts 17:11, and I would like to have it online, so I can easily reference it if I need to do so. (I have slightly tweaked some sections, as well as included a short expansion, trying to make it more suitable as a blog post, but the substance is the same as I wrote back then). I know it definitely needs some revision, so as to express my thoughts clearer (and thereby strengthen the arguments), which I may get to at some point. Moreover, in imitation of the apostle Paul, it contains many run-on sentences! But for now, here it is:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Beauty and the Beast

I just came across an essay I had to write for an online summer college course in 2010 that I have decided to include here. Basically, I had to write an essay on a fairy tale (my choice), but answering specific questions found in the textbook. Between the latter qualification which placed limits on what I could write, and the fact that I had to do it in a single day, it is perhaps not as good as it could be otherwise, but it's still something I've decided it would still be valuable (for me at least) to include here:

A Fairy Tale Essay

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My conversion story

Just transferring my conversion story over to my writings blog from another blog. (When I wrote this originally, it was mainly for myself, so that I wouldn't forget any of the details of my conversion that I could remember; hence, a lot of the details are things that probably most people wouldn't care about. I did indeed try to "revise" when I had posted it on the original blog to make it more fit for public reading, but still....)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sacrament of Confession

[Here is another extract from an email I wrote to a non-Catholic friend in June 2011, this time concerning the sacrament of confession]

As for my thoughts on confession in general, I do agree with the practice. Perhaps before I explain why, it might be a good idea for me to explain a little more about Catholic beliefs concerning confession itself, however. (I realize that there are many who have misconceptions about Catholic beliefs in this matter, including myself before I became a Catholic. Perhaps you do not, but just in case...) One misconception many non-Catholics have, for example, is thinking that Catholics believe in “confessing one’s sins to a man instead of to God.” Naturally, therefore, they reject the practice since, as they very truly point out, a priest is a fellow sinner, and only God can forgive sins. That is all absolutely true, and a Catholic would agree completely with it. But that would be to misunderstand what Catholics believe actually occurs in confession. Rather, a Catholic believes that in confession, he confesses to God through the instrumentality of a priest, and that God in turn forgives him through the instrumentality of a priest. The priest is simply the "flesh", so to speak, that Jesus Christ employs, as He exercises His eternal priesthood in reconciling us to His Father. It is Christ acting through the priest (working through the Holy Spirit) who reconciles us to his Father, just as it was God acting through the apostle Peter, for instance, when Peter worked miracles. In one sense one could say that Peter worked miracles. But he did so only in the sense that God worked through him (cf. Acts 3:12-13). The same is true when a priest "forgives" sins. It is only in the sense that Christ works through him. Just as the only way a man can perform miracles is by God working through him, the same is true when it comes to forgiving sins. (Moreover, while one hopes that the priest is, by the grace of God, a holy man, still, it matters not whether the priest personally is himself a very great sinner even. After all, it is the Second Person of the Trinity that is really forgiving sin, no matter through whom he acts. And God can act through anyone, even if he be such a corrupt man as Balaam or Caiaphas. cf. Nm 22-24; Jn 11:49-52)

Whether or not Catholics are right in believing that God so works through priests, of course, is another matter, something I hope to touch on in a minute. At the moment, however, I simply wish to point out that such a belief (whether right or wrong) is nevertheless quite different from a futile attempt to try to obtain forgiveness from a fellow sinner, as if the priest could, by his own authority, grant such forgiveness. (Rather, he stands in need of forgiveness just as much himself!)

So why do Catholics believe that priests have such authority to forgive sins? (again, only in the sense that God works through them)? The short answer is because Christ granted unto his Apostles the authority to forgive sins, as an essential part of their mission. We read in the Gospel of John, that Jesus appeared to his Apostles on the evening of that first Easter and gave them the power to forgive sins.
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whoseover sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whoseover sins ye retain, they are retained.”
(John 20:19-23, KJV)
As we see from the above passage of Holy Scripture, Jesus sends his Apostles on a mission, just as He himself had been sent by His Father. Included in this mission is forgiving (or, as the case may be, retaining) sins. Naturally, precisely because the Apostles were simply men, they could not forgive sins by their own power. Only God has the ability to forgive sins. But just as only God can work miracles, yet employ men as his instruments in doing so by Himself working through them, the same is true when it comes to the forgiveness of sins. That is why Christ breathes on them first, and gives unto them the Holy Spirit, so that, working by the power of the Holy Spirit, they would have the ability to accomplish the mission He gave them, being the instruments Christ uses on earth in the exercise of His eternal priesthood in heaven (the latter described in the book of Hebrews). What Paul wrote in another (admittedly different) context would nevertheless apply to this Gospel passage as well:
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
(2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
(Like I said, Paul was writing in a different context. For the present, however, it is enough to note a certain parallel between the two passages, since in both passages it shows how God reaches out to us through human agents.)

Of course, for the Apostles (and in consequence their successors, and all to whom such authority was delegated) to be able to know which sins to "remit" and which to "retain", they would need to know the sins and the relevant circumstances, and most of all whether the one seeking forgiveness was truly repentant of all his sins. (After all, it is quite easy to say that we are "sorry" when speaking in a general way about our sins, and yet when it comes to specific sins, not necessarily be sorry for those in particular. Yet repentance for any sin is necessary for it to be forgiven, of course.) Since God did not also grant the power of reading the minds of others to priests, naturally this implies the necessity of one to confess their sins in particular (not giving great detail; just the number and type, with only enough detail as is necessary) and express sorrow for them for a priest to make this decision. As you can imagine, it is only on the rarest of occasions that a priest would "retain" sins, and that only if it seems manifest that the person is not truly repentant. That very rarely occurs (since most people who would take all the trouble to confess a sin are not likely to do it unless they are repentant), but it has happened before, say, if a person confesses a sin, and then engages in trying to rationalize it away, and they are only rationalizations and nothing more. The normal course, however, is that if a priest is going to err, he is going to err on the side of assuming that the person is truly repentant, and not the other way. (Needless to say, if a priest, for whatever reason, "remits" sins to someone who is not repentant, or in very rare cases "retains" sins to someone who is truly repentant, God is not deceived. It is primarily God the sinner is confessing to, and He will forgive or retain accordingly, even if the one confessing may need to try to rectify the situation still.)

Of course, the problem of sin is one that afflicts every generation, and forgiveness of sins is something that people of every generation need. Christ died on the cross since we are all sinners, of course, and not just the people in the Apostle’s time, and in the areas that they themselves visited. Consequently, the Apostles both delegated such authority to others as well as passed on such authority to future generations. Hence, why we see that from the earliest ages of Christianity, people availed themselves of the sacrament of confession.

Now, does that mean that confession is the only way one can obtain forgiveness of sins? No, not at all. First, of course, we all commit venial (lesser) sins all the time. It would be impossible to confess all of those in particular. So for venial sins, confessing to God through regular prayer and receiving forgiveness by such means is sufficient. Rather, for the sacrament of confession, one need only confess their mortal sins (such as I described above), though confessing some venial sins, even those already forgiven, is good as well. Certainly, quite apart from the practical necessity, it is also a reasonable interpretation of Jesus' words in John 20 to be understood as only referring to mortal sins as strictly necessary to confess. In any case, the words were recorded by the Apostle John in the context of a Church that interpreted them in that manner, and has continued to do so through all of church history.

Moreover, even for mortal sins, the Church has always understood that going to confession is only a normative necessity, not an absolute necessity, in order to receive forgiveness. For instance, if someone is about to die, but is not able to go to confession, then if they have perfect contrition (i.e., sorrow for sins, not only because of fear of punishment, but out of a supernatural love for God, knowing that such sins offend Him), then God will forgive them. God obliges no one to the impossible. It is true repentance that he seeks most of all, after all. (In fact, that is the case for Catholics in any circumstances, not just when in danger of death: Whenever a Catholic has perfect contrition, he is forgiven of all sins, even mortal sins, though it should be pointed out that such contrition implies the will to do whatever God wills the person to do, including going to the sacrament of confession as soon as possible.)

The same thing would, of course, also apply to a non-Catholic. Non-Catholics, in general, are innocently unaware or, at the least, honestly unconvinced, of the necessity of the sacrament of confession, through no fault of their own. So obviously they do not go to confession. Yet that does not mean they cannot have perfect contrition for their sins. Obviously, since that is what God looks for most of all, then if they do have such perfect contrition, He forgives their sins anyway, since they are in invincible ignorance of the necessity of confession. In short, the sacrament of confession, while normative, is nevertheless not the only way to receive forgiveness even of mortal sins. (After all, the sacrament of confession was made for man, and not man for the sacrament of confession).

As to why Jesus instituted the sacrament of confession, that is a matter of speculation. For a Catholic, the very fact that He did so is sufficient for us to go, even if we understood not at all the reasons. He's God, so I think it's safe to say He knew what he was doing. Yet there are some very practical reasons one can think of as to why it is so valuable. First, one I mentioned earlier: that in private prayer it is easy to rationalize sins away, obviously something that can be prevented when confessing to a priest. Second, hearing the words of God’s forgiveness in an audible manner is such a blessing, knowing that we *are* forgiven, in spite of what we may "feel" or "not feel" as the case may be. Our human nature was created by God in such a way that such a concrete form (an "Incarnational" form, one could say) is very helpful. Third, the priest is able to give us much practical advice on how to combat such temptations to sin in the future. (And, precisely because he is in a more objective position to give such advice, it is so often things we would have never thought of). I am sure that there are many other reasons why Jesus instituted the sacrament of confession, but those are some good ones from off the top of my head. :-)

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts on the sacrament of confession. I apologize for the length, but as I went along, I decided that if I were going to write on this topic anyway, I might as well explain (as well as express my own thoughts) on different aspects of the topic. lol. :-)

I realize you might not agree with most of what I wrote above, and I understand. :-). As I said, I am only giving my own thoughts on the topic since you asked. (Incidentally, I would also just point out that it is, of course, not only Catholics that practice confession. Basically, all Christian groups except Protestants do, such as the Orthodox, Copts, etc. And, indeed, even some Protestants do- C.S. Lewis, for example, went to confession to an Anglican priest. So it is not a distinctively Catholic practice, in other words).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Purgatory

[This is an excerpt of an email I wrote to a non-Catholic friend in June 2011 concerning purgatory, which I wish to include on this blog]

As for the second issue that you raised, that of purgatory, I also agree with that teaching. Indeed, so would most Protestants I have come across for that matter (at least the main part of the doctrine, at least), albeit without realizing it. Again, however, I have generally discovered that it is best to make sure that any misunderstandings are cleared up before proceeding. Of course, I do not know to what extent you understand Catholic teaching on purgatory, so I may very well be repeating some things you already know. But I have discussed this issue with others before who had erroneous ideas about what Catholics actually believe in this area, and on the basis of those mistaken ideas they objected to it. (And if their ideas had been accurate, they would have been quite right to object, since what they were in fact objecting to was clearly wrong. But then again, what they were objecting to is not what Catholics actually believe, though).

Thus, for instance, some people believe that Catholics teach purgatory is some sort of “second chance” at heaven, as if it were the case that if you had not been saved by the time you died, you would have another opportunity after death. Needless to say, that contradicts Hebrews 9:27: “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” But “a second chance after death” is not Catholic teaching concerning purgatory. Once you have died, your eternal destiny is sealed. You are going to spend eternity in heaven or hell, and there is no changing which once you have died. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for instance, states (#1021): “Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.” Purgatory is only for those who *have* accepted the grace of Christ in this life, or, to use the words the Catechism uses in #1030 concerning purgatory, for those “indeed assured of their eternal salvation.”

Again, some people are under the mistaken impression that Catholics believe purgatory is somehow something supposedly “added” to the finished work of Christ, as if the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was somehow insufficient, and that therefore we have to “make up” for it, in order to be saved. Needless to say, such a claim, were it actually made, would be totally repugnant to any believing Christian. Not to mention complete nonsense. (After all, if someone were foolish enough to believe that Christ’s sacrifice was deficient, then who are we to believe we can succeed where the Son of God himself “failed”? Obviously, then, such an idea is wrong.) Rather, as the Apostle John reminds us: “…he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2). Christ’s sacrifice was more than sufficient. In short, there is nothing we need to do, as if Christ’s sacrifice were somehow “deficient”. And the doctrine of purgatory does not, in fact, concern any futile attempts to pretend otherwise. Rather, it is concerned with something completely different.

So if that is not what purgatory is, then what is it exactly? Put in the simplest form, it is the final stage of sanctification. Let me explain a little more. (And again, as I go through this answer, I will probably be repeating many things you already know. Please bear with me.)

As we know, when we first come to Christ, we are indeed forgiven of all the sins from our past, and enter a new relationship with God as His children, all due to His grace, and not due to any good works we have done. Yet even after we have come to Christ, we struggle with sin. Concupiscence (i.e. disordered desires and inclination to sin) are still very much part of our nature. Paul indeed describes such a state in great detail in Romans 7, but, needless to say, any Christian could state the same thing from their own experience. Indeed, while we may will to follow Christ and repent from sin, we are still often attached to sin. Involuntarily, perhaps, but it still is there. That is, indeed, a way in which we are tempted. We are not simply tempted from without (as Christ was by the devil), but also tempted from within, by concupiscence. If we did not have some residual attachment to sin, then obviously such temptations would not be a struggle for us in any manner. But I very much doubt any Christian would claim that they do not have to struggle against temptations. In other words, after coming to Christ, our sins are indeed forgiven at that point. But our battle with sin still continues. And, sadly, sometimes we lose such battles and actually sin. We are not completely holy.

Of course, to the extent we do struggle against such involuntary inclinations, then there is no actual sin present. (Sin only occurs when we yield to temptation). But while there is no actual sin, there *is* still imperfection. We are still not yet completely sanctified, in other words, so as to possess that “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). Indeed, notice that verse that I just quoted. Paul was, of course, writing to people who were already Christians. And yet he tells them to struggle for “holiness”, a holiness that is in fact necessary to see God, and yet which they do not possess simply because they have entered a relationship with Christ. Basically, Paul indicates that even after entering a relationship with Christ, we have not yet been completely sanctified, so as to possess such holiness as he describes. From that verse, it would appear that sanctification is not a one time event, but rather a process that is ongoing. And this fits in well with what we see from other verses of Scripture. While Scripture indicates that in one sense sanctification is something that occurred in the past (e.g., 1 Co 6:11), it also presents it as something that continues even in the present (for instance: 1 Th 4:3; 5:23, etc.)

It goes without saying, of course, that this sanctification, of “growing in holiness”, until we reach the point we possess the complete holiness necessary to enter heaven (a holiness which we do not possess by the mere fact of being Christians, as Paul indicates in Hebrews) is itself all due to the work of Christ. Without the grace merited for us by the shed blood of Christ on the cross, we would not be able to grow in holiness, since there is nothing that we can do good of ourselves. It is only the grace of God working in us that is responsible for bringing about such growth in holiness, just as it is only the grace of God by which we are able to perform good works. Since I'm sure any Christian would readily acknowledge the above, however, I will not spend too much time on that.

So, we see from Scripture that we need to be completely sanctified in order to enter heaven. Again, Paul indicates that Christians need to (through the grace of God) continue pursuing after holiness, so as to see God. And the book of Revelation certainly presents the “New Jerusalem” as a place in which nothing impure shall enter (cf. Rv 21:27). Which presents a question: if you were to die this very moment (God forbid) and find yourself at the judgment, would you be able to say, not simply that you were completely forgiven of all your sins, as is to be hoped, but *also* that you were completely pure, free from all inordinate desires and attachment to sin, and in a state of complete and utter holiness? Well, while any Christian would hopefully be able to say that all of their sins were forgiven, and so they would be saved from Hell, I very much doubt that many Christians would be able to honestly say that they had as yet attained complete holiness, that they were “perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (cf. Mt 5:48), in other words. Yet, we know that anybody who is in heaven is (by definition) in such a state of holiness.

So if we are *not* in such a state of complete holiness at the point of death and our personal judgment, but we *are* in such a state when we enter heaven…..that means that between those two points, some type of change has occurred. (The old saying “God loves you as you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way” has a lot more truth in it than many people realize!). God by his grace, and due to the shed blood of Christ, finishes the process of sanctification. And it is this final stage of sanctification (something that most Protestants I know would accept as well) that Catholics call “purgatory”.

What does purgatory consist of? We don’t know. We know that purgatory is real and what its purpose is (it is taught implicitly in Scripture, both by the passages presented above, as well as by other passages I omitted to quote. Not to mention even most Protestants would grant the substance of the doctrine, though they do not realize that is what Catholics mean by purgatory). But as for the specifics, that is another matter. For instance, it is a common misunderstanding that Catholics teach that purgatory is a “place”. But that is not required by Catholic teaching, as Pope Benedict has noted. A Catholic can very easily believe, for instance, that purgatory is an “event” (perhaps instantaneous), the intensity of which is determined by the extent we still have to be completely sanctified. Since what purgatory consists of is not indicated in divine revelation, it is only a matter of speculation. But as to the necessity of this final stage of sanctification, that is fairly clear. (In many ways, the doctrine of purgatory is taught in Scripture in the same way the doctrine of the Trinity is.)
Now, there are a couple of other smaller aspects about Catholic teaching on purgatory that might be debated by non-Catholics, but I do not wish to get into those at the moment (this email being long enough as it is! lol.) Suffice it to say, however, that it is not only Catholics who believe in the basics about purgatory, but even most non-Catholics do, without realizing it (again, at least in my experience). Even then, some Protestants *do* realize it, though. And one prominent example of a Protestant who explicitly stated his belief in Purgatory was C.S. Lewis. Thus, he wrote in Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer:

Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, "It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and not one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy"? Should we not reply, "With submission, Sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleansed first." "It may hurt, you know."-"Even so, Sir."
 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ideology

[Probably need to work on this more to express my thoughts better, but here is a rough draft]
 
Ideology, in the negative connotation of that term, is something I do not like. In this, I am not unique, thankfully, but it is true more and more that in our polarized society, it is considered a sort of treason by some not to be a complete ideologue (even when such a position is not expressed in so many words). Take the question of whether one is in politics "conservative" or "liberal". I'll only briefly mention the fairly obvious fact that such a question is a false dichotomy. (Quite apart from the existence of moderates, of course, which is recognized, there is the much less remembered fact that such a question only makes sense in the context of a single issue, yet there are obviously more issues than one which one can ask the question about. One can be, not only "conservative", but very conservative in the context of one issue, and simultaneously be not only "liberal", but very liberal, in the context of another issue, yet be perfectly consistent and have a perfectly coherent view of life. For instance, was Dorothy Day a conservative or a liberal? And then there are some issues in which one does not even fall on the continuum, because one is approaching the question from a completely different plane. There can indeed be a general sense in which one is "conservative" or "liberal"- more on that below- but only when taking into account the preceding factors.) No, I wish to focus on the fact that it is even worse than a false dichotomy. Rather, it is a complete inability to grasp the relative importance of ends and means.

What, after all, is the purpose of politics, or, indeed, of life in general? There are many answers that can be given to that question, of course. But whatever answer one gives, how one answers that question should also determine how one approaches other subordinate questions. Generally speaking, everybody wishes to progress in the sense that everyone wishes to reach a certain goal. Progress is a journey to a destination, and how well you progress depends on how close you reach your goal. But like any other journey, there is usually not simply one direction in one's steps of approaching the goal. Even the best way of approaching it usually consist of many different turns. If I wish to go to a friend's house, for instance, and am given directions, it would be very unusual indeed to hear of directions that consist entirely of "turn right" at every single intersection, or conversely to "turn left." That would basically consist of simply going in circles and never actually arriving at his house. Similarly, in politics, to "turn right" in the sense of turning to the Right, or "turn left" in the sense of turning to the Left, on every single issue, is insane.

It seems, however, that many have made such "directions" as goals in and of themselves, and have lost complete sight of the ends that they were wishing for. They are so focused on the means, that in consequence they forget the very ends they were seeking, and indeed are willing to sacrifice the ends they originally desired if only to continue with the means! They first seek some political perspective as the means to some vision of life. But soon they will sacrifice their vision of life, if only to be a better partisan! Now if that is not insane, what is?

That does not mean, of course, that one cannot generally be described with political labels. I myself, for instance, would no doubt be considered, generally speaking, as a "conservative". There are other people who would be, generally speaking, considered as "liberal". (While I would probably disagree with them concerning the primary question of the purpose of politics or life, and consequently their policies, still, given their own first principles, and the ends they are seeking, they could be quite consistent at least). But the problem is that too many people have jettisoned their original goals, and have instead made being "conservative" or "liberal" as ends in themselves, rather than simply as means. That is the mark of an ideologue, of course. I may be conservative generally (in the context of today's society), but I am not a conservative as an end in itself. Consequently, if a "conservative" position contradicts my first principles, then I will sacrifice being a conservative, and not my first principles. Because conservatism was only a means, not a goal in itself.(That is why, for instance, even though I am conservative generally, I did not have a knee jerk reaction, as quite a few conservatives did, to Pope Francis's recent statements on economics. Note the emphasis on "knee jerk". There may have been other types of criticisms, whatever their merit or lack thereof, but that there were many ones which were simply knee jerk is indisputable.)

In short, it is good to recall what Christ reminded the Pharisees: that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Or, in other words, don't sacrifice the ends to the means.