Catholicism and the Moral Struggle of Contemporary Life: Gratitude versus Entitlement
Catholicism and the Moral Struggle of Contemporary Life: Gratitude versus Entitlement
By Joseph Andrew Settanni
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – Cicero, Pro Plancio
“Learn, too, to be grateful. May all the wealth of Christ’s inspiration have its shrine among you; now you will have instruction and advice for one another, full of wisdom, now there will be psalms, and hymns, and spiritual music, as you sing with gratitude in your hearts to God. Whatever you are about, in word and action alike, invoke always the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, offering your thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:16-17
Ultimately, though it is granted that variously different words may be so used, there are just two basic attitudes toward life; one leads to the Christian view that is most concentrated within orthodox Roman Catholicism, the other veers inevitably toward either varieties of neopaganism for most people or just outright secularism for some others. How is this to be here posited?
Catholicism is the most radical faith imaginable; all others pale in comparison and into insignificance because they make compromises or adjustments toward the sad world and its very often malleable approaches to generally dealing with life and its consequences, for good or ill.
Not even, e. g. Orthodox Judaism comes close to Catholicism because, e. g., the Jewish tradition requires that someone who does harm must first ask forgiveness of the aggrieved party, before any pardon may be given; in one instance, among many, of an endlessly tremendous ethical, moral and spiritual divide, Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, commands forgiveness and even regardless of the disposition of the evil doer. That, as just a gross understatement, is truly and notably significant.
This is because, although often unrecognized, there is unquestionably unconditional gratitude that is to be given to God in that Catholics are notably privileged to forgive, yes, privileged to forgive, in the hope that they may be so forgiven, as the totally essential and necessary condition of attaining their eternal salvation in Heaven. Before the Supreme Being, there are definitely no entitlements.
The final reward, a permanent blessedness as a saint, is incalculably great; and, all semblance of human pride must be willingly sacrificed by committing the act of forgiveness, with no thought of any supposed entitlements. As St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of the Scholastics, had verily taught, God does not even owe human beings justice because He, by definition, is the real source of all justice, all mercy, and all truth. The actual subordination of mere human beings is not that commonly recognized these days and, because of a rather heightened degree of human hubris, increasingly so.
The Unmitigated Evils of Entitlement and Ingratitude
Why? Because something needs to be understood and properly comprehended, concerning gratitude due to the Lord, as to the truth and justice and His righteousness. Thus, this supremely vital reality must be rightly known before anything else. All the many concerns, thoughts, injustices suffered, problems, sufferings, torments, evils endured, and anything and everything else that has afflicted all human beings, past, present and future, who have, do, and will ever live on this earth are just absolutely nothing, when compared to the rights, honor, and glory of God.1
Without, in effect, getting down on one’s knees to thank God, every day, as a sincere act of needed and owed gratitude, there is then lacking something, quite monumentally missing, in the Catholicism, in the Christianity, of an alleged believer. But, ingratitude is the typical characteristic and touchstone of basic modern reality. There are many practical consequences of this harmful attitude, in the real world, which certainly affects all of politics, society, economics, culture, and, ultimately, the quality, or lack thereof, of a civilization itself. Lack of noticing this fact indicates both an insensate intellect and a dead soul.
There is even an ideology that unreservedly reflects and, moreover, openly celebrates ingratitude, and it is usually known as Libertarianism. And, it will be here convincingly and easily demonstrated how such individualism and collectivism, furthermore, do kiss each other passionately, on the matter of a mutually accepted sense of ingratitude; for they are, in fact, simply the two sides of the very same coin of overt modernity.
Thoughtful people often do look around and wonder what has been, for generations now, helping to terribly destroy this country’s society, politics and culture and, of course, all of Western civilization in general. Many various terms or words, no doubt, could be freely used, in either popular or learned descriptive efforts, at properly defining and analyzing the reasons, causes, tendencies, issues, etc. for the effortlessly observed decadence, dissolution, decline, and degradation.
Besides hubris and vanity, behind them all, whether overtly or covertly recognized as such, one would inevitably find the sense of entitlement. Social Security, Supplementary Security Income, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare payments, Unemployment Insurance, and much else exists as part of what are called entitlements, which have assisted in creating the overall vile entitlement mentality that so intimately and increasingly governs now the lives of tens upon tens of millions, whether citizens or even illegal aliens.
\What the churches, private charities, social organizations, and generous people used to do, meaning before the great evils of excessively confiscatory taxation, vilely cancerous government growth, and massive secularization, the Omnicompetent State is now supposed to all provide.
So, everyone is made by the government to think that they are just axiomatically and naturally entitled to everyone else’s (meaning the taxpayers’) income. Socialism, by whatever possible euphemism, has substantively and thoroughly gripped almost all of the minds of the modern Western world that, in turn, actively caters to encouraging decadence, dissolution, decline, and degradation. But, socialism and its wrongly assumed opposite, individualism, both do specialize in fostering and approving of ingratitude because both affirm, in their different ways, the same entitlement mentality.
Since no gratitude whatsoever need be shown to God by Libertarianism, libertarians, by any name, feel entitled to whatever they may own or have since no Supreme Being has allowed them the opportunity, as far as they are concerned; and, socialists, by any name, do equally feel entitled to anything they may have or can get at the expense of the taxpayers. Ingratitude and entitlement are, thus, surely two sides of exactly the same coin, not antagonistic principles, as either the libertarians or socialists would falsely claim.2
This article, in firm support of its thesis, will present a “Burkean” style defense of the Roman Catholic Faith; this will be given particularly concerning the, thus, titanic moral struggle of contemporary life, by strenuously denouncing the lack of gratitude that most people have and, also, by repudiating adamantly any support for the very regnant entitlement mentality. The great Edmund Burke was correctly said to have solidly stood on exactly the same ground of argumentation when he, first, ardently defended the American Revolution of 1776 and, later, vigorously attacked the French Revolution of 1789. This missive will, therefore, be a Burkean performance for the entertainment of the readers.
All Christians, especially orthodox Roman Catholics, should religiously repudiate utterly the entitlement, egocentric prerogative, mentality and any notion of ingratitude, rank thanklessness. In contrast, Adam and Eve had exhibited both ungratefulness and a sense of seeking wrongful privilege by wanting to be as gods, in the knowing of good and evil, thus, the permanent commission of Original Sin.
Not being fully content with the enormous bounty both freely and generously provided by the Supreme Being, they still wanted more, much more. Spitting contemptuously under any due deference and humility, human pride, inordinately desiring an improper equality with the Supreme Being, had mingled with greediness and a bold envy.
These basic attitudes, going over the centuries under many guises and names and whether material or immaterial in actual nature, have sadly stayed, with the fallen human race, ever since as to the mortal propensity to sin within the confines of a fallen world.
As Alexis de Tocqueville so correctly noted, in his justly celebrated Democracy in America, the American people, as with other peoples, could have the possibility to sustain free government, as long as they did not realize that they could institute public theft through the ballot box. Once that corruption took hold in their minds, corruption was to increase massively and free government would no longer be actually sustainable as “democratic despotism” (sinfully) grabbed at the economic wealth of the nation.
Millions upon millions of citizens, generation by generation, were no longer satisfied with the material and other bounty that God had provided by allowing for the existence of America. They yet wanted more, much more.
With their carefully contrived situation ethics and value-neutral attitudes that do reek of hypocrisy, they face a (deranged) world made supposedly amenable, in their own warped minds, to a moral and ethical subjectivity called, of course, existentialist, value-preference objectivity. With goods and services seen galore, due to an increasing vile lust for a populist statism (aka democratic despotism), there have been many horrid results quite complementary to and truly congenial with both the necessary advancement and valid consolidation of tyranny, of course. It really could not, therefore, be otherwise.
And, the political-ruling class in this country simply were too eager to supply those wants, meaning as long as the people increasingly gave up civil liberties and civil rights in the process, which has occurred, with the vast expansion of supposedly unlimited entitlements. America is, therefore, a much less freer country, as a direct consequence, than it was just, say, a mere forty or fifty years ago; statism demands its sacrifices, as it is the modern Moloch, which functionally and operationally exists as Thomas Hobbes’ supremely celebrated “Mortal God.“
But, as with all material goods and services, because of the inherent sinfulness of human nature, it will never really be ever enough; more and more is, thus, constantly demanded and necessarily expected. Ingratitude and entitlement, by their very natures and integral characteristics, do feed off each other and intensify each other’s worst features, as a true result. More is never enough, as night follows day.
Both of these features of mass, advanced, modern societies spawn so enormously greedy desires that become insatiable and axiomatically increase, as the democratic functions and operations of a country becomes crescive as well. The people assume that they can easily just vote themselves into a condition of guaranteed prosperity, which now exists as the American Welfare-Warfare State (aka Administrative State, Regulatory State, or Bureaucratic State).
It is fairly much the same, one suspects, as was written about, some generations ago by now, in Hilaire Belloc’s The Servile State and, of course, as was noted in Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom or Garet Garrett’s The People’s Pottage. Now, millions upon millions of Americas and the vast majority of the people of the western world in general are steeped in a passionate ingratitude and do worship the supposed god of entitlement, not seeing the condition of enslavement that inevitably must come.
For as Burke intelligently wrote, centuries ago, “Their passions forge their fetters.” The sinful lusts of materialism, hedonism, and secularism lead inevitably toward despotism or, if one prefers the term, tyranny. Sinfulness, when actively and intensively present on a mass scale, calls forth political, social, economic, and cultural corruption to the greatest degrees imaginable, as is abundantly seen in America, in particular, and the Western world in general. The only real chance for true American renewal is the one that would be, so axiomatically, rejected by the vast majority of the domestic population, meaning orthodox Roman Catholicism.3
As modernity has, in effect, sanctified the Seven Deadly Sins, it is, also, the case that ingratitude has been made a kind of virtue, whereby the people feel simply entitled to whatever they think is the new minimum such as a free (aka taxpayer paid) healthcare system for life and for covering all normal and extraordinary needs. Public schooling, in America, exists freely for both grade and high school, as is provided by the government; free food is provided by food stamps and various other programs; the Obamaphone Program gives out complimentary cell phones.
This renders aid and comfort, significantly speaking, to the ever radical-political enshrinement of much unholy greed, plain and simple; and, it naturally feeds into the human condition as to base sinfulness and moral depravity. It caters to the illusion of something for nothing, which ignores the enthrallment of the then degraded and debased population at large to the demands of statism, meaning tyranny, and, thus, the observed cognate mass secularization of society and culture. The situation is clearly demonic.
Many suitably envious predispositions are being endlessly encouraged, ideologically stimulated, by the ever abundant government largesse that, logically, affirms publicly and loudly the ugly idea of highly covetous entitlement, which is, of course, the Leftist political rationalization and lustful justification for pure greed perpetually unsatiated.
For as the Communist Karl Marx himself wrote, in knowing full well about usual human weaknesses and imperfections, ”Don’t tell me what people need, tell me what they want.” Claiming idealism, Socialist ideologists, to better, thus, conceal the ever vicious truth from themselves, confidently lie to themselves freely when they then, always, wrongly do think otherwise. There is a demonic disregard for the truth.
Soon, given the progressive “logic” involved, voters will eagerly demand that they be well supplied, for life, with free housing and cars, summer-vacation homes, all free electronic equipment, gratis tickets to amusement parks, complimentary movie tickets, and definitely so much else besides. A $15 minimum wage guaranteed by government is just chicken feed; many groups are now demanding $25 and others say up to $50 per hour. All this, however, does not ever really lessen any demand-supportive mentality, rather, it then so much further powerfully stimulates, as a consequence of Original Sin and the known sinfulness emanating from it, the evil, pernicious, and dreadful human emotion of one of the classic Seven Deadly Sins: Envy.4
Postmodernity, consequently, has spawned a grievance, entitlement, and ingratitude-oriented culture in which all societal conduct exists as a zero-sum game, whereby if any one person gains, then someone else or other people must necessarily lose; socialism, due to its nature, adds to the endless turmoil by insisting that the “economic pie” is, thus, a shrinking entity resulting from this assumed zero-sum game that paints the picture not of a collectivist Utopia but, rather, a contempt-filled dystopia, a Hobbesian world, as to a worst case scenario. And yet, worrying too much, being extremely disquieted, about the things of this world, which are distractions, is clearly un-Christian conduct.
One can readily tell the extent of secularization, in a society and culture, as is seen in the ingratitude to God overtly shown by excessive concerns about: physical appearance to be enhanced by cosmetics, the anxieties and fears connected to paying the bills of one’s existence, the outcomes of professional sports games, need to always see the latest movies and other popular entertainments, etc. Most people worry tremendously within such a civilization concerning, e. g., their standard of living, not the high standard to be set for the proper and needful sake of their souls’ eternal salvation, for the joy and happiness of Heaven; the metaphysical order exists, if ever at all, as just a mere or simply vague afterthought of an inconsiderable kind.
It is no real surprise, therefore, that such ideas as grace, holiness, humility, and piety become so totally incomprehensible. There are only such matters as value-free preferences, value-neutral judgments, and situation ethics allied to positivism, pragmatism, and naturalism to, eventually, yield nihilism ending in an ensuing insanity, though by whatever name. One sees this easily, for instance, in the literally quite insane positing of there supposedly being anywhere from about 200 to 300 genders or, perhaps, still many more in the future.
This clearly secularist attitude shows a much debased worldview without knowledge of grace and given only to materialist-hedonist calculations of right versus wrong, in a starkly Benthamite manner, with social and economic utilitarian parts constructed for man’s vain earthly cunning and deviousness. The entitlement mentality is, thus, regarded by so many contemporaries as a supposed new virtue because subjectivity has become the new PC objectivity, in that perversity exists a simple synonym for the ever ideologically demanded diversity. And, nothing should be now plainer to obvious sight as to the current understanding of an obnoxiously plastic or endlessly protean sort of “truth” infinitely amenable for all or any occasions, for such is the nature of madness.
What is said to exist is the presumed amoral “no man’s land” filled with ego enhancement units, known as self-actualized persons, struggling as if in an enormous bee hive, though the deluded participants are supposed to still have utopian aspirations. Holiness and piety are just odd antiquarian notions with no pragmatic and real cash value. As a jocular result, the insanity of all this is, of course, rarely recognized because it gets too often quite vainly disguised by Marxism and neo-Marxism, and also known by the many various euphemisms.5
A contrasting good sentiment is indicative, according to classical Natural Law teachings, of what ought to properly prevail. The many benefits of gratitude include an emotion expressing true thankfulness for what one has, which is ever diametrically opposed to a materialistic emphasis on what one wants and, consequently, demands. Increasingly, one may note, in an ironic manner, that the subject of gratitude is receiving a great deal of contemporary attention as a definite part of positive psychology studies that are accumulating and demonstrating that people can intentionally encourage gratitude so set within themselves and, as a beneficial result, can grow a personal sense well-being and happiness by seeking to do so.
Also, there is the good realization that gratefulness, especially when seeking to express it to others, is normally related with an increased sense of energy, optimism, and sympathy shown toward other people; and, in other words, it has a justly genuine humanizing and truly socializing effect as favoring brotherhood and a decently fair sense of human commonality. For Catholics, this is to be found in the appropriate drive toward a wanted holiness, for the better seeking of the proper obtaining of grace and a belief in right wholesome Christian solidarity, the very best, ultimately, of all the positive features of a true Christianity filled with a right sense of wholesome thankfulness.
Seeking Gratitude: The “Art” and “Science” of Being a Catholic
Gratitude, moreover, points its keen attention toward the greater good. Christians ought to be grateful of many things; Catholics, moreover, should be even more so because of a plentitude of opportunities for gaining grace toward salvation itself and, if for no other reason, the very fact of just simply being a Roman Catholic. Members of the Church of Rome are, thus, to be grateful for having the Pope and the hierarchy, no matter how despicable, in fact, various members are, for Christ instituted, founded, the Holy Roman Catholic Church and, in addition, the sacred principle of Apostolic succession.
The quality or lack thereof of the numerous actual people involved, many Catholics do forget, is not God’s fault. No matter how terrible things get, because of the priority, in perspective, of the then ever absolute rights, honor and glory of God, human beings are to still remain unquestionably grateful to the Lord Almighty. Even such an earthly evil human as suffering is yet to be rightly understood as being, through the sincere love of God and showing of gratitude, a truly splendid and joyful privilege.6
Definition can help with clarification of meaning. The following will either be quotes or paraphrases that were taken from George Crabb’s volume titled: Crabb’s English Synonymes: Centennial Edition (1916). To cite most pertinently here: “Thankfulness, or a fullness of thanks (from Anglo-Saxon thanc, a thought, hence a pleasant thought, a grateful remembrance), is the outward expression of a grateful feeling. Gratitude, from the Latin gratitudo, is the feeling itself.”
And yet, all that still requires some further needed elucidation and extrapolation. Personal gratitude is measured by the nature of one’s actions. Nonetheless, it is possible for someone to seem very thankful, at a certain time, who, later, “proves very ungrateful.” Many human beings can, it should not be doubted, be exactly that way.
As a kind of much needed emphasis, concerning the fact of a reciprocity, one also, in Crabb’s English Synonymes, notably reads that, “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude; gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.” Both such highly interesting points, as to their own acute instructiveness, are worth remembering, for the former feeling cannot be truly genuine if the latter is not heartily felt, which can present, one suspects, a seeming dilemma or paradox to sagacious minds.
Of course, adverse to the commendatory quote from Marcus Tullius Cicero’s (106 – 43 BC) Pro Plancio, given at the beginning of this article, highly supporting such a morally upright and ethically generative, positive virtue, one could yet come across a negative quote from the ever cynical François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac; this is seen in his Maxims: “Gratitude, in most men, is only a strong and secret hope of greater favors.”
He, generally, gives what could be so easily called “from the rat’s eye” perspective concerning a woefully imperfect humanity and its many failings. True gratitude, set especially in a Christian sense, ought to be always genuine, not ever meanly counterfeit, to help avoid a supposed dilemma that ought not to exist. Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus.
Nonetheless, in terms of genuine Christianity, the gratefulness of all men to God is to be, in effect, as unlimited as is the Supreme Being Himself and, if properly understood, absolutely with no intentions of any quid pro quo, as is true with paganism. And, in speaking of paganism, even wise Plato knew, totally contrary to the Sophist Protagoras, that “God [not Man] is the measure of all things.”
To acknowledge such truth, all Catholics can say the prayer of Saint Richard of Chichester (1198-1253): “Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits and blessings which you have given me, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for me. Merciful Friend, Brother and Redeemer, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.”
Hence, the true justice of always yielding and rendering, which ought to be obvious beyond question, all ultimate thankfulness to the infinite Creator of all things. And, from this, as to its imperativeness and so cognate implications, one could properly derive both the need to love God and, as an allied function of that, one’s neighbor as well, for the Lord’s sake, not just our own. As the Creator loves all His creation, humans are to reciprocate that love of all His human creatures, which should not, however, be confused with liking everybody. There are, in fact, significant differences for proper consideration.
The saints certainly loved their fellows as they were obliged for obtaining holiness, though they were all not known for liking them all. One must intelligently come to correctly perceive that loving and liking are, therefore, not (always) the same thing. A Catholic father must, e. g., unrestrictedly love his son, but if the child sadly becomes a slothful, slovenly, wayward, unrepentant, and corrupt adult, he does not have to admire, respect, or even like him at all. Christian love does not, therefore, demand some sort of inherent and strangely implacable stupidity or, perhaps, quite an excessive indifference to the very plain truth about certain human beings and their so observably nasty or downright reprehensible conduct. All people are, therefore, to be loved but need not be liked.
It is the duty of Catholics, no matter how extremely difficult and very sorrowful that it may surely be, to, for instance, always love and pray for Pope Francis, though he ought to be still rightly disrespected and disliked for any evil that he does. For the higher sake of one’s soul’s salvation and a life geared toward holiness, the unreserved gratitude that ought to be always felt toward the Almighty God so necessarily mandates, thus, all such requisite and proper love. One’s needed thankfulness to the Lord makes love and prayers for the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, absolutely and without question ever mandatory.
Again, however, the still distinct matters of liking and loving are really different, not just supposedly equivalent, which may yet need to be significantly reiterated, in the closing off of this particular topic related to an obligation for the love of God. For to acquire the right attitude, especially against the evil entitlement mentality, human beings are nothing compared to the Lord God Almighty, in that the things of Heaven that people ought to crave should then make all earthly matters axiomatically pale into an increasing insignificance.
In Luke 17:11-19, there is the interesting and evocative story of the ten suffering lepers, for when Jesus was traveling between Samaria and Galilee, He entered a town. There, these ten lepers had urgently implored Him, from an appropriate distance, to have mercy on them. Jesus, knowing full well the Judaic Law, responded by telling them to go show themselves to the priests. Lepers could be allow back into society only after they had been actually certified by priests that they, in fact, were totally cleansed of the leprosy.
But, just one (a mere 10%) of the entire ten, a Samaritan, came back to Jesus to sincerely express his earnest gratitude. After reverently prostrating himself before the feet of Jesus and rendering great thanks, the Samaritan heard Christ declare publicly to all who were present: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18).
It is the case that the Messiah wanted, most definitely, all of the listeners, meaning without any doubt, to get the noted point, which He considered to be of very obvious importance. In effect, He was openly rebuking all unrepentant sinners, not just simply commenting on the nine other former lepers, as to their noted behavior or, rather, gross misbehavior in this morally critical matter.
This New Testament passage certainly makes it rather manifest that gratitude pleases Jesus very much, while its lack brings Him sorrow. The fact that Jesus did not simply cure all ten lepers immediately fully allowed them the reflective occasion to so decide whether they should come back to Him directly and express their appropriate gratitude, as soon as their cures had taken place. The so deliberately delayed miracle easily permits the story to explicitly underscore the extreme significance of proper gratitude and, moreover, summonses all Christians to keenly perceive why Jesus values it so highly.
And, moreover, the evident lack or absence thereof, offends Jesus so greatly. This point ought, then, to be undeniably crystal clear for all to so readily see and without question. Thus, among other necessarily important considerations, any deliberate ingratitude, on such a scale, is a mortal sin, which logically relates to the resultant damnation of souls.
And, though serious sin and damnation are rarely, if ever, on the jaded minds of average contemporary people, the truth of all this survives; this yet remains, however, especially for those who may say that they adhere to Catholicism as their faith, as being a lesson. Such a point ought not, therefore, to be wrongly lost. The ugly ingratitude, the repugnant thanklessness, of the nine lepers, also, indicates strongly how terribly sordid and vile the concomitant modern attitude of the entitlement mentality really is, for its integral evil celebrates the true spirit of Godlessness.
A practicing Catholic’s life and love is, therefore, to be always Christocentric, not ever anthropocentric or naturalist-secularist-humanist oriented because the Lord God, the King of King, is, it should be so manifest, the true measure of all things. And, this thought is never to be thought of as just a mere jest. Furthermore, due to the reality of the Cross of Christ, the ultimate price to be fiercely paid for genuinely holding this important belief can, in fact, be one’s utter destruction unto desolation and death, meaning that ultimate form of Christian gratitude shown toward God in martyrdom.7
Christians, as it ought to be true of all people, are to praise God for everything, the good and the bad, no matter how very hard it may, at times, be; pain and joy, life and death, sadness and gladness, suffering and elation, are all times for praising the Lord, for being and beingness are good, not evil. This is fully opposed to the modern environmental-ecological movement, endorsed by the vilely evil Pontiff Francis,8 which looks upon man as just a horrible, unnatural cancer upon the earth to then be, eventually, utterly wiped out by ZPG, abortion, euthanasia, birth control, etc. It is the conveniently postmodernist home and Green Power emanation of age-old immanentism, as to a much glorified secularization, in all of its so disgustingly demonic “splendor.”
In all things, nonetheless, God is to be honestly thanked, since He is the absolute source of all being and beingness because of the existence of the Creator, the Supreme Being of all, besides the gratis eternal gift of instituting the Roman Catholic Church through Jesus Christ.
Admittedly, times have surely changed. It has been a long time since the right gallant Robert E. Lee, one of the greatest men in American history, said that the word “duty” was among the most sublime words in the English language; this was considering the denotative and connotative qualities involved with that word. But, for Christians, as Lee knew, they ought to know that it is a privilege, honor, obligation, and duty to love God, which is the ultimate thankfulness that humans are capable of showing. What this all relates to, as the bottom line, is the honest ability to express a genuine humility. The proud can never enter Heaven because they are, as the old saying goes, just too big from their own britches.
True gratitude, however, requires the human precondition of humility. And, authentic humility is part of the main ticket toward the admission price expected and needed for attaining Christian beatitude and salvation. Humble hearts can, of course, express thankfulness readily; truly arrogant and egocentric minds are, unfortunately, too consumed by the entitlement mentality that praises itself for being in a demanding mood, so suitable for a degenerate secular society and culture, and knowing no God.
For ever seeking gratitude, Christians, and more so for practicing Catholics, know full well their eternally great indebtedness to the Lord God Almighty and, as to Catholicism, the Church and its set sacraments inclusive. Only the Crucifixion of Christ was able to pay the debt created by Adam and Eve by opening the doors of Heaven forever, nothing less. Thus, Catholicism involves adhering to the humility of being truly grateful and, with that real thankfulness and pursuit of holiness to obtain grace, remaining a good Catholic, therefore, unto death itself.
And, every Catholic ought to know that the Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of Thanksgiving for God’s chance at gaining redemption, for the best practice of one’s Catholic faith necessarily revolves around the good idea of gratitude. This is directly seen, of course, in the traditional Catholic Mass. In contrast, entitlements are, in effect, many satanic claws grasping greedily at many people, especially at professed Christians, who really ought to know better than to serve Satan or, rather, his secularist surrogate, the modern State in all of its profane unholiness. Bitterness, envy, greed, and grievances are allied to this supremely secularist attitude calling forth endless recriminations, malice, resentments, and spite.
It needs to be so rightly understood, therefore, that gratitude is the virtue by which a person properly recognizes, interiorly and exteriorly, assistances gained and seeks to make at least some recompense appropriate for the assistances or favors rendered. The attitude of gratitude is, basically, synonymous with Catholicism itself, as is the true thanksgiving so represented by each and every Holy Mass. To be a practicing Roman Catholic is, moreover, to be ever grateful and indebted to God in a both practical and spiritual manner.
The prayer before meals illustrates perfectly what the Christian life, the Catholic life, of truly boundless gratitude is to be all about: “Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.” The true religious and, thus, undoubted need for such explicit thankfulness, overt appreciation, could hardly be made that much clearer.
Athanasius contra mundum!
- These matters can be instructively expatiated upon for some useful amplification. Contrary, e. g., to the libertarian Thomas Woods, Jr., therefore, Catholicism is not really compatible with the ideology of Libertarianism (by whatever euphemism) or, for that matter, any ideology; in opposition to the very anti-libertarian Christopher Ferrara, Catholicism, also, is not to be ever seen as being harmonious with Socialism (by whatever euphemism). Since Catholicism is, in fact, not an ideology; it can then, as a truly radical religion, thoroughly repudiate both the evils of the entitlement mentality and the ingratitude shown by both individualism and collectivism, in their different but still complementary ways.
Woods, Jr., author of Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card of Allowable Opinion, and Ferrara, author of Liberty, the God That Failed: Policing the Sacred and Constructing the Myths of the Secular State, from Locke to Obama, used to be good friends turned quite bitter rivals who, nonetheless, are yet intimately united by their ingratitude and entitlement fixations. Real antagonists, as engaged disputants and competitors, do have much more in common than they would ever realize or, of course, care to admit, especially by, directly or indirectly, mirror-imaging each other so much. Such a conflict is, thus, quite morally painful to watch.
4. See: Helmut Schoek’s masterpiece volume Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour
5. Among a literal plethora of fallacies, Marxism, courtesy of Karl Marx himself, made the so incredibly stupid mistake of positing a form of perfectionism. He had, so asininely, just calmly assumed that what he blandly defined as Capitalism had totally eliminated forever the economic problem of scarcity and calculations, thus, necessarily and naturally dependent upon the empirical economic fact of scarcity. For him, this definitely meant that Communism could, in its turn, build up upon this (alleged) achievement (actually, a sand castle) and, thus, come to outdo Capitalism itself, in the process of bringing about the New Eden on earth without, of course, God.
This supposed elimination of the definitive core economic problem is quite highly illustrative of the utopianism inherent always within Marxism and all of its many collectivist, Keynesian, etc. variants to this present day and for all time. It is but one fatal instance, among so very many, of true Marxist brainlessness. Scarcity and price function are “mysterious” matters that “collectivist economics,” an oxymoron if ever there was one, which do remain forever beyond the intellectual capacity of all these utopian dreamers. One can, instructively, read Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action (3rd edition) and his Socialism to understand the empirically verifiable truth of what is written here.
Relative paucity (by whatever designation) and its omnipresent economic reality on earth renders, by definition, all of Communism/Utopia forever impossible. Marx, being a supremely radical-bourgeois urbanite, was just incapable of possessing the concrete knowledge of even the simplest peasant that perfection can never exist in this world. It literally takes millions of people, the more the better, to help make a modern freemarket economy function; no hubristic central planners have the collective brain power or capacity, much less the humility, to run entire economies better than the freemarket itself can.
Thus, collectivism always inevitably fails, as easily witness one of the latest examples of such insanely attempted Utopia building: Venezuela, where people are literally starving to death in the gutters. And, this is, of course, called with quite hellish irony yet another “Worker’s Paradise.”
8. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/424659/francis-flirts-nature-rights-wesley-j-smith; http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/07/pope-franciss-radical-rethinking-of-environmentalism/374300/; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/24/pope-franciss-edict-on-climate-change-has-fallen-on-deaf-ears-study-finds; http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-01/pope-francis-says-harming-the-environment-is-sinful; http://www.americamagazine.org/issue/pope-comfortable-green-implores-protection-creation; http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pope-calls-for-environmental-action-in-new-encyclical/