I Don’t Understand

I don’t understand…I don’t understand so much of what goes on in the world today.

I don’t understand the current protests occurring on college campuses in the United States.  I believe in the right of people to protest.  However, I fear these protests go beyond normal protesting.  Honestly, I’m not sure what “normal protesting” is but I do think that acceptable protesting does not make people feel unsafe.  In these current campus protests people do feel unsafe.  Some colleges have gone to remote learning out of fear for the safety of the students.  Likewise, there are colleges that are now cancelling graduation ceremonies because of concern for safety.

I don’t understand the reports of professional agitators coming to the campus protests.  What business do they have engaging in campus protests?  I don’t understand why there are any professional agitators.  That aside, college campuses are meant for the people, mainly students but also staff and faculty, who are part of the campus community.  Those who are not part of the regular campus culture should not be participating.  It distorts the message.  In some cases I think it hijacks the students’ efforts for alliterative purposes.

I don’t understand why people think Hamas should rush to agree to a cease-fire with Israel when Israel openly says it will invade Rafah.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I want a cease-fire.  I want an end to this war.  I want an end to all wars.  However, how is it a cease-fire when Israel is openly saying it will still invade Rafah.  In previous articles, I have written on how Just War Theory applies to the current war between Israel and Hamas.  Let me be clear that Hamas was in the wrong when it attacked on October 7, 2023.  Please also let me be clear that Israel has, as do all nations, a right to defend itself.  What Israel has done goes beyond what is necessary to defend themselves.  They have failed to act with comparative justice, the second criteria of Just War Theory.  I would also highly question if Israel has violated the sixth criteria of Just War Theory, proportionality.  They have Hamas contained.  I am convinced this is not a just war when Israel publicly says the war will end only when there are no Hamas left.  The fifth criteria of Just War Theory is the “probability of success.”  Can they really destroy all Hamas?  Even if they do, another group will take its place. 

I don’t understand how the abortion discussion goes.  Actually, there doesn’t seem to really be a discussion.  Both sides assume they are right in their own position.  They do everything they can to change/pass laws and seek court decisions that get them what they want.  It seems nobody wants to dialogue on the fundamental point that the baby is alive, a unique individual, from the moment of its conception.  The people who are pro-choice don’t recognize my choice that I don’t want my tax dollars to pay for abortions.  They want businesses that object to abortion and contraception to have to provide insurance coverage that supports abortions and contraception.  They want to focus health care workers to perform procedures against their beliefs.  This is not pro-choice. 

I don’t understand those who are firmly against abortion but when the Alabama Supreme Court declares that embryos are children, they quickly pass legislation saying IVF is a right even though it results in the death of babies (the fetuses created for IVF). 

I don’t understand relativism.  I firmly believe there is truth.  There is mathematical truth, like 2 + 2 = 4.  There is moral truth like the fact that murder is wrong.  There is also God-given truth.  Moral truth is part of this.  God’s Truth is the truth that will set us free (see John 8:32). 

I don’t understand why relativists want to decide their own truth.  When we seek our own truth, we often contribute to the decay of society.  We need a truth that is beyond any one human being.  We need a truth that transcends worldly things.  God’s Truth does this.  We need to look beyond ourselves.  Caiaphas was speaking in human terms when he “counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people” (John 18:14).  He said this out of fear that Jesus would make things worse with the Romans.  We know that it was better that Jesus died so that the people would not perish in sin.

I don’t understand why relativists seem to reject not just truth but reason.  They do not provide logical arguments (i.e. use reason) for their positions.  They simply state that people must be free to believe whatever they want.  I have a theory as to why they don’t use reason to provide arguments for their positions.  Because they can’t.  They don’t have a logical argument to provide.  Conversely, they say we rely on blind faith without reason.  At times we do rely on blind faith.  When I can’t find the answer using reason, I do rely on our Catholic faith.  When I can’t find an answer using reason, I am always going to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  Why?  Because Jesus died for me because He loves me.  I know I can trust him.  What reason do we have to trust the world?  Our faith calls us to use reason to determine what we can but then to rely on faith.  St. Pope John Paul II an encyclical called Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) to show us how we are called to use faith and reason together.

I don’t understand why the news media will use politicians who were raised Catholic but publicly speak against church teaching as a source of what the Church teaches.  I don’t mean that the news media explicitly says church teaching is defined by these politicians.  Rather, I think what the news media does is use these politicians to point out disagreement about church teaching from noteworthy people.  The Church is not a democracy.  Church teaching is not determined by humanity.  Church teaching is set by God.

I don’t understand how some Catholic theologians, priests, and even bishops think they get to change church teaching.  Jesus is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6).  It saddens me to see them follow the ways of the world instead of the way of this world.  I hear Jesus say, “ I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world” (John 17:14) and I ask God to give me the grace I need to follow him rather than the world.  I belong to Jesus.

I don’t understand why so many people think the world is doing better when it seems obvious to me that the world is fallen apart.  They seek “freedom” above all else.  The world is decaying when people use their freedom to kill innocent people and live immoral lives.  I pray that all people come to see what is going on as God sees it (see 1 Samuel 16:7).  They think things are better.  They have not improved moral standards.  Instead, they have greatly lowered moral standards so they can do what they want.  What argument can they provide for this?

Struggling to understand what goes on in the world is nothing new and we shouldn’t let our desire to understand consume us.  We are not always going to understand.  This is the story of Job in the Old Testament.  Job was a God-fearing man who suffered greatly.  He did not understand why he was suffering.  By the end of his story in the Book of Job, he comes to realize that he is not going to understand everything.  He is not God.  He doesn’t know everything.  He is renewed in his faith.

We cannot fully comprehend God because He is infinite and we are not.  We cannot always understand humanity because, while God has given us the gift of reason, at times we act irrationally. 

We don’t understand everything.  At least I know I don’t but when reason is not enough, I do have faith.


Fr. Jeff


  1. Linda on 05/09/2024 at 9:35 am

    What I don’t understand is the incredible lack of accountability in our society. People take the liberty to interfere with or destroy other people’s lives and property but feel no remorse or responsibility.

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