Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
Benefit #1: You get more jokes. I use this reason all the time with my kids. Study hard. Get educated. Then, when somebody tells a good joke you’ll get the pun or the literary, political, theological, military, cultural or scientific reference and not feel dumb and left out. The Simpsons will be ten thousand times funnier.
Benefit #2: You won’t waste time worrying about stuff you don’t have to worry about. You won’t, for instance, fret that if you eat chocolate (or anything else) that is certified halal, you are committing the sin of idolatry.
That’s because you will know
a) that our Church teaches that, like Jews, Muslims worship the God of Abraham and that “together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” You will know that this is not some ecumenical squish that was cooked up by a USCCB Subcommittee to Establish Indifferentism, but is, in fact, a view of Islam that goes back to that notorious modernist Pope St. Gregory VII, writing to the Muslim Sultan of Bougie in North Africa in 1076:
For there is nothing which Almighty God, who wishes that all men should be saved and that no man should perish, more approves in our conduct than that a man should first love God and then his fellow men ... Most certainly you and we ought to love each other in this way more than other races of men, because we believe and confess one God, albeit in different ways, whom each day we praise and reverence as the creator of all ages and the governor of this world.
b) that Arab-speaking Catholics worship Allah at every Maronite Liturgy and are not committing idolatry by so doing.
c) that certifying food as “halal” has nothing whatsoever to do with consecrating it to to Allah or any other deity. All it basically means is “kosher for Muslims”.
Life is too short. Don’t borrow trouble by being more Catholic than the Church. If the Church is willing to acknowledge that Muslims worship (albeit very imperfectly) the God of Abraham and not somebody else then don’t mess up your enjoyment of a candy bar with pointless scruples. Halal food isn’t even offered to the God of Abraham, much less to some other god. It’s just certified A-OK for Muslims to eat so it can be sold by a thoroughly secular business concern. You might as well live in fear that your computer is idolatrous because it has an Arabic language feature.