Monday, February 11, 2019

False Prophets and Usurpers

Others are false prophets because of a false intention. But what is the true intention of a prophet? Surely, the benefit of the people. Hence the Apostle says in 1 Cor 14:13: “Someone who prophesies speaks to the people for the sake of their advancement, exhortation, and consolation.” He speaks for the sake of their advancement, so that he renders them devout [cf. Ps 76:12]; for the sake of their exhortation, so that he renders them ready and willing in good works; and for the sake of their consolation, so that he renders them patient in adversities. If anyone seeks from his teaching something else than the benefit of the people, he is a false prophet.

—St. Thomas Aquinas. 
Academic Sermon XIV

I find the words of St. Thomas Aquinas appropriate in dealing with these times. We have people who claim that the Church has fallen into error and is not to be trusted—even though the Church is “the pillar and foundation of truth” [1 Timothy 3:15 (NABRE)]. They do not speak in a way that makes the faithful devout, ready to do good works, and patient in adversity. They speak in a way that makes us rebellious, judging who is worthy of our works, and impatient with the existence of sin and weakness. These people may have good intentions, but they are still leading people away from what benefits them. Therefore they are false prophets.

We know that the Church is established by Christ (Matthew 16:18) and teaches through His authority (Luke 10:16). We know that The Lord does not take kindly to those who try to set up a counter magisterium (Numbers 16:1-35).

Yet these false prophets exist. They try to undermine trust in the Church and the rock on which Christ builds it. “The Pope speaks unclearly and causes confusion!” they say. Does he? Or is it a case of those who despise him twisting his words to the worst possible way to “prove” their point?

Perhaps it is time to start asking questions about the critics who make these attacks. Are their attacks building up the Church and encouraging her mission to go convert the world? Quite the opposite. These false prophets are encouraging mistrust, focusing on factions and saying we must disobey those successors to the Apostles. Are these attacks bringing sinners back to the Church? No. In fact, they cheer the concept of a “smaller Church” that expels anyone less holy than them. Do they help us to be patient in trials? No, they point to these trials as “proof” that the Church errs.

So why are we giving them so much attention and credibility? If we profess to believe that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church was established by Christ, and we believe that the Catholic Church under the Successor of Peter is that Church, then we heed the teaching of that Church.

The Catechism reminds us:

Think about that. “Whoever despises them despises Christ.” Then think of the Catholics who attack these successors. Should we listen to them? Or should we listen to the successors of the Apostles in communion with the Pope. We know what The Lord said. We know He promised to protect His Church.

We will have no excuse if we ignore the Church and listen to the false prophets.

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