Showing posts with label exhortation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exhortation. Show all posts

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sede Vacante

Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia (Where Peter is, there is the Church)


Pope Benedict XVI departs from the Vatican

Now that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has renounced his office as of 8pm his time (11am my time) today, all of us should give thanks to God for the gift of his service and pray for God's continued protection during this time while the See of Peter is vacant.

Now is also the time to pray for the cardinals as they prepare for the coming conclave.  To them is given the task of selecting our new Pope.  We should pray that they are open to the Holy Spirit in their considerations for the good of the Church.

Finally,  we, the people of the Church, need be at peace and to recognize that the selection of the Pope is not a political affair. It is not an issue of party platforms. It is a matter of selecting the 266th successor of St. Peter. We pray for a Pope who will be a good man to lead us in the years to come.

Let us not be frightened by so-called prophecies on the internet and media attacks.  We believe that Christ has promised to be with the Church until the end of the age (Matt 28:20) and that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church (Matt 16:18).  The promises made by Christ to Peter will remain for all Popes.

For centuries, people have predicted the collapse of the Catholic Church from sinners within and attacks from outside.  Through the grace of Christ, we are still here and we have faith that He will continue to protect the Church He established.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reflections on the "Helpful" Advice to a "Dying" Church

Following newsfeeds online, I see many editorials talking about how the Church is "dying" and needs to change if it is survive  (By allowing women priests, permitting abortion, contraception and so-called homosexual "marriage.")  Personally, I wonder why these people express such concern.  After all, given that they seem to think we are a misogynistic homophobic institution, you'd think they couldn't wait for us to die.

I suspect that, far from being altruistic, this advice is being made in the same spirit as the pack of wolves suggesting to a flock of sheep that they need to get rid of those burdensome sheepdogs so there can be a dialogue on what to have for dinner.

The imminent demise of the Catholic Church has been announced by many so-called prophets who believe their movement will cause the Church to die.  When the Protestant Revolt began, some of the founders predicted our demise before their challenges in the name of Scripture.  The Enlightenment predicted our demise in the before their challenges in the name of Reason.  Atheists today predict our demise before their challenges in the name of Science.

These challenges however failed to kill us in the past and will not kill us now because the Catholic Church is not an enemy of reason, scripture or science.  Truth does not need to fear truth.  While some may apply erroneous philosophies based on their worldviews and confuse them with the teachings of Reason, Scripture or Science, the fact is their philosophies of interpretation do not accurately attack the Church – basically these attacks are aimed at the wrong target.

Other challenges come from political movements and social revolts.  Communism and Fascism both predicted that Christianity in general and the Church in particular was an archaic relic holding people back, while their movements would provide what the people really needed.  The modern hedonism argues that nobody cares about sexual morality and the Church is stupid/old-fashioned for clinging to teachings they disagree with.

But these movements have fallen or will fall.  Where Fascism was once seen as the wave of the future, it is now recognized as a wrong turn.  Despite the media message which sells sex, the media cannot hide the fact that free sex is a terribly empty thing and that there must be more to life than one night stands.  These movements mislead people.  They do not rest on truth, but rather on desires and fears.

Now these challenges can lead individuals and groups astray of course.  Regions have fallen away from the Church.  Many individuals do indeed reject the Church teachings on subjects based on the slogans of the age.  "Reproductive Freedom" for example.  It is true that the Church in America and Western Europe  are facing these trials.  It is also true that scandals in the media make it appear the Church is crumbling.

But difficulties and attacks and sinful members do not prove the demise of the whole Church.  While these challenges may cause the faithful to suffer and the weak to be led astray, and property to be lost, the Church does not exist for the comfort of her members, the body count in the pews, dollars in the collection basket or popularity with the elites.

Whether or not one accepts her claims or not, the Church exists as the means Christ chose to bring His salvation to the world.  It is true that a bad shepherd in the Church may obscure that message of salvation.  But whether or not this message is popular has no bearing on whether it is true.

If the Church believes what she teaches about her own mission, she cannot change the message of salvation to something more popular.  Why?  Because it is not her message – it is Christ's message.

The Church teaches about herself:

"Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.” [Catechism of the Catholic Church #86]

Because the Church believes herself obligated to be faithful to Christ, she cannot change her message without being unfaithful to Christ.

Once one realizes that the Church believes this – whether or not they agree with the Church over the truth of her belief – it becomes clear that to say "change or die" is a foolish ultimatum.  We remember Christ's words in Mark 8:36-38

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.

The Pagan Romans, for example, told the early Christians "Change or Die."  Christians knew it was better to die for the truth than to compromise what they believed.  The Church is still here.  Pagan Rome is a pile of ruins.  We will still be here when this current attack is ruins as well.

As Cardinal Francis George said,

"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history."

That will happen here as well.

We as Catholics believe Christ promised to be with the Church always (Matt 28:20), and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt 16:18).

People of good will may or not accept what Catholics believe about the relationship of Christ and the Church.  But they should consider this.  If we're wrong we should have collapsed long ago under the weight of sinners inside and persecution outside.  But if we're right, perhaps people should consider the ramifications of that.

But as the teacher of the Law, Gamaliel, pointed out when faced with the Christians:

So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)

If we're right, it means those who oppose her teachings are not fighting a human institution…

…they're fighting God.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years 2013: Let's Be Prepared

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. (1 Peter 5:8-10)

It is safe to say that Christianity is being treated as a hated minority by the political and media elites, regardless of what the majority of the population might think.  Whether the majority agrees or disagrees, it is this elite that calls the shots and says what is. 

If the population chooses to believe the slander of the elites, the elites will be able to make use of this support to justify whatever actions they want to carry out against Christians.  If the population does not, the elites will be able to employ the law to harm us, but will have to work harder to give a semblance of legality for their actions.

Let's be prepared.  America is at the point where real persecution against Christians can be expected.  In the name of the popular ideology, we have been declared hate filled people who make our teachings on the basis of hatred of our neighbors – a charge the Romans made against the Christians in the first centuries of its existence.

Christians can only counter the slander/libel of the charges against them by reasoned argument as to why the attacks against them are false and unjust.  We can expect to be shouted down of course.  We can expect to have our teachings distorted.  We can expect to have our explanations ignored.  All we can hope to do is reach out to the person of good will who might be observing what we have to say.

We can expect this because it is already happening.  Our elites attempt to force Christians to change their beliefs, and accuse us of being ignorant and intolerant because we believe the Christian teaching is reasonable and worthy of our trust.  As they grow in power, they can be more direct in their actions.

So we have to be prepared.

But our preparation is not to find bunkers, load up with guns and launch a revolution, or to hide away if America collapses.  As Christians, we know the truth of reality.  God exists.  Jesus Christ died to save us, He rose again and we are required to respond in faith to bring the Good News to the world until He returns.

That requires us to be in the streets, not in the bunkers.  That requires us to try to bring the truth to those who hate us.  It also requires us to refuse to bend when they demand we bow the knee to the altars of the secular.  A time may come when armed revolution may have to to be waged.  A time may come where we need to practice self-defense.  But that time may also not come.

The history of our Church is filled with martyrs who met the hatred towards Christ with love, recognizing that these persecutors are our brothers and sought to bring the Good News of Christ to them, letting them know that God loves every one of us, but also calls every one of us to repent.  This is not a duty for men and women dead for hundreds of years.  It is a duty of every person who professes to be a Christian.

We must be prepared.  Not for armed conflict with hostile human beings over the political direction of our nation, but for conflict over the souls of our people who are deceived to believe that God only suggests we all be "nice" to each other.  Every one of us, by our lives, are to be a witness for Christ.  Some of us may be called to be a witness for Christ by our deaths.  We have to be prepared for that too.

Finally, we must be prepared for battle for our own souls.  Throughout the history of Christianity, there have been people who weakened and compromised their faith and their witness.  Yet Christ has warned us in Matthew 16:25-26 that:

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?

We can expect to be hated, because He was hated and no servant is greater than His master (see John 15:18-20).

In fear of the hatred any one of us can falter.  When you have angry people screaming vile hatred at you – ironically condemning you as someone hates and judges others – it is easier to stay silent, easier to compromise, to stall.  it is easier, but it is also forbidden to us.  If we love Christ, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15) and one of His commandment is:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

We must remember that to be strong Christians we must realize we are weak.  We must remember that we work with Christ and not on our own.  We must pray daily that whatever trials and challenges may be sent our way, that we may be given the grace to persevere and to live as Christ calls us to live, and maybe even to die as He calls us to die.