So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What are we if not Catholic? A Saturday rhapsody.

Q. What are we if not Catholic?
A. We are slaves to the world.

I'm confident that I am not alone in my confusion at what is being said and done in Rome these days. The despondent and slightly irreverent person might ask 'Is there anything little ol' me can do about Curious Jorge?' Of course there is. In a word: pray. We can and should daily pray and pray and pray. Storm heaven with prayers for help for our Holy Father!

But, but, but..., stammers the besserwisser,... we've got to take back the Vatican! We've got to take up our whips and drive out the "filth" from the temple. And, let's face it, there appears to be a lot of filth clinging to the face of the Church. The façade of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican and Bernini's colonnade got a thorough cleaning. It's time to take the cleaning indoors, into the hearts of the citizens of the Vatican City. It's time to give up the pizza and pasta.

Practically speaking, change begins at home.

The health of the Church is much better served if we each (all of us!) with God's help, day after day, hour to hour, try to become saints.
3. (...)To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By His obedience He brought about redemption. The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world. (...) As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ (8) is both expressed and brought about. All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.—Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, solemnly promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964.
Most of us would be way in over our heads if we tried to march into the Vatican and howl at the monsignori, bishops and cardinals locked in a struggle amongst themselves for the soul of the Church. Only a few saintly souls can stand in the presence of popes and cardinals and be their admonishers. Writing on a blog is so much safer and less conspicuous, eh?

Rescue Mission—pray globally, act locally,... act loyally.

We've got work to do at the local level.
It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry.—Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 79.
Or, to put it another way,... we folk down here at the parish level have a certain situational intelligence that, subject to the authority of our pastors and their bishop, should not be usurped by a higher central authority. Local problems should be handled at the local level. When problems do arise that cannot be handled by the local authority, then up the chain of command it goes!—to the bishop and thereafter, if need be, to the pope and his competent dicastery. The Holy Father enjoys universal jurisdiction in and over the Church. Some, even many may reject that reality—and let's be honest, many do—but the Lord Jesus made the Church a hierarchy not a democracy. Where there is Peter, there is the Church.

So what happens when the top of the visible Church, our beloved Peter, is wobbly? We go to the very top, to God. Of course, we go to the "top" every time we pray. Everyone has an obligation to pray for our leaders, ecclesiastical and secular. The obligation to pray and defend the office of Bishop and/or Pope does not mean we accept what may very likely be imprudent behaviour by our prelates and pope.

Testing, testing!

With quirky appointments—Timothy Radcliffe to the position of consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; the "disastrous" appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to the Diocese of Osorno—and manipulations of the Synod on the Family by heterodox prelates, off-the-cuff papal statements about Catholics breeding like rabbits and goofy quips about dogs going to heaven, people are right to be expressing concern about Rome's roamin' these days. In times such as these, the SSPX crowd cannot be faulted too too much for rolling their eyes and silently whispering 'We told ya so'. Please bear in mind that the preceding phrase comes from the lips of one who is decidedly NOT a fan of the SSPX method of expressing disapproval. The communion of the Church is not served when protesting prelates of the Lefebvrian kind decide to ordain bishops contra the authority of Rome.

The New Entanglement

For all the talk of a new evangelization, it now appears that things are going to get much worse before a clear path forward emerges. The Holy Father Francis has asserted a strong and relevant theme for his papacy and the Church—mercy. The mercy of God is one thing. The flaccid mercy of conniving prelates who want to evacuate truth and justice from God's mercy is quite another. The upcoming meeting in Rome exposed by Rorate Caeli blog requires that we intensify our prayer efforts. If there is such a time when the Prayer to Saint Michael is appropriate, this would be one of those times.
The European bishops—not all mind you, just the so-called progressives—are desperate. The Church in Europe, we read constantly, is dying. Dying in no small part due to a lack of leadership. The Europeans were the first to ask for concessions such as communion-in-the-hand. The first to begin the wreck-o-vation of churches. Where in Europe was the voice of Tradition when things started to go haywire?

European bishops, like many of their North and South American brethren, have lacked spines for decades. Why is it that our bishops complain about lapsed Catholics when they themselves are responsible for feeding the flock with limp doctrine ranging from pseudo-socialism to outright heresy such as the licence to use artificial contraception, a licence promoted in the diabolical Winnipeg Statement, the brainchild of (Bishop) Remi J. De Roo and others, once advocated by the Canadian bishops? Why is it that bishops of the West cannot or will not see that the Africans have it right? Why is the Faith growing in leaps and bounds on that magnificent continent? It's because our African brothers and sisters witness faithfully to the Apostolic Tradition in its fullness! When the time comes, let us pray for a pope who possesses the faith of an African!

Withering West. Abundant Africa!

Pope Benedict prophesied that the Church would be smaller in the coming years, and it is becoming so as he predicted. Catholics are leaving in droves for a variety of reasons: loss of beauty; lack of spiritual foundation; loss of witness to the Gospel... we could go on and on. Might it be that those who are leaving are doing so because they lack Faith in Jesus? Some might respond, 'No, it's the Church I cannot stand. So, I'm leaving because [insert reason here]'. All the miscreants and hierarchical shenanigans in the world and throughout history should deter nor distract those who know that God loves His Church. We, like Saint Francis, must rebuild the Lord's Church because the Church really is in a ruinous state. Saint Francis started by rebuilding a local structure—the Portiuncula—that had fallen into ruin, then God showed him the bigger picture and called him to labour for the renewal of the Church.
Point to Ponder
Before every golden age of the Church the situation has first been pretty bad, wretched even. The Counter Reformation, for example, followed the devastation of the Protestant Deformation Reformation. Sometimes it takes a swift kick in the caboose to get us off our backsides to take back the world for Christ. We've got our work cut out for us.
Do recall that Jesus chose a band of weak men who, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, converted an empire. Those men showed complete deference to the Holy Spirit. Save one (two, if you include the traitor Judas), all others were put to death for proposing Jesus to the world. Only Saint John died a natural death. An Apostle had a one-in-eleven chance (one-in-twelve if you include Saint Paul) of living a long life. Living the Faith as an obedient witness makes that statistic a likely outcome. Just ask our Chaldean Catholic and Coptic brethren who regularly pay with their lives the price required of the Faith lived on the front lines. Meanwhile we, in our relatively comfy rooms typing our litany of complaints on our computers and ambling toward Mass on Sundays, carry on our merry way practically indifferent to the demands of the Catholic Faith. We will have much to answer for when, at this life's end, we stand in the presence of God Almighty. That's not a scare tactic, that is reality.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.—2 Corinthians 5:10
Bland leading the bland?

For all their wisdom, our bishops and priests cannot see that the problem is a spiritual crisis precisely because it is a liturgical crisis. Catholics are ignorant of their story. The Catholic story is first and last a liturgical story.

The liturgical crisis, to many minds, does not exist. For those sensitive to the liturgical wars of the past 50 years, it is a privilege to be aware of a problem that most have no idea as to the gloomy condition of Catholic worship—e.g., banal liturgies that lack any sense of reverence for the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The stress can be considerable which often accompanies a sensitivity to liturgical integrity. Hence, all the more reason to pray, repent, serve (in the Mass as an altar server, reader, choir director) and remind others by our own example what and Who the Mass is really about.

The dismantling of the authority of the Mass has led to the dismantling of authority in the Church.
  1. Do we think God is happy or angry about the way we currently publicly worship Him? Are there signs which affirm a wrongly chosen path? Are there signs which confirm a better path?
  2. Can we honestly expect to live in His will when we abuse the Mass and reject its faithful and reverent celebration?
Perhaps people do not find Jesus in the Mass because... THEY DO NOT WANT TO! People say they gather in His name, but their hearts are far from Him! Why are their hearts far from him? Is it because those "in charge" of the Mass have made the Mass a mockery, a caricature of what it once was? Is it because liturgical tinkerers have remade the Mass in their own image? Do we see the face of God in the Mass or do we just see our own faces staring back at us?

How do we return to the Mass it's due honour?

We wage spiritual war against the powers of darkness that rob men's souls of an orientation to God, and by our own actions embody the quest for holiness by taking up our crosses and following Christ so that we can be effective compasses that always point to Jesus Christ!

Let's get biblical!

Here on the West coast we are regularly reminded we need an earthquake kit for when, not if, the "Big One" hits: non-perishable food; water; a battery-powered radio; extra supply of medications for those who have need; appropriate clothing; a tent and cooking gear; toilet paper; etc. What about our spiritual earthquake kit? Do we have our treasure stored up in heaven (St. Matthew 6:20)? How dusty is that rosary?

So then, hear ye this:
There will be wars and rumours of wars (St. Matthew 24:6). Even a reading of the mainstream media leaves no doubt that we're up to our eyeballs in conflict.
A plague of rotten ideas has infected and is dismantling social structures—marriage, family, education. Alice's ignorance of the natural law is leading societies down Wonderland's toilet.
Environmental issues (though not the obvious and dubious ones people commonly imagine) and health crises are providing proponents of the culture of death license to promote population control and euthanasia. It is no coincidence that large corporations such as Planned Parenthood are on board for the simple and damning reason that they can profit from fear mongering.
We are entering a new phase in the human rat race—the survival of the fittest. Again, it won't be as most people imagine. The "fittest" who will survive and thrive are those who embody the Beatitudes.

To whom shall we go, Lord? You have the words of everlasting life!

Some matters of Church seem to be rising to the level of scandal. We, here and now, should be better able to understand the conundrum our Renaissance brethren faced when popes and bishops cavorted with their mistresses and were compromised by various kinds of corruption.

We can be thankful that the Holy Spirit preserved the faithful through some exceedingly trying times. At no time, however, should we allow ourselves the opportunity to indulge the idea that God has abandoned His Church. We may be facing a host of distractions posed by faithless clerics and a multitude of lax Catholics, but our focus should never waver from the person of Jesus Christ Who promised us the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church He founded on Saint Peter.

We may be confused by the actions of the office holder. We may even question his actions with considerable (but prudent) strength and determination, but the Office of Saint Peter itself requires obedience because our Lord Jesus Christ is the author of the Petrine Ministry. In the Church there is no "loyal opposition", a phrase used by dissenters to camouflage their insidious rebellion. There is only the prudent and necessary fraternal correction offered with love and respect for those God has placed in authority over us.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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