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).

Friday, November 13, 2015

Do our bishops take the Faith seriously?

The short answer to the question/title of this essay is that some do and, it seems, too many do not.

For those of us who strive daily to live the Faith,
who go to confession regularly, who pray for those who week-after-week commit sacrileges against the Body and Blood of Christ by receiving Him while they are living in sin, who patiently listen to priests blather on about themselves as if they are the source and summit of the Mass,
we wonder, do our clergy understand that they are not helping us when they
1) are lukewarm witnesses living comfortable lives a safe distance from the trench warfare—i.e., spiritual warfare—and 
2) refuse to prune the vine of dead branches who do not produce fruit, and 
3) give Holy Communion to unrepentant sinners?
Now, if you're thinking that the previous paragraph smacks of more than a hint of the frustration of the elder brother of the prodigal younger son (St Luke 15:11-32), think again.

Consider this essay a lamentation of sorts, a complaint against the priests of God who fail to uphold the Faith and who coddle unrepentant sinners by watering down the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, all sinners need the help of God. It's one thing to approach sinners and invite them (us) to share a conversation and to dine with them (St. Mark 2:15-17) and call them out of their sins. It is quite another to bribe them with an offer of a free meal, ignore their sins, bless their sins and leave them to die in their sins. Some people's understanding of evangelization and modus operandi is nothing more than a 2015 version of the late 1960s and 1970s pop psychology 'I'm OK, you're OK'.

We all need God. When encountering the Gospel faithfully lived, people of goodwill and reason might come to faith. Then there are those who stubbornly refuse to accept the Gospel and who choose to mock Christ and the Church. Those who are divorced and remarried, and if the previous union is valid, are living in an adulterous relationship. They may not think nor feel their current relationship is wrong, but the fact is their attitude, if not their behaviour, mocks God's design for marriage.

As long as they persist in sin, should adulterers be admitted to Holy Communion? Nope. If people want Holy Communion, they should leave behind their lives of sin. We are a Church of heroes, not hedonists nor heathens. If a second (adulterous) union produces children, the adulterous parents should live as 'brother and sister' and continue to provide for their children. That may seem an impractical and even cruel solution, but the fact of the matter is the parents' souls are damned if they persist in the mortal sin of adultery. The inconvenience they face here in this life will be nothing compared to the eternal torture their sins will bring them in the next.

Do not confuse the warning contained in this brief essay with mere whining. The warning, in case you have not found it hidden among the crown of thorns, is as follows:
by indulging unrepentant sinners, by lavishing upon them the Blessed Sacrament only to have them receive the Lord while in a state of mortal sin, sacrilege willingly permitted is a sacrilege, too.
In other words, if priests and bishops do not stop giving Holy Communion to obstinate sinners, the thought should occur that said clergy are damning those people to hell because they are committing their sins with them. Instead of fearing the consequences of telling people the truth, clergy should fear the consequences of not telling them the truth.

Some priests, probably many, would object to the thought that they are culpable for any participation in the unworthy reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. They might protest that they have no way of knowing whether or not an individual has been to confession. They go with the thought that he or she (the sinner), then, merits the benefit of the doubt. That benefit is merely a clever evasion that in no way justifies self absolution. Furthermore, we're not talking about the unknowns, i.e., those who may or may not have been to confession. We are, rather, taking note of the known offenders who routinely abuse the Sacrament. We are talking about those who do not care what anyone thinks about the fact that they are living in sin. We are speaking about those who feel entitled to receive the Holy Eucharist but willfully reject Christ's teaching. If a parish priest is any kind of engaged pastor, he will know exactly who is abusing the Holy Eucharist.

No sin can be forgiven if there is no sincere contrition. Unrepentant adulterers who have no intention of leaving their adulterous relationships cannot be forgiven in the confessional. They may feel sorry, but the needed proof of their contrition is the willingness to abandon their sinful behaviour. Again, if children are involved, the adults must provide for their children while explaining to them that their mother and father cannot sleep together in the same bed because to do so would be wrong. Some might counter, 'Isn't it wrong to break up a family? Isn't it better that such a family should remain together for the sake of the children?' No and yes. Such a family is already broken by adultery. The parents, by living together in an adulterous union are sending their kids the message that it's ok to do so. Unless by a miracle of faith (and perhaps the help of a godparent) the children realize their parents are living in sin, the children will likely go on to make the same mistakes as their parents. I.e., they will probably disregard the teaching of the Church and pick-and-choose which teachings to follow. So then, what is the better thing to do? Is it not better for the souls of the children and the parents that the parents should live as brother and sister in continence? Once the children are grown and leave home, said parents can separate permanently and seek with integrity the Sacrament of Penance.

Let the dead bury their dead.

Instead of wasting effort on the spiritual dead who reject the Lord's offer of salvation (even though they of all God's children need most the news of salvation in Christ!), try offering—dear bishops—some solace to the members of your flock who suffer at work and at home from attacks by those who ridicule and mock the disciples of Christ.

Yes, we have the comfort of our convictions, so-to-speak. I.e., the confidence of faith in Christ Who loves and honours those who keep His commandments. We understand that clergy can trust that the faithful are well taken care of by the Holy Spirit, and that clergy may then tend to the wandering sheep. That's fine. However, a sheepfold unguarded is prone to attack by wolves.

Despite the faithful being ignored, and the indulgence or permissiveness shown toward those who spurn the Lord and His Church, the faithful will continue to offer up our sufferings to the Lord for the sake of those living this side of heaven (in the hope a sinner will reform) and for the souls in purgatory.
Yes, we will lose our jobs because our employers condemn us as bigots for following the teaching of the Magisterium, even while many of our prelates try their damnedest to undermine the teaching of the Lord.
Yes, we will defy the culture of death by promoting the inalienable right to life and the protection of all human life from conception to natural death, even while our society becomes a moral cesspool and our bishops saddle up to lukewarm (c)atholic politicians who are about as Catholic as Margaret Sanger, and who are about as interested in living an authentic Catholic life as Sanger would have been. Which is, to say, never.
Yes, bishops, you can abandon us. We will never abandon you nor the Church that Christ founded on Peter. That said, get your respective acts together and preach the Gospel, defend human life in no uncertain terms. Demand that (c)atholic politicians behave as people who call themselves Catholic should. And, when said politicians refuse to comply with a request or proposal to repent of their sinful behaviour and/or abandon their support for sinful behaviour, acknowledge that they have cut themselves off from the body of Christ, the Church.

In other words, dear bishops, get real about the Gospel.

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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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