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).

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Confident Catholic Identity. Defining essentials.

What is Catholic identity?

Lately, it seems, we—especially some priests and bishops—have reverted to harbouring the worst aspects of the 1970s program of 'Can't we just get along and be one?' We need not rehash the thought that such "oneness" comes with a price—i.e., the sacrifice of faith and reason and an embrace of an ecumenical and/or "interfaith" fiction.

Sadly, a generation of milquetoast Catholics who bequeathed to us a tedious self loathing and a hatred of authority seem to be finding (what is hopefully) a last gasp of popularity before that wretched low-bar (c)atholic way of being is consigned to the intellectual trash heap of history.

Instead of a robust, confident and authentically Catholic new evangelization à la Pope St. John Paul the Great, we hear churchmen returning to a shy, 'let's-not-preach-to-nonCatholics-even-in-Catholic-schools' mindset and praxis. Yikes! Are we so afraid of offending non-Catholics that we have to apologize for being "too Catholic" in our own Catholic schools? Are we afraid that someone's soul might be saved? Are we so dimwitted that we avoid evangelization and speak and act timidly for fear of committing an act of proselytization?

We hear talk that Catholic schools should be non-ideological. If that means our schools should not preach down to students, well then yes, that's a good thing. If non-ideological means that Catholic schools should avoid taking on the relativistic notions of contemporary society and thereby become cesspools of political correctness, when then yes, that too is a good thing. However, our schools have been theological and liturgical wastelands for far too long, and it's time once again that we start training foot-soldiers steeped in the Apostolic heritage who have the resilience to resist indoctrination in worldly ideologies that rob human beings of their humanity.

We need bold missionaries who can offer aid and comfort to the needy in the midst of the culture war. As one visiting priest to our diocese recently put it, people are attracted to moral beauty. We must epitomize moral beauty in what we say and do. People will recognize our witness to truth and beauty and goodness and turn to us for hope when their world only offers them despair and disappointment. We can show people a better way, a way of life and love and hope and joy and peace sustained by the Holy Spirit.

If we are to enable our students to become effective witnesses to the Holy Gospel, not just consumers of religion, our parochial schools must reorient themselves toward a deep catechism which necessarily includes the message that all people need the Holy Gospel and the salvation that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Know Jesus, know life; no Jesus, no life.

Without acceptance of Jesus Christ, one's soul is seriously imperilled and prone to hellfire. It's time we consigned the heresy of (neo)universalism (i.e., God overlooks all sins and saves all, even the unrepentant) to the hell which that particular heresy denies.

Unfortunately, the media muddlers have obscured, once again, Pope Francis's emphasis on authentic Catholic identity in his recent talk to the Association of Italian Catholic Parents:
Catholic identity is simple and yet profound. Catholic identity consists of being grafted to Christ so as to be able to say
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.—Galatians 2:20.
We are, then, people of the Cross, of sacrificial love. Our lives are not our own. We belong to God. We embody the Holy Trinity every time we live the Sign of the Cross which we trace upon our bodies as a reminder that we, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, are immersed in the One God, the Most Holy Trinity.

And, the faithful disciple embodies obedience [John 14:15-21]. Jesus says
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
And, for the Catholic, his or her identity is centred completely on the source and summit of the Christian life, the Holy Eucharist. A Catholic is first and foremost a lover of the truth that we are Eucharistic people formed in, through and by Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

We are by faith witnesses to the Resurrection, and the Mass is Holy Thursday, the Sacrifice of Calvary and the Resurrection all made present in our midst.

The sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, shared with us in Holy Communion, enables our participation in the very life of God which moves us out into the world to share the Holy Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, for Jesus is the way, the truth and the life that all people seek.

Configured to Christ and His Church

The true Catholic thinks with the Church (sentire cum ecclesia). His/her conscience is formed by and conforms to the teaching of Holy Mother Church. The true Catholic shares in an intimate loving communion with Jesus Christ and His Church. The true disciple in his/her heart reveres
Christ as Lord (... and is) always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls him/her to account for the hope that is in him/her, (and does so) with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 3:15
A true Catholic, illumined by the Holy Spirit, prays daily, constantly throughout the day, and depends on God for the grace to be fully alive in this world without compromising the Faith received from God through Holy Mother Church.

The true Catholic is humble enough to admit when he or she needs the Sacrament of Penance. A visit to the confessional once a month is hardly frequent enough for the Catholic in love with Jesus Christ and His Church.


A true Catholic is not an iconoclast. A true Catholic is an iconodule, a lover of truth, goodness and beauty exemplified in the Church's vast treasure trove of sacred music, architecture, sacred images (statuary, icons, stained glass windows, tapestries, etc.) and, most importantly, orthodox theology. A Catholic finds authentic freedom in the authority of Christ's Church that guides consciences into the truth of the Holy Gospel.

A true Catholic cannot support any aspect of the culture of death. In other words, a true Catholic is pro-life in every respect. A pro-life politician does not hide behind the sophistry of 'personally opposed but...'.

So then... .

Declare your love for Christ and Church! Let us be wise and bold in our lived proclamation of the Holy Gospel. Do not shy away from confrontation when called upon to give account for the reason for the hope within you. You are Catholic, a citizen of the divine society and culture of love founded by Jesus Christ upon the Apostle Peter.

Happy Advent!

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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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