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, October 29, 2016

"If we do not recover a bit of our Christian identity, we will not withstand the challenge of this hour."

The Church, too, as we have already said, will assume different forms. She will be less identified with the great societies, more a minority Church; she will live in small, vital circles of really convinced believers who live their faith. But precisely in this way she will, biblically speaking, become the salt of the earth again. In this upheaval, constancy—keeping what is essential to man from being destroyed—is once again more important, and the powers of preservation that can sustain him in his humanity are even more necessary.

The Church therefore needs, on the one hand, the flexibility to accept changed attitudes and laws in society and to be able to detach herself from the inter-connections with society that have existed until now. On the other hand, she has all the greater need for fidelity in order to preserve what enables man to be man, what enables him to survive, what preserves his dignity. She has to hold fast to this and keep him open toward what is above, toward God; for only from there can the power of peace come into this world.—p. 222.
Ratzinger, J. (1997). Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium—an interview with Peter Seewald. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius.
What will those "small, vital circles of really convinced believers" look like? They will be communities characterized by
  1. true liturgy, i.e., the Mass celebrated in continuity with Holy Tradition. For the Catholic, the Holy Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life". A Catholic is a Christian who is in communion with Christ and His Church. Communities that will thrive are those 1) in which the word of God is faithfully proclaimed and 2) in which is hosted the good, the true and the beautiful celebration of the Mass oriented to God. Conversely, communities marred by self-centred worship and loose play with the Apostolic Tradition (Scripture and Tradition) will wither and become little more than social clubs wearing a religious veneer.
  2. true teaching. A diet of orthodox Catholic theology forms disciples worthy of the name Christian.
  3. vigorous and true spiritual discipline(s) (e.g., the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, the Holy Rosary, Lectio Divina and the Divine Office) oriented to Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Trinity. People and priests maintain ongoing formation in prayer. Disciples keep the Lord's commandments because they love the Lord (cf. John 14:21).
  4. true joy and hope. True disciples of Christ are a people of hope. They see and meet Christ in their neighbour, enemy or friend. True disciples are a people of Truth, Goodness and Beauty in the Lord. True disciples are children of the Father in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
  5. unfailing self-sacrificing love. The Church that survives and thrives is moved and shaped in and through intimate communion with the Most Holy Trinity. True love follows in the footsteps of the suffering Servant, Jesus Christ, Who shows us the way of love and the way to everlasting life.

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