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, January 7, 2017

The Gospel is not a set of ideals.

Contrary to the tactic that many clergy are using to prop up a distorted understanding of salvation in Christ, i.e., the tactic of representing the Gospel as a set of ideals to which men may aspire with few if any consequences should they fail to keep the Lord's commandments, the true teaching of Jesus Christ is that the Gospel is most certainly not merely a set of ideals. The Gospel is reality, the reality designed by God and revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. The reality to which and to Whom we, if we desire life eternal, must be configured.

No amount of sophistry can convince the true believer that the life to which Christ calls all men is anything other than a demanding one which requires grace to enable in man heroic virtue. We cannot save ourselves. We are sinners. We need the salvation Christ won for us through His Passion and Death.

Through His Passion and Death Christ won for us the grace to overcome despair, darkness and death. We sinners, penitent and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:7-8), are called to be saints. We are called to cooperate with grace. We are not excused from working out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). We are called to be spiritual athletes.
1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
Hebrews 12:1
Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.
We are called to be spiritual warriors. There are no deserters in heaven.

1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 
Grace is available from God to live the Gospel without compromise. The lives of the saints remind us that grace is available to all to help each person who says 'yes' to Jesus to overcome sin and grow in holiness. What is true for the saints—that grace is available and we have but to say 'yes' and receive the life God offers—is true for all.
Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.—St Matthew 7:13-14
Where, among the cheap mercies offered by smooth preachers, the defenders of the excuses they claim are permitted by Amoris Laetitia, is mention of the grace available from God to live the Gospel? If people are not taught nor shown how to ask for that gift of grace, then who is to blame? The weak teachers and lukewarm witnesses, that's who. And those who, when invited to newness of life, reject the call to embrace grace, that is, they reject the call to embrace the love and life which God offers them and the power He offers to them to sustain growth in holiness. Those who reject God's offer should not be surprised when they, after having immersed themselves in a fantasy of their own making, their life apart from the design revealed by God, awaken at death to an eternity that is a hall of mirrors which merely reflects their selfishness and the cozy narcissism of their tiny little worlds. In a word, such worlds are derelict apartments in the slum of hell.

The offer of grace is hope for the sinner. Grace is available in and through the Sacrament of Penance, i.e., Confession.

Souls are at risk. The truth must be zealously lived and preached if souls are to be rescued from the world of despair.

The Instrumentum seemed to present us with two conflicting views: pastoral despair or a decision to hope. When Jesus experienced the pastoral despair of his Apostles, he reminded them that for man a thing may seem impossible, but for God all things are possible.
In mastering nature for the purpose of human development, we human beings have wounded our oceans and the air we breathe. We’ve poisoned the human body with contraceptives. And we’ve scrambled the understanding of our own sexuality. In the name of individual fulfillment, we’ve busied ourselves with creating a new Babel of tyranny that feeds our desires but starves the soul.
Paragraphs 7-10 of the Instrumentum did a good job of describing the condition of today’s families. But overall, the text engenders a subtle hopelessness. This leads to a spirit of compromise with certain sinful patterns of life and the reduction of Christian truths about marriage and sexuality to a set of beautiful ideals — which then leads to surrendering the redemptive mission of the Church.
The work of this synod needs to show much more confidence in the Word of God, the transformative power of grace, and the ability of people to actually live what the Church believes. And it should honor the heroism of abandoned spouses who remain faithful to their vows and the teaching of the Church.
George Bernanos said that the virtue of hope is “despair, overcome.” We have no reason to despair. We have every reason to hope. Pope Francis saw this himself in Philadelphia. Nearly 900,000 people crowded the streets for the papal Mass that closed the World Meeting of Families.
They were there because they love the Pope, but also because they believe in marriage. They believe in the family. And they were hungry to be fed by real food from the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
We need to call people to perseverance in grace and to trust in the greatness God intended for them — not confirm them in their errors. Marriage embodies Christian hope – hope made flesh and sealed permanently in the love of a man and a woman.
"We need to call people to perseverance in grace and to trust in the greatness God intended for them — not confirm them in their errors." Exactly!

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