Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Hands off, keep quiet, don't 'judge': time to fightback! - Part 3

I received a comment on this yesterday to the effect that we shouldn't fight, just let 'the biological solution' work its way through lest we provoke a new Reformation.

So I thought I'd take the time in the middle of this series to explain just why I reject that argument, because its a common line of thought propagated by some conservative blogs.

And the counter argument comes down to this: souls are at stake!

Our Lord and the martyrs

The first point I'd make is that the argument that we should do everything to avoid disruption, avoid a split or reformation runs counter to the entire providential history of the Church.

I'm all for attempting to convert people, doing everything possible to promote unity.

But it can't be at the expense of truth.

To me, the so-called biological solution reeks of saying that the Apostles should have kept quiet with their message and avoided conflict with the authorities, just sat back and hoped the message would permeate out, and wait for the old guard to die off. 

It's like saying those early centuries when popes repeatedly condemned heresy and often lost their lives for it were a mistake, because some of those heretical sects split off and continued for a while.

It's like saying that those saintly bishops like St Athanasius shouldn't have let it get to the point where they were exiled from their own dioceses rather than be silenced.

It's like saying Luther should have been allowed to continue to preach his heresies with the endorsement of the Church.

Well no!

Things won't change unless we change them!

It just doesn't work like that in my view.

Things won't necessarily change just because one particular individual dies, because the system and ideas that he or she embodies will continue on.  We all work within particular shared mindsets, sets of ideas that affect how we perceive the world.

We have to challenge those mindsets, make people see something new, if we want things to change.

So many of those early martyrdom stories tell of the saints converting their captors through their courage and conviction. 

That's why the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: their witness provides powerful moments of grace for others.

Do you love God and want to be with him in heaven?

There are three reasons, I think, why it is vitally important that we all stand up and fight.

Firstly for ourselves.  We cannot live on desert islands: we need others around us to help sustain our faith. 

When I walk out of Mass early (as I did last Sunday night), unable to worship properly because I felt slimed by (amongst many other issues) the excessively sensuous nightclub-style crooning that was being passed off as the music for the Mass, I'm not exactly feeling closer to heaven!  I always worry I'm headed for hell, and I want the Church to be there to stop my headfast fall and help me up, point me in the other direction, not give me a shove downwards through false teaching, poor liturgy and general nuttiness!

Secondly for our friends, family and community. 

If we love God and want to be with him, we surely also want those we know, those we encounter also to share that joy now, and the chance to live eternally. 

I for one worry not just about myself, but about all of my family, friends and acquaintances.  I love my country and I want it to be a Christian one.  I want everyone to convert - but my own evangelisation efforts are too often stymied at the point when I manage to get people to the point of attending an actual Mass...

Thirdly for the survival of the Church in Australia. 

The problem with the 'biological' solution to the liberals is that they are intent on taking us all down with it. 

Too many bishops still block traditionalist and conservative men from becoming priests. 

Too many bishops resist having EF Masses in their dioceses, certainly at any time or place when they might be encountered by those who normally attend the Ordinary Form. 

Too many bishops mouth the words, but in fact promote lukewarmness. 

Too many priests undermine the worship of God by promoting the worship of themselves and the community.

Too many priests manage to sabotage the sacrament of confession.

The necessity of conversion

Many Catholics today (yea even Princes of the Church), I would suggest, have been infected by a Universalist, modernist view of salvation that assumes almost anyone - even atheists (!) - not only can get to heaven, but will.

I beg to differ.

Just who can get to heaven is one of those relatively undefined areas in terms of formal teaching, so many propositions in this area are indeed open to theological debate.

But we must always be guided by Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.

And Scripture repeatedly stresses that the way is narrow, and few will make it.

The Tradition has, it is true, long accepted that some few 'righteous pagans', particularly from the pre-Christian era, may have made into heaven.  But it has never said you can deliberately reject the call to conversion, reject God outright, deliberately do evil, and yet still get to heaven.

And it has certainly never accepted that one can reach heaven with unrepented serious mortal sins - such as heresy, apostasy, scandal, refusal to worship God in accordance with the Church's laws and more - on one's account.

Souls are at stake, and that is why we are called to stand up and fight.


Maureen said...

I always feel uncomfortable with the "everyone has to be Catholic" discussion;while I myself am a Traditional and practising Catholic, my mother was Jewish. Therefore I was raised in both traditions and I value both.
Religion is very largely an accident of birth. Rightly or wrongly,I do feel, and very strongly so, that it is the respect for other's beliefs which should underwrite our country.
I remember, when at school in the early sixties, having a full and frank disagreement with the nun who told me my mother was going to be eternally damned.
It's amazing, really, that my own Faith has never wavered - my grandmother's early influence on my life must have taken root!

Kate Edwards said...

Maureen - Yes it is a subject that causes discomfort. It should!

And that discomfort should cause us to pray and work for the salvation of those we know.

In terms of baptism and the Jews, the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

"Baptism is necessary for salvation for all those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament."

What constitutes having the Gospel proclaimed of course is a matter of debate.

Still, the Catechism seems to make a clear distinction between those who have been exposed to the Gospel but rejected its call, and those who have never had a chance to learn about Christ and the Church.

It says that those who 'even without knowing Christ and the Church, still (under the impulse of grace) sincerely seek God and strive to do his will can also be saved without baptism...."

(nos 261&262)

Secondly, I'd suggest that the faith we are born into is not an accident but guided by providence!

As for non-Catholic Christians, the most minimalist position that can be sustained I think is that it is much easier to get to heaven if you are a practising Catholic since you have the guidance of the Church on what is and isn't a sin; access to the sources of grace in the sacraments (especially confession, since in its absence one presumably needs to achieve a state of 'perfect contrition' for one's sins so as to avoid dying in a state of mortal sin), and much more.

Personally, I'd go a bit further than that, but views in this area can be debated.

Martin S. said...

Hear hear.

The leadership of Australian Catholicism can be summed up

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." Matt 23:13

All they inherited, the benefits from the sacrifices of the Australian Catholic community, they enjoyed themselves and will not share, but instead are using it in order to be greeted obsequiously by liberal members of state and for their material bribes. All their favoured 'justice' programs just happened to be those deemed politically correct by the governing class. No mention of abortion anywhere on the Catholic Religious Australia peak body website.

The Apostles would be staggered at the resources we have available to us. Instead the Church is being handed over to the anti-culture [Philip Reiff] and our children will be the ones who suffer systematic and intense persecution.

Martin S. said...

A Catholic and a non-Catholic prepared to fight back.

"I’m not Catholic. The chances of me converting to Catholicism are about the same as Green Senator Sarah Hanson-Young attending an ANZAC Day memorial service – buckley’s and none. However, I am concerned that a religious minority, any religious minority, can be portrayed with such resolute and unflinching prejudice in pop drama and news commentary."

“I believe the evidence is overwhelming … that Christianity is the main, central, most common, and most thoroughly and purposefully marginalized, obscured, and publicly and privately mis-represented belief system in the final decades of the twentieth century and the opening years of the twenty-first century.”