Today is the feast of St John the Evangelist, and the placement of the feast on this third day of Christmas perhaps serves to remind us that the Church should always be missionary in character.
Remaining outwardly focused is always a challenge in a society that is no longer inherently Christian. But it will be particularly challenging over the next year, I suspect, with the Royal Commission and all the bad news stories that will entail.
Yet that makes it all the more imperative that we do make an extra effort to present the faith and the good works we and the Church do in all their truth and beauty.
Traditionalists and the missionary imperative
I've commented on many occasions in the past that traditionalists seem too often to be content if they can have their own Mass, without being intent on reaching out and converting others.
There is of course a challenge in doing this: being able to celebrate the TLM requires access to a Church and priest, and thus depends to a greater or lesser extent on the good will of the dioceses in which we reside.
Nonetheless, Christ did not instruct the Apostles to go out and create ghettos, or walled off enclaves where we can focus just on cultivating our own holiness! Rather he instructed us to go out into the world and make all men disciples.
Becoming holy ourselves
Becoming holy ourselves is of course always the first imperative. And that requires ready access to the Mass and sacraments.
Accordingly, I was somewhat bemused to find that the daily TLM Masses (and presumably associated confession times) in my own town in the week before Christmas were, bar one, scheduled for 5am in the morning (although perhaps in compensation, this week mass is at 10am). I'm sure there was some good reason for it, but the bottom line, it seems to me, is that if we truly believe we will surely want to share our faith and worship, to communicate its truth and beauty to others.
At least here it was actually possible to go to the net and actually find out when the Mass times were - certainly a step up from the FSSP's Parramatta chaplaincy, where the website previously maintained by a friend of the community there has apparently been "discontinued due to lack of interest by FSSP Paramatta Diocese". Nor is the FSSP's Southern Cross region website any more help, since its 'latest news' entry is over a year old. Perhaps something the new FSSP superior, Fr Christopher Blust, might see about getting fixed (and to whom a big welcome is due; please keep him in your prayers as he adjusts to Australia)!
There are some good things happening around the country though.
It is nice to see exciting things happen like the scheduling of Mozart's Coronation Mass on Christmas day by Adelaide's FSSP community.
And Summorum Pontificum Wangaratta also continues to thrive, putting on a sung Midnight Mass at Glenrowan this year.
Against heresy and heteropraxis
Rorate Caeli is currently featuring a post on modernism in the Church.
As so often with that blog it goes more than a step or two too far in my view, citing examples of what it views as heresy in the presentation of various church teachings by the Magisterium, which seem in reality to be no more than legitimate differences of emphasis.
Nonetheless, there is a core of truth in its assertions, particularly in noting that too many teachings - such as the existence of hell, and the evils of co-habitation - are passed over in silence these days, leading to their de facto rejection.
To counter these problems, traditional Catholics need themselves to be well catechized. But more they need to be active in finding ways to teach truth.
On the last Sunday of Advent I heard an excellent sermon from departing FSSP superior Fr Define (to whom we owe thanks for his service here; please keep him in your prayers as he departs to take up his new posting in Tulsa, Oklahoma), who pointed out that St John the Baptist, the great precursor of Our Lord, preached not in the Temple and Synagogues but in the desert that symbolizes the world.
Today we particularly remember the other St John, the beloved Apostle, and author of one of the Gospels, the book of Revelation, as well as three letters preserved in the New Testament.
The lives of both these great saints should constantly remind us of our own specific charisms and callings; the ways, big or small, in which we are specifically called to mission, whether to the wider community, or in the constant call to the reform and conversion of the Catholic community itself.