Catholic Church: July 2002 Archives

Spirits that Speak


Spirits that Speak

I want to thank the author of Summa Contra Mundum for his cogent exposition of the faults of democracy in deciding key church teachings. While there is certainly a place for majority opinion and democratic rule in the "filigree" of the faith, the core of the faith should not and must not go with anything approaching a majority opinion. In fact, the core of the faith should be central in forming majority opinion. The truly faithful should receive what is taught and assume it into their own lives.

Some time ago, I was arrogant enough to assume that a person of some 30 or 40 years on earth was sufficiently knowledgable to challenge the authority of a Church with 2000 years of teaching and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I recall the occasion precisely. Pope John Paul II had just released the encyclical "Veritatis Splendor" and I was hearing all sorts of the usual media nonsense regarding how this was a blow against all right-thinking church members, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, at that time, I believed it. I said to some close friends that if what the media announced was true, I was obliged to leave the Catholic Church and join the only other Church that had legitimate claim to descend from Jesus Christ Himself (in my mind, the Orthodox faith--but I don't wish to argue this point). My friend, being much cooler-headed about this matter pointed out how the media exaggerated everything and constantly made a mess of anything dealing with the church. She suggested that I actually read the encyclical and decide. I hadn't realized that ordinary people had access to these documents in any reasonable way. She got me a copy of "Veritatis Splendor" and it the course of my reading I was convicted by the Holy Spirit of the hubris I had been spouting for years.

Such an experience makes it very difficult for me to take seriously anyone who is in dissent about essential Church teachings. I say to myself, "60 years vs. 2000 years and the Holy Spirit--no contest."

Thanks again to the wonderful blogwriter who gave me this point of departure!

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Father, it is our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere
to give you thanks
through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Have you ever been surprised by these words? You probably should have been. Sure enough, we can acknowledge that it is our duty to give praise to God. But how often have we considered that it is also our salvation? It is both duty and salvation. How is it salvation? Wasn't that the work of Jesus Christ Himself?

Salvation is the work of Jesus Christ, in which we must cooperate. We cannot be saved against our will. We cannot be redeemed if we refuse to acknowledge that we are slaves. Therefore it is our salvation to give praise to the Father through the Son because in so doing we align our wills with the one Will that would bring us into His kingdom, if only we would allow Him.

The depth of the love of God shows itself in the lightness of this duty. The depth of the negligence of humankind is measured in how poorly we do this. Do we always and everywhere give God thanks? Do we consistently acknowledge His reign over us? Do we rejoice in the wonderful opportunity of turning ourselves over to God?

Always and everywhere--in traffic, in the accountant's office, while facing trial and talking to our attorneys, while facing the boss who is unjustly blaming you for everything that has gone wrong? And yet it really is our duty, and more importantly our salvation. If, in the midst of all our troubles, we surrender to God and turn to Him with thanks and praise, the troubles, while no less troublesome, become less important--they drop into proper perspective.

Jesus, the very name is our salvation. In The Way of a Pilgrim the efficacy of praying the Jesus Prayer and of simply saying the name of Jesus is pounded home time and time again. If we surround ourselves with a wall constructed of prayers, if we follow the proper teaching of Ephesians 6:10 and following, we will find ourselves triumphant and living in the grace of salvation.

To get there, first we must acknowledge that we need to be saved and that we can in no way save ourselves. We cannot dig our way out of the pit. But we can take off the blinders and see the marble staircase, supported by the hands of angels that leads heavenward. This staircase is adorned by the constant praises of all who love Him.

What a wonderful grace-filled duty! Would that we had a hundred such duties! Would that we could devote five minutes of the day to really doing this. I am reminded of an anecdote regarding St. Benedict. While walking with a local farmer he lamented the inability to concentrate on his prayer for any length of time. The farmer averred that he had no such trouble and he could easily focus on his prayer. Benedict quite calmly said that if the farmer could get through a single "Our Father" without distraction, Benedict would gladly give the farmer his horse. The farmer agreed and immediately started, "Our Father, who art in Heaven. . .Do I get the bridle and saddle as well?" So are we all. Our focus is weak and our ability to turn to God further weakened by our constant preoccupations with things less worthy of our time, for example (dare I say it?) blogging.

But we return once again, it is our duty and our salvation always and everywhere to give thanks. Our salvation because while giving thanks we cannot be thinking about ourselves, we must open the door that allows God to enter.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Catholic Church category from July 2002.

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