Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fr. Livio Fanzaga on the Church's Passion...

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church sets out some convincing reflections on the other aspect of the Church's final trial - persecution. This has also accompanied the people of God for its entire earthly pilgrimage. Jesus holds out no prospects for a Christianity accommodated to the world. He warns: 'Men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors in my name.' (Lk 21: 12). Martyrdom, in its profound sense of witness to the point of laying down one's life, is part of normal Christian life.

In the last days, however, this possibility will become very real for the entire Church. Theories of millenarianism have spurred for the Church to reflect on the ultimate stages of her earthly journey. Rather than the triumphant march of millenarianism, it will be a carrying of the cross ending on Calvary. Thus the Church is called to relive, in herself, the paschal mystery of Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is most striking in this respect: 'The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in His death and Resurrection' (n. 677).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church begins from an incontestable theological presupposition. The Church is a prolongation in history of the mystery of Christ and the members of the Mystical Body are called to relive in themselves the life of their Head. The public life of Jesus is marked by preaching, witness, temptation and persecution. It is the same for the Church on her journey through history. Jesus' life concludes with His entry into the mystery of cruel suffering even unto death on the cross, ignominy and abandonment. When everything seemed consummated and when the powers of evil seemed to taste decisive victory, divine omnipotence intervened to destroy the powers of darkness and to raise to the splendor of glory Him whom the world sought to destroy.

The Church in the final stages of her earthly pilgrimage will be called to re-live the same Passion of Christ, so as to enter into the glory of the Parousia. Like Christ, she will know the anguish of Gethsemane. She will be betrayed, abandoned by many of her children, mocked, derided, scourged, condemned to death and crucified. When the world will think that it has succeeded in erasing her from the face of the earth and begin to sing its victory, at that moment the true lord of the world will appear on the clouds and bring the Church into the divine glory of the Resurrection...

Contrary to certain forms of millenarianism and triumphalism, 'The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause His Bride to come down from heaven.' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 677). The world in fact will follow the dragon and the two beasts and adore them: 'The whole world had marveled and fowed the beast. They prostrated themselves in front of the dragon because he had given the beast his authority; and they prostrated themselves in front of the beast....and all the people of the world will worship it, that is everybody whose name has not been written down since the foundation of the world in the book of life of the sacrificial lamb' (Apoc. 13: 3-8).

1 comment:

Ellen Wironken said...

The Church must go through her passion as her Master did. The bizarre thing is, so many Catholics treat this subject as "doom and gloom" and belief in an individual Antichrist as "theology-fiction." But if we reject this teaching of Sacred Scripture and Church tradition (which is found in the Catechism) on what basis do we accept other authoritative teachings like the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (John 6)?

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