Monday, April 02, 2012

Some spiritual Febreze for the Diocese of Worcester...

Saint Augustine, in his Confessions, Book VIII, Chapter X, describes his torment at being torn between two wills, the carnal and the spiritual, and writes, " yet I was bound by the iron chain of my own will. The enemy held fast my will, and had made of it a chain, and had bound me tight with it. For out of the perverse will came lust, and the service of lust ended in habit, and habit, not resisted, became necessity. By these links, as it were, forged together -- which is why I called it 'a chain' - a hard bondage held me in slavery. But that new will which had begun to spring up in me freely to worship thee and to enjoy thee, O my God, the only certain Joy, was not able as yet to overcome my former willfulness, made strong by long indulgence. Thus my two wills -- the old and the new, the carnal and the spiritual -- were in conflict within me; and by their discord they tore my soul apart."

When one reads The Catholic Free Press, official newspaper for the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, one can see this spiritual struggle expressed within its pages.  On the one hand, in an editorial this week entitled "Sharing our faith more," we read about the recent men's conference and Father Dwight Longenecker who told participants that, "Obedience means learning to listen...Giving hard truths a fair hearing increases joy, instead of strangling it...Not one scrap or whiff of hell is to remain in Christians; they are to be transformed totally into Christ's image.." (March 30, 2012 edition).

The editorial says that, "Excruciating Church teachings just might raise us from the dead."

And yet, as I noted here, for years those who produce The Catholic Free Press have been promoting deliberate nonassent from the Church's moral teaching by advancing a dissenting concept of the primacy of conscience.  This even though the publication's masthead cites John 8: 32: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."  Of course, astute readers will notice immediately that part of this passage [beginning with verse 31] is missing.  For Our Lord said, "If you live according to My teaching, you are truly My disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

This is a conditional statement.  Such as: if X = 2, then X + 5 = 7.  Our Lord is telling us that if we accept His teaching, then - and only then - are we truly His disciples.  And, as a result, we will know the truth and this truth will set us free.  In John 14: 15, Our Lord says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."  This is how we prove our love for the Lord Jesus.  Not by advancing a subjectivist conscience.

The first Bishop of Worcester (later made a Cardinal), The Most Rev. John J. Wright, D.D., in an essay entitled "Reflections on Conscience and Authority," which appeared in the April-May 1964 issue of The Critic, reminded us that, "Individual conscience is not always on the side of freedom, nor of life, nor of God, nor of man; 'modern conscience' can mean moral sophism, the arrogance and arbitrariness of which can be more horrendous, because more inaccessible to protest, than almost any despotism and certainly than any duly constituted authority which must function under written law - civil or canon."

I have been fighting against this despotism within the Diocese of Worcester - this tyranny and arrogance - for many years.  Which is why I am an outsider.  Often it is only by standing on the outside that we may have a clear view of things.  Which is why the prophets were most often on the outside looking in.

Cardinal Wright continues:

"..expressions such as 'the judgment of the Christian conscience,' or, 'to judge according to the Christian conscience,' mean this: that the pattern of the ultimate and personal decision for a moral action must be taken from the word and will of Christ.  In fact, He is the way, the truth, and the life, not only for all men collectively, but for each single one; the mature man, the child, and the youth.  And so, the formation of the Christian conscience consists, above all, in illuminating the mind with respect to Christ's will, law and way; guiding it, also, so far as this can be done from outside, freely and constantly to execute the divine will.  This is the highest present task of moral education and moral education presupposes authority; it is the first contact between conscience and authority, that of the parent, of the teacher, above all, of those who teach divine law - and of all these within the Church...only one with a totally perverted concept of the real nature and function of conscience could repudiate the infallible magisterium of the Church in the name of conscience..."

But this is precisely what those who produce The Catholic Free Press have been doing for years.  Time and again they have repudiated the infallible Magisterium in the name of subjectivist conscience.

Not one scrap or whiff of hell is to remain in Christians?  Amen to that!  But what is Hell but self-will embraced to the point of final impenitence?  That's exactly what a subjectivist conscience is: self-will over the will of Christ as expressed through His Church.

Note how the Catholic Free Press editorial refers to Church teachings as "excruciating."  They are not so for those who love the Lord Jesus.  For He has said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  If we love Him, we will keep His commandments.  We will not rationalize our sin through recourse to a subjectivist conscience.  We will instead repent.


ACatholicinClinton said...

I guess the editorial staff at the CFP believes that the "whiff of hell" may only be found on "other people."

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Worcester Diocese is raised from the dead like Lazarus. Because things are really bad here.

Ellen Wironken said...

"Excruciating Church teachings just might raise us from the dead."

Only if we actually CONFORM to them!

Let's hope that the "Catholic" Free Press is beginning to see the light. Only then will we witness a resurrection of sorts in this disintegrating diocese.

Dave said...

I'm not going to hold my breath Ellen. I gave up on the CFP in the early 1990s. And not much has changed. They're still up to their same nonsense.

Better to read orthodox publications such as the National Catholic Register or better yet The Wanderer.

WithholdinginPrinceton said...

As long as we are subjected to the sheer nonsense of dissent in this diocese as well as episodes such as the Father Dongor affair and Father Ouellette, not to mention Aquino, I am withholding my tithes and no longer even consider the "Partners in Charity" appeal. I just don't trust the tired old status quo which is committed to spiritual negligence and violence.

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