Saturday, July 07, 2012

Archbishop Chaput and the U.S. Bishops are challenging us: How shall we respond?

In a homily delivered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception that brought the U.S. bishops' "fortnight for freedom" to a close, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput stressed that defending religious liberty is part of the bigger struggle to "convert our own hearts" and to "live for God completely."  See here.

This struggle to convert our own hearts and to live for God completely encompasses a battle against Satan and his demonic forces.  Satan does not want the follower of Jesus to live in peace and harmony.  He wants to seduce the followers of the Lord away from God.  How easy it is to lose sight of this reality.  Just recently, I noted how the Profession of Faith, the Nicene Creed, was omitted during Holy Mass at Saint Joseph's Parish in Fitchburg.  A parishioner named Jan left a comment at this Blog telling me that if I have a problem with such liturgical abuse, I shouldn't attend Mass there.  I was told that Jan is most likely the parish secretary at Saint Joseph's, the same woman with an internet profile photograph depicting herself in a state of undress and sporting devil's horns.  See photo.  Readers of this Blog know that Saint Joseph's Parish has had its share of difficulties.  Last year, one of the priests attached to the parish, Father Lowe Dongor, was found to have been downloading child pornography and fled the country to avoid prosecution.

This is the same parish which excluded me from participating in ministry because of my orthodoxy.

In order to live our lives completely for God, we have to struggle against the principalities and powers of this world.  So many Catholics today refuse to acknowledge this truth.  For such people, belief in evil spirits is a matter of "superstition."  Pope Paul VI, in a general audience on November 15, 1972, refuted this notion saying, "What are the Church's greatest needs at the present time?  Don't be surprised at our answer and don't write it off as simplistic or even superstitious: one of the Church's greatest needs is to be defended against the evil which we call the Devil...Evil is not merely an absence of something but an active force, a living, spiritual being that is perverted and that perverts others....It is a departure from the picture provided by biblical and Church teaching to refuse to acknowledge the Devil's existence...or to explain the Devil as a pseudoreality, a conceptual, fanciful, personification of the unknown causes of our misfortunes...St. Paul calls him the 'god of this world,' and warns us of the struggle we Christians must carry on in the dark, not only against one Devil, but against a frightening multiplicity of them.."

Our spiritual struggle, then, is against a host of evil spirits.  And these evil spirits are extremely cunning.  Although they are fallen angels, they are still far more intelligent than us because of their angelic natures.  Pope Paul VI, during the same audience, stressed that the Devil, "..undermines man's moral equilibrium with his sophistry.  He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our social activities, so that he can bring in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental make-up, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations....The matter of the Devil and of the influence he can exert on individuals as well as on communities, entire societies or events, is a very important chapter of Catholic doctrine which should be studied again, although it is given little attention today.."

Forty years later, we can still say the same.  Little if any attention is paid to this critical aspect of Catholic doctrine.  Mostly, I think, because we believe (in our arrogance) that we can solve all problems and difficulties ourselves.  We forget Jesus' warning that some spirits can only be driven out through much prayer and fasting.

Jesus gives us power and authority over demonic forces.  The demons were subject to the seventy disciples (Luke 10: 17-20).  They were subject to Saint Paul and the first Christians.  And they are subject to us as present-day followers of the Lord Jesus.  But in order to use this power over the evil spirits, those of us who profess to be Christian must grow and develop in our spiritual lives.  This means that we must strive to "live for God completely" as Archbishop Chaput reminded us.  We must attend Holy Mass faithfully (and reverently), pray daily - the Rosary is a spiritual weapon which Satan fears, and spend time with Sacred Scripture - God's Holy Word.

As Christians, we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 8: 37-39).  Let's live our lives accordingly.  This means listening to the Magisterium of the Church with docility and submitting our minds and wills to that teaching authority which has been established by Jesus Himself.  Without such obedience, how can we expect the evil spirits to obey our command - in the name of Jesus - to depart?  Disobedience and sin will not drive out the demons.  Only a life of faith lived in humility, taking the Virgin Mother of God as our model.

What are we waiting for? And whom shall we take as our model: Our Lady and the Saints who lived for God completely or the devils who reject God's saving plan?

The answer to that question will determine whether we re-evangelize our culture or come to resemble the demons whose doctrines we follow.

No comments:

Site Meter