Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A harmless religion which offends no one....

It was John Henry Cardinal Newman who wrote, "What is Satan's device in this day?...He has taken the brighter side of the Gospel - its tidings of comfort, its precepts of love; all darker, deeper views of man's condition and prospects being comparitively forgotten. This is the religion natural to a civilized age, and well has Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of the Truth...Religion is pleasant and easy; benevolence is the chief virtue; intolerance, bigotry, excess of zeal, are the first of sins." (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1, sermon 24).

Dr. von Hildebrand notes how, "burning zeal for the truth, for God, for Christ and His holy Church, is looked on as fanatical, intolerant, and incompatible with charity. Of this burning holy zeal, which every true Christian necessarily possesses, Newman says: 'Now I fear we lack altogether....firmness, manliness, godly severity. We are ever-tender in dealing with sin and sinners. We are deficient in the jealous custody of the revealed Truths which Christ has left us. We allow men to speak against the Church, its ordinances, or its teaching, without remonstrating with them. We do not separate from heretics, nay, we object to the word as if uncharitable....' In the saints we find..union of burning zeal and triumphant love of neighbor - one has only to think of the Apostles, of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, or of St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, and countless others....But today we find a twofold evil: harmlessness and loss of holy fear, as well as loss of burning zeal for supernatural things..."

We congratulate ourselves on how "civilized" we've become. How tolerant. But we forget that lukewarness is the Devil in disguise. Do we hate sin and error? If not, then we do not really love God. Our love of God is a sham, a counterfeit, a fraud. It is not without reason that God will say to the lukewarm: "I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3: 16).

Which will we embrace: a harmless religion which makes no demands (a natural religion which prepares the way for the Man of Sin) or a supernatural faith which unites burning zeal for truth with love of neighbor? Do we even understand what charity consists of? If not, we should reflect very carefully on 1822 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Natural religion, harmless religion, is the religion of Antichrist. This is the seduction of our time: we are overwhelmed by a culture which exhorts us to be "reasonable." To be "tolerant." But, as Pope Benedict XVI writes (in his book Jesus of Nazareth): "If we had to choose today, would Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, the son of the Father, have a chance? Do we really know Jesus at all? Do we understand him? Do we not perhaps have to make an effort, today as always, to get to know him all over again? The tempter is not so crude as to suggest to us directly that we should worship the devil. He merely suggests that we opt for the reasonable decision, that we choose to give priority to a planned and thoroughly organized world, where God may have his place as a private concern but must not interfere in our essential purposes..." (p. 41).
"Be reasonable," our culture says: "Don't rock the boat, what do you care if a woman wants to have an abortion? After all, that's her affair. You should stop being so fanatical and intolerant. You believe life is sacred? Good, but keep your beliefs in your Church." And: "Why shouldn't people of the same sex be married? Stop denying them their civil rights. You are being judgmental. After all, God is love."
The Pope has said it. The Devil merely suggests that we opt for the reasonable decision. But we do so at the price of apostasy.


Sanctus Belle said...

We have more to fear from lukewarm Catholics who are of the spirit of capitulation and tolerance than we do from the most rabid atheists.

You can see a wolf coming to devour you - but how do you see the wolf in sheep's clothing before it is too late? We must stay awake and keep watch!

Eric said...

That spirit of tolerance was on display at Kennedy's funeral where Cardinal Sean and the pastor of Mission Church welcomed "our brother and friend." But to devout Catholics who objected to a scandalous funeral for one of the nation's foremost dissidents with regard to Church teaching on abortion and homosexuality, the Cardinal became angry. He accused us of being angry and judgmental.

The reasonable choice.

Heaven help the Church in Boston.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Fr. Richard McBrien is now suggesting that Eucharistic Adoration is a needless devotion:

This is the same dissident priest whose syndicated column appeared every week in The Catholic Free Press until the Spring of 1998.

I led a campaign to have his column removed from that newspaper. Bishop Timothy J. Harrington would tell me that he felt Fr. McBrien's columns stimulated thought and that there was nothing in them that was problematic. This was years before the US Bishops warned that Fr. McBrien was not a faithful theologian and that there were serious problems with his book "Catholicism."

I had been saying the same thing for years.

But hey, what do we lay people know right? How dare we question thiings and express our concerns? How dare we believe that we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ and that, by virtue of our Baptism, we have a role in evangelization? Who do we think we are?

I mean gosh darn, this might catch on. The laity might actually come to understand that they too have a share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of Christ Jesus.

And we can't have that can we?

(Sigh)....Maybe one day people will actually read the documents of Vatican II?

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Someone has asked me why I posted the image of fire with this Blog post. One of my favorite scriptures is Hebrews 12: 29: "Our God is a consuming fire."

Think about that. Pray on it. What a marvellous mystery. And small wonder He hates lukewarmness. A consuming fire..the Shekinah Glory.

Our God is so wonderful.

Giving it to god said...

my husband he has annoyed me some lately but I've just kept quiet. There's people near me that are protesting abortions at the "planned parenthood" building ---- I happen to think they are doing a good thing protesting abortions, but my husband everytime we drive by them says "I wish I could throw a egg at them" etc. those sorts of remarks. Tolerating everything would be bad. I am stoked to have a zeal to not do wrong things, not only not support wrong things like the abortions of babies, but to be zealous to not uh sin : )

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Dear GivingittoGod,

Through prayer your husband will come around. Remind him of what St. Francis de Sales (a Doctor of the Church) says in his Introduction to the Devout Life Part III, Ch. 29: "It is an act of charity to cry out against the wolf when he is among the sheep."

It is also important to remember that our zeal, which stems from Fortitude, must be accompanied by another Cardinal Virtue: Temperance.

Vatican II (specifically Gaudium et Spes, No. 28), formulates the prohibition against judging others: "God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason he forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone." See also Saint Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologica - S.t., 2-2, q.60, a.2, ad 1).

But here's where so many people (Christians included) become confused: this norm does not preclude judgments regarding an individual's words, ideas and actions and whether these hold up when placed in the Lumen Christi (Light of Christ). We are free to judge these. We are not free to judge another's internal guilt or culpability. In that sense, God alone is judge.

I like what Fulton John Sheen said once. A Catholic has a cool head and a warm heart. Zeal balanced by charity and temperance.

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