Servus Fidelis ~ The Faithful Servant

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam ~ For the Greater Glory of God

Servus Fidelis Has a New Home ~ NewsforCatholics.info

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All of the articles that appeared in Servus Fidelis have now been exported to www.newsforcatholics.info which incorporates the contents of this blog with interactive news and ongoing blog posts now appearing at the new site.

Please join us there and don’t forget to subscribe to the new site so that you won’t miss out on any of the latest blog posts or news articles that are posted daily.

Join us. We will be happy to see you there.

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Look forward to your participation in writing, discussion and debate.

Thank you for your past support.

Servus Fidelis

Shangri La-sur-Loire

More interesting thoughts on the Benedict Option.

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shangri la by sonja christoph

The chances are that you are reading this because you want to know what the odd title means. I will come to that presently but first I want to talk about cults. The word has acquired a sinister connotation in modern English but its Latin original cultusmeans  “care, labour; cultivation, culture; worship, reverence.”  It retains something of that meaning in French so Anglophone visitors to Francophone regions are sometimes bemused to see references to the culte Catholique. We can see that culture, cultivation and religious cult share a common root of some kind. I would suggest that community is an implied component of the concept “cult.” People come together to produce culture and worship (also crops but that’s not my interest here.) That is, however much individual creative work an artist may produce or however intense a person’s particular spiritual life may be they do so as…

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Sorry for my short break in blogging

I’ve been working on revamping an old news website: News for Catholics. It has a feature where you can write a post/opinion piece or article and submit on the site as an editorial. It will appear in posts and in the editorial tab where people can discuss the post. It also has many links to news and opinion pieces from the secular news to Cathoic news and blogs etc. Id be interested in your feedback: what could make it better, what you like, what you don’t like etc. Let me know.

Did Christ Establish a Church with an Expiration Date?

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There is a popular and recurrent theme amongst many non-Catholic Christians that the promises given to Peter and Christ’s gift to him of the keys (to bind and loose), is not indicative of an office per se but a one time gift to Peter and that when Peter died so did the keys vanish with him. Likewise, using the same logic, the powers given to the Apostles after Christ breathed on them and gave them the power to forgive sins was also buried with them at their deaths. Thereby, any Christian Church is no better than any other as nobody has a special gift of the Holy Spirit to lead them to all truths. It died when the apostles died and its a great way to avoid any notion of there being any reliable and lasting authority in the practice and teaching of Christianity no matter the claims.

I like to be logical about these things so here is what bothers me about such notions.

If that is the case then all churches have become corrupted in their belief, teachings and their practices; as fallen creatures, men have a habit of doing that. There is thereby no inerrant authority to pronounce on a doctrine and there is no authority to stop the next generation from altering or actually opposing what was taught previously. There is neither a way to evaluate one church against another nor the changes that are on-going that may and do overturn previous teaching. It is simply ‘growth’ and ‘development’ due to the times and each church has a right to do as it sees fit. Even if people sit up and claim that they are not syncretists or believers in relativism it is all that is left unless an authority is still alive and working in this world.

If we believe that Christ sent us the Holy Spirit to dwell in the Church and to lead it to all Truth then Christ let us down or the Holy Spirit decided to lead a large variety of separate beliefs even though they hold contrary doctrines and teachings. That would make the Holy Spirit capable of blessing the notion that 2+2=4 in one church and 2+2=5 in another church or any other novel answer that a church might come up with. Now that kind of authority is not authority at all but permissiveness which claims that error is on a par with truth. And I doubt that is what Christ had in mind when He said that He would not leave us as orphans; can it really mean that he’ll support whatever anybody wants to believe in their own version of Christianity?

Sadly, if these gifts died with the Apostles, then the Nicene Creed and the Canon of Scripture were simply unauthorized man-made decisions that have no actual authority to compel one to believe them. And if we do somehow believe these for some personal reason, there is no authoritative reason that each of us should understand and interpret their meaning in the same way. A free for all ensues religiously and we are really no better off than the personal preferences that the pagans had for the gods of their choice. We are free to do as we like and nobody is right and nobody is wrong. Its only defensible in as good as are the apologists of each particular church or individual if they think that a personal belief, without a church, is all that is needed. In fact, if the church has no authority, then these people without a church are the most honest of all Christians.

Furthermore, is there then an expiration date on the necessity of Baptism, or of Belief and is it enough to say that God is Love and Mercy and that nobody will suffer loss and that all will find heavenly beatitude? For we can refer to Scripture and interpret our new form of Christianity based upon our personal preferences. For me; I think I very much like the idea that we all go to heaven and nobody will suffer. But others are free to make up their own minds and who is to say that they are wrong. Certainly not an authority that had a very short expiration date which died with the apostles. So, Who am I to judge?

It is very alluring to think that because we hold certain truths in common that the churches are basically the same. And without a clear authority that is the only conclusion one could rationally come up with if we are to believe that Christianity is not a hoax even though Christ did renege on His promises to the apostles and to the Church He founded.

So I chose the Catholic Church and think that it is still the Church that continues to have the authority that was vested in Peter and the apostles. For if it no longer exists then Christianity in my mind no longer is believable and is totally devoid of any veracity that it may once have had. In fact it is proven logically to have been a sham.

Thank God, however, the dogmas and teachings of the Catholic faith are never overturned and continue to operate from their inclusion into our body of faith, until the end of time as we know it. We do not one day wake up and decide that contraception is now OK, or that same sex marriage is now acceptable. We argue these issues and there are some who would love to change our teachings; but alas, they can’t. It is the protection of the authoritative nature that I would have expected the Church founded by Christ to have built into Her very DNA. And that is why I am Catholic. For without this assurance I am not sure that I would believe anything at all.

The Novus Ordo Liturgy: of the world, by the world and for the world

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Annibale Bugnini (a suspected freemason) with the approval of Pope Paul VI, reformed and presented the Church with a new liturgy whose rubrics (directions) were so minimal and loose that it allowed for experimentation. This left the door open for the emergence of an egalitarian and social justice element to flourish within the Church. And now after 50 years of experimentation we have a novel (and very fluid) liturgy which aligns itself more with the spirit of ecclesial anarchy than it does with the obedience to faith: no two Masses need ever be the same . . . each can and probably will be unique to the parish and the priest who celebrates the Mass. What the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, (the Eucharistic Feast, understood as the Source and Summit of our entire faith), had been, is now in most instances unrecognizable. We have a largely manufactured Mass for the first time in our history (with only the slightest pretense of organic development from the previous liturgies) and what it has quickly morphed into over the last 50 years would be difficult to defend . . . even by Pope Paul VI. But we can find myriads of defenses for everything that is contained therein even though it was never promulgated as we now experience it. Every aberration is fervently defended or conveniently overlooked in an effort to explain away the obvious loss of virility, vitality and effectiveness that once was the Catholic’s mainstay and fortress of the faith. It proves difficult to approve, accept and support many of these ‘popular changes’ on an intellectual or even a spiritual basis as there is no Ecclesial approval or mandate for them. And yet these same novelties are the hill upon which many a Catholic would choose to die. We must remind ourselves that legitimacy (validity is not being questioned) is not the same as good taste or a reverent treatment of what is purportedly Holy: a baptism performed by a clown with a squirt gun could be valid but certainly irreverent and severely lacking of the dignity that the sacrament deserves.

This most sublime and essential element of the Faith and well-being of the Catholic Church as well as the spiritual development of each individual has been put to the test for many a worldly desire. And the promoters of these changes are often those who are not in a true sense Catholic as many reject much of the Church’s defined teachings. in extreme cases there are even those who are desirous to destroy the faith as we have known it. These same destructive forces have gained increasing strength whilst the faithful have become weak; some losing their faith entirely. Many faithful Catholics are also disillusioned and are quickly falling into a malaise of sorts; feeling utterly helpless, hopeless and impotent in their inadequate efforts to confront the leadership (or lack thereof) to restore what is rightfully theirs by Canon Law. For it is the progressive activists who claim leadership roles in many dioceses’ and seem to think it is more important that their vision of the New and better Church is superior than that which the Holy Spirit guides to its appointed end. They believe that their goal is inspired by the Holy Spirit and should be more properly accepted and valued within both the collective social and religious movements of the world. Thereby they readily utilize many secular ideals which arose from the social justice and social activism prevalent in our day; at the peril of the real Gospel. These activists claim victimhood (as they make claim that they are disenfranchised) and desire to lead the Church into a new Springtime. This secular influence seems rooted in our worldly notions of egalitarianism . . . the new unassailable, undeclared doctrine to which every practice and belief must now bow lest it be sacrificed upon the altar of inclusiveness, tolerance to sin and the principles of secular social justice and attendant ideologies. Sadly, many well-meaning Catholics, who simply wish to follow the Church have fallen for their activism and march in-step with these facilitators for a reformed Church.

To listen to the defenders of the Novus Ordo is to hear that we are overly attached to this little thing or that little thing and that each change is simply a personal preference and is of no real importance: these are just window dressing; and the people seem to like these changes. They will then tell you that the centrality of the Eucharist, to which we fully assent, is the most important part of the Mass and that these little things are not important enough to be of any consequence. That would be true if these small things did not jeopardize and weaken our beliefs and redirect our minds from Christ to the world; thus we are being cajoled and led toward more important issues; chief amongst them is heresy and apostasy which can be seen quite openly amongst many of our laity today. Our self-serving attitudes have allowed many to pick and choose (by their own ‘inner light’) what they wish to hold as beliefs that must be accepted. Same sex marriage and contraception are two such teachings that are routinely rejected by the ‘faithful’ within this new Church brought up and fed by the Novus Ordo Rite.

So where are the rubrics for the Novus Ordo coming from or do they even exist? Nobody in Rome said to say Mass ad populum, nor did they say to stop saying Mass in Latin or to purge the music of Gregorian and sacred polyphony . . . quite the opposite. No one ordered the altar rails removed, the kneelers removed or the tabernacle veil to be removed. Who said that we ‘must’ offer Communion under both kinds? The Vatican II documents said that it was a more complete sign but did not make it a rule. Nobody wrote a rubric that said it is now OK to speak before, during and after Mass or to clap for the choirs latest rendition of Lord of the Dance. Though the Vatican did say that they could find no reason to prevent girls from serving at the altar (done while Pope Saint John Paul II was recovering in the hospital from a broken hip) there is no mandate to allow them to do such. Extraordinary ministers and lectors were not forced upon us by Rome  but they showed up anyway: first as men, then as women. Who started the holding of hands for the Our Father? Who started the people raising their hands like priests to bless things and at the epiclesis etc.? Thank God a bishop in Coventry, KY put a stop to this within his diocese; the first one as far as I know. See this link: http://www.praytellblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2011-Pastoral-Letter-with-Decree-Bulletin-Insert.pdf  Why is it that most parishes only teach the children and the converts to receive in their hands when this method of reception is only an indult and not the ordinary method of reception? It seems that the activists and the compliant priests and theologians have foisted these changes upon us. Is that really how the development of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is supposed to be done; by the people who attend or those who are the celebrants?

I know, I know . . . little things . . . nothing to see here. A hand full of dirt from enough people will create a mountain or turn a mountain into a plain. The lines, once clear and distinct, between the priest and the people has almost disappeared. A blurring of the roles between the priest and the laity is so complete that women think they should be able to be priestesses. We commune ourselves from the consecrated chalice . . . once the private reserve of the priest with His consecrated hands (of no importance now) and the Altar Boys who assisted him with great reverence. We commune ourselves with the Eucharistic bread placed in our hands as though we are worthy to ‘take’ communion rather than to ‘receive’ communion because Christ has deigned to invite us sinners (absolved from serious sin) to this Heavenly Banquet. The polls show that all these little things have amounted to a laity that largely does not believe in the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation and a large number think it only symbolic. It is no longer a privilege to receive the Blessed Body and Blood of our Lord but a right and an entitlement: reminiscent to what charity to the poor has become once the secular world took over the ministry of ‘helping’ the poor . . . who’s misery index has risen ever since. And the retreat from saying the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ad orientem has reinforced the laities inclination to see themselves as the center of attention rather than Our Lord. Is there any wonder why we no longer recognize the Kingship of Christ and never hesitate to heap laud and honor upon ourselves?

The use of inclusive language and the egalitarian push for equal roles for women in the Church was only the beginning. We are already beginning to see that we will be invaded by every self-proclaimed ‘victim’ group who wants to cry foul. Many men now feel that there is no place for them in the Novus Ordo Mass and it is why they have largely abandoned the pews for the football games on Sunday. If the women are now able to be ushers, lectors, extraordinary ministers and such then men are not going to participate in this coed Rite; for men respond to needs, duty, honor and the like. That is the clarion call for men . . . not to ‘participate’ as a cheerleader for the equality of women as in a social experiment. The altar boys will take after their dads and feel no obligation to serve at Mass unless the parish makes it a requirement to get Confirmed; and after Confirmation they will stay at home with dad and watch football. Gone are the old, cherished and manly Knights of the Altar as founded by St. John Bosco. However, there is a new guild of Our Lady’s Knights of the Altar which was begun by Cardinal Burke in 2008 and it is spreading. But without the support of a traditional Latin Mass which has strict controls on the ‘little things’ within the rubrics it will not be enough for the faith to return nor will there be a draw for men and the boys who might want to consider a vocation to the priesthood or to a religious order. The manliness, prestige, honor and duty of such a life is quickly disappearing. See the following article for a deeper discussion of this: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-devirilization-of-liturgy-in-novus.html   We can say all the prayers we want at Mass for priestly vocations and they will not produce fruit unless one actually provides an avenue that attracts young men to serve in such a lofty role. But then again, if we can’t get boys who want to be priests there are plenty of feminist activists who are eager to oblige and are praying for the men and boys to flee. And if you look at things from their modernist, progressivist, activist position . . . it all makes complete sense in its own diabolical way. The Church has largely stopped dictating Her morality and teachings to the world and now it is the intention of these novelty seekers to dictate their activist ideology within the Church. We once received the worldly to transform them in Christ and now it seems that the world, having entered our house, is transforming us.

Straight talk about immigration: a short 6 minute video

Seems like we are on a fools errand. The mathematics simply don’t work and therefore, it seems to me that the purpose that is driving this phenomena is related more to politics (gaining a new constituency) than it is for humanitarian reasons. What do you think?

Does the Old Testament Matter?

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Did God create a covenant with the Jews and did He found a church and make of the Jewish People the Chosen Ones or not? If not, then the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses is a fairy tale and the Decalogue a mere fabrication without any meaning at all. It makes no difference to you that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt or that God instituted a hierarchy and a priesthood and led them through the wilderness of this world to a land of milk and honey. Are you sure you wish to throw out the prophets and the psalms of David and the foreshadowing or models of the reformed Church and the NT practices that Christ instituted and commissioned in His own Blood? It is still the work of God and it is the nature of revelation that it should unfold and blossom. Every blossom of beauty starts with a seed; God’s words are not without significance in any age. His instructions are not arbitrarily dismissed until or unless God makes the change and abrogates one practice for another. Let us also not confuse the Law and the law. The small letter law seems to be more like what we call practice; which should reflect the Laws of God and bring them to life in the living of the people from day to day.

Without an understanding of the richness of the OT you will never have a proper understanding of the NT. All of the new testament reiterates and quotes passages from the old. You can hardly read a single book in the NT that does not do this and note that they speak with great honor and respect for what their God has done for them. You would throw out all that which is not in keeping with modern evolution of thought or all that is not based in a mere historical record by men. Your faith would be impoverished by its lack of understanding of the development of Christianity whose roots go back to prehistoric times.

Was Christ wrong to follow the Law of the Jews?  There is no escaping His Jewishness. He did not come to change a jot or a tittle of the Law and yet He did throw out the extraneous dross that had built up within the faith and abrogated many practices (the law) which were no longer appropriate. He interpreted the OT so that it is understandable and thus the OT sheds light on Christ and lives its history in expectation of His arrival.

Parsing the works of God is an impoverished faith without roots and without meaning; and it misses much of the workings of the One True God . . . as in a world bereft of the OT, He is a God that cannot get things right and makes mistakes and does not meet the modern enlightened thoughts of men of our enlightened times.

God to the modern enlightened and moral superior age that we live in, is cruel and unforgiving and violent and yet there is another way of reading the OT. Is there anything more beautiful than the Song of Songs or anything worth gaining from a reading of the Psalms and Proverbs or the book of Wisdom? Is the history of the maturation and corruption by men of God’s Church not a lesson worth studying and learning from? It is a totality that cannot be avoided. It is like chucking your grandparents from your family tree because you are of a different age and understanding of things than they were.

Headlines: God makes a big mistake and tells the Jewish people that He will be their God and that they will be His people. Since we think that the OT is not befitting our New God then He must not be an omniscient God since He makes such fundamental moral, ethical and judgmental errors . . . and so why should you or anyone else accept Him today if He was capable of such big and obvious blunders in the past?

Perhaps more time should be spent looking for the themes (the seeds) of our modern faith and the patience and love God endured on our behalf until such time that He felt that mankind was ready to hear the Word of God in the flesh and complete His plan for our salvation. Give thanks to God for the whole journey of humanity as it was necessary or it would not have occured.

And as to our own sinfulness and disobedience: O happy fault. For it gave to us a most remarkable Redeemer.

What is the Church preoccupied with today?

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The answer seems to be social issues, economic issues and moral issues in relation to the current socio-political agendas. The clarion call is for helping the poor (always of interest to Christians), redistribution of wealth to the poor (not charitable alms, but forced by the state), normalizing sexual taboos (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, same sex marriage, contraception, abortion and the like) and now, of all things, man-made global warming.

The politicians have long used the Christian majority in the US as a means to an end by appealing to our sense of charity and justice. They have tried to make a moral argument for the poor or the less fortunate by theorizing, no matter how blatantly false their reasonings might be, that their policy, programs, laws or regulations will benefit those who are oppressed. Of course every group that is being oppressed is not them . . . as they seem to be thriving; both economically and in terms of special privilege; especially exemptions from their own laws and regulations. So the politicians have made their arguments for socialist governance and Marxist economics as an instrument of equalization which will benefit the down trodden: and whatever group that they are speaking to are, of course, the unfortunates that will be helped by some governmental ‘fix’ for the problem. As always they are quick to point out that their political opponents are responsible for the sufferings and inequality of the prospective voter.

The poor or the disenfranchised are all the talk as is multiculturalism, lifestyle choices, open borders and immigration. It is reflected in everything. To hear them speak, the enemies of the people are the rich, the white Western European men, polluters of all kinds, enforcers of the law, business owners, Christian moralists, gun-toting patriots and all who think that the government should get out of the way so that we might simply work, live our respective lives and prosper or fail. But failure is now being taught to be unacceptable in our society and the redefined role of the government is to get as many people as possible to rely upon the them (through the taxes taken from ordinary working stiffs) to give them food, clothing, shelter and more and more discretionary spending money. In other words we are a bank that hands out loans without being paid back and in fact gives everyone a bigger loan each year to cover inflation and other ‘necessities’ in life.

Now oddly there seems to be a partnership developing of strange bedfellows; the Church and the State. It seems that the Church has been wooed, cajoled or convinced that the governments of the Western World really do have the best interest of the people in mind and and not simply garnering votes to feed their own elitist aggrandizement.

Let’s take a look at what is on the mind of the Church these days.

The Catholic Church has helped Obama in lifting restrictions and sanctions from Communist Cuba. The USCCB and the Vatican are favoring amnesty to illegal trespassers into the US and putting them on the dole and giving them the right to vote. Since when did the Church take a stance against democratically established laws of a nation if they are just?

The Pope’s first encyclical seemed to many as a critical attack on capitalism. Many Christians are clamoring for an increase in the minimum wage, increasing ‘entitlements’ (formerly a charitable gift of welfare checks) for the poor like food stamps and EBT cards that can be traded for anything they want. . . in other words, redistribution of wealth. Most  Christians support the government on issues such as raising taxes on corporations and the rich and stifling regulations on businesses and communities under the guise of the man-made global warming hoax. Each of these will eliminate jobs or force businesses to close down costing a loss of the very jobs that we say are needed for the same people the advocates say they are trying to help.

The most often spoken message from our Pope concerns the poor which is a message that has been with us from the beginning and nothing new. We have been doing our part to help the poor for over 2000 years . . . and without state welfare and entitlements. In the Western world today however, the poor have never been richer or more privileged as they are today. We live twice as long as we did a century ago and that age keeps increasing. We have better access to medicine, to good food, to amenities like cars, electric lights, indoor plumbing, and air conditioning that even the very rich of 200 years ago could not even have dreamt. But, in the West, those on the extremities (below our arbitrary poverty line) are usually there because of choices which they made in life; most importantly to have children out of wedlock and to throw away their opportunity of a free public education even though it was provided at the expense of the government (the tax payers).

What is the strangest in all of this is not only the synergy of each of these things to actually hurt the people they claim to want to help but also the negative effect each of these will have to the nuclear family. The moral issues such as adultery, fornication, abortion etc. all are anti-family as are these new ‘alternative lifestyles’ and the attempt to normalize them. The higher minimum wages only encourage people to remain in a starter job meant for high school students and retired folks. The same is true of the ‘entitlement’ culture which has destroyed any desire that the poor might possess to actually learn a skill and work for a living. Opening the borders will create an even larger class of poor who are seeking employment where there are many times as many people as there are jobs. So we will put them on the welfare roles and grow the ranks of the people that our tax payers and businesses must support. Businesses can’t grow and new businesses will have too many regulations and taxes facing them to grow faster than the welfare roles. What you are doing is effectively bolstering every problem we face and making sure that the nuclear family as we once knew it will ever return . . . at least not among the welfare roles.

Newsflash for the Church and other Christians who think they are supporting a righteous and good cause: as soon as they are finished using you for your votes and your support, they will sell you and your faith for a song. They have no need of you anymore and you will never fit into their end game. In fact, if you think the war on Christianity is bad, you haven’t even seen a glimmer of the real war that will certainly come against us like a firestorm. The frustration and the hatred that has been stirred up among the classes, races, and genders will eventually explode into violence on a large scale. What is going on with the black communities, stirred up by professional anarchists backed by left wing or Marxists groups are only looking for an excuse to riot, burn and destroy the system. The ultra rich will not worry but the moderately well off folks might start thinking about leaving before the anarchists use them for target practice.

Thank you, Christian and Jewish leaders, socialists and Marxists everywhere (yes the new Marxist Democratic party mostly) for this Brave New World. You will have to be pretty darn brave to live in it the way things are going

A Relevant Church?

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The musty old Church of the Catholic Christians has been called judgmental and misogynistic; so we have made ourselves welcoming to the roles of women and non-judgmental to lifestyles and tolerant of all the new confusing genders that have recently been invented. Since families did not want to come and hear condemnations of their behavior which seemingly judge them personally, making them feel guilty for things such as abortion, contraception or abnormal sinful behavior; we now apply every Bible verse to the relevant topic of being more loving and forgiving of one another. So now we’re called the Church of Nice and so we strive to be. We are nice and we are Church. Why then are so many people leaving this improved version of Christianity? Have we not made enough changes? Is it because we aren’t being nice enough to those who want to have homosexual marriages in the Church or divorced and remarried couples receiving Communion; though only a small minority really believes it to be the Body and Blood of Christ anymore? Perhaps we could be more accommodating . . . by continuing to do more of what hasn’t worked so far.

Christ has been made to be a spiritual Santa Clause of love and forgiveness Who demands nothing to fill our stockings yet nobody believes in Santa anymore. We annul nearly every prior marriage and will forgive any sin in the Sacrament of Penance and nobody wants to go. We have inclusive language and have increased the roles of women but now the men do not even darken the doors of their local parish. We have liturgical dance, folk songs, and tunes with a good beat to engage the young men and women but once they are confirmed into the Church they stay home with dad. Indeed, what is the problem? Can’t you see how the Church has become relevant and concerned with the big issues such as global warming, feeding the poor and social justice? What can we do that would attract more of you to attend: bingo, dances, movies, clowns, sing-a-longs, or maybe a free lunch or breakfast? It must be that we have not changed enough and have not yet rid ourself enough from our old image of rigidity and being too judgmental: but we are told every week how much we have changed and how much more we must change in order to be the pastures where the sheep wish to graze.

I’m afraid that we can’t compete with the secular world in distributing worldly treasures. We keep trying to out give them, to out love them and to show everyone that we are even more tolerant than the world. It is a fool’s errand that we are on. The attraction of things of this world is not what converts hearts and makes good Christians. Making people feel special and stroking their egos is not going to help them strip away a life of self-loving for a life of self-giving. Had it been that simple, we would now have record numbers of Catholics and the whole world would have changed. I’m afraid that what makes a Christian a Christian is the awakening of a small inner voice that condemns them in their sins or that leaves them feeling empty with all the treasures that the world has offered and given them. It is the Faith of our Fathers and the Pearl of Great Price that makes men want to strive to earn it and children to desire it and women to fall in love with it. This is the gift of Christ that cannot be matched by any worldly goods and is being ignored by the teachers of the faith and destroyed by the lover’s of this world. If it isn’t in-season in this world, they won’t preach or teach it and therefore it is not being done. And so, as Scripture tells us, they will “strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Pray the leaders of our Church recognize the problem before only a small remnant remains.

A look at Faith, Morals and Practice

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There is a symmetry that one might even call symbiosis which exits between Faith, Morals and Practice. It might be helpful should we take the time to look at these more closely.

Faith

Religion, starts with matters of Faith which are guarded and taught primarily as a basis or foundation of the underlying reason for submitting oneself to the yoke of religion. This Doctrine of Faith gives man a glimpse into the meaning of life and the end for which the human soul was made as well as the nature and perfection of God and the fallen and miserable state of the human soul. It describes and sets forth the reasons for our misery and the insurmountable chasm between the perfection which is God and the imperfection that is mankind. It delivers to the soul a message of how serious is our sinfulness: serious or grievous sin, smaller less serious sin and even imperfections of things that God would have us do better though they are not of themselves, to the letter of the law, sinful of themselves.

These doctrines help us orient ourselves toward the Light which is God, the Beauty inherent in God’s Love and His ultimate Goodness. It acts as a beacon to that which is immutable and never changing and orders our lives toward the All Good and the Everlasting. These are primarily the thinking and the road map of the Church, given for our edification, as passed down through the ages and which encompass the wisdom of the Saints and the Teachings of our Lord and the History of our Fall and of our Desired Salvation.

Thereby, doctrine is a source for our Faith, our Hope and our Love which becomes the necessary virtues to be gained in this life. Without them, we are left to make the best of our fallen lives in a fallen world in which we have no hope of ever changing before we finally succumb to the inevitability of death in our transitory passage through this world.

So it becomes incumbent on the soul that wishes to escape this goldfish bowl of an existence to gaze through the distorted glass and dream of an existence far more fulfilling than the natural state into which it was born. In fact, it is a means by which we are told, should we do well, leads precisely to the fulfillment of that dream to a life that neither ends nor suffers the natural ills that accompany this transient life which we truly deserve.

Faith lets us know that God is so perfect that, like a goldfish in a bowl, if He were to remove you from this state and take you as you are into His realm, we would die; for the air is much too pure for the gills to endure and the Love is too concentrated for our hearts and minds to bare.

So pointing the soul to live its life for a higher purpose and to develop habits and capacities to love in a way that totally transforms us into children of God seems to be the end for which we were created and the ultimate vocation of each and every soul that God has made. How do we then begin?

First we come to the realization of Who this God is and form a desire or zeal for Him and learn about His Love for us and His plan for our lives; and we love Him for the love of us. Then we are pointed toward a journey intent of eliminating those things within our lives which separate us from our God and try, one by one, to eliminate their hold on us. We begin to feed ourselves on the things of God and on God Himself; He provides all. We become knowingly dependent on His good pleasure to do with us as He will and that our every breath and even our creation is a product of His good will and His love. And since His good will is that we live with Him forever we should do all that is in our power, using the gifts that only He can and will supply us, to attain to that end. It is a vocation that requires all along our way, the proof of our avowed love of Him and our assurance that there is nothing that we would not do to please Him in order to reach the end for which He has made for us.

Morals

Morality is a an outgrowth of love of God. It has as its end the purpose to bring the soul into a more intimate love of God and conversely to discourage the soul from harming its relationship with God. It has as its secondary purpose the education of the soul to its fallen state and its inordinate desire and love of creatures.Thereby, moral teaching creates habits that let us live our lives truthfully, in full knowledge of who we are and Who God is. For God is He who is and I am he who is not, so that we will find that of ourselves we are nothing, or even less than nothing because nothingness does not have the capacity to offend God, though we have only the capacity to sin if left to ourselves.

Therefore all the good that we will must be supplied by Him who is even supplying the willing itself. Therefore the outcome of morality, when used as intended, is to enlighten the soul as to what it really is and to thereby establish a soul in humility; which is seeing the truth about itself. Therefore, the denial of self and the acceptance of Divine Providence is taught us by our practice of the principles found in moral teaching. It sets our feet firmly on the way to dying to self and becoming other Christ’s in this world. So morality is not only avoiding that which is intrinsically bad for us, it is a teacher of our most inner fallen nature. It is a window into our soul.

Morality is a constant reminder that we have not the ability to resist sin and to endure hardships unless we rely on the strength and the love of God for all things.

Practice

Though Faith and Morals are considered Teachings of the Catholic Church which (we have been taught) are infallibly guarded from error by the Holy Ghost, practice is not. That is not to say that practice is of little consequence to the soul who looks to the Church for guidance in this world. For practice should flow from our Teachings and thereby be a reflection to every Catholic soul and perhaps to a lesser extent, to the rest of the world about what we truly believe: our liturgy, our music, our prayers, our alms giving, our care of the poor, our care of the sick and all other aspects of Christian living which come from this body of practices though informed, as it were, from Faith and Morals.

It is not, thereby, unusual that practices are at times confused with our faith or morals and that much of what is discussed at length between differing faiths is often a critique of this realm.

Practices change, as the world has changed to reflect both the intellect and learning of a world that is more literate than it once was (though that might easily be contested). It has also changed due to a shift, largely in developed countries, who have become soft (if I might use that word) in regards to suffering, or self-denial. For today, every small act of discipline, abstinence or self denial is seen as inordinate and far too demanding. We have become obsessed with our own comfort and our own sense of worth and our own sense that we are deserving of something. We have lost the visceral reaction that we might once have had by looking upon a realistic crucifix of the only truly innocent victim of our sins. So if mis-accused of some wrong deed we want the Doctrines to change or the practices to change. If we are inconvenienced, we do not bear the cross with joy but we squirm and complain and demand relief. I wonder if is were so for the not-so-modern Christians of yore. Their yoke was hard already, just eking out a living. And to sacrifice for the good of their souls seemed, perhaps, not that much different from their day to day existence.

I think the Church takes such things into consideration, though for some of us it seems to be a bit too comfortable and conciliatory. Perhaps they are trying to take these weaker souls and wean them off their mother’s breasts and encourage them to take their first steps into the supernatural realm of spiritual warfare and to awaken within them an interior life which they have not yet discovered. It remains to be seen if this strategy will work or fail. For the teachings of the saints are still with us: we only need make ourselves understand what it takes to lay hold of the Pearl of Great Price and then utilize what is already there for the taking.

All Along the Watchtower

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you ... John 13:34

The Latin Community

"You will be my witnesses." Acts 1:8

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