Friday, December 12, 2008
Greetings. Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. If you are not aware of her story please go to Google and search it. There are many, many websites that are much more informative and insightful than I would be. It is a remarkable event in history and Our Blessed Mother continues to reveal to a sinful world the need to repent and turn towards her loving and merciful Son, who is our only means to salvation. The need of repentance is one of the three, what I may call "hallmarks" for a lack of a better term, of the Catholic Church. They are often missing in our separated Christian brethren. This is not intended to slam or denounce those outside of the Catholic Church. It is intended for thoughtful dialogue. I make no claims to be a theologian nor a Biblical scholar. My sole basis for this discussion is strictly from my Catholic heritage, namely what I learned growing up Catholic. I fully support the Catechism's view that "Catholics must gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments for our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren..." "Nor should we forget anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can contribute for our own edification." I have witnessed a movement in many Protestant denominations towards what I call "feel good" Christianity. Preachers play up God's enormous love and His faithfulness. The congregation can live life "abundantly" if they respond by their faithfulness. Of course like many issues in the Protestant world the term "abundantly" can mean anything and more than often is used a panacea for whatever ails you. I can't speak for other countries but in the USA where many people look to the government for the solution to their woes this belief that God wants you to be successful, wealthy, etc is a tidy fit, a companion safety net. If the government can't take care of your needs God will. I personally have no faith whatsoever in what the government can and will do for me. I do believe that God does provide for me and Jesus himself taught us to pray "for our daily bread". We should look to our Heavenly father for our needs but as Paul Harvey says there is "the rest of the story". I rarely hear the word repentance from these ministers, lest they disturb the congregation. I know the concept is in the Bible so they can't blame that on it being a Catholic thing. Yeah, I know there is this thing about being justified by faith. Sin is a dirty word. It is a dirty word for Catholics too! It has been through the modern times diluted to mean "only really bad things" you know what they are. Sin and the need to repent is the first "hallmark". G. K. Chesterton noted that, and I am paraphrasing , it's not how saintly saints are but how human they are. They recognize the sinfulness, where as we don't. The second hallmark is obedience. Christ was obedient to His Father's will. Jesus said, "If you love me you will obey my commandments". We can find the concept of obedience in Genesis, Adam & Eve disobey God in the Garden of Eden. Satan and his fallen angels are cast out of heaven for disobeying God. Abraham is asked to sacrifice his own son and is rewarded for his obedience. Catholics understand (or should understand) that obedience to the Magisterium is that same obedience that Jesus had for His Father's will. Of course the Protestants rejected the Church and now no such obedience exists. We can find all kinds of stories that the Church is one thing or another and the Pope is the Antichrist. Our nation was founded on rejection and revolution. There was a prevailing attitude in our country of "rugged individualism, you know, "you can't tell me what to do and how to live". That kind of attitude makes it easy to blame the Church, blame the Pope, blame anybody who reminds you that God established the order and the means to salvation. American's just don't enjoy taking orders. This explains the plethora of protestant denominations, if the church don't fit start a new one. The third "hallmark" is mystery. I believe that as you better know and love God you realize that there are many mysteries in our faith and that it's is exactly how God wants it. Let me set the record straight here, the Wisdom of God and the wisdom of man are not the same. God is all knowing, omnipotent, Creator of all things, the maker of heaven and earth and of things seen and unseen, always was, always will be. There are many things we "puny minded" humans cannot grasp intellectually. Guess what? That's OK. We have many mysteries to ponder. Our faith cannot be totally answered by Biblical interpretation. Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mysterious to me! The Holy Trinity. Mysterious to me! His redemption. A mystery! That the Creator would become one of us and be a tiny, little helpless baby whose arm's could not reach the animals that were surrounding Him in the stable. That's a mystery! That He would love me, a worthless, sinful man and love me unconditionally, that He would pursuit me! A mystery!
Posted by Paul Bernacchio at 8:55 AM