Tribulation Times


June 1, 2011  


CARDINAL SARAH: "Undoubtedly, since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI has considered this 'religious indifference' and 'silent apostasy' as the major challenge the Church has to take up today in her relations with the modern world. Therefore, he is more determined than ever to make our minds more aware and our faith more visible and more active, in order to show the world that the Church's mission is deeply rooted in faith in God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

THEOLOGY FOR THE LAITY: Cafeteria Catholics

EDITORIAL: I do believe in God, but…

If I were presenting a talk show and a member of the audience begins to express an opinion on a known scientific or geographical fact, I would certainly stop him/her from continuing further. I would not accept someone saying "They say that the world is round but my opinion is that it is flat" or "We were taught that two and two are four but my opinion…"

Similarly, I would also interrupt anyone who starts saying "I do believe in God, but…" because the proclamation "I believe" means I accept all the truths about God revealed to us, even though there may be some of these truths that I cannot understand fully (mysteries).

"… in God" means the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the Almighty; Creator of heaven and earth; God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Three Persons in one God; God the Father revealed to us through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures; the Son, Jesus Christ, who came on earth to redeem and save us; the same son who was born of the Virgin Mary, died for us on the cross and rose again from the dead; the 

Ascension of Christ

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Holy Spirit, who fills people with His seven gifts and turns weak, illiterate and humble men into courageous apostles full of divine wisdom.

Our Lord Jesus Christ ordered the members of His Church to "go and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Those who believe and are baptised will be saved (heaven); those who do not believe will be condemned (hell). The sins of those you forgive on this earth will be forgiven in heaven; the sins of those you do not forgive on this earth will not be forgiven in heaven".

So the statement "I believe" includes the acceptance of Christ's teachings and of the Catholic Church as the only authority to interpret these teachings.

One day, when Jesus Christ was preaching, He said: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Many disciples could not take this teaching and left Him. So Jesus turned to his apostles and said: "Do you also want to go?" And Peter replied: "To whom do you want us to go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life". Although the apostles could not understand what this statement meant, they had the patience to wait for the Last Supper, where Jesus Christ showed them the manner in which He was to become our spiritual sustenance and eternal salvation.

There is no compromise in Christ's teachings. The same applies when Peter tried to interfere with the will of the eternal Father that Christ had to suffer and die on the cross. Here, Christ chides Peter for letting sentiment cloud his judgement. Peter is called Satan for tempting Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem and the crucifixion.

In the same way, there cannot be any compromise with any of the articles in the Creed which we pronounce every Sunday during Holy Mass.

So, if anyone says to me: "I believe in God but not in the Catholic Church or the virginity of Our Lady or Jesus Christ, etc," I will reply: "You may be sincere in your statement but I am afraid you are wrong. You either believe in a god other than the one outlined above or else you do not understand what the word 'believe' fully entails. If you wish to remain a committed Christian, you are invited to rediscover the richness of the Christian faith, some aspects of which you might have forgotten. If you truly believe in God, then you have to believe in heaven, hell, the Catholic Church, the virginity of Our Lady, Holy Communion, confession to a priest and, in short, all the other articles of the Creed."

"I believe" is a package. One cannot pick and choose at random from this package (what some are now referring to as the supermarket syndrome), accepting what I like and discarding what does not tickle my fancy. One either accepts the whole package or none at all.

"But am I not supposed to follow my conscience," some might rightly ask. Rather than expressing my ideas I would like to offer those of an expert in the field – Richard M. Gula – who, in his book Moral Discernment, states among other things:

"If we are going to grow in our loving relationship with God and neighbour then we need to discern what is truly loving. Conscience is our capacity for making such discernment."

We must not confuse conscience with the superego. The superego is like a recording in our heads reminding us of all that we should do in the process of growing up under the influence of authority figures. It commands us to act for the sake of gaining approval or out of fear of losing love. The wants of conscience look to personalised and internalised values or acquired virtues.

Conscience responds to an invitation of love and is oriented towards the future – "the person one ought to become". In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself but which holds him to obedience. Man has in his heart a law written by God. In fact, conscience is the place where God speaks to us.

However, the obligation to follow conscience presupposes that we have properly formed our conscience. This is a lifelong task and an ongoing process of conversion. We are often blinded by sin to recognise moral truth all by ourselves. So we have to consult the established sources of wisdom. For a Catholic, these sources include our own experience and those of others around us; the testimony of the sacred scriptures and our creeds; the moral instruction of the teaching office (magisterium) of the Pope and the bishops: this office carries a weight of truth for Catholics that no other teacher can rightfully claim; and the informed judgement of theologians who are in communion with the Church's magisterium.

What we do ultimately shapes our character.

US CATHOLIC: Is there a list of infallible teachings?
LINK: Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio fidei

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

29. Do not say, after spending a long time at prayer, that nothing has been gained; for you have already gained something. And what higher good is there than to cling to the Lord and persevere in unceasing union with Him.

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