“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through… We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel, of Christ versus the anti-Christ… It is a trial… of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization, with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.” —Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (JOHN PAUL II ), at the Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, PA; August 13, 1976; cf. Catholic Online (confirmed by Deacon Keith Fournier who was in attendance) “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through… We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel, of Christ versus the anti-Christ… It is a trial… of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization, with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.” —Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (JOHN PAUL II ), at the Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, PA; August 13, 1976; cf. Catholic Online (confirmed by Deacon Keith Fournier who was in attendance)
We are now facing the final confrontation
between the Church and the anti-Church,
of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel,
of Christ versus the anti-Christ…
It is a trial… of 2,000 years of culture
and Christian civilization,
with all of its consequences for human dignity,
individual rights, human rights
and the rights of nations.
—Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (JOHN PAUL II ), Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, PA,
August 13, 1976; cf. Catholic Online
WE are living in an hour where nearly the entire Catholic culture of 2000 years is being rejected, not only by the world (which is to be somewhat expected), but by Catholics themselves: bishops, cardinals, and laity who believe the Church needs to “updated”; or that we need a “synod on synodality” in order to rediscover the truth; or that we need to agree with the ideologies of the world in order to “accompany” them.
At the very heart of this apostasy from Catholicism is a rejection of the Divine Will: God’s order set forth in the natural and moral law. Today, Christian morality is not just shirked and mocked as backwards but is considered unjust and even criminal. So-called “wokism” has become a veritable…
…dictatorship of relativism that recognizes nothing as definite, and which leaves as the ultimate measure only one’s ego and desires. Having a clear faith, according to the credo of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. Yet, relativism, that is, letting oneself be tossed and ‘swept along by every wind of teaching’, appears the sole attitude acceptable to today’s standards. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI) pre-conclave Homily, April 18th, 2005
Cardinal Robert Sarah has rightly framed this “revolt” from Christianity from within as akin to the betrayal of Christ by His own apostles.
Today the Church is living with Christ through the outrages of the Passion. The sins of her members come back to her like strikes on the face… The Apostles themselves turned tail in the Garden of Olives. They abandoned Christ in His most difficult hour… Yes, there are unfaithful priests, bishops, and even cardinals who fail to observe chastity. But also, and this is also very grave, they fail to hold fast to doctrinal truth! They disorient the Christian faithful by their confusing and ambiguous language. They adulterate and falsify the Word of God, willing to twist and bend it to gain the world’s approval. They are the Judas Iscariots of our time. —Catholic Herald, April 5th, 2019; cf. The African Now Word
A Barrier… or Bulwark?
Beneath this cultural revolution is the age-old lie that God’s Word exists to limit and enslave us — that the teachings of the Church are like a fenceline forbidding humanity to explore the outer regions of “true happiness.”
God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die!” (Genesis 3:3-4)
But who would say that the barriers around, say, the Grand Canyon, are meant to enslave and impinge upon human freedom? Or are they there precisely to guide and preserve one’s capacity to behold beauty? A bulwark rather than barrier?
Even after the fall of Adam and Eve, the goodness of God’s will was so evident, laws were not even necessary at first:
…during the first times of the history of the world up to Noah, the generations had no need of laws, and there were no idolatries, nor diversity of languages; rather, all recognized their one God and had one language, because they cared more about my Will. But as they kept moving away from It, idolatries arose and evils became worse. This is why God saw the necessity of giving His laws as preservers for the human generations. —Jesus to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, September 17, 1926 (Vol. 20)
So even then, the law was not given to impede the freedom of man but precisely to preserve it. As Jesus said, “everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.”John 8:34 On the other hand, He said “the truth will set you free.”John 8:32 Even King David figured this out:
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for that is my delight. (Psalms 119:35)
Happy are those whose conscience does not reproach them… (Sirach 14:2)
The Path of Life
In his beautiful teachings on the “splendor of truth”, St. John Paul II begins by laying out the battleground for our mind and souls:
This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging “the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25). Man’s capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself. —Veritatis Splendour, n. 1
And yet, he reminds us that “no darkness of error or of sin can totally take away from man the light of God the Creator. In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it.” Therein lies the kernel of hope of why we, who are called to the missionary battlefield in our times, must never become discouraged in witnessing to others the message of salvation. The innate draw toward the truth is so pervasive in the heart of man “by his search for the meaning of life“,Veritatis Splendour, n. 1 that our duty to become “the light of the world”Matt 5:14 is only that much more crucial, the darker it becomes.
But John Paul II says something far more revolutionary than wokism:
Jesus shows that the commandments must not be understood as a minimum limit not to be gone beyond, but rather as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection, at the heart of which is love (cf. Col 3:14). Thus the commandment “You shall not murder” becomes a call to an attentive love which protects and promotes the life of one’s neighbour. The precept prohibiting adultery becomes an invitation to a pure way of looking at others, capable of respecting the spousal meaning of the body… —Veritatis Splendour, n. 14
Rather than viewing the commandments of Christ (developed in the Church’s moral teaching) as a fence we constantly butt up against, as boundaries to be tested or limits to be pushed, God’s Word should be seen as a path along which we travel toward authentic freedom and joy. As my friend and author Carmen Marcoux once said, “Purity is not a line we cross, it is a direction we go.”
So, too, with any moral imperative or Christian “law.” If we are constantly asking the question “How much is too much,” we are facing the fenceline, not the path. The question should be, “In which direction can I run with joy!”
If you want to know what contentment and peace look like by following God’s will, consider the rest of creation. The planets, the Sun and Moon, the oceans, the birds of the air, the animals of the fields and forests, the fish… there is a harmony and order there by simple obedience to the instinct and place God has given them. But we were created, not with instinct, but a free will that gives us the glorious opportunity to choose to love and know God, and thus, enjoy full communion with Him.
This is the message the world desperately needs to hear and see in us: that God’s commandments are the path to life, to freedom — not an obstruction to it.
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. (Psalms 16:11)
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