WHAT should be our personal response to the elevating confusion and division surrounding Pope Francis?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus—God incarnate—describes himself in this way:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Jesus was saying that all human history to that point, and from that point on, flowed to and through Him. All religious seeking, which is a seeking after the Transcendent—after life itself—is fulfilled in Him; all truth, no matter its vessel, finds its source in Him, and leads back to Him; and all human action and purpose finds its meaning and direction in Him, the way of love.
In that sense, Jesus did not come to abolish religions, but to fulfill and guide them to their true end. Catholicism, in that sense, is simply the authentic human response (in her teachings, Liturgy, and Sacraments) to revealed truth.
In order to make the Way, Truth, and the Life known to the world, Jesus gathered Twelve Apostles around Him, and for three years, revealed these realities to them. After He suffered, died, and rose from the dead in order “take away our sins” and reconcile humanity to the Father, He then commanded His followers:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matt 28:19-20)
From that moment on, it was clear that mission of the Church was only a continuation of Christ’s ministry. That the Way He taught must become our way; that the Truth He imparted must become our truth; and that all of these lead to the Life we long for.
TWO THOUSAND YEARS LATER…
St. Paul says in today’s first reading:
I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you. (1 Cor 1-2)
What this means is that the Church of today has the responsibility to return again and again to that “which you indeed received.” From whom? From today’s successors to the Apostles, back through the centuries to the councils and popes before them… back to the Early Church Fathers who were the first to develop these teachings, as they were handed on to them from the Apostles… and to Christ Himself who fulfilled the words of the prophets. No one, be he an angel or a pope, can change the immutable truths Christ has imparted.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! (Galatians 1:8)
In centuries of old, when there was no Internet, no printing press, and thus, no catechisms or Bibles for the masses, that Word was passed on orally. 2 Thess 2:15 Remarkably, as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit has guided the Church to all truth.cf. John 16:13 But today, that truth is no longer inaccessible; it is clearly printed in millions of Bibles. And the Catechism, the Councils, and libraries of papal documents and exhortations that authentically interpret the Scriptures, are a mouse click away. Never has the Church been so secure in the truth for the very reason that it is so easily known.
NOT A PERSONAL CRISIS
That is why no Catholic today should be in a personal crisis, that is, confused. Even if the Pope is ambiguous at times; even if the smoke of Satan has begun to billow out of certain Vatican departments; even though certain clergy speak a language foreign to the Gospel; even though the flock of Christ often seems shepherdless… we are not. Christ has provided everything we need at this hour to know the “truth that sets us free.” If there is a crisis at this time, it should not be a personal crisis.
And this is what I have been trying, and perhaps failing to convey over the past five years. Faith… we must have a personal, living and Invincible Faith in Jesus Christ. He is the one building the Church, not the Pope. Jesus is the one whom St. Paul says is…
…the leader and perfecter of faith. (Heb 12:2)
Do you pray every day? Do you receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as frequently as you can? Do you pour your heart out to Him in the confessional? Do you converse with Him in your work, laugh with Him in your play, and cry with Him in your sorrows? If not, then no wonder some of you are indeed having a personal crisis. Turn to Jesus, who is the Vine; for you are a branch, and without Him, “you can do nothing.” cf. John 15:5 God incarnate is awaiting to strengthen you with open arms.
Several months ago, I was so happy to (finally) read an article in the Catholic media that conveyed a proper balance. Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement, stated:
Christians should bear in mind that it is Christ who guides the history of the Church. Therefore, it is not the Pope’s approach that destroys the Church. This is not possible: Christ does not allow the Church to be destroyed, not even by a Pope. If Christ guides the Church, the Pope of our day will take the necessary steps to move forward. If we are Christians, we should reason like this. —Vatican Insider, Dec. 23rd, 2017
Yes, we should reason like this, but we must have faith too. Faith and reason. They are indivisible. It is when one or the other fails, but especially faith, that we enter into crisis. She continues:
Yes, I think this is the main cause, not being rooted in faith, not being sure that God sent Christ to found the Church and that he will fulfil his plan through history through people who make themselves available to him. This is the faith we must have in order to be able to judge anyone and anything that happens, not only the Pope. —Ibid.
This past week, I sensed that we are turning a corner… a dark corner. Some Catholics have decided that, even if the Pope does transmit Sacred Tradition faithfully, as we all read in Pope Francis On… it does not matter. Because he is also confusing, they say, they have concluded that he is deliberately trying to destroy the Church. The prophecy of St. Leopold comes to mind…
Be careful to preserve your faith, because in the future, the Church in the U.S.A. will be separated from Rome. —Antichrist and the End Times, Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, St. Andrew’s Productions, P. 31
No man can destroy the Church: “this is not possible.” It simply isn’t.
I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18)
So, if Jesus permits confusion, then I will trust Him in confusion. If Jesus permits apostasy, then I will stand with Him in the midst of apostates. If Jesus permits division and scandal, then I will stand with Him amidst the dividers and the scandalous. But by His grace and help alone, I will continue to strive to be an example of Love and the voice of Truth that leads to Life.
St. Seraphim once said, “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you, thousands will be saved.”
…let the peace of Christ control your hearts… (Col 3:14)
If those around you are confused, don’t add to their confusion by losing sight of Christ’s promises. If those around you are suspicious, don’t add to their suspicion by fueling conspiracy theories. And if those around you are shaken, then be a rock of peace for them to find comfort and security.
Christ is testing your faith and mine at this hour. Are you passing the test? You will know when, at the end of the day, you still have peace in your heart…
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