THURSDAY
April 27, 2000
volume 11, no. 83

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Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW         INTRODUCTION

    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat, in reviewing the events of the past week from the raid in Miami to the ruling in Vermont to the news that the New Zealand Bishops Conference have bolted from Rome's edict not to approve homosexual unions, he could deduce that the world seems in total disarray. But that's what satan wants and Pat shows how the Apostles fought the obstacles facing them in those early days - obstacles that were just as frightening as we have today because of the times and their level of education. Yet they trusted in Jesus and followed the Gift He left them - the Holy Spirit and through that trust, through that faith, planted the seeds that today number one billion Catholics worldwide. Citing early fathers of the Church, Sacred Scripture and the wisdom of saints, Pat shows we can turn the tide to goodness and what is proper at Eastertide. That is the gist of his column today, Stemming the tide at Eastertide!

    For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at ludwa@core.com


Stemming the tide at Eastertide!

        The holiest time of the year is upon us, Eastertide. The tomb is empty, He has risen. For Christians all over the world, this should be a time of great joy and a sign of great hope. "I have said this to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

        What then do we have to fear? The world? "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15: 18-19). He has gone before us, as the firstborn in everything, to sit at the right hand of God, to be our Advocate, our hope, and strength. "...I have given them the words which Thou gavest Me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from Thee; and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom Thou hast given Me, for they are Thine; all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one. I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. As Thou didst send Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth" (John 17: 8-11; 14-19).

        The world thought it had destroyed Him. But the empty tomb shows that the world is wrong. But the world still tries. "While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, 'Tell people, 'His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.' And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.' So they took the money and did as they were directed; and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day" (Matthew 28: 11-15).

        Everyone knew that eleven frightened fishermen were not about to take on a Roman cohort. Everyone knew that they couldn't 'sneak' into the tomb and steal His body because the Romans used geese to honk at the approach of anyone. (It was also death for a Roman legionnaire to sleep on guard duty.) All they had to do stop this 'rumor' was to produce the body. But they couldn't. But they'd still try. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus... So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.' And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for all men praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old... 'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against His Anointed-- for truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, Whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Thy hand and Thy plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to Thy servants to speak Thy word with all boldness, while Thou stretchest out Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Thy holy Servant Jesus" (Acts 4:13; 18-22; 25-30).

        Common, uneducated men. Not scholars, not theologians, only simple faithful men and women who boldly challenged the world and proclaimed Christ risen. "And besides the pious opinion concerning the Father and the Son, we confess to one Holy Spirit, as the divine Scriptures teach us; who hath inaugurated both the holy men of the Old Testament, and the divine teachers of that which is called the New. And besides, also, one only Catholic and Apostolic Church, which can never be destroyed, though all the world should seek to make war with it; but it is victorious over every most impious revolt of the heretics who rise up against it. For her Goodman hath confirmed our minds by saying, 'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world'( John 16:33). After this we know of the resurrection of the dead, the first-fruits of which was our Lord Jesus Christ, Who in very deed, and not in appearance merely, carried a body, of Mary Mother of God, who in the end of the world came to the human race to put away sin, was crucified and died, and yet did He not thus perceive any detriment to His divinity, being raised from the dead, taken up into Heaven, seated at the right hand of majesty" (St. Alexander of Alexandria; EPISTLES ON THE ARIAN HERESY AND THE DEPOSITION OF ARIUS, #12).

        What with gay marriages being pushed as an acceptable and good thing, to the decline of morality and the legislation on ideas, the world seems determined to deny God. Mankind may be working hard to 'confine' God to a church by legislating where and when He can be mentioned or seen, but God cannot be denied. "But philosophers who are held to be reasonable laugh at the teacher of these ideas as besotted and licentious. But what shall I say of Aristotle's idea? He thinks that God is satisfied with His own narrow bounds, and lives within the prescribed limits of His kingdom. This, however, is also what the poets' tales tell us. For they relate that the world is divided between three gods, so that it has fallen to the lot of one to restrain and rule Heaven, to another the sea, and to a third the lower regions. They have also to take care not to stir up war one with the other by allowing thoughts and cares about the belongings of others to take hold of them. In the same way, Aristotle also declares that God has no care for the earth, as He has none for the sea or the lower regions. How is it that these philosophers shut out of their ranks the poets whose footsteps they follow?" (St. Ambrose; On the Duties of the Clergy; Bk 1, Ch. VIII, #50).

        But these 'philosophers' of the world continue to lead many astray, with eloquent speech and right 'sounding' logic. But this has gone on since the day of Easter. "It is then my purpose to prove to you, if I can, that the Manichees profanely and rashly inveigh against those, who, following the authority of the Catholic Faith. before that they are able to gaze upon that Truth, which the pure mind beholds, are by believing forearmed, and prepared for God Who is about to give them light. For you know, Honoratus, that for no other reason we fell in with such men, than because they used to say, that, apart from all terror of authority, by pure and simple reason, they would lead within to God, and set free from all error those who were willing to be their hearers. For what else constrained me, during nearly nine years, spurning the religion which had been set in me from a child by my parents, to be a follower and diligent hearer of those men, save that they said that we are alarmed by superstition, and are commanded to have faith before reason, but that they urge no one to have faith, without having first discussed and made clear the truth? Who would not be enticed by such promises, especially the mind of a young man desirous of the truth, and further a proud and talkative mind by discussions of certain learned men in the school? such as they then found me, disdainful forsooth as of old wives' fables, and desirous to grasp and drink in, what they promised, the open and pure Truth? But what reason, on the other hand, recalled me, not to be altogether joined to them, so that I continued in that rank which they call of Hearers, so that I resigned not the hope and business of this world; save that I noticed that they also are rather eloquent and full in refutation of others, than abide firm and sure in proof of what is their own. But of myself what shall I say, who was already a Catholic Christian? teats which now, after very long thirst, I almost exhausted and dry, have returned to with all greediness, and with deeper weeping and groaning have shaken together and wrung them out more deeply, that so there might flow what might be enough to refresh me affected as I was, and to bring back hope of life and safety." (St. Augustine; On the Profit of Believing; #2)

        We must recall His death and Resurrection, we must hold fast to what He, through His Church, teaches us. If we do not, if we run after the ways of the world, what may become of us? "Every kind of honor and happiness was bestowed upon you, and then was fulfilled that which is written, 'My beloved did eat and drink, and was enlarged and became fat, and kicked.'(13) Hence flowed emulation and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and disorder, war and captivity. So the worthless rose up against the honored, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years. For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as every one abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in His faith, neither walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian, but walks after his own wicked lusts, resuming the practice of an unrighteous and ungodly envy, by which death itself entered into the world" (St. Clement of Rome; 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, CHAP. III.--THE SAD STATE OF THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH AFTER SEDITION AROSE IN IT FROM ENVY AND EMULATION).

        But to those who hope in the resurrection, who place God's commands before the will of mankind and the world, will come persecution, hate, maybe even death. But with the hope of God, we can, and will go on. "Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars[of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience" (Ibid; CHAP. V.--NO LESS EVILS HAVE ARISEN FROM THE SAME SOURCE IN THE MOST RECENT TIMES. THE MARTYRDOM OF PETER AND PAUL.).

        Let's not run away from the trials and tribulations of this world. Instead, welcome it, embrace it as Christ embraced His cross. Because it's through His cross that we are saved. Just as He rose from the dead, so shall we rise to new life with Him if we are true to Him. "These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God." (Ibid CHAP. VII.--AN EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE.)

        The victory is His, but the war goes on. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6: 11-17).

        But above all, recall that nothing that anyone does to you because of your faith in God and His Church can harm that love which He and His Church has for you. "'For Thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:36-39)

    Pax Christi, Pat

          

April 27, 2000
volume 11, no. 83
VIEW FROM THE PEW

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