In his column today, Pat Ludwa tackles the insidious surveys that so influence the media. According to the pollsters, numbers don't lie; but they fail to realize these surveys are couched in half-truths and authored by the father of half-truths. Pat dissects the numbers, revealing the mindset of so many supermarket "Catholics" who have plummeted beyond the level of cafeteria "Catholics", by searching outside the Church for truths that can only be found within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. For his column today, And the survey says.....!!! , see VIEW FROM THE PEW
Talk to most Americans today about the decline of faith and you're likely to hear how recent polls say that some 90% of Americans believe in God, have faith in God. Then they'll contrast that with the apparent decline of Europeans who say they don't. "See, we're doing just fine." But ask the Americans to define what they mean by God, or having faith in Him, and you see that it isn't as it seems.
A recent Gallup Poll did just that. It's findings were interesting, and a bit alarming.
Of those who responded, only 54% said they were religious, while 30% said they were spiritual but not religious. 15% said they were either both or neither.
The poll went even further and found some disturbing numbers. 55% of the American Catholics were more likely to determine for themselves how they should live. Relying on themselves rather than Scripture or Church teaching. Only 1/3 of Protestant respondents agreed.
80% of American Catholics said that other religions besides theirs offer a true path to God. When asked if non-Christian religions could be seen as true paths to God, 61% of American Catholics said yes, as opposed to 42% of Protestants.
80% of American Catholics feel that God will judge them and decide their eternal resting place according to their lives alone.
94% of American Catholics say they believe in God, or some 'god-like' universal spirit or higher power.
At least the Europeans are honest and one can discuss things with them. This new American religion is so vague and pliable as to be worthless. It reminds me of the person who says they aren't prejudice but won't associate with 'those' people.
That we are free to determine for ourselves how we should live is absurd. True, in each person is a God given conscience to guide us. But we have to recall that our conscience may be informed, uninformed, or even dead. The man committing adultery against his wife may kill his conscience by rationalizing that he is not doing anything wrong. He may say that his 'relationship' is only about sex and not love. Or he may say that animals don't mate for life (though some do). He may even say that God wants him to be happy, and since his adultery makes him happy...
If truth is relative, as some 55% of American Catholics seem to think, then there is no truth. True, there are relative truths. New York City is X miles away from Cleveland, but only Y from Pittsburgh, or Detroit, or Chicago. If we hold that we can determine the truth solely on our own, then we say that everyone can do so. The homosexual, the sexual libertine, the pedophile, the thief, the murderer, etc.
"Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20).
[In Scripture the judgment of conscience often is attributed to the "heart" (see Jb 27.6; Ps 16.7), which receives and retains God's law (see Dt 6.6-9; Ps 37.31; 40.9; Prv 7.1-3) and which can be enlightened by His gift of wisdom (see Ps 90.12; Prv 2.9-11). Again, the work of conscience in Christian life is assigned to the renewed "mind" (see Rom 12.1-2). But the technical term "conscience" seldom is used; indeed, no Hebrew word exists for this specific concept. In the New Testament "conscience" refers mainly to awareness of wrongdoing, especially the pangs experienced after one has done wrong.. (Christian Moral Principles: from "The Way of the Lord Jesus" by Germain Grisez; Chapter 3: Conscience: Knowledge of Moral Truth Question B: What is conscience according to the teaching of the Church?)]
"For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:18-22).
That we are able to determine our own truths is a teaching of the 'spirit' of Vatican II.' Not the Church, in Vatican II, before or since.
"The teaching of Vatican II on conscience is mainly contained in one article of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (GS 16). It deserves close reading. "In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of this law can when necessary speak to his heart more specifically: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged"...The law mentioned here is called "natural law" in Catholic teaching. It is known by everyone, even persons who do not have faith, for its demands are "written in their hearts"--that is, known spontaneously. Conscience here is a co-witness with the law. The two together will accuse or defend, which implies that they must agree with each other. Vatican II expresses the same idea in its image of conscience as a voice of the law written by God in the heart--God writing it by creating persons of human nature...Since conscience expresses the natural law, which can be known by everyone, and since this law is objective, the Council proceeds to point out: "In fidelity to conscience, Christians are joined with the rest of men in the search for truth, and for the genuine solution to the numerous problems which arise in the life of individuals and from social relationships. Hence the more that a correct conscience holds sway, the more persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and strive to be guided by objective norms of morality" (GS 16). Here the Council speaks of "correct conscience." When correct, conscience demands that one be reasonable, not arbitrary; that one conform to objective or true norms, not to subjective substitutes chosen arbitrarily. But conscience is not always correct; the Council distinguishes two ways in which conscience goes wrong." (Christian Moral Principles: from "The Way of the Lord Jesus" by Germain Grisez; Chapter 3: Conscience: Knowledge of Moral Truth Question B: What is conscience according to the teaching of the Church?)
We must be careful to cultivate a correct, an informed conscience, not one distorted or killed by one 'settling' for a truth pleasing to them, but one which may even cause them discomfort.
One might ask, as St. Paul did, who conferred anything on them? Again, we see a reemergence of the heresy of Montanism, or a neo-Montanism, where the individual person is 'imbued' with the Holy Spirit to determine his own truth with no need for a teacher or teaching authority, the Magisterium.
That some 80% think that there are other 'true' paths to God is also a dangerous trend as it can be used to distort the true teaching of the Church. "In order to establish this His holy Church everywhere in the world till the end of time, Christ entrusted to the College of the Twelve the task of teaching, ruling and sanctifying. Among their number He selected Peter, and after his confession of faith determined that on him He would build His Church. Also to Peter He promised the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and after His profession of love, entrusted all His sheep to him to be confirmed in faith and shepherded in perfect unity. Christ Jesus Himself was forever to remain the chief Cornerstone and Shepherd of our souls... The Church, then, is God's only flock; it is like a standard lifted high for the nations to see it: for it serves all mankind through the Gospel of peace as it makes its pilgrim way in hope toward the goal of the fatherland above." (Decree on Ecumenism: Vatican Council II; UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO; Chap. 1)
So Vatican II teaches that there is but ONE Church, ONE truth, ONE path. Even Christ Himself said as much. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me'" (John 14:6).
Now, other Christian denominations have parts of the truth, as do other faiths, but there is but one true path to God. Jesus is THE way, not A way. The Church is His Church, not A church.
"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." (G.K. Chesterton; Illustrated London News 8-11-28) To use only a part of Vatican II and Church teaching, while ignoring the rest, is make an error, a mistake, a heresy, seem logical and good. "The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice."(, G.K. Chesterton; Illustrated London News; 6/11/10)
We have to recall that Christ established a Church (ref. Matt. 16:13-19). And THAT Church was to teach and guide His faithful in all truth (ref. Matt. 28: 16-20) And that Church was given Christ's authority to teach, to forgive sins, and to carry on His work of salvation on earth. (Lk. 10:16; Jn 20: 21-23; Jn. 21:15-17; 1 Tim. 3:15)
The poll show that we are no longer just cafeteria "Catholics" (picking and choosing which teachings we want to follow), but supermarket "Catholics" as well (going shopping for the god or gods which suit us best.)
Instead of following Christ as He asked and commanded His faithful to do, some 94% seem to think it's ok to mix and match God, with god/dess's. In short, creating their own 'god' in their own image.
THAT 'god' who they created may not punish them, but what of God? "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus... An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules" (2 Timothy 2:1-3; 5).
"For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith" (1 Timothy 3: 2-8).
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
If the recent poll is correct, then Americans need re-evangelization, a return to THE truth instead of settling for A truth or many truths.
"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6)
"What is truth?" (Pontius Pilate)
Pax Christi, Pat
In 2000 we will be bringing you the Holy Father's words twice a week enabling us to bring you his weekly Wednesday Papal audiences on Mondays and his Sunday Angelus address on Thursdays. Today, we bring you the words from His Holiness Pope John Paul II from this past Sunday. In commemorating the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord and in reflecting in his own pastoral joy of baptizing 18 new infants in the Sistine Chapel, the Holy Father emphasized the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism as the key - the door to salvation through Christ's Holy Church. As always, the Pope entreated Our Lady's "maternal protection on the road of growth in the Faith" while concluding his remarks by encourging us all to recommit to our baptismal vows. For his brief Angelus address, see THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
1. Today, on the liturgical feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Christmas period ends, which this year we lived with intensity and an altogether singular participation. Indeed, the Great Jubilee began on Christmas Eve, with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter's.
This Christmastide gave us a new opportunity to recall the "event" that took place 20 centuries ago, which changed the course of history forever: the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem.
In remembering Jesus' birth, we celebrated the great mystery of the Redemption, which we will particularly reflect on during the entire course of the Jubilee. The Son of God became man so that humans could be raised to the dignity of adoptive children of God.
2. Today's feast of the Baptism of the Lord invites us once again to this intimate union with divine life. As in past years, so today I had the joy of administering the sacrament of Baptism to some babies in the moving atmosphere of the Sistine Chapel. There were 18 altogether: 8 girls and 10 boys, from Italy, Brazil, Spain, the United States and Switzerland. In the context of the Jubilee Year, which is a time of grace, joy and renewal of life, this celebration of the sacrament of Baptism is for all of us a renewed call to return to the roots of the Christian vocation. By communicating divine grace to us, all the good that we accomplish with God's help, in fact has its basis in Baptism, which makes us children of God and incorporates us in the Community of believers.
3. Let us entrust to Most Holy Mary, Mother of the Savior, the baby boys and girls who received Baptism today, their families, godfathers and godmothers, and their Christian community. May the Blessed Virgin accompany them with her maternal protection on the road of growth in the Faith and make them participate increasingly in the mystery of salvation that today opened in them.
May Our Lady also help us so that in this Jubilee Year we may increasingly correspond with our baptismal promises, nourishing day after day the flame of faith that was given to us at the beginning of our Christian existence. (ZENIT Translation) ZE9900010924
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith, concentrating on the Books of the New Testament with today completing the introduction to Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians. For the eighty-seventh installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
Paul and Titus had first arranged to meet at Troas, a Mysian seaport on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea; but St. Paul arrived there ahead of schedule and being anxious for news from Corinth, went across the sea to Philippi in Macedonia, and it was probably there that he met his envoy.
The report given by Titus of the effect on the Corinthians of St. Paul's letter from Ephesus occasioned this Epistle. In it the Apostle defends his life and ministry, urges that the collection - already requested and begun - be made for the poor Christians in Jerusalem, and replies to his bitter opponents. The Epistle ranks with those to Timothy and the Galatians as the most intensely personal of St. Paul's writings. But unlike the letters to Timothy, which are calmly pastoral and directive, this Epistle is vehement and hotly polemical, especially in the four closing chapters. The writer will have his critics and adversaries understand that he is a true apostle of Jesus Christ, and that his sincerity and authority have been amply attested by extraordinary visitations from Heaven and by unparalleled labors and sufferings in behalf of the Gospel.
Tomorrow: Letter from Paul to the Galatians
Today is the first Thursday of Ordinary Time as well as the Feast of Saint Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church while tomorrow is the first Friday of Ordinary Time For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and the profile on this saint, see DAILY LITURGY.
"And He said to him, 'See thou tell no one; but go, show thyself to the high priest, and offer for thy purification the things that Moses commanded, for a witness to them.' But he went out, and began to publish and to spread abroad the fact, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but remained outside in desert places."
Dear children! This is the time of grace. Little children, today in a special way with little Jesus, Whom I hold in my embrace, I am giving you the possibility to decide for peace.Through your 'yes' for peace and your decision for God, a new possibility for peace is opened. Only in this way, little children, this century will be for you a time of peace and well-being. Therefore, put little newborn Jesus in the first place in your life and He will lead you on the way of salvation. Thank you for having responded to my call.