SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING column for October 31, 2000
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
The Mystical Body of Christ's chorus of bells need to ring in sync
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Infinite Peace, Joy, Mercy, and Love of Our Dear Lord be with all of you now and until eternity.
In the quiet time of this past week the Holy Spirit has guided me to write to you this time on an intrical part of being part of the Mystical Body of Christ, and this my dear friends, is no small matter, and one most of us have all erred in to some extent.
I am speaking of that total unity that alone belongs to the Mystical Body of Christ, and our part in maintaining through the grace of the Holy Spirit that unity.
I am not talking here about those aberrations that occur in every diocese, and in most parishes. I am not ennobling that phantom "spirit" of Vatican Council II that has so fragmented Holy Mother Church, nor am I endorsing "peace at any cost." Far from it, I am simply speaking to you from my heart and soul as the Holy Spirit directs me.
To those of you who have not yet read the Vatican Council II Documents, and the post-Conciullar Documents, I hope you will get the books and over a period of time begin to read them. They are wonderful, awe-inspiring documents that the Holy Spirit wrote. What you may or may not know about Vatican Council II may help you to understand this article, or not.
First, we've been preached to death (ad nauseum) these past thirty years or so on a steady diet of "peace and justice", which are now synonymous with "liberalism". Yet, Our Holy Pontiff, Pope John Paul II often uses these same words, but coming from his lips, they take on a whole new meaning. Note, the Church uses the order "justice and peace" as in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace headed by the excellent Vietnamese Archbishop Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who preached the Lenten Retreat for the Pope and Roman Curia in entreating the shepherds to live as Christ asks. Yet, here in America we remain mostly sheep, heading into our local parish church on any given Sunday (pardon the pun, it was intended, for the god of football is upon us once again), perhaps dreading that part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass called the "homily". Okay, I admit it. There are certain priests who have a real gift, who speak as the Holy Spirit directs them, and then many others who read from a prepared text that is about as spell-binding as worn-out elastic. And when these many speak, how often do they call upon us to join in the fight for social justice and peace?
Ah, there's the catch. "Social" justice and peace. Not God's justice and peace, but society's. Oh, how vain can we get? And just how desensitized have we become that we don't even pick up on this one word that changes all that Vatican Council II meant, and still means, for it is a work of the Holy Spirit Himself.
Have you ever had a good look at your parish bulletin? How many groups are there that are strictly prayerful? How many are there that are supposed to be prayerful, but are, in reality, nothing more than a social group wherein the topics are "social" justice and peace?
It takes a whole page, both columns, in small print, to try to cover the many groups there are in our parish that are social in content and nature, yet probably only a line about the rare monthly adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that takes place. Does that tell you something?
It says volumes to me, and I'm just a little baby sitting on God's knee. And now the Holy Spirit has said to me that in so many ways, in so many varieties, these very groups are the cause of so much splitting within the Roman Catholic Church, and they are anti-Vatican Council II.
A decade ago a very holy priest told Mike and I that "you can leave the Church by either the right or left door. We thought we understood that phrase, but we're still learning, still being taught by the Holy Spirit.
In a previous article I shared with you some of the graces received at Lourdes, and one of them was a totally new and fuller understanding of the Mystical Body of Christ. Now, as I continue to retain interior silence so that I may hear God speak to me, I am learning just how "society" and our god of American culture have fragmented us into not one Mystical Body, but a bunch of groups at odds with another, often at odds with the members within the organization. Oh, woe to us!
For starters, no matter how many "pious" groups or organizations your parish has, they will bear little good fruit if there is not fostered in your parish the spirit and necessity of "contemplation." You cannot have the "active" branch bear good fruit if there is not the contemplative, nor can the strictly contemplative branch bear good fruit without the active. When we untie this unity by our "social" bickerings, then we bring harm to the Mystical Body of Christ, either through ignorance or by intent. God alone knows the person's heart.
For example, the Council Fathers did not change the dogmas, doctrines, teachings, and traditions of Holy Mother Church. Absolutely not! In fact, the Council Fathers reinforced them time and again, with many warnings to those who would seek to undo them. The Council Fathers, with a vision of the Mystical Body of Christ freshly renewed upon their hearts and minds, worked to bring that same awareness of the unity that must exist in the Mystical Body of Christ down to the local level, and into every person's heart and soul.
Unfortunately, we never had the chance to discern what the Council was about. For the most part, we were sold down the river long before Vatican Council II even began, for it was Pope Leo XIII, writing at the brink of the twentieth century, who warned the American bishops that they were on the brink of "humanism and relativism" when those words would not have meant much, if anything, to the laity. Did you know that there were only a handful of American Bishops at that time, maybe no more than two or three, who thanked Pope Leo XIII for his help and insight? Did you know that the vast majority of the bishops at the turn of the last century told Pope Leo XIII to go mind his own business, 'cause the American culture didn't need the Holy See?
A century has passed, and where are we? More fragmented than we could have ever imagined. Why? For one reason, we've closed our own minds and hearts and souls to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and we've bought lock, stock and barrel the often-erroneous information passing between pulpit and congregation. I wonder if God sighs heavily at times at His people, His children?
Now, with the grace given to me at Lourdes, a grace, I repeat, I remain unworthy of, but which I accept and proclaim, I must tell you that to help the true concept of Vatican Council II happen, sooner rather than later, we must realize that we have "left" the church by both the right and left doors. How? It's easy to pick on the liberal, modernists, etc. More often than not we look upon those who attend the Latin Tridentine Mass as poor old folks who just can't move past pre-Vatican II days. We even shake our heads sympathetically over the Society of St. Pius X, etc. But the truth is that these very people are also helping to fragment the church, much as those who are attached too rigorously to their cultural beliefs and heritage fragment the Church.
We are like so many bells ringing out of sync with one another. What a cacophony we must make in Heaven!
My dear brothers and sisters, if we are liberal modernists, rationalists, seekers of social peace and justice in its most liberal term, then we have fragmented the Mystical Body of Christ. If we are too rigid to accept the "norms" of the real Vatican Council II, then we in our rigid stance also fragmenting the Mystical Body of Christ.
How, you ask? Well, for many of us, the answers to the first seem clear enough. The liberal, modernists, rationalists, veer away from the teachings of Holy Mother Church, saying, in essence, "take a hike, we can think for ourselves much better than the Holy Father!"
Did you ever stop to realize that those who cannot move on with the true Vatican Council II spirit also are saying the very same thing? In essence, the people who go to the extreme right position are saying to the Mystical Body of Christ, and to God's Vicar on Earth, that "thank you, we know what's right, and we can think for ourselves."
Likewise, those who are rigidly accustomed to their "cultural" religion, that is, to the Polish, Irish, and just about any other nationality you wish to include, also fragmentize the Mystical Body of Christ, because "their" culture is better than yours, more pious, more uplifting, more…more "social" than yours!
We can lay a lot of the blame on the American mindset, if you will. We can also heap a lot of blame onto the shoulders of liberal bishops who fail to lead their flocks as true shepherds, and we can finger point them out as being in defiance to Rome. But, at the same time, my dear brothers and sisters, what are we doing to stop all the finger pointing? What good does it do to point fingers, to lay the blame at someone else's door, when our own doormat remains unswept?
Many of our younger priests, those ordained after Vatican Council II are misinformed. I doubt many are seriously intent on doing "their own thing", rather than simply obeying the Bishop of their Diocese, which is right and just according to the Law of God. Oh, there may be some, but by and large, our priests today are as committed to serving God as His Priest as any priest was prior to Vatican II. Certainly there is blame to be laid on the shoulders of the bishops, who choose to let the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, etc., do all the decision making for them, and will not take a stand for the Holy Father come hell or high water. Oh, there are some notable exceptions of excellent bishops who are loyal to their calling and all Christ called for. We know the good ones. We also know the bad ones. It's the lukewarm ones we don't know. Why, because they are lukewarm. Certainly we can also squarely put blame on these same shepherds who, for whatever reason, place in positions of teaching authority those theologians and others who outrightly oppose all the dogmas, doctrines, teachings, traditions, and the word of the present Holy Father! I take offense at those "modernists" who tell me that it was about time we got rid of those Catholic schools taught by nuns or brothers, and went about getting the laity involved in Catholic education! I take umbrage with those who tell me that the surge of vocations in the twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and early sixties were largely due to the outrages of war and violence, and that the many opted for the religious life as the only sane answer to the insanity of war! I beg your pardon!
I'm quite sure that there were those who entered religious life for all the wrong reasons, and stayed there for all the wrong reasons. Yet, I am equally certain in my heart that the vast majority entered because they were called by God, sustained by God, and therefore persevered in their vocations! Despite the doings of the evil one, there was a "unity" then among Catholics around the world that we have let slip away one person, one heart and soul at a time. We've let "society" become our conscience, and the "cultural mindset" of America to be our moral barometer!
Our Lord is the Good Shepherd. He has always been, will always be, and continues to be the Good Shepherd. We have the lawful authority of Holy Mother Church, starting with and ending with the Holy Father, to see that there is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Those who do not agree with this, who take their own agenda into their roles of leadership, are fragmenting the Body of Christ. Those who feel the Holy Father is "out of step" must also believe that Christ was "out of step" for all the ages. Those who feel that ecumenism is not giving up the fullness of the Holy Spirit that the Catholic Church, that in Rome, contains, are those who would gladly concede even dogma and doctrine, concede the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar to our Protestant brethren. Ecumenism is not about giving up, but about giving to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, so that they, too, might share fully in the Mystical Body of Christ to which He calls all of His children. Thank God for the most recent document Dominus Jesus. We need to be reminded of the truth that there is no salvation outside the Church founded by Christ.
We need to pause for a moment and search our heart and our soul, to awaken again our conscience? Perhaps we have not thought about any of these things for a very long time, or perhaps we've been at odds within ourselves, going from one parish to another, from the Latin Tridentine, back to the Novus Ordo, and back again like leaves blown in an autumn wind. God alone knows, but He has said to me that there are more autumn leaves blowing about than the sturdy leaves on the branch of the Tree, which is the One, True, Catholic and Apostolic Faith!
Does this mean you'll have to make some hard decisions? Most likely! Does this mean that you're going to have to swallow that big pill of pride that you thought was righteousness and bloom where you are planted? Definitely! Does this mean that you might rethink those numerous meetings and committees in your parish to which you belong? I hope so. Does this mean you just might have to go to your pastor and in all charity, humility, etc, tell him that you cannot have the active life without the contemplative because the two are as one, as Christ is One with His Own Body? I hope so. The end result here, my dear brothers and sisters, is to take some accountability for our own fragmenting of Christ's Mystical Body, and to wake up to the true Vatican Council II meaning, that runs clearly through each and every document written. You may have to face up to the fact that your particular bishop could use some extra prayers so he'll do the shepherding of his flock that has been entrusted to him. It might mean that your cherished "social" life in your parish might be cut back a bit, as Our Lord prunes the branches and their leaves. You're going to have to make a decision just where you stand, and if that stance is enabling you to fully participate in and be a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, or if you are leaving the Church by either the left or right door.
This, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is a very real and true grace of the Holy Spirit, to be fully within the Mystical Body of Christ. Being a full member of the Mystical Body of Christ is not a given, it's a goal that is made possible by our own "good will" and the grace of God. It is not something to be taken lightly. It is both ennobling, and yet demanding. It's power is in our obedience to the Truth, which is Christ, and the fullness of that Truth, which Holy Mother Church retains, and will retain until God has said "No More, Time is at an end!"
Let us, together, as we come to the end of the liturgical year, look deep within ourselves through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Call upon Our Lady; call upon all the angels and saints to help you. I can assure you that not one saint is in Heaven today, who did not arrive there through a deep, profound understanding of the Mystical Body of Christ. Their lives give witness to this understanding. And this is not something that is beyond our reach our grasp. In fact, my dear friends, Our Lord awaits us, for He knocks at the door of our heart, our conscience, at every moment. How often have we turned Him away? Ah, too many times, and that is also the truth.
Your very little sister in Christ, who cherishes each of you,
October 31, 2000
volume 11, no. 217
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
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