Aside from Christ Jesus, none of us come forth from the womb with perfect knowledge or perfect faith. It takes a long time for most of us to get hold of any understanding of God. Most often our lives are a journey of valleys and deserts filled with enticing mirages upon which we waste our time, stumbling along in search of the truth. When we at last reach the green oasis of the Church and discover something of Her treasures hidden in Christ, we assume a sense of comfort and security. It is most unsettling then, when those keeping guard round the Holy Oasis challenge our faith.
I'm thinking of a time in the 1970's when the Church was being dismantled and thrown to the trash heap piece by piece. The Eastern religions were coming on the scene in America with a new ferocity, attracting and entangling young people who had "lost their religion." We were easy prey for any of the new cults or strange religions. As an "orphaned" Catholic, I spent my time carrying around the Bhagavad-Gita, studying Hinduism and dipping my toes into Zen Buddhism as well. My experience was one of searching, seeking and commitment to finding the truth. I count it a miracle that I was not lost forever in the incense and chants of a foreign temple, offering food gifts to strange gods. Though I had abandoned Christ, He had not abandoned me, and He eventually led me back to the true Faith, found only within His Holy Church.
It is with total amazement and horror that all these years later I read the current article on the official website of none other than the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, detailing recent Buddhist and Catholic dialogue. www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2003/03-076.htm.
It is beyond comprehension that Catholic bishops are now condoning experimentation in Eastern religions. They are even being so bold as to enter the temple of foreign gods and worship there, hoping to "swap" practices with Buddhists that just might "enrich" Christianity. I cannot in good conscience remain quiet while these bishops profess their undying allegiance to ecumenism, endangering the souls of the faithful. I've already walked out of and away from what the bishops are currently trying to lead Catholics into. I can't believe it!
The article leaves no doubt whatsoever that the current agenda for ecumenism in the post-conciliar church is a blending of Catholicism and all world religions in order to form a "potluck" church. Right away we notice that following Christ falls into the same category as following the "enlightened beings" and those involved in the "dialogue" swapped short passages from everything including the Bible to the Avatamsaka Sutra to the writings of Zen masters to the Dalai Lama to St. Benedict and even to Chiara Lubich. The 60's rebellion comes to life all over again when we read that, "Some participants noted the tension they felt between belonging to a particular religious group and the need to let go of any consequential narrowness." Dejavu.
Many Catholics today have risen up to question the real meaning and true venue of ecumenism. They suggest that the new ecumenism with all its "dialogue" along with the new evangelization do not appear to be bringing the truth of Christ and His Church to the world, but rather, seeks to embrace compromise along with the world religions. They also claim that through such actions the modern church is leading the faithful into indifferentism. Naturally, these Catholics are put down and ridiculed. However, the article regarding Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue posted on the official website of the U.S. Bishops makes it all very clear that, "The goal of the discussion was to promote understanding of the differences and similarities between Christianity and Buddhism." This dialogue seeks to discover mutually beneficial aspects of both religions, reaching a "consensus that Buddhists and Catholics can practically help one another regarding mental cultivation and religious precepts." Smells just like indifferentism to me.
Although the entire article is extremely troubling and should sound the alarm to all who call themselves "Catholic" one of the most disturbing portions of the article revolves around the "Eucharist." Read carefully the second paragraph wherein we are given a glimpse of the daily schedule during this dialogue meeting: there was a, "single large meal for monastics before noon to which all participants were invited. Catholics and Buddhists meeting in the dialogue began each day with an optional 45 minutes of quiet…..following their own form of meditation and prayer. There was a Eucharist on Friday and Saturday evenings for the Catholics and to which the Buddhists were invited and additional meals of breakfast and supper throughout the meeting….."
One can only wonder who authored this article and whether he or she even knows the seriousness of the implication made here. We must assume that the phrase "a Eucharist" actually means a Novus Ordo Mass. The modern church disdains the word "Mass" because it sounds too "Catholic." We are most often told that there was a "Eucharistic Celebration" when referring to the Mass of the New Order. However, using the term "a Eucharist" as in this article, is even more generic and compromising. The context within which this "Eucharist" is mentioned can only be described as deplorable because it spells out for us the new-church understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; a mere meal. Notice that right after mention of "a Eucharist" to which the Buddhists were invited we read the following: "…and additional meals of breakfast and supper throughout the meeting at the City's Jyun Kang Restaurant." I think most orthodox Catholics will agree it is unlikely that a Catholic with any understanding of the Mass would allow the greatest action and prayer of the Catholic Church to be mentioned in this context along with "additional meals." I would hate to guess whether any invited Buddhist went forward to receive "a Eucharist."
To put all this in proper perspective, we have to address the recent encyclical issued by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Eucharist. Ecclesia de Eucharistia.
While I am pleased to see the Pope address the profound subject of the Holy Eucharist, it doesn't square at all with the article I've just discussed that is posted on the official website of his bishops. Once and again, we are faced with doublespeak.
In the Encyclical, John Paul says, "The Eucharist, as Christ's saving presence in the community of the faithful and its spiritual food, is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history." He also states, "The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation." In contrast to this, the U.S. Bishops Conference promotes the depreciation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into the most ambiguous terms of "a Eucharist" at "Confucius Hall" held in between other meals, with obvious interfaith overtones, extending an invitation to the Buddhists.
Consider paragraph 44 from the Encyclical in light of these facts:
Precisely because the Church's unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord's sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty,92 in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council.9
In fact, if the real aim of the modern church is to bring all faiths into communion with the Holy Catholic Church, then a dialogue with Buddhists must be centered around the discussion and broader distribution of the truths, practices and precepts of the Catholic Church. The actions of the official church today do not speak of this type of communion. Anyone reading the article regarding this Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue can see that the objective is to share ideas and beliefs, offend no one, and take what we can get from the Buddhists and apply it in the Catholic Church thereby proving how open minded we are. There is no intention of conversion to the truth. There is every intention of continuing this type of dialogue and dipping into the depths of indifferentism. There is little if any hope that the recent encyclical will have any effect whatsoever on such ecumenical celebrations of "a Eucharist" which are in full swing, alive and well right under the nose of the Pope.
Despite what he has written, he was very aware and allowed a statue of Buddha, a false god, to be placed atop the holy Tabernacle at Assisi and incensed in worship. This is a direct violation of the very First Commandment of the Decalogue: "I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have false gods before Me."
Only a few days ago the Vatican issued its own message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh ZENIT article. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue began by congratulating the Buddhists on the feast of their pagan god. Jesus Christ is only mentioned once as the object of meditation for the Rosary, a distinctly Catholic practice, which, according to the Archbishop, is comparable to the Buddhist Mala. There is no mention of the need or hope for conversion to the truth, or the fact the Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Way, the Truth and the Life. This message, coming from a man who was appointed to his position by John Paul II, is nothing less than an official statement of acquiescence to a one world religion whereby all religions are of equal value and there is no need to encourage conversion to the Church established by Jesus Christ. Religion, according to the message from the Vatican, is nothing more than a vehicle for contributing to world peace, whether that religion be true or false. This is grossly unfair and even deadly to the Buddhist people who will never hear the truth proclaimed, who will remain unknowing victims of the Vatican II Church. Behold, the New Evangelization!
Putting all this together, we are faced with amazing hypocrisy and forfeiture of the main mission of the Catholic Church; "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…" (Matthew 28:19-20).
In the early 1970's when I was experimenting with eastern religions, a job transfer took me into an office where I worked with two Protestant girls about my age. They were clearly devoted to Jesus Christ, fearless in practicing their religion as was evident in their speech, their kindness and other mannerisms. They quietly observed me reading from the Bhagavad-Gita during my coffee breaks every day. After several weeks, when we had formed a working bond, one of the girls approached me as I sat reading the Hindu holy book, and asked what I was studying. I told her what is was, and she looked into my eyes, saying softly, "That is a false religion." I will never forget that moment or the impact it had on my life. My world was turned upside down as I began to face the fact that I had forsaken Jesus Christ. I find it nauseating that those who hold official offices within the Catholic Church today do not have the courage or belief to proclaim what that one brave young woman did.
Meanwhile, the Holy Father, in his recent encyclical, expresses the importance of "ecclesial communion" in paragraph 38. However, being in "communion" with the "Supreme Pontiff and the Bishops by the bonds of profession of faith, the sacraments, [and] ecclesiastical government" is tantamount to jumping through hoops, worshipping in the temples of foreign gods in defiance of the First Commandment, and blurring the lines between the truth and false religion. It is an amazing accomplishment that the modern church is so adept at doing all this at the same time. It's no wonder the faithful are forced to read between the lines and seek shelter in traditional chapels in order to avoid the wrath that is certain to come.