I can see how various things in our life can prompt thoughts of God and our relationshp with Him. I remember talking to my mother how the movie "The Seventh Sign" got me thinking if I would die for Him. But I sure didn't think it was a treatise on Revelations or anything. Now, with the opening of "Star Wars, Episode One - The Phantom Menace" (Which I have not seen yet) I'm not too surprised to read and hear about all these theological discussions being bantered about. Recently in my local paper, someone wrote in the Religious news section that the theology (of the movie) was wrong. Their contention, that First Episode promotes thinking with your heart and not your head. An Obe-Wan vs. Mr. Spock argument. Thing is, it's neither.
For one faction, faith is what we 'feel', a 'warm fuzzy' theology. If it's right for you, then it's right. The Obe-Wan Kanobe idea of faith. We see them in the Church. We have to redo the Mass (for example) to liven it up, make it more fun to draw people back. As if devotion to God isn't reason enough to attend Mass. We've also seen serious moral errors pushed by this mentality. "God wants me happy, this makes me happy, ergo…." They either forget, ignore, or were never taught Christ's teaching, " And He said, 'What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man'" (Mark 7:20-23). So we cannot rely on our heart, our conscience without the help and guidance of the Church. Yet, our 'heart' does draw us to God, to seek God. However, often, our wants and desires get in the way of a true search for God. As Christ said, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. So they weaken and kill their conscience (their heart) and rationalize their way further and further from God.
So is the answer the Mr. Spock slant? Reason and logic? Not at all. Again, errors, mistakes, and heresies have been put forward with logical, reasoned responses. "I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded" (Romans 16:17-18).
Faith is attached to reason but goes beyond it. "God, Who through the Word creates all things (see John 1:3) and keeps them in existence, gives men an enduring witness to Himself in created realities (see Rom. 1:19-20). Planning to make known the way of heavenly salvation," (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation [DEI VERBUM] Vatican Council II; Ch 1, #3)
This is the 'force' that Star Wars alludes to. It's this 'knowledge' of God that led those who did not 'know' God to assign names to Him. After all, Aristotle wrote that if we go back to the origin of the world and all creation, we come to the 'unmoved mover', i.e. God. So by logic, we can know that there is a God. But God didn't want us to merely know 'of' Him, but to 'know' Him.
"Planning to make known the way of Heavenly salvation, He went further and from the start manifested Himself to our first parents. Then after their fall His promise of redemption aroused in them the hope of being saved (see Genesis 3:15) and from that time on He ceaselessly kept the human race in His care, to give eternal life to those who perseveringly do good in search of salvation (see Romans 2:6-7). Then, at the time He had appointed He called Abraham in order to make of him a great nation (see Genesis 12:2). Through the patriarchs, and after them through Moses and the prophets, He taught this people to acknowledge Himself the one living and true God, provident Father and just Judge, and to wait for the Savior promised by Him, and in this manner prepared the way for the Gospel down through the centuries." (Ibid)
So faith is not devoid of reason. But faith goes beyond reason and logic. Logically, according to the wisdom of the world, Christ's birth, life and death was not according to the way one becomes a leader. Born poor and in obscurity is hardly a way to become great. (Sidhartha [Buddha] was born of royalty). He spoke to relatively few people (hardly the way to get your message known to the maximum number of people). And He was accused of a terrible crimes and executed with known criminals (not the kind of symbol one wants as the leader of a movement). "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Corinthians 1:18-20).
Conscience vs. logic? "For Jews demand signs (feelings) and Greeks seek wisdom (logic), but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Corinthians 1:22-25).
G. K. Chesterton once wrote that it isn't that those who have lost their faith believe in nothing, rather it is that they will believe anything. Even a theology according to Lucas.
So, next time someone (maybe even a Catholic) comes to you talking about the profound spiritual meaning of Star Wars, just smile and think "May the farce be with you."
Time to seek Mercy
This not only refers to the faithful, but especially to His consecrated, ordained priests; those men who Christ has chosen to perpetuate the Bread of Life. Without the priests, we have no Blessed Sacrament. Without the priests, we have no Holy Mother Church. The shortage of priests today is something we should take very, very seriously. The answer is not watering down the priesthood by advocating women priests or married priests, but praying all the harder that God will send good holy young men to carry on the work in His one, true Church. Though priests are human, we must remember they are very special. This, unfortunately seems to be lost on society today as the priestly profession has become a prime target for Catholic and priest-bashing with an emphasis on pedophilia and homosexuality. True, there are some who have fallen, but the majority are loyal to their vows. We need to recognize this and not judge by man's viewpoint but allow God to be the final Judge. In order to foster a renewed vigor towards vocations, the sublime image of the state of the priesthood needs to be returned to the pedestal of holiness. As Catholics we must recognize the succession of priestly power in the presence of all the priests throughout the world who have been validly ordained by the bishop of their diocese. Though we may not always agree with this bishop or that bishop, they are successors of the Apostles and must be accorded all respect. As Catholics we are obliged to be obedient to our bishop and to follow him. The only time we are permitted to go against his command is if it is contrary to the Dogmas, Doctrines and Teachings of Holy Mother Church or the explicit directives of the Holy Father. If and when this would occur, we have recourse to appeal to the Holy See who is the ultimate authority. However we are still bound to obedience to the bishop on all other jurisdiction in which he would be in accord with the Church. The same holds for his priests, Our Lady's special Knights who have donned the armor of Holy Orders in this war with satan. Ordination carries with it the responsibilities and privileges of priesthood. Our priests are the "Shepherds" who guide, guard and protect the Good Shepherd's flock.
Yet, one of the biggest problems in the Church today is that the shepherds are dwindling and the sheep are wandering throughout this world in a state of confusion. Where once this lineage of power and authority was understood, where once obedience was a given and humbly accepted, we have now come to a time in the history of Holy Mother Church that every crack, crevice and nook of the Church is up for discussion, debate and outright disobedience. As mentioned earlier, the Church's consecrated priests are dwindling. Over the centuries, whenever there were shortages, the people would intensify their prayer-life, commit themselves to a virtuous life of sacrifice so that Holy Mother Church would be replenished with a fruitful harvest of new priests to carry on the miraculous unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass and to forgive sins as Jesus commanded in Matthew 18:18. Today, rather than turning to prayer and asking God to multiply the ranks of priests and religious, the majority turn to an easy solution: ordain women priests, allow priests to marry. Their rationing is that the Church will then have an abundance of priests. They're putting quantity over quality. It was quality that has nourished Holy Mother Church for well over nineteen centuries. Quality begets quantity. Quantity does not necessarily beget quality. Regardless of that argument, we forget that human logic has no merit when guided by Divine Reasoning for God is Supreme Being. God said it; we believe it; that settles it! Jesus left us the structure of His Church and the ultimate role model - His very Own Blessed Mother to personify all that He asks of His flock.
Our Lady serves as the ideal example for all religious and laity, the latter having taken a larger role in the governing of the Church. But too many are trying to conform the Church to today's standards, trying to force a democracy, where the very tenants of faith are put up for vote, and the majority vote carries. This is the structure of most Protestant churches. Those Catholics who advocate and persist in this are then not Catholic but Protestant. Let's call them this and end the debate. The Roman Catholic Church is a hierarchy - not a democracy. It never has been and never will be. In essence, Holy Mother Church is a monarchy for she has as her king the King of Kings - Lord Jesus Christ Who has delegated His authority on earth to His vicars of Christ and the successors of His Apostles. They in turn delegate authority to the priests who delegate certain authority to the laity. In this "organizational chart" the laity are a vital component, yet they are not and should not be delegated the authority commensurate with Christ's consecrated and ordained. Yet, in contrast to this it's almost like the inmates are running the asylum. While the increased role of the laity has led to many fruits in the Church, tapping their talents for the good of God's people, it has also led to a complacency in praying and fostering vocations. Many whom God has called have turned a deaf ear to Jesus' beckoning. The result has been an erosion within the foundation of the Church, but His Church was not built on sand but upon a solid rock (cf Matthew 8: 24-27) and Christ promised He would be with us always (cf Matthew 28: 20) charging Peter with the charge of His Church, "thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16: 18).
Therefore, we know God will prevail and vocations will resurrect, but we can expedite the process through prayer. In the next installment, we will focus on prayer - the lifeline of the Church and the guidelines Our Lady has outlined at Medjugorje for prayer from the heart. For those who pray, those who submit their wills to the Divine Will, can be assured of one thing: they will be counted among the chosen ones in whatever vocation God so deigns and be robed in the garment of grace for the Heavenly feast that awaits those who are faithful to Him and His Holy Church.
Next installment: Part Two Time to seek Mercy: Verbi Sponsa
I come today to ask all of my children everywhere that in their daily lives you examine and live the example given you by God's beloved saint, Francis. O! Little children, St. Francis exemplified the Holy Gospel, and his life radiated the goodness of God. So closely did he resemble my Divine Son that he bore the Sacred Wounds of the Savior of the world.
Your world has no peace. Very few of my children experience the interior peace of my Divine Son. If you wish to have peace, within yourself and in your world, you must put off all self-seeking and deny yourself, taking up your daily cross in imitation of my Divine Son.
Let all the world lay aside anger, bitterness, pride, jealousy and lust for power. Let each seek God alone and in union with God seek the right relationship with his neighbor. Let your prayer for peace come from your heart, so that in these end times you may help to renew Holy Mother Church in the time of great heresy and schism.
I love and bless you with my motherly blessing. Thank you for responding to my Call!
I, the Mother of God, rejoice with all of my children as the True Church prepares to honor me under my title of Our Lady of the Rosary. I desire for all who are truly consecrated to my Immaculate Heart to say at least five decades of the Holy Rosary every day for my Divine Son's Vicar on earth, my holy, beloved Pope John Paul II. O! My children, his cross is very heavy, and you do not know how he suffers in these end times. To him Heaven has revealed many things, and the Holy Spirit enlightens him. Yet, how vast the number of his enemies; daily the number grows greater. On all sides he is assailed, both from without and within the Church.
I weep for the world! I weep for my children who are arrogant and proud and do not humbly obey the laws of my Divine Son's True Church! Intellectual pride is the great corrupter of men in these last days. It is satan's powerful weapon.
I, the Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception do solemnly tell you that there are many, many souls who shall spend many years in Purgatory because of the sin of intellectual pride, and great shall be their torments in this place of purification!
Many, many prayers are needed, and I call upon all my children to renew their commitment to live a life of prayer, for only in this way am I able to help you.
Dear children, the time has come! This month of October begins for all the world that period of time known to God alone when even greater sorrows shall be visited upon every nation. No nation shall be spared, and in your country, so rich in earthly blessings, the sorrows shall mount, and the voices of the wicked shall be heard blaspheming against God! So, too, will be heard the voices of my little ones calling out to God for Mercy, and their voices shall be heard!
I, your Heavenly Mother shall be at your side. I, myself, shall carry your pleas to the Triune Divinity and obtain for you the graces of which you stand in need!
Be ever watchful in these last days that you do not fall into complacency for then you shall be caught in the fouler's snare.
Be of a generous, loving and merciful heart. Let all children be guarded well by their parents. Let all children daily be blessed upon their rising and their falling asleep, for the evil one, whose head My Immaculate Heart shall crush, shall seek to ruin the innocent ones by leading them to grave crimes.
On my feast as Our Lady of the Rosary, I shall seek from the Triune Divinity, abundant graces for all who so honor me. By these graces your soul shall receive infused knowledge and thus will your faith be strengthened for the time of severe chastisements.
Do not lose heart! You are not abandoned. I remain vigilant as a true mother. I bring all willing souls into the Refuge of my Divine Son's Sacred Heart. Please do as I ask that by your fervent prayers you may know my Divine Son's Peace, and you may awaken to His Mercy, which He desires to pour out upon the world.
Let all the earth proclaim the Divine Mercy. Let all who believe support by prayers and deed my new religious community of Divine Mercy which shall soon begin and will flourish! Pray, my little ones! O, Pray! Thank you for responding to my Call!