DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     October 25, 1999     vol. 10, no. 203


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE

      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 treats the subject of beliefs - simply put: faith - and asks in whom do we trust - God or man? Too often society over the centuries has tried to rely on man and dismiss God as a superstitious nonentity. But when we place our trust in man, we get confusion, anger, turmoil, hate, jealousies, greed, even war and bloodshed. Pat shows how throughout nearly 2000 years all those who have placed their "faith" in man and the world have perished into oblivion while His Church, which is the true Faith based on God, continues and grows stronger. There must be something to this "Faith in God" thing, he rationalizes, showing through Sacred Scripture that this indeed is true as revealed in Divine Revelation. That is the gist of Pat's column today, Faith is meaningless if not rooted in God .

    If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at KnightsCross@aol.com

Faith is meaningless if not rooted in God

        Everyone is working overtime, it seems, on what is wrong with the Church. People are speculating how to get more people back to Mass, how to get more people involved. People are second guessing the Pope, Church teaching, etc. What is missing, when it's all taken and looked at together, is a lack of faith.

        "Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8).

        Everything we believe, everything we hold dear, or are supposed to hold dear, is based, ultimately, on faith. Why do we hold to the Pope and the teaching of the Magisterium? Because of faith. Why do we do good works, works of charity? Because of faith. Why are we willing, and even able, to withstand suffering and disappointment? Because of faith. Faith in God that is.

        We all have faith of one sort or another. In a debate between Fr. Ken Roberts and the American athiest, Madeline O'Hare, Fr. Roberts asked her to prove that there was no God. "I can't do that, it's impossible to prove that there is no God." He then responded, "Then your disbelief is based on faith just as mine is." Since God was someone an atheist can't see, touch, taste or hear, then, by faith, they conclude that He doesn't exist. Ultimately, then, their entire lives are lived according to that 'faith'.

        The same can be said of other kinds of 'faith'. Martin Luther, essentially, lost his faith in God by thinking that the Church had fallen away from the true Gospel message, even though Christ promised, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

        The notion that the Church fell away, and that 'he' rediscovered the truth, says, essentially that Christ was in error. That the powers of death, the gates of hell, DID prevail against the Church. Or even that the 'true' Church remained hidden for some 15 centuries, or had to go into hiding after the 'ascent' of the Catholic Church. It says Christ was mistaken, since, then, the Church was prevailed against. However, if we have faith in God, then there can be no doubt that the Church was not prevailed against. It did overcome the persecutions of Rome, transforming the Empire into a bastion of Christ.

        Some historians seem to think that, instead of Christianity overcoming Rome, Rome overcame Christianity. Again, that Christ was mistaken. But if Christ is God, then Rome could not overcome His Church. When one has no faith, other explanations have to be found.

        Consider Pharoah. "But Pharaoh said, 'Who is the LORD, that I should heed His voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover I will not let Israel go...' The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 'You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as heretofore; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks which they made heretofore you shall lay upon them, you shall by no means lessen it; for they are idle; therefore they cry, 'Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.' Let heavier work be laid upon the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words' " (Exodus 5:2; 6-9).

        Aren't we 'laden' with heavier work of all sorts so we pay no regard to 'lying' words? We're told the Church lies, is power hungry, etc. We should concern ourselves with racism, hunger, poverty, women rights, gay rights, etc. Yet, if we did regard the Church's teaching, Christ's teaching, would there be racism, hunger, poverty, etc.? Wouldn't women be treated with respect and wouldn't women cherish the lives of their children? Wouldn't sex be seen as a blessed gift and not a recreation? Can't we see that it's this lack of faith in the world which has brought us where we are?

        When God changed Aaron's rod into a snake, Pharaoh's magicians did the same through illusion. Even when God's snake devoured the others, Pharaoh thought it was nothing more than a good trick. When God changed the water of the Nile to blood so that no one could drink from it, and the fish died, again, Pharaoh's men gave him plausible explanations. So Pharaoh, again refused. In all of the miracles of God, Pharaoh believed that they were caused by other things, and not God. So it seems today. In a secular, atheistic world, God's power and glory are closed off, hearts hardened to see His glory. Whether it's man's coming to be solely through chance (evolution) or de-emphasizing His miracles (the people didn't cross the 'Red' Sea but the Reed Sea) God has to be removed from any and all equations. Thus it is that many refuse to acknowledge God in any way, but put their trust, their 'faith' in man. Man(kind), who gave us centuries of blood, oppression, and poverty. Every 'movement' by such men (and women) generally saw them impose an even more cruel thing on their people than the one they overthrew.

        The French Revolution was founded under the supposition of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Everyone was equal, a 'citizen'. But it didn't take long for the ideals of the revolution to become the Terror. Anyone who even disagreed (or was reported to disagree) with 'Citizen' Robespierre was sentenced to the guillotine.

        The Russian revolution was supposed to replace the oppression of the Czar with a workers paradise, where wealth and land was redistributed. Instead, it was replaced with a system even more oppressive, even crueler, than the Czar's ever were. Anyone even accused of being the least bit unsatisfied, was either locked into a psychiatric hospital (prison), sent to a Gulag, or treated as a non-person (if they were well enough known in the world). Much of what these two liberation movements pushed is heard today, in the US and throughout the world. And in both cases, God was forcibly removed from the people. Those who did have faith were ridiculed, persecuted, imprisoned, even killed.

        Those who knew God's power and glory, though, also lost their faith. "When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, 'Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And Aaron said to them, 'Take off the rings of gold which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.' So all the people took off the rings of gold which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'" (Exodus 32: 1-4).

        How many 'molten calves' do we have today? Since they lost faith in God, they lost faith in Moses, so they needed to make their own god. Today, we see those who 'say' they have faith in God, but say they have no faith in the leaders of the Church who God set to guide and teach His Church. So they make their own 'gods'.

        What does faith entail? Trusting in the Lord, even though our sense, and our logic, tell us differently. Abraham had faith in the Lord, even when He asked him to sacrifice his son to Him. As St. James says, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness'; and he was called the friend of God" (James 2: 21-23). Abraham's faith showed through his works, his actions. He didn't say, "This makes no sense, it isn't fair so I won't do it!" No, his faith told him to trust in the Lord.

        Consider the Roman centurion. All he needed was Christ's say so that his servant would be healed. "But the centurion answered Him, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it" (Matthew 8: 8-9). He didn't need to see Him heal his servant. He didn't need proof Christ would do it, or could do it. He knew He could, and if He said He would, that was enough.

        "When Jesus heard him, He marveled, and said to those who followed Him, 'Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith'" (Matthew 8: 10). Faith, it's the beginning. It's what we need to remain faithful, trusting. If we have no faith then we must replace it with another faith. Faith in men, women, politics, policies, etc. But, as seen, those who put their trust in these often find themselves in even worse positions.

        As the Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojytila (now John Paul II) asked, "Has this world brought the unbeliever to unbelief (loss of faith) or has his unbelief brought him to the world 'he' lives in?"

        We trust in the teachings of the Church and the Pope, not because of them as men, but precisely because we trust in God. We do works of mercy, not simply because it's the socially responsible thing to do, but because we have trust in God. "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith" (James 2:18). With faith, the Church is the bride of Christ, given His authority to teach and guide His people. Without faith, the Church is simply a medieval institution, which needs to be overcome, remade, overthrown. A power hungry, patriarchal, homophobic organization bent on it's own power.

        With faith, it is a loving mother tending her children who are Christ's, showing them the way home. Without faith in God, there will be no justice, no love, no compassion. Only rationalization and more oppression to give the illusion of love, justice, and compassion.

        "I believe in You, O God, because You are Truth itself, and as You have revealed them to her, I believe all the sacred truths which the holy Catholic Church believes and teaches."

    Pax Christi, Pat

October 25, 1999       volume 10, no. 203


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