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?"
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
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
"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.
"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,
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
"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:
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