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THURSDAY             July 9, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 133

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO


"And behold, I am with you, even to the end of time"

     As part of our summer service to readers who may not have had the opportunity to read the earliest chapters of our on-going megaseries on the Church today, we repeat the early installments beginning with the very first one in our inaugural issue back in January 1996 in which we pose the question as to what "Catholic" truly means. For the first installment, click on WHERE IS HOLY MOTHER CHURCH HEADING AS WE NEAR THE MILLENNIUM?.
Installment One
      In this day and age, for many Catholics, the topic of where the Roman Catholic Church is headed is fodder for lively debate. Sometimes the opinions are so animated that they make ultra-conservative Rush Limbaugh sound like a pansy in comparison. Yet, for the majority of Catholics around the globe, the notion of where the Church is headed, if anywhere, is mundane, and certainly not a concern of theirs. Unfortunately, into this latter category fall the multitude of "lukewarm Catholics" who don't seem to care or don't seem to want to know, who prefer to show up for Sunday Mass or maybe just sleep in, and go about their "life" without such a weighty concern.

      In this inaugural issue on the CATHOLIC-INTERNET NETWORK, we wish to address this serious issue to the best of our finite ability, recognizing that God knows where His One True Church is headed, and that the bottom line is and remains that which Sacred Scripture contains: "And behold, I am with you, even to the end of time" Matthew 28:20.

      If the above questions were asked of those who espouse the "liberation theology" of today, the feminists who espouse ordination for women priests, etc., the overwhelming response would be that the Church as a whole is not moving forward fast enough to satisfy the needs of the people. They would argue that the Church is indeed mired in the centuries old tradition that seems to preclude forward motion. They would suggest that the Church needs to become more enlightened as it were, a bit more "modern", keeping up with the times, with societal changes. And for these people, the changes that have come about are too little and have taken far too long, and these changes do not keep pace with the ever-changing society in which we live.

      Ask any traditional, staunch conservative Catholic the above question, and the overwhelming response is that the Church as a whole seems to be headed toward disaster, the "abomination of desolation in the temple" (cf.Matthew 24:15) as recorded in the New Testament. To these people the changes the Church has undergone over the last thirty years are ridiculous, having ruined the fabric of long standing tradition, and with the hoopla that the liberal press gives to the dissenters within the Church's ranks it seems we're headed for schism, heresy, and the fulfillment of Scripture as given in the Book of the Apocalypse.

      Is there a right and a wrong here? Can any one group say with pure heart and clear conscience that they're right and the other guys are dead wrong? Who among us is without sin that we should throw stones? Before any side clamors for the "correct" or "popular" side, consider the conditions put upon this: a pure heart and a clear conscience. Who among us can claim this with such humility as to be pleasing before the Triune Divinity? Hardly anyone. We are all partly right, and partly wrong, because our human emotions and desires get in the way, and these emotions, most often, have absolutely nothing to do with our relationship to God, or His to us. In fact, we bring God along into our emotions, and consequently get Him jumbled up with our crazy ups and downs in life, and make Him an arguable point when, in truth, God is not arguable, because He is the Eternal Truth.

      For any Catholic who was raised in the Church prior to Vatican II, it is evidently clear that something very significant was "lost" when the sweeping changes came upon us. Does that make Vatican Council II wrong? No!

WHAT ABOUT VATICAN TWO?

      The bottom line is this: The Vatican Council II (October 11, 1962 to December 8, 1965) was intended to bring in some fresh air to the Church; the fresh air being, of course, the Holy Spirit. Such an intention comes from God and is supported by God for the sake of His One True Church. What happened because of this well and holy-intentioned idea is something that we are still grappling with.

      Have you read the documents of the Vatican Council II? Be honest now, have you read them, not just head about them? Okay, then have you read the post-concillar documents relating to this Council? Again, have you truly read them, or have you just heard about them from various "authorities"?

      These documents are readily available and from all that we've poured over, we reassure the reader that the Vatican Council documents support the fact that the intent of this council was to re-invigorate the Church in a holy and positive way and was never intended to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. If you doubt this, retrieve the documents and read them, in part or in whole, and you'll begin to understand just how clever the evil one has been all along, and how we've been sold a bag of hooey [editor's choice of words] by those in authority who should know better.

      Does this mean we're naysaying the Vatican Council II? No, not in the least. We want to make that very clear as we have always stressed the importance of the traditions of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

      Some may want to put a label on our viewpoint but we prefer to not label ourselves "right wing" or "left wing" but "centered-on-Christ", translated: "Roman Catholics." Do we still cling to the treasured traditions of the pre-Vatican II era? Yes, for nothing major was changed by and through the Council Fathers at Vatican II. The Council did not throw out Latin, kneeling for Holy Communion, proper liturgical music, proper translation of Holy Scripture; nor did they wish for the decline in vocations, devotions such as the Rosary, the laxity among our vowed religious, etc. In addition, the Council Fathers did not empower ICEL to totally mistranslate the Sacramentary and Lectionary; nor did the Council ever encourage any group of bishops to undermine or question the Papal Authority. On the contrary, the Vatican Council recognized its rich traditions and sought to keep them intact. Yes, it's true. The Tridentine traditions that had been in place for well over 400 years were not thrown out the window as the majority of the laity were led to believe. His holiness Pope John XXIII and his successor Pope Paul VI both sought to open a window of opportunity and, on the wings of the Holy Spirit, bring a breath of fresh air into the Church which admittedly needed to re-vibrate, having fallen into a state of ecclesialogical complacency exhibiting a stagnant liturgy to many. Too many liberals, however, sought this "window of opportunity" to allow the evil one in as they misinterpreted the Council Fathers, or worse, sought to rewrite the rules according to their own agenda in deference to God's Will. The result has become evident. It was even detected as early as 1968 when Paul VI, near death, proclaimed: "We had intended to open a window and let a breath of fresh air in, but instead a tempest has blown in and Satan is now in the Sanctuary."

      If this is indeed true, and the evidence points overwhelmingly that it is, then what can we as concerned Catholics do? Whatever "changes" were made were approved, by and large, to fit the "exception" rather than the rule. Yet, over the years the "exception" has become the rule and nothing is exceptional any more. For example, as cradle Catholics, we pose this question to many of our readers: How many felt that as changes were introduced in the Church and spoken about from the pulpit, that they were totally sanctioned by the Holy Father (first Pope Paul VI and then Pope John Paul II) who, being the Vicar of Christ, must know of these changes and have approved them?

      Point two: How many, feeling that somehow our Pope had approved these changes, did so believing that the bishops, priests and nuns were totally behind and obedient to the Holy Father, and thus, would never steer us wrong?

      Lo and behold, in these last years how many, heeding the messages of the Blessed Mother of God from LaSallette to Medjugorje and beyond, woke up and realized, with some sense of shock, that the full communion among the priests and bishops with the Holy Father was sadly lacking? In some cases it was even missing. How many realized that was was being touted from many pulpits across the country was contrary to the Pope's wishes, and was likewise contrary to the decrees of the Vatican Council per se?

      Once this realization became apparent, how many became confused, lost, turned-off, or perhaps even became militant dissidents succumbing to the wave of "new age", "humanist" and "liberation theology" sprouting up like ragweed in the Church?

      On the other hand, how many had become so accustomed to the "new" Catholic Church in America that any thoughts of returning to what the Vatican Council documents truly state and to a more traditional, stable Catholic faith were impossible to comprehend. This mind-set lead many to dig in like Missouri mules; many becoming "dissident militants" harping for even more changes, not giving any thought whether these changes were needed or whether it was the correct course to follow.

      Somewhere, in the above, lies the breeding ground for the polarization that is now so entrenched in the Catholic Church. Dissention, anger, jealousy, bitterness, and yes, apathy, seem to dominate the news in this day and age. Thanks to the liberal media - the "false prophets" of today - who feed on bad news, most of the time all we hear is the "dark" side of Catholicism. A good example of this was the sacriligeous film "Priest" which, unfortunately is now in the video stores. Let's pray these tapes will collect cob-webs and, through heavenly assistance, they will not function in VCR machines. God can allow the "bugs" to prevent the tapes from being viewed... if we pray!

      Adding to these bonfires are the rampant voyeuristic articles attempting to expose priests as pedophiles. True, pedophile priests need to be weeded out for they are indeed a blight on all other priests. But the manipulating media make no effort to identify them as the exception but rather as part and parcel of the order of the holy priesthood. This is a direct assault on all that is holy within the foundations of Holy Mother Church.

      From the persecution of the martyrs to the Saracens, from the Protestant Reformation to the French Revolution right up to today, the Church has been attacked at her roots and has withstood all attacks from without. What has weakened her the most throughout history are the attacks from within. In the next installment we will begin to identify these attacks and offer ways to combat them.


Biblical evidence affirming the sacredness of the sabbath

     We continue with our marathon of installments on the Apostolic Letter Dies Domini released Tuesday in order to bring the readers the entire document over the next several weeks, including footnotes at the end of each installment. Today we bring you the first part of Chapter One: "The Celebration of the Creator's Work." For the second installment on keeping the Lord's day holy, click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

CHAPTER ONE: The Celebration of the Creator's Work    part one

"Through him all things were made" (Jn 1:3)

      8. For the Christian, Sunday is above all an Easter celebration, wholly illumined by the glory of the Risen Christ. It is the festival of the "new creation". Yet, when understood in depth, this aspect is inseparable from what the first pages of Scripture tell us of the plan of God in the creation of the world. It is true that the Word was made flesh in "the fullness of time" (Gal 4:4); but it is also true that, in virtue of the mystery of his identity as the eternal Son of the Father, he is the origin and end of the universe. As John writes in the Prologue of his Gospel: "Through him all things were made, and without him was made nothing that was made" (1:3). Paul too stresses this in writing to the Colossians: "In him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible .... All things were created through him and for him" (1:16). This active presence of the Son in the creative work of God is revealed fully in the Paschal Mystery, in which Christ, rising as "the first fruits of those who had fallen asleep" (1 Cor 15:20), established the new creation and began the process which he himself will bring to completion when he returns in glory to "deliver the kingdom to God the Father ..., so that God may be everything to everyone" (1 Cor 15:24,28).

      Already at the dawn of creation, therefore, the plan of God implied Christ's "cosmic mission". This Christocentric perspective, embracing the whole arc of time, filled God's well-pleased gaze when, ceasing from all his work, he "blessed the seventh day and made it holy" (Gn 2:3). According to the Priestly writer of the first biblical creation story, then was born the "Sabbath", so characteristic of the first Covenant, and which in some ways foretells the sacred day of the new and final Covenant. The theme of "God's rest" (cf. Gn 2:2) and the rest which he offered to the people of the Exodus when they entered the Promised Land (cf. Ex 33:14; Dt 3:20; 12:9; Jos 21:44; Ps 95:11) is re-read in the New Testament in the light of the definitive "Sabbath rest" (Heb 4:9) into which Christ himself has entered by his Resurrection. The People of God are called to enter into this same rest by persevering in Christ's example of filial obedience (cf. Heb 4:3-16). In order to grasp fully the meaning of Sunday, therefore, we must re-read the great story of creation and deepen our understanding of the theology of the "Sabbath".

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gn 1:1)

      9. The poetic style of the Genesis story conveys well the awe which people feel before the immensity of creation and the resulting sense of adoration of the One who brought all things into being from nothing. It is a story of intense religious significance, a hymn to the Creator of the universe, pointing to him as the only Lord in the face of recurring temptations to divinize the world itself. At the same time, it is a hymn to the goodness of creation, all fashioned by the mighty and merciful hand of God.

      "God saw that it was good" (Gn 1:10,12, etc.). Punctuating the story as it does, this refrain sheds a positive light upon every element of the universe and reveals the secret for a proper understanding of it and for its eventual regeneration: the world is good insofar as it remains tied to its origin and, after being disfigured by sin, it is again made good when, with the help of grace, it returns to the One who made it. It is clear that this process directly concerns not inanimate objects and animals but human beings, who have been endowed with the incomparable gift and risk of freedom. Immediately after the creation stories, the Bible highlights the dramatic contrast between the grandeur of man, created in the image and likeness of God, and the fall of man, which unleashes on the world the darkness of sin and death (cf. Gn 3).

      10. Coming as it does from the hand of God, the cosmos bears the imprint of his goodness. It is a beautiful world, rightly moving us to admiration and delight, but also calling for cultivation and development. At the "completion" of God's work, the world is ready for human activity. "On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done" (Gn 2:2). With this anthropomorphic image of God's "work", the Bible not only gives us a glimpse of the mysterious relationship between the Creator and the created world, but also casts light upon the task of human beings in relation to the cosmos. The "work" of God is in some ways an exemple for man, called not only to inhabit the cosmos, but also to "build" it and thus become God's "co-worker". As I wrote in my Encyclical Laborem Exercens, the first chapters of Genesis constitute in a sense the first "gospel of work".(10) This is a truth which the Second Vatican Council also stressed: "Created in God's image, man was commissioned to subdue the earth and all it contains, to rule the world in justice and holiness, and, recognizing God as the creator of all things, to refer himself and the totality of things to God so that with everything subject to God, the divine name would be glorified in all the earth".(11)

      The exhilarating advance of science, technology and culture in their various forms an ever more rapid and today even overwhelming development is the historical consequence of the mission by which God entrusts to man and woman the task and responsibility of filling the earth and subduing it by means of their work, in the observance of God's Law.

"Shabbat": the Creator's joyful rest

      11. If the first page of the Book of Genesis presents God's "work" as an exemple for man, the same is true of God's "rest":"On the seventh day God finished his work which He had done" (Gn 2:2). Here too we find an anthropomorphism charged with a wealth of meaning.

      It would be banal to interpret God's "rest" as a kind of divine "inactivity". By its nature, the creative act which founds the world is unceasing and God is always at work, as Jesus himself declares in speaking of the Sabbath precept: "My Father is working still, and I am working" (Jn 5:17). The divine rest of the seventh day does not allude to an inactive God, but emphasizes the fullness of what has been accomplished. It speaks, as it were, of God's lingering before the "very good" work (Gn 1:31) which his hand has wrought, in order to cast upon it a gaze full of joyous delight. This is a "contemplative" gaze which does not look to new accomplishments but enjoys the beauty of what has already been achieved. It is a gaze which God casts upon all things, but in a special way upon man, the crown of creation. It is a gaze which already discloses something of the nuptial shape of the relationship which God wants to establish with the creature made in his own image, by calling that creature to enter a pact of love. This is what God will gradually accomplish, in offering salvation to all humanity through the saving covenant made with Israel and fulfilled in Christ. It will be the Word Incarnate, through the eschatological gift of the Holy Spirit and the configuration of the Church as his Body and Bride, who will extend to all humanity the offer of mercy and the call of the Father's love.

TOMORROW: Part Three of Dies Domini: Chapter One, "The Celebration of the Creator's Work" part two.


We must be united in prayer against satan and totally behind the Pope

      That is the essence of the Blessed Mother Mary's words in her 163rd and 164th messages to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart, which we bring you today. Our Lady urges her children to use the tools we have been given to "Pray! Pray! Pray!" Only by praying can we activate the weapon of the Rosary to make it effective, keep satan at bay, and unite strongly behind our holy Vicar of Christ John Paul II. Click on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..."

Messages One Hundred Sixty-Five and Sixty-Six

Message One Hundred Sixty-Five, March 13, 1992

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

Message One Hundred Sixty-Six, March 14, 1992

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

June 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

   Dear children! Today I desire to thank you for living my messages. I bless you all with my motherly blessing and I bring you all before my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.

For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE

PROVERB OF THE DAY

"Rich and poor have a common bond: the Lord is the maker of them all."

Proverbs 22: 1


Click here to go to SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.


July 9, 1998 volume 9, no. 133   DAILY CATHOLIC