Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Arrogance and Reproach have now Become Strong; It is a Time of Ruin and Furious Anger.

I used to accuse some people, quite uncharitably, and often with a sneer, that they were "more Catholic than the Pope." These people were more often than not critics of Vatican II, attendees of the preconciliar Mass, Lefebvrists or Sede Vacantists. I actually once had a very cordial email discussion with a man identifying himself as Pope Pius XIII, who believed there had not been a valid pope since October 9, 1958 when Pius XII died, no pope that is until he was elected by the postal votes of a few hundred people scattered around the globe. It came as a shock to me then, back in June of 2013 when I finally realised that I, myself, was more Catholic than the Pope.

You see I had been noticing some things which disturbed me about Jorge Bergoglio since his election in April 2013. These began with his reported comment, later deniedthat he made when he refused the Mozzetta just before walking out onto the loggia of St Peter's that "the Carnival is over". Whether this vignette is true or not, I have no way of knowing, but from what I have seen and heard from Pope Bergoglio over the past two and a half years, I find it plausible and am inclined to believe it. The "rock star" treatment and attention that Francis has received from that moment has been unheard of in history, and this has been a very big factor in my unease about this pontificate. This Pope is TOO popular. Everyone loves him, everyone that is who is not a traditional Christ centred or well educated Catholic. The Masons love him, the LGBT lobby loves him, divorced and civilly remarried Catholics love him and the secular media absolutely loves him and all this love bothers me. I am bothered by it because, as a Catholic who occasionally reads the Bible outside of Mass, I am reminded of a few sayings of Jesus that warned his disciples against having the approval of the world. 

"Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets." (Lk 6:26)

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (Jn 15:18-19)

I know that Pope Francis can hardly be held responsible for the esteem that the world holds him in. I understand how a pope's words can and often have been quoted out of context. There was a perfect example of this after Benedict XVI's address at the university of Regensberg when time and time again his words were taken out of context. However, when Benedict was misquoted and his words were taken out of context it was usually done in order to criticise and attack him or the Church. The current situation is different. Francis is rarely criticised by the secular media. The Church is still regularly attacked, but not the new, gentler church of Francis.

Back in June 2013, I was reading Catholic stories on-line as I do to keep abreast of things, when I came across an account of a homily given by Francis during one of his morning Masses reported by Vatican Radio, in which he claimed that Jesus "became the sinner for us". Now this should be the type of claim that would get the attention of most Christians. There is something about it that grates on the ear.

Now let's be fair and put the Pope's words in their proper context. Francis was preaching on the text of St Paul's 2nd letter to the Corinthians chapter 5 verses 14-21 in which the Apostle to the Gentiles writes:

"We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (verses 20-21).

It was St Paul who said that Jesus became "sin" for us. The Pope was merely restating a long held teaching of the Church right? Well, no. St Paul didn't say that Jesus became the sinner for us, St Paul said that Jesus became sin for us. What's the difference? Well I am glad you asked. When St Paul says that Christ becomes sin for us, he means that He becomes the victim of our crime, we sin against others and Christ. In every sin, even solitary sins, Christ is the victim, In this way, when He says from the altar of the Cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34) it is not just the great crime of Deicide for which He is asking forgiveness, but also every sin committed which He took upon himself, becoming the victim, becoming our sin.

The difference between sin and a sinner is massive. One is an act, an event, an objective occurrence that offends God and man. The other is an individual, an actor a subjective person who commits an act which causes offence to God and man. A sin is a crime that cries to Heaven for justice, a sinner is a criminal who deserves the justice of God. The Victim, is the one who calls upon God to temper His Justice with Mercy. Only a perfect Victim, in whom there is no sin, can atone for the offence given to a perfect God. This is the meaning of both the incarnation and the crucifixion. Only through the appeal of the God Man Christ for His Divine Father's forgiveness, can we who are sinners, sons and daughters of fallen Adam, become the righteousness of God.

Pope Bergoglio, however, says that Christ... 

..."became the sinner for us. When we go to confession, for example, it isn’t that we say our sin and God forgives us. No, not that! We look for Jesus Christ and say: 'This is your sin, and I will sin again'. And Jesus likes that, because it was his mission: to become the sinner for us, to liberate us." 
(Pope Francis, Casa Santa Martha, 15 June, 2013)

The Pope imputes our sin to Christ, he denies the requirement for true remorse and a firm purpose of amendment not to sin again, and he claims that Jesus likes that! Is this anything less than blasphemy? It denies the reality of even the most basic act of contrition in which we promise to avoid all future occasions of sin "and with your help, I will not sin again". 

If we live at a time when there is a Pope in Rome who believes that Jesus likes it when we sin, who believes that Jesus becomes the sinner in our place leaving us spotless and free to continue sinning with impunity, is it any wonder, then, that we now find ourselves in the final week of a Synod which is seriously considering the possibility of allowing unrepentant public adulterers to receive the Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Holy Communion?  

It could be argued that if the Church were to admit public adulterers, active homosexuals, cohabiting couples to Holy Communion, if priests intended to distribute Holy Communion to people who are objectively in a state of mortal sin, and he intends to do this with the blessing of his Bishop and indeed the blessing of the Pope, then his intention is not the same as that which the Church has always had through 2000 years. The intention of the priest is not to consecrate the host for the adoration, worship and glorification of God and the sanctification of the faithful, but to consecrate the host for the additional purpose of desecration of the Host and the blasphemous reception of Holy Communion. If the intention changes, if the intention of the Pope, Bishops, and priests changes from that which the Church has supplied up until today, is it still valid. 

I haven't heard this question asked and I certainly haven't heard a convincing answer. There is more at stake here than conservative and progressive forces in the Church. What is at stake is not even the unity of the Body of Christ and open schism. What is at stake is the validity of the Mass and our Communion with Christ our Lord and King. It is time we return to the scriptures, to see what is happening and what we are to do.

The Church teaches that the Old Testament is a type of the New, and the New Testament is the fulfilment of the promise of the Old. There are lessons that we the children of the New Covenant can learn from the history of the children of Israel. In the time of the Maccabees, when the Holy of Holies was desecrated by worldly and sinful men, by Gentiles and Jews alike, Mattathias and his sons refused to burn incense before the idols of their day, they refused to lie down and be killed on the Sabbath by their enemies. Mattathias commended his sons to resist the world in the following words: 

“Arrogance and reproach have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger.  Now, my children, show zeal for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers.
“Remember the deeds of the fathers, which they did in their generations; and receive great honour and an everlasting name. Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. Phinehas our father, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel. Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom for ever. Elijah because of great zeal for the law was taken up into heaven. Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. Daniel because of his innocence was delivered from the mouth of the lions.
“And so observe, from generation to generation, that none who put their trust in him will lack strength. Do not fear the words of a sinner, for his splendour will turn into dung and worms. Today he will be exalted, but tomorrow he will not be found, because he has returned to the dust, and his plans will perish. My children, be courageous and grow strong in the law, for by it you will gain honour.
(1 Macc 2:49-64)

With these words in mind, Catholics should never cower or take as an insult epithets such as "Doctors of the Law." We need to remember the deeds of our fathers, of  Sts John the Baptist, Thomas Moore, John Fisher, Maria Goretti, Cyril of Jerusalem, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Sienna to name but a few. Those saints who defended Marriage, Family and the Eucharistic Lord. We must take courage and stand up to reject the heretical attack on the Body of Christ, the Church. We must ask ourselves, if not now then when will we stand up and be counted? We are now required to be more Catholic than the Pope, and to act according to all that implies.

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