Thursday, January 29, 2015

Humility on Parade

Just Another Humble Moment in the Life of Pope Francis

Much acclaimed for his humility, Pope Francis once again captured headline news by uttering what strikes me as strangely disquieting judgments upon other pilgrim souls.

I reprimanded a woman in a parish a few months ago because she was pregnant with her eighth after seven cesarean sections. But she wants to leave seven orphans? This is to tempt God. There is talk of responsible parenthood. That is the way: responsible parenthood.” He went on to comment that Catholics do not need to breed like“rabbits” as the Church allows for acceptable ways to regulate births.

Here, once again, The Holy Father's famed humility is on display for all to see and wonder at behind the closed doors of inner hearts.

Jesus Christ and His Church, founded on the rock that is Peter, has given the world true religion. It is the “true philosophy” as Justin Martyr, an early founding father sometimes called it.    As Jesus embodies truth, so does his Church which is his Mystical body on Earth.  Here's the catch, in order for there to be a true religion there must also be false religion. Today in my beloved Church and for perhaps the entire lives of many now living, the true religion (the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith) has been and is being obscured as if by a mist or better yet smoke that has filtered across our spiritual eyes and is obscuring our Catholic sight. Mist is not the best word because, although it may obscure our vision, it cannot choke the life out of us, as can smoke. The most troubling thing about the current “crisis of faith” as some call it, is that the smoke filling the Church is primarily emanating from representatives of the Church itself. It's coming from within. Pope Francis has already lobbed many a smoke-bomb during his short pontificate.

Jesus said that if your eye is sound your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is darkened, how great is the darkness! I often have wondered about His meaning. One day I simply understood. If we perceive truth correctly, then our whole being will be filled with the light of God. We will know. We will understand. We will perceive the mysteries of true religion by that light. By religion, I mean we will understand who God is, what is his will and what exactly he expects of us. If our perception of truth is obscured however, our thinking will cloud our judgments and thus our actions. Our behavior will not truly reflect the love and compassion of God no matter how it may appear to an unbelieving world.

It would be foolhardy of any religious system to separate God’s will from His expectations of us, as the two are inseparable. We are saved, not by faith alone, but by grace. The life of the blessed mother is a perfect example of the union of God’s will with Gods expectations of humanity. According to the Angel Gabriel, Mary was filled with grace. That very fullness of grace demonstrates that she was sinless. By grace, her eye was filled with light. Her heart was filled with God and as such her will was in union with the divine will. She consistently chose to act in accordance with God’s will bringing the two into union.

The book of Genesis makes clear God's expectations of us. God alone determines right and wrong, good and bad. His judgments may seem at times to be arbitrary, as in the case of Eden’s fruit, but they are not. God requires that we choose obedience or disobedience. Therein, lies the will of God. Therein lies the essence of morality. It is intriguing that the choice offered to Adam and Eve had no other moral implication attached to it, only pure obedience, one fruit over another, both equally tasty and available for the taking. The morality lay only with the choice and the declared will of God. Would our first parents obey or not? The requirement of free will is foundational to every human relationship with God and if our eye is sound and we correctly perceive truth and then choose the right, we will live in spiritual freedom and all will be light. All things will be possible. In other words, humans have the ability to reject sin and live in freedom, but only by the permeating grace of God. It is difficult to choose the right however, if we do not know what is right and how shall we know it, if no one will teach us? And whose job is it to teach us? Christ’s Church of course, headed by the current Pontiff.

As God himself is the arbiter of what is good and what is evil and God has tasked the Catholic Church to be is His instrument in defining, teaching and preserving the fullness His truth, the primary responsibility of any Pope in union with the worlds Bishops, is to fulfill those duties. It is not the Holy Father's task, to expound upon his own private opinions, which Pope Francis does with regularity. The contemporary undereducated Catholic is in serious jeopardy of mistaking private opinion for authentic Catholic teaching, which, by its very nature, embodies TRUTH. I have had numerous conversations with other Catholics who think that because the Pope says something, it must be true and represents the teachings of the Catholic Church. The private opinion of any man, whether he be Pope or stamp collector, is only that, a man's opinion. The clearer the eye of the man, the wiser the opinion.  It reminds me of the freedom felt by the Hollywood elite in expressing their expertise on public affairs and foreign policy because they believe so greatly in their own talent and knowledge.
 It seems to me that something of a rockstar mentality is on display by the Pope's many unscripted remarks.

Going back to Pope Francis’ reprimand (his word not mine) to the pregnant mother, perhaps he should revisit his own words as expressed on another occasion, “ If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Hmm . . .

The Holy Father does not feel qualified to comment on homosexuality and the Gay lobby in the Curia. . . even though the church has always and everywhere condemned the behavior as intrinsically disordered and in direct opposition of the revealed will of God. The Homosexual lobby in America is now so powerful that its' presence is felt in every public school and is effectively influencing untold number of children.  Gay ‘marriage’ is now becoming the social norm . . . to the detriment of souls and society. The Transgender movement is now gaining boldness and gender confusion is even leading many people to self-mutilation, seeking relief from their inner torments.

Hmm . . .

Yet the Holy Father feels perfectly comfortable reprimanding and judging a faithful Catholic mother and wife, who by all evidence is trusting in God and fulfilling the Lords righteous and sometimes difficult command to be fruitful and multiply. She and her husband are bringing forth a new and hopefully future citizen of heaven. God is the creator of that tiny person within her womb. Has Pope Francis no fear of judging the unnamed mother of his example? He does not fear to judge these parents characterizing them as irresponsible and even of tempting God. That is not a light charge. Who is he to Judge, after all? What of God Himself? Does he not fear judging God as it is God who gave life to this child? Is not each child of a marriage a blessing? Isn't that what scripture declares? Who is he to judge after all? His attitude does not strike me as humble, but of a man too full of his own thoughts.

Pope Francis could have taken the opportunity to exercise his authentic teaching office, and explained with true charity that homosexuality is contrary to the will of God, the Creator, and although such feelings and attraction are not, in themselves sinful, they are disordered and acting upon them IS sinful and destructive to the human person. In other words, he could have spoken the truth in humble submission to the truth. Jesus said that truth has the power to liberate. True humility is bold and courageous. It loves. It does not fear disapprobation. It’s not very courageous to criticize a pregnant woman who is following the dictates of her conscience according to the TRUTH as taught by the Catholic Church. Jesus Christ embodied real humility and He directly, boldly confronted sin when the need arose. Jesus called the Pharisees, “white washed tombs filled with dead men’s bones.” He used a whip upon the merchants in the temple. Rather bold stuff! He told the woman caught in adultery, “go and sin no more.” That is real compassion, to speak the truth in love, to urge repentance and conversion.

Revelation 3:15-16
I know your deeds that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are neither one or another I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 

You Gotta just love God! Spit! No mincing words with Him!

Luke 34-35
 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? “It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

There the Lord goes again, being politically incorrect and insensitive, saying that  Christian disciples who aren't salty, aren't  even worthy of inhabiting a manure pile.

The danger of Pope Francis’ ill considered words is self-evident. What little moral teaching is left to the ever dwindling population of practicing, true believing Catholics is being watered down by the very people entrusted to preserve and teach the faith. When I first read the Pontiff’s comments about Gays in the Curia, I felt angry. I was angry because I believe that Pope Francis was throwing dust in the eyes of both the Catholic and secular worlds. No, wrong word again. He was throwing a smoke bomb into the the cafeteria that is today's contemporary Catholicism, where misguided compassion, lukewarm kisses and watered down doctrine have no power to save. As King Solomon of old said, “Better the wounds of a friend than the honeyed kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 25)

Matt 6:22-23 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if the eye is sound, the whole body will be filled with light. But if the eye is not sound your whole body will be filled with darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

That is the pertinent question which the modern Catholic must face. How great is the darkness within? How much smoke is obscuring the truths of our faith? Pope St. Paul VI during a homily in 1972 asserted his feeling that “the smoke of Satan had entered into the temple of God, obscuring the work of the Council.” A grave warning indeed and forty three years later, the Church is in crisis by all measures. Vocations are at crisis levels. Catholic marriages rival the rest of society in the number of divorces. Most Catholics neither understand nor believe in the doctrine of the real presence. Mass attendance is thought to be a matter of choice. Confessionals are empty. Catholic colleges are in name only and some of our Priests are guilty of perverted sexual crimes.  . “ However, when the son of man returns will He find faith on Earth?” Luke 18:8 There is one remedy. We must look to Fatima and Our Lady's message for the help that we need.

I for one, will faithfully represent the authentic teachings of our faith and not muddy the waters with honeyed kisses that obscure the expectations of so great a God as we have. The Pope and the Church should be concerned for the souls of all and especially those who sin, rather than comforting them in their sinfulness. In conclusion, I have no interest in his Holiness' personal opinion. What I am interested in is hearing the opinion of Christ, the authentic voice of the Church. I am interested in hearing proclaimed aloud, the authentic teaching of the true religion, the fullness of truth which has power to save and to change even the hardened sinner. That is the call and responsibility of all of our priests and most especially the hierarchy of God's Church on earth. Pope Francis must first earn my human admiration and trust if he wishes for me to admire his human opinion and that he has not done.