Sunday, June 23, 2013

If There Is No Humility, Love Remains Blocked

I have been really struggling lately with blogging.  I've started a lot of posts and found that I just have not been able to finish them.  I have a lot of thoughts and ideas, but when I see them in print, I feel they are a waste of time and no one will benefit from them.

My original purpose in blogging was to reach out to our suffering world and do something to spread the One Truth Faith, which is the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is the ark of salvation whose purpose is to bring Jesus Christ to the rest of the world.  As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, recently said, "It’s an absurd dichotomy to think one can live with Jesus, but without the Church, to follow Jesus outside the Church, to love Jesus and not the Church."  The Catholic Church is the only place that has the answers to all the truly important questions in life.  We have been given an ironclad promise by our Founder, Jesus Christ, that the Catholic Church, as imperfect as Her members are, can never lead us astray with her teachings.  

There is no doubt in my mind that the Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ.  I am intensely loyal to the Holy Father, successor to the Chair of Peter and Christ's representative on earth.  I proudly wear the label "Papist".  But when it comes to my own ideas, I can only parrot the words of John Lennon, "But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured."

I consider myself to be a "Traditional Catholic."  I love the Traditional Latin Mass and everything connected with it.  I believe such practices as Communion in the hand, altar girls and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are very harmful to people's faith.  When I was a little girl preparing for my first Communion, my teacher told us that no one but an ordained priest should handle a consecrated Host, and I still believe that is true.  I fully accept that these practices are allowed by the Catholic Church, but they are indults given against the personal wishes of our Holy Fathers.  It is the same as when the ancient Israelites asked for a king.  From I Samuel 8:
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
Sometimes God gives us what we ask not because we love Him but because we have rejected Him, and we pay a heavy price, which can now be seen throughout the entire Church.

As much as I love all things Traditional when it comes to Catholicism, I have found that I often have to separate myself from other "Traditionalists." Why? I got the answer today from a man who told me he has been going to a Traditional Latin Mass. He said he loves the Mass and intends to keep going despite certain things that really bother him. What "things" bother him? The people and their attitudes. Many of them have a "I'm right and everyone else is wrong" attitude, very intolerant and uncharitable.

Traditional Catholics tend to be very knowledgeable people. Many of them know the Latin Mass backwards and forwards and in Latin. Many of them have done a tremendous amount of reading and studying, and they know their faith very well. They can quote Pope Pius X verbatim. But what good is this knowledge if it doesn't lead to charity and mercy? As I Corinthians 8:1 says, "while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church."

Isaiah 66:2 tells us the most important qualities our Lord looks for:  "These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word."  You think you know the teachings of the Church?  There is one who knows better than you, and that is Satan.  Knowledge does not make you important or righteous.  Knowledge without love and humility does not impress God, and it does not lead to salvation.

I personally have been guilty of this very thing on this blog, and I am doing a mea culpa right here and now.  Being "right" is not what is important to God.  Our Lord doesn't care how much you know.  He cares how much you love.  Beating someone over the head with the truth is not an act of love.

Our Lord said that we must become as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  That doesn't mean that we don't need to learn spiritual truths.  But it does mean that if our knowledge does not include humility and love, we are no better than heretics.

A lot of Traditionalists were very offended by some comments recently made by Pope Francis. On June 10, the Traditionalist blog, Rorate Caeli, posted about a meeting Pope Francis had with CLAR (the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women). According to those who attended the meeting, Pope Francis told them there is a "Pelagian current ... in the Church at this moment."  Pelagianists were heretics condemned by the Church in the 5th Century. They did not believe in original sin and one of their core beliefs was that we can be good without Divine help or grace. This belief led them to put great emphasis upon their physical works. Pope Francis feels that some "restorationist groups" are examples of this in the Church today. Speaking of the "restorationist" groups, Pope Francis said:
I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council... One feels in 1940... An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries." Why don't they say, 'we pray for you, we ask...', but this thing of counting... And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through - not you, because you are not old - to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today...
Was Pope Francis condemning the Rosary?  Hardly.  Pope Francis prays fifteen mysteries of the Rosary every day.  He has a great devotion to our Lady, and in his first few months as pope, he has already led a couple of public rosaries.  Pope Francis is saying that we should not be putting emphasis upon our works, e.g. counting rosaries.  This is a trap that many Traditionalists are drawn into.    Counting rosaries is an example of putting the emphasis on ourselves by saying "look what I have done."  It precludes humility and love, and as St. Paul said, when this happens we become nothing more than a clanging symbol.

Pope Francis gave a very deep sermon on the subject of humility and love on the Feast of the Annunciation.  You can read an article concerning this sermon here.  According to this article, the central focus of this sermon was "For the Christian, 'making progress' means 'lowering oneself' on the road of humility in order allow God’s love to emerge and be clearly seen."  From the article:
The way of Christian humility rises up to God, as those who bear witness to it “stoop low” to make room for charity. The liturgical feast of the Annunciation occasioned this reflection from Pope Francis, as he celebrated the Annunciation Mass on Monday morning. The Pope said that the road taken by Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the imperial census was a road of humility. There was the humility of Mary, who “did not understand well,” but “[entrusted] her soul to the will of God.” Joseph was humble, as he “lowered himself” to take on the “great responsibility” of the bride who was with child.
“So it is always with God’s love,” said Francis, “that, in order to reach us, takes the way of humility.” This was the same way that Jesus walked, a way that humbled itself even unto the Cross. Pope Francis went on to say that, for a Christian, “[T]his is the golden rule,” according to which progress and advancement always come through lowering oneself. “One can take no other road,” he said, adding, “if I do not lower myself, if you do not lower yourself, you are not a Christian.”
Pope Francis went on to say, “Being humble does not mean going on the road,” with “downcast eyes.” Such was not the humility of Jesus, or his mother or his foster father, Joseph. The Holy Father underlined that the way of humility is the one that leads to the triumph of the Resurrection. “Let us ask God for the grace of humility,” he prayed, “that humility, which is the way by which charity surely passes,” for, “if there is no humility, love remains blocked, it cannot go [forward].”
St. Francis, our Holy Father's patron saint, told us to preach always and use words if necessary. I believe this is saying that the best way to bring the saving message of Christ's Gospel to the world is not in words but in actually living the Gospel. I have come to realize that my opinions and ideas are utterly unimportant, that the only thing that matters is if I am humble and loving. Who am I to tell anyone anything? I am a sinner who stumbles and falls many times each day. The only thing of value that I have to offer anyone is to point to our Lord.

I have changed the description of my blog to "The Journey of One Catholic Searching for Truth in a World Gone Mad." Christ told us He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Since the Catholic Church is Christ's Mystical Body, then the Church, with all her faults and failings, is the Way, the Truth and the Life here on earth. So I know that I have found Objective Truth. My struggle is to purge my own ideas and opinions which mean nothing and replace those empty, barren ideas with the Eternal Objective Truth of our Lord as found in the Catholic Church.

I have made several mistakes in my journey to date. First of all, I have trusted too much in myself. I have learned a few things and become puffed up with pride, thinking I knew it all. Secondly, I have listened to too many other people who, without knowing it, have struggled with this same problem. A little bit of knowledge can make us sound so good, but if there is no Godly Charity, it can bear no fruit.
One other vital lesson that I have learned is that we must always remain loyal to the Holy Father. He is the divinely ordained Vicar of Christ, the one man who can never lead us astray in faith and morals. Far too many of my fellow Traditionalists claim to support the Holy Father but seem to have no difficulty whatsoever in being his harshest critic, constantly second guessing him. I denounce all who do that. I am not saying I understand everything Pope Francis says and does, but what does that matter? As I have previously written, my ideas and opinions mean nothing. Our Lord once said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."  As St. Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:7 - "We walk by faith, not by sight."

We live in a world that is guided by an evil, supernatural being whose specialty is appearing as an angel of light, transforming good into evil and evil into good. God's Word warns us that he roams about the world seeking whom he may devour. If we are not consciously putting Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, this cunning, deceptive being will fill that vacuum.

Pope Francis, in his first sermon to the bishops after his election said this:
In these three readings, I see a common element: that of movement. In the first reading, it is the movement of a journey; in the second reading, the movement of building the Church; in the third, in the Gospel, the movement involved in professing the faith. Journeying, building, professing.
Journeying. "O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Is 2:5). This is the first thing that God said to Abraham: Walk in my presence and live blamelessly. Journeying: our life is a journey, and when we stop moving, things go wrong. Always journeying, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with the blamelessness that God asked of Abraham in his promise.
Building. Building the Church. We speak of stones: stones are solid; but living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. Building the Church, the Bride of Christ, on the cornerstone that is the Lord himself. This is another kind of movement in our lives: building.
Thirdly, professing. We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord. When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sandcastles: everything is swept away, there is no solidity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: "Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil." When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.
Journeying, building, professing. But things are not so straightforward, because in journeying, building, professing, there can sometimes be jolts, movements that are not properly part of the journey: movements that pull us back.
This Gospel continues with a situation of a particular kind. The same Peter who professed Jesus Christ, now says to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. That has nothing to do with it. I will follow you on other terms, but without the Cross. When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward.
My prayer for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, will grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ crucified. Amen.
As we approach the Feast of John the Baptist, I think it is appropriate to quote this most important saint in his attitude towards Christ:  "He must increase, but I must decrease."

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