Saturday, July 6, 2013

Meditation on the First Sorrowful Mystery: Not My Will But Thine Be Done

Today, July 5, is the First Saturday of the Month. The First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was first mentioned by Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917. After showing the three children a vision of hell she said, "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace... I shall come to ask for... the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays..." The First Saturday devotion is as follows:
It consists in going to Confession, receiving Communion, reciting five decades of the Rosary and meditating for a quarter of an hour on the mysteries of the Rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. The Confession may be made during the eight days preceding or following the first Saturday of each month, provided that Holy Communion be received in the state of grace. Should one forget to form the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it may be formed at the next Confession, occasion to go to confession being taken at the first opportunity.
June 30, 1988
From left to right: Bishops de Galarreta, 
Tissier de Mallerais, 
de Castro Mayer, Archbishop Lefebvre, 
and Bishops Williamson and Fellay
The Society of St. Pius X is a traditional Catholic organization founded by Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre in 1970. They were separated from Rome in 1988 when Archbishop LeFebvre disobeyed Blessed John Paul II and ordained four bishops, at which time Archbishop LeFebvre and the four bishops were excommunicated and the Society became schismatic. Archbishop LeFebvre died in this state in 1991, but Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of the four bishops in 2009. However, the Society remained schismatic. The Society announced at the end of June of this year that, in effect, they wish to remain separate from Rome because they will not accept the teachings of Vatican II and, in fact, consider the Vatican II documents to be in grave error. From the SSPX website:
Following Archbishop Lefebvre, we affirm that the cause of the grave errors which are in the process of demolishing the Church does not reside in a bad interpretation of the conciliar texts – a “hermeneutic of rupture” which would be opposed to a “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” – but truly in the texts themselves, by virtue of the unheard of choice made by Vatican II.
This statement from the SSPX, in its entirety, is a total repudiation of the Magesterium of the Catholic Church, as can be seen in the following excerpt:
The weakening of faith in Our Lord’s divinity favours a dissolution of the unity of authority in the Church, by introducing a collegial, egalitarian and democratic spirit, (see Lumen Gentium). Christ is no longer the head from which everything flows, in particular the exercise of authority. The Sovereign Pontiff who no longer exercises effectively the fullness of his authority, and the bishops who – contrary to the teaching of Vatican I – esteem that they can collegially and habitually share the fullness of the supreme power, commit themselves thereby, with the priests, to listen to and to follow ‘the people of God,’ the new sovereign. This represents the destruction of authority and in consequence the ruin of Christian institutions: families, seminaries, religious institutes.
The SSPX has declared themselves judge, juror and executioner of the Magesterium of the Catholic Church.  They have declared that they know better than the Pope, the divinely ordained Vicar of Christ. They stand in defiance of Christ's vicar and are saying, "Non Serviam."  I am sure that is not how they view it.  On the contrary, they see the Magesterium of the Church as saying "Non Serviam."  There is just one problem with that:  Our Lord promised us that it is not possible for the Magesterium to rebel against God.  Our Lord said to St. Peter and all of his successors (Matthew 16:18-19):
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 
Do I always understand everything that the Church does and says? Not by any means. But as St. Paul told us in II Corinthians 5:7 - "We walk by faith not by sight." I believe our Lord when he declared the Church to be His Mystical Body and said that we can never be misled by the teachings of His Mystical Body. As Christ said, so I say, "Thy will be done."

This takes us to my meditation on this First Saturday in July - the First Sorrowful Mystery:  the agony of our Lord in the Garden just prior to His arrest and crucifixion.  In the Garden, our Lord saw all of the sin of the entire world.  He saw the murders, the hatred, the destruction of humanity and the earth itself brought about by our rejection of God and His Law.  The thought of taking this upon Himself to be our Sacrifice before God was such a daunting prospect that He started to sweat blood and actually said to the Father:  "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me."  The human side of Jesus was completely overwhelmed by the task before Him.  His human side was actually looking for a way out.  But His humility and obedience won out and He ended this statement with, "nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."  

As followers of Christ, we will all go through a similar scenario at some point in our lives, and maybe on numerous occasions, in which Our Lord will ask to do so something, or not do something, that goes against everything inside of us. A prime biblical example of this was when Our Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. What if Abraham had balked and said, no Lord, that doesn't make sense to me. There has to be a better way. Isaac is the son of promise, the one through whom you will fulfill your covenant. I can't kill him. Besides, it's wrong to kill another human being. You abhor human sacrifice. This can't be right, and I'm not going to do it.

But none of these words came out of Abraham's mouth.  He did not argue with God.  He took his son, Isaac, and went up the mountain to sacrifice him in obedience to God's command.  He was just about to plunge the knife into Isaac when the angel stopped him and said, "Do not lay a hand on the boy, do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."  Because of this act, Abraham is called the Father of the Faithful.  

Our Lord displayed this kind of faithfulness in the Garden of Gethsemane when He agreed to become the sin sacrifice for all mankind.  "Not my will but thine be done."  This was one of our Lord's greatest lessons to all of us, and one which should be a part of every action in our lives.  Whatever we say or do, we should always ask, am I doing God's will or am I doing my will?  

The greatest enemy within each one of us is our pride, with which we were all tainted when we inherited original sin.  Pride says I know what's best, I'm right and you're wrong.  When pride gets in the way, we become our own god, our own magesterium.  Giving into pride means trusting our own feelings and thoughts.  Proverb 14:12 says, "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death."  

The SSPX is convinced that they are doing the right thing in rejecting the Magesterium of the Catholic Church.  But they could not be more wrong.  They can say they don't understand the documents of Vatican II and in their opinion, the documents do not seem to be in line with traditional Church teaching, but that is not what is important.  The only thing of any real importance is, do I believe the words of Jesus Christ and am I willing to say, "Not my will but thine be done."  

For a truly excellent article on why the SSPX and those who support them are wrong, please see this article entitled, "Schism, Obedience and the Society of St. Pius X," by John Beaumont and John Walsh, which you can find here.  As this article says, 
[M]any traditional Catholics look at the teaching of the pope and the bishops, at the Second Vatican Council and subsequently, judge it to be contrary to tradition and use this as a justification for disobeying it. However, this position is simply not supportable in the light of Catholic teaching and to adopt it is to undermine the very tradition one is attempting to defend because this approach is inconsistent with the whole notion of papal primacy and what flows from that.
In Matthew 7:21-23, our Lord issued a very ominous warning:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Unless we are allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in every action in our lives, our Lord will reject us. Could it ever be our Lord's will that we reject the teachings of His Church and His Vicar on earth?  That is not possible.  We can appear to be righteous and holy and doing the work of the Lord, but unless we have submitted our will to His, He will tell us, "I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!"  

Pray for those in the Society of St. Pius X and for all of those who refuse to humble themselves and submit to the Will of God.  This is not an easy thing to do.  St. Paul said in I Corinthians 9:27, "I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."  Your understanding and your intelligence, your ability to pose a good argument, will not qualify you for heaven.  The only virtue that qualifies any of us for heaven is obedience:  

Not my will but thine be done.  

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