Saturday, October 15, 2016

Blessed Cardinal

Last weekend, as we worshiped, our Holy Father Pope Francis announced his intention to create seventeen churchmen, mostly archbishops, new Cardinals for the Church at a Consistory to occur late next month in Rome.  Each responded to the announcement in his own chosen manner, usually involving a press conference.  Before such media events were an option, there was a small ceremony where the designated Cardinal-to-be would receive his “ticket” announcing the Holy Father’s intention, and then give a speech to the people invited to the event.  I recently learned of the famous “biglietto speech” of Blessed John Henry Newman, which he delivered shortly before being “raised to the sacred Purple” in May of 1879.
In a long course of years I have made many mistakes. I have nothing of that high perfection which belongs to the writings of Saints, (T)o one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself.  For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth; ….
Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily.  It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true.  It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion.  Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy.  Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith.  Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither.  They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them.  Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it…
(I)t must be borne in mind, that there is much in the liberalistic theory which is good and true; for example, … the precepts of justice, truthfulness, sobriety, self-command, benevolence, which, as I have already noted, are among its avowed principles, and the natural laws of society.  It is not till we find that this array of principles is intended to supersede, to block out, religion, that we pronounce it to be evil.  There never was a device of the Enemy so cleverly framed and with such promise of success.  
Such is the state of things …; but it must not be supposed for a moment that I am afraid of it.  I lament it deeply, because I foresee that it may be the ruin of many souls; but I have no fear at all that it really can do aught of serious harm to the Word of God, to Holy Church, to our Almighty King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Faithful and True, or to His Vicar on earth.  Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new trial now.  So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance. Sometimes our enemy is turned into a friend; sometimes he is despoiled of that special virulence of evil which was so threatening; sometimes he falls to pieces of himself; sometimes he does just so much as is beneficial, and then is removed.  Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God.

I have not studied the remarks of any of the new Cardinals-to-be; perhaps such greatness is revealed in some of them.  But as my own dear friend, Cardinal Baum, would have agreed in the face of such eloquent insight and truth, they don’t make them like that anymore – speeches, that is.  Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!
Monsignor Smith

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