Saturday, February 23, 2019

One and only

Retreat was glorious, thank you for asking.  And yes, I got lots of silence!  Some of you found that – how to put it? – hard to picture. I will not speculate as to whether that says more about me, or them.  But silence it was, and silence before the Lord brings forth good fruit.
Of course, I did some reading while I was there, and one of the books was God or Nothingby Cardinal Robert Sarah.  It came out in 2015 and made quite the splash in Catholic circles, so yes, I am behind the curve – or at least behind in my reading.  But I enjoyed reading about the Cardinal’s boyhood in a tiny village in Guinea, his encounter with Christ through French Holy Ghost missionary priests, his priestly discernment and formation, and his survival and leadership of the church in Guinea under a bloodthirsty Marxist dictator.  He also reflects on the state of the Church, the modern world, and all he has learned from the three Popes he has served intimately.
In regarding how Catholics have become immersed in the relativistic culture that dominates the West, and the dangers that poses, he quoted at some length Dominus Iesus, a document issued in 2000 under Pope Saint John Paul II, written by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. 
The Church's constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure(or in principle).  As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church. (…)
On the basis of such presuppositions, which may evince different nuances, certain theological proposals are developed — at times presented as assertions, and at times as hypotheses — in which Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and salvific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them.
Don’t let this happen to you!  That is Cardinal Sarah’s reason for quoting this, and mine too.  But rather than being simply a stern warning, this also offers us grounds for hope, especially in these times of crisis. Rather than just throw up our hands and shrug when we find evil at work in the Church, as if to say, what do you expect from a human institution?, Cardinal Sarah reminds us that the Church is in fact a divine institution, and that should be for us great consolation:
Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith.  Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: “a single Catholic and apostolic Church”. Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church(cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit(cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church's integrity — will never be lacking.
Dominus Iesus is easy to find on line, short, and easy to read.  Make it your excuse to find some silence!
True doctrine is never a burden, but always a benefit. Sometimes it is worth spending the time and effort it takes to understand the complexities of the developed teaching of the Church, in order to obtain for ourselves the joyful confidence of an authentic, childlike faith. 
Monsignor Smith