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Vic Biorseth, OWM; Saturday,
February 08, 2014
Beginning in the '60s, the Catholic Church in America, and in the larger world, has undergone what can only be described as a disastrous multiple-decade decline in membership, participation, attendance, priests, vowed religious and number of fully functioning Parishes. We've talked about the causes elsewhere in this site, and we won't go into any detail on that here. But it began during the co-incidental major cultural-societal events of the Vatican II Council and the so-called Sexual Revolution.
The era saw Catholic Bishops teaching (or allowing teaching) a radically softened doctrine on all sins sexual; a grossly miss-interpreted English translation of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church; almost unbelievable liturgical abuses of the Mass following Paul VI's new Novus-Ordo Mass; a rising "Magisterium of Nuns" pushing an agenda of radical feminism and seeking higher authority in the Church Hierarchy; the horrific priestly pedophile scandals, and the gigantic cover-ups by Bishops; a push for ordination of women; a push for acceptance of homosexuality; a push for acceptance of divorce and remarriage; and on, and on, and on.
What might have been almost as bad as those causative agendas were some of the attempts to re-grow the Church back to what it was, by emulating or imitating the newer Protestant "super-churches" that were drawing such large audiences of Protestants. Designing new Churches like "theater-in-the-round" with the "stage" in the center, so that all the people were facing each other. And get the organist and the choir down there on the stage, too, to be part of the performance. And it became more of a performance, and less of a Mass. For an audience, rather than a congregation. A feel-good session, a lot of Christian fellowship, and then you go home.
Well, what can I say. That just ain't Catholic.
If you've been away for awhile, let me tell you, things are getting better. The Liturgy has settled down. It's not so hard any more to find a good Catholic Church with a truly Catholic Pastor. There are even signs of an uptick in vocations to the priesthood. Younger priests are, generally speaking, a whole lot more orthodox and a whole lot more conservative these days. But here's the really vitally important thing to note:
All of these abuses and all of these scandalous events are all on the fringes of the real Church; they are all on the periphery and outside branches, and nowhere near the core of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church Christ founded. The old-time Catholicism you may have grown up in, and that can still be found accurately described in the pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, still stands unchanged.
God made you for Himself; He draws you to Himself because of His original intention when He made you. That is why you feel that emptiness, that yearning for something. It is natural; it was put there by the Author of nature. Remember His great summarizing of the whole of His Law into the two Great Commandments:
Love is always at the center; love is what it is all about; love is why you were created, and love is why God is calling you home.
In his Rediscover Catholicism, author Matthew Kelly wrote about the three more or less default philosophies one may adopt, singly or in combination, by which to guide one's life in the absence of Christian religion. And they are,
Every one of these default philosophies will lead you, me, all individuals, families, cultures and nations to a very bad place, if we let them. There is no love in them.
The whole thing you are looking for is a proper sense of direction for your life. You probably instinctively know, if you are a fallen away Catholic, that Christ needs to be placed at the center. What you need to learn, or re-learn, is how to properly and most fully do that.
No Protestant denomination can do the task fully and completely, because only the Catholic Church contains the complete fullness of Truth regarding the Christian religion, and the sanctifying Grace of the Seven Sacraments, including, most importantly, the Eucharist Himself.
Exploring "Outside the Church there is no salvation". Christ established His Church, established His Sacraments and then died for our sins, all for the very purpose of salvation. The Church is salvation. Salvation is the Church's whole reason for being.
In Matt 16:18 He established His Church on Peter, promising that the very gates of hell would not prevail against it.
Jesus said, in John 14:6, that no one comes to the Father except through Him.
In Matt 28:20 He told His Church to go forth to all nations, Baptizing, and teaching all that He had taught them, and that He would be with them until the end of time.
He told His Church, in John 14:26, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."
He said to His Church, in Luke 10:16, "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
He said, in John 6:53, unless you eat His flesh and drink His blood you will not be saved.
1 Cor 11:29 tells you that anyone who receives Eucharist unworthily or not discerning the body of Christ, eats judgment on himself.
There is more; much more. But this should be enough to show that there is no place outside the Catholic Church that can fulfill all the requirements of salvation. Maybe the Eastern Orthodox, but that's about it.
Our separated Protestant brothers are all lost, then? Well, no. All who are Baptized are Baptized into one and only one Church, so Baptized non-Catholics are "imperfect" or "incomplete" Catholics, whether they know it or not. There is only one Church you can be Baptized into, and this is it. We know that Johah,the Patriarchs and Fathers, Moses, David, etc., are in Heaven, having not encountered Jesus until He spoke to them in the nether world after His Crucifixion and before the Resurrection. We know that the Good Thief is in Heaven.
If the non-Catholic seeks Truth in the light he has been given, and obeys the natural law which is written on his heart, it is possible for him to achieve salvation. It is possible for anyone to be martyred.
Here is the important thing:
That is what your final judgment will have come to depend upon.
Salvation is a path; it is a journey that involves faith and reason, together. The Revelation of God to man is available; it is all carefully recorded and protected by His Church in cooperation with the Holy Ghost, Who brings to her mind all that Jesus said to His Apostles. There are no short cuts. It requires disciplined study and the proper exercise of reason, first to learn the faith, then to embrace it, and then to pass it on to others.
See the Sole Authority of Scripture, and the Faith Alone, and the Are You Saved webpages for how the dogmas and doctrines of Luther and Calvin led so many away from the one true Church Christ founded. The fullness of Truth can only be found in that Church.
What are you here for? is the question that only the authentic Church founded by Christ Himself can answer for you. Are you here for what you can get out of this life only, or are you here to use this life to prepare for the next everlasting life? His Word tells you, in Deut 30:19, that He has set before you Life, and Death, at your free will option. And then He even tells you how to choose, by saying "Choose Life". Thus, Everlasting Life is placed right here in front of you. It really is just that simple.
Once you dedicate yourself to your Catholic faith and your life becomes Christ-centered, everything in life becomes simpler, but not necessarily easier. (He didn't say it would be easy; He said pick up your cross and follow me.) When you enslave yourself to Christ, you free yourself from the world, and then you learn that His burden is light and His yoke is easy. He is a wonderful taskmaster.
In the Catholic life, which is the Christ-centered life, everything becomes easier, and all decisions, from the most crucial to the most mundane, become easier to make. It positively affects your spiritual life, your work, your chores, your vocation, your avocation or hobby, your leisure, your entertainment, your marriage, your family life, your social interactions, your politics, your engagement with the world, and, most importantly, your engagement with God. Which will become as intimate and as personal as it can possibly get in this life, through reception of Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist.
You will have become salt and light; a beacon to others, an example of good judgment and decency, an exponent of the virtues, and others will attribute goodness to you.
Speaking only for myself, there is no way that I can envision myself ever leaving the Catholic faith, under any circumstance whatsoever. The fullness of Truth is found here, and nowhere else. We have bad Bishops and good ones; we have bad Priests and good ones. The Church remains, unchanged. We have even had bad Popes; just look up Alexander VI some time. But the original Doctrines from the original Revelation remain unchanged. No Pope ever deleted any doctrine, changed any doctrine, or introduced any new doctrine. The Sacred Depositum Fide remains as it was originally Revealed.
That is what is at the center of the Catholic Church, protected by the Holy Ghost; that, and the actual Presence of Christ Himself in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Those who look though history to find dates of various dogmas often miss the point that a dogma is merely a more formalized doctrine. Dogmas are most frequently developed when an existing doctrine is challenged, and the matter is finally settled by a Pope or a Council in communion with a Pope, and with the Holy Ghost, by formally declaring it a dogma. The Creed, for example, is dogma, which was always doctrine long before it was declared to be dogma.
So whenever you hear someone saying, the Church needs to get up with the times, and soften this or that doctrine, change some others and maybe delete one or two, you know you are listening to someone who is full of BS. Inconvenient though it may be for the licentious and the pleasure-seekers, Catholic doctrine does not change. Never has; never will, until He comes again.
The Church exists to modify culture, not to be modified by culture.
That is your calling. That is your purpose for being. You are called to be salt and light; to make of us and our culture a shining beacon on a hill. It is much, much easier than it might appear at first glance, especially if you are looking at the Catholic Church through the secular lens of modern individualistic, hedonistic and minimalistic society.
We are blessed to belong to a beautiful little Lithuanian Church, with an absolutely inspiring Pastor. He is inspiring to us, we firmly believe, because he is inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit. His homilies and his teaching are as spellbinding as they are challenging. But it's a small, old, ethnic Church, steadily going the way of all small, old, ethnic Churches. If and when it finally closes its doors, we will most likely join either the nearest Latin Mass Church, or one of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches that are aligned with Rome and the Pope.
That is where we will find the most clear and obvious recognition of and reverence given to the Eucharist. That is where we will return to receiving Communion on the tongue, while on our knees at the Communion Rail. If there was one thing we could wish for from any Pope, it would be to make the Latin Mass the Ordinary Mass, and the Novus Ordo the Extraordinary Mass.
That one thing, we believe, would do more for Catholic evangelism than anything else anyone could do. It would do much to return us all to the hush and awe that automatically occurs when you enter a Church at which Jesus in His Tabernacle is the central focal point of the design and architecture, and everybody knows He is there.
But, as we said before, the new liturgy has settled down, and there are a lot of really good priests out there today. You should have little trouble finding a good Church in your neighborhood. The important thing is for you to come home.
Jesus is calling. If you come, He will give you rest.
And He will be your strength. Be not afraid.
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Respond to This Article Below The Last Comment
Date: Sun Feb 09 20:21:18 2014
The Catholic Church was corrupted long before the Reformation and it withheld scripture from the people in order to have power over them. If it wasn't for John Wycliffe, who they burned at the stake, we wouldn't even have an English Bible.
Date: Mon Feb 10 06:11:59 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
There were licensed French translations of the Bible and English translation of some of the books of the Bible in use in England as early as the seventh century. Wycliffe's Bible was not only not licensed, but it contained inflammatory and heretical commentary. Wycliffe was a dissident calling for the impoverishment of the Church, elimination of the clergy and control of the Church by the civil government.
He was a sort of precursor to Luther's Reformation. Church and state were already intermingled, in that much of Church law was established as civil law; heresy, for instance, was a crime in civil law, punishable by the state. However, the state held no authority over the Church. Only the state could issue death sentences, just as in Jesus' day.
Wycliffe was declared a heretic, and convicted in court after his death. His body was exhumed and burned as punishment. The Brits were kind of weird in those days. A contemporary follower named Jan Hus was similarly condemned, and really was burned at the stake.
Through the course of the English Reformation, as in the European Reformation, there were as many Protestants burned at the stake by other Protestants as by Catholics, and plenty of Catholics burned at the stake by Protestants. More Catholic Bibles were burned by Protestants than Protestant Bibles burned by Catholics. In England more Catholics were martyred, persecuted and driven underground than are ever recognized by Protestantism today. That was the result of the state gaining control over religion, brought about by Protestantism.
Date: Tue Nov 18 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
Changes pursuant to changing the website URL
and name from
Thinking Catholic Strategic Center to
Catholic American Thinker.
Pulled the trigger on the 301 MOVE IT option June 1, 2014. Working my way through all the webpages. .
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