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Catholics in western societies are living in similar times to the early Christians. We live in societies that are openly hostile to our Catholic Faith. Many Catholics have compromised in order to get along in the world. Others use their baptismal stamp of Catholicism to promote a political agenda that is contrary to Catholic Church teaching. Many bishops remain silent in order not to offend secular sensitivities or, worse yet, they proclaim Catholicism with their words whilst seeking to appease secular authorities in their deeds. Their efforts only help to further the secularist anti-God agenda. Recent examples of this include the bishops widespread support for climate change and for classroom based sex-education. Both of these are key platforms of the secular agenda which seeks to undermine the traditional natural family and yet our bishops champion both causes.
Sincere Catholics should be neither surprised nor worried by this turn of events. Our Catholic history is littered with similar examples which were foretold by Christ.
“Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you:” (John 15:20)
“These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour comes, that whoever kills you, will think that he does a service to God.” (John 16:1-2)
With the proliferation of an anti-Catholic mindset through global propaganda in the secular media, many Catholics have become defensive, almost apologetic, for being Catholic. We dare not offend anybody with our Catholic views. This leads to attempts to promote Catholic beliefs on certain topics without mentioning the Catholic faith or belief in Jesus Christ. We see this in certain sections of the pro-life movement. On one occasion, religious symbols and imagery were discouraged from a pro-life gathering in Ireland because they did not convey the right message.
We also saw it in Ireland in the opposition to the marriage referendum which gave homosexual relationships the same legal status as Catholic marriage. Most of the Catholics who engaged in the debate, refused to proclaim Catholic Church teaching on the disordered nature of these relationships and the harm, both physical and spiritual, that homosexual relations cause to all involved. They tended to focus on creating slogans such as “children deserve a mother and father” whilst ignoring the core issue of the disordered nature of sexually active homosexual relationships.
The lessons from America had not been learned. In its analysis of how ‘gay marriage’ was won in four states in America, the organization Mass Resistance, spoke of the flawed pro-family Strategy.
“pro-family groups went to great lengths not to criticize homosexual behavior. They were very fearful of being perceived as “anti-gay” or “homophobic” especially in the liberal press. So they insisted on moderating everyone’s messages.”
“there were no attempts at all that we know of to persuade the public through advertising that homosexual behavior was perverse, dysfunctional, and unhealthy. Our side basically conceded that argument completely, and even went to lengths to state that “we’re not anti-gay.” The homosexual lobby took full advantage of that by aggressively portraying homosexuality as just another facet of normal human behavior.”
“This tactic is not sustainable, as it soon became clear. It certainly does not effectively counter the emotional strategies put forth by the homosexual lobby. At some point you have to engage in the real battle at hand.”
The same tactics were used in Ireland and it was no surprise that the referendum was lost. The real loss however, was not the referendum. The real loss was that the eyes of the world were on Ireland to see how Catholic Ireland would vote regarding homosexual relations, and the Irish Catholics did not proclaim Catholic teaching on marriage and family life to the world, preferring politically correct sloganeering so as not to offend anyone.
This shows an incorrect and incomplete understanding of what it means to be Catholic. Malcolm Muggeridge, writing in his book, ‘The End of Christendom’, gave this striking example of what Anatoli Kusnyestsov once said to him.
“He made a remark which is one of the most extraordinary remarks anyone has ever made to me and has echoed in my mind more often than I can say. He said to me this: that if in this world you are confronted with absolute power, power unmitigated, unrestrained, extending to every area of human life – if you are confronted with power in those terms, you are driven to realise that the only possible response to it is not some alternative power arrangement, more humane, more enlightened. The only possible response to absolute power is the absolute love which our Lord brought into the world.” (Malcolm Muggeridge, The End of Christendom)
The love which Jesus brought to the world is not some sugary, feel good slogan that can be put on a banner. It is about self-sacrifice and about engaging in the battle for the Truth. It is about overcoming personal sin, so that you can lead others to holiness.
Our Lady clearly indicated this when speaking to the Children of Fatima.
“Sacrifice yourselves for sinners; and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice: ‘O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary I offer this sacrifice to Thee.’” (Our Lady, third apparition at Fatima, 13th July, 1917)
““Pray! Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.” (Our Lady, fourth apparition at Fatima, 19th August, 1917)
I want to re-visit Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical letter, ‘Sapientiae Christianae’ which he published in 1890. It deals with the subject of Christians as Citizens and is as relevant today, as it was one hundred and thirty years ago when he wrote it.
Catholics need to familiarize themselves with the great Papal Encyclicals, particular those which pre-date the second Vatican council. This is because there are efforts to undermine the teachings in these documents precisely because they came before the second Vatican council. There is a clerical movement within the Church which in effect seeks to portray the Catholic Church as beginning with the second Vatican council.
The second Vatican council closed 58 years ago which represents less than 3% of Catholic Church history. Put another way, this means that 97% of the Catholic Church’s existence occurred before the second Vatican council. St Paul gave the following warning to the Galatians.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:8)
But if Catholics are not aware of what the Catholic Church has always taught, because they are not familiar with the great encyclicals of the Popes, how will they know if someone is preaching a new message or a different message to that of St Paul?
A very good resource for these Papal documents can be found at this link – https://www.papalencyclicals.net/
Sapientiae Christianae opens with the following statement.
“From day to day it becomes more and more evident how needful it is that the principles of Christian wisdom should ever be borne in mind, and that the life, the morals, and the institutions of nations should be wholly conformed to them. For, when these principles have been disregarded, evils so vast have accrued that no right-minded man can face the trials of the time being without grave anxiety or consider the future without alarm.
Progress, not inconsiderable indeed, has been made towards securing the well-being of the body and of material things, but the material world, with the possession of wealth, power, and resources, although it may well procure comforts and increase the enjoyment of life, is incapable of satisfying our soul created for higher and more glorious things.
To contemplate God, and to tend to Him, is the supreme law of the life of man. For we were created in the divine image and likeness, and are impelled, by our very nature, to the enjoyment of our Creator. But not by bodily motion or effort do we make advance toward God, but through acts of the soul, that is, through knowledge and love. For, indeed, God is the first and supreme truth, and the mind alone feeds on truth. God is perfect holiness and the sovereign good, to which only the will can desire and attain, when virtue is its guide.” (Sapientiae Christianae 1)
When the Catholic faith is abandoned or ignored, vast evils accrue in society. No Catholic can doubt the evil nature of what is happening in what was once called Christendom. In these articles I will tend to focus on what is happening in Ireland. Ireland is following the same immoral trajectory of other western nations so what happens in Ireland is not unique to Ireland.
In Ireland, since our referendum of 2018, innocent human being are put to death in their mother’s wombs. This is rationalised through legislation which permits the killing of these innocents. For our government ministers, the earlier in their development that these innocents are killed the better, as it leaves less evidence of the evil being done. There are even State subsidies available for those who wish to take part in this mass killing of the innocent. Moves are also afoot to prevent people gathering outside of hospitals to pray for an end to the killing.
Euthanasia will soon be legalised in Ireland. It is only a matter of time. The euphemistically named “Joint Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying”, held its first meeting in June of 2023. Notice the ‘lovely’ language used to speak of killing those who no longer want to live or whose sick lives demand resources from the State.
The sexual corruption of children in Primary schools is well under way in Ireland, with a new programme due to be launched and made mandatory in September 2023.
Realistically, Ireland can no longer be called a Catholic country. It has become one of the most hostile countries in which to be Catholic, although, the hostilities have yet to become violent and the suppression of Catholics has not yet formally begun. Once again though, it is only a matter of time and is one of the purposes of the soon to be enacted hate speech laws.
We live in great material comfort but our suicide rate is increasing and there are many lonely people in our society. These situations, as Pope Leo XIII noted, are part of the effects of the collapse of traditional Catholicism in Ireland with the resultant increase in moral degeneracy within our society which follows.
Pope Leo XIII’s second paragraph re-emphasises the point.
“But what applies to individual men applies equally to society – domestic alike and civil. Nature did not form society in order that man should seek in it his last end, but in order that in it and through it he should find suitable aids whereby to attain to his own perfection. If, then, a political government strives after external advantages only, and the achievement of a cultured and prosperous life; if, in administering public affairs, it is wont to put God aside, and show no solicitude for the upholding of moral law, it deflects woefully from its right course and from the injunctions of nature; nor should it be accounted as a society or a community of men, but only as the deceitful imitation or appearance of a society.” (Sapientiae Christianae 2)
Welcome to Ireland 2023 where we live in an imitation of a society and where power hungry and greedy politicians enact laws which are to the detriment of the ordinary man. In his next paragraph Pope Leo XIII utters some prophetic words. Remember he is writing prior to the two world wars.
“… For these reasons, an incredible multitude of men is in danger of not achieving salvation; and even nations and empires themselves cannot long remain unharmed, since, when Christian institutions and morality decline, the main foundation of human society goes together with them. Force alone will remain to preserve public tranquillity and order. But force is very feeble when the bulwark of religion has been removed, and, being more apt to beget slavery than obedience, it bears within itself the germs of ever-increasing troubles. The present century has encountered memorable disasters, and it is not certain that some equally terrible are not impending. The very times in which we live are warning us to seek remedies there where alone they are to be found-namely, by re-establishing in the family circle and throughout the whole range of society the doctrines and practices of the Christian religion.
In this lies the sole means of freeing us from the ills now weighing us down, of forestalling the dangers now threatening the world.” (Sapientiae Christianae 3)
Modern societies are focused almost exclusively on this world with no thought as to the afterlife. All of us will die, and all of us will face the just judgement of God for how we have lived our lives. The calamities and difficulties that we are faced with in our lives are primarily due to sin, our own and those of others. Sin is the only thing that separates us from God because each sin is an act of disobedience to the commands of God.
The commands of God are not difficult, but they require humility. The primary element of this humility is the realization that we are not God. We are creatures who are totally dependent for our existence on the benevolence of God. God has given us the gift of free will. Free will is both terrifying and comforting. Terrifying in that it allows us to freely reject God for eternity and that some will choose to reject Him. Comforting in that it allows us to freely love God and to love one another. Love does not make sense if it is not a freely chosen act of the will, without which love is impossible. We were created by God for love and because this love is so great and so worthwhile, God gave us the gift of free will even though we can use this gift to reject Him and others.
As I noted in my article ‘The light which Overcomes the Darkness’
“One of the attributes of God is that He is infinitely Good. Evil cannot exist in God and God is incapable of creating anything Evil. God is not directly responsible for the evil actions of angels or of men, even though it is on account of the gift of free will, which comes from God, that men are capable of sinning.
The Catholic Encyclopaedia of 1917 gives some insight into this problem. If we accept that God is infinitely Good, it follows that the gift of our free will is also good, even though it allows us to commit sins against God. God does not Will the sins, but He permits them because free will is a Godlike good.
God knew from the beginning the extent of evil that would enter into the world through man’s misuse of his free will. Because God is infinitely Good, we can say with certainty, that, “it is better that God should have created free beings capable of sinning than that He should not have created free beings at all.””
I will conclude this article with the closing words of the third paragraph of Sapientiae Christianae, in which Pope Leo XIII tells us the purpose of the encyclical
“We deem it expedient in this letter to define more in detail the duties of the Catholics, inasmuch as these would, if strictly observed, wonderfully contribute to the good of the commonwealth. We have fallen upon times when a violent and well-nigh daily battle is being fought about matters of highest moment, a battle in which it is hard not to be sometimes deceived, not to go astray and, for many, not to lose heart. It behooves us, venerable brethren, to warn, instruct, and exhort each of the faithful with an earnestness befitting the occasion: that none may abandon the way of truth.”
To be cont’d…
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