Sunday, May 17, 2015

Doing the Truth in Love, but doing it indeed.

John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfill the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them,
and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world,
and for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

This Gospel prayer of the Lord Jesus for us who are His, whom He consecrates in the truth, comes up terribly fresh and powerful on this 7th Sunday of Easter, in the midst of our novena prayer for the grace of the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon Christ's Church on Pentecost. What haunts me at this particular reading is a question about my accountability to the prayer of Jesus, how to cooperate with the grace given to keep me true to the Father's Name. How does my being at odds with the world play out? In many dimensions, some big and some small, the question does not rest easy and a definitive answer eludes us. 

I passed your word on to them,
and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.

Few reasonable Catholics miss the point that we have somehow to be counter-cultural, that not just anyone can dictate values or non-values to us and to our families. The rub comes in the discernment, in charting the course to the "future" within the community of the Church. Time and again there, in the Church, the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, have lined up on different sides of these discernment issues, generally on doctrinal questions, but which are often tainted with social, political or moral ramifications. The marriage and family complex has bound itself to the life issues (abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc.) to shake the Church even more profoundly from within and distract us again and more from the will of Christ for the sake of the salvation of the world, from our calling in a society which if not at odds, then certainly is distant from the Gospel.

Clarifying the sense of this our consecration with Jesus in the truth pushes me maybe sooner than I would like to raise some of the questions or challenges for which Michael Davies laid down the gauntlet in his pamphlet, which in another post I recommended along with three others regarding the Roman Rite. I am referring to The Reign of Christ the King. TAN Books. Kindle Edition.

"On 11 December 1925 Pope Pius XI promulgated his encyclical letter Quas Primas, on the Kingship of Christ. The encyclical dealt with what the Pope described correctly as "the chief cause of the difficulties under which mankind was laboring." Pope Pius XI explained that the manifold evils in the world are due to the fact that the majority of men have thrust Jesus Christ and His holy law out of their lives; that Our Lord and His holy law have no place either in private life or in politics; and, as long as individuals and states refuse to submit to the rule of our Saviour, there will be no hope of lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ— Pax Christi in Regno Christi."  (Kindle Locations 30-36). 

Davies goes on in the booklet to set the stage for his message to a 1992 readership against the background of the original perception within the Church at large of the doctrine set forth by Pius XI in his encyclical. Davies quotes others to give evidence that Quas Primas never knew a day of fame in the Church. Pius XI and his teaching on the Kingship of Christ were given the cold shoulder generally by bishops throughout the world. Already in 1925, it would seem, there was little conviction concerning the universal applicability of Church teaching about the primacy of truth as inherently bound up with the person of Jesus Christ.

As a classic pamphleteer, Davies seeks to rouse his readers to embrace a course of action that would put them at odds with not only public opinion as dictated by promoters of the secularist agenda but also with a clueless Catholic hierarchy ambivalent about what is required of them and of the faithful entrusted to their care, if they would be truly faithful, that is to the truth which comes to us from God alone. 

There is a general and naive sort of optimism, which has been abroad in the world for generations and which is steadily gaining ground, about the presumed benefits of "living at peace" with those around us who are outside the circle of Catholic faith. The "living at peace" somehow has become yoked with self-denigration. Needless to say, this cannot be, nor should it continue to be the case where such a sad state of affairs has already taken root.

I know there was a time when pamphleteering went on and managed to hold its own in the marketplace of ideas. I think that the social media probably occupy that space today, as a somewhere open to informing and moving people, offering them insights which can be mind changing and perforce also life changing, please, God, and for the good. Granted, even with records of pamphlet sales, we still have no guarantee they were actually read, let alone understood or taken to heart, and even less so where pushing the "Like" button has no legal consequences and carries no guarantee that the given mouse click is more than an involuntary finger twitch.

We fervently pray that the Gospel prayer of Christ will find its application in our lives and that we might be stirred to place God's law above man's and far above the sort of social tyranny, which aborts, euthanizes, mutilates, and divorces practically without batting an eye.


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