Monday, 18 March 2013

Reflection: For Pope Francis

Hello everyone,

It seems as if the criticism of out Holy Father is still on-going. While the left/liberal side of the Church may not be happy at out pro-life, doctrinally strong Pope, they haven't been launching as large a barrage of detracting posts and articles. They have started their own war march against the Pontificate and will likely increase over time, as mused by Fr. John Zulhsdorf here at WDTPRS.

Unfortunately, the assaults continue on the Internet from those who should be serving better example and character as Traditional Catholics. They might look like fraternal concern, but are truly stinging barbs aimed at our Papa disguised in passive-aggressive language. This "rad-trad" Catholicism only contributes to the Devil's works, corrupting others and yielding spiritual/psychological damage that wounds the Faithful during, or persisting into one's adult years, and also angers other "glad-trads"/Traditional Catholics in the process, because whether we are with you or not, we suffer the consequences of your actions. This is disturbing me quite much as a young adult EF server. Thus I would like to offer a reflection for my readers, and anyone else reading this blog not regularly.

Before I begin, a disclaimer: I am not a member with Holy Orders and not a wielder of the Magisterium. What I say is not to be construed as Magisterial teaching, not spiritual counsel to undertake. Rather it is a reflection using a Scriptural passage with regard to the current situation on then Internet, similar to what one does in Lectio Divina and/or scriptural self-study. Besides, God's Word is timeless and applies
to all generations, till the end of time.

I would like to start by offering up a part of Paul's letter to James. This is a highly recognizable passage from Paul's Epistles, on the need for faith and works to be absolutely joined at the hip in a Catholic`s life. I have emphasized certain passages here because I will be referring to them in my reflection when commentating on the slamfest on the Internet:

NRSV-CE, James 2:1-26

``1 My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 
2 For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 
3 and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "Have a seat here, please," while you say to the poor man, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," 
4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 
5 Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? 
6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into court? 
7 Is it not they who blaspheme that honorable name which was invoked over you? 
8 If you really fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well
9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it
11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," said also, "Do not kill." If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. 
12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 
13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment. 
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 
15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 
16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 
17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 
18 But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 
19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder. 
20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? 
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works
23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. 
24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone
25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 
26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Read more:

Furthermore, for those of us who attended the Novus Ordo Mass for our Sunday Obligation, the Gospel was from John 8:1-11, telling of the account of the woman accused of adultery, with the famous line about `He who does not sin, may cast the first stone.`

I particularly want to delve further on the well-known faith and works part of the first passage and connect it to the Gospel, as it regards what is being said of our Holy Father and the sad things being said about him on the Internet.

Briefly, Faith and Works Needed Together

As one can tell from the passage, faith without works is dead, and likewise vice versa. When we carry out our faith without works, our faith is simply shallow and skin-deep. It is a hypocrisy, which can easily be exemplified in the Catholic who goes to Mass every Sunday, but acts like a jerk to their family, friends, and co-workers the other 6 days, in addition to dissenting from central Catholic teachings. As ++Collins, two years ago told to me in his Lectio Divina, particularly for James 2:10-14: ``One cannot be selective in how we practice our Catholic Faith. We must live the lives of integrity, not double lives.`` Further, look at verse 8. We are ASKED to love our neighbour (not tolerate, that`s different from true love of our neighbour). Even Christ says this as the second most important commandment, when asked by someone about what the most important ones are. If you just have faith and do not carry out those acts of love, then clearly Paul says this is not true example of the faith.

Likewise, if we stick to works alone, these will also not suffice enough, though Paul seems to emphasize the works more than the faith in this passage. Think about it. People who aren`t religious or are secular, can do charitable works. But are they REALLY doing something worthwhile? So great, you make a kid feel good, or help someone out, and you get a high doing something. Thing is, without faith, what are those works amounting too besides warm fuzzy feelings? Is there even a purpose or reason to those works??? It is faith that is intertwined with works, because those works then have an ultimate purpose, our eternal salvation. And our lives have an eternal purpose and are means to an ultimate, eternally lasting end: The Summum Bonum, the Greatest Good, which is God. Paul expresses this well in the last sentence, comparing faith and works to the body and the soul.

Pope Francis and Trad Catholics Online

Now, let's explore the passage from James further with regard to Pope Francis I and the wonderful hoopla with himself thanks to the Traditional Catholic quarter of "rad-trads". Remember: Faith without works is dead.

When one thinks about our faith as a traditional Catholic, it is the most easiest part for those of the EF. We believe everything that Christ taught us, we don't contracept, we don't abort our pre-born children, we have large families, we go to confession and confess all our sins, etc. Now one might say, "Hey those are works, so we're covered!"   Well, those are spiritual works, and yes, you might pat yourself on the back like the Pharisee, but this is where the works part starts to lack. Works do not just entail what surrounds your prayer life and liturgical practices only, it also includes your online and personal decorum with those you interact with, your thoughts about those people, and your treatment of them. Further, it also includes physical works, such as working at homeless shelters, donating more than average to a Cathoilc charity that is doctrinally sound, or even just being friendly and courteous to that neighbour who hates that you go to Church.

Now, remember this line from scripture above: "10  For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." Well, as of late, it seems even our Holy Father's demonstration of actually putting St. Paul's advice to James in practice, is being scoffed at as "false humility" on the internet, and are serving him "humble pie" by giving him better ways he can be "humble". In addition, much mud is being smeared at the Holy Father because he wasn't the biggest proponent of the Latin Mass back in Buenos Aires, or didn't govern those in charge well enough not to turn it into a Latin Novus Ordo. And the line of scripture: Well, A traditional Catholic can go to the EF Mass, say his/her prayers, go to confession, obey the doctrines and dogmas of Christ's Church, even volunteer at that soup kitchen/homeless shelter, and even talk to that neighbour. But see above how even one act is failure? That's right. Those traditional Catholics who decided to take to the Internet and slag mud, or provide that "humble pie", have not understood the concept of this Epistle in Scripture, nor our Holy Father's humility. Well I must defend our Holy Father. 

Pope Francis I is choosing to do exactly what the Lord had commanded, not to be attached to Mammon, or wealth. He chose to carry out in action, not to live in splendor, not to waste expensive gas and harm the environment by having no car/chauffeur, and took public transit with everyone else. One could also see the Holy Father's example, in comparison to how Christ ate with sinners, tax collectors, the sick, etc. He put himself to the people and didn't elevate himself, just because of his status in the Church. 

When you look around the world, what do you see? Rock stars and celebrities living in lavish "cribs" with granite and stone bathrooms, drinking and eating expensive foods, wearing the hottest "brand" labels, doing advertisements for money for those "brand" labels, and even doing the most radical things and behaviours, even when Christian (e.g. Miley Cyrus). When you see someone like that, isn't your natural inclination to scream, "hypocrite"? 

And what about certain priests and prelates? Throughout the Church's history, how many times (including scanning the internet) have we heard about priests and higher clergy living and dining like kings, living in nice "cribs", financially taking from parishes, and being a counter example to the Lord when he wants us to obey God and not Mammon? I believe there once was a priest from an order called SOLT, which traditional Catholics liked, particularly in Canada, because he came down hard on the Winnipeg Statement and was a fire and brimstone, old-school type preacher. And, did he not have a million dollar house and nice car and apparently, bodyguards? Where is he now? Was he truly an example of humility, as our holy Father was? 

Now, when we think of this, and when I see Trad Catholics slamming him for his (possible) lack of attention to the EF, or someone who suggests his humility is not being properly carried out, I cannot help but feel sorry for our Holy Father for this onslaught of insult, especially from the right, where we should truly be the Pope's most loyal guards and supporters in these troubled times. Were he living in his nice fancy quarters back in Buenos Aires with a bunch of servants, and travelling in his car in a developed country still experiencing a certain level of poverty where even fewer people have the standard of living he, what would we say then? Would we be saying "look, he's a hypocrite." or "Look, it's the anti-Christ in the Papacy" or "what a Liberal Pope!" Hypocrite? Hold on, did I not just say that with regard to the rock stars and celebrities? 

And so we return to our Novus Ordo Gospel, with the woman accused of adultery. Let he who has not sinned, cast the first stone. Clearly, we all must improve in our humility and even in our Holiness. I bet that many of us, barely even scrape the surface in action, faith, and deed to Pope Francis, when over his life he has done so much and led by example to carry out what is said in James 2. So how about that the onslaughts cease with regard to our Holy Father, we pray for the Holy Spirit to guide him in his Papacy, and for him never to lose that humble humility which he has shown by example, even if he isn't a devotee/fan of the EF? And may we all try to truly show the world, especially us youth, that we are "glad-trads", not "rad-trads," taking after His Holiness by example.

Finally, when you think of how he has humbled himself practically in Buenos Aires, and even at the Vatican, is it no surprise that he chose Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscans? Of whom the Franciscans are supposed to wear mostly their brown simple robes, sandals, and to live humbly "in the world, but not of it?" Well I say, the Pope, based on the Order of St. Francis and how they process in this world, is true to his Papal namesake.

Pax Tibi Christi, Julian

No comments:

Post a Comment