Wow! That was a busy month. I just looked and noticed that it has been almost thirty days since I last posted anything here. I have been busy with renovating our new Church building for St. George parish, extra ministry duties (unexpected, of course), a very active Lent, and a few different events for the Ordinariate as well. Time flies when you are having fun (and also when you are too busy to notice how fast time is flying by!).
I have had quite a lot of time to ponder much of recent events, and been wondering about the state of things for the Roman Catholic Church as a whole. Yes, I certainly believe that the Church will endure and, through Christ, will overcome every challenge that comes her way, but that does not mean that those challenges will be easy to endure. Division seems to be the common state of affairs. There is division in the world at large; division in these United States of America; division in the Catholic Church; and division in individual parishes. The devil already wants to divide us and conquer us, we should not be giving him any help (!).
In times of strife and division, as we are in right now, the first thing we need is, of course, unity. No, not a unity at the cost of truth, but a unity based on the unchangeable truth of Christ. How do we seek that unity? There is a principle found in Scripture (in more places than are obvious) that is stated best as "a house divided against itself cannot stand" (cf. Mark 3:25). If we attack our brethren (especially those who are hurting and recovering from sinful addictions), then we should be aware of the consequences. If we "bite and devour" each other, then we will "consume" one another (Galatians 5:15). If we really love our faith (especially if you are strongly traditional) then you will be joyful about it, and not seek to bash others over the head with it.
As the country of America descends ever more quickly into chaos, we are called to live our faith more fully, and not become like the world. At times of radical disunity, we need to show our unity all the more clearly. People in Churches quarrel, yes, but the Catholic way is to resolve those differences through reconciliation, not further division. A "house divided against itself cannot stand" and that does not only apply to the devil and his house (as in the original context), it also applies to us. We need to be dilligent and safeguard our own house all the more fervently in order to avoid division. Men, guard your wives and children, and help them to avoid divisive behaviors. Priests and Bishops, guard your Churches and do not let them devolve into worldly divisions.
With so much error floating around among Catholics (even among clergy) it is hard not to want to be critical of what is wrong. There is a right way to be critical, however, and there is wrong way. If our criticism causes division, then we should ask the question of ourselves whether we are fighting the Lord's battle, our own battle, or the battle that the devil has convinced us to fight. Just because one thinks that he is right does not mean that his battle is justified. As Catholics we must stand firm on the authority of Christ and the authority that He has granted to the Church. That does not mean that everything the Church does will be perfect and sinless, but it does mean that we can trust Christ to help us to overcome our own stupidity (at least eventually)!
Yes, the Church today has many challenges that we have to overcome; challenges both moral and doctrinal. Yet, Christ promised that the Church would not degenerate into heresy; do we believe that? If we do believe that, then it will impact how we respond to the current problems that we are experiencing. Choosing the path of denying the validity of Popes and rejecting Vatican II (in spite of all the problems found in both) is not the path to victory. It is the path to division. A "house divided against itself cannot stand". If we attack our own house and deny the promises of Christ, we are not going to help people find strength, we are going to tear down the people inside the house.
So then, build unity. Stand firm in the truth, without compromise, but also without rancor and self-righteousness. We each need to find where Christ is being reverently honored, the faith of the Church is being preached, and the people of God are being led into holiness. Then we need to dig our feet in for the long haul (tough times are ahead, and this is not hard to see). We need to be humble, and realize that not everyone is at the same place that we are, so we need to love and forgive one another.
That is why this coming Sunday is a bit more important than in years past. Divine Mercy must be our call to hope. We can hope in Christ's mercy to us, and learn to show His mercy to others. By this, I mean genuine mercy. Not a shmoozy compromised pablum that ignores sin and encourages "feel-goodyness"; that is not what the Lord has given to us, and it is a sin to give that to others who are in need of genuine mercy. Let us then stand fast, and do so together; let us stand fast in the mercy of Christ, the truth of God, and hope for what the future will bring.