-St. Francis de
May the grace and peace of the Risen Lord Jesus be with you!
This interesting quote from St. Francis de Sales is used at the
beginning of a book by Dietrich von Hildebrand entitled Trojan
Horse in the City of God. The book, subtitled: The Catholic
Crisis Explained, is his attempt to explain why so many things
seem to be heading in more and more problematic directions, not
just in the world, but in the Church herself. It is a book that
is well worth reading for all who have a desire to more deeply
understand some of the difficulties faced today by the Bride of
Christ. The author is a world-class theologian, highly regarded
by the Church, as exemplified by Pope Pius XII's comment: "Dietrich
von Hildebrand is the 20th century Doctor of the Church."
This is high praise, especially coming from a pope who may well
be declared a Doctor of the Church himself someday. Von Hildebrand
is not known for not pulling any punches, as evidenced by his
comments on the damage that some of her own folks are inflicting
on the Church:
" if we then turn to a number of articles by Catholic priests and laymen published in
recent years, we cannot escape the impression that these writers not only have lost
their Catholic faith, but also no longer understand the very nature of religion based
on divine revelation. Indeed, we are tempted to ask if these so called 'progressive
Catholics' ever had a true religious experience, if they ever experienced the
elementary confrontation with the absolute Lord: the fear and trembling before the
infinitely holy God and the blissful encounter with Christ, the
Epiphany of God."
However, there is a difficulty with the wolf analogy quoted above.
People's natural tendency when faced with threats like wolves
is to build walls and barricades to keep out the wolf. In our
case, the wolf in fact is toothless, and only has the power we
choose to give him. We need not build walls for our protection,
indeed our response needs to be just the opposite: proclaim the
Truth, live in the Light! Let the Good News that has set us free
be shared with those around us, that they took can more deeply
experience that "confrontation with the absolute Lord"
and have the "blissful encounter with Christ
Some folks choose to respond to the needs of the world and the Church by developing a siege mentality. Yet His Holiness, John Paul II, calls us to just the opposite. He calls us to live and to proclaim the Gospel that we believe. Yet we need to take seriously the presence of the wolves and the effect of their presence on the life of the Church. Our best protection against their effects is to choose to ground ourselves more deeply in the Truth, the Truth that is proclaimed in the heart of the Church, i.e. by the Pope and the Bishops in union with him: the Magisterium of the Bride of Christ. The more we know the Truth, the more we can discern what is not true. We may rejoice in that the Lord Jesus has not been silent, but has continued to reveal His will to His Church and does so even today. One of the great defenses against the wolf is to immerse ourselves especially in the teaching of the Church proclaimed by Vatican Council II. In fact, it might be a worthwhile summer project to read a few of the documents of the Council, especially (or at least) the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, (Light to the Nations). To have a clear understanding of the Church is a great asset as we face the complexities of living and proclaiming the Good News, in season and out of season. Also, especially for us as charismatic Catholics, it is very worthwhile to read the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum (the Word of God), so that we can clearly have the mind of the Church on the Scriptures, how to understand them, and the role they should play in our lives and the life of the Church. Obviously, given the realities of our many relationships, careful attention should be paid to the teaching expressed in the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (Return to Unity). As we grow more and more deeply in our participation in the Sacred Mysteries, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, let us be guided by the Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, (Sacred Council). These are documents which it would serve us well to know, that when we see the wolf, we respond fearlessly with the Truth, proclaimed in that spirit of joyful optimism that so characterizes the great men and women of God of our time, e.g. Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Lord we serve has promised that we would know the Truth and that the Truth would set us free. Let us take His invitation to grow in the Truth seriously that we my truly continue to come to that maturity in Christ that is His goal for us!