Thursday, April 07, 2005

Not Sand, but a ROCK!


"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Mt. 16:18)

It was decided yesterdy by the College of the Cardinals that the Conclave, wherein the next pope is to be elected, will begin on April 16th. Many questions have been circulating: who will he be? Will he be conservative, moderate, or liberal? Will he change the teachings of the Church? On Ordination? Celibacy? Abortion? Much uncertainty abounds, and rightly so. But another thing exists which should not be there: fear. It is natural to fear what we do not know, and we do not know the future or what it will bring. Nevertheless, we should not. It is natural to think of the pope as only a man, the magesterium as only men, who are fallible, prone to error, which all men indeed are, and so fear that what it means to be Catholic will change. Nevertheless, we should not. It is natural in this time of sadness to, from time to time, forget that Divine Providence reigns supreme, and that nothing will happen that is not in accordance with God's will, especially with His Beloved Bride, the Church. Nevertheless, we should not.

The image of the rock is used throughout Scriptures. It refers to many things: safety, (Ex. 33:22) refuge, (Ps. 103:8) and God Himself (2 Kgs. 22:2). Here it refers to Peter and those who succeed him, the popes. More importantly, it refers to what our Church is built on. We stand on a firm foundation with our faith. Christ described in Matthew the difference between a house built on sand and on rock. When the rain comes, a house on sand collapses. A house on rock stands firm. The sands change with whatever wind is blowing at the present. It is all you can do to keep head above it all with so much change. The rock stands defiant, resolute in its mission and charge from God. On its solid foundation, much can be built. A firmer understanding of who we are, what God wants, and how we should best live our faith that can only come if you are not constantly trying to change with the world and keep up with it. We observe the happenings of the world around us from our secure position. We are aware, but unconcerned. We know all will turn out for the best. We do not change our beliefs, but build on them, make them stronger, better, richer.

Many recall the days of the Middle Ages and Early Rennaisance when the Church was in a slump. For many today, it is the time when we could do no right. Popes sired children, made war in the Holy Land, burned dissenters at the stake. Yet, as Peter Kreeft points out, the Church may not have always practiced what it was preaching, BUT IT NEVER CHANGED THE PREACHING. The popes used only certain Doctrines to justify themselves, but diregarded others. They killed for faith, but forgot hope and love, the greatest of which is love. (1 Cor. 13:13) People ask what is wrong with deciding for yourself which of the Church's teachings are to be believed, and that is the answer. It is a bad rule on the whole, because when you alter the teachings, you destroy the rock and what has been built up. You destroy the foundation that Christ set down for us. It is in the darkest times when we forget that God is there. But it is in the darkest times when He is there the most, making sure that it doesn't get darker. It is said that God never gives us more than we can handle. If this is true for individuals, why wouldn't it be true for His Church, the community of believers that He founded all those years ago? The distance of the popes in those days from the Doctrine may have corrupted the popes, but it saved the Doctrine. God may not have cared much for the behavior of the corrupt ones, but he cared very much for the flock they neglected, and would not have allowed them to drift into error. "They that worship must worship in sprit and in truth." (Jn. 4:24) Those little ones whom God loves so, He would not have guided into falsehood, or allowed that others may do so. "He is our God, and we are His people, the flock that He shepherds." (Ps. 94:7)

To say that the magesterium is a group of men without the guidance of the Holy Sprit is to say that there is a body, but no soul. It is to deny the existance of the very thing that makes the thing what it is. Christ promised this when he said that He would "ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. The Spirit ofTruth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you." (Jn. 14:16-17) The Sprit is with us all, make no mistake about that, it guides us all and gives gifts to us all, but it does so with the bishops in a special way, not for the sake of the teachers but the students. No clergyman exists for his own sake. In the example of Christ, the clergy exists for the laity (Mt. 20:28). God will not fail us. The Holy Spirit will not fail us. And so the Church will not fail us. It will always be the Church, and will always teach as the Church, ever growing, ever developing. Stable, firm, reliable, though not stagnant. It is the splendid and special love of Christ for His Church, His Bride, His Beloved, which keeps it safe and gives it life.

So we should be not afraid, and when the new pope emerges onto the balcony over St. Peter's square, we should joyfully cry out "Tu es Petrus!" and think with gladness how much Christ gave us, and what He will still give us, in this magnificent gift of a Church.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
Quote of the Day:
"Love takes up where knowledge leaves off."
-St. Thomas Aquinas


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