The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

The meeting of Jesus and the pagan Canaanite woman was providen¬tial. It led to a miracle and to her and to our deeper understanding of faith.

That woman believed that Jesus was the Messiah even though she knew very little about the Jewish prophets who were sent by God to prepare the way for the Messiah. She grew in her faith from the "scraps" that fell from the Old Testament table.

The Catholic Church often finds great faith particularly amongst those outside her visible membership. Through His church the Lord has prepared a table full of spiritual gifts for his children.

What a pity though that some of those children receive only some of those gifts! Fortunately, they may still achieve salvation with what they have received from the Lord, namely, the Scriptures and and often Baptism which brings them grace, virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Just think, how much better off these children of the protestant reformation would be if they were able to receive their full inheritance!

Often protestants once exposed to the truth will accept it fully and join the Catholic Church.

One would think that those exposed to the fullness of truth have the greatest chance for salvation but sadly, receiving the full inheritance of the truth is not a guarantee of salvation either - for receiving and accepting the Truth are two different things.

It has been pointed out that one of the biggest phenomenon of today’s Christian world is that many of our separated brethren still attend the Catholic Church.

Many still minister in it even though they do not believe in all the truths of the faith.

Others still consider themselves Catholic while rejecting Catholic teaching, all the while taking part in many of the Sacraments but often with a different point of view then those who are orthodox and in full communion with Rome.

During the protestant reformation it was common for those who dissented from Church teaching to leave the Catholic Church and start another church of their own. Martin Luther led the way.

But nowadays it is very common for those who openly dissent from church teaching to stay with the church to try to change it from within, for they have received the fullness of truth but for various reasons reject all or part of it and often teach others to do the same.

So then we see that evangelization has as its goal not only to plant the seeds of faith among the unbaptized but also to win back those Christians souls separated from the church both within and without.

The Church has the mission “to build up the body of Christ till we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and from that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature” as St. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians.

Revealed truth can never change. Any "reformation" within or without that seeks to do this becomes heretical. The Catholic Church, however, constantly works hard to better explain the revealed truths and to offer to her children a deeper under¬standing of them.

"Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly ... But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith" (Liturgy of the Hours IV, p.363).

Sadly, in today’s Catholic world we live in a church which continues to be divided by dissent. We have many “protestant” Catholics amongst us.

Dissent is that situation whereby some people accept some of the truths taught by the Catholic Church but are selective in denying other truths. Often for personal reasons or pride they dissent from certain teachings of the church and then often misuse conscience as their excuse.

One of the highest ranking Americans in the Vatican has written an eye-opening and deeply personal retrospective on the world shaking events which took place in the Catholic Church 40 years ago with the signing of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). The non-celebration of which was observed in July this year.

Cardinal James Stafford says that the deadliest thing to hit the Church in the last 40 years was not the encyclical itself which re-stated again and reaffirmed the Church’s continued and historical stand against contraception – but rather the dissent that came as a result of the Church’s affirmation.

Cardinal Stafford says that (I quote) “The summer of 1968 is a record of God’s hottest hour. The memories are not forgotten, they are painful…. They inhabit the whirlwind where God’s wrath dwells. In 1968 something terrible happened in the Church.

Within the ministerial priesthood ruptures developed everywhere among friends which have never healed. And the wounds continue to affect the whole church. The dissent, together with the leaders manipulation of the anger they fomented became a supreme test,. It changed fundamental relationships within the church.”

The Cardinal explains that dissenting theologians, led by Charles Curran and other dissident clergy, attempted to bully their fellow priests into signing on to documents of formal dissent represented by the Washington Statement of dissent.”

Quote “The violence of the initial disobedience was only a prelude to further and more pervasive violence”, He writes.

“Contempt for the truth, whether aggressive or passive, has become common in Church life.

Dissenting theologians, priests, sisters and laypeople have continued their coercive techniques. From the very beginning the press has used them to further its own serpentine agenda”. Unquote.

Unfortunately, Father Richard Rohr, Father Richard McBrien, Father Timothy Radcliffe and other priests as well as religious sisters continue to openly foster dissent in the church. It is unfortunate because the fact that they are priests, religious sisters and well educated men and women increases their credibility amongst the faithful and because of this many have fallen into error with them.

In 1968, just before issuing the document, Pope Paul the VI called for episcopal unity on Humanae Vitae because it truly presented the teaching against contraception which stems from the law of God, and not from the Church.

The Pope was therefore deeply dissapointed when the Catholic Bishops of Canada even after the Pope’s appeal to them issued a devastating letter to Canadian Politicians which encouraged and permitted them to support the legalization of contraception in Canada. And in that way the floodgates of the Culture of Death were opened in Canada.

Pope Paul the VI prophetically foresaw that dissent against Humanae Vitae would open the door to pre-marital sex, an increase in divorce, co-habiting couples, abortion, same-sex marriage. All of it came true.

In the upcoming edition of Catholic Insight magazine, Canada’s greatest defender of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, 92 year old Msgr Vincent Foy called the letter by the CCCB “an incredible betrayal of Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception.”

And then this was followed up by what Msgr Foy calls the “Winnipeg disaster of Friday Sept 27, 1968” when the Catholic Bishops of Canada published a Statement on Humanae Vitae embracing the error of allowing married couples to break God’s law by the subterfuge of subjective conscience. Thereby thousands of Canadians fell and continue to fall into error.

This formal statement on Humanae Vitae called the “Winnipeg Statement” has never been retracted and still stands today.

“For 40 years rebellion has been widespread in Canada, says Msgr Foy.

For 40 years we have experienced the deadly fruit of turning away from Christ in the most critical area of life and marital love.

Pope John Paul II called dissent from Humanae Vitae the “Great Lie”.

This lie remains in Canada like a festering, cancerous wound”.

Canadian Catholics have a right to ask their bishops to revoke that statement……In concrete terms it is not our defiance of the episcopacy but love of the episcopacy which leads Catholics to ask our bishops to restore orthodoxy” Unquote.

Jesus foresaw such problems.

Jesus warned his followers to be on guard against false prophets and wolves in sheep's clothing. He advised patience in the struggle with his parable of the Good Seed and Weeds.

The good seed and weeds refer not only to individuals but also to correct doctrine and errors.

Someone has said, "To know history is to be Catholic." This is so true because history proves that Jesus has always fulfilled his promises.

Jesus promised, "And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). This promise was made to His Church.

Jesus also promised St. Peter, I for my part declare to you, you are `Rock,' and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).

Almost prophetically Psalm 95 says in part “Today, listen to the voice of the Lord; do not grow stubborn as your fathers did in the wilderness, when at Meriba and Massah they challenged and provoked me, although they had seen all of my works.

40 Years I endured that generation. I said “They are a people whose hearts go astray and they do not know my ways” So I swore in my anger, “They shall not enter into my rest”.

You know somebody said to me that it must be quite depressing for you and for those who listen to you to continually hear this message about the bad news – the disobedience and dissension in the the church – is there no hope? Is there no good news?

Yes, there is good news and that good news is Jesus Christ. In spite of our sin – and we are all sinners – He came so that we might have life – and that to the full – eternal life for those who believe in Him. We have to remember that He created us for Heaven not to condemn us to Hell. We need to accept the truth. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Accept the good news – turn away from sin – turn to Him – for He is our hope.

Despite over 40 years of struggle against the dissent, 92 year old Msgr Foy still sees hope. “Yet there is hope on this 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, “writes Msgr Foy “God’s grace, always sufficient, will be mercifully given and generously if there are faithful bishops, priests, religious and laity prayerful and ready to make the sacrifices required.”

The best defense has always been good religious instruction of the faithful and prayer.

After 40 years, as the dissenters of our church grow older and pass away one by one we can be certain that their heresies, their works and their errors like chaff will eventually pass away with them. But the words of Christ will not pass away.

So in spite of scandals, errors, claims and counterclaims, it is always possible for us to discover which is the Church that Jesus founded and where are those in it who are teaching the truth. Who in our Church may we believe? Who is teaching the truth - for there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing. The answer is:

"Where Peter is, there is Christ's Church!" and the gates of Hell have not and will not prevail against it. Whoever stands with the Vicar of Christ stands in the truth.

In chapter 16 of his letter to the Romans, St. Paul warns us with these words: “I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching you have learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve your Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent.

In Chapter 15 he prays for unity in the church. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Following the exhortation of St. Paul let us therefore join Msgr Foy and pray for a united church, one in truth, one in Christ, one in obedience and one in unity under the visible Head of His Church on Earth, the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI and we pray also for the Archbishop of our Edmonton Archdiocese, His Grace, ArchBishop Richard Smith as he seeks to maintain unity and truth in our Archdiocese. They both seek to lead us all to Christ by continuing to always and everywhere proclaim the Good News – The Good News of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world. Our Creator who came to earth so that we might all join Him in Heaven. That is His plan and that is Good News Indeed!

Deacon Bernard Ouellette

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