There is an article today at National Review which has a reaction to Pope Francis’ strange words about the Eucharist. HERE. Francis said that, since “there is already unity” among Christians, then we shouldn’t have to “wait for theologians to come to agreement on the Eucharist.”
Is that so? If that is the case, then a fundamental principle we Catholics have embraced since the beginning of the Eucharist is being overthrown. The idea is this: The reception of the Eucharist in Communion together both reflects unity and creates unity. However, one of those has logical priority and chronological priority. Common belief in what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist is a sine qua non for its reception in common with other Catholics. Once unity in belief is established, then reception continues to deepen the unity. But the one must precede the other, logically and chronologically for “communion”, in its proper sense, to be authentic. Admission of those who do not believe and who do not publicly profess what Church teaches about the Eucharist, is to cause a false appearance of communion and an abuse of the sacrament of unity. In other words, reception of the Eucharist cannot, by itself, create communion. Grace builds on nature, it doesn’t replace it. Hence, what Francis said is troubling at best and disturbing at non-best. I don’t know how to square what he is suggesting.
I’m a convert. I was Lutheran. No Communion for me before I converted. Lutherans don’t believe what Catholics believe about the Eucharist. Period. No Communion for them, or any other person who doesn’t believe what the Church teaches. This is not rocket science and every Catholic who has even the slightest clue knows this is true. I’m not making this up.
In these confused and confusing times, there are some days when we are able to collect a few more threads than usual in our weaving of lifelines upon the thrashing deck of the Barque of Peter. Today seems to be one of those days.
First, there is issued a “Declaration of Truths”, which I wrote of HERE.
Then, there is a new book translated into English of essays, etc., by Roberto De Mattei.
Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church
In the forward by Cardinal Burke, I read a key phrase:
Only by fidelity to Sacred Tradition can the Bride of Christ, amid the many challenges she faces, chart her course, in accord with the will of Christ, her Bridegroom, her Head and Shepherd at every time and in every place.
Succinct and just plain right.
These are troubled and troubling times. However, help is showing up for the troubled in the form of sound reflection and the thoughtful, faithful writings that flow from reflection.
De Mattei, right off the bat in his book, attempts to remind the reader that the Church has had some pretty rocky times in the past, and that many of those challenges – which at times seemed existential – were caused by Popes and were handled by the faithful who resisted them with humble fidelity to what the Church has handed down in her Sacred Tradition. He even has a startling offering entitled “The Sack of Rome (1527): A Merciful Chastisement.” A key to the events that lead to the truly hideous rampage through Rome of Protestant led troops was the refusal of Clement VII to head his predecessor Adrian VI’s appeal for radical reform. The shock to the Roman Church’s identity seems to have awakened her so that she initiated a counter-reformation that produced a Council of Trent and defeat of the Turks in 1571 at Lepanto.
Someone like Jordan Peterson points out that we can make huge changes in our lives through small, incremental and compounding changes. Otherwise we can deal with change through disaster management. The same goes for the Church.
The situation we are in right now didn’t happen overnight. The situation we are in right now isn’t going to be fixed overnight. We shall eventually wake up to the need to make necessary changes. We can do so incrementally and let compound like interest to our benefit or we can wait for the chastisement which our loving Savior will permit for our correction. It is Christ’s Church, remember. And as De Mattei wrote his preface,
Only Jesus Christ can save the Church – no one else – because He alone is her Founder and Head. Human beings, from the Vicar of Christ down to the last member of the faithful, can either cooperate with or resist the divine grace that comes to them through the influence of the Holy Spirit and impels them to radical fidelity to Christ and His Law.
Remember, grace builds on nature. In our lives we get through with grace, but grace needs our elbow grease.
I write this on Monday in the Octave of Easter, which in the modern calendar is now also the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. Mary, at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry said, “Do whatever He tells you.” Oh, Lord! Tell us what to do now! Mary, at the end of Christ’s public ministry, stood in perfectly unified resistance to evil by her silent vigil at the Cross. Oh Lord! Make us steadfast by your Cross. Upon Mary the Holy Spirit poured even as it poured out on the Apostles to strengthen them at the birth of the Church on that first Pentecost. Oh Lord! Strengthen us all in your fire-breath of grace!
Yesterday, on Pentecost, I reminded the flock of one of the effects of the outpouring of the Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation. Confirmation also strengthens us to make the hard call and then stand firm when we are challenged in our Christian living. We can call upon the power of this sacrament, which has imparted an indelible character, like the potter’s mark of ownership, into our souls. Confirmation is an ongoing reality in our lives just as the Pentecost event is an ongoing reality in the Church.
The RUACH hasn’t stopped, though our ears are now deafened to Its roaring course.
As we move forward in these troubled and troubling times, make a conscious choice to call upon that mighty sacrament you received. Activate it.
Mind you, the sacrament will be mighty in you when you are in the state of grace. I repeat, therefore, my perennial admonition.
GO TO CONFESSION!
Then get up off the ground, stand up, stick your chin out and say,
“Almighty God my heavenly Father, You knew me before the creation of the cosmos and You wanted me to come into existence to bring You glory. Of all the possible universes You could have created, You created this one and You called me into it at exactly the time and place You chose for me so that I could fulfill my part in Your unfathomable plan. You willed that I have the honor to be baptized into the Church You designed and You maintain for our well-being. You willed that I receive the Body and Blood of Your Son and the indwelling of Your Spirit. You willed that I should also be confirmed so that our relationship be even deeper and that I might be an even better instrument of Your will. I now call upon that mighty Sacrament of Confirmation. Through it make me strong to bear whatever burdens I must endure in Your service. Make me wise to recognize accurately and then strong to resist, resolute, whatever is out of harmony with Your will as manifested especially in the beautiful Tradition You have guided in the authoritative, infallible and indefectible Church. Even if that disharmony should come from those whom you have endowed with the grace of Orders and seated even in the highest places of teaching, governing and sanctifying, make me steadfast. With confidence in Your plan for me I ask this for myself and for the brethren through the Holy Spirit’s Gifts and in the Name of Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, ever one God, world without end. Amen.”