Defending Our Catholic Faith – A Wakeup Call
APRIL 2011/JULY 2013
“Not to oppose error is to approve it, and not to defend the truth is to suppress it” – Pope St. Felix III
Note: In this report I may occasionally use bold print, Italics,
dotted underline or word underlining for emphasis. This will be my personal emphasis and not that of the source that I am quoting.
Note: Throughout this missive you will occasionally see bold type for emphasis. These emphases are always mine personally and are not the emphasis of a source that I am quoting – thank you! Also, text appearing in Italics is a quotation from Holy Scripture unless indicated otherwise.
MICHAEL’S NOTE: I HAVE COLORED SOME OF RON SMITH’S WORDS RED FOR EXTRA EMPHASIS
My dear friends – maybe former friends when you finish reading this missive! For a couple of years the recurring thought has come to me that most of us are not doing our Catholic duty of defending our faith in those particularly difficult areas of abortion, birth control, liturgical abuse, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning, pornography, and homosexual marriage or civil unions*. There are additional areas that are also important but these issues seem to be at the forefront. Jesus Christ and his Bride on earth – the Holy Catholic Church – NEVER intended for even one of us to sit idly by as these atrocities keep occurring all around us.
“The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it.” *I can extend this list- Michael
“Towards God, the Christian has the lifelong obligations of love and service. (1) The will of God must be put first on the list of personal values, and must be kept there throughout life; (2) he must never think or live as if he were independent of God.”
“Since, in our own time, new problems are arising and very serious errors are circulating which tend to undermine the foundations of religion, the moral order, and human society itself, this sacred synod earnestly exhorts laymen – each according to his own gifts of intelligence and learning – to be more diligent in doing what they can to explain, defend, and properly apply Christian principles to the problems of our era in accordance with the mind of the Church.” My friends read that statement one more time. That was Vatican II speaking in the early 1960’s! Was that not credibly prophetic regarding the conditions of our world today?
Early on during the time that I was researching our liturgy, I read a book, Eclipse of Truth – Part 1, The Law of Worship. A couple of convicting quotes stayed with me: “Thus, according to the obligations and rights which belong to all members of Christ’s Church, not only is there no room afforded for liturgical abuse – but the faithful are bound to defend the Faith when necessary from such occurrences when they are confronted with them.”
“It is, truly, a most regrettable thing that liturgical abuse has gone so far. There is no question that such abuse is an offense against God and against His Church – the Body of Christ. Catholics faithful to the Church are duty bound to seek to stop liturgical abuses.”
Most who will receive this missive are married couples. “The sacrament of marriage takes up and re-proposes the task of defending and spreading the faith, a task that has its roots in Baptism and Confirmation, and makes Christian married couples and parents witnesses of Christ ‘to the end of the earth,’ missionaries, in the true and proper sense, of love and life.”
“Obedience to the Holy Spirit includes a faithful observance of the commandments of God, the laws and precepts of the Church, and just civil laws.”
Recently the Holy Spirit has relentlessly been prompting me to write this missive and get it out to many. I again resisted for a long time because I did not want to face the prospect of losing more of the few friends that I have left. But, so be it! The Lord consoles me by saying, “You are my friends if you do what I command you“.
Isn’t He the only one who really counts? When Judgement Day for me arrives, I will not have to answer to a single one of you who are reading this now – I will only be answering unto God. As someone once said, “You gotta do what you gotta do.” “If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it.”
“But Peter and the apostles said in reply, ‘We must obey God rather than men‘.”
One lady from my parish said that if she spoke up on some of these atrocities she would be persecuted. Back in the first few centuries, persecution meant the imprisoning, beating and killing of Christians.
Today, although those things still occur in lands far from us, persecution here in our US of A amounts to our being shunned,
denied revered positions in our parish or diocese, denial of the better seats at banquets, stigmatized by name-calling such as religious fanatic, traditionalist, liturgical police, or self righteous, being recipients of ‘hate mail’, being ignored by those formerly our friends, and – now it gets ugly – refusal to stand next to us at the water cooler, and so forth.
This lady said to me, I won’t be persecuted because I intend to never do anything to be persecuted! I won’t criticize her for what she said because she really was speaking for most of us, including myself at one time in the past. However, let us not forget Our Lord’s advice, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
Another friend has told me more than once that you have to be obedient to your pastor in everything. If your pastor told you he was certain that scriptures have proven to him that we can walk on water and he proceeds to walk off a pier into the ocean, would you follow him because he told you to?
The point I am trying to make here is that every one of us are only required (as they say in the military) to obey lawful orders. So, if your pastor tells you that you may not pass out anti-abortion literature on Church property, you must obey him because that order is within his authority to give. But, if he tells you to join in and recite part of the Eucharistic prayers, it would be a sin for you to cooperate under the false pretense of obedience.
Before I go on, let me (or should I say let the Lord) briefly address persecution. I would be stating an untruth if I told you that you would not be persecuted if you Defend Your Faith or otherwise evangelize. Persecution comes with the turf! Enough of my words on this – listen to our Lord speak: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”
“So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.”
“Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them.”
“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
And finally, “In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
I see a solution here for those who do not want to be persecuted, simply don’t live a life in Christ and deny him – refuse to do His work, a-hem!
“Evangelization takes many forms and employs many media of communications: personal witness in one’s circle of friends and co-workers; etc. It is understood that, with the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, every Christian receives the commission to bear witness to the message and work of Christ, so that others may believe in Him.”
Does it not then stand to reason that if we remain silent, Christ remains silent?!
“Confirmation [the Sacrament] means accepting responsibility for your faith and destiny. Adulthood means that you must do what’s right on your own, not for recognition or reward but merely because it’s the right thing to do.”
The Holy Spirit was seen as giving a particular strength to fight for the Christian Faith and life. Think back to your youth (for most of us). Do you remember Confirmation day when the bishop gave you a little slap on the cheek? “This emphasis even found its way into medieval ritual, which had the bishop administer a light tap or slap on the cheek of the one being confirmed, to show him that he must be ready to lay down his life for the Faith, must defend it and be a soldier for Christ.
Contemporary theology sees Confirmation as a completion of Baptism, a sealing with the Spirit to enable the Christian to witness to his Faith in a mature way.
Pope Paul VI, in the Apostolic Constitution on the Sacrament of Confirmation, still sees this sacrament as endowing the recipients ‘with special strength’ and obliging them ‘to spread and defend the Faith both by word and by deed’ as true witnesses of Christ.”
“By Confirmation, a baptized Christian becomes permanently marked as a witness and is obliged to communicate the Faith, with the price of his blood, if necessary.”
“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Two of the spiritual works of mercy, that we are responsible for, are instructing the sinner and advising the sinner“, both of which may require us to leave our personal comfort zone.
John the Baptist did! “Now Herod had arrested John, bound [him], and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.”
We all know the rest of this story about how John was ultimately decapitated.
Often, when I have talked to people about doing things to help correct some of the moral evils in our country or world, they have said or inferred that they pray against these things, which is enough. Pope John Paul II himself says in the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum regarding the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “If faith is not expressed in works, it is dead (James 2:14-16) and cannot bear fruit unto eternal life.” He went on to say, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium.”
The dictionary has a lengthy definition for work. The central definition is this, “to fashion or create by expending labor or exertion upon.”
“Exert: to put oneself into action or to tiring effort.”
Canon Law says quite a bit about our obligations to evangelize, defend, etc. “Since the laity like all the Christian faithful, are deputed by God to the apostolate through their baptism and confirmation, they are therefore bound by the general obligations and enjoy the general right to work as individuals or in associations so that the divine message of salvation becomes known and accepted by all persons, etc.”
“Lay persons are bound by the obligations and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with that doctrine, announce it, defend it when necessary, and be enabled to assume their role in exercising the apostolate.”
So, it’s great that you have a bumper sticker that says you vote pro-life but, according to their definitions, work and exertion require a bit more! We need to write letters to our electors and abortion clinics and tell our priest he needs to speak against abortion from the pulpit. We need to inform our bishop when abuses are occurring in our liturgies or they will never be corrected! We need to tell our retailers that we will not shop there again as long as they continue to sell pornography. We need to turn to the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church when speaking on these serious issues not simply telling people what they want to hear. “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.”
I quote our catechism for a reason. It says, “Therefore, I ask all the Church’s Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life.”
“Let everyone do all in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favoritism.”
How serious, you may ask, is this responsibility for us (the laity)? “This instruction [Redemptionis Sacramentum], prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was approved by the same Pontiff on the Solemnity of St. Joseph (who is guardian of the Church), March 19, 2004, and he ordered it to be published and to be observed immediately by all concerned.“
“This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he not is speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgements made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.”
“In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and dignity of persons.”
Remember my friends, these ‘orders’ came directly to us from the Vicar of Christ. “Vicar of Christ: A title meaning ‘one who takes the place of Christ,’ often used of the Bishop of Rome (the pope) in particular.”
After reading this missive, are you going to believe anything that I said? I personally don’t know and rather doubt it as it is has been written by a nobody without credentials, position, or authority. However, if you prayed before reading and discerned that the Holy Spirit guided me in these words, then maybe this scripture, where our Lord sends out 72 disciples to preach and teach, applies here: “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
“Throughout the Church’s history the term ‘apostolate’ has consistently referred to work accomplished on the Lord’s behalf, applied in a very specific sense to the work carried out by the non-ordained.”
Some of you know and some do not know that my “apostolate” for the past twelve or so years has been to defend our faith by doing free Catholic research for anyone on any Catholic question. I answer all questions in writing with quoting Church documents and other exceptional sources and footnotes so that the requestors and readers may go to the source documents used if they so desire. If anyone who reads this missive has a question that they need researched and answered, please do not hesitate to ask me. I have amassed quite a hard copy and electronic library of research materials over the years. I have the most current church documents on liturgical rubrics and our liturgy.
This missive completed on January 7, 2005 by Ronald Smith, 11701 Maplewood Rd., Chardon, Ohio 44024-8482, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – It may be copied and given to anyone that it may help as long as it is copied in its entirety.
May we recover by penance what we have lost by sin!