Tuesday, May 6, 2014


MY COMMENTS FIRST: I've lost track of the number of times now that Pope Francis as spoken of the devil and his influence. I have to say that my formation in the seminary of the 1970's ridiculed such talk and ridiculed the pre-Vatican II emphasis on demons, saints and angels. Pope Francis in emphasizing the devil and his influence is promoting his own version of the hermeneutic of continuity as it regards the Church prior to Vatican II and the Church after Vatican II. We belong to the same Church that is in continuity with her past as she walks in the present toward the future.

This pope is not afraid to call people heretics, whether he uses categories that are historic or with his own twist on things, like the "gnostics and Pelagians" in our midst. We know how indignant the Pelagians and gnostics here are when they think the Holy Father is directing his "who am I to judge except in these cases" remarks towards them.

Pope Francis' prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith isn't afraid to call out the heresy of gnosticsm of the LCWR and to call their teachings on "Conscious Evolution" a part of the heresy of gnosticism. You had better believe that Pope Francis, the "who am I to judge, except in gnostic and Pelagian cases" had approved of this smack down of the arrogant and heretical LCWR. The Pope isn't going to allow his curia to act independently of him.

Pope at Mass: Church is not just a school of religion

(Vatican Radio) The Christian who does not witness to the faith becomes sterile. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. The Pope drew inspiration from the martyrdom of St. Stephen, narrated in the Acts of the Apostles. The Church, he said, is "not a university of religion", but the people who follow Jesus. Only in this way, he added , is the Church both “fruitful and mother".

Emer McCarthy reports:

In his homily Pope Francis traced the path that led to the death of the first martyr of the Church, a death that was the exact replica of Christ’s. He, too, like Jesus , he said, had encountered “the jealousy of the leaders who were trying" to eliminate him. He too had "false witnesses" , a "rushed judgment”. Stephen warns them that are resisting the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had said , but "these people - said the Pope – were uneasy, were not at peace in their hearts". These people , he added, had " hatred " in their heart . That is why, on hearing Stephen’s words, they were furious . "This hatred - said Pope Francis - was sown in their hearts by the devil", "this is the devil’s hatred of Christ”.

The devil "who did what he wanted with Jesus Christ in his Passion now does the same" with Stephen. This "struggle between God and the devil" is clearly seen in martyrdom. “On the other hand, Jesus had told his disciples that they had to rejoice to be persecuted in his name: "To be persecuted, to be a martyr, to gives ones’ life for Jesus is one of the Beatitudes". That is why, the Pope added , "the devil cannot stand seeing the sanctity of a church or the sanctity of a person, without trying to do something". This is what he does with Stephen, but "he died like Jesus forgiving".

"Martyrdom is the translation of a Greek word that also means witness. And so we can say that for a Christian the path follows in the footsteps of this witness, Christ’s footsteps, to bear witness to Him and, many times, this witness ends up in laying down one’s life . You cannot understand a Christian without witness. We are not a ' religion' of ideas, of pure theology, beautiful things, of commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness – who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ - and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives”.
On Stephen’s death, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, "a severe persecution began against the Church in Jerusalem". These people , the Pope observed , "felt strong and the devil provoked them to do this" and so "Christians scattered to the regions of Judea and Samaria". This persecution, the Pope noted, means that "the people spread far and wide" and wherever they went they explained the Gospel , gave testimony of Jesus , and so "mission of the Church" began. "So many - he recalled - converted, on hearing these people". One of the Fathers of the Church, explained this by saying : "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians". With "their witness, they preach the faith" :

"Witness, be it in everyday life, in difficulties, and even in persecution and death, always bears fruit. The Church is fruitful and a mother when she witnesses to Jesus Christ. Instead , when the church closes in on itself , when it thinks of itself as a - so to speak - 'school of religion', with so many great ideas, with many beautiful temples, with many fine museums, with many beautiful things, but does not give witness, it becomes sterile. The Christian is the same. The Christian who does not bear witness, is sterile, without giving the life he has received from Jesus Christ".

The Pope continued, "Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit", and "we cannot bear witness without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us". Pope Francis advised those present: “In difficult times, where we have to choose the right path, where we have to say 'no' to a lot of things that maybe try to seduce us, there is prayer to the Holy Spirit, and He makes us strong enough to take this path of witness":

"Today thinking about these two icons - Stephen, who dies, and the people, the Christians, fleeing, scattering far and wide because of the violent persecution - let us ask: How is my witness? Am I a Christian who witnesses to Jesus or are a simple numerary in this sect ? Am I fruitful because I bear witness, or sterile because unable to let the Holy Spirit lead me forward in my Christian vocation?" .

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website

1 comment:

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

I wonder what your seminary formation would have been like if the students had had access to the internet. In this case, access to Paul VI's 1972 "Confronting the Devil's Power" address would surely have served as a counterbalance to the post-spiritual nonsense of theology professors.

Similarly, I've often heard priests of that era say they were told in the seminary that priestly celibacy was on the way out, but these future priests were not told about Paul VI's 1967 encyclical defending this "brilliant jewel, and retains its value undiminished even in our time".

The internet has changed the future of the Church for the better.