“Feast of the Holy Family”
We find ourselves in a situation in which, as members of the Church that we are, many Christians suffer scandal and feel as if their faith were faltering due to the grave crisis that the Church is going through. We are in times of persecution. A persecution worse than that of the first days of Christianity. The environment around us is clearly pagan and anti-Christian. Today´s persecution, however, possesses its own peculiarities due to the fact that it comes not only from outside the Church, but from inside as well. This is causing the faith of many to falter. My beloved brethren, there is no reason for such a thing to happen. We have sufficient doctrine and means, given to us by Jesus Christ himself, to stand strong in our faith. It is a question of guarding our serenity and keeping a clear mind.
Christ foresaw this entire persecution. Moreover, he also told us that in the end times this it would become even worse. Good shepherds and bad shepherds have always existed within the Church. The New Testament gives us ample warning as well as advice for us to guard ourselves from bad shepherds and false prophets.
“They are of the world: therefore of the world they speak, and the world heareth them.” (St. John). And St. Paul tells us that a time will come in which false prophets will arise and seduce many; instead of sound doctrine, they will teach fables.
The Church has always been thwarted to and fro. Don´t forget what happened in the fourth century with Arrianism, and how the defender of the faith, St. Athanasius was exiles, jailed…, and yet the Church continued moving forward. The ship of Peter will not be sunk; we have the promise of Christ.
Abuse of power has always existed in the Church. Let us remember the case of Paul VI, when he “abolished” the Mass of all time in order to impose the Novus Ordo Mass. Let us also remember when Benedect XVI said that this Mass could never be eliminated. Pope Benedict XVI, in his Motu Proprio known to all, gave permission to all priests to celebrate the Mass without needing any special permission from their bishop. We also know about the declared opposition of many bishops to have this Mass celebrated in their diocese. We have to remind them of what the Council of Trent said, “If anyone says that the Mass is only to be celebrated in the vernacular, let him be anathema.” For this reason, if any bishop were to forbid the celebration of this Mass, he incurs in the penalty. This is an abuse of the authority of bishops over the faithful.
What must the faithful do when shepherds teach false doctrines that are foreign to the Magisterium that the Church has always upheld? First, they are not under any obligation to follow those false teachings. Second, and most importantly, they much continue to show respect for those in authority. Bad popes, and even heretical popes have already existed in the Church. It is not the place of the faithful, however, nor that of a group of the faithful to declare that the pope is a heretic or that the Seat of Peter is vacant. The burden of doing such a thing is on the shoulders of the Official Church. We must hold strongly to our faith and not lose proper respect for the hierarchy. The foundation of your faith is not what this or that pope, bishop, pastor or visionary may say. Your faith is founded on Christ and on what the Magisterium of the faith has always taught. Our faith is a gift that comes from above.
Remember the Christ´s complaint when the apostles were afraid and began to doubt as the boat they were in was shaken by the storm. Why did you doubt? Was I not with you? Do we not have the promise of Christ? The Bride of Christ is holy and cannot be destroyed by evil. Then, why do we doubt? Brethren, this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith! Our faith will conquer this world against the power of evil.
Remember, also, Christ´s words that give us full confidence in our triumph, “Have confidence, I have overcome the world.” Or the words of St. Paul, “Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
Let us, therefore, be conscious of the fact that we are living in very difficult times, but, at the same time, le us have the clear conviction that we have more than sufficient weapons for us to keep peace of heart. Remember that “Christ is our peace” and that “I will be with you always, until the end of time”, and “I will give you joy such that no one will be able to take from you.”
Let us put our trust in Jesus, who never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If we truly love Jesus, we will trust in Him, and nothing will be able to make our faith falter. In this world we will have to suffer tribulation, but remember, “I have overcome the world.”