Les Femmes

Dear Readers,

The Greek myth of Pandora is a parable for our modern age. The story describes how Zeus, punished man for accepting the gift of fire from Prometheus. At the wedding feast of Promethius to Pandora Zeus presented a beautiful a box with explicit instructions not to open it. He knew Pandora’s curiosity would overcome her. Indeed it did, and when she opened the box out flew greed, envy, pride, lust, and all the temptations and sins that afflict mankind. (Even the pagans understood the reality of evil despite their ignorance of its true origin.) Pandora slammed the box shut too late to save man from the evils let loose on the world. Only one tiny thing remained at the bottom – hope. What a gift hope is as well as those who magnify that virtue as they obey God’s command to work for the coming of his kingdom. Hope makes every sorrow and difficulty endurable.

Christ’s order to the disciples at the Ascension was to go forth and preach the Good News. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Matthew elaborates, “Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them…teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always until the end of the world!” (Matt. 28: 18-20) Doesn’t it inspire hope to know we are never alone?

The disciples responded immediately with zeal and joy once Jesus sent the Holy Spirit! After Pentecost they travelled the known world to bring souls to Christ despite persecution and martyrdom for many! Does that sound like a job for lazy whiners? And it wasn’t just the priests among his followers who heard Christ’s order, but all the disciples: clergy, laity, men, women, slaves, and free. Everyone received the commission to work under Christ’s authority supported by the power of the Holy Spirit which is freely given to help us persevere. The great commission and those promises continue through the ages to our own time and our own work obligation. With that assurance, how can we not be diligent servants who serve in hope, rejoicing in the Lord?

But, as Catholics, what exactly is our work in these challenging days when confusion and ambiguity reign both in the culture and in the Church herself? We know the Church is indefectible (perfect, unable to fail) and cannot err, and yet we see error all around us even coming from our shepherds in the Church. How does that impact our work and duties as Catholics?

This…crisis…is due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform…. It is an enormous hypocrisy…to refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality….to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano

Think of the last time you were discouraged or experienced a period of “desolation” which St. Ignatius describes as “darkness of soul, turmoil of spirit, restlessness …which lead to want of faith, want of hope, want of love.” Did you deal with it by vegging out in front of the TV or social media? Did you spend hours playing on-line games? Did you abandon your usual prayer habits because you just didn’t feel like praying? One is tempted to do just that.

St. Ignatius warns against it urging souls to “remain firm and constant in the resolution and decision which guided us the day before the desolation.” The devil wants to play us. We must resist. Rather than quit, St. Ignatius advises that, “It will be very advantageous to intensify our activity… insist more upon prayer, upon meditation, and on much examination of ourselves” and to increase our acts of penance. God allows desolation to help us build spiritual muscle by striving “to persevere in patience.” On the other hand, during times of consolation when all is easy and we feel close to God and every prayer and meditation fills us with delight, that’s the time to reflect and plan for the inevitable return of desolation. St. Ignatius says to “store up a supply of strength as defense against that day.” Many saints warn against the temptation to “spiritual gluttony,” when one prays and practices heroic sacrifices as long as he receives continuous consolation from the Lord. When the dry and restless times come, the spiritual glutton falls away. It is important to learn to discern the spirits so that we recognize when we are being led by the good spirit or being tempted by the evil spirit.

Just as my husband and I set up barriers against the bear attacking our bee yard, each of us can build barriers against the attacks of the evil spirits. I heartily recommend studying the Spiritual Exercises even if you can’t make a retreat. St. Ignatius’ guidelines for the discernment of spirits and how to act in times of both consolation and desolation offer wise counsel to souls seeking a closer walk with God.

Sadly, it means we are fighting enemies both within and outside the Church. Nothing new. Many saints faced similar challenges confronting errors of heretics and evildoers, even some who occupied the chair of Peter. Which brings us to an important point. As Robert de Mattei recently wrote, “The primacy of Peter constitutes the bedrock on which Jesus Christ instituted His Church, and on which She will remain solid until the end of time. The promise of the Church’s victory, however, is also the announcement of a war, which, until the end of time, will be waged by hell against the Church.” The devil aims to destroy the Church, a hopeless goal, but he can destroy the faith of many who allowing him do it, abandoning the Church out of discouragement and disillusion with the one who occupies the chair.

Where will they go? To one of hundreds of Protestant sects promoting abortion and same-sex “marriage?” To atheism or indifference? That is spiritual suicide! No! We must stay and fight for truth! With de Mattei we recognize that “there is a modernist infiltration inside the Church… [and] churchmen who betray or deform the message of Christ.” Despite that, “There is only one Catholic Church.” -- not a true Church and a Bergoglian false Church. No matter who sits on the chair, whether it’s Peter or Judas, we must cling to the faith and bow to the chair where our invisible head, Jesus Christ, reigns.

“What is certain,” DeMattei says, “is that recognizing the possibility for a Pope to fall into heresy does not mean in any way, diminishing the love for and devotion to the Papacy. It means admitting that the Pope is the Vicar, not always impeccable and not always infallible, of Jesus Christ, only Head of the Mystical Body of the Church.” Do not, de Mattei says, succumb to “catacombism …the refusal of the militant conception of Christianity” withdrawing instead into silence. Catholics are losing battles “because they have not fought” and we have not fought because we are “turning our backs on the Augustinian concept of the two cities fighting each other in history.” And then he challenges us with a quote from Pius XII to the bishops of the United States. “The Christian…is always an apostle; it is not permitted to the Soldier of Christ that he quit the battlefield, because only death puts an end to his military service.”

Silence is unacceptable. Our duty is “to call out by name, all those who inside the Church profess a theology, a philosophy, a morality, a spirituality, in contrast with the perennial Magisterium of the Church, no matter what office they may occupy.” We must always do it with charity and respect for the office. At the same time, we need to “separate ourselves from evil Pastors, and to unite ourselves to the good ones, inside of the one Church in which also live, in the same field, the wheat and the cockle.” We need to know the difference!

Despite all the evils swirling around us, that little virtue hope, watered by the Holy Spirit, gives us the grace to persevere. Where evil abounds, hope tells us, grace abounds even more. “When enemies assail the Christian name more fiercely, when the fateful barque of Peter is tossed about more violently and when everything seems to be tottering with no hope of human support it is then that Christ is present, Bondsman, Comforter, Source of supernatural power.”

Amen! For the Christian, that is the call to arms from our Commander! Who will answer?

Les Femmes is a founding member of the Catholic Media Coalition a group of print and electronic publishers. See www.catholicmediacoalition.org

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