It is not hard to obey when we love the one whom we obey.
–Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Since becoming a missionary which began only months before Pope Francis began his papacy, I have been constantly shocked at how easily we Catholics can write off what he says. In order justify our dissent (which often is simply a justification of our lifestyle) many of us spread second or third hand stories about his supposed pacts with the devil, the masons or worse or all- the gay lobby! I have heard Catholics judge and condemn the pope or the church as “infiltrated” by any host of “enemies” soon after some papal proclamation challenges their lifestyle or standard of living. This “cafeteria Catholicism” has become the norm for many Catholics who simply refuse to accept anything the Church says that isn’t in accordance with their own vision of the mission of the Church.
“Cafeteria Catholicism” allows us to pick those “truths” by which we will measure our lives as Catholics. … “Cafeteria Catholicism” is what happens when the stance of Protagoras, regarding man as the measure of all things, gets religion — but not too much.
— Fidelity, 1986, published by the Wanderer Forum Foundation
When we consider the Church’s moral teachings on Abortion, Homosexuality, sexuality, the environment, social justice, capital punishment, or war among others, it is commonplace for some to simply accept those issues championed by their particular political party or news source and then write off the others as irrelevant or worse satanic! How many Catholics who disagree with the Church on contraception or abortion can actually present the Church teaching in a coherent way? How many Catholics who disagree with the magisterium on care for the environment or capital punishment actually try to understand the Church’s argument? I have meet few on both sides.
It amazes me that someone could condemn another for dissenting from Humanae Vitae (the last encyclical written by Blessed Paul VI) and yet themselves have no problem dissenting from the teachings of Populorum Progressio (an encyclical written the year before by Blessed Paul VI). I recently quoted Blessed Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio on facebook and was told by some of our friends and benefactors that we could lose monetary support if I kept it up.
Behind much of the anger and gossip seems to be a genuine fear that the Holy Spirit is not in control, that Jesus has somehow let His Church down. Fear, fear, fear. It lurks behind so many uncharitable words and criticisms.
I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” As our love increases our fear will decrease. It’s that simple. We need not fear the masons! We need not fear ISIS. We need not even fear Satan himself. Rather as Jesus says “I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
We need to love our neighbors and trust in Jesus. Mark 4:40 “Why are you afraid? Do you have no faith.” Again 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”
As Dr. Felix Just, S.J. points out “The most commonly repeated phrase in the whole Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is “Have no fear!” or “Do not be afraid!”
I am not afraid of where the Pope is calling us. I believe he is speaking for Jesus. I have dove into his teachings first hand and found a medicine for my soul. I am praying for each of you who read this blog that God rescues His flock from fear “to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our lives.” Luke 1:75