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Rules and Tools for the Church Militant #2

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What does a wife of 42 years do to remind her husband to stay on topic, especially when the topic is Jesus Christ and His Holy Church? The answer is quite simple. She makes sure that a copy of the Fulton Sheen Complete Audio Library is sitting under the tree on Christmas morning and it has your name on it. And so she did. And so I have finally stumbled upon a way to approach some of what needs to be said about our present circumstances at St. Peter’s.

Before we return to our series of discussions on Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors, there needs to be some preparation made to ensure that we know how to process the information that we will encounter. I call that information “traffic.” This “traffic” will be voluminous, diverse, disparate, and complex. That is why I alluded to the the rules and tools that are available to the Church Militant to aid in acquiring, collating, organizing, and interpreting the “traffic.”

Today, we will take a brief look at Rule No. 3 for the Church Militant – Develop the Proper Perspective.

If the topic is Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Church, and we are going to discuss how the Church in general and our Parish in particular is influenced by the current Tidal Wave of Change brought about by what I have called “social-justicism,” then we should have some idea of where social justice fits into Church teaching. In other words, we must have a “proper perspective” on social justice. Without calling upon the wisdom of every Catholic author who has spoken on social justice, let us merely point to two sources.

The first source is highly authoritative and elegantly brief, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Specifically, I call your attention to the CCC, Part Three – Life in Christ, Section One, Man’s Vocation Life in the Spirit, Chapter Two, The Human Communion. In a very, very tiny nutshell, it comes down to three important principles:

  • Respect for the human person,
  • Equality and differences among men, and
  • Human solidarity

That is the simple part, it is the part that went right. But, as we all can plainly see, something has gone wrong. It would take a much longer reading of the CCC and other works to understand how such important principles as those proclaimed in the CCC often go wrong when they are put into practice.

That leads me to my opening paragraph and Rule No. 3. The Venerable Fulton Sheen was a master at delving into the very heart of the truth and showing to us the things we should have seen, but never saw; the things we should have known, but never knew.

Bishop Sheen was able to use his daily Holy Hour and Rule No. 3 to develop a proper perspective of what has happened in the Church. In his sermon from a retreat for priests, First the Spiritual, then Take Action, Bishop Sheen asserts that, since Vatican II, Holy Mother Church has become divided into two churches, each living at the extremes in an antipodal way. In 28 minutes, he manages to unravel problems that have bothered me for over 25 years. Neither extreme can exist separately and truly be called the Church. The two must be brought together in each Catholic heart. Importantly, though, the Spiritual must come first – it is Christ’s call to “Come!” Once we have been fortified and edified by His grace and love, then we can share that same grace and love with the world that so needs Him and we can follow His command to “Go!”

And this is how Rule No. 3 leads us to a proper perspective on what has gone wrong with “social-justicism.” Many have “gone” on their “mission” without being fully prepared to receive the command to “Go!”

If you have the 28 minutes to spare, take that time to listen to Bishop Sheen, so that you can share in his perspective and understand Social Justice as Holy Mother Church would want you to understand.

Meanwhile, I have many, many more hours to spend listening to a most treasured Christmas gift.

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