It can be frustrating at times, reading the opinions of so-called intellectuals who attempt to impress the reader with their weighty opinions, when the truth is, their thoughts are so much rubbish. Don't get me wrong: there is much that is impressive in that heady world of academia. But lately I have read a lot of nonsense. Paul Elie's Op Ed article in the New York Times is just such a piece.
Elie comments on Benedict XVI's decision to resign or step down as pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Citing health reasons, the Holy Father ended his pontificate on February 28, 2013. Though not unprecedented, it is extremely rare for a pope to resign (the last one did over 500 years ago). Elie uses the event to suggest that Catholics "resign" from being Catholics - if only for a time. He then goes on to explain that instead of attending mass this Sunday, he will go somewhere else. He writes
That is why this Sunday, I won’t be at the Oratory Church of St.
Boniface in Downtown Brooklyn, even though I love it there — a
welcoming, open-minded, authentically religious place.
Instead, I’ll be at the Brooklyn Meeting of the Quakers, who have long invited volunteers from our church to serve food to the poor.
When I think of the martyrs who died rather than forsake the holy mass, or people in various lands who travel hours on foot so they can attend the sacred liturgy, I wonder what is this guy about and does he even have a clue as to what he is suggesting? Can he be serious? Exchange the chance to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in order to make a point?
To suggest that serious Catholics forgo the worship of Our Lord in the most perfect prayer of the Church in order to send a message is not only wrong but insulting to the Truth who is Jesus Christ.
To be fair, he explains that he will be back the following week. However, he speaks to this "resignation" that Catholics feel about their Faith, a frustration that the Church will not "change."
Change - so suit whose agenda?
Change - perhaps it is we who should change.
Change - perhaps the better word would be conversion.
Now I do not argue that there are problems in the administration of the church from the Vatican down to the local parish. Put a group of human beings together and ask them to organize, administer and operate something and one will find all sorts of issues that will need to be addressed. But the Catholic Church is not just some organization run solely be some guys in Rome. It is the mystical body of Christ. She is the Bride of Christ. She is protected by the Holy Spirit in a profound and mysterious way. The consistency of her message for 2000 yeas has confounded the modern world, especially frustrating those who think that they can get her to "change" to meet their particular opinions of how things should be. And for the record, the church will not be changing her teachings on matters involving human sexuality. Her teachings are the only sanity when exploring the subject. The world's approach has brought death, disease, and heartache to men and women for the last 50 years.
So Paul, my brother in Christ, you who are perhaps too brilliant for your own good, please do not suggest that we not attend holy mass. Instead encourage us to attend mass daily and receive the graces that come from a personal encounter with the Living God. Do not speak to us of the current difficulties in the church. Heaven knows that the mainstream media never misses a chance to attack the Church for those who have failed her and her people. Speak to us of the mystery of truth, goodness and beauty that is found in this liturgical encounter with Christ. Suggest that we accept the mercy of God found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Remind us that God calls us to holiness and to serve our brothers and sisters in the ordinary dealings of our lives. Speak to the reality that as members of the one Body of Christ, we are to evangelize, to spread the Good News - that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that He conquered death and that in Him we have eternal life.
During this time of transition in the life of the leadership in the Church, encourage us to transition from our worldly ways to the those of heaven.
That means during this holy season of Lent, embracing the cross of Christ, accepting the call to prayer, fasting and alms-giving, and looking forward to the glory of the Resurrection.
Finally it means praying for the cardinals during the conclave that they be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit so that their selection of a new pope will help guide the Church as she continues to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.