Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mustard-seed Church

I'd like to begin with a quote from an article on Pope Benedict XVI by Michael Rose, published in the New Oxford Review (July-August 2005): Cardinal Ratzinger, some years ago, "shocked the Catholic world by suggesting that we may need to disregard the notion of a "popular church" that will be loved by everyone. Rather, his governing metaphor for the short-term destiny of Catholicism is the mustard seed (Mt. 13:31-32), suggesting a much smaller presence but with a faith whose dimensions could move mountains. He envisions a "creative" minority capable of restoring religious vitality to Europe and beyond. Pope Benedict's objective is to sanctify souls through faith and grace. He believes that can be accomplished only by the reawakening of Christian identity..."

That quote has a clear ring of truth, and I think it is something that we ought to consider carefully. So much time and energy and ink and cyberspace has gone towards trying to make the Catholic Church an institution that is open and welcoming to all current fads and even spiritual and moral aberrations, in the name of a vague and vacuous "love" and "compassion" -- or worse, in the name of merely adapting to the times, that is, to this "evil and adulterous generation" (Mt. 16:4). If you open the doors and do not have the necessary screens, you let in the flies and blood-sucking mosquitoes. The Church simply cannot (and must not) meet this world's criteria for an all-inclusive, "tolerant," politically correct, dogma-less organization.

Can you imagine the Church receiving rebellious and unrepentant sinners into her good graces, the communion of the Holy Mysteries, without setting any standards, without requiring a change of heart and belief? All organizations reserve the right to set requirements for membership.

"I don't believe in the Resurrection." "Come right in!"
"I don't believe in the Eucharist." "No problem! Come one, come all!"
"The Pope cannot tell me what to do." "Bless you!"
"I'm an active homosexual." "Step right up for Holy Communion!"
"I support abortion, and I even had two myself." "You come to Holy Communion, too!"

Forget it. The true Church can only be that which is faithful to the Gospel of Christ, the tradition of the fathers and councils, and the witness of the martyrs. If that Church is but the size of a mustard seed today, so be it. Better the truth in a mustard seed than a mountain of falsehood and apostasy. The faith of that mustard-seed Church will eventually move that mountain off the face of the earth.

Let us pray with Pope Benedict for the reawakening of true Christian identity, for the sanctification of souls through faith and grace. Be willing to be a mustard seed in the face of the world's disdain and contempt. The Church will grow in holiness in direct relation to her members' uncompromising fidelity. This is the Church against which hell cannot prevail. As for The Church of What's Happening Now, hell has already prevailed.