Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Late Lenten Meditation on the Reality of Spiritual Warfare

A Late Lenten Meditation on the Reality of Spiritual Warfare

Every ancient prayer manual and guide to spirituality until about fifty years ago had at least one large section devoted to what was known as Pugna Spiritualis (spiritual battle or spiritual warfare). In more recent decades, many spiritual books have downplayed or completely deleted references to spiritual battle or spiritual warfare.
Sadly, many modern approaches to faith, religion, and spirituality prefer to emphasize exclusively consoling themes rooted in self-esteem, affirmation, etc. To be sure, the authentic faith can and does offer great consolation, but the truest and deepest consolation often comes after one has persevered along the sometimes-difficult path, along the “narrow way” of the cross.
But too many today, in the name of affirmation and pseudo-self-esteem are ready to excuse, and even affirm grave moral disorders, rather than fight them. Grace and mercy are preached, but without reference to the repentance that opens the door to these gifts. Both the possibility of Hell and any consequences of sin, are absent from many modern conceptions of faith and religious practice.
Some years ago, I was approached by a rather angry woman who, having heard my sermon on the seriousness of certain sins (which were in the readings of the day), expressed great indignation that I would preach on such topics. She said, “I come to church to be consoled and have my spirits lifted, not to hear old-fashioned warnings about judgment and sins.” She felt quite a “righteous indignation,” and was most certain that I had transgressed a fundamental norm, namely, that religion exists to console, and that any challenge to one’s moral stance, (except perhaps caring for the poor), is intolerant and way out of line.
Indeed, many today have this kind of attitude: that it is their birthright not to be troubled or vexed in any way by something people might say, especially a preacher who claims to represent God! The “God they worship” would never trouble them. They will have Jesus for their consoler and best friend, but not their Lord, and certainly not their judge. And never mind the literally thousands of verses from Scripture in which Jesus himself speaks sternly and warns of sin, death, judgment, and Hell. They will have none of it, and are certain that “the Jesus they know,” would never raise his voice at them or challenge them even for a moment. Never mind that the real Jesus says to take up our cross and follow him.
With spiritual battle having been removed from many people’s spiritual landscape, the idea that the Lord would summon us to battle, or ask us to choose sides, seems strangely foreign, intolerant, and uncompassionate.
Even more dangerous, these modern conceptions not only distort Jesus, but they downplay the presence and influence of Satan. This is a very, very bad idea. Even if we cease fighting against Satan, he will never ceases his sometimes very subtle attacks on us.
Jesus called consistently for prayerful, sober vigilance against the powers of evil and sin. Like it or not, we are in a battle. Either we will soberly and vigilantly undertake the battle, or we will be conquered and led off like sheep to the slaughter.
Despite what modern spiritual approaches would like to eliminate, Christianity has been a militant religion since its inception. Jesus was exposed to every kind of danger from the beginning. Herod sought his life; Satan tried to tempt him in the desert; many enemies plotted on all sides as he worked his public ministry, misrepresenting him, levying false charges, and conspiring to sentence him to death, and eventually even succeeding though only for a moment.
And as for Jesus, so also for his mystical Body the Church: Saul, Saul why do you persecute me!? (Acts 9:4) Jesus warns us that the world would hate us (Luke 21:17; John 15:20); that in this world we would have tribulation (Jn 16:33), and that we should watch and pray lest we give way to temptation (Matt 26:41). He summons us to persevere to the end if we would be saved (Mk 13:13). Jesus rather vividly described the kind of struggle with which we live when he said From the time of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force (Matthew 11:12). Indeed, no Christian until the time that Jesus returns, can consider himself on leave or dismissed from this great spiritual battle, from this great drama that we exist in, this battle between good and evil.
Popular theme or not, we do well to remember that we are in the midst of a great cosmic and spiritual battle. And in that battle, we must be willing to choose sides and fight with the Lord for the Kingdom of God. Either we will gather with him or we will scatter. We are to fight for our own soul, and the souls of those whom we love.
In the holy week that is about to unfold, we are reminded once again of the great cosmic battle that the Lord waged, and that is still being waged in our time. Though already victorious, in his mystical Body the Church, the Lord in his faithful members still suffers violence, rejection, and ridicule. It is also for us to reclaim territory from the evil one, to take back what the devil stole from us. We are to advance the glory of God’s Kingdom through the fruits of great spiritual struggle, sacrifice, prayer, fasting, preaching, and an extensive missionary campaign to which the Lord has summoned and commissioned us.
The battle is on; the struggle is engaged! To spiritual arms one and all! Fight the good fight for the Lord.
Still not convinced we are at war? Let the Lord pull back the veil just a bit and let you look at what’s really going on. The final words of this article will not be mine; they will be the Lord’s. Here is described the cosmic battle that is responsible for most of the suffering and confusion you experience:
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers who accuses them before our God day and night,has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. (Rev 12)

Catechetical programs of the USCCB in Boston, Worcester, Manchester are using a false premise

Since the USCCB assumes that being saved in invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire are exceptions to all needing to enter the Catholic Church for salvation (See Fr.Pter C.Phan Notification of the USCCB), for them,the dead-saved with the baptism of desire etc  are visible exceptions to extra ecclesiam nulla salus.So the Diocese of Worcester, Manchester and Boston  in the USA repeat this objective error; of being able to see the dead,  in its catechetical programs.
Students who have studied at schools of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who can interpret magisterial documents in agreement with extra ecclesiam nulla salus, would find at parish catechism programs, that they are being taught that the Catechism (1993)contradicts itself. They are also taught to use an irrational interpretation of Vatican Council II. So the Council is a break with the dogma on salvation and the Catechism of Pope Pius X.
In the Diocese of Worcester where the St.Benedict Centers, the communities of Fr.Leonard Feeney, have canonical status, the Catechetical courses for laypeople, take it for granted  that CCC 846 is contradicted by CCC 847 and 848. The Catechism (CCC 846) says all need to enter the Church as through  a door and the Catechism also says all do not need to enter the Church (CCC 847,) since there are (known) exceptions saved in invincible ignorance etc.
The Called to Discipleship Course is available for Catholics and is intended for
  • Catechists in parishes and Catholic schools
  • Youth Ministers
  • Lectors
  • Eucharistic Ministers
  • RCIA Team Members
  • Anyone in parish ministry
  • Parishioners interested in enrichment (1)
For all of them (above) the Catechism is interpreted irrationally and so also Vatican Council II.
All salvation referred to in Vatican Council II i.e being saved with the seeds of the Word (AG 11), invincible ignorance (LG 16), imperfect communion with the Church (UR 3), good and holy things in other religions (NA 2) can be interpreted with COLUMN A or COLUMN B
Implicit or us.
hypothetical for us.
dejure (in principle).
explicit for us.
known in reality.
visible in the flesh.
defacto (in fact).
If COLUMN B is chosen then Vatican Council II contradicts the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus, the Syllabus of Errors and Tradition.There are known exceptions. The dead-saved are visible. This is an irrational and common interpretation of Vatican Council II, it  is the one used Worcester,Manchester and Boston and is recommended by the USCCB.
If COLUMN A is chosen in the interpretation then Vatican Council II does not contradict the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and Tradition.The Catholic Church's teaching on other religions and Christians communities and churches is the same before and after Vatican Council II.This is not taught in the Call to Discipleship Courses.
So there can be two interpretations of magisterial documents one rational and the other irrational and the dioceses are choosing the irrational one.

The University of Notre Dame’s Satellite Theological Education Program (STEP) (2)has partnered with the Diocese of Manchester to create an online version of the Called to Discipleship Core Course (2)They use a false premise in the interpretation of magisterial documents.
An Example of the False Premise and the Conclusion in Boston, Worcester and Manchester.

Seeds of the Word (Ad Gentes 7, Vatican Council II)

With the False Premise:
We can see non Catholics who have received salvation in 2014 with 'seeds of the Word'.
Conclusion: Vatican Council II contradicts extra ecclesiam nulla salus.
Vatican Council II contradicts itself. AG 7 - 'all' need 'faith and baptism' for salvation contradicts AG 11- being saved with 'seeds of the Word'.
This is taught at the University of Notre Dame's STEP  and by the Paulist Fathers' evangelisation in the Diocese of Manchester.
Without the False Premise.
Being saved with seeds of the Word is a possibility.
A possibility is not a known reality in a specific case in the present times, for us. A possibility is not an exception.
Seeds of the Word is not an exception.
Since it is not visible and known in a specific case in 2014 it is not relevant or an exception to extra ecclesiam nulla salus.
Conclusion: Vatican Council II does not contradict the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.
This is not taught in USCCB approved Catholic Catechism.
Similarly in the interpretation of the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 to the Archbishop of Boston, Redemptoris Missio, Dominus Iesus etc the USCCB, Boston, Manchester and Worcester will use the False Premise and Column B in the interpretation.
-Lionel Andrades

Bishop Michael Campbell and the Lancaster diocese interprets the Catechism of the Catholic Church with an irrationality

Bishop Michael Campbell the bishop of Lancaster, England expects all in the diocese to interpret the Catechism of the Catholic Church with an irrational premise.The same is expected of Vatican Council II.
Catechists and participants in the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS) (1) have to allege that CCC 846 ( all need to enter the Church as through a door) is contradicted by CCC 847,848 ( there are known exceptions of those saved in invincible ignorance). So all do not need to enter the Church as through a door. It is Yes and No!
Similarly in Catechetical programs it is taught that Vatican Council II contradicts itself. Ad Gentes 7 says all need faith and baptism for salvation while Lumen Gentium 16 states, it is implied, that all do not need faith and baptism for salvation since there are (known) exceptions saved in invincible ignorance or with a good conscience.
The Catechism and Vatican Council II contradict them self and each other, it is taught at Catholic educational institutions, with a mandatum given by Bishop Michael Campbell.
On the Protect the Pope blog there is so much confusion on this subject. While some  are not not aware of this  issue in a discussion  others  do not want to talk about it.All these years it has been part of their irrational formation, that Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church contradicts itself and also contradict the magisterium of the past.
When they assume that CCC 847 and 848 are an exception to CCC 846 they imply that there are on earth the dead-saved, who are visible exceptions to all Tradition. If they did not use this irrationality, then Bishop Michael Campbell would be affirming the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus as being in accord with the Catechism (1993) and Vatican Council II. Without this irrational premise of being able to see the dead saved, he does not have to say that the Catechism of Pope Pius X is in perfect accord with the Catechism of the Catholic Church of Pope John Paul II.
geoSince the bishop and the diocese use this irrationality, on the diocese website it is not stated that there is exclusive salvation in the Catholic Church. There is a whole section on 'The Church', which omits this important point.
Neither is it affirmed based on Vatican Council II and the Catechism (1993)  that all non Catholics need to enter the Catholic Church to avoid the fires of Hell and that the majority of people on earth, non Catholics, are oriented there, since they do not have faith and baptism at the time of death.
No where in the Catechism (1993) or Vatican Council II is it mentioned  that we can see the dead-saved who are exceptions to Tradition and all needing 'to enter the Church as through a door'. Neither does the Catechism of the Catholic Church state in the text  that all those who are saved through Jesus and the Church (CCC 846) are known exceptions to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. So what is implied has no reference in the text.

They are possibilities for salvation but they are not exceptions to all needing to enter the Church visibly (with faith and baptism) in 2014 to avoid Hell and go to Heaven.
It is with irrationality of being able to see the dead-saved that the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 to the Archbishop of Boston is interpreted. In no document of Pope Pius XII is it stated that there are known exceptions to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. Yet this error is implied in the Diocese of Lancaster.
-Lionel Andrades
Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies