Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whole Truth


I am very taken by the idea of antichrist, it appears in today's first reading.

1 Jn 2:18-21
Children, it is the last hour;
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming,
so now many antichrists have appeared.
Thus we know this is the last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;
if they had been, they would have remained with us.
Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.
But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One,
and you all have knowledge.
I write to you not because you do not know the truth
but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.


I quoted Cardinal Biffi recently, he suggests the antichrist is likely to be a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist. Dietrich Bonhoffer, the protestant theologian killed by the Nazis because of his involvement in the plot to kill Hitler, speaks about "cheap" or easy grace, I think it is the same thing, the ethical message of Christ without the Cross, or the embarassment of the person of Christ. St John identifies antichrists as those who reject part of the Truth, it is always a temptation for "good" reasons to tailor the Gospel to our audience, or our preferences. Being a Catholic and passing on the Faith in its entirety should guard against this.

Fr DiNoia -reported by CNS- highlights some of the contemporary temptations.

If the church wants to reach young people today, it must avoid the temptation to "fudge" on core Catholic beliefs in an effort to make them more agreeable to contemporary tastes, a Vatican official said.

Instead, it should confront with courage the major barriers in modern evangelization, including cultural resistance to the proclamation of Christ as the unique savior, said Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"No one in his or her right mind will be interested in a faith about which its exponents seem too embarrassed to communicate forthrightly," Father DiNoia said.

"We have to be convinced that the fullness of the truth and beauty of the message about Jesus Christ is powerfully attractive when it is communicated without apologies or compromise," he said.

Father DiNoia made the remarks in the Carl J. Peter lecture delivered Dec. 7 at Rome's Pontifical North American College. His speech took its theme from Pope Benedict XVI's talk to U.S. bishops last April, when the pope said they could best help people meet God by "clearing away some of the barriers to such an encounter."

Father DiNoia said these barriers are in part intellectual, and can be remedied by robust preaching and teaching that responds to the younger generation's openness to discussion and debate.

"In our conversations with young people, we have to avoid the temptation to fudge -- to adapt the Catholic faith so as to make it palatable to modern tastes and expectations," Father DiNoia said.

"This so-called 'accommodationist' approach generally fails, and it fails doubly with young people. There is a risk in this approach that the Christian message becomes indistinguishable from everything else on offer in the market stalls of secularized religious faith," he said.

Father DiNoia examined what he said were the three biggest obstacles to evangelizing young people today. The first, he said, is "the notion that it is arrogant to claim that Jesus Christ is the unique mediator of salvation."

He said that in confronting this barrier the church needs to first make clear that faith in Christ's uniqueness does not devalue other religions, which are worthy of respect and study as "monuments to the search for God."

But what makes Christianity different is that it is principally about "God's search for us" and God's desire to give human beings a share in divine life, he said.

"Given that salvation in the Christian sense of the term involves both reconciliation of sinners and the elevation of creaturely persons to a new kind of life, it cannot come from within this world. Saviors are a dime a dozen when one fails to grasp what's really at stake. We need to be delivered not just from error, or suffering, or desire, or injustice, or poverty," he said.

"God desires nothing less than to share his life with us," he said. Only Jesus Christ could accomplish that, he said, and Christians need to affirm that in bringing salvation for them and for others, Jesus is "not just any savior."

Father DiNoia identified a second barrier to the evangelization of young people in the mistaken and predominant belief that being a Christian means giving up one's freedom and replacing it with conformity to an external set of rules.

It is true that Christian faith requires conformity to Christ, he said. But this is not a "slavish conformity"; it presupposes the full realization of the unique human person, not his suppression, he said.

The third major barrier, Father DiNoia said, is the idea that the church's moral teachings are more or less arbitrary, allowing or forbidding certain things regardless of their real relationship with human goodness.

Young people need to know that the church rejects this "culture of legalism" in theology, and that Catholic teachings are aimed primarily at fostering virtue, not instilling obedience. Like an athlete's exercise and diet regime, which prepares him for a good performance, the church's moral teachings are designed to lead the person to goodness and happiness, he said.

19 comments:

GOR said...

I suspect that in all ages of the Church there have been antichrists – those who, under various guises, lead the faithful away from the real Christ and the fullness of Truth that is the Catholic Church. The devil ‘never sleeps’…

It is instructive to note how often clerics who have succumbed to the adulation of the people, end up in heresy. As we “fall by little and little” it can be imperceptible at first. We start with good intentions (Luther initially sought to reform abuse - and reform was needed). But if we do not have humility, pretty soon we begin to feel we “know more than the Church”. Shades of Lucifer, who thought he knew more than God…

But this is true of all of us – not just those in the public eye. Given our fallen human nature we can delude ourselves into thinking we are ‘doing good’ – when in fact we are just pleasing ourselves.

“I believe Lord, help Thou my unbelief”

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

I've been reading this...what do you do Fr Ray with your 13-18 year olds? Or anyone else please e-mail me on rosary@blueyonder.co.uk

George said...

We always assume that this 'antichrist' is an individual and this is how Hollywood play out the story in their horror-movie versions. But I wonder whether the antichrist is more akin to a 'world movement' which the devil controls through many individuals who have fallen under his many influences. Gradually but systematically this 'movement' has been pulling people away from God and working ceaselessly to erase any notion of God and the Sacred from the public sphere (I hope I'm not being heretical in any way here!). You could argue that the eugenics, contraception, abortion and pornography industry is but one horn or head of this 'beast', while political shennanigans that essentially turn 'common sense' on its head and call truth lies and enshrine 'lies' as 'truth' in legal speak form another horn etc...
This all goes on very slowly so that people do not even perceive what is happening around them - for example what passes as 'acceptable' even normal (to most people) on the television, in magazines and newspapers in 2008/9 would have been seen as positively anarchic, morally destructive, degrading and anti-social even 25-30 years ago.
The 'lone voice in the wilderness' that clearly shows the path 'to the Lord' and Eternal Salvation is indeed the Catholic and Apostolic Church founded upon Peter by Jesus Himself.
And as Fr DiNoia points out in the excellent CNS report, we must do everything possible to stand up for the WHOLE Truth of the Gospels and the Church's Teachings not just parts that we think are palatable to others or to the young and don't hurt anyone's feelings. We must never cave in to believing falsely that if we pass on a version of the faith that conforms to the 'spirit of the times' then somehow that will be more readily accepted by others - that is like giving out stones when you posses diamonds.
The fullness of the Gospels and the Church's Magisterium has been passed down to us ONLY through the efforts of the Saints who suffered hardships, prison, torture and death so that future generations would know the TRUTH. How easy it would have been to 'fudge' things in order to save their own lives, but what would we have now? What for example, would Our Blessed Lord's Passion and death on the Cross mean to us within the context of a Faith that might have been so distorted over time as to agree with abortion and euthanasia?
We would all do well to ponder those words of St John that you point out to us in your post Fr Ray - 'and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth'.
Yes indeed, those famous words recited in our Courts (still?) - 'the TRUTH, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, so help me GOD', should be our motto every time we have an encounter with anyone, young or old, seeking a meaning to what's going on in their lives, and God WILL help you!
As for the 'antichrist' whatever form it takes, 'it' has lost the war anyway, the victory sealed with the Holy Blood of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ. But that doesn't stop the devil with what time he has left 'to prowl the world seeking more souls'. Only the Truth will save us.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Catholics have tended to see heresiarchs as antichrists.

Sussex Catholic said...

Satan is often referred to in the Scriptures as "The Father of Lies" because that is precisely how he operates. He offers what appears to be attractive, sometimes even something that appears to tend towards the good, but ultimately its fruits are confusion, despair and deceit. We should never use tactics involving deception or "packaging" when it comes to presenting the Faith to the young.

I often think that those priests or bishops who speak about "talking to young people in language they understand" are in danger of falling unwittingly into Satan's trap. Young people have a very strong and ingrained sense of when someone is lying to them or in other ways not being straight with them. As a result they pick up on attempts by people to dress up a message or in other ways play a role in an attempt to charm or impress them. Their instinct is to recoil from this as quickly as they might if confronted by their own father attempting to disco dance at a party.

One of the reasons why Pope John Paul II had such huge appeal among the young is that he never once attempted to disguise himself or his message when speaking to the young and in the process never once patronised them by what is nothing other than a subtle attempt to outwit them by presuming to know their minds. He merely presented the Truth as he saw it and expected that they would be mature enough to cope with it. As a result they loved him for it and many vocations were born from encounters with him and his words.

Rather than hearing a relentless message of defeat, dilution and despair from church leaders, a bit more "Be not afraid" might just help those of us, young and old, who are trying our best to live our Faith in its fullness.

Volpius Leonius said...

The world is full of antichrists, anyone who is against Christ is an antichrist.

"Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour. " 1John 2:18

"Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father, and the Son." 1John 2:22

"And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world."1John 4:3.("That dissolveth Jesus"... Viz., either by denying his humanity, or his divinity. )

"For many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this is a seducer and an antichrist." 2John 1:7.

Elizabeth said...

Our Lady of Fatima has told us, and keeps telling us that prayer and fasting, conversion and penance, and faith in God is the only thing that will change the course of history.
The time of the great apostasy is not yet upon us, although it certainly feels that it is very close.
The antichrist, in whatever guise he appears fears Our Blessed Lady and does not want us to pray.
SO PRAY PRAY PRAY not just alone but with friends and family

Ottaviani said...

The time of the great apostasy is not yet upon us, although it certainly feels that it is very close.

Elizabeth - have you been in a cave for the last 45 years?! The church is possibly suffering one of the worst crisis in her history, since the Arian revolt.

I am pretty sure that John Paul II referred to our times as the great apostasy too. The systematic cover-up of the Third Secret of Fatima, to relegate it to a prophecy that was already fulfilled and hence no relevance to our times, doesn't help either.

Volpius Leonius said...

"The systematic cover-up of the Third Secret of Fatima, to relegate it to a prophecy that was already fulfilled and hence no relevance to our times, doesn't help either."

That's why Our Lady came again at Akita in 1973.

alban said...

Ottaviani: goodness, are you saying that the Protestant Reformation was less of a crisis than Arianism? I most certainly hope not.

The Church has clearly stated that the Fatima prophecy has been fulfilled, and all faithful Catholics will accept that decision regardless of personal inclination.

People should ignore the numerous Fatima websites and publications which claim the pope was duped (which is insulting to the late John Paul II) or that the prophecy has not been fulfilled. We either accept what the Church says or we do not.

The idea that there is an actual person who is the Anti-Christ is one which is strong within fundamentalist Protestantism and finds expression in Hollywood films and 'End of Time' novels; sadly, this view has been embraced by some Catholics, but it is not Catholic teaching.

Fr Burke points out that Catholicism has always seen heresiachs as anti-Christs because of the damage they do and Volpius Leonis states that anyone who is against Christ is an anti-Christ. Thus, anything which promotes the Culture of Death (abortion, capital punishment, emotional/physical/sexual abuse, grinding poverty, rampant materialism, pornography, self righteousness et al) is anti-Christ.

The official announcement regarding the Fatima secret (published at the wish of JPII) may be found at following Vatican link. Catholics should read and submit to its conclusion.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html

gemoftheocean said...

I know him as Barack Obama, aka the Mombassa boy wunderkin. I hear he has it in for babies and those least able to defend themselves. [In large measure due to Catholic more concerned with their wallets than life itself.]

gemoftheocean said...

Alban....care to show me where the Church has absolutely and categorically stated Capital Punishment may never be used?

Didn't think so....

Elizabeth said...

Ottaviani, I found this article very interesting.

The Great Apostasy?

A Summary by Desmond Birch, Author of "Trial Tribulation and Triumph"

-----------------------------------
A long list of Canonized Saints, Blessed, and Venerable have stated that the period of turmoil we are living through with be followed by an Age of Peace - and that that 'Peace' will precede the rise of the Antichrist.

Those Church approved Catholic Prophets are very very specific about the chain of events which will precede the rise of the Antichrist. They all say that the Age of Peace comes before the Antichrist.

The Church has always taught that until the entire world is evangelized - and a following worldwide apostasy takes place - the antichrist cannot come. Read St. Paul. He had to write to one of the early Churches telling them about these things - because they were going off the rails thinking that Antichrist had already arrived. Read St. Paul. The more it changes, the more it stays the same. We have been given signs as to what must precede the Antichrist. And they have not yet been fulfilled.

l also sense (as put it so well) a 'new grace afoot'.

In my experience, those who do not sense the 'new grace' are immersing themselves only in bad news - and will even on occasion violently resist and reject any good news. When that happens it usually emanates from a kind of spiritual 'death wish'.

Those who fully accept the Christian Virtue of "Hope" (on an equal footing with those of "Faith" and "Charity" do not suffer from that particular problem.

St. Faustina tells us that Our Lord told us to concentrate on His Divine Mercy at this time in salvation history.

That is good direction and advice.

The Antichrist cannot already be here for the following reasons:

All the Fathers and Doctors of the Church who have written on the Antichrist state the following:

The Gospel will first have to have been preached to all nations/peoples in world. That hasn't happened yet.


If you will read the Holy Father's Encyclical 'Redemptoris Missio' - he specifically states that the Evangelical work of the Church is "far from over" and "only just beginning".


John Paul II states in 'Ecclesia in Asia' - that it is ironic that on the very continent in which Christ began his mission - that Continent has not yet been evangelized except in scattered parts of that Continent - and Asia holds 2.3 of the worlds people.


The Holy Father further states in 'Ecclesia in Asia' that he "sees" Asia finally being evangelized in the Third Millennium.


The Holy Father and the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples have also both stated that "East Africa" has virtually never been evangelized at all. The reason for that is that the Moslems got there before Christianity - and have martyred Christian Missionaries ever since - almost as fast as they arrive there.


The worldwide 'Apostacy' which St. Paul speaks of has not happened yet. Apostacy and heresy are not the same thing. Apostacy is a total renunciation of their Christina Faith by a baptized Christian. Far from the happening, in large parts of the world the Church is growing faster than ever before in history. Africa is a case in point, and so is Asia.
These are just a couple of things which we know from Scripture and Tradition must precede that arrival of the Antichrist. No - the Antichrist is not here - and he won't be coming till after the entire world has been evangelized - and then after that - the apostacy occurs.

According to literally dozens of Canonized Saints, Blessed and Venerable (who are prophets who enjoy Church-approval - the era we are living through now is going to come to an abrupt end (attempts at World Govt., etc.) and the Age of Peace will ensue. After that Age of Peace - they all state that then and only then does the Antichrist make his appearance.

Now - that is looking at things from the perspective of 'private prophecy' from many dozens of Saints, Blessed, and Venerable and other Church-approved prophets.

From the perspective of Public Revelation - we are told and the Church teaches that first the Gospel must be preached to all the nations/peoples. The Holy Father and Church History teach us this has not yet occurred - not even close.

After the World has been totally evangelized - which the Holy Father has repeatedly stated will occur sometime in the Third Millennium - then we have to go through the Apostacy - which St. Paul teaches us the faithful must precede the coming of the Antichrist.

As to your last question - I deal with the attraction of believing the Antichrist is coming at any time at length in 'Trial, Tribulation & Triumph' (TTT). If you have not read it - you will find a full discussion of this subject in there. Every single century has had false deluded 'alleged' prophets claiming they were told the Antichrist is either already here - or is about to come.

In every century, there have been people wildly enamored of listening to their false prophecy - for reasons I discuss in depth in TTT.

BTW, I discussed in TTT the fact that there were current prophets claiming the Antichrist would make his actual appearance by the year 2000 - or by the year 1998. I was the only author to write a major book on the subject who came right out and said that could not possibly be so. I put my reputation on the line by stating that.

How did I know??? Because the signs given in Scripture and Tradition and found in the writing of the Fathers of the Church from the Apostolic Tradition clearly delineate certain events which must precede that Antichrist. I knew all those thing could not happen in the five years between 1995 (when I was writing that part of TTT) and the year 2000. It was a no-brainer.

http://jloughnan.tripod.com/chip.htm

Ottaviani said...

Alban

What the Holy See declared in 2000 on Fatima is in no way endowed with a note of infallibility. Secondly, the Holy See attributed the vision of a "bishop dressed in white" being shot in front of the Vatican, to the 1981 assassination of JP II. The fact of the matter is, that this does not correspond to reality as the third secret sates that the bishop is killed, whereas JP II was not.

Further more: one can doubt whether the consecration of Russia has indeed taken place (as Mother Angelica of EWTN has done along with other notable Catholic personalities) considering that:

1. Russia has not returned to the faith of Rome.

2. Russia still persecutes Catholics to this day and makes it difficult to build any such churches for the public worship.

3. Russia has the highest abortion rate in the world - aborting the population of Ireland every year.

4. Pornography along with homosexuality have become even more rife and recognizable in Russia, in comparison to other countries.

5. Communism is still not dead and continues to persecute the church of God in those parts of the world, where it still exists. One can take a look at the underground church in China and see what is happening...

I would also like to kindly point out that you contradict yourself when you say that anyone who promotes capital punishment is "antichrist" - that would sure make a lot of Popes and the whole Council of Trent, not to mention Scripture, "antichrist".

Volpius - it is interesting that you mention Akita. Howard Dee, former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican, said in a 1998 interview with Inside the Vatican magazine that "Bishop Ito [the local bishop of Akita, now deceased] was certain Akita was an extension of Fatima, and Cardinal Ratzinger personally confirmed to me that these two messages, of Fatima and Akita, are essentially the same."

In effect what was not revealed of the Third Secret, can be found in the messages of Akita.

Dicky said...

Do we have to believe all this Fatima stuff?
No we don't!

PeterHWright said...

I think I would distinguish between apostasy, which is the wholesale abandonment of one's religion, and heresy, which is the denial of, or corruption of, certain doctrines.

By this definition, the Arian crisis of the fourth century was far more serious than the Protestant revolt of the sixteenth century.

lizard said...

"But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting." Father, didn't you think about a perhaps monthly or bimonthly service with "Exorcismus in satanam et angelos apostaticos". Though, I suspect it may attract a rather morbid interest from all kinds of weird persons and you will apparently need a consent from the ordinary. Maybe private?

Volpius Leonius said...

"I think I would distinguish between apostasy, which is the wholesale abandonment of one's religion, and heresy, which is the denial of, or corruption of, certain doctrines."

Its rather academic, both have the same result, eternal damnation.

Anonymous said...

When I was 15 in 1969, I went to the very first "guitar mass" in our parish. Do you know what song they had us sing as the Introit hymn (as they called it then)? "Sympathy For The Devil"! The hip young priest wanted to "relate" to us. At that moment, he forever and after turned me into a card carrying traditional Catholic.

Do you think we'll really recognize the anti-christ? We've been so desensitized and conditioned to evil and sin. My personal opinion is that most people (including most Catholics) will go right along with him. Remember, Our Lord asked "And the Son of Man when He returns, do you think He'll find any faith." Doesn't sound promising, does it?
"Let he who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

Marian