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Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Smoke of Dissent

I was watching TV tonight, a movie on Hallmark about an FBI agent working to solve a crime in an Amish community.

Something one of the characters said really struck a cord with the truth of her words.

They were discussing a member of the Amish community who was shunned because he built a barn with a rounded roof, versus the style favored by the people. He had been warned by the elders and yet he went ahead with his plan and sufferend the well-known and proscribed consequences of their faith. His salvation would come in the form of his repentence and willingness to change and conform.

When the "English", the agent investigator expressed surprise as to the punishment inflicted upon the man for his dissent, the Amish woman clarified all.

She said it was not the barn roof that caused him to be shunned...it was his pride, leading to his dissent. She explained that their customs unify them, and a deviation in custom leads to dissent and the sin of pride. Although I do not remember all that she said, I realized that what she said can honestly be applied to the Catholic Church.

We the faithful shudder when we meet dissent...in the form of radical feminism, those who believe women have a "right" to be ordained, liturgical abuses by "progressive" priests, people who claim to be faithful yet don't even know to genuflect in the direction of the tabernacle...etc. The list goes on. I have actually be attacked for being unfaithful to the magesterium for wearing a headcovering at Mass...clearly the woman in question had no idea what the personal devotion is about.

After Vatican II, people were confused and the results of the council were very poorly taught. This led to very poor and disorganized catechesis which was fed into by the "feel good" ideology of the time. We are still recovering. We have white-haired "devout" ladies praying the rosary and then turning around to discuss astrology and other new-agey ideas, having no idea that what they practice is a mortal sin. We have middle-aged mothers telling the priests at newly-forming parishes that they want the Mass to be "more fun" because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass "gets to be so long for the kids".

We have, in short, a breeding ground for dissent because the foundation has been covered over in confusion and a lack of catechesis.

We have a disunification within the different rites of the Church because people have bought into moral relativism and they have decided they get to make up new customs as they go.

In short, the customs of the Church have been undermined by pride. We the faithful, in our attempt to educate others in the true traditions and customs, and in leading others to orthodoxy, have to recognize that it is not so much about the custom as it is about the recognition of pride in dissent. We have to see that dissent is not about changing the liturgy; it is not about the failure to recognize where the tabernacle is and genuflect in the right direction, or about failure to wear a headcovering in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Dissent is all about pride, and as long as pride is allowed to flourish, we will not be unified.

ALL of us, all those who call ourselves Catholic, have to fall back on the customs of the Church, our ancient traditions, and the teachings we have always had in order to understand where we should be and what we should do. This understanding of our culture should lead to a type of freedom. Once we understand our faith and how we relate to it, once we understand how to behave, the customs become second nature and help us to become free to worship the Lord completely. We don't have to make anything up as the blueprint for salvation and for worship has already been laid down for us. All we have to do is follow along and reach out our hands and our hearts so the Holy Spirit can sweep us up to the Lord.

Our pride is what causes us to fall apart. Our pride in deciding what we will do and when and in what manner, when not in conjunction and in agreement with the rubrics, leads to dissent...which leads to disunity and fragmentation.

We are very blessed, currently, to have a Church full of those who look to the blessed Sacred Tradition and who look to the purity of our faith to determine our direction. We are blessed to have had Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict XVI to shepherd us into a clearer understanding of orthodoxy.

With more education, with a stronger foundation of tradition, understanding of our customs and culture, we the faithful will eventually help to phase out the rampant dissent and disperse the smoke of this spiritual warfare. With prayer and adherance and submission to the will of God, we the faithful will persevere.

Sure, there will always be dissent, as this is a side-effect of God-given free will. There will always be the sin of pride. But there will always be the faithful, and we will uphold, in our unity, the walls of our Church. Christ is our foundation and Peter is the Rock upon which we are all built.

And when some of us sin through pride, we can become reconciled through the sacrament of Confession, and through the suppor of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can fill our niche along with all the other saints of the royal priesthood.

Jesus promised Peter long ago, "You are Peter ** and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."

Those words were no truer then than they are today, and we, the Church, the faithful, will continue to stand strong to bear out this loving prophecy. Even the smoke of dissent is nothing but a swirl of dust in the eternity of God's divine will. So let us reach out and be willing to stand up for what we know to be true, to practice tradition and custom while we emphasize the true teachings of Christ, and let it lead us all further into a relationship with the Lord.


** Kepha, "rock" in Aramaic, the common language of the time, Petros in Greek, the written language of commerce of the time.

1 comment:

Equus nom Veritas said...

Great post! I think it was CS Lewis whom often spoke of pride as being the deadliest of the deadly sins. Pride is what makes us want to push God aside: it makes us want Him to change for us rather than having us change for Him.