“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
G.K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World
This simple passage is the heart of argument in today’s Church. In essence it is the answer to Spiritual Warfare. We are in a constant battle while on Earth. We may not know it or realize it but that doesn’t make it any less true. Just like saying, “I do not believe in gravity.” Not believing in gravity will not stop its effect on you on this earth.
Five Spiritual Factors You Need To Address Here On Earth Right Here and Right Now.
First, should I as a Catholic have the ability to pick and choose what I believe in or not? This theory is called the Primacy of Conscience. The Primacy of Conscience is a blanket term for an overarching concept which basically states that a man’s conscience is the ultimate and final authority on what is to be considered morally permissible, and it is the obligation of the individual to follow their conscience even if it contradicts or acts against Church teaching. Simply put, if you leave everyone to their primacy of conscience you would have no universal truths. Everything would be relative or conditional.
Second, God created a plan for us. If we believe in His Son and do His will join him in the hereafter. We are here on earth to do a test. If we turn in the SAT or ACT test and instead of bubbling in answers, we colored patterns on the answer document. What score would you get? What score should you get? Would you get a perfect 1600 on the SAT or a 36 on the ACT Test. I say not. Then why would expect God to do anything less. We are not here to pick and choose. We can do so, but if we do, we will suffer the consequences of this choice.
The American hierarchy issued a pastoral letter entitled “Human Life in Our Day,” (November 15, 1968). Here is a pertinent excerpt:
“There exists in the Church a lawful freedom of inquiry, of thought, and general norms of licit dissent… In the final analysis, no person is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his/her conscience, as the moral tradition of the Church attests.”
If we begin to develop our own beliefs outside of the Church and then start picking and choosing what we believe or do not believe in the Church teachings, are we still Catholics? This maybe a valid question and something that everyone should ponder for themselves.
Matthew 23: 27-28
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Brothers and sisters, there is not escaping this- you simply can not serve two masters and you can not say one thing and do something else forever.
Third, I go to Church each week isn’t that enough? Well, no it is not. Look at the words of Chesterton. Jesus Christ established His Church on earth. Church is not just a building. If it were just a building Christianity would have crumbled many years ago. The Colosseum in Rome is beautiful today, but it is just a mere shadow of its greatness. Buildings will die, ideas can live on and on, and on now and forever.
In an essay written in 1931, entitled, “ A Plea for Intolerance”, Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote ninety years ago, “ America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance - it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ, and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”
Clearly Bishop Sheen saw into the future and did not like what he saw. The truth is universal- it is not relative. Going to Church will not save us from wrong actions we may take. It will not save us from ourselves and our actions.
Paul wrote the Ephesians about this very same type of things in
Ephesians Chapter 6:
6 not only when being watched, as currying favor, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 willingly serving the Lord and not human beings
Fourth, if we all did what we pleased to do, what would happen in this world? What would be true? Could we not say everyone was right? If this was the case and you decided while living in the United States that you wanted to drive on the left side of the road instead of the right, what would happen to you on any busy crowded Interstate Highway to you and your car? This is a recipe for a disaster waiting to happen. You do not have to experience to know that no good would come out of this experience.
James 1: 22
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
We are not the show here on earth. We are temporarily here and do not get too comfortable about these arrangements. They really are very temporary and we can not take them with us. When we fool ourselves into believing that we are in control here on earth, have we not forgotten about the person who really is in charge here- our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Fifth, what it the purpose of the Church here on earth and what is my purpose here on earth?
What should the Church do?
It would be better to look at the first church, who was born on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended. Here’s what the Bible tells us how the first church was organized and lived:
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
In this text we highlight the following truths about the Church:
- The church was made up of those who received Paul’s preaching, i.e. those who have repented and entered the New Covenant with Jesus Christ
- All church members devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching which was still in oral form at that time, but now we have the New Testament writings.
- All members of the Church devoted themselves to fellowship and this is seen from how they took care of each other, so that no one lacked anything.
- All members of the Church devoted themselves to the breaking of bread, this was left by the Lord Jesus as a sign of remembrance and judgment for those who have entered the New Covenant with Him.
- All members of the church devoted themselves to prayer.
- The early Christians did not have a place of worship, as most local churches have today, they would gather in the courtyard of the Temple.So, the emphasis was not on the place, but on the people who gathered there and on the teaching they received.
- The Church was in a continuous growth because the Church was sharing the Gospel and was doing mission work- they were not afraid to offend someone, they went out and converted them.
The Apostle Peter wrote his first Epistle to those who become Christians recently and said:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
(1 Peter 2:9-10)(NASB)
We are Catholic because of our universal beliefs. We believe in the Sacraments and Holy Bible. You can not truly be impressed by the fact the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church canonized the Holy Bible we used today. The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was the Church of Great Conferences, and the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was created by Christ here on earth and has never left since.
We are Catholics- one faith in God. We are individuals but we have one belief in God. In conclusion, I explained about the Five Points of Spiritual Warfare that many in today’s society are going through. I explained that we must hold true to our beliefs and stay the course. We must not, should not, and will not deviate from what is true because of the results of doing so appear in the following verses:
1 Maccabees 41-50
41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,
42 and abandon their particular customs. All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king,
43 and many Israelites delighted in his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.
44 The king sent letters by messenger to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah, ordering them to follow customs foreign to their land;
45 to prohibit burnt offerings, sacrifices, and libations in the sanctuary, to profane the sabbaths and feast days,
46 to desecrate the sanctuary and the sacred ministers,
47 to build pagan altars and temples and shrines, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals,
48 to leave their sons uncircumcised, and to defile themselves with every kind of impurity and abomination;
49 so that they might forget the law and change all its ordinances.
50 Whoever refused to act according to the command of the king was to be put to death
The Jews who revolted against the Greeks, stood up to their leaders, stood up for what was right. What would have happened if they did not do this? What would have happened if they had Primacy of Conscience and decided it was too hard or too inconvenient to do this? Do you realize we would not be here as a Church today. Our faith is strong when we stick together, follow the Church Teachings and the Universal Truth. In the immortal words of GK Chesterton, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Amen