THE CHANAANITE WOMAN and the daughter vexed by an evil spirit.
1. FIGURE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
We have been painting the image of the Catholic Church; first, basing it on the dogmatic teachings of the Catechism, specifically on the writings of St. Augustine and St. Robert Bellarmine on whose writings 'Lumen Gentium' was based on. Secondly, on the writings of St. Bonaventure (the Seraphic Doctor) and St.Hildegard (12th century German mystic) among the few quoted by Pope Benedict. And thirdly, by looking at the Church's eschatological image as portrayed in Mariology that was incorporated in 'Lumen Gentium. With these sources we hope to paint a picture of the Church as close as possible to the year 2014 as all Catholic worthy of the name should do.
2. WE BEGIN WITH THE GOSPELS
On the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we meditate on the Gospel about the Canaanite woman and her daughter who was vexed by evil spirits.
There are 33 Sundays in Ordinary Time; starting after Pentecost and ending with the Feast of Christ the King. The Liturgical Year begins with Advent and ends with Christ the King. That is one whole year of instruction on the Catholic Faith. And the general Missal heading on the Sundays in Ordinary time is 'Instruction on the Faith'. It has some occasional sub- title like 'Keeping Sunday Holy on developing one's Faith.' So the 20th Sunday continues to teach us about Faith.
The Gospel on this Sunday describes the Faith of the Canaanite woman who, St. Thomas of Aquinas comments, is a figure of the Catholic Church. She prays like one inside the Catholic Church; she prays with great Faith. And Christ, Himself, said so;'Woman, you have great Faith. Your wish will come to pass.' Thus she is a figure of the Catholic Church and we should check if our Faith is as strong as hers by comparing the way we pray to the way she prays. We attend the Liturgy to worship God and find out the progress of our souls. Our ability to truly worship God depends upon the progress of our spiritual life.
The Chanaanite woman was not a Jew; she was a Gentile. So she knew nothing of Scriptures; which makes her amazing knowledge of Christ clearly a work of grace. Let us study her actions. First, she admitted she had a problem that she cannot solve. Second, note that she did not bring her daughter to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Third, he left her town in search for Divine help in the person of Christ. Fourth, she prays to Christ while outside the house. Fifthly, as Christ did not mind her while entering the house, she,too, enters the house and continues to pray for help. And sixthly, she humbles herself in adoration and in unceasing prayer. Those are the six steps of a prayer with great Faith. The important facts here are not the six steps nor the prayer but the great Faith of which the previous steps are necessary dispositions.
Let us go again, one by one, through the six steps. First, the woman knew she had a problem that was completely beyond her capabilities. It was a hopeless case. She cannot be helped by ordinary means, she needs extraordinary help. She was convinced of this. This conviction is shown in the second step; she did not call for an ordinary help, like a neighbor or a shaman precisely because she knew this problem was beyond all human help. She did not even approach the Apostles who were beside Christ. Thirdly, realizing that this problem was beyond human help she abandons the human sphere and goes to the Divine sphere for Divine help. Fourthly, so the woman leaves her town, the figure of the human level, and through an act of natural Faith rises to the Divine level where she meets Christ; but she meets Christ outside the house (the Church) where Christ does not mind her. Fifthly, then Christ enters the house, a figure of His entering the Church, and the woman, also, enters the Church still continuing to beg in prayer. Now, note the description of this sixth step. Christ and the woman entered the Church where she continues to pray. That is a perfect picture of Faith; the woman and Christ, both inside the Church with the woman praying in adoration and contemplation shown by the fact that she worshiped Christ and addressed Him as 'Lord.' Only a contemplative in adoration can truly address Christ as Lord. Christ acknowledges the state of her soul saying; 'Woman, you have great Faith....' It was a description of a Catholic within the Church who truly has the theological virtue of Faith. It was perfect Faith that shows, also, perfect Charity.
It was because of this dogma that Pope Benedict described those inside the Catholic Church as souls who are contemplatives symbolized in the Psalms as 'Sion' which means contemplative. And where he insisted that evangelizers like priests, bishops and cardinals should, also, be contemplatives.....quoting the description of the Catholic Church by St. Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor of the Church. And it is because of this same dogma why Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Patroness of the 'New Evangelization'. Because she is the Apocalyptic Woman who abandoned the world (the natural sphere) to fly and live in the desert (the supernatural sphere) the figure of the contemplative.....praying unceasingly just like the Canaanite woman in the Gospel.
4. THE INFIDELITY OF THE PRESENT AGE.
This was the title of a popular treatise written by Blessed John Cardinal Newman which described perfectly this present age....the description is completely contrary to the Gospel description of the Canaanite woman; thus heavily hinting that the present church is unlike the Canaanite woman which is a symbol of the True Church of Christ. In short, where is the Catholic Church? Let us look at the opposite picture, the present church.
First, we do not believe we are in deep trouble. We even think we are entering a spring time misquoting Pope John xxiii. What he said was that he foresees a springtime but we are in an autumn where everything in the Church is dead. Secondly, that we can solve all our problems; from drug addiction to divorce, from economics to terrorism, from celibacy to evangelization...we can even save our own souls. From Pope Francis down to the Bishop Synod, not to mention all the parish priest, all have a human solution to all the problems in the world. Thirdly, so we do not leave the worldly solutions; sticking to them resolutely though centuries had proven that these solutions do not work and only make things worse. Fourthly, there is absolutely no recourse to spiritual or Catholic solutions even in the very halls of the Vatican though half the world is already crying for help. Fifthly, Christ had already entered the house (the Church) but because of the 'decay of Faith' and the 'waxing cold of Charity' (those deadly spiritual ebolae) most priests, bishops, cardinals and even possibly the present Pope are outside the house....in that they keep on giving their own solutions rather than the solutions that Christ gives only to those inside the house. And so number six, the sign of 'great Faith' is NOWHERE. And this is precisely what John Paul II and Benedict XVI is trying to cure with their 'NEW EVANGELIZATION' and which they presented to the whole world to study for a whole year in the just concluded "Year of Faith."
5. THE DAUGHTER WHO WAS VEXED BY EVIL SPIRITS.
The young girl vexed by evil spirits is the daughter of the Chanaanite woman. The young girl is outside the Church. The Chanaanite woman is the Catholic Church; the daughter is one who thinks she is a Catholic but who truly is not a Catholic. "Lumen Gentium" quoting St. Augustine describes the woman as a member of the spiritual church while the daughter is a member of the physical church. The easier comparison is; the Chanaanite woman is the wheat, while the daughter is a cockle. Remember that the cockle was planted by the devil and later on burnt.
In the Gospel we see the house. Christ enters and inside explained all things to His apostles. The explaining is what enables souls to make an Act of Faith. Those outside the Church are under the domination of the devil.
Those within the Church are described according to their degrees of perfection, while those outside the Church are described according to their degrees of imperfections or defects.
Under the devil's dominion.
Ignorance. The first defect is man acting below the level of his human nature by not using his intellect, a power of his soul. Gilbert Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, two great thinkers, had always written with great hilariousness that the 18th Century was an age when the whole human race had completely stopped thinking. Chesterton, in fact, quipped that if only all men would sit down and think they will all become Catholics. Indeed, only people who think can become good Catholics. Because Faith is an complex act of the intellect. And yes, indeed, any philosopher can see that at that era the whole world had completely stopped thinking. Men lived and spoke by mere slogans read on billboards and advertisements, like 'just do it.' Good grief, do what? Ooops, the reason is not working. This is symptomatic of original sin, that the soul is still under the dominion of the devil. The daughter was vexed by the evil spirits in this way.....as all men who do not use their minds.
Physical possession by the devil.
When people do not use their intellect, the free will is on the loose like a wild bronco. Without the guidance of the intellect, the free will does what it wills....which was the sin of Lucifer, Adam and Eve. With that they become easily physically possessed by the devil as any virus or bacteria can easily possess the physical body......but not the souls. In the Gospels, Christ drove away devils from persons physically possessed. Exorcists can easily do this by merely teaching the possessed to make an act of repentance. And monastic tradition has it that mere living the monastic life frees possessed persons (since both repentance and monasticism are act of the intellect). Though possession is still very common today prompting the Vatican to establish a school of exorcism, exorcists had noticed that the 'new' post -Vatican II procedure for exorcism had been watered down and is not so effective. Exorcists say the devil just laughs at them. The Canaanite daughter, also, falls under this category.
Spiritual possession by the devil.
Judas was spiritually possessed. Let us see how it took place. First, Judas joined the apostles for the wrong reason. The Fathers noted that Judas saw the gifts the apostles were receiving and wanted to partake of them. Secondly, appointed as keeper of the funds he helped himself occasionally with it. He was stealing. Thirdly, because of this vice he was unable to make an act of Faith, he remained a pagan all the time. Fourthly, enslaved by the vice of avarice and devoid of the virtue of Faith Lucifer entered into him. Fifthly, being one mind and one heart with Satan he betrays Christ.
The daughter does not fall under this category. Judas is the classic example of this kind of possession. Note that the mother could pray for the daughter. Not even Christ could help Judas.
Notice that the three levels of diabolical possessions are based on the inability to use the intellect according to one's human nature. The intellect is the faculty that makes the Act of Faith. The inability to use the intellect properly makes it impossible to make the Act of Faith. And if ever there is a little or weak Faith, it easily 'DECAYS' because of avarice. If avarice had entered even the Church as early as the time of Constantine the Great how much more today. St. Ambrose of Alport, a Benedictine monk had raised the warning on how avarice had destroyed the Church during his era. And Pope Benedict repeats this warning today as he quoted Ambrose. Christ, Himself, prophesied that this age will be an age where men will be lovers of money.
Judas, one of the first bishop and apostle, is the fore-shadowing of what will happen to the Catholic priesthood during this era.
The atmosphere of the world today is perfect for spiritual possession of the devil. A slight prosperity destroyed the Church in the time of Constantine. The damage to the Church was incalculable through the centuries specially during the time of St. Francis of Assisi. All the saints fought this particular vice, avarice. Today we have reached the height of material prosperity which is the object of avarice. Pope Benedict had warned that avarice has entered the Church. It is like saying what Pope Paul VI said; that Satan had entered the Catholic Church.
Exorcists cannot exorcise spiritually possessed persons. We do not even know the visible signs or the symptoms of spiritual possession. No one has been able to diagnose this kind of possession. There is absolute no theological treatise on this diabolical possession. The only thing we know is that it is worse than physical possession and this diabolical possession is identical to what happened to Judas.
Let us, at least, learn the little we know about Judas and see who, today, is he a type of.
First, Judas look very ordinary that absolutely none of the apostles suspected what he was up to. Today, those spiritually possessed look ordinary; like ordinary president, vice president, senators, representatives, public relation officers, judges, etc... And like Judas, they would look like ordinary priests, bishops, cardinals, apostles and even a pope. They can look like nuns, brothers or even monks. Nobody would suspect they are possessed except Christ and those with the theological virtue of Faith, like John the Evangelist.
Secondly, they will look ordinary but they will have a diabolical attraction. People of different sinful tendencies would be attracted to them because they tend to tolerate if not down right encourage the sinful desires of all. Thus in an election or popularity contest they can win hands down. They will be elected without the people knowing why.
Thirdly, they have a deep secret love of self and of money though exteriorly they teach love of neighbors and poverty. St. Thomas of Aquinas warned us that every virtue has its opposite vice that imitates that virtue, like the vice of same sex attraction can be mistaken for compassion.
Fourthly, in everything they are against the teachings and commands of Christ thus they are anti-Christs...the very description of Lucifer.
Fifthly, externally they kiss Christ, like kissing a woman's feet on Good Friday who has no semblance to Christ. Christ calls that kiss a betrayal; 'why does thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?
In the previous posts we have been describing an era today that conforms to the prophecy of Christ who described it as an era characterized by a 'decay of Faith' and the 'waxing cold of Charity.' Then, we begun collecting the logical conclusions from the same sources; like the lost of power to absolve sin and to consecrate the Sacred Species during Mass. Now, let us add the message of today's Gospel; the Church, represented by the Chanaanite Woman is nowhere around (remember where she went?) and her daughter is not only vexed by evil spirits but spiritually possessed by Satan, like Judas. In such a situation since even Jesus Christ and His eleven original apostles could not do anything what do you think man can do?
Any one who tries to do anything which Christ, Himself, would not do, like driving away Satan from Judas, is trying to be like gods. Isn't that the sin of Lucifer and the temptations of Adam and Eve? We live in a world spiritually possessed by Lucifer. Since neither Christ nor the Apostles could anything, God had transferred the Church to the desert as shown by the 'Signum Magnum' of the Apocalypse. In the meantime, in the world abandoned by the Woman, Pope Francis and the Bishop's Synod are trying to do what Christ would not do....driving away Lucifer in a world spiritually possessed like Judas. That is trying to play gods....the very sin of Lucifer.