'THE DECAY OF FAITH' - and the lost of power to absolve.
1. THE PROPHECIES OF CHRIST
Christ had described our modern times as experiencing the 'decay of Faith' and 'the waxing cold of Charity.' This is like saying 'no Faith' and 'no Charity.' These two theological virtues go hand in hand. Without Charity there can be Faith; but this Faith is dead. On the other hand without Faith, there will be no Charity.
Christmas and Good Friday are pre-figures of these our days, the year 2000 A.D. These was God's way of preparing us for what is coming. When Christ came during the His first Advent there was no Faith among the Chosen people, and consequently no Charity, too. All the priests were with Herod, helping him to plan the killing of the child. How many had Faith? A few shepherds and a few Magi together with Joseph and May. That was just a handful. And that will be the state of the Church and the world today.
When Christ died on Good Friday all the priests and even the chief priest were with Herod, and Pontius Pilate plotting the destruction of Christ. How many had Faith? A few women, a few apostles and probably one or two priests. The rest of the Chosen People, purportedly an image of the Church were faithless; including one apostle, Judas. This, again, will be the state of the Church and the world today.
Well, Christ said, exactly the same thing will happen during these times. All the priests, bishops and cardinals will be Faithless. And one bad bishop-cardinal, successor of the apostles, will betray Christ by being an anti-pope, as pre-figured by Judas.
Where are the few Faithful? Very few indeed. And Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict showed how they look like and where they are in the 'new evengelization.'
2. WHY WILL THIS HAPPEN?
Through His fore-knowledge Christ prophesied it would happen. But we cannot know the mind of Christ so let us use His teachings to explain what happened.
The seminarians, priests, bishops, cardinals and the world must be evangelized; just as Christ evangelized the apostles and then commanded them to evangelize the rest of the world. The seminarians first, like the apostles, and then the rest of the world. That is the proper procedure.
The apostles were perfectly evangelized as we can see during the 33 Sundays in ordinary time; specifically in the 21th Sunday and on-wards where we can see their progress towards perfection in the three theological virtues and in the three stages of the spiritual life. We can further see them acquiring the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit which is the perfection of evangelization. We can in fact pin point in their lives the entire progress of their spiritual lives while tending towards perfection in the entire Liturgy of the Mass.
The apostles were to lead and teach us. Christ personally saw to it that they were taught and trained perfectly. The apostles entrusted this knowledge to their successors the Fathers of the Church. And the office of the Papacy had been decreed by Christ as the office that should maintain the perfection of Christ's teaching and hand it down to the Church as perfect as possible.
Have the seminarians, priests, bishops, cardinals and present Pope checked if their teachings are perfectly in conformity to the teachings of Christ? In an 'instrumentum laboris' following the Encyclical 'Veritatis Splendor ' by John Paul II, ominously addressed only to Bishops (which is unique for an encyclical) John Paul sent a questionaire to the bishops to be answered by their diocesan priests. The priests should answer the questions and the answers should have been returned to the Vatican. Most of the bishops did not question their parish priests. The questions were supposed to find out if their priests had Faith or not. The fact that the bishops did not follow the instruction showed they did not see the importance of the questionaire; thus a sign that the bishops, themselves did not have Faith. What?? Bishops and priest do not have Faith? And consequently everybody else?
What is happening? Let us go back to the training of the apostles.... and compare how our priests are being trained from the 18th century up to the present.
3. EVANGELIZATION defined.
Let us look at the instruction Christ gave His apostles on how to evangelize as found in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Christ gave ONE instruction with THREE steps .....and gave the right order of execution. He said; FIRST...make disciples of all nations. SECONDLY...baptize them. THIRDLY...teach them all that 'I' have commanded you.
A few points before we go any further. Note that we have to make them first disciples before we baptize them. Note that without they being disciples first, their baptism is ineffective. Lastly, that they cannot know the commands of Christ (referring to the 'I' in the last step) unless they have done the first two steps. Having seen the words of Christ, let us, now, go to its interpretation from the Fathers.
The SECOND STEP is the bridge between the FIRST step, which is where you are coming from...to the THIRD step, where you are going to. Let us set aside for a brief moment the SECOND step and make a comparison between the FIRST AND THIRD steps.
In the FIRST step we make them disciples. Of whom? Of God, because that is all we know about Him....that He is God!! To make them disciples is to teach them all the commands of God (the Father) as written in the Old Testament. In the THIRD step we must know all the commands of God the Son, Jesus Christ, as written in the New Testament. Note the difference. The commands of God the Father in the O.T. are in the natural level. All men can know them and all men can teach them. The commands of God the Son in the N.T. are in the supernatural level. No man knows them and no man can teach them. Only the Father in heaven can teach the commands of Christ...as Christ, Himself told the apostles in reaction to St. Peters answer to His question 'Who do people say I am."
At this point we can see that our priest had studied only from men (teachers of theology). And not even the entire O.T. So they have not even finished the FIRST step.
NOW, let us see how the apostles were evangelized. Here we can see that they followed the formula which Christ gave them in the so called Apostolic Commission, read as the Gospel of Ascension.
The apostles underwent the FIRST step; they learned the commands of God as written in the O. T. through the preaching of St. John the Baptist who taught repentance. In effect, they were disciples of the God of the O.T. through the preachings of John the Baptist. The apostles underwent the SECOND STEP when they answered Christ's call to leave all things which is equivalent to Baptism of Desire (thus they never received the Baptism of water.) The apostles underwent the THIRD step when they directly learned from Christ and not from men the commands of Christ; and they obeyed them, too. They reached perfection in their knowledge and obedience to all the commands of Christ before Pentecost.
5. NOW, let us see the defect in the training of all priests that left us with priest with no Faith.
FIRST step? Absolutely not a single priest ever studied all the commands of God as written in the Old Testament; thus no priest ever became a disciple of God as required before their baptism. For the simple reason that all were baptized as babies and could not possibly study the O.T. This has been happening as early as the time of St. Irenaeus (circa 180 AD). Before that, adult Christians enrolled to live a semi-monastic life of repentance before baptism thus fulfilling the FIRST STEP. Not anymore.
This serious defect is continued and even made worse during the Bishop's Synod of 2012 called precisely by Pope Benedict to correct this defect.....due to an error by Bishop Eterovic in his 'Lineamenta' dated 2011, where the FIRST step was omitted for discussion.
Without the FIRST step, the SECOND step which is baptism, as St. Thomas of Aquinas wrote, is spiritually ineffective; i.e. will have a very brief beneficial effect. This benefit is gone with the lost of innocence. Without fulfilling the First and Second steps all the seminarians who would eventually become priests and bishops....and probably pope, would not reach the THIRD step, where the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity are received from God. There you have it......a whole generation of priests without Faith as prophesied by Christ.
Again, what happened? Since none of the priest fulfilled the FIRST step, they could not fulfill the SECOND and THIRD steps; thus not obtaining the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. How can they evangelize others; how can they lead others into the Church; how can they lead souls to salvation? They do not know the way.
6. So what now? So the 'new evangelization' of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI!
As a priest, Joseph Ratzinger underwent the same defective evangelization. He was baptized as a baby and was not able to become a disciple before his baptism. As he grew older, he became a seminarian and ordained priest, still without undergoing any of the three proper steps of evangelization. Thus he showed the absence of Faith by exhibiting the heresy of modernism. But as a professor in Tubingen he was shocked by a reality; when the seminarians of Tubingen went on a strike praising Karl Marx and behaving like atheist. Well, what did you expect; those seminarians did not undergo the proper steps of evangelization.
The shock Ratzinger got was, what Blessed John Cardinal Newman described as the necessary first step towards repentance, the FIRST step, which is taught in the Liturgy during Advent (remember Liturgy was his speciality also). Having missed the FIRST, and as a consequence, the SECOND and the THIRD step, he knew he had to repeat the same three steps. For those who missed the three steps and had to repeat the same three steps of evengelization, the alternative for the same three steps is found in the Liturgy. The Liturgy is precisely for such kind of people.
Ratzinger saw that the FIRST step, which is repentance, is taught in its N. T. version during the season of Lent. Advent is repentance of the O.T., Lent is repentance in the N.T. Fortunately the correct interpretation for repentance in the N.T. was described by St. Augustine (who was one of his favorite.) He learned that the shock he got in Tubingen because the seminarians did not believe in God was the initial stage of repentance of the N.T. This was described by Blessed John Newman in 'Callista.'
Ratzinger's environ was conducive for personal, private evangelization in that he was a professor in theology and a seeker of the truth. His personal, private study gradually moved him to the SECOND step, Baptism. But he was already baptized and this sacrament cannot be repeated. Unconsciously, just like the apostles, he underwent baptism of desire.which is the alternative for sacramental baptism. This baptism of desire according to St. John Chrysostom is shown visibly in the desire for monastic life which in asceticism is referred to as Second Baptism. He expressed this in his love for the Benedictine Way of Life.
THIRD step; proofs Ratzinger reached this step are his numerous books, articles, talks, audiences, comments, etc., showed his knowledge was the kind only God the Father could teach. It was for this, precisely, that he suffered most....that his own bishops and cardinals could not understand him. Why? Because we had a case of a Pope with Faith speaking to Cardinals and bishops without Faith. That is like the parallel railroad track; it will never meet anywhere.
Pope Benedict, in his 'new evangelization' written initially with John Paul II, is teaching us evangelization as taught in the Liturgy of the Mass, the way it was taught for the last 2000 years ......too old that absolutely no one knows how it is done ...unless one is truly seeking the truth and assiduously studying the truth based on Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church.
Seeing the the state of the Church as he had described in his 'Ratzinger Report', sub-titled 'The Crisis of Faith'; and seeing how he, himself, was saved from such a spiritual disaster, he employed his whole papacy to evangelizing the Catholic Church according to the Liturgy. He repeated essentially the same formula of evangelization given by Christ in St. Matthews Gospel but using the four steps of the Liturgy of the Mass; namely, conversion, entrance into the Kingdom, encounter with Christ and Union with the Holy Spirit.
Though John Paul and Benedict clearly proclaimed the 'new evangelization' according to the Liturgy, the Bishop's Synod of 2012 and Pope Francis who based his theology on the that Synod continues with the previous defective theology that had caused the 'crisis of Faith' described by Ratzinger in his 'Report.' It will be worse this coming Synod without any hope of getting back on track.
7. The 23th Sunday in Ordinary time treats of fraternal correction which is the highest form of Charity. Only those with perfect Faith and perfect Charity can correct fraternally because knowledge of both the commands of God in the Old Testament(FIRST step) and the commands of Jesus Christ in the New Testament(THIRD step) are necessary for fraternal correction. Without this knowledge correction will be done based on personal and private feelings. Very protestant!
Today, most priest, bishop and cardinals and even the pope.....instead of giving fraternal corrections are encouraging the world to sin more. Atheist, who do not believe in God, are encouraged to continue in their unbelief and expect salvation; contrary to the words of Christ who said 'those who do not believe are already condemned' even while still alive. Those who have committed the sin of adultery, which St. Paul writes is deserving of hell, are encouraged to add the sin of sacrilege to their sin of adultery by receiving holy communion. And instead of fixing the world that is so messed up, the youth are encouraged to go out and mess it up more. What they say and do are infallibly visible signs of NO FAITH, as cleanly taught during the 33 Sundays in Ordinary time.
God does not give the power to forgive sins to those who have not reached the heights of Charity. Today's Gospel explicitly says that God gives the power to forgive sins to those who have reached the heights of Charity shown in their ability to give fraternal correction. Why? Because without the FIRST and THIRD steps, there will be no Faith and no Charity. Without either they are not priests, bishops, cardinal...not even a pope......because as St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ, Doctor of the Church, states; they are not even Catholics.
What should we do? Pope Benedict, by the grace of God and his zeal for the truth, was enlightened to see the state of his soul in relation to God. He, himself, put into practice what he learned and saw it worked in exactly the way his Saviour said it would work. And as St. Augustine, his favorite saint wrote; when you reach the end of the road, and only when you reach the end, you can look back and say, 'it was indeed the right road to God.'