Saturday, March 29, 2008

ST. JOSEPH, Protector of the Church.

Whenever the Church has a problem, She only has to look at how God solved Her problems in the past and then solve it in exactly the same way. After all it was God who established Her.

When Joseph, Mary and Jesus were Her only members, She had a problem: Herod was after the Child. And who was instructed to do something about it? St. Joseph. An angel told him to take the Mother and Child and escape to Egypt. The Holy Family, the Church, fled to Egypt. When it was safe for the Child and Its Mother to return, whom did the angel instruct? St. Joseph. The Church returned but since it was not safe to return to Judea because of Archelaus, Joseph was instructed to return to Nazareth instead. There St. Joseph continued as protector of the early Church in Jesus and Mary.

Pope Pius IX had problems during his Pontificate. The Catholic laymen were up in arms against the Papacy. Austrian and Italian Bishops and Cardinals were both trying to influence the Pope. They were taking sides in the ongoing political struggle. The Pope was caught in between. He sees the Church being hurt in the contentions and he sees the Church needing help. He made a wise move as Popes always do. He called on St. Joseph to protect the Church, eventually declaring him as Patron and Protector of the Church. As if moved by grace he summoned Vatican I. Ecumenical councils do not really cure the defects of the Church; it merely makes the heretics and schismatics stand out so to be easily identified and corrected. It segregates those who are outside the Church.

Whether Pope Pius IX singled out the traitors within the Church wasn't clear. Antonio Rosmini seemed to have pointed out a few to him. But then, the men of the Church pounced on him in order to silence him. But St. Joseph was protecting the Church as he still does. Rosmini continued to write. And his writings fell into the hands of Pope John XXIII. Moved by efficient grace, he in turn summoned Vatican II. Pope Paul VI began to pinpoint the enemies from within. He died knowing that, though he tried to cleanse the men within the Church, he wasn't able to complete his task. He worried for the next pope.

Pope John Paul II's main concern was gathering and leading other sheep into the fold and encouraging those within. (The job of checking the ones within the fold if they were sheep or goats fell onto the lap of Pope Benedict XVI.) From the very beginning of Vatican II, the colors began to show: those who were for Christ and those who were against Christ. And this has been continuing up to the present. And apparently, a polarization was taking place, or shall we say, a great apostasy was on the rise? The sheep were standing on one side; the goats on the other.

St. Joseph did not convert Herod just as Christ did not cure Judas. Ecumenical Councils do not cure deviates. It can only make them stand out for what they are. That is how St. Joseph protected the early Church in (the person of) the Holy Family. The danger was pointed out to him and he merely shielded or protected the Holy Family from its enemies.

Sheep, like Christ, show the singular quality of obedience, "He was obedient unto death". Joseph, who was obedient to the Mosaic law, first wanted to divorce Mary; but he obeyed the angel and instead took her as his wife. Mary was obedient with her "fiat." Though she wanted to remain a virgin, she consented to be the wife of Joseph in obedience to the angel. Obedience is a sign of the presence of the theological virtues of Faith and Charity in the true follower of Christ.

On the other hand, disobedience is the sign of satan. Lucifer and Adam and Eve were disobedient. Disobedience to the declarations of the Holy Father is rampant. Some have even considered it as a new right akin to the right of choice.

Christ did not solve the problem of Judas. Neither did Joseph the problem of Herod. Neither will Pope Benedict who knows that the enemies of the Church are within her, even in the Curia, as Judas was in the Apostolic college. Like Christ, Pope Benedict would simply say: what you intend to do, do quickly, if you are thinking of disobeying, do so now so that the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, may know where you stand and correct you charitably. Fraternal correction is a duty of the Church. These evils are part of God's providence because He can get a greater good out of it. Thus Christ's action must be ours. God has allowed the evils in the Church for a greater good that is not evident to us right now. So let it be, that the greater good may be accomplished.

This is the way St. Joseph protects the Church. And we see his hands even now. (Isn't the Pope's name Joseph?)(Painting is "Mary wedded to Joseph" by Michael Pacher, Vienna, 1495)

Thursday, March 06, 2008


The late Pope John Paul II, being a pastoral pope, made Evangelization the core of his pontificate. And understandably so because that is the primary role of a Pope and of the Church according to the words of Christ in His Apostolic Commission: first, to teach all His commandments and how to observe them; and secondly, to administer the Sacraments. 'Evangelization', 'Conversion', 'Reform' and 'Renewal' all mean the same thing, bestowing truth and grace, as the Gospel of John states.

Pope Benedict, even before his election to the papacy, wrote many articles on evangelization. As Pope, his addresses to bishops in their "ad limina" visits are almost all on evangelization. His talks in Brazil and to his own Curia were on evangelization.

The entire world has heard of the Christian truths from both Catholics and other christian sects and, in general, through mass media. The New Testament and religious books are available to everyone for the asking. Why the need for evangelization? There is a difference between informing and evangelizing. Information can be given by anyone. But true Evangelization can only be done by the Church.

The need for continuous Evangelization is based on Ecclesiology's observation that the Faith can disappear in a locality within three generations. This observation is based on the story of St. Francis de Sales, a doctor of the Church, who arrived at Chablais, a locality that was Catholic three generations ago but at his time only 27 remained Catholic out of 72,000 former Catholics.

The proposition that the Catholic Faith could disappear in a locality within three generation is expected even more so today. Before, persecution and fines caused the loss of Catholics from the Church. Today materialism, skepticism and hedonism are more potent factors in making Catholics lose their faith. A father is helpless in keeping his children Catholic because of school atmosphere. These children, becoming fathers themselves, would eventually lose their children from the faith. It is easy to see how in three generations the Catholic Church can disappear in a locality if not from an entire diocese. We are not speaking of persecution or fines. Only of default, the inability of the older generation to instill the Faith in their children. Sadly this situation is made worst by our pagan environment.

A great consolation, however, is that St. Francis de Sales (in his book the "Great Controversies") showed that faith could be re-established in four years with 72,000 becoming Catholics in Chablais and only 27 remaining Calvinists.

The apostles, the foundation in which Christ built His Church, would one day die. And the Church would need continuous Evangelization. The internal mechanism of the Church, the presence of Christic Charity (the soul of the Church) among her members will accomplish this.

Evangelization consists in the Church using her two Christ-given powers, namely that of Jurisdiction and of Orders: powers to bring souls to be completely Catholic through the four stages of Repentance, Faith, Hope and Charity. St. Francis enumerates these stages in his strategy in the re-conquests of Chablais and the Calvinist stronghold Geneva. He said, we must first live a life of repentance to reach Faith, thus entering the Catholic Church. Then we must grow in our faith and reach Charity before we can storm Geneva with Love.

The commands of Christ is the way to these four stages of Repentance, Faith, Hope and Love of God and neighbor. Evangelization, therefore, is teaching all the commands of Christ and how to observe them, thus giving us the proper disposition to be able to worthily receive the graces from the Sacraments.

Pope Benedict XVI had been hinting that the Catholic world today is similar to Chablais. The cause, he states in his "New Evangelization," being that there is error in the contents and method in teaching Catechism recently. ( This is not so in the Catechisms of Cyprian, Augustine, Thomas of Aquinas up to Trent and John Vianney.) He does not say 'how recent.' If it has been for more than three generations then the Church would have disappeared in most localities, if not in many nations.

The Pope's actions attest to this fact. He rewrites the Catechism of the Catholic Church with his 'Compendium' and writes 'Deus Caritas Est' followed with 'Spe Salvi.' This is what St. Francis de Sales did in Chablais and Geneva. 'The stronghold of Geneva can only be conquered with Love.' The stronghold of the world, the devil's dominion, can only be Evangelized with Love.
And those who must conquer must know the science of Divine Love, like St. Therese.

St. Francis de Sales conquered Geneva becoming its bishop. How many generations was that ago. More than three generations. And Geneva is again gone from the Church.

Charity is the soul of the Church. She does not have to be told to Evangelize. She Evangelizes everywhere she is through her members and does it very well. Where is our Francis de Sales or better still where is the Church?