FAITH - A priority !!
Have you ever heard a nagging wife? Or worst still a nagging mother in law? Yes, this is common. But a nagging Pope !!! Well, one day it was bound to happen. St. Augustine several times excused himself for nagging too much. And the reasons he gave was that he was explaining so important a topic he had to. And the Holy Father has found himself doing the same thing because of the importance of his topic ... Faith, without which no one can enter heaven. For what reason should the world continue to exist when most of its inhabitants have no Faith. It has no reason to continue.
After Pope Benedict declared that the Church is undergoing a crisis of Faith i.e. that most 'Catholics' are not really able to enter the Catholic Church, after co-authoring with Pope John Paul II "Veritatis Splendor" where they enumerated the errors that are preventing Catholics from entering the Church, after authoring the "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church" a better concise summary of Catholic Doctrine superior to the thick Catechism of Vatican II, after encouraging the whole Church to review their Faith during the Year of St. Paul, after more precisely reminding priests to go back to the seminary and review their Moral theology and study how to make the Act of Faith, after "Porta Fidei"......then the Holy Father Pope Benedict addresses a Plenary Assembly working with the new Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. He called on Bishops and priests and religious to make the renewal of Faith as the Priority work of the entire Church. We can do other things but TO MAKE THE ACT OF FAITH AS THE PRIORITY !!! Now, don't tell me that is not nagging.
In his talk the Holy Father said that the flame of Faith in the world is being extinguish like a flame that is no longer fed, a profound crisis of faith, a loss of all sense of the supernatural. Was he speaking about you and me? I haven't had time to check on my Faith as the Pope had instructed us, and probably you, too. And that is the problem and what he is nagging us to do....to check if we have the true Faith. By the mere fact that we still have to check if we have faith means we don't have it, as St. Thomas would say. He who has Faith knows for certain that he has it.
Casting his glance on the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Holy Father hints, "how can you convert the Orthodox and the Jews to the Faith if you yourself do not have it. Your Ecumenical dialogues has borne no fruits. While look at the Anglicans flocking into the Catholic Church and we are not holding any dialogues with them. Then he switches his glance at the Congregation for the Missions and hints, "what will you bring to the mission countries if you yourself do not have Faith." Those mission countries are supposed to form truly Christian communities united with one another but instead Catholic Hutus are killing Catholic Tutsis in Uganda.
There is something seriously wrong in the manner Ecclesiology is being transmitted. This must reflect the priority of Faith, the Holy Father states. But it is as important to have a correct interpretation of that order or hierarchy which exists in Catholic doctrine, by bringing out its internal structure, the organic nature of this unique structure.
The steps that must be followed in instilling the Faith goes this way; first present to the listener the God of nature. This is all in the natural level. And with this present the Golden Rule which is natural Moral Theology. Second, present the truths of Divine Revelation as found in the New Testament. Thirdly, these N.T. truths must be interpreted using the Fathers of the Church or Tradition. Fourthly, the Holy Father, the Pope must proposed the doctrine of Christ as taken from Divine Revelation and the Fathers of the Church. When the listener assents to these teachings with his mind and gives his consent with his free will that is an act of Faith the consequence of which is unity. Only when the community exist because there is unity can the Faith now be proclaimed to others who still do not know the Saviour, the Holy Father ended his address.
A Catechetical seminar was just held here in our diocese. There was a lot of speeches on the need of recruiting new catechists, the need to raise money to finance these volunteers but there was no mention on Faith. The same with a meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Council on Family Life, there was a lot of topics on the state of modern families but there was no mention on the lack of faith in most families. The insistence of the Holy Father that Faith should be prioritized is most opportune. Even in retreats held by priests only a brief referral is given to Faith but there is no explanation on what it is and how to dispose oneself to receive it. And this sight is common in that when a group of priests or seminarian listen to a correct explanation of the theological virtue of Faith the look in their faces seems to say: hey, that's the first time I heard that. Sadly, it is the same thing said by a few bishops. Truly a crisis of Faith. But there is nothing to worry because Christ had taught us how to acquire Faith, "Repent, believe." And St. Paul in his letters had gone into detail on how to dispose ourselves to receive it. And St. Augustine and St. Thomas of Aquinas had described in detail the human act entailed in making the Act of Faith. So what are we waiting for. Why are we delaying so much thus endangering our souls? The world had become so attractive and we have come to love it so much to the exclusion of God. The mind of man is so filled, not with the world that God created but with the world that man invented. And St. Thomas said: he whose mind contains worldly things cannot think of divine things. So the Holy Father talks about 'detachment' from worldly things...ouch...before we can listen to the word of God and attain Faith.