Many people have strange ideas about the Catholic Church
by Fred S. Schaeffer, OFS
Listening to television newscasts during this initial time in the "Sede Vacante" or Papal Vacancy, people and the young express strange ideas about the Catholic Church, all over the world. Somehow they think the church will change along with the times, the times of permissiveness in the area of sexual relation, same-sex partners, etc. No, in my experience, the church won't do that. They cannot do that. God made these rules; they are not for humans to change.
The argument that the issue of women priests should be re-examined is ludicrous. Jesus Christ appointed the twelve Apostles all male. Jesus is one God in three persons, He IS God, so the church cannot change this issue, and has told everyone there will be no argument. The church doesn't have the right to change this issue.
Just as Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI submits his obedience to the next Pope, whomever he will be, the rest of us, Catholics, must continue to obey the teaching authority of the Church (the Magisterium) - which means essentially no changes in moral and practical concepts.
Obedience is the greatest of Moral virtues. One could say it is the "lynchpin" in a morally lived life, because when the pin is pulled out, this deck of cards falls apart. People who disobey will find themselves slowly becoming vague toward all authority, from God on down.
I've met people who have no idea what is good or evil anymore. You see, they don't even care. They live from one episode of sin to the next. Morality is completely out of the window. Life has no meaning anymore and no higher goal. Such a life is a total waste of time in my opinion, but there are people who live like that. And sometimes, they call themselves Catholics. They used to go to church once upon a time, they know what is expected of them but really no longer care. They point you toward the door, usually in a very uncouth manner.
Let us take a lesson from this humble and decent man, Benedict XVI. He was a wonderful pontiff, one from whom we can learn many things. I read the first volume of "Jesus of Nazareth," he wrote a few years ago. Then I stalled in the beginning part of Volume II. I guess I wasn't ready for it. Lately, however, I've found interest to continue reading and now I cannot put it down. He explains his thesis brilliantly in a simple and understated way. I thank the Holy Spirit for inspiring me to pick the book up again.
Benedict's writing compells me to look at myself again, do I fulfill the teaching of the Magisterium in my simple Franciscan way? St. Francis, as you will recall if you follow his Rule, said that preaching is a good thing, use words only if necessary. Well, the Lord had given me a talent to write but preaching isn't really my thing. I have not yet discovered how to write without using words, but in time I'll probably figure it out. Maybe St. Francis meant to use as few words as possible and evangelize by example.
It is not necessary to think a lot, just obey God. What God wants us to do is written in the Bible and for Catholics in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. As Catholics we attend Holy Mass every Sunday and Holidays of Obligation, and if you are attentive you listen to the Homily - where the priest is trying to either explain what is contained in the readings of the day, or something else. Let's listen carefully to him as we might just learn something. Deacons, of whom there are now many more than a few years ago, generally are great homilists. Listen to them too. Many are allowed to preach or at least take advantage of listening to the Holy Spirit when they give a homily.
So my message here is to obey the words of the clergy rather than fight the rules (large or small) of the Church. Your life will improve and you will get to know yourselves at the same time that you will discover the Lord and his love for all of us.
Peace and Good,
Fred S. Schaeffer, OFS
February 28, 2013