Another one bites the dust
What triggers the quotation of this well-worn, if abused, cliché indicating defeat? It's the knowledge that one more relative of mine has ceased to practice the Catholic faith and is now attending a non-Catholic "church." I didn't do a calculation to get an exact number of these family defectors, of those who have abandoned the faith, but it's a higher number than I'd like to admit. My reason for telling you this dark family secret is to give you that scant consolation of commiseration. These relatives of mine, only a few years ago, had been Catholics. Technically speaking, they are still Catholics: "once a Catholic, always a Catholic." However, these relatives do not regard themselves as being Catholics any longer, and this is a literal shame for me and a shame on them.
There's no greater misfortune that can befall man in this life than to be out of the true Church. It's a dogma of faith that there is no salvation outside the Church. Since there is only one Church, the one Christ founded, this amounts to saying that there's no salvation outside the Catholic Church. A dogma means a necessary teaching, one that's demanded by the very nature of the Christian faith. While interpretations of this dogma are various (and I do not intend to delve into them there), my purpose in reviewing it is to indicate how grievous a sin it is to abandon the true Church for any other.
I don't know of any family where all the relatives have kept the Catholic faith. The widespread defection is symptomatic of this age of unbelief, but it's also the result of the gross negligence of irresponsible priests, catechists and parents for failing to teach the faith, for misleading and deceiving their charges about the real meaning of the Church's teachings, or else for trivializing the liturgy by their impiety. When people are left ignorant by vacuous religious instruction or scandalized by silly, irreverent liturgies, they may at some point come to a religious consciousness and ask themselves, Can this be the true Christian religion? Upon discovering the bible and sincere Christians of some sect or other, they may easily be swayed to league up with them and depart from the Church. In such cases, culpability for leaving the Catholic Church may be mitigated, or even be entirely non-existent due to the fault of others. God knows. But one should not err on that account in believing that though they have left the true Church, that at least they now love the Lord and are better off than had they remained non-practicing Catholics. Objectively speaking, to leave the true Church is a grave evil. Subjectively one may not be accountable for this, depending on circumstances, depending on circumstances, but this does not refute the substantive evil of defection from the faith. For the faithful, it is truly a suffering to learn that someone has converted to a sect. (I speak nothing here about apostates -- those who have left Christianity for a pagan religion or a cult: this is an even worse evil.)
Today is Trinity Sunday. The dogma of the Blessed Trinity is a truth revealed to us by the Church, not by the bible alone, which does not clearly specify this dogma. And so, the dogma of the Trinity is an example of the necessity of the Catholic Church to explicate and impose its divinely revealed teachings upon, us, without which we would be doctrinally sunk, unsure about anything supernatural were we made to rely solely upon the many and diverse interpretations of the bible.
Let us cherish the true, orthodox, Catholic faith in all its fullness. Let us pray never to be unfaithful to it, trembling upon recollection of our Lord's words, "When the Son of Man comes again, will He find faith left on earth?" We, unhappy witnesses of the disintegration of the Catholic faith and of a massive defection from the Church in our time, need to pray steadily for the return of lapsed Catholics and to show them the good example of our patience and love which may, in the end, prove most convincing of all proofs of the truth of our holy faith.
Next Sunday is Corpus Christi Sunday. After the noon orchestral Mass there will be a procession (outdoors, as possible) with the Holy Sacrament and adoration of the One whom we love and revere as true God and true Man. Following the Procession, food at a nominal cost will be made available by our trusty ushers.
Monday, May 23, 2016
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, May 22, 2016):