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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Fewer - Part Eight

If Pope Benedict's 1969 "prophecy" is truly coming to pass, and you and I -- and those coming after us for the unforeseeable future -- are to be a Faithful Remnant Catholic Church, then God's advice to the Israelite Remnant, spoken by Jeremiah the prophet in 588 BC, is advice we must seriously accept and apply to ourselves as Remnant Catholics in 2010 and beyond: 
"If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down; I will plant you, not uproot you; ... Do not fear ... says the LORD, for I am with you to save you, to rescue you from his power.  I will grant you mercy ..." Jeremiah 42:18-19. 
The Church-As-Remnant would not be some sort of colossal failure or cruel punishment from the Hand of God.  Recall, Academicians, our consideration concerns Christ purifying His Bride, the Church.  Purification is not punishment!  
Purification is a healing -- a spiritual process, an individual and collective interior event within the heart and soul of each member, and in the communal life and mission all the members share in.  Spiritual purification produces clarity by crystalizing -- making definite, unmistakable and desirable -- all that is true, lovely, and holy,  so these may be set free from surrounding corruption and interference, and strengthened so they may flourish and increase. Saint Paul, always a man ahead of his time, told the nervous Philippians:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. 
The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with 
thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all 
understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, 

whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything 
worthy of praise, think about these things.   Keep on doing what you have learned and received 
and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you."
                                Saint Paul's Letter To The Philippians 4:1-9

Back in 1969, Father Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI envisioned something wonderful and exciting emerging from what may be a difficult process of purification and pruning.  He wrote, "From this interiorized and simplified Church, a great force will pour out. The men of an [artificially] planned world will feel unspeakably isolated. When God will seem to have totally disappeared for them, they will experience a complete and horrible poverty. And then they will discover the small community of those who believe... ."  And they will discover the Church as something entirely new to them, a reality previously unfamiliar to them. The Remnant Church will be a light gleaming into their darkness, guiding them out of isolation and spiritual and moral destitution.  
The Faithful comprising the Remnant Catholic Church will share experiences similar to those which the Infant Church community experienced between 33 and 100 AD:  Being eyewitnesses to a new work accomplished by the Holy Spirit, and to the proclamation of the Gospel to people living in darkness and the slavery of sin.  And -- possibly(?), probably(?) -- some persecution, as well. 
During his General Audience on November 12, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about Saint Paul and our Catholic Faith concerning the Parousia (the Second and Final Coming Of Christ, the end of the world, and the final triumph of the Kingdom Of God) in a talk called, Eschatology: The Expectation Of The Parousia.  While our Series on a possible Remnant Church isn't intended to include an exploration of Eschatology (the branch of systematic theology which deals with the doctrines of the last things -- death, Judgement, Purgatory, Hell, and Heaven), we must realize that there is a direct connection between the Church (remnant or not) and Christ's Final Coming.  
In Pope Benedict's teaching on this, the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed Academicians among you will recognize a mindset which will be in direct opposition to the fruits of purification in Benedict's 1969 "prophecy"!  Benedict gently indicates the anti-fruit:
... [L]et us ask ourselves: what are the basic convictions of Christians as regards the last things: death, the end of the world? Their first conviction is the certainty that Jesus is Risen and is with the Father and thus is with us forever. And no one is stronger than Christ, for he is with the Father, he is with us. We are consequently safe, free of fear. This was an essential effect of Christian preaching. Fear of spirits and divinities was widespread in the ancient world. Today too, missionaries alongside many good elements in natural religions encounter fear of the spirits, of evil powers that threaten us. Christ lives, he has overcome death, he has overcome all these powers. We live in this certainty, in this freedom, and in this joy. This is the first aspect of our living with regard to the future.
The second [conviction] is the certainty that Christ is with me. And just as the future world in Christ has already begun, this also provides the certainty of hope. The future is not darkness in which no one can find his way. It is not like this. Without Christ, even today the world's future is dark, and fear of the future is so common. Christians know that Christ's light is stronger and therefore they live with a hope that is not vague, with a hope that gives them certainty and courage to face the future ...  [W]e realize that God is the true Judge. We are also certain that this Judge is good; we know his Face, the Face of the Risen Christ, of Christ crucified for us. Therefore we can be certain of his goodness and advance with great courage.
Aye, there's the rub! Did you catch it?


What are the most effective, diabolical tools to use against a Remnant Church in a world that is increasingly apathetic to Christianity?  Pessimism and fear!


In our exploration of the notion that the Catholic Church is being purified / trimmed by the Lord to exist in the future as a Remnant Church, pessimism and fear about the future are misplaced and useless -- and to be avoided.  


To Be Continued . . .

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