Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Don't Be Lukewarm: A Passionate Plea For Unity Of Universal Church

Today Father Mike Schmitz in his daily podcast The Catholic Catechism In a Year Day 115 made a Passionate Plea for Church Unity echoing the letter to Laodicea's where the community is reprimanded for being lukewarm (Rev 3:15–16: To Laodicea.* “To the angel of the church in Laodicea,* write this:
“‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this:

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.* I wish you were either cold or hot.

So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire* so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see."

"Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers". CCC 817

You may recall Lee Strobel 's Case for Christ: When his wife announces that she’s become a believer in Christ, former Chicago Tribune legal affairs reporter and avowed atheist, Lee Strobel embarks on a quest to investigate the truth of Jesus. Using his skills as a law-school graduate and long-time journalist, Strobel interviews—and occasionally interrogates—an array of scholars specializing in Christianity and the New Testament. He discovers that the evidence for Jesus Christ—His existence, His divinity, His resurrection—is overwhelming. By the end of his journey, Strobel realizes his atheism simply doesn’t hold up against the evidence, and he takes the natural next step: he becomes a believer. The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel

Similarly, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, prolific journalist and author, was well known for his apologetics, biographies, detective fiction, literary, social, and political commentary, and modern history. In the book Catholic Church and Conversion, Chesterton's brilliance as a writer and thinker again shine through as he explains his understanding of Catholicism and the Catholic Church and how its appeal to reason and truth eventually won him over. For Chesterton, two essentials lay at the heart of conversion, and without these, a man misses the point of it all. He describes these in his own words: "One is that he believes it to be solid objective truth, which is true whether he likes it or not; and the other is that he seeks liberation from his sins." That is why Chesterton became a Catholic, and what he describes in his unique and colorful way in this book.

Meanwhile, Julie from SetApartWalk.com, uses the Jack Nickolson's movie You Can't Handle the Truth argument "how to find the restrooms is not in the operating manual" to conclude that Catholicism is not Biblical Christianity. According to hervwebsite, Julie.is a homemaker, mother of five, and pastor’s wife. She loves family, homeschooling, and most of all Jesus and is passionate about encouraging Christian women to grow in their faith, live godly lives, and discern truth from all the lies and noise of the world.

Julie is not alone. Christianity.com uses a similar argument as Julie: although more forgiving "Catholicism has many unbiblical practices and teachings, such as purgatory, sacraments, and the rosary, yet this does not mean a person is not a Christian." In fact, the Jesus Revolution protagonists like Pastor Chuck Smith, Greg Laurie & others have expressed similar views.

Charles Ward "ChuckSmith  founded the Calvary Chapel movement. Beginning with the 25-person Costa Mesa congregation in 1965, Smith's influence now extends to "more than 1,000 churches nationwide and hundreds more overseas", Chuck has been called "one of the most influential figures in modern American Christianity."The founding of Calvary Chapel is depicted in the 2023 film Jesus Revolution, with Smith being portrayed by Kelsey Grammer.

The argument used against the Catholic Church  is similar to a Time Magazine piece, by Katha Pollitt,  author “Reclaiming Abortion Rights,” where she argues abortion is not found in the Bible, So it must be OK.. Pollit's argument is not unlike Justin Ling’s piece on Wired titled “Elon Musk’s Twitter Files Are a Feast For Conspiracy. Even though Andrew Lowenthal says that “The #TwitterFiles show how “anti-disinformation” academics and NGOs undermined free speech and expression,” and Musk says the NYTimes’ ‘propaganda isn’t even interesting’ and their Twitter feed is the ‘equivalent of diarrhea,’

Today, Father Mike Schmitz in his daily podcast The Catholic Catechism In a Year Day 115,   made a Case for Church Unity. Not to place blame or aspersions, but as Pastor Chuck Smith might say, "Focus on the Majors". After all, "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time." Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me." The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit. CCC 820

if every man lived a thousand years, ever
y man would either end up as a nihilistic atheist or a member of the Catholic creed.- – G.K. Chesterton

" In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism - do not occur without human sin:

Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers. CCC 817

"However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers. . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church." CCC 818

"Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity." CCC 819

So, how do we achieve unity?

"Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call:

- a permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation; such renewal is the driving-force of the movement toward unity;

- conversion of heart as the faithful "try to live holier lives according to the Gospel"; for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ's gift which causes divisions;

- prayer in common, because "change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name 'spiritual ecumenism;"�

- fraternal knowledge of each other;

- ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests;

- dialogue among theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and communities;

- collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind. "Human service" is the idiomatic phrase CCC 821

Concern for achieving unity "involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike." But we must realize "that this holy objective - the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ - transcends human powers and gifts." That is why we place all our hope "in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit." CCC 822

“The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” – G.K. Chesterton

if every man lived a thousand years, every man would either end up as a nihilistic atheist or a member of the Catholic creed.- – G.K. Chesterton

Accrding to All roads lead to Rome and Why G.K. Chesterton became Catholic: 
‘ordinary anti-Catholic propaganda’ is not an obstacle. That is not what keeps the potential convert out of the Church. The convert is rarely frightened of the Protestant picture of Catholicism but is frightened of the Catholic picture of Catholicism., ill-judged words from Catholics do more harm to any potential conversion than any anti-Catholic vitriol from non-Catholics. – G.K. Chesterton

Then there's  Dale Ahlquist who  concludes, rather disconcertingly, that what kept one of the most famous converts of the 20th century out of the Church for years were other Catholics - Dale Ahlquist, president and co-founder of the American Chesterton Socie. Not to mention the Converts who followed Chesterton

Whether we are simple minded like Jesus' Apostles, or Jesus Freaks like Pastor Chuck Smith, Greg Laurie or John Michael Talbot. Pastor's wife like Julie from Christianity.com or Lee Strobel, Father Mike offers a compelling argument for putting aside differences and pray for reunification, after all Jesus says His Church is one Body.  The Church is His Kindom opn Earth and it is His. Militant Church 

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