Friday, May 29, 2015

Shepherds for the Whole World

"And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John 5:19).

"Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, makes himself an enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4).

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (Jas. 1:27).

"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).

"We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God" (1 Cor. 2:12).

"Woe unto the world because of offences! For it is necessary that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence comes!" (Matt. 18:7)

"Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Cor. 6:2)

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives do I give you" (John 14:27).

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the pagans seek...But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matt. 6:31-33).

"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither does it know him" (John 14:17).

"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Tim. 4:10).

"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me" (John 17:9).

"The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Cor. 3:19).

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16).

"Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you" (1 John 3:13).

"But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32).

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14).

"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome , the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2 Pet. 2:20).

"They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them" (1 John 4:5).

"Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:12).

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, That you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and you shall be sorrowful , but your sorrow shall be turned into joy" (John 16:20).

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).

"For what does it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt. 16:26)

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The list of Bible verses above is just a sampling of those that deal with the Christian's relationship with that entity known as "the world". The world is a very interesting term in the New Testament. It appears throughout the New Testament, but especially in the writings of St. John, where it is used a total of 105 times in 78 verses. 

The word can mean various things. Sometimes it simply means the sum total of things here and now; i.e., the universe, as in Revelation 13:8, "And all that dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, which was slain from the beginning of the world." Sometimes it means the world as the physical location of humanity, or simply in contrast with heaven, such as in John 3:17, "For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him." Sometimes "the world" is synonymous with humanity, as in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world." 

But the majority of uses of "the world" in the New Testament refer to the world as the system of human existence under its various aspects: as a place of earthly joys and passions, and especially as a system that is hostile to God. In this sense, the world is something that is in opposition to God and His kingdom, as in John 8:23, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world." Over 50% of all uses to the word "world" (κόσμος, "kosmos") in the writings of John use this adversarial language; this percentage increases when we take into account similar uses of κόσμος, by St. Paul ("Hath God not made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God" ~1 Cor. 1:20-21).

Thus, although there is certainly some nuance in the word, we are safe in suggesting that the primary usage of the phrase "the world" in the New Testament is in reference to the entire earthly system of opposition to God under all its aspects, the "City of Man" of St. Augustine, whose head is ultimately the devil (cf. Luke 4:5-6. 1 John 5:19). Because the head of this system is the devil - and because there is no concord between the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of the Devil (2 Cor. 6:15) - it is clear that the New Testament posits a relationship of fundamental and irreconcilable hostility between the Church and the world. Hence St. James can say, "do you not know that the friendship of this world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, makes himself an enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4).

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Of course there is a popular saying, long hallowed in Christian tradition, that believers are to be "in the world but not of the world." This formula, "in but not of", is seen as a way to resolve the tension between the Christian's call to love the people of the world whilst simultaneously refusing to become "part" of the world. It is often invoked as an admonishment to those Christians who no longer wish to engage the corrupt culture but merely withdraw from it. "The Bible says we are to be in the world but not of it. Disengagement is not an option."

You may surprised to learn that this phrase "in the world but not of the world" never appears in the New Testament. It seems to be based loosely on John 17:14-15, where Jesus prays,"I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world; as I also am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil." Here Jesus specifically teaches that we are "not of the world", and that though we must remain physically present in it, He prays that God would keep us from its evil. In other words, Jesus never says by way of command that we are to be engaged in the world; He merely says that since we must be physically present in the world by necessity, God should keep us from the world's evil, which is quite a different shade of meaning than that conveyed by "in but not of."

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The goal of the Christian life if holiness. Yet what is holiness? What does it meant to be holy? We understand that we are called to be loving, forgiving, etc. But what does it mean to be "holy"? Is holiness a mere sum of all other natural and supernatural virtues? And what about God? God is love, power, forgiveness, justice and so on. But what does it mean when the angels cry that God is "holy, holy, holy?"

The fundamental definition of holiness is separation. The Latin word for holiness is sanctitas, from whence sanctity. Holiness denotes separation or consecration unto God. When the angels cry "holy, holy, holy" it is because God is so far separate and distinct from all created things that awe is the only appropriate response in his presence. "Between creator and creature there can be noted no similarity so great that a greater dissimilarity cannot be seen between them", the Fourth Lateran Council taught (cap. 3, "On Heretics"). St. Thomas defines holiness as a firm separation of created things which are translated from profane use to use in the service of God (STh II-II Q. 81 art. 8). This is why Holy Water, Holy Cards, Holy Candles, Holy Oil, etc. have the adjective "holy" - once they are consecrated, they are "set apart" for divine worship exclusively. To use Holy Oil for cooking for Holy Water for common washing would be sacrilegious. Their consecration is what makes them "holy", and hence set apart for divine use exclusively.

Of course, a person is holy in a different sense than an object, but the fundamental reality that holiness means separation remains. 
A man with Holy Orders is set apart for the service of God. A holy person is one whose life is separated from worldly concerns and activities and who already lives, even in the flesh, in contemplation of heavenly things. Holiness is separation; separation from worldly uses and a setting apart unto God, "who is above all, through all, and in all" (Eph. 4:6).

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With the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church adopted a posture of "openness" to the world. Pope John XXIII harbored great hopes for a kind of reconciliation between the Church and the world that would lead to the mutual building up of both; what he called a "new order of human relations", while also condemning those "prophets of gloom" who only saw the modern world in a negative light. This led to a massive paradigm shift in the post-Conciliar Church, a pivot towards the world. It matters not whether the Council documents ever called for this pivot; the essential weakness of the conservative response to the Council has been a narrow focus on the Council documents' language and a failure to comprehend the Council as an event (see, USC, "Book Review: Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story", Aug. 2013). The pivot happened and it must be acknowledged as a fact.

The result of this pivot was a blurring of distinction between the Church and world, between merely natural goods and supernatural goods. Worldly concerns seemed to be become the Church's concerns. It started innocently enough with "world peace," but then moved on to all sorts of other issues, occupying bigger and bigger parts of the Church's canvas until the Church appeared as little more than an NGO concerned with worldly problems like climate change and youth unemployment. Not that the Church has no concern with temporal evils that offend God; but as the Church shifted its focus more and more towards merely natural goods, it began to address them with increasingly little reference to man's supernatural ends.

The results were a spiritually deadening and embarrassingly banal Church that gives us such gems as "Driver's Ten Commandments", documents about immigration reform, and of course, encyclicals on global warming.

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This is all very shady territory, of course, because there can always be an argument made that these are all issues of profound concern to Christians. There is often an ambiguity in these sorts of pronouncements; what one gets out of them largely depends on what one reads into them. We are talking about mood and emphasis, not doctrine. I remember a Protestant friend of mine, upon hearing of some new papal gesture for world peace, said, "It's's like he's trying to be the pope of the world or something." And that was under the pontificate of Benedict! Needless to say he is not very impressed with Pope Francis; there is no discernible "Francis Effect" on him, at least not in the positive sense.

Perhaps this all expresses the tension in modern Catholicism - once one has opened up to the world, what is the overlap between one's duties to the Church and to the world? What happens when they are in contradiction? Can they be in contradiction? In traditional Catholicism the answer was clear: the Church and the world were in a fundamental state of opposition. But once we have pivoted towards the world, what now?

Case in point: Consider Pope Benedict XVI's recent letter in which the Pope Emeritus states that the Church's pastors should be "shepherds for the whole world." Benedict wrote:

"The service of a shepherd cannot be only limited only to the Church [even though] in the first place, we are entrusted with the care of the faithful and of those who are directly seeking faith. [The Church] is part of the world, and therefore it can properly play its service only if it takes care of the world in its entirety.”

What is a Catholic to make of these words? It is certainly true, in one sense, that since the mission of Christ was to redeem the whole human race, the Church can never concern herself solely with matters entirely internal. She must always be considering her mission ad gentes; God wills all men to be saved, and so we must labor for all men to be so.

This is nothing new. But is that the sense in which Benedict means it? He goes on to say that the Church "must be involved in the efforts that humanity and society put into action" to address "the questions of our times."

The fundamental question is this: Is he envisioning the Church reaching out to make the world think about heavenly things, or the Church focusing more of its attention on worldly things? Does he want the Church to call the world to remember man's supernatural ends, or is he proposing the Church help to world attain its merely natural ends? Is this a call of the world to the Church or a capitulation of the Church to the world? The problem is both philosophies can be read into Benedict's words, depending on one's predisposition.

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The Church has come a long way in its relation with the world. From a New Testament relation of essential opposition, to the modern zeitgeist of positivity and openness to the developments of the world. The tendency in the modern age is for the things going on in the world to be accepted by the Church. This certainly didn't begin with Vatican II; I personally think it began back when the Church began acclimating itself to the credit economy by mitigating its condemnations of usury (see USC, "Usury and Love of Money").

The Church must always engage the world with an aim of bringing men from the City of Man to the City of God; but this translation of one city to the other happens on the Church's terms, not the world's. We "become all things to all men that by all means we might save some" (1 Cor. 9:22); we go out into the highways and byways to all. But we go out into the highways so that we might bring the lost into the feast; we do not go into the highways that we might join the lost wandering around outside. This is what so many Christians are missing, because like a kid who wants to be 'cool' and is embarrassed by his parents, Christians are ashamed to bring the lost to their Father's house.

In other words, finding it increasingly too difficult to break with the world to become truly Christian, the Christian people have simply decided to become one with the world and call it Christian. Rather than seek holiness by separating from worldly thoughts and behaviors, they have chosen to wallow in their worldliness and call it the 'universal call to holiness.' And as long as this is the reality, protestations against creeping worldliness will go unheeded, the worldiness of anthropocentric ecclesiastical policies will not even be recognized let alone corrected, and those who seek to pursue a true separation from the world in the classical Christian sense will ironically be accused of escapism and failure of Christian charity.

"When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" ~Luke 18:8


Beefy Levinson said...

Sometimes I wonder if this is how it feels to watch your mother descend into alcoholism. You still love her and frequently exhort her to stop destroying herself, but she has to make the decision to give up the booze herself.

W said...

Good post.

I used to have this image as a screen-saver, back when I wss a recent convert and in the state of grace.

Seems like a long time ago.

Boniface said...

Be in a state of grace again. Its all that really matters. Even if the whole rest of the world were to be destroyed in flame, be in a state of grace.

Troubleman said...

Boniface, it's been a bit quiet on your blog lately. Don't you have some Baysiders you can beat up on?

Boniface said...

I've never beaten up on Baysiders, though I certainly make fun of the ridiculous messages of Bayside because, like Medjugorje and Garabandal, they are fraudulent and only worthy of derision.

Tina said...

You nailed it! Great post.

I have found, in the last two years, that I am unable to comprehend the thoughts, words and deeds that have come out of Rome. Inorder to retain my sanity, I have stopped trying to analyze all of this and I found that I, also, needed to turn my back on this "world" and turn my face towards Jesus and His word in Scripture.

Thank you for this post. You put into words, all the thoughts and discomfort that I could not articulate.

Boniface said...

"You put into words, all the thoughts and discomfort that I could not articulate"

That's why I exist!

Unknown said...

Very insightful! I am reminded of Testem benevolenciae, where it says we are not too soften the faith to unbelievers. If they accept the hard truths, et them accept it.

Troubleman said...

Haters gotta hate Boniface. Padre Pio and Mother Theresa both endorsed Garabandal. Are they worthy of derision also?

Boniface said...

Pshhh...Padre Pio's "support" is based on hearsay and undocumented evidence that his order denies. Just like the alleged "support" of JP2 for Medjogorje. Anyhow, Joey died blind, end of story. Hoax over.

Troubleman said...

Haters gotta hate. Joey said himself that Padre Pio gave him permission to go to Garabandal. I guess Joey is worthy of derision too? The numbers of people you need to smear to maintain your arrogant stance just keeps growing the more you keep talking Boniface. And no comeback on Mother Theresa?
There is so much more to both Bayside and Garabandal than you know but haters gotta hate, spread lies, smear and spread derision.
You are a scoffer Boniface. Your derision and hatred stems from your lack of both faith and humility. You fool the vast majority that read your posts but you will be exposed in good time.

Boniface said...

I don't hate anyone associated with these apparitions. I have many friends who believe in them, as well as Medjugorje. As for Mother Teresa, I'm not as familiar with her position, but I believe it comes down to a letter in which she said she felt it was authentic. If this was true, she is simply mistaken, just like she was mistaken about a great deal of other things.

Troubleman said...

What other things was Mother Theresa mistaken about then?

I suppose in your supreme pomposity Boniface, you never once considered that it is in fact YOU who could be mistaken!

Boniface said...

Well she was errant in believing that Christian evangelism consisted in "making Hindus and Muslims better Muslims" and in her syncretism. Unless you believe Allah and the Trinity and the gods of Hinduism are all one and the same?

Troubleman said...

Good grief your arrogance is boundless. You are a true modern Pharisee Boniface.

Hows about you take the good Lords advice and take the beam from your own eye first. Then perhaps you will see a little clearer......

Boniface said...

So then may I presume you agree with Mother Teresa's comments that Allah, Ishwar, and the Trinity are all the same God?

May I presume you agree with Mother Teresa that our goal is to make Hindus better Hindus and Muslims better Muslims?

Based on your comments, I am assuming you agree with these statements.

Anyhow, Bayside is bunk. Stupidest apparition out there. "Ball of Redemption." LOL. Kidnapped and impostor Paul VI. Please. Garabandal is a close second.

Anonymous said...

"Pshhh...Padre Pio's "support" is based on hearsay and undocumented evidence that his order denies. Just like the alleged "support" of JP2 for Medjogorje. Anyhow, Joey died blind, end of story. Hoax over."

Although it makes no difference one way or the other as to the authenticity of the alleged apparitions at Garabandal, there is certainly eyewitness testimony, from two credible witnesses, that Padre Pio believed in those apparitions.

Joey Lomangino did not believe in Garabandal until he heard from Padre Pio's own lips that Padre Pio believed it to be a true apparition. There is no reason to doubt Joey Lomangino's testimony in that regard. What motive would he have to lie about that? Apparitions don't need Padre Pio's approbation to be authentic.

In addition, there is another eyewitness to Padre Pio's opinion on the matter: Joachim Bouflet, Ph.D., a Frenchman, who has publicly stated that Padre Pio told him the same thing, that the Blessed Virgin appeared at Garabandal.

Professor Bouflet and Joey Lomangino have no reason to fabricate such a story and every reason not to publicly make such statements, as people tend to ridicule others under such circumstances.

That's not to say that Padre Pio's opinion on the authenticity of the alleged Garabandal apparitions is determinative of anything, but there should be no reason for anyone to doubt that he believed them to be authentic. We have eyewitnesses who spoke to him and heard it from his own mouth, and they are credible persons.

Lastly, we know prophecies can be tricky and misunderstood until their fulfillment. We also know that failed prophecies do not negate the authenticity of an apparition; that's a demonstrable fact.

Both Fatima and La Salette contain failed prophecies (in the case of La Salette, several failed prophecies), yet the Church accepts both of those apparitions as authentic.

Thus, a failed prophecy is not determinative of whether an alleged apparition is authentic. That's not to say that Garabandal is authentic; I'm not competent to say one way or the other. However, it's a fact that failed prophecies happen at true apparitions. We have direct evidence of it from the seers themselves.


Anonymous said...

"Ball of Redemption." LOL.

Whether Bayside is true is beyond my competence, but the idea of a comet being used by God as an instrument of chastisement of the human race, as delineated there, is in agreement with many other alleged apparitions and alleged Catholic mystics and saints down through the ages.

In fact, it is an ancient prophecy.

Of course, that says nothing here nor there about the authenticity of the Bayside apparitions, but the prophecy of a chastising comet is certainly an old Catholic prophecy.


Troubleman said...

As usual Boniface, you project onto others what YOU believe they are saying. You do it consistently across multiple subjects it seems. So you attempt now with me as well as Mother Theresa.

You remind me very much of the ignorant but supremely smug atheists who love to quote the apparently contradictory gotcha lines from the Bible in their mocking tone. Of course any one with more than an elementary understanding of the Bible realise the error of taking all scripture at face value without correct context. But it is impossible to reason with these people. They love to sneer and mock and scoff and simply will not listen to any reason, context or explanation other than their own interpretation.

I know i am wasting my time with you. You simply LOVE your ignorance too much. You and they are of the same spirit sadly.

Perhaps some good soul reading our exchange will do the heavy penance that you so desperately need, to bring you back to your senses? But i doubt it.....

Just another terrific person said...

I want to congratulate Troubleman for so effectively discouraging people (just us scoffers, haters, and faithless Catholics full of derision though) from Bayside etc, just like its supporters usually do when they appear on the net.

Boniface said...


Sorry, that's what I meant by hearsay. Nothing in writing. Just people saying, "Padre Pio said this to me," and "Padre Pio privately told me this," but nothing verifiable in writing; in fact, his order denying he ever supported it.

Frankly though, it doesn't matter. When it comes to these revelations, all that matters to me is what the local bishops says.

But this thread has been hijacked by this conversation for too long. No more comments on Bayside, Garabandal, etc. on this post please.


c matt said...

as the Church shifted its focus more and more towards merely natural goods, it began to address them with increasingly little reference to man's supernatural ends.

The problem identified in a pretty concise nutshell.

JM said...

Please. Get a grip. MT was holy, apparently, but naive as hell. Read her naivety on other religions.

JM said...

Good grief is right. Listen to yourself man, and chill out.