“You can follow thousands of catechism courses, thousands of spirituality courses, thousands of yoga or zen courses and all these things. But none of this will be able to give you the freedom as a child (of God). Only the Holy Spirit can prompt your heart to say ‘Father.’ - Pope Francis, 9 January 2015
As we move closer to the Schimod on the Family 2015, I expect more homilies like this. Before the vine is planted the ground needs to be prepared. Papal homilies seem to be the rotavator. The placement of the Catechism of the Catholic Church - that which the Pope is well-placed and well-advised to teach - alongside yoga and zen courses is a little unfortunate, isn't it?
So here we go again and I cannot believe I am saying it. Yes, we can all know the truths of the Holy Faith and be horrible people (sorry Savaronola! Mea culpa!) - who do not love God and our neighbour. Still, knowing the truths of the Holy Faith is not the cause of people being horrible to other people and not loving God and this is something that needs saying.
Those who have been, perhaps miraculously (since good teachers of the Faith who promote the Catechism are not everywhere nowadays), educated in the Catholic Faith should not be characterised as 'closed in on themselves'. They simply believe what the Church teaches and has always taught. People can, of course, know the truth of the Faith and be nasty, or very sinful, but people can also be ignorant of the truth and be nasty and very sinful. You can know the truth and be at emnity with God and you can be ignorant of it and be at emnity with God, but at least some knowledge of the truth can save you, because only the ignorant and foolish 'perish for lack of knowledge'. After all, the Catechism teaches us to love God and our neighbour. If we don't, at least we can repent. One wonders, because it is quoted so little by His Holiness, how familiar Pope Francis is with the Catechism. Personally, I dread to think.
This is yet another homily from His Holiness that deliberately sets laws or Law, against Christ. This is a running motif that is becoming a little tired. Does His Holiness, as all priests are called to do, not pray his Divine Office, I wonder? The reason I ask is because I am often reminded how much the Psalms speak of God's law, precepts, decrees, judgments, commandments. All those 'nasty' words that the Pope seems to think represent the unhelpful and cruel limitation of human freedom. Was King David closed in on himself? Was he a religious narcissist because he 'loved the law of the Lord'? Jesus Christ came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Was the Lord Jesus Christ a 'religious narcissist'?
Your hands, Lord, made and shaped me:
give me understanding and I will learn your commands.
Those who fear you will see me and rejoice in you
because I have put all my trust in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your decrees are just,
and that you were right to lay me low.
Give me your loving kindness and console me,
as you have promised to your servant.
Pour out your mercies on me, and I shall live,
because your law is my delight.
Bring confusion upon the proud,
for they attack me with lies;
but I shall devote myself to your commandments.
May those who fear you turn towards me,
those who know your precepts.
In the light of your judgments may my heart shine pure:
let me not be ashamed.
Oh, silly King David! What were you on about!? Haven't you got the Holy Spirit or something?! You're obviously obsessed with laws and precepts! Don't you realise that the Holy Spirit sets you freeeeeee from such petty concerns! This recurrent papal juxtaposition of law on the one hand and Christian faith on the other is an absurd and fabricated dichotomy, a scurrilous caricature perhaps worthy of Charlie Hebdo.
The Holy Spirit comes to make us more like the obedient Son of the Father, Jesus Christ. He enables those who believe in Jesus Christ to internalise that which was once external, written on tablets of stone.
The Holy Spirit comes to our aid to help us to co-operate with God. To live the commandments of Christ is salvific. To 'meditate on the law of the Lord' is good. And, while we are on the subject, the Church teaches (probably in the Catechism somewhere) that the Psalms are inspired by the very Person of the Most Holy Trinity that Pope Francis seems determined to drive as a wedge between the Christian life and law, be it Divine, natural, or ecclesiastical. To obey God is good and holy.
To disobey God, while we are all guilty to some degree, in matters great or small, is not good and is not holy. It is a sin. That is what sin is. Sin is the disobedience of God and His Law. To honour and fear Him is to live in freedom. Sin and disobedience, is slavery. There is no contradiction between living the commandments, upholding and teaching the commandments and loving God and neighbour, in the power of the Holy Spirit, because the love of God and neighbour is the Law of God. We are given grace to love God and our neighbour and in so doing we are intent - though sorrowfully not unceasingly and successfully so - upon keeping his commandments. Hence our need for Jesus who as Saviour fulfilled the whole Law.
If you love me, keep my commandments.
This is basic Christianity and, incredibly, Pope Francis does not teach it. Presumably, if we do not love Jesus we do not keep His commandments and believe that the Holy Spirit simply makes us 'free' to live with disregard for the laws of the Church and of God and that way lies perdition, a broad road that leads to Hell. There are a host of new insults in today's homily but I'll leave updating the insults book until later. Don't let your Catechism gather dust on a shelf. Why not take it out and read it because (after two years in the Chair of Peter) it would appear this Pope, sadly, is not going to educate you on the contents.