The Church's Great Temptation
We see today a great deal of evidence for the diabolical disorientation of mankind and we should ask what this 'diabolical disorientation' really means. Does it just mean confusion over moral issues or more? We see it in as much as we see that just as Satan, who in all his narcissistic malice, tempted Christ to the point of seeking His worship and adoration, operates this same ancient, malicious strategy in the World and so too, in the Church. Satan is orientating man to himself, away from God.
We know, as faithful Catholics, that it is not enough for the Devil to simply seek to destroy God in his envy and hatred of man, as we see in the Crucifixion, nor would it suffice for him to simply erase Him from mankind's collective memory, as we see in the near global denial of His Glorious Resurrection in the body. To seek to destroy God and all trace of Him from men's hearts is not enough. What the Devil seeks to do, surely, is to take His place, to be enthroned, not simply in men's hearts and souls by causing their rebellion against God, but to pursue his ultimate ambition of mockery of the Divine by being worshipped and enthroned in the very Body that is his destroyer, the Catholic Church, She who has been given power over the demons, to cast out devils, to vanquish the enemy of God and mankind. Remember what he proposed to Jesus as he showed Him the kingdom's of the world...
'All this I will give you, if only you would fall down and worship me!'
It seems so ridiculous to us that this proposition should be given to the Son of God, for we wonder how it is that Satan could ever entertain that God, in His Sacred Humanity, even after weeks of bodily deprivation in the wilderness, would consider worshipping the Devil. We know that Christ's obedience to the Father was perfect and found its highest perfection in suffering. We know that in a moment of triumph and solemn victory, the Lord vanquished Satan in a manner that would prefigure the moment when the prince of this world was cast down, as Jesus was raised up on the Cross.
We know that for Jesus Christ, no good, not a single moral good, not even the good of solving world hunger by simply turning stones into bread, could ever be achieved by co-operation with the Evil One, the source of all the sin and disobedience in the whole world, beginning with the sin of Adam and Eve.
Faithful Catholics know that there can be no 'co-mixture' of Christ and the Devil. There can, similarly for the Church which is His Spouse, be no good outcome to co-operation with Evil. This can be affirmed unequivocally, without the hint of embarrassment or shame on our behalf. If the good end was the healing of every sickness in the world but the price was worshipping the devil, we would have to reject the good end out of hatred for the evil means. We really are called by Christ to reject evil, even when, as evil, as it does most convincingly and persuasively of all, masquerades or masks itself as good.
Yet, and yet, we Catholics know that we, as soldiers of Christ, are easily deceived and, unless we are vigilant - vigilant in prayer - we cannot guarantee that we will do likewise as our Master and Lord. In fact, the time is coming - and is already here - when for even the Successors of the Apostles, the Successor of St Peter, the Church in Her Hierarchy, in Her ultimate moment of testing in the wilderness of the modern age, could very well fail the test and deny Her Lord.
We behold the mystery of Christ's temptation in the wilderness and our minds cannot conceive of the moment in which the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity was presented with those three subtly evil suggestions by the Prince of darkness. The Lord who answers the defeated Satan, conquers, saying:
'It is written, thou shalt love the Lord thy God and worship Him alone!'
The Lord is majestic in His victory as Satan falls like lightning from his lofty place at the pinnacle of Jerusalem, before leaning on the Angels who feed Him, their King, their Creator, yet true Man, like us in all things save for sin.
Indeed, we cannot fathom the moment in historical time that Our Lord, physically weakened is 'put to the test' yet the Father would not have permitted this scene, were it not possible for Christ in His human nature, to be tempted. While the outcome is thankfully guaranteed by Christ's perfect obedience, we are faced with a certain knowledge that He Who is without sin died for sinners, established His Church on sinners upon whom He would grant the grace to become Saints, but only if they remained faithful unto Death.
For surely, it would not be a moment of true testing were it impossible for the Son of God to know temptation, even if that temptation was to be by Him, rejected outright. And so we rejoice with the Angels that Our Lord, full of grace and truth, thrice rejected the Father of lies for our Salvation. But the Church? The Church of St Peter? The Church of the Rock who denied Jesus Christ thrice, even if after repenting, strengthened the brethren and owned Him Lord three times in loving affection?
When we talk of the Church which is the Body of Christ which walks the Earth, mystically joined to the Church in Heaven and united with the Suffering Church in Purgatory, shall we not acknowledge that we have been shown that unless we are totally reliant and trust emphatically in Christ, loving the will of the Father, that what we see as the historical guarantee of Christ's own rejection of the Enemy, by virtue not merely of His Divinity, but by virtue of his perfect love and obedience for the Father and for mankind, namely His Perfect Faith, may not be imitated by the Church?
Quite simply, we are not God. The Bride is not the Bridegroom. And so we see now the great mystery of the Catholic Church called in all ways to be like Her Divine Spouse, yet capable of betrayal of Her Lord, capable of adultery, idolatry, even of consorting with demons. And instead of being captor and slayer of the infernal angels could the Catholic Church, in temptation, consider uniting with the fallen angels in a common purpose, feeding the world bread, yet giving the world stones upon which their souls will stumble and choke?
Would the contemporary Catholic Church abandon Jesus Christ to end world hunger, or, rather, compromise with evil under the binding but empty promise of the Devil's agents that this goal could be achieved by succumbing to apostasy? For world peace and unity would She do the same? Or for religious unity and fraternal union with pagans and those who deny Christ? Today I suggest that it is more likely today than any other time, for the modern Church, in her members, especially in authority, knows not what She is for but for a minority who are Faithful.
Every age blasphemously asks Jesus Christ to come down from the Cross but none in the manner as our own.
'If you are the Son of God, come down from your Cross!'
'He saved others but could not save Himself!'
Do we not hear, in these sentences sentence being pronounced on those who say them? Do we not also hear in these cries, the cries of the Devil a s if speaking through men...
'Come down, Jesus, come down, it is not fitting that the Godhead should suffer. You cannot be Lord, for what Lord, clothed in Majesty and light, terrible and mighty in deeds, majestic in holiness, would humiliate himself by permitting Himself to be crucified by His own creatures, His very own people? If you are the Lord, come down, show forth your might, rebuke the nails that hold you fastened in love! What good can this death achieve?'
Yes, it is the same voice.
'If you are the Son of God...'
Yet the same voice is heard today. It is growing louder and louder...
'If you are the Church, if you belong to God then obey the world, be like the world. Tolerate sin, ignore the moral law! These things, these doctrines belong to past times! Use our language and adopt our slogans. Imitate the world. Embrace equality. Embrace our conceptions of diversity. Accept every sexual union as natural, healthy and good. Accept the false beliefs and false religions that rival the One True Church! Bless that which is sinful! Come down from your Cross, since you are a living rebuke to the demons, to the world, to the flesh! We are all terrified of your Cross and what it means for us!
If you are the Church...If you are the Church...if you love mankind tear down your Crosses! Glory no longer in the Holy Cross but be ashamed of it, despise it, since it can bring you nothing but embarrassment and pain! Glorify the flesh, exalt the flesh! Worship us, the demons instead! For what use is a crucified God to mankind!? What good! What good is Heaven to man if on earth he must suffer pain, hunger, suffering, want, mental illness, physical sickness, war, environmental degradation, tyranny, malnutrition? Above all, mankind cannot be asked to do that which doesn't come naturally to him, to change, to repent and to embrace this Cross! Instead, ignore the spiritual crisis afflicting man and his inner turmoil and conflict and let the Church instead focus alone in man's temporal needs! I will give you fame, popularity, success, if only you would fall down, fall down and...'
Yes, behind the debates at the Synod, behind the subtleties, ambiguities and scandals perpetuated by and promoted in Amoris Laetitia, behind the spin and the desperate PR machine at work within the Vatican, we are at this very time witnesses to the great battle between the Church and it's enemy, between Christ and His foe. It rages on and we are all in it. We must choose sides and side firmly with Christ and beg, implore and plead for those who have authority in the Church to choose, as Cardinal Sarah says, God, or Nothing, for in truth Satan can promise nothing that is worthy of any consideration.
They who say that as we worship so do we believe are right. As we believe, so shall we worship. Why should the Church not in every age undergo that same testing with very similar temptations undergone by Her Lord? But the Church now stands in a precarious position. Satan must be refused decisively, he cannot be refused half-heartedly. The Successors of the Apostles have been given spiritual power, along with the Pope to bind and loose men, but not to bind men alone. They have been given power by Christ to bind men for Heaven and the demons for Hell, for as they cried out to Our Lord, 'even the demons were subject to us in your name'. The Church must refuse to compromise with evil, even when it is cleverly and subtly presented as good. Let us worship Christ who has conquered and invoke His Blessed Mother's aid for the Church. May she be strengthened in unity, faith, charity, hope and love for the Truth of Jesus Christ.