Is this Train Going to Littlehampton or Brighton?

The triumph of St Thomas Aquinas over the heretics
We are not a ' religion' of ideas, of pure theology, beautiful things, of commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness – who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ - and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives.

The Church is fruitful and a mother when she witnesses to Jesus Christ. Instead , when the church closes in on itself , when it thinks of itself as a - so to speak - 'school of religion', with so many great ideas, with many beautiful temples, with many fine museums, with many beautiful things, but does not give witness, it becomes sterile.

On a train from London to Brighton, you often get this situation at the weekend where you board the train and then discover that at East Croydon, some of the carriages separate from the rest of the train. These go to Littlehampton. The rest of the carriages go to Brighton, so you have to make sure you are in the right part of the train. There's usually a bit of a scramble somewhere along the line. There is a separation and a pairing off, one going one way, the other going another. You have to be careful, otherwise you might end up in Littlehampton!

Alight here for Brighton
I cannot help but think this is a little analagous to the Franciscus papacy. There is a separation going on - a division - that is at the heart of the Pope's theological understanding and which is making its mark felt on the whole Church.

The Church in opposition to 'the real Jesus Christ'?

It can come across sometimes as a separation between Christ on the one hand and the 'institutional' Church on the other. In one sense, when Francis tells us what we are not, I nod in agreement, but in another sense, I do not enjoy the connotations in the reduction that takes place along the way. For example, we are not a 'religion' of ideas, but we are a religion - we have a religion - and it is the One True Faith, the Holy Catholic Faith. Our religion, our dogma is Christ's religion and Christ's dogma, which gives us a measure of 'certainty in all things' (at least those things that pertain to the Faith). This does not stand in opposition to Christ. It is His.  

We are not a religion of beautiful things, yet we have beautiful things, chasubles, candlesticks, altars, sanctuaries, Churches, art, because these things can point us to Christ and communicate Christ. These things we employ to glorify Him. We are not a religion of commandments, but a people who worship God, who belong to Christ, but if we reject the Ten Commandments and the two-fold commandment of Christ to love God and neighbour, we are not faithful to Christ. Christ is God - God gave us the Commandments. We cannot throw them away!

Kasper and Co. Ltd: Demolition Experts?
We are not a 'school of religion' of great ideas, but theology has its place and from this relationship with Christ, great ideas emerge grounded in Him. Great Saints bear witness to that. Our Catholic schools are meant to teach the Catholic Faith, as are our universities. We have a Catechism in order to instruct the Faithful in the doctrines and morals of the Church. We need religious instruction to help us to live and breathe our Faith. We are not a religion of beautiful temples but beautiful temples, Churches, are worthy places for the worship of God. A bare warehouse is not fit for the sublime Sacrifice. The Vatican Museums show forth the splendour of holy art that is able to communicate so wonderfully the Catholic Faith, our history, our sacred and often bloody origins, yet, of course, this is not God and we do not worship this.

Like the Pope, I believe that only Jesus Christ is important, but strip Jesus Christ of His Church - strip Jesus down (which has already happened, of course!)  - and what is there left in order for us to communicate Christ? We would have to find something else but what would that look or sound like? Art, music, liturgy, beauty, theology, catechisms, doctrines, churches, laws, customs, devotions, architecture, schools, universities, hospitals, charitable institutions - all are for the glory of God and communicate Christ and serve the Church, Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Of course, divorced from Jesus Christ, all these things can 'get in the way', if there is no love of Jesus Christ. I think that is what the Holy Father is saying, as Benedict XVI would say, but I do wonder sometimes whether His Holiness is saying that these kind of things to knock them down - to suggest these things run counter to Jesus Christ or 'get in the way' by their very nature. I hope His Holiness is not saying that.

Littlehampton Station
Timetables and Destinations

The Synod on the Family will be our East Croydon. Teachings, doctrines and laws and catechisms - our entire theology - our whole belief system - will likely come under the spotlight and will be openly challenged. Already, Cardinals are asking whether we are going to Littlehampton or Brighton.

Already, two camps are forming among Bishops and Cardinals, with Kasper and his railway crew going one way and Bagnasco and his railway crew going another. Can I see your tickets, please? His Holiness gives the impression that only Jesus Christ is important and that doctrine, law, custom, teaching is of a lesser importance - yet the Synod will address exactly this - because it is so important because the Church belongs to Christ!

Is the train about to divide? Where are we going? Why do I get the feeling we will be rushing for the right department in October when 'the announcement' is made? What will be the correct carriage? Uncertainty and doubt, confusion and consternation, division and infighting is now taking place towards the very summit of the Catholic Church on Earth. Priests and Bishops whose faith is, I expect, 'rock solid' because they have placed their faith firmly on St Peter and His Successors are likely experiencing a profound sense of weakened faith, because nothing feels safe anymore.

The Woman of the Apocalypse flees into the Desert
Apocolypse Now

Everything is starting to feel quite apocalyptic, but I would really like to ask readers to refrain from even suggesting that Pope Francis is the 'false prophet' from the Book of the Apocalypse, even if I understand the fear and consternation generated by the Franciscan pontificate only too well.

Neither do I blame some people for thinking that the prophecies of Maria Divine Mercy, condemned by the Irish Bishops as fraudulent, are 'become exceedingly credible' only because it feels like the walls of the Church could come down upon us come October. If people start to believe that Our Lord and His Mother is talking to an Irish woman who works in PR then it is only because the silliness of the idea is outweighed by the oscillating publicity generated by Pope Francis himself, through statements, interviews, phone calls and who he keeps as close advisors. Those faithful to the Magisterium desperately want the Pope to restrain, correct, refute error, protect, rebuke dissidents, defend the Church and feed the flock of Christ. Instead, Cardinal Kasper's opinions - which are themselves divisive - and some consider downright heretical - are welcomed in an open forum. Despite this, it is neither fair, nor just to describe His Holiness in such manner as the destroyer, the persecutor of the Book of Daniel or the 'false prophet' of Revelation.

On the whole, the message of Fatima says one thing, the Catholic Church something else entirely. Of course, after October, events, be they good, or be they bad, should make everything much, much clearer.

Let us pray for the Vicar of Christ and for those who will convene for the Synod in October, that the fruit of the discussion, overseen and guided by the Holy Ghost, heals the Church and does not rip apart the Body of Christ, made up by those who believe in Him and who are members of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Nothing would destroy faith more than that which we are promised is the glorious Train to Paradise, ends up in either Littlehampton, or, heaven forfend, Brighton!

As a footnote, there appears to be some more mystery emerging today over this homily. What did the Holy Father mean today when he described a member of the Catholic Church as being either a Christian who witnesses to Jesus Christ or 'a numerary of this sect'? We might be useless Christians a great deal of the time, but I would argue we are not 'numeraries in a sect'. Not even Opus Dei are that. The Church is the Bride of Christ. Sandro Magister is already asking, what is prompting His Holiness to use such language?

I've had this song in my head quite a bit today...a nice way to end this train based post. May God give strength to Priests, Bishops, Cardinals so confused and divided at this time and to the Chief Shepherd, His Holiness Pope Francis.We need YOU to be the strong ones! How does he get his voice that high?


Gregory said…
The Great Divide? Francis the Divider, he will not be able to hold the Church together.
We are definitely on the edge of schism, Foot Washing Baptists who are at least faithful to scripture are becoming very attractive, so too Orthodoxy. I'll do my best to stay once I was sure the Catholic Church was True, now I have serious doubts.

Pray for me, please!
Physiocrat said…
The train in the photograph is a class 456, and would not have been going to either Littlehampton or Brighton as they only run in the London area.

If you are going to use railway analogies, there is a wide range of other possibilities, including lengthy diversions, derailments, scrapyards and getting put on an unheated bus and sent a long way round.

As for popes, if you look back over the past 2000 years, not a few of them have been crooks and scoundrels so it is a mistake to have high expectations, or even to pay too much attention to their utterances, unless they are under the conditions for infallibility.
Woody said…
Whoa! When he uses "numerary" I think of my numerary friends in Opus Dei, not, of course, in the derogatory way in which he uses the word. Is this a signal of who gets the next visitation?
tro said…
"I hope His Holiness is not saying that."

Well, the evidence of his antics and scandalous utterances strongly suggests that that is precisely what he is saying.
Anonymous said…
The Catholic Church IS true Gregory, the men and women and their actions is another matter ....

The present time is an extreme manifestation of the weak (and sometimes evil) behaviour of people - especially the leaders - that dwell inside the Church...

I'm not into the False - Prophet stuff - but some kind of devilish infiltration of un-Catholic thinking would appear to have taken hold of many "leaders" in the Church,

But pray I must...despite everything and for many reasons...even if it is requires a real act of will to pray for these men at the top...

I think it is right to have high expectations in matters of the faith and morals from the Supreme Pontiff - he is the Keeper of Truth....and you expect it even more in this day and age of instant mass-media - oh yes a Pope has to be on his toes about the essentials - it's the least he can do ...

so I disagree with you Physiocrat - and IT IS only a few Popes out of 260 something that were really not OK at all...

Last thing - it is extremely hard to ignore Pope Francis - he's the Pop Pope - making the news and headlines everyweek - and here every blessed day! - this has never happened before...has it?

No we live in special's more than a Church my view
viterbo said…
That's a nice analogy. Mine would be that in fact the Frankisites are busily relaying the tracks up ahead so the by the time the train reaches them one is no longer going to Brighton or Littlehampton, but somewhere else all together.

With all his 'we are nots', it sounds like Frankie's been reading the Cloud of Unknowing - we can only conclude by what we do not know. Thanks to 2000 years of the Sacred Deposit of the Faith which includes everything Frankie just said 'we are not', we actually are all those things and more, much more, and would be even much more if we weren't so hell-bent on miserablism and worldliism, and viiism, and protesting the Sacred Deposit of Faith, 'cause lets face it, the vii popes are protestant unarguably because they have protested (and instituted that protest in words and actions) against the Faith that was handed to them. They have concluded that their Father's in Faith were deficient compared with themselves. And Frankie's rhetoric hasn't changed since he canonized his black boots. It is a rhetoric that is re-imagining a Christ and a non-church that actually have little, practically and even theoretically, to do with the Christ of the Cross and the Resurrection - the Christ who's own disciples didn't recognise Him before He 'broke bread'. This is why the dissonance. Even if the understanding of doctrine and dogma did or does 'evolve', what has taken place in a few decades is hardly moving at the pace of evolution.
viterbo said…
p.s. This:

is how 'far' we've come. The above - all those people kneeling at Mass - are what Francis is referring to as 'sectarian numeraries' - shame on him. He is not going to let up until 'Catholic' and 'Faith' are unrecognisable to what they SHOULD be. So when he talks about witnessing,I'm still waiting for Bishop Bergoglio to be a witness to Christ and His salvific Church.I will be very surprised if he ever does start witnessing to anything other than his own jesuitical neo-marxist 'christ' who came, not to save our souls, but to make satan's playground - the world - a 'better' place. Frankie's theology is pure kabbalism. tikkun olam. it is alien from what Christ and His Apostles taught; and all those good things that came into the world because of the salvific Word Incarnate ( Art, music, liturgy, beauty, theology, catechisms, doctrines, churches, laws, customs, devotions, architecture, schools, universities, hospitals, charitable institutions) are the natural by-product, so to say, of following and witnessing to the True Word. A concept Frankie and his cohorts, may, someday, grasp.

p.s.s. @physio - I think the popes who were philanderers and outright crooks were preferable; they were reprobates, but they didn't try to reinvent the Faith to suit their reprobation.

p.s.s.s don't be boiled frogs, people, we are already 'acclimatizing' to this madness - see it for what it is - faithless neo-marxist neo-modernist tripe.
Unknown said…
Here here, Viterbo!! Give me a murderous, perverted, zoophilic pope rather than one who openly refutes the words of Christ and thus divides the Church.

Seattle Kimmy
viterbo said…
@seattle kim. would that the pope would just do the job he's getting paid to do, and flown around the planet in a 'private' plane to do, and put up in a five star hotel on the pew-punters' ticket to do, and basically a kept man to do, and not a new age guru of anti-Catholicism (and other anti-catholic clergy).

for me, the heresy, indifference (and now hatred) of the faith and the faithful of recent popes is surely unequalled. it's just outright dishonest. How honest would one be if one took the job of manager of 'aint they great chocolates Inc.', and secretely harboured a hatred for chocolates and chocoholics? Not honest at all. and as manager, with each new batch bleeding out the cocoa and replacing it with carob (not even, I think it would have to be some non-natural totally lab-cooked up replacement) and pouring out vitriol in ads against those who can tell the difference - yet the cocoa of catholicism is indeed being replaced with some lab-cooked E-flavour and we are supposed to keep quiet and support this betrayal.
Gertrude said…
There is only one part of the train that we should be on, and that is the part that upholds the teaching and magisterium of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I am not the most ardent admirer of our Pope, but I wholeheartedly believe and support the Office he holds. We have had good popes, bad popes, scandalous popes and holy popes. The rock that is Peter remains.
Pope Francis is the 7th pope I have lived under, and by far the most confusing.
I am not convinced that any doctrine will be changed at Synod, but I do worry about the schisms that are appearing both in the clergy and in the laity.
There are many unrealistic expectations vested in this pope and I fear many are going to be disappointed.
Our forefathers kept the faith - we must do likewise.
Unknown said…
What a groovy chocolate analogy! I'm hungry now.