“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
“Hold fast to the traditions which you were taught” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:8)
Much is being said about certain changes introduced to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, liturgy, certain ordinary customs, and even the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Most of us are familiar with how the myriad of Protestant denominations, cults, sects, and individuals outside the Catholic communion “evolve” their doctrine. Nothing is out of bounds, nothing is untouchable, nothing is sacred, anything can change to “adapt to the times” in a frantic search to create a designer Christian doctrine that will not hurt the sensibilities of the fickle and the perpetually offended. In that particular world everyone behaves as if George Washington should run after Benedict Arnold shouting: “Wait, Benny I pray! I will change my ways, I will modify my strategy, please don’t leave!”
The Bishop of Rome and all the other Bishops are the custodians of doctrine, not the owners. We Catholics are not blind people being led by the blind. We are following a doctrine received from God the Father through Christ, whom we confess to be God The Son Incarnate. That doctrine is not a series of general principles but a tool designed for the salvation of mankind. Said doctrine was given in a very compact form, prepared to unfold and develop under the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. In itself, the integrity and perfection of the Catholic doctrine is proof of its divine origin.
That divine doctrine conforms a defined body of principles and commandments that applies to all men, at all times in history, everywhere in the world. That is the essence of the word “catholic” — not merely universal in a geographical way — but also eternal in time, unchangeable in everything that pertains to the mission of saving souls. It radiates from Calvary both in time and space, as constant as any of the other divine laws that govern the universe.
When St. Peter started being too chummy with the Judaizers, his fellow bishops, most notably St. Paul, quickly put him in his place. That ended being recorded in Scripture as certainly not one of Peter’s brightest moments. Here St. Paul describes how it happened.
“For by God’s power I was made an apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was made an apostle to the Jews. James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, recognized that God had given me this special task; so they shook hands with Barnabas and me, as a sign that we were all partners. We agreed that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they among the Jews. All they asked was that we should remember the needy in their group, which is the very thing I have been eager to do. But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?’” (Galatians 2:11-14 NIV)
In the Protestant world, personal opinion rules sovereign. Luther, Calvin, and others may have had their own opinions about predestination, salvation, sin, baptism, marriage, consubstantiation, and much more but they died and other men that had their own opinions inherited their “churches”. Generation followed generation and now, five centuries after the schism, Lutherans and Calvinists not only preach a doctrine radically different from the one they received from their rebellious forefathers, they have divided into thousands of confessions and creeds. In some of those groups one can hardly find a connection to the original Christian doctrine.
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” (St. Jude 1:3 NIV)
We live in a time of confusion and I pray Our Lord will take pity on us and not allow it to last long. I think Catholics that are well formed in the faith are aware that the present situation is a sign of God’s impending intervention. Only Our Lord can fix this unnatural mess by supernatural means.
Our part is to pray for Him to say one more time: “Let there be light.”