Sunday, July 29, 2012

False Teachings

In today's homily, we received a very clear explanation of the dangers of false teachings. The context was the multiplication of loaves and fishes, and Father described a modern rationale which held that what actually happened was the the people gathered had food hidden under their cloaks, and that they brought out and shared the food only because of the lesson of sharing from Jesus. This is clearly the work of some people who do not believe in miracles at all. And if they deny the reality of miracles, then they should not pretend to Catholic faith.

We are all sinners with free will, and we are equipped to make decisions, for good or ill. However, as Catholics, we are called to believe the teachings of Holy Mother Church. Not only the ones we find appealing--all of them.

Many today propose to lead us. Some of these are good and faithful people; many are not. We can know what the Church teaches, as it is all in print, and much is available online, at no cost.

The Church acknowledges invincible ignorance. A person honestly unaware of Church teachings may be innocent of willful sin; a person who knows the teachings, or knows where to find them, and who fails to do so, or who is selective in acceptance of these teachings does not possess invincible ignorance; he is a sinner, and all the more guilty, through his willful failure to acquire the knowledge of his faith.

Finally, as has become abundantly clear to me, we are each of us responsible not only for our own decisions and acts, but for our salvation. We are beloved of God, hence His abundant mercy toward us. However, He has provided teachings, from the prophets, from Jesus, His only begotten son, and finally, from the Church, the Magisterium, charged through Peter to spread the Gospels.

The history of the Church encompasses good times and bad, good leaders and bad. Through all, the Church survives. However, as was said by Sr. Lucy of Fatima: "the devil knows that religious and priests who fall away from their beautiful vocation drag numerous souls to hell." As Cardinal Newman said of the time of the Arian heresy: "The comparatively few who remained faithful were discredited and driven into exile; the rest were either deceivers or deceived." In such times, we must turn to dogma as our anchor.

We are instructed not to judge, but we are held responsible to discern right from wrong. Moreover, we have available the Catechisms: Trent, Baltimore, and the current Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope John Paul II. We can consult any of these for truth. We must consult them in any case of doubt. There is no excuse we can offer for failure to discern, when the day of our final judgment arrives.