Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Letter published in The Catholic Exponent 15 May 2009

To the Editor,
I cannot help but comment on the front-page article in the last edition of the Exponent, titled “Catholics generally optimistic about church,” which presents the results of the 2009 LeMoyne-Zogby survey about trends in the Church. The general trend among Catholics who were polled is positive: close to three-fourths were optimistic about the future of the Church.
The next set of statistics is intriguing. While survey results have a small margin of error and my own observations may not be true 100 percent of the time, there is a striking correlation between this survey, my own experience, and the faith of our Church. Within the survey, those “Catholics who identified themselves as progressive were more likely to be pessimistic,” while “those who identified themselves as ‘orthodox’ Catholics were much more optimistic.”
A “progressive” attitude is commonly understood to include uninhibited creativity, a craving for the new and exciting, a break with history and tradition, and a challenging opposition to established truths. As particular examples, progressive people within the Church today advocate for the “ordination” of women to the priesthood, insist that Pope Paul VI’s teaching against artificial contraception is archaic, clamor for a change in the discipline of clerical celibacy, and water down the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Along with these concerns, there is a notable lack of respect for priests, bishops, the Holy Father, Canon Law and liturgical norms.
It is no wonder that “progressive” Catholics end up pessimistic. When a person identifies himself as belonging to the Church and at the same time embraces a set of beliefs that are contrary to the Church, there is a clear self-centered hypocrisy that naturally ends in frustration. “Progressive” Catholics often believe in, hope for, and even fight for, fabricated notions that are outside of reality. They are running up against a wall – the firmness of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ – and so end up bitter, pessimistic, or disappointed when the folly of their progressive project is revealed and the Church does not give them what they want.
To continue with the previous examples, we can see the sacred realities that frustrate the progressive mind. Even though women possess a unique dignity and bring irreplaceable gifts to the Church, they will never be priests because Jesus chose only men. The unitive and procreative aspects of the marital sexual act cannot be separated if God’s plan for human persons is to be fulfilled. The discipline of celibacy could in theory be altered but for now the Church believes that it is good for her priests. The Eucharist is in fact the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
The Church is not found in progressive agendas that deviate from the teaching of Christ. Instead, as Saint Ambrose taught: “Where there is Peter, there is the Church, and where the Church is, there is everlasting life.” The Church, established by Christ on the rock of Saint Peter, is shepherded, sanctified and taught authentically by the Holy Father and the bishops in communion with him.
It is self-evident that Catholics who remain orthodox, that is, rooted in the unchanging deposit of faith, would have greater reason for hope, optimism and happiness. To be orthodox is to believe in and live the truth that God has established for human fulfillment and salvation, which is revealed in Scripture and Church Tradition. Everyone who embraces that truth, while he may have to endure suffering for the sake of the Gospel, will ultimately find the peace that only God can provide. Imagine the difference that could be made in our world if all who claimed the name of Christian truly lived and defended orthodox faith. The result would real and lasting progress.
Father Matthew J. Albright

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