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Those who are constantly within the Church but fighting in the Church, protesting against her doctrines and disciplines, will not make much spiritual progress. Discontented, acting against Christ Who has given us the Pope to guide us, and the other Catholic Bishops, the dissenters should do what Saint Peter did before Christ. He surrendered to Christ and to His Will, just as the Saints have, through the ages, in love and obedience. Surrender is the 'key' to joy in Christ.
It is a tragedy, greater than most Catholics realise, that in Europe, including England, it is almost seen as normal Catholic practice to be opposing the constant teaching of the Church, founded by Christ to teach us, and complaining about the disciplines imposed by those in the Church, especially the Pope, who have authority from Christ to impose them.
A hard-hearted person has a heart as strong and unyielding as the thick ice in the garden in winder, on the bird table. He has little humility or compassion, and is only too happy to declare: "Why should I do what the Pope tells me to do?" or, "Why should I forgive that friend?", or, "Why doesn't that Doctor do what I want?" These proud, unforgiving people are simply un-Christlike.
God sets free from foolish ideas those who love Christ, believe in the teachings of the Church, and faithfully try to practice them, guided by the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops. Catholics who constantly grumble about teaching and discipline displease Christ, are unfair to the Popes, and distress faithful Catholics who are rightly shocked by public dissent, witnessed by the Church's enemies.
A little child can scream for attention, and dispute every instruction from his mother, so ending up alone and miserable - or he can co-operate, and experience her companionship, her wise words, and her consolations; and so it is in the Church. A Catholic can disbelieve parts of the Faith, grumble about discipline, speak with hostility about the Pope, and become a slave to his own opinions, or he can choose to co-operate with God and the Church, and in that trust and obedience find not slavery but freedom, and joy, and peace of soul, and hope.
There is a distorted or truncated version of the Catholic Faith which is widely taught today. It is the evil one who wants people to hear that they can disregard the sure teachings of the Church on sexual morality, neglect her devotions, down-play reverence towards the Holy Eucharist, ignore Christ's ever-Virgin Mother, and look upon the Pope as having no authority unless each of his acts delights all of the Bishops.
A priest who is dispirited about the state of the Church should resist temptations to leave and to enjoy earthly pleasures. By the altar, he can receive power from God, to help him to renew the Church, and to encourage people towards obedience to God, sound Catechesis, profound reverence in prayer, and respect for the Pope, as well as love for the needy.
It is a blessing that we now have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church to help us. Christ asks all of us to repent of our sins. But if some of the Clergy are arguing about what is sinful and what is not, they are hampering the Church's mission and failing to imitate their Divine Saviour. They are ignoring the teaching of the Pope and Bishops who have given us the Catechism to guide us.
Christ loves and honours His beloved Mother Mary. He wants us to love and honour her, and to give her special honour in and through the Church. He delights in seeing Popes and Bishops set an example in this, by their sincere prayers and other acts of devotion at Marian shrines, and before images of Our Blessed Lady.
There were people who hoped to cast off ancient beliefs, customs and disciplines, after the Second Vatican Council. For two generations, many Catholics have built a new 'road' for themselves to walk on, with their modernist ideas, and lack of reverence both for the Sacred Tradition and for the Real Presence of Christ amongst His People - and for the Pope, who leads us, by the Will of Christ.
Modernists have used the Second Vatican Council's decrees as a means of demanding more change in the Church than the decrees themselves allow. They have built a new road for themselves to walk upon, but have left behind the Holy Spirit. He is active, but in the heart and mind of the Pope, who guides the truly faithful souls on the Way of Christ, which winds around the path made by the extremists.
The Church's doctrine about the importance of the Papacy is so firm, that it's as if Christ has been calling out to His followers, all through the ages, "STAY WITH PETER!" No-one is a faithful Catholic who has cut himself adrift from the Pope.
We please Christ whenever we act to help and encourage priests in their vocation. We also please Him when we encourage those priests who love to celebrate the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. It is Christ Who has always loved the Mass He instituted, and also developed through His Spirit; and it is Christ Who has inspired Pope Benedict to allow priests the freedom to offer Mass in the Traditional manner.
Christ asks all priests to treat one another as brothers in the Priesthood, united in love for Him and for the Mass, and never making life uncomfortable or more difficult for those of them who prefer one form of Mass to another. Christ shows us, through the Pope, that both the Novus Ordo and the 'Extraordinary Form' of the Mass are to be respected as valid, and offered with reverence and love.
We must trust in Christ's gift to us of the Pope, successor to St. Peter, if there should be a need of clarifications of passages of the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Even untrained lay-persons can see that some phrases and passages are ambiguous; and so we can count on the Pope to explain these in a way faithful to the teaching of the Church through the ages.
Some Catholics spread distorted beliefs through emotive speech and amusing stories; but Christ knows that the 'wheat and tares' are growing in the Church, side by side. If the weeds are a danger to the Church, the 'wheat' keeps growing, for example, the 'wheat' of the wise teaching of Pope Benedict in his books, interviews and homilies.
God pours down His gifts from Heaven so that we can use them in the service of the Church and the world, just as Pope John Paul II did. If we use the gifts for personal fulfilment rather than to fulfil God's plans, it's as if we are building a roof over our lives, to avoid seeing God's wishes. We make a notice that says to Him: "Keep Out".
God looks from Heaven upon the Earth, and sees the long line of Popes whom He has appointed to be leaders of the other Bishops and of the Church. He sees that although all have been faithful to the Tradition, some have been silent when they should have spoken and allowed evil to flourish. Jesus is the model for all Popes: gentle with the weak but bold in correcting serious faults or misunderstandings.
When we talk about the Magisterium we mean that it is Christ Who has given us the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops, to teach us the truth handed on in Sacred Scripture and in the Sacred Tradition. They teach us right from wrong. To spend a life-time arguing about their sure teaching is to waste valuable time, which we could have spent striving for holiness in the service of God and neighbour.
Every Pope deserves our prayers. Each Pope who faithfully fulfils his duties works to save people from the pit: to bring them to know and love Christ, or to renew their knowledge and love. He follows Christ in the office of Saint Peter, and often does so despite the physical and emotional cost. He has a world-wide flock, which is the Catholic Church.
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