QUESTIONS CONCERNING PREMISES OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
by Fr. Tom Collins
Over the past two centuries, the Church has been under a relentless attack by those intent on ridiculing and destroying the Faith through the diabolical dynamic of dialectical materialism, the promotion of perverted pursuit of pleasure, and the desecrating cynicism of secularism. Sadly, those intent on bringing the Catholic Faith into harmony with the expectations of secular society have even found sympathizers among the Church’s hierarchy and among leaders in many Catholic institutions of higher learning. One of the most effective strategies in this campaign has been to hijack the interpretation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, so as to make Catholics more amenable to the agendas of the Culture of Desecration and Death. The degree to which this strategy has been able to detour the Church’s life, teaching and ministry from her commission to evangelize the world can be clarified by raising certain questions for discernment, such as the following:
Is it possible for the Church to embrace authentic renewal without being immersed in authentic repentance?In responding to these questions, it should be noted that Vatican II, as a pastoral council, was directed by the Holy Spirit to clarify and to serve the truth of God’s Word by the obedience of faith and in organic harmony with the magisterial teaching of the Church. Obfuscation and equivocation do not clarify or serve the truth, since truth can only be salvific when it becomes tangibly incarnate. Through the Person, mystery and ministry of Jesus Christ, divine truth becomes tangible and incarnate as a transformative dynamic. Thus it must be received with a sincere repentance, a reverent humility, a discerning docility and an obedient fidelity to truth.
Is repentance an occasional event in the life of each Catholic and of the universal Church, or is it the regenerative dynamic, which continually opens humanity to the riches of divine mercy?
Are Catholics to call humanity to repentance by inviting people to join with us in sharing the regenerative gift of ongoing repentance and reconciliation, whereby we grow in docility to the whole Word of God?
Does the Holy Spirit ever effect renewal in the Church without infusing a sincere and efficacious repentance into the souls of the faithful?
To what degree were prayer and fasting/mortification invested into the discernment of the pastoral needs and opportunities addressed by the Council?
Can the Church go through authentic renewal through pastoral care guided by prayer and feasting rather than the traditional discipline of prayer and fasting?
Do the premises of the historical critical methodology of exegesis require that we critique the Holy Scriptures before we can allow the Holy Scriptures to critique our premises, perspectives and purpose?
If Vatican II was initiated in a spirit of hubris, rather than one of repentant humility, and its teachings were received in a spirit of hubris, rather than one repentant humility, can those teachings efficaciously generate repentant humility in the lives of those who receive them?
Was it pastorally prudent to downplay the importance of the spiritual vigilance, which is required to recognize and address the clear and present dangers of serious sin, which threaten the souls of all, especially the unrepentant, with the prospect of eternal damnation?
Are we merely saved by the mercy of God, or are we also continually sustained by that mercy?
Are our repentance, faith and fidelity ever so adequate so as to have evolved beyond the need to be supplemented by God’s gracious mercy?
Were the documents of Vatican II the consequence of theological compromises or the fruit of careful discernment and clarification of the truth of Christ?
Is the proclamation of eternal truth, graciously enhanced by Divine Revelation, to be limited by the parameters of what society considers relevant, meaningful and acceptable?
Is the guiding principle for human development evolution or evocation (i.e., the expression of human desires or the response to God’s gracious invitation to be immersed into the mystery and ministry of divine intimacy)?
Can we legitimately identify renewal and spiritual progress in terms of our ability to become more adept at adapting to and adopting the values guiding the development of secular society?
Is the Church sent forth to proclaim the Gospel of Christ as the saving truth of God, or merely to propose the Gospel as an important dimension of that truth?
Is the terminology used in the Council documents to be understood literally or in a way that is so equivocal and ambiguous as to be amenable to the ever-evolving values and agendas of people and their societies?
Is the Eucharist merely the source and summit of the Church’s life, or is the Person and Paschal dynamic of the Eucharistic Christ the source, sustenance and summit of her life and worship?
Is evangelization a transformative proclamation of Truth or merely the incremental sharing of meaningful and relevant spiritual insights with non-Christians?
Is the saving dynamic of spiritual regeneration guided in accordance with the norms of subjective values or in accordance with the norms of objective virtues?
Is our ministry to the poor best understood in terms of power or in terms of reverence? Do we enhance their dignity by empowering them or by reverencing and fellowshipping with them in accord with the unique gracious gift each of them is to all of us?
Is the splendor of truth being limited by the parameters of relevance and meaning established by the Culture of Desecration and Death through the tyranny of political correctness?
Should evangelization degenerate from a transformative proclamation of salvific truth into the incremental sharing of how the Gospel of Christ gives new relevance to people’s feelings, perspectives and insights?
Are prayer and fasting to be widely replaced by prayer and feasting, thus degrading the appreciation of spiritual truth from an attitude that inspires sincere convictions into one that promotes wishful thinking and a codependent compassion?
Can the Catholic Church be salvific without insisting that Catholics be true to incarnating in their lives and relationships the covenantal commitments it proclaims and celebrates?
Can a family, including a church family, truly be united in love without both incarnating that love in tangible disciplines and holding each of its members accountable to those disciplines?
Since authentic evangelization is rooted in proclaiming the truth in love, are those who deform the truth in order to conform it to the expectations and demands of the unrepentant being faithful to their mission to inform people of the whole truth of God?
Although we are not to accuse people of sin, is it right to refuse to proclaim the need for sincere repentance, so as to confuse people regarding their solemn duties and to excuse them from and culpability for neglecting those duties?