Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sermon of Fr. Gerard for the 24th Sunday After Pentecost

The parable of the weeds among the wheat, the weeds are sometimes called cockle, is a very good example of the nature of the Kingdom of heaven. Our Lord took many examples from agriculture because the people with who he dealt were for the most part either farmers or herdsmen and so they understood those parables which were expressed in terms of the things that they knew. Now this particular kind of weed, in the beginning, looked very much like the shoots of wheat coming up and only after they had grown up for some time that it would become evident that there was a difference, that something else was growing among the wheat and if both were harvest together, this particular kind of weed made the flour ground from it and the wheat very bitter, and perhaps even poisonous. So it was a great misfortune to have weeds among the wheat because it ruined the crop, basically, and because the seeds would fall on the ground, more of it would come up for a long time. Now these servants were very zealous for their master, they wanted to make sure that this problem was corrected as soon as possible so that they would root out these weeds. But their master was wiser because he knew if they pulled out the weeds, it would uproot the wheat also and so he said: “No, let them continue to grow until the harvest, and then we will separate one from the other.” Of course, this also bears reference to the Church where God allows the bad to grow along side the good and at the last judgment, he will separate them and the bad will go to their punishment and the good will go to their reward.

But today’s Gospel also can be looked at as a solution to the question as to why God has permitted heresy and schism in the past and why it exists to this day. There have always been heresies and schisms in the Church, even in the earliest centuries. In the second century, I think, there was already a heresy and there was an anti-pope, even that early so soon after the death of the Apostles. At the we know that nothing happens, without permission at least, of God’s divine providence but why does God permit something which is the worst of all evils, because faith is the most important of all virtues and heresy is therefore the worst of all evils, which threatens with eternal damnation all those who adhere to it. We can consider a number of reasons why God permits this evil.

First to prove the virtue of true Christians, not all those in the Church are true believers. There are those who accept some of the dogmas of the faith while they reject others, some believe in times prosperity but fall away in times of adversity, some pretend to believe for motives other than that of faith (a good example of that would be that of a lady known as Beladad, who was a communist organizer who had influenced at least a thousand young men to enter the seminaries back in the 1940’s, maybe in the 1950’s and so they went to the seminaries and learned all the studies, but they had another intention, that of infiltrating the Church and when the time came after Vatican II, they showed their true colors and went along with everything. Perhaps some of them went off to South America and were involved in the liberation theology movement there which caused great harm to the Church.)

God also permits the existence of heresy, as contradictory as it might seem, for the purification of the Church to remove Christians who are not consistent in their faith. They are so given over to pleasures that they long to hear someone teaching that there is no need for mortification, that hell does not exist, there is no point in going to confession, all religions are equal in God’s sight and that their religion is an interior thing, and so on. Some of these points are the exact things quoted or the exact excuses used by those who chose to go along with the changes of Vatican II because no longer were they obliged to fast and to do penance or observe abstinence, that was optional following Vatican II. The thrust of the teaching of Vatican II is that everybody goes to heaven, and so therefore Hell does not exist. The ecumenism of Vatican II definitely teaches that all religions are equal in God’s sight, that there is good in all of them, according to the Vatican II principle, they seek to cultivate the good, what about all the error that is forgotten in a false sort of charity?

The permission of heresy and schism to exist also purifies the Church from scandals from without. How easily theses can do much harm by false teachings seducing those who live in the True Faith. They are also permitted by God for the progress of dogma in the Church. This is one of the greatest benefits that the Church has received from the existence of heresy. The more precise explanation and definition of her teachings. Faced with Arianism, she studied more closely the dogma of the Trinity, which was clearly explained and defined and there were a number of other heresies which touched on the nature of God which were also explained and defined by the Church. Against the Novatians, who refused absolution to apostates, that is those who had given in under torture or the threat of death to the persecutors of the Church, the Novatians said that they should not be received back to the Church. But on the contrary, the doctrine of the sacrament of penance was defined. All sins are capable of forgiveness, as long as the person repents. Against Luther, the dogma of Justification was defined by the Council of Trent, as well as other doctrines attacked by the Protestants. These were clearly explained in great detail by the Council of Trent.

Heresy and schism also tends to purify the lives of the just. In the 15th chapter of St. John’s Gospel we read, “The branch that yields no fruit in me he cuts away, the branch that does yield fruit he trims clean so that it may yield more fruit.” Heresy provides occasion for the greater fruitfulness of the just. We have Councils because heresy provides the occasion for them and they do not merely study theoretical questions but also disciplinary measures to renew the daily life of the Church. For example, in the Council of Trent there is a book of the decrees and canons of the Council of Trent, which were a true reformation of the Church from within instead of the reformation which Martin Luther tried to carry out by revolting against the Church and throw away most of her doctrine and practice.

Heresy and schism brings about the greater vigilance because the danger of them increases the watchfulness and zeal of the just in defense of the truth, which they see to be threatened. It also increases in the just the life of virtue since they react against the attacks made on them by error. Especially when it casts into their faces the thoughts it observes in their actions so in the time of Martin Luther, when he was attacking the Church for abuses that existed, the Church corrected them and those who were members of the Church either were punished for their behavior or amended their lives. Also the force of example comes out in the time of error, heresy and schism. The mutual help given in time of error and persecution, the warning of falls, even in those whom the faithful do not expect to fail and there is also the punishment of the wicked. This is another reason why God permits heresy and schism.

In the Apocalypse, we are told that: “Almighty God will take the light of faith from him who does not practice charity.” St. John wrote to one of the bishops of that time and warned him because he had fallen away from his first fervor and that if he did not renew his fervor his land would be taken away from it’s place and he would be punished for his luke-warmness.

The great heresy of our own day is Modernism. It was identified and condemned in great detail by Pope St. Pius X. Well, it apparently submitted to the condemnation and corrected themselves, in reality the heresy went into hiding and in many cases continued to spread it’s tentacles through the Church especially in the Seminaries. In the 1930’s they were already starting to preach heresy in the seminaries. When enough of its adherents had risen to positions of influence and power in the Church, it blossomed forth again in the Second Vatican Council and its documents of those promoting religious liberty and ecumenism, which were also condemned by Popes Pius IX and Pius XI. Its evil fruits ripened in the years after Vatican II with the destruction of the Mass and the sacraments and the subsequent loss of faith of many Catholics and the exodus of tens of thousands of priests and religious from rectories, convents, and monasteries. All this was predicted by St. Paul in his Second letter to the Thelogians where he foretold a revolt or apostasy, which would precede the coming of the man of sin, the antichrist, who will reign in the world for a time before the last coming and final judgment of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Even many Protestants today see many signs of the apocalypse.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

No comments: