The New Evangelization is an important task for the Church as we seek to communicate, fruitfully, the Gospel. That is a task that cannot be accomplished by human wisdom or human effort alone. Rather man must submit to God as both the means and the end of this mission. I would like to reflect therefore on the principle ways God seeks to communicate His Law and Himself to the human race, Gentile or Jew.
Fear and Manipulation
George Orwell wrote in the book “1984” a solid representation of how language can be used to twist and conform minds to submission in a totalitarian regime. This totalitarian regime would remove particular words from the dictionary and common rhetoric of society, in order to limit the intellectual freedom of the people, their curiosity and therefore their ability to consciously discern or think anything contrary to “Big-Brother.” In our Church today we see a similar trend in the change-of-language. It is the case that language can change, so long as the meaning is not left behind, and this often needs to happen. However, sometimes when language is changed to be considered “less offensive” what actually is happening to the language is not necessarily becoming a better vehicle to communicate the truths of the gospel, but rather a means to obscure it and foster ambiguity. Softening the language around issues of “heresy” and “same-sex disorders,” “conscience” and “contraception,” really comes down to avoiding difficult truths. People consciously want to change the language, perhaps because on another level they want to actually change the teaching. The moral law is no longer considered to be a dimension of the good-news, but is rather perceived as a source of despair. Big Brother is the personal force, whereby this agenda comes to fruition, and the minds of the people are dulled and stupefied by a watering down and generalization of important logical categories. In order to accomplish this, Big Brother, the totalitarian leader of his society, spied and constantly “over-saw” the people. Some might suggest that this method of control was ordered to make people “fear” and therefore submit. In reality, while there is truth to this notion, I would add that it was also likely that Big-Brother was afraid of what he couldn’t control, and thus motivated out of his own anxiety began to manipulate, twist words, all as a power-struggle.
According to Fr. Robert Barron, and many spiritual masters, at the root of all pride/sin is an inordinate fear towards God. We perceive on some level (consciously or unconsciously) that God doesn’t really love us, and we have to seek out our happiness according to our own judgment (the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil). If however we were to ascribe to God’s commandments with unfailing and loving trust we would receive the gift of what scripture calls, “the obedience of faith.” That is to say that obedience is predicated of faith, wherein through faith we are capable of a loving-obedience. One that without full understanding nonetheless abides in God no matter what He commands us. This offers us a decisive and contrary view to a totalitarian, manipulative dictator. God does not so much coerce us, except by the natural consequences of our own actions. That is to say that God allows for a natural and good fear to exist within us, but it isn’t one that is born out of His own fear (He fears nothing), but rather it is for our own good. A child fears falling off a cliff or being hit by a car while crossing the road. These fears are healthy and they demonstrate an appreciation for the gift of life itself. They are also not disproportionate, as one who fears things in an obsessive manner or in a defective manner might be said to suffer from a mental illness. God however also respects our freedom, and rather than manipulating us through the twisting of our language, He rather communicates to us in a concrete fashion. He literally puts it in stone, starting with Moses.
Discerning Infallibility from Error
And so the benevolence of God seeks to foremost communicate His law and ultimately Himself to us, and he does this through the created universe, with which we belong. Therefore “communication” is an essential dimension for us to reflect upon. God communicates to us, and this communication itself, as both a means and an end, are of incredible importance. For if we “play-with” or “fool-around” or “tweak” God’s method of communication with us, we objectively distort His “saving” message and pay the logical consequences. We must also keep in mind that amidst this call to communicate and preserve God’s communication of “Divine Teaching,” that there is a conscious and morally-evil person who seeks to do nothing but distort and confuse us. While this may describe members of the human family, who certainly have the wit and the capacity to be fully aware of their own manipulative techniques, we remember that the master of it all is ultimately “the” Deceiver: Lucifer.
Therefore we have three voices in our lives that are fallible: ourselves, our world, and Demons. God who speaks to us through the Church’s Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition is and ought to be understood, not through the lens of man, but through the authority of God. Therefore we must trust God to reveal to us Truth through the Church, and not in us “shaping” and opting for paradigm shifts within the Church herself, both in regards to the “means” and the “end” of the Gospel, since God determines both, through the docile-cooperation of His Church.
Creating and Twisting
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (who has requested to be referred to as Father Benedict, spoke of how the Divine Liturgy was not to be distorted by man’s own theological speculations and creativity. Let us leave this, for the moment as a mere principle without applying it to anything in particular. We often apply these principles without also considering many other numerous factors, and so I wish to drill into our minds the principles before apply them too broadly. We know that God does use the creativity of man while it also is a revelation of God, simultaneously. We see this in the various texts of scripture, each having their own genre and style of composition representing the personality of the writer and Divine teaching. God and man are united in a spiritual unity that enables God to infallibly speak through sacred scripture and dogmatic/definitive statements that come from the Church. Therefore, we are not to understand the term “creative” as a repressive application against man’s freedom to build the Kingdom of God. Rather we must examine what we do in fact mean by “creative.”
There are two senses that we can discuss when reflecting on how the Church can both become fruitful and become fruitless through the creative energies of man. For it was man who through malicious creativity built something as ugly and vile as a cross. Man also created a nuclear bomb, genocide, and many other horrible things that twist and disfigure the dignity of human life and place us at odds with a God of love. Even through innocent-human error we discover evils that result from our creative tendencies. When man advances in the sciences without also bridling his application of such knowledge to the discipline of wisdom (or genuine philosophy) we see this problem recapitulated.
The second type of creativity is one that participates in fellowship with the Creator. He does not want us to ever create apart from his own Wisdom and will. In J.R Tolkien’s books, evil cannot really or truly be a “creative-force” it can only pretend to do such things. One of the figures in his books, who represents Satan, manages to twist and distort the nature of the Elves in such a way that he creates what is perceived to be an entirely different race: the goblins. He does this through torture. This operates as a parable for the Church’s teaching on what “evil is” or rather, what it is not. Evil as St. Aquinas teaches is the “privation” of the good. To St. Augustine he more aptly describes it as the “twisting” of good. They are both correct, but are saying the same thing in a different manner. It all comes down to mimicking what George Orwell synthesizes in “1984” as a manipulation of truth and its distortion. Neither the devil or human beings have the capacity to create from nothing. We are unable to create anything totally original. That is a prerogative and power that ultimately belongs to God alone. Man can create from what already exists, but in reality he cannot conjure a new substance or a new being from nothing. In this regard, creatures (angels or humans) are limited. In the mind of a prideful and arrogant person, this limitation seems to be a source of agitation since his will is ordered towards becoming God. But since he is powerless to ever bring such a reality about, he instead does the “next-best-thing.” That is, he fosters the façade/illusion that he is creating something new. When people perceive and experience a reality that “seems” or “feels” new they are often intrigued because man’s nature is such that he is inclined towards all things that come from the Creator; anything new is a possible discovery of beauty. But only God makes all things new.
Now with all this said, let us take a step back and ask ourselves: if the enemy wants to distort God’s message (of His law, and His very self) how is he going to go about doing this? What in particular is he going to attack? He will attack the very signs/symbols or sacraments of the Church.
Sacraments: God’s means of Communication
There are two specific categories that we can address when discussing sacraments. Sacraments first of all are a visible/tangible sign that communicates an invisible reality or grace. We might describe the invisible reality as the Logos (the Word) or God Himself. Sometimes we are speaking of God and other times we are speaking about earthly things or even the application of God to earthly things (such as the moral law).
The first category of sacraments would be all of creation itself. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that all of creation together, and all things in particular, communicate to us God’s own self insofar as an effect tells us something about the cause. It certainly does not exhaust God’s essence (nothing finite can), but it does communicate to us, in a limited way God’s Identity. Although a painting tells us very little about the painter, we might notice that its beauty exists within the artist. Therefore, seeing the beauty and goodness of creation we discover that the Creator must have goodness and beauty within Himself. On the natural level we have two more categories: conventional signs and natural signs. Natural signs exist in the “nature of the thing itself.” That is to say that there are objective signs within nature that communicate to us various truths. Doctors use these signs to at times decipher the health of a body. Meteorologists use them to predict the weather. This ultimately leads us to a scientific distinction between an effect and its cause, or cause in relation to its effect (with regard to temporal matters). Conventional signs are fostered through the usage of reasoning as an attempt to communicate an invisible truth. For example, a man in one country might buy his wife flowers, while in another country he may buy her a bottle of vodka. Both may be attempting to communicate the same truth, but they do it through different signs. Another example is the difference between a bow and a handshake. Cultural ways of communicating truths are not of themselves bad “if” they are ordered to right-reasoning. Nonetheless, for the sake of discussion I would prefer, at this point, to reflect on how God is revealed through nature. According to Scripture and Church Tradition, God can be known through the beauty of the created world. However in the Creation narrative there is a pinnacle of creation which points beyond itself in a manner that surpasses all other things in the universe, and that is in Mankind itself. God describes the whole created universe as good, but describes Adam and Eve, woman and man, as “very good.” Therefore our first “go-to” source of reflection on how God communicates Himself to us is through the very creation of man and woman, husband and wife: natural marriage itself.
The second category of sacraments is the one we are all too familiar with (or are we?). The seven sacraments of the Church are instituted by God, and have developed through Tradition. We cannot be so obstinate, as to attempt to return to our roots while cutting off all growth that has arisen as the result of our growth. A common error in fundamentalism is that everything must be exactly as it was in the early Church. In one sense this is true, insofar as the content and substance of the faith must be exactly the same. However, the development and unfolding of these truths, their application and the ordering of them should not be dismissed. Sacraments such as Reconciliation has brought about a great deal of healing so many souls who have genuinely sought to be right with God. However this sacrament’s theology, while existing in substance in the Early Church was not necessarily ordered in the way we encounter it today.
Development and Organized Religion
That process of development never constitutes a change in the essence of the Church’s teaching but rather in its expression. But even these changing realities (accidental-change) are guided by God, not merely as a logical consequence of divinely revealed truths, but as a result of God’s own plan for our salvation. That is to say that God has utilized and mapped out how He would save us throughout the centuries, not revealing to us “more” but giving us a fuller means to encounter what He has already revealed. Here is how the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) puts it:
With regard to this historical condition, it must first be observed that the meaning of the pronouncements of faith depends partly upon the expressive power of the language used at a certain point in time and in particular circumstances. Moreover, it sometimes happens that some dogmatic truth is first expressed incompletely (but not falsely), and at a later date, when considered in a broader context of faith or human knowledge, it receives a fuller and more perfect expression. In addition, when the Church makes new pronouncements she intends to confirm or clarify what is in some way contained in Sacred Scripture or in previous expressions of Tradition; but at the same time she usually has the intention of solving certain questions or removing certain errors.” (Mysterium Ecclesiae, 5)
Our God is not one of disorganization, He orders everything, and those who have a knee-jerk reaction to Organized Religion forget this. What they are reacting to is not really the fact that the Church is organized but that people forget it is most importantly an organized-organism. Sometimes through the inordinate preoccupation with order we lose our appreciation for the fact that we are more than simply an institution. Rather we have an interior depth that is moving towards a deeper and more profound, Divine Love, intertwined with our relationship to our brother and sister. The problem is not whether the Church is organized, it is why it is organized: for the health of the whole body. That is to say, the order is directly related to the good of each individual. But order alone should not be the only manner of understanding the body…rather a more phenomenological look into the very “will” of each person.
Salvation through the Church & the two types of Legalists
The sacraments themselves seek to sanctify man and help him persevere in grace. They are given to the Church to be the fullest means of salvation, and therefore without these helps, salvation is more difficult and even impossible if it is genuinely rejected. There is no hope for salvation for those who reject the Church knowing it to be true (as taught in the Vatican II documents). God who is a saving God seeks the whole world to be saved through the Church, and there is no one who should not be introduced and invited to partake in the sacramental life of the Church. Indifference is not an option for those who care about God’s will, rather than their own. While it is taught that salvation may be possible for those who are not a part of the visible Church, this should not ever lead to a pluralism and a reluctance towards the commission to baptize and evangelize. I often wonder about what a relationship with God must be like when an individual can rationalize his way out of a real call to evangelize on the possible technicality that a man “might” be saved if he has not been baptized or sacramentally united to the Church, visibly. Such is what I would prefer to refer to as liberal-legalism. It is a reaction to conservative-legalism. Conservative-legalism holds to the structure God has instituted (or perceived it as such) and yet does not live it in spirit. Meanwhile the liberal-legalist seeks to reject the law while doing so in a legalistic way. I remember a community once being told to never have hands folded as one might see in altar servers in Europe. It was considered to be a legalistically pious act. The irony was in order to defy this “apparent” legalistic act, a legal prohibition was instituted for the said community. Blindness would have only perpetuated the silliness of such spiritual-legalism. And this is the point…legalism isn’t an external act to be condemned, it is a spiritual act to be condemned. It is an attitude, not a particular external behaviour.
All in all, both seem to not consider honouring and glorifying God by simply doing as He commands. It makes as much sense as dual covenantal theology, which is outright insulting to the Jews. If the Jews love God, they would be the first to admit that they want to be faithful and know who He is completely. Yet by suggesting that God settles for them not knowing about the Trinity in this life is to suggest that God is apathetic to the fullest possible means of being known in this life. Anyone with a degree of common-sense in the relational-sense can see right through such arguments and attitudes. It is more likely that those who have been highly educated cannot see the forest from the trees and have become preoccupied with disjointed truths and developed false-absolutes. This is poor philosophy meeting a possibly poor relationship with God. A simple relationship with Jesus out of love, however, will dispose us towards seeing the big-picture and realize that Jesus, who is our best-friend and Lord must have His name shouted from the roof-tops!
Philosophical Exorcism: Nominalism
There are too many problems to list here with Nominalism, but for the sake of this reflection I will only focus on the issues that come about through communicating divine-truths. The latent, contemporary/modern-approach to the sacramentality of the Church has been inundated with Kantian Philosophy, otherwise known as nominalism. Nominalism or “deontology” ascribes to the notion that there really is no essence or nature to things, but there is a sort of over-all characteristic in a given reality. The consequences of such a philosophy are detrimental to morality and Catholic Identity. I would like to propose that we have a philosophical exorcism, rejecting the evils and errors that stem from nominalism. Nominalism denies that there can be a concrete and objective means to communicate truths through creation and the sacramental life of the Church itself. Nominalism ultimately fosters a disjunction between the Creator and the Created, almost as if creation itself does not have its being, and move in God, but rather is operated by God extrinsically. If this is the case, than creation is totally other than God, and nothing of it can really tell us anything about God, since it has no real connection to God. Nominalism also seems to suggest that there is no real objective definition to particular things as they are. That is to say, they have no essence or “definite-nature.” This enables us to define things in a sort of arbitrary way, and as a result, common-sense is altogether abandoned to rationalization and deconstructionism. While Kant was not altogether wrong on everything, nominalism is by far one of the greatest sources of wounds to the Church today, that while many may not explicitly even know what this philosophy is, and one may adopt it as a philosophy that shapes their own behaviour and attitude. Nominalism is a spiritual sickness that leads souls away from the Church, and therefore God.
It is important for us to therefore consider what was earlier mentioned but postponed. Father Benedict teaches us that it is not within our own initiative that we ought to bring change to the sacramental life of the Church. This would also apply to changing the “definition” of things like natural-marriage or the definition of the created universe and all within it. If you can do it with one aspect of the universe, you can do it with everything. Just as if you can ignore one infallible teaching, every infallible teaching is up for debate. A definition is something discovered not invented or cultivated out of a social construct. A definition is a definitive statement about what makes a thing what it is, as Aristotle would put it. And while there is a definitive essence to a thing, this does not diminish or petrify the reality it has, which some ultra-conservative Catholics have falsely assumed. The Church is an organism, which means it is both organized-and-alive at the same time. There is unchanging truth and a growing nature predicated of this Church, and this must be considered when approaching the Church and her sacramental life. It is the middle position between those who would do away with its sacramental nature through such careerisms as suggesting women should be permitted to become priests. Such an act would have to first deny the very sacramental nature of Orders in order to do so and reduce it to a function rather than a manifestation of Christ the groom. That is to say that the spiritual marriage of Christ would no longer be transmitted to His bride, the Church.
Sacrament of Orders: Gentleman only, Ladies Forbidden
Let us focus on the sacrament of Orders, therefore for a moment. As said earlier, each sacrament seeks to communicate or transmit God’s law and God Himself to us. That is both the grace to know the Law and the presence of the one who fulfills it. Without God’s presence we cannot fulfill the law, and without our conscience informed it is incredibly difficult to consent to it freely. God Himself therefore is the grace to be found in each sacrament, and not in terms of quantity but perhaps quality and perhaps from a phenomenological perspective from the context of a relationship. Many people these days will argue that God can be found in nature, so why go to Church? But again, if God wants you to go to Church but you choose to seek Him in nature are you not slapping him in the face by rejecting his will. How can you seek God through disobedience? Such a soul says, “I want to know God, but I do not want to know Him on His terms, but rather my own.” This is a spiritual sickness which finds itself rooted in fear and sloth. It is something that all religious and non-religious people suffer from on all sorts of levels. For even a priest who celebrates mass regularly may complain that he is not collected and yet does nothing prior to mass to spiritually prepare himself.
The Sacrament of orders seeks to communicate the Person of Christ, and in the priesthood and episcopacy, Christ the Head. A priest is not merely a sacrament of the Person of Christ when he celebrates mass, but rather is a living sacrament of Christ while he sleeps and while he walks out in public. He is a sacrament of Christ to himself, as he lives in the privacy of his own home. And Christ has revealed himself not to be some sort of androgynous human being, but God himself has loved us in a manly way through Christ. Christ choose to be a man. Radical-Feminists may suggest that “he had to choose one sex, and he did so because he had to fit into the current temperament of the people for them to take him seriously.” But this is likely the most unwise statement one could ever conjure up. Christ was crucified precisely because no one took Him seriously or seriously-enough. If in the heart, all the disciples truly believed He was God and sent to save them, they would have all lined up at the foot of that cross or been crucified with Him on the same good-Friday. Many people had a hard time accepting what Christ taught. Furthermore, God does not bow to sexism or any sort of social injustice, he entirely wipes it out through his preaching and teaching and choices. This same Christ chose 12 disciples and excluded women from this particular sacrament.
The answer to the question “why” He did what He did can easily be understood as was previously stated: Christ is the Husband of the Church. Our sexual identity, as male or female is incredibly important, and it communicates an objective truth about God. We stated earlier that at the height of creation, God created man and women in His own Image, and for that reason, we are very good. To downplay human sexuality, would be to undermine God’s own decisive decision to make us the way we are for a particular reason. That reason being: communion. It was not good that Adam should be alone, so God created Eve. That is to say, that no one is made to be alone, but we are all created to love and be loved. This teaches us something profound about God as Trinity, that He is both Lover and Beloved. And Man and Woman imitate this love, while being of the same essence (bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh) to each other insofar as they are of equal value while not being the same.
Jesus who is the groom of His Church united the very sacrificial reality of His death to His identity as Husband. His sacrifice and his Marital relationship with the Church are intrinsically tied together that it would be altogether impossible for a woman to ever echo the words in a meaningful way: “This is my Body, given up for you.” For this very act of Christ offering His body to His bride is what tore the veil in the temple, revealing his presence to His unveiled bride. One cannot separate Christ’s manhood from the sacrifice, for it was motivated out of spousal love, communicated in a very concrete way through the masculine identity of Christ. To scoff and dismiss this marital union with the Church is to reduce Christ’s love for us as some sort of mere platonic idealistic love that never actually was incarnate in the flesh. And as the Catechism itself teaches, Christ’s flesh is the hinge of our salvation.
The Spirit of the Liturgy & Obedience to the Rubrics
The sacrament of the priesthood is necessarily tied into the Eucharist which the Church teaches is the source and summit of the Christian life. The Church does not say, “Catholic” it says, “Christian.” This has profound ecumenical consequences when considering the ultimate goal of unity with all Christians. That is to say that to be fully united with the Source and reach the summit of our shared faith, one must worship the Eucharist in reality. The end goal of ecumenism therefore is participation in the sacraments of initiation, ending in the Eucharist (for those at the age of reason).
Father Benedict has spent a great deal of time reflecting on the beauty and goodness of the liturgy, reminding the Church that we are not to play around with the rubrics. Anyone can find canonical or liturgical loopholes, just as much as anyone can play the legal system and get off on technicalities. The real question we must ask ourselves is: are we abiding by the Spirit? One does not get into heaven by “technically following the law.” We can obey the law and be entirely disobedient at the same time. For instance, if a man were to celebrate mass according to the rubrics he would be blameless in terms of the mass being licit and valid. However, he might not have prepared well for the celebration of mass, his homily was not the fruit of prayer, and in his heart was judgment. Despite the fact that such a man celebrated well, does not implythat God is pleased with such a sacrifice, or lack thereof. There are a whole slew of examples that could be given to things that are “technically permitted” but are pastorally stupid. But that is not the point of this reflection, the point rather is to focus on the simple fact that it ought to be always perceived that God is the instigator of our worship, the ordering agent of it, and the Spirit within it. Anyone who has read the book of Leviticus has to agree to the fact that God cares about the details. Those who did not follow the details of how to properly worship God were often punished severely. It is not because God in the Old Testament was a Legalist and then loosened up when He was incarnate. Rather, God wanted people to be obedient to Him, and He gave them a concrete (ritual) manner to know Him.
This realization will foster within each person docility rather than the ego-centrism of making either the priest or the people the centre of the liturgy. Rather the focal point will be the Paschal Mystery which is fully present in the Eucharist. Again, without the Spirit behind every act of our will (docility to the Church, the very sacrament of Christ’s Mystical Body), our worship is entirely in vain as we spiritually sum up to Peter who promised to never abandon Christ or Judas who displayed honour through a kiss while in the very act was betraying Him. God knows He is the best gift for anyone, and as a result of this self-knowledge, God wants to be at the centre of our lives for our own sake. Placing the Eucharist at the centre of our worship, since He is the true presence, is incredibly important.
All of that being said, the liturgy itself is full of signs and symbols that would require a reflection of its own. They direct and order our worship and inform us about who God is, and what Heaven is like. Messing with this order of the mass therefore has grave consequences for it will ‘twist’ men in their own formation. We must therefore take to heart the Church’s teaching with regard to all facets of the Sacred Liturgy: sacred music, the GIRM, and the directives of the diocese.
Licit, Valid, and Displeasing Worship
The liturgy itself can sadly be disjointed from our own lives, and this is a problem I have witnessed in the growing faithful. While in an older generation the Eucharist was down-played in His importance, in this generation He is placed back on His throne. Unfortunately a lack of integration between the sacrifices of one’s life being united to the sacrifice of the mass has been altogether forgotten and this makes our worship empty. Some Protestants have been noted saying, ‘If Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, I would stay there all day, before Him.” And while this certainly highlights the profound devotion that Protestants have to Christ, in principle it again asserts one’s own will over God’s.
The liturgy itself is filled with prayers that remind us that we bring to the altar a sacrifice, and this sacrifice entails what we have done prior to mass and after our commission to spread the Gospel. To serve Christ in the Eucharist and to neglect the poor or those in need of the Gospel is a double-life that many fail to see today, and it again makes our participation in the Eucharist incredibly facile. Obedience is everything, we must live out our given vocation, and we cannot neglect the very real responsibilities of our ministry to our family, neighbours or our parish because of a disordered affection for the Eucharist. We cannot in any way exaggerate how important the Eucharist is in our lives, and this importance is stressed even more fully when we live out our given calling both on the streets and in the Church building. Many will undoubtable resist this point and suggest that I am down-playing the importance of the Eucharist and in some way supporting secular humanism. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The experience of uniting ourselves to our Lord through the Eucharist is most fruitfully experienced in our lives when we have given to God our fullest service. It is inappropriate to receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, and some sins can be discovered in our own neglect towards the mission given to us by baptism. We often consider sin to be in regard to bad things we have done, and yet fail to remember that the Confiteor also mentions “what I have failed to do.” I am writing this in the hopes of bring about a more fruitful reception and worship of the Eucharist, rather than placing Him at odds with service of neighbour and the living out of our vocation. That is why that statement echoed from Protestants is so utterly problematic, because it places one’s own preference for how one chooses to worship God over and above God’s own will for us.
If we choose to mess with the liturgy (and we know we are if we are), we are choosing to transmit a twisted message to the faithful. We will be held culpable of leading others astray as a result. That is the bottom line.
All sacraments are considered, when celebrated, to be a liturgical action. All of them transmit grace (communicate Christ), which should not be understood as some quantifiable, white, bright energy that is invisible (if it is invisible why would it be white?). Rather grace needs to be understood in terms of our relationship with God, and we need to have one to understand this phenomenologically
We might end therefore on this cautionary note: that because the 7 Sacraments are the ordinary means to unite ourselves to Christ’s saving works, the Devil will constantly be seeking to bring disorder and to twist the very manner of How God has revealed and initiated His communicative-plan to us. As a result, people will begin to worship a twisted vision of Christ, a false-Christ, one who is not real or true, or filled with half-truths. But Satan will also attack us as male and female, and he will vigorously set against us those both within the Church and from without. Such has been the case with many martyrs throughout the centuries, beginning with St. John the Baptist.
We all need to chill out and just let God’s creation speak for itself, and the Church’s sacraments speak for themselves. We do not have to do more work than discovering the beauty of these realities. We work too hard to create our own path of righteousness and then falsely place the “divinely inspired” label upon it (implying we are God) as if that would actually convince anyone that it was made by God. When you are in control of your own salvation, you become a sourpuss to everyone.
Everyone is fallible except for the Pope and the Magisterium, in so far as they are infallible. We need to relax and just follow the Good Shepherd. He knows how things are supposed to go, and He wants us to stop pushing our agendas. He Loves us, we shouldn’t fear what our lives would be like if we were Obedient to Him absolutely.
Remind yourself of how God reproved King David for attempting to build a temple for the Lord. It is not our initiative or our agenda, it is all about God’s will. He is smarter than us…we should listen.