Posted by: fvbcdm | May 5, 2014

Feast of Saint Vincent Ferrer (5 May 2014)

On the front page of our New Orleans Times-Picayune today, there is an article describing the mentality of many Catholics today by which they choose the doctrines which they wish to believe and reject the others, and choose the moral principles which they wish to obey, and reject the others. This is what we have come to call “cafeteria Catholicism.” It’s like passing along the steam tables of a cafeteria, choosing this and not choosing that. Today’s paper calls it “a la carte” religion. The same thing is meant: choice of doctrines and morals by those who call themselves Catholics. The article goes on to quote two Catholics who give their views on the subject. One of them is a twenty-year-old college student; the other is seventeen.

When Our Lord commissioned Saint Peter to be the first pope, he said to him, “I give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” That is a remarkable act of trust on the part of Jesus in the prudence and discretion of a fisherman who had no formal theological training at all. But of course, Our Lord knew perfectly well that he would send the Holy Spirit upon Saint Peter and the other apostles, so that they would be eminently well qualified for their mission in the Church and the world. When the Holy Spirit guides you, you don’t need a Ph.D. nor any credits in theology given by any university.

The problem with the “cafeteria or a la carte” Catholicism is that is based upon our own human knowledge and wisdom and not upon God’s knowledge and wisdom. Thus, our so-called faith in those situations is not supernatural faith at all, not based upon the word of God and the teachings of the Church which Christ founded, but simply upon our own view of things. Everyone who practices that kind of Catholicism becomes his and her own pope, and indeed, his and her own God. And when we have only ourselves for pope and for God, we are in bad shape indeed.

One of the great challenges of the years to come in the life of the Church, especially the Church in America, will be to instill in our people a proper understanding of sin, of what is a sin, and of the moral life based upon a correct understanding of virtue and of sin. Without that, any real spiritual life is impossible and our souls are in great danger. We have lived through about fifty years of twisted and erroneous ideas of moral theology, despite the splendid teachings of Pope John Paul II. Now, that must be corrected lest we continue to lose entire generations of people who make up their own rules, which is not Christ’s way at all. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you, Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

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