Thursday, 1 January 2015
The Synod Must Remember Metanoia
The following report about preparation for the forth-coming Synod is disturbing because it’s lineamenta recommends duplicity: saying one thing and doing another, wherein lies a real but covert abandoning of the Gospel.
The questionnaire for 2015 instructs bishops’ conferences to “avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine,” in favour of what it describes as Pope Francis’s call to “pastoral activity that is characterised by a ‘culture of encounter’ and capable of recognising the Lord’s gratuitous work, even outside customary models.” (see here)
The honest person would have to say that if the Synod does not provide pastoral provisions in line with Doctrine it will be less a case of “the white man speaking with forked tongue” as one of hypocrisy and duplicity: “We believe this to be true, but we don’t live according to that belief.” In which case truth may as well not exist, and yet it is only truth that sets us free; duplicity is a binding-work of the devil. As such the Synod simply cannot afford to evade formulations of pastoral care based on doctrine in order to favour “pastoral activity that is characterised by a ‘culture of encounter’”. The idea of ‘encounter’ is popular today but is so vague it is meaningless, especially in terms of preaching the Gospel of Christ to a fallen world. The encounter of the Gospel with sin and has only one aim: repentance: “Repent; for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk.1v15). Without this repentance, this metanoia, this change in lifestyle, there can be no possibility of putting into practice Vatican II’s Universal Call to holiness (cf. Lumen gentium 39, 40).
It is true that we are living in the ‘age of mercy’, but that age was inaugurated 2000 years ago when the Gospel was first preached. Today’s idea or presentation of mercy has, unfortunately, acquired a diabolical deformation: it has become ‘accepting the sin for the sake of the sinner’. No more the forgiveness of God for past sins and a getting back on the right track: the “Go, and sin no more” of the Gospel (cf. Jn.5v14., 8v11). Rather, there is an abandonment of forgiveness in favour of distorted ‘mercy’ (which is not mercy at all but an abandoning of people to their sins –even an affirmation of them in their sin). Do today’s pastors think they have it right and that the Church has been wrong for 2000 years? If so, they have not simply lost their faith but demonstrate extreme arrogance, since they are seeking to allow behaviours that scripture and tradition both condemn as wrong.
Why is this distortion of mercy being peddled by so many today at all levels of the Church? I think there are several reasons; none of which bode well for the souls of the flock or of those who tout it. These reasons include, I suggest, the loss of Faith; fear of rejection by the world; misplaced compassion, the desire to be popular and the pride of being seen as ‘intellectually enlightened’.
Let us pray that the participants in the Synod demonstrate their faith in the Gospel by affirming and clarifying the pastoral provisions already present for those who are in occasions of sin (‘irregular situations’), be those situations a civil marriage after divorce; cohabitation; a homosexual pairing; or the use of artificial contraception. Let us pray the members of the Synod do not fall prey to the diabolical distortion of mercy that abandons forgiveness and metanoia; a trap into which they can easily fall by inviting persons in such irregular lifestyles to Holy Communion. Let us pray that the participants will clearly affirm that such folk remain members of the Church by Baptism and are still called to a life of prayer, to attendance at Mass, to participation in the social life of the parish, to active charity –and to union with the Heart of Christ by conversion of life. Christ’s mercy does not extend to unrepentant sin. We forget this at the cost of souls –our own and those of the flock.
Most Holy Trinity,
from whom all families take their origin and meaning,
we pray for the exaltation of our Holy Mother the Church:
and especially for the forthcoming Synod on the Family:
open minds and hearts to the Gospel of Christ;
and to the place of marriage & family in your plan for our salvation.
Help your holy Church,
and the world in which she lives,
to uphold the sanctity of human life from natural conception to natural death;
the rightfulness of natural marriage,
and to find grace-filled solutions to the breakdown of marriage and family life.
Seeking the intercession of Our Blessed Lady, of St Joseph her spouse,
of St Michael the Archangel and of all the angels and saints,
we make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen
We need to remember that mercy is not quite the same as forgiveness. Forgiveness is an act of mercy bringing reconciliation; forgiveness springs from a having a merciful disposition, which is why we must be careful when speaking of the ‘age of mercy’. We need to include metanoia as a required element in reconciliation for union with God.