Tuesday, 26 July 2016
Spiritual Battle Fatigue
Few are likely to deny that getting doctrine and liturgy right is of vital importance; there can be no good pastoral care if souls are not directed in the Truth (Christ) and worship Him appropriately. But fighting doctrinal error and liturgical anarchy can cause us to lose our inner peace -and risk us losing our faith when we are presented with erroneous teaching and illicit liturgies from pillar to post. We begin not only to wonder if God cares, but if He is there at all.
This risk of losing one’s faith in those who fight for correct Doctrine and authentic liturgy is what the young people I mentioned in a previous post were expressing: they asked how they can trust a Church that does not stay faithful to Divine Revelation or believe in a God who cannot protect what He has revealed. Those young people -and many other folk- are suffering from battle-fatigue. The danger for those of us engaged in the battle for orthodox teaching and authentic liturgy is not simply this fatigue, but that of our energy being directed at ecclesial problems rather than our relationship with Christ.
To be sure, those who applaud fluidity of doctrine and liturgical innovation have their own danger to avoid: they are wandering from the Truth which is Christ and from worship appropriate to His Divine Revelation; their personal relationship with Christ who is Truth is being damaged and hindered by their loss of True doctrine.
There is a need for all of us to seek what Josemaria Escriva and Vatican II promoted: the universal call to holiness. If we can focus on developing our own personal holiness through grace, the world will see a different Church; not one torn apart by doctrinal difficulties or lacking a stable universal worship. The sign of a holy Church will be attractive. Certainly the holiness of the Church comes from its indwelling by the Holy Spirit, but that holiness cannot be displayed unless we seek to cooperate with His grace for holiness of life.
Does that mean we ignore doctrinal and liturgical irregularities? I do not think so; I think it means we find a peaceful way to deal with them, and not let them dominate our spiritual lives. We can, for example, still peaceably challenge to those who teach error and engage in liturgical anarchy: we state the Truth, knowing that God is in charge, not us. Saint Padre Pio said we ‘You must hate your defects but with a quiet hate, not troublesome and restless’; that we are not to ‘worry over things that generate preoccupation, derangement and anxiety. One thing only is necessary: to lift up your spirit and love God’. Perhaps we can restate this in a way appropriate to our ecclesial struggles: ‘We must hate the defects but with a quiet hate, not troublesome and restless’; ‘only one thing is necessary: to lift up our heart and love God’. So let us seek holiness of life by prayer and charity, and retain our peace in a quiet heart by gentle, Truth-filled challenge of things and folk which have gone awry.