63 – We must listen to the debates of our time and perceive the ‘fragrance’ of the men of this age; listen to the people until breathing in the will to which God calls us.

It’s no novelty that the texts of Vatican Council II have often been manipulated with diverse intentions; consequently, it’s necessary to read them within their context and in light of the Magisterium, which has been guiding humanity for almost 2000 years.

One of the documents that has perhaps undergone the most significant misinterpretations is the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes. It is not unusual to find some of its statements taken out of context in order to justify the most varied positions. For example, this phrase: ‘The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ (GS 1).’ With these inspired words, the conciliar document presents the role of the Church as a compassionate Mother who educates her children in authentic love of God and neighbor. She employs every means within her reach to ease the sufferings of human beings with solicitude and wisdom.

Among the ‘the griefs and the anxieties’ which afflict the human heart, is the thirst for the truth, the desire to break away from from the sea of uncertainties, to find rest for the spirit in firm convictions. In healing this need, the Church – besides being Mother – acts as a Teacher of the peoples since she has received ‘the news of salvation which is meant for every man (ib.).’ This is what makes the Church feel ‘truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds’ the conciliar fathers conclude. However, from this affirmation, read out of context, other conclusions may be drawn. The objective of this post is to consider this citation in light of the Magisterium.

Francis

The convenire in unum around the Bishop of Rome is indeed an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is made manifest in a path of spiritual and pastoral discernment. To find what the Lord asks of his Church today, we must lend an ear to the debates of our time and perceive the ‘fragrance’ of the men of this age, so as to be permeated with their joys and hopes, with their griefs and anxieties (cf. Gaudium et Spes, no.1). At that moment we will know how to propose the good news on the family with credibility. […] For the Synod Fathers we ask the Holy Spirit first of all for the gift of listening: to listen to God, that with him we may hear the cry of the people; to listen to the people until breathing in the will to which God calls us. (Address during the Meeting on the Family, October 4, 2014)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of ContentsI – The Church’s mission is to indicate God’s will to all
II – Weakened by Original Sin, man often falls into error with respect to divine truths
III – Those who are of the world listen to the world’s language
IV – The good recognize the voice of the Lord
______________________________________________________________________

I – The Church’s mission is to indicate God’s will to all

Sacred Scripture
– Proclaim the word whether convenient or inconvenient
– The people’s representative before God enlighten them, showing them how they are to live

Benedict XVI
– Christ’s voice rings out in the preaching of the Apostles and their successors

Vatican Council II
– Bishops are endowed with the authority of Christ to preach and ward off errors

Code of Canon Law
– The Church has the duty and innate right to preach the Gospel to all peoples and announce moral principles

Leo XIII
– Christ appointed an unfailing teaching authority to preserve men in truth, His Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– It is the Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations, to guarantee them the possibility of professing the true faith without error

John Paul II
– Every baptized person has the right to receive instruction from the Church

John Paul I
– Bishops have the prime responsibility to evangelize the baptized

John Paul II
– The successors of the Apostles should never be afraid of proclaiming the full truth about Jesus Christ, in all its challenging demands
– Bishops have the serious responsibility to make things clear in an epoch of confusion
– Courage to defend sound doctrine, showing that the true solution for the complicated problems of humanity is in returning to the Gospel
– The ‘answer’ to questions about morality was entrusted by Jesus Christ in a particular way to Pastors – it is one of the chief areas for their pastoral vigilance
– The Pope must keep watch so that the true voice of Christ be heard in all particular Churches
– Shepherds must be Christ’s voice encouraging people in fidelity to the Lord’s law
– A Bishop is the voice of Christ, the teacher of truth – no other task can exempt from the sacred mission of evangelizing
– The voice of Christ is heard in a lifelong Christian training

Benedict XVI
– St. Paul did not preach an à la carte Christianity, nor shrink from the commitment to proclaiming the whole of God’s will – that’s our mission
– God himself speaks through His Word, Jesus, who continues his ministry passing through the Apostles

Pius XII
– The true follower of Christ is a spiritual bastion of those who are tempted to give in to evil
– There is no greater or more urgent duty than to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the men of our time misled by error

John Paul II
– Bishops should Bishops should watch over the holiness of ministers and faithful

II – Weakened by Original Sin, man often falls into error with respect to divine truths

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
-Not all ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith

Pius XII
– Divine revelation is morally necessary so that moral truths may be known with freedom from all error

Pius X
– Disordered by the stain of the first sin man needs a guide to lead him back to the paths of justice: the knowledge of divine things

Pius XI
– Christianity is a model and guide for a world which is sick to death and clamors for direction
– Amidst the aberrations of human thought, the Church indicates the way of truth – Woe if ever this beacon be hindered from shedding far and wide its beneficent light!

Leo XIII
– Christ commanded the Church to set in order whatever is deranged in human society
– By evangelizing the nations, the Church restored humans to their original dignity

Paul VI
– Evangelizing means bringing the Good News to all, and thus transforming humanity from within

III – Those who are of the world listen to the world’s language

Sacred Scripture
– Anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us
– The world and its enticement are passing away; whoever does the will of God remains forever
– Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed
– The word words of Christ will judge all on the last day

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– He who preaches the truth is always inopportune for the evil

Benedict XVI
– The wisdom of God often appears to be foolishness in the eyes of the world

Saint Irenaeus
– The apostles did not address others in accordance with their opinion but according to revealed truth

Vatican Council II
– Priests must live among men, yet are forbidden to be conformed to this world

Leo XIII
– Preachers who use merely of human words fall far short of the power which the speech of God possesses

Catechism of Trent
– Strengthening the faithful with doctrine is more necessary than ever today, when false prophets and corrupters abound

Leo XIII
– He who silences before clamors against truth is either devoid of character or doubts the truth – he insults God and profits the enemies of the faith

IV – The good recognize the voice of the Lord

Sacred Scripture
– Christ’s sheep recognize His voice
– Everyone who belongs to truth listens to Christ’s voice

Vatican Council II
– God chose to reveal Himself; out of the abundance of His love he speaks to men as friends

Saint Augustine
– ‘I am the good Shepherd’: Christ would not add ‘good,’ were there not bad shepherds

I – The Church’s mission is to indicate God’s will to all

Sacred Scripture

  • Proclaim the word whether convenient or inconvenient

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry. (2Tim 4:1-5)

  • The people’s representative before God enlighten them, showing them how they are to live

Act as the people’s representative before God, bringing to him whatever they have to say. Enlighten them in regard to the decisions and regulations, showing them how they are to live and what they are to do. (Ex 18:19-20)

Benedict XVI

  • Christ’s voice rings out in the preaching of the Apostles and their successors

How can we listen to the voice of the Lord and recognize it? In the preaching of the Apostles and of their successors in which Christ’s voice rings out, calling us to communion with God and to the fullness of life. As we read today in the Gospel of Saint John: ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand’ (Jn 10: 27-28). The Good Shepherd alone tends his flock with deep tenderness and protects it from evil, and in him alone can the faithful put absolute trust. (Benedict XVI. Regina Caeli, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, April 25, 2010)

Vatican Council II

  • Bishops are endowed with the authority of Christ to preach and ward off errors

For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old (cf. Mt. 13:52), making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock (cf. 2Tim 4:1-4). (Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, no. 25, November 21, 1964)

Code of Canon Law

  • The Church has the duty and innate right to preach the Gospel to all peoples and announce moral principles

The Church, to which Christ the Lord has entrusted the deposit of faith so that with the assistance of the Holy Spirit it might protect the revealed truth reverently, examine it more closely, and proclaim and expound it faithfully, has the duty and innate right, independent of any human power whatsoever, to preach the gospel to all peoples, also using the means of social communication proper to it. It belongs to the Church always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it. (Code of Canon Law, Can. 747 §1 and §2)

Leo XIII

  • Christ appointed an unfailing teaching authority to preserve men in truth, His Church

The only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, who came on earth to bring salvation and the light of divine wisdom to men, conferred a great and wonderful blessing on the world when, about to ascend again into heaven, He commanded the Apostles to go and teach all nations (Mt 28:19), and left the Church which He had founded to be the common and supreme teacher of the peoples. For men whom the truth had set free were to be preserved by the truth; nor would the fruits of heavenly doctrines by which salvation comes to men have long remained had not the Lord Christ appointed an unfailing teaching authority to train the minds to faith. And the Church built upon the promises of its own divine Author, whose charity it imitated, so faithfully followed out His commands that its constant aim and chief wish was this: to teach religion and contend forever against errors. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Aeterni Patris, August 4, 1879)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • The Magisterium’s task is to preserve God’s people from deviations, to guarantee them the possibility of professing the true faith without error

In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a ‘supernatural sense of faith’ the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, ‘unfailingly adheres to this faith’ (LG 12; cf. DV 10). The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 889-890)

John Paul II

  • Every baptized person has the right to receive instruction from the Church

To begin with, it is clear that the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right. On the one hand, it is certainly a duty springing from a command given by the Lord and resting above all on those who in the new covenant receive the call to the ministry of being pastors. On the other hand, one can likewise speak of a right: from the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely the reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, no. 14, October 16, 1979)

John Paul I

  • Bishops have the prime responsibility to evangelize the baptized

Among the rights of the faithful, one of the greatest is the right to receive God’s word in all its entirety and purity, with all its exigencies and power. A great challenge of our day is the full evangelization of all those who have been baptized. In this, the Bishops of the Church have a prime responsibility. (John Paul I. Address to a group of Bishops from the Philippines on their ad limina visit, September 28, 1978)

John Paul II

  • The successors of the Apostles should never be afraid of proclaiming the full truth about Jesus Christ, in all its challenging demands

Yours is the responsibility of constantly identifying the features of a pastoral plan adapted to the needs and aspirations of God’s people, a plan which will enable all to hear ever more clearly the Good News of Christ and bring the truths and values of the Gospel to bear ever more incisively on the family, on culture, on society itself. The successors of the Apostles should never be afraid of proclaiming the full truth about Jesus Christ, in all its challenging reality and demands, since the truth has an intrinsic power to draw the human heart to all that is good, noble and beautiful. (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of Korea on their ad limina visit, no. 2, March 24, 2001)

  • Bishops have the serious responsibility to make things clear in an epoch of confusion

Today especially, among the many dissonant voices that spread confusion and doubt in the minds of the faithful, the Bishop has the serious responsibility to make things clear. The preaching of the Gospel is the greatest act of love for man, his freedom and his thirst for happiness. (John Paul II. Address, Jubilee of Bishops, no. 5, October 7, 2000)

  • Courage to defend sound doctrine, showing that the true solution for the complicated problems of humanity is in returning to the Gospel

Master of the faith, the bishop promotes whatever is good and positive in the flock entrusted to him, sustains and guides those weak in faith (Rom 14:1), intervenes to unmask falsehoods and combat abuses. It is important that the bishop be aware of the challenges that faith in Christ has to face today on account of the mentality based on human criteria, that at times relativises the Law and the Plan of God. Above all, he must have the courage to announce and defend sound doctrine, even when it entails suffering. In fact, the bishop, in communion with the apostolic college and with the Successor of Peter, has the duty of protecting the faithful from any kind of temptation, showing in a wholehearted return to the Gospel of Christ the true solution for the complicated problems that burden humanity. (John Paul II. Homily during the conclusion of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 27, 2001)

  • The ‘answer’ to questions about morality was entrusted by Jesus Christ in a particular way to Pastors – it is one of the chief areas for their pastoral vigilance

It is our common duty, and even before that our common grace, as Pastors and Bishops of the Church, to teach the faithful the things which lead them to God, just as the Lord Jesus did with the young man in the Gospel. Replying to the question: ‘What good must I do to have eternal life?’ Jesus referred the young man to God, the Lord of creation and of the Covenant. He reminded him of the moral commandments already revealed in the Old Testament and he indicated their spirit and deepest meaning by inviting the young man to follow him in poverty, humility and love: ‘Come, follow me!’ The truth of this teaching was sealed on the Cross in the Blood of Christ: in the Holy Spirit, it has become the new law of the Church and of every Christian.

This ‘answer’ to the question about morality has been entrusted by Jesus Christ in a particular way to us, the Pastors of the Church; we have been called to make it the object of our preaching, in the fulfilment of our munus propheticum. At the same time, our responsibility as Pastors with regard to Christian moral teaching must also be exercised as part of the munus sacerdotale: this happens when we dispense to the faithful the gifts of grace and sanctification as an effective means for obeying God’s holy law, and when with our constant and confident prayers we support believers in their efforts to be faithful to the demands of the faith and to live in accordance with the Gospel (cf. Col 1:9-12). Especially today, Christian moral teaching must be one of the chief areas in which we exercise our pastoral vigilance, in carrying out our munus regale. (John Paul II. Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, August 6, 1993)

  • The Pope must keep watch so that the true voice of Christ be heard in all particular Churches

The mission of the Bishop of Rome within the College of all the Pastors consists precisely in ‘keeping watch’ (episkopein), like a sentinel, so that, through the efforts of the Pastors, the true voice of Christ the Shepherd may be heard in all the particular Churches. In this way, in each of the particular Churches entrusted to those Pastors, the una, sancta, catholica et apostolica Ecclesia is made present. (John Paul II. Encyclical Ut unum sint, no. 84, May 25, 1995)

  • Shepherds must be Christ’s voice encouraging people in fidelity to the Lord’s law

In every age, men and women need to hear Christ the Good Shepherd calling them to faith and conversion of life (cf. Mk 1:15). As shepherds of souls, you must be Christ’s voice today, encouraging your people to rediscover ‘the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law, even in the most difficult situations’ (Veritatis Splendor, 107). (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of the Church in the States of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, U.S.A., on their ad limina visit, June 27, 1998)

  • A Bishop is the voice of Christ, the teacher of truth – no other task can exempt from the sacred mission of evangelizing

As Bishops you are the voice of Christ in your country. You are teachers of the truth. In a Church at the service of truth, you are the first evangelizers and no other task can exempt you from this sacred mission. You need, therefore, to be vigilant so that your communities advance continually in the knowledge and practice of the Word of God, encouraging and guiding those who teach in the Church. (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of Uruguay on their ad limina visit, no. 5, January 14, 1985)

  • The voice of Christ is heard in a lifelong Christian training

Today I wish to encourage you to direct your ministry and pastoral planning more and more to that lifelong Christian formation which is the essential support of a solid Christian life, a formation which begins in Baptism, develops through grace at every stage of life’s journey, and will end only when our eyes are fully opened in the beatific vision of heaven. It is this lifelong Christian training which enables us to hear the voice of Christ, our Teacher (cf. Mt 23:10), and adhere with heart and mind to the cause of his kingdom. (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei on their ad limina visit, no. 2, November 10, 2001)

Benedict XVI                      

  • St. Paul did not preach an à la carte Christianity, nor shrink from the commitment to proclaiming the whole of God’s will – that’s our mission

This is important; the Apostle did not preach an à la carte Christianity to suit his own inclinations, he did not preach a Gospel to suit his own favourite theological ideas; he did not shrink from the commitment to proclaiming the whole of God’s will, even an inconvenient will and even topics of which he was personally not so enamoured. It is our mission to proclaim the whole of God’s will, in its totality and ultimate simplicity. But it is important that we teach and preach — as Saint Paul says here — and really propose the will of God in its entirety. […]Thus we must make known and understood — as far as we are able — the content of the Church’s Creed, from the Creation until the Lord’s return, until the new world. Doctrine, liturgy, morals, prayer — the four parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church — indicate this totality of God’s will. (Benedict XVI. Lectio Divina, Meeting with the Parish Priests of the Rome Diocese, March 10, 2011)

  • God himself speaks through His Word, Jesus, who continues his ministry passing through the Apostles

And lastly, proclamation: the one who proclaims does not speak on his own behalf but is sent. He fits into a structure of mission that begins with Jesus, sent by the Father, passes through the Apostles the term ‘apostles’ means ‘those who are sent’ and continues in the ministry, in the missions passed down by the Apostles. The new fabric of history takes shape in this structure of missions in which we ultimately hear God himself speaking, his personal Word, the Son speaks with us, reaches us. (Benedict XVI. General Audience, December 10, 2008)

Pius XII

  • The true follower of Christ is a spiritual bastion of those who are tempted to give in to evil

Conscious of the sinister audacity of evil overflowing in this life, the true follower of Christ experiences in himself a living stimulus for a greater vigilance over himself as well as over his brothers and sisters in danger. With the assurance he holds of the promise of God and the final triumph of Christ over his enemies and of his kingdom, he interiorly feels strengthened against disillusions and failures, defeats and humiliations, being able to communicate this with equal confidence to all those he approaches in his apostolic ministry, transforming himself in this way, into a spiritual bastion, while giving encouragement and example to those who are tempted to give in or be discouraged before the number and power of the adversaries. (Pius XII. Address Grazie venerabili fratelli to the Sacred College of Cardinals and members of the Roman Curia for Christmas, December 24, 1940)

  • There is no greater or more urgent duty than to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the men of our time misled by error

Can there be, Venerable Brethren, a greater or more urgent duty than to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3:8) to the men of our time? Can there be anything nobler than to unfurl the ‘Ensign of the King’ before those who have followed and still follow a false standard, and to win back to the victorious banner of the Cross those who have abandoned it? What heart is not inflamed, is not swept forward to help at the sight of so many brothers and sisters who, misled by error, passion, temptation and prejudice, have strayed away from faith in the true God and have lost contact with the joyful and life-giving message of Christ? Who among ‘the Soldiers of Christ’ – ecclesiastic or layman – does not feel himself incited and spurred on to a greater vigilance, to a more determined resistance, by the sight of the ever-increasing host of Christ’s enemies; as he perceives the spokesmen of these tendencies deny or in practice neglect the vivifying truths and the values inherent in belief in God and in Christ; as he perceives them wantonly break the Tables of God’s Commandments to substitute other tables and other standards stripped of the ethical content of the Revelation on Sinai, standards in which the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Cross has no place? (Pius XII. Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, no. 6-7, October 20, 1939)

John Paul II

  • Bishops should watch over the holiness of ministers and faithful

By his words and example, and in his vigilance and paternal intervention, the Bishop fulfils his duty to offer the world the reality of a Church which is holy and chaste, in her ministers and in her faithful. When he does so, he walks as a pastor at the head of his flock, as did Christ the Bridegroom, who gave his life for us and who left to all the example of a love which is transparent and virginal, and therefore fruitful and universal. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis, no. 21, October 16, 2003)

II – Weakened by Original Sin, man often falls into error with respect to divine truths

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • Not all ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith

Actually, the opinions of the faithful cannot be purely and simply identified with the sensus fidei (Cc. John Paul. II, Familiaris consortio, n. 5). The sense of the faith is a property of theological faith; and, as God’s gift which enables one to adhere personally to the Truth, it cannot err. This personal faith is also the faith of the Church since God has given guardianship of the Word to the Church. Consequently, what the believer believes is what the Church believes. The sensus fidei implies then by its nature a profound agreement of spirit and heart with the Church, sentire cum Ecclesia.

Although theological faith as such then cannot err, the believer can still have erroneous opinions since all his thoughts do not spring from faith (cf. Council of Trent, sess. VI, cap. 9: fides cui non potest subesse falsum; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh, II-II, q.1, a.3, ad 3). Not all the ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith. This is all the more so given that people can be swayed by a public opinion influenced by modern communications media. Not without reason did the Second Vatican Council emphasize the indissoluble bond between the sensus fidei and the guidance of God’s People by the magisterium of the Pastors. These two realities cannot be separated (cf. Lumen gentium, 12). Magisterial interventions serve to guarantee the Church’s unity in the truth of the Lord. They aid her to ‘abide in the truth’ in face of the arbitrary character of changeable opinions and are an expression of obedience to the Word of God (cf. Dei Verbum, 10). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the ecclesial vocation of the theologian Donum veritatis, no. 35, May 24, 1990)

Pius XII

  • Divine revelation is morally necessary so that moral truths may be known with freedom from all error

For though, absolutely speaking, human reason by its own natural force and light can arrive at a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, Who by His providence watches over and governs the world, and also of the natural law, which the Creator has written in our hearts, still there are not a few obstacles to prevent reason from making efficient and fruitful use of its natural ability. The truths that have to do with God and the relations between God and men, completely surpass the sensible order and demand self-surrender and self-abnegation in order to be put into practice and to influence practical life. Now the human intellect, in gaining the knowledge of such truths is hampered both by the activity of the senses and the imagination, and by evil passions arising from original sin. Hence men easily persuade themselves in such matters that what they do not wish to believe is false or at least doubtful.

It is for this reason that divine revelation must be considered morally necessary so that those religious and moral truths which are not of their nature beyond the reach of reason in the present condition of the human race, may be known by all mean readily with a firm certainty and with freedom from all error (Con. Vat. I: De Fide cath., cap. 2, De revelatione). (Pius XII. Encyclical Humani Generi, no. 1-2, August 12, 1950)

Pius X

  • Disordered by the stain of the first sin man needs a guide to lead him back to the paths of justice: the knowledge of divine things

Disordered by the stain of the first sin, and almost forgetful of God, its Author, it improperly turns every affection to a love of vanity and deceit. This erring will, blinded by its own evil desires, has need therefore of a guide to lead it back to the paths of justice whence it has so unfortunately strayed. The intellect itself is this guide, which need not be sought elsewhere, but is provided by nature itself. It is a guide, though, that, if it lack its companion light, the knowledge of divine things, will be only an instance of the blind leading the blind so that both will fall into the pit. […] But We do maintain that the will cannot be upright nor the conduct good when the mind is shrouded in the darkness of crass ignorance. A man who walks with open eyes may, indeed, turn aside from the right path, but a blind man is in much more imminent danger of wandering away. (Pius X. Encyclical Acerbo Nimis, April 15, 1905)

Pius XI

  • Christianity is a model and guide for a world which is sick to death and clamors for direction

A Christianity which keeps a grip on itself, refuses every compromise with the world, takes the commands of God and the Church seriously, preserves its love of God and of men in all its freshness, such a Christianity can be, and will be, a model and a guide to a world which is sick to death and clamors for directions, unless it be condemned to a catastrophe that would baffle the imagination. (Pius XI. Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, no. 19, March 14, 1937)

Amidst the aberrations of human thought, the Church indicates the way of truth – Woe if ever this beacon be hindered from shedding far and wide its beneficent light!

 Amidst all the aberrations of human thought, infatuated by a false emancipation from every law and curb; and amidst the awful corruptions of human malice, the Church rises up like a bright lighthouse warning by the clearness of its beam every deviation to right or left from the way of truth, and pointing out to one and all the right course that they should follow. Woe if ever this beacon should be – We do not say extinguished, for that is impossible owing to the unfailing promises on which it is founded – but if it should be hindered from shedding far and wide its beneficent light! We see already with Our own eyes whither the world has been brought by its arrogant rejection of divine revelation, and its pursuit of false philosophical and moral theories that bear the specious name of ‘science.’ That it has not fallen still lower down the slope of error and vice is due to the guidance of the light of Christian truth that always shines in the world. Now the Church exercises her ‘ministry of the word’ through her priests of every grade of the Hierarchy, in which each has his wisely allotted place. These she sends everywhere as unwearied heralds of the good tidings which alone can save and advance true civilization and culture, or help them to rise again. (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, no. 19, December 20, 1935)

Leo XIII

  • Christ commanded the Church to set in order whatever is deranged in human society

 For He healed the wounds which the sin of our first father had inflicted on the human race; He brought all men, by nature children of wrath, into favor with God; He led to the light of truth men wearied out by longstanding errors; He renewed to every virtue those who were weakened by lawlessness of every kind; and, giving them again an inheritance of never-ending bliss, He added a sure hope that their mortal and perishable bodies should one day be partakers of immortality and of the glory of heaven. In order that these unparalleled benefits might last as long as men should be found on earth, He entrusted to His Church the continuance of His work; and, looking to future times, He commanded her to set in order whatever might have become deranged in human society, and to restore whatever might have fallen into ruin. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, no. 1, February 10, 1880)

  • By evangelizing the nations, the Church restored humans to their original dignity

Now, who would make bold to deny that the Church, by spreading the Gospel throughout the nations, has brought the light of truth amongst people utterly savage and steeped in foul superstition, and has quickened them alike to recognize the Divine Author of nature and duly to respect themselves? Further, who will deny that the Church has done away with the curse of slavery and restored men to the original dignity of their noble nature; and – by uplifting the standard of redemption in all quarters of the globe, by introducing, or shielding under her protection, the sciences and arts, by founding and taking into her keeping excellent charitable institutions which provide relief for ills of every kind – has throughout the world, in private or in public life, civilized the human race, freed it from degradation, and with all care trained it to a way of Living such as befits the dignity and the hopes of man? And if any one of sound mind compare the age in which We live, so hostile to religion and to the Church of Christ, with those happy times when the Church was revered as a mother by the nations, beyond all question he will see that our epoch is rushing wildly along the straight road to destruction; while in those times which most abounded in excellent institutions, peaceful life, wealth, and prosperity the people showed themselves most obedient to the Church’s rule and laws. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Inscrutabili Dei Consilio, no. 5, April 21, 1878)

Paul VI

  • Evangelizing means bringing the Good News to all, and thus transforming humanity from within

For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new’ (Rev. 21:5; cf. 2Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15). But there is no new humanity if there are not first of all new persons renewed by Baptism (cf. Rom 6:4) and by lives lived according to the Gospel (cf. Eph 4:24-25; Col 3:9-10). The purpose of evangelization is therefore precisely this interior change, and if it had to be expressed in one sentence the best way of stating it would be to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert (cf. Rom1:16; 1Cor 1:18, 2:4), solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs. (Paul VI. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 18, December 8, 1875)

III – Those who are of the world listen to the world’s language

Sacred Scripture

  • Anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us

They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit. (1Jn 4:4-6)

  • The world and its enticement are passing away; whoever does the will of God remains forever

Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. (1Jn 2:15-17)

  • Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

  • The words of Christ will judge all on the last day

Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day. (Jn 12:48)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • He who preaches the truth is always inopportune for the evil

We say that the preacher must always preach in an opportune manner, if he does so according to the rule of the truth, but not if he bases himself on the false esteem of his listeners, who will judge the truth to be inopportune; for he who preaches the truth is always opportune for the good, and inopportune for the evil. ‘Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God’ (Jn 8: 47). ‘How irksome she is to the unruly! The fool cannot abide her’ (Sir 6:21). If one had to wait for the opportunity to speak only to those who wished to hear, it would only be of benefit to the just; but it is necessary in a timely way to also preach to the evil so that they convert. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Commentary on the Second Epistle to Timothy, ch. 4, lec.1)

Benedict XVI

  • The wisdom of God often appears to be foolishness in the eyes of the world

This is a point that every Christian must understand and apply to himself or herself: only those who first listen to the Word can become preachers of it.

Indeed, they must not teach their own wisdom but the wisdom of God, which often appears to be foolishness in the eyes of the world (cf. 1Cor 1: 23). (Benedict XVI. Address to the participants in the International Congress on the 40th Anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, September 16, 2005)

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

  • The apostles did not address others in accordance with their opinion but according to Revealed Truth

For the apostles, who were commissioned to find out the wanderers, and to be for sight to those who saw not, and medicine to the weak, certainly did not address them in accordance with their opinion at the time, but according to revealed truth. For no persons of any kind would act properly, if they should advise blind men, just about to fall over a precipice, to continue their most dangerous path, as if it were the right one, and as if they might go on in safety. Or what medical man, anxious to heal a sick person, would prescribe in accordance with the patient’s whims, and not according to the requisite medicine? But that the Lord came as the physician of the sick, He does Himself declare saying, ‘They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Lk 5: 31-32, Mt 9: 12-13). How then shall the sick be strengthened, or how shall sinners come to repentance? Is it by persevering in the very same courses? Or, on the contrary, is it by undergoing a great change and reversal of their former mode of living, by which they have brought upon themselves no slight amount of sickness, and many sins? (Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, Bk. III, Ch. 5)

Vatican Council II

  • Priests must live among men, yet are forbidden to be conformed to this world

Their ministry itself, by a special title, forbids that they be conformed to this world (cf. Rom 12:2); yet at the same time it requires that they live in this world among men. They are to live as good shepherds that know their sheep, and they are to seek to lead those who are not of this sheepfold that they, too, may hear the voice of Christ, so that there might be one fold and one shepherd (cf. Jn 10:14-16). (Vatican Council II, Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 3, December 7, 1965)

Leo XIII

  • Preachers who use merely human words fall far short of the power which the speech of God possesses

Hence those preachers are foolish and improvident who, in speaking of religion and proclaiming the things of God, use no words but those of human science and human prudence, trusting to their own reasonings rather than to those of God. Their discourses may be brilliant and fine, but they must be feeble and they must be cold, for they are without the fire of the utterance of God (Jer 23:29), and they must fall far short of that mighty power which the speech of God possesses: ‘for the Word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit’ (Heb 4:12). (Leo XIII. Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, no. 6, November 18, 1893)

Catechism of Trent

  • Strengthening the faithful with doctrine is more necessary than ever today, when false prophets and corrupters abound

But while the preaching of the divine Word should never be interrupted in the Church, surely in these, our days, it becomes necessary to labour with more than ordinary zeal and piety to nourish and strengthen the faithful with sound and wholesome doctrine, as with the food of life. For false prophets have gone forth into the world, to corrupt the minds of the faithful with various and strange doctrines, of whom the Lord has said: I did not send prophets, yet they ran; I spoke not to them, yet they prophesied. In this work, to such extremes has their impiety, practiced in all the arts of Satan, been carried, that it would seem almost impossible to confine it within any bounds; […] For ­ to say nothing of those illustrious States which heretofore professed, in piety and holiness, the true Catholic faith transmitted to them by their ancestors, but are now gone astray wandering from the paths of truth and openly declaring that their best claims to piety are founded on a total abandonment of the faith of their fathers ­ there is no region, however remote, no place, however securely guarded, no corner of Christendom, into which this pestilence has not sought secretly to insinuate itself. (Catechism of Trent, Introduction)

Leo XIII

  • He who silences before clamors against truth is either devoid of character or doubts the truth – he insults God and profits the enemies of the faith

To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, no. 14, January 10, 1890)

IV – The good recognize the voice of the Lord

Sacred Scripture

  • Christ’s sheep recognize His voice

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. (Jn 10:14-16)

  • Everyone who belongs to truth listens to Christ’s voice

So Pilate said to him, ‘Then you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ (Jn 18:37)

Vatican Council II

  • God chose to reveal Himself; out of the abundance of His love he speaks to men as friends

In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (Eph 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (Eph 2:18; 2Peter 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (Col 1;15, 1Tim 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (Ex 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (Bar 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself. (Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, no. 2, November 18, 1965)

Saint Augustine

  • I am the good Shepherd’: Christ would not add ‘good,’ were there not bad shepherds

The Lord Jesus is speaking to His sheep -to those already so, and to those yet to become such-who were then present; for in the place where they were, there were those who were already His sheep, as well as those who were afterwards to become so: and He likewise shows to those then present and those to come, both to them and to us, and to as many also after us as shall yet be His sheep, who it is that had been sent to them. All, therefore, hear the voice of their Shepherd saying, ‘I am the good Shepherd.’ He would not add ‘good,’ were there not bad shepherds. But the bad shepherds are those who are thieves and robbers, or certainly hirelings at the best. (Saint Augustine. Tractates on the Gospel of Saint John, Tractate XLVI, no. 1)

One thought on “63 – We must listen to the debates of our time and perceive the ‘fragrance’ of the men of this age; listen to the people until breathing in the will to which God calls us.

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