In my first article The Coming Open Rebellion Against God, I spoke of a time where God would reveal his omnipotence and some would simply leave their faith behind. Why? Because just as in John 6, some would say it simply doesn’t make sense and walk away. Some have prayed that if only God would show His omnipotence; many would fall on their knees and believe. I truly believe the time is coming when some of our intelligentsia, including clergy will see the hand of God and say; “No thanks, this doesn’t mesh with my worldview.”
Father Dwight Longenecker recently wrote a review of the movie The Rite Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, a movie somewhat inspired by a real life Italian exorcist. The movie was given praise by many Catholic writers including Father Longenecker for actually showing the Church in a positive light. Perhaps this was due to the film’s producers using a California based exorcist Father Gary Thomas who actually was present at the filming of the movie. In a key passage Father Longenecker pondered the fact that far too many in this modern rationalistic world see the idea of the devil and demonic possession as beyond them, even though if they truly followed their rationalistic approach, they would come to see that there simply was no medical or scientific explanation for some cases. Sadly, for too many the sin of pride all too often is their downfall.
Recently Father Gary Thomas was interviewed by Leticia Velazquez of Catholic Exchange; some of his remarks about the way in which the teachings of the Church with regard to evil were defiantly rebuked by some within the Church including bishops were more than a little disconcerting. This movie review of The Rite by Father Raymond Schroth SJ associate Editor of America Magazine is one such example. As you can see, the devil is so passé to Father Schroth SJ. It hardly jibes with the high mindedness of those to which he and his urbane friends associate. Check out the comments section in the article, some of the comments left are as elitist and depressing as his treatise on who God is and who He should be.
George Weigel has noted the sad state of some quasi dissident bishops that Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have had to confront. They came from a mindset that preferred the adulation of the dissident intelligentsia of the Ivy League rather than the working class Catholic roots from which many came.
With regard to Jesus and the devil, Jesus spent a good deal of his time fighting the devil and his minions, but alas those who don’t believe in such things seem to indicate that Jesus and the Gospel writers got it wrong, Jesus was not fighting demonic powers but those who were dealing with bouts of depression and epilepsy. According to these liberal dissident elites, Jesus was the precursor to Dr Phil and Deepak Chopra helping those poor seemingly possessed people get their groove back and find their Zen destiny. Never mind what the Church teaches on the subject or the fact that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have specifically spoken of evil and the needs for more exorcists in the Church, these elites know better. Talk about hutzpah, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been labeled as intellectually brilliant, even by their detractors, but no matter to those who don’t believe in such archaic things as the devil. Perhaps we should ask those in the Church, especially in the Church Hierarchy, if you don’t believe what Jesus said about the devil and the manifestation of evil, what else don’t you believe?
Of all the Apostles Judas was the undisputed brainiac of the bunch, he was the best educated and ran in intellectual circles. We first see him crack at the end of Bread of Life Discourse in John 6; Jesus recognizes his disbelief and predicts dire consequences. Bishop Fulton Sheen often talked about this as defining moment for not only Judas, but those who think they better than Jesus and the Church He founded.
Jesus’ mission was not a political one, though He would have nothing to do with the occupying Roman Government. He simply asked his fellow Jews to obey reasonable laws, all the while ignoring the hedonistic Roman lifestyle, a lifestyle that encouraged the follow through of every sexual lifestyle, whim and urge. Fast forward some 2,000 years sound familiar? Many of the religious authorities at the time of Jesus were aiding and abetting the Romans with their acquiescence to this Roman hedonism. Much like their modern liberal counterparts, these liberal religious elitists were interested in the Economic Big Government Stimulus projects of their day, such as the booming Roman city of Sepphoris, an economic boomtown that Jesus may have come to on business during his carpentry days, but would have nothing to with during his three year ministry.
In my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism; I chronicled the liberal Catholic elitists and clergy who can’t understand why no one is joining their dying orders and why conservative ones are flourishing, the same can be said of their compatriots in the dying liberal Protestant denominations. Much to the dismay of the likes of Father Schroth SJ of America Magazine, new Jesuit seminarians are much more likely to find infinity with the late Cardinal Avery Dulles SJ and EWTN’s Father Mitch Pacwa SJ, than the likes of Father Drinan SJ or himself.
The great Catholic minds from Saint Albert the Great to Saint Thomas Aquinas never had a problem agreeing with the Church. As a matter of fact it was the founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola who once said, “The black I see is white, if the Church says it is so.” One can only imagine his ire seeing what some of his order has done to the Catholic colleges to which they were entrusted. One can hardly imagine a dissident Catholic liberal agreeing with St Ignatius of Loyola’s famous quote today. The liberal dissident will often in turn site his conscience as the chief arbiter of his decisions, never mentioning the Church’s teaching on a “well formed conscience.”
We have all read that some on the Church’s dissident left are aghast at the increasing number of orthodox minded bishops, these same dissidents don’t even like the term orthodox. In addition they fume at the number of Catholic young people who are joining conservative religious orders, as well as writing blogs that enthusiastically adhere to the teachings of the Church, and all the while encourage others to do the same. Yet with all of their self annointed wisdom isn’t it odd that so few of their dissident followers are finding their way to the seminary or motherhouse? Those who are aghast with this new embrace of orthodoxy must nearly become apoplectic when sites like Spirit Daily speak of Marian apparitions as well as evil and the devil. Never mind that Spirit Daily’s Michael Brown specifically says for your discernment with regard to these stories, for the high minded this is not of Charles Darwin or Carl Jung or even Rudolf Bultmann, therefore it is dismissed with ridicule.
Sadly even some self described conservative Catholics have a hard time with miracles, apparitions and demonic possession for somewhat of the same reason, but with a little different twist. These conservatives could never look their well regarded intellectual relativistic friends in the eye if their belief in miracles, apparitions and demonic possession was somehow confused with the man or woman who sees an image of Jesus in his or her burnt toast or an image of the Blessed Mother in a tortilla. This confusion would be more than their professional image could take.
Jesus was always willing to help those who wanted to know and believe, but He was somewhat ruthless with those who thought they knew better and simply wouldn’t believe. We see this in many occasions in the New Testament; the Bread of Life Discourse (John 6) and the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) to name but two.
Sadly it appears that when God will show His omnipotence in some miraculous way, too many of the best and brightest in the Church will follow their defiant ancestors and simply walk away. The one thing liberals and conservative share is their idealistic spirit. They truly want what they believe is best for others. Sadly, some just can’t let go of their egos and embrace God’s wisdom. I find this depressing. While I rejoice in the turning tide and the number of younger orthodox minded priests, nuns, bishops and laity, I am sure I am not alone in wanting to do what I can to help those who are still caught up in a spirit of rebellion, defiance and self adulation. However we must realize that if the spiritual ancestors of these individuals wouldn’t listen to Jesus, their modern counterparts certainly won’t listen to us. All we can do is simply pray that they change their ways and embrace the wisdom of God’s love and truth more than they relish their own pride and ego.