The Church is the Danger

St Ignatius & Paul III

In early 18th century Britain, a rash of pamphlets and sermons came forth from press and pulpit, all decrying the state of the Church of England at that time.  “The Church in Danger” was the rallying cry of High Church clergymen and other Tories, concerned that Whig politicians had undermined belief in the inviolability of the Church.  They opposed all moves toward toleration of dissent, and tried to resurrect doctrines of divine right toward the monarchy (unsuccessfully).  In every age, this is the cry of concerned Christians everywhere:  the Church is in danger, it is beset on all sides by enemies, within, without, down in her very bosom.  What can we do against such enemies, other than pray?

On this Feast of St. Ignatius–a saint who lived in a time when the Church was, par excellence, in danger, and responded accordingly–these thoughts have been occasioned by reading a sermon by a priest at a Latin Mass parish.  In it, the good priest bewailed the influence of Protestantism, of Renaissance humanism, of the Enlightenment, and other assorted ills, which he believes at the root of the present crisis.  No doubt, they are.  But he is quite wrong about the Church.  Those quasi-Protestant-humanist-individualists are no threat to anyone’s salvation; their beliefs, their deluded attempts to alter her sacred teaching and mission, are pathetic, as are they.  Let me repeat:  they are no threat to the Church.

No, the Church is not in danger of “Protestantism” from within or “secularism” from without; it is the Church itself that is the threat to us mere mortals.  It is the Church which is dangerous.  It is dangerous–to us–to those who believe.  Because to cleave to God even only once, in earnest, in hope of salvation, is like walking a tightrope between skyscrapers:  should you lose your balance ever so slightly, you will fall, and meet certain death.  To aspire to that eternal summit, is to risk falling from it. Once the stakes have been raised that high, been made eternal in their significance, nothing else can take their place.  Nothing else can satisfy.  That is the risk of being a Catholic and a Christian. The metaphysical emptiness and despair of post-Christian civilization is a testament to this: wherever it has been once embraced authentically, and then abandoned, there is simply death and nothingness.  Christ’s body, where it is not, leaves behind a hole that can never be filled.  Thus the stakes for anyone who accepts the Cross and hopes for the Resurrection, are without limit:  it is not that the Church is in danger, but like Walter White, it is the danger.

~ by Alypius on July 31, 2017.

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