Our age is an age which wishes to “eliminate God, not only from the present and the future, but also from the past,” a prominent archbishop wrote last year. But fidelity to God, and His Truth, is the key to our happiness…
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.’”
—Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 13 and 14.
“As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth.
“For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
—St. Irenaeus of Lyon, Against All Heresies (Chapter 1, 10), c. 180 A.D. Irenaeus was a student of St. Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John. In this sense, Irenaeus was the “spiritual grandson” of St. John, author of the fourth Gospel.
“It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about.”—Ibid.
“Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [Rome], on account of its pre-eminent authority...” —Ibid.
The essential challenge we face today, and always, is to hold fast to the faith once handed down.
We in our time must strive to be one more link in a 2,000-year-old chain of faith, received in the beginning from Christ Himself, handed on since then, unbroken through myriad difficulties. This is why St. Irenaeus tells us that “the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East…” In other words, the Church of his time spoke with one voice. So must the Church in our time.
The Church does not speak with a national voice, even with the voice of a great nation like Germany… or the United States… or Argentina… or Italy…
The Church may speak with a symphony of voices, all speaking in harmony about what we have come to know, that is: the perennial Catholic faith.
From the first martyrs to the great Church Fathers of the 300s and 400s, from the astonishing missionaries like Augustine of England, and Boniface, and Cyril, and Methodius, to the great teachers like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, from the great monks like St. Anthony and St. Benedict and the Venerable Bede, to the great friars like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic, to the great mystics like St. Catherine of Siena and St. Joan of Arc and St. Teresa of Avila, to the great martyrs like St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher and St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Edith Stein, up to our own time — all of them preached with their lives the truth about Jesus Christ.
On October 18, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published an open letter which he had written to Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria, S.J., Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with copies to Cardinals Pietro Parolin and Peter Turkson, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia. “The Catholic Hierarchy,” Viganò wrote, “has experienced a decline in recent years that is directly proportional to the support it has accorded to the globalist ideology… But this is not the purpose for which Our Lord placed the Church on earth: she must first of all proclaim the Truth, keeping far away from dangerous inter-interests with the powerful of the earth, and even more so with those of them who are notoriously averse to the teaching of Christ and Catholic Morality. If the Hierarchy does not shake itself from this courtly enslavement, if it does not find the courage and dignity to stand up against the mentality of the world, it will be overwhelmed and fall victim to its own inability to be a stumbling block and a sign of contradiction.”
St. Irenaeus told us that Rome is the center of the Church, and “every Church should agree with this Church.” In this context, the words of St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, 12:1-2, take on special importance: “I beseech you therefore, breth ren… be not conformed to this world: but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God.”
The central truth Christianity proposes is that each man is in the image and likeness of God, and is meant, as St. Irenaeus tells us, to give “glory to God” by becoming fully alive through the vision of God. What does this mean? It means that any humanism, any de facto “deification” of man… any worship of man, not God… will not lead the human person to true happiness or true life but, on the contrary, will lead to misery. So let us all sing (and so become), “glory to God in the Highest.”