Time For Faithful Christians To Stand Together Against Error
common morality which has guided social progress.
In fact, it was these very insights which have helped to free people from the bondage of disordered appetites and unshackle them from the tyrannies - personal and social - rooted in sin and the structures which it fosters.
It has been the Christian vision of the human person, the family, the just society and the true common good that has helped to overcome the slaveries which arose from flawed pagan ideologies and superstitions.
From its birth, the Christian Church has been sent into cultures and societies filled with people who thought they were "progressive", when they were anything but.
Many of those cultures practiced primitive forms of abortion and even "exposure", a practice of leaving unwanted children on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or picked up by slave traders.
Ancient Christian manuscripts such as the Didache (the Teaching of the Twelve), the accounts of Justin Martyr and other early sources, expose cultures - not unlike the one in which we live - where people were treated as property, "freedom" was perceived as a power over others and unrestrained license masqueraded as liberty.
The early Christians did not back down from contending with the pagans of old. They knew then - and we must reassert in our own day - that what is at stake are two competing visions of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing and human progress.
The early Christians demonstrated the superiority of their claims by their compelling witness of life. So must we. They lived in monogamous marriages, raised their children to be faithful Christians and good citizens, and went into the world of their age offering a new way to live.
This "way" (which is what they first called the early Church) presented a very different worldview than the one that the pagans embraced. As a result, they sometimes stirred up hostility. Some of them were martyred in the red martyrdom of shed blood.
Countless more joined the train of what use to be called "white martyrdom", living lives of sacrificial witness and service in the culture, working hard and staying faithful to the end of a long life spent in missionary toil.
Slowly, not only were small numbers of "pagans" converted and baptized, but eventually their leaders and entire Nations followed suit. Resultantly, the Christian worldview began to influence the social order.
The "clash of freedoms" continued, but the climate changed significantly. It was the Christian faith and the practices of these early Christians that began to win the hearts of men and women.
Cultures once embracing pagan practices, such as plural marriage, active homosexual practice, exposure of infants and abortion began to change dramatically. This dynamic continued for centuries.
Christianity taught such novel concepts as the dignity of every person and their equality before the One God. The Christians proclaimed the dignity of women, the dignity of chaste marriage and the sanctity of the family.
Christians insisted that freedom must be exercised with reference to an objective moral code, a law higher than the emperor, or the sifting sands of public opinion; a Natural Law which could be known by all men and women, through the exercise of reason, because it was written on the human heart.
Christians presented a coherent and compelling answer to the existential questions that plagued the ancients such as why we existed and how we got here. What was the purpose of life? Questions like how evil came into the world and why we could not always make right choices? What force seemed to move us toward evil and how we could be set free from its power?
Christian philosophy began to flourish and the arts also flourished under the Christian worldview. Philosophies of government and economic theory began to be influenced by these principles derived from a Christian worldview. It offers the same genuine liberation to the contemporary age.
Some say we live in a post modern age; indeed others call it a "post Christian" age. I will not use either description. If anything, it is a pre-Christian age, ripe for the "New Evangelization" of the Church. The future belongs to the Church.
The message and gifts she holds for every age pave the road of true progress. The contemporary re-emergence of ancient paganism, even embraced by some within some Christian communities, is not the path to freedom and flourishing but to misery. It must be exposed, opposed and rejected.
Fortunately for Catholic Christians, we have a "Magisterium", a teaching office, which, continuing the apostolic mission, guards the deposit of faith against heresy in both doctrine and practice. Many of our friends in other Christian communities do not.
We need to pray for the faithful Christians within every community in our own day. Together we must rededicate ourselves to standing "Against Heresies" by proclaiming the Truth which alone sets all men and women free.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: error, heresy, heterodoxy, mere christianity, faithful, apologetics, Deacon Keith Fournier
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