Whether one looks to the hedonism on display in the 'Gay Pride' marches or the growing hostility toward faithful Christians being shown by by the Obama Regime, or the rise of extremist anti-Christian Islam, there is an inescapable conclusion - we are living in a new missionary age. Peter Kreeft is correct. Love does fight! Pope Leo XIII in his insightful Encyclical Letter on the Wisdom of Christianity reminded us all, "Christians are born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph." We are called to spiritual combat.
DENVER, CO (Catholic Online) - Whether one looks to the hedonism on display in the 'Gay Pride' marches, the growing hostility toward faithful Christians being shown by the Obama Regime, or the rise of extremist anti-Christian Islam, there is an inescapable conclusion - we are living in a new missionary age.
An old friend, one of the great Christian writers and apologists of our age, Peter Kreeft, gave an interview to Life site News in which he made an astute observation concerning a connection between the rise of radical homosexualism and Islam.
In an interview with by John-Henry Westen, Peter spoke to Steve Jalsevac, and offered some insights.They should be read by anyone who wants to understand the urgency of the hour. Here is an excerpt: "Asked about the simultaneous rise of militant Islam and the homosexual activist movement despite their opposing ideologies, Kreeft replied: "They're the only two movements in Western civilization that will fight and die for their beliefs."
"It is an amazing paradox that they're opposites in almost every way, and yet they're similar in that they will still fight," added Kreeft. "Christians are supposed to fight too, the notion of spiritual warfare, the true meaning of jihad - a war against sin rather than flesh and blood. This is central to Christianity and we've lost it, and therefore opposite forces are entering the vacuum."
"Kreeft explained that as the Christian faith has weakened in the West, "it has caused a vacuum.Well, in Western civilization, at least, there is certainly a moral and religious decline.we're losing the faith. Europe is already almost lost," he said. "Nature abhors a vacuum, spiritually as well as physically. So when the Faith weakens, another faith enters, because no one can live without faith, and Islam is a very strong faith. It has its good points; it has its bad points. But when we withdraw from the battlefield, someone else enters. It's as simple as that."
"Asked specifically about the reason for the rise of the homosexual activist movement, Dr. Kreeft replied: "Because we became sheep. We said, "Abuse us. We're polite. We'll smile at you. We are tolerant of everything. When people are that way, someone who has principles, bad or good, enters. We so worship equality that we are afraid to be different, to be distinctive, to have a distinctive message. And equality is a good defensive weapon, but it has no offense in it. We need equal rights to protect ourselves, but we need something much deeper than equality: We need distinctiveness, we need identity. And if we abandon that, others will come in and take over."
"Kreeft stressed however, that in confronting homosexuality Christians are being loving, in the truest definition of the word. Love fights. Love cares. Love discriminates. And therefore there is in Scripture, very clearly, a thing called the 'wrath of God'. God hates all enemies of love as the doctor hates the cancer that's killing his beloved patient. If you really love a human being you will hate all the dehumanizing forces that are harmful to that human being," he said. "If on the other hand you don't really love a human being but just tolerate a human being, then you will hate nothing," Kreeft added. "So, love and hate go together. Love of a human being, no matter who he is, and hate of a human being, no matter who he is, are exact opposites, they are black and white. But love of all humans and hate of all sins - that goes together."
"How can Christianity experience a renewal in North America and Europe? Kreeft answered in his characteristic rapid fire style stating simply: "It must recapture its essence, its identity. It must return to Jesus it must do what Vatican II did - go back to the sources and plant the roots in the only possible foundation."
Peter Kreeft is correct. Love does fight! Pope Leo XIII in his insightful Encyclical Letter on the Wisdom of Christianity reminded us all, "Christians are born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph." We are called to spiritual combat in this hour. I continue to read depressing accounts of our age and of the current state of the Church in multiple Catholic sources. ENOUGH! Make no mistake, I understand the concerns. I am not naive. However, I absolutely reject the cynicism often embedded in some of these accounts.
I choose instead to try to cultivate the theological virtue of hope, by cooperating with grace,and do what I can to turn the tide by joining with others who will respond to the call given words by the great prophet Isaiah, to be 'repairers of the breach' and 'rebuild the devastated cities'. (IS 58:12). We are living in a new missionary age. We - that's right you and me, in whatever state in life we are in - are the missionaries. It is time to enter into the spiritual combat the hour requires with those 'weapons of our warfare'. St Paul reminds us, ''the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds'.
I choose instead to try to live in that theological virtue of hope and be about rebuilding the devastated culture. The cultures which the early first century Christians went into were like our own. What was different? The Christians were different! They had a living faith. They showed heroic virtue. They had courage. They had no time for cynicism. They had a mission to accomplish. Are we going to give in to 'stinkin thinkin', whatever version it takes, or will we lower our nets for the catch of this moment in Christian history? You see, the Lord knows the waters. He still calms them for those who ask. (Luke 8:24, Mt. 8:23-27) Then, he makes us fish in those waters.He has given us us all we need to catch men and women of this age for His Church and bring them in the boat. (Matt. 4:19)
One of my favorite Gospel accounts is recorded in St. John: "So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish." (John 21)
The apostles were trained in the skills required of fishermen. However, they were unable to catch any fish. When they responded in obedience to the Lord and cast the net on the proper side, they caught so many that their nets were breaking. When they stopped relying only on their own skills, stopped complaining about the circumstances, and chose to enter into the stream of living faith, they experienced the miracle of the catch. The miraculous provision filled them with awe and drew Peter to an appropriate action. He focused on Jesus and moved toward Him.
In Luke's account, Peter's action was accompanied by repentance, a very evangelical response to encountering the Lord. Jesus tells him, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." The passage ends with the proper response from every disciple of the Lord, "When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him." (Luke 5) These words formed the basis of a 2001 letter from Blessed John Paul II entitled "At the Beginning of the New Millennium." In that letter he called for a rebirth of a missionary spirit in what he called a New Evangelization. His Holiness Benedict XVI continued the call in both word and deed during his wonderful service in the Chair of Peter.
Now, with the inspiring leadership of our Holy Father Francis, we are witnessing a missionary Pope, perhaps like few in history. He has done nothing but evangelize from the moment he stepped out onto that balcony at St Peters. His words and his actions have set the tone. There is no doubt that he is leading us all to embrace the missionary moment in which we live. He is calling us to live our lives in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world. He is sending us out in response to the command of Jesus to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. (Mk 16:15, Lk. 14:23, Mt. 28:19)
Jesus Christ is Lord. His salvation is extended to all men and women. The Church is God's plan for the entire world. The early Fathers called her the world reconciled. Through Baptism, we were born into a new relational reality; we now live in the Church for the sake of the world. We are called to love the Church with the affection of sons and daughters because she is our mother. There is no plan B through which He will save this world. He established One Church through which to continue His work until His return. She has undergone purifications and reforms many times throughout her missionary journey for over two thousand years. Her hull may be battered but she is still the Ark of Salvation.
Church history demonstrates that seasons of purification are usually followed by times of great restoration and triumph for the Church. So it is in our own day.This Church that is called Catholic is not a mere human institution. If it were, it would have shipwrecked long ago. The Church exists to evangelize and that the essential nature of the Church is missionary. The Catholic Church has always taught that every single human being on the face of the earth has a right to hear the liberating Gospel message of Jesus Christ as fully revealed in the heart of His Catholic Church. That will be accomplished in this hour by you and me, no matter what our state in life, or specific vocation.
We are all baptized into Christ to participate in the saving mission of His Church. However, in order to be able to engage such a missionary task, many Catholic Christians need to be renewed in their own baptismal faith through a personal and transformative encounter with the Risen Lord. In addition, that encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ needs to be strengthened and secured by solid catechesis in living as a Catholic Christian. This is what is meant by the New Evangelization.
This New Evangelization invites us to live our baptismal vocation, completely given over to the work of the Lord, in the heart of the Church, for the sake of the world. It is meant to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can then undertake a new missionary outreach to the whole world. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical mission. The Church is the Ark, the boat, presided over by the Lord. He is at the helm, steering His redemptive course through time. The Lord of the harvest is calling workers for the New Evangelization and the new missionary age. He is sending us out on mission, fishing for men, women and Nations. He will work His saving and redemptive mission in and through us, because we are members of His Mystical Body, the Church.
We are alive at the beginning of a what will become a great resurgence of the Catholic Church. This is a part of God's plan for this new missionary age. Just when her opponents are ready to count the Catholic Church out, the sleeping giant is rising. Along with the needed purification of the Church, the seeds of a new springtime really are beginning to sprout, despite the cynics mocking banter. For example, the fact that the ecclesial movements are flourishing, new and renewed religious communities are growing, new and renewed Colleges and Universities, desirous of being fully and faithfully Catholic, are flourishing, all point to the work of the Holy Spirit.
These movements are the seedbed of vocations, sending out missionaries into every segment of the fields of this age which are ripe for harvest. There is a growing dynamically orthodox Catholic faith and life being manifested among the lay faithful. The movement of our Anglican friends into full communion, the growing number of other Christians' coming home to the full communion of the Catholic Church, the movement toward the healing of the division between East and West, are all signs of a resurgent Catholic Church and a new missionary age.
The Lord who birthed the Church from His wounded side on Golgotha's Hill - and died for her - is purifying her and renewing her by His Spirit to continue his redemptive work until he returns to bring it to completion. He has been raised from the dead and now walks with our feet into this moment, our moment. We are not alone! We are at the Dawn of a New Missionary Age, even though we do not yet see the light in the dusk in so many places. It is there and will soon appear. There is work to be done. We are all missionaries. Let us be about the work of this hour and stop our whining and complaining. The Moral Vacuum calls us to Lower Our Nets for a Catch.
Why are Militant Homosexualism and Radical Islam on the Rise? We should examine our own actions, or lack therof, to find the answer. We must become fishers of men and women and lower our nets for the catch.We must not retreat, because we were born for this hour.
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