A blog for Catholic men that seeks to encourage virtue, the pursuit of holiness and the art of true masculinity.
Enemies of the Cross of Christ
October 5, 2015
The Gospel is undoubtedly good news. It is news of hope and mercy and salvation and of eternal happiness. As Christians, we are promised the resurrection. We are promised that all our pain and sorrow will be alleviated, and that one day God will wipe every tear from our eyes. We know that heaven awaits those who are faithful to the end, and that in heaven we will find the fulfillment of all our deepest longings, and that there we will know eternal joy.
Yes, the Gospel is good news—but it has always been a challenge too, for Jesus demands everything. He asks us, his disciples, to take up and carry our crosses after him on the narrow way. Why? Is it because he is capricious and mean? Hardly. It is because he is the great physician, and he must cure us of what is killing us, namely the deadly passions that would choke the life from our souls.
The disease of sin and death dwells at the deepest level of our being, and this sinful nature must be crucified if we are to be saved. This crucifixion is what is known as repentance. We must die to ourselves if we would be saved. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24).
So the Gospel is Good News, but it is also a sentence of death on our old nature. We cannot understand Christianity until we understand this fact: Heaven can only be found through the hard wood of the cross. There simply cannot be a joyful Easter without there first being a Good Friday.
Sadly, at the very highest levels of the Church, there are men who are opposed to the Gospel of Christ. They despise the cross and they want a Christianity free from it. They want a Catholicism sanitized of sacrifice, of repentance, of dying to self, of carrying one’s cross to follow Christ. They want an easy religion—a religion that accommodates us in our sin, that pats us on the back and assures us that everything will be ok, a faith that requires nothing of us.
To create this crossless religion, they believe they must change the Church and her immutable teachings. All their thought is bent upon it, and they are currently using every machination in their power to accomplish their aim. Perhaps their chief method is to question what is settled—to whisper like the serpent of old, “Did God really mean what he said?”
Put simply, these men are “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18). They are traitors to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. More than this, they would attack and mar Christ’s bride, refashioning her in their own image. This is a painful reality because we want to believe the best about our shepherds. We want to believe they can do no wrong, that they will always remain faithful and they have our best interest at heart. But tragically, this isn’t always true.
Yet, those who would soften the Gospel message are nothing new. Indeed, the wolves in sheeps clothing have existed from the earliest days of the Church. St. Paul frequently warned of such men who would come to lead souls astray:
“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29)
What to Do
Knowing that such enemies of the truth exist is not enough. The question arises, What should we do about it?
First, we must “hold fast to the traditions,” firmly rooting ourselves in what Catholics have always believed and done. When we are formed by the teachings and traditions of the faith, we will more easily discern truth from error.
Second, we must strengthen ourselves by frequent use of the sacrament of confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist. Only when we are in a state of grace will have the strength to pray and live as we ought in difficult times.
Third, we must stay close to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. She and Satan are engaged in an intense battle, a battle in which she will ultimately crush his head. The saints assure us that those who stay close to her will never be deceived and will never fall away. So learn to love your spiritual Mother.
Finally, pray and sacrifice. Pray for our shepherds. Pray for the Holy Father. Pray for priests and bishops everywhere. Every one of them has a target painted on their back, spiritually speaking. The devil loves nothing more than to discourage, and if possible, destroy our leaders.
The conclusion of the matter is this. There are enemies of the truth within the walls of the Church, those who would distort and pervert the Gospel of Christ. We cannot be complacent or assume that just because we know the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church that we can relax and do nothing. We must realize that we are engaged in a spiritual war, a war in which the only two outcomes are life and death. This war that must be fought and won with spiritual weapons. Pray, pray, pray.
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