Friday, May 20, 2016

Why the Gospel Seed Falls on Hard Earth

Cardinal Sarah was recently in the U.S., and gave a bracing speech on how the spread of the Gospel (largely) depends on the life of the family.  We know from experience and even empirical data (yes, statistics) that religious vocations disproportionately come from healthy, devout Catholic homes.  We also know that Christ-centered homes typically produce Christ-centered offspring.  By contrast, in wounded families the grace of God has to follow a more circuitous route.

In his speech, Cardinal Sarah draws heavily from St John Paul II:

"St. John Paul explained: if it is true that the family is the place where more than anywhere else human beings can flourish and truly be themselves, it is also a place where human beings can be humanly and spiritually wounded.  The rupture of the foundational relationships of someone’s life – through separation, divorce or distorted impositions of the family, such as cohabitation and same sex unions – is a deep wound that closes the heart to self-giving love unto death, and even leads to cynicism and despair. These situations cause damage to little children through inflicting upon them a deep existential doubt about love. They are a scandal – a stumbling block – that prevents the most vulnerable from believing in such love, and a crushing burden that can prevent them from opening to the healing power of the Gospel."

To such children, love itself is a lie, a myth, and the God-who-is-love is believed to be equally false.  This reasoning comes from a masterstroke of the Devil, his trump card, and it is his chosen play in our times.  We see the casualties of this battle all the time in the street apostolate, and it is a primary stumbling block for receiving the Gospel.  St. John Paul II wisely observed that, "The future of the world and the Church passes through the family."  In other words, as our families go, so goes the Church and ultimately the world.  Sister Lucia of Fatima fame even prophesied to Cardinal Caffara that "the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family."

Sr. Lucia & John Paul II, a meeting of saints

Along with these warnings, Sister Lucia, John Paul II and Cardinal Sarah all remind us that Christ is triumphant over sin and history (apologies to Marx).  In fact, these three illustrious members of Christ's body are part of God's victory plan, and so are you and I!

I encourage you to listen to Cardinal Sarah's entire speech here.  He begins at the 1:15:00 mark.

African Methodists on Cardinal Sarah

The other night while walking 82nd, I was flagged down by five Methodist ministers from different countries in Africa. They were in Portland, Oregon for the United Methodist's General Conference.  They struck me as kind, upright men--true Christians--and so were excellent representatives from their home nations.  We talked of two things: Wal-mart and Cardinal Sarah.  They were searching for Wal-mart to buy items that were difficult to find in their homelands.  After I helped them with the bus transit down to Wal-mart, we spoke of Cardinal Sarah.  They became animated, and described him as "an honorable man" who is "fighting the good fight."  They were referring to Cardinal Sarah's defense of the divine plan for the family.  You see, earlier in the day they helped to vote down the usual LBTQ proposals at their Conference. Then with smiles and shining eyes the ministers declared Cardinal Sarah "the next pope".  It was a happy thought and revealed that Cardinal Sarah is the pride of Africa.  Africa has been called "Christ's new homeland", and the good men reminded me why Africa is the future of the faith.

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