Deep Roots in a Shallow World: Rediscovering Faith and Hope

Imagine being Christian in a rational world
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We must break the chains that these new totalitarian ideology wants to impose on us! If man refuses and cuts himself off from God, then he is like an immense and majestic river that, cut off from its source, sooner or later dries up and disappears. If man denies God and rejects him, he is like a giant tree that is deprived of its roots: he will die immediately.

Nicholas Berdyaev said:. Where there is no God, there is no man: that is what we have learned from experience. Or look at the true nature of Socialism, now that we can see what it really looks like. But a truth that stands out and can be seen no less clearly is that there cannot be religious neutrality or absence of religion: to the religion of the living God is opposed the religion of Satan, facing the faith of Christ there is the faith of Antichrist.

The neutral humanist kingdom that wanted to establish itself in an order intermediate between Heaven and Hell is in a state of corruption, and the two gulfs, of height above and of depth beneath, are disclosed. There rears up against the God-Man, not the man of the neutral intermediate kingdom, but the man-god, the man who has put himself in the place of God. The opposed poles of Being and of not-being are manifest and clear.

To refuse God the possibility of entering into all the aspects of human life results in man condemning himself to solitude. He becomes nothing but an isolated individual, without origin or destiny. He is doomed to wander the world like a nomadic barbarian, without knowing that he is the son and heir of a Father who created him in love and calls him to share eternal happiness with him.

Behold modern man: alone, wandering about in a field of ruins. This is what I found yesterday when I visited Notre-Dame in ruins. The spiritual crisis I describe involves the entire world. But its source is in Europe. Rejection of God was conceived in Western minds. The current spiritual disaster thus has distinctively Western features. In particular, I would like to emphasize the rejection of fatherhood.

Our contemporaries are convinced that, in order to be free, one must not depend on anybody. There is a tragic error in this. Western people are convinced that receiving is contrary to the dignity of human persons. But civilized man is fundamentally an heir, he receives a history, a culture, a language, a name, a family. This is what distinguishes him from the barbarian.

To refuse to be inscribed within a network of dependence, heritage, and filiation condemns us to go back naked into the jungle of a competitive economy left to its own devices. This understanding of dependence and transmission was deeply etched into the hearts of those who built Notre-Dame. They worked for decades and centuries, for their descendants, in many cases without seeing the end of their work for themselves.

They knew they were heirs and wanted to transmit their heritage. Because he refuses to acknowledge himself as an heir, man is condemned to the hell of liberal globalization in which individual interests confront one another without any law to govern them besides profit at any price.

In this book, however, I want to suggest to Western people that the real cause of this refusal to claim their inheritance and this refusal of fatherhood is the rejection of God. I see, in the depths of Western hearts, a profound refusal of the creative paternity of God. But we receive our nature as man and woman from God. This is intolerable to modern minds.

A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity

Jones - A short, sweet take on the potential faith of intelligent machines. We could debate this question endlessly, but one of the great dangers when it comes to Jesus and his teachings is to depersonalize the conversation. Every nation will worship me…. What was the teaching before Jesus wandered into the synagogue that morning? Some books find us at just the right time in our lives, and those books change our lives forever. Open your wardrobe. I've been worried sick!

Gender ideology is the refusal to receive a sexual nature from God. Thus some in the West revolt, rebel and fight against God. Opposing their Father and Creator head on, they pointlessly mutilate themselves in order to change their sex. But in reality they do not fundamentally change anything of their structure as man or woman. They materialize in a radical way their rebellious opposition and revolt against God. Modern philosophy and the modern spirit violently reject and attack the natural law; recall what St. The negation of natural law is the ultimate extreme of the rejection of God, the proclamation of liberty without limits as the absolute value and justification for sin.

Gender ideology is a perfect example of this. The West refuses to receive, and will accept only what it constructs for itself. Transhumanism is the ultimate avatar of this movement. Because it is a gift from God, human nature itself becomes unbearable for Western man. This revolt is spiritual at root. It is the revolt of Satan against the gift of grace. He refuses to receive salvation, wanting to build it for himself. God has looked upon the West and has loved it because it has done wonderful things.

He invited it to go further, but the West turned back. It preferred the kind of riches that it owed only to itself. The great cathedrals of the West could have been built only by men of great faith and great humility who were profoundly happy to know that they were sons of God. They are the work of sons who love and adore their heavenly Father! All were glad to carve into stone an expression of their faith and love for God, and not for the glory of their own name. Their art works were meant to glory and praise God alone.

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Modern Western man is too sad to achieve such works of art. He has chosen to be a solitary orphan: how can he chant the glory of the eternal Father from whom he has received all? Well then, what shall he do? Before the ruins of Notre-Dame, some have been tempted to say: See, this building has served its purpose. Let us build something new, more modern.

Let us build something after our own image! In the same way, some people look at the Catholic Church and say: this Church has served its purpose, let us change it, let us make a new Church after our own image. They think: the Church is no longer credible, we no longer hear her voice in the media. She is too marred by the scandals of pedophilia and homosexuality amidst the clergy. Too many of her clergy are wicked. It is necessary to change her, reinvent her. Priestly celibacy is too difficult for our times: Make it optional! Dilute it with relativism and laxity.

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Change it! Adapt it to the mentalities and moral perversities of our time. Let us adopt the new globalist ethic promoted by the UN and gender ideology! Let us make the Church a human and horizontal society, let her speak a media-friendly language, make her popular! My friends, such a Church interests no one.

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My dear friends, the world has no use for a Church that offers nothing more than a reflection of its own image! The Church is only of interest because she allows us to encounter Jesus. She is only legitimate because she passes on Revelation to us. When the Church becomes overburdened with human structures, it obstructs the light of God shining out in her and through her. The Church should be like a cathedral. Everything in Her should sing to the glory of God.

She must unceasingly direct our gaze toward him, like the spire of Notre-Dame pointed toward heaven. My dear friends, we must rebuild the cathedral. We must rebuild it exactly as it was before. We do not need to invent a new Church. So, what is the first thing to do? You want to rebuild this beautiful cathedral that is the Catholic Church? Get on your knees! A cathedral is first of all a place where men can kneel, a cathedral is where God is present in the Most Holy Sacrament. The most urgent task is to recover a sense of adoration!

The loss of a sense of adoration of God is the source of all the fires and crises that are rocking the world and the Church. We need adorers! The world is dying because it lacks adorers! The Church is parched for lack of adorers to quench her thirst! We will not rediscover an understanding of the dignity of the human person unless we recognize the transcendence of God. Man is only great and most noble when he falls on his knees before God.

The great man is humble and the humble man is on his knees! My friends, if we sometimes despair in the face of the powers of this world, if we sometimes lay down our arms before the powers of this world, remember that no one has the power to take away your freedom to kneel! If impious priests abuse their authority and brutalize you to prevent you from kneeling to receive Holy Communion, do not lose your calm and serenity before the Eucharistic Lord. Do not resist them, but rather pray for these priests whose behavior blasphemes and profanes him whom they hold in their hands.

Try to imitate the humility of God and let your heart, your will, your intelligence, your self-love and your whole interior being kneel. A man on his knees is more powerful than the world! He is an unshakable rampart against the atheism and folly of men. A man on his knees makes Satan tremble in all his pride! All of you who, to the eyes of men, are without power and influence, but who know how to kneel before God, have no fear of those who want to intimidate you!

Your mission is great. I speak especially to you who are sick, weak of body or mind, you who suffer a handicap, whom society finds useless and wants to suppress: when you pray, when you adore, you are great! You have a particular dignity because you uniquely resemble Christ crucified! We wish to serve you, love you, console you, please you.

We wish also to learn from you. You preach us the Gospel of adoration in your suffering. You are a treasure! A cathedral no longer makes sense if the liturgy we celebrate there is not entirely meant to orient us toward God, toward the cross. Therefore, our cathedral needs priests who will celebrate the liturgy of the Mass and the liturgy of the Hours in it. If the people of God are to adore, then priests and bishops must be the first adorers.

Their existence is meant to be an unending prayer, a permanent liturgy. They are our leaders. Very often it is bishops and priests who neglect adoration. Thus, they are centered on themselves and their activities, preoccupied with the human results of their ministry. They do not find time for God, because they have lost the sense of God. God has no more place in their life. My dear friends, I am convinced that at the heart of the crisis of the Church is a crisis of the priesthood, a crisis of priests.

If the cathedral is collapsing, it is because priestly identity has collapsed first. We have made them think they must be businessmen, efficient workers, active and present everywhere at every minute. But the priest is fundamentally a continuation among us of the presence of Christ. He must not be defined by what he does but by what he is. He is ipse Christus , Christ himself. The discovery of many cases of sexual abuse against minors reveals a profound spiritual crisis, a grave, deep, and tragic rupture between the priest and Christ.

But we must have the courage to go further. As Benedict XVI said recently, the roots of this crisis are spiritual. The ultimate reason for abuse or for a moral life incompatible with priestly celibacy is the concrete absence of God in the life of priests. We have witnessed for a long time now the spread of a priestly life that is no longer determined by the faith. Now if there is any life that must be entirely and absolutely determined by the faith, it is the priestly life.

In the final analysis, the reason for abuse is the absence of God. Only where faith no longer determines the actions of man are such offenses possible. As Benedict XVI has reminded us:. The center of our life must really be the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I have dedicated this book to the priests of the whole world because I know that they are suffering.

Many of them feel abandoned. We, the bishops, bear a large share of responsibility for the crisis of the priesthood. Have we been fathers to them? Have we listened to them, understood and guided them? Have we given them an example? Too often dioceses are transformed into administrative structures. There are so many meetings. The bishop should be the model for the priesthood. But we ourselves are far from being the ones most ready to pray in silence, or to chant the Office in our cathedrals.

I fear that we lose ourselves in secondary, profane responsibilities. When he celebrates Mass, he is at the source of his whole life, which is the Cross. Celibacy is one of the concrete ways that allows us to live this mystery of the Cross in our lives. Celibacy inscribes the Cross on our flesh. That is why celibacy is intolerable for the modern world.

Priestly celibacy is a scandal for moderns, because the Cross is a scandal. In this book, I wish to encourage priests. I want to tell them: love your priesthood! Be proud to be crucified with Christ! I wish to show my affection as a father and brother for the priests of the whole world! I want to express, before you and with you, my profound affection for all faithful priests in the world! I want before you and wish you to render them homage! Dear friends, love your priests! Do not thank them for what they do but for what they are!

Dear friends, do not be troubled by the tendentious investigations that portray the disastrous situation of irresponsible clergy, whose interior lives are diseased, who are even at the very centre of government of the Church.

Stay serene and confidant like the Virgin and St. John at the foot of the Cross. Immoral priests, bishops, and cardinals cannot tarnish the bright testimony of more than four-hundred thousand priests across the world who serve the Lord every day with faith, holiness, joy, and humility! We must be realistic and concrete. Yes, there are sinners. Yes, there are unfaithful priests, bishops, and even cardinals who fail to observe chastity. But also, and this is also very grave, they fail to hold fast to true doctrine! Sin should not surprise us. On the other hand, we must have the courage to call it by name.

We must not be afraid to rediscover the methods of spiritual combat: prayer, penance, and fasting. We must have the clear-sightedness to punish unfaithfulness. We must find the concrete means to prevent it. I believe that without a common prayer life, without a minimum of common fraternal life between priests, fidelity is an illusion. We must look to the model of the Acts of the Apostles. I want to repeat to you priests and religious who are hidden and forgotten, you whom society often despises, you who are faithful to the promises of your ordination, you make the powers of this world tremble!

You remind them that nothing can resist the force present in the gift of your life for the truth. You remind them of the vital and indispensable presence of God for the future of humanity. Your presence is intolerable to the prince of lies. Without you, dear brother priests and consecrated people, humanity would be less great, less radiant, and less beautiful!

Without you our cathedrals would be useless buildings without life! You are the living rampart of the truth because you have resolved to love even to the point of the Cross. Dear brother priests, dear religious brothers and sisters, the experience of the Cross is the experience of the truth of our life! The man or cleric who proclaims the truth of God inevitably climbs upon the Cross. He will experience the passion, crucifixion, and death of the Cross. All Christians, and priests in particular, are constantly on the Cross so that through their witness the truth may shien forth and lies be destroyed.

In an extraordinary way, we carry around always and everywhere on our bodies the sufferings and death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies see 2 Cor I often hear it said that priestly celibacy is only a question of historical discipline. I firmly believe that this is false. As we said above, celibacy reveals the very essence of Christian priesthood, namely the perfect configuration and total identification of the priest with Christ, High Priest of the New Covenant and of the good things to come Heb In this sense, the priest is not only an alter Christus , another Christ, he is truly ipse Christus , Christ himself.

And because Christ and the Apostles lived in perfect chastity and celibacy as a sign of their total and absolute gift to the Father, it is thus fundamental today as well to see celibacy as a vital necessity for the Church. To speak of it as a secondary reality is hurtful to all the priests of the world! I am deeply persuaded that the relativization of the law of priestly celibacy will reduce the priesthood to a simple function.

But priesthood is not a function but a state. To be a priest is not first and foremost to do something, but to be something. It is to be Christ; it is to be the extension of the presence of Christ among men. The priest for his part gives himself as Christ was given for the whole Church. Celibacy manifests this gift, and is its concrete and vital sign.

Celibacy is the seal of the Cross on our priestly life! It is the cry of the priestly soul proclaiming its love for the Father and its total gift of self to the Church! The desire to relativize celibacy leads to scorning this radical gift that so many faithful priests have lived since the day of their ordination. I want to shout with so many of my fellow priests my profound suffering in the face of this scorn for priestly celibacy! Of course, there can be weakness in this domain. But he who falls rises immediately and pursues his way following Christ with more fidelity and determination.

And then, dear friends, what else does our cathedral need? It needs solid pillars to support the vaults. What are these pillars? What foundation is needed to support the graceful slenderness of the Gothic rib-vaults? The Catholic doctrine we have received from the apostles is the only solid foundation we can find. If everyone defends his own opinion, theological hypotheses, novelties, or a pastoral approach that contradicts the demands of the Gospel and the perennial Magisterium of the Church, then division will spread everywhere.

I am wounded when I see so many pastors selling off Catholic doctrine and sowing division among the faithful.

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We owe the Christian people a clear teaching, firm and stable. How can we allow bishops and episcopal conferences to contradict one another? Where confusion reigns, God cannot dwell! For God is Light and Truth. Unity of faith assumes the unity of the magisterium across space and time. When we are confronted with a new teaching, it must always be interpreted in continuity with the teaching that preceded. If we introduce ruptures and revolutions, we destroy the unity that governs the holy Church across the ages.

This does not mean that we are condemned to a theological fixism. But all evolution must lead to a better understanding and deepening of the past. The hermeneutic of reform in continuity that Benedict XVI so clearly taught is a condition sine qua non of unity. Those who loudly proclaim change and rupture are false prophets! They are not seeking the good of the flock. They are mercenaries let in by deceit into the sheepfold!

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Our unity is forged around the truth of Catholic doctrine and the moral teaching of the Church. There are no other means. Do not fear! What greater gift is there for humanity than the truth of the Gospel? Some Christians seem to want to deprive themselves of this light and wisdom. They limit themselves to looking at the world with secular eyes.

Is it the wish to be accepted by the world? The wish to be like the world? What a duty! To renounce being the salt of the earth is to condemn the world to remain bland and tasteless. To renounce being the light of the world is to condemn it to darkness and abandon it to the shadows of its rebellion against God! We must not let this happen! Indeed let us turn toward the world: in order to bring it the only light that does not deceive.

When the Church turns toward the world, this cannot entail that she hides the scandal of the Cross, but only that she makes it accessible once again in its naked reality. Dear friends, I was deeply moved spiritually by a photograph published the day after the fire at Notre-Dame of Paris. In the photo, the interior of the church is visible, heaped with debris and still smoking.

But above these heaps of shattered stones, the luminous cross installed by Cardinal Lustiger is still standing! Only the truth of the Cross remains, the truth of Catholic doctrine. If turning toward the world means turning from the Cross, that will not lead to a renewal but to death! Among many Christians there is a fear and repugnance of witnessing to the faith or carrying the light of the Gospel to the world.

Our faith has become lukewarm, like a slowly fading memory. It is becoming like a cold fog. We no longer dare to claim that it is the only light of the world. We have to give witness not to ourselves, but to God who has come to meet us and revealed himself in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. It is therefore urgent to insist on the teaching of catechism to adults and children.

We have a wonderful tool for that purpose: the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium. The failure of catechetics leads many Christians to hold only a vague idea of the faith or even a kind of religious syncretism. Some chose to believe one article of the Creed and reject another. As far as we know, Elizabeth never accepted Christ. Faces of family members or good friends who walked away from Jesus or never accepted Him flashed before me. What kind of story would I hear if Annie Smith—poet and unofficial managing editor of the fledgling Adventist paper in Rochester, New York—could speak today?

I think I would hear enthusiasm, optimism, passion, deep convictions, and the seemingly limitless energy of young adults. I can still feel that passion today when I speak with my teenage daughter about topics that she is passionate about. When Adventist teenagers get it, nothing can stop them. That was a vital part of the success story of early Adventism. They were few; they had limited resources—yet they were ready to move forward, convicted by truth, and assured of divine appointment. I need to rediscover that drive in my own life.

As I listened to the stories of William Miller and those who followed him, their sacrificial spirit and fortitude touched me again. They were willing to hold their beliefs regardless of ridicule, scorn, or derision. For all his later faithfulness, it took William Miller many years to fix his heart on Jesus. Once converted, he spent two years studying Scripture.

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He realized that the God of revelation was also the God who created our powers of reasoning. They became my delight; and in Jesus I found a friend. Scholars estimate that the Millerite movement encompassed at its height approximately , people in North America. This was no irrelevant, backwater Christian sideshow—it was loud; it was noisy; it was fearless; and it was passionate. Faithfulness in difficult circumstances seems to have been a trademark of many of our early leaders.

Percy T. Magan, one of the early educators of the fledgling Seventh-day Adventist Church, at times faced opposition to his wholistic approach to education. One day he received a tempting invitation from W. Kellogg to join the new company producing cornflakes as director of the sales department. Magan spent an entire night praying about this tempting invitation. In the morning, he knew the direction he had to go. Others, feeling embarrassed and misled, rejected Christianity altogether. On the morning following the Great Disappointment, as Edson crossed a cornfield, he suddenly felt as if heaven had been opened and he could see right into the heavenly sanctuary.

This discovery helped the scattered Advent believers make sense of the big picture of Bible prophecy. I wish we could capture its centrality for the total package of what makes the Seventh-day Adventist Church. One of the most important lessons I am bringing home from my journey is that family sticks together.

Family members cry together—and sometimes they even disagree. Foss had refused to share visions. When I read the history of early Adventist pioneers, I find strong convictions and passionate discussions. However, that was not the end. There was something bigger that moved us forward: a world that needed to know.

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From the beginnings of early Adventism this vision has grown. Early Adventists thought that they had to reach the world in the United States; after all, this was a country of immigrants from all over the world. Andrews to Europe in , mission and service became the rallying cry of Adventism. It must be still today. There is one more insight from this route to our roots: Our pioneers were real people, living in a real world; and they were no saints. They pushed forward because they knew that time was short. And while I wait, I want to share the Good News.