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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

THE MERCIFUL GRACE OF THE TRUTH by George Weigel and THE HARMONY OF GOD DISCOVERED WITHIN DIVERSITY by the Elder Father Paisios



At the Easter Vigil a few weeks ago, tens of thousands of men and women, mature adults, were baptized or entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Each of them walked a unique itinerary of conversion; each of these “newborn babes” (1 Peter 2.2) is a singular work of the Holy Spirit. Some of them came to Catholicism from an empty space, a spiritual desert; others found in the Catholic Church a more complete expression of the one Church of Christ into which they had been baptized, albeit in a different Christian community. So there are no grand generalizations to be made about those who became Catholics at Easter.


But it’s probably fair to say that few of them embraced Catholicism because they found it ambiguous. Or were uncertain about the Creed it professes. Or were confused about its understanding of how Christians ought to live the truth of their baptism. In fact, it’s almost certainly the case that, for many of those who came into full communion with the Catholic Church from other Christian communities, it was the doctrinal and moral confusions in the community of their baptism that led them to seek a Church that knew what it believed, why (and Who) it worshipped, and how it proposed that we should live.

If these new Catholics were properly catechized before their baptism or reception, they were also prepared for the Christian reality of failure, which the Church calls “sin:” they would have come to understand that every one of us lives by the divine mercy alone; that we are all “worthless servants” (Luke 17.10); and that we are, finally, saved by the merits of Jesus Christ alone. Yet these new Catholics would also have learned that failure is an old story in the Church, and that the Father of mercies is eager to welcome back those who stray, if only they acknowledge that they have fallen off the path marked out by God’s Son and commit themselves to a different future.

I thought of these new Catholics, and their motivations for entering the Church, when reading Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” and particularly this sentence in paragraph 307: ““To show understanding in the face of exceptional situations never implies dimming the light of the fuller ideal, or proposing less than what Jesus offers to human beings. Today, more important than the pastoral care of failures is the pastoral effort to strengthen marriages and thus to prevent their breakdown.”

The Holy Father set in motion these past two years of contention and, one hopes, constructive dialogue in the Church because he knows that marriage and the family are in deep trouble throughout the world, just as he knows that marriage, rightly understood, and the family, rightly understood, are the basic building blocks of a humane society: the family is the first school of freedom, because it is there that we first learn that freedom is not mere willfulness; marriage, for its part, is the lifelong school in which we learn the full, challenging meaning of the law of self-giving built into the human heart.

Why are marriage and the family in trouble? Amoris Laetitia reviews a lot of the reasons, some of which go back to Adam and Eve, and some of which are contemporary expressions of that original sin of pride. The Holy Father also speaks with understanding and compassion of the difficulty that many young people have today in forming lifelong commitments. And he calls the Church to take the ministry of marriage preparation with ever greater seriousness, seeing it as an essential instrument of evangelization, especially for those who have trouble understanding that commitment is liberating.

In reading his apostolic exhortation, I came back to a conversation I had with Pope Francis some months after his election. I said that I wanted to present his vision of the Church accurately. So was I right in saying that he stressed God’s mercy so that, through an experience of that mercy, people would come to know God’s truth? He assured me I was. It is within that dyad of mercy and truth, which can never be separated, that I suggest the Church read and absorb Amoris Laetitia.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

MY COMMENT
If you think hard enough and prayerfully enough, you might see the connection between the article above and the following one.   Is not Pope Francis seeing the harmony of God behind the diversity of bishops' and church's insights, drawn out through the ministry of the Bishop of Rome?
Both churches have people with narrow minded, sectarian mentalities, often people who, apart from this, are wonderful examples of the deep spirituality of their churches. Nevertheless, Orthodoxy and Catholicism, at their best, enthusiastically accept  diversity as intrinsic to the human condition, but recognise that, in an ecclesial context, the Holy Spirit expresses in this diversity the one Mystery of Christ.  In the words of St Irenaeus, speaking within an ecclesial context, he writes to Pope Victor, "Our diversity is practice confirms our unity in faith."  Father John Behr's video at the end of this post, brings this out very clearly.
To discover the One Truth in many forms, it is necessary to love one another with an ecclesial love, a love that listens in humble obedience and that enables us to go beyond our own formulations and customs and to see the formulations and customs of the other church in their relation to the one Christian Mystery.
Diversity is human and good when it is open to Christ, and being open to Christ involves being open to one another, even if we cannot completely agree with them.  It is the function of the spiritual director in marriage and, at least for Catholics, the function of the pope among the local churches to help people to adopt a Catholic perspective that, being grounded on the  truth, reaches out and includes rather than builds walls and excludes.
That is what Pope Francis is trying to do with the synods and his apostolic exhortation.  The alternative is to suppress diversity by censorship and to present to the world a unity of understanding that doesn't really reflect what is going on in the Church.  But it is necessary to trust the Holy Spirit!! - Fr David




The Harmony of God is Hidden Within a Diversity of Personalities
by
ST. PAISIOS OF MOUNT ATHOS | 20 APRIL 2016



One day a man came to my kalyve and told me that he was very worried because he was not of the same mind with his wife. I saw, however, that there was nothing serious between them. He just had a few rough edges, his wife had a few others, and they couldn’t deal with one another. They needed a little sanding. Take two planks of wood before sanding them. One has a knot here, the other has a knot there; if you try to join the planks there is an empty space left between them. If, however, you sand one a little here and the other a little there, using the same tool, they join perfectly. [1]

Some men tell me: “I don’t see eye to eye with my wife; we have opposite personalities. She has one temperament, I have another! How can God do such strange things? Couldn’t He have arranged a few things so that couples matched, and they were able to live more spiritually?” I tell them, “Don’t you understand that the harmony of God is hidden within a diversity of personalities? Different temperaments actually create harmony. Alas, if you had the same personalities! Think what would have happened if, for example, you both got angry easily: you would destroy your house. Or, consider if both of you had mild temperaments: you would sleep standing up! If you were both stingy you would get along, yes, but you would both end up in hell. Likewise, if both of you were open-handed, would you even be able to keep your house? No. You would disperse everything, and your children would be turned out to the streets. If a spoiled brat marries a spoiled brat, between themselves they get along fine, right? But, one day someone is going kill them! For this reason God arranges it so that a good person marries a spoiled brat, that the latter may be helped. It may be that he or she has a good disposition, but was never instructed correctly when young.”

Little differences in the characters or personalities of spouses actually help couples to create a harmonious family, for the one completes the other. In a car it is necessary to use the gas pedal to go forward, but also the brake pedal to stop. If the car only had brakes it wouldn’t go anywhere; and if it only had gears, it wouldn’t be able to stop. Do you know what I said to one couple? “Because you are similar, you don’t match!” They are both sensitive. If something happens at home, both of them lose it and start-up: The one, “Oh, what we suffer!” The other, “Oh, what we suffer!” In other words, the one causes the other to lose hope even more! Neither is able to comfort the other a little by saying, “Hold on, our situation is not that serious”. I’ve seen this in many couples.

When spouses have different personalities it helps in the raising of children even more. One spouse wants to put on the brakes a little, but the other says, “Give the children a little freedom”. If they both are overbearing they will lose their children. If, however, they leave them on their own, again their children will be lost. Therefore, when the parents have different personalities, the children enjoy a certain stability.

What I’m trying to say is that everything is needful. Naturally, one’s personality quirks shouldn’t go beyond their limits. Each spouse should help the other in his own way. If you eat a lot of sweets, you’ll want also to eat something a little salty. Or if you eat, let’s say, lots of grapes, you’ll want a little cheese to cut the sweetness. Vegetables, if they are very bitter, are not eaten. But a little bitterness helps, as does a little sourness. Some people, however, are like this: If someone is sour, he says: “Let everyone become sour like me.” And whoever is bitter says, “Let everyone become bitter.” Likewise, those who are salty say, “Everyone should become salty.” Bridges aren’t built like that! [2]

——————————

Elder Paisios means that this work is done by the spiritual father and it is effective, only as long as the two spouses have the same spiritual father, in order that the sanding happens “using the same tool”.

Obviously, the Elder is using a metaphor: “Bridges (i.e. relationships) aren’t build like that!”

AN EXCELLENT VIDEO!!


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