Thursday, August 17, 2006

Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat! Christus IMPERAT?!

Written on the obelisk in the piazza of St. Peter's Basilica is written the phrase "Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat!" Of course, this is translated "Christ Conquers, Christ Reigns, Christ Commands." This comes to us I believe from Pope Sixtus V.

Whoops. Commands? Let's give that the liberal treatment shall we?

Jesus convinces, Jesus watches, Jesus suggests.

Ah...now that flows better doesn't it?

Why do some people have such a problem with God actually making demands on us? Today many churches only want to focus on having a feel good health and wealth religion that promises only your wildest dreams if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Poppycock. I expect difficulty, persecution, and loss and accept them as the Grace of God. I hope for happiness, well being, and health and also accept them as the Grace of God.

But both the Old and New Testament are very clear that in order to achieve heaven, we have to do stuff here on Earth. My Baltimore Catechism states this very plainly:

4. What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?
To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.

But this is lost on so many today. The idea of service to our Lord is foreign to what I call "me-first theology". The Church of Me-First takes Christ and puts him aside somewhere. There's probably a picture of him in the corner, or a risen Christ on the wall. Certainly there is not a traditional crucifix or anything about some kind of nasty suffering. It tries to make sure everyone is happy first and serving last. The music is probably fun, the sermons very vanilla, and everyone is quite pleasant. Nobody mentions a word about sin and nobody is ever offended. If ignorance is bliss, then this is heaven on earth.

This is sort of like watching your house burn down and admiring the flames for their beauty. Its ridiculous and Christ would have never accepted it. We achieve salvation when we do what he wants us to. Merely believing is not enough. Like the scripture says, even the demons believe Christ is the son of God. Having a picture of him up but never actually teaching what he commands is almost an insult.

"But we won't get anywhere if all we do is make people feel guilty."

Bollocks I say. Christ didn't come to make people feel all mushy inside, to have them raise their hands, get sweaty, and dance in the aisles. I'm not denying the gifts of the spirit, but unless this sort of thing happens within the context of orthodoxy it makes me wonder of its authenticity. There are benefits to "feel good" churches. I don't mean to demean the people or the work they do. They believe they are doing right. But it is not enough. The benefit is outweighed a thousand to one compared to the damage they may be doing to a person's actual soul. Though a man may be cheerful, his soul may be in peril.

Christ's Chuch has survived under the guidance of the Holy Spirit for 2000 years now by sticking hard and fast to both the friendly and strict lessons of our Lord. It must continue to do so because orthodoxy is the only way forward. New and old movements alike must stay with the Church lock step or they will be lost - lest we "renew" ourselves out of existence. We can see this throughout history. When any society, organization, religion, or political party is swallowed by relativism and loses its core beliefs, it dies a slow but certain death.

God is love. And sometimes love is hard to swallow. Love both comforts and corrects. Does a parent allow their child to have as many cookies as they want simply because he wants them, no matter the health problems? Does an adult allow their 90 year old crippled mother to drive a car regardless of her mental state? No, because Love will not allow it. It is in this context that God commands us. When we follow his commands, we accept his love.

St. Iraneaus of Lyon -189A.D.
"[Paul], an able wrestler, urges us on in the struggle for immortality, so that we may receive a crown and so that we may regard as a precious crown that which we acquire by our own struggle and which does not grow upon us spontaneously. . . . Those things which come to us spontaneously are not loved as much as those which are obtained by anxious care" (Against Heresies 4:37:7 [A.D. 189]).

Links:
Catholic Answers - Reward and Merit
Deus Caritas Est

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"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton