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Unity Is Truth And Truth Unity

March 23, 2023 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


Throughout the year on Friday each week the Church commemorates the Passion of the Lord by means of abstention from the eating of flesh meat. The giving of His Flesh and Blood on the cross unto death for the salvation of the world is remembered thus by personal penance and self-denial. Not easy in a summer full of Friday barbecues. But all the more significant for that reason. Prayer, too, is recommended by means of meditation on the Stations of the Cross.
During the holiest penitential season of the entire liturgical year, in Lent, the Church imposes Friday abstinence as a grave obligation. Hence if we knowingly break the law, we must confess it. Many parishes host a public praying of the Stations in a communal manner also on the Fridays of Lent. These customs are meant to help us all year. Extending them beyond Lent reinforces Catholic identity and strengthens our faith.
At the spiritual heart of Lent is the meditation on the Passion of the Lord. Art of various means can aid us in better immersing ourselves again in the Lord’s suffering and death. The constant presence of the crucifix in our homes and churches is our primary communal expression of the reality of the Cross. More thoroughly appropriating a sense of the personal love of the Lord for each of us expressed thereby is a life’s work. There is no better opportunity for growing in this aspect of our Faith than Lent, when so many graces are available as we journey toward Easter, which would never have happened without Good Friday.
I recently rewatched the Zeffirelli film Jesus of Nazareth. I remember being impressed as a seminarian with, for the most part, its faithfulness to Scripture. Back then one had to check the TV guide to catch it. Now it’s available on YouTube. No longer needed is a conventional television for this or any other film. I watched it on an Amazon fire tablet.
I take note now of the various accents, gathering together as the film does a variety of A-list actors from places like England, the U.S., and Italy. It has inaccuracies, such as the depiction of a bar mitzvah for our Lord as a youth. Such did not begin to occur until centuries later. Zeffirelli believed the lack of such would make it hard for Jews to relate to the film. We see here an example of the ways in which art is sacrificed for the sake of mass appeal. That aside, the film is quite well done. It achieved a massive audience when first broadcast as a miniseries in the 1970s.
Seeing the world through another’s eyes is always difficult. Understanding the life and death of the God-man is more than Herculean by comparison. In our love for Him, and the holy faith by which He saves our souls, we seek to grow nonetheless in His friendship. Accompanying the Savior by spiritually walking once again in His footsteps is the primary means of aiding us in our love of Him and accepting the graces He offers thereby. “The Father and I are one,” He tells us. When we see the Lord we see the Father, the God who began to reveal Himself by means of revelation to the Jewish people, and in the fullness of time, in Christ.
Revisiting the Passion of the Lord in Lent and at the same time renewing a sense of rootedness in Jewish belief can reground us in truth when we’ve gone astray in an age of confusion and chaos. The battle for faith calls for the “weapon” of reason. Emotions today play an overshadowing role in human affairs. The life of the Church is no exception as influences from outside the house of faith take on larger roles in peoples’ lives. Often recourse to the faith is had in a secondary sense, when it should be first in the order of affairs: “Seek first the Kingdom.”
The “Shema” prayer, foundational for Jewish belief, is uttered repeatedly in the film. “Hear (Shema) Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” In the midst of idolaters as they were, the Jews repeated often this core reality of the one true God who revealed Himself through Moses and the Law. It is prayed in moments of crisis, doubt, and uncertainty as well as belief and thanksgiving.
We revisit it in our meditation upon the Passion of the Savior, when we see Him on the cross praying to, and in union with, the Father as He offers Himself to redeem humanity. The inner life of the Holy Trinity, one God, is revealed in every aspect of the life of Christ.
Belief in the oneness of the Trinity and the perfect revelation of God in Christ helps us to bring the truths of our faith to bear in the current crises afflicting the Church. While those who keep the faith of our Fathers most perfectly are slandered as injuring unity and expelled from our churches, others who claim sodomy is equal to matrimony and must be treated as such by blessing ceremonies go forward undeterred.
Very difficult times indeed in which to be a Catholic when persecution, idolatry, and heresy are perpetrated and promoted by men who hold office as bishop and priest.
Unity without tradition or unity without truth is not faithful. Who and what are we uniting ourselves to? If to each other we are lost. No, the Catholic faith is a uniting through, with, and in Christ, the perfect revelation of the Father. There is much talk of unity amid the current chaos. It is in fact the rallying cry of those who war against our tradition. Any unity not rooted in the Lord and the handing on of Revelation by means of the apostles is rootless and sets man adrift.
A recent article at 1 Peter 5, which treats of the current crisis, proposes that those remaining Catholic bishops who believe as Catholics should issue a “charitable anathema” to bring the straying back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith in the Church. Paul uses the phrase, “Let him be anathema” in Galatians and 1 Corinthians to indicate cases in which an unrepentant sinner must for medicinal purposes be placed outside the community. In effect, excommunicated.
“The valuing of unity over truth plays a central role in the crisis of the Church; for the Church of Christ — the Holy, Roman, Catholic, Apostolic Church — is based on this fundamental principle: the absolute primacy of divine truth, which is the very primacy of God” (Dietrich von Hildebrand).
Unity and truth are in fact the same reality, two facets of the one true God. Overcoming the current crisis means reclaiming for Christ souls who think synods can change truth without destroying unity.
“One, holy, Catholic, and apostolic”: Take away any of these and fall away from union with Christ and the Church. Unity and truth are both in God. Unity and truth are one.
“Hear Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

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