Thursday, June 4, 2015


When I was in my early 20's, and despite having no education in Christianity whatsoever, I used to say the stupidest things, in a very authoritative tone.

"Christ was just a good man who said beautiful things."

"The Catholic Church is just a bunch of misogynistic men parading around in dresses and tall hats."

"What about the Spanish Inquisition?!!!"

I was repeating sentiments I had heard elsewhere by folks that were hostile to Christianity.  They reflected an anti-Christian worldview that sought to justify a promiscuous, hedonistic and materialistic lifestyle that was gaining momentum in the 1970's.

Later, when I actually began to learn the Truth about Catholicism, and Christianity in general, I was mortified by the previous breezy and condescending myths I had helped to spread about the Faith arising from my abundance of ignorance.

Oddly enough, it was in the Hindu convent where I first read the works and lives of the mystics and doctors of the Catholic faith that I began to get a clue about the beautiful Truth at the heart of it.  That was the beginning of a gradual dawning of understanding that took many years to shine into the recesses of my heart and fully illuminate it.  Finally, I was accepted into the church and the real work began.

Fortunately, I had several decades of experience in genealogy research that contributed to my understanding that, in order to know the Truth about a thing, one has to rely upon authoritative source data.  I learned to identify the relative credibility of source materials and to seek out the most authoritative.

Authority.  It is an unpopular word, culturally speaking.  American culture, with its hyper-emphasis on the individual, encourages the individual person to "speak his mind," "stand up for what he believes in," and freely express his "opinion" as if it were a sacred fact.  These opinions spring from a person's attitudes toward life, rather than having been arrived at through an examination of facts, what to speak of authoritative sources!  I myself was guilty of this travesty until I matured as a person and learned that I am not the center of the universe and that Truth does not originate with me and my inclinations.

It is significant to me that Jesus created the Catholic Church.  He gave clear instructions about its mission.  He "staffed" it with the apostles and gave them their marching orders, after having spent several years instructing them in the faith.  He breathed upon them and bestowed his power and authority to forgive sins and to do a host of other things.  He announced that whoever listened to them listened to Jesus and listened to the Father who sent Him, thereby establishing their authority for all time.  He assigned a leader to whom he gave a name never used for a human being before this time: Peter, the rock.  Upon that rock, Jesus established his Church, which would stand forever.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to further enliven and empower all of them, not just the apostles but Mary his mother, and Mary Magdalene also.  None of the female disciples were named as apostles.  Many modern people complain about women getting short shrift in the Catholic Church because they can't be priests.  If Jesus had intended them to have that sort of job, He would have included at least ONE among the Apostles that he charged with going out into the world and baptizing all nations in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I doubt it was an oversight on his part or that he was such a wimp that He was afraid to buck the paternalistic culture of the time by installing a woman or two.  It doesn't make sense.  God is not a slave of time as we humans are, and this "modern" time in which we are enmeshed is seen by God at all times.  If women were intended to occupy the jobs that Christ assigned to the men, He would have instructed it.  He didn't.

The reason why the Catholic Church does not change its doctrines is that Truth does not change.  Ultimate Truth was the same then as it is now.  We are aware of a great deal of time having gone by, but God is outside of time.  The Catholic Church was given Christ's power and authority.  While it is true that some people within the church have failed it, and failed it spectacularly, it is not because the Truths were wrong or the Church was no longer the highest authority, but because the individual failed to live the Truth and fell away from the teachings of the faith.

I do not judge the Catholic faith by the people that fail to live up to its precepts.  I judge it by what Jesus said about it.  His authority is unimpeachable.  These days, I continue to study and learn as much as I can about the faith while doing the best I can to live up to its commandments.  It does not occur to me to replace any part of the faith with a "modern" perspective.  Truth never goes out of style.

Silver "Rose" Parnell
(c) 2015

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