Jul 24 – Memorial for St. Charbel Makhluf, Priest
St. Charbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, St. Charbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice and prayer by the way he lived his life.
1 Jer 3:14-17
“Come back, disloyal children...I will give you shepherds after my own heart, and these shall feed you on knowledge and discretion.”
In 1 Kings 18:20, Prophet Elijah asked this of the people of Israel:
“How long will you straddle the issue? If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.”
This reflection is my call to all Catholics to truly treasure the gift the holy Catholic faith and to stand up and defend that which is sacred to Catholicism from profanity. To be conscious that you have received a most precious jewel from God – and not to throw this pearl as something worthless before a swine. I juxtapose the true worship of the true God in Catholicism versus the dangers of the worldliness, superficiality and error of non-Catholic Christian faith practice. As Catholics, we must be made conscious of dangerous forces that threaten our Church, insidiously attacking our minds and hearts, dividing our communities, leading us and our children away from the true sacramental presence of God. Catholics, stand up and defend your faith from wayward and erroneous false prophets who hide their worldliness and hypocrisy behind religion. This reflection is not meant to offend. But it is certainly meant to provoke.
Our Catholic Christian faith is a call for us to choose between transcendental faith, that through an act of submission to the Holy Spirit, allows us the divine vision to see and believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament versus superficial ‘worship’, devoid of sacramental life. It is about recognizing the errors of a path which refuses to acknowledge the true, living presence of Christ in the Eucharist but instead, to degrade this to merely an act of memorial. Where ‘worship’ that is no more than a performance, not on a sacred sanctuary, but on a theatrical stage – full of drama and performance art. Done not to worship and adore God but to entertain and please the banal instincts of man. At the true sanctuary, God is glorified and worshipped and it is where a divine sacrifice is ordained, which redeems the sins of humanity. A stage is quite different. It is no more than a space for an actor to strut his/her stuff, to appease what the popular taste of a worldly audience looks for. And where all glory and adulation are directed towards the one strutting his/her stuff. Macbeth best sums this up:
“Life (non-Catholic worship) is but a walking shadow,
a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
It is a choice between a faith that espouses detachment from worldly gain and that which proclaims the so-called prosperity gospel, which turns man’s focus to God as little more than the provider of creature comforts and one’s earthly self-preservation. Between the attraction of worldly values of vanity, greed, pride, and individualism. Where pastors with Armani suits, private jet planes and limousines, and having multiple million-dollar personal trust funds contrast sharply with the total giving of one’s life to God, with vows of poverty and the total embracing of the pastoral love for the poor and marginalized. Hence, this marks the stark contrast between the spiritual prosperity the Bible espouses versus the worldly prosperity that the prosperity gospel so vehemently defends.
And how quickly and easily non-Catholic ‘Christianity’ dispenses with Mother Mary and the Saints. That Catholics worship them. But perhaps more telling is how, even in these, they have failed to treasure God’s abundant gifts of great models of Christian faith, fidelity, fortitude and intercession. Such ‘believers’ would rather seek sinful, earthly beings to intercede for them than true living saints, who have proven their fidelity to God in their earthly life. Saints who are now very much alive in the eternal presence of God. And should they say that these are but long dead and gone – then I think they have completely missed the point of the Resurrection, and hence, of Christianity, haven’t they?
Choose also between a one united, unified, universal, Catholic and apostolic faith versus a very divided ‘Christianity’. In a world increasingly being led further astray by secularism, individualism, materialism, it is sad, that erroneous religion and false prophets have led so many Catholics and would-be Christians astray. Then there is also the way the Word of God is interpreted in 47.000 ways — the distortion and perversion of absolute truth and to doctrinal and moral relativism. By self-anointed prophets, incapable of humble submission and obedience to the divine office, appointed by Jesus Christ himself through St Peter. Consider too, how in Catholicism, the crucifix is a constant awe-inspiring sacramental sign of divine love and the redemption of sins. Compare this to just the symbol of an empty cross in which the most crucial element is missing – the person of Jesus Christ. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater…sigh!
To such false prophets out there, take heed of God’s warning to you through Prophet Hosea:
They made kings in Israel, but not by my authority;
they established princes, but without my approval.
With their silver and gold, they made idols for themselves,
to their own destruction.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)
Prayer: Father, help us. Save us from the evils that afflict humanity. From egoism, devastating folly, merciless interests and violence. From deception, misinformation and the manipulation of consciences.
Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for giving us your spirit in the battle against evil and sin, trial and confusion. And in the decision to remain faithful to your friendship and in your Holy Church.