Skip to comments.Triumphalism? You better believe it.
Posted on 08/24/2013 6:23:05 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
Triumphalism? You better believe it.
How often we hear Conciliarized Catholics speak of triumphalism as if it refers to some sort of dreadful disease that must, at all costs, be purged from the Body of Christ lest it spread and, God forbid, the Church in our day come to resemble the Holy Catholic Church as the Roman Pontiffs presented her to the world for so many centuries, without apology, prior to the papacy of Pope John XXIII.
Before we continue, I should probably explain what I mean by Conciliarized Catholics, a phrase being coined in the present moment right here in this very space.
Unlike the categories described in my recent post on the Ideological-Theological Spectrum of Self-Identified Catholics, the Conciliarized Catholic covers everything left of traditionalist. Biology majors may wish to think of it this way:
Species: Conservative, Progressive, Liberal, Whacko Liberal
All of the species under the genus Conciliarized have to large extent adopted an ecclesiology based upon the implicit assumption that the Church and her mission is only properly understood within the confines of Vatican Council II, as if the nearly 2,000 years of tradition and magisterium that preceded it have been made, unlike the old covenant (silly St. Paul!), obsolete. (See the Epistle to the Hebrews.)
With that clarification out of the way, lets turn our attention back to triumphalism. According to Websters Dictionary:
Triumphalism: an attitude or feeling of victory or superiority the attitude that one religious creed is superior to all others
So, to be clear, the triumphalism that Conciliarized Catholics reject out of hand refers to the audacious proposition that the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the one established by Christ the King, is superior to all other religions.
And why do they reject this?
I can find no better explanation than the one provided by my friend and brother in the Lord, Deacon Keith Fournier, Editor of Catholic Online, who recently penned a response to a letter-writing reader (who for the record is not me) in a post entitled, Comfortable in our Catholic Skin: Reject Triumphalism, Embrace the Call to Christian Unity:
If the fullness of truth subsists in the Catholic Church, that should not make us haughty, but humble! There is no room for triumphalism, rather the divisions among Christians should break our hearts and call us to our knees.
Just as the title to Deacon Fourniers post suggests, the conciliarized mind imagines an insurmountable dichotomy between what they consider the duty to work toward authentic Christian unity, and the suggestion that the Catholic Church is superior to all other religions, in particular, protestantism.
In other words, they sincerely believe that if we understand and represent the Catholic Church in such triumphalistic terms, we will simply fortify the barriers that separate Catholics from other Christian communities, and the authentic unity we seek will never be realized.
This begs a question: What does the Conciliarized Catholic consider authentic unity? Well let Deacon Fournier answer:
I begin by affirming that I fully embrace the Catholic teaching that the fullness of truth is found within the Catholic Church. Because of that I also carry an immense burden to see the Prayer of Jesus in John 17 answered. There is a vital connection between the two affirmations.
Into a world that is fractured, divided, wounded, filled with sides and camps at enmity with one another, the Catholic Church is called to proclaim, by both word and deed, the unifying love of a living God. Of all Christians, Catholics have the highest obligation to work toward authentic Christian unity. There is an adage in the Gospels which has an important application in this arena, To those to whom much is given, much more will be required (Luke 12:48).
To those whose ecumenical fervor is based, and voluntarily so, almost exclusively on the approach taken by Vatican Council II (which inexplicably includes every pope who has reigned ever since), Deacon Fourniers explanation likely makes perfect sense.
After all, Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II, speaks of a longing for unity, a movement toward unity and the desire for a restoration of unity. Furthermore, it speaks of progress toward unity, and tells us that the attainment of union is the concern of the whole Church.
In other words, by narrowly focusing on the text of Vatican II to the exclusion of all that predates it, one is naturally led to embrace the false notion that the Catholic Church has yet to attain the unity that Christ wills for His Church.
That the conciliarized mind can be so mired in confusion is understandable given the Councils suggestion that Catholics must concern themselves with attaining toward that full and perfect unity which God in His kindness wills.
The problem with the Councils manner of speaking in this decree is that it obscures the reality that the Catholic Church already possesses in herself, as a perfect society, the fullness of Christian unity, at least as the Church has always at least prior to the 1960s understood unity.
In the ambiguous style that is all-too-typical of Vatican II, the authors of Unitatis Redintegratio are content to simply flirt with this immutable truth by stating, We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time. (UR 4)
Setting aside for the present discussion the Councils diffident refusal to plainly state the objective truth that unity exists in the Catholic Church, the idea that we hope for this unity to in some way increase is utterly ludicrous; an apparent offshoot of the heretical Teilhardian notion that as the universe evolves toward the so-called Omega point, so too does Christ attain to His own fullness.
What we are examining here is an excellent example of one of the hallmarks of the modernist strategy; namely, employing words and phrases that sound very much like the language of the true faith, while surreptitiously recasting them to mean something entirely different.
The method of propagandism of which I speak was well-described by Pope St. Pius X in his all-but-forgotten yet masterful encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, as perverting the meaning and force of things and words.
It is a deception so entirely subtle that even well-read and sincere Christians are prone to falling prey. To be very clear, I am not accusing Deacon Fournier of employing the obfuscation tactics of the modernists in this matter; rather, I am suggesting that he, like so many others, has unwittingly become their victim.
Unity, as traditionally understood is not a quasi-numeric concept toward which the Church aspires like a rancher who is ten steer shy of a complete herd out on a roundup. The Council, however, employs the word in just such a way, as if to give the preposterous impression that the Church, from the day of Pentecost onward, was ever but one heretic away from losing its precious unity.
In truth, the unity that the Church has ever possessed in all perfection is such that it can never be lost, nor can it increase, and its relationship to ecumenism, properly practiced, was elucidated by Pope Pius XI in his 1928 Encyclical (also practically forgotten), Mortalium Animos, as follows:
Unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief, one Christian Faith There is but one way in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by fostering the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it.
In other words, unity is not something the Catholic Church seeks as some as yet unrealized goal; rather, it is something she already possesses by virtue of who she is, the one true Church of Christ to whom He has granted singular authority, one law and one faith.
As for the way in which this unity may be realized by those Christians who imagine, for whatever reason, that they are justified in setting themselves above the one teaching authority, one law and one faith that Christ provides through the Holy Catholic Church alone, the answer is simple:
If they desire it, they must return; i.e., they must convert to the Catholic faith, otherwise, they not the Church, but these individual heretics will never possess the unity that Christ wills that all should have.
That kind of straightforward talk, shocking as it may be to ecumenically hypersensitive ears, is ultimately charitable.
Think about it: If we fail to make known to the world that the Catholic Church is entirely and exclusively superior to all other religions, why would anyone dwelling outside of her ever feel compelled to enter?
That kind of talk, once spoken by the popes, is also undeniably triumphalistic in that it is based upon the unshakeable conviction that Christ the King, He to Whom all authority in heaven and on earth belongs, and Whose victory over evil, darkness and confusion is unquestioned, established but one Church, the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
As Catholics, we need be neither timid nor ashamed to proclaim it.
No, triumphalism isnt some dreadful disease to be purged, and there is plenty of room for it in the Catholic Church, in fact, it is inextricably part of her mission, because simply put, its the truth.
Triumphalism is not the way toward Christian unity. It is not being comfortable in our Catholic skin. We need to reject it. One of the most difficult obstacles in making progress toward the visible unity of the Church is the reticence of some Catholics to accept the leadership of the Magisterium, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the clear teaching of the Catholic Church on its priority.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In response to a recent review I wrote of the television program, Duck Dynasty, entitled Duck Dynasty Breaks Cable Records: Robertson Family Moves Hearts with Authentic Christian Faith and my reference to the Robertson family as demonstrating "authentic faith" - a reader strongly objected. This was not the first time he has objected to my affirmation of the sincerity of the faith of some Christians of other communities.
However, he was more perturbed than in times past. Here are his words: "The cast must be Catholic if they have an "authentic Christian Faith." Remember, Deacon Keith, for the umpteenth time, there is una fides - one Faith. Objectively speaking, Protestants don't have Faith, they have opinions based on private judgment not ultimately on the authority of God."
Well, I will not use the reader's name but this comment requires a response concerning how Catholics should view and treat fellow Christians of other Christian communities.
I begin by affirming that I fully embrace the Catholic teaching that the fullness of truth is found within the Catholic Church. Because of that I also carry an immense burden to see the Prayer of Jesus in John 17 answered. There is a vital connection between the two affirmations. Into a world that is fractured, divided, wounded, filled with sides and camps at enmity with one another, the Catholic Church is called to proclaim, by both word and deed, the unifying love of a living God.
Of all Christians, Catholics have the highest obligation to work toward authentic Christian unity. There is an adage in the Gospels which has an important application in this arena, "To those to whom much is given, much more will be required" (Luke 12:48). If the fullness of truth subsists in the Catholic Church, that should not make us haughty, but humble! There is no room for triumphalism, rather the divisions among Christians should break our hearts and call us to our knees.
In a teaching on the Church as the Body of Christ given during a Wednesday audience of June 19, 2013, Pope Francis made an inspiring, personal and extemporaneous comment. It revealed what his life work has revealed for years. Throughout his service as Priest, Bishop and Cardinal, and now Pope, this humble man of God named Jorge Mario Bergoglio clearly hears the passionate Prayer of Jesus Christ:
"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17:21)
Here are his heartfelt words: "Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity. Let me tell you something, today, before leaving home, I spent 40 minutes more or less, half an hour, with an evangelical pastor. And we prayed together, seeking unity."
"But we Catholics must pray with each other and other Christians. Pray that the Lord gift us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among us Catholics, in the family, how many families fight and split up? Seek unity, unity builds the Church and comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build unity!"
Sounds very different than my readers comment doesn't it?
The commitment to unity of Pope Francis steps right into the trajectory of his two predecessors, Blessed John Paul II and His Holiness Benedict XVI. The sincerity of his quest for healing the divisions between Christians is expressed in both word and his deed. The comfortable way in which he shared from his heart that he had prayed with an evangelical Protestant pastor before giving his Wednesday Catechesis made my heart leap. He is what I am calling "comfortable in his Catholic skin".
I have spent years praying and working with evangelical protestants and orthodox Christians, co laboring in the trenches of the culture on the great challenges of our neo-pagan age. I am so very happy to have the Pope make it so clear that this is part of our task, our call and our mission. For those who followed the selection of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope, this came as no surprise. One of his evangelical friends from Argentina, protestant evangelist Luis Palau, was straightforward and enthusiastic about his friendship and prayer with Francis.
His interview with Christianity Today, given the day after the Pope was selected, is well worth the read for anyone wondering where this Pope is headed as he steps into the trajectory of his predecessors and responds to the imperative of healing the divisions among Christians.
An emerging scholar and leader among evangelical Protestants in the United States, Timothy George, the dean of Beeson Divinity School, also wrote a piece for the same publication which is a must read. It is entitled, Our Francis, Too: Why we can enthusiastically join arms with the Catholic leader. George wrote:
"Francis succeeds two men of genius in his papal role. John Paul II was the liberator who stared down communism by the force of his courage and prayers. Benedict XVI was the eminent teacher of the Catholic Church in recent history. Francis appears now as the pastor, a shepherd who knows and loves his sheep and wants to lead them in love and humility. The new Franciscan moment is the season of the shepherd. Catholics and evangelicals are the two largest faith communities in the body of Christ. Without forgetting the deep differences that divide us, now as never before we are called to stand and work together for the cause of Christ in a broken world."
On March 20, 2013, Francis spoke these words to delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West: "Let us all be intimately united to our Savior's prayer at the Last Supper, to his invocation: ut unum sint. We call on the merciful Father to be able to fully live the faith that we have received as a gift on the day of our Baptism, and to be able to it free, joyful and courageous testimony. The more we are faithful to his will, in thoughts, in words and in deeds, the more we will truly and substantially walk towards unity."
The Gospel proclaims that in and through Jesus Christ, authentic unity with God - and through Him, in the Spirit, with one another- is the plan of God for the entire human race. The Church is the way to that unity. For the Church to continue the redemptive mission of Jesus effectively, she must be one. It was not the Lord's plan that she be divided. It is His Plan that she be restored to full communion.
I am one of many who called Benedict XVI the Pope of Christian Unity. He placed the full communion of the Church at the forefront of his Papacy. This was clear in his overtures toward our Orthodox brethren, whom we recognize as a Church and whose priesthood and Sacraments we recognize. It was evident in his outreach to the separated Christians of the Reformation communities of the West.
On the 4th anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II, Benedict reminded us of John Paul's passionate commitment to the full communion of the Church. That teaching is summarized in the Encyclical Letter May they be One (Ut Unum Sint).To be Catholic is to enter into the prayer of Jesus for the Unity of His Church, and to make it our own, in word and deed.
In Benedict XVI's first message as the successor of Peter he signaled his commitment to this unity: "Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration."
"Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Lk 22: 32). With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty."
Catholic teaching on the nature of the Church is rooted in an ecclesiology of communion. All who are validly Baptized already have a form of imperfect communion. We are invited to make the prayer of Jesus for full communion and visible unity our own in the way we relate to other Christians. We need to show the love so evident in the words and witness of Benedict, John Paul and Francis.
We should learn - and use - the language of communion which the Catholic Church now encourages. Blessed John Paul II wrote in his encyclical letter on unity:
"It happens for example that, in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, Christians of one confession no longer consider other Christians as enemies or strangers but see them as brothers and sisters. Again, the very expression "separated brethren" tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion linked to the baptismal character which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions."
"Today we speak of "other Christians", "others who have received Baptism", and "Christians of other Communities". The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism refers to the Communities to which these Christians belong as "Churches and Ecclesial Communities that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church. The broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes" There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ."
John Paul also wrote concerning the urgency of building good relationships with other Christians: "Relations between Christians are not aimed merely at mutual knowledge, common prayer and dialog. They presuppose and from now on call for every possible form of practical cooperation at all levels: pastoral, cultural and social, as well as that of witnessing to the Gospel message. Cooperation among all Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant".
"This cooperation based on our common faith is not only filled with fraternal communion, but is a manifestation of Christ himself. Moreover, ecumenical cooperation is a true school of ecumenism, a dynamic road to unity. Unity of action leads to the full unity of faith: "Through such cooperation, all believers in Christ are able to learn easily how they can understand each other better and esteem each other more, and how the road to the unity of Christians may be made smooth. In the eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes a form of common Christian witness and a means of evangelization which benefits all involved."
Triumphalism is not the way toward Christian unity. It is not being comforatble in our Catholic skin. We need to reject it. One of the most difficult obstacles in making progress toward the visible unity of the Church is the reticence of some Catholics to accept the leadership of the Magisterium, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the clear teaching of the Catholic Church on its priority. Let us take our lead from the Catechism of the Catholic Church as we consider the disunity among Christians, and how we should properly respond.
These paragraphs are found in the section of the Catholic Catechism entitled "Wounds to Unity":
817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism - do not occur without human sin: Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.
818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."
820 "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time." Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may know that you have sent me." The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit."
The Catholic Church in the USA, and the rest of the world is useless to me as long as they turn a blind eye to its members who promote abortion on demand.
I love that sticker, but the N, V and R are a stretch (to say the least.)
A supremely good idea.
So, it doesn’t matter that its creed is true. It doesn’t matter that Jesus established it and sent it to ends of the earth. It doesn’t matter that Jesus gave it the sacraments and that the sacraments are real. All that matters to you is that there are some sinners in the Church who aren’t getting punished. That’s not a very intelligent way to evaluate the Church.
There are many (whose faith may or may not be weak) who look for “proof” of the existence of God in the behavior of those who call themselves Catholic. It is a common mistake. We are to look to God, not men. On the other hand this is why the Church, in her wisdom, has always been on guard to protect the faithful from scandal, and has laws to prevent same.
When the Church refuses to apply those laws, it is even more damaging to the faith of her members than the scandal itself.
So the blame lies squarely on the shoulders on the Church, primarily her bishops and popes, and not so much the laity whose loss of faith due to these circumstances is well illustrated by this poster.
When our bishops and popes start obeying canon law once again, esp. Canon 915, I think many scandalized Catholics will come home.
The following passage from MORTALIUM ANIMOS is key:
‘7. And here it seems opportune to expound and to refute a certain false opinion, on which this whole question, as well as that complex movement by which non-Catholics seek to bring about the union of the Christian churches depends. For authors who favor this view are accustomed, times almost without number, to bring forward these words of Christ: “That they all may be one.... And there shall be one fold and one shepherd,” with this signification however: that Christ Jesus merely expressed a desire and prayer, which still lacks its fulfillment. For they are of the opinion that the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ, has hardly up to the present time existed, and does not to-day exist.’
This “false opinion”, espoused by “non-Catholics”, is thus condemned by Pope Pius XI...but modern churchmen do all they can to promote it.