The Catholic Thing
Our Struggle Is Not Against Flesh and Blood Print E-mail
By Bevil Bramwell, OMI   
Sunday, 07 October 2012

You know this line from the Letter to the Ephesians: “our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

In this election season, there are many intelligent well-meaning people doing their all for their party, but the arguing and reasoning is getting drowned out by venom and untruths, a sure sign that there is more going on than meets the eye.

We might start out with the inability of the U.S. Church to respond authentically and maturely to the culture of the Enlightenment. Then there is the culture of modernism that dislikes anything from the past to such an extent that people can be regarded as cultured without even knowing what they reject.

Underlying the weakness of institutions to function is the sinfulness of individual human beings, of course, and the effects of their sin, which fog minds and retard authentic actions. The struggle of people who desire and work for the good, not an imagined good but the good that can be argued for from divine revelation, has to be seriously grounded in prayer and fasting. As the Holy Father said to the Catholics in Ireland – in what is, after all, a parallel situation with the Church in the United States:

I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal . . . I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for . . . sins . . .  that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

Two or Three Gathered in My Name by James Tissot, c. 1890

I say that our situation is parallel in some ways to the Irish Church because many U.S. Catholics have willingly hived off into what I might call the U.S. Cultural Catholic Church. Even if they still call themselves Catholics – and to some extent still are – they have weakened the Body, just as abusing Catholics, lay and ordained, in Ireland brought the Irish Church low.

Let’s not fool ourselves that abuse is only done by clergy. Many people in Ireland as here have allowed abuses to happen or actively supported them. If we expand the notion of abuse, then likewise the Cultural Church in America simply follows the most decadent aspects of American culture (which are denials of Catholic truth), while retaining the sacraments and holding the bishops mute and ineffectual.

The U.S. Cultural Catholic Church has condoned or actively participated in a myriad of intrinsically evil actions while less than half of American Catholics work hard at leading good lives and avoiding sin. The U.S. Catholic Cultural Church exists as a kind of metastasis of the Catholic Church in America and has paralyzed the Catholic Church and hindered its ability to speak to the nations.

The U.S. Catholic Church is being shown, day in and day out, just how much it depends on the grace of God for its mere existence, paralyzed as it is by the sins of so many of its members, both lay and ordained. The only response to sin is prayer, fasting, and the sacraments so that perhaps God will restore his Church.

All of this reasoning is founded on the special kind of unity that Christ constituted in the Church. Vatican II explains: “if one member endures anything, all the members co-endure it, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice.” But then too: “the Church, embracing in its bosom sinners, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal.”

So by baptism we are very much obliged to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters, and to be carried by them in our turn. And for the good of society we must repent for them and for ourselves.

So as the psalmist sang about the First People of God: “O LORD, our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, though you punished their offenses. Exalt the LORD, our God; bow down before his holy mountain; holy is the LORD, our God.” Then perhaps we can win this struggle that is not simply against flesh and blood!

Bevil Bramwell, priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, teaches theology at Catholic Distance University. He holds a Ph.D. from Boston College and works in the area of ecclesiology.
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Comments (13)Add Comment
written by Jack,CT, October 07, 2012
Dear Father,
Not only were you all "over the
place",why the IRISH?
written by Dave, October 07, 2012
Dear Father, actually I think you were spot-on: the only antidote to the US Cultural Catholic Church is the order and renewal that will arise when members of the US Catholic Church, both ordained and lay, fast and pray, and when Holy Communion is received in a state of grace that is assured through frequent reception of Holy Penance (Confession) and the Eucharist is adored. As Our Lord put it, "no one can serve two masters," and these practices of prayer, fasting, reception of sacraments and adoration help reveal to their practitioners the extent to which we really try, even unwittingly, to serve the two; and they help us amend our lives. The relative silence of the bishops regarding the Party whose platform enshrines intrinsic evil points to how far complicity with evil has extended. Is there yet time? I am reminded of Gideon, and of the power of Our Lady's intercession.
written by Paul, October 07, 2012
I think hat we would also do well to reflect on the prayer before Communion.
Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
This is truly a prayer for our souls, our inmost being, to be healed and renewed. That our souls, by Christ's Grace, may be bent back into right order with God.
written by Manfred, October 07, 2012
Father, the activities in the two paragraph quote from the Pope to the Irish Catholics is exactly what the Traditional Church, SSPX, FSSP and the Institute, as well as others, PERFORM EVERY DAY. The entire assumption is that EVERYONE kneeling in the small chapel is intent on becoming a SAINT!That is why the SSPX is so reviled. Its first demand of the CDF is that its theologians be allowed to meet with theologians from the Vatican to correct the errors in the documents of Vat II which other scholars agree exist as well. The "big Church" is wallowing in horrible sins and errors and yet it refuses, because it will not admit it made horrible theological and ecclesiastical errors, to agree to correct its course. All the "great" theologians of Vat II, Congar, Kung, Schillebeekcx, Rahner, Courtney Murray et al., have been exposed as Modernist dreamers who envisioned a New Church which has not "worked" for the fifty years it has existed.
written by Frank, October 07, 2012
I don't know who said, "There is nothing new under the son," but like Ancient Rome to the US Political Cultural scene, I would argue two timeless elements are at work here; money and power hiding behind the lofty platitudes and bromides of "well reasoned" human ideas.
If this election sees no change in the White House occupant, it will be due chiefly because not enough Catholics voted to counterbalance the number of Cultural Catholics who did and have refused to come to their senses about the fact their Church is under attack from those who currently occupy the highest positions of power in the US Government.
I came to this Church after many years of reading and studying this wonderful Church. Having been a to time loser at being a Protestant, I was not going to make a third mistake and therefore studied long and hard before making the commitment to "Cross The Tiber" last year. And knowing what I now know and have come to believe and fully embrace, I posit the following question; Do you cradle Catholics out there REALLY know the miraculous gift all of you have had in this wonderful Church from the day you were born?
Because if you did understand, you would not let this Church become the whipping boy it has become by the forces of secular humanism in the world and particularly the US. We can pray and we can fast but at the end of the day and that day is November 6, 2012, we all have to come out of our houses and vote. Our Lord through the Holy Spirit can move hearts but in the end, a changed heart must act. I will vote against this current President for many reasons. I want him to go away, enjoy his retirement and never have the power to do what he has done to my Church. And if he is defeated and removed from the power he craves, I want him to remember and regret for the rest of his days that he ever challenged the Church in the first place.
written by Achilles, October 07, 2012
Mandfred, you must first correct the errors in your tiny post before you attempt to take the mammonth intellectual leap to dare to correct Mother Church. Mother Church does not revile SSPX and Her problem with SSPX has nothing to do with its devotion. Name one single error specifically from Vatican II. I bet you can't. You would have to do what the disordered theologians did and give a false interpretation and it would fool none but yourself.
Your words appear to me to be hot air.
written by Lee Gilbert, October 07, 2012
Fr. Bevil,

Recently as part of grad school studies in Biblical Theology I did a study of the Book of Judges. The parallels between then and now are amazing and instructive. On the one hand there were the People of God and on the other the pagan culture.

In the conquest of Canaan the Jews under Joshua approached battle liturgically. It was preceded by sacrifice. It was led by priests. It was worship. One thing that became overwhelmingly clear was that if the Israelites kept faith, were obedient, the LORD would fight for them. If not, not.

In our present circumstance, it is FAR, FAR, FAR more important that we as a Catholic people get to Confession, frequent the Eucharist, keep ourselves unspotted from the world than anything else we could do in the way of letter writing campaigns, voting, etc. True, we should vote, we should write our congressmen, demonstrate, just as the Israelites had to pick up the sword and go to war. But those things are not the critical, decisive things.

If we were to repent as a Catholic people, get "the world" out of our homes, get to Confession often, to Mass at least every week, keep ourselves holy, the the LORD would fight for us.

When the USA was a Christian nation, there was a saying among us, "God watches over drunks, fools and the United States." We were under his blessing. He fought for us. No more!

Politics cannot save us. We are too far gone. We need to repent. If we did, we would prevail.

How useless to complain of Obama, Biden, Pelosi, etc. They are not the problem, but a symptom and a manifestation of our own infidelity as a people. On the whole, we are very far from being serious Catholics.

In short, you are on the money.

written by Louise, October 07, 2012
Father, your column is a timely reminder that where evil abounds grace does more abound. I guess it is an abundance of grace that is offered because of the difficulties we face, but we have to make use of it. i've previously expressed difficulty in going to Confession but your post has encouraged me to try and go more frequently because so few people are going and that is something I can truly offer to the Church, the grace of a sacrament frequently received which I find personally difficult. It wouldn't hurt me to fast and pray more often either and that is something that Jesus Himself suggested to overcome the really big evil. Would anyone question that we are facing the really big evils in our time? You are a treasure, Father. Thank you for your encouragement.
written by Fr. Bramwell, October 07, 2012
Hey guys SSPX is not the issue here!
written by Achilles, October 07, 2012
I am sorry Fr. Bramwell. Excellent article. The reminder of our real enemy could not be over emphasized. It seems Manfred sees enemies where there are none. These are dark times indeed and it strikes me that at the moment our enemy doesn't have to work very hard when men with such good intentions can be so easily led astray.
written by Jack,CT, October 07, 2012
Dear Achilles,
We all have different opinions,I suggest
not getting so involved involved in "others" opinions.
We all have different opinions and I tend to agree
with you but that is not the point we need to be
more tolerant of others.
I say this only because you appear to be getting
upset over diverse opinions, please understand I say
this with great respect.
written by Achilles, October 08, 2012
Jack, you are very kind and I take your words as you intend them so I thank you. I have great affection for Manfred and I am completely tolerant of his person and recognize his incalculable intrinsic worth and I think him to be a good father and a man with great zeal. I am however not at all tolerant of false opinions or points of view that spread error, we ought not ever to tolerate error. I put it out there because I am open to correction because I seek not to be right, but to understand rightly. I don’t believe the Church has erred, if She has, She is not the Church. We men error and all of us in the Church are sinners. I have not been convinced by the traditionalists the Vatican II is wrong in anyway except in how the liberal theologians perverted its messages. I will also defend the good Popes, who though human and prone to error just like the rest of us, were not heretics. These are hard words and hard ideas coming from the traditionalists and if they are right we are in a lot of trouble, and if they are wrong, they are in a lot of trouble. I know it is messy Jack but it ought to be put out there, we are talking about eternity here and I hope we are all there together.

I am not upset but I don’t think any of us should be tolerant of others opinions if those opinions express error, and I am glad that others would do the same for me. God bless you Jack, Achilles
written by Jack,CT, October 09, 2012
Thanks for your kind words and I totally
agree and understand what your saying.

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