Slow and Steady

News: Commentary
by Simon Rafe  •  •  June 18, 2016   

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In Thursday's "Download," Bradley Eli talks about how certain demons only go out through prayer and fasting. He makes a great point there that I think everyone should listen to; I won't spoil it or steal his thunder.

But it refers to the Gospel passage for Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time (Year C). The Scripture reference, using the well-understood and standardized format, is Mark 9:14–29. The Douay-Rheims is as close as one gets to the "official English language" translation in the Catholic Church. The Latin Vulgate is the official Bible of the Catholic Church. The passage involves casting out a demon, but verse 29 is the most relevant here: "And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."

Although some translations omit "and fasting" from verse 29, neither of those two versions do. The translation used by the USCCB for the Monday readings does omit "and fasting" — and that is a serious problem, not merely because it changes the meaning of the passage, not only because it could give the impression one can tangle with the demonic armed with nothing more than some prayers and hope (a point I and Christine hammer in "The Download"), and not only because it deprives people hearing it of the great interpretation Brad puts on the passage.

No, it is a problem because it is, ultimately, a non-Catholic response.

The Catholic faith, as I have said many times (it is a favorite point of mine, actually), is a physical religion, a sensual religion, a religion of water and oil, bread and wine, wood and iron. It is a fleshy religion of actions and suffering, joys and pleasures, feasts and fasts. We sin with our flesh and we are redeemed by Flesh.

Protestantism discards all that. Instead, it creates a sort of gnostic religion — a religion where everything is spiritual, where the physical really doesn't matter (and perhaps where the physical is considered evil rather than what God called it, which was "good"), where we are saved not by what we do, and not even really by faith, trust or love, but more by some secret knowledge. We accept Jesus as our Savior, and we are thereby saved — permanently, eternally saved.

These are Protestant doctrines, held to by many Protestants (and by not a few Catholics). They are literally anti-Christian (Christ incarnated; He took on flesh. He did so to save us, not on a whim. The Flesh of Christ is essential to salvation; absent it, we are damned).

These doctrines are ridiculous, but they are believed, and this sort of foolishness from the USCCB in choosing Scripture readings or Bible translations might seem a small thing, but it is very important. The mountains of faith, the rock on which we build our personal houses of belief and relationship with Christ, aren't always destroyed by some massive explosion. All too often, they are worn away, drip by drip by drip, by the slow, relentless trickle of water eroding our certainties to sand.

And so that is why it is important we (and I use the inclusive "we," meaning all of us) need to be just as relentless in our opposition to these little droplets of eroding water. The bedrock of the Faith is, literally, solid as a rock — but have you seen what something as soft and soothing as water and as patient as time does to rock? Every valley of Sodom was once a mountain of Zion. Some of them were lain low by a sudden earthquake or landslide, but far more were ground down over years, decades, centuries of slow, deliberative, patient work of water with Satan's clawed hand on the faucet tap making sure the flow wasn't fast enough to be noticed but was constant enough to erode.

Stand up. Resist. Turn that faucet down tight. When you see something, say something. Don't tolerate the slightest deviation from authentic Catholicism — and not merely in the matter of doctrine or dogma, but culture and style and everything else. Why should we do things the way Protestants do? Why should we discard our Catholic patrimony in favor of being like the water that assumes the shape of the container it is in without effort? Why should we not set our monoliths of faith in every public square from sunrise to sunset and from pole to pole? By what right do we make excuses for the shadows they cast?

Protestantism (I suppose I could say "Protestant-inspired thought," but that wouldn't be true; it is Protestantism because it's against the Church and is within Her and that is how the original Protestantism got started) has infected the Church. The many men who built houses on sand starting in the 16th century left or were thrown out (including this week's subject, Zwingli, who had his own problems with the slow drip-drip-drip eroding his faith!), but now they tend to stay inside, pushing just the same agenda of denial of the essential character of the Church as unique and exclusive, holy and distinct, salvific and physical — salvific because She is physical.

It will be wearing trying to hold by a tide of little drips, but at least you will have a solid bedrock to rest on, which is more than any non-Catholic can boast.


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