Image courtesy of Marc Salvatore.
What does it mean to be Catholic?
It’s a big question. With over a billion self-professed Catholics in the world, we’re obviously going to be a diverse group of people. But the beauty of our faith is that it is truly universal — for all men, at all times, throughout the whole world.
The four marks of the Church are that it is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. But sadly, in our present age, much of our unity has been lost.
We need to get back to basics. Belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. An understanding of the Four Last Things, and that Heaven is not a foregone conclusion. Adherence to traditional teachings on sexual morality in a world hell-bent on dragging us away from them. A properly-grounded knowledge of the Church’s thought on religious liberty and social justice, and how these impact those of us living in the post-Christian, deconstructionist ruins of Western Civilization. The re-establishment of long-discarded tradition that once made the Church strong, and can do so again.
The statistics aren’t good. Belief in core Catholic teaching among self-identified Catholics is at an all-time low. Liturgical orthodoxy is an endangered concept. We have a vocations crisis that stems directly from the crisis in the sanctuary and the family. And the governments of the world move closer each year to declaring Catholic belief a hate crime.
We long for the return of Christendom. Of a social order predicated upon a proper understanding of God, His Church, her teaching, and natural law. But to get there, we have a lot of work to do.
OnePeterFive exists as a place to begin rebuilding the Catholic ethos. We’re not just here to zero in on the problems, but to offer concrete solutions. We want to restore Catholic culture, rebuild the Church as a patron of the arts, reinvigorate the family and the traditions that keep it strong, reform the liturgy, support vocations, dust off the old devotions and make them relevant again. We want to help infuse the world with beautiful music, inspiring art, families that pray together, parishes centered around the Eucharist, strong communities, and a new generation of Catholics who can effectively bring the Gospel message to a world hostile to that message.
Our writers come from diverse backgrounds, but share a common goal: to work together to restore the beauty, majesty, and glory of the Catholic Church as the principal force for good in a fallen world.
We have a lot of work to do. There’s no time to waste.
In the 1962 Roman Breviary, there is a recurring theme each night as the day’s office is completed. Asking God’s protection from the enemy, the supplicant calls to mind the words of St. Peter:
Brothers: Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist ye, strong in faith:
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.
The quote is found in the first book of Peter, chapter five — a short but meaningful chapter, which offers guidance to those left to tend God’s flock in a time of peril. I can think of no more appropriate passage from scripture for Catholics to bear in mind during the dangerous times in which we live. It is from this passage, and the rest of 1 Peter 5 — that the name of this endeavor is taken.
In his Christmas address to the Roman Curia in December, 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI cited a vision of St. Hildegard of Bingen as he surveyed the damage in the Church:
In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’
And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.
For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’
And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)” (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).
There is not one aspect of the present situation in the Church that could not be greatly alleviated by holy priests teaching, administering, and tending to the needs of their flock. But holy priests do not exist in a vacuum. They come from devout families who live their faith. They come from parishes where the Eucharist is treated with great reverence, and liturgy is noble, fitting, and pleasing to God. They come from dioceses where seminaries form men to be alter Christus.
The Second Vatican Council ushered in an era of great tumult in the Church. But it also emphasized the role of the laity in the work of Catholic apostolate. There can be no greater work the laity can do than to bring about that interior reform, beginning at home, in the workplace, and in the culture, which will increase devotion to Our Lord, Our Lady, and those practices of piety and reparation which might return God’s favor to our deeply fallen world.
Half a century has been spent analyzing the problem. It’s time to start building again.
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
We entrust this work to the patronage of Our Lady, Virgin Most Powerful; Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Benedict, St. Michael, and all holy angels and saints.
Oremus pro invicem.