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October full of Anniversaries!

Oct 22

Written by:
10/22/2017 12:00 AM  RssIcon

This October is full of important anniversaries in the Church. On October 13, we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the ‘Miracle of the Sun’ that happened at Fatima, Portugal, as Mary promised to the three peasant children. It was a great sign of Mary’s favor and promise and a wonderful reminder that despite the growing threat of war in Europe at the time, God was still clearly in charge. The request to consecrate Russia to Mary and to pray for the conversion of Europe is still bearing good fruit throughout the world. (As a side note, I think of the fall of Communism without entering into a third world war, and can only think of the power of prayer at work.)

In a not so happy anniversary, October 31, we commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Thesis to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany; thus setting off the fire storm that would become the Protestant Reformation. (While concurrently launching what became known as the Catholic Counter-Reformation.) Sadly, this event is not worth celebrating, as it has caused long lasting and negative impacts in the world of Christendom. Luther certainly had valid critiques that needed to be made in the Church, and those critiques were often being silenced, yes; but it is always best to work for reform from within the Church structures rather than outside of or opposed to them.

Yet, in the last fifty or so years, there has been great strides made in reconciling those differences that have their root back in the challenges made by the Protestant reformers. There is a greater sense of the urgency for re-unification of the Christian world, as the divisiveness and brokenness of Christendom goes directly against the Great Priestly Prayer of Jesus found in the seventeenth chapter of John’s account of the Gospel. Jesus prayers that we all might be one, as He and His Father are one.

How do we move forward? From the initial example in this column, prayer is an absolute requirement. And prayers for Christian unity are something that we should all say on a regular basis. Prayer works and it is efficacious! And when we pray for unity, we echo the prayer Jesus made just before His Passion, Death and Resurrection; and it is never a bad idea to pray as Jesus did!

As we approach the anniversary of the Reformation, we should also look at the heart of the Church and examine the ways that we are not where Christ wants us to be. ‘The Church is always in need of reform,’ is a common statement through the ages. But that ongoing reformation is not the structures and buildings, but the interior heart of the disciples. We must always let Jesus bring about a deeper reformation in all of us!

Finally, as we examine the roots of the Reformation in the Catholic Church, we should also strive to learn what we can from our Protestant brothers and sisters, and bring those treasures home to the Catholic Church. The love for Scripture, and how deeply the Scripture is studied, should be for all of us. (I think of St. Jerome’s great line: ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.’) So many of our Protestant brethren have a zeal for spreading the Gospel that is all too often lacking in Catholic circles, as well. We should match and exceed that zeal, for we are fed by the very Body and Blood of Jesus when we come to Mass! How that can transform us into dynamic witnesses of Christ!

Perhaps more than anything as the anniversary of the start of the Reformation nears, we should be proud of our Catholic faith. We should be proud of the great works that are done in and through the Church. We should be proud that we have preserved and handed on the deposit of faith for nearly two thousand years. And we should be courageous and bold as we invite our separated brethren back into the treasury of the Catholic Church.

God Bless,
Fr. Kyle Schnippel

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Re: Why do we place a white pall on the casket of the deceased at funeral Masses?
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