GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York recently wrote about the importance of viewing the U.S. as "mission" territory. He noted that Catholics in America must move from "keeping our faith to ourselves to letting it shine to others!" With those words, Cardinal Dolan kindly reminds Catholics that the Church has never advocated a Christian discipleship which is based solely on silent witness to the Gospel.

That message, one which calls Catholics to embrace and live their faith openly, zealous in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in both word and deed as it has been guarded and transmitted by the Church for twenty-centuries, is not new. In fact, it began with the example of St. Peter and the other apostles on Pentecost, that day on which the Church was made "manifest to the world" by "the outpouring of the Holy Spirit" (CCC 1076; see Acts 2). On that glorious day, the apostles began to speak openly and actively in favor of the way of Christ.

When we look at the apostles method of evangelization, we immediately notice that it energetically involved the whole person; i.e., it became their way of life — even if that way of life meant martyrdom. And it indeed did for all of the apostles save St. John.

Today the context of evangelization is different — thus it is called the "New Evangelization." While the apostles labored to water the seed of the Church planted by Christ, nourishing it with their very blood that it may become a vine whose tendrils of truth and light would reach across the fields of the earth, evangelization has been shaped in recent times by the affects of an increasingly post-Christian era. That is, nearly everyone knows of Christ, but few people truly and intimately know the Person who is Jesus the Christ. A vine overgrown with weeds is more often encountered than a land of weeds. As Pope Benedict XVI has emphatically stated more than once, men are living as if God does not exist. It would be a serious error to imagine the Holy Father is speaking only to those who openly reject God, however often as the case may be, for he is speaking primarily to reputed Christians.

This situation in which America has become imbued with the ambience of practical atheism, is due in large part to the "we’re all fine" phenomenon. It goes like this: "God loves me and you the way we are, so not to worry. Sure, everybody has their faults, but Christ died for our sins. God will work it all out." As is evident, such a convenient religious philosophy is not entirely unrelated to the unbiblical doctrine of unconditional salvation, also known as "eternal security" or "once saved always saved." That people are on different paths is true, but the notion that all these paths invariably lead to the same glorious end regardless of how the individual person exercises free will, is one giant, diabolical lie.

There is little more harmful than sleepy Christians unfettered by the demands of the Gospel who, presuming on glory without merit, persist in yawning at the pressing commandment of Christ to "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt. 5:48). As Christians, we are obliged to respond to the grace of the Holy Spirit, giving ourselves over in love to that Love who so graciously gave himself to us at our Baptism in virtue of the redemptive merits of Jesus Christ.  Vatican II sought to remind Christians of just such a fact: "All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged" (LG 14). The Spirit has re-created us in Christ. That immense gift demands a new way of living.

Clearly a serious outlook on the reality of the life is in order. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him" (John 3:36). Given the shocking realities of a society gone awry, such as widespread relativism and moral indifference, the contraceptive mentality which has fueled the horrors of abortion, the recent secularist attacks on freedom of conscience and freedom of religion and so forth, it is time for Catholics everywhere to rise up and speak the language of truth in word and deed, living our lives in a credible and convincing way. Charity demands that we voice the truth.

"Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection," wrote Pope Benedict XVI, "is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person …


and of all humanity. . . . To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, rejoices in the truth" (Caritas In Veritate 1).

Catholics need to be carefully taught that truth is an essential element in achieving authentic human fulfillment in true freedom and perfect happiness. Our Savior Jesus Christ said, "I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me" (Jn 14:6), and "I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10). The truth of the Christian religion presented in its fullness by the Church, which includes both faith and morals, is not merely an inconsequential data set; it is not a list of nice ideas and interesting options which have little bearing on human life and society. On the contrary, God’s revelation to the living body of his Church is the word of life, and as such it is an indispensable component of every single aspect of human life. Charity "rejoices in the truth," because it is God’s will that "all men" be "saved and come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4). The truth is about salvation. If we love Christ, we repeat his truth transmitted by the Church.

Unfortunately, for a whole host of "reasons," Catholics have been lax in living their lives in word and deed according to the language of truth. That we have often failed to love God above all else is a tragedy which has borne serious repercussions for every aspect of our society. "As Catholics, like so many other American Christians," wrote Archbishop Chaput, "we have too often made our country what it is through our appetite for success, our self-delusion, our eagerness to fit in, our vanity, our compromises, our self-absorption and our tepid faith."

Two years before Blessed John Paul II was raised to the Chair of Peter, then Karol Cardinal Wotyla articulated the following disturbing observation to the Catholic Bishops of the U.S.: "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up."

It is not enough to simply say that we are Christians; nor is it enough to speak only of how we love Christ. We must, as Catholics, fully live out the language of truth in word and deed, speaking openly in the public square, faithfully repeating the words of truth articulated in their fullness by holy mother Church. For the laity are "entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth" (CCC 900).

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of our age is that Catholics are becoming more and more unaware of the reality of who they are. That is, while in virtue of Baptism we are made members of the divine family who are destined to share in eternal glory, we have in many cases forgotten what such a participation in the life of the Holy Trinity actually means: as children of the household of God, we must always live out the language of truth in word and deed as the members of the divine family that we are, in order to build up the body of Christ and aid in populating the kingdom of heaven. God has given us the gift of participating in his life. It is clear that we should take an active part in that wondrous, sublime and unending reality.

While the truth is often unpopular, even abhorred, we should not be the least surprised by negative reactions: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Mt. 10:34). Speaking the truth can be difficult. However, in hope we are consoled in the certain knowledge that those who speak the truth with love are indeed serving our Lord Jesus Christ. After explaining the parable of the weeds in the field to his disciples, Jesus said: "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13:43). And in the book of Daniel we read: "Those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever" (12:3).


F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at
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VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – As the August 1, 2012 date for the initial implementation requirements of the HHS mandate draws closer, an opinion from the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) is advising Catholic Colleges of a "temporary one year safe harbor" which might enable some non-profits to delay the consequences of non-compliance for one year.

The details were contained in an opinion from legal counsel which can be read in its entirety here.  This opinion was sent to that outstanding guardian of Catholic identity at Catholic Colleges, the Cardinal Newman Society, one of many great resources marshaled together for the struggle ahead.

The lawsuits filed by numerous Catholic Colleges and institutions have revealed a silver lining in the cloud of this repression – the emergence of an unparalleled cooperation among Christians, Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic, in defending religious freedom.

On Wednesday, July 18, 2012, the evangelical Protestant College filed a lawsuit adding their resistance to the growing resistance forged by this unjust mandate which violates the Free Exercise of religion. The suit was filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty  and can be read in its entirety here.

However, what is becoming increasingly clear is that we are living under an ominous cloud of oppression. At its center are the unconstitutional actions of a Federal Administration which is growing increasingly hostile to the Catholic Church – as she seeks to be faithful to her mandate to proclaim and live the fullness of the Gospel in a Nation which she has served so well since its founding.

Most of us could not have foreseen this turn of events just a few years ago. Oh, we knew the culture was decaying and we were doing all we could to not only stem the tide but help to effect its renewal. However, now we find Catholic Colleges and other institutions, which so clearly serve the common good, having to find "safe harbors" to win more time to fight the unjust actions of an American Administration.

I contend that no matter what happens as this all unfolds, it is challenging us to deeper prayer, reflection, preparation and reasoned action. We need to relearn how to live in spiritual battle mode. This is a part of a larger intense spiritual warfare which we must understand properly if we hope to properly participate in.

On Monday, May 21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI held a luncheon with members of the College of Cardinals. His purpose was to thank them for their kindness in wishing him a Happy 85th Birthday on April 16, 2012. In addition, he wanted to thank his friends for wishing him a happy seventh anniversary of his election to the Chair of Peter on April 19, 2012.

Vatican News reported that the Holy Father reminded his brothers upon whom he relies upon for advice and counsel that "The Church, the Mystical Body, exists on this earth, and is called the Church militant, because its members struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil."

In what was reported to have been a warm yet quite candid luncheon, Pope Benedict XVI shared many of his moments of joy during his apostolic ministry as the successor of Peter, as well as insights into the struggles. European sources indicate that the Pope told the Cardinals,

"(I) especially thank the Lord for many years has given me, years with many days of joy, wonderful times, but also dark nights. But in retrospect it is understood that the nights were necessary and good."

"We see evil wants to rule the world and it is necessary to go into battle against evil. We (see) it does in so many ways, bloody, with various forms of violence, but also disguised with good and thus destroying the moral foundations of society."

"We’re in this fight and (in) this fight it is very important to have friends. I am surrounded by friends of the College of Cardinals: they are my friends and I feel at home, I feel safe in the company of great friends who are with me, together."

The use of the phrase "Church Militant" for the Church on the earth used to be very common in the Catholic Church. However, for lots of reasons, including a possible misunderstanding of the term, the term has fallen out of use since the Second Vatican Council.


arth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass Her destruction."

We are becoming increasingly aware in our time that we are the Church militant as we battle the ravages caused by the culture of death. In addition, as we witness the growing hostility toward the church throughout the world, we realize that we are indeed engaged in a spiritual warfare.

The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesians that the real enemy we struggle against is the devil with these words, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:11,12)

I was recently reminded of some potentially prophetic words written by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in an extraordinary little book first published in 1971 and entitled "Faith and the Future". The Cardinal who is now the successor of the Apostle Peter, bearing the name Benedict XVI,  wrote:

"From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much.  She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.  She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices that she built in prosperity.  As the number of her adherents diminishes, so will she lose many of her social privileges.’ 

"In contrast to an earlier age, she will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision.  As a small society, she will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.  Undoubtedly she will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession." 

"In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will be normally provided in this fashion.  Alongside this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly." 

"But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world." 

"In faith and prayer she will again recognize her true center and experience the sacraments again as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship" (Pope Benedict XVI, Faith and the Future, pp. 116-117).

Let us pray for this dear Pope who bears the name Benedict. Let us stand in solidarity with him in this struggle against the darkness of our age. The growing persecution of the Catholic Church is giving rise to the re-emergence of the Church Militant. We are all enlisted. We are witnessing the reemergence of the Church Militant. The HHS Mandate calls us to learn to live in Spiritual Battle.