Monday, November 27, 2006

The Tides of Time

Let us look to history and see what we can learn about the Catholic Church, its struggles and stumbles, its enemies, and the results.

The Roman Empire opposed Christianity and attempted to suppress it many times, most famously under Nero. Christianity was illegal from the time of Nero until the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome. In the end, the greatest empire on Earth became Christian, rather than wiping it out.

The Nazi’s and Italian Fascists opposed the Catholic Church. Both regimes fell in just a few short decades.

The Soviet Union and other Communist States all opposed the Church, often strongly and with tactics that may seem oddly – contemporary. Despite these attacks, the Catholic Church prevailed and was a direct participant in the overthrow of the Soviet Union and its client states.

The French Revolution attempted to suppress the Church and even it calendar. Attempts to suppress the Church were common in many new Republics of Europe at that time, some of which continued into the 20th Century.

As can be seen from this short list, the opponents of the Church include some of the greatest empires that have ever exited; nations with seemingly-unstoppable military might, political power, and the will to annihilate the Catholic Church. In each case the Church triumphed over or outlived their opponent, or both.

There has been some noise for a few decades that the Second Vatican Council marked a huge change for the Catholic Church; that if the Church survives the modern era, Vatican II will forever alter its nature in such a way that it will a completely new entity. You can hear this from the Right and the Left within the Church. Of course, there were a few other ecumenical councils that resulted in turbulence; the Church survived all of these other councils and, after a generation or two, continued on, dogma unchanged. While it is important that Catholic remain faithful to the Magisterium and uphold orthodoxy of worship, the doctrines of the Church, and Tradition, we must remember – we aren’t the first to deal with issues such as these.

From heretics like the Arians and Gnostics, political foes like the Soviet Union, military foes like the Caliphate, ideological foes like Dawkins, and even internal dissent and schism, the Church has already seen it. Seen it, weathered it, and persevered. The tides of time may ebb and flow, but the Rock shall always remain.

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