The best book I have read in months is The Yes of Jesus Christ by the Pope Emeritus, written in 1989, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger.
I started it as it was a gift from a grateful reader, but it has proved to be a goldmine of spirituality for us in this culture of death and despair.
I cannot give a complete review, although there are some tidbits on my blog. But, on this blog, during this holiest of weeks, I want to highlight one major point.
How many lapsed Catholics have we all met who complain about the Church? I can understand someone complaining who is still in the Church, but if someone has decided to leave, why bother?
The Pope Emeritus has the answer.
It is man's fundamental disconnectedness with himself that as it were takes its revenge on other people because they do not provide what could only be provided by a new opening up of one's own soul. Today it can often be observed in numerous variants even within the Church but it always stems ultimately from the fact that people do not want from the Church what it is its to impart, the grace of being a child of God, and that they are then found to regard as inadequate everything else that the Church is offering, so that one disappointment follows another."
In other words, those who want the Church for social reasons, sound like this, "I am single and find no one my age in my parish. Why should I go?" Those who want the Church to be that of perfect saints sound like this, "All Catholics are hypocrites, as I know some."
Those who want the Church to be full of social workers and politicians complain about social justice issues, and those who want the Church to be made in their own image of immorality and soft consciences, want the Church to change her stand on marriage or contraception.
The Church exists to impart grace through the sacraments first and foremost, and the preaching of the Gospel. All else follows as is right and true.
Some want to make the Church into their own images and likenesses.
The Pope Emeritus writes later in this section, "Such people now deem this new interpretation both to themselves and to others as the true content of the Christian message, because no one can bear to have to regard himself of herself as an apostate."
In order not to be called an apostate, Luther, Henry VIII, and others created their own churches, made in their images and likenesses.
So as not to wear the condemnation which is justly theirs, they left the great calling of humility and purity of heart, and became hateful towards those who followed Christ and His Church. Hence, the English Age of the Catholic Martyrs.
Benedict notes that the "self-justification in which such a person has taken refuge after the loss of faith" , (which is the same as a holder of a bad conscience), this person wants all to live as he does, in darkness and in sorrow. "Misery loves company" could be the motto of the society of agnostics in which we live.
Horrible, but the society at large has come to this point wherein the majority, who no longer believe, want to drag down into their spitefulness all those who strive to be holy.
Benedict, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, outlines that apathy, faintheartedness, nursing grudges and spitefulness are the great daughters of accidie, that sin of inertia which gives up on the path to perfection.
Such were the sins of Judas which led him to his rejection of love, the Love which he witnessed daily.
One substitutes such morbidity for what Benedict calls, "the inexhaustible surprise of divine love".
How beautiful is the constant call of the Bridegroom to His beloved. Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. Song of Songs 2:20 DR
This is my faith, that of a loving God who calls all to Him over and over, even in our darkness.
I choose that love and want to be surprised daily. Therefore, I choose to turn my back on the society of the agnostics, or engage with such, if anyone in that culture of death really wants an "out". Love conquers all...really, truly.