The Current Scene
The new Roman Catholic Mass since 1963 does not suit all. Now the Old Tridestine Mass is permissable to some groups of the faithful. That the Mass is an exaggeration of the simple institution our Lord bequeathed to His Church none can dispute. This central institution of the Christian Church demands a self-examination from all would-be communicants. Along with this is a candid examination of the institution itself would be a healthy spiritual exercise.
If Scripture alone is to be our guide none can be blamed for seeking to duplicate its simplicity. To such, another writes, “The Mass is a travesty of the Lord’s Supper, which is a feast of remembrance, not a sacrifice of renewal.” Also, “To say that the sacrifice was made once at Calvary and is being offered today is logically to suppose that the crucifixion has lasted from then until now.”
The religious instincts of so many find their Mass most gratifying. It is shrouded with incense, incantations and priestly domain. All believers are priests in this dispensation, and Peter, above all things, who gives us this divine revelation (1 Pet. 2:9), is denied when a priestly caste is insisted upon. In Hebrews 10:10 we learn that the cross work of Christ was “once for all,” finished, complete, making the recipients as such “perfect” as to their salvation. Whether it be the old Mass or the new Mass its substance is the same and a far cry from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Not of the World
The church proper bears a unique relationship to the world. It is to keep itself separated and unspotted. This raises the question as to what extent the church should involve itself in secular affairs. A liberal theology has become an obsession among some Catholic clerics and not a few Protestants. Some justify force if their demands are not secured by peaceful methods. The political activism that has become so popular in Latin America deeply concerns the Pope. He has warned that too much Marxism has crept into the movement. The tragedy is that the church, whatever discipline it possesses, has never been able to rule itself, let alone the increased complexities out in the world proper. A liberalizing trend within the Roman communion challenges the Papal leadership. A recent survey shows 70 percent of American Catholics sanction abortion, 80 percent birth control and a priest’s right to marry, and 60 percent favor the ordination of women. Charles Curran of Catholic University is a critic of the church’s stand on contraception, divorce and homosexuality. The Dutch theologian Schillebeeck questions such doctrines as the divinity of Christ and His resurrection. Then there is the German author, Hans Kung, who can no longer teach as a Catholic theologian. He falls out on Papal infallibility. Concerning the vitals of “mere Christianity,” these fare even worse in mainline Protestantism. Paul speaks of the time when “they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:3). As to morals in Romans chapter one, Paul describes the depravity of the pagan world of his day. In his last epistle (2 Timothy), he sees pretty much the same condition reproduced in Christendom. Both in doctrine and morals there are signs that herald the soon coming of Jesus Christ for His own. Certainly the church that conforms to being but a pilgrim and a stranger in the world (1 Peter 2:11) gives its priorities to continue daily “in prayer and the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). Then too, the church that has a neutral record with the authorities and owns negligible properties fares better in the revolutions either to the political right or left.
When Castro took over Cuba from a not too popular dictator, he did so ostensibly as a liberator. The outside world was encouraged to believe he was about to establish a democracy. Instead he proved to be a typical wolf in sheep’s clothing. A similar tactic has been used by the Sandinistras in Nicaragua. The so-called “dirty tricks” pose no hindrance to Communist goals. A quote from U.S. News World Report is to the point: “The Sandinistras promote the image of Nicaragua as a small democratic peace seeking nation that is being harassed by a militant giant — a notion that is received well in Latin America, among European socialists and by some political liberals in the U.S.” President Reagan thinks otherwise, and not without some sound reasoning.
Just as the Sandinistras led by Ortega infiltrated Nicaragua with his guerilla forces, so now he is plagued with “contras.” These are guerillas that oppose him and ostensibly have democratic goals. A sort of tit for tat. These “contras” assisted by the C.I.A. have no scruples about the use of “dirty tricks.” The President is all for aiding the “contras,” but for the present support has been withheld. Here is a case of fighting fire with fire. The ethics involved trouble the American conscience. For this we credit the way the Bible has influenced this nation in contrast to nations that have not felt its impact, especially Communism, that discredits the precious Volume. In a world where anything goes as long as you win, this presents a tremendous problem to those with a conscience. A still bigger testing is the apparent silence of heaven in allowing the success of the godless. Our Lord has a timely word, “It is impossible that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come” (Luke 17:1). Also, He added, “this is your hour, and the prince of darkness” (Luke 22:53).
The Lord distinguishes the difference between His kingdom and that of “the princes of the Gentiles.” Their ambition is domination. His disciples, like their Lord, seek lowly service (Matt. 20:26). Lowell’s “Right forever on the scaffold; wrong forever on the throne” only awaits the moment when Jesus shall literally reign.