“Man is free in his own conscience; he can embrace any religion he likes. Natural religion, that which reason dictates to each of us, is all that we want; we do not need either revelations or mysteries. Religion is a purely internal act; it should ex in the heart and confine itself to the sphere of the spirit. It is quite enough for a man to behave himself like one who is honest and honored among his fellow-men; as to religion, he can square his actions on his belief. Religion does not en into the sphere of external conduct or into the social order; the interests of our spiritual being should be entirely separate from those of our corporeal being.”


Does any of the above sound familiar to any of you? Would it surprise you, then, if I told you that these modernist teachings were being espoused during the 1860s and that Pope Leo XIII condemned them during his reign as archbishop of Perugia?


If it does not surprise you, then you are among those that are aware of the current crisis that has overtaken the Church and the world. If you are surprised, then you are in for a rude awakening when I tell you that these ideas have penetrated very deeply into the fabric of our society and faith over the last 140 years. Although these ideas may seem harmless, they are in direct contravention of the theology of the Church.


For example, the idea that a man can embrace any religion he wants is called “religious indifferentism.” This idea is not complex to explain. According to the believers of this philosophy, man is free in his conscience to choose whatever religion he pleases. Rather than be led to the Truth, he is led out along the by-ways and highways to find any religion which suits him the best. In our world, we see this constantly. There are many people, as I have noted elsewhere, who change their religion constantly. If all religions are the same, the thinking goes, then a man can change his religion in good conscience and not think anything of it.


We have been taught by our catechism teachers that there is only one true religion and one true Church. This Church was founded on the day of Pentecost by the appearance of the Holy Ghost to the apostles and disciples of Christ gathered in the upper room. This day brought to a culmination the work that had been begun by Our Lord Jesus Christ during His public ministry, His passion, His resurrection, and His ascension. With the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples, they were given the power to go and preach this Gospel to all of the nations of the world. In the words of the Psalmist, “Their voices have gone throughout all the world and to the ends of the earth.”


It should be noted here that religion for the apostles was not something that was internal. Their faith was something that was public and not hidden from men. How else could they have converted the world if not through outward as well as exterior works? As St. James writes in his epistle, “Faith without works is dead.” It is important for understand these important words because they were one of the main reasons why Martin Luther took out this epistle from the New Testament.


If faith is an external as well as an internal act, then it must affect the society in which we live and the way we relate to others. Looking at the great saints, it is easy for us to understand this concept. St. Boniface, the great apostle to the German speaking peoples, did not sit idly by. Rather, he worked such tremendous miracles among the Germans that he was persecuted and put to death for his beliefs. St. Patrick, the apostle of Ireland, actively sought to change the way in which the druids and managed to do so with a great deal of success. St. John Baptist de La Salle by establishing schools for poor boys impacted his society in a great way as well. During the French Revolution, the Brothers of the Christian Schools were one of the few religious orders that were not persecuted by the revolutionaries.


We must realize as well that our faith impels us to act and to be other Christs. The belief that religion should stay out of government is nothing new, but it is important for us to vote with our consciences. There are sufficient reasons for why we cannot vote for a man, who has condoned by his silence the murdering of innocent children after their births. Although he is against the war, we cannot in good conscience endorse Barack Hussein Obama to become president of this country. We must vote for someone who is much closer to our beliefs as Catholics.


Yet we must not also be Christs in the voting booth. We must become like Christ to our neighbors and those in need. Brother Bernard of Quintavalle, one of the earliest disciples of St. Francis, was once accosted by a group of children in a neighboring town. They pulled his hood over his head. They took away his sandals. They threw stones and garbage at him. Like Christ, Brother Bernard meekly and humbly stood by and let the children do this to him. After this spectacle, several men approached Brother Bernard and asked him if they could join the Franciscans. They had been converted by his example.


We must realize that we must not only be hearers of the Word, but doers. We should make the life of the Church the center of our own lives. It is imperative that we start doing this now rather than later. We are living in an extraordinary period of time because the period of great chastisements for us has not yet come. When it comes, however, we must be ready and willing to lay down our lives for Our Lord. We must begin the work of our salvation today and to pick up and continue with it daily. The devil would love to have us with those other souls that he has managed to capture in his snares. Yet we must resist him to the face and not leave the fold in which we have been brought by the grace and love of Our Lord.


Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!


St. Joseph, pray for us!