Church Militant in London & The Body of Christ
In my opinion, one of the best blogs out there is Dr. Joseph Shaw's. He is erudite and academic, a committed Catholic and uses data extremely well in his posts.
In this post from yesterday, he reports on a visit to London by Michael Voris. For those who don't know, Voris is the president and founder of Saint Michael's Media, a religious apostolate producing on-demand video programs on the website ChurchMilitant.com.
Michael Voris underwent a "reversion", having been born and brought up a Catholic, after the death of his brother in 2003 and then his mother in 2004. At this point, he started to read much more deeply about the faith and to take what the Church teaches more seriously. I can really connect with that, I think that being confronted with the reality of our mortality and the mortality of those we love does make us ask serious questions about what we believe about the nature of life and death. I didn't experience the same journey personally, although the death of my daughter in 2009 was certainly a part of that journey. In my life, I feel that the "reversion" I experienced was something God used to prepare me for the unimaginable pain of losing my child.
In 2013, Michael released an episode of Mic'd Up, one of the regular programs on Church Militant TV, which provided first hand background to his apostolate as well as the opposition he had faced from the establishment in setting up the venture.
|Timothy Cardinal Dolan is often criticised by Michael Voris|
Overall, I support Michael and his work because he is unequivocally Catholic. Programmes like Mic'd Up's investigation of Vatican II are interesting and informative and fair. He doesn't attack Pope Francis and when he is not engaging in investigative journalism and exposing the hypocrisy and heresy in the Church, his programmes on the faith are beautiful expositions of Catholic truth. His attacks on individuals do bother me though!
Back to Dr. Shaw's blog, which contains a report of Voris' address on Friday in London. This talk was an eloquent exposition of the importance of personal holiness in the current and developing situation in the Church, according to Dr. Shaw. He also thinks that...
...the emphasis on the importance of being in a state of grace, which I've seen from some other orthodox Catholic sources in recent years as well, is extremely good. It can't be stressed too much that if you are in a state of mortal sin you have no sanctifying grace in you; you have lost the friendship of God and the life of God in your soul. Not only will you go to hell if run over by the proverbial bus, but you can't expect to be effective in situations of what we might call spiritual combat. You won't be able to stand up well to temptations; you won't be able to give good advice to friends and colleagues who need it; you won't be a witness to the faith. If you've committed fornication, if you've used contraception, if you've been complicit in an abortion, engaged in vindictive gossip, fiddled your taxes, or cheated your employer or an employee: for heaven's sake get to confession.
And I completely concur, this call to personal holiness is at the heart of the Catholic life and I think we are increasingly seeing faithful Catholics who live out their lives in a constant struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil, start to speak out about the value and importance of this struggle against a prevailing attitude of relativism and apathy.
In many respects this is why Michael Voris and other apostalates are springing up and growing in popularity. Sadly, we so seldom hear anything authentically Catholic from the bishops who, according to Canon 386 §1. are "...bound to teach and illustrate to the faithful the truths of faith which are to be believed and applied to morals. He is himself to preach frequently. He is also to ensure that … the whole of Christian teaching is transmitted to all." Where do we go if we want to know about a Catholic issue in the news? Is it to the CBEW or the USCCB? Or is it to The Catholic Herald, Catholic Answers, Jimmy Akin, Church Militant, or a blog that we feel we can trust like Father Z? Of course it should be to our bishops, and some are working hard to redress this (notably, Lancaster Diocese which works hard to keep us up to date with what's going on in the Catholic World).
Dr. Shaw does go on to highlight a point of difference with Michael Voris however:
There's another aspect of what he said which, in the same spirit of constructive criticism I employed after his last London talk, I want to question. For he said repeatedly that as good Catholics we should challenge people, such as family members and colleagues, about religion. He said it was not enough, for example, to have a statue of Our Lady by your place of work, hoping it might stimulate enquiries or conversations; you must go out and initiate these conversations.
Well, as a lot of recent cases in the UK have shown, this is the way to get yourself sacked from any job in the public sector; it would destroy your career and your professional relationships in almost any other part of the economy. As for family members, if you want your lapsed siblings and other close relations to think not 'oh that's Fred, he's stuck to the Faith for some reason, but he seems cheerful enough' but, instead, 'oh that's Fred, he demonstrates how aggressive, unpleasant, and bone-headed Catholics are, thank goodness I left the Church', then this is clearly the path you should take.
Maybe it is different in the USA. The tradition of Evangelical Protestantism has left its mark on the culture; this kind of thing is more easily tolerated; furthermore the 1st Amendment protecting freedom of expression gives people more legal protection than we have here. But Voris was speaking in London.
As far as giving witness to the Faith goes, there is no obligation on Catholics to pursue strategies which are counter productive. Raising the subject of religion and your friends' and colleagues' personal faith, or lack of it, is, at least in the UK, going to be seriously counterproductive, as well as leading to the would-be evangeliser finding himself in poverty, if not in prison.
Nevertheless, we should be witnesses to the Faith. We should be ready with an answer, St Peter says. Not: 'jump down people's throats with a question'. No. 1 Peter 2:15f:
Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
How do we give witness to the Faith? The reality is that for a reasonably conscientious Catholic the problem is never finding a way of letting people know you are Catholic...The next step is saying something about the Faith, and again, this comes all too readily: you will be challenged about your behaviour, and you may well find it necessary to object to things going on at work or in your family, if only to your personal involvement.
I agree heartily with Voris that too many Catholics are lukewarm. Too many go along with what they should not go along with: a work outing to an iffy club, the wedding of a divorced family member, 'congratulations' to someone having a sex change. But that doesn't mean we have to start, unsolicited, quoting Bible verses about sodomy in the lunch break or at a family get-together.
I think this is really well put and explains very well the discomfort I feel along with many others, about Voris' style. I say this in the context of a post which I hope extolls the need for people like Michael Voris and expresses my esteem and admiration for what he is doing. Many people just dismiss him, but I do not. I think he represents a valuable voice of orthodoxy. He loves Christ and His Church, and these are estimable qualities. We are a body which contains many different members, all with different strengths, weaknesses and talents. We all have something to contribute (see 1 Cor 12:12-27).
You may agree with some of my posts here, you may disagree, but the may inform and alter your perspective in a valuable way (I hope) by presenting my perspective. This is how I see Michael Voris' work. I don't agree with his vocal criticisms of Fr. Robert Barron for example, although I see his theological point and the ramifications thereof. I would prefer (as it subjectively relates to my work of evangelisation) to utilise Fr. Robert's talents, as I would Michael Voris' talents, to help the work of evangelisation, and work out my own salvation in fear and trembling (as must they) q.v. Phil 2:12.
Dr. Shaw's blog, in my opinion, presents a valuable perspective on this which speaks to what is good in Voris' presentation, whilst questioning what would not work from his own perspective. I thank God for all these people and the fact that they care enough to inject so much passion into the Church and help us all to understand the current situation and what exactly is at stake.