November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – People often find it difficult to judge about contemporary problems because current affairs are too “close” to us to be able to see them clearly. We feel too much immersed in them, almost as if we are treading water and trying not to drown. One useful way of gaining perspective is to step back in time, into other periods of crisis, and to speculate on what the implications of those crises might have been for Catholics living through them. Here, this exploration will take the form of hypothetical dialogues between Christ and a soul at its particular judgment.
Scenario #1 takes place in the year 366.
The Judge: O Christian soul, why did you dare to sing the songs of the Arians, with their refrain “there was a time when He was not”? For in truth, there is no time when I was not. I am the eternal Son of the eternal Father.
Soul: Well… I was confused when Pope Liberius signed an accord with the Emperor. Everyone was saying that the pope had admitted that there could be some debate, you know, some flexibility in the formulas… that it was not all black-and-white…
The Judge: You should have known better. My Church has always confessed My divinity. When Arius arose, he was immediately condemned as a heretic. The truth was solemnly defined at the Council of Nicaea, and My saints have defended it ever since.
Soul: Who was I to judge? Hearing conflicting things, I figured: “If the pope is confused, then how could I be expected to know for sure?” Aren’t we just supposed to follow the pope?
The Judge: You say: “Who was I to judge?” Yet in your baptism and chrismation I gave you the Spirit of Truth by which to distinguish truth from falsehood, and the duty of knowing your faith and following it unto death.
Soul: But what of the pope, the rock on which the Church is built?
The Judge: The papacy I established as a guardian of the unchanging truths of the Faith and a barrier against novelty. That is why he is called a rock and not sand. This Liberius, My thirty-sixth pope, was unworthy of his charge; he wavered when he should have stood firm. Seeing all time before me, I declare to you that he will be the only pope among the fifty-four bishops of Rome from St. Peter to St. Gelasius I who will not be revered as a saint.
Soul: I am ashamed. I stand justly condemned for my failure in faith. Have mercy on me, O Lord!
The Judge: I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Angels, lead away this soul to the furnace of purgation, that he may be cleansed of his vices.
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