Clarity in Discerning
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world” .( 1 Jn. 4:1)
Are we gullible in the spiritual life, being “tossed about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14)?
What does it mean for us to “test” the spirits?
To give an analogy, I know a medical doctor who strongly encourages his patients to take responsibility for their own health, and not rely blindly on their doctor’s advice. This isn’t to say one shouldn’t seek the knowledge of doctors who are learned in certain areas. But one should be aware of their mindset and ideologies regarding health, and discern what is true and solid medical advice (many books have been written on this subject).
On the spiritual realm, St. John tells us in the above passage, to “test the spirits”… because there are “many false prophets.”
He goes on to say,
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist”(1 Jn. 4:2-3)
Spirit of Christ or AntiChrist?
Dear Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, this is how we know what is true and of God. Jesus is both human and Divine, in this life and beyond. This is why we are called to celebrate Christmas with such Solemnity; because it is an entrance into the great mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ – “’Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us’” (Mt. 1:23).
Let us “test” a few situations:
–Do we recognize what spirit is trying to prevent us from saying “Merry Christmas?”… “The spirit of the Antichrist.”
–How do we know who to listen to even among the hierarchy of the Catholic Church?… Jesus tells us , we must have “ears to hear” the Word of God. When we do, we are able to discern what is true doctrine and teaching, and that which is false.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.2 Timothy 4:3-4
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”Galatians 1:8
To acknowledge that the “Word became flesh,” is to acknowledge that all that the Word (Jesus) did and said when in the flesh, is true; and meant to be followed wholeheartedly and uncompromisingly. For this is the “deposit of faith” which has been passed down through the ages.
Church Evolving VS Changing
There is a grave difference between the Church teachings and doctrines evolving vs. changing. The Church, the body of Christ, has been called to mature through the years – in a sense as a child matures into adulthood. Certain aspects of the Church may look different, but at the core essence the Church is the same – only blossoming into greater fullness.
The goal of the “spirit of the Antichrist” is to do away with Christ “come in the flesh” in any way possible. And, because the Church is the “mystical Body of Christ” on earth, the spirit of the Antichrist is attacking the Church as well; to water down and compromise the Spirit of Christ and the truths He came to establish.
The Whole purpose of the Church is to protect and pass down this “deposit of faith.” But when it is changed, this should raise a red flag that the spirit has failed the “test” and is not to be trusted or heeded; because it is an impostor spirit of the Antichrist which has infiltrated the Church.
Our protection for remaining in the truth:
- —Live the faith as it has been handed down to us through the Apostles and the Church Fathers and Doctors. Know the faith as has been handed down through the Catechisms and Council teachings. Remain in obedience under the umbrella of Holy Mother Church and Her teachings. This means, as well, obedience to the authentic hierarchy who have come down through the line of the first apostles. (Unless, they tell us to do something not in line with God’s law.)
- –Live wholeheartedly the Sacramental Life, beginning with Baptism. We receive the indwelling Presence of the Most Holy Trinity through Baptism. Are we seeking daily: to live a life fully surrendered to God and His Divine Will; and to grow in communion with Him?
- –Frequent the Sacrament of Confession, with true and heart-felt examination of who we are before God. As St. Francis prayed, may we ask God to “Enlighten the darkness of our hearts.”
- –Recognize that Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is the “Source and Summit of the whole Christian life” (Vat. II). If we get this, all else will fall into place. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should be the center of each day (whether we are able to attend daily or not). We should spend time in adoration before the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus often, as able; whether before His exposed Presence, or before the tabernacle. It is from here that many graces flow to us, our families, and to the whole world; and we are prepared for receiving Him.
- –The Golden Thread which should flow throughout all of the above: and “seal the deal”; and draw us to a level of living our faith and communion with God as we never could on our own, — is Mary. Have we received this gift from Jesus wholeheartedly, when He said to us from the Cross, “Behold your Mother;” and, to Mary, “Behold your son (or daughter)” (Jn. 19:27)?
- —St. Francis spoke of Mary as “the Virgin made Church.” In other words, she and Mother Church are one. Hence, to remain in the full truth of Mother Church is to remain in the Immaculate Heart of Mary; because: there is “enmity between the woman and the serpent” (the spirit of the Antichrist), and she crushes his head (Gen. 3:15); She as the “New Eve”, with Jesus, the “New Adam,” wins the battle against the “Huge Red Dragon” (Rev. 12).
- — Key for us to realize in these times in which we are living, is that Noah’s Ark was a prefiguring of the womb of Mary’s Immaculate Heart and Holy Mother Church. We know what happened back then on the physical realm for those who didn’t enter the Ark; which should give us a good clue as to what is happening now on the spiritual realm for those who don’t enter it. This is confirmed by St. John Bosco’s vision of the Two Pillars of the Eucharist and Mary. Those who didn’t anchor on sank!
So we say to all, “All Aboard!…
The smoke of Satan has in fact entered the Church (cf. Pope St. Paul VI), but it will never enter the Church which is hidden and cradled within Mary’s Immaculate Heart, for She is the primary true prophetess of our times.
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm… A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.”(Rev 11:19-12:1)