“Lord, grant me a holy heart that sees always
what is fine and pure and is not frightened
at the sight of sin but creates order wherever it goes.
Grant me a heart that knows nothing of boredom, weeping, or sighing.
Let me not be too concerned with the bothersome thing I call myself.
Lord, give me a sense of humor,
and I will find happiness in life and profit for others.”
—Saint Thomas More
The I.D. 9:16 Men’s group started a video series on formed.org called True Reformers. It is a video series that brings you closer to understanding 6 saints that were alive near or during the time of the reformation. It is a great video series and our conversations followed very closely to the suggested answers to the discussion questions (see below)
SUGGESTED ANSWERS TAKEN FROM THE TRUE REFORMERS STUDY GUIDE
1. How would you respond to someone who says that the Church will become more relevant in society if she de-emphasizes, or even changes those teachings that conflict with secular progressive values?
Saint Toribio once said, “Christ said, ‘I am the Truth’; he did not say ‘I am the custom.’” Church teachings are not determined by the customs, ideologies, or trends of the day; they follow the truth that has been revealed by Jesus Christ and lead to him, who is Truth [cf. John 14:6], and this truth sets man
free [cf. John 8:32]. In relating to one another, the Church must change the world, not the world change the Church (cf. James 4:4). The Church exists to evangelize, to speak the truth to the world—this is her “essential mission” [Evangelii Nuntiandi 14]. The Church exists in order to preach and teach the truth
in the world, to guide the world into right living.
2. How could you help an Evangelical Protestant understand the role of the saints in our lives when they believe that the Bible strictly forbids any form of communication with the dead?
Catholics and Protestants alike pray for their family, friends, and others and ask others to pray for them as well. Asking for prayers is a biblical tradition; Saint Paul frequently asks for the intercessions of others in his letters [cf. Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:3].
Prayers to the saints are not acts of worship to them; they are prayers of intercession. Some Protestants may argue that the dead cannot hear our prayers, but in Revelation 5:8, Saint John depicts the saints in Heaven offering our prayers to God. This passage shows that the saints are aware of our prayers, meaning they can hear us. Some may argue that prayers to the saints are in vain since they are dead and cannot hear us. Jesus proclaimed that God is “not God of the dead, but of the living,” and this same God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—all three who had died an earthly death [Matthew 22:32]. The saints and the deceased are still alive in the afterlife, and we enjoy communion with them: “‘We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers’ [Paul VI, CPG § 30]” [CCC 962].
3. If you were to develop a personal mission statement aimed at becoming the person God
desires you to be, what would be your goals and your plan to achieve them?
H – Holy Hour [commitment to daily, personal prayer]
A – Accountable Friendships [commitment to honest sharing and encouragement]
B – Bible [commitment to regularly reading, studying, and praying with Scripture]
I – Invest in Your Parish [commitment to tithing and serving in the parish]
T – Tell [commitment to share your faith in Jesus Christ with others]
S – Sacraments [commitment to frequent reception of Reconciliation and Eucharist]
We should all seek to grow in our personal vocations and strive to be the best spouse, father,
mother, priest, or religious we can be
4. Why would Saint Thomas More consider Luther’s teaching on human freedom and
salvation “the very worst and most harmful heresy that was ever thought up”?
If the human will and actions have no impact on man’s salvation, then salvation relies entirely upon the decision of God, and God chooses who is saved and who is damned based off of nothing but his will. Luther’s teaching leads to double predestination—the heavenly Father predestines some for Heaven and predestines some for Hell. The Bible tells us that in the plan of salvation, God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” [2 Peter 3:9].
God wills all souls to be saved, but individuals must choose to be united to God’s will. Saint Augustine once said, “God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us” [Sermo 169,11,13:PL 38,923], and the Catechism teaches that when God “establishes his eternal plan of ‘predestination,’ he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace” [CCC 600]. Thinking that God chooses people for Hell undermines his goodness and man’s free will. God
would be truly unjust if he predestined men for Hell, and man contributed nothing to deserve such a fate.
5. With the Catholic Church’s commitment to justice and the common good, why does the Church oppose those forms of socialism that seek to abolish the private ownership of property?
The common good can be defined as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” [Gaudium et Spes 26]. Furthermore, the Catechism teaches that “the common good is always oriented towards the progress of persons” [CCC 1912]. Organizations, institutions, and societies all work in order to better the condition of the human person. Man does not participate in
society in order to progress a specific ideology or system. Society as a whole ought to serve the human good of each individual. The furthering of human dignity is key to a well-functioning society: “a system that ‘subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective
organization of production’ is contrary to human dignity” [CCC 2424]. The “public welfare” cannot infringe upon the dignity and rights of an individual. Economies and political orders are for the betterment of man, not vice versa. The socialism lived out in Utopia goes against the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which “is
opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order” [CCC 1885]. By abolishing private goods, collectivist regimes undermine the integrity and freedom of individuals.
6. A host of reputable studies demonstrate that a father is essential to the healthy development and total well-being of his children. And yet, from pop culture to the media, it would seem our nation places little value on the role of fathers. Why do you think this is the case and what can be done to empower fathers?
Saint John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio: “The Christian family, in fact, is the first community called to announce the Gospel to the human person during growth and to bring him or her, through a progressive education and catechesis, to full human and Christian maturity” . It is no wonder the family is under such attack. Satan knows he can destroy the family if he can remove the father from the family. As a counter-attack, the Church needs to help fathers understand the research on how significant their impact is on the healthy development of their children. Their presence, affection, affirmation, and leadership bring the security needed for children to thrive. On the other hand, a father’s absence, either physically or emotionally, breeds insecurity. This is especially acute with adolescents. If fundamental emotional and psychological needs are not being met, teenagers are not motivated to meet higher growth needs like studying their Faith and committing their lives to it. Launching a men’s movement in the parish that focuses on becoming better husbands and fathers is one way to empower fathers. Equipping fathers with resources to lead their families in faith formation in the home is another. Finally, small groups for men help them open up and receive support and encouragement. Men can bring the best out of one another as Proverbs 27:17 asserts: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”