I have, at times, been accused of being too strident on this blog. Those who do not like my robust defence of the Catholic faith, or my unswerving insistence that the Ordinariate is a game changer leaving Anglo-Catholics with only one viable long term option, tend to get annoyed with what I write. Those erring on the side of caution have sometimes suggested I should dampen my zeal and promote a more “live and let live” attitude. But today the Holy Father, Pope Francis, preached a wonderful sermon in which he rather suggests the opposite as he stated that it is better to be “annoying” and “a nuisance” than lukewarm in the faith!
“If we annoy people, blessed be the Lord,” said Pope Francis! “We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us all this apostolic fervor and to give us the grace to be annoying when things are too quiet in the Church,” He then chastised “those who are well mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to the Church through proclamation and apostolic zeal,”
Pope Francis then dwelt on the life of St. Paul noting how he often offended and irritated those who found the truth uncomfortable. “Paul, in preaching of the Lord, was a nuisance, but he had deep within him that most Christian of attitudes, apostolic zeal...He was not a man of compromise, no!” he exclaimed. “He is a man who, with his preaching, his work, his attitude irritates others, because testifying to Jesus Christ and the proclamation of Jesus Christ makes us uncomfortable. “It threatens our comfort zones, even Christian comfort zones, right?” he asked the congregation. “It irritates us.”
According to the Pope, St. Paul was a “fiery” individual who was always in trouble, “not in trouble for troubles’ sake, but for Jesus” because “proclaiming Jesus is the consequence.” “The Church has so much need of this, not only in distant lands, in the young churches, among people who do not know Jesus Christ, but here in the cities, in our cities, they need this proclamation of Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis stressed.
So there we have it. Passion can be a healthy thing and whilst charity and good manners are obviously important they must never trump our need to speak the truth boldly and proclaim the Lord with zeal. And where people are avoiding truth then we must be prepared to be annoying…it becomes a salvation issue.
Speaking of being annoying I have a sneaky feeling the Holy Father is going to prove a major irritant soon. For the Tabletistas of this world and the Western media, who would dearly love to see a liberalisation of the Catholic church (gay marriage, women priests and all that) have foolishly projected onto the new Pope their own agenda imagining his simple liturgical style stems from a fuzzy liberal heart. They are wrong, as sermons like this prove, and once they realise how firmly he stands by Catholic teaching then there will doubtless be much weeping and gnashing of teeth. How “annoying” he will prove. Just like his annoying predecessor who also proclaimed God’s truth. But meanwhile the faith of the ages will remain unchanged as Jesus promised it would when he assured us that the gates of hell cannot prevail…