Let us reform instead of complain


The temptation to be pessimistic is a strong one given the time in history in which we live. It is often easy to believe that no other time in history had as many struggles or as much confusion as our own. I guess it is the old saying about the grass looking greener on the other side.

In the history of the Church there have been many heroic figures and reformers. I can’t speak about all of them in one post, but let’s just look at some of them.

At the time of the Lateran Council the Church was in crisis. The liturgy was in disarray, Monastic communities were being controlled by the regents. The secular clergy had very poor training in theology and ministry. The laity was struggling to free themselves from the oppression of the feudal system. Religion played a small part of their daily lives. Let’s not forget the heretics of the time.

At the time, there arose Francis of Assisi who began one of the most powerful reforms of the Church in history. What made Francis an attractive reformer was not pessimism or constant complaining about everything he saw wrong in the Church. On the contrary, men and women from all ranks were attracted to Francis’ reform because of his positive view of the Church. He believed that the Church was guided by the Holy Spirit. He believed that God loved humanity. He saw God’s on-going work in the world through creation. He encouraged men and women to change the way the lived and to embrace a life of penance and on-going conversion. The call to poverty was not only a call to detach from material things, but also a call to detach from one’s own desire to control the Church and others. It was recognition that all of us are the lowest of creatures because we are sinners. Poverty was a call to practice the obedience of Christ, without murmuring and resentment, but with love and trust in Divine Mercy.

During the Spanish Renaissance there arose Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Both were aware that the Church was in crisis. No other institution showed the crisis more than the religious communities of the time. Once again, it was love and obedience that led the great Carmelite Reform, not CAVE Catholicism, Complain About Virtually Everything.

Teresa and John were practical, realists and obedient. They put on the table a plan to reform the Carmelite famiy and through that reform they would reform every heart and mind who came in contact with the Carmelites. They would offer their lives as a gift to the Lord and seek union with the Lord. They would be the light that shines in the darkness and proclaim to the world that the Christ is present, even in the midst of crisis and heresy.

Through their writings and their example John and Teresa proclaim to the world the holiness of the Chruch that can often be obscured by tragedies such as heresies, political conflicts and man’s search for autonomy from God. Despite every trial that the Church was suffering, Teresa and John saw her beauty and promoted a quiet obedience. Their reform was not without the blessing of the Church. Teresa often struggled to get the proper licenses to establish her discalced monasteries. But the example that she offers us is obedience. Even though she was convinced that the reform came from Christ, she would not act on it without the authority of the Church. She never lost her faith in the papacy, the reigning pope, the bishops or the leadership of the Church. She submitted to the leadership of ther Carmelite Order, which was in crisis. Nonetheless, it was the legitimate voice of Christ for every Carmelite. It was the voice of Christ that Teresa heard, while setting aside the human weakness of those whom Christ used to speak to her.

Later we have Msgr Escriva founder of the Opus Dei. He too was a reformer in our time. Once again we see a Church that is in crisis and a world that is torn apart by political ideologies and wars. Again we see a real reformer who believes in the Church, the reigning pope and the people of God. He takes a very positive attitude. He does not critizise or complains. On the contrary, he puts on the table a postive plan and leads others to reform the Church by reforming their lives.

He shows us how our work and the occasions of daily life are a means for spreading the Gospel and sanctifying every human endeavor. He does not challenge changes in the Church. He accepts, in good faith, that the Church is undergoing a transition from one paradigm to another, but her soul and the truths that subsist within her remain untouched.

Today, thanks to the vision of Msgr. Escriva, we have military men and women who go into battle field in defense of their country and while they are there, they also sneak food, water, medicine and other necessary items to the innocent victims caught in the crossfire. Like Christ, they go among those memers of society that most Catholics don’t even known they exist and they work for the transformation of human life from victim to the dignity of the sons and daughters of the Father. They do not complain about the Church, the liturgy, the number of annulments or the lack of priestly vocations. They act, they work, and they turn every thing they do into the work of God, the Opus Dei.

In their daily lives they consecrate themselves to promote the intentions of the Pope and to engage in whatever ministry that the Pope is working on. It can be ecumenism, liturgical reform, the poor, the pro-life movement.

In our daily lives it can be easy to become critics instead of reformers. I wonder how many of us see ourselves as positive reformers who love the Church, who obey the Pope and who act pointing to the possibilities rather than to the negatives.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


My dear friend

Never was a truer word spoken. You have picked out all of my favourite saints nearly. Wonderful saints.

God bless and peace to you:thumbsup::slight_smile:


One of the tendencies that I see on CAF is to spin a topic to death, for example the liturgy. I don’t mean to imply that it is not important.

What I do mean to suggest is that we take a more spiritual approach, as did the great reformers in the Church. They did not waste time with criticism and complaints. They were very pro-active. They identified an area that needed attention and they put proposals on the table and lived by those, without ever saying a single negative word against the Church, her leaders or even their own peers.

The sign of a holy reformer is humility. They made mistakes and their mistakes were corrected by those who followed, but at least they put a proposal on the table and encouraged others to follow along. They did nothing to discourage the faith that people placed in the Church or the trust that people placed in the Church’s leadership.

On the contrary, they shared what the Spirit revealed to them always in the form of questions. I love Teresa of Avila. Everything that the Holy Spirit revealed to her, she turned it into a question that she took to her confessors and spiritual directors to make sure that she understood the voice of God correctly. She entrusted herself to the very Church that Christ called her to reform.

Francis went to the Pope with his questions and later to Cardinal Hugolino, who would later be elected Pope Gregory IX and canonize him. It was always a question, never a condemnation or a critique. The humility of these reformers should be our rule of life. They never believed that they were right and the Church was wrong. They only believed that God was calling them and that they had to respond. They depended on the Church to approve of their response.

Msgr. Escriva also believed that God had called the laity to work and to transform their work into evangelization. The role of the laity was not to take on the Pope or the leadership of the Church, but to reform society with the intensity of love for God and for neighbor.


JR :slight_smile:


My dear friend

I agree with you. I don’t know where I’ll end up. I’m very restless often. I want to change the whole world but am busy just trying to change myself. I pray the Holy Spitit to help me because I know He is omnipotent and can take a sea gull and convert the world with it.

I’m just so restless. It must be a sign I’m meant to do something?

God bless you and peace to you:thumbsup::slight_smile:


Restlessness can be a sign that one needs to do something or that one needs to learn the art of quiet contemplation. Part of the problem of the modern world is that we are too restless. We want to be in constant action. We want to respond to every situation without any type of balance. There is a sense of urgency to modern man that the mystics and the great saints did not have. They trusted that the Lord was the end of all things and they worked and moved in his time and spirit.

The first step of reform is inactivity. One has to step back and contemplate what one wants to reform and see it as God sees it, want for it what God wants for it, and go about transforming it with God’s help.

A common problem with some of the reforms that were implemented by many after Vatican II was the sense of urgency and the lack of contemplation. You can’t reform something and expect it to bear good fruit without proper prayer, silence and inspiration from the Church.


JR :slight_smile:


"Let us reform instread of complain"
Lord let it be so.


I’m sure the Lord will allow it. It’s up to us to do it. As I said before, the saints never reformed by whining or condemning, but through obedience to the Holy Spirit and the authority of the Church.


JR :slight_smile:


Absolutely :slight_smile: that was a prayer, an “Amen”, not a cop-out! :smiley:
God bless you for your thoughtful reponses to the Lord’s inspirations and for sharing them generously with us.


Absolutely :slight_smile: that was a prayer, an “Amen”, not a cop-out!
God bless you for your thoughtful responses to the Lord’s inspirations and for sharing them generously with us.


I wish I could do more. I just came from another thread where there was nothing but complaining and finger pointing. The problem was that all the finger pointing solved nothing. The worse of it was that none of it was based on good theology. It was all personal opinion labeled theology.

We must always make clear our personal opinions and theology. To present one as the other is ingenuous. Reform begins with simplicity and honesty.


JR :slight_smile:


Thank you for these posts. :heart: :slight_smile: :D:p

An issue I have is that it is so hard not to lose hope. You look through the history of man and as soon as one reform comes another issue ensues. Slavery, the Holocaust, and the civil rights struggles, and colonialism ended. Then came religious war (America, Israel, Middle East, Sudan), abortion, gay marriage, contraception, STDs, communism, embryonic stem cell research, etc. It seems that after these are solved or even now may come the threat of nuclear war. Mother Teresa said, “the fruit of abortion is nuclear war. What you to do the unborn child, you do to Jesus.” Maybe we can keep on persisting because every action we do brings the reign of Christ again closer or persisting in the face of suffering/lack of progress is love (and Mother Teresa said “we will be judged on how much we have loved” but is that correct? Is there more reason to hope?


OK, let us reform.
How should we go about it ?


I want to make a proposal.
Let us start a new community.
No tv, no radio, no computer, no books, no wrist watch, no nothing.
Just a mattress on the floor.
Just one Bible and one Catechism.
No fancy clothes.
We go and eat at the free canteen with the tramps and we proclaim the Gospel.


Amen! And let us not forget that reform begins in the reformers themselves :slight_smile:


Someone beat you to it. There is a new branch of the Franciscan family called the Franciscan Friars of the Primitive Observance (FPO). They are in the Diocese of Fall River and San Salvador, El Salvador. They are growing.

Their ministry is to be present among the poorest of the poor and live a life of brotherhood.

There is another branch of the Franciscan family that leads the same way that you have described above, The Little Brothers of St. Francis. They have several fraternities in the Archdiocese of Boston. They beg for their food from house to house. When they can’t get food, they go to the local soup kitchen.

The difference between these communities and your proposal is that they do not consider our brothers and sisters “tramps”. They consider them to be the crucified Christ Incarnate, as he appears in the Gospel during the passion. Their goal is to live the passion of Christ as St. Francis lived it.

You can join them, if you are up to the challenge. They are beautiful communities.


JR :slight_smile:


Our holy father Francis, our holy mother Clare, Teresa of Avila, Bernard of Clariveaux, Bruno and other great Catholic reformers, were not concerned with the reformers. They were concerned with reforming their own lives and they invited others to join them.

For example, St. Francis attended the Lateran Council and worked on the reforms of the Lateran Council along with the Cardinals and other reformers, such as Dominic. But neither he nor Dominic ever gave a second thought to the Council Fathers and their mistakes. On the contrary, both of them submitted their wills to the Council Fathers even in those things that they disagreed with or that they felt were inconsistent with the Gospel or Sacred Tradition, as long as it was not sin.

This is the true spirit of reform, to want to love God who is love. To love man as God loves man. To possess God who gives himself to be possessed by man. God and man were at the center of their reform, not the mistakes of the Church or the Council Fathers.


JR :slight_smile:


I apologize for the word “tramps”.
I didn’t mean to offend anyone.
I just used one quick word .
I usually call them “homeless”


Dear JR,

I would love to die a Franciscan.
Do you think I would be able to get a stay permit from the US government if one day I decided to join the friars?


Can you give me some examples of things “inconsistent with the Gospel or Sacred Tradition”, yet also “not sin”?

And can you point me to the references you have that authoritatively reveal the thoughts and motivations of these two saints? Or did you mean to say, “I think that”, or “In my opinion,” or something like that?

Thank you. I’m very concerned for reform, as you are, so I am interested in this thread and these issues. I need to read what you have written again, and more carefully, but these things that I ask may be a way to begin.



Thank you for clarifying my point :slight_smile:

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