Avoiding the Error of the Unprincipled
“No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.“ ~ L. Frank Baum
In today’s 1st Reading (2 Peter 3:12-15, 17-18) Saint Peter is downright apocalyptic, urging those in his midst to “wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames, and the elements melted by fire.” He goes on to speak of the new Heaven and the new Earth, a term that, to my knowledge, is only used elsewhere biblically in the Book of Revelation, the ultimate prophetic scriptural text. He urges them to be found without blemish on the day when his friend Jesus returns, to be “on guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled,” thus falling into instability and confusion. For Saint Peter, it was always about knowing and acknowledging the enemy, the relentless “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), he who is forever on the prowl for new souls to devour; he speaks of course about Satan.
It’s interesting that the church today would celebrate the Feast Day of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, 4th Century Martyrs of the Church. Marcellinus was a priest, Peter an exorcist. With regard to the latter’s treacherous occupation, I can’t help but think of the words of Michael Brown in his foreword to Father Dwight Longenecker’s provocative new book “Immortal Combat” when he asks “do those at the helm of Catholicism roam the hinterlands, commanding demons to leave the afflicted, as Jesus and his Apostles did?” He goes on to lament the fact that there would seem to be little to no instruction on matters pertaining to demonic manifestations; we instead rely on movies to explain such things. Spiritual warfare is rarely even contemplated much less addressed with the attention it so warrants. It would seem that there are more canon lawyers ~ substantially more ~ then there are exorcists in today’s Catholic Church, a troubling sign of the times for sure. Whenever I met someone who does not even believe in Satan’s existence, my concern for that individual immediately heightens. How can one win a battle which he or she does not ever know that they’re engaged in?
To indulge in the tragic “error of the unprincipled” that Peter warned of could have devastating consequences for the fate of our eternal soul. We must seek to constantly grow in knowledge, a gift of the Holy Spirit. To grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus, we must immerse ourselves in scripture, commit ourselves to the cultivation of a vibrant prayer life, and pursue the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that Jesus insists are a prerequisite to eternal life (Matthew 25:31-40).
It means reading a good spiritual book in favor of the latest hit novel every now and again. Or turning off cable news or Netflix to instead watch EWTN at least an hour or so every week. In a similar vein I am a huge proponent of Catholic Radio. As Saint John Paul II once said “if Saint Paul we’re alive today, he’d be evangelizing on Catholic Radio. Might I recommend AM1160 The Quest, a Catholic Radio Station near and dear to me. In addition to streaming it online https://thequestatlanta.com/ you can download the App and listen to The Quest no matter the time, the day or the location. Simply go to the App Store and search on “The Quest Atlanta.” There is no change for this amazing App; before you know it, you’ll be listening to the most prominent Catholic Voices on the scene today, growing in the spiritual gifts of wisdom and knowledge in the process. It means Eucharistic Adoration, again, at least one hour a week. Entering into the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, preferably every day.
The spiritual gift of knowledge opens the door to understanding, another coveted gift of the Holy Spirit. As Albert Einstein once said, ”Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” In this day and age, the ability to discern truth from trickery is more vital than ever. You can be assured there is always someone looking to promulgate more complex and diabolical methods with which to spread lies and deception https://www.forbes.com/sites/robtoews/2020/05/25/deepfakes-are-going-to-wreak-havoc-on-society-we-are-not-prepared/#2e5c664f7494
For the enlightened Catholic, tbe pursuit of knowledge is a never ending journey. Until we bask in the radiant splendor of Jesus’ face, we will never achieve a complete and total view of divine revelation. We know however that God freely and generously gives the Gifts of the Spirit to all those who pursue them. As is the case with every intimate and meaningful relationship, the joy is in the journey. Pursue knowledge of Jesus and knowledge of our faith with great zeal and joy.
For to quote Maya Angelou “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better”