In Philippians 4:8, St. Paul exhorts the disciples (of all times) to discern the ‘spirits’ of the world in the mind of Christ: ‘Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellency, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’
But, like so much of contemporary cafeteria Christianity, this verse has been pried from the following verse, and has been taken out of context to serve the popular false ideologies of our times. For the very next verse, from the very next breath of St. Paul, we hear: ‘What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do.’
The problem for the cafeteria Christian is their mash-potato mind.
Not long ago, people grew up in the faith. Families instilled Christian values handed down, centuries upon centuries, within the two millennial long Apostolic Tradition. People could discern the ‘spirits’ of the times through a mind, and a conscience, formed in Christ. But nowadays, children are raised by Hillary Clinton’s ‘village.’ Toddlers are brushed off to public pre-school to be indoctrinated in the secularized American value-system–or are sent to ‘Catholic’ schools which are anything but Catholic. And their parents are bombarded, minute to minute, by the hedonistic, materialistic, and individualistic pulses of a ‘city that never sleeps.’ Church is now only a Sunday thing. Listening to the Apostles is a bygone thing.
Yet, in order to put on the ‘mind of Christ’ we must stay within the bounds of His Apostles teaching.
Therefore, another obstacle to putting on the ‘mind of Christ’ is found in the popular lie that Apostolic faith is merely patriarchal, misogynistic, and out of touch with real people. Somehow, ‘Apostolic’ becomes solely Roman, solely ‘Curial,’ and solely male.
But Pope Benedict XVI explodes this lie, and reveals the necessity of every Christian participating in the discernment the ‘spirits’ of the contemporary world: ‘The whole church is involved in the process of assimilating what is genuinely rational and rejecting what is only superficially reasonable. It cannot be done by an isolated teaching authority, with oracular infallibility in every detail. The life and suffering of Christians, living out their faith in the midst of the times, is just as much a part of it as the reflections and questions of the scholars. Indeed, the latter is nothing but idle verbiage unless it is backed up by a Christian existence that has learned to discern the spirits in the ‘Passion’ of everyday life. The faith experience of the whole church and the research and questioning, in faith, on the part of scholars represent two factors; a third factor is the watchful attention, listening, and deciding undertaken by the teaching authority.’
In other words, Christians, like us, cannot simply rely on our own interpretation of truth. We do, however, have an essential part to play, with help from theologians–who need our practical experience to ground their ethereal tendencies–and the Apostolic Teaching Authority of the Church, in discerning the ‘spirits’ of America in 2015. Therefore, we must, first, refresh our souls, renew our minds, and fill our hearts, with the Truth of God’s Mercy in the orthodoxy of Revelation within Christ’s Church. Then, with assistance from the research of scholars, we must enter into the world and discern the ‘spirits’ of contemporary America.
We must seek what is good, true, and beautiful in Christ. We must avoid the rest. For the winning formula of faith is: Trust in the Holy Spirit, within the safeguard of the Apostolic Truth.