The Tenet of Freedom of Expression
Let us all put on the armour of Christ’s freedom of thought and expression in our lives: mind, heart and soul.
This liberty goes hand in hand with freedom of thought. If these two freedoms are not responsibly and freely exercised the branch of Christ in that person will not bear fruit. The result will be what the French call “La mort de l’ame” (the death of the soul) or as we English say “Iron will enter the soul”. We are speaking of the very power at the heart of life. Christ does not expect us all to believe and attend church. Yet He does say great or small, erudite or less well educated, we should not, in whatever sphere of life we live, sacrifice all our freedoms of speech, thought and the written word. No one is more important than another in the eyes of Christ and His Father. Thus each individual is called to exercise this fundamental right to express himself in his or her life. We are debating the purpose of mankind’s very existence to serve God by speaking the truth when the cue comes. God the Father does wish us to rise to this challenge when the crunch happens. Only we may judge the moment to speak up and what to say. Yet the Holy Spirit will prompt us if we allow Him to do so.
2. Catholicism Presently
We must have power given to us in life. We may not generate our own intensity. It is the three main religions who are the engine rooms for freedom of thought and expression namely Islam, Christianity and the Jewish religion. How does Roman Catholicism fit into this set up? I say Catholicism carries the cross of Jesus and is the pivot for the other two religions and non-Catholic Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church has been a little dormant since the time of Pius XII and Paul VI. I sense a certain feeling of being abashed and reluctance to come forward with pure Roman Catholicism.
Why? Mainly a desire to be like her neighbours and to assimilate modern trends. She has been somewhat ashamed of her own past history and unprepared to enter dialogue on some of these Popes of yesteryear and their teachings: For example – Pio Nono and the First Vatican Council with its enunciation of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility 1870-71. Secondly, Pope Leo and his brave denunciation of the validity of Anglican Orders, which is strongly challenged in some quarters. Thirdly the devout Pius X who introduced First Holy Communion for children at 7-8 years as opposed to several years older as it used to be done: Sarto’s brand of Catholicism was out of tune with modern thinkers then and remains so today. Also the received wisdom is Catholicism was misguided by the Pope into excessive crusading zeal to the Holy Land against the Saracens in the late middles ages. Even the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, beatified by Paul VI, are not treated with the respect they deserve.
Is Paul VI out of tune with 21st Century Catholics? These Forty Martyrs appear to have been taken for granted. Their deeds and philosophy go unexamined, unexplained and misunderstood. Their seminal contribution to Catholicism is not debated. No one seriously considers how their lives and words impact on modern Catholicism yet English Catholicism is impoverished without them and their sacrifice. Martyrdom has become an embarrassment even to Catholics themselves. The new orthodoxy is to shun these Forty Martyrs. Modern martyrdom is seen as psychologically dysfunctional. The same is thought of the Forty Martyrs and their lives. This consensus view spreads across English Church Christianity and society generally, including psychiatry. I say take note that consensus conclusion could not be more gravely mistaken.
The pre-Vatican II strict attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to Anglicanism and non-Catholics generally is now frowned upon. In those days Catholicism adhered more religiously to her dogmas, beliefs and practices. She did not weaken by making herself appear as all things to all men. It now appears the non-Catho0lics have won the day and the pure Roman Catholic voice is muted, may be silenced even. Within modern Catholicism this current critique of old Catholicism has prevailed. Catholics are not what they were in the expression of their faith in the 1950’s and before.
3. The working of Modern Catholicism as shown in the Holy Masses
I argue without fully sincere Catholicism and thus a functioning Roman Catholic Church properly driven forward, you will never attain this stated quality of freedom of expression all over the globe. Christ supports the whole of mankind through the Roman Catholic Church and above all by the Holy and Living sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the mass on the Altars of our Catholic Church. By no means everyone receives Holy Communion but every man, woman and child on earth derives spiritual sustenance from these Masses, primarily in their exercise of freedom of thought and expression in their lives. There can be no going back on this Holy Sacrifice of the Altar in our church.
If, for example, this mass is offered timidly or half-heartedly it will remain and endure as the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the Altar but the celebrant Priest himself will not personally radiate the grace he should, as he will not truly believe in what he is doing on the Altar. The lay Communicants and the celebrant Priest will receive the perfectly valid Holy Communion by this Priest nevertheless. These communicants should approach the sacrament in the correct frame of mind and the right spirit. That lay communicant will lessen the transforming power of the sacrament in his soul if he is inward looking in his egoism. Our attitude of mind in approaching this sacrament and our post communion is of the essence. We all grow in faith by attending Mass, whether or not we receive Holy Communion and the same applies to the celebrating Priest, who naturally receives the host. Growth in faith is at the heart of Freedom of thought and expression. Thought is always developing and expression keeps up for Priest and laity in their written and spoken words.
The Pope and his Bishops and Priests lead us as Pius XII did in World War II singlehandedly. Our religious leaders are crucial as they lead us into spiritual captivity or freedom. The Old Testament recounts the history of the Jewish nation lead into captivity, then back to freedom for our elucidation and finally to freedom in modern Israel. The Roman Catholic Church cannot function half cock and I perceive some of the current Priestly cadre and leadership are a little wanting in utterly sincere and committed belief to the power and essence of the sacrifice of the Mass. The laity have their ministry and my words may not make pleasant reading for certain Priests or lay persons who work with Priests of our Catholic Church. I certainly do not take aim at any Priests however. Some say I should not judge, yet I am 61 years old and a lifelong Catholic. I say I may speak out therefore. All I say is said in the deepest spirit of fraternal charity. I am writing of the invisible, the unseen world and what I have written will be read not only in the seen world but also the unseen. No one can read the secrets of a man’s heart, save Christ Himself. Let Heaven be the judge of us all. She will not let us go undefended. I come not to condemn but to assert the goodness of the Priesthood at first hand.
4. Catholicism and the future of expression
This is the most important feature. We must all work together in Catholicism to drive our Church forward and thereby express this ultimate freedom to speak, which springs directly from the offering of the Holy and Living Sacrifice of the Mass. This Sacrifice of Mass, instituted by Christ before he died at the Last Supper, was His final binding private statement of freedom, destined and designed to become the most definitive and powerful expression of liberty the world will ever know and enjoy. Christ does not let us down from the first Sacrifice at the Last Supper. He our High Priest now and forever. It all comes back to the Sacrifice of Holy Mass properly, honestly, charitably, sincerely offered, believed and understood, without qualification nor restraint nor inhibition. Then the freedom promised by Christ will reign in our hearts and souls. It will take an act of Faith by each of us and nothing less. The Mass and Holy Communion through Jesus in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar pervade every single part of our lives and properly so. Holy Communion, the greatest drama in man and woman on earth, is the never failing result of Holy Mass. The priests have the most difficult task of all in offering up Holy Mass.
The whole purpose of expression is to persuade on the minor spectrum and grand stage. There can be no higher calling to rhetoric than the profession of Advocacy in our Courts of Law. If the fruits of free and sincere expression are denied and proper and correct polemic is rejected without just cause the legal process will suffer grievously. Even in the literary, social and political fields the same rule applies. True persuasive force must be acceded to. Man cannot live without expressing himself. Without persuasion truly understood and met with Justice society will grind to a halt. Man will go underground to defend his right to express and to persuade: e.g. The modern Chinese undercover Roman Catholic Church and secondly the late 16th Century Roman Catholicism in Elizabethan England and Wales and our early 17th Century Stuart Roman Catholicism. Denial of expression is a form of imprisonment like it or not and it is never self-imposed
You cannot directly contrast one age or nation state to another in these religious matters of freedom. Each epoch has its own challenges and each country’s generation must formulate its own response. Freedom should not be separated from belief in God the One Almighty Father. But as I have written that does not mean each man must be an obedient believer in Catholicism or one of the other two main religions. Yet Catholicism and the other two religions feed off each other in the best sense. The lead religion is Roman Catholicism on account of her daily offering of the Holy Mass which is the living sacrifice of Christ Himself on the Altar yet not an exact replication in terms of His physical suffering on the Cross at the very end of His life on Earth, 2000 years ago. As He said to Saint Thomas the Apostle after His Resurrection: “Blessed are those who do not see yet believe”.