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The Church in the Year 3000

Tim Staples

Audio only:

We meet Tim Staples in the year 3,000 to ask what has changed in the Church and what has stayed the same? Could there be new sacraments? How much could the ones we have now change? And what will be the Catholic response to technology beyond our current imagination?


Cy Kellett:
We now interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcasts to bring you this trip into the future, into the year 3000 with Tim Staples. Hello, and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus, the time traveling podcast for living, understanding, and defending your Catholic faith. I am Cy Kellett, your cruise director for this trip into the future. Thank you for joining us. Why are we taking this trip into the future? Because we want to know which elements of the faith are permanent and unchanging, and which might in fact change in the future. Tim Staples will be your guide into this trip into the future of the church, please buckle up and prepare yourself now to leave for the year 3000.

And don’t forget to subscribe to Focus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen, so that you will be notified before the ship leaves any time we are traveling through time or space. And please, leave us that five star rating or review, it’s very important for the historians of the future to be able to look back and know which podcasts are worth listening to. The ship is leaving now, prepare yourselves, buckle up, we’re going to the year 3000 with Tim Staples.

I want to ask you about what the church will be like in the year 3000 because remarkably, we can actually know a good deal. I mean, we can’t know that the year 3000 will come, but if it does come, we’ll just put that out there. We can know… And part of the reason I want to ask you about this has to do with the fact that I think people feel like so much is changing. There’s this kind of anxiety about the change in the church. But if we have faith and believe in the promises of Jesus, some stuff is not going to change. So-

Tim Staples:
That’s right.

Cy Kellett:
…. just for an example… I mean, when you think about it, 1000 years from now, the church was doing what she’s doing now in the year 1020, 1000 years ago-

Tim Staples:
That’s right.

Cy Kellett:
… and she’ll still be doing that same thing.

Tim Staples:
Yes.

Cy Kellett:
But she’s also very different than she was in the year 1020. So, it’s a weird combination of change and timelessness.

Tim Staples:
It is.

Cy Kellett:
So, for example, is it possible that we might have more or fewer sacraments in the year 3000? Maybe something else that we don’t treat as a sacrament now will become a sacrament.

Tim Staples:
And this is really an important question, it’s a wonderful question, it’s a wondrous question, and it breeds excitement in my mind, because I will tell you, one of the things… As you know, we converts say it all the time, but one of the things that really attracted me to the Catholic Church was St. Paul’s prophetic words in Ephesians 4:5, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Right?

Cy Kellett:
Yes.

Tim Staples:
That’s what St. Paul says is the essence, the core, the nature of the church, the proclamation of one Lord, one faith, one baptism. And I as a Protestant, we couldn’t agree on the nature of baptism-

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, right.

Tim Staples:
We couldn’t agree on one Lord, we couldn’t agree on the nature of the Blessed Trinity. We had disagreements, is the second person of Blessed Trinity the Eternal Word who became the Son, or is He the Eternal Son? I kid you not, these were disagreements in Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity. So, we couldn’t agree on one Lord, one faith, [inaudible 00:03:38] the nature of faith, what does faith mean? Think about Luther. Luther taught such a radical view of the nature of faith, he ended up destroying faith in the process. Because he taught that faith is absolutely passive, right?

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Tim Staples:
You and I, our wills… And this can’t be stressed enough. Most Lutherans that you talk to today don’t agree with Luther on this. I talked with a Lutheran pastor who said, “Luther didn’t say that.” And I said, “Are you kidding me? It’s the whole thesis of bondage of the will.” Is that our wills are entirely passive. We are like a beast. If God gets on our back and rides us, He’ll ride us to heaven. If the devil gets on our back and rides us, he’ll ride us to hell. But the beast has no choice as to who rides him. Faith is absolutely passively received, there’s no active cooperation whatsoever. Well, guess what? That’s not faith, right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, that’s something else. Yeah, you’re right.

Tim Staples:
Because faith is a virtue. Faith is a theological virtue. Yes, it’s a gift, but it’s also an act, it’s a human act. And so, you destroy faith, you destroy religion. Religion doesn’t exist in that scenario, why? Because religion is a virtue. It’s something you do. It’s something received, and it’s… We’ll dovetail to what we’re talking about here because it’s a gift that we have received. Cy Kellet didn’t create the Catholic religion, neither did Tim Staples.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Tim Staples:
It is a gift, but it’s also a virtue, in that we must act. This is why St. James would famously say, “This is true religion, pure and undefiled, to visit widows and orphans, to keep oneself unspotted from the world. But if anyone does not bridle his tongue, let him know his religion is in vain.” So, I mean, [inaudible 00:05:28] what we do as well as what we’ve received. So, why do I say this? Because Luther destroyed faith, he destroyed religion. You have massive disagreements to this day among Protestants as to what faith even means, what is faith? Between Calvins, and Lutherans, and Pentecostals, and Evangelicals, and so.

So, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, are you kidding me, one baptism? [inaudible 00:05:52] baptized in the name of Jesus, in the name of the Lord, in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, do you dunk, do you pour, do you squirt? What do you do? Right? So, it was extremely attractive to me when I saw in my own study of Catholic history how that… Yes, you did in 1000 years ago have the same one Lord, one faith, one baptism-

Cy Kellett:
Yes.

Tim Staples:
And to answer your question, nope, not eight sacraments, not nine, never will be. As the Council of Trent says, “The seven sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ.” There’s never been 400 sacraments, as you hear some people say. I mean, the term sacrament was used in different ways by different people, but when we’re talking about the sacraments, which are the ordinary means of our sanctification and salvation, seven, never eight, never nine. In the year 3000, they’ll be talking about the same seven sacraments, and that is extremely attractive, that unity. The unity of the faith is something that I believe attracts more of our separated brethren than perhaps any other truth of our Catholic faith, and any other reality.

Because when you’ve come from such chaos and confusion, it’s like, “Wow, could this even be possible? Wow, it is.” But at the same time, the other aspect of your question though, things change, and thanks be to God things change. Because in the church, of course, as the church grows, Jesus tells us the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, it begins as the smallest… Of course, He’s speaking hyperbole there, the smallest of all seeds, and grows into this enormous… And when you look at the full grown mustard plant, and then you look at the seed, it’s like, “That came from that?”

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Tim Staples:
“Wow.” If I was a Jupiterian… Or what did we say? No, it wouldn’t be Jupiterian. What would it be? A-

Cy Kellett:
A Jovian?

Tim Staples:
Jovian.

Cy Kellett:
Yes, someone from Jupiter would be a Jovian.

Tim Staples:
A Jovian, yes. I might look and say, “No, there’s no way that came from that.” And so, even though it is true we have this continuity, there is also change that on the surface can look like, “Wow, well, wait a minute, your theory gets blown to smithereens here because look at the differences among Catholics?”

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Tim Staples:
I mean, we have eight major rites, we have 22 churches. And if you go to mass in a Byzantine Rite, or a Maronite Rite, where it’s in Aramaic, and you go to an ordinary form Latin Rite mass, they look very, very different. Now, there’s a core, of course. There’s the Eucharistic prayer and such, there is a core. But it’s also very different. And isn’t that beautiful in this sense? We’re not all the same, Cy.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Tim Staples:
We have different cultures. And this is another beautiful thing about the church, is that the church when she evangelizes, she doesn’t just go and remain outside of a culture and just preach to them and say, “Now, you need to change everything, and such.”

Cy Kellett:
No. Right.

Tim Staples:
But the church sends missionaries. One of the reasons why the Catholic Church is more successful than any other Christian body by… I hate referring to us as a Christian body, we are the church, but you know what I’m saying. Is because often, that’s the way it is. In Pentecostal circles, Evangelical circles, they go and they create little American Evangelical communities, right? And they were American-like clothes, and they all-

Cy Kellett:
Right. So, you got to give up who you are to become one of us. [crosstalk 00:09:54].

Tim Staples:
Exactly. Whereas in the Catholic Church, the Blessed Mother, when she appears, she appears as an Indian woman, she appears as a Japanese woman. And our priests and our missionaries go and live with the people, at times, die with the people, right?

Cy Kellett:
Right. Yeah.

Tim Staples:
It’s even what the Hawaii priest did.

Cy Kellett:
Oh, Damien of Molokai.

Tim Staples:
[inaudible 00:10:20] Oh, my gosh, how could I forget Damien of Molokai? I mean, that is the ultimate example of inculturation, the idea of we go, we live. And then, what happens is so beautiful because, the gospel is planted as a seed, the kingdom begins to grow, but it takes on the good that is found in the particular cultures. And so, we don’t ask people to give up everything, not what is good. You got to give up the bad stuff. Okay, Mayans, Aztecs, no more eating people.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Tim Staples:
At least eating their hearts, that’s bad. I mean-

Cy Kellett:
Or if it’s certain places, no more plural marriage. You have to move on from that, you got to let go of that.

Tim Staples:
And then, recent history, very recent, in the 20th century even, in 19th, 20th centuries, in Africa, you had those situations, where we evangelized tribes that practiced polygamy, and you had to make the hard… Guess what? You got to pick one.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, right.

Tim Staples:
And you can’t have… And imagine this too, though, you got to take care of the rest of them. [crosstalk 00:11:34].

Cy Kellett:
Oh, that was part of the deal? Oh, I wouldn’t have thought of that. But that makes sense, especially if you fathered children, you have heavy responsibilities there.

Tim Staples:
Yes. You were responsible to take care of them until they could take care of themselves, or if they got married by someone else. So, that was a hard message for these folks, right? If you have 10 wives, let’s say, five wives, whoo. So, yes, the bottom line is, the beauty of the Catholic Church that we see in the Gospel, the idea of the seed growing, transforming, yes, it’s going to look different, but at the same time, that continuity. Like we said, “Are there going to be eight sacraments 1000 years from now?” No, that is something the Council of Trent said is solidified. And so, there’s security in the midst of this beauty of diversity, you have the security of that which is unchanging.

Cy Kellett:
So, what about things like the political situation of the world in the year 3000? For example, could the church accommodate itself to, I don’t know… 1000 years is so long, that when you consider what government was like 1000 years ago, and you consider government today, or economic [inaudible 00:12:51], it could be very, very different in the year 3000.

Tim Staples:
Oh, my goodness.

Cy Kellett:
And so, can I say, I don’t know… I mean, one possibility is, okay, you go back to aristocracy, or you go back to-

Tim Staples:
Monarchy.

Cy Kellett:
… kings, or that kind of thing. Or another possibility is, you have some kind of radical democracy where people vote every day via the internet, or some future internet. Can the church fit into all of those?

Tim Staples:
Absolutely.

Cy Kellett:
You’d say so, okay.

Tim Staples:
Absolutely. The church… And of course, it’s the infinite wisdom of our Savior who happens to be God, Jesus Christ who established the church. In His infinite wisdom, said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were so, my servants would fight.” So, what Jesus did, is he didn’t establish a political system that was intended to put the whole world under one political government, rather, he instituted one church, which would be a spiritual community that was called to… I don’t want to say infect, but to be leaven, right? To be leaven to get into the middle of the lump and transform the various communities of the world from the inside out, so that the Catholic Church can thrive in virtually any form of government, unless you’re talking about something that’s intrinsically immoral.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Tim Staples:
If you had a government that was by nature intrinsically immoral and demanding intrinsically… There comes to be a point where we can say we can no longer function in this. And there is a time for the encouraging of revolt. From a Catholic perspective, man, as long as you have a government per se, we submit and we thrive, and we work to change within the system to bring justice. We’re basically the role of the prophet, right? We call everybody to repent from their sin. No, we don’t call everybody to sin, we call everybody to repent. And we call attention to systems that are in need of change, and so forth.

Cy Kellett:
And we’ll still have that role in the year 3000.

Tim Staples:
Yes. A really important point though, we get this question a lot at Catholic Answers. When Jesus says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” And when Paul says in Romans 13, the first four or five verses there, that the rulers, the king, wields the sword of God, and he is a terror to you if you do bad. Do good, you don’t have anything to worry about. But he is speaking in the context of a Roman Empire that wasn’t exactly friendly.

Cy Kellett:
No. Right.

Tim Staples:
But he says that this is established by God. God has established this system of things to where we would have political entities, and God’s hand is there. There is a… Tertullian talks about the restrainer, right? In 2 Thessalonians 2, [inaudible 00:16:26] Now this isn’t Catholic teaching, you’re not bound to believe this, but Tertullian did, that the government system is the restrainer that keeps civilization and holds back the chaos. But in the end, when the Antichrist comes, even that’s going to be loose. There’s going to be a time of chaos beyond anything we’ve ever experienced under the reign of Antichrist. But the point being here, that as long as a government can properly be called a government, we can submit as Catholics, and we do, and we have. We’ve talked about this before, St. Thomas Moore is the classic example. He was living under a man who may well have been just insane. I mean, Henry-

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, yeah.

Tim Staples:
I mean, he was losing it. For whatever reason, perhaps it was his concupiscence gone absolutely crazy. But I mean, some of the stuff he did was really weird, and evil, and stuff. And yet, Thomas Moore submitted as a faithful son to the king up until the… Nope, I can’t sign that, right? And so, that’s where we’re at. Governments will come and governments will go, but the kingdom of God on earth, the Catholic Church, will be here through it all proclaiming that same one Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Cy Kellett:
One of the things that I think… The advance of technology, you would expect… I mean, anything could happen. Technology might go backwards. We might stop educating ourselves, and we can’t produce technology. I mean, you don’t know what’s going to happen. But if there’s any kind of progress with technology, it seems to me that Christians will be distinct, in some ways, for their refusal to use some forms of technology. I’m thinking of, for example, this idea that women won’t have to carry babies, and that a baby can just be produced and put into a machine or something, to be raised there.

Tim Staples:
Sure.

Cy Kellett:
So, maybe you could reflect on some of the ways in which Catholics have to be… We’re not anti-technology, but we also are not, if you can do it, do it, right? So, some of the ways we might stand out as far as technology in the year 3000.

Tim Staples:
Yeah, well, we already see that, don’t we? Because we are basically the only Christian body remaining that is absolutely faithful to life. Right? Now, the Orthodox, I mean, they would yell at me and say, “Wait a minute, man, we’re with you on that.” But they really don’t have a uniform stand. You have Orthodox who are okay with contraception, I’ve talked to them, right? And you don’t have a universal standard.

And so, really, when it comes to the life issues, the Catholic Church [inaudible 00:19:29]. And abortion. To think that every single… Apart from the Orthodox, every single denomination of Protestantism has fallen, wow, to abortion, even the Southern Baptist. They limit it only to cases where the mother’s life is in danger, but they allow for abortion. And most of Protestant denominations are just off the charts crazy on this, and in vitro fertilization, you name it, all forms of contraception. Are you kidding? It’s a given… When I was a pastor, we had classes on which types of contraception to take. In vitro fertilization, oh, absolutely. I mean, it was hardly a thought [crosstalk 00:20:19].

Cy Kellett:
Yeah right.

Tim Staples:
Even though you actually have a lot of abortions in the process of IVF, because unsuccessful attempts are discarded and all of that. Those are-

Cy Kellett:
This is one of the charisms of the Catholic Church, is to make fine moral distinctions, is to be clear about actual… Where people are living, where the rubber meets the road. Well, certainly better than any other institution on Earth, says, “Well, if you cross this line, you’re over. But if you don’t cross that line…” So many people have trouble with NFP versus contraception, right? But there’s a very clear moral line there.

Tim Staples:
There is.

Cy Kellett:
But for whatever reason, we can’t see it without the help of the church.

Tim Staples:
That’s right. I think your question here, the answer really is, is kind of everything that we’re talking about in this focus. Because the principle is perennial, there’s a two fold into the conjugal act, union of one man, one woman, procreation. If you purposely thwart either of those two ends, that act becomes gravely disordered. That’s the principle that the Church says is infallible, cannot change, will never change. And so, whether it’s IVF, and we’re already experiencing this, it’s the Catholic Church that says no. Whereas, I have had people say to me, “You guys are anti-science, man. Look, we have this scientific ability now. You have women who are in pain, they can’t have children, and now they can have a child because of this wonderful technology, and you’re going to be [inaudible 00:22:04], you’re going to say no, what is that?” Right?

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Tim Staples:
And so, we could expect this kind of stuff to be on steroids, as we move forward, as more technologies are created, like you said, to where now women won’t even have to carry a baby, wow, we can just take them in a test tube over here, and-

Cy Kellett:
And the church will say that that doesn’t comport with the life of the child.

Tim Staples:
Correct.

Cy Kellett:
That that’s child abuse.

Tim Staples:
That’s right.

Cy Kellett:
And then, people will say, “Well, you’re anti-technology, or anti-woman or something.

Tim Staples:
That’s right. And the church has piped in on these matters. When we talk about procreation, it’s more than just conceiving a child, there’s more to this. For example, that that baby has a right. Remember mom and dad, that baby is a gift from God to you. You don’t have any rights here, you must treat that baby with the dignity that God gives to that baby.

Cy Kellett:
[crosstalk 00:23:04] right.

Tim Staples:
And that baby has the right to have a mommy and daddy, and to be nurtured and nourished ordinarily speaking, for nine months. Of course, sometimes things happen, babies come soon. But we cannot purposely thwart that end. We do everything we can to aid in the natural process. We cannot contradict it. Because someone said, “Well, if the baby is dying, and it’s 22 months old, are you saying [inaudible 00:23:33]?” No, that’s where we can thank God for science, where we can intervene and save the baby’s life. But we do nothing that contradicts the nature that God created.

Cy Kellett:
And I guess one of the things is that there is a growing movement… Well, there’s two weird movements that seem to me now, if you project them out into the year 3000, very disturbing. One is the anti-human movement, which… It’s bad to even be born because you’re a plague on the earth, and you have a huge carbon footprint, and all these things. You’re bad for Mother Earth. That’s very anti-human. The other one is this superhuman idea, that we’re going to… I don’t know, by integrating with machines, and by doing biological manipulation of embryos, or whatever, we’re going to improve the human race. So, where do you think in the year 3000 the church has to come down on these things?

Tim Staples:
Well, [inaudible 00:24:30] my friend.

Cy Kellett:
Isn’t that [inaudible 00:24:33]? You could have push Pope Francis [crosstalk 00:24:35].

Tim Staples:
I do. I can’t help it.

Cy Kellett:
Because he handles these things very well there. Yeah.

Tim Staples:
He really does. In the midst of the craze of global warming and such, I just love the way Pope Francis uses all of that, and he gets to the core of it. And the throw away culture, right? That the anti-human culture that says we’re the problem. I think he brilliantly just sort of weaves himself right into the middle of the discussion, and then he brings everything that’s most important to the table, right? And so, we, whether it’s a very legitimate discussion that needs to be heard about our stewardship over the planet, that’s really important stuff. And I know some people, “Why is he writing an encyclical?” Well, because it’s important.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. Right.

Tim Staples:
He says nothing different than Benedict or John Paul before him, in talking about us being stewards over the planet. And so, we need to interject our perennial principles into that discussion as well, and see how it has tentacles that are connected to babies in the womb, right? Because if man is the problem, if man is evil, we need to get rid of man, that just… “Oh, great abortion? Two thumbs up, good. Another one of those evil humans is gone.” The throwaway culture and so forth. So, I would see us in the year 3000 fighting for these same perennial principles of the dignity of the human person, but it’ll just be in the context of some, I would bet, really wild scientific stuff that has taken us very far astray, unfortunately.

Cy Kellett:
But doesn’t that suggest to you that… I think it was Aristotle or Plato, I can’t remember that, “A small error in the beginning is a huge error in the end.” And we’re at the beginning of these. And so, that’s why the church can’t compromise. Because if you compromise now on some principle, well, you don’t know 1000 years from now what that compromise looks like. It may look like horrible indignities being visited upon human beings.

Tim Staples:
Absolutely. But let me change gears here for a second, because I think there’s another principle that I find very commonly brought to the fore here in talking about this, and that is we have to make distinctions as Catholics between what is unchangeable and what is changeable.

Cy Kellett:
Yes. Okay.

Tim Staples:
Because how often have we had over the centuries things… Where the church develops? Let’s say the Immaculate Conception, and a whole lot of people say, “What? That is wrong.” How about St. Thomas Aquinas? How about St. Albert the Great? How about St. Bernard of Clairvaux? We had giants who did not agree with this concept at the outset, and it led to wars, debates, and you name it, right? I mean, not physical wars, but wars intellectually, and it took hundreds of years before it was really smoothed out [inaudible 00:27:56] Of course, and Duns Scotus, the brilliant… A simple analogy we think, but it was powerful, the man who is happening upon a muddy pit. And one fellow falls into the pit, he must be saved, he has to be pulled out. And another fellow [inaudible 00:28:20] “Hey, stop.” And doesn’t fall in the first place.

The analogy of… And again, St. Thomas could not see this, because to him… When Thomas is talking about our Blessed Mother or our salvation, or anybody’s salvation, there’s only two options. Either you’re saved before you sin, which is impossible, because you don’t exist. Before you sin, or after. He did not have the concept of preservative salvation. It wasn’t in his thinking. And so, it came. All right, we all know about that.

But the bottom line is, we can go back over 2000 years and see every single time we had ecumenical councils that dealt with major controversies. There were people on both sides of the issue that disagreed, and disagreed strongly. Most of the time, you ended up with a schism afterward. A whole lot of times you did because of the definition of the church. And why did that happen? Because we did not make distinctions between what is changeable and what is not. Distinctions, distinctions, distinctions, up into our own time, over English or vernacular, right?

Cy Kellett:
Right. Is that changeable or not? Right. Yeah.

Tim Staples:
And so many other things accompanying the [Pro Maltese 00:29:40] and [Pro Omnibus 00:29:41] and all, and there’s so many issues. Well, today, we see it with things like the famous Footnote 351 of Pope Francis, I mean, a footnote caused and still is causing a huge stink. Now, you and I have talked about this before, the bottom line is, Pope Francis, of course, did not teach anything heretical. He is completely within his bounds, but there are a whole lot of folks, I mean, a whole lot of folks, they come right up to the edge, “Is he a heretic? [inaudible 00:30:20].” And then, some of them will come out right out and say-

Cy Kellett:
“Yeah, he is.”

Tim Staples:
“Yes, this is heresy.” Well, these are the kinds of things that are going to be going on 3000 years from now. But it’s my hope and prayer that situations like this, where Pope Francis… And just for those who don’t know, the whole blow up is over whether in the internal forum that is in confession, a priest can say to a penitent licitly, who is living in what is an objectively gravely immoral state, that this person is not morally culpable, and therefore could receive Communion. That’s the whole stink right there. And, “Oh, my God…” John Paul said no. In Familiaris Consortio, paragraph 84, Pope Francis says, “Yes.” In section eight of Amoris Laetitia, and especially their Footnote 351, this has nothing to do with dogma, it’s not… The only doctrinal change that this relates to at all is the way we practically carry out our teachings. It has nothing to do with dogmatic theology, properly speaking. We talk about social doctrine, right?

Cy Kellett:
Well-

Tim Staples:
Social doctrine. It is doctrine as much as this is the way we practically practice. Kind of like with usury, right? The church used to say, “No interest period, no questions asked.” Until capitalism comes along. And oh, my gosh, money is now a commodity, our minds are blowing up. Well, now interest is allowable, even though the church once… That’s what’s called a change in social doctrine. It’s not a change dogmatically, but it is a change in the way we apply our doctrine. And so, this thing has caused such a big stink. Maybe we exaggerate it, I mean, there’s certain quarters of the church where this has caused a lot of stink. Most Catholics don’t have a problem with this, most people.

Cy Kellett:
Most Catholics don’t actually read the footnotes in Vatican documents. If there’s not someone on the internet saying, “This is a bad footnote,” then you wouldn’t even know about it.

Tim Staples:
That’s right. But forgive me for going into that in a little detail. But it’s important, because these are the sorts of things… These issues in the church aid us in being able to clarify. And so, for centuries to come, we will be able to look back at this and say, “Wow, see how people got themselves all angry over something that really was not a matter of dogmatic at all, this was something legitimately within the prudential judgment of the Holy Father.”

Cy Kellett:
And somebody is going to have to come up with a mental image, like the image of preservation from falling into the… To make it… In time that will all come. And then, once you see it, then the distinctions become clear. But while you’re working out those distinctions, it’s not clear, and it’s very difficult.

Tim Staples:
It is. Because I realized when I wrote my article… I wrote an article for Catholic Answers on this, and I wrote four of them on my website at timstaples.com defending Pope Francis. In my mind, it was like, “Gosh, this is so simple, guys, why are you…” But then, when you have to put pen to paper, it ends up being a longer article than I wanted it to be, because you have to explain a lot of nuances, and there are nuances involved. But what I loved about Pope Francis is when you read section eight of Amoris is, he actually lays it out beautifully and very well. He quotes Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism, the Catholic Church, shows how the church has always understood that someone can… And I love the way he uses the Catechism, I think… Where is that? In 23, 52 right in there. I could be wrong on the number. But when you talk about masturbation. The church right in the Catechism says, in cases-

Cy Kellett:
Oh, yeah.

Tim Staples:
Where you can have especially adolescent boys, right? Where this becomes habituated, where what they’re doing is objectively gravely disordered. But force of habit and so forth can mitigate that culpability to where they’re not morally coupled. He said, “Of course that’s true.”

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Tim Staples:
But he’s applying it to divorce and remarriage in a more complex situation. But see, the principle is the same. And theoretically, a person can be guilty of that, which is objectively grave, but not be morally culpable for it. And then, you have to take that next step… Well, it can be scandalous to say this person will receive communion, you have to deal with that.

I argue the scandal goes away if we teach people properly to stop being liturgy police, and looking at everybody… “What’s he doing receiving communion?” Right? And that sort of thing. But the point I’m making, Cy, is that it is complex. And the situation’s we’re going to find ourselves in will get more, not less complex, as the hundreds of years go on, and 1000 years from now.

So, like you said, as Aristotle said, if you get off on your first principles, your first principles may not look like they’re all that important, but then you start going from A to B to C to D, and then all of a sudden you’re like, “How did I get here?”

Cy Kellett:
Right. Well, let me ask you this, in my way of conclusion. Some of those people you name, like think of Bernard of Clairvaux, or Thomas Aquinas, I mean, they didn’t live 1000 years ago, but hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

Tim Staples:
800 and 900.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, right. But they still have an impact on our life today. And there’s probably very many ordinary people, our brothers and sisters in Christ who died 1000 years ago, who just by living their ordinary Christian life actually set the stage for us to be able to have what we have of the gospel today. So, this is what I want to ask you. What do you say to the person who says, “I’d like to…” Whether I’m publicly known like Thomas Aquinas, or Bernard, or whether I am utterly forgotten to history, what is my role as far as setting the stage of history for people 1000 years from now?

Tim Staples:
Yes. It’s something. In the kingdom of God, there’s no such thing as an unimportant person, right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Tim Staples:
In the political world, in Hollywood, in all of that, there’s the important people, right? And then, there’s the Muggles.

Cy Kellett:
That’s a great use of the word Muggle, yeah.

Tim Staples:
They’re not that important. They don’t know what’s going on in this [inaudible 00:37:49]. But you know what? The Blessed Mother is the ultimate example that turns [crosstalk 00:37:53] upside down. Because the Blessed Mother is the example of a 14 year old little girl, 14 or 15, most likely, who God changes, or calls to change the universe. “God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, the weak things to confound the strong,” says St. Paul. And I like to say the Blessed Mother is the icon for all of us in every sense, but in this sense, in particular. Because she tells us that the one who will never be known, everybody won’t remember, has an impact so far beyond what they even realize, because they don’t know. You don’t know that when you say yes to God, you are going to be the catalyst that converts your son, your child, who converts the next St. Francis of Assisi.

Now, your child might be the one who gets the credit and people know him for, hey, yeah, he brought Francis into the church. Nobody ever knows or attributes it, yeah, but guess what? He doesn’t exist-

Cy Kellett:
Unless you did your job.

Tim Staples:
Unless you did your job. And so, there’s no such thing as an unimportant person. Because really, it’s when we, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, say, “Let it be done unto me.” That’s where the kingdom begins. That’s where the seed begins. And the full flourishing is going to come later. And maybe folks won’t even be able to connect it back to that little seed, but the fact is, that’s where it came from.

Cy Kellett:
Tim, thank you very much.

Tim Staples:
Great to be with you, brother.

Cy Kellett:
Oh, I don’t usually feel this way at the end of a Focus episode, but I’m feeling a little queasy from the time travel. But I want to thank Tim Staples for taking us on that trip into the future. It’s very encouraging, I think can settle our minds to reflect on the idea that… Look, 1000 years ago, people were celebrating the Eucharist, they were receiving Christ in the Eucharist, and they’ll be doing it 1000 years from now. These key things, these basic things, like marriage and the dignity of the human person, they’re not going to change. What it was to be a saint 1000 years ago, is not different in any essential way from what it is to be a saint today, or what it will be to be a saint 3000 years from now, that settles a lot.

I was very happy that Tim also pointed out, because I was kind of focused on those things that never change, that it’s okay that some things do change. Finer and finer distinctions will be made by the philosophers and the theologians, the Popes, and the magisterium of the future, so that people will have a better idea of what is permanent, and which things are not. But the essentials are not going to change. It’s just a better explication of them. It’s a better kind of opening up of clarity on which things are essential and which things are not. It gives me a sense of ease and peace and also reminds me… Look, my job is to set the stage now so that the people of the future can hear the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s my job, and I can do it.

Hey, if you want to send us an email, or give us an idea for our future show, [email protected] is our email address. We want to hear from you. [email protected] Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcasts, and if you’re watching on YouTube, it makes a big difference if you like and subscribe. Just to it right now, like and subscribe.

You can give to us and support this ministry, this outreach financially by going to givecatholic.com, we’d really like you to do that now. This is not a future thing. Please don’t think of it as time traveling like, “Oh, I’m going to give sometime in the future.” Nope. We need you to give now. givecatholic.com. I am Cy Kellet, your host, thank you for joining us here on Catholic Answers Focus. We’ll see you next time, God willing, right here, when we do it again.

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