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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“More and more as we grow older, we find that the people we see most of are recent acquaintances; not (perhaps) very congenial to us, but chance has thrown them in our way. Meanwhile, the people we used to know so well—for whom we once entertained such warm feelings—are now remembered by a card at Christmas (if we can succeed in finding the address). How good we are at making friends, when we are young; how bad at keeping them! How eagerly, as we grow older, do we treasure up the friendships that are left to us, like beasts that creep together for warmth!”
— Msgr. Ronald Knox (1888-1957)

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First Century Progressives
published 16 November 2012 by Fr. David Friel

READ ALMOST an entire book of the Bible this morning. The first reading for the day consisted of the lion’s share of the Second Letter of John, which is only 13 verses in total. But “the Presbyter,” as John refers to himself, says a great deal in that short space.

In the first half of the letter, he provides a summation of the Gospel. A young man when he traveled with his friend & Lord, Jesus, John had grown to old age by the time he wrote his letters. In the wisdom of his old age, John neatly encapsulates the life & mission of our Lord in three words: “love one another.”

What really struck me, though, was the second half of the letter. We encounter this admonition in verse 9: “Anyone who is so ‘progressive’ as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God.” John clearly speaks unfavorably of those whom he names “progressive.” The Greek word used is προάγων, which literally means anyone “who goes ahead.” The provenance of 2 John is likely Ephesus around the end of the first century, so what strikes me is that there were already problems with progressives who would distort Christian teaching, even only 70 years after our Lord’s Crucifixion.

We ought not to be shocked, then, that so much of our modern world believes it is too “sophisticated” for God. Many actually believe that the human progress of the twentieth century will eventually lead to the obsolescence of Christian faith.

Let’s not drink that Kool-Aid. Let’s instead remember that we are radically contingent beings who are utterly dependent on God. It is impossible to progress beyond the wisdom, power, and love of God.