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A Love that Maketh a Lie: Amoris Laetitia and the Teilhardian Agenda

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A Love That Maketh a Lie:

Amoris Laetitia and the Teilhardian Agenda

“Without are dogs and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (Apoc. 22:15)

 Introduction

In order to accomplish the victory of Teilhardian evolutionary theology over 2,000 years of Catholic teaching concerning God’s immutable Truth and Revelation, it is above all necessary that the perpetrators of this agenda falsify the Catholic doctrine concerning the theological virtue of Charity.

The above-quoted scripture from the Book of the Apocalypse should be something which causes us to “draw up short” in profound self-reflection. In a world and a Church in which the absolute truths of our Faith are being denied, de-emphasized and marginalized in favor of a view of a God Who is unconditional love, the notion that there is a love that “maketh a lie” to such a magnitude as to place those who exercise it on the same level as those who are “without” the Kingdom of Heaven because they are “dogs, sorcerers, the unchaste, murderers, and servers of idols”, should make all of us tremble.

The key to understanding this passage lies in understanding the Greek word which is used in this passage for “loveth”. It is not eros, which means erotic or sexual love, and is in fact a Greek word that is never used in the New Testament. Nor is it agapē, which is translated as charity, and which we properly use only for the supreme love of God and man. Rather, it is philěō, which is defined as brotherly love, or the love of the brotherhood. It is in fact where the name of the city Philadelphia comes from, which literally means the City (delphia) of Brotherly Love.

The most malicious form of love which “maketh a lie” is obviously, therefore, any love practiced towards one’s brethren which establishes or confirms them in sin. It is a love, in other words, which contradicts and violates that highest form of love of God which is called Charity. As we shall see, it is precisely just such a love, and its corresponding lie, which is now being widely promoted within the Church.

The “hub” of all Catholic life is the truth concerning the Catholic theological virtue of Charity. This is so because it is the absolute key to the reality of the Catholic truth concerning the justification and salvation of every person who is destined for an eternity with God. The Council of Trent defines this doctrine in the following words:

For, although no one can be just but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most Holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those that are justified and is inherent therein.” (Session VI, Ch. VII).

In other words, the supernatural gift of Charity is equivalent to the possession of sanctifying grace, and constitutes our being in the friendship of God (please see our previous article Teilhardian Evolution: To Change the Hearts and Minds of All Men for an analysis of Charity and its relationship to the Catholic concepts of Truth, Love, and Mercy). It is therefore of primary importance that we properly understand how we come to possess this inestimable gift.

It is a defined doctrine of the Catholic Faith that the exercise of man’s free will is absolutely necessary for all that is involved in his justification and sanctification; necessary for cooperating with the actual graces in preparation for justification; necessary in cooperating with the grace of justification itself; necessary for persevering in faith and good works, both of which are necessary for salvation; necessary for performance of those good works which merit an increase of glory in eternal life; and necessary for the grace of final perseverance. In other words, while God’s gift of Charity and sanctifying grace is totally gratuitous, being derived solely from the merits of Our Lord’s Passion and in no way due to the merits of man, it at the same time requires the cooperation of man’s free will for its reception and application, and is therefore the most merited thing in the life of any human being who seeks to be in the friendship of God and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. The Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification in fact contains over 20 canons detailing the absolute necessity of the cooperation of man’s free will in meriting and living this grace, and pronounces anathemas upon any who presume to deny these truths.

Consideration of Charity as being the “hub” of all Catholic life is appropriate because all that constitutes what is necessary for being in friendship with God may be metaphorically compared to a wheel containing the “spokes” of the many Catholic doctrines and truths which are integral to the reality and understanding of Charity. And, unlike a physical wheel, the entire structure of this wheel is shattered if even one of these spokes be broken (culpably denied). As we pointed out emphatically in our previous article, Charity cannot exist where there is not Faith, and Faith itself cannot exist where even one such doctrine is culpably denied. The following doctrines are all intimately related to and necessary for the understanding of Charity:

God created man and endowed man with Charity (sanctifying grace) super-added to his human nature. This we call the state of “Original Justice”. It could not have existed if Adam and Eve had not been endowed with the full human intelligence and free will necessary for understanding and freely choosing to live in this friendship with God.

Man fell from this original state of Justice and Charity through freely willing to sin in rebellion against God. As a result, he lost sanctifying grace. And also as a result, he came to possess a fallen nature, which, although severely weakened and disordered in both intellect and will, still possessed the necessary intelligence and free will to be responsible for his actions. This fallen nature is the common inheritance of all men (Our Lady being excepted) at the moment of their conception.

The restoration of man to the state of possessing Charity (sanctifying grace) was only made possible through the Sacrifice of Christ in His Passion. This only becomes a reality in an individual person’s life through freely chosen faith and baptism. It is this “state” of Charity which each person is responsible for maintaining through faith and good works. This entails that it is also a matter of Faith that there is a real distinction between living in this state of Charity, on the one hand, and being dead in mortal sin on the other. This further necessitates the real distinction between mortal and venial sin. If a person loses sanctifying grace through mortal sin, this Charity may be restored through the sacrament of Confession. And since, as St. Thomas says, “The reality of the Eucharist is the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, without which there is no salvation”, then the reception of the Eucharist while living in objective mortal sin is in itself a sacrilegious denial of this unity, a “re-crucifixion” of Christ, and a sacrilegious offense against the Charity of God.

Having thus detailed the very specific doctrinal content of the Catholic doctrine concerning Charity, we are now in a position to determine the nature of the “lie” which is the defining heresy involved in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

 Amoris Laetitia: Heresy Unveiled

Since the public presentation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia on April 8, 2016, the traditional Catholic media has been flooded with negative evaluations. Following is a list of some of the pejoratives used to describe this document: ambiguous, undermining, fundamental option, turning point in Catholic doctrine, uncertainty, coup, revolutionary, relativistic, plot to turn the Church upside down, demolish the foundations of two thousand years of Catholicism, constant teaching of the Church destroyed, strange, surreal, disquieting, dreadful, devastating for the Church, a praise to heretic joy, catastrophic. It has even been simply called the “Bergoglian heresy”.

In these evaluations, a number of passages have been quoted from the Exhortation, virtually all of the relevant ones to be found in Chapter 8, which is titled “Accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness”. Unquestionably, these passages and their respective evaluations offer evidence for the strong condemnations of these commentators. Possibly most succinct, and most often employed, is a passage from paragraph 305, and its footnote. The passage reads:

Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.”

The relevant footnote (#351) reads:

In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039).”

All this is indeed an indication of an underlying heresy, but it does not, so to speak, “put the nail to the coffin”. As one commentator put it, it is “careful language”. Or, as Cardinal Schonborn stated in his Intervention at the Presentation of Amoris Laetitia, it is a “linguistic event”.

Possibly the most succinct, devastating, and poignant summary of this position – that Amoris Laetitia represents not explicit, but implicit, heresy – has come, not from a traditional Catholic, but from a man who describes himself as having been a secular Jew who converted to Catholicism, and now has rejected the Faith entirely. Damon Linker, in The Week magazine, writes the following:

“If there were any doubts that Pope Francis is a stealth reformer of the Roman Catholic Church, the apostolic exhortation he released last week (Amoris Laetitia, or the “Joy of Love”) should settle the matter.

“A straightforward reformer of the church seeks to change its doctrines. A stealth reformer like Francis, on the other hand, keeps the doctrines intact but invokes such concepts as mercy, conscience, and pastoral discernment to show priests that it’s perfectly acceptable to circumvent and disregard those doctrines in specific cases. A doctrine officially unenforced will soon lose its authority as a doctrine. Where once it was a commandment sanctioned by God, now it becomes an “ideal” from which we’re expected to fall short. Before long it may be treated as a suggestion. Eventually, repealing it is no longer controversial — or perhaps even necessary.

“Stealth reform ultimately achieves the same reformist goal, but without inspiring the intense opposition that would follow from attempting to change the doctrine outright.”

However, Cardinal Schonborn, Damon Linker, and others who promote such views concerning the Pope’s Exhortation are wrong. Amoris Laetitia is not just a “linguistic event” or “stealth reform” or “implicit heresy”, which is able to fly under the radar of a specific charge of objective heresy.There is a very explicit heresy, it is the foundation of all the other legitimate condemnations of Amoris Laetitia, and it clearly reveals the agenda which germinates and nourishes all the rest of its errors. It is found in paragraphs 296 and 297:

“The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous.” (296).

“It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial com-munity and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” (297).

Clearly, in the context of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia, the Pope is speaking here of the individual human person, and the state of his soul which determines not only whether he may receive Holy Communion, but also whether he is justified or condemned. As a Catholic, whatever he says therefore must be judged in the light of the Council of Trent’s infallible teaching concerning justification, which we examined in our Introduction to this article.

To assert, as does Pope Francis, that “true charity is unmerited, unconditional, and gratuitous” is simply a very explicit heresy. As we have pointed out, the Grace of God which is called “Charityis indeed totally unmerited and gratuitous in itself, but its presence in the soul of man – a state which we rightly call “living in sanctifying grace” and “being in the friendship of God” – is of necessity merited by man and not at all unconditional. The following two passages from the teachings of the Council of Trent make all of this abundantly clear:

But no one, how much soever justified ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments, no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema, that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou art able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy, whose yoke is sweet, and whose burden light. For whoso are the sons of God love Christ; but they who love Him keep His commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do.” (Session VI, Ch. XI).

“In opposition also to the subtle wits of certain men who, by pleasing speeches and good works, seduce the hearts of the innocent, it is to be maintained that the received grace of justification is lost not only by infidelity [loss of faith], whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost; thus defending the doctrine of the divine law, which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelieving, but the faithful also (who are) fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liars with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins; from which, with the help of divine grace, they can refrain, and on account of which they are separated from the grace of Christ.” (Ibid., Ch. XV)

Therefore, Pope Francis’ statement in paragraph #305 that, “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin [he is obviously speaking here of mortal sin] – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end” does indeed constitute heresy. And his statement in footnote 351, that, “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments”, is an explicit invitation to Eucharistic sacrilege. It would seem the perfect example of a love “that maketh a lie.”

Herein resides the essence of this heresy. It lies specifically in teaching that there is a “gradualness” applicable to the possession of charity and sanctifying grace. It is Catholic dogma that possession of supernatural charity is an ontological state created by sanctifying grace added to the soul, that one cannot possess this charity unless living in this substantial state, and that it is this state of being which is absolutely necessary for receiving the Eucharist and other sacraments. It cannot be possessed by a person living in objective mortal sin, or by any person who is in some process of pastoral effort working towards the attainment of some “ideal”.

In addition, all of Francis’ various statements which promote the idea that an individual’s correspondence with immutable Catholic moral doctrine is only an ideal, which may be now unattainable because of “weaknesses”, and which must be subject to this new principle of “gradualism”, constitute a blasphemy against God’s goodness and grace, “Who aids thee that thou may be able”, as clearly laid out in Chapters XI and XV of Trent’s Decree on Justification as quoted above.

It must also be noted, that it is also an egregious error to claim, as does paragraph 297, that “It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial com-munity and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” (297). It is not “the logic of the Gospel” that “no one can be condemned forever”. Our Lord emphatically stated, “For many are called, but few are chosen”. The existence of a populated Hell is indeed Catholic doctrine taught clearly by Holy Scripture.

Satan’s Primary Target: The Family

The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” (From Sr. Lucia’s letter to Cardinal Carlo Caffara)

It is no accident that this Heresy which denies the Catholic doctrine concerning Supernatural Charity is to be found in a document which purports to encapsulate the teaching of the Synod on the Family.

Continuing the metaphor employed at the beginning of this article, we may rightly say that, if the Catholic truth concerning Charity is the “Hub” of the wheel of all true Catholic life, then the family is the lynch-pin which holds this wheel in place as the foundational institution incarnating this Charity in the life of both the Church and the world. The family is the place where Charity is received through baptism. It is the place where it is nourished through love. It is where it receives its foundations and bulwarks through the educational process, and the place of support and protection where it endures through the sufferings of this life. It is the Family, and the question as to whether it is constituted as either a place of Charity or its denial, which determines whether we live in a Christian civilization, or a civilization turned away from God to the worship of Evil.

It is also therefore no accident that the chapter of Amoris Laetitia (Chapter VIII) which attempts to enshrine this heresy within its teaching on the family is called “Accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness.” The “weaknesses” specifically addressed in this chapter are Catholics couples living in objective mortal sin through cohabitation, those in a civil marriage without the sacrament, and those who have gone through the process of civil divorce and remarriage. Each of these are designated as “weaknesses” in this document, but are in reality situations of objective mortal sins which are primary attacks upon the family and the institution of marriage upon which it is founded. To therefore speak of integrating such sins into the Church is to speak of integrating evil into the very lifeblood of the Church, thereby violating the entire Christian idea of what constitutes Charity within the family.

The key to this satanic strategy is the word “integration”. It is a word which is absolutely central, not only to the agenda of a totally anti-Christian occult worldview which now worships the evolutionary progress and “salvation” of the entire world through an “integral ecology”, but also the theology now dominant within the Church through the theology of Teilhard de Chardin and Pope Benedict, and which is now being implemented through the words and pastoral policies of Pope Francis and his supporters in the hierarchy. It views Christian Revelation not as immutable and finished upon the death of the last Apostle, but rather as an ongoing historical progression (containing no fixed absolutes,) toward the Omega point of Teilhardian evolution in which the truth will be fully revealed and incarnated.

In his 1998 book Milestones ((in the context of discussing his thesis on St. Bonaventure), then Cardinal Ratzinger reveals that since the middle of the 20th century (the heyday of Teilhardian popularity), Catholic theologians had come to the conclusion that neoscholasticism had kept the notion of revelation “too confined to the intellectual realm”, and that now:

Revelation appeared no longer simply as a communication of truths to the intellect but as a historical action of God in which truth becomes gradually unveiled.” ((P. 104).

And three pages later, in attempting to use St. Bonaventure to further this new view of Revelation, he states:

Here, ‘revelation” is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act [read “Dogma”]. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of ‘revelation’.

If ‘revelation’ is something gradually unveiled through historical evolution, and if the human subject is always part of this progression of revelation, then what we are dealing with here is a concept of Catholic Revelation which only becomes manifested “gradually” through the evolutionary development of all human beings. And, this in turn necessitates that all human beings, at some point in time, must be forcefully integrated into this evolutionary process. In an extraordinary passage from his book The Heart of Matter, Teilhard de Chardin writes:

The irresistible ‘setting’ or cementing together of a thinking mass (Mankind) which is continually more compressed upon itself by the simultaneous multiplication and expansion of its individual elements: there is not one of us, surely, who is not almost agonizingly aware of this, in the very fibre of his being. This is one of the things that no one today would even try to deny: we can all see the fantastic anatomical structure of a vast phylum [social, psychic, informational, etc.] whose branches, instead of diverging as they normally do, are ceaselessly folding in upon one another ever more closely, like some monstrous inflorescence – like, indeed, an enormous flower folding-in upon itself; the literally global physiology of an organism in which production, nutrition, the machine, research, and the legacy of heredity are, beyond any doubt, building to planetary dimensions [one can only imagine the ‘fuel’ which the Internet would have provided for Teilhard’s ‘Great Vision’]….Writing in the year 1950, I can say that the evolution of my inner vision culminates in the acceptance of this evident fact, that there is a ‘creative’ tide which (as a strict statistic consequence of their increasing powers of self-determination) is carrying the human ‘mega-molecules’ towards an almost unbelievable quasi ‘mono-molecular’ state; and in that state, as the biological laws of Union demand, each ego is destined to be forced convulsively beyond itself into some mysterious super-ego.” (p. 37-38).

We might well imagine the delight of any sort of Antichrist figure at the prospect that he has both divine and evolutionary sanction to “convulsively force” all men into “some mysterious super-ego.”

What unites the secular and Teilhardian views of evolutionary progression, therefore, is that both demand a convergence of the minds and hearts of all human beings towards a unity of consciousness (an “Omega Point” – this Teilhardian concept has even been adopted by many secularists) in which all the divisions separating and alienating men from one another on all levels of culture (politics, economics, and especially religion) have been overcome. This of course demands the integration of all that is viewed as “truly human” into this process. The widespread acceptance of this agenda within the Church began at the time of Vatican II with a false Ecumenism, graduated to calls for inculturation of all sorts of foreign things into Catholic belief and worship, and now issues forth in the siren call for an exponential increase in such inclusiveness and integration. It is the reason virtually all children are being subjected to so-called “Diversity Training”, and this includes most Catholic colleges and universities. It is the potential death of all the immutable Catholic Truths and Doctrines which separate the Church from the rest of the world. It demands the poisoning of all Catholic minds and hearts with a love that “maketh a lie” through inclusiveness towards every form of error and sin. And it therefore constitutes total warfare against the Charity of God, being nourished by a satanically inspired passion which will only be satiated through the spiritual death of all of mankind. Both are focused heavily upon the Amazon Basin, with its extraordinarily complex and rich ecological, cultural, and religious diversity, as the ideal experimental situation for it its implementation.

It is also this “forced convergence” which is now being implemented within the legal systems of nations throughout the world through the legalization of contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, “gay- marriage”, transexualism, and gender ideology. All of this is aimed at destroying the traditional Catholic institution of marriage and the family. And this agenda is being promoted (or at least passively accepted) by many within the Church, including many members of the Catholic hierarchy. We therefore repeat the following, and will continue to do so in all subsequent articles:

It must be realized that virtually all the positions of influence (media), money, and power, both in the Church and the world, are now in the hands of the enemy. There is no human solution to what is now befalling us. All that has been (or will be) written here therefore has one purpose: to convince readers that our only solution lies in the supernatural grace which has been promised through the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and that this can be accessed only through fulfillment of Our Lady’s plan. The only question now remaining is whether we will comply with God’s plan through Mary before total chaos and tyranny descends upon us and those we love. We again, therefore, ask all readers to seriously read our Original Proposal, and to promote what is requested therein.

Please pray the Rosary for the Purification of the Church!

 

Addendum

 Note: The following is posted in response to a very good question we received as to whether a person can be “objectively” in the state of mortal sin but not “subjectively” culpable. It is especially relevant to Pope Francis’ statement in Amoris Laetitia that “in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.”

 

Amoris Laetitia: Seeking the Ruin of Souls

 “More souls go to Hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”   (Our Lady of Fatima to Jacinta Marto, 1919)

 

After startling Nicodemus with the words, “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”, and then explaining their meaning, Jesus concluded with these words:

For God, sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their words were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God. (John 3: 5-17)

Jesus said that he was come, not to judge the world, but to offer it salvation. We know, of course, that Christ will come “to judge the living and the dead” in the Final Judgment at the end of time, and that He also judges each person, in a particular judgment, at the end of his sojourn in this life. But all judgment during this life – as to whether we are alive in the Charity of God, or dead in sin; as to whether we are living in the friendship of God, or whether we are living as His enemies – is appropriated to the work of the Holy Spirit: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Concerning this coming of the Holy Spirit, and His mission, Our Lord said:

It is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he is come, he will convince [also convict, reprove] the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment….” (John 16:8).

The judgment of the living is therefore this: either a person is alive in the charity (sanctifying grace) of the Holy Spirit, or he is dead in the works of Satan. There is no half-alive in God, no gradualism in the possession of charity, no “living in grace” for those in mortal sin. In Our Lord’s terms, there are those who do evil and therefore hate the light; or, on the other hand, there are those who do truth and come to the light that their works may be made manifest “because they are done in God”.

Pope Francis does not agree. In Chapter 8, paragraph 305 of Amoris Laetitia, he states: “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” And in his now infamous footnote (#351) to this sentence, he states quite clearly that in “certain cases” such persons can be admitted to the sacraments, and specifically to Eucharistic communion.

It is truly extraordinary that Pope Francis, during his return-flight from the island of Lesbos on April 16, 2016, flatly stated, in answer to a reporter’s question, “I don’t remember the footnote.” It seems that we are faced with the choice of either believing that this is a blatant falsehood, or that he did not write (and read) all of Amoris Laetitia. As evidence for the former, Pope Francis, when specifically asked whether, after the issuance of Amoris Laetitia there now exist “new openings” and “concrete possibilities” for the divorced and remarried to have access to the sacraments, replied, “I can say yes, period”. He then went on to refer the questioner to a fuller explanation given by Cardinal Schonborn at the official presentation of the document. At that presentation, Cardinal Schonborn stated, “In the sense of this “via caritatis” (AL 306), the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given “’n certain cases’.”

A very large portion of Chapter 8 is devoted to overwhelming us with “forms of conditioning and mitigating factors” which are intended to convince us of the possibility that a person living in objective mortal sin can be living in a state of grace and be worthy of receiving the sacraments, and especially Eucharistic Communion. Following is a partial list, ranging from the abstract to the very specific: cultural or contingent situations; awaiting more security in life; the expense of a wedding, not in a position to understand, appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law; complexity of various situations; obligations towards children’s upbringing springing from a second marriage (civil); having been unjustly abandoned during the original marriage; subjective belief that the first marriage was never valid; fear that the lack of “expressions of intimacy”, required of those who must live as brother and sister in the raising of their children, might endanger the virtue of “faithfulness”; ignorance; inadvertence; duress; fear; habit; inordinate attachments; affective immaturity; force of acquired habit; conditions of anxiety; and, other psychological or social factors [one wonders whether there might not be hundreds].

All of this is, of course, simply obfuscation. No one denies that there may be mitigating factors in regard to human culpability. But the “life of grace” – that life of charity which provides access to Eucharistic communion – cannot exist where there is objective mortal sin. Neither ignorance, nor any of the other mitigating factors mentioned above, can justify receiving Our Lord while living in objective mortal sin. St. Paul writes:

Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord….But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

Every person in this world is absolutely obliged to prove himself, to judge himself in the light of God’s Truth (both faith and morals) before receiving Holy Communion. In any “internal forum” existing between priest and individual Catholic, whether during confession or spiritual direction, every priest in the world is obligated to make clear that there are no mitigating factors which will allow a person living in objective mortal sin to receive Holy Communion. Any priest consciously and willfully withholding such truth would be cooperating in sacrilege if the person were to receive communion. He would find himself immersed in a moral quagmire very similar in its parameters to the person who helps facilitate an abortion – only something much worse, since both sacrilege against God and the killing of a human soul are infinitely worse sins than the killing of the body, even if the body be that of an innocent child.

As discussed in our article above, the grievous error which is at the heart of Pope Francis’ notion that someone living in objective mortal sin could yet be “living in God’s grace”, “growing in charity”, and therefore possibly have legitimate access to the sacraments, is rooted in the heresy explicitly formulated in paragraph 296: “For true charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous”. There is, in fact, nothing in the life of any human being which more requires merit, is more conditional, and more requiring the cooperation with, and submission, to God’s Holy Will and commandments, than does possession of the supernatural virtue of charity.

In order to penetrate further into the depths of Pope Francis’ error, we must examine more closely the relationship between God’s grace and human merit.

We must always keep in mind that God’s grace, in principle, is totally unmerited and gratuitous. Man, by nature, has no right to any claim upon God’s charity, or His mercy. The merit which man possesses before God is what is called condign merit. It exists simply because God, in complete freedom, has willed that man, with his own free will, should co-operate with Him and thus merit reward. From this, we see that even merit itself is a gift of God’s grace.

Possibly the most pervasive error infecting the thought of virtually all modern Catholics is the deep-seated, and often unconscious, attitude that God owes us something. For a glaring example of this attitude, we refer the reader to the second part of our article The Mind of Antichrist. Therein, we discover Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI telling interviewer Jacques Servais that St. Anselm’s concept that man is under obligation to satisfy God’s Justice has been “reversed”, and that we must now rather view God as under compulsion and obligation to show man mercy.

Modern Catholics have basically lost sight of the absolutely necessary Christian truth that after the sin of Adam and Eve, God owes mankind nothing, and that every gift now received from Him is indeed totally gratuitous. And if we add to this Our Lord’s words quoted earlier – “And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their words were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God” – then man has no excuse for not responding to this light. It is man, and not God, who is under the absolute obligation to prove himself. It may indeed be the case that his sincere response to this light does not entail explicitly and immediately understanding all the truths of the Catholic faith, and that he therefore may indeed not be culpable for some degree of ignorance. But it certainly does entail that he has sufficient light (if, in Paul’s words he is one who “doth truth”) to examine himself, and pray to God for the light to know if he is free from the grave sins which prohibit him from receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist.

According to St. Thomas, there are four things necessary for justification of the sinner, and thus for the presence of charity (the life of grace) in the human soul: 1) the infusion of grace, 2) the movement of the free will towards God by faith, 3) the movement of the free will in renunciation of sin, 4) and the remission of sins. (ST I-II, Q.113, A.6). Two of these (numbers 2 & 3) are acts of the free will requiring not only grace but also merit through free will co-operating with grace. Most important for our present consideration is # 3. There can be no charity where there is not “the movement of free will in renunciation of sin”.

The presence of the charity of God in our souls is appropriated to the presence and work of the Holy Ghost. “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.” (Rom. 5:5). Our Lord proclaimed:

Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” (Mat. 12: 31-32).

The presence of justifying charity in the soul is the work of the Holy Ghost Who comes to dwell within us. He cannot dwell with mortal sin in the soul. To claim, as has Pope Francis, that charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous and that “a life of grace” can exist in a soul living in objective mortal sin, is to claim that charity and the Holy Ghost can dwell within individual souls alongside grave objective evil. It is this “blasphemy of the Holy Ghost” which creates a condition in the soul which cannot turn towards repentance because it now lies deeply imbedded in that overwhelming darkness of self-deceit which identifies God’s mercy with evil. We should not be at all surprised at Our Lords words, therefore, that all – whether laity, priests, bishops, or Pope –who claim to “loveth” man while confirming themselves or other persons in such iniquity, are listed by Our Lord along with “dogs and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols”.

The world has been afloat since the publication of Amoris Laetitia with headlines proclaiming that Pope Francis has opened the door for the divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist. In an article written for the website of the Archdiocese of Milan (and translated into English for Crux News), Monsignor Fausto Gilardi, who was in charge of confessions for the Milan Cathedral, stated: “In some cases, linked to partial information in the press, there’s been a “demand” for absolution, and thus confession is seen as a sort of passport towards the Eucharist”, and that, “Some priests, perhaps in a slightly rushed and efficiency-oriented way, have opened a ‘teller’s window’ for consultation, giving the idea that “any priest can quickly grant ‘exceptions’.” Msgr. Gilardi attempts to down-play all this by proposing a “path of discernment”, the “importance of graduality”, and awaiting “guidelines from the bishops”. It all rings hollow. The floodgates are now open.

I don’t think there is any doubt that we can say, “Now it all begins”: large-scale sacrilege, and the ruin of countless souls – not only of the divorced and remarried, but those co-habiting, those in homo-sexual relationships, those practicing contraception, etc. They all can propose “mitigating factors”, and they can all appeal to God’s alleged “unmerited, unconditional, and gratuitous mercy” in order to commit sacrilege.

To lead a person living in objective mortal sin along a path which, without conversion and renunciation of that sin, culminates in reception of Holy Communion constitutes the worst savagery against his eternal soul. Any priest who participates in such a journey will be held accountable. A Bishop who pursues such a policy will be responsible for all those who suffer such ruin under each and every priest in his diocese. One can only shudder at what awaits a Pope who institutes or encourages this policy for the universal Church.

Please pray for Pope Francis.

Please Pray the Rosary for the Purification of the Church!

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Teilhardian Evolution: To Change the Hearts and Minds of All Men

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Teilhardian Evolution:

To Change the Hearts and Minds of All Men

 

“Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man…” (Romans 1: 21-23).

 

The Church is now largely in the control of members of the hierarchy (especially Pope Francis and others close to him) who are promoting a Teilhardian view of cosmic evolution for man and all of creation. What this entails in regard to the natures of both God and man (and man’s relationship to God), has been explored in two of our articles: The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns, and The Quintessential Evolutionist. We strongly recommend a careful reading of both of these articles in order to gain an understanding of this agenda. What is being promoted is the Becoming of man (even being so bold as to make Christ subject to this evolutionary process), at the expense of denying the Immutable Supreme Being of God and His Truth. Satan intends at the end of this process to have produced a “new man” (by means of a “new evangelization”), who will then look into the mirror of his own mind and heart, and walk away “forgetting what manner of man he was” (James 1: 24).

In a dire warning to his beloved Corinthians concerning the advent of false apostles within the Church of God, St. Paul writes the following:

But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted, and fall from the simplicity that is in Christ…For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no wonder: for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light.” (2 Cor 11:3, 13-14).

If Satan is able to transform himself into the appearance of an angel of light in order to corrupt the human mind, this entails that he must corrupt language itself in order to pervert fundamental concepts and truths of the Catholic Faith. This is especially true of the virtues of faith, charity, and mercy. And it is also pre-eminently true of the concept of love, which as we shall see is related to, but not strictly to be identified with, any of these virtues.

The “simplicity of Christ” of which Paul speaks requires that these virtues, in order to be lived truly by his faithful disciples, possess precise meanings and relationships to one another. It is by dissolving these precise meanings, and confusing their proper relationships, that the Devil is now enabled not only to promote a false mercy within the Church, but also to destroy everything integral to the Catholic truth that man is created in the image of God. We need to have recourse to the teachings of St. Thomas if we are to unmask all of the deceits involved in this campaign.

The nature of these concepts and virtues requires that we consider them in a determined order and sequence. We therefore first consider the foundation of the entire Christian life:

Faith:

But without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6)

We are now being assaulted with the notion that the “New Evangelization” requires that mercy must supersede particular truths of our faith (and thus the intellectual virtue of faith itself) in order for us to truly live and reflect the love of Christ. Scripture is very effectively used to promote this idea. In one of the most famous passages in all of Holy Scripture, we read:

We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known. And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor 13: 12-13).

This scripture (and others) is used to promote the notion that Doctrines of our Faith, and pastoral practices which reflect these doctrines by preventing certain persons from receiving Holy Communion, being involved in Catholic ministries, etc. are “intellectualizations” and rigid “rules” which must be torn down, or at least de-emphasized, in order to promote a “new evangelization” devoted to a charity and mercy which is superior to and supersedes such legalism. This view has been expressed by Pope Francis many times, and was perhaps most succinctly expressed in the following statement from his interview with Anthony Spadaro: “The saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.” This is tantamount to making the absurd claim that the saving love of God comes before God’s Will and Truth. As we shall see, such a view falsifies not only faith, but also the virtues of charity and mercy which it falsely claims to champion.

St. Thomas, in answering the question “Whether Faith is the First of the Virtues”, writes:

The Apostle says (Heb. Xi. 1) that faith is the substance of things to be hoped for. Now the substance of a thing is that which comes first. Therefore faith is first among the virtues.” (ST, II-II, Q.4,A.7).

Thomas goes on to say that “Faith, by its very nature, precedes all other virtues.” This is so because “the last end must of necessity be present to the intellect [through faith] before it is present to the will, since the will has no inclination for anything except in so far as it is apprehended by the intellect.” (Ibid.).

The “last end” of which Thomas speaks is union with God in the Beatific Vision. St. Thomas writes, “Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence.” (I-II, Q.3, A.8). And just as faith precedes all other virtues in this life, so the fulfillment of the intellect in seeing the Essence of God in the Beatific Vision is the source of that rectitude of will (and therefore of love and charity) which of necessity will last for all eternity. In the words of Thomas, “Now it is impossible for anyone seeing the Divine Essence, to wish not to see It.” (I-II, Q.5, A.4). So while it is certainly true that faith will cease in Heaven because it is fulfilled in the Beatific Vision, the primacy of the intellect and the Absolute Truths of God to which it is united in this Vision remains. In image of the life of the Holy Trinity, love and charity (both of which are functions of the will) must always proceed from Truth, just as, within the Life of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit of Love must proceed not only from the Father, but also from the Son Who is the Word of Truth.

In other words, in this life in which our intellects see God only in a “dark manner” through faith, which is an anticipation of the Beatific Vision, there can be no charity without this faith. And, most significant for our understanding of the relationship between faith and charity, “Just as mortal sin is contrary to charity, so is disbelief in one article of faith contrary to faith. Now charity does not remain in a man after one mortal sin. Therefore neither does faith, after a man disbelieves one article.” (II-II, Q.5, A.3). For someone to culpably doubt or disbelieve in even one article of our Faith therefore necessitates that charity totally ceases to exist in such a person. Any notion, therefore, that the demands of charity can supersede faith, or contradict faith, is a profound delusion of Satan.

This primacy of faith is true despite the fact that in this life there can be a kind of perfection of the will which is not possible for the intellect. We may love God perfectly without now possessing that perfection of vision which is reserved for Heaven. But we cannot claim such a love if we in any way deny, or undermine, that faith which is ‘the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1), and therefore the substance of Who God is.

Having established the primacy of faith, we are now in position to examine the concepts of love, charity, and mercy. It is a very common error to equate charity and love, and this is the source of a great deal of confusion and error. Before examining the supernatural virtue of charity itself (a necessary prelude to examining mercy), we therefore need to examine the nature of love. 

Love:

According to Thomas, love can simply be defined as an “appetency for the good” (or what is perceived as good). It exists on three levels.

First, there is a natural appetite, implanted in all living creatures by God, and by which they tend to possess a natural love for themselves and maintain their own existence. This involves no knowledge or self-awareness on their part, but arises from an apprehension which is in the Author of their being (in other words, God knows what they need and orders their nature to what is good for them). We rightly speak on this level, for instance, when we say that the plants in our garden “love” the sunshine or spring rain. This is classically referred to as the “vegetative” appetite. Such “love” is also one part of man’s nature.

Secondly, there is sense appetite which arises from sense apprehension within the subject of the appetite, but from necessity and not free will. This we associate with irrational animals, or with the lower, “animal” part of man’s nature. Thus, we can speak of a dog “loving” to chase a stick, or even “loving” his master. Or we can speak of a man “loving” his whiskey.

Thirdly, there is intellectual appetite (which is called the will) which arises from the free choice of a spiritual being possessing intellect and free will. This sort of appetite belongs only to spiritual beings.

All of this, as we can see, makes love a very complicated thing. Man possesses love on all three levels, and they interact with one another. It is astonishing to seriously consider the extent and ramifications of our use of the word love. I love God, I love my wife and children, I love to fish, I love pizza, I love my new hat. The lesbian loves her partner, the sadist loves to see people suffer, the ISIS soldier loves to kill Christians.

All of these are real acts of love on one level or another, with tremendously varying degrees of truth, or perversion of the truth, determining what is pursued as “good”. But the fact is that all of these indeed do involve love. What makes love immeasurably complicated is that it runs the gamut from the most unconscious and insensitive part of human nature, through all the passions, and finally to the highest act of love of God. When we combine this with the fact that even the worst evil can be perceived by some people as good, and thus loved, there would seem to be no limit to the number of “loves” possible to the human heart. Love is undoubtedly the most “universal” of words, and therefore the most easily misunderstood, misused, and manipulated of all the words in our English language. Our Lord asked his disciples whether they thought that there would be any faith left when He returns. In light of recent history, this can indeed be seen as a legitimate question. We may be assured, however, that at His coming there will be many loves.

Charity:

Any good Catholic will probably feel repelled by the above analysis of love. It is rightly natural for us as Christians to wish to protect the word “love” from anything “low”. After all, we read in Scripture that God is Love, that God so loved the world that He sent His Son to die for us, and that husbands and wives are to love one another as Christ loves His Church.

Part of the problem, of course, is that in English we have only one word for love (unlike some languages – Greek, for instance). And although this word does have a legitimate, common use in terms of human psychology as analyzed above, Satan has become a master at destroying our language, concepts, and faith through false mixing of all these various “loves”. We therefore find ourselves in dire need of a crystal-clear concept and word which will extract us from this quick-sand of confusion. That word, and concept, is charity. There is only one kind of love which can and should, in terms of Catholic understanding, be called “charity”.

St. Thomas defines charity as “the friendship of man for God”. (ST, II-II, Q.1, A.1). At first, this might seem to us a rather dull definition. We tend to think of friendship as something less than love. This is not true of the friendship between God and man. St. Thomas writes:

“It is written (John 15:15): I will not now call you servants…but My friends. Now this was said to them by reason of nothing else than charity. Therefore charity is friendship.” (Ibid).

To read carefully the entirety of John 15 is to see the nature of this friendship revealed in depth. It entails the elevation of man to the state of fully abiding in the love and truth of God. To raise man to this friendship is the reason why Christ sacrificed Himself on the Cross: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). In the light of this teaching to be found in this chapter of John, the concept of friendship takes on a whole new depth of meaning. It reaches to the greatest depths of God’s love for man. When man responds through conversion, it establishes that state which we term “living in the state of sanctifying grace”. In Thomas’ words, “Charity is the life of the soul, even as the soul is the life of the body.” (Ibid, A.2). Correspondingly, the soul that does not possess charity does not possess sanctifying grace, is not in the state of friendship with God, and is spiritually dead.

As we have seen, love can be defined as an “appetency for the good”. Charity can therefore be identified with the supreme love which seeks God in all things. Thus, in proving that charity is not something which stops at God, but also extends to our neighbor, Thomas writes,

Now the aspect under which our neighbor is to be loved, is God, since what we ought to love in our neighbor is that he may be in God. Hence it is clear that it is specifically the same act whereby we love God, and whereby we love our neighbor. Consequently the habit of charity extends not only to the love of God, but also to the love of our neighbor.” (II-II, Q.25, A.1).

Charity is therefore a supernatural virtue which cannot abide with the darkness of either serious error or mortal sin. Moreover, we cannot speak of exercising charity towards our neighbors unless our primary love is expressed in the effort “that he may be in God.” Towards all those living in the darkness of unbelief or serious error this necessitates our working to convert them to the Catholic Faith. To those living in serious sin it requires our working for their moral conversion. We are friends with neither God nor our neighbor if we ignore, or are silent, in regard to this mandate from Christ.

It is at this point that charity and love can be seen as identical. Charity is constituted as loving God above and in all things, and all things in God. It is also here, therefore, that our language concerning Christian love of our neighbor becomes fully clarified. If, for instance, we examine a Greek-English concordance of the New Testament, we will find that the Greek word that is used for this love of our neighbor is the same as the word for charity. Agapaō is employed for the verb form, to love. Agapē is used for the noun charity. And agapē is defined as that specific form of love which is friendship. All true love of our neighbor therefore becomes identified with that virtue of charity which seeks his friendship in God. And since “it is impossible to please God without faith”, it is impossible to please God without seeking the conversion to the Catholic faith of those who are in mortal sin, or those who do not possess that faith.

There is therefore no charity, or true love of our neighbor in a silence or complicity which lies down in friendship with error and sin. Moreover, we cannot claim to retain our own friendship with Christ if we become advocates of such a silence in pursuit of a false mercy: “Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God?” (James 4:4).

Mercy:

Posing the question as to “Whether Mercy Is the Greatest of Virtues” (II-II, Q.30, A.4), Thomas offers the following conclusion: “The Apostle after saying (Col. Iii, 12): Put ye on…as the elect of God…the bowels of mercy, etc., adds (verse 14): Above all things have charity. Therefore mercy is not the greatest of virtues.”

In accord with the teaching of St. Thomas, we must carefully distinguish mercy as it is proper to God, from that which is proper to man. Mercy can only be considered the greatest of virtues as it is applied to God Who is “greater than all others, surpassed by none and excelling all”. God’s mercy in creating angels and men from nothingness, and his further act of calling them to share in the inner life of the Godhead, can therefore be seen in a light which views mercy as His supreme attribute. This, according to Thomas, is not true for man, “since for him that has anyone above him it is better to be united to that which is above than to supply the defect of that which is beneath. Hence, as regards man who has God above him, charity which unites him to God, is greater than mercy…”

And, Thomas concludes:

“The sum total of the Christian religion consists in mercy, as regards external works: but the inward love of charity whereby we are united to God preponderates over both love and mercy for our neighbor.”

As we have seen, the exercise of mercy “as regards external works” is subject to the rule of charity, while the existence of charity within the human soul is subject to the demands of faith. We therefore have a hierarchy in regard to the virtues we have been examining, and which can be enumerated as follows:

1). Mercy, as practiced by man, must be subjected to the demands of charity (the theological virtue of love). And since charity can only be defined as living in friendship with God in the state of sanctifying grace, any action on our part towards our neighbor which compromises or denies the demands of this friendship represents a false mercy. Such, for instance, would include any agenda to admit the divorced and remarried, homosexuals, or those practicing contraception to sacramental communion. This would constitute sacrilege, and sacrilege is the supreme act by which charity is defiled.

2). Charity itself must be subjected to the demands of faith. As Thomas writes, “charity is the form of faith”, because it is to be identified with that love of God which submits fully to God as He has revealed Himself. There can be no charity where faith is denied, compromised, or hidden behind a wall of silence.

3). In all of this, faith is the “first of the virtues”, because only a mind united to the Revealed Truths of God can be the source of that rectitude of will which expresses itself in charity and friendship with God, and in true love and mercy towards our neighbor.

It may be truly concluded, therefore, that recent efforts in pursuit of a false mercy which seek to de-emphasize the intellectual and doctrinal content of the Faith mask a Satanically-inspired hatred of the soul of man. This does not mean that popes, bishops, priests, religious, or laity who promote such an agenda personally possess this hatred themselves. In order to be effective tools for the accomplishment of this agenda, it is only necessary that they be moved away from certain foundational principles of all Catholic thinking and faith. St. Paul writes: “Yet now he hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unspotted, and blameless before him: If so ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard…’ (Col 1:22-23). The present Pope and many others now in possession of great authority within the Church have been moved away from this gospel and this hope. There is now no charity or mercy in our being silent towards them, or towards what they are now trying to accomplish.

The primary, and very well organized, venue which is being used to force this agenda upon the universal Church is the yearly Synod of Bishops. And since the family is the fundamental unit of both civil society and the Church, it was especially at the 2015 Synod on the Family that the fundamental heresy necessary for the furtherance of this agenda was propagated. We will explore this subject in our next article.

Finally, it must be realized that virtually all the positions of influence (media), money, and power, both in the Church and the world, are now in the hands of the enemy. There is no human solution to what is now befalling us. All that has been (or will be) written here therefore has one purpose: to convince readers that our only solution lies in the supernatural grace which has been promised through the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and that this can be accessed only through fulfillment of Our Lady’s plan. The only question now remaining is whether we will comply with God’s plan through Mary before total chaos descends upon us and those we love. We again, therefore, ask all readers to seriously read our Original Proposal, and to promote what is requested therein.

Please pray the Rosary for the Purification of the Church!

Please spread the word about the Rosary!

The Quintessential Evolutionist

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The Quintessential Evolutionist

 

“Dearly Beloved, think not strange the burning heat which is to try you, As if some new thing happened to you.” (1 Pet. 4:12).

 

It is a very strong tendency, ranging across a broad spectrum of those who would consider themselves to be traditional, orthodox, or conservative Catholics, to erroneously believe that the nightmare which now appears to be overtaking the Church with the Papacy of Pope Francis (and of course also with many others of both the hierarchy and the laity) is an almost complete anomaly – “as if some new thing” is happening to us. The primary effect of this view is that it leads such persons to also believe that in the face of this “burning heat”, the only thing that they are called to do is hunker down, go on with business as usual, and “keep the faith” until all of this passes. They simply do not see that what we are now experiencing was long in the preparing, is the labor of many centuries’ worth of the infidelities of Catholics come to fruition, is now deeply entrenched within the vital energy” of the Church, and that what has now burst open upon the surface of the Mystical Body of Christ is in chastisement for the sins and infidelities of us all.

There is nowhere where this delusion is present more than in the alleged radical contrast which is often drawn between Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. In our recently published article titled, The Mind of Antichrist, we offered an analysis of the manner in which “Pope Emeritus” Benedict XVI’s 2015 interview with Jacques Servais accords with the thinking and agenda of Pope Francis, and also is aligned with the spirit of Antichrist now unfolding within the Church and the world. And in our article on the Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns, we also documented the extraordinary extent to which Pope Benedict’s philosophy and theology was in profound harmony with the evolutionary views of Teilhard de Chardin.

But it is also true that Pope Benedict’s evolutionary views in regard to man, God and His Revelation, and the future of the Church go way back into his youth, and that they in themselves are the fruit of his having absorbed the “scientism” which is the accelerating fruit of many centuries worth of the falling away of Catholic thinkers from the substantial foundations of the Catholic Faith. We must also add that, although such Popes as Paul VI and John Paul II in their rejection of Thomistic metaphysics and embrace of such philosophies as Integral Humanism, Phenomenalism, and Personalism, were certainly precursors to Pope Benedict XVI, it is Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI who must be considered the primary architect in intellectual systemizing of this agenda.

What follows therefore amounts to an analysis of this betrayal of the foundations of the Catholic Faith found throughout Joseph Ratzinger’s writings, homilies, and speeches. It is not offered simply for the sake of providing history, but rather to convince the reader of the depth of the crisis which we now face, and to convince every serious Catholic of the absolute necessity of the united effort in praying the Rosary and seeking the graces of interior purification and conversion which the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church seeks to promote throughout our nation and the universal Church.

 

Evolution: The Key

Creationists have often pointed out that belief in evolution is at the heart of the crisis which faces modern man. I know of no better testimony to this truth than a little booklet titled The Surrender to Secularism (1967 –  The Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation) written by Most Rev. Cuthbert M. O’Gara, former bishop of Yuanling, China. He relates the following:

“When the Communist troops over-ran my diocese they were followed in very short order by the propaganda corps – the civilian branch of the Red forces – an organization, if anything, more disciplined, more zealous, more fanatical, then the People’s Army of Liberation itself. The entire population, city and countryside, was immediately organized into distinctive categories – grade school and high school pupils and teachers (Catholic, Protestant and pagan), merchants, artisans, members of the professions, yes, and even the lowly coolies. Everyone, for a week or more, was forced to attend the seminar specified for his or her proper category and there, willy-nilly in servile submission, listen to the official Communist line.

“Now what, I ask, was the first lesson given to the indoctrinees? One might have supposed that this would have been some pearl of wisdom let drop by Marx, Lenin or Stalin. Such however was not the case. The first, the fundamental, lesson given was man’s descent from the ape – Darwinism! …. Darwinism negates God, the human soul, the after-life. Into this vacuum Communism enters as the be-all and the end-all of the intellectual slavery it has created. In the Red prison in which I was held, the slogan, ‘Bring your mind over to us and all your troubles will end,” was hammered into the minds of the prisoners with brutal and numbing monotony. Nothing but a groveling holocaust of the human person can satiate the lust for dominance of Peking’s Red Regime.”

Bishop O’Gara goes on to state and offer evidence for the fact that all forms of atheism, including the militant forms of secularism which rule our modern societies, demand this holocaust of the human person. It matters little whether we are dealing with Communism, Socialism, Nazism, abortion, the whole secular culture of perversity and death, the exclusion of God from public education, the crisis within the Church, or a whole host of other individual and social agendas – all are intimately related, and have as a powerful causative factor, belief in Darwinian Evolution.

We also need to emphasize that the destructive effect of evolutionary theory is not only manifested by its effect upon man’s concept of himself as simply a glorified animal (with all the degrading consequences that this implies), but also in terms of “Social Darwinism” which, in one form or another, now perceives the evolutionary future to be manipulable and controllable by man himself. The 20th century was strewn with hundreds of millions of victims of such plans for “social engineering” (Communism, Nazism, the world-wide agenda of Planned Parenthood and the population policies of the UN). And the 21st century opened with the prospect and reality of such technology now being applied to the deepest structures of human genetics and life.

All this is terrifying. And yet we would suggest that evolutionary thinking and theory is capable of penetrating even further into the soul of man, and has in fact already done so.

Most of those involved in the Catholic creationist movement are well aware that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI believes in evolution. Few, however, appear to be aware of the depths to which evolutionary thinking has penetrated into the philosophy and theology of Joseph Ratzinger. It will be the purpose of this article to explore this depth through examination of his writings.

We will sometimes be using his lay name (most often for his earlier works as a priest or bishop), or at other times designating his status as Bishop, Cardinal, or Pope. What is most important to understand, however, is that Pope Benedict made it quite clear that his thinking on all the essentials has remained fundamentally the same over all the years stemming from the beginning of his priesthood up to the time of his becoming Pope and that, as documented in our article The Mind of Antichrist, it is now fully in accord with this evolutionary agenda which is now being imposed upon the Church.

 

Revelation as Relationship

In his 1998 book Milestones (Memoirs 1927-1977), Cardinal Ratzinger writes about his own intellectual development. In discussing his preparation for his habilitation (the degree which qualifies a Person to hold a chair in a German university – obtained by writing a book proposing and defending a thesis, which is then judged by an academic committee), he writes:

At this time the idea of salvation history had moved to the focus of inquiry posed by Catholic theology and this had cast new light on the notion of revelation, which neoscholasticism had kept too confined to the intellectual realm. Revelation now appeared no longer simply as a communication of truths to the intellect but as a historical action of God in which truth becomes gradually unveiled. Therefore, I was to try to discover whether in Bonaventure there was anything corresponding to the concept of salvation history, and whether this motif – if it should exist – had any relationship with the idea of revelation.”(p.104)

Three pages later he reaches the following conclusion:

I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of ‘revelation’, by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as ‘revelation’. Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. Here, ‘revelation’ is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act [read “Dogma”]. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of ‘revelation’.”

Before entering into a discussion of these passages it is necessary to state that the basic thesis presented here – that the High Middle Ages (the 13th century) knew nothing of a concept of Revelation as being constituted by “all the revealed contents of the faith”, which are revealed by God to the intellect of man, is simply not true. St. Thomas, who represents the essence of 13th century theology, writes:

It was necessary for man’s salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God, besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: The eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for Thee (Isa. lxvi. 4). But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. (ST, Pt. I, Q.1, A.1.)

The reader should notice that the above quote from St. Thomas comes from the very first Article in Question I of Part I of the Summa Theologica. St. Thomas was concerned to immediately establish the absolute foundation upon which our faith is founded – Objective Revelation. In fact, in the very first line of his reply found in the Second Article, he quotes St. Augustine:

“Augustine says (De Trin. Xiv. 1), to this science alone belongs that whereby saving faith is begotten, nourished, protected, and strengthened. But this can be said of no science except sacred doctrine. Therefore sacred doctrine is a science.”

Returning now to Joseph Ratzinger’s statements from his memoirs, we need to extract the essential thesis: “Revelation now appeared no longer simply as a communication of truths to the intellect but as a historical action of God in which truth becomes gradually unveiled.” And, as a corollary to this astounding statement, we need to place the following: The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act [read “Dogma”]. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of ‘revelation’.”

What is embraced here is a theological position which places evolution at the very heart of the nature of truth as known and embraced by man. What is more, it places evolution as the modus operandi of God’s evolving revelation to man. Revelation, in Joseph Ratzinger’s view, is always primarily “act” and not “object” because it is not fundamentally a matter of the revelation of God’s Immutable Being and the Truths concerning that Being, but rather an expression of the ever-evolving relationship between God and man. This is why, in the above quotation, Joseph Ratzinger concludes that “the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of ‘revelation’. Consequently, for Joseph Ratzinger and the new theologians, “relationship” has replaced Being (and the “Truth” of Being) as the fundamental concept in philosophy and theology. If truth is an historical process of gradual “unveiling”, rather than the revelation of immutable dogma in a Deposit of Faith, then truth is not constituted by the possession of objective certainty, but rather an evolutionary experience between God and man. Revelation, in other words, is evolving relationship. Any dogmatic formulations must also therefore be subject to change or, in the terminology of Joseph Ratzinger, “essentialization.”

 

Why?

The reader naturally should be puzzled. What possible motive could someone like Joseph Ratzinger have for wanting to make Revelation and Truth into evolving phenomena? It has been our contention woven throughout previous articles that the primary motivation for such aberrations is the perceived necessity to bring the faith into line with reductive physical science. Joseph Ratzinger gives extraordinary testimony to this thesis in his book Introduction to Christianity (1968). We do well to note that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a new 19 page preface for the Ignatius Press 1990 English edition of this work in which he re-affirms the book’s essential contents.

After discussing what he claims to be contradictory elements in the doctrine of the Trinity, Father Ratzinger went on to state the following:

The Jansenist Saint-Cyran once made the thought-provoking remark that faith consists of a series of contradictions held together by grace [author’s note: We do well here to remember de Lubac’s statement that “paradox exists everywhere in reality, before existing in thought…. Oppositions in thought express the contradiction which is the very stuff of creation.” This notion that contradiction is the very fabric of created reality is extremely popular in Modernistic theology and philosophy. It is this theological position which facilitates Modernism being the “synthesis of all heresies”, since many heresies are obviously in contradiction to one another]. He thereby expressed in the realm of theology a discovery that today in physics, as the law of complementarity, belongs to the realm of scientific thought. The physicist is becoming increasingly aware today that we cannot embrace given realities – the structure of light, for example, or of matter in general – in ‘one’ form of experiment and in ‘one’ form of statement; that, on the contrary, from different sides we glimpse different aspects, which cannot be traced back to each other. We have to take the two together – say, the structure of particle and wave – without being able to find a comprehensive explanation – as a provisional assessment of the whole, which is not accessible to us as a unified whole because of the restrictions implicit in our point of view. What is true here in the physical realm as a result of the limitations in our ability to observe is true to an incomparably greater degree of the spiritual realities of God. Here, too, we can always look from one side and so grasp only one particular aspect, which seems to contradict the other, yet only when combined with it is a pointer to the whole, which we are incapable of stating or grasping. Only by circling round, by looking and describing from different, apparently contrary angles can we succeed in alluding to the truth, which is never visible to us in its totality.” (p.173-74).

Father Ratzinger does not leave us totally in the realm of the abstract. The doctrine which he is specifically discussing, and to which he applies these criteria of understanding, is the Trinity. He first informs us that dogmatic terms used to define the Trinity (he specifically mentions the terms persona, homousious, and the concept of “proceeding.”) were all once condemned as being heretical. He then states: “One must say, I think, that these condemnations of the later formulas of faith form an intimate part of them: it is only through the negation, and the infinite indirectness implicit in it, that they are usable. The doctrine of the Trinity is only possible as a piece of baffled theology, so to speak.”

We need to understand the profound distortion contained in this passage. The theological concepts mentioned by Fr. Ratzinger were all condemned when used falsely or confusedly. However, any honest historical examination of this subject reveals the nature and sources of such confusion, while at the same time it also reveals the profound aptness and intellectual acuteness of the final employment of these terms in formulating doctrinal definitions concerning the Trinity. Thus, when used rightly in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, they are not in any way mere pieces of “baffled theology,” but are technical theological terms which profoundly reveal truths which supply us with very real and essential, if limited, positive knowledge of the Trinity.

Having said this, let us proceed with Father Ratzinger’s analysis of the role which modern physics plays in our contemporary understanding of the faith:

The intellectual approach of modern physics may offer us more help here than Aristotelian philosophy was able to give. Physicists know today that one can only talk about the structure of matter by approaching the subject from various angles. They know that the position of the observer at any one time affects the result of his investigation of nature. Why should we not be able to understand afresh, on this basis, that in the question of God we must not look, in the Aristotelian fashion [and, obviously, criticism of St. Thomas is also here intended], for an ultimate concept encompassing the whole but must be prepared to find a multitude of aspects that depend on the position of the observer and that we can no longer survey as a whole but only accept alongside each other, without being able to say the final word on the subject? We meet here the hidden interplay of faith and modern thought. That present-day physicists are stepping outside the structure of Aristotelian logic and thinking in this way is surely an effect already of the new dimension that Christian theology has opened up, of its need to think in ‘complementarities’ [which, as Fr. Ratzinger has already noted, are often contrary to one another and are therefore also “contradictories”].

“In this connection I should like to mention briefly two other aids to thought provided by physics. E. Schrõdinger has defined the structure of matter as ‘parcels of waves’ and thereby hit upon the idea of a being that has no substance but is purely actual, whose apparent ‘substantiality’ really results only from the pattern of movement of superimposed waves. In the realm of matter such a suggestion may well be physically, and in any case philosophically, highly contestable. But it remains an exciting simile for the actualitas divina, for the idea that God is absolutely ‘in act’ (and not ‘in potency’), and for the idea that the densest being – God – can subsist only in a multitude of relations, which are not substances but simply ‘waves’, and therein form a perfect unity and also the fullness of being….” ( Ibid, p. 176-77)

And, having dissolved all substantiality in our concept of God, Father Ratzinger then moves on to denying the possibility of our possessing any purely objective knowledge of God:

We know today that in a physical experiment the observer himself enters into the experiment and only by doing so can arrive at a physical experience. This means that there is no such thing as pure objectivity even in physics, that even here the result of the experiment, nature’s answer, depends on the question put to it. In the answer there is always a bit of the question and a bit of the questioner himself; it reflects not only nature in itself, in its pure objectivity, but also gives back something of man, of what is characteristically ours, a bit of the human subject. This too, mutatis mutandis, is true of the question of God. There is no such thing as pure objectivity. One can even say that the higher an object stands in human terms, the more it penetrates the center of individuality; and the more it engages the beholders individuality, then the smaller the possibility of the mere distancing involved in pure objectivity.” (p. 175).

We can only add that, since God is by definition infinitely “higher”, then according to Joseph Ratzinger’s criteria there can be no “objectivity” whatsoever in our understanding of God . He must always remain totally baffling to us.

The great tragedy of all this is that if Joseph Ratzinger had taken seriously God’s Word in the Old Testament, and had dutifully followed the mandates of earlier Popes concerning the absolute centrality of St. Thomas in priestly studies, none of this prostitution to the silliness of the modern scientific worldview would have been necessary. In the Books of Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiasticus, we read:

Nothing may be taken away, nor added, neither is it possible to find out the glorious works of God: When a man hath done, then shall he begin: and when he leaveth off, he shall be at a loss.” (Ecclus 28:5-6).

For the works of the Highest only are wonderful, and his works are glorious, secret, and hidden.” (Ecclus 11:4).

“And I understood that man can find no reason of all those works of God that are done under the sun: and the more he shall labor to seek, so much the less shall he find: yea, though the wise man shall say, that he knoweth it, he shall not be able to find it.”                                                                                                                 (Eccl 8:17).

In other words, what the research of modern physics has shown is that it is absolutely impossible for it to penetrate to an understanding of the nature of any created substance. This is so because any analytical science deals only with “accidental” (quantified) reality. The pride of the secular scientist, in other words, necessarily leads him to that state of intellectual confusion which reveals his fundamental ignorance.

A serious study of the cosmology and metaphysics of St. Thomas, on the other hand, would have led Fr. Ratzinger to the wonderfully liberating understanding that the substantial nature of something is what it is simply because God created it as such out of nothing, and that he created our intellects in such a way that our common-sense perception of created substances is normally very reliable because it is a created participation in the light of God’s understanding.

In other words, contrary to the opinion and false science of Joseph Ratzinger, we already know a great deal about God. And this, despite the fact that there is infinitely more to know.

 

Moderate Modernism

Our analysis of the writings of Joseph Ratzinger, up to this point, has revealed that he has subjected his theological and philosophical thinking to the influence of reductive analytical physics, and that this surrender appears to have necessitated the denial of traditional Catholic teaching in three main areas: the denial of substance; the denial of the law of self-contradiction; and the denial of the nature of dogma as objective, unchanging truth.

The last-mentioned denial – the denial that truth is immutable and non-evolving – is a direct consequence of the belief enshrined in the quote from Father Ratzinger which I offered earlier: “Revelation now appeared no longer simply as a communication of truths to the intellect but as a historical action of God in which truth becomes gradually unveiled.” This is in direct contradiction to the teaching of Vatican Council I:

For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention, to be perfected by human ingenuity; but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence also, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our hold Mother the Church has once declared; nor is that meaning ever to be departed from, under the pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.”

The Oath Against Modernism contained the following affirmation:

Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.”

We can know with certainty that Joseph Ratzinger took this oath. We can know with equal certainty that he has violated it in its deepest meaning.

It is necessary at this point to understand something about Modernism. Pius X distinguished between a full-blown Modernism which was wholly immanentistic and, on the other hand, lesser forms of “moderate” Modernism. The “pure” form of Modernism locates the evolution of religious truth totally within human consciousness. Such full-blown Modernism is, in essence, pure pantheism. However, there are other forms of moderate Modernism which, while embodying many of the same principles as this form of extreme Modernism, do not embody “pure” immanentism.

We must not make the mistake, however, in believing that these forms of moderate Modernism are any less dangerous. In fact, the opposite is the case. The “pure” Modernist is, in many ways, easier to recognize. The evolutionary nature of the truth which he preaches is much easier understood as a derivative of pantheism. The methodology of the moderate Modernist, on the other hand, is much more subtle. While claiming to recognize the distinct existence of a transcendent God, he yet denies to this God the Revelation which is contained in a fully contained and closed Deposit of Faith, the contents of which were completed upon the death of the last Apostle. Instead, he makes of God Himself the Supreme Agent in the evolutionary process. And most important, he makes God to be the evolutionary agent not only of physical evolution, but of intellectual, moral, and spiritual evolution. In other words, He makes God to be the prime agent of the evolution of Truth and Dogma. Such is the Modernism of Joseph Ratzinger.

One other thing needs to be said at this point about the particular form of moderate Modernism embraced by Joseph Ratzinger, and for this we need to understand something quite peculiar and seemingly contradictory about the Modernist mentality.

Statements concerning Catholic doctrine can be found in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger which sound quite orthodox, and which appear to flatly contradict other very unorthodox pronouncements made elsewhere on the same subject. In the first case, he appears to be embracing traditional explanations of Catholic doctrine;. In the second, he appears to be negating these same traditional explanations. Interestingly enough, Pope Pius X specifically points out in Pascendi Domenici Gregis that such “double-mindedness”, and exposition of contrary doctrines, is something inherent in the Modernist mentality.

We must not conclude that since a Modernist believes in the evolution of doctrine that doctrine is not important to him. Evolution depends upon both stability and change. It is a dialectical process which requires both a thesis and an antithesis – both the forces of conservativism and radicalism. The Modernist plays both parts and, what is more, he believes it is necessary to do so. Without conservativism there is chaos, and no real evolutionary progress is possible in chaos. Doctrine and Dogma represent this conservative principle, closely tied to authority, within the Church. As Pius X said, the Modernist seeks not to destroy authority, but to stimulate it.

When we apply this evolutionary principle of the dialectic to the realm of truth and dogma we come to see the “logic” of the Modernist duplicity. Pius X attributes this duplicity to the mutual separation which the Modernist makes between science and faith. When addressing fellow intellectuals, for instance, he readily plays the rationalist and radical. But when addressing the faithful from the pulpit he may preach Catholic doctrine very clearly. To the Modernist this duplicity involves no real dishonesty simply because such dialectical “contradictories” between science and faith are necessary to that process of growth which demands the constant purification which science effects in our understanding of religious truth.

The above explanation offers a general analysis of Modernist “duplicity” in regard to doctrine. However, in considering the “modified” Modernism of Joseph Ratzinger, we are faced with an additional peculiarity. Fully believing in Christ, and the fact that Christ founded the Catholic Church, while at the same time believing that there is never any pure objectivity in our knowledge of the truth and that truth is constantly evolving, Father Ratzinger is faced with the question of explaining the role of doctrine in the life of the Church and the individual believer. The following passage from Introduction to Christianity ( p. 96-98) constitutes his answer:

Our consideration of the history of the Apostles’ Creed has led us to the recognition that here, in the baptismal formulary, Christian doctrine stands before us in its original shape and, thus, also in its primitive form, what we today call “dogma.” Originally there was no such thing as a series of doctrinal propositions that could be enumerated one after another and entered in a book as a well-defined body of dogmas. Such a notion, which today may be difficult to resist, would have to be described as a misconception of the nature of the Christian assent to the God revealed in Christ [out the window goes the Baltimore Catechism, not to mention the Dogmatic Decrees of the Council of Trent].The content of the Christian faith has its inalienable place in the context of the profession of faith, which is, as we saw, in the form of assent and renunciation, a conversion, an about-turn of human existence into a new direction of life. In other words, Christian doctrine does not exist in the form of discrete propositions but in the unity of the ‘symbolum’, as the ancient Church called the baptismal profession of faith. This is probably the moment to look rather more closely at the meaning of this word. ‘Symbolum’ comes from ‘symballein’, meaning in English: to come together, to throw together. The background to the word’s etymology is an ancient usage: two corresponding halves of a ring, a staff, or a tablet were used as tokens of identity for guests, messengers, or partners to a treaty. Possession of the corresponding piece entitled the holder to receive a thing or simply to hospitality. A ‘symbolum’ is something that points to its complementary other half and thus creates mutual recognition and unity. It is the expression and means of unity.

“Thus in the description of the creed or profession of faith as the ‘symbolum’ we have at the same time a profound interpretation of its true nature. For in fact this is just what the original meaning or aim of dogmatic formulations in the Church was: to facilitate a common profession of faith in God, common worship of him. As ‘sym-bolum’, it points to the other person, the unity of spirit in the one Word. To this extent, dogma (or symbol, respectively) is also always, as Rahner has rightly pointed out, an arrangement of words that from a purely intellectual point of view could have been quite different yet, precisely as a form of words, has its own significance – that of uniting people in the community of the confessing word. It is not a piece of doctrine standing isolated in and for itself but is the form of our worship of God.…”

One and one-half paragraphs later, he draws the astounding conclusion:

This discovery also points, it is true, in another direction: even the Church herself, as a whole, still holds the faith only as a ‘symbolum’, as a broken half, which signifies truth only in its endless reference to something beyond itself, to the entirely Other. It is only through the infinitely broken nature of the symbol that faith presses forward as man’s continual effort to go beyond himself and reach up to God.”

The Church, sent by Christ, is the formulator of creeds and symbolum. If the creed, and the truths it contains, is always a broken thing and incomplete, always in “endless reference to something other”, always something which “could have been quite different”, then this is justification for the Church herself to be considered the supreme agent of doctrinal change and evolution. And the Pope becomes the master change-agent and essentializer.

It is profoundly tragic that Fr. Ratzinger never seems to have understood the real and very profound nature of the symbolum. Our confession of faith is called a symbolum not because doctrine is always a broken and incomplete thing, but rather because we are broken. The subjection of our minds and hearts to the objective truth which constitutes the creed and other revealed truths of our faith is what heals our brokenness and ushers us into union with God. It is Revealed, purely-objective Truth, which not only sets us free, but makes us whole. The past fifty-five years of chaos in the Church are the fruit of having rejected this simple fact.

 

The Three Stages of Intellectual Evolution

For Joseph Ratzinger, the guided (by God) evolutionary growth of truth has, up to the present time, come in the form of three stages. In his 1970 book, Faith and the Future, Fr. Ratzinger adopts the threefold stages of evolutionary intellectual growth proposed by August Comte:

Over a hundred years ago the French philosopher and sociologist August Comte distinguished three phases in the historical evolution of human thought: the theological-fictive; the metaphysical-abstract; the positive [the scientific].” (p.3)

It is clear, indeed, that Fr. Ratzinger personally adopts this belief. In Introduction to Christianity, he makes the simple affirmation: “If by means of the historical knowledge we enjoy today we survey the road taken by the human spirit so far as it is visible to us, we shall observe that in the various periods of this spirit’s development there are various basic attitudes towards reality – the magical, the metaphysical, and finally today the scientific (‘scientific’ here being used in the sense in which we speak of the natural sciences).” With a slight variation in terminology, these are obviously the same three stages proposed by August Comte.

These three stages correspond roughly to three historical periods. The first, the “theological-fictive (“magical”), corresponds in Western Judaeo-Christian history to both Old and New Testament times up until the emergence of metaphysical thinking. The second, the “metaphysical-abstract” applies, obviously, to metaphysical speculation, and especially to scholastic philosophy and theology (but also to Greek thought, especially Aristotle). The “positive” or “scientific” stage of thinking is self-explanatory, and is the dominating intellectual state of our current situation.

 

The Theological-Fictive Stage

Science, according to Joseph Ratzinger and the historical-critical method of exegesis, has shown us clearly the degree to which scripture is largely composed of human fabrications expressive of the theological-fictive or magical mindset of those persons who composed the scriptures. Because of the primitive intellectual state of these peoples, we are therefore required – in order to distinguish between what is truly from God and what is of human invention – to distinguish between form and content in any particular passage of scripture. Content can simply be defined to be the “spiritual” message which God wishes to pass on to us, while form is constituted by all the rest which is conditioned by particular historical circumstances, literary genres, etc.

Thus, in Faith and the Future, Cardinal Ratzinger applies this historical-critical method to the first 3 chapters of the Book of Genesis:

The difficulty begins with the very first page of the Bible. The concept presented there of how the world came to be, is in direct contradiction of all that we know today about the origins of the universe….And the problem continues, almost page by page….in the very next chapter new problems emerge with the story of the Fall. How can one bring this into harmony with the knowledge that – on the evidence of natural science – man starts not from above, but from below, does not fall, but slowly rises, even now having only just accomplished the metamorphosis from animal to human being? And what of paradise? Long before man existed, pain and death were in the world. Thistles and thorns grew long before any man had set eyes on them. And another thing: the first man was scarcely self-conscious, knew only privation and the wearisome struggle to survive. He was far from possessing the full endowment of reason, which the old doctrine of paradise attributes to him. But once the picture of paradise and the Fall has been broken in pieces, the notion of original sin goes with it, to be followed logically, it would seem, by the notion of redemption as well.” (page 5-7.)

It is certainly no wonder, therefore, that Cardinal Ratzinger, in his book In the Beginning…A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, labeled the term original sin as a “certainly imprecise and misleading term”, and then proceeded to describe it as something which is contracted after birth through our relationships with others, and therefore through imitation, rather than it being something inherited at the moment of conception through generation.

Following is an example of Cardinal Ratzinger’s use of the ”form-content” Modernist methodology to bring the Genesis account into subjection to modern science:

“One answer was already worked out some time ago, as the scientific view of the world was gradually crystallizing; many of you probably came across it in your religious instruction. It says that the Bible is not a natural science textbook, nor does it intend to be such. It is a religious book, and consequently one cannot obtain information about the natural sciences from it. One cannot get from it a scientific explanation of how the world arose; one can only glean religious experience from it. Anything else is an image and a way of describing things whose aim is to make profound realities graspable to human beings. One must distinguish between the form of portrayal and the content that is portrayed. The form would have been chosen from what was understandable at the time – from the images which surrounded the people who lived then, which they used in speaking and in thinking, and thanks to which they were able to understand the greater realities. And only the reality [content] that shines through these images would be what was intended and what was truly enduring” (In the Beginning…A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, p. 4-5).

Cardinal Ratzinger applies this historical-critical method to the creation account in Genesis. According to the Cardinal, the Genesis account was written during the Babylonian exile. It was written in response to the Babylonian creation account of Enuma Elish, which he describes in the following passage:

There it is said that the world was produced out of a struggle between opposing powers and that it assumed its form when Marduk, the god of light, appeared and split in two the body of the primordial dragon. From this sundered body heaven and earth came to be. Thus the firmament and the earth were produced from the sundered body of the dead dragon, but from its blood Marduk fashioned human beings. It is a foreboding picture of the world and of humankind that we encounter here: The world is a dragon’s body; and human beings have dragon’s blood in them. At the very origin of the world lurks something sinister, and in the deepest part of humankind there lies something rebellious, demonic, and evil.” (Ibid, p.12).

The Biblical account, according to Cardinal Ratzinger, was written to counter these ideas – to show that the origin of man and all of creation lay not in evil but rather in the loving goodness of God. This is what constitutes the “content” which is truly enduring (and thus, presumably, the only truly inspired element) in the Genesis account. All the rest can be seen as merely “form” expressing the historically conditioned myths of the people of that time. Thus, apparently, we do not have to take seriously the six-day creation account, the creation of Adam from the dust of the earth, the creation of Eve out of Adam’s rib, the description of the Garden of Eden, the state of original innocence and integrity, the literal temptation by Satan, the Fall, the description of the effects of original sin, etc.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Cardinal Ratzinger felt impelled to undermine the whole Biblical tradition strongly re-enforced by the Popes of the 19th and first part of the 20th century, which taught the inerrancy and historical accuracy of all of scripture. In his presentation of the CDF document on The Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian (1990), the Cardinal wrote:

The text also presents the various forms of binding authority which correspond to the grades of the Magisterium. It states – perhaps for the first time with such candor – that there are magisterial decisions which cannot be the final word on a given matter as such but, despite the permanent value of their principles, are chiefly also a signal for pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional policy. Their kernel remains valid, but the particulars determined by circumstances can stand in need of correction. In this connection, one will probably call to mind both the pontifical statements of the last century regarding freedom of religion and the anti-Modernist decisions of the beginning of this century, especially the decisions of the then Biblical Commission….with respect to particular aspects of their content, they were superseded after having fulfilled their pastoral function in the situation of the time.” (from The Nature and Mission of Theology, p.106).

It certainly stretches Catholic imagination to understand how fundamental decisions by previous Popes in regard to the interpretation of the Bible can be “provisional policies.” In order to do so one has to believe that truth itself can be “provisional.” We need only add at this point that the Cardinal’s agenda in regard to “essentializing” previous magisterial teachings was repeated after he became Pope in his Dec 22, 2005 address to the Roman Curia.

 

The Metaphysical-Abstract Stage

Having thus shown how Joseph Ratzinger and other Modernist theologians work to bring the theological-fictive world of the Bible up to date in accordance with the mandate of modern science, we now proceed to the evolutionary phase of the metaphysical-abstract.

The most serious problem posed for the Modernist in his attempt to promote the idea of the evolution of dogma is the fact that absolutely key dogmas are encapsulated in metaphysical language which is defined very precisely. We have already examined Father Ratzinger’s attempt to effectively dissolve this precision in his treatment of Trinitarian language and concepts: specifically the concepts of “one-in-Being” (homousious), “Person”, and “Procession”. Even more problematic is the dogma of Transubstantiation which, because it necessitates a particular understanding of “substance”, constitutes an invasion into the world of physics. Thus, the problem is stated succinctly by Father Ratzinger in Faith and the Future:

“Jumping over all the other affirmations of the Patristic age, that present obstacles to us today, let us take but a single example from medieval dogma, one that recently has aroused much interest: the doctrine of transubstantiation, of the essential change of the eucharistic offerings. As it is, the subtle meaning of this definition can be represented by the ordinary intellect only in a rough and ready manner, so that what is indicated is bound to seem for ever unattainable, especially as there is the additional difficulty, that the medieval concept of substance has long since become inaccessible to us. In so far as we use the concept of substance at all today we understand thereby the ultimate particles of matter, and the chemically complex mixture that is bread certainly does not fall into that category.” (Faith and the Future, p. 14).

In other words, we have here an intractable situation. As we have already seen, the Modernist is backed into the proverbial corner by the teaching of Vatican I which states that neither the formulations nor meanings of defined dogma can be altered. If these dogmas are to be subjected to evolutionary change, therefore, we are faced with the necessity of changing the very meaning of dogma itself, including the last-mentioned dogma of Vatican I which states that they cannot be changed. We are, in other words, faced with changing the very nature of faith itself.

 

The Positivistic Stage

Changing the Meaning of Faith

The third stage in the evolution of human thought, the one which we are in right now, and which has made necessary the “essentialization” of the other two historical periods of human spirituality and thought, is the “positivistic,” or scientific, stage. This is the stage which, according to Fr. Ratzinger, is the defining mentality of our age:

It seems incontrovertible that today the mentality described by Comte is that of a very large section of human society. The question about God no longer finds any place in human thought. To take up a well-known saying of Laplace, the context of the world is self-contained and the hypothesis of God is no longer necessary for its comprehension. Even the faithful, like travelers on a sinking ship, are becoming widely affected by an uneasy feeling: they are asking if the Christian faith has any future, or if it is not, in fact, more and more obviously being made obsolete by intellectual evolution. Behind such notions is the sense that a great gulf is developing between the world of faith and the world of science – a gulf that cannot be bridged, so that faith is made very largely impracticable.” (Ibid, p. 4-5)

Because of this “gulf” which exists between the traditional faith and the world of science, Father Ratzinger informs us that the “plethora of definitions” which the Church has “accumulated in the course of history” has become a “burden.” The irreconcilable nature of such dogmas with the modern positivistic and scientific intellectual consciousness makes the traditional content of the faith “oppressive” to the modern believer. Thus we are faced with the supposed necessity of either setting aside these doctrines as historically provisional, or of engaging in a task of “essentialization” which seeks to determine what constitutes the “content” behind the “form” of such definitions, and therefore altering the traditional understanding of the terms used in these definitions. This, of course, is precisely what Cardinal Ratzinger did in regard to the terms “original sin” and “transubstantiation.”

We must pause at this moment to understand the broader implications of these teachings. Any truly “sensitive” Catholic, if he accepts the truth of Joseph Ratzinger’s analysis and conclusions, should feel betrayed not only by the Church but also by God. This betrayal is multi-leveled. The Bible, which for two thousand years was considered to be inspired and a totally reliable source of truths on all levels of man’s existence is now shredded of virtually all meaning except the symbolical and the allegorical. Catholic dogma which was the absolute sure foundation of faith, and especially catechetical instruction of the young, is now to be essentialized, even to the point of self-contradiction. But even more important the entire traditional understanding of the epistemological structure of the human intellect has now been negated

At the core of all traditional Catholic understanding of both Who God is, and also the nature of man, lies the fundamental Biblical idea that man is created in the image of God with an intellect and will that truly reflect, through the analogy of being, God’s intellect and will.

St. Thomas is very specific in this regard. He writes:

We must needs say that the human soul knows all things in the eternal types, since by participation of these types we know all things. For the intellectual light itself which is in us, is nothing else than a participated likeness of the uncreated light, in which are created the eternal types.” (Pt. I, Q. 84, A.5).

The world of St. Thomas (and therefore the world of traditional Catholicism) is a trustworthy world, because it is a world in which man – his senses, mind and heart – are intimately connected to and reflective of Who God is, and also basically reliable in their knowledge of His creation. It is under such conditions of reliability and correspondence to an objective order of Truth, that trust truly takes root, and hope flourishes.

The world of Joseph Ratzinger, on the other hand, is one in which the disconnect between the human intellect and objective reality and truth is a fundamentally proven fact of historical evolution. It is one in which there appears to be little harmony between human perception and objective reality. The obvious logical conclusion of postulating such a world is that God created man with an intellect oriented towards delusion – towards the perception of shadows that mask reality.

We were led by God and His Church for 2,000 years to believe in creation ex nihilo, in the unique creation of man with a spiritual soul, in an original Paradise free from death and sin, in original sin, in Noah and his ark, in the divine inspiration present in every word of scripture, in sanctifying grace, and in transubstantiation. We are now told these are the “forms” of particular stages in the evolution of human consciousness which must be abandoned or essentialized because they were only provisional expressions of truths which always go beyond the ability of the human intellect to grasp. And it is in the midst of this world of delusions that Fr. Ratzinger asks us now to forget about God and reality as being knowable, and informs us that our new form of faith is not to be founded in knowledge, but rather in trust (we shall examine this point in a moment). One is left with the inevitable question: Why should a man or woman trust such a God?

Having apparently shredded the objective content (defined dogmas) of the faith, Fr. Ratzinger goes on to tell us that there was one thing however which August Comte failed to understand or foresee: namely, that the world of science would also prove to be oppressive, and that man would continue “yearning for faith.” Modern man, now “a prisoner of his own methods” [and an intellectual prisoner of reductive scientific knowledge], longs for a form of faith which will not contradict science, but at the same time will liberate him from the oppressive reductionism of science. We might say that Joseph Ratzinger has spent his entire adult life trying to supply an answer to this yearning, and that his agenda of “essentialization” is entirely devoted to this goal.

His answer, in Faith and the Future, runs as follows:

The basic form of Christian faith is not: I believe something [particular content or doctrine], but I believe you. Faith is a disclosure of reality that is granted only to him who trusts, loves, and acts as a human being; and as such it is not a derivative of knowledge, but is sui generis, like knowledge, although it is indeed more basic and more central to our authentically human nature than knowledge is.

This insight has important consequences; and these can be liberating, if taken seriously. For this means that faith is not primarily a colossal edifice of numerous supernatural facts [we can only understand this demeaning phrase to refer to the Deposit of Faith], standing like a curious second order of knowledge alongside the realm of science, but an ascent to God who gives us hope and confidence. Obviously this assent to God is not without content: it is confidence in the fact that he has revealed himself in Christ and that we may now live safe in the assurance that God is like Jesus of Nazareth, in the certainty, that is, that God is looking after the world – and me in it. We will have to consider this definition of content more closely in the next chapter. It is already clear, however, that the content is not comparable with a system of knowledge, but represents the form of our trust.” ( p. 20-21).

In other words, the real content of our Faith is not to be identified with the Deposit of Faith. Joseph Ratzinger is absolutely emphatic on this point which is the cornerstone of his new approach to the Faith:

Let us repeat: at its core faith is not a system of knowledge, but trust. Christian faith is: ‘the discovery of a You….” (Ibid, p.24)

Further, this “discovery of a You” can be fully redemptive without requiring assent to the “content” (dogmas) of the faith:

A man remains a Christian as long as he makes the effort to give the central assent, as long as he tries to utter the fundamental Yes of trust, even if he is unable to fit in or resolve many of the details [which, of course, are constituted by the Church’s infallible teachings on faith and morals]….As long as this core remains in place, a man is living by faith, even if for the moment he finds many of the details of faith obscure and impracticable.[this, of course, means that he cannot or will not practice them].” (Ibid, p. 24-25)

At this point I think we need to understand how much this way of thinking is integral to Pope Benedict XVI. We may have been surprised that the subject of his second encyclical was Hope. It should not have surprised us at all, however, if we had understood this basic structure of his thinking – a structure which entailed the overturning of virtually all the intellectual content (doctrine) of our faith in favor of a faith rooted not in knowledge, but rather in hope and trust. For Pope Benedict XVI, “‘hope’ is equivalent to ‘faith’.” (Spe Salvi, #2). There is no way, however, in which this “hope” of Benedict XVI can be seen as necessarily related to an ascent to all the previously defined doctrines of the Church.

To understand how wrong all this, we need the help of St. Thomas. Thomas teaches us that hope is an act of the will (the intellectual appetency) which, like all acts of the will, is a choice based on knowledge which resides in the intellect. Now, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” (Heb 11:1). The knowledge which we call faith is, in other words, not ordinary knowledge. It does not originate through the senses or in our own thinking, but rather through Revelation and Sacred Doctrine. In speaking of Sacred Doctrine as a science, St. Thomas quotes St. Augustine:

To this science alone belongs that whereby saving faith is begotten, nourished, protected, and strengthened.” (ST, Pt. I, Q.1, A.2)

Hope, in other words, is totally rooted in Faith as its substance, and Faith is rooted in the content of what God has revealed to us. This is why in order to possess Catholic faith, submission to all the defined doctrines of our faith is necessary. Faith is constituted by a submission of both intellect and will to the Sacred Deposit of Faith which God has revealed to us through His Church. Because all doctrine is not, and cannot, be fully understood does not mean that this submission is, or should be, or may be, any less. Faith is not, therefore, equivalent to hope, but rather its requisite. And contrary to what Fr. Ratzinger said in regard to a man remaining a Christian despite the fact that he may “find many of the details of faith obscure and           impracticable” (read: cannot be used, accepted or practiced), the absolute obligation to accept the entire Deposit of Faith in order to retain Catholic Faith is still imperative. St. Thomas writes:

Just as mortal sin is contrary to charity, so is disbelief in one article of faith contrary to faith. Now charity does not remain in a man after one mortal sin. Therefore neither does faith, after a man disbelieves one article.” (Ibid, II-II, Q.5, A.3).

In the entire length of Spe Salvi, not a single reference is made to Revealed Truth, the Deposit of Faith, Doctrine, or Dogma as having any relation whatsoever to our Hope.

Having sundered both hope and faith from the absolutely objective content of the Deposit of Faith, Joseph Ratzinger is left merely with the existential choice of continuing to believe in the “You” of Jesus Christ, but not the “something” of this Divine Deposit. And since (Christ’s) claim to be both man and God is just as absurd from the positivistic viewpoint as transubstantiation or original sin, then this choice, this hope, this trust, this faith becomes essentially an existential choice with no objective foundation. As such, it can make no claims to exclusivity, and therefore demand no conversion. It must, in other words, adjust itself to pluralism and ecumenism. Again, from Faith and the Future:

As things are, faith cannot count on a bundle of philosophical certainties [thus Thomism is sent entirely packing] which lead up to faith and support it. It will be compelled, rather, to prove its own legitimacy in advance by reflecting on its own inner reasonableness and by presenting itself as a reasonable whole, which can be offered to men as a possible and responsible choice. To say this is to imply that faith must clearly adjust itself to an intellectual pluralism that cannot ever be reversed, and within this intellectual climate must present itself as a comprehensible offer of meaning, even if it can find no prolegomena in a commonly accepted philosophical system. That means, in the end, that the meaning which man needs becomes accessible in any case only through a decision for a meaningful structure. It may not be proved, but can be seen as meaningful.” (p. 74-75)

Imagine trying to teach such a faith to all the little children who Our Lord instructed us to “suffer” to come unto Him. The victim in all this is not only the Truth. It is also the innocent.

 

The Amazonian Synod:

A “New Path” for the Church

What is now in preparation is a complete alteration of the Church’s mission, and therefore an alteration of the nature of the Church itself. The “Great Event” (a sort of “Woodstock” of the Church) which is now being carefully prepared in order to bring forth this “New Church” is the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held in October, 2019. According to the Vatican, it is “called to reflect on the theme”: Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology. We would do well to reflect deeply, especially in the light of what has been offered above and also in our previous article on The Mind of Antichrist, upon the question as to what will be involved in using this Synod to define “New Paths for the Church”.

Jesus Christ sent His Apostles forth to all nations “to teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19), and St. Paul tells us that the goal of this mission is to “bring into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5). All of this speaks of the fact that through Christ and His Church the fullness of Truth has been revealed to man; and that the fundamental meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that for all men – at all historical times and in all nations and cultures – truth, charity, justice, and happiness can only be realized through submission and conversion to this Light which has come down from above. It is precisely this Light, these Truths and Doctrines of Jesus Christ, which are now being downplayed and contradicted in the words and pastoral policies of Pope Francis and his spokesmen. We have seen this in operation both in relation to the Synod on the Family and the Synod on Abuse, and in many of the talks, interviews, etc. offered by these members of the hierarchy.

Diametrically opposed to the truly Catholic view of the vertical dimension of our faith is that Darkness which is proposed by Joseph Ratzinger above: that we are not in possession of this fullness of Truth; that what we now possess is only the multifaceted, and very partial and contrary, views and aspirations of all of humanity in its progress towards an alleged Omega Point of evolutionary Perfection; and that therefore the future mission of the Church is to dive deeply into an “inter-cultural” inclusiveness and dialogue with the world in order to facilitate this evolutionary progress. This view is perfectly expressed in Teilhard de Chardin’s “prayer”, titled The Mass on the World:

“Since once again, Lord – though this time not in the forests of the Aisne but in the steppes of Asia – I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself [Note: there is no way that Teilhard could use these words, and make this juxtaposition if he believed in the substantial Real Presence of Christ after the Consecration]; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labours and sufferings of the world.” (p. 119).

And, a little further on, he elaborates:

“This restless multitude, confused or orderly, the immensity of which terrifies us; this ocean of humanity whose slow, monotonous wave-flows trouble the hearts even of those whose faith is most firm: it is to this deep that I thus desire all the fibres of my being should respond. All the things in the world to which this day will bring increase; all those that will diminish; all those too that will die: all of them, Lord, I try to gather into my arms, so as to hold them out to you in offering. This is the material of my sacrifice; the only material you desire.

“Once upon a time men took into your temple the first fruits of their harvests, the flower of their flocks. But the offering you really want, the offering you mysteriously need every day to appease your hunger, to slake your thirst, is nothing less than the growth of the world borne ever onwards in the stream of universal becoming.

Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at this dawn of a new day.”

Such is the “Living Liturgy,” the “Great Vision,” of Teilhard de Chardin. It is now largely dominant within the Church, including the minds of both Benedict XVI and Francis (please read our article on the Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns for incontestable proof of this). It necessitates the dissolution of all things truly Catholic, simply because it seeks man’s salvation in the becoming of man rather than the Revealed Being, Truth, and Grace of God.

Amazonia represents the perfect petri dish (as it were) for culturing this new version of the Church and her mission. The tremendous diversity of indigenous (and other) peoples; the vast array of often conflicting cultures, ideologies (especially Marxist) and religions; the immense poverty , and the historical connections by which it is linked to European (and American) dominance and exploitation, and therefore also to the Catholic Church; the ecological and sustainability movements which are overridingly pantheistic, and therefore almost universally pagan and anti-Catholic – all of this represents the ideal venue in which to lower the Church down upon the altar of the world, and thereby to work zealously at changing her theology, philosophy, mission, and worship.

The Amazonian Synod is of course linked intimately to all of Latin America, which contains something like forty- percent of all the world’s Catholics. The coming Amazonian Synod was preceded by a very similar meeting in May of 2007 of the General Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) in Brazil, which produced what is called the Aparecida Document (165 pages), which also focused heavily on the Amazon. One of the things most clearly enunciated in this document is the extent to which both devotion to Mary and devotion to the suffering Christ are recognized as the unifying factors in the spiritual lives of all Catholics in Latin American countries, and that these would therefore also be employed as the unifying forces behind all attempts towards implementing this “New Evangelization”. Love for Mary and the Crucified Christ will also therefore be what is used most effectively to seduce these peoples into worship and belief established upon the Teilhardian theology of evolutionary becoming and worship offered upon the “altar of the world”.

The entire effort of the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church is obviously diametrically opposed to such “use” of devotion to Our Lady and Our Crucified Lord. We consider it to be the ultimate blasphemy and sacrilege in accordance with the designs of the Father of Lies, and will do all we can through the grace of God to expose and condemn it.

We must also add, as a conclusion to this article, that there is no Wall or other edifice which man can construct which will in any way protect us from what is coming. Our only hope lies in the conversion of individuals and nations to the Kingship of Christ. Only Our Lady and Her Immaculate Heart, containing all the graces necessary for our own interior purification and the conversion of sinners, has been promised to us as a place of refuge and the means of Triumph over that Beast whose terrifying figure now hovers over both our Church and our nation. If, at this point in history, we attempt to “hedge our bet” between the plans of man and the way of salvation offered by God , we simply fall into that category of the “double-minded” spoken of by St. James, whose prayers are not answered because they seek friendship with both this world and with God.

Again, we strongly recommend reading our article The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden, which explores the concept of “cosmic evolution” in the thought of Teilhard de Chardin, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis. It is now the dominant philosophy/theology in the Church, undermining all of the doctrinal teachings of Jesus Christ. The full implementation of this agenda requires that the Church be completely immersed and “integrated” into the world (an integral–Church in accord with integral-ecology) and into what is believed will be the progression towards the Omega Point of Teilhardian evolution, but which will in reality lead to the ascent of the Antichrist upon the world’s stage. The Amazonian Synod is the carefully prepared event by which those who promote this agenda plan to see it brought to fruition.

Please pray the Rosary for the Purification of the Church!

Please spread the word about the Rosary!

The Mind of Antichrist

Image result for our lady of sorrows

The Mind of Antichrist

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel, between Christ and the Anti-Christ.

We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . .How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.”( Bicentennial talk given in the United States in 1976 by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla the future Pope John Paul II)

Note: The following two short pieces are works of fiction – necessarily so, since they portend the future. The spiritual realities depicted, however, are not at all fictional. We draw near to the final confrontation between Christ and Antichrist, between the Being of God and the becoming of man.

Part I:

Excerpt from:

The Inaugural Address of

The First President of the World Union

Contrary to popular analysis and thinking, the world-wide Crisis which we face – one which is poised to destroy all human life – is not one which finds its ultimate cause in any combination of political, economic, national, or racial factors. Thanks to the exponential growth of knowledge in the various fields of physical science (including neuro-psychology), and also in the realms of behavioral sciences such as psychology and sociology, we now know with certainty that the various forms of individual and collective violence (war) which have plagued man since antiquity are not fundamentally due to any factors which lie in his exterior life.

The real cause of all forms of violence and injustice lies within man. It is constituted by a kind of “original sin” which is the essential root of all his destructive tendencies, and which, if it is not transcended, will be the cause of his final and total self-destruction. We are now at that juncture in human history where we must realize that we possess only two choices. We ignore this truth and perish as a species, or we face up to it, and take those measures necessary to insure our collective transcendence beyond this fundamental flaw in human nature.

What is this flaw, this “original sin”? We must first realize that it is not constituted by any of the ideas, feelings, desires which are the natural fruits of the almost infinite variety of human life. All these are simply expressions of life, energy, and creativity in its natural evolutionary expansiveness and growth. They are therefore also expressions of that fundamental charity and openness towards others which constitutes the very opposite of that exclusiveness which leads to selfishness and violence. It is of course true that our beliefs (especially religious beliefs) and desires can come into conflict with one another, but these conflicts are relatively minor expressions of selfishness, entail minimal degrees of violence and civil disorder, can be seen as the normal consequences of humanity’s “growing pains”, and are controllable through the ordinary means of our legal systems. We must in fact see such diversity, and even such “conflict”, as an integral and necessary part of that dialectical process by which mankind grows towards its final evolutionary fulfillment. In other words, such conflicts are not part of that fundamental threat to humanity of which we here speak.

No, the power that has the potential to destroy all life on our beloved earth is to be found in none of the manifold diversities of human belief and expression which contribute to growth and expansion, but rather in whatever causes contraction and rigidification of this dynamic. Further, this “original sin” must also be seen as the genesis of all those forces in human personality which are diametrically opposed to openness to other persons and thus to their particular variations in thinking, belief, and values. It is this fundamentally anti-social flaw, ensconced deeply in man’s present nature, which must be transcended and eliminated if mankind is to survive beyond the present crisis.

It becomes obvious, therefore, that the original sin of man lies in Absolutism – that fundamental pride of life by which an individual or group claims the possession of a Truth which is static and unchangeable, a Truth which is not subject to the universal laws of growth and evolution, a Truth which excludes the validity of the opinion and beliefs of others, and a Truth therefore which logically excludes and denigrates the personhood of others. In one word, original sin consists in Dogmatism. Dogmatism can simply be defined as any claim to Absolute Truth which is exclusive of any other truth, and is not open to evolutionary growth, change, and dialogue.

It is important at this point to be very clear on one absolutely essential point. No belief, opinion, religious idea or form of worship (except those which involve human sacrifice or are by their very nature exclusive of the dignity of others) is to be condemned for its substantial content. The Constitution of the New World Union embraces all religions and is committed to the defense of complete freedom of religious belief and expression. Without such freedom the Great Dialogue of Ideas which is essential to the evolution of the human spirit can only experience suffocation. Nothing, and we repeat nothing, of the great ideas of the entire gamut of world’s religions, philosophies, or ideologies, is to be considered suppressed. They may all be considered as profound expressions of human consciousness and desire on its way to that Omega Point which is now mysterious to us, but will be the final fulfillment of all evolution and growth.

It is not, in other words, any particular idea or belief in itself that is the source of our present quandary. The problem lies not in ideas themselves, but in what man has done with them. It is, as we have said, at that point where dogma is promulgated – where truth becomes fixed and absolute – that all irresolvable divisions between men, and all large-scale forms of violence, are generated.

We must further realize, however, that such Absolutism and Dogmatism is rooted in a profound philosophical error. If the real and health-fulfilling depths of human life are rooted in growth, expansion, evolutionary ascent, fluidity, flexibility, openness, and the humility which is the constant companion of these virtues, then the opposite of these virtues finds its most concrete expression in a philosophical view which views the world in relationship to the idea of fixed and determinate substances.

It is, in fact, the metaphysical view of “substance”, which has been the primary inhibitive factor in the growth of the human spirit. It has also therefore been the primary factor in generating the schizophrenic departure of the human mind and heart from the realities which have been revealed to us through the beneficence of science. It is now known with absolute certainty through analytical physics that the whole concept of existing, static “substances” is a myth, and that all realities – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – can be explained in terms of the movement and flow of atomic, sub-atomic, and quantum forces which themselves are not even subject to the term “substance.” The fundamental fabric of human existence must, therefore, be seen as constant change and paradox. The very “substance” of individual personality, and the existence of each one of us as distinct individuals, is identical with that continuous state of flux which is the very negation of the conventional ideas of permanence and substance.

There are, of course, certain religions and philosophies in the world which are already largely in accord with this inescapable knowledge of reality. We might here mention Hinduism and Buddhism. Seeking that final identity of the human spirit with the Spirit of the All, and rejecting all absolutes in this life as forms of maya (illusion), these religions have always embraced rejection of Dogma as necessary for their own belief in transcendence and for that mystical union with the Absolute which is beyond all the deceptively apparent substantial realities of this life.

There are other religions which obviously are destined to have to work harder towards this integration. We must be frank, and especially mention Christianity and Islam in this regard. There is a great deal in each of these major world religions which speaks of absolutism and exclusivity. After much examination by the World Council of Churches and other groups, however, we have become convinced that these great world religions can also be essentialized to allow them to accord with the principles of human growth and evolution. This process of essentialization simply demands that we look deeper into each of the doctrines which appear to speak of absolutism – that we be open to the movement of the human spirit which is able to penetrate to the real locus of human aspirations which are beneath the surface of these dogmatic encrustations, and that we be willing to release this spirit in terms of new formulations and interpretations.

All this will, of course, take time and the collective creative effort of all of mankind. We cannot deny, however, that after sustained study of this issue by the greatest creative minds in the world, we are intensely hopeful of the outcome. Much of our collective optimism comes from the realization that we can afford to be patient. We are fully aware that these reformulations and interpretations, and the release of the creative energies which have been forced to atrophy behind such concretizations of Absolutism and dogma, will take some time. Such is only natural, simply because healing, growth, and maturation always demand time and patience. The absolute pre-condition for such a process, however, cannot be delayed. We must begin at once to reverse the direction of humanity in order that the powers of destructive Absolutism may not reach that critical mass which is bound to destroy us all. We must, in other words, accomplish the fundamental act of conversion Now. In order to initiate this process, the World Council has therefore unanimously passed a resolution that every person in the world be required to sign the following simple Act of Conversion:

Act of Conversion

I………………………. renounce all claims to possession or knowledge of Absolute Truth, either in relation to ultimate reality or moral action. I firmly resolve to commit myself to the principles of dialogue with, and acceptance of, the opinions and beliefs of others on our common journey towards our common destiny.

Signature: _______________________

At this point of great crisis for mankind, refusal to sign this oath and act of conversion cannot be considered a legitimate option. We fully accept that necessary growth always involves purgation. Therefore, beginning at the age of reason (which we mandatorily set at the age of seven), those who refuse their signature must be euthanized using the most humane means available to modern technology. Those who sign, but later are found to commit violations of this oath, will be subject to the generally mild punishments of existing anti-hate crime legislation. They will also be required to retake and sign the Oath. Second offenders will be required to suffer the stiffer penalties assigned for such reoccurrences, and again required to retake the Oath. It will be mandatory that all proven third-time offenders be euthanized.

These regulations are designed to reflect those principles of both mercy and justice inherent in our evolutionary ascent towards the Omega Point of human destiny.

—————————————

 

Part II:

From the Address of the President of the World Union to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church Sitting in Consistory:

[Note: On March 17, 2016 Catholic News Service published an English translation of a discussion/interview conducted by Fr. Jacques Servais with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in October of 2015. The following article offers an analysis of this interview within a fictional format. It is not fictional in regard to Pope Benedict XVI’s interview, or what we believe to be its implications. No satire or sensationalism is intended, but only an awakening, that we “may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil”. (Eph. 6:11). The Interview itself can be found at a number of places on the Web].

 

Two Hearts Beat as One
Benedict XVI and Francis I: The Path to the Future

My Dear Brothers,

I am quite sure you are well aware that, from the very beginning of my Presidency, I have been always insistent upon the fact that I am not he who will usher in that plenitude of peace for which we all long, but am only a precursor to the One who is to assume this office in the ripeness of time, and bring all to fulfillment. And yet I meet with you today in a spirit of great joy at the progress we have made along this path in such a short time.

In preparation for my departure, I have longed to meet with you once again as an expression of my deepest gratitude. In my Inaugural Address, six years ago, I expressed strong concern about the necessity for Christians – and I might now add, especially Catholics – to meet the demands of the evolutionary growth of all of mankind towards a universal tolerance and acceptance of all that is truly human. This concern, as I am sure you are aware, was motivated by knowledge of the central role which dogmatism and absolutism had played in Christian belief – far more so, especially within the Catholic Church, than any of the other great world religions. For the sake of peace, and the preservation of our species, we were forced to enact strict legislation against such dogmatism and absolutism, even to the point of compulsory euthanasia for those who were persistent in such fanaticism.

During my address I counseled the need for a certain amount of patience in order to temper justice with mercy, and in recognition that change takes some time. It has been for me a matter of surprise and delight that this policy has been fruitful far beyond my expectations. While we are quite aware that there are a great many for whom Christian Absolutism is very difficult to shed, it is now clear that good will is dominant even in most of those from whom we anticipated strong resistance to our beneficent policies. This good will is evidenced, if by nothing else, at least by their silence. It truly is a source of great joy to me personally that so little recourse to the most strict penalties of our Decree has been necessary; we therefore have tremendous confidence, that the children and grandchildren of this silence will be in possession of that fundamental change of heart which will irrevocably entomb Dogmatism in the dustbin of history and human evolution.

We have, of course, been most enthusiastic concerning the new path which the Catholic Church entered upon with the ascension of Pope Francis I to the throne of Peter. Pope Francis has repeatedly made clear the extent to which he places the concept of mercy and inclusiveness above any kind of doctrinal or moral rigidity. At the same time, we were admittedly quite concerned about that rigid orthodoxy and “traditionalism” which tended very strongly to identify with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. We fully recognized that Benedict was in a very real sense “transitional” in his evolution towards modern consciousness. While being fully evolutionary in his thinking and writings as a scholar – writings concerning which virtually all such “Traditionalists” seemed ignorant – he was yet somewhat rigid in his public policies and proclamations. He was a man divided between two ages, and we could not fail to show some compassion and tolerance towards his inner conflict. In addition, his silence in the face of Francis’ liberating agenda was indeed encouraging and deserving of our patience.

Our patience has now been rewarded beyond our highest expectations. In October of 2015, Benedict XVI participated in a discussion and interview with Fr. Jacque Servais. It not only establishes a union of hearts between Benedict and the thinking and policies of Francis, but also profoundly enlightens us as to the deepest source of that Dogmatism and Absolutism which has been the scourge of mankind and the source of all the great conflicts in human history. We are therefore not only deeply pleased, but immensely grateful, for the depth of his thought. His words, and analysis, are therefore worthy of the closest scrutiny. They provide the key to the transformation of Christian consciousness.

The heart of this transformation lies, according to Benedict, in a rethinking of the Catholic concept of “justification by faith”. The passage most expressive of this “rethinking” occurs in approximately the middle of the Interview, in a dramatic exchange between Benedict and Servais:

Benedict XVI: It seems to me that in the theme of divine mercy is expressed in a new way what is meant by justification by faith. Starting from the mercy of God, which everyone is looking for, it is possible even today to interpret anew the fundamental nucleus of the doctrine of justification, and have it appear again in all its relevance.

Servais: When Anselm says that Christ had to die on the cross to repair the infinite offense that had been made to God, and in this way to restore the shattered order, he uses a language which is difficult for modern man to accept (cfr. Gs 215.ss iv). Expressing oneself in this way, one risks likely to project onto God an image of a God of wrath, relentless toward the sin of man, with feelings of violence and aggression comparable with what we can experience ourselves. How is it possible to speak of God’s justice without potentially undermining the certainty, deeply established among the faithful, that the God of the Christians is a God “rich in mercy.” (Ephesians 2:4)?

Benedict XVI: The conceptuality of St. Anselm has now become for us incomprehensible. It is our job to try again to understand the truth that lies behind this mode of expression. For my part I offer three points of view on this point.

Before moving on to further examination of these “three points of view, it is absolutely necessary to understand what has already been accomplished by Benedict’s new way of conceptualization in regard to justification by faith. The concept of a God demanding Justice has been eliminated. At least four times in the course of this interview Benedict specifically identifies such a view with believing in a cruel God. In his entire interview he in fact never mentions God’s justice without identifying it with cruelty. Thus:

Only where there is mercy does cruelty end, only with mercy do evil and violence end. Pope Francis is totally in agreement with this line. His pastoral practice is expressed in the fact that he continually speaks to us of God’s mercy. It is mercy that moves us toward God, while justice frightens us before Him.”

There is here, in Benedict’s view no value in the concept of God’s Justice as leading us towards Him, or towards His Mercy. Justice and Mercy are diametrically opposed. We must also note, as evidenced in this passage, the deep union of hearts between the theology of Benedict and the pastoral work of Francis.

When we now come to examine Benedict’s first point necessary for “overcoming” the conceptuality of Anselm, we encounter the second and third instances of Benedict identifying cruelty with the notion of God’s Justice:

The contrast between the Father, who insists in an absolute way on justice, and the Son who obeys the Father and, obedient, accepts the cruel demands of justice, is not only incomprehensible today, but, from the point of view of Trinitarian theology, is in itself all wrong.”

The Father and the Son are one and therefore their will is intrinsically one. When the Son in the Garden of Olives struggles with the will of the Father, it is not a matter of accepting for himself a cruel disposition of God, but rather of attracting humanity into the very will of God. We will have to come back again, later, to the relationship of the two wills of the Father and of the Son.”

We must here add a bit of theological commentary, even being so bold as to correct deficiencies in Benedict’s view of traditional Catholic theology. Catholic theology has always recognized the unity of Will between the Father and Son. The cruelty suffered by the Son in obedience to the Father, was at the hands of men, and was not seen as the Son subjecting himself to the cruelty of the Father. Rather, it was viewed as a true unity of wills between Father and Son necessary for the satisfaction of Justice in accord with the one divine nature of both Father and Son. What is unique here in the thought of Benedict is that this demand of Divine Justice has ceased to exist, and is replaced solely by an act of Divine Mercy which seeks to attract men. This attraction is, of course, an evolutionary process, devoid of any justification for judgment and condemnation.

This brings us to the second point which Benedict offers us in regard to a “new away” of understanding justification. At the beginning of the long paragraph in which he discusses this point, he simply begins by asking, “So why the cross and atonement?” After talking about the immense amount of cruelty and suffering present in the world, he offers the following answer:

Above I quoted the theologian for whom God had to suffer for his sins in regard to the world [because of all the horrible things in the world and in the face of the misery of being human, all of which ultimately depends on Him]. Now, due to this reversal of perspective, the following truths emerge: God simply cannot leave ‘as is’ the mass of evil that comes from the freedom that he himself has granted. Only He, coming to share in the world’s suffering, can redeem the world.”

Here we arrive at the crux of Benedict’s solution. The “reversal of perspective” which he sees as absolutely essential to modern man and the survival of his faith is to cease viewing man as being under compulsion to satisfy God’s Justice, but rather to view God as under compulsion to show man mercy. As he says elsewhere in his interview, “…the man of today has in a very general way the sense that God cannot let most of humanity be damned. In this sense, the concern for the personal salvation of souls typical of past times has for the most part disappeared.” We might add that in this single admission of Benedict XVI, the guilt, and consequent violence, inherent in all traditional Catholic thought has been dissolved.

The third point simply brings this compulsion of God towards mercy to a conclusion in what Benedict calls the “poverty of God”. The Father must share inwardly the sufferings of the Son. Benedict in fact quotes Henri de Lubac who attributes passion to God, and not only to God the Son in his incarnation, but also to Christ previous to the incarnation, and to the Father Himself. In thus having the very nature of God immersed in the passion of creation, Benedict logically eliminates belief in a God who is ontologically distinct from His creation, and therefore in any position to demand justice. He concludes this point with the a passage in which he again identifies the concept of justice with a cruelty unworthy of God: “It is not a matter of a cruel justice, not a matter of the Father’s fanaticism, but rather of the truth and the reality of creation: the true intimate overcoming of evil that ultimately can be realized only in the suffering of love.” As we have seen in our analysis of the Benedict’s new conceptualization of the Catholic faith, it is in fact not a matter of justice at all, but rather of a compulsory mercy on the part of a God who is truly united in His deepest essence to all of creation.

We also cannot fail to mention that Benedict’s new concept of mercy not only frees man from fear of God’s Justice, but involves a “reversal of perspective” in respect to the act of faith itself. This is certainly logical. If the concepts of “justice” and “justification” are reversed, so also must the entire concept of “justifying faith” be reversed. This becomes abundantly clear when we contrast his views with the definition of the act of faith published by Vatican Council I in the year 1870:

Man being wholly dependent upon God, as upon his Creator and Lord, and created reason being absolutely subject to uncreated truth, we are bound to yield to God, by faith in His revelation, the full obedience of our intelligence and will. And the Catholic Church teaches that this faith, which is the beginning of man’s salvation, is a supernatural virtue, whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the things which He has revealed are true; not because the intrinsic truth of the things is plainly perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, Who reveals them, and Who can neither be deceived nor deceive.”

This entire passage speaks of a servile subjection to a God against whose Justice man can mortally sin through disbelief. Having made God Himself in a very real way “guilty” for having created a world in which immeasurable evil and cruelty are a reality, and having subjected God to a compulsive mercy and suffering passion in order to lift man outside of this state, Benedict has eliminated entirely the concept of a dogmatized faith to which man must submit his intellect and will as being necessary for salvation. If judgment, and the necessity of man justifying himself before a cruel God are eliminated, so also is any requirement of a “justifying faith”. Mercy, working through attractiveness, and not judgment, is what remains.

Finally, in light of the extraordinary insights provided by Pope Benedict XVI, we must address two immediate concerns.

First, we find it necessary to add an additional precept to the Act of Conversion which we promulgated at the beginning of our Presidency. Christians, as a sign of their communal unity, have long recited the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed (and other variations). Certainly there may be a number of elements in these various creeds which can be somewhat offensive to others. We are confident, however, that these will be modified over the course of time without our intervention. There is, however, one element which is totally inimical to the heart of mercy which must become the spirit of mankind. In the Apostles Creed it is simply expressed: “From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.” We therefore decree that any variations of this phrase be eliminated from all public recitations of Christian Creeds, and that all written versions containing the same must be destroyed. Violations of this decree will subject individuals or groups to the same penalties as specified in the Resolution and Act of Conversion promulgated at the inception of our Presidency.

We must also note one other area of growing concern. Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy in 1916, an act for which we again must express our gratitude. He has also made a very strong appeal for participation in the sacrament of confession. We fully accept the fact that confession of our sins against one another, and the asking for forgiveness, is a very valuable and cathartic practice. Our concerns lie with how this is practiced within the Catholic Church. We realize that this is a delicate and very individualized matter, and we have no intention at this time of promulgating any general legislation in this matter which would presume to anticipate every situation.

At the same time, however, we recognize the dangers involved, especially when a minister of the Church presumes to sit in judgment over a penitent. Recently, Pope Francis seemed to offer at least a partial solution in regard to this problem. He has spoken of the sacredness and inviolability of what is termed the “inner forum”, and has suggested that a priest should offer God’s mercy and forgiveness to a penitent who wishes to remain silent (through embarrassment, or for whatever other reason) about the nature of his particular sins. In other words, the humility, contrition, and good will, obviously present in the very fact that the penitent has presented himself for confession, certainly makes him worthy of God’s universal mercy. We encourage Pope Francis to make such a practice universal within the entire Catholic Church.

It is a widely known fact, covered with much publicity in the Media, that we have been receiving an increasing amount of complaints from Catholic penitents who, for whatever reason, have been refused God’s forgiveness and mercy, and who have even been denied communion in their respective churches. Ultimately we have to view any refusal of God’s mercy and communion to one who has placed himself or herself in such a vulnerable, and obviously sincere, position as an act of mental and emotional terrorism, and as being subject to the penalties applicable under current Hate Crime legislation. The International Tribunal is now looking into this matter with great interest. We, however, have very optimistic expectations that Pope Francis, in his obvious and very passionate devotion to universal mercy, will quickly find a solution to this dilemma. After all, if God is under compulsion to a universal forgiveness and union with all human beings, who is man to presume to do otherwise?

I wish to express my deep appreciation for your attention and cooperation in working tirelessly towards a final solution to any and all problems which may still remain in achieving that peace which truly reflects the mercy of God.

Conclusion: It is generally conceded that the Antichrist will arise out of chaos – the chaos generated by a scientific and technologically advanced world in which unity and peace are desperately necessary for survival, but which is descending into inevitable chaos because of all the conflicts between individuals, nations, ideologies, and religions. We are now in the midst of this descent. As a solution, the Antichrist will offer peace and unity through satanically empowered deception and tyranny. It will, of course, be a demonically-inspired peace and unity which he will impose.

There is only one force on this earth which possesses the power to counter this tyranny: the Catholic Church. But the Church itself, now having descended into its own particular form of chaos and impotency, can only come to live this power through unified purification. This is why the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church is not just an attempt to persuade individual Catholics to engage in this effort, but a call to all Catholics on a particular day: the Feast of the Purification and the Presentation on February 2nd. Such a united effort in praying the Rosary and seeking interior purification, called for by Pope St. Pius V, saved Europe from destruction in the great sea battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. In another, more recent, example: On May 13, 1955, due to massive Rosary Processions prayed for an end to Communist oppression, the Soviet Union voluntarily announced that they were abandoning their occupation of Austria. Such historical miracles provide convincing evidence of the power of the Rosary to liberate from evil.

As explained in our Original Proposal, the triumph of the Light of Christ within the Church, and over evil in this world, must begin with the purification of each and every one of our hearts, a task which Our Lord has entrusted to the mediation of Our Lady. As Simeon prophesied to Mary: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” Only Our Lady has been prophesied to possess the singular grace and power to accomplish this interior purification, and thereby crush the head of Satan. And this, of course, is why the Feast of the Purification and Presentation is singularly appropriate for expressing this unity in praying the Rosary for deliverance from the impending evil – greater than at any other time in history – which is now descending upon us. We pray and hope that this Double Feast, as a Day of Purification and Triumph for the whole Church, will become a Holy Day of Obligation in these desperate times.

The problem of course is that people will only engage in such united efforts when they see what is about to come upon them. Unless they are reduced to a state of “holy fear” and desperation which shakes them out of the blindness generated through their having compromised and “normalized” their relationships with the world and its evils, they seem destined to think and behave like the proverbial “deer in the headlights”. Our Lord said to the Pharisees and Sadducees: “You know then how to discern the face of the sky: and can you not know the signs of the time?” There does indeed come a time when just “hunkering down” into our own personal faith and personal devotions, with family and like- minded friends and fellow-believers, is not enough; and that the failure to unite in militant effort for our own purification and that of the Church is reflective of that “blindness of heart” and “lukewarmness” condemned by Christ. It is in such a time that we live. It is therefore no wonder that the Holy Spirit appears no longer to be operative as the Soul of the Church.

We have seen the world move in the past 45 years from the slaughter of the unborn, to acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual marriage, to the promotion of transgenderism, and now the outright denial that God created male and female. It is a world in which every form of perversity and transgression of God’s laws is promoted as an inalienable right. And we now see Christians becoming the number-one victims of prosecution by the State for so-called “hate crimes” if they stand up for the absolute values of the moral truths of Christ.

When we come to consider the progression of this spirit of Antichrist within the Church, we encounter the very present reality that we now have a Pope (and many other members of the hierarchy) who promotes a false mercy and inclusiveness towards evil, while embracing silence towards the “hard truths” of Catholic dogma and morals; a Pope who obfuscates the clearly present existence of a homosexual network of power and corruption among the hierarchy, while promoting these persons to higher positions of power in the Church; and who wages a demeaning campaign against those who try to hold firmly to traditional Catholic faith and practice.

It should therefore be abundantly clear that the spirit of Antichrist is now moving at an exponential pace, and that none of our “usual efforts” – and this includes not only such things as political involvement, but also the normal apostolates of Catholic action (evangelization, apologetics, catechetics, etc.) – possess the grace or power to prevail against it.

Through the mystery of Our Lord’s providential will, and in accord with the deepest aspirations of the human heart, the Triumph has been entrusted to Our Lady and Her Rosary. Jesus Christ desires that each one of us enter deeply into the Immaculate Heart of His Mother in order that we might receive the grace and knowledge necessary for that profound interior purification which will make of us a light to the Church and the world. We therefore beg all those who do see, to insistently and persistently implore their pastors and bishops to promote the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church during the coming year, and especially as a united effort next February 2nd.

Please spread the word about the Rosary!

Letter to All the Bishops

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Letter to All The Bishops

 On Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019, we sent the following Letter, by way of regular mail, to over 200 bishops in the United States. We ask that you carefully read this analysis and Proposal (including the three links provided), and pray throughout Lent that the vision presented herein will penetrate deeply into the minds and hearts of the hierarchy within this country. We believe strongly that this provides the solution for the grave crisis which now scourges Christ’s Catholic Church.

 

Your Excellency,

Re: Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church.

It is the central “vision” of the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church that the crisis which we now face in the Church is a chastisement from God, and that therefore its solution lies not primarily on focusing our attention and prayers upon the sins of others, but upon each one of us, our adulteries to the world, and our own personal and collective need for interior purification.

We further believe that this invasion of the world into our minds and hearts has reached such a depth and pervasiveness as to be solvable only through Divine intervention, and this especially through Our Lady and Her Rosary. Whether we are confronted with clerical abuse and its cover-up, doctrinal and theological errors, denial of the Church’s moral teaching, the crisis in catechetical teaching, or the abuse of the sacramental life – all of these are rooted in errors which reach to such depths in the spiritual, intellectual, and moral life of contemporary Catholics and their “friendship with this world, which is the enemy of God” ( James 4:4), that no true solutions are to be found except through the extraordinary graces of God which possess the power and light necessary for triumph over the darkness which now envelops and deceives so many. We ask you to read our Original Proposal , which explores the spiritual reasoning behind this effort, and especially the appropriateness of its being centered upon the Feast of the Purification and Presentation (Candlemas) on February 2nd.

This is especially true in regard to that crisis which is now pre-eminent in the minds of millions of Catholic faithful, and in the media: clerical abuse and its cover-up. Any effort to solve this evil which is primarily dependent or centered upon such things as establishing juridical structures and safeguards, or subjection of dioceses and local hierarchy to lay and secular monitoring, is simply a glaring testimony to the nakedness and powerlessness of the contemporary Catholic Church before the modern world. It is therefore also a profound testimony to the radical impotency of our lives in regard to living the graces of the Holy Spirit, always available to those who truly seek to follow Christ, and which should therefore have provided the real discernment, safeguard, and graces against such abuses and decay. For a deeper penetration into precisely what has caused this loss of the power of the Holy Spirit in our own individual lives, and the life of the Church as a whole, we would invite you to read our article on the Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit.

Christ willed a unity of Faith and Charity within His Mystical Body which would be the source of that grace, power, and light which should not only safeguard the Church’s internal purity and integrity, but also be a light to the world in order to effect the conversion of countless souls. This unity and integrity has been so compromised as to now make the Church an object of almost universal scorn, and a victim awaiting the ravages of the Prince of this World – especially in the form of civil powers bent on her subjugation and destruction. In the midst of this division, each of us whether lay, religious, or clerical, are being forced to make a decision.

The absolute imperative of making such a decision became most evident during the recent Vatican Summit on Clerical Abuse. The whole world (so to speak) now knows that those in possession of the highest positions of power in the Church are bent upon denying and obfuscating the most prevailing and obvious external cause of clerical sexual abuse and its cover-up: homosexuality itself, and the Homosexual Network exercising extensive power and control within the Church. What is more, it has become equally evident that maintenance of these positions of power requires the alteration, subtle or not- so-subtle, of Catholic doctrinal and moral truths

Nowhere was this attack upon the doctrinal and moral foundations of our Faith more evidenced than in the press briefings of Archbishop Charles Scicluna, one of the key organizers of this Summit and one of its key speakers. He has been called “the Vatican’s most respected sex crimes expert”, was selected by Pope Benedict XVI to fully investigate and gather testimony in regards to the Legionaries of Christ and their founder Father Marcial Maciel, and has been the primary investigator in the Chilean clergy sex-abuse scandal, etc. He thus seems to have emerged as the Summit’s primary spokesman. On the first day of the Summit, he made the following extraordinary statement to a reporter’s question as to why the word “homosexuality” was completely absent from the Summit’s opening day:

You spoke about one category, someone else could speak about heterosexuality. These are human conditions that we recognize, that exist. But they aren’t something that really predisposes to sin.”

The statement that homosexuality does not “predispose” to sin is of course absurd. Even if we consider homosexuality from the perspective as an orientation or temptation which does not come to fruition in the performance of an objectively evil act itself, it is obviously a “predisposition” towards such an act, and therefore evil in itself, just as are the temptations and predispositions to murder, rape, gluttony, slander, etc. Obviously all of these powerful temptations “predispose” towards sin.

But the real deception in Archbishop Scicluna’s statement lies in the attempt to try to establish some sort of common status between heterosexuality and homosexuality by identifying them both as being human “conditions”. Heterosexuality is not a human “condition”, but rather something fully natural and good within human nature. And like all other things that are integral to human nature, there is no evil in heterosexuality itself, but only in any use of it which goes against the order established by God. On the other hand, God does not create people possessing homosexuality as part of their human nature (created in God’s image). Homosexuality is itself a perversion of human sexuality, and any homosexual inclinations or temptations now present to man in his fallen and disordered passions constitute objective evil, even though they may indeed be resisted and therefore not be constituted as individual sin in a particular person. It is therefore not only the homosexual act itself which must be considered objectively evil, but also the orientation or temptation itself.

The denial of these truths of the Catholic faith concerning homosexuality (and also such things as the objective evil of civil divorce and remarriage) reaches ultimately to the denial, not only of the immutability of God and His revealed Truth, but also of the substantial and universal nature of all men created in God’s image.This extraordinarily explicit heresy is also rooted in the denial of being (“I Am Who Am”) as the fundamental principle in all philosophy and theology and its replacement by the concept of evolutionary becoming. Under the reign of this latter principle, all of what constitutes both the human and Divine is deprived of absoluteness, and reduced to temporary and mutable evolutionary “conditions”, which are always subject to evolutionary growth and change. The concept of a substantial, immutable and irrevocable nature, for which man is responsible and accountable, is thereby obliterated; and a false, universal mercy thereby becomes the governing principle of all moral theology. For a penetrating analysis into the nature and history of this heresy, and its penetration into the depths of Catholic thinking, we ask you to read our article on The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns.

A line has therefore been drawn like no other in the history of the Church. What is at stake is the salvation of thousands of souls under your care, and for whom you are responsible before God. Any bishop who chooses to remain with Christ and His Immutable Truth will now clearly place himself in a perilous position. If he chooses to make a public stand (which we deem admirable) against what is clearly the agenda of many who are in positions of higher power and influence, he clearly risks disciplinary actions and even possibly the loss of his office. This of course does not entail the necessity of any sort of schism, but it certainly may entail an at-least dry martyrdom.

In this extremely painful situation, we would like to suggest that every bishop who truly desires to follow Christ in His immutable Truth possesses a reservoir of power and grace in this supreme crisis. It lies in the hearts all of those of his faithful who truly seek and hunger to follow Christ, and in their prayers for personal and collective interior purification. And it is each individual bishop who has the power and authority to harness and direct these hearts and these graces.

We also fully believe, in the light the Gospel and such private revelations as Our Lady of Fatima, that God has entrusted to Mary the power to bring all of this to fruition: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed”. We therefore implore you to implement what we describe in our Original Proposal for the Feast of the Purification and Presentation, and consider repeating this on other Feasts of the liturgical year which may seem appropriate. We also request that you not only implement this event in your Cathedral Church, but that you ask each of your parish priests to do so in their local churches. We believe that this will bring great blessings not only for you and all the faithful of your diocese, but also for the universal Church.

As stated in the “About” on our website, none of us involved in this effort seek any personal recognition. We simply wish to decrease in order that Our Lord and Our Lady may increase.

 

Respectfully, In Jesus and Mary

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Pope Francis and the Sacrilegious Use of the Rosary

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 It has been integral to the vision which inspired the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church that the entire Church is in need of purification, and that the most visible aspects of the current crisis of the Church are like cancerous excrescences on the surface of the body, which point to a much deeper malady within. We see this sickness as stemming from two primary sources: the surrender of the intellectual foundations of our Faith (theology and philosophy) to reductive science; and, secondly, to our having nourished an adulterous relationship with this world which tends towards making us an “enemy of God” (James 4:4) and therefore fully deserving of God’s chastisement. In our prayer for the Church’s purification we have chosen therefore not to focus on obvious evils such as the Cardinal McCarrick scandal. We do not believe that any investigation into this scandal (although necessary), or any amount of “getting rid of bad bishops” (including the Pope), will solve the present crisis. This is why we seek Our Lady’s help in reaching to the depths of what is in need of purification within each one of us. As Simeon foretold to Mary “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” (Luke 2: 35).

However, absolutely necessary for the integrity of our effort is that the Rosary itself be prayed with intentions which are in accord with the truths of Jesus Christ. The Rosary, being a sacramental, is subject to sacrilegious use. And this is precisely what is now being promoted by Pope Francis.

On September 29, 2018, the Press Office of the Holy See issued a Communiqué in which Pope Francis invited all the faithful during the Marian month of October to pray the Rosary, the Leonine prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, and the prayer Sub Tuum Praesidium to protect the Church from the devil, “who always seek to separate us from God and from each other.” Twice in this communiqué, we are asked to offer these prayers “against the Great Accuser who ‘goes around the world seeking to accuse”.

Pope Francis’ choice of the title “the Great Accuser” for the Devil is not random. It has evolved out of the catastrophic events which have occurred over a period ranging from the last part of August to the end of September, and has a very specific meaning and intention attached to it. We will here briefly describe these events:

On August 22, 2018, former Papal Nuncio to the United States Archbishop Viganò issued an eleven page “Testimony” accusing Pope Francis not only of covering up the McCarrick scandal, but of promoting McCarrick’s status in the Vatican and making him his trusted advisor. He also documented a “cabal” of higher members of the American hierarchy who bypassed the Papal Nuncio in order to recommend bishops friendly to Pope Francis and his “gay-inclusive” agenda. Since that date much of what was in Archbishop Vigano’s Testimony has been corroborated, and there are many bishops who have now called for a full investigation. In addition, there have come to light other instances of Francis’ protecting abusers while he has been Pope, and his defense of a serial abuser (and persecution of his victims) while Archbishop of Buenos Aires. When asked about these accusations, Pope Francis replied, “I will not say a single word about this”, and he has retained this position to this day. At the very least, these accusations demand a thorough and complete investigation.

But Pope Francis, while refusing to answer these accusations, has not remained silent. Beginning on September 11, he began a series of thinly veiled attacks on Archbishop Vigano (without specifically naming him), and others who are demanding a full investigation into these allegations, by equating their efforts with the work of the Devil – the “Great Accuser”.

On September 11, Pope Francis said, “in these times, it seems like the ‘Great Accuser’ has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The ‘Great Accuser’, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse.’”

On September 13, he said: “Only the merciful are like God the Father. ‘Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.’ This is the path, the path that goes against the spirit of the world, that thinks differently, that does not accuse others. Because among us is the ‘Great Accuser,’ the one who is always going about to accuse us before God, to destroy. Satan: he is the ‘Great Accuser.’ And when I enter into this logic of accusing, of cursing, seeking to do evil to others, I enter into the logic of the ‘Great Accuser’ who is the ‘Destroyer,’ who does not know the word mercy, does not know, has never lived it.”

On September 14, he said: “Our victory is the cross of Jesus, victory over our enemy, the ancient serpent, the Great Accuser.… And the ancient serpent that was destroyed still barks, still threatens but, as the Fathers of the Church say, he is a chained dog: do not approach him and he will not bite you; but if you try to caress him because you are attracted to him as if he were a puppy, prepare yourself, he will destroy you.”

On September 18, the Vatican News service offered the following summation from Pope Francis’ homily:

“The Pope brought up that it was also the people who yelled ‘crucify him’. Jesus then compassionately remained silent because ‘the people were deceived by the powerful’, Pope Francis explained. His response was silence and prayer. Here the shepherd chooses silence when the ‘Great Accuser’ accuses him ‘through so many people’. Jesus ‘suffers, offers his life, and prays’, Pope Francis said.”

It is clear from all of this that Pope Francis has cast himself in the role of Christ who is silent before the “Great Accuser.” This is in itself blasphemous. Christ’s silence did not mask involvement in sexual abuse and its cover-up. He did not attack those who sought honest answers in regard to such heinous sins, nor did He claim that they were doing the work of the “Great Accuser”. He did not deny justice to the innocent who have been horrendously violated by such sins. Pope Francis’ “silence” in the face of what appear to be justified accusations is not therefore the silence of Christ in the face of the Great Accuser. It is rather the silence promoted by Satan in service to the Father of Lies.

To commit the sin of sacrilege is to “desecrate or steal a sacred person, place, or thing”. The Rosary is a sacramental (and the St. Michael the Angel Prayer and the Sub tuum are also holy things) which, if used with the intention to deceive or commit some evil, entails the commission of the sin of sacrilege. As documented above, this is precisely what Pope Francis is doing with his campaign to pray these prayers against the “Great Accuser”. His actions are especially grievous, because the Rosary is the designated means proposed by Our Lady for our own purification, the purification of the Church, and the conversion of all peoples.

We therefore completely reject this proposal of Pope Francis.

Our rejection is obviously not a refusal to pray the Rosary, but rather the contrary. We ask all the faithful to pray every Rosary For the Purification of the Church in order that, in accord with the mission entrusted by God to Mary’s Immaculate and Pierced Heart, “out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed”. We also ask all faithful Catholics to join us on February 2,  2019, Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, in order to unite in praying, not only for the purification of the whole Church, but also for the purification of the minds and hearts of each one of us.

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Perfect Joy, Perfect Desire

Image result for our lady of sorrows

Perfect Joy, Perfect Desire

 In our long article titled St. Francis of Assisi: They Pretended to Love You So That They Might Leave You, we explored St. Francis’ ideal of Poverty largely from the perspective of the soul’s possession, pursuit, and use of the things of this world. This “exterior” poverty is, of course, intimately related to that interior “spirit of poverty” and humility which is the first Beatitude and the foundation upon which the entire spiritual life is constructed. As stated in the Prologue to Sacrum Commercium:

“Very properly is the kingdom of heaven said to be the possession of those who keep nothing of the goods of this world through their own will, their inclination towards spiritual things, and their desire for eternal things. For it can only follow that a person will live on heavenly things if he cares nothing for earthly things, and he who renounces all earthly things and ‘counts them as dung’ will taste with pleasure the savory crumbs that fall from the table of the holy angels and will deserve to taste how sweet and how good the Lord is.”

But there is a whole interior realm, existing in itself, and therefore constituting a uniquely spiritual poverty, which deserves our full consideration. And just as it is impossibly hypocritical to live in pursuit of the physical riches, pleasures, and luxuries of this world while claiming to possess the spiritual poverty which is the first Beatitude, so it is impossible to cultivate true detachment from the world unless it flows outward from a genuinely Catholic interior Poverty and Humility. As there are many forms of false mysticisms which have seduced many down through Catholic history, so there are many forms of asceticism practiced by false religions which, while often giving the appearance of something quite spiritual, and even of great holiness, are works of Satan for the seduction and ruin of souls.

We wish to offer here, therefore, two marvelous short pieces of true Catholic spiritual poverty which will hopefully shine a light in our souls so as to guard us from such seduction and ruin. The first constitutes a chapter contained in the Fioretti (The Little Flowers of St. Francis):

One day in winter, as St Francis was going with Brother Leo from Perugia to St Mary of the Angels, and was suffering greatly from the cold, he called to Brother Leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him: “Brother Leo, if it were to please God that the Friars Minor should give, in all lands, a great example of holiness and edification, write down, and note carefully, that this would not be perfect joy.

A little further on, St Francis called to him a second time: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor were to make the lame to walk, if they should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if they should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy.

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor knew all languages; if they were versed in all science; if they could explain all Scripture; if they had the gift of prophecy, and could reveal, not only all future things, but likewise the secrets of all consciences and all souls, write that this would not be perfect joy.

After proceeding a few steps farther, he cried out again with a loud voice: “O Brother Leo, thou little lamb of God! if the Friars Minor could speak with the tongues of angels; if they could explain the course of the stars; if they knew the virtues of all plants; if all the treasures of the earth were revealed to them; if they were acquainted with the various qualities of all birds, of all fish, of all animals, of men, of trees, of stones, of roots, and of waters – write that this would not be perfect joy.

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor had the gift of preaching so as to convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that this would not be perfect joy.

Now when this manner of discourse had lasted for the space of two miles, Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: “Father, I beg thee to tell me wherein is perfect joy.

St Francis answered: “If, when we shall arrive at St Mary of the Angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, `We are two of the brethren’, he should answer angrily, `What ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone I say’; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall – then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy.

And if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, `Begone, miserable robbers! Go to the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!’ – and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, O Brother Leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy.

And if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, `These are but importunate rascals, I will deal with them as they deserve’; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick – if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for him, write, O Brother Leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy.

And now, brother, listen to the conclusion. Above all the graces and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to his friends, is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love for Christ, all suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt; for in all other gifts of God we cannot glory, seeing they proceed not from ourselves but from God, according to the words of the Apostle, `What hast thou that thou hast not received from God? and if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?’

But in the cross of tribulation and affliction we may glory, because, as the Apostle says again, `I will not glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.

We must carefully note that all of St. Francis “joy” and the all spiritual poverty which is the source of this joy is entirely rooted in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is absolutely no true Catholic spiritually, of any kind, which attempts to bypass the suffering humanity of Christ.

The second example is The Litany of Humility, most often attributed (although this is disputed) to Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State of the Holy See under Pope St. Pius X:

Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

 From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.

 

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus.

 

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

 

Everything contained in St. Francis’ teaching concerning “Perfect Joy”, and also in the Litany of Humility, target what both Holy Scripture and St. Thomas so aptly delineate as the “beginning of all sin”: Spiritual Pride. The primary effect of original sin in each one of us is love of self and therefore the desire to be “first”. It would seem therefore that what might be most disturbing to us in the depths of our fallen nature is the very last petition in the Litany of Humility: “That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should.” If the whole of my Catholic life is directed towards holiness in perfect imitation of Jesus and Our Lady, then how can I possibly pray that others may become holier than I? It would appear to be a stark contradiction to do so.

The answer to this mystery is obtained through understanding, in the depths of one’s soul, the dynamics of the path of holiness itself. It springs forth from seeing with both one’s mind and heart the Infinite Goodness of God, while at the same time seeing the poverty and sinfulness of oneself. Possibly the most succinct and beautiful expression between these two realities is to be found in St. Augustine’s work The City of God:

“Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.” (14:28).

But it is not just a question of believing in these two absolutely necessary truths of our Faith. It is a matter of such “believing” (faith) descending into that understanding with the heart which springs forth in love. Possibly the greatest barrier to true growth in holiness among those who would consider themselves faithful Catholics is the failure to see and understand with their hearts the very truths which they believe with their faith. Our Lord said to the Pharisees:

For the heart of this people is grown gross, and with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they have shut: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Mt. 13: 15).

It is a matter of faith blossoming into holy and passionate desire. This is why, of course, all the petitions in the second half of the Litany of Humility conclude with the phrase “Grant me the grace to desire it….” It is not enough to believe, we must also desire. And this desire can only be generated through God’s grace. Immersed in the consequence of original sin, it is not something which comes naturally to us, and cannot therefore become the passion of our lives except as a gift from God.

To truly enter upon this path establishes a deep joy within our souls. We come to find St. Francis “joy”, and even to relish, our own nothingness. As self-contradictory as it may sound, we come to hunger after death in Christ, that His Life might become fully present in our souls. St. Paul, beseeching God that he might be delivered from his infirmity, received the following response from Christ:“My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity.” St. Paul therefore concludes:

Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful. (2 Cor. 12: 8-10).

 We now should be able to see why it is that to pray for the grace to desire “that others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should” is the petition which would seem to penetrate deeper than all the rest. There is nowhere where our love of self is more encrusted than in our relationships with our fellow man. And of course the ultimate expression of this spiritual pride is to envy the holiness of others, and to equate our own ultimate happiness above all others through possession of that “status” in which we shall receive the reward which the disciples James and John sought after – of receiving the right to sit at the right and left hand of Christ on His throne. Our Lord’s response was to call all the Twelve together and declare to them:

You know that they who seem to rule over the Gentiles, lord it over them: and their princes have power over them. But it is not so among you: but whosoever will be greater, shall be your minister. And whosoever will be first among you, shall be the servant of all. For the Son of man also is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as redemption for many.” (Mark 10: 35-45)

In the depths of the Cross dwells that perfect joy and power of truly desiring, according to the will of Christ, to gather the crumbs under Our Lord’s table, and to be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. And in this lies that perfect love of the children of God which springs forth as the Life of Christ overcoming and replacing the ravages of self-love. It is here where the motherly care of Our Lady bears fruit in our rendering pure glory to God:

My soul doth magnify the Lord.

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid

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St. Francis of Assisi: They Pretended to Love You So that They Might Leave You

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Saint Francis of Assisi:

They Pretended to Love You So That They Might Leave You

 “In no one has the image of Christ our Lord and the ideal of Gospel life been more faithfully and strikingly expressed than in Francis. For this reason, while he called himself ‘the Herald of the great King’, he has justly been styled ‘the second Christ’, because he appeared like Christ reborn to his contemporaries no less than to later ages.” (Pope Pius XI, Rite Expiatis)

*(Note): What follows is the first and second installments in a three-part series on St. Francis.

 

I believe that we have to go back to the Thirteenth Century in order to understand the crisis which has now largely decimated the Catholic Church. What happened almost eight hundred years ago instituted a spiraling process of betrayal which culminated in the chastisement from God which we have experienced as the post-Vatican Council II Church. That we now think Vatican II to be the source of this crisis, rather than its fruit, serves to indicate the degree to which self-delusion is the mistress of such betrayal. The darkness which has collectively descended over the Catholic mind, and the resultant ignorance in regard to the roots of its own illness, is now almost universal.

The thirteenth century was “The Greatest of Centuries,” not primarily because it was the century in which there were great Saints, magnificent cathedrals, Catholic monarchs, or even because it was the century in which all the principles of Catholic Faith and Catholic life were, to a significant extent, incarnated into the institutions of society. These “fruits” (to the limited extent to which they were realized) were derivative, rather than causative. Rather, it was the greatest of centuries because it was in this century that God bathed both human intellect and will in the transparent light of His own presence to the world. By so doing, he infused into our cultural “vision” an iconography of the perfect ordering of these two faculties towards both the created and the Divine orders. The two primary vehicles of this revelation were St. Francis and St. Thomas. And this, not primarily because of their personal holiness, but because of the double-vision of life (the living of the Beatitudes) and Truth which God revealed through them.

Correspondingly, the roots of that spiritual decay which has increasingly penetrated Christian civilization over the past 7-8 centuries, and which has now culminated in the virtual death of this civilization, can be identified with two causative factors: 1) the stripping away from St. Francis of his Religious Order through the destruction of the ideal of Poverty, in which the Gospel light of purity of heart [which “sees God”] was manifested to the world in all its fullness; and, 2) the rejection of the purity of Thomistic Metaphysics, which contained the intellectual framework and vision absolutely necessary to our perception of the transparency of all creation, and therefore also integral to this vision of God’s presence in the world. This twofold violation – of Franciscan Poverty and Thomistic Metaphysics – in turn engendered a war between Franciscan and Dominican spirituality which has been perpetuated down through the centuries. Such conflict could only have happened through a falsification of the charisms of both Orders. As Francis and Dominic literally embraced in their own lives, so did God intend the embrace of Franciscan and Dominican (especially in the form of Thomism) spirituality to endure until the end of time.

The Thirteenth century was poised on the cusp of the Renaissance, and the flood of pagan concupiscence and intellectual pride which was about to inundate Christendom. In the heart of this threatened world, God planted the two gifts of Franciscan Poverty and Thomistic Realism as Icons of Love and Truth, the vision of which would infuse every aspect of human culture with all that was necessary to protect it from these evils. These Gifts were rejected, and this rejection initiated a fundamental posture of prostitution towards the world which, like a slow-moving cancer, has eaten away at the heart of the Church for centuries. Wrongly, therefore, do we now wail at the post-Vatican II ruin of our Catholic world as though it were a sudden calamity unjustly inflicted. As we shall see, ours is a chastisement long merited.

In previous articles, we have dealt more extensively with the Gift of Thomas, and its rejection. Most of this article will focus on St. Francis, but with some emphasis on integrating the visions of these two great Saints.

 

St. Francis: The Key to Catholic Restoration

“Here the broad highway of the old world changed into the narrow way to life eternal.”

The above-quoted passage, taken from the early life of St. Francis titled The Mirror of Perfection (Speculum Perfectionis – to be designated here as SC)), speaks of that moment of God’s radical intervention in human history which was the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The great, tragic irony is that, despite the immense popularity of the Saint himself, even during his lifetime, this grace was almost immediately compromised and falsified by many who claimed to be his friends.

It may indeed seem disproportionate to place so much spiritual and historical importance upon one man, and the particular grace to the Church and the world which he represented. It would seem of value therefore to begin with the evaluation of Francis made by Popes in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries who saw in the following of St. Francis the great hope for the restoration of Christian civilization, and the defeat of all those forces which threatened its destruction. In his encyclical Rite Expiatis (On the Seventh Centenary of the Death of St. Francis), Pope Pius XI wrote:

“…in no one has the image of Christ our Lord and the ideal of Gospel life been more faithfully and strikingly expressed than in Francis. For this reason, while he called himself “the Herald of the great King,” he has justly been styled “the second Christ,” because he appeared like Christ reborn to his contemporaries no less than to later ages….”

Pope Benedict XV, in Sacra Propediem, expressed similar sentiments:

The words of St. Paul, ‘Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ,’ we may justly apply to Francis, who by following Christ has become His most perfect image and likeness.”

Popes such as Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, and Pius XI all saw in this “following” of St. Francis something that was the key to overcoming the crisis of the present age:

“[St. Francis] has been appointed by Our Predecessor [Pope Leo XIII] as heavenly patron of the so-called Catholic Action, being a man destined by God for the reformation not only of his own turbulent age but of Christian society in all times.” (Rite Expiatis).

This translated into a call from these Popes for virtually all Catholics to join the Third Order of St. Francis:

We do urge all Christians not to be behindhand in joining the ranks of this soldiery of Christ.” (Leo XIII, Auspicato).

Urge those who have not yet entered this distinguished militia to do so this year. And let those who are too young become Cordbearers of St. Francis so that even the children may grow accustomed to the life.” (Rite Expiatis).

In other words, the gift of God which is the life and ideal of St. Francis of Assisi is to be seen not only as of a sort of general inspiration and motivation towards holiness, as is the case with all saints, but for a very specific purpose – for salvation of Christian civilization from all those forces which intend its destruction.

We should be startled by this assessment. No one could possibly conclude that the Franciscan Order of today possesses the power or grace to reform or save Christian civilization. The application of such terms as “militia” and “soldier” to the Franciscan Order now seems for the most part laughable, and the notion that children should be “Cordbearers” in such a militia seems even more absurd. Something happened which virtually destroyed the power of this inestimable gift from God. In order to understand this “something”, we need to penetrate to the heart of Francis’ life and ideal, and then unravel the betrayal which ensued.

 

An Icon in Stone

It is appropriate, I think, to begin with an iconographic depiction of this grace and its betrayal.

Four kilometers from Assisi is the Basilica ofSanta Maria degli Angeli, the seventh largest church in Christendom, built over and around the original home of the Franciscan Order. Within this magnificent and massive structure, and directly under the cupola, stands a tiny church (only 22’ X 13’6”) called the Portiuncula (the word translates as “little portion of land”). The Portiuncula is the singular place on this earth most beloved to St. Francis; it is where he founded his Order, and where he passionately desired the most perfect preservation of his ideal. And, in St. Francis’ own words, “Of all the churches in the world that the blessed Virgin loves, she bears the greatest love for this one.” (Legend of Perugia, 9 – hereafter abbreviated LP)).

It is especially important to understand that the Portiuncula was never owned by Francis or the Order. To this day, the Franciscans pay an annual rent of one basket of fish to the Benedictines for its use.

The ideal which St. Francis desired to be preserved in this most holy of Franciscan sites was the Franciscan charism of Poverty. We must realize that Francis’ ideal of Poverty soared far beyond the evangelical counsel of poverty which we associate with the religious life. His “Lady Poverty” extended to all that is human – both interior and exterior. It encompassed the entirety of the Gospel – the mystery of Christ assuming absolute servitude and poverty for our salvation: God, poor in His birth, poor in His life and public ministry, and embracing absolute Poverty in His Death. As emphasized by Popes Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI, Francis’ charism of poverty penetrated to the heart of the perfect imitation of Jesus Christ: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58).

Because St. Francis considered the Portiuncula to be “holy, beloved, and chosen before all others by Christ and the glorious Virgin” (SP, 55), and because he intensely desired that the Portiuncula be the example and model for all the rest of the order, he gave minute instructions before his death for the preservation of this ideal. These instructions applied first of all to all those practices which cultivate the interior life of holiness – silence, prayer, holy conversation, physical labor, fasting and other forms of physical mortification. Especially, he sought to keep this place free from worldly conversation and news, and free from all that is not edifying. He gave specific instructions as to the qualities needed in the clergy and friars who were to reside and serve here, and he stated, “I do not wish anyone else, whether layfolk or friars, to enter this place, except the Minister General and the lay-brothers who serve them.” (Ibid.).

During St. Francis’ life, the General Chapter was held at the Portiuncula. The only dwelling that the friars had for their gathering was a small, poor hut covered with straw, the walls being constructed of branches and mud. Francis returned from one of the provinces to find that the citizens of Assisi had hastily erected a larger building for their use. Francis’ response was radical and drastic. He ordered his brothers up on the roof, and they began tearing off the tiles and throwing them to the ground, with the intention of demolishing the whole building. The citizens of Assisi finally persuaded Francis to desist from his project of demolition, employing the argument that this particular building belonged to the community of Assisi, and was not in any way to be perceived as the property of the Friars Minor.

At another time, the Minister General (most likely Francis’ Vicar, Brother Elias) decided to build two small houses close to the Church of the Portiuncula because of the increasing number of brothers and general population who came to this place, and because “it was practically impossible for them to provide for the needs of physical health and their spiritual life.” (LP,12)). Upon returning from a journey, and having discovered this construction almost completed, Francis sent for the minister general and said to him: “Brother, this friary is the model and mirror of our Order. So that the brothers of the entire Order who come here may take back to their friaries the good example of poverty, I wish that the brothers of this friary bear with inconvenience and disturbance for the love of the Lord God rather than experience tranquility and consolations.”

There is therefore no question that the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, in all the various dimensions of its physical and spiritual grandiosity, amounts to a profound betrayal of St. Francis. One cannot help but call to mind the words of Our Lord: “Woe to you who build the monuments of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.” (Luke 11:47). The difference here being that with the tragedy which has befallen the Portiuncula, it was not St. Francis himself who was slain, but his ideal.

 

The Franciscan Ideal

Francis knew that what God intended to accomplish through his Order was something radically different from all other religious Orders. In his Testament, written shortly before his death, and designed not as another rule, but “that we may observe in a more Catholic way the Rule we have promised to God, ”St. Francis wrote the following:

When God gave me some friars, there was no one to tell me what I should do; but the Most High himself made it clear to me that I must live the life of the Gospel. I had this written down briefly and simply and his holiness the Pope confirmed it for me [this early Rule has been lost]. Those who embraced this life gave everything to the poor. They were satisfied with one habit which was patched inside and outside, and a cord, and trousers. We refused to have anything more…The friars must be very careful not to accept churches or poor dwellings for themselves, or anything else built for them unless they are in harmony with the poverty which we have promised in the Rule; and they should occupy these places as strangers and pilgrims [no ownership]. In virtue of obedience, I strictly forbid the friars, wherever they may be, to petition the Roman Curia, either personally or through an intermediary, for a papal brief, whether it concerns a church or any other place, or even in order to preach, or because they are being persecuted… They should always have this writing [the Testament] with them as well as the Rule and at the chapters they hold, when the Rule is read, they should read these words also. In virtue of obedience, I strictly forbid any of my friars, clerics or lay brothers, to interpret the Rule or these words, saying, ‘This is what they mean.’ God inspired me to write the Rule and these words plainly and simply, and so you too must understand them plainly and simply, and live by them, doing good to the last.”

St. Francis envisioned such poverty for both individual friars and the Order as a whole. He gave strict orders that all friars must beg, that they must never touch money, that they must labor with their hands, they must never ride an animal unless sickness or old age demands such mercy, that all buildings must be extremely poor and constructed only of mud and wood, that they must not own books or pursue learning, etc.

As the Order grew in numbers, these demands became insupportable to Brother Elias and many of the provincial ministers. The Speculum Perfectionis offers an account of an incident which occurred quite late in life, during the period when he was writing the Rule of 1223. It is worth quoting in full, since it presents to us the Francis that very few wish to know:

“After the second Rule written by blessed Francis had been lost, he went up a mountain (Monte Colombo, near Rieti) with Brother Leo of Assisi and Brother Bonizo of Bologna, to draw up another, and under the guidance of Christ he had it written down. But many Ministers came in a body to Brother Elias, the Vicar of blessed Francis [Francis had resigned], and said, ‘We hear that Brother Francis is drawing up a new Rule, and we fear that he will make it so harsh that it will be impossible for us to keep it. So we would like you to go and tell him that we are not willing to be bound by this Rule. Let him make it for himself, and not for us.’ But Brother Elias feared a rebuke from the holy Father, and refused to go. And when they all pressed him, he said that he would not go without them, so they all went together.

When Brother Elias approached the place where blessed Francis was standing, he called to him. And when he had answered and saw the Ministers, he asked, ‘What do these Brothers want?’ Brother Elias said, ‘They are Ministers, who hear that you are drawing up a new Rule, and they fear that you intend to make it too hard. They refuse to be bound by it, and ask you to make it for yourself, and not for them.’

At this blessed Francis raised his face to heaven and spoke to Christ, saying, ‘Lord, was I not right when I said that they would not believe me?’ And all present heard the voice of Christ answer from heaven, ‘Francis, nothing in this Rule is yours; for all is Mine. I wish the Rule to be obeyed to the letter, to the letter, without a gloss, without a gloss. I know what the frailty of man can achieve, and I know how much I intend to help them. So let those who are not willing to obey the Rule leave the Order.’ [Emphasis mine]

Then blessed Francis turned to the friars and said, ‘You have heard! You have heard! Do you want this to be repeated?’ And the Ministers confessed their fault and went away confused and terrified.” (SP, 1).

Elias and the Ministers of course had a reasonable concern – reasonable at least from the perspective of every worldly concern imaginable. The Order had grown astronomically. There were all the issues of housing, feeding, government, discipline, etc. normally associated with such a large organization. It was only natural for the Church hierarchy, including the Pope, to desire that the Order be established as an efficient organization for ministry and missionary activity. All this seemed impossible under Francis’ radical prohibitions against everything which insured any sort of stability or security for the Order, or which failed to provide security in regard to the “necessities” of life. Over and over again, we find Francis reiterating the same prescription for being a Friar Minor: “I assure you, brother, that it has been and remains my first and last intention and desire – had the brethren only believed me – that no friar should possess anything but a habit, a cord, and an undergarment, as our Rule allows.” [sometimes he would add ‘shoes in the case of necessity’].

It is extremely important to understand that the objections raised by Elias and the Ministers, and the rationale used to justify these objections, were fully understood by St. Francis, and completely rejected by him. Francis received assurance directly from Christ that this extreme ideal of Poverty was the will of God for the Franciscan Order, no matter how large the Order became or what difficulties might be encountered with the increase and spread of the Order. The early life of St. Francis titled Mirror of Perfection recalls the following incident:

When the Friar Ministers urged him to allow the friars to possess something, at least in common, so that so great a company might have some resources, blessed Francis called upon Christ in prayer, and took counsel with Him on the matter. And Christ at once answered him, saying, ‘It is My will to withhold all things from them, both in general and in particular. I will always be ready to provide for the family, however great it may become, and I will always cherish it so long as it shall trust in Me.” (SP, 13).

The simple, historical fact is that many provincial ministers, Minister Generals like Elias and St. Bonaventure, and future Popes, chose to trust neither Francis nor Christ.

The rejection of the Gift of God which was St. Francis and his ideal was not the accomplishment of men who intended evil towards the Franciscan Order, but rather a work of benighted love coming from his friends. Ministers and Popes (except, apparently, Innocent III) simply did not understand what God intended to do through St. Francis, and did not believe that his ideal could be realized on the scale of a large Religious Order. Francis’ response was simply to resign.

It is rationally incontestable that the life of no other Saint has been falsified to the extreme extent as has been the life of St. Francis. As we have seen, the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels is an icon of this betrayal in stone. But the falsification courses deep into every aspect of Francis’ life and message. This is especially true of the conventional rational given for his resignation as head of the Order.

Francis’ illness was certainly a sufficient excuse justifying his resignation, but it was not the determining reason. Responding to a question from one of his friars concerning this matter, Francis said:

I put the Order back in the hands of God and of the ministers. I relinquished my post and resigned, excusing myself at the general chapter because my sickness would not allow me to care for the brothers. And yet, if the brothers had walked and were still walking according to my will, I would prefer that they have no other minister but myself until the day of my death. In fact, when subjects are good and faithful, when they know and fulfill the will of their superior, then the superior has scarcely any anxiety concerning them. What is more, I would experience such joy seeing the quality of the brothers and such comfort at the thought of our progress that I would let them have their own way and I would feel no added burden, even if I were nailed to a bed through sickness.

My duty, my mandate as superior of the brothers, is of a spiritual order because I must repress vices and correct them. But if through my exhortations and my example I can neither suppress nor correct them, I do not wish to become an executioner who punishes and flogs, as the secular arm does. I have confidence in the Lord that they will be punished by invisible enemies (those valets of the Lord in charge of punishing in this world and in the next those who transgress God’s commandments); they will be punished and corrected by the men of this world to their great shame and confusion, and in that way they will return to their profession and vocation.” ( Legend of Perugia, 76).

The Mirror of Perfection relates a similar question from one of the friars, and records the following response of Francis: “For some of the superiors pull them in another direction, holding up to them as patterns the men of long ago, and disregarding warnings. But what they are doing and the way in which they are now acting will appear more clearly in the end.” The author then closes his account of this incident with the following:

And shortly afterwards, when he was burdened with severe illness, he raised himself in bed, and cried out in vehemence of spirit, ‘Who are these who have torn my Order and my friars out of my hands? If I come to the General Chapter I will make my intention clear!’”

Having established the fact of St. Francis’ consuming passion for total Poverty, and its absolute centrality in regard to the Gift which God intended as the Franciscan Order, we need to penetrate to the reasons for this love.

 

Sacrum Commercium

Possibly the most revealing and enchanting of all the early works on the life of St. Francis is a work composed in the year 1227 (one year after Francis’ death), titled Sacrum Commercium. The title literally means “holy commerce or exchange.” It is an allegory depicting Francis’ romance with Lady Poverty, penetrating to the depths of the meaning and centrality of this virtue, and examining its history among men.

The Prologue to Sacrum Commercium begins as follows:

Among all the excellent and excelling virtues that prepares in man a place and a dwelling for God and show man the better and easier way of going to God and of arriving at him, holy poverty stands out above all the rest by a certain precedence and excels the glory of the others by its singular grace, for it is indeed the foundation of all other virtues and their guardian, and it rightly stands first both in place [Poverty stands at the head of the list of Beatitudes] and its name among other evangelical virtues. The other virtues need not fear the pouring down of rain, the coming of floods, and the blowing of winds that threaten destruction, so long as they are solidly established upon this foundation of poverty.

This is indeed as it should be, for the Son of God, ‘the Lord of hosts and the king of glory’, loved this virtue with a special predilection, sought it out, and found it, when he wrought our salvation upon this earth. At the beginning of his preaching he placed this virtue as a light in the hands of those who enter the portal of faith and made it the foundation stone of his house. The other virtues receive the kingdom of heaven only in promise from him; poverty, however, is already invested with it without delay. For ‘blessed are the poor in spirit, he said, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’.

“Very properly is the kingdom of heaven said to be the possession of those who keep nothing of the goods of this world through their own will, their inclination towards spiritual things, and their desire for eternal things. For it can only follow that a person will live on heavenly things if he cares nothing for earthly things, and he who renounces all earthly things and ‘counts them as dung’ will taste with pleasure the savory crumbs that fall from the table of the holy angels and will deserve to taste how sweet and how good the Lord is.”

It is worthwhile noting here that St. Thomas establishes a one-to-one correlation between the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the first seven Beatitudes. The First Beatitude, Poverty, corresponds to the First Gift of the Holy Spirit – Fear of the Lord. And just as Fear of the Lord is “the beginning of wisdom” and therefore the pre-requisite for all further growth in the spirit, so Poverty is the foundation of all the other virtues, and therefore the pre-requisite for all advancement in living the Gospel life of the Beatitudes. We must be poor to all the things of this world if we are to become rich in God.

Sacrum Commercium offers a unique contribution to early Franciscan literature, because of its examination of the history of Poverty among men. Lady Poverty, in her conversation on the top of the “mountain of the Lord” (where St. Francis and his companions had ascended to meet her), stated her intention: “I therefore wish to recount for you, if listening to me will not bore you, the long but none the less useful history of my status, that you might learn how you ought to walk to please God, taking care not to look back once you have willed to put your hand to the plow.”

After examining the creation of man in Paradise, wherein “possessing nothing, he belonged entirely to God,” Lady Poverty then details man’s Fall from innocence, his being clothed with “the skins of the dead,” and his being cast out of Paradise “to multiply his labors that he might become rich,” and to await in tears and sorrow for a Redeemer – “until the Most High came into the world from the bosom of the Father, he who sought me [Lady Poverty] out most graciously.”

In turn, when Christ was to return to the Father, He sent his Apostles and Disciples out into the world in this same spirit of Poverty – “Everyone of you who does not renounce all that he possesses cannot be my disciple” – in order to convert all peoples back to God and the living of the Gospel.

This devotion to Lady Poverty overflowed into all the early followers of Christ. She refers specifically to the passages in the Book of Acts which details the character of their lives;

And all they that believed, were together, and had all things in common. Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as everyone had need. And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they took their meat with gladness and simplicity of heart; Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord increased daily together such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:44-47).

And:

“And the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul: neither did any one say that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but all things were common unto them. And with great power did the apostles give testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord; and great grace was in them all. For neither was there any one needy among them. For as many as were owners of lands or houses, sold them, and brought the price of the things they sold, and laid it down before the feet of the apostles. And distribution was made to every one according as he had need.” (Acts 4:32-35).

It is clear from the above two passages that it was precisely this “commercium” of Poverty among the early followers of Christ that merited the grace for the massive conversions of early peoples to Christ and the Gospel. In the words of Lady Poverty,

The truth of their words [in the Book of Acts] remained for a long time among many, at least as long as the blood of the poor Crucified One was warm in their memory, and the overflowing chalice of his passion filled their hearts unto inebriation…Enduring, this victory lasted for a long time, so that each day a thousand thousands were sealed with the seal of the most high King.”

Lady Poverty then proceeds to recount the great disaster that descended upon early Christianity:

But alas! After not too long a time, peace was made, and that peace was more disastrous than any war. In the beginning few were sealed; toward the middle, still fewer; and at the end, very few indeed. And now certainly in peace is my bitterness most bitter when all flee from me, all drive me away; I am needed by none, I am abandoned by all. Peace was granted me by my enemies, but not by my own; peace from strangers, but not from my own children.”

It is quite revealing that in my 32 years as a Catholic I have never heard the above passages from the Book of Acts given any serious treatment (even though they are part of the cycle of readings during Mass), and never heard any explanation for the disaster which destroyed this early purity of Christian living.

The Early Church Fathers, who lived in these times of decay, were not always so silent. St. Cyprian of Carthage (250 A.D.) wrote a work titled The Unity of the Church. It was quoted extensively in Pope Leo XIII’s own encyclical on The Unity of the Church (Satis Cognitum). In the following passage from St. Cyprian’s work, I would ask the reader to note carefully the extent to which he clearly makes orthodox belief and “unity of mind” dependent upon Poverty, and the Charity which is its “commercium:”

This common mind prevailed once, in the time of the Apostles; this was the spirit in which the new community of the believers obeyed Our Lord’s commands and maintained charity with one another. The Scriptures are witness to it: ‘But the crowd of those who had come to believe acted with one mind and soul.’ And again: ‘They were all persevering with one mind in prayer with the women and Mary who had been the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren’ And that was the reason why their prayers were efficacious, that was why they could be confident of obtaining whatever they asked of God’s mercy.

“But amongst us, that unity of mind has weakened in proportion as the generosity of our charity has crumbled away. In those days, they would sell their houses and estates and lay up to themselves treasure in heaven by giving the money to the Apostles for distribution to those in need. But now, we do not even give tithes on our patrimony, and whereas Our Lord tells us to sell, we buy instead and accumulate. To such an extent have our people lost their old steadfastness in belief. That is why Our Lord says in His Gospel, with an eye on our times: ‘The Son of man, when He cometh, shall He find, think you, faith on earth?’”

We need not get lost in trying to figure the extent to which this “having all things in common” was external. There could be endless, useless speculation in this regard. It is clear, however, that these first Christians broke bread “from house to house”, and that at least some therefore possessed their own homes. We need speculate no further in this regard than did the writer of the Epistle to Diognetes, writing almost 100 years later (130 A.D.): “They have a common table, but not a common bed.” It was the spirit that mattered – the externals obviously had their limits. As the passage from Acts 4 states, “Neither did any one say that aught of the things which he possessed was his own”. Their physical poverty was real, but not absolute. Their “spirit of poverty”, on the other hand, was quite absolute indeed. This Christian heart in which this spirit was operative was aptly described in the following passage from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (7: 29-31):

This therefore I say, brethren; the time is short; it remaineth, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as if they used it not: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

And what makes this spirit possible?

The above-quoted passages from Acts has been quoted in order to exemplify the simplicity and poverty which was the core charism of the early Christians and St. Francis. But these scriptures also expose to our vision something deeper within the human heart, which makes such simplicity and poverty both possible and necessary. The one word which would seem to best expresses this “something” is “Immediacy”. It is the immediacy – defined as “the quality of bringing one into direct and instant involvement with something, giving rise to a sense of urgency or excitement” – which most characterizes the heart of these first Christians, and of St. Francis and his faithful followers. And this immediacy is at the same time always present – it penetrated into all that these first Christians did, and every moment and part of their existence. Repeating what Lady Poverty says in Sacrum Commercium, “ “The truth of their words [in the Book of Acts] remained for a long time among many, at least as long as the blood of the poor Crucified One was warm in their memory, and the overflowing chalice of his passion filled their hearts unto inebriation…Enduring, this victory lasted for a long time, so that each day a thousand thousands were sealed with the seal of the most high King.”

Interestingly, God’s demand that man recognize the immediacy of His presence, and be constantly Innebriated with his presence, is not something which only became possible after the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Possibly the greatest passage in all of scripture depicting this “spirit” is to be found in Deuteronomy:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our god is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength.

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: and thou shalt tell them to thy children, and thou shalt meditate upon them sitting in thy house, and walking on thy journey, sleeping and rising. And thou shalt bind them as a sign on thy hand, and they shall be and shall move between the eyes.” Deut 6:4-8).

This image of the constant presence of God “moving between the eyes” is possibly the greatest mystical image in all of Christian literature. We are dealing here with human hearts and minds possessed by God in all their thoughts and activities.

It is this immediacy of the human heart among these first Christians which made possible the “single eye” which directed everything towards Christ. Further, this immediacy made possible not only this singular relationship with Christ, but with others who were members of His Body, and it also enabled true charity towards all other human beings (both friends and enemies) simply because they were all created “by Him, and in Him” (Colossians 1:16).

This profoundly “common” union of hearts with Christ and one another merited the grace that “the Lord increased daily such as should be saved”. This is why we see so many miracles among the early Christians, why we see the fulfillment of Our Lord’s words that “you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7), why 3,000 would be converted one day ,and 5,000 another, and that there could be such astonishingly rapid conversions of whole people and nations to Christ.

It is not at all necessary to be utopian in order to understand the unique spirit of these first Christians. Where there is human nature, there is always sin. We see these sins in the story of Ananias and Saphira, who sold land, gave part while hypocritically pretending to give all, and were punished by God. We see it present in the various churches as revealed in the letters of St. Paul, especially those to the Corinthians, in regard to the unseemly behavior indulged in at Agape Feasts, the adulterous behavior of a son with his Father’s wife, the competition of various factions who claimed to be followers of one teacher in opposition to others, etc. We explore the lives of these early Christians not because the perfection of human beings was across-the board accomplished, but because it was indeed present and visible in a way which it is not now – present to such an extent as to merit all sorts of extraordinary graces from God, and in a way which can clearly be contrasted with our present nakedness in this regard.

And so, we are compelled to ask the inevitable question: What happened within the depths of the souls of Catholics during the early decades and centuries of the Christian era which compromised this immediacy of Christ presence within the followers of Christ, and profoundly diminished the visible evidence of the power of God’s grace operative through them? Again, the answer is to be found in scripture – this time most aptly expressed in the Letter of St. James:

You ask, and receive not; because you ask amiss: that you may consume it on your concupiscences”> (James 4;3).

Everything we have is a gift from God. To see the life of Christ which is “the light of men” (John 1: 4), and to follow this life and light with an upright heart is to remain in the immediacy and presence of God’s Truth and Life. Sin, both original and personal, is the turning aside the gifts of God in order to possess and use them as our own possessions: “All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way….” (Isaiah 53: 6). We all tend to do it. The extent to which we do it corresponds to the degree to which God’s immediacy and presence is lost to us, and we become immersed in hypocrisy and duplicity. At a certain point we enter into the spiritual death of mortal sin.

 

Lady Poverty and the Beatitude of Society

The nature of the Gift which God intended to give to societies through St. Francis, and which the world (including most of his own Order) rejected, is possibly best seen through St. Francis’ teaching on begging. In the Legend of Perugia, #3, we encounter the following:

My dear brothers and sons, do not be ashamed to go begging for alms, for God became poor for our sake in this world. That is why we have chosen the road of genuine poverty in imitation of his example and that of his holy Mother: this is the inheritance that our Lord Jesus Christ has acquired and left us, to us and to those who, following him, have chosen to live in holy poverty.” Then he added, “In truth I say to you, many nobles and scholars of this world will enter our Order, and will consider themselves highly honored to beg for alms. Go therefore and beg with confidence, with a joyful heart, and with the blessing of God. You ought to ask for alms with more cheerfulness and joy than a man who would offer a hundred pennies for one: in exchange for the alms that you solicit, you will offer the love of God, since you will say: ‘Give us an alms for the love of God!’ and heaven and earth are nothing when compared to this love.”

Francis envisioned a dynamic of charity at the heart of the relationship between his Order and the rest of the world. The Franciscan imitation of Christ’s Poverty was to be lived to the fullest extent by his brothers. The extraordinary graces received through this imitation of Christ were to be communicated to others through example, works of charity, and the preaching of the Gospel. The faithful would merit and receive these graces through their providing the extremely simple necessities of life required by the friars. The fact that the graces received by these early Franciscans were real, extraordinary, and abundant is testified to by the plentiful early accounts of Francis and his companions who were faithful to their Franciscan vocation. The fact that the faithful responded to these graces in vast numbers is testified to by the incredibly rapid spread of the order, the large number of conversions, the early establishment and proliferation of the Third Order, the miracles, healings, miraculous resolution of enmities, etc. And it all came down to a formula of the most startling simplicity: one friar living Absolute Poverty, with all its implications both exterior and interior; and, on the other hand, one person, rich or poor, whose heart was open to receive these graces, and to respond with a slice of bread, bowl of soup, and possibly a humble place to spend the night. Although it is not recorded that St. Francis expressed his ideal in exactly this formula as just stated, it all comes down to this eminently simple, and fully realizable, ideal.

There would be no limit to the number of friars who could realistically follow such a life. Correspondingly, there would be no limit to the graces received by individuals, or by whole societies and nations which opened themselves up to such a living of the Gospel. Sin would, of course, continue to exist. But the graces penetrating into the heart of those societies which had embraced this experiment, would have prevented the growth not only of the unlimited materialism, avarice, usury, consumerism, impurity, murder of the unborn, and the incessant warfares which now scourge mankind in the flesh, but also all the manifestations of intellectual hubris – reductive science, technological oppression, and philosophical and theological error and heresy – which have now reduced the vast majority of men to intellectual and spiritual insanity.

It is also very important to understand that St. Francis founded the first Third Order for lay people. The Rule that he established for the Third Order of course did not require the extreme poverty which was to be the way of his Friars. Rather, it established them in that spirit of poverty which would empower lay people to engage effectively in that battle against the allurements of this world which are the ruin of the spiritual life. It will be worthwhile here to quote a rather long passage from Thomas of Celano’s First Life of St. Francis.

Francis, therefore, Christ’s valiant knight, went round the cities and fortresses proclaiming the Kingdom of God, preaching peace, teaching salvation and repentance for the remission of sins, not with plausible words of human wisdom, but with the learning and power of the Spirit. The Apostolic authority which had been granted him enabled him to act in all things with greater confidence, without using flattery or seducing blandishments. Incapable of caressing the faults of certain men, he could pierce them; incapable of showing favor to the lives of sinners, he could smite them with sharp reproof because he had first persuaded himself by practice of that which he endeavored to commend to others by his words; and without fear of any reprover he uttered the truth most confidently, so that even the most learned men, mighty in renown and dignity, wondered at his discourses and were smitten by his presence with wholesome fear. Men ran, women too ran, clerks hastened, and Religious made speed to see and hear the Saint of God who seemed to all to be a man of another world. People of every age and either sex hastened to behold the wonders which the Lord was newly working in the world by His servant. Surely at that time, whether by Holy Francis’ presence or by the fame [of him], it seemed that, as it were, a new light had been sent from heaven on earth, scattering the universal blackness of darkness which has so seized on well-nigh the whole of that region, that scarce any one knew whither he must go. For such depth of forgetfulness of God and such slumber of neglect of His commandments had oppressed almost all that they could scarce endure to be roused, even slightly, from their old and inveterate sins.”

He darted his beams like a star shining in the gloom of night, and as it were the morning spread over the darkness; and thus it came to pass that in all short time the face of the whole province was changed, and she appeared of more cheerful countenance, the former foulness having everywhere been laid aside. The former dryness was done away and in the field erstwhile hard the crops sprang up quickly; the untended vine began moreover to put forth shoots of divine fragrance, and, after bearing blossoms of sweetness, yielded fruits of honor and virtue together. Everywhere thanksgiving and the voice of praise were resounding in such wise that many cast away the cares of the world, and in the life and teaching of the most blessed father Francis gained knowledge of themselves, and aspired to love of their Creator and reverence for Him. Many among the people, nobles and plebeians, clerks and lay-folk, pierced by God’s inspiration, began to come to holy Francis, longing evermore to fight under his discipline and leadership: all of whom the Saint of God, like a plenteous stream of heavenly grace, watered with anointing showers, and beautified the field of their hearts with flowers of virtue. Truly an excellent craftsman after whose pattern, rule and teaching, heralded with noteworthy proclamation, Christ’s Church is being renewed in either sex, and is triumphing in a threefold army of men who are to be saved. For he assigned to all their rule of life, and pointed out truly the way to be saved in every station.”

True religious poverty is, of course the antidote to all sin. It establishes the soul in the first Beatitude, by which the soul lives in that spiritual simplicity which is poor to all the things of this world, and is thereby enabled to see God in all things: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” It is always tempting to believe that such “spiritual poverty” can be lived in the midst of external affluence, but this is most often a delusion. We are incarnate beings, and the life we live in the flesh necessarily resonates in the spirit.

St. Paul flatly states “For the love of money is the root of all evils.” It is worthwhile here to interject the teaching of St. Thomas on this subject, for it offers a striking confirmation of the necessity of poverty in the life of both individuals and societies.

Analyzing the distinction between the “beginning of all sin” on the one hand, and “the root of all sin” on the other, St. Thomas writes:

We must therefore say that pride, even as denoting a special sin, is the beginning of every sin….On the other hand, in the order of execution, the first place belongs to that which by furnishing the opportunity of fulfilling all desires of sin, has the character of a root, and such are riches; so that, from this point of view, covetousness is said to be the root of all evils…” (ST, I-II, Q.84, a.1)

And since “every sin includes an inordinate turning to a mutable good” (Ibid., Q.72, a.2), it then follows:

Accordingly, we must say that covetousness, as denoting a special sin, is called the root of all sins, in likeness to the root of a tree, in furnishing sustenance to the whole tree. For we see that by riches man acquires the means of committing any sin whatever, and of sating his desire for any sin whatever, since money helps man to obtain all manner of temporal goods, according to Eccles 10:19: All things obey money: so that in this sense desire for riches is the root of all sins.” (Ibid., Q.84, a.1).

A world which played host to vast numbers of Francis’ Friars Minor would be one in which the root of all sin was parched by the heavy cross upon which Christ thirsted. It would bear little resemblance to the world under which we are crushed today. This is true not only of the lower world of luxuries and specific sins of the passions, but also the “higher” realms of man’s social and intellectual activities. It is riches which build modern economies, the unnatural life of cities, and the stilted technological world in which we try to raise our families. It is money which feeds the endless quest of reductive scientific research and the anti-God mentality which is inevitably its concubine. It is the world of finance which constructs the engines and schemes of international warfare. And it is money that maintains the Ivory Towers where modern philosophers and theologians culture their pestilence and perversities.

It need not have happened.

 

Part II

St. Francis of Assisi: They Pretended to Love You So That They Might Leave You

 

Introduction

One of the most difficult things for us to comprehend as faithful Catholics is how it can be possible for good men, even those who might be saints or those whom we might consider to be great Popes or other members of the hierarchy, to teach things which are very wrong (even to the extent of objective heresy), or to pursue pastoral policies and acts of government which produce evil fruits. And yet the history of the Church contains many such examples. Possibly the most succinct formulation of this phenomena is to be found in the words of Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana in the year 1594: ”For the time will come when the devils will try to demolish this Convent, availing themselves of both good and evil persons to achieve that end.”

What we are about to encounter in the following history of the betrayal of St. Francis and his ideal represents what might well be the most profound and extensive example in the Church’s history of Satan successfully using good men to accomplish his designs.

In preparation for examining this history, and in order to pre-empt any attempts to claim that we are engaging in an attempt to denigrate the holiness of some who might even be canonized saints, we must first therefore try here to unravel the apparent mystery as to how such a thing is possible. We also wish to emphasize that, when we speak of “betrayal”, we do not intend to claim that this necessarily involves the sort of betrayal, or “pretention of love”, which involves calculated deceit, maliciousness, loss of faith, or mortal sin. As we shall see, the betrayal which we shall be examining here often involved men who truly believed that they loved St. Francis, and that they were doing what was necessary for the survival of his Order. The “pretention” and ”betrayal” which we are about to unravel is the sort of thing which inevitably happens when faith and grace becomes weakened through trying to amalgamate them to a status of compromise with the “wisdom of this world”. It can and does, in other words, happen to the best of us. It is the plague of the consequences of original sin – what St. Augustine called “the languor of nature” – which has come to rest in the fallen nature of each one of us. We might even conclude that it is the accumulated deposit of 2,000 years of such duplicitous behavior among Catholics that has now brought the Church to such a state of prostitution towards the world as to explain its present crisis.

The key to this mystery lies in unraveling the nature of the act of faith itself. Vatican Council I defined faith in the following words:

“Man being wholly dependent upon God, as upon his Creator and Lord, and created reason    being absolutely subject to uncreated truth, we are bound to yield to God, by faith in His revelation, the full obedience of our intelligence and will. And the Catholic Church teaches that this faith, which is the beginning of man’s salvation, is a supernatural virtue, whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the things which He has revealed are true; not because the intrinsic truth of the things is plainly perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, Who reveals them, and Who can neither be deceived nor deceive.”

We tend to think of faith as predominantly an intellectual phenomenon. Yet, as the Council’s definition of faith indicates, the act of faith is not primarily dependent upon our understanding, but rather upon the act whereby assisted by the grace of God, we “yield the full obedience of our intelligence and will” to God’s Revelation. In other words, the act of faith itself demands, and is constituted by, an intimate relationship between our intellect and will. St. Thomas defines the act of faith as “an act of the intellect assenting to the Divine truth at the command of the will moved by the grace of God….” (ST, II-II, Q. 2, A.9).

This definition might at first seem dense, but it is easily unraveled.

Faith is in itself, of course, a gift of God, and therefore of God’s grace. There can be no supernatural faith without this gift. But faith is at the same time a truly human act, involving both the intellect and will, cooperating with God’s grace.

St. Thomas analysis of this human act centers upon St. Paul’s definition of faith in Heb 11:1:

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.”

Faith is an act of intellectual assent to things that “appear not.” St. Thomas notes that the intellect assents to things in two ways. In the case of things that are actually “seen” (understood by the intellect), the movement of assent is caused by the object itself. But in the case of things that are not seen, or not sufficiently seen (and therefore the objects of faith), the intellect is moved to assent by the will. The will is therefore the causative agent in the act of faith.

Obviously, this act of the will moving the intellect to the assent of faith is not arbitrary. The will does not choose in a vacuum, but is itself dependent on some degree of knowledge. There are certain truths implicit in human nature, and therefore constituting the very structure of the intellectual light of the human mind, which form the foundation of knowledge from which the will chooses to assent to the Christian Faith.

St. Thomas teaches that the proper object of the human intellect is truth, and that therefore its ultimate and final object is the First Truth which is God. At the same time, the proper object of the human will is the good, which entails that it is ordered towards the possession of the Final Good which is God. Intellect and will are therefore united in their ultimate goal.

Along the path towards this goal, however, each of these faculties, intellect and will, is distinct; and each has a unique role to play in the act of faith.

St. Thomas also teaches that there is nothing in the mind that is not first in the senses. We are born with no innate knowledge. But this does not at all mean that the mind is devoid of a specific nature, or that the intellectual light which specifies this nature, is not implicitly and instinctively drawn towards truth. In regard to the “truth” about created things, for instance, St. Thomas writes:

“And thus we must need say that the human soul knows all things in the eternal types, since by participation of these types we know all things. For the intellectual light itself which is in us, is nothing else than a participated likeness of the uncreated light, in which are contained the eternal types.” (ST I, 84, 5).

In other words, God so created us in His image as to possess a created intellectual light which indeed does see created substances as He sees them.

Similarly, the created light within us is also implicitly ordered towards God. St. Thomas writes: “man possesses a natural aptitude for understanding and loving God; and this aptitude consists in the very nature of the mind, which is common to all men.” (ST I, Q. 93, a.4). From the standpoint of the intellect, this entails that “all knowers know God implicitly in all they know.” (De Veritate, Q. 22, a.2). This does not mean that man has any innate knowledge of God, but rather that the human mind, being constituted as a created participation in the uncreated Light of God, the intellectual light that is within us is also ordered towards the structure of causation and design in God’s creation. Every known thing therefore implicitly draws our intelligence towards both the First and Final Cause Who is God. This is why St. Paul proclaimed that unbelief in God is “inexcusable,” because “the invisible things of him [God], from the beginning of the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made….” (Romans 1:20).

When we turn to the question of the will, we see that it also has a “natural aptitude” which directs it towards God as its end. This natural aptitude is rooted in the fact that the human will is created with a nature constituted in such a way as to have “the good” as its proper object, and this in turn reveals a proportion to the Infinite Goodness of God:

This “initial participation” lies precisely in the fact that the “good” to which the will naturally aspires is happiness, and that this desire for happiness can achieve its final rest only in that ultimate reward which is everlasting life in God, and which is constituted by the eternal vision of God. St. Thomas writes: “Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence.” (ST, I-II, Q. 3, a.8). Therefore, the will moves the intellect to the act of faith because such faith is the necessary condition for this reward: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb 11:6).

All of this reveals what might indeed seem to be a peculiar relationship between the human mind and its own act of faith. While faith is “certain” because of the act of will, through God’s grace which determines it to be so, it is not at all certain in relation to actual intellectual knowledge or “sight.” In a penetrating passage from De Veritate (XIV, a. 1), St. Thomas unravels this relationship:

“In faith there is some perfection and some imperfection. The firmness which pertains to the assent is a perfection, but the lack of sight, because of which the movement of discursive thought still remains in the mind of one who believes, is an imperfection. The perfection, namely, the assent, is caused by the simple light which is faith. But, since the participation in this light is not perfect, the imperfection of the understanding is not completely removed. For this reason the movement of discursive thought in it stays restless.”

It is precisely the latter “imperfection” and “restlessness” in the act of faith which has been the source of so much error propagated in the name of Christ and Christianity.

Certainly, one of the most fascinating aspects of the history of the lives of the Saints is the degree to which this “restlessness” and darkness on the part of their minds in regard to their faith led them into some quite profound and dangerous doctrinal errors.

For instance, virtually all the “Eastern Fathers” (including the three Cappadocian Fathers – St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nanzianzus) taught that no created intellect will ever see the Essence of God, but rather only His attributes or “Energies.” This, despite the fact that Holy Scripture promises that we shall see God “face to face,” and that “I shall Know [God] even as I am Known.” (1 Cor 13:12).” This denial of the substance of the Beatific Vision would eventually bear fruit in Palamite theology (the dominant theology in Eastern Orthodoxy today), which denies the Absolute Divine Simplicity of God. It is absolutely necessary Catholic theology that God is One – that His Intellect and Will, and all of His attributes such as Truth, Goodness, and Love are absolutely One is His Absolute Divine Simplicity. Any distinction which we make between God and His Attributes or “Energies” (a popular term in Eastern theology) is solely due to the fact that as finite human being we are here on this earth limited to approaching God from finite and limited perspectives. There is no “composition” or “parts” within the Infinite Being of God, and therefore for the saints in Heaven to see God “face to face necessarily entails that they will see the very Essence of God.

Another example of objective heresy (very much savoring of Gnostic influence) is to be found in St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Maximus the Confessor’s teaching that God only created the two sexes of the human species “in pre-vision of sin” – in other words, only because of His foreknowledge of man’s original sin. This, despite the fact that Holy Scripture states that “God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27). Clearly, scripture testifies to the duality of sexes as being in harmony with the image of God, and not as something which is a divine condescension or punishment “in pre-vision of sin.”

St. Maximus the Confessor went much further. In Ad Thalassium 61, he teaches that God did not create sensible pleasure and pain as integral to human nature, and that original sin consisted in the fact that the first man “at the instant he was created” turned towards sensual pleasure and human sexuality as a means for generation of the human race. And, he then concludes that only those “who are mystically reborn by his Spirit and who no longer retain the pleasure of sexual conception derived from Adam” are liberated from the condemnations of original sin.   Not only is this view redolent with the Gnostic view that all of physical creation is a decay away from the spiritual, but it also can be seen as being fully compatible with the Manichaeism belief which views all that is physical as being evil. It logically entails the negation of all that is physical, the degradation of marriage, and the destruction of the family. All of this, of course, is in direct contradiction to Holy Scripture and its teaching concerning the essential goodness of all physical creation, the dignity of human sexuality, and the nobility of marriage as an imitation of Christ and His love for the Church.

I offer these examples simply to illustrate one essential point in our discussion of the concept of faith. We absolutely cannot establish a one-to-one equation between the reality of “manifestly” believing or teaching objective heresy, on the one hand, and “not possessing the faith” on the other. In the case of the Eastern Fathers and saints mentioned above, their quite grave errors in regard to the Faith were expressed before these matters were fully defined by the Church through her Magisterium. We may assume if such had occurred during their lifetime they would have possessed the “good will” to submit to the authority of the Church eventually defining and clarifying these aspects of Divine Revelation.

But it is also true that even further down the historical timeline (even up to the present) “good men” might teach falsely, and yet not be considered to be persons who have lost the faith – either because of the limitations of their intellect, or because of inculpable ignorance. As scripture says, “For Thou [God] only knowest the heart of all the children of men.” (3 Kings 8: 39 – Douay-Rheims Bible). It is, in other words, God’s business to search out the depths of the human heart and ultimately determine whether or not a person possesses the good will towards His Truth which is necessary for salvation.

It simply will not do, therefore, for any individual Catholic to compile all the writings or statements of a particular person that contradict Catholic doctrine, and then presume to make a judgment that this same person is “not in possession of the Catholic Faith” To expose the objective heresy of any person, be he the humblest lay person or Pope, is one thing; to make the claim that the person is a heretic is another. Our Lord said that “Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” It is one thing to point out to our brother that he is acting foolishly; it is an altogether different thing to judge and reduce his humanity by labeling him a Fool, or a Heretic. It is very disturbing indeed, therefore to witness, the name-calling prevalent in conservative and traditional Catholic circles in regard to Pope Francis and others of the hierarchy (not to mention the laity). St. Jude writes: “When Michael the archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses, he durst not bring against him the judgment of railing speech, but said: The Lord command thee.” If such be the case in regard to “railing” judgments against the devil who resides in Hell and is our implacable enemy, what must be our conclusion concerning those who make such railing judgments against their fellow men who are this side of Hell, and towards whom Our Lord demands charity?

It is also true, however, that in the realm of putting our faith into practice in this world, all of us tend to one degree or another to be duplicitous. It is the most constant threat to our spiritual lives, and the most omnipresent presence of the effects of original sin, for each of us to try at the same time to be friends of God while also being “friends of this world” (which, as St. James points out, is “enmity with God” (James 4:4-5). Again, only God can determine when such “double-mindedness” so changes the depths of the human heart that it no longer constitutes only venial, but rather mortal sin. But we may be assured that, to greatly varying extents, this duplicity is the inheritance of all men fallen away from the gift of complete integrity which man possessed before original sin. As scripture says, “For a just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again: but the wicked shall fall down into evil.” (Prov. 24: 16). Thus it is that good, and even holy, men may become tools of the devil for persecution of the good and the accomplishment of evil.

It is especially in this area that those who loved St. Francis betrayed him. It is here where they used their worldly wisdom to compromise and distort his ideal, simply because they did not see and believe the extraordinary thing that God intended to do through this man whom Pope Pius XI called “the second Christ.”

All of this, as we have said, offers no excuse for “railing judgments” against any of the persons discussed in the following analysis. At the same time, however, the work of charity and the pursuit of that Truth which is the Life of Christ and the light for all men, demands that we not be silent about that extraordinary grace of Christ which was given to the world in the 13th century. And this, in turn, requires understanding the depths and sinews of Satan’s work by which this light has been falsified. For it is in this darkness that we are now immersed, and which threatens to drown out even the memory of what constituted Christian civilization.

 

Francis and the Papacy

Any attempt to portray St. Francis as possessing a spirit of independence from, or disobedience to the Papacy amounts to a total falsification. From the very inception of his work he sought to receive complete Papal approval and recognition.

In the year 1209, three years after his own radical conversion, Francis wrote his short First Rule (now lost), and journeyed to Rome with his first 11 companions in order to seek approval for his new way of life from Pope Innocent III. The following account is taken from St. Bonaventure’s Major Life of St. Francis:

“The Pope, Innocent III, was famous for his learning; and when he saw Francis’ wonderful purity of heart, together with his determination, and the fiery eagerness of his will, he felt inclined to give his approval. However, the whole idea seemed so new to some of the cardinals, who thought that the rule was too difficult for any human being, that he hesitated to do what Francis asked. One of the cardinals was His Eminence John of St. Paul, Bishop of Santa Sabina, a man who loved holiness and was dedicated to Christ’s poor. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he addressed the pope and his confreres saying, ‘We must be careful. If we refuse this beggarman’s request because it is new or too difficult, we may be sinning against Christ’s Gospel, because he is only asking us to approve a form of Gospel life. Anyone who says that a vow to live according to the perfection of the Gospel contains something new or unreasonable or too difficult to be observed, is guilty of blasphemy against Christ, the Author of the Gospel.’ At that, the successor of St. Peter turned to St. Francis and told him, ‘My son, pray to Christ that he may show us his will through you. When we are sure of that, we can grant your request without fear.’”

After praying fervently, St. Francis and the Pope received revelations from God, separately, but at the same time. St. Bonaventure relates the following about Francis:

Francis told the pope a story which he had learned from God about a wealthy monarch who voluntarily married a poor but very beautiful woman and had a number of children by her. These resembled him closely, so that they had the right to eat at his table. Then Francis added, by way of explanation, ‘There is no danger that the sons and heirs of the immortal King will die of hunger. They have been born of a poor mother by the power of the Holy Spirit in the image of Christ the King and they will be followed by others who will be brought to birth in our Order by the spirit of poverty. If the King of Heaven promises his followers an eternal kingdom, he certainly will not let them go short of the material goods he bestows on good and bad without distinction.’

And, on the part of Innocent III:

“When the pope heard this story and its explanation, he was amazed and he realized without the slightest doubt that Christ had spoken through Francis. Only a short time before, he had seen a vision from heaven and by divine inspiration he now testified that it would be fulfilled in Francis. As he himself described it, he had a dream in which he saw the Lateran Basilica [the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope, ranking first among all the Church’s of Christendom, even above St. Peter’s] which was threatening to fall being held up by a poor beggarman who put his back to it. ‘This is certainly the man,’ he added. ‘By his work and teaching, he will uphold Christ’s Church.’”

We do well to keep in mind the words of Cardinal John of St. Paul – “Anyone who says that a vow to live according to the perfection of the Gospel contains something new or unreasonable or too difficult to be observed, is guilty of blasphemy against Christ, the Author of the Gospel.” When we now come to consider what happened during the last 6-10 years of St. Francis’ life, and subsequent to his death, we will see that such “blasphemy” became the norm.

 

Betrayal With a Kiss

Pope Innocent III died on July 16, 1216, to be succeeded by Pope Honorius III. Bishop Giovanni di San Paolo, who had been the liaison between the Pope and the Franciscan Order, died the same year, and was succeeded in this office (as Cardinal Protector of the Franciscan Order) by Cardinal Ugolino, Bishop of Ostia, and the future Pope Gregory IX. There is no question, from the various appearances of Cardinal Ugolino throughout the early lives of Francis, that he deeply loved the Saint. There is also no question that he was the central force and authority behind the compromise and eventual destruction of the ideal of Francis.

In May of 1217, the famous Pentecost “Chapter of the Mats” was held at the Portiuncula. The Speculum Perfectionis, #68 relates what occurred. Nothing in all of the early sources more clearly reveals the web of destructive and falsifying love that was, at this period, being spun around Francis and his ideal:

When blessed Francis was at the Chapter General held at St. Mary of the Portiuncula – known as the Chapter of the Mats, because the only shelters there consisted of rush-mats, which were used by five thousand friars – a number of prudent and learned friars went to the Lord Cardinal of Ostia [Ugolino] who was present, and said to him, ‘My Lord, we wish that you would persuade Brother Francis to follow the advice of the wiser brethren, and allow himself to be guided by them.’ And they quoted the Rules of Saint Benedict, Saint Augustine, and Saint Bernard, which lay down the principles of the regular life.

“The Cardinal repeated all that they had said to blessed Francis in the form of advice; but without making any answer he took the Cardinal by the hand, and led him before the friars assembled in Chapter. And he spoke to the friars in the fervor and power of the Holy Spirit, saying, ‘My brothers! My brothers! God has called me by the way of simplicity and humility, and has in truth revealed this way for me and for all who are willing to trust and follow me. So I do not want you to quote any other Rule to me, whether that of Saint Benedict, Saint Augustine, or Saint Bernard, or to recommend any other way or form of life except this way which God in His mercy has revealed and given to me. The Lord told me that He wished me to be a new kind of simpleton in this world, and he does not wish us to live by any other wisdom but this. God will confound you through your own prudence and learning. And I trust in the constables [the devils, whom Francis called “God’s policemen”] of God, that He will punish you through them. Eventually, whether you wish it or not, you will return with great remorse to your first state.’

“The Cardinal was utterly dumbfounded and said nothing; and all the friars were filled with great fear.”

The pattern here becomes clear. A good number of ministers and friars were working with Cardinal Ugolino to compromise Francis’ ideal. Francis’   final response, after returning from the Holy Land in 1220, was to resign. He was succeeded by Peter Catani, and then by Brother Elias in 1223.

Francis wrote three Rules – the original Rule, which was approved by Innocent III, and has been lost; the Rule of 1221, which is known as the First Rule; and the Rule of 1223, which is called the Regula Bullata, because it was approved by the Pope (Honorius III). There has been much discussion about these Rules – whether, for instance, the Final Rule (Regula Bullata) is really fully in accord with Francis’ thinking and with his original Rule – but it is not necessary to discuss this subject here. The historical fact is that after his death Francis’ ideal was destroyed through Papal legislation, and through the acts, writings, etc. of those like Brother Elias and St. Bonaventure who loved St. Francis and claimed to be his friends. It is this history which we shall here attempt to summarize.

 

A Basic Outline of the Conflict

Even prior to Francis’ death, the Franciscan Order was deeply divided between those who were committed to following the strict observance of poverty laid down by St. Francis, and those who wished to see mitigations in his Rule. The former have come to be called “Spirituals” (or Zelanti –from the Italian word for “zealous”). The latter are known as the “Relaxati”. While Francis was still alive, the Relaxati were to be identified with Elias and those ministers and friars whose actions and words we have already detailed. The term is now most closely identified with that branch of the Order known as the Conventual Franciscans.

The term “Spirituals” identifies many of Francis’ early companions (and those who later followed in their footsteps) such as Brothers Leo, Bernard of Quintavalle, Rufino, Giles, Angelo Tancredi, Masseo da Marignano, Ugolino di Monte Santa Maria (author of the “Little Flowers,” not to be confused with Cardinal Ugolino), and many others. The term is also associated with the names and movements which constitute various efforts down through the centuries aimed at bringing the Order back to a stricter observance of Francis’ ideal (the Capuchins also represent an attempt at this type of reform). All of this involves a very complicated and contentious history, which cannot be detailed here.

To complicate the matter further, there has always existed a tendency, especially among those who cling to a “relaxed” Franciscanism, to identify all “Spirituals” with the “Fraticelli” – those later brothers who in their zeal for the perfection of Francis’ ideal, ended up by embracing (to one extent or another) the heretical ideas of Joachimism (some of these ideas not being attributable to Joachim himself), and established themselves in revolt against the Papacy. On the contrary, there were, in fact, innumerable Spirituals (including early companions of Francis such as Bernard and Leo) who never rebelled in any way against the Papacy, who were persecuted for their fidelity to the ideals of Francis, and died under this persecution.

It also needs mentioning that the early biographies of St. Francis reflect this basic twofold division within the Order. On the one hand, we have “Lives” like those of St. Bonaventure and Thomas of Celano which embody a non-controversial hagiography that ignores these basic divisions and conflicts. On the other side, we have works which profoundly reveal and detail this division: the Speculum Perfectionis, the Legend of Perugia, The Little Flowers of St. Francis (the Fioretti), and the Sacrum Commercium. The works in this second category are sometimes called the “Leo Sources,” from the fact that their actual authorship or inspiration can be traced back to Brother Leo and other early companions of Francis, or their spiritual descendents, who were absolutely committed to living his ideal. As we shall see, it was St. Bonaventure who, as Minister General, ordered all these “divisive” works destroyed, and then enthroned his own “Legend of St. Francis” as the only acceptable biography of Francis.

 

Brother Elias

Many parallels have been rightly observed between the life of St. Francis and the life of Christ. Often this extends to viewing Brother Elias in the role of Judas.

Unquestionably, Brother Elias was a primary agent in the betrayal of the Franciscan ideal. We have already seen him as the spokesman for those ministers who refused to be bound by the Rule that Francis was in the process of writing in 1223, because it was “too hard.” There can be little doubt that Elias was working closely with these ministers, and with Cardinal Ugolino, in order to mitigate the Rule of Francis, and to make those compromises with the world which they saw as necessary in order to turn the Franciscan Order into an effective apostolate for the Church. As Lady Poverty explains in the Sacrum Commercium, this betrayal was all being accomplished under the guise of prudence and discretion.

Francis resigned as head of the Order in 1220, and Peter Catani was elected Vicar. In 1223, almost certainly with the strong support of Cardinal Ugolino, Elias was elected Vicar. Francis died on October 4, 1226. Elias immediately took control, acting as the head of the Order. Pope Honorius III (Innocent III’s successor) died on Mar 18, 1227, and Cardinal Ugolino was elected Pope and chose the name Gregory IX. The Pope gave his blessing to Elias’ great project of building a “monument” to Francis in the form of a great convent and the Basilica of Saint Francis. Pope Gregory gave him authority to receive money, and he began to collect money throughout Christendom for this project (remember that Francis called money “flies,” and absolutely forbade his friars to even touch it).

It was when his intention to build this Basilica (which would house the remains of St. Francis) was published that the Spirituals rose against him. Elias even placed a marble pot for the collection of money conspicuously on the hill of the proposed site of the Basilica. Brother Leo, in protest against this profound violation of the spirit and ideal of Francis, smashed the pot. Upon Elias’ order, Leo was scourged and expelled from Assisi. It was in fact the vehement opposition of Leo and other Spirituals which foiled Elias’ efforts to be elected Minister General at the Chapter in May of 1227. Instead, the friars elected John Parenti, a man incapable or unwilling to present a barrier to Elias’ schemes. Gregory IX, in support of Elias’ designs for the Basilica, in fact accomplished an end-run around Parenti by making Elias “Master of the Works”, with full authority to collect the funds and undertake all that was necessary for the completion of the project.

It all moved incredibly fast. On July 16, 1228, Pope Gregory canonized St. Francis. On May 25, 1230 the remains of St. Francis were secretly (at night) translated to the new Basilica of Saint Francis. Francis now lay entombed beneath a “monument” which rivaled the Portiuncula as the ultimate Icon of the betrayal of his Lady Poverty.

In 1232, Elias was elected Minister General. He obtained permission from Pope Gregory IX to discipline the Spirituals, and he moved with great efficiency and severity. Everywhere the original companions and faithful followers of Francis’ ideal concerning Poverty were persecuted. Elias’ greatest convert had been Caesar of Spires, who was considered by many to be the holiest friar since Francis (he collaborated with Francis in the writing of the Rule of 1223). He was now one of Elias’ strongest opponents. Elias ordered him imprisoned, and he met a violent death at the hands of the lay brother who was appointed to guard him.

Finally, the protests against Elias’ despotism and his violations of the Franciscan ideal became such a storm as to make it impossible for the Pope not to take action. Pope Gregory IX declared the position of Minister General vacant and, in the face of direct defiance on the part of Elias, also excommunicated him (as did Gregory’s successor Innocent IV). Elias eventually aligned himself in friendship and employment with the excommunicated Emperor Frederick II (enemy of Popes, agnostic, known in his own time as “the wonder of the “world,” and called by Nietzsche “the first European”). Upon the death of Frederick in 1250, Elias went into seclusion in Cortona, ever fearful of imprisonment by the Pope. Fearful of the ultimate consequences of being excommunicated, he sought absolution from the local clergy, and received it. Pope Innocent IV sent representatives to minutely examine the sincerity of his repentance and, being satisfied, allowed his burial in Franciscan habit.

Possibly nothing reveals the niggardliness and pathos of Brother Elias’ life as his words while Francis lay dying. The following incident is related in Speculum Perfectionis, #121:

Seeing that blessed Francis was comforted and rejoicing in the Lord in this way [his companions, at his request, were singing the Praises of the Lord night and day] despite his great pain, Brother Elias said to him, ‘Dearest Brother, the great joy shown by you and your companions gives me great comfort and edification. But the people of this city venerate you as a saint, and are well aware that you will soon die of your incurable disease; so when they hear the Praises sung day and night they are likely to say to themselves, ‘How can this man show so much joy when he is about to die? He ought to be preparing himself for death.’”

And Saint Francis answered him (in part):

Brother, allow me in my infirmities to rejoice in the Lord and in His praises, for by the grace and assistance of the Holy Spirit I am so united and conjoined to my Lord that by His mercy I may rightly rejoice in Him, the Most High.”

Elias was not present at Francis’ death.

 

Pope Gregory IX

When we consider the actual life and spirituality of the Franciscan Order, Elias may rightly be seen as the primary Judas-figure. However, the person most responsible for institutionalizing this betrayal on the ecclesiastical and juridical level is Pope Gregory IX (Cardinal Ugolino).

In 1230, four years after Francis’ death, Pope Gregory IX published the Bull Quo elongati. It declared the Testament of St. Francis to be devoid of legal force. In his scholarly work Franciscan Poverty, Malcolm D. Lambert writes the following:

What was the effect of the invalidating of the Testament? Looking back, we can see that, in a sense, 1230 represented the last chance for the order to return as a body to the way of living of Francis and the companions; then, Quo elongati blocked the way, and ever afterwards the weight of precedent and legislation was too great for it to be possible.”

Professor Lambert is in full agreement with the erroneous notion that “to a developing order with its problems of dwelling places, learning, sick friars, and the like….The ideal [of St. Francis] was impossible.” (p. 73). This opinion, as I have clearly shown, was in direct contradiction to the statements of St. Francis and the revelations he received from Christ.

It needs to be emphatically stated that the so-called Spirituals alone held fast to Francis’ ideal. Sometimes, as we shall see, some passed over to the point of embracing heresy (Joachimism – or a bastardized form of it), defying the Papacy, and embracing schism. Such are the Fraticelli. But we must reject the facile identification, popular among the Relaxati or Conventuals, of identifying the Spirituals with the Fraticelli. Friars such as Leo, Giles, Bernard of Quintavalle, Angelus, Rufino, Masseo, John of Parma, Brother Ugolino di Monte, and many others were certainly Spirituals, but are in no way to be considered Fraticelli.

Having made these clarifications, it remains to examine the fundamental betrayal of Francis’ ideal of poverty to be found in Quo elongati.

It is of the very nature of Francis’ ideal of Poverty that it is not subject to strict legislation. Francis’ great love was Lady Poverty, but it is obviously true that “absolute poverty” would simply kill a person. As human beings, we need food, clothes and, quite often, (especially here in Minnesota) shelter from the cold.

It is also true that sometimes the requirement of God’s mercy over-rides strict rules in regard to poverty, fasting, dress, etc. St. Francis fully understood this. Despite his vehement commands against touching or having anything to do with money, he made an exception in the case of severe sickness of a friar. He allowed shoes and riding of a horse or ass where necessity or illness made these things necessary. Following is one of the most enchanting stories, taken from the Legend of Perugia, #1, revealing this “heart of mercy” which is so intimately a part of the Franciscan ideal:

In the early days of the Order, that is to say, at the time when Francis began to group a few brothers around him, he lived with them at Rivo Torto. One night around midnight, when all were sleeping on their poor straw mattresses, one of the brothers began to cry out: ‘I am dying! I am dying!’ Blessed Francis got up and said: ‘Get up, Brothers, bring a light.’ A torch was lit and blessed Francis asked: ‘Who cried out, I am dying?’ One brother said, ‘I did.’ And blessed Francis said to him: ‘What ails you, Brother? What are you dying from?’ ‘I am dying of hunger,’ he answered.

Blessed Francis, a man full of charity and discretion, did not want the brother to blush from eating alone. He had a meal prepared then and there and everyone partook of it. It must be said that this brother and the others were recently converted and inflicted excessive penances on their bodies.

After the meal, blessed Francis said to the other brothers: ‘My brothers, I say to you, let everyone of you take his constitution into consideration. If one of you can do with less food than another, it is not my wish that he who needs to eat more should try to imitate the first. Let each one take his own constitution into account and give his body what it needs. If, in the matter of eating and drinking we are obliged to deny ourselves those superfluous thing which are harmful to the body and the soul, we must forego even more excessive mortification, for God desires loving kindness and mercy not sacrifice.” (this story is also found in Bonaventure’s Major Life, II Celano, and Speculum Perfectionis).

Similarly, if this particular brother had been freezing to death, Francis would have been the first to clothe him in fur; or if he were severely ill, he would have accepted the possible use of money to pay for a doctor. But the same “Rule” of Poverty still remained. Anyone who was to be a    Franciscan friar, as Francis says in his Testament, “gave everything to the poor. They were satisfied with one habit which was patched inside and outside, and a cord, and trousers. We refused to have anything more….The friars must be very careful not to accept churches or poor dwelling for themselves, or anything else built for them unless they are in harmony with the poverty which we have promised in the Rule [any “huts” were to be built of mud and sticks], and they should occupy these places as strangers and pilgrims.” Add to this his absolute proscription against petitioning the Roman Curia for any privileges, and the very important prohibition against pursuing learning or possessing books, we have basically the entire “heart” of Francis’ Rule as it concerns the ideal of Poverty. Francis’ devotion to Poverty was “absolute”, but this absoluteness was not capable of legalistic delineation – any more than specific acts of charity are subject to such legislation. It is this “heart” of Franciscan Poverty which Gregory IX failed to see, and which he essentially destroyed with his legislation.

The destruction came through the employment of a theoretical, legal distinction which Quo elongati enunciates in the following passage:

We say therefore that {the friars} ought not to have proprietas [dominion], either individual or common, but may have the usus alone of the utensils and books and movable goods which they are permitted to have, and the friars, as the minister-general and provincial [ministers] direct, may use them, leaving dominion of their settlements and houses to those to whom it is known to pertain….”

There was a certain amount of truth in the above passage, which could indeed be viewed as applying to St. Francis’ ideal. The brothers did indeed “use” things while not owning them – food, humble dwellings, habit, cord, trousers, breviary, psalter, etc. What is wrong about this passage only comes to light when seen in the light of its further context within the Pope’s Bull.

Quo elongati established a sophistry at the very heart of Franciscan self-understanding in regard to Poverty by introducing a new “office” for the reception of money and other ”necessities” into the Order. This official, called the nuntius, ostensibly acting on the part of the almsgiver (which can certainly be looked on as a “Jesuitical” distinction), insured that the Franciscan Order could be the recipient of virtually anything, while nominally still being able to claim adherence to the principle of “Absolute Poverty” because they did not possess proprietas, dominion, or actual ownership.

The effect of this sophistry was devastating to Franciscan spirituality. The primary spiritual effect of Francis’ own ideal of Poverty was, on the one hand, to deprive the mind and heart of each Friar of any security in the things of this world, and, on the other hand, to throw this same mind and heart into a fundamental posture of total trust in God and dependence on that “sacrum commercium” of charity with other human beings which we have already delineated. All of this is profoundly vitiated by the security which comes to the Franciscan life with the nuntius. The nuntius, and the resources for whom he was the agent, could always be drawn upon to alleviate any want or insecurity. In other words, the entire charism of the Franciscan Order became vitiated.

According to Lambert, “The greatest single cause of pressure on poverty was building.” (p. 94). In turn, the primary justification for such building was the perceived necessity to pursue learning. Again, from Lambert:

The standard of poverty intended by St. Francis, if appallingly severe, was coherent and, just, observable….But, as I see it, it is incompatible with the regular pursuit of learning. The new entrants to the order were bound to desire the practice of preaching, in the full, learned sense. If learning be adopted then the full poverty must be mitigated.”

This pressure for learning was largely the fruit of the increased clericalization of the Order. Francis, of course, refused the priesthood, and remained a deacon until he died. Although he certainly accepted priests into his Order (such as his early companion Brother Sylvester), he certainly did not envision a clericalized Brotherhood. The Franciscan Order was pre-eminently the Friars Minor – the “little brothers.” Clericalization, learning, building and economic security all go hand-in-hand, and demand mitigation of Francis’ ideal.

As with so many things, Francis was able to peer into the heart of this matter, and see the threat. The following is from the Legend of Perugia, #70:

Not that Francis ever despised or regarded sacred learning with disfavor: on the contrary, he showed a fond respect for the scholars of the Order, and for all scholars, as he himself says in his Testament: ‘We should honor and venerate theologians, too, and the ministers of God’s word, because it is they who give us spirit and life.’

“But, foreseeing the future, he knew through the Holy Spirit and often repeated that many of the brothers, under pretext of edifying others, would abandon their vocation, that is to say, pure and holy simplicity, prayer and Lady Poverty; they would consider themselves more fervent and more on fire with the love of God because of their knowledge of the Scriptures, whereas precisely because of it they would not be able to return to their former vocation since they had let the time given them to live in the holy vocation slip by.” (see also SP, #72).

In other words, the primary fruit of such pursuit of learning – necessarily entailing the violation of the Franciscan charism of holy simplicity and poverty – would be an enormous self-deception. Possibly the singularly most often used argument by Elias and the ministers in their attempt to mitigate the Rule was the necessity of making adjustments, so that the Order could become an effective means of Apostolate and preaching for the Church. This, in their minds required learning, books, buildings, and all the rest. Francis’ reply is devastating:

There are many brethren who devote all their energy and zeal to the acquisition of learning, neglecting their holy vocation, and straying from the way of humility and holy prayer both in mind and body. When they have preached to the people, and learn that some have been helped or moved to penitence, they grow conceited and congratulate themselves as though the others’ gain were their own. But they will have preached rather to their own condemnation and hurt, and have really achieved nothing except as the instruments of those through whom God has obtained this result. For those whom they imagined they were edifying and converting through their own learning and preaching have been edified and converted by God Himself through the prayers and tears of holy, poor, humble, and simple brethren….But those who have cared for nothing except to know and point out the way of salvation to others, and have made no effort to follow it themselves, will stand naked and empty-handed before the judgment-seat of Christ, bearing only the sheaves of confusion, shame, and grief. Then shall the truth of holy humility and simplicity, of holy prayer and poverty, which is our vocation, be exalted, glorified, and proclaimed….” (Ibid).

The pursuit of learning, while it certainly is valid for others, was not the Franciscan way. For Francis, it was in fact destructive to the vocation of a Friars Minor:

Many are they who desire to exalt themselves to the heights of knowledge, but blessed is he who prefers to renounce knowledge for love of the Lord God!” (#72).

The campaign for “learning” among the Friars was always accompanied by the “prudence” which claimed it was necessary for preaching and the “apostolate.” It was Francis’ grace to perceive that effective preaching was a matter of grace, that God would provide this “sustenance” to the Friars just as he provided for their physical necessities, and that the virtue of love of God is the true teacher: “Knowledge produces self-importance; love makes the building grow.” (Ibid).The validity of this teaching is to be found in the “proof “of the extraordinary transformations of peoples which occurred in the early days of the Order.

As is so often the case, St. Francis teaching on this particular subject is accompanied by delightful stories of actual incidents which penetrate to the heart of the matter. The Speculum Perfectionis relates several stories concerning a particular friar who was persistent in trying to obtain Francis’ permission to have a psalter:

<And blessed Francis said to him, “Once you have a psalter, you will want a breviary. And when you have a breviary, you will sit in a high chair like a great prelate, and say to your brother, ‘Bring me my breviary!’” As he spoke, blessed Francis in great fervor of spirit took up a handful of ashes and placed them on his head, and rubbing his hand around his head as though he was washing it, he exclaimed, “I a breviary!, I a breviary!” …Many months later, when blessed Francis was at S. Mary of the Porziuncula, this friar spoke to him yet again about the psalter as he stood on the road near his cell beyond the house. And blessed Francis [almost certainly quite weary of this pestering) told him, “Go and do as your Minister says on this matter.” When he heard this, the friar turned back along the road, while blessed Francis stood thinking over what he had said to the friar. Suddenly he called after him, saying, “Wait for me, brother, wait for me!” Overtaking him, he said, “Come back and show me the place where I told you to do so as your Minister directs about the Psalter.” So when they had arrived at the place, blessed Francis knelt down before the friar and said, “Mea culpa, brother, mea culpa; for whoever wishes to be a Friar Minor should possess nothing but a habit with a cord and undergarment, as the Rule allows him. And those whom need obliges to do so may have sandals.”>

Two other points need mentioning if we are to understand this incident. First, at certain times a psalter did indeed circulate among the Friars, and Francis would not have had objection to this particular Friar using it. Secondly, if some very poor lady came along begging, and Francis had nothing else to offer her, he would have gladly given her the psalter to sell in order to provide some sustenance for herself and her family.

What all this demonstrates is that Francis’ devotion to poverty was total, but that this “absoluteness” could not be regulated by legal formulas (involving distinctions, for instance, between dominion and use) or encapsulated in some sort of formulated theology (as we shall see St. Bonaventure attempting in his theology of “Absolute Poverty”). It could only be found in a heart devoted to total simplicity and renunciation of all the things of this world, while at the same time always leaving room for the exercise of God’s mercy. The attempt to legislate such a dynamic was bound to kill it, as was any attempt to formulate it theologically.

 

Pope Innocent IV

In 1245, with Crescenzio da Jesi (a Relaxati) functioning as Minister General, Pope Gregory’s successor Innocent IV issued a new Bull, titled Ordinem vestrum, which constituted a significant “relaxation” of Pope Gregory’s Quo elongati. The legal sophistry was in need of further sophistries. In the words of Lambert,

Where Gregory had permitted recourse to intermediaries (the nuntius) for the sake of buying necessities alone, Innocent allowed such recourse for ‘commodities’ as well, thus giving carte blanche to superiors to use agents to take money alms whenever they wished.” (p. 101).

The ultimate effect of all this was to place all ownership of Franciscan property into the hands of the Pope, who could give the Order anything they wanted, and still maintain the fiction of “Absolute Poverty” of dominion on the part of the Franciscan Order. Francis’ fear of, and proscription against, petitioning the Papacy or Curia for any prerogatives had thus blossomed into nightmarish fulfillment.

 

St. Bonaventure’s Doctrine of Absolute Poverty

That which the Papal Bulls Quo elongati and Ordinem vestrum accomplished in the ecclesial and legal realms as to the destruction of Franciscan Poverty, St. Bonaventure blessed in the theological domain. While Minister General, he wrote his work Apologia pauperum, which offers the following definition of Absolute Poverty:

Since there are two things to be considered with regard to the possession of temporal goods, dominion and usus, and usus is necessarily annexed to the present life; it is the nature of evangelical poverty to renounce earthly possession in respect of dominion and proprietas, and, not to reject usus utterly, but to restrain it….”

Any Catholic who possesses some depth of familiarity with St. Francis’ life and teaching should sense the total failure of the above definition to capture St. Francis’ ideal of Poverty. Francis’ ideal of Lady Poverty was entirely established in an imitation of Christ Who, though being God, became nothing. Christ did something much more than merely “restrain himself “when He took human form and sacrificed Himself on the Cross. Therefore, when transposed to human life, and the sincere attempt to follow this Way, the reality of Christ’s Poverty cannot be delineated or bifurcated into legal distinctions between dominion and use, or subjected to doctrinal formulation. St. Francis never formulated it as a doctrine, but only as a way of imitation, to which he appended some rules protecting that way from self-deceit and falsification. The attempt to formulate this Way with a doctrine of “Absolute Poverty” is therefore bound to involve an incompleteness, duplicity, self-deceit, and betrayal which is subject to eventual exposition and ridicule. As we shall see, this is precisely what will occur during the Papacy of John XXII.

St. Bonaventure’s doctrine of Absolute Poverty amounted to a virtual mirror reflection of the definition of Franciscan Poverty which was formulated in Gregory IX’s Bull Quo elongati in 1234. But Bonaventure’s exposition of Absolute Poverty had gone much further. It had applied this same doctrine, and these same legal distinctions, to Christ. In other words, Christ also practiced “Absolute Poverty” – this entailing the renunciation of all dominion (proprietas) over any possessions whatsoever, and also therefore absolutely possessing no right to sell or give away anything which might be in their use.

In the year 1276, Pope Nicholas III issued the Bull Exiit qui seminat which gave official sanction to this “Absolute Poverty of Christ” doctrine. In part it read:

“…we say that such renunciation of proprietas [dominion] of all things, both individually and in common, for God, is meritorious and holy, and taught in word and confirmed in example by Christ showing the way of perfection, and channeled on by the first founders of the church militant, as they had drawn it from that fount, through the streams of their doctrine and life.” (Lambert, p. 151).

I have stated that this entire effort to legally formulate a doctrine of “Absolute Poverty” involved duplicity. It was necessitated by the posture of the Franciscan “Community,” which claimed to follow Francis in his love of Lady Poverty, while at the same time working to mitigate Francis’ strict rules in regard to the use of the things of this world. It in fact allowed them to pose before the world under the guise of “Absolute Poverty” (of dominion) while in fact being neither poor in use or in spirit (in accord with the ideal of Francis). Once again, from Sacrum Commercium, “They pretended to love you so that they might leave you.”

Duplicity, by its very nature, requires obscurity. The Spirituals, despite whatever excesses they may have succumbed to, were always in the position of exposing the lie and they themselves appeared to be living lives much more in accord with Francis’ ideal. All through the period since Francis’ resignation, this witness invited persecution. The reign of St. Bonaventure as Minister General offers a unique example of such persecution. In the Fioretti (Little Flowers of St. Francis), we read the following:

Now this is what Brother Matthew told me: “I know a brother to whom the Lord has made known that which will take place in our Order; for Brother James della Massa had told me that, after the Lord had revealed to him many things concerning the Church militant, he saw in a vision a large and beautiful tree, the root of which was of gold, and all the branches were men, and these men were all Friars Minor; and there were as many large branches as there were provinces in the Order, and each branch was composed of as many brethren as there were friars in each province; and he was informed of the number of friars in the Order, and in each province – with their names, their ages, their rank, and the different offices they filled – also their various merits and defects. And he saw Brother John of Parma at the summit of the highest branch of the tree, and round him were the ministers of each province; and he saw Christ, the blessed one, sitting on a throne, who, calling St Francis to him, gave him a chalice full of the spirit of life, saying, `Go to thy brothers, and give them to drink of this spirit of life, as Satan will rise up against them, and many will fall and not rise again.’ And Christ, the blessed one, gave to St Francis two angels to accompany him; and St Francis took the chalice to his brothers, and offered it first to Brother John of Parma, who taking it drank all its contents in haste, but with great reverence, and having done so he became luminous, like the sun. After him St Francis offered it to all the others; and very few there were who took it, and drank with devotion: those who did so, were filled with light, like the sun; but those who took the chalice, and threw away its contents most irreverently, became black and deformed, and horrible to look at; those who drank a part of the contents and threw away the rest, were partly bright and partly dark, in proportion to the quantity they drank or threw away. The brightest of all was the said Brother John, who, having drained to the dregs the cup of life, had seen by the aid of a celestial light the tempests and troubles which were about to rise against the tree, shaking and tearing its branches; for which reason the said Brother John left the top of the tree where he was, and placing himself under its branches hid himself close to the roots. And while giving himself to contemplation there, Brother Bonaventure, who had drunk part of the chalice and had spilled part, went up to the branch and place which Brother John had left. And no sooner was he there, than the nails of his fingers became like points of iron; on seeing this, he hastened to leave the place he had taken, and in his fury he sought to vent his rage on Brother John; and Brother John perceiving his intention, cried out to Christ, the blessed one, who was seated on his throne, to help him; and Christ, hearing his cry, called St Francis, and giving him a sharp stone, said: `Take this stone, and going cut the nails of the brother who seeks to tear Brother John, so that he may not be able to do him any harm.’ And St Francis did as he was ordered. In the meantime a great tempest arose and the wind shook the tree in such a way that all the brethren fell to the ground. First fell those who had thrown away the contents of the chalice of the spirit of life: these were carried by devils to dark regions, full of pain and anguish; but Brother John, and others who had drunk of the chalice, were carried by angels to the regions of life eternal, full of light and splendour. And Brother James, who witnessed the vision, saw clearly the names, the condition and the fate of each brother. And the tempest did not cease till the tree was blown down, and carried away by the wind; and immediately another tree arose out of the golden roots of the old one, and it was entirely composed of gold, with its leaves and fruits; but for the present we will not describe the beauty, the virtues, and the delicious fragrance of this wonderful tree.”

Blessed John of Parma was St. Bonaventure’s predecessor as Minister General of the Franciscan Order. He is certainly to be considered the Minister General most devoted to the original idea of Poverty of Francis, and therefore the enemy of the Relaxati. His election was a source of joy to Francis’ early companions such as Leo, Ruffino, Masseo, and Giles. Upon his election, Giles said to him, “Welcome, father. But, oh, you come late!” John was the sixth Minister General, and the first one who strongly sought a return to Francis’ ideal. It is no wonder that Francis’ original companions and their spiritual successors rejoiced at his coming.

John reigned for 10 years (1247-1257). During that time he did much to bring back the Order to its original observance. His reputation for sanctity and learning was immense, as was his humility and personal observance of poverty. No other Minister General has ever been as zealous in visiting all the Franciscan monasteries, hermitages, etc. He heard every concern and complaint. It is even recorded that he once presided over a dispute as to whether a particular brother should be dismissed because his snoring was so profoundly disruptive of the sleep of others.

He had many friends, and also many enemies. Greatest among his enemies were those many ministers and friars within the Order who resented and feared the actions which he took to remedy relaxations of the Rule. After 10 years of rule, this conflict finally came to a head at the Chapter held at the Ara Coeli Convent in Rome in 1257. The Pope, Alexander IV, had also declared himself the Cardinal Protector of the Order. Constantly embroiled in this conflict, and always subject to the complaints and accusations of the Relaxati, he sent word secretly to John that if he were re-elected that he should not accept.

John promptly obeyed. Beseeched by many friars to recommend his successor, he named Bonaventura da Bagnorea, whom the world now knows as St. Bonaventure. There is every indication that John of Parma desired only to continue to serve the Order and the new Minister General in some humbler capacity. It was not to be allowed. Instead, under the authority and direction of Bonaventure, he was soon sent to a convent in Tuscany to be placed on trial and judged.

There were a number of accusations, including that of being a heretic (Joachimite). John had certainly shown some sympathy for some of the ideas of Joachim of Flora (as did St. Bonaventure), but certainly not for the bastardization of Joachim’s ideas which became known as the heresy of Joachimism, and which prophesied a coming Age of the Holy Spirit which would transcend the law of Christ and supersede the organized Church. John’s obedience and submission to the hierarchy was profound until the day of his death   Unquestionably, the primary motivation for his prosecution lay in the constant campaign to rid the Order of the Spirituals. The condemnation and imprisonment of the former Minister General represented the keystone for their success.

The following is an account taken from Anne Macdonell’s Sons of Francis (p. 241-242):

The scandalous sentence was, indeed, being pronounced, when a letter reached the judges from one too influential to be snubbed. The letter of the Cardinal Ottoboni, afterwards Pope Adrian V, was emphatic. It was almost threatening. He spoke of his sorrow at hearing of the accusation. “A holier and a more loyal man,” he said, “I have never known. I do not hesitate to say that his faith is my faith. Whatever heresy you discover in him abounds in me. His person is my person. In such things as you condemn him, I also am guilty. And with him I would be counted.”

In the face of this “threat” from Cardinal Ottoboni, the decision of the judges altered. Instead of being formally condemned and imprisoned, John was allowed to choose his place of perpetual retreat. He chose Greccio, where Francis had re-enacted the First Christmas. He would spend thirty-two years there. Subsequent examination of his life and teachings resulted in his beatification in 1777, and his Feast is celebrated on March 20.

St. Bonaventure’s efforts to bring unity to the Franciscan Order – which, as we have seen, demanded the suppression of the Spirituals – also required the suppression of any effective memory of the conflict between Francis and the “moderation” which had now become the “Conventual” norm of the Order. Such works as The Legend of Perugia, Speculum Perfectionis, and Sacrum Commercium were indeed sources of acute embarrassment, for they did indeed reveal that such moderation was the source of Francis’ great sorrow, and the reason for his resignation. Thus it came about that in 1266, under the Minister-Generalcy of St. Bonaventure, the General Chapter ordered all other Lives of St. Francis destroyed, and canonized Bonaventure’s Legend as the only permissible and acceptable Life of St. Francis.

None of this, of course, is meant to contradict the Church’s final judgment of St. Bonaventure’s sainthood. The story is told of St. Thomas and a companion visiting the room of St. Bonaventure at the University of Paris. Upon discovering that the latter was working on his life of Francis, St. Thomas said to his companion, “Let us leave a Saint to write about a Saint.” The problem is that St. Bonaventure, like so many Popes, Minister Generals, and other good men of the time, did not understand that St. Francis could not be “moderated” without being destroyed.

The deeper one penetrates into history, and the lives of those who make it, the more one comes to realize that extraordinary sanctity and goodness is not at all to be identified with infallibility or inerrancy, and that the life of great and holy men, including Popes and Saints, yet often contain very many serious errors and mistakes.

The irony, however, is that after having suborned the Papacy to support this betrayal of Francis, and having developed the systematic doctrine of “Absolute Poverty” in order to theologically bless this betrayal, and now being largely triumphant over the Spirituals, the position of the “Community” (a euphemism for the “moderate” majority of Franciscans) was soon to be shown forth in all its self-contradictory nakedness.

The agent of this revelation was to be the Avignon Pope, John XXII.

 

Pope John XXII

The Condemnation of the Doctrine of the Absolute Poverty of Christ

The conflict between the various elements of the Franciscan Order – Relaxati, Conventuals, Spirituals, Fraticelli – is quite complex, involving many personalities, events, injustices, extremes of action and reaction, etc. It is not to our purpose to fully delineate these things here. Suffice to say, it all came to a dramatic climax with the Papacy of John XXII, who resolved to destroy the Spirituals on the one hand, but equally to condemn the doctrine of Absolute Poverty which the “Community” of the Franciscan Order claimed for their unique charism.

We recall that this doctrine of Absolute Poverty, as taught by St. Bonaventure and embraced by a series of previous Popes, applied to common dominion over all property. Its basic principle was that the Franciscan Order did not have dominion (propietas) over its property. It was now the Pope, in fact, who allegedly held all of this property, and allowed the Order the use (administration) over such. Further, in endorsement of Bonaventure’s teaching, this doctrine of Absolute Poverty had, in Exiit qui seminat, also been claimed to apply to Christ and the Apostles.

It was the position of the Franciscan Community that the previous encyclicals of the aforementioned Popes had infallibly defined this doctrine. Pope John’s first step in this contest was to declare in his Bull Qui nonnunquam (March 26, 1322) that this was not true, and that he had the right to alter the Bulls of his predecessors. He wrote:

Because sometimes, what conjecture believed would be of profit, subsequent experience has shown to be harmful, it ought not to be thought reprehensible, if the legislator takes steps to revoke canons issued by himself or his predecessors, if he sees them to be harmful rather than profitable….” (Loomis, p. 244).

This of course opened up Pope Nicholas III’s Bull Exiit qui seminat, which had taught not only the Absolute Poverty of the Franciscan Order but also the Absolute Poverty of Christ, to reconsideration and abrogation.

Approximately 9 months later, John issued a second Bull, Ad conditorem, which reiterated even more strongly his right to abrogate the Bulls of his predecessors. But it did something even more devastating to the presumptions of the Franciscan Community: it cancelled the Pope’s ownership and dominion over all Franciscan property, thereby destroying all pretentions of being able to use these things without ownership. In one stroke, the “Absolute Poverty” of the Franciscan Order had been destroyed.

The final blow came in the Pope’s Bull Cum inter nonnullos. Therein John declared that it was a heresy to teach or claim that Christ and the Apostles did not “have anything either privately or in common,” and equally heretical to assert that they did not possess the right of “selling, giving, or exchanging them [possessions]….” To sell something one must possess legal dominion or ownership. It was obvious therefore to all that John XXII had declared it heretical to deny dominion over property to Christ and the Apostles. The Franciscan “Community” had always claimed that their embrace of Absolute Poverty placed them in the unique position, which they alone occupied among all the Religious Orders, of fully imitating Christ in His Absolute Poverty. John’s condemnation of the doctrine of the Absolute Poverty of Christ amounted, therefore, to the deepest assault upon the existing Order’s dignity, and any claim to a unique charism.

All claims of the Franciscan Order to the Possession of the charism of “Absolute Poverty” had thereby been destroyed, as had any claim to the following of Christ in the imitation of such Absolute Poverty.

The betrayal of St. Francis had now reached its epiphany, and it was time for the so-called “Moderates’ to experience persecution. The current Minister General, Michael of Cesena (who had assisted Pope John XXII in the suppression of Spirituals), fled to the Court of Lewis of Bavaria, along with Bongratio of Bergamo (litigator for the Community, and prosecutor of the Spirituals) and William of Ockham. According to Lambert:

Under his protection they launched attack after attack upon the Bulls of John XXII, whom they accused of having imposed heresy on the Church in Ad Conditorem and Cum inter nonnullos. They were deposed from office, excluded from the order, and excommunicated.”

All three died in schism.

The Great Betrayal had now come full-circle. What Francis had prophesied at the Chapter of the Matts in 1223 had now come to fulfillment. It is worth quoting again.

My brothers! My brothers! God has called me by the way of simplicity and humility, and has in truth revealed this way for me and for all who are willing to trust and follow me. So I do not want you to quote any other Rule to me, whether that of Saint Benedict, Saint Augustine, or Saint Bernard, or to recommend any other way or form of life except this way which God in His mercy has revealed and given to me. The Lord told me that He wished me to be a new kind of simpleton in this world, and he does not wish us to live by any other wisdom but this. God will confound you through your own prudence and learning. And I trust in the constables [the devils, whom Francis called “God’s policemen”] of God, that He will punish you through them. Eventually, whether you wish it or not, you will return with great remorse to your first state.”

The Order has not yet returned. There have of course been movements involving both individuals (Peter of Alcantara for one) and branches (such as the Observants and Capuchins) that have succeeded to various extents. Francis saw that his Order would endure until the end of the world, and that his Friars would eventually return. Again, from the vision of Brother James of Massa:

And the tempest did not cease till the tree was blown down, and carried away by the wind; and immediately another tree arose out of the golden roots of the old one, and it was entirely composed of gold, with its leaves and fruits; but for the present we will not describe the beauty, the virtues, and the delicious fragrance of this wonderful tree.””

The fact remains, however, that the Sacrum Commercium of St. Francis had been rejected. Christian Civilization, despite the appearances of its cultural “monuments,” was in flight from the Beatitudes.

 

Part III

St. Francis of Assisi: They Pretended to Love You So That They Might Leave You

 

A Darksome Light

In His Sermon on the Mount (the whole of which can be seen as an exposition of the meaning of the Beatitudes), Our Lord offered the following:

For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also. The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome. But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome. If then the light that is in thee, be darkness: the darkness itself how great shall it be! No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mt 6:21-24).

It might first seem to be a matter of total contradiction, or at least a paradoxical riddle, to speak of a “light that is darkness” – a “Darksome Light,” as it were. All contradiction is removed, however, if we perceive this phrase as referring to the relationship between intellect and will – between Truth, and the actual way in which we live, or fail to live, this truth in the world. “Faith, without works is dead,” proclaims St. James. It is thus entirely possible to “possess” the Faith, while yet denying it in the will, and therefore in what we love and pursue in this world. The possibility of a Darksome Faith is thus the inheritance of original sin, and the unnatural duplicity which is the tendency of all men

We see this “apparent” contradiction most aptly expressed in Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees:

And the prophecy of Isaias is fulfilled in them, who saith: ‘By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand: and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive. For the heart of this people is grown gross, and with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they have shut: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I would heal them.” (Mt 13:14-15).

The Sixth Beatitude is “Blessed are the clean [pure] of heart, for they shall see God.” This Beatitude corresponds, in Thomas’ analysis, to the Gift of the Holy Spirit which is called Understanding. It was the great Gift of God to St. Francis that he was able to obtain to the vision that the key to this “understanding with the heart” lies in poverty towards all the things of this world. This, in turn, establishes the soul in that simplicity of intention which is able to see God in all things, and beyond all things. In other words, this poverty and simplicity of intention bears the grace by which all of creation becomes transparent to the presence of God. This is why the “embrace” of St. Francis and St. Thomas (the true successor of St. Dominic) is the key to all return to sanity and integrity of faith in the face of the present Darkness. What Francis was able to directly perceive through Brothers and Sisters Sun, Moon, Stars, Water, Fire, Earth, Death, Birds, Wolves, and even mice and worms, corresponds to Thomas’ metaphysical vision which “sees” that no created thing is reducible to scientific (accidental) analysis, but only to the sustaining, creative action of God from nothing. It is this intellectual understanding which absolutely strips every created substance of its self-sufficiency, and thus necessitates a profound devotion to Lady Poverty as the Sacrum Commercium necessary for the preservation of a living faith. It is the Metaphysics of St. Thomas that is therefore truly Franciscan in spirit, and not that of Bonaventure, Ockham, or duns Scotus – all of whom rejected this Metaphysics.

As I have mentioned previously, the Thirteenth Century was poised on the cusp of that tidal-wave of intellectual hubris and growth of the “mammon of iniquity” which was the Renaissance. There is no necessity here to explore all the manifold areas of commerce, banking, growth of cities, scientific exploration and invention, technological advances, philosophical and theological aberrations, heresies, schisms, political revolutions, etc. by which these betrayals of the Gifts of Francis and Thomas became incarnate in Christian society over the subsequent centuries. The primary effect was to force the Church into retreat from “understanding with the heart.” Two very brief examples of this will hopefully suffice.

Francis, of course, had contempt of money over all things, and named it “Flies.” St. Thomas taught that money was only a medium of exchange for real things, that it was absolutely morally wrong to make it “fruitful” in any way, and that it was intimately linked to the principle that “riches” provide the sustenance for all other sins, and that we are therefore to desire and possess only that which is necessary for leading a simple life. The centuries after the death of Francis and Thomas saw the multiplication of “extrinsic titles’ which made it possible to obtain “interest,” and therefore make “fruitful” in every conceivable way, money issued as a loan. The eventual outcome of this was to totally silence the Church’s teaching on usury, and to involve the Church itself in the worst scandals in regard to her own banking operations. We will soon be posting an article here, titled Usury and the Love of Money, which will deal with the history and structure of this betrayal, St. Paul of tells us that love of money is “the root of all evil,” and therefore the “sustenance” which nourishes all the activities which corrupt the heart and will. If we wish to penetrate to the depths of that almost universal corruption which has now descended upon both the Church and the world, it is absolutely essential therefore that we come to understand how “love of money” has come to dominate not only our own personal lives, but also all the institutions of society, including the Church.

Our second example deals again with the Portiuncula, and the shrine of Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in which it is now enclosed. St. Mary of the Angels was built between the years 1569 and 1579 at the express will of Pope St. Pius V. As we have discussed towards the beginning of Part I, it represents very graphically an icon in stone of the betrayal of St. Francis. Pope St. Pius V was, of course, the “Pope of Trent,” the pontiff responsible for the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and the Mass of Pius V. The content of the Faith was being dogmatized, the unity and solemnity of worship being restored, while the heart of Francis and the life of the Beatitudes was being entombed. Trent restored the faith, but did little or nothing to stem the slide of the faithful into the jaws of the mammon of iniquity. The word “usury,” for instance, never appears in any of its documents. Such is the duplicity, the bifurcation between intellect and will, by which the Faith becomes Darksome.

 

A Darksome Mirror

For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.” (James 1:23-24)

It is difficult for any of us to believe that the above scriptural passage could apply to us. St. James speaks of a “hearer of the word,” which would certainly seem to indicate any of us who have been open to receive the Truth of God, and have given to it the assent of our faith. Is it possible, or even conceivable, that in the midst of all this possession of the Faith, there now exists a darkness in our souls by which, and through which, we have “forgotten what manner of man we were?” Is it conceivable, referring to St. James graphic terminology, that we are so “spotted by the world” that we no longer know who we are, or what it really means to be Christian?

St. James makes “double-mindedness,” or duplicity, to be the primary factor in this loss of self-knowledge. This duplicity finds its most succinct exposition in the following passage of his epistle:

You ask, and receive not: because you ask amiss; that you may consume it on your concupiscences. Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world, is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God.” (4:3-4).

To be a “doer of the word,” is therefore to be identified with renouncing friendship with this world, and with that threefold concupiscence – of the flesh, the eyes, and pride of life – which St. John defines to be the entire substance of this world. The “heart” of this choice of God over the world is a militant devotion and commitment to Poverty, which is the First Beatitude and the foundation of the entire spiritual life:

Very properly is the kingdom of heaven said to be the possession of those who keep nothing of the goods of this world through their own will, their inclination towards spiritual things, and their desire for eternal things. For it can only follow that a person will live on heavenly things if he cares nothing for earthly things, and he who renounces all earthly things and counts them as dung will taste with pleasure the savory crumbs that fall from the table of the holy angels and will deserve to taste how sweet and how good the Lord is.” (Sacrum Commercium, Prologue).

The rejection of the sacrum commercium of St. Francis opened the heart of Christian civilization to that prostitution to the world of concupiscence and hubris, the ascending severity of which is possibly best encapsulated in the popular names which we give to these succeeding ages of history: Renaissance, Enlightenment, Age of Reason, Industrial Age, and our own Information Age. With each succeeding century the penetrating power of money over all the institutions of society was increased; the Church’s teaching on usury was softened, compromised, and finally silenced; international finance and trade come to dominate human relations; life became incredibly more complex and simplicity was lost; the population of cities grew at the expense of rural areas; the grip of reductive scientific thinking became dominant over every “civilized” man; human progress came to be increasingly identified with scientific, economic, technological, and consumeristic growth rather than anything to do with the spiritual life or the growth of Christ’s Kingdom.

The growth of these forces (and more) certainly moved at an accelerating pace through the 14th – 19th centuries. But something happened during the first half of the 20th Century – as though these forces of worldliness reached a critical mass – which enabled the whole process to enter into a geometrical progression. Possibly a few statistics might be of help:

According to the World Health Organization:

For the first time ever, the majority of the world’s population lives in a city, and this proportion continues to grow. One hundred years ago, 2 out of every 10 people lived in an urban area. By 1990, less than 40% of the global population lived in a city, but as of 2010, more than half of all people live in an urban area. By 2030, 6 out of every 10 people will live in a city, and by 2050, this proportion will increase to 7 out of 10 people.”

Such an increase speaks of a growth of people living profoundly unrelated to the intimacy of God’s natural creation and all its rhythms and realities, a devotion to consumerism, and a loss of any sort of life of simplicity which, in turn, could only lead to a massive loss of all the spiritual truths and realities to be found in Our Lord’s teaching on the Beatitudes and in the entire Sermon on the Mount. One need only look at a demographic map of the voting orientations for the 2016 U.S. Presidential election to see the stark reality. The blue areas (Democrats) are almost entirely confined to urban areas, whereas areas colored red (Republican) are predominantly rural. In translating this into geographical terms this signifies that Obama won 580,000 square miles, while Romney won 2,427,000 square miles, and yet lost the election. I present these statistics not in any way as an endorsement of Romney or the Republican Party, but only to strongly indicate the process of liberalization inherent in the growth of cities.

This urbanization of course means that what the vast majority of people do in order to earn their living has little or nothing to do with anything relating to God’s creation, or anything which Our Lord, St. Francis, or St. Thomas would consider the necessities of life. There are, for instance, approximately 623,800 people employed in Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and as Sales Managers in the United States. If there are that many actually employed in promoting and selling consumerism, one can barely imagine the disastrous effect upon all of Americans (and elsewhere) of the work of this vast army promoting the destruction of the ideal of Poverty.

Millions work in vocations related to the entertainment industry, which is almost certainly the primary source for spreading violence and sexual impurity in our cultures. Francis’ 1221 Rule for the Franciscan Third Order stated emphatically: “They shall not donate to actors, and shall forbid their household to donate.”

We need consider what this loss of poverty and simplicity of life has done to children. Global toy sales for the year 2011 were reported at 83.3 billion. The vast majority of these toys are almost certainly electronic – things which never seem to satisfy, always demand further growth in complexity and stimulation, and are soon broken or obsolete. Our children and grandchildren are violated by all this in the deepest recesses of their hearts and minds.

Pre-Vatican II American Catholics, in the midst of the twentieth century and during this period of exploding consumerism and secularism, possessed an abundance of the exterior testimonies to Christian civilization: vocations to the priesthood and religious life; the most extensive Catholic school system in the world; all children systematically taught the Baltimore Catechism; magnificent Churches; a vast network of Catholic Universities and Colleges; efficient Charitable Organizations; the Traditional Latin Mass.

And, in the midst of all this monumental Catholicism, they increasingly built up their bank accounts, stock portfolios, and retirement funds. They came to rely on insurance for their security rather than the charity of their family, friends, and Church. They somehow identified their faith with democracy and the American Experiment. They really believed in Religious Pluralism as the foundation of this experiment. They adored Bishop Sheen, and absorbed his embrace of evolutionary theory, which led him to write that Teilhard de Chardin “will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century.” (Footprints in a Darkened Forest, Meredith Press, 1967, p. 73). They embraced the banal TV entertainment of the 50’s, and prepared themselves to remain glued to their chairs for the flood of impurity that would descend in the 60’s and afterward.

In the intellectual realm, they became concubines of scientific reductionism, and every technological development. Virtually down to every single child and adult they absorbed the spiritual desolation involved in the notion that all physical things are reducible to atomic analysis. They taught, or had their children taught, about their alleged simian ancestry. They turned their faces away from Catholic teaching on “just wars, while this country dropped hydrogen bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which killed over 200,000 innocent civilians; they did the same while we incinerated hundreds of thousands more with the Fire-storm bombing of Tokyo and many European cities (135,000 in Dresden in one night). They raised America and the Constitution to a status parallel to the Chosen People and the Bible.

The examples are almost unlimited. They reach into every nook and cranny of our personal and communal lives.

It is therefore highly superficial to attribute the present chaos and filth in the Church to Vatican Council II. Vatican II and its aftermaths are the fruit, and certainly the facilitator of chastisement, for a much deeper infidelity and betrayal. Why should we believe that we have a right to the Traditional Latin Mass, which re-presents the supreme act of Poverty and Sacrifice by which Christ overcame the same world to which we are now prostituted? Why should we wonder that the leaders of the Church have now embraced an ecumenism which has had the effect of lowering us into the world’s cesspool of pluralism and paganism, which is the very constitutional principle upon which democracy and our country is founded? Why should we find it surprising that our hierarchy is largely immersed in the same sort of avarice, violence, and filth which is often our entertainment? Why should we be horrified by the undermining of Church Doctrine through philosophies and theologies which are the fruit of the same reductive scientism which has thoroughly permeated our own souls?

St. Gregory the Great wrote: “Divine justice provides shepherds according to the just desserts of the faithful.” The Papacy can be employed by God as a means of chastisement, as well as blessing. Any serious study of the history of the Church will prove the veracity of this principle. Vatican Council I taught that Peter, through Christ, “lives, presides and judges to this day, always in his successors the Bishops of the Holy See of Rome,” and that we are obliged to believe therefore that, “The disposition made by Incarnate Truth (dispositio veritatis) therefore remains, and Blessed Peter, abiding in the rock’s strength which he received (in accepta fortitudine petrae perseverans), has not abandoned the direction of the Church.” To believe this is to be Catholic, to believe otherwise is something else. If we choose to be Catholic, then we need to look inward for the real reasons behind Christ’s “direction” through Peter.

If we have a Pope who is in any way sinful or weak, then that infirmity is most likely intimately connected within the Mystical Body of Christ to our own hypocrisy, duplicity, and sinfulness. The same may be said of the hierarchy in general. This, of course, does not excuse Popes, bishops, priests, religious, theologians, catechists, etc. from sins, nor disallow us from combating error and abuses. It does, however, profoundly deepen our understanding of the roots of such sin, and also our proper response to it. Most of all, it forces us to acknowledge our complicity in this immense tragedy; and, hopefully, especially in the light of our exploration and study of St. Francis and his Sacred Commercium of Poverty, it should teach us humility, and destroy some conceits. In such humility, we might begin to find the answer, as did Daniel the Prophet:

“All this evil is come upon us; and we entreated not thy face, O Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and think on thy truth. And the Lord hath watched upon the evil, and hath brought it upon us: the Lord our God is just in all his works which he hath done: for we have not hearkened to his voice…we have sinned, we have committed iniquity…. For by reason of our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem, and thy people are a reproach to all that are round about us. Now therefore, O our Lord, hear the supplication of thy servant, and his prayers: and shew thy face upon thy sanctuary which is desolate, for thy own sake.”

Daniel has always seemed to be the premier Old Testament image of purity and sainthood – the Old Testament parallel to St. Francis. The scriptures repeatedly call him the “man of desires”, as though to underline the singular way in which his mind and heart were united to God, and therefore possessed that understanding heart which truly “sees God.”

Daniel never says “they have sinned”, but repeatedly “we have sinned, we have committed iniquity.”

The man who becomes Poor for Christ simply attains to such a state of charity with God and all His creation that he sees things very differently. This does not mean that he loses his ability to discern sin, or the lack of fortitude and righteous desire to combat it. It does mean that he penetrates to such a depth into the merciful heart of Christ and also into the poverty of every single human being, including himself, that he cannot help but say we have sinned many more times each day than they have sinned. This seems to me something which those who call themselves traditional Catholics, and consider themselves as a remnant of God in a world turned to general apostasy, have largely yet to learn. I do not know that in any of my reading of contemporary traditionalist literature I have ever seen the questions seriously posed, “What have we done wrong?” or “What have we done to deserve this?”

The dream of Pope Innocent III, in which he saw St. Francis holding up and restoring a Church crumbling into ruins, offers the answer. What is needed today is not another book on the errors of Vatican II. What is needed is not slick, expensive new catechisms, Catholic Universities and Colleges, more Catholic forums and conferences, more Monuments. What is needed most is not even the total restoration of the Traditional Mass. The Mass was the universal possession of all the faithful before Vatican II, and it did not prevent our present infidelity. What is demanded is hearts turned away from the world in poverty, and turned towards Christ in depth of desire and simplicity of intention. What is required is St. Francis, and the life of Poverty which was his Lady.

It is easy for us to dismiss all of this with the excuse that as lay people we cannot possibly live the “extreme” Poverty that Francis demanded of his Friars Minor. In doing so, we would be completely missing the richness of the Sacrum Commercium which was Francis’ love, and which he envisioned as a love for all. As quoted earlier from the I Celano, “For he assigned to all their rule of life, and pointed out truly the way to be saved in every station.”

It is an immense task. The great Cathedrals of Christendom are nothing when compared to the creativity demanded of such a work. Its intricacy is that of the human heart, as compared to stone. What Francis called “Flies,” and all its illegitimate children, have penetrated into every aspect of our lives. The task before us is a heroic undertaking. God will surely honor both our successes and failures, if only we turn back to Him with all our hearts:

“For we, O Lord, are diminished more than any nation, and are brought low in all the earth this day for our sins….And now we follow thee with all our heart, and we fear thee, and seek thy face. Put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies.” (Dan 3:33, 41-42).

 

Our Lady, Queen of Mercy

In his Second Life of St. Francis, Thomas of Celano offers us the following description of St. Francis’ extraordinary devotion to Our Lady:

Toward the Mother of Jesus he was filled with an inexpressible love, because it was she who made the Lord of Majesty our brother. He sang special Praises to her, poured out prayers to her, offered her his affections, so many and so great that the tongue of man cannot recount them. But what delights us most, he made her the advocate of the order and placed under her wings the sons he was about to leave that she might cherish them and protect them to the end – Hail advocate of the poor! Fulfill toward us your office of protectress until the time set by the Father!”

“Hail advocate of the poor! St. Francis clearly identified Our Lady with Lady Poverty. But there is more. He also identified Mary with the Church. The following, in Francis’ own words, is St. Francis prayer and Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Hail, O Lady, Holy Queen

Mary, Mother of God:

You are the virgin made Church

And the one chosen by the most holy Father in Heaven

Whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

And with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, In whom there was and is

All the fullness of grace and every good.

It is an extraordinary concept that Mary, through the will of the Father, was made Church. We of course can appreciate that this means that she is personally the perfect union of humanity with God, and is therefore the precursor and model, in imitation of her Son, of perfect holiness. She is the perfection of the Mystical Body of Christ.

But there is a second sense in which Mary is “made” Church. She encompasses within Her Immaculate Heart all that constitutes the Church Militant and the Church Suffering. As such, she has received the grace and power to purify the hearts of each one of us that we might come “to see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and understand with our heart, and be converted”; and that Our Lord might truly heal us of our infidelities and prostitutions to a world plummeting into the luxurious and prideful hands of Satan. It is thus that Our Lady is truly spoken of as Queen of Mercy.

This is the entire purpose of the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church – to place all of us within the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order that we might be purified of that darkness which enshrouds us all. It is of course impossible for any of us to survive in this Babylonian world, even in terms of possessing the simple necessities of this life, in the same way that was possible in the relative simplicity of the 13th Century. But God sees the heart, and it is here where the simplicity and purity of our intentions may receive His grace and fruitfulness. It is here where we may receive the grace of that “single eye” which truly seeks God above all the things of this world, and the power of truly Christian creativity to make this present within our lives and the lives of our families. Most of all, this necessitates that we begin by confessing that we cannot receive or live the richness of God, while pursuing the riches, luxuries, pleasures, and advancements of this world. We cannot claim the first Beatitude and that poverty of spirit which “sees God”, without at the same time possessing a deep love and devotion towards St. Francis’ Lady Poverty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please spread the word about the Rosary!

The World Cometh: Democracy and the Spirit of the Antichrist

The World Cometh:

Democracy and the Spirit of Antichrist

 

“The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God.” (John 16:2 )

 

Almost certainly, the primary source of that darkness of mind and heart which prevents American Catholics from taking seriously the appeal of something like The Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church is Democracy, and the sense of freedom and well-being which it has engendered for over two centuries. It will be our purpose to prove in this article, however, that Democracy not only promotes a false sense of freedom, but that it necessarily degenerates into tyranny, and especially that tyranny which is anti-Christian and is inevitably set to wage total war against the Church.

A line has now been crossed.

It has been a collective delusion in this country, based on the First Article of the Bill of Rights, that there exists a sort of sacred “separation of Church and State” which, while preventing the Church from gaining control over government and its policies, also provides an impenetrable barrier against any sort of invasion of the Church by the State. This barrier has now been breached. And in a post-Christian world, where hostility towards Christ, and especially against the Catholic Church, is growing at a geometric pace, we may expect this breach to be followed by a tidal wave of assaults, not only upon the faith and freedom of individual believers, but upon the very existence of the Church itself.

There are now increasing calls to treat the Church as a “criminal organization” under the RICO laws, or through whatever other means can be found, or newly instituted, to further this agenda. In the wake of the Pennsylvania priestly-abuse scandal involving allegations against over 300 priests and affecting over 1,000 victims, news sources now inform us that the Attorney Generals of 45 states have launched similar investigations into priestly abuse in their respective states. And possibly most ominous, on November 28, 2018 – two weeks after the U.S. Bishops surrendered to Vatican instructions to delay consideration of proposals concerning the investigation of the Cardinal McCarrick scandal, and for holding bishops accountable on issues concerning abuse by themselves and by the priests under their charge – more than 50 law enforcement officials raided the Chancery offices of Cardinal DiNardo (President of the USCCB) searching for secret archives related to clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up.

That many members of the Catholic Church, reaching all the way top, have engaged in criminal activity in regard to sexual abuse and its cover-up cannot be denied. That there therefore exist many legitimate cases in which prosecution by secular authorities is justified also cannot be denied. But it is also true that, in consideration of the general apostasy from Christ and His Rule which has now descended upon almost all nations, such limited legitimacy is almost certainly to become the justification for a reign of evil and terror against Christ and His Catholic Church.

In our articles on the Mysteries of the Rosary, and especially The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit, we have explored the errors and prostitutions to the world which have so reduced the effective power of the Holy Spirit in the interior life of the Church and its members as to have made inevitable not only the “filth” which has penetrated the Church, but also has now reduced the Church to the status of a relatively helpless victim towards the forces of evil which seek its destruction.

There is also, however, an exterior, historical progression of a religious and political concept which has been the primary means by which this victimhood of the Church to the State has been accomplished. It consists in a progressive surrender of Christian consciousness over the centuries to a kind of messianic belief in universal Democracy. In this country it has largely taken the form of a practical idolatry towards the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Constitution is founded upon two errors which have consistently worked to erode and destroy the faith of American Catholics for over two centuries. The first of these errors is encapsulated in the first article of the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….” This fundamental rule of American jurisprudence is a direct denial of the Social Kingship of Christ – which entails that only the Catholic Church can build Christian civilization, and that all nations will only be blessed to the extent that they embrace this Kingship under the spiritual guidance of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Catholic Church. For a nation to declare neutrality towards this Kingship is to call down upon itself eventual total chaos and dissolution, which is precisely the fate that now hovers over our nation. For a Catholic to be involved (including voting) in any way in the political life of such a nation involves a kind of continual dialogue and compromise with much that is in direct and indirect denial of his faith, and therefore almost necessarily results in intellectual, moral, and spiritual prostitution and decay.

There is, however, a second error, deeply imbedded in the American system of government, which has a history of deception and captivation of the Christian mind over the past 7 centuries which deserves close examination if we are ever to return as Catholics to an integral understanding of Christ’s Kingship over all individuals and nations. It consists, quite simply, in the formula that government is “of the People, by the People, and for the People”, and is rightly given the name “democracy”, which literally means “people rule” – from the Greek dēmos (the people), and kratia (rule). Many Americans have the erroneous notion that this phrase is to be found in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. It actually is to be found only in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. But the principle – government of the people and by the people – is certainly the foundation for the Declaration of Independence, and therefore also of the American Constitution: Thus, in the former:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government….” (Declaration of Independence, second paragraph).

There are of course always deficiencies and injustices in government, and the Declaration of Independence does indeed contain a list of grievances against England and her rule of the colonies. When I was a schoolboy, the main grievance of the colonists was always considered to be “taxation without representation”. I remember later in my adult life reading a news story during the Bicentennial Celebration in Boston in 1976 about a man, dressed as King George III, who jumped upon the stage and cried out, “How do you like taxation with representation?” The same story went on to point out that at the time of the Revolution the tax paid by the average American was one-half of 1%, while now it borders upon 50%. Accurate or not, this story points to the fact that there is always excuse for Revolution under democratic forms of government. We need also point out that the Declaration of Independence does indeed have at least one thing right. Governments are certainly instituted for the good of all its citizens, and among the equal rights of all its citizens is the right to life. Under its prescriptions, therefore, there is now a massive amount of justification, in the form of millions of murdered unborn children, for violent Revolution. This does not entail that you or I advocate such Revolution, but rather that the Declaration of Independence does so itself.

It will be the purpose of this article to prove that it is the fundamental principle of democracy – “the rule of the people” – which actually defines the principle of Revolution which has virtually destroyed Christian Civilization, that it has a long history reaching back into the latter Middle Ages, and that it is a heresy which is responsible not only for the decay of nations, but now also threatens the continuing existence of the Church and the Papacy upon which it is founded.

This is a rather large undertaking. And since deception in regard to this subject runs so deep, it would seem that a rather unusual approach is required in examining this subject.

It is very difficult for most Americans to believe that there is not something almost sacred about democracy. This, in turn, is intimately tied to a reverence not only for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but also for what is termed the “Founding Fathers”. There is something almost Biblical about this reverence – almost as though they were Patriarchs of some sort of New Revelation concerning human rights and freedom.

In order to penetrate through this miasma of false reverence, the following structure is intended in this article: 1) To examine the specific errors of democracy in the light of Catholic doctrine and Papal teachings; 2) To penetrate through the myths concerning the Founding Fathers, including the Catholic “Fathers” of the American Church; 3) To then jump back approximately 700 years in order to examine the origin of and growth of this heresy; 4) Finally, to analyze our present crisis in the light of what we have learned.

 

Catholic Doctrine Concerning Democracy

There are numerous encyclicals issued by many Popes, especially since the time of the French Revolution, which condemn certain principles integral to democracy. But it is Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical to the French Bishops titled Notre Charge Apostolique (On the Sillon), and a number of encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII, which contain the most direct examination of the errors of democracy, and the Catholic doctrines which are denied by this form of government. These doctrines are all centered upon a true understanding of the source of authority in all civil societies. The reader should keep in mind that in speaking of the errors of “The Sillon”, Pope Pius X is equating these errors with a false democracy, especially as practiced and promoted by Catholics. The two quotations immediately below are from The Sillon:

“Admittedly, the Sillon holds that authority – which it first places in the people – descends from God, but in such a way: ‘as to return from below upward’…. But besides its being abnormal for the delegation of power to ascend, since it is in its nature to descend, Leo XIII refuted in advance this attempt to reconcile Catholic Doctrine with the error of philosophism. For, he continues: ‘It is necessary to remark here that those who preside over the government of public affairs may indeed, in certain cases, be chosen by the will and judgment of the multitude without repugnance or opposition to Catholic doctrine. But whilst this choice marks out the ruler, it does not confer upon him the authority to govern; it does not delegate the power, it designates the person who will be invested with it.’ For the rest, if the people remain the holders of power, what becomes of authority? A shadow, a myth; there is no more law properly so-called, no more obedience.”

“We do not have to demonstrate here that the advent of universal Democracy is of no concern to the action of the Church in the world.”

Perhaps the most powerful condemnations of the principles of democracy are to be found in Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Immortale Dei (On the Christian Constitution of States). I think it worthwhile to offer several passages from this marvelous work:

“Sad it is to call to mind how the harmful and lamentable rage for innovation which rose to a climax in the sixteenth century, threw first of all into confusion the Christian religion, and next, by natural sequence, invaded the precincts of philosophy, whence it spread amongst all classes of society. From this source, as from a fountain-head, burst forth all those later tenets of unbridled license which, in the midst of the terrible upheavals of the last century, were wildly conceived and boldly proclaimed as the principles and foundation of that new conception of law which was not merely previously unknown, but was at variance on many points with not only the Christian, but even the natural law.

“Amongst these principles the main one lays down that as all men are alike by race and nature, so in like manner all are equal in the control of their life; that each one is so far his own master as to be in no sense under the rule of any other individual; that each is free to think on every subject just as he may choose, and to do whatever he may like to do; that no man has any right to rule over other men. In a society grounded upon such maxims all government is nothing more nor less than the will of the people, and the people, being under the power of itself alone, is alone its own ruler. It does choose, nevertheless, some to whose charge it may commit itself, but in such wise that it makes over to them not the right so much as the business of governing, to be exercised, however, in its name.

“The authority of God is passed over in silence, just as if there were no God; or as if He cared nothing for human society; or as if men, whether in their individual capacity or bound together in social relations, owed nothing to God; or as if there could be a government of which the whole origin and power and authority did not reside in God Himself. Thus, as is evident, a State becomes nothing but a multitude which is its own master and ruler. And since the people is declared to contain within itself the spring-head of all rights and of all power, it follows that the State does not consider itself bound by any kind of duty toward God. Moreover, it believes that it is not obliged to make public profession of any religion; or to inquire which of the very many religions is the only one true; or to prefer one religion to all the rest; or to show to any form of religion special favor; but, on the contrary, is bound to grant equal rights to every creed, so that public order may not be disturbed by any particular form of religious belief.

“And it is a part of this theory that all questions that concern religion are to be referred to private judgment; that every one is to be free to follow whatever religion he prefers, or none at all if he disapprove of all. From this the following consequences logically flow: that the judgment of each one’s conscience is independent of all law; that the most unrestrained opinions may be openly expressed as to the practice or omission of divine worship; and that every one has unbounded license to think whatever he chooses and to publish abroad whatever he thinks.”

“Now, natural reason itself proves convincingly that such concepts of the government of a State are wholly at variance with the truth. Nature itself bears witness that all power, of every kind, has its origin from God, who is its chief and most august source.

“The sovereignty of the people, however, and this without any reference to God, is held to reside in the multitude; which is doubtless a doctrine exceedingly well calculated to flatter and to inflame many passions, but which lacks all reasonable proof, and all power of insuring public safety and preserving order. Indeed, from the prevalence of this teaching, things have come to such a pass that many hold as an axiom of civil jurisprudence that seditions may be rightfully fostered. For the opinion prevails that princes are nothing more than delegates chosen to carry out the will of the people; whence it necessarily follows that all things are as changeable as the will of the people, so that risk of public disturbance is ever hanging over our heads.

I don’t think that we need to elaborate beyond the very evident conclusion that after approximately 225 years of the fruits of democracy in this country, “the risk of public disturbance is ever hanging over our heads.”

We conclude this section therefore with a statement of the two central principles of democracy which are in direct contradiction to Catholic doctrine:

1) Nations (and individuals) have no absolute obligation to embrace the one true religion of Jesus Christ, which is to be found only in the Catholic Church. Religion should in fact be separated from the State, and have no authority over public affairs. This is the heresy commonly called Indifferentism.

2) Political sovereignty and power rests in the people (expressed usually through the Vote). When any of these powers are delegated to be exercised by others (through, for example, an electoral process), the ultimate power and authority continues to rest in the people, and therefore submission to such authorities can be refused and withdrawn by them.

These principles constitute a direct denial of the Kingship of Christ. They are blasphemy against the universal Sovereignty of God over all of His Creation. It should not therefore seem an exaggeration to see democracy as the spirit of Antichrist incarnated in the political life of nations. Nor should it be surprising to us that Secret Societies long ago perceived that it was the vote, and especially the guilt associated with not voting, which would function as a primary means for lowering minds and hearts into this spirit. We shall explore this more fully further on in our analysis.

 

American Delusions

Having established clearly the direct opposition of the fundamental principles of democracy to Catholic doctrine, it yet remains to penetrate through a myth which still might hold minds and hearts in darkness in regard to the evils of democracy. This myth is centered upon the beginnings of this nation, and the views of what are called the “Founding Fathers”. It has been common opinion in this country to consider men such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, Hamilton, etc. as virtually on par with Biblical prophets, just as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are venerated as virtual modern extensions of Biblical Revelation.

Let us begin with some generalities. In twelve out of thirteen of the original colonies the practice of the Catholic faith was outlawed. When the British government passed a law in Canada called the Quebec Act which granted religions freedom to Catholics, it was publicly denounced by John Adams, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Samuel Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. On 21 October 1774, the Continental Congress addressed an open letter to the British people admonishing them for passing this law which tolerated a religion which “has deluged your island in blood, and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellion through every part of the world.”

Some of the “Fathers” stand out not only as anti-Catholic, but also as universally anti-Christian. We must remember that most of them, being products of the Enlightenment, were Deists. They might have nominally believed in a creator God, but they emphatically did not believe in His direct concern or intervention in human affairs. This means, of course, that they vehemently rejected the Incarnation and the Divinity of Christ. Thomas Jefferson gives profound witness to this rejection in his book called The Jefferson Bible. In this work, he had the audacity to edit the entirety of the Gospels, eliminating all reference to Christ’s Divinity, and also expurgating all of His miracles, including His Resurrection. Jefferson, despite recent revelations regarding his moral integrity, has been almost universally venerated as a man of great wisdom and moral integrity. I would ask the reader to obtain a copy of this book, examine its contents, and then question the integrity of a man who would do this to any other man’s work, not to mention that this is the Work of God. Many of the Deists, including Jefferson, claimed to honour Christ as a great moral teacher, while at the same time rejecting all claims to His Divinity. Jefferson detested St. Paul and viewed him as the major villain in what he considered as the idolatrous divinization of the man, Jesus.

One of Thomas Jefferson’s friends and correspondents was Thomas Paine, who is famous for having written the pamphlet “Common Sense“, which was a powerful piece of propaganda intended to sway public opinion in favor of the American Revolution. Many people do not know that there was at the time a deep division in the colonies over this issue, and that possibly even the majority in the beginning considered this course of action to be highly immoral and treasonous. Paine’s pamphlet, however, worked very effectively to neutralize this opposition, to the extent that virtually all historians today admit that the Revolution would not have occurred without its having been written and widely diffused. Few people also know that Thomas Paine also wrote a book titled The Age of Reason, the expressed purpose of which was to prove that Christianity was false and the Bible deeply self-contradictory. The following passage is taken from Book Two of this work:

But the belief in a God is so weakened by being mixed with the strange fables of the Christian creed, and with the wild adventures related in the Bible, and the obscurity and obscene nonsense of the testament, that the mind of man is bewildered as in a fog ….

“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying, to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power it serves the purpose of despotism and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests; but so far as respects the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or hereafter.”

It would, of course, be unfair to say that all of the founding fathers were as vehemently or fanatically anti-Christian as were Jefferson and Paine. It would be quite accurate to conclude, howev­er, that the vast majority were not Christian, and were vehemently anti-Catholic. In other words, those who claim that the solution to the present problems of our country is a return to the Christian roots of our founding fathers and the Constitution are somewhat like the man who shoots himself in the foot, and then does it again because it hurt the first time, and he now wants to do it right. He needs desperately to realize that there was no right in the thing from the beginning. In the case under consideration, he needs to admit that this was not a Christian country to begin with, and we are not in need of re-establishment but of primary evangelization.

Nor do we find integrity in regard to Catholic doctrine concerning the Kingship of Christ when we turn to those who might be viewed as the “Fathers” of American Catholicism.

Every bishop in this country, since the Constitution’s ratification, should have known that from that moment onward this nation would be in an accelerating state of falling away from God; and that this in turn would produce that inevitable decay in the spirituality and psychology of its citizenry which would finally descend to those barbarities which seem to be the end point of all such historical degenerations of nations – the destruction of the family, sexual license, homosexuality, and the sacrifice of one’s own children. The corollary of this understanding, of course, is that such a state of social emergency should have produced a militancy in our bishops, all priests, and the laity which fervently pursued the conversion of every soul in this country to Christ and to His Catholic Church.

In fact, just the opposite happened.

From their very first presence in this country (we speak here of the 13 colonies, and exclude the Catholic population of Spanish origin from this generalization), Catholics largely saw no conflict between their faith and the dominant culture. Lord Baltimore proclaimed religions freedom for the original Catholic settlement of Maryland. Charles Carroll signed the Declaration of Independence, and cast the vote that separated Maryland from England. Daniel Carroll helped draw up the Constitution, called it “the best form of Government that has ever been offered to the world”, and was responsible for its adoption by the state of Maryland. John Carroll, ordained a Catholic priest and later the first bishop of the United States, was sent as an agent of the American Revolutionaries to try to convince Canada and Catholic Quebec to support the American Revolution (which support was refused by Bishop Briand of Quebec), despite the fact that there was such strong anti-Catholic sentiment in this country that the Continental Congress officially and vehemently protested to England against the passage of the Quebec Act, by which England granted religions freedom to Catholics in Canada.

Archbishop (later Cardinal) Gibbons (who has been called the “Prince of Democracy”) stated in his Pastoral Letter accompanying the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884) that “there is no antagonism between the laws, institutions and spirit of the Catholic Church, and the laws, institutions, and spirit of this country”; and further, “that our country’s heroes were the instruments of the God of Nations in establishing this home of freedom,” and that it is illogical to think that “there is aught in the free spirit of our American institutions incompatible with perfect docility to the Church of Christ.”

Cardinal Gibbon’s close friend and contemporary, Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, was even more rapturous in his unqualified endorsement of the American view of freedom:

“God gives the power; but the people choose those that hold it, and mark out the conditions under which they do hold it. This is supreme democracy: it is the dogma of Catholicism. In America the government is the Republic – the government of the people, by the people, for the people. With you, fellow Catholics, with you fellow Americans, I salute the Republic: I thank God that the people of America are capable of possessing a government of this form. The Republic – it is the fullest recognition of human dignity and human rights, the fullest grant of personal freedom, that due respect for the rights of others and the welfare of the social organism may allow. Alter it to empire or monarchy! Never, so long as our lips may praise it, or our hands wield arms in its defense (address delivered in Milwaukee, Aug 11, 1913).”

This historical betrayal of our bishops, now stained with the blood of many millions of unborn children through the abortion holocaust, the spiritual rape of those already born through sex-education and the destruction of orthodox catechetical instruction, and most recently the “filth” of clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up, is still with us. It has now come down to the pathetic point where we are now supposed to consider our hierarchy in this country as heroic for standing up for “religious freedom”, when it is in fact religious freedom and Indifferentism which got us into our present mess to begin with. And behind it all was the cowardice of Silence – the silence which feared proclaiming the rights of God and of His Church to a society immersed in democratic errors.

Finally, it must be said, that the Church certainly recognizes and demands that man can come to the fullness of truth only through the exercise of his free will, and it also possesses a corpus of teaching concerning a legitimate “toleration” of error, especially when the suppression of such error would cause more evil than it would prevent. But such toleration does not lessen the obligation of confronting error “in its face”, and working diligently for the conversion of souls to the freedom which is only to found in the fullness of Catholic truth. It is this Catholic heroism which men like the Carrolls, Cardinal Gibbons, and Archbishop Ireland surrendered to the Republic.

 

Democracy: The History of Revolution in Church and State

In his analysis of the false principles of democracy in Immortale Dei, Pope Leo XIII spoke of the harmful and lamentable rage for innovation which rose to a climax in the sixteenth century”. The Protestant Revolution was not just an accident or anomaly of history, but rather the climax of an historical process, the origins of which must be sought in the 13th and 14th centuries.

It is of course true that the basic principles of Revolution among mankind are as old as Original Sin, and it is also true that democratic forms of Government reach back to the Greeks (Athenian democracy in the 5th century B.C.). But it is equally true that democracy in relation to Christian civilization possesses it own unique history, and it is here we shall begin our analysis.

It has been the position of many Catholic scholars (and that of many others, including Popes) that Christian civilization reached its highest attainment in the Thirteenth Century. This was due especially to two very great graces – St. Francis and St. Thomas Aquinas – given by God, with the power to effect what could have been a new beginning (a kind of New Pentecost) in the Christian world. The gift of St. Francis was designed to effect a return to living the Beatitudes. The gift of St. Thomas provided an intellectual vision of virtually the entirety of Christian Revelation and philosophical understanding, which was designed to be an unprecedented light for the liberation of both individual souls and nations. Both were betrayed.

Much of what follows in our analysis of the decay which followed the 13th century is indebted to Dr. Ludwig Von Pastor’s work The History of the Popes Since the Close of the Middle Ages. It spans a period of time from the beginning of the 14th Century (the Avignon Papacy) to Napoleon’s entrance into Rome in 1799, and comprises 16 volumes. It is a work immensely important for the understanding of the momentous historical events involving both Church and State during this period, especially considering the fact that Pope Leo XIII, for the first time, gave Von Pastor privileged access to the Secret Vatican Archives, and therefore many hitherto unavailable documents, for his labors.

Von Pastor chose well that point in time in which he was to begin his monumental work. It was at this juncture of time that the Church largely turned its back upon the purity of life and thought to be found in St. Francis and St. Thomas, and opened itself up to that massive influx of Greek and Roman culture through what is called the Renaissance. The Renaissance is usually considered to have its beginning in the 14th Century, but as Von Pastor notes the evil fruit which it produced in State and Church grew from seed planted in the rotting soil of the end of the 13th:

“The period was in many ways a most melancholy one. The prevailing immorality exceeded anything that had been witnessed since the tenth century. Upon a closer inquiry into the causes of this state of things, we shall find that the evil was in a great measure due to the altered conditions of civilized life. Commercial progress, facilities of intercourse, the general well-being and prosperity of all classes of society in Italy, France, Germany and the Low Countries, had greatly increased during the latter part of the thirteenth century. Habits of life changed rapidly, and became more luxurious and pleasure-seeking. The clergy of all degrees, with some honourable exceptions, went with the current.” (Vol. I, p. 97-98 – unless otherwise noted all future references will be from Volume I).

The Way of the Beatitudes (especially Lady Poverty) of St. Francis had been betrayed, and the “Flies” of Renaissance-inspired corruption found ample rot upon which to swarm. This was especially true of everything which touched upon matters relating to the flesh (including, of course, art and literature), but it was also true in the intellectual realm. Most prominent among the latter was the Greek idea of the autonomy of individual man, and the belief in that sovereignty of the people which in the social realm is termed democracy, and in the spiritual realm ultimately produced such phenomena as Concilliarism and the Protestant Revolution.

It is extremely difficult for anyone living in the 21st Century to realize what a radical effect upon the depths of the Catholic soul was produced by any triumph of democratic principles, whether in the realm of the Church or the State. We can, of course, never speak of total unanimity in human affairs, even in the affairs of Catholics. But we may nevertheless say that there certainly was an integral Catholic spirit which, up until this historical point, had simply accepted as a matter of fact the words of St. Paul:

Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13: 1-2).

And then there are the words of Peter:

Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to    the king as excelling; Or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good: For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if for conscience towards God, a man endures sorrows, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if committing sin, and being buffeted for it, you endure? But if doing well you suffer patiently, this is thankworthy before God. For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not: but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly.” (1Pet 2:13-23).

The Church has always qualified such obedience as to make it applicable “in all things but sin”, and it has also recognized that such obedience might be coupled with respectful criticism, etc. But it has always condemned any notion that power and authority of government, whether of Church or State, lies in the people themselves.

It is precisely this latter principle which burst forth in the first half of the 14th Century in relation to both Church and State. It has been with us ever since. Sometimes it has come in the fullness of violent Revolution against both Church and State, as was the case with the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War. At other times it might focus such violence mainly upon the Church, as in the Protestant Revolts in many countries. Or it might seem to be a revolution almost entirely in the political realm, as in the case of the American Revolution. And, finally, at other times it infiltrates its principles into the consciousness of millions of people through more deceptive and peaceful means, and executes its immense damage not outwardly through physical violence, but by means of ideas, philosophies, theological aberrations, and political ideologies and forms of government which profoundly undermine the sovereignty of God over individuals and nations, and over Church and State.

The Tract Defensor Pacis (The Defender of Peace), which laid the foundations of the modern idea that sovereignty resides in the people, was published in 1324. Its authors were both Professors at the University of Paris: Marsiglio da Padova (English: Marsilius of Padua), and Jean de Jandun. It is often exclusively attributed to Marsiglio.

It would not be appropriate here to enter into discussion of all the factors in Church and State during this period, which immediately provided this document with so powerful a fecundity in the minds and hearts of large segments of people. But two of these deserve special mention.

Defensor Pacis was published under the auspices and protection of Emperor Louis of Bavaria, who was then in a virtual state of war with a severely weakened and compromised Papacy residing in Avignon. He was also protector of that band of Franciscans called “minorities” who refused to submit to Pope John XXII’s condemnation of the doctrine of “the Absolute Poverty of Christ” proposed by St. Bonaventure, and who now produced a good deal of violent literature claiming the Pope to be an antichrist. Add to this a Papacy subject to the good will of the French Monarchy, and a Church living under the aura of corruption and opulence of the French Court, it took little effort to severely undermine whatever claims she made as to her Divine origins and hierarchical structure.

Secondly, the views expressed in Marsiglio’s Tract were not without recent precedence. Also under the protection of the Emperor during this period was the English Franciscan Friar, William of Occam (also Ockham) who, according to Von Pastor, “was deeply imbued with the political ideas of the ancients”. Following is Von Pastor’s summary of Occam’s positions:

“…the Emperor has a right to depose the Pope should he fall into heresy. Both General Councils and Popes may err, Holy Scripture and the beliefs held by the Church at all times and in all places, can alone be taken as the unalterable rule of Faith and Morals. The Primacy and Hierarchical Institutions in general are not necessary or essential to the subsistence of the Church; and the forms of the ecclesiastical, as of the political, constitution ought to vary with the varying needs of the time.” (p. 76).

But it is Marsiglio’s work which would provide the main source of fuel for these errors down through subsequent centuries. It is also full of violent invectives against John XXII, among them being “the great dragon and the old serpent”. The following summary of his positions is taken from Von Pastor:

“[Marsiglio] asserts the unconditional sovereignty of the people. The legislative power which is exercised through their elected representatives, belongs to them, also the appointment of the executive through their delegates. The ruler is merely the instrument of the legislature….If the ruler exceeds his authority, the people are justified in depriving him of his power, and deposing him.

“Still more radical, if possible, are the views regarding the doctrine and government of the Church put forth in this work. The sole foundation of faith and of the Church is Holy Scripture, which does not derive its authority from her, but, on the contrary confers on her that which she possesses. The only true interpretation of Scripture is, not that of the Church, but that of the most intelligent people, so that the University of Paris may very well be superior to the Court of Rome. Questions concerning faith are to be decided, not by the Pope, but by a General Council.

“This General Council is supreme over the whole Church, and is to be summoned by the State. It is to be composed not only of the clergy, but also of laymen elected by the people. As regards their office, all priests are equal; according to Divine right, no one of them is higher than another. The whole question of Church government is one of expediency, not of the faith necessary to salvation. The Primacy of the Pope is not founded on Scripture, nor on Divine right. His authority therefore can only, according to Marsiglio, be derived from a General Council and from the legislature of the State; and for the election of a Pope the authority of the Council requires confirmation from the State.” (p. 76-78).

One of the things that should impress us most in the above passages is the way in which the principle of the “sovereignty of the people” flows like molten lava between State and Church, equally dissolving all claims of divinely established power as residing anywhere else other than in the people. It is, in other words, a myth to believe that such a view of authority and power can be confined to the State, while at the same time preserving a separation between the State and the Church which leaves the latter to possess a form of government which is in diametrical opposition to the former. Human hubris, of which the first is a product, simply will not long endure the existence of the latter. It was a case of incredible obtuseness on the part of American Catholics, and especially the educated hierarchy, to believe such a delusion could be long maintained.

It is equally important to understand that when we confront such proposals as the superiority of a General Council over the Pope, or as having the power to judge a Pope or declare him deposed, we are in reality dealing with the same democratic principle in regard to the affairs of the Church – in the words of Pope Pius X, “power ascending from below, rather than from above”. In other words, Concilliarism is simply another form of thinly-disguised democracy in application to the Divine Constitution of the Church.

So let us proceed with an examination of the effect of such democratic principles upon the Church during the 14th, and into the 15th Centuries.

As the Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) states, “The influence of Defensor pacis was disastrous, and Marsilius may well be reckoned one of the fathers of the Reformation”. We know that Wycliffe was directly influenced by Him, and that 1n 1535 Thomas Cromwell had Defensor Pacis translated into English in order to offer proof and justification for Royal Supremacy over the Church. The following evaluation as to the historical importance of this work is offered by Harvard Professor (Emeritus) of Ecclesiastical Studies Ephraim Emerton in his Critical Study of Defensor Pacis:

Marsiglio’s work penetrates every attempt at church reform made during the five generations between Wycliffe and Luther. It came to be one of the stock charges made against every leader of reform that he was repeating the heresies of Wycliffe and through him those of Marsiglio. Even though the reformer [Luther] himself made no allusion to his fourteenth century predecessor, and may, indeed, have been more or less unconscious of the debt he owed him, the sure instinct of the still dominant but now thoroughly frightened Church pointed unerringly to the essential continuity of ideas from Marsiglio onward.”

 

The Great Western Schism

The Avignon Papacy (including seven French Popes) endured from 1309 until 1377, at which time St. Catherine of Sienna finally managed to persuade Pope Gregory XI to return the Papacy to Rome. Gregory died the following March. On April 8, the Cardinals elected Cardinal Prignano (Italian), who took the name Pope Urban VI. As Von Pastor writes, “It cannot, indeed be denied that the election of Urban VI was canonically valid. The most distinguished lawyers of the day gave their deliberate decisions to this effect.” (p. 120).

Pope Urban was intent upon reform, and he proved to be quite extraordinarily harsh upon the Cardinals who elected him – a harshness which Catherine of Sienna frequently counseled him to temper. Finally, the Cardinals (with the exception of one Italian) could stand it no longer, and while in summer residence at Anagni held another (illegal) conclave and declared the election of Urban VI to be invalid. Thirteen days later (August 22), the eleven French Cardinals, and the Spanish Cardinal Pedro de Luna (who would later become Antipope Benedict XIII) – all of whom had originally elected Urban – now elected Cardinal Robert of Geneva Antipope. He took the name Clement VII. The three Italian Cardinals, who had originally voted for Urban, abstained from this vote, but later that day accepted his Papacy. The Great Western Schism had begun. The Papacy had been somewhat “normal” – without either being in exile in Avignon, or racked by Schism and Antipopes – for approximately one and one-half years.

The Great Western Schism would last 39 years. It divided not only the Church, but also nations. France, Scotland and Spain were allied with the series of Antipopes, while Italy, England, Flanders, Hungary, Poland, and most of Germany were allied with the succession of true Popes. It also divided Saints – Catherine of Sienna of course supported the true Pope, while St. Vincent Ferrer for years was allied with the Spaniard Pedro de Luna who became Antipope Benedict XIII. The false Council of Pisa in 1409 attempted to declare both successors (Pope Gregory XII and Antipope Benedict XIII) of these two lines of Papal claimants deposed, and then proceeded to elect a third – Antipope Alexander V (Alexander V died this same year, and the Cardinals immediately elected Antipope John XXIII as his successor). The schism was finally ended at the Council of Constance, when for the good of the Church, the true Pope Gregory XII, along with Antipope John XXIII, resigned (Pedro de Luna – Antipope Benedict XIII – never did resign, but largely lost his support, including that of St. Vincent Ferrer). Gregory also legitimized the Council, which then proceeded to elect a new Pope, Martin V.

All during this time, however, the heresy of Concilliarism (and worse) cultured and grew in the minds and hearts of Catholics. In 1381, a work was published by Heinrich von Langenstein titled Proposition of Peace for the Union and Reformation of the Church by a General Council. Its proposals are summarized by Von Pastor:

No especial weight is to be attached to our Lord’s institution of the Papacy. The Church would have had a right to appoint a Pope if He had not done so. If the Cardinals should have chosen a Pope who does not suit the Church, she had the right to revise the work of her agents, and even to deprive them of her commission. For the power to elect the Pope rests originally in the Episcopate, and reverts to it if the Cardinals cannot, or will not elect; or if they abuse their right of election. The criterion, by which all acts of Church and State are to be judged, is whether they do, or do not promote the general good. A prince who, instead of preserving the State, would ruin and betray it, is to be resisted as an enemy; the same course should be pursued in the Church. Necessity breaks the law; indeed, even renders its breach a duty….To apply these general notions to the present case, it is not of the essence of a General Council that it should be summoned by the Pope; in extraordinary cases this may be done by temporal princes. The authority of the Council stands higher than that of the Pope and the Sacred College, for of the Church alone is it said that the gates of hell should not prevail against her. These theories, by which Langenstein broke with the whole existing system, soon became widely diffused. Henceforward this most dangerous doctrine of the natural right of necessity was the instrument used in all efforts to put an end to the Schism.” (p. 183-185).

It is worth noting, in regard to recent Church history, that it was precisely this principle – necessity breaks the law” – which, in Archbishop Lefebvre’s mind, provided the justification for his ordaining four bishops expressly against a Papal mandate not to do so.

During this period leading up to the Council of Constance, these sort of tracts proliferated. The celebrated Canonist Zabarella, who afterwards became a Cardinal, wrote a treatise which, according to Von Pastor brought to fullness the Concilliarist heresy. In regard to the Pope, Zabarella wrote, “Should he err, the Church must set him right; should he fall into heresy, or be an obstinate schismatic, or commit a notorious crime, the Council may depose him.” (p. 187).

Nor was this all ended with the Council of Constance, which ended the schism. The Council actually passed a Decree titled Frequens which bound Popes not only to the decisions of General Councils, but also to a kind of constant state of being subject to the vigilance and superior authority of these same Councils. Nine times it uses the word “bound” in reference to such Papal subjections to General Councils. It also declared that in any further instance in which there is a disputed Papacy, all claimants, including the legitimate Pope, are called to judgment by a General Council, are suspended from all administration of Church affairs, and that obedience is not to be given by the faithful to any such claimants until the question has been settled by the Council. This decree was not confirmed by the newly elected Martin V, and flatly contradicted in further documents by Martin and subsequent Popes.

It is enormously important to understand, however, that Concilliarism was not dead, but in fact formed the thinking of the majority of the Council Fathers of Constance. This was especially true of the French faction. Concilliarism would persist over the centuries and would coalesce in a conglomerate of heresies associated with what is called Gallicianism (centered especially in France). It would then be this heresy which formed the opposition to the definitions of Papal Primacy and Infallibility at the First Vatican Council.

It would, of course, be possible to do an exhaustive study of these democratic principles, and their increasing corrosive effect upon Church and State, through the past five centuries. But what has already been provided above in terms of historical analysis should be enough to convince any perceptive reader of the basic thrust and intensity of what has come down to us in the many-faceted forms which incarnate the basic errors of democratic thinking.

However, considering what is happening in regard to the Papacy of Pope Francis, and the attempts being made to find justification for his being declared a heretic and deposed, there is one more stop along the historical timeline which would seem worthy of our consideration.

The writings of four theologians – Thomas Cajetan, Robert Bellarmine, Francisco Suarez, and John of St. Thomas – whose writings on this subject all occur within a one-hundred year period, from the beginning of the 16th to the first half of the 17th centuries – form the central locus of current efforts to justify Papal deposition.

In light of all that has been written above, it would therefore seem legitimate to question the influence of erroneous democratic principles upon these men’s thinking. Here, for the purpose of illustration, we shall limit our examination to two of these men: St. Robert Bellarmine and Suarez.

In De Clericis, Ch. VII, Bellarmine writes:

“In a commonwealth all men are born naturally free; consequently, the people themselves, immediately and directly, hold the political power so long as they have not transferred this power to some king or ruler.”

And, in De Laicis, Cap. VI, he teaches:

“Political power resides immediately in the whole multitude as in an organic unit. The divine law has not given this power to any particular man; therefore, it has given it to the multitude. There being no positive law to this effect, there is no more reason why, among equals, one should have a greater right to rule than another. Therefore, the power belongs to the whole multitude.” (both quotes are taken from “Democracy and Bellarmine,” John C. Rager, S.T.D.,1926).

It is therefore clear that the mind of St. Robert Bellarmine fell prey to the principles of a false democracy.

An important feature of Suárez’s view is that political power does not just reside in the community initially. It always remains there. As he puts it, “after that power has been transferred to some individual person, even if it has been passed on to a number of people through various successions or elections, it is still always regarded as possessed immediately by the community” (DL 3.4.8). Suárez is, of course, aware that the needed stability of political communities would be in question if communities could withdraw their transfer of power to the government at every whim. So even though in some sense the power always remains in the community, Suárez argues that the transferred power may not ordinarily be withdrawn (De legibus 3.4.6). Suárez recognizes exceptions, however. Should the government become tyrannical, the door may be opened to legitimate revolt and even tyrannicide (Defensio fidei catholicae 6.4 and De charitate 13.8). This is the doctrine that gained Suárez the ire of James I of England.

As I said early, the corrosive principles behind the principle of “Popular Sovereignty” flow easily between views of Church and State. We might justly conjecture that the thinking of such men as Robert Bellarmine and Francisco Suarez in regard to Papal deposition are intimately connected to their thinking on secular authority, and are simply a diluted form of the poison which originally formed in the mind of such men as Marsiglio da Padova..

 

The One Thing Necessary

Our Lord asks his disciples an extraordinary question: “”But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18: 8))

We tend, I think, to take this as a purely rhetorical question. We might reply, “Of course there will be faith. There will always be a Remnant – Scripture promises such.” And yet we are obliged to take Our Lord’s question seriously.

Our Lord’s question comes as the conclusion to a short parable concerning the widow who continually “wearies” an unjust judge in order to receive justice. It ends with the following: “And will not God revenge [a metaphor for God’s justice] his elect who cry to him day and night: and will he have patience in their regard? I say to you, that he will quickly revenge them.”

It may at first seem quite extraordinary that the virtue of faith is here identified with the incessant crying of a widow for justice. We tend to think of faith solely in terms of an intellectual possession. We believe the Truths revealed by God, or we do not. The first constitutes us as being faithful, the second as reprobate.

But both Scripture and Church teaching reveal to us that there is a very real distinction to be made between a dead faith and a faith that is alive: “Faith without charity is dead”. (James 2:20).

We tend to think of this charity, without which faith is dead, exclusively in relation to our neighbor. St. John is clear in his teaching that we cannot claim love of God if we do not also love our brother. But St. John also teaches the reverse: “In this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God, and keep his commandments”. (1 John 5:2). In other words, we cannot possess charity towards our neighbor unless we are first established in the charity of God, which requires obedience to His Commandments.

The First Commandment of God is:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart.”

It is the “heart” which is the organ of human integrity because it is here where human intellect and will meet, where Truth becomes incarnate and faith becomes alive, and therefore where the duplicity, hypocrisy, and the lies of Satan are defeated.

Absolutely central to this love of God is that it be whole, which simply means that we seek first the establishment of the kingdom of God in all things, and not compromise, or be in any way duplicitous, in this work: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).

It is the most fundamental characteristic of democracy to secrete a corrosive spirit of duplicity which dissolves this wholeness of the human heart, both on individual and collective levels. It does so because the firstborn child of democracy is pluralism. And pluralism, when it is the fundamental principle of a nation and its Constitution, entails that we are immersed in a culture which is quite literally a spiritual ocean of error. Every moment of our lives in this culture is therefore surrounded by a call, and even demand, to compromise in the pursuit of the work of God. First, it demands of us silence in relation to the “hard” Truths of Christ. Second, it requires of us a participation in the life of this culture which by its very nature is demanding of compromise itself, and therefore a duplicitous life as regards our relationship to God. Such is the act of voting, especially in any national election.

We must always realize that democracy, the first principle of which is the sovereignty (the power and authority) of the people, is always an attack upon the sovereignty of God over all his creation. And this is true whether its principles are proposed and implemented in the political realm, or in the spiritual. It is no wonder therefore that Secret Societies, in pursuit of their ultimate goal, which is the dethronement of God, rightly perceived the vote as the most effective means of injecting their poison into whole peoples. It is the spirit of Antichrist made palpable for the people.

The word vote has its origins in the Latin votum, which means an oath, a vow, or even a prayer (e.g. votive candle). It is meant to express the wholeness of not only the words which come out of our mouth, but also the integrity and depth of our desires. Any duplicity engaged in through the act of voting falsifies the word which comes forth from our heart, and in so doing changes our soul.

This process of decay has been pre-eminently exemplified within the Pro-Life movement. We are silent on contraception, which almost certainly murders many more of God’s little ones than surgical abortion. We vote for a man who is for abortion in the cases of life of the mother, rape, and incest, and we still call him “Pro-life, except in the cases of the life of the mother, rape, and incest”. We vote for a man who says he now accepts the legality of so-called gay-marriage, and we still call him “Pro-Life”. We vote for a man who says he supports the work of Planned Parenthood with the exception of their doing surgical abortions, and we call him “Pro-Life”.

Further, we call those who are for the killing of unborn babies “Pro-Choice”, when in fact such a term is simply a euphemism for “Pro-Abortion” – after all, no one is for killing all babies; it is always a question of choice. If a person were to say that he was personally not for killing black people, but for the right of everyone else to do so, he would certainly not be called “Pro-Choice”, but rather someone who advocates the murdering of black people. And yet “Pro-Lifers” will engage in such duplicity in relation to the unborn, who they allegedly believe have equal dignity and right to life with all other human beings. When we allow our language to be stolen from us, it inevitably means that we have been robbed of the fullness of our Catholic minds and hearts.

We must also recognize that The Pro-Life issue is only one area in which Catholics have been chiseled down to being mere stumps of Christians. The Public Education System, for instance, might be considered to be the number- one means by which the minds and heart of our youth are poisoned by the anti-Christian values and beliefs of the world. Yet no politician could ever conceivably be elected, or even be considered a serious candidate, in any election if he opposed public education. Nor would he stand any better chance if he supported in any serious and effective way censorship of the industries of modern media and entertainment (the other candidates for being considered the primary polluters of the minds and hearts of our children). And yet these same politicians, whose positions are profoundly destructive to the Catholic ideal, might receive enthusiastic endorsement from many voters who would consider themselves traditional, orthodox, or conservative Catholics because of their extraordinarily shallow and inconsistent “Pro-Life” positions.

We have been through this all before, especially during what are called “the Reagan Years”. Expectations were enormously high that during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Roe vs. Wade would be reversed. President Reagan ended up appointing four Supreme Court Justices: Sandra Day O’Connor, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Arthur Kennedy. Sandra Day O’Connor was pro-abortion, and it is the Catholic Arthur Kennedy who has so often provided the “swing vote” frustrating any Pro-Life efforts before the Supreme Court. So much for the Reagan legacy. And now President Trump has appointed a man to the Supreme Court (Neil Gorsuch), who is supposedly a Catholic, conservative “stealth candidate”, but who in his 51 years (27 of these as a lawyer and public figure) on this earth has never been caught making a clear statement in opposition to abortion or Roe vs. Wade. We need to ask: How does a man possessing any Catholic integrity accomplish such a thing? So much for an end to the Abortion holocaust through a policy of political compromise.

At this point in history, however, when the Spirit of Antichrist looms over our individual lives and the lives of our nations, the primary destructive effect of being involved in the political process is that it derails us from doing the “one thing necessary”. We place half (or less) of our hope in Our Lady’s plan for our happiness and salvation, and the other half (or more) in a Reagan, Buchanan, or Trump. The prophet Jeremiah proclaims to the nation of Israel: “For on every high hill, and under every green tree thou didst prostitute thyself.” (Jer. 2:20). It is an ever recurring tale, as old as original sin. Man, losing his trust in God, compromises and betrays the integrity of his own faith, and enters into alliances with fallen angels, persons, powers, political parties ,and nations who are ever so ready to receive his prostitutions. This was especially true of Israel to whom God spoke the words quoted in the above passage from Jeremiah. In the midst of imminent death and destruction on the horizon, instead of turning towards God and his promises and towards the prayer and penance necessary for salvation from their enemy, they sought political and military alliances with their pagan neighbors. In the very act of doing so, their minds were darkened and their wills became polluted with every conceivable form of moral perversion which they absorbed through their spiritual and physical adulteries.

Possibly the most destructive effect of such duplicity, even among those who manage to keep their personal and family lives from falling into the moral filth of our times, is the blindness and torpidity which fails to take that action necessary to ward off impending disaster. It is the proverbial “deer-in-the-headlights” syndrome. Our Lord said, “You hypocrites, you know how to discern the face of the heaven and of the earth: but how is it that you do not discern this time?” It is characteristic of almost all great impending spiritual catastrophes that those who should effectively possess the grace from God to see and take the necessary action necessary to avoid the coming storm, instead immerse themselves in business-as-usual:

For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark,. And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” (Mt. 24: 37-39).

The entire purpose of the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church consists in attempting to accomplish an awakening. We must turn our votum away from the Babylonian world around us which has largely been erected upon the false principles of Democracy, and cry to Christ, through the Immaculate Mary, for deliverance. There can be no such deliverance, but only chaos and destruction, if we do not return with great intensity to fulfilling Our Lady’s requests. We therefore beg all serious Catholics to journey to their churches on February 2, 2019, and unite in praying the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church. Our Lady is our Final Hope.

 

Please spread the word about the Rosary!

Spanish Handout

OBSCURIDAD A LA LUZ:

El Rosario Hacia El Interior Para La Purificación De La Iglesia.

 

El Sabado 2 de Febrero del 2020, El día que celebramos la doble fiesta, La Presentacion de Jesus en el Templo y la Purificación de la Santisima Virgen María (tambien llamada día de la Candelaria) Alli volverá actuar en todo Estados Unidos (y con suerte en todas las naciones) La reunión de los fieles y sus propias iglesias parroquiales para rezar el Santo Rosario por la intención  de Purificar la Iglesia, y Triunfo de la Luz de Cristo sobre todos los pecados y errores.

La Presentacion celebra la venida de Cristo Jesus, La Luz de mundo, dentro de su templo. De echo es la principal Fiesta de la Luz y el Triunfo de la Luz sobre la obscuridad del mal. Tradicionalmente llamada día de la Candelaria, que se simboliza “Exito” y Trinfo a la Incarnación, se a celebrado tradicionalmente como una procesión de velas y el día litúrgico a bendecir las velas.

La Purificación en la fiesta de Nuestra Señora es considera hacer la más antigua Marian Fiesta Litúrgica en la Iglesia( teniendo su inicio en la vida litúrgica de la iglesia de Jerusalen),lo que al mismo tiempo significa exteriormente un acto que cumplia la prescripcion de la Antigua Ley, representa interiormente una realidad  completamente nueva. La purificación prescrita en la antigua  ley era consecuencia del pecado original y el dolor  que ahora acompanamos a todo parto. María concibio sin pecado, Fue libre de sus dolores. La Purificación del Nuevo Testamento por lo tanto fue indentificado con el sufrimiento interior de María y el rezo y el sufrimiento de sus hijos espirituales. Lo que es necesario para la Purificación de la Iglesia  para que la Luz de Cristo pueda radiar atravez de la Iglesia y de ahí al mundo.

Y Simon los bendice y le dice a María su Madre; Mirad este niño esta preparando para la caída y para la Resurrección de muchos en Israel y una señal que sera contradecida; Y tu propia alma una espada perforara y que de muchos corazones atravez de muchos se revele.”

La Iglesia a sido penetrada por obscuridades, que posiblemente es mas grande que en cualquier tiempo de la historia – No solo las obscuridades de los pecados sexuales y otros morales “inmundicia.” Pero aquello que consiste en cada forma concebible de error que se enmascara a si misma  como verdad y que la obscuridad se enmascare como la luz. La tarea de desenmascarar estos pensamientos allanando el camino hacia el triunfo de la verdad de Cristo ha sido confiada a María. Mas especialmente ha sido confiada a Nuestra Señora del Rosario. San Pablo escribe. “La noche a pasado y el día cerca. Por lo tanto, desechemos el trabajo de la obscuridad y pongamonos una armadura de Luz.” El Rosario, tal y como revelo el mensaje a Nuestra Señora de Fátima, en la armadura de la Luz  que posee Dios desechar la obra de la obscuridad  que ahora invade la Iglesia del mundo y especialmente las mentes  y los corazones de los católicos individualmente.

Por lo tanto,  les estamos pidiendo a todos los católicos que se acerquen a su pastor y obispo para solicitar que promuevan el Santo Rosario en el Interior: Para la Purificación de la Iglesia acompañada de la Hora Santa,  en sus Iglesias parroquiales locales el 2 de Febrero, 2019(que providencialmente es tambien el Primer Sabado).

Para mas información, visita www.rosarytotheinterior.com .El sitio incluye nuestra propuesta original, una carta de muestra para el pastor. Sugerencias de un programa de Hora Santa. Y series de progreso de meditacion en la tradicional de cada Quince Rosarios. Rosario comendado para los ninos de Fátima.

Please spread the word about the Rosary!

Ask your pastor to Implement this Event!

For those who would like to join in this missionary effort, please refer to  our sample letter which you can send to any priests whom you feel might be interested in promoting this initiative.  Since this is a group effort, you may simply assume and sign the letter as your own.

Alternatively, simply find an open Catholic Church in which to pray the Rosary for this intention, either with a group or alone.

We invite the whole world to join us!

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