The Second Glorious Mystery:
“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.” (John 16: 7).
The Mystery of the Ascension is rightly viewed as the beginning of the Christian Interior Life.
For three years, the Apostles (all except Paul) walked alongside Jesus. They experienced the light and power of His presence. They heard all his teachings. They witnessed Him walking on water, turning water into wine, countless miraculous healings, raisings of the dead, and multiplication of fishes and loaves. Peter, James, and John even witnessed His Transfiguration. And yet all during this period when God was physically and visibly with them, the Gospel reveals their ignorance, their slowness to believe and understand, their competitiveness with one another, their lack of mercy and quickness to judge others, their abandonment of Jesus in the time of His sorrows and Passion, and their slowness and skepticism in believing in His Resurrection. And even after He appeared to them in the flesh after the Resurrection, they cowered in the Upper Room.
An extraordinarily different group of men burst forth from the Upper Room after Pentecost, and after the Holy Spirit had descended into their souls. The speech of fishermen became eloquent. They preached with power, and in the tongues of all the various nations. They immediately converted thousands. They raised persons from the dead, performed many miracles, and healed the sick. They converted whole nations, while treating persecution, imprisonment, and torture as naught. All of them, except St. John (and it is not because the world didn’t try), were martyred in love for Christ and their fellow man.
Christ came visibly in the flesh in order to accomplish man’s redemption on the Cross. In order that the grace of redemption might bear fruit, however, it was necessary that man be deprived of the Visible God, and baptized into the Invisible: the Interior life of the Holy Spirit. In order for this life to bear fruit, however, it is required that man, in imitation of Christ, die to this world.
As St. John explains, the fundamental fruit of original sin in human nature is a threefold concupiscence: “the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes [desire], and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). The overall effect of this threefold concupiscence is that man tends to take all that he has received from God and “consume it on his concupiscences.” In his fallen nature, he always leans towards taking that which is high and dragging it down into his lower nature, consuming God’s gifts in a thousand subtle and deceptive ways, and transforming them into every conceivable form of self-love. In so doing, he becomes a spiritual adulterer who chooses to become a “friend of this world” at the price of being “an enemy of God,” (James 4: 3-4). It is for this reason that it is not only “expedient” that Christ be not visibly with us, but that He also deprive us of many consolations, and not alleviate many of our sufferings. At the end of Mary of Agreda’s visions concerning the Mystery of the Ascension, Our Lady says to her:
“It is in conformity with the inclinations of His Holy and Perfect Will to regale rather than afflict creatures, to console them rather than cause them sorrow, to reward them rather than to chastise them, to rejoice rather than grieve them. But mortals ignore this Divine Science, because they desire from the hands of the Most High such consolations, delights and rewards, as are earthly and dangerous, and they prefer them to the true and more secure blessings. The Divine Love then corrects this fault by the lessons conveyed in tribulations and punishments. Human nature is slow, coarse and uneducated; and if it is not cultivated and softened, it gives no fruit in season, and on account of its evil inclinations, will never of itself become fit for the most loving and sweet intercourse with The Highest Good. Therefore it must be shaped and reduced by the hammer of adversities, refined in the crucible of tribulation, in order that it may become fit and capable of The Divine gifts and favors and may learn to despise terrestrial and fallacious goods, wherein death is concealed.”
St. Paul writes: “But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God.” (1Cor. 2:14). And St. James writes: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners: and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:8). What can it mean for God to “draw nigh” unto us except that He answers our prayers and heals our wounds? The work of the Spirit of God within us depends on our not being sensual and double minded. Again, the Apostle James: “You ask, and receive not; because you ask amiss; that you may consume it on your concupiscences.” (Ibid. 4:3).
When, therefore, we consider the present state of the Church – the chaos which exists in relation to such things as the perversions and duplicity of many in the hierarchy, clerical abuse, bad catechetics, widespread denial and perversion of Catholic doctrine – and when we also consider what has seemed to be the ineffectiveness of all our prayers in bringing any sort of solution to this crisis – we should honestly ask ourselves, Why? Pope St. Gregory the Great taught that, “Divine Justice provides Shepherds according to the just desserts of the faithful.” In view of the present crisis among our shepherds, we should therefore logically first ask, “What duplicity, what base sensuality and pride of life, what sort of immersion and attachment to the things of this world, has brought us to such a state that we deserve this sort of punishment and chastisement?
There is a kind of satanic dialectic in the progression of sin in this world which is leading us (and Catholics are very much participants in this dialectic) towards the final ascension of the Antichrist to power. It is similar in many ways to the dialectic which exists in the realm of politics. It might help our understanding of how this dialectical process works if we spend a moment examining this comparison.
One hundred years ago, any Republican who was a Federal representative or senator would have claimed to be “conservative” just as Republicans do now. Back then, this almost universally required a firm public stance against all artificial contraception, against abortion in all cases, against all divorce, against promiscuity, and against homosexuality. The idea of “gay marriage” would have been something so absurd as to not even be a subject for debate. As the world waxed more towards anti-Christian principles in the following decades, the same Republican Party was of course able to continue calling itself “Conservative” (which of course many Catholics equate with “Christian), because the Democratic Party was always two steps ahead of it in its embodiment of the principles of Antichrist. But now we have a Republican Party which is almost universally pro-contraception, weak and divided on abortion (with virtually all members of the senate and congress being pro-abortion in some cases), accepting of divorce, and now increasingly accepting of homosexuality and gay marriage. And yet these members of the senate and congress are still able to call themselves “Conservative”, and even “Christian”. Meanwhile, their leader and President, who claims to be a Christian, proudly proclaims that he has never asked God for forgiveness and has no need to do so.
A very similar process of decay has occurred in Catholic belief and practice. In our article on the First Sorrowful Mystery we quoted all sorts of statistics in regard to current Catholic beliefs concerning abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, etc., and reached the conclusion that apparently over 80% of Catholics now receive Holy Communion sacrilegiously.
It is therefore tempting for us whose beliefs remain in accord with the traditional doctrine of the Church on these crucial doctrines and moral teachings to assume the posture of the “remnant” who are faithful to Christ, and therefore hopefully assured of salvation. After all, we can rightly claim that we are guilty of none of these individual mortal sins. And we therefore feel fully justified in pointing our fingers at others – those bad members of the hierarchy, or those Catholics who are in explicit denial of the Catholic Faith and its moral teachings.
The question needs to be asked, however, whether there is not a deeper and more all-pervasive adultery to this world existing even among those of us who might consider ourselves faithful Catholics – an adultery which, while not involving guilt in regard to any one of the mortal “sins of the flesh” mentioned above, nor being guilty of rejection of any doctrine of the Faith, has yet sunk us so deeply into the pleasures, possessions, pretentions, and preoccupations of our modern world so as to have it constitute a form of the most severe duplicity towards God. In other words, we also need to ask whether such duplicity can exist even within the souls of those who might pride themselves on fully accepting all of the Catholic Faith, who attend Mass regularly, pray the Rosary daily and participate in all sorts of Catholic devotional practices, including Eucharistic Adoration. Is it possible that even in the midst of so much Catholicity, our hearts might be far from God, and that this is why our requests and prayers to God go unfulfilled? We quote again the words of St. Paul: “But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God.” Is it possible that through the dialectical process of cultural decay working upon our minds and hearts over the past decades, and even centuries, we have become so immersed in our lower natures through compromise with the sensuality and affluence of the modern world, that it has become virtually impossible that God should draw nigh to us and answer our prayers?
In order to help us answer this question, we wish to offer here an analysis of just one example of such immersion of Catholics in the sensuality and paganism of the modern world. It involves that event which is surely the largest simultaneous and collective mass-descent of persons in this country (including Catholics) into the crudity, vulgarity, and luxury of man’s lower appetites. It occurs this coming year on February 3, 2019, one day after the next Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church. It is the Super Bowl.
It is estimated that in 2018, 188.5 million adult American viewers of the Super Bowl spent 15.3 billion dollars on this event (National Retail Federation). This expenditure included everything from the tickets, travel, hotel, and other expenses incurred by those who actually attended the game, to home TV- parties, attendance at bars and restaurants, etc. in order to view and party during the game. It does not include the expenses of the event itself. Each 30 second commercial, for instance, cost 5 million dollars, and it is estimated that the insurance alone for the Half-Time event cost 100 million dollars.
None of these statistics touch on what interior states of mind and heart motivate such massive enthusiasm and passion for this event. We leave that up to the self-examination of those who participate. There of course can be nothing spiritually elevating in it. It was the Roman poet Juvenal who said that, in the age of the decline of Roman civilization, the people were kept from revolution by providing them with “bread and circuses”. The word “circus” is defined as a “large, oblong, unroofed enclosure used for performances and contests”.
What we do know with a certain amount of accuracy is that 815 million people in the world will go to bed hungry that same Sunday night, and that the next morning 66 million primary school-age children will attend classes hungry in the so-called “developing world”. It is estimated by the WFP (World Food Program) that it would take 3.2 billion dollars per year to insure that these children were fed. This tallies out to the fact that what is spent by consumers on just one Super Bowl would eliminate hunger for all of these 66 million children for slightly less than 5 years.
We also know from statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that, worldwide, 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source, and that 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, and that because of these privations, 801,000 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea each year. Meanwhile, according to Nielsen statistics, Americans spent 1.3 billion dollars on beer and cider, 979 million on soft drinks, and 597 million on wine for consumption during the 2018 Super Bowl.
St. Paul writes, “For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die”. (Romans 8: 13). The Super Bowl, while indeed seeming to represent that event which constitutes the most massive and communal descent of Americans into the world of the flesh, is of course only one example of our profound abandonment of that poverty of spirit (and of the flesh) which is the First of the Beatitudes, and the foundation of all spiritual life. This abandonment of the Christian spirit of poverty exists everywhere in developed countries, and in all the various facets of our lives – in economics, in our massive and suffocating system of usury, in all the various forms of money speculation (including the stock market), in the way we recreate and entertain ourselves, in every sector of advertizing, selling, buying, and consumption, and even in such sacramental occasions such as marriages and funerals. We are as immersed in this anti-Christian spirit as fish are in water.
The Gospel demands simplicity both in regard to our living in this world, and simplicity of intention towards God: “If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome.” (Mt. 6: 22). The Christian interior life can only exist where there is exterior mortification. It may indeed be difficult for any of us to see how we can possibly reverse our present immersion in this world “which is an enemy of God”. However, if we do not set our foot on the path of return it is impossible to believe that God will honor our prayers for purification of the Church, no matter how many Masses we offer, Rosaries we pray, or hours we spend in Adoration Chapels.
We therefore propose as a beginning, that all faithful Catholics absolutely resolve not to participate in any way in the upcoming Super Bowl. We cannot expect Our Lord to answer our prayers as long as we continue to participate in such a thing.
We ask that all Catholics participate in, and promote, the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church on the Feast of the Purification and Presentation, February 2, 2019. We are also asking that people copy off the one-page Handout promoting this event, which is available here: http://rosarytotheinterior.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Handout.pdf, and distribute these at every Catholic venue conceivable – parish churches, Rosary Marches, Catholic Conferences, etc.
In addition, we ask that each person consider the following:
Lord, What Wilt Thou Have Me to Do?
After Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven, and during the nine days preceding the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Mary and the Apostles and other faithful gathered in the Cenacle in prayer. The following is taken from Mary of Agreda concerning this “Novena”:
“They were so unanimous and united in charity, that during all these days none of them had any thought, affection or inclination contrary to those of the rest. They were of one heart and soul in thought and action…into this holy congregation no discord found entrance, because they were united in prayer, in fasting and in the expectation of the Holy Ghost, who does not seek repose in discordant and unyielding hearts. In order that it may be inferred, how powerful was this union in charity, not only for disposing them toward the reception of the Holy Ghost, but for overcoming and dispersing the evil spirits, I will say: that the demons, who since the death of the Savior had lain prostrate in hell, felt in themselves a new kind of oppression and terror, resulting from the virtues of those assembled in the Cenacle. Although they could not explain it to themselves, they perceived a new terrifying force, emanating from that place, and when they perceived the effects of the doctrine and example of Christ in the behavior of the disciples, they feared the ruin of their dominion.”
Through the grace of God we may also become vessels of this “terrifying force” which is capable of driving the demons from ourselves, and out of the Church. But we must begin with ourselves: “Wherefore, Go out from them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” (2 Cor. 6: 17).
It is in such a spirit that we need to prepare for the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church. Providentially, nine days before this event, on January 25, occurs the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. While bathed in the light of Christ, and lying on the ground in confusion and humility, Paul raised his eyes heart to Christ, and said, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9: 6).
In a world now arrayed against us, and in the midst also of our own personal infidelities, we therefore ask that, in preparation for the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church, all of us pray a Novena of Rosaries beginning on January 25 with this simple prayer as our intention: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
We are convinced that Our Lord does not now expect perfection in order to bless this prayer, and begin the process of our purification. He simply wants us to be honest, and to begin.