The Third Glorious Mystery:
The Descent of the Holy Ghost
“Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the spirit that is of God. (1Cor. 2:12)
In the midst of the present crisis, possibly no question now presents itself with greater urgency to the minds and hearts of those who consider themselves faithful Catholics than the following:
“What has happened to the Holy Spirit and His promised protection of the Church, and His strengthening, sanctification, and confirming it in Truth and Holiness?”
The past 121 years have seen two Papal encyclicals devoted to the Holy Spirit: Pope Leo XIII’s Divinum Illud (1897), and John Paul II’s Dominum Vivicantem (On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World – 1986). Both are replete with detailed examination of the extent to which the work of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity is “appropriated” to all that can be seen as God’s gifts to man. He is the Creator Blessed, the Sanctifier, the Soul’s Delightful Guest, the Comforter, the Spirit of Charity, the source of Heavenly Water, the source of all Spiritual Unction, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of all the Seven Gifts enumerated by the Prophet Isaiah which are especially poured out in the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Spirit of Fire, the Spirit of the adoption of the children of God.
It is the Holy Spirit by Whom Our Lord Jesus Christ was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and, in the words of Pope Leo XIII: “By the operation of the Holy Spirit was not only the conception of Christ accomplished, but also the sanctification of His soul, which, in Holy Scripture is called His anointing. Wherefore all His actions were performed in the Holy Ghost, and especially the sacrifice of Himself: Christ, through the Holy Ghost, offered Himself without spot to God (Heb. 9: 14).” This also means that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the action of Jesus Christ through His priest, is also accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pope John Paul II wrote: “In every celebration of the Eucharist His coming, His salvific presence, is sacramentally realized: in the Sacrifice and in Communion. It is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit, as part of His own mission.” (62).
It should be no matter of wonder, therefore, that the Holy Spirit is considered to be the very Soul of the Church. Pope Leo XIII, in consideration of the birth of the Church on the day of Pentecost, proclaimed “As Christ is the Head of the Church, so is the Holy Ghost her soul.” He quotes St. Augustine: “What the soul is in our body, that is the Holy Ghost in Christ’s body, the Church.”And he continues: “This being so, no further and fuller ‘manifestation and revelation of the divine Spirit’ may be imagined or expected; for that which now takes place in the Church is the most perfect possible, and will last until that day when the Church herself, having passed through her militant career, shall be taken up into the joy of the saints triumphing in heaven.”
It is also not surprising that, as a consequence of this overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit within the Church and the individual souls of the faithful, Popes such as Leo XIII and John Paul II should be effusive in regard to their evaluation of the effects of this presence of the Holy Spirit within the individual souls of Catholics. Thus, Pius Leo XIII:
“The manner and extent of the action of the Holy Ghost in individual souls is no less wonderful, although somewhat more difficult to understand, inasmuch as it is entirely invisible. This outpouring of the Spirit is so abundant, that Christ Himself, from whose gift it proceeds, compares it to an overflowing river, according to those words of St. John: ‘He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture saith, out of his midst shall flow rivers of living water’; to which testimony the Evangelist adds the explanation: Now this He said of the Spirit which they should receive who believed in Him (Jn. 7: 38-39).”
When we study the Book of Acts and the very early history of the Church, we see these “rivers of living water”, which are the life of the Holy Spirit, profoundly active and fruitful. The disciples issued forth from the cenacle at Pentecost with great power in the Holy Spirit, and converted three thousand souls. Then Peter and John went up to the Temple at the ninth hour of prayer and converted 5,000 more. The Book of Acts tells us that that the people “brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that when Peter came, his shadow at the least, might overshadow any of them, and they might be delivered from their infirmities. And there came also together to Jerusalem a multitude out of the neighbouring cities, bringing sick persons, and such as were troubled with unclean spirits; who were all healed.” (Acts 5: 15-16).
But most important, as witnessing to what was the source of this great power and grace of the Holy Spirit of these earliest of Christians, is the description which the Book of Acts gives of their daily lives:
“And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul, many wonders and signs were done by the apostles in Jerusalem, and there was great fear in all. And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common. Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one 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: 42-47).
What an extraordinary contrast and sign of contradiction the lives of these people provided in contrast to the world around them. They were truly contra mundum (against the world). Instead of accumulating, they sold their possession and gave the proceeds to the Church for distribution to the poor. They lived in great simplicity with their daily lives centered around the Eucharist. They surrendered completely to God’s revealed truth. And in all of this they possessed a unity of mind and heart almost unimaginable to us today.
While gazing into this mirror in which is reflected this marvelous fruitfulness of the work of the Holy Spirit in the early Church, we now need to look at ourselves and our Church. We shall begin with excerpts from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on the Holy Spirit, who truly believed that the fruits of the Second Vatican Council would be a “New Springtime” for the Church:
“As the Council writes, ‘the Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). In them he prays and bears witness to the fact that they are adopted sons (cf. Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15-16:26). The Spirit guides the Church into the fullness of truth (cf. Jn 16:13) and gives her a unity of fellowship and service. He furnishes and directs her with various gifts, both hierarchical and charismatic, and adorns her with the fruits of his grace (cf Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:4; Gal. 5:22). By the power of the Gospel he makes the Church grow, perpetually renews her and leads her to perfect union with her Spouse’(#25).”
“For we know that it [Vatican Council II] was in a special way an ‘ecclesiological’ Council: a Council on the theme of the Church. At the same time, the teaching of this Council is essentially ‘pneumatological’: it is permeated by the truth about the Holy Spirit, as the soul of the Church. We can say that in its rich variety of teaching the Second Vatican Council contains precisely all that ‘the Spirit says to the Churches’ with regard to the present phase of the history of salvation…. In a certain sense, the Council has made the Spirit newly ‘present’ in our difficult age. In the light of this conviction one grasps more clearly the great importance of all the initiatives aimed at implementing the Second Vatican Council, its teaching and its pastoral and ecumenical thrust…. This work being done by the Church for the testing and bringing together of the salvific fruits of the Spirit bestowed in the Council is something indispensable. For this purpose one must learn how to ‘discern’ them carefully from everything that may instead come originally from the ‘prince of this world.’ This discernment in implementing the Council’s work is especially necessary in view of the fact that the Council opened itself widely to the contemporary world, as is clearly seen from the important Conciliar Constitutions Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium.”(#26).”
That the Second Vatican Council “opened itself widely to the contemporary world” cannot be questioned. That the World, the Flesh, and the Devil have taken tremendous advantage of this “opening”, and are now ravaging the Church, should also now be obvious to everyone. In light of the current state of the Church, John Paul II’s proposition that “the Council has made the Spirit newly ‘present’ in our difficult age” would seem to be the cruelest of delusions.
We are therefore left with the following question. If the Holy Spirit is truly present to the Church as “rivers of flowing water”, then what has happened within the hearts and minds of the faithful, both hierarchy and laity, which is preventing these graces from bearing fruit?
In several articles we have explored the descent of the Church into the world of the flesh over recent decades. In our article on the First Sorrowful Mystery, for instance, we offered statistics which indicate the extent to which such descent into the world of the flesh has led over 80 % of Catholics to denial of at least one of the Church’s moral doctrines on such things as abortion, contraception, divorce and re-marriage, and homosexuality, and which has almost certainly culminated in the fact that the vast majority of communicants receive Our Lord in objective sacrilege. And in several articles, we have explored the primary causative factor in this descent: the abandonment of the Christian life of simplicity and poverty towards all the things in this world, which according to the Gospel is the foundation of all growth in the spiritual life. As Our Lord declares, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mt. 6:24).
However, the road between the human mind and the flesh is a two-way street. Just as immersion in the world of the flesh can rise up to poison the mind, and therefore also our faith, so also can errors of the mind, and therefore also errors of our faith, cause us to plummet into the world of the flesh. Above all is this true in regard to the Church’s infallible teaching on the Eucharist. Vatican II’s Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests (#5) states:
“But the other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate are bound up with the Eucharist and are directed towards it. For in the most blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch and the living bread which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit.”
If our faith in regard to the Eucharist becomes poisoned, then everything else in the Church – all the other sacraments and all the ministries and works of the apostolate – enter upon a path of falsification, perversion, and eventual death. Polls indicate that large numbers of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist (without even considering whether or not they believe in the infallibly defined doctrine of Transubstantiation). Our Lord asked His disciples the following question: “But yet the Son of man, when He cometh, shall He find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18: 8). This should now present itself to us as a question to be taken very seriously. 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.” (1 Cor. 11: 27-29).
If we therefore truly seek to understand why the Holy Spirit seems to lie hidden and inoperative in the Church, we would do well to ask what has happened to Catholic faith in the Eucharist. And in so doing, we may well uncover the roots of that loss of simplicity, poverty, unity, Fear of the Lord, and deep devotion to all the revealed truths of our Faith which was the source of that unity possessed by the early Christians, and from which proceeded that power in the Holy Spirit which accomplished the conversion of nations.
And the Light that is in Man
In what is often called the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John, we read, “In Him [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of man.” This entails that there is a certain structure to the consciousness of man which should naturally “leap” in response to supernatural truths when they are revealed to him. A remarkable explanation of this relationship between the Truths of God’s Revelation and the human mind is available to us in the writings of Cardinal Henry Edward Manning. His work, The Glories of the Sacred Heart, contains a chapter titled “Dogma the Source of Devotion.” After quoting Our Lord’s words, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” Cardinal Manning offers the following analysis (selected quotes):
“Now, first of all, let us see what is dogma….It means the precise enunciation of a divine truth, of a divine fact, or of a divine reality fully known, so far as it is the will of God to reveal it, adequately defined in words chosen and sanctioned by a divine authority.”
“Every divine truth or reality, so far as God has been pleased to reveal it to us, casts its perfect outline and image upon the human intelligence. His own mind, in which dwells all truth in all fullness and in all perfection, so far as He has revealed of His truth, is cast upon the surface of our mind, in the same way as the sun casts its own image upon the surface of the water, and the disc of the sun is perfectly reflected from its surface.”
“If when a divine truth is declared to us, our hearts do not turn to it, as the eye turns to the light; if there be not in us an instinctive yearning, which makes us promptly turn to the sound of the divine voice, the fault is in our hearts; for just in proportion as we know the truth we shall be drawn towards it.”
Finally, we cannot resist offering one more marvelous passage taken from Manning’s work, The Four Great Evils of Our Day:
“God, who is the perfect and infinite intelligence – that is, the infinite and perfect reason – created man to His own likeness, and gave him a reasonable intelligence, like His own. As the face in the mirror answers to the face of the beholder, so the intelligence of man answers to the intelligence of God. It is His own likeness.”
None of this of course means that man is born with explicit natural knowledge of God and His Truths. What it does mean is that man is born with an intellectual light within him which is structured in such a way that each moment of his conscious existence encounters realities which point beyond the finite to the Infinite and make it natural for his intelligence to answer to the intelligence of God. For this reason, St. Thomas could write, “Man naturally knows God in all that he knows.”
Loss of faith in the Eucharist is therefore indicative of a more universal poisoning of the human intellect and its God-given capacity to see the necessary existence of a supernatural world, and to respond to the work of the Holy Spirit in the human soul. And just as the Holy Spirit is the “source of Heavenly Water”, and the supernatural grace which reveals the Mysteries of God, so there now exists a Satanic fountain in this world from which flows a river of darkness which is profoundly obscuring and blocking this work of the Holy Spirit in the souls of modern men, and poisoning their natural disposition for receiving the light of supernatural truth into their minds and hearts.
The source of this evil is reductive science. It is such reductive science which is the primary tool of Satan in his war to destroy the God-created light of human intelligence.
Original and Final Sin
In considering what might be called the “collective thinking” of the entire Western world (and beyond), there is no position one can take which elicits more universal disdain than that of being “anti-science.” It immediately calls forth stereotyped images of backwardness, anti-progress, rigidity, and just plain stupidity.
Integral to this world-view is the belief that there is a world of “Science” containing all knowledge of the depths of the physical world, that the human mind has the potential to fully encompass this knowledge, and that it is only in the use of this knowledge that man sins.
It will be our contention here, however, that the scientific weltanschauung (worldview) is integrally constituted by a dominant hubris (pride), which has profoundly altered human consciousness, and constitutes a war against both God and man.
We will explore this subject from three perspectives: 1) in the light of what Scripture has to say in regard to the nature of God’s creation, and the inevitable consequences of man’s attempts to penetrate the nature of God’s “works”; 2) the consequences of original sin upon man’s intellect and will; 3) the overwhelming existential and historical facts concerning the immensely destructive fruits of the scientific enterprise itself.
Before proceeding with this analysis, however, we wish to acknowledge that we may have already alienated some readers. Let us begin, therefore, by offering some very down-to-earth statistics in order to convince the reader of the possibility that there may indeed be a raging fire from which precedes the following smoke.
In the United States, the members of the National Academy of Sciences represent the elite of those on the cutting edge of their corresponding scientific disciplines. Membership is by election only (no applications please), and such membership is considered one of “the highest honors that a scientist can receive.” The total membership is approximately 2,200, with 400 foreign associates. Approximately 200 have received Nobel Prizes.
In the 23 July, 1998 issue of Nature, authors Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham presented the results of a survey of NAS scientists in an article titled Leading Scientists Still Reject God. Their questionnaire duplicated that used by researcher James H. Leuba in his surveys of “leading scientists” in the years 1914 and 1933. The results show in fact that the title of the Nature article understates the significance of their findings – leading scientists do not merely still reject God, but increasingly reject God in what appears to be geometric proportions.
In 1914, “leading scientists” responded with statistics showing that 27.7% believed in a Personal God (“a God in intellectual and affective communication with humankind”). In 1933, this percentage was down to 15%. And, in Larson and Witham’s 1998 study, this belief in a personal God had reached a low of 7.0% (approximately one-fourth of the number found in 1914).
In the words of Larson and Watham, “Disbelief in God [not only a Personal God, but God in any form] and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers.” The first sentence of this quote adds another dimension. Obviously, the closer one gets to being the type of scientist (especially physicists) whose pretention is to penetrate to the absolute foundations of physical reality, the less likelihood there is of a belief in God.
We can contrast the above statistics with a Pew Forum survey in 2007 which found 78.4% of Americans professing to be Christians, 4.7% “Other Religions”, and 5.8% identifying themselves as “Unaffiliated Believers” – a total of 88.9% who believe in God.
The contrast revealed here is absolutely stark. Unquestioningly, these statistics (even if we are somewhat skeptical about such polls) reveal that there is something within the scientific enterprise itself which is destructive of faith in God. As we shall see, its destructiveness extends equally to human life and dignity.
We begin with the first perspective mentioned above: the inevitable consequences, from a Biblical perspective, of the scientific enterprise itself.
It is a kind of dogma of modern life that man has the inalienable right, and even responsibility, to the pursuit of unending growth in all the spheres of his secular activity: economic, political (New World Order), scientific knowledge, technological development, etc. Such “unending quest for knowledge and growth” would almost seem to constitute modern man’s definition of his most fundamental dignity. This is fully in accord with the dominant forms of modern philosophy which define him in terms of evolutionary becoming rather than created being.
Such is not the Biblical view, which rather sees such pursuits as wreaking disaster to both individual and society, and to man’s relationship to the Truth of God. The Biblical perspective begins with Original Sin which, according to St. Thomas, was constituted as an intellectual pride by which Adam and Eve sought an intellectual excellence of knowledge independently of God. In the situation of Original Sin, this is described in terms of “knowledge of good and evil.” It is obvious in the light of further Old Testament scriptures, however, that this disorder also extends to the “seeking after an excellence” which would presume to penetrate to the depth of the nature of created things. Thus, we have the following scriptures:
“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.” (Ecclesiasticus 28:5-6).
“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.” (Ecclesiastes 8:17).
“For the works of the Highest only are wonderful, and his works are glorious, secret, and hidden.” (Ecclesiasticus 11:4).
“For great is the power of God alone, and he is honoured by the humble. Seek not the things that are too high for thee, and search not into things above thy ability: but the things that God hath commanded thee, think on them always, and in many of his works be not curious. For it is not necessary for thee to see with thy eyes those things that are hid. In unnecessary matters be not over curious, and in many of his works thou shalt not be inquisitive. For many things are shewn to thee above the understanding of men. And the suspicion of them hath deceived man, and hath detained their minds in vanity.” (Ecclesiasticus 3:21-26).
These scripture passages proscribe any effort by man which attempts to penetrate (or even be inquisitive and curious about) the hidden depths of God’s “works.” It is evident that in these scriptures the word “works” refers to the physical world itself – to all those “works of God that are done under the sun.” There is no allegorical interpretation possible here. We are simply faced with a choice between considering these teachings as divinely revealed truth, or merely the product of primitive and ignorant Old Testament human minds.
The last sentence in the final quote offered above is possibly the most revealing. It speaks both of the disordered motivation (“suspicion”) for such a quest, and it also pegs its consequent fruit (vanity).
The “suspicion” which scripture designates as the source for this “seeking” to understand the depths of God’s works must relate not only to God’s works themselves (their substantial reality, and man’s ability to objectively know them with his ordinary perception), but to the trustworthiness of God Himself as revealed through the substantial reality of His creation. In 1996, a book was published titled The End of Science, written by John Horgan, former senior science writer for Scientific American magazine. In this work, Mr. Horgan interviews over 40 of the top scientists in the world (many of them physicists, and Nobel Prize winners) on the subject of “the end of science,” the ultimate meaning of reality, and whether science can ever hope to penetrate to the depths of reality. What is revealed through these interviews is that none of these men is, in even the remotest fashion, a Christian or a believer in a Personal God. Possibly even more revealing is that they have no epistemology whatsoever. In other words, none have the slightest notion of how it is even remotely possible to equate the findings of their “science” with reality as we perceive it. As the first scriptural passage quoted above states; “When a man hath done, then shall he begin: And when he leaveth off, he shall be at a loss.”
None of these scientists, for instance, have any idea as to how to connect the “scientific” understanding of water – of two atoms of Hydrogen compounded with one of Oxygen, constituted by electrons spinning at comparatively enormous distances around nuclei, with the whole thing being comprised of 99.999999999 % void – to the marvelous substance we know as water. They are, in other worlds, and in the most profound sense, “lost” in a world of suspicion in regard to the substantial reality of God’s creation, and therefore also of God Himself. This is why we often see such scientists flirting with Eastern forms of religion which deny the reality of our perceived world.
Further, the fruit of this “suspicion” is described by the scripture as “detainment” in “vanity.” Vanity is, of course, the same as St. Thomas’ “vainglory.” It is an inordinate desire to manifest one’s own excellence, very similar to that original sin of intellectual pride by which Adam and Eve sought an excellence above their nature, with the only significance difference here being its communitarian nature. The scientist becomes, in other words, a kind of Magi, guardian of an esoteric knowledge obtainable only to the elite, and before whom the multitudes must bow in reverence. The scientist, in other words, becomes the ultimate Gnostic Wise Man. In regard to almost any subject under the sun in our modern world, all that is necessary is for some prominent form of the media to declare “Science says”, and the average person is cowed into acceptance.
The Old Testament proscriptions against such Gnostic-inspired “scientific” pursuits come to fruition in the Beatitudes of the Gospel. The Beatitudes demand a simplicity of life, founded upon humility and poverty of spirit, in the exercise of all of man’s faculties in regard to all the things of this world. It demands, “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God….” It demands that we “lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven”, and insists on the truth that “where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” These demands upon us in the ways we live our lives are absolutely necessary in order that the light of our intelligence may be able to rightly perceive both natural and supernatural realities:
“For the light of thy body is thy eye, And if thy eye be single, they whole body shall be lightsome. But if thy eye be evil [double-minded] 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.” (Matthew 6).
There is no way in which we can imagine the living of the simplicity and poverty of spirit demanded by the Beatitudes as being in any way compatible with the development of the modern affluence and complexity of the scientific, technological, consumeristic, economic, and political cultures in which we now are immersed and spiritually poisoned.
But it is especially upon the healthy life of our minds that the effective work of the Holy Spirit depends. It is here where science has accomplished its greatest work of destruction. Just as the entire life of the early Christians was centered upon belief, without duplicity, in Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, and received from this source all of its profound vitality in the Holy Spirit, so the reason for the equally profound decay in regard to the ability of the modern Catholic to live his life in the fecundity and power of the Holy Spirit is largely due either to a complete loss of this belief, or to its dilution in minds and hearts living in duplicity with the corrosive poison of a reductive scientific worldview. And all of this betrayal centers upon the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is here where we encounter the absolute enmity between the Catholic Faith and reductive science. And it is in understanding the nature and depths of this this enmity that our minds may be cleared of the intellectual poison of modernity,
And the Roots of Catholic Fidelity
What follows will definitely take some intellectual labor on the part of the reader in regard to their faith. It is not a fashionable thing to do in our modern world. We have largely been cowed into the attitude that we are to discipline ourselves with much demanding mental work if we are to become a scientist, a doctor, an engineer, a mechanic, or electrician, but that the world of our Catholic Faith is a world of belief and devotion which does not require this kind of effort. Such sloth in the intellectual realm may be seen as foundational in Satan’s success of “ruining” countless numbers of souls through that “operation of error” which leads to the rise of the Antichrist:
“Whose [Antichrist’s] coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders. And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore, God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying….Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle” (2Thess 2:9-14).
This “operation of error” which causes men to reject the traditions and truths which they have received from God, and “to believe lying”, is also called by St. Paul “the mystery of iniquity” which “already worketh” (2Thess 2:7).” It becomes so intense towards the end of time that Our Lord says that it will have the effect “to deceive (if possible) even the elect (Mt 24:24)”. Our Lord, in fact, poses the question, “But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth (Luke 18:8)?”
We therefore ask the reader to persist (and hopefully read more than once) all that follows.
In its infallible definition of the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, The Council of Trent declares:
“If anyone saith that, in the sacred and holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of
the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood – the species only of the bread and wine remaining – which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation; let him be anathema.”
In order to understand what a contradiction this doctrine represents to reductive science, it is worthwhile to consult the enemy himself. The war between scientific reductionism (atomism) and Thomistic metaphysics always comes down to the Catholic dogma of Transubstantiation. This is something little understood by Catholics, but fully comprehended by many of their enemies. Dr. Bernard Pullman, late Professor of Quantum Chemistry at the Sorbonne, wrote the following in his 1998 book The History of the Atom in Human Thought:
“There remains a very specific and quite important disagreement – the most important one in the view of many – dividing Christians and the atomists. It centers on the problem of the Eucharist….As we have seen, the only reality is this theory [Atomic theory, which is the foundation of all modern science] is atoms (and void), and the perception of sense qualities derives solely from the movements of particles, which bring them in contact with our sensory organs and stimulate them. Sense qualities have no independent existence per se. When a substance (bread or wine) disappears, all that is left of these qualities are names. Borrowing the language of Democritus, we might say that they exist only ‘by convention.’ Under these conditions, while sensory effects are produced by atoms, the persistence of these effects in the consecrated wafer implies, of necessity, the persistence of the atoms of the bread. The substance remains, therefore, bread, squarely in contradiction with Church dogma.” (p. 93-95).
The almost universal rejection of Catholicism by “eminent” scientists is therefore not the product of some sort of undefined indifferentism, but rather a very specific necessity of their “science,” which requires rejection of the intellectual contents of Catholic Dogma. And, of course, this rejection is not restricted to the Dogma of Transubstantiation. The Theory of Evolution, for instance, leaves no room for such doctrines as those which posit an original state of Justification for Adam and Eve, the fall of that “Nature” through Original Sin, restoration through Sanctifying Grace, and all the rest of Catholic doctrine which so profoundly relies on the concepts of substantial being and nature, as being distinct from accidental being.
For now, however, we shall focus on the absolute opposition which exists between the theory of reductive “Atomism” and the Catholic Dogma of Transubstantiation. We need point out from the beginning of our discussion concerning this subject that it makes little difference whether one makes the ultimate constituents of all physical things to be atoms, sub-atomic particles, quanta, superstrings, or whatever. In all of these instances, we are dealing with a theory which reduces physical realities to quantification or measurement (at least theoretically). In other words, we face a worldview which reduces everything which exists and happens in this world to a causation which is this world itself. It is a world that is totally self-enclosed, self-caused, and self-explainable. This is diametrically opposed to the Catholic worldview, which sees God not only as having created everything from nothing, but which sees everything in this world as being sustained every moment of its existence by this same creative power of God
We also realize that we have already used two “metaphysical” terms in the definition of the Council of Trent which might pose a threat for some readers: “substance” and “species” (or, as they are more commonly called: “accidents” – which is the term we will employ for the rest of this article). This need not be so, since these terms are simply time-honored terms of genuine Catholic philosophy which, as we intend to show, embody very common-sense concepts of our understanding of reality And what is equally important, since these terms are used in this Dogma in such a way as to apply to how bread and wine are composed as physical substances, what these terms signify must also apply to all physical things in their physical constitution. It is here, in its understanding of all physical reality, and in its understanding of the nature of every physical thing created by God from nothing (the Catholic Dogma Creation Ex Nihilo), where the Catholic Faith stands opposed to the whole world. And it is here where, as we shall see, the vast majority of Catholic minds and hearts (as well as the minds and hearts of virtually everyone else in the civilized world) have been invaded by a poison which is always in the process of eating away at the substantial foundations of their faith.
The word “metaphysics” is the third term which might be intimidating. Most people probably tend to go “blank” when this term is mentioned, and view it as a sort of undefined realm where philosophers deposit things they do not understand. They would certainly believe that it has little or nothing to do with the real physical world. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Metaphysics is the most rigorous of sciences. It deals with the foundations of the substantial reality of all the real world around us.
Metaphysics is defined as the “science of being, considered simply as being”. The word itself is a composition derived from two Greek roots: meta, meaning “beyond” or “after”; and physika, meaning “physical.” But its actual meaning is derived from Aristotle’s philosophical works. After treating of “Physics” – the analyzable and quantifiable aspects of physical things – Aristotle went on to treat of the deeper realities of things (including physical things) which take us beyond quantification and measurement, and therefore beyond all the various analytical empirical sciences. The word “metaphysics” literally means, therefore, “beyond physics.” However, we must be very clear from the beginning of our inquiry that this does not at all mean that metaphysics deals exclusively with things that are beyond the “physical.” In fact we shall begin by stating this primary principle: From the standpoint of the philosopher, if one does not understand the metaphysical being of created things, one is incapable of understanding the substantial nature of any created substance whatsoever. We have already seen this to be true in our examination of John Horgan’s book, The End of Science.
The first thing we need to know about metaphysics, therefore, is that the word itself is dedicated to a science which establishes the truth that no physical substance is reducible to analysis by any physical science. In other words, there is something “beyond” analytical physics, chemistry, etc. in the very composition of every physical substance itself.
Such a notion should be immediately thrilling to any Catholic, and provide a very strong incentive to look into this subject further. The very idea that there is something “transcendent” (in the sense of “transcending” physical analysis and quantification) as the defining essence of every created substance shatters all scientific reductionism and opens up our entire world to the presence of the supernatural. It restores divine poetry (and every other true form of beauty and goodness) to the world. Metaphysics is, in other words, the gateway to the supernatural. It is the gateway to the good, the beautiful, and the true. I therefore ask some patience from the reader while we explore the various steps in this metaphysical journey.
Finally, it might well be a temptation for the reader to pose the question: “Why should we need all this ‘metaphysics stuff’?” After all, for the first 1,200 years of Christianity, the Catholic world did just fine without Thomistic metaphysics. Peter and Paul and the rest of the apostles converted whole nations without it, and we have already admitted that work of the Holy Spirit was much more effective through them than it is now.
In answer to this objection, we only need to point out that the minds and hearts of the people during these centuries had not been assaulted by the reductive scientific thinking with which our modern minds and hearts are poisoned. The world was not a closed-in, materialistic, scientifically explainable, self-caused place. It was full of mystery. This is precisely why paganism was rampant. The very trees, mountains, rivers, and animals, for these people, were inhabited by other-worldly spirits. They were contaminated with superstition and sometimes immense evil, but their minds were open to the supernatural. At the very least, they possessed enough sense of reality to know that their idols could not lie in the reductive constructs of their own materialistic minds.
It is to Thomistic metaphysics that we must turn in order to free us from both the materialism of modern reductive science, and the Paganism which has now re-emerged with vengeance as a reaction to the suffocating spiritual vacuum which has been the over-riding fruit of the scientific enterprise.
And the Restoration of the Supernatural
It has often been said that the Church embraces no particular philosophy as her own. This is absolutely false. Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical on St. Thomas titled Studiorum Ducem, wrote:
“We so heartily approve the magnificent tribute of praise bestowed upon this most divine genius that We consider that Thomas should be called not only the Angelic, but also the Common or Universal Doctor of the Church; for the Church has adopted his philosophy for her own.
And Pope St. Pius X, in his encyclical on the Angelic Doctor, wrote:
“We therefore desired that all teachers of philosophy and sacred theology should be warned that if they deviate so much as a step, in metaphysics especially, from Aquinas, they exposed themselves to grave risk.” (Pius X, Doctoris Angelici).
The Council of Trent’s definition of the doctrine of Transubstantiation is taken almost verbatim from Thomas’ writing on this subject (ST. III, Q. 75, A.4). In his encyclical Aeterni Patris (On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy, 1879), Pope Leo XIII wrote the following:
“The ecumenical councils, also, where blossoms the flower of all earthly wisdom, have always been careful to hold Thomas Aquinas in singular honor. In the Councils of Lyons , Vienna [1311-1313], Florence , and the Vatican [1869-1870] one might almost say that Thomas took part and presided over the deliberations and decrees of the Fathers, contending against the errors of the Greeks, of heretics and rationalists, with invincible force and with the happiest results. But the chief and special glory of Thomas, one which he has shared with none of the Catholic Doctors, is that the Fathers of Trent [1545-1563] made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration.” (22).
There is therefore no question but that the metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas is absolutely integral to the Church’s Dogma of Transubstantiation.
As we have seen, it is this doctrine which is the great sign of contradiction to modern science and scientists. And it is the metaphysical distinction between “substance” and “accidents” (or “species”) which is at the heart of this conflict.
Both Aristotle and St. Thomas establish that there exist ten fundamental categories of being: one category of substantial being, and nine categories of accidental being..
Substance is a reality which is “suited to exist as itself, and not as the mark, determinant, or characteristic of some other thing.” We can immediately perceive that there is only one category of substance since all those things which we consider as substance fit under this definition.
Accidents, on the other hand, are realities “which are not suited to exist as themselves, but exist as the mark, determinant, modification, or characteristic of some other thing, and ultimately of a substance.” There are nine categories of accidents: quantity, quality, relation, action, passion, place, time, posture, habit. We can now see why we must be very careful to distinguish scholastic usage of the word “accidents” from its modern English connotations. Accidents are real being, and are not something to be considered “accidental”, unimportant, or non-essential to our understanding of created things. Accidents are said to inhere in substance. Substance is said to “stand under” the accidents of which it is the subject.
If this seems to be getting too complicated, then we should realize that what Aristotle and St. Thomas have put into philosophical terminology is simply common sense. We know that somehow the mature tree possesses identity with the seed or seedling, despite the fact that there have been innumerable “accidental” but very real changes in its being. The only way of explaining this “substantial” identity in the midst of all this change is to philosophically and scientifically posit this distinction between substantial and accidental being. Without this distinction the whole concept of substantial reality is lost, not only to science, but also to simple human experience and values. All notion of substantial reality becomes lost in the ever present reality of change.
At the same time, this real distinction between accidental and substantial being is equally important for us to explain change in the midst of permanence. This is a philosophical problem which paralyzed much of Greek Philosophical thinking up to Aristotle. Such philosophers as Xenophanes, Parmenides, and Zeno taught that all change was an illusion (only immutable Being was real – shades of philosophical Hinduism)), while the philosopher Heraclitus taught the equally absurd doctrine that only change was real – there is no stability or substantiality to anything.
This problem with explaining the relationship between substantial permanence and real change does not, however, reach to the depths of the folly of pre-Aristotelian Greek philosophy. What this philosophy effected was a profound intellectual and spiritual disorder within the soul of Western man, a disorder which has plagued Christianity throughout its 2,000 year history, and which can now be seen to be very much a cause and precursor of modern reductive science. Therefore, it will be much to our advantage to spend some time in examination of this disorder in order to facilitate understanding of its Thomistic remedy.
The Greek Perversion
It is part of the intellectual accoutrement of every American school boy and girl that much of what constitutes the modern values which we hold most dear – freedom, democracy, the primacy of respect due to the individual rather than the collective, and the real beginnings of what we recognize as rational thought and philosophy – began with the Greeks. Somehow, according to this popular perspective, it all boils down to the idea that what we owe to the Greeks is some deep internal change within the mind and heart of man by which science began its long march of triumph over superstition.
All serious historians of science and its affects upon modern thought conclude that it all began with the “Greek miracle” over 2500 years ago, specifically with the philosopher Thales and the Milesian School . It is quite wrong to place these early Greek philosophers in a category which only perceives their errors and naivety. What began with them was something radically new and different. It consisted in a proposal to the human spirit that truth was to be found only in that which human reason could discover and confirm. Daniel-Rops put it this way:
“Athens and Jerusalem are the epitome of two contradictory attitudes of the spirit: one calls only on the intellect for an explanation of the world, of life, and of man, while the other relies exclusively on faith to reach the same ultimate goal. In the fifth century B.C., these two paths are pursued independently, totally oblivious to each other. They will eventually collide…; the ultimate showdown was to build up through a lengthy journey across history.”
All of this is true enough. Yet, this explanation does not truly penetrate to the real depths of what its admirers call the “Greek Miracle,” but which in fact is more appropriately called the “Greek Inversion” (which is at the same time a profound perversion).
Virtually all of the early Greek philosophers practiced one form or another of a very strange scientific reductionism. Imagine, for instance, gazing at two very different things standing next to one another – let us say, the extraordinary thing that is a fully flowering peach tree and a very large boulder – and concluding that the substantial natures of both of these things are reducible to water. You would then have the “science” of the Greek philosopher Thales. Or, picture a large substantial thing called an elephant, and imagine that its substance is entirely reducible to air, and you would have the science of Anaximenes. Finally, but certainly not exhausting the list, imagine that all things, including water and ice, are reducible to fire, and you have the Greek Perversion as practiced by Heraclitus.
Now, we should realize that something truly extraordinary and perverted has happened to the intellectual soul of man in order for him to do such a thing – something on the scale of that original perversion and inversion by which Adam and Eve attempted to become “like gods” in replacing God as the source of the knowledge of good and evil. The one thing which we should notice that all of these “sciences” have in common is their philosophical monism – the reduction of everything in the universe to a unity of one material substance. The interesting thing is that each of these gentlemen also considered their “One” divine. Heraclitus even identified his “fire” with “logos” – the divine principle of reason in the universe. It is no wonder, therefore, that modern scientists are in pursuit of finding what many call the “God-particle”. All of this would indeed seem to be the ultimate form of that idolatry described by St. Paul in Romans 1, in which man “changed the glory of the incorruptible God” into the likeness of created things. The significant difference, however, is that these new objects of man’s “glorification” are not the idols of birds, beasts, and snakes which we associate with the Old Testament concept of idolatry, but rather idols concocted of his own ideas, conceptualizations, and quantifications. Idolatry, in other words, has been fully internalized, and in this process the entire cosmos has been inverted.
The roots of this fundament inversion – this turning of everything upside down – lie in what might be called a fundamental “philosophical idolatry”: the identification of accidental reality with substance. This might at first be a little difficult to see. Water, for instance, is not an accident, but rather a real substance. But science (or the reductive philosophy that accompanies it) never knows water as water, just as it never knows man as man or atom as atom. If Thales had really known water as water he would never have tried to make it into a peach tree or a boulder. Science can only know the quantification (and the other 8 categories of accidental being) of a thing. Pythagoras, because of this inbuilt reality of the scientific method, even went so far as making “number” the substantial essence of all things. But in identifying the “scientific” analysis of accidents of things with their substantial nature – whether those accidents are of water, air, fire, number, or atoms – and in identifying the accidents of any one of these substances as the unitary substance behind all created reality, reality is perfectly inverted. Such “science” makes accidents into substance, and turns real substance into an accidental appearance for which we have no explanation except the subjectivity of our own minds. Thus we end up in that philosophical idealism which will plague Western man from Plato through all the nightmare of relatively modern Western Philosophy – from the Nominalism of Ockham to contemporary Phenomenalism.
This whole tradition of reductive analytical science can be viewed as sort of a “diabolical transubstantiation.” After engaging in such analysis, as we have noted, the products of accidental analysis remain as the real substance, and our normal perception of substantial reality is reduced to “appearances.” Analytical science then becomes the perfect Anagram of reality, in which the “word” or “logos” of God’s creation is perfectly inverted, turned upside down, and read backward. We may therefore see the “Greek Miracle” and scientific reductionism as germinating from the same force which draws a Man to say the Mass backward or invert a Crucifix.
In other words, what is effected by the Greek Perversion is not, as postulated by Daniel-Rops, merely a substitution of rational knowledge for faith. Rather, what occurs is the most profound perversion of the inner consciousness and intellect (and thus “rationality” itself) of man at a level which is bound eventually to destroy any possibility of faith in God. This, of course, is Satan’s Master Plan. He desires not only the destruction of myriads of individual souls, but also that final alteration of human consciousness which makes it impossible not only to believe in God, but even to desire Him.
In the ancient Greek world, this reductionism reached its pinnacle in the Atomism of Leucippus, Democritus and, most of all, Epicurus, who formulated a logical structure to the theory of Atomism which would remain practically unchanged for the next 2,000 years. With Atomism, philosophical Idealism is in a very real sense completed. Substance becomes totally invisible and unrelated to normal human perception, objective reality ceases to exist as something graspable by the human intellect, subjectivity and idealism triumph, and, matter replaces God as being eternal and infinite.
With some notable exceptions, Atomism was suppressed in the West by Christian realism and the power of the Church from the 1st century AD until the time of the Renaissance. Since the Renaissance consisted largely of the “reawakening” of Greek and Roman culture and thought, the reemergence of Atomism was bound to happen. It exploded upon the scene at the very beginning of the Renaissance in the person of William of Ockham. The great significance of Ockham is that his Atomism was united to his Nominalism, and thus constituted a specific attack upon the metaphysics of St. Thomas. From that point we can gaze upon an ever-increasing tide of Atomism engulfing the West – people like Bruno, Bacon, Galileo, Gassendi, Descartes, and onward through all the empiricists, phenomenologists, etc. We must also include Luther among the Nominalists – he was educated at the University of Erfurt, which was under the control of professors who were Nominalists. Luther himself detested Thomism and opted for the Nominalism of Ockham, which denied the minds ability to grasp universals and the substantial forms of real things.
The immediate victim of the Greek Inversion is the epistemological (epistemology is the branch of philosophy which deals with how we know things, and with the validity of our knowledge) health of man’s mind itself. To convince a man that what he ordinarily perceives as substantive is only subjective, and that what is truly substantive are the reductive formulations, particles, or waves of scientific analysis is to destroy the reliability and objectivity of all of man’s perception and knowledge. The ultimate victim, however, of this intellectual nightmare is faith and trust in God Himself. If God created man to see delusions, then the ultimate delusion must be the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Revelation.
What began as ambrosia for wooly-headed philosophers 2500 years ago is now the daily bread of our children. Every child in the public educational system of this country is taught a reductive scientism which produces in them a state of epistemological schizophrenia. And since one can only will on the basis of what one knows, this also results in increasingly widespread moral inversion and perversion.
If we wish to know why we have with us the wholesale destruction of what was once Christian civilization; if we wish to know why we now have the murders of millions of the unborn every year, wholesale pornography, child-abuse (and yes, priestly pedophilia), rampant homosexuality, children murdering their fellow students and teachers in school shootings, the drug problem, increased suicide rates, a vast loss of civil courtesy and honesty, the virtual total loss of all public morality, and an endless list of other evils, we need only to look at the common link that connects all these evils. Human beings and societies have simply lost that basic spirituality and rationality founded upon belief in the substantial reality of man’s natural perception, which in turn has profoundly undermined man’s ability to believe in any notion of objective, absolute Truth. Consequently, they have also lost the moral will capable of following through upon what the mind perceives to be absolutely true. This loss of mind and will is the absolutely logical fruit of a worldwide scientific “ambience” which reduces all of creation and all human beings and their activities to blind material forces. Nothing is absolute, nothing is substantial, and the human heart and mind react with confusion, despair, irrationality, perversion, and violence.
The Thomistic Remedy
The Greek perversion has as its root cause one fundamental metaphysical error: belief that the nature of substance is quantifiable by the human mind. It was the genius of Aristotle and St. Thomas to see that this is not the case. But such a conclusion should not have taken genius. It is really a matter of common sense. The notion, for instance, that the marvelous substance which we call water could in any way be equated with, or reduced to, a particular atomic structure is absolutely absurd. There is simply no reasonable way that the human mind can equate electrons, spinning at comparatively immense distances around protons and neutrons, with what it knows as the substance water.
But there remains one more level to be explored in our attempt to understand the metaphysical constitution of created, material substances. The proper distinction between substantial and accidental being, while freeing us from the absurdity of trying to equate substance with the end results of quantification or measurement, does not yet reveal to us what substance is in itself. It does not reach to the depths of the reality constituted by physical things. It therefore remains for us to look more deeply into the reality of substance itself.
The Thomistic-Aristotelian term which explains the nature of substance is hylemorphism, this word being composed of two Greek words (hyle and morphe), meaning matter and form respectively. In scholastic terminology, we would say that any physical substance is the union of primal matter with substantial form. The philosopher Paul Glenn offers an explanation of these two principles of any physical substance:
“Now all bodies – solid, liquid, gaseous, living, non-living – are at one in this point: they are bodies. There is something, therefore, in all bodies, some substratum, some substantial principle, which is common to them: it makes bodies. There is also in bodies something substantial which distinguishes them into different species or essential kinds of bodies. By reason of the first substantial principle each body is a body; by reason of the second substantial principle each body is this essential kind of body. The first substantial principle is called Prime Matter; the second is called Substantial Form.” (The History of Philosophy, p. 90-91).
There is a point to be made here which is absolutely crucial to our discussion concerning the nature of all created things. The reader will remember that in the Aristotelian-Thomistic scheme of things there are only ten categories of being – one of substance and nine of accidents. We are now at the point of analyzing physical substance itself. We are therefore ontologically (or “metaphysically) “below” or “previous” to any category of being. Substantial Form and Prime Matter are not to be considered as in any way independent being, or as in any way “existents” previous to their union in some particular substance. Substantial Form and Primary Matter, while being totally real and necessary to our understanding of the nature of any physical thing, and of God’s creative action, are not in themselves to be considered any sort of being. They are, in the terminology of St. Thomas, principles of being. We might colloquially say, “It is how God works in His creation of things from nothing.”
And yet we know that these principles of being are absolutely necessary to our understanding of any physical thing. It is our everyday experience that when we encounter any substantial thing, we are face to face with something that must have a form which makes it what it is and not something else. A cow is a cow, and not a man or molecule of water, or a banana. Yet this form is not identifiable with anything (including atomic structure) that we can quantify, or with any of the other accidental categories of being. Nor is the problem solved by postulating any particular arrangement (the category of relation) of atoms, such as the DNA arrangements in respect to human beings. In this particular case we are still left with the reduction of the extraordinary substance that we know as a human being to the absurdity which we have already examined in our treatment of atoms and molecules. No amount of complexity of relationships involving structures which involve 99.999999999 % void can be equated with the substantial world around us.
At the same time, we also encounter the fact that this thing is “material”, and that the form itself would not exist without being informed in matter. It is therefore integral to all our knowledge of created, physical things that these two principles of being are real. And since these principles cannot be categorized as any sort of existent being, it is at this point that any created substance devolves upon God’s creation of all things from nothing. It is here that the human intellect hovers over what scripture refers to as the glorious, mysterious, hidden, and secret work of God. We must be clear, however, that these two principles of created being are not in any way to be identified with God’s Being. They are the first principles of being encountered by the human intellect within creation itself. They are fundamental principles in God’s creative action.
With these two principles, we also stand at the source of all integrity and truth in philosophical knowledge. We are at that point where the human mind assents to two truths which are absolutely essential to both human and divine integrity. These two truths are:1) that every created substance is what it is simply because God willed its creation, as such, out of nothing and, 2) that God is absolutely distinct from all created reality. These two truths are encapsulated in one absolutely defined dogma of the Catholic Faith: Creation ex nihilo. It is here where we stand upon the foundation of all true knowledge of both God and all of His Creation.
It is this wondrous, mysterious, and hidden point that human hubris finds so difficult to leave alone. There can be no creation ex nihilo if these two principles of being are denied and yet it is astounding the extent to which Christian philosophers of all sorts of stamps and denominations, who would never have admitted to denying the doctrine of God’s creation from nothing, have violated this point in their metaphysics.
Reductive science is the most destructive heresy of our times. But it is more than a heresy. It an ambience, a poisoned atmosphere, which modern man takes in with virtually every breath. This poison convinces modern man not only that material realities are reducible to accidental and quantifiable being, but it also creates that intellectual poison which convinces him that he himself is reducible to accidental properties – that his love is reducible to hormonal reactions; his aspirations for truth reducible to conditioned responses; his belief in God a neurological reaction to fear and uncertainty.
But its most destructive effect is that it eliminates that fundamental mysteriousness about life and creation which leads a person to think about and hunger after God. It suffocates the work of the Holy Spirit. This is why there is now so much indifference towards God. And this is also why, despite all the scientific and technological advance of our time, man becomes more and more confused not only as to his own nature, but also as to the nature of the smallest substance. It is not that analytical science is intrinsically evil, but rather that it is intrinsically superficial (and yet enormously seductive to the fallen human mind) simply because quantitative analysis can never touch or understand the nature of any substance created by God out of nothing.
This is the world that science has built, and it is the world which now faces a decay and dissolution which will make any previous holocaust appear miniscule. The “scientific” experiments of Communism and Nazism are only mild precursors and foreshadowers of what is yet to come unless the hold is broken upon this “Brave New Scientific World,” and we return to a truly Christian civilization, which achieved perfection of intellectual expression in the great synthesis of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Science: The Engine of Destruction
One of the great, collective delusions of both the so-called “conservative” and “traditional” Catholic worlds is the prevalent view that the accomplishments of the West in regard to science, technology, etc. are the glorious fruits of Catholicism, and its embrace of rationality as the handmaid of Faith and Revelation. Few seem to even consider the possibility that true Catholic rationality demands a profound poverty of spirit in relation to any scientific endeavor, a devotion to both material and intellectual humility, and a commitment to material and technological asceticism, etc. No one seems to consider, in other words, that the “Goddess of Reason” which Western Culture has embraced, with its scientific and technological revolutions, represents a profound decay in Catholic civilization. It represents the “worm within”, which has caused the profound destruction of the Christian world which is now upon us. It is not a true reflection of the Holy Spirit of Wisdom, but rather the offspring of that original sin which also sought a knowledge which was prostitute to the temptation of Satan to be “like Gods.”
All this brings us to the third point mentioned above: that the scientific enterprise has predominantly been employed for destruction– in war against both man and God.
There are several good books which delineate the unholy marriage between scientists and mass slaughter of human beings down through history. Possible the best is titled Science Goes to War: The Search for the Ultimate Weapon, from Greek Fire to Star Wars, by Ernest Volkman. It represents a fascinating and terrifying exploration of the degree to which science and scientists, over thousands of years of human history, have been the concubines of the god of War. The Twentieth Century represented, of course, the great zenith of this holocaust conducted by science and “scientific materialism” (which, appropriately, was an often-used name for Communism) against human dignity. The list of such scientific achievements in the torture and murder of human beings during the last century is almost endless.
But it has been so, to varying extents, from the beginning. Let us take, for instance, the example of Alexander the Great, considered by many to be the greatest conqueror of all time. Alexander the Great is famous for establishing the great Library in Alexandria, Egypt. But what is little known is that this Library was actually part of the Museion which, in the words of Volkman, was centered upon the creation of “the penultimate scientific research institute that would join Western and Eastern science in an effort to solve all practical problems of running the Greek Empire and ensuring that it remained supreme over all possible competitors. Its mandate included engineering, navigation, astronomy, geography, road-building, determining land boundaries – and the machines of war….All living expenses of the scientists working at the Museion were underwritten by the state. They learned that they could hardly think of a line of research that would not be funded if it had anything to do with benefitting the state [and especially improving the engines of war], there was a certain guarantee that the state would throw money at it.”
And, it has been the same ever since. Scientific research and the development of its technology always demands an immense amount of money and resources, and the State supplies. Political power- Money- Science-War – these are the Four Horses of the War against Man and Human Dignity. As Heraclitus said, “War is the Father of all things.”
Inevitably, and even right from the beginning, this war against man evolved into a War against God. Scientific reductionism, as we have seen, immerses the human mind in accidental analysis, which inevitably creates the poisoned world-view which identifies substantial reality with the fruits of such reductive analysis. And since accidental being is the basis of all change, then Being becomes identified with Becoming, and God as an Immutable Being must die. Man thus loses his moorings in both the substantial being of created things and in his relationship to the Absolute Being of God. He becomes lost in phenomena. As a philosopher in the modern world he is forced into Nominalism, Empricism, Kantianism, Phenomenalism, Personalism, Modernism, or any of a host of idealistic and subjectivist philosophies by which man is forced to retreat into himself, and away from objective, absolute truth. And this spiritual retreat also necessarily devolves into rejection of any belief in an immutable Natural Law.
All this came home to roost in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Virtually no “serious” philosopher or scientist could hold to Thomistic metaphysics. And if they stayed in the Catholic Church during the 16th or 17th centuries it was usually more from fear of being burned at the stake than because of any faith they still possessed.
Let us briefly look at four famous scientists who, it is often claimed, were “deeply religious men.” We will begin with Galileo.
Scientists will often attempt to dismiss Catholicism using what could be called a “polemical shortcut” – arguing that they cannot have anything to do with a Church that once condemned Galileo and his heliocentrism. As a consequence, an immense volume of Catholic literature and apologetics has issued forth from Catholic pens attempting to justify the Church’s condemnation, make excuses for it, or apologize for it. Such authors fail to comprehend the much deeper issues at stake here in regard to science and faith. Nor do they comprehend the depths of Galileo’s own infidelity.
Recent research in the Vatican archives, resulted in discovery of a document that clearly showed Galileo’s rejection of Transubstantiation. Under the power of his own reductive atomic science, there could no longer exist a real distinction between substance and accidents. It was the contention of Pietro Redondi, in his 1998 book Galileo Heretic, that the real motive for the Holy See’s condemnation of Galileo was his heretical views regarding the Eucharistic Presence, and his rejection of Transubstantiation. Whatever merits one might ascribe to this theory, we cannot deny the almost infinitely greater consequences of such a heresy to the Catholic Faith. Such reductionism in the microcosmic realm, dealing as it does with the very nature of substantial reality itself, is vastly more destructive to Catholic faith than any errors or misunderstandings which might ensue upon rejection of geocentrism. Any honors that the Church now bestows upon Galileo can therefore only be viewed as a self-inflicted wound to Her own integrity.
The delusion endemic among Catholics in regard to the alleged “compatibility of Faith and Science,” is inevitably associated with attempts to offer us instances of “good Catholic scientists.” For instance, in the pre-Vatican II Catholic textbooks for children, Pasteur is often extolled as the premier example of the really great “Catholic” scientist. A serious study of his life, however, reveals that he came to be a modern type of Siger of Brabant, embracing a two-truth epistemological position – one truth for religion and one for science, each in contradiction with the other. Towards the end of his life he quit frequenting the sacraments.
Newton is our third example of a scientist whom Catholic sycophancy has often embraced as a “scientist who believed in God.” Yes, he did believe in God, but it was not our God. Newton was an Arian who totally rejected Christ as God, and considered worship of Christ to be idolatry. For a Catholic to therefore consider him as some sort of spiritual fellow-traveler is simply self-deception.
Finally, we cannot leave this subject without examining the case of Einstein who, in one of his most famous quips, stated, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” He is also credited with quotes about the mysteriousness of the universe requiring intelligence in its origins. But this “intelligence” has nothing to do with a personal God. The following two quotes are from his letters:
“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
“I believe in Spinoza’s God [Spinoza was a pure Pantheist] who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.”
This dissolution of Einstein’s intellectual world extended to his moral life, which included divorce and remarriage, abandonment of two of his children (the first, which was conceived illegitimately before his first marriage, to adoption; the second to a sanatorium), and “serial” sexual affairs and adulteries. In The World As I See It, Einstein wrote: “There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair.” He apparently reaped the benefit of such affairs: it was the conclusion of his personal physician that he died of syphilis (see Robert Sungenis’ Galileo Was Wrong, The Church Was Right, Vol. II, p. 40-48 for a more extensive treatment of this subject).
It also should be noted that Einstein’s position in regard to Catholicism proved to be a prophetic anticipation of President Barack Obama’s HHS mandate which would force Catholic institutions to provide health insurance to cover contraception Thus, the following from a 1954 letter:
“I am convinced that some political and social activities and practices of the Catholic organizations are detrimental and even dangerous for the community as a whole, here and everywhere. I mention here only the fight against birth control at a time when overpopulation in various countries has become a serious threat to the health of people and a grave obstacle to any attempt to organize peace on this planet.”
It is time that we stopped being “useful idiots” in the hands of our enemies. Catholics, for centuries, have been like frogs in the slowly warming water of this universal scientific ambience. It is now virtually impossible for them to perceive the obvious historical truth: that virtually no one could be in any sense on the cutting edge of the scientific endeavor, and remain a faithful Catholic. The practice of science is a vortex which almost inevitably drowns the Catholic intellect. Nor is this effect exclusive to only the Grand Poobahs of science. The world hangs on every word and attitude of the Magi of science, and it reflexively (even if more slowly) absorbs the rejection of the Christian Faith which is the necessary consequence of their Gnosticism. And if some particular scientist does attempt to hold to both science and faith, science almost inevitably ends by being the victor in an even more diabolical manner: through subtle or not-so-subtle distortions and dilutions of his faith. Such constitutes the history of the relationship between science and Christianity over the past several-hundred years.
In other words, the War against God which is integral to scientific reductionism goes much deeper than the seemingly inevitable loss of faith of individuals. As I have said, in rejecting Thomistic metaphysics and embracing the fruits of accidental analysis, scientists and philosophers become immersed in a world which replaces the concept of being with that of becoming. They consequently become the Magi and inculcators of Gnostic- evolutionism in every sphere of human thought and belief. And in so doing, they become the declared enemy of all that is Absolute – Revelation, Dogma, the very idea of a fixed human nature, and God Himself. Such Gnosticism is thus the true spiritual descendant of the Museion of Alexander the Great, and the inevitable fruit of the scientific enterprise itself.
The scientific quest which was initiated by original Sin finds its ultimate expression today in the efforts of genetic engineering to totally transform human nature itself. Under an umbrella of associated names and movements – which is probably best designated by the popular term Transhumanism – it promotes goals such as the following: the overcoming of human disease and even mortality, the uploading of human intelligence and moral consciousness into machines and robots, total access to “rewriting” any part of the human genetic code, the synthetic “writing” of an entirely new genetic code, etc. In other words, the “Scientific Enterprise” believes that it is now on the threshold of gaining full control over what is conceived as the evolutionary process itself, and of enabling man to become “like Gods,” – even to the point of creating “post-humans.” This point of radical transformation in human history and evolution has even been given a name: “Singularity.”
We must not make the mistake of believing that all of this resides only in the world of science fiction. The Museion of Alexander the Great finds its logical fruition in Singularity University, named precisely in honor of, and belief in, this radical transformation. The founding of Singularity University was hosted by NASA in 2007. Its facilities are at NASA’s Research Park in the Silicon Valley, CA. Raymond Kurzwell, co-founder of Singularity University was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Bill Clinton. This is now a main-stream, government-associated agenda.
In looking at the website of Singularity University, one discovers that their oft-repeated mantra is exponential technology, which is, of course, the evolutionary engine by which they expect to transcend the present limitations of humanity. It is clear, even from a purely biographical and historical study of science and scientists, as I have sketched above, that exponential technology effects a corresponding exponential loss of the ability not only to understand the revealed Truths of God, but also Natural Law itself. This makes it to be a Draconian threat to man’s future.
For instance, it was, for many centuries of Christian civilization, a matter of basic moral synderesis concerning the conduct of warfare, embraced by virtually all, that direct killing of innocent civilians was morally unacceptable. In World War I, the civilian casualty rate was 10 %. In World War II, conducted with an exponential growth in science and weaponry, it was 60 %. And lest we are tempted to attribute this loss of basic moral fiber exclusively to Hitler and Nazism, we need only remember Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the fire-storm, phosphorous bombing of civilians in such cities as Tokyo (80,000), Dresden (130,000), Hamburg (80,000), and other German cities, – all this perpetrated by “civilized” western democracies. The civilian casualty rate in all wars conducted since 1980 is now reputed to be 80%. This is just one area which demonstrates that any real, active sense of the natural law diminishes with the growth of science and technology.
In order to provide even more clarity, let us look at the issue of pro-life, specifically from the perspective of the concept of “exponential growth” of human knowledge. In recent decades there has occurred an exponential growth in science and technology in relation to contraception, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, etc. – everything involved in the destruction of unborn human life. At the same time, however, there has also been an exponential growth in revelation (I won’t say “understanding,” because the “revelation” has been largely rejected) to scientists concerning the facts of embryonic development (think of the models of embryonic development popular with Pro-Life groups or the famous images and genetic information involved in the Carnegie Stages of Human Development). It is abundantly clear from this latter “scientific” knowledge that at all stages of embryonic development the “substantial form” (soul) of a human person is present. Despite this objective knowledge which is rudimentary education for any student of genetics, we know which “exponential” has won – it was not even a real contest. Natural Law, and even obvious scientific “fact,” did not possess a ghost of a chance against the intellectual and moral disintegration which has been accomplished by the engines of science.
We now find ourselves thoroughly ensnared in a world constructed upon the foundation of scientific hubris. Every field of human endeavor – economics, politics, education, communications, recreation, and yes, religion, is enslaved and perverted by the scientific Weltanschauung. There may be little hope for the world – it would seem impossible to conceive a reversal, without total political and economic chaos. The world waxes old, enmeshed in its own sins.
But there is indeed hope for the Church and every individual who will look, see, and be converted. The definitive solution to our present crisis was given to us, in all its clarity, purity, and grace in the Thirteenth Century: through the extraordinary example of simplicity and poverty towards all the things of this world of St. Francis (including his Rule for the Third Order); and the radiant philosophy and theology of St. Thomas. This twofold grace offered a vision of the integrated life of intellect and will (truth and charity) which was to be man’s only solid defense against the rising tide of Renaissance humanism and science that was about to break upon Christian civilization. Both of these gifts from God were almost immediately compromised and distorted by Catholics, and simply denied by the world. We are now bearing the full weight of our betrayal. It is not too late, however, for the Church to revisit and embrace these gifts.
Mary and the Holy Spirit in Our Souls
Our Lord proclaimed, “Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter into it.” (Mk. 10:15). It is such spiritual childhood which is necessary for the fruition of the Holy Spirit and His work in our souls.
The Christian world has now waxed old and stinted through centuries of betrayal of the infinite Gifts of Our Lord in His Incarnation, Sacrifice on the Cross, and continued presence with us in the Eucharist. The accumulated “wisdom of this world” which has been absorbed into the collective consciousness of Catholics (and of course the rest of the world) through surrender to the threefold concupiscence of this world – the concupiscence of the flesh, of desire, and pride of life (especially false “science) – has produced a false “adulthood”, and a coarseness of perception in the depths of our hearts and minds which threatens the very nature of man created in the image of God and the innocence of spiritual childhood.
It is a coarseness which, no matter how much human effort we may put forth in order to live the simplicity and poverty demanded by the Beatitudes, or no matter how much we may work at regaining philosophical and theological clarity of vision in line with the teachings of St. Thomas, cannot be restored to the depths of our hearts except through extraordinary spiritual graces. It is for this reason that the last great Gift of God to fallen man is Total Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It is only within the spiritual womb of Mary’s Immaculate Heart that modern man can be reborn into a childhood of true spiritual vision and holy desire. Mary, being the true Spouse of the Holy Spirit, is the source of all fruitfulness in the Holy Spirit, and it is in Mary’s Immaculate Heart that God has established a storehouse of graces for the End Times. It is here we may receive the grace to truly see with the eyes of faith Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. It is here that we may receive the grace to see through creation to God and His ever present action and power. And it is through such spiritual childhood to Mary that we may receive the grace to effectively believe in the truths revealed in the Book of Genesis (please see our article The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion), and all of the Truths revealed through Holy Scripture and the Church’s Infallible Magisterium: “He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8: 35).
Our embrace of, and surrender to, Mary in total consecration is a grace which must be received into our souls and hearts similar to the act of faith itself. It is a refuge which God has prepared for His children when the “operation of error” spoken of by St. Paul has reached such a state of universal presence in this world that the only real choice of man is between surrendering in simplicity to the childhood of God, or embracing the mock maturity of modern man grown old in service to Satan.
Total Consecration to Mary is not, however, only a one-time effort, or even just something that we renew once a year. It is a posture of mind and heart which demands our constant effort. There is a marvelous passage from the Book of Deuteronomy which encapsulates such a “work”:
“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 thy eyes.” (Deut. 6: 5-8).
Our Lady needs to “move between our eyes” if she is to be truly enabled to change our hearts and minds. A once-per-year St. Louis de Montfort Consecration or the Daily Rosary, while indeed being wonderful practices, would not seem to be enough. We would like to therefore suggest that a constant devotion to the Hail Mary itself is what is needed in order that Our Lady might come to possess our whole soul, and be fully active in transforming our hearts while we are “sitting in thy house”, “walking on thy journey” (or travelling in a car), and “sleeping and rising”.
Each Hail Mary, with the simplest mental act, can be made into both a total act of consecration to Mary and a spiritual communion with Jesus. With the words “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee”, we recognize Jesus really present within Mary through the Incarnation. With the words “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”, we enter into Her Immaculate Heart in order to receive Jesus in Spiritual Communion. And in the second part of the Hail Mary – “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen”, we rest in this Communion and resolve never to depart from this Refuge.
Praying a Hail Mary takes less than 20 seconds. It is the golden thread of access to the graces of the Holy Spirit through Mary which can be woven into all the activities of our daily lives.
The Rosary and the Hail Mary have been minimized in the past as “mere” vocal and mentally discursive (meditational) prayer which, so it is said, must be eventually surpassed in order that we may draw nearer to God in truly affective and contemplative prayer. This is a cruel delusion – one that is immensely destructive to souls. There can be nothing more inviting to the operation of the graces of the Holy Spirit in our souls than the simple act of the will by which we continually surrender ourselves in spiritual childhood to Mary in order that we may receive Jesus Christ in the fullness of His grace and truth.