Fr Martin Ganeri looks to the destination of the Christian’s journey, and considers the roadmap that shows us how to reach it.
When people want to make a journey by car these days to some place they have not been to before, they usually plug in a sat nav, tap in the postcode and then set off. All we have to do is to obey the instructions and turn right when we are told to, or turn left when we are told to. And eventually we are told, ‘You have reached your destination.’
However, relying on a sat nav to find our way leaves us blind both about what the way actually is and what our destination is like. We just follow the instructions we are given. And this is very different from how things used to be when we had to rely on roadmaps and on our own knowledge. In those days we studied the map beforehand and we could see the way ahead in front of our eyes laid out on the map itself. We also used to find out what the destination looked like, so that we could recognise it when we reached it. It still was not always easy to know how to find our way, but we had some knowledge about it, much more than we have when we rely on a sat nav.
Now, in the Gospel Christ tells his disciples that he is going to his Father’s house, where he will prepare a place for them also, going to heaven, which is their final destination. He tells them they know the way to get there. Yet, their puzzled reactions are like those who rely a sat nav, but then suddenly find themselves without it. They feel they have no idea about either where Christ is going or what the way there is. They feel blind and helpless.
Yet Christ reassures them that they do know the way and that they do know the destination to which they are heading. For he tells them, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ Christ is the Way, because he is the truth and the life. He is the Truth as the authentic and full revelation of God, the Father. He has shown them the Father. And he is the Life, because he offers to them eternal life, that life which is a share in God’s own life, the life of the Father, given through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Christ has revealed to us our destination and he is like a roadmap that shows us how to reach it. For it is in his own humanity, his own human actions and words that he has both travelled that road for us and given us an example to follow, so that we can find the way for ourselves. By his own death and resurrection he has put an end to death and made eternal life possible for everyone, travelling the road that leads directly to the Father. And in his life and teaching he offers us a sure guide for knowing how to live in the present, helped and enabled to do by the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that we can also be worthy of a place in the Father’s house.
Yet Christ, as the Way, the Truth and the Life is more than just a roadmap to the Father. Even the best roadmap is merely a means to get us to a destination. But Christ is also the destination. For he makes the Father visible to us in his own actions and teaching and he himself gives us the life of the Father through the gift of the Spirit. So, when we contemplate Christ’s actions and teaching, when we imitate the pattern he gives us and when, through the sacraments, we some to share in his death and resurrection, we also come to our destination in the present life. We already see the Father. And we experience eternal life in the here and now. Not fully, of course, but in part and in reality. The full bliss of a place in our Father’s house is something that awaits us after death, but in Christ and in our life in Christ we are, in part, already there.
Photograph by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. of Middle Meadow Walk, Edinburgh.
Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle, alleluia, for the Lord hath done wonderful things, alleluia; He hath revealed His justice in the sight of the Gentiles, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Ps: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him salvation. Glory be to the Father.
The last Sundays after Easter continue to sing Christ’s glory and the joy of redemption. In today’s Holy Mass we cannot fail to notice the Introit and the exultant jubilation of the Offertory, are when sung one of the loveliest melodies of the Gregorian chant.
As the Ascension and Pentecost draw near, the Gospels remind us how Jesus prepared the disciples for His departure by telling them of the coming of the Holy Spirit, who would be their light, their strength and their support. This teaching about the mission of the Spirit has its value for us as well as the Apostles. To the Holy Spirit is entrusted the guidance of Holy Mother Church whose leader and inspiration He is, just as He is the very source of Christian life for each of the faithful “baptised by water and by the Holy Spirit”. By the permanent part He plays in the Church the Holy Spirit carries on Christ’s work and bears witness to Him, at the same time He convinces the world of error and sin in its refusal to accept the Saviour.
Epistle: James 1, 17-21 Gospel: John 16, 5-14
Shout with joy to God all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name; come and hear and I will tell you, all ye that fear God. What great things the Lord hath done for my soul,alleluia.
Be present with us Lord our God, that by these gifts which we have received in faith we may be purified from sin and saved from all dangers. Through Our Lord.
For a while now, I have been looking for information about the miracle approved for the canonization of the two Fatima seerers, Francesco and Jacinta. The other day in Rome I even went to the Congregation for Saints to talk to a friend of mine there about the miracle. I learned that it was a Brazilian boy who received the miracle, but my friend didn’t know exact details. I got the information for the postulator, but received no response.
Strange. What’s with the secrecy? If I am not mistaken, there was one cause for a miracle which did not obtain approval. So… what’s up with the secrecy?
As you know, after a person who is not a martyr has been declared to have displayed in life “heroic virtues”, and that decree is approved by the Holy Father, a person is then called “Venerable”. Once a miracle through that person’s intercession is studied and approved (a rigorous procedure), he can be beatified. One more miracle is required for canonization.
I believe that Jacinta is the youngest person who is not a martyr ever to have been declared to have lived a life of heroic virtue and thereafter beatified. I think that goes for the canonization, too.
Although the approval of one miracle through the invocation of more than one person (Francesco AND Jacinta) is not usual, it is not unheard of.
Today there was a presser in Fatima. The details of the miracle were finally given:
Brazilian boy’s survival of brain injury is Fatima ‘miracle’
FATIMA, Portugal — The parents of a Brazilian boy whose recovery from a severe brain injury is being cited by the Vatican as the “miracle” needed to canonize two Portuguese children broke their silence Thursday to share the story.
Joao Baptista and his wife, Lucila Yurie, appeared before reporters at the Catholic shrine in Fatima, Portugal on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival. Francis will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the so-called Fatima visions of the Virgin Mary by canonizing two of the three Portuguese children who experienced them.
The “miracle” required for the canonization concerns the case of little Lucas Baptista, whose story has to date been shrouded in secrecy.
His father said Thursday that in 2013, when Lucas was 5 years old, the boy fell 6.5 meters (21 feet) from a window at the family’s home in Brazil while playing with his infant sister, Eduarda. [This is a bit like the miracle for Juan Diego.]
The ambulance to the hospital took an hour, and when Lucas arrived he was in a coma and had suffered two heart attacks, Baptista said. During emergency surgery, doctors diagnosed a severe traumatic brain injury and a “loss of brain material” from the child’s frontal lobe.
Doctors said Lucas had little chance of survival, and if he did live, would be severely mentally disabled or even in a vegetative state, the father recalled.
Baptista said he and his wife, as well as Brazilian Carmelite nuns, prayed to the late shepherd children who said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in “visions” in 1917. Two of those children, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, will become the Catholic Church’s youngest-ever non-martyred saints on Saturday.
The third child, Lucia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta’s cousin, became a Carmelite nun. Efforts are underway to beatify her, too, but couldn’t begin until after she died in 2005.
Joao Baptista, wearing a blue shirt and tie as he read a statement at the Fatima shrine and took occasionally pauses to compose himself, said doctors removed tubes from his son six days after Lucas’ fall.
“He was fine when he woke up, lucid, and started talking, asking for his little sister,” Baptista said. After another six days, Lucas was released from the hospital.
“He’s completely fine … with no after-effects. Lucas is just like he was before the accident,” his father said. “The doctors … said they couldn’t explain his recovery.”
Journalists were not allowed to ask questions. [Did you get that?]
Sister Angela Coelho, the Portuguese postulator who led the project to canonize the shepherd children, said her office was informed of the Brazil story about three months after it happened.
She said officials had to wait and see whether the boy’s recovery was complete before presenting the case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The recovery must be medically inexplicable. [The requirements are also sudden, complete, and lasting.]
“We thank God for Lucas’ cure and we know in all faith from our heart that this miracle was obtained with the help of the little shepherd children Francisco and Jacinta,” Baptista said. “We feel immense joy to know that this was the miracle that led to this canonization, but mostly we feel blessed by the friendship of these two children that helped our boy and now help our family.”
The crowd looking at ‘the Miracle of the Sun’, which happened during the Our Lady of Fatima apparitions (Wikimedia Commons)
A scientific perspective does not rule out miracles. We must remain open to exploring the unexplained
The question in the headline implies that the expected answer is “no”, but as a former particle physicist, my response is “Why not?” Contrary to a common prejudice, a scientific perspective does not rule out miracles, and the event at Fatima is, in the view of many, particularly credible.
As regards miracles in general, the usual prejudice against them takes one of two forms. The first is to claim that a scientific worldview excludes miracles, wrongly defined as breaking the laws of nature or, specifically, physics. This prejudice rests on a misunderstanding of the scope of scientific laws, which describe how simple, idealised systems behave in isolation. Such laws enable us to perform extraordinary feats, such as the final voyage of the Cassini spacecraft now taking place through the rings of Saturn.
But such laws say nothing about what happens when a system is not isolated, especially when a free personal agent intervenes. To give an example, if I throw an apple in the air, its trajectory will approximate a parabola that can be predicted from its initial position and momentum, but that prediction says nothing about whether or not I choose to catch the apple. And if I can intervene to change the trajectory of an apple then presumably God, who is all-powerful, can do the same and much more. Hence there is no real problem with miracles from the perspective of scientific laws, since to describe how a system behaves in the absence of intervention says nothing about whether an intervention can or does take place.
A second form of the prejudice is to claim that a combination of natural causes can and should be found to explain what appears to be miraculous, reducing the miraculous to the providential. To give one of many examples, it is not uncommon for clerics and teachers of a certain age, who find the miraculous mildly embarrassing, to claim that Jesus’s feeding of the 5,000 was simply a matter of people being shamed into sharing the food they already had.
But such explanations rarely fit well with the actual accounts, especially the reactions of eyewitnesses. Nor are such explanations either necessary or helpful. Obviously, we need to bring our critical judgment to bear on reports of particular miracles, which are exceptional signs in a world of created beings with their own natural powers. But to decide, in advance of any evidence, that miracles are impossible or never happen, is against the spirit of critical inquiry and is a counsel of despair. After all, if no miracles ever happen, then we are trapped in a world of natural powers, inadequate for our happiness, and doomed to individual and ultimately cosmic decay and death.
How, then, should we assess Fatima, and especially the reported miracle of the sun of October 13, 1917? This event accompanied the last of six apparitions to 10-year old Blessed Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto (who are shortly expected to be declared saints). The crowd of witnesses numbered in the tens of thousands and we have many testimonies, including from university professors and reporters, later compiled in a book by John Haffert, Meet the Witnesses of the Miracle of the Sun. For example, Avelino de Almeida from O Século, an anti-clerical government newspaper, and who had previously mocked the children, wrote that the sun made sudden, incredible movements, “outside all cosmic laws”.
Today, the Church does not demand that we accept the miracle, but states only that the apparitions of Our Lady themselves are worthy of belief. Nevertheless, given the number and range of eyewitnesses, and the political and ecclesial shock to Portugal that followed this event, everything we know is compatible with a public miracle of the most extraordinary kind and credibility.
From the perspective of 2017, the timing also seems propitious. The apparitions took place four centuries after the start of the Protestant Reformation in 1517, and two centuries after the founding of the first Grand Lodge of the Freemasons in London in 1717, milestones in the shift from Catholicism to religious indifferentism. On the very day of the miracle of the sun in 1917, the Petrograd Soviet took military control in Russia, paving the way for atheistic communism to begin its ruinous domination of much of the world, persecuting the Church and leading to the cruel deaths of tens of millions of people.
Hence it is not surprising that God should have granted us a spectacular miracle, with stern warnings, of the repentance and penance with which we need to respond to his gift of grace, for the salvation of our souls and of the world.
Fr Andrew Pinsent is research director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University, a member of the Theology Faculty, a Research Fellow of Harris Manchester College, and a priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.
Faithful Catholics may be in for a “surprise” when they “get to heaven to be greeted by LGBT men and women,” said a controversial Catholic priest who was appointed by Pope Francis last month to the Vatican’s communications office.
Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin, editor-at-large of the Jesuit-run America magazine, made the comment on his Facebook page May 5 after posting a link to a pro-homosexual event put on by New Ways Ministry and calling it “another sign of welcome and building bridges.”
When one Facebook commenter responded that “any canonized Saints would not be impressed” by the infiltration of homosexuality within the Catholic Church, Martin replied that some of the saints are “probably gay.”
Replied to Walter Maczynski’s comment on Fr. James Martin, SJ’s public post Fr. James Martin, SJ “Some of them were probably gay. A certain percentage of humanity is gay, and so were most likely some of the saints. You may be surprised when you get to heaven to be greeted by LGBT men and women.”
But Catholic saint and doctor of the Church St. Peter Damian called homosexuality a “vice” that “opens up hell and closes the door of paradise.”
“This vice [of same-sex activity] is the death of bodies, the destruction of souls, pollutes the flesh, extinguishes the light of the intellect, expels the Holy Spirit from the temple of the human heart, introduces the diabolical inciter of lust, throws into confusion, and removes the truth completely from the deceived mind,” he wrote in his 11th century Book of Gomorrah.
“It prepares snares for the one who walks, and for him who falls into the pit, it obstructs the escape. It opens up hell and closes the door of paradise,” he added.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” since they are “contrary to the natural law” and they “close the sexual act to the gift of life.”
But, not only this: The Church also teaches that same-sex attraction is itself “objectively disordered” since God created sexual attraction to be between a male and female for the sake of procreation.
In this way, there is no such reality as a “homosexual person,” but only a person who struggles with the “disorder” of being attracted to the same sex. The Church teaches that everybody, including those with a disordered sexuality — often expressing itself in lust, masturbation, fornication, pornography, homosexuality — are called to chastity. That is, to the moral virtue of a rightly ordered sexuality integrated within the person.
The Christian faith holds that the homosexual act, along with murdering the innocent, depriving a laborer of his wages, and oppressing the poor, is one of the four sins that cries to heaven for justice. Those who commit grave sin can only enter heaven if they let go of their sinful ways, asking God for forgiveness and mercy. Jesus teaches that it is the “pure of heart” who will see God.
Martin recently published a book in which he outlines ways he thinks the Catholic Church should be building bridges of acceptance towards practicing homosexuals.
Last year he accepted an award from the pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry. During his acceptance speech, he said that the Church should embrace homosexuality’s “special gifts” and “lay to rest” language about the “objectively disordered” nature of homosexual inclinations and acts.
On Saturday, 13th May, Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta, the two younger Fatima visionaries, will be canonised by Pope Francis in Fatima on the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance. This is wonderful news for the whole Catholic Church. These two small children, only nine and seven at the time of the visions, reached extraordinary levels of heroic virtue in their short lives. Now, as recognised saints of Heaven, these holy children will be strong interceders before the throne of God for all our many pleas for the Church in these wicked times.
“Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation of virtue; it is less a principle in itself, than a consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing needs of the patrie.” – Maximilien Robespierre, 1794
The Rage of the Left and the Coming Terror
In 1989, France marked the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. It was a strained celebration, for even its most ardent apologists were compelled to admit the bloody and sordid nature of much that the Revolution encompassed. The guillotine remains its most enduring symbol.
In 1989, Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev went to Paris to participate in the bicentennial celebration and said, “The spirit of the French Revolution has always been present in the social life of our country.” As columnist Charles Krauthammer then observed: “Few attempts at ingratiation have been more true or more damning.”
The bloodbath and horrors of communism have much in common with the bloodbath and horrors of what is now called “The Terror.” The Bolsheviks and the French Revolutionaries both relied on political assassination, domestic spying, denunciations and imprisonments, show trials and the criminalization of all dissent. Both terrorized the populace while committing their crimes in the name of “the People.” Tyrants always claim a democratic mandate.
The French Revolution’s Committee for Public Safety condemned to death almost 17,000 people in one year. (See: “Reign of Terror”.) This is a negligible body count when laid against the tens of millions that have been sacrificed on the altar of communism. We prefer to think that men such as Robespierre and Stalin are creatures of bygone eras and that conditions no longer allow for such horrors to be perpetrated. Perhaps, we should think again.
The Pope and the Antifa
Pope Francis has been called the new leader of the global Left. He has not demurred from the acclamation. He has been flatteringly featured in publications that can hardly be considered supportive of Catholic teaching, such as Rolling Stone. He has been praised by leaders of the pro-abortion movement, such as Hillary Clinton. Those who favor unrestricted Muslim immigration in the West and open borders feel they have a friend in Francis, and they are seldom disappointed.
Francis denounces “populism” as dangerous and fascistic whenever he disagrees with the “people.” Otherwise, he defends popular fashions in morals and ideology, often opposing the “living” reality of the times to the outmoded intransigence of traditional doctrine. He is with you so long as you are with him. We have never had a Pope who is so divorced from the normal exercise of his office and so eager for the approbation of the ruling classes, that is, the globalist Left. (See: “For 2017 More of the Same: Leftist Politics Wrapped in the Language of Catholic Piety”.)
Meanwhile, the Left with which the Pope has aligned himself has suffered some setbacks, and it is not taking them well. Donald Trump has won the presidency of the United States; a “conservative” has been appointed to the Supreme Court. The unholy alliance of the “deep state” with its political masters is being exposed. The intelligence community is now known to be corrupt and untrustworthy. Democrats still control the media, but are hemorrhaging popular support. They appear more and more like generals without an army.
In Europe, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. French nationalism is rising. Poland and Hungary are resisting Muslim immigration. And the narrative of current events is no longer tightly controlled by the propaganda arm of globalism — that is, the major news outlets — but is coming into public view, in factual and unedited form, from a growing number of information sites via the Web.
The Left has not, until recently, been called upon to defend itself. The ruling elites were protected from hard questioning by a supportive media that vilified anyone who subjected their positions to scrutiny. The media, like the Pope, resorts to the ad hominem attack as a matter of course. But their credibility is greatly diminished and the media’s fairness and accuracy are now being subjected to a scrutiny they have never before had to face. The control of the Left, which appeared so formidable for so long, is now unravelling.
The late John Vennari once memorably said that logic and liberalism cannot co-exist in the same head. Traced to its principle, a liberal position tends to fall apart from lack of coherence, internal contradiction or a collision with obvious facts. That Islam is a “Religion of Peace” is an example of a patently absurd liberal position; yet, every globalist, from George Bush to Angela Merkel to Pope Francis, has repeated this absurdity with the apparent expectation that it will be believed — or that people will fear to contradict the claim because the media will discredit and destroy anyone who dissents. (See: “America Magazine Frets over Catholics’ Lack of Love for Islam”.) Facts, for the Left, are irrelevant. It is the narrative that is important, and the narrative can be shaped to suit the needs of the moment.
The Left is demonic in that its position is that of Lucifer: it wants to usurp the prerogatives of the Creator and refashion the world according to its likes and dislikes. It reverses Our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and says, “Not Thy will, but mine be done.” And it uses whatever tool is at hand to smash the natural order that stands in its way. Muslim immigration is just a tool for smashing what remains of European Christian culture. Transgenderism is a tool for smashing what remains of traditional sexual morality. Entitlement programs are a tool for smashing what remains of personal self-reliance. And all of this destruction is done in the name of compassion, of mercy. To oppose globalism is to be mean, bigoted, un-Christian. (See: “Pope Francis Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian’”.) It is to build walls instead of bridges. It is to invite finger wagging and invective from the Pope.
And while the Pope is vilifying the Left’s opponents daily at the Casa Santa Marta, mobs of masked “protesters” are appearing in cities across America and Europe. They are called the Antifa – for anti-fascists. It is a bit of Orwellian Newspeak from the Left’s Ministry of Truth. The Antifa disguise their faces, shout obscenities, beat people up, hurl trash cans through windows, set cars on fire, block traffic and shout down anyone who would say anything with which they disagree. They oppose free speech, freedom of assembly for any group they dislike, and are prepared to use violence if they don’t get what they want. The Antifa are, in short, fascists. (See: “What is ‘Antifa’? And why is the media so reluctant to expose it?”.)
In Berkeley, they enjoy the protection of the University administration, the mayor and the police. (See: “WOW! BERKELEY MAYOR Who Allegedly Told Police To ‘Stand Down’ Is Part Of Antifa Terrorist Facebook Group”.) We are asked to believe that the police force is no match for this rabble and therefore cannot guarantee the physical safety of conservative speakers, such as Ann Coulter. How stupid does the Left think the public is? There is collusion on a growing scale between the Left, the street mobs they incite and direct and the parts of the government they still control. That the Left is turning to orchestrated violence is a sign of things to come. If they cannot succeed through electoral politics, they will try to assert their will through social disruption, through fear, and then blame the chaos and bloodshed on the victims, the so-called fascists who had to be opposed for the sake of freedom and justice.
Just how far will the Left go to regain the power they have temporarily lost? This remains to be seen. One thing is apparent, however: civil discourse is no longer on the table. This is a struggle for raw power in which every outrage against decency is being justified in the name of “saving our democracy.” Network television programs now feature obscene rants against Trump and Republicans as a matter of course. The foulest language and fiercest hatred is countenanced as “entertainment.” It appears probable that the situation will only grow worse, for recent history shows that once the bar of decency has been lowered, it is never raised again. We can only descend at this point to ever more repulsive and brutish behavior on the part of the media in support of the Left.
The Long View and What We Can Expect
There is a professor in Berkeley named George Lakoff. He specializes in something called “cognitive linguistics.” Lakoff has long aspired to a role in politics, having offered his services to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He is now counseling the Left on how it should regroup in light of the Trump victory. What he urges is what he calls “framing” the debate through the use of metaphors — that is, inventing appealing names for repellent things. (See: “Moral Politics (book)”.)
His premise is that of the elite class: most people are too stupid to know what is in their best interest. The direction of their lives is best left in the hands of their intellectual and moral superiors, i.e. Lakoff and the Left. Hobbled by a nominal democracy, however, the smart people are compelled to manipulate the obtuse proletariat. Lakoff says this can best be done by using words that bypass reason and reach the unconscious, for reason is wasted on the masses. (See: “The Framing Wars”.)
Conservatives supposedly believe in what Lakoff calls the “Strict Father” model of the family, which he describes as authoritarian and cruel; it is opposed to the goodness and light of what he calls the “nurturant parent” model, favored by the benevolent Left. Lakoff wants the Left to use language to move people from the authoritarian model of the family to the nurturant parent model. But Lakoff’s strategy requires patience. It is also seen by some on the Left as academic theorizing that may or may not hold good in the real world. Meanwhile, the Left is opting for the fascism of the Antifa. It is trying to shut down the opposition through suppressing free speech. But Lakoff’s approach may also be tried.
Lakoff wants Democrats to stop using terms such as “federal regulations” and to talk instead about “protections.” He suggests the word “taxes” be replaced by the word “investments.” The media is always amenable to offering what help it can to “progressives,” for whom Lakoff is a self-appointed strategist, so we are likely to hear more linguistic legerdemain in the near future. The Associated Press Style Book has long used its power to push the Left’s agenda. The AP forbids the use of “pro-life” and “pro-abortion,” allowing only the term “pro-choice.” Most every newspaper and news outlet uses the AP as its usage guide. The media are likely to become the linguistic arm of the Antifa.
We should be alert to the fact that the Left is regrouping and a new language is being invented for presenting its agenda. Meanwhile, we can expect the street violence and the media assault against Trump to continue unabated. The public may tire of the turmoil and decide that Trump is too divisive a figure, a claim which the media will amplify in every way as the next election cycle approaches. If and when the Left manages to defeat its opposition, it will exercise power with an unprecedented ruthlessness. It has already discarded civil discourse and adopted the position that anyone who opposes them does not deserve a hearing, as their opponents are presumed to be motivated by racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious bigotry and consummate evil and stupidity of every description.
Their opponents are deemed hateful, and why should hateful people be given any quarter? Why should such deplorables be allowed to speak, or even exist? The brigades of the Antifa will be let loose, aided by all the apparatus of the government and media. The spirit of Robespierre, the patron saint of the Left, will be triumphant. How bloody will it get? It is beyond present imagination, for we find it difficult to accept possibilities that are deeply repugnant to us. But we have history as a guide.
All of the above takes into account only the human factors that shape events. There is the overarching power of Providence that can intervene at any time in unforeseen ways. We have a Pope who has sided with the Left and is trying to convince, even compel, Catholics to support the globalist agenda. The doctrinal patrimony of the Catholic Church is endangered by Francis’ alliances. No human power can effectively oppose his politicization of the Faith. Where do we turn?
Our Lady of Fatima said, “Only I can help you.” Perhaps the time is coming when the whole world will realize the truth of Her words.
I received a note from priest friend. He included a PDF of an article to be published. Here is the synopsis:
Synopsis: A close analysis of Kasper’s book on Mercy reveals a powerful embrace of Luther’s theology of grace and mercy. But Luther had no moral theology since, in his eyes, human beings are incapable good, and God’s mercy replaces his justice. Beneath a panegyric to divine mercy, Kasper’s persistent theme is a diminution of divine justice against which mercy is revealed and illumined. The result is a trivialization of God’s mercy, the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice, man’s freedom of moral choice and participitation in his own salvation, and by necessity, thereby, his dignity.
Look. I’m a former Lutheran. When I was in seminary, we had to read Kasper’s Christology books, the best Lutheran Christology I ever read!
In his book on Mercy, Kasper pretty much says what the Council of Trent anathematized.
I just don’t get the whoopdeedoo about Luther in the Catholic Church.
In the Lutheran churches (not real churches according to the CDF because they don’t have Apostolic Succession, etc.), I get it completely. If they want to celebrate Martin Luther, great!
But… should we?
There are many things I don’t understand about this.
Another thing I don’t get is why lots of women and many Jews are not upset by the big celebration of Martin Luther. Just read Luther, for heaven’s sake! Why are not feminists upset? Where are the women, for pete’s sake? Is this an example of what McCarthy describes in The Grand Jihad? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Luther didn’t say exactly kind things about Jews. Where are they with this? I don’t get it. Pope Francis used an analogy the other day about Syrians and camps and lots of people were upset. Read Luther on our Jewish elder cousins someday.
I don’t see why we are suppose to celebrate the shredding of Christendom.
I know about the blah blah about things in the Church that needed reform in the 16th c and following, and even today. I’m a convert, remember?
Editor’s Note: On 2 May, George Neumayr’s book, The Political Pope: How Pope Francis is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives, was published. OnePeterFive reached out to him, and he kindly gave us an interview. George Neumayr also gave us permission to publish Chapter One of his book, which we post here below, right after the interview itself. We strongly encourage our readers to support George Neumayr’s courageous book by buying it. It is available on Amazon and Amazon UK.
Maike Hickson: What inspired you to write a book on Pope Francis?
George Neumayr: From the first moment I saw him, I knew that he was going to be a Modernist wrecking ball, and he struck me from the beginning as the prototypical “progressive” Jesuit. I knew it was an extremely bad sign that the Church would name the first Jesuit pope at the very moment the Jesuit Order was in its most corrupt and heterodox condition. I knew it was going to be a distressingly historic pontificate, and from the first moment of Francis’ papacy I began thinking that his pontificate would be a good subject for a book. As it unfolded, it became clearer and clearer that someone need to chronicle this consequentially chaotic pontificate.
MH: You studied at the Jesuit University of San Francisco. What was your first response when you saw and heard Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope in the Church’s history?
GN: Having gone to a Jesuit university, I am very familiar with the flakes and frauds that populate that order. When I heard the pope, in the first few months of his pontificate, engage in non-stop left-wing babble, it reminded me of all the nonsense that I heard as a student from similar “progressive” Jesuits. The program of Francis was so obviously set to promote political liberalism while downplaying doctrine; that was the formula of trendy and empty Catholicism that I saw on display at the Jesuit University of San Francisco.
MH: What approach did you take in order to be able to make a proportionate characterization of Pope Francis as pope in his actions and words?
GN: I went back and looked at his time at Buenos Aires, Argentina, at his formation in the Jesuit Order, I read all of his available speeches and writings – when he was a bishop, before he was pope; I read all the existing biographies about him; I talked to Latin American priests, I talked to Jesuits, I talked to Vatican officials, I talked to Catholic activists and Catholic academics and canon lawyers. Given the sensitivity of the topic, most of the people were only willing to speak anonymously with me. I tried to look at all the salient news items that relate to Bergoglio, before he was pope and when he was pope.
MH: What is the main conclusion of your research?
GN: The undeniable conclusion is that the Catholic Church is suffering under a bad pope and that the cardinals must address this crisis.
MH: How do you describe in your book the political worldview of Pope Francis? In which fields of politics does he show his left-leaning tendencies?
GN: Pope Francis is a product of political leftism and theological Modernism. His mind has been shaped by all of the post-enlightenment heresies and ideologies from Marx to Freud to Darwin. He is the realization of Cardinal Carlo Martini’s vision of a Modernist Church that conforms to the heresies of the Enlightenment. On almost all intellectual fronts, Francis is a follower of the Modernist school. He is a student of Modernist Biblical Scholarship, which can be seen in his ludicrous interpretation of certain passages from the Gospel: such as the time when he described the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes as a metaphor and not a miracle. On more than one occasion, he said that it was not a miracle but a lesson in sharing: “This is the miracle: rather than a multiplication it is a sharing, inspired by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and some is left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the Bread of God for humanity.”
MH: Do you think that Pope Francis, in his more political statements, misuses his office as Head of the Catholic Church?
GN: Yes, this pontificate is a blatant example of out-of-control clericalism. Pope Francis is using the pulpit of the papacy, not to present the teachings of the Church, but, rather, to promote his personal political agenda.
MH: Are his political statements in line with Catholic teaching?
GN: Many of his statements are not in line with the Church’s teaching, as I document in the book. Pope Francis is the worst teacher of the Faith in the history of the Catholic Church. One could not trust him to teach an elementary school religion class.
MH: When describing Pope Francis as a more left-leaning man, could you give us evidence for that? Which Marxist authors for example did he admire or approve of? Which political figures of the left are admired by him?
GN: I speak about this at the beginning of the book. His mentor was Esther Ballestrino de Careaga who was a very fervent Communist. Francis has acknowledged that he had teachers who were Communists who influenced him. I point out in my book that he also met with the widow of Paulo Freire, the author of the book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed which is a classic of the Socialist left in Latin America.
MH: Which practical acts as pope show that Pope Francis actively supports Marxist or revolutionary movements?
GN: I document in the book all of the liberation theologians whom Pope Francis has rehabilitated. Leonardo Boff is at the top of the list. He is an openly Socialist priest who left the priesthood but who is now in the good graces of the Vatican so much so that he was a counselor to the papal encyclical Laudato si. He also reinstated to the priesthood the Communist priest Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann from Nicaragua who is still in touch with President Daniel Ortega. That priest has now resumed his Communist polemics.
MH: How would you describe Pope Francis’ moral teaching in relation with his political teaching? Is there a parallel between his political and moral liberalism?
GN: He pays homage to the moral relativism and socialism that are at the heart of the global left. It is no coincidence that his signature phrases have been “Who am I to judge” and “Inequality is the root of all evil.” He is a darling of the global left because he is advancing many of the items of their agenda, such as climate-change activism, open borders, and abolition of lifetime imprisonment (a position still so far left that not even the U.S. Democrats take that position). He is a spokesman for gun control, for world government, for the redistribution of wealth by central planners. The pope is pandering to the willfulness inherent in liberalism which takes both the form of moral relativism and a form of a “virtue signaling” socialism. He gratifies the liberals’ egos by offering them a pontificate of “virtue signaling” without any teaching of actual virtue. In other words, liberals like to appear good but not be good. And a pontificate which combines political liberalism with moral or doctrinal relativism agrees with their self-indulgent politics. They also like a dash of non-threatening spirituality in their politics which a Jesuit dilettante from Latin America provides them with.
MH: You talk in your book also about Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Is this document in line with Catholic teaching as it has been always taught by the Catholic Church?
GN: Amoris Laetitia is one of the most scandalous documents in the history of the Church. Pope Francis gives an obvious wink and a nod to adulterers in footnote 329 of that document (“In such situations, many [divorced and “remarried”] people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers.”). In my book, I speak about the intentional ambiguity of that document and that Archbishop Bruno Forte, who helped to write the draft of the 2014 Synod on the Family, had acknowledged the deviousness of the document and said that it was typical of a Jesuit; and that Pope Francis himself had told Forte at the time that, if they had explicitly endorsed adultery, it would have caused a backlash, and, so, they had to introduce this topic into the Synod document more subtly.
MH: Are there other fields of Catholic teaching where you would say that Pope Francis departs from orthodoxy?
GN: Pope Francis is subverting the Church’s teaching on divorce and thereby subverting teaching on many of the Sacraments such as Marriage, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders. He is subverting the Church’s sacramental theology. I chronicle in my book many of his subversions of Church teaching, from his support of the use of contraceptives with regard to the Zika virus, to his religious indifferentism and his antinomianism, which has become a hallmark of his pontificate. Pope Francis frequently pits the law against mercy which is the essence of the antinomian heresy.
MH: What do you say about the response of the prelates of the Church, especially the cardinals, to some of the problematic parts of Amoris Laetitia?
GN: The response has been feeble. Bishop Athanasius Schneider is an outstanding exception, he has spoken forthrightly about the heresy at work within that document.
MH: What should the cardinals be doing now? Are there ways for the cardinals to correct a pope?
GN: My position is that the cardinals should forthrightly confront the pope on this matter and make it clear to him that the heterodox position to which he is adhering is absolutely unacceptable. And then, if he fails to respond to the dubia, they must move to a formal correction.
MH: What are the reasons for the silence of so many prelates of the Church in the face of heterodox teachings coming out of Rome?
GN: One reason is their lack of conviction, another reason is shameful careerism, the third reason is that many of the bishops are cowards before the spirit of the age, and a lot of these “conservatives” are Modernists in slow motion.
MH: How is it possible that such a revolutionary pope could be elected as head of the Catholic Church? Do you touch upon this matter in your book?
GN: As I argue in the book, Pope Francis is the culmination of the Modernist movement which goes back over a hundred years. Modernism has been gathering strength in the Church since the Enlightenment, and it picked up speed in the 19th century and went into overdrive in the 20th century, producing the pontificate of Pope Francis. Pope Pius X’s encyclical on Modernism reads almost like a clinical description of the relativistic pontificate of Francis. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were later speed bumps in that road, inasmuch as they realized that the “Spirit of Vatican II” was wreaking havoc within the Church. But, with Francis now at the wheel, those speed bumps have been completely disregarded, and he seeks to complete the Modernist revolution.
MH: How would you describe Modernism, and what is fundamentally wrong with it?
GN: The essence of Modernism is the absorption of modern liberalism into Catholicism.
MH: So how should the Church find its way back to a strong and healthy response to any weakening and undermining of its teaching as it has been handed down to us from the Apostles?
GN: All of the reforms can be reduced to one reform: a return to orthodoxy and holiness.
MH: You are of the younger Catholic generation, born in 1972. What is and was your own response to the Catholic Church as it presented itself to you in the Novus Ordo Mass, but also in the Catechesis and in all the other aspects of Catholic life? What went wrong and what is missing?
GN: I belong to a generation of Catholics that asked for bread and only received stones.
MH: What do you intend to effect with your book, and what would you say that we Catholic authors and journalists should and could do in this current situation of confusion in order to help the faithful?
GN: My hope is that a book like this would contribute to the restoration of orthodoxy and holiness in the Church, and I think it is the duty of journalists to speak the truth without fear or favor.
The Pope They Have Been Waiting For
You must straighten out your position with the Church,” Pope John Paul II shouted at a cowering Ernesto Cardenal, a Catholic priest turned Marxist activist. In violation of his religious vows, Cardenal had joined the communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, and Pope John Paul II was scolding him before the cameras of the entire world. That sensational scene in 1983 on a Managua airport runway provided one of the most startling images of Pope John Paul II’s anti-communist pontificate.
So strong were Pope John Paul II’s anti-communist credentials and so effective was his anti-Soviet advocacy that Kremlin leaders, according to historians, hired a Turkish gunman to assassinate him. That attempt failed, and Pope John Paul II continued to denounce the Soviets until their empire crumbled in 1991.
Joseph Ratzinger also opposed communism fiercely. After serving as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger succeeded John Paul II in 2005 and took as his papal name Benedict XVI. In his role as doctrinal guardian of the Church, Ratzinger repeatedly warned the faithful to reject “liberation theology,” a Marxist-inspired ideology disguised as concern for the poor that the Soviet Union’s KGB spies had helped smuggle into Latin America’s Catholic Church in the 1950s.
“The movement was born in the KGB, and it had a KGB-invented name: liberation theology,” according to Ion Mihai Pacepa, who served as a spymaster for Romania’s secret police in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Soviets had long eyed the Catholic Church for infiltration. In the 1950s, Bella Dodd, the former head of the Soviet-controlled Communist Party of America, testified before the U.S. Congress that communists occupied some of the “highest places” in the Catholic Church. “We put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within,” she said. “The idea was for these men to be ordained, and then climb the ladder of influence and authority as monsignors and bishops.” As an active party member, Dodd said that she knew of “four cardinals within the Vatican who were working for us.”
According to Pacepa, the KGB took “secret control of the World Council of Churches (WCC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and used it as cover for converting liberation theology into a South American revolutionary tool.” Seeking to spread atheistic Marxism among the religious peasants of Latin America, Soviet leaders instructed the KGB to send agents into ecclesiastical circles. In 1968, Latin America’s bishops loudly endorsed liberation theology at a conference in Medellín, Colombia. The KGB served as a puppet master at the event, reported Pacepa.
“In the 1950s and 1960s, most Latin Americans were poor, religious peasants who had accepted the status quo, and [Soviet premier Nikita] Khrushchev was confident they could be converted to communism through the judicious manipulation of religion,” he wrote. “In 1968, the KGB was able to maneuver a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a conference in Medellín, Colombia. At the KGB’s request, my [spies] provided logistical assistance to the organizers. The official task of the conference was to help eliminate poverty in Latin America. Its undeclared goal was to legitimize a KGB-created religious movement dubbed ‘liberation theology,’ the secret task of which was to incite Latin America’s poor to rebel against the ‘institutionalized violence of poverty’ generated by the United States.”
Against this historical backdrop, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI viewed the spread of liberation theology in Latin America with alarm. They feared that a Marxist-influenced ideology, which progressive theologians within the Catholic Church were harnessing to their own long-percolating socialist politics, would corrupt the Catholic faith. Pope Benedict XVI called liberation theology a “singular heresy.” He argued that it deceives the faithful by concealing “Marxist dialectics” within seemingly harmless advocacy for the lower classes. He drew attention to Marxism’s philosophical incompatibility with Christianity and disputed the claim of many churchmen that Christianity could purify the Marxist elements of socialist thought.
How shockingly different statements from the Holy See sound today under Pope Francis. The first Latin American pope in Church history, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has generated headlines not for scolding Marxists but for supporting them, not for rebuking liberation theologians but for honoring them.
Under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the Western media spoke disapprovingly of a “holy war against liberation theology.” Now media outlets eagerly run stories about Pope Francis’s sympathy for it. “Liberation Theology Rehabilitation Continues at Vatican,” ran a characteristic headline on a story from the Associated Press.
In one of his first major interviews, Pope Francis said that liberation theologians have a “high concept of humanity.” A few months after he became pope on March 13, 2013, Francis welcomed the founding father of liberation theology, the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, to the Vatican as an honored guest. Gutiérrez had disappeared from high ecclesiastical circles under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI after making a Marxist appeal for “effective participation in the struggle which the exploited classes have undertaken against their oppressors.” But after the elevation of Francis, Gutiérrez suddenly found himself basking in praise. Vatican officials pronounced him an impeccable thinker, responsible for one of “the most important currents in 20th century Catholic theology.” The Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, asserted that the election of Pope Francis would bring liberation theology out of the “shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe.”
Leonardo Boff, who has long gloried in his status as a renegade liberation theologian from Brazil, also enjoyed a stunning change of fortune after the election of Pope Francis. Owing to his open Marxism, Boff was silenced by Pope John Paul II’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Boff was also condemned by the Vatican for his threatened hijinks at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, activism that eventually led Boff to leave the priesthood. But these days Boff finds himself back in the Church’s good graces. Pope Francis recruited him to serve as an adviser for Laudato Si’, his 2015 encyclical endorsing the political agenda of climate change activists.
Taking advantage of the new wind blowing from the Vatican, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, whose role in Nicaragua’s Marxist revolutionary government in the 1970s led to his suspension from the priesthood, sent in 2014 a request to Pope Francis that his priestly faculties be reinstated. Pope Francis granted the request. “The Holy Father has given his benevolent assent that Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann be absolved from the canonical censure inflicted upon him, and entrusts him to the superior general of the institute (Maryknoll) for the purpose of accompanying him in the process of reintegration into the ministerial priesthood,” announced the Vatican.
D’Escoto, among his other Marxist activities, had served as an official at the aforementioned KGB-controlled World Council of Churches. No sooner had Pope Francis granted d’Escoto’s request than the recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize resumed his Marxist polemics, calling capitalism the “most un-Christian doctrine and practice ever devised by man to keep us separate and unequal in a kind of global apartheid.” He condemned Pope John Paul II for an “abuse of authority” and rhapsodized about Fidel Castro as an inspired figure whose murderous regime heralded “the reign of God on this earth that is the alternative to the empire.” Even now as a priest in good standing under Pope Francis, d’Escoto lobbies for the Libyans, remains a member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, and continues to serve as an adviser to Daniel Ortega, whom the Soviets planted in the presidency of Nicaragua in the 1980s.
According to Boff, Pope Francis will eventually rehabilitate all of the condemned liberation theologians from Latin America. Boff believes that Pope Francis is waiting until their old critic, Pope Benedict XVI, dies. “I believe that as long as the retired pope lives, he will neither reconcile nor redeem these theologians,” according to Boff. “But, when he is by himself, he will rescue the 500 theologians whose heads were severed. I believe this pope is capable of dismantling this machine of punishment and control, and leave it to the local churches.”
A Radical Pontificate
After only four years of his pontificate, Francis has emerged as one of the most political popes in the history of the Church. His left-wing activism is relentless, ranging across causes from the promotion of global warming theory to support for amnesty and open borders to the abolition of lifetime imprisonment. That alone would make this papacy historically significant. But the ambitions of Pope Francis go well beyond an unusually aggressive political dilettantism. As this book will detail, he is not only championing the radical political agenda of the global left but also subverting centuries-old Catholic teaching on faith and morals, evident in his unprecedented support for granting the sacrament of Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried and in his drive to dilute the Church’s moral and theological commitments.
At a time of widespread moral relativism and assaults on marriage, his 2014–2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family served not to strengthen the Church’s stances but to weaken them. For the first time in the history of the Church, a pope approved of Catholics in a state of adultery. He also authorized his aides to float unprecedented proposals in favor of blessing the “positive aspects” of gay relationships and couples living together outside of marriage.
Amidst this doctrinal confusion, many cardinals are beginning to feel buyer’s remorse. “The more he talks, the worse it gets,” says a Vatican official, who asked to remain anonymous, in an interview for this book. “Many bishops and cardinals are terrified to speak out, but they are in a state of apoplexy. The atmosphere is so politicized and skewed. The Church is becoming unrecognizable.”
“We haven’t hit bottom,” says an American priest interviewed for this book. He describes his parishioners as “distressed,” so much so that he carries around a list of all the popes to remind them that “bad popes don’t live forever.”
“I have never been so discouraged about the prospects for the Church,” an unnamed prelate said to Traditionalist magazine in 2015. In an interview with the Spanish Catholic weekly Vida Nueva, Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former head of the Vatican’s highest court who was removed from that position by Pope Francis in 2013, disclosed that “many have expressed their concerns to me” and that “at this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the Church is like a ship without a rudder.”
These are “dark times,” Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan has said. The liberalism of this pontificate, he argues, is exposing the faithful to “spiritual danger” and creating the conditions for the “fast and easy spreading of heterodox doctrines.”
“There are evident manifestations of uneasiness,” according to the Vatican correspondent Sandro Magister in an interview with Italia Oggi. “It’s beginning to look as if the cardinals made a terrible mistake when they decided that this particular Catholic should be a pope,” wrote the British Catholic journalist Damian Thompson.
“In the Vatican, some people are already sighing: ‘Today, he has already again another different idea from yesterday,’” the German philosopher Robert Spaemann has said. “One does not fully get rid of the impression of chaos.”
In an interview for this book, Michael Hichborn, president of a Catholic watchdog organization in Virginia called the Lepanto Institute, recounted, “I had a meeting with a bishop who turned to me and said, ‘How do you remain loyal to Peter when Peter is not loyal to the Church?’ He was genuinely confused and felt stuck.”
Such bewilderment leaves Pope Francis untroubled. He even romanticizes his reckless heterodox activism. “I want a mess,” he said at the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. “We knew that in Rio there would be a great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!” Many Catholics found this a puzzling goal to set for the Church. But his pontificate has undeniably lived up to it. “Mission accomplished,” quipped Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, in 2014.
Supremely confident in his chaotic course, Pope Francis is shrugging off the mounting concerns and delighting in his reputation as a socialist and modernist maverick. After Pope Francis early in his papacy decried capitalism as “trickle-down economics” — a polemical phrase coined by the left during the Reagan years that Francis frequently borrows — radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh commented, “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.” Talk show host Michael Savage called him “Lenin’s pope.” Pope Francis took such comments as a compliment. “I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” he told the Italian press.
His Communist Mentor
Pope Francis grew up in socialist Argentina, an experience that left a deep impression on his thinking. He told the Latin American journalists Javier Cámara and Sebastián Pfaffen that as a young man he “read books of the Communist Party that my boss in the laboratory gave me” and that “there was a period where I would wait anxiously for the newspaper La Vanguardia, which was not allowed to be sold with the other newspapers and was brought to us by the socialist militants.”
The “boss” to whom Pope Francis referred is Esther Ballestrino de Careaga. He has described her as a “Paraguayan woman” and a “fervent communist.” He considers her one of his most important mentors. “I owe a huge amount to that great woman,” he has said, saying that she “taught me so much about politics.” (He worked for her as an assistant at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory in Buenos Aires.)
“She often read Communist Party texts to me and gave them to me to read. So I also got to know that very materialistic conception. I remember that she also gave me the statement from the American Communists in defense of the Rosenbergs, who had been sentenced to death,” he has said. Learning about communism, he said, “through a courageous and honest person was helpful. I realized a few things, an aspect of the social, which I then found in the social doctrine of the Church.” After entering the priesthood, he took pride in helping her hide the family’s Marxist literature from the authorities who were investigating her. According to the author James Carroll, Bergoglio smuggled her communist books, including Marx’s Das Kapital, into a “Jesuit library.”
“Tragically, Ballestrino herself ‘disappeared’ at the hands of security forces in 1977,” reported Vatican correspondent John Allen. “Almost three decades later, when her remains were discovered and identified, Bergoglio gave permission for her to be buried in the garden of a Buenos Aires church called Santa Cruz, the spot where she had been abducted. Her daughter requested that her mother and several other women be buried there because ‘it was the last place they had been as free people.’ Despite knowing full well that Ballestrino was not a believing Catholic, the future pope readily consented.”
These biographical details throw light on the pope’s ideological instincts. Yet many commentators have ignored them, breezily casting his leftism as a bit confused but basically harmless.
“I must say that communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian,” he said in 2014. Such a comment would have startled his predecessors. They didn’t see communism as a benign exaggeration. They saw it as a grave threat to God-given freedom, as it proposes that governments eliminate large swaths of individual freedom, private property, and business in order to produce the “equality” of a society without economic classes.
In the early twentieth century, as Marx’s socialism spread across the world, Pope Pius XI declared the theory anathema. “No one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist,” he said. To hear Pope Francis speak today, one might conclude the reverse: that no can be at the same time a good Catholic and an opponent of socialism.
“Inequality is the root of all evil,” Pope Francis wrote on his Twitter account in 2014. One can imagine Karl Marx blurting that out, but none of Francis’s predecessors would have made such an outrageous claim. According to traditional Catholic theology, the root of all evil came not from inequality but from Satan’s refusal to accept inequality. Out of envy of God’s superiority, Satan rebelled. He could not bear his lesser status.
He was in effect the first revolutionary, which is why the socialist agitator Saul Alinsky — a mentor to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (who did her senior thesis at Wellesley on his thought) — offered an “acknowledgment” in his book, Rules for Radicals, to Satan. Alinsky saw him as the first champion of the “have-nots.”
Were the twentieth-century English Catholic satirist Evelyn Waugh alive today, he would find the radical left-wing political flirtations of Pope Francis too bitterly farcical even for fiction. Could a satirist like Waugh have imagined a pope happily receiving from a Latin American despot the “gift” of a crucifix shaped in the form of a Marxist hammer and sickle? That surreal scene happened during Pope Francis’s visit to Bolivia in July 2015.
Evo Morales, Bolivia’s proudly Marxist president, offered the pontiff that sacrilegious image of Jesus Christ. Morales described the gift as a copy of a crucifix designed by a late priest, Fr. Luís Espinal, who belonged to the Jesuit order (as does Pope Francis) and had committed his life to melding Marxism with religion. Pope Francis had honored Espinal’s memory upon his arrival in Bolivia.
Had John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI seen such a grotesque cross, they might have broken it over their knees. Not Pope Francis. He accepted the hammer-and-sickle cross warmly, telling the press on the plane ride back to Rome that “I understand this work” and that “for me it wasn’t an offense.” After the visit, Morales gushed, “I feel like now I have a Pope. I didn’t feel that before.”
Under Francis, the papacy has become a collage of such politicized images: friendly papal meetings with communist thugs like the Castro brothers, a papal Mass conducted under the shadow of the mass murderer Che Guevara’s mural in Havana, papal audiences with a steady stream of crude Marxist theoreticians and anti-capitalist celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, “selfies” while holding up an anti-fracking T-shirt, a pro-amnesty Mass said on the border between Mexico and America, a succession of sermons, speeches, and writings that rip into capitalism and tout greater government control over private property and business.
By pushing the papacy in such a “progressive” direction, Francis has become a darling of the global left. His program of promoting left-wing politics while downplaying and undermining doctrine on faith and morals has turned him into the ecclesiastical equivalent of Barack Obama. “Pope Francis is a gift from heaven,” the radical academic Cornel West said to Rolling Stone. “I love who he is, in terms of what he says, and the impact of his words on progressive forces around the world.”
Pope Francis, as liberals once said of Barack Obama, is the “one they have been waiting for.” The world is witnessing nothing less than a liberal revolution in the Catholic Church — a revolution that is emboldening the Church’s enemies and alienating her friends.
After 29 years of this great gift of priesthood, I believe I have heightened my sense of what the essentials are for priesthood …
1) Without a doubt the most essential duty of a priest is to bring Christ, in the Most Holy Eucharist, to our people.
2) A priest must be a man with a deep and rich prayer life. He must also go to Confession at least once a month (Actually, I think priests should go twice a month to be fortified in supernatural grace, since the devil hates priests the most).
4) A priest must make himself available “all the time” for the Sacrament of Confession. This means doing all he can to make people feel comfortable asking for this Sacrament. A line in the bulletin saying, “Call for an appointment” does not accomplish this, in most cases (People feel they are bothering the priest). This also includes preaching often on the necessity of this Sacrament. We need our people in a “State of Grace!”
5) A priest must be on call 24/7 to the bedside of any person in need of the Anointing of the Sick.
6) A priest must constantly study. Read, read and read some more.
7) A priest must be an effective and inspiring teacher. This is why #6 is so important. You can’t give away what you don’t have. Homilies are the usual format for teaching, but the priest can and should teach in other ways. Mini-courses, bulletin articles, etc.. I have a teaching website that I use for this purpose (romancatholicman.com). My website articles are then automatically posted to our parish website (stmarypb.com).
8) A priest prepares and administers other Sacraments (Baptism, Matrimony) with charity and fervor. A priest also prays for the dead, and prays with and consoles others at funerals.
9) A priest must lead people to discover and love the rich treasury of the Catholic Church … devotion to Mary and the saints, devotional prayers (especially the rosary), sacramentals, etc. Be generous in offering Eucharistic Adoration.
10) A priest must do all that he can (especially through prayer) to exude the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If these are missing in priests, who people look up to, they will seem unreasonably difficult for others to practice. The priest must make the parish seem like a second home for his parishioners, but that begins by his very persona being a home for others … easily approachable. This makes it easy for people to come to the priest for spiritual counseling.
You’ll notice I did not add the administrative duties that priests cannot avoid … the parish has to pay the bills, etc.. As an addendum, I would simply say that the priest must do everything he can to delegate many of these tasks to others. A highly qualified administrative assistant, a business manager, a building and grounds supervisor, a good finance council and a vital parish council … all go a long way to release the priest from becoming buried in administrative duties that can take away from the “Essential” 10 Elements listed above.
And, my advice to all priests: “Minimize Meetings.” And, make the meetings you “need,” efficient and brief. Before I wised up, I used to clown by using the old latin philosophical proposition “Cogito Ergo Sum” (I think, therefore I am) and I changed it to: “Meet-igo Ergo Sum” (I meet, therefore I am). Many long meetings not only drains priests, but it can throw cold water on the fire of the parishioners, burning them out for more essential activities in the parish.
I love, love, love, love being a priest, especially since I discovered the most essential elements of being a priest. For all of you young men out there. PLEASE consider it … IT’S AWESOME!! 🙂
CP&S Comment – It is no secret that our Catholic priests these days are suffering an increased amount of stress and overwork in many cases. It is indeed also no secret that recently many seminaries were nests of dissent and heterodoxy due to a ‘lavender’, Marxist infiltration, causing the loss of many great future priests who were turned away for being “too orthodox”. Therefore the encouraging signs of a slow but sure ‘cleaning up’ process by the new, more orthodox tendency of the younger generation…. and heroic, faithful priests (like this testimony given by the above author, Fr Heilman) are now giving hope to a lost generation.
Fr. Duncan Campbell O.P. helps us to see how Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, communicates the presence of God to us.
We say in the creed that Jesus is God. This wasn’t clear at all at first, even to his close friends and followers. He was their Rabbi, their miracle worker, their healer, and preacher; later, to those closest to him, he was anointed Messiah, the King to come, to rescue his People from slavery.
They would share the feelings of everyone at the time. God would be ‘on high’. He could be looked up to. He couldn’t be seen. For simple people, this would be because he is too far away. For more thoughtful people it would be because he is a spirit – something they tried to imagine, not in any place or time, but in every place and time; invisible, unknowable, haunting, even frightening. Other religions still have God like this.
Jesus was to show us that God isn’t like that at all. God loves us. He is our leader, our guide, our protector. Jesus talks about shepherd, and sheep – a very striking picture of this. It was already there in the Scriptures. One of the most popular psalms is ‘God is my shepherd’.
The picture of a shepherd can suggest many new ways of thinking about God. A shepherd would die, to protect his sheep. A shepherd would know his sheep, and his sheep, know him. A good shepherd could tend a great many sheep. He would be loved, by the owner of the sheep, for caring so much for them. With all this image of a shepherd, Jesus shows us what God is here to do for us.
It is striking then that he talks about himself. He says ‘I am’ – the very words God uses, to Moses, to introduce himself, at the beginning of the Jewish story of their life with God. This might not have been noticed – because Jesus talks about his Father. This loving way he draws attention, from himself to his Father, and talks about Father, and Son, and Spirit, shows a knowing and loving taking us right into the reality of God knowing and loving himself, the Trinity
When he insists that a shepherd would die for his sheep; that he would know and be known by them; that he would look for sheep needing shepherding; that he would gather them all to himself; it leads us right to the truth – about God – and Jesus.
God can’t die. A man can. God can’t go about, looking, for all the people who need him. A man can. God can’t make himself recognised, and understood, by people. A man can. God can’t make himself visible, to people loving him, and following him. A man can. It helps us understand the truth of what we say in the creed – God became Man. We have God, at work among us, in Jesus. The enormous extent of God’s work for us is shown, in the many men and women, loving, and following him, and working for him. He is a shepherd of countless shepherds now.
Today, unfortunately, we are lumbered with history. There are churches, sharp disagreements, and quite different understandings of Jesus. We have come far from the ‘one flock and one shepherd’, and the ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ that St Paul insisted on.
There are meetings now, with resolutions, of many previous disagreements. It gives hope for real unity. The friendliness and collaboration among us is Christian, but leaves issues unresolved, and people dissatisfied and confused.
The solution is in Jesus’ words – ‘listen to my voice’. We must each be willing and eager to know what Jesus wants us to be, what he wants us to do. We must be ready to follow wherever that leads. It would be important to know all we can about the real history and origins of our churches. To know our family history. Recount our own story. See possibilities for us. There are unpleasant facts to face. There is sin, and saintliness, everywhere. The reasons things happened we can come to understood. Knowing all this, finding the real Jesus, will help us enter ‘the one flock’, of ‘one shepherd’.
Jubilate Deo, omnis terra. Given up to joy in the resurrection, the Church sings her happiness and proclaims the glory of the Lord.
But the Easter celebrations on earth are only a foretaste of the eternal Easter; perfect joy awaits us in heaven, the crown of a faithfully lived Christian life.
The simple yet sublime programme of a life true to itself is mapped out by St. Peter. A traveller making for his heavenly home, the Christian, as he pursues his path on earth, continues to observe all the obligations of human existence; he knows that this is pleasing to God. The trials themselves have their part to play; they form our initiation into eternal life. Fully directed towards the final triumph, the Christian’s life is a struggle in which the victory already won in the person of our Saviour must be progressively consolidated in each one of us.
Shout with joy to God, all the earth, alleluia: sing ye a psalm to His name, alleluia: give glory to His praise, alleluia, alleluia alleluia. Ps: Say unto God: how terrible are Thy works, O Lord! In the multitude of Thy strength, Thy enemies shall lie to Thee. Glory be to the Father.
Epistle: 1 Peter, 11-19. Gospel: John 16, 16-22
May the sacraments which we have received, Lord, we implore You, be a quickening food for our souls and a protection for our bodies. Through our Lord.
It was just last week I wrote something similar. These diatribes are occurring with disquieting frequency. Yesterday’s occurred during Mass, when again the Pope decried the “rigid”: that is, those who abide by all the Church’s teachings. Have you ever noticed how many times he assails us, yet utters not one peep about those who play loosey-goosey with the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding faith and morals? Is all this “rigid is bad” talk part of a strategy to get us to swallow Amoralis Lamentia?
Three days earlier, we heard from him again about Jesus’s “tenderness” versus our “rigidity”. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall ever hearing about any saint going on so much about Jesus’s “tenderness”. I also fail to see how Jesus views our sins with tenderness. Our Lord hates sin for the dishonor it entails and for the harm it does to sinners. All this “tenderness” yammer makes Our Lord sounds like an effeminate sentimental squish. It’s almost blasphemous.
These are just the latest instances of him setting up false dichotomies between “rigidity” and “meekness/tenderness”. What I find particularly despicable is him accusing young Catholics of being “rigid”. Let’s face it; the young are dealing with a world that is literally hell-bent on dragging them from the One True Faith. They need to be strong, to be strident, to be the Church Militant. The operative word is “militant“. Our Lord did not establish the Roman Catholic Church to be:
* church mellow
* church mediocre
* church meely-mouth
* church milque-toast
* church mushy
Why on earth is the pope joining the mob who seek to undermine the very salvation of our young people? In fact, he’s doing that to all faithful Catholics and those who need a strong Church that does stand firmly, even rigidly, against the sinful snares and wiles of this sin-sick world.
Copies of a guidance document entitled ‘Made in God’s Image’, on homophobic bullying, from the Catholic Education Service are doing the rounds. It is going to be sent to Catholic schools soon but Mark Lambert has put the pdf on DropBox and made a few comments.
The document has both superficial and deep problems. Superficially, I’m suspicious of documents which don’t include the names of the people who drew them up, or indeed the name of anyone willing to take responsibility for it. This document has the logos of the CES, St Mary’s University, and the Aquinas Centre for Theological Literacy on it. Is it actually endorsed by these institutions? (Did St Mary’s ask its governing body to vote on it? I hardly think so.) Where does it come from? Who paid for it? Who composed it? No matter, the CES is promoting it, maybe that is all we need to know.
Again, this is a 37-page document on homophobic bullying, which sets out lesson plans for eight 50-minute lessons to be devoted exclusively to this topic. What about other forms of bullying? What about other forms of bullying which target ‘protected characteristics’ under English law? No doubt the CES has policies on all these things but there is no sense of an integrated approach here. How does this fit in with Sex Ed, Religious Studies, or anything else? It is not even clear what teachers are supposed to deliver these lessons, which make frequent reference to gospel passages, but stray into history, current affairs, and Sex Ed. In some places the reader gets the impression that it would be PE teachers who are most relevant to the issues raised.
But again, maybe that’s not so important. After all, I’ve no doubt homophobic bullying is perfectly real, and needs to be addressed in our schools. Here is a document which aims to do that. So how does it set about it?
First, some definitions.
‘Homophobic bullying is bullying that is based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bi people.’ (p3)
Homophobia is the fear, dislike or hatred of gay people. Bullying involves excluding, humiliating or threatening people. Therefore homophobic bullying is when someone is excluded, humiliated or
threatened because they are (or people think they are) gay.
A US government website on bullying gives us a more complete definition of bullying:
‘Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.’
It is worth noticing, then, from the start, that ‘Made in God’s Image’ proposes a notion of bullying which puts excluding in the first place, as opposed to unwanted behaviour, and ignores the question of power imbalance. According to ‘Made in God’s Image’, when someone weak wishes to dissociate himself from a person or group which is strong, the weak person is bullying the strong one. Let me say that again. When a weak and isolated child tells the in-group gang to go away, no he won’t join them, he is bullying them. This has pretty alarming implications.
Now, according to ‘Made in God’s Image’, what teachers and children should be doing instead of bullying is, naturally, ‘accepting’ each other and not ‘judging’ each other (p5). But there are limits. Those guilty of homophobic language and attitudes should not be accepted: instead, they should be, as the document puts it, ‘challenged’. This might seem fair enough, if they are bullies, but actually the document does a little sleight of hand here.
It is not bullies who the document tells us need to be challenged, it is people who exhibit homophobic attitudes and use homophobic language.
Thus, it gives as an example of ‘homophobic language’, ‘casual’ remarks between children such as ‘that’s so gay’, or ‘you’re so gay’; ‘those trainers are so gay’. As anyone who has had five minutes’ conversation with school-age children in a normal school will know, such remarks are not necessarily or indeed predominantly part of ‘excluding, threatening, or humiliating people’, let alone of ‘unwanted, aggressive behaviour … that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.’ It is commonly banter between friends with zero implications about the sexuality of anyone. It may be very regrettable that the word ‘gay’ has negative connotations, but if we are ‘challenging’ a child who uses it in this way to a friend we are not, by that fact, challenging an example of homophobic bullying. No bullying was taking place.
The same is true of a later example. A father watching TV with his daughter remarks (p22):
‘These gays are all over the TV nowadays. It’s like they’re taking over. I’ve got no problem with them, but they don’t have to shove it in my face.’
Who is this man supposed to be bullying? The celebs on the telly? Obviously not.Although the document gives examples of bullying as well, it is not bullying which is the real target here. Nor, in fact, is homophobia. The child who says ‘those trainers are so gay’ is not, necessarily, a homophobe: such a remark does not suggest, much less prove, that he or she has a fear or dislike of gay people. As noted, this use of language is, like the use of profanities, regrettable, but what is even more regrettable is the judging and labelling of children, to be followed by their exclusion, humiliation, and threatening, on the basis of their careless use of language.
The attitude of the father in the later example is not clear, because we don’t actually know if he is using the word ‘gay’ to denote orientation, lifestyle choice, or cultural and political advocacy. The very fact that he knows a media personality is ‘gay’ suggests that it is not just a matter of orientation. Celebs ‘come out as gay’, generally speaking, as a cultural and political gesture. However, the case is clearer in another example in the document (p26).
She sighs and says that Andrew is old enough to know now: Uncle Michael is gay and has been living with his boyfriend for the last five years. His mum is looking really upset. ‘That sort of thing isn’t right, Andrew, and I’m not having it – living with a man, for God’s sake! I wouldn’t be exposing you to that nonsense. He knows the family doesn’t approve of him and he just goes right ahead and does it anyway.’
Andrew is surprised, and even more confused. ‘So that’s why you don’t like him anymore? Just because he’s gay? Why?’
‘It’s wrong, Andrew. Now just leave it, will you?’
Here we have a clear example, and presumably it is supposed to be a clear example, of an attitude towards someone based on transgressive public behaviour. Uncle Michael has adopted a lifestyle at odds with the moral law, and Andrew’s mother does not want her son to be exposed to this behaviour. This is given as an example of homophobia.
The authors of ‘Made in God’s Image’ are playing a dangerous, if familiar, game. Fear and hatred of ‘gays’ is wrong, they say, and few indeed would disagree. The Church’s teaching on sexuality can still be taught in Catholic schools, they say: and isn’t that nice? But when it comes down to it, being influenced by that teaching just is homophobic. To distance oneself from wrongful public behaviour cannot, we are told, be separated from the idea of fearing and hating a whole category of people, on the basis that some of the people in this category might on occasion behave wrongly.
On the same argument, if Uncle Michael was a remarried divorcee having a string of affairs, then any objection by Andrew’s ‘mum’ to going round to see him with her children would count as heterophobia. Somehow the authors of this document would deny that this conclusion follows. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t have to make sense. This is gaslighting.
The classroom discussions proposed by the ‘Made in God’s Image’ (p22), are, for people eschewing all judgmentalism and accepting everyone as they are, extraordinarily manipulative. Having started from the assumption that homophobia is deeply bad, pupils are invited to discuss in small groups a series of possibly-homophobic scenarios. This set-up is bound to push the pupils to taking the widest possible view of homophobia. Who wants to be the one to say: ‘I don’t think this case is homophobic’, thereby providing evidence that they are themselves homophobic? What a gift to the classroom bully, whether child or teacher, any such evidence would be.
This document is not about combating bullying. It uses the real suffering of one set of bullying victims to justify using the extremely one-sided power relations between managers and teachers, and between teachers and pupils, to indulge in a bit of bullying of its own. It claims to be against judging people, but it advocates taking a child’s most careless word as evidence of moral failings. It claims to be about ‘accepting’ people in accordance with the teaching of the Church, but there is no acceptance of people who take seriously Catholic teaching on sexuality.
In pursuit of this agenda, the message of the Gospel is bent completely out of shape. ‘Made in God’s Image’ tells us (p.18) that Jesus refused to judge people and told us not to judge anyone. Nowhere can it be admitted that Jesus condemned the lake-side towns, Jerusalem, or the Pharisees, for their failings; that he said ‘For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son’ (John 5:22), nor yet that that he passed on this right and duty to judge to the Apostles, who would ‘sit on thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel’ (Luke 22:30); nor, indeed, that he said that sexual sins ‘defile a man’ (Mat 15:19), and exclude people from heaven.
The characterisation of the Pharisees themselves is grossly historically biased, and the references to ancient and modern Jewish practice (p17) could be construed as anti-semitic.
Nor can it be admitted clearly that Christ’s reaction to the ‘sinner’ who washed his feet with her tears was connected with her repentance of her sins. Instead, the children are invited ‘meditate’ on a version of the story in which this inconvenient word is not used, using techniques familiar to practioners of yoga and hypnosis (p19):
Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, take a moment to notice sounds around you and let them go. Breathe out any tension in your body and when you are ready, allow yourself to gently enter the scene from the story, …
I think Catholic parents at this point are entitled to ask the Catholic educational establishment: who gave you the right to manipulate my children and turn them against the moral guidance of their parents?
Pres. Trump signs Religious Freedom Executive Order May 4, 2017.
By Pete Baklinski
Conservatives say it’s “woefully inadequate.”
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 4, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty this morning. The order, titled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” allows churches to speak about politics from the pulpit while keeping their tax-exempt status and it provides regulatory relief for ordinary Americans who don’t subscribe to gender ideology or believe in same-sex “marriage.”
However, religious liberty advocates say it does not go nearly far enough.
The Order was signed in the White House Rose Garden on the National Day of Prayer.
“Today my administration is leading by example as we take historic steps to protect religious liberty in the United States of America,” said President Trump during his speech.
“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore. And we will never ever stand for religious discrimination. Never ever,” he said.
Read executive order “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” here.
During his speech, the president called up to the stage the Little Sisters of the Poor who were forced under the Obama administration HHS Mandate to pay for contraceptives for their employees.
Come on up here sister,” Trump says, inviting Little Sisters of the Poor to the podium to shake his hand. May 4, 2017.
The President said that “for too long the federal government has used the power of the state as a weapon against people of faith, bullying and even punishing Americans for following their religious beliefs.”
“That is why I am signing today an Executive Order to defend the freedom of religion and speech in America, the freedoms that we’ve wanted the freedoms that you have fought for for so long,” he added.
“No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenants of their faith,” he said.
Trump called it an “eternal truth” that “freedom is not a gift from government; freedom is a gift from God.”
During a September 2015 campaign speech at the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition, Donald Trump said the “first priority of my administration will be to preserve and protect our religious liberty.”
Trump’s promise was largely in reaction to the sufferings of Christians across America who were persecuted under the Obama administration’s push for the homosexual agenda.
Under Obama’s mandate, Christian bakers, wedding photographers, florists, counselors, healthcare workers, bed-and-breakfast owners and many others have been fined or lost their jobs for refusing to compromise their Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality when asked to do so by homosexual activists.
During his Sept. 9, 2016 speech at the Value Voters Summit, Trump promised to “protect and defend” religious liberty.
CP&S comment – Father McTeigue answers the question in the affirmative; it cannot be otherwise. Catholics are in the world, but are not of the world. We should always bear in mind these words of Saint Paul: “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).
By Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
Success in this life is not found in succeeding in this life, but in getting out of this life successfully.
“Can you be homesick if you have no home?” Does that question strike you as odd? It was put to me by a friend who had relocated with her family for business reasons, to a location they haven’t warmed to even after a few years had passed. They’d been uprooted from a place they’re not likely able to return to—the place they had once called “home.” After a few years, they’ll be able to relocate—they don’t know where just yet—and already they’re wondering if they will ever call any place “home” again.
It’s part of human nature to desire a sense of belonging, of proper place, of familiarity and routine that combine to say, “This is where you belong—where you’ve always been meant to be.” Absent that sense of home, then, we can suffer from a homesickness that reminds us that we aren’t where we should be. Here’s the paradox: That very human feeling of homesickness can be contrary to our vocation as [Catholic] Christians.
Rightly praising God for this Earth made good, we Christians must resist the temptation (yes, the temptation) to treat this world and what we make of it as our true home. Wasn’t it that great wit, Samuel Johnson, who, upon seeing the magnificent Palace of Versailles exclaimed, “The trouble with a place like this is that it makes it too difficult for us to die!” In other words, the things of this world—whether base or fine, but perhaps especially the fine—make us want to remain in this world in order to possess the things of this world. That’s a foolish wish for creatures like us who are born to die. And it’s a calamitous wish for Christians, who are made for so much more than what this world can give.
Consider these words from Saint Bonaventure:
“Since happiness is nothing other than the enjoyment of the highest good, and since the highest good is above, no one can be happy unless he rises above himself, not by an ascent of the body, but of the heart.”
Success in this life is not found in succeeding in this life, but in getting out of this life successfully—that is, with our hearts set on that which is above, that which alone can fulfill our aching and hungry hearts.
How shall we live so that our hearts will be free for the happiness of Heaven? We can be guided by Saint Ignatius Loyola’s “First Principle and Foundation”:
“Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it. For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.”
Saint Ignatius describes a kind of freedom that the worldly cannot imagine, much less understand. Remember that in his autobiography, Ignatius only referred to himself as “the Pilgrim.” He knew that he was merely passing through this world on the way to his proper destination; he didn’t try to make himself at home in this world. Wise pilgrims travel light, carrying with them only what helps them on their way, letting go of what’s no longer useful, avoiding even otherwise good things that will only burden them on their journey.
Do we Christians understand that we’re wayfarers (that is, only those passing through), and not home-builders in this passing world? Do we conduct ourselves as pilgrims who set their hearts and order their lives for the sake of attaining their sacred destination? Do we have the vision and courage to admit that our homesickness is for a home we’ve not yet seen and cannot find in this life? As the Solemnities of the Ascension and Pentecost approach, let’s declare to ourselves, the world and God that we aren’t lost—we homesick Christians are pilgrims on our way to the heart of Our Heavenly Father, our only true home.
Ave Crux Spes Unica – Hail Oh Cross, Our Only Hope! The hope of the Cross is to know that things are never hopeless. If we deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him – (Matthew 16:24), then even in our darkest hour, our deepest despair, our greatest suffering, Christ’s Presence will comfort and strengthen us. Through the Saviour’s Cross (Passion and a Death), sorrow has been turned into hope… and, one day, everlasting joy (Resurrrection). Our own ‘crosses’, both great, sometimes unbearably great, and small (little daily trials, difficulties, penances, etc.) if offered out of love for God, with patience and faith, are turned into treasures stored up in Heaven awaiting us – (Matthew 6:20). “And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be” – (John 14:3). Man”s suffering has been swallowed up in the victory of Christ’s Redeeming Sacrifice on the Cross.
St Helena knew the incomparable value of the Holy Cross. Her real, historical, and enlightened search for the True Cross on which had hung the Saviour of the World, can be seen as an image of our own search (and acceptance) of the Cross in our lives. When we reject obedience to Christ and the Church’s teaching; when we shun sacrifice or the fulfillment of our daily duty; when we seek selfish pleasures at the cost of others; or when, faced with heresy, we cowardly avoid defending the Truth, turn from the defence of the unborn, the persecuted, etc. in order to make our lives easier, less complicated….. in all of these cases, we are tossing aside our cross.
Let us pray for the courage and fortitude of St Helena to seek with unfailing faith and hope the True Cross. Let us pray for a greater love for the Cross of Christ, and therefore, love for the daily ‘crosses’, we encounter in our own lives. May we learn to embrace both the crosses we are ‘given’ (the unavoidable ones), and those numerous crosses we are ‘offered’. May we see them for what they really are: priceless ‘gifts’ placed along our pilgrimage on Earth. If borne out of love for God, in atonement for our sins and those of others, this instrument of death becomes an instrument of life – life everlasting.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” – (1 Corinthians 1:18).
From Saint Andrew Daily Missal:
After the victory gained by Constantine by virtue of the Cross which appeared to him in the skies, and whose sign he reproduced in the Labarum, St. Helena, his mother, went to Jerusalem to try to find the true Cross. At the beginning of the second century, Hadrian had covered Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre under a terrace of 300 feet in length, on which had been erected a statue of Jupiter and a temple of Venus. The Empress razed them to the ground, and, in digging up the soil, they discovered the nails (Alleluia) and the glorious trophy to which we owe “life, salvation and resurrection” (Introit). The miraculous cure of a woman authenticated the sacred tree (Collect).
St. Helen divided into three the precious wood which had been “worthy to bear the King of Heaven” (Alleluia), which had merely been figured by the cross on which the brazen serpent was raised. One part was deposited in Rome in the church which on this account was called Holy Cross in Jerusalem the second in Constantinople and the third in Jerusalem. This last relic having been carried off by the Persians and recovered by Heraclius, this emperor solemnly brought it back to Jerusalem on May 3rd, 628. Covered with gold and precious stones, the Emperor suddenly felt himself held back by an invincible power. At this sight, Zacharias, bishop of Jerusalem, told him to imitate the poverty and humility of Jesus bearing His cross. Heraclius thereupon covered his shoulders with a common cloak and without further hindrance went his way.
Magnificat Antiphonal from 1st Vespers
O Crux splendidior cunctis astris, mundo Celebris, hominibus multum amabilis, sanctior universis: quae sola fuisti digna portare talentum mundi: dulce lignum, dulces clavos, dulcia ferens pondera: salva praesentem catervam in tuis hodie laudibus congregatam. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Cross, brighter than all the stars, famed throughout the world, lovely unto men, and of all things the most holy, which alone wast worthy to bear the ransom of the world: O sweet wood, O sweet nails, that bore so sweet a burden, save this congregation this day assembled in Thy praise. Alleluia, alleluia.
Introit: Galatians 6:14 & Psalm 66:2
Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi in quo est salus, vita, et resurrectio nostra per quem salvati, et liberati sumus, alleluia, alleluia. * Deus misereatur nostri, et benedicat nobis: illuminet vultum suum super nos, et misereatur nostri.
But it behoves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection: by whom we are saved, and delivered, alleluia, alleluia. * May God have mercy on us and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us.
Deus, qui in praeclara salutiferae Crucis Inventione, passionis tuae miracula suscitasti: concede; ut vitalis ligni pretio, aeternae vitae suffragia consequimur.
O God, who in the glorious Finding of the Cross of salvation didst renew the wonders of Thy passion; grant us by the price of the wood of life to win the palm of eternal life.
Refreshed with food from heaven, and quickened with the spiritual cup, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, to save from the craft of the evil one, those whom Thou hast bidden to triumph by the wood of the holy Cross of Thy Son, that chosen instrument of justice, for the salvation of the world.
The standard complaint against traditionalists, that we are demanding and obnoxious, has surfaced yet again in the Catholic blogosphere. This time it comes to us courtesy of the site Unam, Sanctam, Catholicam (a blog which I appreciate and enjoy reading on occasion).
In his most recent post, however, Boniface (the author’s pseudonym) addresses the perceived problem of rude & obnoxious Trads and the diocesan priests whose lives they apparently make a living hell. Two specific priests are (anonymously) profiled: one who was in seminary when Summorum Pontificum was issued by Pope Benedict, the other a pastor who was already learning the Traditional Latin Mass in 2007 when Benedict released his landmark motu proprio.
We are told in the article that the first priest has completely given up offering the traditional Mass and the other is on the verge of giving up because:
…the people who attended the traditional Latin Mass were so mean-spirited, so hyper-critical, just so obnoxious, that he eventually stopped offering the traditional Mass altogether…(he) wants nothing to do with the Latin Mass community.
In addition, the second anonymous priest states that the traditional Latin Mass attendees:
…were very loath to volunteer for any parish events or attend any other parish functions. He (the priest) made an interesting observation, and I’m paraphrasing, but he said, “It’s like the Latin Mass is a ‘fix’, something they travel around chasing. Looking for anywhere they can get ‘their’ Mass and then move on.” He felt like they refused to put down roots in his parish; they were takers, not givers. They have given him nothing but headaches.
I will address the lack of charity that (some) traditionalists can exhibit later but first permit me this brief rant.
This particular post at Unam, Sanctam, Catholicam (as well as many of these reoccurring digs against “obnoxious Trads” one finds on social media and on the Internet) always reveal a much larger and more prevailing problem in the Church today: the continued lack of support for the traditional Latin Mass.
The first priest profiled in the article states that he offered the Latin Mass “semi-regularly” before giving it up completely. I’m not sure about your catechism, but mine instructs that Holy Mass is a weekly obligation, not a “semi-regular” obligation. I know of very few Latin Mass communities that have ever flourished with a once a month (or semi-regular) traditional Mass.
Statistically we know that anywhere from 75-85 per cent of self identifying Catholics skip Mass on Sundays. In other words, the vast majority of Novus Ordo attending Catholics will not even drive ten minutes to their geographic parish for anyone of the three, four, or five times when Mass is offered each week.
Now, take those same Catholics and ask them to drive an hour, or two, for Mass and see how many even bother to show up. Traditionalists are regularly expected to load up their five, six, seven (or more!) children and commute 2-3 hours (round trip) for a once a month Mass. The expectation is unrealistic and uncharitable. And yet many make that drive, only to be criticized for not putting down roots and becoming more active in a parish that isn’t their own.
In all charity, I would ask those priests who offer the Latin Mass and are frustrated with traditionalists to understand that families who travel (in some cases) from other dioceses and past numerous parishes to attend the Latin Mass typically cannot make that same drive more than once a week. It simply is not possible.
Additionally, of course many are “chasing” after traditional Masses; this has to be done when TLM’s are only offered one Sunday a month at 4:00PM (or later) or on a “semi-regular” basis. Providing a stable location for the Mass will natural produce…stability!
As to the generalized characterization held by some priests that most of these traditionalists are rude, I would suggest this: open up availability to the Mass to your own geographic community. Quit creating the self-fulfilling prophecy of low attendance and fringe attendees by only scheduling infrequent Masses and at inconvenient times.
If you are a priest who understands the immense grace received from a Mass received from God and organically developed (with minimal change) over 2,000 years, then offer it right in the middle of your Sunday Masses as it is done at diocesan parishes like St. Mary’s in Norwalk, Connecticut or Holy Ghost parish in Tiverton, Rhode Island.
Please let us see if the Novus Ordo attending Catholics at your parish embrace the traditional Catholic Mass. Then what you will have is neither neo-Catholic nor Traditionalist, but simply Catholic, and those who are rude and obnoxious will be identified as such because of their personal character flaws and not because of the Mass they attend.
That being said, of course some traditionalists need to demonstrate greater charity toward their pastors. All of us, regardless of rite or form, must do so. Patience, reassurance, gratitude, and most of all prayers are owed to our priests.
Here let’s again note, however, that a priest who offers a traditional Mass one Sunday a month two hours away does not necessarily fulfill the role of pastor for these souls; their bishop has largely already failed them by not supporting wider availability of the Latin Mass.
Where the traditional Sunday Mass is offered weekly, there are several best practices that can be employed to help increase support and foster growth. They are, in no particular order:
Form a small committee of faithful attendees who will brainstorm ways to further the traditional Mass without stepping on toes;
Designate one or two leaders who will be (exclusively) responsible for respectfully making requests and offering suggestions to your pastor;
With permission from the pastor, establish a presence within the parish for the tradional Mass. This can be done via an information table or booth to provide literature, offer pre-approved handouts, and capture email addresses for future updates.
Work with Father to establish a schola, schedule educational sessions on the traditional liturgy, and to train servers for the Mass.
Encourage Latin Mass attendees to pray for your pastor: rosary bouquets, novenas, and acts of penance can be offered for those priests who have taken on the (often unpopular) role of a tradition friendly priest.
All of the above suggestions presume that you are in an environment supportive of the traditional Mass.
Unfortunately, for traditionalists it seems that the insults will continue until morale improves. It is a cross to bear no doubt, but it can be done with grace and charity. It must be done with grace and charity.
And, in the meantime, maybe more of the clergy and laity can stop looking for stereotypes when they see traditional Catholics and begin to see a group of faithful desperate for community, stability, and a parish home.