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The Truth About Mercy and Kasper’s Unfriendly Ghost

The Truth About Mercy and Kasper’s Unfriendly Ghost

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I. Doctoral Thesis incomplete

Long before the ‘Year of Mercy’ and the Synods on Marriage and the Family there was a doctoral student, whose specialization was marriage and the family, who attempted to make a comparative study between St. Faustina Maria Kowalska’s understanding of divine mercy, and that proposed by the great devotee of herself, Pope John Paul II. As the thesis was being written many things in the Church and the world happened and the student in question withdrew from the doctoral programme. He remembers discussing with an eminent professor over the question of the importance of the theme of mercy in John Paul II’s writings – this was before he (not the eminent professor!) was canonized. The eminent professor dismissed the notion of it being the central theme; for him the question of the significance of the human body in theological terms was the nucleus. They agreed to differ.

Benedict XVI ended that discussion, however, when he said that the theme of divine mercy was the ‘central nucleus’ of his predecessor’s pontificate.

There were various reasons why the student in question didn’t complete the task he had set himself: the first was his desire to spend more time with his children. Time waits for no man, and children don’t stop growing while parents are busy with ‘important things’. He thought that maybe in his old age – if God spared him – he would return to writing. He knows he’ll never be able to return to the most precious years of parenting.

The second reason was a recognition of his own inability to produce such a work. Some people can do; some can’t. He was in the later category.

And the third reason was that he could not reconcile some of the teachings of the two Polish saints. He felt as if he was betraying them both. His was a lack of appreciation that his own feelings had nothing to do with the facts that the Saints in question seemed literally worlds apart – even although their lives were deeply intertwined. Yes, they never met each other but her influence upon him was immense – long before the gaze of the world was on either the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow or, as he was later to become, the Vicar of Christ. She lived before the revolution of the 1960’s; he lived through it – even although gripped in Communist Poland at the time. She lived with the threat of Russia’s revolution spilling over into Poland; he lived through the horrors of the European dictators of the Twentieth Century. These marked his soul, while other things formed her soul.

Within the Church – he saw the glory of the Second Vatican Council, and its disastrous consequences; she saw many things known to herself and God alone. He had to promote what he thought was the answers to contemporary man’s problems but how many of his answers were from his own understanding of the events? Questions within questions; always more questions.

When it came to the theme of divine mercy she was not slow to speak of divine justice, and the manifestation of it in eternal damnation. He, on the other hand, shied away from this doctrine and flirted with a universalism. Furthermore, she did not live in a ecumenical age and so when it came to the question of baptizing a dying Jewish woman she did not think twice about it. For him, praying with pagan leaders at Assisi and encouraging world religions left a confused taste in the mouths of many. The evidence of her pre-Vatican II Catholicism can be found in her Diary; while his very modern post-Vatican II Catholicism leaves much room for head-scratching if one tries to read it in the light of the Church’s constant teachings. Much of what he says is superb but the doctoral student in question was puzzled. He was unaware of how much he had become an ultramontanist in his zeal for the Holy Father.

How could the differences in thought be reconciled by our dear doctoral student without sounding uncharitable; without sounding as if his two great heroes where not pulling in the same direction on the question of “the greatest attribute of God”? Were they really both singing from the same hymn sheet? The thought of being unfaithful to one or the other lay heavy upon him. Another soul would have to take up the task of considering the where compatibility or incompatibility between them lay.

II. Kasper’s Ghost

While carry out these studies the theme of mercy – if not ‘divine mercy’ – was becoming more and more popular within certain groups within the Church. There were those who for many years had promoted the devotions deriving from St. Faustina’s writings; and they had been helped immensely in their task by John Paul II’s obvious personal devotion. This pontifical support had set in train some serious work by scholars, and had also attracted the attention of a few eminent Churchmen at international congresses.

One surprising name on the scene of mercy was that of Walter Cardinal Kasper. His work on mercy , originally in German, was known to the doctoral student in question. When it was released it was one of very few works on the topic – mercy as a theological theme was not in the ‘popular’ category as Kasper himself noted. That, however, was changed when his contribution was taken up by another pope.

Providence moves quickly. Popes came and popes went. Millions of words where spoken – most of them to produce noise rather than the silence that leads to love, prayer, and service (as Mother Teresa used to say). Mercy quickly became the word. What it was, however, was suffocated in a culture of death and moral relativism. Within this there was also to be found theological relativism where doctrines were sidelined or re-written to fit with the passing moment. Every man in the street could tell you not to judge – it’s time for mercy – but nobody seemed able to judge as to what was mercy and what was not. Sound bites and Tweets ruled any attempt at discussion and analysis.

Was there an organised conspiracy to use mercy as the Trojan horse with which to carry out the blitzkrieg of the destruction of all that previous popes had work to defend? Was there a plan hatched by Godfried Cardinal Danneels and the Sankt Gallen mafia to use mercy (and smile while kissing babies) to win over the masses – and empty the Sacredness of the Masses – so that any attempts at a Catholic restoration would die in the water? Maybe. Danneels was no respecter of abused children so why should he be considered a respecter of the Blessed Sacrament? That may sound harsh but is it not harsher still to place a man whose indefensible defence of a child-abusing bishop in charge of a Synod on the Family?

It was in this milieu – and contributing to this cacophony of nothingness – that Kasper’s spirit (an unholy ghost for sure) spread like wild fire. Having received advertising from the highest authority on earth his ideas about mercy were promoted at every turn about. No matter that the book was critiqued and shown to be a promoter of a pseudo-mercy, the cat was out of the bag. The dove-tailing between Kasper’s errors on mercy and the question of Sacraments as a free-for-all (with the legitimization of practices that have been occurring since the rejection of the Church’s teaching on marriage and children since the 1960’s) fitted perfectly with a culture in which the idea of making a judgement about anything was considered dictatorial. Paralysis of the faculty of reasoning due to Nominialism’s long march through the institutions had finally reached the point were every man, woman, and child had become a guard of the revolution under the banner of ‘Love Mercy, Hate Justice’.

It was, and is, a long way from St. Faustina.

III. St. Faustina’s Hard Sayings

St. Faustina was a red head! Thankfully she wasn’t a red-hat. It’s probably not the most significant point about her but it brings a smile to the face. She was as tough as nails. Now, is that because people would have undoubtedly mention her red hair to her; or was it simply because she was red-head. Nurture or nature? Whatever, if she had been alive today, maybe a St. Catherine of Sienna would have kicked a few backsides – especially the red-hatted kind – into line on what is and what is not mercy.

She also loved to run. A reference to going running in one of her letters reveals this fact.

When it came to her love for Jesus she brought all of this to it – almost Pauline in her passion. What pained her most as she grew deeper in her union with Our Lord was seeing how much sin wounded Him. Her owns sins caused her agony because she knew how they made the One she loved suffer. This brought her to the point of asking Jesus why He didn’t simply punish sinners for their sins. Why did He not exercise His perfect Justice in a more manifest way? His answer is the answer that Cardinal Kasper fails to integrate into his work on mercy because of the error of universalism – the belief that everyone is going to Heaven. Like Hans Urs von Balthasar he thinks Hell is a divine concentration camp – a suggestion that totally misses the point regarding divine justice.

St. Faustina, on the other hand, gives a presentation of the truths concerning God’s mercy and His justice that holds these inscrutable mysteries in harmony. One finds her, for example, recording the following passage in her Diary, 1180. She writes:

When once I asked the Lord Jesus how He could tolerate so many sins and crimes and not punish them, the Lord answered me, I have eternity for punishing…, and so I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation.

Punishment. Divine Wrath. Divine Justice. Chastisement. They are not terms that are acceptable in many contemporary Christian circles. Indeed, a proper reading of St. Faustina would seem to be impossible without taking into consideration her difficult passages. Some may argue that her’s was a spirituality conditioned by its time, and that a ‘mature’ approach gives one a more enlightened understanding – an understanding which speaks of ‘Revelation [having] not identified the eternal damnation of any one concrete individual’ (Kasper). Well, if St. Faustina is trapped in a certain period of time, so too is Kasper, and what he said last week can be ignored. Such false reasoning ignores the truth, which does not depend on a certain period of time in order to be true. St. Faustina’s response to Kasper’s denial of punishments in Hell was just a firm as many of her other assertions:

Today, I was led by an Angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one’s condition will never change; the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it – a terrible suffering, since it is purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger; the fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies. These are the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like.’

I, Sister Faustina, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence. I cannot speak about it now; but I have received a command from God to leave it in writing. The devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God. What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell. When I came to, I could hardly recover from the fright. How terribly souls suffer there! (Diary, 741).

 With regards to the question of ecumenical dialogue one finds that St. Faustina doesn’t seem to think along the lines of many of Catholics today. Would she be accused, as St. Maximillian Kolbe has been, of being anti-semitic? No doubt she would be – even though the term never seems to be defined whenever it is used. Again, reason is slain by brute force. Those who have committed genocide have succeed in selling their ideas.

 It is the following passage that just doesn’t seem to fit with the drive toward a one world religion, or even just polite conversation; political correctness is slaughtered in this section of her Diary, 916. One can’t imagine it being used as meditation at an inter-religious prayer service. It reads as follows:

 In a private room next to mine, there was a Jewish woman who was seriously ill. I went to see her three days ago and was deeply pained at the thought that she would soon die without having her soul cleansed by the grace of Baptism. I had an understanding with her nurse, a [religious] Sister, that when her last moment would be approaching, she would baptize her. There was this difficulty however, that there were always some Jewish people with her. However, I felt inspired to pray before the image which Jesus had instructed me to have painted. I have a leaflet with the

Image of the divine Mercy on the cover. And I said to the Lord, “Jesus, You Yourself told me that You would grant many graces through this image. I ask You, then, for the grace of Holy Baptism for this Jewish lady. It makes no difference who will baptize her, as long as she is baptized.”

 After these words, I felt strangely at peace, and I was quite sure that, despite the difficulties, the waters of Holy Baptism would be poured upon her soul. That night, when she was very low, I got out of bed three times to see her, watching for the right moment to give her this grace. The next morning, she seemed to feel a little better. In the afternoon her last moment began to approach. The Sister who was her nurse said that Baptism would be difficult because they were with her. The moment came when the sick woman began to lose consciousness, and as a result, in order to save her, they began to run about; some [went] to fetch the doctor, while others went off in other directions to find help.

 And so the patient was left alone, and Sister baptized her, and before they had all rushed back, her soul was beautiful, adorned with God‟s grace. Her final agony began immediately, but it did not last long. It was as if she fell asleep. All of a sudden, I saw her soul ascending to heaven in wondrous beauty. Oh, how beautiful is a soul with sanctifying grace! Joy flooded my heart that before this image I had received so great a grace for this soul.

 Not quite the approach of the non-proselytising members of the Sankt Gallen mafia! Likewise, St. Faustina’s teaching on worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament. The laxity of the late Twentieth Century, and now the early Twenty First Century, would have undoubtedly caused deep suffering to her. As the Sacraments become more and more the property of those governing the Church-tax (legislation that ironically comes from an era when many German Catholics died for the Faith, and which now brings in 6 billion euros but ensures that those who ) St. Faustina’s words once more cut across the sophistry and line up perfectly with the Church’s constant teaching and tradition. She notes in Diary, 1288 that:

Today, the Lord told me, My daughter, write that it pains Me very much when religious souls receive the Sacrament of Love merely out of habit, as if they did not distinguish this food. I find neither faith nor love in their hearts. I go to such souls with great reluctance. It would be better if they did not receive Me.

 Surely, these words should make every soul who approaches the Blessed Sacrament tremble with Holy Fear, and repeat constantly: Domine, non sum dignum ut intres sub tectum meum… St. Faustina presents these words as the Church has done for centuries – words that are now being set aside by many. She continues in 1289:

 Most sweet Jesus, set on fire my love for You and transform me into Yourself. Divinize me that my deeds may be pleasing to You. May this be accomplished by the power of the Holy Communion which I receive daily. Oh, how greatly I desire to be wholly transformed into You, O Lord!

 It is union with God that she seeks – not public recognition. She isn’t interested in feeling welcomed. It is to be like another Christ, to be a soul stripped of all self-love, in order that other souls may find God’s mercy – this is all she is interested in since this is loving her Beloved. Careful reading of her writings show that she was prepared to suffer anything – even the sense of the absolute loss of God – if only to save a soul from the eternal fires of Hell. Deeply aware of the infamy of sin she is willing to be the victim with Christ who will bear the full weight of God’s justice, His own justice. She is united to Him, making up in her body and sufferings for the failure of so many members of Christ’s Mystical Body to live in accord with His will. If this means not receiving Christ – feeling nothing but the virtual pains of Hell – she is prepared to endure. She does not demand any right whatsoever. This is the heroic love that is called holiness. This is the love that goes beyond justice: it is what is called participation in God’s Mercy.

 The question that opens up here is this: where does John Paul II’s understanding of Divine Mercy fit with St. Faustina’s? Is it in opposition to her or closer to her than Kasper’s mistaken presentation?

 VI. The Riddle of Morality and Mercy

One wonders how God’s mercy has come to be an excuse for ‘having discerned peace with God’ when Christ’s commandments are not being followed. Is it really God’s voice that is being heard? Cardinal Kasper would claim he has had nothing to do with it – and one could gain that impression if one simply glanced at his work on mercy. And true enough, people have declared being at peace with God since time became while doing things that, to say the least, make one raise an eye-brow. So one cannot wholly blame the dear Cardinal. Is God’s name not invoked today to justify various acts? Do the perpetrators of such acts not claim to be at peace with God? Also, it should be noted that he presents a section in his book in which he tries to show that there is a such a thing as a pseudo-mercy. When he undermines God’s Justice, however, he either inadvertently or deliberately opens this way for the Trojan Horse he sought to slay. This is not the case with Pope St. John Paul II’s undestanding of God’s Mercy and morality. Here he is far closer to St. Faustina than Kasper’s attempt to be. The latter’s selective use of both of these Polish saints gives an impression of mercy that frames moral questions in a fuzzy, sentimentalists approach. Despite their weaknesses, John Paul II’s works do not do permit one to think that ‘being at peace with God’ is the criteria on which to judge the morality of an act. God’s name is invoked today to justify various intrinsically evil acts: do the perpetrators of such acts not claim to be at peace with God?

The most remarkable teaching given by John Paul II on divine mercy is found, surprisingly, in his seminal encyclical Veritatis Spledor, ‘Regarding Certain Fundamental Questions of the Church’s Moral Teaching’. In this work he affirms that there are acts that are intrinsically evil due to the object chosen. Yet, for all that has been said about this magisterial teaching, its most important section could be nn.118-120 where he concludes the work, dedicating it to Our Lady, the Mother of Mercy. It could be the most important because here one can see the ‘nucleus’ of his pontificate being applied to the living out of the Christian life. Noteworthy is that fact that the truth about mercy is not divorced from choices man makes in order to be happy.

Veritatis Splendor, nn.118-120 appears as a typical John Paul II act: ending his major writings with a turning toward Our Lady. Here one could ask: ‘Why in an encyclical dedicated to questions of morality – the philosophical and theological principles that guide good acts – did he invoke Our Lady under the title of “Mother of Mercy”?’ In almost 25years since this encyclical was written this question has never been extensively considered. Cardinal Kasper does pick up the title but his presentation and that of John Paul II’s only has one thing in common: the same words are used. There meanings are different.

The act of entrustment John Paul II presents involves giving ‘…ourselves, the sufferings and joys of our life, the moral life of believers and people of good will, and the research of moralists…’ to the Blessed Mother under one of her specific titles. Two reasons are then given as to why she is ‘the Mother of Mercy’. Firstly, because of who Christ is; and secondly, because of what Christ has done. Both of these stand in relation to the mystery of God’s mercy.

John Paul II explains that God the Father sent God the Son to reveal God’s mercy: the Incarnation, as such, is ‘…the revelation of God’s mercy.’ Christ the revealer is Christ the revealer of divine mercy. He was sent ‘…not to condemn, but to forgive, to show mercy.’ From that little phrase one can see that mercy involves forgiveness. Yet, John Paul II implicitly speaks of a hierarchy of merciful acts when notes that ‘…the greatest mercy of all…’ is a twofold reality: God Incarnate being among fallen man, and God Incarnate calling fallen man to union with Him through Faith. This is ‘…the greatest mercy of all…’ since it is God going beyond His own justice to give (to for-give) Adam and his descendants what they do not deserve. It is God defeating the greatest injustice ever committed, for in this act of Adam there was contained the rebellion that led to every sin against the justice of God (including the sin of killing Christ Himself). Yet, God’s justice is restored in Christ and even more is given: Heaven is opened, and friendship with God is offered. The guilty are invited to enter into the power of God-with-us: living by God’s grace in response to God’s goodness.

The wonder of the reality of divine mercy being rooted in the Emmanuel-principle becomes even more clear when St. John Paul speaks more fully about the relationship between mercy and sin. Having noted that the Incarnation is in part ordered toward giving fallen man the grace of the theological virtue of Faith, he then alludes to the exercising of the theological virtue of Hope when he notes that ‘…no human sin can erase the mercy of God, or prevent Him from unleashing all His triumphant power, if only [man calls] upon Him.’ Sin does not have the last word, and if man calls out to God in Faith (which God gives to the elect), hoping to receive due to the merits of Christ the forgiveness of all his sin, then he will be drawn into union with God. Remarkably, it is the horror of sin – the greatest of all evils – that becomes the snare which God uses to reveal His mercy. Evil is conquered. Death is conquered by death in Christ who, as St. Paul teaches, ‘became sin for us’. It is in Him, where man is reconciled with God, that the Christian places his hope. This is why John Paul II says: ‘…his mercy towards us is Redemption.’

Having touched upon the reality of mercy as redemptive love – God’s love for man lifting him from his sinful misery – Veritatis Splendor completes its implicit references to the three theological virtues by noting that it is the work of the Holy Spirit that gives souls the life to love in Christ. In other words, it is the Holy Spirit who places a soul in a state of sanctifying grace, in friendship with God, wherein it lives according to Our Lord’s teaching. John Paul II notes that, ‘The one who loves Christ keeps his commandments (cf. Jn 14:15). The commandments of Christ are kept because of the supernatural love that is poured into man’s soul through the sacramental life of the Church – it is the love that unites the soul to God. John Paul II teaches that this is God’s mercy towards man and this mercy, which is Redemption, ‘…reaches its fullness in the gift of the Spirit….’

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is a divine operation that draws man into union with the work of God – a work in which man responds under the influence of grace receiving both ‘…new life and [the Spirit’s] demands that [this new life] be lived.’ One notices, therefore, that the Spirit that is given in this ‘…mercy towards us [which] is Redemption’ is demanding. Indeed, one could say that Christ is demanding, not like a hard-task master but as the giver of Himself. It was He who said that His burden was heavy, yet His yoke light. Here, therefore, one has to note that John Paul II’s teaching is completely in harmony with the teaching of the Council of Trent which states that God cannot ask, and does not ask, the impossible of man. The work of justification is Christ’s gift to the undeserving sinner, yet it would be contrary to divine justice if God where to ask the impossible of man. Instead, the Pope notes that:

No matter how many and great the obstacles put in his way by human frailty and sin, the Spirit, who renews the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30), makes possible the miracle of the perfect accomplishment of the good.

It is possible to live the commandments of Christ because He makes it possible! In a way similar to the great truth about why one must believe what God has revealed (because He can neither deceive nor be deceived); so man must love what God commands (because He can neither command the unlovable nor be unlovable). Here is a principle of Christian morality seldom spoken of – God’s commandments are expressions of His divine love for man. They are filled with both His justice and His mercy.

John Paul II’s teaching shows that Christ is demanding – but he is not cruel. He knows what is in man; and he knows what man can do by the power of the grace He gives. Any good that man does – yes, ANY good – is due to the goodness of God. Without God’s aid man can only sin. This is why Veritatis Splendor speaks of ‘…the miracle of the perfect accomplishment of the good.’ Each good deed is a work of God in which man co-operates. Christ does not set ideals before man, rather He gives to man the graces through the Holy Spirit that make it possible for him to live up to His demands. According to John Paul II this work of the Holy Spirit gives: ‘… the ability to do what is good, noble, beautiful, pleasing to God and in conformity with his will…’ and ‘…is in some way the flowering of the gift of mercy….’ In other words, God’s commandments are kept due to the power of His mercy working in souls since it ‘…offers liberation from the slavery of evil and gives strength to sin no more.’

If one is left in any doubt that this is the work of divine mercy one needs only to read again VS, 118. God’s mercy is what makes it possible to live the commandments and it is only with this redemptive love that one can be faithful to Christ. It is this redemptive love that allows man to overcome the barriers built by ‘…human frailty and sin…’ since the Holy Spirit ‘…renews the face of the earth…’ by giving man the offering of freedom from sin. There is, therefore, no situation in which man cannot walk away from sin since divine mercy makes it possible for man to share in the God’s own life. Where God is there is no sin. As the Church has always taught: ‘Jesus makes us sharers in His love and leads us to the Father in the Spirit.’ Jesus – the Son who makes His Mother to be the Mother of Mercy.

Now, this traditional teaching found in Veritatis Splendor takes on a remarkable form when St. John Paul II returns to the theological virtue of Hope – the virtue that is repeatedly expressed in St. Faustina’s prayer, “Jesus, I trust in You.” (Interestingly enough, it could be argued that her main concern was to speak of the Goodness of God to poor sinners rather than His Mercy – which can be described as a manifestation of His Goodness. That discussion, however, is for another time). It is the virtue of Hope, ‘…the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit…’ (CCC 1817) that permeates VS, 119. For many, it will be remarkable to hear in an age of hopelessness – often disguised by a ‘false-mercy’ (a term explicitly used by John Paul II when speaking of euthanasia in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae) – that the sharing in the life of the Blessed Trinity, through the gift of divine mercy, gives to man ‘…the consoling certainty of the Christian Faith’. It is equally, ‘…the source of its profound humanity and extraordinary simplicity.’ These two features of the Catholic Faith (its ‘consoling certainty’, and its ‘extraordinary simplicity’) merit greater consideration – especially in the light of false teachings being given to poor sinners about being at peace with God even while contradicting His commandments.

The Gospel is simple. John Paul II repeats this teaching in the face of ‘….discussions about new and complex moral problems….’ He repeats it because, as he notes, ‘…it can seem that Christian morality is in itself too demanding,….’ Belief in this idea is contrary not so much to God’s mercy, as it is to His justice. It would be tantamount to claiming that God is unjust in asking man to keep His commandments. This has already been alluded to as being erroneous. The opposite of simple is difficult, but Christ does not give man something difficult even although he does place demands on him. What He commands is ‘…the simplicity of the Gospel…’ – this is Christian morality – and it involves the simple acts (engendered by grace) of ‘…following Jesus Christ,…abandoning oneself to Him, [and] letting oneself be transformed by His grace….’ Interestingly, the Holy Father also says, ‘…and renewed by His mercy….’ One could say, however, that it is the work of God’s mercy that brings about all the previously mentioned dimensions of the one act of following Christ. It is divine mercy that makes this simple; it is divine mercy – the light of the Holy Spirit – that makes it possible for everyone to understand ‘…the living essence of Christian morality….’

Before taking up the second reason why the Blessed Virgin is the Mother of Mercy, John Paul II already begins to point to this when he takes into consideration the fact that Christian morality is the morality of those who have received divine mercy ‘…in the living communion of [the] Church.’ In this communion the Gospel’s simplicity does not mean that the challenging questions of morality are evaded, but that one can see more fully the reality of life in Christ as that which gives ‘…the vital energy [i.e. the grace of God] needed to carry it out.’ This ecclesiologically lived reality involves the Church’s teaching body, which has the task of overseeing that:

…the dynamic process of following Christ develops in an organic manner, without falsification or obscuring of it moral demands, with all its consequences.

In other words, the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him – who should be in communion with Our Lord – have the duty to guard the Church’s inheritance and use it as the sure guide for situations in which Christians find themselves today. Responding to each situation involves responding to Christ: such is the duty of the Christian. This duty is summed up in the words already quoted: ‘The one who loves Christ keeps his commandments (cf. Jn 14:15).’ The simplicity of Christianity could be restated as simply loving Jesus. The Christian loves Jesus, and does whatever He asks. And when he fails to do so – by God’s grace – repents and begins to love again.

John Paul II takes up this implicit definition of what it means to be a Christian – one who loves Christ by keeping His commandments – in his short portrayal of the life of the Blessed Mother. She is the one who keeps His commandments and, therefore, ‘…obtains for us divine mercy.’ Her forgiving the killers of her Son, her docility to the Holy Spirit, and the openness of Her Immaculate Heart under the inspiration of God’s grace, brings her to the point of being able to ‘…embrace the entire human race.’ To her belongs that spiritual motherhood of the whole of humanity – a motherhood extending to every child of Adam, and especially to the those reborn in the life of the New Adam.

How does this motherhood allow Our Mother to receive divine mercy for all of her children? The answer to this lies again in Christian morality. Christ alone, is the One who has saved fallen humanity. It is His merits that are applied to the souls of the elect, making them worthy to stand in the presence of God. He is the first born from the dead. the Victor over Hades. Of all those who have followed, and ever will follow Christ, Mary is the model of life in Christ: she is the model of the Christian moral life. Quoting St. Ambrose, John Paul II notes that, ‘”…one person can serve as a model for everyone”‘. Our Lady is such a model due to her nobility – that which first inspires those who learn from someone else. She is the most noble of all creatures; the most glorious choice of God; the most free human person – since sin had no grasp on her. This Marian-freedom was ‘…lived and exercised…precisely by giving herself to God and accepting God’s gift within herself.’ She loved God; she kept His commandments. It is her life with Christ – carrying Him in the womb; raising Him at home; and sharing in His Passion – that shows what she has received. And what is given to a mother is implicitly given to her children for mothers are, by their nature, orientated toward giving everything to their children. How much more is this the case in the supernatural order. Does Christ not give everything to Our Blessed Mother in order that she may share it with us? Yes, she is given the fullness of divine mercy (the fullness of God’s love for man) in order that we may know of God’s presence among us, drawing us into union with Himself through her powerful intercession.

It is Our Lady’s fidelity on Calvary that is the act, or series of acts, that reveals her freedom in Christ, and how she shares in His ‘…supreme act of freedom….’ This is the complete sacrifice of her Son’s own life. One can say, therefore, that Mary’s fiat (her freedom in God) reaches its completion in her heroic act of accepting the death of her Son for the salvation of mankind. She did not understand every aspect of God’s plan, but she pondered the will of God – remaining faithful to His commandments – and so gave the example for Christians to follow. As Christ commanded so now does her example command us to follow Wisdom Incarnate by doing whatever He commands. It is this fidelity to Our Lord that announces love for Him.

Yet how does this make her the Mother of Mercy, the one who can give this to her children? Firstly, it has to be noted that she is the work of God. As the model disciple she is God’s creation. She is the Mother formed in the image of Her Son, by Her Son. There is nothing unnatural about her. In fact, she is more human than any other human person because sin was not permitted to wound her nature. Her Son protected her from the effects of Adam’s sin and so she did not labour under the effects of the first act of rejecting God’s law. Her suffering was great, however, due to her profound compassion for those who were wounded by sin. Her singular grace, however, was that her humanity was in no way diminished by sin.

It is this fullness that Mary has which is the key as to why she is able to receive divine mercy for her children. Having the advantage of being gratia plena, Our Lady is able to have compassion on those who are without this fullness, and from her fullness – a fullness that cannot be emptied – she is able to give to those who come to her. It is the mystery of Cana in Galilee repeated in the life of every soul who is brought from the death of sin into the life of Christ. As John Paul II puts it:

Not having known sin, she is able to have compassion on every kind of weakness. She understands sinful man and loves him with a Mother’s love.

Her Son, one could say, does not know how to refuse whatever His Mother asks – and she, in turn, only asks what is in accord with God’s will.

The Mother of Mercy cannot ask for a false mercy, or a pseudo-mercy that ignores what was paid in order for this divine mercy to be unleashed in the world. She cannot pretend that God’s commandments may be set aside; neither does she do so. As noted in Veritatis Splendor: ‘…she is on the side of truth and shares the Church’s burden in recalling always and to everyone the demands of morality.’ She is neither a rigorist nor a laxist – she is a Christian, one who loves Her Son and does whatever He commands. From her created fullness she is able to give a share in the compassion she has been given for sinners. The compassion she gives is true divine mercy.

Who receives this mercy from the hands of she who is the Mediatrix of All Grace? The final words of St. John Paul II in this encyclical contain certain fundamental points concerning the Church’s moral teaching giving an answer to this question. Once more it is within the context of she who knows the price that was paid in order to give God’s mercy to man. The words of the recent pontiff could be described as damming on certain ‘guidelines’ being offered to the Catholic faithful today. He notes that the Mother of Mercy – because of who she is, and what she has been given – doest not ‘…permit sinful man to be deceived by those claiming to love [man] by justifying [man’s] sin….’ Such an act of falsehood would empty Her Son’s sacrifice of its redemptive power in the lives of those beguiled by falsehood.

Is this not where many have been abandoned today due to the false prophets of a form of sophistry that divorces the truth of God’s merciful-justice and just-mercy? The power and simplicity of Christian morality flows from the Cross of Christ, into the Heart of Mary, and to those who God has predestined to be sharers in His own life. Those who love Jesus reject any ‘…absolution offered by beguiling doctrines, even in the areas of philosophy and theology,…’ since, by the proper use of reason and by God’s grace, they know that these cannot make ‘…man truly happy….’ No one can be in a state of grace while acting contrary to Christ’s commandments. True peace, the harmony that comes from order, and which gives happiness to a soul, can be found only in union with Christ. As John Paul II notes: ‘…only the Cross and the glory of the Risen Christ can grant peace to [man’s] conscience and salvation to [man’s] life.’

Did Walter Cardinal Kasper ignore this teaching when he proposed that married couples who have left their spouses to enter into acts of sexual intercourse with some one to whom they are not married could receive the Blessed Sacrament? Maybe he did. Then again, maybe he never read it, or was not interested in it. He confesses to having not been aware of the importance of divine mercy in the life of the Church until someone asked him to give a retreat on it. Years of theology had not brought him to see why this topic is so central; and years around the pontificate of John Paul II also failed to reveal it to him. One wonders did he ever discover what St. Faustina was referring to, or did he simply take his own ideas and put them inside the word ‘mercy’? The later looks more likely, as does the response of most people to ‘mercy’. Neither John Paul II’s presentation of it; nor St. Faustina’s fits with Cardinal Kaspers. Theirs is closer to one another – although not fully in agreement – but neither of theirs is close to Kasper’s. Whatever spirit inspired his thoughts, it was not the Holy Ghost, but some unfriendly-mercy ghost. Why it has been released at this period in the history of Christ’s Mystical Body is known to God alone. Maybe St. John Paul II’s prayer to Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, may act as an exorcism to defend us against it:

O Mary,
Mother of Mercy,
watch over all people,
that the Cross of Christ
may not be emptied of its power,
that man may not stray
from the path of the good
or become blind to sin,
but may put his hope ever more fully in God
who is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4).
May he carry out the good works prepared
by God beforehand (cf. Eph 2:10)
and so live completely
“for the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:12).

“At Peace with God” – Universalism Victorious?

“At Peace with God” – Universalism Victorious?

Image result for Image of Martial Arts

 

Sometimes the things one hears cuts deep into the soul. And one is left without being able to respond.

The contemporary cultural phrase that ends all discussion is, “Well, that’s your opinion….” It takes the floor away from any search for the truth – or even an attempt to present it. It seems to be a cultural form of self-defence – like an intellectual Jiu Jitzu move? It seems to give one “peace with God”.

That, one thinks, would be unfair on the practioners of that particular Japanese martial art, which is highly effective – especially in its Brazilian form. They have courage to defend themselves against larger and, apparently, more formidable opponents. And they are willing to learn. The practioners of “Well that’s your opinion” seem to be afraid of finding out something. Is it the fear of being wrong? Or the fear of having to change? Or has Modernism sunk so deeply into everything around them that they believe all norms come from themselves? Has Universalism become their staple intellectual diet?

The reason for bringing up this point is that the present author has encountered more than a handful of souls throughout his life who have claimed to be at “peace with God” while also being involved in some very disturbing practices. Here are a couple of the situations he found himself in, when the only words he had were those directed toward God for help for some of this magical “peace”. I suppose he’s not the only one to have been there.

Firstly, there was the young nurse who worked for a profit making company who killed unborn babies. She was a regular Sunday Mass goer, and communicant. She said she was “at peace with God.”

Secondly, there was a member of prestigious ‘new movement’ who had used IVF on several occasions. She said she was “at peace with God.”

And thirdly, there was the soldier who said himself and his unit had blown up houses with old grandmothers in them, and then search them, in order to move forward safely. The presence of the elder or sick in such houses didn’t effect his decisions. He said he was “at peace with God.”

Finally, there have been countless contraceptors who have said they were “at peace with God.”

On the other hand, there have been other souls whom this author has known who have been tormented by their faults and who cried out to God for help.

There was the former soldier who – mistaking the present author for a priest – told of the murders himself and his fellow soldiers performed; killing men and burying them in their fields simply because of who they were. While in a drunken state he said these things before being directed towards Fr. Murphy.

Then there was the bishop who was unfaithful to his vow of celibacy. He turned on the present author one day, shaking as if from the effects of alcohol, before going to offer Mass. The sound of his car always running to assist his quick get away still lingers. Objectively his faults were many and his flock suffered immensely.

Finally, there was a priest-friend who was involved in the abuse of children. He told me of how, on the eve before his ordination, he confessed his moral failings to his spiritual director but was told it would be fine. The effects of 1968? He deeply wounded many children and their families – destroying trust immensely. His Archbishop sent him to a family run centre before he was caught. He received seven years in prison.

Now, who was at peace and who wasn’t? The soldier, the bishop, and the priest were not a peace – or, at least the didn’t claim to be. They were tormented by their faults. Was it a lack of compassion on the side of the Church that drove them to be tortured by their consciences? Or was it the stupidity of others that compounded it? Maybe they had never really heard the Gospel that their was a way out of their sins. Did God hear their prayers before they died? One hopes so. Did they find Him, the source of that true harmony called peace that comes from order? One hopes so.

And what about the nurse and the sweet lady from that prestigious ‘new movement’ who loves her IVF children? Why were they not tormented? Had they confessed their wrongs, or stopped being involved in them. They said they didn’t need to; their priests said they had to go by their conscience. God understood.

So there you have it. “Being at peace with God”: Real Life Stories. By some magic power maybe someone knows the gnostic secret carried by those who are at “peace” or maybe they discerned that it doesn’t really matter since God is merciful.

One wonders, therefore, is there now any need for hope, since there doesn’t seem to be anything left to confess. Hope, afterall, is the virtue by which one seeks that difficult – but possilbe to attain – good of eternal happiness in union with God.  If there is nothing left to confess then eternal happiness must already be in ones possession; God must have already bestowed one with the Beatific Vision. This, of course, is hyperbole. But if these are only rhetorical statements used for effect to try expose the dangers in the idea of discening oneself to be at peace with God even when one has to admitt the objective error in ones actions, where does all this lead to? Where is the differnce between “I’m at peace with God” and “Well, that’s just your opinion”?

“Being at peace with God” – the new norm – seems to come from oneself. Should the famous words, “Abandon Hope all you who enter here!” now be hung outside of confessionals since these a defunct? Or should it be rephrased: “You don’t need to hope in His Mercy – You’re already Fine”? For it is in God’s goodness that sinners hope – they hope to receive from His Infinite Goodness His Mercy, and so the forgiveness of all their sins. This why children were once taught to say often – so that it would become second natural to them to trust in God – this wonderful little prayer:

Oh my God, relying on Your almight power and infinite mercy and promises,

I hope to obtain pardon for my sins,

the help of Your grace,

and life everlasting,

through the merits of Jesus Christ,

my Lord and Redeemer.

 

Has this also gone the way of all that was taught before. Is it ‘Universalism Victorious; Catholicism No-More’?

Maybe this temporary defeat explains why confessionals are going cheap.

 

The Judge Alone Can Be Merciful

The Judge Alone Can Be Merciful

Funny how sometimes the penny just drops and you get it. Popular rhetoric calls it the ‘Ah-ha moment’. I once heard it attributed to Bernard Lonergan – the Canadian Jesuit philosopher-theologian. Whatever it’s provence the term seems to catch what is meant by ‘the penny dropping’ or ‘enlightenment’. Suddenly one sees the reason for something.

Basically, we all go from ignorance to understanding. There’s no shame in it; the shame would be in satisfaction with ignorance.

It may takes years of pondering something – just having it there as a little thought milling around in ones head. Most often it can be the nagging doubt about something not sounding quite right. Maybe some of us have more of these doubts than others due to ones temperament, or the suspicious attitude one carries toward a whole lot of things. Today people are often suspicious of any kind of authority – I susceptible to this – but I’ve wondered about it for long enough.  Then pieces start to fall into place.

If you want a revolution you’ve got to undermine the reigning authority – whether they are just or not. The original revolutionary was an angel, far more intelligent and gifted than any mere human person. His cry was, “Non serviam!” And ever since he has rebelled – not in a well thought out plan – against any legitimate authority whatsoever. He is the hater of all that is good, and he spins lie after lie after lie in order to try and entice fallen man to willing take part in his efforts to kill and kill, and kill and kill. What a pitiful creature. What a deadly enemy of every human being.

Now, I say this because often the Evil One is given more credit than God. Faith in God’s goodness, and His infallible plan, is often surplanted by the blind belief that the Devil has it all thought out – a master plan that God’s faithful ones will never be able to stop. A plan has God on the run. What a lot of rubbish! Here’s why.

The fallen angels are powerful spirits – they have immense intellects and wills – but since they have fallen from such a great height (being the creatures most like God) they have suffered the greatest damage in their fall. Satan is unable to construct ‘a plan’ due to the damage done to his intellect; all he can do – and all God permitts him to do – is to frighten us. He does this by seducing people into acting in such a way that destruction, despair, and death seem to be all that there is. He co-opts (through fear) as many souls as possible into his hatred for God and the just. The mistake? The mistake is giving him the credit for having some master plan. He hasn’t and is the most to be pitied. Imagine having lost so much.

What’s the evidence? St. John Vianney told him one evening to stop being childish – he was calling the holy priest, “Potato eater!” When pitied by Ars’s saint the Evil One screamed in annoyance and left.

Back to the point. Undermining authority – it’s the work ultimately of our mortal enemy. Hatred and destruction is what he is permitted to incite, but he has no idea where it will go. He simply smashes things (inside and outside of us) to drive us to fear. Once we are afraid then he has us in his grip. This is why the words, “Jesus I trust in You!” are extremely powerful when tempted. As he smashes he blames God – subtley suggesting that God is the cause of all our suffering; and that God does not care about us; and that God has no power to save us. And so man panics and tries to rationalise the irrational influences in his life. This leads to half-truths being raised up as the Gospel.

By God’s grace we are protected from this if we cooperate with this grace. We are able to see, even after long days of darkness, through the lie. One such lie is that surrounding the question of mercy and judging others but I recently had an eye-opener concerning this question.

Firstly, notice how everyone agrees that no-one can see into the soul of another and know where they stand before God. So, “Who am I to judge?” seems like a fair question.

Secondly, notice also how everyone agrees that mercy is what sinners have profound need for. So a Year of Mercy seems like a total gift to us all.

Problem? Yes. Well, not so much a problem as a difficulty. Authorities need to make judgements all the time. But if you want to undermine them you simply pull out the “Who am I to judge?” card, and that cripples the unknowing legitimate authority.

Secondly, every sinner needs mercy but to give mercy one has to make a judgemnt. So to smash mercy one has to fighten souls away from making hte necessary judgements.

Yes, to give mercy one has to make a judgement. How is this so? Well, the act of administering mercy is that of a superior who makes a judgement before going beyond justice to give that  gift which ‘raises man above his weaknesses.’ If one looks at the spiritual or corporal works of mercy one sees that the giver of mercy gives it from the vantage point of passing a just judgement and effectively saying, “Ah, this one needs this!” For example, to give counsel to those with doubts involves judging this to be the case. Instructing the ignorant involves judging that someone is unaware of something. While admonishing the sinner requires the giver of mercy to pass a judgement as to the serious nature of a sinners past actions or potential actions. To grant mercy one has to pass a judgemnt.

The same is true for the more popular corporal works of mercy. Indeed, maybe it is because it is so obvious that a judgement is involved here that it is easy to run straight to mercy and ignore the crucial step of judging that is involved in being merciful. This is what leads to a pseudo-mercy. Mercy, afterall, has both an affective and effective dimension: the first, is the feeling of sympathy for the person suffering from some misery; while the second is the actual going toward the miserable one in order to relieve the cause of the misery. Mercy flows from a heart touched by someones misery and into an action that seeks to relieve this misery. The move from feeling to action involves looking at the person and asking, “What does this person need?” And there again is the act of judging.

Seeing who is hungry and in need of food involves passing a judgement that comes to the conclusion, “This person is hungry….” Giving someone a drink follows on from judging that the person is thirsty. It would not be merciful to give an alcholic a bottle of whiskey satiate his thirst. Similarly, clothing the naked or harboring the harborless – these acts, too, involve judging the person’s need for something more than strict justice.

Without passing a judgement how would one be able to bury the dead? One would be in a Monty Python skit where the dialogue of madness would be something like:

“This man’s dead. We need to bury him.”

“What? How do you know?”

“He’s stiff. He smells. He’s off-colour. He’s got a bullet hole in his head. He’s not breathing. He’s been like this for days. He’s dead, ain’t he?”

“No he’s not. He’s having a nap. And anyway, don’t be so judgemntal. Who are you to judge? I’m in charge around here!”

Do you get the point? Mercy stands with judgement (and of course the judgement should be just). The two stand or fall together. I have to judge before I can be merciful. In a similar way, the poor priest who is called on to absolve sinners can only do so when he has judged that a sin has been committed, confessed, and repented of with firm purpose of ammendment having been promised. He doesn’t have magic powers that allow him to see a conscience truly at peace with God. He has to deal with the facts presented to him and make a judgement based on those facts as to whether or not absolution may be granted. The judge must make a judgement before he grants mercy. Indeed, the act of refusing to give absolution may be a greater act of mercy than the sinner may realise. The priest cannot be expected to act without exercising his faculty of reasoning.

So the “Ah-ha moment” I’ve come to see is that to be merciful one has to judge the situation, one has to be guided by the facts at one’s disposal. A judgement has to be made before that which is more than justice can be given. The Guards of the Revolution push either one side or the other of the justice-mercy reality. Depending on the age they will try to destroy by splitting them from each other. The penny has dropped.

Lord have mercy on us all.

 

The Forgotten Men

The Forgotten Men

He’s a dear friend, and speaks very much like many other men who have their story to tell.

His dad was hard working, but never really there. Work became a sign of what real men where about – work and straight talking. Calling a spade for what it is; and not taking any nonsense from anyone. He’ll admit to his mistakes – but not in a public way that looks for a sympathy vote. His is the stoical Scots-Irish way.

His life was that of loss for many years: he lost his faith; he lost his wife; and he lost his children. The world around him encouraged it all and he was too caught up in the Sixties-Seventies suicide mission to realise what was going on. His own family was swept away in it too.

He had been an altar boy growing up in the Sixties. And then his world collapsed..

He went to seminary but was considered ‘psychologically unsuitable’ – he believed in celibacy – so was “asked” to take some time out.

He married to a girl he grew up with; but that didn’t flourish. Their only child died at birth.

He drank and did drugs; and worked long days doing hard labour. He was a hard man – who put his fist where his mouth was when he had to. He lived a life of disrepute but held onto some things. “Never treat a lady like dirt”, was a principle he tried to respect. He met another woman who conceived a child by him – she had the baby killed before it was born. He begged her not to do it; he begged her. He passes her in the street some days. He still grieves.

He came back to the Faith in a round about kind of way. Then he began to piece things together. He was always intelligent, but now he could see he had been a fool to follow the fools of his day. He sees now how the castration of his generation took place, and how he willing put his manhood on the chopping block.

He still grieves. He grieves the loss of his family and neighbourhood. No-one in his family returns there any more. Too poor for them now. Too dangerous. He doesn’t notice it. It’s home to him.

No-one in his family goes to Mass. One sister is an evangelical pastor who hates men and Catholic bishops. His family-parish Church (it was Polish) is gone. There’s a sports centre there now to help the poor immigrants get the message It’s empty most of the time. There’s talk of it becoming a mosque. He sees the deficiencies of manhood in this too.

Yet, he does not despair – and he hates the presumption of most sermons he hears. He does not despair because even although he sees that the lost men are forgotten about, he knows that Christ is faithful to His promises. He chose twelve men to teach all nations the truth of the Catholic Faith, and he knows no matter how much men are rejected that it is only through their hands, and through their words, that the answer is given to any doubts he may have, and that his sins are absolved.

He cries after every Confession, rapped in the mystery of God’s justice and mercy.

He listens now – even with his poor hearing – for the sacred whisper of the Forgotten Men: Hoc enim est corpus meum.

And he knows he is not alone.

He does not refuse to answer when some one asks him something in charity; nor does he sound like a gong booming.

His “yes” is yes, and his “no” is no.  He lives now by the Credo he learned years ago.

The Vessel with the Pill – Who do You Trust?

The Vessel with the Pill – Who do You Trust?

 

Having completed another session in recitation of poetry with the little ones – they remember everything from ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ by Alfred Lord Tenyson, to ‘Jabberwockey’ by Lewis Carroll, and so much more – it is time to try something else.

“What next?”

“The Vessel with the Pessel!”, comes the cry from the balcony!

“Yes! The Vessel with the Pessel!”

It’s not actually a piece of poetry but the genius behind the composition, and more so the recitation, is well worth the effort. Being the melancholic-choleric, however, this piece leads me to think of higher things. Or should I say, more depressing things – the staple diet of the hopeless!

Yes, even something as hilarious as Danny Kaye’s brillance and humour can be turned into a mediation on the end of the world!!! How does one take this memorable scene from the 1950’s movie, ‘The Court Jester’, and turn it into another “read at your peril” piece? Here’s how. (And remember, you’ve been warned – this will be anything but jolly!).

What is at the heart of the scene?

Think about it.

Don’t you see it? Well, put on your melancholic “The End is Nye” spectacles and look again.

See it now? Exactly – total confusion. (Well, not total but bordering on it – if it were total confusion we wouldn’t see the humour in it).

It’s like a scene from the 2025 movie ‘Death of a Cardinal’, which will probably never be made but if it were it would show the utter confusion (and then subtle assissination) of the 2017 ‘give-us-the-Catholic-Faith-Catholics’. The confusion that arises from having been abandoned and left with almost no one to trust. Yes, Faith is of things unseen but since Our Lord instituted a visible-invisible reality called the Church then it is through the visible that the faithful move to the invisible, and when the visible head of the Church becomes ‘a source of confusion’, as one author recently said, then that which is crushed is trust,and what results is confusion. Confusion reigns were there is little trust.

‘The vessel with the pessel?’ He does not know which vessel – he doesn’t know what is to be trusted and what is not? Even more tragic: who can be trusted. It’s all a complete farse, of course, but doesn’t it sound like today?

It is trust that is no longer to be found amongst men and women. Woman’s March? Do you trust it? President Obama – did you trust him? Or now his successor – why is he hated? It’s because he’s not trusted. Who would trust a man who says he’s married three times? And how can you trust anybody if you listen to every voice claiming to be true? I can bring forward as many facts ‘for’ or even ‘against’ any one you can mention. I’ve heard people denounce Mother Teresa and exalt Stalin; I heard people exalt every single pope and denounce their own kith and kin. Today: no one is trusted until proven guiltly; everyone is guilty before the trial begins – except for those who are demanding the accused by hung. God has no chance on the internet!

So where has it gone? Where is trust? Are children now the only ones who trust? Yes, I suppose so – or those who have become like little children. And you know what, it seems like the dictatorship of relativism revolves around destroying the trust of children. The promoters of mistrust, the cynics, want to get a hold of them and indoctrinate them with a mentality of mistrust: don’t trust the police; don’t trust politicians; and especially, don’t trust your parents (or Catholic priests). Easy money.

But they never say to them: ‘Don’t trust those who are saying “Don’t trust!”‘ Funny that.

And why is it so easy to break down the trust of little ones?

One word: suffering.

Tell children how their suffering comes from a mean source; from someone who cannot be trusted. Quickly you can atheize them; smashing their hopes and dreams. ‘Life is a bitch and then you die. Eat, drink, and be merry…then kill yourself. There is no-one who will hold your hand while you suffer. God does not exist – and if he did he wouldn’t care about you!’ This is the diet they are fed. More easy money.

And it starts deep down, in man’s fallen human nature – the propensity to do evil (even when masked as something good like serving humanity simply for the sake of it). It is then compounded in the technological/medicalized age of contraception: man eat women, women eat man – and if anything lives between them, kill it. The culture of death in every home where contraceptive use turns the gift of the marital act into a form of mutual masturbation. Sodomised-sex flows from contraceptivised-sex as sure as night follows day. Trust? Forget it: this is smash and grab.

The vessel in the pessel is the poison of contraception. The multiplier of mistrust is the Pill.

Told you it wouldn’t be jolly.

Still, enjoy the movie!

Fit-A-Gain!

Fit-A-Gain!

 

Isn’t it great to feel alive – I mean, really feel it?

A few years ago a friend was in a serious car accident. It was a miracle that he survived. That’s when it’s great to have friends – they prayed like Carmelites and he pulled through!!!

When he walked out of the hospital six months later the head doctor smiled and said;

“Yes, Mr. Smith, I think only God in Heaven knows how you survived.”

But that wasn’t enough for my friend. He loved to run. He had been as fit as a fiddle before the accident.

“If you hadn’t been so fit you wouldn’t have survived either,” the doctor had also said.

So his goal – after being at home with family, after crying with his wife and children, and after thanking God for the little things – was to run in his hometown’s mountains. And he did.

It took him over a year, and by the time the next Spring came around, and the first snows were melting he ventured out alone. It was the being alone that he was afraid of; the fear of collapsing out somewhere in the hills after all he’d been through.

But he did it. And when he ran, slowly at first, but then with more pace, his heart was beating like a big drum. He could feel the blood pumping through him, and as he turned his favourite corner – over looking his favourite view – he cried out: “I’m alive! I’m alive! Praise You Holy Trinity – I’m ALIIIIIIIIIVE!”

“Oh, look Mum”, he then heard, “It’s Mr. Smith. He’s alive.”

It was his neighbours out for a walk!

He smiled. They smiled. And then they all laughed.

It was then that he realised: Being fit is a gain; and it’s good to be fit again – but being alive is even more wonderful!

I’m Not “catholic”

I’m Not “catholic”

Have you ever met someone who loves Our Lady, loves going to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, tries to get to Confession twice a month, and the Holy Mass daily, reads the Sacred Scripture often, and can quote popes, saints, and Church history as if he were talking to his mother? Not to mention being fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew – not to mention a host of languges picked up from his ‘travels.’ Seems like a pretty good Catholic – wouldn’t you think? Oh, I forgot, working with Mother Teresa’s people and being in the St. Vincent de Society are also features of his life. If you ask him, however, is a he a Catholic he’d say: “I used to be, but now I’m no longer welcome.”

It’s a remarkable response. If you ask, “What did you say?” or “Pardon?” or simply, “Why?”, you’ll hear an answer that leaves one wondering: “Is this true?”

Here’s what I heard recently, delivered in a calm, almost sorrowful tone, but one at the same time with deep authority.

“I used to be a Catholic. When I was little I was an altar boy and wanted to be a priest. Then things happened.”

I started to fear the worse, “Oh no, not another child abuse story.”

“No, it’s not what your thinking. All the priests I knew when I was a boy were great men. They were mostly Irish. Fr. Murphy was my favourite – he was our Parish Priest. He used to be a boxer, and when he was a young priest some local lads spat on the then parish priest’s cassock. Fr. Murphy punched them back into Mass! No, the priests I knew were all faithful. None of them ever taught rubbish, and they would always be there to hear my confession. I couldn’t have asked for more. Especially when home on leave.”

I began to realise there was something else.

“It wasn’t the priests that changed. It was ‘the changes’ that changed them, and they in turn changed every around us. I don’t think they meant it – well not the ones I knew. I tried to remain faithful even when almost everybody else left. Maybe it was because I was away so much that I could step in an out of the chaos. I think I’m the only one from my old school class – there were about 30 of us – who still comes here. I loved the Mass. I loved Adoration. But I was eventually told by some other priests: ‘Your being selfish with your narrow minded ways.’ I probably was. War can make one very selfish. I kept coming. I kept listening and hoping they were right. I even became a big pope promoter since I had a strange, non-Catholic, idea with regards to him. When we were little we learned to sing hymns that honoured the Pope and the Faith. The new priests (and the new lay people – people I thought were like me since they stayed) told me that those hymns were wrong. ‘The theology is wrong’ is what they said. We got new hymns, or I should say, ‘songs’. I kept coming, even although any half-educated Catholic could tell you the ‘theology’ of the new hymns-songs was anything but Catholic.”

Then he stopped. Tears were now in his eyes, even although he was still calm and measured. What was this all about?

“Then they brought in the ladders, and the work men. ‘We’re just going to do a few alterations to update things.’ That’s what the new priest told us. ‘So we’ll have Mass in the hall for the next few weeks.’ I kept coming.”

“And?”

“I kept coming even when they took us back to the Church for what they called ‘Mass’ – or rather ‘The Eucharist’. I kept coming, even although Our Lady’s statue was gone when I returned; and I heard people were told to leave their rosaries at home during the new mass. I kept coming when on leave even although the Tabernacle was gone, and even although the beautiful Crucifix was replaced by a figure of something unrecognizable. I kept coming. They told me the pope wanted it this way, but while on duty I couldn’t find it in the official texts that I would read in the original languages.”

When old people cry I don’t really know where to put myself. I’ve been with people in places of war. I’ve been with the soldiers who have told me of the atrocities they have committed. I have been with mothers’ whose babies have died. When old people cry, however, I feel a deep sense of hopelessness – as if their whole lives have been wasted; as if all wisdom is gone. When old soldiers cry I listen.

“Why do you still come?”

“I try to love God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength; and my neighbour as myself for the love of God. That was the Catholicism I was given from my parents and grandparents; from good teachers and good priests – but now I’m not ‘catholic’. I don’t see anything here left from what they gave to me. Maybe it’s my ‘dark night’ of the senses. God knows. What I know is that someone decided to do the things that happened here. What ‘catholics’ believe today is not what I was taught: they call it ‘Catholic’ but I call it ‘catholic’. How it happened I don’t really know, but the Protestant friends I grew up with now say to me: ‘Ah John, it’s good that you Catholics have become like us. We’re all God’s children.’ And I wonder, ‘Have we really become Protestants.’ I think so. The ‘catholics’ I know are ‘protestants’ but they don’t know it because they don’t know what protestantism is, or it’s more recent name of ‘modernism’. Fr. Murphy wouldn’t recognize the parish he lived and died for, and neither do I. But why do I keep coming? Well, when I was small I learnt three prayers – besides the usual ones: an Act of Faith, an Act of Hope, and an Act of Charity. I’ve learnt lots of things since but most of it is ‘straw.’ No one ever told me not to remember them, so I simple think about them when the ‘catholics’ are doing their thing. I remember that God is Three Divine Persons, and that all the Truths the Church teaches are from Him because He ‘can neither decieve nor be deceived.’ God is the God of principles. If the priest, or any other ‘catholic’ speaks rubbish I simply hear those words that remind me that God cannot decieve or be deceived. In fact, when I tried at one time to be a ‘catholic’ – especially with my papolatry – I hit a brick wall. I couldn’t make myself believe new teachings as if they were true. Neither my reason nor my faith would sleep with a contradiction.”

“And hope – how do you hope?”

“When I hear falsehoods I don’t dispair because I say: ‘Oh my God, relying on your infinite goodness and all powerful mercy, I hope to obtain the gift of Heaven, the means to achieve it, and remission for all my sins through the merits of Jesus Christ.’ My hope is not in something men will do, it’s what God will do through His Church. I don’t presumme on His mercy, nor do I despair about His Justice. They stand together. I’ll be punished for my sins – that is just and right. Life in this fallen world is a penal time, but if I trust in His goodness then that punishment will be filled with Mercy. It will be His grace that saves me if I persevere to the end. I’m not a ‘catholic’: I tremble at the thought of having to stand before God, because I have rejected so great a love. ‘Lord, I am not worthy…’ I keep coming because I’m not a ‘catholic’. God doesn’t change, even when change it is all the fashion. It is contrary to His nature.”

I was lost for words. “Does it make you sad, or angry? What do you feel about it all?”

He smiled.

“It’s not about my feelings. I have three obligations to fulfill. All my other ones are gone: my wife is long dead, the children are grown up, life is now in it’s winter years – I’m not expecting a phone call to go any more special operations. Yet, my obligations are what they always were – even when they more specified in marriage and fatherhood, and military service. I must know, love, and serve God. Those are the duties of every Catholic. It is the young ones I mourn for – they are no longer given principles from which to operate. Principles, those foundations for human actions, are being smothered in them. Nor are they given the divinely revealed principles on which to live lifes in accord with God’s law. He commanded me through the Church to live as I have lived. When I was a P.O.W. in the War – His principles were the same. It was the same in the Gulag, and later in Korea. When I was caught and held by the Viet Cong – I had His principles. All through my life I have had His principles from which to operate. When I acted against them I knew: my conscience passed judgement and, by His grace, I confessed my sins. When I saw others acting against them I confessed my sins, and heard my grandmother’s lesson: ‘Remember, John: there but by the grace of God go I.’ She had no modern theological ‘linguistic event’ contradicting her reason. My job was to work with men in battles, and not to leave them behind. I kept going because of His principles. Sadness? Anger? My feelings? They are not the measure of winning a war. It is God’s Church – they can’t destroy it. Souls are being lost because few are dying for them; few have the ‘perfect love of God and contempt for self’, as St. John of the Cross says.

“St. John of the Cross? Do you read him much?”

Again he smiled.

“Do you know what he said is the ‘exercise’ that is ‘the sum and root of all virtue’? He said that, ‘…the way of God consisteth…in one necessary thing only, in knowing how to deny [oneslf] in earnest, inwardly and outwardly, giving [oneself] up to suffer for Christ’s sake, and annihilating [oneself] utterly.’ As the iconoclasts destroyed the parish church I was given the grace to suffer with Our Lord. When they came for the altars and statues He drew me deeper into His Passion. When they destroyed the Sacred Music, He allowed me to share in His suffering the sounds of derision and blasphemous sermons. Hearing men cursing and screaming obsenities in battle cuts deep into the soul. When they refused to fight for marriage and the family – standing by as the children were slaughtered, the marriage bond attacked, and the marital act defiled – I remember men in battle who froze at the sight of death. It gave me a compassion for those who look for glory in the wrong places, and are seduced by the world’s promises of peace. There is no peace in this life: only the peace of fighting for Our Lord against ones fallen human nature, and being faithful to one’s duty. When they taught eutopian and banal doctrines I remember the imbecile tactics and commands given by career leaders. Their folly cost many lives, and I prayed for the souls of the dead – especially those still living but living in mortal sin. God gave it all to me. Why? Well, it is all being given by His Providence to lead me to Him. Even the present debacle: more non-Catholic teaching and behaviour being sold as Catholic. I’ve seen it all before, but it is still painful to watch. I must need more purification for my sins; and if not Our Lord will use the suffering it brings for the salvation of souls. Even to save one soul – would that not be the greatest feat any soldier could do in battle?”

“Surely you’re a Catholic, John”, I insisted.

Again that lovely old smile from an old soldier who had fought, and still fights, based on principles. (I always wanted to ask him about his life as a soldier but…somethings you don’t ask).

“Yes, I’m a Catholic, but not a ‘catholic’. I was left behind; no-one came back for me but I was never alone since my Guardian Angel stood by me. We were trained never to leave anyone behind – this was toughest in the jungle. ‘Never abandone your brother’, is what we learned.  Are there many Catholics left behind? Well, I don’t think they’re welcome here any more. I know they just smile at me – the old special forces man who still prays his rosary in Latin. I suppose it’s only the ‘being nice to each other’ that unites us now. It is certainly not faith and morals. Do you remember what they did with the Mass – I mean THE Mass – when it was finally recognized as being a treasure that could not be abrogated. Well, in this diocese and in most others, they played lip service to what fed our souls for generations. Even when we were fighting in Burma the priest did every thing possible to make it as truly fitting of the worship that is pleasing to God. Worship in spirit AND in truth! Those of us who asked for it to be restored to it’s proper place were laughed at, or accused of being devisive. Every other group is accomdated or should I say, given ‘pastoral accompaniment’ but old soldiers need not apply. It’s the principles that cause the problem. One bishop – a ’68er – said to me while laughing: ‘You’re too rigid, John – and the pope is saying it now too!’ I just replied, ‘He’s right, My Lord (he doesn’t like being called ‘My Lord’ so I call him it as often as I can!). Yes, the Holy Father is right – I’m too rigid, I can’t run my ten miles everyday!!! It’s those principles, or maybe it’s the genetic entropy!’ Smile and pray for him, that’s what I do. He was never taught how to spell ‘soul’ in seminary, so why should I think he’ll be interested in saving mine. Yes, I’m not a ‘catholic’ as the world sees it, as most of those around me see it, or even as that bishop sees it. I have been blessed all my life with so many graces and being a ‘left behind Catholic’ is also one. My hope  that as St. Joan (my patron in more ways than one!) said that if ‘…I’m not in a state of grace, He’ll put me there; and if I am, may He keep me there.’ Afterall, there are only two kinds of human souls: those in a state of grace, and those that are not. As a a Catholic, I know which state I want to be in when He comes for me.”

“What if the Pope against you?”

“I was a soldier most of my life. I recieved orders, and obeyed them, only when they were rooted in principles. It’s the same with any pope: if his teaching is not rooted in the perennial principles then it is not a teaching that can be believed – you cannot believe in ‘square-triangles’, or glasses of whiskey made out of cyanide. That’s the problem with questions of marriage today: the Church should have simply said when people were, as they say, ‘redefining marriage’, ‘Sorry folks – metaphysically impossible!’ Problem? Yes, reason has been abandoned, and so the Church has nothing to use to present the truth in season and out of season. I don’t worry about popes, however, since the Church’s teaching is clear. Benedict XV – one of my favourites – once said:

Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: ‘This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved’ (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim ‘Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,’ only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.

I keep coming here because I try to live that – without contradicting what Our Lord has taught through His Church for two thousand years.”

[The above conversation is based on various characters I have known. Does John really exist? Since ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers are not the ‘catholic’ thing you’ll have to take a Catholic answer: No! Is this piece reflective of what many people I know have encountered? Yes!]

 

 

When Does the BBC Push Children to Kill?

When Does the BBC Push Children to Kill?

I’m no fan of the BBC. I don’t think I ever have been. Maybe it’s because I’m a stingy Scot who doesn’t like to give money to groups that I have no interest in. Thankfully, because I don’t have a T.V. I don’t have to contribute to the propaganda machine known as the British Broadcasting Company.

Where does the animus come from? Well, early life experiences can form bad habits that go very deep. Glasgow was a strange city to grow up in. Catholics from Irish backgrounds were not allowed to be Scottish. The peer pressure was to be pro-Irish. Whatever that meant it didn’t mean respecting anything British. The BBC used to play the national anthem (‘God save our gracious Queen…’) at the end of every day when broadcasting ended. In many a home the T.V. was quickly turned off as invectives were hurled in its direction. What’s more the Union Flag was the one favoured by Glasgow Rangers Football Club’s supporters. Catholics need not apply. Most of this was pathetic.

The Irish thing – ‘armoured cars and tanks and guns’ and all that horror – was never far away. In fact, for some of our relatives in was litterally across the street. The BBC, meanwhile, were at the forefront of the propaganda against us – we felt it; we smelt it; we knew of it. They hated us and we hated them. God forgive us all.

As the years passed and I became involved in matters of justice (Amnesty International, CND, and the most important one of all – justice for the child in the womb) I began to join a few dots. Working in voluntary post as the media officer for a prolife group, I came to see how corrupt and corrupting the BBC tends to be. At prolife events – where we’d have the numbers in attendance (and the police would confirm them) the BBC always seemed to manage to half the figure. In interviews the pro-injustice advocate always received a big smile and more ‘air-time’ as they called it. Off camera it was amazing how the old pals act was everywhere. It was remarkable who went to school with who, and who was drinking with who. They didn’t give a tuppence about justice of any true sort. Parties, booze, drugs, and sex – oh, and a story for the Party on the side. And this was all before they convinced and conned people into thinking: “We are Media!”

“What does he think of the BBC?” I once asked a friend whose brother worked for them in London.

“Oh, he hates it. If you’re not living ‘the life-style’ you’re excommunicated. He says that the smell of incontenence pads in the elevator is sickening.” Some facts never seem to make it into ‘the news’ – like the cost to the British tax payer of certain ‘life-style’ choices. Still, the British tax-payer has blood on his hands too; the revolutionaries in the old Beeb have ensured that to be the case. It’s an old tactic from the old boys school, worked out to work perfectly every time. No one can fight the Polit Bureau’s central figures since they simply remind each clown in the mob of who has blood on his hands. “Smile boys, you’re on camera – our camera!” Caught.

A place where death and despair stawk the corridors of lust – lust for power; lust for fame; lust for dominance. Plastic people melting in the fires of self-absorption. Who will reach out and bring them the love and truth that they need?

The BBC is also a very subtle engineer of public consensus, using everybody and anybody to manipulate minds to think about nothing but what it has cunjured up. It is not surprising that George Orwell worked in Room 101 when he was part of the BBC. The latest double-speak is pure genius, as well as being wicked beyond imaging. How many lives it will destroy I cannot even guess at, but I realise the young man who was once known as Bradley Manning has immense need of the truth in order to be set free from the lies surrounding him – before it is too late.

Is there anyone standing up against these lies? Is there any one standing up for that little boy Bradley Manning. Justice and truth stand or fall together.

Watch the piece above again. Notice how cleverly the BBC twist a twisted man’s life and play along with the game they are saying is ‘normal’. First, it introduces Chelsea. Then a history lesson for all the children watching. [“Now, you who think you are boys and girls, listen to good old Mother Beeb – your fairygodmother”] ‘BORN Bradley Manning’ [“Did you hear that, children? BORN. Yes, that doesn’t mean anything really – remember your lessons in the factory. I mean, school.”]

Then the story of what ‘the low ranking’ member of the US military heriocally did – stole (opps!), down-loaded information. The point: the character being presented did something big. But this character is at this point neither Bradley or Chelsea. Even Mrs. Clinton is giving ‘air-time’, sounding sympathetic to the cause.

And now for the BBC genius: “Manning’s supporters said SHE was ‘a whistle-blower’.” The image behind these words read on the screen, ‘Free BRADLEY Manning.’ Oh yes, I get it now: Bradley is free when he is she. [“Are you all on the right page, children, page number 1984?]

[“Listen in for the rest of your lesson lemons,…I mean, children”]: ‘…after the trial Bradley announced she’d be known as Chelsea and live as a woman…’ [“Yes, children, it is as simple as that: you decide, no-one can tell you anything; don’t trust anyone…except good old you know who”].

[“Did you see how cruel they were to our dear Chelsea”]: ‘…she’d been held at a male prison…’ [“They didn’t respect HER rights. You must fight this attitude wherever you find it. Fight, I say, fight!]

[“Look at the way our dear sister fought and how she…”]: ‘…successfully lobbied the US Army for hormone therapy…'[“Remember you are entitled to everything – no-one is allowed to say, ‘No’, to you.”]

I wish I was making this up.

Is there any hope at all. Have the BBC and it’s CEO allies captured all of reality and are in the process of destroying everything. The answer to that is: “No! No! No! And a million other No’s!” Like all those driven by hubris there is always a chink in their armour. The armour of self-defence, built from fear. It is what will cause the whole pack of cards to collapse. The slip that leads to their down-fall (and it will come down someday, in God’s good time, since every empire will pass but His Kingdom) is where there is mention of the fact that during Bradley Manning’s trial his lawyers ‘said that their client was suffering from GENDER IDENTIFICATION DISORDER’.

Look up the name of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi – his work is in the area of G.I.D. They have tried to ban such acts of kindness rooted in the truth.

Someone will look it up, and someone will find their way back from the abyss. Reason will prove stronger than the invitation to irrationality proposed by ‘the good old beeb.’ Someone – even one soul who hears the truth abut how this disorder comes about, and what can be done to bring order into ones life regarding one’s sexuality – is a victory the BBC cannot prevent.

Will many survive this war for our children? Only God knows. Meanwhile the push for a blessing on self-hatred continues. The two attempts by Bradley Manning to committ suicide are mentioned in order to complete children’s lesson: “You are the final arbitar on who, what, and when you are. You are God.” The pushers of death are in our midsts – if we have T.V. Will Bradley Manning find himself again, or will he kill himself? The BBC’s answer is clear – “We will support him/her/it/whatever in whatever it/her/him decides!” It is the answer scripted by the BBC to be used by their men-lackies on another battle field.  Ask Bradley Manning’s Guardian Angel to help him.

You can hear that I’m no fan of the BBC but I pray for my enemies and those who persecute me everyday. The BBC are well up there on that list. God bless every one who is associated with it – may He open the eyes of the blind, and set captives free.

 

In the Face of Dubia – Charity, Charity, Charity!

In the Face of Dubia – Charity, Charity, Charity!

Did you ever think that you’d find yourself in a position similar to some of the great Saints? Maybe you never thought that you’d be living through a tragedy in the life of the Church as great as that faced by St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Bridget of Sweden. Yet, as these words are being written – words that probably will not make much of a difference and disappear off into cyber space – the Church is faced with a tragedy as great as any She has ever faced. The writing is on the wall: Catholics who consider themselves faithful to the Pope are firing off shots against each other. The situation of the four Cardinals, in this veritable ecclesiastical civil war, is very telling indeed. They are accused of being unfaithful to the vow of fidelity to the Holy Father by those who a few years ago were snubbing the very same sacred office. Interesting.

Now, it is pretty obvious to most people that there are lots of things being said that are not being said in charity – but since there has been an embargo placed on all judgements  the result is that reasonable conversation is in danger of being suffocated. This is even more so the case when a leading ecclesiastic makes the nominalistic claim that God can act in an unreasonable manner when it comes to basic arithmetic. Catholics, once known for both their intellectual rigor and chartity, are in danger of losing all sight of reality due to a personal opinion expressed rhetorically in a now famous question that shuts down the second act of the mind: judgement.

Has the present Holy Father many critics who are acting unjustly? Well, to answer this the present writer will need to ignore the famous rhetorical question. It, afterall, was a rhetorical device used to re-echo Christ’s teaching when He said, “Do not judge, lest you be judged” (Mt 7:1); or again when He says to the adulterous woman in St. John’s Gospel, “Has no one condemned you?” (Jn 8:10). Yet, Our Lord also instructed His followers to judge. He says in Jn 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Furthermore, he expects every priest to pass judgement on poor sinners in the confessional. How else will they be able to say, “By the ministry of the Church may God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins…”? You can’t forgive a sinner unless you judge him to be a sinner! Our Lord commands a just judgement. This is what must be given whenever one is called upon to make a judgement. Hopefully, the following words will be of this later kind of judgement.

Has the Holy Father been slandered by Catholics in recent times? Undoubtedly so. One priest I know intimated that this is being confessed to him regularly. Have all the Holy Father’s critics been slanderous? That would be unjust to make such a claim. Especially if that claim was directed against those who take very seriously the task they have been commissioned with to serve the Church. Take, for example, the work of the 45 theologians who critiqued thoroughly the recent Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. They were being faithful to the work of the theologian as laid out in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1990 Instruction. Indeed, their work was clear and precise in both it’s format and content – a breath of fresh air among much theological literature these days. Likewise, the questions raised by the eminent philosopher, Professor John Finnis, and his contemporary, the moral theologian Dr. Germain Grisez, are asked from the perspective of duty to the role they have in the life of the Church. For them, asking questions is part of their ‘job description’, so to speak, and anyone who says they shouldn’t needs to ask why it is then that theology is known as “fides quaerens intellectum” – faith seeking understanding. They are not asking questions in order to be obnoxious or facetious, but rather to assist the faithful in a clearer and simpler understanding of the great mysteries of the Faith. When they themselves are personally looking for clarification on certain points they have a right to turn to the Church’s bishops – the Teachers of the Faith – or even to the Holy Father himself. It takes humility to do so, and gives due respect to the sacred office of bishop. If they did not they would just ploughing ahead with empty words and be giving their own opinion. This is what many Catholics have been subject to in recent generations – the false opinions of self-proclaimed teachers in the Church. Recently, a theologian known to this author said he wouldn’t teach a course of Christian Marriage because he was no longer sure what the Church was teaching. This is not a sign of rigidity but honesty. The Cardinals’ questions when answered – if they are answered – may allow him to know where he stands.

Some have accused the Cardinals of unfaithfulness, or simply imprudence in their acts. In the Church, the Pope alone can judge them, and He has not done so. Maybe respects their right to ask when they think it is appropriate, so as to assist him in his duties. Likewise theologians who are presently divided over many things, but are united in the essentials, may ask in charity.  Some have reserevations about many things the present Holy Father has said; while others have concerns but not as many. Some see no problems whatsoever. So amongst the men (and women) who seek to give their intellectual genius to the service of the Church’s Magisterium – so as to assist the Bishops in their primary function of teaching the Faith – their is disgreement. This is not something completely knew. When it comes to how to address particular difficulties in a particular document they have various opinions, and they take various approaches.

What then of Cardinals Burke, Brandmueller, Caffara, and Meisner – are they acting contrary to their role as counsellors of the pope in the governance of the Church? To their credit they have acted with dignity in the face of accusations of heresy and betrayal, but that is an aside. Their role of counsellors is not made easy in an age of instant access to everything pope do and say. Can you imagine trying to keep up with recent popes? The poor Holy Fathers have said more things that will be forgotten than will ever be remembered, most of which has been personal opinion on everything from presidential elections to world soccer championships. Catholics have been subjected to, and often conditioned into, an understanding of the papacy that is far from what the Faith teaches regarding it. They are their own enemies on this matter. Ultramontanism (and now superstar papalolatry) are causing much confusion. One may even dare to say that those who have no love of the Faith are exploiting the natural Catholic tendency to be faithful to the pope. It’s easily done. Fortunately, the four cardinals are men of deep faith and erudition who know and feel the heavy weight of the oath of fidelity they have sworn to the Holy Father. This is why they take into consideration a distinction such as material heresy (simply being mistaken in a statement about the Faith) and that of formal heresy (the deliberate pushing of error when warned about the error). They are not shouting on the internet, “Pope Francis is an anti-pope”. Anyone who does is wrong.

One may think the Cardinals are overstepping the mark by asking for clarifications from the Holy Father concerning some things he has written. That itself is a judgement. It is either a false judgement based on a misreading of the facts or a even a rejection of them; or is it a true judgement. If it is true then the Cardinals are in the wrong. Since they have expressed themselves clearly, however, one must give them a fair judgement. They have neither spoken in an ambiguous manner, nor in a manner contrary to charity, but have instead simply asked for the sake of the Church that clarification be given to certain crucial questions. Others may have more questions; and others may be hoping the questions cause the bark of Peter to capsize; while still others claiming to be with the pope may be hoping to recreate the papacy in their own image and likeness in order to push forward some eutopian agenda. Claiming there are two popes, for example, is a novelty that Catholics can legitimately stand against by simply calling the former pope, “Bishop Ratzinger.” No disrepect is meant. There is, after all, only one visible head of the Church: a body with two heads is a monster.

The Church has seen nearly all of it before – and Catholics would do well to read more of their own history to know what can and cannot be considered the Catholic way of acting. The four Cardinals are in no way acting contrary to what the Church expects of them – they give  an example of charity, clarity, and courage. The later virtue being so sadly lacking in many leaders today.

The Cardinals’ carefully thought out questions are crucial to the very fabricate of the Faith. “Yes” or “No” answers to these questions all revolve around whether Jesus is true-God and true-Man. Every question concerning the Church’s supernatural treasurary of Faith touches upon this fundamental truth. If a Catholic cannot answer whether Jesus is God Incarnate or not with a resounding “Yes!” then the Church has serious, serious problems. Maybe the Cardinals’ request for clarity will assist others in answering as clearly as Our Lady did to the Angel Gabriel.

How is the Pope to act in the face of the current situation? The same applies to him as to any other Catholic called to teach the Faith: charity and clarity. But what if he’s not a philosopher or a theologian? What if he’s not a natural teacher? People may try to say the previous popes had advantages on these fronts. This is a characterture. The previous two popes taught the Faith – sometimes well, and in other places poorly. Their personal skills assisted them on some points but not on everything. The Holy Spirit didn’t speak every time either of them spoke. No pope has ever had the gift of speaking the truth all of the time. They do make mistakes, but fortunately all the various members of the Church Militant are able to give him a little nudge in charity – when the opportunity arises – and remind (or even educate him) in what pertains to the Faith and what does not. The relationship between the Teaching-Church and the Taught-Church, so speak, involves learning and relearning at times what is contained in the Deposit of Faith. Popes can forget the Faith; someone else can remind them of its contents. Popes can be mistaken on matters of Faith and Morals; others can – in charity ask him to think again. And if a pope pushes an error then a formal correction can be given in charity. It has happened before.

The four Cardinals are asking for simple answers so as to dispell the confusion. Bishops are consecrated to teach, and the Holy Father can ask for assistance in teaching clearly as the Supreme Teacher of the Faith. His own personal strengths and weaknesses as a teacher shouldn’t come into the discussion – there are enough people who truly know the Faith to be able to assist him. And if he really wasn’t sure, and was looking for divine assistance he could give ex cathedra statements in response to the questions being asked. That might seem a bit extreme but at least they’d be no doubt as to what was of the Catholic Faith. Yes, infallibility is a negative charism but it guarantees that under certain conditions the Pope, and Bishops in commmunion with him, will not teach error. It doesn’t guarantee that they will teach what they are supposed to when they should (or that they will not teach what they shouldn’t under other conditions). The Holy Father has everything he needs at his disposal to be able to teach clearly: it is called the Church.

Part of the Holy Father’s problem seems to be that there are those around him making silly statements which are of no help to anyone. Spin doctors and talking-heads do not seem to be assisting the Church in Her mission to ‘go out to the whole world and teach’ all that Our Lord has taught. Faith and reason seem to be lacking in many quarters. Prayer and fasting on all fronts may help – but the enemy has long since convinced Catholics that the Cross is not to be mentioned, especially in pastoral situations!

Catholics in previous ages often never knew in such detail of the divisions amongst leading churchmen, but today – as Providence would so have it – we have a ringside seat. Or maybe, its an internet-side seat! How should one respond? Judge justly. The old dictum taught in schools of theology stands firm: ‘in essentials unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; and in all things, charity.’ And for those who think the four Cardinals are causing division then maybe a little history lesson, courtesy of Youtube, might help clarify things. One wonders if a dubium should be sent to Cardinals Kasper, Marx, and several other German prelates who have backed a certain proposal from the very moment that the Sankt Galen ‘mafia’, as Cardinal Kasper boasted, got its man, to ask them if this is how the Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, the Bishop of Rome, the Servant of the Servants of God, the Primate of Italy, the Metropolitan of the Roman Province, the Sovereign of the Vatican State, and the Partriarch of the West, should be treated – especially by his fellow countrymen. Why have they all now become so pope-friendly? Oh yes, and as the dear Cardinal from Vienna would remind us, we have a genuine development of doctrine with a linguistic event that allows one – after careful pastoral discerment of course – to treat one’s Father in Christ as a piece of dirt. Shame on them! And this isn’t even half of the story.

Lord have your Mercy on us all, especially on me.

 

Man: The Judging Thing!

Man: The Judging Thing!

Sanity is seeing things for what they are!

Here’s something worth pondering. Read it for your children and their children’s sake. Read it to your children! For the sake of those you love (and even for your enemies) – get in touch with reality again:

‘This introduction [to St. Thomas Aquinas’s commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysiscs] concludes with a defense, against the Sophists, of the objective validity of reason itself, and of reason’s first principle, the principle of contradiction. He who denies this principle affirms a self-destructive sentence. To deny this principle is to annihilate language, is to destroy all substance, all distinction between things, all truths, thoughts, and even opinions, all desires and acts. We could no longer distinguish even the degrees of error’ (Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought).

For love of God, your neighbour, and yourself – live by the first principle. Man, afterall, in a judge of reality – not the maker. Get a life; judge in truth.