Note: The article immediately below was originally posted to the Menu on the left of this page. It has been significantly expanded and is now also posted here because of what I believe to be its central importance in answering the question as to what precisely we are to do in face of the present crisis.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary, The Rosary, And the Survival of Our Faith
“But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge, and The Way that will lead you to God. (Our Lady of Fatima)
One day, through the rosary and the scapular, she [the Most Blessed Virgin Mary] will save the world. (St. Dominic)
Let us be honest.
We now experience a situation in the Church (and obviously also the world) in which fear and trembling almost inevitably penetrate to the very marrow of our faith and charity. Virtually no one living only half a century ago could have conceived of a Catholic Church so weakened, stained with moral filth, outwardly compromised in the teaching of Christ’s Truth, and prostituted to the world as we now see before us. And, possibly most debilitating, no one could have imagined that this charge into a seeming hell of philosophical, theological, and pastoral disorientation would be led by a Pope (or Popes).
Christ promised a Church built upon a rock against which the gates of hell would not prevail. Much of what we now receive through our mind and senses testifies against such perpetuity – just as a scourged, spat upon, bloody, and crucified Christ appeared to testify against His Divinity, and His promises, on that day almost 2,000 years ago when He was put to death. It therefore creates a deep uneasiness within our souls which challenges us to the depths of our faith.
In this time of severe crisis, it behooves us therefore to passionately seek the answers to two questions: What is faith – what is the deepest nature of the act by which man possesses that theological virtue absolutely necessary for salvation? And secondly, what is the surest means by which that faith is protected and retained?
The definitive teaching on the nature of the act of faith is to be found in Vatican Council I’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith:
“Man being wholly dependent upon God, as upon his Creator and Lord, and created reason being absolutely subject to uncreated truth, we are bound to yield to God, by faith in His revelation, the full obedience of our intelligence and will. And the Catholic Church teaches that this faith, which is the beginning of man’s salvation, is a supernatural virtue, whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the things which He has revealed are true; not because the intrinsic truth of the things is plainly perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, Who reveals them, and Who can neither be deceived nor deceive. For faith, as the Apostle testifies, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not. (Heb 11: 1).”
It is quite easy to quickly read over this passage, to render assent to what it says, and yet never penetrate to the depths of the words contained herein, or to their implications.
However, this dogma was given to us by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of this Modern Age which has seen virtually every conceivable deception being thrown at the intellect of man in order to make the Christian faith appear impossible, irrelevant, and simply false. If we are not to be drawn into the vortex of this almost universal deception, it therefore behooves us to look very closely at this definition of our own act of faith.
What should impress us most powerfully and immediately in the definition of Vatican Council I is that all the truths contained therein proceed inexorably from that single truth which is proclaimed in the first six words: “Man being wholly dependent upon God…” Faith itself therefore must be seen as a Gift from God. This means that no matter what support the human mind and will may give to the sustenance of and preservation of our faith, they do not in themselves constitute the rock-bottom reality of what faith is. Moreover, the other side of this coin is the truth that to lose one’s faith is therefore not primarily a product of some sort of mental disorientation or gymnastics within the mind itself, but fundamentally a denial and rejection of the Gift of God. Spiritual, intellectual, and emotional disorientation may indeed constitute a temptation towards rejection of God’s grace, but such temptation does not define or determine the sin of unbelief in itself. Only the individual, in the depths of his own freedom, can choose to reject God and His Revelation.
The immediate effect of the acceptance of the gift of faith is the freely chosen act by which man submits his mind and will to God as He has revealed Himself. The above definition makes it quite clear that such submission is not to be equated with rational understanding. The act of faith is in itself a supernatural virtue expressed in that assent to God’s revelation made “not because the intrinsic truth of the things is plainly perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, Who reveals them, and Who can neither be deceived nor deceive”. The act of faith can, and therefore should, exist despite the most severe intellectual and emotional disorientations and tribulations.
It is important to be very clear at this point in our examination of the nature of faith that this definition has nothing to do with Fideism, a heresy often promoted by both Protestantism and Modernism. Fideism asserts that the human mind, under its own natural power and operation, can know nothing about supernatural realities. Faith is thus seen as truly blind. Vatican Council I, on the contrary, teaches very specifically that faith is not blind, and that “God, the beginning and end of all things, may be certainly known by the natural light of human reason by means of created things – for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made….” Here the Council refers to Romans 1;20, and St. Paul’s very precise words in this regard:
“For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.”
We may then rightly ask the reason why faith is necessary for salvation. The answer is essentially twofold. First, as taught by the Council, “because God of His infinite goodness, has ordained man to a supernatural end, viz., to be a sharer of divine blessings which utterly exceed the intelligence of the human mind”. Although it be true any man is “inexcusable”, even from the perspective of natural reason, who does not acknowledge the existence of God, yet there are many mysteries regarding both God and man which can only be known through Divine Revelation, and which can only be assented to through the supernatural gift of faith. Such, for instance, are the truths about the Trinity and the Incarnation. And since there is no salvation except through Jesus Christ, then clearly faith in such Divine Revelation is necessary unto salvation.
Second, as delineated by the Council:
“But though the assent of faith is by no means a blind action of the mind, still no man can assent to the Gospel teaching, as is necessary to obtain salvation without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Who gives to all men sweetness in assenting to and believing the truth….Reason, indeed, enlightened by faith, when it seeks earnestly, piously and calmly, attains by a gift from God some, and that a very fruitful, understanding of mysteries; partly from the analogy of those things which it naturally knows, partly from the relations which the mysteries bear to one another and to the last end of man: but reason never becomes capable of apprehending mysteries as it does those truths which constitute its proper object. For the divine mysteries by their own nature so far transcend the created intelligence that, even when delivered by revelation and received by faith, they remain covered with a veil of faith itself, and shrouded in a certain degree of darkness, so long as we are pilgrims in this mortal life, not yet with God: for we walk by faith, and not by sight.”
In other words, the supernatural Gift of Faith itself provides that “sweetness” of surety which no human intellect can provide in this life.
It remains for us to understand how faith can be so certain in the midst of the deepest darkness, and especially in the face of so much, both from the world without and the mind within, that would wage war against this certainty.
St. Thomas defines the act of faith as “an act of the intellect assenting to the Divine truth at the command of the will moved by the grace of God….” (ST, II-II, Q. 2, A.9). This is completely in accord with the Vatican I definition. However, even though much shorter than the Council’s definition, it penetrates deeper into the relationships between intellect, will, and grace which are integral to the act of faith, in which each must perform its proper function in relation to the others in order that faith be retained and preserved. We need have no concern in regard to the fidelity of God’s grace. We need always tremble and fear in regard to our own intellects and wills.
St. Thomas teaches that, absolutely speaking, when considering the makeup of human nature, the human intellect holds primacy over the will. We cannot will what we do not in some way know, and therefore we must understand the will as what Thomas calls the “intellectual appetite”. Further, our eternal fulfillment and happiness is to be found in that direct vision of God which we term the Beatific Vision – an act of the intellect ennobled by what theologians call the “grace of Glory”. Once in our possession, this direct Vision will ensure that our free wills never fall away from Divine Truth, or into sin and rebellion. The Beatific Vision therefore also determines the perfection of our free will, and therefore of all love.
In this life, however, the will can possess a certain precedence over the intellect. We now see only “through a glass in a dark manner”, and the intellect cannot therefore be gifted with perfect vision, and therefore certainty, in this life. In Thomas’ very descriptive phrase, it “remains restless”. Its understanding is partial: it can be confused, disoriented, and it can suffer much at the hands of all the passions. The will, however, with the aid of supernatural grace, possesses the power to perform that perfect act of charity, even in the midst of severe intellectual disorientation and doubts, by which it moves the intellect to certainty in the act of faith. This is why St. Paul could declare “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” In this life, therefore, our free will, moved by God’s grace, is the final determiner of salvation. It moves the intellect to assent. It is to this choice, and this grace, that we must remain faithful. It is here where certainty lies.
What should be most clear from all of this is that the fundamental grace of the act of faith is that which establishes a state of spiritual childhood in the mind and heart of the believer – that state which, according to the Vatican definition “yields” both intellect and will to God as He reveals Himself. This spiritual childhood is that root-act of humility, called by Our Lord “poverty of spirit”, which is the first of the Beatitudes, and the foundation of all the rest. According to the teaching of Thomas, it is to be seen as directly corresponding to the Gift of the Holy Spirit which is Fear of the Lord, and is the beginning and root of all other gifts which determine our growth towards Wisdom.
In many other articles I have spoken of the loss of Catholic faith caused by the penetration of false science into the depths of modern man’s intellect, heart and perception. Reductive science has undermined all the basic principles of human sanity: the Principle of Non-Contradiction; the concept of substantial being, and all that is integral to the concept of absolute and immutable truth. But even more fundamental, it penetrates to that deepest recess of the human soul where it chooses whether to look up towards God for the ultimate source of its knowledge, or whether it chooses, as the determiner of its own knowledge, to look below and within its own intellect. The fundamental temptation offered by Satan to man was that he would be like Gods “knowing good and evil” under his own power and faculties. In other words, such pride penetrates to the depths of the human soul, makes it impossible for man to recognize his own poverty, and therefore makes him essentially incapable of receiving the gift of faith.
This original temptation of Satan is now virtually a universal rule of life, according to the principle that anything which cannot be rationally explained is seen as detrimental to human integrity and aspirations. It began with original sin, blossomed into a mighty tree with the Greeks, inundated Christian civilization during the Renaissance, has grown geometrically with the “progress” of science over the past several centuries, and now threatens the entire human race with a Satanic pride which cannot even imagine kneeling to a God Who is the determiner of all Truth.
The Refuge of the Children of God
On the cusp of the exponential explosion of “scientific” hubris (pride) in the first part of the 20th century, Our Lady appeared to the three children of Fatima and told them that Her Immaculate Heart would be their refuge and the way that would lead them to God. The primary means by which this spiritual childhood to Our Lady was to be perfected was the rosary. During all six of her apparitions from May 13 through October 13, 1917 she instructed the children to pray the rosary every day. During the final apparition she identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary”, and requested that a chapel be built dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. During the “Miracle of the Sun” on October 13, three scenes appeared in the heavens (all three were seen by Lucia, but only the first was visible to Jacinta and Francisco): The first depicted the Joyful Mysteries with St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus, and Our Lady of the Rosary. The second consisted of a vision of Our Lady of Sorrows, and of Our Lord overwhelmed with sorrow on the way to Calvary, thus representing the Sorrowful Mysteries. During the third vision, Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth, and thus symbolizing the Glorious Mysteries.
Our Lady also revealed the Five First Saturdays devotion, requiring the recitation of five decades of the Rosary, and a fifteen-minute meditation upon one or more of the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
Our Lady, in other words, could not have been more clear or insistent as to what consecration to Her Immaculate Heart – and therefore that spiritual childhood which leads to God – requires. The Rosary is our refuge in the Days of Final Deception.
It has frequently and rightly been said that the heart and soul of the rosary is meditation on the fifteen mysteries themselves. This proves a great sign of contradiction to many people. Such meditation is a function of the intellect – of discursive thought and reasoning. It requires a state of concentration on specific facts and concepts which it is impossible to maintain during each Hail Mary recited one after another, decade after decade, mystery after mystery, day after day, year after year. And this is true even with the employment of something like a scriptural rosary. The mind – and the heart which follows it – has a tremendous difficulty being attentive in any really deep way to what might seem endless repetition. This can lead to a great deal of ennui (boredom, weariness, and discouragement). Thus the guilt which I think so many of us experience in relation to our praying of the rosary. We know, at least intuitively, that in order for Our Lady’s Heart to be our refuge, it needs to be that our hearts are engaged with Hers. This becomes very difficult for us to affirm in the midst of dull repetition, distraction, and torpidity. Yes, we initiate and say the rosary with some basic good intention towards God and Our Lady, but this becomes deeply vitiated if we do not somehow find a way to engage our mind, will, and affections beyond this basic “saying”. It would in fact seem very indicative of this problem that good Catholics often speak about “saying” the rosary instead of praying the rosary.
I would suggest therefore that the rosary is far more than just meditation, even though such meditation is integral and necessary for its recitation. I would be very skeptical about any method of praying the rosary which does not, at least in the beginning of a decade, focus at least briefly on the particular mystery and its meaning. But the rosary is a prayer which should engage all the many faculties of our soul, all the way up to and including those moments when these faculties become passive, but fully alert to the infused action of God.
I believe that the key to this deeper engagement is the Hail Mary itself. St. Louis de Montfort wrote, “St. Augustine, surpassing himself as well as all that I have said so far, affirms that in order to be conformed to the image of the Son of God all the predestinate, while in this world, are hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin where they are protected, nourished, cared for and developed by this good Mother, until the day she bring them for to a life of Glory after death….” The first part of the Hail Mary, in which we pray “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus” is not only an act which acknowledges the Incarnation of Christ, but should also be that moment when all our faculties, and especially our simple affection of childlike surrender, follow Christ into the Immaculate Heart of Our Mother, which is her spiritual womb.
St. Louis de Montfort also said that the Incarnation is the greatest of the mysteries of Christ’s life on this earth because it contains the grace and intention of all the rest of the mysteries. If that be true of Christ, then our surrender to spiritual childhood to Mary contains the grace and intention of following Christ through all the mysteries of His Life, and therefore through all the mysteries of the rosary.
The second part of the Hail Mary continues this prayer for total spiritual childhood to the point of our death. It has been said (from a certain perspective) that the grace of final perseverance is the greatest of graces, simply because it determines our final destination in Heaven or Hell. To pray, “Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” amounts to the total surrender of ourselves to the protection, nourishment, and care of Mary all the way through our lives up to and including that moment when all our faculties in this life are dissolved in death. It is, in a profoundly real way, the supreme act of total consecration to Mary, and therefore the following of Christ into eternity.
The key to this total consecration would therefore seem to lie in the simplest movement of our hearts in childlike surrender to Mary during each Hail Mary. It is this simple, affective prayer which moves beyond discursive meditation towards those moments of silence in which we may more fully experience the embrace of God. And should we become distracted, our return is as easy as a child turning, and once again looking at his mother. There is nothing complicated about it – nothing requiring the reconnection of the threads of a narrative or train of thought – but only the return of a child’s gaze. It is the simple “practice” of love, at which even the most foolish sinner can become better if he so wills.
The rosary, because of its structural content, is something that requires a certain time set aside for its proper recitation. It is clearly the will of God and of Mary that it be part of every person’s daily prayer life. It is the basis of our spiritual childhood lived within Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
It is my belief, however, that especially in these times of virtual universal disorientation and distress, the structured rosary, while indeed being the foundation of our personal prayer life, requires much more in order that such spiritual childhood be protected throughout the day. The rosary itself requires less than one-half hour. If this is all we do, then the rest of the day may well be surrendered almost entirely to forces which seek our spiritual death.
The Hail Mary, on the other hand, takes only about fifteen seconds. There is almost no limitation to the situations and times in which it can be prayed, even in the midst of the most worldly activity; in situations of temptation, anger, doubt, confusion, or even despair; and, especially valuable, as we are falling into sleep. Even if there is only time to pray “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee”, this provides a powerful means by which we may be affectively drawn into Our Lady’s Heart as her spiritual children. It is in itself, when said in the humble spirit of a simple moment of offering one’s own heart to Our Lady, a most profound act of love and consecration which flees from the world in order to take refuge in Mary’s certain and protecting faith.
Our Lord instructs us that we are “always to pray, and not to faint [lose heart]”. He further makes it quite clear that it is this heart which must be maintained if there is to be any faith upon His return (Luke 18:1-8). For us to truly take this seriously, we must first fully admit that we are extraordinarily vulnerable children who, especially in the overwhelming spiritual crisis of our time, must find refuge in Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, or perish. The rosary, and especially the frequent praying of the Hail Mary, is the gift from Our Lady to secure us in this certainty of faith.
To Release Love
In his encyclical The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, Pope John Paul II wrote that “suffering is present in the world in order to release love”. This is a statement that has haunted me for the past 31 years. It has become a principle necessary for my understanding of the crucifixion of the Church which I have witnessed occurring over the past 35 years since my conversion. It has pursued me in my own life, and especially in my children who I have watched grow from the innocence of childhood into being subjected as adults to the crucible of suffering which is this modern Christ-hating world.
It was Blessed Simeon who prophesied to Mary that “thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed”. This verbal image of Mary’s pierced heart calls to mind the artistic representation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, pierced by a sword and releasing the flame of love towards Christ, and towards all men and women created in His Image. The spiritual maternity of Mary is, in its most profound essence, the transforming of human pain and suffering into the light and life of Christ. When, through the praying of the Hail Mary, we place ourselves and those we love within Her Heart, we are therefore exercising the supreme mercy towards souls for the glorification of God.
The Rosary and the Hail Mary are not therefore primarily about focusing on our own personal sanctification, but rather about striking the fire of love upon the flint of our hearts hardened by the effects of original and actual sin. If it be true, according to Christ’s words, that we must die to self in order to gain self, then it must be equally true that in our prayer life it is in loving God and praying for souls that we are meant to be perfected in that love which cannot help but be our sanctification. If our prayers are beset by dullness it is most likely because they are, at least secretly, turned inwards primarily towards ourselves.
Focusing on self-love, even in the virtuous cause of self-sanctification, inevitably leads to the torpidity of spirit which is possibly the most constant effect of original sin upon our minds and hearts. Interiorly, we are all dull unless our hearts erupt into love.
This is why the “other half” of the Fatima message concerns the necessity of reparation. We tend to conceive of the Catholic concept of reparation only in terms of “making reparation” for offenses committed against God. But the term reparation is a relational term. Reparation is therefore primarily concerned with the militant effort to “repair” souls to God. This is the most profound way in which we glorify God and make “reparation” for the offenses committed against Him.
The Rosary and Hail Mary are therefore prayers of “repair” not only for ourselves, but for others. And since our own hearts are most easily moved out of dullness not only by our own personal suffering but by the sufferings of those we love (our spouses, children, friends, and the whole suffering Church and world), then the Rosary and Hail Mary prayed for those we love should be the means by which our hearts are set afire. It is in this fire that our hearts become one with Mary, and through her to Jesus: “I am come to cast fire on the earth: and what will I, but that it be kindled?” (Luke 12: 49).
The Rosary is a violent prayer, demanding a violent love. Our Lord said that “the Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent bear it away”. Such a concept may indeed come as a shock to those who envision the Rosary as a prayer predominantly consisting of peaceful meditations and gentle consolations. If, however, St. Dominic is correct in considering that it is through the Scapular (consecration to Mary) and the Rosary that the world will be saved, then we should be willing to seriously consider that these devotions necessitate the violence and “fire” of which Our Lord speaks.
The nature of this “violence” is unraveled by Our Lord in that same parable which contains the two passages we have already examined concerning prayer and its relation to the question of Our Lord as to whether there will be any faith left when He returns:
"And he spoke also a parable to them, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint, saying: There was a judge in a certain city who feared not God, nor regarded man. And there was a certain widow in that city, and she came to him, saying: Avenge me of my adversary. And he would not for a long time. But afterwards he said within himself: Although I fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this widow is troublesome to me, I will avenge her, lest continually coming she weary me. And the Lord said: Hear what the unjust judge saith. And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night: and will he have patience in their regard? I say to you, that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?"
We need to penetrate to the spirit of this passage if we are to understand Our Lord’s demand that we “always pray” and not lose heart, and the connection which this fervent and persistent prayer bears to the survival of faith.
The widow who is the object of this parable is clearly operating almost totally in the realm of passion – of vehement anger and vengefulness. Obviously, when considering what Christ is trying here to impart to his listeners, this is a metaphor for spiritual realities. We see this sort of figure of speech used often in scripture, as for instance when scripture speaks of God’s anger. God is not subject to sensible passions. The word “anger” is thus used as a metaphor for His judgment and chastisement. All the violent language used in this passage is therefore constituted as a parable signifying those “elect” who will retain their faith because they “cry to Him day and night”.
There is, however, another great distinction to be made between the widow and the “elect”. The widow’s cry comes naturally. She is consumed by passion, and her vengefulness consumes her night and day. She does not have to labor to make this thing come alive in her heart. This is not true of the “cry” of the elect.
The Rosary and Hail Mary are a cry of the will. They may sometimes be accompanied by sentiment or passion, but this certainly is not the norm, nor does it provide sufficient motivation for the “praying always’ commanded by Our Lord. In order for them to become habitual, we must make a very conscious commitment to militantly praying “day and night”. It is not enough therefore to sit back and rest in the fact that we “say” our daily Rosary. We must strive with all our heart to correspond with the unceasing love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This, I believe, can be accomplished by the constant effort to extend our daily Rosary throughout the day by the frequent praying of the Hail Mary. It is a work of love.
"Pray, pray a great deal and make many sacrifices, for many souls
go to Hell because they have no one to make sacrifices and to pray for them.”
Our Lady of Fatima (Aug 17, 1917)
I am leaving the two article posted in succession immediately below because of their central importance in understanding what has occurred within the Church in regard to the Synod on the Family, and also Pope Francis' environmental encyclical Laudato Si.
The Synod of Bishops,
And the Loss of the Catholic Mind
The website Rorate Caeli recently published an assessment by Bishop Athanasius Schneider (Astana, Kazakhstan) of the Synod on the Family’s Final Report. His article is certainly an excellent analysis of the Report's errors, deficiencies, and inevitable consequences. It is, however, deficient in its analysis of the roots of the mental and spiritual decay which have led to this crisis, and is therefore profoundly insufficient in providing the weapons necessary for winning the battle that must now be waged.
Bishop Schneider labels the attempt to find a way to admit the civilly divorced and remarried to sacramental communion as being “Neo-Mosaic” (Moses allowed divorce and remarriage because of the “hardness of their hearts”). He writes, “Yet during the Synod, there appeared those real new disciples of Moses and the new Pharisees, who in the numbers 84-86 of the Final Report opened a back door or looming time bombs for the admittance of divorced and remarried to Holy Communion.” However, while there almost certainly is “hardness of heart” involved in the fact that over two-thirds of the bishops voted for such “looming time bombs”, this is rooted not in a Neo -Mosaic mentality, but rather a modern intellectual and spiritual poison (unheard of at the time of Moses) which has profoundly vitiated the sensus fidei fidelium not only of bishops, but of the vast majority of the Catholic “faithful”.
The source of this modern poison is rooted in a surrender to modern reductive science, and to an evolutionary theory which destroys everything integral to the traditional Catholic Faith. Ultimately, therefore, it finds its most apt expression in the evolutionary-cosmic theology of Teilhard de Chardin.
The article The Synod of Bishops, and The Loss of the Catholic Mind, which I have posted below, constitutes an examination of the sources of this decay. It was written after the first part of the Synod in 2014, but is fully applicable after the Final Report of 2015. Immediately following this article I have posted my article Two Altars at the End of Time: Laudato Si: A Manifesto of Teilhardian Theology. I believe that Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment was in fact published prior to the Synod as part of the larger agenda to inculcate a Teilhardian spirituality in the sensus fidei. It must also be said that the Pope’s so-called “reform” of the annulment process constitutes an enormous step forward in the pursuit of this agenda.
I have also now posted my article The Truth of Mercy in my Menu on the left side of this page. It is to be found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/58. Unquestionably, the most effective tool used now being to undermine Catholic Truth is the claim of a falsified “mercy”. There is, however, no mercy where there is confirmation of Christ’s faithful in mortal sin, nor is there such in any teaching or pastoral practice which undermines Catholic doctrine. Those who propose such a mercy are simply scandalizing Christ’s “little ones”. According to the teaching of Jesus,
"It is impossible that scandals would not come: but woe to him through whom they come. It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones.” (Luke 17: 1-2).
I also strongly recommend reading my article A Living Host: Liturgy, and the Dynamics of Cosmic Evolution in the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Teilhard de Chardin (here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/40). It offers not only an in-depth analysis of Teilhardianism, but also an antidote to the superficial notion that Pope Francis and his papacy somehow constitute a radical discontinuity in the pursuit of this agenda. What is now happening has been long-prepared, and there can be no solution to the present dilemma without understanding its historical roots in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger and beyond.
The Synod of Bishops
And the Loss of the Catholic Mind
It is my belief that a widespread blindness and superficiality largely reigns among traditional Catholics as to the roots of the crisis which is constituted by the Papacy of Pope Francis, exemplified especially by what clearly appears to be his agenda in regard to the Synod on the Family. Presently, this superficiality would seem to extend to two primary errors. These errors, in turn, are prohibitive of that true understanding necessary to effect a solution.
The first of these errors sees the source of this crisis as being Vatican II and its consequences. When seen rightly, however, the negative phenomena of Vatican II and its aftermath are the cancerous excrescence which burst forth after a long infidelity and prostitution of the Church to the world, especially the world of reductive science.
The second error views the Papacy of Pope Francis as a unique abnormality, and pines for a return to the Papacy of Benedict XVI. This is a delusion which fails to understand that the words and actions of the former are the fully “natural” consequences of the philosophical and theological principles extensively laid out in the writings of the latter. As clearly documented below, Joseph Ratzinger was in fact a primary architect of the poisonous philosophical and theological thinking which has created this crisis. Traditional Catholics have been blinded to this fact largely because of Summorum Pontificum and the increased accessibility to the Traditional Latin Mass which this has enabled. However, if “having” the Traditional Mass did not prevent Vatican II and its consequences, it will not by itself prevent what is now in the making.
Most of what is contained here is to be found in my other writings. I have labored to bring them together in this present context simply as an effort to make a more concise argument as to the cause of our present dilemma, and the course which must be taken.
Three Foundational Principles:
What seems most extraordinary about the proceedings of the recent Synod on the Family is that it exposed the fact that the majority of bishops, while acknowledging the indissolubility of marriage, yet were willing to consider a pastoral practice which would readmit to Holy communion divorced and remarried persons. That such a position involved stark contradiction was noted by some commentators. How such a contradiction could come to exist within the minds of so many Catholic bishops (including Pope Francis) has not, as far as I have seen, been explained.
It is easy, I think, to fall prey to superficial answers to this question. It would be naive, for instance, to conclude that such a widespread phenomenon should be wholly attributed to the conspiratorial efforts of a few persons. Manipulation and conspiracy do indeed seem to have played a significant role, but they do not explain the submission of the minds and hearts of so many bishops (and presumably many priests and innumerable laity) to such self-contradictory folly.
It is also true that many explanations, while seemingly true, somehow do not penetrate to sufficient depths in order for us to be able to understand exactly how this has happened To conclude for instance that such stark self-contradiction is due to relativism offers little satisfaction in this regard. Something profound has happened deep within the sensus fidei fidelium in order to make such relativism (if we choose to thus label it) possible. We need to penetrate further.
The answer, I believe, lies in the almost universal loss or weakening of three foundational principles of all of Catholic thinking (and consequently all of Catholic dogma). These three principles are: 1) The Catholic concept of Divine Revelation; 2) the Principle of Non-Contradiction; 3) the Catholic concept of Substantial Being.
The violation of each one of these principles is amply illustrated in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. What follows is a brief examination of his writings concerning these principles. While his views are not unique, and are quite representative of a mushrooming process of philosophical and theological thinking during the 20th century and the first part of the 21st, it might well be considered true that he is the primary architect of a mode of presentation of these views by which they are promoted as “essentializations” (the alleged hermeneutic of continuity) of the faith, rather than radical departures or change. And if we consider the sheer volume of his writings, his reputation as probably the greatest living theologian, and the tremendous influence which his being elected Pope lent to the influence and dissemination of his writings, we are justified I think in considering him a premier architect of our present quandary.
Rejection of the Catholic Concept of Divine Revelation:
The first principle resides in the truth that God has revealed the fullness of His Truth to man in Catholic Revelation (contained in both Scripture and Tradition), and that this Revelation ceased upon the death of the last Apostle. It is this Catholic doctrine which is the foundation of the immutability of all of Catholic Dogma, and it is this which is denied in the evolutionary theology of Joseph Ratzinger. The following is from his 1998 book Milestones (he is here discussing his early work on Bonaventure):
“At this time [during the writing of his habilitation] the idea of salvation history had moved to the focus of inquiry posed by Catholic theology and this had cast new light on the notion of revelation, which neoscholasticism had kept too confined to the intellectual realm. Revelation now appeared no longer simply as a communication of truths to the intellect but as a historical action of God in which truth becomes gradually unveiled. Therefore, I was to try to discover whether in Bonaventure there was anything corresponding to the concept of salvation history, and whether this motif – if it should exist – had any relationship with the idea of revelation.”(p.104) [all bold emphasis mine].
Three pages later he reaches the following conclusion:
“I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of 'revelation', by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as 'revelation'. Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. Here, 'revelation' is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act, [read 'Dogma']. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of 'revelation'.”
It is first necessary to state that the basic thesis presented here – that the High Middle Ages (the 13th century) knew nothing of a concept of Revelation as being constituted by “all the revealed contents of the faith”, which are revealed by God to the intellect of man, is simply not true. St. Thomas, who represents the essence of 13th century theology, writes:
“It was necessary for man's salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God, besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: The eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for Thee (Isa. lxvi. 4). But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. (ST, Pt. I, Q.1, A.1.)
The above quote from St. Thomas comes from the very first Article in Question I of Part I of the Summa Theologica. St. Thomas was concerned to immediately establish the absolute foundation upon which our faith is founded – Objective Revelation. In fact, in the very first line of his reply found in the Second Article, he quotes St. Augustine:
“Augustine says (De Trin. Xiv. 1), to this science alone belongs that whereby saving faith is begotten, nourished, protected, and strengthened. But this can be said of no science except sacred doctrine. Therefore sacred doctrine is a science.”
Once Revelation becomes a matter of “gradual unveiling”, any individual doctrine sacrifices its claim to be “written in stone”, and therefore loses all absoluteness and immutability in regard to either its formulation or meaning. Further, once the “receiving subject” becomes “part of the concept of ‘revelation’”, then all of Revelation loses absoluteness and becomes subject in its content to finite individual subjectivity. All of Truth becomes a matter of the development of an evolutionary relationship between God and man.
Obviously, however, neither Joseph Ratzinger, nor any person who claims to be Catholic, can totally dismiss the importance of Catholic doctrine. While having lost its objective “absoluteness” in the act of faith, it therefore must be brought back in “by arts entirely new” (Pope Pius X’s phrase from Pascendi) in a relativistic and relationalistic role. The following passage from Introduction to Christianity ( p. 96-98) constitutes Joseph Ratzinger’s “art” in this regard:
“Our consideration of the history of the Apostles' Creed has led us to the recognition that here, in the baptismal formulary, Christian doctrine stands before us in its original shape and, thus, also in its primitive form, what we today call 'dogma'. Originally there was no such thing as a series of doctrinal propositions that could be enumerated one after another and entered in a book as a well-defined body of dogmas. Such a notion, which today may be difficult to resist, would have to be described as a misconception of the nature of the Christian assent to the God revealed in Christ [out the window goes the Baltimore Catechism, not to mention the Dogmatic Decrees of the Council of Trent].The content of the Christian faith has its inalienable place in the context of the profession of faith, which is, as we saw, in the form of assent and renunciation, a conversion, an about-turn of human existence into a new direction of life. In other words, Christian doctrine does not exist in the form of discrete propositions but in the unity of the symbolum, as the ancient Church called the baptismal profession of faith. This is probably the moment to look rather more closely at the meaning of this word.
Symbolum comes from symballein, meaning in English: ‘to come together, to throw together’. The background to the word's etymology is an ancient usage: two corresponding halves of a ring, a staff, or a tablet were used as tokens of identity for guests, messengers, or partners to a treaty. Possession of the corresponding piece entitled the holder to receive a thing or simply to hospitality. A symbolum is something that points to its complementary other half and thus creates mutual recognition and unity. It is the expression and means of unity.
“Thus in the description of the creed or profession of faith as the symbolum we have at the same time a profound interpretation of its true nature. For in fact this is just what the original meaning or aim of dogmatic formulations in the Church was: to facilitate a common profession of faith in God, common worship of him. As sym-bolum, it points to the other person, the unity of spirit in the one Word. To this extent, dogma (or symbol, respectively) is also always, as Rahner has rightly pointed out, an arrangement of words that from a purely intellectual point of view could have been quite different yet, precisely as a form of words, has its own significance – that of uniting people in the community of the confessing word. It is not a piece of doctrine standing isolated in and for itself but is the form of our worship of God....”
This reduction of creeds and dogmas to intellectual forms which “could have been quite different”, and which merely facilitate unity as a common “form of our worship of God” clearly amounts to a denial of the Catholic teaching concerning Dogma as a Deposit of Faith which is Absolute and Immutable. As Vatican I teaches:
“For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention, to be perfected by human ingenuity; but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence also, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our holy Mother the Church has once declared; nor is that meaning ever to be departed from, under the pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.”
Joseph Ratzinger continues:
“This discovery also points, it is true, in another direction: even the Church herself, as a whole, still holds the faith only as a symbolum, as a broken half, which signifies truth only in its endless reference to something beyond itself, to the entirely Other. It is only through the infinitely broken nature of the symbol that faith presses forward as man's continual effort to go beyond himself and reach up to God.” [author – all bold emphasis in the above quotes is mine – italics are Joseph Ratzinger's]
The Church, sent by Christ, is the formulator of creeds and symbolum. If the creed, and the truths it contains, is always a broken thing and incomplete, always in “endless reference to something other”, always something which “could have been quite different”, then this is justification for the Church herself to be considered the supreme agent of doctrinal change and evolution. And the Pope becomes the master change-agent and essentializer.
It is profoundly tragic that Fr. Ratzinger never seems to have understood the real and very profound nature of the symbolum. Our confession of faith is called a symbolum not because doctrine is always a broken and incomplete thing, but rather because we are broken. The subjection of our minds and hearts to the objective truth which constitutes the creed and other revealed truths of our faith is what heals our brokenness and ushers us into union and wholeness with God. It is revealed, purely-objective Truth, which not only sets us free, but makes us whole. The past fifty years of chaos in the Church are the fruit of having rejected this simple fact.
All of the above is much more extensively discussed in my article The Quintessential Evolutionist, which is to be found on my website here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/parti-article12
Rejection of the Principle of Non-Contradiction:
The second foundational principle absolutely necessary for “thinking with the Church” is the Principle of Non-Contradiction. Joseph Ratzinger’s denial of this principle is well-illustrated in one of his most famous and pivotal works, Introduction To Christianity:
“The Jansenist Saint-Cyran once made the thought-provoking remark that faith consists of a series of contradictions held together by grace [author's note: We do well here to remember de Lubac's statement that “paradox exists everywhere in reality, before existing in thought.... Oppositions in thought express the contradiction which is the very stuff of creation.” This notion that contradiction is the very fabric of created reality is extremely popular in Modernistic theology and philosophy. It is this theological position which facilitates Modernism being the “synthesis of all heresies”, since many heresies are obviously in contradiction to one another]. He thereby expressed in the realm of theology a discovery that today in physics, as the law of complementarity, belongs to the realm of scientific thought. The physicist is becoming increasingly aware today that we cannot embrace given realities – the structure of light, for example, or of matter in general – in one form of experiment and in one form of statement; that, on the contrary, from different sides we glimpse different aspects, which cannot be traced back to each other. We have to take the two together – say, the structure of particle and wave – without being able to find a comprehensive explanation – as a provisional assessment of the whole, which is not accessible to us as a unified whole because of the restrictions implicit in our point of view. What is true here in the physical realm as a result of the limitations in our ability to observe is true to an incomparably greater degree of the spiritual realities of God. Here, too, we can always look from one side and so grasp only one particular aspect, which seems to contradict the other, yet only when combined with it is a pointer to the whole, which we are incapable of stating or grasping. Only by circling round, by looking and describing from different, apparently contrary angles can we succeed in alluding to the truth, which is never visible to us in its totality.” (p.173-74).
Father Ratzinger does not leave us totally in the realm of the abstract. The doctrine which he is specifically discussing, and to which he applies these criteria of understanding, is the Trinity. He first informs us that dogmatic terms used to define the Trinity (he specifically mentions the terms persona, homousious, and the concept of “proceeding.”) were all once condemned as being heretical. He then states: “One must say, I think, that these condemnations of the later formulas of faith form an intimate part of them: it is only through the negation, and the infinite indirectness implicit in it, that they are usable. The doctrine of the Trinity is only possible as a piece of baffled theology, so to speak.”
In other words, we can only approach the depths of the Trinity by understanding it through the Principle of Contradiction. As Pope Pius X said, in discussing the incredible audacity of the Modernists:
“In short, to maintain and defend these theories they do not hesitate to declare that the noblest homage that can be paid to the Infinite is to make it the object of contradictory statements! But when they justify even contradictions, what is it that they will refuse to justify?” (Pascendi, #36).
We need to understand the profound distortion contained in Joseph Ratzinger’s statements concerning Trinitarian dogma. The theological concepts mentioned by Fr. Ratzinger were all condemned when used falsely or confusedly in earlier controversies. However, any honest historical examination of this subject reveals the nature and sources of such confusion, while at the same time it also reveals the profound aptness and intellectual acuteness of the final employment of these terms in formulating doctrinal definitions concerning the Trinity. Thus, when used rightly in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, they are not in any way mere pieces of “baffled theology,” but are technical theological terms which profoundly reveal truths which supply us with very real and essential, if limited, positive knowledge of the Trinity.
Having said this, let us proceed with Father Ratzinger's analysis of the role which modern physics plays in our contemporary understanding of the faith:
“The intellectual approach of modern physics may offer us more help here than Aristotelian philosophy was able to give. Physicists know today that one can only talk about the structure of matter by approaching the subject from various angles. They know that the position of the observer at any one time affects the result of his investigation of nature. Why should we not be able to understand afresh, on this basis, that in the question of God we must not look, in the Aristotelian fashion [and, obviously, criticism of St. Thomas is also here intended], for an ultimate concept encompassing the whole but must be prepared to find a multitude of aspects that depend on the position of the observer and that we can no longer survey as a whole but only accept alongside each other, without being able to say the final word on the subject? We meet here the hidden interplay of faith and modern thought. That present-day physicists are stepping outside the structure of Aristotelian logic and thinking in this way is surely an effect already of the new dimension that Christian theology has opened up, of its need to think in 'complementarities' [which, as Fr. Ratzinger has already noted, are often contrary to one another and are therefore also “contradictories”].
“In this connection I should like to mention briefly two other aids to thought provided by physics. E. Schrõdinger has defined the structure of matter as 'parcels of waves' and thereby hit upon the idea of a being that has no substance but is purely actual, whose apparent 'substantiality' really results only from the pattern of movement of superimposed waves. In the realm of matter such a suggestion may well be physically, and in any case philosophically, highly contestable. But it remains an exciting simile for the actualitas divina, for the idea that God is absolutely 'in act' (and not 'in potency'), and for the idea that the densest being – God – can subsist only in a multitude of relations, which are not substances but simply 'waves', and therein form a perfect unity and also the fullness of being....” (Ibid, p. 176-77)
And, having dissolved all substantiality in our concept of God, Father Ratzinger then moves on to denying the possibility of our possessing any purely objective knowledge of God:
“We know today that in a physical experiment the observer himself enters into the experiment and only by doing so can arrive at a physical experience. This means that there is no such thing as pure objectivity even in physics, that even here the result of the experiment, nature's answer, depends on the question put to it. In the answer there is always a bit of the question and a bit of the questioner himself; it reflects not only nature in itself, in its pure objectivity, but also gives back something of man, of what is characteristically ours, a bit of the human subject. This too, mutatis mutandis, is true of the question of God. There is no such thing as pure objectivity. One can even say that the higher an object stands in human terms, the more it penetrates the center of individuality; and the more it engages the beholders individuality, then the smaller the possibility of the mere distancing involved in pure objectivity.” (p. 175).
Since God is by definition infinitely “higher” than everything, then according to the logic of Joseph Ratzinger's criteria there can be no “objectivity” whatsoever in our understanding of God. He must always, in the theology of Joseph Ratzinger, remain totally baffling to us. And what is most tragic about all this is that if God is totally baffling, then human beings created as they are in God’s image must also always remain baffling. There can be no complete clarity about anything human – about his nature or his actions.
All of this represents both Catholic theology and human psychology turned upside-down.
God is indeed infinitely beyond total human comprehension. But, with the help of true theology and right human understanding, He should in no way be baffling to us. By definition, anything which is baffling brings confusion in understanding, and lack of clarity in regard to choosing the proper course of action. The truths about God which we are given through Revelation and the Church, on the contrary, are not a source of self-contradictory confusion, but rather represent a clarity which introduces the human soul into the life of truth and freedom of the children of God
Rejection of the Catholic Concept of Substantiality:
The third foundational principle of all Catholic thinking is that both God and man must be seen as possessing substantial natures. If God does not have an immutable, substantial Nature, then there can be no such thing as Revealed Truths concerning that Nature, and as contained in an immutable Deposit of Faith. There can only be evolving Relationship.
If man does not possess a substantial nature, common to all men at all points in history, then every Catholic doctrine dealing with such things as “Original Nature”, “Original Sin”, “The Fall”, “Sanctifying Grace”, and therefore the entire Sacramental System, is destroyed. It is absolutely integral to all such doctrine that man be seen as having been created with an original, fully-developed, spiritual nature established in original justice and the preternatural gifts.
The fact is, that for Joseph Ratzinger, the entire concept of “substance” has become “inaccessible” to modern man because of the findings of modern physics. In Faith and the Future, in specific reference to our alleged modern quandary in regard to explaining transubstantiation, he writes:
“…the medieval concept of substance has long since become inaccessible to us. In so far as we use the concept of substance at all today we understand thereby the ultimate particles of matter, and the chemically complex mixture that is bread certainly does not fall into that category [he is thus here denying the concept of Transubstantiation as involving “substantial” change].” (p. 14). [this subject is covered far more extensively in my article: The Rosmini Rehabilitation: When To Be is Not To Be, also to be found on my website].
It is reductive physics which has profoundly eroded any concept of substance in the minds of virtually all men and women who possess even minimal education. This process began centuries ago. Recent research conducted in the Vatican archives unearthed a document which proves that Galileo, for instance, rejected the distinction between real substantial and real accidental being. He saw all of physical reality as reducible to atoms and their actions, which thus made it impossible for such things as the color, taste, touch (and ultimately of course even the substantial dimensional appearances) of bread and all other “things” to be anything other than names which we subjectively applied to the effects of such interplay among atomic realities. In other words, none of the “substantiality” that we perceive in our daily lives has any real correspondence with objective reality. Everything is reducible to atomic realities (or quantum energy), everything is constantly in motion, and all, of necessity, is immersed in change and evolution. Consequently, there can be nothing fixed about the human soul or human nature.
This rejection of the concept of substance is applied by Joseph Ratzinger not only to physical objects such as bread, but also to God. Here I repeat a passage quoted above:
“In this connection I should like to mention briefly two other aids to thought provided by physics. E. Schrõdinger has defined the structure of matter as 'parcels of waves' and thereby hit upon the idea of a being that has no substance but is purely actual, whose apparent 'substantiality' really results only from the pattern of movement of superimposed waves. In the realm of matter such a suggestion may well be physically, and in any case philosophically, highly contestable. But it remains an exciting simile for the actualitas divina, for the idea that God is absolutely 'in act' (and not 'in potency'), and for the idea that the densest being – God – can subsist only in a multitude of relations, which are not substances but simply 'waves', and therein form a perfect unity and also the fullness of being....” (Introduction to Christianity, p. 175).
In the above passage, Joseph Ratzinger appears to accede to the Thomistic concept of God as being pure Act. But the Thomistic concept of God as Pure Actuality is in direct opposition to any notion that He “can subsist only in a multitude of relations”. Rather, it means that He is purely actuated and subsists totally in His own Supreme Being. The only “necessary” relations for God lie within the Godhead itself, between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In other words, Joseph Ratzinger’s claim that “God can subsist only in a multitude of relations” implicitly constitutes a denial of the Supreme Being of God Himself.
It remains for us, finally, to examine Joseph Ratzinger’s denial of substantial nature to the human soul. In his book Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, He writes:
“’The soul’ is our term for that in us which offers a foothold for than man’s capacity for relatedness with truth, with love eternal.” (p. 259).
“The challenge to traditional theology today lies in the negation of an autonomous, ‘substantial’ soul with a built-in immortality in favor of that positive view which regards God’s decision and activity as the real foundation of a continuing human existence.” (p. 150).
The primary consequence of this rejection of all substantiality is the embrace of evolution in regard to all things both physical and spiritual. Joseph Ratzinger, in agreement with Teilhard de Chardin (see my article A Living Host: Liturgy, and the Dynamics of Cosmic Evolution In the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Teilhard de Chardin, to be found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/40 ), views matter as “the pre-history of spirit” (Credo for Today, p. 45). It follows upon this that the “emergence” of the human soul is also an evolutionary phenomenon. Following are Joseph Ratzinger’s words from Credo for Today:
“This would then lead to the insight that spirit does not enter the picture as something foreign, as a second substance, in addition to matter: the appearance of spirit, according to the previous discussion, means rather that an advancing movement arrives at the goal that has been set for it….The clay became man at that moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought ‘God.’ The first ‘thou’ that – however stammeringly – was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed.” ( p. 46-47).
One can only surmise that Adam’s next act after his initial dim and stammering thought of God was a puzzled grunt. There is here no Adam and Eve created in the fullness of sanctifying grace, possessing the infused gifts, both natural and supernatural, necessary for what has traditionally been known as the state of “Original Justice.” There can be no loss of this state through Original Sin. There can be no restoration to a state of sanctifying grace through any of the sacraments. There can be no real, absolute, unchangeable moral responsibility for a human mind and will living in such dimness and stammering. There can be no substantial marital bond which is indissoluble. There is only evolution and becoming. This evolutionary view of man and his responsibilities must govern not only our understanding of Adam and Eve, but also our pastoral approach to any man or woman at any time down through history, until the end of time. Cardinal Kasper’s “Principle of Gradualism” thus becomes the primary principle which must govern all of moral theology
Connecting the Dots:
This brings us to the “logic” of the present contradiction between claiming to accept the “immutability” of the Church’s doctrine concerning the indissolubity of marriage, while at the same time promoting a pastoral practice which readmits at least some of the divorced and remarried to Sacramental Communion.
The traditional sacramental theology which has blocked these people from receiving Holy Communion up until now is firmly rooted in the traditional doctrine concerning sanctifying grace; along, of course, with all the doctrines concerning God and man which, as we have seen, are the foundations of such a concept. Abandonment of the three principles examined above not only destroys any reasonableness involved in such concepts, but also demands pastoral practices which contradict such previously held, “pre-scientific” concepts and their “static”, and therefore “rigid”, “non-loving” consequences. In other words, it demands a false “mercy” running parallel to, and even superseding, Catholic doctrine in regard to pastoral practice.
What all of this comes down to is that the traditional distinction between either possessing or not possessing sanctifying grace has been largely confined to the category of outmoded sacramental theology. In God and the World (Ignatius Press, 2002), Cardinal Ratzinger is asked the following question by Mr. Seewald: “In canon 849 of Church canon law it says: ‘Baptism…[is] necessary to salvation in fact or at least in intention.’ But what happens, when a man dies unbaptized? And what happens to the millions of children who are killed in their mothers’ wombs?” The Cardinal’s answer runs as follows:
“The question of what it means to say that baptism is necessary for salvation has become ever more hotly debated in modern times. The Second Vatican Council said on this point that men who are seeking for God and who are inwardly striving toward that which constitutes baptism will also receive salvation. That is to say that a seeking after God already represents an inward participation in baptism, in the Church, in Christ.
“To that extent, the question concerning the necessity of baptism for salvation seems to have been answered, but the question about children who could not be baptized because they were aborted then presses upon us that much more urgently.
“Earlier ages had devised a teaching that seems to me rather unenlightened. They said that baptism endows us, by means of sanctifying grace, with the capacity to gaze upon God. Now, certainly, the state of original sin, from which we are freed by baptism, consists in a lack of sanctifying grace [the reader is reminded at this point that Cardinal Ratzinger is here summarizing the “unenlightened” view which has prevailed in the past – this is not his view; as documented in my article The Point of Departure, he considers the traditional view of original sin ‘misleading and imprecise’] –Children who die in this way are indeed without any personal sin, so they cannot be sent to hell, but, on the other hand, they lack sanctifying grace and thus the potential for beholding God that this bestows. They will simply enjoy a state of natural blessedness, in which they will be happy. This state people called limbo.
“In the course of our century, that has gradually come to seem problematic to us. This was one way in which people sought to justify the necessity of baptizing infants as early as possible, but the solution is itself questionable. Finally, the Pope made a decisive turn in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, a change already anticipated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, when he expressed the simple hope that God is powerful enough to draw to himself all those who were unable to receive the sacrament.” (p. 401-402).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quite to the contrary, asserts just the opposite:
“Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.” (#250).
In God and the World, each of the sacraments is discussed over the space of 43 pages. The fact that any of these sacraments imparts sanctifying grace is never discussed – except in the particular passage quoted above, wherein Cardinal Ratzinger uses the term to characterize a view of baptism which he considers “unenlightened, “problematic”, and “questionable.”
All of this, as I have examined in many of my articles, is attributable to the effect of the ambience of reductive science upon the thinking of modern man. Satan has devised a strategy which (through violation of the three foundational principles of Catholic thought examined above) has no need of direct denial of the Magisterium in order to bring virtually every Catholic to that state described by the apostle James, which he compares to “a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.” (James 1: 23-24). In considering the present crisis – the possibility of a pastoral practice being instituted which implicitly contradicts Church doctrine concerning the indissolubility of marriage and the necessity of being in the state of sanctifying grace in order to receive Holy Communion – we need therefore to understand that we are not primarily in combat with flesh and blood, but with “principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places”.
The deepest root of this present crisis lies not within conspiratorial agendas of those who have ascended to power within the present ecclesial establishment. Nor does it lie in Vatican II. What is now occurring is the fruit of a profound penetration into the collective Catholic conscience (so to speak) of ideas, ambiences, world views, and especially syncretism of Catholic truth with the errors of science, which for centuries have been penetrating into the depths of the Catholic perception of reality, and are now achieving consummation. Even if we were to conclude that, by the workings of God's grace, the recent Synod on the Family was prevented from fully bringing these errors to fruition, it is also true that this particular situation represents only one foray by the enemy among many to be expected in the future, and employing the same strategy as described above. God therefore surely expects us to do our part – to engage the enemy directly, and unmask the deceits of the Evil One. This can only be done by engaging in combat with all the destructive reductionism of modern Science. The primary strategists and leaders in this battle, if it is to be successful, must be the Catholic hierarchy.
The ultimate object of conquest necessary for the final and total triumph of Atheistic Scientism over the entire social order is, of course, the family. The entire structure of the family is built upon one fine line of ontological truth – the absolute indissolubility of the marriage bond (except through the death of one of the spouses) which constitutes a valid marriage. This, in turn, has been protected over all these centuries only by the immutable teaching of the Catholic Church. It is this sense of absoluteness and immutability in relation to all of Catholic doctrine which now hangs upon a delicate thread. And the means which Satan is using in his desperate effort to finally sever this thread is the Catholic episcopate itself.
It has been repeated ad nauseam over recent decades that the Catholic world got along just fine without Thomistic Metaphysics for twelve or thirteen hundred years. Such persons fail to realize that for all those centuries, the world was substantially real to all men. Their eyes, their senses of touch, smell, taste and hearing, all spoke of a substantial world, as did their natural minds. All this has been profoundly eroded by modern science. Spiritual childhood – and the innocence and simplicity of spirit which is truly natural in all that is human, and therefore absolutely necessary for perceiving and defending what is real and true – cannot be restored except through a fully conscious war being conducted against the effects of reductive modern science upon man’s mind, spirit, and heart.
The primary weapon which must be used in this struggle is the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. I have explored the parameters of this in my article The Restoration of the Supernatural in Accord with the Teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, to be found on my website here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/partix. The teaching of Thomas not only liberates the human mind to the vision of the supernatural present to all of human life, but also provides the only comprehensive intellectual framework absolutely essential to even being able to perceive who the enemy truly is. The real enemy is not Cardinal Kasper or any other particular individual or group of individuals, be they lay persons, bishops, or Popes. We do better in perceiving such persons as being more victims than villains. Rather, the enemy is Satan, who hundreds of years ago celebrated the nuptials between the Church and the world of secular, reductive Science, and now awaits the birth of his favored son.
What is most important to understand is that this adulterous relationship between the Church and science was not achieved through the voice of the magisterium, but by way of its silence. In all the time during which reductive atomic and quantum physics has been eating away at human perception of the real substantiality of God and His creation, there has not been one magisterial document that has met these errors head-on in any truly comprehensive manner.(1) What is most tragic about this silence is the ease with which Thomistic metaphysics, epistemology, and cosmology can be employed to make a total mockery of such reductionism, even to a young child.
As I have pointed out in other articles, I fully believe that this subject is not reserved to intellectuals, but that the truths involved here can be very effectively presented to young children as soon as they begin to encounter the elementary principles of chemistry and physics. I always use the example of the substance water. For the physicist-chemist, water is reducible to the molecule H2O. This in turn is reducible to atoms consisting of a nucleus with electrons spinning at comparatively astronomical distances around this nucleus, the entire thing being comprised of 99.999999999 % void. In other words, there is, in direct contradiction to normal human perception, no substantiveness (no water) here at all. Any child can understand the absurdity of this. It then becomes easy to explain that science can offer us no explanation for any substance. It only offers analysis of accidental being. The only explanation for the substantial being of any real thing lies in its creation by God from nothing. To see this is to restore the presence of the supernatural to all of creation. Here, we are restored to both reality and spiritual childhood.
If a child can understand this (and I have direct teaching experience in this regard), certainly adult lay persons, priests, bishops, and Popes can be brought to understand. In other words, there is no reason for any of the mental gymnastics and bogus “essentializations” which I have examined above in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger. Further, once substantiality is restored to our perception of both God and man, then all those concepts integral to proper understanding of man and his relationship to God – such things as original justice, original sin, the reality and consequences of mortal sin, the necessity of being in a state of sanctifying grace in order to receive Holy Communion – follow as obvious consequences. Any attempt to promote a false mercy which violates immutable truth will then be seen as not only a mockery of God, but as an assault upon man’s dignity.
It is this truly Catholic sanity for which we must do battle. It is to this war against the spirit of this world that every bishop needs to be fully committed.
For a bishop to engage in this struggle will require extraordinary heroism. It is one thing to defend marriage against the powers of this world. To do so can of course result in persecution, even to the loss of prestige and position. But there is still enough rudimentary Christianity remaining that such a bishop would retain devotees and friends. He would, for instance, remain a hero to traditional Catholics, and he will continue to be wined and dined. Science on the other hand, like Moloch, is a god which devours its enemies. And unlike Moloch, virtually all persons on earth are now its subjects. To say No to this god, to expose the soul-destroying lust of this Beast, will expose any Catholic bishop to a depth of ridicule and contempt that only a true child of Christ can withstand. Yet, timidity or cowardice can make no valid excuse for avoiding this battle; for inwardly we must all know that it is not a question of our own personal bravery or fortitude, but rather whether or not we truly love, and wish to bring to the liberating truth of Christ, the children of God. Once we make the choice for this love, Christ will surely provide the grace.
Finally, it needs to be said that the analysis provided in this article applies to betrayal of the Gospel in the intellectual realm. There is also a corresponding (and interlaced) betrayal in the realm of the will (the living of the Beatitudes) which is also integral to the present crisis. This has been covered especially in my articles The Return to God, and St. Francis of Assisi: They Pretended to Love You So That They Might Leave You. These are also to be found on my website here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/46, and: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/45.
(1). In his magnificent encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, Pope Pius X establishes the subjection of faith to science as a primary tenet of Modernism, and states that “To the law of evolution everything is subject under penalty of death – dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself.” (#26). He also admonished professors “to bear well in mind that they cannot set aside Saint Thomas, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave disadvantage.” (#45). Yet it still true that this metaphysical battle with reductive science has never been publicly engaged by the universal Church.
- James Larson
Two Altars at the End of Time
Laudato Si: A Manifesto of Teilhardian Theology
“And then there appears to the dazzled eyes of the believer the Eucharistic mystery itself, extended infinitely into a veritable universal transubstantiation, in which the words of the Consecration applies not only to the sacrificial bread and wine but, mark you, to the whole mass of joys and sufferings produced by the Convergence of the World as it progresses.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Heart of Matter, Harcourt, 1978 – see chapter titled The Christic – p. 94).
"Since once again, Lord – though this time not in the forests of the Aisne but in the steppes of Asia – I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itselfI, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labours and sufferings of the world.” (Ibid., p. 119 – this is the first sentence of Teilhard de Chardin’s Mass on the World).
"On the other hand, I cannot fail to feel around me – if only from the way in which ‘my ideas’ are becoming more widely accepted – the pulsation of countless people who are all – ranging from the border-line of belief to the depths of the cloister – thinking and feeling, or at least beginning vaguely to feel, just as I do. It is indeed heartening to know that I am not a lone discoverer, but that I am, quite simply, responding to the vibration that (given a particular condition of Christianity of the world) is necessarily active in all the souls around me.....Everywhere on Earth, at this moment, in the new spiritual atmosphere created by the appearance of the idea of evolution, there float, in a state of extreme mutual sensitivity, love of God and faith in the world: the two essential components of the Ultra-human. These two components are everywhere ‘in the air’; generally, however, they are not strong enough, both at the same time, to combine with one another in one and the same subject. In me, it happens by pure chance (temperament, upbringing, background) that the proportion of the one to the other is correct, and the fusion of the two has been effected spontaneously - not as yet with sufficient force to spread explosively — but strong enough nevertheless to make it clear that the process is possible — and that sooner or later there will be a chain-reaction." (op. cit., The Christic, p. 101-102).
The “chain-reaction” of which Teilhard de Chardin spoke in the above passage has taken sixty years to materialize. His work was censured by various Church officials for decades, culminating in the 1962 Monitum of the Holy Office exhorting “all Ordinaries as well as the superiors of Religious institutes, rectors of seminaries and presidents of universities, effectively to protect the minds, particularly of the youth, against the dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and of his followers”. As late as 1981, the Holy See issued a communiqué reaffirming this warning.
However, running parallel to this official position of the Holy See, many prominent theologians, philosophers, and even bishops and Cardinals, rose up in Teilhard’s defense. Henri de Lubac wrote three books during the 1960’s dedicated to this purpose. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen went so far as to prophesize in 50 years it would be very likely that Teilhard “will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century. (Footprints in a Darkened Forest, Meredith Press, 1967, p. 73).” Teilhard’s cosmic-evolutionary pantheism was also given some encouragement by statements of Popes such as Paul VI, and John Paul II. But, as documented in my article A Living Host: Cosmic Liturgy in the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Teilhard de Chardin (found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/40), the real leap forward into theological acceptance must be credited to the writings and statements of Pope Benedict XVI. The following is probably the best known, but certainly not the most egregious, example of his embrace of Teilhardism:
“The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host”. (Benedict XVI, Homily, Celebration of Vespers with the Faithful of Aosta, July 24, 2009.
Teilhard’s Evolutionary Gnosticism has now been blessed with both the voice and the vehicle empowering it to be mainstreamed. The voice is that of Pope Francis, and the vehicle is his encyclical Laudato Si.
Just as uniting the concept of evolution to Christology provided the theological key to Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of all matter evolving towards the Omega Point of the “Christic” (this constituting his concept of a “Cosmic Liturgy”), so the ecological movement is now providing the necessary chemistry for the “explosion” of this poisoned theology and spirituality within the minds and hearts of millions of Catholics. Laudato Si is rightly seen as the manifesto of this revolution. Following are passages from this encyclical which speak of the universal transfiguration of all created things upon the evolutionary “altar of the world”.
83. The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things. Here we can add yet another argument for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.
236. It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation…. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours….Indeed the Eucharist is in itself an act of cosmic love: ‘Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world’.” (the quote at the end of this passage is from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia).
If we are tempted to deny the Teilhardian theology and cosmology in these passages, we need only to look at footnote#53 in the above quote. It contains the following comment: “Against this horizon we can set the contribution of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin”.
Three more examples:
237. On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation, whose first fruits are the Lord’s risen humanity, the pledge of the final transfiguration of all created reality.
243. Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all.
244. In the meantime, we come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, knowing that all the good which exists here will be taken up into the heavenly feast.
In order to see the grievous error represented in these passages from Laudato Si, we need only consult Holy Scripture, and the many passages from both Old and New Testaments which clearly reveal that the earth will totally perish and cease to be, that the world is not our lasting home, and that Christ’s assurance that He will “make all things new” in no way signifies a final transfiguration of any created thing, living or dead, which does not have a spiritual soul:
With desolation shall the earth be laid waste, and it shall be utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. (Isaiah 24:3)
For behold, I create new heaven, and a new earth: and the former things shall not be in remembrance, and they shall not come upon the heart. (Isaiah 65:1.)
Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass. (Matthew 24:35).
But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of the ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)
But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence, and the elements shall be melted with heat, and the earth and the works which are in it, shall be burnt up. Seeing then that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness? Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwelleth. (2 Peter 3:10-13).
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone, and the sea is now no more. (Apoc. 21: 1).
The Teilhardian spiritualism implicit in Pope Francis’ concept of the altar of the world, and his concept of the final transfiguration of all created things, demands that the above scriptures be considered false. If “matter is the prehistory of spirit” (Joseph Ratzinger’s phrase), and if, as Pope Francis teaches, all creatures are to be “resplendently transfigured” and be present at the “heavenly feast”, then all creatures possess a dignity and sacredness that demands an imperishability which parallels that of human beings. I again refer the reader to my article A Living Host: Liturgy, and the Dynamics of Cosmic Evolution In the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Teilhard de Chardin for a more complete discussion and documentation of these essential concepts of the cosmos as being a “Living Host”, and the earth as its evolutionary altar.
The “ecological spiritualism” proposed throughout Pope Francis’ Laudato Si therefore represents not just a lengthy and inappropriate descent of the Church into the science of this world, but is preeminently constituted as a manifesto for a totally radical change in Catholic theology and spirituality.
In the City of God, St. Augustine spoke of two Cities in combat for the souls of men: “These two Cities are made by two loves: the earthly City by love of oneself even to the contempt of God; the heavenly City by love of God even to the contempt of self.” (City of God, 14:2). Seventeen hundred years later, these two loves are now represented by two altars: the traditional Catholic altar which receives the Gift of Christ from above, and the altar of the world upon which man worships his own becoming, and the evolutionary ascent of all of creation.
There is, of course, a legitimate use of the expression “altar of the world”. Fatima has long been called the ‘Altar of the World” because pilgrims come from all over the world to worship at this place of Our Lady’s visitation. It is also true that the Mass itself might be considered the Altar of the World – wherever it is offered on this earth, God becomes present. But this is a far cry from the Teilhardian-inspired use of such terms as “altar of the world”, “Mass on the World”, or “altar of the earth” to connote a process of universal becoming by which the earth itself is to be seen as a “living host” being transfigured by an evolutionary processes which will culminate with all its creatures “resplendently transfigured” and “taken up into the heavenly feast”. Rightly we may view such a liturgy as being offered on the altar of Satan.
Laudato Si and Saint Francis of Assisi
The encyclical Laudato Si hides behind a falsification of the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. We need to penetrate to the depth of this falsification of St. Francis if we are to understand not only what is at the root of this particular document and the ecological spiritualism which it embraces, but also the agenda of false mercy which seems to be the fundamental charism of Pope Francis’ pontificate.
It is incontestable that St. Francis possessed a very special relationship to creatures. But it was not a relationship which saw them as destined for evolutionary-Teilhardian transfiguration, but rather one which saw through them to God the Creator.
The title of the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si (“Praise Be to You”), is extracted from St. Francis Canticle of the Creatures (or Canticle of the Sun, as it is sometimes called). In paragraph 87, Pope Francis offers what at first sight appears to be the entire Canticle, but which in fact contains only seven of its fourteen stanzas. The phrase “Praise be to you” does not occur until the beginning of the third stanza, which is where St. Francis begins praise of God through individual creatures, and where Pope Francis begins his truncated version.
Elimination of the first two stanzas undermines the meaning of the entire Canticle. It obscures the most fundamental truth which St. Francis’ wished to present in this exalted hymn to the majesty and goodness of God – namely, that all praise is not to be directed towards any creature in itself, but through it, to God. These two stanzas read:
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
As St. Thomas writes “The perfection of all things pre-exist in God in a more eminent way.” In all attempts to make St. Francis into some sort of animal-loving Pantheist, Teilhardian or otherwise, this is the vital point that is always missed – the fact that all praise must go through creatures to God, Who has created them from nothing, and without Whom they would return to nothingness.
In St. Francis life, this truth concerning the transparency of all of creation expressed itself in a kind of divine poetry, extending even to inanimate things. In the early biography of St. Francis titled the Mirror of Perfection (#118), we read that St. Francis’ special love of water was due to the fact that “it symbolizes holy penitence and tribulation, and at Baptism the soul is cleansed from its stains and receives its first purification”. Thus, he would wash his hands in a place where the water would not be trodden underfoot as it fell to the ground. And, “For the same reason, whenever he had to walk over rocks, he trod reverently and fearfully, out of love for Christ Who is called The Rock”. He told a friar wood-cutter that he must never cut down the whole tree, but leave part of it intact, “out of love of Christ, Who willed to accomplish our salvation on the wood of the cross.” St. Francis’ life is replete with such accounts concerning his relationship to created things, both living and inanimate. But nowhere are we confronted with any suggestion that birds, fish, wolves, or rocks are destined for a Heavenly Feast.
Something similar must be said of St. Francis’ communication with animals. When he preached to the birds (and they appeared to follow his instructions), or shamed and tamed the Wolf of Gubbio, this does not at all entail an exultation of such animals to some sort of status of possessing a spiritual soul, or an eternal destiny. It would certainly seem that Francis was given a special grace of peace and innocence of soul (mirroring that which was possessed before original sin) which intuitively made animals his “friends”, and God certainly could provide the grace which made these same animals subject to his commands.
St. Francis’ relationship to all creatures, in other words, was firmly established in their individual reflection of some aspect of the Infinite Being and Goodness of God, and not in any sort of universal evolution towards transfigurement.
It is in the omission of stanza 13 of the Canticle, however, that we come to see why the spirituality of St. Francis must be seen as being diametrically opposed to that of Pope Francis. It reads:
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
For the second death shall do them no harm.
In any sort of evolutionary theology and spirituality, there can be no such thing as mortal sin. Incorporation of evolutionary thinking into the Catholic faith necessarily establishes the principle of “Gradualism” as the foundation of all philosophy and theology, and especially of moral theology. Where there is “universal becoming”, there can be no substantial being, no fixed natures. Where there is no fixed nature, there can be no “state” of mortal sin. There can only be ongoing, evolving “relationships”. Under the rule of such theology, the Church may indeed postulate a certain moral ideal which was lived and taught by Christ, but at the same time it must be inclusive towards all persons at their various stages of evolution towards that ideal. It is this Gradualism which was proposed by Cardinal Kasper in his inaugural address to the preparatory Consistory of Cardinals, convoked by the Pope at the end of April, 2014 in order to discuss the upcoming Synod on the Family. After reading Cardinal Kasper’s speech, Pope Francis said:
"Yesterday, before going to sleep - although I did not do this to put myself to sleep - I read or rather re-read the work of Cardinal Kasper, and I would like to thank him because I found profound theology, and even serene thinking in theology.”
There can be no doubt that Pope Francis endorses Teilhardian Gradualism.
Such is the “altar of the world” upon which Pope Francis, and many others within the hierarchy, wish us now to offer our worship. The October, 2015 Synod on the Family will serve to test its viability within the Church. The issues of “inclusiveness” towards homosexuals, and readmission of the divorced and remarried to Sacramental Communion can be seen as “pilot runs” intended to eventually enthrone the principle of Gradualism as the basis all of Catholic theology and philosophy. Its ultimate goal is to entirely eliminate the concept of immutable truth as determinate of pastoral practice, and to relegate such truths to the background as simply ideals for which we strive.
The Papacy has always functioned as the irreplaceable foundation of immutable truth, and therefore has constituted that which has “held back” the rise of the Antichrist (2Thess 2: 7 – for more extensive discussion of this subject, see my article The Forgotten Hope). With his active promotion of the Principle of Gradualism, Pope Francis is now effectively removing this barrier.
Additionally, in #175 of Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls for “a true world political authority” in order to “guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration”. He here refers to Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which also called for such a world political authority “vested with the effective power which would enable it to “manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration”. (Caritas in Veritate, 67). In other words, both Benedict XVI and Francis, unbeknownst I am sure to themselves, have issued clarion calls for the ascension of Antichrist.
One of the most glaring contradictions present in Laudato Si is that Pope Francis rightly sees that political authority is itself at the center of the ecological crisis, being virtually always at the beck and call of financial greed and rapacious progress. Any notion therefore that a “world political authority” could be immune from such domination would therefore seem to indicate a most naïve Pelagianism. As Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If that were true in the 19th century when Christianity still held strong sway over the moral lives of individuals and nations, what is to be said now when what was once Christian civilization has plummeted into the depths of anti-Christianity?
Despite such contradictions, there is a great deal of seductive power present in this very lengthy encyclical of Pope Francis which is bound to affect the spiritual lives of millions. This power derives from the fact that the encyclical itself, even though replete with naivety and self-contradiction, is a carefully crafted work structured to tap deeply into the guilt which we all feel, explicitly or implicitly, in having abandoned Christ’s teachings in the Beatitudes. We have indeed denied “the simplicity that is in Christ”; we have become “fat as butter” in pursuit of the goods of the earth; we have sought unending scientific, technological, and economic growth at the price of having lost spiritual childhood; we have filled the earth with filth, poisoned its waters, polluted its air, voraciously exploited its resources, ravaged much of its beauty, exploited and ignored its poor, murdered untold millions of innocent children. We have indeed “ignored the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, we are now a civilization whose dominant characteristic is guilt over having massively and mortally betrayed the teachings of our God.
It is this very real guilt, largely unconscious, which now makes us subject to the siren-calls of an evil Teilhardian spirituality, and it is also this same guilt which makes us hunger for a “mercy” which flees from God’s judgment. Both of these paths call us to spiritual death.
St. Paul, in 2 Cor. 7:10, speaks of two radically opposed sorrows (and therefore guilts) which can afflict the human heart. One is from God, and the other from the world:
“For the sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
We now live in a civilization which, in sorrow over its own betrayal, and yet also enmeshed in its own refusal to return to Christ, lives in the physical and moral swill of its own death wish. It is the same species of sorrow and guilt which ensnared the heart of Judas in his refusal to return to Christ and forgiveness, but instead to choose suicide. In our age, this “sorrow unto death” takes the form of immersion in all the concupiscence’s of this world (of which the evolutionary goal of self-perfection is the penultimate form), and of claiming a false mercy towards mortal sin – these new “freedoms” serving as masks concealing a vast sea of historical guilt and betrayal of God. All souls still immersed in this betrayal will almost certainly embrace Antichrist upon his coming, and then plunge headlong into self-destruction.
There is, of course, always room for those who choose to remain faithful to Christ and the Gospel. Our faith cannot be taken from us, but can only be lost through the prostitution of our individual wills. We are not obliged to follow the Pope in the non-infallible theological orientations proposed in his encyclical. And, even if the Synod and the Pope institute pastoral practices which admit the divorced and remarried to communion, or bless homosexuality, these in themselves do not change Church doctrine or compromise the infallible Magisterium. Further, our faith does not oblige us to follow any member of the hierarchy into sin, or the blessing of sin. Resistance to such pressures will of course cause suffering. This would especially be true for priests, who must be willing to lose their faculties if their conscience demands a refusal
The danger for traditional Catholics lies mostly in another direction – the loss of charity. Without charity, there is no salvation, no matter how courageous we are in clinging to our faith. In times of crisis such as now, this especially demands vigilance concerning our mandatory charity towards the Pope. This charity does not exclude criticism of his actions, theology, orientations, or policies. It may even necessitate the realistic assessment that he is doing the work of anti-christ. It cannot, however, include any assessment that he is the Antichrist. It is therefore imperative that we consider him more victim than villain, and act and pray accordingly.
This is not at all to excuse or gloss over what the Pope is doing, or the possible consequences. Hell may be well-stocked with those who appear to show no signs of calculated villainy, but who simply chose to love as the world loves. Whether such persons be Pope or peasant, they should not be the object of our rage, but of our pity and prayer. They also of course deserve our combat, which is waged not only for our own souls, but for theirs.
War Against the Papacy
Now in print, and available from Cruachan Hill Press
This book contains additional material to the work on my website bearing the same title. Following is an excerpt from the new Preface:
There is no more justification for the SSPX position during the pontificate of Pope Francis than there was during the reign of any previous Pope. Unquestionably, however, many who are “bent” towards an SSPX mentality, or even towards sedevacantism, find more excuses under the pontificate of Francis for such a move than under that of John Paul II.
I think it profitable, therefore, to speculate as to what would be the position of Archbishop Lefebvre himself towards such a pontificate as that of Francis. In an address to seminarians in 1986, Archbishop Lefebvre offered the following
“Now I don't know if the time has come to say that the Pope is a heretic; I don't know if it is the time to say that. You know, for some time many people, the sedevacantists, have been saying "there is no more Pope," but I think that for me it was not yet the time to say that, because it was not sure, it was not evident, it was very difficult to say that the Pope is a heretic, the Pope is apostate. But I recognize that slowly, very slowly, by the deeds and acts of the Pope himself we begin to be very anxious…. What conclusion must we draw in a few months if we are confronted by these repeated acts of partaking in false worship? I don't know. I wonder. But I think the Pope can do nothing worse than call together a meeting of all religions, when we know there is only one true religion and all other religions belong to the devil. So perhaps after this famous meeting of Assisi, perhaps we must say that the Pope is a heretic, is apostate. Now I don't wish yet to say it formally and solemnly, but it seems at first sight that it is impossible for a Pope to be publicly and formally heretical. Our Lord has promised to be with him, to keep his faith, to keep him in the Faith - how can he at the same time be a public heretic and virtually apostatize? So it is possible we may be obliged to believe this pope is not pope.”
If Archbishop Lefebvre could propose such a thing during the pontificate of John Paul II (and even before Assisi), then it would not seem unreasonable to speculate that the pontificate of Pope Francis might very well have carried him over into sedevacantism. No one, of course, can be sure as to what his course of action might have been. But the interesting point for consideration is that each person who is an adherent of the SSPX’s position is now not only in the position of subjectively judging the Papacy (through defying Papal jurisdiction), but also finds himself necessarily forced into subjectivity in regard to what would be the position of the one man since the Council whom they most seek to emulate and follow – a subjectivity which has enormous consequences in terms of their own personal faith and their belief in regard to wherein the Catholic Church itself subsists.
Available from Cruachan Hill Press
”He who eats the Pope dies”
– German proverb
“A Voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great
mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would
not be comforted, because they are not.”
All of the following is written in a spirit of charity. It is also written in a spirit of deep caution, and even trepidation. I sent many of my writings to Pope Benedict XVI ( in September, 2007), along with a personal letter. In the spirit of obedience, I publicly state that at his simple request, or that of his successor Pope Francis, I would cease writing and prevent the further spread of my writings as much as morally possible.
I believe that the Papacy is wounded and suffering and that this suffering has profoundly affected the philosophical-theological orientation of recent Popes. While leaving intact the prerogatives established by Christ for all times upon Peter and his successors, this philosophical and theological disorientation has affected virtually everything else, to the detriment of the Church and the salvation of souls
The reader will note that a number of my articles are deeply critical of the writings and statements of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. I wish to state that I can make no final or absolute judgment about the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI. However,a fair number of my articles critical of his statements and writings were written after his ascension to the Papacy. They give evidence as to the continuity of his present thought with that of his past writings, but pretend to make no absolute judgment. I must add that I have seen no evidence on the part of Joseph Ratzinger of any renunciation of his previous thought and that, on the contrary, he has asserted the essential continuity of his thought up to, and even after, his elevation. As with any author, he would fall under the strong moral imperative to correct any serious errors in his past writings of which he became conscious. I am aware of no efforts on his part to do so.
I must also now add that in April of 2005, two weeks before the election of Benedict XVI, I sent my manuscript of The War Against Being and The Return to God" to then Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, along with a letter stating that I believed he might be elected Pope. I received no reply. There are now two articles (Part I, Articles 24, 26) which contain analysis of Pope Francis' thinking and actions.
I call the reader’s attention to the two quotes which I have placed at the beginning of this short introduction. The first encapsulates in a startling manner the sense of caution, and even fear, which any person in the Church should feel in undertaking criticism of a person who has become Pope. The presence of this fear is always necessary in order to generate and maintain that charity towards the Holy Father which is always integral to the Catholic Spirit, no matter what personal faults the personality and thought of a particular occupant of the Chair of Peter might present as an impediment to the natural expression of this charity.
The second quote simply represents the reality which is the present moment in the life of the Church. We are faced with a holocaust of the spiritual life and well-being of children which is directly attributable to the chaos in religious instruction, sacramental life, and morality which has been the inheritance of post-Vatican II life in the Church. And this chaos in all things Catholic is directly attributable to the philosophical-theological orientation of members of the Catholic hierarchy, especially to the Popes who have reigned during and since the Council.
In this situation the tension between one’s natural Catholic love and respect for the Pope and the knowledge of what recent Popes have perpetrated, or allowed to be perpetrated, upon innocent children becomes almost unbearable. Ultimately the question as to whether to criticize or not comes down to the question of being a man. In the Old Testament the Lord says that “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” he shall send Elias the prophet to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema.” (Malachias 4: 6). Surely, if we are men, and are to retain our manhood, then our hearts must turn to the defense of our children.
I think it is only at this point – once our hearts have truly turned to militancy in defense of our children – that our eyes become opened to perceive the extent to which the Papacy itself is really suffering, that this suffering must be a visitation upon us by God in chastisement for our sins and infidelities, and that charity for all – for Christ, for the Pope, for our children and our own souls – demands the full revelation of certain truths which are, indeed, very painful for us to face. If we remain silent the darkness can only deepen, and our cowardice and emasculation only become more pronounced.
Finally, I wish to state that I do not support in any way either the sedevacantist position, or that of the SSPX or any individual or group that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church. I have written a small book on this subject which is now available as Part X on this website. I wish also to state that many of my articles have appeared in Christian Order Magazine, the website of which is www.christianorder.com.
On the Use or Publication of these Articles:
I desire the widest possible dissemination of the articles on this website, but wish it to be done with integrity, and in accord with the following stipulations.
First, I emphatically state that I accept both Benedict XVI and his successor Francis I as legitimate Popes, and that I am not a sedevacantist and also do not support any group, especially the SSPX, that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church.
Second, I do not permit any critical analysis of any article using a technique to insert comments within the body of the article itself. I believe that any well-written article is a whole greater than the sum of its individual parts, that continuity in reading it is necessary in order to be able to understand the whole force of the argument or position, and that therefore such a technique does unjust violence to the integrity of the work. An honest critical analysis therefore demands a separate article or treatment. This, of course, does not preclude the use of individual quotations, as long as they are taken in context.
I also wish to recommend that Article 1 of Part 1 be read first, as it contains an analysis of philosophical and theological principles necessary for the understanding of the rest.
Authored by: James Larson
Continue to Article 1