Amoris Laetitia: Part III
Modernism Invades the Catholic Heart
“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” (from Sister Lucia of Fatima’s letter to Cardinal Carlo Caffara)
The many critiques of Amoris Laetitia which have been penned in recent weeks are replete with accusations of errors in regard to moral theology: Situation Ethics, Consequentialism, Fundamental Option, Gradualism, etc. However, while all these errors are present, they do not penetrate to the fundamental, very specific heresy which underlies all the rest: the denial of the Catholic doctrine of Justification as taught by the Council of Trent. Pope Francis writes the following:
“For true charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous.” (296).
The Council of Trent teaches just the opposite. While the grace of charity is totally unmerited in itself (what Thomas calls first grace), it is not unmerited or unconditional in its application to the human soul. It is in fact the most merited thing in human life, requiring the subjection of the mind and will to God’s revealed truth, and the renunciation of all objective mortal sin.
Francis, in direct contradiction to Trent, teaches that “in an objective situation of sin [in the context of Amoris Laetitia, the adulterous situation of those civilly divorced and remarried is here clearly indicated] – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity…(305).”
There can be no possession of charity, and no “living in God’s grace” for one living in objective mortal sin. As the Council of Trent teaches, with one mortal sin charity and justification are lost. Nor can such a person “grow in the life of grace and charity.” As Trent also makes clear, sanctifying grace and charity may indeed grow and increase, but only where justification and charity are already present.
Sister Lucia’s statement quoted above, that the final battle between Christ and Satan will be “about marriage and the family”, might at first sight seem quite surprising. We might protest that there are deeper theological issues and doctrines which would surely have to hold a higher priority for Satan’s malice and plan of attack – such things as the divinity of Christ, or the truths concerning the Incarnation. We might further claim that even greater damage has done by such things as false ecumenism, religious indifferentism, the banalities of the New Mass, or the prostitution of the priesthood and the religious life to the world. I think, however, that we need to look deeper in order to perceive the depth of the threatened devastation which is now upon us.
In the spiritual warfare between Modernism and the traditional Catholic Faith, the Modernists’ goal of final victory has always been most severely hampered by one factor: the basic instinct (this word here used loosely) which is called the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful).
The Modernist works his wiles through the complexities of deceitful words and ideas. We think of men like Rahner, Kung, de Lubac, von Balthasar, Teilhard de Chardin. The average Catholic knows virtually nothing about these men or their writings. It is equally unlikely that they have read Pope Pius X’s analysis and refutation of Modernism in his great encyclical Pascendi. The faithful tend rather to believe the truths that they have received and which give meaning and purpose to the immediate realities experienced in their lives – family, marriage, the rearing of children, and their work. Their faith is in many ways protected by the births, loves, joys, sufferings, and deaths which form the rhythms of a human heart in touch with reality, and the life of God which is the light of their own existence: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
This is not to say that the Modernists have not enjoyed great success. Their perverse ideas have penetrated into catechisms and the education of youth, confused the faithful through such events as Assisi and all of the other scandalous ecumenical activities and pastoral practices, adversely affected their spirituality through the banalities of the New Mass, severely stained priesthood and hierarchy with virtually every sin conceivable, and penetrated with their poisonous atmosphere into every corner of Catholic belief and life. This has produced a massive loss in vocations, destruction of Catholic education, soaring divorce rates, widespread ignorance of, and dissent from, certain articles of the Catholic faith, and “filth” and corruption seemingly everywhere.
And yet, despite all sorts of ominous predictions, this Catholic “Thing” refuses to die, and in fact has shown surprising life in the very midst of all this chaos and filth. Many thousands of fathers and mothers have turned to homeschooling their children. Vocations to the priesthood have taken a dramatic turn upward, with many young men showing a deep interest in Catholic tradition, and even the traditional Mass. Something similar may be said in regard to the founding of new religious congregations, especially among young women. A profound poverty of orthodox literature and media sources during the 1970’s has been completely overturned. The establishment of Perpetual Adoration in local parishes continues to grow. And the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass continues to spread in dioceses throughout the world. The Catholic heart, though in many ways confused, fearful, and often seduced into excesses and error, is still very much alive.
And what is this Catholic heart? What is its deepest root and foundation?
St. Thomas teaches that three things must be held explicitly by all who would be considered to possess the Catholic faith (whether other articles must be held explicitly, or only implicitly, can depend upon various factors). Two of these are constituted by theological doctrines of the faith, namely:, all the truths concerning the Incarnation; and belief in the Trinity. But the other thing –which Thomas actually mentions first because it holds a certain priority in terms of the basic structure of the human heart in its deepest relationship to God – is to be found in the teaching of St. Paul: “But without faith, it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him.” (Heb. 11:6). And lest we think that such “seeking” is some sort of non-substantive quest with no specific demands or commandments, we need only refer to the words of Our Lord in the very last chapter of the Book of the Apocalypse:
“Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.”
In other words, the one thing most necessary for integrity within the human heart is the foundational principle of justification – that God is the source of all goodness and grace, and that our cooperation with Him is the necessary condition for all the “rewards” promised by Him. This is the root principle of all else – of Who God is, of human dignity and freedom, and of that charity upon which all else depends. It determines the basic orientation of the human heart upon which all intellectual and moral sanity pivots.
It is not a matter of mere historical accident that this was the “first truth” denied by Luther, and the corner stone upon which all the rest of his perversions were erected. His own moral, intellectual, and physical degradation was the direct natural fruit of this denial, as was the profound decay in Christian civilization, and all its institutions, which it effected.
And now, we stand at the edge of an intellectual and moral precipice over which the Catholic Church is being pushed into this same nightmare of the human heart. And it is the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation which is poised to be the engine of this destruction.
We now should be able to understand why the final battle between Christ and Antichrist may well be conducted over the issues of marriage and the family. The Sacrament of Matrimony, which is the absolute foundation of the family, is constituted as the primordial image of Christ’s faithful and indissoluble love for His Church: “This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the church” (Eph. 5: 32). As Pope John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio, “Their bond of love becomes the image and the symbol of the covenant which unites God and His people. And the same sin which can harm the conjugal covenant becomes an image of the infidelity of the people to their God…. Infidelity is adultery, disobedience to the law is abandonment of the spousal love of the Lord.”(12). Thus, the heresy in Amoris Laetitia over which the Church now hovers penetrates into the human heart as the most profound betrayal and denial of Christ’s love for His Church and, in turn, the Church’s fidelity to Christ.
A true sacramental marriage is the communion of love and fidelity within which God wills the formation of all children in justification and charity. It begins in the simplest of ways. A father and mother tell their young child that he can only have the cookie he desires if he first says he is sorry for some bad behavior. Thus the child learns that reward and repentance are intimately connected, and constitute the deepest “rule of faith” in regard to human life, love, and justice. All of this is shattered in a child who then witnesses his parents, while living in adultery, presuming to receive God Himself in Holy Communion. If we think that children do not “pick up” on such hypocrisy at a very early age, at least intuitively, we are very gravely mistaken. It is indeed a matter of pathos that Pope Francis offers “for the good of the children” as probably the primary “mitigating factor” which might allow those living in an adulterous union to receive the Eucharist.
It needs pointing out that the “liberalization” of the annulment process proposed by Francis is the other “end” of this hypocrisy. Satan now surrounds the Sacrament of Matrimony as a vulture awaiting the death of the Catholic heart.
It is also no accident of history that Luther’s denial of the Catholic doctrine of Justification culminated in his blessing of the adulterous second marriage of his protector, Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who became the leader of the Schmalkaldic League in its war against the Catholic Church. Luther denied the heart of justification and charity, and his blessing of adultery followed as a logical fruit. Luther bent his knee to Phillip of Hesse, the political power of his time; the Church now genuflects before the forces from which Antichrist will arise. One of the first things always instituted by Godless secular power is civil divorce and remarriage. They know where the Catholic heart resides.
Coming hard on the heels of the publication of Amoris Laetitia will be the journey of Pope Francis to Lund, Sweden on Oct 31, 2016 in order to initiate the year-long celebration of the Protestant “Reformation”, and the 500th anniversary of Luther’s issuance of his 95 Theses, This event will be the fruit of the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on Justification (1999) and the Vatican document From Confrontation to Communion issued in 2013. For an analysis of the significance of this event, especially as it relates to the topic which I have discussed in this present article, I refer the reader to my article The Dream of Nabuchodonosor, which can be found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/62
I wish to emphasize again that Amoris Laetitia must be rejected by the entire Church. It is absurd to believe that it can somehow be interpreted in the light of tradition. It is equally foolish and futile to petition the Pope for “clarification”. From a human perspective, the only thing that can alter this Pope’s trajectory is a wall of the sensus fidelium which loudly cries NO! It is presumptuous to claim that we must wait for God’s grace and intervention, while we remain silent in false meekness. Very possibly, the grace that awaits us is that we be given the heart to speak.
We need to do this most of all for our children:
“Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall 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: 5-6).
It is time to cast off cowardice.
- James Larson