Category Archives: Spirituality

The true ‘spirit’ of Vatican II, at last, exposed

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The average Catholic never imagined the depth of depravity and mendacity which could exist in the hearts of so many priests, Bishops and Cardinals. But at last the masquerade has ended and the perps are removing their masks.

There is much to be lamented in the Church since Feb. 28, 2013. But at last we know who has been behind the Aggiornamento, the Liturgical Renewal, and everything which is Vatican II.

As someone trained in Anthropology and who has done some translating from Latin to English, I always kept a part of my mind on neutral, presuming that there was some sort of good intention behind Vatican II: such as helping everyone understand easier the things of God. I readily recognize the problems the average person has in understanding Latin and in not being able to hear the teaching of the Church in the Liturgy in their own language on a daily basis. I wrote off the bad translations as ignorance, for the entirety of my adult life conceding only here or there, that bad will must have played a role.

But the universal acceptance and praise for Bergoglio’s advent by the Hierarchy and Clergy have finally convinced me that I was naive and overly trusting.

Bergoglio is the quintessence of everything wrong in the Church and of everything which needs to be excised from the Mystical Body of Christ. The Church has no need of fakers. There are plenty of opportunities in the secular world for men like that.

It is with Bergoglio that I finally understand why so many priests have hated me, throughout my life for simply believing the Catholic Faith. I remember my days in Minor Seminary, when I was accused of being rigid for only receiving on the tongue. I remember my days in the Monastery, when I was scoffed at for keeping the Rule. And I cannot forget the student from Steubenville University, at a ProLife March, who told me that the desire to be a saint was a sign of serious egomania.

I believe the Catholic Faith, everything in it. I have the utmost respect and reverence for the Catholic Priesthood and for the Episcopal dignity. But I do not have this by my experience. It is God’s gift, because, I can honestly say, I have never known personally a priest who inspired me to be holy, to follow Jesus, or to keep the Faith. I learned all these things from Scripture and the lives of the Saints, and the example of my parents’ simple unquestioning faith.

But with Bergoglio, its obvious to everyone, that the real reform in the Church which was necessary and which is necessary, is the Catholic priesthood. As Ann Barnhardt suggested the other day, the vineyard is so overgrown with rot, that the Church needs to start clean.

The true spirit of Vatican II is at last exposed: it is one of disbelief, hypocrisy, double-dealing, deceit, trickery, subterfuge, manipulation, pedophilia, sodomy, sacrilege, hatred of God, hatred of Our Lady, hatred of law and all honesty. It is the spirit of the clerical careerist who never had faith, of the Freemason, of the satanist and idolater.

The way to respond to Bergoglio, then, is jettisoning totally the propaganda of Vatican II. We need a Council of Trent reboot!

I say, “Council of Trent” and not “Pius XII” or “Saint Pius X”, because we need to return to the high ground of Catholicism, where the proposals come entirely from the bosom of the Faith and have nothing of the errors of modernity, modernism and marxism, and are founded on the most sober and sane doctrine of the Scholastics.  We have to get out of the idea that the Liturgy needs to be reformed or that progress is the natural course of history. And get into the idea that the clergy need to be reformed according to the image of Trent. And those who do not want to return to that Catholic norm: I think the salvation of souls requires that they be booted out of every institution in the Church, if they will not repent.

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They are not really men

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Perhaps I am old fashioned. I was raised to address everyone by their surname, and am old enough to know that it is improper to call the local priest by his first name. When I grew up men wore pants, which did not fall down as you walked along. Men grew side burns and did not use body spray or lotion.

And men were men of their word. If they made a promise they kept it.

Somewhere, however, some men became like 16 year-old conceited girls who rage at everyone else because of envy or jealousy or just egomania. I suppose that social media brings out the worst kinds of people, because if you acted the way some persons act on Social Media, but did it in the real world, you would return home with a bloody nose on a daily basis.

A real man, intellectually, is one who acts similarly. He knows the most unmanly thing to do is insult one’s opponent. You defeat yourself by insulting others. Your win the argument only by reasons which are better formulated and arranged than your opponent, and which are in conformity with reality.

But men who are not men begin with the insults. They more impotent they are the deeper their insults go. About the worst thing you could do in this regard would be by beginning to say of your opponent that he is not really married to his wife, he is only shacked up with her. The ring on his finger is just pretense.

I really do not know, therefore, how anyone can even consider such an insult as worth repeating. As a consecrated person, respect for the things of God is a grave duty. There would be no much point in praying daily if you do not respect God. To say of a consecrated person that he is a faker is about as low as you can go on the scale of insults. Its right up there will calling Jesus Christ a worker of prodigies with the help of devils.

I pity such men, for they are not really men.

I am a consecrated person of private vows who keeps the Regula Bullata of Saint Francis. I did a canonical novitiate as a religious brother in the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and after separating from them in 1996, I have kept my vows with the tacit or explicit permission of the local Ordinary (Bishop). My current Bishop is Pope Benedict XVI, since I reside at Rome. I wrote him in 2012 and asked his permission. He granted it tacitly and thanked me for the copies of my books which I sent him.

“Brother” is the term Saint Francis uses for all who keep his Rule. It is also the common term for a consecrated person who is male, in the Franciscan tradition. You can call me anything you like and use every insult in the book, but sadly that does not prove anything I say is not the truth. It would be more manly of you to simply disagree and say, “I will try to think of a counter argument. Good day”.

I suppose it irks some men who do not give a Bleep about Jesus Christ, that I wear a tunic and sandals as He did, because the Rule of Saint Francis obliges me to do so. But what can I say of them? Religion is not in appearances. Appearances do not make you holy. So it is the most unreasonable thing to envy another person for them. Someone who wears the religious habit or the priestly habit to look holy, has serious problems. True men only wear these things because of the obligation of their state in life.

This reminds me of the problem some men have with reality and perfection. To them, there is no reality but what their superiors concede them, and there is no perfection but in doing what superiors ask of them. Visible superiors that is. I was invited once to a meeting of Liberation and Communion, here in Italy, and one man asked what I did. I said was I translating Saint Bonaventure’s Commentarium in Quatuor Libros Sententiarum from the critical edition into English. And he retorted, “Who asked you to do that?” I said, “No one.” And he said, something like, “But how can you presume to do that, if no one has commissioned you to do it?” And what I said to him, I cannot remember. But, I could have just as well said, “Since when do you need permission to read a book!” He thought that was utter presumption.

This approach riles the proponents of the Aggiornamento. To them you need their permission to believe in Jesus Christ and their permission to follow Jesus Christ and their permission to pray in any given way to Jesus Christ. The thought that somewhere someone might be practicing the Catholic faith in a way that they cannot control makes them sleepless at night. They actually think that the entire obedience of every Catholic belongs to themselves. That is why they cannot stand, even on social media, that anyone have an opinion which they do not sanction.

I find such a mentality aberrant among priests. But it is inexplicable among laymen.

_______________

CREDITS: The Featured Image is a detail of a photo taken by Br. Bugnolo of the Statue of Don Juan of Austria, Captain of the Catholic Armada at the Battle of Lepanto, in the Piazza of Don Juan, at Messina, Sicily, the ancestral town of Br. Bugnolo’s maternal ancestors.

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How to make a valid Confession

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I could have entitled this article, How to make a good confession, but that title is so commonly used as to mean almost nothing. So in this article I want to talk about making a valid confession, on account of what that adjective means.

VALID

Valid comes from the Latin adjective, validus, which means having the strength to prevail to accomplish what was intended to be done. The word remains in some forms of speech, such as, He was a valid candidate for special forces training.

Valid therefore implies effectiveness and strength as well as real, in the sense of valuable and worth it.

A Valid Confession

In manuals of moral theology and of sacramental theology, the term, valid confession, is used to signify the reception of the Sacrament of Penance which is efficacious to obtain the forgiveness of sins. And this is generally held to occur under certain circumstances which are easily obtained: (1) confession of the sins, according to kind and number, (2) sorrow for having offended God, (3) fear of eternal damnation,  (4) resolution to sin no more and do the penance prescribed.

But Saint Alphonsus de Liguori counsels confessors that they should not so lightly judge a penitent well disposed, they should put him to the test.

And if the priest knew well the sources and causes of every vice, then he would be well prepared to put penitents to the test.

But not all priests are so familiar with all sins, because, sad to say, there is much about sins which only is known by the one committing them, even if the one committing them knows least of all the reasons not to commit them!

For that reason it is more important today, that you, the one confessing properly prepare yourself, because it will be most likely that the priest won’t know how to help you. It may even be that he does not want to help you prepare.

Sad to say, but true, the modern practice of the Sacrament of Penance is badly distorted from its Catholic foundations. Why it is not even called “Penance” any more. It is called, reconciliation, as term which implies that you have some comparable dignity to God to entreat with Him. Also the Sacrament is presented as a self-help dump-your-guilt-and-get-on-with-life ritual, which is as appealing to the normal human being as seeing a shrink: a vain form of self exhibitionism. If that is what you are seeking, do not read this Article. What I write here is for those who want to get to Heaven. Those who want to dump their guilt and get on with life in this world are in the chains of the devil and it is much better than they never receive the Sacrament in that spirit than abuse it with such a vicious mindset.

A Confession is more serious than a visit to the Hospital

But everyone should take the occasion of going to Confession as something much more serious than going to the Hospital or seeing your doctor. And you should approach the Sacrament with as much necessity and urgency as if you had a very painful toothache which drove you to see a Dentist. This is because not only of what it can do for your soul and body — save it from eternal damnation — but how powerful it can be for your eternal destiny. For some Saints one single confession set them on the path to holiness and transformed their life for ever. And this is the goal of this Sacrament, which in its own way, can be more efficacious personally to you than any other Sacrament after Baptism and Chrism (Confirmation).

Thus, all of us should go to Confession as soon as possible and with the right preparation. If we consider that if we do not get it right, our confession will merit us another mortal sin and another worse punishment in this world and in Hell, then we should prepare carefully. We should be more careful the more the priest who is hearing confessions is less experienced or foolish as to give everyone absolution. A thing which Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori says is a gross abuse, but a thing  for which Modernists bishops will severely punish any priest to attempts to deny anyone the Sacrament even when badly or not properly disposed.

The Causes of a valid Confession are the starting point

The causes of a valid confession are the starting point for a good examination of conscience, without which a good confession cannot be made. I say it is the starting point, because knowledge is not sufficient for a valid confession. You also have to be seriously  and honestly repentant.

The examination of conscience in modern times consists in giving the penitent a list of the 10 commandments written at the level of perhaps a 6th grader and asking yourself if you did anything on the list. This is atrocious malpractice.

Examining one’s conscience should rather look at the entire cause of the act, the decision to do the act and the reasons or motives which led to the act.

THE ACT

I mean by, the act, the sinful act. Many fixate on how many times they did it, but not on the gravity of consent in doing it. Was it premeditated or spontaneous, was it done with light or intense passion or emotion. Did the act harm others, was the act done in a circumstance wherein it disedified others. Usually one act is much more grave than it appears on account of whom it harms, when it was done, and the levity or gravity it was one with.

THE DECISION

Did you make it aware or unaware. Did you act under the influence outside you, or of emotions within, on the basis of faulty knowledge, mistaken judgements. It is not often, especially in modern times, that sins are made without thinking, due to the habit many have of practicing never to think of the morality of things, never to make judgements upon whether an act is evil or good. This is a grave vice, and is a sign that you are failing in faith or have lost the grace of God entirely. To live as an atheist, is to be an unbeliever. But to recognize evil as evil and good as good, is to recognize that God alone is Good and worthy of all love and obedience.

THE REASONS OR MOTIVES

If you with levity committed a mortal sin, that makes it very serious, because it shows that your entire conscience is darkened by a disdain or lack of valuation placed on things eternal, such as your own salvation, and on things divine, such as God’s Majesty and your duty to him. A mortal sin done with levity indicates, therefore, that the sinner is probably gravely failing in his duties as a Catholic.

If you committed mortal sin with great and intense passion, that makes it very serious in another way, because it indicates that your will is utterly depraved and lacks the charity for God, neighbor and yourself, to restrain violent movements. This is a strong indication that you were in mortal sin before committing the act, by reason of other sins or the same sin previously done but never repented of.

If you fell into the same sin, it indicates that you have not yet discovered the causes of your sinning in previous occasions, and most likely never resolved firmly to repent of them. Remember, it is not possible to resolve not to do something, if you as of yet do not understand why you did it. An examination of conscience has to be very graphically honest. Many fail here because they put the blame on some thing or some person or some occasion, when in truth a man sins only because his judgement is corrupted by attachments to creatures, in such wise, as he is open to the possibility of committing acts of idolatrous sacrifice — in this case of his own eternal salvation — to worship at their altars.

CONFESSION OF SINS

So a good examination of conscience must include the following:

  • Identify the kind and number of sins
  • Identify the evil loves or attachments on account of which you decided to sin
  • Identify the truths which you ignore or are ignorant of, which would have given your conscience light to say what you were about to do was evil

It is more important that you confess the kind of sin than the number, because you can always tell the confessor that the exact number of times is unknown or vaguely known. But you cannot conceal the kind of sin, though this does not mean you have to be graphic in your description.

SORROW FOR SIN

But more important than this first step, is the second: being truly sorry for your sin. This can only be achieved by a humble comparison of what you did and what you merit  for it. And in this step, do not even consider the Mercy of God, because your sin merits no mercy. And if you do not become truly sorry, you will never get the Mercy promised in the Sacrament.

  • Contemplate the eternal damnation which you merited for each mortal sin, or which you risk by each venial sin
  • Grieve in your heart and soul until you produce strong and stinging remorse for your sins, whether you cry or not. This can only be had by recognizing that sin offends a God of Infinite Majesty, and as high is His Majesty so, so profound is the punishment for rebellion against Him.

It is not nothing that the term for the proper kind of sorrow is called, contrition, from the Latin verb to crush to dust. You should strive in your Examination of conscience to crush your pride, topple your interior idols, and wring out your soul in tremendous sorrow for having done such evil, so easily, so carelessly, so quickly, so glibly. For this one needs to recognize profoundly that in truth we can do nothing meritorious, that the only thing which is really of our own making, in the moral order, is sin. That we are indeed in comparison to the Holy Angels a pile of crap, without God’s grace to transform us into holy sons of God. That of ourselves we can not repent or practice virtue without the help and grace of God.

Contrition, thus, implies the prayer of petition, humbly made, as by a beggar on death’s door, before the throne of an Infinite God of Justice who will take no excuse. Unlike the false images of mercy bandied about, you cannot obtain mercy unless you first exact justice upon yourself, in a just judgement of what you have done, and what you are worthy of.

FEAR OF DAMNATION

For this reason, contrition cannot exist or rise up in the soul without FEAR of eternal damnation. Fear of ETERNAL damnation and fear of eternal DAMNATION. All three are necessary. It has to be the sentiment and emotion of fear, the mere intellectual recognition will never produce contrition. It has to regard damnation, not just a slap on the wrist. And that means you have to already fear Hell. If you do not fear Hell, then you are probably in the state of mortal sin already, and this should be an alarm bell to your soul. And it has to regard the eternity of Hell, because the gravity of offending an infinite God is not perceived unless one recognizes the eternity of punishment for it as proportionate and just. And this means you should meditate on Hell before every Confession.

FIRM PROPOSAL TO CHANGE ONE’S LIFE

The final cause of a valid confession is that when you approach to confess you have already resolved never to sin again. If you do not have that intention DO NOT go to confession, because you will commit a mortal sin of deceit. This kind of mortal sin of deceit is very common, because so many confess to be relieved of the sense of guilt, not of the vice which produced the sin or the sin itself.

This proposal must include never to commit the sin again, to make reparation for the sin, to repair the injustice suffered by others on account of your sin or your bad example. Failing in any of these, and you probably are not really sorry for your sin, you just want to use the Sacrament to pretend you are not guilty for your sins any more.

And do not fool yourself. If you do not know why you sinned, if you do not recognize the errors which you embraced which allowed yourself to excuse yourself so as to commit the sin, if you do not know the moral law well enough to know the sins which led you to your sin, then you cannot possibly have a firm proposal.

This is the PRINCIPAL reason why one should find a holy priest to be one’s confessor, and a learned priest. The combination is very rare, but better a holy priest who is ignorant than a learned priest who is not holy. Because the latter will give you excuses, while the former will give you harder penances. It is when you are in the confessional with the priest, that you should ask for advice how to firmly propose not to sin again,  and beg him to convince you of that, otherwise do not accept Absolution, but rather tell him you are not prepared.

When we approach the Sacrament of Penance properly we obtain a miracle of grace, the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of our souls to eternal life. If we ask Christ, in our hearts, at the time of absolution for the virtues to never sin again, especially those contrary to our sins, we can obtain these virtues back too, in proportion to our sorrow for sin and our sorrow for having offended Him who is infinite Love Itself.

The Sacrament of Penance properly received, therefore, is the greatest enemy of Satan.

Use it frequently, use it well.

A CORRECT ACT OF CONTRITION

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
And I detest all my sins, not only because by them
I have merited everlasting damnation in Hell,

But most of all because I have offended Thee,
Who are infinitely Good and worthy of all my love.

Therefore, trusting in Thy Grace, I firmly resolve to sin no more,
to avoid the near occasion of these sins
and to do penance for them. Amen.

_________

CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photo taken by Br. Bugnolo of a wooden confessional at the Basilica of the Most Holy Savior, St John Lateran, here at Rome. The inscription reads: For those confessing in Italian.

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How to Pray: Part I, preparation

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

One of the most necessary things which most Catholics do poorly or omit frequently is prayer. And if you have had the grace and occasion to read the life of a true Saint, the first thing see in them is that they were devoted to God in prayer.

Without a doubt all Catholics pray and thus know how to pray to a certain degree. But why is it that so few become great Saints? — It is because nearly all of us for nearly all our lives never learn to pray correctly or well.

Yet prayer is the essence of faith, because, if faith leads us to assent to what God has revealed, then what is faith if it is not put into action by prayer. It is not only dead, it is frozen. Yes, faith is a virtue in the intellect and which governs the will, but a faith which does not pray is like a human being who has lobotomized himself. It is simply unnatural.

A definition of prayer

Saint John Bosco, whose feast was celebrated yesterday, held that the best way to educate students is to start with the best definitions.

Prayer is defined best of all as conversation or communication with God or one of His Saints in Heaven: by Saints, I mean the Holy Angels, Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and all the holy souls who have merited to be glorified with God in Heaven.

Motives for prayer

As we can see from our mundane human life, it is hard to live without talking to someone some of the time. Even the most reclusive hermit must speak with some human beings for those necessities which he cannot procure with the work of his own hands.

And this observation helps us understand that there are fundamental reasons for prayer. We pray for what we need, or for what we see others need. Our prayer can be motivated by trials or tribulations, which shock us into realizing we are in need. Or it can be motivated by our hope for better things in the future, or by our compassion for those who are in need, especially for those in darkness, doubt, despair, want, or confusion.

A lot of motives can bring us to pray, just as a lot of motives can bring us to talk to another person.

As Our Lord explained in the Book of Job, the motivation is not so important, as the praying. Even if you motives are not perfect or even wrong, you pay God respect by speaking with Him, even more respect than theologians who speak about Him but not to Him, as Jobs friends did.

How to dispose yourself to prayer

But it behooves, us, just as when speaking to other human beings, that when we pray to God or a Saint, we are properly disposed.  Being properly disposed regards things interior and exterior and things spiritual and material. It also regards things supernatural and natural. So let’s examine these.

INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR DISPOSITIONS

Obviously you cannot pray if you are thinking of something else. This is the first interior disposition. And obviously, unless you are quite adept of mind, you cannot pray intensely if you are doing something else. This is the first exterior disposition.

Now, in the modern world, when everyone is trying to do as much as possible, it seems strange to say this. But this necessity of not doing or thinking of something else is just as necessary when talking to others. Yes, if you are watching TV you can still respond to your wife’s question about who is going to take out the garbage. But when you go to a job interview you better not watch TV on your cellphone, during the interview!

Get my point?

Yes, there are times and there should be times that we praise God and express our affection for Him and His Saints when we are doing other things. This is true and right and very good. But such expressions are the matter of praise, and are obligations of faith and charity and hope. They help us sanctify the day in all we do. But they are low grade prayer, because they do not give God the attention He deserves, which is infinitely beyond the attention we should give someone who is considering to hire us for a job. — I say low grade, not according to their essence, because to praise God is the highest and perhaps the most meritorious of all prayers, but they are low grade in the way they are offered, while doing something else.

SPIRITUAL AND MATERIAL DISPOSITIONS

Spiritually, then, we should put aside all other thoughts or imaginations, and clear the clutter of our minds. This can only be done by an act of will. But not all understand that their will has this power, because they have never done it. This ability is like the ability to clean up your own room. If you never have done it, you do not know how to start and get it done. If you do it regularly, there is not much to do and you finish quickly.

For this reason, mortification, self denial and abstinence and fasting are corporal practices which help us clear the mind, because the distractions of the mind are all tied to things which are external or imaginations of things which are external. When we break with things which we love too much, we will clear our minds of the thoughts of them. This is why spiritual and material disposition go hand in hand. In fact, the first year students in Scholastic Theology at Paris in the 13th century were confronted by the shocking truth, told by Master Peter Lombard, that it is wrong to rejoice in anything, but God. Meditate on that for a while, and it will help you clear your mind by enabling to see how all the clutter in it opposes true joy and is a warning sign of idolatry of some kind or another.

There is also the material disposition of putting yourself in a place suitable for prayer and removing things from your presence which are distracting. This rule for prayer is why the Catholic Church has built so many Churches and Chapels and Convents and Shrines.

SUPERNATURAL AND NATURAL DISPOSITIONS

Naturally, we should dispose ourselves for prayer by proper preparation, that is, by doing things which raise our mind to God and prepare us to enter into prayer, such as being silent and still, turning our eyes to Sacred Images, or even reading some Scripture or part of a life of a Saint who inspires us.

Supernaturally we dispose ourselves to prayer by the practice of Key Virtues.

FAITH in God, that He is who He has revealed Himself to be.

HOPE in God, that He will be faithful to His promises to reward those who seek Him and who call upon Him.

LOVE for God, by which we exalt God above all our other desires and make ready to sacrifice not only the time of prayer but all other things which keep us from Him.

HUMILITY before God, by recognizing we do not deserve anything but punishment for our sins.

DISDAIN AND REVULSION for sin and vice, by which we detach our soul from things which drag us down to Hell.

The Crown of all, though, is being in the State of Grace

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. This is the teaching of Saint Paul. And this means if you believe the whole and true Catholic Faith, you can have the right motivation to beg God for grace even if you are in the state of Mortal sin, where you cannot merit to obtain anything from God, even if you do pray.

We cannot merit in the state of mortal sin or outside the state of grace, because we are  not in communion with God. Our souls, in such a state, reek with sin and darkness and are revolting to God. But we can even in such a state, by faith, beg for grace and beg the Saints to pray for us. And our having true Faith will merit us to be heard if we are humble, penitent and truly wish to be saved at all costs, and persevere until we obtain the grace of repentence, even if we must seek it for years on end.

But the State of Grace is the absolute necessity for efficacious prayer for all other graces, because just as the TV will not work without electricity, so the soul which is not plugged into the Holy Spirit, as it were, by being in the state of sanctifying grace, cannot function properly in prayer.

And Thus Confession is the door to efficacious Prayer

The Saints in life obtained great things by their prayers. And yet we might ask ourselves why this is not the case with us. This is because a lot more of us are in the state of mortal sin than we realize. Even those of us who have confessed our sins: not because the Sacrament of Confession does not work, but because we never went with a truly contrite heart and with a firm resolution. And in most cases this is because the priest never explained to us the evil of our sin and how to avoid it, and the roots of our sin and how to uproot them.

For example, some weeks go, I wrote an article on purity. See here. I can tell you that in my more than 45 years of going to confession regularly, I have never met a priest who knows how to explain in what consists the sin of impurity. Nearly all are confused into thinking it consists in looking or thinking or admiration. Few of them know how to describe consent to the movement of lust, which is what the sin consists in. That means that all those who go to confession to them are most likely never freed from their vice and thus remain objectively in mortal sin.

As Saint Alphonsus says, we should never presume before a sin, that God will give us true repentance. This is especially true of the sins of impurity. They are a deeply addictive scourge from which few escape even after lives of fidelity to God in all other things. These folks may not be judged by God as guilty of remaining in the vice, because they are so ignorant and have no one to shepherd them, but God nevertheless must justly judge them as liable for the sins and vice and must, therefore, withhold His graces in prayer.

This is why Confession and confessing well, scrubbing the soul down to our deepest desires and affections and hating and detesting with all the force of our minds and hearts the movements of our soul and body which led us to sin, is absolutely essential preparation for prayer. And this is why Saint Theresa of Avila says the first part of the spiritual life is learning to break from sin and mortify our evil passions. Only once we do that, are we, as it were plugged into God and can benefit by prayer in something more than the grace to repent. Until that time, we should beg God for the grace to be truly sorry for our sins and examine our consciences with no self respect until, in tears and groanings, we lament our wickedness and realize not only that without God we are nothing and merit the everlasting damnation of Hell fire, but that the very evil movements of our soul, which we have long permitted, are our eternal enemies and the works which we must entirely and forever reject.

In this regard, alas, most priests have been poorly trained. If you start to cry in confession or express doubt that you are truly sorry, they attempt to convince you that you are overdoing it or taking religion too seriously or are unstable or upset or scrupulous. The pitiable penances given after Vatican II show that the clergy have not received the proper formation to save souls. They think they are there to assuage consciences.

There is so much evil in the world today, that I do not think there is anyone actually scrupulous too much about how sorry he should be for his sins. Most saints wept their entire life for the few sins of their youth, and yet we, after a confession prance out of the Confessional as if we were sinless. That is totally wrong.

The Church in ancient times had a practice which was saner, in my opinion. The priests first imposed a penance, which lasted months or years, and only after faithfully completing it, did you receive absolution and were readmitted to communion. Many a Saint is a saint, because having realized the enormity of his sins, he became a monk or religious so as to do a life time of penance for the horrors he committed in his youth.

The obsession of so many clergy today to have married men ordained or ordained men allowed to marry, is a clear sign that many even in the clergy, have never made a good confession. For a contrite man fears the occasions of sin. And if God Incarnate Who could not sin and Whose human Flesh had no inclination to sin, never married, how much more ought we sinful men avoid the occasions of impurity, especially if we are called to the sublime service of God! — And do not quote the practice of the Eastern Rites. Married clergy was allowed in Council to keep priests from fornicating, not to make them holier priests!

So if you want to pray well, prepare well for prayer. Prayer is the only thing the Saints do in Heaven, it is literally our eternal destiny. Dedication to humble prayer is a sign of predestination. Preparation for praying well is preparation for Heaven.

Therefore, be humble, prepare and pray!

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CREDITS: The Featured Image is a faithful reproduction of Duccio di Buoninsegna’s, Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and is in the public domain. Our Lord’s prayer in the Garden is a model for the prayers of sinners who need to break with sin, choosing repentance at the cost of all sacrifice rather than eternal death, as well as the proper dispositions we should have when we seek God’s favors for ourselves or for others in prayer.

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Our Lady requested prayers at Midnight, Rome time

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Bl. Catherine Emmerich was given to know much about the future of the Catholic Church, nearly 200 years ago. She was given to see the time of two popes, and how one would lead the Church into apostasy, the other would be isolated and paralyzed by inaction.

As a remedy, Our Lady revealed to her that Catholics should join together to pray a special prayer at Midnight, Rome Time.  It is presently midnight here at Rome, so please read these prophecies of Bl. Emmerich, approved by the Church, and say the prayers Our Lady asked for. (Sources: here and here)

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May 13, 1820: “I saw the relationship between the two Popes. I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome). The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness. Then, the vision seemed to extend on every side. Whole Catholic communities were being oppressed, harassed, confined, and deprived of their freedom. I saw many churches close down, great miseries everywhere, wars and bloodshed. A wild and ignorant mob took to violent action. But it did not last long.“ „Once more I saw the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect, while storms were damaging it. But I saw also that help was coming when distress had reached its peak. I saw again the Blessed Virgin ascend on the Church and spread Her mantle [over it]. I saw a Pope who was at once gentle, and very firm . . . I saw a great renewal, and the Church rose high in the sky.“

August 10, 1820: “I see the Holy Father in great anguish. He lives in a palace other than before and he admits only a limited number of friends near him. I fear that the Holy Father will suffer many more trials before he dies. I see that the false Church of Darkness is making progress, and I see the dreadful influence that it has on people. The Holy Father and the Church are verily in so great a distress that one must implore God day and night.“ „Last night I was taken to Rome where the Holy Father, immersed in his sorrows, is still hiding to elude dangerous demands (made upon him). He is very weak, and exhausted by sorrows, cares, and prayers. He can now trust but few people. This is mainly why he is hiding. But he still has with him an aged priest who has much simplicity and godliness. He is his friend, and because of his simplicity they did not think it would be worth removing him. But this man receives many graces from God. He sees and notices a great many things which he faithfully reports to the Holy Father. It was required of me to inform him, while he was praying, of the traitors, and evil-doers who were to be found among the high-ranking servants living close to him, so that he might be made aware of it.“

August 25, 1820:I do not know in what manner I was taken to Rome last night, but I found myself near the Church of St. Mary Major, and I saw many poor people who were greatly distressed and worried because the Pope was to be seen nowhere, and also on account of the restlessness and the alarming rumors in the city. These people did not seem to expect the church doors to open; they only wanted to pray outside. An inner urging had led them there individually. But I was in the Church and I opened the doors. They came in, surprised and frightened because the doors had opened. It seems to me that I was behind the door, and they could not see me. There was no office on in the Church, but the Sanctuary lamps were lit. The people prayed quite peacefully.“ „Then I saw an apparition of the Mother of God, and she said that the tribulation would be very great. She added that these people must pray fervently with outstretched arms, be it only long enough to say three Our Fathers. This was the way her Son prayed for them on the Cross. They must rise at twelve at night and pray in this manner; and they must keep coming to the Church. They must pray above all for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome.“

“She (the Holy Mother) said a great many other things that it pains me to relate: she said that if only one priest could offer the bloodless sacrifice as worthily and with the same dispositions as the Apostles, he could avert all the disasters (that are to come). To my knowledge the people in the church did not see the apparition, but they must have been stirred by something supernatural, because as soon as the Holy Virgin had said that they must pray to God with outstretched arms, they all raised their arms. These were all good and devout people, and they did not know where help and guidance should be sought. There were no traitors and no enemies among them, yet they were afraid of one another. One can judge thereby what the situation was like.“

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CREDITS: The featured image is of the Statue of Our Lady of Peace, in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. The source of the English translation of the writings of Bl. Emmerich is not known.

 

Marks of the Beast: Solidarity in Dissent

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I have previously written an extensive description of how the horrible sin of pride is the hallmark of wicked men in the Church since the time of Vatican II, in my article on The Downfall of Luciferian Pride.

Today, I want to focus on one of the outstanding characteristics of the unfaithful who are members of the Church of the Antichrist, though they may not realize it or admit it. I want to do this because it is very easy to fall into the camp of Lucifer without realizing it, because, as I said in the previous article, the vice and sins of pride, being the most evil, are the hardest to discern and recognize, because they are full of the deprivation of the being that should be in an act of virtue. And that makes them spiritually invisible, except to the very humble who desire to glory solely in the Divine Majesty of God.

Ann Barnhardt’s Righteous Indignation

I am continually impressed by the righteous indignation of many devout Catholics on social media. Righteous indignation is the sense of disgust and anger which rises in the heart of someone who loves God and puts God first, and this kind of indignation is expressed solely because the rights of God are being transgressed.

As you may know, in recent years, months and weeks certain clergy, religious and laymen, who insist Bergoglio is the pope, because they refuse to doubt for a moment that Cardinals and Bishops are infallible, have begun to fault Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His promises to Peter, the teaching of Vatican I on Papal Authority and Infallibility, and the credulity of the Saints in regard to the Roman Pontiff’s authority and magisterium.

A recent example is the declaration of the Hermits of Westray, Scotland. Who know well what the arguments for Benedict still being the pope are, but refuse to harken to them, because they prefer to deny the indefectibility of the Catholic Church or the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff which they cannot reconcile with their more cherished “belief” that Bergoglio is the Pope.

One of the more shocking and sustained attacks came recently from Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, in his blog post entitled, How Francis may be vindicating the “inopportunists” of the First Vatican Council, published by Lifesite News, run by the Campaign for Life Coalition, a political organization out of Toronto, Canada, whose editor is a Mr. John-Henry Westen, co-founder of Lifesite and of the Voice of the Family Coalition, one of the leading “Bergoglio is certainly the pope” politicians-journalists.

Ann Barnhardt rightly unloaded a cartload of righteous indignation on Dr. Kwasniewski’s attempt to undermine the infallible teaching of Vatican I, in her recent post, entitled, Hey! Here’s a wacky idea. Instead of assuming that God is incompetent and Vatican I and the declaration of the infallible dogma of Papal Infallibility was all a big mistake…

I will quote the key passage, which I want to focus on, as a preamble to a discussion of the Marks of the Beast.  Ann Barnhardt, addressing the problem many Catholics are having, from Cardinal Burke down to the last man in the pew, to understand how a man like Bergoglio could be the pope, says decisively:

Maybe if people would attack this controversy from the base assumption that GOD ALMIGHTY is THE PERFECT ONE as manifested in His Spotless and Indefectible Bride the Church, in His Angels, and in His Saints, and that THEY THEMSELVES are deeply fallible and so very capable of error, INSTEAD OF THE EXACT OPPOSITE,  there might be a bit more clarity of thought round about.

(Bold Face in the original)

What Ann Barnhardt is addressing is PRIDE. And a particularly diabolic kind of pride, which holds that the unholy fallible trinity of “I, me, and myself,” knows better than the Holy Infallible Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

No use talking about modern errors, if you embrace them without so much as a wink of the eye

What is so ironic about her observation is that it is valid against a good number of popular writers and speakers and YouTube personalities, who either ascribe to or have been leading members of the so-called “Traditional Movement” in the Catholic Church since the time of the Second Vatican Council. A group which has made it a point and raison d’entre to fault the errors of modernity.

These errors consist in Modernism, Neo-Modernism, Relativism, Individualism, Secularism, Humanism, Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Liberalism, Progressivism, Hedonism…  Have I left any out? Probably.

However, when it comes to the controversy of how a man like Bergoglio can be thought to be the Vicar of Christ and act more heretical than any lay leader of one of the main line Protestant “churches”, then their opposition to certain modern errors is cast to the wind and instead some of these errors are readily embraced.

First of which is Modernism, which holds that that which validates religious belief is interior religious sentiments, not objective revelation. For the Modernist, Papal Infallibility is not a gift from God, but the habit of mind of believers to take whatever a Pope says or does and regard it as a religious doctrine. For that reason, there is nothing wrong in criticizing Catholics throughout history who had this sentiment.

Second of which is Neo-Modernism, which holds that there is no unchanging eternal truth revealed by God, but that religious truth consists in conformity of the mind to modern life. Neo-Modernists think that the Church is dead unless She is in the process of continual aggiornamento, that clergy are not properly formed unless they are undertaking continuous formation, etc. etc. For them no event can be condemned by religious doctrine because events themselves are the goal posts of truth and the sacred. They worship history, but not as something that once was, but which is always changing. Hence, papal infallibility must also now be reconsidered and redefined in light of Bergoglio’s way of acting.

The Third of which is Relativism, which holds that there are no absolute moral truths implicit in human nature or in an eternal unchanging law. Truth is found in the right relation of things and actions in the here and now. And right, here, means what is suitable to me. Relativism in turn gives birth or opens the door to Hedonism and Individualism, the definitions of which are well known. Hence, what papal infallibility should mean today is not limited to what it meant before. And what I think it should mean is more important than what any Saint, Doctor of the Church, or previous Pope said it meant, because what is most important is that I have a pleasant experience of Catholicism.

Bergoglio is certainly the Pope, because …

Many Catholics unwittingly have adopted the errors which I just mentioned in a very imprudent attempt to rationally explain why they hold the position that Bergoglio is certainly the pope.

None actually confront the historical facts, which are as follows:

  1. Pope Benedict, as the man who is the pope, renounced the ministerium in his declaration of Feb. 11, 2013.
  2. Canon 332 §2 says a Roman Pontiff renounces when he renounces the munus.
  3. Canon 17 says that Canon 332 § must be read in accord with the Code of Canon Law’s usage of terms, canonical tradition, and the mind of its legislator, Pope John Paul II.
  4. Benedict behavior after Feb. 28, 2013, shows that he retains the papal dignity in all respects.
  5. The idea that Benedict’s renunciation of ministerium means a renunciation of the papacy comes from a tweet by Giovanna Chirri, an ANSA reporter, minutes following the Consistory of Feb. 11, 2013.
  6. No meeting of canonists was called to examine the act of the Renunciation to determine if it was valid or not.
  7. The Vatican has never officially claimed that the renunciation was valid.
  8. The Cardinals have never claimed that they did anything to verify that the See was Vacant before meeting in the Conclave of 2013 to elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
  9. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a public manifest and pertinacious heretic, idolater and fomenter of schisms, who by divine right cannot be a member of the Catholic Church, let alone hold any office in Her.
  10. The Church has NEVER taught that the Cardinals or Bishops or even all the clergy are infallible in matters of canonical interpretations or knowledge of historical facts.

Instead, these “Bergoglio is certainly the pope” Catholics take another route.  They hold that the solidarity of opinion of the vast majority, who say Bergoglio is the pope, is more authoritative than:

  1. God who is infallible by nature.
  2. Christ Jesus who created the office of Saint Peter and promised it infallibility.
  3. Christ Jesus’ Prayer for the person of the Pope that his faith may NEVER fail.
  4. The First Vatican Council in its decree, Pastor Aeternus.
  5. The Code of Canon Law of 1983 promulgated by the Vicar of Jesus Christ, Pope John Paul II.
  6. The words of Pope Benedict himself during and after the Renunciation of Feb. 11, 2013.

Solidarity in Dissent, is a Mark of the Diabolic

The essence of pride, the vice, is dissent. This is because pride as the worst of all vices is directed more principally against the truth and against knowing the truth, than all other vices.  Pride is a spiritual vice and since the intellect is the most spiritual of all the powers of the soul, pride takes root first of all in it.

We can see this in Scripture, where, from the name of Saint Michael, who according to Saint John the Apostle, in his Book of the Apocalypse, was the first Holy Angel to act out of holy indignation and take up arms to fight against Lucifer and his angels, that the sin of Lucifer was pride.  For Saint Michael’s name means, Who is like unto God? A name, which, according to the Fathers of the Church, he merited for repelling the evil suggestions of Lucifer who suborned and seduced a third of the Angels of God with a sin of pride.  Lucifer then was probably saying something like, Worship me, because I am like unto God!

But this is also the sin of all prideful men.  When you by any act of mind or will or body or soul do something which presupposes any affirmation that you have the merit, right, worthiness, power, protection, etc.. that only God has by Nature, then you are committing a sin of pride. This is so, because you are acting as if you were like unto God in such a way as to fail to distinguish that you are much more unlike God than like Him, and that you fail in being like Him in 3 principle characteristics:  You are not omniscent, You are not omnipotent, You are not infallible.

Omniscent means all knowing. Omnipotent means able to do all things by your own power or ability. Infallible means able not to err.  I could add impeccable, which means unable to sin, but since a proud man is already entirely oblivious to his ability to sin, I will omit that here.

It follows, then, that since Lucifer seduced the Angels of God by pride, and that those who fell with him and were cast out of Heaven by the Divine Power and Saint Michael and his Angels, that one of the marks of the diabolic community is their solidarity in pride. And that means solidarity in the misuse of their intellects in dissenting from the truth.

Dissent, which merely means disagreement, can be good or evil. But when it disagrees with objective reality or revealed truth or even a truth which we know is true on account of other truths, natural or revealed, then it is evil, a mortal sin. This is the dissent of which I speak in this article.

Our Lord points this out for our observation, when He calls Lucifer a liar and a murderer from the beginningBecause a liar attacks a truth because he disagrees with it. And a murders kills a living thing, because he disagrees that it should be allowed to live.

Solidarity in Dissent is, therefore, the Mark of the Beast

Solidarity in dissent, therefore, must be the chief mark of the Beast, that is, the chief distinguishing characteristic of all the members of the Church of the Anti-Christ, the Mystical Body of Satan.

Saint John the Apostle indicates this symbolically in his Apocalypse, when he says that in the days of the Antichrist no one will be able to buy or sell anything without having the mark of the beast inscribed upon their right hand.  According to the Fathers of the Church this is a symbolic expression, chiefly, for the conspiracy of the wicked in acting on principle out of falsehood. The biblical number, often translated as 666 is actually in the Greek text written very similar to sss, three Snake like symbols which were used in Asia Minor, in the time of Saint John, as the symbol for the number 6, which in the bible indicates the fullness of imperfection.  And since pride is the fullness of all vice, and vice is the moral habitual failing which leads to imperfection and wickedness, 666 is a pre-eminent symbol for pride and dissent.

Whether the number 666 means more than this, is another consideration. I am here giving a mystagogic reading of the text, that is, a reading which applies to the moral or spiritual life and how we should or should not be living our lives today.

But the “Bergoglio is certainly the Pope” people are doing just this. They are acting out of a spirit of solidarity in dissent from the 10 truths which I listed above.  They ignore all arguments, refuse all reflections and reasons, even conversations, which would lead them to confront the fact of what they are doing. They have willfully blinded themselves to the truth and they show absolutely no worry whatsoever of what might or will befall them for denying and dissenting from truth. They do this because they do not want to separate themselves from the massa (damnata)* who define themselves as dissenters from these truths. They do not want to disagree with the Cardinals and Bishops who reject these truths or close their eyes to them. They are literally willing to risk their eternal salvation on the basis of this solidarity in dissent.

And it is true dissent, because they do not even attempt to give reasons for what they are doing. They only lash out with insults or vicious punishments, calumnies etc..

These catholics are profoundly confused. The unanimous or near unanimous opinion of men might be truth in the political order, but it is not the criterion of truth in matters of canon law. That many of these Catholics are very political people might indeed explain why they cannot understand that in the Church democracy or politics means nothing. Truth means everything.

Indeed, it is the teaching of Christ, Scripture, the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, the Doctors of the Church, the Saints and the Magisterium throughout the ages, that to deny even one truth is a mortal sin meriting eternal damnation. But a godless politician will never accept or understand this.

This is why solidarity in dissent is the preeminent spiritual mark of the beast. If you have this mark, then you are a member of the Church of the Anti-Christ, no matter what religion you practice, what mass you attend, what Cardinal you follow, or what you otherwise might think of yourself, as holy or impious.

Solidarity in dissent can last a long time. It is what destroyed and is destroying the Protestant Churches, who agreed in the Reformation to deny certain Catholic truths, and in that tradition, from which they refuse to break, they ran into the necessity of denying other truths. — This follows the spiritual law of moral degradation, namely, that if you deny one moral truth with unbending firmness and fidelity, then you will be forced to sacrifice your adhesion to other moral truths, until you become utterly depraved and ultimately are driven insane. This is why among men, insanity is a hallmark of the diabolic. — And this is why Protestant Churches, or any group which practices solidarity in dissent, such as those who deny the 10 truths above, cannot be saved: they are doomed by that solidarity to fall into continually worse and more diverse errors and vices.

So I warn all: solidarity in dissent is a mark of the Beast and so long as you are marked with that mark, you belong to that Beast.

________

* “Massa damanata” is a Latin phrase used by Saint Augustine of Hippo to name the collectivity of all the damned souls. Massa in Latin means mass, damnata, means damned.

 

What gift are your bringing the Babe of Bethlehem?

The Three Kings present their gifts to the Child Jesus, in the 17th Century Life Sized Christmas Creche, at Acireale, Sicily.

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I do not know from whence arose the secular custom of making a New Year’s Resolution, but Catholics have a much better motive for changing their lives at the beginning of a New Year: Epiphany.

Epiphany is the ancient Christian Christmas. That is, the day on which Christians gave presents was not Christmas but Epiphany, the Feast of Manifestation. On this Day, Christians celebrated the miracle of the changing of water into wine, which Our Lord performed at Cana, in Galilee, to reveal Himself to Israel and begin His public ministry. On this day too, Christians celebrated the visit of the Magi to the Child Jesus, at Bethlehem, since it was on that day, that the first Gentiles came to adore the God-King of Israel.

The Three Kings gives us all an example of Christian life. That our life should be a pilgrimage, which is guided by the Light of Heaven, and which leads us to sacrifice and leave behind everything, so that we might lay down the treasure of our life in an act of adoration of the one True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and in doing so, be found worthy to enter the House of the Holy Family, in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So what the Three Kings did on Epiphany, is an archetype of what we should be doing every day our our lives, and each year.

Let this be the motivation of your new years resolution. What gift are you going to give the Child of Bethlehem this year?

Let your gift be a gift of myrrh

Myrrh was a rare substance, the dried sap of a tree which only grew in the hottest and driest parts of Arabia. It was burnt at funerals as a sign of morning and to cover the stench of the decaying body.

Myrrh in Christian traditions has thus always been a sign of mortification and of the spiritual gifts we give God by mortifying our passions.

And the best gift of Myrrh you can give is purity.  Because lust, howsoever little it be indulged in, is a mortal sin. And many live in this vice their whole lives, deceiving themselves into thinking, that what Our Lord speaks of, when He says, “If a man so much as look as a woman desiring her, he commits adultery with her in his heart”, he is speaking of the desire for a particular woman, the use of the imagination, or a consummated act imagined or wanted.*

No, the truth is, as the Saints teach us, that Our Lord is speaking of the simple desire to rejoice sexually at sight of her.

A whole generation of Catholics were ruined by an anecdote which was told about Pope John Paul II, that, namely, he had the habit of looking at women as the passed by. And that he excused himself saying it was only a sin if you looked twice.

This is simply not true. It’s a mortal sin. And it is not just mortal for a man who is not free to marry, such as a priest or religious or a man who is already married. It is mortal for all men and all women, whether they get a rush from it or not.

This sin consists in desire, not in acting, not in imagining, but in allowing oneself the desire. It is wrong to feel another person in this way, just as it is wrong to feel the sight of any human being, yourself, or another, in this way. This is why the use of pornography is always, in every circumstance, a mortal sin in itself. For since the consent to experience pleasure is a perfect moral act, as no one does this who does not know of the pleasure, who does not will to accept it, and who does not will to rejoice in it.

Purity on the other hand consists in repelling or rejecting with disdain and disgust impure desire, and in taking every step to avoid its occurrence, through modest dress, turning aside the eyes, and avoiding bad company and the use of social media when one is being tempted.

Let your gift be a gift of Frankincense

Frankincense was the sweetest smelling of all incenses. Frank- in the English word, means the common kind of.  All scents of incense, which are made of dried resins, use Frankincense as the base, since it has the ability to carry every scent into the air in its smoke when burnt.

Frankincense, thus, is a symbol of spiritual gifts which continually rise from the heart.  And these are best categorized under the name of prayer.  As Christians, we are called to everlasting continual communion with God. And since God is a Spirit, we can only do this through prayer, continual prayer, which is founded upon acts of Adoration, Praise, Love, Faith, Hope, Petition.  This is the true desire which should fill the heart of a Christian and blot out all lust for this world.

Let your gift be a gift of Gold

Gold was and is the treasure of kings. As a gift in the hands of the Magi, it symbolizes the greatest gift we can give, of our own selves and of our very lives, purely to God out of love for Him. Let us resolve to do all the good and non-evil things that we do, for the love of God. And let us resolve never to do anything which is sinful, not even venially.

He guards the gold of his own soul, who best protects it. For what do you have more precious that your immortal soul, which by its nature exists FOREVER. And which cannot know eternal blessedness except in GOD and WITH HIM forever.

The promise of eternal salvation in Christ, then, should be in the forefront of our minds NOT ONLY as the greatest reward and treasure we can possibly have, but as the only reward and treasure which we can have FOREVER.

And, thus, the best protection of this gold of our soul is to make every decision in view of our eternal salvation and that of others. We should use this criterion always: What way can I do this in a way which does not endanger my soul? If there is no way, then do not do it even if it appears licit. If it is evil, then flee from it, regardless of how many of those around you fling themselves into it.

What gifts are you bringing the Child of Bethlehem this Epiphany?

Today is Saturday: go to the store of Confession and buy by your tears and firm proposal of amendment one or more of these gifts, to present to the Child Jesus at Mass on Epiphany, this Monday!

(I will leave it to those more adept than I, to guess which King is which: leave your guesses in the Comments section, if you like).

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* For those not familiar with Catholic teaching on morals, please note that this case deals with a woman who is not your wife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male affirmation and the Secret to Purity

murillo-the-holy-family-c1660

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

As you can see from this blog, From Rome, I make it a point to write about topics about which I see no one talking, but which need to be spoken about. In this post I will speak to those men who are slaves to the sins of impurity and how to be liberated in Christ. This is the “you” to whom I speak.*

Some of you have been enslaved since your youth, because no one told you in time what was a mortal sin of impurity and so you developed an addiction to sins of this kind. Some of you had such an addiction and broke it. And some of you fell into such an addition later in life.

The first advice I can give you, is not to take advice from someone who is addicted to the same sin. The internet is full of individuals, with or without degrees in pertinent fields, who are obviously addicted to impurity since they openly say there is nothing bad about such an addiction.

The best advice, of all, is to take the counsel of God and His Saints.  This matter is very serious, for as Our Lady says at Fatima, the sins of impurity take the most souls to hell. And Saint Alphonsus says that no soul goes to Hell without the sin of impurity, just like no soul gets to heaven without the virtue of humility.

The second advice I can give you is, that you need to recognize that without Jesus Christ you cannot be saved. There is no self help which can save you, or which you can practice, without Jesus.  That is because, the addiction to the sins of impurity is not just a physical or chemical addiction, but a spiritual addiction.

Why?

Because, the power of procreation which God has given to men and women, is not merely a biological power. In virtue of the fact that this power cooperates immediately and intimately with God’s creative power, in creating new human souls, at the moment of conception, the power of procreation is the one biological power which touches upon the supernatural and is inextricable from the spiritual.

To understand at the most basic level this power, consider that in 80 days each and every individual adult man in the world (even the most chaste) produces enough zygotes to repopulate nearly the entire planet with its present population. God made the man this way to show us how the power of procreation touches upon the Infinite power of the God of Life.

The misuse of such a power, then, is a very spiritual sin, it is not just a carnal sin.

Now many have spoken about what to do to break such a horrible slavery, from the point of view that these sins are carnal. The first things are fasting and abstinence, which in modern times must be said to include reducing the intake of proteins, vitamins and all nutritional sources, liquor and eliminating all stimulants, whether taken internally or used upon the body. The total destruction and removal of all pornography which you keep at home, in your office, in your car, or under your control (if you have the habit of hiding it elsewhere). The mortification of the eyes and imagination. The firm resolution never to commit such sins again. The removal of your person from occasions of these sins. Ending all evil friendships. Corporal mortifications, such as cold showers. — And in this one must recognize that there is no little sin of impurity. That is, there is no venial sin of impurity. Impurity is always a mortal sin. Because impurity as a sin consists in the use of the procreative power in a way in which it is not ordered to the conception of new souls in the womb of your wife. For that is the only reason and purpose God gave you to use this power.**

These are some of the necessary means to break addiction to carnal sins.  Almost every man who has ever asked me counsel about such matters is one which I find, upon interrogation, is NOT practicing the above, or is addicted to self indulgence, as for example, eating too much red meat or using pornography.

But today I want to speak about the spiritual side of this sin. And not simply that a man falls into this sin because he does not have the habit of praying, such as praying the daily rosary. This is true, but why is it true?

Men commit sins of impurity because they are trying to prove something to themselves. This seems at first somewhat of an absurd and abstract statement, but it is not.

This is because, at the human level, we are not pure spirits, nor pure bodies, we are the union of an immortal soul and a mortal body. And often an individual who neglects to recognize this union of extremes in himself, takes action on one level, when action is required on the other level.

Thus, men who consider themselves a failure in anything visible try to compensate by proving that in something else they are a success in something else which is visible. This is why sins of impurity are so common among young men who are in a crisis about who they are to be and whether anyone really loves them in this world, and why they are so common among men who are in a crisis in their marriage or career or job, because they either do not find that they are loved by their wives, or because they think that failure in some other matter, requires them to attempt to succeed by being impure.

I will leave it to psychologists to enumerate all the occasions in which the sense of failure leads immediately to sins of impurity, especially the sin of self abuse, but I will enumerate some.

  1. Failure to win a spot on the team or in the club.
  2. Failure to succeed in a project or mission.
  3. Failure to convince others of your point of view.
  4. Failure to win at some contest.
  5. Failure to distinguish yourself in come accomplishment or talent or in good looks.
  6. Failure to be accepted by someone or group in which you put your hopes for self affirmation.

From the sense of failure most men react by seeking to affirm themselves by some act of impurity. By this they attempt to prove to themselves that they have what it takes to be a man and/or have it more than or better than those men whom they perceive to be their rivals or role models, whether as fathers or as peers.

And this is why only Jesus Christ and the identity He offers you in His Kingdom can save you.

Because only that kind of salvation which is interior and which satisfies that which we need most fundamentally, can rescue us from the real spiritual problem in which we fall, which consists in this, that we recognize that we have failed to be what we were never made to be WITHOUT RECOGNIZING what we are called and made to be.

This is verified in sins of impurity. Because the onset of such sins is nearly always at a time in life in which the individual has in his own eyes failed, because he is seeking to be that which he is not.

And the most common error here, is that a man seeks to be a man who is perfect according to the body, when in truth, we are made to be men who are perfect according to the soul. When we try to satisfy that which Saint Augustine calls, the most intimate desire of our heart, in something else, we find it does not fit, we then consider ourselves a failure, and then we try to make up for the dent or damage to our innermost conception of our own dignity. That is why, as St Augustine says, Thou has made our hearts for Thee, and they are restless until they rest in Thee.

And to be precise, I am not talking here about merely psychological depression. I am talking about ontological depression.

That is why we cannot be saved except by the Most Holy Trinity. Because when you turn back to the Most Holy Trinity, you turn back to the Source of all Order and Identity.  And repentance will be just that: the decision made possible by God’s grace and YOUR collaboration with it, to seek again that which you were made to be and to stop wandering down ever-narrowing dark alleys of existence, in which there is no lasting consolation, but only worsening deprivation and worsening emptiness.

We are called to be the adopted sons of the Eternal Father. We are called to be the adopted brothers of the Eternal Son. We are called to be the adopted temples and soldiers of the Eternal Lord and Vivifier, the Holy Spirit. And I will add, we are called to be the beloved sons and knights of the Blessed Virgin, Our Mother in Heaven.

We are called by a Love which has contemplated our own personal individual existence from Eternity. We are called by this Eternal Love to be loved eternally. We are called by this Love which is God to be loved by everyone in Heaven, perfectly and forever. There, where God will wipe away every tear and sorrow and all shall be gladness and rejoicing. A Beatitude which we will posses in soul, but which also will pour over out of our souls into our bodies.

This is why, the most powerful prayer to break from the slavery to the sins of impurity is the Our Father. Because in this one prayer we can come to understand that our eternal destiny our ultimate and perfect affirmation, consolation, encouragement comes from the Eternal Father and finds its fulfillment only In Him.

This is also why repeated meditations or confessions which focus ONLY upon the eternity of hell and how horrible and terribly we have failed God by sins of impurity, is NOT going to solve the problem. It may even make it worse, because it increases the sense of failure and gives no hope or direction where to find true success.***

So my final advice is to contemplate that throne next to Himself to which God has called you, and for which He has made you and in this way you will find a stable ground upon of grace upon which to step forth from this slavery.  For if you want that throne in which is found all goodness, you must understand that you must give up all impurity. Because just as the power of procreation touches upon the Infinite, so the virtue of purity is the root of immortality.

Because in the task of being something, where it really matters, that is, in getting to Heaven, God Himself with His Eternal Love and with His Omnipotence, has both made you in Christ and empowers you with His Holy Spirit — if you accept the challenge — to succeed eternally and achieve perfection in being eternally loved by everyone in Heaven, and not according to the flesh, but according to who you are, which is that according to which you are unique in all the cosmos, in all time and eternity.

May Our Immaculate and Ever Virgin Mother, who is so saddened when She sees us sin in any way, especially against purity, be your refuge and path back to God. For She who never was in any way impure was rewarded with the greatest joy in Heaven and She wants you, as Her adopted child, to enjoy that with Her, for as a Mother, Her heart can not rest until She sees you with Her in Her home and at Her table.****

________

* And I speak to men, for no other reason, that being a man, I know something about being a man. I will readily confess, that as a hermit and consecrated virgin, I know nothing about women.

** And yes, that means, if you do not have a wife, you should never use this power. To understand this, let me use an example from an entirely different matter. At a gun range, when you practice shooting, you shoot at a target. If you shoot at anything else, you will never be allowed to return and may also be arrested and sent to prison. These are the rules of a gun range.  And God has His own rules, because all Creation is His Range, and God Has an eternal prison, it’s called Hell. And Arresting Angels (not nice people at all), who are the angels of destruction and damnation (a.k.a devils) which take those in mortal sin to Hell.

*** This why I believe it is necessary for Confessors, during confession, not simply to hear the sins of impurity enumerated by the penitent, or simply talk about the eternity of hell which they merit, but to remind the sinner that he is called to a true destiny where he can succeed in arriving, because God is at his back every step of the way.

**** And She has many graces which no one ever asks Her for. One of which, is the grace to be worthy of Her love through a life of purity. For only the pure shall merit to kiss Her hand in Heaven.

And Despair is for losers…

by Br Alexis Bugnolo

I recently shared an article on the importance of turning to Our Lady in the times of darkness, because Her example of Faith and Charity are a light for all the faithful when all other lights go out.

But today, I want to point out another great truth, that cannot be left unsaid, but which has been left unsaid for much too long.

That Our Lady is our most powerful example of Hope.

You see, those addicted to sin and all the workers of evil cannot preach about Hope in the world to come, because they have already despaired. For as the Saints teach, one cannot turn irrevocably over to evil, to the dark side, without the terrible sin of despair, which is always mortal.

The danger of despair is more prevalent than we think. It is one of the chief errors spread by both Islam and Marxism. Both systems of thought are fatalistic, because neither knows the path to God.

For Christians, Hope began long before the salvation of each of us, and we hope precisely because God created a Path to Heaven, When He descended to Heaven. That path is Mary. This is the teaching of Saints Louis Marie Montfort and St Maximilian Mary and all the great devotees of Our Lady who are saints.

Yes, Jesus is our Hope, because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. But because sin separates us from God and the experience of this separation is what the Devil uses to inspire souls to spiritual sloth, which is the mother of despair, the crucial medicine against Despair is Our Blessed Mother, whom on account of being our Spiritual Mother in Heaven is a path back to God in a way God can never be, because God the Son, as God, was never alienated from God the Father or God the Holy Ghost.

OUR BLESSED MOTHER is also a great example of Hope against despair, because She never lost hope even when it appeared that evil had completely triumphed over Her Son and His work. Even when Her own people persecuted the Church She prayed more fervently for the conversion of sinners, and, as the Saint say, obtained the conversion of Saint Paul, the Great Apostle to the Gentiles.

Without such hope, man tastes a bitter alienation, because his sins separate him from God and the life in God.

And man from the beginning has known this alienation. Yet, as the Fathers teach, just as man became alienated from God in the beginning THROUGH A WOMAN, so did God in the end times provide that man, who is alienated, come back to Him THROUGH A WOMAN.

This is why,

All the Devil needs to purchase your soul, is Despair

Despair is the price of souls, who are damned, just as Hope is the price of souls to be redeemed.

This is because no sin paralyses a soul completely but despair. Without despair, a soul knows there is a possibility of salvation for it IF IT JUST collaborate with grace enough to be moved CLOSE ENOUGH TO GOD to be saved.

Despair prevents the following good works which are necessary for salvation of the individual soul:

  1. Prayer for the grace to repent.
  2. Works of penance for sin.
  3. Avoidance of sin, for souls in the state of mortal sin.
  4. Asking God, Saints and fellow men for help to over come sin and bad habits.
  5. Confessing one’s sins.
  6. Encouraging others in the life of virtue.
  7. Worthy reception of the Sacraments.
  8. Good works necessary to save sinners.

For this reason, the agents of darkness know well that the worst thing they can do is to preach against Despair. They work to spread despair by announcing all their evil triumphs. They promote despair by doing nothing against them. This is the sign of every false Apostle. Sound familiar?

But the worse despair is that which despairs even of seeking the help of Mary, who is our great example in every virtue and who is especially quick to heed the cries of Her children in every need!

Despair, thus, by its very nature cuts the soul off from all hope for redemption, salvation, improvement. This is why…

Despair is like a snake, it does not jump upon you, it slithers into your soul

by means of spiritual neglect. This neglect is called sloath. First you omit one good work, then another, then this or that prayer, then another. Then you stop frequenting Church, you leave off reading Catholic books, or the writings of the Saints. Or if you do you read only prophecies of doom and destruction.

And the next thing you know, you are preaching despair to those around you, because it is the best excuse for doing nothing and allowing the world to go to Hell.

And without realizing it, you have just become an Apostle of Damnation and a card-holding member of the underworld on Earth.

The Danger of Despair is too great

Unfortunately, on Social Media there are an abundance of such false Apostles. That is the chief reason I refuse to publish comments, when they are laced with despair. There is  nothing more against the virtues of Faith and Charity and Hope than to preach that nothing can be done, evil cannot be opposed, the conquest of the wicked is inevitable.

And the really wicked trolls attempt to attack Catholics on social media precisely on this point.

Despair has a more wicked Twin Sister

Despair, I like to say, has an evil Twin Sister: Presumption.  Presumption is the habit of thinking God will give something when you do not merit it. Satan attempted to introduce Presumption twice into the Church. The first time he was crushed by the disciples of Saint Augustine, when he tried to get men to believe that salvation was in their power, they did not need Christ. That was the heresy of Pelagian.

The second time, he succeeded in damning hundreds of millions of souls, through his servant, Luther, who taught that a man is holy, the more he presumes the grace of God. Luther called his vice of presumption, “Faith” to conceal its poison. But those who bought the lies of Luther quickly fell to despair because the system of Presumption, in not having recourse to all the Sacraments, to the Communion of Saints, to Penitence for Sin, most importantly, quickly leads one to realize it cannot achieve holiness except through pretense. This is why protestant churches are always splitting. It is their last attempt for hope. Except they never get rid of Despair’s Evil Twin Sister, and so Despair soon returns to their house.

Catholics need to slap themselves in the Face…

If you accept the presumption of Protestants, or the fatalism of Muslims, then pretty soon you will no longer believe that it is necessary for your own salvation that you do anything to protect others from evil. And with that error embraced by more and more Catholics, the Church would fail.

That is why the truest sign of a true Catholic is that they are dedicated both to prayer and to good works to save others! Because prayer without works is a vain exercise, which God will not answer. And works with out pray is presumption, that God is not or does not have to be in the equation.

And the worse kind of despair and presumption is found among those who believe the Church will be overcome by the wicked. The second, is that “I” personally do not need to do anything to achieve the victory, I can wait and watch for it to happen, as if the Book of the Apocalypse were a TV program or something!

No, the truth is, all those who stand around watching, are already part of the Mystical Body of Satan, because sloth is a mortal sin! Presumption of victory is a mortal sin! And Despair that you can do anything to contribute to the victory is a mortal sin!

Remember, Victory is only attained by those who fight for it

Somehow, I do not know how, but somehow a good number of Catholics got the crazy notion, that the Church in the end will triumph over Satan and the wicked, and that “I” will share in that victory, even if I do not fight.

The problem with this CRAZY IDEA of making salvation history into a sort of soccer or football game which I can watch and still participate in the victory of the winning team is this:

IN MATTERS OF SALVATION, THERE ARE NO ONE IN THE BLEACHERS OR ON THE BENCH.

Everyone is one the field. So if you are watching, you are already on the wrong side of the field, because you are in the League of the Devil. And despair is for losers….

Thus, You can only participate in the final victory, if you are playing on — not cheering for — the right team, NOW, TOMORROW AND FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

The Church of Rome alone is guaranteed the Victory

And if you want to be on the winning side, then you need the Office of Saint Peter, because of all the graces God gave for victory, there is ONLY ONE, the office of St Peter which He promised would never be overcome by the forces of Darkness.

This is why asserting the renunciation of Pope Benedict is valid is SO PURELY AND HELLISHLY DIABOLICAL.

It is diabolical because it leads inevitably to despair through presumption, as if the Church can exist with a heretical pope, or prevail against the Darkness with an Office of Peter which does not produce victory.

But others err in another direction. Namely, they believe that somehow the Anti-Christ will conquer the Church of Rome and that the papacy will cease.

If you have not noticed, Christ promised that His Church would never be overcome. And He gave to His Church the office of St Peter. And that office the Apostle Saint Peter left as an inheritance to the Church of Rome. Hence, the Church of Rome will endure until the end of time and share in the victory. But not every other local Church, for many will be overcome by darkness.

This is why all the Saints had confidence when they fought on behalf of the Pope or the Church of Rome. They knew the means for Victory were there, if they could just put them to use or put them back in working order.

This is what we Catholics who know that Benedict is still the Pope are doing. This is the great merit of being on the winning side and knowing how to achieve the Victory. This is why it is not presumption or foolishness to fight for the Faith at Rome. And this is why I write this Blog.

This is also why winning here, at Rome, for and with the true Pope, Benedict, is so essential for winning everywhere else in the world.

O IMMACULATE CONCEPTION,
OUR HEAVENLY MOTHER AND OUR GREAT SIGN OF HOPE
for when mankind was sunk in the depths of his sins,
God the Holy Spirit worked His greatest miracle of grace:
the creation of your soul!

O Mother of Our Redeemer and most beloved daughter of the Eternal Father,
look with all the tenderness of thy Maternal Love on me
a wretched sinner,
and vouchsafe to once again touch my soul with HOPE,
so that I might return to the zealous practice of the Faith
to which God imbued me in Baptism,
anointed me in Confirmation,
and wants to restore me in Holy Confession.

HELP ME TO REMEMBER ALWAYS

That this is not a battle in which I can remain on the bleachers. Because, you want me to be with you on the winning side, a victory I cannot share in unless I fight for it.

AMEN.

_________

CREDITS: My photo of the Sepulchral Monument to Pope Leo XIII at Saint John Lateran, at Rome. When, with the Papal States ended, all spoke of the imminent disappearance of the Church of Rome, Pope Leo guided the Church in the greatest expansion of faith the world had ever seen, by sending missionaries to all corners of the world and increasing the total Catholic population by several fold.

 

 

In Her tears, the Church can find salvation from the Apostasy

La-Salette-o-pranto-de-Nossa-Senhora-800x445

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Many things in the Church are left unsaid, but should not be. Most of them which come to mind are evil things, horrendous sacrileges and scandals.

But there are many things which are left unsaid, out of neglect, or a lack of appreciation. And most of these are good things, wonderful things, treasures coming down from Heaven.

In this post, I want to talk about the most precious of these gifts: the tears of Our Lady. I speak here of the gifts with a little, “g”, not of the “Gifts” with the capital, which refer to the Eucharistic or Divine Miracles.

If you have not noticed, Our Lady has been crying a lot lately.

First of all, this is Scriptural: that Our Lady endured the most intense sorrow at seeing Her Son rejected by the High Priests and condemned to death by the Roman Authority and rejected by most of Her own people, crucified and executed as vile criminal. This is a matter of faith, “A sword of sorrow shall pierce your own soul” (Luke 2:35), as was prophesied to her by St. Simeon, the day Our Lord was presented in the Temple as a babe.

But whether Our Lady cried at Calvary, is debated among the saints, with some saying She did, others saying She did not, because of the immaculate perfection of Her humanity allowed her to hide her suffering out of humility. The Holy See weighed into this controversy around the time of the Council of Trent, I think, and outlawed images of Our Lady which showed Her overcome by sorrow, collapsing at the foot of the Cross or fainting away, as contrary to Scripture, which says clearly, “Standing at the foot of the Cross was Mary the Mother of Jesus….” (John 19:25-27)

But in the ages after Pentecost many an image of Our Lady has wept: tears of water or human tears, tears of oil of crisim and even of human blood.  During the Reformation a sold white marble Statue of Our Lady wept tears of blood or water 5 times at Ficarra in Sicily. It is thought Our Lady worked this miracle to show Her profound sorrow at the loss of so many of Her children to the evil lies of the Reformers. I had the great honor to walk in the procession of Our Lady, at Ficarra, in 2011. The devout do it with bear feet on the hot pavements of August.

In 1846 on Sept 19, Our Lady cried at La Salette, France, in the French Alps, saying the sins of mankind were now so heavy She could not avert the wrath of God. This was the first of Her great modern Apparitions. It says a lot, that in the first one She show us Her tears. At La Salette She revealed the corruption of the clergy and the downfall of Rome and the rise of the Antichrist. La Salette is the most beautiful setting Our Lady has ever chosen. I can still vividly remember my visit there in 2004. Make sure to get some of the waters from the spring, which confer the grace on many a soul to repent of their worst sins.

Our Lady of Siracuse

Then, in 1953, from August 29 to September 1, there was the extraordinary weeping of a tiny image of the Immaculate Heart at Syracuse, Italy. A shrine stands there to commemorate the miracle.

I have visited this shrine several times in 2010 and 2011, and can assured you, though the Church is horribly ugly, that Our Lady grants tremendous graces of penitence in this Church and other special graces to guide one in the fidelity to their daily duties and vocation. — It is generally thought in Italy that this prodigy was a warning of the tremendous disaster which would occur at Vatican II. Indeed, in 1953 the Freemasons in the Church began their plan to overthrow the Church from within, because they could not endure the Dogmatic definition of the Assumption of Our Lady body and soul into Heaven, to take the seat of their lord, the cast-down Lucifer.

There have been many other occasions of such prodigies: Statues of Our Lady of Fatima, of the Mystical Rose, even of Our Lady of Guadalupe. One image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New Mexico, USA, which began to weep tears of Chrism on the Solemnity of Pentecost in 2018: a sign I believe refers to Her sorrow that so many unworthy men are being ordained priests and consecrated Bishops.

Another image of Our Lady wept human tears for several years at Fresno, California, beginning about the time of the first Synod on the Family: I sign I think refers to Her tremendous sorrow at the bishops allowing divorce and giving the Most Blessed Sacrament of Her Son to public adulterers.

IF YOU KNOW OF OTHER WEEPINGS, please include a link to information about them in the comments below, so this post can become a treasury of such for Her children who love Her the most.

Why does Our Lady show us Her tears?

The reasons are many. First of all, there is nothing more evocative to a human being than to see their Mother cry. All faithful children want to do whatever they can to assuage the sorrow of their mother.

So we can be sure, since Our Lady is body and soul in Heaven, that She works these prodigies by the grace of God to send us the strongest message possible: that She is horrendously saddened by sin.

Sorrow for sin is not necessarily salvific. It can be if it leads to repentance. If it is just moved by remorse at suffering on account of our sins or not achieving the crimes we wanted to achieve, it is actually worthy of damnation.

But Our Lady’s Sorrow for sin is co-redemptive, because by it She united Herself perfectly to Jesus on the Cross and contributed Her sorrow and Her offering to that Salvific Sacrifice. This is why the Popes call Her, “Corredemptrix”, because by it all that Jesus Merited for us, She also merited for us. Christ merited much more, and in not all of that did She merit, but as far as we are concerned She is most worthy of the title of collaborater in the work of the Redeemer, which in Latin is, Corredemptrix.

By these tears, however, Our Lady’s purpose is to encourage us, too, to weep for sins.

First for our own sins. And with tears of penitence. With a deep and fiery sort of sorrow which plunges our thoughts to how we merited the horrendous eternal punishments of hell, and how we sinned with such disregard for God’s goodness, for the gratitude we own our Creator, Savior and Redeemer, and in utter disregard for all the good things God and the Saints have done us in our lives.

This kind of burning sorrow washes away the punishment of sins (if we are in the state of grace) and disposes us to make a good Sacramental Confession (whether we are in the state of grace or not). It is the kind of sorrow which makes Confession effective. Without this sorrow, our Confessions rarely are, though many presume they are. That is why so many keep confessing the same sins. They confess without the sorrow which goes down into the soul.

In Her tears the Church Herself can find Salvation from the present Apostasy

Everyone is wondering why no one is doing anything about the horrific pontificate of Bergoglio other than saying that we should shut up and endure it.

This is because so many souls have shut the doors of their hearts to sorrow for sin!

Making reparation for sins is good. But you should start with your own sins, and if you were sincere you would have little time left for others’ sins.

The perfection of sorrow of sins is the source of new life in the Church: it drives souls into religious life to do penance. It makes men realize how important it is that they become priests to save souls. It repairs broken marriages, broken vows, broken friendships. It makes reparation for all kinds of sins.

We need to cry at the horror of our own sins. We need to ask for this grace of tears. The great Saints had it. And if we pray to Our Lady to experience this sorrow, whether we cry tears or not, we are doing a good work, because we all could use a lot more sorrow for sin in the Church.

We need to pray in addition that this grace comes upon the Clergy, from Pope Benedict down to the last seminarian in the Church. The clergy have been pretty much doing their own will for 60 years and they have ruined the Church by it. Only if they begin to weep, will they find the way back to God.

For having tasted true sorrow for sin, the soul is made a warrior against sin. And only with such a rebaptism can we fight the Apostasy and the Apostles of Sin.

These tears are most powerful. For they are in a way a sharing in the tears of the Co-redemptrix, as powerful as the Blood of Christ for us, according to the efficacy of their power to bring us back to God when we have spurned the Blood of Christ. — That is why the Agents of Apostasy hate Her under this title, Corredemptrix, and fear Her tears so much. That is also why they so often deny that it is She who is crying.

O My God,
I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I DETEST my sins
not only because by them I have merited Thy just punishment in Hell,
but most of all because by them I have offended Thee,
Who art the infinite Good and worthy of all my love.

Therefore, trusting in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
I firmly resolve to sin no more,
to avoid the near occasions of my sins,
and to do penance for them. Amen.

CREDITS: Images of Our Lady are, in order of their appearance: Our Lady of La Salette, Our Lady of Syracuse, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Hobbs, NM, USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Souls in the time of Apostasy

The Statue of Saint Michael the Archangel, at the top of the Castello San Angelo, Rome (click for image credits).

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Today I want to confront and address the most urgent and crucial problem for the lay Catholic: the problem of apostasy among the clergy of one’s own local area.

This problem is crucial because without the Church we cannot be saved. And thus without Catholic Clergy we cannot have the sacraments and guidance we need to be saved.

I know of this problem first hand, since I am not a priest, nor do I have any particular talent at convincing priests of anything.

What I say here is for those of you who do not know your local priest well, or who are going to attempt to speak to a priest whom you do not know. For those of you who have a close friendship with a priest or your pastor, you might be able to undertake the core argument (see below) immediately after mass, because he knows you and trusts you already. So do not take my advice as some sort of scrupulous book of rules to follow. It all depends on the priest and your relationship to him AND whether he sincerely and ardently believes the Holy Faith.

Spiritual Warfare: Preparation & Armor

We live in dark times. And the workers of darkness have achieved already notable successes in deluding nearly everyone on earth in one or more error. This is especially true of the Clergy whom we know, nearly all of whom were ordained after Vatican II. Since the Council there has been an organized effort to turn priestly formation into a mind control process whereby, whatever priest who does survive, more likely serves the Club first and is willing to sacrifice God, Church, souls and you and your family for the Club.

Therefore, above all the first weapon we must use is spiritual discernment. And to have this we need first of all to put ourselves in the grace of God by a good confession and firm resolution to take the side of God and to collaborate with Saint Michael the Archangel in everything he may direct us..

This does not mean that he will start talking to us, but if we have confessed ourselves sincerely and show ourselves to be walking on the path of virtue and not of sin and hypocrisy, he will assist our guardian angel to give us little inspirations which lead to greater ones..

I recommend as essential spiritual-military preparations for the prospective spiritual soldier in the legion of Saint Michael, that, in addition to Confession, you do the following:

  1. Consecrate yourself to Our Lady, especially under Her title as Corredemptrix, which She merits on account of her perfect collaboration with the Redeemer in meriting all the graces for us which He merited for us (cf. Fatima Prayer, “O Most Holy Trinity”), a title given to Her by Catholics for more than 800 years and which shows clearly that we have a way back to God when we spurn the graces of Christ; a way back, which He Himself established in His Infinite Mercy for sinners; a way back which was merited by Her surpassing humility and sorrow for sins, the two virtues which are key and essential to the personal conversion of every soul.
  2. Make a pact with Saint Michael to never look upon what is impure and to ask him to protect you from near occasions of sin.
  3. Ask forgiveness of your Guardian Angel for having ignored him throughout your entire life, for having disregarded so many of his good counsels, for having lived your life as if you were to live it on your own and not at God’s direction, for having claimed so many good ideas as your own, when it was he who inspired them, and for having disregarding so many good counsels to avoid sin and to practice virtue. As penance promise to obey his advice in every occasion from now on, and to mortify your mind of all idle thoughts by stop listening to music or the radio all day long, and by spending time each day in daily meditation in silence, keeping a spirit of prayer, by conversing with Jesus, Our Lady, the Saints and your guardian Angel throughout the day, in the silence and sanctuary of your mind.
  4. Say 5 decades of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary daily.
  5. Receive communion worthily when possible.
  6. Offer alms to the truly poor in reparation for your sins. Do works of mercy to which you are invited or see the need as you see the need, but without neglecting your duties first to your family (parents, children, siblings etc.) and work (as contractually required, avoid the excess of making your job your life, as Christ is your real boss).
  7. If your health can bear it, to fast on Fridays for your own sins, especially for following your emotions, passions and vices into sins. Fasting means eating less and less frequently in humble penance for sins. If you have had a bad habit of mortal sin, and are still tempted, make a clean break with your past life by a rigorous series of fasts, several days or every day of the week, for several weeks or months or years. This is especially needed for those who have given themselves up to gluttony, which is a very common vice in the developed countries of the world.

Spiritual Warfare: Ammunition

Now since the battle at hand requires that we achieve victories by delivering souls from the delusion of error, it is necessary that we prepare ourselves intellectually to explain how lies are lies and errors are errors.

The regular readers of my blog have a good head-start, because the whole purpose of my blog is to give this kind of information, which both orientates you, explains what is going on and gives some counsel on how to react to it.

But you need to also make a list of the biggest problems in the Church right now, because such a list is an excellent way to prepare talking points with priests. I will not suggest what you should put on the list, because it is best that you make up your own, because those issues you think most important are the ones you are apt to be able to speak about most sincerely and from the heart.

As for printed information, for priests I believe that not all information is needed or necessary or useful. But I do believe that the information at ppbxvi.org is the essential: The Canonical Argument, the Scholastic Question and the text of the Academic Conference. Having a copy printed out, with you, when you speak to priests is an easy way to leave something to continue the conversation, if he shows signs of openness to the truth. But to orientate yourself for any eventual discussion and to prepare yourself for any eventual objection, I recommend reading all the Article on the Index to Pope Benedict’s Renunciation.

This is because our Ammunition in this spiritual warfare is Truth about what really happened, what the Code of Canon Law really requires, and how the problem of the invalid resignation is not a complaint generated by faithful who dislike Bergoglio, but a real objective error of interpretation which puts those who accept the error in objective separation from the communion of the Church.

Spiritual Warfare: Strategy

In the science of War, there are two aspects which must be kept in mind and developed in a way that pertains to the realities on the ground: Strategy and Tactics. Strategy is the overall goal and plan for conquest. Tactics are the rules for conducing individual battles so that each can be won without dissipating or destroying allied forces, which are needed for other battles.

STRATEGY:  The strategy in this battle is to save the local Church. This requires that we convert Catholics to the truth of what is going on. Now since every military force which is not adept at war is green and needs experience before tackling the most formidable opposition, the best way to start is to chose battles which are easy to win and which, if one fails, will not damage your own forces. Then having learned how to fight by trial and error in small and easy battles, the trained warrior can move on to the more difficult battles, assisted by experience gained and allies won in the first battles. Thus the most difficult battles, that of winning over your Bishop, for example, or getting your entire Diocese to reject the Apostasy, cannot be obtained initially without these preliminary battles. And the best way to practice this warfare, is not to start with priests, but with fellow laymen and laywomen.

INTELLIGENCE GATHERING: The local Church is a society. This society has a structure and way of operation. There are links between persons and persons, between institutions and institutions, of friends to friends and of work associates with work associates. This is the terrain of our warfare. Only Catholics who have lived their lives in the local Church can know of this. And to the extent that we do not know of it, we need to inform ourselves through our personal contacts with faithful Catholics who know better than ourselves. Essential to this initial battle preparation is intelligence gathering of such information. Try to find out who are the best and closest friends of the priest with whom you are going to speak, or which priests he admires most or were instrumental in his own vocation. There are some priests who on account of their learning, piety and sociability are respected by more priests than others are. Approaching a contact first, before approaching the priest, will help you understand whether he will be open to the truth, and will help you acquire, possibly, an ally in the approach, who might recommend to the priest that he speak with you, or recommend to you how to approach him.

The most influential priests in your diocese should be considered the most crucial and important battles to win. You do not want to start the spiritual battle with such a priest unless there is very sound grounds you are going to win it, because the results of a loss will be more devastating, as the enemy will be assisted greatly by recruiting such an ally.

Spiritual Warfare: Tactics

Tactics regards the rules of fighting individual battles of any kind. There are things to be done before initiating combat, things to be done at the start, middle and end of each battle and things to  be done after the fight is won or lost.

BEFORE COMBAT

Prepare yourself spiritually and bring along plenty of ammunition, either in printed form or in memorized information. Essential intelligence gathered should have already indicated that the priest with whom you are about to speak is able to understand what you are going to say and willing to accept hearing it from you, at the time you ask, and in the manner you present it. Your intelligence gathering should already have assured you that this priest will not be afraid of you, or have heard calumny about you, so as to be on the defensive as soon as you approach him.

Pray to his guardian angel and to your guardian angels, to Saint Michael, the patron saints of you and the priest, and to the patron saints of the Parish and Diocese and Church, and those famous saints of your land our country. Explain to these Saints and Angels your intention and how important this fight will be and how you cannot succeed without their intercession and participation.

It makes a big difference, too, whether the priest is a pastor, or merely an assistant pastor: whether he be a diocesan or member of an institute. Some dioceses or institutes are mind-control societies and no free thought is allowed. Some priests are more independent and courageous and are willing to stand for the truth or for their own personal opinions. Do not try to win on a battle field which is unwinnable. If the priest is merely a robot, pray for him. If the priest is manipulative, avoid him. If he does not have a reputation for being faithful to the Church, go on to another priest, because the conversation you need to undertake would be too much for a weak or errant or non-thinker.

STARTING COMBAT

Never do what is done in real warfare: never use surprise. This is because in spiritual warfare, truth enters the soul when the person is relaxed and in the mood to accept information and use his reason. It is important therefore that the time of conversation be one in which the passions and emotions of the priest are lulled, that he has time to speak with you,  and that your presentation does not seem to be too burdensome to him. So never sneak up on a priest for such a weighty conversation as this. Ask to speak with him at a time comfortable to him.

I would, therefore, recommend, that if you know the priest, to approach him at such a time. But if you do not know the priest, to arrange a meeting by asking for an appointment. Be sincere and say that all the scandals in the Church are causing many Catholics to think of leaving the Church and you would like to speak about some of these things to get some priestly advice. If a priest does not accept such a request, then do not nag him. Another way to approach, is if he is hearing confessions, then you can do this during your visit, though make sure not to start an actual confession, because if you do, you will bind him by his priestly duty not to speak or act upon whatever you may say.

When to start speaking to a priest about these things is, thus, more an art of knowing the individual priest, than a fixed rule. Due to the diverse dispositions and work of each priest, when to do this might be in entirely different situations, times of the day, days of the weeks, or locations, whether on parish grounds, or perhaps over a dinner at your house or a restaurant. Most priests are overworked and appreciate an invitation and friendly conversation.

CONDUCTING THE BATTLE: Opening salvos

At all times remain calm, friendly and polite. The objective is to spread truth and this only happens in a climate of trust and respect. If what you say or the way you say it cause the priest to be offended, apologize for upsetting him and explain you are only a layman who is not familiar with how one speaks of such things with priests. Also, make it clear that you are discussing this with him in private. Do not imitate me in my conversations with the Curia, because what I am doing at Rome is for the good of the whole Church to inform everyone. Your battles remember have the strategy of winning over your own diocese, and your tactics have to target individuals and secure victories. Keep your victories a secret and do no publish them. The objective, remember, is that the clergy of your own diocese publicly take a stand on their own initiative and as they think best.

As I suggested, have prepared a list of the major or most serious scandals in the Church today, as you see them. Gently move the conversation to one of these, and point out how damaging it is for the faithful who have increasingly more and more reasons to stop going to Church and stop trusting priests. Ask in a spirit of desiring to understand better and engage the priest in doing something to bridge this confidence gap.

If the priest expresses himself as a believer and as someone who is concerned about the truth and about the imminent destruction of the Church, then begin to point out that as Catholics our faith requires us to be consistent. We cannot believe in private and act as pagans in public. This is particularly true in Church. If we continue to pretend that the Church is communion with those who reject Jesus’s authority, then the faithful will just leave and seek Jesus elsewhere. If we continue to treat Jesus in the Sacrament as a candy to be given to everyone regardless of whether they are His friends, by being in the state of grace, or not, we teach in practice that Jesus does not exist and the the Faith is a joke and a farce.

At this point a priest will make it absolutely clear whether he cares or not. If he does not care, move the conversation on to something else or end it, and express your disappointment gently and with respect. For such priest, ending by saying something like, “I believe in Jesus, I want Jesus, and I do not know where to find priests who love Him as I do.” But chose words the way you speak. You want to make the most of every lost battle by leaving in a way that allows another encounter in the future. For priests such as this, who care not so much about truth, but sentiments, you need to show that he has failed in his conversation with you.

If the priest does make it clear he wants to save souls, then point out to him how important it is for him publicly and in his actions and words to take a stand. Explain that the laity only respect priests when they speak the truth, take a stand for truth, and encourage them to do the same. Many priests have forgotten, by the hum drum daily work they do, repetitious, that the laity want leaders in the path of God.

If he responds positively to this line of conversation, point out how in the past clergy have been heroic leaders in times of crisis. They did not fear to speak and they did not fear to pray publicly and preach publicly in accord with the truth. Point out how in today’s world, it is not infrequent that the battle for souls depends on truth and that journalists and a lot of others are habitually inclined to misrepresent the truth. The very ones who daily decry the Nazis are often the very ones who use his tactic of the Big Lie to deceive the masses. That is why priests who defend the truth are so needed today.

If he does not want to be heroic, ask him about how he feels when he does and says one thing in public, and another in private. Does it not cause an interior conflict or depression at having to pretend to go along with lies against the Faith, but personally believe the truths of the Faith? You can talk about all the hot topics in your diocese, such as ecology, woman priests or deacons, support of persons who are enemies of the Church in their politics or personal life. You can ask him what the final result will be of a life of the priesthood spent saying one thing and believing another, publicly promoting or go along with falsehood but being personally opposed. Point out that the prudent thing is to be consistent and if he wants to save souls to be a leader and preach the truth, not just believe it. Act on it, not just say it.

Don’t sound preachy. Speak about your own life and how important God, Jesus, the Church, the Faith is to you and how it has saved you from so many troubles, how Eternal Life is the prize you are seeking and how you want to know which priests really want to save souls, so you can support them.

If the priest passes these thresholds of faith, continue, otherwise wind down the conversation, or move it to other topics. Leaving a conversation respectfully and politely is much much better than leaving it with open conflict. However if a priest begins to defend error, heresy, immorality or apostasy in your presence you need to respond with faith, truth and believe and point out that he is wrong.

For the priest who passes these thresholds, you might want to continue the conversation on another day, if you have already talked at length. Most priests cannot take too much in at a time, they have do many duties and you are just another faithful talking about problems in the Church which he has talked to in the last x years of his ministry.

But if he seems sincerely eager to speak, since many priests cannot speak about these things with priests, this is the time to open up the discussion of how controversial and scandalous the Renunciation of Pope Benedict was and how the Catholic Church seems to be transforming into another religion under the direction of “Pope Francis”. If the priest begins to defend or excuse Francis, move the conversation back to the resignation. If he does begin to criticize Francis, also move the conversation back to the resignation, and point out the discrepancies.

CONDUCTING THE BATTLE: The core fight

The chief things to speak about in the core fight are these, in regard to the Renunciation:

  1. It took everyone by surprise, so it is understandable that the shock put everyone in a state of mind in which they were not paying attention to the details of what happened.
  2. No pope had resigned in 7 centuries, so it is understandable if no one was prepared to react properly.
  3. Pope Benedict is a theological genius, and it is not surprising if his way of speaking was not precisely understood for what it really meant.
  4. Point out that the Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Bishop Arrieta recently affirmed that a Papal Resignation cannot be interpreted by anyone, since no one has the right to do that; that it must be clearly a renunciation of the office, otherwise it is invalid.
  5. Point out then that in this matter the opinion of no one binds the opinion of no one, that what is binding is the requirement of Canon Law, because when the man who is the pope resigns, it is the man who separates himself from the Papal office not the Office which separates him.
  6. Point out that even John Paul II admitted that a papal resignation can be invalid, and that the law refers to this in the Papal Law for Conclaves, and that Canon 332 §2 speaks of this explicitly.
  7. Explain that like every moral or legal act, there is that which is done and that which is the object of what is done: there is thus a verb and and object of the verb. Canon 332 says the verb is “to renounce” and the object of the verb is the Petrine “munus”, which is the canonical and theological term for the Papal Office.
  8. Affirm that common sense holds that you cannot declare something about anything unless you name the anything about which you are making the declaration.
  9. Thus, when Pope Benedict said he was renouncing the ministry which he had received rather than saying he was renouncing the petrine munus, there is a clear problem which many missed, namely, that no one in the Church has a right to interpret that renunciation as a renunciation of office. This is because, to interpret is to explain a verbal expression using OTHER words.
  10. Thus, the principles of law require us to hold that the Pope renounced His ministry, but do not signify that he renounced the Papal munus or Office.
  11. Our status in the Church, indeed the status of everyone in the Church, even of the man renouncing, does not grant us the right to impose upon what was said a meaning other than the plain meaning of the words.  If it was the intention of Pope Benedict to do something else, he should have done that, he could have done that and the Church has the right to tell him so.
  12. In nearly 7 years, Pope Benedict has never said it was his intention to resign the petrine munus, even though in the Act of Renunciation he mentions this munus twice in the Latin text.
  13. The Vatican has known this problem for nearly 7 years, because they published translations of the Act of Renunciation which hide that Pope Benedict mentioned both munus and ministerium, but only renounced the ministerium.
  14. Canon 41 gives every priest the right to examine the Act of Renunciation to determine if it is an act of renunciaton of the munus, and to NOT act on it, if it is NOT. No one in the Church has the right to interfere or block a priest on this.
  15. There is no solution to this problem other than that Catholics recognize that the Act of Renunciation did not effect the loss of the office. Pope Benedict XVI cannot fix this unless he redoes the Renunciation properly.
  16. Since the Office of Saint Peter is not merely useful but necessary for the salvation of souls, and since who is pope is the touchstone or core of the Communion of the Church, those who are not in communion with the man who holds the petrine munus are in formal schism from the Pope and from Christ and From the Church.
  17. The sign of communion and the practice of communion reach their highest apex and summit at Mass when the priest names the man in communion with whom he is offering the Sacrifice. This is the greatest and most important duty of a priest.
  18. A priest cannot avoid this controversy without putting himself and his entire flock in risk of eternal damnation, because those who knowingly remain in schism are in mortal sin and cannot be saved, because by being separated from the Mystical Body of Jesus, they are separated from the Only one Who can save them!
  19. The sin of Schism does not consist in erroneously naming the wrong man as pope in the Canon of the Mass, because you were mislead, but it does consist in naming the wrong man as pope in the Canon of the Mass once you are informed who still holds the munus.
  20. No canonical penalty can be imposed upon a priest who names Benedict in the Canon of the Mass, precisely because anyone who would move to do such would thereby formally and publicly manifest that he is in schism from the Christ, from the Catholic Church and from the man who has never renounced the petrine munus according to Canon 332 §2.
  21. Salvation is not possible for anyone who rejects submission to the true pope (cf. Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam).

Be ready to answer all objections. And be ready to explain the practical consequences.

A faithful and courageous and prudent priest will not need advice on what to do next. And it would be impolite to offer any. A young priest might need some advice.

Basically, the best way a priest could react, would be to investigate everything you said, and study the facts and original documents and law. Then being convinced of the truth, preach about it one Sunday to everyone and explain how the Catholic thing to do in such a controversy is to keep naming Benedict as the Pope for now. Then the faithful will support him and he can name Benedict in the Canon without scandal.

But a priest who does not have the courage to preach the truth, might benefit from advising him merely to name the Pope, without a proper name, because no one will really notice. Especially if he says that part of the canon not directly in front of a microphone or in a subdued voice. If he asks what he will say to others about this, advise only one course, to say exactly what you said to him. The truth.

CONDUCTING THE BATTLE: Clean up operations in victory, retreat strategies in defeat

The best outcome is that a priest agree with all these points and agrees to stop naming Bergoglio as the Pope. But nearly all priests will consider these things in private and no immediately disclose their next course of action. Be thankful that the priest heard you out. And promise to pray for him and support him to do the right thing.

The worst outcome is that a priest will interrupt or allow you to arrive at n. 21 but then violently disagree, by pretending it is all meaningless or by revealing himself as an ally of darkness. How you respond here has more to do with your sense of honor and tact. I cannot advise you. As a hermit I am obliged to say certain things a layman is not obliged to say. And I am expected to say them bluntly, because that is my vocation. But for a layman you have the right to leave the conservation by making some polite excuses but always do so in away that does not make it appear that these 21 points were motivated out of politics or hatred. Make it clear that you believe that God exists, that Jesus is really God, that Canon Law is upheld by Jesus and that objective reality is the world in which we must live. Never concede that anything true is up for grabs or that logical conclusions draw from facts are only opinions.

If you win the priest over to Pope Benedict, know that you will merit your own eternal salvation, because this is the greatest act of charity for a priest as a priest. Offer up the merit of the victory or of the defeat born patiently to obtain the graces needed for the next battle.

The best possible outcome is that you convert the priest to join you in this spiritual warfare. The worst possible outcome is that you make of him an ardent enemy who will zealously oppose the truth and warn priests not to speak with you.

If you do not have the reputation to speak with priests on account of such an evil counter-attack, devote your battles to winning over laymen and laywomen with the objective of turning them into front line fighters in the next battles. Teach them to avoid doing the things that did not work for you, and to do the things that did work.

REMEMBER: If you have failed, do not write off the priest. Catholics tried for years to convince me, and only after 5 years did I pay enough attention to read the original texts in Latin, and thus I instantly saw the problem. If you have failed, try to employ another layman or priest whom you have recruited to the cause of Benedict to try again. Sometimes only in numbers does a priest realize that it is something he should pay attention to and think about. If a whole crowd of parishioners approached him at the same time, or over several days and weeks, that would obviously impress him more than someone he does not know asking for a one time appointment.

Finally, the GREATEST STRATEGY for victory is to devote yourself to forming a local group of warriors to do all of the above and meeting from time to time to improve moral, discipline, strategy and tactics.

May God grant you Victory in this His Cause, and may Saint Michael be with you!

_________

NOTES: The most common attack you will receive in this work is that the Devil will send you a soul whom he has convinced  to despair to such an extent that they have become an apostle of despair working to destroy the Church. They will say that this will not work, you should stop. They will flip categories of truth and say that speaking the truth is hurting the Church, that truth is a lie and that lies are truth, and that preaching the truth is evil. Pity these souls and ignore them and walk with them no more, just as you would block a troll on social media. Despair is the worst of all sins, because it most effectively blocks the work of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Our Lady. Despair is a child of pride, because the person who despairs places himself over the entire order of mercy and providence and declares that God will not help those who do works of mercy.

 

 

 

May She be a light for you in dark times, when all other lights go out

Behold your Mother!

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

These words of Our Divine Redeemer echo throughout the ages. They resound from Mt. Golgotha, from the pages of Sacred Scripture, in the memories of St. John the Evangelist, in the preaching of the Apostles and first evangelists. They are recalled in the divine liturgies of the Church, are meditated upon by the prayers of the Saints, explained in their writings, emblazoned in art and music, in churches and paintings and frescos and statues. They have become the call to arms of saintly founders and are the mottoes of monasteries, convents, priests and bishops and cardinals.

Beautiful words, consoling words, words of confidence and words of hope. I personally think that in their own way, these words of Jesus from the Cross are the most beautiful in all the pages of the Bible — the most encouraging among all the words men have or shall ever hear.

I remember reading a study on the Shroud of Turin, which explained the exact manner in which, according to this holy relic, the Body of Jesus hung from the Cross, and the exact manner of His Death. The study pointed out that when Jesus in the moment of death shouted out and laid down His Most Sacred Head, He did so in a very telling manner. This final position of Our Lord’s Head is recorded in the blood and sweat stains of the Sacred Shroud.

What made this description so poignant was what the author observed about these facts in his summation — namely, that Our Lord Jesus Christ in the very final moment of His earthly life did a thing which remained the only thing He could do: that is lay down His Head in a very significant manner. In such a manner as would enable Him to look straight down to the right hand side of the foot of His Cross.

As I wondered why this was, there came to me a wonderful and most consoling realization. Have you ever noticed paintings of the Crucifixion? I would dare say that most of them depict Our Blessed Lady standing at the foot of the Cross with St. John and Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross. But Mary is nearly always under Christ’s right arm, that is to say, on the right side of the Cross.

A conclusion presses itself upon our devotion: that in the last moment of His Life, Christ Our Lord made a decisive effort to make sure that the very last gaze of His mortal life would be filled with the vision of the sorrowful and most compassionate face of His Mother, Mary.

I don’t think we Christians can think of this long without being very much touched at heart by it, and even brought to tears by it, especially if you have made it the habit of meditating on the Passion, as all the Saints recommend us to do, or have at least been awakened to this holy exercise by Mel Gibson’s recent and literally stunning film, “The Passion of the Christ.” I think, weak creatures that we are, that this is especially true if we have had the personal experience of being at the death bed of a mother or father or son or daughter. The reality of how ephemeral our existence is inescapable in such moments. And it is only natural and fitting that we should burst out in tears at such tragic separations – something which is not unfitting, since as our Holy Religion teaches us, death is unnatural – and Jesus Himself cried at such occasions.

Of course being God Almighty, Jesus had no need of consolations in the Hour of Death. Indeed many a Saintly author speculates that to drink the very dregs of the bitterness of His Passion, He forced Himself to look upon the woeful suffering of His Mother in that last moment of His Life, so as to offer the merit of a Son’s Heart torn open at the sight of a Mother’s suffering, as the very last and final oblation to the Father for our salvation.

Yes, I do believe, that in that last moment, Christ received the compassion of His Mother, received Her Sacrifice of Himself, and looked upon Her in His death as if to say, “Look! Since I go now to the Father, I receive and take from Thee all that Thou has borne for My Sake with Me here and throughout all Thy life up to this day, and throughout all Thy life until I call you hence to be with me! I take it with Me to the Father, to offer it to Him forever in union with My Own Sacrifice.”

I think too many of us forget that the very last moments of Christ’s Passion were very Marian. The Holy Spirit Himself teaches us this, when the Evangelists cite the fact that Christ did not say, “It is consummated!” until first He said, “Woman, behold Thy son; son behold thy Mother!”

These marvelous words are, as it were, the “Ite Missa Est” of Golgotha. With them, Christ the High Priest completes and finishes His Sacrifice, and lays down not only His Head but now His whole human Life, accepting death and allowing His soul and body to be split asunder in the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross.

Now just as the Passion of Our Lord is the most central Mystery of our divine Religion, so the final moments and words of Our Lord from the Cross ought to be something very central to our interior life of prayer and meditation. For if Our Lord went to such lengths as to ensure and enable our remembrance of Him by promulgating the Holy Mass and ordaining the Apostles with His own powers as High Priests, saying, “Do this in memory of Me!”, how much must He want that we remember that which He did for us, and especially the very crowning moment of that Salvific Event!

Of course there are many graces, especially of consolation and encouragement for anyone who mediates on Sacred Scripture, and most of all, who meditates on the life of Jesus and Mary. And this is a very exquisite consolation that few find or enjoy in this life, trampled and trammeled as we are by the hubbub of daily life and the plethora of the modern means of mass communication. How sad and tragic, that so many, for example, make it a daily ritual to read the news, yet give not a thought to spending some quite time alone, with the doors of their room shut, or in some solitary place, meditating on all that Jesus and Mary did and said and suffered for our sake.

One of the great truths which we can mine from these final words of Our Lord, by means of meditation, is that which will teach us something of the magnitude of how much confidence we ought to have in the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

If we but consider that “before the foundation of the world” God had been considering and pondering from eternity all the details of creation — not as an architect who draws up plans and changes this or that, perfecting the project day after day, right up and even often during construction, but as the Infinite Eternal, Omnipotent and Most Wise uncreated Intelligence, Full of Charity and Truth, conceiving in the depths of His Divine Heart the most wonderful and stunning manifestations of His Divinity — we must certainly stop and ponder once again, and more and more, these words of Our Lord, “Behold thy Mother!” For in them are hidden great treasures of grace.

If we but recall the reason why God became Man, that it was to save our sorry souls from the eternal perdition of Hell, to which we all would have voluntarily wandered to by the end of our lives, born as we are, bereft of sanctifying grace, of faith, hope and charity for God, we can taste in mind something, however so small, of the savoriness of the remedy of these words: “Behold thy Mother!” “Thy” here means “you and I”, “each one of us”, “all of us”, “believers and those yet to believe”: “all of us in need of salvation and redemption”, howsoever much grace we have already received.

And since this is why Christ came and suffered and died: this final proclamation of the King of the Ages must have everything to do with the revelation of the ultimate means of salvation.

I believe Our Lord gives us His very own infallible commentary on this passage in the same Gospel of St. John, as He speaks with Nicodemus under the cover of night. “Unless you be born of water and the Holy Ghost…” He says. It is Our Lord Himself who uses the metaphor of birth for justification. It follows that being newborns in grace, we need a Mother.

This conclusion is inescapable, when we consider that the One who uses this metaphor is the Same as the One who created all living things, and who made us male and female, establishing some of us father or mothers for others of us: who in short preordained the human family within the original and individual necessity of our corporal being.

We must ask ourselves, then, “What was Our Lord thinking of when He spoke those wonderful words at the crowning moment of all that He would merit for us?” In His human mind, all the saints tell us that He knew all about creation, past, present, and future; foresaw all of us and all of our sins and good deeds, foreknew all of our thoughts and feelings and all of the movements and inclinations of our hearts. But just as importantly, as Our Divine Master and Teacher, in that final moment He considered all the pious questions of all His faithful who would beg him in prayer to explain something more to them about the meaning of His Life, Suffering and Death, especially at this final moment.

And so, these words, “Behold thy Mother” are without doubt the Answer of Christ to all our questions regarding the meaning and significance and importance of His Passion.

“Have confidence, I have overcome the world!” says Our Lord to the Apostles at the Last Supper. These words find their historical consummation, without doubt, in the Passion and Death, and point to the meaning of these words He speaks to St. John, “Behold thy Mother!” They indicate to us that all that Christ would do would be both truly victorious, and hence that the remembrance of it should be a source of confidence for us.

And we can draw much confidence from these words of Our Lord to St. John. Yes, Christ has died and is Risen, and yet though He has ascended into Heaven, to sit at the Right Hand of the Father, and with Him, at the end of Her earthly life, His Mother, to intercede for us before the Face of God the Father, it nevertheless remains no less true, that He has given His Blessed Mother to us, to be our Mother! Our sweet Mother!

If we but consider the greatness of Mary’s holiness, the spotlessness of Her purity, the inviolability of Her Virginity, the excellence of Her Faith, the magnitude of Her Charity, the strength and firmness of Her Hope, and every other virtue which is Hers beyond the measure of men and angels, and if we but consider that this Wonderful, most Splendid and beautiful of women is now Our Mother! I say, who cannot be encouraged, who cannot be moved, who cannot be warmed at heart, stirred to a sweet delight, stirred to reach out in spirit to Her, to embrace Her and kiss Her and enfold both body and soul in Her embrace, embracing Her with soul and body likewise – to bury, as it were, oneself in Her Maternal Bosom, as a little child does, when seeing its Mother after a long absence, it runs swiftly and immediately up to Her, jumping into Her arms and hugging Her with every affection!

But if we consider even more, that this Woman, is not only Our Mother, but the very Mother of God, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Daughter elect by the Father, the Queen of Angels and men, the Mediatrix of Grace, the Co-redemptrix of the Universe, I say, who cannot be stirred to confidence, seeing that in Her are the treasures and means to obtain every good thing, every medicine of soul and body.

But what is most consoling and encouraging about the Blessed Virgin, being Our Mother, is that She is always listening to and observing and watching over us, and She is very able and powerful and willing to grant us our pious wishes and prayers, if we but ask with great confidence.

Perhaps you have seen little children who are brothers and sisters vying with each other for their mother’s affection or intercession. If one receives some special favor, the others are not slow in asking, begging, insisting, demanding the how and why of how they obtained it from her. How zealous they are! How innocent! And How Simple! Should not we be similar, when we hear of what Our Lady has done for some of Her children!

Yes, I am sure you have heard at least once of how Our Lady helped some saint: but it is more encouraging, I believe, to consider how She has helped some sinners, even more so than some Saints.

One such wonderful story is that which Our Lady did to a poor mule driver in Spain some 400 years ago. He was a very poor man, and not learned at all. I do not think he could even read or write. All he could do for a living, was lead his mule along the mountain paths nears his village, carrying cargo over the mountain pass for various merchants in the locale. He would rise very early in the morning, pack some food for the journey, load up his burrow, and walk up the mountain, arriving at the end of the day on the other side, where, having unloaded the same animal, and rested at a friends house, he would eat and sleep and rise the next day, to do the same thing, on the return trip.

And so he lived his life and scratched out a meager living for his wife and son and father and mother who lived with him in his two room shed.

But one day, the mule slipped as it clopped its way along the mountain path. And to save it and its load this poor mule driver ran quickly to the other side and did all he could to prop up the animal so that it would not slip and fall. But though he had done this successfully on many occasions, this time he failed, and the animal and all its cargo came crashing down upon him, knocking him to the ground.

He screamed, Oh how he screamed in agonizing pain!

Very soon the other peasants leading their own animals along the way, came running to help him, and succeeded in getting his animal up. It was then he discovered that he could not stand – he had badly injured his leg. The villagers came and took him in a stretcher to his home and to bed.

As the days passed it go no better. And when the local priest came to visit him, he assured him that it would not get better, and that the only hope was to arrange to be carried to the University Hospital at Salamanca.

It was a long a costly journey, but his best friends and relatives did him this favor.

Needless to say, by the time he arrived, gangrene had set in and there was nothing the doctors could do, but cut off his leg at the mid of the thigh.

For a mule driver, this was little better than death, for it meant that he could not work at his trade: and no work meant no pay, and no pay meant that he, though the only bread winner at home, could no longer support his family.

His friends and relatives bore him home and left him at home in his bed. And to add upon all his sufferings, as soon as they had left his home, his wife and parents turned on him with the most bitter and disgusting insults, saying: “What good are you to us now! It is all your fault! We are all going to starve on your account! Did you return home thinking we are going to take care of you!”

And with that this poor man pulled up his blanket, prayed desperately to Our Lady, and went to sleep, filled with the most bitter remorse and sorrow, bereft of any hope and overcome by the pains of sorrow and betrayal no less painful than the surgery wounds of his leg.

But this, thanks be to God, is not where this poor man’s story ends, but rather where a most consoling story begins. For that night, as he slept, he dreamed.

And in that dream, he saw Our Blessed Mother.

And this is what he dreamed: he saw himself sick in bed, and into his room stepped the Blessed Virgin, covered in a shining blue mantle, and looking upon him with such a tender compassion, as if She had come to him, on a sick call. And as he rejoiced at heart to see Her loveliness, She opened Her mouth and said to him, encouraging him as She touched his legs, “Be healed!”

In the morning, the man awoke, and as he had not yet opened his eyes, for it was dark still, he called to mind the dream that had given him such confidence. And he said to himself in his heart with the simplicity of a child, “O, how good you are to me, Blessed Virgin! I prayed to you, when I had no other hope, to help me! And you in your kind charity have given me such a consoling dream to lessen all my sorrows when I have suffered such a tragedy as this!” And so he reposed, until the sun had arisen, and his wife has gotten up and gone out.

After she left, he tried to make himself comfortable in bed. He suddenly felt so odd. The doctors had said that, although they cut off his leg, that it would feel that it was still there for some time still. And so it was: under his covers he could still feel his leg!

But as he looked down the bed, what he saw was all wrong. He saw not one, but two bulging points where his foot should be.

Two?, he thought to himself: Yes, I can still feel my leg, as the doctors said I should on occasion, for it is a trick of the nerves, but I should not still see two feet!

At that the memory of his dream came back to him and he ripped his covers of the bed to find TWO perfectly healthy legs!

He jumped from the bed and began to scream with joy: A Miracle! A Miracle!

Soon the whole village was gathered around his house and word spread far and wide of what the Blessed Virgin did for him.

And for our confidence, it happened that this story came to the ears of the King of Spain, who sent a commission of royal investigators to record and interview all the facts and testimony. They even went to the University of Salamanca and interviewed all who had assisted at the amputation of the peasant’s leg. They even unearthed the coffin in which it was buried. And they found it empty, but for the blood stained wrappings which once bound it fast!

Today, on the sight of the poor man’s bedroom, stands a magnificent Basilica to commemorate this miracle of confidence.

Let us therefore, have great confidence in the Blessed Virgin, who is in truth and has been made so forever, Our Mother! That She does and will and wants to grant us the things of which we or our loved ones, or some poor soul, is truly in need of.

We don’t need to be saints to receive Her favors. We just need to ask with humility, sincerity!

Therefore, let us pray and beseech Her everyday with unbounded confidence! And lest us offer up such prayers as this:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known,
that anyone who fled to Thy protection,
implored Thy assistance,
or sought Thy intercession,
was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence,
we fly unto Thee, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother!

To Thee do we come; before Thee do we stand, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions,
but in Thy gracious mercy hear and answer us. Amen.

CREDITS: The Image of our Lady, is known as the Theotokos of Jerusalem, and is found at the Church of Her Domition in Jerusalem. See https://medium.com/@ierosolhmitissa/the-true-story-of-the-uncreated-and-miraculous-holy-icon-of-the-most-holy-theotokos-b25e9cfebca5. The title of this post is an adaptation of a line from J. R. R. Tolkein’s, Two Towers.