“I saw again the new and odd-looking Church which they were trying to build. There was nothing holy about it… People were kneading bread in the crypt below… but it would not rise, nor did they receive the body of Our Lord, but only bread. Those who were in error, through no fault of their own, and who piously and ardently longed for the Body of Jesus were spiritually consoled, but not by their communion. Then, my Guide [Jesus] said: ‘THIS IS BABEL.’ [The Mass in many languages].”
“I saw deplorable things: they were gambling, drinking, and talking in church; they were also courting women. All sorts of abominations were perpetrated there. Priests allowed everything and said Mass with much irreverence. I saw that few of them were still godly, and only a few had sound views on things. I also saw Jews standing under the porch of the Church. All these things caused me much distress.”
“The Church is in great danger. We must pray so that the Pope may not leave Rome; countless evils would result if he did. They are now demanding something from him. The Protestant doctrine and that of the schismatic Greeks are to spread everywhere. I now see that in this place (Rome) the (Catholic) Church is being so cleverly undermined, that there hardly remain a hundred or so priests who have not been deceived. They all work for destruction, even the clergy. A great devastation is now near at hand.”
“Among the strangest things that I saw, were long processions of bishops. Their thoughts and utterances were made known to me through images issuing from their mouths. Their faults towards religion were shown by external deformities. A few had only a body, with a dark cloud of fog instead of a head. Others had only a head, their bodies and hearts were like thick vapors. Some were lame, others were paralytics; others were asleep or staggering.
“I saw what I believe to be nearly all the bishops of the world, but only a small number were perfectly sound. I saw a number of people looking quickly right and left, that is, in the direction of the world.
“Then, I saw that everything that pertained to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upper hand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence. Most priests were lured by the glittering but false knowledge of young school-teachers, and they all contributed to the work of the destruction.
“In those days, Faith will fall very low, and it will be preserved in some places only, in a few cottages and in a few families which God has protected from disasters and wars.”
“I see many excommunicated ecclesiastics who do not seem to be concerned about it, nor even aware of it. Yet, they are (ispso facto) excommunicated whenever they cooperate [sic] enterprises, enter into associations, and embrace opinions on which an anathema has been cast. It can be seen thereby that God ratifies the decrees, orders, and interdictions issued by the Head of the Church, and that He keeps them in force even though men show no concern for them, reject them, or laugh them to scorn.”
Source: The Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich – Carl E. Schmoeger
Here is the troubling story of how 1 Franciscan brother petitioned Cardinal Napier of South Africa, urging him to see that the final version of the Synod’s document would not contain any deviation from Christ’s teaching regarding the absolute necessity of repentance and faith as criteria of membership in the Church and directives for pastoral praxis.
I wrote this petition in response to the now infamous 3 paragraphs in the Relatio post deceptationem (the Report after received responses) which was published at the Extra-Ordinary Synod of the Family, at Rome, on Monday morning, October 13, 2014, by the drafting committee headed by Cardinal Erdo. Which paragraphs, regarding the unspeakable vice, sodomy, where subsequently attributed in the press to Bishop Bruno Forte (famous for his book on Christ, in which he declared that if the body of Christ crucified were found, he’d still believe in the Resurrection!).
However, when it was reported in the UK press that the revised document contained something worse, the explicit affirmation of the value of a vice, namely the requirement that Catholics “value the homosexual orientation”, I was utterly shocked.
In those paragraphs, there was an obvious and intentional attempt to introduce the language of the homo-agenda and homo-heresy into the Synod’s final document. The homo-heresy is a term coined recently to refer to the political and ideological doctrine that homosexuality is a good to be appreciated, valued, accepted in all human society, even in the Church. It is a heretical doctrine, because it contradicts the clear teaching of Moses and St. Paul that this vice and its practice are abominations to God and contrary to nature, and because it directly contradicts the teaching of Our Lord and Master, Christ Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, the Lord of the Ages, the Creator of Man, the Author of Scripture, the Most High, Eternal, All Holy God of Israel! In that He teaches that the fundamental rule or requirement for membership in His Church and for communion with Him is that one first repent of his sins and then believe all his teaching.
These were Our Lord’s first words, when He opened His Mouth and began His own public ministry: Repent and Believe! The Apostles, His faithful and infallible disciples after the Pentecost Day of grace, taught clearly in all their writings, gathered now in the New Testament, that these words are to be understood as the utter repudiation of carnality, immorality, and all that is contrary to the moral precepts of the Mosaic Law and of the Evangelical Law, and of the natural, moral, and divine laws implicit in these.
For this reason, and because by my vocation as a son of St. Francis of Assisi, I deemed it necessary to speak out against the tide of grave, manifest, public scandal given to the faithful throughout this world. Especially since as an Italian citizen, resident at Rome, I consider it a duty as a member of the Diocese of Rome, which shall never loose the Faith, to speak boldly in favor of Christ’s Magisterium against the false magisterium of the flesh being proposed in the Relatio post deceptationem.
When the Holy Father, in response to the outcry against the patently racist and very insulting remarks of Cardinal Kasper against the Synod Fathers from Africa, appointed Wilfrid Cardinal Napier, OFM, the Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, (Cardinal-Priest of San Francesco d’Assisi ad Acilia, at Rome), as member of the drafting committee, I was encouraged on account of the reports showing that he was a faithful Cardinal and fighting to protect the faith.
You see, according to the Rule of Saint Francis of Assisi, we sons of St. Francis are bound to give and receive remonstrations in the Lord, so that as brothers in one family we might assist the salvation of one another. Seeing that Cardinal Napier was before his elevation to the episcopate on Feb. 21, 1981, was a member of the Order of Friars Minor of the Leonine Union, I saw this as an opportunity and sign from God to plead with him to fight the good fight and see to it that the final draft of the Synod Document not contain any approval of the abomination of sodomy, whether in act or in vice, directly or indirectly, or even in some sort of linguistic construction whereby the Church would seem or in fact, be bound to surrender to the homo-heresy of our age.
This is the historical background to the exchange which now follows.
The Petition sent to Cardinal Napier
The petition sent on Thursday, October 16, 2014, via twitter to Cardinal Napier. His Eminence had followed me on Twitter the very night before, which enabled me to send him a private message. First I wrote the petition, then I presented in in a series of Direct Messages.
First, the petition, which contains several tweets, in this order:
This final tweet was favorited by Cardinal Giuseppe (@vaticanvalet) who, however, unlike @CardinalNapier, seems to be someone feigning to be a cardinal.
My Presentation of the Petition to Cardinal Napier
After tweeting the petition, I presented it in a Direct Message to His Eminence, since, as I have said, he had followed me the night before, and I was already following him. On twitter those are the 2 necessaries for sending and receiving Direct Messages; these are a form of private, non-publicized communication.
After the Cardinal’s initial shocking response to the petition, I captured the DM in a jpg image, to preserve the historical record. Here is that image:
These direct messages make clear the intent of the Petition and my grave concerns about the dangers to the Faith and to the Church, inherent in the revised version of the Relatio, which Relatio emanated from the drafting committee of which Cardinal Napier was the newly appointed member, “representing” the Synod Fathers who came from Africa.
The Stunning Replies of Cardinal Napier
Now it is obvious to anyone, who knows anything about the Catholic Church and what it means to be a member of Her, that the above cited petition is most respectful, serious, and one made fully in accord with the norms of Canon Law, which regard the rights of the faithful to petition members of the Sacred Hierarchy. By the time Cardinal Napier replied, 30 members of the faithful from Europe, Africa and North America had signed it. Subsequently, at least 6 more signed it that night.
But to this sensible, sane, calm, fully catholic, dutiful, honest and zealous petition, Cardinal Napier chose to respond with this tweet, which I have captured in a jpg image:
Moved by my love for Cardinal Napier in Christ, and mindful that if I were silent, I would consent to his scandalous remarks, I replied with a series of tweets:
If it might seem that I am being to bold in my “dialogue” with the Cardinal, remember that we are both sons of St. Francis, and are obliged to this give and take, according to the Rule of St. Francis: also, because of his membership on the drafting committee Cardinal Napier has a direct capability to have his own input and correct errors. In addition, seeing the grave scandal going on at the Synod, I considered it morally necessary, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, to speak to His Eminence with boldness.
The Cardinal, however, chose to reply to me again, here is the jpg image.
It was clear from this response, that in the Cardinal’s mind there was some confusion, so I replied with a series of tweets to explain and attempt to remove that confusion, spurred by my zeal for God and for the Cardinal’s soul.
At that point, I shut down my computer, for it was very late, and the Cardinal seems to have done likewise; in the morning, upon waking early around 5 AM Rome time, he tweeted me 1 last time:
As you can see, the Cardinal was taking the Petition totally out of context, and twisting scripture to oppose it. I have seen this tactic on many a street-corner, but it is one used by non-Catholics who are insisting in their perverse or erroneous doctrines against the teaching of the Catholic Faith, so I recognized it immediately, and replied thus, on Friday Morning, when I logged on Twitter and saw it:
Throughout this exchange of tweets with His Eminence Cardinal Napier of Durban, South Africa, many members of the faithful tweeted, retweeted, replied, or favorited the Petition, his replies or my replies to him. I have omitted these in the course of this report, since they had no bearing upon the exchange between the Cardinal and myself.
Let me remind the faithful of 2 great truths. First, that we must always remain faithful to Christ Jesus and His Magisterium, as it has been recorded in the Gospels, explained by the Apostles, handed down in Tradition by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, explained in the perennial, perduring, constant and unchangeable Magisterium of the Church, which expresses Herself in an infallible manner only when our Sacred Pastors, who have the authority, teach in harmony with Christ, the Apostles, Scripture and Tradition.
Secondly, even when our Sacred Pastors might not live up to what we expect of them in Christ, or up to what Christ expects of them, we should remain respectful in our discourses, even if we might at times have to be bold (So long as they do not become pertinacious, public heretics, because if they did we’d be obliged by faith, hope and charity to no longer regard them as members of the Church). We are Catholics not stoics, so we do not hold it to be a sin to be passionate or emotional about our Faith, rather we repudiate all the false morals of the world, the errors of Modernism which would reduce faith to sentimentalism, to the errors of Freemasonry which want to return mankind to the slavery of the idols of Egypt and Babylon, and the false and so-called wisdom of the flesh in our own day, which would have us be so polite as to offend God, not man.
Let us pray for Cardinal Napier and all the Fathers at the Synod; resolving to reject the final document if it deviates from the Faith in any particular. And finally, I ask your prayers, that I might give a humble an zealous witness to the faith, expecting as I do to suffer for the witness I have given here today.
What follows is an unofficial English translation of an article, entitled, Un Sinodo un pò tarrocato, which appeared today in La Stampa, in Italy, written by Marco Tosatti, one of the leading Catholic journalists who specialize in Vatican affairs. The bold face is not in the original.
When the speaker – a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church – more or less expressly disclaims authorship of a report that bears his signature, there is a problem.
When the cardinal himself, in reference to a passage from the text certainly very interesting and a harbinger of trouble, asked for an explanation, and the answer turns to an archbishop Deputy Secretary (rather than the Pope) at the Synod because he is the author, there is a issue.
When many bishops and cardinals from Poland to Africa to Australia, they complain because the Relatio as it has been written and presented to the press does not reflect what they said in the hall, and adds things that have never been said, there is a problem.
When the text is declared “unacceptable” by Cardinals and Bishops, “irredeemable” by another, and when the Circuli Minores it is said that “we are working to revise the text, set aside some expressions and so on, but it is a sick-text and not you know how the proposals will be accepted,” there is a problem.
When there are bishops – and more than one – who say they no longer want to come to any future Synods, if they are conducted like this, because it is turning into a farce, there is a problem. When the South African Cardinal Napier said via twitter, that is, in public, that “while it is possible that some elements are trying to adapt to the opinion of the world, the majority wants to remain firmly with the truth”;which says exactly the opposite of the thesis that some journalists for various reasons, try to credit to the Synod, there is a problem.
When among the choices of leaders for the Synod, an entire continent in which you are making the greatest growth of Christianity and Catholicism, in terms of the faithful (unlike Europe and North America, or Latin America where millions of evangelicals swallow up ex-catholics), namely Africa, is forgotten, there is a problem.
The regimegoverning the Synod has decided not to make public the activities of the participants, compared with a decade of practice, transparency and the right of Christians to know; and then has decided to make public a working document in which many do not recognize, and in which the phrases are the most controversial and debated with great probability the expression of a few theologians and bishops. It’s hard not to think in an attempt to drive and manipulate the course of the Synod.
When, following the publication of the document, you are forced to back down, and “Voice of the Family”, which brings together millions of Catholics around the world in fifteen different organizations defines it as open “treason”, and states that “Those who control the Synod have betrayed Catholic parents. The report is one of the worst official documents ever written in the history of the Church,” there is a problem.
The Synod of Bishops on the Family is the first official event of the Church of the reign of Pope Francis.And it is proving to be a success, under any point of view, if not that of confusion. Unfortunately, the Pope does not appear, as it might be more prudent and desirable to reassure Catholics, above and outside the party. Cardinal Kasper, one of the fiercest protagonists of the battle, merely repeats that he spoke to the Pope. The one choosing Archbishop Forte, author of the report, according to many in recent days, as Deputy Secretary, is the Pope. As well as those of additional members of the Commission will draw up the final report; all of whom are oriented in one direction, but – according to what Cardinal Napier says, it is not only him, who does not represent the common sense and majority of the assembly.
And this is not a good thing, if you search for unity of feelings, and not what the card. Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, called a “single thought in the Church.” If it is true that the Church is not a democracy, and you do not go forward with the hammer blows of a majority, you certainly cannot, however, submit all believers to atheological and doctrinal little-clique.
Like nature, the Church does not like leaps or earthquakes.
What follows is my unofficial translation of Monsignor Antonio Livi’s criticisms of the Synod on the Family, which were published in Italian on October 10th.
The Divorced: the ambiguous solutions of the “pietists”
Alongside the discussions which preceded and now accompany the Extraordinary Synod on the Family (Oct 5-19), one needs to observe the continuing and growing interventions of “false teachers” and of “false prophets” who announce a new Church as already arrived, no longer in subjugation to the chains of the moral law, open to the insistence of the “base” and ready to tear down the “historical fences” which separate Catholics and Protestants and the Orthodox.
Many scholars have already highlighted the “anti-dogmatic”, or better “a-dogmatic” aspect of these discourses, received (naturally) with the enthusiasm of the secular media, from La Repubblica to il Sole24Ore and La Stampa (especially Gianni Vattimo, the philosopher of the “weak thought”, who already 25 years ago quipped aloud that “a Christianity without a pope and without dogma”). I have already spoken in detail about this in my book on True and False Theology (2014). But even Pope Benedict XVI wisely commented that “pastoral praxis and dogma intertwine in an indissoluble manner; it is the truth of Him who is in time “Word” and “Shepherd”, as primitive Christian art has profoundly understood, which presents the Word as Shepherd and in the guise of the Shepherd makes flow the eternal Word which for man is the true direction for life”.
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, returned to this argument. In a book length interview which was published simultaneously a month ago in Italy, Spain and the United States (published in Italian by Ares, and entitled La speranza della famiglia), the German cardinal clearly showed the a-dogmatic character of the proposals for change in ecclesiastical praxis in regard to marriage and the family.
In announcing the impossibility of accepting these proposals — which, according to Walter Kasper and many others, would be justified on the basis of current social changes and in the inability of many faithful to live up to Catholic morals — Cardinal Müller, has expressed himself with great theological precision: “A simple ‘adaptation’ of the reality of marriage to the expectations of the world bears no fruit, rather, it has counterproductive results: the Church cannot respond to the challenge of today’s world with a pragmatic adaptation. As ones opposing a facile, pragmatic adaptation, we are called to choose for ourselves the prophetic audacity of the martyr. With this, we can testify to the Gospel of holy matrimony. A tepid prophet, with an adequation to to the spirit of the age, would seek to save himself, but not by the means of salvation which comes from God alone “.
There were many Cardinals (besides the just mentioned Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller; I recall Carlo Caffarra, Velasio de Paolis, Walter Brandmüller, Thomas Collins and Raymond L Burke) who wanted to publish their some writings to oppose, with serene and above-all pertinent argumentations, the attempt to pressure the Synod in the hope to obtain a pronouncement from the majority of the 120 fathers of the Synod, and even, from pope Francis, in favor of changing the pastoral practice of the Church.
Which, however, cannot ever possibly happen, because it would constitute a substantial change in the Church Herself, or rather the advent of a new a-dogmatic Church as so many evil masters such as Hans Kung and so many false prophets as Enzo Bianchi have announced and prepared for (preparing by announcing it), shamelessly attributing their revolutionary plans to pope Francis. The implementation of such designs, as much as regards the pastoral practice concerning matrimony and the family, would lead to the abolition of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae (of Pope Paul VI) and of the Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris consortio (of Pope John Paul II), besides, naturally, the cannon of the Ecumenical Council of Trent on the Sacraments of Matrimony, Eucharist and Penance.
Cardinal Burke, praying the Traditional Latin Mass.
The following is my unofficial translation of extracts from original Italian text of Alessandro Gnocci’s interview with Cardinal Burke, which will appear in full in Italian tomorrow in Il Foglio:
Q. What do you see behind the curtain hung by the press around the Synod?
A. There is emerging a worrisome tendency, because some are sustaining the possibility of adopting a praxis which departs from the truth of the Faith. Even if it should be evident that one cannot proceed in that directly, many are encouraging, for example, dangerous openings on the question of communion conceded to the divorced & remarried. I do not see how one can reconcile the reformable concept of the indissolubility of Matrimony with the possibility of admitting to communion those who live in an irregular situation. Here one is puting directly in discussion what Our Lord has said when He taught that he who divorces his own wife and marries another commits adultery.
Q. According to the reformers, this teaching of Our Lord is too hard.
A. They forget that Our Lord has promised the help of grace to those who have been called to live Matrimony. This does not signify that there will not be difficulties and sufferings, but that there will always be divine help to confront them and to remain faithful even unto the end.
R. I do not understand how the Briefing is to be understood, but it seems to be that something is functioning well if the information is being manipulated in a manner to give support only to one thesis instead of reporting faithfully the various positions as expounded. This is very worrisome to me because a consistent number of Bishops do not accept the idea of opening the praxis, but few know of it. They are speaking only of the necessity of the Church opening Herself to the insistence of the world, as expressed in February by Cardinal Kasper. In reality, his thesis on the themes of the family and on a new discipline for communion for the divorced & remarried is not new, and it has already been discussed 30 years ago. Then, in February, it returned in force and was faultily allowed to grow. But all this needs to stop, because it is provoking grave damage to the Faith. Bishops and priests are telling me that there are now many remarried who are asking to be admitted to communion because Pope Francis wants it. In reality, I take note, that, instead, up to this point he has not expressed himself on the point.
Q. But, it seems evident that Cardinal Kasper and all those holding to his line, are speaking with the support of the Pope.
A. That is true. The Pope has nominated Cardinal Kasper to the Synod and has left the debate progress along these lines. But, as he has said to another Cardinal, the Pope has not yet pronounced. I am awaiting his pronouncement, which can be only in continuity with the teaching given to the Church throughout all Her history. A teaching which has never changed, because it cannot change.
D. Admitting the divorced & remarried to communion undermines the Sacrament of Matrimony, and also that of the Eucharist. Does it not seem to you, to also touch upon the heart of what it means to be the Church?
A. In the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 11, the Apostle teaches that he who receives the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, eats unto his own damnation. To approach the Eucharist signifies to be in communion with Christ, to be in conformity to Him. Many argue contrariwise, that the Eucharist is not the Sacrament of the perfect, but this argument is a false one. No man is perfect and the Eucharist is the Sacrament of those who are fighting to be perfect, according to what Jesus Himself said: to be perfect even as Our Father in Heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Even the one who is fighting to reach perfection sins, and if he is in the state of mortal sin, he cannot take communion. To be able to do so, he needs to confess his sin with repentance and with the proposal of not committing it again: this is true for all, even the divorced and remarried…
Original Italian Text, in blue, which will be followed by my own unofficial English translation in black. — To the right, Cardinal Burke, on another occasion, in the company of some of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.
Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!
Il Venerabile Papa Pio XII è stato il Papa della mia infanzia. La memoria della venerazione che i miei genitori avevano verso la sua persona e il suo magistero è ancora viva. Nonostante che la mia famiglia abitava in una parte rurale e remota dello Stato del Wisconsin negli Stati Uniti, sentivamo la vicinanza del Papa Pio XII quale Pastore della Chiesa universale. Ricordo anche i racconti di soldati americani ricevuti in udienza dal Santo Padre dopo la liberazione di Roma e di un medico che ebbe il privilegio di partecipare all’udienza concessa ad un gruppo di chirurgi statunitensi, il 24 maggio 1956. Raccontando la loro esperienza tutti si commuovevano per il senso della premura personale per ciascuno di loro da parte del Sommo Pontefice, che irradiava la sua intensa comunione con Colui del quale egli era Vicario sulla terra. Il medico ricordava come il Pontefice parlava dell’ospedale quale “Hotel de Dieu” per ricevere, con fede e amore, tutti gli ammalati, e dimostrava con la sua grande presenza e tenerezza le stesse qualità che stava raccomandando ai medici.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Venerable Pope Pius XII was the Pope of my infancy. My memory the veneration which my parents had for his person and for his teaching is still fresh. Notwithstanding that my family lived in a rural and remote part of the state of Wisconsin in the United States, we felt as if Pope Pius XII was closeby as Pastor of the universal Church. I also remember the reminisces of the American soldiers who received an audience with the Holy Father after the liberation of Rome and of a doctor who had the privilege to participate in an audience granted to a group of surgeons from the United States, on May 24, 1956. In recounting their own experience, they were greatly moved by the sense of personal care the Supreme Pontiff expressed for each of them and which irradiated from his own intense communion with Him Whose Vicar he was on Earth. The doctor recalled how the Pontiff spoke of hospitals as the “House of God” for receiving, with faith and love, all the sick, and showed with his own great presence and tenderness the same qualities which he recommended to the doctors.
In questo giorno, nel quale anticipiamo il cinquantaseiesimo anniversario della morte del Venerabile Pontefice, avvenuta il 9 ottobre 1958, ricordiamo le parole di Papa Paolo VI, in occasione del 25º anniversario dell’inizio del pontificato del Venerabile: “Dovremo ricordare una vita sacerdotale pura, pia, austera, laboriosa, spesso sofferente…. Fu eminentemente il Papa della pace, dei diritti della persona umana, dell’organizzazione ordinata e fraterna dei popoli e delle classi sociali…. E fu un amico del nostro tempo; il dialogo con tutte le forme della vita moderna, mediante il criterio risolutivo nella bontà e nella verità del Vangelo dei problemi presenti, fu da lui sistematicamente aperto ed iniziato” (Cf. Paolo VI, “La eletta figura e l’opera immortale del venerato Pontefice”, Insegnamenti di Paolo VI (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana), vol. 2 (1964), pp. 174-175).
Today, on the day in which we anticipate the 50th anniversary of the death of the Venerable Pontiff, which occurred on October 9, 1958, we recall the words of Pope Paul VI, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of the pontificate of his predecessor: “We should remember this pure, pious, austere, industrious, and often suffering life of priest … He was eminently the Pope of peace, of the rights of the human person, of the orderly and fraternal organization of peoples and social classes … He was a friend of our age; dialogue with all the forms of modern life, by means of a resolute conviction for their goodness and in the truth of the Gospel for present times, was systematically initiated and undertaken by him” (Cf. Paolo VI, “La eletta figura e l’opera immortale del venerato Pontefice”, Insegnamenti di Paolo VI (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana), vol. 2 (1964), pp. 174-175).
Ispirati dalla santità della sua vita, continuiamo a pregare per la sua beatificazione e canonizzazione, implorando specialmente il Signore di dare il segno della sua volontà, concedendo un miracolo per l’intercessione del Venerabile Papa.
L’odierna celebrazione in memoria del Venerabile Papa Pio XII felicemente coincide con la Festa di San Francesco d’Assisi, Patrono d’Italia. Qualche giorno prima della sua morte il 3 ottobre 1226, San Francesco dettava quello che egli chiedeva ai frati di ricevere come “un ricordo, un’ammonizione, un’esortazione e il mio testamento”. Con poche parole egli descrive l’opera meravigliosa della grazia nella sua vita, che lo aveva convertito da una vita di peccato alla vita in Cristo. Egli racconta come Dio l’ha ispirato, portandolo in mezzo ai lebbrosi, che prima egli trovava tanto ributtanti, dando a lui la grazia di riconoscere il volto di Cristo nel volto dei lebbrosi.
Inspired by the holiness of his life, we continue to pray for his beatification and canonization, imploring the Lord in particular to give a sign of His will, by conceding a miracle through the intercession of the venerable Pope.
Today’s celebration in memory of Venerable Pope Pius XII happily coincides with the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron of Italy. A few days before his own death on Oct. 3, 1226, Saint Francis dictated to his confreres what he asked of them to receive as a “memory, an admonition, an exortation and my testasment”. With a few words he described the wonderful work of grace in his own life, which converted him from a life of sin to a life in Christ. He recounted how God had inspired him, by leading him into the midst of lepers, whom he at first found to be so repulsive, by giving him the grace to recognize the visage of Christ in the faces of the lepers.
Dal momento della sua conversione è stata sua prassi visitare Cristo nei tabernacoli delle chiese, offrendo la preghiera, che in forma abbreviata è diventata una delle nostre preghiere quotidiane: “Ti adoriamo, Signore Gesù Cristo, e in tutte le Tue chiese che sono nel mondo, e Ti benediciamo, perché per la Tua santa croce hai redento il mondo”. Con l’umiltà del cuore e con l’illimitata fiducia di chi è spiritualmente innocente, San Francesco è stato sempre più attratto a Cristo. Cristo ha rivelato Dio Padre a San Francesco e gli ha concesso il “riposo”, la pace dell’anima e del cuore con la quale egli ha assunto la croce con Cristo, il “giogo” che, per grazia dei Dio, diventa “dolce”, il “peso” che il Signore rende leggero.
From the moment of his own conversion it was his practice to visit Christ in the tabernacles of churches, by offering a prayer, which in its abbreviated form has become one of our own daily prayers: “We adore Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, and in all Thy churches which are in the world, and we bless Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world!” With humility of heart and with the unlimited trust of one who was spiritually innocent, Saint Francis was always the more attracted by Christ. Christ had revealed God the Father to Saint Francis and had granted him the “rest”, the peace of soul and of heart with which he took up the Cross with Christ, the “yoke” which, by the grace of God, became “sweet”, the “weight” which the Lord made light.
San Francesco scriveva della riverenza che deve essere accordata a Cristo nei testi che contengono la Sua parola, nei luoghi, le chiese e le cappelle dove egli dimora per noi, nei calici e nei lini utilizzati per la celebrazione della Santissima Eucaristia, e infine nel Santissimo Sacramento stesso: “Vorrei sopra ogni altra cosa – scrive San Francesco – che questo santo Sacramento sia onorato e venerato e riservato in posti preziosi riservati. Ogni volta che trovo il Suo santissimo nome o scritti contenenti le Sue parole in un posto inappropriato, mi sforzo di prenderli, ed io chiedo che siano presi e messi in un posto degno”. San Francesco descrive un modo di comportarsi che deve essere naturale per noi che crediamo in Cristo e nella Sua Presenza Reale.
Saint Francis wrote of the reverence which ought to be shown Christ in the writings which contained His words, in the places, the chuches and the chapels where He dwels for us, in the chalices and in the linens used for the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist, and finally, in the Most Holy Sacrament itself: “I want above all other things,” writes Saint Francis, “that this holy Sacrament be honored and venerated and reserved in the most precious, secure places. Every time I find His Most Holy Name or the writings containing His words in an inappropriate place, I strive to taken them, and I ask that they be taken and placed in a worthy place”. Saint Francis was describing a manner of comportment which should be natural for us who believein Christ and in His Real Presence.
San Francesco si è così avvicinato a Cristo che gli fu concesso il privilegio di portare nel suo proprio corpo “le stigmate di Cristo”, i segni della Presenza di Cristo in mezzo a noi, le ferite gloriose della Sua Passione e Morte. Contemplando le stigmate di San Francesco, siamo riempiti dal desiderio di conoscere e amare di più Cristo nella nostra vita, riconoscendo il volto di Cristo in quelli che sono per noi i lebbrosi, visitando Cristo nel Santissimo Sacramento, e curando tutte le cose associate alla Sua Presenza Eucaristica. Non abbiamo ricevuto la grazia di portare nel nostro corpo le stigmate di Cristo, ma preghiamo che Dio Padre, vedendo il nostro volto, voglia riconoscere il volto del Suo Figlio, il Signore Nostro Gesù Cristo.
Saint Francis drew so close to Christ that there was conceded to him the privilege of bearing in his own body “the stigmata of Christ”, the signs of Christ’s Presence in our midst, the glorious wounds of His own Passion and Death. Contemplating the stigmata of Saint Francis, we are filled with the desire to know and love Christ better in our own life, by recognizing the visage of Christ in those who are lepers to us, by ivsiting Chirst in the Most Holy Sacrament, and by caring for all the things associated with His Eucharistic Presence. We ourselves have not received the grace to bear in our own bodies the wounds of Christ, but we pray that God the Father, when He sees our faces, might deign to recognize the face of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
È questa totale identificazione di se stesso con Cristo vivo per noi nella Chiesa che contempliamo nella vita e nel ministero apostolico di Papa Pio XII. Era così palpabile nella vita del Venerabile Papa che è stato chiamato con tanta stima ed affetto Pastor Angelicus.
Leviamo adesso i nostri cuori al Cuore glorioso trafitto di Gesù, cosicché l’amore divino che profluisce dalle Sue gloriose ferite e soprattutto dal Suo Cuore riempia i nostri cuori, e dai nostri cuori possano emanare, come sono emanati dal cuore di San Francesco d’Assisi e dal cuore del Venerabile Papa Pio XII, “fiumi di acqua viva” per la salvezza di molti. Preghiamo insieme con San Francesco d’Assisi: “Ti adoriamo, Signore Gesù Cristo, e in tutte le Tue chiese che sono nel mondo, e Ti benediciamo, perché per la Tua santa croce hai redento il mondo”.
This is the total identification of self with Christ who lives for us in the Church which we contemplate in the life and apostolic ministry of Pope Pius XII. This was so apparent in the life of the Venerable Pope that he was called with much esteem and affection, the Pastor Angelicus (the Angelic Shepherd).
Let us raise, now, our own hearts to Jesus’ glorious pierced Heart, so that the Divine Love which flows forth form His glorious wounds and above all from His Heart might fill our own hearts, and from our hearts flow forth, like it flowed forth from the heart of Saint Francis of Assisi and from the heart of the Venerable Pope Pius XII, “rivers of living water” for the salvation of many. Let us pray together with Saint Francis: “We adore Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, and in all Thy churches which are in the world, and we bless Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world!”
Note: There is no equivalent of the Thee and Thou in Italian, but as it is customary in traditional Catholic English, I have rendered the 2nd person singular thus, in the words of my Seraphic Father, since this is what I do, out of respect for his profound faith, in my translation of his entire works, published by The Franciscan Archive.
This blog cited above is an apostolate of charity for my confreres, who are ex-franciscan friars of the Immaculate, a religious foundation with its HQ in Benevento, Italy, founded by Fr. Stefano Manelli and Fr. Gabriele Pelletieri, at Frigento (Avellino, Italy). Many friars have left the community over the years, all for different reasons or motives or occasions. On account of our strong faith and devotion for the franciscan-marian vocation, many of us have suffered diverse difficulties since then. This blog is to help my confreres survive in their vocations and to exit from any problems or difficulties into which they might have fallen since leaving. In the 18 years since my own separation, I have learned something about how to survive and flourish in one’s own vocation. If any of my confreres seeks counsel, a brother’s ear, or encouragement, please leave a comment.
Our Lord went up to the Mount and preached the Sermon which is considered the fundamental norm of Christian life. It was on the 7 beatitudes. Each beatitude can be summed up in one: Blessed are those who are faithful to Me and Mydoctrine!
We live in a world where these words do not ring true in the ears of so many of our contemporaries.
Alas, they do not even ring true in the ears of many of our fellow Catholics.
And it is, dare say, not unexceptional to find that they do not even ring true in the ears of those who should be studying the words and teachings of the Lord.
Yet, it is a wonderful truth, and one worthy of every belief, that you are only blessed and will only be blessed if you be and remain faithful to Jesus Christ.
Let us thank God, therefore, for His Grace, which have made so many faithful.
Faithful to their Baptismal promises, in that they have not set their heart or devoted their career to the pursuit of the world, the flesh or the devil.
Faithful to their devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament, in that they never omit to attend Sunday or, more so, daily Mass, where Alone they can enjoy the physical and spiritual embrace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful to the grace they received in being Confirmed, in that they have followed His light and not contravened a properly Catholic conscience, seeking always to be more faithful to the Lord of Grace, day after day.
Faithful to the grace they received in their priestly Ordination, in that they have never compromised and have remained true to the Magisterium of the Church, the rubrics of the mass, the morals taught by Our Lord, to their duty to preach in season and out etc..
Faithful to the grace of a religious vocation, in which they have put God before and above all else, even to the cost of everything else.
Faithful to a true Catholic Hope, which seeks first the Kingdom of God, not the friendship of this world, keeping thus, their eyes on the Prize, Life on High with Christ Jesus.
Such fidelity is the opposite of pragmatism.
And in the name of pragmatism so many lose their immortal souls. Because they say that it is easier
To be unfaithful to their Baptismal promises, easier to follow after the world, the flesh and/or the devil.
To be unfaithful to the pact they made with Christ at their first communion, and to forget that He descends from Heaven just to meet with them and be their daily sustenance.
To be unfaithful to the grace of their Confirmation, and live like their pagan contemporaries do, refusing nothing even if it offends God.
To be unfaithful to their vocation, whether to the priesthood or religious life, because they wanted to get ahead, get a promotion, be friends with everyone, and not take Religion too seriously.
To be unfaithful to Hope itself, and to despair, so as to sustain the excuse to wallow in their love of this world.
And you know, they are right!
It is always easier to be unfaithful.
And fidelity always costs… it in fact leads to the Cross!
But let us remember that the God who created us, who redeemed us, and who calls us to eternal life is not merely the God of Love, the God who is Love.
He is the God of faithful love.
In fact that is His proper name. The reason why the Apostle St. John does not call God “Faithful love” is because in Greek the adjective would give the phrase another sense, something like “opinionated love”. Yet in Hebrew, what St. John is saying is , “God is faithful love”…
That does not mean He is always there to excuse…as so many false prophets of our day say…rather He is there always to accuse us of our sins, to recall us to fidelity, and to strengthen us when we turn to that path.
For this He has given us not only a conscience, a guardian Angel, but the opportunity to know and accept the One and Only True Faith; and the good example of so many Saints throughout history.
If we could sum up the spirit of the faithful catholic we could say it in one pean, one profound, joyful and heart shaking song:
O God, o Faithful Love, how I have loved Thee!
The decades I have traveled, the continents I have passed, the towns, nations, friends, family, career, inheritance, opportunities I have forsaken for Thee! all these are nothing,
All that I have forsaken is but dust in comparison to Thee; nothing have I in fact lost, but in forsaking all, I have gained Thee, who even without Thy many gifts and blessings are infinitely worthy of my love.
Signs and Symbols are not reality, they signify or indicate it. And a good sign or symbol indicates in a manner understood by all, that which it was intended to indicate.
There are many such signs and symbols in the Ancient Roman Rite which are not so easily understood today. Part of this has to do with the great cultural changes which have taken place since the time of the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution. In the second, just mentioned, phase of cultural change, the slogan of the day was, “Equality, Liberty, Fraternity”. In the name of a slogan, often what happens is the opposite of the slogan. In the French Revolution, the slogan was practiced as if it meant, “Superiority for the Revolutionaries, Liberty to do as we please to our enemies, and Fraternity in homicide and the destruction of the State and Church.”
Egalitarianism is one of the doctrines which are consequent to the slogan of the French Revolution, “Equality!”. So deep is this only-apparent value in French Society today, that you must beware when taking a train, because the first class car is not the first car in the train, it can be positioned anywhere among the many coaches. When I happened to be in France a few years ago, I asked a Frenchman the reason for this bizarre practice, and he said, “We are a nation that abides by equality for all. If the first class car was always first, it would mean that all others were second class citizens!” To which I wryly remarked, “Well if equality is so important to the French, tell me, why is it that the First Class car is still called “First Class”?”
Egalitarianism seeks as a philosophy to affirm the equality of all, by means of symbols, which are not so apt; they are not so apt, because as a philosophy, Egalitarianism is not really about equality, it is about disorder. Right order requires, as I mentioned in my previous post on the Short Treatise to Order and Disorder, a relation among superior and inferior, before and after, father to son, etc.. When you affirm that all should be equal in dignity or rights, then you are affirming that there should be no order. That is why the slogan of the French Revolution was the slogan of a chaotic political movement which pushed the slaughter of thousands of noblemen and clergy and anyone else who decried its own barbarity.
In the recent history of the Catholic Church we have seen the pervading influence of modern culture, the culture in which we live, find its way into proposals regarding how the Church should be or is conducting its Mission in the world. Some of these proposals have taken root in the manner in which the liturgy is conducted. And one of these regards where the priest stands when offering the August Sacrifice of the Mass.
Now, to be a priest, is to be a mediator, and to be a mediator is to stand between the two things among which one mediates. As Aristotle remarked, a means participates in both extremes. And commenting on this observation of the great Philosopher, St. Bonaventure drew out its conclusion regarding Christ’s own Priesthood: to be our Mediator, the Son of God became man, so that having assumed a singular human nature, the Man Christ, the Eternal Word could occupy, as it were, a middle position between the Eternal Father and sinful humanity.
The Incarnation, therefore is signified by an intermediary position. And thus, the priesthood’s proper role as mediator can rightly be signified by an intermediary position. The Redemption, too, is signified by an intermediary position, because it is precisely when God become Man is put to death as a criminal, that the Son of God as Mediator takes the absolute position between the All Holy God and sinful humanity. The position from which the great prayer of Christ upon the Cross obtained the Redemption of the world!
This is what, I believe, is signified in the ancient practice, found in all the liturgies of East and West, known in popular terms, today, as the position Ad Orientem.
When a priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass he must stand at the Altar. If he stands at the Altar facing the people, the Altar is between him and the people. If he stands Ad Orientem, the people are at his back, and he is between Altar and people.
Priestly Solidarity, that is the solidarity a priest should have with his people, as mediator for them with God, is signified well when he stands at the Altar and faces Ad Orientem, that is, toward the Tabernacle, the Aspe of the Church, the liturgical direction of God. Doing so, makes him take an intermediary, and hence sacerdotal position, the position of a mediator, who prays for AND with his flock, to God, supplicating Mercy, seeking pardon and grace.
Ad Orientem, therefore, can be seen as the optimum position for the priest offering sacrifice, for the mediator, for the sacerdos who wishes to stand together with Christ, in the most significant physical position possible, with the One who offered Himself on behalf of mankind to the Father, and who now offers Himself again for the flock gathered in prayer with His priest on earth.
In such wise, the Altar no longer divides priest and people; the priest no longer looks down upon his flock, but rather, with them, looks up to God. — Seen thus, it is easy to understand why the alteration of the position where the priest stands to offer the Sacrifice, affected the architecture of churches and the desire of architects to depart from the classical forms of Catholic church design (But I’ll leave that topic for another post).
“The pastoral care is not an art of making compromises or of ceding ground: it is the art of caring for souls in the truth. When this is given them, everyone arrives at understanding what is said: even, and above all, those who have deformed or criticized it. The language of a good shepherd is the opposite of that which some theologians of the moment say it is. I do not believe in their schismatic proposals. Those who use their ecclesiastical functions to subvert the Church count for something, in reality, only before the eyes of the world because the Church, which they are intent upon destroying in the name of « Church of the Future Humanity », still exists. Then, there are so many signs, above all in Europe, that indicate that the demolishers of the Church, have had their day.”
(Quoted from the Italian text of the Cardinal’s book of reflections, entitled, “Renovatio”, vol. VI, published in 1970.: English translation is by “From Rome” Blog.)
A Critique of the Siri Hypothesis by Wikipedia (in Italian), gives important testimonies from those who knew the Cardinal, that he admitted being offered the candidacy in 1958, but refused it before any votes were taken in favor of it; and later repented to have failed his historic moment of duty for the Church.
If we could sum up under one heading the manifold evils of the present age, we might do it well by remarking that ours is an age in which disorder reigns and in which far too many are forgetful of the proper order which should prevail, in themselves, in their personal relationships, in the relations with state and Church, within the Church, and most importantly with God, His Holy Angels, and the Saints.
It seems that everyone, regardless of which camp they claim to belong to, is acting disorderly and is refusing implicitly or explicitly the Catholic notion of order and the corresponding moral duty to preserve order, observe order, and act according to order in all things, both in our own minds and hearts, and in our external acts.
Being the sons of Adam, if we are not baptized, or reborn as the sons of God, if baptized, though still suffering predominantly from the effects of Adam’s sonship if we have not seriously sought to sanctify ourselves, we are apt to see better the faults of others, than our own.
In recent years there has been a calamitous outcry against the disorder which is spreading in the modern world, whether in the State or in the Church. From the imposition of marxist or socialist economics in the United States, to the advancing of the homosexual revolution by the forced imposition of their perverse creed, from the scandals in the Church regarding the abuse of children by priests and religious, and the worse dishonestly of Bishops, Cardinals, and even Popes, in not doing anything about it, or in denying the problem, or even in denying their own responsibility when documents show that they knew of the problem in time enough to have limited it more than they did: the whole world is aghast at the perversion of order, the falling away from order, and the disorder which abounds on every side.
The advent of blogging has increased the disorder, because the mere liberty of expression and the facility of expression which reigns on blogs, seduces many a weak soul into believing that just because he can say something, he ought to; or just because an issue merits discussion, any discussion of it is meritorious.
The height of recent hypocrisy in this matter, in the Church, has been the intemperate criticism of church leaders for their own intemperate speech; as if the fact that my superior has sinned gives me the right to commit the same sin. Such obtuseness makes many a blogger so adverse to the self-recognition of his own hypocritical behavior, that not even the most gentle of comments is permitted and any attempt at fraternal correction rebuffed.
Blathering on a blog is no more useful and no less sinful, than blathering at the local diner or pub. But alas, the facility of some towards literacy is just a strong occasion of sin for them, as the facility of some for loquacity.
For this reason, following in the footsteps of my Seraphic Father, St. Francis, who commanded all of his sons to preach in season and out, about vice and virtue, punishment and glory, I take this occasion of the Solemn Celebration of his own glorification in Heaven 787 years ago, so begin a small Series of Articles on the notion of Order and Disorder.
I do this to gently remind Catholics the world over of the importance of retaining and returning to a right notion of Order and to putting this notion into practice in everything they do. It is my hope that by means of this series of reflection, at least you who read this blog, might benefit in your own pilgrimage to Heaven.
A Short Treatise on Order and Disorder: An Introduction
St. Francis of Assisi is known the world over for his spirit of faithfulness to the Gospel, his humility and love and devotion to Christ, his care and concern for all God’s creatures, especially poor sinners and unbelievers, to whom he wished to recall to the Gospel or make them know the wonderful good news thereof.
St. Francis is normally presented as a model of holiness or fidelity, but if we look more deeply into his life, he is a marvelous example of order and fidelity to the order which God has established in creation and in the Church.
But to understand better why the observance of order leads to holiness of life and glorification in Heaven, it is good to begin with an introduction to the theology of Order.
1. Order is a Divine Perfection.
According to St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217-1274 A. D.), who with St. Thomas is one of the two primary Doctors of the Church, there are three species of order. You can find these listed in his Commentary on the First Book of Sentences of Master Peter Lombard, d. 20, a. 1, q. 1, p. 372, which God willing, I will be publishing next spring in book format, in the United States of America (but also distributed worldwide by mail).
St. Bonaventure, being a great Scholastic theologian, explains the essential basis of order, thus. There are three species or kinds of order:
A. Order according to position: where one is the superior, another the inferior; but this is in two manners: either according to place, or according to dignity. This species of order does not exist in God.
B. Order according to antecedence: where one is the prior, another the posterior; but this is in two manners: either because the first precedes the second according to duration or time, or because it is prior according to its ‘being understood’ or according to the understanding of its nature. This species does not exist in God.
C. Order according to origin, or according to an emanation, and this is of one producing to one produced. This species exists in God, because there is the order of a Beginning to a Begun, or of One producing to One produced (i. e. the Father to the Son). This divine species of order is the first species of order, because it implicates in itself the other two species: thus, in created things every producer is superior in dignity or prior in time or in being understood.
2. Order in its relations with the transcendentals of being: the one, the true, the good and the beautiful.
The transcendentals of being are appropriatable to the Persons of the Trinity because they express full and pure perfections. Thus, to the Father, one can appropriate “the Good”, to the Son, “the True”, to the Holy Spirit, “the Beautiful”, and to God, “the One”.
Thus, one finds, among the names for the transcendentals, an order between the Good and the True, between ‘the Good and the True’ and the Beautiful.
Perfection according to knowledge is the perfect understanding of the Good; such perfect understanding in God is the Son, Who emanates from the Father as the Eternal Word, the Perfect Likeness and, hence, Knowledge of the Father, Who is “the Good”.
Perfection according to the will is the perfect willing of the Good according to the True; such a perfection of will in God is the Holy Spirit, Who emanates from the Father and Son, from the Father through the Son, as the perfect Love or Nexus of them Both.
3. The Eternal Word as the Exemplar of Order.
Since He is the middle Person in the Trinity, He is, hence, the exemplification of the essential relation of order in the Trinity, since all the intra-trinitarian relations refer to Him; thus, the order between the Divine Persons is completed in the Logos, the Perfect Expression or Image of the Father, and the occasional Principle of the Love Emanating as the Holy Spirit, both from the Father unto the Son, and from the Son unto the Father; because, the precondition for understanding every act of love is that there be two other Persons; and He is the Second Person.
The order which is found in creation, or in our own being, body and soul, or in human society, or in the Church, in Heaven, in Purgatory and on Earth, is a reflection of that Order which is found first in God, and which is exemplified in its highest manner the Eternal Word. By observing the right order in all human affairs, we do the will of Jesus Christ for us. Indeed, if we examine the Gospels and the words of Our Lord and Master, we find that on every page He is teaching us about how to observe the right Divine Order for all things, and how, by returning to the right order, we can be saved and have eternal life.
Order then is a perfection; coming from God, and founding creation; but also a perfection which if we embrace and observe, can transform us in holiness of life and transport us to the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is, therefore, very useful and valuable for each of us to observe order, whether in thought, will, word, or action.
May Christ Jesus, our Eternal Master, by His Omnipotent Spirit, grant us the grace to humbly confess our sins and return to the right order of life!
(In the next installment, I will discuss the perfection of order in created things and the two kinds of society, natural and moral).
In the Gospel of St. Luke 22:31-32, it is written: And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.
Our Lord and Master’s words are transgressed in many ways: often bloggers forget the ones about fraternal correction; there is a way Our Lord wants us to follow, and it is often a mortal sin to act differently because it harms or destroys the chances of our fallen brother’s conversion and repentance. Egging a man on, who is prone to let his mouth run, by correcting and insulting him in public, is not going to achieve his conversion. It is more likely to only make matters worse, to the great displeasure of Our Lord and God, who prefers the salvation of all, especially the more outstanding sinners.
Even the great saints who had to correct their highest earthly superior, did it with discretion, followed our Lord’s rules (first in private, then in private with another, then with the Church). St. Bernard and a council of Burgundian Bishops went to far as to threaten the Pope of their day with excommunication if he did not change his pastoral policy on the injustice of lay investiture … imagine, and that was not even primarily a question of heresy, just the Church’s liberty…
I think that many a blogger’s manner of contentiously pushing the issues from the get go of the present Papacy, helped the blossoming of the present crisis. [Proof: The use by main stream news outlets of quotes found on Bloggers pages attacking Pope Francis. — For charity sake, I won’t name the blogs here.] It is easy to say things that ought not be said in public, when one uses a moniker, but that won’t excuse us before the Throne of Judgement.
A lot of Catholics at Rome are saying, in private and on the phone the same things, but the Italians have a great sensibility to the kind of proper discretion to be used in cases like this…
Comunque, as we say in Italian, let us pray doubly for the Pope, amend our own failings, and even do some fasting, joining ourselves with Christ in His own prayer, “I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail….”!
Roger Scruton, one of the leading Philosophers in the United Kingdom, spoke today to Giulio Meotti of Il Foglio, on of the leading Italian Dailys. What follows is an unofficial English translation of that article.
“They’re creating a whole new language, like the Communists did during the time of the Cold War. A wooden language.”
« George Orwell already spoke of this in his famous ‘two minutes of hatred’ in the novel, 1984, said Roger Scruton, the English Philosopher and Commentator, during his interview with Il Foglio. « The problem of homosexuality is a complicated and difficult one, but we cannot imprison thought itself with laws against the so-called “homophobia”, like that being contemplated by the Italian Parliament, which is nothing other than the criminalization of the right to free intellectual discourse on the question of “gay-marriage”. They are creating a new intellectual crime, a crime against their own ideology, like the Communists did during the Cold War.
The seventy-year old professor of Philosophy at St. Andrew’s University, Scotland, author of thirty books which have made him the most famous conservative English philosopher (or as the Sunday Times: put it: “the brightest intellect of our time”), Scruton was commenting on the proposed law before the Italian Parliament which would criminalize “homophobia”. Even Amnesty International is in favor of the law. « To me, this law on “homophobia” brings back memories of the farcical trials held at Moscow, or those of Maoist China, in which the victims were forced to confess with enthusiasm their own crimes, before being condemned. In all those show trials, the enthusiastic prosecutors accused the victims of “hatred” and “hate speech”, you see what the philosopher Michale Polanyi, in 1963, defined as a “moral inversion”: if you deplored the welfare system ,you were lacking in compassion; if you are opposed to the normalization of homosexuality, you are a “homophobe”; if you believe in western culture, you are an “elitist”. The accusation of “homophobia” means the end of your career, especially for those who work at a University.
Scruton sustains that the manipulation of truth is being conducted under the cover of the distortions of language, just like in Orwell’s novel, under the name of “the New Language”. « The New Language intervenes every time the principal proposition of a language, which is descriptive of reality, is replaced by the intended opposite: and this is nothing other than the raw affirmation of political power over language itself. Here, the fundamental linguistic act coincides only superficially with the assertive grammar. The phrases in the New Language sound like affirmations in which the only logic underlying them is that of a magic formula: they are designed to show the triumph of words over things, the futility of rational argumentation against the politically correct ideology and the danger of resisting the intended enchantment. As a consequence, the New Language has developed its own special syntax which, though strictly connect to that which is normally used in ordinary descriptions, evades it precisely so as to deflower reality or to oppose rational argumentation itself. This is what François Thom tried to illustrate in his essay, “La Langue de bois” (The wooden language). Some of the syntactical peculiarities were pointed out by Thom: the use of the noun in place of a transitive verb; the preference of passive forms and impersonal constructions; the use of comparatives in place of predicates, the omnipresence of the imperative mood ».
With the law on “homophobia”, says Scruton, “they are trying to instill in the mind of the public the same malign idea which is pervading all of Europe, taking up residence in the hearts and heads of the masses which are ignorant of their machinations, diverting, in this way, along the path of sin even the most innocent affairs of men. The New Language freezes and hardens the mind. Common parlance itself generates, with its own native resources, the concepts which the New Language prohibits: correct / incorrect; just / unjust; honest / dishonest; your / mine.
A Form of Re-education
Scruton says that the fear of heresy is a foot in the country of Europe. « A considerable system of semiofficial etiquette is emerging for the prohibition of free speech on points of reality which are seen as “dangerous”. The threats are spreading so rapidly in society that there is no way to avoid them in daily life. When words become crimes, and thoughts are judged as advocacy, a sort of malign prudence invades intellectual life. They are controlling language, sacrificing style for a more “inclusive” syntax, they avoid speaking of sex, race, and religion. Every phrase or idiom which contains a judgement on any category or class of persons can become, from one day to another, the object of reproach. This political correctness is a soft form of condemnation with the same violence of a Salem witch trial ». Like they did in Massachusetts in colonials times, as narrated in the Scarlet Letter. « Whoevery is worried about all of those and wants to make some protest, has to battle against powerful forms of censure. Whoever dissents from what is becoming the Neo-Orthodoxy of “gay-rights” is regularly accused of “homophobia”. In the United States of America there are political action committees which examine the candidacy of politicians to determined whether they are “homophobes”, so to liquidate their candidacies from the get go, by means of the mere accusation. Even in the selection of juries, one hears, “We will never accept the possibility that such a person can be part of the jury: she is a Christian and a homophobe!”
According to Scruton, all this is reminiscent of the ideological warfare which prevailed at the time of the Cold War: « In those years it was considered necessary by some to create definitions to stigmatize the opposition with a visceral hatred so as to justify his expulsion from society: there was “revisionist”, “deviazionist”, “teenage lefty”, “utopian socialist”, “social fascist”. The success of these labels to marginalize and condemn the opposition reinforced the error spread by the Communists that by means of language you could change reality: for example, you could invent the culture of a proletariat by using the word “prolekult”; you could unchain yourself from the failure of a free economy simply by shouting “the crisis of capitalism” every time the topic came up; you could combine the absolute power of the Communist Party with the free consent of the people by calling the Communist Government, a “centralized democracy”. How easy it became to murder millions of innocents, considering that nothing bad was resulting, no, it was only the “liquidation of prisoners”! How simple it was to shut people up for years in work camps until they got sick or died, when one only had to redefine them as “re-education camps”. Now, there is a new secular bigotry which wants to criminalize the liberty of expression when it regards the topic of “homosexuality”.
Finally, Scruton says, it’s a battle between the “pragmatist” and the “rationalist”. For the former, « there is no utility in the old ideologies of objectivity and universal truth, the only thing which matters is that “we” are in agreement. Who is this “we”? And upon what do we find ourselves in agreement? “We” are for feminism, “we” are liberals, supporters of the movement for the “liberation of gays” and for an “open curriculum”; “we” do not believe in God or in any handed-down religion, and the old ideas of authority, order and self-discipline are for “us” immaterial. “We” are the ones to decide the meaning of texts, by creating with our own words the consent which with they are weighed. “We” have no bonds, except for those of the community to which we have chosen to belong, and since there is no objective truth, but only a self-generated consent, “our “position is unattackable from any point of view outside of “our” own. The pragmatist can not only decide what to think, he can also protect against anyone thinking in a different way ».
“The whole principle of our doctrines has taken root from the Lord of the Heavens above” (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 1, “On Isaias”).
On the occasion of receiving the Doctorate in Sacred Theology, at the University of Paris, in 1252, St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, one of the two primary Doctors of the Church, gave a historical sermon on the Magisterial Authority of Jesus Christ, which remains, to this day, one of the most eloquent and theologically complete exposition of the Catholic Faith on the topic. In what is now commonly referred to as n. 15, of that Sermon, the Seraphic Doctor has this to say:
From the aforesaid, therefore, there appears, the order by which and the author by whom one arrives at Wisdom. — For the order is, to begin from the stability of the Faith and proceeds through the serenity of reason, to arrive at the savoriness of contemplation; which Christ hinted at, when He said: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And in this manner is fulfilled that verse of Proverbs 4:6: The path of the just as a splendid light goes forth and grows even unto the perfect day. To this order did the Saints hold, attentive as they were to that verse of Isaiah, according to the other translation: Unless you will have believed, you will not understand. This order the philosophers ignore, who neglecting the Faith and totally founding themselves on reason, could in no manner arrive at contemplation; because, as St. Augustine says in the first book On the Trinity, « the sickly keenness of the human mind is not fixed in such an excellent light, unless it be cleansed through the justice of the Faith ».
From time immemorial, it has been an intrinsic and infallible truth of the Catholic Faith, that by faith is a man-made pleasing to God,* a faith founded upon the assent of the mind to revealed truth, accompanied by an act of repentance from all wickedness. It is St. Paul, himself, who taught us that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6). And in this dogmatic teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles, one can easily discern a profound commentary on the words of Our Lord and Master: God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
Worshiping God in truth, requires, obviously, first of all, that man knows the truth regarding God; and this truth is the truth God has revealed about Himself, partially in the writings and teachings of the Prophets of the Old Testament, fully in the self-revelation of Himself when He became Man, known to faith and history as Christ Jesus, faithfully and clearly in the teachings of the Apostles, of whom we have the letters of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, St. Jude, and St. John, and the Gospels of the Evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and, again, St. John.
Down through the ages, in the fulfillment of the words of Christ, Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her. (Matthew 16:18), and, again, I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may never fail, and so that when you are converted, you may strengthen yourbrethren. (Luke 22:31),the Roman Pontiffs have at times used their divinely conferred authority, to strengthen the whole Church in the Faith of Christ, that is, the faith which Christ taught. They did this in letters, at councils, and in promulgating decrees and other documents, wherein they specified with precise terminology, what is to believed, and what is not to be believed, so that the faith of all Christians might find stability and unity in the profession of the same authentic doctrine which Christ taught and which He handed down and willed to be kept, through the Apostles, in the Catholic Church, until the tend of time.
Stability in the faith, therefore, is nothing to be ashamed about; rather it is something of which every faithful Catholic should glory, knowing as he does that this is a necessary blessing, without which a man founders in a sea of error, especially in those times of life or in those ages in which the fallen spirits wage more openly their war against the righteous.
Stability in the One True Faith, without which it is impossible to be saved, requires, consequently a loyalty to the One True Faith, which was given by Christ and passed from the Apostles in the Church, through the Magisterium, faithfully, unchanged, for tewnty centuries. Hence, fidelity to Christ requires that every Catholic hold fast to this historic deposit, and that thus, if in any aspect of the life of the Church, there has been a falling away from this Holy Faith, that he dedicate himself to restoring what was lost in practice.
Lost in practice, because in truth, the Church has never lost Her Faith, regardless of how many clergy, religious, or even Bishops, might abandon it or its practice. Lost in pratice, not in the whole Church, but in many members of Her, because the Holy Spirit is always at work inspiring some members to keep what He Himself wishes restored in the Church, even if the vast majority have forgotten or abandoned His inspirations and handiwork.
Hence it is a good and holy thing to be a restorationist, in this sense; and those who say otherwise, have been deceived by the world, the flesh, or the Devil.
But faithfulness, does not mean legalism. A legalist sees only laws, and not the truths upon which they are founded, or the end for which they were instituted. A legalist, for example, who is faithful to Vatican II, might forget that it was merely a pastoral council, that it intended above all the salvation of souls and the conversion of the world to Christ. A legalist who remains loyal to the Council but forgets these greater truths, might insist upon the Council even to the destruction of the faith, of the salvation of souls, or to driving away souls from the Church; or worse, to confirming the enemies of Christ in their hatred for the Faith.
A VICE DIRECTLY CONTRARY TO STABILITY IN THE FAITH
Directly contrary to the stability with which the Catholic believer is blessed, is the vice and curse of impulsiveness.
Impulsiveness is that vice of consenting to violent movements of passion, emotion, feeling or sentiment, which assail a man from within his own soul. A man poorly trained in the use of his reason, easily falls to such movements, confusing the movement for a free act which comes from himself; and giving himself up to it, such that he considers it an inspiration in the general sense of a worthwhile thought; or worse, an inspiration in the specific sense, as something from God.
In truth, many such violent movements come from the effects of original sin in the soul and body; still others come from the fallen spirits which are ever afoot to harm souls. Such movements are more frequent in souls beholden to some sinful and vicious preoccupation with things, with some sort of idolatrous devotion to wordly values or goals. They are most frequent in souls which glory in their own impulsiveness, or who think that such impulsiveness comes from God, which last stage of this vice is the worst of all, since no one in good conscience can escape noticing, that the God of Truth is a God of order, not disorder, peace non violence.
Impulsiveness occurs when a man does not submit his reason and judgement to faith; fails to examine his conscience, omits humility which would cover his mind with a suspicion about such instantaneous outbursts. Since a humble man knows that of himself he is nothing but dung and capable of evil; he knows well that instantaneous violent movements within him, DO NOT COME FROM GOD. He eschews impulsiveness, as a vice which leads to imprudent destructive action.
If a man, however, is stable in the One True Faith, he has a stable norm for mortifying his inner self; and from this comes the strength of will and reason to recognize impulsiveness for what it is, a vice, and to combat it with humility, self-reflection, and self-criticism.
In this way, as St. Augustine says, Faith leads to the purification of the mind and heart; and in this way the light which has come to us in Baptism, the light of faith, grows from the faintest dawn to the full day of holiness (Proverbs 4:6).
* When we say, that a man is made pleasing to God by faith, we speak of “faith” as a theological virtue and in regard to the order of instrumental causality, since, obviously, it is God who by giving us faith as a free gift, justifies us; that is God works faith in those whom He calls to salvation, and by faith conforms the mind of the believer to His own mind. Justification, however, is thus not by faith alone, as Luther taught, because there is necessary for justification, that (1) a man be disposed to accept God’s teaching and the movements of the Holy Spirit in his soul, (2) that hear the word of God preached to him, (3) that he believe the Gospel message contained therein and all that Christ and the Apostles and Prophets taught, (4) that He love the God who has thus revealed Himself, (5) that he hope in fulfillment of what God has promised in Christ Jesus’ Resurrection and teaching, (5) that he purposefully and firmly resolve to accept Baptism in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, and in particular (6) do so in penance of all his sins and vices, because a man who believes without repentance, has believed in vain. After Baptism, if a man sins, he has the blessing of the help of Christ Jesus offered in the Sacrament of Confession, which Christ taught and instructed the Apostles to give to repentant sinners, when He said: Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you hold bound, are held bound! He who hears you, hears Me; and he who rejects you, rejects Me! The 12 Apostles in ordaining Bishops and priests established the Catholic Hierarchy, which extends down through time to our day, and which forms that 1 true Church which is known to men as the Catholic Church.
In the Last 60 years, there has been a profusion of writers lamenting the collapse of Western Civilization. Whether measured by the statistics of increased crime, increased family problems, loss of virtues, political or economic or ecclesiastical instability, most Catholic and Christian thinkers are in agreement. Western Civilization is in decline.
A google search for “the Decline of Western Civilization” seems to bolster this observation: 147,000 search results for this exact phrase, and this, in English only.
Butler Shaffer expressed a common, popular conception of this decline when. in 2009, he observed
It is interesting — albeit not pleasant — to witness the collapse of Western civilization. A vibrant system that once was productive of the material and intangible values supportive of human well-being, has reached a terminal state. Civilizing principles and practices that found sufficient — albeit inconstant — expression in Western societies, have deteriorated into an acceptance of corruption — provided it is carried out in high places — and the celebration of violence — provided it is directed against plausible categories of wrongdoers. In such ways has the multi-trillion dollar looting of taxpayers on behalf of an entrenched corporate-state plutocracy combined with the ongoing conduct of endless wars against endless enemies to send a morally, intellectually, and economically bankrupt culture to an awaiting black hole.
The editor of the Rogue Government Blog, wrote in 2010, that the collapse of Western Civilization was a complex consequence of non-rational political and social actors. He founds his analysis upon the observation that civilization is based upon, what he calls, “rational self-interest”, and that when the general population fails to cultivate this, internal order in the society fails, and the civilization collapses:
If reasonable men can agree to these rules, then society can become prosperous and enjoyable. If they reject them, then man is locked into a constant political war for resources. These ideas and ideals can be categorized as “rational self-interest” and extended to imply not only political but also economic principles. Rational self-interest entails mutual cooperation and trade of the fruits of one’s freely chosen labor so that people in a just societal order can pursue happiness of their own accord and allow others to do likewise. The proper and dignified life for man is one of personal challenge and triumph over obstacles, and the laissez-faire economic order provides all but the most helpless, clueless, and lazy the opportunity to eventually succeed.
When the clueless, the lazy and indolent are rewarded for such behavior, entropy takes over, and the end of civilization is inevitable, especially when these disgregational forces are impelled by political networks, such as socialists, progressives, and communists.
However, the Evangelical writer, James B. Jordan, writing in 2007, went deeper into the problem regarding the whole notion of “Western Civilization”. In the first installment of seven part essay, he drew attention to the fundament relationship between religion, history, and founders of culture:
Once that tradition is gone, the culture cannot be put back together. Cultures are not like stones in a wall, which if it crumbles can be rebuilt. Rather, cultures are like Humpty Dumpty. When an egg and its yoke are broken, then all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put it back together again. When a culture is gone — and ours is — the only valid possibility for the future is to lay the foundations for a new culture. Within the history of a culture, a Josiah can rebuild it; but when a culture is gone, new Abrahams are needed. When things fall apart, and the center can no longer hold, we must be Abrahams. Otherwise the rough beast will take over Bethlehem.
All these views of society collapse are cogent and not to be discounted. A recent Russian author, Dmitry Orlov, writing about the collapse of the Soviet Union, has studied the phenomena of society collapse in this new book, The Five Stages of Collapse; recently reviewed by Carolyn Baker, in April of this year. Orlov has proposed 5 solutions to each of the 5 aspects of society collapse, though he limits himself to a merely material analysis.
My own views as a Cultural Anthropologist
The entire concept of “civilization” is a very complex one, which cannot be summarily explained by simply one methodology or analysis. We can look at aspects of culture or society organization and seek to discern the causes and forces which are molding and changing them. But hard and fast empirical rules/laws are not to be found in the human sciences, simply because man is a free agent, not a necessary agent. Moreso, when you admit, as Christians do, that man is God’s creation, called by Him to eternal life, and ever the subject and object of His merciful interventions into History.
One aspect, therefore, I’d like to remark upon, is what I call the eSquandering of Civilization. The proliferation of electronic devices and means of communication, their fascination for the weak minded and those inclined more to sentimentalism and experientialism that rational cognitive reflection or meditation, is leading the vast mass of mankind to reduce his societal relationships to artificial means.
This is only a trend, not an absolute factor, as obviously, we still have predominately human personal interactions. But the trend, however so small, is having a remarkable impact on several particular aspects of society, which I enumerate here:
The first of which is the neglect of reading serious literature.
The second of which is the neglect of writing about serious matters.
The third of which is the neglect of listening to what others are in fact saying.
The fourth of which is the neglect of refraining from making an immediate reaction or comment.
The fifth is the neglect of reflection or reasoned meditation.
Each is having an impact on a different aspect of what it means to be a civilized human being.
Take for example the constant use of the Internet and TV-services. The annual cost alone per family is squandering financial resources which could be used to purchase books for a family library, and thus create a permanent heritage of useful and worthwhile information accessible to themselves and their descendents. Instead, they pay monthly fees for monthly services, the utility of which is momentary, the value of which is temporary, and the effect of which is merely utilitarian, based on pleasing the emotions or serving practical affairs of daily life. The resulting loss to the book industry, means that thinkers who are worth being read, cannot get published; and thus society as a whole loses the precious gift of their contribution to civilization, which is thus squandered by neglect.
The lack of writing about serious matters, is causing the loss of the ability to think in a reasoned manner, because you cannot express yourself in writing about a serious topic, in a manner worthy to be listened to, without using the tools of reason. This means the loss of the acquisition of skills for writing, and thus the loss of future writers who would have influence the betterment of civilization by their contributions. The squandering of talent.
The neglect of listening is the most serious problem. Because without listening there is no communication or social relations based on reasoned discourse. And that means the utter collapse of society organization. The squandering of human relationships.
The neglect to refrain from immediate reaction, is reducing individuals’ ability to act on a rational basis rather that on gut-feelings or suspicions. This is leading to the formation of a culture based on irrational impulses, and thus to the creation of a new barbarism for societal order. The squandering of humanity.
The neglect to take time out and think seriously about a problem before speaking or writing or acting about is, is the final blow to civilization. It is leading the next generation into a culture where decision making skills are woefully lacking or impaired, when the decisions regard long term planning, prudential discernment, and the selection between what is lasting and what is ephemeral. And that means the next generation will not be able to sustain the civilized order when it is put at risk by calamitous events or urgent or severe problems. The squandering of intelligence.
A Christian solution to eSquandering
We are seeing the collapse of Western Civilization for all of the above reasons. We need to return to Our Lord and Maker, Jesus Christ, and learn again from Him, what it means to be human, civilized and rational. This we can do only with faith, prayer, and repentance from a culture of sinful preoccupation with the ephemeral, which is merely the result of an age which is so forgetful of God, that it is becoming oblivious to being itself.