"It is during Advent that our Hearts and Minds, anticipating the Birth of Jesus, become most open to His Saving Light"
by James Larson
The meaning, structure, and organization of this Rosary campaign are explained in the Proposal on the website linked above. But I think it important also to examine why it is singularly appropriate and necessary to be preparing for and promoting this event during the Advent season.
It is during Advent that our hearts and minds, anticipating the birth of Jesus, become most open to His saving Light. St. Louis de Montfort said that the Incarnation is the most important of the mysteries of Christ’s life because it contains the grace and intention of all the rest. It is here where God’s saving Light and Grace are born into this world, thereby making possible the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord which has earned the grace of salvation for all men. It therefore constitutes an absolute line of demarcation in human history. It irrevocably separates Darkness from Light, and Life from spiritual Death.
All the modern errors which have penetrated into the Church, and into the individual minds and hearts of the faithful, can therefore be seen as a denial of the absolute uniqueness of the Advent and Incarnation of Our Lord. They also constitute a denial of the absolutely necessary saving mission of the Church. Christ is the Light of the World Who was born on Christmas Day, and this Light made its Triumphal entrance into His Temple the Church on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and the Purification of Mary. For this reason, February 2 is the last day of the Christmas season, and represents its fulfillment and perfection within Christ’s Church. It is this perfection which has now been obscured in the darkness of sin and error.
All Catholics possessing a good grasp of their faith understand, at least intuitively, the breadth of dogmas which are intimately and integrally connected to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Reaching backwards in human history, we touch upon those dogmas concerning man’s origin – his creation in a state of original justice, his initial possession of sanctifying grace, his subsequent Fall through Original Sin, and the promise of a future Redeemer. All of world history before the Incarnation, in other words, must rightly be viewed as a period of intense waiting and longing for the Advent of Jesus Christ.
With the actual Coming of Jesus we encounter a whole new host of dogmas: that which defines the union of the Divine and human natures in the One Divine Person of Jesus Christ; that which defines the justification achieved through Christ’s Passion and Resurrection ; those doctrines concerning baptism and the taking away of original sin, reception of the Holy Spirit, and the infusion of sanctifying grace into the soul in order to effect that “New Creation” which is man restored to the life and friendship of God; and, finally, that dogma concerning the founding of the Church with its mission from Christ to preach these truths – this Light – to the whole world, and to baptize, and to “bring into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5).
The Advent of Christ, in other words, is the very center of all of human history. It is impossible to devalue its absolute significance, and the line of demarcation in human history which it represents, without at the same time undermining every one of the above-mentioned dogmas. It is this denial of the true meaning and significance of the Advent of Christ which has now penetrated deeply into the Church, and is the cause of the darkness now within. And this is precisely what Joseph Ratzinger did in the passages quoted below from his book Being Christian (1970):
“This week we celebrate with the Church the beginning of Advent. If we think back to what we learned as children about Advent and its significance, we will remember being told that the Advent wreath, with its candles, is a reminder of the thousands of years (perhaps thousands of centuries) of the history of mankind before Christ. It reminds all of us of the time when an unredeemed mankind awaited salvation. It brings to our minds the darkness of an as yet unredeemed history in which the light of hope was only slowly kindled until, in the end, Christ, the light of the world, came and freed mankind from the darkness of condemnation. We learned also that those thousands of years before Christ were a time of condemnation because of original sin, while the centuries after the birth of our Lord are ‘anni salutis reparatae,’ years of restored salvation. And finally, we will remember being told that, in Advent, besides thinking back on the past to the period of condemnation and expectation of mankind, the Church also fixes her attention on the multitude of people who have not yet been baptized, and for whom it is still Advent, since they wait and live in the darkness of the absence of salvation.
If we look at the ideas we learned as children through the eyes of contemporary man and with the experiences of our age, we will see that we can hardly accept them. The idea that the years after Christ, compared with those before, are years of salvation will seem to be a cruel irony if we remember such dates as 1914, 1918, 1933, 1939, 1945; dates which mark periods of world war in which millions of men lost their lives, often in terrifying circumstances; dates which bring back the memory of atrocities such as humanity has never before experienced. One date (1933) reminds us of the beginning of a regime [Nazi Germany] which achieved the most cruel perfection in the practice of mass murder; and finally, we remember that year in which the first atomic bomb exploded on an inhabited city, hiding in its dazzling brilliance a new possibility of darkness for the world.
“If we think about these things, we will have difficulty in distinguishing between a period of salvation and one of condemnation. And, extending our vision even further, if we contemplate the works of destruction and barbarity perpetrated in this and the preceding centuries by Christians (that is to say by us who call ourselves ‘redeemed’), we will be unable to divide the nations of the world into the redeemed and the condemned.
If we are sincere, we will no longer build up a theory which divides history and geography into zones of redeemed and zones of condemned. Rather, we will see the whole of history as a gray mass in which it is always possible to perceive the shining of a goodness which has not completely disappeared, in which there can always be found in men the desire to do good, but also in which breakdowns occur which lead to the atrocities of evil.” [all emphasis is mine]
All of this, of course, is a profound denial of Catholic truths concerning Christ’s Redemption (especially as found in Galatians 3) and the meaning of baptism. The Incarnation of Christ is an ontological event which radically changed God’s relationship to man, man’s relationship to God, and the course and nature of human history. It is Christ’s Advent which altered the “gray mass” of human history into a choice between light and darkness. It is Satan who wishes to obscure this radical demarcation in history, and the choice which it requires of each one of us. “Gray masses,” whether they are postulated in the realm of morality and ethics, or in regard to the redemptive work of Christ, are the realm of Satan. If there is not a truly significant historical effect of Christ’s Advent and Passion, then we must also conclude that there has been no real historical effects of baptism and sanctifying grace upon individuals, and therefore upon the social order. This, of course, is exactly what Joseph Ratzinger tried to establish as an historical fact with his litany of atrocities applicable to the 20th century, and also his reference to atrocities perpetrated by nominal Christians in centuries past. It is immensely ironic and tragic that Joseph Ratzinger did not realize that the 20th Century atrocities which he lists in no way provide evidence against the traditional view of Christ’s Advent, or against such doctrines as original sin, sanctifying grace, or the necessity for implementing the Social Kingship of Christ. Rather, they provide profound confirmation of the inevitable consequences of the decay of traditional Christian orthodoxy and civilization, and the resultant ascension to power of forces, ideas, individuals, and movements (such as Communism, Nazism, secular-messianic democracy, pluralism, and relativism) at total war with Christianity. It is these forces and ideas which have now penetrated into the hearts and minds of innumerable Catholics, including many in the hierarchy, and have now darkened and obscured the Light which was ushered into the Church almost 2,000 years ago upon the day of The Presentation of Our Lord and The Purification of Mary, and is absolutely necessary to overcome the darkness of this world.
So now, during this Advent and Christmas season, let us turn our eyes away from the darkness of the world and inward towards the saving Light of Christ. And as part of this preparation and celebration, let us also turn our hearts to what is necessary in order that this Light may once again, for the salvation of all men, be restored to its virginal purity in Christ’s Catholic Church.
We ask all Catholics to journey to their churches of February 2, and, through the praying of the Rosary, to beseech Our Blessed Mother to intercede with her Son for the specific intention of the Purification of the Church and the Triumph of the Light of Christ over the Darkness of sin and error.
We also ask all those who read these words, and take them to heart, to do everything they can during this season of Christmas, and all through the month of January, to convince their family, friends, and personal contacts to do the same, and to also ask their priests and bishops to open their churches for this Rosary To The Interior: For the Purification of the Church.
Our Hope: Fatima, and What Remains of True Catholic Intelligence
For he that doth truth, cometh to the light (John 3: 21)
Fatima is our only Hope. All that follows is a journey “to the Borders” to this conclusion.
In a 27 page letter, dated July 16th, 2017, 62 intellectuals sent a letter titled Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis (Filial Correction For the Propagation of Heresies) to Pope Francis addressing “the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.” On September 24, the website Rorate Caeli published this document, accompanied by the following introductory Note:
There will be many Catholics, even traditionalists, whose first defeatist reaction will be to belittle this effort. But the wise, the learned in history, will understand that this is just the first part, the first piece of the puzzle, with next steps still to come in a long and extended process.
This first step is an initiative of a theological nature that will likely lead, God willing, to an initiative of a canonical nature from those who have the mandate to act. And so it begins. [this statement rendered in bold emphasis was also the title of Rorate Caeli’s presentation of the Correctio….].
This statement is simply false. There is, in the first place, no “initiative of a canonical nature” by which the Pope can be disciplined or declared deposed. I recommend my articles A Tower of Babel: The Rush to Depose a Pope, and Cardinal Burke: The Center Will Not Hold, in reference to this subject (all articles referenced can be found in the menu of the left side of this page).
Secondly, the solution to the present crisis does not, I think, lie in an intellectual initiative. The minds of Catholic intellectuals have largely been eviscerated of the ability to penetrate to the intellectual roots of the present crisis. This is fully evident in the Correctio Filialis itself, which never penetrates to the root heresy present in Amoris Laetitia. I will have more to say about this later. First, in order to help “flesh-out” what will later be discussed, I offer the following:
Preamble: A Letter to Priests
On September 27, 2017, I sent the following letter to the Bishop and 73 priests whom I could locate serving in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. It took quite a bit of work. The diocese lists the towns and names of the individual churches, but not the addresses or current pastor(s). This information had to be accessed through their online bulletins. The letters were hand-addressed to each individual priest, with my name and return-address included.
The Catholic Church teaches that to knowingly or culpably deny even one doctrine of the Catholic Faith is to lose sanctifying grace (and thus charity, or the state of being in God’s friendship), and to fall into mortal sin. And, of course, to commit even one grave moral sin results in the same loss. The Council of Trent solemnly declares:
“In opposition also to the subtle wits of certain men, who, by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent, it is to be maintained, that the received grace of Justification is lost, not only by infidelity whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost; thus defending the doctrine of the divine law, which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelieving, but the faithful also (who are) fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liers with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins; from which, with the help of divine grace, they can refrain, and on account of which they are separated from the grace of Christ.” (Session VI, chapter XV).
According to Pew Research Polls (and basically verified by other polls), we have the following statistics in regard to the acceptance of serious mortal sins among American Catholics: 50% of American Catholics believe that abortion should be legal in “most or all cases” (and surely a much higher percentage believe it should be legal in at least the “hard” cases such as “life of the mother”, rape, and incest), 70% believe gay marriage “should be accepted by society” (this figure is up 12% in just the past 10 years), 89% believe that artificial contraception is morally acceptable or not a moral issue at all, 85% believe it is acceptable for unmarried couples to live together outside of marriage, 76% believe that unmarried, co-habiting couples should be allowed to receive Holy Communion, and over 60 % believe that divorced and remarried couples (without an annulment) should be allowed to receive Holy Communion (this last statistic may have grown significantly since the data collected here came before the apparent endorsement of such a practice in certain instances by Pope Francis in “Amoris Laetitia”, and before being put into practice by a significant number of bishops), . All this would make it almost certain that over 80 % of Catholics in this country embrace at least one of these errors (and this without even considering infallible dogmatic teachings of the Faith such as Transubstantiation, Original Sin, Mary’s Perpetual Virginity, the Immaculate Conception, etc.). Such rejection of Catholic beliefs might be somewhat lower in rural areas, but I severely doubt if there is a 10% difference.
Holy Scripture and the Church also teach that anyone who receives Holy Communion while being in mortal sin not only commits sacrilege (“guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord”), but also “eateth and drinketh judgment to himself” (1 Cor. 11: 27-29). What duty, therefore, can be more incumbent upon every priest in this present age of apostasy from Catholic Truth than that of very carefully explaining from the pulpit the nature of both mortal sin and Eucharistic sacrilege, of being very specific in regard to the sins enumerated above, and declaring emphatically that anyone who commits these sins, or denies these teachings of Christ and His Church, must not receive Holy Communion? To be silent in regard to this obligation entails not only complicity in “re-crucifying” Christ, but also amounts to confirming the vast majority of Catholics in mortal sin. This is not charity or mercy towards souls.
Of course, any priest who would fulfill this obligation would almost certainly and immediately begin losing many parishioners, and this translates into a large loss of revenues. It is necessary first of all, therefore, that a priest who is to be faithful in preaching these truths makes the fundamental choice of serving God rather than Mammon.
Even more important, however, is the question as to whether priests are willing to follow Christ and be a sign of contradiction to “the world, the flesh, and the devil”, or whether they choose to abet, especially through their silence, the descent of the Church into the cesspool of this modern world. The latter, of course, is precisely the course upon which the priesthood almost universally embarked after Vatican II – which every Sunday found the priest in the pulpit preaching about love, mercy, and forgiveness, while the vast majority of the faithful were amalgamating their faith to the world and succumbing to mortal sins which destroy their life in God. We also cannot fail to note that this silence rebounded upon the priesthood itself with a huge loss of vocations, desertions from the priesthood, and the descent of many into every conceivable form of “filth”. As Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.” (Mt. 5:13).
Our individual churches have largely become temples of massive sacrilege, and this despite all the gentle sentiments that each week waft forth from the pulpit. It is here, in the pulpit, where the local priest must take his stand either for Belial or Christ: “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” (Mt. 12:30). It is here where he succumbs to silence, or speaks the Word of Truth which is the life of Christ and the only light by which he and all his flock may be drawn out from all the evils of this modern world.”
After reading this letter, a friend called it “explosive”. I would have to agree – its arguments are not only irrefutable, but carry with them the most grave consequences. Any priest who still possessed any belief in the Real Presence and the concept of sanctifying grace would necessarily have to conclude that the vast majority of Sacred Hosts which he distributed were destined for sacrilegious reception, and for the concomitant condemnation of the souls who received Our Lord in such conditions of mortal sin. Further, he should have been deeply convicted in his own conscience that by remaining silent in relation to these truths he himself would be complicit in countless grave sins against Our Lord, and against those faithful in his parish whom he might otherwise claim to love (and in the case of the bishop, all those in his diocese) .
It is now one month since I sent my letter, and I have received one reply. It was extreme. I offer it here not because I think it representative of all that I could have conceivably received at this point of time, but because I think it accurately represents the logical conclusion of the loss of Catholic mind and heart we now see progressing at a geometric pace within Christ’s Catholic Church.
This priest’s reply ran to a full 3 pages of 12 font type. I certainly do not want to tax the reader’s patience by quoting the whole thing, but I do want to offer two parts, neither of which were authored by this priest himself, but were originally penned by writers whom he quoted, and with whom he obviously agrees. The first is a gross caricature of the spirituality (and doctrine) which has come down to us through the centuries. It is also a horrendous blasphemy of the God Whom Catholics have worshipped over the past 2,000 years. The second embodies his view of the new “mercy”, which is the inevitable omega point of the new and erroneous concept of mercy now washing over the Church.
The first passage is taken originally from the writings of theologian Walter Imbiorski:
“You see, part of the difficulty is that most of us are caught up emotionally in what I would call Anselmian Salvation Theology, which goes something like this. God created the world. Adam and Eve sinned. God got pretty damn sore, goes into a 10,000 year pout, slams the gates of heaven and throws the scoundrels out. So, he’s up there pouting and about 5,000 years go by and the Son comes up and gives him the elbow and says, ‘Hey Dad, now is the time to forgive those people down there.’ God says, ‘No, I don’t like them, they offended my divine majesty, they stay out. Let’s make another galaxy instead!’ Five thousand more years go by and the Son comes up and says: ‘Aw come on, Dad, Let’s forgive them! Look, I tell you what I’m going to do. If you will love them again, I’ll go down there and become one of them, then you’ll have to love them because I’ll be one of them.’ God looks at the Son and says: ‘Don’t bank on it. That doesn’t turn me on too much at all.’ So the Son replies, ‘All right, God-Father, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’ll raise the ante. I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse! I’ll not only go down there and become one of them, I’ll suffer for them, real blood – you know how that turns you on, Dad! How about it?’ And God says, ‘Now you’re talking. But it’s got to be real torture and real blood – no God-tricks you understand. You’ve really got to suffer. And if you’ll do that then I’ll forgive them. But if they stray off the straight and narrow just that much – Zap – I’m going to send them to hell so fast their heads will swim.’ And that is what we have been calling the ‘good news’ of the Gospel.”
Now, I realize that at this point the reader might be thoroughly disgusted, and that I might be accused of here employing the bizarre musings of one unhinged priest (or theologian) in order to try to establish some sort of norm for the future. I therefore offer the following from an interview/discussion between Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Jacques Servais conducted in October of 2015:
Benedict XVI: “It seems to me that in the theme of divine mercy is expressed in a new way what is meant by justification by faith. Starting from the mercy of God, which everyone is looking for, it is possible even today to interpret anew the fundamental nucleus of the doctrine of justification, and have it appear again in all its relevance.”
Servais: “When Anselm says that Christ had to die on the cross to repair the infinite offense that had been made to God, and in this way to restore the shattered order, he uses a language which is difficult for modern man to accept (cfr. Gs 215.ss iv). Expressing oneself in this way, one risks likely to project onto God an image of a God of wrath, relentless toward the sin of man, with feelings of violence and aggression comparable with what we can experience ourselves. How is it possible to speak of God’s justice without potentially undermining the certainty, deeply established among the faithful, that the God of the Christians is a God “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4)?”
Benedict XVI: “The conceptuality of St. Anselm has now become for us incomprehensible. It is our job to try again to understand the truth that lies behind this mode of expression. For my part I offer three points of view on this point [in the interest of brevity and relevance, we will here examine only the first two – the third is much in line with them].”
Before moving on to examine Benedict’s alternative to the “conceptuality of St. Anselm”, it is absolutely necessary to understand what has already been accomplished by Benedict’s new way of conceptualization in regard to justification by faith. The concept of a God demanding Justice has been eliminated. At least four times in the course of this interview Benedict specifically identifies such a view with believing in a cruel God. In his entire interview he in fact never mentions God’s justice without identifying it with cruelty. Thus, again from Benedict XVI:
“Only where there is mercy does cruelty end, only with mercy do evil and violence end. Pope [Pope] Francis is totally in agreement with this line. His pastoral practice is expressed in the fact that he continually speaks to us of God’s mercy. It is mercy that moves us toward God, while justice frightens us before Him.”
There is here, in Benedicts’ view no value in the concept of God’s Justice as leading us towards Him, or towards His Mercy. The concept that “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” has been totally eliminated. Justice and Mercy are diametrically opposed. We must also note, as evidenced in this passage, the deep union of hearts between the theology of Benedict and the pastoral work of Francis.
When we now come to examine Benedict’s first point necessary for “overcoming” the conceptuality of Anselm, we encounter the second and third instances of Benedict identifying cruelty with the notion of God’s Justice:
“The contrast between the Father, who insists in an absolute way on justice, and the Son who obeys the Father and, obedient, accepts the cruel demands of justice, is not only incomprehensible today, but, from the point of view of Trinitarian theology, is in itself all wrong.
“The Father and the Son are one and therefore their will is intrinsically one. When the Son in the Garden of Olives struggles with the will of the Father, it is not a matter of accepting for himself a cruel disposition of God, but rather of attracting humanity into the very will of God. We will have to come back again, later, to the relationship of the two wills of the Father and of the Son.”
We must here add a bit of theological commentary, even being so bold as to correct deficiencies in Benedict’s view of traditional Catholic theology. Catholic theology has always recognized the unity of Will between the Father and Son. The cruelty suffered by the Son in obedience to the Father, was seen to be at the hands of men, and was not in any way seen as the Son subjecting himself to the cruelty of the Father. Rather, it was viewed as a true unity of wills between Father and Son necessary for the satisfaction of Justice in accord with the one divine nature of both Father and Son. What is unique here in the thought of Benedict is that this demand of Divine Justice has ceased to exist, and is replaced solely by an act of Divine Mercy which seeks to attract men. This attraction is, of course, an evolutionary process, devoid of any justification for judgment and condemnation.
This brings us to the second point which Benedict offers us in regard to a “new way” of understanding justification. At the beginning of the long paragraph in which he discusses this point, he simply begins by asking, “So why the cross and atonement?” After talking about the immense amount of cruelty and suffering present in the world, he offers the following answer:
“Above I quoted the theologian for whom God had to suffer for his sins in regard to the world [because of all the horrible things in the world, and in the face of the misery of being human – all of which ultimately depends on Him]. Now, due to this reversal of perspective, the following truths emerge: God simply cannot leave ‘as is’ the mass of evil that comes from the freedom that he himself has granted. Only He, coming to share in the world’s suffering, can redeem the world.”
Here we arrive at the crux of Benedict’s solution. The “reversal of perspective” which he sees as absolutely essential to modern man and the survival of his faith is to cease viewing man as being under compulsion to satisfy God’s Justice, but rather to view God as under compulsion to show man mercy. As he says elsewhere in his interview, “…the man of today has in a very general way the sense that God cannot let most of humanity be damned. In this sense, the concern for the personal salvation of souls typical of past times has for the most part disappeared.”
I would hope after reading Benedict’s words quoted above, that the sentiments expressed by my priest-correspondent should no long seem like a singular act of mental imbalance. And further, that the conclusion of this priests’ letter, taken from another author (whom he does not name), should not at all seem illogical, given the premises supposedly established by both the theologian Imbiorski and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. They are in fact only the logical conclusion of believing in a God Who Himself is under the compulsion to save those to whom he gave free will – a gift which they (apparently justifiably) were unable to handle. Here is that conclusion:
One day Hilda came to me crying because her son had tried to commit suicide for the fourth time. She told me that he was involved in prostitution, drug dealing and murder. She ended her list of her son’s “big sins” with, “What bothers me most is that my son says he wants nothing to do with God. What will happen to my son if he commits suicide without repenting and wanting nothing to do with God?”
Since at the time my image of God was like Good Old Uncle George [an earlier “parable” he had told in which God is depicted as Uncle George who likes to throw children into furnace if they do not visit him every week], I thought, “God will probably send your son to hell” But I didn’t want to tell Hilda that. I was glad that my many years of theological training had taught me what to do when I don’t know how to answer a difficult theological question; ask the other person, “What do you think?”
“Well,” Hilda responded, “I think that when you die, you appear before the judgment seat of God. If you have lived a good life, God will send you to heaven. If you have lived a bad life, God will send you to hell.” Sadly, she concluded, “Since my son has lived such a bad life, if he were to die without repenting, God would certainly send him to hell.”
Although I tended to agree with her, I didn’t want to say, “Right on, Hilda! Your son would probably be sent to hell.” I was again grateful for my theological training which taught me a second strategy: when you don’t know how to solve a theological problem, then let God solve it. So I said to Hilda, “Close your eyes. Imagine that you are sitting next to the judgment seat of God. Imagine also that your son has died with all these serious sins and without repenting. He has just arrived at the judgment seat of God. Squeeze my hand when you can imagine that.”
A few minutes later Hilda squeezed my hand. She described to me the entire judgment scene. Then I asked her, “Hilda how does your son feel?” Hilda answered, “My son feels so lonely and empty.” I asked Hilda what she would like to do. She said, “I want to throw my arms around my son.” She lifted her arms and began to cry as she imagined herself holding her son tightly.
Finally, when she stopped crying, I asked her to look into God’s eyes and watch what God wanted to do. God stepped down from the throne, and just as Hilda did, embraced Hilda’s son. And the three of them, Hilda, her son and God, cried together and held one another.
I was stunned. What Hilda taught me in those few minutes is the bottom line of healthy Christian spirituality. God loves us at least as much as the person who loves us the most.
I too grew up with an image of God as a stern judge, but am glad that as a Church we have come round to focusing more on God’s loving mercy, which also has a strong basis in Sacred Scripture.
What is important to realize here is that the “end of the story” arrived at in this account of Hilda and her son is simply the logical conclusion of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s two statements that “The conceptuality of St. Anselm has now become for us incomprehensible” …., and “In this sense, the concern for the personal salvation of souls typical of past times has for the most part disappeared.”
The “conceptuality of St. Anselm” (minus of all the blasphemous elements of cruelty attributed to it by the theologian Imbiorski, and Benedict) is of course the theology of St. Augustine, St. Thomas, all the great Saints and theologians, the Council of Trent, and Holy Scripture. Before proceeding any further, it is therefore necessary to offer a brief synopsis of this conceptuality and its absolute necessity to all Catholic thought and spirituality.
God created man in His own image with a very specific substantial nature. The form, or essence, of this nature is the human soul. From the beginning, God added to this human nature the supernatural gift of Charity (through the completely gratuitous gift of Sanctifying Grace), which is very simply defined by Holy Scripture and the Church as the supernatural grace of Friendship with God. At first, this might seem to us a rather dull definition. We tend to think of friendship as something less than love. This is not true of the friendship between God and man. St. Thomas writes:
Accordingly, since there is a communication between man and God, inasmuch as He communicates His happiness to us, some kind of friendship must needs be based on this same communication of which it is written (1 Cor. 1. 9): ‘God is faithful: by Whom you are called unto the fellowship of His Son’. The love which is based on this communication, is charity: wherefore it is evident that charity is the friendship of man for God.”
It is therefore in the Catholic teaching concerning Charity that all the truths concerning man’s true imaging and relationship to God are fulfilled. Conversely, it is in distortion and denial of this conceptuality that the entire Catholic faith is unraveled.
When man sinned against God, and violated this Friendship with God in the depth of his being, he lost the supernatural gift of Charity. Although he also certainly lost the preternatural gifts (such as the gift of immortality and the absence of concupiscence) which had accompanied Charity, he did not lose his basic human nature, or the form of his individual being – which is a particular soul created in the image of God. Man, therefore, still retained that same substantial nature to which supernatural Charity could once again be super-added (the term used by St. Thomas). The life, death, and resurrection of Our Lord merited for all men the possible restoration of Charity to their souls. This restoration is made a reality through baptism, and may again be restored (if lost by subsequent sin) through the confession of sins.
For all of the above to be perceived as being true, it is absolutely necessary that one philosophical truth be indeed accepted by the human heart and mind: there must be such a thing as a substantive human nature, common to all men of all times, and for which all men since the beginning of time are responsible before God. In other words, human nature has not substantially changed at all. Adam possessed the same human nature as does the child conceived in his mother’s womb at this very moment. Cultures – and all sorts of other things in man’s environment which accidentally affect his emotional, intellectual, and spiritual makeup – have changed, but human nature and its obligations before God has not changed.
It is all this that is denied in the philosophy and theology of such men as Jorge Bergoglio and Joseph Ratzinger (and, of course, that of my priest-correspondent) Having succumbed to reductive atomic and quantum science, the concept of substantial being (in the words of Joseph Ratzinger) “has become inaccessible to modern man”. According to this new, “scientific” philosophy, the nature of man can only be seen in term of evolving relationships. In the recurring phrase of Pope Francis, “time is greater than space” – in other words, man’s becoming is greater than his being. It is only logical, therefore, that spiritual evolution trumps fixed dogma and doctrine, and that everything must be subjected to a false mercy (which trumps both Truth and true Mercy), simply because there is no way to judge a human nature which is defined solely in terms of an evolutionary progression towards some future omega point.
All of this takes us back again to the Catholic concept of Charity. In traditional catholic theology, the possession of Charity defines a state of the human soul which is necessary in order for a person to be in friendship with God. If the human soul is now to be defined solely in terms of evolving relationships, there can be no such state. The concept of Charity must be “essentialized” in order to bring it into accord with a view which now sees the nature of man’s soul in evolutionary terms rather than that of substantial being. As Joseph Ratzinger wrote in his book Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life: “The challenge to traditional theology today lies in the negation of an autonomous, ‘substantial’ soul with a built-in immortality in favor of that positive view which regards God’s decision and activity as the real foundation of a continuing human existence.” (p.150). And further: ‘The soul’ is our term for that in us which offers a foothold for this relation [with the eternal]. Soul is nothing other than man’s capacity for relatedness with truth, with love eternal. (p.259).
In other words, “Charity” must be set in motion, and lose its doctrinal position as determiner of whether or not a person is alive in the friendship of God, or dead in sin. It is to be replaced by a heretical view of charity which views it as a totally unmerited gift of gradual and progressive activity of God in the soul of a man, which at no point in this progression is to be judged. In other words, when charity is seen as totally unmerited, there can ultimately be no justice, no judgment, no mortal sin, no absolute demand of either objective Truth (Faith) or Morals. There is only an endless mercy towards a mindless mush of indeterminacy.
And this leads us to the subject which I examined in the Introduction to this article.
The Radical Insufficiency of Correctio Filialis
The Council of Trent defines the Justification of man in the following words:
“For although no one can be just but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most hold Passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those that are justified and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in Whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these gifts infused at once, faith, hope and charity.
It is the supernatural gift of charity (through sanctifying grace) which is the only “place” where God and man are united in friendship. Faith can exist without charity, as can hope. But these can only exist as supernatural virtues if they are established in charity. And, on the other hand, charity necessarily includes not only faith (at least implicit) and hope, but also requires the avoidance of all mortal sin. Again, from the Council of Trent:
“In opposition also to the subtle wits of certain men, who, by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent, it is to be maintained, that the received grace of Justification is lost, not only by infidelity whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost; thus defending the doctrine of the divine law, which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelieving, but the faithful also (who are) fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liers with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins; from which, with the help of divine grace, they can refrain, and on account of which they are separated from the grace [Charity, or Sanctifying Grace] of Christ.” (Session VI, chapter XV).
It is the supernatural gift of Charity existing in the hearts of individual men and women through which Christ’s Incarnation continues to be present in His Mystical Body. It is a delicate and fragile thing because it requires the cooperation of fallen man. While being the totally gratuitous gift of God, it is also the most necessarily merited thing on the part of man. It is also therefore the ultimate target of Satan.
We must always remember that the Antichrist is precisely this: Anti-Christ. St. John writes, “And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.” Satan certainly knows that he cannot dissolve Jesus Christ Himself. Rather, his purpose in this world is to dissolve Jesus in the minds and hearts of men. Over the centuries, he has aimed at accomplishing this by depriving individuals of sanctifying grace and charity through particular heresies and mortal sin. He has been tremendously successful, but his final goal is not just the souls of individual men and women. Rather, he aims to bring the entire human “experiment’ crashing down to final failure. He is now directly targeting the only place in this world where man is ingrafted into Christ and becomes His friend: the supernatural gift of Charity. His aim is to radically change its meaning in the minds and hearts of all Catholics, by denying that its presence in the human soul must be merited through cooperation in both faith and works. It is this heresy which is very explicitly taught in paragraph 296 of Amoris Laetitia.
“The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous.”
I have examined this subject extensively in my four articles on Amoris Laetitia to be found towards the bottom of the Menu on the left side of this page.
Correctio Filialis quotes from 12 paragraphs of Amoris Laetitia in order to help establish the existence of 7 heresies which it claims are being propagated by Pope Francis. But it completely misses the heresy – “For true charity is always un-merited, unconditional – which is the foundation of not only all the explicit/implicit errors in Amoris Laetitia regarding marriage and the entire moral law, but also its apparent denial of Hell and eternal punishment. After all, if charity is always unmerited and unconditional, there can be no responsibility on the part of man, no demand upon the exercise of his free will, and therefore no just punishment for transgression.
Much of what is happening in regard to the present crisis, and in relation to the theology of such people as my priest-correspondent, Pope Francis, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has been compared to Luther. I myself have done so extensively. But it is important to realize that this theology goes one horrendous step further. Luther at least required faith in Christ for salvation. Hilda’s son, on the other hand, died while being in total rejection of God, and yet is embraced by Christ; Benedict’s God appears to be under the obligation of universal mercy, even to the point where, in his words, “the concern for the personal salvation of souls typical of past times has for the most part disappeared”; and Pope Francis has taught that “proselytization is a sin” and that atheists can be saved. This demonic theology is not just a matter of particular heresies in regard to sexuality, marriage, and the moral life in general. Rather, it is to be identified as a direct Satanic attack upon the substantiality of the entire Christian faith.
All this has been deemed necessary because of a cowardly subjection of the faith to reductive science, and the universal surrender of substantial being to evolutionary becoming. What awaits us at the Teilhardian omega point of this evolutionary journey is not the Christ Who judges us as to whether we have lived in His Charity, but the Antichrist who embraces us in our infidelity and sin. Teihard de Chardin wrote “It is Christ, in very truth, who saves, – but should we not immediately add that at the same time it is Christ who is saved by Evolution? (The Heart of Matter, p. 92). The “Christ of Evolution” is in fact the Antichrist of God’s Revelation.
It is clear from Correctio Filialis, and the superficiality of its analysis of Amoris Laetitia, that the world of traditional Catholic intelligentsia is incapable of making any real beginning of a solution to this enormous crisis. Our hope lies elsewhere.
Fatima: Our Hope
“Take and drink ye all of this, for this is the Chalice of My Blood, of the new and eternal testament: the mystery of faith: which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.”
Our hope lies in the many who have retained a depth of Catholic intelligence in their hearts and minds, and not in the world of a few contemporary Catholic intellectuals.
On October 7, 2017 (Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary), 13 days after Correctio Filialis was published on the website Rorate Caeli, a truly extraordinary event occurred in Poland. It is estimated that between 1,200,000 and 1,400,000 journeyed to the borders of their country – gathering in Churches, on highways, along the shores of the Baltic Sea, and even in boats on rivers – to pray the rosary for the conversion of Europe and the world. They were joined by uncountable numbers of others praying inland in their country. This event was promoted in order to honor the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917, and to fulfill Our Lady’s requests at Fatima.
Fatima is everything that the theology of such persons as my priest-correspondent, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis is not. It is Christianity of substance – of an infinitely loving and just God Who is much offended, of unchangeable and absolutely objective Revelation and Truth, of the reality of the substantial human soul created in God’s Image and responsible before God, of the necessity of repentance and conversion, of a Hell prepared for those who reject the demands of supernatural Charity, of the radical distinction between mortal and venial sin, of the necessity of prayer and reparation in order to stave off overwhelming chastisement for the sins of the world, and the absolute necessity for those who call themselves Catholics to fulfill their role in the work of Christ for the conversion and salvation of those immersed in the darkness of sin and unbelief.
All of this “substantial” Catholicity, still remaining in large numbers of Catholics in Poland, is a huge sign of contradiction not only to the modern world but also to a modern Church largely prostituted to reductive science, evolutionary spirituality, and the concupiscence of the world. It was not by accident that the event of October 7 was crowned with the title “Rosary to the Borders”. It was an act of Catholic militancy in defense of the life of Christ that remains in the Polish nation and the light of Christ that yet remains in the minds and hearts of the many individuals who responded to the requests of their spiritual Mother. It was a magnificent act of collective spiritual childhood – a “yes” to the absolutely substantial reality of both God and man.
It is here where our hope lies, and not in a largely superficial and disunited intelligentsia.
During the past thirty years, I have observed what might be called the traditional Catholic intelligentsia at work . It has been much like watching panicked chickens in a barnyard – running helter-skelter into often opposing directions, and sometimes even into the mouth of the fox. It began with Archbishop Lefebvre consecrating four bishops expressly against a papal mandate not to do so, thus violating the Divine Constitution of the Church at that point where apostolic succession is perpetuated, and also heretically denying Vatican I’s dogmatic teaching concerning the Papal Primacy of Jurisdiction. It then moved on to all sorts of sedevacantism in opposition to Lefebvre’s position. With the Papacy of Francis, this disorientation has graduated to many new forms of intellectual fantasy, such as the following: Francis is already automatically excommunicated and therefore deposed; Francis can be deposed by the College of Cardinals; Francis has to be deposed by a General Council; Benedict never really validly resigned; there is a Papal Diarchy in which Benedict only gave over the administrative function of the Church to Francis, and actually still retains the spiritual office of the Papacy. The notion, proposed by the website Rorate Caeli and others, that it might be possible to bring all these metaphorical “chickens” into some sort of unity in order to effect a “canonical solution” is delusional. And finally, let us bring back into this equation all the liberal Cardinals and Bishops. Do we tell them that they simply cannot participate in a “canonical solution” to a crisis that they do not even recognize?
We need also add that during all of this period of terrible crisis in the Church, there has reigned an almost impenetrable blindness to the fact that, especially through his voluminous writings, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has been the most prominent architect of the philosophy and theology which Francis, my priest-correspondent, many bishops, and innumerable numbers of the faithful are now carrying out to a logical conclusion.
The fact is that we are faced with only two solutions to the present chaos – the same two solutions offered by Our Lady 100 years ago: God’s chastisement, or fulfilling Our Lady’s requests. There has been much ink spent in discussing Fatima over recent decades: debate over whether the Collegial Consecration has been made, debate over the Third Secret, petitions to the Holy Father, voluminous examinations of the deceptions, betrayals, obfuscations, and falsifications of the Fatima message, desecration of the Shrine, etc. But the heart of the Fatima message is not what they have done, but what we must do. How many traditional Catholics, for instance, have recently fulfilled Our Lady’s request for the First Five Saturdays? How many faithfully pray the Rosary daily with real intent and charity that Jesus may lead all souls to Heaven, “especially those most in need of Thy Divine Mercy”? How many come anywhere close to avoiding all those fashions and near occasions to sin (especially in relation to forms of entertainment) which so horrified little Jacinta after she had seen Our Lady?
I suggest that the reader pick up the simplest book detailing the events at Fatima, very carefully read the instructions and requests of the Angel and Our Lady, and the responses of the children. And then truly examine his or her conscience in regard to these requests.
I know that I personally do not come out very well in such an examination. For this reason, and others, I intend this to be my last article, and work harder in order to follow the way of Our Lady, who said that her Immaculate Heart would be our refuge and the way that leads us to God.
I intend to leave intact my writings on my website, and hopefully it will be maintained by those who follow after my death. I can write no more. Such a statement is of course reminiscent of St. Thomas words at the end of his life to the effect that all his writings appeared to him “as straw” and that he could write no more. Thomas’ words appeared to follow some sort of mystical experience. I claim no such vision. But I do claim to have been faithful to the mind of St. Thomas himself. I cannot count the number of times that individuals, who wish to detract from the centrality of Thomas’s philosophy and theology to the Church, have quoted to me the “as straw” words of Thomas. Of course, any profound mystical experience is bound to make all discursive thought seem “as straw”. But it is “straw” that has saved many a babe from a cold death (and possibly even the Baby Jesus), and it is the “straw” of Thomas’ philosophy (especially his metaphysics) and theology which holds together the mortar of God’s Truth in the face of the howling, destructive force of modern reductive science and evolutionary theory.
Finally, I wish to offer a rather peculiar observation. There have appeared many pictures on the web of people praying the rosary during the Rosary to the Borders event in Poland. Even though I did read in one article that there were many young people who participated, what I see almost exclusively in these pictures would seem to indicate otherwise. It is often said that the future of the Church belongs to the young. Our Lord tells us that unless we become as “one of these” (little children), we shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But it may indeed be the case these days that we cannot equate “the young” with “little children” or with spiritual childhood. What I see, at least in this country, among so many young Catholics is largely a matter of a puerile faith and amalgamation to pop culture. On the other hand, what I saw in these pictures from Poland on the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is spiritual childhood written in the hard lines of the faces of the old who have suffered for what remains. I pray that it is enough, and that it will spread its wings in all of us, and especially in our children.
– James Larson