It must, however, be
confessed that these latter days have witnessed a notable
increase in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ,
who, by arts entirely new and full of deceit, are
striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as
far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very kingdom of Christ.
often represented excesses which were the direct opposite of
one another. Any notion, for instance, that Arianism (which
denied the divinity of Christ) could be synthesized with
Monophysitism (which emphasized the divinity of Christ to the point
of denying His humanity) would have seemed absurd, and as
constituting something impossible to human thought or
conviction. Yet, such opposing ideas and statements, as noted
by Pius X, are often to be found in Modernist writings and statements,
even to the point of espousing both the orthodox and
heterodox view on the same issue.
It might be concluded
that such duplicity on the part of Modernists is simply a
matter of calculated and sinister deceit. However, while such
may often be the case, I believe that there are here
involved "arts entirely new" which both necessitate and facilitate
such deceits. It is these arts which now entrap much of the
thinking and practice of the Church, including a great many
who appear to be of good will towards Christ and His Church.
It will be the purpose of this article to explore these
errors, especially in the writings of their most powerful exponent Henri
The Lubacian Principle of Paradox
"In short, to
maintain and defend these theories they do not hesitate to
declare that the noblest homage that can be paid to the
Infinite is to make it the object of contradictory statements!
But when they justify even contradictions, what is it that they will
refuse to justify?" [Pascendi, #36]
With any particular
heresy of the past we encounter the denial of one or more
specific doctrines of the faith. Generally speaking, however,
we are dealing with people who still acknowledged the
integrity and non-self-contradictory nature of truth itself.
Modernism, however, being the synthesis of
all heresies, necessarily requires the violation of this principle of
non-contradiction. And it is Henri de Lubac who "formalized" a
particular philosophy to enshrine and justify the principle
of self-contradiction into theology. The fundamental means
which he employs to disguise and "sanctify" such an
aberration is the concept of "paradox."
We must realize, however, that de Lubac’s first distortion is of the word "paradox" itself.
The commonly accepted definition of paradox is that it is the holding of two truths which appear to be contradictory. The contradiction, we must emphasize strongly, is in appearance only.
The Bible contains many
paradoxes. The proper use of paradox can be a very effective
tool for imparting truth. Our Lord, for instance, teaches, "For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it." [Luke 9:24]
A small child reading this passage might indeed be very confused by the
apparent contradiction; but the mature Christian,
understanding the concepts and realities involved, sees
no contradiction at all in this statement.
Virtually wherever one
goes in the works of de Lubac one encounters his use of
paradox. Ignatius Press offers two books (Paradoxes of Faith and More Paradoxes)
particularly dedicated by de Lubac to this subject. Often,
of course, his use of paradox is acceptable. But this is why
the extensive use of paradox becomes such a dangerous tool in
the hands of an unorthodox writer. A plethora of apparent contradiction
becomes the camouflage for real contradiction, and a very
powerful literary technique becomes an effective means of
assimilating error into the minds and hearts of even the most
In the case of de Lubac
these errors penetrate to the very heart of our faith. In
essence they represent "arts entirely new" which have enabled
Modernism to penetrate into the life of the Church with an
effectiveness and an all-pervasiveness which was not possible
under the earlier and more blatant forms of this heresy.
We must first understand
that in the system of de Lubac, paradox is not just a
literary technique, but the very "stuff" of reality:
For paradox exists
everywhere in reality, before existing in thought. It is
everywhere in permanence….Parodoxes: the word specifies,
above all, then, things themselves, not the way of saying
them….Oppositions in thought express the contradiction which is the very
stuff of creation. [Parodoxes of Faith. pp.10-11]
All this, of course,
makes the real "stuff" of reality exist outside the laws of
logic, and outside of what St. Thomas and the Church have
always taught are the absolutely "first principles of being":
the Principle of Contradiction, the Principle of Identity
and Difference, and the Principle of the Excluded Middle:
Paradoxes are paradoxical: they make sport of the usual and reasonable rule of not being allowed to be against as well as for. Yet, unlike dialectics, they do not involve the clever turning of for into against. Neither
are they only a conditioning of the one by the other. They
are the simultaneity of the one and the other. They are even
something more - lacking which, moreover, they would only be
vulgar contradiction [which is exactly, as we shall see, what they often are in the hands of de Lubac]. They do not sin against logic, whose laws remain inviolable: but they escape its domain. They are the for fed by the against, the against going so far as to identify itself with the for. [Ibid. pp. 11-12]
Lubacian "Paradox", in
other words, is simple Orwellian "Newspeak" grafted onto the
disciplines of Philosophy and Theology. In de Lubac’s
theology it is all-pervasive:
And it is a question, at
least, whether all substantial spiritual doctrine must not
of necessity take a paradoxical form. [Ibid. p.13]
Finally, before entering
into particular errors, we should note that it is this
"principle of paradox" which makes possible the Modernist
substitution of "becoming" for the fundamental
Aristotelian-Thomistic concept of Being, and the substitution of the
notion of evolving truth for the Catholic concept of truth as
a divine deposit which is to be embraced, cherished, and
defended. Thus, we have the following from the pen of de
Paradoxical in its
substance, spiritual truth is also paradoxical in its rhythm.
When we discover it and hold it in our hands we do not have
time to bring our first look of satisfaction to rest upon it
before it has already fled. The eternal story of the Pharisee
starts afresh in each of us. To get hold of this elusive truth again,
we should perhaps seek it in its opposite, for it has changed
its sign. But often we prefer to hug its rotten corpse. And
we go rotten with it. [Ibid. p.14]
Clearly, from his perspective, the Catholic Traditionalist is a "rotten corpse."
The de Lubac–von Balthasar Christ
"Remember, after all,
that the Gospel is full of paradoxes, that man is himself a
living paradox, and that according to the Fathers of the
Church, the Incarnation is the supreme Paradox." [Paradoxes of the Faith, p.81. Emphasis mine.]
As Catholics, we do not
deny that there are profoundly paradoxical elements in the
Incarnation of Christ. Infinite God becomes finite man. Such
an Infinite Love and Being is virtually incomprehensible to
us, and so we are rightly left with a sense of paradox. In this case,
paradox is food for our humility.
This love which is
incomprehensible to us, however, is not incomprehensible to
God. It is Who He is (without this implying any necessity on
the part of God’s in regard to His creatures in general, or
the Incarnation in particular). There is, in other words, no
paradox in God. There is, therefore, no Paradox in Jesus Christ Himself,
or in the Incarnation per se.
Henri de Lubac did not
agree. Nor did von Balthasar. At this point, it is important
to note the connection between these two "Fathers" of the New
It is de Lubac who
introduced the principle of self-contradiction into the very
heart of truth. For him, paradox is the very "stuff" of
creation, and "the Incarnation is the supreme Paradox." It is
von Balthasar, however, who is the great popularizer of this
method of thinking which has become the primary source of confusion
in Catholic philosophy and theology.
In a section titled "The Heightened Paradox", in his book Truth is Symphonic: Aspects of Christian Pluralism (pp.38-40), von Balthasar writes:
Now the final word
[concerning the meaning and effectiveness of the Incarnation]
is not revelation and precept but participation, communio.
And that in turn, beyond word and deed, implies suffering. It means occupying the place of total and universal closedness, that is, God-forsakenness. God’s
Word in Jesus Christ wishes to die with us in this
God-forsakenness and descend with us into eternal
banishment from God.
Luther’s dictum, that at this point revelation "latet sub contrario"
(lies hidden in its opposite) is not too strong, provided it
means no more than it formally says. Jesus is in fact the
Lord who empties himself, taking the form of a slave. He is
the Son, defined by his ultimate intimacy with the Father, but he dies in complete estrangement.
...We must note, however, that in the formula latet sub contrario both aspects (the attribute and its opposite, the proposition and what contradicts it) have the same subject.
…on the Cross itself, he [Christ] experiences this forsakenness so deeply, for the sake of sinners, that he no longer feels or knows anything of the Father’s presence. His relationship with the Father is indestructible, he says, ‘My God’ - but this God is hidden sub contrario.
Indeed, the very profundity of his forsakenness is the sign
of him who so profoundly conceals himself. Since the subject, God’s Son
- in this case identical with his abiding connaturality with
the Father-God - holds on so tenaciously through the contrary
modes of experience, it is superfluous to go against
all the evidence of the text and ascribe particular
attributes of his first state (that is, the beatific vision of the
Father) to him in his second state. His forsakenness
affects his entire relationship with the Father.
All this is a denial of
the very essence of Christianity - a denial of the hypostatic
union, and the absolutely central Christian dogma that the
human soul of Jesus is united with the Nature of God in the
One Divine Person Jesus Christ. The human soul of Jesus uninterruptedly
possessed the beatific vision throughout His conception,
birth, life, and death. St. Thomas writes:
On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orthod. iii): Christ’s Godhead permitted
His flesh to do and to suffer what was proper to it. In
like fashion, since it belonged to Christ’s soul, inasmuch
as it was blessed, to enjoy fruition [the beatific vision], His Passion did not impede fruition." [ST, III, Q.46, A.8]
of the beatific vision is, in other words, absolutely
integral to the doctrine of the hypostatic union. To say that
Christ died in "God-forsakenness", "eternal banishment from
God", "complete estrangement", and "universal closedness"
does not express "paradox", but rather total self-contradiction
Aggiornamento, Ecumenism and the New Mass
At this point I would
imagine that many readers are experiencing a good deal of
puzzlement and irritation. Why should anyone want to do what
de Lubac and von Balthasar have done to Christ and to His
Truth? The following passages from the same work of von Balthasar
will give us the answer to this question:
All the same, since it
is a question of encompassing the world in all its profanity -
for its relation to God has been profaned - there can be no
stopping halfway once the path of "concealment in the
opposite" has been taken up. It must be followed to the very end:
‘He descended into hell’ (p.40-41) [it is abundantly clear that
von Balthasar is not here speaking of the place of those
deceased righteous awaiting the redemptive act of Christ,
but rather of Hell itself].
If this is the case,
then all the organs or gestures of the divine Word in the
world must necessarily share in this communion on the part of
God with the sinful world, must share in this process of
dying and descending into the concealing opposite and rising
again on the far side…. So it would be wrong to think that the Church
had some kind of immortal framework exempt from destiny
(often referred to nowadays pejoratively as "institution")
that, while it is inhabited and represented by vulnerable
human beings with their changing roles, is somehow timeless….
What applies to office in the Church also applies to the sacraments, to
preaching, and to theology. It applies to the Bible just as
much as to the Church’s tradition. [pp.41-42]
Thus, Church will suffer
the loss of its shape as it undergoes a death, and all the
more so, the more purely it lives from its source and is
consequently less concerned with preserving its shape. In
fact, it will not concern itself with affirming its shape but
with promoting the world’s salvation; as for the shape in which God
will raise it from its death to serve the world afresh, it
will entrust it to the Holy Spirit. We have already observed
that nothing in the Church is exempt from death and destiny;
there is no ‘structure’ existing independently of the event
of Christ. [p.96]
If the Church must die
and "descend into its concealing opposite", and then "rise
again" on the other side of this experience, and if the
Church has no "immortal framework", and consequently must
"suffer the loss of its shape" in this death and rising, then
we have every right to expect that the new shape (which, according
to von Balthasar, includes a "new shape" for the Bible, the
sacraments, preaching, and theology) will incorporate
elements of all the things into which the Church descends -
elements, for instance, of Lutheranism, Hinduism, Islam,
Buddhism, atheism, and possibly even Satanism.
Thus, we have the
theological justification for aggiornamento and ecumenism,
accompanied by that spirituality which necessitates the
"turning towards the world" which constitutes the form of the
In his analysis of the
roots of Modernism, Pope Pius X distinguished between two
principles, one negative and the other positive.
The negative principle is agnosticism, which is constituted by the following:
According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that
is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which
they appear: it has neither the right nor the power to
overstep these limits. [Pascendi, #6]
Such agnosticism is
the direct result of the intimidating nature of reductive
science, and the war against being and substance which it has
conducted for centuries.
Through this principle
everything which is "absolute" in our faith is dissolved of
its solidity - such things as dogma and the Deposit of Faith,
the Church, the nature of the sacraments, the uncreated
Nature of God, the created nature of man, the historical Person
of Jesus Christ, the reliability of the Bible.
All these things which
were once considered unchangeable truth fixed in objective
reality, now must somehow be transformed so that they can be
reborn in a subjective realm safe from the ravages of
is accomplished by the second principle (the "positive"
principle) of Modernism, which is called vital immanence.
Since, for the
Modernist, the path to rational, objective truths has been
closed by reductive science, truth must now be looked for in
the interior of man. Pius X offers a succinct explanation of
this principle of vital immanence as the fundamental tenet of Modernism:
Therefore, as God is the
object of religion, we must conclude that faith, which is
the basis and foundation of all religion, must consist in a
certain interior sense, originating in a need of the divine. This
need of the divine, which is experienced only in special and
favourable circumstances, cannot of itself appertain to the
domain of consciousness, but is first latent beneath consciousness… this
sense possesses, implied within itself both as its own
object and as its intrinsic cause, the divine reality itself, and in a way unites man with God. It
is this sense to which Modernists give the name of faith, and this
is what they hold to be the beginning of religion. [Pascendi, #7]
In a virtual mirror-image of Pius X’s definition of vital immanence, Henri de Lubac writes:
…the idea of God is
mysteriously present in us from the beginning, prior to our
concepts, although beyond our grasp without their help, and
prior to all our argumentation, in spite of being logically
unjustifiable without them; it is the inspiration, the motive
power and justification of them all….
In its primary and
permanent state the idea of God is not, then, a product of
the intelligence. It is not a concept. It is a reality: the
very soul of the soul; a spiritual image of the Divinity, an
‘eikon’. [The Discovery of God, pp.42-44]
Here we have the essentials of vital immanence:
some sort of divine reality present in the soul of man which
is previous to consciousness, and is integral to his created human
Initially, it may seem
difficult to understand why this is such a grievous error,
and possibly even more difficult to understand how the entire
Modernist edifice can be built upon this small seed. And yet
such is the case. Pius X further writes:
In the religious sense one must recognize a kind of intuition of the heart which puts man in immediate contact with the reality of God….It is this experience
which makes the person who acquires it to be properly and
truly a believer…. Here it is well to note at once that,
given this doctrine of experience united with that of symbolism, every religion, even that of paganism, must be held to be true. [Pascendi, #14]
Upon careful reflection,
we can understand why this is so. If our path to objective,
absolutely certain truth is cut off by the principle of
agnosticism (we must remember that the principle of
agnosticism does not mean that we cannot know or believe anything, but only that we cannot know or believe with objective certainty),
then truth has become a matter of subjective experience, and
subject to the "religious evolution" which grows out of that
Thus, von Balthasar
could write: "There is therefore no cause for dismay in the
idea that the truth of revelation, which was originally cast
in Hellenistic concepts by the great Councils, could equally
be recast in Indian or Chinese concepts." [Truth is Symphonic: Aspects of Christian Pluralism, p. 56]
One can only wonder if
it ever occurred to de Lubac or von Balthasar to question why
the Church never recast the "truth of revelation" into
Nordic mythology, Druidic belief and practices, or possibly
the Aztec concept of a god who demands human sacrifice.
A Gift Defiled: Nature and Grace in Henri de Lubac
As the reader may have ascertained, the principle of vital immanence
also necessarily dissolves religious faith into some form of
pantheism. The moment we admit into created human nature
anything of the "divine reality" which is not there as a grace "added"
to human nature, we have destroyed the absolute distinction
that must be made between God and His creation, between the
supernatural and the natural.
De Lubac detested the
idea of grace as being something "merely added" to human
nature. And since from the standpoint of "non-contradiction"
it is impossible to maintain the truth concerning the
gratuitousness of God’s grace in regards to human nature
without the Thomistic notion of grace as "superadded" to nature, de
Lubac finds it necessary again to invoke his principle of
"paradox." As David Schindler writes in the Introduction to
de Lubac’s Mystery of the Supernatural:
De Lubac sees it necessary to insist on the simultaneity - and hence just so far the paradox
- of the two elements of the twin claim implied here: on the
one hand, a gratuity of grace distinct from and
unanticipated (but not merely ‘super-added’ to) human nature;
on the other hand, a human nature always already called to a
divine vocation in Jesus Christ, and hence just so far imbedded from
the outset in a supernatural order (p. xxvi).
De Lubac, in other
words, wishes to be able to assert the traditional teaching
concerning the gratuity of God’s gift of supernatural life,
while at the same time also affirming its opposite.
St. Thomas, on the other
hand, often teaches the truth that grace must be understood
as something which is added or superadded to human nature. He
things the human intellect cannot know, unless it be
perfected by a stronger light, viz. the light of faith or
prophecy which is called the light of grace, inasmuch as it
is added to nature. ST, I-II, Q.109,A.1
It is this profound and
absolutely necessary distinction between the life of God and
human nature which such persons as de Lubac and von Balthasar
(and also Eastern Orthodox theology) attempt to erase. And
it is the teaching of St. Thomas, the primary bulwark against error
in this area of Catholic doctrine, that they must demolish or
For de Lubac, it is a
matter of perversion. No single subject occupies more space
in his writings than the relationship between nature and
grace. And throughout these writings, he attempts to subvert
the words of St. Thomas to his own particular heresy.
These subversions rest
upon one extraordinarily pathetic error in regard to the
thought of St. Thomas. De Lubac attempts to make Thomas say
that there exists in human nature, before consciousness, an
innate desire for God. In fact, St Thomas teaches just the opposite:
On the contrary, the human soul is naturally like a blank tablet on which nothing is written, as the Philosopher says (De Anima iii,4
). But the nature of the soul is the same now as it would
have been in the state of innocence. Therefore the souls of
children would have been without knowledge at birth.[ST, I, Q.101,
At the same time, St.
Thomas rightly speaks of a knowledge, love, and desire of God
which are the natural response of the human mind in its
encounter with the world. Thus, the "light" of the human
mind, created in the image of God, is structured in such a way
as not only to be able to reason to the existence of God from such
things as the existence of intelligent design and causation
in the world; but it is also "naturally" led to love this
God, and to naturally desire to see and know His essence.
Nor does all this
knowledge, love, and desire of God necessarily have to be the
conscious, reasoned process of the philosopher. We may also
rightly speak of a sort of natural, intuitive apprehension of
the existence and Being of God from the average person’s encounter with
the created world.
All this is simply in keeping with St. Paul’s statement in Romans 1:20: "For
the invisible things of him, from the creation of the
world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things
that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity…"
St Paul even goes so far
as to say that the existence and nature of God is so
overwhelmingly evident from the human mind’s encounter with
creation that for man not to acknowledge His reality and
presence is "inexcusable." St. Thomas writes: "all knowers
know God implicitly in all they know." [De Veritate, Q. 22, a.2]
What is absolutely
essential to keep in mind, however, is that all of this
"natural" knowledge, love, and desire of God is not present
except through the encounter of man’s mind with the world,
and through his senses. It is, in other words, natural, but not innate.
De Lubac, and proponents
of the "New Theology" in general, simply do not understand
"the God of scholastic theology."
To them, the God of St.
Thomas and the traditional Church is not sufficiently
"vitally immanent." The God Who created us in His own Image,
and sustains us every second of our lives with this same
creative action; the God Who died for our sins and for our
eternal salvation, and draws us into His very own life through baptism
and the other sacraments; the God Who gives His Own Son in
Holy Communion, Who insures that we are in possession of
infallible truth through His Church, and promises His
faithful the Gift of the Beatific Vision - this God, and this faith, are
too sterile, absolute, and pharisaical for them.
The problem for these
people seems to be that all that constitutes the traditional
Catholic concept of grace and supernatural life is considered
as Gift, and not something that is their own by right, or by
They choose to barter
the Infinite Gift of God for the paltry personal possession
of an ounce of supernatural life which is somehow independent
of this Gift. It is almost unbelievable foolishness; but
even more, it amounts to infinite ingratitude.
What we may be sure of
is the enormously destructive consequences of their effort.
Again, we have the wisdom of Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi [#34]:
overbearance of those who teach these errors, and the
thoughtless compliance of the more shallow minds who assent
to them, create a corrupted atmosphere which penetrates
everywhere, and carries infection with it.
It has penetrated everywhere. It penetrated to the heart of Fr. Joseph Ratzinger when he said that the survival of
Catholicism depended on it being freed from the "constraining
fetters of Roman Scholastic Theology." We are now experiencing that
freedom - the very freedom which has virtually destroyed the
faith of Catholic Europe and much of the rest of the world.
It is this atmosphere, created by Modernist philosophy
and theology in response to reductive secular science, which
must be combated as the primary source of decay in the Church.
We must pray that Pope
Benedict XVI receives the grace to engage in this contest. It
is a battle which, to a large extent, must be waged against
his own past: "The fact is," he wrote in his Principles of Catholic Theology, "as Hans Urs von Balthasar pointed out as early as 1952, that the ‘demolition of the bastions’ is a long-overdue task."
The Holy Father’s
sweeping agenda for the Church, set out in his speech to the
Roman curia on 22 December 2005, can only be properly
understood and analysed in the light of that alarming statement
of intent and all its disturbing implications. For whatever his view
of the de Lubac-von Balthasar ‘paradox agenda’ may be, the
"New Theology" has provided Pope Benedict with his own
particular means to achieve the same "demolition."
of the Church St. Francis de Sales totally confirmed beyond any doubt
the possibility of a heretical pope and what must be done by the Church
in such a situation:
"[T]he Pope... WHEN he is EXPLICITLY a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church MUST either deprive him, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See."
(The Catholic Controversy, by St. Francis de Sales, Pages 305-306)
Saint Robert Bellarmine, also, said "the Pope heretic is not deposed ipso facto, but must be declared deposed by the Church."
- "If Francis is a Heretic, What should Canonically happen to him?": http://www.thecatholicmonitor.com/2020/12/if-francis-is-heretic-what-should.html
- "Could Francis be a Antipope even though the Majority of Cardinals claim he is Pope?": http://www.thecatholicmonitor.com/2019/03/could-francis-be-antipope-even-though.html
- LifeSiteNews, "Confusion explodes as Pope Francis throws magisterial
weight behind communion for adulterers," December 4, 2017:
The AAS guidelines explicitly allows "sexually active adulterous couples
facing 'complex circumstances' to 'access the sacraments of
Reconciliation and the Eucharist.'"
- On February 2018, in Rorate Caeli, Catholic theologian Dr. John Lamont:
"The AAS statement... establishes that Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia
has affirmed propositions that are heretical in the strict sense."
- On December 2, 2017, Bishop Rene Gracida:
"Francis' heterodoxy is now official. He has published his letter to the
Argentina bishops in Acta Apostlica Series making those letters
Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church by the bishops by the grace of God.
- Intel Cryptanalyst-Mathematician on
Biden Steal: "212Million Registered Voters & 66.2% Voting,140.344 M
Voted...Trump got 74 M, that leaves only 66.344 M for Biden" [http://catholicmonitor.blogspot.com/2020/12/intel-cryptanalyst-mathematician-on.html?m=1]
- Will US be Venezuela?: Ex-CIA
Official told Epoch Times "Chávez started to Focus on [Smartmatic]
Voting Machines to Ensure Victory as early as 2003": http://catholicmonitor.blogspot.com/2020/12/will-us-be-venezuela-ex-cia-official.html
Pray an Our Father now for the grace to know God's Will and to do it.
What he means by this, however, is that "everything around us is life." If that doesn't smack of the panentheism of which you speak, nothing does.
Let us not overlook, however, the fact that Pius XII was the Pope who had to contend with the anti-life excesses associated with the Second World War. De Lubac himself, in other words, may have been more of a symptom than a cause. Where did his conflation of nature and grace, and the subsequent deification of "Nature" as an entity and end in and of itself, come from in the first place? From compromise with the spirit of his age. From the worldview of a man who called Nature his "cruel Queen." In short, straight from the pages of Mein Kampf itself.
In Laudato Si and its aftereffects, then, we are not dealing with indigenous paganism as much as very modern errors that come from Germamy in more ways than one.