Conciliar Confusion, Catholic Zeal For Souls
Thomas A. Droleskey
As noted in today's other article, Surely He Jests, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap., a charter member of the "Catholic" "charismatic renewal," has gotten himself into what the late Joe Higgins, the actor who played the "Dodge Sheriff" commercials of the early-1970s, "a whole heap of trouble" by claiming in his Good Friday "homily" at the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican that the criticism of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI for his handling of the scandals caused by perverted clergymen in the conciliar structures was the equivalent of "anti-Semitism." This has has some adherents of the Talmud howling. This has some conciliarists, especially "papal" spokesflack Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., running for cover as they seek to do "damage control" over the "offense" that the "papal" preacher has given to the conciliar church's "senior partner" in "ecumenical dialogue" with non-Christians.
Father Lombardi's efforts to do damage control in the wake of the Father Raniero Cantalamessa's "homily" are made more difficult by the fact that an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, is reporting, without citing sources, that some in "Catholic circles" are blaming the bad press that Ratzinger/Benedict and his "bishops" have been getting lately on the "Jewish lobby" in New York:
Father Cantalamessa’s remarks come after weeks of intense scrutiny of Benedict, which some in the Italian news media have seen in conspiratorial terms. Last week, the center-left daily newspaper La Repubblica wrote, without attribution, that “certain Catholic circles” believed the criticism of the church stemmed from “a New York ‘Jewish lobby.” (At Vatican Service, Persecution of Jews Is Invoked.)
Although the story in La Repubblica did not cite any sources, it is not beyond the realm of plausibility that some in the conciliar Vatican, especially those who grit their teeth at the false pontiff's obsequiousness, at least on most occasions, with the ancient enemies of Christ the King who adhere to the diabolical Talmud have privately expressed such sentiments. The promoter of the cause for the "canonization" of Pope Pius XII in the conciliar structures, Father Peter Gumpel, S.J., has from time to time expressed very publicly his consternation with Talmudic pressure being brought to bear against our last true pope's beatification and canonization processes in the conciliar church, doing so very in 2008
Gumpel said that Benedict "would like to go to Israel as soon as possible" but cannot do so until a caption to a picture of Pius XII, accusing him of remaining silent, in the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, had been removed.
The caption was "an obvious falsification of history," Gumpel said.
As long as the caption remained, a trip to Israel by the pontiff would be "a scandal for Catholics," he said.
"The Catholic church does what it can to have good relations with Israel but friendly relations can only be built on reciprocity," he said.
"We see that the pope with a great sense of hospitality invited a rabbi to our (recent) synod and he abused our kindness by attacking on three occasions Pius XII," said Gumpel.
"Of course the rabbi can say what he wants but if he is our guest and he talks like that he doesn't help improve our relations.
(Ratzinger holds off Pius XII beatification)
Then there was the time back in 1999 when Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as the spokesman and spin-doctor for Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II from 1984 to the latter's death on April 1 (or 2?), 2005, continuing to serve as the director of the Press Office of the Holy See until July 11, 2006, let his own Spanish Catholic hair down a bit when he was interviewed in The New York Times about a conciliar priest who had gotten caught up in a major insurance scandal in the State of Connecticut:
Mr. Navarro-Valls described Monsignor Colagiovanni, who as president of Monitor Ecclesiasticus edits a Vatican-approved canonical law quarterly and also runs its charitable arm, as a ''pensioner.'' Mr. Navarro-Valls said he knew nothing about Father Jacobs, but volunteered that he was an ''ex-Jew.''
Bishop Salerno also pointed out Father Jacobs's Jewish roots after the scandal surfaced. Surprisingly, neither he nor Mr. Navarro-Valls nor others mentioned the fact that Father Jacobs was formally rebuked by the Roman Catholic Church in 1983, after he ignored an archbishop's order to cease operating his New York restaurant, The Palantine. Father Jacobs's right to perform priestly duties was suspended at that time because he violated church rules about business transactions How 2 Priests Got Mixed Up In a Huge Insurance Scandal
Not very "ecumenical" of Dr. Navarro-Valls to "volunteer" that one of the priests involved in the insurance scandal, Father Peter Jacobs, was an "ex-Jew," now was it?
Ah, confusion and contradiction reign supreme in the counterfeit church of conciliarism. For it was the same Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, a medical doctor and a psychiatrist, who jumped through hoops to justify the Pontifical Biblical Commission's The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (May 24, 2001), that a Jewish reading of the Bible was a "possible" one:
The new document also says Catholics must regard the Old Testament as ''retaining all of its value, not just as literature, but its moral value,'' said Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the pope's spokesman. ''You cannot say, 'Now that Jesus has come, it becomes a second-rate document.' ''
''The expectancy of the Messiah was in the Old Testament,'' he went on, ''and if the Old Testament keeps its value, then it keeps that as a value, too. It says you cannot just say all the Jews are wrong and we are right.''
Asked whether that could be taken to mean that the Messiah may or may not have come, Dr. Navarro-Valls said no. ''It means it would be wrong for a Catholic to wait for the Messiah, but not for a Jew,'' he said.
The document, the result of years of work by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, goes on to apologize for the fact that certain New Testament passages that criticize the Pharisees, for example, had been used to justify anti-Semitism.
Everything in the report is now considered part of official church doctrine, Dr. Navarro-Valls said. (Vatican Says Jews' Wait for Messiah Is Validated by the Old Testament.)
Ah, yes, no matter what private--and the very rare public--grumblings that the conciliarists have about their partners in ecumenical crime must give way when "official" documents are issued. The ecumenical show must, of course, go on. Never mind the fact that most Catholics graduating from schools in conciliar captivity know nothing about the Faith. Oh, no, everything must be sacrificed in behalf of maintaining the ecumenical "momentum," which leads, it should be pointed out, to only one place: Hell itself.
There are some interesting points to be point about the new controversy engendered by Father Cantalamessa's remark about "anti-Semitism" in his Good Friday homily and the belief that some in the conciliar Vatican might hold that the bad press the false "pontiff" is receiving is the work of "Jewish lobby" in the City of New York.
First, as noted in Surely He Jests, Cantalamessa's invocation of "anti-Semitism" to refer to the criticism of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and his fellow conciliar "bishops" once again gives credence to the lie that Christian hatred of adherents of the Talmud is one of the greatest crimes imaginable. While Catholics are called to love all men in that we will their eternal good and seek to cause physical or moral violence to no innocent human being, Catholics are indeed meant to be "anti-Jewish," meaning that we are meant to oppose the Talmudic religion as we seek by our prayers and good works to plant the seeds for the conversion of Jews, whose conversion is near and dear to Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the true Church, outside of which there is no salvation and without which there can be no true social order. It is not to be "anti-Semitic" to oppose the work of those who deny the Sacred Divinity of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Social Kingship over men and their nations to persecute the Faith and drive Catholics into silence about It in their public lives as they promote one social evil after another under cover of the civil law and in the midst of popular culture.
Father Denis Fahey made this important distinction, stressing the fact that it is not "anti-Semitic" to oppose the Talmudic warfare against Christ the King, which includes in our own day, of course, exerting pressure on the lords of the counterfeit church of conciliarism to eradicate any vestige of authentic Catholic teaching concerning the truth that the New and Eternal Covenant instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper and ratified by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross has superseded the Old Covenant once and for all:
On the one hand, the Church condemns race hatred in general and hatred of the Redeemer’s race in particular. On the other hand, the Church insists, as we have seen, on the duty of combating naturalism in public and private life and approves of love of native land and extols true supernatural patriotism. We have the right and the duty to defend our country and our nation against the unjust aggression of another nation. This duty is still more strongly urged upon us when it is a question of our country’s fidelity to Christ the King. We must, therefore, combat naturalism in general always and everywhere, and we must be vigilant in regard to the naturalism of the Jewish nation in particular. The tireless energy with which His own nation pursues the elimination of the influence of the supernatural life is doubly painful to our Lord’s Sacred Heart. The combat against naturalism in general and, therefore, against the organised naturalism of the Jewish nation, is urged upon us, for example, by Pope Leo XIII (Tametsi, 1900) and Pope Pius XI (Quas Primas, 1925, and Quadragesimo Anno, 1931). . . .
Given the naturalistic messianic ambition of the Jewish nation to impose its rule on the other nations, anti-semitism for the Jews logically means whatever is in opposition to that ambition. The situation since the Second World War is being cleverly exploited to prevent anyone from opposing Jewish aims, through fear of being dubbed an “anti-Semite.” I n my book, The Mystical Body of Christ and the Reorganisation of Society, I pointed out that the disordered National Socialist action against the corroding influence of Jewish naturalism on German national life led not only to measures of repression against the Jews, with regrettable violations of their personal rights, but also to persecution of the Catholic Church. Comparatively little information concerning the anti-Catholic measures ever reached the great newspaper-reading, cinema-going public, while hardly anyone could fail to be aware of what was done to the Jews. The term “anti-semitism,” with all its war connotation of Nazi cruelty, is now having its comprehension widened to include every form of opposition to the Jewish nation’s naturalistic programme. Forgetfulness of the disorder of Jewish naturalism is keeping Catholics blind to the consequences of accepting the term with its Jewish comprehension. According to the leaders of the Jewish nation, to stand for the rights of Christ the King is to be an anti-Semite. (Father Denis Fahey,
The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation.)
This is precisely correct, which is why concilairism has represented a supreme triumph for the ancient enemies of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as dogmatic pronouncements, such that made under Pope Eugene IV at the Council of Florence on February 4, 1442, Cantate Domino, are consigned to the the Orwellian memory hole, having become "obsolete" even though they were written under the infallible guidance of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost. This is why it is necessary for the Jews of our day to keep constant pressure on the conciliarists, and why they are so insulted that Cantalamessa, has dared used the term that they have used to castigate Catholics over the past fifty years or so to apply it to what they think is the Catholic Church, which they hate with such a bitter and fierce passion as they hate her Divine Bridegroom and Invisible Head, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
In point of truth, of course, to the extent that those of a Jewish background are exploiting the egregious moral crimes of the conciliar hierarchy in protecting clergymen they have known to be guilty of perverse sins against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, this exploitation is just a continuation of the same persecution that the Jews of old visited upon Our Lord Himself during His Passion and Death and that they visited upon the Apostles prior to their dispersal from the Holy Land by the Romans in 70 A.D. at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. And just as each of our sins, having transcended time, helped to motivate the hatred of the Jews of Our Lord's time for Him and caused them to take great delights in the pains that He suffered to redeem us--and them!, so is it the case of today that the conciliarists' own sins of promoting and protecting sodomites into their clerical ranks have given the latter day enemies of Christ the King a maillot with which to hammer them with glee.
The conciliarists, incapable of admitting the root cause of the scandals that they have fostered and abetted over the past few decades, must create further scandals by making it appear as though the greatest crime has ever occurred is anti-Semitism, which includes in popular parlance, of course, all opposition to Judeo-Masonic naturalism with the immutable Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, not Deicide, as they embolden the ancient enemies of Christ the King by not seeking with urgency their unconditional conversion to the Catholic Faith.
Most of those in authority in the counterfeit church of concilairism do not believe any adherent of Talmudic Judaism on the face of this earth is in even the remotest kind of danger of losing his immortal soul for all eternity. If a Jewish person decides he would like to convert to what he thinks is the Catholic Church, all well and good. He is welcome to join. Most conciliarists, including Ratzinger/Benedict himself, do not believe that it is necessary for any Jew to do so, marking out quite a distinction between this thoroughly irresponsible act of cruelty for the eternal welfare of the souls of our fellow human beings and the great Catholic zeal for souls exhibited by the saint whose feast is not celebrated on this day this year because it is Easter Monday, Saint Vincent Ferrer, O.P.
Saint Vincent Ferrer was one of the most powerful preachers in the history of the Church. He had a great zeal for souls, going to extraordinary lengths to seek the conversion of all men to the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. While he exhibited zeal throughout the course of his priesthood, the last twenty years of his life saw him preach throughout Western Europe to bring in infidels to the One Sheepfold of Christ that is the Catholic Church, and to seek the return to the practice of the Faith of Catholics who hearts had been hardened by years of unrepentant sin.
He converted over 25,000 Jews to the Catholic Faith, most of them in Spain.
Saint Vincent Ferrer told the Jews straight out that they had to convert or that they would die, that is, the eternal death of the soul caused by their being in a state of Original Sin. Just as the Apostles urgently sought the conversion of all men in the known world to the true Faith as soon as they left the Upper Room in Jerusalem following the descent of God the Holy Ghost upon them in tongues of flame on Pentecost Sunday, Saint Vincent Ferrer sought most urgently the conversion of souls in his own day. Thousands of Mohammedans were converted by his fearless preaching, motivated by a supreme love for God and the Deposit of Faith He entrusted solely to the Catholic Church and motivated by a supreme love for the eternal welfare of the souls for whom Our Lord had given up His life to the Father in Spirit and in Truth on Golgotha.
People need to be challenged to convert. The actual process of conversion may take a long time. The devil wants to tamp down the initial ardor or curiosity of a possible convert. He wants to mute the tongues of Catholics who know that they must try to seek the conversion of family members and friends but who are waiting for the "right time," as they see it, to do so. Saint Vincent Ferrer knew that the seed must be planted first. He was blessed with thousands upon thousands of instant conversions to the Faith--and with many thousands of people who sought him out in the hospital of Divine Mercy that is the Sacred Tribunal of Penance. Saint Vincent was thus unstinting in his fiery preaching to reach the heart of the unbeliever and the hardened heart of the fallen-away Catholic. The fruits borne as a result of holy, fearless imitation of the Apostles themselves speaks volumes about the necessity of proclaiming the necessity of everyone to convert to the Faith.
To be sure, different approaches are used at different times by different people. One approach is used in a pulpit by a professor or in the front of a classroom by a professor. Another approach, perhaps softer and gentler but nevertheless direct, is used in one-on-one contact over the course of time. Many students sought me out over the course of my thirty years of teaching, interested that a professor had actually said in a college classroom that there is a true religion and that everyone had to belong to that religion in order to be nourished by the sacraments and to die a happy, holy, sacramentally-provided-for death. The approach used in such one-on-one contact during office hours varied according to the needs and the backgrounds of each inquirer. Each, though, came with an clear understanding about the nature of the sessions: their conversion to the Faith.
Some students of mine over the decades were more ready to listen than others. Some kept asking the same questions repeatedly. Every effort was made to answer those questions before they were sent to men I thought to be (and in some instances were) priests for old-fashioned convert-instruction classes. Some persevered to the point of conversion, others did not, at least not to my knowledge. They sought out advice not because of any gift that I, a terrible sinner, had been given. They sought out advice because Catholic truth had resonated in their souls, which were made by God to know, to love, and to serve Him through the Catholic Church. That's really all it takes, you see. A simple proclamation of Catholic truth to start the process of planting seeds for the conversion of souls.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, on the other hand, had the extraordinary gift from God of reaching deep into the souls of his hearers to prompt them to respond with urgency to God's graces for the conversion to the Catholic Church--or for the return of those who had fallen away. He was able to do this because his own soul had been forged in the crucible of suffering, having to resist onslaughts of the devil and to endure calumnies uttered against his good name. He prepared himself for his work by the exquisite manner in which he offered the Dominican Rite of the Catholic Church, the time he spent before Our Lord's Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament in prayer, his deep and tender devotion to the Mother of God, and the life of austere penances which he imposed upon himself. He was not only responsible for the conversion of thousands upon thousands of souls. Saint Vincent Ferrer performed numerous miracles, including gathering the remains of a young boy who had been chopped to death by an angry mother to bring him back to life whole and unharmed!
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B. wrote the following about Saint Vincent Ferrer in The Liturgical Year:
To-day, again, it is Catholic Spain that offers one of her sons to the Church, that she may present him to the Christian world as a model and a patron. Vincent Ferrer, or, as he was called, the angel of the judgment, comes to us proclaiming the near approach of the Judge of the living and the dead. During his lifetime, he traversed almost every country of Europe, preaching this terrible truth ["Convert, or die!"--editor's note]; and the people of those times went from his sermons striking their breasts, crying out to God to have mercy upon them--in a word, converted. In these our days, the thought of that awful day, when Jesus Christ will appear in the clouds of heaven to judge mankind, has not the same effect upon Christians. They believe in the last judgment, because it is an article of faith; but, we repeat, the thought produces little impression. After long years of a sinful life, a special grace touches the heart, and we witness a conversion; there are thousands thus converted, but the majority of them continue to lead an easy, comfortable life, seldom thinking on hell, and still less the judgment wherewith God is to bring time to an end.
It was not thus in the Christian ages; neither is it so now with those whose conversion is solid. Love is stronger in them than fear; and yet the fear of God's judgment is every living within them, and gives stability to the new life they have begun. Those Christians, who have heavy debts towards divine justice, because of their past lives, and who, notwithstanding, make the time of Lent a season for evincing their cowardice and tepidity, surely such Christians as these must very rarely ask themselves what will become of them on that day, when the sign of the Son of Man shall appear in the heavens, and when Jesus, not as Saviour, but as Judge, shall separate the goats from the sheep. One would suppose that they would have received a revelation from God, that, on the day of judgment, all will be well with them. Let us be more prudent; let us stand on our guard against the illusions of a proud, self-satisfied indifference; let us secure to ourselves, by sincere repentance, the well-founded hope, that on the terrible day, which has made the very saints tremble, we shall hear these words of the divine Judge addressed to us: 'Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!' Vincent Ferrer leaves the peaceful cell of his monastery, that he may go and rouse men to the great truth they had forgotten--the day of God's inexorable justice; we have not heard his preachings, but, have we not the Gospel? Have we not the Church, who, at the commencement, of this season of penance, preached to us the terrible truth, which St. Vincent took as the subject of his instructions? Let us, therefore, prepare ourselves to appear before Him, who will demand of us a strict account of those graces which He so profusely poured out upon us, and which were purchased by His Blood. Happy they that spend their Lents well, for they may hope for a favourable judgment!
From the life of Saint Vincent Ferrer in the Breviary, found in The Liturgical Year:
He exposed the perfidy of the Jews, and refuted the false doctrines of the Saracens, but with so much earnestness and success, that he brought a great number of infidels to the faith of Christ, and converted many thousand Christians from sin to repentance, and from vice to virtue. God had chosen him to teach the way of salvation to all nations, and tribes, and tongues; as also to warn men of the coming of the last and dread day of judgment, He so preached, that he struck terror into the minds of all his hearers, and turned them from earthly affections to the love of God.
In other words, men need to be exhorted, challenged, to convert. The Apostles spoke, they challenged, they exhorted. The Saints spoke, they challenged, they exhorted. There is no conversion without the preaching of the Word orally and without a word of warning. The Spiritual Works of Mercy exhort us to instruct the ignorant and to admonish the sinner. These works are not optional. They are mandatory. We do not know when we--or those we seek to convert--will die. That's why the Apostles risked their lives to proclaim the truths of the Faith. They knew that there might not be a tomorrow for the souls to whom they were sent. Do we? Oh, how we excuse ourselves so lightly, sometimes by committing the cardinal Protestant sin of Presumption, believing that "everything will work out in the end for our relatives and friends even if they don't convert before they die," of the responsibility of adhering firmly to the Catholic tradition of speaking and exhorting, doing so in love, to be sure, but making sure that it is done clearly and without equivocation.
Saint Vincent Ferrer also popularized the use of the monogram "IHS" for the Holy Name of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is no accident that many of of the leaders of Talmudic Jews of our own day have sought to eradicate all mention of the Holy Name of Our Divine Redeemer from public utterance as they do not want to see the likes the Saint Vincent Ferrer preaching to them and winning over souls from their ranks. And quite unlike Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Saint Vincent Ferrer's preaching helped to convert a Jewish synagogue into a Catholic Church dedicated to Our Lady. As conversion is a free gift from God, Saint Vincent never forced anyone to convert to the Faith and was successful in quelling at least two outbreaks of violence against the Jews of Spain. In other words, he was a Catholic priest possessed of the sensus Catholicus, not the false "sense" of concilairism. (For a wonderful book, whose entire text is online, about Saint Vincent Ferrer, please see
St. Vincent Ferrer, of the Order of Friar Preachers: His life, spiritual teaching, and practical devotion.)
Similarly concerned about seeking the conversion of Jews and others to the true Faith was the zealous Conventual Franciscan, the founder of the Knights of the Immaculata (M.I.), Father Maximilian Kolbe, O.F.M., Conv. An anthology of Father Kolbe's writings contains a passage concerning Our Lady's as the destroyer of all heresies. The passage below serves as something of an introduction to Father Kolbe's protracted description (found in full in the appendix below) of the conversion of the Catholic-hating Jew named Alphonse Ratisbonne on January 20, 1842, an event that one almost never hears any official associated with the conciliar church making reference to as the young Ratisbonne, who became a Jesuit priest, went to the Holy Land with the explicit permission of Pope Pius IX to seek the conversion of his own Jewish people to the true Faith.
There are people who do not understand how it can be said that "She alone has destroyed all heresies in the whole world" when heresies still exist. It is something like this: When during one of the battles, Napoleon was informed that for some unknown reason, the enemy's cavalry was seen approaching, he said, "The enemy lost the battle" although the battle was still raging. And it turned out to be true. His plan His plan worked. So, and even more so, it is with all heresies. They are already doomed. "The enemy is lost. She won, because she destroyed them." (Father Anselm W. Romb, O.F.M., Conv., Commentator and Editor, The Writing of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv.: The Kolbe Reader, Franciscan Marytown Press, 1987, p. 24.)
As Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap., continues to do his tap dance to back away from his invocation of the phrase "anti-Semitism" to describe the criticism leveled against his "pope" and "bishops," we must on this Easter Monday in 2010 look forward to the day when the Church Militant on earth will know her mystical resurrection, a time when, following the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by a true pope with all of the world's true bishops, the heresies of the present day will be vanquished and the souls of many heretics and unbelievers, including Jews, will be converted. In the meantime, of course, we continue to pray as many Rosaries each day as our state-in-life permits, bearing ourselves with kindness toward all of those God's Holy Providence places in our paths, making sure to give blessed Green Scapulars to non-Catholics and to pray the prayer, "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death," every day for each person to whom we give one. The rewards for doing so might just be heavenly.
Conciliarism and the confusion it has engendered within the souls of Catholics will vanish. The clarity of Catholicism will return. As the late William C. Koneazny, the progenitor of the Catholic Rendezvous gatherings in Salisbury, Connecticut, said six years ago shortly before he died on June 16, 2004, "Our Lady will come and throw the bums out!"
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Just as He said.
A continued blessed Easter to you all
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon!
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints
From The Kolbe Reader: "The Conversion of Ratisbonne"
Introduction (from the editor and commentator of The Kolbe Reader):
St. Maximilian incorporated into several writings the conversion to Catholicity of this remarkable French Jew, a wealthy and dissipated worldling, a man who set his hand to a wholly different way of life from the one he ultimately followed by the direct intervention of Mary Immaculate. This particular version appears here because it is the most exhaustive and touching and appeared in the May, 1924 issue of the Rycerz Niepokalanej (Knight of the Immaculate).
Maximilian's version is a "frame story." He told the story of Ratisbonne to a group of people he encountered on a train the previous month. The story is derived, almost word for word, from documents published thirty-two years earlier. The paragraphs enclosed within quotation marks are Ratisbonne's own words.
There are several reasons why the conversion of this man looms large in Maximilian's thinking. The agnostic Jew was a well-known "playboy" and his sudden change of heart evoked much wonder. Our Lady's appearance to him in her role of the Lady of Grace whose image appears on the face of the Miraculous Medal, the carrying of which is one of the principal "means" recommended by Maximilian for Knights. She is crushing Satan, the serpent, under her feet, which suggests the woman of Genesis, the Immaculate Conception. Finally, Maximilian was moved to found the M.I. as a Roman seminarian during his daily meditation on the anniversary date of Ratisbonne's conversion, January 20. He would refer to Ratisbonne repeatedly in his words.
Reading (here follows the writing of Father Maximilian Kolbe):
Once again it happened on a train, on April 6, 1924. To tell the truth, that is a place where one can easily meet persons with the most varied ideas. On the train I was relating the story of Ratisbonne's conversion, when a gentleman--one of those who are always ready to pronounce without proofs--observed ironically, "It's so nice to hear you tell all this, Father!" I replied that I could show him documentary proofs of the story, because just some days before I had received from Rome a collection of these, printed in 1892.
Therefore I wish to publish some extracts from these documents. To begin with, I shall give you same passages of a letter written by Ratisbonne himself to a parish priest, the Director of an Archconfraternity founded to pray for the conversion of sinners.
(After describing his family background, his wealth, his engagement and the trip he made to the Orient before the marriage--during which he stopped in Rome, despite the aversion he felt for Catholic Rome--Ratisbonne described the efforts of Baron de Bussieres, a zealous Catholic convert from Protestantism, to bring him into the Church. This nettled Ratisbonne. here is how he relates the visit he paid to Baron de Bussieres.)
"On entering M. de Bussieres' house I met with a first disappointment, because the maid, instead of simply taking my visiting card, immediately brought me into the parlor. As far as I could, I tried to dissimulate my ennui behind a feigned smile, and I sat down next to Baroness de Bussieres, near whom her two little daughters were playing. The conversation began with the usual insignificant topics, but soon I was displaying the passionate dislike with which I described the impressions I had received in Rome. In a condescending sort of way I considered Baron de Bussieres a devout person. Consequently, because this was a favorable opportunity for me, I did not refrain from some rather cutting remarks about the situation of the Jews in Rome, which relieved my feelings somewhat. However, it was these complaints of mine that brought the conversation around to religion. He spoke to me of the greatness of Catholicism. But I answered sarcastically with objections that I myself had read or that I had heard from others. However, I restrained my impious assertions somewhat, so as not to shock the faith of the little girls playing near us. Finally M. de Bussieres said to me: 'Well, inasmuch as you condemn all prejudices and profess such liberal principles, and because yours is such an enlightened and advanced mind, would you be brave enough to submit yourself to a harmless experiment?'
"'To carry about with you an object that I will give you. Here, take this image of the most Blessed Virgin. That sounds ridiculous to you, doesn't it? However, I consider it very effective.'
"I must admit that I had never expected such a proposition. At first I felt like bursting out laughing and shrugging my shoulders. But then I thought, 'What a splendid story this scene will make in the account of my trip!' So I accepted the medal which was placed around my neck. When I rested on my breast I laughed aloud and said, 'Well, well! Now I am a Catholic! . . . Apostolic . . . and Roman!'
"M. de Bussieres was genially triumphant over the victory he had won, but wanting to exploit it to the full, he said, '"Now, to complete the test, you must recite, morning and evening, the Memorare, a very short, but very efficacious prayer to the most Blessed Virgin, composed by St. Bernard.'
"But what on earth is this Memorare?" I exclaimed. Let's have done with all this mummery!
"At that moment I felt a great surge of vexation. The name of St. Bernard made me remember my brother, who had written the life of this saint. I had never been willing to take the book in my hands. But his souvenir awakened my rage against proselytism, against the Jesuits and against those whom I called hypocrites and apostates.
"So I begged M. de Bussieres to let it go at that, and making a joke of the affair, I told him I was sorry that I could not offer him even a single Hebrew prayer in return and that consequently I would have to remain in his debt. The fact was that I did not know any prayers at all. However, my adversary insisted that if I refused to say this short prayer, the whole test would fail, and thus I would prove that I was only an obstinate unbeliever. Since I attached no importance whatever to the matter I finally promised to recite the prayer. He went to get a copy of it right way and asked me to write it out. I agreed, but on the condition that he would give me the original and keep my handwritten copy. What I wanted to do in fact was to add to my notebook the new 'pledge of justice.'
So we finally came to an agreement. At the end we parted, and I spent the rest of the evening at the theater, forgetting all about the medal and the prayer. When I returned to my lodgings, however, I found a visiting card from M. de Bussieres, who had come to return my visit. He invited me to stop at his house again before leaving Rome. since I had to give the prayer back to him, after packing my valises in view of my departure the next day, I sat down and copied the prayer. It ran: 'Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known hat anyone who fled to thy patronage, sought thy aid, or implored thy intercession w left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother; to thee I come, before I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O mother of the Incarnate Word, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.'
"I wrote out the words of St. Bernard without paying any attention to them. It was late; I was tired and was about to fall asleep standing up.
"Next day, January 16th, I got everything ready for my departure. But as I went about I found myself constantly repeating the words of that prayer. My God, how had they taken such possession of my imagination?
(Ratisbonne goes on to relate how M. de Bussieres persuaded him to delay leaving so as to have a chance to see the Pope, Gregory XVI. In the meantime he brought his guest to visit some of the Christian antiquities, which gave him a chance ot discuss religious topics.)
"Everything our eyes beheld--monuments, paintings, the local customs--became topics of conversation. All this led on to various religious questions. M. de Bussieres brought them up so simply and spoke of them so enthusiastically that sometimes in the depths of my heart I thought 'If anything can turn a man aside from religion, it is certainly the persistence some people show in trying to convert him!' My natural irreverence led me to make fun even of most serious things. To my barbed remarks I added an infernal fire of blasphemies, which I no longer have the courage even to think of today. In spite of all this, however, M. de Bussieres, while expressing his disappointment, remained indulgent and calm. Once he even went so far as to say, 'In spite of your irritation, I am sure that sooner or later you will become a Catholic, because deep in your nature there resides a naturally straightforward judgment, and this tells me that you will let God enlighten you, even if he has to send an angel from heaven to do it.'
"All right," I replied jokingly, "but let it be when I am in a good mood; otherwise, the thing might off badly.
"As our carriage was passing near the Scala Santa, M. de Bussieres stood up and doffed his hat, exclaimed, 'Hail,. O sacred stairway! Here is a sinner who will mount you on his knees some day!'
"I cannot express what I felt at the idea of paying homage to a stairway! I laughed heartily, as at something entirely unreasonable. Later, as we were passing by the lovely villas and gardens that lined the sides of Nero's aqueduct, I too raised my voice, and using the same words as he, I exclaimed, 'Hail, ye truly divine marvels! Before you one should bow his head and not before a staircase of whatever kind!'
(Ratisbonne continues with the story of his meeting with some Protestant friends on January 20th, in a cafe where they were reading the papers.)
"As I left the cafe, I meet M. de Bussieres' carriage, and he invited me for a ride. As it was a beautiful day, I willingly accepted. When we got to the church of Saint' Andrea delle Fratte, M. de Bussieres excused himself for a moment, because he had an errand to run. He asked me to wait for him in the vehicle; but instead I preferred to get down and visit the church. Within they were preparing a catafalque for a funeral, so I asked the Baron, 'Whose funeral is it?'
"'The Count de Laferronays',' he replied, 'a good friend of mine who died suddenly. That is why you may have found me rather glum these last couple of days.'
"I did not know the count; had never seen him in fact. So the news did not make any special impression on me, beyond that produced by the information about a sudden death. M. de Bussieres left because he had to see about preparing the place where the family of the deceased would sit. 'Excuse me me for a few minutes,' he said, as he went into the monastery. 'I shall be back shortly.'
(On February 18th and 19th, in the deposition he made during the investigative process set up to make clear the circumstances of his conversion. Ratisbonne stated the following among other things.)
"When I traversed the church, I arrived at the spot where they were getting ready for the funeral. Suddenly I felt interiorly disturbed, and saw in front of me something like a veil. It seemed to me that the entire church had been swallowed up in shadow, except one chapel. It was as thought all the light was concentrated in that single place. I looked over towards this chapel whence so much light shone and above the altar I saw a living figure standing, tall, majestic, beautiful and full of mercy. It was the most Holy Virgin Mary, resembling her figure on the Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate. At this sight I fell on my knees right where I stood; several times I attempted to lift my eyes towards the Most Blessed Virgin, but respect and the blinding light forced me to lower my gaze; this, however, did not prevent me from seeing the luminosity of the apparition. I fixed my glance on her hands, and in them I could read the expression of mercy and pardon. In the presence of the most Blessed Virgin, even though she did not speak a word to me, I understood the frightful situation I was in, the heinousness of sin, the beauty of the Catholic religion . . . in a word, I understood everything.
"When he returned, M. de Bussieres found me kneeling, my head resting on the railing of the chapel where the most Blessed Virgin had appeared, and bathed in tears. I do not understand how I managed to get to the railing, because I had fallen to my knees on the other side of the nave, and the catafalque stood between me and the chapel. I must add that the feeling that accompanied my weeping was one of gratitude towards the Blessed Virgin and of pity for my family, buried in the darkness of Judaism, for heretics and for sinners. M. de Bussieres raised me up and, still weeping, I told him, 'Oh, that person must have prayed very much for me,' thinking of the deceased Count de Laferronays. [Father Kolbe note: "M. de Bussieres had in fact recommended Ratisbonne to the prayers of M. de Laferronays."]
"He asked me several questions, but I could not answer, so deeply was I moved. So he took me by the hand, led me out of the church to the carriage and helped me to get in. Then he asked me where I wanted to go.
"Take me wherever you like," I said, "after what I have seen, I will do anything you want."
"'But what did you see?' he asked me.
"I cannot tell you; but please bring me to a confessor, and I will tell him everything on my knees."
"He brought me to the church of the Gesu, to a Jesuit, Father Villefort, to whom in the presence of M. de Bussieres, I related all that had happened to me."
(In his letter he continues.)
"All I can say of myself comes down to this: that in an instant a veil fell from my eyes; or rather not a single veil, but many of the veils which surrounded me were dissipated one after the other, like snow, mud and ice under the burning rays of the sun. I felt as though I were emerging from a tomb, from a dark grave; that I was beginning to be a living being, enjoying a real life. And yet I wept. I could see into the depths of my frightful misery, from which infinite mercy had liberated me. My whole being shivered at the sight of my transgressions; I was shaken, overcome by amazement and gratitude. I thought of my brother with indescribable joy; and to my tears of love there were joined tears of compassion. How many persons in this world, alas, are going down unknowingly into the abyss, their eyes shut by pride and indifference!They are being swallowed up alive by those horrifying shadows; and among them are my family, my fiancee, my poor sisters. What a bitter thought! My mind turned to you, whom I love so much; for you I offered my first prayers. Will you some day raise your eyes towards the Savior of the world, whose blood washed away original sin? How monstrous is the stain of that sin, because of which man no longer bears the resemblance to God!
"They asked me now I had come to know these truths, since they all knew that I had never so much as opened a book dealing with religion, head not even read a single page of the Bible, while the dogma of original sin, entirely forgotten or denied by modern Jews, had never occupied my mind for a single instant. I am no sure that I had even heard its name. So how had I come to know these truths? I cannot tell' all I know is that when I entered the church, I was ignorant of all this, whereas when I left I could see it all with blinding clarity. I cannot explain this change except by comparing myself to a man who suddenly awakens from deep sleep or to someone born blind who suddenly acquires sight. He sees, even though he cannot describe his sensations or pinpoint what enlightens him and makes it possible for him to admire the things around him. If we cannot adequately explain natural light, how can we describe a light the substance of which is truth itself? I think I am expressing myself correctly when I say that I did not have any verbal knowledge, but had come to possess the meaning and spirit of the dogmas, to feel rather than see these things, to experience them with the help of the inexpressible power which was at work within me.
"The love of God had taken the place of all other loves, to such an extent that I loved even my fiancee, but in a different way. I loved her like someone whom God held in his hands, like a precious gift which inspires an even greater love for the giver."
(As they wanted to delay his Baptism, Ratisbonne pleaded.)
"What? The Jews who heard the preaching of the apostles were baptized at once; and you wish to delay Baptism for me who have heard the Queen of the apostles?"
"My emotion, my ardent desires and my prayers finally induced these good men to fix a date for my Baptism. I awaited the appointed day with impatience, because I realized how displeasing I was in the eyes of God.
(Finally the 31st of January came. He described his Baptism.)
"Immediately after Baptism I felt myself filled with sentiments of veneration and filial love for the Holy Father; I considered myself fortunate when I was told that I would be granted an audience with the Pontiff, accompanied by the General of the Jesuits. In spite of all this I was quite nervous, because I had never frequented the important people of this world; although these important people seemed to me too insignificant when compared to true grandeur. I must confess that I included among these great ones of the world the one who on this earth holds God's highest power, i.e., the pope, the successor of Jesus Christ himself, whose indestructible chair he occupies.
"Never will I forget my trepidation and the beatings of my heart when I entered the vatican and traversed the spacious courtyards and majestic halls leading to the sacred premises where the pope resides. When I beheld him, though, my nervousness suddenly gave way to amazement. He was so simple, humble and paternal. This was no monarch, but a father who with unrestrained love treated me like a cherished son.
"O good God! Will it be thus when I appear before you to give you an account of the graces I hare received? Awe fills me at the mere thought of God's greatness, and I tremble before his justice; but at the sight of his mercy my confidence revives, and with confidence so will my love and unbounded gratitude.
"Yes, gratitude will from now on be my law and my life . I cannot express it in words; so I shall strive to do so in deeds. The letters received from my family give me full liberty; I wish to consecrate this liberty to God, and I offer it to him from this very moment, along with my whole life, to serve the Church and my brothers under the protection of the most Blessed Virgin Mary." (Father Anselm W. Romb, OFM Conv., Commentator and Editor, The Writings of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv.: The Kolbe Reader, pp. 22-31.)