Razing the Bastions of Truth Himself
Thomas A. Droleskey
Benedict XVI used his Wednesday General Audience address yesterday, December 6, 2006, to offer a reflection on his recently concluded pilgrimage to Turkey. Although the reflection contains absolutely nothing new in his own thought, it is a very good reminder of how far he has fallen from the Catholic Faith, how little he thinks in terms of converting others to the Faith, yes, even in moments of private prayer.
Here is an excerpt from the reflection:
Going back to the vision that the Second Vatican Council presents of the Church (cf. constitution "Lumen Gentium," Nos. 14-16), I might say that the Pope's trips also contributed to carry out his mission that takes place in "concentric circles." In the innermost circle the Successor of Peter confirms Catholic faithful in the faith, in the intermediate circle he meets the other Christians, and in the farthest out he addresses non-Christians and the whole of humanity.
The first day of my visit to Turkey took place in the ambit of this third "circle," the largest. I met with the prime minister, the president of the republic, and the president for religious affairs, addressing my first speech to the latter. I rendered homage at the mausoleum of the "father of the homeland," Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and afterward I had the possibility to talk to the diplomatic corps in the Apostolic Nunciature of Ankara.
This intense series of meetings was an important part of the visit, especially because Turkey is a country which is predominantly Muslim, which is governed by a constitution that affirms the state's secularism. It is, therefore, a country which constitutes an emblem of the great challenge posed today at the world level. On one hand, it is necessary to rediscover the reality of God, the public importance of religious faith and, on the other, to guarantee that the expression of that faith is free, without fundamentalist degenerations and capable of rejecting firmly any form of violence.
Therefore, I had the suitable opportunity to renew my sentiments of esteem to Muslims and to the Islamic civilization. At the same time I was able to insist on the importance that Christians and Muslims commit themselves together in favor of the human being, of life, of peace and of justice, reaffirming that the distinction between the civil and religious spheres constitutes a value and that the state must guarantee to the citizens and the religious communities effective freedom of worship.
In the ambit of interreligious dialogue, Divine Providence allowed me to carry out, almost at the end of my trip, a gesture that initially was not foreseen and which revealed itself extremely significant: the visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Remaining recollected for a few minutes in that place of prayer, I turned to the only Lord of heaven and earth, merciful Father of the whole of humanity, and implored that all believers might recognize themselves as creatures and give witness of authentic fraternity!
The theme of "concentric circles" is quite important. It is heretical, implying that everyone is "more or less" associated with the Catholic Church in some capacity or another. It is another version of the "branch theory" that Bishop Donald Sanborn has critiqued so well (see:
The New Ecclesiology: An Overview and
The New Ecclesiology: Documentation). Indeed, the phrase concentric circles was used by John XXIII shortly before his death in a meeting with Roger Schutz, one of the founders of the Taize Ecumenical Community in France:
Schutz later recounted the story of meeting John XXIII shortly before the pope’s death, on a morning when his doctors said he was not in too much pain. Schutz asked the pope for a spiritual testimony for Taizé, and John XXIII responded: “The church is constituted by a series of concentric circles, and they must always become larger, larger,” drawing the circles in the air with his hands.
Schutz would later describe the death of John XXIII as a major blow to the ecumenical movement.
“Ecumenism from that moment put itself on the road of parallelism,” Schutz said. “The confessions continued on their separate paths in a simple peaceful coexistence, and nothing more.” (John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter online, October 14, 2005.]
Unfortunately for John XXIII and Paul VI and John Paul II and Benedict XVI and Roger Schutz, et al., a genuine Catholic pope, Leo XIII, put the lie to this business of "concentric" circles and "branches," stating the following in Satis Cognitum, June 29, 1986:
Jesus Christ commanded His Apostles and their successors to the end of time to teach and rule the nations. He ordered the nations to accept their teaching and obey their authority. But his correlation of rights and duties in the Christian commonwealth not only could not have been made permanent, but could not even have been initiated except through the senses, which are of all things the messengers and interpreters.
For this reason the Church is so often called in Holy Writ a body, and even the body of Christ - "Now you are the body of Christ" (I Cor. xii., 27) - and precisely because it is a body is the Church visible: and because it is the body of Christ is it living and energizing, because by the infusion of His power Christ guards and sustains it, just as the vine gives nourishment and renders fruitful the branches united to it. And as in animals the vital principle is unseen and invisible, and is evidenced and manifested by the movements and action of the members, so the principle of supernatural life in the Church is clearly shown in that which is done by it.
From this it follows that those who arbitrarily conjure up and picture to themselves a hidden and invisible Church are in grievous and pernicious error: as also are those who regard the Church as a human institution which claims a certain obedience in discipline and external duties, but which is without the perennial communication of the gifts of divine grace, and without all that which testifies by constant and undoubted signs to the existence of that life which is drawn from God. It is assuredly as impossible that the Church of Jesus Christ can be the one or the other, as that man should be a body alone or a soul alone. The connection and union of both elements is as absolutely necessary to the true Church as the intimate union of the soul and body is to human nature. The Church is not something dead: it is the body of Christ endowed with supernatural life. As Christ, the Head and Exemplar, is not wholly in His visible human nature, which Photinians and Nestorians assert, nor wholly in the invisible divine nature, as the Monophysites hold, but is one, from and in both natures, visible and invisible; so the mystical body of Christ is the true Church, only because its visible parts draw life and power from the supernatural gifts and other things whence spring their very nature and essence. But since the Church is such by divine will and constitution, such it must uniformly remain to the end of time. If it did not, then it would not have been founded as perpetual, and the end set before it would have been limited to some certain place and to some certain period of time; both of which are contrary to the truth. The union consequently of visible and invisible elements because it harmonizes with the natural order and by God's will belongs to the very essence of the Church, must necessarily remain so long as the Church itself shall endure. Wherefore Chrysostom writes: "Secede not from the Church: for nothing is stronger than the Church. Thy hope is the Church; thy salvation is the Church; thy refuge is the Church. It is higher than the heavens and wider than the earth. It never grows old, but is ever full of vigour. Wherefore Holy Writ pointing to its strength and stability calls it a mountain" (Hom. De capto Eutropio, n. 6).
Also Augustine says: "Unbelievers think that the Christian religion will last for a certain period in the world and will then disappear. But it will remain as long as the sun - as long as the sun rises and sets: that is, as long as the ages of time shall roll, the Church of God - the true body of Christ on earth - will not disappear" (In Psalm. lxx., n. 8). And in another place: "The Church will totter if its foundation shakes; but how can Christ be moved?...Christ remaining immovable, it (the Church, shall never be shaken. Where are they that say that the Church has disappeared from the world, when it cannot even be shaken?" (Enarratio in Psalm. ciii., sermo ii., n. 5).
He who seeks the truth must be guided by these fundamental principles. That is to say, that Christ the Lord instituted and formed the Church: wherefore when we are asked what its nature is, the main thing is to see what Christ wished and what in fact He did. Judged by such a criterion it is the unity of the Church which must be principally considered; and of this, for the general good, it has seemed useful to speak in this Encyclical.
It is so evident from the clear and frequent testimonies of Holy Writ that the true Church of Jesus Christ is one, that no Christian can dare to deny it. But in judging and determining the nature of this unity many have erred in various ways. Not the foundation of the Church alone, but its whole constitution, belongs to the class of things effected by Christ's free choice. For this reason the entire case must be judged by what was actually done. We must consequently investigate not how the Church may possibly be one, but how He, who founded it, willed that it should be one. But when we consider what was actually done we find that Jesus Christ did not, in point of fact, institute a Church to embrace several communities similar in nature, but in themselves distinct, and lacking those bonds which render the Church unique and indivisible after that manner in which in the symbol of our faith we profess: "I believe in one Church." "The Church in respect of its unity belongs to the category of things indivisible by nature, though heretics try to divide it into many parts...We say, therefore, that the Catholic Church is unique in its essence, in its doctrine, in its origin, and in its excellence...Furthermore, the eminence of the Church arises from its unity, as the principle of its constitution - a unity surpassing all else, and having nothing like unto it or equal to it" (S. Clemens Alexandrinus, Stronmatum lib. viii., c. 17). For this reason Christ, speaking of the mystical edifice, mentions only one Church, which he calls His own - "I will build my church; " any other Church except this one, since it has not been founded by Christ, cannot be the true Church. This becomes even more evident when the purpose of the Divine Founder is considered. For what did Christ, the Lord, ask? What did He wish in regard to the Church founded, or about to be founded? This: to transmit to it the same mission and the same mandate which He had received from the Father, that they should be perpetuated. This He clearly resolved to do: this He actually did. "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you" (John xx., 21). "Ad thou hast sent Me into the world I also have sent them into the world" (John xvii., 18).
But the mission of Christ is to save that which had perished: that is to say, not some nations or peoples, but the whole human race, without distinction of time or place. "The Son of Man came that the world might be saved by Him" (John iii., 17). "For there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved" (Acts iv., 12). The Church, therefore, is bound to communicate without stint to all men, and to transmit through all ages, the salvation effected by Jesus Christ, and the blessings flowing there from. Wherefore, by the will of its Founder, it is necessary that this Church should be one in all lands and at all times. to justify the existence of more than one Church it would be necessary to go outside this world, and to create a new and unheard - of race of men.
That the one Church should embrace all men everywhere and at all times was seen and foretold by Isaias, when looking into the future he saw the appearance of a mountain conspicuous by its all surpassing altitude, which set forth the image of "The House of the Lord" - that is, of the Church, "And in the last days the mountain of the House of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of the mountains" (Isa. ii., 2).
But this mountain which towers over all other mountains is one; and the House of the Lord to which all nations shall come to seek the rule of living is also one. "And all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go, and say: Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the House of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths" (Ibid., ii., 2-3).
Explaining this passage, Optatus of Milevis says: "It is written in the prophet Isaias: 'from Sion the law shall go forth and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.' For it is not on Mount Sion that Isaias sees the valley, but on the holy mountain, that is, the Church, which has raised itself conspicuously throughout the entire Roman world under the whole heavens....The Church is, therefore, the spiritual Sion in which Christ has been constituted King by God the Father, and which exists throughout the entire earth, on which there is but one Catholic Church" (De Schism. Donatist., lib. iii., n. 2). And Augustine says: "What can be so manifest as a mountain, or so well known? There are, it is true, mountains which are unknown because they are situated in some remote part of the earth But this mountain is not unknown; for it has filled the whole face of the world, and about this it is said that it is prepared on the summit of the mountains" (In Ep. Joan., tract i., n. 13).
Furthermore, the Son of God decreed that the Church should be His mystical body, with which He should be united as the Head, after the manner of the human body which He assumed, to which the natural head is physiologically united. As He took to Himself a mortal body, which He gave to suffering and death in order to pay the price of man's redemption, so also He has one mystical body in which and through which He renders men partakers of holiness and of eternal salvation. God "hath made Him (Christ) head over all the Church, which is His body" (Eph. i., 22-23). Scattered and separated members cannot possibly cohere with the head so as to make one body. But St. Paul says: "All members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ" (I Cor. xii., 12). Wherefore this mystical body, he declares, is "compacted and fitly jointed together. The head, Christ: from whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly jointed together, by what every joint supplieth according to the operation in the measure of every part" (Eph. iv., 15-16). And so dispersed members, separated one from the other, cannot be united with one and the same head. "There is one God, and one Christ; and His Church is one and the faith is one; and one the people, joined together in the solid unity of the body in the bond of concord. This unity cannot be broken, nor the one body divided by the separation of its constituent parts" (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitateccl. Unitate, n. 23). And to set forth more clearly the unity of the Church, he makes use of the illustration of a living body, the members of which cannot possibly live unless united to the head and drawing from it their vital force. Separated from the head they must of necessity die. "The Church," he says, "cannot be divided into parts by the separation and cutting asunder of its members. What is cut away from the mother cannot live or breathe apart" (Ibid.). What similarity is there between a dead and a living body? "For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church: because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones" (Eph. v., 29-30).
Another head like to Christ must be invented - that is, another Christ if besides the one Church, which is His body, men wish to set up another. "See what you must beware of - see what you must avoid - see what you must dread. It happens that, as in the human body, some member may be cut off a hand, a finger, a foot. Does the soul follow the amputated member? As long as it was in the body, it lived; separated, it forfeits its life. So the Christian is a Catholic as long as he lives in the body: cut off from it he becomes a heretic - the life of the spirit follows not the amputated member" (S. Augustinus, Sermo cclxvii., n. 4).
The Church of Christ, therefore, is one and the same for ever; those who leave it depart from the will and command of Christ, the Lord - leaving the path of salvation they enter on that of perdition. "Whosoever is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ....He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation" (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n. 6).
But He, indeed, Who made this one Church, also gave it unity, that is, He made it such that all who are to belong to it must be united by the closest bonds, so as to form one society, one kingdom, one body - "one body and one spirit as you are called in one hope of your calling (Eph. iv., 4). Jesus Christ, when His death was nigh at hand, declared His will in this matter, and solemnly offered it up, thus addressing His Father: "Not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in Me...that they also may be one in Us...that they may be made perfect in one" John xvii., 20-21 23). Yea, He commanded that this unity should be so closely knit and so perfect amongst His followers that it might, in some measure, shadow forth the union between Himself and His Father: "I pray that they all may be one as Thou Father in Me and I in Thee" (Ibid. 21).
Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results. Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man to God, and whence we receive the name of the faithful - "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. iv., 5). That is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith. And so the Apostle St. Paul not merely begs, but entreats and implores Christians to be all of the same mind, and to avoid difference of opinions: "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms amongst you, and that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Cor. i., 10). Such passages certainly need no interpreter; they speak clearly enough for themselves. Besides, all who profess Christianity allow that there can be but one faith. It is of the greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity, as to which many are deceived, that the nature and character of this unity should be recognized. And, as We have already stated, this is not to be ascertained by conjecture, but by the certain knowledge of what was done; that is by seeking for and ascertaining what kind of unity in faith has been commanded by Jesus Christ.
The heavenly doctrine of Christ, although for the most part committed to writing by divine inspiration, could not unite the minds of men if left to the human intellect alone. It would, for this very reason, be subject to various and contradictory interpretations. This is so, not only because of the nature of the doctrine itself and of the mysteries it involves, but also because of the divergencies of the human mind and of the disturbing element of conflicting passions. From a variety of interpretations a variety of beliefs is necessarily begotten; hence come controversies, dissensions and wranglings such as have arisen in the past, even in the first ages of the Church. Irenaeus writes of heretics as follows: "Admitting the sacred Scriptures they distort the interpretations" (Lib. iii., cap. 12, n. 12). And Augustine: "Heresies have arisen, and certain perverse views ensnaring souls and precipitating them into the abyss only when the Scriptures, good in themselves, are not properly understood" (In Evang. Joan., tract xviii., cap. 5, n. 1). Besides Holy Writ it was absolutely necessary to insure this union of men's minds - to effect and preserve unity of ideas - that there should be another principle. This the wisdom of God requires: for He could not have willed that the faith should be one if He did not provide means sufficient for the preservation of this unity; and this Holy Writ clearly sets forth as We shall presently point out. Assuredly the infinite power of God is not bound by anything, all things obey it as so many passive instruments. In regard to this external principle, therefore, we must inquire which one of all the means in His power Christ did actually adopt. For this purpose it is necessary to recall in thought the institution of Christianity.
We are mindful only of what is witnessed to by Holy Writ and what is otherwise well known. Christ proves His own divinity and the divine origin of His mission by miracles; He teaches the multitudes heavenly doctrine by word of mouth; and He absolutely commands that the assent of faith should be given to His teaching, promising eternal rewards to those who believe and eternal punishment to those who do not. "If I do not the works of my Father, believe Me not" John x., 37). "If I had not done among them the works than no other man had done, they would not have sin" (Ibid. xv., 24). "But if I do (the works) though you will not believe Me, believe the works" (Ibid. x., 38). Whatsoever He commands, He commands by the same authority. He requires the assent of the mind to all truths without exception. It was thus the duty of all who heard Jesus Christ, if they wished for eternal salvation, not merely to accept His doctrine as a whole, but to assent with their entire mind to all and every point of it, since it is unlawful to withhold faith from God even in regard to one single point.
When about to ascend into heaven He sends His Apostles in virtue of the same power by which He had been sent from the Father; and he charges them to spread abroad and propagate His teaching. "All power is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach all nations....teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. xxviii., 18-1920). So that those obeying the Apostles might be saved, and those disobeying should perish. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believed not shall be condemned" (Mark xvi., 16). But since it is obviously most in harmony with God's providence that no one should have confided to him a great and important mission unless he were furnished with the means of properly carrying it out, for this reason Christ promised that He would send the Spirit of Truth to His Disciples to remain with them for ever. "But if I go I will send Him (the Paraclete) to you....But when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will teach you all truth" John xvi., 7 13). "And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever, the Spirit of Truth" (Ibid. xiv., 16-17). "He shall give testimony of Me, and you shall give testimony" (Ibid. xv., 26-27). Hence He commands that the teaching of the Apostles should be religiously accepted and piously kept as if it were His own - "He who hears you hears Me, he who despises you despises Me" (Luke x., 16). Wherefore the Apostles are ambassadors of Christ as He is the ambassador of the Father. "As the Father sent Me so also I send you" John xx., 21). Hence as the Apostles and Disciples were bound to obey Christ, so also those whom the Apostles taught were, by God's command, bound to obey them. And, therefore, it was no more allowable to repudiate one iota of the Apostles' teaching than it was to reject any point of the doctrine of Christ Himself.
Truly the voice of the Apostles, when the Holy Ghost had come down upon them, resounded throughout the world. Wherever they went they proclaimed themselves the ambassadors of Christ Himself. "By whom (Jesus Christ) we have received grace and Apostleship for obedience to the faith in all nations for His name" (Rom. i., 5). And God makes known their divine mission by numerous miracles. "But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed" (Mark xvi., 20). But what is this word? That which comprehends all things, that which they had learnt from their Master; because they openly and publicly declare that they cannot help speaking of what they had seen and heard.
But, as we have already said, the Apostolic mission was not destined to die with the Apostles themselves, or to come to an end in the course of time, since it was intended for the people at large and instituted for the salvation of the human race. For Christ commanded His Apostles to preach the "Gospel to every creature, to carry His name to nations and kings, and to be witnesses to him to the ends of the earth." He further promised to assist them in the fulfilment of their high mission, and that, not for a few years or centuries only, but for all time - "even to the consummation of the world." Upon which St. Jerome says: "He who promises to remain with His Disciples to the end of the world declares that they will be for ever victorious, and that He will never depart from those who believe in Him" (In Matt., lib. iv., cap. 28, v. 20). But how could all this be realized in the Apostles alone, placed as they were under the universal law of dissolution by death? It was consequently provided by God that the Magisterium instituted by Jesus Christ should not end with the life of the Apostles, but that it should be perpetuated. We see it in truth propagated, and, 'as it were, delivered from hand to hand. For the Apostles consecrated bishops, and each one appointed those who were to succeed them immediately "in the ministry of the word."
Nay more: they likewise required their successors to choose fitting men, to endow them with like authority, and to confide to them the office and mission of teaching. "Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus: and the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same command to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also" (2 Tim. ii., 1-2). Wherefore, as Christ was sent by God and the Apostles by Christ, so the Bishops and those who succeeded them were sent by the Apostles. "The Apostles were appointed by Christ to preach the Gospel to us. Jesus Christ was sent by God. Christ is therefore from God, and the Apostles from Christ, and both according to the will of God....Preaching therefore the word through the countries and cities, when they had proved in the Spirit the first - fruits of their teaching they appointed bishops and deacons for the faithful....They appointed them and then ordained them, so that when they themselves had passed away other tried men should carry on their ministry" (S. Clemens Rom. Epist. I ad Corinth. capp. 42, 44). On the one hand, therefore, it is necessary that the mission of teaching whatever Christ had taught should remain perpetual and immutable, and on the other that the duty of accepting and professing all their doctrine should likewise be perpetual and immutable. "Our Lord Jesus Christ, when in His Gospel He testifies that those who not are with Him are His enemies, does not designate any special form of heresy, but declares that all heretics who are not with Him and do not gather with Him, scatter His flock and are His adversaries: He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth" (S. Cyprianus, Ep. lxix., ad Magnum, n. I).
The Church, founded on these principles and mindful of her office, has done nothing with greater zeal and endeavour than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. Hence she regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own. The Arians, the Montanists, the Novatians, the Quartodecimans, the Eutychians, did not certainly reject all Catholic doctrine: they abandoned only a certain portion of it. Still who does not know that they were declared heretics and banished from the bosom of the Church? In like manner were condemned all authors of heretical tenets who followed them in subsequent ages. "There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition" (Auctor Tract. de Fide Orthodoxa contra Arianos).
The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium. Epiphanius, Augustine, Theodore :, drew up a long list of the heresies of their times. St. Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one of which, should any one give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. "No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or may arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic" (S. Augustinus, De Haeresibus, n. 88).
The need of this divinely instituted means for the preservation of unity, about which we speak is urged by St. Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians. In this he first admonishes them to preserve with every care concord of minds: "Solicitous to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. iv., 3, et seq.). And as souls cannot be perfectly united in charity unless minds agree in faith, he wishes all to hold the same faith: "One Lord, one faith," and this so perfectly one as to prevent all danger of error: "that henceforth we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive" (Eph. iv., 14): and this he teaches is to be observed, not for a time only - "but until we all meet in the unity of faith...unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ" (13). But, in what has Christ placed the primary principle, and the means of preserving this unity? In that - "He gave some Apostles - and other some pastors and doctors, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (11-12).
Wherefore, from the very earliest times the fathers and doctors of the Church have been accustomed to follow and, with one accord to defend this rule. Origen writes: "As often as the heretics allege the possession of the canonical scriptures, to which all Christians give unanimous assent, they seem to say: 'Behold the word of truth is in the houses.' But we should believe them not and abandon not the primary and ecclesiastical tradition. We should believe not otherwise than has been handed down by the tradition of the Church of God" (Vetus Interpretatio Commentariorum in Matt. n. 46). Irenaeus too says: "The doctrine of the Apostles is the true faith...which is known to us through the Episcopal succession...which has reached even unto our age by the very fact that the Scriptures have been zealously guarded and fully interpreted" (Contra Haereses, lib. iv., cap. 33, n. 8). And Tertullian: "It is therefore clear that all doctrine which agrees with that of the Apostolic churches - the matrices and original centres of the faith, must be looked upon as the truth, holding without hesitation that the Church received it from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ and Christ from God....We are in communion with the Apostolic churches, and by the very fact that they agree amongst themselves we have a testimony of the truth" (De Praescrip., cap. xxxi). And so Hilary: "Christ teaching from the ship signifies that those who are outside the Church can never grasp the divine teaching; for the ship typifies the Church where the word of life is deposited and preached. Those who are outside are like sterile and worthless sand: they cannot comprehend" (Comment. in Matt. xiii., n. 1). Rufinus praises Gregory of Nazianzum and Basil because "they studied the text of Holy Scripture alone, and took the interpretation of its meaning not from their own inner consciousness, but from the writings and on the authority of the ancients, who in their turn, as it is clear, took their rule for understanding the meaning from the Apostolic succession" (Hist. Eccl., lib. ii., cap. 9).
"This unity cannot be broken, nor the one body divided by the separation of its constituent parts." To assert that "unity" does not exist in the "church" is to deny the Divine Constitution of the Church, that she is one and indivisible. Those outside of her maternal bosom need to be converted to the true Faith. Alas, this is not in the Modernist mind or heart of Benedict XVI, who admitted in his General Audience address of yesterday, December 6, 2006, the Feast of Saint Nicholas, that he prayed in the mosque "to the only Lord of heaven and earth, merciful Father of the whole of humanity, and implored that all believers might recognize themselves as creatures and give witness of authentic fraternity!" It does not occur to Joseph Ratzinger even in his private prayers to pray for the unconditional conversion of all people, including Mohammedans to the Catholic Church. What further proof is necessary of the thoroughly un-Catholic nature of this man's mind? He does not believe that souls who are outside of the Catholic Church are imperiled unto their eternal salvation.
The former Joseph Ratzinger has never believed it to be necessary to seek with urgency the conversion of those outside of the Catholic Church to her maternal bosom. He specifically rejects the "theology of the return," which prompted the great saint of Charity himself, Saint Francis de Sales, to seek with great urgency the conversion of those who had gone over to Protestantism. And the entire corpus of Joseph Ratzinger's writing and speeches shows itself to be at odds with the spirit of Saint Vincent Ferrer, who sought to convert Talmudic Jews and Mohammedans and anyone and everyone else into the Catholic Church.
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.
Saint Vincent Ferrer converted over 25,000 Jews to the Catholic Faith, most of them in Spain. He 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 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 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 a priest for old-fashioned convert-instruction classes. Some persevered to the point of conversion, others did not, at least not to my knowledge. The 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 Mass of Tradition according to the Dominican Rite, the time he spent before the 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.
Pope Leo XIII put it this way in Sapientiae Christianae, January 10, 1890:
The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power. For, as is often said, with the greatest truth, there is nothing so hurtful to Christian wisdom as that it should not be known, since it possesses, when loyally received, inherent power to drive away error. So soon as Catholic truth is apprehended by a simple and unprejudiced soul, reason yields assent. Now, faith, as a virtue, is a great boon of divine grace and goodness; nevertheless, the objects themselves to which faith is to be applied are scarcely known in any other way than through the hearing. "How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Faith then cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."
Since, then, faith is necessary for salvation, it follows that the word of Christ must be preached. The office, indeed, of preaching, that is, of teaching, lies by divine right in the province of the pastors, namely, of the bishops whom "the Holy Spirit has placed to rule the Church of God." It belongs, above all, to the Roman Pontiff, vicar of Jesus Christ, established as head of the universal Church, teacher of all that pertains to morals and faith.
No one, however, must entertain the notion that private individuals are prevented from taking some active part in this duty of teaching, especially those on whom God has bestowed gifts of mind with the strong wish of rendering themselves useful. These, so often as circumstances demand, may take upon themselves, not, indeed, the office of the pastor, but the task of communicating to others what they have themselves received, becoming, as it were, living echoes of their masters in the faith. Such co-operation on the part of the laity has seemed to the Fathers of the Vatican Council so opportune and fruitful of good that they thought well to invite it. "All faithful Christians, but those chiefly who are in a prominent position, or engaged in teaching, we entreat, by the compassion of Jesus Christ, and enjoin by the authority of the same God and Savior, that they bring aid to ward off and eliminate these errors from holy Church, and contribute their zealous help in spreading abroad the light of undefiled faith.'' Let each one, therefore, bear in mind that he both can and should, so far as may be, preach the Catholic faith by the authority of his example, and by open and constant profession of the obligations it imposes. In respect, consequently, to the duties that bind us to God and the Church, it should be borne earnestly in mind that in propagating Christian truth and warding off errors the zeal of the laity should, as far as possible, be brought actively into play.
The process of conversion starts with ourselves. We must be converted on a daily basis away from our sins. We must strive after holiness more and more with every beat of our hearts, consecrated as they must be to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, we do not want until we have reached the Illuminative Stage or the Way of Perfection in the interior life until we seek the conversion of our fellow sinners. God has arranged it that sinners must be about the business of seeking the conversion of their fellow sinners. He means to manifest the power of His ineffable graces in our own souls despite our own sins and shortcomings. Who are we to doubt His power to use us to be an instrument in seeking, formally and without apology, the conversion of others? Saint Ambrose, whose feast we celebrate today, work very hard to convert pagans and Arians. He received Augustine of Hippo into the Catholic Church with his own priestly hands. Would he have told Augustine that he was just fine in a "concentric" circle?
Benedict XVI feels free to ignore the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the seeking of converts to the Catholic Faith. Indeed, his own Secretary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, went out of his way on Tuesday, December 5, 2006, to state that the Catholic Church does not proselytize members of the Orthodox confessions in Russia (or anywhere else for that matter). How is this related in any way to the Catholic Faith that has been handed down to us from the Apostles? Benedict simply rejects, completely and utterly, the reiteration of Catholic truth found in Pope Pius IX's Apostolic Letter written specifically to Protestants by Pope Pius IX, Iam Vos Omnes, issued on September 13, 1868:
Surely you all are aware that We, who have been raised up, though without any merit, to this Chair of Peter, and therefore to the head of the supreme government and care of the entire Catholic Church of Jesus Christ Our Lord, have thought it opportune to call to Us the Venerable Brothers of the Episcopate of all the world, and to reunite them, in the coming year, in an Ecumenical Council; for preparation, with the same Venerable Brothers, calling you to share Our pastoral solicitude, those provisions which will prove more suitable and more incisive to dissipate the darkness of many pestilent errors which, wherever, with added damage of the soul, every day are more affirmed and triumph, and to always give more consistency and to diffuse in the Christian people, entrusted to Our vigilance, the kingdom of the true faith, of justice and of authentic peace of God.
Reposing full confidence in the most tightly bound and most amiable pact of union which in a marvelous way binds to Us and to this Seat the same Venerable Brothers, what testimony the unequivocable tests of fidelity, of love and of obedience towards Us and towards this Our Seat, [they] have never omitted to offer in the course of all Our Supreme Pontificate, we nourish the hope that, as it has happened in ages past through other General Councils, so also in the present age, this Ecumenical Council of Ours will produce, with the help of divine grace, copious and most joyous fruits for the greater glory of God and for the eternal salvation of men.
Sustained therefore by this hope, solicitous and urged by the charity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered His life for the salvation of all the race of men, it is not possible for us to pass by the occasion of the future Council without turning Our paternal and Apostolic word again to all those who, even if they acknowledge Jesus Christ the Redeemer and boast of the name of Christian, do not profess the totality of the true faith of Christ and are not in the communion of the Catholic Church. This being the case, we propose with all zeal and Charity to admonish, exhort, and beseech them for this reason to seriously consider and reflect whether the way in which they continue is that which is indicated by that same Christ the Lord: which is the way that leads to eternal life.
Nobody will certainly be able to doubt or deny that this Jesus Christ, to the end that the fruits of His Redemption might be applied to all the race of men, has built here on earth, upon Peter, the only Church, which is one, holy, catholic and apostolic; and that He has conferred upon her the power necessary to preserve whole and inviolate the deposit of faith; to transmit this same faith to all peoples, tribes, and nations; to call [elect] to unity in this Mystical Body, through baptism, all men, for the purpose of preserving in them, and perfecting, that new life of grace, without which no one can merit and obtain eternal life; wherefore this Church, which constitutes the Mystical Body, will persist and prosper in her own stable and indefectible nature until the end of the ages, and offer to all Her sons the means of salvation.
Whoever thus gives proper attention and reflection to the situation which surrounds the various religious societies, divided amongst themselves and separated from the Catholic Church - which, without interruption, from the time of Christ the Lord and of His Apostles, by means of her legitimate sacred Shepherds, has always exercised, and exercises still, the divine power conferred upon Her by the Lord - it will be easy to convince [them] that in none of these societies, and not even in all of them taken together, can in some way be seen the one and Catholic Church which Christ the Lord built, constituted, and willed to exist. Neither will it ever be able to be said that they are members and part of that Church as long as they remain visibly separated from Catholic unity. It follows that such societies, lacking that living authority established by God, which instructs men in the things of the faith and in the discipline of the customs, directing and governing them in all that concerns eternal salvation, they continuously mutate in their doctrines without that mobility and the instability they find one end. Everyone therefore can easily comprehend and fully reckon that this is absolutely in contrast with the Church instituted by Christ the Lord, in which the truth must always remain constant and never subject to change whatsoever, deposited as if it were into a warehouse, entrusted to be guarded perfectly whole. To this purpose, it has received the promise of the perpetual presence and the aid of the Holy Spirit. No one then ignores that from these dissentions [disagreements] in doctrines and opinions derive social divisions, which find their origin in these innumerable communions and which are always and increasingly diffused with grave damage[s] to the Christian and civil society.
Therefore, whoever recognizes that religion is the foundation of human society must be moved to confess what great violence has been wrought in civil society by the discrepancy of principles and the division of religious societies which fight amongst themselves, and with what force the refusal of the authority willed by God for governing the convictions of the intellect of men through the direction of the actions of men, as much in private life as in social life, has provoked, promoted and fed the lamentable of the things and of the times which agitate and plague [afflict] in this way nearly all peoples.
It is for this reason that so many who do not share “the communion and the truth of the Catholic Church” must make use of the occasion of the Council, by the means of the Catholic Church, which received in Her bosom their ancestors, proposes [further] demonstration of profound unity and of firm vital force; hear the requirements [demands] of her heart, they must engage themselves to leave this state that does not guarantee for them the security of salvation. She does not hesitate to raise to the Lord of mercy most fervent prayers to tear down of the walls of division, to dissipate the haze of errors, and lead them back within holy Mother Church, where their Ancestors found salutary pastures of life; where, in an exclusive way, is conserved and transmitted whole the doctrine of Jesus Christ and wherein is dispensed the mysteries of heavenly grace.
It is therefore by force of the right of Our supreme Apostolic ministry, entrusted to us by the same Christ the Lord, which, having to carry out with [supreme] participation all the duties of the good Shepherd and to follow and embrace with paternal love all the men of the world, we send this Letter of Ours to all the Christians from whom We are separated, with which we exhort them warmly and beseech them with insistence to hasten to return to the one fold of Christ; we desire in fact from the depths of the heart their salvation in Christ Jesus, and we fear having to render an account one day to Him, Our Judge, if, through some possibility, we have not pointed out and prepared the way for them to attain eternal salvation. In all Our prayers and supplications, with thankfulness, day and night we never omit to ask for them, with humble insistence, from the eternal Shepherd of souls the abundance of goods and heavenly graces. And since, if also, we fulfill in the earth the office of vicar, with all our heart we await with open arms the return of the wayward sons to the Catholic Church, in order to receive them with infinite fondness into the house of the Heavenly Father and to enrich them with its inexhaustible treasures. By our greatest wish for the return to the truth and the communion with the Catholic Church, upon which depends not only the salvation of all of them, but above all also of the whole Christian society: the entire world in fact cannot enjoy true peace if it is not of one fold and one shepherd.
Given at Rome, from St. Peter, on the 13th of September, 1868; in the 23rd year of Our Pontificate.
We are given a chance to change the lives of everyone we meet. We are called to do apostolic work at all times. No one is placed in our lives by accident. We should be about the business of handing out Miraculous Medals to shopkeepers and waiters and waitresses and people we might meet in a doctor's office. We should be about the business of handing out Green Scapulars. We must think eternally and act locally! There will be another day like today. The people we met today may not be there tomorrow. Each day gives us an opportunity to help the souls we meet on that day. We had better not waste it. We had better not imitate the practical indifferentism and scandalous bad example given by the conciliar popes and their cohorts, content to leave so many billions of souls on this planet live their lives outside of the Catholic Church.
Some will protest by saying that speaking directly might "close the door." Did the Apostles think that way? Why should we? God's graces to soften hearts by the use of the same approach taken by the Apostles are more powerful than the cleverness we think we have in devising plans to avoid discussing directly the necessity of another person converting to the true Faith.
We must pray constantly for the conversion of all non-Catholic relatives and friends. We have Masses said for them. We remember them in our Rosaries. We remember them during the Memento for the Living in the Canon of the Mass. Yes, we pray, pray, pray.
Action is also necessary, however. Saint John Bosco bribed stagecoach drivers to get them to confession. He gave candy to children. Saint Dominic Savio, who gave up his young, pure soul to God as a volunteer at Saint John Bosco's oratory, entreated some of the rougher boys at the oratory to go with him to confession after he had played games with them, understanding that even games were meant to be played with an eye on Heaven. Thus, for example, a lobster dinner for some fallen-away Catholic relatives or friends after they get their souls in good order in the confessional might not be a bad idea. You do not know what tomorrow will bring. Too many souls persist until the end in blindness. It really is, "Convert, or die!" We don't want God to say to us when we die, "Where are your family members? Where are you friends? Why did not you speak of the Catholic Faith to them?" Only the devil wants us to be silent about the Holy Name of the Divine Redeemer and the Catholic Faith. Why should we do his bidding?
Unfortunately, many Catholics today are influenced, whether or not they realize it, by errors of conciliarism, following the example of John Paul II and Benedict XVI and of the conciliar cardinals and bishops in not seeking the conversion of anyone at any time, indeed, in being obedient, as they see it, to the conciliar plea that Catholics NOT engage in proselytism with Jews or Protestants or the Orthodox or the Mohammedans. Thus we see how the rotten influence of the erroneous theology of Universal Salvation promoted by Benedict's mentor, the late Father Hans Urs von Balthasar, reaches into the lives of ordinary Catholics, convincing them that there is no need to seek the conversion of anyone, believing, wrongly, that all men will be saved. This is indeed part of "razing" the bastions of Truth Himself," proving once again that conciliarism is opposed to the very mission that Our Lord Himself gave to the Church to seek with urgency the conversion of all men to the Catholic Faith. Conciliarism spits on this Divine mandate and spits on the work of the Apostles and all of those who followed them up to 1958 by consider "prosleytizm" to be a pejorative term signifying a "triumphalist" spirit of pride rather than a humble submission to the will of God Himself.
Saint Vincent Ferrer's life work for souls provides us with the supreme Catholic example par excellence of how we must be about the business of saving souls from death. Benedict may believe it his "duty" to "raze" the bastions of Truth Himself. We, however, must erect those bastions and defend them against the conciliarists who are so cavalier with the souls for whom Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross.
Trusting in Our Lady's graces, what are we waiting for? Indeed, Our Lady has come repeatedly since her apparition in Guadalupe in 1531 to seek the conversion of all men to the Catholic Faith. Who are we to say that her pleas for conversion should go ignored in our "sophisticated" era of conciliarism? May we do penance on this Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, hoping that Our Lady will use the penance we offer her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as her consecrated slaves for the conversion of the whole world to Christ the King and to herself, our Immaculate Queen.
Vivat Christus Rex! Vivat Maria Regina Immaculata!
Our Lady, Immaculate Queen, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Ambrose, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us.
Saint Athanasius, pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, pray for us.
Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us.
Saint Dominic, pray for us.
Saint Basil, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, pray for us.
Saint Tarcisius, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Venerable Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Father Miguel Augustin Pro, pray for us.
Francisco Marto, pray for us.
Jacinta Marto, pray for us.
The Longer Version of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII, 1888
O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
Verse: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
Response: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
Verse: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
Response: As we have hoped in Thee.
Verse: O Lord hear my prayer.
Response: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Verse: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls.
A Brief Review of the Beauty of the Mass of Tradition and the Horrors of the Novus Ordo Missae:
1) The Traditional Latin Mass clearly communicates that it is a propitiatory offering for human sins, the perpetuation in an unbloody manner of the Sacrifice of the Chief Priest and Victim of every Mass, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, on an altar of sacrifice by a sacerdos acting in persona Christi.
2) The Traditional Latin Mass is oriented completely to God, starting from the first moment a priest makes the Sign of the Cross and prays Psalm 42, the Judica me, at the foot of the steps to the altar. The first thing the priest does in the Traditional Latin Mass is to address God and to prepare himself to ascend the "holy mountain" symbolized by the three steps leading to the altar (also signifying Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). The first thing a priest does in the Novus Ordo Missae after making the Sign of the Cross is to address the people, at which time he is permitted by the rubrics of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal to improvise with a few words of his own to "introduce" the Mass.
3) The Traditional Latin Mass reflects the permanence and stability of God Himself and of our need for Him. Although there are differences in the genres of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition (Pontifical High Mass, Solemn High Mass, Missa Cantata, Low Mass), the rubrics are fixed within each of the genres and are beyond the ability of the celebrant to licitly alter. The Novus Ordo Missae admits of so many legitimate changes and adaptations for a whole variety of reasons that to speak of it as a "fixed rite" is an absolute absurdity. It is not. It produces of its very fungible nature uncertainty and instability, the very opposite of what the worship of God is supposed to produce.
4) The Traditional Latin Mass contains prayers that remind men of their sinfulness and of the necessity of the possibility of losing their souls for all eternity. Cardinal Arinze wants to know why people think their souls are immaculate and are thus not going to confession? The Novus Ordo Missae reaffirms people in their essential "goodness." It is a rejection of the Church's centuries-old wisdom in mandating the faithful to perform outward acts of penance in order to discipline their souls. Doubt that this is the case? Doubt no more. Here is passage from G.I.R.M. Warfare dealing with Paragraph 15 of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal:
Paragraph 15 of GIRM reads:
"Thus the Church remains faithful in its responsibility as a teacher of truth to guard 'things old,' that is, the deposit of tradition; at the same time it fulfills another duty, that of examining and prudently bringing forth 'things new.'
"Accordingly, a part of the new Roman Missal directs the prayer of the Church expressly to the needs of our times. This is above all true of the ritual Masses and the Masses for various needs and occasions, which happily combine the traditional and the contemporary. Thus many expressions, drawn from the Church's most ancient tradition and familiar through the many editions of the Roman Missal, have remained unchanged. Other expressions, however, have been adapted to today's needs and circumstances and still others-for example, the prayers for the Church, the laity, the sanctification of human work, the community of all peoples, certain needs proper to our era-are completely new compositions, drawing on the thoughts and even the very language of the recent conciliar documents.
"The same awareness of the present state of the world also influenced the use of texts from very ancient tradition. It seemed that this cherished treasure would not be harmed if some phrases were changed so that the style of language would be more in accord with the language of modern theology and would faithfully reflect the actual state of the Church's discipline. Thus there have been changes of some expressions bearing on the evaluation and use of the good things of the earth and of allusions to a particular form of outward penance belonging to another age in the history of the Church.
"In short, the liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have been completed and improved in many respects by those of the Second Vatican Council. The Council has brought to realization the efforts of the last four hundred years to move the faithful closer to the sacred liturgy, especially the efforts of recent times and above all the zeal for the liturgy promoted by Saint Pius X and his successors."
Comment and Analysis:
Holy Mass is supposed to be suited to the needs of all times, not just our times. Herein, therefore, lies the real nub of the problem with the General Instruction to the Roman Missal and thus the Novus Ordo itself: a reliance upon the spirit of one particular time in history results in the glorification of the human spirit and not that of the Blessed Trinity. It is really that simple. God exists outside of time and space. The worship of God must convey, as noted earlier, the timelessness of God and the immortality of our own souls, which will live forever either in Heaven or in Hell once the Last Judgment has taken place. Again, as noted earlier, the Mass is supposed to be a refuge from the world, not a glorification of it.
"It seemed that this cherished treasure [ancient tradition] would not be harmed if some phrases were changed so that the style of language would be more in accord with the language of modern theology and would faithfully reflect the actual state of the Church's discipline."
Well, our ancient tradition is not the only casualty wrought by the changing of phrases of the Mass texts (Introits, Collects, Secrets, Prayer after Communion, the very Offertory Prayers themselves, the addition of first three and then five more new "Eucharistic prayers"). The very faith life of many Catholics has been harmed.
One of the reasons that the Sacrament of Penance fell into disuse is that the faithful are no longer reminded of their sinfulness in the prayers of the Mass. The faithful thus believe there is no need to reconcile themselves to the Father through the Son in Spirit in and in Truth in the hospital of Divine Mercy which is the confessional. No, one cannot sin as long as one's "fundamental option" is for God.
Indeed, as is noted in the rest of this book, a priest has many legitimate options by which to invite the people to express themselves in what is now called the Penitential Rite. A growing number of priests believe that "modern theology" requires them not to stress the sinfulness of the period and their need for God's forgiveness but to celebrate human goodness and to give thanks to God for all that He has given us. However, man's need to recognize himself as a sinner and to do penance for his sins is unchanging. The harm done to souls by the changing of the "style of language" in the new Mass is incalculable.
The concluding part of Paragraph 15 is a little bit akin to the old phrase, "The lady doth protest too much." All of the repeated attempts to state that the new Mass is a continuation of our liturgical tradition (which GIRM itself contradicts in the body of Paragraph 15, as noted in my discussion about the changes in the texts of the prayers of the Mass) are efforts to try to convince readers that the new Mass really, really, really, really, really is what GIRM says it is
The trouble with gratuitous statements is that they are made without foundation, sinking into the quicksand upon which they are made. They are efforts to justify a revolution which has undermined the faith and profaned the honor and glory due God in the Sacrifice of the Mass. GIRM is revisionist history writ large.
5) The Traditional Latin Mass contains the Offertory that clearly communicates the theology of the sacrificial, propitiatory nature of the Mass. The Novus Ordo Missae uses Jewish "table prayers" from the Talmud for what is called the "Preparation of the Gifts."
6) The Traditional Latin Mass conveys the dignity of the priesthood and its sacerdotal, hierarchical nature by the very structure of the Church. The sanctuary, reflecting the timeless of God and the fact that the Mass is the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary, is the "holy of holies" into only those males who are seen as the extension of the hands of the priest (who is a male because Our Lord came as a male) are permitted to enter and assist during the offering of Holy Mass. The faithful in the nave of the Church are thus set apart from the sanctuary, which is cordoned off, if you will, by the altar rail, signifying the distinction between time and eternity and the distinction between the sacerdotal priesthood of the ordained priest and the common priesthood the lay faithful by means of Baptism. There is no confusion as to the roles of the priest and the laity, clearly reflecting the hierarchy of God Himself and the sacrificial nature of the Mass.
7) The Traditional Latin Mass conveys stability in yet another sense: the same readings are read year in and year out. Repetition is the mother of learning. Knowing us to be such stupid and distracted creatures, God wants us immersed in the repetition of the same readings year in and year out, thus exposing us to the possibility of "getting it," say, after sixty or seventy years of hearing the same readings read year in and year out.
8) Finally, and please understand that this list is not exhaustive at all (I go into much greater detail in G.I.R.M. Warfare), that Catholics are less inclined to see the necessity of praying and working for the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King when the Mass at which they assist has dethroned His Kingly Dignity by instituting profane novelties (please see the horrors appended below) that actually enshrine the false values of the world. The Traditional Latin Mass conveys in all of its component parts, woven together so perfectly that it could not have been constructed by man synthetically, the Universal Kingship of Christ, Our High Priest and King. Make a mess of the Mass, make a mess of the Church and the world.
Cardinal Arinze, however, is caught up in the throes of a Revolution against the Faith, not realizing that he is involved in a revolution at all. He believes that there is some other cause for the decline in attendance at Holy Mass and the use of the Sacrament of Penance other than the warfare made against the perennial Tradition of the Catholic Church, expressed so perfectly and beautifully in the very Mass that Our Lord Himself taught the Apostles to say. He will search in vain for some other cause. Caught up in the Lockean trap of seeking structural solutions where none are to be found because none exist, Cardinal Arinze and his brother cardinals and bishops must convince themselves that have to "reform" a "reform" that was no reform at all but an attack on all that was authentically Catholic in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Doubt my word once again? Consider the words of Archbishop (then Monsignor) Annibale Bugnini, found in L'Osservatore Romano in March of 1965:
"We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Protestants."
This "Humpty Dumpty" has fallen apart because it has been a bad egg from the very beginning, part of the adversary's efforts to undermine the Faith and to get believing Catholics to battle with each other, sometimes fiercely, almost all of the time as the revolutionaries progress with their agenda that blasphemes God and harms souls.