Serving Souls to the Point of Death
Thomas A. Droleskey
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration: Fulfill ye my joy, that you may be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment. Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vain glory: but in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves: Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men's. For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations; That you may be blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2: 1-11)
Although these words of Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians apply to all Catholics, they apply in a very particular way to priests, men whose immortal souls have been conformed to the Priesthood and Victimhood of the Chief Priest and Victim of every Mass, the Logos, the Word Who became Flesh in Our Lady's Virginal and Immaculate womb by the power of God the Holy Ghost, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A man ordained to the sacerdotal priesthood that Our Lord instituted at the Last Supper and conferred in all of its fullness, namely, the episcopate, upon the Apostles is called upon to be Christ at all times and in all circumstances.
A priest ordained to be "bothered," if you will, when he least wants to be disturbed, to administer the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction to souls who ask for them at odd hours of the day and night. A priest is called to bear a visible witness to his priestly calling in public so that those who have strayed from the Faith and those who are outside of the true Sheepfold of Christ that is the Catholic Church might be inspired to respond to the Actual Graces being sent to them to seek out the sure path of salvation. There is no such thing as "time-off" for a priest. His rest is meant to be taken only in eternity after he has spent himself to the point of death in the service of the souls for whom the One to Whom he has been configured by means of his priestly ordination shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross.
Some priests, especially those in the diocesan priesthood/presbyterate in the structures of the counterfeit church of conciliarism on the East Coast, treat their priestly calling as a "job," keeping meticulous track of their "duty days" and never answering the door or the parish telephone after a certain hour, something that unfortunately long antedates the conciliar era. Some of these men are true priests, having been ordained before 1968, and they know only too well about the problems of the Protestant and Masonic Novus Ordo liturgical service and of the whole ethos of conciliarism, but who prefer the creature comforts of their careers, reasoning that their false "bishops" are the ones answerable to God for the orders that they give to them to offer a "Mass" they know to be, at the very least, offensive to God and harmful to souls and for adhering to the conciliarist line in their preaching.
The path to career promotion (a pastorate in a plumb parish, the conferral of the title of monsignor at some point, possibly even being made a "bishop" and thus entering the conciliar "episcopal" "pipeline") rests in silent acquiescence to "orders" that require men who know better to violate their consciences, consoling themselves with the false assurance that they are not answerable to God for continuing to participate in matters that offend God and actually blaspheme Him by altering His truths with the lies and ambiguities of conciliarism. Some of these priests are quite gifted and very learned. Their compromise with the prevailing ethos of the day is at odds with the witness given by faithful priests during the Arian heresy and during the Protestant Revolt in England, to say nothing of the courage of priests of the Vendee in France and the priests in Mexico who were part of the Cristeros (standing these priests apart from the bishops and priests who sided with the revolutionaries in both countries in order not to "risk" their necks unnecessarily).
Other conciliar priests today are simply indolent, men who either accept the liturgical and doctrinal revolutions without complaint or who just don't want to give a thought to anything other than the perfunctory, slothful performance of the duties assigned to them. For example, an extern from India, assigned to a conciliar parish on Long Island in 1986, once refused to hear my confession (at a time I was driving between Illinois and Long Island every weekend while teaching at Illinois State University during the week and campaigning for lieutenant governor of New York on the weekends, also teaching a Saturday morning graduate course at Saint John's University in Jamaica, Queens) when I knocked on his rectory door. His excuse? "Oh, I cannot hear your confession now. I am watching the Wheel of Fortune. Vanna is about to turn a letter." As the door closed in my face, I said, "Yes, Father, as Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Himself would have said."
Even more sad to note, though, are those priests who despise the pursuit of personal holiness by not only making a mockery of the traditional, devout practices of the Faith and of the Deposit of Faith but by persisting in lives of unrepentant moral perversity. Far more of these priests have been elevated to the conciliar "episcopate" by Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI than defenders of all things conciliar want to admit. There is incontrovertible evidence about the manner in which the late Wojtyla/John Paul II repeatedly rewarded the perverts within the hierarchy, refusing entreaties made to him by priests well-regarded in the conciliar Vatican who brought him documentation about the corruption and perversity of one "bishop" after another. Not exactly the stuff of personal sanctity, to say nothing of the stuff of canonization, on the part of the perverted "bishops" and "priests" and on the part of the late Karol Josef Wojtyla. Joseph "Cardinal" Ratzinger helped to enable this process as the prefect of conciliarism's "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," having distinguished himself as "Benedict XVI" by appointing and promoting men to the conciliar "episcopate" men known to be, at the very least, sympathetic to perversity if not openly supportive of its social agenda of evil, evils that matter not one whit to Jorge "Social Work First, Social Work Last, Social Work Only" Bergoglio.
There remain, however, the unsung numbers of priests, both living in the catacombs and their deceased brethren who offered the same Mass and taught the same things as they do now, who have borne faithful witness Our Lord's Holy Priesthood, bearing with manly courage the crosses of their pastoral service to souls. These priests will indeed hear a confession at any hour of the day or night. They are unflagging in their devotion to the fullness of the Faith and have made great sacrifices to continue to offer the Immemorial Mass of Tradition to the faithful no matter what it has cost them insofar as career security or canonical standing. They are never "off-duty," always wearing a cassock or their priestly garb in public, willing to spend whatever time they need to speak to a soul placed in their paths by the Providence of God to exhort him to embrace the Catholic Faith.
These faithful, selfless priests spend endless amounts of hidden time before Our Lord in His Real Presence, which is the new Mount Thabor on which they can be more and more transfigured into the likeness of the One they image in every aspect of their lives, the One Whom they make incarnate under the appearances of bread and wine each time they offer the ineffable Sacrifice of the Cross that is Holy Mass. These faithful, self-sacrificing priests never consider it a burden to pray their Rosaries on a daily basis, doing so faithfully as they advance into old age. The very fact that any of us have the Catholic Faith is attributable to the fidelity of the priests who have eschewed all worldly honors and fleshly temptations to spend themselves as Our Lord spent Himself during His Passion and Death to redeem us. These priests thus understand that it is up to them to make it possible for us to have access to the life-giving treasures of grace that flow forth from Our Lady's hands and are made present by the working of the Holy Ghost through their own sacramental words and actions. We must commend our priests, both religious and secular, to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary every single day of our lives.
Priestly fidelity and zeal for soul cuts across all of the theological and fault-lines dividing the Church at present, which is why the true Catholic bishops in the catacombs must exhort their brethren yet in the conciliar structures to embrace the fullness of Tradition without compromise and thus to get themselves properly ordained so as to offer the faithful in the catacombs the proven remedies for all of the disorders caused by sin and the vagaries of fallen human nature. Men who have demonstrated a zeal for souls by maintaining as much fidelity as possible in the conciliar structures--and frequently suffering greatly at the hands of their own bishops or religious superiors and scorned and mocked by their brother priests--must come to realize that their priestly calling can only be exercised in its fullness in the catacombs, to say nothing of of coming to grips with the invalidity of their "ordination" at the hands of false "bishops." The faithful need the antidote to Modernity in the world and Modernism in the Church provided by the Immemorial Mass of Tradition and by the the fullness of the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church that is best expressed and protected therein. Recruiting zealous diocesan and religious priests in the conciliar structures to embrace Tradition and to reject conciliarism and its false shepherds should be uppermost in our prayers every day, and it should be uppermost in the work of the true bishops and priests who have long defended Tradition and are spending themselves entirely for souls in these truly extraordinary times of revolution and apostasy.
Think of all of the sacrifices made by those priests in the true Catholic Church in the catacombs who drive hundreds of miles and/or fly thousands of miles each and every week just to offer what is the baptismal birthright of every Roman Rite Catholic, the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, in places where Catholics do not have ready access to it. Indeed, the conciliar revolutionaries have taken away our right to assist at this Mass, forcing people to uproot themselves from their native areas to be able to assist at the daily offering of the Traditional Mass without making any concessions to the counterfeit church of conciliarism and the "terms" under which a "priest" may offer the modernized Mass of Tradition in its illegitimate structures.
The traditional priests in the true Catholic Church in the catacombs around the country and the world are the great heroes of the Catholic Faith in these our days. How much are they calumniated by the conciliar revolutionaries as "renegades" and "schismatics" for their fidelity to the fullness of the Catholic Faith, how little they are appreciated frequently by the very people for whom they spend themselves in their priestly lives. We just need to pray more and more that the witness given by these courageous, self-sacrificing priests will inspire those yet in the conciliar structures, including those offering the Mass of the ages under the terms of Summorum Pontificum, to embrace Tradition without compromise and to offer the entirety of the Catholic Faith while being able to resist openly and actively the entire ethos of conciliarism that comes from the devil, who wants Catholics to accommodate themselves to the errors of Modernity in the world and Modernism in the counterfeit church of conciliarism as natural and normal in their lives.
The saint who is commemorated today, Saint John Mary Vianney, lived all but three years of his life in the aftermath of the Revolution that would devastate his native country, France, and ultimately serve, along with the Protestant Revolt and the rise of the naturalism associated with Judeo-Masonry, to infect many within the Catholic Church by means of Modernism. Indeed, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI boasts of the fact that the "Second" Vatican Council represents a "reconciliation" between the Church and the "new era inaugurated" in 1789.
Quite to the contrary, Saint John Mary Vianney sought to protect his people of Ars from the effects of the Revolution so as to help them get home to Heaven. Spending endless hours in the confessional, this humble curate, who had such great difficulties in his studies to become a priest, spent himself as Our Lord spent Himself entirely for the salvation of souls. He pursued personal sanctity for himself and thus became a visible witness to his people as to how to love God as He has revealed Himself exclusively through the Catholic Church and thus have a chance to get home to Heaven by dying in a state of Sanctifying Grace.
Possessing none of the empty sentimentality born of Protestantism or the Hegelian views advanced by the late Father Hans Urs von Balthasar, Saint John Mary Vianney challenged his flock to abandon their sins and their many compromises with the world. He explained his priestly zeal very well in a sermon entitled, "I Come On Behalf of God:"
Why am I up in the pulpit today, my dear brethren? What am I going to say to you? Ah! I come on behalf of God Himself. I come on behalf of your poor parents, to awaken in you that love and gratitude which you owe them. I come to bring before your minds again all those kindnesses and all the love which they gave you while they were on earth. I come to tell you that they suffer in Purgatory, that they weep, and that they demand with urgent cries the help of your prayers and your good works. I seem to hear them crying from the depths of those fires which devour them: "Tell our beloved ones, tell our children, tell all our relatives how great the evils are which they are making us suffer. We throw ourselves at their feet to implore the help of their prayers. Ah! Tell them that since we have been separated from them, we have been here burning in the flames! Oh! Who would be so indifferent to such sufferings as we are enduring?"
Do you see, my dear brethren, do you hear that tender mother, that devoted father, and all those relatives who helped and tended you? "My friends," they cry, "free us from these pains; you can do it." Consider then, my dear brethren: (1) the magnitude of these sufferings which the souls in Purgatory endure; and (2) the means which we have of mitigating them: our prayers, our good works, and, above all, the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
I do not wish to stop at this stage to prove to you the existence of Purgatory. That would be a waste of time. No one among you has the slightest doubt on that score. The Church, to which Jesus Christ promised the guidance of the Holy Ghost and which, consequently, can neither be mistaken herself nor mislead us, teaches us about Purgatory in a very clear and positive manner. It is certain, very certain, that there is a place where the souls of the just complete the expiation of their sins before being admitted to the glory of Paradise, which is assured them. Yes, my dear brethren, and it is an article of faith: if we have not done penance proportionate to the greatness and enormity of our sins, even though forgiven in the holy tribunal of Penance, we shall be compelled to expiate them. . . . In Holy Scripture there are many texts which show clearly that although our sins may be forgiven, God still imposes on us the obligation to suffer in this world by temporal hardships or in the next by the flames of Purgatory.
Look at what happened to Adam. Because he was repentant after committing his sin, God assured him that He had pardoned him, and yet He condemned him to do penance for nine hundred years, penance which surpasses anything we can imagine. See again: David ordered, contrary to the wish of God, the census of his subjects, but, stricken with remorse of conscience, he recognized his sin and, throwing himself upon the ground, begged the Lord to pardon him. God, touched by his repentance, forgave him indeed. But despite that, He sent Gad to tell David that he would have to choose between three scourges which He had prepared for him as punishment for iniquity: the plague, war, or famine. David said: "It is better that I should fall into the hands of the Lord (for his mercies are many) than into the hands of men." He chose the pestilence, which lasted three days and killed seventy thousand of his subjects. If the Lord had not stayed the hand of the Angel, which was stretched out over the city, all Jerusalem would have been depopulated! David, seeing so many evils caused by his sin, begged the grace of God to punish him alone and to spare his people, who were innocent.
Alas, my dear brethren, what, then, will be the number of years which we shall have to suffer in Purgatory, we who have so many sins, we who, under the pretext that we have confessed them, do no penance and shed no tears? How many years of suffering shall we have to expect in the next life?
But how, then the holy Fathers tell us that the torments they suffer in this pale seem equal the sufferings which our Lord Jesus Christ endured during His sorrowful Passion, shall I paint for you a heart-rending picture of the sufferings which these poor souls endure? However, it is certain that if the slightest torment that our Lord suffered had been shared by all mankind, they would all be dead through the violence of such suffering. The fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of Hell, the difference between them is that the fire of Purgatory is not everlasting. Oh! Should God in His great mercy permit one of these poor souls, who burn in these flames, to appear here in my place, all surrounded by the fires which consume him, and should he give you himself a recital of the sufferings he is enduring, this church, my dear brethren, would reverberate with his cries and his sobs, and perhaps that might finally soften your hearts.
Oh! How we suffer! they cry to us. Oh! You, our brethren, deliver us from these torments! You can do it! Ah, if you only experienced the sorrow of being separated from God! . . . Cruel separation! To burn in the fire kindled by the justice of God! . . . To suffer sorrows, incomprehensible to mortal man! . . . To be devoured by regret, knowing that we could so easily have avoided such sorrows! . . .Oh! My children, cry the fathers and the mother, can you thus so readily abandon us, we who loved you so much? Can you then sleep in comfort and leave us stretched upon a bed of fire? Will you have the courage to give yourselves up to pleasure and joy while we are here suffering and weeping night and day? You have our wealth, our homes, you are enjoying the fruit of our labors, and you abandon us here in this place of torments, where we are suffering such frightful evils for so many years! . . . And not a single almsgiving, not a single Mass which would help to deliver us! . . . You can relieve our sufferings, you can open our prison, and your abandon us. Oh! How cruel these sufferings are! . . .
Yes, my dear brethren, people judge very differently, when in the flames of Purgatory, of all those light faults, if indeed it is possible to call anything light which makes us endure such rigorous sorrows. What woe would there be to man, the Royal Prophet cries, even the more just of men, if God were to judge him without mercy. If God has found spots in the sun and malice in the angels, what, then, is this sinful man? And for us, who have committed so many mortal sins and who have done practically nothing to satisfy the justice of God, how many years of Purgatory!. . .
"My God," said St. Teresa, "what soul will be pure enough to enter into heaven without passing through the vengeful flames?" In her last illness, she cried suddenly: "O justice and power of my God, how terrible you are!" During her agony, God allowed her to see His holiness as the angels and the saints see Him in heaven, which caused her so much dread that her sisters, seeing her trembling and extraordinarily agitated, spoke to her, weeping: "Ah! Mother, what has happened to you; surely you do not fear death after so many penances and such abundant and bitter tears?"
"No, my children," St. Teresa replied, "I do not fear death; on the contrary, I desire it so that I may be united forever with my God."
"It is your sins, then, which terrify you, after so much mortification?"
"Yes, my children," she told them. "I do fear my sins, but I fear still another thing even more."
"Is it the judgment then?"
"Yes, I tremble at the formidable account that it will be necessary to render to God, Who, in that moment, will be without mercy, but there is still something else of which the very thought alone makes me die with terror."
The poor sisters were deeply distressed.
"Alas! Can it be Hell then?"
"No, she told them, "Hell, thank God, is not for me. Oh! My sisters, it is the holiness of God. My God, have pity upon me! My life must be brought face to face with that of Jesus Christ Himself! Woe to me if I have the least blemish or stain! Woe to me if I am even in the very shadow of sin!"
"Alas, cried these poor sisters. "What will our deaths be like!"
What will ours be like, then, my dear brethren, we who, perhaps in all our penances and our good works, have never yet satisfied for one single sin forgiven in the tribunal of Penance? Ah! What years and centuries of torment to punish us! . . . How dearly we shall pay for all those faults that we look upon as nothing at all, like those little lies that we tell to amuse ourselves, those little scandals, the despising of the graces which God gives us at every moment, those little murmurings in the difficulties that He sends us! No, my dear brethren, we would never have the courage to commit the least sin if we could understand how much it outrages God and how greatly it deserves to be rigorously punished, even in this world.
God is just, my dear brethren, in all that He does. When He recompenses us for the smallest good action, He does so over and above all that we could desire. A good thought, a good desire, that is to say, the desire to do some good work even when we are not able to do it, He never leaves without a reward. But also, when it is a matter of punishing us, it id done with rigor, and though we should have only a light fault, we shall be sent into Purgatory. This is true, for we see it in the lives of the saints that many of them did not go to Heaven without having first passed through the flames of Purgatory. St. Peter Damien tells us that his sister remained several years in Purgatory because she had listened to an evil song with some little pleasure. It is told that two religious promised each other that the first to die would come to tell the survivor in what state he was. God permitted the one who died first to appear to his friend. He told him that he was remaining fifteen years in Purgatory for having liked his own way too much. And as his friend was complimenting him on remaining there for so short a time, the dead man replied: "I would have much preferred to be flayed alive for ten thousand years continuously, for that suffering could not even be compared with what I am suffering in the flames."
A priest told one of his friends that God had condemned him to remain in Purgatory for several months for having held back the execution of a will designed for the doing of good works. Alas, my dear brethren, how many among those who hear me have a similar fault with which to reproach themselves? How many are there, perhaps, who during the course of eight or ten years have received from their parents or their friends the work of having Masses said and alms given and have allowed the whole thing to slide! How many are there who, for fear of find in that certain good works should be done, have not wanted to go to the trouble of looking at the will that their parents or their friends have made in their favor? Alas, these poor souls are still detained in the flames because no one has desired to fulfill their last wishes! Poor fathers and mothers, you are being sacrificed for the happiness of your children and your heirs! You perhaps have neglected your own salvation to augment their fortune. You are being cheated of the good works which you left behind in your wills! . . . Poor parents! How blind you were to forget yourselves! . . .
You will tell me, perhaps: "Our parents lived good lives; they were very good people." Ah! They needed little to go into these flames! See what Albert the Great, a man whose virtues shone in such an extraordinary way, said on this matter. He revealed one day to one of his friends that God had taken him into Purgatory for having entertained a slightly self-satisfied thought about his own knowledge. The most astonishing thing was that there were actually saints there, even ones who were canonized, who were passing through Purgatory. St. Severius, Archbishop of Cologne, appeared to one of his friends a long time after his death and told him that he had been in Purgatory for having deferred to the evening the prayers he should have said in the morning. Oh! What years of Purgatory will there be for those Christians who have no difficulty at all in deferring their prayers to another time on the excuse of having to do some pressing work! If we really desired the happiness of possessing God, we should avoid the little faults as well as the big ones, since separation from God is so frightful a torment to all these poor souls!
All right! Lots of food for thought.
Saint John Mary Vianney was supremely devoted to the Mother of God, working to promote the Association of the Living Rosary with its foundress, Pauline Jaricot, the patron saint of us "failures" in the world (and this means that Pauline Jaricot is quite beloved by us in the Droleskey household!), who herself was cured of heart disease by Saint Philomena at her altar in Mugnano Italy and then prompted Pope Gregory XVI to declare her to be a canonized saint. Saint John Mary Vianney was so tenderly devoted to Saint Philomena, being unstinting in his efforts to spread devotion to her. How fitting that he died a week before Saint Philomena's feast day, on August 4, in the year of 1859. Saint John Marie Vianney, Cure of Ars, relied upon Saint Philomena to cure him of an illness in 1843. She performed the miracle for him, who was a true miracle worker in his own right, able to read the character of some of the thousands of souls who came to him from around the world to have their sins Absolved by his own priestly ministrations in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance.
Commending our true priests in the catacombs to the Most Sacred Heart of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, especially during this month of August, we must pray to Saint John Mary Batiste Vianney so that our shepherds will remain zealous for souls and absolutely faithful to the Deposit of Faith, speaking up forcefully against the errors and sacrileges and blasphemies of the day. And we continue to pray fervently to Our Lady for those priests who have embraced Tradition in these catacombs, both those who have been involved in the battle from the first hour and those who have joined it in the eleventh hour.
May our prayers, especially by means of praying as many Rosaries each day as our states in life permit, hasten the day when every true priest of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church will offer exclusively the Mass that begins with his addressing God, not us, and closes on most days of the year with the Gospel of the Incarnation, reminding us that the Mass itself is incarnational and that we are to make Our Lord incarnate in the world by our lived lives of fidelity to Him as our King and to His Blessed Mother as our Immaculate Queen.
Vivat Christus Rex!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
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.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Lawrence the Deacon, pray for us.
Saint Romanus, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us,
Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints