How to Break a Mother's Heart, 2004
ABC-TV's Nightline televised a story on Christmas night in the late 1990s that dealt with a young Catholic man, Stephen Dubner, who had found out that his parents had converted from Judaism to Catholicism. Horrified by this knowledge he learned in his twenties, Mr. Dubner decided to "rectify" the injustice of his parents' conversion by converting to Judaism. Mr. Dubner reached out to the then Archbishop of New York, the late John Cardinal O'Connor, to ask him how to deal with his mother's grief at his conversion to her former religion. Cardinal O'Connor did not attempt to dissuade Mr. Dubner from converting out of the true Faith. Indeed, His Eminence told his interviewer that "God is smiling on all of this" as the interview ended. This prompted me to write an article for The Wanderer entitled, "How to Break a Mother's Heart." The Mother was, of course, Our Most Blessed Mother, Mary ever Virgin.
Sadly, oh, so very sadly, another article by that name must be written on the cusp of Lent in 2004. One bishop after another is attempting to disparage Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ before it is released in movie theaters on February 25, Ash Wednesday. The same bishops who did nothing-and I mean nothing-to stop the influx of sodomites into the priesthood and who kept out well-qualified men because of their fealty to the Deposit of Faith feel compelled to put into question the historicity of the Gospels and to discredit The Passion of the Christ by taking the focus off of its moving account of what each of one of sins caused the God-Man to suffer in His Sacred Humanity as He paid back what was owed to Him in His Infinity as God: the blood debt of human sins. The same bishops who browbeat and used hard-ball legal tactics to discourage victims of sodomite priests from pursuing justice ecclesiastically believe that it is their sworn duty to point out the alleged inherent dangers in The Passion of the Christ. The same bishops who look the other way as teachers in their elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities and seminaries teach rank heresy and moral error in the name of "academic freedom" stand up boldly to denounce an effort to portray vividly the horror of our sins and the love and mercy of the Divine Redeemer. The same bishops who have enabled one pro-abortion Catholic politician by making one excuse after another jump up and proclaim themselves to be great defenders of all that is just by playing into the hands of the sworn enemies of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who have endeavored mightily to make The Passion of the Christ into a cause-celebre for the B'Nai Brith Anti-Defamation League. So many lies against The Passion of the Christ and basic Catholic truth have been told by the bishops and the keepers of the flame of Jewish-Catholic "dialogue" that Our Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart must be pierced anew with swords of sorrow thrust into it by her Divine Son's bishops and their chancery factotums.
Here is a simple thumbnail review of what is going on right now in the days leading up to the formal release of The Passion of the Christ:
1) The Passion of the Christ is not about assigning guilt for the Crucifixion of Our Lord. Some Jewish leaders want the public to believe that that is what the movie is about in order to discourage their own people from seeing the film. The reason for this is quite simple: just as the Jewish leaders of the Sanhedrin, who were moved by our sins to hand over Our Lord to Pontius Pilate for Crucifixion, feared that they would lose their influence over their own people if they professed Him to be what He is, the Messiah, so is it the case today that some Jewish leaders fear that some of their own people will convert once they see an historically accurate and riveting account of the Passion and Death of the God-Man, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is really that simple. Some Jewish people who view this motion picture might be moved to read the New Testament and to look into the patrimony of Holy Mother Church. Thus, a full-scale preemptive attack was launched by vocal Jewish leaders in order to demonize the motion picture as an exercise in anti-Semitism, which it is not and has never been. These vocal Jewish leaders are quite happy with the statements of leading American prelates and even curial cardinals that Jews are saved by the Mosaic Covenant, which was superceded by the New and Eternal Testament instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper and ratified by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Blessed Blood on Good Friday on the wood of the Holy Cross. They have gotten used to Catholic acquiescence to all of their demands, which implicitly amount to a denial of the necessity of preaching the Gospel to all men at all times in all places, including to the very people from whom Our Lord took His Sacred Humanity in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb.
Indeed, the tactics being used by some vocal Jewish leaders in opposition to The Passion of the Christ right now evoke those used by Jesse Jackson and other professional race-baiters. Those who dared to criticize Jackson when he first ran for president were denounced as racists in an effort to intimidate other people tempted to criticize Jackson into demurring for fear of having the "r" word used against them. Sodomites use a variation of this tactic today, claiming that anyone who criticizes the "gay and lesbian lifestyle" is guilty of the "sin of homophobia." Again, a tactic designed to intimidate all critics into utter silence for fear of having an ugly label attached to them. Thus, the Jewish leaders who are quite successfully intimidating some of our bishops are simply trying to say than any effort to proclaim the Holy Name of Jesus Christ in public or to engage in active proselytism is itself, in se, anti-Semitic. It's an old, old trick. But it is only that, a trick, and it should be denounced for the demagoguery that it is.
2) Jewish hatred of the Holy Name of Our Lord and of His disciples throughout the history of the Church is a nasty little historical fact that very few people, especially the Pope and our bishops, want to discuss. The Sanhedrin did deliver Our Lord over to Pontius Pilate. Its leaders reveled at His Death and spread lies following the news of His Resurrection. This same Sanhedrin sternly enjoined the Apostles never to mention the name of "that man," subjecting them to arrest and persecution over and over again. Saint Paul himself was a fierce persecutor of the Church. It was Jews throughout the Roman Empire who saw it as their sworn duty to point out the places of underground Christian worship to the Roman authorities. Come on, folks, let's face facts: Jewish persecution of Christians is a historical phenomenon, enshrined in The Talmud. These facts do not give one license to hate Jews or to will evil upon them.
A Catholic is called to will the good of all people, the ultimate expression of which is the salvation of their immortal souls. Our Lord forgave His executioners, which included each one of us, as He hung on the wood of the Holy Cross. Saint Stephen forgave the members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen who were stoning him to death. His prayers from eternity won the conversion of Saul, who had presided over his stoning. A Catholic forgives others, understanding that he is in constant need of absolution in the Sacrament of Penance. However, it is an irresponsible act to say that unjust, frequently violent acts against Jews by Christians, who failed to forgive others as they themselves had been forgiven by Christ Himself, through the centuries should cause us to ignore the fact that Christians have been persecuted mightily by many Jews-and that it has been the efforts of many Jewish leaders, some of whom have strong Masonic ties, that have sought with particular fury to silence the Church in this country on matters of public policy and to remove all symbols and references to Our Lord from public view. The war against The Passion of the Christ is just the latest chapter of this warfare against everything associated with the Divine Redeemer waged by His own beloved people, whose conversion en masse will be an important sign of end times.
3) Those bishops who have fallen into the trap laid by vocal Jewish opponents of The Passion of the Christ are demonstrating a signal lack of Faith in the historicity of the Gospels. Take, for example, the Bishop of San Jose, California, the Most Reverend Patrick J. McGrath. His Excellency wrote the following in the San Jose Mercury News on February 20, 2004:
"While the primary source material of the film is attributed to the four gospels, these sacred books are not historical accounts of the historical events that they narrate. They are theological reflections upon the events that form the core of Christian faith and belief.
"The reader can easily misunderstand the gospels when they are viewed through the lens of contemporary conceptions, attitudes and prejudices, as well as those of intervening millennia. The attribution of anti-Semitism to the gospel narratives is one such misunderstanding.
"It is a distortion by Christians who forget these facts: Jesus was a Jew, the apostles were Jews, the writers of the New Testament (as well as the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Scriptures) were Jews, and the audience for which the Old and New Testaments were written was primarily Jewish. It was not until several generations after the writing of the gospels before Jewish Christians (the first believers in Jesus) began to consider themselves not to be Jews. It is an inescapable fact that first-century Jewish writers would depict the drama of the passion of Jesus in light of their own perceptions. We, however, have a responsibility to history as well as to the present to bring a different understanding to our relations with one another."
The Saint Joseph's Men Society of San Jose cited the following two passages, one from the Second Vatican Council, that rebuts Bishop McGrath quite nicely:
" 'Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1)' from #19 of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) Promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965."
"The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office at the command of Pope St. Pius X issued the Syllabus of Errors (Condemning the Errors of the Modernists) on July 3, 1907 which officially CONDEMNED 65 modernist propositions, including #16: 'The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the mystery of salvation.' (See also #3,16,29 and 36)"
The statement by Bishop McGrath is indeed a prime example of Modernism. As the late Father William Heidt, O.S.B., explained in class at Holy Apostles Seminary in 1983: "It is vital for the modernists and modernist Scripture scholars to place the dating of the Gospels as late as possible. That way, you see, the modernists can claim that it was not the eyewitnesses of Our Lord's Passion and Death who wrote the Gospels but the "Christian community of believers" at some later point who were merely reflecting on what Our Lord might have said and done. This view is simply rank heresy. Plain and simple. Oh, it's the popularly accepted view in most of the world's Catholics universities and seminaries, to be sure. It's still rank heresy. The mere weight of numbers and the preponderance of theological opinion can never make that which is wrong and false right and true.
There is another interesting dimension to this point. If a bishop, who is a successor of the Apostles, can deny the historicity of the events in the Gospels, then it is easy for him to deny that the Mass is the unbloody re-presentation of the Son's one Sacrifice in Spirit and in Truth to the Father. This explains a hatred on the part of so many bishops, including Bishop McGrath, for the Traditional Latin Mass, which clearly and unequivocally communicates in all of its component parts the fact that the sacerdos who acts in persona Christi is offering a propitiatory sacrifice for human sins. And this explains why the Novus Ordo Missae, which is founded on the false presuppositions of the late Archbishop Annibale Bugnini and his fellow liturgical revolutionaries, is so dear to the hearts of men like Bishop McGrath. If the Mass is merely a "meal" whose real significance rests in the fellowship of the community of believers, then all of the vestiges of the past must be eradicated (Crucifixes, statues, stained glass windows, the altar rail, the altar of sacrifice, the traditional confessional, the tabernacle, kneeling, kneelers, silence, reverence, modesty of attire, the chapel veil for women) with special zeal and fury. And, obviously, a motion picture that recalls the historicity of the Passion and Death of Our Lord might actually encourage a few Catholic viewers to disdain the banality and profanation of the Novus Ordo to seek out the fitting worship of God and the complete expression of the Catholic Faith in the Traditional Latin Mass. Don't kid yourselves, folks. This is a major part of what is fueling the opposition of those bishops who seek to hide behind the cover of being seen as the enemies of anti-Semitism.
4) Once again, some of our bishops are missing a chance to exhort their people to reflect on the sufferings our sins imposed on Our Lord in His Sacred Humanity. The Archbishop of San Francisco, the Most Reverend William Levada, wrote that he would be viewing The Passion of the Christ through the eyes of a Jew, expressing the hope that all Catholics would do the same. There is a word for this: crazy. We are called to view all things through the eyes of the true Faith. Once again, this motion picture is not about the Jews. It is about the horror of our sins and the love and mercy of the Divine Redeemer. Thus, we have the sad spectacle of the archbishop of a major metropolitan see encouraging Catholics not to view The Passion of the Christ for what it can teach us about the sufferings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but to view it to see how Jews might be offended by it. What an abdication of pastoral responsibility. Then, again, if you don't believe that it is necessary to invite all people, including Jews, into the true Faith so that they can save their souls, what's the big deal about encouraging Catholics to view a movie about Our Lord not as Catholics but as Jews?
The Passion of the Christ is evidently a very good and graphic and moving depiction of Our Lord's Passion and Death. It will move some people and anger others, just as Our Lord Himself won disciples and enemies as He walked the face of the earth, just as Holy Mother Church used to be willing to do prior to the "new advent" of the "springtime of the Church" in the "civilization of love" that has characterized the past forty-five years. However, The Passion of the Christ is a movie. It is not the Mass. As useful as this motion picture will be to aid us in visualizing the Bloody offering of Our Lord on the Holy Cross, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass alone that communicates to us the horror of our sins and the love and mercy of Our Lord for us erring and frequently ungrateful sinners. And it is in the Immemorial Mass of Tradition that we find constant reminders and fitting, beautiful expressions of the fullness of the Faith that are universal and eternal in their ability to sweep us up to the horror of Calvary and the glories of Heaven.
May we, as disciples of Our Lord who understand how we broke His Blessed Mother's heart as He suffered to redeem us, call upon Our Lady in these troubling days within the Church to ask her to pray that bishops who have lost the Faith and who do the bidding of the enemies of the Cross of Christ will recover the Faith so that they will then lead all people, including the people of the Old Covenant, into the one sheepfold of Christ that is the Catholic Church.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.