Gospel

Holy Week Lessons

Holy Week Lessons posted in Eleison Comments on April 13, 2019

No Gospel readings can be so rich in lessons as those of Holy Week. Here are a few references from the Passion of Our Lord, quoted in chronological order, having a particular relevance to our own time, that of the Passion of His Church.

Lk. XIX, 40: “If these (disciples) were silent, the very stones would cry out” – As Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the crowd is praising him loudly. Pharisees complain of the noise. But God’s Truth will be heard. As the SSPX falls silent, somebody else must tell the truths it used to tell.

Jn. XVII, 15: ”I do not pray that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from evil.” After the Last Supper, just before leaving the Cenacle, Jesus prays to His Father in Heaven for His Apostles, but not that life be made easy for them. So why should life be made easy for Catholics today?

Mt. XXVI, 31: “I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” On the Mount of Olives Jesus tells His Apostles that they will all fall away, and he quotes from the Old Testament (Zach. XIII, 7). Today with the Pope being crippled in his faith, the entire Catholic Church is more or less crippled.

Mt. XXVI, 40: “Watch and pray.” In the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is soon to be betrayed, He warns His Apostles to prepare by prayer for the hour of their trial. He says neither just “Pray,” nor even “Pray and watch,” but “Watch and pray,” because if they do not keep their eyes open, if they cease to keep watch, they will also cease to pray. Today the Church’s supreme hour of trial seems imminent.

Jn. XVIII, 6: “When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” As the Temple police close in on Jesus, he fearlessly identifies himself, and for one moment lets loose a single spark of His divine power – they all collapse. Another such spark could instantaneously rescue the Church today, but that would not win over men’s hearts. Today’s trial of the Church must be fulfilled.

Mt. XXVI, 52: “Put your sword away, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Peter is virile, he loves his Master, he absolutely wants to defend Him, but he has not understood Him – Jesus will be the King of Hearts, not the Knave of Clubs. Virile men today seek any action to defend the Church, as they are not content with “only” praying, but let them pray, or they will flee, as did the Apostles (v. 56).

Lk. XXII, 53: “This is your hour and the power of darkness.” Jesus is just about to be seized by the Temple police. He gently complains that they had not seized Him in daylight, when He was openly preaching in the Temple, but they had had to seize Him at night, when he was no longer surrounded by crowds to protect Him. Never in all history has He been so abandoned, have times been so dark, as today.

Mt. XXVII, 26: “And all the people answered, ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children’ Then Pilate released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to be crucified.” Clearly, the “people” here are not only the “chief priests and the elders” who “persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and to destroy Jesus” (v.26), it was the whole crowd in front of Pilate, about to riot (v.24), which made Pilate give way by their calling down upon themselves and their descendants the responsibility for the deicide (death of God in His human nature). Now this crowd was overwhelmingly Jewish, and the crowd identified themselves as such (“Us and our children”). Therefore the blame for the deicide rests upon those descendants unless and until collectively they recognise and adore their own true Messiah, but Scripture says this will only happen at the end of the world (e.g. Rom. XI, 25–27). Like a true Catholic, Leo XIII (1878–1903) called for the same blood to come down upon the Jews not as a curse but as a “laver of regeneration” (Act of Consecration of the World to the Sacred Heart of Jesus). Meanwhile, they serve God to scourge our apostasy.

Kyrie eleison.

Pathological Condition

Pathological Condition posted in Eleison Comments on August 17, 2013

The great Queen of Spain, Isabella the Catholic, is reported once to have commissioned a painting that would show a priest at the altar, a woman giving birth and a criminal being hanged. In other words, let everyone do what they are meant to do, and not something else. But these “Comments” suggested last week that today people are not being what they are: teachers often no longer teach, doctors often no longer heal, policemen often no longer protect, and – worst of all, I could have added – priests are often no longer men of God. A modern word used by an Italian friend to describe this maladjustment to reality, widespread today, is “pathological.”

Now “pathological” is a word belonging to that jargon of psychiatrists which is well named as “psychobabble,” because it dresses up in brand-new words, each of many syllables, what are merely good old miseries of fallen human nature. Now psychiatrists, themselves godless, cannot solve problems of godlessness, but at least they are trying, so to speak. So the novelty of psychobabble serves at least to suggest that the miseries being piled up in human beings today by the past centuries piling up the apostasy, do have something unprecedented about them. My friend writes:—

“Pathology may mean an occasional or congenital ailment, by extension an abnormal or distorted way of being, which, whether innate or acquired, has become part of an individual’s constitution. The same concept can be applied by extension to a group of individuals or a society. In this way one may speak of the pathological, i.e. sick, abnormal, condition of the modern world. As such, whether the condition is acquired or inborn, it is not seen for what it is by the person or persons concerned, nay, since they see it as normal they use it as a shield, and even boast about it. Abnormality becoming normal, and vice versa, is the drama of the modern world and modern man.”

Then we should find the priest neglecting the altar, women not giving birth and criminals not being hanged. But that is exactly the world around us – the psychobabble fits! So here is what the same friend has to say about how Catholics must react to this pathological condition of the modern world:

“Catholics must understand that we are living in an unprecedented situation in which all sense of objective reality is steadily being lost. This means for the Church that points of reference still valid 50 years ago no longer apply. Different solutions are called for which not only take into account the possibility of ever increasing disorder, but also remain elastic enough to adapt to a continually worsening situation. If then doctrine is primary and decisive, Catholics and future priests must be taught doctrinally how unique these end-times are. The Gospels tell us of their coming in the future, but they are with us here now, and they are liable to get only worse, until such time as God says enough is enough.”

In brief, centuries of increasing apostasy have piled up in the human race a refusal of reality which can be called “pathological,” and which is causing unheard of levels of distress in people, distress unalleviated by an equally unprecedented level of material prosperity. The Catholic Church fought this apostasy, but when at Vatican II it gave up the fight, the pathological fantasy took over the world, and it lurched towards the Antichrist. Archbishop Lefebvre created a fortress of sanity inside the crumbling Church, but now the same pathology is well on its way to taking over his Society.

Teachers, teach! Doctors, heal! Women, give birth! Priests, study everything that Archbishop Lefebvre said and did. And Queen Isabella, please pray for us.

Kyrie eleison.

Authority Crippled – II

Authority Crippled – II posted in Eleison Comments on June 29, 2013

Again I am being urged by a valiant participant in today’s Catholic “Resistance” to put myself at the head of it. The reason given continues to be that I am the only bishop yet taking any part in this movement of opposition to the internal collapse of the Society of St Pius X. But God gave the dying breath of true Church authority to Archbishop Lefebvre, whose successors have cruelly abused it. Why should he give it again? The crisis of the Church has far advanced between the 1970’s and the 2010’s. At the risk of annoying many of you, here are the good soul’s main arguments, with answers which I propose to anybody but impose on nobody –

1 The wide diversity of opinion amongst Resistance priests confuses the laity.* But to control opinions requires authority (see above). And maybe Catholics deserve to be confused after so many blindly followed Vatican II, and are now blindly following the SSPX. Maybe God has had enough of blind obedience. Maybe he wants Catholics to use their heads and think for themselves, and not just blindly “obey,” as a lazy way to Heaven.

2 In particular there is confusion over whether to jump ship, i.e. stop attending SSPX masses.* But why should one opinion fit all cases? All kinds of different circumstances can bear on such a question. Granted, to stay with the SSPX on its present false course involves a real danger of gradually sliding, but souls need sacraments, and by no means all SSPX priests are yet traitors. In France recently the first edition of a 350-page book, 90% of which consists of quotations from Archbishop Lefebvre, sold out in two weeks. It was put together by an SSPX priest, Fr. François Pivert. That is a positive sign of hope. God bless him!

3 The friction between Resistance priests could make the Resistance self-destroy.* There has always been, and there always will be, personal friction amongst priests. Doctrinal friction is much graver. It is doctrinal fidelity that mainly held the SSPX together until now, and doctrinal infidelity that is now destroying it. It is doctrinal fidelity that will guarantee our one and only Faith which is the basis of whatever will survive of Catholicism in the Church, or in the SSPX, or in the “Resistance.”

4 There is no Church without a head or hierarchy. God wants us organized.* Normally indeed there is no Church without head or hierarchy, but modern man has created an abnormal situation. Whereas the pagan centurion in the Gospels (Mt.VIII, 6–10) had a natural sense of how to command and how to obey (the two go together), “democratic” man has, in the name of liberty, wilfully unlearned how to do either. Thus arbitrary commands and excessive obedience are presently destroying the SSPX, as they have largely destroyed the mainstream Church. This is because both rulers and ruled lack the sense and love of that objective truth which is above both of them, and which when heeded has no difficulty in harmonizing their authority and obedience. Perhaps God wishes us to pursue doctrine rather than organization.

In conclusion, this exceptional trial of the Church will last for as long as God needs it to last for the purification of his Church. Meanwhile in the early 21st century there seems to me to be just not enough Catholic straw left to make a Catholic brick like the SSPX of the late 20th century. Patience. God will have his way. It is his Church, and he is looking after it. Patience.

Kyrie eleison.

GREC – IV

GREC – IV posted in Eleison Comments on April 27, 2013

A lady having read the first “Eleison Comments” on GREC (EC 294, March 2) wrote to complain that I misrepresented GREC, the Parisian group of Catholics founded in the late 1990’s to bring together Traditionalists and mainstream Catholics so that they could think and talk peacefully with one another for the good of Mother Church. I am happy to correct errors of fact which she pointed out. I have no problem admitting personal faults of mine which she highlighted. However on one major point I must disagree with her.

As for the errors of fact, Mr Gilbert Pérol was French Ambassador to the Italian government, and not to the Vatican. Also he was not a “lay collaborator,” but a personal friend of Fr Michel Lelong, a White Father. Also GREC was launched not “in the salons of Paris,” but in the flat of the Ambassador’s widow, Mrs. Huguette Pérol, who, I was told, takes full responsibility for having founded GREC, purely to help the Church, and with the help of people “competent and concerned to be faithful to the Gospel and to Tradition.”

As for my faults, she wrote that I was “full of myself” and “ignorant,” that I lacked modesty and diplomacy, that I showed insufficient respect for the dead, and that I wrote with a sarcastic tone befitting neither an educated person nor a priest. Madam, how happy I would be if these were the worst faults for which I shall have to answer before God. Do pray for my particular judgment.

However, as to the sarcasm, let me plead that if I mocked the nostalgia of Catholics today for the Catholicism of the 1950’s, I was thinking not of Ambassador Pérol in person, but of the multitudes of present-day Catholics, who, not realizing why God allowed Vatican II to split the mainstream Church from Catholic Tradition in the first place, wish to return to that sentimentalized faith of the previous decade which led directly to Vatican II! Madam, the crucial point has nothing to do with subjective persons, it has everything to do with objective doctrine.

That is why I must disagree with you as to the competence of the people helping Mrs Pérol to found GREC. That a professional diplomat like Ambassador Pérol should have resorted to diplomacy to solve major problems of doctrine is misguided, but understandable. That a Conciliar priest like Fr Lelong should have encouraged such a diplomatic undertaking is graver, but still understandable, given how Vatican II undermined all doctrine by officialising subjectivism within the Church. What is much less easy to accept is the “competence and concern for the Gospel and Tradition” on the part of priests who were trained under Archbishop Lefebvre to understand the doctrinal disaster of Vatican II. Such priests should never have encouraged, let alone taken any active part in, an essentially diplomatic effort to solve an essentially doctrinal disaster, however well-intentioned that effort may have been.

And yet, even in their case the French proverb to some extent applies: “To understand everything means to forgive everything.” The Archbishop was of an earlier and saner generation. They are all children of the world shattered by two World Wars. All credit to them for resorting to his person for their priestly formation, and while he lived he raised us all up. But they never truly absorbed his doctrine, and so once he was dead they began within a few years to fall back. But he was right, and they, and GREC – forgive me, gracious lady – are wrong. Please God they may come right.

Kyrie eleison.

Home Reading

Home Reading posted in Eleison Comments on October 20, 2012

When a while back these “Comments” advised readers to fortify their homes in case public bastions of the Faith might, due to the wickedness of the times, prove to be a thing of the past, a few readers wrote in to ask just how homes might be fortified. In fact various spiritual and material means of defending home and family have been suggested in previous numbers of the “Comments,” notably of course the Holy Rosary, but one fortification has gone unmentioned which I think I would try in place of television if I had a family to defend: reading aloud each night to the children selected chapters from Maria Valtorta’s Poem of the Man-God. And when we had reached the end of the five volumes in English, I imagine us starting again from the beginning, and so on, until all the children had left home!

Yet the Poem has many and eloquent enemies. It consists of episodes from the lives of Our Lord and Our Lady, from her immaculate conception through to her assumption into Heaven, as seen in visions received, believably from Heaven, during the Second World War in northern Italy by Maria Valtorta, an unmarried woman of mature age lying in a sick-bed, permanently crippled from an injury to her back inflicted several years earlier. Notes included in the Italian edition (running to over four thousand pages in ten volumes) show how afraid she was of being deceived by the Devil, and many people are not in fact convinced that the Poem truly came from God. Let us look at three main objections.

Firstly, the Poemwas put on the Church’s Index of forbidden books in the 1950’s, which was before Rome went neo-modernist in the 1960’s. The reason given for the condemnation was the romanticizing and sentimentalizing of the Gospel events. Secondly the Poem is accused of countless doctrinal errors. Thirdly Archbishop Lefebvre objected to the Poem that its giving so many physical details of Our Lord’s daily life makes him too material, and brings us too far down from the spiritual level of the four Gospels.

But firstly, how could the modernists have taken over Rome in the 1960’s, as they did, had they not already been well established within Rome in the 1950’s? The Poem, like the Gospels (e.g. Jn.XI, 35, etc.), is full of sentiment but always proportional to its object. The Poemis for any sane judge, in my opinion, neither sentimental nor romanticized. Secondly, the seeming doctrinal errors are not difficult to explain, one by one, as is done by a competent theologian in the notes to be found in the Italian edition of the Poem. And thirdly, with all due respect to Archbishop Lefebvre, I would argue that modern man needs the material detail for him to believe again in the reality of the Gospels. Has not too much “spirituality” kicked Our Lord upstairs, so to speak, while cinema and television have taken over modern man’s sense of reality on the ground floor? As Our Lord was true man and true God, so the Poem is at every moment both fully spiritual and fully material.

From non-electronic reading of the Poem in the home, I can imagine many benefits, besides the real live contact between parents reading and children listening. Children soak in from their surroundings like sponges soak in water. From the reading of chapters of the Poem selected according to the children’s age, I can imagine almost no end to how much they could learn about Our Lord and Our Lady. And the questions they would ask! And the answers that the parents would have to come up with! I do believe the Poem could greatly fortify a home.

Kyrie eleison.

“Rebellious, Divisive”

“Rebellious, Divisive” posted in Eleison Comments on September 15, 2012

The seventh chapter of the Gospel of St John has a special lesson for today: who are the real rebels against authority, and who are the merely apparent rebels? Who appears to be dividing the people of God, and who is really dividing them? Things are not always what they appear. It is necessary always to “Judge not according to the appearances, but judge just judgment” (Jn. VII, 24).

John VII is close to the end of Our Lord’s life on earth. The Jews are seeking to kill Jesus (verse 1), but Our Lord nevertheless goes up to Jerusalem and teaches in the Temple (14). The crowd is already divided (12), and so the effect of his teaching is that some people (40) recognize in him the prophet (cf. Deut.XVIII, 15–19), while others (41, 42) refuse him that recognition because he is from Galilee. So there is division and dissension. Now division as such is blameworthy, so who is to blame? Certainly not Our Lord, who is merely preaching the doctrine of his Father in Heaven (16–17). Nor can that part of the crowd be blamed which accepted the divine teaching. Clearly the blame for the dissension lies with the Temple authorities and that part of the crowd that was refusing the Truth.

Similarly in the 1970’s and 1980’s Archbishop Lefebvre divided Catholics by teaching and practising the truth of Catholic Tradition, but what Catholic that now boasts of being Traditional blames him for that division? Clearly the blame for the division of the Church lay neither with the Archbishop nor with those who followed him, but mainly with those Church authorities who were twisting the true religion, like the Temple authorities in Our Lord’s own day. Again and again the Archbishop pleaded with them to “judge just judgment” by confronting the central problem created by their Conciliar adultery with the modern world. To this day they refuse that confrontation. Again and again their only answer has been, “Obedience!,” “Unity!.” Does not their lack of arguments as to the basic questions of truth suggest it is they who are the true rebels and dividers of the Church?

Yet dissension as such is not a good thing, and both Our Lord and Archbishop Lefebvre knew ahead that dissension would follow on their teaching. Why then did they still go ahead? Because souls can be saved with dissension (cf. Lk.XII, 51–53), but they cannot be saved without Truth. If the religious authorities are misleading the people – and the Devil works especially hard on them because of their power to lead many other souls astray – then the Truth must be told to bring people back on the path to Heaven, even if dissension will be the result. In this respect Truth is above authority or unity.

And where is that truth in 2012? Vatican II was a disaster for the Church – true or false? The Church authorities who brought about Assisi III and John-Paul II’s “beatification” are clinging to Vatican II – true or false? And so if the Society of Pius X puts itself under those same authorities, they will use all their prestige, and the power over the SSPX that it will have given them, to dissolve its resistance to Vatican II – true or false? So the SSPX runs a grave risk of losing steadily whatever will it still has to resist that prestige and power – true or false? As Romans say, “Rome can wait”!

Then in the SSPX today, if one “judges not according to the appearance but just judgment,” who is it that is being truly “divisive”? Who are the real “rebels against authority”? Those who criticize such a risk of blending Catholic Truth with Conciliar error, or those who are promoting it?

Kyrie eleison.