Tag: Heaven

Infection? – Who?

Infection? – Who? posted in Eleison Comments on August 25, 2012

A favourite proverb of mine comes from China: “The wise man blames himself, the fool blames others.” Not that others are never to blame, obviously, but that I can usually do little or nothing to change their behaviour, whereas I am at least in theory in command of my own. As the Imitation of Christ has it, we rarely think with profit on the sins of others, always with profit on our own.

This age-old wisdom is called to mind by the letter of a reader of “Eleison Comments” (# 263) in which she complains of the “Conciliar infection” that she observes in the way in which Society of St Pius X Tridentine Masses in the USA can be celebrated by the priests and attended by the laity. If her dark observations are summarized below, it is not in order to overwhelm priests or laity with the darkness, but to suggest how each of us can examine his own behaviour.

In general she says that the “Conciliar infection” has been creeping into the SSPX chapels for some time. She goes so far as to say that the situation is deteriorating and desperate, and the damage is already done. It is as though Latin has taken pride of place over the Faith, as though anything goes if only it is a Tridentine Mass said in Latin. Not having understood – or retained – what the Mass really is, she says, the laity find it normal merely to attend. Many attend Mass daydreaming, and then they receive Holy Communion in a very disrespectful way, just like in the Newchurch.

She blames the priests for not having sufficiently explained the Faith or the Mass. As for their sermons, she wonders at times whether they understand what they are proclaiming and at times she finds that the personal ideas of the priest and the context of the sermon as a whole come over as Conciliar. Liturgical rules are not respected, rubrics are not consistent, the Canon of the Mass is hurried through. In brief she is not surprised if a number of SSPX priests and layfolk are ready to join the Newchurch, nay, may even already belong to it.

Now nobody in his right mind would claim that her dark description fits all SSPX Masses, but such is the corruption of our age that a deterioration of the kind she observes is all too normal. The corruption presses upon priests and laity alike, and it means that all of us need to observe closely how it may be creeping up on ourselves. As Sister Lucy of Fatima once said in the 1950’s, the laity can no longer rely on the clergy to do all the work for them of getting them to Heaven. In fact they never could do so, but a lazy “obedience” is still today a common temptation. If layfolk want good priests to lead them, and if they do not want the SSPX to go Conciliar, then let them observe their own household to put it in order – for instance, how do I myself and my family attend Mass?

As for us priests, let us not forget the dire warning of the prophet Ezechiel (III, 17–21) to pastors: if the pastors tell the people how they are sinning, and the people go on sinning, the Lord God will punish the people but he will not hold the pastors responsible. Contrariwise, if the people sin and the pastors do not tell them how they are sinning, then the Lord God will hold the pastors guilty for the people’s sins. “Judgment should begin at the house of God” (I Pet. IV, 17).

Therefore it depends on all of us to do what is in our power to prevent the SSPX from catching the “Conciliar infection.” That is today more easily said than done, but as St Paul says (I Cor. IV, 3–5), let each of us look to his own sins. It is God who judges.

Kyrie eleison.

Doctrine Again

Doctrine Again posted in Eleison Comments on August 18, 2012

The scorn of “doctrine” is an immense problem today. The “best” of Catholics in our 21st century pay lip-service to the importance of “doctrine,” but in their modern bones they feel instinctively that even Catholic doctrine is some kind of prison for their minds, and minds must not be imprisoned. In Washington, D.C., around the interior dome of the Jefferson Memorial, that quasi-religious temple of the United States’ champion of liberty, runs his quasi-religious quotation: I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. Surely he had Catholic doctrine in mind, amongst others. Modern man’s quasi-religion excludes having any fixed doctrine.

However, a sentence from the “Eleison Comments” of two weeks ago (EC 263, July 28) gives a different angle on the nature and importance of “doctrine.” It ran: So long as Rome believes in its Conciliar doctrine, it is bound to use any such(“non-doctrinal”) agreement to pull the SSPX in the direction of the(Second Vatican) Council.In other words what drives Rome supposedly to discount “doctrine” and at all costs to conciliarize the SSPX is their own belief in their own Conciliar doctrine. As Traditional Catholic doctrine is – one hopes – the driving force of the SSPX, so Conciliar doctrine is the driving force of Rome. The two doctrines clash, but each of them is a driving force.

In other words, “doctrine” is not just a set of ideas in a man’s head, or a mental prison. Whatever ideas a man chooses to hold in his head, his real doctrine is that set of ideas that drives his life. Now a man may change that set of ideas, but he cannot not have one. Here is how Aristotle put it: “If you want to philosophize, then you have to philosophize. If you don’t want to philosophize, you still have to philosophize. In any case a man has to philosophize.” Similarly, liberals may scorn any set of ideas as a tyranny, but to hold any set of ideas to be a tyranny is still a major idea, and it is the one idea that drives the lives of zillions of liberals today, and of all too many Catholics. These should know better, but all of us moderns have the worship of liberty in our bloodstream.

Thus doctrine in its real sense is not just an imprisoning set of ideas, but that central notion of God, man and life that directs the life of every man alive. Even if a man is committing suicide, he is being driven by the idea that life is too miserable to be worth continuing. A notion of life centred on money may drive a man to become rich; on pleasure to become a rake; on recognition to become famous, and so on. But however a man centrally conceives life, that concept is his real doctrine.

Thus conciliar Romans are driven by Vatican II as being their central notion to undo the SSPX that rejects Vatican II, and until they either succeed or change that central notion, they will continue to be driven to dissolve Archbishop Lefebvre’s SSPX. On the contrary the central drive of clergy and laity of the SSPX should be to get to Heaven, the idea being that Heaven and Hell exist, and Jesus Christ and his true Church provide the one and only sure way of getting to Heaven. This driving doctrine they know to be no fanciful invention of their own, and that is why they do not want it to be undermined or subverted or corrupted by the wretched neo-modernists of the Newchurch, driven by their false conciliar notion of God, man and life. The clash is total.

Nor can it be avoided, as liberals dream it can. If falsehoods win, eventually even the stones of the street will cry out (Lk.XIX, 40). If Truth wins, still Satan will go on raising error after error, until the world ends. But “He that perseveres to the end will be saved,” says Our Lord (Mt.XXIV, 13).

Kyrie eleison.

Free-will Valued

Free-will Valued posted in Eleison Comments on August 11, 2012

Concerning the drama of souls falling into Hell (and many choose to do so – Mt.VII, 13; XXII, 14), a reader raises a classic problem which can be framed briefly as follows. Either God wants souls to be damned, or he doesn’t. If he does want it, he is cruel. If he does not want it, yet it still happens, then he is not omnipotent. Then is he cruel, or is he not omnipotent? Which?

Let us establish immediately that God sends no soul to Hell. Every one of the many souls damned sent itself to Hell by the series of choices that it made freely during its time on earth. God gave to it life, time and free-will, and also any number of natural helps and supernatural graces to persuade it to choose to go to Heaven, but if it refused, then God let it have what it wanted, namely an eternity without him. And that loss of God, for a soul made by God only to possess God, is by far its cruellest suffering in Hell. Thus God wished that the soul might choose Heaven (“He will have all men to be saved” – I Tim. II, 4), but he wanted to allow the evil of its choosing Hell in order to bring out of that evil a greater good.

Notice the use made here of the two English words, “wish” and “want.” To “want” something is more full-blooded than merely to “wish” it. Thus a family father may well not wish his son to suffer harsh experience in life, but in view of all the circumstances he can want to let him suffer because he knows that that is the only way his son will learn. Similarly in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father did not wish to let his younger son leave home and squander his heritage, but he wanted to let him do so because that is what the father in fact did, and good did come of it – the return home of the son, now repentant, a sadder but wiser young man.

In the same way God wishes on the one hand all souls to be saved, because that is what he created them for, and that is why he died for all of them on the Cross, where one large part of his suffering lay precisely in his knowing how many souls would not choose to profit by their Redemption to be saved. Such a God can in no way be considered or called cruel! On the other hand God does not want all souls to be saved unless they also want it, because if he did, they would all be saved, because he is all-powerful, or omnipotent. But, given all the circumstances, that would mean in effect overriding the free choice of those who, left to themselves, would choose not to be saved, and that would mean trampling on their free-will. Now just see how passionately men themselves value their free-will, when you see how they dislike being given orders or like being independent. They know that their free-will is the proof that they are not just animals or robots. So God too prefers his Heaven to be populated with men and not just with animals or robots, and that is why he does not want all men to be saved unless they also want it.

Yet God does not want souls to be damned, because that again would be cruelty on his part. He only wants to allow them to be damned, in view of the circumstances that souls will thus have the eternity of their own choice, and he will have a Heaven of human beings and not just animals or robots.

Thus his wish to save all souls means that he is by no means cruel, while the damnation of many souls proves on his part not a lack of omnipotence, but a choice to value his creatures’ free-will, and the infinite delight that he takes in rewarding with Heaven souls that have chosen to love him on earth.

Mother of God, now and in the hour of my death, help me to love your Son and to choose Heaven!

Kyrie eleison.

Flowers Speak

Flowers Speak posted in Eleison Comments on June 2, 2012

God is infinite Being, infinite Truth, infinite Goodness, infinitely just and infinitely merciful. So teaches his Church, and the idea is grand and beautiful, so I have no objection. But then I learn that his Church also teaches that for just one mortal sin the soul can be damned for all eternity to sufferings harsh and cruel beyond all imagination, and that is not so nice. I begin to object.

For instance, I was never consulted before my parents decided to bring me into existence, nor was I consulted on the terms of the contract, so to speak, of my existence. Had I been consulted I might well have objected to such an extreme alternative between unimaginable bliss and unimaginable torment as the Church teaches, both without end. I might have accepted a rather more moderate “contract,” whereby in exchange for a shortened Heaven I would have faced the risk of only an abbreviated Hell, but I was not consulted. An endlessness of either seems to me to be out of all proportion to this brief life of mine on earth: 10, 20, 50 even 90 years are here today, gone tomorrow. All flesh is like grass – “In the morning man shall flourish . . . in the evening he shall fall, grow dry and wither” (Ps. LXXXIX, 6). Along this line of thought God seems so unjust that I seriously wonder if he really exists.

The problem obliges us to reflect. Let us suppose that God does exist; that he is as just as his Church says he is; that it is unjust to impose upon anybody a heavy burden without that person’s consent; that this life is brief, a mere puff of smoke compared with what eternity must be; that nobody can be in justice due for a terrible punishment if he has not been aware of committing a terrible crime. Then how can the supposed God be just? If he is just, then logically every soul reaching the age of reason must live long enough at least to know the choice for eternity that it is making, and the import of that choice. Yet how is that possible for instance in today’s world, where God is so universally neglected and unknown in the life of individuals, families and States?

The answer can only be that God comes before individuals, families and States, and that he “speaks” within every soul, prior to all human beings and independently of them all, so that even a soul whose religious education has been null and void is still aware that it is making a choice each day of its life, that it alone is making that choice for itself, and that the choice has enormous consequences. But once again, how is that possible, given the godlessness of a world all around us like ours today?

Because the “speaking” of God to souls is far deeper, more constant, more present and more appealing than the speaking of any human being or beings can ever be. He alone created our soul. He will continue to be creating it for every moment of its never ending existence. He is therefore closer to it at every single moment than even its parents who merely put together its body – out of material elements being sustained in existence by God alone. And the goodness of God is similarly behind and within and underneath every good thing that the soul will ever enjoy in this life, and the soul is deep down aware that all these good things are mere spin-offs from the infinite goodness of God. “Be quiet,” said St. Ignatius of Loyola to a tiny flower, “I know who you are speaking of.” The smile of a little child, the daily splendor of Nature at all times of day, music, every sky a masterpiece of art and so on – even loved with a deep love, these things tell the soul that there is something much more, or – Someone.

“In thee, O God, have I hoped, let me never be confounded” (Ps. XXX, 2).

Kyrie eleison.

Benedict’s Ecumenism – II

Benedict’s Ecumenism – II posted in Eleison Comments on April 7, 2012

As in any dispute involving the dreadful ambiguities of Vatican II, it might take long and scholarly articles to prove, or attempt to disprove, what Dr Wolfgang Schüler puts forward in his book of 2008 on “Benedict XVI and How the Church views Itself.” However, his main line of argument is clear enough, and it is well worth presenting to readers of “Eleison Comments,” to help them to see clear amidst much confusion. In this respect, comparisons have their limits, but they do help.

A whole can be composed of parts in two different ways, like a living tree, or like a pile of coins. Either the whole is primary and the parts are secondary, as with a tree, or the parts are primary and the whole is secondary, as with a pile of coins. The tree as a whole is primary because parts like branches may be cut off, but the tree continues to live its life as a tree and grows new branches, while the branches cut off lose their life and become something quite different, like a log or a chair. On the contrary each coin separated from its pile of coins remains exactly what it was in the pile, and if only enough coins are taken from the pile, it is the pile that perishes.

Now, is the Catholic Church, taken as a whole, more like the tree or the pile of coins? The Catholic Church is that special society of human beings who are united in that society by three things: the Faith, the sacraments and the hierarchy. To all three life is given by God himself. Faith is a supernatural virtue of the mind which God alone can give. The sacraments use material elements like water and oil, but what makes them sacraments is the supernatural grace they carry, that can only come from God. Likewise the hierarchy consists of natural human beings, but if these had no guidance from God, they could never succeed by themselves in leading souls towards Heaven.

Therefore the Catholic Church is much more like a living tree than like a pile of coins, even golden coins. For just as every living organism has within it a principle of life that gives it its existence and unity, so the Catholic Church has within it primarily God himself, secondarily his hierarchy, giving to it existence and unity. When what was a part of the Church cuts itself off from the hierarchy by schism, or from the Faith by heresy, it ceases to be Catholic and becomes something else, like the schismatic Orthodox or heretical Protestants. True, Orthodox believers may have kept valid sacraments, but since they are no longer united with Christ’s Vicar in Rome, nobody in his right mind calls them Catholic.

But now comes Vatican II. It changed the view of the Church, as it were, from that of a living tree or vine-plant (Our Lord’s own comparison: Jn. XV, 1–6), to that of a pile of golden coins. From the desire to open the Church to the modern world, the Conciliar churchmen began by blurring the frontiers of the Church (L.G.8). That enabled them to pretend that there are elements of the Church outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church (U.R.3), like gold coins separated from the heap. And since a gold coin remains a gold coin, then they could further pretend (U.R.3) that what were elements of salvation inside the Catholic Church remain such outside also. From which the natural conclusion drawn by countless souls is that I no longer need to be a Catholic in order to get to Heaven. This is the disaster of Conciliar ecumenism.

We must present these texts of Vatican II in a little more detail before we pass on to Pope Benedict’s efforts to combine the ecumenism which divides the Church with the Catholic doctrine that unifies it.

Kyrie eleison.

More Cheerful

More Cheerful posted in Eleison Comments on January 28, 2012

Your Excellency, please tell us something more cheerful!

God exists. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-just, but his mercy is also boundless. He is in perfect control of all that is happening in the world. Neither the Devil nor his human servants, including the criminals now running the world, can lift a finger without his permission. He knows every detail of their diabolical plans and is using every single one of them to fulfil his own Providential design.

But how then can he be allowing so much evil in our world? Because while he never wants evil, he wants to allow it, so as to bring out of it a greater good. Many prophecies indicate that out of today’s global corruption will arise tomorrow the greatest triumph ever of the Catholic Church, e.g. Our Lady of Fatima; “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” What is happening right now is that Our Lord is using his enemies to purify his Church.

But could he not have found a less unpleasant way of purifying his Church than for us to have us go through today’s unbelievable corruption? If it depended only on him, undoubtedly he could have found other ways of purifying his Church, but if you and I knew all that he knows – foolish thought! – and if above all you and I wanted, as he does, to respect the free-will that he gives to all human beings, then there is every likelihood that you and I would see that the way he is choosing to do things is the best.

And just what does man’s free-will have to do with it?

God does not want robots or merely irrational animals to share with him in his bliss. Now even he cannot give to his creatures a deserved happiness which they have done nothing to deserve, because that is contradictory and his power is over all being, not over non-being such as things contradictory. But if creatures are at least in part to deserve his bliss, then he must give them free-will, which if it is to be for real, must be able to choose the opposite of what he wants for it, and if it is really able to choose evil, then that is what will happen, more or less often.

But you say that the true Church follows Our Lord in teaching that narrow is the path to Heaven and few there be that find it (Mt.VII, 14). How can it be worth God’s while to have created, just today for instance, a mass of human beings, if only relatively few reach Heaven? How can so many falling into the horrors of Hell not be too high a price to pay for the relatively few reaching Heaven? Because God works in quality, not in quantity. That a mere ten men could have saved from his wrath the whole city of Sodom (Gen. XVIII, 32) proves how precious to God is one single soul responding to his love, over a large number that by their own free choice do not want his love. “I would have gone through the whole Passion just for you,” said Our Lord once to a soul. He would say it to any soul.

Do you mean that if, when the world worries and torments me, I merely stick all the more closely to God, then he takes account of it, for me and for those around me? I might almost want the world to be still worse! Now you are getting the idea!

Kyrie eleison.