Tag: Louis Cardinal Billot

Billot – III

Billot – III posted in Eleison Comments on January 4, 2014

The present leaders of the Society of St Pius X are working steadily and craftily towards inserting it into the framework of the mainstream Church, which is steadily and craftily pushing forward the Revolutionary and Conciliar ideals of liberty (religious liberty), equality (collegiality) and fraternity (ecumenism). Yet these leaders surely take Cardinal Billot seriously. They should meditate on his reflections on our Fifth Age of the Church which follow his exposition of the Seven Ages in the Epilogue to the first volume of his celebrated Treatise on the Church of Christ. Here are some of those reflections, freely translated and adapted from the Latin:—

“Our own age would then be the Fifth Age, Age of defection, apostasy and liberalism, coming between the end of the Holy Roman Empire and what St Paul calls aresurrection from the dead” (Rom. XI, 15). May it be so! It gives us all amidst our so many and so great tribulations of today(the Cardinal wrote in 1927 – what would he have written in 2013?) hope of a future restoration and – forgive the expression – Counter-revolution. Already today many leading scientists, politicians and economists are recognizing and freely admitting how poisoned are the fruits of the French Revolution of 1789, which proclaimed that the one and only source of all the world’s ills was scorn for the “rights of man.” What frivolity! What silliness! What stupidity!

“The Revolutionaries’ liberty results in tyranny of the strong over the weak; their equality results in a few millionaires lording it ever more over the people(one thinks of Wall Street, 2013!); their fraternity results in internal strife and class hatred. Some people grasp this, while many do not see the essentially satanic character of the Revolution. However those who go beneath the surface see that the religious question underlies all other questions presently agitating mankind: that the plague of political and economic liberalism arises from the atheistic and anti-Christian liberalism laid out above; that the social order can in no way be restored unless the Church’s principles once more direct public life.

“Would that this recognition of the theory might bear practical fruit! With all our heart we call for such a restoration, knowing how the pagan laws under which we are now living may still allow individuals to be Christian(in 2013, how much longer?), but they make a Christian society altogether impossible. Therefore we seek above all the kingdom of God and his justice, without despising the rest that will be added unto us(cf. Mt. VI, 33). As St Paul says of godliness that it is, “profitable to all things,” so too is the Church’s influence, “having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come”(cf. I Tim. IV, 8).” It is not difficult to see here how the Cardinal was not one of the many souls he mentions that do not see through the false glamour of the modern world. On the contrary his firm grasp of Catholic doctrine enables him to describe our own times, nearly a century later.

SSPX Headquarters, wake up from your foolish dream of converting the liberals now controlling the Church, and stop pretending with a flow of ambiguous Declarations that you are still defending Tradition. Your actions prove the contrary, and actions speak louder than a series of Declarations! You have the name of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die. Have in mind what you received from the Archbishop, and put it into practice, and do penance. Kyrie eleison.

Billot – II

Billot – II posted in Eleison Comments on December 28, 2013

It is not only by the names of the seven Churches of Asia (cf. “Comments”#) but also by the contents of the seven Letters addressed to them (Apoc. II and III) that Cardinal Billot establishes the connection between the Letters and seven main periods of Church history. Especially interesting in this respect is the Letter to the church of Sardis (Apoc. III, 1–6) which would correspond to our own Age, the fifth, the Age of Apostasy. After evoking the wealth, luxury and material prosperity associated with Croesus, famous ruler of Sardis, Billot writes:—

“As one might expect, this church seems to be in a state of spiritual decline. Apostasy and falling away are on all sides, but while the majority of souls abandon religion, there are a few who remain faithful to Christ. The angel says, ‘Thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments.’ But: ‘Thou hast the name of being alive: and thou art dead!’ The name (but not the reality) of life, knowledge, freedom, civilization, progress; and thou art dead, sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, because the light of life, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ, has been rejected. Hence the bishop of Sardis is told, ‘Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die.’ And he is above all recommended to cleave unfailingly to all the traditions of the holy Apostles, without in the least way departing from the meaning they held for the Church Fathers, with the excuse or under the appearance of a deeper understanding: ‘Have in mind therefore what thou hast received and heard: and observe, and do penance.’ So much for the Fifth Age. But what follows is a little more rejoicing.” And the Cardinal goes on to the Sixth and Seventh Ages.

Readers who have never read the first six verses of Apocalypse III in connection with our own times should be interested to do so. The connection is remarkable, and not co-incidental.

It is remarkable because “Strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die” corresponds exactly to the Counter-reformation saving Catholicism from Protestantism, to the anti-liberal Popes saving what remained of the Church from the French Revolution, to Archbishop Lefebvre (and others) rescuing Tradition from Vatican II, and now to a Resistance battling to save what can be saved from his Society collapsing into liberalism. Surely Catholics may take heart from this perspective, that their long and seemingly hopeless rearguard action comes from a distant past and does fit into an ultimately triumphant future. That is why we were given the book of the Apocalypse.

Nor is the connection co-incidental. Our Lord promised his Apostles (Jn. XVI, 12–14) that his Spirit, the Holy Ghost, would be with them and with their successors down the ages to reveal to them what they would only then need to know. It was only when the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) was ravaging Germany that the Venerable Holzhauser was given his understanding of the Seven Ages hidden within the Letters to the seven churches of Asia. Similarly it was only when the Russian Revolution was just about to break out that we needed Our Lady to assure us at Fatima that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph. True, the Church is right now being eclipsed (see on the Internet the film-clips of the public Mass celebrated recently in Brazil by the churchman in white), but there is still no need or justification for us to become liberals.

Kyrie eleison.

Billot – I

Billot – I posted in Eleison Comments on December 21, 2013

For years I have been giving a conference on the Seven Ages of the Church, based on the Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser’s Commentary on the book of the Apocalypse. Holzhauser, a German priest of the first half of the 1600’s, said that he wrote it under inspiration. The conference has been popular, especially because it fits the craziness of our age into a harmonious pattern of the history of the Church. What I had not realized, however, is that Holzhauser’s vision is shared by a famous classical theologian, making it more difficult to dismiss Holzhauser as a mere visionary or “apparitionist.”

It is in an Epilogue to the first volume of his classic Treatise on the Church of Christ that Cardinal Louis Billot (1846–1931) lays out in some detail the correspondence affirmed by Holzhauser between seven main periods of Church history and the seven Letters to the seven churches of Asia that make up Chapters II and III of the book of the Apocalypse. Billot’s Epilogue never mentions Holzhauser, but it is difficult to imagine that there is no connection. However, Billot takes care to start out the correspondence not from any vision or inspiration, but from the Greek names of the seven churches. The suitability of these names to the Church’s evolving history is either a remarkable coincidence, or more likely a trace of Providence at work – God, the Master of History!

Thus Billot says that Ephesus (Apoc. II, 1–7) signifies in Greek a “starting out,” obviously suitable to the Apostolic Age (33–70 AD) with which the Church began. Smyrna (Apoc.II, 8–11) names the second church and means “myrrh,” corresponding to the passion and sufferings of the Church’s Second Age (70–313 AD), that of the Martyrs. Pergamus (Apoc. II, 12–17) was a city famous for literature, so that “pergamum” came to mean material on which to write, corresponding to the cluster of great Church writers belonging to the Church’s Third Age, that of the Doctors (313–800). Thyatira names the next church (Apoc. II, 18–29), and means “splendour of triumph,” corresponding to the 1,000-year triumph of the Catholic Church, reaching from Charlemagne (742–814) to the French Revolution (1789).

These thousand years might also be reckoned from around the conversion of Clovis (496) to the outbreak of Protestantism (1517). But whether one marks the decline of Christendom from the Reformation or the Revolution, in any case Sardis, naming the fifth church (Apoc. III, 1–6), was the city of Croesus, a fabulously rich man, evoking an abundance of money, material prosperity and spiritual decadence, such as characterize modern times. Indeed the warnings to the church of Sardis correspond perfectly to our own age today, as we shall see with Billot in further “Comments.”

We move clearly into the future with the sixth church, that of Philadelphia (Apoc.III, 7–13), meaning “love” (Phil-) of “brotherhood” (- adelphia). Cardinal Billot has this name correspond to a last great triumph of the Church, marked notably by the conversion of the Jews as prophesied by St Paul (Rom.XI, 12), and by their reconciliation with the Gentiles, brothers at last in Christ (Eph.II, 14–16).

But the church of Philadelphia is warned that tribulation is coming (Apoc.III, 10), which corresponds to the seventh and last Age of the Church, that of Laodicea (Apoc. III, 14–22), named from judgment (dike) of the peoples (laon). It will be the Age of the last and most terrible trial of the Church, the persecution of the Antichrist, followed by the General Judgment of all souls that will ever have lived, and so of all peoples.

Kyrie eleison.