Tag: Scripture

SCRIPTURE’S ACTUALITY

SCRIPTURE’S ACTUALITY posted in Eleison Comments on May 18, 2024

Around the Incarnate God the whole world turns, 

As Scripture tells. By scorning Him, it burns.

The latest issue of the news bulletin of the “Resistance” Seminary of the Society of the Apostles of Jesus and Mary, in Morannes in North-western France, has an admirable Editorial coming from that Society’s Superior, Bishop Jean-Michel Faure. It is not long. Here is the complete text – 

Dear Friends and Benefactors, 

Our Lord said to the Apostles, “When you hear of wars and uprisings, let yourselves not be frightened . . . . you will be hated by everybody, because of my name” (that is to say, because of your faithfulness to my doctrine) . . . . “by your perseverance you will save your souls . . . . When you see these things beginning to happen, raise your heads and look up, because your redemption (and your victory) is close at hand.” (Lk. XXI, 9, 17, 19, 28). 

Today we are witnessing the signs that announce the great events alluded to by Our Lord Jesus Christ, St Paul and St John: the Great Apostasy. Never before have the enemies of Jesus Christ had at their disposal so many means of destroying all faith and morals in the souls of children, youngsters and elders. “Crush the infamous (church),” Voltaire was already crying out in the 18th century to adepts of the infernal sect – “Let us pull down the throne (or monarchy) in order to pull down the altar (or Catholic Mass and Church), by secularism (television, internet, cinema), indecent fashions, and finally by infiltrating the Church, up to and including the Papacy, thanks to the Second Vatican Council. 

Modern history illustrates the stages of the great Apostasy of the Nations, the gestures and deeds of the agents of the Antichrist, his predecessors preparing for the Antichrist himself to come, getting ready the generation of men to applaud him when he comes (cf. II Thess. I, 8). A very recent document coming from Rome states that human dignity is infinite. Here is man pretending to set up his throne inside the Church, so as to enthrone himself there with the power of the Devil (II Thess. II, 4). 

As he pilgrims of Emmaus said to Our Lord, “Lord, stay with us, for the day is far spent” (Lk. XXIV, 29) (and darkness is covering the earth). 

Have courage, little flock – “I have conquered the world” (Jn. XVI, 33), by the Cross. The Kingdom of God has never been so close. 

Mgr. Jean-Michel Faure 

What is impressive here is first and foremost how relevant to our unprecedented calamities in Church and world of today are the plentiful quotations from a distant yesterday. Readers of these “Comments” are entitled not to have been impressed by the lack of authority of much more recent Messages purporting to come from Heaven to enlighten and encourage us in the coming battle, but let them at least open their Bibles to read again Matthew XXIV, Mark XIII and Luke XXI. There is no lack of divine Authority behind the text of the Gospels, there is only a lack of our realising, in the manner of Bishop Faure, how much that text can come to life in our present circumstances. 

Readers, to understand what is really happening around us and what we need to do, read regularly God’s own Word in Scripture, and not only the New Testament but also the Old Testament, where the multiple presentation of God’s goodness meeting the wickedness of men is the very essence of today’s events. 

Kyrie eleison 

Virtuous Pagans

Virtuous Pagans posted in Eleison Comments on October 22, 2011

On reading (EC 221) how the music of Brahms is proof of a certain greatness of soul, a young Brazilian reader asks if the wick smouldering in Brahms was not smouldering better than it does in a lukewarm Catholic (cf. Mt.XII, 20). The contrast is designed to highlight the virtue of the pagan and to question the virtue of “warm, lazy” Catholics. Of course pagan virtue is praiseworthy and Catholic lukewarmness is blameworthy, but a greater question lies behind: just how important is it to be a believing Catholic? How important is the virtue of faith? The answer must remain, it is as important as eternity is long.

That faith is a virtue of supreme value is evident from the Gospels. How often does Our Lord, after working a miracle of physical or spiritual healing, tell the person involved that it is their faith that obtained for them the miracle, e.g. for Mary Magdalene (Lk.VII, 50). Yet Scripture makes it equally clear that this meritorious faith is something deeper than just an explicit knowledge of religion. For instance, Roman centurions can have known little to nothing of the true religion in its day, the Old Testament, yet of one of them Our Lord says he has not found so great faith in Israel (Mt.VIII, 10), another of them recognizes as the Son of God the crucified Jesus whom the experts in religion had done nothing but mock (Mt.XXVII, 41), while a third, Cornelius, blazes the trail for all Gentiles who will enter the true Church (Acts, X, XI). What did these pagan centurions have that the priests, scribes and ancients did not have, or no longer had?

From beginning to end of all men’s life on this earth, pagans and non-pagans alike are constantly confronted with a variety of things good, all coming ultimately from God, and of things evil, coming from the wickedness of men. But God himself is invisible while wicked men are all too visible, so it is all too easy to disbelieve in the goodness or even existence of God. However, men of good heart will believe in the goodness of life while discounting, relatively but not absolutely, the evil, whereas men bad of heart will discount the good that is all around them. Now neither may have any explicit knowledge of religion, but whereas good-hearted men, like the centurions, will pick up on it as soon as it crosses their path, the bad-hearted will scorn it, more or less. Thus the innocent Andrew and John picked up immediately on the Messiah (Jn.I,37–40), whereas the learned Gamaliel took rather more time and persuading (Acts V, 34–39). Let us say then that at the heart of the explicit and knowing virtue of faith lies an implicit trust in the goodness of life and in whatever Being lies behind it, a trust that can be undermined by false doctrine or shaken for instance by scandal.

If we return to the case of Brahms, the question then becomes, did he have at least this implicit trust in the goodness of life and of the Being behind it? Surely the answer is no, because he spent the whole second half of his life in what was then the capital city of music, Catholic Vienna. There the beauty of his music must have led numerous friends and even priests to urge upon him the explicit fulfilment of that beauty in the profession and practice of Vienna’s religion, but all such appeals he must have refused. Therefore it seems all too possible that he did not save his soul . . . God knows.

Nonetheless we thank God for his music. As St Augustine marvellously said, “All truth belongs to us Catholics.” Likewise all beauty, even if crafted by pagans!

Kyrie eleison.

Atheists’ Theism?

Atheists’ Theism? posted in Eleison Comments on October 8, 2011

There is a fascinating quote of the famous German composer, Johannes Brahms (1833–1899), which shows how a man may have no religious faith at all, yet still recognize that there is an objective order. Such a recognition is a handle on reality, and it gave to Brahms access to a great deal of beauty, shown forth in his music. The crisis of countless modern souls is that they are convinced that there is nothing objective at all. They are imprisoned within their own subjectivity, which makes for a very bare prison, and for suicidal music!

In 1878 Brahms wrote for an outstanding violinist, his friend Joseph Joachim (1831–1907), one of his loveliest and most beloved works, the Violin Concerto in D. When he heard Joachim play it, he said, “Hmm – yes . . . it could be played that way.” In other words while Brahms was composing the Concerto, he had been hearing it in his mind’s ear being played in such and such a way, but he recognized that the somewhat different use that somebody else might make of his composition was also legitimate.

Now undoubtedly there are ways of performing the Concerto which Brahms would not have accepted, but so long as a performer made use of his composition to approach by a different way the goal he had himself approached in composing, then Brahms felt no need to insist on his own approach. The objective goal mattered more than the subjective approach, so that if by composing he had provided all kinds of performers with an access to that goal, then – within certain limits – they were all of them welcome to play the Concerto how they liked. Object above subject.

Ultimately that means God above man, yet Brahms was no believer. The Catholic Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak (1841–1904), friend and admirer of Brahms, once said of him, “What a great man! Such a great soul! And he believes in nothing! He believes in nothing!” Brahms was no Christian – he deliberately left out of his German Requiem any mention of Jesus Christ. Nor did he admit to being any kind of believer – he said that the Bible texts he had used in the Requiem were there for their expression of feeling rather than for any profession of religion. Subject above object. And to this professed disbelief on the part of Brahms corresponds, one may hold, the lack of a certain spontaneity and joy in much of his music.

But how much autumnal beauty it contains, and carefully crafted order! This craftsmanship and reflection of the beauties of Nature, for instance in the Violin Concerto, call to mind Our Lord saying how there are souls that deny him in word but honour him in deed (Mt.XXI, 28–29). Today when almost all souls deny him in word, how many there are that still in some way or other, for instance in music or in Nature, honour at least the order that Our Lord has planted throughout his universe. Such faithfulness is by no means yet that Catholic Faith which alone can save, but it is at least that smouldering wick which should not be extinguished (Mt.XII, 20).

Let all Catholics gifted with the fullness of the Faith have discernment for such souls around them, and let us have compassion on the multitudes being led away from God by his enemies, in music and in all domains (Mk.VIII, 2).

Kyrie eleison.

Peril Eternal

Peril Eternal posted in Eleison Comments on September 17, 2011

“Why are we human beings here on earth?” an old friend just asked me. I said, of course, “To praise, love and serve God, and by so doing to save . . .” He broke in – “No, that’s not the answer I want,” he said. “What I mean is that before I came into existence, I was not, and I was not in any danger. Now that I exist I am seriously exposed to the danger of losing my soul. Why was I given, without my consent, this perillous existence which, once given, I could no longer refuse?”

Expressed in this way, the question is serious, because it casts a doubt on the goodness of God. Certainly it is God who gives to each of us life and thereby sets before us the choice which we cannot opt out of, between the steep and narrow path to Heaven and the broad and easy road to Hell (Mt. VII,13–14). Certainly the enemies of the salvation of our souls, the world and the flesh and the Devil, are dangerous, because the sad fact is that the majority of souls fall into Hell at the end of their lives on earth (Mt.XX,16). Then how can it be fair for me to find myself in such danger by no choice of my own?

The answer is surely that if the danger was in no way by my own fault, then indeed life might be a poisoned gift. But if often the danger is in good part by my own fault, and if the very same free-will that when used wrongly enables me to fall into Hell, also enables me when used rightly to enter upon an eternity of unimaginable bliss, then not only is life not a poisoned gift, but it is a magnificent offer of a glorious reward out of all proportion to the relatively slight effort which it will have cost me on earth to avoid the danger and make the right use of my free-will (Is. LXIV,4).

But the questioner might object that none of those three enemies of his salvation are his fault:— “The world which incites us to worldliness and concupiscence of the eyes is all around us from cradle to grave, and can only be escaped at death. The weakness of the flesh goes with original sin, and goes back to Adam and Eve. I wasn’t around then! The Devil also existed long before I was born, and is running wild in modern times!”

To which one can reply that the three enemies are still all too liable to be our own fault. As for the world, we have to be in it, but we do not have to be of it (Jn. XVII,14–16). It depends on us whether we love the things of this world, or prefer to them the things of Heaven. How many prayers in the Missal ask for the grace to prefer the things of Heaven! As for the flesh, the more we flee from its concupiscence within us, the more it can lose its sting, but which of us can say that he has by no personal sin of his own strengthened the concupiscence and the danger, instead of weakening it? And as for the Devil, his power to tempt is strictly controlled by Almighty God, and God’s own Scripture assures us that God offers us the grace necessary to overcome the temptations he allows (I Cor.X,13). In brief, what St Augustine says of the Devil applies also to the world and the flesh – they are like a dog chained up which can bark but not bite, unless one chooses to go too close.

So there is indeed an inescapable degree of spiritual danger in human life, but it depends on us, with God’s grace, to control that danger, and the reward is out of this world (I Cor. II,9).

Kyrie eleison.

Tomato Stakes – I

Tomato Stakes – I posted in Eleison Comments on September 10, 2011

A little while back a family wife and mother told me she was having a hard time communicating with her husband. They could hardly talk to one another about what was going wrong without ending up mad at each other. Rightly or wrongly, I sensed that her problem was this universal, deliberate and diabolical denial of the marvellously complementary role designed by God for man and woman in marriage. Here is what I wrote for her. She said it helped her. May it help others. By the way, ladies, I do NOT think all the problem is on your side!

I am sorry to hear of a rough passage in your marriage. Rule number One: never argue with your husband in front of, or within earshot of, the children. They come first. You cannot help the family by pulling down your husband, or arguing with him in front of them. On the contrary.

Rule number Two: RESPECT your husband, even if he may not always deserve it. Women run on love, men on ego, a huge difference. That is why St Paul – WORD OF GOD – says, “Wives, obey your husbands, husbands, cherish your wives.” Huge difference! In any marriage where the husband shows love for his wife and where the wife respects her husband, normally the essence of a contented marriage is there. And if he does not show love for you, at least make yourself lovable, which you will never do by fighting with him.

Let it cost you what it may, respect your husband. He needs your respect more than he needs your love. You need his love more than you need his respect. Obey him. Never show that you are telling him what to do. Get him to decide to do what you want him to do. And for the wife to work outside the home is not a good thing, especially if she earns more than he does. If you have to earn, and do earn more, NEVER let it show. Disguise the fact. A man needs to see himself as the breadwinner, as the head of the house. You are the heart, just as necessary as the head for the family, maybe more so, but you are not the head. And if you are sometimes forced to act as the head, do not let it show, BUT DISGUISE IT.

I would be surprised if you could not make the marriage work. It usually depends on the woman to adapt herself to the man, and not the other way round. Russian proverb –“As the tomato plant is to the stake (around which it climbs),so the woman is to the man.” If he is not a stake, do all you can to make him into one. And if you cannot, then once more disguise the fact. God makes women more adaptable than men, so that they will adapt to their men.

You once said that the family needed money to educate the children. Has it occurred to you that the best and most important education of your girls is in their mother’s kitchen? Assuming that the mother is at home. You have much more to give your girls by your example than any school outside the home can give them. And give them the precious example of a wife and mother that obeys and respects her husband despite everything. Children are very observant. Your example is of crucial importance for the happiness of their future marriages and homes.

Argue with your husband if you like, but quietly, respectfully, and away from the children. And do not say, “I too have been out working all day long, I too need understanding at home.” For mothers to work outside the home is not normal, and the men sense it, even if it is their own fault. Men are what they are. This is the man that God appointed for you to marry. Give your children the example of respecting him. That is a precious gift, especially to your girls. All families today need a lot of prayer. Mother of God, help!

Kyrie eleison.

Benedict’s Thinking – II

Benedict’s Thinking – II posted in Eleison Comments on July 16, 2011

If one divides into four parts Bishop Tissier’s study of the thinking of Benedict XVI, then the second part presents its philosophical and theological roots. By analyzing the philosophy first, the Bishop is following Pius X’s great Encyclical “Pascendi.” If a wine bottle is dirty inside, the very best of wine poured into it will be spoiled. If a man’s mind is disconnected from reality, as it is by modern philosophy, then even the Catholic Faith filtered through it will be disoriented, because it will no longer be oriented by reality. Here is Benedict’s problem.

Like Pius X before him, the Bishop attributes the prime responsibility for this disaster of modern minds to the German Enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel KANT (1724–1804), who finalized the system of anti-thought, prevailing now everywhere, which excludes God from rational discourse. For if, as Kant claimed, the mind can know nothing of the object except what appears to the senses, then the mind is free to reconstruct the reality behind the sense appearances however it may like, objective reality is dismissed as unknowable, and the subject reigns supreme. If the subject needs God and postulates his existence, well and good. Otherwise, so to speak, God is out of luck!

Bishop Tissier then presents five modern philosophers, all grappling with the consequences of Kant’s subjective folly of putting idea over reality and subject over object. The two most important of them for this Pope’s thinking might be Heidegger (1889–1976), a father of existentialism, and Buber (1878–1965), a leading exponent of personalism. If essences are unknowable (Kant), then there remains only existence. Now the most important existent is the person, constituted for Buber by intersubjectivity, or the “I-You” relationship between subjective persons, which for Buber opens the way to God. Therefore knowledge of the objective God is going to depend on the subjective involvement of the human person. What an insecure foundation for that knowledge!

Yet involvement of the human subject will be the key to Benedict’s theological thinking, influenced firstly, writes the Bishop, by the renowned School of Tuebingen. Founded by J.S. von Drey (1777–1853), this School held that history is moved by the spirit of the age in constant movement, and this spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Therefore God’s Revelation is no longer the Deposit of Faith closed at the death of the last Apostle, and merely made more explicit as time goes on. Instead, it has a constantly evolving content to which the receiving subject contributes. So the Church of each age plays an active and not just passive part in Revelation, and it gives to past Tradition its present meaning. Is this beginning to sound familiar? Like the hermeneutic of Dilthey? See EC 208.

Thus for Benedict XVI God is not an object apart nor merely objective, he is personal, an “I” exchanging with each human “You.” Scripture or Tradition do come objectively from the divine “I,” but on the other hand the living and moving “You” must constantly re-read that Scripture, and since Scripture is the basis of Tradition, then Tradition too must become dynamic by the subject’s involvement, and not just static, like Archbishop Lefebvre’s “fixated” Tradition. Similarly theology must be subjectivized, Faith must be a personal “experiencing” of God, and even the Magisterium must stop being merely static.

“Accursed is the man that puts his trust in man” says Jeremiah (XVII, 5).

Kyrie eleison.