Tag: Seven Ages of the Church

Church’s Entombment – I

Church’s Entombment – I posted in Eleison Comments on April 11, 2020

If Our Lady of La Salette and the Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser are to be believed, then what we are living through today is only the end of the Fifth Age of the world, it is not yet the end of the Seventh and last Age of the world. The Fifth Age is set fair to end in a great Chastisement, prelude to the brief Sixth Age which will be the greatest and most glorious triumph of the Church in all its history, prelude in its turn to the Seventh Age which will see the rise of the Antichrist, the greatest persecution of all Church history and the closing down of the world as we know it, to be mysteriously replaced by “new heavens and a new earth” (II Pet. III, 13). If this is what St Peter, the Ven. Holzhauser and Our Lady of La Salette meant, then certainly the Church will rise again from its present tomb well before it takes off at world’s end for Heaven. The question is, how will it survive in, and get out of, its present tomb?

The essential point to grasp is that the Church belongs to God, that the Church is directed by the Spirit of God, and that the action of this Holy Spirit is comparable to that of the wind which blows where it wills, we know it is there because we can hear it, but we know not where it comes from nor where it goes (John III, 8). Therefore God’s thoughts are going to be way above our thoughts as men, and we need to get used to, for instance, the first being last and the last being first (Mt. XX, 16). Thus from 1970 when the Society of St Pius X was founded, until 2012 when its leaders set conditions for the Society to go back under the Conciliar Romans, the Society was a front-runner in the defence of the Faith, but ever since 2012 it has been officially like a lap-dog of the Romans. The System had swallowed up the Society, and from being one of the first, it began turning into one of the last, because the Devil will not let it stop halfway down.

At this point many Catholics of Tradition wished with all their heart that a post-Society would arise to take the Society’s place. But a post-Society may well not have been the will of God. The 2010’s were no longer the 1970’s or 1980’s when Archbishop Lefebvre had been able to build the worldwide Society. The disintegration of hearts and minds was much further advanced than in the 1970’s, and since 2012 if anything it is speeding up. See how little common sense men have today, less and less all the time. Of course the grace of God can make integral Catholics out of disintegrated human beings, but God will rarely force men’s free-will, and so if men insist on turning their insides into the likes of a muddy marsh, the helicopter of God’s supernatural grace may not even try to land, for fear of disappearing in the mud.

Certainly God will maintain the Church through the 2020’s. By means of a “Resistance” movement with neither structure nor organisation, and with endemic strife between the members resisting one another? If all resistants share at least the same true Faith, their movement may yet be a front-runner in the defence of the Faith, and their lack of structure may even be an advantage if it means that there is no one head whose capture is all too liable to mean the fall of the whole structure, because modern man knows not how to obey or to disobey. And if those resisting have in addition a minimum of good sense and charity, then they may even get on together without having to devour one another. And if the “Resistance” is not a label to be proud of, that is not a bad thing either, because the situation has gone way beyond mere labels.

In any case what is vitally necessary for Catholics wishing to save their souls by keeping the Faith is to see how and why the world around us undermines and corrupts their Catholic Faith. It is not necessarily by lack of good will or of good intentions, on the contrary. Whereas the original Protestants were open and bitter enemies of the Faith, their successors, worldwide liberals, can be sincerely friendly towards Catholics just as long as Catholics share their deep down principle that truth can only be subjective; that there is only one Dogma, according to which all other dogmas are optional; that ideas do not matter; that “All you need is love”; that all religions have the same one God, and so on. This Dogma has become so instinctive that it is no longer even discussed, which is why it is so dangerous. Truth is ruled out of court even before it can set foot in the courtroom. But if there is no truth, how can there be a true God?

Kyrie eleison.

God Enlists

God Enlists posted in Eleison Comments on April 29, 2017

Fr Jean-Michel Gleize, Theology Professor at the Écône seminary of the Society of St Pius X, has written on burning problems of today two articles which throw interesting light on their solution. Firstly, can the Pope fall into formal heresy? Answer, maybe, because Popes have not always been held to be so free from error as they have been held to be in the last few centuries. And secondly, does the Papal document Amoris Laetitia show that Pope Francis has fallen into formal heresy? Answer, strictly speaking, no, but in effect, one may say so, because neo-modernism undermines doctrine while pretending to uphold it. This second question will have to wait for another issue of these “Comments,” but if Fr Gleize did not want to be caught between sedevacantism and liberalism, he had to broach the first question first.

In the first and shorter article, he says that from the Protestant “Reformation” onwards, Catholic theologians in general, notably St Robert Bellarmine, have held that the Pope cannot fall into conscious and stubborn denial of Church dogma, i.e. formal heresy. They quote Our Lord telling Peter to confirm his brethren in the Faith (Lk. XXII, 32), which presupposes that Peter cannot lose it. And they argue that never in Church history has a Pope fallen into formal heresy. On the other hand prior to the Protestant revolution, says Fr Gleize, Catholic theologians from the 12th to the 16th century generally judged that a Pope can fall into formal heresy, and this opinion has continued into modern times, albeit less commonly.

Fr Gleize concludes that especially in view of the Conciliar Popes, the later theologians have not proved their point. As for Peter always being protected by Our Lord from formal heresy, faith is an act of the mind pushed by free-will, and God rarely interferes with free-will. And as for Popes in history, Honorius for example was anathematised by his successors for having favoured the Monothelite heresy. This conclusion is for sure disputable and disputed, but if one looks at the question from the historical standpoint of the Seven Ages of the Church, it does make sense.

By three Ages (Apostles 33–70, Martyrs 70–312, and Doctors 312 to about 500 AD), the Church climbed to the Fourth Age, the 1,000 year triumph of Christendom (about 500–1517). But by the late Middle Ages the Devil and original sin were eating into Christendom, and men launched into the Fifth Age of Apostasy (1517-?), whereby degenerating Christians invented one form of hypocrisy after another (Protestantism, Liberalism, Communism amongst others) to pay homage to Christian virtue and civilisation even while “liberating” themselves for the latest vice, e.g. same-sex “marriage.” Now God could have made the Middle Ages go on for ever, but He would have had to interfere with free-will. As it was, He gave to His Church a special crop of Saints to lead the Counter-Reformation, and over the next half-millennium He obtained, to vary the population of His Heaven, a harvest of post-medieval Saints. But to counter-act the corruption of post-medieval man, God chose to re-inforce authority in His Church, so that souls wishing for salvation but no longer enough so by inner virtue, could at least be directed by outer authority towards Heaven. Then of course the Devil set to work especially on churchmen in high positions of authority and after nearly half a millennium it is as though the Lord God said, “If you do not want My Church, then have your own Newchurch,” and that was Vatican II.

So now Church authority is damaged beyond all human repair, and He will use some other means to wring out of our spiritually exhausted world yet another harvest of souls. A Chastisement will ensure the initial brilliance of the Church of the Sixth Age, but the Devil and original sin will have a human nature to work on that has been weakened in depth by the Fifth Age’s liberalism, so that it should not take too long to bring on the Seventh Age of the Antichrist. But that will be an Age of some of the greatest Catholics of all Church history – a crop of especially great Saints.

Kyrie eleison.

Divinity Transcendent

Divinity Transcendent posted in Eleison Comments on April 8, 2017

If ever there is a moment of the year when it is specially fitting to contemplate the suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that moment is surely today, on the eve of Palm Sunday, just before Holy Week. And that contemplation has become more necessary with each year for the last 50 years, because the suffering of Mother Church which broke out with Vatican II has become more and more scandalous, more and more mysterious. We all need to remind ourselves that God is mysterious, in other words that He goes infinitely above and beyond our little human minds. Otherwise we risk cutting Him down to size in order to fit Him into those little minds. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts” (Is. LV, 8–9).

This great lesson is taught in the fifth Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary, when at the age of 12 Our Lord allowed Himself to be lost by His Mother and St Joseph in order to remind them that He had to be about His Father’s business. His Mother could not understand – “Son, why hast thou done so to us?” He had caused three days of intense anxiety to his human parents – “Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” Our Lord replied as though they had been anxious for no reason – “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Yet so intense had been His parents’ anxiety that humanly this answer made no sense – “And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them.” However, His Mother knew better than to question her Son any further. Instead she “kept all these words in her heart” (Lk. II, 48–51), to see why God was right although she could not understand.

To the future head of the Church, Rock on which it would be built, the same lesson of God’s ways far transcending our own needed to be taught, albeit somewhat more roughly than to Our Lord’s gentle Mother. All too humanly, Peter rebukes Our Lord for daring to tell the Apostles that He is going up to Jerusalem to suffer and to die. Our Lord’s reply is stinging: “Get thee behind me, satan!,” yet the explanation is essentially the same as it was to His Mother, “because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men” (Mt. XVI, 21–23). Peter, just appointed Rock of the Church (Mt. XVI, 18–19), can least of all be allowed to think humanly instead of divinely when it will come to governing the Church.

But of course Our Lord does recognise the problem of human beings thinking too humanly when it comes to the things of God. That is why, soon after the rebuke to Peter, He took him with James and John up Mount Tabor in order by His Transfiguration to let the Godhead’s divinity shine out from within the human nature. Thus the Apostles might soon all of them be shaken to the core by the terrible deicide in Jerusalem, but three of them would be able to give witness to what they had seen with their own eyes (cf. II Peter I, 16–18), before the Passion, of the Godhead blazing from within the man crucified on Calvary.

And in our own day? Catholics know that the life of the Catholic Church is the continuation on earth of the Incarnate life of Christ on earth, so that in principle they know that as Christ’s 33 years ended in His Passion and Death, so the Church may finish its time on earth by bleeding from all wounds until it is virtually extinguished. Nevertheless to see it in practice, happening under one’s eyes, can shake the faith of many a good man – “How is it possible that these Popes, these Cardinals and these Bishops are the carriers of God’s authority in the structure of His one true Church?” Of course they are not in general its faithful carriers, but where else are its structural carriers? Patience. God was still there, being dragged to Calvary, so He is still there, being dragged into the New World Order. But He has not said His last word!

Kyrie eleison.

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.