Tag: St. Ignatius of Loyola

“Resistance” Failing?

“Resistance” Failing? posted in Eleison Comments on August 23, 2014

Some readers of these Comments no doubt objected to the reference made last week (EC 370) to the “Resistance” presently making “little apparent headway.” They might have preferred a valiant call to arms. But we must stay real. For instance, when the Traditional diocese of Campos in Brazil fell back into the arms of Newrome back in 2001, did not several of us say that out of some 25 priests formed in Bishop de Castro Mayer’s school, at least a few would break ranks? Yet not one of them has gone independent since then to continue defending Tradition as Campos had always defended it, and so all of them are more or less on the neo-modernist slide. However, if we do stay real, there is not nothing to be said.

First of all, God is God, and he is conducting this crisis his way and not ours. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, your ways are not my ways, says the Lord” (Is. LV, 8). We dream of the clear-sighted priests and laity banding together to stand up to his enemies, but God does not need anybody’s “Resistance” to look after his sheep or save his Church. Forty years ago when Archbishop Lefebvre hoped for and looked for a handful of fellow-bishops to stand beside him in public and throw up a real road-block in the way of the Conciliar steam-roller, surely he might have found them, but he never did. In fact when God intervenes to save the situation, as he certainly will, it will be obvious that the rescue was his doing, through his Mother.

Secondly, more than five centuries of rampant humanism have made man so ignorant of God, the Lord God of Hosts, that mankind has to be taught a lesson which it will not learn except the hard way. The ninth of St Ignatius’ 14 Rules for the Discernment of Spirits (first week) gives three main reasons for a soul’s spiritual desolation, which can be applied to the Church’s present desolation:‍—

1. God punishes us for our spiritual lukewarmness and negligence. God alone knows today just what a worldwide chastisement is deserved by our worldwide apostasy and plunge into materialism and hedonism.

2. God puts us to the trial to show us what is really inside us, and how we depend on him. Does not modern man seriously think that he can do a better job of running the universe than Almighty God? And might it be that the truth will not sink in until all of his own little efforts have failed?

3. God humbles us with desolation to cut short our pride and vainglory. Coming from the chief ministers of the one true religion of the one true God, was not Vatican II an unprecedented outburst of human vainglory, preferring man’s modern world to God’s unchanging Church? And the little Society of St Pius X thought that it could save the Church? Unless the “Resistance” remains duly modest in its claims and ambitions, it is doomed in advance.

Then what should those ambitions be? First and foremost, to keep the Faith, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb. XI, 6), and which is expressed in doctrine, in the Catholic Creed. Secondly, to give witness to that Faith, especially by example, if necessary unto martyrdom (“martyr” is the Greek word for “witness”). So howsoever the “Resistance” is or is not organized, it must devote its resources, however meagre, to whatever will help souls to keep the Faith. Then, since its stand for the Truth is bound to be recognizable as such, merely by existing it will not be failing, because it will be giving witness.

Kyrie eleison.

Fatal Humanising

Fatal Humanising posted in Eleison Comments on February 22, 2014

Some Catholics who hold that the Apostolic See is vacant protest strongly against recent issues of these “Comments” which seem to put the universal heresy of liberalism on an equal footing with the particular opinion of sedevacantism. But whereas these “Comments” constantly excoriate the plague of liberalism, surely they have recently done no more than argue that nobody is obliged to be a sedevacantist, which, considering what a sterilising trap sedevacantism proves in some cases to be, is surely a very moderate position to take.

However, the “Comments” do hold that sedevacantism, while admirable as an effort to combat liberalism, is at best an inadequate means of doing so, because it shares with liberals one of their basic errors, namely the exaggeration of papal infallibility. In its full depth this error takes us to the heart of today’s unprecedented crisis of the Church, which is why the “Comments” will insist on the question, while begging pardon of any readers unduly bored or offended. The whole Church is at stake, and not just the sensibilities of these or those of its members.

That full depth is mankind’s slow but steady turning away over the last 700 years from God, from his Son and from his Church. At the height of the Middle Ages Catholics had a clear and strong faith, grasping the oneness and exclusivity of the objective God and his non-contradictory Truth. Dante had no problem putting Popes in his Inferno. But as down the centuries man put himself more and more at the centre of things, so God lost his absolute transcendence above all creatures, and truth became more and more relative, no longer to God’s authority but instead to man’s.

Within the Church, take for example the 13th of the 17 “Rules for thinking with the Church” from St Ignatius of Loyola’s famous book of the Spiritual Exercises, praised by countless Popes ever since, and no doubt responsible for helping to save millions of souls. Ignatius writes: “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it.”Such a position might support the churchmen’s authority in the short run, but did it not run a serious risk of detaching it from truth in the long run?

Indeed by the late 19th century liberalism had become so strong that the Church had to support its own authority by the Definition in 1870 of its Magisterium when operating at full power, namely whenever 1) a Pope 2) defines 3) a point of Faith or morals 4) so as to bind the whole Church. But thinking too humanly since then, too many Catholics, instead of relating this Extraordinary Magisterium to God and to the unchanging truth of the Church’s Ordinary Magisterium, have tended to lend to the human person of the Pope an infallibility coming from, and belonging to, God alone. This humanising process generated a creeping infallibility which almost inevitably resulted in the preposterous claim of Paul VI to be able to remould the Church’s Tradition in the name of a “Solemn Ordinary Magisterium.” The great majority of Catholics allowed him to get away with it, and to this day a mass of them are becoming day by day liberals as they follow the Conciliar Popes, while a small minority of Catholics are driven to denying that those responsible for the Conciliar nonsense can be Popes at all.

In brief, I personally have respect for many sedevacantists, insofar as they believe in the Church and are desperate for a solution to an infinitely serious problem of the Church., but in my opinion they need to look higher and deeper – the infinite height and depth of God himself.

Kyrie eleison.

Eternal Damnation? – II

Eternal Damnation? – II posted in Eleison Comments on May 25, 2013

It is idle to pretend that any of us human beings can fathom the mystery of one single soul’s damnation, let alone that of the majority of human beings that live and die, but there are certain things that can be said which make it easier to accept that there is a mystery beyond our human possibility of knowing.

The key to the mystery is surely the infinite greatness, or the limitlessness, of God. If he is infinite, then to offend him is to commit an offence which is in a certain way limitless. But the only way for a finite human being to suffer infinitely is for the suffering to have no limit or end in time. Therefore there is a certain proportion between any grave offence committed against God, and an eternal punishment.

As for the infinity or limitlessness of God, it is not too difficult for our reason to grasp it in the abstract. Effects exist all around us which require a cause. But a chain of causes can no more go on for ever than an endless series of links in a chain can hang without a ceiling-hook. So there must exist a First Cause, which we call God. But if this First Cause were composite, or put together out of parts, then whoever or whatever put it together would have to have been prior to the First Cause – impossible. Therefore God is in no way composite, he can only be simple and pure Existence. But existence is not by itself, as such, limited. Any limits on God’s being would have to have been put on him by a prior limiter, again impossible. Therefore the First Cause has no limits to his being, God is infinite existence.

In the concrete however, it is not so easy to get our minds around the infinity of God. Our human minds are working all day long on, with and from limited or finite creatures. Only when we turn our hearts and minds to God are we thinking of the infinite. Hence the common difficulty of prayer, because we can only think of what is limitless goodness by thinking of some limited goodness around us and then thinking away the limits. For instance God is as beautiful as a sunset, only infinitely more so.

It follows that the more we allow ourselves to be immersed in daily living, the less chance have our minds and hearts of grasping who or what is the God behind all the limited beings that make up our daily living. Contrariwise, the more we turn our minds and hearts to the knowing and loving of the unlimited Goodness necessarily behind all the limited good things of our daily lives, the better the access we will have to the mystery of God’s infinite goodness and to the corresponding mystery of the ingratitude of so many of his human creatures.

Therefore to lessen – without remotely fathoming – the mystery of souls’ eternal damnation, I need to follow St Dominic’s example, and to pray. That does not mean fooling myself that God is right when he is in reality wrong. It means my getting to the truth, namely that he is right, and that I – am wrong!

St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises greatly help to turn heart and mind to God. A Saint prayed along these lines: “O love, thou art not loved. Would that thou wert loved. Give me only to love thee as thou needest to be loved, and then do with me what thou wilt.”

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.

Fortieth Anniversary

Fortieth Anniversary posted in Eleison Comments on November 6, 2010

Last Monday was a moment to be immensely thankful, and somewhat wary. It was the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Society of St. Pius X, when, on behalf of the Universal Church, Bishop Charriere of Geneva, Lausanne and Fribourg gave his official approval to the Society’s Statutes, submitted to him some months beforehand by Archbishop Lefebvre.

To anybody striving to keep and to live by the Catholic Faith amidst today’s soft global apostasy, the occasion for thankfulness is clear. Ever since Vatican II, the official Church has been in a state of collapse which is still going on, because the leading churchmen are clinging to the novelties of that Council by which man is to be put in the place of God. So the Catholic people are still being misled, and the pyramidal structure of God’s Church is crumbling from top to bottom.

Therefore for a devout but pyramidally-minded churchman to see the need for a minor counter-pyramid to be constructed within the falling ruins of the major pyramid was a first miracle. For him to succeed in erecting that minor pyramid beneath the papal weight of the collapsing major pyramid was a second miracle. And for the Archbishop’s successors to have upheld the minor pyramid for nearly 20 years since his death, is a third miracle. Now the SSPX has no monopoly on the defence of the Faith – God forbid! – but it has for many years up to today been the backbone of that defence. We owe boundless thanks to God for his goodness to every one of us that understands what a gift the SSPX has been.

But we must also be wary. Father Barrielle (1897–1983) was the Spiritual Director at the SSPX’s first seminary at Econe in Switzerland from its early days, and I can remember how often he quoted words of his beloved master, Father Vallet (1883 -1947), great preacher of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, and moulder of them in that five-day form so profitable to followers of the SSPX all over the world – through their transmission to SSPX seminarians by Fr. Barrielle. Fr. Vallet studied the Exercises and their history deeply, and one thing he observed was that if any Congregation was founded to preach the Exercises and did so successfully, then within a certain space of time the Devil would succeed in diverting, distracting or destroying that Congregation. What space of time, according to Fr. Vallet, as quoted by Fr. Barrielle? “Forty years”!

Now preaching the Exercises is not the SSPX’s only apostolate, so it may hope to be spared that concentrated attention of the Devil? On the contrary! If that minor pyramid is still the backbone of the defence of the Faith amidst the ruins of the Church crumbling all around, it can only be the object of his super-concentrated attention! Let all of us beware, and – because of that pyramidal structure of the Church – let us especially include in our gentle prayers the leaders of the SSPX.

Kyrie eleison.

Interior Cave

Interior Cave posted in Eleison Comments on October 23, 2010

Visiting Subiaco put me in mind of two lines of Latin verse which situate in succession four founders of great religious Orders in the Church. Besides sweeping over three quarters of Church history, the lines also suggest why so many a Catholic soul today is hanging onto the Faith by its finger-tips.

Here are the lines:—Bernardus valles, colles Benedictus amabat,

Oppida Franciscus, magnas Ignatius urbes.

A free translation might be:— Bernard loved valleys, Benedict took to the hills

Francis worked towns, cities Ignatius tills.

In chronological order (slightly upset here by the demands of the Latin hexameter), St Benedict (480–547) sought God in the mountains (Subiaco, Monte Cassino); the Cistercians, galvanized by St Bernard (1090–1153) came down to the valleys (notably Clairvaux); St Francis (1181–1226) roamed amidst the small towns of his day, while the Jesuits of St Ignatius (1491–1556) led the apostolate of the modern city. One might say the modern city took its revenge when Jesuits, with Dominicans, led the collapse that was Vatican II (e.g. de Lubac and Rahner, S.J.; Congar and Schillebeeckx, O.P.).

For is not the progression from hill to city a progression from being alone with God to being only with man? Industrialism and the motor-car make the modern city with its soft life possible, but in doing so they generate a daily environment steadily more artificial and cut off from God’s Nature. With the material comforts increase the spiritual difficulties. In fact big city life is becoming so inhuman that the liberal death-wish may soon bring on the Third World War, to devastate urban and suburban life as we know it. Then if, for a variety of reasons, a Catholic cannot take to the hills, how does he stay out of the mental institutions?

One answer is logical. He must live with God, inside himself, in an interior cave, leaving the world to rush all around. He must turn his own heart into a hermitage and at least his home, if he can, into something of a sanctuary, while respecting all natural family needs. That does not mean living in an unreal world of one’s own, but in the real world of God within, as opposed to the fantastical world of the Devil without, pressing on us from all sides.

Similarly, the Newchurch has closed countless monasteries and convents since Vatican II, which leaves rather fewer openings for a soul which may think that it hears an interior call from God. Has he led them up a blind alley, or has he let them down? Or is he maybe calling them to lead a religious life within, turning their little flat in the big city into a hermitage, and their godless office into a field of apostolate, by means of prayer, charity and example? Our world is in grave need of Catholic souls that radiate outwards their inner peace and calm with God.

Kyrie eleison.