Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christ is Born! Merry Christmas to All!

Behold a new and wondrous mystery.

My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised. (St. John Chrysostom)

Points to consider on Pope Francis and the media.

Points to consider on Pope Francis and the media.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Sliding Scale of Idiocy and the Rise of Socialism

The Sliding Scale of Idiocy and the Rise of Socialism

The mantra of today's average “thinker” is that there are no moral absolutes, absolutely! I can't tell you how many people I have come across who make this idiotic claim. Not only do not they not see the glaring contradiction in their statement, they assume that anyone who claims anything to the contrary to be a religious nut. How have so many people fallen into this denial of first principles?

Modern philosophy is certainly responsible for much of the confusion that plagues society today. Objectivity has been replaced with absolute subjectivity. In fact, our entire culture in the US at this point in time runs on a sliding scale of idiocy, where morality is measured on a sliding scale of convenience by whoever has the power to wield government policies. These policies are put in place to “advance” society and ultimately propel mankind to a utopian ideal. The popular means used to achieve this is widely known as socialism, and taken to its logical conclusion, communism.

The ugly face of socialism is alive and well today, and is the ideology of most of the major political figures in the US, including those who call themselves, “conservatives.” Their humanistic ideology puts man, not God as the center of everything. It also views man as ever changing and ever evolving. For those who have abandoned universal principles, formal and final causes, they have no where to run but to the tyranny of radical materialism, where man advances under his own power, and as he advances “truths” also advance and change. One who adopts this crippled mindset always arrives at the doorstep of atheism.

Many often wonder why socialist regimes usually seek to destroy religion. This has happened in every major culture that has adopted humanistic socialism. The USSR attempted to stamp out Christianity, and where it survived it was only a tool of the atheistic government, which used it as a means to pacify those who could not “advance” beyond the “superstitions” of old. We saw the same course in China, where the Catholic Church has been driven underground. It is a matter of fact that socialism goes hand in hand with the extermination of religion. Simply put, God cannot stand in the way of progress. If one understands the ideology of socialism then one understands that this ideology cannot advance with religion as a major player in society. For a true socialist, religion hinders mankind from moving forward.

{The Soviet Gulag} What happens when a culture adopts the sliding scale.
As socialism gains more control in the US, we see this same mentality evolving in our own backyards. The government grows and attempts to negate religion on all levels so it cannot have an influence on the American culture. Eastern religions and practices are not seen as threats since they do not hold to universal moral principles. The Catholic Church for example has been neutered in the US, and the government was all to happy to give handouts and concessions to the Church in order to eventually having it under its thumb. In the end the Catholic Church will only be allowed to exist under certain conditions doled out by the government, which will for all intents and purposes completely eliminates the Church's influence on society. Now we see that this sliding scale of idiocy has now crept into the Church. There are not many Catholic parishes left that have not been infected by the noxious ideology of modernism, to which socialism is a daughter. As a result the Church has not only been assaulted from the outside, but it crippled itself from the inside long before. We did not heed the warnings of the pre-Vatican II popes.

The sliding scale of idiocy is seen clearly by the actions of our president, who constantly changes his position on any number of moral issues, and social policies. Years ago when it was convenient, he applauded the idea of marriage being exclusively between a man and women. As the gay rights groups and the popular media have continued to soften the American public to the gay agenda, Obama now conveniently holds an opposing position. But this change of positions is not seen as a weakness, or dishonesty, which it most certainly is, it is seen by the blinded masses as “advancement.” Yet, what we ultimately see with the advancement of this subjective ideology is a tyranny that is worse than any Catholic monarchy of the middle ages. We have only to look at the results of atheistic socialism over the past century which has left a trail of innocent blood around the world that makes the entire “evil” history of Christian monarchs before it look like a day at the beach. All of this blood and yet, there is no utopia, there is no peace, there is no advancement of man beyond his technological advances, which by the way, has happened within the confines of an objective system of ones and zeros and not one ruled by subjective ideology. This is just another contradiction among the modernist, atheistic philosophical mentality.

Barack Obama spoke at a Democratic Socialists of America organized forum at the University of Chicago in early 1996.

What should we learn about today's sliding scale of idiocy? We should know by now that if you eliminate objective truth, God, and adopt a man-centered ideology, which views the advancement of man as an absolute subjective enterprise, you end up with a disaster on your hands. Contradiction brings chaos. Truth resides outside of man, not inside. Man is only advancing as his mind comes into conformity with what is real outside of him. We should rightly look upon those who say that there are no absolute moral principles as absolute idiots in regard to sociology. Once absolutes are traded for a sliding scale of morality, all bets are off. For the socialist ideology is an ideology based on a sliding scale of morality based on whatever is needed at the time to “advance” civilization. This includes mass murder, state control and the manipulation of societal behavior. We saw this with the Communist countries, which were nothing more than socialist ideals taken to their logical conclusions. Ask yourself a question. Why do you think the politicians are pushing class warfare on the American people? Why are violent madmen like Louis Farrakhan, Nelson Mandela and Che Guevara viewed as heroes by the left wing radicals? For them they are leading “advancement” at any cost, and by any means necessary.

{Marx}“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."

What we see going on in Ferguson and throughout the country is an attempt to cause a class uprising to which the government can solve with socialist policies. Obama, Pelosi, Sharpton and Holder are some of the architects behind this subjective ideology. They understand that for the government to come in and save the day, and make our society more “perfect” that they must prod the American people into a class war. They want to see it happen. People dying in the street are “advancement” for them towards an intended goal. As their plan progresses you will see more violence, and more government control. You will also see an advanced campaign to finish off the Catholic Church. The next target will be the final destruction of the family by forcing the Catholic Church to adopt state controlled marriage, which will include forcing the Church to marry same sex couples.

Looking at the recent synod on the family, it should give us cause to worry that many bishops are caving into the idea that the Church's doctrine on marriage is up for grabs. At the very least many bishops are apathetic to same sex unions conducted by the State. What they don't realize is that by staying silent they are not protecting the Church, they are letting it fall deeper and deeper into the sliding scale of idiocy, which the government is pushing on society. We must admit that the time is here where the vast majority of Christians practicing their faith have now adopted a sliding scale of morality. By doing so they are being lulled into the socialist ideology, which must always be at odds with orthodox Christianity. Hence we have another contradiction. A “Christian” who does not hold to moral absolutes is indeed a walking contradiction.

What can be done to get the ship back on course? It is of course the job of the Catholic Church to win the hearts and minds of the people. In order for that to happen the Church has some house cleaning to do. In my opinion, it is time for the Catholic Church to dissolve all relations with the US government, which means giving up its tax-exempt status. This will be the only way for it to have a chance of staying out of the clutches of government policies, which seek destroy the very fabric of true morality and “advance” the cause of civilization. Without the Church and her objective, universal truths she brings to society, society will never truly advance., because it will not be in congruence with truth. Instead it will always return to a trail of blood and tyranny worse than the previous socialist experiment. What we have looming on the horizon God only knows. In order for society to be put back on a civil path, the Catholic Church must speak out against absolute subjectivism. It also must force those within her walls to abandon modern philosophical principles that lead to disastrous consequences. It must foster an environment to which scholasticism can grow freely in the grace of almighty God. The sliding scale of idiocy is a doorway to the inevitable all out assault on truth and beauty, Catholicism. It is the end of a truly humane, and charitable society and ultimately breeds contempt for ones fellow man.

In the face of such a threat, the Catholic Church could not and does not remain silent. This Apostolic See, above all, has not refrained from raising its voice, for it knows that its proper and social mission is to defend truth, justice and all those eternal values which Communism ignores or attacks. Ever since the days when groups of "intellectuals" were formed in an arrogant attempt to free civilization from the bonds of morality and religion, Our Predecessors overtly and explicitly drew the attention of the world to the consequences of the dechristianization of human society. With reference to Communism, Our Venerable Predecessor, Pius IX, of holy memory, as early as 1846 pronounced a solemn condemnation, which he confirmed in the words of the Syllabus directed against "that infamous doctrine of so-called Communism which is absolutely contrary to the natural law itself, and if once adopted would utterly destroy the rights, property and possessions of all men, and even society itself."

Pope Pius XI's lost words above should be engraved on our tombstones.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blessed Mart: Hand Painted Icons

Visit Blessed Mart online.
Shipping takes about two weeks from Bulgaria and the icons are packed well!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Brief Thought On The Immaculate Conception

On December 8th, 1854 Blessed Pius IX declared the following a non-negotiable teaching that must be accepted by anyone worthy of claiming the Christian name. 

“Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart. “

We should ponder these words concerning Our Blessed Lady’s Immaculate Conception. What does this definition mean for us practicing the Christian faith today? If we dig a little deeper we find a buried treasure, which opens for us an ocean of mercy and forgiveness, and even a spiritual freedom that goes beyond any natural freedom we may have. Contrary to modern belief, Our Lady is not a side dish along a main course, which we can choose to pass on to make more room for the main course. In fact, Our Lady is integrally a part of the main course, which is Jesus Christ Himself. 

Without the Blessed Virgin Mary’s sinlessness and her fiat to God’s plan of His Incarnation, salvation would not have come about. Far be it for one to dismiss the manner in which Christ chose to take on a human nature and bring salvation to mankind! Those who demean the role of the Blessed Mother in God’s plan should not boastfully claim the name Christian, for they are not. Why then is the Blessed Mother of God such an issue for many who call themselves Christian? The reason is they have been manipulated by diabolical disorientation. The Blessed Virgin Mary is prime target of the devil, and he labors to lead people away from her.

The devil, who desires to lead men to their eternal damnation, constantly seeks to undermine core tenets of the Christian faith. There are three main graces that satan and his minions try to deprive the human race. The first is the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given to us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The second is the papacy, since the pope signifies and promulgates the unity of the Christian faith. The third is the Blessed Virgin Mary, since sin has never touched her, and she represents the most complete assent of faith that any human being can accomplish. As a good friend of mine, a longtime priest of 50 years plus and an exorcist has said many times,  “The devil has deprived the Protestants of all three. They have no Mass, they deny the papacy and they deny Mary." The third target of the devil is what I will touch on here, the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

The Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception, in which she was conceived without sin, was a gift from God to His mother. Through this gift she brought Christ into the world, His Incarnation. Through her fiat she participated in man’s redemption. Early theologians of the Church referred to her as the ‘New Eve’, and to Jesus the ‘New Adam’. Saint Justin Martyr in the second century illustrates this idea. “(The Son of God) became man through the Virgin that the disobedience caused by the serpent might be destroyed in the same way in which it had originated. For Eve, while a virgin incorrupt, conceived the word, which proceeded from the serpent, and brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary was filled with faith and joy when the Angel Gabriel told her the glad tidings.... And through her was he born…” We also look to St Ireneaus of Lyon who around the year 200 wrote the following, “Just as Eve, wife of Adam, yet still a virgin, became by her disobedience the cause of death for herself and the whole human race, so Mary, too, espoused yet a Virgin, became by her obedience the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race.... And so it was that the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by Mary's obedience. For what the virgin Eve bound fast by her refusal to believe, this the Virgin Mary unbound by her belief.” 

There is a correlation here to Mary’s sinlessness and the fact that Eve also entered into existence without the stain of original sin. Although Eve started off with what we may refer to for lack of a better term, as “original grace” Eve chose to disobey God, and along with Adam plunged the human race into the darkness of original sin. Mary however is unique being that God chose to give her a special grace of avoiding the general fallen nature of the human race after the fall. She not only did not have original sin, she also never sinned because of God's special grace. She is the only human being that has remained pure from the stain of sin. St Ambrose of Milan, doctor of the Church wrote, “Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain." For this the devil hates her more than anyone, since she was never touched by sin. Because of this very fact, she is above the devil and all of those in the angelic realm. She is indeed the Queen of Heaven and earth and the devil fears her because she does more to bring souls to God than any other.  She is also the one who crushes his head!
'Hodegetria' "She Who Shows the Way"

What then is Mary’s active role in our lives? What does her Immaculate Conception mean to us today? For one, she looks to help us gain the kingdom of heaven, and live a life of God’s fulfillment here on earth. She is God’s chosen instrument of special graces. We petition Our Mother in heaven for her prayers and intercession so that we may be open to doing God’s will and receive God's grace. We can also so look to her and follow her example of perfect obedience to Christ. Her intercession goes hand in hand with Christ’s plan for our salvation and she is our protector. When we ask for her intercession and give honor to her, we also give honor and glory to God, since He is the origin of her intercession. One cannot deny hailing her as “blessed” (Luke 1:48) without insulting God Himself. Although Our Lady has many titles, it is no coincidence that true Christians in the Catholic Church have always hailed her “Blessed” by calling her ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary.’ Why do Protestants deny her this title?

As we welcome the Feast of the Immaculate Conception we would do well to invigorate our love and petitions to Our Blessed Lady. As one without sin, she looks upon us with eyes of mercy and wants to guide us along the way to ultimate union with God. Our Blessed Mother is an integral part of every Christian’s spiritual life. There is no one the devil fears more outside of the God than the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is to her that we cling to as we continue to strive to live a Christian life in a culture that opposes God more and more as each day passes. Devotion to the Blessed Mother is a blessing from God and anyone trying to persevere in the spiritual life today would be a fool to try and do it without her. 

St Ephraim the Syrian who died in the year 373 wrote a prayer to which we should make our own. 

“O pure and immaculate and likewise blessed Virgin, who art the sinless Mother of thy Son, the mighty Lord of the universe, thou who art inviolate and altogether holy, the hope of the hopeless and sinful, we sing thy praises. We bless thee, as full of every grace, thou who didst bear the God-Man: we all bow low before thee; we invoke thee and implore thine aid. Rescue us, O holy and inviolate Virgin, from every necessity that presses upon us and from all the temptations of the devil. Be our intercessor and advocate at the hour of death and judgement; deliver us from the fire that is not extinguished and from the outer darkness; make us worthy of the glory of thy Son, O dearest and most clement Virgin Mother. Thou indeed art our only hope, most sure and sacred in God's sight, to whom be honor and glory, majesty and dominion, for ever and ever, world without end. Amen.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Neo-Catholics Missing the Point on Church Doctrine and the Synod

I normally do not like to focus on the negative news in the Church on this blog. In recent years I have tried to make this an educational blog concerning many topics pertaining to the Catholic faith so that readers can be enriched and inspired by the riches of the Catholic Church. I intend to continue in that direction. But as we are experiencing odd times in the Church, I thought I would write another post concerning the synod and the issues concerning Church teaching on the family. As the news websites and blogs continue to debate the synod on the family, it seems to me that the majority of these people are missing the point. The liberals out there are harping on the fact that the Church needs to change her teaching on moral issues, while other groups insists that the Church is going to do no such thing and no one need not worry about the Church. In this post I want to focus on the latter group, those who are becoming known as Neo-Catholics.

For example, journalist Dr. Robert Moynihan recently released one of his letters about a recent meeting in which Cardinal Kasper and friends spoke about the recent synod. Moynihan was all too happy to report that Kasper and company had sincerely expressed that they had no desire to change the Church's teaching on marriage. I guess that report was supposed to make his readers feel at ease, and they could now go on as if everything was in the Church was now just peachy. Even worse, Neo-Catholics like Mark Shea continue to usher Catholics to move along, "nothing to see here folks!" For those of us who know the history of the Church, especially that of the past 60 years, we understand that a Pope, a synod or Magisterial document does not have to officially "change" Church doctrine to cause havoc in the Church.

This lackadaisical idea that all is well as long the Pope does not change Church teaching is utter nonsense. We should know and understand that the Church, which belongs to Christ Himself, cannot formally err in official doctrine. The Pope cannot teach heresy from the Chair of Peter or he would in effect, cease to be Pope. What people seem to miss is the fact the those in the Church, and in her hierarchy can completely ignore and teach a false Gospel which can mislead millions of people into a lukewarm faith, or worse, into practicing sacrilege. Bad practices in the Church can indeed erode away the faith and lead people in a direction opposite from the teaching of the Church. There need not be any "change" in doctrine. As they say, actions often speak louder than words. Let me give a few examples.

Pope Francis completely ignored the rules established for the Holy Thursday liturgy. He washed the feet of Muslin women. Our Neo-Catholic friends, snug in their neat little boxes would argue that the Pope can change whatever he would like in regard to the practice of the Liturgy, not understanding that the Pope is still prudentially bound to obey the liturgical laws of the Church. The Pope must responsibly follow the proper form to change these rubrics of the Liturgy. Usually in the past, this would have been well thought out and planned, and it would have included an explanation for the particular change. This would have been accompanied by a theological explanation as well. With Pope Francis we did not receive such an explanation, nor did we see him follow any formal protocol for liturgical change. Instead what Pope Francis demonstrated was a rambunctious attitude toward the liturgical tradition of the Church. This action in turn has given other bishops and priests the idea that they too can tinker with the rubrics and laws of the Church. Also as a result we get armchair hack theologians like Jimmy Akin making up excuses for the Pope so that their whole perfect world doesn't come crumbling in around them. 

Likewise, we can have poorly written documents in the Church, which although may not "officially" change any Church doctrine, they do allow for erroneous interpretations. This allows many in the Church hierarchy to preach a false Gospel, either by their words or their actions. They in effect, hide behind the sloppy text of these documents which use new terminology to undermine traditional theology and philosophy, yet without directly opposing official Church teaching. When left without any stern correction and disciplinary action from the Pope, this all results in the loss of faith. The Mass of Paul VI gives us a perfect example of how a loosely constructed liturgy can be used to destroy the faith of millions. Sure the Mass of Paul VI is valid, but the composition of the Mass is not well constructed, and easily allows for theological error to creep into its execution. For example, a lack of rubrics promotes laxity and individual improvisation of the priests during Mass. The omission and changing of some of the most important prayers of the Mass have moved the focus off of man's sins and his redemption through Christ, to a focus on man himself. The Sacrificial aspect of the Mass is still on paper and yet, the average Novus Ordo Mass does not convey that Sacrifice in its practice. Instead it conveys the community of the people above the Sacrifice. Newsflash! It took no official change of doctrine to move the focus of the Mass off of the vertical, The Sacrifice of Christ, to the horizontal, a focus on man and the community. Theologians such as Father Gregory Klein have won the day in capitalizing on the weakness of the Novus Ordo and the subsequent weak texts on liturgy that have followed it since. Fr. Gregory Klein writes in his book, 'Pastoral Foundations of the Sacraments', page 86, the following, “Eucharist begins with the assembly, the people gather in the name of Jesus Christ. While the details of the environment in which the people gather, the occasion on which people gather, and the manner in which people gather are not unimportant, eucharist is about people.”

The same thing can happen with these synods on the family. All it will take are some ambiguous, shoddy constructed documents using new terminology to be ushered in by the modernist clergy, while the Pope and the rest of the clergy stand around voicing no opposition. If this happens we will see more hellfire and damnation spread throughout the Church. There will be no need to change doctrine because a majority of those in the Church will practice something contrary to Church teaching all the while keeping the official doctrine on paper. This is certainly already happening in the Church to some extent, but we have seen nothing to what will happen if this agenda gets pushed through to water down the moral teachings of the Church concerning the Natural Law and the family. This is exactly what all of the modern Popes up until John XXIII warned us about. They told us that modernism would destroy the faith from the inside of the Church. In reading many of the documents written by these Popes, it seems clear to me that they had no real worry about the Magisterium ever really changing the Church teaching. In fact, they believed that this would never happen. But what they did worry about were theologians in the Church going unchecked promoting modernism, which would slowly erode the faith of the Church. It is more like a poison gas attack than a nuclear bomb. The buildings still stand while the poison kills everyone inside. This is why Pope Pius X warned us that this was the synthesis of all heresies, and a noxious error. It was a heresy that needed no official changing of Church doctrine to destroy the faith of millions in the Church and put a stop to salvation of souls. 

Its time for the Neo-Catholics to wake up and realize they are being played like Satan's golden fiddle. Every time the cog in the modernist wheel is moved forward it is harder and harder to move it back. It is like a ratchet, once it clicks over a notch it is extremely hard to snap it back into place. Those who are concerned with this synod on the family and our current Pope's negligent actions are not over reacting. We are concerned for the state of the Church and the state of people's souls. Those Catholics who are going on and on about the Pope not "officially" changing doctrine are completely missing the point. Let us be reminded of the gravity of the situation in the Church, as recorded by Saint Pope Pius X in Pascendi. The scary part is that we are experiencing the dire consequences of what Pope Pius X warned us about. In our day these enemies are no longer hidden, and perhaps this is God's plan all along.

Gravity of the Situation

2. That We make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man. 
3. Though they express astonishment themselves, no one can justly be surprised that We number such men among the enemies of the Church, if, leaving out of consideration the internal disposition of soul, of which God alone is the judge, he is acquainted with their tenets, their manner of speech, their conduct. Nor indeed will he err in accounting them the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For as We have said, they put their designs for her ruin into operation not from without but from within; hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain, the more intimate is their knowledge of her. Moreover they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fires. And having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth from which they hold their hand, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skilful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious arts; for they double the parts of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and since audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance. To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for the strictest morality. Finally, and this almost destroys all hope of cure, their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint; and relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What About Pope Francis? A Traditional Catholic's Thoughts

Since everyone is talking about Pope Francis, I thought I would weigh in with my thoughts about our current Pope. I am not a man to mince words, but I will attempt to give my thoughts in charity. So far in my opinion, Pope Francis has been at best, a mixed bag when it comes to proclaiming the Catholic faith to the world. I make this statement based on his words and actions alone. For example, one day he will speak about the atrocities of abortion and the destruction of the family, and the next he speaks about being lenient in how the Church applies Catholic doctrine to the divorced and remarried in the context of Cardinal Kasper's theology. Yes some of his comments have been taken out of context by the media, but this is not the core of the problem. Those who keep using this excuse are making fools of themselves. The core problem is the mixed message the Pope himself sends to the world.

I will give a few brief examples of the contradictions he sends. On October 30th, 2014 the Pope said, "This generation, and many others, have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil,... But the devil exists and we must fight against him." On August 14th he said, "May the Lord bless the family. May He make it strong in this crisis, in which the devil wishes to destroy it.” This is something the world needs to hear, and this is a great Catholic message. Yet, Pope Francis has on several occasions shown direct support for the notorious heretic Cardinal Walter Kasper. It was certainly bad enough that Pope John Paul II put him in charge of ecumenism during his pontificate. But to do as Pope Francis has done, and let him essentially run the past synod on the family was clearly an even bolder move. As this video shows, the Pope has praised Cardinal Kasper directly, and has even endorsed his latest book.

Many of the Neo-Catholics are now even trying to defend Cardinal Kasper because in their minds they have no choice. Their faith would be destroyed if they had to concede the Pope was promoting the theology of a known heretic. So they must use any means to try and justify the Pope's actions. Those Catholics who are following this line however are stepping outside the bounds of the Catholic faith by adopting an error concerning the Pope's guarantee of infallibility. This error can be summed up as, "The Pope can do do no wrong, he can say no wrong, and anyone who criticizes him is not a good Catholic." Anyone of course who adopts this mindset is not mature in the Catholic faith themselves. The Pope is not guaranteed to be free from error outside the Chair of Peter. That is, he is not guaranteed outside the definition of Papal Infallibility. If you are interested in this topic on the Pope and whether he can "go bad." Take the time to read this scholarly work 'Can the Pope Go Bad.' I am not going to speculate on that matter in this blog post, this is a complex question as the linked work above suggests.

However, I read many works concerning the history of the Church, and there have been some horrible Popes that were openly condemned by the faithful. This is nothing new. Most of them however were criticized for their immoral lives, and not for theological errors. There have only been a couple of cases where past Popes made theological errors, and they were primarily communicated by private letter. The information age has put the Church under much closer scrutiny than at any time in history. You would think that the recent Popes would have figured this out and would be extremely prudent in the public eye. Not so for Pope Francis, he is certainly a bull in a china shop when it comes to the public eye. Whatever comes to his mind comes out of his mouth.

This all being said, where does the rubber meet the road with Pope Francis? Has his new open and "more merciful" approach brought more people closer to Christ than previous Popes? I do not think this to be the case. Certainly some people have been enamored with his ideas. He has certainly brought more attention to the Catholic Church than his predecessors, but that does not mean he has been successful in converting people to the Catholic faith. Nor does it mean that he has strengthened the faith of his flock. In my opinion, he has made the Church more worldly than he has made the world more "Churchly", for a lack of a better term.

In brief, here are my top criticisms of Pope Francis.

1. Pope Francis openly supports a known heretic, Cardinal Kasper. There is no question that this is the case. Kasper is a confirmed heretic, and he has been promoting heresy since the 60s. I had the opportunity to see a book written by him in the late 60s where a dear friend of mine, a Catholic priest for over 50 years now, had gone through it and underlined all of his heretical statements. You can listen to this interview of Kasper where he clearly obscures the Church's teaching on contraception, (Minute 24) and it also again confirms that Pope Francis supports his convoluted theology. Kasper also creates a false dichotomy between mercy and justice. What are the ramifications of this support? It is too early to tell, but I can say it is not a good thing. It is no springtime as many are claiming it to be. At least several Cardinals have come out against this support. Cardinal Burke clearly expressed his opinion on Kasper and the synod, "It is profoundly sad and scandalous that such remarks were made by a Cardinal of the Church. They are a further indication of the determination to manipulate the process of the Synod to advance Cardinal Kasper’s false positions,.."

2. Pope Francis openly secularizes the Church. For example, he invited Muslims to come into the Vatican gardens and pray for a Muslim victory over the Catholic Church. He also has now invited openly counter religious performers like Patti Smith to play at the Vatican for the Christmas concert. She has such wisdom, “Freedom is...the right to write the wrong words.” She wrote her own lyrics to a cover of Van Morrison's Gloria, "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine meltin' in a pot of thieves wild card up my sleeve thick heart of stone my sins my own they belong to me, me people say "beware!" but I don't care the words are just rules and regulations to me, me." How can the presence of these people at these Church events be of any benefit for the faithful or those looking for God? Can we convert people in the world when we conform the Church to the world? I think we know the answer, no. Does anyone remember the words of Jesus in John 18:36? "My kingdom is not of this world." Inviting Muslims into the Vatican Gardens and pagan performers like Smith into the Vatican for a Christmas concert desecrates the Church! Just because ate with sinners does not mean he brought them into the synagogue. Nor does it mean he encourage them to pray to false gods.

3. Pope Francis is a poor theologian. He has criticized the Thomistic revival of recent predecessors such as St. Pope Pius X, Leo XIII, Pius XI and Pius XII to name a few. In my opinion, this is not acceptable behavior from a pontiff. I personally tune out whenever I hear him say things like, "Unfortunately, I studied philosophy from textbooks that came from decadent or largely bankrupt Thomism" This means that the commentaries that the Popes above recommended, he dislikes. Yet there is no question that Francis is nowhere near the theologian of his predecessors. The modernists who rejected those Thomistic manuals are why they Church is in the sad state it is today. For example, no Pope before him would have ever made such a baffling comment as, “I believe in God, not in a Catholic God. There is no Catholic God,..." What a crazy comment to make in a public interview.

4. Pope Francis has no respect for tradition. From the time he first stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peters, Pope Francis has shown little respect for the traditions of the Church. In fact, he seems to hold much of our tradition in contempt. He refused to wear what his predecessors wore when he became Pope. He has gone to efforts to halt the Latin Mass in the order of the Franciscan Friars. It was also an act against tradition to ignore the rubrics of the Holy Thursday liturgy and wash the feet of female Muslim prisoners. For more coverage on his idea of Catholic tradition, check out this news link. It gives a list of things he has done or not done in regard to Catholic tradition.

In summary, thus far Pope Francis has not been in my eyes a great Pope. Is he an immoral monster like Alexander VI? No, but Pope Francis is a Pope that in my opinion is leading the Church in the wrong direction. That does not mean he is not the current Pope, nor does it mean that everything he says and does is wrong. It does mean that he is not doing a very good job of leading the Church, and he is certainly not proclaiming a very clear message of the Gospel from his words and his actions. No, this does not shake my faith one bit in the indefectibility of the Catholic Church. Read the article above that I linked to, to get an idea of why.

Finally, for those who continue to persevere in their foolish "Pope can do no wrong" attitude, and continue to blame the media for everything, they are hurting the Church by failing to recognize the serious problems that this Pope is causing. It all comes down to the conversion of souls. If the Pope does something deserving of criticism, it is not wrong to criticize, in charity. It gives no Catholic pleasure in pointing out the failures of the Pope. I wonder however if all of these these Neo-Catholics who hold Cardinal Newman up as their hero would have condemned Cardinal Newman when he criticized Pope Pius IX? Anyone remember that one? "We have come to a climax of tyranny. It is not good for a pope to live twenty years. It is anomaly, and bears no good fruit; he becomes a god, has no one to contradict him, does not know facts, and does cruel things without meaning it.” and “We must hope, for one is obliged to hope it, that the pope will be driven from Rome and will not continue the council or that there will be another pope. It is sad he should force us to such wishes.”Volume 25 of Dessain's "The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saint Demetrius: Forgotten Saint of October 26th

One of my favorite Saints of the Church is Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki. The Church celebrates his feast day on October 26th, but in the West he has been largely forgotten. The "Myrrh Bearer" as he is often called for the great miracles that have been worked through the veneration of his myrrh bearing relics, is a much loved Saint among the Greeks and Russians. Demetrius, Demetrios, or James in English is a warrior Saint. Often he is depicted with sword in hand or slaying the image of paganism with a spear on a red horse. I have two icons of him in my home one of each depiction.

St Demetrius slaying the pagan emperor.

Saint Demetrius was born in Thessaloniki around the year 260AD. He was from a well to do family and an only child. His family ensured that he received an excellent education, so he rose to the high ranks of the military and became known for his high acts of virtue. Even the ruler of his part of the empire, Maximian recognized his character and put Demetrius in charge of Thessaloniki as commander after his father died who held the position prior. Things did not go well for Demetrius when Maximian, under orders from emperor Diocletian, ordered the military to begin persecution of the Christians. Demetrius was asked to lead soldiers in the active persecution of Christians, to which he would not obey. In fact, when brought before Maximian to give an account of his refusal, he valiantly told him to his face that he too was a Christian and he would have no part in his diabolical plans. Maximian was enraged!

St Demetrius blessing Nestor before battle.

Demetrius was imprisoned and given a death sentence. While waiting to be executed, a good friend of his and fellow soldier, who's feast day is tomorrow October 27th,  Nestor came to see him in his confinement. Nestor, now also a Christian became enraged at Maximian's treatment of the Christians which involved sending many of them to be slain in the arena by a goliath sized vandal warrior named Lyaeus. Lyaeus was viewed as an invincible gladiator who often hurled his wounded victims onto a bed of spears to watch them writhe in pain until they expired. Nestor took up the challenge to face Lyaeus to spare other Christians having to face him. Demetrius spending his time in prayer encouraged Nestor in his dual and told Nestor that his faith in Christ would see him victory against the heathen, but that he would also suffer for Christ. Soon Nestor and the goliath entered the arena. Lyaeus mocked the much smaller Nestor and he tried to work up the crowd, but the watchers felt a certain pity for the underdog. Maximian looked on in bloodthirsty anticipation as Lyaeus charged. Nestor holding up sword in hand yelled, "O God of Demetrius help me!" Then with a swift move he used the giant's large size against him and knocked Lyaeus onto the bed of spears. The crowd surprised, started to cheer and many began to praise God. Maximian could not believe his eyes. His championed warrior was slain in an instant and in a rage he sent soldiers to have the imprisoned Demetrius run through with spears. Demetrius waited in prayer as Maximian's henchmen came with spears in hand. Nestor also met his fate when he Maximian ordered that he be decapitated. 

St Demetrius being murdered. 

Soon after Demetrius' execution his body emitted a myrrh-like substance and many miracles were wrought upon the faithful Christians who came to visit his tomb. He has been seen in many battles often protecting Thessaloniki from invaders. He is a much favored Saint still today among the Greeks and Russians, and he is often called upon to work great miracles in times of distress. You can read about him further in the Prologue of Ohrid. Pray for us St. Demetrius as we endure our persecution!

A nice icon of St Demetrius which can be purchased from Legacy icons. 


The Splendor and Glory of the Sacred Image: Video Part 4 Summary

Friday, October 10, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

When Catholic Books Were... Catholic Books

One of my favorite places to go on the weekends are the Goodwill stores. Today I found a very nice copy of a Catholic book published in 1903 called 'The Beautiful Story of Catholic Faith' The book is in very nice shape and the one thing that I really like about it is, it has real Catholic teaching in it! What a surprise!

As many of you already know, much of what passes for Catholic literature today is hardly Catholic. This book focuses on the Holy Rosary. It has a history of the Rosary, meditations for adults and children and also goes over the basic truths of the faith. It even has one section in it titled, 'Why Am I Catholic? How to Convince Your Protestant Neighbor.'

There is a section of the book speaking of Protestants in general, which as we know often attack the Catholic Church, strongly opposes their errors. Unfortunately most of today's Catholic apologists have no where near the knowledge or spine to speak plainly as the Catholics of old have done.

"Protestants being thus impious enough to make liars of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, and of the apostles, need we wonder if they continually slander Catholics, telling and believing worse absurdities about them than the heathens did?... All these grievous transgressions are another source of their reprobation." 
Of course there are many Protestants who do not attack Catholics, but we must still be willing to evangelize them!

Friday, August 29, 2014

How To Avoid Hell! New Catholic Resource Website

There is a new website that you want to pass around called 'How to Avoid Hell.' Pass it around!

From the webpage...
"After spending many years reading Catholic books, watching videos and listening to talks I feel called to make a website that contains all of the best resources on living a life dedicated to Christ, and avoiding hell. At this point in time many people are being deceived and are living their lives in dedication to themselves and the evil one. Our Lord said plainly, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it." This site is aimed at making the narrow gate a little wider for those living in today's corrupt culture. The Catholic Church is the only Church established by Jesus Christ and is the only gate that leads to heaven. Enjoy the many articles, videos, lectures and linked resources, and may God bless and keep you always!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Help Save The Latin Mass In NYC- Keep Holy Innocents Open!

The Archdiocese of NY, headed by Cardinal Dolan, seeks to close a masterpiece of Catholic architecture that is thriving by offering the Latin Mass. Watch this video and sign the petition. There is a war going on for the soul of the Church. Here is your chance to step into the fight.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

'Intrumentum Laboris' Battle Lines Drawn: The Natural Law Is Under Fire

"The office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord's flock has especially this duty assigned to it by Christ, namely, to guard with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called. There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking "men speaking perverse things" (Acts xx. 30), "vain talkers and seducers" (Tit. i. 10), "erring and driving into error" (2 Tim. iii. 13). Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the cross of Christ has in these last days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ's kingdom itself. Wherefore We may no longer be silent, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty, and lest the kindness that, in the hope of wiser counsels, We have hitherto shown them, should be attributed to forgetfulness of Our office."

Concerning the modernists...

"They recognize that the three chief difficulties for them are scholastic philosophy, the authority of the fathers and tradition, and the magisterium of the Church, and on these they wage unrelenting war."

(Pascendi Dominici Gregis) Pope Pius X given at St. Peter's, Rome, on the 8th day of September, 1907

So we find ourselves one hundred and seven years later, and St. Pius X appears to have been a prophet since we have reaped the whirlwind he said we would if his directions were not followed. We have been silent! If you have read the Catholic news sites you should have seen that a new document has made its way to the Vatican website. It is called, 'Instrumentum Laboris'. This new document contains the results of the world's synod of bishops as to the state of the Catholic Church and the challenges it faces in the modern world. It also gives us some of their proposed "remedies". The document specifically addresses the issue of marriage, the family and evangelization in the modern world. Although there are many troubling statements in the document, there is a very serious proposal concerning the Natural Law that we should be very concerned with. There is huge battle coming down the line within the Church which if lost, can have very dire consequences. It can change the way we teach and understand the Natural Law.

Although the modernists have made inroads over the past 50 years or so in distorting Church doctrine, dogma and liturgical practices, it has not had much luck in making headway against the Natural Law. It has been ignored yes, but the real assault has yet to be made. The very fact the Church not only proclaims God's voice concerning Divine Revelation, it also proclaims God's voice concerning creation and the Natural Law as well. This is emphatically stated for example in even modern Church documents such as 'Persona Humana' which states, “Furthermore, Christ instituted His Church as "the pillar and bulwark of truth. With the Holy Spirit's assistance, she ceaselessly preserves and transmits without error the truths of the moral order, and she authentically interprets not only the revealed positive law but "also . . . those principles of the moral order which have their origin in human nature itself"[7] and which concern man's full development and sanctification. Now in fact the Church throughout her history has always considered a certain number of precepts of the natural law as having an absolute and immutable value, and in their transgression she has seen a contradiction of the teaching and spirit of the Gospel.”

Faithful Catholics understand that the Natural Law cannot be changed, updated, modified or evolved. There is no philosophical framework that can be substituted for the scholastic method when it comes to explaining and teaching it. We should remember that Pope Pius IX condemned the following idea in his syllabus of errors, "The method and principles which have served the doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of our time or the progress of science." For that reason also Latin has been traditionally used to teach and define concepts concerning the Natural Law along with the Thomistic paradigm. St Pius X tells us, "In the first place, with regard to studies, We will and ordain that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences. It goes without saying that if anything is met with among the scholastic doctors which may be regarded as an excess of subtlety, or which is altogether destitute of probability, We have no desire whatever to propose it for the imitation of present generations (Leo XIII. Enc. Aeterni Patris). And let it be clearly understood above all things that the scholastic philosophy We prescribe is that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us..." Pope Pius X clealry understood what was at stake here.

With this in mind, there is only one way to understand the following terms in regard to the Natural Law: Act, potentiality, form, substance, matter, formal cause, final cause, teleology etc. The Natural Law has been defined and explained by these Aristotelian terms for centuries and they cannot be improved upon by other philosophical concepts or language. Even before St. Pius X's time, the Aristotelian Thomistic model has been the target for modern philosophers and theologians. For a general understanding of what has gone on over the centuries regarding philosophy and the war to destroy Aristotelian concepts, you really should read Dr. Edward Feser's book titled, 'The Last Superstition.' If you do not know what is in his book, you are seriously at a handicap when it comes to understanding the war on truth, reality, and the Natural Law. I know I keep promoting this book, but it is really that good. Buy it and study it.

All of this being said, this new document gives us a preview of where this council in October is heading in regards to the marriage questions that have been making headlines since Pope Francis took office. With the problematic statements of men such as Cardinal Kasper and others being floated about, many in the Church are now testing the waters to see if indeed the Natural Law can finally be hijacked by the modernists. Thankfully there has been some open objection to these ideas, Cardinal Mueller who is the head of the CDF and Cardinal Burke who is also in Rome, are two that come to mind. Aside from a few voices, the rest of the church crowd is running down the wrong road, including most Catholics who call themselves "orthodox." In fact, these are the ones you have to worried about. The open modernist heretics are easy to spot. Now however you have many well meaning catechists, theologians and popular apologists who are slowly leading many people into the mine field of modernism. That is a subject for another time. Let us not be distracted further from the immediate issue at hand.

The part of the new document that I want to point everyone's attention to is the part which concerns the Natural Law. Paragraphs 21-30 point out supposed problems with the Natural Law in the modern world, and it gives a few proposals on how to solve them. For one, the bishops apparently see problems with how the people of the world understand the Natural Law. For example, in paragraph 21 the document says, "In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible." Really, you don't say? Maybe it is because none of the bishops have taught it in 50 years, maybe thats why! No, it is the modern culture's problem, not theirs. Its not that they completely dismissed over 100 years of papal statements telling them to teach Saint Thomas! It would not be "incomprehensible if they actually explained it. The document continues, "Many bishops' conferences, in many different places, say that, although the spousal aspect of the relationship between man and woman might be generally accepted as an experiential reality, this idea is not interpreted according to a universally given law. Very few responses and observations demonstrated an adequate, popular understanding of the natural law." Again, who's fault is that?

The documents continues on now giving us the sob story over new scientific discoveries, which as we know does nothing, absolutely nothing to detract or negate the Natural Law. "Today, in not only the West but increasingly every part of the world, scientific research poses a serious challenge to the concept of nature. Evolution, biology and neuroscience, when confronted with the traditional idea of the natural law, conclude that it is not “scientific." If anyone thinks this is problematic, then they do not understand the Natural Law. Science if anything has proven that the Natural Law concept is the only rational explanation of how the human mind comes into conformity with reality. It is then applicable to everyone at all times and all places and will never displaced by scientific discoveries. The natural sciences themselves can never have dominion over the Natural Law since the Natural Law is above that of the natural sciences.

Paragraph 25 through 29 point out some legitimate problems in the Church concerning the Natural Law. That there are problems concerning people's understanding, or being aware of the concept of the Natural Law is not surprising. That is what happens again when you do not teach something and subvert it for 5 or more decades. But the bishops synod's proposal to remedy these problems are what are extremely alarming and should concern us. Instead of trying to correct the problem by returning the Thomistic "traditional" model that every Pope up until John XIII called for, they instead now look to employ the same methods that got us all in this situation in the first place. Lets modernize everything! Change the language, reread everything and redefine it! Great idea!

Paragraph 30 proposes, "The language traditionally used in explaining the term “natural law” should be improved so that the values of the Gospel can be communicated to people today in a more intelligible manner." The word improved here should be substituted for change! How are they going to improve anything when they have no clue as to what the Natural Law is in the first place? They do not want to improve anything. What language are they even referring to? They going to try and get rid of the scholastic terms and framework that are needed to explain the Natural Law in the only intelligible manner possible. You cannot "improve" upon the "traditional" "language."

Why not use the same modern watered down language and ideas that were used to distort the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the rest of the Sacraments? It will do wonders to understanding marriage and the Natural Law! If you are asking yourself that question, you have got it right! In the document they explicitly tell us what they want to do! "...this proposal insists on using language which is accessible to all, such as the language of symbols utilized during the liturgy. The recommendation was also made to engage young people directly in these matters." This is certainly a recipe for disaster! You cannot use symbols as substitutes for complex concepts. Why don't we just all go back to using hieroglyphs instead of written text? Anytime these moderns get their hands on anything, they destroy it. I can promise you the same will happen once they overhaul the language concerning the Natural Law. They are going to change the entire framework, not simply improve the language. Notice how they specified that the language is the one "traditionally" used, that they want to do away with! This includes Latin and the entire scholastic system. This simply cannot be done, and the faithful should be crying out as loud as possible that it not be done!

The final proposal is also an incredibly horrifying one, "...respondents propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the “order in creation,” which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world..." Do we not see how they have reread the Bible over the past 50 years or more? They have already destroyed any meaningful understanding of the Scriptures for most people, and now they are going to use more of the same methods to "reread" the Natural Law? These proposals should be taken notice of. Of course I will have people come by the blog and say the document does not hold any real weight, which is of course true. But just because it has no "official" weight not mean that it is not forecasting what is coming down the pipe that can result in tangible horrific results.

Can we allow such proposals to overhaul the Natural Law go unchallenged? Who could permit such suggestions to be taken seriously? In the past no one would have thought many of the things that have happened in the Church could have happened, and yet the faithful sat back and let it happen. Well, these proposals are on the Vatican website for all to see. Some may say I am making too much of this, but I do not think so. This is a very serious matter. Am I the only one who thinks it is a bad idea to start making changes to the "traditional" language and "improving" it to appeal to the "modern world"? Pass this post around and let us make sure that we make it clear to the Vatican that the faithful will not accept an overhaul of the Natural Law we will not accept a new language, a new "rereading" of Scripture and we will not accept anything less than the Thomistic language and principles that explain the Natural Law so clearly and beautifully! Let us head the words of St Pius X in 'Doctoris Angelici'.

"The chief doctrines of St. Thomas' philosophy cannot be regarded as mere opinions—which anyone might discuss pro and con, but rather as a foundation on which all science of both natural and divine things rests. If they are taken away, or perverted in any way, then this necessarily follows: that the students of sacred studies will not perceive even the meaning of those words whereby the divinely revealed dogmas are uttered by the teaching of the Church."

Don't kid yourself, the storm is coming!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Do We Need a “Reformed” Papacy? The Story of Pope St. Agapetus

Do We Need a “Reformed” Papacy? The Story of Pope St. Agapetus

Since the election of Pope John XXIII the papacy has certainly taken on a different character than his predecessors had. Beginning with the Second Vatican Council we see a laxity in how the Church is governed. The effectiveness of how the faith is taught and how effective the errors of the world are addressed is at a clear low point in the modern era of the Church. We hear today of rumors that Pope Francis wants to “reform” the papacy and appeal more to the Orthodox for example, for sake of unity. So we may be well to consider today the necessity of papal reform.

So we ask the question, is the papacy in need of reform? I would immediately answer in the affirmative, but I must qualify what type of reform I would like to see. My reform would not have anything to do with minimizing the role of the Holy Father when it comes to jurisdiction or being the unifying chair of the Church as Vatican I infallibly defined. Nor would it be handing over the majority of Church affairs to local bishops conferences and synods as Pope Francis has reportedly alluded to. Some would indeed like to see the role of the pope minimized to appeal to heretics and schismatics outside of the Church. What is really needed however is a stronger presence of the papacy in the Church with a harkening back prior papal pontificates before John XXIII. 

Though modernist scholars would like you to believe that the papacy had no real influence in the early Church and that the Eastern Church supposedly led an autonomous existence uninfluenced by Rome, there is nothing further from the truth.  Most people think the papacy held no power in the Church until Pope Leo III's crowning of Charlemagne in 800. They also claim the real papal power and authority only developed with pontificate of Pope Gregory VII. Modern historians claim that the East did not call upon the pope for matters of jurisdictional controversy. It is with this mentality that many people in the Church today think that we can simply roll back the clock on the papacy, ignore the defined dogmas of Vatican I and the Orthodox would just run back to us with open arms. But for those who have actually studied the history of the papacy, this nothing but a pipe dream.

I will use one particular example of the role of the papacy back in the golden age of Constantinople where the East supposedly reigned unhindered by the papacy. We will get in our imaginary time machines and go back to the year 535 where the great and powerful Justinian and Theodora ruled the Roman Empire from Constantinople. Justinian would indeed be the last great unifying emperor of the Roman Empire making every effort to clean up the mess in the West by reconquering large parts of the Italian peninsula from foreign invaders. We also see the workings a wonderful Pope, which most Catholics probably have never heard of, Pope St. Agapetus I. His pontificate only lasted from May 4th 535 to April 17th 536, and certainly this time period is only a blip on the papal radar screen. But his pontificate gives us a snapshot of the pope’s role and method of solving problems in the Church at the time, especially in relation to the East. 

When emperor Justinian learned of the election of Pope Agapetus, he immediately sent a written profession of faith to the Pope. This is an interesting fact, being that most of the Orthodox today would say the pope only held a primacy of honor and not any real authority in the Church. Yet not only did Justinian send a profession of faith to the newly elected pope, he also sent a request dealing with the Arian heretics in the East seeking to be reinstated in the Church. Justinian did not know how to deal with the influx of ecclesiastical Arian heretics who wanted to return to the Church in the hierarchy. Justinian wanted to allow certain reconciled heretics to return to their offices in the Church in the East, so he petitioned the pope to solve this issue.

Emperor Justinian as depicted in San Vitale, Ravenna.

The pope sent a letter to Justinian accepting his profession of faith while preferring to send legates to address the other question, since canon law at the time generally forbid heretics to enter into orders.  There was also a general council being held in Carthage dealing with this same question, and the pope was also asked to address the council. The council asked the pontiff if it were allowed to confer orders on those who had been baptized by Arians. Pope Agapetus responded and denied the reinstatement of the Arian bishops. He also said that converts were not to be admitted to Holy Orders lest they corrupt the entire priesthood. This is how serious previous popes took the Catholic faith. Pope Agapetus, unlike the lax attitude of the popes of our day, he left nothing to chance when it came to the teaching of the faith. Unlike our time where ignorant Protestant converts can come into the Church and immediately start teaching the Catholic faith without any litmus test, past popes would have had none of this. 

This particular controversy however is not the end of this great pope dealing with the East. In his short reign he would pack his bags and borrow money to travel east to meet Justinian in a dispute concerning the stamping out of the Gothic domination in Italy. The East's most glorious general, Belisarius had taken the imperial fleet and anchored it off the coast of Sicily with intention of taking parts of the Italian peninsula back from the Goths. This however meant certain death for those in power at the time. So they petitioned the pope and Constantinople for a sum of money and to be allowed a peaceful exit. Pope Agapetus, a very humble and poor servant of God wanted to travel to settle the dispute, but had no means of wealth to make such a journey. He had to borrow money in order to make the trip east, even putting some of the treasures of St. Peter's up for collateral. Such was his desire to solve these issues. 

St Agapetus arrived in the gem of the East, Constantinople on Feb 2nd of 536. Upon arrival he found there was further trouble, being that a Eutychian bishop named Anthimus had been allowed to serve as bishop of Trezbizond. Pope Agapetus would have nothing to do with him despite the empress Theodora’s and Justian's insistence to the contrary. Anthimus was given an opportunity to sign the confession of faith, which he denied, and the Pope himself deposed him. St Agapetus withstood Justinian to his face, and Justinian once again gave St Agapetus his confession of faith. At the same time the Church in Alexandria petitioned the pope to further stem the Eutychian heresy. As a result, St. Agapetus planned to call a council to solve the problem. In the meantime he tried to negotiate with Justinian as to how Belasrius should deal with the problem in Italy. Just before the council could be held to deal with the Alexandrian controversy, Pope Agapetus died unexpectedly on April 17th 536. 

With so much on his plate there was great anguish among the faithful in Constantinople. Contrary to what modern Orthodox clergy would have us think, the faithful in Constantinople were not upset at the presence of St. Agapetus, in fact it was quite the contrary. An eyewitness in Constantinople says that “It was a festive day for him… but a season of deep mourning for us. Never were such obsequies celebrated for pope or emperor. Not all the public squares, nor the porticoes, nor the housetops could contain the vast crowds that thronged around the funeral car. Constantinople now saw all her subjects within her city walls.” His body was transported back to Rome where they were laid in the basilica of St. Peter’s.

Where is Pope Francis leading us? 

This little history lesson gives an important perspective on what the reform of the papacy should mean for us today. The laxity in which the modern popes operate by today is certainly in need of reform. The pope is indeed the supreme pontiff of the Church both East and West, and he should prudently act as such. As we can see with St Agapetus, there was no laxity in his resolve that the faith be taught without error and that no compromise should be given to those outside the Church concerning doctrine, dogma, faith and morals. What we are seeing now in the operations of the papacy is in my opinion a failure to teach the Catholic faith clearly and with a firm confidence as to its authenticity. When was the last time you heard a pope demand a bishop to sign a declaration of faith or be deposed? If we roll the clock up to the more recent pontificate of Pope St. Pius X we indeed see much of the same character of a Pope St. Agapetus. All clergy under Pius X were required to sign the Oath Against Modernism. This of course was done away with after Vatican II, much to the detriment of the faith.

So we find ourselves in need of a reform yes, but a reform of different sorts than is being called for by many in the Church today. We cannot continue in the lackadaisical approach, which John XIII began with his pontificate. Unity is not won by compromise of the Catholic faith. The Orthodox must come back to the same disposition they had back in the time of Pope St. Agapetus, sign a Catholic confession of faith, and only then will unity be restored.

Source: A General History of the Catholic Church Vol II- M. Labbe J. E. Darras