Catechism of the Catholic Church (675)

'Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.' ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church (675)

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Three Years Later

On this day, in 2013, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Church and the World by resigning the active ministry of the Petrine Office, while remaining "in the service of prayer, so to speak, in the enclosure of St Peter".

Three years later, it has become abundantly clear that the man who assumed the vacant Chair left by Benedict XVI was and remains, an unswerving ideological opponent of the Pope Emeritus.

For those who think that such a description of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio - who became who we now know as Pope Francis - to be unfair or unjust, or misleading, a relatively brief assessment of these three years which have quickly passed may be helpful.

Whatever history says of the still controversial resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, history itself is not the ultimate judge of a man. The judge of every man is Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose Vicar on Earth, Benedict XVI was. I say 'was' because, like the vast majority of Catholics, I assume that this title now belongs to his Successor, Pope Francis.


On a macro-scale, the Catholic Church has been thrown into a crisis of perhaps hitherto unprecedented proportions. So much has changed, most notably, in the public image of the Pope and the Church. The man who Austen Ivereigh dubs, 'The Great Reformer', Pope Francis, has expended huge amounts of energy in cultivating an image of the Catholic Church which is astonishingly human, so human that it is not an exaggeration to argue that we could be forgiven for thinking that under the reforming Pope of our current times, the Catholic Church is experiencing, on a general scale, a cultural revolution of secularisation effected through an engineered collapse of the Church's fundamental tenets of belief. Quite simply, Pope Francis is, in terms of the message going out to the city and the world, for the Catholic Church, our 9/11. Whatever is knocked down can, however, be rebuilt.

And while it cannot be exaggerated just how very damaging this cultural revolution - effected from above, mostly, though not totally, through public relations - is, precisely because it comes from the summit of the Church, what Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Cardinal Raymond Burke have called a 'crisis' is, in my opinion, like Lent and Passiontide, only a prelude to, a preparation for, the birth-pangs of, something else entirely. For what we look forward to in Lent is not simply an ecclesiastical event but the Resurrection of Christ our Lord and ultimately, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Resurrection of the Church, the Bride of Christ.

For full post click here...

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Pope Re-Opens wounds on Faith and Works


“Yet the danger always remains that by a constant refusal to open the doors of their hearts to Christ who knocks on them in the poor, the proud, rich, and powerful will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is Hell.”

~ Pope Francis, Lenten Message 2016



I find this an interesting quote for the following reasons...


It follows surely that:


a) Hell exists.

b) It is eternal.

c) Those who are condemned to it condemn themselves to it of their own free will. Christians and others can go there.

d) Lutherans and Catholics still disagree. Theology and Truth are not 'details' concerning 'doctrines' which 'the theologians' can 'iron out' in 'time'.

Ergo:

"I strongly disagree with what the Pope has said there."

Nothing has changed.

It is strange the Pope doesn't say these things to the merchants of the Prosperity Gospel, isn't it?

It is interesting to note that, even though His Holiness has a habit of preaching on the dangers of eternal damnation in very limited circumstances indeed, the Pope still maintains that faith must be fruitful in good works.

Just wait until the Lutherans find out. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Sorry!


Now that we know the Pope has made an apology on behalf of Catholics who were involved in defending the Church and the Truth during the Reformation, perhaps the Tyburn Tree Memorial can be 'modified' slightly.


Let's Remember What We're Celebrating...


The Vatican probably haven't yet produced promotional posters for the Holy Father's trip to Sweden to commemorate the Reformation with Lutherans. 

They can have this one for free.

Of course, if any Lutherans or even Catholics are offended by this poster, I'll let Fr Jack say on my behalf, rather than that of the entire Universal Church...

Saturday, 23 January 2016

A Redefining Papacy?

"Not just our feet but the wives also!": Not a lady in sight in this scene. 

“Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others, I too must think about a conversion of the papacy.” ~ Pope Francis

Pope Francis has made known his desire to convert the papacy, but will he leave it there?

I can speak only for myself but I'm quite terrified by the Pope's decision to have Cardinal Robert Sarah modify the optional Rite of the washing of feet which forms part of the Holy Thursday liturgy. Is "terror" too strong a word for how I feel about this? No, it is not for the implications of the Popes move are deep and potentially lasting.

Permit me to articulate why Catholics who care for the Church and for souls should feel shaken to his very core over this move by Pope Francis.

First, the collegiality and the 'synodality' of which we have heard so much. What happened to that? With a quick memo to the head of the CDW, with the flick of a pen and drawing upon that until now, dormant full, supreme power and authority that every Pope should rather fear than admire, like the nuclear button, we see Francis's real intent, which indicates pretty well that for all the talk of 'walking together' at the Synod, such talk serves no real purpose in concrete reality. There is nothing collegial or synodal about this striking at the heart of the Mandatum, this is simply, 'let my will be done'. Peter speaks and lo, it is made manifest. Isn't that what power is all about, eh? No good it being there if you can't use it once in a while, and all the while remaining just 'the humble bishop of Rome'.

Second reason for terror. It came from out of nowhere. Nobody suspected. There was no drip feed of Vatican gossip coming out about this. Francis is clearly running a tight ship. The bolt from the blue is psychologically effective. Now he has your attention. Now, you're really on edge.You're thinking, 'what's next'? Yes. That's most likely deliberate. This is a psychological battle. It is also a spiritual one.

Third reason you might be afraid. Until now Francis has not tried to amend (or upend) Church law to suit his personal views on liturgy or anything else (Edit: Oh, sorry, I forgot about the annulments law changes). Stay calm and pray the Rosary, but be sure, a clear message has been sent and he must surely know that. That message is this:

The law is now at the service of the Pope, not the Pope at the service of the law.

Got that message? Yes, now you have. That's why you don't know what is coming next. What has come before his arrival is not safe. If it is sacred, it is sacred only when it has been modified or adapted to the times or made custom to this Pope's interpretation of it. If Pope Francis retired tomorrow and a new Pope was elected and deleted Pope Francis's modification to the Rite would Pope Francis take it on the chin and say 'fair dos'?

Almost certainly not. You better believe, it's sacred now but what was sacred to every Pope prior to Francis is no longer sacred for all now. Got that? The fact is that in order to modify the law of the Church in regard to an ancient, if optional, rite so dramatically as to redefine the meaning of the rite, you have to believe that what it was before you amended it was wrong. You, (i.e Pope Francis)  had the right way, not the Church of Christ - and illegally - you did your best to do it 'my way' in your ecclesiastical career before you gained the authority to change it to your way. So you change it. What was is not now and what is now is better than what was. What was was less than good. It was deficient.

It was deficient even though the Person who performed the rite in the manner in which the Church had done it was the Eternal Word, the Son of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the way, never had a single 'escapade' in His Earthly Life.

The real reason why the message involved in this modification to the rite is so damaging and terrifying is because it is this:

The Church was wrong to faithfully imitate Jesus Christ in performing this rite as He Himself did.
Now that I have reformed it, the Church is right.

Humble, much? Jesus Christ did not wash the feet of any persons but male and as it happens, in His action, they were all ordained. They were His Apostles.  Pope Francis washes the feet of ladies, men and muslims. Who has the 'full meaning' of the rite? Jesus Christ and His Church who imitated Him or Francis? Now, after 2000 years we know the answer and it is to be inserted into the Roman Missal. Guess what. The answer is not Jesus Christ and His Church.

Personally, I had thought that the Pope's efforts to alter the culture of the Church was to be achieved through subterfuge, press release and interview, speeches, heavily packed and manipulated Synods and other mediums. Let's dispense with that now.  No reason here for false optimism. The Supreme Lawgiver has arrived.

The annulments train-crash that has canon lawyers and anyone concerned about the safeguarding of the sanctity of Catholic marriage deeply worried should have served as a warning to those who thought the Pope was just going to be a 'media marvel' who was to be unconcerned about law, who would simply flout it himself, preach vague homilies every day and hope others would come along for the ride. Let's dispense with that from this week. The law is (or was) an impediment to what the Pope wishes to achieve in terms of a 'deep impact' on the Catholic Church. This is the start, and he, among a few trusted confidants, knows what is next.

So you see why priests might feel a sense of terror. It is not so much what the Pope has done that is terrifying...it's WHAT he has done! It isn't the Rite itself. It's the RITE! Black can become white. White can become black. A rite with at least two sacred meanings, by use of law intimating that Francis now reveals the 'full significance' of the Rite, becomes, conversely, a Rite with a restricted, partially invented significance which was, as far as was hitherto appreciated, not intended by the Lord of Heaven and Earth. The Rite was about humble service of the priest to people, standing Alter Christus, but it was not about inclusivity.

Let's consider another rite over which there remains division in the Church and you tell me if this is completely outlandish.


What about the Sacred Rite the Mass?

For instance, Jesus Christ clearly intended that in saying 'This is My Body...This is My Blood...' He was giving Himself as heavenly food for the Faithful, even at the first Mass at the Last Supper. The Church understands that every Mass is not simply, only a 'gathering of Christians in community' but also the re-presentation of the Most Holy Sacrifice of Calvary and that the bread and the wine become the Body and Blood of Our Lord. The Mandatum isn't simply, only a humble act of loving service on behalf of Christ to sinful man. It is also symbolic of His intimacy with His (male) Pope and His (male) Bishops. It isn't either/or, it is both/and. Likewise the Mass isn't only a Sacrifice. It is also a Eucharistic meal. A Banquet.

But what if today or in future a Pope should come along who thinks that the Holy Mass is simply a community meal, simply the Lord's supper, rather than the Most Adorable Sacrifice of Calvary made truly, ineffably present in a bloodless manner in every place Mass is celebrated around the entire world?

Let's face it, there are enough priests around the world today who would not consider the Mass sacred in your sense of 'sacred', but who might think it could be made more 'inclusive', something that makes the whole community(ies) feel more celebrated and included. Not to get all apocalyptic on you or anything but let's face it...

The Church was wrong to faithfully imitate Jesus Christ in performing this rite.
Now that I have reformed it, the Church is right.

If just one action in imitation of Christ can be 'improved' following a period of reflection after which it was decided that it was deficient, then another can. What might these others be? The words of Consecration? The Rite of Confession to be changed to simply a counselling session? The rite of Baptism to a new formula?

For these reasons, I am deeply concerned about the change to the Mandatum. Fidelity to what Christ did, in one fell swoop, at least in the Novus Ordo, gone, just like that. Call me a 'conservative' if you like, but that's just scary.

Ah yes, the final reason it is scary: Because Francis, through homilies, statements etc is communicating to the Faithful that such 'surprises' as this, otherwise known as shocks from the earthquake that is this papacy, are coming from the God Himself, in contradiction to what has already been done by Christ Himself.

Fr Hunwicke has a post on the modification to the rite here.

PRAY. 

Postscript: I know I sound like a hysterical woman (no offence, ladies) but by the time I've calmed down, dear, I expect some other bombshell to be released. After all, as a commenter notes, we are promised monthly 'gestures' during the Year of Mercy. Was this one of them?

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Mandatum Would Have Featured Women But...


It all becomes clear now. 

If only Judas hadn't taken that detour and had simply gathered the women for the foot-washing rite, it all would have been so different.

It isn't recorded in the Gospel but...

 'I think we can assume it.'


Monday, 18 January 2016

For the Confused...

Just a few of the items found in the home of a traditional Catholic...
If, like me, you are confused by Pope Francis's words today on the Church, ecclesiastical tradition,  'obstinacy' to new(ness) and its relation to 'divination', please find below an explanation of what the Catechism teaches on such matters. Not that we need a Catechism anymore, for Truth itself, in the person of the Pope, has spoken...

In fact, let's burn those Catechisms with all its references to ancient beliefs and texts. They will serve as excellent and ecologically sound paper and wood burning stoves in honour of Mother Earth...Laudato Si! What wood is there around? Oh, let's burn our Crucifixes. After all, we've always put them up in veneration of Our Lord's saving Passion and to ward off the Evil one. Does not the very fact we have always done it serve to tell us we should abandon such a practice when but a word from our beloved Supreme Pontiff or his Successors would assure us of the great wisdom in doing so, despite what every one of his venerable and illustrious predecessors have said and done. Just wondering, does the god of surprises stop threatening a surprise should the next Pope be Cardinal Raymond Burke? Now that would be a turn up...

Idolatry

2112 The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them."42 God, however, is the "living God"43 who gives life and intervenes in history.

2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon."44 Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast"45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.46

2114 Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. Idolatry is a perversion of man's innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who "transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God."47

Point of Commentary 1. Just to be clear on this. It is perfectly possible for the flock of Jesus Christ to pay so much reverence to the Pope that, in theory, should a bad Pope lead them astray, they could follow a Pope into error and suffer the loss of their immortal souls, should he teach heresy or error, something which a Pope is perfectly capable of doing. This is an unfortunate fact of which the current Pope seldom reminds the Faithful. For example, a Pope could suggest that God may or will, within his own pontificate or in the future, reveal something new which He had not revealed which could contradict that which has been revealed already according to His good pleasure.

It so happens that the sin of idolatry could lead a Catholic into Hell, should he obstinately follow a Pope's teaching, should, for example, a Pope ever teach the doctrine that reception of Holy Communion while remaining unrepentant in mortal sin is just dandy with the Lord God of Hosts.


Divination and magic

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.

Point of Commentary 2. Just to be clear on this. It is perfectly possible for the flock of Jesus Christ to pay so much reverence to the Pope that, in theory, should a bad Pope lead them astray, they could follow a Pope into error and suffer the loss of their immortal souls, should he teach heresy or error, something which a Pope is perfectly capable of doing. This is an unfortunate fact of which the current Pope seldom reminds the Faithful. For example, a Pope could suggest that God may or will, within his own pontificate or in the future, reveal something new which He had not revealed which could contradict that which has been revealed already according to His good pleasure.

It so happens that the sin of divination (claiming some kind of power to know the future) could lead a Pope and his unfortunate followers into Hell, should a Pope ever obstinately believe and follow his own error - while claiming no source but his own esoteric "insight" - that God will  reveal something new that contradicts what God has hitherto revealed, thus communicating to the entire flock that God is not God and that ultimately, God is not, but rather that he is, in consequence, God. That might sound overly dramatic and simplistic, but hey, that's essentially what you're saying, if your telling the People of God to 'forget' what Christ and His Church has taught and believed, always and everywhere and believe something else instead. Don't blame me, or any other Catholic commentator, for drawing the only conclusion there is to draw when simple logic is applied in the process of examining the words of His Holiness Pope Francis.

To conclude, again I must ask why, if traditional customs in the Church are such an encumbrance to 'newness' of life in Christ, then why must Catholics maintain the very traditional custom of venerating, in any way, what a Pope says or giving it even a second's thought? Could we not just instead believe an individual Pope is mad, should we so choose, or an apostate or an infidel, according to what he says? His Holiness can only conduct such sifting and picking of those traditions that can stay (because they please him personally) and those that can go (because they displease him personally) by appealing to an Authority over the Church given by the Son of God to him, his predecessors and his successors, which is going on 2,000 years old, but I very much doubt His Holiness, even in his admirable humility, will ever tell us not to listen to him because listening to the Pope is what we did 'before the Second Vatican Council or before March 2013'.



With all that said, for 60 years, a multitude of Priests, Bishops and even Popes have been refusing to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass. For these men, how can they refuse when people ask for it. After all, "We can't embrace change because it's different to what we have always done!" simply won't wash now...

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Note to any rock stars who read Catholic blogs...


Courtesy of The Guardian

'David Bowie had everything. He was intelligent, imaginative, brave, charismatic, cool, sexy and truly inspirational both visually and musically. He created such staggeringly brilliant work, yes, but so much of it and it was so good. There are great people who make great work but who else has left a mark like his? No one like him.

I’m struck by how the whole country has been flung into mourning and shock. Shock, because someone who had already transcended into immortality could actually die. He was ours. Wonderfully eccentric in a way that only an Englishman could be.

Whatever journey his beautiful soul is now on, I hope he can somehow feel how much we all miss him.'

I think slowly but surely we are getting to the bottom of he Bowie bereavement. I can only presume this was what it was like when Elgar died.

I don't know at what point David Bowie 'transcended into immortality'. The first album, the second album, when he first got up on stage? His first cover of the NME? I suppose that it is possible that Ms Bush, having got famous herself (a clear sign of immortality), has, at some point, 'transcended into immortality' in that transition that takes place when, for years, perhaps decades, you can't get someone's song out of your head.

Note to any rock star readers: 

The truth is that you and Mr Bowie were immortal before you got famous and won acclaim for your musical gifts.

Every person has an immortal soul, our souls will be forever, either with God in eventual eternal happiness or separated from Him eternally. We cannot earn immortality, it is a gift from God. Each soul, which will one day be reunited with each body, will experience either eternal happiness or eternal punishment.

As for me, I'll pray for any dead pop star, but as well as praying for them, I might spend the next week praying for those musical artists who either have or will in the future die in utter obscurity having squandered their existence on smack, crack, pot, make up and sex with a multitude of sexual partners of both genders and who died not just unknown, but profoundly unhappy, because it was all in the pursuit of fulfilling the diabolically inspired desire to 'transcend into immortality' when immortality was already given.

No pop or rock star can change water into wine. No rock star can raise Lazarus from the dead. No pop icon can be your Lord and Saviour. In complete contrast to contemporary mythology, there is only one God, the Most Blessed and Undivided Trinity. A person who becomes famous, merited or unmerited does not become a king or a god, but simply a more widely heard of mortal. If there's one good thing about that, its that hopefully that means more people will pray for that person when they die.

However, each man and woman's soul is immortal, from the most unpopular and unloved beggar to the most acclaimed musician in the world and God's favour rests on the humble of this world. This is just one of the many truths that makes the Catholic Faith so beautiful, but a certain stumbling block to those impressed by the vanity and pride of this life and this world.



I do fear that those most deeply affected by the Bowie national trauma are not simply those who knew him and loved him, or didn't know him, but loved what little they knew of him, but instead those who, along with the unfortunates who 'make it' in the music industry, signed up to the post-50s musical polytheistic religion and worshipped him.

Alas, for that is what most rock stars seek. Unconditional adulation and adoration, seeking to replace their Creator in the minds and hearts of their 'fans'.

We Catholics worship the Immortal One who, for our sake, became a man and Who, despite suffering Death, conquered death, rose again and now reigns forever as King of Heaven and Earth.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Value Added Mass

I recently attended an evening Mass at a Church in the South East. I'm not a 'mystery worshipper' so, as is my habit, I'm not giving the name of priest or parish.

I've never been to a Mass wherein the (visiting) priest, who in this instance was senior in years, during Holy Communion, announced that he was going to play a "hymn" (which, was in fact, like all of the songs he played a kind of modern Christian 'pop' anthem about the Lord Jesus and how much he loves him).

The emotive device was also used at the beginning of Mass to serve as some kind of 'introit'. Whatever you think of modern Christian 'worship music', it really didn't flow well at all as the priest pressed a loud 'click' just 10 seconds into the 'second song'.

'Click!'

Followed by silence. It just doesn't work and what youths were there looked distinctly unmoved. Finally, at the end of the Mass, the exit 'hymn' was another modern 'vocals, guitar, drums, bass' Christian 'anthem'. The stereo device and its sound, its 'relevance', I think the priest thought 'added value' to the Mass. 'Click!'


However, all this modern musical innovation which I assume the priest thought added value to the worship of Almighty God, to the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or to our 'experience' took a backseat in my mind during the homily, in which the said priest gave the congregation the distinct impression that 50 years ago the Catholic Church taught that if you were not baptised then you wouldn't be able to enter Heaven, but now... '(insert your vague belief here-_______________').

The Mass took place on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord - a fine opportunity to remind us of our Baptismal promises and the Lord's command to His Apostles to go forth making adopted children of God of those who remain in the darkness of error and in slavery to Darkness's very own Prince.

For the first time in my Mass-attending existence, I approached the priest afterwards to politely, but reasonably firmly, ask whether he had basically told us the Church no longer believed Baptism was necessary for Salvation, as She once did. I covered the expected territory:

  • This teaching on Baptism is of the Lord. Christ said it. I repeated His view on the matter.
  • That no angel came had down from Heaven to tell the Church the teaching had changed.
  • That Baptism of desire was already a possibility to those who sought Salvation but did not have the opportunity to receive it physically from a priest and that the Church already taught that.

But the more we talked, the less Catholic teaching as I understand it seemed to matter. It was simply 'vacuumed up' when raised. There had been, in his mind at least, a 'great unveiling' of hidden truth five decades ago. He assured me that his moral theology was impeccable and that he was re-iterating Church teaching. On Baptism of desire, he agreed that the Church already believed it, but that the Church had not taught it openly but had 'hidden it'. But fifty or sixty years ago, it 'all came out', I guess was his point of view. No, he said that, I am sure. He seemed to think that (I assume he was referring to the Second Vatican Council), that fifty years ago things were revealed in the Church that changed everything, even our view of the necessity of Baptism.

He cited the days Scripture reading as the reason why this should be the case:

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

‘It is true, God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all men. You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.’

He treated this text as if St Peter was saying to Cornelius and his household (who I think were indeed baptised):

'The truth I have now come to realise is that God does not care whether people believe in Christ or whether they are baptised or not, just as long as the unbelievers and pagans follow their own religions and consciences as best they can'. It'll all be okay.

The priest believed that God accepts the Hindu who follows his path and who tries to be a good Hindu, the Muslim who does the same, the Jew and the unbaptised pagans. Conversion to any faith in Jesus Christ is not required. The priest really believed this. Of course, Christ never said this, but never mind. Let's not the Lord get in the way of a 70s zeitgeist perpetuating itself into 2016 and beyond.

 The priest really believed this and - irritating ad libbing and unnecessary low Mass stereo interference aside - implicitly told the congregation that the Church no longer believes in Baptism as in any way necessary for Salvation.

Oh - and he also suggested - no, said explicitly to me, that Pope Francis is the one who is 'lifting the lid' on all these hidden realities of the Church helping us all to 'see things as they really are'. This really is the dawn of the new age of the Church according to his mind, a new age that extends its love and mercy to the divorced and remarried also, who despite being, according to the words of Jesus Christ, adulterers, are simply now in "a tricky situation".

What was truly frightening in all this - oh and don't worry, we still ended the conversation with a 'Thank you, Father' handshake as one does at the end of Mass - was the way in which Christ our Lord and His actual words had been forced to so well and truly step aside. Nothing Our Lord actually said or did seemed any longer to have relevance any more. Where Liturgy was once able - or could be able - to speak of Christ's beauty and love, he had stepped in. We were not even allowed to communicate in silence.

Speaking with him, it became clear that relativism had truly come to reign while he taught me his doctrine that each person is judged not on what is objectively right and true, wrong and false, but on what a person thought was right and true, wrong and false - even if they were wrong. Extended to its logical conclusion, if the Hell Christ taught about existed, there would be very few people who would go there, rather than (in Our Lord's words) the 'many [who] go down that road', because sins and offenses only become real sins and real offenses to God when the person actually believes they are. That'll be a free pass for the unrepentant abortionist, I guess. Following his logic, every sin can become not just not a sin, but a virtue in the free exercising of conscience.

All this the priest told me, face to face, with no hint of embarrassment. He is retired and of no doubt he is of a generation of priests who were ill-informed and were not fed on Christ's truth, but modern scholars "interpretations". Not long after this Mass, I heard from another friend that the priest in his local parish has put up a picture of Adam Ant in the Presbytery for all-comers to see.

Over all, in terms of the homily, I sensed real contempt in the priest's voice for what the Church gave to Her children 60 years ago. Perhaps the message that went out to the pews on Baptism was sure and not so nuanced, but then Christ Himself didn't offer such nuance and at least the people 60 years ago knew what the mission of the Church was. No wonder people are left wondering what the mission of the Church is with homilies like the one I heard.

Yes, if you ask me, Pope Francis and this priest are singing from the same hymn sheet. The Church will only be 'relevant' in their view if She adapts to the mores and movements of the age, the 'beats of our time'. The priest was adamant that in terms of the Presence of Christ in the Church (he and I both remonstrated and pointed towards the Tabernacle) its primacy was in 'us', the body of Christ, rather than in the Tabernacle, in which is housed the very Body of Christ. In terms of 'Presence', and in terms of 'Christ', His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament appeared to be very, very secondary. One wonders, therefore, who is more worthy of worship? Us or the Lord Jesus?

For some reason, David Bowie - and all he represented or meant to music and our culture - has produced an industry of commentators within Catholicism since his death. Personally, I will always remember him as the guy who introduced us to 'The Snowman'. However, let us not miss an opportunity to reflect on what the artist sang and just how much he and the Church in modern times, agree....Makes you wonder whether the Church influences the culture or the culture influences the Church?  Who is mirroring whom?

'Click!'



R.I.P

Sunday, 10 January 2016

How Do You Know?



Understandably, there has been much discussion of the first in the papal fireside chat video series that we are promised frequently during the Year of Mercy. Much like the spiritual hand-grenade thrown into the Catholic world on the Feast of the Holy Family (Our Lord Jesus Christ begging forgiveness for his 'escapade'), the inter-faith dialogue I-believe-in-love-so-let's-torch-2000-years-of-Catholic-teaching video is jaw-droppingly astonishing and really quite painful. Generally, with the video released in such close proximity to the Epiphany, at which we commemorate the showing forth of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, we can surely sum it up as being another 'teaching opportunity' sadly missed, because if we really needed someone to tell us 'all you need is love', we could have just listened to the Beatles.

One could mention the clear indifferentism shown in the video, on the Feast of the Epiphany, as others have, the lack of the Crucifix as a clear Icon of Christianity and much else. However, what really concerns me - among so much that I find quite eerie in this video - is this statement...


It's not followed by: '...Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life'.

It's followed by:  '...we are all children of God'.

I just have one question:

How do you know?

How does His Holiness, as a religious leader, lay claim to the certainty that 'we are all children of God'? How does he, as the Successor of St Peter, know with certainty, that God exists at all? Because, you know, if we are saying that God definitely exists, that is dealing in an Absolute.

What makes his claim to knowledge of God's fatherhood of humanity more important than that of an atheist? Basically, why should anyone believe him? Is it because the Lord Jesus said, 'Thou art Peter...' ? Because if His Holiness believes that's where his Authority comes from, we can be sure that there is much more than his statement above of which he can be 'certain'.

For instance, if the Church and the World should listen to the Pope because he is the Vicar of Christ on Earth, the Successor of St Peter, with all the authority invested him by the only Begotten Son of God, then that first principle of certainty ('I am certainly, for example, the Pope') means he can say, unapologetically, that many other certainties also exist.

These include 'certainties' like...

  • Jesus is the Son of God.
  • Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and nobody comes to the Father except through Him.
  • Many people believe in love, but Jesus is Love Incarnate.
  • The road to Heaven is narrow and few people find it.
  • Hell exists, just as Jesus taught, and it is eternal.
  • Those who divorce and remarry commit adultery.
  • Baptism is necessary for Salvation.
  • Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of God and drink His Blood, you have no life in you.
  • And much, much more...

Either Pope Francis is who and what he is by virtue of that Authority which Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God has given to him, or he is of no more importance or no more worth listening to than Richard Dawkins. His teaching credibility relies on the fact that he comes to us claiming authority given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ to 'teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit'. The incredibly limited framework within which the Holy Father says we can have 'certainty' has clear implications for him and his hearers. If he is certain that his unique authority to speak on matters of faith and morals comes from Jesus Christ, then other certainties flow from that - including the certainty that all that Jesus taught about Salvation is true. If he is uncertain about that, how can he (or we) even be certain of his message that 'we are all children of God'.

There is room for doubt, after all, because Christ taught the Pharisees who would not accept Him...


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