"Death of Death!"
Rapidly dressed in the silence of a blacked-out church at midnight Mass, the sudden illumination of a truly resplendent Easter sanctuary lives in the memory. Only once have I seen it pulled off perfectly; by the priests and students of a traditional seminary I attended in the early 90s. After that apogee, one perceived even more acutely how minimalistic altar dressings performed in full view (sadly the norm) negate the symbolism, kill the joy, and miss the point. For only a truly majestic transformation, instantly unveiled, can approximate Magdalene's ecstasy: when the 'gardener' was revealed in His divine light; when the dead weight of the torture, agony and death finally lifted; when everything was made new! [Rev. 21:5]
It is, of course, a comical approximation. The switch is flicked, the lights come on: we know the outcome. Not so the Eleven, the disciples, and the women (to exclude Our Lady). To glimpse the bestial reality of Calvary, as in the following articles, is to better understand the debilitating dread that fell upon Our Lord's little flock, sapping their faith and belief.
As signified by Magdalene's behaviour at the tomb, all the signs and wonders they had observed, even the mighty Lazarus experience, did not prepare them for Our Lord raising Himself from the dead — especially from a death like that. No wonder they were yet to comprehend that although He had died, "he killed death. ... He assumed it and he killed it." Instead, they looked for death in Christ even though it was no longer there. "It used to be there but there it died. O life, death of death!" exclaims St. Augustine, exhorting us to "Take heart: [since]... What was fulfilled in the Head will also be fulfilled in the members and death will die in us, too."
Deprived of our blessed benefit of 20/20 hindsight, however, the rudimentary Church was left to contemplate the nightmare of Calvary; to chew it over and over, "mourning and weeping," wracked with doubts. Poor St Thomas carries the can in perpetuity for all the other doubters, who get off lightly. The perplexed and mournful duo on the road to Emmaus, for instance. Rather than dismay us, they elicit fond thoughts and wry smiles as they trundle along, deep in conversation. This indulgence probably lies in our sad familiarity with their failings. As the Universal Living Rosary Association neatly explains:
The pilgrims of Emmaus had created for themselves an image of Christ which did not, in any way, correspond to reality. When they saw Him die, something of their faith and confidence in Him died also.
The same thing happens to us when we do not obtain that for which we pray. Many times, we expect something which God does not see fit to give us. In our troubles, we fail to see Christ walking beside us. Now, in the Joy of the Resurrection, we are made to realise the value of suffering — of God's suffering and ours. We see that the radiance of a future resurrection lies over every pain or sorrow and we can see that our suffering united to His, makes us grow in Grace and gives us strength to leave self and enter into God, Who is our Resurrection and our Life.
Demonic Pincer Movement
Ergo: though we pray to be spared undue affliction, should it please Almighty God to do so, there will never be a shortage of pain and sorrow. They are hardwired into the nature of things: both to endure and unite with the Passion and Victory of Christ the Redeemer. "We cannot pronounce the Resurrection without the Cross. There is no second or third way," Cardinal Müller recently reaffirmed to a German daily. This is why the Problem of pain is only problematic to doubters insofar as they fail to consider the Purpose of pain; how Christ came not to remove suffering and sorrow, but to fill and renew them with His Presence — even and especially the daily sufferings of our Middle Eastern brethren at the hands of the wicked.
For our part, while not yet bombed, butchered and exiled, our own white martyrdom is no trifle. We suffer in the depths at the ongoing evisceration of our beloved Faith; suffering intensified by the unholy alliance of counterfeit clerics and atheistic powers. While the former preach a social gospel of justification by mercy alone (read Christ without Calvary), the latter wage legal jihad against Catholic faith and conscience. This demonic pincer movement — the squeezing of all faith and life out of the Western Church — is our painful, humiliating lot.
War of the Worldlings
The exterior attack is a daily bombardment that only varies in means and intensity.
Recent demands by a New York Times columnist and a corporate leader that Christianity "must be made" to abandon its "ossified" morality and accept pagan immorality and perversion — "to take homosexuality off the sin list" — flags the totalitarian intent. Ratcheting up by the month, bills signed in March and April, by the Governors of Indiana and Arkansas respectively, wipe out conscientious objection on religious grounds: preventing Christians any legal defence whatsoever against charges of 'discrimination' based on 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity'.
Less strident Christian-cleansing was typified by the recent 'punishment' meted out by the French Ministry of Defense to Bishop Luc Ravel of the French Military Ordinariate. For denouncing abortion as "a weapon of mass destruction," he was told to cease using any emblems identifying himself with the army. It seems the Bishop's words and actions contradict "republican values." Much like his glorious forebears, who so offended the Revolution of liberté, egalité and fraternité that it invented genocide to eradicate Catholic objectors to those same secular-masonic "values" [see Aug-Sept 2014]. The martyrs of the Vendée would weep tears of joy to hear Bishop Ravel speaking truth to power like a true shepherd. "Christians feel shackled between two ideologies," he truly wrote:
On the one hand an ideology that is a caricature of God, which has contempt for man. On the other hand, an ideology that manipulates man, despising God. On the one hand, we have those who are declared and known: the terrorists of the bomb, the Prophet's avengers. On the other hand, we have terrorists of thought, the proponents of secularism, the admirers of the Republic. In what camp is a Christian to find himself?
We do not want to be held hostage by Islamists, but we also do not want to be slaves of correct thought. Islamic ideology has led to 17 victims in France, but the ideology of thinking correctly [political correctness] creates annually two hundred thousand victims in the womb of the mother. Abortion has become a fundamental right and a weapon of mass destruction.
One hopes that His Lordship speaks out just as forcefully against the Kasperian ideologues now manipulating Catholic orthodoxy into a weapon of Modernist mass destruction of souls? If not, his fine summation of the Culture War is futile. As are all good secular critiques by prelates and priests who do not take a clear stand in the Civil War within: especially against those like Archbishop Vincent Nichols who dare to deny it even exists!
After 461 priests invoked his displeasure by publicly declaring their orthodox allegiance — through a published appeal in firm defence of Catholic Truth and Tradition — Archbishop Nichols could not contain his liberal wrath. He sullied the Easter Chrism Mass with a pouting rebuke of the clerical signatories, stating it was wrong "to think or speak of this Synod [on the Family] as a battle, a battle between contesting sides."
Please. Not only are there contesting sides, he himself has long and publicly opted for Team Judas: the ecclesiastical 'pincer' helping the worldlings to crush and reshape Catholicism in the dissolute image and secular likeness of Martin Luther: to reduce the Church to a religious showpiece of the New World Order; a handmaiden of its masonic 'values'.
"Astonished" by the Archbishop's denial, SPUC's highly respected Chief Executive, John Smeaton, blogged on 10 April:
I was present in Rome during the Extraordinary Synod, working with representatives of other pro-family organisations as part of the Voice of the Family coalition. It was plainly evident to us, after numerous meetings with prelates on both sides of the divide, that a battle was taking place over crucial aspects of Catholic teaching and discipline relating to marriage and the family.
George Cardinal Pell, Prefect for the Economy, publicly stated that "radical elements" within the hierarchy were attempting to use the synod to undermine Catholic teaching on questions such as cohabitation and homosexual unions. They were, he said, using the issue of Holy Communion for the divorced and "remarried" as a "stalking horse" to help pursue these wider changes.
These attempts to undermine the doctrine of the Church were strongly resisted on the floor of the synod hall, resulting in a partial reversal of the radical agenda outlined in the now notorious interim report. The final report remains gravely flawed however, as outlined in Voice of the Family's in-depth analysis.
This serious division between leading prelates is widening as the Ordinary Synod approaches. Cardinal Marx, Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, has claimed that the Church in Germany is not “a subsidiary of Rome” and that each bishops’ conference must “preach the Gospel in its own, original way.” Cardinal Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has called this idea “absolutely anti-Catholic” and another German, Cardinal Cordes, has accused Marx of false mercy, “theological blurriness” and language better suited to the “counter of a bar”. Furthermore Swiss-German Cardinal, Kurt Koch, has stated that the dissenters are trying to adapt the faith to the world after the manner of some German Christians under the Nazi regime.
Cardinal Koch has nailed the nature and intent of the Team Judas Totalitarians: true sons of Annibale Bugnini. The late architect of the New Mass openly held that unless the Church accommodated itself to secularism, it could not survive. Hence his Novus Ordo Missae at the service of the Novus Ordo Seclorum. Hence the naturalistic echoes in his secular soulmates Cardinal Marx and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, both of whom insist that the Church needs to take the "realities" of daily life much more into account and, accordingly, adapt her own moral teaching and pastoral practice. The subversive Bode even speaks of these "life realities" as a source of Revelation! Siding with Christ against the spiritual sons of Annibale, CDF-gatekeeper Müller firmly condemned Bode's heretical notion:
Wherever one puts mere human considerations or even the power of facts on the same level as Holy Scripture and Tradition, one departs from the foundations of Catholic theology.
Heading off sophistic attempts by Bode & Co. to rationalise their insane project — to dovetail secular humanism with Catholicism — Cardinal Müller added that
[The Church] cannot accept a humanism without God nor an attempt at an ideological self-redemption. Christ is the Redeemer of all men. ... The life realities in each epoch offer a mixture of opportunities and risks. The Church proclaims always and everywhere the Gospel of the particular vocation of each man: to find in God here on earth, and beyond death, meaning, happiness, salvation and eternal fulfillment. The path to it is the imitation of the Crucified and Resurrected Lord.
Yet still the social gospel is preferred and preached by complicit prelates and their clergy.
Team Judas Ireland
Take the secular line pursued relentlessly by Archbishop Martin of Dublin, as typically quoted and lauded here by the Irish press:
"The language of the 'No' camp (against Same-sex marriage) is not just intemperate but obnoxious, insulting and unchristian in regard to gay and lesbian people... There can be an ethic of equality, which is an ethic of recognising and respecting difference...," he said.
Dr (Diarmuid) Martin suggested that a pluralist society could be creative in finding ways in which people of same-sex orientation had their rights and their loving and caring relationships recognised and cherished in a culture of difference. "I'm not saying that gay and lesbian people are unloving or that their love is somehow deficient compared to others, I am talking about a uniqueness in the male-female relationship," he said. [Irish Independent, 20/3/15. My emphases.]
That snippet alone explains how and why, since his instalment as Archbishop of Dublin in 2004, His Grace has overseen the steepest falls in Catholic identification and practice since the Council. His compromise and complicity was summarised by the All Passing Things [APT]blog on 31 March:
If the Church's worst enemies were to pick a leader to place in charge, they could not ask for one to abandon, dismay and disorientate Catholics as much as he has done. Instead of conversion, instead of doubling down and keeping the faith with those little numbers who actually attend Mass each week, Diarmuid Martin has taken the option of choosing to praise secularism, castigating opponents of same-sex 'marriage' and lambasting young seminarians who are not liberal enough.
These past few weeks, his comment on the same-sex 'marriage' referendum have been the actions of a man who wants to make life as easy as possible on himself when the legislation inevitably passes (with his help). The essential theme of his reign as Archbishop has been compromise and deference towards a society which thinks that he and his Church, traditional and liberal members alike, are pieces of dirt to be despised, mocked and persecuted. He is a master of ambiguities, with the intention of presenting himself as the kind modern face of a Church regarded as both rigid and bearing self-righteous antagonism towards the general population.
His stance on homosexuality is particularly unnerving.... His aforementioned comments about homophobia, equating it to being against God Himself... was not isolated, however. His track record has offered much encouragement to those who want to destroy the sacrament of marriage. In response to Bishop Doran condemning the farcical assertion that the word 'family' should apply to two homosexual men who pay a vulnerable woman to give birth to a child for them to purchase, Diarmuid Martin joined in with those howling that Doran's comments were examples of hate speech, stating:
"I believe certain types of language are inappropriate. I hope that people were not offended by it.... There are very many, many definitions. I think that we should look on that variety of situations in a way that is more positive. We shouldn’t use phrases that may offend people."
Captain of Team Judas Ireland, Diarmuid thereby substitutes for the original Ten, his truncated Commandments of Complicity, Compromise & Capitulation: 1. Thou Shalt Not Call Sin By Its Name; 2. Thou Shalt Respect The Sin That Cries to Heaven; 3. Thou Shalt Not Offend The Sinner. Stripped of Truth, Love, and Mercy, these secular commands are zealously preached and strictly followed by his faithless Team-mates.
"It is significant," continues the APT commentary, "that the Association of Catholic Priests [ACP] have decided to finally show their true colours and endorse state-sanctioned same-sex 'marriage', through the most pathetic of cowardly statements." A weaselly morass of political correctness, it read as follows:
After a consultation with our members, the results of which indicated clearly a wide range of views, the Association of Catholic Priests has decided not to adopt a position in favour or against the Marriage Equality referendum.
At the same time we appeal for a respectful and civilised debate in which the issues involved can be discussed in a calm and reasonable manner. Sexual orientation does not debar anyone from God’s love. If as priests we are speaking on this matter, we need to remember that the use of intemperate language can cause deep hurt among gay people and their families, as well as doing further damage to an already ailing church.
The ACP asserts the particular responsibility that devolves on priests to measure their words carefully, and not to direct their parishioners to vote Yes or No.
We look forward to a debate that will be characterized by freedom of speech and respectful listening so that the best result for the Irish people might be reached.
"The most chilling aspect of all of this," notes APT, "was that God was mentioned only once in the statement, and that reference itself was a deliberate attempt to suggest that living in a state of mortal sin is compulsive when the urge arises. The Association very deliberately chose to make no distinction between an attraction and the actions related to living out said attraction." Meanwhile:
Fr. Brendan Hoban [of the ACP] spoke on RTE Radio about this topic with words that were far removed from Catholicism. ... He tells people to look at the issues and make an assessment of them. (Quick look, it's a mortal sin. It's that simple.)
Not so elementary for Captain Martin and his Team, however, for whom concepts like 'mortal sin' and 'perversion' are outworn relics of our dogmatic past. "The Church is in a challenging moment, but it won't be solved by throwing books of dogma at people," smirks His Grace. The real solution — his Big Idea — is to feed them schmalz instead. "I doubt that the God of love will question how we vote [on sodomitic 'marriage'], but rather the love in our hearts at the time of our decision," emoted an ACP supporter, echoing limp calls by Archbishop Diarmuid and Father Brendan to avoid all 'hurt' during the debate. "What sort of effeminate nonsense is that?" cries the APT:
Have they spoken out against the hatred being spewed against Catholics for upholding the Church that he says is ailing? If the Church is ailing, it is because men like Hoban and his associates have no conviction, no desire to save souls. Why would anyone want to join their Church?
Why? Precisely because their fuzzy Newchurch is not the principled True Church. Informed by the Anti-spirit of the Ex-Apostle, its emoting priesthood is far from the Apostolic Spirit; a mere simulacrum of the dogmatic priesthood of Jesus Christ. Not even in his weakest moments, for instance, would a True Priest of the True Church view Catholic efforts to push the facilitators of mortal sin back into the swamp as a counter-productive exercise. Yet apropos the referendum, Fr Hoban warns that "A positive result for ‘Catholic’ forces [i.e., by defeating evil forces] could do huge damage to the Irish Catholic Church"! Has a choice for Judas and against Christ ever been more succinctly put?
Supposedly disparate, what unites the external and internal pincers — the Obamas and Dolans, Merkels and Marxes, Kennys and Martins, the sodomites and liberal clerics — is materialism: a naturalistic outlook expressed though realpolitik. Like their secular counterparts, the Judases view doctrine as subject to practical and material factors. "Realpolitik," notes Fr Ray Blake, "tends to shy away from martyrdom and favour compromise."
Having first sold out his Eastern brethren to the Communists behind the back of his boss, Pius XII, Giovanni Battista Montini later made realpolitik the papal lynchpin of his compromising and deadly Ostpolitik. Only the cast-iron protection of the Holy Spirit stayed its corrosive influence on his contraceptive deliberations. Ever since, the seeds of realpolitik have yielded rotten fruit: personified by the compromising Archbishop of Dublin and his sissified, emotionally incontinent ACP.
Standing four-square against that corrupt status quo, the 461 British signatories reflect "a past model of priesthood" openly despised by Diarmuid Martin. Ditto Vincent Nichols, who wishes away their righteous cause despite the apocalyptic "battle" captured in these clashes (from just a single week in March!):
But enough! Yes, there is indeed a fierce battle "between contesting sides." And, yes, like the Archbishop of Westminster and their Reformation ancestors, most English bishops have decamped to the wrong side. Again! Openly or defacto, with liberal zeal or lukewarm sloth, most other Western prelates have joined them. Yet far from all! For Archbishop Nichols to deny the epochal parting of ways proclaimed by Cardinals Burke, Müller, Koch, Brandmüller, et. al., and again herein by Archbishop Lenga, is not only clownish, it doesn't change the fearsome reality one iota. Indeed, the current Synodical conflict is long overdue: the cleansing public clash we have awaited ever since the Modernist storm-troopers broke cover at the Council and began waging open war on the Faith.
Since a member of that liberal fifth column now sits on the throne of Peter, a denouement of one kind or another seems imminent. Every Catholic must,therefore,choose sides. Like their bishops, many will make a false choice. As Father Faber noted, "Good men on the wrong side" is a recurring theme of our long history. Yet to think the choice can be avoided is just as delusional as denying there is a choice to be made in the first place.
Before this perfect storm within and without, our thoughts turn reflexively to our brave and faithful brethren of every age and nation: to Nero's Circus and the catacombs; to the Vendée; to the Suffering Churches of the East. Some prelates now frame our own plight in these stark terms. "I expect to die in bed," said the late Cardinal George of Chicago, "my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square."
Only by drawing ever closer to the Person of Christ through regular meditation on the brutality of His Passion — the mad love it signalled; the imperishable victory it won — will see us calmly through the gathering darkness. Blogger Anna Barnhardt recently emphasised that Our Lord Himself has repeatedly told many saints and doctors of the Church:
THINK AND PRAY ABOUT MY PASSION AND DEATH. Why? Because thinking about Our Lord’s torture, agony and excruciating death forces us to confront Him as a Person, True God AND True Man. Legal systems don’t sob until their capillaries burst. Philosophies don’t suffer the agony of unrequited love. Imaginary friends don’t lay down their lives. Bureaucracies don’t fight asphyxiation by pushing themselves up on their impaled feet.
Only a PERSON can do these things. Only a DIVINE PERSON did. And remember, He would go through His ENTIRE PASSION just for you alone, and He would go through it REPEATEDLY for you alone.
He does, in fact. Not only in its unbloody renewal in each Sacrifice of the Mass, but in His daily suffering of rank betrayal.
And yet, as ever, rumours of the demise of the Body of Christ are greatly exaggerated. The Holy Shroud affirms that death failed to kill Him. As have all the wannabe Christ-killers from Caiphas to Lenin. Likewise, Team Judas and the Sons of Sodom will have their effete and wicked way before they, too, behold the face of the Man of the Shroud in His Resurrected glory — at Judgement:
"Whoever believes... has eternal life, but whoever disobeys ... the wrath of God remains upon him." [Jn 3:36]
In holy fear of our own Judgement, therefore, let us stand firm. Buoyed by "the death of death!", let us face down our enemies on all sides with a faith that lights up the encircling gloom! Belief all the more meritorious, since "To believe in the light at noon does not have great merit. To believe in the light at the darkest hour of one’s night, when one has the impression that everything is plunged in darkness forever, that is a truly beautiful thing."