In the photo above, a priest baptizes a baby that will be raised by two women. This took place at St. Cecilia’s in California on 7 May 2017. P/C USA Today’s Desert Sun.
When a large homeschooling family brings their 9th baby to be baptized, that infant, at the moment of baptism, dies to the original sin in which it was born, comes out of the water risen with Jesus Christ and is a tabernacle of the Blessed Trinity, now beginning life as a son or daughter of God. When two same-sex guardians bring an infant to be baptized, that infant, at the moment of baptism, dies to the original sin in which it was born, comes out of the water risen with Jesus Christ and is a tabernacle of the Blessed Trinity, now beginning life as a son or daughter of God. Did you catch the difference between the two? There is no difference at the moment of baptism. Both infants are validly baptized, regardless of the sins or lack of catechesis of the parents, regardless of the orthodoxy of the baptizing priest.
However, the new Code of Canon Law that was released under Pope John Paul II in 1983 says that for any child to be baptized, there must be a “well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion.”—Can. 867.2.2. Many Catholic apologists and even canon lawyers today are making the mistake in believing that “the Catholic religion” includes only the sacraments. This is absolutely false. The Catholic religion has always, in every century, included these three things: Faith, Morals and the Sacraments.
So, can the Catholic faith be transmitted by same-sex guardians to a child? Yes. I am sure that many Catholic same-sex guardians of children can teach a child to believe in the Divinity of Christ and even the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Will same-sex guardians bring a child to other sacraments after baptism? Yes. I am sure that many baptized children will be brought by same-sex couples also to their First Communion. But what about teaching a child all the morals of the Catholic Faith? Will same-sex guardians include in their daily catechesis all sins against the sixth and ninth commandment? Will they include that sodomy is the most grievous sin against the 6th commandment? No, of course they will not include that in their catechesis. If they will not teach that, then they can not honestly say that there is a “well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion.”—Can 867.2.2.
Objection 1: But won’t most children of even heterosexual parents also grow up with poor catechesis? Wouldn’t it be the heresy of Jansenism to assert that only the most-well catechized children should be admitted to the saving waters of baptism?
I respond: There is a different between negligence and opposition. There has always been a difference in the pastoral discernment of the Church’s eyes between parental negligence in catechesis (which the Church has always been quite patient with) versus active opposition to morals of the Catholic Faith (a malice against the salvation of a child which the Church has not been patient with.) In fact, if a “straight couple” told me that they were going to expose their child to “straight porn” from the age of five years old onwards, I would also refuse to baptize that baby. Such an attitude indicates opposition to the salvation of a child, as well as opposition to the articulated faith and morals of the Catholic Church. So also with sodomy. Sodomy is not only a mortal sin against the 6th commandment. It is one of only four sins that the Catholic Church infallibly teaches “cries out to heaven for vengeance.” The other three are homicide (including abortion), oppression of the poor (especially the widow and orphan) and injustice to the wage-earner. Thus, a family missing Sunday Mass for a soccer game is indeed a mortal sin, but it is not a mortal sin that “cries out to heaven for vengeance.” If the legal guardians of a child are going to teach that sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance are not offensive to God, then they can honestly not raise that child in the Catholic faith.
Objection 2: Homosexuals actions may be serious sins, then, but does any child deserve to be sacramentally-deprived for the sins of his or her guardians or parents?
Certainly, any child in danger of death, regardless of the sins of its straight parents or “gay guardians,” should immediately be baptized. But for a priest to baptize a healthy child without a well-founded hope of success in catechesis in later teenage years is actually more of a detriment to the salvation of that child than not. Demons target a baptized child more than an upbaptized child, just as demons target a priest more than a baptized layman. To increase the cross-hairs on a child’s head without the toolbox to engage in spiritual warfare (including the rejection of the sins of sodomy) would only be to exacerbate the spiritual attack that such child is subjected to. Sodomy is a magnet for diabolical oppression in a home, and even full possession of its inhabitants. Even if you do not believe in demons as much as me, ask yourself a practical question: Do you really expect a child being raised in a household of constant and unrpentant sodomy will make it to the age of 10 without some type of sexual sin, even if heterosexual sin? Let us see what the Holy Spirit in the Bible tells us about returning to habitually and unrepentant grave sin after coming to Christ via Baptism. The Holy Spirit tells us through the first Pope, St. Peter, that “the last state has become worse for them than the first” and that “it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness.” See here:
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”—2 Pt 2:20-22
Objection 3: So do you just want that child to go its whole life without baptism?
I respond: Of course I want that child (and its same-sex guardians) to come to all the sacraments, but faith and repentance must come first. If the same-sex guardians of a baby actually do claim to teach the fulness of the Catholic faith to that child while growing up, then perhaps there is a good chance that he or she will want to be baptized a Catholic in his or her teenage years. This decision may also include the difficult decision of that teenager having to reject the homosexual sins of his or her guardians, at least in an implicit manner (as no charitable priest would demand an explicit rejection of such sins in public!) In any case, I would baptize such a teenager who was raised by same-sex guardians if he were to strive his best to be a Catholic. Notice that there is no request of moral perfection (à la Jansenism) for anyone approaching baptism or even confession. Nevertheless, the blatant and conscious and manifest rejection of any part of the Catholic Faith (including the 6th Commandment) is not an acceptable approach to any sacrament.
The early Catholic Church in the Roman Empire often baptized children of the age of reason who had rejected the paganism of their parents, even if the teenager’s approach to Christ was opposed by his or her parents (See Lk 14:26 and Mt 10:37.) Of course, it would be even better if his or her parents would accept Jesus Christ and also be saved. This is the same today for those in same-sex civil unions. In fact, if a same-sex couple had confessed their sins with repentance and firm resolution of amendment never to commit sodomy again and then approached me for the baptism of their baby or toddler, I would indeed baptize that baby. Still, I would ask that couple to refrain from Holy Communion until they lived separately, yes, even after a good confession. This is because Holy Communion is a public act, and reception of Holy Communion (even by celibate chaste people living together) is still a scandal. I hold this even for heterosexual couples awaiting an annulment, too, even if they are chaste. In other words, any straight or “gay” couple receiving Holy Communion while living together (even in continence) remains a public scandal.
Many beginning Catholic bloggers and even seasoned but misguided apologists today believe that the Council of Trent (an infallible Council of the 16th century) promoted the sacraments while Protestantism promoted faith. This is not true. A closer look at Trent reveals that no adult should approach baptism (or other sacraments) without first demonstrating supernatural faith and repentance of all their sins. What about infant baptism? Can an infant demonstrate supernatural faith? Of course not, as infants do not have much reason. Thus, the Church has always taught that either the parent or the godparent must demonstrate supernatural faith in proxy (in place) of the child. Remember: The sacraments are not magic tricks. The sacraments are not only ineffectual without faith, but even dangerous to salvation without faith. In short, the sacraments are quite worthless to salvation without supernatural faith. The Council of Trent below refers to an adult preparing for baptism, but the same must be said about the required supernatural faith (as well as hope and charity and adherence to all the commandments) in proxy of the infant via the total repentance of the godparents:
For, although no one can be just, but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth, by the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity. For faith, unless hope and charity be added thereto, neither unites man perfectly with Christ, nor makes him a living member of His body. For which reason it is most truly said, that Faith without works is dead and profitless; and, In Christ Jesus neither circumcision, availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by charity. This faith, Catechumen’s beg of the Church-agreeably to a tradition of the apostles-previously to the sacrament of Baptism; when they beg for the faith which bestows life everlasting, which, without hope and charity, faith cannot bestow: whence also do they immediately hear that word of Christ; If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. Wherefore, when receiving true and Christian justice, they are bidden, immediately on being born again, to preserve it pure and spotless, as the first robe given them through Jesus Christ in lieu of that which Adam, by his disobedience, lost for himself and for us, that so they may bear it before the judgment-seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, and may have life everlasting.—Council of Trent, Session VI on Justification, Chapter 7
And whereas the Apostle saith, that man is justified by faith and freely, those words are to be understood in that sense which the perpetual consent of the Catholic Church hath held and expressed; to wit, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification; without which it is impossible to please God, and to come unto the fellowship of His sons: but we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace.—Council of Trent, Session VI on Justification, Chapter 8
I attempted to prove in World Religions part I and part II that Catholicism is the only world religion that even claims to deliver lasting fulfillment to modern man. In this blog post, I will attempt to show that an “updated” Catholicism can never do this. Only real Catholicism can serve as “an antidote to chaos” to borrow a term from the best-selling book by Jordan Peterson. Yesterday, I drove from Denver to Chicagoland to be with my grandma for what may be her last month on earth. I am vigiling by her bed with both an iPad to get some work done and the old Collectio Rituum to begin the Litany of the Dying and De Expiratione if she should begin to actively die. (As I write this blog post at her side, she is sleeping peacefully and in no pain at 103 years old.) A few hours ago, before she fell asleep, I gave her extreme unction and the Apostolic Pardon. Below are the last words that a Catholic is supposed to say on earth before he or she goes before the judgment seat of Christ the Lord. If the dying person can not repeat the following words spoken by the priest (in the green squares of De Expiratione below) the priest will pray the following words in proxy for his dying parishioner:
Although we are not at the point of expiration with my grandmother, notice the beginning of the green boxes above: “O my God, I believe everything that the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church believes and teaches. In this belief, will I live and die.” Of course, these words were removed from the new rites. This is just one of a thousand things that we trashed that has led to chaos in the Catholic Church. When I was in seminary, I asked our dogmatics professor why we changed so much of the sacraments and dogma. He said that modern man’s “sensitivities” could not handle classic terminology. I believed him at the time. Another cup of modernist kool-aid I repeatedly regurgitated in seminary went like this: “Medieval man loved pomp and circumstance, but the early Christians just wanted simple faith and liturgy.” However, the answer to both errors is actually very simple: The early Church did not change her liturgy or dogma one iota to condescend to the “sensitivities” of the fleshy Roman Empire.
In an article by Edward Pentin, Msgr. Bux said this stunning line two years ago: “Perseverance in teaching and obedience to doctrine leads souls to eternal salvation. The Church cannot change the faith and at the same time ask believers to remain faithful to it.” Although this is a powerful theological statement, it is actually also a sociological statement that applies to even non-religious organizations: You can not rapidly change the mission statement of the Red Cross or Amnesty International and then expect the most passionate adherents to stick around in the club that lost its passion for a weaker creed. One more time that powerful line from Msgr. Bux: “The Church cannot change the faith and at the same time ask believers to remain faithful to it.” Indeed, we must ask: How could lay people expect anyone to take us priests and bishops seriously if we changed our religion to be more “sensitive”?
As I watch my grandmother during her last day or week or month on earth, I realize again there is no pendulum swing of Church dogma through time like a political cycle. It is not like my great, great, great, great great grandmother was a liberal Catholic in Ireland and my great, great, great, great grandmother was a conservative Catholic in Ireland and then my great, great, great grandmother was a liberal Catholic again. Catholicism was Catholicism was Catholicism until the 20th century. It had an unchanged dogma and liturgy. We can not change the faith and expect anyone to stick with it. The only fulfilling religion in the world is: Real Catholicism. It is the only thing that will restore order within the Catholic Church, and that—a restored Catholic Church in dogma and liturgy—is the only thing that will bring any semblance of a lighthouse to a shiprecked secular world.
Only real and unchangeable Catholicism can restore order to the current hierarchal chaos (diabolical disorientation) found in the clergy of the Catholic Church who can’t even agree if it’s night. Satan chose his targets cleverly, for we priests and bishops comprise the only tenable spiritual fatherhood that can restore order to the chaos found in the catechesis of the Catholic laity. The fifth chapter in Jordan Peterson’s book says the entire blueprint we need to institute the coming restoration of the Catholic Church: “Clear rules make for secure children and calm, rational parents.”—Jordan Peterson Rule #5 in 12 Rules for Life.
Apply this rule to the Catholic Church in the 21st century and it goes like this: Only a Catholic hierarchy that is “rational” (first of all, not so gay) will engender a Catholic laity that is “secure and calm.” This is why we need a real and total Catholicism to be re-instituted with no more of this childish fence-riding dubbed the “the hermeneutic of continuity.” This effeminate game has been tried, and it must now end. Real Catholicism is the only answer to bringing order to the Church, and the Church to the world, so that we can again prove what I tried to prove in my first two blog posts of this series: Only the blood of Jesus Christ transmitted through the Catholic Church can give glory to God on earth and save souls for heaven.
When we return to real Catholicism, we will be able to hear Our Lord again say to His bride on earth: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”—Matthew 5:14-16
Because this blog post will inevitably raise the question “Who can be saved?” I would like to give the two bookends within which all Catholic orthodox answers must fall. One the one end, Pope Pius IX wrote, “By Faith it is to be firmly held that outside the Apostolic Roman Church none can achieve salvation. This is the only ark of salvation. He who does not enter into it, will perish in the flood. Nevertheless equally certainly it is to be held that those who suffer from invincible ignorance of the true religion, are not, for this reason, guilty in the eyes of the Lord.” (Denzinger 1647, Ott 312.) Invincible ignorance means a person is ignorant of Christ and never had the chance to learn about Christ. There is a small chance an ignorant pagan could be saved if he had an implicit baptism of desire. However, the person who would have, could have, should have learned about Christ and His Church but chose not to out of laziness is still under vincible ignorance. Such a person can not be saved without a radical last-minute grace of perfect contrition. This is extremely rare.
The other bookend is found in the words of Christ: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”—Mt 7:21. That not all will be saved is also infallibly defined in the Council of Trent: “But though He died for all, yet all do not receive the benefit of His death, but those only to whom the merit of His passion is communicated; because as truly as men would not be born unjust, if they were not born through propagation of the seed of Adam, since by that propagation they contract through him, when they are conceived, injustice as their own, so if they were not born again in Christ, they would never be justified, since in that new birth there is bestowed upon them, through the merit of His passion, the grace by which they are made just.”—Chapter 3, Session 6, Council of Trent, 13 January 1547 under Pope Paul III. Therefore, it is a heresy to say that there is even a chance that all men are saved.
Today, the most simple members of the Catholic Church have heard over and over during the past few years that even atheists can go to heaven and/or that hell is either empty and/or that wicked souls are mysteriously annihilated before arriving in hell. If such heresies were true, then Jesus never had to die on the cross. If atheists go to heaven and nobody is in hell, then Jesus never had to rise from the dead, “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”—1 Cor 15:17. Modern theologians can not be correct on “good atheists” going to heaven because this would deny the words the Holy Spirit gave us through the Apostle Paul: “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists.”—Hebrews 11:6. Although Christ’s cross will never be emptied of its power objectively, if simple people go on believing our “top theologians” that atheists can go to heaven (and hell is either empty or not eternal) then more and more Catholics will ironically go to hell.
Last year when I needed a home, a family near Los Angeles gave me a small trailer home on a mountain overlooking the city. One day I was in Los Angeles at a Korean market to get some food. The place was so alive with hundreds or thousands of joyful people carrying strange fish with tentacles that looked like it would be served at a bar in Star Wars. It was a beautiful day in Los Angeles and I marveled at how Jesus Christ died for each one of these people. I thought about how I longed like St. Francis Xavier to preach the Gospel to all of Asia, and yet here they all were in a market in Los Angeles.
In the parking lot outside this market, I was listening to an audio book by Jordan Peterson called 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos where the author talks about how he was once overwhelmed to the point of despair as he encountered all the evil in history books describing Communist gulags. Peterson explained that when you lose all purpose in life due to evil, suicide becomes a possible way out. But then, without ever naming himself a Christian, Peterson reveals that we must begin to recognize humanity is already tainted with a pervasive selfishness (original sin?) and that the only other answer besides suicide would be “a responsible atonement” for all the evil in the world. With Asians from all over the Eastern world around me as I listened to his audio book, it hit me at that moment like a ton of bricks that Christianity was the only world religion that could even claim to bring meaning to people’s lives amidst so much suffering. With the cross and the cross alone, suffering is transformed into love. What I knew intellectually became so clear by experience that only Catholicism could bring order to society that is riddled by chaos, even if peppered by daily moments of happiness.
In the parking lot of that Korean market I began thinking of all the world’s religions. I thought of how Islam can not offer meaning or order precisely because their view of Allah is ultimately arbitrary, exemplified in that nominalism that Pope Benedict XVI named at the Regensburg conference. Pope Benedict XVI was correct that the Muslim view of God is nothing more than a capricious bully living out Nietzsche’s will-to-power. Muslims attempt in vain to grasp a divinity who lives so arbitrarily as to function in a manner that can only be described as “willy-nilly.” Practically speaking, if Allah tells you to crash two airplanes into two large towers full of people, you just don’t look for reasons or justification. You just do it. Some extreme Muslims (I mean, sharia-abiding Muslims) find meaning in this, but most Muslim consciences are deeply troubled by such a moral theology. Indeed, it must be lonely to believe in a God who has not made our brains in His own image and likeness. “Allah the Merciful” might be a common term in the Qur’an, but Allah’s peace only comes when the rest of the world submits to the sword of his rulers.
At that Asian market I began to think of the Asian world religions of the far East. The lay professor of a priest friend who taught in Minnesota once explained that when you boil truth down to the two simplest forms, the only two world religions presented to us are Catholicism or Buddhism. Here’s why: If truth matters, you should be Catholic. If truth does not matter, you should be Buddhist. But the modern Buddhist has only two options: Maximize pleasure or extinguish the desire for pleasure. Notice that both of these are essentially individualistic and selfish. This is why all the Caucasians who try out Buddhism in Boulder end up leaving their rice-bowls to drive Beamers. In some sense, I don’t blame them for this, because if there is no meaning to life, you might as well live it up with as much pleasure as possible! If we have no eternal destiny, then we should either extinguish our annoying itches for pleasure, or simply give into them. Both Buddhism and epicureanism essentially have nothing to do with anyone except: Myself. I blogged about both of these options in my last post on World Religions Part I: Three Options.
As I listened to Jordan Peterson in that Korean parking lot, I was watching so many beautiful families who were smiling and walking under the Los Angeles sun. I realized that modern-man can not live in the selfishness of Islam or Buddhism and still hope to survive here on earth, much less heaven. The families I saw made me realize in a new way that only Christ and His Cross could bring meaning through what Jordan Peterson called “responsible atonement” precisely because we were made not for pleasure, or the willy-nilly violence of Islam, or the selfish ascetic feats of Hinduism and Buddhism. We were made for an eternal relationship with God who is Love, and who transfers this love in many ways, including redemptive suffering. No universalist loopholes on salvation can rid us of this infinite desire ant eternal destiny.
The worst evil Peterson described in his book was Unit 731 where 3,000 men, women and children were used as living scientific experiments by the Japanese government between 1937 and 1945. How could there be any hope in humanity if live children could be experimented upon as they shrieked for hours in horrible pain? I hope Peterson sees that Christianity is the only religion that has God encounter the innocent suffering on the cross. Only Christianity can give any meaning to a world of sex-slaved children. CS Lewis points out that although thirst in the desert does not prove there is water in the desert, the reality of thirst does prove that there is water somewhere! Our hunger for our suffering to become redemptive in these days of relativism means that Christ is still offering to be our Living Water. Yes, as I watched all these people from around the world walk in and out of that bustling enormous LA market with smiling children and chests of ice and octopus tentacles, I realized that there was, more than ever, today the offer of Christ as the Eternal Living water being offered them.
Probably half of those Koreans I saw in that market were already Christian, but I want to stay on this question of Buddhists or pagans or Muslims obtaining heaven. Is it enough for a good Buddhist following his conscience to get to heaven? I know the post Vatican II answer is an immediate “Yes!” but such would not be the answer of a St. Peter Claver or a St. Junipero Serra. Although an implicit desire for baptism can save a non-Catholic person (as even Pope St. Pius X says in his catechism) this does not overturn the absolute necessity of baptism. In fact, baptism by water, fire or desire (even if implicit) is the only way to transmit to a sinful soul (every single one of us) the infinite merits of the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ to the soul.
With that Nota Bene out of the way, let’s try that question with in blue-collar Catholicism answer: Why couldn’t a good Buddhist get to heaven? Answer: Because the natural goodness of a good life can not reach the supernatural goal of heaven. For that supernatural life, we need the sacraments. Try, for a minute, to see this as a medical equation instead of a legalistic equation on salvation. A man can only do natural good. Therefore, only with supernatural help can man hope to reach a supernatural goal. This is transmitted through grace, beginning with the sacraments. Christ is not a privileged way, like some privileged theologians say. Rather, “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 6:23.
Never has the world been more hungry for the sacraments of the Catholic Church but never have erudite theologians been so embroiled in intellectualism so as to squash all international missionary congregations (and undeniable fact that happened to every missionary congregation immediately following Vatican II, with exceptions that can now be counted on one hand.) What would someone like St. Francis Xavier say to our “most educated” theologians today? St. Francis Xavier wrote this excerpt from Asia to Europe in the 16th century, but it could be written today to everyone in American seminaries today who promote that Jesuit priest Von Balthasar’s “Dare We Hope that All Men Might Be Saved?” For my part, I’ll trust the theology of the Jesuit saint who raised the dead. St. Francis Xavier wrote: “Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: There is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again, I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: ‘What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!’ I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.”
So, I ask myself today: How can we sit around Roman coffee-shops outside the Biblicum or Angelicum or “the Greg” in 2019 and lazily declare that a loving God would not send good pagans to hell? First, we must must begin by realizing that Christ longs for loving relationship with pagans more than us lazy theologians writing blog posts, for it is Christ Himself who says these shocking words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”—John 6:53-55. Secondly, we Catholics must realize that “He who knew no sin made Himself sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.”—2 Cor 5:21. In that sentence, “sin” is not a verb but a noun. In other words, Jesus Christ took upon Himself the filth of my sin, without Himself actually doing it, all with the goal of transmitting to me the holiness of God. This is an exchange that has been labeled Protestant, but substitution theology is in all the Church Fathers (linked at ) and this explains why I can not get to heaven without Jesus Christ’s bloody cross. Salvation must begin here on earth by surrender to Christ, not via last minute mind games with God (as all modernists all bank on.)
Can you imagine what a crushing exchange this must have been in the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ to take on my sins and give me His blood? Think for a minute that the eternal Son of God would transfer His love to me, while all I had was hatred of Him (Rom 5.) How can we contemplate that the pure Son of Mary would transfer His own purity to my soul while I scourged Him with my own sins? The scourging of Jesus at that pillar is said by all the mystics to have been the main atonement for sins of sexual impurity, giving Christ that weird word that is in both the Old and New Testament: Stripes. Yes, Christ took my sin in this marvelous exchange of love, so “that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed.”—1 Pt 2:24 KJV. Here St. Peter, the first Pope, is recalling under inspiration a direct prophesy of what Isaiah foretold in the suffering Messiah 600 years before the birth of Christ: “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.”—Is 53:5 KJV.
Even the nicest person alive today in Los Angeles or Nairobi or Paris has somehow, in some way, offended the infinite goodness of the Blessed Trinity. How could an infinite repair be made by a finite being? We are faced with a harsh truth from both the Old and New Testament: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.”—Hebrews 9:22. Doubly-difficult is the fact that not even the blood of goats in the Old Testament could forgive sins since goats could never provide a boundless and blameless sacrifice. Even the lambs of the Old Testament that were found in the flesh to be “spotless” and ready for sacrifice in the Temple could never be considered “boundless” to atone to an infinitely good God Who is also infinitely offended by sin. Thus, the only blood that could repair a single sin of mine or a billion sins of humanity against an infinitely good God would have to be the very blood of God-Himself. But God is pure spirit, so how could He have blood? Only by becoming a perfect man. But man is sinful, so how could flesh be carry the Divinity to earth? Even if this God-man wanted to die for the whole world, what vessel could contain such commensurate purity? Ah, this God would have to take flesh from something equally pure as Himself—the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary gave God the one thing He did not have: The ability to die for you and me.
We Catholic must tell the world about this wonder, not how they are already saved without Christ. What a blasphemy and a mockery of the cross of Christ it is to promote Von Balthasar on this topic. The cross of Christ will never be emptied of its power objectively, but if we continue to let modernist theologians teach the loopholes of the faith to seminarians and would-be missionaries, the cross will be nearly emptied subjectively. May it never be. May we begin to recognize bow down before that exclusive but all-embracing cross of Jesus Christ. May all priests begin at the restoration of the Catholic Church be able to repeat with St. Paul: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”—1 Cor 2:2-5
This is a picture I took of the enormous and lit mountain cross above the road that also contains my hermitage a bit farther up the road. ↩
CS Lewis once wrote, “Religion is man’s search for God, but Christianity is God’s search for man.” Whereas Divine Revelation only allows for one true religion, I believe that all of the current religions of the world can be boiled down to only three sustainable philosophies. Or, at least I believe that only three world philosophies could possibly coordinate to the desires of a post-modern man.
Epicureanism is to live for pleasure, but the original Greek promoter of hedonism, Epicurus (4th century BC), was more like an LA pot-smoker than a fast-paced NYC coke addict (something we usually think of when we think of the word “hedonism.”) This is because Epicurus taught that living for hard-core pleasure actually made the desires of the human person go haywire. Indeed, it’s not a very pleasurable life to have your desires turn into addictions, especially if pleasure be not moderated and controlled. Epicurus was way ahead of his time: A University of Colorado study recently proved that rats addicted to heroin actually had baseline pain increase in their life! The goal of Epicurus’ hedonism was for man to enjoy life for the long haul, not short sprints of excessive pleasure to burn out. The relaxed proposal of true Epicureanism was essentially to enjoy a little pleasure every day, all the while avoiding fear and pain.
Of course, hedonism has been the major drive of many tribes and nations through history before Epicurus. Me, myself and I always has come before God and neighbor, at least since Cain and Abel. Today, it is extremely prevalent in our American consumeristic culture, whether it takes the form of extreme pleasure, ranging from lazy sex addicts to hyper-athlete free soloers to the quiet retirement homes of Florida where euthanasia quickly snuffs out any hint of pain in your aging father or mother. Astonishingly, there is a correlation between a country’s suicide rate and their per-capita income: The rich kill themselves at extremely high rates. If you doubt me, just google the suicide rates for Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. It has a zero suicide rate, despite the fact that people eat dirt mixed with corn-meal on a regular basis. In any case, all this is to say that the rich man who seeks pleasure and comfort will usually die a death that is both unfulfilled and lonely. Clearly, this sad lifestyle can’t be indicative of a fulfilling philosophy. Nevertheless, this “American dream” has replaced the religions of many developing countries.
Buddhism is a little better that Epicureanism (notwithstanding preternatural influences on world religions.) In fact, historically, Buddhism was born directly of Hinduism in India, which is why I consider Buddhism here to be the highest encapsulation of all Eastern religions. Like Epicurus, the Buddha discovered that high-intensity pleasure-seeking always left him feeling empty. However, the Buddha’s path to peace and nothingness (Nirvana) was a much higher goal than simply Epicurus’ lack of pain. Buddha proposed it be done via a more scientific program, too: To eliminate suffering, one must eliminate the desire (or expectation) of various human pleasures. This program of detachment was done by the Buddha’s 8-fold Noble Path that has been described more as a philosophy than a religion. Nowadays, the Theravada Buddhists see the Buddha as a great guide to enlightenment, where Mahayana Buddhists actually perceive the Buddha as a Savior.
But for neither of them is there a goal of an eternal Relationship with God.
In fact, in Zen Buddhism, an important point of enlightenment in the life of a monk is the point of Ten-ne, turning over, when you realize (purportedly) that nothing around you is real. Everything is the projection of your mind via the Only-Mind. It’s as if Zen enlightenment starts when you realize that your brain is not so much a camera absorbing objective reality around you, as your brain is a film projector: “When it is completely understood that the external world is nothing but manifestations of one’s own mind, a Turning-Over (Ten–ne) occurs which strikes at the root of the process of discriminating between things. These things are not destroyed, but one has an attitude of freedom toward them.”—The Lankavatara Sutra (Ryo ga–kyo) An American Christian who studied this adds: “At that moment, Only-Mind can exclaim to itself, ‘There is No-thing! Absolutely No-thing! I am everything and everything is No-thing!'” — Zen Way—Jesus Way, p. 43, Dr. Tucker Callaway, 20 year faculty member of world religions at the University of Fukuoka in Japan.
Thus, Buddhism is not based in reality. In true Buddhism, nothing is real. Not love. Not suffering. Not family. Anyone who dabbles in Buddhism must ultimately come to realize that Ten-ne is an acceptance of absolutely no truth. There is no sacrificing love for another permitted. Buddhism can not be fulfilling to a man or a woman looking for a relationship with God because the goal is Nirvana, an extinguishing of one self. Although Buddhism does not promote suicide, you can already see the emptiness of “extinguishing of self.” This is the other side of the same coin as Epicureanism. Even great Zen masters who have reached “enlightenment” will admit that it doesn’t make much sense to pull a dying person out of a gutter if such is his karma. Yes, Buddhism is a self-centered ascetical feat that denies the suffering of my neighbor. Westerners will come up with little more than “my karma ran over my dogma” if they do not study the stark and austere claims of real Zen Buddhism. There is no true relationship with another in the most austere forms of Buddhism.
What about Western world religions? From the start, we are going to eradicate Islam as a real possibility, despite the 1 billion adherents. Islam can offer no man a real relationship of love with God because the Qur’an promotes murder and child sex-slavery, as I proved in this podcast here. Thus, Islam will never fulfill a literate man’s desires for peace and union, especially after two world wars and communist gulags. Please listen to the above podcast to learn what a satanic religion Islam really is.
Christianity is our third option. Atheistic world religion professors at Western Universities would say that Christianity was born of Judaism like Buddhism was born of Hinduism. But I would add: Judaism can not be the true world religion remaining since Christ already fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophesies.
Whereas the Buddha said “Be ye lights unto yourselves,” Christ said “I am the light of the world.” What is extraordinary about Christianity is first of all the claim to a divine incarnation. Some world religions have incarnations where one god (of many gods) incarnates on earth to have sex with women or battle men. But Christianity is singular in this claim: The holy God of the Universe incarnated Himself, stepping front-and-center on the human stage—as a human—not to wage war on men, but to die for the very people who wanted to kill Him! Jesus Christ came to redeem the very race that killed Him. And then He would re-capitulate all of human history (and all of human suffering) by raising Himself from the dead three days later! In His Ascension, 40 days after that, He would mystically bring to the Trinity every human who would one day follow him. The cost for each human? Christ promised a cross, but that would be “easy” and “light” (Mt 11) compared to His.
Those who carried their cross would especially have to avoid any selfish lifestyle, like hedonism. Not only does hedonism block the way to heaven. It doesn’t lead to happiness on earth. (Remember what we said above about per-Capita income rates being directly correlative to suicide rates?) Christianity is the only world religion that holds that when you lose your life for God and others, you begin to experience the type of joy as seen in the lives of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Mary Magdalene. They both spent time lost in wonder and love at the God who would die for them on the cross. They began their eternal adoration of God here on earth. Because of Christ, the world of selfishness was turned upside down. There is philanthropy and kindness in many world religions, but in no world religion does the founder prove that beatitude ironically exists in recklessly pouring ourselves out first for God and secondly for others. This is first of all the life of Christ, and secondly the joyful army of saints that followed him. They even went to their deaths singing to God.
Thus, if we sublimate out thousands of world philosophies, the only three that make sense for modern man would be: Hedonism, Buddhism and Christianity. I believe those are the only three philosophies that make any sense (even though I believe and know that only the last is true, due to Divine Revelation and many miracles.) But this is not a blog post of apologetics to prove Divine Revelation, but a simple argument from the experiences of post modern-man: Only Christianity will make you happy on earth, not to mention heaven.
I think it was once Dr. Warren Carroll, founder of Christendon College, who said that Catholicism is the only possible world religion if you simply admit these two syllogisms:
1) God exists.
2) God became man.
God became man once and can not retract His gift or existence. So how can Jesus Christ still be man on earth if He does not change? This can only be fulfilled in one place on earth: The Tabernacle. God became man and remains with us in the Holy Eucharist. Otherwise, His promise to be with us until the end of the age (Mt 28:20) seems quite false. Thus, Protestantism doesn’t fully confess the Incarnation. Another reason Protestantism denies the Incarnation is this: Since God exists, and since He must be entirely holy, then He could only come to earth via an equally pure vessel, namely, the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Thus, the only conclusion of logical Christianity, granting only that God exists and He became man, is: Catholicism.
But what about Orthodoxy? Doesn’t Orthdoxy believe in the Eucharist and Mary as Pan-Hagia (all holy.) Yes. The Orthodox also have Jesus Christ in their Tabernacles and a great love of Our Lady. But I would continue with Dr. Carrol’s two syllogisms even to prove Catholicism over Orthodoxy: Since God became man and raised Himself from the dead, then He would not fail to order and structure a single entity to teach this faith infallibility even if the human element of this teaching Magisterium should fail at times in history. Indeed, if a stoplight can not be run without authority, why would God fail to establish a Church with a teaching authority after taking the pains to rise from the dead for that very Church? Also, if order is found in every cell of every living organism, then why would God fail to give clear order to His mystical body in favor of only mysticism à la Eastern Orthodoxy? Orthodoxy does not even propose to give a unified answer on contraception. Thus, if God became man, the logical conclusion is Catholicism.
Eastern Religions lead to man fading away by Nirvana (nothingness) and Western hedonistic philosophies will lead to man burning out in pleasure and comfort. Both paths are selfish and meaningless. But if you don’t want to live a selfish life anymore, then your only option is Catholicism. I write this despite all the corruption I have seen first hand in the Catholic Church the past two years. It is worse than most Catholics could ever imagine! And yet I write with confidence: Christ and Catholicism will lead you to a sacrificial love and joy on earth, as well as eternal peace with the Triune God in heaven. There are no more philosophical options remaining except selfishness. Everything else has been tried.
Most “EWTN Catholics” (for lack of a better term) might be surprised to find that in the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) world, there is sharp divide down the middle between those who believe that the private revelations of Sr. Faustina Kowalska are authentic, versus those who do not. I am referring to the Divine Mercy Diary, a book of private revelation written by a Polish nun in the 1930s. A modern EWTN Catholic could, in an overly-facile manner, condemn traditionalists who are wary of the Divine Mercy message for just being “Jansenist” or “disobedient.” This would be too easy and not fair. Indeed, one must realize that many traditionalists have good reason to doubt what has come out of the human element of the Church since Sr. Lucia of Fatima explained that a “diabolical disorientation” that would infect a large part of modern Church history. This wariness is not simply a “anti-Vatican II thing.” Many traditionalists who have studied Church history realize that modernism was reaching increasing levels in the Church from the 1920s to the 1950s.
As any reader can tell from the title of this blog post, I am obviously a priest who only does only the pre-1960 sacraments, including the TLM exclusively. However, I very much believe the Divine Mercy apparitions to St. Faustina were not only authentic, but a great gift from heaven to earth in the darkest century of both world history and Church history. Unlike most of my dogmatic blog posts, this is going to be more “experiencey,” based at the intersection of my life and others’ lives with the Divine Mercy message. If the reader wants to delve into the dogmatic battle in the Divine Mercy world, one could read from a good traditionalist priest his opposition to the authenticity of the visions here. If one desires to read an in-depth traditionalist defense of the Divine Mercy Diary, one could read here, here and here.
Again, I fully admit that the above four blog posts are more dogmatically thorough than what you will read below in my three points in favor of Divine Mercy, so please don’t repeat on my Facebook profile the old arguments that are above in the first anti-Divine Mercy link. I love a good debate, so you can bring me new reasons to reject the Divine Mercy Diary, but nothing old, please. So, please read the good and holy Msgr. Perez’ opposition to the Divine Mercy message before battling in my comments. In any case, I publish this on Good Friday because this is the day that the Divine Mercy Diary proposes that we begin the Divine Mercy Novena.
1) No Dogmatic Problems in the Divine Mercy Diary
Anytime otherwise-brilliant theologians come up with weak arguments for their position, I tend to smell a fish in their position on that specific topic. One example of this is how many traditionalists have a problem with this quote that Our Lord allegedly said to St. Faustina on 2 October 1936. “The First Friday of the month. After Holy Communion, I suddenly saw the Lord Jesus, who spoke these words to me: ‘Now I know that it is not for the graces or gifts that you love me, but because My will is dearer to you than life. That is why I am uniting Myself with you so intimately as with no other creature.’”—Divine Mercy Diary (DMD) 707. Many people who go to the Latin Mass say that this line could not be Christ to a nun, because it overturns the unique position of Our Lady as the highest creature. My response to this is common sense: If a Polish nun wanted to deceive her fellow Polish nuns into thinking she was a saint, she surely would not be stupid enough (or deceived enough on the other end!) to believe that Christ placed her higher than the Blessed Virgin Mary. In other words, trads can reject the DMD, but they should use some common sense in not projecting a Protestant world-view upon a Catholic country like Poland in what even a deceiver (or a deceived woman) would have believed.
Secondly, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez had a similar private revelation (actually a prophesy) of St. Peter Claver taking something of a “highest place” in heaven. Being a Catholic in a Catholic country, St. Rodriguez did not need to qualify that the “highest place” of St. Peter Claver actually could never replace Mary and Joseph! Indeed, for a Catholic, such caveats are not needed. As I said on a recent podcast, we need to re-incorporate common sense into our theology.
But my strongest argument in favor of the authenticity of St. Faustina’s private revelation on that DMD 707 line is the following: When Christ said to her, “I am uniting Myself with you so intimately as with no other creature,” anyone who has studied the ascetical theology of the Catholic Church (something that is dogmatic, not devotional) knows that such is how Christ unites Himself to any soul! This is not me playing with words. St. John of the Cross, the greatest doctor of spiritual theology in the Catholic Church repeatedly wrote about how unique the Blessed Trinity’s union is to each one of us. This is true, even at the lowest levels of holiness, provided we are in sanctifying grace. In other words, it is the spiritual theology teaching of the Catholic Church that Christ uniquely and intimately has united himself to me, Fr. David Nix, in a way as found in the soul of “no other creature.” The same is true for you if you are in sanctifying grace. Thus, anyone who has studied (even at a cursory level) the multivalent gifts of grace in the soul should quickly understand that Christ could very easily say to any and every saint in history that He was “uniting Myself with you so intimately as with no other creature.” Our souls are even more unique than our bodies.
2. No Sense of Modernism in the Apparitions
The traditionalists who say that the Divine Mercy Diary smacks of “presumption” have either not read the Sacred Heart apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque or, perhaps in modern traditionalists’ defense, they have never really read the truly-modernist, truly-presumption-based false apparitions that float around us today. I have been accused of being a “heresy hunter” and indeed, it is true, I have the most sensitive antennae of almost anyone I know for finding heresy (a fact that friend and enemy have both accused me of!) But the Divine Mercy Diary fully passes my “smell test” against the heresy of modernism. Consider the time when Jesus takes St. Faustina to hell, and she sees all of the tortures of hell and then writes this terrifying line: “But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.”—DMD 741. That does not sound like a modernist obsessed with presumption. In fact, I believe that a jarring Good Friday meditation (to see what Christ saved you from by His three hours on the cross) might be to read the tortures of hell as found in her diary, seen in this short footnote: 1
Also, a beautiful Easter meditation might be to mediate on when Christ brought St. Faustina to see the glories of heaven in this footnote here: 2
I do not know her opinion on the Divine Mercy message, but the lovely and brilliant 96 year old traditionalist Catholic, Alice Von Hildebrand (and let me say that she and her deceased husband have both been great heroes of mine) wrote a stunning article called in Crisis Magazine called In Defense of Feelings that included this line: “I would suggest that the enemies of affectivity read the lives of great saints and great mystics and pay attention to how often a St. Teresa of Jesus uses the word ‘feeling.’ Asked by her spiritual director, who prudently doubted the validity of her visions, how she could be certain that Christ was speaking to her, she answered: ‘lo sentia‘ (Vida, Chapter 27).” I add to her words: The heart matters as much as the brain on discerning the authenticity of private revelation, provided the private revelation passes the approbation of the hierarchical Church—something the Divine Mercy Diary has already done (unless one fully denies a valid hierarchy, as only Protestants and sedevacantists seem to do.)
I don’t claim to be a St. Teresa of Avila, or even a Dietrich von Hildebrand, but I do know my sins enough to write this this: The only time, every year, that I totally feel all of my Purgatory time totally relieved is on Divine Mercy Sunday. It is so palpable and so true, that I simply can only repeat with St. Teresa of Avila, “Lo Sentia.” I realize that this is not a strong dogmatic argument in favor of the authenticity of the Divine Mercy diary, so I suppose the more impatient side of me simply wants to say to those who reject the Divine Mercy Diary the following: “If you don’t want your Purgatory time relieved, you don’t have to have it.”
Of course, baptism is the only thing that washes away original sin. If one were to commit a mortal sin after baptism, the only way for that man to be forgiven would be to go to confession to a priest (or in rare instances of perfect contrition, he would be saved if he died before confession. But even if he lived, he could not receive Holy Communion without confessing all of his mortal sins to a priest first.) In any case, one analogy is that a mortal sin is like a nail in the wood of your soul. Confession removes that nail but the hole remains. This is because confession relieves the eternal punishments of sin, but not the temporary punishments of sin. A plenary indulgence granted (following a good confession) relieves all temporary punishments of sin, aka Purgatory. Here on earth, that would be analogous to the wood of your soul already being filled and made healthy.
But such a plenary indulgence may be more difficult to obtain than the typical modern Catholic may realize. In fact, one of the requirements for a plenary indulgence is full detachment from the inclination to not only mortal sin but even detachment from venial sin. Yes, this is required for a plenary indulgence (all the holes of your soul to be filled.) If my understanding of the Divine Mercy message is correct (and I’m open to correction) this is not the case with the Divine Mercy Sunday promise. In other words, I see no rigorous requirements besides what is below in the next picture as found in the FSSP ordo:
Of course, we must always have the intention of avoiding all sin (both venial and mortal) even to make a good confession (as is the case any time in the year.) But the fact that all of our Purgatory time is relieved on Divine Mercy Sunday with minimal requirements does suggest that there may be something novel and even unprecedented about the Divine Mercy message.
In this sense, I understand why traditionalists are wary of it.
But I would answer such traditionalists by saying that perhaps God gave us the novel and unprecedented Divine Mercy pledge of all eternal and temporal effects of sin relieved without perfect detachment by the 8th day of Easter precisely because of the novel “diabolical disorientation” found in the human element of the Church in the 20th century, not to mention a world full of endless temptations online, replete with genocides of entire races and the unborn—equally unprecedented in world history.
My last “experiential proof” of the power of the Divine Mercy message is that many priests who have been going on the tradition thing for longer than me (and who are older, wiser and more holy) also fully support the Divine Mercy message. Two FSSP priests on Sensus Fidelium have also given their full promotion of Divine Mercy Sunday both here and here (with indication that, in some sense, this final day in the Octave of Easter is actually a much older feast than what entered the Church in 20th century)
The Divine Mercy Novena is not required for the relief of Purgatory time, but if you are convinced this message is from God, please join me today, Good Friday, for the beginning of the Divine Mercy Novena and fulfill the requirements in the above picture if you wish not only your time in hell, but your time in Purgatory totally relieved in nine days.
“Today I was led by an Angel to the chasms of hell. ~ It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large Iand extensive it is! The kinds of torture I saw: -the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; -the second torture is perpetual remorse of conscIence; -the third is that one’s condition will never change; -the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it – a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger; -the firth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both others and their own; -the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; -the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies. These are the tortures suffered by all the dammed together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses: Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like. I, Sister Faustina, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence. I cannot speak about it now; but I have received a command from God to leave it in writing. The devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God . What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell. When I came to, I could hardly recover from the fright. How terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God’s mercy upon them. O my Jesus I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest suffering, than offend You by the least of sin.. (Diary 741)”↩
“Today I was in heaven, in spirit, and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless priase and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom…The sight of this great majesty of God, which I came to understand more profoundly and which is worshiped by the heavenly spirits according to their degree of grace and the hierarchies into which they are divided, did not cause my soul to be stricken with terror or fear: no, no, not at all! My soul was filled with peace and love, and the more I come to know the greatness of God, the more joyful I become that He is as He is. And I rejoice immensely in His greatness and am delighted that I am so little because, since I am little, He carries me in His arms and holds me close to His Heart”-DM 777, 779 ↩
Between my initial conversion as a teenager (1997) and about halfway through my nine-years of priesthood (2014) I would probably have been described as a small-fish but bold-agent in the “New Evangelization” of Pope John Paul II. I don’t regret those days. I came to know salvation-history through great lay leaders. I saw real miracles in the charismatic movement (as well as some evil things.) As a layman, I had many sins forgiven by priests who did not speak a word of Latin (and some invalid confessions via priests changing the words of absolution.) As much as this blog post might sound primed for a line like “But now I see so much better as a traditionalist!” there are even many things I gained in my eight pre-conversion years under the Jesuits (like a love of the poor.) Most fondly, I look back on my years as a neo-conservative, growing daily in personal conversion and my relationship with Jesus Christ. I truly loved my carefree international missions as a young priest, as well as and late-nights hearing confessions of University students on several campuses. I don’t regret those days of pre-tradition. They formed who I am today.
During that period (1997 to 2014) if someone had asked me why the Catholic Church had lost 50% of her adherents in the Western Hemisphere over the past 70 years, I would not have said “Vatican II.” I would have said, “The sexual revolution.” If someone had asked me why 80% of married Catholics in the West were using contraception, I would not have said “Vatican II.” I would have said “The sexual revolution.” I explained to many people that Catholics were using contraception because they had not heard Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. In fact, any co-habitating couple who approached me to get married in my early years of priesthood had to first listen to Naked Without Shame by Christopher West. I was truly a non-rad-trad neo-con at the beginning of my priesthood, yes, a big believer in the New Evangelization.
This week, the Vatican pushed the idea that the priest-child scandals were the fault of the “sexual revolution.” In fact, in that 6,000 word document, the word “revolution” (as in “sexual-revolution”) was found twice in the first 300 words. It holds that the sexual revolution was the genesis of same-sex attracted priests doing things to each other, as well as priests doing horrible things to children. Some people were shocked at this explanation. I was not shocked. We used this excuse to explain all the bad apples around us for years. We priests gained a lot of mileage for that “sexual revolution” thing because it allowed us to blame our internal issues on the world around us. Why don’t most Catholics believe in the True Presence of the Eucharist”? We even blamed that on the “sexual revolution.” Oh, and then we tacked on that tired explanation that the main problem in the flagging belief in the Eucharist among Catholics was that bishops “did not implement Vatican II as it was intended by the Council Fathers.” I actually believed these ideas because it was what I was taught by my priestly superiors as a layman and seminarian. I really admired these priests who taught me that. In some sense, I still do admire them.
But they are wrong to blame our current crisis of dogma and sexuality on the “sexual revolution” for three main reasons:
1) The Salt Parable. “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?.”—Lk 14:34. Salt was often used in ancient times as a preservative to keep meat from going rotten. Thus, the “salt” in the analogy is the Catholic Church and the “meat” is the rotten world around it. Christ’s point is very clear in this parable: Meat can not make the salt rotten! If the salt is salty, both the salt and the meat stay preserved. If the salt goes flat, both the meat and the salt go rotten. Thus, to blame priests raping children on the world around us is a total deflection and cop out. And, it goes directly against Christ’s parable that clearly asserts that if the salt stays fresh, both the salt and the meat stay preserved.
2) The History of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church grew at a rate of 40% a decade during the years of persecution in the Roman Empire of the first three hundred years of Catholicism. It’s not healthy to repeat oneself in a blog post, but here it is: The Christians peppered through the Roman empire grew at a rate of 40% every decade under persecution of a fleshy paganism that was replete with sexual aberrations, paganism and even infanticide. This means that Catholicism actually does well when it is surrounded by sex-obsessed pagans, as long as Catholicism keeps itself from being infiltrated. Christ, because He is God, had the power to program the Catholic Church via His Divine Preview of all future storms to have the power of His own Spirit given to His Bride, the Church, to withstand any persecution by several things that he gave us: The power of His Holy Cross, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the sacraments, the Deposit of the Faith, the Papacy and the intercession of the angels and saints, most especially His Blessed Mother. As long as these did not change from within, the Catholic Church would actually grow big when surrounded by dying pagan empires.
In the 16th century, when 10 million Catholics left the Catholic faith in Europe for Protestantism, something remarkable happened in the Americas: Tens of thousands of Franciscans and Jesuits (from Europe) went to make new disciples in the Americas in the 1500s. Faced with limited success, Our Lady of Guadeloupe appeared not far from the center of the bloody Aztec empire, and by the end of the 16th century, she had converted nearly 10 million Mexicans (creating that very race and term by the mix of Spanish men and Indian women that had united peacefully under her mantle of stars) to be led to baptism by the Spanish missionaries. The point is that even when there is a crisis within the Church (not just without her like the Roman Empire, but within her like the Church in Europe in the 16th century), the faith and dogma remained unchanged, at least enough for the 10 million heretics to be replaced by 10 million baptized Indians. This was the supernatural faith and unchanged liturgy that charged the Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries to make millions of converts in the Americas to the One Holy Catholic Faith, despite the untold dangers they faced on the sea and on land, all for the love of Christ crucified.
The logic that “the sexual revolution has led priests to rape children” should also be offensive to secular readers because they read in this excuse: “Sorry, but you can’t expect our poor priests to can’t keep their pants on if you throw them in that fleshy secular environment you created!” An additional reason that this explanation does not gel with the traditional spiritual and ascetical theology of the Catholic Church is because the Church teaches that at baptism, the soul is infused with the theological virtues of faith and hope and charity. Because those three theological gifts proceed from the very merits of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, then they make us well-neigh invincible against temptations to sin. The only way to crack those theological virtues would be to change one of those three: faith, hope or charity.
And that is exactly what happened: The Faith changed in the past 70 years. There is an old sardonic phrase about Church history: If there’s a Church crisis, then you can be sure it’s an inside job. But that phrase is perhaps not so sardonic. This old parable is actually quite hope-filled and beautiful because it shows that Christ has not only programmed His Church to withstand every storm via the power of his own charity in the crucifixion transferred to His Bride at Pentecost, but that the Church would grow more when the world is against it! The only way that Satan could stop the growth of the Catholic Church would not be a sexual revolution in the world, but changing the Faith within the Catholic Church via an Infiltration.
In those pre-traditional years of my Catholic life, from 1997 to 2014 (the majority of my life of having a relationship with Christ and His Church!) I believed that the Third Secret of Fatima was Pope John Paul II being shot and yet still living. How could one deny the fact that he was shot on her feast day and then miraculously lived? I still do believe this was a miracle given to the Pope from Our Lady, but I no longer believe this was the Third Secret of Fatima. The Third Secret of Fatima, I am fully convinced, was Our Lady’s warning that there would be a general apostasy from the top-down in the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the 20th century. If you want the full evidence for this, please watch “The Secret Still Silenced” below:
The title of this blog post is “Did Christ Program the Church to Withstand Every Storm?” The reason I can still say “Yes” to that after all the corruption I have seen in the Catholic Church is because of that above video, “The Secret Still Silenced.” Yes, I know this is Christ’s promise in Scripture, but this video enlightens the Deposit of the Faith for me, namely, that God-Himself did not program a changed Faith or changed Liturgy in the past 70 years that tanked the numbers of the Catholic Church in the Western Hemisphere and nearly destroyed all missionary congregations in the Eastern Hemisphere. This leaves only one option, which is ironically quite hope-filled: We have endured an infiltration into the hierarchy who changed the faith. This is hopeful precisely because nobody can say that heaven did not warn us. After watching the above video, you will agree that nobody can say that the Blessed Trinity failed to send Our Lady to tell us to watch out for an apostasy that would lead to globally reduced numbers of priests and baptisms, disrespect for the Eucharist and even priests who are perverted.
No, this perversion was not because of celibacy (like the media says) or the “sexual revolution” (like the Vatican said this week) but because priests lost faith, hope and charity, beginning with a changed faith the past 70 years. I believe that when we repent for our inside job of changing the priesthood and every other sacrament, then we can stop pointing fingers at the secular world for our perverted actions. But if the hierarchy is still unable to repent for a changed Dogma and Liturgy over the past 70 years, then don’t be surprised if the only option for us flavorless salt grains is to bemoan our own stinkiness by pointing the finger at the rotten meat around us. What a cop-out, especially when Christ has programmed the Church perfectly without needing any “updating for modern man.”
If you subscribe to what Our Lady most-likely revealed to the children, namely, that there would be a general apostasy from the top down of the hierarchy, then we can believe that Christ did indeed program the Catholic Church to withstand the sexual-revolution, and that we would have had the power to produce mostly holy priests if we had our dogma without a Protestantization of it. Had we kept the faith without giving into that masonic inside job, then the 1960s would have simply been another storm Christ would have seen come-and-go when He looked through time and into Peters eyes that day years ago in Caesarae Phillipi when He said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”—Mt 16:18. Christ also knew at that triumphant and sad moment of seeing all the scandals through history that the hierarchy would always bounce back, but that the hardest would be that one time in history (now) when the very Faith and Liturgy itself would be mongrelized by an inside job.
I love the Catholic Church because when we win a culture through holy saints, we win converts! When we lose a battle on earth via martyrs, we win double the converts!! Satan knew this. Satan himself knew that Christ programmed the Church to withstand every outside storm. Satan knew well the old sardonic phrase: “If there’s a crisis in the Church, you can be sure it’s an inside job.”
If you subscribe to what Our Lady most-likely revealed to the children, namely, that there would be a general apostasy from the top down of the hierarchy, then you can’t blame God for the priests who never had the faith, who were admitted to seminary by modernist bishops, and later who molested children. You can’t blame God. You must blame those who infiltrated the Catholic Church. Perhaps even more, we need to blame those good men who let effeminate masons infiltrate. They changed her priesthood, her dogma and her liturgy. You must blame this crisis not on God Himself who gave us countless holy priests in World War II (many of whom were killed.) God gave that generation and the next the grace to resist a coming storm that would be worse than World War II (and I don’t mean the “sexual revolution”) but rather: a betrayal from within. We straight priests could have handled that perverted world around us like the early priests handled the Roman Empire. What we can’t handle is betrayal from within the Priesthood.
Thus, the only solution left is the one thing that none of the last five Popes have tried: A full return to the one traditional Catholic Faith, Dogma and Liturgy lived by the children of Fatima and encouraged by Our Lady, not a reform of the reform of the reform of the reform. We may not see that full restoration in the next five years, but I believe that total restoration is coming, probably in the lifetime of most people reading this blog post. The Immaculate Virgin Mary obtained for those children (from Her Son) the grace to endure all the mockery and persecution that would come to them for adhering to the Truth. And she will for you, too.
And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.—Jesus Christ in St. Matthew 24:10-14
Why are traditional Catholics so mean to each other? I don’t mean people like Virginia senator Tim Kaine who described himself as a “traditional Catholic.” By “traditional Catholic” I mean people who actually believe that the doctrine and liturgy of the Catholic Church can change by no man. So, why are trad-Catholics so mean to each other? Of course, the most common answer we all hear is: spiritual arrogance and hypocrisy. I don’t deny there is a certain truth to this, even in my life. But on the opposite side of the coin, we also hear that trads are mean because they are reacting as the “spiritually abused children of the Church.” I don’t deny there is a certain truth to this, even in my life. But today’s blog post is neither accusation nor exoneration. It’s a new analogy that I had never heard before, and it came from a friend.
First, let us take a look at a heroic 20th century Catholic priest. Fr. Gommar A. DePauw served as a combat medic in World War II with the 9th Belgian Infantry Hunters Regiment. He was taken prisoner by the Nazis at Dunkirk in 1940. After escaping prison camp, he returned to Belgium and was ordained a Catholic priest. Fr. DePauw’s parents had immigrated to the United States, so he followed them. He served as a priest in New York City, later studied at CUA and even taught at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. He eventually incardinated in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1955. During the Second Vatican Council, he was called to Rome to serve as a peritus, meaning he was asked to be a theological advisor to bishops at the Council.
Before looking at his below letter to Pope Paul VI, it should be noted that Fr. DePauw was a combat medic who assumedly rescued both his superiors and his inferiors while fighting the Nazis. The virtue obedience ran deep in his blood stream. He never wanted to disobey his superiors as a medic or as a priest. But when he saw Catholicism being dismantled by the hierarchy in the 1960s, Fr. DePauw felt stretched on the cross between his allegiance to the pure doctrine of Christ and his desire to be obedient to the hierarchy. Notice in these 15 Aug 1967 letter excerpts to Pope Paul VI the deep respect Fr. DePauw holds for Paul VI, even as he holds Jesus Christ and His Divine Revelation higher:
I still vividly remember that December 1, 1965 evening when Your Holiness personally blessed me and my work with the traditionalist Catholics who selected me to be their spokesman ….Today’s condition of the Catholic Church is beyond the point of doctrinal heresy, factual schism, and even apostasy. It is in a state of chaos and utter collapse resulting from the systematic destruction of first our liturgical and other traditions, and now our very beliefs and morals…
In open violation of all past and present liturgical directives, the Roman Catholic Liturgy, once the envy of all other religions, has for all practical purposes been destroyed. And it gives us very little personal satisfaction to know that all those responsible for this destruction were in advance irrevocably anathematized by the still valid solemn decree of the Council of Trent: “If anyone says that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular only, let him be cursed.”(Canons of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, n. 9.)
Coercive changes have subrogated our traditional practices with the “litniks”of our Church Establishment daily intensifying their attempts to subjugate the “people of God” to becoming “Protestant” Catholics..But, not only our liturgical traditions have been destroyed. The very beliefs and morals of our Catholic heritage are now up for grabs in our so-called “Church of the Aggiornamento.” Steadily, day in and day out since Vatican II, silt has subversively been shunted in to the minds of the Roman Catholics in America. Our “Catholic” universities, seminaries, and colleges are bluntly rejecting the religious character that justifies their existence, and their teachers of the “new theology” are calling into question, if not outright rejecting, every tenet of our doctrinal heritage ….
Your Holiness …. taking a closer look at the “Conciliar” church forced upon us in the name of Vatican II, and simply judging the tree by its fruits, we are tempted to agree with one of your own immediate collaborators in Rome who has been quoted as characterizing the recent Vatican Council as “a sinister farce acted out by a number of good-for-nothings, some of whom, despite the gold crosses on their chests, don’t even believe in the Holy Trinity or the Virgin.”
Your Holiness, if no immediate action is taken by you, the public reality of the Catholic religion will phase out very soon. Already the memory of a “real” Mass is fading away from the minds of our younger generation, while their elders are growing indifferent or bitter over a Church which, if all her former beliefs and practices were so irrelevant as to be replaced so quickly and drastically, they prefer to forget as the biggest hoax ever on record.
Your Holiness, take one last, hard look at the dying embers of your Church and ours! And decide, bluntly and honestly, whether you wish to be a Pope, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Supreme Pontiff of the one true Church, or to perpetuate your current image of the BISHOP of Rome, the first among equals, with a place of HONOR but without authority within the ranks of a so-called “college” of Bishops …..
May we, the traditionalist Catholics whose unworthy spokesman I am, help Your Holiness out of the impasse your enemies cornered you into, by humbly submitting to you the following requests:
Vatican II must be annulled.
Publicly announce via all available international public media that you are again exercising the prerogatives of the Supreme Pontiff of Christ’s One True Church, and that the interregnum of Vatican II is over …. Maybe it was precisely the fear of this horrendous possibility that caused the Holy Ghost to have Pope John [XXIII] declare from the very start that Vatican II, unlike all previous Ecumenical Councils, was not a doctrinal Council but simply a pastoral one, thus leaving the door open for any future Pope to eradicate it from the records.
Your Holiness, when honest people commit a blunder they admit it and try to undo it as quickly as possible. Vatican II has so far produced nothing but confusion and disunity among the people of God’s Church. It takes humility and courage to admit that even a Pope, outside the realm of his infallible ex cathedra definitions, can commit a blunder. But it is this kind of humility that endears a truly great leader to his subjects. Even so, you know better than all of us together that to lose face is nothing compared to losing souls.
Rescind that falsely interpreted and abused “Collegiality” decree immediately and permanently. The burden of the Papacy cannot be shared and was never intended to be. To Peter and to him alone were given the keys of the Kingdom. Peter and Peter alone was appointed to strengthen the faith of “his brethren,” the first bishops who governed the primitive Church not just with but under Peter. Stop wearing that Bishop’s mitre and place the papal tiara back on your anointed head where it was placed the day you accepted to serve as Christ’s Vicar and Supreme Pontiff. You accepted the job; you have tasted the privileges – now, taste the responsibilities; they are the two sides of the same coin. Give us another opportunity to let the world know once again that: “HABEMUS PAPAM!” We have a Pope!
Your Holiness! If we do not receive a satisfactory answer from Your Holiness or at least are given an opportunity to discuss our requests and proposals with Your Holiness personally – within the next month, we shall consider our requests denied and our proposals rejected, and draw the sad and tragic conclusion that Our Mother the Church has temporarily abandoned the best ones of her children. I pray to God and to His blessed Mother whose Assumption we commemorate today – and millions all over the world are joining me in this prayer – that such a dark and tragic day will never come. But, if we have no other choice, we will jealously protect the small but still burning candle of our traditional Catholic Faith, and patiently carry on our spiritual “Resistance” movement without the hoped-for papal approval ….
Your loyal and devoted son in Jesus Christ,
Fr. Gommar A. DePauw
His full letter is here.
Notice that Fr. DePauw is not asking that he become Pope. Notice that Fr. DePauw is not even asking Pope Paul VI to step down. He is asking for him to exercise his grace of office. As an ex-combat medic, Fr. DePauw simply wanted someone who would lead him into a battle for eternal souls—the souls that he wanted to rescue from Satan! Fr. DePauw would give his life for his Holy Father, and all he asks in return is not power, nor a red-hat or a special appointment from the Vatican. He only wants a spiritual father who will give his life for his flock by keeping Catholicism alive at all costs so that he can follow him into battle. Now, in 2019, Fr. DePauw’s 1967 letter now rings strangely prophetic: “Your Holiness, if no immediate action is taken by you, the public reality of the Catholic religion will phase out very soon.” We know De Fide that the Faith will remain alive in a few hearts, but there is something spooky about that phrase.
We traditional Catholics are often compared to Martin Luther. Our modernist and even neo-con accusers say about us: As Martin Luther was Sola-Scriptura, so “rad-trad Catholics” are Sola Conciliar, relying on their own interpretation of Tradition and tradition to think they know better than the current hierarchy. But Fr. De Pauw’s letter proves that he did not want to overturn the hierarchy. In fact, he clearly wanted to be a follower. People like Fr. De Pauw and many of us “rad-trads” have simply looked for the post-Conciliar Popes to rally us, to lead us, to father us under the battle standard of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Yes, there are some very strange rad-trad cults (especially in the NW of the USA and upstate NY) who live to simply critique the hierarchy. They wouldn’t be happy if Archbishop Lefebvre were raised from the dead and made Pope! But most “rad-trads” are not in that camp of sociopathic cultish complainers. In fact, most traditional Catholics have have been hungering for a leader to take a battering ram to the gates of hell. With some significant exceptions, most “rad-trad” keyboard warriors never wanted to take a battering-ram on the very hierarchy of the Church that they wanted to die with. Most of us want all nations to come to know Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.
So, what does this have to do with why traditional Catholics are so mean to each other? I said this would not be an accusation or an exoneration. But in full disclosure, I will admit this is closer to an exoneration of traditionalists than an accusation. I was talking to a friend about why “rad-trads” are always fighting in the social media and she came up with a this brilliant analogy about what she knew about horses. (Her speciality is super-weapons for military, so she would admit her limited knowledge on horses. Thus, if any horse enthusiasts write me with corrections, I will certainly edit this paragraph.) In any case, my friend explained to me that when the male-leader of a herd of wild-horses is absent, all of the other male horses will fight and even bite each other. However, when the alpha-male returns to lead the herd, not only do the other male wild-horses obey, but they actually stop biting each other. In fact, the band of male wild-horses not only stops fighting, but they fall into hierarchical order themselves!
Does this remind you of the debates that Latin Mass Catholics have on line all the time? Look: We recognize the post-Conciliar Popes as Popes. But it seems that most modern Popes have been concerned with showing the world (and the flesh and the devil) that they don’t have to be so afraid of Catholics. Catholics are not so different from you! It’s like the message is: We too believe in a better world and progressive humanity! Same with the bishops. Now that the Western hierarchy has moved past the 1970s social justice kick, the “conservative ones” now want to show the Western world that we’re essentially hipster Protestants, tacking on the Eucharist and Our Lady. Perhaps this helps maintain the “conservative” title in order to keep Republican neo-con Catholics in giving their big money. A message has now become one of damage control: We are not all child-molestors. We are not all believers in the Inquisition. We are not all against gays. We want Jesus to reign in all hearts (but let’s not talk about Him as King of Nations.)
All the while, the rad-trad men who actually believe in the Social Reign of Christ the King keep studying St. Thomas Aquinas, and biting each other on line and in-person. We debate each other with vicious teeth on whether it is permitted to go to an SSPX Mass. We debate each other with hateful spite on who is the true reigning Pope. The women even debate each other on how long dresses need to be, all the while maintaining satanic hatred under their breath while using pious feminine modest language. Just this past week a rad-trad called me in a private email: “compromised Bergoglian clergy.” Just this past week, a famous non-rad trad but conservative neo-con leader of the Catholic world (who is usually hailed as being on his way to “canonization” at his own enormous conferences) sent me a private message on Facebook: “You, You need to shut the hell up on social media.”
Some of it is arrogance. Some of it is woundedness. But I propose today that a large part of it is that we need a leader and a father. We miss a Pope who cares for us and wants to conquer the entire world for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. We will indeed fall into line under an alpha-male Pope. Scratch that: Most of us will fall into line under the alpha-male Pope who holds traditional dogma and liturgy. But note well that it’s not just us looking for our rad-trad tendencies to finally be rubber-stamped in a letter red seal so that we can feel our socially awkward time machine to the 18th century or 1950s has been vindicated. It’s more that a future Pope will make Catholicism one again where there will be only one Mass and one dogma, and those who hold to this will no longer be called “schismatic.” The only thing to be debated will be truly speculative theology. Even for that, I see that for wild-horses to stop biting each other on speculative theology, we will need an alpha male at the very head of the flock who will take the battering-ram not to us traditionalists, but straight to the gates of hell that Christ said would never prevail against the Church. (Mt 16:18)
I blogged here on the two possibilities of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart either being the return of Jesus Christ or the era of peace being the move from this fifth age of the Church to the sixth age of the Church, an era described by many prophets and saints as “an era of peace” that would have the Great Council to hammer out more heresies than any council in the past, ruled over by “The Great Monarch” and “The Great Pope.” When you read the ancient prophesies of that “Great Pope” you see a man who is an alpha-male leader, a man who will not care for ecumenism. He will not conquer for his religion like a Muslim Sultan, but he will be a man of compassion who will lead martyrs to shed their blood in peace and charity for the furthering of the only Gospel under Heaven on Earth, the Holy Catholic Church.
Remember from the analogy above that the male wild-horses not only respect their new leader. They stop biting each other. They not only stop biting each other. They actually fall into a hierarchy or order of obedience and rank themselves. Until that alpha-male wild-horse Papa lead us into that peace, I simply suggest that rad-trads first stop biting each other and secondly meditate on these Scripture verses:
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.—Gal 5:14-15
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.—Titus 3:3-7
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.—Phil 1:27-28
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.—John 13:34-35
About 15 years ago, I went to Colorado Springs to visit both the Focus on the Family Visitor Center and New Life Church. The latter is a Protestant community nearby with nearly 14,000 congregants. I always half-joke that Colorado Springs is the “Protestant Vatican,” but I am half-serious: These two centers alone are the engines for countless missions in dozens of countries, not to mention the hundreds of other Protestant communities in Colorado Springs. In Colorado Springs, many Catholics might be surprised to see that Protestants have a relatively unabashed approach to “sacramentals.” Many Protestant Mega-Church communities now sell “holy water” from the Jordan and “holy oil” made from olives from the Garden outside Jerusalem. You can purchase small bottles with labels of oil from the Holy Land and bring it home for personal anointing. In fact, for all the history of iconoclasm in Protestantism, you can even see a statue of a modern-day Protestant “saint” near Dr. James Dobson, seen below as founder of Focus on the Family.
This is not a Protestant-bashing post. My point is that Protestants have gained a desire for physical expressions of faith while many Catholics the past 50 years became embarrassed regarding the incarnational side of our Faith. Was this to please the very Protestants who would one day hunger for incense and candles in “emergent communities”? In fact, many of the early founders of Campus Crusade for Christ actually became Antiochian Orthodox Christians because of Divine the Divine Liturgy. Fr. Peter Gillquist recounts, “I remember a short time after that I was reading John 6, which is where Jesus teaches extensively that ‘unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood you have no life in you.'” I fondly recall that some of my favorite parishioners from the time when I was briefly with the FSSP on the East Coast were ex-Protestants. They had a relationship with Christ, and now they wanted that relationship taken up to heaven in the glory of the Traditional Latin Mass.
Driving around the Southwest of the United States this past year, I noticed that the above phenomena of faith were happening in art, too. I took note of the modern design of Catholic Churches. The most striking thing was when I noticed that a relatively-newly built Catholic Church looked suspiciously like a burger joint:
But you can’t just say that the above resemblance is coincidental based on regional similarities of the Southwest United States. In fact, I then found a Methodist Church that looked exactly like an old Catholic Spanish mission:
Boomer Catholics have rejected traditional buildings while young Protestants now hunger for them. Happily, the new and upcoming Generation Z of Catholics have no desire for their Catholic Churches to look like adobe-built Five-Guys burger joints. Art follows faith and life (and of course, art leads faith, as seen in the Charlton Heston movie, The Agony and the Ecstasy.) Faith will always be expressed incarnationally, try as iconoclasts might to suppress it. (This is more proof that the heresy of modernism is truly the synthesis of all heresies, including even iconoclasm!) But no heresy will ever win, including iconoclasm. We see the faith-hunger of Generation Z, and their desire for total Catholicism instead of half-Catholicism. Thus, I have a great hope that the Catholic Churches of the Southwest USA will one day look like the glory of Christendom that arrived there at the hands St. Junipero Serra a few hundred years ago, as seen in the featured image at the top of the mission in San Diego, or this San Juan Capistrano mission built in 1776, an important year in this country for more than one reason:
And behold, a man came up to [Christ], saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.—Mt 19:16-22
In Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II uses the above account from Matthew 19 to attack the modern moral theology errors of “consequentialism” and “proportionalism.” The Pope accurately explains that consequentialism “claims to draw the criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice.” He continues that proportionalism “weighs the various values and goods being sought, focuses rather on the proportion acknowledged between the good and bad effects of that choice, with a view to the ‘greater good’ or ‘lesser evil’ actually possible in a particular situation.”—Veritatis Splendor #75. Both of these errors, consequentialism and proportionalism, are a far cry from how Christ answers so clearly: “Keep the commandments” to his questioner saying,”What good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
To understand proportionalism, imagine this account that has probably happened in most every diocese of the USA in the past 30 years: A bishop begins weighing all the hate-mail that repeatedly lands on his desk against a young, conservative priest. That bishop begins to judge that the peace of a diocese weighs greater than a particular priest’s priesthood. To avoid further troublesome effects in his chancery, the bishop decides to end the conservative priest’s active ministry by either lying about him or sending him to the psyche ward at St. Luke’s. The bishop does not want to end that young priest’s priesthood. He has just proportionately weighed that a few small lies about one soul is probably worth a thousands other souls not being disturbed enough to write letters to the chancery.
Now, if you’re convinced that the above imaginary bishop made an unfortunate but prudent decision, then you just sided with the proportionalism that led the high priest Caiaphas’ to kill Jesus Christ: “It is better for you that one man should die for the people, than for the whole nation to perish.”—Jn 11:49-50. Astonishingly, Caiaphas almost seems to admit that killing Jesus is a bad idea! Indeed, Caiaphas figures that killing Christ will have proportionately less detrimental consequences than a schism within Israel which might eventually attract the attention of the Roman Empire. Orthodox but cowardly prelates today should remember that the one thing that Caiaphas feared—the Roman Empire destroying the temple 40 years later—was exactly what he effected by setting into motion the execution of Jesus Christ by using proportionalism! St. John notes a few verses later that Caiaphas’ ability to become a self-fulfilling agent in Christ’s death (albeit accidentally and sacrilegiously) was an effect of being high priest that year: “He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.”—v. 51.
To understand consequentialism, imagine this story that has also proved to be unfortunately quite common in most dioceses of the USA beginning in the 1970s: A certain bishop receives numerous, credible reports that a certain priest molested children. The bishop then decides to lie to the public about that priest, but this time the bishop makes the priest out to be better than he is. He says he is still “fit for public ministry.” The bishop did want not want to lie to his diocese about a predatory priest. It’s just that he believed that doing the right thing in the present, namely, sending the child-molesting priest to prison, would lead to bad consequences in the future like many Catholics leaving his diocese. (Like Caiaphas, this is exactly what would happen 40 years later due to his actions!) This error of using consequentialism to make decisions in a diocese shows that evil never pays. Remember that Pope John Paul II described the moral theology heresy of consequentialism as “claim[ing] to draw the criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice.”—Veritatis Splendor#75. (Unfortunately, Pope John Paul II seems to have turned a blind-eye to the complaints that started to pour into the Vatican in 1998 regarding Fr. Marcial Maciel being a child-molestor. Was the Pope incredulous as to the accusations? Or was the Pope using consequentialism in his decisions to protect that wicked demiurge and juggernaut founder of the Legionaries of Christ?)
For a decision to be moral, it must have a good intention, a good object (act) and good circumstances. Catholic moral theology has always infallibly taught that if even one of these three is missing, it is bad decision. Thus, if you refrain from speaking the truth while maintaining a good intention (eg keeping the diocese together or preventing the schism in the Church) then you have committed a mortal sin. In short, the end does not justify the means. This is very basic stuff. But proportionalism and consequentialism are just Satan’s advanced loopholes around this. Perhaps the problem is pride—that we preists and priests and bishops and Cardinals and Popes think that our proportions and consequences of the future of the Church somehow outweigh us doing the right thing in the present. It might be just this basic error that we don’t think that moral theology applies to us, especially when we have a whole Church’s image to repair amidst distressing scandal.
Bishop Gracida of Texas is a great hero of mine for publicly questioning the valid resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. I know for a fact that at least one other Cardinal in the world is questioning this, too. But even if you do not buy our “resignationalist” approach to the current crisis, then at least ask this: Where are all the bishops denouncing the weekly heresy that we are now hearing from the top down? I don’t mean that liturgical digits are being denied by people in the Vatican. I mean basic tenets of the Creed are being overturned on a weekly basis. Most good bishops of the world now know that parts of the Creed are being publicly denied in material heresy. But if you were to quietly ask any decent bishop or Cardinal why he does not oppose the current errors coming at him from the hierarchy above him, and even in the Vatican, he would probably sigh and say, “And just get in trouble and lose my diocese? Then you’d just have some liberal bishop replace me!” This seems like a conservative and strategic answer. Unfortunately, his answer is mortally sinful since it is based on the moral theology heresy of consequentialism. Here is why: The end does not justify the means, whether those means be sins of commission or omission. Have you ever thought of the fact that sins of omission do not justify a good end?
That means that if I refrain from correcting heresy in the those above me for the sake of keeping my faculties just to hear another 10,000 confessions, I commit a mortal sin based on the moral theology heresy of proportionalism. If a certain bishop were to tell us that doing the couragous thing would be all “too human” and that we should wait around for divine intervention, this would be approaching the spiritual heresy of quietism. If a certain Cardinal were to refrain from correcting the heresies of those above him so as to save the Church from schism (read: Caiaphas) or if that Cardinal were to stay silent so as to save his own hide to one day to become Pope, this too would be the moral theology error of consequentialism. Consequentialism and Proportionism are the two moral heresies freezing every prelate of the world from doing the right thing in the worst crisis in Church history. The end does not justify the means, even if those means are sins of omission with the good intention of your ministry’s self-preservation, or even preservation of the Church against schism.
Correcting another’s heresy (even those above us) is not only a heroic act, but a necessary act according to St. Paul and St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas: “It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, ‘Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.”—St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologicae II.II.33 art 4 reply to objection 2.
Many prelates would respond to the above with a sign of resignation: “Ahh, but no one would listen to me, anyway! I’m just a bishop of a small diocese in the Philippines.” Well, look at what God tells the prophet Jeremiah: ““When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction.’”—Jeremiah 7:27. Look at that first sentence again. Have you ever heard of a mission that God has sent a man on where he has already told him that he will fail? It’s astonishing that God tells Jeremiah ahead of time that the nation of Israel “will not listen to you.” Jeremiah obeys anyway. Why? Because it is GOD! It is GOD telling him too. Does that not mean anything to anyone anymore in the Catholic Church hierarchy? Jeremiah does not have time for the heresy of consequentialism by arguing that “no one will listen to me.” Yeah, God already told Jeremiah that. We obey God, anyway.
Look, this is not me just being a weekend warrior with a keyboard or a mere priest who is virtue-signaling against a hierarchy because he has to be a hermit. I’m using big words like “consequentialism”and “proportionism”because that is what moral theologians have called this error. But you don’t need to be a moral theologian to do the right thing as a father, spiritual or biological. Imagine this: Imagine a biological father is walking in the mountains of Colorado with his seven children. Imagine a mountain lion attacked one of his children. Would that father go and fight off that mountain lion? Yes! What if it cost that man his life? He would still do it. Can you imagine what kind of bad father would do an internal proportionalistic debate when a lion attacks his daughter? It might go like this: “Well, if I go and fight that lion off my oldest daughter, then it might kill me, and then my other six children would have no father. It is probably better that I leave the lion to eat my daughter because I would not want my other six children to be raised fatherless.” Such is the reasoning of why so many bishops will lie. They love their own digs more than the salvation of souls. But the opposite of proportionalism is what comes naturally to any virtuous father, biological or spiritual: Do the right thing. Always. Regardless of consequences, regardless of a weighed outcome.
And some bishops have done the right thing in history, regardless of consequences, even knowing of a coming failure that would cost them their seats in the diocese.
For example, in the 4th century, St. John Chrysostom was the Archbishop of Constantinople, the second most important city of Christendom behind only to Rome. Hundreds of thousands of people in modern-day Turkey looked to this great preacher to guide them to holiness. But one day, St. John Chrysostom knew he had to rebuke the Empress Eudoxia. St. John knew her temporal power. He knew very well that if he rebuked her, he might lose his seat as Patriarch over Constantinople. He knew that his people would be like sheep without a shepherd. He knew that hundreds of priests would go without his guidance in their ministries and perhaps thousands of the laity might fall away from the sacraments.
So, what did St. John Chrysostom do? He not only rebuked the Empress. He did it at Divine Liturgy. He called her a “Jezebel” publicly! Of course, she sent him into exile. Twice. Both times, Chrysostom had to leave his beloved Constantinople and her people. But he was simply reported to say at that time: “Violent storms encompass me on all sides, yet I am without fear because I stand upon a rock. Though the sea roar and the waves rise high, they cannot overwhelm the ship of Jesus Christ.” Chrysostom returned months or years later, one night. The people got wind of his return, and thousands went out on boats on the Bosborus, lighting up candles in the night to welcome their beloved spiritual father back! So, we must ask: What were the consequences of him not following the moral heresy of consequentialism? Of him not weighing souls of tomorrow against doing the right thing today? The answer to this is that St. John Chrysostom got canonized. St. John Chrysostom got declared a doctor of the Church. St. John Chrysostom was to then be read by millions of Christians, East and West, and people will be reading St. John Chrysostom until Christ returns in glory. Most importantly, St. John obeyed God and subsequently became a hero to all the biological fathers of Constantinople in that 4th century who desperately wanted to see a soldier of Christ do the right thing without compromise or fear.
Finally, pardon the borderline-blasphemy, but imagine if Jesus Christ had followed the moral theology errors of proportionalism and consequentialism. If Jesus Christ had followed these two moral theology of the end justifying the means, it would have sounded something like this: “I have a good thing going with these life-changing miracles and powerful teaching. If I keep telling the Pharisees that they are hypocrites, they might end my healings and terminate my raising people from the dead. If I oppose the Pharisees anymore, they will certainly end the most important thing: My preaching of My Father’s Kingdom! Thus, I better make peace with the Pharisees, because if they crucify me, then my awesome ministry ends!”
Of course, this type of thinking was exactly how St. Peter saw things when Jesus had to rebuke him and call him a “Satan.” Jesus knew that it was a temptation to put worldly success—even in ministry—above doing the right thing that would lead to the cross. Christ had to shock-therapy Peter into seeing at that moment that the world would not be saved without the cross, and that Christ could not climb the cross by weighing measly human consequences on the future when He was called in his Sacred Humanity by His Own Sacred Divinity to do just one thing: The right thing, today, without compromise, even if it meant raising the ire of the religious leaders of His day.
Yes, such an act amidst a corrupt hierarchy will usually lead to the end of one’s ministry…and the redemption of the world.1
Most of this blog post is about the clergy, but let me give an example that applies to laymen. Imagine your boss at work always misuses the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Do you correct him? You reason that the consequences of such a correction coming from your mouth would be the anger of your boss, and the subsequent loss of your job. But, if you lose your job, then your family goes hungry. God couldn’t possibly want you to have your family go hungry! Could He? So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.—Ezekiel 33:7-9. ↩
The sacrament of penance, also called the sacrament of reconciliation (or confession) has four necessary parts, three of which are on the part of the penitent: 1) contrition (sorrow) 2) confession of sins (to a priest, in person) and satisfaction (also called your penance, done outside the confessional.) The one aspect of a good confession executed by the priest is absolution (provided the priest has judged the penitent worthy of absolution.)
Last year during Lent, I gave a sermon called How to Make a Good Confession found on both my podcast and Sensus Fidelium‘s YouTube on these external parts of confession. Since then, I have started to read the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X (CPX) and I have discovered an overwhelming importance on sorrow for sins while approaching the confessional that I did not include in the above talk. In this very short catechism (which I recommend for any adult or teenager) Pope St. Pius X spends a full four pages on sorrow as the most important part of a good confession! (To give you an idea of how short a catechism this is, Confirmation only takes up three pages.)1
I normally do not write commentary blog posts on another’s words, but below I am going to give a few insights below the questions and answers of the CPX dealing with sorrow in confession. (If you only want to read the saintly Pope’s words on contrition in confession, you can obviously skip my commentary in the bold red font below.)
23 Q. How many conditions are necessary to make a good confession?
A. To make a good confession five things are necessary:
(1) Examination of conscience;
(2) Sorrow for having offended God;
(3) A resolution of sinning no more;
(4) Confession of our sins;
(5) Satisfaction or penance.
Notice that the external parts of confession are verbal confession, absolution and satisfaction (your “penance” to do.) The silent or internal parts of a confession (in the heart and mind) are examination, sorrow and resolution. The CPX says that of all the parts of confession, sorrow is the most important!
24 Q. What should we do first of all to make a good confession?
A. To make a good confession we should first of all earnestly beseech God to give us light to know all our sins and strength to detest them.
This one obviously refers to examination of conscience. As we ask God for light to know our sins, we should also have a pen and paper handy so as to write down our sins before entering the confessional.
11 Q. What is contrition or sorrow for sins?
A. Contrition or sorrow for sin is a grief of the soul leading us to detest sins committed and to resolve not to commit them any more.
Notice that the rest of this blog post will deal with sorrow.
12 Q. What does the word contrition mean?
A. Contrition means a crushing or breaking up into pieces as when a stone is hammered and reduced to dust.
When King David commits adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11) and David’s subsequent murder of her husband Uriah (2 Sam 11) David then composes the Miserere in repentance (Ps 50/51.) That Psalm has the famous line, “A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, Thou will not despise.” (DRB.) The word afflicted in the DRB is broken in the NIV and shabar in the Hebrew. That word contrite in the English is dakah in the Hebrew. I was surprised to see how much of the CPX section on sorrow reflects the Hebrew dictionary on those two words of the Miserere. Below, King David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, asks for a heart that is crushed, collapsed, smashed to pieces, broken down, torn violently, ruptured, wrecked and shattered:
Q. Why is the name of contrition given to sorrow for sin?
A. The name of contrition is given to sorrow for sin to signify that the hard heart of the sinner is in a certain way crushed by sorrow for having offended God
18 Q. Of all the parts of the sacrament of Penance which is the most necessary?
A. Of all the parts of the sacrament of Penance the most necessary is contrition, because without it no pardon for sins is obtainable, while with it alone, perfect pardon can be obtained, provided that along with it there is the desire, at least implicit, of going to confession.
In my above podcast, I said very little about deep, heart-felt contrition, or sorrow. I now see I was lacking in that sermon in one major thing: In his catechism, Pope St. Pius X treats of contrition not as a shallow feeling but “the most necessary part of the sacrament of Penance”!
36 Q. What is sorrow for sin?
A. Sorrow for sin consists in grief of soul and in a sincere detestation of the offence offered to God.
Notice this includes the affective level of grief, but also a detestation of past sins in the very intellect and will.
37 Q. How many kinds of sorrow are there?
A. Sorrow is of two kinds: perfect sorrow or contrition; and imperfect sorrow or attrition.
38 Q. What is perfect sorrow or contrition?
A. Perfect sorrow is a grief of soul for having offended God because He is infinitely good and worthy of being loved for His own sake.
If you have trouble coming up with imperfect contrition (attrition) or perfect contrition, my first suggestion is: Simply ask God for true sorrow for your sins. He probably will give it. Secondly, another way to spur your heart on to sorrow for your sins is to watch the scourging scene in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ:
39 Q. Why do you call the sorrow of contrition perfect sorrow?
A. I call the sorrow of contrition perfect sorrow for two reasons:
(1) Because it considers the goodness of God alone and not our own advantage or loss;
(2) Because it enables us at once to obtain pardon for sins, even though the obligation to confess them still remains.
If you are about to die without a priest, ask God immediately for the gift of perfect contrition—that is—sorrow for sins because you are overwhelmed at the goodness of God (more than fear of hell.) The best habitual approach to love of God and your own salvation is of course frequent confession and a constant sorrow for past sins, while realizing that the one thing greater than my ability to sin is my Heavenly Father’s ability to forgive me.
40 Q. Perfect sorrow, then, obtains us pardon of our sins independently of confession?
A. Perfect sorrow does not obtain us pardon of our sins independently of confession because it always includes the intention to confess them.
I can not believe how many “decent” priests have heretically instructed their faithful that they can go to receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, as long as they “say the act of contrition at beginning of Mass.” This is absolutely and patently false, according to numerous infallible Church Councils and Popes. Even if you could not get to the front of the Confession line before Mass, you may never, ever go to Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, even if you believe you have made an act of perfect contrition with total sorrow. Even with perfect contrition, you must confess mortal sins before receiving Holy Communion. (Priests in mortal sin may not offer Mass before confession, either.)
41 Q. Why does perfect sorrow or contrition produce the effect of restoring us to the grace of God?
A. Perfect sorrow or contrition produces this effect, because it proceeds from charity which cannot exist in the soul together with sin.
This means if you commit a mortal sin and then your plane is about to crash and you make an act of perfect contrition (harder than it looks) then you will be saved. But if your plane pulls back up and you’re going to live (!) then you still may not receive Holy Communion until confession. One reason for this is because perfect sorrow always includes the intention to confess the very sins which one felt such sorrow over at the most immediate opportunity that you have to confess.
42 Q. What is imperfect sorrow or attrition?
A. Imperfect sorrow or attrition is that by which we repent of having offended God because He is our Supreme Judge, that is, for fear of the chastisement deserved in this life or in the life to come, or because of the very foulness of sin itself.
The Church ruled around the 12th century that imperfect contrition was sufficient for a good confession. Two doctors of the Church had debated this up to that ruling. How merciful of the Church for her to declare that fear of hell is enough to save your soul preceding a good confession. (Of course, it is better to want to avoid sin due the goodness of God, but approaching with “fire insurance” makes a good confession, provided it is accompanied by firm resolution of amendment to avoid in the future the sins that you confess.) In other words: Aim for contrition (sorrow), but always be assured that attrition (avoidance of future sin) is sufficient for a good confession.
43 Q. What qualities must sorrow have to be true sorrow?
A. Sorrow in order to be true must have four qualities: It must be internal, supernatural, supreme and universal.
44 Q. What is meant by saying that sorrow must be internal?
A. It means that it must exist in the heart and will, and not in words alone.
Whoever said that pre-Vatican II Catholicism was routine words without any relationship to God has obviously never read the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X (or any saint, for that matter.)
45 Q. Why must sorrow be internal?
A. Sorrow must be internal because the will, which has been alienated from God by sin, must return to God by detesting the sin committed.
46 Q. What is meant by saying that sorrow must be supernatural?
A. It means that it must be excited in us by the grace of God and conceived through motives of faith.
47 Q. Why must sorrow be supernatural?
A. Sorrow must be supernatural because the end to which it is directed is supernatural, namely, God’s pardon, the acquisition of sanctifying grace, and the right to eternal glory.
48 Q. Explain more clearly the difference between natural and supernatural sorrow.
A. He who repents of having offended God because God is infinitely good and worthy of being loved for His own sake; of having lost Heaven and merited hell; or because of the intrinsic malice of sin, has supernatural sorrow, since all these are motives of faith. On the contrary, he who repents only because of the dishonour or chastisement inflicted by men, or because of some purely temporal loss, has a natural sorrow, since he repents from human motives alone.
Notice that several times the CPX says our number-one drive to a good confession should not be a random laundry list of sins, but the “goodness of God.”
49 Q. Why must sorrow be supreme?
A. Sorrow must be supreme because we must look upon and hate sin as the greatest of all evils, being as it is an offence against God.
50 Q. To have sorrow for sin, is it necessary to weep, as we sometimes do, in consequence of the misfortunes of this life?
A. It is not necessary to shed tears of sorrow for our sins; it is enough if in our heart we make more of having offended God than of any other misfortune whatsoever.
How many Catholic Americans would consider a single mortal sin in a family member to be a worse “misfortune” than the loss of a whole family in a car wreck or a home in a fire?
51 Q. What is meant by saying that sorrow must be universal?
A. It means that it must extend to every mortal sin committed.
52 Q. Why should sorrow extend to every mortal sin committed?
A. Because he who does not repent of even one mortal sin still remains an enemy to God.
I could not find the quote, but St. John Chrysostom explains somewhere that hiding a single sin in confession invalidates the entire confession. He compares it to a surgeon excising malignant cancer from a patient who keeps some of the cancer hidden, in a different area. Of course, the cancer in such a case will remain and will grow. The CPX is saying even more: Not only is an integral (complete) confession enough, but one should feel sorrow for every mortal sin of his past.
53 Q. What should we do to have sorrow for our sins?
A. To have sorrow for our sins we should ask it of God with our whole heart, and excite it in ourselves by the thought of the great evil we have done by sinning.
If this blog post is making you feel bad for not having enough sorrow, don’t worry! Just simply ask the Father in the name of Jesus for more sorrow for you sins. I believe He will give it to you. Again, go watch the scourging scene of the Passion of the Christ while remembering He took your place at the pillar.
54 Q. What should you do to excite yourself to detest your sins? A. To excite myself to detest my sins:
(1) I will consider the rigour of the infinite justice of God and the foulness of sin which has defiled my soul and made me worthy of the eternal punishment of hell.
(2) I will consider that by sin I have lost the grace, friendship and sonship of God and the inheritance of Heaven;
(3) That I have offended my Redeemer who died for me and that my sins caused His death;
(4) That I have despised my Creator and my God, that I have turned my back upon Him who is my Supreme Good and worthy of being loved above everything else And of being faithfully served.
I recently saw a video of a very famous American social-media priest (much more conservative than Fr. James Martin SJ) who said that when we return to confession, this is not God giving me another chance, but it is me giving God another chance! This is borderline-blasphemy. The saints would never say that confession is man giving God another chance. When we “consider the rigour of the infinite justice of God” there is no room to believe anything but the truth: Confession is truly God giving man another chance at His own supernatural life.
55 Q. In going to confession should we be extremely solicitous to have a true sorrow for our sins?
A. In going to confession we should certainly be very solicitous to have a true sorrow for our sins, because this is of all things the most important; and if sorrow is wanting the confession is no good.
How many careless confessions I have made…Oh Lord, I Fr. David Nix repent of this. Please stop scrolling and say a “Hail Mary” for me if you have actually made it this far in my long blog post.
56 Q. If one has only venial sins to confess, must he be sorry for all of them?
A. If one has only venial sins to confess it is enough to repent of some of them for his confession to be valid; but to obtain pardon of all of them it is necessary to repent of all he remembers having committed.
57 Q. If one has only venial sins to confess and if he does not repent of even one of them, does he make a good confession?
A. If one confesses only venial sins without having sorrow for at least one of them, his confession is in vain; moreover it would be sacrilegious if the absence of sorrow was conscious.
58 Q. What should be done to render the confession of only venial sins more secure?
A. To render the confession of venial sins more secure it is prudent also to confess with true sorrow some grave sin of the past, even though it has been already confessed. It has been said that the best way to make a good confession is to confess, pretending that the priest is Jesus in the Garden. If your next confession were to be made to Jesus in the Garden, already taking the burden of your sins, how would you confess? As a laundry list? Or with great love?
59 Q. Is it well to make an act of contrition often?
A. It is well and most useful to make an act of contrition often, especially before going to sleep or when we know we have or fear we have fallen into mortal sin, in order to recover God’s grace as soon as possible; and this practice will make it easier for us to obtain from God the grace of making a like act at time of our greatest need, that is, when in danger of death.
I also discovered one correction I need to make to the above sermon that I gave last year on the external parts of a good confession. In that talk, I said that one of the many things necessary for a priest to avoid sin in hearing confessions is to never change the words of absolution. Any small change would make the confession illicit but valid (that is, offensive to God’s law but still leaving the penitent cleansed.) He must say these words in Latin, or any other language exactly as the Church has given us. I said in that talk that if the priest were actually to change the final words of confession, “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit” then that confession would not only be illicit but invalid. Since reading the CPX, I have since discovered that a valid confession must include the above four things, but that the words of absolution that make it valid are slightly shorter:
7 Q. What is the form of the sacrament of Penance?
A. The form of the sacrament of Penance is this: “I absolve thee from thy sins.”
This is not to say that the priest ever wants to say anything shorter than the full words of absolution given him by the Church (much more than simply “I absolve you from your sins”) but that the penitent can be assured he is forgiven should he simply hear the words “I absolve you from you sins” and has at least some sorrow for all his sins. Again, hopefully the priest says the full 50 words given him by the Church (in Latin or any other language) to make the words of absolution both licit and valid (pleasing to God and effective) but the bare minimum you should listen every time, in order to assure your sins are forgiven, is this: “I absolve you from you sins.”