The following are excerpts from a recent letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano to the Bishop of Novara, Italy. His comments pretty well sums up the deploarble attitude of too many prelates in the current Bergolian church towards those faithful Catholics who yearn for the beauty and reverence of the traditional Sacred Liturgy, which is every Catholic’s rightful patrimony.
“Most Reverend Excellency,
“Your recent decision to suspend the celebration of the Tridentine Liturgy in the church of Vocogno and in the chapel of San Biagio in the Ossola Valleys (Piedmont, Italy) has provoked a great bitterness in the thousands of the faithful and in the priests who are tied to the Traditional Rite (here). After years of application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the coldness with which you have executed Traditionis Custodes has aroused deep indignation, despite the fact that the Code of Canon Law gives diocesan Ordinaries faculties that would permit you to derogate from it…
“The “church of mercy” finds itself exercising its power with the force of coercion, which fails when it ought to instead be used to heal situations that are much more serious: theological deviations, moral aberrations, sacrileges and irreverences in the liturgical ambit, The image of the (present day) Hierarchy given to the people of God is summed up in the adage: Strong with the weak; weak with the strong. Which, if you will permit me to say so, is the exact opposite of what you pledged to do as a Bishop.
The Spring of 2020 witnessed something entirely unprecedented in the 2,000 year history of the Church. Under pressure from government officials the bishops of the world shut down the entire public sacramental life of God’s Church without a whimper of protest, and did so during the holiest season of the year, Lent and Eastertide. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. Under the most virulent Roman persecutions the Church was forced underground, but its sacramental life continued to flow and flourish in the chambers of the catacombs. The faithful continued to be fed in spite of the tremendous risk to life and property. The same can be said during the devastating plagues of the Middle Ages when priests and bishops continued ministering to the souls entrusted to their pastoral care.
In times of great crisis or mortal threat pastors well understood that the sacraments became even more so a necessary and efficacious means of strengthening their flocks against physical and spiritual perils. So what happened in 2020 represents an inexplicable and entirely novel reaction on the part of prelates to a supposed threat, callously barring church doors against their own people ─ on Easter Sunday no less! Rather than working to dispel fear, the fecklessness of many pastors only heightened the tension and enabled manipulative fear mongering by secular public authorities. Something had certainly changed in the general attitude of our cowering prelates. Had they never read the response posed by Peter and John? “Whether it is right to obey men rather than God…” (Acts 4:19)
The story of Josef Cardinal Mindszenty’s confrontations with Hungarian Communists immediately after World War II is a gripping tale of intrigue, deception, and power politics. After watching the recent documentary film 2000 Mules I was particularly intrigued by the many parallels between what we had witnessed in November, 2020 and the convulsions Hungary was subjected to during and after the 1947 election that ensconced a Soviet puppet state that would maintain its totalitarian grip over the Hungarian people for the next 42 years. At the time the only organized opposition to the Communist takeover came from the Catholic Church under the strong leadership of its Primate of Hungary, Cardinal Josef Mindszenty. Ultimately Mindszenty himself would be targeted by the Communists, arrested, and imprisoned for his intransigence towards the totalitarian ruling power.
But in order to show the world that a Communist takeover was “the will of the people” that crucial 1947 election had to be rigged to obtain the desired outcome. According to Dr. Nicholas Boer, a Catholic priest who was himself an important official in the Ministry of Education, “In the West and elsewhere, everybody knew that the Hungarian elections of August 30, 1947 took place under an anti-democratic electoral law (which excluded a considerable part of the voters)… We do not want to discuss in detail how the Communists committed numerous abuses with the so-called “blue slips” which enabled a man to vote at various polling stations several times.” Just an aside, as an election judge in Denver County in the early 2000s I personally witnessed something very similar to this after the county had abandoned precinct voting to set up various “polling stations” around the city. I remember reporting to my supervisor that the ticket given to a voter after initial check in then remained in the voter’s custody and could then be simply re-used at any other polling station to vote again without having to check in. My complaint was simply ignored.
Christ is the true Light of the world, but there is another, false light which ultimately leads one only into darkness. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not comprehend it. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world… yet the world knew him not.” (Jn 1: 5;9,10) And the reason it knew him not is because there has always been a competing, mendacious light in the world designed only to lead men astray. In the 18th century vicious pirates would sometimes light a fire at night along some rocky patch of shoreline hoping to lure unsuspecting ships to their destruction on the jagged shoals. Just so, the false light which the ancient enemy of God sets up as a guiding beacon is actually intended to lure unsuspecting souls into ruin on the spiritual shoals.
Such false beacons have taken various forms over the millennia, and one of the more dangerous of these deceptive “lights” has long been Gnosticism. Gnostic comes from a Greek word for knowledge, and Gnosticism encourages the notion that some secret learning or knowledge will somehow provide one the key to success and happiness. It treats the “light of reason” in the same way, as indeed a replacement for the Christian “light of faith.” Reason and knowledge is what will free one from this broken world of pain and evil. Sin is no longer a moral fault but merely the effect of ignorance. Spiritually this is a deadly notion because it deflects our attention away from combating sin, the real root cause of our unhappiness, and redirects the will to fighting other things like poverty and ignorance which are only the symptoms, not the real root of human problems.
The recent disgraceful treatment of St. Junipero Serra’s memory reminds me of the main character in George Orwell’s prescient classic 1984 who worked in the Ministry of Truth. His particular job in that ministry was the constant revision of history to fit the official party line at any particular moment. The past was to be constantly readjusted so that it would always jive with the present political narrative. Welcome to our current Orwellian sequel, 2020. Today’s version of the Ministry of Truth goes by various names: Black Studies, Women’s Studies, or Native American Studies. These “truth ministries” are now a part of every major university. There, history is constantly being rewritten to fit a narrow, “victim – oppressor” narrative. Classroom study is further supplemented by disruptive activism (or virtual lab sessions) which includes pulling down or defacing monuments to any supposed “oppressor” from the past.
Fr. Serra, the great Franciscan missionary who founded nine missions up and down coastal California during the late 18th century, has been vilified and had statues vandalized and toppled amidst accusations of genocide and racism leveled against him. But the facts do not bear such charges out. Nearly 5,000 Christian Indian converts lived in relative security on mission lands because Fr. Serra fought diligently to protect them, not only from tribal enemies but also from Spanish civil authorities and colonists who, too often, cheated and brutalized the natives. Serra’s first sin, according to the identity politics view of history, was being a white European male who brought his Catholic faith to the indigenous peoples of California. He is charged with Christianizing pagan Indians, and for that grevious misdeed he will not be forgiven by modern day academics harboring deep hostility towards Christianity. Continue reading
The modern-day Revolution is primarily a rejection not merely of the Christian social order but of God himself. He is, after all, the ultimate object of insurrection. And what is the nature of God’s supposed crime against humanity to warrants such rejection? The most common complaint lodged against him is that he allows pain and suffering in the world, and therefore he must be a cruel God. In light of the accusation we must honestly ask ourselves, is this a valid charge or a mere pretext?
We all experience some degree of suffering throughout life. This is an unavoidable fact of our human existence. And because there is suffering and yes, evil, many people conclude either, a) that God does not exist or, b) then he must be some kind of cosmic sadist bent on torturing hapless souls for no apparent reason. There is another side to the story, however, which is that human beings also enjoy an abundance of the good things that sustain life and give much happiness and joy besides.
We occupy a world of gratuitous abundance which too often we take for granted. The rains fall to water this fertile earth, thus providing us with food, fibers for clothing, medicine and much more. Then consider the countless natural resources which make our technical civilization possible. We have family, teachers, and friends who nurture us and enrich our lives. Most of all, the gift of life itself was bestowed liberally upon each one of us with no cooperation on our part. What about the particular talents, abilities, and creative drives not to mention the countless material goods that we enjoy and find fulfillment in? Consider the gift of time itself which provides us ample opportunity to grow and develop those talents? Do these things also not come from God? If so, he must be a very poor torturer, indeed. Continue reading
There once existed a special and very privileged land, an island nation blessed in every respect with benign climate, fertile soils, an industrious people, and plentiful natural resources. Its Christian inhabitants were prosperous and happy, lightly ruled by monarchs and able to redress any grievance through a people’s assembly. Common lands surrounded towns and villages providing the industrious peasantry with acreage to till their fields and graze their cows. A protective ‘Common Law’ combined with a ‘Great Charter’ (Magna Carta) ensured a framework of basic rights, making this island kingdom a shining bulwark of freedom among its many feudal neighbors.
Furthermore, the Catholic Church, endowed with lands and property over the centuries by wealthy and pious patrons, provided sustenance for the poor through her manifest resources. This common religion aligned with common law to foster social harmony. There was no standing army or organized police. Crime and theft were at a minimum because everybody in a town was known to everybody else. Continue reading
This is the final part of a four part series on Sacrifice. See previous posts for parts 1,2, & 3.
History is curiously cyclical. Approximately 1,500 years after Moses instituted the Jewish ritual sacrifice, it was ruthlessly cut off by the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Approximately 1,500 years after Christ instituted his Eucharistic Covenant, a group of Christian would-be reformers ‘discovered’ that cultic sacrifice was no longer something useful. In fact, many went so far as to brand it idolatrous. In doing so they disconnected the Mass from its ancient Jewish ancestry of Temple sacrifice ─ and 15 centuries of unbroken Christian Tradition. Sacrifice, the very heart of religion, was thereby dismissed as either mistaken or irrelevant. Continue reading
The very first command that Christ utters in the Gospel to his followers is this direct and simple summons, “Follow Me.” And in a sense this may be considered to be the first commandment of the New Covenant, which builds upon its Old Covenant counterpart, “I am the Lord Your God, You shall put no strange god before Me.” But this summons is both an invitation and a command, for Christ never imposes on our free wills as if we were boot camp recruits. He desires only a freely given response on our part. But, like those first apostles, once we make that commitment there must be no turning back. The only one who turned back from the original twelve was Judas whose fate we might not wish to share. And where does that divine command to “Follow me” eventually lead? It takes one to wherever the master goes, which means it ultimately leads to the very brow of Calvary.
We just returned from an exhilarating trip to Great Britain and one of the most edifying aspects of our journey was discovering the many English martyrs who so heroically accepted their Lord’s challenge to “follow me” throughout 150 years of persecution during the 16th and 17th centuries. Continue reading
May 13, 2017 marks 100 years since an extraordinary warning was given to a skeptical world ─ a world which in 1917 was plunging ever deeper into dangers and darkness. That fateful year forever changed the established world order, and in ways that statesmen of the time could have hardly envisaged. A horrific European war was in its third destructive year as machine guns and trench warfare consumed millions of lives, mostly the idealistic flower of European youth. But rather than call off this senseless slaughter, the belligerents doubled down stubbornly because, as in any war, the calm voices of reason are invariably drowned out by the hysterical rhetoric of zealots.
And so the carnage ground inexorably on until March 1917 when the Russian troops who were bearing the brunt of mayhem finally revolted and brought down their Czar. Continue reading