WELCOME TO APROPOS
It is with great sadness we have to tell those readers who are unaware, that Tony died suddenly and unexpectedly on the morning of 28th August of a heart attack. Anyone who wants to contact us can still do so on his email address.
We ask your prayers at this time. Eternal rest grant unto him of Lord, let perpetual light shine upon him, may be rest in peace. Our Lady of Fatima pray for him.
8th August 2014 – St John Mary Vianney
Russia and Fatima – No other Possibility
In a speech which we made several years ago we observed:
‘Yet the emphasis today is not so much on the fact that a large tranche of the prophecy [regarding Russia] has been realised. It is inclined to centre on the apparent fall of communism and this in turn is held as proof of the conversion of Russia. This is to ignore the evidence that, whatever state Russia may be in now, she has already spread her errors throughout the world. What we have witnessed over the past eighty odd years since the Russian Revolution has been the spread of Russia’s errors throughout the world like a raging contagion. What are Russia’s errors? These are merely a variation on the theme of those revolutionary doctrines which manifested themselves during the French Revolution. The predominant error which Russia unleashed on the world was not so much atheistic communism as organised naturalism, for the former is very much the product of the latter. As Prof. Billington remarks: ‘If the French Revolution was the incarnation, the Russian Revolution was the second coming.’ But whatever its place in the pecking order of revolution, the essence of both these manifestations of revolution is a rejection of God and the supernatural in the affairs of men.
The Great Cardinal Pie of Poitiers defined naturalism thus: “It is more than a heresy, it is pure undiluted anti-christianism. Heresy denies one or more dogmas. Naturalism denies that there are any dogmas or that there can be any. Heresy alters more or less what God has revealed; Naturalism denies the very existence of revelation. It follows that the inevitable law and the obstinate passion of Naturalism is to dethrone Our Lord Jesus Christ and to drive Him from the world.... Naturalism strives with all its might to exclude Our Lady, Jesus Christ, Our One Master and Saviour, from the minds of Men as well as from the daily lives and habits of peoples, in order to set up the reign of reason or of nature. Now, wherever the breath of Naturalism has passed, the very source of Christian life is dried up. Naturalism means complete sterility in regard to salvation and eternal life.”’ (The Kingship of Christ according to Cardinal Pie of Poitiers, pp.57-58. Cited in The Kingship of Christ and Organised Naturalism by Fr. Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp.)'
We would not pretend that Russia has been converted, but what we can say is that those errors of Russia, which derive essentially from the French Revolution, have converted the West. Russia’s errors are now our errors. Our governments are espoused to Naturalism, to Frankfurt School Marxism and thus to undiluted anti-christianism. Even if they pay lip service to God on occasions, He is ignored in public policy – there is no greater evidence of this than in the policies of abortion and same-sex 'marriage'. The Western establishment, like Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin-doctor, ‘does not do God’.Indeed one wonders to what extent the organised provocation and demonization of Russia, which fills our media, is driven more by Russian policies towards Christianity and homosexuality than by concern for the peoples of Ukraine. It is openly acknowledged by some Russia watchers that President Putin sees himself as one who intends to present Russia as an example of moral rectitude and a defender of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. (See: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/world-leaders-should-unite-to-end-anti-christian-persecution-vladimir-putin )
If this process of conversion is genuine, one can well understand why the forces of Hell may be aligning themselves against Russia.There is therefore an even more immediate need for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus as requested by Our Lady at Fatima so as to effect the true conversion of Russia. In three years’ time we will reach the anniversary not only of the Russian Revolution (1917), of the establishment of Freemasonry (1717) and of Luther’s revolt (1517) but also of Our Lady’s appearance at Fatima (1917). Recent developments in Russia seem to be demanding of their very nature a supernatural response. Will our Pope and Bishops confronted with the consequences of an immense modernist apostasy continue to ignore Our Lady’s request no matter what?
In 1957 Lucia told Fr. Fuentes: “She (the Blessed Virgin Mary) told me that the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility.”
Dostoievsky and Tolstoy
‘Inasmuch as we may now (in this August of 2014) be on the verge of another portion of ongoing revolutionary war—now even against Russia herself—let us consider, also, the more unexpected channels of counterrevolution, to include the consoling balm of Dostoievsky's channels of Grace and depictions of actual or near Holiness.’
Thus, Professor Robert Hickson in his examination of the literary legacy of Dostoievsky as opposed to that of his fellow-Russian, Tolstoy; a legacy which reflects upon not only their different literary skills but also their vastly different personalities and life experiences. He does so with reference, in particular, to Dostoievsky’s character, Prince Myshkin, The Idiot, ‘the ideal and character’ of which ‘may even be an example and consoling balm for us, as well as a further aid to our own moral resistance to cultural disorder (and vice) as part of a larger counterrevolution: a counterrevolution that is also a spiritual affirmation.’
Those who love the literature of Doestoievsky will find this reflection both informative and spiritually inspiring. (Click here to access)
In our last blog we suggested that some of the alleged papal interviews made it difficult to take seriously what the Pope says. A priest correspondent remarked concerning Pope Francis’s, Readers’ Digest-like list of recommendations for good living:
‘I simply cannot imagine any previous Vicar of Christ beginning a list of ten recommendations for good living with a blue-ribbon liberal cliché like . . . "Live and let live". And then including another tip saying we should not talk to non-Catholics with a view to persuading them to become Catholic. Rather than "proselytizing" them by such ill-advised means, we should just "attract" them - presumably by our personal example of niceness. (I wonder how many of the Pentecostal brethren whose gathering in Caserta, Italy, Francis honoured with his presence the other day will be "attracted" enough by this gesture to become Catholics. I won't hold my breath waiting while they decide between that option and his 'top-of-the-pops' admonition to just live and let live" "Poprah", I'm afraid, sums up well this list of bland, crowd-pleasing papal bromides. (Is this being the "Salt of the earth"? or the "Sweet-'n-Low of the earth"?)’
It truly pains us to publish such a comment. Not because it is disrespectful, but because it is true.
We and many other Catholics agonisingly await other such interviews, recommendations, hints and denials and at the same time continue to pray for the Pope. We respectfully suggest that we all use that prayer, for the election of a Pope, for the present Pontiff that he may, by the grace of God, strengthen the faith of his flock.
O Lord, with suppliant humility, we entreat Thee, that in Thy boundless mercy, Thou wouldst grant the most holy Roman Church a pontiff, who by his zeal for us, may be pleasing to Thee, and by his good government may ever be honoured by Thy people for the glory of Thy name. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Most Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Pray for us who have recourse to Thee!
Saint Pius V
Pray for us.
Saint Pius X
Pray for us.
Hypocrisy and confusion – especially about the death penalty
The death penalty and indeed death have been much in the news recently. Voices of complaint and horror have been expressed at yet another botched attempt to execute a condemned prisoner in the United States where the death penalty still prevails in some States. In an interview concerning same on BBC Newsnight it was suggested that these botched attempts had arisen because the chemicals required to effect a humane despatch of the criminals were the subject of an embargo by both the EU and American drug companies which either disapprove of the death penalty or do not wish to be associated with its execution. States still applying the death penalty by lethal injection were thus left to concoct lethal cocktails from less than effective ingredients.
More than one person has observed that there appears to be no shortage of drugs/chemicals available to the death merchants in Belgium, the Netherlands, Oregon or at Dignitas in Switzerland, and one must presume therefore that the EU, other national authorities and drug companies have thus far not disapproved of the death penalty when it is self-imposed. Indeed in proposals for assisted suicide in Scotland it is expected that pharmacists will provide the necessary cocktail of drugs to ‘approved’ suicide candidates.
While the EU, national governments and drug companies and some abolitionists might voice their opposition to the death penalty being imposed on all manner of murderers and rapists, they have no compunction about enabling the execution of millions of innocents through abortion (or, as is will be increasingly the case, in certain nations, by euthanasia or assisted suicide).
In his encyclical Evangelium vitae, written in 1995, Pope John Paul II made some observations regarding the use of the death penalty, a matter which had also been discussed in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. That Pontiff suggested that, for all intents and purposes, cases in which the death penalty might be used are practically non-existent because of improvements in the penal system. But he did base that view on certain presumptions. Among these was the presumption that organised penal systems are capable of safely containing criminals, and that the death penalty should not be resorted to ‘except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society’. That, of course would not be a remedy if the death penalty was universally abolished.
We know that a death penalty of sorts is exacted in all nations when the police or armed forces kill a criminal or terrorist who presents an immediate and real danger to society and its members. We also know that a person may lawfully kill another in a genuine act of self-defence undertaken to save one’s own life. No reasonable person would object to such killing provided it was necessary in the circumstances.
Execution of a criminal by the State or its agencies in such circumstances is almost universally permitted. Such a criminal does not have to have killed someone to be treated thus, he merely needs to be seen as posing a reasonable threat or placing others in danger of severe injury or death and be incapable of being restrained other than by force.
If such killing is lawful when the criminal may not have murdered or when his intentions can only be guessed at, why is it not permissible to execute a murderer in cases where his guilt is proven and he is wholly unrepentant or a murderous recidivist? Are our penal systems infallibly capable of preventing murderous re-offending within and outwith the penal system?
While we personally have no firm view on the death penalty, we are not wholly opposed to its use where it is required either to protect the safety of society, its members and the common good. In Apropos No. 12/ 13, 1992 (three years before the appearance of the above encyclical) we reproduced an article ‘Arguments about the Death Penalty’ by Rémi Fontaine which had appeared in Action Familiale et Scolaire and which discusses the death penalty in the context of eternity, among other things. (Click here to access)
One cannot but agree with the British Government’s recently voiced opposition to the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Nevertheless is there not here a certain degree of hypocrisy too. Does not that same government sponsor and advocate chemical-induced disease of the reproductive system of countless women by means of contraceptive and abortifacient ‘medications’ and also the surgical mutilation of the healthy bodies of men and woman for contraceptive purposes. All these practices are examples of anti-medicine – acts designed to prevent the normal and natural functioning of the organs concerned, rather than effect the cure of a malfunction or defect. The only difference between FGM and these other practices is that the former is sought without the permission of the patient whereas the latter, at least in the UK, is sought by the patient – which has not always been the case elsewhere - where compulsory sterilisation has been enforced by the State against the patients’ wishes.
We have also posted below some musings by Charles Kerr which also addresses the death penalty and how it may be achieved more effectively, at least theoretically, where such is a form of punishment for heinous crimes. Pope Pius XII reminds us that in considering the serious nature of crime one must also have ‘regard to the person who commits the crime: for example, in the case where those who should maintain law, themselves break it.’ Charles Kerr, in his musing on that subject, touches upon this when he refers to the crimes committed within prisons by prisoners upon prisoners – one wonders just how effectively these crimes are prevented by those who should maintain the law? (Click here to access)
Abortion v the Death Penalty
The English journalist, Peter Hitchens in an interview with a New Zealand journalist (http://www.getfrank.co.nz/editorial/media/peter-hitchens-abortion-interview ) responded thus to the following question:
‘Why is society so ready to support abortion but condemn the death penalty?’
‘Because, by and large, belief in the immortal soul has disappeared (though this is intellectual fashion rather than the result of any objective discoveries on the subject). The death penalty is really only tolerable if it is a step towards the murderer's earthly repentance and eternal salvation. If a man has a life but not a soul, then other men, who also believe they have no souls, will naturally regard his execution as intolerable. Similarly, they will regard an unborn baby, which has no social relations, speech or other visible characteristics of humanity as being of no great worth, since they recognise humanity mainly in outward, rather than inward things. If you regard each baby as being made in the image of God, named and known by Him since the beginning of the world, you take a different view.’
This observation by Hitchens, a non-Catholic, helps explain why he is disliked so much by the liberal mafia, but his observation regarding eternal salvation has an resemblance to some of the views cited in Rémi Fontaine’s article.
Pius XII and Punishment
On the general subject of crime and punishment please find here Pius XII’s address to the Catholic Jurists of Italy on 5th Dec. 1954 which was published in English in Catholic Documents Vol XVII by the Pontifical Court Club. (Click here to access).
American Pluralism - the American Mirage
During the Gulf War when we dared to criticise the American and British invasion of Iraq, one of our subscribers cancelled his subscription to Apropos and at the same time notified the White House of our treasonous behaviour, as he saw it. This was not the first example we had met of a Catholic presuming that his nation's activities or its constitution was almost religious in character and beyond criticism. It is not uncommon to find an American Catholic writer making reference to the American Constitution as if it, rather than the Decalogue, had been handed down to Moses. One finds a similar adulation of the Declaration on Human Rights by some Catholics in Europe. While we recognise the undoubted patriotism of many Americans, we do not consider that patriotism requires one to treat the founding fathers of the nation nor its constitution as beyond criticism or reproach. Nor does it prevent us from wishing that our founding fathers had been wholly faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles and that our constitution, written or unwritten, was based on the principles of the natural and moral law and afforded full recognition to the rights of Christ the King and His Church.
In the attached article John Rao addresses American pluralism and examines how it has been allowed to emasculate the Catholic Church in America and (because of America’s influence) the Church elsewhere too. (Click here to access)
The Roman Forum
We have also attached an appeal letter from Professor Rao regarding the Roman Forum. The letter outlines the sterling work done by the Roman Forum, its forthcoming programme and its urgent need for funds. (Click here to access)
Michael Davies Conference – London 4th October
Michael Davies (1936-2004) was arguably the greatest defender, in the English language, of the Traditional Mass at a time when it was being openly attacked and ridiculed by many in the Church, including by those in senior positions who were in a position to know better.
To mark the 10th anniversary of his death, a conference is being organised in London on Saturday 4th October at St Mary Moorfields Church in the City of London. Tickets are £15 each and the speakers include Michael's son, Adrian, flying in from the USA, Michael Matt and Christopher Ferrara, and the LMS's own Jamie Bogle.
There will be a Solemn Requiem in the afternoon for the repose of Michael's soul.
For further information see: http://www.lms.org.uk/news-and-events/michael-davies-conference
Loss of Faith
In a recent discussion with someone who has left the Faith, our interlocutor advised us that when at school he considered many of his Catholic schoolmates as tribal Catholics – tribal in the sense of belonging to the Irish diaspora in Scotland and thus practising the Faith for tribal reasons rather than on grounds of belief. Somewhat ironically he acknowledged that at that time he was probably the only true Catholic in his class – pray for him.
Those who have roots in the West of Scotland, and whose faith is stronger than the tribal kind, will recognise this phenomenon. Whereas, when anti-Catholicism was often overt, faith was once expressed in terms of being a Catholic and loyalty to Rome, it is now often expressed in terms of loyalty to a football team, socialism and other ‘tribal’ influences.
This observation reminded us of an article written by H. Le Caron about a similar problem drawn to his attention by a Polish theologian which had led him to speculate about the future in Poland should Communism fall. H. Le Caron reflected:
‘I think that we ought to be chary of a certain kind of 'tribal' Catholicism which is not strong enough to persevere when external circumstances change merely in the direction of a liberalism lacking any really Christian political framework.
I have often found that good boys and girls from Catholic provinces like Brittany, ceased very quickly to practise their religion and lost the Faith when they were separated from their usual surroundings, and were no longer kept in control by the parish priest. Their faith could not withstand the disorientation and the pagan atmosphere.’
Certainly, Catholics in Scotland in the 70s & 80s were, for the most part, not separated from their usual surroundings in the sense of parish or priest, but following Vatican II they were effectively separated from the Faith as it had been practised until then, and were practically abandoned in the increasingly secular society then developing rapidly.
Paradoxically, a few days after our discussion, we noted an article in The Catholic Herald of July 18th, 2014, concerning a poll of Polish Catholics which indicated that the number of people attending Mass in Poland had fallen by 2 million in the last ten years. Fr Wojciech Sadlon director of the Catholic Church Institute of Statistics remarked that: ‘People who often came to Church were motivated by an attachment to tradition and a culture given to them by their family, but this is no longer enough to sustain them and so they gradually cease to attend.’ Polish Mass attendance, however, at around 39%, is far higher than it is the former “free” West.
We have posted H. Le Caron’s article ‘Individual Faith and Collective Faith’ which was first published in English in Apropos No.3. Corpus Christi, 1988. In it he reminds us that no matter what collective group we belong to, ‘we must not lose sight of the fact that our salvation is an individual matter; that Church and State create conditions or a climate which favour it, but do not determine it. Each of us retains his freewill, remaining free to accept or reject God's grace.’ (Click here to access).
Immigration and Islam
We refer our readers to this article which appeared in LifeSite News regarding the encroachment of Islam in Europe. (Click here to access) . The author’s puzzlement regarding Ruth Kelly’s involvement in the Labour Party because of her membership of Opus Dei is no surprise to those who have studied the political philosophy of the founder of Opus Dei: ‘There are no dogmas in temporal affairs…Trying to impose dogmas in temporal affairs leads inevitably to the forcing of other people's consciences, to a lack of respect for one's neighbour.’ This quotation came from an article published by Msgr. Escriva in the Madrid daily, ABC on 2nd November 1969. It was quoted by Bishop Alvaro del Portillo in the preface to Es Cristo que pasa. This explains why Mrs Kelly could find it acceptable to being in the Labour cabinet. It does beg the question though about the status of the authentic social doctrine of the Church.
The results of Western folly
Recent events in both Ukraine and in the Middle East have unfolded with much wringing of hands and expressions of horror at what has passed in these areas. The USA, Britain and certain members of the EU cannot present themselves as disinterested onlookers. The Arab Spring which they supported has developed into an Arab winter which becomes increasingly bitter in outlook as time goes on. What seems to have been a deliberate provocation of Russia in Ukraine is taking us to the brink of another great war. Sir Charles Powell, former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, presciently remarked during the Russian Arms for Iraq affair: “ There is a careful line to tread between putting pressure on Russia to secure acceptable international behaviour, and precipitating its collapse into economic and political chaos. The latter could lead to extreme nationalism or a return of the Communists. The risk of renewed cold war, even without communism cannot be discounted.”
The West, it seems, has chosen to risk a renewed cold war or worse. By meddling in Russia’s direct backyard it has provoked the response it has perhaps engineered.
In Gaza, Israel kills many innocent civilians and the blame is put upon Hamas. But Hamas too is a creation of Western indifference to the plight of the Palestinians. One wonders if Hamas would have been invented if it had not already existed - as a means of justifying continued Israeli occupation. The West does nothing about the continued abuse of the occupied territories nor about the illegal building of settlements. It does nothing because of the powerful influence which Israel has upon the United States.
As for the Christians in the Middle East. They appear expendable. Their persecution, their genocide is a direct result of the ill-thought-out interference of the West in the Middle East.
As we post this blog we received the following in an e-mail from Aid to the Church in Need which is almost biblical in its poignancy, redolent of Matthew 2:18 ‘A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. ‘
‘This morning ACN received an urgent message from Patriarch Louis Sako in Baghdad. Overnight the largest Christian town and surrounding villages on the Niniveh Plains fell to ISIS (now Islamic State) and, as we speak, up to one hundred thousand Christians are evacuating on foot, leaving everything behind them. The Patriarch calls it ‘an exodus, a real via crucis’.
He says, “The ISIS militants attacked with mortars most of the villages of the plain of Niniveh, during the night of 6th-7th August and now they are controlling the area. The Christians, about one hundred thousand, horrified and panicked, fled their villages and houses [with] nothing but... the clothes on their backs. An exodus, a real via crucis, Christians are walking on foot in Iraq’s searing summer heat towards the Kurdish cities of Erbil, Duhok and Soulaymiyia, the sick, the elderly, infants and pregnant women among them. They are facing a human catastrophe and risk a real genocide. They need water, food, shelter…”
“Regarding the churches and church properties in the villages now being occupied by the ISIS militants, we have reports of destruction and desecration. The old manuscripts and documents are being burnt.”
In desperation he concludes, “We appeal with sadness and pain to the conscience of all and all people of good will and the United Nations and the European Union, to save these innocent persons from death. We hope it is not too late!”’
Let us pray that this appeal does not fall upon deaf ears.
Harts Catholic Doctrine
Please find attached Chapter XIII – The Second Article of the Creed (Continued) – ‘And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.’ (Click here to access)
St John Mary Vianney
We reproduce here an article which appeared in Apropos No. 28, Christmas 2010 to commemorate this great Saint. (Click here to access)
St Mary Magdalen - 22nd July 2014
In our last posting we carried an article about Brent Bozell which referred in passing to the Carlist Requetes in the Spanish Civil War. We recently came across a photograph of a young requeta who had lost his upper limbs and possibly an ear too. Our correspondent, Charles Kerr, of Kerr’s Musings’ fame, remarked that this photograph reminded him of Solzhenitsyn’s remark about the Kengir marriages: Too pure for the modern age.
This photograph came from the book, Combat over Spain, by the Duke of Lerma
Alpha et al
In our previous posting we made reference to The Catholic Herald editor’s endorsement of the Alpha scheme, and the Holy Father’s warm words of approval for Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The following issue of The Catholic Herald, on July 11th 2014, carried an article by a member of the Ordinariate criticising Alpha for much the same reasons as we had advanced. We have reproduced that article here for the benefit of our readers. (Click here to access)
Another apology in the offing?
Alas, the Holy Father, appears to have extended his approval not only to Catholic Charismatic Renewal but also to Protestant Charismatic renewal. In an article in The Catholic Herald (18th July 2010) we are advised that:
‘Pope Francis will pay a brief “private visit” to the Italian church of a Pentecostal pastor he knew from Argentina, a Vatican spokesman has said. Fr Frederico Lombardi said that the visit to the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation…”is under study and likely would take place [on] July 26”.
Fr Lombardi said the Pope knew the church’s pastor, Giovanni Traettino, from Buenos Aires, where the Pentecostal pastor participated in ecumenical events with Catholics. The then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, along with Traettino and Capuchin Fr. Raniero Cantalamassa, preacher of the papal household, spoke at a large ecumenical gathering in Buenos Aires in 2006. (…)
Brian Stiller of the World Evangelical Alliance, who was present at a meeting with Pope and evangelical pastors and tele-evangelists in June ‘wrote about the encounter on his blog. “We talked about Christians marginalised, pressed under the weight of government power or the majority presence of other faiths,” Mr Stiller wrote. “He listened and then told a remarkable story. In his years in and out of Rome, he became friends with the pastor of a Pentecostal Church in Rome. In time he came to learn that the church and pastor felt the power and presence of the Catholic Church, with its weighty presence, obstructing their desire to grow and be a witness. “ So,” he said, “this July I will preach in his church on Sunday and offer an apology from my Church for the hurt it has brought to their congregation”.
The Catholic Herald reports that Fr Lombardi confirmed that the pastor referred to was Mr Traettino, but did not comment on the rest of Mr Stiller’s account. Perhaps we are to be led to believe that Mr Stiller comes from the Scalfari school of journalism. That would perhaps be the most charitable slant we could put on this piece of news.
Another Scalfari interview
It is not our place to judge the Holy Father but when we heard the news break yet again of one of ‘those’ “interviews” we are sure we were not alone in wishing that he observed an occasional observance of the vow of silence. These “interviews” and “telephone calls”, the authenticity of which is often denied or disputed, do little to encourage us to take some of the Holy Father’s statements seriously. Perhaps in some ways this is a good thing in that it causes even the most ardent papolatrist to think as much about the substance as the source of papal statements (or rather statements said to be of papal origin). It is said that the Vatican is to revamp its media operations – perhaps the old adage ‘silence is golden’ ought to be considered as its watchword. One can think of few other organisations of the size of the Vatican where the Press Officer is engaged so often in remedial action. If the Pope must speak with Signor Scalfari surely the Vatican can run to the cost of a recording device, if La Repubblica cannot. If, on the other hand, no recording takes place so as to afford deniability, then, as they say in Houston, ‘we have a problem’.
‘It is interesting to note that the contestation of the precept of celibacy has always coincided with signs of decadence in the Church, while in times of renewed faith and cultural blossoming one has noted a strengthened observance of celibacy.’ (Cardinal Brandmüller)
The interview that Pope Francis gave to Scalfari allegedly touched inter alia on the subject of priestly celibacy. We have posted for our readers this article by Sandro Magister which alludes to that interview and to the response to same made by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller. (Click here to access.)
Sandro Magister also reflects on Pope Francis’ taking as a model as Pope, St Celestine, the first Pope to resign. But as Magister points out St Celestine’s sanctity did not arise from his service as pontiff – a service which was pretty disastrous. (Click here to access)
From Joie de Vivre to Gaudium de Veritate
In this little essay Robert Hickson reflects on an amusing little play enacted betwixt a traditional priest and a certain Archbishop Annibale Psittacus – what might be described as a Catholic “parrot” sketch which appeared in the Rorate Coeli blog. (click here to access Prof. Hickson’s article)
A pdf of the play referred to in Professor Hickson’s article may be found here.
As we write, no definitive evidence has been produced regarding the cause of the terrible tragedy which befell the passengers [may their souls rest in peace] of Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. There is plenty of speculation and already blame is being directed towards Russia and President Putin in particular. In the attached article taken from Peter Hitchens’ blog he asks us not to consider this catastrophe in a vacuum but to have regard for the greater picture. We present this article because it provides an alternative view to that generally aired on the media at large. (Click here to access.)
In the Middle East an even greater number of people have been killed in the conflict in Gaza – there too regard has to be had for the greater picture and one cannot but think that this conflict will never be resolved until the USA acts as a neutral broker rather than as the bank of last resort for the State of Israel. The Neo-Con agenda of divide and conquer in the Middle East was summed up thus by Stephen J Sniegoski in his work The Transparent Cabal – The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East and the National Interest of Israel:
‘The aim of the neo-conservative/Likudnik foreign policy strategy was to weaken and fragment Israel’s Middle East adversaries and concomitantly increase Israel’s relative strength, both externally and internally. A key objective was to eliminate the demographic threat posed by Palestinians to the Jewish state, which the destabilization of Israel’s external enemies would achieve, since Palestinian resistance depended upon external support, both moral and material. Without outside support, the Palestinians would be forced to accede to whatever type of peaceful solution Israel offered.’ (p.5)
The neo-conservative Michael Ledeen in his book, The War Against the Terror Masters, openly sought to use the USA to defeat Israel’s enemies stated:
‘Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a misleading concept, to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change The real issue is not whether, but how best to destabilize.’
The evidence of how to destabilise has been enacted before our very eyes. Does anyone believe that it was purely accidental that Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt have all been destabilised and have been effectively taken out of the power equation in the Middle East?
The influence of the Israeli lobby in the USA was highlighted in the article by the academics Mearsheimer and Walt, ‘The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy’. It may be found here and helps provide some background to the present paralysis in Palestinian/Israeli ‘peace’ efforts.
Belloc on Almsgiving – Prayer and Mercy
In this short essay Belloc’s encounter with a mendicant in the Balearics brings back a memory to Professor Hickson of a similar meeting in Sicily. (Click here to access)
On the 18th July the British House of Lords debated Lord Falconer’s euphemistically named Assisted Dying Bill which provides for assisted suicide - self-killing of the terminally ill. It took place against the background of a warning by the UK Supreme Court that it may interpret existing law concerning suicide in a less restrictive manner than has hitherto been the position. It suggested that Parliament address the question of the existing law’s compatibility with the Human Rights Act. Paradoxically, this proposed legislation does not address the type of case which has been recently before the court and the basis for the warning.
It was no paradox that such a measure should have received its second reading on the Feast of St Camillus of Lellis – perhaps a pointer to the Saint whose intercession we require to stop such legislation in the various legislative assemblies in the UK. St Camillus, according to the introduction to his Feast Day in the St Andrew’s Missal, ‘obtained from the Apostolic See approbation for his order’ which consecrated itself to the care of the sick. ‘Inspired by the example of Jesus who died for us and who has declared that there is no greater proof of love than to give one’s life for others, these religious promised to tend the sick, even those stricken with the plague. St Camillus as well as his Institute received from God a special grace to help souls to emerge victoriously from the death struggle, wherefore the name of this saint has been included in the litany for the Agonising…Leo XIII proclaimed him the patron of hospitals and patients, and Pius XI of all those who nurse them.
The Order founded by St Camillus was known as Brothers of the Happy Death and as Archbishop Goodier reminds us:
‘ …we in modern times have reason to preserve the memory of Camillus, for we owe him two great debts. In the first place he may be said to be the founder of the modern nursing spirit; in the second place, without any doubt, we are indebted to him for the institution of the Red Cross. When the Order which he founded was formally approved by the Pope, that its members might be distinguished from other regulars, Camillus asked that they might be permitted to wear a red cross on their cassock and mantle. By an apostolic brief, dated 26th June, 1586, the permission was granted; and three days later, on the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, Camillus with a few of his followers came to St. Peter's, each wearing the red cross, and there dedicated themselves and their work to God for all time.’
Following the appalling treatment of the elderly ill in some British hospitals and nursing homes, it has been suggested by some that this is due in part to the low wages paid in some of these establishments. St Camillus must have heard these suggestions in his day too, for, As Archbishop Goodier writes:
‘He began to love the patients in the hospital, not merely to serve them; and the more he loved them the more he was troubled by the treatment they received, even in so comparatively well-regulated a hospital as S. Giacomo. One evening, as he stood in the middle of a ward, the thought occurred to him that good nursing depended on love that the more it was independent of mere wages the better it would be; that if he could gather men about him who would nurse for love, and would leave the wages to look after themselves, then he might hope to raise nursing to the standard he desired.’
During the Lord’s debate there were several references to love as a justification for assisting suicide. But little, if any, direct reference was made to the evil of suicide and the consequences of such in terms of man’s true end, which is beyond death, and which true love would not dare put in jeopardy.
SS. Cyril and Methodius - 7th July 2014
We apologise for the delay in this posting. The delay has been occasioned by what is called the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) which causes one’s computer to crash without warning and which, for the relatively amateur computer user, becomes a repetitive nightmare. As we write it is still unresolved.
If anyone is in any doubt about the strength of masonic/secular humanist influence in the United Kingdom, one has only to reflect on the reaction to the so-called ‘Trojan-horse’ affair in Birmingham State Schools – an affair which has arisen because of an alleged plot by Islamists to make certain public schools in Birmingham conform to an Islamic ethos. Some of these schools have a population which is well over 90% Muslim and reflect the areas in which they are situated. This in turn has led to calls by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, among others, calling for British Schools to instil British values in all British schools. Defining such values by some has not been too difficult. They include fair play, democracy, respect for the rule of law (unless it is seen as God’s law), tolerance (unless one happens to disagree with same-sex ‘marriage’) regard for the Queen, weather watching, cricket, soccer and fish and chips etc. But the essence of ‘British values’ is seen to be tolerance.
In the Catholic sphere toleration is to endure an evil for the greater good. In the masonic/secular humanist sphere toleration is understood as a catch all to prevent the imposition of dogma per se without regard to its veracity, and to prevent the assertion of objective truths while at the same time giving free reign to all manner of secular dogma or secular ‘truths’ which are held to be self-evident because liberals proclaim them to be so; the principal dogma being that there is no such thing as objective truth. Liberals (and we include the adherents of all the mainstream political parties within this definition) will decry Muslim attempts to teach their children the fundamentals of Islam, especially in the setting of a State school, because the purpose of a State school is not to impart religious belief but rather to teach dogmatically those 'undogmatic' British values. Now we are aware, no less than liberals, of the dangers of children being indoctrinated in Wahhabi Islamic principles which are extremely intolerant, especially of Christian or other ‘infidel’ beliefs. But, as Peter Hitchens points out elsewhere (click here to access his article) these things should have been thought about before mass Muslim immigration to an ostensibly Christian Britain was permitted. Any sensible Christian State would at least have given consideration to the long term effects of same.
But in the absence of any attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity (which would today be regarded as the worst example of Islamophobia) our society is now attempting to convert them to undefined liberal ‘British values’. No self-respecting devout Muslim, however, would feel comfortable in adopting the current liberal and permissive de facto values of British society, and one can well understand Muslim attempts to uphold their own moral principles. Perhaps their fault was to do so in the context of a State school rather than in their own educational establishments.
Nevertheless, this ‘Trojan Horse’ within secular state schools presented an opportunity for the usual suspects to attack faith schools in general. One imagines that truly Catholic schools which sought to instil the unreconstructed social and moral teaching of the Church in their pupils would be equally abhorrent in the eyes of the liberal establishment. On the BBC’s This Week, that avowed liberal ‘conservative’ Michael Portillo opined that that the problems in Northern Ireland would not be solved while ‘Faith schools’ remain. Perhaps in another 20 or thirty years a similarly ‘enlightened’ politician will place the blame for divisiveness in Britain on ‘faith schools’ too (if such still exist) rather than upon the mass immigration or planting of a foreign culture in a relatively homogenous state – which was the cause too of the ‘problems’ in Ireland.
Santa Claus (ewitz)
In this musing Charles Kerr considers clerical celibacy in the light of Clausewitz’s policy of concentration of force and concentration on the objective. (Click here to access)
Cohesion and Disintegration in the war for Iraq
I could not help but recall with a certain irony the British Government’s alarm at the number of young Muslims rallying to the call of Jihad in Syria, Iraq and other conflict areas in the Muslim world. No doubt MI5 have kept files on each and every one of them as they did of those Britons who departed in the 1930s to fight in the International Brigades in Spain – Indeed I have a copy of that list upon which my late father’s name appears. Irony, because I read this week that the British, at one stage, sought to train over 100,000 Syrian opponents of the Assad regime. No doubt all of these British trained “freedom-fighters” would have been “good” Muslims – of the type which embraces Western values of democracy, women’s rights etc. None of these I am sure would have been tempted to join ISIS or any of the other warring parties in the Syrian-Iraqi field of conflict or perhaps, as Muggeridge once suggested, we should tell that to the Marines.
In the attached article, Dr Brian Downing gives an appraisal of the forces now at play in Iraq and in the new Caliphate established in the ruins of Iraq and Syria. (Click here to access)
Vietnam – another perspective
In a recent article in the Spectator, Damian Thompson, highlighted the role of Buddhist monks in the persecution of Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka. As Thompson observes, liberals view this development with sorrow as they are ‘still piously attached to the notion that the true message of all religions is “peace”’. As a teenager, I remember those news reports of ‘peaceful’ Buddhist monks immolating themselves in protest during the Vietnam war. Even then Buddhists were viewed as the archetypes of peaceful religion and of apolitical protest, but then, as until now, it was convenient for them to be treated thus as their protests were harnessed to the liberal cause.
In the attached article, ‘Giving a Free hand to the Assassins’ (Click here to access the article). Dr Robert Hickson, examines again, in the light of Marguerite Higgin’s book ‘Our Vietnam Nightmare’, the events surrounding the assassination of the Catholic president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, in which a ‘politically active, subversive faction of anti-Diem Buddhist monks’ played no little part, aided and abetted by the Catholic president of the United States and his officials.
Perverse Public policy
'Within Curriculum for Excellence Sexual Health and Relationships education is conflated with Parenthood and the only section where discussion of sexual intercourse is required reads: “I am able to describe how human life begins and how a baby is born,” implying that the main function of sexual intercourse is procreative. Sexual intercourse does not usually occur in the context of procreation; it occurs in the context of enjoyment and mechanisms are often used to ensure that procreation does not occur. Young people are likely to be aware of this. Therefore sex and relationships education should taught in the context of enjoyment and should be decoupled from parenthood.’ (Taken from the response by the Highland Council and NHS Highland on 7th February 2013 to the Scottish Government’s inquiry into teenage pregnancy in Scotland.
‘It is a characteristic common to all the [sexual] perversions that in them reproduction as an aim is put aside. This is actually the criterion by which we judge whether a sexual activity is perverse: if it departs from reproduction in its aims and pursues the attainment of gratification independently.’ Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (London: Allen and Unwin 1952) p.266.
In this reflective essay Dr. Robert Hickson recalls the life and times of his friend Brent Bozell, the editor and founder of Triumph Magazine and some of the characters and events which shaped his life. Bozell was a great Catholic convert who for a part of his life sought in Spain the Catholicity he could not find in his native land. But as Dr. Hickson relates, in his account of an ill-conceived attempt to prepare new Carlist requetes for a possible post-Franco civil war, even stalwart Spanish Catholic Carlists had to admit that ‘we are even unable to pass the Faith onto our children’ – a calamitous effect of the post-conciliar era. Bozell’s battle against the forces of evil, whether communism, liberalism or contraception and abortion was uncompromising. Dr Hickson records here his profound appreciation of Bozell and his Catholic soul. (Click here to access this article).
Transubstantiation, Modernism and Ecumenism
In the shadow of the feast of Corpus Christi we have reproduced Chapter 5 from Fr John McKee’s work, The Enemy Within the Gate – The Catholic Church and Renascent Modernism. That chapter entitled ‘Transubstantiation’ (Click here to access) gives us an insight into the troubles which beset the Church in the immediate period around the Second Vatican Council. Fr McKee suggests that Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Mysterium Fidei which was published a few days before the opening of the last session of Vatican II had, because of that, an air of forestalling discussion. The type of discussion it sought to forestall can be found by reading Fr McKee’s account. The encyclical may have forestalled discussion at the Council but it did not forestall discussion elsewhere. This exposé from the Sixties and Seventies indicates clearly the doctrinal mayhem to which Catholics were subjected in that period, and the results of which continue until this day. The lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament, whether intentional or unintentional, arising from communion-in-the-hand, from displaced tabernacles, from cursory or non-existent acknowledgement of the Real Presence can be traced back to this time and the rampant Modernism which existed then and which led to the Catechetical malformation of a whole generation through the agency of the infamous Dutch Catechism.
Fr McKee indicates that ecumenism was the spur for this modernist approach. But even the most modernist Catholic would surely find it difficult to find common cause with the Eucharistic theology of the Anglican Vicar, the Reverend Adrian Fisher who died in April of this year. The Rev. Fisher whose claim to fame, at least according to his obituary in The Times (6th June, 2014), was the role he played in the affair of Fethard-on-Sea in Eire which featured in the film, A Love Divided. The film was about Catholic reaction to a Protestant mother who reneged on her promise to send the children of her mixed-marriage to a Catholic school. But it is not that affair we wish to record but rather his understanding of communion. His obituary records:
After leaving Fethard in 1962 he rejoined the army as a chaplain and later worked as a priest in Oxfordshire. In his leisure time he undertook biblical research in his summerhouse, with Rosie, his beloved Labrador, at his feet. The high court judge, Sir Christopher French, a one-time parishioner of Fisher’s, once brought his jack Russell with him to a communion service. Unphased on seeing a dog with paws on the altar rail, Fisher popped a communion wafer into its mouth, and touched its head, saying as he did so “bless thee, my dog”.
John Knox had rodents in mind more than dogs as recipients in his mockery of transubstantiation, describing the consecrated Host as ‘prey to rats and mice; for they will desire no better dinner than white round gods anew’ and, adds ‘it is but a feeble and miserable god’ that can be destroyed ‘by a bold and powerful mouse.’ (David Laing, The Works of John Knox, Vol 6, p.172-173) But would even Knox have treated a Presbyterian communion bread as did Fisher the Anglican ‘communion wafer’?
Harts Catholic Doctrine
Herewith Chapter XII – Second Article of the Creed - ( 'And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord') (Click here to access). All previous chapters may be found here: http://www.apropos.org.uk/catechetics.htm
The Charismatic Movement
Recently, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury visited Rome accompanied by the Rev. Nicky Gumbel described by the Catholic Herald as 'vicar of the world-famous Anglican charismatic Church Holy Trinity Brompton. The Editor of the Catholic Herald (20th June 2014) then waxes lyrical about the visit:
'It was an inspired idea of Archbishop Justin Welby to take his old friend on his latest visit to Rome. It is under Mr Gumbel's stewardship that 15 million people, including many Catholics, have undertaken the Alpha Course, HTB's carefully structured introduction to Christianity. Not only that, but Mr Gumble has forged alliances with Catholic evangelists on every continent. There is more than one way to make ecumenism work. Instead of holding sadly but inevitably fruitless discussions about the ordination of women, HTB and its Catholic partners roll up their sleeves and spread the news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Their work had captured the imagination of Pope Francis, himself a roller-up of sleeves...'
the editor of the Catholic Herald has not read or has chosen to ignore the warnings expressed by Gillian van der Lande in her study Alpha - Seeing Alpha in a Catholic Light which demonstrates clearly the Protestant ethos of the Alpha course.
However, the Pope himself has expressed support for the Catholic Charismatic movement in a recent address to participants in the 37th National Convocation of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit on 1st June 2014, and went so far as to state: 'You, the charismatic renewal, have received a great gift from the Lord. Your movement’s birth was willed by the Holy Spirit to be “a current of grace in the Church and for the Church”. This is your identity: to be a current of grace.
In the light of these recent indications of support for Charismatic renewal we have provided a copy of a study on the Catholic Charismatic movement by Fr Scott Gardiner which first appeared in The Angelus Magazine in 1998. (click here to access)
St Peter Celestine – 19th May 2014
St Joan of Arc
The 16th May was the anniversary of the Canonisation of St Joan of Arc. This remarkable young lady had to await 500 years to be canonised, a fate not suffered by some late candidates for canonisation. There are two quotations from St Joan which ought to be the watchwords of our beleaguered faith: the first is that ‘God must be served first’, the second is that ‘the men at arms will fight and God will grant victory’. That God must be served first derives, of course, from the First Commandment – ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind and with thy whole strength’ (Mark 12:30). In accordance with the doctrine of the Kingship of Christ this applies not only to individuals but to every element of society including the state.
Modern society considers such a requirement as redundant, indeed obnoxious, requiring as it does that society, states and politicians be subservient to another - to Christ the King. In their application of practical atheism even nominally Christian states, as it is suggested the UK is by its current Prime Minister, act as if God does not exist, especially so in their flouting the moral and natural law in their legislative enactment of murderous or morally repugnant laws.
Scots are expected to vote later this year on the question of Scottish independence from the UK; an independence which paradoxically is predicated upon membership of the European Union, an organisation which is hardly known for its application of the principle of subsidiarity.The question of whether Scotland should once again be an independent nation is not a matter of dogma. It is a matter of practical politics – whether the common good of folks living in Scotland will be better served by an independent nation or through the unity of the United Kingdom.
But for Catholics there is also another consideration whether their nation - which has not always been benign in its treatment of Catholics and where, even now, according to some, an anti-Catholic bias still persists, particularly in the West of Scotland – will abandon all Christian principles and substitute secular humanist persecution for that which once arose from another direction.
Compton Mackenzie, in his work Catholicism and Scotland, published by George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., in 1936, when bigotry still persisted, made the following observations concerning Scottish independence. Whereas then his focus was concerning religious bigotry, one wonders, were he alive today, if he might have asked if national independence can be achieved at too dear a price if such independence is to mean a rejection of the moral and natural law? Here are the concluding thoughts of Mackenzie on pages 187-188 of his work:
‘Even national independence can be achieved at too dear a price if such independence is to mean a recession along the dim and tortuous paths of religious bigotry. Remove from the pages of Scottish History those written with the blood of Scottish Catholics, and how pale that history will be! Obliterate from the annals of patriotism the names of Malcolm Canmore, of Alexander III, of Wallace, of Bruce, of Andrew of Moray, of Bishop Wishart and Bishop Lamberton, of Cardinal Beaton, of Mary Queen of Scots, of Prince Charles Edward Stewart, and would not these annals seem a little thin afterwards? Yet, rather than help in any way by word, or action the re-creation of a sovereign Scotland in which the old religious hatred were re-created with it, the Scottish Catholic would prefer to admit that his glorious patriotic past is irrevocable in the present. The blame would rest in the country which rejected him, on the country which esteemed higher the preservation of her little Established Kirk at the cost of injustice to her 600,000 Catholics, all of whom would be the most loyal Scots in a Scotland that was herself again. For remotely for his peace of mind, the Scottish Catholic knows that he can do his country no richer service than to devote all his energy, all his emotion, all his eloquence to upholding and spreading what he believes to be the only Truth that can guide man safely towards his immortal destiny. The Real Presence of God upon her altars will be more precious to Scotland than the real presence of a Parliament in Edinburgh. The Scottish Catholic can afford to forget Bannockburn, will repine no more at Flodden or Pinkie Cleugh, and may count even Culloden well lost, if he remind himself that no country’s independence is worth winning unless it be won for the dedication of it to the greater glory of God.’ (Our emphasis on the last sentence – Ed. Apropos).
To which we might add, Amen.
Compton Mackenzie’s latter observation is perfectly in tune with that of St Joan of Arc who placed France’s independence in the hands of God. We understand from one source that Scots may have accounted for around a quarter of St Joan’s army and that she was escorted by Scots and a Scottish piper on her entry to Orleans. But as both St Joan of Arc and Compton Mackenzie have taught us: no country’s independence is worth winning unless it be won for the dedication of it to the greater glory of God. That at least might give us real food for thought amongst the political froth which has thus far marked the independence debate.
We have posted below three articles concerning St Joan authored respectively by Pierre Virion, Robert Hickson and Solange Hertz. That by Paul Virion considers St Joan’s role in a Europe that was covetous with ambition – an ambition which required the destruction of the French nation and ultimately other Christian nations. An ambition challenged with no little effect by the Maid of Orleans. Robert Hickson in his short article reflects upon the works of Bernanos and Belloc regarding St Joan and her ultimate sacrifice for God and country. Solange Hertz in her work considers St Joan in relation to man’s constant seeking after Utopia and her supernaturally aided challenge to the utopianism of her age.
Joan of Arc in the Framework of History by Pierre Virion (first published in English in Approaches No 14 and then again in Apropos No.19/20). (Click here to access).
Two Chivalrous Defenders of Joan of Arc – George Bernanos and Hilaire Belloc by Robert Hickson, 2014. (Click here to access).
Joan of Arc Confronts Utopia by Solange Hertz, published in Apropos No. 12, 1992. (Click here to access).
Here are some more musings from Charles Kerr, a columnist who contributed to the print version of Apropos before its demise.
An OK Corollary – in this reflection, Charles comments on immigration policy with reference to Native Americans. One prays that the tribes to which he refers are a least self-sustaining unlike some of the European nations whose native populations are dwindling and who have lost their loyalty to their nation’s past and to the faith which shaped them. (Click here to access).
Invocation – in this article Charles discusses the role of the Epiclesis in the Roman Rite and in the Western Rite Orthodox liturgies. (Click here to access).
Sacerdotal - Some inspiring anecdotes about three Scottish clerics. (Click here to access).
Scriptural Inequality – or a matter of definition? (Click here to access)
We have attached this article concerning reaction to Cardinal Kasper’s voiced opinion on the status of the re-married and divorced. It appeared in the SSPX E-pistola updates on 16-05-14. (Click here to access).
Piers Paul Read
We note that Piers Paul Reid has also lent a cautionary tone to the revolutions in the Ukraine and has also bravely made observations concerning anti-Semitism in Ukraine and Lithuania. In The Catholic Herald of May 2nd 2014, he remarked:
‘In Vilnius in 1989, I heard writers express anti-Semitic sentiments in a most casual way. This was particularly disturbing because Lithuania’s considerable pre-war Jewish community – in Kaunus, Jews made up around 30 per cent of the population – was liquidated during the Holocaust.
What was the source of this anti-Semitism? Sir Thomas Hetherington, in his 1989 report on the prosecution of war criminals in Britain, pointed out that a large number of those who deported Catholic Lithuanians to the gulags in Siberia were Jews. It was the same in the Ukraine. “About a third of high-ranking NKVD officers were Jewish by nationality,” wrote Timothy Snyder in Bloodlands, and Stalin’s policy of forced agricultural collectivism which led to famine – the Holomodor – was implemented by the commissar Genrikh Yagoda, who was also Jewish. Many consider Yagoda responsible for the death of between 7 and 10 million Ukrainians.
The memory of the Holodomor does not excuse but may partly explain the anti-Semitism found in some of the Maidan protestors now in power in Kiev. It may also help explain the loathing felt for Putin whom many see as an heir to Stalin. Putin, I suspect, sees himself as the heir to the Tsars – not just the father of all Russians but the protector of Christians in Syria and Christian morality in Russia’
Read questions whether in supporting our co-religionists in the Ukraine ‘we may be drawn into…nationalistic rivalries and perpetrate an injustice in supporting our co-religionists “right or wrong”. He also asks whether there was perhaps ‘some justification in the complaints made by Putin in the speech he made in Moscow on April 19. Did the US and the EU help engineer the fall of the democratically elected president Victor Yanukovych? How would we have felt if the foreign ministers of Russia and China had come to London to give their support to the anti-Thatcher poll-tax rioters in 1990?’
We refer our readers to this article concerning Ukraine on Peter Hitchen’s blog. While we do not necessarily agree with all he says we consider it necessary that views such as his be considered to give balance to a debate in which only one side is generally portrayed in the media: (click here to access).
Harts Catholic Doctrine
Herewith Chapter XI – First Article of the Creed (continued) – Creator of Heaven and Earth: Man (Click here to access). All previous chapters may be found here: http://www.apropos.org.uk/catechetics.htm
The Scottish Government’s guidance on sex-education following same-sex “marriage” legislation afforded paltry protection, if any, to teachers, pupils and parents who wished to opt-out of sex-education on the grounds that it offends their conciences. Some local authorities and health boards have made representations to the Scottish Government to remove even the paltry protection afforded – another manifestation of the totalitarian intolerance of the liberal establishment. We would ask our readers to act upon the request of Scotland for Marriage which may be accessed by clicking here.
The Coalition for Marriage has published a summary of a poll commissioned by them concerning the forthcoming Euro elections. The poll indicates that David Cameron’s support for same-sex “marriage” has undoubtedly damaged his party’s electoral hopes. Details of the poll made by found by clicking here.
God’s Frozen People
In a previous blog we referred to the type of society which would probably result in Scotland were the SNP or other social democratic parties (i.e. all the existing parties) to come to power. We suggested that the Swedish model might well be appropriate. In his 1972 work, The New Totalitarians, Roland Huntford painted the picture of what such a society might mean for us. In many ways UK society is already well on the path to the Swedish “dream”. The most recent example of this lies in the so-called childcare policies pursued by most parties; policies which are designed to destroy what little is left of the traditional family and gender distinction. Huntford remarked, that in Social Democratic Sweden:
‘At an early age, conventional ideas of male and female roles were broken down. Boys were taught to sew, and girls to wield hammer and chisel. Equality was taken to its logical conclusion. It was pointed out that there is no reason why a father cannot stay at home to look after the family while the mother goes out to work. At all events, children are persuaded that both can and must work. This was to eradicate the traditional attitude of women that their business was to catch a breadwinner and avoid gainful employment. It was also to destroy the customary belief that a woman’s place is looking after her family and substitute the idea that her proper duty is by the man’s side, in office and factory.’
Progress towards these aims in the UK are now so well advanced that even talk of suggesting that a family might consist of a man and a woman is now passé.
Huntford also noted:
‘It is probably correct to say that Sweden has been de-Christianised more efficiently than any other country, Russia not excepted. Among non-communist countries, Sweden is unique in deliberately encouraging the process. It has been accomplished by a form of instruction, labelled ‘religious’ but which is in fact anti-religious. The course, which starts in the upper forms of the secondary school, sets out to review the different forms of religion in the world, and places Christianity on a level with all other faiths, and with no faith at all. Religion in this course, is presented as an escape from reality.’ Does that not sound familiar?
In pursuit of Swedish women
The SNP, as part of their strategy of winning a “Yes” vote in the referendum, have promised almost universal childcare. As The Scotsman reported: The SNP target ‘is to give all children aged one and over free childcare that is equivalent to time spent at primary school.’ The reason for such munificence at the taxpayer’s expense is not to promote the care of children but rather to remove young children from their mothers so that the latter can enter the workforce just like their Swedish counterparts. According to The Scotsman, 28-11-13, the SNP have indicated from OECD figures that there are fewer Scottish women in the workforce (71.9%) than there are in Sweden (77.7%). According to Alex Salmond, matching Sweden’s female participation rate would add an extra £700m in tax revenue.
Crazed anti-family Bolshevism
Such “childcare” policies which are mirrored in elsewhere in the UK are misnamed as Peter Hitchens has correctly pointed out: ‘Once all its elements have been properly described, it is clearly an incitement to disaffection, a bribe of our own money, offered to us in return for following the repellent and greedy opinion that wage slavery is more important than nurture of the next generation, that motherhood is a contemptible waste of a woman’s talents - all the crazed anti-family Bolshevism that poured from the pens and mouths of the wildest leftist revolutionaries in the 1960s, and is – 50 years later – the settled policy of the Conservative and Unionist Party. [And most other parties besides.]
We refer our readers to this recent article of Hitchen’s concerning further measures proposed to destroy traditional family life in Britain. (Click here to access the article).
Learning from Secular Sweden
Concerning the Swedish example we have also recommend this piece which appeared in RC Politics – Parliament in View, Vol. 15, Issue 3, dated 4-04-14 , published as an e-bulletin by the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office and edited by John Deighan: (click here to access this article). It relates to the current state of affairs in Sweden.
We also refer our readers to this article from the same source concerning the current deliberate cultural confusion concerning gender – all part of the continued progress of the Frankfurt School Cultural Revolution. (Click here to access this short article).
St Patrick’s Person and Presence
In this short essay (6 pp) Professor Robert Hickson considers Belloc’s view of St Patrick and considers that great Saint’s influence on Ireland, an influence which prevailed despite prolonged persecution. In the light of recent events in Ireland where there is no little evidence that the snakes have returned, can St Patrick’s presence be felt once again and inspire and haunt the true Irish – those faithful to his legacy – to drive the snakes out once more and resurrect Ireland once again? (Click here to access this article).
Peter Hitchens in his blog on Sunday Mail online has presented a view which is not far from our own concerning the recent developments in Ukraine. (Please click here to access the article).
Harts Catholic Doctrine
Herewith Chapter IX (Click here) and Chapter X (Click here)
24th March 2014 AD
Reform of the Reform and all that
The Catholic Herald this weekend features an article by Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB in which he voices his angst concerning the failure of the Reform of the Reform to proceed. The Reform of the Reform is, of course, the drive to reform the new liturgy by an accommodation with the traditional Mass so as to bring to the former the gravitas it clearly lacks. Fr Somerville-Knapman is angst-ridden because he has learned from Fr Kocik, one of the leading lights of the Reform of the Reform that ‘The Reform of the Reform is not realisable because the material discontinuity between the two forms of the Roman Rite presently in use is much broader and much deeper than I had first imagined.’ Fr Kocik has obviously learned this from the school of hard knocks and could have saved himself much work had he read, Madiran’s, Mgr. Gamber’s, Mgr. Lefebvre’s Salleron’s or Davies’ works on the Novus Ordo. We do not agree with all that Fr Somerville-Knapman says, particularly regarding a solution to this problem, but then we are not sure he does either. His telling question marks in places strongly suggest approval rather than disapproval of elements of the traditional Mass. But we have reproduced his piece precisely because it airs the sorts of observations about the new liturgy that are common in traditional commentaries. His views, however, lend more support to the need for a widespread return of the traditional Mass so as to reintroduce a sense of the sacred into our parishes – something that will not occur in the average parish in Scotland unless it has the support of the Bishops – which has not been forthcoming thus far. Fr Somerville-Knapman's blogpiece may be found by clicking here.
20th March 2014 AD
In this article we consider recent events in the Ukraine and suggest that Russian imperial aspirations alone were not responsible for the hollow results that have come from this latest “orange” revolution. The US and the EU also have imperial interests in the Ukraine and the pushing of these may have provoked or facilitated a Russian response. Can Russia truly become a ‘light from the East? The article may be found by clicking here.
The Contrasting Depictions and Diplomatic Acts of Popes Pius XI and Pius XII
This article by Professor Robert Hickson considers the seemingly inexplicable and unintelligible acts of these two different pre-conciliar Popes, both in relation to their failure to specifically consecrate Russia to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and in relation to their own collaboration in disastrous but different policies of Ostpolitik which facilitated the advance of neo-Modernism in the West and that of Soviet Communism in the East. The article may be found by clicking here.
Controlling our Internal and External Borders
The newly elected Rector of Glasgow University, Edward Snowden, has been both vilified and praised for his revelations concerning surveillance by domestic and allied intelligence agencies on US and UK citizens and on other foreign nationals including allied Heads of State such as Angela Merkel. His actions whether we approve or disapprove of them have certainly highlighted the problem of surveillance in our societies which have been subjected to severe but occasional acts of terror. In reports I have seen of Snowden’s accounts no mention is made of another nation’s surveillance activities within the West. In this article, which first appeared in a truncated form in Culture Wars, Professor Robert Hickson, who himself served in the US Intelligence community, considers the implications of the infamous Anti-Defamation League surveillance scandal in which members of that organisation, ostensibly in existence to combat anti-Semitism, spied on US citizens and provided information to Israeli intelligence – an activity for which they remained unpunished. The article may be found by clicking here.
The Next Inn Catholics meeting - Lynette Burrows on 'The Anarchy of Government'.
Venue: The Greencoat Boys Pub, 2 Greencoat Place, London SW1P 1PJ.
Time: Wednesday the 2nd of April at 19.30.
Lynette used to be a features writer for the Telegraph but, eventually, got tired of it and now writes only when asked about something specific. Two of her books (the first one, 'Good Children', is being published for the fourth time later this year) defend the right of parents to smack their children on the grounds that it is far less bullying than nagging - because children understand it!
17th February 2014 AD
Public Rosary Novena
To Scotland’s great shame, the devolved Scottish Parliament, voted for the legalization of same-sex ‘marriage’ on the 4th February 2014. The new Scottish legislature, which prides itself on proportional representation, indicated by this vote that its decision did not reflect the proportion of the Scottish electorate opposed to this measure. An 83% vote in favour far exceeded even the most optimistic poll ratings allegedly in favour. In addition, while the proponents of the Bill had the vast resources of the State, a politically-correct education system and the liberal media in their favour, the opponents had to finance their case through donations from an economically-depressed nation.
The Parliament consistently refused to consider amendments, to the law, which would protect those opposed to same-sex ‘marriage’.The Scottish parliament and Government has shown itself to be no friend of the traditional family nor of the moral law, we therefore ask all our readers to join in the Public Rosary Novena which began at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh on 18th January 2014, and which will continue on the 18th of each month until the 18th September 2014, the date of the referendum.
Those who can participate at Edinburgh are asked to meet at the main entrance at 11.00am to pray 15 decades of the Rosary, followed by the Angelus at 12 noon.If you cannot attend, please offer 15 decades of the Rosary and the Angelus on those days either in your parish, family or on your own so as to appease God’s anger and to beseech His mercy.
‘Public prayer is far more powerful than private prayer to appease the anger of God and call down his mercy. Holy Mother Church has always advocated public prayer.’ St Louis Marie de Montfort in The Secret of the Rosary.
I am sure that heaven will not ignore the prayers of those who pray catch-up for the 18th of January.
Our Lady of Aberdeen, pray for us.
St Andrew, pray for us.
Who said the Satanic is dead?
Recent demonstrations by the feminist group Femen have involved blasphemous attacks upon Churches and churchmen. In this article (click here) we examine the ideology of this group which unashamedly declares itself socialist and atheistic. But is there a satanic element to its ideology too?
In a previous article in this blog we suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that the use of the Apostles’ Creed at Novus Ordo Masses instead of the Nicene Creed perhaps indicated that some priests were uncomfortable with the new liturgical translation and postures which required them, inter alia, to bow at the ‘ et homo factus est’ and to use the word ‘consubstantial’.
We have since had confirmation that we were not too far off the mark. Fr Michael Butler, chairman of the liturgical commission of the Diocese of Brentwood, in a recent letter to The Tablet, wrote: Most priests have got on with it [the new translation] but grumbled about it … Not only grumbled but also changed or avoided some words and phrases that they found somewhat difficult to say with meaning. Some avoid words like “dewfall”, “oblation”, “consubstantial”, “many” (and prefer “all”), some refuse point blank to use the Roman Canon ever again.’
His bishop has criticized his views and stated that they do not represent the views of the diocese. Nevertheless, such views as have been expressed simply confirm that the spirit and letter of the permanent liturgical revolution begun by Annibale Bugnini have not been thwarted. This latest outburst, whatever one might think about the Novus Ordo per se, merely demonstrates an attitude in the clergy that the liturgy is theirs (to be adapted to their wishes and desires á la révolution liturgique with their ever-changing ad-libbing) rather than something belonging to the Church to which they must conform. But apart from “dewfall” which is foreign to the traditional Mass, all the words to which they take exception are true and theologically correct translations of the original Latin. The refusal to use the Roman Canon displays perhaps an antipathy not so much to the translation as to the very Canon itself which, although redacted in the Novus Ordo, is a clearer expression of pre-conciliar Eucharistic belief, than the new Canons. One has to ask how any Catholic priest cannot understand the Roman Canon and remain a priest?
One is also faced with that “many” versus “all” argument which is repeated ad nauseam although it was effectively answered in the Catechism of the Council of Trent thus:
‘Looking to the efficacy of the passion, we believe that the Redeemer shed His blood for the salvation of all men; but looking to the advantages, which mankind derive from its efficacy, we find at once, that they are not extended to the whole, but to a large proportion of the human race. When therefore, Our Lord said: “for you” He meant either those who were present, or those whom He had chosen from amongst the Jews, amongst whom were, with the exception of Judas, all his disciples with whom He then conversed; but when He adds “for many,” He would include the remainder of the elect from amongst the Jews and the Gentiles. With great propriety therefore, were the words “for all” omitted, because here the fruit of the passion is alone spoken of, and to the elect only did His passion bring the fruit of salvation. This the words of the Apostle declare, when he says, that Christ was offered once, to take away the sins of many; and the same truth is conveyed in the words of Our Lord recorded by St John; “I pray for them, I pray not for the world; but for them whom Thou hast given Me, because they are Thine.”’
Of course, for those who believe in universal salvation the above is anathema.
What has happened in Brentwood should not surprise us. Missus Romanus in ‘The Permanent Liturgical Revolution’ , Approaches 44-45, July 1975, advised us:
And since it is clear, insofar as the liturgy is concerned, that it is the Novus Ordo Missae that has opened the way to these divisions by destroying the ‘impassable barrier’ to heresy constituted by the millennial rite of the Roman Church canonised by the Council of Trent and St Pius V, and in so doing has opened the infernal cycle of today’s endless change, it is quite obvious that we shall not correct the evil and call a halt to the flood of sacrilege and offences to the Most Holy Eucharist merely by returning to a strict observance of the very doubtful rubrics of 1969. The Church must return to the Roman Rite as it existed before the new evolution began, for it is only by using this as our starting point that Tradition can bear the fruits of grace and that the Church can make and give to its children the liturgy they need to worship God and to offer, in the sacrament, the Sacrifice of Reparation that the world needs more than ever today.’ To which we say, Amen.
Eugenio Corti 1921-2014
This great Catholic Italian writer, died on the 4th February, 2014 at the age of 93. He was born on the 21st of January 1921. He enlisted Eugenio Corti RIP 1921-2014 the Italian army at the beginning of the war and became a lieutenant volunteering for service in the Eastern Front, in order to fight against Bolshevism beside the Germans (then allied to the Italians). He then fought with the Allies after the fall of Mussolini. After the war he continued his fight against Communism through cultural action. His greatest work The Red Horse has been translated into several languages. His harrowing tale of the Italian retreat from the Eastern Front, Few Returned – Twenty Eight Days on the Russian Front, Winter 1942-43, has also appeared in English. May he rest in peace. An article by Robert Hickson, featuring both the above works of Corti, ‘What then is it to be a priest?’ appeared in Apropos No 28. It may be accessed by clicking here.
Harts Catholic Doctrine Herewith Chapter VIII – Proofs for the Existence of God Other chapters may be found under the Catechetics button on the Menu.
Fr Robert Bradley SJ RIP
In this article (click here), Dr Robert Hickson, recalls his memories of Father Robert Bradley S. J. who died recently. As well as reflecting upon Fr Bradley’s Catholic attributes it discusses the experiences of Fr Bradley and other like-minded Jesuits in coming to terms with the woeful state of the Jesuit order. It also reveals that it is not only creatures from Hell who hiss at the mention of the name of the Blessed Virgin, our Mother in Heaven.
The Yuck Factor
In this article, Br Andre Marie considers the sound Catholic approach to homosexuality and takes issue with those who are fundamentally correct in opposing the vice, but inadequately rooted in their principles and therefore unreliable in their actions. (click here to access the article).
The Belloc Society annual Sussex talk and folk session
The Belloc Society are holding their annual Sussex lunch, walk and talk at the The George and Dragon Inn , in Amberley on Ist March 2014. To find further details click here.
Feast of the Purification of the BVM 2nd February 2014
The Feast of the Purification
Today’s feast day is listed in the post-conciliar calendar as the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. As one born on that day in the pre-conciliar era I prefer to keep to the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Candlemas, even though it also undoubtedly features the Presentation of Our Lord.
I attach a link to an article which appeared in the SSPX website for the District of the USA regarding this feast and which allows us to reflect on it. In the antiphon of today’s Mass we are told that ‘the old man held the Child in his arms, but the Child governed the old man’. Might that be a rule for us all.
Independence Referendum – Scotland
The referendum on Scottish independence looms later this year. Thus far, and we expect till the end, the principal arguments seem to be less about independence per se and the principle of subsidiarity (without which independence is a nonsense, and which can be applied equally well in a State such as the UK), but rather about the same socio-economic arguments that belabour parliamentary elections. Indeed the SNP (Scottish National Party), a left-wing, social- democrat party seems to be aiming its pitch at the goodies the Scots will enjoy, if independent, that they will not if they remain within the UK.
Whether Scotland will be a more moral nation is a not up for debate – unless it is the morality of secular socialism. Thus the nation will remove Trident (which thus far has killed no one) but retain abortion law which has killed thousands. All the existing Scottish parties subscribe to “progressive” policies such as same-sex 'marriage' and one cannot see a Scottish parliament resisting for very long other “progressive” policies in the field of family law and public morality. Indeed there is every indication that Scotland, even without independence, might develop into a Nordic Social Democratic State of the Swedish model.
True, hearts may have skipped a beat when the SNP in their latest party political broadcast, displayed an unborn child, “Kirsty”, in utero, who asks, if, in a post-referendum Scotland, it will be ‘a Scotland where I can reach my full potential’.
Now the supreme optimists among us might have taken such interest in the unborn as some sort of sign that all unborn children in Scotland will be allowed to reach their full potential, rather than only those who happen to be “wanted” to use the parlance of the family-planning and abortion industry. Alas such optimism is misplaced because there is no indication that any of the political parties in Scotland would be willing to remove legalised abortion from the statute book.
It can be argued of course that the situation in the UK is no different – that is true, but then what true benefits will come to Scotland from independence if we end up but little more than a clone of the UK? If Catholic Ireland has been unable to resist the pull in that direction, what hope is there for an increasingly secular Scotland? About which, more later.
Papal Phone Calls
We refer those of our readers who have not yet read of the Gnocchi and Palmari affair to this translation of their article, ‘We don’t like this Pope’, which sparked a phone call from the Holy Father.
Harts Students' Catholic Doctrine
Herewith Chapter VII - The Unity and Trinity of God Other chapters may be found under the Catechetics button on the Menu.
Christmas Eve 2013
We wish all former Apropos subscribers, readers and benefactors (spiritual and material) a happy and Holy Christmas and every best wish for the coming year.
We reproduce below a verse or two from Scott MacCallum’s (RIP), Good Bye Beloved World, which evokes the nostalgia of a time gone by and the essential innocence and awe of children; a child-like trust and appreciation of the Christmas message which we must all retain. Let us pray this Christmas for all those who through whatever fault, whether their own, or that of parents or pastors, have lost that faith in the Christmas message, and pray that they may respond to the graces available to them so that they may adore once more the Christ-Child as their God and Saviour.
By contrast, and with no thought, believe me,
Of holier than thou,
I remember going to Midnight Mass last Christmas
In a remote hamlet up in the Swiss mountains.
There still had not been time
For the progressive message to seep through,
And it was all there,
The bells, the Crib, the candles, the expectant
And the Missa de Angelis;
We sang it all together.
It was (almost) like that Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Upon the doomed Titanic.
Never mind, we sang it;
And walked home through the falling snow,
Holding our little daughter by the hand,
From her first Midnight Mass.
Maybe that does not say anything to you.
It would, could you have seen her shining eyes,
Fascinated by the beauty,
Transformed by being identified
With the most wondrous tale in all the universe,
In such surroundings.
And were not children sent to us for things like these?
And what's our fun beside them?
A debt to Poland
On another note, many Catholics are aware of the debt that the Christian West owes to Poland. When the Turks were at the gates of Vienna in the 17th Century, it was the Polish King, Jan Sobieski, who defeated the Turks and saved Christendom from Islam.
Not so many folks are aware of the events of 1920 when Polish forces routed the Bolshevik Army at the Battle of Warsaw, an event which saved war-weary Europe from a Communist invasion – an invasion which was to succeed alas in Eastern Europe during and at the end of the Second World War which subjected the Poles to Communist tyranny.
In the first of the two essays which follow, ‘The Hope and the Help of the Half Defeated’, Dr Robert Hickson considers Chesterton’s visit to Poland in the late 1920s and Chesterton’s appreciation of the essentially Catholic Polish character and culture, and including a short description of the Battle of Warsaw 1920 and its importance at that time.In the second essay, ‘The Fruits of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw and the 1944 Normandy Invasion’, Dr Hickson reflects on, among other things, the ill-effects of the Allies policy of unconditional surrender which he avers prolonged the Second World War and played into the hands of Stalin and secured his post war aims.
Meditation for Christmas
(The undernoted text comes from the chapter, ‘The Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem’ from In the Likeness of Christ by the Rev Edward Leen, Published by Sheed and Ward, London 1936, pp. 46-51. Our sub-headings)
The Cave and the City
The cave of Bethlehem is an exact presentation of the paradox of Christianity. It is austere and forbidding. Even in the daylight and under the bright sun the cavern would look miserable and uninviting. In the darkness it was positively repellent. The glimmer shed by Joseph’s lantern was not strong enough to shed a cheerful light; it served but to reveal and to bring out into relief every harsh and rude feature. The sides dripped with moisture and showed bare and jagged. Through openings in them, here and there, the wind moaned dismally. The strong draughts increased the natural chilliness of the place. The floor was uneven and covered with straw that had been trampled to filth by the animals. What was in the rude manger, though clean, was coarse and prickly; it scarcely tempered the hardness of the few planks for the Infant limbs. The dripping of the water and the sounds of the animals as they stirred in their rest, falling on the ear, intensified the general feeling of comfortlessness. And all these things, the cold, the darkness, the roughness of the straw, the unpleasant odour, concentrated their arrows of suffering on the tender Body of the Baby that had just been born in this inhospitable place. Sensitive in the extreme, the Child-God quivered with pain, and broke into infant wails. He willed to be as an ordinary Child. He was not yet at the age when, as our Model, He would control His feelings and support His sufferings without flinching. And all who wished to be with Jesus—to come close to Him—were drawn into these miserable surroundings, first Mary and Joseph and then the shepherds. They all had, in order to get near Him, to suffer the same cold, the same misery, the same abandonment—to share in everything which provided a marked contrast to the scenes that were taking place in the village above. From it floated down the pleasant sounds of revelry and feasting. Every house was brilliantly illuminated and the lights shone on faces that were bright with laughter and excitement. The rooms glittered with vessels in which were set out delicate things to eat and drink. The cheerful music set the young people dancing, whilst the old exchanged confidences with their friends who had come from a distance. An agreeable warmth pervaded every house. Each one vied with the other in the effort to gratify every sense and to dispel in a whirlwind of gaiety and pleasure the tedium of life. How they would have shuddered at the dreariness and discomforts of the cavern in the chalk cliff! The cave and the city! What a remarkable contrast! In the city seems to be all the "joie de vivre"; on the hillside nothing but misery and discomfort. Yet which of the two groups of personages enjoyed the greater happiness? Need we ask? The revellers find dissipation but not happiness, and in the very act of enjoyment are filled with a sense of dissatisfaction.
The secret of the strength of the Martyrs
Who is there who has not experienced the hollowness and emptiness of even the most intoxicating joys of earth? How many repeat after Solomon, after having gratified every sense, "Vanity of Vanities and all is vanity," save to serve God and Him alone (1). On the other hand, what intense happiness is to be found at the side of the manger! The very absence of everything calculated to please the senses leaves the soul free to enjoy itself more largely. In Bethlehem little concession is made to the body,"for it is the setting for the soul". It is not of that which benefits the body, but of that which benefits the soul that all men stand in need. This is the lesson preached eloquently by the silent Babe. The two who were there understood the lesson well, above all did His Mother. She bent over the manger, and as she enveloped the Child, her Child and her God, in her arms, torrents of happiness surged through her heart. The glow within her radiated from her eyes and her face shone with a light which bathed the Infant and in which His glance found a resting place. The hours sped for her. Utterly absorbed, she loved and adored Jesus with a vehemence which neither the Cherubim nor Seraphim could match. Her love was an adoration and her adoration was a mother's love. She was rapt in a tumult of emotions which were a commingling of homage, praise, love, tenderness, joy and exultation. Her gladness would have ravished her soul from her body were she not so spiritually strong. Joseph's pain and anxiety disappeared in a torrent of joy that overflowed his calm and deep soul as he knelt in worship before his foster Child and his God. The shepherds, too, far removed as they were from the holiness of Mary and Joseph, entered a happiness, one moment of which infinitely outweighed in satisfaction years of such pleasure as their more favoured brethren (as the world would think) tasted in the city above. And yet all these were in contact with these physical discomforts from which Jesus was in the same instant suffering so bitterly. Were they insensible to those things to which He was so keenly alive? In a sense they were, for all these material things seemed to have turned their cruel points the Infant Saviour, whilst from Him was diffused a joy and happiness which flooded the souls of His worshippers with delight. He seems to have taken all the sting out of poverty and pain, by suffering them Himself. His faithful disciples—real Christians—often feel nothing of them owing to the intense happiness they derive from their union with Jesus. The pleasures of this intimacy render them almost insensible, certainly indifferent, to pain. This is the secret of the saints' contentment in the midst of trials and persecutions. This is the secret of the strength of the martyrs in the midst of their intolerable torments.
The earth can give us nothing
To us, too, it may be given to feel, in a little measure, something of all this. But if we are to share the experience of Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Kings, we must learn to rise superior to our sensuality, and to scorn a life of self-indulgence. The cave is not tender to the body: it is rude to the sensibility: it is hostile to the love of ease and comfort. It seems hard and repugnant to deprive ourselves of the warmth and light of life, of everything that seems to make life enjoyable–ease and comfort, leisure, society—in a word, all things that worldly people esteem, and that are comprehended under the heading of riches, pleasure and power. The Christian life on the other hand has a cold and harsh and forbidding appearance. Yet, if we once deliberately make our choice, we shall find that all this austerity is in the exterior and that the whole-hearted practice of Christianity and the full acceptance of its conditions give a happiness and contentment that fill the soul. Was there ever a man who had completely surrendered his will to the will of God who could not confess that I he was supremely happy? Was there ever a worldling who could say with truth that the pleasures of sense ever left him otherwise than with a dissatisfied craving which they were unable to satisfy? It is only those that lead an interior life that ever in this world taste real happiness. Out of one hour of their life they get more value than superficial Christians out of years. They really live–the men given to exterior things merely exist. It is a source of sadness and surprise for interior souls that of the vast number that are called to follow Christ, few enter into His Society. They pity them for what they miss—when they do not boldly and resolutely turn their backs upon the lighted city and cast their choice for the dark cave. The friends of Jesus realise that conventional Christians, if they would but resolutely brave the rudeness of the stable, cast themselves on their knees beside the rough manger and, fixing their gaze on the face of the Child, allow themselves to be wrapped up in the sense of His presence and wholeheartedly accept His values, would taste a happiness that could not be destroyed or even assailed by the worst miseries of human life; for in that contemplation they would learn—taught by the eloquent silence of Infant Jesus—that all that this earth can give is nothing and that the life of God, or the life with God, is everything.
(1) Imitation, Bk. I, Chap. I, 3.
10-12-13 Comm. of St Melchiades, Pope and Martyr
The Franciscans of the Immaculate
We refer our readers to the article “Lepanto Society: We ask for the Resignation of Fr Volpi, Commissioner of the Franciscans of the Immaculate” in Catholic Family News regarding the treatment being meted out to the Fransciscans of the Immaculate. This story was originally broken by Sandro Magister in his article, “For the first time, Francis Contradicts Benedict”. The report in Catholic Family News carries an article by Roberto de Mattei calling for resignation of the commissioner appointed over the Franciscans and includes a petition to that effect.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2013
The death of Nelson Mandela (RIP) one fears has led to a suspension of critical faculties by many including Churchmen.
A BBC commentator has described Mandela as a secular saint but he is already being almost lauded as a real saint by some Catholics. To redress the balance we reproduce below an article from Life Site News and also from John Smeaton’s Blog:
Life Site News article
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, December 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – (John Henry Westen)
The death of South African former President Nelson ‘Madiba’ Rolihlahla Mandela on Thursday has led to an outpouring of glowing praise for the man most known for ending apartheid – a system of racial segregation. However, pro-life leaders have warned that praise from Christian leaders is inappropriate given Mandela’s role in bringing abortion-on-demand and homosexual “marriage” to South Africa.
According to official statistics, nearly a million unborn children have been killed in South Africa since President Mandela signed legislation in 1996 permitting abortion on demand two years after taking office. Same-sex ‘marriage’ was legalized in 2006, with Mandela having supported it long before its passage.
In the face of praise for Mandela coming even from Catholic leaders all over the world, Paul Tuns, the editor of the Canadian pro-life newspaper The Interim, wrote, “A little balance is necessary in our reaction to the man who fought one injustice, but helped institute another.”
Similarly England’s John Smeaton, President of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) commented on his blog saying, “It is absolutely vital that Catholic leaders do not allow themselves to become respecters of persons, swept away by personality cults. Catholic leaders have a duty to stand up to public figures with anti-life and anti-family records, however praiseworthy their record may be on other issues.”
Smeaton’s comments came in reaction to praise for Mandela from the Bishops conference of South Africa. However, since then, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Pope Francis have also issued statements of praise for Mandela.
Pope Francis’s official statement says, “Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations.”
Cardinal Dolan’s statement calls Mandela a “hero to the world.” The Cardinal recalls the praise for Mandela from Pope John Paul II’s visit to South Africa in 1995. That visit came before Mandela passed the law permitting abortion.
It was 1996 when Mandela signed into law one of the world’s most pro-abortion laws. Passage of the “Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill” was assured since Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) refused its members a free vote on the issue of providing state-funded abortion on demand.
The same year, Mandela’s new constitution made South Africa the first country to place “sexual orientation” alongside race and religion as a restricted grounds for discrimination – something that paved the way for homosexual ‘marriage’ a decade later.
Smeaton quotes from a book of quotations from Mandela noting his statement on abortion: "Women have the right to decide what they want to do with their bodies." In addition to his promotion of abortion, homosexuality, contraception and close ties to Communism, Smeaton notes Mandela’s formation of ‘The Elders” as a cause for concern.
In 2007, Mandela announced ‘The Elders’ as a global council of retired world leaders who would give behind the scenes advice and direction to government officials and rulers around the world. The proposal was received by pro-life leaders as being of great concern since its membership formed a ‘who’s who of the pro-abortion and pro-population-control movements.”
While during his life, Mandela denied being part of the communist party despite his friendly interaction with communist world leaders, the African National Congress revealed today that Mandela was in fact a high-ranking member of the Communist Party.
“Madiba was also a member of the South African Communist Party, where he served in the Central Committee,” said the ANC release.
Given the adulation Mandella has received from the worldwide media, it is possible that many Christians had little or no knowledge of the controversial aspects of Mandela’s life.
While it may be difficult for Catholic officials to discern how to proceed with world leaders and politicians who are pro-abortion, in 2004, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops adopted a policy on the matter. “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,” it said. [End of Life Site News article]
John Smeaton’s Blog
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
South Africa's Catholic bishops are wrong to laud Nelson Mandela
The South African Catholic Bishops' Conference last week issued a statement of support for Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, following reports that he had been hospitalised. The statement said:
"Former President Mandela means different things to different people. To his family he is a veritable Patriarch who stands for and is an example of the virtues of a truly great and loving Father, who cares for all near and dear to him.
To the Nation, he is a great and inspiring leader, a true icon of the...reconciliation which we still need urgently.
To the international community, he is a unique African and global statesman who rose above personal, tribal, race and party interests in order to lead the South African nation through a difficult transition from apartheid to Democracy."
I am disturbed by this glowing tribute to Mr Mandela, in the light of his record on pro-life/pro-family issues (see below). It is absolutely vital that Catholic leaders do not allow themselves to become respecters of persons, swept away by personality cults. Catholic leaders have a duty to stand up to public figures with anti-life and anti-family records, however praiseworthy their record may be on other issues. The sanctity of human life and the dignity of the family are the foundation and guarantee of all other human rights.
Nelson Mandela and abortion
Mr Mandela has been quoted as saying on abortion: "Women have the right to decide what they want to do with their bodies." In 1996, Mandela signed into law the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which permits abortion on demand. SPUC's pro-life colleagues in South Africa tells us that the bill was introduced into the South African parliament by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Mr Mandela's health minister. In addition, the wording of the new South African constitution, signed by Mr Mandela in 1996, had made the legalisation of abortion on demand a mere formality. Mr Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) has a strong ideological committment to abortion, with the ANC Women's League strongly behind the legalisation of abortion on demand. The ANC has for decades been in a close political and electoral alliance with the South African Communist Party (SACP) (Mr Mandela pictured with SACP leader Joe Slovo) which also has a strong ideological committment to abortion.
Nelson Mandela and homosexuality*
The 1996 Constitution signed by Mr Mandela made South Africa the first country to forbid so-called discrimination on the grounds of "sexual orientation”. Homosexualist activists have honoured Mr Mandela for this provision.
Nelson Mandela and condoms
Mr Mandela is well-known for his activism regarding HIV/AIDS, through which he has many times promoted the use of condoms.
Nelson Mandela and "The Elders"
Mr Mandela is one of "The Elders", a group of retired international public figures dominated by leading international advocates of abortion, homosexuality and population control.
[End of quote from John Smeaton Blog]
The Temple of Dreams
An appeal has been lodged to save the former Catholic seminary at Cardross in Scotland. The attention is to raise £10million to ‘stabilise the structure and gradually restore some interior spaces for cultural and educational use’.
The ruinous, former, Catholic seminary at Cardross, its condition so cleverly described a few years ago by Jim Gilchrist in “Temple to ruined dreams” should perhaps remain exactly as it is – as a monument to the havoc wreaked upon the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.
( Image from St. Peter’s Building Preservation Trust)
Just as the seminary was “one of the most significant 20th Century Scottish architectural icons of modernism”, the post-conciliar Church too is the most significant icon of modernism – of the type condemned repeatedly by pre-conciliar Popes. The traditional ancient liturgy shares the fate of the old mansion at Kilmahew in having been razed for all intents and purposes: the Church too has had its “alter boys” - the architects and apparatchiks of what one distinguished French theologian described as “the permanent liturgical revolution”, not to mention the architects of Neo-Modernism who have rendered the pre-conciliar Church unrecognisable.
The observation by a grumbling Cardross shopkeeper that, “the vandals have made a mess of it. It’s a real eyesore …not that anyone can really see it now” is a sentiment expressed by many older Catholics about the state of the Church into which they were baptised. Others have simply left.
Even the mundane observation by the architect that the Church authorities “didnae clean the gutters and if you don’t clean the gutters in the middle of a wood, you get water ingress” can easily be transformed into a reflection that the failure of the Church authorities to clean the Church of heresy and modernism led to the ingress of that “smoke of Satan” which Paul VI detected as having entered “the temple of God” in the aftermath of Vatican II. In that sense the ruinous seminary would indeed be a fitting temple to ruined dreams.
Twenty-Second Annual Gardone Summer Symposium,Second Annual International Christendom Congress (June 30th- July 11th, 2014; 11 nights)
In the attached letter, Dr John Rao, advertises the above Summer Symposium which has the subject: 1914-2014: Have We Learned Anything from This “Hundred Years’ War”? and in addition seeks support for this initiative.
James MacMillan, the famous, Scottish, Catholic composer, has undoubtedly a degree of clout in the musical arena. It was he who composed the liturgical music for Pope Benedict’s visit to Scotland and for the beatification of Cardinal Newman. While I do not consider myself in any way a musical connoisseur, I do not particularly take to all of Mr MacMillan’s classical pieces. I have his composition, The Last Seven Words on the Cross, but find it in places too modern for my taste, although I do favour the piece, ‘Verily, I say unto you…’ which in its diverse strains transports one from the Cross and the dust of the Holy Land to the very portal of Heaven. Perhaps I may come to appreciate more his other works.
But whatever I might think about Mr MacMillan’s music, I find myself, as do many others, in sympathy with his complaint that since Vatican II, ‘decades of experiment [have] spewed forth music of mind-numbingly depressing banality. He adds, ‘A lot of the favoured new settings are musically illiterate, almost as if they were written by semi-trained teenagers, getting to grips with musical rudiments. The style is stodgy and sentimental, tonally and rhythmically stilted, melodically inane and adored by Catholic clergy ‘of a certain age’. I suspect he could have added cringe worthy in their delivery too, but he decided perhaps he had used enough adjectives. He gives vent to these feelings in his Telegraph Blog and includes examples there of the type of music he has in mind.
While we do not wholly agree with all that he says we do share his desire for a return to Gregorian chant, and for the return of the liturgy that gave birth to it.
Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour Trilogy
The BBC have recently featured Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Sword of Honour’ Trilogy. We have posted here Dr Robert Hickson’s essay on same: ‘Sloth, Disillusionment and a Higher Chivalry’.
‘What could have happened to this well-meaning young man [Guy Crouchbank]? And, after his besetting sloth at the outset and his later disillusionments and discoveries, what was to be the destiny of his enlargening sense of honor in the end? What glimpses may we come to have of his Higher Chivalry, so well rooted in his gradually deepened Catholic Faith, and in the magnanimous and humble example and memory of his beloved father?
By means of his three-fold sequence of novels concerning World War II, unmistakably based on his own distinguished and valorous and disillusioning experience from 1939-1945, Evelyn Waugh also proposes to show us the way of sacrifice: the way of honor and the higher chivalry.
His Military Trilogy, finally edited and published in one volume only in 1965, and entitled Sword of Honour is, at root, a study of chivalry and honour “in the Modern Age” – and also a revelation of unchivalrous dishonor – especially during a time of “Total War” and “People's War.”17 (Evelyn Waugh was to die less than a year later, in his sixty-third year of life, in his home, after Father Philip Caraman, S.J., privately celebrated the Traditional Mass on 10 April 1966 – Easter Sunday.’
St Clement, Pope and Martyr 23-11-2013
November being the month of the Holy Souls we have asked that a traditional Mass be offered for the repose of the souls of all deceased Apropos and Approaches readers, subscribers and benefactors. We ask our readers to pray too for that intention. Thank You.
Hermeneutic of Discontinuity in Papal Statements
Many Catholics have been dismayed by statements made by Pope Francis in recent interviews which seem to have greatly heartened progressives within the Church. But, as Sandro Magister reported very recently in his article ‘Even the Pope Critiques Himself’, the Pope or his representatives have begun back-tracking even to the extent of the Pope acknowledging and welcoming criticism from a hierarchical friend. The notorious interview with Scalfari has been removed from the Vatican website and an admission has been wrought from Scalfari that his record of what the Pope said was not exactly accurate. Magister also indicates that the Pope appears to have retracted part of his interview to La Civilta Cattolica which so alarmed traditionalists. He now appears to be back on message with the hermeneutic (interpretation) of continuity of his predecessor; giving fulsome praise to his critic, Archbishop Marchetto, as the ‘best hermeneut of Vatican II’. On November 18th the Pope also appeared to withdraw from his October 17th ‘progressive tone’, as Magister puts it; in November he gave a ‘tongue lashing’ of ‘adolescent progressivism’.
In addition others have seen in a recent Marian sermon his criticism of the alleged multiple appearances of Our Lady associated with the Medjugorje phenomenon.
While we welcome this apparent drift of papal direction and the Pope’s willingness to acknowledge his own errors (of judgement too), we do not cease to pray that he may become a Pius IX.
Alas, we must not delude ourselves that, even were he to continue with the hermeneutic of continuity of his predecessor, that this represents anything other than business as usual. If perhaps he had addressed Mgr Gherardini in the terms addressed to Archbishop Marchetto then indeed we may have had grounds for optimism. For Mgr. Gherardini, in his book, The Ecumenical Vatican Council II – A Much Needed Discussion. asked Benedict XVI:
‘Most Holy Father (…)
For the good of the Church (…) it seems to me that it is urgent that You offer some clarity by responding in an authoritative manner to the question about the Council’s continuity with other Councils – not, with declamation, but by demonstration – and about its fidelity to the ever vigorous Tradition of the Church.’
Until that request is met by this pontiff or another we suspect that the progress of Modernism in what Arnaud de Lassus described as ‘a gradual and pragmatic manner’ will continue apace.
Modernism in the post-conciliar Church
We have included in this blog another article by James Larson, ‘I know not the Man’ which addresses the problem that Modernism presents in the post-conciliar Church and aspects of same which some traditionalists are not comfortable in considering. Parts of that article may present a little difficulty to those of us who are not trained in philosophy but the gist of it can still be grasped.
This edition of the blog contains two iconic articles (later produced as supplements) by Approaches in the later 1960s.
The IDO-C Dossier
Sandro Magister in his article ‘Even the Pope critiques himself’ refers to the ‘“school of Bologna” - founded by Giuseppe Dossetti and Guiseppe Alberigo and today directed by Professor Alberto Melloni – which has the worldwide monopoly on the interpretation of Vatican II, in a progressive vein.’ Professor Alberigo of Bologna was a founder member of IDO-C which then sought to control the expression of ‘Catholic’ opinion throughout the world. As Magister indicates its influence still pervades through the “school of Bologna” and other networks. The IDO-C dossier first appeared in Approaches No 10-11 in January 1968. It sought to expose the network of individuals and publications which had become the ‘progressive’, global, Catholic establishment; an establishment which controlled the expression of ‘Catholic’ opinion throughout the world, becoming a veritable parallel hierarchy. Although many of the individuals and publications have ‘moved on’, some still persist, as Magister attests, and continue to exercise the role they did in the immediate post-conciliar period.
The Strange Faith of Teilhard de Chardin
This article by Henri Rambaud first appeared in Approaches No. 3, March 1966. As Hamish Fraser stated at the time of publication: ‘It is not our normal function to discuss theological speculations concerning which Rome has issued a solemn warning. But when such speculations [those of Teilhard de Chardin] are publicised as though they were already de fide, we feel it our duty to show that this is far indeed from being true. Hence our decision to publish Henri Rambaud’s article, The Strange Faith of Teilhard de Chardin together with a translation of the Monitum issued by the Holy Office in 1962.’
We reproduce the latest collections of the Apropos columnist’s musings:
A permissible speculation?
Baptism can be by Water, Blood or Desire. As Archbishop Sheehan remarks in Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, the latter is more aptly described as Baptism of the Holy Ghost ‘because the Holy Ghost causes grace in the soul directly and not through the medium of any sacramental rite.’
This leads us on to the Limbo of the unbaptized, generally described as a place of perfect natural happiness without the Beatific Vision of the Trinity. Some recoil from this. However there is no automatic right to the Beatific Vision. Referring to the Summa of St Thomas, Archbishop Sheehan states that:
‘If Adam had remained faithful, each one of his descendants would have been subjected like himself to some trial of loyalty to God, before being confirmed in the possession of his gifts.’
The speculation in question is whether those enjoying the Beatific Vision can communicate with those in Limbo. Our Lord’s company was enjoyed by Our Lady, St Joseph, and the Apostles, when He had the Beatific Vision in His Sacred Humanity, and they did not. Messengers have come from Heaven to those not yet saved.
The editor of Apropos recently mentioned a growing preference for the Apostles’ Creed rather than the Nicene Creed, wondering whether this was to avoid such terms as ‘consubstantial’ and ‘Filioque’. Doctrinally however, they can run but they can’t hide. The Apostles’ Creed mentions the visit by means of His Soul of Our Lord to the Limbo of the Fathers. Who was there? King David and St Joseph, the Machabees and the Holy Innocents and so on. Why were they there? Because the work of the Redemption from Original Sin not yet having been completed, Heaven was not yet open to them. What was it like? Our Lord described it as ‘Abraham’s bosom’ in the story of Dives and Lazarus.
If we try for a greater understanding of the glory of God we may have a better understanding of Original Sin and Limbo. How many molecules are there in the Universe? What is one molecule compared with the rest? Divine omniscience alone can answer these questions. The difference between one molecule and the rest of the universe is finite. The difference between all creation visible and invisible and the Creator is infinite.
The Orb originally was a symbol of the Cosmos, later Earth. Iconography of Christ the King holding an orb is very apposite. Incidentally, this writer recalls hearing an apparently educated man on TV stating that until Christopher Columbus, the Church taught that the earth was flat. He did not explain why the likes of Charlemagne were depicted holding orbs rather than pancakes.
Raising the Bastions
The Duke of Wellington, commenting on a proclamation of his allies, The Portuguese Junta, in 1810, disliked its length and rhetorical emotionalism. He stated that such a proclamation should consist of practical points ‘and ought above all to be short’. Marshal Massena, striking for Lisbon, was brought to a halt when he discovered that Wellington had constructed three lines of very strong fortifications to protect Lisbon, the lines of Torres Vedras. After months of helpless misery before the lines, Massena limped back East.
Not of course a Catholic, the Duke managed some years later to outclass those at Vatican II devoted to ‘razing the bastions’ of the Church. (Stalin indirectly supplied the kindest summary of these types. When somebody said that a particular Balkan communist had brains, he replied, ‘Yes, but they’re stupid brains’.) The Duke stated that while in India, he’d commanded Hindu and Muslim soldiers, and they were fine soldiers, fully comparable to their Christian counterparts. It was not however, he pointed out, a question of that, but of orders. Were that today we would follow orders or a short proclamation: ‘Go forth and teach all nations.’
Suppose we were asked to give an above all short explanation of Purgatory. One of those who saw Mel Gibson’s The Passion had murdered his girlfriend, deceiving everybody into thinking it was suicide. He turned himself in. Although clearly penitent, he could hardly have been told to just go home. There being a debt to society, how much more so to God?
We have all felt shame, embarrassment. Even when no sin is involved, there is a sort of burning sensation. To put it very simply, those in Purgatory have a greatly enhanced appreciation of the glory of God, Whom they have offended and their debt, their imperfection, is burnt out of them. If we were all more or less going straight to Heaven, there would be a colossal amount of pointless waiting around and suffering. We can and should pray for the suffering on earth. Likewise those suffering in Purgatory. A question of orders: ‘’Tis a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.’
On 2nd December 1804, Napoleon was crowned. On 2nd December 1805, he won his most famous victory, Austerlitz. On 2nd December 1814, a man lay on his deathbed. He was in a lunatic asylum since the authorities didn’t know what to do with him. Away from the Church for over 50 years, bitterly hostile, he had wallowed in filth. The Chaplain approached to ask if he wanted the last rites. The Marquis de Sade did, and made a very Christian finish.
It is worth noting the distance in time and space from the Good Thief. No mere man could achieve such results. God is of course sovereignly free to remit some or all of the debt in any individual case. The tendency to ignore Purgatory is really to insult God, Who is Justice.
Baalderdash or Molochaos
At Vatican II, a Japanese bishop stated that the Sign of the Cross was alien to Japanese culture. (1) Needless to say, since so many Japanese martyrs died by crucifixion, the Sign of the Cross is a particular battle-honour of Japanese Catholicism.
This sort of absurdity abounded in Vatican II, not least in the infamous Dignitatis Humanae, the declaration interpreted as affording a right to liberty in public for false religions. This was claimed to flow from the dignity of the human person as shown by Scripture and reason.
One example. The Prophet Elias confronted 450 priests of Baal (also known as Moloch) on Mount Carmel. This was a very progressive religion, with much jumping up and down and sacrifice of babies. The decision having been made on the basis of One God/One Vote, Elias put the 450 to the sword. Note that it was 450 bishops at Vatican II who had their proposal for a specific condemnation of communism deliberately ‘lost’. Lucifer has a hellishly good memory.
There is nothing definitive on the subject, but some writers have suggested that Enoch and Elias will return towards the end of the world, being not yet in Heaven. Others have reckoned this a misinterpretation. Anyway, Elias did appear with Moses at the Transfiguration, acknowledging the Divine Messiah (for some not at all mysterious reason the Transfiguration is never depicted in films about Our Lord.)
The Atlantic Wall and other fortifications were built by the Todt Organisation named after Dr. Todt, whose name is from the German for ‘death’. Earlier, Field Marshal von Schlieffen had been the arch-advocate of encirclement battles of annihilation. His name is from the German for ‘sleep’. The story goes that at the Transfiguration Moses asked Our Lord the whereabouts of Elias – ‘Wo ist Elias?’ The response: ‘Er ist nicht Todt aber Schlieffen.’ Schlieffen, however, is very much todt – he lies in the Invalidenfriedhof cemetery in Berlin under a stone bearing the Sign of a Cross.
(1) Cf. The Rhine flows into the Tiber, Fr. Ralph Wiltgen, p. 37.
Attaining moral turpitude is not a sudden thing
But what most people do not see is that this dullness in diet, and similar things, is exactly parallel to the dull and indifferent anarchy in manners and morals. Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked....It may mean that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal, and that you are a paralytic. G. K. Chesterton
This essay by Dr Robert Hickson concerns Chesterton’s insights into ‘Evil Friendships in History’ and in particular that of Voltaire and Frederick the Great the consequences of which still affect us today. It also includes some telling observations regarding that slow and inevitable habituation to moral decadence which is a mark of society’s surrender to the forces of the Cultural Revolution.
Spare a thought on the Agony in the Garden, The BBC, the Savile affair and sinners generally.
(Following revelations of alleged multiple cases of sexual abuse and rape by Sir Jimmy Savile, a Catholic pop-celebrity and Papal Knight, the British media became involved in an internecine war regarding the responsibility of the press and broadcasters in suppressing exposure of sexual abuse of children, particularly within the BBC. Barely a month goes by without fresh allegations of sexual misconduct or crime being levelled against former celebrities of TV or Radio. This war also caused collateral damage to innocent parties whose reputations had been sullied as a result. These few reflections were made on trying to understand the agony of one such person (which occurred a year ago) in the light of Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden.)
The Agony in the Garden of our Divine Lord one would think is not too difficult to meditate upon. In the Passion of the Christ the Satanic serpent is forever in the background while Our Lord is contemplating His impending passion. But a picture such as this, while displaying Our Saviour’s suffering, does not explain the cause of His torment which worsened despite the strengthening afforded by the Angel of Consolation ( Luke 22:43). In his Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius relates:
In fine, His desolation is such, that His heart appears to break; He suffers convulsions like a dying person struggling violently against death; it reduces Him to sweat blood from all His members; “His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the Ground” (Luke xxii:44).
And what are the causes of this desolation of the Saviour? The eternal misery that sin is preparing for us; this is the cause of His fear. The infinite injury that sin does to the majesty of His Father; this is the cause of His sorrow. The uselessness of His sufferings for so many miserable creatures who persist in the way of perdition; this is the cause of his weariness.
The sight of God basely insulted, and of so many souls miserably damned, is the cause of his agony…
We might try to understand Our Lord’s agony but as sinners ourselves, as the cause of His agony and fear, we cannot remotely fathom the depths of that agony and fear.
As sinners we might suffer a different agony of fear or shame. There is, of course, the mind tortured by conscience over sins committed past and present – particularly the mind of one who cannot seek forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance – not to speak of the mind which is, to outward appearances, unrepentant and guilty of abominable crime. Just as the Hound of Heaven pursues the soul, so too does conscience pursue to repentance unless it is blotted out by recourse to more and more sin or sheer pride. The truly penitent sinner is ashamed of his sins – a shame which increases in intensity according to the immensity of the sin, and while the graces of the sacrament may return the sinner to God, a God who never left him, the shame persists. The sinner cannot but reflect on that act of aggression, or cold-heartedness, unkindness, neglect of duty or moral lapse without a stirring of conscience and hopefully a resolve not to conduct himself thus again.
We sinners deserve to suffer shame, to have our conscience disturbed, to ache over wrong done – it is merely the slightest foretaste of what we might expect if blessed enough to merit purgatory. For there in purgatory, at least I imagine, (and pray that I am not in so doing straying from the mind of the Church), what will confront us is not the limited judgement of our own conditioned conscience but the searing fire of being faced with the consequences of our sins in the crystal clear infinitely intense light of the Divine will. If we consider the burden of agony, shame and conscience which we face now as a result of seeing them in the darkened mirror of our own ill-formed conscience, what pain can we expect to inflict upon ourselves in our zeal to purify ourselves in the face of Divine reality and to conform to the Divine will, knowing that this is our only passport to the intense Love which seeks to consume us? As humans surely such pain, such agony, is truly unimaginable because we cannot possibly conceive the absolute immensity of our sin in contrast to the Divine Will and Divine Love?
So too with the Agony in the Garden, we can only try to imagine the distress caused to Our Lord but we cannot possibly remotely suffer as He did there.
I suppose the nearest we might come to appreciate to any degree that agony could be found in the anguish felt by Lord McAlpine, the businessman, who was wrongly (and many might say, recklessly) accused of being a paedophile as a result of shoddy journalism and the bear-baiting antics of so-called self-righteous “social” media types who, in the words of Charles Moore, ‘most ready with child abuse accusations are some of the nastiest people in the world. They exploit our natural disgust at the crime to promote hatred while appearing righteous’.(1) In a subsequent interview with the BBC, which was largely responsible for the unleashing of this vile accusation against him, Lord McAlpine remarked that it got into his soul, agreeing, with the Mayor of London’s observation, that he had been cast into the lowest circle of hell while still alive. For a person to be accused of such an horrendous crime, which they did not commit, must be soul-destroying. And, as others have observed, even when the accusation is withdrawn there remains that psychological mind-game in which a nasty aphorism rises, even in the minds of those ill-disposed to malicious gossip: ‘No smoke without fire.’ Satan certainly knows how to take advantage of any situation.
Sir Jimmy Savile, on the other hand, is now dead and there appears to be a public presumption that he is guilty of every vile crime of which he has been posthumously accused. His headstone has been removed by his family and demolished, and his remote cottage in the Scottish Highlands has been vandalised. No doubt those of his family and friends who were unaware of his alleged crimes have also undergone an agony, a distress at learning, so suddenly and unexpectedly, of the vast catalogue of the allegations against him. None save his Maker or confessor will know whether Savile repented of his sins, and none other than his Maker will know whether those who howl against Savile’s sins may recoil themselves when faced with a “writing in the sand”.
I must admit that I never warmed to Jimmy Savile, nor his peculiar animal sounds. I recall, at secondary school, we were addressed by some ‘hip’ priest whose friendship with pop stars and Savile was meant to appeal to us. I was not impressed – it was the beginning of the fruits of Vatican II. And here lies the rub: Savile and Co. and the whole swinging-sixties era were part of a sex-obsessed industry which had literally possessed the country. This was an era of sexual liberation and it was not surprising that it would have evil consequences. The ‘enlightened’ told all to abandon their sexual ‘hang-ups’ in which they included modesty and chastity, particularly among the young. The reality of sin and occasions of sin were dismissed peremptorily. One cannot judge how many young girls were persuaded to throw themselves into the clutches of the idols of the age, but it is certain that many did so. One cannot but wonder about how many of those now found guilty of sexual abuse were treating their victims in a manner any different from the way in which allegedly compliant or willing groupies were - as mere objects of gratification, so debased had consciences become, so successful had been the abandonment of sexual ‘hang-ups’ and the moral law.
But all that apart, Our Divine Lord, in the Garden of Gethsemane, was not faced with the intense shame that we might feel as sinners, nor with the anguish of the falsely accused whose reputation has been sullied before all. No, He was faced with heaping upon Himself the shame and the effects of all our sins – the sins of all mankind – the foulest sins, the public sins, the private sins, the hidden sins – bearing that burden upon Himself, He who was without sin, He to whom sin was infinitely more repellent than would the most noxious, foul poison be to us. Let us spare a thought for that. ASF
The Spectator, 17-11-12
Pope Francis and the Cultural Revolution
We refer our readers to this article by Patrick J Buchanan on the papal influence on the cultural wars in which we are engaged:
Hart’s Catholic Doctrine
Herewith the Second Chapter: Nature, grounds and rules of Faith
Feast of Christ the King October 2013
Christus Vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat
Christ the King
In the traditional Calendar the last Sunday of October has been the Feast of Christ the King. To commemorate same we have reproduced the following article, ‘What Matters Most’ by Hamish Fraser, editor of Approaches, which appeared in Approaches No. 53-54, February 1977. This article on the subject of Christ the King makes reference to another article, ‘The Kingship of Christ 1925-1975 which is already posted on this site in the Approaches archive for Approaches No. 47-48, Feb 1976.
The Feast was instituted by Pius XI ‘as a public, social and official declaration of the royal rights of Jesus, as God the Creator, as the Word Incarnate, and as Redeemer’ to quote the introduction in the St Andrew’s Daily Missal which also states that: ‘In his Encyclical [Quas Primas] of December 11, 1925, H.H. Pius XI denounced the great modern heresy of laicism. It refuses to recognise the rights of God and His Christ over persons and peoples and organises the lives of individuals, families and of society itself, as though God did not exist.’ The results of this heresy have been made manifest in our day through the immoral laws enacted in our legislatures. We recommend that our readers refresh their knowledge of Quas Primas and thus of the place that Christ ought to have in our homes, societies and legislatures. A place expressed in these verses from Te saeculorum Principem, the hymn in the Mass for Christ the King:
May heads of nations fear Thy name
And spread Thy honour through their lands,
Our nation’s laws, our arts proclaim
The beauty of Thy just commands.
Let Kings the crown and sceptre hold
As pledge of Thy supremacy;
And Thou all lands and tribes enfold
In one fair realm of charity.
Chesterton and the Book of Job
We have posted the essay ‘G K Chesterton’s 1916 reflections on the Book and wounds of Job’. In it Dr Robert Hickson comments on a text of Chesterton on that subject which was written prior to his conversion. It contains this little gem of Chesterton which we might have otherwise posted as a thought for the day: ‘In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, it is not the right method to tell him to stop doubting. It is rather the right method to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wider things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself.’
‘He that believeth, and is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.’ Mark vxi:16)
As promised we have posted the next instalment of Hart’s Catholic Doctrine – Part 1, Chapter 1 – Faith.
17th October 2013 – Feast of St Margaret Mary Alacoque
This is the anniversary of the death of Hamish Fraser who died on this day in 1986. Your prayers are requested for the repose of his soul and for the repose of the souls of all deceased Approaches and Apropos readers, subscribers and benefactors.
Thoughts for the Day
'When the Pharisees gave Him no reply to His question, "Is it lawful to do good upon the Sabbath?" He looked at, them full of anger. It was holy wrath. The man who does not in his heart protest against obvious baseness and does not passionately try to suppress it whenever he can, is not a moral man. The more purely and intensely someone is sensitive to good and evil, the more sharply and decisively his feeling will, be expressed. So Jesus' infinitely pure and high-minded spirit more than any other would react to every baseness and wickedness with a bitterness without like or peer… (Fr. Karl Adam; The Christ of Faith; Mentor Omega paperback p.284.)
‘Paul expresses himself most forcibly on the missionary’s duty not to care in the least whether men think well or ill of him…A real servant of Christ must necessarily give offence sometimes. Too much tenderness on this score means scaling down the demands of Christ, softening the Gospel for fear of shocking human sensibilities: which is a dereliction of duty.’
(The Lord of History, Cardinal Jean Daniélou S.J.. Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd. 1958, p. 505.)
The logic of contraception – same-sex “marriage”
‘And if there is nothing intrinsically wrong with contraceptive intercourse, and if it could become general practice everywhere where there is intercourse but ought to be no begetting, then it’s very difficult to see the objection to this morality; for the ground of objection to fornication and adultery was that sexual intercourse is only right in the sort of set up that typically provides children with a father and mother to care for them. If you can turn intercourse into something other than a reproductive act (I don’t mean of course that every act is reproductive any more than every acorn leads to an oak tree but it’s the reproductive type of act) then why, if you can change it, should it be restricted to the married? Restricted, that is, to partners bound in a formal, legal union whose purpose is the bringing up of children? For if that is not its fundamental purpose there is no reason why for example “marriage” should not have to be between people of opposite sexes. But then, of course, it becomes unclear why you should have a ceremony, why you should have a formality at all. And so we must grant that children are in this general way the main point of the existence of such an arrangement. But if sexual union can be deliberately and totally divorced from fertility, then we may wonder why sexual union has got to be married union. If the expression of love between the partners is the point, then it shouldn’t be so narrowly confined. (G. E. M. Anscombe, Faith in a Hard Ground – Essays on Religion, Philosophy and Ethics, Edited by Mary Geach and Luke Gormally, Digital version by Andrews UK Ltd, 2012.)
Dossier on Catechetics
We have posted Approaches No.23 on the website. This issue was devoted almost entirely to Michael Davies’ Dossier on Catechetics, a collection of articles and observations on the state of Catechetics in the early 1970s. We had hoped to have posted this for the anniversary of Michael’s death but the scanning and editing took much longer than first anticipated. It can be seen that many of the problems aired in the dossier then are still with us to this day. The new catechetics if disastrous in terms of doctrine were certainly not lacking in efficacy in spreading Modernism. However the dossier was a child of that time. As we state in a note in same: ‘I suspect that both the Editor, Hamish Fraser, and the author, Michael Davies, were they alive, would not agree with all that it contains, particularly regarding Vatican II, because at that time, as Hamish Fraser indicated in a later Approaches: ‘…like so many other orthodox Catholics, we could not bring ourselves to believe that anything but good could come of the Council as such…What we did not then realise was that the real significance of Vatican 2 was to be found not in what was positively affirmed in the official documents, all of which were capable of being interpreted in a perfectly orthodox sense, but rather in what was omitted, or else stated so equivocally as to be of real value only to the forces of subversion.’
The dossier thus gives the lie to those who maintain that traditionalists were predisposed to oppose the Council from the very beginning. Orthodox Catholics were disposed to embrace the Council in good faith. It was only when the forces of subversion began to show their hand, and use what Michael Davies described as “time bombs” in the conciliar documents, that orthodox Catholics began to question aspects not only of the “spirit of the Council” but of the Council documents themselves. Pope Paul VI who had hitherto gained their support because of his Credo, Mysterium Fidei and Humanae Vitae quickly lost same as soon as the Novus Ordo was imposed in an almost totalitarian manner, and as its defects and effects were made manifest. The dossier must therefore be read with such in mind, making allowances for the era in which it appeared.’
A poem for the day
On the feast day of this saint of the Sacred Heart. It was written by a priest subscriber who wishes to remain anonymous.
The Sacred Heart
The Sacred Heart, a throne of fire,
Filled, o’er brimmed with LOVE’s desire
Thus fountains forth compassionate streams
Of Mercy’s LOVE – to me it seems.
The first for sinners, sweetsome craves,
Their loathsome leprosy it bathes:
Do they but whisper “mercy please!”
Their sickly dreadful soul’s disease is Gone!
is gone! Who can say more?
Each grateful leper kneel! adore!
The second stream – love’s treasure chest
Pours forth to thrill each fervent breast,
Is strength and life: confirms the weak
To bear their cross and so to seek
The face of Him, who rent by love,
Stooped down to hell to win their love;
Who gave His life, that they might live
As “other Christs”, and so to give
Themselves as treasure God has priced
Their heartbeat cost: the Sacrificed.
Behold the third stream: living glow,
Inspires the perfect here below,
Helps them to build His Body now,
By works of diamond worth: thus show
His weaker brethren that the toil
Gains us eternal joy-brimmed spoil:
Gains us the love of Mary-Mother
Wins us the Love of Christ: Blood Brother.
God’s gift: the Holy Ghost bestows:
The CHURCH in radiant glory grows!
Frankfurt School Marxism
We have reproduced the above article by Gerald Warner which appeared on Scotland on Sunday on 6th October 2013. It puts into perspective the latest controversy over Ralph Milliband, father of the current leader of the British Labour Party. See: http://www.scotsman.com/news/gerald-warner-impact-of-politically-correct-britain-1-3128346
Gerald Warner: Impact of politically correct Britain
The War of Comrade Miliband generated much sound and fury, but all the belligerents and observers ignored its most salient aspect – that this imagined inquest on a supposedly dead creed was being conducted in the context of a society now dominated by Marxism. The Party Line is currently termed Political Correctness, but the outcome is the same: the reconfiguration of language to police thought and impose an ideology, the harassing of religion, the destruction of marriage and the family, and the coercive remodelling of culture to accommodate a fanatical aberration that defies human nature itself.Political correctness is cultural Marxism. The term was coined by Anton Semyonovich Makarenko, Lenin’s education guru and favourite wordsmith (he also invented the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat”). From the beginning, Marxists recognised there was a lot more involved in imposing totalitarian social control than nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. In Hungary in 1919, during the short-lived but murderous Communist dictatorship of Bela Kun, his deputy “commissar for culture”, Georg Lukacs, introduced a programme of “cultural terrorism” under which he imposed pornographic sex education on schoolchildren, promoting promiscuity, denouncing the family and encouraging pupils to mock their parents and religion. The question Lukacs posed was: “Who will save us from Western Civilisation?”Four years later, Lukacs was one of the founders of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, from which emerged the obscenity known today as Frankfurt School Marxism, dedicated to the destruction of civilisation. Max Horkheimer, its sometime director, followed up Lukacs’ experiment by grafting Freudianism onto Marxism. In this he was followed by Herbert Marcuse, an admirer of the Marquis de Sade, who expressed his belief in “polymorphous perversity”. This was complemented by the cultural Marxism of Gramsci and other adherents such as Adorno. Whether or not the Frankfurt Marxists had become sceptical of the command economy as an economic instrument, their main target was “the culture”. Hitler’s accession to power drove the Frankfurt School prophets to seek refuge in America, for whose current state of debilitation they are ultimately responsible. Their pretentious vapourings found favour in academic circles. Idiocies such as “deconstruction”, whereby the texts of great writers were shredded by literary pygmies and reinterpreted in the light of Marxist neuroses, and “critical theory” set about debauching the classical literary canon and vandalising knowledge. Under this impetus, academic campuses, for half a century, have remained the unreformed temples of anti-culture; university library shelves still groan beneath the weight of delusory Marxist tomes. In the US, college campuses have become, in the words of Robert Lind, “small ivy-covered North Koreas”.By corrupting the educators, Frankfurt Marxism secured its ascendancy over the elites. Education, the media, publishing, politics – all the commanding heights have been occupied by the cultural Marxist forces of anti-civilisation. The targets are vestigial Christianity, traditional institutions, national identity, the family – seen as an intolerable rival to the intruder state – and relations between men and women. The instruments of subversion are mass immigration and multiculturalism, to abolish homogeneity and national identity; the imposition of politically correct language (foreseen by Orwell as “Newspeak”) to prevent the articulation of dissident ideas; hate laws (also predicted by Orwell as “thought crime”); feminism, designed to alienate women from traditional motherhood and family roles; and promotion of the homosexual agenda (because anti-family). The introduction of “aggravated” offences has ended equality under the law.Initially espousing advocacy, the agenda has become blatantly coercive. Bans and prohibitions proliferate exponentially. Hideous neologisms such as “homophobia” or “Islamophobia” are intruded into public discussion (“discourse” in PC terminology) to distort debate; last week the ludicrous Bonnie Greer promoted a new absurdity: “gynophobia”. Their common adherence to cultural Marxism has made all three political parties complicit in a de facto one-party state: a Conservative prime minister has a minister for equalities. Tory politicians are routinely described as “socially liberal”; politics is about society – if they are socially liberal, they are liberal per se. Saul Alinsky, the Marxist activist, was the inspiration for David Cameron’s “Big Society”.The PC Terror threatens the employment and career prospects – on occasion the liberty – of those who do not conform. Public opinion is brainwashed by such devices as the “availability cascade”, collective belief moulded via the availability in the public forum of PC views; the “reputational cascade”, threatening social disapproval of dissidents; or the “chilling effect” on contrary viewpoints – the old Trotskyite “dysphoria” of 1970s campuses redeployed. In the tradition of Lukacs and Marcuse, society is offered a Faustian bargain: release from personal responsibility and legitimisation of hedonism if the public will embrace libertinism in exchange for liberty. Unless this totalitarian menace is quickly overthrown, Britain will confront a Marxist lunar landscape beyond the grimmest nightmares conceived by Ralph Miliband. END.
23rd September, 2013 - Feast of St Linus, Pope and Martyr
The Pope and Charity
Traditionalists have rightly been concerned by recent papal acts and opinions. These appear to lack, towards traditionalists, the charity accorded to others within and outwith the Church. In the following essay we cite Cardinal Newman’s views regarding the expression of charity as it has been voiced since Vatican II and in particular by the present Holy Father.
Newman’s critique of Vatican II
(This article has been posted on the Apropos website, www.apropos.org.uk A pdf version may be found here)
In an essay on religious tolerance written for the feast of St Barnabas(1), John Henry Newman, then not yet a Catholic, made some very cogent observations concerning the Apostles and their defects; observations, which in this particular case might easily apply too to the Second Vatican Council.
Defects in Popes and Apostles
It was the late Fr Calmel OP who warned us against papolatry – a frame of mind, alas, which has blinded many to the defects not only of the longer serving conciliar and post conciliar Popes of Vatican II, but also to the fruits of their labour, the conciliar revolution, which one suspects is soon to be canonised along with both John XXIII and John Paul II.Newman reminds us that defects were not lacking in the Apostles too. He recalls that Our Lord chose His Apostles from a cross-section of society - from the humble fisherman to the tax collector and that He worked with the metal He had at hand. Newman notes:‘The especial grace poured upon the Apostles and their associates, whether miraculous or moral, had no tendency to destroy their respective peculiarities of temper and character, to invest them with a sanctity beyond our imitation, or to preclude failings and errors which may be our warning.’One can easily believe this in respect of Judas’s failings and fatal errors, but also concerning Peter too whose thrice denial of Our Lord evokes emotions in all of us who have betrayed Our Lord in our sinful lives. But it was Peter also who was the subject of Our Lord’s harshest rebuke: ‘Get thou behind me, Satan’ – a reminder that the Apostle chosen by Our Lord to head His Church could stray from a correct reading of his Master’s mind.
The Holy Father’s recent comments regarding “triumphalism” have been taken by some traditionalists to apply to traditionalists alone, while others consider that, on the contrary they apply to progressives. In view of more recent comments, we suspect the former – a view which seems to be endorsed by progressives themselves. The initial confusion arose from the word “triumphalism” which was used in the conciliar era by progressives as a nasty swearword, comparable in effect to the word integriste, to denigrate all that the pre-conciliar Church stood for. In the political arena it has a like term “fascist” which was a socialist swearword to attack any political opinion to the right of Marx, Lenin or Trotsky. If one uses these words today one can expect to be misunderstood. But just as the grace given to the Apostles did not preclude their failings and errors, these too are not precluded in pontiffs. One should always bear that in mind especially when a pontiff’s opinion or asides bear none of the hallmarks of pontifical authority.
Failings – A Warning
Newman advises us that these failings of the Apostles serve to provide us with a warning:
‘Moreover, the definiteness and evident truth of many of the pictures presented to us in the Gospels serve to realize to us the history, and to help our faith, while at the same time they afford us abundant instruction. Such, for instance, is the immature ardour of James and John, the sudden fall of Peter, the obstinacy of Thomas, and the cowardice of Mark. St. Barnabas furnishes us with a lesson in his own way; nor shall I be wanting in piety towards that Holy Apostle, if on this his day I hold him forth, not only in the peculiar graces of his character, but in those parts of it in which he becomes our warning, not our example.'
’Warning ignored at Vatican II
It is Newman’s particular take on the failings of St Barnabas that have a resonance in the Church of today. Saint Barnabas had undoubted saintly attributes which gained him the title, ‘“the son of consolation” which was given him, as it appears, to mark his character of kindness, gentleness, considerateness, warmth of heart, compassion, and munificence.’ But we will not dwell here upon his saintly attributes which we should endeavor to follow, but rather upon the parts ‘in which he becomes our warning’ - a warning - which we will see was ignored by John XXIII and the Council fathers. We recall that John XXIII in his opening speech to the Council advised that ‘the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than of severity’ and that ‘The Catholic Church…desires to show herself to be the loving mother of all, benign, patient, full of mercy and goodness toward the brethren who are separated from her.’ A view which has been endorsed by Pope Francis. Conciliar documents and post-conciliar practice clearly demonstrate that this ecumenical benevolence extended beyond non-Catholic Christians to the Jews, Muslims and other religions. We suspect that were Newman alive he would have considered such as ‘indulgence towards the faults of others.’ He clearly thought so concerning St Barnabas’ pandering to the judaising Christians:
‘On the other hand, on two occasions his conduct is scarcely becoming an Apostle, as instancing somewhat of that infirmity which uninspired persons of his peculiar character frequently exhibit. Both are cases of indulgence towards the faults of others, yet in a different way; the one, an over-easiness in a matter of doctrine, the other, in a matter of conduct. With all his tenderness for the Gentiles, yet on one occasion he could not resist indulging the prejudices of some Judaizing brethren, who came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Peter first was carried away; before they came “he did eat with the Gentiles but when they were come, he withdrew, and separated himself fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; inasmuch, that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” The other instance was his indulgent treatment of Mark, his sister’s son, which occasioned the quarrel between him and St Paul…’
Charity becomes over-easiness
What exactly was that ‘infirmity of his peculiar character’ which Newman sought to reveal? It is listed here among the following faults:‘He is an ensample and warning to us, not only as showing us what we ought to be, but as evidencing how the highest gifts and graces are corrupted in our sinful nature, if we are not diligent to walk step by step, according to the light of God's commandments. Be our mind as heavenly as it may be, most loving, most holy, most zealous, most energetic, most peaceful, yet if we look off from Him for a moment; and look towards ourselves, at once these excellent tempers fall into some extreme or mistake. Charity becomes over-easiness, holiness is tainted with spiritual pride, zeal degenerates into fierceness, activity eats up the spirit of prayer, hope is heightened into presumption.'
A Fashion for the time being
It was St Barnabas’s charitable nature which Newman sought to highlight because ‘he may be considered as the type of the better sort of men among us’. Newman’s opinion is as relevant today as it was when he made it:‘In every age it chooses some one or other peculiarity of the Gospel as the badge of its particular fashion for the time being, and sets up as objects of admiration those who eminently possess it … certainly, this age, as far as appearance goes, may be accounted in its character not unlike Barnabas, as being considerate, delicate, courteous, and generous-minded in all that concerns the intercourse of man with man… There is a steady regard for the rights of individuals, nay, as one would fain hope in spite of misgivings, for the interest of the poorer classes, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.’One can perhaps see in this the fashion in which the post-conciliar papacy has been cast from the benevolent “Good Pope John” to Pope Francis’ concern for the poor etc. But here Newman asks the 42 billion dollar questions:
‘Does not our kindness too often degenerate into weakness, and thus become not Christian Charity, but lack of Charity, as regards the objects of it? Are we sufficiently careful to do what is right and just, rather than what is pleasant? Do we clearly understand our professed principles, and do we keep to them under temptation?'
Languid and unmeaning kindness
His answer is a reproach to John XXIII’s ‘medicine of mercy’ and to the effeminacy of post conciliar ecumenism and praxis:‘The history of St. Barnabas will help us to answer this question honestly. Now I fear we lack altogether, what he lacked in certain occurrences in it, firmness, manliness, godly severity. I fear it must be confessed, that our kindness, instead of being directed and braced by principle, too often becomes languid and unmeaning; that it is exerted on improper objects, and out of season, and thereby is uncharitable in two ways, indulging those who should be chastised, and preferring their comfort to those who are really deserving. We are over-tender in dealing with sin and sinners. We are deficient in jealous custody of the revealed Truths which Christ has left us. We allow men to speak against the Church, its ordinances, or its teaching, without remonstrating with them. We do not separate from heretics, nay, we object to the word as if uncharitable; and when such texts are brought against us as St. John's command, not to show hospitality towards them, we are not slow to answer that they do not apply to us.’
Opinions built on a contrary view
Newman too anticipated how expressions of support for firmness, manliness and godly severity would be met with in the post conciliar Church. How often are the terms judgemental and uncharitable flung at those who call for a more robust defence of our Catholic Faith. The admonitions of scripture (and previous papal teaching) against certain modern ecumenical behaviour are ignored as if they did not exist. Do these words of Newman not express this situation perfectly?‘For a long while they have forgotten that there were any such commands in Scripture [or papal teaching]; they have lived as though there were not, and not being in circumstances which immediately called for the consideration of them, they have familiarized their minds to a contrary view of the matter, and built their opinions upon it.’Newman asks us to note how the proponents of this ‘charitable’ approach seek to manage these difficulties (i.e. reconciling their current lax opinion with that of previously sterner Church teaching):‘Observe how they rid themselves of it; it is by confronting it with other views of Christianity, which they consider incompatible with it: whereas the very problem which Christian duty requires us to accomplish, is the reconciling in our conduct of opposite virtues.’
Pleasing the lukewarm
But whereas Newman’s article is predicated upon those who fall into that frame of mind because of their attempt to cultivate a single virtue, charity, to the neglect of others, our problem today arises not only because of that particular defect in the character of many modern Catholics but also because there are those of a Modernist disposition who actively seek to effect by design what others effect by defect in character. But no matter whether by design or defect the results are the same, as Newman, and the evidence of our own eyes demonstrates:‘Thus in the sacred province of religion, men are led on,— without any bad principle, without that utter dislike or ignorance of the Truth, or that self-conceit, which are chief instruments of Satan at this day, nor again from mere cowardice or worldliness, but from thoughtlessness, a sanguine temper, the excitement of the moment, the love of making others happy, susceptibility of flattery, and the habit of looking only one way, [but also today by Modernist errors] —led on to give up Gospel Truths, to consent to open the Church to the various denominations of error which abound among us, or to alter our Services so as to please the scoffer, the lukewarm, or the vicious. To be kind is their one principle of action; and, when they find offence taken at the Church's creed, they begin to think how they may modify or curtail it, under the same sort of feeling as would lead them to be generous in a money transaction, or to accommodate another at the price of personal inconvenience. Not understanding that their religious privileges are a trust to be handed on to posterity, a sacred property entailed upon the Christian family, and their own in enjoyment rather than in possession, they act the spendthrift, and are lavish of the goods of others. Thus, for instance, they speak against the Anathemas of the Athanasian Creed, or of the Commination Service (2), or of certain of the Psalms, and wish to rid themselves of them.’
Truly “Good” men
Such as these, as conform to the defect to which Newman refers, he regards as deficient in a due appreciation of the Christian Mysteries and he describes such characters as of this type:‘Undoubtedly, even the best specimens of these men are deficient in a due appreciation of the Christian Mysteries, and of their own responsibility in preserving and transmitting them; yet, some of them are such truly "good" men, so amiable and feeling, so benevolent to the poor, and of such repute among all classes, in short, fulfil so excellently the office of shining like lights in the world, and witnesses of Him "who went about doing good," that those who most deplore their failing, will still be most desirous of excusing them personally, while they feel it a duty to withstand them. Sometimes it may be, that these persons cannot bring themselves to think evil of others; and harbour men of heretical opinions or immoral life from the same easiness of temper which makes them fit subjects for the practices of the cunning and selfish in worldly matters. And sometimes they fasten on certain favourable points of character in the person they should discountenance, and cannot get themselves to attend to any but these; arguing that he is certainly pious and well-meaning, and that his errors plainly do himself no harm;—whereas the question is not about their effects on this or that individual, but simply whether they are errors; and again, whether they are not certain to be injurious to the mass of men, or on the long run, as it is called.’
Barnabas contrasted to John
As if to bring home forcefully the failing of St Barnabas – an over-easiness in charity – Newman contrasts him with St John who, as Newman reminds us, abounded in the spirit of love: ‘Now see in what he differed from Barnabas; in uniting charity with a firm maintenance of "the Truth as it is in Jesus." So far were his fervour and exuberance of charity from interfering with his zeal for God, that rather, the more he loved men, the more he desired to bring before them the great unchangeable Verities to which they must submit, if they would see life, and on which a weak indulgence suffers them to shut their eyes. He loved the brethren, but he "loved them in the Truth." He loved them for the Living Truth's sake which had redeemed them, for the Truth which was in them, for the Truth which was the measure of their spiritual attainments. He loved the Church so honestly, that he was stern towards those who troubled her. He loved the world so wisely, that he preached the Truth in it; yet, if men rejected it, he did not love them so inordinately as to forget the supremacy of the Truth, as the Word of Him who is above all….this is he who gives us that command about shunning heretics, which whether of force in this age or not, still certainly in any age is (what men now call) severe.’
Let everyone go his way
In summary, Newman asserts that: ‘Strictness and tenderness had no "sharp contention" in the breast of the Beloved Disciple.’ The current Church’s adherence to a fashion which places these in contention, which has abandoned strictness for tenderness, has led invariably to a weakening of the faith and an adoption, if not formal, at least informally of the doctrine of universal salvation in which all men will attain salvation, God having been so shaped by their concept of tenderness that He could not possibly apply that strictness of punishment, wrath etc. of which the Church once spoke. As Newman observes: ‘Let it be observed then, that these … systems, however different from each other in their principles and spirit, yet all agree in this one respect, viz., in overlooking that the Christian's God is represented in Scripture, not only as a God of Love, but also as "a consuming fire." Rejecting the testimony of Scripture, no wonder they also reject that of conscience, which assuredly forebodes ill to the sinner, but which, as the narrow religionist maintains, is not the voice of God at all, — or is a mere benevolence, according to the disciple of Utility,— or, in the judgment of the more mystical sort, a kind of passion for the beautiful and sublime. Regarding thus "the goodness" only, and not "the severity of God," no wonder that they ungird their loins and become effeminate; no wonder that their ideal notion of a perfect Church, is a Church which lets every one go on his way, and disclaims any right to pronounce an opinion, much less inflict a censure on religious error.’It is a return to the Faith in which strictness and tenderness are not in contention to which we must return – and a rejection of the effeminacy in which we are now ensnared. ‘We must pray God’, says Newman, ‘thus "to revive His work in the midst of the years; " to send us a severe Discipline, the Order of St. Paul and St. John, "speaking the Truth in love," and "loving in the Truth".
The balance askew
The balance in the Church is all askew because there is a lack of proportion and of attention to the integrity of Doctrine. As a result, strictness has been strictly struck down. We need to be reminded of what that element of our faith amounts to and Newman forthrightly reminds us exactly what it is:‘"knowing the terror of the Lord," fresh from the presence of Him "whose head and hairs are white like wool, as white as snow, and whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and out of His mouth a sharp sword," —a Witness not shrinking from proclaiming His wrath, as a real characteristic of His glorious nature, though expressed in human language for our sakes, proclaiming the narrowness of the way of life, the difficulty of attaining Heaven, the danger of riches, the necessity of taking up our cross, the excellence and beauty of self-denial and austerity, the hazard of disbelieving the Catholic Faith, and the duty of zealously contending for it. Thus only will the tidings of mercy come with force to the souls of men, with a constraining power and with an abiding impress, when hope and fear go together. Then only will Christians be successful in fight, "quitting themselves like men," conquering and ruling the fury of the world, and maintaining the Church in purity and power, when they condense their feelings by a severe discipline, and are loving, in the midst of firmness, strictness, and holiness.’ ( A S Fraser 16-09-2013)
(1)Sermon XXIII, Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol II, pp. 274-290. Published by Rivingtons, London, Oxford and Cambridge, 1873.And yet when ‘the Judaising Christians troubled the Gentile converts with the Mosaic ordinances, Barnabas was sent with the same Apostle [Paul] and others from the Church of Jerusalem to relieve their perplexity.’
(2) [ The Encyclopedia Britannica states: ‘This ceremony is derived from the custom of public penance in the early Church, when the sinner to be reconciled had to appear in the congregation clad in sackcloth and covered with ashes (cf. Tertullian, _De Pudicitia_, 13). At what date this use was extended to the whole congregation is not known. The phrase _dies cinerum_ appears in the earliest extant copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary, and it is probable that the custom was already established by the 8th century. The Anglo-Saxon homilist Aelfric, in his _Lives of the Saints_ (996 or 997), refers to it as in common use; but the earliest evidence of its authoritative prescription is a decree of the synod of Beneventum in 1091.’ This reference by Newman obviously relates to the post-reformation Anglican Commination Service. Footnote added ]
As a service to teenagers and adult Catholics we aim to produce regularly, God and time allowing, the material from Hart’s Catholic Doctrine which was the handbook for catechetical teaching in many Secondary schools until Vatican II. The first instalment, the Introduction, concerns Our Lord’s Divinity. The accumulated parts we will place under the contributor’s button on our website.
Vigil of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 7-09-2013
The Pope has requested that today, the vigil of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has been designated as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, a request we are sure that all Catholics will willingly comply with – that is, if they managed to hear about it. The Syrian question is undoubtedly complex and the responsibility for the recent chemical weapon attack remains subject to dispute. Those responsible for that mass-murder and for any other deliberate attacks on unarmed civilians will ultimately have to answer to a higher authority than the United States. Civil wars invariably lead to the most horrific atrocities; the legacy of Cain’s sin is indeed severe. But the responsibility for the current war and its atrocities lie not only with those combatants directly engaged in that war, but also weighs more heavily upon those who support the destabilisation of nations to serve their own geo-political aims.
We are not impressed with the American, French or (now-castrated) British expressions of horror at the use of Chemical weapons against civilians, particularly children. A far greater toll of fatalities has arisen from the use of chemical abortifacients in all of these nations, a manner of chemical killing that has been legalised and encouraged by all these States. Also, all these States appear to be completely unconcerned by the fate of the Christian communities in Syria and in the Middle East generally. Indeed their policies invariably seem to ignore the effect upon the Christian population in the region – that too is a civil war in which the Christians of the Middle East are the victims of proxy wars or destabilisation campaigns waged by their so-called “Christian” brothers (in fact liberal masonic regimes) in the West. The jihadists are only too willing to take weapons and military advice from Western sources - the so-called “Crusaders”(or their “allies” in this undertaking) – to use such against the Christians in their midst. How perverse is that!
Disinformation is also a feature of all warfare and, as the Iraq war demonstrated, inconvenient facts cannot be allowed to get in the way of a force already programmed to strike. On a BBC news programme we heard that the phone transcripts which convinced the USA of Assad’s responsibility had been provided by Israel which is hardly a neutral broker in the area. We refer readers to this article by Pat Buchanan which refers to Israeli and other influences in this affair: http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/just-whose-war-is-this/
Criticism of the Pope - The Pope and Abortion etc.
One could not but reflect on reading the Pope’s reply to his Brazilian interlocutor regarding abortion, on the flight back from Brazil, that his reply would have satisfied what we call the Justice and Peace crowd. In an article in Apropos No. 16, 1994, we drew attention to the fact that the Justice and Peace apparatchiks in Scotland seldom if ever attacked abortion etc. In their defence they employed all manner of verbal gymnastics to justify their inactivity in that area - the essence of which was that pro-life issues must be dealt with in the widest context and without duplicating the work already done by other agencies. Exasperation at the Church’s inactivity in this area led to a protest by the veteran pro-lifer, the late Fr James Morrow, who remarked at a clergy meeting that ‘no organ of the Catholic Church in this country was meeting the need [to oppose Planned Parenthood]’, only to be met with what he described as ‘stony silence’. The Pope’s equating of abortion with cheating and lying did not go down particularly well with his Brazilian interviewer. The undernoted article, Descent into Darkness, by James Larson analyzes the Pope’s response in more detail particularly in the light of the pro-abortion and same-sex ‘marriage’ proposals of his recent hosts in Brazil.
Same-Sex Marriage – Tactics all wrong
We refer our readers to the following article by Hilary White concerning the Church’s approach to ‘same-sex “marriage”. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/how-to-lose-the-fight-over-gay-marriage-in-one-easy-step
Fatima - A Sign in the Heavens
To mark tomorrow’s feast day – Our Lady’s birthday we have posted Fatima – A sign in the Heavens by Arnaud de Lassus. It first appeared as a supplement to Apropos No. 3.
The Preliminary Battle
The Preliminary Battle by Jean Vaquié was published originally in the counter-revolutionary journal Lecture et Tradition in 1990 and then in issue 156 of Action Familiale et Scolaire (AFS). It was subsequently issued as a supplement to AFS No. 225, February 2013. It was published in English in Apropos No. 21, Lent 2003. We may consider it as a charter for the current counter-revolutionary struggle. The author outlines there three superimposed battles:
that of maintenance which has as its object the safeguarding the remnant of Christianity which still remains. It is called the lesser battle;
that of supplication called the preliminary battle;
that of the transfer of power allowing the return of Christian social order. It pertains directly to God and is called the greater battle.
The lesser battle and the preliminary battle must be conducted simultaneously and by the same combatants. It is important not to waste our human forces against an enemy who today is all powerful… but also important that we use to the full the spiritual weapons which the enemy lacks. This is the merit of this article which demonstrates this very clearly. Although the article naturally refers to the situation in France, there are lessons for all who are engaged in the counter-revolution because the power of the revolution prevails in all our countries. It has lessons too for the fight against Modernism in the Church.
The Disadvantages of Comfort.
In this short essay, The Disadvantages of Comfort, Dr Robert Hickson counterpoints Newman’s essay on ‘Religious Cowardice’ with Belloc’s essay ‘On Poverty’ to examine the danger of spiritual complacency and the consequences of spiritual cowardice, and the role of true poverty as an antiseptic against the suppurative reactions of the soul.
26th August 2013, St Louis of France
In its introduction to this feast, the St Andrews Missal advises us that St Louis ‘introduced into his chapel the custom of genuflecting at these words of the creed: Et homo factus est, and bowing down at the passage in the Passion when Jesus expires. Both these pious practices were adopted by the Church.’
The New Mass, to all intents and purposes, put an end to the former and although a bow has been reinstated following the changes ordered by Benedict XVI, it is observed more in the breach. In addition, the use of the Apostles’ Creed at the New Mass, rather than the Nicene Creed, bypasses the need for even this pared practice and perhaps also enables one to avoid the use of ‘consubstantial’ and the ‘filioque’ if one is so inclined.
It was of course Benedict XVI who confirmed that it is ‘permitted [for priests] to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal, which was promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Church’s Liturgy.’ [our emphasis]. This rite of the Holy Mass known to traditionalists as the ‘traditional Mass’ dates back in effect well over 1400 years. Mgr. Klaus Gamber in his work, ‘The Reform of the Roman Liturgy’ stated: ‘The Damasian-Gregorian liturgy remained in use throughout the Roman Catholic Church until the liturgical reform in our time. Thus, it is inaccurate to claim that it was the Missal of St Pius V that has been discontinued. Unlike the appalling changes we are currently witnessing, the changes made in the Roman Missal over a period of almost 1400 years did not involve the rite itself. Rather they were changes concerned only with the addition and enrichment of new feast days, Mass formulas and certain prayers.’
Cardinal Ratzinger commenting on Gamber’s work remarked that: ‘What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it – as in the manufacturing process – with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.’
Pope Paul’s New Mass which has now become the ‘ordinary’ rite has supplanted the traditional Mass which is now relegated to becoming an ‘extraordinary’ rite. Alas that adjective is not applied with the same meaning as it is afforded in relation to so-called ‘eucharistic ministers’ – otherwise its use would now be ubiquitous.
Benedict XVI’s confirmation that the traditional Mass had never been abrogated was in stark contrast to the opinion of the episcopal mafiosi who insisted that it had been abrogated and acted accordingly. Indeed despite Benedict’s clarification many bishops and priests act as if it were still abrogated, preferring that fabricated liturgy which they foisted on the faithful.
We often forget what effect Paul VI’s New Mass had on Catholics and we have therefore reproduced here Jean Madiran’s article, ‘An Abuse of Power’, which appeared in Approaches No. 50-51 in 1976. In the light of Benedict XVI’s admission that the traditional Mass was never abrogated, Monsieur Madiran’s harsh words regarding Paul VI are wholly vindicated. His observations too regarding the indult arising from St Pius V’s quo primum also bear consideration in view of recent restrictions on the use of the traditional rite in a religious order.
We have posted below a new ‘Kerr’s Musings’ – a column which appeared in the printed version of Apropos.
‘It might well be asked, indeed, why any one accepting the Bethlehem tradition should object to golden or gilded ornament since the Magi themselves brought gold, why he should dislike incense in the Church since incense was brought even to the stable’
G. K. Chesterton.
Some remarkably ugly Church architecture has appeared in recent decades. We hear that Our Lord doesn’t favour splendour, regal vestments and so on, but rather a noble simplicity.
There is a tendency to have a feeling that the Old Testament pertains to the Father, with the Son and the Holy Ghost each waiting to have His turn. However there is one will in the Trinity, so that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are co-responsible for the Old Testament. Hence the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost gave the orders as regards the Temple, and the Ark of the Covenant with its images of 2 Seraphim, the vestments of the priests and so on.
Everything had to be magnificent since God should be glorified as magnificently as possible. That being true of the Old Covenant, how much more so of the New Covenant? The latter being so to speak the crowning of the former, it surely follows that all that pertains to Divine worship should be as magnificent as circumstances permit, if possible surpassing the Temple.
Our Lord knew from all eternity that St Peter’s Basilica would arise in Rome if He sent St Peter there. He sent him there, so He approved of the original construction and all the work done there since which lends itself to that magnificence.
Offensive to pious ears
An early modernist, Fr George Tyrrell sarcastically suggested Rome should define pious ears. In fact a great contemporary, Cardinal Merry del Val, defined by example. It was said of him that a statement that was not quite right doctrinally, gave him the almost physical pain a false note in music gives. This may be taken further. The omission of a note may have a similar effect. To speak of the papal primacy of honour without mentioning the primacy of jurisdiction would be one example.
At Vatican II it was complained that the Holy Office condemned works without consulting the writers. Again we can define by example. In WW II, in North Africa, one unit found that if the two-pounder tank guns were sighted according to the Tank Gunnery textbook, then a shot fired at a target 1,000 yards away would fall 300 yards short. They informed higher headquarters, but deplorably only a very few units received this life-saving information. Those responsible for the original mistake were presumably not German spies.
The Tribunal of Faith is not supposed to be a literary review mechanism. It is there to glorify God by saving lives, civilisation and souls. It does this by expounding God’s truths and crushing errors.
It is often said that the Kingship of Christ pertains to former times. Apparently we’re much more mature than they were in former times.
In the 16th century, St Pius V, as Pope, was in the habit of walking alone through Rome saying the Rosary. Nobody bothered him. In the 18th century Benedict XIV would do the same, simply for exercise, so that you could see the Pope standing chatting to a friend in the street. Nobody bothered them.
Bishop Ullathorne mentioned that at Vatican I when one bishop had finished speaking very well, ‘there burst out an unusual applause, even to clapping and bravos, which were ruled not to occur again, as unsuited to a Council and a Church.’
St Pius X had notices put up for his coronation in 1903 stating that there was to be no applause. He explained that the servant is not applauded in the Master’s house. Pius XII expressed a wish that when he was carried in on the Sedia Gestatoria the faithful should sing a Papal hymn rather than applaud.
Gloria in excelsis Deo
The Angel Host sang the above ‘and peace on earth to men of goodwill’. The shepherds turned up. The Magi came down from Jerusalem. Only the Magi, why nobody else? On the face of it the men of goodwill were hardly a Host. However what about goodwill among pagans?
Our Lord later met Roman soldiers who had become monotheists because they had been stationed in the Holy Land. This suggests a pre-existing goodwill and an openness to grace.
‘Out of the Church no salvation’ means that everyone who is saved is ‘within’ the Church in some way, even if not in the perfect way which we call membership (which only Catholics have). To know the Catholic Church is true and not join it, or to suspect that it may be true and not investigate further constitutes a grave sin. The man who has never heard of the Church, or only heard a caricature of it etc., but desires to do what God wants, has Baptism of Desire, and would belong to the Church as it were in his soul though not in his body.
There are sins known as reserved sins. These include “one who throws away the consecrated species or, for a sacrilegious purpose, takes them away or keeps them”; “a person who uses physical force against the Roman Pontiff”; “both the bishop who, without a pontifical mandate, consecrates a person a bishop, and the one who receives the consecration from him”; “a confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal”; and a confessor who absolves “an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue.” In addition, canon law provides that those procuring a completed abortion, and apostates, heretics and schismatics incur penalties reserved to the Ordinary (the local Bishop).
Higher authority, perhaps Rome, must give permission for Absolution for cases reserved to it. Suppose a man confessed a reserved sin and died before Absolution could be given, he would so to speak have received Absolution by Desire provided he had made a perfect act of contrition.
It is worth noting that SSPX priests have had recourse to Roman authorities in relation to reserved sins. The Roman authorities have approved the giving of Absolution. This merits the most careful consideration of the implications involved.
Eastern Orthodox monks are likely to do more penance in a day than most Catholics in a lifetime. Doctrinally they are closer to the Church than any other non-Catholics. Suppose it were possible to write a letter to such a monk which would certainly convert him. Humanly speaking it would not seem much of a favour, he would have to leave his monastery, the other monks would revile him as a traitor. However such a conversion would give glory to God, and the Angels sang first and foremost of the glory of God.
30th July 2013 - Commemoration of SS Abdon and Sennen, Martyrs
Thought for the Day
‘It must not be concluded that the parental right in education is absolute and despotic; it is closely subordinated to man’s last end and subject to the natural and divine law. Leo XIII explains this in his memorable Encyclical on the principal duties of the Christian citizen, where he thus summarises the rights and duties of parents: “Parents have by nature the right to instruct the children they have begotten; but they also have the duty to ensure that the child’s education and training shall conform to the purpose for which God gave them offspring. They must therefore energetically resist any invasion of their rights in this sphere, and absolutely insist on having it in their power to bring up their children in a Christian manner, in accordance with their duty; above all they must be able to keep them away from schools in which there is a danger of their being infected by irreligion.”
It is moreover, to be noticed that the parents’ duty in regard to the education of their children is not restricted to the religious and moral sphere, but extends also to physical and civic training, especially so far as these are related to religion and morals…
… The function of the civil authority is therefore twofold; to protect and to promote; but not to absorb the family or the individual nor take their place.
Pius XI, Divini illius magistri – The Christian Education of Youth.
An Apropos reader has drawn our attention to a petition concerning legislation currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament and which derives in great part from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Our reader writes:
I would urge you to please consider signing the following petition against the surveillance of children in Scotland under the guise of 'child protection' in The Children and Young People Bill . If passed this bill will enable the unprecedented intrusion of the State into the home. This [petition] is from the Scottish homeschooling body Schoolhouse:
Known as GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child), it is already being used, and in some cases abused, by professionals within universal services and other agencies who have been routinely gathering, storing, assessing and sharing sensitive personal data on every child and every associated adult without express informed consent and in the absence of any enabling statutory framework.
Disguised as a child protection measure but nothing of the kind, GIRFEC has spawned a series of ‘wellbeing’ indicators known as SHANARRI which represent a universal prescription for a state approved childhood. It has essentially shifted the threshold for intervention in family life on child ‘protection’ grounds from “at risk of significant harm” to “at risk of not meeting state dictated ‘wellbeing’ outcomes”. Every parent in Scotland is now routinely assessed on his/her “parental capacity to provide wellbeing”, based on government defined criteria which, according to its own ‘National Risk Framework to Support the Assessment of Children and Young People’ (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/11/7143/9) places every child under five, and most older children and young people, in the ‘vulnerable’ category (thus liable to ‘early intervention’).
The Bill further seeks to impose a ‘named person’ on every child in Scotland (whose function, it is specifically stated, may not be undertaken by the child or young person’s parent), which is a gross intrusion into family life and completely unwarranted on a universal basis. The fact that every child will be subject to this intrusion by a stranger without opt-out, regardless of his or her wishes (or those of his or her parents in the case of a young child) renders it a disproportionate measure in that most children have no need of state ‘intervention’, compulsory or otherwise, in their family lives.
Our reader is right to bring this to our attention. In Apropos No.10, 1991 we published ‘The Convention on the Rights of the Child – A Critique’ by Francois Desjars. In that article which is now posted on our website, the author warned that the ambiguous expression, ‘the social, spiritual and moral well-being’ of the child, evokes ‘more an agreeable subjective feeling than a truly objective standard. One can easily imagine what will result, especially morally, from a liberal interpretation of “well-being” of the child: it is that interpretation which has every chance of prevailing.’
As can be seen from this Government publication (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0039/00394308.pdf ) the child’s well-being includes its sexual health (p.17) and one can well understand what that means in the context of existing amoral government policies regarding contraception and abortion. On page 18 we have the ominous question asked, ’Do those around the child or young person respect and value diversity?’ And if the parents do not value diversity (a code to include tolerance of the LGTB lifestyle) then what will the named person do then? We already know that parents’ wishes regarding amoral sex-education are already being overridden in some schools. We heard not too long ago about an adolescent girl who voiced her desire not to attend such classes. Her teacher queried, ‘Is this is not just what your parents want? What do you want to do? You know you have the right to choose for yourself.’
All such attitudes derive in essence from the Convention and were predicted by Francois Desjars in his critique.
Is the Benedictine reform well and truly over?
We refer our readers to this article by Sandro Magister which indicates that initial traditionalist worries regarding the current Pontiff might not have been exaggerated. We recall seeing a headline that Pope Francis was welcoming to all. So far that seems to be the popular opinion. His alleged comments regarding a traditionalist group who had offered Rosaries for him, and now this, suggests that traditionalists are perhaps not welcome at all – That may not be the Holy Father’s intention but it sure doesn’t feel welcoming.
29-07-3013 Feast of St Martha
The recent announcement that Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II are to be canonised, the former without any miracle in his favour, merely increases one’s anxiety regarding the modern process of canonisation. There appears, at least to this simple layman, an undue haste and a lack of due examination of the reasons why such persons might not be canonised – an examination which used to be undertaken by the devil’s advocate, (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01168b.htm) an office which was abolished by John Paul II in his Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister in 1983. It appears today that favourable acclamation is sufficient to begin and sustain the whole process with gainsayers as popular as a fox in a henhouse.
Would one be entirely cynical to suggest that, in these cases, the canonisations are not only directed at the pontiffs concerned as towards the fruits of their labour, the Second Vatican Council and the Post Conciliar Church? Saint Vatican II is perhaps also the purpose of these canonisations – as a device to sanctify Vatican II when perhaps a different process is more appropriate. We do not intend to list here the whole litany of issues which would have formerly been directed to the Devil’s Advocate by concerned Catholics regarding these canonisations – these have already been listed elsewhere in petitions and, as far as we are aware, wholly ignored.
But we have reproduced here Approaches articles concerning both pontiffs which concern matters which in any other age of the Church would at least have merited investigation. These articles concern the Rome- Moscow Agreement which related to the pontificate of John XXIII and to the Church’s relationship with the Jews which relates to the pontificate of John Paul II. We have also reproduced our own Apropos article concerning John XXIII’s “inspiration” to call the Second Vatican Council.
The Rome-Moscow Agreement
Rome-Moscow Agreement confirmed
Postscript to Rome-Moscow Agreement
The Jewish Question in the Church
Vatican II – Inspired by God?
Maurice Baring on War and on Dostoyevsky
As some European and American politicians continue to ‘beat the big drum and appeal to St. Jingo’, as Baring would have put it, in support of intervention in the Middle East, we would draw our readers’ attention to the essay by Dr Robert Hickson concerning Maurice Baring’s observations as a war correspondent in pre-revolutionary Russia and in the Balkans. Baring’s salutary warning regarding modern warfare as ‘an insensate abomination’ was clearly ignored by those who conducted the World Wars and modern wars which were to follow. Nevertheless, while describing the terrible misery of warfare, Baring also describes the nobility, love and charity which can be found even in the most awful circumstances – especially that which existed among enemies: the ‘many noble things and innumerable small forgotten acts which were beautiful, and among these perhaps the most precious are the unexpected surprises in men, the “self-sacrifice of the indifferent, the unworldliness of the worldly, the unselfishness of the selfish.’But, now, as Dr Hickson observes:It appears to be the case that a coarsening and brutalization started to take deeper root in the West during, and especially in the vengeful aftermath of, World War I. As irregular and revolutionary warfare became more widespread, so did the phenomenon of Total War, or “Unrestricted Warfare.” Now in warfare we have more and more impersonality, anonymity, and unaccountability—in part, because of advanced and remote technologies and various forms of trust-breaking deception and “perception management.”
In his second essay Dr Hickson continues to discuss Baring’s attributes as a war correspondent and his disdain for the corruption of language, a disdain which might help us identify the sophistry and prejudices of the mass media today. But the greater part of the essay concerns Baring’s appreciation of the great Russian author, Dostoyevsky. For those of us who also value Dostoyevsky’s writings, Baring’s incisive insights help us to understand more fully the Russian author’s grasp of human nature and whose ‘books do not leave us with a feeling of despair; on the contrary, his own “sweet reasonableness,” the pity and love with which they are filled are like a balm.’
16-07-2013 Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
A Salutary Lesson from the Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Bill
In the spectator of 14th June, 2013, Anne Applebaum, commented that she is often asked if her books on Stalinist Russia are a sort of metaphor for Obama's USA. She replies that it is not so and would only change her mind were the government's opponents routinely arrested, beaten and imprisoned without trial, and were scoutmasters, newspaper editors and symphony conductors appointed only by permission of the State.
On a similar theme Peter Hitchens posted an interview of him by Nigel Farndale in which the latter noted:
'But when I suggest that he [Hitchens,] sometimes exaggerates his case to win an argument, I am given a glimpse of his darker, more bullying side. He glowers at me and asks that I give him some examples. Well, I say, comparing the liberal revolution in Britain to the Cultural Revolution in China. It is just too extreme. Much as they might have secretly liked to, the Labour Party has never paraded right-wing professors wearing dunce’s hats. They have never committed human rights abuses or censored the right-wing press or imprisoned, exiled or executed dissidents.
‘Is it too extreme a comparison?’ Hitchens asks. ‘How old are you, 34? Well I am 47 and I grew up in a Britain that has completely disappeared today. That is to say my father was a British naval officer and then he worked in private schools, places where the country retained a lot of its pre-revolutionary characteristics. So I am older in experience than I am in years. I know an England that people in their sixties would have known. And it has changed utterly. And the revolutionaries have been quite vicious in the way that they have excluded those that haven’t agreed with them. They don’t kill, they don’t reduce to penury or chuck into cesspits, they just exclude. You don’t read Kierkegaard do you?’
‘No, neither do I. But he said the most effective revolutions are those that strip the essence but leave everything standing.’
Both Applebaum and Farndale have both missed the point made by their interlocutors. One suspects that Ms Applebaum's questioners are quite well aware that there is no direct comparison between Stalinist Russia and Obama's USA although, to paraphrase Malcolm Muggeridge, one might want to tell that to the occupants of certain residential accommodation in Guantanamo. But these interlocutors are aware that they are living in revolutionary times.
And the oft-maligned Hitchens hit the nail on the head. The revolutionaries of our day want to effect a revolution by cultural means. True right-wing (i.e. those who accept the Social Kingship of Christ or at least the natural law) politicians or political observers, public officials, newspaper columnists are not imprisoned (yet). They are excluded or subjected to a pervasive liberal environment in which they self-censor (with a few notable exceptions).
I recall, as a young trade unionist, being howled off a platform - having the microphone cut off - for daring to oppose the homosexual liberation movement in the mid Seventies. What was then merely a minor pressure group in society, but strong within elements of the trade union movement, is now arguably the most influential lobby in the world, and now having power at the highest level of government through its influence, and that of its proxy minions in our liberal establishment parties. Interventions such as the one I made then would be unthinkable today if one wished to continue to support one's wife and family. Such simple truths about the homosexual lifestyle would be considered as gross homophobia and evidence of one's unsuitability to hold a public post.
And whereas Ms Applebaum’s observations concerned Obama’s USA she might well be forced to change her mind in the years to come (French pro-marriage protestors are currently routinely beaten and imprisoned by the French police). There is an increasing intolerance by liberal establishments of what is described as homophobia but which, in essence, is none other than acceptance of the natural and moral law. And while the criminal law has yet to be invoked to any great degree – employment and civil law is being used and will be used to enforce anti-homophobic policies upon society at large. We already have the examples of the Christian Bed and Breakfast proprietors penalised for refusing to accommodate same-sex couples in double rooms. We have witnessed years ago nine firefighters disciplined for failing to participate in a Gay Pride March in Glasgow, (1) and it will only be a matter of time before teachers, clerics, lecturers, health workers, public officials will be sacked or demoted unless they actively participate in Gay Pride Activities to show proactively that they are not homophobic.
In support of this we refer to the document ‘ LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers’, a resource from DOJ Pride, the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Employees of the U.S. Department of Justice and Their Allies. Although this finds its origins in the US, its sentiments are already implicit in the equality and diversity policies being implemented across the UK. This document suggests that managers, ‘Attend LGBT events sponsored by DOJ Pride and/or the Department, and invite (but don’t require) others to join you.’ Elsewhere the document makes it clear that Managers are expected to proactively promote the LGBT agenda when it states: ‘Don't judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.’ Managers are also exhorted to use terms in the workplace such as ‘partners’ rather than ‘gender-specific terms like “husband” and “wife”’. (2) It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee bullying, by the LGBT apparatchiks and their “straight” allies, being applied to those who are invited, but decline, to attend LGBT events, or who refuse to use the bastard term ‘partner’ to describe a true husband or wife and thus offend the sensitivities of ‘gays’ in the workplace. The chilling term, ‘Silence will be interpreted as disapproval’ echoes the accusation voiced against the character of St Thomas More in the film, A Man for All Seasons, who insisted, in his defence, on the legal precedent that "Qui tacet consentire videtur" (Silence breeds consent). But, like the perjuring accusers of St Thomas, these modern Thomas Cromwells will not be satisfied until they can enter into the privacy of the human soul and conscience and force it to approve of their unnatural vice or exact a penalty – loss of, rank, job, pension or whatever.
The Henry the Eighths of this world and the LGBT lobby are not content to indulge in sinful behaviour. They want us to admit that it is not a sin: that their behaviour is natural. They don’t want anyone to disturb their improperly formed consciences even through silent dissent. They want to abuse our consciences. They want us to lie to satisfy their erroneous consciences. But as Solzhenitsyn warned us in From Under the Rubble(3): ‘ DO NOT LIE! DO NOT TAKE PART IN THE LIE! DO NOT SUPPORT THE LIE! … and then he explains ‘What does it mean, not to lie? It doesn’t mean going around preaching the truth at the top of your voice (perish the thought!). It doesn’t even mean muttering what you think in an undertone. It simply means: not saying what you don’t think, and that includes not whispering, not opening your mouth, not raising your hand, not casting your vote, not feigning a smile, not lending your presence, not standing up and not cheering.’ (4)
As the above DOJ document indicates, ‘not saying what you don’t think’ is not an option: it is tantamount to silence – a silence which the high priests of secular humanism will not tolerate no less than would Stalin, Henry VIII, or Herodius.
The nine Strathclyde firefighters were subsequently made to admit they were wrong in refusing to attend and provide fire leaflets at the Scotia Pride March (an event of the type at which Fireman are often treated as objects of an obscene ‘Gay’ desire, and, if Catholic Firemen, are subjected to the grossly blasphemous and insulting antics of the ‘Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ and other anti-Catholic acts). These ‘guilty’ firemen were also sent on diversity training. If this is not redolent of the Stalinist show trial and re-education camps then what is?
Colin Hart, campaign Director of the Coalition for Marriage, in an e-mail message headed, ‘Party Machines Push Through Bill’ bemoaned the fact that the Same-Sex Marriage Bill was undemocratic from the start and at the end, ‘with the parties using their power to apply exceptional pressure on MPs and Peers. Whatever the parties may say, we know the votes on civil liberty protections were not truly free. There is a very good case for reasonable and necessary safeguards to protect the civil liberties of people like you – people that believe in traditional marriage. Several courageous Peers tabled good civil liberty amendments, which we supported. But the Bill’s backers – including the leaders of the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and Labour – saw to it that none of them were voted into the Bill’. These protections were for teachers, workers, chaplains, free speech, and the right not to be subject to discriminatory action by Councils, for example, on the grounds that one or one’s organisation disagrees with same-sex marriage.
No doubt Mr Hart and his Coalition expected to be dealing with reasonable politicians those who would listen to reasonable pleas for toleration. Indeed the Scottish Bishops have made a similar plea for toleration to Scotland’s leaders in the absence of protective legal safeguards in the Scottish same sex marriage bill. The politicians, of course, save a miracle, will leave the lot of marriage supporters to the Equality Act and European equality directives etc. and will wash their hands when civil law and even the penal law is used to persecute those who wish to defend the traditional institution of marriage. ‘We legislated in good faith’ they will say. But have they.
I think we are seeing Herbert Marcuse’s ‘Repressive Tolerance’ being deployed.
Ralph de Toledano described it thus in his book Cry Havoc! (5):
‘“Repressive Tolerance” became the Ten Commandments of the repressive “academic speech codes” which it engendered. Marcuse argued in Orwellian newspeak that America’s supposedly neutral tolerance for ideas was in reality a highly selective tolerance that benefited only the prevailing attitudes of those who held wealth and power. Such “indiscriminate” tolerance, he argued, effectively served “the cause of oppression” and the “established machinery of discrimination”. For Marcuse, as long as society was held captive by militarism and institutionalised pervasive social and economic inequality, “indiscriminate tolerance” necessarily would service the highly discrimininatory interests of regression.’ (6)
Just as Lenin considered that that which served the revolution was moral, Marcuse considered that ‘tolerance was moral and real only when harnessed to the cause of “liberation”’. (7)
As Toledano explains:
Marcuse’s aims included the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion [which includes, no doubt, opposition to same-sex marriage], or which opposes the extension of public services, social security, medical care etc.
For Marcuse “liberating” and “repressive tolerance,” unlike “indiscriminate tolerance,” would be “intolerance towards movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left no matter how repressive.” He turned thumbs down on “sacred liberalistic” principles of equality for the “other side.” “There are issues where there is no ‘other’ ‘side’.” (8)
The absolute and determined opposition of Comrades Cameron, Clegg, Milliband and Salmond to include protection for pro-marriage supporters in the same-sex bills conform exactly to the Marcusian model of “liberating” and “repressive tolerance”.
Those who would still like to pretend that the British establishment parties are liberal or conservative or tolerant must realise that these are revolutionary parties conforming to the Marcusian model of cultural revolution: ‘One can rightfully speak of cultural revolution, since the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including the morality of existing society…There is one thing we can say with complete assurance. The traditional idea of revolution and the traditional strategy of revolution have ended. These ideas are old-fashioned…What we must undertake is a type of different and dispersed disintegration of the system.’ (9)
The destruction of the traditional family and the promotion of alternative ‘family’ types must be seen not as some by-product of misguided government policies but rather as a deliberate policy directed against the morality of existing society and aimed at its disintegration; a policy which is supported by all establishment parties. To lend these support is to take part in the lie.
(2) Although, were they to ape the Orwellian Newspeak consequences of UK same-sex marriage laws, neither of these terms could possibly be regarded as offensive as in one particular piece of legislation ‘ “husband” here will include a man or a woman in a same sex marriage, as well as a man married to a woman. In a similar way, “wife” will include a woman married to another woman or
a man married to a man. The result is that this section is to be construed as including
both male and female same sex marriage.’
(3) Collins and Harvill Press, London 1975. pp. 274 & 276.
(4) Ibid. p.
(5) Cry Havoc! – The Great American Bring-down and How it happened. Published in 2006 by Anthem Books, Suite 1010, 500 Twenty-third Street N.W., Washington D.C. 20037,
(6) Ibid., pp. 151-152.
(7) Ibid., p. 152.
(9) Ibid., p. 152-153.
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