53 March 2008
a ligno Deus
HOLY CROSS SEMINARY
FATHERS OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT PIUS X
March 1, 2008
& benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,
It is done.
The Seminary chapel has been entirely repainted - and the end result
is quite striking. The team of 8, including three seminarians, was
able to complete the patching, sanding and painting of the chapel
from top to bottom, and from front to back in one hard week of work,
so that we were not without it for even one Sunday. In addition,
however, it took the seminarians and Brother Joseph another week
or so to complete the wooden trim finish for the skirting boards,
for the main entrance doors and door frame, for all the paint had
to be stripped off to bring back the handsome wood finish, which
matches the chapel, augments its beauty and declares the greater
glory of Almighty God.
A part of the end result of
last month’s painting of the Seminary chapel.
The wall behind the altar is now painted a burgundy color,
to highlight the altar, center of the chapel.
I would like to bring you up to date with some aspects of the crisis
in the Church, everchanging in its modalities, but not in its essential
reality, a crisis in Faith as to what really is the Church, what
is its function for souls, and that there can be no salvation outside
this mystical body established by Our Divine Saviour.
Ecumenism has, alas, not ceased to be the great preoccupation of
the Papacy of Benedict XVI, as it was of his predecessor. It was
the theme of last November’s Consistory meeting with the Cardinals.
It has been presented as an essential part of the Pauline year,
due to start on June 29, 2008, to be celebrated especially at the
basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, at which the Pope has requested
be celebrated a series of “ecumenical events”. It was consequently
not surprising that on January 21 the Cardinal Archpriest of St.
Paul Outside the Walls announced that for the Pauline year a new
ecumenical chapel would be opened in the baptistery to offer “the
possibility for non-Catholic Christian communities to come and pray
at the basilica and to celebrate liturgy”.
GOOD FRIDAY PRAYER FOR THE JEWS
same ecumenism, this time with the Jews, was responsible for the
new prayer for the Jews approved by Pope Benedict XVI and published
on February 5, supposedly to be incorporated into the traditional
Mass. This cleverly devised prayer was put together on account of
the objections of various conservative Jewish organizations to last
July’s Motu proprio declaring that the traditional Mass had
never been abrogated. They took offense at the scriptural terms
used in the prayer to refer to the Jews’ refusal to believe in the
divinity of Christ, such as the veil over their heart responsible
for their darkness and blindness of their unbelief. The new prayer
removes, of course, all such expressions, substituting them simply
with the prayer that “they may acknowledge Jesus Christ”.
This is certainly to ask for much more than the prayer for the Jews
in the New Mass ever did.
However, if the removal of the traditional, precise terms to describe
the Jews’ sin of refusing to believe in the divinity of Christ,
is not compromise enough, it is the second half of the prayer that
confirms its ecumenical intent. Quoting out of context a part of
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that refers to the end of the world,
it simply prays for all Israel to be saved at the end of the world,
not requiring that Jews now presently enter into the Church, as
it does for the “fullness of the Gentiles”. It is clearly
not a prayer for the conversion of the Jews, here and now to the
Catholic Church, and consequently not a proselytism incompatible
with ecumenism. Bishop Fellay has stated that the Society of Saint
Pius X will retain the traditional prayer, now used for 1200 years.
Nor does it deny the Pope’s authority by so doing, for this prayer
is a part of the traditional rite guaranteed by Quo Primum and
that the Pope himself stated has never been abrogated. The Society
will simply retain the sure and tried, uncompromisingly Catholic,
traditional liturgical prayers.
Mr. Rayner paints the chapel ceiling with a roller.
fact, the Pope considers that Ecumenism and Dialogue are an obligation
for Catholics, in order that the believers of other religions come
to the same realization that the Catholic Church came to at the
end of the Second Vatican Council, namely the assimiliation of the
principles of the French Revolution as necessary for the “authenticity
of religion”. He has not changed his well publicized
opinion that the Vatican II document ‘On the Church in the Modern
World‘, Gaudium et spes, is an “anti-syllabus in the measure
that it represents an attempt at the official reconciliation of
the Church with the world such as it has become since 1789“,
that is an embracing of the principles of the French Revolution
condemned by the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, as well as in
many other Papal documents. Much more, he believes that it is now
the mission of the Catholic Church, through Ecumenism and Dialogue,
to instill the same principles into the other religions. This is,
at any rate for Moslems, what he declared to the Cardinals after
visiting the Blue Mosque, on December 22, 2006: “The Moslem world
is today faced, with great urgency, with a task very similar to
that which has been imposed upon Christians since the century of
the Enlightenment, and to which Vatican II brought concrete solutions
for the Catholic Church, at the end of a long and difficult search.
It concerns the attitude that the community of the faithful must
adopt towards the convictions and requirements that are affirmed
in the philosophy of the Enlightenment….It is necessary to welcome
the true conquests of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the rights
of man, and in particular liberty of faith and of its exercice,
recognizing there elements that are likewise essential for the authenticity
The philosophy of the Enlightenment was rationalist, denying
divine revelation, the Trinity and every Catholic mystery of Faith.
It was naturalist, denying the need for grace, prayer, the sacraments
and the Church. It was Freemasonic, directed opposed to the Church,
the Pope and to the clergy. It produced the French revolution, which
directly attacked the Church, destroyed the Catholic order and brought
about modern day secularism. Yet Pope Benedict XVI dares to affirm
that it is the role of the Catholic Church to share the acquisition
of these false, anti-God “rights” with other religions, as a pre-condition
for them also to be an authentic religion. Islam, like any other
religion, then becomes authentic once it acknowledges the rights
of man and religious liberty. There is here no question of true
or false. This is a confirmation of what Benedict XVI said at the
Ecumenical Meeting in Cologne on August 19, 2005, pointing
out that Ecumenism does not mean to bring about conversion, but,
to the contrary, the acceptation of the rights of man and religious
liberty: “this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism
of return, that is to deny and reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely
not! It does not mean uniformity in all expression of theology and
spirituality, in liturgical forms and indiscipline. Unity in multiplicity
and multiplicity in unity…” It is not just ecumenism, but authentic
religion itself, that is founded on the false “unity” of revolutionary
prepare the surface of the wall behind the altar
with a special undercoat at the same time as Br. Joseph
works on the confessional doors.
One man paints the lattice work and the columns
in the sanctuary whilst others work on the wall
behind the altar to prepare it for painting.
depth of the distortion involved in this vision of religion is furthermore
apparent in the Pope’s second encyclical, Spe salvi, on Christian
Hope, published on November 30, 2007, while not specifically treating
of Ecumenism, follows the same way of thinking. This technical encyclical
is largely a philosophical response to Marxist and materialist philosophy,
and to a purely scientific notion of progress, identifying their
illusions that allow for nothing to be hoped for beyond this earthly
life. In this all religions agree, as also in such statements that
“the true, the great hope of man…can only be God” (§27).
All agree, for he remains on the purely natural level, presenting
reason and liberty as the means to attain this hope: “Reason
and liberty seem to guarantee by themselves, in virtue of their
intrinsic goodness, a new perfect, human community“ (§18). Without
denying the “enormous explosive force” (Ib.) of the French
revolution, he nevertheless considers it as one of the two essential
steps, “of great importance on the road to Christian hope” (§19),
for “the French revolution was more than anything else an attempt
to bring about the domination of reason and of liberty” (Ib.).
How radically false! It was the destruction of the true understanding,
that comes from divine Faith, and true liberty, that comes from
The consequence is the development of a whole new concept of the
Redemption, as is pointed out by Father De La Rocque in his commentary:
“The Redemption, such as the encyclical presents it, is nothing
other than the revelation of the unconditional love of God for man”
. There is no question, in this encyclical, of sin, of satisfaction,
of payment of the offense made to Almighty God so as to open the
gates of heaven. Benedict XVI openly confesses that his inspiration
comes from De Lubac (the modernist theologian condemned by the Holy
Office in 1950, but made a Cardinal by John Paul II) (§14): “Sin
is understood by the Fathers as the destruction of the unity of
mankind, as fragmentation and division…Thus the ‘Redemption’ appears
truly as the re-establishment of unity, by which we gather together
again in a union that can be seen in the worldwide community of
believers.”(Ib.) Or as he explains later on in the encyclical:
“If this absolute love exists with an absolute certitude, then
- and only then - man is ‘redeemed’, whatever happens to him
in a particular case. This is what we mean when we say: Jesus
Christ has redeemed us” (§26). This is phenomenally explicit,
expressly including all believers in the unity of the redeemed,
as well as being very similar to the Protestant notion of salvation
through Faith alone, by simply believing that one is saved. Such
a concept of the Redemption is clearly quite acceptable to other
religions, who can accept that Jesus Christ is one of many manifestations
of God’s love, provided that it is not necessary to profess Faith
in His divinity, in the infinite satisfaction of Christ’s Passion,
in the sacraments, and in the Catholic Church.
it is in the consideration of the last things that this new ecumenical
hope is most clearly revealed. The Last Judgment exists, but the
aspect of condemnation of the wicked is pushed away as lugubrious
and menacing, for the Last Judgment is “above all and especially
hope” (§43), and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus “does
not speak of the final destiny after the Last Judgment” (§44).
The responsibility for one’s own soul in the Judgment is undermined,
for “As Christians, we ought never to ask ourselves only how
am I to save myself”(§48). The very existence of the fire in
Purgatory is questioned: “At the present time we can finally
ask ourselves if ‘purgatory’ consists simply in being purified by
fire in the meeting with the Lord, Judge and Savior” (Ib.),
for “certain theologians are of the opinion that the fire that
burns and at the same time saves is Christ himself” (§47).
Worst of all, Hell is redefined, and this without any mention of
the distinction between venial and mortal sin, nor any reminder
that every soul who goes to Judgment with unforgiven mortal sin
on his soul necessarily goes to Hell. “Some persons can exist
who have totally destroyed in themselves the desire for the truth
and disposition to love. These are persons in whom everything has
become a lie, persons who lived for hatred and who trod love under
foot…In such-like individuals there would be nothing remediable
and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what
we mean by the word ‘Hell’ “(§45). Hell is consequently
a rare case for somebody who has deliberately made himself evil,
and rejected all love.
This is not the case of mortal sin, in which a person loves, but
in a disordered manner, and breaks, deliberately, God’s law, meriting
eternal damnation. The Pope is very explicit about the fact that
the bulk of mortal sinners do not go to Hell, for without using
the term, he describes the reality: “In most men - as we can
think - there remains in the deepest part of their being a final
interior opening to the truth, to love, to God. Nevertheless, in
the concrete choices of life, it is always being covered over by
new compromises with evil - much filth covers over the purity, for
which thirst remains…What happens to such individuals when they
appear before the judge?...it becomes evident that the saving of
men can have different forms…It is the meeting with Him [Christ]
Who, burning us, transforms and frees us to become truly ourselves…But
it is in the suffering of this meeting, in which the impur and unhealthy
aspects of our being become evident to us, that salvation is found….It
is at the moment of the Judgment that we feel and welcome that domination
of his love over all evil in the world and in us” (§46, 47).
What a radical re-interpretation of the Last Judgment! Who would
need to fear death, Judgment, or even Hell, if all our moral filth
were to be purified from us in this way on the day of Judgment?
Why worry about the difficult practice of the Catholic religion,
about confessing our mortal sins? According to the encyclical’s
way of thinking, any religion that gives an opening to goodness
and love, and encourages some sincere seeking for it, is sufficient
for eternal salvation. Man has simply to be free to follow his conscience
in seeking for love. This is the height of the canonization of the
naturalist principles of the French revolution, purified of course
from all pure materialism. Everybody who exercises his rights as
a man and practices his religious liberty by some longing and desire
for truth and love will meet up together in heaven!
If I wanted to present to you the tragically revolutionary nature
of this naturalist and ecumenical hope, it is to remind you of the
gravity of the crisis in the Church, and that is not about to go
away any time soon. The true hope, that gives us absolute certitude,
is a supernatural one, that the Blessed Trinity will not abandon
His Church, nor will He fail, through the merits of Christ and the
intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to pour innumerable graces
into the souls of those who trust in Him, for “hope does not
disappoint, because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts
by the Holy Ghost who has been given to us“ (Rm 5:5). Let us,
consequently, maintain our desire to sanctify ourselves, to purify
our souls here on this earth, with eternal life as our only goal.
This is the grace that I will ask for you over this coming Passion
week and Easter period, dear friends and benefactors, through the
Blessed Passion and glorious Resurrection of our holy Redeemer.
in Our Lady of Holy Hope,
Tonkin completes the inner layer of bricks
on the apse of the cemetery chapel.
view of the same, but taken from the side.
IGNATIAN RETREAT DATES AT HOLY CROSS SEMINARY:
COME & BRING YOUR FRIENDS!
June 16 - Saturday June 21, 2008
Monday December 29 - Saturday January 3, 2009
Monday January 12 - Saturday January 17
September 15 - Saturday September 20, 2008
Monday January 5 - Saturday January 10, 2009
Monday January 26 - Saturday January 31