Saturday, December 22, 2012

Heaven is a Cruise Ship

The SS "Desert" Princess
The Catholic blogosphere has become somewhat agitated over the Father Z/Michael Voris "Lenten cruise".  I posted my reaction to the "Lenten cruise" on December 5.   There have been some great reactions from other bloggers, my favorite being from Terry Nelson at Abbey-Roads.  I love this:

"Well it's really quite simple, I'll say the black
and do the red, and you collect the bread."

"That's swell Ollie!  We should put that on a mug."
Most Catholic bloggers do not think it is a great idea to have a luxury cruise during Lent.  There are exceptions, but even they are couching their statements, thinking maybe a cruise during Lent is not the best thing to do, but let's not be judgmental.  They seem to think it is all about bashing Michael Voris.  I can't speak for others, but trust me, in my case that is absolutely not true.  

Then there is Tancred over at The Eponymous Flower.  He is in full support of this cruise, no holds barred, and he seems to have little regard or patience for those who disagree with him.

Tancred starts out by giving us the "modern, contemporary" view of Lent, which is that it is basically just like any other time of year, and there is really nothing special you have to do during those 40 days.  He says that those who do feel is it a more solemn, sacred time of year are part of a "newfound Jansensim", and says this view "borders on the hypocritical."
Edit: is there a rule against taking some form of recreation even during Lent? In a time when most Catholics don't fast during Lent , much less avoid meat [how sadly true], this newfound Jansenism on the part of some borders on the hypocritical.
Tancred seems to either have forgotten or just does not know that all Catholics were required to do the Great Fast until the time of now Venerable Pope Paul VI in 1966, when he said Catholics should voluntarily fast.  Of course, that resulted in no fasting, but that's for another time.  So Tancred's accusation of "newfound Jansenism" is completely wrong, in that this view is neither "newfound" nor "Jansenism."

Then Tancred tries to justify the cruise by saying well, going on a cruise with Father Z is a whole lot better than those Catholics who support birth control, abortion or homosexuality.  I certainly can't disagree with that. But how does that make a Lenten cruise a good idea?
For what could be worse? Supporting abortion, sodomy, the distribution of condoms and Marxist schemes using the Catholic name, or going on a cruise during Lent with Father Z?
Surely, some of these effete newly austere navel gazers [ah, the name calling that adds so much to his argument] have the purest motives when they attack Michael Voris and FatherZ for holding a Lenten Retreat aboard a ship bound for the Caribean islands.  [I, for one, am not attacking either Voris or Father Z.  I am attacking the idea of a Lenten cruise - there is a big difference]
Tancred now tries to tell us that those of us who oppose the idea of a Lenten cruise "would do well to take a close look at what they're objecting to."
A retreat can be a a beautiful place, even a kind of hothouse, with good food and companions, where a man can withdraw, retreat, from the rigors of his life to take stock, still his heart and listen for God's voice.
Christ's "companion" in the desert
Is Lent about going to a "beautiful place, a kind of hothouse, with good food and companions"?  I don't think that is what our Lord did when he went into the desert for 40 days.  First, I wouldn't call the desert exactly beautiful.  Secondly, our Lord went there with absolutely no food or water and no companions other than an occasional scorpion or other desert creature.   He most certainly did "withdraw, retreat, from the rigors of his life . . . still his heart and listen for God's voice," but He sure didn't do it on a luxurious cruise ship with great food, entertainment, and surrounded by others intent on worldly pursuits.  Thankfully, we are not required to follow the literal example of Jesus Christ, but we should try to emulate it as much as we are able to, at least spiritually.

Then Tancred tries to tell us that a cruise ship is a foretaste of heaven:
Most retreat facilities fall nothing short of luxurious and might be accused of providing a vision of heaven and are comparable to an above average to luxurious hotel. After all, what is a cruise ship but a hotel on the water? Even the more austere retreat houses are far from uncomfortable, but not all of us are Carthusians, or meant to be.
This is heaven?
A cruise ship provides "a vision of heaven"?  Does this mean that "The Love Boat" was the closest representation of heaven that we have ever seen?  I remember reading that "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."  (I Cor. 2:9).  I don't think the Apostle Paul would agree with Tancred that a cruise ship is a good representation of heaven.

Tancred, the problem is, not very many of us are ready for heaven, and in the meantime, we have to say no to our desires and wants, at least once in a while, and turn away from luxury and creature comforts so that we can eradicate the sin in our lives.  Holy Mother Church has given us Lent, a liturgical period when we can concentrate on eradicating sin in our lives in a more intense manner than at any other time of the year.  I'm certainly not saying that we can never go on a luxury cruise.  There is a time and place for this, but it ain't Lent!

Tancred now resorts once again to name calling:
Any way, the Catholic Church's own puritanical Jacobins are up in arms all over the place and the usual suspects are making themselves heard. Some of the most vocal critics have been on"apologetics" cruises themselves, which were quite expensive and frankly decadent, upwards of 10,000 dollars.
I have never been on a cruise, so I really can't speak to this.   But at least these "apologetics" cruises were not held during Lent.

Tancred tries now to tell us that this cruise is actually quite cheap:
The cost of going on a Father Z and Michael Voris cruise is $1,000-$2,000, which is rather Spartan in comparison.
The cheapest price for this cruise is $1,083.89, double occupancy.  Then of course you have to figure in the cost of air fare, transportation to and from the airport, clothes and other sundry items you may need to buy, taking time off from work, getting someone to watch your house and/or kids and/or pets.  (At this price, unless you are truly wealthy, a family is not going to go with the kids.  It will be, at best, Mom and Dad.)  And, of course, you know you will be spending more money when you're actually on the cruise itself.  If you're really interested in what a typical cruise costs, you can go here.  It's far more than the base figure given in the ad.  For a married couple to go on this cruise at the cheapest price will probably be close to $5000.   Tancred may consider this spartan.  Most of us out in the real world do not.

I can completely understand those who want to do this cruise.  They really like and admire these two men, and the chance to spend an entire week with them in beautiful surroundings is truly tempting.  It's not tempting to me, but that's neither here nor there.

It is ironic that both Voris and Father Z represent themselves as "traditional" Catholics who support traditional Catholic practices.  One of the strongest traditions in the Church was the Great Lenten Fast.  Yet, by offering this cruise during Lent, Voris and Father Z are actually pressuring people to turn away from the Great Fast and instead, do the exact opposite by indulging their material senses.

I can only conclude this the same way I concluded my first post on this subject.  I know how the DH and I are going to save thousands of dollars this coming Lent.

The Sad Tale of Father Z and Me

Pope Paul VI
The Holy Father has now declared Pope Paul VI to be Venerable, the second stage to beatification and then canonization.  The grumblings and rantings have started among  "Traditional" Catholics.  I posted a response to one such traditional blogger here.  John Vennari of Catholic Family News has not disappointed me in his response, either.  I'm afraid he is the voice of many Catholics who call themselves "traditional".  Notice the sarcastic, dismissive tone Vennari uses against the men chosen by the Holy Spirit to lead the Church, including and most especially our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  
The proposed beatification of Paul VI is nothing more than the triumph of wayward sentiment. Again we see Catholic terms stripped of their meaning. A beatification or canonization, once a sure sign of the heroic virtue of the person canonized, is now degenerated to the level of the Academy Awards. In the case of both Paul VI and John Paul II, it is a special achievement medal bestowed by revolutionary prelates on leaders who advance modernist causes.
Pope Benedict XVI, a life-long Vatican II progressive to this day, has shown himself first and foremost a disciple of the New Theology by agreeing to beatify its star icons.
John Vennari
Vennari, who considers himself a very devout Catholic, now blasts us with cynicism and condemnation of the Church, completely rejecting the Authority of the Pope:
The beatification of Paul VI and John Paul II also serve another purpose: it is a means of canonizing Vatican II and the conciliar revolution. The new program of Vatican II cannot withstand genuine Catholic scrutiny. It is a rupture with the past; it finds no support in Scripture, Tradition or reason.

The Conciliar revolution thus must be imposed by intimidation; not an intimidation at gunpoint, but an intimidation that overwhelms Catholics by proclaiming the alleged[??] saintliness of its most determined innovators. “Blessed “ John XXIII, “Venerable” Paul VI, “Blessed” John Paul II, new saints for the new religion [new religion? What does this mean?], all elevated to their exalted status by a new canonization process that dispenses with the devil’s advocate, and no longer insures the miraculous beyond all natural explanation.

The new conciliar program reveals its propagators as churchmen who publicly betrayed their Oath Against Modernism [he is including our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in this condemnation], solemnly sworn to God on the night before their ordination. The eminent theologian Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton warned in 1960 that the man who took the Oath Against Modernism, and who then promoted Modernism himself, or allowed it to be promoted, “would mark himself not only as a sinner against the Catholic Faith but also as a common perjurer.”[6] Pope Benedict’s Vatican “beatifies” such men.
I truly hope that any Catholic who reads the words of John Vennari completely rejects them for the hate-filled, anti-papal venom that they are.  John Vennari is no different from the progressives that he condemns.  He rejects the authority of the Magesterium just as much as any pro-abortion, pro-homosexual politician or "nun on the bus" does.  Satan doesn't care how he gets us, just as long as he does.  One way is as good as another, as far as he is concerned.

Father John Zuhlsdorf
I took a look at Father Z's blog to see what he and his readers are saying.  Father Z took a much more mainline approach, basically just reporting the facts and not making any comment one way or the other.  But his readers didn't hold back:

Here are just a few comments that sound very similar to John Vennari:
Gratias says:20 December 2012 at 9:51 am  Venerable Paul VI, defender of communism in Hungary, Poland and USSR, destroyer of Catholic worship through Vatican Council II and Liberator of the Seminaries.
* * * 
restoration says:20 December 2012 at 10:12 am  If dismantling the Church brick by brick is considered “heroic virtue”, we have many more “Venerables” out there who need to be recognized. What a sick joke this “Saint Factory” has become. What a failure of leadership and truth. This Roma Curia soils the name of those declared Venerable in the past with this abominable declaration. I am ashamed that the Holy Father allowed this nonsense to be promulgated. Pope Paul VI was no hero to anyone but the Masons. The nightmare of his Papacy has not ended for the average Catholic in the world today.
Everyone makes mistakes, but a genuine hero would have begun to reverse course once the damage was obvious and fought the forces of evil that dwelled in the Church. Humane Vitae notwithstanding, Paul VI continued leading the Church deeper into chaos long after it was evident to all that he had made terrible choices . His pride and obstinate refusal, unto death, to reverse his errors is only an example to others for what NOT to do. God have mercy on his soul!
* * * 
Athanasius says:20 December 2012 at 10:54 am  All I can say is, thank God these types of decrees are not infallible, because there is a lot to be said against. Not just Paul VI’s betrayal of Cardinal Mindsentzy for sake of being nice to the Soviets, but his presiding over and giving the Church over to the devil. He did not speak with a clear voice, he did not defend the Church. Bl. Pius IX, the truly great Pope of the 19th century, by contrast, fought heroically against actual physical persecution, namely that the freemasons took up arms to kill him twice and in the end succeeded in making him a prisoner in the Vatican. He never gave into the world, or presided over pro-abortion and pro-eugenics bodies like the UN.
This just seems to me, in nearly communist fashion, to beatify anyone who had anything to do with the Council. If we want a hermeneutic of continuity, how about raising to the altars Popes like Pius XII, for whom there is a documented miracle of John Paul II telling a man not to pray to him, but to pray to Pius XII instead. I see things like this and my eyes glaze over. More reason to ignore about anything coming out of Rome. 
* * * 
jacobi says:20 December 2012 at 12:37 pm  It’s all a bit puzzling. At worst this trend devalues the concept of sainthood.
I cannot judge whether or not John XXIII or Paul VI displayed heroic virtue or not.
But objective observation suggests that John XXIII was naive and impetuous, and that Paul VI was vascillating and easily manipulated. Both were frankly out of their depth in dealing with the acute and pre-planned machinations of the liberal and Modernist elements at work during and more importantly after Vatican II.
John Paul II was initially too pre-occupied with his native Eastern Europe and only belatedly woke up to the problems of the wider world.
Thank God for Benedict.  [At least this guy is supportive of our present Holy Father, but that doesn't excuse his condemnation of the predecessors of Pope Benedict XVI] 
* * * 
shin says:20 December 2012 at 2:10 pm  So have the Post-Conciliar authorities tinkered with sainthood and all that leads up to it too?
After all, nothing else was left untouched. 
* * * 
kallman says:20 December 2012 at 6:12 pm  This must surely be, at least in part, an attempt to “shore up” the status of the post conciliar Church during a time of increasingly critical retrospectivity [What the heck is retrospectivity?].
Pope Paul VI and Father Joseph Ratzinger
There were also some great comments supporting Pope Benedict's decision to declare Pope Paul VI venerable.  There was one in particular that I really applaud:
charismatictrad says:21 December 2012 at 9:38 am  Perhaps it’s been said before, but in order to compensate for all of the negative comments, I’ll say my .02, too.
Pope St. Gregory VII, in His Holiness’ “Dictatus Papae,” says that no one shall judge the pope. The essence of Protestantism is that each man becomes his own pope. Unfortunately, some of those in the traditional crowd fall into the error of making themselves their own pope. Just as anti-Catholic Protestants are hyper-judgmental of the Faith, so too are some traditionalists. On the one hand, they say “Hooray for Summorum Pontificum,” while on the other they condemn our Holy Father’s decision to recognize Pope Paul VI as Venerable. On the one hand they say that liberals do not understand Vatican II, but they themselves fail to recognize that the documents of Vatican II did not change the liturgy. I seem to recall hearing that, while addressing an audience, the Venerable Pontiff asked, “What has happened to the liturgy?”
I consider myself a traditionalist, but I have a tendency to prefer “orthodox” because of the connotations that have been (often times) appropriately attached to traditionalists. [emphasis mine]
I very seldom comment on Father Z's blog, but I couldn't restrain myself this time.  Father Z evidently doesn't care for my comments because, although he has not kicked me off of his blog, my comments are always held "for moderation."

Here is my first comment.  The words in red are Father Z's answer:
Brooklyn says:21 December 2012 at 7:45 am  Have we all become our own Magesterium so that now we can second guess the decisions of the Holy Father? Isn’t this what led to the crisis in the Church in the first place?
Am I mistaken, Father Z, that the declaration of venerable and the canonization of saints are among those duties of the Holy Father which are declared infallible? [You are mistaken. The Holy Father's promulgation of the Congregation's decree is not an act of the Roman Pontiff teaching infallibly.]We either believe Matthew 16:19 (“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed”) or we don’t. If Matthew 16:19 is not true, then we are of all men most miserable.
I followed up with this comment, which Father Z released after editing:
Brooklyn says:21 December 2012 at 11:55 am  Father, if what you say is true, “The Holy Father’s promulgation of the Congregation’s decree is not an act of the Roman Pontiff teaching infallibly.” [Yes, what I wrote is true.] then how do we trust when anyone is declared venerable? [You don't have to accept with religious submission of mind and will that this or that person lived a life of heroic virtue.] Are you saying that this is basically a political move and not done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the right to second guess the Pope whenever he declares someone venerable? [You are making this far too complicated.] 
In response to my question about trusting the Pope's declaration of venerable, Father Z says:  "You don't have to accept with religious submission of mind and will that this or that person lived a life of heroic virtue."  Really?  This is the same kind of argument that people use about approved apparitions.  You don't have to accept them even though they are approved by the Church.  If they're approved by the Church, why wouldn't you accept them?  And along the same line, if you accept the God-given authority of the Pope, why wouldn't you accept his declarations?  Is it really okay to instead sit on the sidelines and throw tomatoes at the Pope?

Further, I have to say, I don't know how I am "making it too complicated" by asking whether we are free to second guess the Pope's declaration of venerable.

Father Z edited out my statement that I was in total agreement with the comment by  charismatictrad, in which he spoke against judging the Pope and said that, in this regard, some traditionalists are as bad as progressives in the Church.  I also said that both traditionalists and progressives would do well to take note, which was also completely eliminated by Father Z.

I posted one other comment which I knew Father Z would delete, and sure enough, that is exactly what he did.  He did, however, send me an email answering the comment.  Here is my original comment as contained in the email I received from Father Z:
Author : Brooklyn 
Comment:Father Z, is there a reason why you will not allow me to say that I agree with @charismatictrad?  I've tried twice, and you've deleted both comments.  One was at the end of the last comment of mine that you published, and another you deleted entirely.
 This was Father Z's answer in the email he sent:
Say it in a separate comment.
Also, I don't allow discussion of my moderating or editorial choices.  Period.  It wastes my time and everyone else's.
Blessings,
Fr. Z
Father Z certainly has a right to put whatever he wants on his own blog.  He does not have to post anything from me or anyone else.  But as you can see, he refuses to answer my question about why he edited out my comment about being in agreement with charismatictrad.  Why would he allow some readers to post downright disrespectful comments against the Holy Father, but not allow me to post in support of the Pope's actions?  Is it just me taking this too personally, or does Father Z seem to side with those who condemn the declaration of Pope Paul VI as Venerable?

Here is one comment supporting Venerable Pope Paul VI.  Father Z's comment is in red:
Maria says:20 December 2012 at 1:07 pm  I hope Pope Paul VI becomes a saint. [You realize that Paul VI died in 1978, right?]
What difference does it make when Pope Paul VI died?  As I posted in another place, St. Gregory the Great was canonized on the day he died.  St. Anthony of Padua was canonized less than a year after his death.  Father Z's comment seems very prejudicial in regard to Pope Paul VI.  I don't like what seems to be between the lines.

I know that Father Z has his ardent supporters who think he can do no wrong, and if any of them should happen to read this post, they will get very upset with me for daring to question Father John Zuhlsdorf.  But we must always use the critical part of our thinking.  There is only one person in this world whom you can totally trust, and then only what he says in regard to faith and morals.  That person is our Holy Father.  With every other person in the world, we must listen with a critical ear and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know what is right and wrong.  At the same time, if you should ever hear anyone criticizing and/or condemning the Pope, just turn around and walk away, because you are not in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The real reason for all of the criticism leveled at the Holy Father, from both conservatives and progressives, is a lack of humility.  We think our opinion is right, and no one else has as good an understanding of what is happening as we do.  If we don't like something, we feel we have every right to be as critical as we want to be, even it involves the Holy Father and the Magesterium.

We have some horrific times ahead of us.  Here in the United States we are suffering from the very beginnings of persecution, but in other parts of the world there is outright martyrdom.  We will not survive the shaking that is to come if we are not grounded in the Foundation of Jesus Christ.  A major part of that Foundation is the Vicar of Christ.  It is not important that we understand or personally agree with everything the Pope says and does.  But we must not judge him.  Only our Lord has the right to judge His Vicar.  We are standing on very shaky ground once we allow ourselves to become critical and dismissive of our Holy Father.

I do want to make it clear that I am not condemning Father Z.  He does a lot of good things.  I have been at Masses where he was the celebrant, and he says the Mass with great reverence and skill.  I certainly admire his knowledge of the Church and theology.  But he is not the Pope.  We can't just accept everything he or anyone else says on face value without critical thinking.  None of us, including and most especially yours truly, are exempt from falling.

I'm just a little piece of the Catholic blogosphere.  Father Z gets more hits in an hour than I do all day on my little blog.  What I write here isn't going to make a whole lot of difference to anyone.  But for what it's worth, I do want to remind everyone that Pope Benedict XVI is the Vicar of Christ, he is the one we should look to as our final authority on earth.  Our Lord gave us an ironclad promise that He would never allow His Vicar to lead the church astray.  I do pray that all Catholics, both liberal and traditional, will stop all this arguing and bickering, finger pointing and condemning, and come to unity in the Holy Spirit.  We are faced with a fierce enemy who has taken control of a vast portion of our world.  He will be defeated in the end, but we need to make sure we are not one of his victims.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pope Paul VI To Be Declared Venerable

Pope Paul VI
I just recently saw the headline that Pope Paul VI is to be declared venerable on December 20.  I searched around the Internet to look for commentary on this story, and surprisingly at first found next to nothing.  The following is from Romereports.com and repeated on several different websites:
December 14, 2012. (Romereports.com) (-VIDEO ONLY-) On December 20, Benedict XVI will declare former Pope Paul VI venerable. Cardinals belonging to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved on December 10 a report on the heroic virtues of Paul VI.

The former Pope had a very important role in the Second Vatican Council. The acceptance of his heroic virtues falls exactly 50 years since the start of the Second Vatican Council.
The beatification of Pope John Paul II caused no small controversy in the Church.  More than a few of my traditional Catholic friends had some serious problems with it, feeling John Paul II had not been faithful to the teachings of the Church.  Many Traditionalists feel even more strongly that Pope Paul VI was the cause of many evils in the Church because of, among other things, his introduction of the Novus Ordo Mass in 1969.

At first I didn't see any reaction from the Catholic blogosphere on this story, but now the first rumblings are starting to emerge with a posting from A Reluctant Sinner which can be found here.  Many felt that the beatification of John Paul II was basically a political move on the part of the Vatican, and A Reluctant Sinner seems to feel this is also true in regard to Pope Paul VI:
The near infallible Andre Tornielli ('Vatican Insider',La Stampa) reported last week that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has “given the go ahead for [Pope] Paul VI’s beatification.” On 10 December, it seems that the Congregation’s cardinals and bishops voted unanimously in favour of recognising the ‘heroic virtues’ of Giovanni Battista Montini -- who was Pope from 1963-78.

This means it is highly likely that Pope Benedict XVI will now promulgate a decree of heroic virtues, granting the Conciliar and post-Conciliar Pope Paul the title ‘Venerable’. It is expected that the Holy Father will issue this decree on or soon after 20 December, when he is next scheduled to meet Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

According to Tornielli, Pope Benedict XVI is very keen to beatify his predecessor before the end of the Year of Faith, which closes on the Feast of Christ the King 2013. The Italian Vaticanologist explains that 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Montini’s election as Pope and is also the 35th anniversary of his death. He also reports that there are already two miracles attributed to Pope Paul VI’s intercession – one involving the healing of an unborn child and the other the miraculous and unexplained restoration to health of a nun who had a tumour.
It is my understanding that when the Pope beatifies or canonizes someone, this is an act of infallibility, not a calculated political move.  We may not understand or intellectually accept what the Pope does, but the fact is that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Vicar of Christ to mislead the Church.  We either believe this or we don't.  Mt. 16:19 tells us this: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.."

This being the case, I'm not quite sure how Reluctant Sinner can make the following statement:
Though no expert in the rather eccentric[?] field of canonisation [thank you for this admission], I am a bit uneasy at the way modern popes seem obsessed with raising their immediate predecessors to the Altars [and as a lay person, it matters what you think because . . .?]. It makes me think of the Roman Emperors, who would more often than not deify the Caesar who had been reigning just before them. Sometimes, and for the sake of decency, then, I feel it might be better to be a bit less hasty about these things – there is nothing wrong in waiting centuries before declaring someone a saint. Fast-track beatifications and canonisations can, sometimes at least, prove to be a source of confusion.
St. Gregory the Great
Hmmm.   Canonization is an "eccentric field"?  Plus, I have to admit, I'm very uncomfortable with comparing the Vicar of Christ beatifying his predecessor with Roman Emperors deifying Caesar.  Is it really the job of the laity to offer our opinion about what the Pope should do "for the sake of decency" and that we feel "it might be better to be a bit less hasty about these things"?  Reluctant Sinner feels "there is nothing wrong in waiting centuries before declaring someone a saint."  I wonder how Reluctant Sinner would have felt had he been alive at the time of the canonization of St. Anthony of Padua, who was canonized less than a year after his death, or St. Gregory the Great, who was declared a saint on the day of his death.  Does Reluctant Sinner feel these were "sources of confusion"?

After offering these opinions, Reluctant Sinner admits that he knows very little about "Montini" as he refers to Pope Paul VI.  (I find it interesting that those who are critical of popes will often refer to them using their surnames instead of their papal titles, a practice I find very disrespectful):
I do not know much about Montini. To be honest, I have never really felt the urge to seek his heavenly intercession, and I don't know many who have. What did he do that was so saintly, bar being pope, which is not a guarantee of personal holiness? Of course, he did publish Humanae Vitae in the face of strong opposition from liberals and modernists in the Church, and he also recognised that Marian devotion had all but disappeared under his watch, and tried correcting this tragic loss. He also appeared to have been a simple man, and a man of prayer.
Is Reluctant Sinner telling us that no one should be beatified or canonized unless he or she is popular among the Church laity?  I didn't realize that was a requirement.  I will admit that it is rather generous of Reluctant Sinner to give some credit to Pope Paul VI for doing a "few" good things, such as publishing Humanae Vitae, which as I have stated on this blog, is arguably the most important document of the 20th Century.

Liturgical abuse which become all too common in the Church
Ah, and now come the arguments I was waiting for.
But, it could be argued that the Church suffered near collapse during his pontificate, as the decrees of the Second Vatican Council were implemented in a way we now know to have been contrary to the real mind of the Church. Liturgical abuses went viral soon after the promulgation of the Missal of Paul VI, whilst Marxist ideology and lack of discipline infiltrated se  minaries, and priests and nuns abandoned their vocations in droves. And, of course, traditional Catholics were virtually persecuted within their own Church during Montini's [again using his surname] pontificate, as those attached to the 'old Mass' had to metaphorically take to the catacombs! (I am not suggesting he was behind the purge of the old rite [that's kind of you], just that it seemed most virulent and unchecked during his reign.)

As we know, Paul VI was aware of the chaos that was causing such confusion to the faithful in the 1960s and 70s, which led so many souls out of the Church. He was concerned about the dark clouds that had blackened the post-Conciliar skies. He famously announced, after going into a sort of trance[?] during his homily (see here) for the Feast of St Peter and St Paul 1972, that: ‘By some fissure, the smoke of Satan has entered into the Church.’ He therefore knowingly tried to steer the Barque of Peter through some of the stormiest seas the Church has ever seen. Some say he often went off course, whilst others think he did what was needed at the time.
The Magesterium of the
Church has been faithfully
guided by the Holy Spirit
since the first Pentecost
"Some say he went off course"?  Why would we listen to anyone who makes such a statement and, even more to the point, why would you repeat it?  We were promised by our Lord Himself that the Vicar of Christ cannot "go off course."  That is not to say that he cannot personally jump the track, but he can never lead the Church astray.  See above, Matthew 16:19.

Reluctant Sinner goes on to say that "It is a Christian hope that all members of the Church, all the baptised, will one day become saints."  He admits that there are many saints in heaven who are unknown to us on earth. He also says that most souls will have to spend time in Purgatory and that not all men are saved, which is undoubtedly true. But what has all of this to do with the Vicar of Christ declaring someone venerable?

Reluctant Sinner then goes on to give us more of his opinion:
Having said all that, then, I find it odd that nearly every pope from the time of the Second Vatican Council onwards has been fast-tracked to sainthood. Surely, there are holier popes than these -- ones who have been hanging about, waiting for canonisation, or just some form of recognition, for centuries? What about Blessed Urban II, when will he finally be canonised? What about Leo XIII, a great man indeed, or the angelic Venerable Pope Pius XII? And what about all the other saintly bishops, priests, religious, and lay men and women who already have popular cults, but whose canonisation processes have ground to a bureaucratic halt?
Again, this makes it sound like canonization has become a political move rather than an infallible act of the Pope, which I find to be a very disconcerting statement.  It is not the job of the laity to decide who should or should not be canonized.  I believe offering opinions such as these shed no light whatsoever on the subject and serve only to cause more division in the Church.

And now Reluctant Sinner give us what has become the stereotypical description about the state of the Church since Vatican II.
Since Vatican II, the Church has suffered greatly. The past 50 years have brought little light and an awful amount of darkness and distress for the Catholic Church. Surely, then, it seems a little strange to be rushing to raise some men to the Altars whose pontificates were not that great compared to some others. In centuries to come, will it be said that Papa Montini's [Papa Montini?] reign was one of truly happy memory?
Pope Paul VI
wearing Papal Tiara
Who are we, the laity, to decide which pontificates are "greater" than others?  And what's with the disrespectful "Papa Montini" crack?

Even though I labeled it "stereotypical", I certainly agree that the last 50 years of the Church have been a time of great upheaval.  I have done other posts on this blog about what some say is an unprecedented crisis of faith in the Church.

This crisis has produced basically two groups seemingly in direct opposition to one another, but I feel are, in reality, two sides of the same coin.  Progressives see the questioning of authority and the breakdown of traditional beliefs and practices in the Church as a good thing.  They feel it is time to bring the church up to date and more in line with contemporary needs and mores of our modern culture.

Then, of course, there are the "Traditionalists" at the other end of the spectrum who feel that anything that happened from Vatican II on is suspect and almost no one in the Church hierarchy, from the Pope on down, is to be trusted.  Some seem to believe that Our Lord has basically lost control of His own Church.  They may not realize that this is what they are saying, but when we read such commentary as we have seen here from Reluctant Sinner, there can be no other conclusion.  To even suggest that a pope "went off course" is to call Jesus Christ a liar, who told us that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church.

The unifying factor between these two groups is rejection of authority.

Since we know that the Pope cannot go against the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we have to ask why we have seen all these troubling events.  Why has our Lord allowed these things to happen in the Church?  Why is the Church of 2012 (almost 2013) seemingly so different from the Church of 1962?

I believe that our Lord has given us the answer to this question in the Old Testament, more specifically in the ancient Israelites' journey from Egypt, where they had been held as slaves, to the Promised Land, a land "flowing with milk and honey".

Moses parting the Red Sea
Moses, who was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, was most definitely a man of God.  Yet the Israelites, under Moses' guidance, were constantly rebelling against God and being punished for it.  The first sign of rebellion among the Israelites happened as soon as they departed from Egypt.  God, under the leadership of Moses, led the Israelites out of Egypt straight to the Red Sea, putting the Israelites between the Red Sea and Pharaoh's army, which was in hot pursuit.

From Exodus 14:
10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Now granted, things did not look good for the Israelites.  It looked like their choice was to drown in the Red Sea or be killed by Pharaoh's army.  But remember, they had just seen tremendous miracles that caused Pharaoh to allow them to leave.  They had just gone through the first Passover when the first born of all creatures, both human and animal, in the entire land of Egypt were destroyed by the angel of death, save for the Israelites, who were not touched.  Despite having just seen the Hand of God in freeing them from slavery to the Egyptians, the Israelites started moaning and complaining and accusing Moses, who was chosen by God, of leading them directly to their deaths.

Are we really any different than the ancient Israelites?  Our Lord came down from heaven, took on the form of a man, died and rose from the dead, freed us from slavery to the devil and to our own fallen nature, and gave us the Gift of the Holy Spirit, who is the Third Person of God, to guide, lead and comfort us at all times.  He gave the Keys to the Kingdom to Peter and all of his successors and promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church.  In 2000 years of history great nations have risen and fallen, and the Church has persevered, always coming through the ashes stronger than before.

Yet, like the Israelites who, as soon as they were faced with difficulty immediately forgot all the Lord had done for them, so we too forget all that the Lord has done for us in the last 2000 years: the great miracles and saints, the unswerving protection and guidance.  We moan and complain and accuse the one chosen and led by the Holy Spirit of basically leading us to our spiritual deaths.

"But," some say, "what about all of the terrible things that have happened in the past 50 years?  Pope Paul VI basically dismantled 2000 years of church history.  And now we're going to canonize this 'Montini' guy?  This is not venerable but scandalous!"

So why would our Lord, who promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church, allow so much scandal to occur?

Again, the answer can be found with the ancient Israelites.

Israelites worshiping the golden calf
Shortly after God rescued the Israelites from Pharaoh's army by parting the Red Sea and then drowning Pharaoh and his army in that same Red Sea, Moses went up to Mount Sinai for 40 days to receive the Law of God.  During his absence, the Israelites became restless and not knowing what had happened to Moses, decided to take matters into their own hands.  They made a golden calf and pronounced this the god who had freed them from slavery in Egypt.  They then began partying "like it was 1999," to borrow a phrase, engaging in all kinds of debauchery.  From Exodus 32:
19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
This seems rather odd, that Moses would make the people drink the golden calf, but this says to me that he is saying to them that if they wanted their own god, he would allow them to have it in full force and see what this "god" was really made of, that it was no "god" at all.  Also at this point our Lord was telling Moses that he was ready to destroy all of the Israelites and give the Promised Land to Moses' descendants.  Moses interceded on behalf of the people and God relented.  However, the Israelites still paid a heavy price when Moses sent the Levites through the camp to kill the worst of the sinners - about 3000 people - and the Lord struck the Israelites with a plague, killing even more.

God sent quail on
ancient Israel
A similar thing happened when the Israelites started complaining that they were bored with the manna which the Lord gave them everyday from heaven.  They complained that they wanted meat.  Moses said, okay, you want meat, you'll get it until it comes out of your nostrils.  Numbers 11:
18 The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”   
Again, when the Israelites rebelled against God, the answer was to give them exactly what they asked for, to let them see the full consequences of their actions.  They rejected the manna from heaven and wanted their own food instead.  So our Lord gave them what they asked for.

Pope Leo XIII
How does this story about meat and manna and the ancient Israelites relate to the crisis of faith in the Church?  The crisis of faith we now see in the Church is not something that just spontaneously occurred after Vatican II.  This crisis of faith can be defined by the term "Modernism".  Wikipedia actually has a pretty good definition:  "Modernism refers to theological opinions expressed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but with influence reaching into the 21st century, which are characterized by a break with the past. Catholic modernists form an amorphous group. The term "modernist" appears in Pope Pius X's 1907 encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis."  Modernism has been a creeping infection in the Church for over 100 years, and is something that Popes have been speaking out against since the time of Pope Leo XIII in the 1800's.  As noted, Pope Pius X wrote the famous encyclical, PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS in 1907 warning about the dangers of Modernism.  Pope St. Pius X also was the one who instituted the oath against modernism which all priests were required to take until the time of Pope Paul VI.  All of the popes up to the time of Vatican II warned about and fought against this terrible scourge that has afflicted so much of the church.

So why have the Popes since the time of Vatican II seemingly dismantled all that their predecessors did in fighting the terrible spiritual disease of Modernism?  Why did Pope Paul VI introduced a New Mass?  Why did Pope Paul VI drop the requirement that priests take an oath against Modernism?  Why did Pope John Paul II allow communion in the hand, altar girls, etc?  Why have we seen so many Catholics actively rebelling against Church authority and still calling themselves "Catholic?"

From Pope St. Pius X
The disease of Modernism, despite the best efforts of the Vatican, had run rampant through many seminaries.  It came into full bloom and infected the laity in 1968 with the publication  of Humanae Vitae, as I wrote in my post about Vatican II, which you can read here.  When soon-to-be Venerable Pope Paul VI released Humanae Vitae and told the Church and the world in no uncertain terms that the use of birth control was and is a mortal sin, subjecting our souls to eternal damnation, there was a major revolt among both the clergy and the laity that continues to this day.   This exactly mirrors the rebellion of the Israelites against Moses and ultimately, against God Himself.

When the vast majority of the Church rose up in rebellion against Pope Paul VI, I believe our Lord looked at us and said, okay, you want to choose your own way, you want to decide for yourselves and take of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and I'm going to let you do it. I have been warning you through the Magesterium for centuries and even more so during the last century, how deadly this decision is, but now you're going to find out firsthand.  Reluctant Sinner wants to blame Pope Paul VI for the fact that "Liturgical abuses went viral soon after the promulgation of the Missal of Paul VI, whilst Marxist ideology and lack of discipline infiltrated seminaries, and priests and nuns abandoned their vocations in droves. And, of course, traditional Catholics were virtually persecuted within their own Church during Montini's  pontificate, as those attached to the 'old Mass' had to metaphorically take to the catacombs!"

A world of difference between a Smart Car
and a Rolls Royce Bentley
The reason all of these evils infiltrated the Church is because this is what the Church wanted.  This is what they asked for when they basically turned their backs on the Vicar of Christ and said, "Later for you, buddy."  As even Reluctant Sinner admits, Pope Paul VI warned us in 1972 that the smoke of Satan had entered the Church.  If we believe the words of Christ, we know that it could not have entered in through the Magesterium.  I believe that since the Pope is guided in everything he does by the Holy Spirit, he was also inspired by the Holy Spirit to take away the beautiful Mass of the Ages and in its place, give us the New Mass, while most certainly a valid Mass, left way too much room for abuse as we saw in the following decades. It was like going from a top of the line Rolls Royce to a Smart Car.  The Smart Car gets you where you want to go, but what a loss.

We wanted to go our own way, and our Lord allowed us to do just that.  The spiritual catastrophe that followed was the result of our own willfulness   We wonder why the Popes since Vatican II have seemed so powerless to stop the rebellion in the Church.  I believe God has held back their hands in order to allow the Church to learn a lesson which she refused to learn any other way.  That is what we have seen in the past 50 years in the Church, and spiritually, it is more destructive than any war has ever been.  Millions and millions of souls have been lost, both spiritually and physically.  To have to stand back and watch this devastation must have caused unbearable suffering in our Popes from Pope Paul VI to Blessed John Paul II to our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and even to John Paul I during his short reign.  I have no doubt that just as Moses pleaded for God to spare the children of Israel, our Holy Fathers have pleaded with Him to spare the Church.

Pope Paul VI and future Pope John Paul II
This comment on Reluctant Sinner' blog echoes my feelings:
Catherine said...
The more I have read of Pope Paul VI's writings in recent years, the more I am totally impressed by him and by his complete dedication to Christ. So if the news is true, then I rejoice, and also think that it is well past time that this courageous witness to the truth of Jesus Christ was honoured like this.18 December 2012 01:53
Pope John Paul I and
future Pope John Paul II
I believe our popes in the 20th Century and now into the 21st Century have been men of remarkable spiritual courage and devotion to our Lord.   They have reigned over a Church that has been as close to complete chaos as we have ever seen in her 2000 year history.  Not only have these popes had to deal with a hateful, anti-God world, but they have had to deal with it in the Body of Christ on a scale never seen before.

Canonization is always a reason to rejoice.  Holy Mother Church is recognizing that one of her children is advancing towards sainthood.  We now have someone else who can intervene on our behalf.   And certainly soon-to-be Venerable Pope Paul VI is acutely aware of the crisis we face on this earth and knows what to ask for.  Let us pray to him that he will go before our Lord and plead that our hearts be softened and turned toward our Savior and His Vicar here on earth.


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