Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time To Turn In My Traditionalist Card?

In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis entitled one section, "No To Spiritual Worldliness."  The Holy Father defined "spiritual worldliness" as follows (paragraph 93):
Spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church, consists in seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and personal well-being. It is what the Lord reprimanded the Pharisees for: “How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (Jn 5:44). It is a subtle way of seeking one’s “own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21). It takes on many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups into which it seeps. Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything appears as it should be. But if it were to seep into the Church, “IT WOULD BE INFINITELY MORE DISASTROUS THAN ANY OTHER WORLDLINESS WHICH IS SIMPLY MORAL.”.  [emphasis mine]
Pope Francis is telling us that spiritual worldliness is counterfeit spirituality. It looks like it is from God, but it is actually from the world, which means it is from Satan. This is pretty heavy stuff. This paragraph is actually summarized in one verse of the Bible: II Corinthians 11:14 - "Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light."

So how can we tell the difference? When do we know whether spirituality is from God or from Satan? As Pope Francis tells us, spiritual worldliness can look like the real thing because it is "based on carefully cultivated appearances." So we know we can't go by appearances. Something may look divine but in actuality it could be diabolical.

In the next paragraph (paragraph #94), Pope Francis writes:
This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.
Prometheus stealing fire from the gods
What in the world is "self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism"? Taking it apart: self-absorbed, of course, is someone whose main interest is himself, who is basically looking inward and not outward towards God or his fellow man. "Promethean", according to the dictionary, means "creative; boldly original." In mythology, Prometheus defied the gods and stole fire from heaven and gave it to humans. Therefore, to be "promethean" in the sense that Pope Francis uses it, means to take for ourselves what belongs to God. "Pelagianism" was the heresy of denial of original sin and man's ability. apart from God, to choose good or evil. When the Holy Father talks about "neopelagianism", he means someone who believes they can choose good or evil without the guidance of the Magesterium of the Catholic Church and, by extension, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Father ends this sentence with "those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past." Instead of listening to the Church, they listen only to what they want to hear, only to those things that please them, and block everything else out.

Therefore, "self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism" is basically a Catholic who has made himself his own Magesterium, deciding for himself what is right or wrong in the church, and what is important and not important, completely disregarding the teachings of the Church's Magesterium. Pope Francis is warning us that this can actually take on the appearance of true spirituality because it is using the forms of spirituality without the substance, and therefore can be very deceptive.  This spiritual wordliness, as the Holy Father warns us, is self absorbed and not really concerned about Jesus Christ or others.

Another phrase used by the Pope which needs definition is "anthropocentric immanentism." Anthropocentric means "Interpreting reality exclusively in terms of human values and experience." Again, as being used by the Pope, this means interpreting things according to our own reasoning and excluding the teachings of the Magesterium. Immanentism means "being within the limits of possible experience or knowledge." In other words, immanentism means that we don't need the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who works through the Catholic Church, to lead us into truth. I would interpret this to mean that those who are guilty of anthropocentric immanentism are those who believe that they have the capability, apart from the Magesterium of the Church, to decide what is of spiritual value and what should be rejected.

Pope Francis, in the next paragraph, not only speaks of those with an "ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy" but he also warns of another attitude which appears to be the exact opposite but is actually just the other side of the same coin.  It is those whose "spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programmes of self-help and self-realization."

From paragraph #95:
This insidious worldliness is evident in a number of attitudes which appear opposed, yet all have the same pretence of “taking over the space of the Church”. In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few. In others, this spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programmes of self-help and self-realization. It can also translate into a concern to be seen, into a social life full of appearances, meetings, dinners and receptions. It can also lead to a business mentality, caught up with management, statistics, plans and evaluations whose principal beneficiary is not God’s people but the Church as an institution. The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. Evangelical fervour is replaced by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence.
Christianity is not about feeling good, it is not about self esteem, it is not about validating our own personal beliefs and desires. It is about being brutally honest with ourselves and allowing the Holy Spirit to purge us of our sinfulness, which is anything we put before God, including and most especially our pride.  It is about emptying ourselves of ourselves and making room for God to work in and through our lives.  And certainly it means listening to those in the hierarchy of God's Church who have been placed there by the Holy Spirit.  

Pope Francis is strongly cautioning us that too many in the church are putting their own form of spirituality - as good as it may look on the outside - ahead of true spirituality.  St. Paul stated it well in II Timothy 3:5 - "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."

In the next two paragraphs of his apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis describes what results from those who pursue spiritual worldliness:
96. This way of thinking also feeds the vainglory of those who are content to have a modicum of power and would rather be the general of a defeated army than a mere private in a unit which continues to fight. How often we dream up vast apostolic projects, meticulously planned, just like defeated generals! But this is to deny our history as a Church, which is glorious precisely because it is a history of sacrifice, of hopes and daily struggles, of lives spent in service and fidelity to work, tiring as it may be, for all work is “the sweat of our brow”. Instead, we waste time talking about “what needs to be done” – in Spanish we call this the sin of “habriaqueísmo” – like spiritual masters and pastoral experts who give instructions from on high. We indulge in endless fantasies and we lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of our people.
97. Those who have fallen into this worldliness look on from above and afar, they reject the prophecy of their brothers and sisters, they discredit those who raise questions, they constantly point out the mistakes of others and they are obsessed by appearances. Their hearts are open only to the limited horizon of their own immanence and interests, and as a consequence they neither learn from their sins nor are they genuinely open to forgiveness. This is a tremendous corruption disguised as a good. We need to avoid it by making the Church constantly go out from herself, keeping her mission focused on Jesus Christ, and her commitment to the poor. God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings! This stifling worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who frees us from self-centredness cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the Gospel!
As a "recovering traditionalist" of sorts, I have been confronted and castigated by more than one fellow traditionalist whom I have confided my doubts to.  If I raise questions and express concerns about some of the leaders of the traditionalist movement, I am basically told that I don't care about the Church and that I support all those who are trying to destroy the Church.  I have learned the hard way that in the eyes of many traditionalists, it is anathema to give open and public support to the Pope and/or the bishops.  Many traditionalists feel it is not only their right but their duty to openly and harshly criticize the hierarchy, all the while claiming they are loyal sons of the Church who pray for the pope.

Instead of humbly reading Evangelii Gaudium and asking themselves if it could possibly apply to them and/or if there is something they could learn from the Holy Father, many have instead jumped all over this document and mocked it. Their reactions have sadly validated the statements of the Holy Father.

 A prime example of this is from Christopher Ferrara, a self-proclaimed traditionalist who completely rejects all things post-conciliar in the Church.  It is his opinion that the years since Vatican II have been, without equivocation, a complete disaster for the Church and we should turn back the clocks to the pre-conciliar time.  Ferrara wrote an article for the Remnant Newspaper, a far right traditionalist newspaper, in which he excoriates Evangelii Gaudium and its author, Pope Francis, referring to the document as "A Progressivist Dream on Paper". If you would like, you can read his entire article HERE, although I warn you that you may feel the need to take a shower afterwards. His description of the apostolic exhortation is as follows:
For all its talk of a more open-minded conception of the Church’s mission, EG is a narrow-minded document, rooted in parochial, seventies era Latin American prejudices against the Church universal. Francis writes from the blinkered perspective of a reformist mentality that refuses to concede the indispensability of what the post-Vatican II “reforms” insanely suppressed: the Church’s Latin liturgical tradition, her intrinsically militant opposition to error as a sign of contradiction in the world, her essentially monarchical constitution as a reflection of the kingship of her divine Founder, and her very existence as a fortress against the Adversary.
Instead of leaving his prejudices behind in Buenos Aires along with his Pinocchio Mass and his lighting of the Menorah—a symbol of the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem—Francis would like to impose his outmoded parochial progressivism on the entire Church.
In reading the above statement from Chris Ferrara, the words of Pope Francis come to mind: "those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past."

Ferrara continues in this vein when he writes the following in regard to Pope Francis' warning, refusing to seriously consider the statements made by His Holiness and instead, mocking the Pope's words:
With the laughably wordy prejorative “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism,” Francis likewise accuses others of what he is guilty of. Prometheus is the Greek deity whose intellectual pride leads to his theft of fire, which he gives to man, and his eternal punishment by Zeus, while Pelagius is the heretic who taught that men are saved not by grace but by their own efforts. Nothing examples “promethean neopelagianism” better than Francis’s “dream” about “transforming everything,” or the hubristic, brutally imposed post-conciliar program of man-made “renewal” in a vainglorious attempt to please a hostile “modern world,” including a fabricated liturgy whose fruits are declining Mass attendance, widespread boredom, growing apostasy, sacrilege and banality. Traditionalists, on the other hand, trusting the Church rather than men, simply hold fast to precious traditions preserved for centuries by the Holy Ghost, which the promethean neopelagians of “renewal”—including Francis—insist on substituting with their clumsy and vulgar human contrivances.
Tellingly, Francis has nothing to say about the plague of neo-modernism that has spread throughout the Church since the Council, undermining Church teaching, making a mockery of the liturgy, and animating radical dissent in every nation. Rather, he continues to condemn as cold and faithless ideologues traditional Catholics who, in the midst of the ruins, have taken refuge in the few edifices still standing after fifty years of a “renewal” even he admits has never happened. This is unheard-of behavior for a Pope. And Francis behaves this way knowing full well that the various traditional societies and orders are practically the only places where the Church is experiencing robust health.
Ferrara displays the victim mentality of too many traditionalists.  He makes the following statement, "As we can see, it is Francis who “analyzes and classifies others,” deriding traditionalists—but only them—as neopelagian, self-absorbed, superior to others, intransigent, insidiously worldly, ostentatious, elitist, narcissistic and authoritarian."  As I have shown above, Pope Francis is discussing liberals as well as ultra conservatives, and says they are both guilty of spiritual worldliness. But Ferrara, displaying the self absorption warned of by Pope Francis, sees everything only in terms of himself and how it affects him.

Instead of carefully and humbly reading the words of the Holy Father, Ferrara engages in mockery and insults against the Holy Father and all who support him:
From our perspective, however, the most serious problem with EG lies in what we suspected was coming: a cocksure presentation of an outmoded ecclesial progressivism, long since shown to be a total failure, as a bold new prescription for the Church.
* * *
Like the liberal media, both modernists and their neo-Catholic enablers are over the moon about EG. Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter exults: “At times, the text is lyrical, like an aria. At other times, it has all the accessibility of a recitative. Either way, it is a song.” Say it loud and there’s music playing. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying. Comments like these are a sure indication that EG has little to do with concrete Catholic teaching and very much to do with a new papal personality cult.
Francis sings his progressive song with voluptuous abandon: “I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” Haven’t we already been there and done that? It was called something like “the renewal of Vatican II.” Does the Pope seriously propose a massive do-over of this disaster?
* * *
The lyrics of the Song of Francis resonate with the platitudinous cant of the reformist avant-garde of forty years ago. Francis’s dream is precisely what—in EG—he criticizes in the thought of others: “empty rhetoric, objectives more ideal than real (EG 231)…”
* * * 
If Francis were to succeed in implementing his “dream,” it would be the final triumph of the ruinous novelty of “collegiality.” And if it happens, we can be certain that the neo-Catholic papalators will continue to perform their paradoxical role of undermining the papacy by “blindly and indiscriminately defend[ing] every decision of the Supreme Pontiff,” to quote Melchior Cano, theologian of the Council of Trent. They will defend even the Pope’s decision to attack his own authority. Catholics of this mentality, to quote Cano, “are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.” (Quoted in Weigel, Witness to Hope, p. 15). 
In this entire article, Ferrara makes only one positive statement about Evangelii Guadium, and even that is made in a snarky, insulting manner:
In a document of 50,000 words spanning 223 typeset pages—straining the hortatory genre beyond all reasonable limits—one would naturally expect to find a good deal of orthodox Catholicism; and that is there. Francis is, after all, the Pope, even if he doesn’t like to call himself that and refuses to add the traditional pontifical “P.P.” to his signature on this or any other document.
Ferrara does not make one positive comment about the Pope in any way.  There is nothing uplifting, nothing beneficial, nothing to aid in spiritual growth to be found in this article by Chris Ferrara.  Once again, his bombastic writing literally demonstrates and proves the truth of the Pope's words:  "those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying."

Ferrara paints a picture of Pope Francis as one who hates everything that is traditional Catholic, most especially the Traditional Latin Mass.  And yet, it was reported in the same newspaper in which Ferrara is writing, The Remnant, that His Eminence Dario, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on October 26, 2013 during the pilgrimage of the people of Summorum Pontificum to Rome. You can read this article HERE.  In fact, the editor of The Remnant, Michael Matt, made a video with Dr. John Rao praising the pope for this Mass, which you can watch HERE.  I talked to a priest here in New York who was at that Mass, and he praised the Mass as well. Since this Mass was celebrated at the chair of St. Peter, it could not have been done without the express permission of Pope Francis, who seemed to have no problem with it.  So is it the Mass that the Pope takes exception to, or is it the attitude of far too many of the people, such as Chris Ferrara, who take part in these Masses?

Too many who are attached to the Traditional Mass seem to be at war with the rest of the Church, and Pope Francis is warning them that they are putting their souls in peril.  It is no coincidence that all sedevacantist groups have been formed by "traditional" Catholics.  These groups are the ones described by the Pope as those "who would rather be the general of a defeated army than a mere private in a unit which continues to fight".  Just recently, Cardinal Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, confirmed that the Society of St. Pius X, supported by many Traditionalists, is in formal schism, meaning that their sacraments are invalid. It is very dangerous for a Catholic to set himself in opposition to the Vicar of Christ because you are putting yourself on a potential path to separation from the Church, and that, unfortunately, is true for many of those who call themselves traditional.  

Traditionalists need to stop attacking the Church.  They need to calm down.  Yes, we have problems in the church, just as there have always been problems.  The answer has never been to attack the hierarchy of the Church, and most especially never to attack the Pope.  He needs our prayers, not our constant criticisms and belittling as Chris Ferrara does in this article.

Ferrara ends his article as follows:
Our readers know how hard The Remnant has tried to put the best face on Francis’s seemingly endless torrent of crowd-pleasing utterances. The Editor has even counseled against “piling on” the Pope. But this circus has gone far enough. I hereby exercise my God-given right to protest the Pope’s abuse of his office, which reopens wounds that were slowly healing—thanks to Pope Benedict—reignites the very divisions Francis professes to deplore (cf. EG 98), and degrades the Church’s image, to the world’s delight, with the spectacle of a Pope publicly hectoring and humiliating his own sheep for nothing more than their fidelity to Tradition.
Chris Ferrara never, at any point in this article, tries to understand what the Pope is saying. He gives no clarification whatsoever to the Pope's words. The whole thrust of the article is to belittle and demean His Holiness and the document he wrote, basically telling his readers to ignore Pope Francis. Ferrara's words do nothing to unite the Church but on the contrary, his words cause great division among Catholics and engender animosity towards the Holy Father.

The section following "No To Spiritual Worldliness" in the pope's document is entitled, "No to warring among ourselves!" This is actually a continuation of the Pope's thoughts in which he discusses the end results of spiritual worldliness.

From Pope Francis:
98. How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities! In our neighbourhoods and in the workplace, how many wars are caused by envy and jealousy, even among Christians! Spiritual worldliness leads some Christians to war with other Christians who stand in the way of their quest for power, prestige, pleasure and economic security. Some are even no longer content to live as part of the greater Church community but stoke a spirit of exclusivity, creating an “inner circle”. Instead of belonging to the whole Church in all its rich variety, they belong to this or that group which thinks itself different or special.
Someone recently sent me an article entitled, "Letter of Saint Athanasius to His Flock."  You can read the entire article HERE. St. Athanasius was a great warrior against the Arian heresy in the fourth century. This terrible heresy had taken over a vast majority of the Church at that time. Traditionalists, according to this article, now see themselves as modern day Athanasius, fighting against the terrible heresies in the Church, including and maybe especially those coming from the Pope. These traditionalists see Magesterium of the Catholic Church as their enemy.  As this article says,
Another point the Arian crisis brings out is that Catholics true to the traditional faith may have to worship outside the official Churches, their parish churches and even to avoid them as schools of impiety. It proves that Catholics may even have to suffer false denunciation and excommunication for their beliefs as St. Athanasius suffered:
This is exactly what Pope Francis is warning against.  This is the work of the devil to separate brethren, leading some to believe that they are special and that they will be the ones to save the Church from herself.  They believe they may have to do this by actually physically separating from Mother Church, which they feel has fallen into apostasy.  Every statement uttered by the Pope or the bishops, every event, every document published, is filtered through this distorted belief, as can be seen in the article by Chris Ferrara.

Pope Francis reaches out to them with love and concern:
100. Those wounded by historical divisions find it difficult to accept our invitation to forgiveness and reconciliation, since they think that we are ignoring their pain or are asking them to give up their memory and ideals. But if they see the witness of authentically fraternal and reconciled communities, they will find that witness luminous and attractive. It always pains me greatly to discover how some Christian communities, and even consecrated persons, can tolerate different forms of enmity, division, calumny, defamation, vendetta, jealousy and the desire to impose certain ideas at all costs, even to persecutions which appear as veritable witch hunts. Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?
Could anyone point to Chris Ferrara's screed as a tool of evangelization?  Or could the article about St. Athanasius be used to evangelize?  Again, these examples point to the truth of Pope Francis' words, "It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity."

As long as people turn away from the Pope and listen to the poisonous venom coming from "traditionalists" like Chris Ferrara, we will continue to see more and more division in the Church, and I truly fear a great schism may happen with traditionalists at the center of it.  I think Pope Francis has this same fear.  In fact, it has actually already started to happen, as can be seen with the numerous groups already in schism.

Pope Francis exhorts us to turn away from our differences with one another and to allow the love of the Holy Spirit fill our hearts:
101. Let us ask the Lord to help us understand the law of love. How good it is to have this law! How much good it does us to love one another, in spite of everything. Yes, in spite of everything! Saint Paul’s exhortation is directed to each of us: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). And again: “Let us not grow weary in doing what is right” (Gal 6:9). We all have our likes and dislikes, and perhaps at this very moment we are angry with someone. At least let us say to the Lord: “Lord, I am angry with this person, with that person. I pray to you for him and for her”. To pray for a person with whom I am irritated is a beautiful step forward in love, and an act of evangelization. Let us do it today! Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the ideal of fraternal love!
Coffee cup sold by Father
John Zuhlsdorf, which he earnestly
needs to rethink
The Traditional Latin Mass is beautiful and can be a source of great grace and holiness. But too many in the Church have used it as a weapon to turn others against the Magesterium of the Church and to cut them off from the Church itself. This most certainly is not true of all who are devotees of the Latin Mass. However, just speaking from personal experience, I have met only a handful of self-proclaimed traditionalists who do not harbor some level of suspicion and wariness concerning the Magesterium of the Church. The spirituality of many who call themselves traditionalists, as Pope Francis warns us, "hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church." but, in the words of Pope Francis, as good as it may look, this spirituality is not seeking the Lord’s glory but human glory.

Pope Francis is not just "another guy" with an opinion. He is the Vicar of Christ, Christ's representative on earth. Notwithstanding the calumnious statements of many, Pope Francis is not an enemy of the Church who wishes to destroy us. He has been chosen and led by the Holy Spirit to guide the people of God. Our Lord tells us that the Pope has the authority to loose and to bind. That means we need to listen to him, not just looking to put down everything he says and does, but to listen with humble and sincere hearts, because not to listen to Christ's Vicar is to put our eternal lives in peril.

Where Peter is, there is the church... he who is not with the Pope is not with God, and who desires to be with God must be with the Pope.
Sister Lucia of Fatima

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pope Francis, the Blessed Mother and the Lesson of Silence

Pope Francis can never be accused of not getting people's attention.  He has done it once again with a statement regarding the Blessed Mother, and many of the traditional blogs have responded by calling the Pope "Protestant" or even "blasphemer".

Ebougis, in his continuing swipes against Pope Francis, tells us that "the Holy Father has decided to put a little arsenic in the collective egg nog." Ebougis links to The Eponymous Flower, who asks, "Is Pope Francis forming Marian theology? Mary not as co-redeemer, but as a rebel?" Angelqueen.org offered an article entitled, "Pope Francis Ignites Another Controversy?" One Catholic forum website entitled, "Suscipe Domine" had a thread entitled, "Pope Francis Insults Mary" with such comments as "In St. Nicholas fashion, is it ok if I imagine St. Louis de Montfort decking our Pope?

John Vennari of Catholic Family News was not to be left behind. He wrote an article entitled, "Pope Francis' Protestant Meditation On Our Lady."  Mr. Vennari states, "This meditation puts the Queen of Prophets on the same level as the blind Pharisees who had no idea of what Our Lord was talking about when Jesus told them He was establishing His Kingdom."  He goes on to write that  Pope Francis "continually utters confusing statements that leave Catholics reeling the world over. The above statement about Our Lady is certainly one of the most troublesome."

What is all the consternation about? Read on.

The Holy Father was reflecting on the Gospel from Friday, December 20, which was the story of the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to our Blessed Mother. Pope Francis talked about how important silence is in our spiritual lives, and how the Blessed Mother lived her life in silence. It is in the silence that we experience the great mystery of God.  God does not work in loud fanfare, but in silence, in the depths our hearts.  From Vatican Radio:
Only silence guards the mystery of the journey that a person walks with God, said Pope Francis in his homily at Mass on Friday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. May the Lord, the Pope added, give us “the grace to love the silence”, which needs to be guarded from all publicity.
In the history of salvation, neither in the clamour nor in the blatant, but the shadows and the silence are the places in which God chose to reveal himself to humankind.
The imperceptible reality from which his mystery, from time to time, took visible form, took flesh. The Pope’s reflections were inspired by the Annunciation, which was today’s Gospel reading, in particular the passage in which the angel tells Mary that the power of the Most High would “overshadow” her. The shadow, which has almost the same quality as the cloud, with which God protected the Jews in the desert, the Pope said.
“The Lord always took care of the mystery and hid the mystery. He did not publicize the mystery. A mystery that publicizes itself is not Christian; it is not the mystery of God: it is a fake mystery! And this is what happened to Our Lady, when she received her Son: the mystery of her virginal motherhood is hidden. It is hidden her whole life! And she knew it. This shadow of God in our lives helps us to discover our own mystery: the mystery of our encounter with the Lord, our mystery of our life’s journey with the Lord.
“Each of us,” affirmed the Pope, “knows how mysteriously the Lord works in our hearts, in our souls.” And what is “the cloud, the power, the way the Holy Spirit covers our mystery?”
“This cloud in us, in our lives is called silence: the silence is exactly the cloud that covers the mystery of our relationship with the Lord, of our holiness and of our sins. This mystery that we cannot explain. But when there is no silence in our lives, the mystery is lost, it goes away. Guarding the mystery with silence! That is the cloud, that is the power of God for us, that is the strength of the Holy Spirit.

The Mother of Jesus was the perfect icon of silence. From the proclamation of her exceptional maternity at Calvary. The Pope said he thinks about “how many times she remained quiet and how many times she did not say that which she felt in order to guard the mystery of her relationship with her Son,” up until the most raw silence “at the foot of the cross”.
These statements of Pope Francis are borne out in Luke 2:19. In telling the story of the birth of Christ and all of the miraculous events surrounding this birth, Luke tells us, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord, the holy Simeon blessed the Child and made the great pronouncement that "my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel". However, Luke tells us that "The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him." Neither Mary nor Joseph understood the full import of Simeon's words, but they "marveled", pondering the words of Simeon in silence.

The only time we come even close to hearing Mary's commentary on the events of her Son's life of which she was an intimate part is when, after three days of not knowing where Jesus was, Mary found Him at the temple and said, to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." (Luke 2:48). Our Blessed Mother was experiencing her own Dark Night of the Soul, and she wanted to know why her Son caused her so much angst. His response, "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?" gave no light to Mary's understanding, as scripture tells us: "But they [Joseph and Mary] did not understand what he was saying to them." (Luke 2:41-50). But as the Pope tells us, Mary remained "the perfect icon of silence".

These few scriptures make it evident that our Blessed Mother did not always, and in fact, may have never had a complete understanding of the events in her and her Son's life right up to and including the events at Calvary.  Continuing on with the words of Pope Francis:
“The Gospel does not tell us anything: if she spoke a word or not… She was silent, but in her heart, how many things told the Lord! ‘You, that day, this and the other that we read, you had told me that he would be great, you had told me that you would have given him the throne of David, his forefather, that he would have reigned forever and now I see him there!’ Our Lady was human! And perhaps she even had the desire to say: ‘Lies! I was deceived!’ John Paul II would say this, speaking about Our Lady in that moment. But she, with her silence, hid the mystery that she did not understand and with this silence allowed for this mystery to grow and blossom in hope.”
Is it really possible that Mary, the sinless Mother of God, could have been tempted to accuse God of deceiving her?  Has Pope Francis, as so many accuse him, stepped over the line with this statement?

Father Frederick Faber wrote a wonderful book which I highly recommend entitled, "The Foot of the Cross: or, The Sorrows of Mary" which explores the tremendous suffering Our Lady endured during her lifetime.  As Father Faber writes, "When we think how we can best describe our Lady's dolours, it gradually dawns on us that they are in fact indescribable."

Father Faber goes on to state:  "Whatever cruelty was exercised upon the bodies of the martyrs was light, or rather it was nothing, compared to the cruelty of Mary's passion.  St. Bernardine of Siena says that so great was the dolour of the Blessed Virgin that if it was subdivided and parceled out among all creatures capable of suffering, they would perish instantly"  and "Even in respect of corporal anguish Mary exceeded the martyrs.  Her whole being was drenched with bitterness.  The swords in her soul reached to every nerve and fibre in he frame, and we can hardly doubt but that her sinless body with its exquisite perfections was delicately framed for suffering beyond all others, but that of her Son."

Father Faber himself makes a pretty controversial statement in the following:  "Jesus, the joy of the martyrs, is the executioner of His Mother.  Twice over to say the least, if not a third time also, did He crucify her, once by His Human Nature, once by His Divine, if indeed Body and Soul did not make two crucifixions from the Human Nature only.  No martyrdom was ever like to this."   Father Faber calls Jesus the executioner of His Mother.  Can you imagine the uproar that would result if Pope Francis said this?

Outside of Jesus Christ, Mary was the most perfect human who ever lived, the only sinless human.  But the fact remains that she was human.  It is only logical that because she was human, she was subject to temptation, just as Jesus Himself was subject to temptation:  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin."  (Hebrews 4:15)  If Jesus was subject to temptation, why is it so controversial to believe that His Mother was also subject to temptation (yet without sin), especially in the incredible suffering she endured at Calvary along with her Son?

Those who take offense at Pope Francis' statement do so by saying that Mary had foreknowledge of the events at Calvary, so how could she possibly have been tempted to accuse God of lying?  (And please note, the Pope does not say or hint in any way that Mary gave into such a temptation.)  Jesus Christ, unlike His Mother, had complete and total understanding of the events in His Life, and knew even better than she did how vital Calvary was to the salvation of mankind.  Yet in the Garden of Gethsemane, He actually asked the Father to remove the cup of suffering.  And one of His last statements from the Cross was, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  Did this mean that Jesus did not know what was going to happen when He was dying? That is absurd.

Pope Francis has given us a tremendous lesson that far too many are missing because of their judgmental attitude.  Pope Francis is telling us that our human side will always be subject to temptation and to rebellion.  The devil will always be whispering in our ears, just as He did with Our Lord and our Blessed Mother.  How do we not give in to these temptations?

Pope Francis tells us the best way to combat this is to remain in silence with God, just as Mary did. When Mary was confronted with events or circumstances she did not understand, she dealt with them in silence, taking them to God and letting Him sort it out.  "But she, with her silence, hid the mystery that she did not understand and with this silence allowed for this mystery to grow and blossom in hope." She "pondered in her heart."  Silence with God draws us close to him and reveals what we do not understand.  

Today, almost no one "ponders in their heart." They just go to the Internet and start accusing those with whom they disagree of being bad Catholics, heretics, etc., not hesitating even if that person they are accusing is the Vicar of Christ. They condemn anyone who disagrees with them, and as a result, they never come to any real understanding. How much better would it be if we took this in silence to the Lord and "allow the mystery to grow and blossom in hope"?

Yes, it is very possible that Mary was tempted when at the foot of the Cross.  If she was not actually tempted then, then certainly there was other times, but we know that she never once gave into any temptation.  Our Blessed Mother shows us the way to deal with the sometimes conflicting, confusing circumstances in our lives, when nothing seems to make sense and evil seems to be defeating good.  As Pope Francis explains, Mary "hid the mystery that she did not understand and with this silence allowed for this mystery to grow and blossom in hope."  

In order to hear God in our lives, in order to understand His Mystery, we must be quiet, we must withdraw into silence. Our Lord will never push His way into our lives. We, like our Blessed Mother, must always be saying "Yes" to Him, and we do this best when we are silent and allow the great mystery of God into our lives.

From Pope Francis:
“Silence is that which guards the mystery,” for which the mystery “of our relationship with God, of our journey, of our salvation cannot be… publicized,” the Pope repeated.
“May the Lord give all of us the grace to love the silence, to seek him and to have a heart that is guarded by the cloud of silence,” he said.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Save The Liturgy, Save The World? Not Quite

Father John Zuhlsdorf of the famous Father Z blog coined a phrase which many Catholics, particularly Traditional Catholics, have taken to heart and very firmly believe:  "Save The Liturgy, Save The World."  This phrase has become a money maker for Father Z as he now sells items - coffee cups, bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. - with this quote, as can be seen in the above picture.  But what does "Save The Liturgy, Save The World" mean?  Way back on January 29, 2007, Father Z posted the following, which you can read in its entirety HERE:
The Eucharist, its celebration and itself as the extraordinary Sacrament, is the “source and summit of Christian life”.
If we really believe that, then we must also hold that what we do in church, what we believe happens in a church, makes an enormous difference. 
Mass is not merely a “teaching moment” or a “celebration of unity” or a “tedious obligation”. Our choice of music, architecture, ceremonies and language affect more than one small congregation in one building. We are interconnected in both our common human nature and in baptism. When we sin we hurt the whole Body of Christ the Church.
If that is true for sin, it must also be true for our liturgical choices. They must also have personal and corporate impact. Any Mass can be offered for the intentions of the living or the dead.
Not even death is an obstacle to the efficacy of Holy Mass.
Celebrate Mass well, participate properly – affect the whole world. Celebrate poorly – affect the whole world.
.  .  . 
So I repeat:

In a much more recent post from August 22, 2013, which you can read HERE, Father Z wrote this:
I will repeat what I have assert [sic] many times here.
No true and lasting renewal of the Church can take place until we revitalize our sacred liturgical worship of God.  The virtue of religion requires this first and foremost.  No other initiative we take in any sphere of the Church’s life will undergo a sound and lasting renewal without also a revitalization of our worship of God.  [Emphasis mine]
Reason #4 for Summorum Pontificum.  
So Father Z asserts that if the Church can just get the celebration of Mass down correctly, everything else will fall into place.   Is that true?

As Father Z said in the first post, "The Eucharist, its celebration and itself as the extraordinary Sacrament, is the 'source and summit of Christian life'."  Absolutely no question about that. The Mass is where we re-present the saving Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Father. Without the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are all doomed to hell.  Quoting Saint Padre Pio: "Every holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know. It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the holy Sacrifice of the Mass."

The Mass is of vital importance in the life of every Catholic, and it is absolutely vital to both the physical and spiritual salvation of the world.  But is a proper and reverent celebration of the Mass THE KEY to a "true and lasting renewal of the Church" as Father Z says?

Many sedevacantist groups have sprung up during the post-conciliar era. Almost without exception, they are "Traditional" Catholics who completely reject everything in the Church that is "post Vatican II", the first and foremost post-conciliar practice being the "Novus Ordo Mass" as they refer to the Ordinary Form of the Mass. When these groups celebrate Mass, it is a wondrous thing to behold, with all of the beauty that the Traditional Latin Mass has to offer. An example of one of these sedevacantist groups is the Society of St. Pius V (not to be confused with the Society of St. Pius X). Here is what the Society of St. Pius V posts on their website:

Welcome to the Society of St. Pius V Home Page

The Society of St. Pius V is an organization of traditional Catholic priests dedicated to the preservation of the Traditional Latin Mass. The priests of the Society do not offer the Novus Ordo Missæ. The priests offer the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. Likewise, the priests administer the traditional sacraments according to the prescribed rites prior to any of the changes brought about by the Vatican II Council.

Why the Traditional Latin Mass

Priests in the Society do not offer the traditional Latin Mass out of a sense of nostalgia or love of Latin. Nor do they do so for aesthetic considerations, stubbornness, or out of disobedience. They do so because of the content and purpose of the Catholic Mass and because it is the Catholic thing to do. They believe that the new Mass and sacraments compromise the true Catholic Religion and do not convey and profess the Catholic Faith as defined by Our Lord Jesus Christ and passed down to us from the Apostles.

Below is a picture from a Mass offered by the Society of St. Pius V with  "Bishop" Clarence Kelly:

Seems to me that you can't get much more reverent than that. Ah, but looks can be deceiving. This group is in total rebellion against the Catholic Church, completely rejecting all post-conciliar Popes, starting with Pope John XXIII. They may look Catholic, but they are 100% Protestant. As Wikipedia tells us:
The priests of SSPV broke away from the Society of St. Pius X over liturgical issues, and hold that many in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church no longer adhere to the Catholic faith but instead profess a new, modernist, Conciliar religion. SSPV priests regard the questions of the legitimacy of the present hierarchy and the possibility that the Holy See is unoccupied (sedevacantism) to be unresolved.[1] The SSPV is led by its founder, Bishop Clarence Kelly.

The Society is not in ecclesiastical communion with the Holy See and is independent of the worldwide Catholic Church.
But how can this be? They certainly have the Mass down. There are no "clown" Masses, no liturgical dancing, not even communion in the hand. Everything they do is completely according to Catholic Tradition. Why hasn't the proper celebration of the Mass saved them?
Society of St. Pius X
And what about the Society of St. Pius X, from which the Society of St. Pius V originated? The SSPX is not in formal schism with the Church because they still (nominally) recognize the authority of the Holy Father, but the Society is not canonically recognized because they refuse to accept the authority of the Vatican II council.  (However, with Bishop Fellay recently accusing Pope Francis of being a "modernist", the SSPX may very well be on the edge of schism with the Catholic Church.)  Their priests are not authorized to administer the sacraments, e.g. hear confessions, perform marriages or confirmations.  But certainly no one does the Mass more beautifully than the SSPX. They have it down better than anyone. Why hasn't the Mass saved them? 

Then, of course, there are thousands, maybe millions, of Traditional Catholics who still attend the Catholic Church, but seem to have no hesitation whatsoever in denouncing the Church hierarchy, i.e., the Bishops and the Holy Father, as modernists whose goal is to destroy the Catholic Church.  I had an interesting "conversation" with one such person, John Vennari, on Facebook this week.  This was from a Facebook page advertising a dinner in New York City at which Mr. Vennari spoke on December 6.  I had just posted on my blog about Mr. Vennari in which I exposed an article he wrote completely misrepresenting Pope Francis.  We went back and forth on the Facebook page, which you can read HERE, but Mr. Vennari never addressed my initial question, which was:
Mary Griffin Mr. Vennari, maybe you could explain in NYC why you completely misrepresented what Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium.
December 1 at 4:11pm via mobile · Like ·
Vennari totally dodged my questions.  He talked about the Pope celebrating Hanukkah in 2012, he talked about the Pope "receiving a blessing" from a Protestant minister, and called these acts scandalous while at the same time telling me that he is not condemning Pope Francis.  Vennari then recommended a book published by the SSPX on the terrible state of the post Vatican II Church.   But he never addressed the misrepresentations in his article.  

Then Vennari made a statement which, coming from someone who represents himself as a loyal Catholic, I find absolutely chilling:
John Vennari And as for the Pope, it is possible for the Pope to head in the wrong direction. Juan Cardinal de Torquemada (1388-1468) the revered medieval theologian responsible for the formulation of the doctrines that were formulated at the Council of Florence.
Cardinal Torquemada, explaining that it is possible for even a Pope to err [???????], teaches: “Were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scriptures, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands he is to be disregarded. Citing the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, Cardinal Torquemada further teaches: “Thus it is that Pope Innocent III states (De Consuetudine) that it is necessary to obey the Pope in all things as long as he, himself, does not go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, “he need not be followed” on these points.
December 2 at 10:26pm · Like · 1
This quote by Cardinal Torquemada is constantly made by those who rebel against the hierarchy of the Church. Yet, we have an ironclad promise from Jesus Christ that His Vicar will never lead us astray. In Matthew 16:18, it is recorded that Jesus Christ said that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. We, as Catholics, can always rest assured that the Holy Father, no matter who he is and no matter how great a sinner he might be, will never mislead the Church in faith and morals. To rebel against the Holy Father is to rebel against the Church and against Jesus Christ.

Vennari is a great proponent of the Traditional Latin Mass.  But being a proponent of the Traditional Mass has not kept him from constant criticism and condemnation of the Holy Father and the bishops.  In fact, it seems to have fueled his actions, just as it has with the sedevacantist groups.   As shown, Vennari even goes so far as to say it is possible for the Pope to mislead us, thus justifying outright rebellion against the Vicar of Christ.   There was another person posting on the Facebook conversation I had with Vennari who accused me of pope "worship" because I defend Pope Francis.  Martin Luther would applaud this long and loudly.  Again, this was a person who strongly defends the Traditional Latin Mass and condemns the "Novus Ordo" Mass.  In fact, his name for me was a "Novus Ordo Catholic", which in the minds of Traditionalists, is a step below child molestor.

It would seem, therefore, that Father Z's assertion that "Save The Liturgy, Save The World" doesn't play out. Far too many who "save the liturgy" end up in complete rebellion against the Catholic Church and not only do not save the world, but may be in danger of losing their own soul. That is not a reflection on the Mass, which sustained the Church through almost her entire history (and which Mass I personally love). But it does say that the Mass of and by itself does not necessarily bring us into union with Christ and His Church.

So what is the answer? What is a fail-safe way of walking in step with Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church?  The answer can be found in I Samuel 15:22:  
Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
This statement was made by the Prophet Samuel to King Saul. Saul had just captured and destroyed the Amalekites, the enemy of Israel. God had given Saul the victory and through Samuel had told him to kill all the Amalekites and destroy everything that belonged to them, including their animals. However, Saul disobeyed. From I Samuel 15:7-9:
7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur,near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
Saul thought he knew better than God. Why should all these perfectly good animals be destroyed for no apparent reason? Saul also spared the life of King Agag, which was in complete disobedience. When Samuel confronted Saul and demanded to know why he disobeyed the command of God, Saul answered:
“The soldiers brought them [the sheep] from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
What could be wrong with wanting to give sacrifice to God? Isn't that what forgave sin? Isn't that a good thing? Samuel's answer to Saul was that obedience is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. King Saul thought he knew better than God, and even though he was liturgically correct in offering sacrifices, this was done in complete rebellion and not only did it not forgive sins, it actually caused Saul and his descendants to be cast from the throne of Israel.

Satan, our enemy, does not care how he gets us. If he can get us through immorality, he will do it. And if he can use our religious beliefs, he will, and often does, do that as well.  As can be seen in the above examples, Satan can even use the Holy Mass to destroy people.  All heresy has come from those who think they know better than the Church.  Pride is much more destructive than sins of the flesh. We have a prime example of this in the case of the Pharisees at the time of Christ. I guarantee you that they were completely 100% correct in their liturgical functions. They did everything by the book, never missing a point.  Their liturgies were no doubt a beautiful thing to behold.  But what good did it do them?

Christ's story of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple exemplifies the destructive nature of pride, especially spiritual pride.  The Pharisee  pointed to himself as being in exact conformity with the law (Luke 18:11-12):
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
Jesus contrasts the tax collector:
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
In the next verse, Jesus tells us:
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Pope, the Vicar of Christ, is Christ's earthly authority. We may not like everything he says, and we don't have to accept anything he says that is not in regard to faith and morals. But when he sets standards in the Church and says "this is the law of the Church," we cannot question that. To do so puts us in league with King Saul and the Pharisees of Christ's time, and all heretics down through the ages. Just hanging on to the Mass will not save us. In fact, it could spiritually drown us. Yes, the Traditional Latin Mass is a beautiful thing, and it is very holy and can produce great holiness. But if we use it as a weapon against those with whom we disagree, most especially the hierarchy of the Church, Satan will use that self same Mass to destroy us.

Father Z said that "Not even death is an obstacle to the efficacy of Holy Mass." Physical death is not an obstacle to the efficacy of the Mass, but spiritual death is the greatest obstacle. And when we are not in conformity and obedience to the Magesterium of the Church, then even the beautiful Traditional Latin Mass of the Ages can be our spiritual undoing, as we have seen in far, far too many cases in the past 50 years. Many of those who comment on Father Z's blog prove the point. He has to constantly police the comments left, especially those with regard to the Pope, because they are so condemnatory of the Holy Father and the Church. These comments are left by people who love the Traditional Mass. It doesn't seem to be saving their souls.

Father Z doesn't have it quite right. Saving the Liturgy, of and by itself, will not save the world. The only thing that will save the world is obedience to Jesus Christ and His Vicar. "Save The Liturgy, Save The World"? No. "Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice." There is no other way.

Friday, November 29, 2013

John Vennari Lies to Discredit Pope Francis

Pope Francis
Pope Francis never does anything in a small way. Everything he does and says is meant to shake us up and force us to stop and reflect on what he says, all done in an effort to bring the world to the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

His latest work, "Evangelii Gaudium", is certainly no exception to this.  It is a massive work, which I still have not completely finished.  The theme of this document is evangelization, bringing the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world desperately in need of it.  The document's purpose is to show all Catholics, no matter what their station in life, that they are and must be a part of this great evangelization.  The document is very much in line with the goals of Vatican II, which was all about opening up the Church and bringing salvation to the world.

But, of course, there are those who are right there to criticize and condemn, and unfortunately, some of those at the forefront of the criticism are Traditionalists. John Vennari, who is associated with Father Nicholas Gruner, and who is the editor of Father Gruner's newspaper, "Catholic Family News", wasted no time in posting an article online entitled "Pope Francis and the Old Covenant" about how wrong Pope Francis is. You can read Vennari's article HERE.  Vennari in this article specifically attacked one section of Evangelii Gaudium having to do with the Church's relationship with the Jewish Faith. Vennari quotes a portion of this section.  The italics in this quote are from Vennari:
The document is guided by the new orientation of Vatican II, though it bears the personal stamp of Francis. For now, we will focus on one section of the Exhortation that deals today’s religion of Judaism.
Within the context of exhorting Catholics ever deeper into the ecumenical program, Pope Francis says: “We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for ‘the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29). The Church, which shares with Jews an important part of the Sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own Christian identity (cf. Rom11:16-18). As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God[1] who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.”[2]
John Vennari
Vennari then makes a completely false statement against Pope Francis:
There is no mention of any need for conversion to Christ and His Church. 
This is absolutely and unequivocally a lie. There is no other way to state this, as I will show. Although Vennari does cite the paragraph number of the papal document in his footnotes, #247, he does not give any links to it, most likely because he doesn't want you to read anything other that what he quotes. So to help all those who were not able or did not want to do their own research, you can find the document HERE. Vennari conveniently ignores and omits everything other than the one quoted paragraph.

Pope Francis writes the following in paragraph number 249, omitted from Vennari's article:
God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason, the Church also is enriched when she receives the values of Judaism. While it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word.
Completely contradicting Vennari's assertion that "There is no mention of any need for conversion to Christ and His Church," His Holiness makes it very clear that the Church will always preach Christ as "Lord and Messiah."  Scott Richert, in an article dated April 23, 2013 and entitled "Pope Francis: "It Is Not Possible to Find Jesus Outside the Church", which you can read HERE, wrote the following:
And now Pope Francis has arrived at the crux of the matter, the part that will surprise both those who trumpet "the spirit of Vatican II" and those who denounce the council as a departure from tradition. We can only be Christians through the Church,
Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.
This is why the missionary activity of the Church is so essential: We cannot know Christ outside of the Church. We are called to preach the Gospel to all nations, because that is the only way they can know Christ. Unless the Church is growing, preaching the Gospel and adding new members, we are not doing what we are called to do as Christians:
Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: "But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not come to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance.
"Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Yet we can know Christ only through the Church.
This should surely lay to rest any misconception that Pope Francis does not believe in the absolute need for the saving Sacrifice of Jesus Christ or that Christ can be found anywhere but in the true teachings of the Church. A further quote from Pope Francis:
The Church's journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken.
Vennari, in his article, then tries to tell us:
Pope Francis effectively continues the program initiative by the Council, and brought to fruition by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI that the Old Covenant has not been superseded by the New. This is a novel concept that runs contrary to Sacred Scripture and to the perennial magisterium of the Church.
John Vennari is contradicting the pure and clear teaching of the Catholic Church and of Sacred Scriptue with the above statement.  The following is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, under "The Canon of Scripture", paragraph 121:
The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked. (1093)
To be fair, Vennari does not use the word "revoked" in regard to the Old Covenant.  He says that the Old Covenant has been "superseded" by the New Covenant.  The problem with this statement is that the two covenants are completely separate from one another, as we are told in Jeremiah 31:
31 Behold the days shall come, saith the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Juda:
32 Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: 
The New Covenant is an entirely "new" covenant.  It is not a continuation of the Old Covenant.  It does not contradict the Old Covenant in any way.  In fact, the two covenants compliment each other.  As I have heard many times, the New Covenant is hidden in the Old, and the Old is explained in the New. Since they are entirely separate from one another, there is no reason to revoke or "supercede" the Old Covenant.

It is definitely true that the sacrifices of the Old Covenant have ceased, which happened when the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. And yes, it is true that as Christians under the New Covenant, we are not to engage in the practices of the Old Covenant because they have no efficacy. We cannot gain eternal life from the Old Covenant. However, the Old Covenant never did promise eternal life. It was there only to foreshadow what was to come under Jesus Christ, who established the New Covenant, as St. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:16-17:
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
When a student is in school, he is learning the things he will need when he goes into the "real world." His school lessons are, in effect, a "foreshadow" of what he will be doing when he leaves school. He cannot earn a living from doing his school lessons, but if he learns his lessons well, he will be able to function and earn a living when he graduates. That is what the Old Covenant was. As St. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:23-25:
23Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith25Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
When we graduate from school, we are no longer bound by the rules of school. But the school still exists, and the rules which governed us as students still exist and are just as valid as when we were pupils. The difference is that we are no longer under those rules so they have no effect on us. It would be silly and self defeating to continue living as students once we have graduated. We leave school to go out and earn a living, but that doesn't mean that school is suddenly "outlawed" and to be treated like a pariah. Graduating and going out into the real world is not a matter of "superseding" our time in school. It is entering into an entirely new phase in life. And that is what the New Covenant is. It is a new phase in the plan of salvation. It is not a continuation of the "Old Covenant." Therefore, there was never any need to revoke or "supercede" the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant still exists, but it has no power over us.

Vennari uses the following to back up his assertion that Pope Francis is teaching something that is in direct defiance of what the Church has always taught:
The doctrine of the supersession [sic] of the Old Testament by the New is a universal and perpetual doctrine of the Catholic Church. It is a defined article of the Catholic Faith. The solemn Profession of Faith of the Ecumenical Council of Florence under Pope Eugene IV, says the following:

“The sacrosanct Roman Church ... firmly believes, professes, and teaches that the matter pertaining to the Old Testament, of the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to the divine worship at that time, after Our Lord’s coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; ... All, therefore, who after that time observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it (the Roman Church) declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors.”
You will notice that there is nothing in this quote that says the Old Covenant is to be "suppressed."  It merely says that we are not to partake in any of the practices of the Old Covenant, i.e, "ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future."  As I stated earlier, these things were merely a foreshadow of Jesus Christ.  They are part of the "Old School."

The Jews are, in effect, still "in school."  They don't realize or accept that it is time to graduate and move on to the real thing, which is Jesus Christ and salvation.  But that doesn't negate the truth of what they do believe, and that is why the Church says the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

Vennari does not allow for any comments on his website, but he posted this to his Facebook page and the following comments were left:

  • 11 people like this.
  • Patricio de Aulia Why do the Jews celebrate the Feast of the Dedication ("Hanukkah")? Why does the Church let these infidels desecrate a holy day only she recognises? There's no Feast of the Dedication in the Masoretic Text used by today's Jews, they have no business celebrating it. Everyone, be sure and tell every Jew you see they stole the holiday from the Church. Thievery comes natural to those members of the synagogue of Satan.
  • John Wassmer Actually Chanuka prefigures Christmas and is why they almost always coincide at Christmas time. "The Festival of Lights" is now commemorated by the candles and house lights generally associated only with Christmas. The miracle of the Re- Dedication of ...See More
  • Patricio de Aulia Yep. Nobody said the Pope couldn't be an heretic...
  • Marilyn Rose He can be anything he wants if he puts his mind to it. 

We must always be very careful of anyone who condemns the Holy Father and/or the Magesterium. Never accept any condemnation of the Holy Father on face value, no matter who it comes from. Always do your homework. Go to the source. And trust that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Magesterium of the Church to be led into false teaching.

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