Saturday, July 26, 2014

On the 'spirit' of the Catholic Blogisterium

Heretics tortured and nailed to wooden posts.

"You don't know of what spirit you are." - Luke 9:55

As a foreword, I should explain that I don't always read comments left on my blog if they are too long - I'll skim them, but often do that a bit later.  I did that last night.  I also read a couple of blog posts on other blogs the long commenter(s) write.  I may be wrong, but something is off - way off.

I've written before that people have to be careful what they read, especially by people who claim special spiritual insight, discernment of spirits, and sensitivity to the 'signs of the times'.  As Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger writes:
[T]he autonomous personal conscience sometimes lays claim to a false discernment when it sets private revelation and presumed personal graces against the magisterium.   The desire for union with God sometimes leads individuals to attach themselves to extraordinary manifestations of the “spirit,” but in such a way that weakens their attachment to the Church.   Thus, Catholics continue to embrace New Age spirituality, or some dubious private revelation, or a personal insight even though they know that their conviction runs contrary to Church teaching or discipline.
The discernment of spirits is so important today because there are many voices competing for our attention, and it is all so easy to assume that that what we hear, or even what we think and say comes from God. - Fr. Geiger

The blind man who falls will not get up alone in his blindness, and if he does, he will take the wrong road. - John of the Cross

People who pray often have spiritual experiences and feelings - sometimes they are authentic, although sometimes they can be the result of natural reasoning accompanying a spiritual feeling - which makes it seem like spiritual insight.  (That being the case, it doesn't mean we are holy.)  The devil likes to play games with us - he likes to confuse and he likes to convince.  At any rate, there are guidelines in spiritual direction and it is best never to esteem these experiences or become attached to them.  Many, many, many good people are deceived that way.  Feelings are not a gauge of spiritual anything.  (How did you feel when Pope Francis was elected?  It doesn't matter.)

Get a grip.

One exchange in my combox dealt with these things, springing from a sort of anxious concern that the Church is governed by the anti-Christ - the upshot being that anti-Christs are beginning to be seen hiding everywhere.  The phenomenon reminds me of St. Teresa of Avila's statement about people who see the devil behind every column, saying she is more afraid of such people than the devil himself.  Scripture tells us that anti-Christ is in the world, just as the devil prowls about the world looking for someone to devour.  We know this stuff already.

Again, I think Fr. Angelo Mary identifies the problem here: "The desire for union with God sometimes leads individuals to attach themselves to extraordinary manifestations of the “spirit,” but in such a way that weakens their attachment to the Church."  That's a huge problem - on both sides of the imaginary fences our divisions have built.

"My Lord Jesus, I want to love You but You cannot trust me." - St. Philip Neri

Lord!  You can't trust Terry!  I write from personal experience.  For all the 'spiritual' consolations and experiences I may have had, I never ever remained faithful.  No matter how exalted I believed my 'spiritual understanding' I fell again and again.  My learning, my studies couldn't even deter me from falling back into sin.  My monastic formation, my penances, my countless hours of adoration, fasting, pilgrimages, they couldn't save me - 'put not your trust in horses' as the psalm says.

Because of my great pride I used to say things like, "I have more understanding than all who teach me because I do your will."  It makes me cringe today.  I thought because I lived chastely I was in union with God's will.  I think I may have even said things like what I read in my combox, "I'm very good at discernment, I can spot a phony a mile away."  Or, "I've got a pretty good track record on discernment - I've helped a lot of people."  And how many people must believe the following about themselves or another: "I think God is using me for this or for that and I see myself as this apostle or saint, I've been given this or that ministry."  Yet by whose authority?

God desires the least degree of obedience and submissiveness more than all those services you think of rendering Him. - John of the Cross

Once again I go back to my favorite spiritual master, St. John of the Cross.  I fear I may misappropriate some of his sayings, or understand them in a too personal interpretation, but his writing has often brought me back after serious falls which resulted because of pride and imagining that I was secure in what was really self-opinion and vain rejoicing in spiritual goods.  Hence, I often think of his "Censure of a nun".  He wrote to the prioress saying the 'censure' wouldn't be so difficult a task if the nun wasn't 'so spiritual'.  It seems to me many bloggers may fall into that category, a situation made worse by a theology major or a religious ed. certificate.

Censure and Opinion... a paraphrase of John of the Cross.

In the affective manner with which these souls proceeds there may be five defects manifesting a lack of the good spirit.
  • First, it seems they bear within themselves a great fondness for possessing things and earning a living from the blog, whereas the good spirit strives for detachment in the appetites and leads one to fulfill the duties of one's state in life. 
  • Second, they are too secure in their spirit and have little fear of being inwardly mistaken. Where this fear is absent, the spirit of God is never present to preserved the soul from harm, as the Wise Man says [Prv. 15:27].  "I have a pretty good track record ..."
  • Third, it seems they have the desire to persuade others that their experiences (or interpretation of prophecies and the 'signs of the times') are good and manifold. Persons of a genuine spirit do not desire to do this, but, on the contrary, desire that their experiences be considered of little value and despised, and this they do themselves.  (In other words, they do not esteem their spiritual insights and apprehensions.)
  • Fourth-and this is the main fault-the effects of humility are not manifest in this attitude. When favors are genuine, as these people concludes theirs are, they are ordinarily never communicated to a soul without first undoing and annihilating it in the inner abasement of humility. And if these favors had produced this effect in these souls, they would not have failed to say something about it, and even a great deal. For the first thing the soul esteems and is eager to speak of are the effects of humility, which, certainly, are so strong that they cannot be disguised. (I may be stretching it with this one.)
  • Fifth, and here I depart entirely from St. John's list - the claims made concerning the crisis in the Church are in opposition to the teaching magisterium and authority which belongs to the Church.  It is the Church Fathers who will discern the current situation in the Church and the world and it is their responsibility to discern and define the signs of the times we live in.  As the Rule of St. Benedict reminds us:  "You have placed men over our heads." (Ps 65[66]:12).

Don't believe me though - you can't trust me either.  Believe what the Church teaches.  Do what the Pope and the Synod Fathers say - and if some give bad example - don't do as they do - but do as they say.  Don't go to strangers online who sometimes are in it to make a living - they are 'divided' by that very fact.  Remember, you can't be holier than the Church.  Don't go to strangers online for spiritual direction.

Humility - strive for humility - with great confidence and love in the mercy of God.

Allow yourself to be taught.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Cafeteria Is NOW Open* ...

Food fight!


Taking the chef completely by surprise, Pope Francis unexpectedly showed up to eat with the Vatican's blue-collar workers at their cafeteria in the tiny city-state's "industrial park."
"He showed up, got his tray, silverware, he stood in line and we served him," the cafeteria's chef, Franco Paini, told Vatican Radio on Friday. - Source
The cool kids table.

If only Gerald Naus still had a blog.

*What if people actually started pouring into the Church now?  I wonder if others would complain that the Pope was inviting the wrong people to come to Christ?

The Doll Lady: Sheesh, you try to do something nice ...

"How dare you even mention NFP!"

Creepy daughter dolls.
A mysterious ‘do-gooder’ sparked a police investigation after leaving creepy porcelain dolls outside several homes in California.

Spooked families, living in a gated residential community in the city of San Clemente, told police the dolls resembled their daughters.

Orange County detectives investigating the bizarre case made a public appeal for information after the disturbing dolls began appearing on July 16.

They were left on the doorsteps of 11 different families, who all have ten-year-old daughters.

“It's really creepy and disturbing. As a mum with a daughter, it freaks me out," one concerned resident told NBC San Diego.
"I just love kids." The Doll Lady admitted, choking back tears.

The woman who left the dolls admitted she tried to match them to the daughters...  she admitted it.

“Investigators made contact with the female adult who admitted to placing the porcelain dolls on the porch of the various residences in the community,” said the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. 
“Investigators have concluded that her motivation was out of goodwill and that she intended it as a kind gesture. 
“There will be no further investigation of this case.” 
Police initially thought the unwanted gifts may have been part of a twisted prank, but it appears the woman was just trying to get rid of her creepy collection. 
The woman, who went to the same church as many of the families, admitted she tried to match up the dolls with each of the girls. - Source

This story proves Stepford families really do exist.

Song for this post here.

Flight risk.

I love it when Fr. Z flies off the handle someplace.

Cloud shadows along the fault line.

A little drinkie to calm the nerves.*

Song for this post here.

* Some photos have been edited just for fun.  Un-retouched originals here.


Today is the Feast of St. James, my baptismal patron.

A pilgrim's prayer.

O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over us, your servants, as we journey in the love of your name to Santiago de Compostela.
Be for us our companion on the way,
Our guide at the crossroads,
Our breath in our weariness,
Our protection in danger,
Our albergue on the Camino,
Our shade in the heat,
Our light in the darkness,
Our consolation in our discouragements,
And our strength in our intentions.
So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road and enriched with grace and virtue we return safely to our homes filled with joy.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Apostle Santiago, pray for us.
Santa Maria, pray for us.

I did the northernmost route - I visited
Garabandal on the way.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"A false discernment when it sets private revelation and presumed personal graces against the magisterium." - Fr. Angelo Mary

An expert writes.

Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger is writing a series for Spiritual Direction Blog, Thinking With The Church: Mysticism and Magisterium - Part I of VI.  Fr. Geiger offers excellent spiritual guidance faithful to the magisterium.  It is much needed discernment for our times.  I've already learned that I've made an error in distinguishing between the pre- and post-conciliar Church:

Unfortunately, it is not only the progressives who have adopted this individualistic spirit. Even in the name of Tradition, some today speak of a pre- and post-conciliar Church, thus creating a rupture between the past and the present. In this way, they submit everything the magisterium has to say to a test that ultimately sets the Church against itself.
I've often said we cannot be holier than the Church - I think Fr. Geiger explains what that means here:
I begin this series on Mysticism and Magisterium with the notion of “thinking with the Church” because discernment is so basic to the spiritual life. For a Catholic, every authentic spirit is characterized by its “ecclesiality,” which means that the Holy Spirit works in and through the Church and always leads to communion with the Church.
I think I write in vain - I have no credentials and I'm not a blog many people read, so I am very happy Fr. Geiger is writing this series.  It is very much needed, especially for those of us who are confused by so many factions and opinions in Catholic media - especially online.  Several of my posts had me searching for authoritative teaching to address the strange notions being generated online through Catholic news portals and blogs.  Fr. Geiger sums it up quite succinctly here:

Finally, the autonomous personal conscience sometimes lays claim to a false discernment when it sets private revelation and presumed personal graces against the magisterium. The desire for union with God sometimes leads individuals to attach themselves to extraordinary manifestations of the “spirit,” but in such a way that weakens their attachment to the Church. Thus, Catholics continue to embrace New Age spirituality, or some dubious private revelation, or a personal insight even though they know that their conviction runs contrary to Church teaching or discipline.

The discernment of spirits is so important today because there are many voices competing for our attention, and it is all so easy to assume that that what we hear, or even what we think and say comes from God. We need to be careful, especially when we are tempted to think differently than the Church—to disregard or disparage her doctrine or choose a path that sets us at odds with the sacred magisterium. - Spiritual Direction Blog
"The Church is the solution not the problem."  

H/T Mark Shea

Screenshots: Schism coming?


Is there a new schism brewing?  Or is the old one just expanding?  Maybe it's just 'resisting Peter to his face?'  Something is definitely going on - right in the middle of the great apostasy and persecution.

'Resisting Peter to his face.'

In many passages of his works, St. Thomas upholds the principle that the faithful can question and admonish Prelates. For example:

“There being an imminent danger for the Faith, Prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Glosa of St. Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2,14), ‘St. Peter himself gave the example to those who govern so that if they should stray from the right way, they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from their subjects’” (Summa Theologiae, Turin/Rome: Marietti, 1948, II-II, q.33, a.4).
St. Paul resisted St. Peter “to his face,” St. Thomas teaches:

“The reprehension was just and useful, and the reason for it was not light: There was a danger for the preservation of evangelical truth. ... The way it took place was appropriate, since it was public and manifest. For this reason, St. Paul writes: ‘I spoke to Cephas,’ that is, Peter, ‘before everyone,’ since the simulation practiced by St. Peter was fraught with danger to everyone. In 1 Tim. 5:20, we read: ‘Admonish those who sin before everyone.’ This should be understood to refer to manifest sins, not hidden ones, since in the latter cases one should proceed according to the rules proper to fraternal correction” (Super Epistulas S. Pauli, Ad Galatas, 2, 11-14, lec. III, Turin/Rome: Marietti, 1953, nn. 83-84). - Source
A reform of the papacy means

Bonus feature.

‘No less easy for the future pontiff will be the task of keeping unity in the Catholic Church itself. Between ultratraditionalist extremists and ultraprogressive extremists, between priests who rebel against obedience and those who do not recognize the signs of the times, there will always be the danger of minor schisms that not only damage the Church but also go against the will of God: unity at all costs. Butt unity does not mean uniformity. It is evident that this does not close the doors to the intra-ecclesial discussion present in the whole history of the Church. All are free to express their thoughts on the task of the Church, but they should be proposals in line with that “depositum fidei” which the pontiff together with all of the bishops has the task of guarding. […]‘ - Cardinal Prosper Grech

Now for the screenshots.

"False Prophet" Enzo Bianchi is Appointed to Ecumenical Council 
Skojec: Why Would All These People Lie About Pope Francis? 
Pope's Scalfari interviews: It's not the content that matters; it's the friendship and dialogue? 
... more
If this is the position of the Pope, than the Church has a great crisis before it 
... more

The Riddles of Pope Leo XIII

What did the mayonnaise say to the mustard?*

Stories online.

A few blogs have celebrated the fact that Pope Leo XIII discreetly and anonymously penned riddles in Latin which were then published under a pseudonym in a Roman periodical at the turn of the 19th century.

Evidently there is documentation for the Pope's hobby, as the CNS article on the subject details here.
However, did you know there is no credible documentation on the more famous story of the vision of Pope Leo XIII?
The problems with the story connecting the institution of the St. Michael prayer and a supposed vision of Leo XIII may be summarized as follows: 
• Writings which promote the story give no references to sources.
• The various accounts contradict each other as to where the vision supposedly took place — after Mass at the foot of the altar, or in a conference with cardinals.
• The various accounts are inconsistent about the date of the vision.
• The dates the accounts give for the alleged vision (1880, 1884 and 1888) do not correspond with the date when the St. Michael prayer was actually instituted (1886).
• There appears to be no corroboration for the story in a contemporary account which one would expect to have mentioned the event, had it indeed taken place. 
These considerations all tend to support the conclusion Father Bers arrived at in the 1930s: “that the ‘vision’ had been invented in later times for some reason,” and that the story was simply feeding upon itself. - Source

Why do I mention this?  Because visions can be invented, and/or the original stories attached to old visions can be embellished - by enthusiastic devotees, sometimes innocently interpreting it according to their mode of understanding, maybe even for dramatic effect, or perhaps to support a specific agenda at a later date.  The story can take on a life of its own.  I'm thinking of the accounts of the 17th century apparition of Our Lady of Good Success in Quito, Ecuador.

Just a thought.

*Answer: Close the door, I'm dressing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The World economy ... a war-based economy indeed.

"The world economic system inevitably promotes military conflict as a way to enrich the most powerful nations." - Pope Francis

I thought of that as I watched BBC Nightly News last evening.   They ran a piece on how France is going through with the sale and shipment of one of two warships made for Russia - despite sanctions imposed upon Russia in the form of an arms embargo.  The French defend the transactions, insisting the warship will not be armed, and Russia has already paid.
France says it will go ahead with the sale of a warship to Russia despite calls for an arms embargo against the country, highlighting how Europe's strong business ties are hindering its ability to punish Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.
Western powers say Russia is supporting the insurgents in eastern Ukraine who allegedly shot down a Malaysian Airliner last week, killing all 298 people on board.
European Union foreign ministers met Tuesday to consider more sanctions against Russia but agreed only to impose more asset freezes on individuals, leaving economic relations untouched.
Some countries, like Britain, argue the plane crash has raised the stakes and Europe should not go soft on Russia.
But other countries are more cautious, mindful of the potential costs of harming business relations. Among other things, Germany imports a third of its oil and natural gas from Russia. France's commercial deals include the delivery of two warships, the biggest ever sale by a NATO country of military equipment to Moscow.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said an arms embargo on Russia was discussed Tuesday, pushed for by the UK and others, but that EU members only agreed to restrictions on "future contracts" — meaning France would get to go ahead with its sales of warships. - AP

The story reminded me of how some Catholics have been upset over Pope Francis speaking out about a world economy kept afloat by arms trade and war:   "Pope Francis said the world economic system inevitably promotes military conflict as a way to enrich the most powerful nations."

"We are in a world economic system that is not good," Pope Francis said. "A system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done. But since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold, and in this way the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, obviously keep their balance sheets in the black." - CNW

Some Catholics didn't like that - and they still don't like it.  However, if we pay attention to how Europe has responded to the Ukraine airline tragedy, as well as how most of the world seems to ignore the persecution and expulsion of Christians from Iraq and the Syrian conflict, we may understand what the Holy Father has been saying is exactly right.

Another favorable review of "Desire of the Everlasting Hills" by Anthony Esolen.

Our hearts are restless ...

I'm happy this film is being so well received.  It is more important than ever to speak clearly on that "particular form of sexual sin to which these three people fell prey was homosexual in nature."  Those three people are the two men and one woman whose stories are featured in the film.  One of the men's story featured reminded me a little bit of someone I know very well ... "One of the men has now lived chastely with his friend since his conversion." 

See.  I'm not the only one.

Read Anthony Esolen's review here.

Carmelite Feast of Our Mother of Divine Grace

Eight days after the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Carmelites celebrate the feast of Our Mother of Divine Grace.

That Mary obtains for us and distributes to us all graces is a certain doctrine, according to what we have just said about the mother of all men. As mother, she is interested in their salvation, prays for them, and obtains for them the graces they receive. - Garrigou-Lagrange

In thanksgiving for every grace!

Here's another thought on visions ...

 "One should never order one's life according to visions, especially according to the visions of others. In material things we must use common sense, too. We must be careful of mysticism. The devil stands behind the Mother of God: If you let her pass by you will find the devil."Pere Lamy

First Friday, August 1 - A day of prayer, adoration and solidarity for the persecuted Christians in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East.

"N"--for "Nazarene," as in Jesus of Nazareth

Initiated by the FSSP.

This was the day chosen by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) for a worldwide day of Public Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in supplication for our persecuted brethren in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East.  - Details here.

An appeal from Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul
(Vatican Radio) “We need more than words now, we need concrete actions, we need the solidarity of Christians worldwide, not to be afraid to talk about this tragedy”, says Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul speaking to Vatican Radio over the phone from Nineveh province, Northern Iraq. - Read more here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

For the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Penitent: Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine at St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume & Sanary-sur-Mer

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with reliquary of the head
of St. Mary Magdalene in background.

Skull of St. Mary Magdalene.

Grotto of St. Mary Magdalen, Sainte Baume.
EWTN offers a brief history here.

St. Mary Magdalen in ecstasy.

I prefer the traditional stories about the Magdalene.  She is a patron saint of mine because of her penitence - or great love.  Years ago I visited Ste. Baume as a pilgrim and wished I might have stayed there as a hermit.  At the time the Dominicans who had custody of the sanctuary were not very hospitable and snickered at the pious belief that the Magdalene took refuge there.  One can actually grow accustomed to mockery and prefer it to praise.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us that we may love Jesus more than we loved sin in the past.

History of St, Maximin here.

More on private revelation and prophecy.

Believe it or not?

Patrick Archbold asks why bother with it if it is not binding to believe it in the first place?

He makes an excellent point.

He also cites the message of Fatima - a message which has been approved, and one that has been interpreted by the Holy See, with commentary from then Cardinal Ratzinger on the contents of the secret, or message given by the Blessed Virgin:

A careful reading of the text of the so-called third “secret” of Fatima, published here in its entirety long after the fact and by decision of the Holy Father, will probably prove disappointing or surprising after all the speculation it has stirred. No great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled. We see the Church of the martyrs of the century which has just passed represented in a scene described in a language which is symbolic and not easy to decipher. Is this what the Mother of the Lord wished to communicate to Christianity and to humanity at a time of great difficulty and distress? Is it of any help to us at the beginning of the new millennium? Or are these only projections of the inner world of children, brought up in a climate of profound piety but shaken at the same time by the tempests which threatened their own time? How should we understand the vision? What are we to make of it?  - Vatican 

The document may be found on the Vatican website.  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope St. John Paul II, published the theological interpretation of the 'secret', explaining the theological significance of private revelation in the section following the above quote.  I urge everyone to read it.  It is what the faithful wait for when it comes to private revelations and messages.

Prudence suggests we should pay attention to prophecy and private revelations, though one is not bound by it.

Private revelation is a help to this faith, and shows its credibility precisely by leading me back to the definitive public Revelation. In this regard, Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, the future Pope Benedict XIV, says in his classic treatise, which later became normative for beatifications and canonizations: “An assent of Catholic faith is not due to revelations approved in this way; it is not even possible. These revelations seek rather an assent of human faith in keeping with the requirements of prudence, which puts them before us as probable and credible to piety”. The Flemish theologian E. Dhanis, an eminent scholar in this field, states succinctly that ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation has three elements: the message contains nothing contrary to faith or morals; it is lawful to make it public; and the faithful are authorized to accept it with prudence (E. Dhanis,Sguardo su Fatima e bilancio di una discussione, in La Civiltà Cattolica 104 [1953], II, 392-406, in particular 397). Such a message can be a genuine help in understanding the Gospel and living it better at a particular moment in time; therefore it should not be disregarded. It is a help which is offered, but which one is not obliged to use. - Vatican

As I noted, Pat Archbold correctly points this out.  I would also add that it may be helpful for the reader to read the Vatican documents on Fatima more closely, so that any remaining confusion on the role of private revelation may be cleared up.  The Catechism explains private revelations as well.

I do not suggest that we ignore possible mystical revelations or purported apparitions or locutions, rather we ought to be careful and discerning, guided by the Church.

While alive, St. John Paul II has been quoted saying the message of Fatima is still relevant today as it was when Our Lady revealed it in 1917, and Pope Benedict XVI has alluded to the same.  I happen to believe it is too, and the Vatican Document on the secret and the apparitions at Fatima allows such an understanding, at least in so far as the essential aspect of the message remains, as it always was, repent and believe in the Gospel, pray and amend our lives - do penance and make reparation.  The essential part of the message has yet to be implemented by the faithful.  Additional conjectures about the secrets are additions by men, not from heaven.  As St. John of the Cross points out, the consequences of sin can be known naturally, through natural law as well as divine Revelation completed in Christ.

Pat Archbold goes on to cite the revelations of Our Lady of Good Success, a devotion connected to 
Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres.  As far as I know, only one scholar has published any sizable research on the alleged messages for 'our times' - and the translations available are attributed to her.  It is claimed these all have imprimatur's and the approval of the local bishop - 400 years ago - however I believe it is the devotion to Our lady under this title that was approved, I'm not sure the messages have been.  Be that as it may, one one level they curiously correspond to the writings attributed to Bl. Katherine Emmerich.  Not a few traditional Catholics who study such things have suggested these messages may comprise at least part of the third secret of Fatima, which they claim points to the current crisis in the Church.  This is conjecture and added on to what is already approved.

Likewise, as St. John points out,
 "not all revelations turn out according to the literal meaning."  It is extremely important to understand this when dealing with such messages.  It is also important to understand that sometimes, spiritual directors have been equally mistaken when approving the messages related from their penitents.

"God desires not that we should wish for such visions, since He makes it possible for us to be deceived by them in so many ways." - St. John of the Cross

That is where I become skeptical and fall back on the writings of mystical theologians such as John of the Cross.  It is also at this point that I get the sense some people who follow such things do so more literally than they do the Gospel or accept the teaching authority of the Magisterium - the Pope and Bishops and priests in union with him.  Especially when one reads devout people claiming Vatican II was evil, The Novus Ordo is illicit, and the Holy Father is an anti-pope or a heretic.

Devotees of Fatima and other apparitions take the messages and add to them - suggesting the Holy See is hiding the full message.  (The essentials of the message can be found here.)  They put words on Our Lady's lips, they add to what she said, extrapolating from the revealed text an extended text either taken from other dubious messages attributed to Our Lady, or those which mystics have dictated to scribes.  The messages themselves become idols, taking on greater importance than Church authority.

Even Sr. Lucia of Fatima said that the 'secret' was for the Church to discern and interpret. In response, the purveyors of dissent and division claimed the real visionary had been replaced by an impostor.  People will believe fantasies such as that rather than accept the Church's theological interpretation of the secret of Fatima.  
By all means, we should heed those apparitions and private revelations that carry Church approval, but we need to do so with great humility and detachment, avoiding all curiosity and anxiety, always subject to the discernment of the Church.  

Remember even saints have been deceived false mystics and false holy men:  St. John Paul II believed Fr. Maciel was a holy founder.  Fr. Robert Fox was convinced Fr. Gino was an authentic mystic and stigmatist.  St. Therese of Lisieux and her entire Carmel were convinced the conversion story of Diana Vaughan perpetrated by the con-man Leo Taxil was authentic.

I just wrote a post on this topic for the feast of St. Elijah:
I think private revelations such as those attributed to Bl. Anna Katherine Emmerich, as well as the revelations attributed to Our Lady of Good Success in Quito, and even the dubious message of La Salette, may have influenced much of the resistance we see today from traditionalists to Pope Francis as well as just about everything written by the Council Fathers at Vatican II. 
One reads direct quotations from spurious apparitions and private revelation in the com boxes of blogs which 'shun' anyone with a contrary opinion to their decoding of the Great Apostasy, while even the posts on such blogs suggest Francis is an anti-Pope, and false prophet, based on the same spurious prophecies. As if God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, is going to trick Christians with a false Pope. - Prophet of the end times.
For years Joey Lomangino believed Our Lady would heal his blindness and he would see the promised miracle at Garabandal - of which he was assured he would be informed of beforehand so he could get to Garabandal to witness it.  I know monks and nuns and priests and lay people who wait every spring for the warning, which was foretold to occur sometime between March and June.  I also know a guy who has devoted his entire life to Necedah, convinced it is true.  Some people let these things take over and direct their lives - think of Fr. Gruner and his group and their criticism of the popes.  Think of the Baysiders and the crazy signs and myths told about Paul VI.

I can't imagine God is pleased or served by those who rely on, or use prophecies to condemn or attack the hierarchy, the papacy, or the liturgical rites of the Church.  Some of these folks will even question the authenticity of canonization, yet follow dubious revelations on the state of the Church in our time.

Visions and locutions, even though from God, can mislead us. 

St. John of the Cross in Chapter 19 of the Ascent lays out proof from Scripture on how this can be, for the sake of brevity, I will only high light a few passages to help explain the dangers and misunderstandings locutions can and do generate.

"We mentioned the two reason why, although God's visions and locutions are true and certain in themselves, they are not always so for us.  The first reason is because of our defective manner of understanding them, and the second because their basic causes are sometimes variable.

Clearly in regard to the first, not all revelations turn out according to the literal meaning.  The cause is that, since God is immense and profound, he usually embodies in his prophecies, locutions, and revelations other ways, concepts, and ideas remarkably different from the meaning we generally find in them.  And the surer and more truthful they are, the less they seem so to us.

We behold this frequently in Scripture.  With a number of the ancients, many of God's prophecies and locutions did not turn out as they had expected, because they interpreted them with their own different and extremely literal method."
The Letter kills, the spirit gives life.
John goes on to cite several passages from Scripture, explaining why and how the recipients got it wrong and events turned out not as human nature expected. John then explains:

"[...] Souls are misled by imparting to God's locutions and revelations a literal interpretation, and interpretation according to the outer rind.  As has been explained, God's chief objective in conferring these revelations is to express and impart the elusive, spiritual meaning contained in the words.  This spiritual meaning is richer and more plentiful than the literal meaning and transcends those limits."

[...] "Anyone bound to the letter, locution, form, or apprehensible figure cannot avoid serious error and will later become confused for having been led by the literal sense and not having allowed for the spiritual meaning which is divested of the literal sense.  ('The letter kills, the spirit gives life' - 2 Cor. 3:6)" - Read St. John of the Cross, The Ascent, Bk II, Chapter 18 and 19

V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. / R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

Sister Magdalena of the Cross, once esteemed by many in Spain, 
confessed, one day, that the Devil had been visiting her in her cell.

Monday, July 21, 2014

For an increase in vocations to the monastic life.

Mont des Cats.
It's Trappist.

Here's a thought.

If more monasteries concentrated on making beer and ale, maybe they would attract more vocations?

Save the ale, save the world!

As I was going to Mont des Cats 
I met a man with seven bottles
And every bottle was empty 
And I said, "you sir are drunk!"
And I continued on my way .... 
Kits, cats, sacks, bottles, drunks,
How many were going to Mont des Cats? 


YES! On Curiosity.

Art: Jeff Faust

From Monsignor Pope on Sinful Curiosity:
Curiosity is one of those qualities of the human person that are double-edged swords. It can cut a path to glory or it can be like a dagger of sin that cuts deep into the soul. 
Of itself, curiosity can be a magnificent quality, rooted in the gifts of wonder and awe as well as in the deeply profound gift of man’s intellect or rational nature. 
However, as a double-edged sword, curiosity can also wound us very deeply and mire us in serious sin. Indeed, it can be a very sinful drive within us. Eve grew curious of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and thus Satan was easily able to turn her curiosity into a deep dagger that has reached every human heart. 
Understood this way (as a sinful drive), curiosity is a desire to gain knowledge of things we have no right to know. A more mitigated form of sinful curiosity is the desire to know things that are in no way useful to us. In this sense, curiosity is a form of spiritual gluttony that exposes us to innumerable tricks of the evil one. 
Sinful curiosity causes us to meddle in the lives of others, to pry. This can then lead us to gossip, potentially defaming others and ruining reputations in the process. Nothing is a bigger invitation to sin and gossip than the phrase “Have you heard the latest news about so-and-so?” Heads turn, ears perk up, and meddlesome curiosity is immediately incited. 
Almost never is the news that follows such a question positive or even edifying. Sinful curiosity is at the root of almost all gossip, defamation, slander, and even calumny. 
Ninety percent of what we hear through gossip is none of our business. And yet, through sinful curiosity, somehow we feel that we have the right to this information. 
There is a whole branch of news, barely distinguishable from gossip columns and scandal sheets, that has emerged based on the people’s “right to know.” Too much secrecy can be unhealthy but that is hardly the problem in this day and age. Today, too many people know too many things about too many people. Even what is reported (most of it unnecessary) about so-called public figures is not really helpful for us to know. This is not to say we should have no concerns whatsoever about what is happening in the world or about the character of our leaders; rather, it is an invitation to distinguish between what is truly useful and necessary for us to know and that which is simply rooted in sinful curiosity. - Monsignor Pope
I'm convinced this is a huge part of the problem with social media users and the tendency to obsess over the lives and sayings of others, adding to the confusion generated by some lay Catholics online.

People who search and search other's blog archives to find something on them ... when they Google another blogger's name, search for photos, work experience, where they live, who they know, who they link to in an effort to discredit them or expose them.  Ever heard of people doing that?  The guy who wrote about me did that - and he wrote about me and discussed me with others in emails and on forums.  He did it with other bloggers as well.  A lot of social media users do the same thing.  How do I know this?  I've done it too.

Très curieux, eh?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Anniversary of the Moon Landing and Walk on the Moon

June 20, 1969

H/T Sadie Vacantanista

St. Elijah, The Prophet of the End Times

Prophet Elijah, "Behold a little cloud rising from the sea."

Now I am sending to you Elijah the prophet, Before the day of the LORD comes, the great and terrible day ... Malachi 3: 23

Today Carmelites celebrate the feast of the Holy Prophet Elijah, as do the Orthodox.  I've always been fascinated with the figure of Elijah whom God raised up amidst great apostasy, and whom tradition holds beheld the coming of the Messiah upon Mt. Carmel.  It is all there, hidden in Sacred Scripture, explained to us by the Fathers of the Church, ancient and new.

"Do not love the world or the things which are in the world, for the boasting of the world and its destruction belong to the devil." Apocalypse of Elijah

July 20 is the feast of St. Elijah.

From the 11th century, Carmelites have claimed Elijah as their founder; John and Teresa* arrived much later as the reformers of the order, yet they also pointed to Elijah as their Father.  For centuries, the Carmelites of the Primitive Observance literally traced their foundation to the followers of Elijah on Mt. Carmel, today I believe all Carmelites simply venerate him as Prototype and Patron.  Likewise, Elijah is venerated by both the East and the West as a monastic archetype.

In the 19th century a Coptic manuscript was found, known as the Apocalypse of Elijah.  Elijah is of course associated with the coming of the Messiah - for Jews and Christians - Muslims as well.  Christ attested to his coming in the Gospel - in regard to John the Baptist.  Jews still set a place at table for Elijah, and the Book of Revelation speaks of his return at the end times.  Occasionally I wonder if the current resurgence of Carmelite spirituality and attempts at reform, is somehow a 'sign' of Elijah's presence?  Just wondering of course ...

Elijah passes on the prophetic mantel to Elisha.

"No one is able to enter the holy place if he is double minded.  The one who is double minded in his prayer is darkness to himself. And even the angels do not trust him." - Apocalypse

Anyway - I'll post excerpts of the Apocalypse of Elijah below:
 1.The word of YHWH came to me saying, "Son of man, say to his people, 'why do you add sin to your sins and anger the Lord God who created you ?' " 2.Don't love the world or the things which are in the world, for the boasting of the world and its destruction belong to the devil.

13.Hear, O wise men of the land, concerning the deceivers who will multiply in the last times so that they will set down for themselves doctrines which do not belong to God, setting aside the Law of God, those who have made their belly their God, saying, "The fast does not exist, nor did God create it," making themselves strangers to the covenant of God and robbing themselves of the glorious promises. 14.Now these are not ever correctly established in the firm faith. Therefore don't let those people lead you astray.

25.Likewise no one is able to enter the holy place if he is double minded. 26.The one who is double minded in his prayer is darkness to himself. And even the angels do not trust him. 27.Therefore be single-minded in the Lord at all times so that you might know every moment. - Apocalypse of Elijah

Evidence of apostasy in our day?

I think many problems arise when well meaning people attempt to find meaning and understand the confusion of our times by relying on private revelations which relate to apocalyptic literature and Biblical prophecy, often adhering to literal interpretations of events that may or may not have taken place so far, or as regards events still to come.  Frequently these interpretations are founded upon hearsay of what this pope or that priest or some mystic may have said, or something a locutionist published.  Confusion is inevitable when we rely on such prophecies and warnings - more or less trusting these sources more than what the Church has always taught.

I think private revelations such as those attributed to Bl. Anna Katherine Emmerich, as well as the revelations attributed to Our Lady of Good Success in Quito, and even the dubious message of La Salette, may have influenced much of the resistance we see today from traditionalists to Pope Francis as well as just about everything written by the Council Fathers at Vatican II.

One reads direct quotations from spurious apparitions and private revelation in the com boxes of blogs which 'shun' anyone with a contrary opinion to their decoding of the Great Apostasy, while even the posts on such blogs suggest Francis is an anti-Pope, and false prophet, based on the same spurious prophecies.  As if God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, is going to trick Christians with a false Pope.

They will follow visionaries but ignore the Gospel.

I often quote St. John of the Cross on the dangers of private revelations and locutions and how our ways are not God's ways.  That we interpret things according to our bias and fears.  It amazes me that people will be online 24 hours a day yet miss the stories of media manipulation and dissimulation.  Recently news revealed Google was doing scientific testing, researching the reactions of users to particular stories and headlines intended to incite emotions in the reader.  The advertising industry uses similar information and tactics, and don't ignore what Snowden has been telling us about the NSA.  Likewise, do you think schismatics would be above publishing anything and everything coming from the post-conciliar Church in the most negative way possible, inciting further division among faithful Catholics?

The gates of hell will not prevail - Jesus Christ will not abandon the faithful.  The Church is the ark ...

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. - Catechism of the Catholic Church

Do not be double minded, do not put your faith in private revelations, private opinion, or schismatic fear-mongers - read the catechism, meditate the Gospel, avoid satisfying curiosity, frequent the sacraments and Mass, and pray, pray, pray.   The Pope is Christ's vicar on earth.

St. Elijah, pray for us.