Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Attraction of Traditionalism.

The Traditionalist Network.

I've been thinking and reading articles filled with ominous anticipation over the Pan Amazon Synod.  Lay people are gathering in Rome to pray for the protection of St. Michael against diabolic manipulation of the synod.  Likewise priests are praying a special exorcism prayer on the eve of the feast of St. Michael - praying at a special time, and priests around the world are invited to join in.  I'm not sure who initiated these things, but it surely can't hurt to pray in this way.  It's a good thing, very similar to Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider's initiative to pray the rosary and fast for the Church before the synod.  Nothing wrong with that.

I just do not understand the sense of panic which seems to underlie these efforts.  It seems to me many are projecting fears and suspicions onto the synod based on the working draft, or proposals to be discussed.  It seems to me all the conspiracy theories and contention since the Vatican Council is reaching a crescendo these days.

I'm always curious as to how and why this came to be.  I've been reading some of the rad-trad sites and linking together much of the post-conciliar-anti-papal propaganda.  What attracts faithful Catholics to these 'movements'?  They are movements within the Church, not schismatic groups, but rather close to schism.  They are well funded in both North and South America.

Traditionalists forming a remnant.

I think people - even people like me - are attracted to the traditional devotions these groups embody.  I have gone to some of their websites to get information on saints and the Blessed Virgin under her various titles.  Their literature is very good.  They also supply prayers and devotionals no longer in usage among contemporary Catholics.  Their devotion to Fatima and the Rosary is a sort of imprimatur that their apostolate is indeed faithful to the Holy Father and the Magisterium.  They also attract many devout Catholics because they are actively pro-life and against such things as same sex marriage.  They demonstrate and are often more aggressive in these apostolates than some other groups.  They are also very much - even literally - cloaked in religion.  It is related to clericalism, which Pope Francis so often warns against, stating more recently:  "Clericalism confuses priestly 'service' with priestly 'power.'"  (Therefore, is it any wonder these types resist the Holy Father?)

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira 1968

Christopher White, writing for Crux covers it better than I could, although thanks to his article, I've researched sources I've long been familiar with, connecting the dots of conspiracy theory and anti-papal propaganda.  In covering the resistance, White identifies one source for the anti-synod propaganda:  "The Pan-Amazon Synod Watch, which was created by the Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute (IPCO) and its “sister organizations,” the right-wing Societies for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)."

Before reading his article, I wasn't aware of the site - Pan-Amazon Synod Watch.  The name of the site is reminiscent of the sede site, "Novus Ordo Watch" - a site I believe many of the rad-trad sites are in agreement with.  TFP and its 'affiliates' is a network which has been operating since the Council, and the influence of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira cannot be underestimated.

The Godfather of the Synod Resistance
Oliveira is in many ways the godfather of the resistance to the Amazon synod; he was just as much a critic of Pope John Paul II’s outreach to the indigenous communities of the region as his organization is of Pope Francis today.
At age 24, Oliveira became the youngest congressman in the history of Brazil. After creating the Catholic Electoral League to mobilize traditionalist Catholics, he was a trenchant critic of the pan-continental bishops’ organization created in the 1950s, the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM).
Oliveira was in Rome in the 1960s during the Second Vatican Council and described it as “a point in history as sad as the Death of Our Lord.” In 1985, the Brazilian bishops rejected the movement for its “lack of communion … with the Church in Brazil, its hierarchy, and the Holy Father.”
Father Dário Bossi, provincial superior of the Comboni Missionaries in Brazil, who has worked in the Brazilian Amazon region of Maranhão for over a decade, told Crux that Oliveira had a “fascist ideology” and that TFP is “an elite movement, which has never been in communion with the Brazilian episcopate.”
In particular, Oliveira did not hide his disdain for indigenous Catholics, whom he saw as incompletely converted pagans. - Christopher White

Restoring the aristocratic.

It's a bit disconcerting, since some Cardinals and Bishops are persuaded by the ideology underlying many of these groups and movements.  For instance, the Fatima Crusader founder, Father Gruner and those linked to him, promoted ideas concerning Fatima and the infiltration of the Vatican which have almost become mainstream these days.  Even Cardinal Burke seems to be influenced by some of the more radical ideas these groups have promoted over the years - such as the need to do the Consecration of Russia over again..  How many people follow TFP and Tradition in Action, or who read The Remnant and their contributors, have any idea what a propaganda machine these sites have become.

Tradition In Action and Fr. Gruner's movement promoted the absurd claim Sr. Lucia had been replaced by a double.  Similarly, Bayside and other fringe groups connected with it, promoted the incredible story of Pope Paul VI replaced by a double.  Fake news reigns with these rad-trad groups and has influenced and corrupted good priests and religious, as well as bishops. I think we are witnessing that today.

Anyway - I've spent too much time on this, but perhaps others more capable can expose the 'network' behind all of this - hidden behind the baroque facade of traditional devotion, splendid vestments, and the Extraordinary Form.

Mgr João Scognamiglio Clá Dias.
Founder of Heralds of the Gospel,
an off shoot of TFP.
(All photos are Heralds of the Gospel images.)

Friday, September 27, 2019

The little seminarian martyr and the saturno...

Blessed Rolando Rivi.

After reading about the young saint, I felt a deeper appreciation of the traditional garb of priests, the cassock and saturno. In 1944 after the German invasion of Italy, the seminaries were closed. A young seminarian Rolando Maria Rivi returned home, yet continued to wear his cassock, insisting "I am studying to be a priest and the cassock is the sign that I belong to Jesus.”

Despite anticlerical sentiment in his area, Rolando wore the outward sign that he was still a seminarian and candidate for the priesthood. The cassock with the saturno was the ordinary form of dress for seminarians at that time. [Bl. Rolando's example reminded me of another young martyr, Bl. Isidore Bakanja, the Africa Scapular martyr - when his persecutors ordered him to remove his scapular, Isidore refused and was severely flogged.]

I continue to have a deeper respect for priests and seminarians who choose to wear the cassock, or wear it because it is the custom in the diocese they serve. It is a wonderful witness.

It seems to me when the Pope expresses criticism of some of those who adopt the traditional clerical garb, he is warning against 'vain rejoicing' in the clerical status, if you will. For instance, if a priest layers expensive clothing upon his ordinary clerical-wear, and models and parades about to impress others with his taste and style and the expense of fine tailoring, that's vain and narcissistic - not unlike the ostentatious behavior of a Pharisee. When the Pope is critical of such things, he's not unlike the spiritual director who offers precautions against vain rejoicing in natural and spiritual goods.

That said - it doesn't concern me, but I think it's weird how people get so offended by what the Pope says about these things. Perhaps there is something for them to be learned from it, that is if they feel so insulted by it?  Why do they think the Pope is talking about them?

Some priests seem to want to use the saturno as a sort of assault weapon in reaction to the Pope and the ordinary form of things in the Church. E.g. Fr. Z has teamed up once again with a Catholic supply company to offer saturnos to seminarians and priests, as well as providing information on how to fund the project, urging seminarians to order now. It's a harmless little protest - but it's part of the resistance and rejection of Pope Francis.

Blessed Rolando, pray for us, pray for the Pope.

An account of the martyrdom of Blessed Rolando.

On April 10, 1945, Rolando was taken by a group of Communist insurgents, who forced him to go with them into the woods.
Friday, April 13, 1945, after three days of torture and humiliation, the insurgents brought him to a forest in the village of Piane di Monchio, where there was already a grave dug. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon. They hurled him to the ground and then forced him to kneel on the edge of the grave. Before they killed him, Rolando asked for – and was granted – a moment to pray for his parents. Even then, he reaffirmed his belonging to Christ. The Communist insurgents then murdered him with two shots of the pistol. He was fourteen years old.

A Thought From St. Vincent De Paul

[M]ost people offend God by passing judgment on the things others do, especially important people, not knowing the reasons why they are doing what they do; for when one does not know the primary cause of some matter, what conclusions can he draw from it? - Vincent De Paul

Thursday, September 26, 2019

This! This is the Pope's definition of clericalism, which many refuse to accept and understand.

"Clericalism has a direct consequence in rigidity." 

I'll just reprint the following section from the Holy Father's Q and A with the Jesuits of Mozambique and Madagascar.  How anyone could possibly misinterpret the Pope's teaching is beyond me.  It seems to me, those who do so may be caught up in the clericalism Pope Francis cautions against.

Fr. Joachim Biriate, the provincial’s socius, asks a question: “How can we avoid falling into clericalism during formation for priestly ministry?”
Clericalism is a real perversion in the Church. The shepherd has the ability to go in front of the flock to show the way, stay in the middle of the flock to see what happens within, and also be at the rear of the flock to make sure that no one is left behind. Clericalism, on the other hand, demands that the shepherd always stays ahead, sets a course, and punishes with excommunication those who stray from the flock. In short, the very opposite of what Jesus did. Clericalism condemns, separates, beats and despises the people of God.
I once went to confess in a sanctuary in northern Argentina. After Mass, I left in the company of another priest. A woman approached him with pictures and rosaries, asking him to bless those objects. My friend explained to her: “You have been to Mass and at the end of Mass you already received the blessing; therefore, everything has already been blessed.” But the woman kept asking for his blessing. And the priest continued with his theological explanation: “Is Mass the sacrifice of Christ?” And the woman said “Yes!” “Is it the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ?” And the woman said “Yes!” “And you believe that Christ with his blood saved us all?” And the woman said “Yes!” At that very moment the priest saw a friend of his and was distracted. And the woman immediately turned to me, asking, “Father, will you give me the blessing?” The poor people should not have to beg in this way for a blessing! Clericalism does not take into account the people of God.
In Latin America there is much popular piety, and it is very rich. One of the explanations given for the phenomenon is that this happened because the priests were not interested, and therefore could not clericalize it. Popular piety has aspects needing correction, yes, but it expresses the sovereignty of the holy people of God, without clericalism. Clericalism confuses priestly “service” with priestly “power.” Clericalism is rise and rule. It’s called “climbing” in Italian.
The ministry understood not as service but as “promotion” to the altar is the fruit of a clerical mentality. I can think of an extreme example. Deacon means “servant.” But in some cases clericalism paradoxically affects precisely the “servants,” the deacons. When they forget that they are the custodians of service, then the desire to clericalize and be “promoted” to the altar emerges.
Clericalism has a direct consequence in rigidity. Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn on their heads? Behind all the rigid clericalism there are serious problems. I had to intervene recently in three dioceses with problems that expressed themselves in these forms of rigidity that concealed moral problems and imbalances.
One dimension of clericalism is the exclusive moral fixation on the sixth commandment. Once a Jesuit, a great Jesuit, told me to be careful in giving absolution, because the most serious sins are those that are more angelical: pride, arrogance, dominion… And the least serious are those that are less angelical, such as greed and lust. We focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip and lies. The Church today needs a profound conversion in this area.
On the other hand, great shepherds give people a lot of freedom. The good shepherd knows how to lead his flock without enslaving it to rules that deaden people. Clericalism, on the other hand, leads to hypocrisy, even in religious life.
I often tell the story of a Jesuit in formation. His mother was seriously ill and he knew that she would not live much longer. He lived in another city in the same country, and so he asked his provincial to be moved closer to his mother so as to be able to spend more time with her. The provincial said that he would think about it before God and would answer him before leaving early in the morning the next day. The young Jesuit stayed in the chapel that night for a long time, praying that the Lord would grant him grace. But the provincial, since he had to leave early, did not really think much about it and wrote all the answers to the petitions he had received and gave them to the minister of the community[7] to hand them over the following day. Among them was the answer to this young man. The minister, since it was late and he thought that everyone was sleeping, put the letters at the doors of those concerned. The young man, who returned to his room from the chapel late at night, saw the letter from the provincial and opened it. He realized it was dated the next day. It said, “After reflecting, praying, celebrating Mass and making long discernment before the Lord, I think you should stay in this place.” This is clericalism, it is the hypocrisy to which clericalism leads. The young Jesuit did not lose his vocation, but he never forgot that hypocrisy. Clericalism is essentially hypocritical. - La Civita Cattolica

Yes!  This is exactly why I love Pope Francis so much.  He understands very well what is going on in the Church and the needs of the people of God.  I stand with the Pope!

Notice the Detail, Terry Nelson, 2010
8' x 8" acrylic on canvas

I especially love the following excerpt - and I believe I understand it from my own experience, because for years I focused upon sins against chastity while ignoring many other sins, which I didn't consider all that bad - primarily sins against charity and justice.
"One dimension of clericalism is the exclusive moral fixation on the sixth commandment. Once a Jesuit, a great Jesuit, told me to be careful in giving absolution, because the most serious sins are those that are more angelical: pride, arrogance, dominion… And the least serious are those that are less angelical, such as greed and lust. We focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip and lies. The Church today needs a profound conversion in this area." - Pope Francis

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

St. Hildegarde and Dr. Marshall and Fr. Z's Theories On the Katechon

 Representation of Antichrist in Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias

“'The last act of the Holy Spirit', the discovery of its constructive mystery in history." 

Many today, even Fr. Z, are thinking about the Antichrist. I mention Fr. Z because he recently wrote a post wondering who or what the restrainer is, which restrains the Antichrist.
St. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2 about an eschatological concept, “the restrainer”. 
According to Paul, before the “Day of the Lord” comes the “Son of Perdition” or “Antichrist” must show up. Hence, if we haven’t seen the Son of Perdition, then the end is not upon us. Therefore, we must conduct ourselves not as if the world is about to end, but rather as if we are in it for the long haul. 
But wait, there’s more. Paul says that before the Son of Perdition comes, that which restrains him must be removed. The word Paul uses for this “restrainer” is katechon. Paul uses this in two forms, masculine and neuter. 
Alas, Paul doesn’t describe the katechon. We are left to speculate. What is “that which restrains” or “the restrainer”? - Fr. Z
Fr. Z seems to think the traditional liturgy may be the 'restrainer', as well as the contemplative life of nuns and monks.  You can read his post, but I was fascinated by the concept of the 'restrainer'.  Most Christians would probably say it is the Holy Spirit, and therefore the life of the Spirit living in the Church, with all his gifts at work in those who believe.  I think.  I don't know much about it, except for what the catechism teaches.

It also seems to me the Blessed Virgin might well be the restrainer.  As spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Church, she seems the likely candidate to me, especially since in numerous private revelations she is alleged to have stated 'I cannot hold back the hand of the Lord much longer' - or something to that effect.  In the last book of the Bible we read, "The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come!'"  This is the Church, isn't it?

St. Hildegarde's Vision of the Church
Giovanni Gasparro.

"The katechon is a biblical concept which has subsequently developed into a notion of political philosophy."

Some people - perhaps many traditionalists, see the restrainer in terms of the Church and Western Civilization.  I came to that conclusion with regard to Bannon and his political philosophy regarding the rise of militant Islam and its threat to European culture.  To a great extent it is a politicized, ideological point of view, which is very rad-trad - a place many of the end-timer theories tend to lead - if not originate from.  I'm not well read on the subject and believe it to be a distraction from trying to lead a devout life, so I'll leave it to scholars to figure out.  Just beware those who with no authorization from the Church make claims that they have figured it all out.

I was curious to read what others may have said regarding the identity of the 'restrainer'.  Searching online, I came across a comment on another blog, taken from the Scivias of St. Hildegarde, describing some details of her vision of the Antichrist, which are quite weird, BTW.  After reading Hildegard's vision of the Church and the imagery she used, I was reminded of Dr. Taylor Marshall's vision of the Church, thinking to myself - maybe he wasn't so crazy? Or maybe Hilde was bingein'? Just joking.  Although, perhaps it's possible that Marshall was influenced by the imagery in St. Hildegarde's writings?  I don't know.

Below is a section from St. Hildegarde, followed by Dr. Marshall's account of his vision.

"The image of the woman before the altar in front of the eyes of God that I saw earlier was now also shown to me again so that I could also see her from the navel down. From the navel to the groin she had various scaly spots. In her [genitalia] there appeared a monstorous and totally black head with fiery eyes, ears like the ears of a donkey, nostrils and mouth like those of a lion, gnashing with vast open mouth and sharpening its horrible iron teeth in a horrid manner.
From that head to the knees the image was white and red, bruised as with many a beating. From the knees to the two white transverse zones which crosswise seemed to touch the bottoms of the feet from above, the image appeared to be bloody. Lo, the monstrous head removed itself from its place with so great a crash that the entire image of the woman was shaken in all its members. - (Scivias 3:11; Translated by B McGinn, Visions of the End, pp101-102) - Source

"I was doing an examination of conscience before bed. and I was thinking on that point of being worried… about the Holy Catholic Church, Mother Church."
And as I was, suddenly I saw this beautiful woman. She had blond hair, she was perfect, no wrinkles, no spots, and I immediately discerned that this was Holy Mother the Church.
And she was writhing in pain. She was in a bed, there were sheets on her, and she was very sick. And I noticed that her breasts were engorged with milk, tons of milk. And there were babies and children crying out to her that were hungry. And she wanted to feed them, and she was upset, but she was so sick she could hardly sit up from her bed.
And then I thought to myself, ‘Oh she’s poisoned, she doesn’t want to nurse the children because then she’ll give them the poison.’ And then there was this voice, it was like God or an angel, I don’t know, and it said, ‘No, the milk is still pure.‘
“And so I saw her there in all of her beauty, but so sick and struggling and loving those children and seeing all that milk stored up there. And I realized that the sacramental graces, the dogma, the doctrine, the morality, all of that in the Church is pure.
There’s poison in the Church, the Church is hurting, there’s always been some poison in the Church. And Mother Church still loves us and Mother Church still wants to give us milk, and she will, but it’s a difficult time. But the milk is pure. The sacramental graces of Holy Mother Church is pure. She’s still beautiful, she’s still immaculate, there’s still nothing sinful, wrong, or broken with Mother Church. But there has been introduced something into her that is poisonous, and so she’s struggling a little bit.
So we just need to love Mother Church, and we need to be fed by Mother Church, and be patient, and know that any incorruption that enters the Church does not affect the milk flow. The nutrition that Mother Church gives us is always pure, it’s always unadulterated, we can always trust that until the end of time." - Taylor Marshall
"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." - John of the Cross

I would recommend Catholics keep their catechisms and the Scriptures close by, and pray - especially the rosary.  Cardinal Sarah writes realistically and quite well about our times, with no need to cite visionaries and doomsday speculation.  I especially like this quote from him:
I believe that we are at a turning point in the history of the Church. Yes, the Church needs a profound and radical reform that must begin with a reform of the way of being and the way of life of priests. The Church is holy in herself. But we prevent this holiness from shining through our sins and worldly concerns. - Cardinal Sarah
These matters are far above my competence to discern or interpret.  I think we need to be cautious, especially when one uses visions and speculative interpretation of scripture to denigrate the Novus Ordo and Pope Francis.

I always keep the following in mind when reading about private revelations and apparitions, especially regarding the end times - from St. Annibale Maria de Francia:
“Being taught by the teachings of several mystics, I have always deemed that the teachings and locutions of even holy persons, especially women may contain deceptions. Poulain attributes errors even to saints the Church venerates on the altars. How many contradictions we see between Saint Brigid, D’Agreda, Emmerich, etc. We cannot consider the revelations and the Locutions as words of Scripture. Some of them must be omitted, and others explained in a right, prudent meaning.” - Source