Site has been Updated, posted on September 16, 2017
I’m sorry for any inconvenience caused by website issues I have been experiencing recently. My website has been updated to use a newer content management system (CMS) to resolve them. It now uses WordPress, and has some cosmetic changes. However all articles are present.
New Article, posted August 11, 2017
The Beatific Vision and Evangelization at the End of Time:
My two previous articles – Under Every Green Tree and the Prostitution of Traditional Catholicism, and Under Every Green Tree, Part II: Democracy and the Spirit of Antichrist are now posted at the bottom of the Menu on the left side of this page.
The Beatific Vision
And Evangelization at the End of Time
“But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads,Because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:28)
The above-quoted scripture occurs in the midst of St. Luke’s cataloguing of the disasters which will precede the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. Matthew and Mark offer similar accounts. There will be false prophets, and many falsely coming in Christ’s Name even to the point of claiming to be He. There shall be wars, pestilences, famines, earthquakes, all sorts of signs in heaven and on earth, and “men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world”. Christians shall be persecuted and put to death, and hated by all nations. The charity of many shall grow cold. Brother shall betray brother, the Father his son, and children shall rise up against their parents and work their death. St. Paul, in characterizing what is obviously to be the general condition of mankind at the time of Christ’s Coming, offers the following:
“In the last days, shall come dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked, without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, unmerciful, without kindness, traitors, stubborn, puffed up, and lovers of pleasures more than God: Having an appearance indeed of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Tim 3:2-5).
Many, over the course of the past 2,000 years of Christian history, have predicted the imminent end of the world. I do not wish to imitate their errors. But, unquestionably, the present condition of both the world and the Church seem to fulfill the Gospel prophecies about the end of the world to an extent which make any other such crises in history seem pale indeed. We are indeed in need of a “new evangelization”. But we are not in need of an evangelization which preaches a false mercy towards a world which is now immersed in sin, ignorance, and rejection of God. As St. Paul says in the above-quoted passage, “In the last days, shall come dangerous times.” What is needed to save and protect man from these dangers is the Truth that liberates: “Know the truth and the truth shall make you free”. (John 8:32)
It is my belief that any truly effective effort towards cooperating with God’s plan that all men be converted and “come to the knowledge of the mystery of God” (Col. 2: 2), must now center upon the End which God has willed for all men. It must teach them to lift up their heads towards God. In order to do so, it must place before their eyes the truth of the Beatific Vision, which is indeed the Final End for which God created all men. And, in order to understand this end, we must understand his beginning and the nature with which he was created.
Catholicism is the only Faith which believes in the complete perfectibility of man. It is the only religion in the world which believes with certainty that man was created for the ultimate destiny of seeing the very Essence of God (which in Catholic theology is called the Beatific Vision). This also entails that nothing truly human will be destroyed, but rather perfected – his intellect and heart, his desires and passions, his social relationships, and even his body. Nothing of true value will be lost, but only made eternally perfected and glorious.
Such a future for man can only be possible if God created man with a nature which somehow bears a real affinity to God’s Infinite Nature. Holy Scripture declares precisely this truth: “Let us make man to our image and likeness.” It is in penetrating to the depths of this image and likeness, which has not been lost despite all the effects of original and actual sin, that we may come to a very fruitful understanding of man’s final destiny. Further, it is only here where contemporary man, lost in the darkness of sin and disbelief, can possibly still hear the call of Truth and thus raise his mind and heart to the coming of Christ. In other words, in order to understand man’s final destiny, we must first come to an understanding of who and what he is in the depths of his being.
That Which Remains
The vast majority of men in this so-called civilized, and at least semi-educated, world have lost their ability for intelligent thought. In imitation of modern analytical science (and as explored in many of my articles), they have profoundly absorbed the principle of contradiction into the depths of their thinking. They believe that the false can be true, the ugly – beautiful, evil – good, the human –divine, and they now justify every form of perversity under the disguise of diversity and call it love. They have, in other words, lost the ability to see the substantial nature of anything. All is absorbed into a sort of evolutionary process of instability and becoming – a world of contradictories and endless paradoxes where anything goes. It is the land of “Whatever!”
In addition, contemporary man is overloaded with information – TV, the Internet, Emails, Facebook, Tweeting, and every conceivable form of printed materials. The human mind and heart are very finite; and in such a situation of immense overload, the intellect and will short-circuit and become incapable of exercising that discernment and judgment which is necessary in order to penetrate to Truth, or to make those choices which are morally healthy. Truth , in other words, even when presented to the modern mind, is experienced as another “bite” of information, and thus relativized. I often have thought that Satan might be fond of something like EWTN being on Television. There is nothing more destructive to the absolute demands of God as to make His Truth one option among many in a multi-media venue.
Considering this present, almost -universal, state of man’s mind, heart, and soul, it would seem that old forms of evangelization are doomed to almost complete failure. I remember reading about and being impressed by the courage and conviction of the Catholic Evidence Guild which operated with considerable effect (and conversions) during the first part of the 20th century. It was largely a lay movement (under clerical supervision), which carefully trained its speakers to stand on “soapboxes” in public places (usually public parks) in order to give carefully prepared arguments for Catholic doctrines. Such a method of evangelization would today elicit mostly a sort of amused scorn and mockery – not only because human beings have largely lost any ability or patience for sustained and systematic thought and argument, but because they are now swayed to a vastly greater degree by sound bites and finely tuned methods of crowd manipulation and brainwashing (witness that there are approximately 623,800 persons employed in the advertising and marketing fields in the U.S), and live in countries where appeals to full immersion in the life of the lower passions have come to predominate. Further, any strong appeal to passions associated with the intellect is almost always associated with violent agendas – be they social, political, or religious. There is left little room for a passion which seeks that Truth which is liberating to the soul and which leads to the Wisdom of God.
And yet there still remains, largely hidden in the depths of this mire, a human nature created by God – and created in His image – which can never be totally obscured or destroyed. If we are to engage in any attempt to evangelize the modern world, we are therefore obliged to understand “what remains” of this nature, and then structure our approach accordingly.
Creation Ex Nihilo
The Life of Christ is the Light of Men
The entire structure of Catholic teaching concerning the affinity which exists between the human soul and the nature of God – an affinity which enables man in this life to know substantive things about the Essence of God, and to finally come to that state of Blessedness in which he possess direct knowledge and vision of the Divine Essence in Heaven – is erected upon a proper understanding of the Catholic doctrine creation ex nihilo (creation from nothing).
The doctrine creation ex nihilo is absolutely unique to the Judaeo-Christian tradition. No other religion has postulated anything even remotely similar. It can be known only through Divine Revelation. But it is also true that, although it has been historically accepted by virtually all those who consider themselves Christians, it is little understood, and even less integrated into a consistent theology and metaphysics.
The doctrine creation ex nihilo simply states that God, through an Act of His infinite Intellect and Will, created everything which exists outside of His Divine Being from nothing. It also demands that we affirm that every created thing possesses no independent being of its own apart from the continuing sustaining-creative Act of God. St. Thomas in fact teaches that, apart from the aspect of initial creation, God’s sustaining Act is of the same nature as His creative Act. St. Paul, in addressing the sophisticated and skeptical Greeks, offers the following:
“God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwellleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is he served with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath and all things; And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation. That they should seek God, if happily they may feel after him or find him, although he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and are….” (Acts 17: 24-28).
When this is properly understood, it has immense consequences for our understanding of many other Catholic doctrines, including the metaphysical and physical constitution of created things.
Modern man largely lives in a mindset which is like a cage, destructive of his freedom and innate dignity. It is a cage erected by modern reductive science (at the end of this article I have referenced a number of my articles dealing with this subject), in which everything human – mind, body, and passions – is reduced by what we rightly can label a reductive “atomism” (whether such alleged ultimate constituents be seen as “atoms”, “quanta”, “superstrings”, or whatever). In such a world, man is a trapped animal, determined in every conceivable way by material causation, and possessing no real freedom or individual personhood. In such a state, any claim to the real, absolute value of human life is delusional.
In direct opposition to such erroneous “scientific” reductionism, Catholic theology and anthropology (the science of man) teaches that man and all created things are created not only from nothing (from no pre-existing “material”), but also “by Him and in Him”. This necessitates that the created, substantial nature of all things be reducible only to God’s creative action. It also means that our world is completely real and substantial. This is in complete opposition to the world-view of modern analytical science.
Sometime ago I read John Horgan’s best-selling book The End of Science (Broadway Books, 1996). Mr. Horgan, former senior writer at Scientific American, interviewed several dozen of the most famous and prize-winning scientists in the world as to their views regarding the “meaning of science”, the “end of science”, etc. He discovered and chronicles what he calls a world of “ironic” science: a world in which virtually no one is sure of any reality, or that there even is such a thing; there is total confusion in regard to the science of epistemology – whether there is or can be any true correspondence between the human mind and objective reality (or whether this is even a valid distinction or question); there is radical discontinuum between the world of ordinary human experience and perception and the “scientific” apprehension of things; and yet most, including Mr. Horgan, still continue to believe in the supremacy of analytical science as an “unfolder” of the depths of reality.
None of these scientists, for instance, would have any idea as to how to connect the “scientific” understanding of water – of two atoms of Hydrogen compounded with one of Oxygen, constituted by electrons spinning at comparatively enormous distances around nuclei, with the whole thing being comprised of 99.999999999 % void – to the marvelous substance we know as water. They are, in other worlds, and in the most profound sense, “lost” in a world of suspicion in regard to the substantial reality of God’s creation, and therefore also of God Himself. Theirs is an insane world – a schizophrenic world – in which what is experienced by their God-given intelligence as substantively real is ultimately a delusion. And this is the poisoned ambiance in which the minds and hearts of virtually all people in the so-called civilized world are immersed. It is no wonder, therefore, that virtually all the nations and cultures of the world are descending at a geometric rate into irrationality, despair, violence, the murder of their unborn, and every perversion conceivable. Why should we be good or responsible if we are only a momentary blot upon the evolutionary landscape?
In direct opposition to this reductive “scientific” view of man is the Catholic teaching concerning the nature of every human being created by God. It is possibly best, and most beautifully, expressed in what is called The Prologue to the Gospel of St. John:
“In the beginning was the Word [Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1: 1-5).
It is much worth our while to ponder deeply what is meant by the truth that the life of Christ is the light of men.
Human intelligence is an extraordinary thing. There is no material explanation for the light of intelligence. We may certainly say that a certain material structure must be present in order for it to be there in a living human being, but it makes no sense to us whatever that such a spiritual phenomenon can be reduced to material causation. But intelligence is not only the light by which we know things, it is also the light by which we know things in a particular way. If physical things were reducible to atoms and their interchange with one another, and if our minds were only something which received these data and interchanges through the senses, we would never see a tree. There would in fact be no way to justify the notion that there even exists such a thing as a tree because there is no explanation for the unity and substantiality of anything. And we would certainly never be able to understand the giant oak as somehow identifiable with the small seedling that poked its head above the soil 80 years ago. We would in fact never see a human being or anything else possessing a substantial nature, but only the individual units of sense data which are in constant movement and change. And, of course, there is no explanation whatsoever of the interior identity I experience of being the same substantial individual at the age of 76 as I was at the age of 6. In other words, science cannot now, and never will, be able to explain the substantial world we see around us. Only the Catholic theology and philosophy brought to perfection in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas can.
Pope Pius XI stated succinctly: “We so heartily approve the magnificent tribute of praise bestowed upon this most divine genius that We consider that Thomas should be called not only the Angelic, but also the Common or Universal Doctor of the Church; for the Church has adopted his philosophy for her own.” ( Pius XI, Studiorum Ducem), And, Pope St. Pius X: “We therefore desired that all teachers of philosophy and sacred theology should be warned that if they deviate so much as a step, in metaphysics especially, from Aquinas, they exposed themselves to grave risk.” (Pius X, Doctoris Angelici).
St. Thomas writes:
“And thus we must needs say that the human soul knows all things in the eternal types, since by participation of these types we know all things. For the intellectual light itself which is in us, is nothing else than a participated likeness of the uncreated light, in which are contained the eternal types.” (I, 84, 5).
In other words, the reason we possess a true knowledge of substances is because God created the intellectual light within us as possessing a specific nature with the power to abstract from all the sense data which we received in order to perceive the substantial nature of things whose types or substantial forms exist eternally in the mind of God. There can be no material causation for such a phenomenon. It is a gift which derives entirely from the life of Christ.
Our Natural Knowledge of God
Having established the fact that the life that is in Christ is the light which enables man to know himself and the world around him, we now must proceed to an understanding of how it enables him to know God.
St. Thomas flatly states: “All knowers know God implicitly in all they know.” (De Veritate, Q.22, .2). This may indeed seem an extraordinary statement in the face of the fact that, especially in the modern age, untold numbers of people are either atheist or agnostic. But St. Thomas’ words simply reflect the words of St. Paul”:
“For the invisible things of him [God], from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, divinity: so that they are inexcusable.” (Romans 1: 20).
The First Vatican Council declared the following: “If anyone shall say that the One true God our Creator and Lord, cannot be certainly known by the natural light of human reason through created things; let him be anathema.”
In Thomistic philosophy there are five classic ways or arguments by which the existence of God is proved: the Argument from Motion, the Argument from Efficient Causality, the Argument from Contingent Being, the Argument from the Degrees of Being, and the Argument from what is now called “Intelligent Design”. This certainly is not the place to go into detail in regard to these arguments. What is important to understand for our purpose here is that all these arguments simply express in a logical way what is integral to our experience of the world, and the principles of thought by which we make sense of the world. And that this experience and thought pulsate with realities which point beyond our present world to an Infinite Being Who is the ultimate source of all the intelligence, movement, causation, etc. that we perceive and experience. We only need add that those persons who totally shut themselves off from such a possibility through atheism, can only be compared to the goldfish in a bowl who (if they could think) refuse to consider that this world is not the whole of reality. As for those who own to a position of agnosticism and thus claim to not know whether God exists, the only honest response, as scripture says, is to vehemently hunger and thirst after an answer. To do less is to hide human dignity under a bushel basket and deny any greatness to the human soul. It is simply to be a goldfish of another variety.
In other words, the man who denies the existence of God cannot claim the excuse of ignorance. Such a position can only be the product of self-deceit or ill-will.
But much more is given to us through Thomistic philosophy than proof of God’s existence. Man has once against been connected, in the deepest faculty of his soul – the light of his intellect – to God. Man’s knowledge is reliable because it is rooted in a participated likeness to the life of God’s intellect. And because we can now truly believe that man sees creation as God sees it, we can now also believe in the possibility of man seeing God, even as man is seen by God.
We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.” (1 Cor. 13: 12).
God, Whose intimacy to us is such that He sustains us in our natural being every moment of our lives, has yet willed for us a union with Him which infinitely surpasses our natural being and power. He has willed our deification – the vision of, and communion with, His Divine Essence.
In order to philosophically and theologically penetrate into how this can be possible we must understand something about a very key concept in Catholic philosophy and theology: what is termed “the Analogy of Being”.
God is the One Supreme Being and, as we have seen, this “Being” possesses a specific Nature. God created man in His own image and, therefore, the fundamental principle of man’s existence, as it is in God, is the principle of being – a being with a specific nature. Who man is, is determined by God creating his substantial form or essence out of nothing. And so we say that man is created in the image of God because he possesses a spiritual soul with the faculties of intellect and Will. The proper object of the intellect is truth; the highest expression of the will is love. And this love in order to be true, must indeed proceed from truth. Man’s nature therefore deeply reflects the Holy Trinity: The Son is eternally begotten as the Truth of the Father’s Supreme Being, and the Holy Spirit of Love proceeds from both Father and Son.
This truth concerning the Analogy of Being between man and God is immensely important for understanding man’s relationship to God, and the possibility of his deification. The essence of God is not totally incomprehensible to man. The essence of God is transcendent, but not remote. As we have seen, the Analogy of Being provides us with a way of understanding that there is an intimate relationship between our highest values and Who God is in His Essence. It also provides us, as we shall see, with the ability to understand that there is a certain proportion (St. Thomas’ word) between God and man which is the basis upon which God’s Grace can enable us to see and be united with His very Essence in the Beatific Vision.
This vision of the Essence of God is made possible, first of all, because God is not unknowable, but, on the contrary, is infinitely knowable. St. Thomas writes:
“Since everything is knowable according as it is actual, God, Who is pure act without any admixture of potentiality, is in Himself supremely knowable.” (I, 12, A.1).
As we have already demonstrated, “all knowers know God implicitly in all they know.” (De Veritate, Q. 22, a.2). This knowledge, while not explicit, yet establishes the truth that the human mind possesses an intellectual light which possesses the potentiality to be perfected, through the grace of God, in the fullness of Divine Vision.
As we have seen, this concept concerning the infinite “knowability” of God is in direct opposition to the rest of the world’s major religions.
Second, this vision of the Essence of God is possible because there is true proportion between the intellect of man and the Essence of God. This “proportion” extends to the possibility of the Vision of the Divine Essence. St. Thomas, in Summa Contra Gentiles, LIV, writes:
“There is indeed proportion between the created intellect and understanding God, a proportion not of measure, but of aptitude….”
There of course cannot be a “proportion of measure” simply because God’s Intellect is Infinite, and ours finite. But there certainly can be some sort of proportion of aptitude since the light of our intellect is a created participation in the very light and life of God. This proportion (a proportion of aptitude in accordance with the analogy of being) is also why, as St. Thomas says, the positive Names of God such as Essence, Being, Love, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty apply to God substantially. In other words, the highest values of which the human intellect can conceive bear an actual proportion to Who God Is. And this is also the reason why the grace which is called the Light of Glory is able to raise the created intellect to the direct Vision of God’s Essence. St. Thomas further writes:
“Moreover, this light raises the created intellect to the vision of God, not on account of its affinity to the divine substance, but on account of the power which it receives from God to produce such an effect: although in its being it is infinitely distant from God, as the second argument stated. For this light unites the created intellect to God, not in being but only in understanding.” (Ibid).
The human intellect, in other words, created in the image of God and bearing a proportion of aptitude to the vision of God, also bears the aptitude to receive the Grace of Glory from God which will enable it to see God’s Essence. Again, in Article 5 of Question 12, St. Thomas writes:
“On the contrary, It is written: In thy light we shall see light. (Ps. xxxv. 10).
“I answer that, Everything which is raised up to what exceeds its nature, must be prepared by some disposition above its nature; as, for example, if air is to receive the form of fire, it must be prepared by some disposition for such a form. But when any created intellect sees the essence of God, the essence of God itself becomes the intelligible form of the intellect. …And this is the light spoken of in the Apocalypse (xxi. 23). The glory of God hath enlightened it – vis. the society of the blessed who see God. By this light the blessed are made deiform – that is, like to God, according to the saying: When He shall appear we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is. (1 John, ii. 2).”
St. Thomas gives us the following description of the blessed in Heaven:
“But the blessed possess these three things in God; because they see Him, and in seeing Him, possess Him as present, having the power to see Him always; and possessing Him, they enjoy Him as the ultimate fulfillment of desire.” (Ibid).
This Vision of the Divine Essence is not to be confused with “comprehending” God in all His Fullness. Again, St. Thomas:
“God, whose being is infinite, as was shown above, is infinitely knowable. Now no created intellect can know God infinitely. For the created intellect knows the divine essence more or less perfectly in proportion as it receives a greater or lesser light of glory. Since therefore the created light of glory received into any created intellect cannot be infinite, it is clearly impossible for any created intellect to know God in an infinite degree. Hence it is impossible that it should comprehend God.” (Ibid, A.7).
In other words, because we are granted the eternal vision of God’s Essence does not at all mean that we will ever totally comprehend Him. This, again, is a beautiful affirmation of our humanity which will not be destroyed, but only perfected, in Heaven. Even in terms of human relationships we speak of really coming to know a person, of somehow having seen to the very core of who he or she is, and of being united in love, without this in any way meaning that we possess total comprehension of all that is in that person’s mind and heart. In other words, man does not comprehend God, not because His Essence in unknowable, but because He is infinitely knowable and therefore never subject to full comprehension from a finite being. Eternity can never exhaust the infinite depth and richness which will be the subject of our vision of Him. There is no possibility of our ever becoming bored, or that we will ever cease to be immeasurably delighted in our vision of, and life with, God.
This depth and richness that will be our life in Heaven is pre-figured by the extraordinary richness of Catholic faith and life here on earth, especially to be found in Catholic doctrine.
I have often encountered Protestants who will say something like, “ I believe in Jesus Christ, not in doctrine” – as though to say that doctrine is something which detracts from the centrality of Jesus Christ in our faith. On the contrary, doctrine is simply the putting into words truths about God, His Creation, and our true relationship to Christ. In other words, if we separate doctrine from Christ, We separate the Word and Truth from the Life that is in Christ. Catholic Doctrine is the Radiance of Light that is the Life of Christ. I therefore offer the following thoughts on several Catholic doctrines which have historically proven a “sign of contradiction to the world.
During the process of my conversion I found myself being deeply drawn towards Our Blessed Mother and the Rosary. Coming from a nominally Protestant background in my youth, it was almost inexplicable to me at the time. It was as though some depth within me was being drawn towards Mary, despite the lack of any rational explanation. Understanding only came gradually.
Our Lord said: “Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 18:3-4). I have spoken all along in this article of true Catholic intelligence, but such intelligence is in no way to be equated with merely being an intellectual. Catholic intelligence is in fact equated with that act of a human being which, with the absolutely necessary help of God’s grace, he submits his mind and heart to God’s revealed Truth. This is the act of Faith, and it is an act of spiritual childhood which responds to God’s Life and Light being presented to the soul. It is the deepest act of human intelligence by which we ascend, with the necessary aid of God’s grace, into the Life of Christ.
Our Lord’s act of the Incarnation is an act in reverse – an act by which He descended into the womb of Our Blessed Mother in order to unite himself to our humanity. And just as Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and formed within the Immaculate Womb of Mary, so He has willed that we should be conceived by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and formed into the spiritual children of God through her intercession and Motherly love. Christ’s gift of Mary to mankind (beginning with His gift of Mary as Mother to John from the Cross) is therefore something which in no way detracts from Christ as the only Mediator between God and man, but rather something which only serves to further the penetration of the fruits of His Incarnation into the hearts of men. The person who concludes that Mary detracts from Christ, might as well also conclude that the necessity of the water used in baptism does so also. Such a person simply does not understand the richness of the Incarnation, or the depths of God’s Mercy.
A second Catholic belief which has proven to be a great sign of contradiction, especially to Protestants, is the doctrine of Purgatory. Again, it is seen by Protestants as a detraction from Christ – most specifically, as a denial of the efficacy of Christ’s Redemptive Sacrifice on the Cross. For a Catholic it is just the opposite. Christ’s Sacrifice was indeed accomplished for the salvation of all men, but the application of its infinite merits to the human soul is dependent upon the co-operation of man. It is, in other words, totally respectful of the free will of man, created in the image of his Maker – an image which has indeed been obscured by sin, but not destroyed.
It was the position of men like Luther and Calvin that man possessed no freedom except to sin, and that God’s saving grace was not given to man for his interior transformation and ultimate perfection, but that it was only imputed to him as righteousness. In other words, grace was only a covering which hid man’s sinfulness from God’s vision. I call this “gunnysack grace”, by which man is dragged off to Heaven while still a sinner. It is something worthy of neither God nor man.
Our Lord declared, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8), and the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelation) states “Nothing impure will ever enter it [Heaven]” (this translation is directly from the King James Bible: Rev. 21:27). It would simply be foolishness to deny that many depart from this life in the friendship and charity of God, while yet also possessing much that remains to be purified and perfected. In the Book of Proverbs we read, “For a just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again; but the wicked shall fall down into evil. (24:16). Purification takes time, and this time is mercifully continued after our departure from this life. Anything less is unworthy of either God’s mercy or man’s dignity and freedom.
This brings us to that Catholic doctrine which is probably the biggest “sign of contradiction” to the modern world: Original Sin. And unlike the specific doctrines which we have so far examined, this very central truth of our faith is a source of enormous contention not only to Protestants, but to all others in the modern world: atheists, agnostics, and virtually every other religion.
As stated above, it is a sign of contradiction to Protestants because it leaves man’s freedom and responsibility damaged, but intact and responsible. On the other hand, it is a source of enormous contention to the rest of the world because it lays all the responsibility for evil in this world not upon God, but upon man. And further, it has the audacity to claim that each one of us living today is inheritor of this fallen condition which began with the actual sins of one man and one woman.
As for the first part of this objection – that this doctrine lays all the responsibility for evil in this world upon man (and of course, with the help of the fallen angels) – this involves a fundamental choice for man. Each individual is obligated to look deeply within his heart (and this happens to include all the human intelligence which we have explored throughout this article), and make one of several choices. The first three are the following: 1) Nothing makes sense or has meaning; 2) God is ultimately responsible for the evil in this world; 3) Man is responsible for all the evil in this world. If one chooses either of the first two of these conclusions, the only sensible and courageous option is to get out of here: suicide. The third conclusion is of course the Catholic one, and necessitates conversion – both initial and continuing.
The fourth conclusion, which can indeed involve a good deal of human honesty and integrity, is to conclude that one does not know. Notice that I said “does not know”, and not “cannot know”; and further, that I also spoke of it as a “conclusion”, and not a “choice”. The person who concludes that he does not know is bound, if he possesses any dignity or magnanimity, to seek an answer to this most important of all questions. And Our Lord has promised that those who seek him in truth and perseverance shall find. The person who claims, on the other hand, that he cannot know (thus being a convicted agnostic), is really in the same position as the person who makes the first choice described above, and in so doing has cut himself off from any possibility of finding God. He is also in the position of our proverbial goldfish, who does not possess enough humanity, humility, or honesty to look outside of his bowl.
We now move on to the second part of the world’s objection to the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin – rejection of the truth that man’s fallen condition has been passed down, through generation, from Adam and Eve to all men. In answer to their objection, we begin by once again quoting part of St. Paul’s address to the Athenians:
“God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwellleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is he served with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath and all things; And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation.”
Unquestionably, the Catholic Church believes in a supernaturally established unity among all men such that the effects of the sin of one man (Adam) were passed down to all men. It also of course teaches that in becoming man, Our Lord Jesus Christ united Himself to all humanity, and that through His Life, Death, and Resurrection he merited salvation for every single man who will freely accept it.
It is difficult for modern man, immersed in cultures where democracy is practically a form of worship, and individual autonomy is identified with freedom, to understand such a concept of unity in regard to mankind. And yet it is everywhere in our history, tradition, language, and social life. It would seem that the very language which issues forth from the intellectual light that is within us is replete with this concept of the unity of mankind. Even those who reject God and propose to us a false humanism are forced into its use. They speak of such things as “human dignity”, the “freedom of man”, “the future of mankind”, “the evolution of mankind”, “the transcendence of mankind”, “the deification of man”.
The Bible itself begins man’s history with this plurality in unity: “And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.” (Gen 1: 26-27). God created man in the plural. This of course is profoundly imaged in the fact that man was created not to live alone, but in society, with the same laws governing one and all, that the basic foundation of any society lies in the family and the indissoluble unity between man and woman in marriage, and that it is in fact marriage itself which is the premium image for that ultimate fulfillment of mankind which in the Book of the Apocalypse is termed the Marriage of the Lamb.
Finally, it would be well to mention that this supernaturally established unity among all men is also the basis for the Catholic doctrine concerning what is called “The Communion of Saints”. Recognizing that the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ spans the barriers of space and time, and life and death, the Catholic Church teaches that our sacrifices and charity may help those who are being purified in Purgatory, that the Saints in Heaven may intercede for us, and that we may indeed pray to them to intercede with Our Lord for us. All this takes nothing away from Christ, but only serves to glorify the richness of the Incarnation, and the unity of all men in the Mystical Body of Christ.
The most tragic victims of the loss of true Catholic intelligence have been our youth. They have been deprived of the Light of Truth through a banal process of trying to bring the Catholic faith down to their dreary and deadly involvement in modern pop culture.
Recently, two of my high-school (home-schooled) age grandsons went to a 4-day “Steubenville Conference” for youth held in St. Paul, Minnesota. The younger was looking forward to it; the older one was reluctant, but decided to go. When they returned, I first asked the younger one how it went. His reply was two words: “A Catastrophe!”
He described a situation in which live, extremely loud, electronic music (Sonar Band) was often used to bring these young people to an emotional fever where they were hollering, crying, weeping, and falling down in what they termed “asleep (or “slain”) in the spirit”. Much of this was done in what was called the “Mosh Pit” set up at the front of the stage in the conference hall. The term “Mosh Pit originates from hardcore rock concerts in the 1980’s. According to the Wikipedia article on “Moshing”:
“Bad Brains, regarded as a band that “put moshing on the map,” used the term mash in lyrics and in concert stage banter to both incite and to describe the aggressive and often violent dancing of the scene. To “mash it up” was to go wild with the frenzy of the music. Due to his Jamaican-accented pronunciation of the word, fans heard this as mosh instead.”
The Wikipedia article details a number of deaths that have occurred in Mosh Pits. The practice eventually gravitated to other music genre’s, including alternative or so-called Christian Rock. In so doing it indeed become less violent, but arguably no less irrational.
At one point my grandson had to leave because the loudness of the music made him physically ill. Most shocking of all, this live electronic music, accompanied by the same “Charismatic” emotional excesses, was also performed (although not as loud), during Eucharistic Adoration. He also described a situation in which these youth, when not involved in sports, or at Eucharistic Adoration or Mass, were constantly on their Smart Phones, etc. He also encountered many forms of conversations in which no Catholic young man could be a participant.
The older one of my grandsons at first said that he might like to go another such Conference. When I asked him what he found there to be of spiritual benefit, he replied that there was the Mass, which was alright (although it apparently had the same kind of music, but not as loud), and confession ( apparently he had a good confessor). I replied that he could get the same in his local parish, and then asked if he would return for any other spiritual reasons. After about 10 minutes, he looked up from what he was doing (the family was playing a board game), and said, “Grandpa, there are no spiritual reasons for which I would go again.”
There are some very important things to be considered in this experience. In the first place, if my grandsons had not been home-schooled in their Catholic Faith by their excellent parents for 10 or 11 years, they could have suffered very grave spiritual damage at this Conference. Secondly, there were 2,000 young people at this Conference, sent by their respective parishes, to an event touted as a sort of culmination of their entire 10-12 year period of supposed Catholic education. That what these young people brought away from this Conference was at best superficial and hysterical, and at the worst simply bestial, cannot be denied by any serious Catholic. The question is, how many of these youth will now look back at what was promoted as Catholicism and shake all the Catholic dust off their feet as they leave what they will likely come to see as this “pathetic” modern Church?
It need not be this way. Catholic children possess from youth the light that is the life of Christ. It cries out for Catholic Truth. Our duty is not to lower the Faith down to their lower nature, but rather to feed the intelligence within them that awaits the Vision of God. I have written all that is above in order that this truth may be seen, and put into practice.
I offer the following two articles (from my website at www.waragainstbeing.com) for further study:
Science: Original and Final Sin, to be found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/42
The Restoration of the Supernatural In Accord with the Teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, to be found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/parti
Addendum: A Proposal
St. Paul writes:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels, and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding [intelligence] unto the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10: 4-5).
The above-quoted scripture is militant indeed. It is in fact simply an extension of Jesus’ final words to his disciples in the Gospel of Matthew: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
It is a frequently repeated adage of life in pluralistic modern cultures that “one never should discuss religion with friends.” Any Catholic who assumes such a position is at least implicitly denying his Faith and betraying Christ. If we do not thirst, hunger, pray, and work for the conversion of all men to the Catholic Faith, we cannot really call ourselves Christians. And this cannot be done without militant public witness and conversation. In being silent, we sin against the charity that is due every man. Further, every form of error has deep consequences. If we are to protect our children from corruption and loss of their souls, if we are to protect the innocent, if we are to have any hope of restoring social order, if we are not to be judged as one of those who “put our light under a bushel” (Mt. 5:13-16), then we must now bring our Faith to the public forum. I remember reading something written by St. John Chrysostom to the effect that in the city of Constantinople of his time, everyone was a philosopher – the butcher in the market place, the candle-maker in his shop, the artisan in his workplace. Life, and its ultimate meaning, mattered.
We have lost a great deal. We have lost the gift of Catholic vision and courage.
I offer the following as one possible way of bringing the Light of Christ back into the public market place.
I have made a sign, which reads:
The Catholic Faith is the Only Source
Of True and Complete Intelligence in this World.
The sign is of course formatted in a more attractive way than shown above. It is not large – eight and one-half, by eleven, inches (on card-stock). I intend to carry it into public places – café’s, public benches, parks, or wherever I deem appropriate – and wait for conversation. It is not meant to be obtrusive like a larger placard or poster. It can be set on a table, attached to the side of a briefcase, etc. My wife has said that she would very much like to join me. She does not at all consider herself an intellectual. As I pointed out earlier, Catholic intelligence is not to be equated with being an intellectual. What is required is deep faith, hopefully a good deal of patience and control over one’s anger (I’m afraid that my wife will be better at this than I), and charity towards souls. We do the best we can, and it is grace before God.
I understand that some might object to my use of the word Intelligence because it might indeed be construed as being equated with intellectual prowess. It is absolutely essential to understand, however, that in the above statement it is equated not with the amount of knowledge one might possess, but with Faith. The Catholic Faith is the only intelligence worthy of man because it alone understands Christ as the Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End of man. It is this Light of Christ’s Life, revealed to our intelligence, which we must now hold up to the world.
I think that it is difficult to imagine a sentence that could be more challenging to virtually all men in this modern world – “The Catholic Faith is the Only Source of True and Complete Intelligence in this world.” In order to appreciate this fact I would suggest that the reader put himself in the shoes of various persons who might read it. Ironically, it might be most challenging to modern Catholics who, to a very large extent over the past 50 years, have been most militant in denying their own Light.
– James Larson
Notice: A reader informed me that the link to my article Point of Departure was disabled, and I have remedied this problem. It can be found in the menu on the left side of this page at Part I, Article V. This article is very crucial for understanding Joseph Ratzinger’s denial of the Catholic doctrine concerning Original Sin, and all that this entails.I would also consider it crucial for understanding Pope Francis’ agenda for a universal mercy which bypasses the necessity for conversion from mortal sin in order to be worthy of receiving the Sacraments
Pope Pius X called the doctrine of Original Sin the “point of departure” because it is the foundation all that is seen to be necessary for our salvation through the redemptive Incarnation, Sacrifice, and Resurrection of Christ.Most important, in relation to the present crisis in the Church, without the truth contained in the doctrine of Original Sin, there is no necessary distinction to be made between living in a state mortal sin, on the one hand, and living in sanctifying grace and charity on the other. There is therefore no firm justification for refusing Holy Communion to anyone. We tend to think that the agenda of persons like Cardinal Kasper and Pope Francis for the readmission to Holy Communion of persons living in objective mortal sin to be a matter of self-contradiction. Strictly speaking, however, it is not self-contradiction because the first term of such a contradiction – Original Sin, and its traditional definition – is almost certainly no longer present in their faith.
I strongly recommend reading my series on Amoris Laetitia, which clearly demonstrates that at the root of Pope Francis’ promotion of Holy Communion for civilly divorced and remarried persons is a denial of the Catholic concept of Charity, and therefore a denial of the concept of sanctifying grace and its necessity for receiving Holy Communion. They are to be found towards the bottom of the menu on the left side of this page: Parts XVIII-XXI. I also recommend my subsequent article, What really is at Stake: The Letter of Four Cardinals to Pope Francis Concerning Amoris Laetitia, which is to be found at Part XXIV. The Cardinals’ letter, and their five Dubia do not penetrate to what constitutes the root heresy to be found in the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation.
War Against the Papacy
Now in print, and available from Cruachan Hill Press
This book contains additional material to the work on my website bearing the same title. Following is an excerpt from the new Preface:
There is no more justification for the SSPX position during the pontificate of Pope Francis than there was during the reign of any previous Pope. Unquestionably, however, many who are “bent” towards an SSPX mentality, or even towards sedevacantism, find more excuses under the pontificate of Francis for such a move than under that of John Paul II.
I think it profitable, therefore, to speculate as to what would be the position of Archbishop Lefebvre himself towards such a pontificate as that of Francis. In an address to seminarians in 1986, Archbishop Lefebvre offered the following
“Now I don’t know if the time has come to say that the Pope is a heretic; I don’t know if it is the time to say that. You know, for some time many people, the sedevacantists, have been saying “there is no more Pope,” but I think that for me it was not yet the time to say that, because it was not sure, it was not evident, it was very difficult to say that the Pope is a heretic, the Pope is apostate. But I recognize that slowly, very slowly, by the deeds and acts of the Pope himself we begin to be very anxious…. What conclusion must we draw in a few months if we are confronted by these repeated acts of partaking in false worship? I don’t know. I wonder. But I think the Pope can do nothing worse than call together a meeting of all religions, when we know there is only one true religion and all other religions belong to the devil. So perhaps after this famous meeting of Assisi, perhaps we must say that the Pope is a heretic, is apostate. Now I don’t wish yet to say it formally and solemnly, but it seems at first sight that it is impossible for a Pope to be publicly and formally heretical. Our Lord has promised to be with him, to keep his faith, to keep him in the Faith – how can he at the same time be a public heretic and virtually apostatize? So it is possible we may be obliged to believe this pope is not pope.”
If Archbishop Lefebvre could propose such a thing during the pontificate of John Paul II (and even before Assisi), then it would not seem unreasonable to speculate that the pontificate of Pope Francis might very well have carried him over into sedevacantism. No one, of course, can be sure as to what his course of action might have been. But the interesting point for consideration is that each person who is an adherent of the SSPX’s position is now not only in the position of subjectively judging the Papacy (through defying Papal jurisdiction), but also finds himself necessarily forced into subjectivity in regard to what would be the position of the one man since the Council whom they most seek to emulate and follow – a subjectivity which has enormous consequences in terms of their own personal faith and their belief in regard to wherein the Catholic Church itself subsists.
Available from Cruachan Hill Press
Original General Introduction
”He who eats the Pope dies”
– German proverb
“A Voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great
mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would
not be comforted, because they are not.”
All of the following is written in a spirit of charity. It is also written in a spirit of deep caution, and even trepidation. I sent many of my writings to Pope Benedict XVI ( in September, 2007), along with a personal letter. In the spirit of obedience, I publicly state that at his simple request, or that of his successor Pope Francis, I would cease writing and prevent the further spread of my writings as much as morally possible.
I believe that the Papacy is wounded and suffering and that this suffering has profoundly affected the philosophical-theological orientation of recent Popes. While leaving intact the prerogatives established by Christ for all times upon Peter and his successors, this philosophical and theological disorientation has affected virtually everything else, to the detriment of the Church and the salvation of souls
The reader will note that a number of my articles are deeply critical of the writings and statements of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. I wish to state that I can make no final or absolute judgment about the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI. However,a fair number of my articles critical of his statements and writings were written after his ascension to the Papacy. They give evidence as to the continuity of his present thought with that of his past writings, but pretend to make no absolute judgment. I must add that I have seen no evidence on the part of Joseph Ratzinger of any renunciation of his previous thought and that, on the contrary, he has asserted the essential continuity of his thought up to, and even after, his elevation. As with any author, he would fall under the strong moral imperative to correct any serious errors in his past writings of which he became conscious. I am aware of no efforts on his part to do so.
I must also now add that in April of 2005, two weeks before the election of Benedict XVI, I sent my manuscript of The War Against Being and The Return to God” to then Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, along with a letter stating that I believed he might be elected Pope. I received no reply. There are now two articles (Part I, Articles 24, 26) which contain analysis of Pope Francis’ thinking and actions.
I call the reader’s attention to the two quotes which I have placed at the beginning of this short introduction. The first encapsulates in a startling manner the sense of caution, and even fear, which any person in the Church should feel in undertaking criticism of a person who has become Pope. The presence of this fear is always necessary in order to generate and maintain that charity towards the Holy Father which is always integral to the Catholic Spirit, no matter what personal faults the personality and thought of a particular occupant of the Chair of Peter might present as an impediment to the natural expression of this charity.
The second quote simply represents the reality which is the present moment in the life of the Church. We are faced with a holocaust of the spiritual life and well-being of children which is directly attributable to the chaos in religious instruction, sacramental life, and morality which has been the inheritance of post-Vatican II life in the Church. And this chaos in all things Catholic is directly attributable to the philosophical-theological orientation of members of the Catholic hierarchy, especially to the Popes who have reigned during and since the Council.
In this situation the tension between one’s natural Catholic love and respect for the Pope and the knowledge of what recent Popes have perpetrated, or allowed to be perpetrated, upon innocent children becomes almost unbearable. Ultimately the question as to whether to criticize or not comes down to the question of being a man. In the Old Testament the Lord says that “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” he shall send Elias the prophet to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema.” (Malachias 4: 6). Surely, if we are men, and are to retain our manhood, then our hearts must turn to the defense of our children.
I think it is only at this point – once our hearts have truly turned to militancy in defense of our children – that our eyes become opened to perceive the extent to which the Papacy itself is really suffering, that this suffering must be a visitation upon us by God in chastisement for our sins and infidelities, and that charity for all – for Christ, for the Pope, for our children and our own souls – demands the full revelation of certain truths which are, indeed, very painful for us to face. If we remain silent the darkness can only deepen, and our cowardice and emasculation only become more pronounced.
Finally, I wish to state that I do not support in any way either the sedevacantist position, or that of the SSPX or any individual or group that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church. I have written a small book on this subject which is now available as Part X on this website. I wish also to state that many of my articles have appeared in Christian Order Magazine, the website of which is www.christianorder.com.
On the Use or Publication of these Articles:
I desire the widest possible dissemination of the articles on this website, but wish it to be done with integrity, and in accord with the following stipulations.
First, I emphatically state that I accept both Benedict XVI and his successor Francis I as legitimate Popes, and that I am not a sedevacantist and also do not support any group, especially the SSPX, that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church.
Second, I do not permit any critical analysis of any article using a technique to insert comments within the body of the article itself. I believe that any well-written article is a whole greater than the sum of its individual parts, that continuity in reading it is necessary in order to be able to understand the whole force of the argument or position, and that therefore such a technique does unjust violence to the integrity of the work. An honest critical analysis therefore demands a separate article or treatment. This, of course, does not preclude the use of individual quotations, as long as they are taken in context.
I also wish to recommend that Article 1 of Part 1 be read first, as it contains an analysis of philosophical and theological principles necessary for the understanding of the rest.
Authored by: James Larson