Thursday, 31 December 2015

Reflections of the Christmas Feasts

On December 25th we celebrated the Nativity. We are often told that Christmas is about Children. The truth is that it’s about one child: the Christ Child, God-made-man, who came to earth to redeem us from sin. And no sin is too big to be forgiven, for no sin can be bigger than God who is infinite (without end –and how can you get beyond that which has no end?) So no one should ever be afraid of facing God. If Christmas is about anything it is about God coming into the world to seek out and save that which was lost: mankind, so we should never be afraid to run to Him for mercy. We should, however, have a fear of sin -and a healthy rebuke of ourselves, for the danger lies not in God but in us: we get complacent because we judge ourselves against the worst in society, and since we don’t murder, don’t rob with violence, don’t cheat on our spouse and don’t abuse our kids; and since we do give time to supporting others in need, donating to charity and coming to Holy Mass we feel good about ourselves. But none of this stops us falling into sins of omission: the neglect of our prayer life; the neglect of developing our understanding of The Faith; the neglect of public witness; nor does it prevent us falling into sins of commission such as gossip, duplicity, impurity and drunkenness. So while we should never fear God because His mercy is infinite, we should  -we must-  fear sin, since sin separates us from God. It can kill our relationship with the God who loves us -not from His side, but from ours by choosing to sin. So never fear God, but do fear sin. Do you fear sin, or do you dismiss it easily?

On December 26th we celebrated St. Stephen, the proto Martyr. Like Stephen, we have to die. We may not have to die a physical death as did those beheaded by ISIS, but we do have to die to selfishness and self-directive autonomy. We do have to die to the vices that put distance between ourselves and God, and between us and our neighbour. It isn’t easy to die to self; we are so used to getting our own way in so many things. But to die to self is an essential part of the Christian Life; “THY will be done” (not mine). Can we get up fifteen minutes earlier to ensure we begin our day with God? Can we switch off the TV or computer to do good and fulfil our responsibilities in life? Can we call it a night when out with friends and they take a wrong turn in alcohol consumption or conversation? Can we say no to passing pleasures for happiness in Heaven?

On December 28th we celebrated the Holy Innocents. It would be easy to relate this to the slaughter of unborn children that has overtaken society since the 1967 Abortion act in the UK and Roe Versus Wade in 1973. The correlation would be sound, but incomplete. For the innocence of children is being slaughtered every day in classrooms and in the media, and with this goes great damage to their spiritual life. Schools are pushing a sex-education curriculum that rejects the Gospel of Christ (yet left unchallenged or worse, even supported by the majority of Bishops); classrooms in our colleges push moral relativism as a non-judgmental stance to our young adults; the media affirms cohabitation, contraception, homosexual activity and promiscuity of men and women as normal, and often presents the killing of the unborn child and the sick as wise and compassionate. Can you see the errors in the sexualisation of our children by school and college curricula? Can you switch off the TV when it focuses on violence and immoral lifestyles?

The messages of Christmas are not romantic if we see beyond the emotionalism of the season, but how many of us do? I’m afraid the majority of our Bishops and presbyters do not, cannot or will not. No wonder our people today reject solid teaching in the homilies of the tradition-loyal priest, and reject liturgies which focus on God and propitiation for sin rather than bright and breezy liturgy focused on affirming the people who should still be working out their salvation “in fear and trembling” (Phil.2v12).

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Those Tax Collectors and Prostitutes

One can almost hear those whose understanding of mercy is distorted proclaiming that all should be welcome at Holy Communion in light of today’s reading from the Novus Ordo. The Gospel passage in question is Matthew 21v28-38: “Prostitutes and tax collectors are making their way into the kingdom of God before you”. What the proponents of the distorted Gospel will say is that these prostitutes (and this would include all sexually irregular lives) and tax collectors (dishonest, collaborating men) are making their way into the Banquet of Heaven before Traditional Catholics who ‘count their rosaries’ while holding like Pharisees to the Church’s laws. Nonsense; that is prejudiced (or at the very least ignorant) preaching. The reason those prostitutes and dishonest men were making their way into the Kingdom of God was because they left their sin behind after hearing John the Baptist: “John came, a pattern of true righteousness, and you did not believe him, yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did.” And what was it John was preaching? “Repent ('about face'), for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand” (Matt. 3v2). It was because of their repentance; their metanoia, their ‘about face’ that they entered the Kingdom of Heaven; they were in fact former tax collectors and former prostitutes, not people actively living a life of sin. You can bet your last dollar that this will be forgotten in many homilies offered today, and that what we will will be distorted presentations of mercy that diminish or even eradicate the need for a change in lifestyle; presentations that say we should accept active homosexuals, cohabitees and those in civil marriages to the Eucharist. Such preachers are, I suggest, by failing to act on the Gospel teaching of John, our Lord, and the 2000 year history of the Church, those who 'do not believe’. Their love for the sinner is not one of holy charity and truth but a human emotion –and it is human emotion that lead many they support into the irregular lifestyles Holy Mother Church has long-since labelled ‘occasions of sin’. 
Who could not want to see everyone in heaven? Whop could ever hope that any soul would be lost? Surely we all want to see every person whom the lord has created and for whom He died enter into heaven? But we do have to uphold the need for a change of life from one of vice to virtue if that is to happen, all the while encouraging folk that no matter how often they fall, if they are genuinely repentant and willing to return to the life of virtue, that there is no sin God cannot or will not forgive, and that he is eager to welcome them home.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Youth, Christ the King & The Ten Commandments

This weekend the Church is celebrating the Feast of Christ the King. Moving it to the end of the Liturgical year in the Novus Ordo gives the feast a kind of ‘parousial’ feel; something along the lines of “in the end, Christ will reign over all”. While it is undoubtedly true that Christ will reign in over all at the end of time, the reality is that Christ has a social kingship over man even now; thus one reason for the Ten Commandments. On the Feast of Christ the King when we in the UK pray for the youth, it is useful to remind ourselves that when the young man in the Gospel asked Our Lord what he had to do to inherit eternal life Our Lord said ‘keep the Commandments’ (Matt.19v16,17).

Yet to the detriment of souls, The Commandments are often ignored today as outdated –even by the highest ranking of prelates who currently seek to eliminate the practicalities of the 6th and 9th Commandments under the guise of mercy. They, like many today, seem to defer to majority of public opinion and to the legality of an act rather than its moral quality; they allow folk to determine their choices by whether or not an act is legal or illegal, rather than morally right or wrong. To act this way is to abandon our duty to give precedence to God by giving precedence to the State and it’s laws; it is to follow a false god. While the right to determine the legality of an act rightly belongs to the Government, the right to determine the moral quality of an act as right or wrong belongs to God alone, and this moral quality is expressed in the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments are not simply social justice directives or cold laws to prove loyalty to God, but a Charter for our Individual Character Formation so that we become morally good and ‘fit-in’ with God when we die: God is He Who Is, therefore we honour and serve Him above all people, places and things (we keep holy the Sabbath); God is holy, so we respect is Holy Name (we do not take the Lord’s name in vain); God is faithful, so we are faithful (we do not commit adultery); God is Truth, so we are truthful in all we say and do (we do not bear false witness, we do not steal); God is Life therefore we protect and promote human life which is made in His image(we do not kill); God is generous with His gifts, (so we do not covet our neighbours goods; we are content with what we have). If we want to form our character into one that fits with God and able to live with Him in heaven, then we need to keep the Commandments and teach others -especially the youth- to do the same in this God-forsaking world. We have already denied youth the Truth by removing the ‘Penny Catechism’ from schools; we have already denied them an act of worship that focuses them on God. We are now denying them even the Ten Commandments and thus the ability to form their character for Heaven. The Feast of Christ the King reminds us that our Lord is King of the Universe from beginning to end; in time and in eternity. And while the Church as Christ’s Body on earth is not obliged to rule each country as its government, all governments should recognise the ultimate and Absolute Sovereignty of Christ and ensure statutory laws are consistent with the Ten Commandments. If they pass laws contrary to the Law of God they set themselves up as an alternative authority to Christ; those who then follow the law of the land rather than the law of God abandon Christ to follow instead the sitting President or Prime Minister, breaking the very first Commandment: “Thou shalt have no gods before me”. 

It is God’s right to be honoured and served as God; it is His due to have all bow before Him and conform themselves to Him, whether they be Monarch, President or Prime Minister. It is to our eternal good that we follow the Ten Commandments, and to our eternal detriment if we do not. Thank God for Confession! And go often: “Those who are accustomed to receiving Communion often or daily should be instructed that they should approach the Sacrament of Penance at appropriate intervals, in accordance with the condition of each” (Redemptionis Sacramemtum #86, CDF/CDWDS, 2004); “Daily or frequent communicants should be instructed to go to confession regularly, depending on their individual needs” (Eucharisticum mysterium #35, Sacred Congregation of Rites, 1967)

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The Failure of Today's Preaching

I am on record on this blog as lamenting the loss of the Traditional Liturgy (which that is reverent and God-centered in contrast to the Novus Ordo which is entertainment and man centered); the loss of a universal language (Latin) and the loss of the Catechism from schools. I have to add a fourth:  preaching.

According to Sacrosanctum Conclium of Vatican II, “The sermon, moreover, should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its character should be that of a proclamation of God's wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ, ever made present and active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.” (SC35,#2) That we have been encouraged by Vatican II to preach on the readings of the day, and by scripture scholars and so-called expert homilists to ‘break open the word’, means we have failed to teach the living out of the Faith.

The result is a loss of huge proportions. It may well be true that before Vatican II all we got was sermons and little or no preaching on the word of God, but today we get homilies focusing on the word and very little if no preaching on the life of Faith, other than the renewal of society.  Now social sin does indeed need to be tackled, but tackling personal sin must come first –we cannot renew society until we renew ourselves; we cannot renew society if the people who make up that society are engaging in illicit sexual liaisons, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, drunkenness, dishonest dealings, violence etc. We simply cannot have a holy society which consists of sinful persons. We may as well try to establish a healthy population fed on nothing but the fats, salts and sugars of junk food, with heavy alcohol consumption and smoking. We are not doing so. We are not challenging personal sin for fear of upsetting people, or fear of being disliked or simply fear of being ridiculed as out-dated.

I grow increasingly saddened by the young families that have returned to Mass but have not returned to The Faith, and there is a huge difference. Returning to The Faith is a return to the living out of The Faith in all its many and varied facets; returning to Mass is simply fire-insurance Catholicism (going to Mass to avoid the fires of hell). In ‘fire insurance Catholicism’ folk return to Mass but simply attach it to their previous worldly lifestyle of excessive alcohol consumption, illicit sexual encounters, cohabitation, contraception, violence and dodgy dealings.  For them, coming to Mass is seen as enough to enter heaven, yet to attend Mass and not live the life of self-denial (and ultimately self-sacrifice) that is at the core of the Mass, is to fail to make the Mass and The Faith alive and active; Catholicism becomes mere attendance at a religious ritual; an external act that makes no impact on the inner man.

The restoration of The Faith is not as simple as being a ‘brick by brick’ restoration of the liturgy, although it certainly includes that; rather, it must include as a foundation a restoration of sermons and of the Catechism in schools. 

Because schools have not taught the content of the Catechism and because preachers have not taught personal moral doctrine but focused on social sin –encouraging the ‘be nice to everyone/social justice’ religion, we have nothing to build upon in those returning to Mass, who justify their sinful behaviors with “the world has moved on… everyone does it…it‘s just enjoying life”.  Sadly, they may very well enjoy life on earth at the expense of enjoying eternity, in that they have continued to live by the ways of the world while attaching Sunday Mass as fire insurance. Trying to get them to see otherwise is a losing battle if one is a lone voice, and I know of few priests who will mention contraception, homosexuality, drunkenness, dishonest dealings, violence etc, in their homilies –which leaves the preacher responsible for the loss of the souls to whom he ministers. One is reminded of the words of Ezekiel 3v18-19: “When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not speak out to warn the wicked man to turn from his wicked ways that he may live, the wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you have warned the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness, he shall die in his iniquity; but you yourself will have saved your life.”  I may not always go down well with the parish or indeed with my brother priests, but I have no desire to lose my soul or leave people in the dark just to be loved for being ‘nice’ by avoiding the hot-button topics. I may not always avoid sin myself; I may at times fall myself, but to go on as if personal morality does not exist just so as to avoid is not what God has called us to do; we are called to warn those in sin, not affirm ignore their sin or worse, affirm them in it. Until we get back to worship which is at once reverent, propitiative (God-appeasing) and God-centered rather than entertaining, man-affirming and man-cantered; until we get back to teaching the Catechism in schools, and until we get back to preaching personal morality -especially on the virtues and vices, the seven deadly sins, the four sins crying to heaven for vengeance, the three eminent good works, the four last things, the seven gifts and twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy etc- we have no hope of saving the souls of our folk –or our own. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Church is Bigger than Francis –and so is Christ

That splendid blog Rorate caeli (here) has reported an interview with Pope Francis by Eugenio Scalfari of La Repubblica in which Scalfari alleges the Pope has said that anyone who is divorced and ‘remarried’ who presents themselves for Holy Communion will receive it:

“We must not think that the family does not exist any longer, it will always exist, because ours is a social species, and the family is the support beam of sociability, but it cannot be avoided that the current family, open as you say, contains some positive aspects, and some negative ones. ... The diverse opinion of the bishops is part of this modernity of the Church and of the diverse societies in which she operated, but the goal is the same, and for that which regards the admission of the divorced to the Sacraments, [it] confirms that this principle has been accepted by the Synod. This is bottom line result, the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted."

There are three problems in this if Scalfari has quoted the Pope correctly.

First, Francis would be overruling Christ who says that such marriages are adultery.
Second, Francis would be placing himself above the Divine Authority behind the Ten Commandments by removing ‘thou halt not commit adultery’.
Third, he would be engaging in the heresy of Modernism, which posits that “Our religious attitude", as stated by "Il programma dei modernisti" (p. 5, note l), "is ruled by the single wish to be one with Christians and Catholics who live in harmony with the spirit of the age" (see New here). In the heresy of Modernism (which is not the same as modernisation) doctrine can change in relation to the changes in society. By this heresy, the Dominical Command to “Go, teach all nations” is tuned on its head; it becomes, “Go and be taught by the nations”. This is what many have done since Vatican II, taking the Councils’ call to read the signs of the times as discipline the times rather than discern the times. I cannot tell whether this is because they have not applied their mind to what the Council actually said, or did turn their minds to it and wilfully distorted it. I must assume the first, for the sake of charity and their good name.

The heresy of Modernism has not passed its sell-by date; it remains and will always remain a heresy condemned by the Authentic Magisterium of the Church. The first real fight against it was Pius X Encyclical ‘Pascendi’in 1907. But the anti-modernist oath was imposed on clergy, Catholic professors etc, from 1910 then right up until 1967, so it was approved by all of the twentieth century Popes until the CDF abolished it under Paul VI in 1967.

If Scalfari is quoting the Pope correctly, many will conclude that Francis has fallen into the heresy of Modernism. Let us hope that he proves this to be a false conclusion when he publishes his post-synodal document. If the conclusion that Francis has fallen into heresy proves correct, we will have a choice between obeying Christ and obeying Francis. That choice can only be made one way: we must follow Christ. This is where Conservative Catholics and Traditional Catholics will part company, for Conservative Catholics have fallen into the error of extreme ultramontanism wherein anything the Pope says or allows is said and allowed by God: ‘we must be faithful to the sitting Pope above all’ would be their motto. Not so for the Traditional Catholic, who will also and certainly be faithful to the sitting Pope –as long as he is faithful to the eternal Truths of the Tradition and the Deposit of Faith. But where a pope deviates from it, Catholics faithful to the Tradition –whichis a source of Divine Revelation. Dei Verbum 9, Vatican II- cannot follow.  Can we trust Francis to show himself a loyal son of the Church? The Church is much older and much bigger than Francis, and so is Christ, the Head of the Church, which is His Body. Christ has both the Church and Francis in his hands.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Pope and The Synod

The question of admitting divorcees who have entered a civil union was a hot-button topic at the Synod. According to the Wall Street journal (here):

“The focus now shifts to how the pope will respond, with both sides looking for him to settle the Communion issue for good. Conservatives want him to make a clear reaffirmation of traditional teaching. But raised expectations of liberals and the pope’s own preferences suggest the pontiff may opt for change.
“In the end, Pope Francis could leave the matter vague— affirming the indissolubility of marriage, but urging priests to be merciful with people in difficult marital situations—tacitly allowing bishops to act on their own. Today, many priests knowingly give Communion to divorced, remarried Catholics. [emphasis added]

The reality is that, despite Francis having apparently filled the important places in the Synod with men of his own persuasion and choosing, the liberal agenda was not sanctioned by the Synod. Vague language is all that was left to them. Such language is itself highly problematic, since it plays false to the Truth by failing to proclaim it: it fudges it; it is economical with it -and thus treacherous towards it. Make no mistake: to fudge the issue would be as treacherous as changing the doctrine or the rules.

One thing I think the WSJ has gotten wrong is that “the pontiff may opt for change”. He cannot, without abandoning his responsibility as defender of the Deposit of Faith, for the Pope is not master of the Truth but its servant (even Cardinal Marx admitted that one). If Francis goes ahead and fudges issues for ‘his own preferences’, he abandons his post and shows himself to be treacherous, for he is called by The Lord to guard the Sacred Deposit faithfully, not to compromise it; called to reform the world by the Sacred Deposit, not reform the Sacred Deposit by the contemporary world.  That said, Francis must know that if he uses papal Authority to overrule 2,000 years of teaching and discipline that he can be overruled by the very next Pontiff. So expect no change from Francis unless he is supremely stupid or supremely arrogant. We don’t want to see the man go down in history as either, or both, and one or other is unavoidable if he ‘opts for change’ or fudges the issue so that the ambiguity can be misused to further an agenda pursued by liberals, who misuse the term ‘development’ of doctrine to mean the changing of doctrine, rather than the organic, consistent growth of authentic development. For Traditionalists, doctrine grows in internal consistently with its nature, as a foal grows into a horse. For liberals a foal need not grow into a horse but can mutate into a dog, so as long as it has four legs and a tail they can say it resembles the foal, and they play on the resemblance while ignoring the internal inconsistency that it is no longer what it was or was meant to be.
PS Please don’t push the analogy too far; analogies are always imperfect.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Now That The Synod Is Over...

The Synod has come to an end, but its impact is yet to be known. While both sides seem to be claiming victory in these early days, the fact is that it all depends upon what Francis does. There has been much talk about Doctrine not being changed, only practice (which is nonsense since practice flows from doctrine: lex credendi, lex vivendi), and while chsnging practice but not doctrine might keep liberals from falling into formal heresy it cannot keep them from being charged with treachery, for to practice what is contrary to the Truth is to play false to the Truth, and the Truth is Christ. My concern is the spectres of softer language, ‘accompanying’, decentralisation and conversion of the papacy are now hovering around, and no matter what the Final Relatio says, it is Francis who will have the last say.

I have grown weary of the talk about ‘mercy’ and ‘accompanying’ folk in irregular situations. I need mercy as much as the next man, if not more (for ‘from him to whom much has been entrusted, much more will be required’, Lk.12v48), but I need true mercy which recognises my sin, my repentance and my amendment of life; a mercy which accompanies me in my attempt to change, not in my sin: no one wants to die in a state of sin no matter who is accompanying them in it. The mercy Our Lord showed to the woman caught in adultery was to tell her that her sins were forgiven and that she was to go and sin no more. His Church must do the same since she is to speak for Him (Lk.10v16), not for secular society (or for ‘today’s different circumstances’). Only when we walk away from sin can we be forgiven for it: we cannot clean and dry the child who refuses to come out of the dirty water of the local pond; the towel itself becomes wet, dirty and useless -and we end up the same by ‘accompanying them’ in the dirty water.

As to ‘penitential paths’ and the inviolability of conscience as a means of admitting the remarried divorcee to Holy Communion –how can it be applied? An internal forum ‘solution’ could be used to allow everyone to return to the Communion, and then the teaching on indissolubility means nothing and the treachery is clear for all to see.

The call for ‘new language’ is also problematic. It can only be a watering down of The Faith since it is not easy (if at all possible) to render ‘intrinsically evil’ (as in contraception) ‘adultery’ (civil marriage after divorce/cohabitation) or ‘intrinsically disordered’ (homosexual acts) in any other way that equates with the terms ‘adultery’ and ‘intrinsically disordered’: even ‘irregular’ does not carry the same connotation of sin. Unclear language distorts the Truth into a deception; a lie whose father is the devil (Jn.8v44).

The idea of a ‘conversion of the papacy’ is also questionable. What on earth does it mean? A dissolution of the papacy to a lesser or greater extent is the only thing it can mean. As for ‘devolution of authority’, such devolution would cause difficulties that cannot be surmounted. For example, there is a divide between the Bishops of Poland and Germany on the readmitting of the remarried divorcee to Holy Communion, and even between individual Bishops within single nations, such as Burke and Cupich in the USA. The nonsense of devolution would be that for those living near a Country or Diocesan border one may be out of communion with the Church in one location and in Communion with her 15 minutes down the road –presumably grave sin disappears and reappears across borders like some mysterious mist. One could be in a state of sin at one end of the road and in a state of grace at the other. All in all, the problems may not be in the Synod, but in the spectres of ‘softer language’, in ‘accompanying’, and in the ideas of ‘decentralisation’ and ‘conversion of the papacy’.

Note: I must admit I am wearied by Francis caricatures of Traditionalists. In his final speech he described those who hold to the Gospel as ‘those who would “indoctrinate” it in dead stones to be hurled at others’, saying [the synod] was about ‘laying bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families..’ Not only can Francis be seen as saying that the Lord did not give us a doctrine, but that the Synod was about correcting those he considers have closed, stone hearts. He is also demonstrating that he labours under the uninformed, prejudiced caricature of Traditionalists present among many of the seminary professors in the 1980’s. I do not recognise any Traditional priest I know in such caricatures; those I know do not meet wounded families with a closed heart or a position of superiority from the chair of Moses (who Francis thus appears to equate with hard-heartedness); rather, the Traditional priests I know meet wounded families with clear teaching but gentle manner and kind words. Pope or not, Francis is espousing a judgemental attitude toward faithful, Traditional members of the Lord’s flock, and I am wearied by what feels to me like a continuing lecture on how bad Traditionalists are. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Devolved Authority for Diabolical Division

Following the Pope’s statement about his intention to decentralise authority from Rome to the Episcopal Conferences, many faithful Catholics see a dangerous weakening of the entire Church.

When I trained in counselling the tutors would ask us to assess one another in role play (and later in real sharing between ourselves) so that we could tell the ‘counsellor’ where they were good or bad in their use of skills and theory. Taking the non-judgemental ideology seriously I would describe the ‘counsellors’ interventions as ‘helpful’ or ‘unhelpful’ rather than ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I apply this to my comments on Pope Francis too, since we cannot read his soul and cannot know his motivation; we can only judge his actions as good/helpful or otherwise -and one has to say they are ‘otherwise’. In fact the idea of devolved authority is downright damaging to the unity of the Church and to the integrity of Doctrine, and as such can be pleasing only to the devil, Freemasons, Communists and catholics who have lost their faith in Divine Revelation and the Church and wish to see the Church become a  house divided, which cannot stand (Mk.3v25).

The way Our Lord determined to preserve the unity of the Church was through the Petrine Ministry; the Rock (Matt.16v18) who was to confirm the brethren in the Faith (Lk.22v32) as their supreme shepherd (Jn.15v15-17), so when Francis speaks of decentralising authority he cannot complain if he is described as doing the enemy’s work. Devolution to national Churches is not however, a new thing; it began many decades ago and we were softened up for it by the abandoning of Latin as the universal language in favour of diverse national languages. Truly, IMHO, the loss of Latin was the writing on the door to disunity. Today, Francis is trying to open that door. Let us pray that the Holy Ghost, working through orthodox Bishops, priests and laity will enlighten him and remind him that he does not own the house of God; that he is merely its caretaker, and that his responsibility is to defend the holy edifice, not hand it over to the enemy.

Make no mistake about it, devolution will destroy the Church. Not only will Truth be abandoned in favour of ‘local circumstances’ (localised relativism of areas or groups of persons such as adulterers, active homosexuals and paedophiles) but even practical day to day unity will be broken as English, American, Australian and the rest of the Anglophone world determine their own translation (paraphrases) of the Roman liturgy -if they agree to use it at all.

Truly, the idea of devolving authority to Episcopal Conferences is pure Protestantism, even when the idea comes from Rome herself.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

That Walk-out Petition

I am aware through that intrepidly faithful Catholic Mundabor that there is a petition to ask the sound Catholic Bishops to walk out of the Synod. I have not yet signed it -for three reasons- though I am still considering it.

My first reason is that if the good Bishops walk out, who will defend the Faith? Contrary to the assertion of Pope Francis, the presence of the successor of Peter does not guarantee orthodoxy; his presence can do this only if he himself remains faithful to the Deposit of Faith; if the faithful Bishops walk out of the Synod it will simply go its own merry way, demolishing pastoral practice so as to accommodate moral relativism and thereby deceive souls in sinful situations into think they are at rights with God. This would be a grave error, and would be an indication that Archbishop Tomash Peta is correct in saying thesmoke of Satan is entering the aula of Paul VI, for Satan is the father not of truth, but of deception. On the other hand, a walk-out would show history that the Synod was not acceptable to all and will leave the Synod, its documents and the Pope more easily repudiated in the future.

Second, the petition makes a criticism that while there is talk about collegiality this is not being demonstrated at the Synod. Well, I for one do not want to see the kind of collegiality that is being talked about during this papacy; it is one of devolution of authority to Episcopal Conferences to decide on pastoral regulations and (and unavoidably doctrine too, via the rationale behind those changes). This kind of collegiality is High Church Anglicanism; a federation of local churches whose practices and doctrines differ. It demolishes the Catholic Church as erected by Christ to establish a preferred church of man’s own making; one without authority but full of contradictions; a church more acceptable to freemasons than Catholics. Here, as Archbishop Lefebvre foresaw, ‘the French revolution in the Church’: liberty, equality, fraternity. 

Today’s concept of collegiality is one which seeks to follow local culture rather than the Gospel; the Synod is an attempt to abandon the teaching of Jesus Christ in favour of the teachings of the secular world. It might sound good to an Episcopal Conference to have such authority, but do the bishops realise it diminishes the authority of the individual Bishop in his own Diocese, who then becomes a pawn of the Conference? And he will not be able to hide behind the Episcopal Conference when he gives account of himself and his ministry to Our Lord.

A third reason is that I am not sure we should be call on our Bishops to walk out on a pope and a synod. Perhaps we should be petitioning them not to 'walk out' but to 'fight it out' .

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Synod and that Letter

So, was there one letter or two letters outlining concerns to Pope Francis and where there nine, ten or more signatories (see Rorate Caeli here)? In one sense it does not matter: what has been revealed is a Synod and Church in chaos; a chaos that brings into focus a hidden schism (if we may call it that) in the Church, and with which we have been living since the close of the Second Vatican Council.

What schism? Not “the SSPX –v- Rome”, for the SSPX are in strict continuity with all that went before and simply have sections of the Vatican II documents that they refuse, such as erroneous views of Ecumenism and Collegiality. It is a schism/division of those in formal union with Rome; a division between those who uphold the Sacred Tradition and those who seek to abandon it in the name of mercy. Liberals remain part of the official Church (and rise within its ranks to at least the level of Bishop and Cardinal, it seems), though they too refuse parts of Vatican II, especially in regard to the liturgy of the Church. The schism/division has been an occult one until now, in which the Church of today is being divided from the Church of the past. It is a schism/division lead by those who refuse the hermeneutic of continuity in order to lead the Church away from her Sacred Tradition and the disciplines which protect it so as to accommodate the sexual mores of today’s society. Sadly, these same folk seem to stray from charity and label those faithful to the Church’s Tradition ‘Pharisees’ and ‘rigid doctors of the law’.

That any letter was signed by anyone to bring to the attention of the Pope misgivings about the Instrumentum Laboris or the practical procedures of the current Synod is both a mark against this Synod and a stain on the Pope, under whose watch this hitherto occult schism/division has matured into open division by taking the Pope’s call for mercy to extreme, unorthodox lengths: one which requires no amendment of life (which is something we all need to do, every day of our lives, since we are all on a journey to perfection). I'm sure it is with genuine regard for people and the pain they experience when they cannot receive Holy Communion, but we have to be careful that we don't allow emotion to get in the way of Reasoned Faith. 

Pope Benedict XVI may have seen the wolves at the door and been unable to bolt it, but Francis has refused to even try bolting the door and instead, welcomed the wolves into the living room where he has found he cannot control them as they steal the food (Truth, cf. Matt.4v4) from the children and thereby threaten the lives of the children themselves. Faithful shepherds have written something (we know not what, really) and turned on a light by which the wolves can be seen and tackled. God bless and strengthen those faithful shepherds; God bless and enlighten those who would leave Tradition behind, and God bless and direct Pope Francis who, when the Synod is over, will have to sort out this mess in ways that please The Way, The truth and The Life.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Thank you, SSPX

No wonder the SSPX is not favoured by many in today's episcopate: it takes prayer, penance and devotion to God; seriously; it honours God and our Lady and invites the laity to active demonstration of the faith. Just watch this video and see genuine Catholicism in action. Thank you, SSPX. 

Is Satan leading the Synod?

One of the major ploys of Satan is to take a truth and distort it. In Eden he took the truth that we are made in God’s image and likeness and twisted it to have Adam and Eve seek likeliness to God in the espousing of absolute autonomy: “You can be like God and know right from wrong”. In presenting autonomy to Adam as likeness to God, Satan had Adam follow a lie into suffering and death. Today, Satan is taking the truth that God is merciful to have us accept not simply the sinner but the sin.

Let us be brutally honest: from reports coming from the Synod, many at the highest levels of the Church seem to have been deceived by Satan; they are advocating ‘new directions’ outside of Gospel truth. Having taken on board modern, person-centred psychology in which “what is right for me is right” reigns, they are ditching Gospel Truth as ‘rigid’ and ‘lacking in mercy’, yet the mercy they talk of is one which means not judging the act or situation –which is a false mercy, for true mercy judges the act in order to save the person.

Sadly, Francis is not calling them back but seems to be encouraging their new direction, hinting that their idea of mercy is the work of a ‘God of surprises’. In reality, they are not asking us to be surprised by God; they are asking us to ignore God and His Divine Law. Francis has likened those who defend The Faith to those who wished to stone the woman caught in adultery; he implies they have no understanding of God’s mercy and are like the rigid doctors of the law. But they do understand mercy; they have read that Gospel passage to the end where Our Lord warns to woman, ‘go, and sin no more’.  If this Synod continues to focus on only half of the Gospel; on mercy without repentance and amendment of life (which we all have to engage in) it preaches a distortion of the Gospel and does the work of Satan. Those who promote this false mercy are steering toward the wide road that leads to perdition, and taking souls with them. To be sure, Francis can be read as upholding the Faith, but he does appear to engage in double-speak as a matter of course, for while he affirmed doctrine in his homily at the opening Mass of the Synod, he still asked the Synod Fathers to be surprised by God and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into new ways of living out the Faith (labelled as mere ‘disciplinary changes’). The man-in-the-street, however, can see the idiocy and danger of saying we believe one thing yet doing another: “I believe in gravity, but I wish to fly and believe I can fly, so jumping of the Dome of St Peter’s will not harm me”.

Here is a surprise for those advocating a new style of mercy: nothing is impossible to God. A ‘No-thing’, a contradiction, is impossible to God. God cannot draw a square circle, and He cannot unite Himself to sin either. What we need from this Synod is not ways of admitting those in objectively sinful situations to the Holy of Holies, but ways to help marriages and the family stay a stable and strong light in this God-forsaking world. As this Synod progresses we faithful Catholics are called to act as in the days of the Arian Crisis and raise our voices in favour of orthodoxy. As Edmund Burke said, ‘all that is required for evil to flourish is that good men do nothing’. Let us be faithful instruments of the Holy Spirit, who protects the Deposit of Faith given by Christ. Let us raise our voices in defence of The Truth so that Satan does not hoodwink the prelates of the Church and lead them -and us- astray. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

October: The power of the Rosary

I have always encouraged people to pray a daily Rosary by noting that its power is that of the word of God: its prayers comes from the Sacred Scriptures so it is a verbal recitation of the word of God contained in the Bible, and it is a mediation on the life and work of the Divine Redeemer (the Word made Flesh) in bringing about the Atonement. What better power is there to draw upon in the universe than the very word of God Himself? None. Janet Moore, author of the blog ‘Entering into the Mystery’, has written a striking piece on the power of the Rosary here. Do go and read it, it recounts the power of the Rosary over the atomic bomb, the forces of Communism, the forces of Radical Islam and the power of the Devil.

If often think of the Rosaries I say as interlinked like a chain, by which I am building, by God’s grace, a ladder to heaven. Why not build one yourself? If you miss a day see it as a broken rung –and see an additional Rosary next day as a repair job. (The danger with this is that we can give ourselves permission to miss if we are doing regular repair jobs, and we may break so many rungs the ladder becomes weak and we stop using it. Never give up on the Rosary. It has its own power above and beyond the one who says it: it holds the power of God to thwart evil and save souls. It is the weapon, as St. Padre Pio would say! Here is the link to Janet again: ThePower of the Rosary. Do go and read her excellent post.

Friday, 2 October 2015

UP-DATED: Protestants Warn Catholics About Francis; Catholics warn Catholics about Synod. Vatican back-tracks on Kim Davis meeting

Strange header for this post, no? Not as strange as the reality it conveys, for high-ranking evangelical Protestants have warned Catholics that Pope Francis is left-leaning; taking the Church with him, and appears to have sided with the political left (seeLifesite News here). That makes for sad reading; protestant leaders are alarmed that in Francis’ speech to the joint session of the US Congress he never mentioned Jesus Christ (whose Vicar he is and whose name and teaching he is meant to proclaim). What might this imply to them and to the outside world (and to solid Catholics) about who Francis sees as the supreme teacher?
In my previous post I ventured to say Francis is too provincial, but I may have misconstrued his problem. Certainly he has won hearts by his embracing of the sick etc, but he is losing solid Catholics on a daily basis; only those with politically left leanings are likely to be faithful to him. Further, in promoting his image as the caring Francis yet failing to mention Jesus Christ, he has allowed people to make the claim that he has his own agenda at the centre of his vision, rather than the Gospel.
As if this were not problem enough for Francis, he has also left himself open to a charge of ‘speaking with a forked tongue’, for while he addressed victims of child sexual abuse and told them that clergy and bishops will be held accountable, he has personally invited Cardinal Danneels to the Synod on the family, yet Danneels has a history of telling an abuse victim to stay quiet about the abusing Bishop until the said Bishop had retired.
Few devout Catholics will be uplifted by Francis on his US trip; those who are happy with him are likely those who have no desire to uphold the Traditional Faith of the Church on marriage and the family, since these are the very issues Francis strikingly failed to defend before Congress. That this failure (as well as the failure to speak of Christ and the failure to denounce the evil of abortion) has concerned even non-Catholics, is disturbing.
In a country where the Church is being battered by secular forces which demand funding by Church groups for the anti-life Culture of Death (contraception and abortion); the same country which has legislated for homosexual pairings to be equivalent to God-given marriage, Francis ought to have spoken clearly and unequivocally of the teaching on the Church on these issues. Talk about the environment and social justice is all well and good, but failure to mention the right to life (upon which access to very other right depends); the failure to defend of the natural process of transmitting life, and even the failure to mention Jesus Christ, is a loss beyond words. Many are likely to view Francis as politically (or image) motivated rather than gospel motivated.
It has also been revealed (see Rorate Caeli here) that a shadow group of Jesuits are already drafting the post-synodal document by Pope Francis, apparently with his knowledge. If true this is a massive indictment against the current Roman Authorities, and explains why the reflections of the “small groups” (circuli minores) are not going to be shared, and why there will be no mid-term report: they will likely not be of the kind the shadow (shady?) people want.  

UPDATE: So, the Vatican is claiming Kim Davis had no 'real audience' with the pope and that it should not be taken as support...well, coming so soon after a rebuke of the Pope by the Left, this looks very much like the Pope even regrets supporting solid Christian teaching and witness. Dear oh dear, what have we here? Will Fr Lombardi now have to say it was an audience and the pope does support Ms. Davis'  position or what? The answer is 'what': what a mess we are in.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Provincial Francis at Congress: A Bitter Disappointment. Updated.

I truly believe Pope Francis has good intentions , but I admit to being bitterly disappointed by his address to the American Congress this week.
While some are saying that his statement that we have a “responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development” are a reference to the evil of abortion, I don’t think they are. They can be taken to refer to abortion, but in that he immediately went on to explicitly mention the death penalty he failed. He failed to mention the slaughter of innocents in the very arena (politics) that defends abortion as a human right for women. Supporters of abortion are thus entitled to say “Francis said to protect and defend human life but he did not mention abortion; he mentioned the death penalty; therefore his remarks are about the death penalty”. Can we really argue with that? Had he meant to include abortion he would have named it, surely, as he did with the death penalty?
At first I thought Francis was simply being a coward; that he is too afraid of offending the USA (or of losing his credibility with the political left) to tackle the supreme humanitarian crime in which the USA and other Western powers such as the UK engage. But it suddenly occurred to me: this is not cowardice. Why Francis does not mention abortion but seems obsessed with the environment and subsidiarity is nothing to do with cowardice, it is that he is simply too provincial to be a world leader; he is still preaching and leading in accord with the problems he saw in Argentina. Annulments there take several years; he has presumed it is the same the world over and imposed laws for rapid declarations of nullity; the condition of the poor in the shantytowns of Buenos Aires is extreme; he has assumed it is the same the world over.
It is not then that the Pope is a coward. Rather, it is that Francis is a provincial guy with a provincial view unsuited to global responsibilities. His mind-set is still in Argentina and he is preaching to Argentina and its problems. He has not progressed to seeing the whole view from his window at the Domus Sanctae Marthae; he still looks out and imagines he sees shantytowns everywhere. Undoubtedly there is poverty the world over, and it certainly needs to be addressed. Only the cold-hearted could say otherwise. But today’s spiritually poverty; the loss of the sense of sin and of grace-  has led to the slaughter of millions of innocent lives by dismemberment while alive in the womb; the killing of the sick rather than the care of the sick, and the destruction of the natural family to which every child has a right. As such some of us see the greatest poverty as poverty of the spirit: until we change minds and hearts by the Gospel we will not end abortion, euthanasia or protect the family. So while we want to feed the hungry, clothe the naked; shelter the harbourless and visit the sick & imprisoned, we know that we must first instinct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful and admonish the sinner -without which hearts and minds will not change. Uninstructed by the Gospel the human person, predisposed by concupiscence, follows sin and darkness, not grace and light. Global leaders cannot afford to make important speeches on huge public stages and fail to mention the gravest evils of the day.  
Revelations (see RorateCaelie here) that several Cardinals banded together in what one of them (Cardinal Danneels) described as a Mafia Club to actively canvas for Jorge Bergoglio so as to get a more modern Church, leaves a bitter taste of subversion. If these Cardinal-electors wanted and canvassed for their man so as to get a ‘modern Church’ (in fact, departure from the constant teaching of the Church), they must have known before hand what kind of catholic Bergoglio was/is, or they would not be seeking to elect him. This puts his actions at last year’s Extraordinary Synod, his nominations for this year’s Synod (and the exclusions he made), very disturbing and a picture of manipulation arising that is hard to avoid. It also puts his trip to the USA in a new light: he appears a willing puppet of men who seek to abandon the Faith of the Gospel for the ideologies of the world. I do hope he turns out to be another Pio Nono and come in liberal but go out strictly orthodox.

While we may yet be in for a period of great turbulence and division within the Church, but she will emerge even stronger than she was after Trent and before Vatican II, for Truth is Christ and Christ has conquered the world they are so enamoured by. Can we off any advice to the Cardinals involved? Yes, the advice of Christ Himself:  “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers treated the false prophets in the same way”. To us Christ advises, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”, (Luke 6v26-27). In all honesty. if Christ’s words do not worry them, they have lost The Faith. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Has Pope Francis ‘let drop his mask’ -and indicated the untrustworthy nature of the current Episcopate?

When soon after his election Pope Francis was considered to be a liberal it was quickly declared that he is a loyal son of the Church. One wonders if this loyalty is what is being questioned in the remark that he has ‘let drop his mask’, as reported here by LifesiteNews. It is always possible that Francis is simply allowing dissent to come to the forefront so as to override it in the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

Lifesite, however, records two striking stories around Pope Francis. The first is that the “a seven-page dossier that is now being privately circulated in the Vatican among Curial members who are opposing Pope Francis's recent decision to liberalize the process of marriage annulments” (as linked to above); the second is that a “major appeal by theologians urges Pope to delete ‘seriously defective’ Synod texts on contraception” (see Lifesite News here)

Taken together, these indicate that high-ranking voices are concerned about Pope Francis’s attitude towards immutable doctrine. I cannot help but recall a reaction first voiced in my own living room on the night Francis was elected: “I have a gut feeling that this man thinks that the Church belongs not him as its CEO, not to Christ, and that he will do untold damage to the Faith and the Church”.

When Cardinal Pell defended Francis as a loyal son of the Church it was interesting that the examples he gave were of a pope who is “very, very concerned for the day-to-day life of the people, and for those who are suffering, those not well off and those in difficult situations.” In my opinion the Cardinal’s defence could do little to stem the tide of criticisms of Francis; the two articles linked to above demonstrate a perception by many that Francis is not loyal to The Faith. Unfortunately the picture of Francis as having little regard for the doctrine of The Faith will only be made worse by his ‘selective selection’ of members for the up-coming Synod. As reported by that pinnacle of the Catholic Blogosphere Rorate Caeli, Cardinal Tong Hon seems to have been lied to by the Vatican as to why he is not being invited (age being said to be the reason), since many attending are older than he –including Cardinal Kasper. Meanwhile Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco –a warrior of a Bishop in one of the most sexualised communities in the USA- is exempted for no good reason (other than, like Cardinal Tong Hon, he is likely to hold to the Tradition of the Church).  Truly, Francis has to be careful that he is not leaving to history a picture of himself as a Pope willing to manipulate a Synod to favour his personal agenda rather than the Tradition, using an impression of collegiality to do so. If, as I believe, Truth will win out, it may not be in this Synod but later in the Church’s life. After all, if Francis and the Synod can ditch all that has gone before for 2000 years plus, a future Pope and Synod can ditch Francis and the 2014/2015 shenanigans. Indeed those very shenanigans make this a real possibility, so don’t be too afraid of what happens in October. It will be a noteworthy but impotent blip in the history of the Church –ever heard of the Robber Council? It was the later-condemned Ephesus Council II.

The most disconcerting aspect of these shenanigans is that Francis is able to pick and choose among those who make up the episcopate. It is not sad that a Pope has the power to do this; rather, it is sad –if not alarming- that with the current state of the episcopate it is possible for him to choose between those who will and those who will not hold to the Tradition. We should not, as we currently are, hear folk voicing concerns over who will be attending the Synod: we should be able to trust the episcopate implicitly. Sadly, the ‘selective selection’ of those who will attend the Synod demonstrates that we cannot implicitly trust the episcopate. How sad this must be for those Bishops who are or who desire to be faithful to the Tradition but feel held back by their Episcopal brothers who have a liberalising tendency/agenda. Pray and fast for the Synod; God will reward the effort.

As Archbishop Fulton-Sheen would say, “The truth is the truth even if no one believes it, and error is error even if everyone believes it”. And The Truth will eventually win the fight, even if it loses a round at this Synod, because the Truth is Christ, and he has overcome the world.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Exaltation of the Holy Cross: Two Disparate Thoughts

My first thought is how the Cross is misunderstood by some souls. I was one of them. Despite Paul’s assertion that “God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom.5v8),  for many years I looked at the cross and saw in it an accusation. It accused me of every infraction against the Ten Commandments I had ever committed. Then I went to Lourdes as an assistant chaplain on Day Pilgrims and the priest leading us, Fr Ian James Smart (pray for him please, he has since left the priesthood), did something no other priest with whom I had travelled to Lourdes had done: he stopped at the foot of the Via Crucis to point out the statue of the Angel of the Passion with its inscription ‘In Cruce salus’: In the Cross is salvation. It quickly became my favourite statue in Lourdes.

Statue at the entrance to the Visa Crucis in Lourdes

I finally began to get what Paul was saying: salvation cannot be deserved, won or bought; it is a free gift to all those willing to respond to the (actual) graces of God which prompt us to respond to His love by doing good and avoiding evil, that we may be filled with sanctifying grace. I realised that the Cross was not simply something Christ underwent for His friends who fail Him, but something he underwent for His enemies; His foe: those who deliberately attack Him. Enemies, not just failing friends. Enemies, not just the weak and disloyal friend. Enemies. The message of the Cross then is one I have to refocus upon often: I cannot earn, win, deserve or buy salvation: it is God’s free gift to those who seek Him. And who could not love, admire, and seek out the God who loves us so much that “He did the time for our crime” -which we committed against Him in the first place?

The Cross cancels out our sins; it fills us with grace. It offers to the Eternal Father an infinite Price for our salvation. No sin, and no amount of sins, no matter how dark, horrid and hellish, is or are beyond the power of the Cross, for its infinite merits have no end -and no sin can get beyond that which has no end: it is race sin cannot win because there is no end; no finishing line. As such the Cross is the world’s greatest treasure; God’s greatest gift to man. It is The Mystery of Faith: the mystery of God’s redeeming love.

Every Mass brings this Mystery of Faith to us and allows us to participate in it: “This is My Body given up for you...The Blood of the New and eternal Testament; the Mystery of Faith, which is shed for you”. This is the one day of the year when Mass should be celebrated, especially since we do not offer it on the day we commemorate the Crucifixion itself, Good Friday. How would one offer the Divine Hours today in commemoration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and not enter into its very reality at Mass?

My second thought is how easily today the Cross is abandoned. It struck me when saying Mass in the Ordinary Form this morning that while the people in the reading ask, “Why did you bring us out Egypt to this wilderness?” that Egypt is a type (as in typology; 'it stands for') the world from God is rescuing us. Folk of today who find commitment to The Faith difficult ask why they should be taken out of the world; out of their careers, hobbies, social circles etc, to become what people call ‘a religious nut’. For them devotion to Christ seems to be seen as an alternative to ‘life’: I have known daily Mass goers and converts who, when a career change, a new hobby, new social circle or new relationship come along, no longer exhibit devotion to the Lord by making the effort to get to Holy Mass. It just doesn't occur to them; they “have something important in life now”. Such a career, hobby or relationship, when it diminishes our devotion to the Mass, cannot be of God, for God does not bring about that which lessens our devotion to Him -and our hold on salvation.

For the genuine and devout Catholic nothing is more central than the Mass; the Cross, the Mystery of Faith. They know that our salvation, our happiness, is not primarily in our career, our social circle or our relationships, but in the Cross, and the Cross is in the Holy Mass. In Cruce Salus; nunc et in aeternum.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

In My Opinion... 7 Points On the Crisis in the Church

Several times on the blog I have tried to convey the fact that I know myself to be a sinner, but I begin this post by yet again affirming my sinfulness before God and man lest I appear self-righteous.
It would be imprudent to list my sins in public, but let me say that while I have not committed the sins the world sees as the worst (adultery, abuse, murder, misappropriation of funds) I do seem to have fallen prey to many of the sins brought to me in Confession: sloth, the callous tongue, the over-indulgence in alcohol, the failure to challenge those I know personally who are in irregular unions or who are using contraception, involved with crime, violence or substance abuse. So I can genuinely echo what was said by St Paul: “The good that I would like to do, I don’t do -and the things I would rather not do, I find myself doing”. There is a concept in Social Work today of ‘good-enough parenting’, but I hesitate to apply even ‘good-enough’ to myself as a spiritual Father. To that extent I echo the words of psalm 37: “My wounds [sins] are foul and festering; the result of my own folly...” but I rejoice in Psalm 64: “Too heavy for us our offences, O Lord, but You wipe them away.” All in all, this post comes from a sinner seeking holiness. My self-image and my image of the folk I base on psalm 102: “Bless the Lord, my soul, and never forget all His blessings. It is He Who forgives all your sins: who heals all your diseases” which I couple with Matthew 9v12. "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but the sick”.

All that said, many who know me often mistake my conviction in preaching what the Church teaches and my insistence on celebrating (I hope) good liturgies (saying the black and doing the red) as self-assurance or even arrogance. Well...No. I have confidence in the rightfulness of what Sacred Tradition teaches and I am convinced of the need for a liturgy that focuses on God -but that is it.

What then, am I giving my opinion about? About the Crisis in the Church and its resolution: I am praying our prelates will acknowledge (though I suspect deep down many are actually aware of it) that something is dreadfully wrong in the Church; I am praying many will swim against the current episcopal tide and come to recognise the following.

1. That Vatican II needs to be clarified.
It has been said that "the key to understanding Vatican II is best expressed in two phrases that characterized it, namely, the Church is semper reformanda (“always in need of reform”) and the Church is Populi Dei (People of God)"; that these phrases “reflect a new self-understanding of church” (see here), de-emphasizing the institutional model of church in favour of a less doctrinaire, more pastoral, more ecumenical and more democratic model. Well, if the Church is the people of God and always in need of reform, this is not new: Confession has been in place since Apostolic times for the reforming of the people of God (i.e., anyone who is baptised). This in no way ousts the Institutional model, which is of Divine Will. This quote is but one example of how Vatican II has been misunderstood. Without doubt, many grave distortions have crept into the Church since Vatican II, being due to the ambiguous texts of the Council -and these ambiguities have been admitted (see Cardinal Kasper’s admission in ‘L'Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2013) -which suggests direct manipulation of the Council by men. Indeed, on the strength of Vatican II, distortions have entered into the liturgy; into ecumenism (e.g., the idea that we are all the same and can be saved in any religion); into what is meant by the sensus fidelium; into collegiality and into the role played by the laity.

2. That the Liturgy needs to be taken in hand.
*The call for ‘active participation’ has been portrayed as ‘activity’ when in fact it primarily means full, conscious (internal) contemplation of the Mystery in which we participate. Dancing, mimes, dramas, gathering children around the altar etc, are not authentic participation but illicit additions to the Rite of Mass.
*The versus populum orientation is neither in Vatican II nor in the Missal Pope Paul authorised as giving concrete form to the reform asked for by the Council: there is NO DIRECTIVE that priests are to face the people at Mass, though it is given as a possible option (Prot. No. 2036/00/L regarding GIRM #299). THE DIRECTIVE OF THE MISSAL is to face the altar (see GIRM 157 & 158 and rubrics 132,133).
*Communion in the hand was introduced illegally in Holland from where it spread to Belgium, France and Germany, and was allowed by Paul VI only where it had already begun by 1969. Again, there is no directive from Rome stating that this is to be the norm; the directive is still, officially, to receive on the tongue (Memoriale Domini, 1969, CDW).
*There is no directive to remove altar rails.
*There is no requirement to have the whole Mass offered in the vernacular. There is however, from Vatican II, a directive that the people should be able to say or sing their parts of the Mass in Latin (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36,54; GIRM #41) and that Gregorian Chant is the primary music of the Mass (see Sacrosanctum Concilium #116).
*Use of hymns is supposed to be a last resort for music at Mass, since the Church wants us to sing the Mass texts themselves (cf. Notitiae 5 [1969] p. 406; and USCCB BCL Newsletter, August-September, 1993).

3. That the catechism needs to be put back into schools.
*The criticism that this was ‘parrot-fashion learning’ is an error; children taught the catechism by good teachers did not simply learn the catechism as they learned the Arithmetic Tables, they learned it with fuller explanations. Yes they learned in the question and answer format and so remember them to this day because its repetition usefully sticks in the mind, but they may not necessarily remember the fuller explanations they were given too, just as they may not necessarily remember other lessons they were given as children at school which were not parrot-fashion learning.
*‘Parrot-fashion’ learning usefully provides children with answers on The Faith when it is questioned, just as parrot-fashion tables gives them a useful tool for shopping; a cf. Catechesi Tradendae (1979) #55: “A certain memorization of the words of Jesus, of important Bible passages, of the Ten Commandments, of the formulas of profession of the faith, of the liturgical texts, of the essential prayers, of key doctrinal ideas, etc., far from being opposed to the dignity of young Christians, or constituting an obstacle to personal dialogue with the Lord, is a real need, as the synod fathers forcefully recalled. We must be realists. The blossoms, if we may call them that, of faith and piety do not grow in the desert places of a memory-less catechesis. What is essential is that the texts that are memorized must at the same time be taken in and gradually understood in depth, in order to become a source of Christian life on the personal level and the community level” (emphasis added).

4. That the authentic Lay Apostolate needs to be rediscovered.
*Vatican II never once spoke of lay ministry; you will not find those words anywhere in Vatican II; it always spoke of Lay Mission, and clarified this by encouraging the laity to be active in bringing The Faith to bear in their work and social lives. Lay ministry is not a development of Vatican II, but a distortion of Lay Mission, which is much missing in today’s world.
*The co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom the Bishops share a common call and a common ontology, are the priests. The role of the laity is to evangelise the world, not to replace the Presbyterate.

5. That the ‘New Pastoral Care’ orientation  needs attention
The ‘new pastoral care’ (as evidenced by the call even from prelates to admit civilly re-married divorcees, cohabitees and those in same-sex unions to Holy Communion) is dangerous to the salvation of the souls of those in such situations –and to the souls of the clerics who promote their admission to Eucharistic Communion.
*The ‘new pastoral care’ springs from emotionalism and an erroneous understanding of justice. Emotionalism doesn't want to see people in pain (which is laudable) but it seeks to alleviate the pain by hiding the truth of the situation in which they are living. It is the giving of false hope for the Gospel Truths are unalterable, and changing Church discipline to accommodate error is to accommodate the destruction of souls brought by the father of lies. 
*In regard to such souls and justice, it is said that those excluded from Holy Communion are being oppressed by the Church. Not true: their souls are oppressed by their situation but they do not know it. Excluding them from Holy Communion is like the responsible bar-tender refusing to pour another drink for the man who is dangerously intoxicated. I sum up all this ‘new pastoral care’ by saying that “pastoral care has degenerated from pastoral sensitivity (wherein the Truth is explained to souls with tender care and compassion) into pastoral sentimentality (wherein Truth is ignored simply to make the person feel at ease)”.
*Social Justice (the corporal works of mercy) has become the only kind of pastoral work in which many seek to engage, with the spiritual works of mercy neglected in the performance of those corporal works.

6. Get Collegiality into perspective.
Collegiality is not, and this is by Divine Will, joint government of the Church by Pope and Bishops. There is to be a common solicitude for all the Churches (expressed via advice and support? –such as in a sharing of priests, of resources, of good practice points etc, and common statements reiterating official Church teaching) but not shared Governance since this intrinsically impacts upon and reduces the governance exercised by a Bishop in his own Diocese, for which he alone is accountable to the Divine.

7.Get 'sensus fidelium' right.
This cannot be made to refer to the majority opinion of those now living; it encompasses the Church throughout her history. While many today might favour divorce and remarriage, contraception, homosexual pairings et al , this is not true of the Christians of the last 2000 years. Those favouring these new positions today are inconsistent with the authentic senus fidelium, and with Divine Deposit in both Scripture and Tradition.
There is much to be done. It is down to the Bishops to lead us, led by Rome. Oremus.