The Schism Already Exists
By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing on My Head:
Headlines last week were proclaiming that a group of cardinals believe Pope Francis should step down to avoid a catastrophic schism in the Catholic Church.
Schism? What schism?
In fact, the modern Catholic Church is already in schism, but it is an internal schism, hidden to most people.
The divide is very clear and yet virtually unspoken. Nobody dares to really speak of it. The divide runs between cardinals. It runs between bishops and archbishops. It runs between theologians. It runs between parish priests. It runs between liturgists and catechists, church workers, musicians, teachers, journalists and writers.
It is not really a divide between conservative and liberal, between traditionalist and progressive.
It is the divide between those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Virgin born Son of God and that as the second person of the Holy and undivided Trinity established his church on earth supernaturally filled with the Holy Spirit which would stand firm until the end of time, and those who believe otherwise.
Those who believe otherwise are the modernists. They are the ones who think the church is a human construct. It is a historic accident that occurred two thousand years ago and succeeded by a few twists of fate and a few happy circumstances. Because the believe the church is a human construct from a particular time and place, the church can and MUST adapt and change for every age and culture in which she finds herself.
This is the great divide. This is the schism which already exists.
Is the church a divinely appointed institution established for the eternal salvation of souls or is it a social construct which sincere people have put together to make the world a better place?
This is the divide within the church today and every conflict about everything –from music, to architecture, to art, to Catholic education, from liturgy, to literature, from devotions to disciplines and doctrines–everything comes back to this basic divide.
Of course I believe the first: the church was established by God’s Son Jesus Christ our Lord for the defeat of Satan, the salvation of souls and the redemption of the world through the supernatural graces empowered by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
All the rest–from saving the environment to feeding the hungry, from equal rights for workers to opening a soup kitchen, from educating the young to achieving peace and justice–are secondary and reliant on this first and eternal priority.
The schism already exists.
All that is required is for individual Catholics to decide which side of the chasm they reside.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker
By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing on My Head:
There are many problems in the Catholic Church that might be thought to be the ‘smoke of Satan’ entering the church, but for my money one thing, above all others, has been the successful work of Satan, which has undermined the church, emasculated her ministry, sabotaged the aims of the Holy Spirit and captured a multitude of souls.
It is the modernist re-interpretation of the Catholic faith. The reductionist results of modern Biblical scholarship and the infiltration of a modernist, rationalistic and materialistic mindset meant that the supernatural was assumed to be impossible, and therefore the Bible stories (and also any supernatural elements of the faith) had to be ‘de-mythologized.’ Everything supernatural within the Biblical account and within the lives of the saints and within the teaching of the church were assumed to be impossible and had to be ‘re-interpreted’ so they would make sense to modern, scientifically minded people.
So the feeding of the five thousand wasn’t a miracle. Instead the ‘real miracle’ was that everyone shared their lunch. Everything had to be questioned and ‘re-interpreted’ in such a way that it could be accepted and understood by modern people. So when we call Jesus Christ “God Incarnate” what we really mean was that he was so fully human, and that as he reached his potential as a man that he shows us what divinity looks like. When we speak of the Blessed Virgin we mean she was ‘a very good and holy Jewish young woman.’ When we speak of the ‘Real Presence’ we mean that we see the ‘Christ that is within each one of us.”
I hate this crap.
It’s the smoke of Satan, and it’s virtually triumphant within the mainstream Protestant churches, and sadly, the modern Catholic Church in the USA is riddled through with the same noxious heresy. The reason it is so obnoxious and disgusting is because priests and clergy of all sorts still use all the traditional language of the liturgy, the Scriptures and the creeds, but they have changed the meaning of it altogether. They never actually stand up and say that they have changed the meaning, and that they no longer believe the faith once delivered to the saints. They don’t discuss the fact that they have not only changed the meaning, but robbed it of meaning altogether. Instead they still stand up week by week and recite the creed as if they think it is true, but what they mean by ‘true’ is totally different from what their people mean.
So Father Flannel stands up on Easter Day and says, “Alleluia! Today we rejoice in the glorious resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.” His people think he really believes that Jesus’ dead body came back to life by the power of God and that he went on to live forever. In fact what Father Flannel really means is that “in some way the beautiful teachings of Jesus were remembered and continued by his followers long after his tragic death.” The people don’t know why Father Flannel’s Catholic life is so lightweight and limp and they don’t know why his style is so lacking in substance, and they go on in their muddled way thinking that he really does believe the Catholic faith when, in fact, he doesn’t at all.
Priest Has No Message
Consequently, Fr Flannel doesn’t really have much of a message at all. He doesn’t believe any of the gospel except as some sort of beautiful story which inspires people to be nicer to each other. All that is left of his priesthood, therefore, is to be a nice guy to entertain people with inspirational thoughts and get everyone to be nicer to one another and try to save the planet.
The poor faithful have swallowed this stuff for two or three generations now, and they don’t even know what poison they’re swallowing because the lies are all dressed up in the same traditional language the church has always used. It’s like someone has put battery acid into a milk bottle and given it to a baby, and never imagined that there was anything wrong with doing so–indeed thought it was the best thing for baby.
The faithful don’t know why their church has become like a cross between a Joan Baez concert and a political activism meeting. They don’t understand why they never hear the need for confession or repentance or hear about old fashioned terms like ‘the precious blood’ or ‘ the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord and Savior” The fact of the matter is Father Flannel doesn’t really think that sort of thing is ‘helpful’.
This is why evangelization of the American Catholics in the pew is probably the most difficult task of all. They don’t know what they don’t know. For three generations now they have been given watered down milk and been told it was wine. They actually think that Catholic lite is what it’s all about, and are astounded to think that there are some of us who think that they have actually been fed a version of Christianity that is scarcely Christianity at all.
By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing on My Head:
Edward Pentin writes here about the possibility that “in special cases” Protestants might be admitted to receive the Body and Blood of Christ at a Catholic Eucharist.
The debate specifically over intercommunion with Christian denominations follows recent remarks by Cardinal Walter Kasper who, in a Dec. 10 interview with Avvenire, said he hopes Pope Francis’ next declaration will open the way for intercommunion with other denominations “in special cases.”
There are several things which are troubling about this news. The first is the way the modernists attempt change. What they really want is open communion with Protestants, but they know they will never achieve that so they insert the thin edge of the wedge with “special cases.”
The tool they use to do this is sentimentalism and “tough cases.” So we are presented, for example, with a good Lutheran woman who is married to a Catholic, and with long faces they tell everyone how saddened they are not to be able to receive communion together. They tell how they attended the deathbed of the man’s mother and everyone else received communion with her, but the Lutheran woman was excluded.”
This is the tyranny of tenderness. If you object you are perceived as a rigid hardliner, a tough, legalistic, Pharisaical hypocrite. Everyone says, “Awww. That’s so sad. Those Catholic conservatives are so harsh!”
No one stops and uses common sense and asks why, if receiving Catholic communion is so important for this dear Lutheran lady, that she hadn’t taken RCIA and become a Catholic years ago.
If she honestly does not believe the Catholic faith, we accept and respect her beliefs. What no one asks the lady is, “If you believe the Catholic faith why do you not come into the church? If you do not believe the Catholic faith why do you want to receive communion? No one likes hypocrisy. Why do you not only want to be a hypocrite, but do so publicly, using the Body and Blood of Christ, and why do you expect us to applaud this?”
However, if the murky world of Kasper Church such common sense and plain talking is not appreciated, and this is the second objection. Those who are pushing for change are deliberately keeping the conversation vague. The issue is not vague, however. The church’s teaching is clear and you should always be suspicious of those theologians who say, “Well, of course it’s more nuanced than that…”
Everyone accepts that real life is messier than the rules, but the rules are established to help make sense of the mess and move forward. If we made the rules according to the mess rather than the other way around everything would be chaos.
As a convert from the Church of England, I need to remind Catholics of a few home truths. This ambiguous, sentimentalists version of Christianity doesn’t have much mileage. The deliberately ambiguous language in order to bring about long term change is the tactic of the wolf not the shepherd.
The Church of England started to compromise on the little stuff with the “special cases” and ambiguous language and now the floodgates have opened.
Believe me. It begins with the fuzzy language and “special cases” and then everything else follows. Consider artificial contraception. It began with the Anglicans saying that married couples, “in special circumstances” with advice from their pastor might in some situations use artificial contraception. Now it is a sexual free for all and the whole concept of marriage is in free fall.
The Catholic Church must avoid yielding to the temptation of giving in on what seems a small matter in “special circumstances.”
It might seem harsh to exclude Protestants from communion, but every religious group has boundaries. Protestants claim open communion, but they have boundaries too. Most of them would not welcome Mormons or Moonies or Unitarians or Christian Science devotees. These people claim to follow Jesus Christ, but their theology is not acceptable so they would either be excluded or expected to forsake their false religion and join the Protestants’ church.
Furthermore, when you examine the facts you will also learn that in almost every situation the church already allows for pastoral decisions in special cases.
So, in the issue of communion for non-Catholics, we already allow for special cases. With the bishop’s permission at a family event like a wedding or funeral a non-Catholic may, in some instances receive communion. Also, on their deathbed, if a non Catholic requests the Catholic sacraments the priest is permitted to administer them.
I’ll finish with a very personal story. My own sister got cancer. She was an Anglican. When I went to visit her I took my holy oils and my first class relic of St Therese and learned that she had travelled to Oxford when Therese’s relics were on tour. She went to confession to a Catholic priest and he made an exception and heard her confession. She asked if I would anoint her and since she asked and was in a final illness, I was able to give her the sacrament of the sick. She planned to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes with my other sister–a Catholic, but she died the day she was to depart for Lourdes.
So the church already allows for “special cases” and we don’t need Cardinal Kasper pushing the envelope using ambiguous language and sentimentality to make disastrous changes.
Think About It. Does God Want a Spiritual But Not Religious Faith?
Written with great charity, which makes this article perfect to be shared and discussed.
By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing on my Head;
I’m Spiritual but not Religious.
“I’m spiritual but not religious” is one of the catch phrases you’ll hear a good bit these days.
My question about this is, “How do you do that?”
Just exactly what do you do to be spiritual without being religious?
Do you kind of sit quietly from time to time and think beautiful thoughts?
Maybe you go for a hike and think, “Gee this is really a nice day!” Do you smile at folks and think to yourself, “I can see the sunshine of eternity in their smile!” Maybe you feel warm when you read that poem about walking on the beach and there was only one set of footprints and that’s when the Lord carried you?” Do you maybe light a candle from time to time and turn out the lights and feel spiritual for a time? Do you sit cross legged on the mountaintop and watch the sunrise?
I just can’t figure out how a person can be spiritual without being religious because wouldn’t you have to be religious (at least a little bit) to be spiritual?
Spiritual But Not Religious Analogy
Saying you’re spiritual but not religious is like saying you love sports but you don’t play a sport and don’t watch it on TV or go to any games, because once you tried to play the sport or even go to the games you would have to be taking part in the rules that make sport actually happen.
Saying you’re spiritual but not religious would be like saying you love music, but you don’t play an instrument, never took music lessons, don’t go to concerts and don’t listen to music through your headphones even. Because if you were to do any of those things you would be taking advantage of the rules and regulations and structures and strictures that actually make music possible.
The root of the word “religious” is “to bind”. That means you bind yourself to a certain rule or way of doing things. It’s not all free flowing, do as you please and make it up as you go along. Just as there are rules to the game, music on the page and a map for the journey, so there is religion to make “being spiritual” possible.
Surely as soon as a person starts to try to “be spiritual” they start being religious.
Do you get spiritual by lighting a candle and having a little statue of Buddha in front of you? Well, that’s being religious. Do you get spiritual by reading a poem that means something to you or by reading a book with a collection of quotes or beautiful thoughts? Well, that’s being religious because you are treating those books as your sacred text.
So maybe what the “spiritual but not religious” person means is that they do not go in for organized religion. They mean they are not members of an institutional church. That’s possible, but maybe they misunderstand what the purpose of organized religion actually IS.
Religion Maps the Journey to being Spiritual
Organized religion with all its devotions and duties, with all its doctrines and dogmas, with all its rules and rubrics and regulations is simply the rules for the game, the music on the printed page, the map for the journey and the instructions for how to be spiritual.
The organized religion is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
Organized religion is really only a group of people who want to be spiritual getting themselves organized. They gather the experience and tradition of the past, they gather their community together because being spiritual is easier with a group, and they share and care for one another and share the necessary disciplines to “be spiritual” successfully.
Spiritual But Not Religious
But of course, this gets messy because it gets real. I suspect being “spiritual but not religious” is too easy and too unreal. Getting spiritual in a religion, on the other hand, means you have to get to work. You have to climb the mountain. You have to scrape your knees. You have to learn how to love, forgive and help other people who are on that same journey and part of your team…and all that is tough.
Lest it seem like no more than an inspiring version of the Boy Scouts or the Rotary Club, it is the supernatural dimension that fires them up, inspires them supernaturally and helps them to get organized so their desire to “be spiritual” can achieve lift off.
Honestly, How Can One be “Spiritual but not Religious?”
by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing on My Head:
The feminist Anglicans have unveiled their latest campaign.
Now that they’ve succeeded in getting women ordained as priests and bishops they’re pushing for the language of the liturgy to be changed to call God “Mother.”
Here are twelve reasons why you can’t call God “Mother”
1. Jesus tells us to call God “Father” – The really big reason comes first. Jesus himself tells us to call God Father. Of course the feminist activists don’t take something like the Bible or even the words of Jesus seriously. They’ve stopped believing in something so “fundamentalist” as the authority of Scripture long ago. They regard the New Testament as “an interesting first century Jewish document” which was, of course, conditioned by the patriarchal culture of its time. Jesus–for all his beautiful teachings and fine example–was also hopelessly conditioned by his own time period. That was then. This is now. We can change all that.
2. The Old Testament refers to God as Father – From paragraph 238 of the Catechism: Many religions invoke God as “Father”. The deity is often considered the “father of gods and of men”. In Israel, God is called “Father” inasmuch as he is Creator of the world. Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, “his first-born son”. God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he is “the Father of the poor”, of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under his loving protection.
First Church of England Woman Bishop Libby Lane
3. The Liturgy Calls God “Father” – We believe what we pray. We pray what we believe. To tinker with the liturgy is always to tinker with what we actually believe. When we start calling God “Mother” people will start believing God is their Mother not their Father. Of course, the feminists know this. That’s exactly why they want to change the liturgy. They want to change the Bible too. There is already an “Inclusive Bible” Go here.
4. The Catechism explains why we call God Father and how this includes the mothering attributes of God – By calling God “Father”, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.
5. Calling God “Mother” and “Father” is confusing – Our world is confused enough about gender right now. Calling God both Mother and Father makes God some kind of transgendered being. Nope.
6. Gender identification enables a loving relationship – Think about it. You can’t love someone without sex being involved. I don’t mean by “sex” genital activity. What I mean is that we relate to others through gender. I relate to my mother as her son. I relate to my brother as my brother. I relate to my daughter as her father. I relate to every other person in a sexual way. I am male. They are either male or female. I cannot have a true relationship with someone who is neither male nor female. I can’t relate to an “it”. God wants us to love him and be in relationship with him. That is why he reveals himself as “Father” and why Jesus commands us to call God “Father” so that we can relate to him as his sons and daughters. We cannot be in a loving relationship with an abstract being who is sometimes Mother and sometimes Father.
7. Calling God “Father” helps to heal the father wound – All of us have a longing for perfect, unconditional everlasting love. We want to be loved and known by the greatest love. Our relationship with our earthly fathers–even with the best of fathers–falls short of that and leave us with what is called “the Father wound”. This empty space, this unfulfilled Father love can only be filled by the love of God the Father. Calling God “Mother” destroys that possibility.
8. Mary is our Mother in Heaven–Not God – It is no co incidence that Protestant Christians are wanting a Mother in heaven. They got rid of Blessed Mother Mary five hundred years ago and have been missing their heavenly mother ever since. Protestantism has had a mother deficit ever since they rejected the Mother Jesus gave them (remember from the cross he said, “Behold your mother”?) Now instead of venerating Blessed Mother Mary as they should their longing for a Mother in Heaven is leading them into the heresy of calling God their Mother.
9. The Bible and the Saints Never Refer to God as Mother – The most the feminists can dig up is one reference in the fourteenth century mystic Julian of Norwich who refers to “God is our Father and our Mother”. Hildegard of Bingen also says something similar, but this is no more than what the Catechism says above–that God is beyond human sexuality and his being “Father” includes the traits and strengths of mother. They also use Jesus’ line about Jerusalem, “I would gather you up as a hen gathers her chicks” But all of this is the symbolic language of mystics. God is never directly referred to as “Mother” and is never addressed as “Mother” in any liturgy anywhere.
10. Referring to God as “Mother” is part of an overall plan to eradicate any sign of patriarchy from Christianity – Depend on it. Calling God both “Mother” and “Father” is only the first step. God as “Father” must be removed completely. There is an agenda therefore, to alter the very foundation principles and theology of Christianity so that they worship another god altogether, and you only have to read the new age feminist theologians to understand that the goddess they want to worship is nothing like “Our Father in Heaven” instead it is “Earth Mother”. In other words, calling God “Mother” is not an alternative form of Christianity. It is not Christianity at all.
11. To Call God “Mother” is to worship a pagan Goddess – Why are women priests so afraid to be called “priestesses”? I asked one once. She said, “It sounds too pagan.” Indeed. Likewise, why are they so timid about calling the new god they worship a “Goddess”? Because it sounds too pagan. Don’t be deceived though. It won’t be long before they will embrace these terms. A new generation will not be so shy and will say, “Yes, you’re right. I am a priestess and I worship the goddess. So what?” And having accepted the goddess worshipping priestesses who will be able to say “Boo!”?
12. Calling God Mother opens the door to New Age Witchcraft – Why are people so dense about this? One only has to read the new age feminist theologians themselves to discover that the religion they are sympathetic to is none other than the worship of the Nature Goddess–the God of this world–aka Satan. Of course “enlightened” people will sneer at such an accusation, but feminist theologians themselves call for the complete abolition of the Father God and the embrace of the Mother Goddess. These feminist theologians have been very influential in the Anglican church. I was there. They were all over the place in the women’s ordination movement. That’s where it is headed, and the reason anyone who can’t see it is because they won’t see it.
Child Sacrifice Is Alive And Well!
Fr. Dwight Longenecker
– In case you think the murder of little children, cannibalism and black magic are isolated practices or are simply part of a disgusting and primitive Chinese culture– the practice is increasing rather than dying out. The dried bodies of baby boys used to be replaced with wooden effigies. That wasn’t good enough. They’re bringing the real thing back again.
Furthermore, the practice of child sacrifice is not just an Asian phenomenon. It’s increasing in Africa too. Here is a BBC news story about the horrors of child sacrifice in present day Uganda. This article from Zimbabwe chronicles the scourge of child sacrifice in countries across Africa.
This is crude, primitive, barbaric and superstitious stuff. It doesn’t happen in United States and Britain does it? Sure it does. The medical industry in the USA “harvests” organs and body parts regularly from aborted fetuses. Here’s information about this industry which one industry worker calls “unpleasant but necessary”. If you have the stomach you might want to take time if you’re interested to watch this video about the presence of witchcraft within radical feminism and the abortion industry in the United States.
Of course the presence of a few witches in a couple of abortion clinics isn’t evidence of widespread black magic, cannibalism and primitive superstitious practices. Stop for a moment though and consider the reasoning behind child sacrifice, cannibalism and black magic. The occult practitioner–whether he is an African, a pre-Colombian South American, an ancient worshipper of Moloch or a Chinese businessman or Korean drug smuggler, wants the five “Ps”– protection, prosperity, potency, pleasure and power. The superstitious believe they will get this by making a child sacrifice to a pagan deity.
People in developed countries are doing exactly the same thing, but without messing about with pagan deities. The child in Uganda may be kidnapped, mutilated, murdered and cannibalized to give power, potency, prosperity and protection. The Westerners promote abortion because “the family can’t afford another child” and by saving money they attain prosperity and protection and power. By having sex unencumbered by babies the man and woman also achieve the other aim of the superstitious: increased sexual potency and pleasure.
It’s not real difficult: you can only serve one God. It’s either Mammon (the five “Ps”) or God. The way of the first is the way of brutality, child sacrifice and the worship of Satan and the Self.
The was of the second is to follow Christ–who overcomes the forces of darkness and death to bring light and life.
Originally posted at: Standing On My Head
Is Hell Heavily Populated?
Father Dwight Longenecker – Having just finished Ralph Martin’s excellent study on universalism, Will Many Be Saved? it leads me to wonder about this thing we call speculative theology. It seems to me that theologians may well speculate when sacred Scripture and church teaching is unclear about something, but in the matter of heaven, hell and salvation there is not really very much room for speculation. The Scriptures are clear in their teaching that many will be damned and few will be saved. Furthermore, Ralph Martin shows that it has been the unanimous teaching of the church and the witness of saints and mystics that many are damned and few are saved.
Of course this is a “hard saying”. We don’t like the idea that anyone should be consigned to everlasting torment, but that’s what the Word of God teaches. Nevertheless, there is room for speculation. The problem I have with wannabe universalists like Balthasar and Rahner is not that they speculate, but that they do not speculate enough. They are busy speculating in ways that undermine the clear meaning of Scripture and contradict the timeless message of the gospel and the traditions of the church. To soften the harsh reality that many people will reject God’s love and go to hell forever they try to imagine how this might not be true and how God’s love will overcome all obstacles and reach down and save people even if they don’t want to be saved.
In their desire to uphold the universal redemption of the world and the everlasting love of God they over rule human freedom and the reality of human depravity and rebellion against God. In their naïve’ sentimentality they can’t imagine that anyone would reject God’s love, and yet every verifiable bit of evidence from history and yesterday’s newspaper reveal the total depravity of many men’s hearts and their spitting hatred of all that is beautiful, good and true.
Instead of speculating the truth of God away with their own imaginings why not speculate as to how people might be saved through unconventional ways of choosing God or what might happen to souls who reject God.
C.S.Lewis’ final Narnia book The Great Battle has a great scene where a pagan who always worshiped the God Tash–but did so in nobility, honor and virtue sees the Christ figure Aslan and recognizes him as the “Tash” he always worshipped whereas the follower of Aslan who was corrupt and deceitful sees Aslan and it is Tash who devours him. In other words, at the judgement all shall be revealed. All impediments will be taken away and perhaps each soul will see Christ and know him clearly and fully for who he is and what he has done. All doubt and misunderstanding will be erased. All true motives will be revealed and at that moment the summary of the soul’s choice will be finalized. We can speculate along those lines because it allows that many who have never known the gospel, but have followed the light they have been given may see Christ and be saved by him who is the only Way, Truth and Life.
But simply to speculate that hell is not real or that if it is real there is nobody there is to defy Scripture, tradition, the magisterium of the church, the witness of the saints and common sense, for do we really honestly believe that the most wicked souls on earth will desire to enter heaven?
We must accept hell and we must accept that many go there. But even then there is room for speculation. We know that hell exists and we must accept that it is a place of punishment and torment. Not because God is a sadistic monster, but because hell is separation from God and that must be torment for anyone. What are we to make of the torment? It may be fire and brimstone and monsters and pitchforks, but it may also be the torment of loneliness, the torment of regret, the torment of grief and loss, the torment of alienation from God forever. It may be darkness and fire and ice and all these things and more.
We can also speculate about the number who go to hell. Will there really be great multitudes who reject God’s love and hate him to the bitter end? My own opinion is that this is so because I see so many people in this life who hate all that is beautiful, good and true. It is so easy to suggest that the vast majority are poor, lost lemmings who don’t really know God or reject God and that they are good at heart and mean well and when they see Christ they will accept him joyfully. But is this the case? To be sure there are many who have just impediments to faith. They were shown a bad example, or they were abused by a Christian or they were never taught the true faith.
However, there are also a vast number of people who have no impediments. They live in a Christian society. There is a church on every street corner. There are signs of faith all around them. They are surrounded by Christian friends, family and neighbors. They have been to Sunday School and been catechized. They have Christian radio shows and television programs. They have religious books and websites. They have had plenty of time and plenty of chances to seek the truth, to find the Lord and to pursue their soul’s salvation and they have done nothing at all. They have not sought the Lord. They have not sought eternal life and they have not responded to any sign of religion or faith. Shall they not be held accountable for the fact that they did nothing? They did not care enough for their soul to even begin asking the questions?
Is it not patronizing and treating them with contempt to say, “Oh well, all you mediocre people–you will just be gathered up in God’s big loving embrace and welcomed home?” They have not done anything to respond to the love that was offered or the redemption won for them at great price. Shall we treat their choice with such disrespect and force them into a heaven they have no desire for and have done nothing to merit?
And what of the millions of pagan souls who have never heard of Christ? We hope that they may be saved by following faithfully the light they have been given, and we are taught that this is possible, but is there much evidence that many of those souls do, in fact, pursue the light they have been given with sincere hearts and with all their might? I hope that it is so, but I do not see evidence of such. It seems to me that most men are like me–they spend their lives thinking only of themselves and their pleasure and think very little about God and his Beauty and goodness. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that many of the pagans are not simply drifting in a haze of general niceness and goodness which will one day allow them to drift into heaven. Instead among the pagans we see true barbarism, cruelty, violence and the worship of demons.
The speculation can continue. Let us suppose that there are multitudes upon multitudes heading on the broad path to destruction. What becomes of them? We know that those who are saved are called to ‘grow up to the full humanity of Jesus Christ.’ They are called to be divinized. The redeemed become greater and greater in their growth in glory. Their progress to sanctification continues until they are full and completely radiant eternal beings. What if the damned are on an opposite trajectory? If the saved are getting bigger and bigger and being infused with more and more glory and goodness and the fullness of God in Christ Jesus in an ever widening gyre is it not logical to suppose that the damned are getting smaller and smaller and less and less significant and going down an ever decreasing spiral into the dark?
If the saved are becoming individual, radiant and unique beings eternal in the heavens perhaps the damned are becoming increasingly insignificant–mere ciphers of what they could have been–drones with empty souls and empty hearts. All glory has been withdrawn from them and they are dwindling into ash, falling into trash, descending into being mere shadows of the stars they were meant to be. If this is the case, then the Scriptures which talk about the wood, hay and stubble being burnt up make sense. This is the fire that purifies and burns up all that is trash. We do not hold to hell as obliteration of the eternal soul, but perhaps the eternal soul shrinks into so insignificant an identity as to be what ash is to a piece of wood?
The judgement therefore is not made on quantitative terms but qualitative. As harsh as it may sound, does it matter that the trash is thrown on the fire? This is actually the image the Christ uses when he speaks of Gehenna–which was the trash dump outside Jerusalem. The chaff will be thrown away and burned. The potter throws the broken pot onto the trash heap. The waste is a tragedy, but nature is prodigious. There are many acorns but from them few oak trees. There are many seeds and few flowers. There is much coal but few diamonds.
I realize in this egalitarian age where we judge by quantity not quality such a thought is horrendous, and my own heart is heavy at the thought of so many being damned. Indeed it is heavy at the thought of one soul being damned. I wish that all would come to salvation and hope that many will see Christ at that moment and say “yes” to Love, “yes” to Life “yes” to Goodness, Truth and Beauty, “yes” to Christ.
However, I cannot help but believe that there will also be many who will continue to hate Christ and reject his love. St Faustina saw that each soul would see Christ and he will ask each one three times if they love him and only those who reject his love three times will depart from him. That is the sort of speculation that inspires me for it combines hope and mercy with the reality of the everlasting consequences of human choice. This is truly a severe mercy, but the only one which grants man true dignity in the image of God for part of that image is that God has granted to each soul a portion of his own omnipotence–which we call free will–and this free will cannot be violated or man is no longer in God’s image.
It must therefore be respected, and for that free will to be respected it must receive the consequences of its choice.
Originally Posted at: Standing On My Head
What is a Pelosi Catholic Anyway?
Fr. Dwight Longenecker created this article about why liberals love Pope Francis (or hope to love him.) He coined a phrase the “Pelosi Catholic” which “Magesterial Catholics” liked so much he decided to fully define it. Here are both of Father Longenecker’s articles.
Why are progressive Catholics and the secular press so in love with Pope Francis? Not because they love the Catholic faith, but because they see Francis as a vehicle for their own agenda. The Crescat has a couple of interesting posts about how the press is handling Pope Francis here and here. She says what I feel–that we don’t have a problem with Pope Francis and his simple style. What we dislike is the implication by the press that he is the opposite of Benedict. A typical example is a little phrase in an article in the Daily Telegraph today about Francis using a 20 year old Fiat Popemobile rather than the bulletproof Mercedes that Benedict used. The Fiat is contrasted to the other popemobile which had “a white leather seat with gold trim.” Never mind that the Mercedes company designed, made and gave the safe and efficient and modern popemobile (which cost $450,000.00) to the pope.
Why this love affair with the new Pope from those who have for years hated the Catholic church and branded Pope Benedict as some sort of secret Nazi? If you want to see what all the schmoozy love talk for Francis is about check out this article in the HuffPo by John Sweeney. In it he showcases Matthew Fox’s book which ‘gives advice’ to Pope Francis. You want the Todd Unctuous version of the new Pope? Here it is then in a nutshell:
Because he is poor and comes from a poor country and loves the poor Pope Francis is a secret liberation theologian. Yay! a Marxist Pope! He hasn’t said it yet, but he’s going to go back to Vatican 2 which the last two popes did everything they could to dismantle. He’s going to listen to the people and not be the Pope. We know this because he calls himself the Bishop of Rome and not “Pope”. He is going to reverse that rule against contraception and allow pre marital sex. He’s going to allow women priests and married priests and when he gets the chance he’ll probably allow same sex marriage too!
What really gets me going is the fact that suddenly I hear of lapsed Catholics who love the new pope and non Catholics who think the new pope is marvelous. While I rejoice in this obviously successful PR, I’ll believe it when I see them starting to attend Mass and practice their Catholic faith.
I’m with the Crescat. I’m all for the Pope, but I am increasingly nauseated by the hypocritical “devout Catholics” and secularists who care nothing for the reality of the Catholic faith, but are captivated by the Pope’s simple style. What I would like to ask these Pelosi Catholics is if their new found fondness for the Bishop of Rome means they are suddenly converted to being pro-life and pro-marriage and in all things.
Soon enough the progressives will have their knives out for Pope Francis, but before they go against him, they will use him for their own agenda as much as possible. Here’s how they’ll do it: They will showcase everything he does which seems to fit their Marxist, Freudian worldview. They will ignore everything else. They will cherry pick. A new encyclical? Fugeddaboudit. Wearing brown shoes with holes in? Make a headline! A sermon in favor of marriage and family? Don’t mention it. A condemnation of a right wing dictator? Put him on the cover! You see how it goes.
The honeymoon will soon be over and when they see that on their pet issues it is business as usual they will soon get their knives out for Francis, and they will be all the more furious because they will have gotten their hopes up, they’ll do this when he rains on their gay pride parade, reminds them that women priests are impossible and affirms the pro-life, pro-family stance.
It will happen soon enough. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.
What is a Pelosi Catholic?
I coined a phrase in yesterday’s post: The Pelosi Catholic–which prompted this excellent explanation from an Italian reader
Pelosi Catholics is not just correct, it is a terrific – if unintended – pun. In Italian, the adjective “peloso”, of which “pelosi” is the plural, means “hairy”, but it has also the connotations of dishonesty and self-serving pseudery conveyed by the English “greasy”. So: Pelosi Catholics are greasy [pseudo] Catholics.
Here’s a further definition: The Pelosi Catholic’s arrogance is only equalled by his ignorance. A cultural cradle Catholic, the Pelosi Catholic mistakes their tribal ethnicity for the Catholic faith. When they say “the Catholic faith is very important to me” what they mean is “I really like stromboli and when our family gets together we have a good time and grandpa talks about the old country and grandma always said the rosary and of course we have a picture of President Kennedy and the Sacred Heart in our house. Aunt Anna gave them to us.”
Now more American than of the older ethnicity, the Pelosi Catholic has absorbed American culture and integrated it with Catholicism just as effectively as they once integrated their older ethnicity with the Catholic faith. Just as spaghetti and Verdi and vendettas once meant “Catholic” now its the Mall, middle America, the broker, the beach house, abortion, divorce and hamburgers.
The Pelosi Catholic really does believe that he can “be a devout Catholic” and “disagree with my church about important issues.”
The Pelosi Catholic should get on the bus….except it’s crowded with those progressive sisters.