When Satan Pulls Wool Over Our Eyes

Distilling some of the ideas in my book on Thomistic angelology, I published a previous column in Crisis on the massive intelligence and powers of angels. The flip-side of these spiritual faculties, as Aquinas points out, is the existence of a dark kingdom, using the same intelligence and power to prevent the spread of God’s kingdom, get more recruits, and consolidate the powers of evil in the world. In Luke 4:7, Satan declares that power over the kingdoms of the world have been delivered to him, and he offers Jesus a share in this power, if only Jesus would worship him; Jesus avoids the temptation, but does not contradict Satan’s claim of power. With some restrictions, the power is there. The spiritual panorama we are facing includes extraordinarily intelligent, gifted, influential and murderous demons capable of outsmarting all the forces of “the other side.”

Contemporaries of Pope Leo XIII have mentioned the Pope’s account of a vision of Satan, asking for and receiving permission to subject the Church to a test of fidelity for 100 years. Whether this vision is factual or not, future popes have certainly discerned diabolical opposition—one thinks of Pope Paul VI’s warning about the “smoke of Satan” in the Church, and Pope Francis’ recent remarks ascribing the persecution of Christians to the devil, and exhorting “Let us renounce Satan and all his works and seductions because he is a seducer.”

We should not lose sight of the tremendous advantages that Satan has in his project of subverting the Church—with the unflagging help of human minions bent on exterminating Christianity, and even sometimes aided by great numbers of well-meaning Christians and Christian leaders, anxious for the Church to gain secular acceptance.

The greatest advantage for Satan is the experience he has had with Christians for two millennia. He probably doesn’t know whether most individuals who have died are in heaven or purgatory. But he probably has very accurate knowledge of all those human souls who have joined his forces in hell; and also has knowledge of just exactly what sort of things brought him or her to this final destiny. This very extensive knowledge of the sort of things that manage to get people into hell is his “trump card.” Certainly enticing people to murder and steal and lie would be on his agenda. But sex may have pride of place.

Why on earth did Our Lady of Fatima in the 1917 visions to the three Portugese children point to “sins of the flesh” as the main cause of souls ending up in hell? We may scratch our heads on this. Fornication, adultery, sodomy, pornography, etc.—understandable peccadillos? Mere vicissitudes that “flesh is heir to”? No gross deeds like murder entailed, unless we consider the abortions caused by those seeking to avoid the consequences of sex, or the use of abortifacients for purposes of “safe sex.” Certainly God’s slaying of Onan (Genesis 38:10) is misunderstood, isn’t it? Just for refusing to procreate?

On the other hand, we have that very vivid picture of God in Genesis commanding the human race to procreate, and imbedding the sexual instinct in human nature, so that it becomes imperious, almost like a command coming from within for many. Apparently God really wants to “fill the earth,” and does not share the worries of the “overpopulation” pundits!

In other words, it seems that attempts to truncate procreation in the human race, in such a way as to block God’s plan, amount to an egregious offense against God himself, not to be taken lightly.

And here we come to one example of the extraordinary subtlety of Satan, made possible by the advances of modern science—the advent of the contraceptive pill. Other contraceptive methods—condoms, IUDs, diaphragms, spermicides, etc.—were unmistakably gross methods for blocking conception. But the Pill, which can even be used legitimately to control certain female irregularities, takes on the aspect of a mere healthy “tweaking” of hormones for birth control or birth prevention (in spite of the unhealthy side effects which are occasionally reported in medical studies).

But probably the most important “side effect” of the Pill is on religion, and especially for Catholics. The dissent that ensued Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae on contraception, set the stage for endemic dismissal of Petrine authority in faith and morals. In the present milieu, homilists at Mass know that preaching about Catholic laws regarding contraception, divorce, sodomy, etc. would keep some in their congregation from entering their doors again. But being silent, as is usually the case, doesn’t help, since the news spreads far and wide that this is the Catholic position. Liberal pastors preaching indiscriminate inclusiveness hope to stem the tide, but their congregations are diminishing before their eyes. The Anglican church has been the trailblazer in relaxing traditional standards of sexual morality, but even their novelty of female priests and bishops has not been able to get their congregations back into the pews.

The Case of Medjugorje
Another example of Satanic ingenuity, which I have already commented on in these pages, has been the devil’s strategic concealment of his hatred for Mary—even appearing as an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), as the Virgin Herself, or “Gospa,” at Medjugorje. Becoming rather uncharacteristically loquacious, the Gospa has appeared approximately 40,000 times to six seers since 1981, promoting the “new age” nostrum that “all religions are the same,” and other heresies, encouraging disobedience to bishops, occasionally creating great “signs” (Mat. 24:24) in imitation of the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, and making predictions that have never taken place. The ultimate triumph for the devil would be to receive approval from the Church, in spite of the heresies, disobedience, etc.

The brilliance of this maneuver consists in the popularity of Marian devotions among some Catholics, who might be looking for shrines more relevant and exciting than Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, etc., and with apparent frequent direct encounters with the supernatural. And Satan, famous for his “I will not serve,” will be enabled to slip in little snippets of spiritual rebellion here and there, depending on the credulity of his audience.

It is frequently objected that, in spite of their disobedience to bishops, and the disobedience of their patron Franciscans to Vatican mandates, they promote traditional Catholic spirituality—prayer, fasting, confession, Mass attendance, communion reception, saying of the Rosary, etc. So do other Catholic cults like the Old Catholics and the SSPX, also noted for disobedience to the magisterium. Jesus reversed the effects of the sin of Adam through his obedience, St. Paul tells us. Mary, the Lord’s handmaid, if she was present in Bosnia-Herzegovina would certainly not frequently urge disobedience to Bishop Zanic, as did the “Gospa.”

Islam and the Antichrist
A third diabolical but admittedly sagacious chess move, as I have also indicated in these pages, consists in inspiring ill-fated quasi-ecumenical rapprochements with Islam, encouraged by Catholic churchmen presumably ignorant of the history and main tenets of Islam, which the evangelist Franklin Graham characterizes more realistically as an “evil religion, fomenting hatred and wars.” There is no doubt that many Islamic leaders would consider it a compliment to be heralded as the Antichrist.

“Dialoguing” with a religion that is out to destroy or subordinate all other religions compromises otherwise commendable campaigns of Christian “outreach.” Ecumenical efforts, as initially indicated by Vatican II, must focus on the “separated brethren”—especially the Orthodox sister churches, which, unlike Protestant breakaways, share the Apostolic Succession with Catholics. A final reunion of Christians, Satan knows, would wreak havoc with his plans for hegemony of the Kingdom of Darkness. Misplaced attempts to harmonize with Muslims will help delay and postpone that dreaded threat of the reunion of Christendom. Strategic dialogues with Islam make even less sense than dialogues with other non-Christian religions, such as Buddhism or Mormonism, which are at least less violent. In days gone by, in the face of the massive Church burnings, murders and abductions being perpetrated on Christians in the Middle East, another Crusade might be called.  But crusades on the battlefield, in the old sense, are no longer possible. The minimally adequate response now, rather than appeals for dialogue, would be a demand for cessation of that violence which is doctrinally approved in Islam.

Mary’s Prescription Against Satan
No doubt the main fear that the Master of Evil has about his present strategies misfiring, is his searing memory of the warning of God about enmity from a woman, and about his “head being crushed,” in Genesis 3:15. He, with his thorough knowledge of Scripture, might also feel anxiety about interference from that Woman mentioned in Revelations 12:1, arrayed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and crowned with twelve stars.

And he may also be aware of the measures offered by Our Lady of Fatima in the twentieth century to counter the victories of the dark kingdom, and help stem the thoughtless lifestyles that lead to eternal confinement in Satan’s underground fiefdom:

Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me; and say that I promise to assist, at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.

For those of us hoping for salvation in spite of a world descending into mire, this offers one solid solution to the spiritual derangements mentioned above. Maybe too easy! But it would be an understatement to say that the plea for reparation to Mary’s Immaculate Heart has gone unheard. I think of a Sunday homily by our liberal pastor who, after reading the parable of the Prodigal Son, and saying how beautiful it was, skipped commenting on the Gospel, and spoke about how, thankfully, in the spirit of Vatican II, we have put behind us the excess of devotions like the rosary, nine First Fridays, five First Saturdays, scapulars, medals, novenas, etc., and now are emphasizing adherence to the Word. (I am not quite sure what elevated type of spirituality he was recommending. I accused him afterwards of being on a soapbox, and he, a proud supporter of the “Call to Action” and “Voice of the Faithful” movements, answered enthusiastically, “I love it.”)

I recently finished reading James Hitchcock’s book, The History of the Catholic Church. It offers much grist for thought. In the final chapters, as Hitchcock made his way into twentieth- century modernism and the aftermath of the 1960s, the event that caught my attention most was the story of the remaking of the Immaculate Heart Sisters.

Instead of growth, the number of sisters in the United States declined by over 65 percent in the period from 1965 to 2010. The most celebrated “renewal” story in the United States was that of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Los Angeles, whose program of aggiornamento was guided by the prestigious psychologist Carl Rogers (d. 1987), a one-time student for the Protestant ministry who had developed a negative attitude toward religion. The Immaculate Heart “renewal” was a paradigm for many others that followed: Many religious, having abandoned both traditional spiritualties and traditional ministries, created vacuums waiting to be filled by new absolutes—left-wing politics, environmentalism, and above all feminism.

Ironically, it was nuns dedicated to the Immaculate Heart, shedding their habits and often their vows, who were pioneers, leading the way to developments quite removed from the intentions expressed by Our Lady. The surest weapon against the onslaughts of Satan (that tremendously resourceful and humanly invincible enemy), as many saints have taught us, is confidence in, imitation of, and devotion to the Queen of the Angels, who is far ahead of the strategies and nefarious designs of the fallen angels. This weapon, recommended by saints and the traditions of the Church, may be a “last resort”; but still offers us the best hope for the defeat of the subtle moves of a supremely evil Mastermind.

Editor’s note: The thirteenth century Romanesque German sculpture pictured above shows the “Devil Noting Down Man’s Sins.

Howard Kainz

By

Howard Kainz is professor emeritus at Marquette University. He is the author of several books, including Natural Law: an Introduction and Reexamination (2004), The Philosophy of Human Nature (2008), and The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (2010). Professor Kainz is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine.

  • “The Case of Medjugorje
    Another example of Satanic ingenuity”

    *Grabs a chair and bucket of popcorn.*

  • Joseph Shaw

    Another recent event of singular historical importance: the dedication, by two living popes, of the statue of the St Michael the Archangel and the consecration of the Vatican to his protection.

    http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/07/05/benedict_xvi_joins_pope_francis_in_consecrating_vatican_to_st_michael/en1-707709

    • Objectivetruth

      Several years ago, archdioceses in the United States starting designated at least one priest as their Exorcist, due to the growing accounts of demonic possession. With the high divorce rate in the US over the last 40 years and out of wedlock births, and abortion this has destroyed the family, giving satan a huge opening. I believe those possessed are a product of this destruction. The family mirrors the Trinity, and satan must love nothing more than an attack on the Trinity through the family.

  • Objectivetruth

    Great article, Howard. Sobering, but spot on. I once read that the reality is the devil is near us at all times, 24/7/365, watching us and learning our weaknesses. I believe he flees temporarily when I devoutly and humbly pray the rosary, or enter the confessional. But he always comes back with reinforcements. This battle will be waged until our last breadth.

    • TERRY

      Completely agree, especially the last sentence, and anyone who doesn’t realize it is in big trouble. It is said that the smartest thing the devil ever did was to convince people that he doesn’t exist.

      “Cast into hell satan and the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

      Say the St. Michael prayer frequently during the day.

      • April Spring

        Our nation is lost and confused but cry no more because the Springtime is here!

        Come Join the Magnificent Revolution!:

        http://www.treeoflifetheology.org

    • Ford Oxaal

      St. Faustina had an interesting description of the demons in her diary — something to the effect that if you could see them, there would be shadows everywhere.

      • cpsho

        Sr Faustina’s devotion? Don’t get me started; it’s a disaster.
        http://www.iconicjesus.org

        • Ford Oxaal

          I really don’t have any reason or inclination to doubt the unfolding of salvation through the Roman Catholic Church — not even your web link was able to persuade me otherwise. Do you have the same concerns about, say, the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion, or Our Lady of Fatima, etc.? Do you think Pope John Paul II was an anti-pope, etc.?

          • cpsho

            Sr Faustina’s Diary 312: +Once when I went outside the convent to go to
            confession [St. Michael’s Church], I chanced upon my confessor [Father
            Sopocko] saying Mass just then. After a while, I saw the Child Jesus on
            the altar, joyfully and playfully holding out His hands to him. * But a
            moment later the priest took the beautiful Child into his hands, broke
            Him up and ate Him alive.* At the first instant I felt a dislike for
            the priest for having done this to Jesus, but I was immediately
            enlightened in the matter and understood that this priest was very
            pleasing to God.

            .

            Is this testimony of a catholic saint? Any precedents in 2000year
            history of the RCC, of a vision of a priest eating the Baby Jesus alive?

            .

            There is more to this devotion than meets the eye.

            http://iconicjesus.org/home/category/objections-to-devotion-revealed-to-sr-faustina/

            • Ford Oxaal

              This is consistent with the Roman Catholic teaching that the Holy Eucharist makes present the sacrifice of the cross — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a human sacrifice — somebody is dying in a most gruesome way. Guess who that somebody is. You can try to hide from the reality of the Eucharist, but St. Faustina was allowed to see beneath the appearances of the bread and wine and come closer to the eternal reality.

              • cpsho

                The only person i know trying to devour a baby alive is this:
                “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; 5 she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne” (cf Revelation 12 v 4-5)
                .
                We must not allow Satan to pull wool over our eyes.

                • Ford Oxaal

                  The way to not allow Satan to pull the wool over your eyes is to stick to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. But if you insist on sola scriptura, let’s look at the Gospels. Scripture, including your quote, has to be understood in the context of the Gospels. The following link explains it very well. http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/scrip/a6.html : But when Jesus insisted, Jn 6:53 “Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life.” the Jews who heard this said, Jn 6:60 “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” They remembered God’s command to Noah and all mankind, Gn 9:4 “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

                  • cpsho

                    But he never said devour a baby alive, did he?
                    .
                    Give me one precedent in 2000year church history of a catholic saint having a vision of a catholic devouring the Baby Jesus alive.

                    • cpsho

                      The devotion originally banned by the Vatican in 1959, was reactivated by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II); the devotion was groomed by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II); the devotion was promoted by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II); the devotion was propagated and glorified by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II).
                      http://iconicjesus.org/home/category/conclusion-a-counterfeit-image/

                    • Ford Oxaal

                      Are you saying the Baby Jesus has no soul or divinity? When you take communion, you are eating the Body, Blood (no age is specified), Soul, and Divinity. Are you saying that there is a particular age of Christ associated with the Eucharist, or that you are eating the dead Jesus after the Deposition?

                    • cpsho

                      4.Throughout the record of her diaries we see a number of priests doubting
                      the source of her visions including Fr. Bukowski (Diary 643). Sr.
                      Faustina herself in Diary 1787 is clearly unsure and confused about the
                      source of the apparitions.Interestingly enough the instruments used by renown mystics like St
                      Theresa of Avila are never mentioned as having been applied by Sr.
                      Faustina to help her to determine the type of spirit she was communing with.
                      http://iconicjesus.org/home/category/objections-to-image-revealed-to-sr-faustina/

                    • Ford Oxaal

                      What does that have to do with consuming the *living* Flesh of Christ? I already read the diary. It is an incredible display of the heroic.

                    • cpsho

                      Lord Jesus help us! Open the eyes of your people that they may see!

                    • Ford Oxaal

                      My take away: “Lord Jesus help us! Open the eyes of your people that they may see [my goofy website]!”

                    • cpsho

                      goofy website?
                      “You said it.”

  • Ford Oxaal

    Satan is like a blow fish, but when the air is let out, it is pathetic. Satan may have a greater intellect, perhaps with complete recall going back to the creation, but his will is diminished as it is not united to God’s will. Human will, united to God’s will, is more powerful than the will of Satan. We can command Satan in the name of Jesus Christ, and exorcists can triumph over his activities. The Saint Michael prayer is an effective weapon to add to your family dinner blessing, and of course the daily family rosary is to Satan like pouring water is to the wicked witch in oz.

  • “Liberal pastors preaching indiscriminate inclusiveness hope to stem the tide, but their congregations are diminishing before their eyes.”

    Hombre, are you listening?

    • Objectivetruth

      ….and their congregations are being told by their mushy spiritual leaders that sin just doesn’t matter anymore, and receive carte blanche to contracept, fornicate, divorce, abort, marry their pet golden retriever……

    • tamsin

      I’m amused by the choice of illustration for this article – “Devil
      Noting Down Man’s Sins” – as it oddly captures the mindset that only the Devil takes
      note of our sins, because to note sins is devilish and destructive and will
      drive people away from the Church.

      • Interesting point indeed.

        The great attraction of Christianity, that separates it from *all* other religions (and separates, I would argue, authentic mainstream Christianity from some of the stranger Protestant sects) is the concept of forgiveness.

        So yes. The proper way to be inclusive is through the Sacrament of Confession, with its penance. Not ignoring sin, but healing it instead.

        • Ford Oxaal

          Exactly — Christianity has value-add over all other religions: mercy, forgiveness, breaking the wheel of karma. Penance, humility, reparation, healing…

  • leoni bernard

    How can you possibly compare SSPX to Medjugorge, to simply make a point.

    • SebastianVenier

      I was very impressed – frightened, too – by this analysis until I came upon that low blow. It is a fine example of a single misplaced smear can discredit an entire work.

    • Romulus

      Good point. SSPX is canonically irregular, triggered by good faith disagreements on points of Vatican II open to thoughtful examination and clarification. The Church is right to desire and seek reconciliation with SSPX. Medj is just a fraud and should be rejected in toto.

      Altogether different.

      • SeraphicFather

        another word for canonically irregular is apostacy….

        • Romulus

          “Apostasy” (note the spelling) is a harsh word, isn’t it? It means abandonment of the faith, in case you don’t know. I don’t see how it can be applied to a group not even in schism, as the Vatican has certified. Would you refer thus to our Orthodox brothers and sisters, estranged from us by a real schism?

  • Samuel Dominguez

    “……other Catholic cults………like SSPX”?
    Sorry, I couldn’t take your article seriously from that point.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      SSPX always puts me in mind of Cardinal Manning’s description of the Anglican Ritualists, “Ritualism is private judgment in gorgeous raiment, wrought about with divers colours.” – Satan transformed into an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14)

      • slainte

        Rituals and vested priests in “divers colours” have always been an important part of the tradition of the Catholic Church in our worship of Our Lord Jesus Christ…was Cardinal Manning condemning that part of Catholic tradition as well?

        • Samuel Dominguez

          “Do we not say well that though art an Anglican Ritualist and thought hast a devil?”

          • Samuel Dominguez

            Should be “thou”……hate these phones sometimes!

            • John200

              Maybe you’ll like the phone better when it tells you about “thought hast a devil.” Or edit, which is allowed on this site.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          No. He says, “every fringe in an elaborate cope worn without authority is only a distinct and separate act of private judgment; the more elaborate, the less Catholic.”

          • slainte

            The call to obey Catholic Authority as reinforced by Cardinal Manning also compels a Catholic to accept and obey as true the totality of Pope Pius X’s “Pascendi Dominici Gregis”, an encyclical inspired by the Holy Spirit.
            .
            One’s claim to avoid obedience by attempting to gutt the factual veracity of an underlying material assumption…that modernism and modernists did and do exist…is the sort of error you attribute to the SSPX.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Slainté

              As Bl John Henry Newman says of the Pope, “ He has no wider prerogative than a Council, and of a Council Perrone says, “Councils are not infallible in the reasons by which they are led, or on which they rely, in making their definition, nor in matters which relate to persons, nor to physical matters which have no necessary connexion with dogma.” Præl. Theol. t. 2, p. 492. Thus, if a Council has condemned a work of Origen or Theodoret, it did not in so condemning go beyond the work itself; it did not touch the persons of either. Since this holds of a Council, it also holds in the case of the Pope; therefore, supposing a Pope has quoted the so called works of the Areopagite as if really genuine, there is no call on us to believe him; nor again, if he condemned Galileo’s Copernicanism, unless the earth’s immobility has a “necessary connexion with some dogmatic truth,” which the present bearing of the Holy See towards that philosophy virtually denies.”

              “[N]ot infallible in the reasons by which they are led, or on which they rely, in making their definition” would appear to meet your objection.

              • slainte

                Then papal encyclicals are fallible and are not to be relied upon as inspired Truth?
                .
                Should we arbitrarily pick and choose truth from among those encyclicals which suit our whim and reject those which run contrary to our subjective sensibilities.
                .
                I suppose the errant bishops and clerics who participated in the Canadian “Winnipeg Statement” revolt against Pope Paul VI by their rejection of his teachings in “Humanae Vitae” would heartily agree that we should reject any papal teaching contained in an encyclical with which we personally disagree.
                .
                Oh my, such hubris these pompous imposter prelates exhibited!
                .
                Recall that it was upon Peter that Our Lord built His Catholic Church.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  Slainté wrote, “Then papal encyclicals are fallible and are not to be relied upon as inspired Truth? “

                  Encyclicals are not “inspired” “Inspiration ended with the last of the apostles. Papal and conciliar pronouncements are indeed infallible in their solemn definitions of faith and morals; they are not infallible, still less inspired, in the reasons they give for their decisions, or in purely collateral matters.

                  Speaking of Vatican I, Bl John Henry Newman observes, “Nor is a Council infallible, even in the prefaces and introductions to its definitions. There are theologians of name, as Tournely and Amort who contend that even those most instructive capitula passed in the Tridentine Council, from which the Canons with anathemas are drawn up, are not portions of the Church’s infallible teaching; and the parallel introductions prefixed to the Vatican anathemas have an authority not greater nor less than that of those capitula” This is a distinction overlooked by many traditional Catholics who appeal to Unam Santam of Boniface VIII.

                  With the truly inspired words of scripture, it is quite otherwise. St John is inspired to think of the Incarnation under the figure of a word of power, clothing itself in flesh and blood. But, along with the figurative description – a metaphor – does not God breath into him the substance and act of the Incarnation? Is not God’s Incarnation operative n the members, as well as in the Head, in John, as well as in the manhood of Jesus Christ? Does not John exercise supernatural virtue? Does he not pray in the heart of Jesus Christ? Is not his charity carried and moved by Christ? And, if so, can he not refer the figurative description of the Incarnation to the experienced act of the Incarnation and judge the adequacy of the expression, by his awareness of the thing experienced?

                  If a lion could talk,” say Wittgenstein, “we could not understand him.” Thus, we may hear and read the verbal declaration of divine truth for years and not apprehend the thing signified. Then, the least kindling of supernatural charity, the slightest uplifting of the heart to God, is interpreted by faith as the extension of God’s Incarnation, the indwelling of the Godhead in the Person of the Holy Ghost, the effect of an eternal predestination and the beginning of our everlasting divinisation.

                  • Slainte

                    MPS,
                    .
                    Then what or whom is the source of inspiration (generally defined) of a papal encyclical which guides Christ’s bride on issues of faith and morals…if not the power of Her Head, Christ, acting through and under the office of Peter, the recipient of the Keys?
                    .
                    Does one really aspire to parse a papal encyclical to subjectively determine which parts should be retained and which parts cast off?
                    .
                    By what authority does a Cardinal such as Bl. Newman, acting alone, seek to set limits on what parts of an encyclical should be relied upon as infallible and which rejected?

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Slainté

                      Bl John Henry Newman is following the common teaching of theologians, a number of whom he names. Their teaching is no more than a logical deduction from the principle that general councils and popes are infallible in their definitions in matters of faith and morals, but not in other matters.

                      Popes and councils are not inspired, as the apostles were; infallibility is purely negative, a guarantee that they will not teach error in their solemn judgments. “Never,” says Perrone, “have Catholics taught that the gift of infallibility is given by God to the Church after the manner of inspiration.” Again: “[Human] media of arriving at the truth are excluded neither by a Council’s nor by a Pope’s infallibility, for God has promised it, not by way of an infused” or habitual “gift, but by the way of assistentia.”

                    • Slainte

                      But Peter and subsequently the office of the pope continue to hold the keys given by Our Lord and thus the authority to guide His bride, the Church. While the manner of conveying Christ’s authority in faith and morals may differ from the direct inspiration provided by the Holy Spirit in the formation of the Gospels and Revelation, Christ’s authority resting with the office of Pope should not be so easily discounted.
                      .
                      If Blessed Newman’s assertions were derived merely from the opinions of theologians and by his or their deductive reasoning, then neither rise to the level of a binding authority or an infallible teaching of the pope or council. Their parsing should be considered as informative but not binding.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Slainté

                      They can be deduced from Pastor Æternus itself, which defines the nature and scope of infallible pronouncements.

                      We must also take account of history. “Was St. Peter infallible on that occasion at Antioch when St. Paul withstood him? Was St. Victor infallible when he separated from his communion the Asiatic Churches? Or Liberius when in like manner he excommunicated Athanasius? And, to come to later times, was Gregory XIII., when he had a medal struck in honour of the Bartholomew massacre? Or Paul IV in his conduct towards Elizabeth? Or Sextus V. when he blessed the Armada? Or Urban VIII when he persecuted Galileo? No Catholic ever pretends that these Popes were infallible in these acts.”

  • tamsin

    “Five First Saturdays” sounds like a great “call to action” made by the very first “voice of the faithful”. I will try it.

  • Watosh

    Does the SSPX dispute or challenge or refuse to accept any of the teachings of Revelation or any dogma the Catholic Church claims consists of unchangeable truths? Various bishops and Cardinals of the Church have made heretical statements and are considered to be in good standing. No member of the SSPX has made any heretical statements, yet they are regarded as not Catholic like the heretical Catholics that are found in the Church today. In fact the reason for the treatment given the SSPX is that they were too faithful, too obedient to the basic traditional teachings of the Church, and did not go along with the changes resulting from various interpretations of Vatican II, which even the adherents of Vatican II have to admit contained a lot of ambiguous statements. Yes the founder of the SSPX disobeyed the Pope, but he said that a state of necessity existed. Looking at the statistics it appears that their are grounds for believing a state of necessity exists. Recall St. Athanasius during the Arian heresy which influenced the Popes and Bishops of that times to the point where St. Athanasius was banished and had to flee Rome. Then there is the statement by St. Paul admonishing Catholics not to believe even an angel from heaven if the angel taught something other than what St. Paul was passing on.

    The situation with the SSPX is now officially that it is in irregular communion with the Church. I do find it odd that when the Pope and Vatican officials cordially greets and publicly welcomes a variety of non-Catholic, heretical sects and praises them and even prays with them, but then has no time for the SSPX. Think what you will of the SSPX, but doesn’t this appear rather odd.

    Now I am no expert of Canon Law or the workings of the Vatican, all I know is that the SSPX is hated by most of the world, those that warmly embrace our recent Popes and issue joint statements glossing over and minimizing disagreements of the past, are intolerant of the SSPX as are our Jewish brothers are quite incensed over the SSPX, now I argue any group denounced by the world, by the Jewish leaders and AIPAC, and by the various protestant sects, must be doing something right. Christ himself advised the apostles that the world would hate them as it hated Christ Himself, as I recall. I am retaining an open mind on this very unfortunate situation. Things may be clearer after a few hundred years, and I will refrain from calling names and pointing fingers at the SSPX until then.

    • Howard Kainz

      The SSPX is a model of strict adherence to the Council of Trent, but, as you say, is officially disobedient to the Pope. The Council of Trent in the 16th century should not be the ultimate “litmus test” for a faithful Catholic.

      • slainte

        The Council of Trent merely codified the ancient and already-existing beliefs and worship practices of the Catholic Church in response to the errors and misrepresentations promulgated by the protestant reformers during the Reformation.
        .
        As the Catholic Faith is unchanging Truth, one who lives the faith according to the time honored precepts of the Council of Trent is a true and faithful Catholic…notwithstanding that dissenting modernists within the Church today may claim otherwise.

        • Watosh

          This is also my view with regard to Mr. Kainz’s reply to my comment above, that the Catholic Faith is unchanging truth, because if this is not so, then we have no mooring.

          When Mr. Kainz tells us that “The Council of Trent in the 16th century should not be the ‘ultimate litmus’ test for a faithful Catholic,’ this raises the question of what should be the ultimate litmus test then for a faithful Catholic? Should it be the latest council? Why should that be if the latest council doesn’t really change any truths. Should the ultimate litmus test be whatever the Pope decides? Again Popes used to take an oath to preserve all Catholic teaching handed down to them. Was this a mistake made by the early Church.

          These questions should not be swept under the rug. Some deeper issues need to be addressed here and need to be resolved by, dare I say, “dialogue.”

          • Ford Oxaal

            For Archbishop LeFebvre, it all came down to a single sentence in the VII documents on religious liberty, which like all those documents, require interpretation under the teaching authority because they are not expressed in terms of black letter law and anathemas and such. And in the end, he saw himself as the only sane one left with any power, which got weird. Many of those priests went over to the FSSP. So in the big picture, maybe yes, the windows of the Church were opened, the laity jumped out of them, and the wolves came in through them, but over time, the true Church sort of crouched down, and the copycat parasitic pseudo-religions found themselves completely underwater.

            • Watosh

              Well I believe the issue of religious liberty as described in Vatican Ii documents was not the only issue that led Archbishop LeFebvre to disobey the Pope and consecrate four Bishops. There was the banning of the traditional Mass of all time, for one thing.
              While interpretation of documents does come under the teaching authority of the Catholic church, past Council documents and Papal Encyclicals generally were stated rather clearly and did not require much interpretation. I had no trouble understanding Papal Encylicals by pre Vatican Ii Popes (I’m sorry if this represents a divisive statement on my part, but it is the truth.) Ambiguous statements have an inherent defect. Pope Benedict XVI kept insisting that Vatican II statements be interpreted in the “hermeneutic of continuity” which in itself is open to to a lot of different meanings. I realize not everything in this world is black or white, but the truth should be unequivocal, otherwise how else can it be identified as “truth.”

              • Ford Oxaal

                “how else can it be identified as “truth”” — that’s the good news — let the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Word, do that for you in patience and obedience, as you have been doing (the deposit of faith is whole and complete, but the revelation of it unfolds over time through the teaching authority).

                • Watosh

                  You say ?the deposit of faith whole and complete, but the revelation of it unfolds over time through the teaching authority.” This sounds reasonable, except when I think about it, if something unfolds over time then it sounds like it was not whole and complete before the unfolding had been completed.. I mean before it was fully unfolded over time, I wouldn’t call it whole and complete according to my understanding of being whole and complete.

                  I am not trying to be picky, but I am just a country boy. I know that the church has always been against allowing divorce for married couples. No question about that teaching. However suddenly the Catholic Church in America began issuing annulments by the thousands. Enemies of the church laughingly referred to it as Catholic divorce. This is not to argue that granting an annulment is wrong. But I know of cases where the couple had been married for some time in which numerous children were born. It seemed to be that if a couple wished to get an annulment that was evidence that they were not sufficiently mature when they gave their consent to be married. I have heard some say that an annulment was justified because one or both parties was not sufficiently mature at the time, or that they knew fully what they were doing. (As if most people getting married knew fully what they were doing at the time they exchanged vows, I am not sure I did). What I am getting at is that sometimes people will try to get around some awkward situation by rationalizing when reasoning won’t support it. And since I have been taught Revelation ended with the death of the apostles (I may not have the exact time, anyway it was very long ago), I get suspicious when I hear talk of the unfolding of revelation over time.

                  • Ford Oxaal

                    The Creed is the same, the Our Father is the same, etc., but there is a war going on! God wants us to live His truth in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. “But man He made to serve Him wittily in the tangle of his mind” as says St. Thomas More. The Church, for example, must fence off heresy over time. All the attacks that men and demons devise must be thwarted. So we have the anathemas and the Denziger catalog thereof (its online and fascinating). The Church has power (keys). Power, for example, to rewrite eternity through forgiving sin — confessed sins are ultimately eliminated from existence (I think…). It must dispense its power in justice, and mercy, etc., through an institution run by people. The miracle of the Catholic Church is it is run by the lunatics in the asylum. A twelve year old Pope sold the Chair of Peter for crying out loud, so we can all have a Rebel Yell Bourbon on the rocks and relax about the impending implosion of the Mystical Body of Christ! The Church continues to carry out its mission to baptize all nations, etc., and its doctrine remains true. Look at Humanae Vitae. It’s the only thing standing up for human dignity in the face of the modernist utilitarian progressives that want to murder their way to utopia. And yes, there are scandals and abuses, etc. As for the annulments, in a country of permanent adolescents, maybe there are a lot of invalid marriages. While I am with you in that I believe the annulments are an abuse, I also realize that the best thing I can do about it is instill in my family a sincere love for the Church, her liturgy, her doctrines, her traditions, and her devotions — like getting the family to accede to the wishes of Our Lady of Fatima and pray the daily family rosary in reparation for the crimes against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Catholic Church is armed to the teeth — we just have to lock and load. One Hail Mary well said is like jamming a flaming sword down the devil’s throat.

                    • Watosh

                      I am in agreement with what you say.

                      I agree that there have been scandals and abuses by some in the Church, and that I do not find this detracts from the authenticity of Church teaching. But as you say it does exist, Those in the Church are only human and subject to human foibles.

                      And since scandals and abuses do exist, I do not accept things that appear to be scandalous and abuses by anyone, again, as you readily admit that even a Pope can do bad things. A Pope is only protected from error only if certain conditions are observed. And above all a Pope must be in agreement with Catholic traditions, as that is, and has been the bedrock on which our faith and the Church rests. This is why I will blindly follow Catholic teaching but I will not blindly follow the Pope in every off the cuff pronouncement that he may make.

                      I mentioned annulments as an example of how even though Cjurch teaching of not permitting divorce did not change, in practice it appears to have changed. All of a sudden there is a huge surge in annulments in this country in particular. In sampling theory whenever one encounters a marked deviation from the norm it indicates a systemic cause is at work. I certainly agree with your observation that we have a large number of permanent adolescents in this country, but I find it difficult to attribute all the annulments to this cause. Besides I am not sure in my own mind how being a permanent adolescent is a valid grounds for an annulment. It might indicate that the marriage may not last, but maybe if the permanent adolescents knew they would not be able to get out of a hasty marriage, that might give them pause, and make them think about what they are doing. Now the church has all those planning on marriage must attend a long preparatory course on marriage. good thingI was married earlier, because my wife to be was here on a visitor’s visa from Iraq and we had to make a choice under severe time constraints. But we were both interested in a family and we were both Catholics, I gamboled on that and it worked out, we gad four children before she contracted breast cancer and died years ago.
                      But my point in bringing up annulments was simp;y to illustrate the danger of while teachings to do change practices can, or maybe in modern terminology, “praxis” can change teaching nevertheless. Anyway that is what concerns some of us. But now i am rambling though one of my critics might put it less charitably, but it is probably due to this age thing one encounters in time.

                    • Ford Oxaal

                      Thanks for your reply, and I am sorry to hear about your wife. Most interesting, and I am glad you are rambling. And yes we agree on the annulments. Marriage needs support not more undermining. If I were the dictator, it would be very difficult to get an annulment :). I’m sure I will encounter you again on these boards…

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    Watosh

                    Euclid died around 300 BC. The whole of Euclidian geometry is simply a logical deduction from his ten axioms. But it took a thousand years and the genius of the 16-year old Pascal to show in 1639 that Hexagrammum Mysticum Theorem was logically implicit in those ten axioms, without any new assumptions whatsoever. That is an example of the unfolding of something that was already “whole and complete” in the first page of the Elements.

                    Again, Bl John Henry Newman poses the question, “What is meant by knowing the Aristotelic philosophy? Does it mean that he has before his mind always every doctrinal statement, every sentiment, opinion, intellectual & moral tendency of Aristotle? This is impossible. Not Aristotle himself, no human mind, can have a host of thoughts present to it at once. The philosophy, as a system, is stored in the memory, deeply rooted there if you will, but still in the memory, and is brought out according to occasion. A learned Aristotelian, is one who can answer any philosophical questions whatever in the way that Aristotle would have answered them. If they are questions which could not occur in Aristotle’s age, he still answers them; and by two means, by the instinct which a thorough Aristotelic intellect, the habit set up in his mind, possesses; next, by never-swerving processes of ratiocination.”

                    So it is with the Church and the Deposit of Faith, for “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16)

                    • Watosh

                      Apparently then Euclid’s Geometry was not whole and complete when Euclid died. But at the same time no unfolding ever maintained that the sum of the angles in a plane triangle were totaled other than 180 degrees.

                      Aristotle was a deep thinker and his ideas based on reason, (not revelation which distinction is relevant). Nothing wrong about using one’s reason, I’ve been known to do that myself. Yes, it is reasonable to expect that his philosphy could be extended by later thinkers, or if you prefer his philosophical ideas could be unfolded over time. But was Aristotle’s philosophy “whole and complete?” I am no expert on
                      Aristotle or philosophy but I doubt if anyone would classify Aristotle’s philosophy was whole and complete. And I hope I didn’t imply that Catholic teaching could not undergo more development, as long as development or the unfolding did not change the teaching, in which case the teaching would still remain basically the same, it would remain whole and still be considered complete. That is to say development, has to occur within limitations of retaining the original essence. I believe Cardinal Newman has addressed this issue and the limitations involved in development. “Unfolding” is not a precise term, but as it was a term referenced in someone’s comment I meant to suggest that there is unfolding and there is “unfolding.” That is to say it has not been unknown for someone to radically change a Catholic teaching and claim he was only developing or unfolding the teaching. Coming up with a better or more precise explanation of a teaching does not change the wholeness or completeness of the teaching. Of course one could argue nothing is whole and complete if later on someone changed one sentence or thought.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Watosh

                      “Apparently then Euclid’s Geometry was not whole and complete when Euclid died….”

                      It was “whole and complete,” in the only sense that really matters; everything that came later was already there by necessary implication; new theorems merely draw out the implications, which, in principle, Euclid himself, or anyone else could have done at any time.

                      “[N]o unfolding ever maintained that the sum of the angles in a plane triangle were totaled other than 180 degrees.” Of course not; this is implicit in the 10th axiom (the parallel axiom) Now, one can choose a different parallel axiom and still produce as coherent geometry (as Bolyai and Lobachevski did), where the sum of the angles of a triangle will depend on its size (and where only congruent triangles will be similar). But it will be Non-Euclidian geometry. In other words, Euclid produced a complete, closed system, a different geometry to any other. The same is true of Aristotle’s system of philosophy. That is why Newman says “A learned Aristotelian, is one who can answer any philosophical questions whatever in the way that Aristotle would have answered them.” It, too, is “whole and complete.”

                    • Watosh

                      Of course. Of course. An acorn grows, develops, into an oak tree, but the Oakness is there throughout. But all this may have gotten us off track. I don’t believe the issue was what constitutes wholeness and completeness. What I was trying to suggest is that unfolding can sometimes be a cover for changing something into something else. I meant it just as a cautionary general observation, and not to define anything in rigorous terms, and that if something was wholesome and complete, then if something needed to be reversed or something entirely new introduced to it, then it would seem to indicate that it was not wholesome and complete, originally. I believe The Church considers that what has come down through Revelation and Apostolic tradition is wholesome and complete. but subject to being more precisely defined or better explained as time went on. I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong in this belief.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            “the Catholic Faith is unchanging truth, because if this is not so, then we have no mooring.”

            Then how do we answer the Assyrian Orthodox, who claim that Ephesus departed from the true faith and they alone preserve the Apostolic teaching. So do the Armenians, the Copts and the Ethiopians, who reject Chalcedon on the same grounds.

            To appeal to the Church of the past is to doubt the Church of the present. As Mgr Ronald Knox put it, “The fideles, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome… And in fact there can be little doubt that, in the West, our labelling of this party as orthodox and that as heterodox in early Church history comes down to us from authors who were applying this test of orthodoxy and no other.”

            • Watosh

              Well I am not sure that my statement that the Catholic church is unchanging truth justifies anyone else from claiming that their faith is the unchanging truth. Anyone can make that claim after all, but that doesn’t make their claim true. I am reminded of the old TV program where several people all claim to be the same person, and contestants are supposed to determine which one is telling the truth.

              Why the Assyrian Orthodox claim Ephesus departed from the true faith I don’t know off hand. The thing is that I have never seen evidence that traditional Catholic teaching deviated from the truth as revealed by the Gospels, and the traditions handed down by the apostles, so on that basis I have faith that catholic teaching is correct. That is to say I have never seen any critic of any traditional Catholic teaching to be right that some traditional Catholic teaching was wrong. Traditional Catholic teaching has always made sense to me, so i can’t answer the question as to what to tell the Assyrian Orthodox, but on the basis of that traditional Catholic teaching has always proven to be the truth, I am sure there is an answer to the Assyrian Orthodox claim. I trust the early Church fathers decision as to what was orthodox and what was heterodox. In any belief system there are statements that are considered orthodox and statements that are considered heterodox by virtue of their agreement with the belief system.

  • Craig

    Very good article-except for the jab at the FSSPX. To lump them with Old Catholics for questioning ~5% of Vatica II (or at least the outcomes from a non-doctrinal Council) is unjust.

    • Howard Kainz

      I could probably find ~5% of the Vatican II documents worth questioning, too. But that’s an issue for theological discussion, and no reason for rejecting the Council in toto, or for disobedience or disloyalty to the Pope.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      And the Old Catholics only reject a small part of Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus.

      • Art Deco

        I take it you haven’t been tracking the ‘evolution’ of the Union of Utrecht over many decades.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          The ultrajectines are a curious body, who morphed from an appellant Jansenist to a liberal Protestant communion.

  • rod masom

    This is certainly among the most brilliant and far-reaching analyses of our contemporary culture and it’s many severe problems that I’ve read yet. Truly brilliant, astounding even. I’m making a reprint of it as I type, and will use it as among the most hard-hitting explanations I’ve yet discovered. Especially the remarks about Medjugorje. Mr. Kainz, you’ve totally vindicated E. Michael Jones, who more than twenty years ago nailed this “apparition” as bogus. And you are to be congratulated for this piece. God Bless you, sir.

  • SeraphicFather

    Realizing that the Church has no official comment of the phenomenon of Medjugorje there is a tone of presumption on the comment about the apparitions being satanic. I would say that account does not take into the whole of the reality of it and the outcome in many peoples lives. Having seen one of the visionaries speak in this country what struck me was not merely how many turned out for this talk but how many went to confession….there was about 4 hours of confessions associated with this talk at a Church in Texas! I would venture to say ‘Satan’ has experienced a significant amount of backfire to his mission as many have experienced conversion and renewal in their life in the church through this phenomenon…..

    • Lily Boraks

      The tone of presumption is uncalled for given that the Holy See has not rejected nor accepted the events at
      Medjugorje. I doubt that the devil is luring people to prayer and conversions.
      There were those who questioned the jurisdiction of Our Blessed Mother to
      attack evil at Lourdes and Fatima.
      Vatican officials were initially dubious about the
      authenticity of the Fatima apparitions, which started in
      1917. The apparitions were finally declared worthy of belief by the
      Catholic Church in 1930. Communism had a deep hold on Bosnia Herzegovina
      in 1981, when the Medjugorje apparitions started. The Bishop of Mostar at that
      time was passionately opposed to any mention of Marian visions. Nothing has
      changed. The bishops of Mostar, including Bishop Zanic, (both during communism
      & afterwards) have a right to their own opinion. We are told to wait
      respectfully while Rome ponders
      Medjugorje. We are not told to attack.

      • Jake Forrester

        And the author states: ” The ultimate triumph for the devil would be to receive approval from the Church.” Apparently we are to listen to the author’s opinion on this matter, even if it diverges from what the Church says.

  • Howard Kainz

    Regarding St. Faustina: Some of the discussion here has been a bit “off topic,” about Faustina’s vision of a priest consuming the Eucharist and seeing the baby Jesus in the Eucharist. Haven’t you heard your mother, or grandmother, or aunt, or cousin say about a little baby, “he’s so cute I could eat him.” This expression is so common that it has given rise to scientific studies. One theory is that it has to do with the scent of newborn babies. In any case, strange as it seems, it’s always a spontaneous expression of affection for the little one. No cannibalism, nothing diabolical.

    • Ford Oxaal

      That’s an interesting take. It is quite interesting to read about the theories on this, which are food for thought, ha ha — that the Eucharist includes the glorified body and blood — that the Eucharist is under the appearance or accidental forms of bread and wine, — that old covenant proscription does not apply — and here enters Scott Hahn, who has a different take… He goes in the “yeah, it’s a form of cannibalism that is good” direction which is interesting. Thanks for your article — my take away is to reinforce our efforts to say the family Rosary, so thank you!

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