It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard. (First reading)
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)…he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. (Today’s Gospel)
[The Church] exists in order to evangelize… —POPE PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 14
Jesus did not enter the world to make people feel nice, but to save them from the fires of Hell, which is a real and everlasting state of eternal separation from God. In order to withdraw souls from the empire of Satan, Jesus taught and revealed the “truth that sets us free.” Truth, then, is intrinsically tied to human freedom, whereas Our Lord said that whoever sins, is a slave to sin. John 8:34 Put another way, if we do not know the truth, we risk being enslaved on a personal, corporate, national and international level.
In a nutshell, this is the story of the Book of Revelation, of the confrontation between a Woman and Dragon. The Dragon sets out to lead the world into slavery. How? By distorting the truth.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth… Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus… Then I saw a beast come out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads… They worshiped the dragon because it gave its authority to the beast. (Rev 12:9-13:4)
St. John writes that there is a great deception prior to the revelation of the Beast, of Antichrist, who personifies apostasy. cf. 2 Thess 2:3 And here is where we must pay attention to what has unfolded over the past four hundred years, to what the Holy Fathers themselves have referred to as “apostasy” and a “loss of the faith” (if you have not read it yet, I encourage you to reflect on the writing: Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting?). For someday, if not soon, the warnings are going to end; the words will cease; and the times of the prophets will give way to a “famine of the word.” cf. Amos 8:11 The Church is perhaps closer to this persecution than many realize. The pieces are nearly all in place. The spiritual-psychological climate is right; the geo-political upheaval has loosened the foundations; and the confusion and scandal in the Church have all but shipwrecked her.
There are three key signs today that we may be approaching the fulfillment of these chapters of the Book of Revelation.
MODERNISM AND THE GREAT SHIPWRECK
This week, as I drove into the countryside from the bustle of the city, I listened in to Canada’s state run radio, the CBC. Once again, as is their constant broadcast fare, another “religious” guest appeared on a show and proceeded to denounce Catholicism while readily providing his own “truth”. The interviewee was Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor who said he was Catholic. During the interview, he explained how he was at odds with pretty much all of the Catholic Church’s moral teachings that were being “imposed” by the hierarchy through their misuse of “power.” He claimed, in fact, that many bishops agree with him. The interviewer at last asked a very obvious question: “Why remain a Catholic and not attend another denomination?” Taylor explained that he remains a Catholic because of its sacramental nature, and that he just could not feel at home in other denominations without the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
Mr. Taylor got that part right. Drawn to the Wellspring of Grace, he senses the transcendent beyond the appearance. But like many self-professed Catholics throughout the Western World, he betrays an irreconcilable duality, an utter collapse of reason in his position. If he truly believes that the Eucharist is Jesus or somehow represents Him, then how can Mr. Taylor consume “the bread of life” who also said, “I am the truth”? John 14:16 Is the truth that Jesus taught really to be determined by opinion polls or what Mr. Taylor deems to be reasonable or how one “feels” about a moral issue? How can one receive the Eucharist, which is the very symbol of oneness in unity in Christ and with His Body, the Church, and remain completely disunified and at direct odds with the truth Christ and His Church teaches? Jesus promised that the Spirit of Truth would come and guide the Church into all truth. John 161:3
The Church… intends to continue to raise her voice in defense of mankind, even when policies of States and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Vatican, March 20, 2006
The great crisis in the Church today is that many have fallen for the ancient lie that we will arrive at our own understanding of reality, morality, and certainty apart from any legitimate authority. Indeed, the forbidden fruit is still tantalizing souls!
“God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” (Gen 3:5)
Yet, without a guarantor, a safeguard—the natural and moral law preserved through Sacred Tradition and the Holy Father—truth becomes relative, and indeed, humans begin to act like they are gods (destroying life, cloning it, intermingling it, destroying it some more… there is no end when truth is relative.) Modernism’s root is the ancient heresy of Agnosticism, which claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. It is the wide and easy road, and many are on it.
THE ADVANCING SCHISM
There is open rebellion among the clergy of Austria’s Catholic Church. One highly placed man of the cloth has even warned about the risk of a coming schism as significant numbers of priests are refusing obedience to the Pope and bishops for the first time in memory.
The 300-plus supporters of the so-called Priests’ Initiative have had enough of what they call the church’s “delaying” tactics, and they are advocating pushing ahead with policies that openly defy current practices. These include letting nonordained people lead religious services and deliver sermons; making communion available to divorced people who have remarried; allowing women to become priests and to take on important positions in the hierarchy; and letting priests carry out pastoral functions even if, in defiance of church rules, they have a wife and family. —A Clergy Rebellion Among Austria’s Catholic Church, TimeWorld, August 31, 2011
Stemming from the errors that Modernism has given birth to, such an approach to the teaching authority of the Church is often couched in intellectual terms and dubious logic that, for the weak in faith, shatter their wobbling foundations. It was for that reason that Pope Pius X issued a stern warning that the very foundations of the Church were being assaulted in what he calls these “latter days”:
One of the primary obligations assigned by Christ to the office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord’s flock is that of guarding with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and the gainsaying of knowledge falsely so called. There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body, for owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking “men speaking perverse things,” “vain talkers and seducers,” “erring and driving into error.” It must, however, be confessed that these latter days have witnessed a notable increase in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ. —POPE PIUS X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, n. 1, Sept. 8, 1907
When the priesthood begins to rebel against the Holy Father, clearly that is a sign that apostasy is upon us. As we look back over the decades since Piux X’s encyclical, it is clear that the faith has been shipwrecked in many souls through errant theology and lax leadership, such that the Church itself is what Pope Benedict described as “a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side.” Cardinal Ratzinger, March 24, 2005, Good Friday meditation on the Third Fall of Christ
The priests in the example above are likely the fruit of what took place in the seminary’s in the 1960’s and beyond. For today, the new men emerging in the cloth are faithful and zealous for Christ and His Church. They are probably, that is, the martyrs of tomorrow.
THE TURNING TIDE
Lastly, there is a visible turning of the tide against the Church that is happening at an astonishing pace. It is due in part to her crumbling credibility through her own faults, but also due to the hardening of hearts in our generation through a near wholesale embrace of materialism and hedonism, ie. rebellion.
World Youth Day provides a stunning example of how, just ten years ago, such an event was welcomed within nations as an honor. Today, as some openly seek to have the pope arrested, the Holy Father’s presence is increasingly being shunned. On the one hand, the Church has lost her credibility in the world because of the continuing revelations of sexual scandal among the priesthood.
As a result, the faith as such becomes unbelievable, and the Church can no longer present herself credibly as the herald of the Lord. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times: A Conversation With Peter Seewald, p. 23-25
On the other hand, the leadership of the Church in many places has lost its credibility within as many shepherds have remained silent, acquiesced to political correctness, or been outright disobedient to the teachings of the Church. The sheep have often been all but abandoned and as a result, trust in their shepherds has been wounded.
As I wrote in Perseuction! …and the Moral Tsunami, the Catholic Church’s position on sexual morality is becoming the dividing line that is increasingly separating the sheep from the goats, and may be the fuel that lights a formal persecution against her. For example, during the last presidential campaign, American politician Rick Santorum, a practicing Catholic, was accused of “bordering on bigotry” by CNN’s Piers Morgan because Santorum held that reason and the natural law excluded homosexual relationships from being moral. see video here It’s this kind of language from Piers (which is the actual intolerance and bigotry) that is becoming the norm throughout the world when referring to Catholics and their beliefs.
Another example is the recent move in Australia to change the nomenclature in school textbooks of BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) to BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era). cf. Chritianity Today, Sept. 3, 2011 The move in Europe to “forget” Christianity within its history is spreading throughout the world. How can one not call to mind the prophecy in Daniel whereby an “antichrist” rises to create a homogenous people by erasing the past?
The ten horns shall be ten kings rising out of that kingdom; another shall rise up after them, different from those before him, who shall lay low three kings. He shall speak against the Most High and wear down the holy ones of the Most High, intending to change the feast days and the law… Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and abandon their particular customs… Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast. (Daniel 7:25; 1 Macc 1:41; Rev 13:3)
THE PASSION OF THE PEACEMAKERS
True peace cannot come at the expense of truth. And the remnant Church will not betray He who is Truth. Thus, there will be a “final confrontation” between Truth and Darkness, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, the Church and the anti-church… the Woman and the Dragon.
St. Leo the Great understood that peace in the world—in our hearts—cannot be borne in falsehood:
Even the most intimate bonds of friendship and the closest affinity of minds cannot truly lay claim to this peace if they are not in agreement with the will of God. Alliances based on evil desires, covenants of crime and pacts of vice—all lie outside the scope of this peace. Love of the world cannot be reconciled with love of God, and the man who does not separate himself from the children of this generation cannot join the company of the sons of God. —Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV, p. 226
Thus, a wicked irony will play out in that the true peacemakers will be accused of being “terrorists of peace,” and dealt with accordingly. Nonetheless, they will be “blessed” indeed for their faithfulness to Christ and the truth. Hence, we are approaching the moment when, like our Head, the Church will be silenced. When the people would no longer listen to Jesus, the moment for His passion had come. When the world will no longer listen to the Church, then the moment of her passion will have come.
I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage—the courage—to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward. —POPE FRANCIS, First Homily, news.va
But we should neither lose heart nor be afraid, for it is precisely the Passion of Christ that became His glory and the seed of the Resurrection.
Thus even if the harmonious alignment of the stones should seem to be destroyed and fragmented and, as described in the twenty-first psalm, all the bones which go to make up Christ’s body should seem to be scattered by insidious attacks in persecutions or times of trouble, or by those who in days of persecution undermine the unity of the temple, nevertheless the temple will be rebuilt and the body will rise again on the third day, after the day of evil which threatens it and the day of consummation which follows. —St. Origen, Commentary on John, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV, p. 202
With my spiritual director’s permission, I share here another word from my diary…
My child, as the close of this season of summer is upon you, so too is the close of this season of the Church. Just as Jesus was fruitful throughout His ministry, there came a time when no one would listen to Him and He was abandoned. So too, no one will want to listen any further to the Church, and she will enter into a season whereby all that is not of Me will be brought to death so as to prepare her for a new springtime.
Proclaim this, child, for it has already been foretold. The glory of the Church is the glory of the Cross, as it was for the body of Jesus, so too will it be for His mystical Body.
The hour is upon you. See: when the leaves turn yellow, you know that winter is near. So too, when you see the yellow of cowardice in My Church, an unwillingness to remain steadfast in truth and spread my Gospel, then the season of pruning and burning and cleansing is upon you. Do not be afraid, for I will not harm the fruitful branches, but will tend them with the utmost care—even should I prune them—so that they will bear an abundance of good fruit. The Master does not destroy His vineyard, but makes her beautiful and fruitful.
The winds of change are blowing… listen, for the change of seasons is already here.
306.652.0033, ext. 223
THROUGH SORROW WITH CHRIST
A special evening of ministry with Mark
for those who have lost spouses.
7pm followed by supper.
St. Peter’s Catholic Church
Unity, SK, Canada
201-5th Ave. West
Contact Yvonne at 306.228.7435