ONCE again, the Mass readings today are blowing over my soul like a trumpet blast. In the Gospel, Jesus warns His listeners to pay attention to the signs of the times.
When you see a cloud rising in the west… and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? (Luke 12:56)
We should easily be able to interpret the “cloud rising in the west” at this hour: a spirit of division within the Church. But that spirit cannot do its work without the assistance first of a wind “blowing from the south”: the spirit of fear working against the clarion call of St. Paul in today’s first reading.
I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit. (Eph 4:1-4)
And that spirit of fear has a name: Suspicion.
In Hell Unleashed, I wrote about a dream of a faithful reader’s eldest daughter who has many spiritual gifts. Our Lady of Guadalupe allegedly appeared to her not long ago speaking of the different kinds of fallen angels that were coming upon the earth. The mother wrote me, recounting what Our Lady said to her daughter…
…that the demon coming is larger and fiercer than all the others. That she is not to engage this demon nor listen to it. It was going to try to take over the world. This is a demon of fear. It was a fear that my daughter said was going to envelop everyone and everything. Staying close to the Sacraments and Jesus and Mary are of the utmost importance.
What this girl heard appears to be an authentic encounter because we are witnessing fear literally explode over the entire Church—laymen and clergy alike—in the Catholic media, in the blogosphere, and also in the letters I receive (not to mention the fear that is gripping nations with Ebola, war drums, economic fragility etc.). And we all know that this fear is directed primarily at the seat of Peter, and the man who occupies it.
One letter I received encapsulates this spirit of Suspicion perfectly:
‘I want to say that people are right to be pondering things [regarding the Pope], because in these times we are told in the Book of Revelation that there will be a false prophet and religious leader. One can’t just go on with eyes closed. It is right to check, and just because one asks the question does not mean that they are showing a lack of faith or are wrong.’
Indeed, we need to “watch and pray” as Christ said, but we also need to ask the right questions. And herein is the lie that has been planted at the very summit of the Church: it is the question of whether or not Pope Francis will lead us, one way or another, into deception by changing Church teaching. Indeed, the whole underlying edifice of this demon of Suspicion is prophecy and the way it is being interpreted.
UNCOVERING THE DECEPTION
So here is the problem and the deception that I hope to quickly unmask: prophecy, no matter how reasonable it sounds, no matter how convinced you are that it’s true, cannot supercede the definitive Revelation of Jesus Christ, what we Catholics call “Sacred Tradition.”
It is not [so-called “private” revelations’] role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history… Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 67
There are some who are taking the words at La Salette that “Rome will become the seat of Antichrist,” or St. Malachy’s alleged prophecy, St. Francis of Assisi’s warning, cf. The Prophecy of St. Francis “Maria Divine Mercy’s” condemned prophecies cf. Bishop’s statement; see also a theological assessment by Dr. Mark Miravalle or the Protestant writers with their distorted theories, and interpreting them to say that Pope Francis could be an anti-pope. But since Francis is a validly elected pontiff, and therefore holding the “keys of the kingdom”, I have cited the Scriptures, the Catechism and other Magisterial statements repeating the sure teachings of our Catholic faith that are summarized in the words of Pope Innocent III:
The Lord publicly proclaimed it: ‘I’, he said, ‘have prayed for you Peter that your faith may not fail, and you, once being converted, must confirm your brothers’… For this reason the Faith of the Apostolic seat has never failed even during turbulent times, but has remained whole and unharmed, so that the privilege of Peter continues to be unshaken. —POPE INNOCENT III (1198-1216), Can a Pope be a Heretic? by Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, Oct. 20th, 2014
That is to say that if “Jesus” appeared to me today and said that Pope Francis is an antichrist, I would believe it to be Satan appearing as an “angel of light” before anything else. Because it would mean that the gates of hell have indeed prevailed against the rock and Christ’s Petrine promise to be false, the keys lost, and the Church apparently built on sand, soon to be swept away in the Storm.
So it is sad that despite the assurances of Pope Francis that he is a “son of the Church,” cf. Who Am I to Judge? despite his powerful speech at the Synod declaring that he would, as Pope, continue to act as…
… the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim…. —POPE FRANCIS, closing remarks on the Synod; Catholic News Agency, October 18th, 2014 (my emphasis)
…some Catholics continue to elevate private revelation, their own feelings, and their own theology above the authority of the Word of God and the successors of the Apostles to whom Christ said:
Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. (Luke 10:16)
So let us call a spade a spade: what really is happening here is that several Catholics simply don’t believe the Pope. They are suspicious.
AM I DECEIVING YOU?
Before I give some concrete ways to help defeat this spirit of fear, I have to address the fact that some feel I am only part of a greater deception. The accusations have, of course, overflowed to me suggesting that I am idolizing the Pope, turning a blind eye to his faults, overlooking his alleged liberal tendencies, etc. It is difficult for me to know how to reply…
On the one hand, I look over my shoulder at nearly a thousand writings I have published here that have not only defended the Catholic faith on every single tenet, but have also exposed the Masonic plan for a New World Order—and at risk to the safety of myself and my family. And I think how ridiculous these claims are that I have not noticed, or simply dismissed the loose interviews that the Pope has given or the curial appointments he’s made or the vagueness at times that seems to hang over his pontificate.
On the other hand, while many of these critics have only read news headlines and secular reports, I have read many of Francis’ homilies, studied his apostolic exhortation and encyclical letter, carefully researched his controversial statements in the media, and examined his moral stands as a Cardinal. And I can say without hestitation that most of his critics are wrong. I believe God has sent us this Pope to shake the entire Church, especially us so-called “conservatives” who are often asleep, or waging the culture war from a distance in our comfort zone rather than among the wounded and hurting. As I will explain in a new writing shortly called the Thin Line Between Mercy and Heresy, the path the Holy Father is taking us on is actually the same one Jesus walked that led to His own Passion. That too is a sign of the times. And clearly, Francis’ pastoral direction challenging us to a more authentic evangelization is having the same effect that Christ’s did: rousing indignation in those who cling to the letter of the law more than its fulfillment, which is love.
Let me repeat again what I said yesterday: if I preach a Gospel other than the Sacred Tradition that has been handed down through the ages, let me be accursed. But if I am accused of defending Pope Francis, praising his many sound words and defending the good I see, then yes—guilty as charged.
CASTING OUT THE SPIRIT OF SUSPICION
The first thing we need to recognize is that we are in a spiritual battle. We are wrestling at this hour with “principalities and powers”, and the modus operandi of the prince of darkness is deception. He is the “father of lies” whom we ask St. Michael the Archangel to protect us from, including this pernicious snare of Suspicion.
Part of the spiritual armour and defence against the “powers of the air” is to “gird your loins in truth.” cf. Eph 6:14 So once again, brothers and sisters, acquaint yourselves with the Scriptures and those Church teachings that explain the charism of infallibility and Christ’s protection over His Bride. And when St. Paul says “hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one,” Eph 6:16 that also means to hold up those things which are certainties of our faith, such as the Petrine promise of Christ and all that pertains to the “deposit of faith.”
Say to yourself, “Jesus promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. I believe it and stand on His Word.” Jesus also quoted Scripture to overcome the temptations that assailed Him in the desert.
The second thing we must do is pray more, talk less. How often has Our Lady appeared to the Church calling her to pray, pray, pray! Why? Because it is in prayer that we learn to hear the voice of the Shepherd, and thus, to discern what is the voice of truth. I must say too that there are many readers who have not been snared by these spirits of Suspicion and Division, and I believe the following reader gives a good explanation as to why:
My impression is that I have been protected from this lack of faith that we are seeing for several reasons: first, not due to any merit and virtue of my own; it is because I have consecrated myself many times over to Our Blessed Mother, and she is protecting and guiding me. Second, because I am faithful to prayer. I have experienced firsthand how absolutely vital a discipline of prayer is, and quite frankly, how rare it is for people to live a serious, disciplined prayer life. I think that many orthodox, devout people simply do not pray much. I also think that those who are falling away so quickly have not asked the Lord’s opinion and guidance in prayer, or they are not experienced in listening to Him. He truly answers every question, and He does so in a beautiful way. But if they are too busy panicking, judging, hardening their hearts, and otherwise freaking out — guess what, they miss it. And if they cut themselves off from the Sacraments, well they have just played right into the hands of the evil one. God help us.
Indeed, another reader said some of her family has left the Church to join a schismatic group after the conclusion of last week’s Synod.
My brother or sister, if you too are being suspicious in this regard, ask yourself the question: “Am I spending more time amassing “evidence” against the Pope, or praying for him?” Because that is not the way of St. Paul who calls us, rather, to strive to understand one another, to assume the best of one another, to listen to each other, and to even correct one another when we fall—not slander or destroy the other. In this way, we will remain united in spirit, which is essential in this hour of division.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
- Can a Pope be a heretic? by theologian Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi
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