This is a Test


I WOKE up this morning with these words impressed on my mind: This is a Test. And then, something like this followed…



If you have lost your peace over anything happening in the Church today, you are failing the test…

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer. — Joseph Scriven from the Hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

If you say that Pope Francis is destroying the Church, you are failing the test…

I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church… (Matt 16:18)

If you say that the Amazonian Synod will destroy the Church, you are failing the test…

I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18)

If you say that Pope Francis is a closet Communist, Freemason, or nefarious implant and is intentionally trying to ruin the Church, you are failing the test…

He becomes guilty: of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor… of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2477

If you declare that Pope Francis is a heretic, you are failing the test…

No. This Pope is orthodox, that is, doctrinally sound in the Catholic sense. But it is his task to bring the Church together in truth, and it would be dangerous if he were to succumb to the temptation of pitting the camp that boasts of its progressivism, against the rest of the Church… —Cardinal Gerhard Müller, “Als hätte Gott selbst gesprochen”, Der Spiegel, Feb. 16, 2019, p. 50

If you say you are going to fight against the Pope, you are failing the test…

The truth is that the Church is represented on earth by the Vicar of Christ, that is by the pope. And whoever is against the pope is, ipso facto, outside the Church. —Cardinal Robert Sarah, Corriere della Sera, October 7th, 2019;

If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? — St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, “On the Unity of the Catholic Church”, n. 4;  The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1, pp. 220-221

If you say you can follow the “true Church” but reject the validity of the present holder of the papal office, you are failing the test…

…no one can excuse himself, saying: ‘ I do not rebel against the holy Church, but only against the sins of evil pastors.’ Such a man, lifting his mind against his leader and blinded by self-love, does not see the truth, though indeed he really sees it well enough, but pretends not to, in order to deaden the sting of conscience. For he sees that, in truth, he is persecuting the Blood, and not Its servants. The insult is done to Me, just as the reverence was My due.” To whom did He leave the keys of this Blood? To the glorious Apostle Peter, and to all his successors who are or shall be till the Day of Judgment, all of them having the same authority which Peter had, which is not diminished by any defect of their own. —St. Catherine of Siena, from the Book of Dialogues

They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth.  —POPE PIUS XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ), June 29, 1943; n. 41;

If you say that Benedict XVI is the “real” pope, you are failing the test…

There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry. The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision. Speculations regarding its validity are simply absurd… [My] last and final job [is] to support [Pope Francis’] pontificate with prayer. —POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI, Vatican City, Feb. 26th, 2014;

If you declare that Benedict is the victim of “blackmail and conspiracy,” you are failing the test…

That’s all complete nonsense. No, it’s actually a straight-forward matter… no one has tried to blackmail me. If that had been attempted I would not have gone since you are not permitted to leave because you’re under pressure. It’s also not the case that I would have bartered or whatever. On the contrary, the moment had—thanks be to God—a sense of having overcome the difficulties and a mood of peace. A mood in which one really could confidently pass the reins over to the next person.Benedict XVI, Last Testament in His Own Words, with Peter Seewald; p. 24 (Bloomsbury Publishing)

If you say that Benedict XVI only partially renounced the Petrine ministry in order to hold on to the Keys of the Kingdom, you are failing the test…

I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter. — BENEDICT XVI, February 27th, 2013; 

If you declare that Pope Francis is intentionally trying to mislead the faithful in order to change doctrine, you are failing the test…

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2478

If you say any just criticism of the Pope is sinful or that he has not made mistakes, you are failing the test…

A sincere and respectful expression of concern regarding matters of great theological and pastoral importance in the life of the Church today, addressed also to the Supreme Pontiff, is immediately squelched and cast in a negative light with defamatory reproaches of “sowing doubts”, of being “against the Pope”, or even of being “schismatic”…  —Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Anthanasius Schneider, Statement “A clarification about the meaning of fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff “, September 24th, 2019;

However, if you remain in communion with the Pope, work to help him through your prayer and respectful communication, and even offer “fililal correction” in the appropriate manner, you are passing the test…

We must help the Pope. We must stand with him just as we would stand with our own father. —Cardinal Sarah, May 16th, 2016, Letters from the Journal of Robert Moynihan

With our intervention, we, as shepherds of the flock, express our great love for souls, for the person of Pope Francis himself and for the divine gift of the Petrine Office. If we would not do this, we would commit a great sin of omission and of selfishness. For if we were silent, we would have a quieter life, and perhaps we would even receive honors and acknowledgments. However, if we would be silent, we would violate our conscience. —Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Anthanasius Schneider on the “general doctrinal confusion”; Ibid. September 24th, 2019;

If you realize that not everything the Pope says is infallible, you are passing the test…

The pope isn’t an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary, the ministry of the pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and His word. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily of May 8, 2005; San Diego Union-Tribune

…if you are troubled by some statements that Pope Francis has made in his recent interviews, it is not disloyalty, or a lack of Romanita to disagree with the details of some of the interviews which were given off-the-cuff. Naturally, if we disagree with the Holy Father, we do so with the deepest respect and humility, conscious that we may need to be corrected. However, papal interviews do not require either the assent of faith that is given to ex cathedra statements or that internal submission of mind and will that is given to those statements that are part of his non-infallible but authentic magisterium. —Fr. Tim Finigan, tutor in Sacramental Theology at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh; from The Hermeneutic of Community, “Assent and Papal Magisterium”, October 6th, 2013;

If you accept that the man who holds the office can sin, but that Christ has always protected the Office of Peter from ex cathedra errors, you are passing the test…

When we see this in the facts of history, we are not celebrating men but praising the Lord, who does not abandon the Church and who desired to manifest that he is the rock through Peter, the little stumbling stone: “flesh and blood” do not save, but the Lord saves through those who are flesh and blood. To deny this truth is not a plus of faith, not a plus of humility, but is to shrink from the humility that recognizes God as he is. Therefore the Petrine promise and its historical embodiment in Rome remain at the deepest level an ever-renewed motive for joy; the powers of hell will not prevail against it —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Called to Communion, Understanding the Church Today, Ignatius Press, p. 73-74

If you look to your own heart first and realize that not only Peter, but all of us can and do deny Christ, you are passing the test…

The post-Pentecost Peter… is that same Peter who, for fear of the Jews, belied his Christian freedom (Galatians 2 11–14); he is at once a rock and a stumbling-block. And has it not been thus throughout the history of the Church that the Pope, the successor of Peter, has been at once Petra and Skandalon—both the rock of God and a stumbling block? —POPE BENEDICT XIV, from Das neue Volk Gottes, p. 80ff

If you feel you cannot imitate the actions of the man occupying the Seat of Peter, but that you ought still to remain in submission to his magisterial teaching, you are passing the test…

without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” [when the successors of the apostles in communion with the Pope] propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals […] To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent”.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 892

Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him… I know very well that many defend themselves by boasting: “They are so corrupt, and work all manner of evil!” But God has commanded that, even if the priests, the pastors, and Christ-on-earth were incarnate devils, we be obedient and subject to them, not for their sakes, but for the sake of God, and out of obedience to Him. —St. Catherine of Siena, SCS, p. 201-202, p. 222, (quoted in Apostolic Digest, by Michael Malone, Book 5: “The Book of Obedience”, Chapter 1: “There is No Salvation Without Personal Submission to the Pope”)

If you acknowledge that Pope Francis has taught every major Catholic tenet (see Pope Francis On…) and encourages every Catholic to do likewise, you are passing the test…

Confess the Faith! All of it, not part of it! Safeguard this Faith, as it came to us, by way of Tradition: the whole Faith! —POPE FRANCIS,, January 10th, 2014

If you recognize that the Catholic faith is also dying in the West and that an antichurch is trying to rise in her place, you are passing the test…

Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith… —Cardinal Gerhard Müller, February 8th, 2019, Catholic News Agency

The spiritual crisis involves the entire world. But its source is in Europe. People in the West are guilty of rejecting God… The spiritual collapse thus has a very Western character. —Cardinal Robert Sarah, Catholic HeraldApril 5th, 2019

Western society is a society in which God is absent in the public sphere and has nothing left to offer it. And that is why it is a society in which the measure of humanity is increasingly lost. —EMERITUS POPE BENEDICT XVI, April 10th, 2019, Catholic News Agency

…an abstract, negative religion is being made into a tyrannical standard that everyone must follow.Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, p. 52

If you acknowledge that, despite the current crises we face, no man, not even a pope, can destroy Christ’s Church, you are passing the test…

Many forces have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful… She remains inexplicably solid… kingdoms, peoples, cultures, nations, ideologies, powers have passed, but the Church, founded on Christ, notwithstanding the many storms and our many sins, remains ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service; for the Church does not belong to popes, bishops, priests, nor the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ. —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, June 29th, 2015

Last, if you acknowledge that you can only play your part, that the Storm that is now upon is not beyond Christ’s power nor Divine Providence, and that the future of the Church is ultimately in His hands, you are passing the test…

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mar 4:38-39)

A man remains a Christian as long as he makes the effort to give the central assent, as long as he tries to utter the fundamental Yes of trust, even if he is unable to fit in or resolve many of the details. There will be moments in life when, in all kinds of gloom and darkness, faith falls back on the simple, ‘Yes, I believe you, Jesus of Nazareth; I believe that in you was revealed that divine purpose which allows me to live with confidence, tranquility, patience, and courage.’ As long as this core remains in place, a man is living by faith, even if for the moment he finds many of the details of faith obscure and impracticable. Let us repeat; at its core, faith is, not a system of knowledge, but trust. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from Faith and the Future, Ignatius Press




The Testing

The Testing – Part II


Mark is speaking in
Santa Barbara, California this weekend:



October 18, 19, and 20, 2019

John Labriola

Christine Watkins

Mark Mallett
Bishop Robert Barron

Saint Raphael’s Church Parish Center
5444 Hollister Ave, 
Santa Barbara,CA 93111

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