Things I Didn’t Know

English: Pope John XXIII at Porto Viro (Rovigo...

English: Pope John XXIII at Porto Viro (Rovigo, Italy) Italiano: papa Giovanni XXIII a Porto Viro (Rovigo) Français : Le Pape Jean XXIII à Porto Viro (Rovigo, Italie) Español: El Papa Juan XXIII en Porto Viro (Rovigo, Italia) Português: Papa João XXIII em Porto Viro (Rovigo, Itália) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like a good many of you, I really enjoyed Jess’ article on Sunday about the two Popes who were made Saints. As i said somewhere in a comment, I don’t remember Pope John XXIII all that well, I was too young to be all that interested, and in honesty, in those days the Catholic Church wasn’t interested in talking to the rest of us. Pole John XXIII had a good deal to do with ending that, but he did some other things as well that bordered , in human terms, on the heroic as well. Yesterday, Jonathon S. Tobin writing in Commentary Magazine told us about some of them. Here’s an excerpt

Two Righteous Men Among the Nations

[…]

That stand by itself would have secured John Paul’s place in history. But he also deserves enormous credit for transforming Catholic-Jewish relations. While some in the media took a cynical view of Pope Francis’s effort to highlight the similarities between John XXIII, who is viewed as the hero of church liberals, and John Paul II, who is depicted as the champion of conservatives, there is no question that they shared a common agenda when it came to revolutionizing relations between Catholics and Jews.

John XXIII is best remembered for his convening of the Second Vatican Council that led to changes in Church doctrine and practices. Most importantly for Jews, it ended the teaching of the deicide myth, effectively acquitting the Jewish people of a role in the killing of Jesus. He also ended the use of the word “perfidious” with respect to Jews in Catholic prayers. But even long before this important work, John XXIII earned the gratitude of the Jewish people for his role in saving many Jews from the Holocaust while serving as papal nuncio in Turkey and Greece. After the Shoah, while serving in the same capacity in France he refused orders not to return baptized Jewish children to their surviving parents. He is also believed to have helped influence Pope Pius XII to remain silent about the question of partition of Palestine thus making it easier for Catholic countries to vote for the creation of a Jewish state.

Pope John Paul II built on the good work of Pope John XXIII with regard to interfaith relations. He was the first pope to visit a synagogue as well as the one who finally recognized the State of Israel. His advocacy for treating Jews as brothers in faith rather than rivals or enemies marked a turning point for the relationship between the two faiths and in the way Catholics were educated by their church. Under his leadership, the church became a bulwark in the struggle against anti-Semitism in a manner that it had never before assumed. Just as important, his personal example of friendship with Jews with whom he had grown up in Poland and suffered under Nazi rule ended forever the notion of a natural antagonism between Catholics and Jews.

via Two Righteous Men Among the Nations « Commentary Magazine.

Cassandra over at Villainous Company has run across an article in Wapo which chronicles how difficult it is to live on $90K per year. Yeah. really!

Mortgaging Tomorrow to Pay for Today

The WaPo begins a long article about how the middle class can barely make ends meet with the sad tale of a couple who make almost twice the median income, yet had no money put away to replace a car with over 200K miles on it. Replacing it with a used car (we’re told) caused them not to be able to pay their electric bills:

The Johnsons both work, earning $90,000 between them, not a princely sum but one that places the couple squarely in the middle of household incomes for the Washington region. But for the Johnsons and many other American families, being middle class means living paycheck to paycheck.The couple’s retirement savings are meager. The college fund? Nonexistent.

We’re supposed to believe that this couple are living paycheck to paycheck because they don’t make enough money. But as their tale unfolds, a disturbing pattern emerges: they repeatedly spend money on “wants” and defer spending on “needs”:

One factor behind the financial squeeze is that the middle class’s expectations — a house, music and dance lessons for the kids, the latest in home entertainment — have stayed the same or increased even as costs have soared.

A while back, we wrote about how artificially cheap credit was crowding out household saving. Essentially, American families are deliberately choosing not to save, relying on loans to cover the growing gap between what they spend and what they earn. And contra the WaPo’s misleading assertions, wages aren’t really stagnant and the basic cost of living has actually gone down over time:

via Mortgaging Tomorrow to Pay for Today

Too bad nobody in America ever heard of saving money to buy those toys when you can afford it. I have a lot of sympathy for people who work hard for scut wages, for any reason, these fools, not so much. But they tend to drive the conversation on the left, because so many think it inhuman to actually think.

This may be some extraordinarily Good News, in both senses.

After traveling 250,000 miles through Dar al-Islam (“House of Islam”) as Muslims call their world, career missiologist David Garrison came to a startling conclusion:

Muslim background believers are leading Muslims to Christ in staggering numbers, but not in the West. They are doing this primarily in Muslim-majority nations almost completely under the radar—of everyone. In the new bookA Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ, Garrison takes the reader on his journey through what he describes as the nine rooms in the Muslim-majority world: Indo-Malaysia, East Africa, North Africa, Eastern South Asia, Western South Asia, Persia, Turkestan, West Africa, and the Arab world. Muslims in each of those regions have created indigenous, voluntary movements to Christ.

“What did God use to bring you to faith in Jesus Christ? Tell me your story.” This was the core question Garrison asked as he traveled and conducted more than 1,000 face-to-face interviews. In his background research, he documented 82 historic Muslim movements to Christ, consisting of either at least 1,000 baptisms or 100 new church starts over a two-decade period. The first sizable movement of Muslims toward Christianity did not occur until the mid-19th century, nearly 1,300 years after Mohammad established Islam. Garrison said 69 of these movements today are still in process:

via Why Muslims Are Becoming the Best Evangelists

And it’s apparently against the law now in the United Kingdom to quote Winston Churchill in public

I also note that this isn’t really all that much more strongly said that what former PM Tony Blair recently said to Bloomberg, which the link addresses.

It’s not clear that it wasn’t in a sense a publicity stunt but, it’s a legitimate WSC quote, from The River War which many of us have used. I also note that public mention of Drummer Lee Rigby, who was publicly murdered in Woolwich, is apparently either strongly discouraged, or forbidden.

A very sad state of affairs for the cousins.

via Powerline

 

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Saint John Paul II

pope-john-paul_resize

So, today we get that rare thing – two canonizations – John XXIII and John Paul II. A lot of hot air will be generated about Vatican II, child abuse and the whole business of having saints, but if we were looking here simply at the idea of a ‘great man’, then I don’t see how there would be any controversy over John Paul II. Great men don’t have to be perfect, indeed, no less an authority than Lord Acton once said that most great men were bad men; but John Paul II was one of a trio of great figures who helped end the Cold War – President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher being the other two.

We have had quite a bit here about the President and the Prime Minister, but less about the Pope. He was already Pope when I was born, and until is death, I knew no other, and I guess that he will always be the measure against which I will judge his successors.

Now we are on our third non-Italian Pope in succession, it is hard to remember the frisson of surprise when John Paul became Pope – the first non-Italian since the Middle Ages. He became Pope when the Cold War seemed an entrenched part of the world order; not one of those well-paid Kremlinologists or Sovietologists foresaw what was to come. Stalin had famously asked how many divisions the Pope had, meaning it as a symbol of worldly power and domination as against the Church which, in his view, had none. But the world was to see a lesson in the reality of power.

Not even the Kremlin could stop John Paul going to Poland, and once he did, the power that would end Soviet rule was unleashed – the power of people wanting to be free and believing that it could yet be possible. It was a long and a hard road for the Poles, but they did not let their hand drop from the plough or turn aside. Even the attempt to kill the Pope failed, and provided John Paul with a chance to show the true spirit of Christ in forgiving the would-be assassin.

The Soviet regime had no weapons which could prevail against this spirit. President Reagan and Mrs Thatcher matched them with the weapons of this world, and made it clear to the Soviets that they had the determination to resist them; but John Paul II brought something beyond that. Unbowed, himself, by the sufferings he had been through, knowing, from the experience, the nature of the Godless regime which faced Him, John Paul posited against it the Spirit of Hope that comes from Christ.

The spirit of freedom, once kindled, proved unextinguishable.

John Paul II is, like every great man, a figure about whom strong opinions are held. The secular media never quite understood him. They loved his charisma and his openness, but they could not understand how such a man could also abide faithfully by Catholic teaching on the things which this world wants. They almost seemed surprised that he would not approve of contraception, abortion and easy divorce; goodness, the Pope was a Catholic; we see it again now with Pope Francis.

But this was an essential part of John Paul II. He knew what the eternal verities were. Truth was the Risen Christ. There was no compromise with the kingdom of this world. Those who approved of his stand against communism could not, sometimes, understand his opposition to those elements of liberal capitalism which stood against the values of the Church He stood not for the age, but for all ages, and his values were not just those of his time, but for all time. He belongs to the ages now. All of us, Catholic or not, can stand back at this special moment and say: ‘There was a man!”

Catholicism, the Internet, and Freedom of Speech

The Hollow Men 5I’m going to conflate a few things today, for a purpose, which will be apparent.

First we have all seen the reports in the last few days that the Obama administration wishes to give up American control of the internet. In some ways it seems a reasonable thing to have it controlled by an international body, but is it? First it is a very American invention, by DARPA originally, but once it got loose it has been developed by everybody, and used by everybody. Like the prior American communication inventions, such as cellular telephony, television, movies, photography, the telephone, and the telegraph, it has made the world freer and more prosperous. In some way it shouldn’t matter whether America controls the top end but in the world situation today, it does. Here is why.

There is no country in the world today, except America, where free speech is more or less intact. Here also it is under attack but so far we have managed to protect it almost entirely, thank to the Constitution. That is not true elsewhere, not even in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. All have seen infringements. You may recall that Mark Levin was prosecuted in Canada for telling the truth, some of you may recall reading here about the near prosecution of a Reformed pastor in Norwich, England for sending an email a recipient didn’t like (it was a perfectly innocuous Reformed tract, quoting the bible). I should note that it was here, including source documents because no blog in the United Kingdom, large of small, dared to post it. And now we come to the Catholic hierarchy (specifically the Bishop of Lancaster) suppressing a blogger for writing about orthodox Catholicism. Jess will tell you more in a bit.

And that is why the control of the internet must remain American. There is no one else in the world that can be trusted to keep it free of interference. That may be the saddest sentence I have ever written, it is likely also the truest.

Here’s Jess:

Come unto me …

Catching up on the blog, it would seem as though far from coming to Jesus relieved some of us here from the heavy burden of sin, it seems to have caused distress and hurt. In this world, hurt and distress are inescapable, and I have never understood those atheists who accuse Christians of being Christians because they get comfort from it; facing up to your own sin is far from comfortable; I would always rather not go to confession; I always feel better afterwards – but comfortable is not a word that I would associate with it.

But that is different from actively causing distress; but that is what is happening in the Roman Catholic Church. I follow a number of blogs which I enjoy, and quite a few are orthodox Catholic. Among these are ‘Protect the Pope’ by Deacon Nick Donnelly, and Fr Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment. Both now have another thing in common apart from their orthodoxy, they have been leaned upon by the Church hierarchy not to upset those who dissent from orthodox Catholic teaching. More detail can be found at Rorate Caeli, and, in a sign of his solidarity with the orthodox, my friend Frere Rabit has taken down the Vatican flag from his site. Those who profane the Church and counter Catholic teaching appear to be under no sanctions at all; indeed it is said that some of the worst examples are being promoted.

This adds enormously to the distress of some Christians. Our own dear friend, quiavideruntoculi is quite clearly in major difficulty as he tries to reconcile what his bishops are saying and doing and what the Church he joined has always taught. My dear friend SF has offered splendid advice about how to deal with the anguish, but it makes me so sad to see such a sincere searcher after Truth put to such straits; and I have a sense that for those orthodox Catholics whom I love and admire, the time of trial in their Church is not far off.

From the point of view of an Anglo-Catholic laywoman in the Church of England, nothing could be less attractive as I look from Mt Nebo. I cannot imagine a less attractive prospect. Where I am, I am part of a Church some would say was too broad, but where the various parts of it have learned to live together. As I look at what looks very like a revived civil war in the Roman Catholic Church, I have three feelings: pangs of sorrow for my orthodox Catholic friends; a certain irritation with a hierarchy which will crack down on orthodoxy and do nothing about real dissent; and an overwhelming desire to stay as far away from it as I can.

Continue reading Jess’ Come Unto Me… at All Along the Watchtower. Please do, and also note that I, a conservative Lutheran, am in complete agreement with her.

And this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

American Exceptionalism: Nothing like it in the World.

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Evangelii Gaudium, an American View, Part 2

download5Continuing from yesterday, link here.

206. Economy, as the very word indicates, should be the art of achieving a fitting management of our common home, which is the world as a whole. Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find local solutions for enormous global problems which overwhelm local politics with difficulties to resolve. If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation, ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few.

More of the discredited central planning that is so beloved by bureaucracy here, disappointing but not unexpected.

208. If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.

OK, but the main problem with most of our economies is caused by government. I see no particular reason to suddenly think they would be a positive influence. It would be best if they stuck to being the government as prescribed by their citizens and got out of the way.

This one is different, those who know me, know I am not anti-Catholic. While I am not shy about criticizing when it is due, it behooves me to commend as well, and paragraph 214 is absolutely perfect

214. Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or“modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?

I couldn’t agree more with this.

In paragraph 218 he writes

218. Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of
society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised.

219. Nor is peace “simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day towards the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect justice among men”. In the end, a peace which is not the result of integral development will be doomed; it will always spawn new conflicts and various forms of violence.

This wants for a definition of what the “common good’ is but, other than that there is little to disagree with. But then it is mostly platitudes, with little idea of how to get from here to there. No, I don’t either..

And in paragraph 232

232. Ideas – conceptual elaborations – are at the service of communication, understanding, and praxis. Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism and nominalism, capable at most of classifying and defining, but certainly not calling to action. What calls us to action are realities illuminated by reason. Formal nominalism has to give way to harmonious objectivity. Otherwise, the truth is manipulated, cosmetics take the place of real care for our bodies. We have politicians – and even religious leaders – who wonder why people do not understand and follow them, since their proposals are so clear and logical. Perhaps it is because they are stuck in the realm of pure ideas and end up reducing politics or faith to rhetoric. Others have left simplicity behind and have imported a rationality foreign to most people.

Ideas, like every form of property, serve those who create them, and in that service, help all people. This is basic economics, an idea comes from a man’s (or woman’s) mind, is developed by him, and is deployed. Some help mankind, some only help their creator, and some are detrimental to either or both. Life is  messy like that

On Islam, in paragraph 253, he writes

253. In order to sustain dialogue with Islam,suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully
grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.

To which I am inclined to say, OK, but I see little sign that violent Islamic fundamentalism is not mainstream, and if it is not, perhaps Islam itself needs to restrain it, before defending our own people becomes paramount in our mind. Which, to a great extent is already happening.

There are some troubling things in here, some are quite troubling, we will address them in the next post. I should probably say, these posts are best considered as one, very long, article. I have split them up simply for convenience, both mine and yours.

We will continue in Part 3, and the full document is here. It’s no longer online but is now a PDF that you have to download.

All The Days of My Life: A Chastity Tale

Franciscan Allegories: Allegory of Chastity

Franciscan Allegories: Allegory of Chastity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going to wade in here where no man should dare tread but, it’s important and this is a very good article.

Does chastity matter anymore?

It does and in several ways that Sarah and I completely agree on. Here’s part of her article, please do follow the link and read the whole thing.

Imagine my surprise when a friend who works with the parish youth group asked me to give a chastity talk to the middle and high school aged girls. “Who, me?” I said, raising an eyebrow suspiciously. I thought,Why not someone who has actually lived chastely her whole life? Me? I did it all wrong.

I was not a virgin on my wedding day. I wasn’t a virgin beyond my first week of college. I had every intention of being a virgin on my wedding day. But after too much to drink at my first college party, and a senior who wouldn’t take no for an answer, that was that. Then came the shame that crawls under your skin and won’t be washed away. And then, the resignation. Well, I’ll never be able to give that gift. So why not? “Why not” became my mantra for the next two years.

I believed all those purity talks I attended, the ones which inevitably included a post-it note being attached and removed from each person’s shirt, or a cup we passed around for everyone to drink from. The implied point of those demonstrations being, “If you give in to temptation, if you commit this sin, you will be the cup from which everyone has drunk. You will be that post-it note that can’t stick. You will be damaged goods and no one will ever want you.”

The problem with those chastity talks I attended in high school was that they didn’t tell me why I should live chastely, for me, for no one’s sake but my own. No, the message emphasized the external. The message was all about waiting for a spouse that may or may not come along; while yes, the pain I experienced at not being able to give that gift to my husband was deep, there has to be more to chastity than that if teens are going to embrace it. Trying to scare people into living chastely just doesn’t work most of the time.

Chastity is not a prison sentence, it’s an invitation to true freedom. I wish someone had told me that. The chastity talks I attended, while well-intentioned, planted a seed in me that if you don’t do it right, you’re damaged goods and no good man will ever want to love you.

This article originally appeared on Ignitum Today and is used with permission.

Sarah Babbs is a married mother of a toddler girl, writing from Indiana where she moved for love after growing up on the East Coast. Sarah and her husband, a lawyer, lead marriage prep classes for their parish, in addition to daydreaming about becoming lunatic farmers. During stolen moments when the toddler sleeps and the laundry multiplies itself, Sarah writes about motherhood, Catholic social thought, and ponders the meaning of being a woman “made in the image of God“. Her website is Fumbling Toward Grace.

Continue reading All The Days of My Life: A Chastity Tale | Catholic Lane.

From where I sit, Sarah is absolutely correct.

There is one thing in here that bothers me a lot. You and I know that none of us are perfect. We should be teaching chastity, absolutely but, we should not be teaching that if you don’t make it to your wedding day a virgin (either gender, by the way) you’re damaged goods. I suspect that has ruined more good young people than nearly anything we have done to them. If you’re not perfect, and I’m surely not perfect, why on earth would we expect them to be perfect.

Teach them to respect themselves and God, as well as others, and that the ideal is to be a virgin on your wedding day. But it emphatically is not the end of your life if you don’t make it. You should never do (or not do) anything because of other people, it really is all about you and God.

One of my friends has confided/asked my opinion on these matters and I’ve given it some thought and this is part of what I wrote to her.

[She had an ethical and moral, if not Christian upbringing, and is what we used to call, ‘A good girl’.]

The problem, of course, that she sees her friends sleeping around, having fun and all that jazz. I can certainly sympathize, I had a few years where I lived that life as well, both looking on enviously, and trying it briefly myself, and finding it wasn’t for me. Bit unusual for a guy to say so but, that’s how it was.

Anyway, she’s about a generation younger than me and no doubt thinks thing have changed since the stone age, but have they really?

I grew up in the 60s, and can still remember the excitement (especially amongst the guys) when the pill became available. Our dream come true, the girls would all be dying to sleep with us now that there was no downside. Well, my only excuse is that we were young (and horny). The old stereotypes held, at least completely in my age group, and from what I hear from young folks, they still do. 

Guys are expected to sleep around, it’s always been so but, the girls they do so with, don’t usually fare so well. Why?

I think part of it is built into us, biology, I’d call it. If we as a species are going to survive, it behooves the male to spread his seed far and wide, while it behooves the female to try to hold the male close to protect her and the offspring. I suspect it’s hardwired into us, and all the preaching from all the feminists for a thousand years isn’t going to change it.

It is. Believe it.

Ogden Nash said it best, for guys , anyway

Candy is dandy,

Liquor is quicker.

[As Sarah can attest]

And no, nothing really changes for guys as we get older, we’ll still attracted to the cheerleader captain, or the adult equivalent.

There is nothing so much fun as sex, except sex with someone you love is orders of magnitude better, if you don’t know that, you’ve never really loved anybody, and I’m sorry for you.

To me, at least since I’ve been an adult, which in this case essentially means, out of college, sleeping around implies a lack of self-respect (yes, in guys as well) and if you don’t respect yourself, why on earth would you think I’ll respect you. Respect always has to be earned. I tend to not use the old Anglo-Saxon terms for such women out loud but my mind may does.

Incidentally, that also directly applies to your looks, to a point anyway. I’m certainly not saying that you should look like a supermodel or have plastic surgery, but if you are 4′ 5” and 500 lbs, or, to be fair, 6′ 8” and 130 lbs, or don’t take care of yourself in other ways. I’m going to think that you don’t care enough about your self to bother, so why would you, in any meaningful way, care about me. Others may differ but, I’d be surprised.

Contraception changed some things. There is little reason for a woman to get pregnant by accident. And yes, I do realize that many of us have moral/religious views on contraception, and that matters greatly.

I believe that you shouldn’t sleep with someone you’re not married to but, that, in today’s world, may be a nearly impossible standard, if you want to find someone. But it is the ideal. In truth, I didn’t always believe it either. I’ve gotten that way by observing life, mine and others.

In the final analysis, as I told my friend, unless I am very sure of what I think, I come down on the side of tradition. Why? Tradition is tradition because it is distilled wisdom, and has kept many people out of trouble by learning from the mistakes of others.

In any case, do nothing that would cause you to disrespect yourself.

What do you think?

Satan, our Churches, and the Battle to Come

St Michael the archangel, dressed somewhat lik...

St Michael the archangel, dressed somewhat like a Roman soldier, about to slay the devil (in the form of a dragon) with a fiery sword. He has a shield with the Latin phrase QUIS UT DEUS? “Who is like unto God?”, which is a literal translation of the Hebrew name Mi-Ka-‘El מי־כאל . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.”

If you are of a certain age, and Catholic, you have heard this prayer, perhaps many times. it was said at the end of every low mass until Vatican II changed the liturgy. But why was it included that much? There is a story behind it, and I think, hope for the future. But first, some background.

I know many of you are saying I’m a protestant what does a Catholic prayer directed to St. Michael have to do with me, or since the Church dropped it, it doesn’t matter. But it does, and here’s why.

The Current Pope, Benedict XVI, has done a very great deal to build bridges with us, probably more than any pope since the Reformation itself, and this is true, whether you are a Lutheran like me, or Episcopalian like Jess, or an Orthodox Christian, a Baptist, an evangelical, or even a Coptic Christian. He has striven quite hard to help us as the small ‘c’ catholic church. And indeed, as Jess said yesterday on her blog.

[…]which is that the way we present ourselves to the world is almost as unhelpful as it could be. We can’t expect the world to love Christ’s Church, but when we seem so full of disdain and even hatred for each other, and for the world, then it is little wonder that we fail to make converts.

I couldn’t agree with her more, and we need to remember that we (all of us) are the church of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, whatever our church, we are united in that. I’ve often said that the foot of the cross is a junction, where many roads meet, and it’s not for any human to say, which are valid. We all have our beliefs, and as we have seen, they are really quite close to each other.

In the Albigensian Crusade at the siege of Béziers, in southern France, a crusader reportedly asked the Papal Legate and inquisitor Arnaud Amalric how to distinguish the Cathars from the Catholics. He was reported to have replied.

Kill them all. For the Lord knoweth them that are His. 

Which may or may not have been appropriate. But understand this: That is exactly what the enemies of Christianity believe.

If you belong to one of the churches founded in the Reformation, like my Lutheran church you know that our history until the Reformation is also the history of the Catholic Church, those of you who belong to churches that split off from the various branches of the tree, it’s true for you as well. Yes, we base our belief on Scripture but we look to the scholars of the early church just as our Catholic brethren do. As a Lutheran, I know that the founder of my church, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther was both a monk and a priest, and I further know that he was a member of the Augustinian order, and spent a great amount of time studying the work of St. Augustine.

And so did Pope Benedict XVI.

There is much more to this in this link which is quite interesting, and highly recommended. Benedict XVI, the Great Augustinian

I think that’s at least part of the reason that he has reached out to us during his pontificate. It is well if we reciprocate, not necessarily to reunite with Rome. I happen to think that our variety makes us stronger, as long as we adhere to correct doctrine, and not fall into the trap of heresy. It is wrong to let the enemies of Christianity divide and conquer us, whether we are speaking of radical Islam or the secular humanists.

I think we all know and are very troubled that we seem to be in a world that is repaganizing, with humanists uniting with radical Islam, a marriage made in Hell. The only cause for such an alliance could be the work of Satan. I know many of my coreligionists no longer believe in Satan but we have plentiful testimony from Genesis on down of his existence. And while the secular humanists want power for themselves, does anybody really think they have much of anything in common with those working for the Caliphate? They would find Islam, particularly fundamentalist Islam even more oppressive than their supposed problems with Christianity. They fulfill only the role of useful idiot, no matter what they think.

Many of our Evangelical and Fundamentalist brothers and sisters believe we are living in the “End Times”. My view and the view of most of our churches is that we are not given to know that, we are to live every day as if it was the last. And that brings us to the heart of this story.

Yesterday I reblogged a post of Chalcedon’s from Jess’s site. it is here. I strongly recommend it, and further I completely agree with him.

Now we come to the meat of the matter, yesterday Chalcedon published another article, this one entitled Satan, the Church and the World, in it he tells us some Catholic history, which I had never heard. Specifically, he tells us that Pope Paul VI in a homily on 29 June 1972 said this:

Referring to the situation of the Church today, the Holy Father says he has the feeling that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

He went on to say:

“We believe … that something preternatural has come into the world specifically to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council, and to prevent the Church from breaking out in a hymn of joy for having recovered in fullness the awareness of herself”

 That’s all well and good (or not), but what does that have to do with the subject at hand?

This:

He was referring to an even tin the Pontificate of Leo XIII, when on 13 October 1884 Pope Leo XIII collapsed after saying Mass.

Why?

He received a vision of a conversation between Jesus and Satan, which would certainly cause any of us to collapse in awe, if for no other reason. This is the most common account.

On October 13, 1884, after Pope Leo XIII had finished celebrating Mass in the Vatican Chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from the Chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St. Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere. When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices – two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:

The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasting to Our Lord: “I can destroy your Church”
The gentle voice of Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.”
Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.”
Our Lord: “How much time? How much power?
Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”
Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”
The article is fascinating and it is here.
After this experience the Pope went immediately to his office and wrote the prayer that leads this article and ordered that it be used at the end of every low mass, everywhere.
You remember that I found cause for optimism in the story? How is that possible? if you’ve followed the links I’ve given you, you already know the answer. It’s entirely possible that the time of tribulations is ending. Do I know this? No, but I do know this: If we are the Christians we say we are, we have nothing to fear for the Lord Himself is in the house, and against Him the gates of Hell itself will not stand.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Mathew 20

 

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