Watchman, what of the Night? (Is. 21.11)
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Here in Italy the summer has reached its height: the sun beats down on the city and on the countryside by day, and by night the elderly sit outside and watch the people passing by.
To the eyes of the Faith, by contrast, the whole of mankind is plunged in the most profound darkness, for both the Church and the World are in the throes of the gravest and most profound crisis in the history of their existence. The crisis is one of Apostasy, not so much in the formal sense of the explicit rejection of the Catholic Faith, but rather in the general sense of the falling away from God.
To help us understand the nature of this apostasy we shall make a brief meditation on the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (vv. 17-32), in which St. Paul refers to this same phenomenon in his own epoch. Holy Scripture is widely applicable to the events of human history: we shall see how the passage in question may usefully be applied to the circumstances of our contemporary world.
The elements which we propose to consider in this essay are the following:
I) The suppression of the Truth about God;
II) The refusal to honour God;
I The Suppression of the Truth about God
St. Paul writes (v.18) of ‘those men that detain the truth about God in injustice’. ‘Detain’ (detinere in the Latin, catechein in the Greek) signifies the suppression of that which moves the agent to the good; ‘in injustice’ signifies that this suppression is in opposition to the order that God has established; ‘the truth’, as the context shows and as we proceed to explain, is both the supernatural knowledge of God, namely the Faith, and the natural knowledge of God which is acquired by the use of reason.
The Truth about God which is suppressed in the contemporary world belongs, like the Truth of which St. Paul treats, both to the supernatural and the natural orders.
A. The Suppression of the Supernatural Truth about God
We see that St. Paul, when he speaks of the ‘Suppression of the Truth’, refers (at least in part) to the Faith, since he speaks in verse 16 of the Gospel as ‘a power of God unto salvation to every-one that believeth’, and in verse 17 mentions the word ‘Faith’ three times and states that ‘the just man liveth by Faith’.
In this section we shall therefore speak of the suppression of articles of the Faith in the contemporary Church.
Now clearly the Faith may be suppressed in one of two ways: either by denying it explicitly by formal heresy such as in the ‘39 Articles’ of Martin Luther, or by obscuring it. As we attempted to set forth in our essay on Modernism, it is principally by obscurantism that the Faith is attacked in the present age. As we further explained in the same essay, this obscurantism may take one of two forms: the passing over of a doctrine in silence, and equivocation. We return to this theme now in virtue of its relevance to apostasy.
Here we limit ourselves briefly to the obscuring of one of the two core articles of the Catholic Faith, namely the existence of the Most Blessed Trinity. We observe that recent Popes refer but rarely to this dogma, preferring to speak simply of ‘God’ – as though as a gesture towards paganism and heresy.
As we have explained in detail in our short work: ‘The Destruction of the Roman Rite’, the prayers of Adoration of the Triune God have been almost entirely abolished from the Novus Ordo. The Doxology Gloria Patri… which appeared thrice in the Old Rite has been entirely removed; the Trinitarian formula per Dominum Nostrum Jesum Christum… which concluded many of the prayers in the Old Rite has been removed in all cases except one; the prayer at the Offertory Suscipe Sancta Trinitas and the prayer at the end of the Mass Placeat Tibi Sancta Trinitas have been excised; the Preface of the Holy Trinity which was used in the former rite almost every Sunday of the year now appears only once, that is on the respective Feast-day.
Furthermore the invocation of the Most Blessed Trinity (Pater de caelis Deus…) at the beginning of the public litanies was officially eliminated by Pope Paul VI in Lent 1969. Similarly one observes that the Trinitarian doxology has been removed from the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (at least in the Italian version), thereby incidentally reducing the number of verses from the symbolic 7 to 6.
Equivocation on the part of the Magisterium typically takes the form of an ambiguous statement favouring heresy. In the article ‘How to Regard the Second Vatican Council’ we gave as an example the statement: ‘The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church’. This statement is ambiguous in that it could mean that the Church of Christ is either greater than, or identical to, the Catholic Church. It favours heresy inasmuch as it suggests the former sense. Otherwise why not simply re-state the dogma that the two are identical?
a) Changes to Catholic Doctrine
Such equivocal statements not only favour heresy but also represent (putative) changes to Catholic doctrine: The Church of Christ is no longer identical to the Catholic Church: it subsists in the Catholic Church.
However, any-one with even a minimal theological formation knows that Tradition has a binding force. All Catholic dogmas and doctrines belong to Tradition, and none of them can change over time. The Second Vatican Council, however, declared new doctrines, doctrines which did not belong to Tradition: doctrines which represent changes to traditional teachings.
As is explained in the same article, Catholic doctrine cannot change except in the depth or clarity of its expression. The changes in the Council were not, however, of this type, but rather were substantial changes: changes in substance.
Apart from the example just cited, there are many other examples, such as the assertion that there are elements of Truth and Sanctity outside the Catholic Church, that the Pope shares jurisdiction over the entire Catholic Church with the Bishops (‘collegiality’); that the Mass is ‘the Paschal Mystery’, and so on. Such assertions represent changes to Catholic dogma, which is, however, immutable. The Church teaches immutably and infallibly that outside the Church there is no salvation, that the Pope possesses absolute jurisdictional primacy, that the Mass is in its essence the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary.
b) Contradictions of Catholic Doctrine
Now the change to a statement purporting to express a truth constitutes a contradiction of that statement. The equivocations that we have cited therefore represent not only changes, but also contradictions, of traditional teachings.
It is true that they are not formal contradictions, formally denying the Catholic dogma by saying, for example: ‘The Church of Christ is not identical to the Catholic Church – otherwise they would have been tantamount to formal heresy, and would not have been accepted by the majority of the Council-members. Rather they are effective and veiled contradictions: that is to say contradictions for all intents and purposes, and contradictions veiled in obscurity, as we were at pains to explain in the article on Modernism.
Such contradictions are manifest when we compare the modern doctrines with doctrines taught by the Magisterium previously as we have just done, but also when we compare amongst themselves Council texts or contemporary teachings (whether on the Magisterial, Episcopal, or parochial level). In the latter cases we may speak of ‘doctrinal syncretism’.
c) Doctrinal Syncretism
Since the Second Vatican Council does not wholly consist of new, but also of traditional, doctrines, it follows that contradictions may be found within the Council texts themselves. In the text Presbyterorum Ordinis one reads for instance (§ 2) that the priest ‘in virtue of his sacred ordination has the power to offer the Sacrifice and forgive sins’ (the Catholic doctrine), and in another place (§ 4) that ‘the priest’s first duty is to announce God’s Gospel to all’ (the Protestant doctrine).
In the period subsequent to the Council, the Church, or more precisely the men of the Church, have continued to teach a mixture of Catholic and non-Catholic doctrine: Truth and Falsehood: paragraphs, sentences, words, and letters all jumbled up meaninglessly together as it were: nonsense, senseless sounds, flatus vocis, a morass, quicksands in which a man can lose his life.
The syncretism has entered into the Magisterium – and continues to flourish there to the present day; into all the Pontifical Universities – the Lateran, the Gregorian, the Angelicum and so on – as well as into all the diocesan seminaries in the entire world. No Institute is uncontaminated, except for those few ‘Traditionalist’ ones, with their Traditional teachings and the Old Mass.
This syncretism has filtered down to the parish level, so that it is not surprising to hear one and the same parish priest announce at one moment that death is followed by Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, and at another moment (at a funeral Mass for a non-believer for example) that every-one goes immediately to Heaven. This mixture of True and False has found its ultimate expression in ‘Ecumenism’, where the true Christian confession makes common cause with the false confessions, and the true Faith with the false ‘Faiths’.
Meanwhile the Hierarchy has not sanctioned either group, and by allowing the two rites of Mass, one of which expresses the Catholic Faith, and the other heresy, as we attempted to explain in the essay on the Roman rite, it has in effect given equal rights to both Truth and Falsehood.
We could sum it up like this: the Church is not using its three offices of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying in favour of the Faith: she promotes both Truth and Falsehood doctrinally; she tolerates both juridically; she celebrates both liturgically. She is no longer interested in the Truth.
What is She interested in? What was She interested in ‘the Council’ and subsequently? The answer cannot be other than a peaceable co-existence with the World. But for the Church this is a work of self-destruction. Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. Rome… creates a desert and calls it peace.’ (Tacitus, De Agricola)
B. The Suppression of the Natural Truth about God
1. Atheism in General
We noted above that St. Paul’s words concerning the ‘Suppression of Truth’ refer not only to supernatural, but also to natural, truth. This is clear from verses 19-20 where the Apostle proceeds to speak of the knowledge of God which may be obtained by contemplating the creation: ‘…Because that which is known of God is manifest of them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.’
The suppression of the natural truth about God is atheism: the denial that God exists (‘positive atheism’) or the denial that His existence may be proved (‘negative atheism’ or ‘agnosticism’). If we look at man’s passage across the centuries we witness a tendency on his part to emancipate himself from God, his Master. Under the Old Dispensation we observe the infidelities of the people of Israel culminating in the crucifixion of the Messiah; under the New Dispensation a turning away initially from the God of the Faith and then from the God of reason as well.
The roots of modern atheism may be sought as early as the Middle Ages in the anthropocentrism of the Rhineland Mystics. We see its face more clearly in the humanism of the Renaissance and later in the figure of Martin Luther, whom the renowned 16th century Dominican, Fr. Tommaso Campanella in his work Atheismus Triumphatus, identifies as one of its principal causes.
The principal root of atheism in the last 500 years is certainly that of subjectivism: first the theological subjectivism of Martin Luther, then the philosophical subjectivism of René Descartes and the modern philosophers. Within this philosophical trend we may specify two particular theories which colour modern atheism: Materialism and Idealism. Materialism favours positive atheism: the thesis that God does not exist; Idealism favours negative atheism(- agnosticism): the thesis that we cannot know whether God exists.
Atheism has of course always been a position of individual persons or philosophical schools or élites, but in the present day it has taken on a well-nigh universal dimension, and become what one might call a mass product. It is of course an attitude typical of the World, but in recent years it has entered the Church as well, that is to say within the current of Modernism, as an immanent, pantheist system of thought (cf. St. Pius X’s Encyclical Pascendi § 39). It follows that the suppression of the truth about God within the contemporary Church is a suppression of the truth not only about the God of the Faith but also about the God of reason.
2. The Irrationality of Atheism
Verses 19-20 of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans quoted above constitute one of the principal scriptural sources for the Catholic dogma of the natural knowledge of God. In accordance with this text, the First Vatican Council declares infallibly that God may be known ‘with certainty by the natural light of human reason’, and the Anti-modernist Oath, repeating and amplifying this declaration, adds that the existence of God may ‘…thus also be proved’.
As the latter document states, the proof proceeds from the created world to the existence of the Creator by means of the principle of causality. This proof, which has five distinct modes, is set forth formally by St. Thomas Aquinas in his ‘Five Ways’- the Five Ways which are notable for their depth and subtlety, as also for the concision and the clarity of their expression.
Since the existence of God may conclusively be proved, atheism is not a logically tenable position. It follows that, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as theoretical Atheism, but only practical Atheism. In other words, one may live as though God does not exist, but there are no logical grounds for so doing.
3. The Immorality of Atheism
In becoming a mass product, atheism has gained a certain acceptance and respect in the common consciousness. Indeed the title ‘atheist’ has become well-nigh self-justifying: it is enough to present oneself as atheist, and usually no questions will be asked.
This does not however correspond to the vision of the Church. Father Tomas Tyn O.P. says: “Some-one will tell me ‘he is an atheist, but very nice’. I reply: ‘He may be very nice, but not as an atheist.’” Indeed since God’s existence, in the words of St. Paul, is ‘manifest’ and ‘clearly seen’, the atheist is not only irrational but also ‘inexcusable’.
The reason for atheism is sin. ‘The fool said in his heart: There is no God.’ Such is the unequivocal first verse of both Psalm 13 and Psalm 52. The word ‘fool’ in the original Hebrew signifies coarseness, both intellectual and moral, and implies that the fool denies God in order to justify himself in his sin. Our Blessed Lord Himself speaks of those who rejected Him because they preferred darkness to light: so that their sin should not become manifest; and St. Augustine in the same vein says that the atheist always has good reasons for being an atheist. In scholastic terms, we are talking about ignorantia affectata, the ignorance which does not diminish, but rather increases, the culpability of the agent. It is the ignorance of those responsible for the death of Our Lord, who were possessed of an ill will.
Because atheism is both a palliative and a mass phenomenon it may accurately be described it as ‘The Opium of the People.’
II The Refusal to Honour God
In verse 21 St Paul writes: ‘…when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God or given thanks’. Here he mentions the two religious duties that man owes to God in virtue of His infinite glory and goodness, respectively. In turning away from God, man has in effect refused to fulfill these duties.
This is particularly obvious in the domain of the Holy Mass where the Church’s new liturgy reflects Her new doctrine. The offering of the Holy Mass of course is in itself the highest and most perfect means to glorify God and to give Him thanks – indeed the most common synonym for the Holy Mass is ‘The Eucharist’, which means thanksgiving.
The Old Rite enables man to offer glory to God and give Him thanks in the most adequate and sublime manner possible. The Novus Ordo Missae, by contrast, is signally defective in this regard. Apart from the suppression of the mention of the Most Holy Trinity (as stated above) – the very object of the glory offered by the Mass, the prayer ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo’ as we noted in the same essay, has been removed from the majority of the Masses offered in the course of the liturgical year. In the same spirit the vast majority of acts of Adoration which the rubrics of the Old Rite had safeguarded, have been eliminated from the modern Mass, such as the bows, the signs of the Cross, the genuflections, the silence, together with all the reverent demeanour on the part of the celebrant and the assisting faithful.
We invite any-one who claims that the two rites are of equal value to reflect upon these changes. How can a rite, for example, which prescribes Communion on the tongue to the kneeling faithful be of equal value to one that permits and indeed fosters Communion in the hand to the standing faithful?
In fact each Mass in itself always gives equal value to God, but the manner in which any given Mass is offered is not of equal value to the manner in which any other Mass is offered. If one takes two identical precious stones and mounts one in a precious setting and on a precious ring which entirely suit the stone, and the other in a cheap and vulgar setting and ring, then clearly the former object will have a greater value than the latter.
In turning away from God, man rejects the True and the Good in their ultimate sense, that is to say as they exist in God Himself. In the next section we consider the former phenomenon; in the following section the latter. In later sections we shall be concerned to expose the irrationality and evil of contemporary society.
St. Paul continues (vv.21-3) that men, not glorifying God or giving Him thanks, ‘became vain in their thinking. And their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…’
In commentary on the phrase ‘their foolish heart was darkened’ it may be said that this foolishness consists in the rejection of God, and that this rejection darkens the intellect and will, represented, in Jewish imagery, by the heart.
God is the True: Objective Truth, Being, Objective Reality in the ultimate sense of the term. Atheism, in rejecting God, has rejected truth: it has substituted truth for falsehood (as St. Paul states in v. 25); and since knowledge is knowledge of the Truth and philosophy is the knowledge of Truth in the ultimate sense of the term, atheism has effectively excluded a priori both the possibility of knowledge and philosophy.
The atheist modern philosophers are fantasy-spinners. It would have been better for them to have become science-fiction writers. At least they would then have revealed themselves for what they were and earned their keep honestly. What is reality? What is the basis of morality? What am I? One of them excogitates a theory and another refutes it. The questions become unanswerable, and, at the end of the day, entirely otiose.
Within the Church, the Modernists, by now of a certain age, are spinning similar fantasies. We would not wish to pass over in silence the recent denial on the part of Bishops of the Real Presence of Our Blessed Lord, or of the sublime privileges of the Most Blessed and Glorious Virgin Mary, nor of the long-standing promotion of abortion by the German Bishops’ Conference: Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland.
These various fantasies, when set alongside true Church doctrines, create the syncretistic amalgam of Truth and Falsehood that we have delineated above.
One of the most effective ways in which Modernism has entered the hearts of the clergy and of the faithful is, however, by means of the Novus Ordo Missae, for according to the principle of lex orandi, lex credendi they have by their celebration of, and assistance at, this rite, imbibed the falsehood of the new and false theology, and their heart has been darkened and closed to the Truth. Who in the Novus Ordo clergy and hierarchy, or even among those who are biritual, has retained a clear and unsullied vision of Absolute, Supernatural Truth?
Herumstolzierend, the modern philosophers and thinkers make ungainly incursions into the field of practical ethics such as sexuality and unborn life. Acclaimed and even knighted in their latter years for their intellectual achievements, they profess, like the Modernists, ‘to be wise’: ‘… with that vainglory that allows them to regard themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge, and makes them say, elated and inflated with presumption: We are not like other men’ (Pascendi § 40).
We reply to the Modernist and the modern philosopher in the words of Shakespeare (Henry IV Pt. I, Act 5 Scene 5): ‘I know thee not old man. Fall to thy prayers. How ill white hairs become a fool…’
‘And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of a corruptible man and of birds, and of four-footed beasts and of creeping things…’
Rejecting God from the heart, that is from the intellect and the will, they reject the proper object of these faculties, which is God under the aspect of Infinite Truth and Infinite Good respectively: for the intellect has been created to know God under the aspect of the True, and to love Him under the aspect of the Good.
Once God has been rejected from the heart, once the heart has lost its orientation to its proper object, it is darkened and falls onto surrogate objects: onto finite, created things, onto idols: devils, men, animals, or graven images. In short the men who reject God, in falling away from Him, ‘worship(ped) and serve(d) the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.’ (v.25).
The Book of Wisdom (ch. 12 ff.) which serves as a background for St. Paul’s account of Apostasy, specifies graven images as the object of men’s worship; St. Paul, by contrast, specifies animals and man. The modern apostate society, by contrast, has clearly elected man as the object of his worship.
Modern philosophy, in denying or doubting of God’s existence, has placed man in the centre of the Universe. It has developed two distinct systems of ethics for his conduct: hedonism and humanism. It will not now be necessary to expound the shallowness of hedonism, of which we shall offer an egregious example below, instead we shall here confine ourselves to a brief comment on humanism.
He who believes in God, recognizes that the dignity and perfection of man reside in his love of God, and that his moral conduct must be determined by God’s will, particularly as expressed in the natural law. The atheist humanist, by contrast, is incapable of appreciating the dignity of man or the natural law that should govern his every action; in rejecting God, he has in effect rejected any adequate foundation for man’s dignity and morality. Indeed he has rejected objective reality itself and has thus rendered himself incapable of understanding man or his morality except by reference to the subjective order, by reference to man’s happiness and fulfillment.
Undeniably this same humanism has entered into contemporary Catholic moral teaching, even if Catholic doctrine is by its very nature divine. As St. Paul explicitly states (Gal.1. 11): ‘For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel that was preached by me, is not according to man’.
The new doctrinal and moral stance of the Church, by contrast, from the Second Vatican Council onwards, with its advocation of the principle of Mercy over the condemnation of error, its love for the entire world qua world, its promotion of the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the abolition of the Index, the purported expansion of the Church beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, the promotion of a heady and euphoric Ecumenism are so many instances of a new, all-pervasive spirit of love which is no longer that of Charity.
Charity is the supernatural love of God and the neighbour in God in the state of Grace, which ‘rejoices in the Truth’, which consists in fulfilling the commandments, and which is perfected in sanctity. The new spirit of love, by contrast, is the love of the senses: feelings, sentimentality, conformity to the feelings of others. It is a subjective form of love. In the shift from the former to the latter we have witnessed a shift from the objective to the subjective, from the supernatural virtue of love to the passion of love; we have witnessed a pale and effeminate simulacrum disguising itself as true love and deceiving the masses. The deception continues to the present day and, as we have attempted to show in the book on the family, is particularly evident in Magisterial Personalism and Theology of the Body.
Man is placed at the centre of the world in contemporary Church doctrine, then, as well as in Her liturgy, where as we argued in detail in the book on the New Mass, Our Lord Jesus Christ has been ousted from His due position of honour and substituted by man.
‘Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness: to dishonour their own bodies among themselves… ’ (v.24).
We first observe that the phrase ‘God gave them up’ (which thrice appears in the section under consideration) refers to God’s withholding Grace from sinners in response to the gravity of their sin.
1. Impurity in General
The two most remarkable features of impurity, as with atheism, are its irrationality and its immense contemporary diffusion. We shall look at each in turn.
The sexual faculty is for procreation as the eye is for sight. When children are born they need a stable home in order to grow up as happy and well-balanced young people. For this purpose a father and mother are necessary – to love both them and one another. In this way we can see that human nature itself entails the necessity of marriage: in other words, marriage is an institution of the Natural Law. To defy marriage is therefore to defy the Natural Law, and Reason itself which it expresses.
Sins against purity have always been rife on account of the weakness of Fallen Nature, but such sins to-day enjoy enormous diffusion. The reason should be sought in the enormous diffusion of atheism, for if God and the Objective Good are no longer the guiding principles of morality, their place will be usurped by man and his subjective good. But if man and his feelings have gained the moral ascendency, then it is clear that sexuality will be given free rein on all sides.
Just as with atheism, it has always been the case that given intellectuals have attempted to justify sins against impurity, but to-day we are no longer speaking about the attitudes or the sins of individuals, but of the masses. Successive extramarital alliances of shorter or longer duration involving overt cohabitation, also in the form of civil ‘marriages’ combined with divorces, have by now become almost as conventional as marriage in the proper sense of the word.
The moral stigma attached to such evils has been largely effaced. The sense of shame has much diminished; modesty in comportment, dress, and speech is no longer practised; obscenity is found even in the mouths of children.
Fallen Nature forces itself on the attention from a billion posters and screens. It cries out in the streets and public places in an untiring and incessant stream of tainted music, telling of its joys and unquenchable loves and sorrows. It finds its ultimate expression and celebration in the ‘pop-concert’ with its screaming and howling fanatics, its Dionysian licentiousness and obscenity,
‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ (Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5).
The family disintegrates into ‘one-parent families’ or ragged and amorphous pseudo-families consisting of whole generations of persons related to each other as quasi-in-laws: fragments of broken homes clinging to fragments of other broken homes, like flotsam and jetsam drifting across the vast ocean of human misery.
Society itself, with the disintegration of its constitutive cell which is the family, itself disintegrates, like some vast glacier splitting, cracking, and decomposing into the self-same polluted and all-encompassing ocean.
C’est un univers morne à l’horizon plombé
où nagent dans la nuit l’horreur et le blasphème (Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal).
The reason for the particular decadence and degradation of Western society is its former glory. For Catholic society is the highest form of society that exists, and the corruption of that which is the best is the worst: corruptio optimi pessima est. In this connection it should not surprise us that even Italy, the very heart-land of Catholicism, is also contemplating passing a law to introduce the infamous ‘Gender Ideology’ into its schools.
2. Unnatural Impurity
‘… they… worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator…For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into the use which is against nature. And in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts, one towards another: man with man, working that which is filthy and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error’ (v. 25-7).
a) Unnatural Impurity in General
If fornication is itself contrary to nature and reason, this form of it is egregiously so. Not only are these acts performed outside their proper context which is that of marriage, but they are also deprived of sexual complementarity and are lacking by their nature in the very possibility of procreation.
A glance at empirical psychology shows us that this form of fornication is not only irrational in regard to the finality of the sexual act, but also in regard to the human psyche. According to a well and widely respected theory, the homosexual condition derives from a child’s arrested psychological development. Take a boy for example whose father (whether by his absence or his unattractive character) does not provide the necessary model for his psychological masculinity and/or whose mother, for instance by her domineering or possessive character, does not allow it to develop. This boy, as he grows to adulthood and beyond, will be prey to the desire to appropriate to himself the masculinity of those of his own sex who realise for him the ideal of manhood, which he feels to exist in him only in a potential form. Clearly to engage in sexual activity with such mirage-like figures will do nothing to satisfy this desire. Rather, therapy is indicated, the purification of the emotional love and its sublimation into a life and activities consonant with the dignity of the human person.
We observe with regret that the break-down of the family tends to augment the homosexual condition, inasmuch as a) fathers are increasingly absent to their sons; and b) with the lessening of the spirit of self-sacrifice guaranteed by a well-functioning family, the fathers are increasingly less attractive as models for them, and the mothers less altruistic.
Although we must be compassionate towards those who suffer, we must never condone evil. With homosexual acts we are talking about sins of extreme gravity, that ‘cry to Heaven for vengeance’ and in the face of which, according to St. Pier Damiani, ‘even the devils withdraw.’ They abhor such crimes because they have retained something of the perfection of the angelic nature, so that crimes against nature of this enormity are repugnant to them.
b) Unnatural ‘Marriage’
A recent development in this shadowy domain is that of alliances between persons of the same sex being proposed as ‘marriage’ by the state authorities, with sanctions being proposed for the future on those who might be so bold as to object to them.
What we are witnessing is the public acceptance and approval, at least on the civil level, of that which is obscene and intrinsically perverted; and the purported elevation of the respective way of life to the dignity of a sacrament, in other words to that of a state willed by God and a source of holiness.
The irrationality of this way of life is manifest even in the name with it has been dubbed: ‘marriage’. The word derives from the Latin ‘matrimonium’, which, as the Catechism of Trent explains, signifies ‘matris munus’: the office of motherhood, which, when applied to two members of the same sex, is clearly a contradiction in terms. We as rational beings, and above all as Catholics, should refuse to call such alliances ‘marriage’ and should clearly instruct our children that they are not so.
Even if such alliances are not, and, on account of their perversion, will never be, widely diffused, we observe that one head-of-state after another is yielding to the pressure of approving them, under the influence of a small, if virulent, band of reprobates. These heads-of-state, when they are not simply evil, are weak. They lack courage and substance: they are like great white jelly-fish, invertebrate and poisonous, floating with the tide, and bringing death to all those whom they encounter.
It cannot have been easy for the promoters of such grotesque and bizarre abominations to find a pejorative term to describe the position of their opponents. They came up with ‘Homophobia’, literally ‘same-fear’, or by extension ‘same-hate’, suggesting that their opponents harbour fear or hatred towards them, which of course would be weakness and inhuman. In reply it should be said that the Church does not fear or hate any-one; but such actions and ways of life it condemns.
Even if such endeavours are rooted in the World’s defiance of God and the Church, we have, in the Synod on the Family in 2014, witnessed Bishops engaging with such worldly thinking, infandum! for example looking into ‘what may be good’ in these civil consortia. In this regard we limit ourselves to remarking that it is a waste of time, energy, and Church finances for a Synod Bishop to enquire into what may be good in that which is intrinsically evil.
Not content to degrade the human person and society in this manner, the same perverted band has now succeeded in introducing into a considerable number of European schools educational programmes promoting that which they are pleased to label as the ‘Gender Ideology’. These programmes are aimed at children from birth to adulthood. They elect the emotions and feelings as the guide of sexual conduct; they excite and promote them in the minds of the children. The programmes tend towards contraception, abortion, homosexuality, paedophilia, the further destruction of the family, population control, and in fine, or so it seems, a totalitarian ‘One-World-Order’.
Apart from its singular depravity, this enterprise is characterised by what we can only describe as stupidity to a heroic degree. Has any-one ever seriously suggested in any field that a man should be guided solely by his emotions or feelings? Man is not an animal: he possesses reason and a will. Indeed, as we have noted above, these are the two principal faculties of his immortal soul, the use of which will determine his eternal life.
How can it be, then, that heads of schools and teachers have accepted these proposals? Have they done so in order to obey the new civil law? In this case they should know that an unjust law is not a law but a negation of the law. Or have they done so in order not to lose their jobs? But that is a sin, for such courses constitute an objective moral evil, and it is never licit to do what is evil as a means for what is good. If they want to stay at the school, why do they not stay there and show the Gender course up for what it is? Will God abandon those who refuse to offend him by sin?
Perhaps we may be surprised that it is but a small group of persons that puts pressure on the heads-of-state and on society to effect that which is contrary to nature, to logic, to good sense, to the conscience, and therefore also to the majority (although it is of course presented in the name of democracy). But, there again, we have seen similar phenomena in the Third Reich, in the Reformation, in the Doctrinal and the Liturgical Revolutions (that is, respectively, the Second Vatican Council and the fabrication and implementation of the Novus Ordo Missae), and in all other Revolutions. A small group instigates the evil and only a small group actively resists. The rest go along, floating with the tide. In German one says that only dead fish go with the tide.
One of the more patent errors of the ‘Gender Ideology’ is the principle that natures can change: a man can become a woman for example, and a woman a man. The truth, by contrast, is that the notion of ‘nature’ or ‘essence’ pertains to the notion of ‘substance’ which is a first principle of thought: a principle without which it is impossible to think. Essences and natures do not change, unless of course God directly intervenes. A man remains a man whatever he does to himself, and a woman a woman. After a ‘transgender operation’ a man does not become a woman, but an ‘Attis’, a self-mutilating, female impersonator.
As Romanio Amerio states at various points in his magisterial work ‘Iota Unum’, the root of modern error is this very denial, or ‘loss’, of essences. The denial of essences is a consequence of radical subjectivism, which is the idolatry of the present age: the substitution of God for man which we have treated above. If I deny that things have essences, objective essences, then they assume for me the essences which I myself ascribe to them, that is according to my feelings or attitudes, essences which may therefore change, as my feelings and attitudes themselves change.
3. Iniquity in General
‘And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient. Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy’ (vv. 28-31).
The Book of Wisdom, the background text to St. Paul’s account of Apostasy, furnishes us with a similar list of evils, deriving them from the same source: ‘And all things are mingled together, blood, murder, theft and dissimulation, corruption and unfaithfulness, tumults and perjury, disquieting of the good, forgetfulness of God, defiling of souls, changing of nature, disorder in marriage, and the irregularity of adultery and uncleanness. For the worship of abominable idols is the cause, and the beginning and end, of all evil’ (Wisdom 14 vv. 25-7).
In the previous section St. Paul, referring to unnatural impurity, spoke of the ‘recompense due to their error’ which we may readily apply to the ‘a.i.d.s.’ epidemic. Leaving the reader to reflect on how the two following passages may relate to our present age, we now turn briefly to consider the consequences of this apostasy for contemporary man, first in regard to his soul, then in regard to the destruction to which it tends.
1. The Soul of Man
At the root of the apostasy that we have described above is pride. Pride has seduced man’s will, which in its turn has detached itself from his reason. Detaching itself from reason it has detached itself from Faith and from God. The apostasy has been so violent that it has shaken man to his deepest being: it has clouded his intellect, weakened his will, detached his emotions, at least in part, from their dominion, and has intensified them.
The impurity in which this apostasy partly consists has exercised a particular force in the process of destruction. As St. Thomas shows in his treatment of the ‘Daughters of Lust’ (Summa II II 153 a. 5): ‘the effect of this vice is that the lower appetite, namely the concupiscible, is most forcibly intent upon its object, that is the object of pleasure, on account of the vehemence of the pleasure. Consequently, the higher powers, namely the reason and the will are most grievously disordered…’
In all these aspects, the apostasy of to-day imitates Original Sin itself, it has strengthened the hold of this Sin on fallen nature and brought this same nature to its finest and final flowering.
We shall proceed to look more closely at the intellect and will of modern man.
a) The Intellect
i) Professor Plinio Correia de Oliviera in his book ‘Revolution and Counter-Revolution’ explains how in the course of time man grows increasingly audacious in his rebellion against God. First he denies the Faith, then the existence of God, and subsequently the Natural Law. We have seen how this process culminates in the denial of essences. The rebellion has taken on national dimensions with the imposition of atheism, of one-child families, of the ‘Gender ideology’ on entire nations.
And yet this whole process is already contained in germ in man’s initial rejection of God. For God as the proper object of the intellect is Truth and Objective Reality, so that in rejecting God, he has not only rejected Truth, as we noted above, but also Objective Reality itself. As a result he has become blind to God’s Will as manifest in the natural law, and even to the very nature and essences of things. Instead, he has embraced subjective reality, which is nothing other than madness. We shall give an example in the following section.
ii) By not acting according to reason, he has descended to the level of the animals, or rather he has descended lower, because animals follow the Natural Law by their very being; whereas man has defied it, and so is acting like a perverted animal;
iii) His will, by rejecting reason, has risen up against it. He has become divided in himself: divided and schizophrenic;
iv) By becoming divided in himself he has entered into his definitive decline. Our Blessed Lord Himself said: ‘A Kingdom divided amongst itself cannot stand’. He is in a state of self-destruction: moral in his relation with others, physical in relation to his aborted children, and spiritual in relation to his immortal soul.
b) The Will
i) Man has rejected the proper object of his will which is God. In so doing he has refused to love Him, he has rendered himself incapable of fulfilling this the sole purpose of his existence;
ii) His rejection of God has led him into impurity, drawing him away from marriage, from the most intimate and lasting of all human loves. He has thus shown himself incapable of those two forms of love which make the greatest demands on man, which demand self-sacrifice to the highest degree: Divine love and spousal love. To this extent he has become like his father, the devil, ‘the one who cannot love’ in the words of St. Theresa of Avila.
iii) Instead, he has fallen into impurity: not true love: love as a virtue, but love as a passion, a surrogate object called ‘love’ only by analogy with true love. We have spoken about these two types of love above, indicating how the Church Herself has shifted Her interest from the virtue of love to the passion of love. To understand the heinousness of impurity in its present-day form, let us compare it briefly with marriage.
The latter exists between a man and a woman for the purpose of the procreation and education of children; the former exists between two persons regardless of sex or age for the purpose of pleasure. Procreation is avoided where possible by contraception or abortion. The children who, despite all these dangers, succeed in being born, are sent to school, no longer to be educated but to be perverted. Man has been enveloped by a world devised by the Devil, the imitator of God, a grotesque distortion and perversion of the real world. It is not the objective world, it is a subjective world, subjective reality. How can we not describe living in this world as madness?
The sin of the Sodomites cries out to Heaven for vengeance, as does the plight of the orphan. Who is more an orphan than the being created and dying in a test-tube, or, if surviving, put in a rented womb, and consigned at birth to two people of the same sex living out some miserable parody of marriage? The cries of the sins of the Sodomites and of the orphans mingle with the cries of the billions of unborn children murdered daily by (abortifacient) ‘contraceptives’ or other methods, their ‘silent screams’ witnessed in all their desperate pathos on ultrasound film. The cries, inaudible to the majority, split the air of the spirit at every moment of the day ‘and the cry of them has entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth’ (St. James 5.4).
‘And if they should enter the stream of life and pass out of it,’ says the apostate, ‘if all around us should perish, what is that to us? We alone exist, we are from ourselves: as we decree, so shall it be done.’
And the dead reply: ‘How long, O Lord, Holy and True, dost Thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?’ (Apoc. 6.10). But the cup of the wrath of God is overflowing, the troops of the enemy are amassing against the Church, and the blood-shed has already begun.
Why, we might ask ourselves, does moral evil tend to destruction? To answer this question it will help us to consider it in relation to moral good. Moral good, and the virtue of love which effects it, tends to the increase and perfection of being: to the external glory of God, and the good of the neighbour and of the self. Moral evil, by contrast, tends to the diminution of being. This is evident when we recall that evil is essentially a privation of being, so that to promote evil is to promote the privation, the diminution of being.
By Faith we know that God’s purpose (or finis operis) in creation is that creation should glorify Him by its likeness to Him. Man glorifies Him, man promotes His external glory and at the same time his own good, by his sanctity and holiness. To this end it is necessary that man be united to God by Grace: by Baptism, Faith, and by Charity which increases with each of a man’s good works performed in the state of Grace.
The Devil, by contrast, has no purpose (finis operis) in a positive sense, which is why his machinations are essentially without sense or meaning. He only has a purpose in a negative sense. This purpose is defined by its negation of God’s purpose, that is as the frustration of God’s glory: the diminution of that being which consists in God’s glory and the sanctity of man, ideally by its utter annihilation. To this end he employs all his efforts to prevent man’s access to Grace: to Baptism and Faith, and then to prevent his growth in Grace, that is his perfection in Charity, by acts of virtue. This he does by obstructing man and by tempting him into sin.
Guided by God, men live their earthly life to the full in peace and happiness; guided by the Devil their life is empty, meaningless, chaotic, harmful and destructive: ‘their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and unhappiness in their ways’ (Ps.13). Our words about impurity above may serve as an illustration of this truth; those who engage in it are like the heretics whom St. Jude (vv.12-3) compares to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah: ‘…clouds without water, which are carried about by winds, trees of the autumn, unfruitful, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion; wandering stars, to whom the storm of darkness is reserved forever.’
At life’s end in Heaven man attains to perfection of being, to fullness of life, and the happiness which flows from it, in the vision of God; in Hell, by contrast, there is only the negation of being and life: living annihilation and living death.
What we have said about individual men clearly applies equally to the family and to society itself, of which, as we noted above, the family is the constitutive cell. This we can see with particular clarity in relation to the destruction inflicted by abortion: What future can a society have that destroys its own children?
But are we witnessing the destruction not only of individual societies, but of society and of civilisation as a whole? Is the sun really ‘setting on mankind’ as Benedict XVI has stated?
There are reasons for thinking so. We refer to the words of Monsignor Gaume in the Traité du Saint-Esprit (Vol.I ch.18) about three deluges: that of Noah, by water; that of the pagan world, by blood; and that of modern society by fire: ‘… the ruin of the apostate world of Christendom by the deluge of fire which will bring to an end the existence of the human race on the globe. Trampling underfoot the merits of Calvary and the benefits of the Cenacle, the world of the last days will set itself up in full revolt against the Spirit of Good. More than ever enslaved to the Spirit of Evil, it will consign itself with a hitherto unknown cynicism to all form of iniquities. Such will be the number of deserters that the City of Good will be almost entirely abandoned and the city of Evil will assume colossal proportions…’
The learned and enlightened prelate notes that all three deluges are deluges where ‘man becomes flesh’. He quotes Genesis (6.3): ‘My spirit shall not remain in man for ever, because he is flesh’ together with the comment of St. Ambrose: ‘Diluvium carnis peperit diluvium aquae’. The same is clearly true of the second deluge as also of our present society. We add that amongst the various sins of the flesh, unnatural impurity plays a significant part in all three cases: with Sodom and Gomorrah in the first case; in the last days of Rome in the account of the City of God by St. Augustine in the second case; and of course in the present world in the third case.
Although the World and large sections of the Church may to-day lie in darkness, we are not, and shall not, be engulfed in it. ‘The light shineth in the darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it’ (Jn. 1.5). As St. Paul writes (I Thess. 5. 4-8): ‘But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. For all you are the children of light and children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do: but let us watch, and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breast-plate of faith and charity, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation.’
We shall not be engulfed in the darkness of the World, no, but we will occupy ourselves with the business of our salvation. In so doing we shall also be the light of the world to those around us, as Our Blessed Lord commands us, and as St. Paul states (Phil. 2.15): ‘That you may be blameless and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: among whom you shine as lights in the world’.
We conclude this essay with a quotation from perhaps the most profound book on the Roman Rite: ‘The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass’ by the Revd. Dr. Nikolaus Gihr, Herder 1938, (Bk.1 ch.3 a.3, s.2, p.226), a quotation which should inspire in us the self-same Christian sentiments:
‘No pen is able to describe the ardent zeal, the generosity, the energy, the purity of heart and greatness of soul, the magnanimity and meekness, the patience and self-denial – in short, the spirit and love of sacrifice which have flowed forth from the altar for more than eighteen centuries, and made of millions of the children of the Church living holy sacrifices, pleasing unto God (Rom. 12,1).
We too should aspire to be of the number of these her good children, who constitute her crown and joy (Phil. 4,1); we should make ourselves a sacrifice unto God and for our fellow-men by leading a life pure and chaste, active and patient, devout and charitable – a life of sacrifice. Can the life of the true children of God and of the Church in an anti-Christian age and in a world estranged from God be anything than a life of continual sacrifice? ‘All that will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution’ (2. Tim. 3,12).
Only in the glow of fire does incense exhale its sweet odours, only in the crucible does gold acquire its purity and lustre; thus also must we be tested, purified and proved in the crucible of suffering and tribulation, that the fruitful seeds of virtue may blossom in us, and that we may attain eternal joy and glory.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Don Pietro Leone
With thanks to Rorate Caeli