The Devil you don’t know is the problem

Mainstream media doesn’t talk too much about the Devil. That is probably because they don’t believe much in anything that they can’t see, touch, taste or hear. He is happy enough with that. He is happy so long as they give plenty of publicity to the things he does – or the things which he can get us poor mortals to cooperate with him in doing while he remains in the shadows. The media do plenty of that. In fact, doing it is a fair share of their bread and butter.

But the Pope does talk a good deal about the Devil – and did so again last week. Again, the mainstream media did not pay too much attention. It is a pity – for he was getting close enough to accusing them of cooperating with this great Deceiver.

Vatican News reported that in a homily during his Mass at Casa Santa Marta on 11 September, the Pope told bishops that they seem to be under attack from the devil. He said: “In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops.”

The pope was not defending the crimes or misdemeanors of anyone. He was indeed saying that what had been done by ministers of Christ’s Church – which Christians believe is Christ’s own Mystical Body – was something far greater than crimes and misdemeanors. They were sins. “Sins”? That’s another word that doesn’t appear very often in mainstream media.

The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s searing account of the 24 hours over which Christ’s arrest, trial and execution took place is, for many, very hard to watch. That is a pity. It teaches a very valuable lesson – showing, as it does, the true consequences of sin. Crimes and misdemeanors are the constructs of human lawmakers and are measured by the offence they give to man. Sin is measured on a scale which transcends the laws of man. It is on a scale which for its atonement required all the sacrifice portrayed in The Passion – and even that did not reach the infinite depth of the terrible thing that sin is.

Crimes against humanity are terrible, but ultimately they are terrible because they are sins – offences to, denials of, the loving, merciful and infinite God. Their origin is always to be found in one source – the one who first denied that God, the “father of lies”, whose burning passion is to make us all follow in his footsteps.

The Pope seemed to be reminding us that the Devil wields a double edged sword – first he gets us to offend God by our despicable and unspeakable acts. Then he gets us to offend him again with the scandal we give to others, causing them to lose their Faith in Him.

Knowing very well the words of Sacred Scripture, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”, (1. John 1. 8), Pope Francis said in that homily, “True, we are all sinners, we bishops.” But the Devil “tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The Great Accuser, as he is described in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse’”.

This is calling it as it is. Remember these words: “it must needs be that scandal comes – but woe to him through whom it comes.” Yes, woe! The great dilemma for any journalist as he confronts wrong-doing in this world, the evil that men do, is how to justly report this and at the same time not do more evil by reporting it. There is no question but that justice often requires the reporting of injustice. But doing so with integrity makes onerous demands on those who choose to carry this responsibility.

If, for you, the Devil is a figment of our the imagination then what the Pope is saying will be a great deal of nonsense. But if Lucifer is part of the real world then these are words which should have been spoken long ago about the nature of the times we live in. The prophets of old spoke words like these to the elites of their time. One third of the meaning and function of the office of the Vicar of Christ on earth is to do the same. As such, he is Priest, Prophet and King. That was the symbolic meaning of the triple crown popes used to wear. The crown may be a thing of the past. The meaning of the office remains what it always was.

Many of the prophets of old were killed for exercising their teaching role – which is what prophesy is all about. Who was behind their killing? Who is behind every martyrdom? Christians have an answer to that question and they know it to be true by virtue of the Faith which they profess.

Evil has never been absent from the world. It never will be absent until the “end days” when it will finally be vanquished. The world recognises evil but does not recognise it for what it is, Evil. Men cooperate in and with Evil but we fool ourselves in thinking that we are the sole agent in the evil actions we perpetrate. We are not.

We might hope that these words of Pope Francis, the Supreme Prophet of our time, will awaken from slumber those who profess to know that the Great Accuser exists but go about their business as though he didn’t. If they read the signs of his existence a little more carefully they might be in a better position to convince those who do not profess a faith in anything – other than their own judgment – that something else is needed to unravel the evils we have to confront.

The best way for bishops to fight the evils around them, he added, is by being men of prayer who remain close to the people, and who have the humility to remember they were chosen by God. He went on to say that prayer is “a bishop’s consolation in difficult times,” because “Jesus is praying for me and for all bishops.”

“Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.”

Now, even as he spoke these words calling for a spiritual response to the evils the Church has been beset by, the Pope is diving in with hands-on measures to deal with the institutional malaise apparently affecting many of those who administer – and those who have mismanaged – the affairs of the Church. Catholic leaders from around the world will assemble at the Vatican this next February for a summit to finally contend with the global crisis of sexual behavior of clerics. Leaders from each bishops’ conference around the world will convene at the Vatican for an emergency meeting to discuss the Church’s handling of widespread clerical sex abuse of children over the past several decades.

Don’t hold your breath if you are waiting for a similar response from all those other organiszations and institutions – state agencies, media organiszations, sporting organiszations – which have been found to harbour abusers of one kind or another . Their mea culpas are few and far between.

This unprecedented meeting in Rome in February is seen by many as showing that the Vatican is finally treating the sex abuse crisis as a global, not a localised, crisis. Of course it is global; the Great Accuser does not recognisze borders.

The Devil, probably

Calling it as it is. Remember these words: “it must needs be that scandal comes – but woe to him through whom it comes.” Yes woe! Pope Francis tells us the Great Accuser is trying to uncover sins to cause scandal.

If, for you, the Devil is a figment of our imagination then what the Pope is saying will be a great deal of nonsense. But if Lucifer is part of the real world then these are words which should have been spoken long ago about the nature of the times we live in. The prophets of old spoke words like these to the elites of their time. One third of the meaning and function of the office of the Vicar of Christ on earth is to do the same.

The prophets of old were killed for doing so. Who was behind that?

Evil has never been absent from the world. It never will be absent until the “end days” when it will finally be vanquished. The world recognises evil but does not recognise it for what it is, Evil. Men cooperate in and with Evil but fool themselves in thinking that they are the sole agent in the evil actions we perpetrate. They are not.

We might hope that these words of Pope Francis, the Supreme Prophet of our time, will awaken from slumber those who profess to believe that the Great Accuser is hard at work in our time. If they do they may be in a better position to convince those who do not profess a faith in anything other than their own judgement that something else is needed to unravel the evils we have to confront.

Read the Catholic Herald Report here.

Hollywood- a town ruled by fear?

I have read and now just watched Mark Cousins’ exhaustive Story of Film – all five DVD disks of it. It is very, very comprehensive. Hollywood is well and truly put in its place in this account of the history of cinema. It played its part – a leading part in some decades but now really a bit player in the history of this art.

The trouble is that it still wields power. This story, from National Review, gives us some sense of the weak and dishonest culture which allows it to continue to crush goodness, beauty and truth. The truth about abortion is one of its casualties. But maybe its conspiracy of silence is about to be broken at last.

“It is nearly impossible to find an adult person who does not have an opinion on the issue of abortion, and yet how little we all know about it — how it is done, what the laws are surrounding it, how it is regulated, legislated, and practiced. I wanted to share that knowledge.”

To do so he produced Gosnell.

Read his story here.

I wonder if his subversive production might not figure in the next edition of Cousins’ book, which is in its own way a history, not of an entertainment industry but a history of the subversion of culture, good, bad and indifferent.

Irish pro-abortion Government now under pressure to legislate for abortion without limits

Ireland’s Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar

Having voted to give its parliament the authority to legalise abortion, pressure is now being put on those lawmakers to remove all legal restrictions on the termination of the life of the unborn.

That is the implication of a recommendation being made by a new pro abortion group of academics. The Iona Institute highlights this in a post published this week. It points out in relation to the currently proposed new law:

The General Scheme of the abortion Bill is one of the most permissive in the Western world but four pro-choice academics and activists have published a position paper asking to make it even more so.

The proposed law will allow abortion up to 12 weeks for any reason and up to viability if there is a ‘risk of serious harm’ or to the life of the woman. The word ‘risk’ is in no way qualified. Abortion would remain a criminal offence if performed outside the wide limits of the law.

Claiming that Ireland would maintain “one of the most punitive abortion laws in the world” if the Scheme is approved without changes, the pro-choice academics ask for the removal of any criminal penalty because it may generate a ‘chilling effect’ on some doctors and also it may raise the prospect of ‘stings’ by anti-abortion activists, they claim.

But with decriminalisation, no abortion will be a criminal offence, not even an abortion that takes place on the cusp of birth and doesn’t have even the appearance of a ‘health’ justification.

Read the full Iona post here.

What should change, what must change and what cannot change.

Hubris and the fate of Icarus

Maria Steen, one of Ireland’s most stalwart defenders of truth and life, reflected on the meaning and importance of Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland last weekend in an Irish Times article this week.

As well as being a hopeful sign that her recent and relatively frequent columns in that paper might suggest that this dreadfully biased medium might be beginning to serve the reading public more honestly, her article was a reading of the Pope’s visit which took us deeper than most.

Read the entire article to get its full value. Her concluding remarks on the “hubris of our age” and the struggle now going on among all those who consider themselves Catholic over what reform of the Church should mean are particularly apt:

The hope of change that those calling for doctrinal reform seek is not personal change, but rather that the church deny fundamental truths to accommodate their ways of living. This is an old project.

St Paul wrote: “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

In Utopia, St Thomas More talked of how men would rather not change to conform to Christ’s rule, but instead prefer to bend it, as if it were a leaden yardstick, to suit themselves. Both he and St John Fisher – the only bishop in England to remain faithful to church teaching on marriage in the face of the persecution of Henry VIII – felt just how unaccommodating those who seek to accommodate Christ’s teaching to the way they live can be.

The hubris of our age is the idea that moral progress has tracked technological progress, so that our behaviour becomes the criterion by reference to which church teaching is to be judged, rather than the other way around.

Those who, in their arrogance and pride, believe themselves to be above God’s law are never far from abuse. This is what allowed abuses – clearly contrary to the law of the church – to be perpetrated and facilitated in the past.

Instead, the Christian is called to humility – which involves sacrificing oneself and one’s immediate desires to a greater cause. In a materialistic “throwaway” age, this message is a hard sell. How many really want to sacrifice immediate personal gratification for someone else or something greater?

And yet that is the message at the heart of the Christian family: duty, sacrifice and, above all, love.

What happens next?

Does this Minister not realise how close to totalitarianism he and this deceitful self-serving Government is bringing us. When a government minister says free speech must “stop” what happens next?

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/analysis/minister-should-not-feel-threatened-by-catholic-church-imparting-its-doctrines-to-the-faithful-of-all-ages-860561.html

Minister should not feel threatened by Catholic Church imparting its doctrines to the faithful of all ages

irishexaminer.com

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Voices in the wilderness

400px-brueghel_l27ancien_-_la_prc3a9dication_de_saint_jean-baptiste

Who in this secular age can hear these voices crying in the wilderness? Who can deny, in good faith, that they tell us truths on which the future well-being of our race depends, indeed the very preservation of our civilization?

First, these words, written just over twenty years ago and rooted in Christian anthropology:

 It must never be forgotten that the disordered use of sex tends progressively to destroy the person’s capacity to love by making pleasure, instead of sincere self-giving, the end of sexuality and by reducing other persons to objects of one’s own gratification. In this way the meaning of true love between a man and a woman (love always open to life) is weakened as well as the family itself. Moreover, this subsequently leads to disdain for the human life which could be conceived, which, in some situations, is then regarded as an evil that threatens personal pleasure. “The trivialization of sexuality is among the principal factors which have led to contempt for new life. Only a true love is able to protect life”.[i]

Who would have thought that in the space of those twenty odd years, this understanding of our nature and the foundations of our society would have been denied and forgotten so emphatically by a majority of the people of Ireland?

What has happened to cause this change, essentially a change in our perception of what it is to be human in the fullest sense, a radical change in the way we understand ourselves and our nature? Can it be the answer lies in these other words, also now heard only in the wilderness?

Now, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God. Which things also we speak: not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God. For it is foolishness to him: and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined.[ii]

Those were the words of St. Paul addressing the first followers of the Christian Way in the City of Corinth. They also, it appears, had lost their grasp of what that Way said about the human condition in this world and what the choices it presented to them obliged them to do. A four hundred year old note of explanation on that text clarifies what he meant:

The sensual man—the spiritual man. . .The sensual man is either he who is taken up with sensual pleasures, with carnal and worldly affections; or he who measureth divine mysteries by natural reason, sense, and human wisdom only. Now such a man has little or no notion of the things of God. Whereas the spiritual man is he who, in the mysteries of religion, takes not human sense for his guide: but submits his judgment to the decisions of the church, which he is commanded to hear and obey. For Christ hath promised to remain to the end of the world with his church, and to direct her in all things by the Spirit of truth.[iii]

Choice is good but choices have consequences and it is the consequences of our choices that are ultimately more important than whether or not we have the freedom to choose. The consequences of ignoring that the disordered use of sex tends progressively to destroy the person’s capacity to love will be far more devastating for both individual lives and for our society that would be any restrictions our laws might put on our right to choose freely life-styles which institutionalize the abuse of our nature.

But if our society, in its laws, customs and practices, does ignore the principles of good and evil all is not lost. The individual need not lose sight of those principles and this is precisely why adherence to the single greatest body of knowledge articulating moral truth to which history bears witness stands with us to protect us from the evils our folly might otherwise bring down upon ourselves. That body of knowledge is contained in the Magisterium of the Christ’s Church – its Sacred Scriptures and Traditions.

So those in Ireland today, indeed all of those throughout the world, who find themselves perplexed and bewildered by the insanities spewing out of modernity, post-modernity and cultural Marxism, do have a solution. Listen to the voices which are echoing in the wilderness created by those cultural aberrations and in thought word and deed try to live by them. The message of love at their heart – demanding and utterly counter-cultural as it is in this day and age – has the key to the future of our civilization just as it did in the day of the prophets of the Old Testament, in the New Testament when it was newly new, and in countless epochs since then when cultural forces were captivated by those who measure divine mysteries by natural reason, sense, and human wisdom only.

[i] THE TRUTH AND MEANING OF HUMAN SEXUALITY: Guidelines for Education within the Family, (section 105), THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY.

[ii]  New Testament, Douay-Rheims, 1 Corinthians 2. 12ff

[iii]  Ibid. Archbishop Challoner note on 1 Corinthians 2.

Robert George recalls the warning words of a great and wise man

On June 8, 1978, a man with a craggy face and a beard came to Harvard University, where I was then a graduate student, to give the annual commencement address. The man was not a Harvard graduate. He was not a professor. He was not an American. He did not speak English. His address, given in his native Russian with simultaneous English translation, was not universally well-received. I suspect that some Harvard officials regretted their decision to invite him to speak.

The man’s name was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He was a brilliant novelist who had spent several years as a political prisoner in the gulag in the Soviet Union. He was a strong Orthodox Christian and a fierce critic of atheistic communism and Soviet tyranny. His writings had exposed the corruption, cruelty, and injustice of the communist regime that had come to power in Russia in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and would remain in power until 1989—a regime that had enslaved its own people and reduced those of many other nations to serfdom under puppet governments. It was a regime as totalitarian and as murderous as the Nazi regime in Germany, which the U.S. and Britain had allied with the Soviets in World War II to defeat.

In 1978, the Cold War was raging, and the U.S. was still reeling from its humiliation in the disastrous war in Vietnam. Anti-Americanism was flourishing both abroad and at home. Many Americans—particularly young Americans—had lost faith in their country, its institutions, its principles, its culture, its traditions, its way of life. Some proposed communism as a superior system; many suggested what came to be known as “moral equivalency” between American democracy and Soviet communism. By 1978, to suggest such equivalency had become a mark of sophistication—something to distinguish one from the allegedly backward hicks and rubes who believed in the superiority of the American to the Soviet system. There were many such “sophisticated” people at Harvard. And Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn came to Harvard to confront them and others.

His speech was not, however, an encomium to America or the West. On the contrary, it was a severe critique—one might even say a prophetic rebuke—and a warning. Of course, Solzhenitsyn did not argue for the moral equivalency, much less the superiority, of the Soviet system. He hated communism in all its dimensions and he loathed the gangsters who ruled the Soviet empire. What he faulted America (and the West more generally) for was its abandonment of its own moral and, especially, spiritual ideals and identity.

Read Robert P. George’s complete article in First Things here.

Is this what the denial of unconditional love for both really means?

support-mothers-protect-babies
REJECTED IN THE NEW RACISM

Ireland is a country divided in a divided world. The Republic of Ireland is not a fraction as divided from those six counties of Ulster in the United Kingdom, as it is by the division  between the adherents of post-sixties modernity, and the adherents of a Christian culture which has been the hallmark of Western civilization for 2000 years. A cold, cold civil war continues unabated in Ireland. It is not a pleasant thought, but this conflict is nothing more or less than a race war, symbolized by the chilling rejection by two thirds of its voting electorate of the LoveBoth logo of the defenders of the right to life of human beings in their mothers’ wombs.

Any among the LoveBoth campaigners who happened to be able to endure the triumphalism of the victors in that historic referendum, will have wondered where their citizenship went last Saturday morning when they heard a (fairly) famous Irish journalist proclaim that at last Ireland was now “one nation”.

Yesterday, after a walk along St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, I posted what amounted to a kind of cry for help on social media, the only way I could find at the time of dealing with a troubling existential experience.

I admitted that I was unable to look at the faces of those who passed me. The thought that two in every three were prepared to allow the killing of children in the womb was too potent a spark for enmity for me to deal with. I just had to look away. God help us! I said.

It struck a chord with a good number of people. One in particular, from the other side of the divide, seemed to want to help me bridge the chasm I was facing.

“Can I ask a genuine question?” She said. “How do you feel Irish society can move forward together following the referendum as there are such strong feelings on both sides?”

For my part, I could only reply to this effect, “I just don’t know. I am doing my best to resist hostility – of which we are receiving so much it makes it very difficult. The objective moral reality of this is shattering.”

She responded, disclosing formally that she was “pro-choice” – which I knew already –  saying that what concerned her was the ongoing split and that there didn’t seem to be any answers. “I…would like to think there is some way forward for all that is less divisive than (what) is happening now. Hopefully for all our sakes a more harmonious future awaits!” I felt unable to offer that hope. Why?

One of the biggest obstacles Ireland – and indeed the rest of the Western world faces when it comes to this particular battle in our ongoing culture war – is that there is no basis for dialogue so long as one side refuses to engage with the other on the central issue of identity at its heart. Throughout the campaign in Ireland the pro-abortion side studiously avoided using the word “baby”, the word “child”, even the word “mother”. What we got instead, constantly and repeatedly at every turn, were the words “health”, “compassion”,  “choice” and “my body”.

At the evil heart of racism resides the irrational conviction that one category of human being is less than – or not at all a member of – our own species. History is replete with many sad examples of the consequences of racism: in another era, the English treatment of the Celtic peoples in general, and the Irish in particular, over many centuries; the enslavement of Africans over centuries of colonialism, working its way through the bloody American Civil War and only ending in that hemisphere – legally at least – with the civil rights legislation of relatively recent times, and with the end of apartheid in ours.

Wherever racism was rampant, for the length of time it took to overcome it, the members of the dominant strain of our species who fought against this evil force and identified with the oppressed, were abused and sometimes persecuted and murdered for their acceptance of the common humanity which they dared to proclaim. For as long as racism persists,  racists refuse to debate the central premise of those who oppose them – the undeniable human identity of those it wishes to ignore, oppress, or, as in the case of Nazi Germany, eliminate altogether.

In the Irish referendum just concluded we have just had the latest example of this phenomenon. The defenders of the unborn humans in the wombs of their mothers again and again, scientifically, instinctively, morally, presented the case for the human identity of the gestating child. Again and again their arguments were sidestepped and ignored. There was no debate. For one side the child in the womb was simply not human, not of our race, so therefore the constitutional right to life enjoyed by those already born could not and should not be extended to these essentially alien things, mere invading “clumps of cells”. Now Ireland’s lawmakers are getting ready, on the basis of a mandate from two-thirds of the electorate, to pass a law to facilitate the killing of any among these non-beings whom other human beings decide should not live. All those who resist them will be deemed not part of the Irish nation and sidelined – at best.

Am I wrong in equating this reality with racism? I may be. But until someone is prepared to come and talk to me about it, and show me the error of my ways, I cannot move from where I stand – for to me it seems exactly where we are.

The legend of Parsifal tells the story of a wound inflicted on mankind – in the person of King Amfortas. The wound festers and resists all attempts to heal it until the one true and pure knight, Parsifal, is found. He, the embodiment of truth, innocence and simplicity heals Amfortas and humanity.

Ireland, and indeed the secularist West as a whole, is inflicted with a deep and festering wound at whose heart lies the central issue in the debate over abortion, recognition of the human identity of the unborn. Until such time as a knight like Parsifal comes to our aid and gets us to face our willful cowardice in the face of this truth, then our crippling divisions will persist with all the pain that goes with them.

COMMENTS

This article also appeared on the website, MercatorNet.com, where it attracted the following comments:

There is and will be a way to bridge the split. It is the one being realized in every pro-abortion country. It is called pragmatism. Being pro-abortion does not and cannot work. Ireland once was abundant in energetic intelligent people. They were Ireland’s only natural resource but with that resource they outpaced many countries like the Ukraine that has all the resources but insufficient people. Because you cannot run a free market economy with a declining population, I assure you that Ireland’s economy will decline exponentially as its population declines. Moreover because an abortion is only and always detrimental to the health of a woman, Ireland’s health care budget will spiral up which will put increasing pressure on health care providers to give their elders an early, dignified of course, death. All this and more will be realized all too late to reverse the trend. Don’t believe me? Ask any citizen of a Nordic country.

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  • NOTE: The picture appears to be from a previous referendum held in 2002 which tried to tighten the laws around abortion.

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    “Am I wrong in equating this reality with racism?”

    No, good point – and, similarly, in equating it to slavery too where one individual exists for or at the convenience of the other.