Saturday, August 27, 2011

Excerpt from The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God

Did you ever notice that when people take issue with Catholic teaching, rarely does it concern the Hypostatic Union, the Vatican’s guidelines on road rage, or the Vatican Conference on Extraterrestrial Life? No, those things with which they take issue bear directly or vicariously on their sexual lives — homosexuality, same-sex “marriage,” premarital sex, adultery, contraception, masturbation, population control, abortion, divorce, remarriage, in vitro fertilization, etc. Remember Our Lord’s words on this: "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."  Recall too that, as Fr. Charles Curran has reminded us, dissent from Humanae Vitae “was paradigmatic of the dissent in all specific moral questions.” My advice to those who still doubt in our sexually-befuddled world is that it is a fatal error not to observe “how Lucifer actually works and why he is so intent on perverting our sexuality.”  Indeed, a Catholic understanding of human sexuality gives us “a glimpse of the ‘great mystery’ of God’s plan to unite all things in Christ.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Divide et Impera

The schema of “liberal” (progressive, left) vs. conservative (traditional, right) which followed upon the close of Vatican II is wholly inadequate for explaining the present-day crisis of faith within the Church of Jesus Christ, though it is most unfortunate that usage of these terms persist among many Catholics and in the media today. Division within Christ’s Church is a clear attack by the evil one. Satan’s strategy here is the time-honored one of divide et impera - divide and conquer. Remember, too, Jesus ’ words to the Pharisees: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Quite simply, no ideology, no matter how sincerely embraced, may substitute for personal conversion.

 

Monday, August 22, 2011

"The Spirit of Vatican II"

My advice to one confronted with doubt sown by those who make reference to “correct interpretations of Vatican II” is to reflect closely upon the words of John Paul II:

With the Council, the Church first had an experience of faith, as she abandoned herself to God without reserve, as one who trusts and is certain of being loved. It is precisely this act of abandonment to God which stands out from an objective examination of the Acts. Anyone who wished to approach the Council without considering this interpretive key would be unable to penetrate its depths. Only from a faith perspective can we see the Council event as a gift whose still hidden wealth we must know how to mine.

In short, it is this abandonment, this interpretive faith perspective that is woefully lacking in many who would offer to explain what the Council taught in “the spirit of Vatican II.” Watch here to see what abandonment looks like!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libido

Paul VI remarked that  the libido was a classic crack in one's spiritual armor that Satan uses to capture souls. Naomi Wolf (though perhaps unbeknownst to her) sheds some light here in her The Porn Myth:
"The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as 'porn-worthy.' Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention. Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it...."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

John Paul the Great on Spiritual Warfare

In preaching the Papal retreat for 1976, Cardinal Wojtyla warned of “rebellion,” i.e., the apostasy of the present age, the source for the present crisis of faith facing the Church. I believe it is consistent with Church teaching on spiritual warfare to see in St. Paul’s “son of perdition” one who would lead humanity away from the Church toward a humanist, man-centered world-view claiming the right of authorship of the moral law. This also explains why those who dissent from Church doctrine and the authority of the magisterium claim an amorphous “spirit of Vatican II” (an “anti-word?”) as their authority for what amounts to unbelief. In our own time the reader perhaps has experienced the war for the soul of men waged between the authentic Christian humanism of the Gospel, which permeates the teaching of John Paul the Great, and the “new humanism” which violates the rights of God as true Author of all that is good. John Paul II had it just right: “Without the Creator, the creature vanishes.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

For Catholics Doubting Satan's existence

I just opened a biography of Heinrich Himmler, a baptized Catholic and eventual head of Hitler's SS during WWII. I was surprised to find the following in the leaf opening the book;

  "whoever today still doubts the real existence of demonic powers
                     has widely misunderstood the metaphysical background to this
                     war. Behind the concrete, behind material perceptions, behind all
                     factual, logical considerations stands the irrational i.e. the baffle
                     against the demon, against the emissaries of the Anti-Christ." 
                      (from a leaflet of the White Rose, Munich, February 1943)
 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do you believe in Satan?

A 1997 survey of beliefs about Satan revealed that 69 percent of Catholics believe that “Satan is only a symbol of evil;” only 26% believing that “Satan is a living being.” Paul VI instructs us that the former position is “a departure from the picture provided by biblical Church teaching.…” This appears as one little “crack in the wall” through which the smoke could enter: belief in the Devil makes for bad cosmology! Priests, catechists and religious who take the Devil lightly are indeed the easiest target for what St. Paul termed “the mystery of iniquity.” What the Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur taught me regarding the reality of the Devil prior to Vatican II proved no different from what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us today:

The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free[emphasis added]. Original sin entails 'captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil. Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action and morals.

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Liberal Catholic? Conservative Catholic? Or just plain ol' Roman Catholic?

From "The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God":
During the course of my prior catechetical career I spoke often with parents, colleagues, and parishioners about catechesis and the Church. Stereotypical remarks in these conversations ran as follows: “Oh, I hear the principal is a liberal Catholic,” or “the teachers at my previous job were all from the Catholic Right,” or “Isn’t the new Pope a fundamentalist conservative?” The principal so-called “liberal” groups in the public square today are Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, Women‘s Ordination Conference, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and Catholics for a Free Choice. During the homosexual priest scandals in 2003, the American media sought out almost exclusively representatives of these groups and priests and religious sympathetic to their views as spokespersons for the Church. Among those (mis)labeled by the “liberal-progressive-leftists” as “conservative-traditional-rightist” are Catholics United for the Faith, Regnum Christi, Women for Faith and Family, the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Opus Dei, The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, Priests for Life, the Sisters of Life, and the Eternal Word Television Network.As I hope to show, their terminology misses the mark; rather, it would more accurately fit the Society of Pius X.  To see through this smokescreen we must look to the origins of this division among Catholics.

Friday, August 5, 2011

From "The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God"

….At the close of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI remarked that Christianity, the religion of God-Incarnate, had encountered the religion of man-made God. He was of the opinion that much of the Council was given over to demonstrating the compatibility of Enlightenment belief with Catholicism. Several years hence, on June 29, 1972, Paul delivered another assessment of the state of the Roman Catholic Church since the close of Vatican II. As Cardinal Silvio Oddi recalled it (in an article first published on March 17, 1990, in Il Sabato magazine in Rome) the Holy Father told a congregation:

We have the impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God: it is doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatisfaction, confrontation. And how did this come about? We will confide to you the thought that may be, we ourselves admit in free discussion, that may be unfounded, and that is that there has been a power, an adversary power. Let us call him by his name: the devil. We thought that after the Council a day of sunshine would have dawned for the history of the Church. What dawned instead was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and uncertainties.

His fears of demonic penetration of the Church were even stronger in a later statement:

The opening to the world [aggiornamento or “updating”] became a veritable invasion of the Church by worldly thinking....We have perhaps been too weak and imprudent.

Following these remarks we have a further address given by the Pope to a general audience in November, 1972 which sheds much light on what the Holy Father had in mind and heart in referring to “the smoke of Satan.” It deserves careful reflection, and so is quoted at length. The Holy Father began:

What are the Church's greatest needs at the present time? Don't be surprised at Our answer and don't write it off as simplistic or even superstitious: one of the Church's greatest needs is to be defended against the evil we call the Devil.

After discussing the goodness of God’s creation, the fall, and the problem of evil in a world created good, and man’s capacity to do evil, he continued:

We come face to face with sin which is a perversion of human freedom and the profound cause of death because it involves detachment from God, the source of life. And then sin in its turn becomes the occasion and the effect of interference in us and our work by a dark, hostile agent, the Devil. Evil is not merely an absence of something but an active force, a living, spiritual being that is perverted and that perverts others. It is a terrible reality, mysterious and frightening.

It is a departure from the picture provided by biblical Church teaching to refuse to knowledge the Devil's existence; to regard him as a self-sustaining principle who, unlike other creatures, does not owe his origin to God; or to explain the Devil as a pseudo-reality, a conceptual, fanciful personification of the unknown causes of our misfortunes. When the problem of evil is seen in all its complexity and in its absurdity from the point of view of our limited minds, it becomes an obsession. It poses the greatest single obstacle to our religious understanding of the universe It is no accident that St. Augustine was bothered by this for years: "I sought the source of evil, and I found no explanation.”

And so it was that Paul VI became of a mind that by 1972 an “adversary power” which he called by his name - the Devil - had entered the Church. (cf. Job 1:6; Satan means “the opponent” or “adversary” ) How so? For starters, Bishop Fulton Sheen warned us in his popular retelling of the life of Christ, The Eternal Galilean: "Do not mock the Gospels and say there is no Satan. Evil is too real in the world to say that. Do not say the idea of Satan is dead and gone. Satan never gains so many cohorts as when, in his shrewdness, he spreads the rumor that he is long since dead." Such an attitude only leaves the devil freer than he would otherwise be to work to gain souls for hell. “I am who am not.”
A 1997 survey of beliefs about Satan revealed that 69 percent of Catholics believe that “Satan is only a symbol of evil;” only 26% believing that “Satan is a living being.” Pope Paul instructs us that the former position is “a departure from the picture provided by biblical Church teaching.…” This appears as one little “crack in the wall” through which the smoke could enter: belief in the Devil makes for bad cosmology! Priests, catechists and religious who take the Devil lightly are indeed the easiest target for what St. Paul termed “the mystery of iniquity.” What the Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur taught me regarding the reality of the Devil prior to Vatican II proved no different from what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us today:
The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free[emphasis added]. Original sin entails 'captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil. Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action and morals .
This originally good angel, the Devil, is a powerful spiritual creature whose goal is to destroy us by turning us against the Father. Christians refer to him every time they pray the Lord’s Prayer—“deliver us from evil” refers to the Evil One, of and to whom Jesus spoke regularly in the Gospels, the angel who opposes his Father. The Catechism broadens this teaching, noting that “heresy, apostasy, and schism--do not occur without human sin: Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes.” Thirty years of teaching in Catholic schools , all of them since the time of Vatican II, has taught me that the Church has witnessed the aforementioned errors in the Sacred Liturgy, religious life, catechesis, social action, and morals, all of which have divided the People of God.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Greetings in the Lord!

Well, folks, here I am attempting to learn the world of blogging to promote a manuscript for publication of The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God, a book which I wrote over the last ten summer vacations from my day job as a history teacher. It is described at right. As I was perusing various Catholic blog sites, I noticed a post by Fr. Longenecker back in January of this year entitled, "The Smoke of Satan." If one troubles oneself to read Fr.'s quite accurate assessment, and becomes interested in just exactly how, according to the Pope who coined the phrase "Smoke of Satan" the Devil made his entrance into the post-Vatican II Church in the U.S., then my book is just what the Dr. ordered.