Rough cuts from Act II of the coming documentary Divine Beauty, which is in post-production.
Rough cuts from Act II of the coming documentary Divine Beauty, which is in post-production.
Some rough cuts from production of the Catholic documentary Divine Beauty, which is in full swing. The cuts show the interior of the Basilica of Saint George, Victoria, Gozo.
The above phrase is how traditionalist American Catholics are addressing non-traditionalist Catholics these days. In their hatred for the different other, a hatred that knows no bounds for those who do not think like them, these Catholics fail to realize that in rejecting their brethren with the above words, they are rejecting Christ Himself whom they so claim to love. Tertullian said that you would know Christians by their love for one another. The 21st century corollary to that is you will know traditionalist American Catholics by their hatred because it is the only thing that seems to reside in their hypocritical and prideful hearts. They have forgotten Christ’s words: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven.”
Just as when the fullness of time had arrived, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, heard the people screaming without abatement toward Him, “Crucify Him, crucify Him! He is a blasphemer, crucify Him!” so that the pathway to the Kingdom could be reopened for all humankind, so now does the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, the Head of the visible Church on earth, hear the rabid Judases within the Catholic Church similarly scream, “Crucify him, crucify him! He is a heretic, crucify Him!” Only in this way, through his Passion in the fullness of our time, shall the coming of the Kingdom on earth arrive.
Like the Master, the servant. Pray for Pope Francis that he remains strong in the face of his adversaries who are many, filled with hatred, and ruthless in their raging pride.
Some, even in the Catholic Church itself, are claiming openly that we are at the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This claim is demonstrably false.
First, no one knows the exact time of the end – the day and the hour – not even the Son; only the Almighty Father knows (Mt 24:36, Mk 13:32). Anyone who claims otherwise has either been deceived, is an outright liar, or is a drunk – or thinks he knows more than God and can revise Scripture.
Second, before the very time of the end, the era of peace – the era of the reign of Spirit, the era of the fourth stage of deification, the Kingdom of the Divine Will on earth – as described in Revelation 20 has to occur. It has not yet come. Only after that time period will the final battle take place, followed by the Second Coming of Christ in glory.
Third, the global illumination of all consciences as described in Joel 3:12 has not yet taken place. That illumination takes place before the Second Coming.
Fourth, as a consequence of the global illumination of consciences, all the various Christian denominations will unite under the aegis of the Catholic Church. All the schisms will be healed. Judaism and Christianity will also become united (CCC §674). This shall take place so that the light of the Gospel can reach all nations. It will take place before the final battle and the Second Coming. As we can see, none of that has yet occurred. Neither has the Great Persecution.
So, all of the above beg the question, “Where are we in salvation history?”
Ours, right now, is the time of the Third Passover – that time of the intermediate coming of Christ. What we are going through are the labor pains to usher in the era of peace, the era of the reign of the Father in the heart of the souls, the nous, of humanity. Here is a part from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s writings to clarify things for you about our present time:
At an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come . . . Do not just think about his first coming when he came “to seek and to save the lost;” think, too, of that other coming when he will come to take us with him . . . But there is a third coming between the two to which I have referred and those who know of it can rest in it for their greater happiness. The other two are visible but this one is not. In the first, “the Lord has appeared on earth and has spoken to us;” . . . in the last, “all mankind shall see the salvation of God.” But the one that comes between them is secret; it is that in which the elect alone see the Savior within themselves and their souls find salvation. In his first coming, Christ came in our flesh and in our weakness; in his coming in the midst of time, he comes in Spirit and power; in his final coming, he will come in his glory and majesty (Saint Bernard, Sermons 4 et 5 for Advent).
This is the time of the coming of the Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven; the time we have all been praying for since Christ taught us the Our Father prayer. That is the time we are living in. Those who are expecting a manifest reign of Christ on earth are making the same error Judas Iscariot did when, at the time of the First Coming, he expected Christ to physically establish His kingdom on earth and overthrow Roman rule.
The question has been repeatedly asked, “Is the death penalty just?” Here is the response from the mind of the Church.
YOU SHALL NOT KILL
Pope Blessed Paul VI
“Go out into the world and make every effort possible in every way to restore the dignity of man, and all that it implies! I stand foursquare with modern theologians who hold that prudentially and historically capital punishment does not fit into the greater contemporary theological awareness of the worth of each individual on earth” (Speech to the Bishops at closing of Vatican Council II, Vatican City, 1965).
Note: Paul VI removed capital punishment from the fundamental law of Vatican City in 1969.
Pope Saint John Paul II
“On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”.46 Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.
“It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent. In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: ‘If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person’” (Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae ¶56, 1995). (more…)
In response to the previous post on Islam, a question was raised to the effect of “Can a just war exist?” Here is a summary answer to this question from the lens of Christianity.
I desire mercy, not sacrifice (Hos 6:6; Mt 9:13).
‘Just war’ according to the Scholastics
Formal ‘just war’ doctrine in Western Christianity is thought to have commenced with Saint Augustine. This was based on the following passage written by the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Romans:
For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer (13:4).
Augustine, in his Contra Faustum Manichaeum, argued that Christians did not need to feel ashamed of protecting peace and punishing wickedness when mandated to do so by a government. However, he asserted that this argument was personal and philosophical: “What is here required is not a bodily action, but an inward disposition.” In the meantime, in his work The City of God, Augustine elaborated:
They who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ . . . the wise man will wage Just Wars. As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
In the Summa Theologica written 900 years later, Saint Thomas Aquinas revised Augustine’s stance by formulating three criteria that were all required to be met in order for a war to be considered ‘just.’ These criteria were that:
The question was asked, “According to Catholicism, is Islam a religion or a sect?” The answer is that Islam is a religion. It is by no means a sect – to claim this is to go directly against the mind of the Church. It is a slur that emanates from prejudice and hatred, not from true knowledge which is wisdom or from a genuine Christian spirit.
Islam is one of the three monotheistic religions in which the worship of the One, Indivisible God prevails, together with Christianity and Judaism. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the God of Jesus Christ (His only-begotten and divine Son), Mary and Joseph – is also the God of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. To claim otherwise is a lie, no matter from where that claim may originate. Yes, God the Creator is Allah and Allah is God the Creator. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the culture of the Maltese people where the God of Christianity – the God of Catholicism, to be precise – is referred to as Alla in the Maltese language.
Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews do – even though some, in all three religions, may take intense issue with this fact. Profound misunderstandings and misconceptions abound these days about Islam, especially among more than a few American Catholics, ‘professional’ or otherwise. Thus, for the sake of the truth which must always prevail, let us see what the Church says about Islam.
The teachings of the Catholic Church about Islam
“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day” – Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964).
“Then [we refer] to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism, the Muslim religion especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God” – Ecclesiam Suam (1964).
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 1:6). In Him, in whom God reconciled all things to Himself (cf. 2 Co 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life. The Church, therefore, urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture.
“The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth (Cf. St. Gregory VII, Letter III, 21 to Anazir [Al-Nasir], King of Mauretania PL, 148.451A.), who has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging Him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, His Virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting. (more…)
The Mystical Body of Christ – the Church
A lot of questions, contentions and assertions, often contradictory, have arisen lately about the matter of who is, or is not, part of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Some have been correct. However, by far, the larger part of the contentions and assertions have all been either just partially correct or flat-out wrong. Some have been fueled by inadequate knowledge; others have been fueled by partisan denominational agendas. Misunderstandings and misrepresentations abound. Let us look, therefore, at who and what constitutes the Church.
The Church is made up of three parts: the (1) Church Triumphant, which consists of all those persons who are now in Heaven, enjoying the Divine Family in a direct manner. The (2) Church Suffering, which consists of all those souls who are still being purified in Purgatory, but who have now attained the assurance of reaching Heaven once their purification has ended. And (3) the Church Militant, the visible Church that consists of all those people on earth who are part of the Body of Christ.
How does one become part of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church?
Entrance into the Body of Christ is through baptism of which there are three kinds: (1) the baptism of water, (2) the baptism of blood, and (3) the baptism of desire. Any person who receives any one of the above kinds of baptism is Christian, hence part of the Mystical Body of Christ (Paul VI, 1964. Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). This is the official teaching of the universal Church, the fullness of which resides in the Catholic Church. (more…)
Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words – Saint Francis of Assisi
More than a few Christians in America and beyond these days, but particularly in the United States, attempt to evangelize by thumping others on the head with their ‘values’ under a variety of rationalizations. Their judgmentalism, moreover, can oftentimes be considered nothing short of phenomenal. There can be no doubt that many of these Christians, including Catholics, are fundamentally sincere in their underlying intentions. However, they seem to have forgotten (1) that the above is not evangelization, but proselytization (which is “nonsense” – Pope Francis); (2) the words of Saint Paul in his first Letter to the Corinthians, and (3) the words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew: “By their fruits you shall know them.”
Look at how much they love one another – Tertullian
No one has ever been attracted or won over to the One, True Faith by force. On the contrary. The more one name-calls others in a self-congratulatory manner in an attempt to ‘convert’ them – you know, those “over there” – the more seekers are driven away not brought closer to God. They are repulsed.
God gave every man and every woman free will when He created humankind in His own image and likeness. He, in fact, respects the decisions taken by our free will even when some of our choices cause Him great grief and sorrow. The sole conclusion that can, therefore, be reached from all of the above is that these Christians and Catholics do not know God other than by Name because if they did – if they knew Him, if they had truly met Him, at the very least, deep down in their hearts – they would know beyond doubt that, first and foremost, God is Love; Infinite Love.
The question has been asked, “How can we know which one is the true Church and which one is the false church in the confusion that is arising?” The short answer is simple.
As evidenced in Sacred Scripture, Jesus Christ said, “I say to you, ‘You are Peter and on this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. Whatsoever you shall bind upon the earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose upon the earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven'” (Mt 16:18-19). Thus, Saint Ambrose said, “Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia, ibi Deus [Where there is Peter, there is the Church and there is God],” because Peter – the Pope – is the Rock, the guarantor of the Faith, and this by divine appointment. Christ Himself prays to the Almighty Father for the Pope.
Several, over the past few days, cognoscenti and otherwise, with an attempt at ‘strength in numbers,’ have claimed that the current Peter – that is, Pope Francis – is “propagating heresies.” But the very premise upon which their claims stand is false, because Christ Himself, Who is God, has declared the true Church to be indefectible. The Pope is, thus, himself indefectible in terms of the Faith and what is needed to be saved, precisely because the Church is indefectible. This is true not just when the Pope teaches ex cathedra under the charism of infallibility, as so many have both failed and keep failing to understand, but also when he teaches non-infallibly, albeit not at the personal level.
The guarantor of the Faith, the Rock, can never fall into the grave sins of apostasy, heresy or schism, because he is safeguarded from doing so by the prevenient grace of God – the operating grace, not the cooperating grace. Throughout the entire history of the Catholic Church, in which resides the fullness of the Church that was established by Jesus Christ while still on earth, no canonically-elected Pope has ever fallen into any one of these three sins or combination thereof while reigning as Pope, despite repeated claims to the contrary, precisely because of the ongoing gift of prevenient grace. Those who would claim otherwise are either inadequately schooled in the actual particulars of history or wilfully misunderstanding said history.
The above-referenced gift of grace, which has been granted to Peter and each one of his successors, and will keep on being granted to their successors until the end of all time, is not provided by God for the personal benefit of the Pope. It is provided for the benefit of all humanity, in order that the ark of salvation, which is the Church, never fails and the gates of Hell do not prevail.
The true Church, therefore, can easily be discerned to be where the Pope is, not where some might claim it to be or even desire it to be, because it is the Pope and no one else who has been granted the divine gifts of the charism of truth and the charism of a faith that never fails.