Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mercy of Akita

Our Lady of the Rosary Library is an amazing resource for Catholic tracts. Their pamphlets discuss things that have been severely neglected since the Second Vatican Council. With my pastor’s permission, I recently started distributing three of these at my parish. I did so hoping that the family rosary would be fervently taken up, and to encourage more people to set aside an hour for Eucharistic Adoration. One tract deals with Our Lady of Akita. At the parish picnic, a friend struck up a brief discussion with me about this one. He acknowledged that Akita has been approved, endorsed by Benedict XVI prior to his election. “But fire from heaven? That just doesn’t sound very God-like.”

Never adept at off-the-cuff debate, I was a bit relieved when the topic turned to the taboulleh my family had brought. I’ve mulled that statement over since then, however. It points to a disconcerting train of thought among even devout Catholics. One of my priest friends—tongue in cheek—put it best: in Old Testament times, God was very angry and prone to punish. With the New Testament, He apparently went through anger management therapy, and is doing much better.

As flippant as that statement sounds, a huge number of Christians seem to believe it. I could almost pay off my student loans in a single lump sum payment, if given a dollar for every variant of, “Oh, I don’t believe in an angry God. My God is a merciful God, who loves everyone.” True, God is love. He is merciful. We see His mercy in Ezekiel 33:11: “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: and why will you die, O house of Israel?”1 (This from the God with an anger management problem.) His mercy is lauded in the Psalms. Our Lord’s intervention with the woman caught in adultery, or His kindness to the Samaritan woman at the well are other examples. Let’s also not forget the writings of St. Faustina! Experiential knowledge likewise proves God’s mercy. We have all sinned; we will all need the Sacrament of Confession many times while we live.

So yes, God is merciful. He has loved every human being since the Creation, enough to become one of us and die an excruciating death to pay the price of sin. Here we come to a fact about God that many today do not like to see: God is just. Justice and mercy are intertwined in a very intricate way. His justice gave us the Law in ancient days. In mercy, He also spelled out the consequences of disobedience (namely, damnation.) His justice and mercy are closely meshed in giving us Purgatory, in order to complete the reparation we do not or cannot complete in this life. Neither law nor consequences have gone away. Culturally, we just ignore them. The four crimes that cry to heaven for vengeance are all committed, more or less in full public view, and few are the voices raised against them (murder being the only exception.) They infest our entertainment, economy, education and politics. But sin has a price. Justice demands that payment be made.

God has fixed in His mind the length of time He will allow every person and culture on earth to turn from sin and follow Him.2 In 1973, at a convent in Akita, Japan, God mercifully allowed Our Lady to tell us that our time is drawing near. (I won’t rehash the entire story here, but refer those who are not familiar with Our Lady of Akita to the link above.) She spelled out in detail the punishment we will incur, if mankind fails to repent:

“[I]f men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead.”

Remember, this was in 1973. I personally think it no coincidence. Akita occurred in the same year that abortion became formally legal in the United States. Since then, we have not collectively bettered ourselves. In some ways, we’ve become even worse. This raises unsettling questions.

Is it just, loving, and merciful to continue to permit evil to be done with apparent impunity? How loving is it that those who are less developed in holiness see the vilest sins brazenly committed in broad daylight, with no action taken by the Lawgiver? Are we to assume that He who rained fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah when their wickedness was ripe will not deal likewise with a world that openly celebrates its contempt for all Ten Commandments? Is He who smote Egypt for Israel’s sake no longer omnipotent? Has mercy made God an effeminate weakling? Is the Ancient of Days so old that He no longer dispenses the wages of sin?

Our Lady’s message at Akita is a very sobering and resounding “No.” But because of the foul excesses of that bloodiest of centuries, the 20th, we have allowed ourselves to believe that God is no longer just. We’ve allowed ourselves to believe in mercy without prudence and that punishment is for the past and the Parousia. I suspect that’s why, in 1973, God allowed Our Lady to speak through her humble wooden likeness. She spoke to warn us that she will not be able to restrain the Father’s arm of justice for very much longer. She spoke to say that if we continue to offend God, there will be only one loving, merciful and just option for Him—to cleanse the earth with fire.

Would this break the oath He swore to the Patriarch Noah? If you’ve carefully read that part of Genesis, you know that God’s oath was to never again destroy all life with a flood. As the mark of original sin is removed once in a lifetime using holy water, so sin will be removed from the earth by water only once. God placed no such limits on fire, famine or pestilence.

At Quito, the Blessed Mother foretold our times. At La Salette and Fatima, she issued dire warnings and commanded penance. (Indeed, admonitions to pray and do penance have been central to the message of every Marian apparition for the past several centuries.) At Akita, she gave us her sternest warning. She spelled out the details of our collective sentence, and how it can be avoided. Akita is our final plea bargain offer. God has allowed Our Lady to give many warnings in the past 500 years. Can we really say that He is not being merciful when He finally visits just punishment upon us?

1 Douay-Rheims Translation. (2009, St. Benedict's Press)

2 My readers should ask where I am getting this. My source is the chief exorcist for the Diocese of Tulsa, Fr. Chad Ripperger, via his website, Sensus Traditionis. He has made available many conferences, sermons and homilies which he gave when he was a parish priest with the FSSP. I think so highly of this site that I have provided a link in “My Watering Hole”. I cannot recommend it enough!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Alarming Study

After my March 20, 2014 post, some of my readers might be under the impression that I no longer watch Church Militant TV. That impression would be erroneous. Despite my strong disapproval of Mr. Voris' puzzling attack on the ones who have been crying out a warning since the crisis began, I continue to tune in almost daily. I consider them one of the most important web-based apostolates out there. In fact, this post stems from what Mr. Voris has to say at about the 8:42 mark in the below-embedded Vortex.

In that episode, Mr. Voris focused on a very sobering new book, Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults In, Out Of, And Gone From The Church. I'll let him do the explaining, since I haven't read more than the preview of this yet. (Relax, dear reader: I fully intend to remedy that at the first available opportunity, and do a follow-up post as necessary. That would be the responsible thing to do.)

The first thing that struck me about this survey was its alarming 0% figure in the "Devout" category. It makes me wonder about the demographics. After all, every young Traditionalist that I have met is light years ahead of the average mainstream Catholic in their understanding of Church doctrine. It will be interesting to find out why they don't qualify as "Devout". My cynical side says the researchers don't consider the Traditionalist Movement Catholic. If so, they wouldn't be the first to make that mistake, and they won't be the last. But since logic demands that I not jump to conclusions, I look forward to a more in-depth reading of the study.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Submission Healed My Soul: One Catholic's Story

Once again, divorced and remarried Catholics are at the forefront of public consciousness, thanks to Cardinal Kaspar's recent absurd statement. I've decided to enter the fray (however briefly) and provide a different story. Since this is a personal account, it should be taken for what it is: one Catholic's personal perspective from lived experience. (In case you're tempted to call me an expert.)

I was divorced in February 2002. From my baptism at 18 years of age I'd been a nominal Catholic at best, living life on my own terms with very little concern for what the Vatican had to say. Although I identified as Catholic, my behavior and attitudes were decidedly pagan/secular. My wife and I had been married civilly, before a Justice of the Peace. As with most legal marriages in the U.S.A., things fell apart. We separated, and finally divorced, with a child between us.

I'll avoid reliving the bleak cyclone of the grieving process (which few people actually care about anyway.) It suffices to say that I survived the darkness that many men are forced to confront alone when their spouse abandons them. It was at that point in my life that God led me to the priest who would catalyze a profound change in my outlook, Fr. Erik J. Richtsteig.

At first, I didn't like him. He was a rigid, tradition-bound, stick in the mud. I mainly attended his parish because I needed a place to call home and I'd been invited by an acquaintance who was a parishioner there. Usually, what he had to say went in one ear and out the other. After all, I was an adult. I knew best how to live my life in relation to my subjective circumstances, and this quaint anachronism of a priest was just sorely misinformed about the world. Sooner or later he would be transferred, hopefully replaced with a priest who was more in touch with the modern world. In the mean time, I could try to open his mind.

Such was my mindset one fine spring weekend around 2005 when Fr. Richtsteig went on retreat. He left his parish in the capable hands of his friend, Fr. Pius of Mount Angel Seminary. That weekend happened to be particularly bleak and trying for me. When I went in "just to talk" to this unfamiliar Benedictine, I didn't have an inkling that my true conversion would begin that day. That talk turned into a good, honest confession. I don't recall what he said, but I do remember its deep impression. I began to question all that I thought I knew--about life, about the Church, and about the world. One day while praying the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, I was powerfully struck by the words "Oh Divine Master, grant that I may never seek so be understood as to understand..." I realized that I didn't have any understanding of Father's point of view. With that in mind, I began to listen. I began to read. I began to understand--and what I understood, shocked me.

Fr. Richtsteig was teaching the authentic doctrine of the Catholic Faith.

Almost everything I thought I knew about Catholicism post-Vatican II was wrong! It was I who was in error. My ideas and behavior that needed to be realigned. If I was to continue to be Catholic, my submission to the teaching authority of Holy Mother Church was mandated. Steadily, I began to bring myself into conformity with the Church.

That was almost ten years ago, and I have no cause to regret my decision. I can honestly say that my life has improved. The existential angst that compelled me to go to Mass-as-group-therapy when I was stumbling about in the darkness has been truly resolved, through the simple act of submission. It started with an increase of faith (the virtue by which we intellectually submit to a revealed truth, which we may not understand fully) and cultivating honest humility. In my case, this meant becoming familiar with the words "I don't know." It meant overcoming the erroneous idea that "knowing something in my heart" made it true, even where what I "knew" contradicted a revealed truth of the Faith.

Here we come to the crux of the matter. The German bishops seem to think almost unanimously that the Church should conform to the world, particularly regarding Catholics who have been civilly divorced and civilly remarried without obtaining an annulment from the Church. That was once my view, and it was wrong. It remains wrong, even if those who hold such a view are bishops. It might seem unfair to deny those Catholics full participation in the Sacraments. It might seem more loving and compassionate to simply change. But I can honestly attest to you, Excellencies, that you would be doing all of those people a grave disservice in the long run. They would know that you simply caved in to circumstance; how then could they trust anything you say? Where might I be if Fr. Pius had simply patted me on the head and given me a cookie? (Metaphorically speaking.) I was on the road to Hell, Excellencies. I thank God that Fr. Pius cared enough about my soul to point that out to me and call me to repentance, in such a way that I heard what he was saying. I pray that you will all do the same; only good could come of it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Remnant Presents Its Case

This is compelling, and worthy of consideration. I hope that Mr. Matt will not mind my re-blog.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Opinion of the Storm

I like ChurchMilitant.TV.

I decided I should state that up front, because what I have to say here is not going to be very nice--not that Mr. Voris will have a problem with that. (After all, he's based his entire apostolate on strident opposition to what he terms "The Church of Nice" and openly declaring that the emperor has no clothes.)

For those who aren't aware, Mr. Voris and ChurchMilitant.TV recently fell into the same trap as Catholic Answers did a few months back: he's mistaken faithful, respectful public questioning of the Pope for Neo-Protestant revolt. And he's gone on the offensive in a big way, publically excoriating Michael Matt, Christopher Ferarra and John Vennari for...doing essentially the same thing Mr. Voris is doing, with one notable exception: Mr. Voris will not criticize the Pope in public. Period. (Never mind the consequences of recent highly public papal gaffes.)

Mr. Voris is certainly entitled to his opinion. He raised an excellent point in his March 18, 2014 episode of The Vortex. However, I think that he is falling victim to a dangerous form of papolatry which can lead to a cult mentality that is inimical to Catholicism. In fact, such a mentality has led some into the error of sedevacantism. Thinking that the Pope--or any leader at all--is above criticism is not Catholicism, Mr. Voris. It is fascism. It is totalitarianism. It is not the Faith I follow, and never will be. Only One is above criticism, and He is God Made Man. If you want to goosestep in line with the rest, all the while bellowing "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" that is certainly your perogative. But it isn't helping anyone who loves the Faith.

For how can we reconcile the Assisi debacle of 1986 and beyond with the dogmatic statement Extra ecclesiam, nulla salus? This is just one example of where the public behavior of a Pope easily served to undermine the mission of the Church.

I agree that any criticism of His Holiness must be done with respectful tone, in deference to his holy office. (As I'm fond of saying, respect the office if not the man.) But it must be done, on occasion! Particularly by those who are in a position to know better. (Even Pope Francis himself acknowledged this recently.)

John Vennari gave an excellent refutation; I'll let him finish up this post in his own words.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Liturgical Music, Deo Gratias!

Those familiar with The Latin Mass magazine already know Mr. Kwasniewski. His thoughtful, insightful articles are almost a staple there. For some reason, I am unsurprised to discover that he also writes liturgical music. He's just published a collection of work spanning 20 years, and if the clip included in the press release from Corpus Christi Watershed is any indication, those two decades were inspired and fruitful indeed! This link leads to more information. What an efficacious vaccine for the influenza of sentimental drivel we've been assaulted with since 1970!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Comments tightened.

Due to a heretical comment by a Protestant troll, denying outright a truth of the One Holy Roman Catholic Church--outside of which there is no salvation, which has endured from the beginning, and will endure until the end of time (see St. Matthew 16:18)--I have tightened my comment controls. Comments are now only open to members of this blog, persuant to my review.