Dante’s Prophesy of the Fall of the Roman Catholic Church. Part III
The Exile of Holy Wisdom from the Post-Conciliar Church
In our own time we can clearly see the image of Holy Wisdom deserting the visible Church. When Pope Francis said, in one of his many “unofficial” pronouncements, delivered on July 21, 2013 in St. Peter’s Square, “A prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your brother—the poor, the sick, those in need of help, a brother in difficulty—is a sterile and incomplete prayer,” he came near to invalidating the entire contemplative tradition of Christianity—it being abundantly clear that he does not regard prayer as any kind of “practical action” in itself—as well as directly contradicting the teaching of Jesus Christ in Luke 10:41-42: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.” To enjoin corporal works of mercy is in line with Christ’s commandments, but to deny the validity and perfection of spiritual works of mercy, as well as (by implication) of apophatic contemplation as exemplified by St. John of the Cross, by reducing prayer to a sort of “motivational exercise” rather than a petition offered to One with the real power to grant it, is to draw dangerously close to blasphemy. How could Wisdom possibly remain seated in a chariot with such a reckless driver? In the same address Francis also warned that the Church must not become eaten up by activism, presenting Jesus’ admonition of Martha quoted above as the basis of this warning. But when he invalidated the role of the pure contemplative by asserting that contemplation and action must always be united, rather than differentiated under certain circumstances according to the spiritual call of the particular believer—when he put contemplation and action on the same level—he in effect made action the informing context for contemplation, not contemplation for action. In doing so he contradicted St. Thomas Aquinas who, following the scriptural passage above, taught that contemplation is intrinsically higher than action. But Francis truly surpassed himself when, on Vatican Radio [10/10/2014] he opined: “‘What do you believe in?’; ‘In God!’; ‘But what is God for you?’; ‘God, God.’ But God does not exist: Do not be shocked! So God does not exist! There is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, they are persons, they are not some vague idea in the clouds….This God-spray does not exist!”4 So it would seem that Francis has finally embraced the tri-theism that Muslims have been accusing Trinitarian Christianity of—wrongly so—for centuries. This shocking papal pronouncement was explained to me both by an Archbishop and a Cistercian monk as being based on the doctrine that God, since He is Pure Being, does not occupy the category of the various things that “exist” in the sense of concrete particularization, which—leaving aside, of course, the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity in the person of Jesus Christ—is metaphysically correct. But how many Catholics are capable of understanding such subtleties? Here we can see the use of metaphysical casuistry to conceal and/or justify theological heresy, as predicted by Dante Alighieri in Canto XXXII of the Purgatorio by the allegory of the Eagle attacking the Chariot. Furthermore, is not “Pure Being” the very kind of “vague idea in the clouds” that Pope Francis has declared invalid?
Beyond the Transcendent Unity of Religions
It was Frithjof Schuon’s belief that esoterism, traditionally kept secret so as to protect both it and those who might be tempted, inflamed or bewildered by it due to their lack of spiritual capacity, is now the only thing that can save religious faith from the assaults of scientific rationalism and the inevitable religious pluralism of the modern world, as well as from the militant exclusivism that religious exoterists feel it necessary to adopt in order to protect their faith against this very rationalism and pluralism. As he points out in Esoterism as Principle and as Way, [World Wisdom Books, 1981, 7–8],
We live in an age of confusion and thirst in which the advantages of communication are greater than those of secrecy; moreover, only esoteric theses can satisfy the imperious lo-
gical needs created by the philosophic and scientific positions of the modern world…. Religious theses are certainly not errors, but they are cut to the measure of some mental or moral opportuneness; men come in the end to see through the adaptation as such, but meantime the truth, for them, is lost. Only esoterism can explain the particular “cut” or adaptation and restore the lost truth by referring to the total truth….just as rationalism can remove faith, so esoterism can restore it.
Agreed. However, if a particular religion is relativized by being seen merely as an “opportune” doctrine or a particular “cut” made into the pie of universal truth, faith is lost in any case; this, to take only one example, is the inevitable effect of the relatively exoteric, if not heretical, interfaith promiscuity of the post-conciliar Church—as when Pope Francis prayed from the Holy Qur’an as a gesture of “solidarity” with Muslims, without necessarily actually believing in the Book or in any way accepting Muhammad as God’s Prophet. It is necessary to go further, to pass beyond even the best sort of “comparative religion”—esoteric ecumenism as Schuon called it—to the understanding that one’s chosen religion, if it is indeed among those revealed and authorized by God, is itself host to that “total truth” he refers to; in Schuon’s words, “A given religion in reality sums up all religions….all religion is to be found in a given religion, because Truth is one” [From the Divine to the Human, 137–138]. In terms of the present book, doctrines from non-Christian religions are mentioned precisely to demonstrate this fact. One might in this context paraphrase a well-known passage from William Blake to the effect that “I question not the doctrines or practices of my religion any more than I would question a window concerning sight; I look through them, not with them.” Schuon spoke of “the metaphysical transparency of phenomena,” but (as he often implied) we must also come to a vision of the metaphysical transparency of dogma. To view the religions as truthfully as possible from the outside is to understand their moral and philosophical “opportuneness,” but to actually avail oneself of the opportunity offered by one’s own religion is to see it as a window opening, at its higher reaches, directly upon the total Truth, which is the Presence of God. In the face of this Divine Presence the need to make “ecumenical comparisons” between the faiths, no matter how ingenious these comparisons might be, and how useful and even necessary on their own level, becomes irrelevant—and it is only the faithfulness of both the intellect and the will to a single Divine revelation that has the power to conduct us to this Presence.
The Virgin Mary’s Predictions of the Fall
of the Post-Conciliar Church
This development was predicted by the Blessed Virgin in her apparition at La Salette in 1846: “Rome will lose the Faith….and become the seat of antichrist” [quoted in Rama Coomaraswamy, The Destruction of the Christian Tradition, World Wisdom, 2006, xiv]. The Third Secret of Fatima also apparently alluded to the apostasy of the Western Church. Father Joaquin Alonso, the official expert on the Fatima Message and author of the 24-volume Fatima Texts and Critical Studies (who had many interviews with Sister Lucia, the longest-surviving of the recipients of the Message from the Blessed Virgin), said this in 1981:
It is therefore completely probable that the text [of the Third Secret] makes concrete references to the crisis of faith within the Church and to the negligence of the pastors themselves [and the] internal struggles in the very bosom of the Church and of grave pastoral negligence by the upper hierarchy. . . . If “in Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved”….it can be clearly deduced from this that in other parts of the Church these dogmas are going to become obscure or even lost altogether [Quoted in Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Volume III: The Third Secret, (Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, New York, 1990) 704.]
In the year 2000 the Third Secret was apparently published by Pope John Paul II, 40 years after the date set for its revelation by the Blessed Virgin; it predicts the persecution of the Papacy and many new martyrs. Some, however, believe this Secret to be spurious (though the prophesy of “many new martyrs” is certainly being fulfilled), or at least incomplete— particularly in view of the fact that, after 1960, a woman was presented to the faithful as Sister Lucia who, unless the photographs of her available on the web have been doctored (which is not impossible), bore only a passing resemblance to the real Lucia; a comparison of photographs (note particularly the line of the jaw) certainly suggests that the later Lucia was a different woman. This is an example of the work of the Fox. And in view of the pre-eminent place held by St. Lucy in the Divine Comedy—St. Lucy whose name means “light,” whose intercession cures blindness, and on whose feast day, December 13, I was born—we can almost see in this counterfeit “Lucy” an intent in some quarters to suppress the degree and quality of Wisdom expressed in Dante’s great work (even as the Roman Catholic Church shows signs of renewed interest in Dante), and to veil the light it throws upon the dark destiny of the greater part of the Church Militant—or, as we must perhaps now call it, the Church Compliant.
It is of crucial importance for Eastern Orthodox Christians to understand the devastation represented by Vatican II. If they do not, they may be tempted to look at the Post-Consiliar church as somehow more “friendly” to Orthodoxy than the traditional Western Church has been since the Great Schism; they may not sufficiently realize how radically the Post-Consiliar church has departed from Christian Orthodoxy as such, whether this be expressed in Eastern or in Western terms. Given this state of degeneration, the established Western Church, in its present state, cannot truly be reconciled with any form of Orthodoxy. If Orthodox believers are seduced by the duplicitous attempt at the “restoration of Christian unity” presently emanating from the Vatican, they could well lose their grip on Christian truth of any kind. They might even be tempted to tamper with the traditional forms of the sacraments to the point where these become spiritually invalid, and—due to a perversion of the rites of Holy Orders and Episcopal consecration—to sever the apostolic succession itself. Some believe, with good reason, that this has already been the fate of the greater part of Western Catholicism. It would be an unprecedented catastrophe if the Eastern Orthodox Church were to fall into the same spiritual abyss that has swallowed the Roman Catholic Church. If this were to happen the Orthodox Church could never rescue the Western Church from the heresies of Modernism and Liberalism—a Liberalism also influenced by Marxist ideology—that it has so wholeheartedly embraced. Furthermore, these heresies—in some cases—have even appeared within Orthodoxy itself, at least in North America. Many Eastern Orthodox priests and believers in the United States, for all their anti-Catholicism, have begun to repeat the errors promulgated by Vatican II, apparently in total ignorance of their original source; the “mind of the Fathers” has been largely banished from their worldview and their theology. Let this not happen in Holy Russia!