Monthly Archives: February 2015

Christ’s Passion and Death

Some meditations on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ during this Holy Season of Lent:

 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen.  When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son.  After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.  Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst.  Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth.  Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.”  ~John 19: 25-30

“Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. He was taken away from distress, and from judgment: who shall declare his generation? because he is cut oh out of the land of the living: for the wickedness of my people have I struck him.”  ~Isiah 53: 3-8

“The Cross I ever adore.”  ~St. Thomas Aquinas

“Death blossomed in paradise but was slain on the cross.”  ~St. John Chrysostom

“The cross is the ladder to Heaven.”   ~Catechism of the Cure de Ars

“No one can obtain salvation unless through Christ and the merits of His Passion.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“He gave Himself wholly to you: He left nothing to himself.”   ~St. John Chrysostom

“The Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean.”   ~St. John Chrysostom

“You should carry the passion of God in your hearts, for it is man’s consolation in his last hour.”   ~St. Nicholas of Flue

“O the wonderful power of the Cross! O the unspeakable glory of the Passion!”   ~Pope St. Leo I the Great

“No one can be just unless he is granted a share in the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  ~Council of Trent

“Jesus Christ by His passion and death gave to the sacraments the power of conferring grace.” ~Catechism of Pope St. Pius X

“Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be of no avail.”   ~Catechism of the Cure de Ars

“What, O Lord, could more clearly show me than do thy Wounds, that thou art sweet and mild, and plenteous in mercy?”   ~St. Bernard

“Let us go often to the foot of the Cross… We shall learn there what God has done for us, and what we ought to do for him.”   ~St. John Vianney

“From the sufferings and death of Christ we learn God’s love for man and the evil of sin, for which God, who is all-just, demands such great satisfaction.”   ~Baltimore Catechism

“It is certain that, if I had sinned less, Thou, my Jesus, wouldst have suffered less.”   ~St. Alphonsus Liguori

“And while He hangs from the cross are we not at a loss which to deplore, His agony, or His ignominy, or both?”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ.”   ~Baltimore Catechism

“Triumphing over the agonies of the Cross, the bitterness of death, the shame of the most ignominious tortures, nothing costs Him too dear when He has to prove that He loves us.” ~Catechism of the Cure de Ars

“The Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ offered on our altars under the appearances of bread and wine, in commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross.”   ~Catechism of Pope St. Pius X

“In His Passion and death the Son of God, our Savior, intended to atone for and blot out the sins of all ages, to offer for them to his Father a full and abundant satisfaction.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

For if the very idea of impending evils was overwhelming, and the sweat of blood shows that it was, what are we to suppose their actual endurance to have been?”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“Even the demons were not solely responsible for crucifying Him; it was you who crucified Him with them, and you continue to crucify Him by taking pleasure in your vices and sins.”   ~St. Francis of Assisi

“Let us fix our gaze on the blood of Christ and know how precious it is to His Father because it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world.”   ~Pope St. Clement of Rome, 1st century A.D.

“For by the sacrifice of His own body He did two things: He put an end to the law of death which barred our way; and He made a new beginning of life for us, by giving us the hope of resurrection.” ~St. Athanasius

Christ’s Passion – A Satisfaction, A Sacrifice, A Redemption An Example. The pastor should teach that all these inestimable and divine blessings flow to us from the Passion of Christ.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“Again, it (the Passion of Christ) was a sacrifice most acceptable to God, for when offered by His Son on the altar of the cross, it entirely appeased the wrath and indignation of the Father.” ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“His hands and feet were fastened with nails to the cross; His head was pierced with thorns and smitten with a reed; His face was befouled with spittle and buffeted with blows; His whole body was covered with stripes.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“On the Cross Jesus Christ prayed for His enemies; gave His own Most Blessed Mother as a Mother to St. John, and, in his person, to all of us; offered up His death in sacrifice; and satisfied the justice of God for the sins of men.”   ~Catechism of Pope St. Pius X

“Remember then, that although you were made from nothing, you were not redeemed with nothing. In six days God created all things, including you, but for thirty years he worked out your salvation including the ignominy of dying on the cross.”   ~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“For, through the Sacraments, as through a channel, must flow into the soul the efficacy of the Passion of Christ, that is, the grace which He merited for us on the altar of the cross, and without which we cannot hope for salvation.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“And yet there is truly nothing that more eloquently proclaims His supreme love and admirable charity towards us, than the inexplicable mystery of the Passion of Jesus Christ, whence springs that never-failing fountain to wash away the defilements of sin.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“In a certain sense it can be said that on Calvary Christ built a font of purification and salvation which He filled with the blood He shed; but if men do not bathe in it and there wash away the stains of their iniquities, they can never be purified and saved.”   ~Pope Pius XII

“You cannot better appreciate your worth than by looking into the mirror of the Cross of Christ; there you will learn how you are to deflate your pride, how you must mortify the desires of the flesh, how you are to pray to your Father for those who persecute you, and to commend your spirit into God’s hands.”   ~St. Anthony of Padua

“The Master takes upon Himself the stripes belonging to the servant, the servant is glorified by the glory of the Master. That is why the cross can be called the cross of the Lord of Glory, and why every tongue can confess, to the glory of God the Father, that Jesus Christ is Lord.”   ~St. Gregory of Nyssa

“What is a man able to find so valuable that he can give it for the ransom of his soul? Yet one thing was found that was worth as much as all men together. It was given as the ransom price for our souls, the holy and most precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He poured out for all of us; we were, therefore, ‘bought dearly’.”   ~St. Basil the Great

“Eden was now being reversed. Three things cooperated in our fall: a disobedient man, Adam; a proud woman, Eve; and a tree. God takes the three elements that lead to the defeat of man and uses them as the instruments of victory: the obedient new Adam, Christ; the humble new Eve, Mary; and the tree of the Cross.”   ~Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“Should anyone inquire why the Son of God underwent His most bitter Passion, he will find that besides the guilt inherited from our first parents the principal causes were the vices and crimes which have been perpetrated from the beginning of the world to the present day and those which will be committed to the end of time.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“Indeed, if one thing more than another presents difficulty to the mind and understanding of man, assuredly it is the mystery of the cross, which, beyond all doubt, must be considered the most difficult of all; so much so that only with great difficulty can we grasp the fact that our salvation depends on the cross, and on Him who for us was nailed thereon.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot the passers-by sneer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So had death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Savior on the cross.”   ~St. Athanasius

“The mystery of the divine redemption is primarily and by its very nature a mystery of love, that is, of the perfect love of Christ for His heavenly Father to Whom the sacrifice of the Cross, offered in a spirit of love and obedience, presents the most abundant and infinite satisfaction due for the sins of the human race; ‘By suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race.'”   ~Pope Pius XII

“Now our Lord being truly the Savior wished not by saving Himself, but by saving His creatures, to be acknowledged the Savior. For neither is a physician by healing himself known to be physician, unless he also gives proof of his skill towards the sick. So the Lord being the Savior had no need of salvation, nor by descending from the cross did He wish to be acknowledged the Savior, but by dying. For truly a much greater salvation does the death of the Savior bring to men, than the descent from the cross.”   ~St. Athanasius

“We were enemies of God through sin and God had appointed the sinner to die. It was necessary, then, that one of two things should happen: either that God, in His truth, should destroy all men, or that in His loving kindness He should blot out the sentence. But behold the wisdom of God: He preserved both the truth of His sentence, and the exercise of His loving kindness. Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that by His death we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”   ~St. Cyril of Jerusalem

“Jesus goes forth to them wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, not resplendent in kingly power, but laden with reproach; and the words are addressed to them, Behold the man! If you hate your king, spare him now when you see him sunk so low; he has been scourged, crowned with thorns, clothed with the garments of derision, jeered at with the bitterest insults, struck with the open hand; his ignominy is at the boiling point, let your ill-will sink to zero. But there is no such cooling on the part of the latter, but rather a further increase of heat and vehemence.”   ~St. Augustine

“Besides these incomparable blessings, we have also received another of the highest importance; namely, that in the Passion alone we have the most illustrious example of the exercise of every virtue. For He so displayed patience, humility, exalted charity, meekness, obedience and unshaken firmness of soul, not only in suffering for justice’ sake, but also in meeting death, that we may truly say on the day of His Passion alone, our Savior offered, in His own Person, a living exemplification of all the moral precepts inculcated during the entire time of His public ministry.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“The Creator suffers for His creatures, the Master for His servant. He suffers by whom the Angels, men, the heavens, and the elements were made; in whom by whom, and of whom, are all things. It cannot, therefore, be a matter of surprise that while He agonized under such an accumulation of torments the whole frame of the universe convulsed; for as the Scriptures inform us, the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent, there was darkness over all the earth; and the sun was obscured. If, then, even mute and inanimate nature sympathized with the sufferings of her Creator, let the faithful consider with what tears they, the living stones of this edifice, should manifest their sorrow.” ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“That man should be delivered by Christ’s Passion was in keeping with both His mercy and His justice. With His justice, because by His Passion Christ made satisfaction for the sins of the human race, and so man was set free by Christ’s justice; and with His mercy, for since man of himself could not satisfy for the sin of all human nature, God gave him His Son to satisfy for him. And this came of a more copious mercy than if he had forgiven sins without satisfaction: Hence St. Paul says: ‘God, who is rich in mercy, by reason of His very great love wherewith He has loved us even when we were dead by reason of our sins, brought us to life together with Christ.”   ~St. Thomas Aquinas

“When we meditate on the sufferings and all the torments of the Redeemer, nothing is better calculated to stir our souls than the thought that He endured them thus voluntarily. Were anyone to endure all kinds of suffering for our sake, not because he chose them but simply because he could not escape them, we should not consider this a very great favor; but were he to endure death freely, and for our sake only, having had it in his power to avoid it, this indeed would be a benefit so overwhelming as to deprive even the most grateful heart, not only the power of returning but even of feeling due thanks. We may hence form an idea of the transcendent and intense love of Jesus Christ towards us, and of His divine and boundless claims to our gratitude.”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent

“Formerly, it was looked upon as an object of horror, but Jesus Christ has made it so worthy of respect and veneration, that kings and princes have forbidden the punishment of crucifixion to be continued, in order to do honor to those faithful servants, who gloried in a punishment which our Lord and Savior has so ennobled. And this wood to which the Jews had nailed our Lord, accompanied as it was by so many outrages and insults, has become so worthy of honor, that kings have imprinted it on their foreheads, and in union with the lowest of their subjects they look upon the cross of Jesus Christ as the ship which will guide and carry them safely into harbor. So strong sometimes are the storms of life that strength of arm is of no avail, and there is no other means to save us from shipwreck than trusting in the cross of Jesus Christ by which we are consecrated.”   ~St. Augustine

“The Victim alone saves the soul from eternal ruin, the sacrificing of which presents to us in a mystical way the death of the Only-begotten, who – though He is now risen from the dead and dies no more, and death will no longer have dominion over Him, for He lives immortally and incorruptibly in Himself – is immolated for us again in this mystery of the sacred oblation. For His body is eaten there, His flesh is distributed among the people unto salvation, His blood is poured out, no longer in the hands of the faithless but in the mouth of the faithful. Let us take thought, therefore, of what this sacrifice means for us, which is an ever present re-presentation of the suffering of the Only begotten Son, for the sake of our forgiveness.”   ~Pope St. Gregory I the Great

“The fact that He suffered death precisely on the wood of the cross must also be attributed to a particular council of God, which decreed that life should return by the way whence death had arisen. The serpent who had triumphed over our first parents by the wood (of a tree) was vanquished by Christ on the wood of the cross. Many other reasons which the Fathers have discussed in detail might be adduced to show that it was fit that our Redeemer should suffer death on the cross rather than in any other way. But, as the pastor will show, it is enough for the faithful to believe that this kind of death was chosen by the Savior because it appeared better adapted and more appropriate to the redemption of the human race; for there certainly could be none more ignominious and humiliating. Not only among the Gentiles was the punishment of the cross held accursed and full of shame and infamy, but even in the Law of Moses the man is called accursed that hangeth on a tree (Deut. xxi. 23, Gal. iii.13).”   ~Catechism of the Council of Trent


They that live in sin shall die in sin

A sermon from St. Alphonsus Liguori during this Holy Season of Lent:

It is a thing to be marveled at that God unceasingly threatens sinners with an unhappy death. “Then they shall call upon Me, and I will not hear” [Proverbs I, 28]. Will God hear the sinner’s cry when distress shall come upon him?

The Lord pronounces the same threat in so many other places, yet sinners live in peace as securely as if God had certainly promised to give them, at death, pardon and paradise. It is true that at whatsoever hour the sinner is converted God promises to pardon him. But He has not promised that sinners will be converted at death: on the contrary, He has often protested that they who live in sin shall die in sin. “You shall die in your sins” [Jn VIII, 24]. He has declared that they who seek Him at death shall not find Him. We must, therefore, seek God while He may be found. A time shall come when it will not be in our power to find Him. Poor blind sinners! They put off their conversion till death, when there will be no more time for repentance. “The wicked,” says Oleaster, “have never learned to do good unless when the time for doing good is no more.” God wills the salvation of all, but He takes vengeance on obstinate sinners.

Should any man in a state of sin be seized with apoplexy and be deprived of his senses, what sentiments of compassion would be excited in all who should see him die without the sacraments and without signs of repentance! And how great should be their delight, if he recovered the use of his senses, asked for absolution, and made acts of sorrow for his sins! But is not he a fool who has time to repent and prefers to continue in sin? Or who returns to sin, and exposes himself to the danger of being cut off by death without the sacraments, and without repentance? A sudden death excites terror in all, and still how many expose themselves to the danger of dying suddenly, and of dying in sin?
Weight and balance are the judgments of the Lord. We keep no account of the graces which God bestows upon us, but He keeps an account of them, He measures them; and when He sees them despised to a certain degree, He then abandons the sinner in his sin, and takes him out of life in that unhappy state. Miserable the man who defers his conversion till death. St Augustine says that “the repentance which is sought from a sick man is infirm.” St Jerome teaches that, of a hundred thousand sinners who continue in sin till death, scarcely one will be saved. St Vincent Ferrer writes that it is a greater miracle to bring such sinners to salvation, than to raise the dead to life.

What sorrow, what repentance, can be expected at death from the man who has loved sin till that moment? St. Augustine says that by a just chastisement the sinner who has forgotten God during life shall forget himself at death.

Be not deceived,” says the Apostle, “God is not mocked. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall he reap corruption” [Galatians VI, 7-8]. It would be a mockery of God to live in contempt of His laws, and afterward to reap remuneration and eternal glory. But God is not mocked. What we sow in this life, we reap in the next. For him who sows the forbidden pleasures of the flesh, nothing remains but corruption, misery, and eternal death.

Beloved Christian, what is said for others is also applicable to you. Tell me, if you were at the point of death, given over by the physicians, deprived of your senses, and in your last agony, with what fervour would you ask of God another month or week to settle the accounts of your conscience! God at present gives you this time: thank Him for it, and apply an immediate remedy to the evil you have done; adopt all the means of finding yourself in the grace of God when death comes; for then there will be no more time to acquire His friendship.

This sermon should make one reflect on the state of their soul. The most important objective in life is to stay in the state of sanctifying grace and by doing so, pleasing the good God. This Lent, let us remember to always be prepared for death by making frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance. One should flee from mortal sin (and all sin for that matter) like it is the most dreaded plague. St. Dominic Savio always said “death, but not sin.”  It is also important to reflect on the Passion of Our Lord, which our sins caused and continue to cause symbolically.  Our sins nail our Savior to the cross.  Repent and do penance or you all shall all likewise perish, the Scripture say.  This has been the message of the Mother of God in all of her approved apparitions.  Like a good Mother, she has continuously told us what we must do to save our souls.  Prayer and penance.  This is the message of Lent.  Repent, confess and do penance.

~Damsel of the Faith

The sinner will seek God at death

A sermon of St. Alphonsus Liguori during this Holy Season of Lent:

At present, sinners banish the remembrance and thought of death; and thus they seek after peace, though they never find it in the sinful life which they lead. But when they are found in the straits of death, on the point of entering into eternity, they shall seek peace, and there shall be none. Then they will not be able to fly from the torture of their sinful conscience. They will seek peace; but what peace can be found by a soul loaded with sins that sting it like so many vipers? What peace can the sinner enjoy when he sees that he must in a few moments appear before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, whose law and friendship he has till then despised? Trouble shall come upon trouble. The news of death, which has been already announced, the thought of being obliged to take leave of everything in this world, the remorse of conscience, the time lost, the want of time at present, the rigour of the divine judgment, the unhappy eternity which awaits sinners–all these things will form a horrible tempest, which will confuse the mind and increase his apprehensions; and thus, full of confusion and distrust, the dying sinner will pass to the other world.

Trusting in the divine promise, Abraham, with great merit, hoped in God against human hope. But sinners, with great demerit, hope falsely and to their own perdition, not only against hope but also against faith; for they despise the menaces of God against all who are obstinate in sin. They are afraid of a bad death, but they fear not to lead a wicked life. But who has assured them that they will not suddenly be deprived of life by a thunderbolt, by apoplexy, or by the bursting of a blood vessel? And were they at death even allowed time for repentance, who assures them that they will sincerely return to God?

To conquer bad habits, St Augustine had to fight against them for 12 years. How will the dying man, who has always lived in sin, be able, in the midst of the pains, the stupefaction, and the confusion of death, to repent sincerely of all his past iniquities? I say sincerely, because it is not enough to say and to promise with the tongue, it is necessary to promise with the heart.

O God! what terror and confusion will seize the unhappy Christian who has led a careless life, when he finds himself overwhelmed with sins, with the fears of judgment, of hell, and of eternity! Oh! What confusion will these thoughts produce when the dying sinner will find his reason gone, his mind darkened, and his whole frame assailed by the pains of approaching death. He will make his confession; he will promise, weep, and seek mercy from God, but without understanding what he does; and in this tempest of agitation, of remorse, of pains and terrors, he will pass to the other life. “The people shall be troubled, and they shall pass” [Job XXXIV, 20]. A certain author says that the prayers, the wailings, and promises of dying sinners are like the tears and promises of a man assailed by an enemy who points a dagger to his throat to take away his life. Miserable the man who takes to his bed at enmity with God, and passes from the bed of sickness to eternity.

O wounds of Jesus! You are my hope. I should despair of the pardon of my sins, and of my eternal salvation, did I not behold you, the fountains of mercy and grace, through which a God has shed all His Blood, to wash my soul from the sins which I have committed. I adore you, then, O holy wounds! And trust in you. I detest a thousand times, and curse those vile pleasures by which I have displeased my Redeemer, and have miserably lost his friendship. Looking then at Thee, I raise up my hopes, and turn my affections to Thee. My dear Jesus, Thou deservest to be loved by all men, and to be loved with their whole heart. I have so grievously offended Thee, I have despised Thy love; but, notwithstanding my sinfulness, Thou hast borne with me so long, and invited me to pardon with so much mercy. Ah, my Saviour, do not permit me evermore to offend Thee, and to merit my own damnation. O God! what torture should I feel in hell at the sight of Thy Blood and of the great mercies Thou hast shown me. I love Thee, and will always love Thee. Give me holy perseverance.

Detach my heart from all love which is not for Thee, and confirm in me a true desire, a true resolution henceforth, to love only Thee, my sovereign good. O Mary, my Mother! Draw me to God, and obtain for me the grace to belong entirely to Him before I die.


A meditation from the great St. John Vianney during this Holy Season of Lent:

“Woe is me, for I have sinned so much during my life”–Confessions of St. Augustine.

Thus spoke St. Augustine, when he thought over his past life, which he had spent incessantly in the abominable vice of impurity. As often as the thought occurred to him, his heart was torn and devoured by repentance. “Oh, my Lord,” he exclaimed, “I have lived without loving Thee; oh, my Lord, how many precious years have I lost! Deign, O Lord, I implore Thee, to efface from Thy memory my past faults!” Oh precious tears, O salutary contrition, which made of such a great sinner so great a saint!
Oh, how quickly does a really contrite heart regain the friendship of God! Ah, would to God, that every time we let our sins pass before our mind’s eye we could say with the repentant St. Augustine: “Ah, woe is me. I have sinned much during my life; have mercy on me, O Lord!” How soon would we alter our mode of living! Yes, my brethren, let us all who are here present, confess with the same fervent repentance and sincerity, that we are great sinners who deserve to experience the full wrath of God. And let us praise God’s infinite mercy, who gives us abundantly of His treasures to solace us in our misery.

If our sins have been ever so great, and our life has been ever so dissolute, we are sure of His pardon, if we follow the example of the prodigal son and throw ourselves with a contrite heart at the feet of the best of fathers. Now let me show to you, my Christian friends, that our repentance must have this quality before it can procure for us pardon for our sins: The sinner must, in consequence of his repentance, hate his sins sincerely, and detest them.

To make you fully understand what repentance, i.e., the pain which our sins should cause our conscience, means, I would have to show you on the one hand the abhorrence which the Lord has for them, and the torments which He had to suffer to gain pardon for them from God the Father, and on the other hand the blessings we lose by committing sin, and the evils which we bring down upon ourselves in the next world; but no man will ever be able to understand this fully.

Where shall I lead you, my brethren, to show you this repentance? Into the solitude of the desert, perhaps, where so many saints spent twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or even eighty years of their lives, bemoaning faults which were no faults in the eyes of the world. No, your heart would not be moved by such as these. Or shall I lead you to the entrance of hell, so that you may hear the woeful cries and howls, and gnashing of teeth, which is caused by the repentance of their sins; but though bitter and hard to bear, their pain and repentance is useless. No, my brethren, you would not learn here the real repentance which you should feel over your sins. Oh, if I could only lead you to the foot of the cross which is still reddened with the precious Blood of our Lord, shed to wash away our sins! Oh, if I could only lead you into that garden of sorrow, where Our Lord shed for our sins, not ordinary tears, but blood, which flowed forth from all the pores of His body! Oh, if I could only show Him to you laden with the cross, staggering along the streets of Jerusalem, at every step He stumbles and is driven on by kicks. Oh, if I could only lead you to Mount Calvary, where Our Lord died, for the sake of our salvation.

But even if I could do all that, it would be necessary that God should give you the grace of inflaming in your heart the burning love of a St. Bernard, who broke out in tears at the mere sight of the cross. Oh, beautiful and precious repentance, how happy is he who harbors thee in his heart! But to whom am I addressing myself: where is he who feels it in his heart? Alas, I do not know. Is it to that headstrong sinner who has abandoned his God and neglected his soul for twenty or thirty years?

No, that would be like trying to soften a rock by pouring water over it. Or to that Christian who has neglected missions, and ceased prayers, and despised the admonitions of his spiritual adviser? No, that would be like trying to heat water by adding ice to it. Or, perhaps, to those persons who feel satisfied if they make their Easter duty , and then, year in and year out, continue in the same sinful course of living. No, those are the victims which are fattened to serve as food for the eternal flames. Or to those Christians who go to Communion every month, and fall back into their sins every day? No, for they are like the blind, who do not know what they do, or what they ought to do.

To whom shall I address myself, then? Alas, I do not know. Oh, my Lord, where shall I look for it, where shall I find it? Yes, my Lord, I know whence it comes and who bestows it. It comes from heaven, and Thou dost bestow it, O Lord. Oh, my Lord, we implore Thee, bestow it upon us, the repentance which crushes and devours our heart; this beautiful repentance which disarms God’s justice and changes an eternity of misery into eternal bliss. Oh, beautiful virtue, how necessary thou art, and how seldom to be found! And yet, without it there can be no pardon, no heaven, and, more than that, without it all is in vain: penance, charity, alms, or anything else we might do to gain the eternal reward.

But we may ask, “What does this word ‘repentance’ mean, and how can we tell whether we have it or not?” My brethren, if you will listen to me, I will explain to you how you can find our whether you have it or not, and if you have it not, how you may obtain it. Now, if you ask me what repentance is, I tell you that it is an anguish of the soul and a detestation for past sin, and a firm resolve never to sin again. Yes, my brethren, this is the foremost of all conditions which God makes before pardoning our sins, and it can never be dispensed with. A sickness which deprives us of speech, may dispense us from confession; a sudden death may dispense us from the necessity of giving satisfaction for our sins during life, but with repentance it is different.

Without it, it is impossible, absolutely impossible, to obtain forgiveness. Yes, my brethren, I must say with deep regret that the want of repentance is the cause of a great number of sacrilegious confessions and Communions, and what is still more to be regretted is the circumstance that many do not realize what a sad state they are in, and live and die in it. Now, my friends, if we have the misfortune to conceal a sin in confession, this sin is constantly before our eyes like a monster which threatens to devour us, and it causes us to soon go to confession again, so as to free ourselves from it. But it is different with repentance; we confess, but our heart does not take part in the accusation which we make against ourselves. We approach the Holy Sacrament with as cold, unfeeling, and indifferent a heart as if performing an indifferent act of no consequence.

Thus we live from day to day, from year to year, until we approach death, when we expect to find that we have done something to our credit, only to discover nothing but sacrileges, which we have committed by our confessions and Communions. Oh, my God, how many Christians there are who will discover at the hour of their death nothing but invalid confessions! But I will not go further into this matter, for fear that I may frighten you, and yet you ought really to be brought to the verge of despair, so that you may stop immediately, and improve your condition right now, instead of waiting until that moment when you will recognize your condition, and when it will be too late to improve it.

But let us continue with our explanation, and you will soon learn, my brethren, whether you had the repentance in all your confessions, which is so absolutely necessary for the forgiveness of sin.

I said that repentance is an anguish of soul. It is absolutely necessary that a sinner weep over his sins either in this world or the next. In this world we can wipe out our sins by repentance, but not in the next. We should be very grateful to our dear Lord that the anguish of our soul is sufficient for Him to let it be followed by eternal joy, instead of making us suffer that eternal repentance and those awful tortures which would be our lot in the next life, that is, hell. Oh, my God, with how little art Thou satisfied!

Now, let me tell you that this anguish of soul must have four qualities; if any one of these qualities is wanting, we can not obtain forgiveness for our sins. the first quality is that it must come from the bottom of the heart. It need not necessarily show itself in tears; they are good and useful, but they are not essential. It is a fact that when St. Paul and the penitent thief turned to God, it is not reported that they wept, and yet their anguish of soul was sincere. No, my friends, you must not rely on tears alone. they are often deceiving, and many persons weep in the confessional and fall back into the same sin at the first opportunity. The anguish of soul which God demands of us, is like the one of which the prophet says:

“Rend your heart and not your garments. A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit; a contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

Why does God require that our heart should feel this anguish? Because it is in the heart we commit our sins. “It is in the heart,” says the Lord, “where all bad thoughts, all sinful desires, originate.” Therefore, if our heart is guilty, the heart must suffer, or God will never forgive us. The second quality of this anguish which we must feel over our sins, is that it must be supernatural; that means, that the Holy Ghost and not natural causes must call it forth. To be troubled about a sin one has committed because it would exclude us from paradise and lead us into hell, is a supernatural motive, of which the Holy Ghost is the originator, and will lead to true repentance. But to be troubled about a sin because of the shame which will be the consequence, or the misfortune it will cause us, that is merely a natural sorrow, which does not merit pardon. It is perfectly plain, then, that the anguish of soul caused by our sins, must arise from our love of God and our fear of His chastisement. He who, in his repentance, thinks only of God, feels a perfect repentance. But he who only repents of his sins merely on account of the temporal punishments which they will bring upon him, has no proper repentance and is not justified in expecting forgiveness of his sins. The third quality of repentance is that it must be unlimited, that is, the anguish it calls forth must be greater than any other sorrow, as, for instance, at the loss of our parents, or our health, or in general at the loss of anything that is dearest to us in this life. The reason why our sorrow must be so great, is because it must be equivalent to the loss it will cause us, and the misfortune it will bring us after our death. Imagine, then, how great an anguish ought to be ours over a sin which deprives us of all the glories of heaven, alienates our dear Lord from us, and casts us into hell, which is the greatest of all misfortunes.

But, you may ask, how are we to know whether we possess this true repentance? Nothing is easier. If you have real repentance, you will neither act, nor think, as you did before, and you will change your mode of life completely; you will hate what you have loved and you will love what you have despised and avoided. For instance, if you had to confess that in action and speech you were of a hasty temper, you would hereafter be remarkable for your gentleness of behavior, and your consideration for all. You need not trouble yourself whether you have made a perfect confession, as errors are easily committed, but the consequence of your confession should be that the people say of you: “how he has changed; he is not the same man. A wonderful change has taken place in him!” Oh, my Lord, how rare are the confessions which cause such a great change! The fourth and last quality is that repentance must be comprehensive. We see in the lives of the saints, in regard to the comprehensiveness of repentance, that we can not receive pardon for one mortal sin, even if we have properly repented the same, if we do not feel the same repentance for all our mortal sins.

History furnishes us with an example which shows us how absolutely necessary the saints considered this anguish over our sins, to obtain forgiveness. One of the papal officers fell sick. The Holy Father, who had a high esteem of his bravery and sanctity of life, sent one of his cardinals to express his sympathy, and to give him absolution. “Tell the Holy Father,” said the dying man to the Cardinal, “that I am very thankful to him for his tender regard, but tell him also that I would be infinitely more thankful to him if he would pray to God to obtain for me the grace of a true repentance for my sins. Oh!” he cried, “what good is anything to me if my heart does not break with anguish at the thought that I have offended so good a God. Oh, Lord, if it be possible, make the repentance over my sins equal to the offense which I have given you!”

And this disposition is obtained by prayer–earnest, fervent prayer. “Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels. Cast me not away from thy face, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me,” etc. (Ps.1.12). Joined to this repentance will naturally be a firm resolve not to comit the sin again; and this is the contrite and humble heart which God will not despise.

Such a one He will receive again as His child, and restore to him all the privileges of a child of God, and heir to the Heavenly Kingdom.

The purpose of Lent is repentance and reparation for our sins.  We are in a fearsome battle with satan and sin.  With Our Lord at our side, we will conquer.

~Damsel of the Faith

Ash Wednesday

Instruction for Lent
by Leonard Goffine, 1871

Who instituted Lent?

According to the fathers of the Church, Justinus and Irenaeus, the fast before Easter was instituted and sanctified by Christ Himself; according to the saints Leo and Jerome, the holy apostles ordained it after Jesus’ example.

Why is the fast required, and why for forty days before Easier?

In imitation of Christ’s forty days’ fast for us; to participate in the fasting and sufferings of Christ, by voluntary mortification, as did St. Paul, who sought thus to fill up what was wanting of the sufferings of Christ (Col. i. 24.); that we may subject our flesh to the spirit, and mortify our evil desires; that we may lead a pure life, and thus prepare for the holy festival of Easter, and the reception of the divine Lamb, Jesus; and, finally, that we may render God satisfaction for our sins, and do penance, as Pope Gregory says, by one short fast, lasting for only the tenth part of a year, for the sins of one whole year.

Was fasting observed in old times as well as in the present?

Yes, but much more strictly; for the people then not only abstained from meat, as now, but also from all that which is connected with it, such as: eggs, butter, cheese, &c, even from wine and fish, although this was not the general command of the Church; they fasted all day, and only ate in the evening after vespers, in remembrance of which, vespers are now said before dinner-time, because the Church, as a kind mother, now permits the supper to be changed into a dinner, and also allows something to be taken in the evening, that the body may not be too much weakened, and unfitted for labor.

How much does this ancient custom shame the Christians of today who think the fast in our times too strict! “But,” asks St. Ambrose, “what sort of Christians are they? Christ, who never sinned, fasted for our sins, and we will not fast for our own great and numerous sins?”

How should the holy season of Lent be spent?

As according to the teaching of St. Leo, the main thing in fasting is not the abstinence from food, which is unavailingly kept from the body, if the mind is not at the same time withdrawn from wickedness, we should strive during Lent, not only to be temperate in eating and drinking, but especially to lead a modest life, sanctifying the days by persevering prayer and devoutly attending church.

Prayer for the beginning of Lent

Almighty God! I unite myself at the beginning of this holy season of penance with the Church militant, endeavoring to make these really days of sorrow for my sins and crucifixion of the sensual man. O Lord Jesus! in union with Thy fasting and passion, I offer Thee my fasting in obedience to the Church, for Thy honor, and in thanksgiving for the many favors I have received, in satisfaction for mine and others’ sins, and that I may receive the grace to avoid the sin of _________, and to practise the virtue of __________.

Instruction for Ash Wednesday

Why is this day thus named?

Because on this day the Church blesses ashes, and places them on the heads of her faithful children, with the words: “Remember, man, thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.”

Why is this done?

St. Charles Borromeo gives us the following reasons for this practice: that the faithful may be moved to the heart’s sincere humility; that the heavenly blessing may descend upon them, by which they, being really penitent, will weep with their whole soul for their sins, remembering how earth was cursed because of sin, and we thus have all to return to the dust of earth; that strength to do true penance may be given the body; and that our soul may be endowed with divine force to persevere in penance.

With such thoughts let the ashes be put upon your head, while you ask in all humility and with a contrite heart, for God’s mercy and grace.

Does it please God, that for such reasons, ashes should be put upon our heads?

It does, for God Himself commanded the Israelits to put ashes on themselves for a sign of repentance. (Jer. xxv. : 4.) Thus did David (Ps. ci. 10.) who even strewed ashes on his bread; the Ninivites (Jonas iii. 5.), Judith (Jud. ix.), Mardochai (Esth. iv.), Job (Job xlii. 6.), &c. The Christians of the earliest times followed this practice as often as they did public penance for their sins.

Why from this day until the end of Lent, are the altars draped in violet?

Because, as has been already said, the holy season of Lent is a time of sorrow and penance for sin, and the Church desires externally to demonstrate, by the violet with which she drapes the altar, by the violet vestments worn by the priests, and by the cessation of the organ and festive singing, that we in quiet mourning are bewailing our sins; and to still further impress the spirit of penance upon us, there is usually only a simple crucifix or a picture from Christ’s passion, left visible upon the altar, and devoutly gazing it, the heart is generally prepared for contrition.

In the Introit of this day’s Mass the Church uses the following words by which to make known her zeal for penance, and to move God to mercy: Thou, O Lord, hast mercy on all, and hatest none of those things, which thou hast created; thou winkest at the sins of men, to draw them to repentance, and thou pardonest them; because thou art the Lord our God. (Wis. xi. 24. 25.) Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me; for my soul trusteth in thee. (Ps. lvi. 2.) Glory be to the Father, &c.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Grant, O Lord, that Thy faithful may enter on this solemn fast with suitable piety, and go through it for the benefit of their salvation. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, &c.

LESSON, (Joel ii. 12 – 19.) Thus saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, in weeping, and in mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the Church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of the bride-chamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall weep and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and give not thine inheritance to reproach, that the heathens should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for his land, and hath spared his people. And the Lord answered and said to his people: Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, you shall be filled with them: and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations: saith the Lord Almighty.

EXPLANATION. The Prophet Joel exhorts the Jews to sorrow and penance for their sins, that they might evade the expected judgment to be sent by God upon the city of Jerusalem. He required of them to show their repentance not merely by rending their garments, a sign of mourning with the Jews, but by a truly contrite heart. By this lesson from the prophet, the Church wishes, we should see plainly what qualities our penance should possess, if we desire reconciliation with God, forgiveness of our sins, and deliverance at the Last Day, which qualities are not merely abstinence from food and amusements, but the practice of real mortification of our evil inclinations, thus becoming with our whole heart converted to God.

GOSPEL. (Matt. vi. 16 – 21.) At That Time: Jesus said to his disciples: When you fast be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear to men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face: that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father, who is in secret: and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will reward thee. Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do no break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.

EXPLANATION: Jesus forbids us to look for the praises of men, when performing good works, of which the fast is one, and that which is still worse, to do good, as the Pharisees, from hypocrisy. He also warns us against avarice and the desire for temporal riches, urging us to employ our temporal goods, in giving alms, and doing works of charity, thus laying up treasures of meritorious deeds in heaven, which are there rewarded and will last there forever. “What folly,” says St. Chrysostom, “to leave our goods where we cannot stay, instead of sending them before us where we are going–to heaven!”

Remember, man, that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return. A Blessed Ash Wednesday and beginning of Lent to all my readers.  It is time to pray and do penance, as the Mother of God asked of us in her approved apparitions.

~Damsel of the Faith

Modernist Tactics

Taken from The Angelus, April 2004 Volume XXVII, Number 4.

By Fr. Francois Knittel

We wish to honor Pope St. Pius X, the first canonized pontiff that the good Lord gave us since St. Pius V, by remembering his teachings. The task is not easy, since the teachings of his 11-year pontificate are abundant: his Catechism; [1] frequent Communion [2] and at an earlier age; [3] Catholic Action; [4] devotion to Our Lady; [5] the responsibility of those who govern the Church; [6] the Priesthood; [7] the doctrine of St. Thomas of Aquinas [8] and that of many others.

Some of the most interesting of St. Pius X’s teachings to recall are those on Modernism. The three documents vital to the subject are Lamentabili Sane (July 3, 1907), Pascendi Dominici Gregis (Sept. 8, 1907), and Sacrorum Antistitum (Sept. 1, 1910). Without any doubt, the most well-known aspect of this teaching on Modernism is the description that St. Pius X gives of the successive faces of the Modernist: the philosopher, believer, theologian, critic, apologist, and reformer. It is a long and arduous text that measures up to the challenge which confronted the Church and its magisterium.

As for us, we will emphasize what St. Pius X wrote on the tactics of the Modernists. The holy Pope was worried not only about the doctrinal aspects of this question, but also about the progress of this error in minds and hearts. How could a doctrine so complex, overwhelming, and contrary to the natural structure of human intelligence have such dissemination? How can we justify all the new measures taken by the Pope-Anti-Modernist Oath, vigilance counsels, exclusion of Modernists from the priesthood and teaching positions, prohibition to publish, control over priestly conventions-knowing that the Church always had to fight against one heresy or other in the course of its history? Why such particular treatment? From the very beginning of his encyclical on Modernism, St. Pius X said:

Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ has in this days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ’s kingdom itself. [9]

What are these new arts full of subtlety used by the Modernists unmasked by the Pontiff?

Enemies Within

Above all, they are the enemy inside the Church itself. For if we consult our catechism, we will see that those who are outside the Church are the infidels, the heretics, the schismatics, and the apostates. Some were never part of the Church (infidels), some abandoned the Church because of their sins against the Faith (heretics and apostates), or against charity (schismatics), but all, some sooner than others, separated themselves from the Church. That very same separation had the advantage of clarifying the situation and alerting the Catholic faithful against the teachings and actions of these “devouring wolves.”

Nothing of the sort happened with the Modernists whose primary characteristic is to try to stay within the Church at all cost:

That we make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuous they appear. [10]

We allude…to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself,…and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church.

..And this policy they follow willingly and wittingly, both because it is part of their system that authority is to be stimulated but not dethroned, and because it is necessary for them to remain within the ranks of the Church in order that they may gradually transform the collective conscience-thus unconsciously avowing that the common conscience is not with them, and that they have no right to claim to be its interpreters. [11]

Thus it is obvious that there is a firm desire not to get out of the visible structure of the Church, so that they can, at their whim, modify it from the inside. These are the wolves mentioned by Our Lord, “in the clothing of sheep” (Mt. 7:15). Their dissimulation is not accidental, but essential to their works; without it they could not do anything.

Destroying the Catholic Faith Itself

By remaining within the Church under false pretenses, the Modernists try to modify, and thus destroy, the Catholic Faith. Their attacks are not going to be against an institution or a dogma in particular, but will aim at the very virtue of faith:

Moreover they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fires. And having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic Truth from which they hold their hand, none that they do not strive to corrupt. [12]

Certainly this suffices to show superabundantly by how many roads Modernism leads to the annihilation of all religion. The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism; the second is made by Modernism; the next will plunge headlong into atheism. [13]

And now, can anybody who takes a survey of the whole system be surprised that We should define it as the synthesis of all heresies? Were one to attempt the task of collecting together all the errors that have been broached against the faith and to concentrate the sap and substance of them all into one, he could no better succeed than the Modernists have done. [14]

It is true that any heresy destroys the Catholic Faith by implicitly doubting the authority of God the Revealer. For if we believe in the revealed truths (Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption, Holy Eucharist, etc.) it is not by personal taste, whim, or opinion, nor because said truths are evident. The only true motive that makes us believe without the shadow of a doubt is precisely the authority of God, who cannot lie, who cannot be in error, who cannot be ignorant. But to deny a dogma is the equivalent of denying God, who unveiled His mysteries for us, His inerrancy and infallibility. It is in that sense that willful heresy will result in the loss of the virtue of faith.

Modernism, as St. Pius X teaches, not only will result in the loss of the virtue of faith like any other heresy, but will even make the existence of said virtue impossible. In Modernism, everything is reduced to a natural dimension, everything is enclosed in the subject, everything is borne out of the desires coming from the depth of consciousness. There is no longer any room for supernatural, mysterious, external, and objective realities. The problem is no longer on this or that particular point of doctrine or morals, but it is the very possibility of the act of faith as defined by our catechism which is destroyed.

Hence “there is no part of Catholic truth which they do not strive to destroy.” Hence also the definition of Modernism as “the synthesis of all heresies.” Hence finally, the ultimate consequence of this revolutionary movement is “atheism.”

Smokescreen of Confusion in Modernist Doctrine

At the service of his will to effect the radical subversion of Catholic doctrine within the Church, the Modernist will use several subterfuges. First, he will mix in his speeches and writings, in a strange and dangerous fashion, Catholicism and Rationalism. What is Rationalism? Pope Pius XI defined it in the Syllabus of Errors (1864) as:

Human reason, without any reference whatsoever to God, is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, and of good and evil; it is law to itself, and suffices, by its natural forces, to secure the welfare of men and nations. (Condemned Propostion No. 3)

Upon reading this definition of Rationalism, we cannot but notice the radical opposition between Rationalism and the Catholic Faith. One of the infallible signs betraying the Modernist character of an author or some writing, is precisely that adulterous union between Catholicism and Rationalism:
For they double the part of the rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error. [15]

Hence, in their books you find some things that might well be expressed by a Catholic, but in the next page you will find other things which might have been dictated by a rationalist.  [16]

This adulterous union between Catholic thought and rationalist thought is the direct result of the Modernist’s will to stay within the Church in order to change the Faith from inside. To speak clearly against the Faith would immediately render them visible and mark them in everyone’s eyes with the infamous seal of heresy and apostasy! That is why they never speak clearly.

Every Modernist sustains and comprises within himself many personalities which appear and disappear according to the necessities of the cause and the opportunities of the moment. It is this evidence which gave the encyclical Pascendi its particular structure. To reveal the Modernist in hiding, St. Pius X had to explain in detail all the disguises, tricks and feints used by the Modernist to avoid the judgment of the Magisterium:

It must be first noted that every Modernist sustains and comprises within himself many personalities: he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished from one another by all who would accurately know their system and thoroughly comprehend the principles and consequences of their doctrines.  [17]

Lastly, the final trait of the Modernist: he gives the impression that his doctrines lack global vision. Thus, in the eyes of an unwary Catholic, the doctrines of the Modernists will appear fluctuating, insecure, indecisive, and even contradictory. Pope Pius X did not share that view as he explained in several instances:

But since the Modernists…employ a very clever artifice, namely, to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement into one whole, scattered and disjointed one from another, so as to appear to be in doubt and uncertainty, while in reality they are firm and steadfast, it will be of ad vantage… to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out the connection between them, and thus to pass an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil. [18]

In the writing and addresses they seem not infrequently to advocate now one doctrine now another so that one would be disposed to regard them as vague and doubtful. But there is a reason for this, and it is to be found in their ideas as to the mutual separation of science and faith. [19]

It may be…that some may think We have dwelt too long on this exposition of the doctrines of the Modernists. But it was necessary, both in order to refute their customary charge that We do not understand their ideas, and to show that their system does not consist in scattered and unconnected theories but in a perfectly organized body, all the parts of which are solidly joined so that it is not possible to admit one without admitting all. [20]

Undoubtedly, one of the benefits of Pascendi Gregis was to show the Modernist doctrine in all its scope and as a coherent system. To stick one’s finger into the Modernist machinery is to lose your whole body. To be Modernist in history will lead, little by little, to become so in exegesis and philosophy as well. The adulterous union between Catholic principles and rationalist principles is a fundamental perversion very frequently condemned by the Popes.

Practice of Modernism

After showing us how the Modernists are the enemy within, who endanger the very Faith without ever giving a global overview of their system, Pope Pius X unmasked three practical points that make the Modernists actions particularly dangerous. When in spite of their deceptions, some Modernists are unmasked by the authority, called to public retractation, or even publicly condemned, they usually give the appearance of submission to the measures that affect them:
But you know how fruitless has been Our action. They bowed their head for a moment but it was soon uplifted more arrogantly than ever.  [21]

And thus, here again a way must be found to save the full rights of authority on the one hand and of liberty on the other. In the meanwhile the proper course for the Catholic will be to proclaim publicly his profound respect for authority-and continue to follow his own bent. [22]

And so they go their own way, reprimands and condemnations notwithstanding, masking an incredible audacity under a mock semblance of humility. While they make a show of bowing their heads, their hands and minds are more intent than ever on carrying out their purposes. [23]

That apparent submission is perfectly coherent with the deliberate decision of the Modernists to stay in the Church. If they rebelled against authority or openly despised the truths of our Faith, they would thus unmask themselves. That apparent submission to the decisions of the authorities, even hard penalties, is a key element of Modernist tactics.

The other side of the coin in that the return of a Modernist to the totality of the Faith is always doubtful. How can one be certain of the sincerity of such a conversion when dissimulation and hypocrisy are at the root of the system? Didn’t all these fashionable Modernist theologians of the last 50 years repeatedly swear the Anti-Modernist Oath: Chenu, Rahner, Congar, Küng, Drewerman and Boff, to mention a few? With that apparent submission to the authorities, Modernists frequently lead as well an externally exemplary life:

To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they posses, as a rule, a reputation for the strictest morality. [24]

Here, too, they could not remain in the Church without apparently keeping the discipline of the Church and its way of life. The apostate or the one who seeks laicization will bring himself to the attention of the Catholic faithful.

In virtue of the necessary connection between what one thinks and what one does, it is legitimate to think that this exemplary life is nothing but external. Let us recall for instance, the weird relations maintained by Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Rahner, [25] or Hans Urs von Balthasar, [26] and of the prince of liberation theologians, the Franciscan Leonardo Boff who recently abandoned the priesthood. [27]

Attracting Public Opinion

The last Modernist tactic indicated by Pope Pius X is the manipulation of public opinion. This manipulation is done in two phases: 1) It is necessary to silence any serious opponent of Modernism. Any serious debate with said opponent will be avoided, his works opposed to Modernism will not be mentioned, and their publication will even be prevented if possible, and 2) at the same time, every Modernist speech or book will be praised to the sky. The use and multiplication of pen names used by some Modernist authors will give the impression of a wave of opinion, when frequently, in fact, we are dealing with a few authors singing one another’s praises.

…[t]he boundless effrontery of these men. Let one but open his mouth and the others applaud him in chorus, proclaiming that science has made another step forward; let an outsider but hint at a desire to inspect the new discovery with his own eyes, and they are on him in a body; deny it, and you are an ignoramus; embrace and defend it, and there is no praise too warm for you. In this way they win over any who, did they but realize what they are doing, would shrink back with horror. [28]

But of all the insults they heap on them, those of ignorance and obstinacy are the favorites. When an adversary rises up against them with an erudition and force that render him redoubtable, they try to make a conspiracy of silence around him to nullify the effects of his attacks, while in flagrant contrast with this policy towards Catholics, they load with constant praise the writers who range themselves on their side. [29]

When one of their numbers falls under the condemnation of the Church the rest of them, to the horror of good Catholics, gather round him, heap public praise upon him, venerate him almost as a martyr to truth. [30]

Under their own names and under pseudonyms they publish numbers of books, newspapers, reviews, and sometimes one and the same writer adopts a variety of pseudonyms to trap the incautious reader into believing in a whole multitude of Modernist writers. [31]

When truth is no longer the measure of the validity of an argument, then there is no other way than to look for palliatives to cover its intrinsic weakness. In an era of democracy, truth does not count for much, only the majority; neither does honesty, only power and fame. On the contrary, woe to those who do not blow with the prevalent winds of history. Woe to those who do not board the great ship of progress. They will be buried alive in a lead coffin. They will not find publishers for their books, nor a single magazine for their articles, no chair for them to teach, and the faithful will never hear their voice even though it is the voice of the Good Shepherd.

A Secret Society?

To conclude his analysis of Modernist tactics with practical advice, Pope Pius X called for the unmasking of Modernism. Faced with such hypocritical and deceitful error, only one thing needs to be done: bring it out to the light of day so that all can see its evil.

We must now break silence, in order to expose before the whole Church in their true colors those men who have assumed this evil disguise. [32]

It is very interesting to compare this order of the Holy Pontiff with that of his predecessor Pope Leo XIII in the encyclical Humanum Genus in condemnation of Freemasonry:

We wish it to be your rule first of all to tear away the mask from Freemasonry, and to let it be seen as it really is. [33]

The comparison of these two texts-one on Modernism and the other on Freemasonry-does suggest a similarity between these two revolutionary events. The two Pontiffs seems to suggest a kinship between the Masonic sect and the Modernist sect. Perhaps some will think excessive the use of the expression “Modernist sect.” However, here too, we are only echoing the teachings of Pope St. Pius X:

We think it is obvious to every bishop that the type of men called Modernists, whose personality was described in the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, have not stopped agitating in order to disturb the peace of the Church. Nor have they ceased to recruit followers to the extent of forming an underground group. In this way they are injecting the virus of their doctrine into the veins of Christian society, publishing books and articles either unsigned or under false names. A fresh and careful reading of Our said encyclical reveals clearly that this deliberate shrewdness is to be expected from those men We described in it. They are enemies all the more formidable as they are so close. They take advantage of their ministry by offering their poisoned food and catching the unguarded by surprise. They supply a false doctrine which is the compendium of all errors. [34]

Thus, St. Pius X did speak of the Modernists as an “underground group.” Few authors have noticed and examined this detail. In an article of April 1964, Jean Madiran did made the following observations:

In the encyclical Pascendi, Pope Pius X mentioned several times and in various manners the “occult” action of Modernists. Is it a secret society in the strict sense? The encyclical Pascendi implies it though does not affirm it clearly.

Three years later, however, this formal accusation was made by Pope Pius X (Sacrorum Antistitum of Sept. 1, 1910):

“The Modernists, whose personality was described in the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, have not stopped agitating in order to disturb the peace of the Church. Neither have they ceased to recruit followers to the extent of forming an underground group.”

…We have consulted books and magazines that gave the “history” or the “results” of Modernism since World War II: we did not find any mention of this specific aspect of the question. Not only is the secret society is omitted, but the presentation of Modernism made by many authors implicitly denied it ever existed. It is denied by the fact that their presentation of Modernism is incompatible with the existence of the secret society of Modernists. They do mention writers, investigators, editors, and clergymen undoubtedly in error, but guileless souls: certainly true for many, but insufficient to explain the historical phenomenon of Modernism. It does not explain its organized preponderance, nor the concerted campaigns, nor the medley of insults and praises, nor the premeditated tactics, nor the occult activities described in the encyclical Pascendi. Neither does it explain the accusation of “underground group” of the Motu Proprio of Sept. 1, 1910 [Sacrorum Antistitum].

All the stories of the Modernist crisis, these “analyses” of Modernism, and the judgments expressed have been radically corrupted because of the systematic ignorance and dissimulation of such an important element of judgment… By hiding the existence of the secret society, the historians obviously did not shed any light on its disappearance.

Nonetheless, this is an unresolved historical question, indeed, an open question, that is, when did the secret society of Modernists cease to exist? We cannot even ask if they were “reconstituted” at a later date, for to be reconstituted it is necessary to have ceased to exist; but we do not know if and when it was dissolved. Not only is no answer given, but the question itself is not even raised.

Historians of the crisis think that the encyclical Pascendi in 1907 mortally wounded Modernism and that that was the end of it, and even too brutal and complete of an end. That was not the position of Pope Pius X who, three years later, on Sept. 1, 1910, clearly affirmed: “Nor have they ceased to recruit followers to the extent of forming an underground group.” They had not ceased. But then, when did they cease? Or did they ever cease? [35]

The Modernist Is an Apostate and a Traitor

In conclusion, we will let Fr. Calmel, O.P., give us a panoramic view of the question of Modernism in its theological, moral, spiritual, and tactical aspects:
The classic heretic-Arius, Nestorius, Luther-even if he had some wistful desire to remain in the Catholic Church, did everything necessary to be ousted. He fought openly against Divine Revelation, the sacred deposit of which is guarded by the Church. The heretic, or more accurately the Modernist apostate like a Loisy or Teilhard de Chardin, deliberately rejects the whole doctrine of the Church, but desires to remain in the Church and takes the necessary measures to stay in. He dissembles and feigns with the hope of changing the Church in the long run-or, as the Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin wrote, to rectify the Faith-from the inside. The Modernist has in common with other heretics the rejection of Catholic Revelation. But he differentiates himself from other heretics, because he hides this rejection. We must insist on this: the Modernist is an apostate and a traitor.

You may ask, “Since the position of the Modernists is fundamentally disloyal, how can he keep it all his life without destroying his internal mental balance?” Is psychological balance compatible with a perpetually maintained duplicity in the most supreme questions? We must answer that yes it is, as far as the ringleaders are concerned.

With respect to the followers, the question of the psychological imbalance within a never-failing hypocrisy is less acute. When these followers are priests-alas, only too frequently-they usually end up marrying, thus putting an end to the necessity of dissimulation. For once they are married, they will continue to be apostate, but will stop being Modernists. Things become clearer with respect to them. They no longer have to fake the virtues of a Catholic priest.

Concerning the ringleaders, prelates with important charges, if they can practice their Modernism without serious damage, it is with a doubt because they are distracted by accomplices who never get tired of singing their praises. Distracted from looking at themselves, they manage to escape the burning questions of a slowly dying moral conscience.

In any case, the blindness of the mind and the hardening of the heart will always be the end of the road, but without necessarily leading to dementia. We are certain that closing oneself in spiritual darkness does not happen at once, but it is prepared slowly by numerous acts of resistance to grace. This divine chastisement is merited by numerous sins. What is more, if any other sinner can recognize himself as such and beg divine mercy, we must admit that a sinner of that type cannot convert if not for a great miracle of grace: a very rare one.

Translated exclusively for Angelus Press by Fr. Jaime Pazat de Lys of the Society of Saint Pius X. The author, Fr. Francis Knittel, ordained for the Society of Saint Pius X in 1989, is its District Superior of Mexico.

1. Acerbo Nimis (April 15, 1905).

2. Sacra Tridentina Synodus (Dec. 20, 1905).

3. Quam Singulari (Aug. 8, 1910).

4.Il Fermo Proposito (June 11, 1905).

5. Ad Diem Ilium Laetissimum (Feb. 2, 1904).

6. Jucunda Sane (Mar. 12, 1904).

7. Hcerent Animo (Aug. 4, 1908).

8. Doctoris Angelicis (June 29, 1914).

9. Pascendi Dominici Gregis, ed. Claudia Carlin (Pierian Press), p.71.

10. Ibid., col. 2.

11. Ibid., p.83, col. 2.

12. Ibid., p.72, col. 1.

13. Ibid., p.90, col. 1.

14. Ibid., p.89, col. 1.

15. Ibid., p.72, col. 1.

16. Ibid., p.78, cols. 1,2.

17. Ibid., p.72, col. 2.

18. Ibid., p.72, col 2.

19. Ibid., p.78,col. 1.

20. Ibid., p.88, col. 1.

21. AW., p.72, col. 1.

22. AW, p.82, col. 1.

23. AW., p.83, col. 2.

24. Ibid., p.72, col. 1.

25. Courrier de Rome, (March 1995), p.8.

26. Si Si No No, Italian ed., (Dec. 1992), p.7.

27.Translator’s note: He died shortly thereafter.

28. Pascendi, p.86, col. 2.

29. Ibid., p.9l, col.2; p.92, col 1.

30. Ibid., p.92, col. 1.

31. Ibid., p.92, col. 1.

32. AW., p.72, cols. 1,2.

33. The Papal Encyclicals, vol. 2 (Pierian Press), p.99, col. 2.
34. Sacrorum Antistitum (Sept. 1, 1910), The Doctrinal Writings of St. Pius X, Sinag-tala Publishers, Manilla, Philippine Islands, 1974.
35. Author’s translation of a Spanish translation (for which he could not find a reference) of an article originally in French.