The aftermath of October 13, 1917

Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24).

May 3, 2017                                                                                                                                   The Feast of the Apostles Saints Phillip and James

In the weeks immediately following the day the sun danced before 70,000 astonished witnesses who fell on their faces and implored the Mercy of God in the Cova da Iria two events occurred in the world which would in time fundamentally alter the worldview of everyone who went by the name of Christian.  They collapsed the last pillars of what had been the worldly foundation of the Christian order and sowed horrible seeds of confusion that have borne and continue to bear malignant fruit throughout the Church and the world to this day.

1) The Russian Revolution

When the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd on the night of November 7-8, 1917, three and one half weeks after the Miracle of the Sun, it was the end of an era.  It was the end of the false peace which had prevailed in Europe since Napoleon Bonaparte had overthrown the French Directory on November 9, 1799.  Between 1799 and 1917 the peoples of Europe nourished in their breast in varying degrees the delusion that Christ and Belial could coexist and they were wrong.

The governments of that period did not produce any Robespierres who set up guillotines to butcher priests and nuns and bishops and make the streets run with their blood.  No, these were civilized men.  All the issues were debated responsibly in the newly formed and much exalted at the time popular legislative bodies.  These men calmly proposed and gently cajoled and thoughtfully persuaded their colleagues to vote on and to pass laws that at first slowly put an onerous tax burden on Church property, imposed mandatory military service on the clergy, and little by little removed the Church from the role she had in educating the young.  And the people for the most part went along with it.  They wanted all the high sounding rhetoric of 1789 about the ‘rights of man,’ but refused to remember the barbaric terrorism of 1793.

They thought that they could retain the fruits of Christian civilization while they little by little pushed the Catholic Church first to the sidelines and then completely out of their national lives.  They thought that the teachings of the Church could be ignored and yet they would continue to receive the blessings of civilization which she had first bestowed on their barbarian ancestors so long before.  They thought that they could boldly proclaim that man was free to worship any god he wished or no god at all and yet somehow they would continue to live under the protection of the God who had given life to both themselves and their nations.  They were wrong.

God was merciful and patient with them.  He sent them some of the greatest popes in the history of the Church to warn them of the perilous path they were on.  Blessed Pius IX and Leo XIII (read any of his encyclicals here) spent the entirety of both of their extremely long papacies that spanned the period 1846-1903 warning the peoples of Europe at the top of their lungs not to fall into the trap that was being set for them.  They never listened.  He sent them what was at the time the most terrible war in human history starting in 1914 to make them see the consequences of the path they had pursued.  They did not repent.  On October 13, 1917 the sun danced in Portugal to show them that indeed there was a God and that He was in fact paying attention.  They did not hear.  On the night of November 7-8, 1917 his patience ended and He gave to the children of Adam their hearts’ desire.

A radical movement of men whose sole purpose for existing seemed to be the annihilation of even the memory of God from the mind of the human race at first seized control of the Winter Palace in Petrograd, then the city of Petrograd, then the Russian government itself, and then after a long and bloody civil war gained control over the largest country on earth.  They established the first militantly atheistic regime in human history.  And they did not go away.

Unlike the quasi atheistic French revolutionary governments of the 1790s this regime endured.  They simply murdered anyone in that vast territory who would, could, or one day might even think of opposing them.  Mass graves are still being stumbled into all over Russia  The Church in Russia was not merely suppressed, it was annihilated.  And they made sure there would be no going back.

The secret societies who had fomented the French Revolution 130 years before knew that they had tried for too much too soon in those days and had caused a terrible reaction that was inimical to their interests.  They did not make that mistake again.  They exhibited a diabolical patience likely forced on them by necessity during the nineteenth century.  They were able to influence legislative bodies to push the Church out of her role educating the young and replace her with their own members or sympathizers.  They struck from the shadows and planned and plotted in dark corners and spewed their venom over the whole earth.  With each successive generation the role of the Church and of God assumed less importance in the lives of people and in the life of the nation, and by the turn of the twentieth century the very Existence of God was treated by societal elites (and sadly by more than a few clergy) as a mere philosophical proposition.  When 1917 rolled around there remained very few men of influence in the world who had the will to fight this thing.  Finally they were ready to strike.

Once their position in Russia was secure they founded their new state, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, and used the enormous resources of that country to fund state institutions that aligned themselves with like minded movements abroad to foment atheistic revolution in various forms throughout the world while starving the Russian people.  By the time the USSR finally died out three quarters of a century after the Miracle of the Sun atheism had become the guiding principle of most peoples’ lives throughout the formerly Christian world.  Sure, some of them might say they are ‘christian’ or that they believe in some notion of God or another, or they may even go to a building on Sunday to sing some songs with other people who also claimed to be ‘christian,’ but all of that has had very little effect on how they live their lives.  And in Europe which had once been the seed ground of the Catholic Church and for more than a millennium had seen her as the foundation of her existence they do not even do that.  Russia will spread her errors throughout the world.

2) The taking of Jerusalem

On December 9, 1917, fifty-seven days after the Miracle of the Sun, the British Army under the command of General Sir Edmund Allenby took control of Jerusalem, seizing it from the Ottoman Turks.  Thus ended 673 years of continuous Muslim control of the holy city stretching back to August 23, 1244 and the fall of the last Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem to the Khwarezmian Turks.  But the men who seized it in 1917 were no longer Christians.

By 1917 the British people had been separated from the Church of Rome for almost four centuries.  And even what Christianity remained among the Anglicans was rapidly waning as those isles became subsumed in the vast materialistic wave that came with a global empire.  By 1917 the religion of the British Empire was the British Empire: an empire that would soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Read an excerpt from General Allenby’s proclamation when he entered the city:

Furthermore, since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore, do I make it known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.

Guardians have been established at Bethlehem and on Rachel’s Tomb.  The tomb at Hebron has been placed under exclusive Moslem control.

The hereditary custodians at the gates of the Holy Sepulchre have been requested to take up their accustomed duties in remembrance of the magnanimous act of the Caliph Omar, who protected that church.

One can understand the need to maintain peace in the city, but are these the words of a Christian?  Would Richard the Lionheart have made this ridiculous statement?  Was that city only sanctified by “prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions”?  Did not something else happen there that made General Allenby’s ancestors walk on their knees to do penance in that holy place?  Did not the Eternal Word Himself take flesh and sacrifice Himself to redeem us from our sins on a hill in that city?  Did not He rise from the dead in that city?  Does any of that matter?

If it was only the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes from three different religions who are diametrically opposed to each other on the most important question of human existence that ‘sanctified’ this place then who cares?  If that is all it is then your local city landfill is of much more use to you than Jerusalem.  This proclamation is a supreme example of the religious indifferentism that had been destroying Europe since the French Revolution and it is why British rule of the Holy Land failed so miserably.  But why is this important to us?

The British conquest of the Holy Land and the subsequent failure of its rule opened the door to the return of the Jews to control the land for the first time in nineteen centuries.  The nationalist tide that had been rising up in Europe since 1789 swept up the Jews and gave birth to the Zionist movement in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  They saw the British advance toward Palestine as Our Lady was making her final Apparition in Fatima in the fall of 1917 as a once in a millennium opportunity and took full advantage of it.

During the British rule of Palestine the Jewish population dramatically increased and after the Second World War the sympathy generated by the Nazi massacre of six million Jews in Europe led to the British evacuation of Palestine, its partition, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.  Nineteen years later in 1967 the Israeli Army conquered the whole land and brought the whole of Jerusalem under Jewish control for the first time since they days of the Apostles.  But why is this important?

Since the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70 and the final mass expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land by the Emperor Hadrian sixty years later the Church had had something tangible to point to when proclaiming that the Old Covenant had been fulfilled and the New Covenant had superseded it.  The pagan Emperor Domitian had even done her the favor of carving into stone on the Arch of his brother Titus (who had been the one to destroy the Jewish Temple) in the city of Rome a memorial of that event that still remains with us to this day:

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One finds this consistently mentioned by Christian apologists from the earliest Fathers until the end of the nineteenth century and everywhere in between.  This was their visible, tangible proof.  The Jews had been expelled from the land and had never returned.  The Temple had been destroyed and never rebuilt.  The sacrifice of bulls and goats had ceased and never recommenced.  The priesthood of Aaron was dead and gone and replaced forever by the Catholic priesthood.  There were clear and visible signs: it was an easy argument to make.

But on December 9, 1917 the British Army conquered Palestine.  The Jewish population of the land multiplied greatly.  In 1948 the Jews in Palestine declared the State of Israel.  In 1967 the Israeli army conquered Jerusalem and put the Jews in control of the city for the first time since the days of the Apostles.  That argument became less easy to make, and those of weak faith have begun to waver.  The identity of the Catholic Church as the New Israel, which she is, has become less easy to express in these days in the minds of some.  Strange and highly destructive theologies such as the ‘dual covenant’ theory have emerged.

The Jews are once again masters of the holy city, masters of the temple mount.  And the presence of the Al Aqsa Mosque in that place and the fear of a massive Muslim retaliation is probably the only thing that prevents them from attempting to rebuild the ancient Temple.  There is a movement afoot in Israel, a small minority movement but a very passionate minority, to rebuild that Temple no matter what the cost.  The political situation in the wider Middle East is so chaotic right now that we have no idea what things will look like tomorrow, much less next month or next year.  Who can say what will happen there?  This monument to the designs of that sect stands above the Western Wall plaza probably less than a thousand feet from where the Holy of Holies once stood:

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Taken August 2, 2011

Yet the Truth is still the Truth.  What was true in 1917 AD and was true in 917 AD and was true in 517 AD and was true in 117 AD is still true in 2017 AD.  He who lives in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church is something greater if I may say so that He who was present in the ancient Holy of Holies.  The One in the tabernacle is both God and Man.  He is the Word made flesh and He dwells among us.

We live in very strange times where illusions and delusions lurk around every corner and are constantly reaching out to strangle the best of us.  Pray and keep watch.  The Faith of the ancients is still the Truth, even if appearances have changed.  After all, while Our Lord did prophesy that the Jews would be driven from Jerusalem, He also prophesied that they would come back.  And if anything ever does get built in Jerusalem it will be starkly empty of any Divine Presence.  All this is merely a sign of the times.

Pray.  Pray very much.  Pray the Rosary every day.  Never lose consciousness of God.  Our Lady has given us at Fatima a way through this catastrophe: her Immaculate Heart.

Turkey enters the cauldron

The Feast of the Guardian Angels

The Turkish Parliament voted today 298-98 to authorize the use of the Turkish military in Syria and Iraq to fight against the Islamic State.  The motion also authorizes the presence of foreign ‘armed forces’ on Turkish soil to conduct military operations in those same countries.  The Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz stated before the vote that no one should expect any immediate Turkish action, so there may be a bit of a wait before we see how this has changed the situation in Syria, in Iraq, and in the Middle East as a whole.  But things have most definitely changed.

First the vote would seem to have given the United States Air Force the green light, with the permission of the Turkish government, to operate from its base in southern Turkey at Incirlik.  This dramatically decreases the distance that American aircraft have to fly before engaging in combat and will give them more time to operate on station and greater freedom to strike targets.  If this aspect of the situation is taken advantage of then the effectiveness of the air campaign against the Islamic State should see a dramatic improvement.

Now for the tricky part.  Ninety eight Turkish MPs voted against this authorization.  And they had their reasons.  The current Turkish AKP government headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ahmet Davutoglu has a long standing grudge against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.  This government had cozied up quite close to Assad in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Syrian civil war but that turned sour when Assad started using his armed forces to attack demonstrators in the early months of the uprising.  Since that time the Turkish government has openly supported and armed several rebel factions inside Syria.  There have even been brief military dust ups along the Syria/Turkey border with a Turkish fighter plane being shot down in June of 2012, several cross border mortar attacks, and a car bombing in the town of Reyhanli on the Turkish side of the border that killed forty three people in May of 2013 for which the Turkish government pinned the blame on Syrian intelligence services.

The deputy chairman of the opposition CHP, as well as a member of the Kurdish HDP party accused the government of wanting to fight the Syrian regime, not the Islamic State.  There is good reason to question the Turkish government’s enthusiasm for fighting the Islamic State since they have turned a blind eye to both supplies and militants going in to the group’s territory and oil coming out from that territory.  So we shall see.  There have been reports for years that the Erdogan government in Turkey wanted to send troops into Syria to establish some sort of buffer zone along the border. This was seen as a part of the AKP Party’s dream of getting more involved in the Middle East, a region the Turkish government had largely turned its back on after the abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate in 1922.  Now they might actually do it.  And how will the Assad regime respond?  Will Turkish troops use the pretext of the Islamic State to march south once again into the old Ottoman lands of Syria and Mesopotamia?  I don’t know but I suspect that if they do so they won’t find the going nearly so easy as it once might have been.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

 

Meanwhile the Islamic State advances…

While presidents and prime ministers dither in Washington, London, Baghdad, Paris name your capital the Islamic State staged another advance and captured twenty one Kurdish villages in northern Syria along the Turkish border during the last forty eight hours.  The low casualty count among the Kurdish forces protecting the area, seven reported killed, is a likely indicator that whoever was supposed to be defending these villages simply ran away.

The rather confused Western response since June to the menace of the Islamic State is strange since the group/state (whatever they are) could easily have been defeated then and probably still could be now by a fraction of the power that the United States military is capable of bringing to bear.  But instead worry and doubt and confusion cloud the eyes of American and European leaders and their publics.  If one looks at history, especially Biblical history, one finds that at moments of great historical change a certain blindness overtakes those who are accounted powerful.  All of the sudden they just are not capable of doing what on paper they should be able to do with great ease.  It just isn’t in them anymore.  Strange, isn’t it?  Are we at one of those historical moments?  Time will tell.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

Another small step toward the end of Iraq…

The Feast of Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and his Companions

Another small yet not insignificant step toward the dissolution of that grand creation of a now long dead empire: the Republic of Iraq.  The President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Massoud Barzani today withdrew (in Arabic here) all Kurdish ministers from the cabinet of Iraq’s central government headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.  This comes a day after Maliki accused the Kurdish regional government of harboring terrorists from the Islamic State in its domains.

Turnarounds are always possible, but Iraq seems unlikely to keep on existing in the form we have known it.  I suppose that Iran could throw an immense weight of forces into fighting the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq and make a supreme national effort to destroy the wannabe caliphate led by its remarkably uncharismatic khalifa before it gets a real head of steam going.  Possible, always possible but unlikely.  Or Russia could decide that they don’t want a jihadi empire rising up to their south and decide to give serious backing to Maliki, but after his lightning annexation of Crimea Vladimir Putin no longer seems able to get out of his own way in Ukraine so I would be dubious on that.

Or there could always be a good old fashioned divine miracle, but one really does wonder at this point why the Lord of history would be interested in saving the Iraq that we have known.  In any case those things are beyond my comprehension.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity.

The man who would be Caliph

The Feast of St. Anthony Zaccaria

Today the Islamic State released footage of a man they claim to be Caliph Ibrahim, better known to the world by his nom de guerre Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

 

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi addressing worshipers at a mosque in Mosul (http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/middleeast/2014/07/140705_iraq_security_retirement.shtml)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi addressing worshipers at a mosque in Mosul (http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/middleeast/2014/07/140705_iraq_security_retirement.shtml)

Baghdadi apparently addressed worshippers at a mosque in central Mosul and declared that he was their (والي) or custodian/leader/guardian, there isn’t really a great English translation.  He also declared that while he was ‘not the best of you’ he expected to be obeyed by all Muslims if he followed Allah and advised of it if he erred though how well men like this take advice on their errors remains an open question.  His declaration of a caliphate and himself as caliph has met largely with scorn and derision from across the Muslim world, but time will tell.  If the Islamic State can continue to string together victories in Iraq and Syria then who knows?  Muslims from around the world who are starved for leadership (a condition we Catholics can relate to, though we are looking for a far different kind of leader; stop being so enamored with this passing world priests and bishops and Holy Father and just preach the Gospel!) may flock to him.  We shall see.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

A first step toward the official end of Iraq

The Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

The Iraqi state, cobbled together by the now long dead British Empire from the former Ottoman provinces of Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul in the aftermath of the First World War, appears to be coming to its end.  The fruits of the 2003 American invasion are now laid bare for all to see.  The gains of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, over the past three weeks in the north and west of Iraq and the inability of the Baghdad government to reconquer this territory have now opened up an opportunity for the Kurds to achieve their dream, which is as old as Iraq itself, to cut off their own region from Baghdad’s control and form their own state.

The president of the Kurdish regional government Massoud Barzani today asked the Kurdish parliament to form an electoral commission for the purpose of conducting an independence referendum.  No date has been set but there is no doubt as to the outcome.  And whenever they decide to do it this referendum will eliminate any chance of putting Iraq as it has been known to the world since the 1920s back together.

What chance the Kurdish state will have in the future I cannot say; there are powers in the Middle East such as Israel who see it as some sort of buffer against the rise of the Islamic State but we shall see.  Meanwhile the Islamic State is gaining strength (doubtless due to the influx of Iraqi weapons) in Syria and has taken control of large parts of the Euphrates valley.  Only the Syrian government controlled town of Deir az-Zour stands between the Islamic State and its control over the whole of the Euphrates valley from Raqqa to Haditha.  All of this while other Syrian rebels are saying that they will give up fighting against the Islamic State.  Nothing succeeds like success, as IS is showing right now.  Events are fluid in the Middle East and it has been a long time since the world has seen so much that most people take for granted across the world in such doubt across such a wide region.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

Caliphate: June 29, 2014

On this feast of Saints Peter and Paul the Shura council of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام ) has now, officially at least, transformed the Islamic state into a caliphate, with its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph (الخليفة) of all Muslims and its borders stretching from Aleppo to Diyala province of Iraq.  Caliph is the ancient Islamic term for a position that by the Catholic mind may well considered a combination of Pope and Emperor.  The first four caliphs conquered much of what is now the Islamic world in a series of lightning campaigns that greatly weakened what was left of the Catholic Roman Empire in the east and destroyed the Sassanian Persian Empire during the half century after Muhammad’s death.   After that the position, while remaining powerful, diminished in the eyes of the Muslims as it was occupied by a series of corrupt rulers with the title then being tossed around after the destruction of the Abbasid Empire to whomever was the strongest Muslim ruler of the day before finally landing in the lap of the Ottoman Sultans.  They held it for nigh on half a millennium after they conquered Constantinople and the position was finally eliminated by Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, in 1924.

The importance of this moment will of course only be known in the future.  The Iraqi government is already launching an offensive against the gains made by the Caliphate in northern Iraq but it has brought what can at best be described as mixed results.  This may be a very significant moment or it may be a flash in the pan, but these fighters are determined, cunning, bold, and brutal and that should never be underestimated.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.