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.

July 13, 1917: the matter of Russia

For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land a desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away. In those days and in that time, says the LORD, the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come; and they shall seek the LORD their God…  Behold, I am stirring up and bringing against Babylon a company of great nations, from the north country; and they shall array themselves against her; from there she shall be taken… Behold, a people comes from the north; a mighty nation and many kings are stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.  They lay hold of bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy. The sound of them is like the roaring of the sea; they ride upon horses, arrayed as a man for battle against you, O daughter of Babylon! The king of Babylon heard the report of them, and his hands fell helpless; anguish seized him, pain as of a woman in travail (Jeremiah 50:3-4,9, 41-43).  

March 9, 2017                                                                                                                                   The Memorial of Saint Frances of Rome

What to say about Russia?  Russia seems to be the hinge point of the whole Fatima message.  The Lord God has chosen this nation for some purpose unknown to me.  Let us reflect once more on what Our Lady told the children concerning the fate of Russia (parentheses mine for explanation):

“To prevent this(World War II), I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.  If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.  In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.  The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

1) Why Russia?

I don’t know for certain, but there are certain things about Russia that it might be helpful to think about.  Russia is the largest country on earth, geographically.  This is a country that borders both Norway and North Korea: think about that for a second.

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Russia also has an interesting history with regard to Christianity: as far as I can tell Russia is the only Christian country that has never been in communion with the Holy Father in Rome.  The first Russian prince was baptized by missionaries from the Church of Constantinople around the year 1000 and almost immediately thereafter the great schism between Rome and Byzantium occurred.  Russia was never in the orbit of the Roman Church, always Constantinople.  She was pilloried during the nineteenth century by some Catholic writers in the wake of the Crimean War for being a great driver of schism in Europe, but I don’t think that this is really the case.  Russia never broke from the Church of Rome as many other churches from Baghdad to London did, she simply was never part of it, and that makes her unique.  Russia also played an important, though largely unconscious, role in protecting the Church of Rome.

For 750 years, from roughly the year 250 AD to the year 1000 AD Western Europe was bedeviled by frequent invasions of warlike tribes off the steppes north and east of the Black Sea.  In the first assault these tribes destroyed the Western Roman Empire, but it did not stop there.  The Avars and the Slavs and the Lombards continued the assault after the Goths and Huns had all been pushed back or assimilated into the dying empire.  The continuous migration of the Asian steppes combined with the assaults of Islam from the south and the Viking raids from the north froze the development of national life in Western Europe during the whole of the second half of the first millennium.  The Roman Church and all that sprang from her were the only source of stability during those difficult centuries.

Around the year 1000 things began to change.  The main driver of this change was the formation of the proto-Russian Christian state centered around Kiev that began to bring order to large swathes of territory between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.  From then on until the present day, with the sole exception of the Mongols during the thirteenth century who did far more damage to Russia than to Western Europe,  the civilization threatening invasions of whole peoples off the plains of Asia have ceased.  It was ultimately the establishment of the Russian state that made possible the great thirteenth century of Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Dominic that is the foundation of modern Catholic life.  None of that could have happened if Catholic civilization was forced to continue spending almost every bit of its energy fighting for its life against whole peoples marching off the plains of Asia every few decades.  In that sense Russia was a great gift to the Church of Rome even though she was never in communion with that Church.

But Russia is the choice of the Almighty to do something in this world before the end of all this.

2) The annihilation of nations

Our Lady told the children that if her request for the Consecration of Russia was not heeded then “various nations will be annihilated.”  What does this mean?  This is important because this part of the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled.  Adolf Hitler had in his sights to annihilate certain nations: the Jews, the Poles, and the Russians were his main targets.  If Germany had won the war and Hitler had lived long enough he may indeed have done so, but Providence prevented that.  So again what does it mean, “nations will be annihilated?”

This is a hard thing to quantify.  No nations have been annihilated at any time in recent history.  Possibly one could say that the Arabs annihilated Persian civilization during the seventh and eighth centuries by the imposition of Islam.  The Zoroastrian religion was rooted out of the Iranian plateau and the Persian national life as it had been before simply disappeared.  But even there the Persian language survived a dark period and reemerged before the turn of the millennium in the poems of Ferdowsi and is still spoken today in Iran and throughout Central Asia.

The next step back in history is the great annihilation of nations that took place under the Roman Empire.  The empire conquered all of those peoples and nations around the Mediterranean basin and over the centuries the individual differences between the peoples of the Empire gradually disappeared.  They began to forget their ancient languages and to speak Latin or Greek because it was easier to get by and it made them part of a wider world.  They began to worship the gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon who in many ways were similar to the gods they had been worshiping anyways.  Gradually they just became Roman so that by the time the Roman Empire fell in the middle of the first millennium there was no going back to what had been before because people neither wanted nor could even really remember what that had been.  But all that took centuries and one gets the sense from the way Our Lady of Fatima speaks that this annihilation of nations will be rather sudden.

So does an annihilation of nations happen suddenly?  Yes.  If you go back to the Old Testament you will see examples of this.  Very many age old civilizations were suddenly destroyed during the first half of the first millennium before Christ by both the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.  How did this occur?  By invasion, destruction of local authority, occupation of territory, and deportation of the populations of these territories.  And most important there was no other power to come in and save these people à la World War II. The most generous implementation of this policy was when whole communities were deported together to a faraway land where they were gradually broken up and assimilated over time.  In less generous circumstances families were broken up on a massive scale with fathers and military age sons murdered, mothers sold as slaves, daughters confined to brothels in foreign lands or married to foreign men and infants either slaughtered or adopted out to foreign parents never knowing where they came from.  Now imagine this happening to your country, your town, and your family, because that is what has been prophesied.

And this all relates to the Consecration of Russia.  Our Lady did not ask for it in 1917, because it was to be kept secret at that time.  She would come later to officially ask for the Pope to Consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart and we will speak more about the terms of that Consecration when we get to that.

O Jesus this is for the love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The Apparition of July 13, 1917

Thou art beautiful, O my love, sweet and comely as Jerusalem: terrible as an army set in array.
(Song of Songs 6:4)

March 1, 2017                                                                                                                                     Ash Wednesday

In a certain sense the July 13, 1917 apparition is the mother lode.  The heart of the Message of Fatima is a call to penance and to make reparation.  The prophetic warnings and the Secret revealed in the July 13 Apparition are what give this call to penance its great urgency.  And that is why any attempt to make Fatima a “part of the past” is a grave threat to the future of the human race.

William Thomas Walsh in his 1947 work, Our Lady of Fatima, that word had gotten out and two to three thousand people gathered with the three children on the Cova da Iria on July 13, 1917.  He describes the scene as follows (p. 78):

On this particular thirteenth of July, in 1917, there was something unusual afoot in all the villages and fields of the Serra.  Even before the children arrived within sight of the Cova da Iria they must have become aware of it.  For all over the mountains and beyond people had been hearing, by the mysterious grapevine that disperses news so thoroughly and so fast in country places, of what had taken place on the feast of Saint Anthony.  An astonishing number had made up their minds to be on hand for the next apparition.

Lucia herself describes the momentous revelation of Our Lady this day as follows in Volume IV of her memoirs:

A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“What do you want of me?” I asked.

“I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.”

“I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us.”

“Continue to come here every month.  In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.”

I then made some requests, but I cannot recall now just what they were.  What I do remember is that Our Lady said it was necessary for such people to pray the Rosary in order to obtain these graces during the year.  And she continued:

“Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months.  The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire.  Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear.  (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me).  The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellant likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.  Terrified and as if to plead for succour, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go.  To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.  If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.  The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.  When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.  If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.  In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.  The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.  In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved; etc…   Do not tell this to anybody.  Francisco, yes, you may tell him.

“When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell.  Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need.”

After this, there was a moment of silence, and then I asked:

“Is there anything more that you want of me?”

“No, I do not want anything more of you today.”

Then, as before Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until she finally disappeared in the immense distance of the firmament.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, as the saying goes.  There are very many things to say about this Apparition.  Each sentence in some way shape or form warrants its own post but I won’t go to that length.  The one thing to keep in mind is that Heaven does not issue empty threats, but the Almighty bides his time to give a chance for repentance.  Very many of the things Our Lady warned us about have already happened, but not all of them, and not the worst.  We still do not know the rest of what she told the children: the “etc…” was not included or clarified or even commented on in any way, shape, or form in the Vatican’s 2000 release about the Secret of Fatima.   And we have not stopped offending God, but rather have made things much much worse.   You do the math.

O Jesus, it is for the love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The Great Unraveling

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Roger Cohen wrote an Op-ed piece in the New York Times that describes quite well what the world is going through right now.  Wars, rumors of war, the rumbles of far away conflicts that we could hear in our own backyards if only we were listening.  But most of us really aren’t listening are we?  Too many of us can’t seem to lift our eyes from our iPhones or Androids or Samsung Galaxies long enough to notice the ripples in the air.  But things are changing; the world is changing and we want desperately to sleep and not to be bothered by such things.

But of course, since he is writing in the New York Times, Mr. Cohen does not go into the root cause of the decay that we are living through.  Why does the sand shift under our feet so? Why does the earth itself quake under our feet?  One could make an argument, a well founded argument, about the tides of history and history’s Lord and how these things happen.  But doesn’t the answer really lie in a deeper and darker place in our heart?  We have completely rejected the law of God, the law that God gave us in his wisdom and his charity to teach us how to be his sons.  Our ancestors rejected the Church because they could no longer bear anyone having authority over them, they wanted to follow their own designs.  The generations following them rejected Jesus Christ: declaring Him to be a good guy, a wise philosopher, or a clever teacher of morals who employed witty sayings to bring in the people.  But to those generations, or at least to a large part of those generations in their inmost heart, He was not divine.  No He could never be divine.  Such things just didn’t happen, God was too distant for that and besides, these things just didn’t happen.  In the twentieth century what was once the Catholic world rejected God entirely; flocking to the atheistic ideologies of communism, capitalism, and fascism that all promised to make this world a wonderful and prosperous place because, after all there is nothing beyond this, right?  And in the twenty-first century we reject even the natural law: men marry men and women marry women because it makes everybody feel good and nobody is offended, nobody in this world at least.  We see men in black masks sawing off the heads of young men in orange jumpsuits and call them barbarians, safely ensconced behind the walls of a civilizations where mothers murder their own children in their own wombs while the fathers act as accessories to the crime because of their own indifference and a desire to remain adolescents for the whole scope of their lives.  Tell me who are the real barbarians?  Yes the world is failing and we all need to repent.  While this may not be the end of the world and the Son of Man may not be coming on the clouds anytime soon (though who can say?) we are definitely at the end of something.  We need to repent and we need to be converted and we need to pray.

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 strange fate of Ukraine

The Feast of Saint Augustine

Today’s Gospel (Mt. 24: 42-51) in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite comes at the time of year when we in the northern hemisphere are drunk and sleepy with summer.  The air has been warm and the trees have been green for a long time now; the fields are ripe for the harvest and the fruit is being plucked from the tree.  The days are growing shorter but no one really notices yet because the gloom of winter is long forgotten.  And the Liturgical calendar is roughly at the midpoint of the long march of the second section of Ordinary Time between the glory of Pentecost and the end of the year and the Advent renewal, so the Church gives us this warning:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.  Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.  So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect the Son of Man will come.

Who then is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.  Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.  But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

The Son of Man comes to us in many ways.  He will come in glory at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, He will come for each of us individually when our time on this earth runs out, and as the Lord of history He comes to judge cities, nations, and civilizations.  Sometimes these decay at a slow rate and just peter out but more often the Lord comes as a thief in the night when people are sleepy and/or drunk on their own prosperity.

Witness the strange fate of Ukraine.  A year ago the citizens of Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol, and the surrounding towns and villages would all probably go out drinking together on a Saturday night and not think a thing of it.  Today they are slaughtering each other.  These once prosperous European cities are now under siege, being shelled, and being emptied out.  They have become the pawn of world powers seeking to expand their influence in the brutal game of international politics.

As our Lord told Peter, James, and John before He entered Garden of Olives at Gethsemane: Vigilate, et orate!  Keep watch and pray, and above all stay awake because the world can change in a minute!  None of us know the hour or the day for us or for the world we live in.

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!

Thanks be to God for… Russia: a historical meditation

The Feast of Saint Peter Chrysologus

Russia has been in the news a lot lately, more so than in any time in the last two decades, and it caused me to think about the checkered history of that vast land.  It occurred to me at some point that Catholic Europe as we knew it in the second millennium, the great saints of western Europe Thomas Aquinas, Dominic, and Francis of Assisi and the nations and cultures of France, Germany, Italy, England, and Spain likely never would have come into being without Russia.

To understand this it is necessary to compare the situation of Europe in the first millennium after Christ versus what it experienced in the second.  At the time of the Incarnation and the beginning of the age of the Catholic Church the Roman Empire had just completed conquering the entire Mediterranean basin, a feat which has never been equaled before or since, and stretched from the British Isles to the Syrian desert.  However the lands in the north beyond the Rhine and the Danube were largely an undiscovered country.  In the third century of the Incarnation however the empire encountered the Goths, the first of the barbarian tribes that either were migrating or being pushed across the vast steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas from Asia into Europe.  This was the beginning of eight centuries of continuous migration and invasion that would sap the strength of the Roman Empire and eventually destroy it.

Into this came the Catholic Church with its message of salvation attempting to build a new civilization on the ruins of the classical world.  In those first centuries after the fall of Rome she was continually harried on all sides however.  The Huns, the Slavs, the Avars, the Lombards all came in on the heels of the Goths and Vandals along the highways of the steppes north of the Black Sea and continued to hammer Catholic civilization.  There was very little political stability in these centuries with the borders of the post Roman barbarian kingdoms shifting constantly like amoebas and the entirety of Christian civilization was consistently under threat from the marauding tribes of Asia in the east and the newly expanding empire of Islam to the south that had shattered the old Mediterranean unity and the Vikings coming in from the north.

Around the year 1000 things began to change.  The strength of Islam waned due to internal conflict, the Vikings slowly were converted from paganism into full membership in the Catholic Church and new state was being formed north of the Black Sea that would forever close the door on the highway from Asia into Europe.  When Prince Vladimir accepted baptism and brought the new state of Kievan Rus with him that road was shut off.  New and organized and united political entities were formed that stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and put up a permanent roadblock to any migration from Asia into Europe.  The only power to breach this roadblock was the Mongols in the 13th century but they did not destroy Russia, they only occupied it and eventually withered away.

Once this new space opened up a new situation came into being in Europe.  There was internecine and fratricidal warfare to be sure but there was no longer the constant threat of massive, culture destroying invasion from the east.  The Church recovered her footing and launched the Crusades to save Constantinople from the Turkish threat and to recapture the Holy Land for a time.  The nation of France came into being and rule from Paris became a fact of life for ever greater parts of what had been Roman Gaul.  The kingdoms of Castille and Aragon accelerated the work of the reconquista and began to drive Islam out of western Europe and form the modern nation of Spain.  There was a flowering of scholastic theology in Italy and a greater devotion to the religious life, and the first beginnings of the Rennaissance.  The High Middle Ages were in full swing and the foundations of the modern world, with all of its glories and defects, were being laid.  All thanks to the formation of a unified political entity that stretched from the Baltic to the Black Seas and cut off the highway of invasion from Asia.  Thanks be to God for Russia.

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 Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

The World is Changing Part 2

Sorry for the long absence.  Imagine sitting in your house in a quiet town on a nice warm day in late spring and watching this:

 

 

From the village of Volnovakha, 12 miles south of Donetsk in the east of Ukraine.  Six months ago a scene like that would have seemed absurd to those sitting there watching it in the east of Ukraine and even six weeks ago it would have seemed highly unlikely.  The world can change and it can happen fast; history is replete with examples of human beings going to bed in one world so to speak and waking up in another that operates by far different rules.  Do not be attached to this world and all of its charms.  Do not love this world.  And never fall into the trap of worshiping this world.  The world that we live in, our so called advanced Western societies, our presently ludicrous way of life; it could all be gone tomorrow and very likely will be gone some day in the not too distant future.  Viglate et orate!  Pray and keep watch!

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 and for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.