Ordinary of the Mass
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Prayer to Saint
Michael the Archangel of Pope Leo XIII
In the Holy
Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the
Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of
their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor
has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.
Were it not Sunday, we would be celebrating the
dedication of the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel today, and we will
be reciting Pope Leo XIII’s prayer to Saint Michael immediately after Mass.
The prayer was published in 1888, 125 years ago, and it is interesting that
even then, saintly Pope Leo was concerned with the devil having infiltrated
bad men into the Church: “they have raised the throne of their abominable
impiety ...In the holy place itself ...the See of Peter.”
The devil is an incredibly brilliant tactician—remember
that he was created to be one of God’s most highly endowed angels. At least
in recent years, his two major tactics have been confusion, and the dilemma
of false obedience. Through confusion, he has taken souls who were willing
and even eager to do good, and used their energies for his own evil
purposes. Through false obedience he has gotten the faithful to follow
their superiors, even when those superiors have, themselves, drifted away
from the Faith, spoken without thinking, were misquoted, or were quoted out
Remember that we are under no obligation to do
something immoral; while we do have an obligation to correct
even a superior who strays from the Faith. In the Summa Theologica,
Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us that Saint Paul rebuked Saint Peter himself
for favoring the heresy that one had to adopt Jewish practices before one
could become a Christian. He wrote:
It must be
observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to
rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter's subject,
rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal
Saint Thomas concludes, quoting Saint Augustine as
an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray
from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their
Confusion and false obedience have become supremely
easy for the devil to implement in our modern society with its methods the
mass communication. Hardly anyone in Western civilization is completely
free from the influence of radio, television, newspapers, or the internet.
Most people follow more than one of these. And most people follow the ones
that they consider easiest. Unfortunately, it is far easier to turn on the
TV for thirty minutes and have a “talking head” explain everything that went
on in the world that day, than it is to go to the original sources to read
and think for one’s self. (And, sometimes, the “original sources” are not
Many of the people in the media have turned from God
and religion, and are unable or unwilling (or both) to provide a correct
account of what comes from Church authorities. Whatever one may think of
Pope Francis, the problem of confusion and false obedience to authority has
certainly manifested itself during his pontificate.
Let me quote from the recent interview published in the
Jesuit magazine America—an interview in Italian of a Spanish speaking
man whose words were excerpted by an Italian, and then translated to
insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of
contraceptive methods.... The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church
are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed
with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed
insistently.... We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral
edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the
freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.
I say this
also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful
homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the
proclamation of salvation....
A number of media people seized on this to suggest that
the Church would no longer denounce abortion, gay marriage, and
contraception—that henceforth, the Church would be more “welcoming,” more
forgiving. It may not be possible to know just what Pope Francis meant—it
may not be possible to know if he “drifted away from the Faith, spoke
without thinking, was misquoted, or was quoted out of context,” but we
surely know what we are supposed to do.
First of all, the concept of “loving the sinner” did
not originate with Pope Francis—and don’t forget that the same aphorism
tells us to “hate the sin.” It should surprise no one that the Church
freely forgives sinners who come to confess their sins.
Two of the sins mentioned are said by the Bible to “cry
out to heaven”—murder and sodomy.
They are hardly things that can be left unspoken by the Church.
Contraception, described in Genesis, seems not to “cry out” but God knew
Onan’s sin and “slew him, because he did a detestable thing.”
All three of these sins have been touted as “rights” by
the cultural Marxists I mentioned last week as making a “long march through
the institutions” of Western civilization.
Earlier this month, The Socialist Worker magazine half lamented that:
Even as we
win real victories around marriage equality [i.e. “gay marriage”] and the
temporary suspension of deporting some undocumented youth, we are losing
ground on voting rights and access to abortion.
Clearly, the socialists consider homosexuality and
abortion as their political struggle. One would not know it from the
actions of modernist bishops, but Socialism and Communism have both been
condemned by the Catholic Church,
and it would make no sense at all for Catholics to back down on any issues
that socialists consider important to their goals. Communism is as much a
religious evil as it is a political and economic evil—it will work against
the salvation of souls—far more than an attitude that seems “judgmental” or
The Church cannot downplay its concerns about abortion,
gay marriage, and contraception, because those who advocate such things want
them recognized as positive goods by the entire society—these people often
speak of these sins as though they were human rights! How could we stand up
to Obama when he wants us to pay for abortion and contraception, and wants
Catholic hospitals to provide such so-called “services,” if the Church stops
denouncing these moral evils? Forget about caterers, florists, and wedding
planners—how long do you think it will be before pairs of men and pairs of
women will be knocking on our church doors demanding to be married according
to the rite of Holy Mother Church, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament
of the Altar?
If the Church fails to denounce these moral evils, it
will become harder to convince women not to abort their babies, it will be
harder for confessors to convince penitents that birth control is wrong, and
we may never overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Can we expect the Church “to fall like a house of
cards,” if it continues to teach and insist on doctrinal and moral
truth? Indeed, the Church has done a very poor job of “teaching and
insisting on doctrinal and moral truth” during the half century since
Vatican II—has that made the Church stronger? At the time of Vatican II the
United States had 60,000 priests—now down to about 40,000, the loss of one
third. Nearly 200,000 nuns have been reduced by half.
On a Novus Ordo website I read that:
[O]nly 24% of
Catholics actually attend Mass every Sunday. [Only] 30% of those who were
polled actually believed that the Holy Eucharist is the body, blood, soul
and divinity of Jesus Christ.
Do you think we need more or do we need less “teaching
and insisting on doctrinal and moral truth”? Is Pope Francis prescribing
the remedy or is he prescribing the poison?
I will have to admit to not being completely sure
whether Pope Francis has drifted away from the Faith, or spoke without
thinking, was misquoted, or was quoted out of context. My personal opinion
is that the confusion is deliberate. But, faithful Catholics will not be
misled by the devil’s tactics of confusion and false demands of obedience.
The Natural Law can be known by all who make the effort to know it—the
positive Law of God has been revealed through Moses and the Prophets and
through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who entrusted it to His Church, telling His
Apostles to baptize and “teach all nations ... Teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am
with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
It is clearly, then, the duty of the Catholic Church to
teach God’s morality and truth to all comers. The Church, if it does so, is
guaranteed not to “fall like a house of cards,” for our Lord has promised to
be with us “all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
Please do be sure to stay with us after Mass to invoke
Saint Michael the Archangel against this modern day struggle against the
devil. For the moment, I will end with something from our Friday evening
holy hours: (Join me if you know the response.)
Holy Archangels, Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael,
and all nine choirs of Angels
pray for us, defend the Church, and cast Satan into hell.