Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost—15 July A.D. 2012

[ Ordinary of the Mass ]
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

“Beware of false prophets
who come to you in the clothing of sheep,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”[1]

    Who are the “false prophets,” the “ravening wolves,” of whom our Lord speaks in today’s Gospel?  Or, more important than naming names, how do we identify such people in our own day and age?  That would be a lot more useful than having a list of “false prophets” from first century Jerusalem.  We probably need to come up with a list of characteristics by which to identify them, rather than who they might be in any given time and place.

    I would suggest that the primary characteristic is “materialism,” the false notion that man and his problems are entirely material in nature.[2]  In our recent history we can point to three different major schools of materialist thought:  Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism.  Obviously, each of these three “wolves” is named for a specific person, but, for our purposes, the school of thought is more important than the name of a single man.  The three schools of thought are not unique, for they share things in common.  All three are materialistic—to a lesser extent, they share a view of reality being shaped through random chance.  But each has its own specific basis.

    Darwin is basically biological.  The universe is said to have always existed—there was no creation.  Over eons and eons of time, random chance combined the physical elements in such a way as to be alive.  Genetic mutation allowed the lesser organisms to produce a superior ones. And those living elements which were better suited to survival, did survive, and went on to propagate more of themselves.  Again, with infinite time, this “natural selection” produced mankind, the most highly developed organism on the planet—at least for the time being.

    Marxism is basically economic.  It presumes a Darwinian sort of evolution, but makes conflict with the environment more important than genetic mutation.  Given its economic basis, it envisions “class struggle” as the conflict that shapes “socialist man” as the highest organism on the planet.  It speaks of a “dialectic,” the conflict of opposing or contradictory forces or ideas (“thesis” conflicting “antithesis”) to produce new ideas or forces (“synthesis”).  A world filled with “socialist man” is expected to produce a willing cooperation of all workers, and the “withering away of the state.”

    Freudianism, again, builds on Darwinism, but holds that the development of the organism is determined largely by the satisfaction of it more base urges—primary lust, and the urge to violence.  Satisfaction of these urges develops a well-adjusted person, and the strong society is the one that enables and approves of that satisfaction.

    Each of these three schools has some truth to it.  Man is a biological creature ... with economic needs ... and with strong urges.  But, even taking all three together, we cannot explain man, even if we overlook the formidable errors of these schools, about where things came from and what makes them develop over time.  First of all, mankind is God’s creation, in God’s image, and secondly, man lives a supernatural life that is not related to the sum of his molecules, his struggles with other man, of the degree of his emotional satisfactions.  Without these two great truths, any and every description of mankind is woefully incomplete, and will fail to provide a plan for men to live in happiness and harmony.  Many of the “ravening wolves” of our time believe in a universe without God, and in man without a soul.

    The next important “ravening wolf” of our time is something called “Modernism.”  It was condemned as a heresy by both Pope Pius IX and Pope Saint Pius X well over a hundred years.  Modernism is a little slippery to define, but its primary characteristics are its denial that man can know anything other than what he experiences;  that man’s knowledge of God arises out of his own imagination and sentiments;  and that there is no objective truth.  This last idea particularly contradicts the Catholic Faith, for we know that since God knows all things, there must be objective truth, at least in the mind of God, and in the minds of men to whom He has revealed that truth.  This is the basis of our Faith and our morality.  And I should mention the fact that people seem to be able to discover the truth about many things through the power of their own intellects.

    Modernism boasts something very much like the dialectic of Marx, claiming that contradictory ideas can be reconciled through “dialogue.”  In his own mind, Modernist man can believe that simultaneously something both is and is not.  (e.g. “That object over there is simultaneously black and white ... red and green.)  As Pope Saint Pius wrote, Modernists may say something true, and then contradict their own true statement with a falsehood, in the same sermon, speech, or writing/

    Among groups of men this Modernist “dialogue” is said to reconcile contradictory systems of belief or morality:  Christians can “dialogue” with Buddhists or Hindus, the upright can “dialogue” with the perverts—the resulting consensus takes the place of objective truth, or objective morality, even though it lasts only until new participants enter the “dialogue,” or old ones leave it.

    Modernists tend to use ambiguous language—phrases that can be interpreted in a number of different ways—rather than the precise terminology of Catholic theology, particularly the scholastic theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas.[3]  Ambiguous language helps to reduce the problems of dealing with obvious contradictions, which bother logical people.

    Likewise, as Modernism borrows from Marxism, it also borrows from Freudianism.  Since neither admit that man has a soul that determines his nature as a man, “Existentialist” man holds that man determines his own nature by his “authentic actions”:

    In order to perfect himself in his specific order, the person must do good and avoid evil, be concerned for the transmission and preservation of life, refine and develop the riches of the material world, cultivate social life, seek truth, practice good and contemplate beauty. (Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, a. 2.  [In the original, the citation is footnote 93.])[4]

Often there is a great deal of jargon about “authenticity,” “alienation,” and “the acting person,” “fundamental structures,” and multiple “significances.”

    Modernism is most amazing when it borrows from Darwinism.  You may recall that I said that Darwinism views “mankind as the most highly developed organism on the planet—at least for the time being.”  Modernist-Darwinism carries this a step farther, and has man evolving into god—“god” with a lower case “g” for its greatest proponent, the Jesuit paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin envisioned a sort of pantheistic “god,” a sort of “world soul,” rather than God as we know Him.  Teilhard was very popular right after Vatican II, but in recent years his influence seems to be only on Modernist theologians and highly placed members of the Curia.[5]

    So, indeed, the modern world has its share of ravening wolves: Darwinists, Marxists, Freudians, Modernists, and the various combinations thereof.  They are all dangerous, but at the moment I would suggest that the “liberation theology” of the Marxist-Modernists is most dangerous and powerful.  The idea is that through violent class struggle, the poor of the world can be placed on par with those who are more well off.  This is the theology of Robin Hood, not Jesus Christ.  In its more “vigilante” form it has been more or less disapproved by the modern church.[6]  But the same sort of “steal from the productive” and “give to the unproductive” has received the approval of the Modernist hierarchy, just as long as it is the government or the United Nations doing the stealing.[7]  Only a Modernist could ignore the contradictions of all recorded history—Socialism redistributes misery, not wealth—Socialism enslaves rather than liberates.

“Beware of false prophets,
who come to you in the clothing of sheep,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”


[1]   Gospel: Matthew vii. 15-21

[2]   Much of the inspiration for this sermon  came from reading David Allen White, The Mouth of the Lion, chapter 9.

[3]   Cf. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Milestones.  “This encounter with personalism [in the thought of Martin Buber] was for me a spiritual experience that left an essential mark, especially since I spontaneously associated such personalism with the thought of St. Augustine, who in his Confessions had struck me with the power of all of his human passion and depth. By contrast, I had difficulty penetrating the thought of Thomas Aquinas, whose crystal-clear logic seemed to me to be too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made.”

[4]   Pope John Paul II, Veritatis splendor #51    Of course Saint Thomas Aquinas is writing about man preserving, not perfecting  himself.

[5]   Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, (San Francisco: Ignatius) pages 85, 236-238, 304, 319.

[6]   Instruction on Certain Aspects of "Theology of Liberation"  Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith  August 6, 1984

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