Believe it or not, these words come from a Pope:
The Gospel does not tell us anything: if she spoke a word or not… She was silent, but in her heart, how many things told the Lord! ‘You, that day, this and the other that we read, you had told me that he would be great, you had told me that you would have given him the throne of David, his forefather, that he would have reigned forever and now I see him there!’ Our Lady was human! And perhaps she even had the desire to say: ‘Lies! I was deceived!’
We are being punished with a Pope who does not read the Gospel, does not recite memorised prayers, and does not believe in what has been handed down to him. In fact, one can make a rather convincing case that we have a Pope who does not believe in God; certainly not in your grandmother’s.
The last example of this sad state of things emerged whilst I was on holiday, with my teeth happily sinking in the panettone. Still, I do think I should spend some words on this, lest a bus should knock me down and put an end to this vale of tears and I were to be told, in the other world, that I have remained silent about this episode in this one.
The way I always understood it, the Blessed Virgin is a perfect example of complete trust and utter obedience. In fact, it is this trust and obedience that has been not only extolled during the centuries, but brought as example to, among others, countless girls and young women in their formative years. It should be the most obvious thing on this planet that the Blessed Virgin does not doubt, does not complain, and does not feel betrayed by God. Therefore, the very idea that the Blessed Virgin may ever have had the desire to say “Lies! I was deceived!” strikes me as impious and utterly offensive of the Blessed Virgin.
When the Archangel Gabriel appears to her at the Annunciation she poses one very natural question, a question born of the obvious circumstances but certainly not out of doubt; and upon receiving the answer she promptly and unquestioningly accepts God’s will: a decision, by the way, which clearly puts her reputation on the line, and which requires a courage and – let us say it again – an unquestioning abandonment to God’s will, the like of which is barely imaginable in these times of widespread licence, when even Popes think they should not “judge”. Mary, therefore, accepts without questioning something apt to put her reputation in the gravest danger. She says: “Fiat”, not: “wait a minute”, or “mom told me never to trust what angels say”, or: “wow, just wow”. She also does not react with: “dear angel, at least promise me that there will be no suffering”, or: “I accept only if my son is going to live a splendid life and become the Roman Emperor, or such like”. She is the blessed Virgin, you see. Not a freaking Jesuit.
She simply obeys: she accepts God’s will without “ifs” or “buts”. Wonderful obedience, absolute trust, spotless abandonment to God’s will.
She is also, as Francis might or might not remember, free from original sin; which, linked to her own saintliness, makes it rather illogical to even think she might have had a doubting mind concerning everything God sent her way.
We see this in the Gospels pretty much everytime Mary is mentioned. She is told by Simeon in very plain words that a sword will pierce her heart. This is one of the “seven sorrows of Mary”, of which Francis must also have lost memory; a devotion meant to help the Neopelagian faithful to remember that Mary had the cross constantly in front of her. She is woken up in the middle of the night and must flee her own home in great haste, with a little baby, going towards an uncertain future in a foreign land (yes, this is another one of the seven sorrows). She must undergo a most painful search for her missing son (yet another one). Never do we find in the Gospel even a hint that Mary may have ever entertained a shred of doubt, revolt, disagreement, feelings of anger, disillusionment, or complaint about her own lot.
Mary keeps all in her heart. She does not forget Simeon’s words, and which mother could! She is Love, Obedience, Trust itself. Not only the Gospels, but two thousand years of Catholic Tradition tell us so. Actually, I doubt even Protestants would see things differently, at least if they still have a shred of sound Christian thinking left in them.
Not so for our humble Pope, Francis The Little. Completely oblivious of everything from Catholic dogma to the Gospels to Catholic tradition, he reshapes the Blessed Virgin according to his own fantasies in the same way as he has done it with pretty much everything else.
As I have already stated, Francis probably does not believe in God. If he does, it does not appear to be the God in which Catholics believe, and in fact it appears to be a God perfectly fine with, among other things, Jews not believing in the Divinity of His Son. If Francis does believe in the God of the Catholics, then he simply cannot think, and does not know what he says.
Francis therefore either does not believe, or doubts, or just doesn’t know jack. As a consequence, he proceeds to adapt everything Christian to his own confused way of thinking. As he doubts or does not believe himself, “excessive doctrinal security” is a problem. If he has doubts, everyone must have doubts. Even the Blessed Virgin!
In Francis’ world, unquestioning trust in God and perfect obedience are suspiciously Neopelagian, or Promethean, or whatever stupid adjective he can concoct to describe it. To him, Francis-ness is next to godliness, and it is the measure of humble orthodoxy. Whatever deviates from Francisthought must be corrected and made new; again: not stopping in front of the Blessed Virgin herself.
Francis’ Blessed Virgin is a woman from whom the whole essence of the Blessed Virgin has been removed, in order that both him and the women of the favela may not be challenged with an example too different from themselves. Francis’ fantasy creature feels – “perhaps”, he has the goodness to add, albeit only concerning the most absurd statement; relativism doubts even its own rubbish – betrayed, short changed, even lied to; she feels she was encouraged to undertake her task under false pretences; she thinks she has been advisedly deceived.
Once again, this man boggles the mind. His insolence is breathtaking. His ignorance will become the stuff of legends.
At times I think Francis might have an alcohol problem. This would explain his absurd and confused statements, together with his uncontrolled, confused, rambling way of talking; this would provide not an excuse, but at least a cause for all the unspeakable rubbish the man continues to spit out of his very humble cuff. And in fact, if any normal Catholic in possession of a normal Catholic instruction were to say not one half, but one fifth of what Francis has been saying since March his sobriety and his sanity would be openly questioned by those around him. Most certainly, no sensible Catholic would want to attend Mass in the church of a parish priest like that.
Alas, I do not think the man has an alcohol problem. His problem is his extreme form of Jesuitism, his being so much in love with himself he forgets even the most elementary decency, his strong Peronist ideology clearly shaping his Catholicism in the most minute details, his vast ignorance of even his own vast ignorance, and his boundless arrogance now fueled by a position in which every off-the-cuff statement is saluted as a daring innovation rather than another alarming example of scandalous ignorance.
The entire secular world is telling Francis he should feel free to make Christianity new, and he has the, ahem, humbleness to think he is just the man for the job; he seem to believe he is the man compared to whom even the worst antics of V II will be considered merely an appetizer. I have never heard a public man so persuaded he is just what the doctor ordered for the welfare of humanity; not even Berlusconi in his worst day would think he can tamper with the Blessed Virgin.
Francis is alternative to Catholicism. Almost every week we get new evidence for this. Should we be surprised he has even created a fantasy Blessed Virgin?
Pray for the man, and pray that he may stop being such a disgrace. One way or the other.
One of the main concerns of the Church in the last 50 years – and I mean, even from good, orthodox priests and laymen – seems to be to make the message of Christianity attractive, or easy to digest, or such that it would appear an improvement in one's quality of life. The idea seems to be that the world out there lures souls with the promise of fun and joy, and a list of prohibitions isn't really the best way to attract people to give Christianity their serious consideration.
I wonder whether the entire concept does not need a re-thinking.
As I see it, the entire idea of why we must be Christians does not revolve around the “fun” and “joy” of following Christ – though it might certainly be so in individual cases, and a life lived in faith has pleasures that wordly natures will never savour – but around our destiny if we refuse to do it.
Christianity isn't a “fun option”, or a “better choice”; similarly, atheism or unrepentant grave sin are infinitely worse than “poor choices”. It is no surprise 50 years of trying to persuade people of this have brought us to the level where we are now.
Christianity is, first and foremost, harsh. Harsh in the brutal commandments – not suggestions of “better choices” -, harsh in the consequences for those refusing to do so, harsh in the crystal-clear warning that no alternative ways are acceptable.
The main issue of the commandments is that God forbids the relevant behaviour. The fact that, say, marital fidelity will lead to a more serene life in the long term than a long string of love dramas outside of the marriage is secondary to the fact that marital fidelity is demanded, and it is demanded before any consideration of how good it is for one's life on the whole. It is demanded because God wants it. Period.
Christ doesn't seem to promise much fun anyway. A sword instead of peace, enmity even inside the family, hate and persecution rather come to mind. Yes, joy is also there, but notice even the joy of the martyr going to his execution is but a result of his unconditional and unquestioning acceptance of God's rules as such, and even when it hurts; the most so, when it hurts.
When we, therefore, spend our time wondering how to make Christ's message more attractive, I doubt we are employing our time wisely. This little blog never tries to sweeten the pill of Catholicism, though if you knew its author personally you would find him, in his private life, far more lighthearted and good-humoured than the unspeakable mess about which he almost daily reports makes him appear. Harsh rules do not make for dour people, but for people honest enough with themselves to recognise the Truth, and adult enough to deal with it to the best of their ability.
The simple truth is that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and those who reject him to the moment of their death will go to hell; yes, they will go to hell, and they will do so even if they are the funniest, most tolerant, most helpful, generous, planet-loving, tree-hugging, cat-stroking, “inclusive” people around.
Not really fun, uh? How many of those approached with the “fun 'n joy” marketing method will ever accept it, provided they are even told at some point? They have started looking seriously at Catholicism because of the implicit promise of harmlessness, because of the untold assurance it will not spoil the fun. When they discover that Christianity, seriously intended, is a huge poop in the middle of their party, do not be surprised if they suddenly start “dissenting”, or say they felt “refused” by the Church. They will, though, feel “accepted” by the likes of Bergoglio, those for whom not to spoil the party – and be popular in the process – is the first and only Commandment.
A Catholic must, if you ask me, rather be promised toil, tears and sweat, with the possibility of blood; and must be told Jesus will recompense him with infinite generosity for all of them, whilst He will be terribly just (I wonder whether Francis knows the expression Rex Tremendae Majestatis) with those who refuse to accept Christ's not-at-all-fun rules to their last breath.
This used to be, in past ages, a rather normal thinking. No fun was ever promised. Life was seen as rather a vale of tears. The Seven Sorrows of Mary were common knowledge. Christ didn't smile from the Cross. The Cross was a calling, not a bad marketing instrument. A good Catholic had no expectation of a bed of roses. Consequently, he did not need the juvenile, stupid pursuit of an unrealistic happiness that today moves so many people not only to divorce and remarry, but even to demand that they be not seen as public adulteres, and even admitted to Holy Communion. Fools born of a fool, “fun” age.
The old mentality – the one without unrealistic expectations, and without divorces – worked rather well for two thousand years, saving countless souls.
Then the age of the aggiornamento began.
A world made for the stupid, the unbelievers, and the Jesuits.
I am not a mother (neither a woman, come to that), so I can’t really tell.
Still, I can imagine. I can imagine that I am a mother in the bliss of newly found maternity, a joy without equals.
But then I imagine that when the child is just a few days old, I am informed by a very reliable person that this child is going to undergo great suffering and a painful death. How would it feel? A short time later, I must leave my home in the middle of the night, precipitously fleeing those who want to murder the child. Some years of relative tranquillity go by (during which, though, I have never forgotten the fateful words of Simeon) and one day, I discover that through a misunderstanding my twelve years old child is missing, somewhere in a great city far away from me. Then I return to where I last have seen him, every hour a nightmare and slow death; looking for him without success, for days.
Further years go by, until the now ancient words of the old man in the temple take meaning and form. My own and only child is – after being whipped almost to unconsciousness – made to carry the instrument of his own torture and stumble under his weight. Enough? No, not enough. I see my child savagely nailed to the cross, undergoing a slow and painful death in front of my very eyes. I see him dying, then have to endure the excruciating pain of having the cold dead body of my own child in my arms and to suffer his deposition on a tomb.
I am not a mother and I can’t really know how it would feel. But I can certainly try, and it takes my breath away. Most mothers would prefer to die and call themselves happy, rather than to have to endure all this.
At the same time I think of the challenges and problems of my life, problems I sometime tend to, well, rather make worse than they really are and when I compare my problems with those of Mary, I am helped to understand that perhaps my sufferings are not so unbearable after all, and that She who has suffered so much sees my problems and sorrows – even if infinitely less burdensome than hers – with great love and compassion anyway.
At the same time, I know that She is, in virtue of Her Son and in virtue of Her Sorrows, my (and our) Mother too. A mother to whom I can always open my heart in love and confidence, certain of being heard and loved; and a mother whose sorrows naturally sadden me. It is therefore fitting, every now and then, to dedicate ourselves to another Catholic devotion of the past unlikely to ever be mentioned by the friendly, smiling, joke-cracking and oh so nice progressive priest near you.
The Seven Sorrow of Mary is a traditional Catholic devotion by which the faithful briefly meditate (whilst praying or with a short introductory reflection, as in the Rosary) on those fateful seven moments in Mary’s life.
As already explained on a different occasion, the aim (and a main tenet of Catholicism at the same time ) is to unite ourselves to Mary’s and Jesus’ sufferance and at the same time to draw strenght and inspiration to bear the trials that we ourselves have to endure.
It isn’t really realistic to think that grave tests will be taken away from us. We are never going to be given tests we can’t endure, but most of us are going to be tested in some way or other, so don’t bet your pint. The best think to do is to try to grow our spiritual life by lovingly uniting ourselves to Mary’s and Jesus’ sufferance in order to be spared them if this is God’s will, and to be able to endure them and make them bear fruits if, alas, things have been appointed otherwise.
If you follow this link you’ll find a beautiful rendition of the first sorrow this devotion, with prayers and big images to help you stay focused. From there, you’ll be able to click your way to the following ones.
When you have followed the devotions to the end, please stop a moment and bask in the knowledge that once again, in the privacy of your home, a little part of the extremely rich and at times almost forgotten world of Catholic devotions has come back.