Monday, 6 April 2015

The Divine Romance: Dying And Behold We Live by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

The Divine Romance: Dying And Behold We Live

Having delivered His farewell address from the pulpit of the Cross and finished the work of His Eternal Father, Jesus bows His head and dies. To make certain of His death, a centurion, Longinus by name, pierces His heart with a lance and the Divine Master, who saved up a few drops of His Precious Blood, now pours them out to prove that His love is stronger than death.

Two men who lacked courage to declare their affiliations while He was living, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, brought perfumes and spices and embalmed the body of Jesus. It was first laid on Mary’s lap, and it seemed to her that Bethlehem had come back again — but really it had not. Between Bethlehem and Calvary our sins had intervened. The body was lifeless. Jesus was dead.

His enemies remembered that He had said that He would rise again, but they were certain He would not. They were afraid that the Apostles would come and steal away the body and then say He had risen. Guarding against such deceit, they went to Pilate, asking him to set a watch of soldiers about the tomb for three days in addition to which they would attach their own official seal to the stone before the entrance. Pilate acceded to their request. In the words with which the Evangelist Matthew closed his Gospel, the most ironic sentence in literature: “And they departing made the sepulchre sure.” The seal was placed on the sepulchre and a great stone rolled in front of the door. They took every precaution against fraud, but could take none against Divinity. As they made their way down Calvary’s hill, such thoughts as these ran through their minds: “Now his fisherman can go back to their nets and their boats; their kingdom is a mockery. As for their master, his heart was so pierced that blood and water came from it. Even though he had a breath of life left in that bloodless body, it is now being suffocated by the hundredweight of spices with which he was embalmed. Our vigilance and that of the soldiers will not permit any one to steal away the body. He who said he had life in abundance is now dead; he who said he could summon twelve legions of angels to his assistance now is cold as death; he who said he could raise up a child of Abraham from a stone is now buried under stone. The imposter is dead! How wonderfully effective is a Roman death! Nothing can survive a crucifixion! He will never rise again!”

Is that true? Can one rise from the dead? Does not the very fact that He was born in a stranger’s cave and buried in a stranger’s grave prove that human “birth and death are equally foreign to Him? Look about at nature. Is not the springtime the Easter Day of the Good Friday of winter? Has not all death within itself the germs of life? Does not the “falling rain bud the greenery”? Does not the falling acorn bud the tree? Why should all creation rise from the dead and not the Redeemer of creation?

“If this bright lily
Can live once more,
And its white promise
Be as before,
Why cannot the great stone
Be moved from His door?

If the green grass
Ascend and shake
Year after year,
And blossoms break
Again and again
For April’s sake,

Why cannot He,
From the dark and mold,
Show us again
His manifold
And gleaming glory,
A stream of gold?

Faint heart, be sure
These things must be.
See the new bud
On the old tree! …
If flowers can wake,
Oh, why not He?”

Sunday morning came, and it was one of calm, like the sleep of innocents, and the clear, benign air seemed almost as if it had been stirred by angels’ wings. Mary walked in the garden and someone near her spoke a word, and pronounced it longingly, wistfully, in that touching and unforgettable voice which had called her so many times: “Mary.” And to this one and only word, she made an answer, a word and only one: “Rabboni.” And as she fell at His knees in the dewy grass and clasped in her hands those bare feet, she saw two scars, two red-lined marks of nails — for Christ was now walking in the glory of His new Easter morn.

That was the first Easter Day. Centuries have whirled away since, and on this new Easter Day as I turn from that garden to the altar, I behold placed over the tabernacle, on this Resurrection Day, the image, not of a Risen Savior, but the image of a dying one, to teach me that Christ lives over again in His Church, and that the Church, like Christ, not only lives, not only dies, but always rises from the dead. She is in love with death as a condition of birth; and with her, as with Christ, unless there is a Good Friday in her life, there will never be an Easter Sunday; unless there is the crown of thorns there will never be the halo of light; and unless there is the Cross there will never be the empty tomb. In other words, every now and then the Church must be crucified by an unbelieving world and buried as dead, only to rise again. She never does anything but die, and for that peculiar reason she never does anything but live. Every now and then the very life seems to have gone out of her; she is palled with death; her blood seems to have been sapped out of her; her enemies seal the tomb, roll a stone in front of her grave, and say: “The Church will never rise again!” But somehow or other she does rise again.
At least a dozen times in history, the world has buried the Church and each time she has come to life again. I shall mention but a few such instances.

A hunted Savior must always have hunted children; and in those days of the Roman persecution the Church, like a mole, had to dig into the caves of the earth. There, under the foundation of Rome’s proudest temples, under roads that rocked with the tramp of Rome’s resistless legions, these children of God were nourishing themselves on the Bread of Life, fortifying their bodies as well as their souls, for the day when they would be led to the “thumbs-down” crowd of the Roman Colosseum to testify to their faith, even with their blood. The day came; they were led into the center of that great amphitheater with enemies round about. There was no escape, except from above — but that was enough. They met death with a smile upon their lips. Caesar’s minions scattered fresh sands to hide their blood, but could not still their voice. It rose from the din of that arena; it entered into the very chancery of God’s Justice; it pierced the mist of undawned ages with no uncertain challenge: “In our blood has been mingled the blood of the Living God — dying and behold we live.” Roman swords blunted by massacre no longer fitted their sheaths; the wild beasts overfed on the living flesh of the Church lost their craving for food — but still the bloody warfare went on. Caesar was certain he had conquered. He rejoiced that the Church was dead. Her life was sapped and drained; she could never survive the Roman sword. A stone was rolled before the door. The Church would never rise again. And as they set their watch, and even as they watched, the Church like her Risen Savior came from the grave of the Catacombs and was seen walking in the glory of her new Easter Morn.

There came other moments in her history when in the eyes of the world she seemed to have her very life drained out of her. Whenever the Palm Sundays of earthly rejoicing came her way, and the world proclaimed her Queen, and strewed palm branches beneath her feet — in a word, whenever a great measure of temporal prosperity came her way, and she began to rely more upon action than prayer, she became weak. The yoke of Christ then seemed heavy to her children; bodies craved for the line of least resistance and hearts yearned for the fleshpots of Egypt. It is a strange but certain fact that the Church is never so weak as when she is powerful with the world; never so poor as when she is rich with the riches of the world; never so foolish as when she is wise with the fancies of the world. She is strongest with Divine Help when she is weakest with human power, for like Peter she is given the miraculous draught of fishes when she admits by her own power she has labored all the night and taken nothing.

When her discipline, her spirit of saintliness, her zeal for Christ, her vigils, and her mortifications, become a thing of less importance, the world makes the fatal mistake of believing that her soul is dead and her faith is departed. Not so! The faith, even in those days of lesser prayer, is solid — for it is the faith of the centuries, the faith of Jesus Christ. What may be weak is her discipline, her prayerfulness, and her saintliness, for these are of men, whereas her faith is of God. A renewal of spirit, then, will come not by changing her way of thinking, for that is divine, but her way of acting,for that is human.
But the world, failing to make this distinction between the Divine and the human in her, as it failed to make it in Christ, takes her for dead. To the world, her very life seems spent, her heart pierced, her body drained; in its eyes she is just as dead as the Master when taken down from the cross, and there is nothing left to do but to lay her in the sepulchre.

Once more a great stone is rolled before her tomb; the official seal of death placed upon it, the watch set; but as they watched saintliness came back, Christ stirred in Peter’s bark, and at the very moment men were saying she was dead, she was seen walking in the glory of her new Easter Morn.

Then came our own times and with it another death. Her death this time was inflicted not by executioners, but by other Pilates. These were dangerous days, for any civilization is in a bad way when it becomes indifferent, like another Pilate, to the answer to the question: “What is Truth?” From inside and outside of the Church sprang up that old Greek error that there is no truth — an error which, for want of a knowledge of its ancient ancestry, was called Modernism. Truth was derationalized, error rationalized, and proofs brought forward to prove all proofs worthless. Teachers who bedecked themselves in the robes of prophets became insulted if told they were not gentlemen, but remonstrated mildly if told they were not Christians. Minds now were told, and they began to believe, with the force of repetition, that we must be indifferent to both error and truth; that it is a lack of broad-mindedness to make up one’s mind; that it makes no difference whether God exists, whether Christ is God, or whether the Sacraments do actually communicate Divine Life — the only thing that matters is the subjective impression such beliefs have upon the feeling of the believer. Minds began to live by catchwords, phrases covered up loose thinking, and there was hardly an ear that did not hear such catchwords and phrases as “Life is bigger than logic,” and “The Christ of Faith is not the Jesus of History.”

The new spirit of the age was seemingly burying the Spirit of Christ. Books and articles were shot from the press, and in 1907 there hardly was an article written that did not say that the Church had now definitely reached its end. The world was asked to chant her Requiem; a great stone was rolled before the door of her sepulchre; the watch set. “She would never rise again.” And according to every human law she never should have risen from the dead! But for some mysterious reason the Giant stirred. War was on. Long-range guns were tearing great gaping wounds in majestic Cathedrals; ploughshares were beaten into swords; cannon fire changed poppy fields into Haceldamas of blood. And lo and behold! That which was thought dead was seen on the battlefields pressing a crucifix to dying lips; and when the smoke of battle cleared and the mist lifted, she was seen walking in the glory of her new Easter Morn; and even now as men watch her she grows! Christ, then, must have meant what He said when He declared that His Church would endure even to the consummation of the world.

There emerges, then, from her history one great and wonderful lesson and it is this: Christ rose from the dead, not because He is man, but because He is God. The Church rises from the sepulchre in which violent hands or passing errors would inter her, not because she is human, but because she is Divine. Nothing can rise from the dead except Divinity. The world should profit by experience and give up expecting the Church to die. If a bell had been tolled on a thousand different occasions and the funeral never took place, men would soon begin to regard the funeral as a joke. So it is with the Church. The notice of her execution has been posted but the execution has never taken place. Science killed her and still she was there. History interred her, but still she was alive. Modernism slew her, but still she lived.

Even civilizations are born, rise to greatness, then decline, suffer, and die; but they never rise again. But the Church does rise again; in fact she is constantly finding her way out of the grave because she had a Captain who found His way out of the grave. The world may expect her to become tired, to be weak when she becomes powerful, to become poor when she is rich, but the world need never expect her to die. The world should give up looking for the extinction of that which so many times has been vainly extinguished.
Like a mighty oak tree which has stood for twenty centuries she bears fresh green foliage for each new age, that the age may come and enjoy the refreshing benediction of its shade. The flowers that open their chalices of perfume this spring are not old things, but new things on an old root. Such is the Church. She is reborn to each new age, and hence is the only new thing in the world. It is the errors that are old, for our so-called new thought is only an old mistake with a new label; it is not anew enthusiasm nor is it a new loyalty. The Church has put to bed all the errors of the past for she knows that to marry the passing fads of any age is to be a widow in the next. She is therefore not behind the times, but beyond the times, always fresh while the age is dying.

She will go on dying and living again and in each recurring cycle of a Good Friday and an Easter Sunday her one aim in life will be to preach Christ and Him Crucified. As a student I may be expected to know something of her aims, and as her priest I may be expected to know something of her secrets; and I honestly assure you, at the close of this series, that the Church seeks not the overthrow of governments, desires not to impede progress, strives not to persecute those who differ with her. (I know all these things are said about her). But what she does seek, with the full ardor of her soul, is to bring minds captive to the understanding of Christ, to lead wills to the glorious Liberty of the sons of God, to thrill human hearts with the Love that leaves all others cold, and to open eyes to a Beauty that leaves all other beauty pain. And, hence, if any single word of mine has lifted up but one soul to a nobler understanding of Christ, or fanned a single spark of love for His cause into a flame, or induced the tendrils of a single heart to entwine about the Heart of Hearts, then I shall believe that my words and my life shall not have been spoken or lived in vain.

The Catholic Hour will go on, under still nobler guidance, but its end and purpose will ever remain the same: To bring the peace of Christ to the souls of our countrymen. There will be no weapons to make that peace an armed peace, but there will be two insignificant instruments used, which have been used from the beginning, and they will be the instruments Our Lord taught His Apostles to use, namely those of fishermen and shepherds. I might say, therefore, we will go on “by hook and by crook” and the hook will be the hook of the fisherman, and the crook will be the crook of the shepherd; and with the hook we will catch souls for Christ, and with the crook we will keep them, even to the end of time; for as fishers of men and shepherds of souls we are committed to the high destiny of making Christ the King of human hearts, and with only the sign of Jonas the prophet, the fulfillment of that destiny can never be doubted, for if truth wins, Christ wins; if truth… Ah! But truth can’t lose.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Toughie..the real problem with the Synod proposals and its consequences...


I know it's virtually impossible for me but I'll try to be as brief  as possible.

The first thing to explain is that we are not equal - God isn't a democrat - in just the same way as there is a hierarchy of ranks among the angels there is a hierarchy of human souls and their perfectibility - it's known as Predilection - God loves us all infinitely and calls us to fulfil our created perfectibility - but some are created to be more - to do more [remember the parable of the sower? 30, 60, a hundredfold?] God loves them more because they are created to be more lovable because they have a vocation to be more... I know it doesn't sound fair but He's God: We're not - we have our place in His divine plan as either tiny cogs or hard-working pistons or massive power-wheels - whatever that position we were made for it - and can achieve perfection within it and be fulfilled with absolute joy and happiness in being everything we were called to be. God made us so we ultimately wouldn't ever wish to be anything but ourselves in our perfection in our part of His Divine plan [this is why envy - wanting to be another - is the greatest sin against oneself]
Finally on this point it must be noted that in regard to Predilection how we repent from and amend for our sins will also be variant - for some it will be easy and lengthy - for others it will be more gruelling and intermittent.

Got that bit?
Ok now secondly we have to understand what the Holy Spirit is about - for most of us the Holy Spirit keeps us in existence, He inspires our intellects with truth, beauty and the notion of the good - which motivates our will to carry out this inspiration freely towards the good - this is what Love is - the Holy Spirit provides us with Sufficient Grace to never sin - He provides our intellects and consciences to be aware of the Good, the True and Beautiful - and we can conform to this and be truly free [remember the only thing we are ever free to do is to do good - sin is always a denial of our freedom and actually traps us and makes us less free] or we can hoodwink ourselves into thinking happiness may be achieved through another route - a short-cut - an easy way - and hence we lie to ourselves and our God and our created reality and the rest of creation and we commit sin - and in the process we as temples of the Holy Spirit in whom we live , move and have our being - abuse and defy the Lord, the Giver of Life with our lies and sin...the only two things we can say we possess - every other thing comes from God, is worked by God and returns to God - every other thing is Grace of which we are unworthy but in which we we happy receivers can and should boast.


Now normatively the Holy Spirit works through Sufficient Grace - but there are times where through an extraordinary act of predilective Love the Holy Spirit acts upon us with what's known as efficient Grace - unstoppable, unpreventable grace which compels us towards an act...

There's an old Fulton Sheen story of a wayward alcoholc actress who accepts his invite to see the Church on the proviso he would not ask her to go to confession - he kept the promise in his own way for as they were touring the Church he opened the confessional door and threw her inside....
Divine Providence decrees that God does this to some of us in extraordinary circumstances. God does not work against our wills - but instead He takes over with Efficient grace to ensure something happens....
Think the Conversion of St Paul and other profound conversion stories. Think Miracles. Think the imposition of the knowledge of God upon the Prophets or all who lived and believed during the Incarnation or the appearance of the Sacred Heart or Our Lady. Think of the Promises of Christ re Papal Infallibility and the Gates of the Underworld shall not prevail - all this is Efficient Grace - unpreventable, unthwartable - it has nothing to do with the arbitrary, discretionary choices within human free will. God just does it!


Sometimes God uses efficient Grace upon us to actuate His will 
Otherwise it is sufficient grace where we are at the helm of our wills - the Holy Spirit inspires our intellects and carries out our wills - but we choose - we decide.
The Holy Spirit does not treat us like puppets or cosmic chess pieces - He limits himself to inspiration of the intellect to motivate the will - we choose whether to conform to that will or not....
Hence in matters of the Church the Holy Spirit may inspire - but the Pope and his Brother Bishops and clerics and religious act according to their own either conformed or refusenik wills.
The Holy Spirit does not choose a Pope - Cardinals choose a Pope.
The Holy Spirit does not appoint Bishops - The Pope does.
The Holy Spirit does not gerrymander or rig Synod or Oecumenical council votes - The Pope and Bishops vote.

 Now there is only one real argument against the existence of God - all the others fall apart when rationally confronted with reality but one remains - one so confrontational that it compelled Ivan Karamazov to refuse to participate and return his invitation to belong to God's creation...
The problem of Evil.
...and there is only one rational response.
"How else can evil be allowed to exist, save for a greater good?"


God permits evil - He permits sin.
Yes - Nothing happens but what God wills - but there is a profound difference between what God wished [His Antecedent will] and what God permits [through which He will actuate a greater good] - i.e. His Consequent Will.
God's antecedent will was for none to fall. for all to share Heaven in their created perfection with Him for eternity - for all to be saved.
God's consequent will - because angels fell, because we fell, because we continue to sin and because ultimately some of us will not wish eternity with Him if the price means dying to our selfish vices - is axiomatically very different from God's original antecedent will.


Therefore when anything happens - we are absolutely forbidden from the presumption that what God's consequent will has permitted remotely conforms to that which His antecedent will desired.
Just because something happens - be it some remarkably fortuitous or ostensibly miraculous event or a revolution or a restoration or discovery or victory over an evil aggressor in war? or alternatively  the horror of war and famine and personal tragedies or holocausts upon Jews, Chinese, Russians, the Unborn, our euthanised sick and unwanted.or the ravages of spanish flu or AIDS or ebola..
We are absolutely prohibited from ever presuming it is part of God's antecedent will [eg Divine vindication/reward or Divine retribution]
...merely what happens is what God permits....
...and from the ostensible benefits or the blatantly obvious ravages of what God permits?
We are guaranteed that God's resolution of it all is assuredly a greater Good.


Now comes the big crunch question:
What in the name of all sanity has any of this to do with the impending Synod on Marriage and the Family?
It's about the proposed reception of Holy Communion for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics and active homosexuals isn't it?
That the ongoing mortal sin of adultery and fornication should not be a barrier from being one in communion with one's neighbours?
By appealing to mercy and tolerance and the notion of integration and unity and even [ironically] appealing to the notion of solidarity that no-one is isolated or alienated or ostracised?
That we all be one?

What has any of this to do with God's sufficient grace or the Holy Spirit not treating us like puppets or God's antecedent and consequent will?
Well the answer is quite simple:
It has EVERYTHING to do with it!!


Primarily you have to understand how the world has been contaminated in two ways over the past two centuries - and how this ideological contamination has infected the mindframe of those within the modern Church.
The first is easily recognised and understood - Evolutionism - not in the limited biological sense regarding certain developments within certain species: but universal development of everything - absolute ever-fulfilling progressivism...things can only get better - things only do get better...for further reading look at the writings of Teilhard de Chardin and Emile Mersch and Karl Rahner and a host of moderns to understand this notion of everything evolving to some ieffable ethereal omega point where we all become so like God we collectively usurp the role in some Buddhist nirvana of everything and nothing.


Secondly we have to get a bit philosophical - and although I'll skip the background of the whole metaphysical potency/act problem in presocratics through stoical pantheism and enlightenment naturalism and pantheism - [which Aristotle and Aquinas perfectly refuted and dealt with] we end up with the nightmare philosophy of Hegel which like a virus has infected every socio-cultural and political ideology of any wing and flavour..be it nazism or stalinism, capitalism or revolutionary marxism, libertarianism or totalitarianism...


Now I suppose yet again you're asking - what has Hegel to do with the Synod?
Please bear with me for a few more minutes:
Now Hegel's philosophy is grounded in two main principles

a] The Dialectic - where there is no actual truth or understanding of reality - there cannot be as there is division and dissension and alienation - therefore all is merely a movement towards a more truthful understanding through a position of compromise and unity between the extremes and tensions of all aspects of reality - one takes two seemingly opposing positions and seeks the underlying truth within both to synthesise this thesis and antithesis into a higher thesis - which in turn is still imperfect and has opposition through an antithesis and must again be synthesised into a higher thesis..and the process continues.


b] Now how can we be certain this process works and we won't be misguided or misdirected throughout this?
- ahhh but that's impossible because there is a universal spirit within reality that seeks this unfolding, flourishing, unifying. coalescing synthesis of the dialectic
- a spirit leading us ever onward and upward in all spheres of reality towards a universal holism - this spirit is known as The Geist 
- and the Geist ensures the validity and integrity of the ideological system itself and its ultimate destiny in perfection. [notice the similarities in all our utopianisms of reichs, and the a communist world-state, or universal randian liberty, or the integrationist wonderland of the multiculturalist or the feminist or the eco-warrior?]. We are enslaved to the machinations and functions of the Geist - we are part of a system which is inseparable from this unstoppable force leading humanity towards its inevitable destiny.


Now are you beginning to see where I'm coming from?
The development of Doctrine?
It being the will of the Holy Spirit ?
We are mere pawns and puppets of this Divine Will - this movement of this religious geist - the Holy Spirit - towards this evolving ever-reflourishing  progressive end?
That we are to seek an end to division and synthesise into uniformity and unity via a compromise dialectic which will placate and satisfy- where tolerance and 'mercy and charity' dwell via acceptance of all and the elimination of alienation and ostracism?
For we are all equal in the sight of God and none are loved more or less - and equality indicates sameness and uniformity and homogeneity - where dissociating divisive factors like difference or independence or non-confomity are anathematised.? 

 
Now the Synod's proposed 'theology of mercy' Kasperite position is going to be grounded upon what I call "three great heresies and a lie".
The first two heresies are going to be promoted at every opportunity in order to introduce a third with which the Church has been contaminated for centuries & manifested itself in three forms of a heresy against God's sufficient grace {Neo-Pelagianism/Molinism- then Jansenism- then Gradualism}- and which rebel Bishops sought to impose at synod 35 years ago but were halted in their tracks by Pope St John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio.

The first heresy is quite obvious:
a] That everything that happens within the Church conforms to the antecedent will of God - that God wished this for the Church from before creation - and that all movements of the Holy Spirit are manifestations of this Church progression - forward ever forward - we cannot go back - all is development and what God planned.
Of course we have absolutely no idea whether it does or not - we are not open to the innermost mysteries of the Divine plan - but it would be the gravest presumption to not believe that the mass exodus out of the Church - that its secularisation and desacralisation and its loss of the apologetic and its cultural identity and the falling away of so many are not merely what God permits in His consequent will - and were never part of His antecedent. But this naiive ludicrous hegelian optimism that it's all happened because it's what God always wished is a heresy.


the second is simple
b]  We are but pawns and puppets of the Holy Spirit in our wills - our Bishops  and clerics and bodies of our reformist laity by their very existence and every thought, word and deed is all subsumed into the system by which the Holy Spirit moves them all towards the desired end....
Of course this is a heresy - the Holy Spirit inspires our intellect - and we accept or reject and act accordingly - free will - our choice - we may do good and conform with the Holy Spirit's inspiration - but we can just as easily renege and defy and choose to sin...


Thus these two heresies will be promoted at every opportunity to lay the groundwork for the third:
You can guarantee the the major soundbite and buzzword from the lips of all those who seek to change Catholic teaching via a perversion of its pastoral implementation will be one of lebensraum:

"We must allow the Holy Spirit space to reform the Church"


The third heresy is quite confusing [which is probably why during the last extraordinary synod there was almost universal ignorance of what the heresy entailed among Catholic journalists, commentators and media representatives who all spoke at great length claiming great understanding about it - and every last one of them got it wrong]
Now in Familiaris Consortio Pope St John Paul II refers to the law of gradualism - an easily recognisable phenomenon - our gradual progression through the consequences of our sin after our repentance and absolution we are still weak , weary and scarred and it will take us a while to gradually heal.
BUT Pope St John Paul II rejects absolutely the heresy known as the Principle of Gradualism.
Now I could go into this heresy at great length and explain its intricacies and consequences and the way it destroys the very fabric of the notion of grace and God's love for us and the integrity of the human person....

But all you really need to know about it is simply it denies God's sufficient grace to immediately repent of all sin or sinfulness - and the sufficient grace to not sin again.


In other words God does not provide sinners with the grace which will prevent them from being able to stop sinning or to not start sinning again...

The underlying great lie in it all is 'God doesn't love us enough to get us out of our mess"

...hence all sinners cannot be expected to stop sinning immediately - they must be treated with compassion and understanding to be weaned off from their sinfulness - go on a sin-controlled diet - enter into a sin-reduction spiritual fitness plan.
It cannot be expected for severe or long-term sinners to immediately stop their sins - it is simply not possible for them...

In other words the underlying message of this heresy is that when it comes to repentance and turning away from sin - GOD COMMANDS THE IMPOSSIBLE!!!

God has not provided the sufficient grace - therefore they cannot do it!!

Now you see this is where the Heresy comes undone [incidentally many Church fathers, St Augustine & the council of Trent absolutely repudiate and refute Gradualism - I'll give you the links when I have time but in the meantime]

The heresy is not going to be very palatable to the collective faithful when it comes to the conclusion that God commands the impossible from sinners....
We Sin and can't stop: And it's God's fault

Hence the Gradualists - of which Kasper and his cronies are mere successors - have to now insert a lie into the equation...
[yes it's irrational - yes it's mendacious - yes it is the actions of anti-intellectual scoundrels but this is what the Gradualists do...if a heresy gives you the principle you want but not the conclusion you desire? You simply change the conclusion.]

In order to retain this "Principle of Gradualism" they have to twist the argument on its head
It is not that God commands the impossible
How could He?
He's a merciful, tolerant, forgiving, ever-loving and always charitable and inclusive God?
it's not God that's demanding the impossible from these poor sinners trapped in their sinful ways needing slow, pastoral assistance and reassurance to slowly reduce their sinfulness...it's not God who is lacking in Love and Mercy

NO - IT'S THE CHURCH!!!!
It is the Church which is cruel and uncharitable and merciless and intolerant with its hyper-proscriptive alienating legalism and donatism - its judgmentalism upon the sinner [actually it's judging the sin but they're on a roll here]
It is the Church's heartless, calcified, rigorist legalism which is to blame...
...and this is NOT WHAT GOD WANTS!!!


We are therefore not walking in God's ways
- we are not living according to His gospel and the values of His kingdom
- we are standing in the way of His message of welcoming love which calls all sinners to Himself...
Remember the ludicrous tag-line to the film "Love Story"?
"Love means never having to say you're sorry"
Well gradualism considers God's love means 'we have nothing about which to ever be sorry'

In other words when Our Lord said
 "If you love Me you will keep My commands"
He never really meant we had to do it!!!
That's Donatism - that's heartless legalism
Haven't they both donatism and legalism been recently condemned by our Bishops Conference and Pope Francis?

Do you see what's at stake?
I'm not sure you do yet...
Because have a little think about the ramifications of a single gradualist principle being inserted in any moral adjudication on pastoral practice and praxis within Holy Mother Church - even to something as seemingly remote as using it to justify the slow reception of people still in mortal sin to reception of the sacraments...

A single gradualist principle sets a moral precedent which may subsequently be applied to any and every aspect of Catholic moral teaching and its pastoral applications....


In other words the entirety of moral and pastoral theology - contaminated with the lethal virus that sin is something with which we have to deal with, to negotiate with, compromise with, excuse and slowly wean people off from and lead people away from...
becomes a hellish nightmare of counterproductive self-contradicting heterodoxy, lie, fallacy and heresy-in-itself...

Catholic morality in one fell swoop would collapse and fall dead in the water - not merely ineffectual but directly counterproductive - lethally destructive and toxic!!


Now if you wish any further clarifications or explanations please ask in the combox - but I've already spent way too long writing and taken up far too much of your time.
God bless you all - but please pray long and hard for the upcoming Synod
- pray the gradualists do not get a foothold [please read some of the synod committees [especially the French & the English one led by Burke] as they trounce Gradualism underfoot]

For if the Gradualists were to succeed?
The price would be too high for us all....



Sunday, 29 March 2015

In support of our priests, our families, and our Church


You may have seen the recent letter from more than 450 priests in support of the Church’s teaching on marriage.

We would like to invite you to sign the letter below, to be sent to the press in support of them, and to encourage others to sign it.

To sign, please leave your name and your diocese in the comments box below, or if you prefer email them to me or to one of the coordinators:

Mark Lambert (mark@landbtechnical.com) or Andrew Plasom-Scott (andrewplasom_scott@me.com)

The Letter:

Dear Sir,
We, the undersigned, wish to endorse and support the letter signed by over 450 priests in the recent edition of the Catholic Herald, http://bit.ly/19kuBkl
As laity, we all know from our own family experiences, or those of our friends and neighbours, the harrowing trauma of divorce and separation, and we sympathise with all those in such situations.
It is precisely for that reason that we believe that the Church must continue to proclaim the truth about marriage, given us by Christ in the Gospels, with clarity and charity in a world that struggles to understand it.
For the sake of those in irregular unions, for the sake of those abandoned and living in accordance with the teachings of the Church, and above all for the sake of the next generation, it is essential that the Church continues to make it quite clear that sacramental marriage is indissoluble until death.
We pray, and expect, that our hierarchy will represent us, and the Church’s unwavering teaching, at the Synod this autumn.
 Yours faithfully,

Thursday, 19 March 2015

On Christian Marriage ARCANUM Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII on February 10, 1880



To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops of the Catholic World in Grace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

THE HIDDEN DESIGN of the divine wisdom, which Jesus Christ the Savior of men came to carry out on earth, had this end in view, that, by Himself and in Himself, He should divinely renew the world, which was sinking, as it were, with length of years into decline. The Apostle Paul summed this up in words of dignity and majesty when he wrote to the Ephesians, thus: "That He might make known unto us the mystery of His will . . . to re-establish all things in Christ that are in heaven and on earth."[1]

2. In truth, Christ our Lord, setting Himself to fulfill the commandment which His Father had given Him, straightway imparted a new form and fresh beauty to all things, taking away the effects of their time-worn age. For He healed the wounds which the sin of our first father had inflicted on the human race; He brought all men, by nature children of wrath, into favor with God; He led to the light of truth men wearied out by longstanding errors; He renewed to every virtue those who were weakened by lawlessness of every kind; and, giving them again an inheritance of never-ending bliss, He added a sure hope that their mortal and perishable bodies should one day be partakers of immortality and of the glory of heaven. In order that these unparalleled benefits might last as long as men should be found on earth, He entrusted to His Church the continuance of His work; and, looking to future times, He commanded her to set in order whatever might have become deranged in human society, and to restore whatever might have fallen into ruin.

3. Although the divine renewal we have spoken of chiefly and directly affected men as constituted in the supernatural order of grace, nevertheless some of its precious and salutary fruits were also bestowed abundantly in the order of nature. Hence, not only individual men, but also the whole mass of the human race, have in every respect received no small degree of worthiness. For, so soon as Christian order was once established in the world, it became possible for all men, one by one, to learn what God's fatherly providence is, and to dwell in it habitually, thereby fostering that hope of heavenly help which never confoundeth. From all this outflowed fortitude, self-control, constancy, and the evenness of a peaceful mind, together with many high virtues and noble deeds.

4. Wondrous, indeed, was the extent of dignity, steadfastness, and goodness which thus accrued to the State as well as to the family. The authority of rulers became more just and revered; the obedience of the people more ready and unforced; the union of citizens closer; the rights of dominion more secure. In very truth, the Christian religion thought of and provided for all things which are held to be advantageous in a State; so much so, indeed, that, according to St. Augustine, one cannot see how it could have offered greater help in the matter of living well and happily, had it been instituted for the single object of procuring or increasing those things which contributed to the conveniences or advantages of this mortal life.

5. Still, the purpose We have set before Us is not to recount, in detail, benefits of this kind; Our wish is rather to speak about that family union of which marriage is the beginning and the foundation. The true origin of marriage, venerable brothers, is well known to all. Though revilers of the Christian faith refuse to acknowledge the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church on this subject, and have long striven to destroy the testimony of all nations and of all times, they have nevertheless failed not only to quench the powerful light of truth, but even to lessen it. We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time. And this union of man and woman, that it might answer more fittingly to the infinite wise counsels of God, even from the beginning manifested chiefly two most excellent properties--deeply sealed, as it were, and signed upon it--namely, unity and perpetuity. From the Gospel we see clearly that this doctrine was declared and openly confirmed by the divine authority of Jesus Christ. He bore witness to the Jews and to His Apostles that marriage, from its institution, should exist between two only, that is, between one man and one woman; that of two they are made, so to say, one flesh; and that the marriage bond is by the will of God so closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder. "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder."[2]

6. This form of marriage, however, so excellent and so pre-eminent, began to be corrupted by degrees, and to disappear among the heathen; and became even among the Jewish race clouded in a measure and obscured. For in their midst a common custom was gradually introduced, by which it was accounted as lawful for a man to have more than one wife; and eventually when "by reason of the hardness of their heart,"[3] Moses indulgently permitted them to put away their wives, the way was open to divorce.

7. But the corruption and change which fell on marriage among the Gentiles seem almost incredible, inasmuch as it was exposed in every land to floods of error and of the most shameful lusts. All nations seem, more or less, to have forgotten the true notion and origin of marriage; and thus everywhere laws were enacted with reference to marriage, prompted to all appearance by State reasons, but not such as nature required. Solemn rites, invented at will of the law-givers, brought about that women should, as might be, bear either the honorable name of wife or the disgraceful name of concubine; and things came to such a pitch that permission to marry, or the refusal of the permission, depended on the will of the heads of the State, whose laws were greatly against equity or even to the highest degree unjust. Moreover, plurality of wives and husbands, as well as divorce, caused the nuptial bond to be relaxed exceedingly. Hence, too, sprang up the greatest confusion as to the mutual rights and duties of husbands and wives, inasmuch as a man assumed right of dominion over his wife, ordering her to go about her business, often without any just cause; while he was himself at liberty "to run headlong with impunity into lust, unbridled and unrestrained, in houses of ill-fame and amongst his female slaves, as if the dignity of the persons sinned with, and not the will of the sinner, made the guilt."[4] When the licentiousness of a husband thus showed itself, nothing could be more piteous than the wife, sunk so low as to be all but reckoned as a means for the gratification of passion, or for the production of offspring. Without any feeling of shame, marriageable girls were bought and sold, like so much merchandise,[5] and power was sometimes given to the father and to the husband to inflict capital punishment on the wife. Of necessity, the offspring of such marriages as these were either reckoned among the stock in trade of the common-wealth or held to be the property of the father of the family;[6] and the law permitted him to make and unmake the marriages of his children at his mere will, and even to exercise against them the monstrous power of life and death.

8. So manifold being the vices and so great the ignominies with which marriage was defiled, an alleviation and a remedy were at length bestowed from on high. Jesus Christ, who restored our human dignity and who perfected the Mosaic law, applied early in His ministry no little solicitude to the question of marriage. He ennobled the marriage in Cana of Galilee by His presence, and made it memorable by the first of the miracles which he wrought;[7] and for this reason, even from that day forth, it seemed as if the beginning of new holiness had been conferred on human marriages. Later on He brought back matrimony to the nobility of its primeval origin by condemning the customs of the Jews in their abuse of the plurality of wives and of the power of giving bills of divorce; and still more by commanding most strictly that no one should dare to dissolve that union which God Himself had sanctioned by a bond perpetual. Hence, having set aside the difficulties which were adduced from the law of Moses, He, in character of supreme Lawgiver, decreed as follows concerning husbands and wives, "I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and he that shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery."[8]

9. But what was decreed and constituted in respect to marriage by the authority of God has been more fully and more clearly handed down to us, by tradition and the written Word, through the Apostles, those heralds of the laws of God. To the Apostles, indeed, as our masters, are to be referred the doctrines which "our holy Fathers, the Councils, and the Tradition of the Universal Church have always taught,"[9] namely, that Christ our Lord raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament; that to husband and wife, guarded and strengthened by the heavenly grace which His merits Rained for them, He gave power to attain holiness in the married state; and that, in a wondrous way, making marriage an example of the mystical union between Himself and His Church, He not only perfected that love which is according to nature,[10] but also made the naturally indivisible union of one man with one woman far more perfect through the bond of heavenly love. Paul says to the Ephesians: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it, that He might sanctify it. . . So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. . . For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church; because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church."[11] In like manner from the teaching of the Apostles we learn that the unity of marriage and its perpetual indissolubility, the indispensable conditions of its very origin, must, according to the command of Christ, be holy and inviolable without exception. Paul says again: "To them that are married, not I, but the Lord commandeth that the wife depart not from her husband; and if she depart, that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband."[12] And again: "A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband die, she is at liberty."[13] It is for these reasons that marriage is "a great sacrament";[14] "honorable in all,"[15] holy, pure, and to be reverenced as a type and symbol of most high mysteries.

10. Furthermore, the Christian perfection and completeness of marriage are not comprised in those points only which have been mentioned. For, first, there has been vouchsafed to the marriage union a higher and nobler purpose than was ever previously given to it. By the command of Christ, it not only looks to the propagation of the human race, but to the bringing forth of children for the Church, "fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God";[16] so that "a people might be born and brought up for the worship and religion of the true God and our Savior Jesus Christ."[17]

11. Secondly, the mutual duties of husband and wife have been defined, and their several rights accurately established. They are bound, namely, to have such feelings for one another as to cherish always very great mutual love, to be ever faithful to their marriage vow, and to give one another an unfailing and unselfish help. The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For "the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. . . Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things."[18]

12. As regards children, they ought to submit to the parents and obey them, and give them honor for conscience' sake; while, on the other hand, parents are bound to give all care and watchful thought to the education of their offspring and their virtuous bringing up: "Fathers, . . . bring them up" (that is, your children) "in the discipline and correction of the Lord."[19] From this we see clearly that the duties of husbands and wives are neither few nor light; although to married people who are good these burdens become not only bearable but agreeable, owing to the strength which they gain through the sacrament.

13. Christ, therefore, having renewed marriage to such and so great excellence, commended and entrusted all the discipline bearing upon these matters to His Church. The Church, always and everywhere, has so used her power with reference to the marriages of Christians that men have seen clearly how it belongs to her as of native right; not being made hers by any human grant, but given divinely to her by the will of her Founder. Her constant and watchful care in guarding marriage, by the preservation of its sanctity, is so well understood as to not need proof. That the judgment of the Council of Jerusalem reprobated licentious and free love,[20] we all know; as also that the incestuous Corinthian was condemned by the authority of blessed Paul.[21] Again, in the very beginning of the Christian Church were repulsed and defeated, with the like unremitting determination, the efforts of many who aimed at the destruction of Christian marriage, such as the Gnostics, Manicheans, and Montanists; and in our own time Mormons, St. Simonians, phalansterians, and communists.[22]

14. In like manner, moreover, a law of marriage just to all, and the same for all, was enacted by the abolition of the old distinction between slaves and free-born men and women;[23] and thus the rights of husbands and wives were made equal: for, as St. Jerome says, "with us that which is unlawful for women is unlawful for men also, and the same restraint is imposed on equal conditions."[24] The self-same rights also were firmly established for reciprocal affection and for the interchange of duties; the dignity of the woman was asserted and assured; and it was forbidden to the man to inflict capital punishment for adultery,[25] or lustfully and shamelessly to violate his plighted faith.

15. It is also a great blessing that the Church has limited, so far as is needful, the power of fathers of families, so that sons and daughters, wishing to marry, are not in any way deprived of their rightful freedom;[26] that, for the purpose of spreading more widely the supernatural love of husbands and wives, she has decreed marriages within certain degrees of consanguinity or affinity to be null and void;[27] that she has taken the greatest pains to safeguard marriage, as much as is possible, from error and violence and deceit;[28] that she has always wished to preserve the holy chasteness of the marriage bed, the security of persons,[29] the honor of husband and wife,[30] and the sanctity of religion.[31] Lastly, with such foresight of legislation has the Church guarded its divine institution that no one who thinks rightfully of these matters can fail to see how, with regard to marriage, she is the best guardian and defender of the human race; and how, withal, her wisdom has come forth victorious from the lapse of years, from the assaults of men, and from the countless changes of public events.

16. Yet, owing to the efforts of the archenemy of mankind, there are persons who, thanklessly casting away so many other blessings of redemption, despise also or utterly ignore the restoration of marriage to its original perfection. It is a reproach to some of the ancients that they showed themselves the enemies of marriage in many ways; but in our own age, much more pernicious is the sin of those who would fain pervert utterly the nature of marriage, perfect though it is, and complete in all its details and parts. The chief reason why they act in this way is because very many, imbued with the maxims of a false philosophy and corrupted in morals, judge nothing so unbearable as submission and obedience; and strive with all their might to bring about that not only individual men, but families, also--indeed, human society itself--may in haughty pride despise the sovereignty of God.

17. Now, since the family and human society at large spring from marriage, these men will on no account allow matrimony to be the subject of the jurisdiction of the Church. Nay, they endeavor to deprive it of all holiness, and so bring it within the contracted sphere of those rights which, having been instituted by man, are ruled and administered by the civil jurisprudence of the community. Wherefore it necessarily follows that they attribute all power over marriage to civil rulers, and allow none whatever to the Church; and, when the Church exercises any such power, they think that she acts either by favor of the civil authority or to its injury. Now is the time, they say, for the heads of the State to vindicate their rights unflinchingly, and to do their best to settle all that relates to marriage according as to them seems good.

18. Hence are owing civil marriages, commonly so called; hence laws are framed which impose impediments to marriage; hence arise judicial sentences affecting the marriage contract, as to whether or not it have been rightly made. Lastly, all power of prescribing and passing judgment in this class of cases is, as we see, of set purpose denied to the Catholic Church, so that no regard is paid either to her divine power or to her prudent laws. Yet, under these, for so many centuries, have the nations lived on whom the light of civilization shone bright with the wisdom of Christ Jesus.

19. Nevertheless, the naturalists,[32] as well as all who profess that they worship above all things the divinity of the State, and strive to disturb whole communities with such wicked doctrines, cannot escape the charge of delusion. Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son; and therefore there abides in it a something holy and religious; not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature. Innocent III. therefore. and Honorius III, our predecessors, affirmed not falsely nor rashly that a sacrament of marriage existed ever amongst the faithful and unbelievers.[33] We call to witness the monuments of antiquity, as also the manners and customs of those people who, being the most civilized, had the greatest knowledge of law and equity. In the minds of all of them it was a fixed and foregone conclusion that, when marriage was thought of, it was thought of as conjoined with religion and holiness. Hence, among those, marriages were commonly celebrated with religious ceremonies, under the authority of pontiffs, and with the ministry of priests. So mighty, even in the souls ignorant of heavenly doctrine, was the force of nature, of the remembrance of their origin, and of the conscience of the human race. As, then, marriage is holy by its own power, in its own nature, and of itself, it ought not to be regulated and administered by the will of civil rulers, but by the divine authority of the Church, which alone in sacred matters professes the office of teaching.

20. Next, the dignity of the sacrament must be considered, for through addition of the sacrament the marriages of Christians have become far the noblest of all matrimonial unions. But to decree and ordain concerning the sacrament is, by the will of Christ Himself, so much a part of the power and duty of the Church that it is plainly absurd to maintain that even the very smallest fraction of such power has been transferred to the civil ruler.

21. Lastly should be borne in mind the great weight and crucial test of history, by which it is plainly proved that the legislative and judicial authority of which We are speaking has been freely and constantly used by the Church, even in times when some foolishly suppose the head of the State either to have consented to it or connived at it. It would, for instance, be incredible and altogether absurd to assume that Christ our Lord condemned the long-standing practice of polygamy and divorce by authority delegated to Him by the procurator of the province, or the principal ruler of the Jews. And it would be equally extravagant to think that, when the Apostle Paul taught that divorces and incestuous marriages were not lawful, it was because Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero agreed with him or secretly commanded him so to teach. No man in his senses could ever be persuaded that the Church made so many laws about the holiness and indissolubility of marriage,[34] and the marriages of slaves with the free-born,[35] by power received from Roman emperors, most hostile to the Christian name, whose strongest desire was to destroy by violence and murder the rising Church of Christ. Still less could anyone believe this to be the case, when the law of the Church was sometimes so divergent from the civil law that Ignatius the Martyr,[36] Justin,[37] Athenagoras,[38] and Tertullian[39] publicly denounced as unjust and adulterous certain marriages which had been sanctioned by imperial law.

22. Furthermore, after all power had devolved upon the Christian emperors, the supreme pontiffs and bishops assembled in council persisted with the same independence and consciousness of their right in commanding or forbidding in regard to marriage whatever they judged to be profitable or expedient for the time being, however much it might seem to be at variance with the laws of the State. It is well known that, with respect to the impediments arising from the marriage bond, through vow, disparity of worship, blood relationship, certain forms of crime, and from previously plighted troth, many decrees were issued by the rulers of the Church at the Councils of Granada,[40] Arles,[41] Chalcedon,[42] the second of Milevum,[43] and others, which were often widely different from the decrees sanctioned by the laws of the empire. Furthermore, so far were Christian princes from arrogating any power in the matter of Christian marriage that they on the contrary acknowledged and declared that it belonged exclusively in all its fullness to the Church. In fact, Honorius, the younger Theodosius, and Justinian,[44] also, hesitated not to confess that the only power belonging to them in relation to marriage was that of acting as guardians and defenders of the holy canons. If at any time they enacted anything by their edicts concerning impediments of marriage, they voluntarily explained the reason, affirming that they took it upon themselves so to act, by leave and authority of the Church,[45] whose judgment they were wont to appeal to and reverently to accept in all questions that concerned legitimacy[46] and divorce;[47] as also in all those points which in any way have a necessary connection with the marriage bond.[48] The Council of Trent, therefore, had the clearest right to define that it is in the Church's power "to establish diriment impediments of matrimony,"[49] and that "matrimonial causes pertain to ecclesiastical judges."[50]

23. Let no one, then, be deceived by the distinction which some civil jurists have so strongly insisted upon--the distinction, namely, by virtue of which they sever the matrimonial contract from the sacrament, with intent to hand over the contract to the power and will of the rulers of the State, while reserving questions concerning the sacrament of the Church. A distinction, or rather severance, of this kind cannot be approved; for certain it is that in Christian marriage the contract is inseparable from the sacrament, and that, for this reason, the contract cannot be true and legitimate without being a sacrament as well. For Christ our Lord added to marriage the dignity of a sacrament; but marriage is the contract itself, whenever that contract is lawfully concluded.

24. Marriage, moreover, is a sacrament, because it is a holy sign which gives grace, showing forth an image of the mystical nuptials of Christ with the Church. But the form and image of these nuptials is shown precisely by the very bond of that most close union in which man and woman are bound together in one; which bond is nothing else but the marriage itself. Hence it is clear that among Christians every true marriage is, in itself and by itself, a sacrament; and that nothing can be further from the truth than to say that the sacrament is a certain added ornament, or outward endowment, which can be separated and torn away from the contract at the caprice of man. Neither, therefore, by reasoning can it be shown, nor by any testimony of history be proved, that power over the marriages of Christians has ever lawfully been handed over to the rulers of the State. If, in this matter, the right of anyone else has ever been violated, no one can truly say that it has been violated by the Church. Would that the teaching of the naturalists, besides being full of falsehood and injustice, were not also the fertile source of much detriment and calamity! But it is easy to see at a glance the greatness of the evil which unhallowed marriages have brought, and ever will bring, on the whole of human society.

25. From the beginning of the world, indeed, it was divinely ordained that things instituted by God and by nature should be proved by us to be the more profitable and salutary the more they remain unchanged in their full integrity. For God, the Maker of all things, well knowing what was good for the institution and preservation of each of His creatures, so ordered them by His will and mind that each might adequately attain the end for which it was made. If the rashness or the wickedness of human agency venture to change or disturb that order of things which has been constituted with fullest foresight, then the designs of infinite wisdom and usefulness begin either to be hurtful or cease to be profitable, partly because through the change undergone they have lost their power of benefiting, and partly because God chooses to inflict punishment on the pride and audacity of man. Now, those who deny that marriage is holy, and who relegate it, striped of all holiness, among the class of common secular things, uproot thereby the foundations of nature, not only resisting the designs of Providence, but, so far as they can, destroying the order that God has ordained. No one, therefore, should wonder if from such insane and impious attempts there spring up a crop of evils pernicious in the highest degree both to the salvation of souls and to the safety of the commonwealth.

26. If, then, we consider the end of the divine institution of marriage, we shall see very clearly that God intended it to be a most fruitful source of individual benefit and of public welfare. Not only, in strict truth, was marriage instituted for the propagation of the human race, but also that the lives of husbands and wives might be made better and happier. This comes about in many ways: by their lightening each other's burdens through mutual help; by constant and faithful love; by having all their possessions in common; and by the heavenly grace which flows from the sacrament. Marriage also can do much for the good of families, for, so long as it is conformable to nature and in accordance with the counsels of God, it has power to strengthen union of heart in the parents; to secure the holy education of children; to temper the authority of the father by the example of the divine authority; to render children obedient to their parents and servants obedient to their masters. From such marriages as these the State may rightly expect a race of citizens animated by a good spirit and filled with reverence and love for God, recognizing it their duty to obey those who rule justly and lawfully, to love all, and to injure no one.

27. These many and glorious fruits were ever the product of marriage, so long as it retained those gifts of holiness, unity, and indissolubility from which proceeded all its fertile and saving power; nor can anyone doubt but that it would always have brought forth such fruits, at all times and in all places, had it been under the power and guardianship of the Church, the trustworthy preserver and protector of these gifts. But, now, there is a spreading wish to supplant natural and divine law by human law; and hence has begun a gradual extinction of that most excellent ideal of marriage which nature herself had impressed on the soul of man, and sealed, as it were, with her own seal; nay, more, even in Christian marriages this power, productive of so great good, has been weakened by the sinfulness of man. Of what advantage is it if a state can institute nuptials estranged from the Christian religion, which is the mother of all good, cherishing all sublime virtues, quickening and urging us to everything that is the glory of a lofty and generous soul? When the Christian religion is reflected and repudiated, marriage sinks of necessity into the slavery of man's vicious nature and vile passions, and finds but little protection in the help of natural goodness. A very torrent of evil has flowed from this source, not only into private families, but also into States. For, the salutary fear of God being removed, and there being no longer that refreshment in toil which is nowhere more abounding than in the Christian religion, it very often happens, as indeed is natural, that the mutual services and duties of marriage seem almost unbearable; and thus very many yearn for the loosening of the tie which they believe to be woven by human law and of their own will, whenever incompatibility of temper, or quarrels, or the violation of the marriage vow, or mutual consent, or other reasons induce them to think that it would be well to be set free. Then, if they are hindered by law from carrying out this shameless desire, they contend that the laws are iniquitous, inhuman, and at variance with the rights of free citizens; adding that every effort should be made to repeal such enactments, and to introduce a more humane code sanctioning divorce.

28. Now, however much the legislators of these our days may wish to guard themselves against the impiety of men such as we have been speaking of, they are unable to do so, seeing that they profess to hold and defend the very same principles of jurisprudence; and hence they have to go with times, and render divorce easily obtainable. History itself shows this; for, to pass over other instances, we find that, at the close of the last century, divorces were sanctioned by law in that upheaval or, rather, as it might be called, conflagration in France, when society was wholly degraded by the abandoning of God. Many at the present time would fain have those laws reenacted, because they wish God and His Church to be altogether exiled and excluded from the midst of human society, madly thinking that in such laws a final remedy must be sought for that moral corruption which is advancing with rapid strides.

29. Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families; the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low, and women run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the pleasures of men. Since, then, nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals, it is easily seen that divorces are in the highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and States, springing as they do from the depraved morals of the people, and, as experience shows us, opening out a way to every kind of evil-doing in public and in private life.

30. Further still, if the matter be duly pondered, we shall clearly see these evils to be the more especially dangerous, because, divorce once being tolerated, there will be no restraint powerful enough to keep it within the bounds marked out or presurmised. Great indeed is the force of example, and even greater still the might of passion. With such incitements it must needs follow that the eagerness for divorce, daily spreading by devious ways, will seize upon the minds of many like a virulent contagious disease, or like a flood of water bursting through every barrier. These are truths that doubtlessly are all clear in themselves, but they will become clearer yet if we call to mind the teachings of experience. So soon as the road to divorce began to be made smooth by law, at once quarrels, jealousies, and judicial separations largely increased: and such shamelessness of life followed that men who had been in favor of these divorces repented of what they had done, and feared that, if they did not carefully seek a remedy by repealing the law, the State itself might come to ruin. The Romans of old are said to have shrunk with horror from the first example of divorce, but ere long all sense of decency was blunted in their soul; the meager restraint of passion died out, and the marriage vow was so often broken that what some writers have affirmed would seem to be true--namely, women used to reckon years not by the change of consuls, but of their husbands. In like manner, at the beginning, Protestants allowed legalized divorces in certain although but few cases, and yet from the affinity of circumstances of like kind, the number of divorces increased to such extent in Germany, America, and elsewhere that all wise thinkers deplored the boundless corruption of morals, and judged the recklessness of the laws to be simply intolerable.

31. Even in Catholic States the evil existed. For whenever at any time divorce was introduced, the abundance of misery that followed far exceeded all that the framers of the law could have foreseen. In fact, many lent their minds to contrive all kinds of fraud and device, and by accusations of cruelty, violence, and adultery to feign grounds for the dissolution of the matrimonial bond of which they had grown weary; and all this with so great havoc to morals that an amendment of the laws was deemed to be urgently needed.

32. Can anyone, therefore, doubt that laws in favor of divorce would have a result equally baneful and calamitous were they to be passed in these our days? There exists not, indeed, in the projects and enactments of men any power to change the character and tendency with things have received from nature. Those men, therefore, show but little wisdom in the idea they have formed of the well-being of the commonwealth who think that the inherent character of marriage can be perverted with impunity; and who, disregarding the sanctity of religion and of the sacrament, seem to wish to degrade and dishonor marriage more basely than was done even by heathen laws. Indeed, if they do not change their views, not only private families, but all public society, will have unceasing cause to fear lest they should be miserably driven into that general confusion and overthrow of order which is even now the wicked aim of socialists and communists. Thus we see most clearly how foolish and senseless it is to expect any public good from divorce, when, on the contrary, it tends to the certain destruction of society.

33. It must consequently be acknowledged that the Church has deserved exceedingly well of all nations by her ever watchful care in guarding the sanctity and the indissolubility of marriage. Again, no small amount of gratitude is owing to her for having, during the last hundred years, openly denounced the wicked laws which have grievously offended on this particular subject;[51] as well as for her having branded with anathema the baneful heresy obtaining among Protestants touching divorce and separation;[52] also, for having in many ways condemned the habitual dissolution of marriage among the Greeks;[53] for having declared invalid all marriages contracted upon the understanding that they may be at some future time dissolved;[54] and, lastly, for having, from the earliest times, repudiated the imperial laws which disastrously favored divorce.[55]

34. As often, indeed, as the supreme pontiffs have resisted the most powerful among rulers, in their threatening demands that divorces carried out by them should be confirmed by the Church, so often must we account them to have been contending for the safety, not only of religion, but also of the human race. For this reason all generations of men will admire the proofs of unbending courage which are to be found in the decrees of Nicholas I against Lothair; of Urban II and Paschal II against Philip I of France; of Celestine III and Innocent III against Alphonsus of Leon and Philip II of France; of Clement VII and Paul III against Henry VIII; and, lastly, of Pius VII, that holy and courageous pontiff, against Napoleon I, when at the height of his prosperity and in the fullness of his power. This being so, all rulers and administrators of the State who are desirous of following the dictates of reason and wisdom, and anxious for the good of their people, ought to make up their minds to keep the holy laws of marriage intact, and to make use of the proffered aid of the Church for securing the safety of morals and the happiness of families, rather than suspect her of hostile intention and falsely and wickedly accuse her of violating the civil law.

35. They should do this the more readily because the Catholic Church, though powerless in any way to abandon the duties of her office or the defense of her authority, still very greatly inclines to kindness and indulgence whenever they are consistent with the safety of her rights and the sanctity of her duties. Wherefore she makes no decrees in relation to marriage without having regard to the state of the body politic and the condition of the general public; and has besides more than once mitigated, as far as possible, the enactments of her own laws when there were just and weighty reasons. Moreover, she is not unaware, and never calls in doubt, that the sacrament of marriage, being instituted for the preservation and increase of the human race, has a necessary relation to circumstances of life which, though connected with marriage, belong to the civil order, and about which the State rightly makes strict inquiry and justly promulgates decrees.

36. Yet, no one doubts that Jesus Christ, the Founder of the Church, willed her sacred power to be distinct from the civil power, and each power to be free and unshackled in its own sphere: with this condition, however--a condition good for both, and of advantage to all men--that union and concord should be maintained between them; and that on those questions which are, though in different ways, of common right and authority, the power to which secular matters have been entrusted should happily and becomingly depend on the other power which has in its charge the interests of heaven. In such arrangement and harmony is found not only the best line of action for each power, but also the most opportune and efficacious method of helping men in all that pertains to their life here, and to their hope of salvation hereafter. For, as We have shown in former encyclical letters,[56] the intellect of man is greatly ennobled by the Christian faith, and made better able to shun and banish all error, while faith borrows in turn no little help from the intellect; and in like manner, when the civil power is on friendly terms with the sacred authority of the Church, there accrues to both a great increase of usefulness. The dignity of the one is exalted, and so long as religion is its guide it will never rule unjustly; while the other receives help of protection and defense for the public good of the faithful.

37. Being moved, therefore, by these considerations, as We have exhorted rulers at other times, so still more earnestly We exhort them now, to concord and friendly feeling; and we are the first to stretch out Our hand to them with fatherly benevolence, and to offer to them the help of Our supreme authority, a help which is the more necessary at this time when, in public opinion, the authority of rulers is wounded and enfeebled. Now that the minds of so many are inflamed with a reckless spirit of liberty, and men are wickedly endeavoring to get rid of every restraint of authority, however legitimate it may be, the public safety demands that both powers should unite their strength to avert the evils which are hanging, not only over the Church, but also over civil society.

38. But, while earnestly exhorting all to a friendly union of will, and beseeching God, the Prince of peace, to infuse a love of concord into all hearts, We cannot, venerable brothers, refrain from urging you more and more to fresh earnestness, and zeal, and watchfulness, though we know that these are already very great. With every effort and with all authority, strive, as much as you are able, to preserve whole and undefiled among the people committed to your charge the doctrine which Christ our Lord taught us; which the Apostles, the interpreters of the will of God, have handed down; and which the Catholic Church has herself scrupulously guarded, and commanded to be believed in all ages by the faithful of Christ.

39. Let special care be taken that the people be well instructed in the precepts of Christian wisdom, so that they may always remember that marriage was not instituted by the will of man, but, from the very beginning, by the authority and command of God; that it does not admit of plurality of wives or husbands; that Christ, the Author of the New Covenant, raised it from a rite of nature to be a sacrament, and gave to His Church legislative and judicial power with regard to the bond of union. On this point the very greatest care must be taken to instruct them, lest their minds should be led into error by the unsound conclusions of adversaries who desire that the Church should be deprived of that power.

40. In like manner, all ought to understand clearly that, if there be any union of a man and a woman among the faithful of Christ which is not a sacrament, such union has not the force and nature of a proper marriage; that, although contracted in accordance with the laws of the State, it cannot be more than a rite or custom introduced by the civil law. Further, the civil law can deal with and decide those matters alone which in the civil order spring from marriage, and which cannot possibly exist, as is evident, unless there be a true and lawful cause of them, that is to say, the nuptial bond. It is of the greatest consequence to husband and wife that all these things should be known and well understood by them, in order that they may conform to the laws of the State, if there be no objection on the part of the Church; for the Church wishes the effects of marriage to be guarded in all possible ways, and that no harm may come to the children.

41. In the great confusion of opinions, however, which day by day is spreading more and more widely, it should further be known that no power can dissolve the bond of Christian marriage whenever this has been ratified and consummated; and that, of a consequence, those husbands and wives are guilty of a manifest crime who plan, for whatever reason, to be united in a second marriage before the first one has been ended by death. When, indeed, matters have come to such a pitch that it seems impossible for them to live together any longer, then the Church allows them to live apart, and strives at the same time to soften the evils of this separation by such remedies and helps as are suited to their condition; yet she never ceases to endeavor to bring about a reconciliation, and never despairs of doing so. But these are extreme cases; and they would seldom exist if men and women entered into the married state with proper dispositions, not influenced by passion, but entertaining right ideas of the duties of marriage and of its noble purpose; neither would they anticipate their marriage by a series of sins drawing down upon them the wrath of God.

42. To sum up all in a few words, there would be a calm and quiet constancy in marriage if married people would gather strength and life from the virtue of religion alone, which imparts to us resolution and fortitude; for religion would enable them to bear tranquilly and even gladly the trials of their state, such as, for instance, the faults that they discover in one another, the difference of temper and character, the weight of a mother's cares, the wearing anxiety about the education of children, reverses of fortune, and the sorrows of life.

43. Care also must be taken that they do not easily enter into marriage with those who are not Catholics; for, when minds do not agree as to the observances of religion, it is scarcely possible to hope for agreement in other things. Other reasons also proving that persons should turn with dread from such marriages are chiefly these: that they give occasion to forbidden association and communion in religious matters; endanger the faith of the Catholic partner; are a hindrance to the proper education of the children; and often lead to a mixing up of truth and falsehood, and to the belief that all religions are equally good.

44. Lastly, since We well know that none should be excluded from Our charity, We commend, venerable brothers, to your fidelity and piety those unhappy persons who, carried away by the heat of passion, and being utterly indifferent to their salvation, live wickedly together without the bond of lawful marriage. Let your utmost care be exercised in bringing such persons back to their duty; and, both by your own efforts and by those of good men who will consent to help you, strive by every means that they may see how wrongly they have acted; that they may do penance; and that they may be induced to enter into a lawful marriage according to the Catholic rite.

45. You will at once see, venerable brothers, that the doctrine and precepts in relation to Christian marriage, which We have thought good to communicate to you in this letter, tend no less to the preservation of civil society than to the everlasting salvation of souls. May God grant that, by reason of their gravity and importance, minds may everywhere be found docile and ready to obey them! For this end let us all suppliantly, with humble prayer, implore the help of the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, that, our hearts being quickened to the obedience of faith, she may show herself our mother and our helper. With equal earnestness let us ask the princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, the destroyers of heresies, the sowers of the seed of truth, to save the human race by their powerful patronage from the deluge of errors that is surging afresh. In the meantime, as an earnest of heavenly gifts, and a testimony of Our special benevolence, We grant to you all, venerable brothers, and to the people confided to your charge, from the depths of Our heart, the apostolic benediction.

    Given at St. Peter's in Rome, the tenth day of February, 1880, the third year of Our pontificate.

ENDNOTES

[1]
    Eph. 1:9-10.
[2]
    Matt. 19:5-6.
[3]
    Matt. 19:8.
[4]
    Jerome "Epist." 77, 3 (PL 22, 691).
[5]
    Arnobius, "Adversus Gentes," 4 (sic, perhaps 1, 64).
[6]
    Dionysius Halicarnassus, lib. II, chs. 26-27 (see "Roman Antiquities," tr. E. Cary, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1948, Vol. 1, pp. 386.393).
[7]
    John 2.
[8]
    Matt. 19:9.
[9]
    Trid., sess. xxiv, "in principio" (that is, Council of Trent, "Canones et decreta;" the text is divided into sessions, chapters, and canons, i.e., decrees).
[10]
    Trid., sess. xxiv, cap. 1, "De reformatione matrimonii."
[11]
    Eph. 5:25-32.
[12]
    I Cor. 7:10-11.
[13]
    I Cor. 7:39.
[14]
    Eph. 5:32.
[15]
    Heb. 13:4.
[16]
    Eph. 2:19.
[17]
    "Catech. Rom.," ch. 8.
[18]
    Eph. 5:23-24.
[19]
    Eph. 6:4.
[20]
    Acts 15:29.
[21]
    I Cor. 5:5.
[22]
    Gnostics: common name for several early sects claiming a Christian knowledge (gnosis) higher than faith. Manicheans: disciples of the Persian Mani (or Manes, c. 216-276) who taught that everything goes back to two first principles, light and darkness, or good and evil. Montanists: disciples of Montanus (in Phrygia, last third of the second century), condemned marriage as a sinful institution. Mormons: sect founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, which favored polygamy. Saint-Simonians: disciples of the French philosopher Saint Simon (1760-1825) founder of a "new Christianity" based upon science instead of faith. Phalansterians: members of a phalanstery, that is, of a socialist community after the principles of Charles Fourier (1772-1837). Communists: supporters of a regime in which property belongs to the body politic, each member being supposed to work according to his capacity and to receive according to his wants; communism is usually associated with the name of Karl Marx (1818-1893).
[23]
    Cap. 1, "De conjug. serv. Corpus juris canonici," ed. Friedberg (Leipzig, 1884), Part 2, cols. 691-692.
[24]
    Jerome, Epist. 77 (PL 22, 691).
[25]
    Can. "Interfectores" and Canon "Admonere," quaest. 2 "Corpus juris canonici" (Leipzig, 1879), Part 1, cols. 1152-1154.
[26]
    Saus. 30, quaest. 3, cap. 3, "De cognat. spirit." (op. cit., Part 1, col. 1101).
[27]
    Cap. 8, "De consang. et affin." (op. cit., Part 2, col. 703); cap 1, "De cognat. legali" (col. 696).
[28]
    Cap. 26, "De sponsal." (op. cit., Part 2, col. 670); cap. 13 (col. 665); cap. 15 (col. 666); cap. 29 (col. 671); "De sponsalibus et matrimonio et alibi."
[29]
    Cap. 1, "De convers. infid." (op. cit., Part 2, col. 587); cap. 5, 6, "De eo qui duxit in matrim." (cols. 688-689).
[30]
    Cap. 3, 5, 8, "De sponsal. et matr." (op. cit., Part 2, cols. 661, 663). Trid., sess. xxiv, cap. "De reformatione matrimonii."
[31]
    Cap. 7, "De divort." (op. cit., Part 2, col. 722).
[32]
    Maintain the self-sufficiency of the natural order.
[33]
    Concerning Innocent III, see "Corpus juris canonici," cap. 8, "De divort.," ed. cit., Part 2, col. 723. Innocent III refers to I Cor. 7:13. Concerning Honorius III, see cap. ii, "De transact.," (op. cit., Part 2, col. 210).
[34]
    "Canones Apostolorum," 16, 17, 18, ed. Fr. Lauchert, J. C. B. Mohr (Leipzig, 1896) p. 3.
[35]
    "Philosophumena" (Oxford, 1851), i.e., Hippolytus, "Refutation of All Heresies," 9, 12 (PG 16, 3386D-3387A).
[36]
    "Epistola ad Polycarpum," cap. 5 (PG 5, 723-724).
[37]
    "Apolog. Maj.," 15 (PG 6. 349A. B).
[38]
    "Legat. pro Christian.," 32, 33 (PG 6, 963-968).
[39]
    "De coron. milit.," 13 (PL 2, 116).
[40]
    "De Aguirre, Conc. Hispan.," Vol. 1, can. 11.
[41]
    Harduin, "Act. Concil.," Vol. 1, can. 11.
[42]
    Ibid., can. 16.
[43]
    Ibid., can. 17.
[44]
    "Novel.," 137 (Justinianus, "Novellae," ed. C. E. Z. Lingenthal, Leipzig, 1881, Vol. 2, p. 206).
[45]
    Fejer, "Matrim. ex instit." Chris. (Pest, 1835).
[46]
    Cap. 3, "De ord. cogn." (Corpus juris canonici, ed. Cit., Part 2, col. 276).
[47]
    Cap. 3, "De divort." (ed. cit., Part 2, col. 720).
[48]
    Cap. 13, "Qui filii sint legit." (ed. cit., Part 2, col. 716).
[49]
    Trid., sess. xxiv, can. 4.
[50]
    Ibid., can. 12.
[51]
    Pius VI, "Epist. ad episc. Lucion.," May 20, 1793; Pius VII, encycl. letter, Feb. 17, 1809, and constitution given July 19, 1817; Pius VIII, encycl. letter, May 29, 1829; Gregory XVI, constitution given August 15, 1832; Pius IX. address. Sept. 22, 1852.
[52]
    Trid., sess. xxiv, can. 5, 7.
[53]
    Council of Florence and instructions of Eugene IV to the Armenians; Benedict XIV, constitution "Etsi Pastoralis," May 6, 1742.
[54]
    Cap. 7, "De condit. appos". ("Corpus juris canonici," ed. cit., Part 2, col. 684).
[55]
    Jerome, "Epist. 69, ad Oceanum" (PL 22, 657); Ambrose, Lib. 8 in cap. 16 Lucae, n. 5 (PL 15, 1857); Augustine, "De nuptiis," 1, 10, 11 (PL 44, 420). Fifty years after the publication of "Arcanum," Pope Pius XI published his own encyclical "Casti Connubii" (December 31, 1930), which may be found translated, with notes and bibliography, in J. Husslein, S.J., "Social Wellsprings," Vol. II, pp. 122-173; also in pamphlet form, translated by Canon G.D. Smith, Catholic Truth Society of London; Paulist Press, New York; with a discussion club outline by Gerald C. Treacey, S.J.; National Catholic Welfare Conference, Washington, 1939. These pontifical acts should be completed by two addresses given by Pope Pius XII (October 29, 1951, and November 26, 1951), English translation published in pamphlet form by the National Catholic Welfare Conference under the title, "Moral Questions Affecting Married Life," with a discussion outline by Edgar Schmiedeler, O.S.B.
[56]
    "Aetemi Patris," Leo XIII, August 4, 1879.