"In 2 Thess. 2:4, referring to the end-times apostasy, St. Paul says that the man of sin will seat himself in the temple of God, displaying that he himself is God."
This video will show what the temple of God mentioned in the prophecy of 2 Thess. 2:4 is, and what it is definitely not.
False views on this matter are connected to massive errors in understanding New Testament prophecies, the adoption of absurd theories about the end-times, and significant doctrinal errors.
This is an extremely important issue.
Firstly, the temple of God in the prophecy of 2 Thess. 2:4 is certainly not a rebuilt temple of Jerusalem or a Jewish temple, for that would not be the temple of God at all. Sadly, many protestants, and even some misguided people who claim to be Catholic, have adopted the position that the man of sin will sit in a rebuilt temple of Jerusalem, but that position is patently false, and unbiblical.
The Church of Christ is the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). The ceremonies, sacrifices and rites of Judaism and the Old Law were before Jesus Christ came, signs that pointed forward to Him, but after he came, and what was signified by them was present, those ceremonies ceased and were replaced with the sacraments of the New Testament.
The destruction of the temple in AD 70 was the definitive sign that Judaism along with its sacrifices, ceremonies and rites, is dead and buried, and that it has been replaced by the Church of Jesus Christ.
As the Catholic Church has dogmatically taught, to observe or practice the Old Testament rites after the promulgation of the Gospel is a mortal sin.
St. Thomas Aquinas correctly explained that the ceremonies of the Old Law signified that people were looking forward to the Coming of the Messiah. Therefore to observe Old Testament ceremonies now, after Jesus Christ has come and His Gospel has been promulgated, is to pretend that the Messiah has not yet come and fulfilled what those ceremonies signified, and that is heresy and blasphemy.
To observe Judaism or the Old Law now is to deny, in practice, that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
That's why it is gravely sinful to practice Judaism or observe the ceremonies of the Old Law now after the promulgation of the Gospel.
It's also why any rebuilt temple dedicated to such defunct rites would not be the temple of God.
Thus, the temple of God, where the man of sin sits is certainly not a rebuilt temple Jerusalem or a Jewish temple. The false position that the temple of God will be a rebuilt Jewish temple is typically connected to the false doctrine that Jews in the New Testament period are the people of God or that their religion is 'of God.' And that is totally wrong.
It is in fact a heresy-one widely held in our day. But the Bible is very clear; true Christians, not unbelieving Jews, are Israel and the people of God.
1 Peter 2:9 demolishes the notion that any group other than the Church are the people of God when it says of true Christians: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession ..." As we can see, Christians, not Jews, are the chosen race/people of God.
Colossians 3:12 sets forth the same truth.
In fact every time the term 'chosen' is used in the New Testament it refers to Jesus Christ or to Christians. It never refers to Jews or to a specific physical race. God's chosen people are not those who have physically descended from Abraham or joined themselves to those physical descendants, but rather those who have been spiritually regenerated in Christ and maintain His true faith.
Galatians 3:16 informs us that the promises were made to Abraham and to his seed, and that Abraham's seed is not many, but one: that is, Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:29 then tells us that if you are Christ's, you are Abraham's seed.
That is Scripture's infallible teaching on the seed of Abraham. Nothing could be more clear.
This is also why in Acts 3:23, St. Peter, speaking of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, says- "And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be completely cut off from the people.
The Bible teaches that the Jews who don't accept Jesus Christ are completely cut off from the people of God.
Thus, any house or temple they would construct could not be the temple of God. There is an abundance of additional scriptural evidence the could be cited to further prove that Christians, not Jews, are Israel and the people of God.
Since we are discussing the term 'temple of God' in the prophecy of Thess. 2:4, it should be noted that the numerous commentators have pointed out that in his epistles, including in First and Second Thessalonians, St. Paul takes terms that were originally reserved for Israel and applies them to the Church..
St. Paul teaches that the Church has taken the position of Israel. Many passages prove that those outside of Jesus Christ and His Church are not of God. They are not Israel, and they have no part with Him. They need to be converted to the true faith of Christ to be part of the Israel of God.
Hence, any non-Christian or Jewish temple built in Jerusalem, including one that purports to be a restoration of the ancient temple, would not be the temple of God. It would just be another temple of the Devil dedicated to a false religion. This is also why attempts to rebuild the Jerusalem temple have failed and even been prevented by miraculous events.
Consider, for example, the attempt made in the year 363, by the Roman Emperor, Julian the Apostate. Many people aren't familiar with the miraculous events that halted the effort to rebuild the Jerusalem temple, even though these events were well known in the early Church.
Julian the Apostate, an enemy of Christianity, desired to rebuild the Jerusalem temple in the year 363 because its destruction rendered Jews unable to actually practice the Old Testament religion.
The obliteration of their temple, in accord with Jesus Christ's life and prophecies, was a divine proof that the Messiah had come and that Christianity had replaced Judaism.
Well, it's a fact confirmed by many sources - that as Julian's men worked to rebuild the temple, miraculous fireballs burst forth in the area, the earth shook, crosses appeared on the clothing of men, and people were killed, causing the entire effort to be abandoned.
This is not just some legend.
It's a well documented historical occurrence. These extraordinary and miraculous events, which prevented the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem were recorded by St. Gregory Nazianzen, St Ambrose, St. John Chrysostem, the early Church historians, Socrates and Sozomen, and others.
They were even confirmed by the pagan historian Ammianus Marcellus, a friend of Julian the apostate. He stated ... "terrifying balls of flame kept bursting forth near the foundations of the temple, and made the place inaccessible to the workmen, some of whom were burned to death; and since in this way the element [of fire] persistently repelled them, the enterprise halted."
These extraordinary events, which stopped the construction of the temple, were so well documented that St. Ambrose used them as an argument in his letter to the Emperor Gratian in 380. He would not have done so if they were not established facts.
The miraculous events through which God intervened to prevent the reconstruction of the Jerusalem temple are another powerful indication that the temple of God in the New Testament end-times prophecy is not a rebuilt temple of Jerusalem.
Even if one granted for the sake of argument that God would allow a structure purporting to be a restoration of the Jerusalem temple to be completed, the facts we've covered demonstrate that such a structure would certainly not be the temple of God, but the temple of a false religion.
That's why the fourth century doctor of the Church, St. John Chrysostom, correctly described Jewish synagogues in the New Testament period, not as houses of God, but as the lodging places of demons, and said they were less deserving of honor than an inn.
This is consistent with the Bible's teaching in Revelation 3:9 that Jews who reject Jesus Christ are not part of a religion of God, but members of the synagogue of Satan.
Like others outside the Church they need to be converted to the true faith of Christ to be saved.
The meaning of revelations 3:9 is that Jews who reject Jesus Christ are not true Judeans or Jews and they are not Israel, because true Christians alone are Israel. Unbelieving Jews are part of the synagogue of Satan. Only those who belong to Christ are Abraham's seed.
To suppose, therefore, that the temple of God in Thess. 2:4 will be a Jewish temple is actually to equate a lodging of demons and the synagogue of Satan with what is of God, which is, of course, quite wrong.
Further proof that the 'temple of God' referred to in 2 Thess. 2:4 has nothing to do with Judaism is found in considering the meaning of 'temple of God' in St. Paul's epistles.
Even when the Jerusalem temple was still standing, St. Paul made it clear to the Corinthians that Christians had replaced the Jerusalem temple as the temple of God.
For example, "Do you not know that you are God's temple." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) And: "What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God ..." (2 Corinthians 6: 15-16).
According to the New Testament, the true Christians are the temple of God. the Church of Christ has inherited the position of Israel and replaced the Old Testament temple ( which was destroyed almost 2000 years ago as a divine sign of the transfer of all things from the Old Testament Judaism to the Church of Christ).
In fact, the phrase 'temple of God' is used by St. Paul four times besides in Thess. 2:4 . In every case it refers to the Church.
The identification of the Church as the temple of God is found repeatedly in the New Testament, including in the Book of Ephesians and 1 Peter. The temple of God in 2 Thess. 2:4 is not a rebuilt temple of Jerusalem.
Moreover, the temple of God is definitely not a temple built by the man of sin or antichrist, for then it would be his own temple.
In that case it would be a .... ........, a temple of the devil, and not a . .... ...., the temple of God.
In fact, in 2 Thess. 2:4, the definite article ( i.e., the word meaning 'the' ) is found both before the word temple and the word God, so a very literal translation of the Greek phrase would be that the man of sin seats himself in "The Temple of The God."
Thus, the temple referred to in the prophecy, which is the temple of God, is not a temple built by the man of sin or the antichrist.
No, the temple of God pertains to the Church of Jesus Christ. Since the prophecy of 2 Thess. 2:4 says that the man of sin will sit in the temple of God, and it is, of course impossible for a person to physically sit in the spiritual entity of the Church, the prophecy indicates that the man of sin will sit in the primary physical structure of the Church of Jesus Christ.
He will sit in a building that has been known as, and could be rightly considered to be, the universal temple of Christianity.
Prophecies like this about the temple of God, could of course, find no fulfillment in a world which imagines Protestantism to be Christianity, since non-Catholics who claim to be Christian have no universally recognized temple of God.
For them, nothing stands out as a universally acknowledged Christian temple of God in which the man of sin could sit. That's why so many of them, in desperation have opted for the patently false rebuilt temple of Jerusalem idea.
Even many non-Catholics who reject the notion that Jews are the people of God in the New Testament have adopted the position that a rebuilt Jewish temple will be the temple of prophecy, for they realize that the prophecy refers to the man of sin sitting in a physical structure, that is identified as the temple of God, and there is nothing that could possibly be considered the universal temple of God in non-Catholic 'Christianity.'
Their erroneous view on what the temple of God means leads to absurd theories about the reconstruction of the Jewish temple and the resumption of defunct Jewish Rites, which they believe must happen for end-times prophecies to be fulfilled.
What the prophecy about the man of sin sitting in the temple of God should tell them, however, is that Protestantism is not true Christianity, for in true Christianity there has been a universally recognized temple. The universally recognized temple in true Christianity is the Vatican in Rome, and more specifically, it is St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
St. Peter's Basilica is the Temple of God as we will see. This temple was built on the very spot where St. Peter, the first pope, was buried. The construction of this temple on St. Peter himself, thus served as a fitting symbol for the Church, for Jesus Christ founded the universal Church upon St. Peter.
He identified St. Peter as the rock. He gave him the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, and He entrusted him with His flock.
So, just as Jesus Christ built His universal Church upon St. Peter, it was fitting that the most prominent physical structure and temple in that Church, St. Peter's Basilica would also be built on St. Peter himself - that is directly over his grave.
In fact, think of it this way. Scripture teaches that the Church of God equates the temple of God. Well, Scripture also teaches that the Church of God was built upon St. Peter, it follows, therefore, that the temple of God would also be built upon St. Peter, and that's exactly what happened with St. Peter's Basilica.
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
Now that Elizabeth is the ruler of England, she will have to find time in between her many governmental duties for a few of the functions of her other hereditary office, that of being the visible head of the Anglican Church. Here in New England, our only experience with lady heads-of-churches has been in the person of Mrs. Eddy, risible head of the Christian Science Church. In their respectively old and New Englands, however, neither Queen Elizabeth nor Mrs. Eddy has much chance of survival in anyone’s religious love. Elizabeth will probably one day be only an item in a history book. A newspaper has already supplanted Mrs. Eddy.
The University of Chicago Press has recently published a book by Joseph H. Fichter, sociologist, S. J. We gather that it is a book in which Fr. Fichter applies to a Catholic parish the kind of questionnaire he learned about in a Harvard classroom. Father Fichter reports that the Catholic masses are not too well-informed on Catholic matters. His findings are not, however, to be confused with Blanshard’s babblings on the same theme. Mr. Blanshard is a loyal Protestant protecting Americans against the menace of the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Fichter is merely a loyal Harvard-man using Catholics as guinea pigs for a sociological survey.
One of the faces that lately appeared on the front page of the New York Times Book Review Section was that of Mr. Graham Greene of England. Beneath the photograph, the New York Times explained that it was indebted to Life magazine for this likeness of the English author. In the text which surrounded the picture, it was made clear that Mr. Greene is the kind of “Catholic” writer who can win the favor of both Life magazine and the Times. Combining an Oxford manner with a brothel interest, his books are sufficiently literary for the Times, and lustful enough for Life.
We have lately come across a book giving an account of the “apostolate” of Father Vincent McNabb, O. P., who was one of the speakers in a series of outdoor talks sponsored by England’s Catholic Evidence Guild. Father McNabb was in a position to do for London’s Hyde Park what Father Leonard Feeney is doing for Boston’s Common. How miserably the Dominican failed, with his namby-pamby presentation of the truths of the Faith, may be seen from the following dialogue, reproduced from the book:
Heckler: “You say that a man must follow his conscience?”
Fr. McNabb: “I do.”
Heckler: “Then if my conscience tells me that the Catholic Church is wrong, I am right in keeping out of it?”
Fr. McNabb: “That’s right, you are.”
Heckler: “Then if I am right in keeping out of it, you must be wrong in keeping in it. So you’d better come out of it.”
During the month of February, the Harvard chapter of the Ku Klux Klan burned a large cross in Harvard Yard. When news of the episode finally leaked out to Boston newspapers, eleven days after it happened. Harvard’s way of dismissing the whole affair was to laugh it off as the kind of good-natured Harvard prank that everyone ought to expect and no one ought to be shocked at. At the same time as the cross-burning, Harvard’s president, J. B. Conant, announced plans to spend seven million dollars on the Harvard Divinity School, the purpose being to instruct the rest of the world in the kind of religion Harvard men practice.
THE THREAT OF A NATIONAL CHURCH
In a recent speech in Worcester, Mass., Bishop John Wesley Lord of the Methodist Church predicted that soon Catholics in this country would disavow all loyalty to the Pope in Rome and form an American Catholic Church. Most Catholics reading this statement were probably amused at what they considered Lord’s ignorance of the Faith. “As though we could ever give up the Pope!” they probably exclaimed. “He just doesn’t realize what he’s suggesting.”
The fact of the matter is, however, Lord is not at all ignorant of the Faith, and he did realize exactly what he was suggesting. He knows that Catholics in this country could never be persuaded to give up all vestiges of their Faith and go over wholesale to one of the Protestant sects, but he knows that, given the proper provocation and encouragement, they might well form themselves into a national church — a church which, though still calling itself Catholic and preserving all the prayers and devotions and other externals, would no longer require submission to the Pope as its Head.
There is, furthermore, in Lord’s statement a thinly-veiled threat: “We give you an ultimatum. You must be either American Catholics or Roman Catholics. If you decide to become American Catholics, we’ll give you a big pat on the back and congratulate you on your loyalty. But if you decide to go on being Roman Catholics — with allegiance to that foreign power, the Pope — then we’ll really start to bear down in our accusations of you as a subversive, disloyal group.”
There used to be a time when hatred of the Church expressed itself in such things as Maria Monk fables and in denunciations of Catholic devotional practices. But now anti-Catholicism in this country — which is becoming every day more widespread, open, and intense — has a new line. It is that there is something about the Church that is fundamentally undemocratic — that it is impossible to be both a good Catholic and a good American. This is the line that Blanshard uses, and his success is proof enough of its effectiveness and popularity.
And how are these attacks answered by Catholics? They are answered — at least by the official Catholic spokesmen, the newspapers and magazines and speech-makers — not by insisting on the truth and the necessity of the Faith, which would be the only effective answer, but rather by trying to prove that Catholics really are good Americans. Instead of defending the Faith, they defend their patriotism. They accept the charge that the Church is un-American as an honest objection, instead of treating it as simply another manifestation of anti-Catholic bigotry. The louder the bigots protest against the Faith, the more antics these official Catholic spokesmen go through to prove what Yankee Doodle Americans they are.
This reaction is just what Bp. Lord and his fellow Protestants want. They are delighted at the way Catholics become much more upset by slurs against their patriotism than by slurs against their Faith. They think this clearly shows that if Catholics in this country are ever asked to decide between being good Catholics and good Americans, they will choose to be good Americans. And this is the decision that Lord and the Protestants hope to bring about. Their intention is to keep rubbing it in that as long as Catholics take their orders from Rome, their loyalty as Americans is suspect. By doing this, they think they can make it so uncomfortable for the Catholics that it will be comparatively easy to maneuver them into forming an American Catholic Church — a church in which they could be good Americans, according to Protestant standards of Americanism, and at the same time still pretend to be Catholics (they could have everything but the Pope). These Protestants rejoice in the many signs already present that point to the formation of just such a national church: the growing independence of Catholic American bishops, as shown by such things as their defiance of the Pope in his ban on Rotary Clubs; the general watering down of Catholic doctrine so as so make it “inoffensive”; the preaching, by Catholics, that it does not matter what church a person belongs to as long as he is sincere.
In the midst of all this Protestant encouragement of Catholic weakness, there has been heard one clear voice, that of Father Leonard Feeney, professing the Faith in its purity: “There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, nor without personal submission to our Holy Father the Pope.”
This challenge of the Church’s absolute necessity makes charges of un-Americanism look pretty ineffectual (is it un-American to have certitude in the matter of salvation?); and the possibility of forming a national church becomes absurd. When other priests and bishops have the courage to follow Fr. Feeney’s lead in proclaiming the Faith purely and strongly, then, and only then, will the idea of a national church cease to exist, both for Protestants as a hope and for Catholics as a refuge.
BY FATHER FEENEY
The British Empire is a collection of disunited lands and nations, dominated by taking swift advantage of every dissension. The overt act by which Henry VIII indicated to the world the pattern of England’s apostasy, was a divorce of his throne from the Chair of Peter, with a divorce of himself from his lawful Queen. With both its spiritual and its secular interests the fruit of unwedded allegiances, it is no wonder there is no unity in what London does. It has lost all sense of the unity of a bridegroom and a bride.
Yet something still stays in England, which I do not know what to call. By way of showing how full of promise and emptiness it is, I call it “London Spring.” It is spring without summer; promise without fulfillment: style without substance; manners without meaning.
Every English sailor salutes the quartermaster’s deck when he passes it, aboard ship. On it there used to be a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No sailor would pass it without acknowledging it. The Mary images have been removed from English ships. But the empty salutes still go on.
I once heard John Galsworthy lecture in the refectory of one of Oxford’s colleges. He entered, dressed in clerical robe and hat, and stood at one end of the refectory, in the manner of a visiting abbot. He saluted an empty niche in the wall. This again was a place where a statue of the Blessed Virgin used to be kept, and is kept no longer.
The Oxford and Cambridge colors are blue. Oxford has dark blue. Cambridge has light blue. This is in honor of the colors in Mary’s mantle. God’s Mother has departed. Nothing remains, but the color of her dress.
And so, on and on we could go, through all the English emptiness, through all the haunted places. A sweet odor still lingers everywhere, but a death and a departure have most surely occurred.
(from London Is a Place, The Ravengate Press, Boston)
THE CHRISTOPHERS — Change the world to what?
Perhaps you are one of the “nearly 500,000 individuals” who receive the Christopher News Notes every month. This incredible single sheet of paper is the official contact between Father James Keller of Maryknoll, a Roman Catholic “missionary” priest, and his many followers (nearly 500,000, as his News Notes states.)
We have often wondered what kind of shape “religion” would have to assume in order to comply with the American idea that “one religion is as good as another.” With his Christopher movement, Fr. Keller seems to have hit on the ideal solution. Here at last is the leveling of all creeds to a common-denominator “religion.” No matter what you believe about God or man, YOU can be a Christopher. Fr. Keller goes to great etymological pains to let you know that being a Christopher means being a “Christ-bearer.” You take your idea of what Christ means and bear it about, thereby effecting something which Fr. Keller hopes will be comparable to lighting a match in a dark room. As a matter of fact, Fr. Keller is given just such incendiary encouragement in a current “News Note” from Stratford, Connecticut. It runs: “Please keep up your good work and inspire more to ‘light a match.’ ” This may pass as good “Christ-bearing” with Fr. Keller, but it strikes us as little more than good business for the match companies.
Although the Christopher movement is headed and guided by a Catholic priest, the work of a Christopher is to counteract those who “hate the basic truth upon which this nation is founded.” It is, therefore, purely a patriotic movement, and not a Catholic one. As head of the Christophers, Fr. Keller joins that vast parade of priests and prelates who are so persistently waving a flag — to let people know that being a Roman Catholic does not mean being a disloyal American.
In his monthly communication, Fr. Keller states that the “basic truth” upon which this nation (and the Christophers) is founded is: “every human being is a child of God, deriving his rights from God, not the State.” Every Catholic who learned his penny catechism knows that this statement is in direct opposition to Catholic teaching. Fr. Keller must know it too! Fr. Keller must remember learning that people are not born into the world as children of God. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons why Fr. Keller is a priest is because people have to be made children of God at Baptism. And after Baptism there begins the struggle to keep one’s childhood with God by remaining in the state of Sanctifying Grace. Fr. Keller wears a Roman collar precisely because God has equipped him to dispense the Sacraments and thereby to keep baptized people the Children of God.
Americans are thus presented with the paradox of a Catholic priest whose message to them is to defend the “basic truth” that they are already children of God. Their need for Fr. Keller is not in his Sacrament of Holy Orders but in his unlimited ability to “change the world” by lighting matches. The initial success of Fr. Keller’s panacea books and his Farmers’ Almanac theology indicates that he is just what America wants by way of a Catholic priest. He will probably continue, successfully, until some new Keller — perhaps a rabbi this time — introduces a more advanced development of the “inter-faith” scheme of things. We suggest a rabbi because from where we stand, it sounds as though Fr. Keller will have some difficulty in accustoming his Jewish friends to “bear Christ” in other than profanity.
“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” This is the ultimate in Christopher dogma, as deemed by Fr. Keller and consented to by all faithful Christophers. To encourage this liturgical version of “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” Fr. Keller supplies 500,000 monthly reports on the progress of candle-lighters throughout the nation. We do not object to a Catholic priest’s having such quantitative influence; we grieve that a Catholic priest should be in such a position and not be using it for God’s glory and the fulfillment of his priestly obligations.
Fr. Keller will one day have to face Our Lord in Judgment and account for that Light which was hidden in all of his Christopherisms ... the Lumen de Lumine, the Light of Light, which Fr. Keller called GOD at Communion time every morning and then forgot for the rest of the day.
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
The past few weeks were great ones for the Interfaithers. From everywhere came reports of Catholic willingness to compromise the Faith for the sake of some common interest with heretics and Jews.
In the mid-west, the National Catholic Rural Life Conference decided that Interfaith was being neglected down on the farm. The decision resulted in a union of the NCRLC with the non-Catholic Rural Life Association. From now on, the two groups will have one name (The National Committee on Religion and Rural Life) and one head — this year a Protestant, next year a Catholic.
This inter-creedal agriculturalism should produce some interesting religious hybrids. In such an arrangement, the opportunities for a new Luther Burbank are exceeded only by those for a new Martin (Luther).
In The Catholic World last month the Paulists gave Interfaith a boost by printing an article which described an unbaptized Jewish girl’s “true mystic union with the God she so genuinely loved.” With all sympathy and respect, The Catholic World explained how Simone Weil, a Jewish mystic, could fulfill God’s Holy Will by spurning baptism and stoutly refusing to join the Church. The article does not explain just how Simone Weil got into Heaven without baptism, but the clear impression is that she did.
When speaking infallibly, the Catholic Church tells Catholic mothers that their children who die without baptism can never go to Heaven.
When speaking interfaithfully, The Catholic World tells Jewish mothers that their unbaptized children can.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bishop Francis J. Haas was chosen to receive the B’nai B’rith Interfaith award. While thanking the Jewish assembly for liking him regardless of his creed, Bishop Haas got off some choice Interfaithery.
Speaking on the great dangers facing our United States culture, the Bishop, like a true orator, touched upon those concerns which were nearest the Hebrew hearts of his listeners — “the high cost of living, prices, wages, rents ... the entire economy.” Then, as any gentile must, when addressing a Jewish audience, Bishop Haas launched into an attack against “discrimination.”
His Excellency had the usual condemnations for those who “look down upon others.” Notably missing from Bishop Haas’ talk was any reference to the Divine Person Who, two thousand years ago, looked down upon B’nai B’rith’s ancestors, a howling Jerusalem mob who accepted the consequences of murdering God when they shouted, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
In Boston, Interfaith went collegiate when the Jesuit priest who heads Boston College paid a visit to Temple Israel Meeting House and stayed long enough to give the baccalaureate address for a Protestant girls’ school.
In contrast, at the Eucharistic Congress in Barcelona, Generalissimo Franco reaffirmed the policy that has made him an ogre to American Protestants and an embarrassment to American Catholics: “We are not a bellicose people, but if the hour of need should come, Spain, without any doubt, would once again be in the vanguard of those in the service of God. With the humility fitting in a good Christian, I proclaim the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Faith of the Spanish nation and its love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and for Pope Pius XII. By loving God, Spaniards love peace, and they unite their prayers for peace to those of the Holy Father and of Catholics everywhere at this time. The history of our nation is inseparably linked with the history of the Catholic Church. Its glories are our glories, its enemies are our enemies.”
THOUGHTS TO ADD TO A HARVARD COMMENCEMENT
On June 19, Harvard College held its annual commencement exercises. On that day, the graduating class of 1952, having been presented with diplomas in testimony of four years of faithful discipleship, was spewed out into the world, to put into practice the lessons it had learned at Harvard.
A large part of this class of ’52, like all Harvard classes, will end up as alcoholics, drug-addicts, and suicides; but another large part, to some extent overlapping the first, will end up in the most influential positions in the country: as the officials and policy-makers in our government, as the writers of our books, and the editors of our newspapers, as the teachers of our children. All of these Harvard graduates, whoever and wherever they may be, can be relied upon to have this in common: they will all think, feel and act according to the prescribed Harvard pattern, which they will attempt to impose upon the rest of the world.
Harvard makes a great commotion about how it encourages freedom of opinions; and while it is true that Harvard allows its students the kind of freedom in choosing their intellectual diet that a farmer allows his hogs, still, no matter what variety of swill a student may feed his mind on during his four years, he comes out unmistakably branded with the same mark as every other Harvard student.
The reason for this is that Harvard is fundamentally mediocre. The only thing that distinguishes it from the rest of mediocrity is the influence it commands by reason of its wealth, power, and prestige. It is mediocrity organized and made effective. But it is mediocrity nonetheless. That is Harvard’s milieu, its climate, and it cannot get away from it. For the doctrines that Harvard has committed itself to teach are the doctrines that mediocrity has made and that it thrives on.
Whatever might lift a man out of the class of the mediocre Harvard teaches its students to avoid, by making it appear ridiculous or unimportant. It teaches them to be suspicious of greatness, fearful of courage, scornful of holiness. It teaches its students to revel in their second-rateness; it teaches them to be smug, complacent, and self-satisfied. It pretends to foster individuality, but the individuality of Harvard is the same in every individual. If a boy were ever to realize himself as a person, unique and to endure forever, he might revolt against this mediocrity, and so Harvard teaches him his insignificance. It tells him he is in existence by sheerest chance, helplessly determined by his environment, a descendant of apes, one of billions who have lived over billions of years on an unimportant planet of an unimportant universe, a structure of atoms accidentally gotten together, likely to be destroyed at any moment by the explosion of other atoms, and then to be gone forever.
Harvard is just as cheap and vulgar as any daily tabloid. It has a more refined vocabulary, but its interests are exactly the same. What the newspaper presents as a sensational bit of scandal, Harvard presents as a case history in psychology. As for Harvard’s pretenses to culture, they are as fraudulent as Hollywood’s. Harvard will teach its students to laugh at American millionaires who import castles from Italy in which to have their cocktail parties, or who hang Renaissance paintings on their walls to give their homes an air of refinement. But Harvard itself will import anything it has read about in history, in an effort to give the place a tone, and is blissfully unaware, as only an American bourgeois can be, of the grotesque contrasts that result. For instance, Soldier’s Field, where the Harvard band forms itself into big H’s while blaring “Wintergreen for President” and where the Harvard football team gets trounced by Yale, is modeled on the Roman Colosseum, where Christians once were martyred for their Faith.
The courses at Harvard, which the students refer to familiarly as ec, gov, phil, lit, etc., present either a hopelessly superficial survey of some subject, or else encourage the student to blind, intense specialization. “Sorry, that’s not my field,” is a frequently heard Harvard expression, offered as excuse for anything from not knowing the chemical structure of coal to not knowing that God has become man. The Harvard faculty includes such men as Pitirim Sorokin, a mad Russian who periodically, and in scarcely understandable English, assails the rest of the faculty and the world in general for their failure to adopt his sociological theories. Ernest Hooton is another Harvard teacher who receives great kudos. He is a somewhat simian anthropologist who, to amuse his friends, named his son Newton. Hooton’s task is to convince his students that all men originally descended from creatures like himself.
Probably the most representative of all Harvard teachers is the late F. O. Matthiessen, who was professor of History and Literature. He exemplified perfectly the kind of man Harvard likes to boast of and to hold up to its students for their admiration and imitation: he was literate, liberal, agnostic, and successful. But one night he took a room in a Boston hotel, wrote a note telling of his pique at the state of the world, and then stepped from his twelfth floor window.
Harvard had considered Matthiessen’s brains one of its most valuable assets, and it was upset to find them splashed vulgarly across a Boston pavement. To cover up for this disgrace, Harvard organized an association that would give perpetual honor to Matthiessen’s name and his ideas. The ultimate comment, however, the summing-up of both Matthiessen and Harvard, was provided by John Ciardi, an Italian apostate in the Harvard English department. Asked for a statement by the Boston newspapers the morning after Matthiessen’s suicide leap, Ciardi, striking a literary pose, remarked, “At times like these, one finds oneself on the edge of things.”
BY FATHER FEENEY
There is a Holy House of Bread
Where friends may feast and foes are fed,
And none is starved, none surfeited;
Where souls can relish the ideal
And bodies revel in the real
Where mind and mouth can make a meal;
Where simpletons who suck their thumbs
Can share the carvings and the crumbs
With Constantines and Chrysostoms.
Within this Fortress I was brought,
A little thing without a thought,
And given all for giving nought.
I was anointed with a Sign,
And someone’s promise, made for mine,
Attached my branch unto a Vine
Of Immortality and Love,
With Intimations from above
That Wordsworth was not thinking of.
Arriving at the age of two,
I found the faith I held as true
Enhanced my infant point of view.
I could believe a rubber ball,
Although somewhat phenomenal,
Would really bounce against a wall;
A jumping-jack when squeezed would squeak,
As though unwilling, so to speak,
To wait for reason’s pure critique.
When toys were trunked and school begun,
I was, among a many, one
Entrusted to a wimpled nun:
A virgin vestaled with three vows
Who had the Holy Ghost for spouse,
And tried devoutly to arouse
An aptitude for long divisions
Involving cerebral collisions
With theological precisions.
This gentle girl in cape and coif
With softest silver in her laugh,
Prepared me for my epitaph:
“Here lies a Lad whose sins were sins,
Not streptococcic orange skins;
Nor were his virtues vitamins.
He learned the rules and knew the game;
If Hell or Heaven hold the same —
Himself, not spinach, was to blame.”
(from Songs for Listeners, Macmillan)
Good Night, Sweet Princeton!
Maritainism is a system of thought which allows Catholics to be both Catholic and acceptable in the drawing rooms of Protestant and Jewish philosophers. Maritainism is not a seeking and a finding of the Word made flesh. It is a perpetual seeking for un-fleshed truth in an abstract scheme called Christianity. Maritainism is the scrapping of the Incarnation in favor of a God Whose overtures to us never get more personal or loving than the five rational proofs for His existence. This plot to encourage only pre-Bethlehem interest in God takes its name from its perpetrator, that highly respected religious opportunist, Jacques Maritain.
The slightest acquaintance with Maritain’s history is sufficient to indicate how awry he must be in his Catholicism. He is a former Huguenot who married a Jewish girl named Raïssa. During their student days in Paris, both Jacques and Raïssa felt a double pull in the general direction of belief. Intellectually they were attracted to the religious self-sufficiency of a Jewish intuitionist named Henri Bergson. Sociologically they were attracted to the spurious Catholicism of Leon Bloy, a French exhibitionist who made a liturgy of his own crudeness and uncleaness and tried to attach it to the liturgy of the Church. At some point in their association with an unbaptized Bergson and an unwashed Bloy, the Maritains figured out that there was a promising future ahead of them in Catholicism.
Jacques Maritain is noted for his solemn-high, holier-than-thou appearance. For this reason, more than one priest reports that by the time a Maintain lecture is over, any priest who is present has been made to feel that the Roman collar is around the wrong neck and that perhaps he, the priest, ought to put on a necktie and kneel for Maritain’s blessing.
One explanation of Maritain’s distant expression is that he fancies himself to be the Drew Pearson of the Christian social order. Judging by Maritain’s passion for the abstract, the fulfillment of all his prophecies will come in an era when mothers can sing such songs as “Rock-a-bye Baby, on the Dendrological Zenith,” and children recite such bedtime prayers as “The Hail Mariology.”
Jacques Maritain prefers Thomism to Saint Thomas Aquinas and, similarly, he much prefers the notion of the papacy to the person of the Pope. He could not, however, turn down the prestige of an appointment as French ambassador to the Vatican. Maritain went to Rome, but he protected himself against over exposure to Italian faith by visits to Dr. George Santayana. In Maritain, Santayana recognized a brother, the kind of European intellectual cast-off that is annually being grabbed-up by American Universities.
That Jacques Maritain should now be found preaching at Princeton University is not so strange. It did not require too much insight on Princeton’s part to see that a Catholic who hates Franco, speaks at Jewish seminaries, and favors “theocentricity” in place of Jesus, would be a bizarre, but harmless, addition to anybody’s faculty club.
Perhaps Princeton realized also that a Catholic’s admirers are a good measure of his militancy. Among Maritain’s more prominent sympathizers are John Wild, Charles Malik and Mortimer Adler, who are, respectively, an Anglican, a Greek schismatic, and a Jew. Naturally Maritain could not insult intellectuals like these by telling them that although they are outside the Church they can get into Heaven because of their “invincible ignorance.” It was necessary that Maritain concoct a new way of getting around the dogma, “No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church.”
After a lot of abstract deliberation, Maritain decided that a man could be “invisibly, and by a motion of his heart, a member of the Church, and partake of her life, which is eternal life.” According to Maritain’s new covenant, the important salvation-actions in our world are no longer a head bowed to the waters of Baptism, a hand raised in Absolution, a tongue outstretched to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “A motion of his heart,” says Maritain, is all that is required before a man may partake of eternal life.
The Sacred Heart might have saved Himself a lot of inconvenience had He only known this, one Friday afternoon on Calvary.
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
Periodically the question and answer columns of the Catholic press turn up with some fine tightrope walking. During the month of July, The Pilot, Boston’s archdiocesan newspaper, printed a question from one of its readers asking if church-going Protestants and Jews are better than the non-church-going kind. In answer, The Pilot said that if the statement means “that a false religion, though less desirable than the true religion, is nevertheless acceptable in itself, and people who are unwilling to become Catholics should nevertheless be urged to attend some church, it cannot be accepted ... If only one religion is true, it follows that all others are false; and if they are false, they cannot be recommended even as substitutes for the true religion.”
Lest anyone think, however, that The Pilot has gone overboard for orthodoxy, it quickly corrects the impression by assuring its readers that Protestants and Jews, “whose religious life is sincere and practical must inevitably be closer to God and more helpful to their fellow man than those who do not belong to any church ... We can and must recognize the objective goodness of non-Catholics who are faithful to their religious convictions.”
The Pilot knows that the unforgivable sin in the American Catholic Church is not to gainsay a doctrine of the Faith. It is to discourage America’s heretics and infidels from practicing their heresy and infidelity.
“The future of America and of the world hinges upon the ability of men and women to rise above differences of race, creed, and class and live together in peace, friendship and brotherhood. This is the supreme problem facing mankind today. In comparison with it, all others fade into insignificance.”
The above statement was not made by a vote-seeking politician, or an agnostic sociology professor, or the chairlady of a suburban bridge club. It is the considered and published sentiment of the Reverend John A. O’ Brien of the University of Notre Dame, and it may be found in his recent pamphlet, “The American Dream.”
Father O’ Brien feels that “brotherhood” with Protestants and Jews is a Catholic’s most imperative mission on this earth. Father O’ Brien wants Catholics, who are by Sacrament the children of God the Father and Our Blessed Mother, to greet as “brothers” Jews who despise the Our Father and Protestants who snub the Hail Mary. As a solution to the supreme problem facing mankind, Father O’ Brien proposes a “brotherhood” apart from any father and mother, a coast-to-coast sheep-fold apart from any shepherd.
Distributed by the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Father O’ Brien’s “American Dream” will provide quite an awakening for some of his brother priests. The program advocated by Father O’ Brien calls for Americans to “rise above” differences of creed, and what minister of what sect has more creedal differences for people to rise above than a Catholic priest, with his confessional box, his Blessed Sacrament and his un-American loyalty to the Bishop of Rome?
In conjunction with our article on Bishop Sheen, we print the following extract from St. John Chrysostom: “I do not speak rashly, but as I feel and think. I do not think that many bishops are saved, but that those who perish are far more numerous. The reason is that the office requires a great soul ... Do you not perceive how many qualities a bishop must have that he may be strong in his teaching, patient, and hold fast to the faithful word which is according to doctrine? What care and pains does this require! Moreover, he is answerable for the sins of others. To pass over everything else: If but one soul dies without baptism, does it not entirely endanger his own salvation? For the loss of one soul is so great an evil that it is impossible to express it in words. For if the salvation of that soul was of such value that the Son of God became man and suffered so much, think of how great a punishment must the losing of it bring.”
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE
When Our Lord gave His last instructions to His Apostles, He commissioned them to go forth into every nation, preaching the Gospel and baptizing those who believed. He did not ask of them that they be successful, as the world measures success. But if He had, the man who would be best fulfilling Our Lord’s commission would be Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.
Bishop Sheen has done what no other priest has been able to do, though some notable ones have tried: he has made himself a hit with Americans. And what is more, he has done this, not on the Church’s terms, as a preacher of the Catholic Faith; he has done it on America’s terms, as an entertainer on television, in free competition with other television entertainers.
While it is true that the Bishop’s amazing popularity is largely due to the applause of Catholics, still, the ease with which he has become familiar as Uncle Fultie and the Face on the Barroom Screen shows that he has made a hit with Protestants and Jews as well. Indeed, so general has the Bishop’s popularity been, and so overwhelming, that he can well serve as a model for other priests who might want to become successful. As a service for such readers, as well as for those who are merely curious to know what Bishop Sheen has done and how he has done it, The Point has taken advantage of the lull provided by his summer vacation to make a careful analysis of his technique; and herewith it makes its report.
The first thing that strikes you about Bishop Sheen’s message is that he never allows himself to be tied down by any narrow sectarianism. He is never too specifically Catholic. He is not so much a proponent of the one, true Faith as a proponent of Religion. Here is the way he has summarized the world’s spiritual ills, as they have grown worse through the centuries: “In the sixteenth century,” he says, “we denied belief in the Church; in the seventeenth, the inspiration of Sacred Scripture; in the eighteenth, the Divinity of Christ; in the nineteenth, the existence of God; and in the twentieth, the necessity of Religion.”
Being not merely an apt student of history, but a very perceptive philosopher as well, Bishop Sheen has been quick to sense that in trying to restore these values priority must be given to those most recently lost. The modern world must be convinced first of the necessity of Religion, and after that of the existence of God, etc. The farthest the Bishop generally gets in this journey toward Faith and the Middle Ages, is the nineteenth century. Once he has succeeded in exposing the position of the atheist as being theoretically absurd and practically impossible, Bishop Sheen is inclined to let up. As long as a man gives evidence of being somehow for God, the Bishop will not press him to tell how he feels about Christ.
Protestants and Jews enjoy listening to Bishop Sheen because they can always relax when doing so. They know they will never hear anything from him to upset them — no insinuations that his religion is any better than theirs, no remarks calculated to make them feel that they ought to become Catholics. Rather, he gives them a new appreciation of their own faith and fires them with a determination to be better Protestants and better Jews than ever. He even tells them how to do this. For instance, in a pamphlet he wrote, entitled “What Can I Do?”, Bishop Sheen tells everyone how to practice better his own faith and thus unite all Americans in “a common love of God.” He tells Protestants to practice fidelity to the marriage bond and give their children instruction in their Protestant religion. He urges Jews to do their bit by keeping the Ten Commandments. And he asks Catholics to show that they do not belong to this world by giving good example.
The effect of such appeals is to make Protestants and Jews feel delighted to find that a Catholic bishop approves of their Protestantism and Judaism and wants to strengthen them in it, while at the same time it lets Catholics know, by a certain added intimacy that only they will notice, that they are really his special favorites.
Despite the publicity he has received as a convert-maker, Bishop Sheen would never suggest on radio or television that his non-Catholic listeners ought to come into the Church. The Bishop has had long experience speaking on the air, and he knows that such suggestions are not allowed. That is why he prefers to make his appeal more for a return to generic religion than for a return to the Catholic Faith. On those occasions when he is forced to become organizationally specific and refer to the Church, he is very careful to present it in such a way that no one could possibly consider his remarks offensive to other religions. The mission of the Church, as presented by Bishop Sheen, is not so much to save souls — he seldom mentions eternal salvation at all — as to eliminate the need for a psychoanalyst and to provide a consistent philosophy of life. He is not so much concerned with those aspects of truth that belong to the Faith alone as with those that have a larger heritage. It is the morals, the ethics, and the logic of the Faith that he prefers to emphasize — those things that came to Christianity from the pagan Greeks rather than those things that came to it from Christ.
In an article in Cosmopolitan magazine, Bob Considine tells how he asked Bishop Sheen if he ever eliminated certain Catholic dogmas that might scare off Protestant and Jewish viewers of his television program. The Bishop’s answer illustrates perfectly the attitude he takes in presenting the Faith: “There is nothing in my television sermons,” he replied, “that one cannot find in Aristotle.” This pre-Christian outlook on Christianity accounts for the fact that, although Bishop Sheen holds the title of U. S. director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, there is only one thing that ever gets propagated to the U. S. Protestants and Jews who watch the Bishop on television, and that is his own personality.
BY FATHER FEENEY
There happens to be in this world of strange social conventions, one friendship that transcends all conventions and knows no rules. It is the brotherhood of Catholic priests. There is not, I swear it, under the stars, an intimacy more reckless or more profound than the bond between one Catholic levite and another. It needs no coaxing, no prelude, no ritual. It is subject to no formality. We meet and possess one another instantly. There is not the shadow of a barrier between us, neither age, nor antecedents, nor nationality, nor climate, nor color of skin. Ours is a blunt, rough-hewn affection. It almost forgets to be polite. I can dine at his table without invitation, sit in his study, and read his books before I have ever met him; borrow his money or his clothes without bail; his home is my home; his fireside, my fireside; his altar, my altar. I can give him my confidences promptly and without reserve. I can neither edify nor scandalize him. We can quarrel without offence, praise each other without flattery, or sit silently and say nothing, and be mutually circumvented.
How and why all this can happen is our own precious secret. It is the secret of men who climb a lonely drawbridge, mount a narrow stair, and sleep in a lofty citadel that floats a white flag. Singly we go, independent and unpossessed, establishing no generation, each a conclusion of his race and name; yet always companioning one another with a strange sympathy, too tender to be called love, but which God will find a name for when He searches our hearts in Eternity.
(from Fish on Friday)
Saints for the New York Times
Americans are spectators, supervisors, reviewers, observers, analysts, critics, and, at best, fans. America is a country where one well-hit baseball can standardize the dinner conversation of fifty million people. It is a country that works hard all day and spends its evenings in front of a television screen, hoping that a few highly-paid faces will keep America laughing a lot, crying a little, but, in any event, distracted.
Americans love to be an audience, and therefore they turn up with a good performer only about once every decade. This spectatorial disposition has a parallel application among Americans who are Catholics: they abound in hagiographers, but have only once been able to claim an American canonized saint.
America’s biographers of the saints are not writing for a country that is falling away from God, nostalgic with a tradition of sanctity and the Faith, preserving in its places the remembrance of holy people, keeping in its customs a love for the saints. America began as a departure from God, from sixteen centuries of Christianity. America was a haven for those who wanted to escape the tradition of a Catholic Europe, who wanted the right to choose their own kind of worship of their own kind of God, for they had become discontented with the God of Saint Augustine of Hippo, and Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Teresa of Avila. American writers of the lives of the saints must therefore use their spectator-manner to preside over the canonized and prayed-to non-Americans who are the subjects of their books.
The problem of tempering Catholic hagiography to Protestant America has had few solutions as successful as that most obvious one: get some Protestants, or former Protestants, to write the lives of the saints. Typical of the Protestants who have found employment as Catholic hagiographers are a lady and two gentlemen, whose names are Frances Keyes, Theodore Maynard, and Daniel Sargent. All of this trio have made the required abjurations of the heresies which they inherited from parents who were, respectively, Calvinists, Salvation Army officers, and Boston Unitarians.
For many years an avid party-giver, political hostess and salon-keeper, Frances Keyes one day determined to give up gloomy Calvinism in exchange for gay Catholicism. Two years before she came into the Church, Mrs. Keyes published her life of the Little Flower, modestly entitled Written in Heaven. Probably her best known “Catholic” book, Written in Heaven is an evaluation of Saint Theresa of Lisieux, from which the Saint emerges as one of those fascinating people whom Mrs. Keyes would be only too delighted to have at one of her less bibulous soirees.
Theodore Maynard was an alert child, and quick to see that the Salvation Army is hardly a fashionable sort of heresy. Thus, he abandoned the faith of his drumbeating parents and started preaching in Unitarian pulpits. Maynard came into the Catholic Church from a very liberal variety of Unitarianism, but his fellow-hagiographer, Daniel Sargent, is a convert from that rigid Unitarianism which insists on Boston birth, Harvard breeding, and a religious respect for usury.
By the very titles of their books, Maynard and Mr. Sargent have tried to convince their former co-religionists that interest in the saints need not be just a lot of relic-kissing. Both gentlemen have produced a life of the English martyr, Saint Thomas More. Maynard stripped the holy man of his holy title and gave him an air of academic respectability by calling his book, Humanist as Hero: The Life of Sir Thomas More. Mr. Sargent, with characteristic frugality, left the saint quite naked of any title, not even Blessed, and published Thomas More.
Mrs. Keyes, Maynard and Mr. Sargent are Americans observing, and therefore do not represent Americans at their best. For Americans at their best are fans, and the word fan is derived from fanatic, and a fanatic, when his fanaticism is for the Faith, will always become a saint, and often a martyr, and maybe someday Jesus and Mary will have some fans among Americans, and these Americans will become Saints, and, just like European Saints, their motives will be doubted, their hearts will be broken, and, when they die, their biographies will be written by Mrs. Keyes, Maynard and Mr. Sargent.
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
Some months ago, Father Francis J. Connell, C. Ss. R., associate editor of The American Ecclesiastical Review, made a play for public recognition as a theologian, by denouncing boxing as an immoral sport. Now he has continued his headline-directed theology, by doing some speculation for publication on “flying saucers.”
Fr. Connell says that, although science might have some objections, there would be nothing at all against theology in assuming that the “saucers” indicate the existence of rational creatures on other planets. He even proposes how, if these creatures sinned, God might have arranged for their redemption. “It is possible,” he says, “that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity assumed the nature of rational beings of another world ... or one of the other Divine Persons could have become Incarnate.”
We can imagine Fr. Connell at Christmas-time, lost in meditation of some other Bethlehem that might have occurred on some other planet, where some equally Blessed Virgin (having been told by an angel nine months before that she, too, is to be the Mother of God) kneels in adoration before her new-born Baby, who is the re-Incarnate God — perhaps God the Father, this time, or God the Holy Ghost.
Another priest who thinks that Our Lady is not nearly so singular as she has been made out is Bishop Fulton Sheen. In his latest book, The World’s First Love, Bishop Sheen says of Our Lady: “She is the one whom every man loves when he loves a woman — whether he knows it or not.”
It would probably surprise, among others, a lot of inmates of Moslem harems, to hear a Catholic bishop assuring them that it was not the Sultan’s lust but his unconscious love for the Blessed Virgin Mary that put them where they are.
Catholic Bible Week will be observed from September 28th to October 4th. In anticipation, Sheed & Ward has been plugging a publication called The Knox Bible. Here is one of Sheed’s plugs: “The Knox Bible is the first Catholic Bible since Gutenberg (now having its 500th anniversary) to be praised alike by Catholics and Protestants. 500 years is a long time to wait, but still it’s nice it’s finally happened.”
True, Frank Sheed, 500 years is a long time to wait. But aren’t you getting too little credit for the fact that “it’s finally happened”? It takes an awful lot of publishing know-how to get out a Bible that will be praised by both Catholics and Protestants, both papists and Baptists, both Hail Mary sayers and Blessed Virgin despisers.
Bar-Mitzvah is a Jewish religious term which means “one who is bound to obey the commandments.” Bar-Mitzvah is also the name of a book published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations. The declared purpose of the book is to make young American Hebrews take pride in their prominent noses. It bears the imprimatur of the Rabbinical Council of America, and from their long experience in snubbing Jesus and Mary, the Council members offer Bar-Mitzvah ’s readers some strictly kosher advice for the 25th of December: “Let there be no Christmas tree in the home, because the Christmas tree is symbolical of a religion in many ways contradictory to ours. To have that tree, the symbol of Christianity, in a Jewish home, stamps that home as disloyal and false to our religion, to our duty, and to our God. He who is proud to be a Jew will scorn to be a servile imitator of Christians.”
When Archbishop Richard J. Cushing addressed a meeting of Jewish rabbis in Boston a while ago, the Rabbinical Council was pleased to learn that His Excellency made no mention of Christmas trees.
PORTRAIT OF A PIOUS FRAUD
America is a land dedicated to the proposition that all that glitters is gold. It is a land where sham is the standard, where phonies flourish and pretenses go unquestioned, a land of drug-store literature and dime-store art, of trumpet kings and grapefruit queens, of simulated leather and mahogany veneer, of imitation flavoring and “color added.” It is a land where advertisers flatter you into buying something you do not want by pretending that you are something you are not — young or rich or good-looking or intelligent, where movies have made themselves the number-one industry by offering as entertainment vicarious adventure and romance. It is a land that likes to call itself Christian, but neither follows Christ nor has any intention of following Him. It is the land of the whitened sepulchre, where bright lights and gaudy colors hide misery and filth, and age conceals itself behind a mask of cosmetics.
America is the land of the fraud. And somehow this spirit of fraudulence — the spirit that has made this a nation of four-flushers, windbags, and impostors, a nation unable, or unwilling, to distinguish gold from dross, truth from lies — has found its way into the Church. For the pride of American Catholicism, its fairest flower, its choicest fruit, is a fraud. He is the Pious Fraud — the Catholic who pretends to have the Faith, is assumed to have it, but who hasn’t a glimmer of it.
It is not numerical superiority that makes the Pious Fraud the most prominent member of the Church in America, for he is not the common garden-variety of American Catholic. But what he lacks in numbers, the Pious Fraud more than makes up for (1) in influence (he is the type and exemplar of American Catholicism; he has stamped it, molded it, and made it what it is), and (2) in ubiquity.
The Pious Fraud is everywhere. He is in every office, every neighborhood, every parish. You can hear his voice on the radio, read his books in the library, and see his picture in the newspaper. He is always the most conspicuous Catholic in whatever place you find him. He represents both sanctity and intellectuality in American Catholicism. You will hear him variously referred to as “the best Catholic we have,” “a living saint,” “a man who really knows his Faith,” and “the person to ask.”
A fraud — whether male or female, clerical or lay — is a person with Catholic devotions, but with Protestant and Jewish sympathies. He is always anxious to apologize for anything Catholic that anyone might care to attack, but he gets terribly indignant if you suggest that the Protestants and Jews of America are anything but sincere, God-loving people. He will tell you, often and loudly, of his daily attendance at Mass, his frequent Communions, his novenas, his family rosary. But he will never insinuate to the Protestants and Jews he knows that they suffer any essential lack in not having these things. He will never urge them to come into the Church, or hint that the devotions he claims to cherish so highly might be needful for them, too. Rather, he modestly allows that the Protestants are doing as much, in their way, by attending their churches, and the Jews, in their way, by attending their synagogues, as he is doing, in his way, by attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion.
You must not assume from this behavior, however, that the Pious Fraud is uninterested in having America become Catholic. Indeed, if you can get him alone, he will assure you that there is no interest closer or dearer to his heart. The Pious Fraud realizes that in order to justify his annual contributions to foreign missions he must take some stand on the 120 million non-Catholic Americans. Consequently, he has manufactured a theology to go with his lack of apostolic zeal. This allows him to pose as one who is very interested in making conversions, and at the same time excuses him for not telling the Protestants and Jews of America that they ought to be Catholics. Here are some of his utterances:
1. “You can do much more by prayer and good example than you can by forcing it down their throats.” (This is the Pious Fraud’s favorite. It not only excuses his not mentioning the Faith to non-Catholics, but it also emphasizes his own piety: How could anyone be unmoved in the face of such holiness? How could such prayers go unheard?)
2. “Don’t you think it is very uncharitable and unkind to criticize a person’s religion to his face, and tell him that your church is true and his isn’t? How would you like it if he said that to you? You will never win him that way. All you will do is drive him farther away from the Church than ever.”
3. “Of course America must eventually be converted. But I am afraid that it is not for our times. We have a humbler job to do. We have the job of preparing the people — teaching them to lead moral lives and to have a reverence for spiritual values — so that when the Faith is finally preached in America, the people will be ready to receive it.”
4. “After all, you know it does require a certain amount of intelligence to understand the subtleties of the Faith; and, frankly, most people just don’t have that intelligence. I think the best thing is just to leave them to the mercy of God.”
5. “Whoever said you have to be a Catholic to save your soul, anyway?”
Whenever you hear a person talking this way, you can be pretty sure that you are listening to a Pious Fraud. No matter how great a reputation he may have for holiness and learning, no matter how much display he may make of his devotional practices, no matter how many allusions he may make to his hair shirt, if he is, in addition, inventing reasons to avoid telling Protestants and Jews that they ought to be Catholics, if he is making them think, in any way, that he approves of their religion — then he is, clearly and unmistakably, a Pious Fraud.
But perhaps you, reading this, do not agree with what I say. Perhaps you think the reasons enumerated above are good reasons for not preaching the Faith ... Perhaps you, too, are a Pious Fraud.
BY FATHER FEENEY
Monsignor Ronald Knox is the son of an Anglican bishop and the brother of an Anglican minister. He severed his own connections with Anglicanism so as to acquire the central assurances and valid orders of Rome. His change of religious allegiance was managed without any apparent ruffling of his relatives, and he entered the Church, pipe in hand. That pipe he has not since put down, not even in photographs. Nor has he put aside any of his former canniness and nimble ability to amuse ...
Ronald Knox is a great one for knowing the boundaries of things, both in behavior and in thought. And he has a shrewd way of keeping the apostle and the apologete in a priest, distinct. One is in doubt at times as to whether he wants England to come back to the Church, or the Church to come back to England. I once heard him say, when he was the Catholic chaplain at Oxford, that his purpose there was not to make conversions, but only to minister to those who already had the Faith. His own reasons for becoming a Catholic — his previous wide reading and proficiency in the humanities, his spiritual indebtedness to Virgil’s Aeneid — most of the students were familiar with, thanks to his many books and articles on the subject. Some of the students, however, thought Monsignor Knox’s logic too tactful to be innocently true, and they felt that if he stopped his affirmative arguments for a moment, and polished up his negative premises, he might easily win on the other side.
Monsignor Knox, by way of revising the bad English of the Church he entered, recently loaned it his vocabulary, and issued an edition of Holy Scripture known as “The Knox Bible.” In this Bible, Ronald Knox figuratively puts wrist-watches on all the Evangelists, and invites them to dinner in a don’s refectory, where, in the midst of revelation and refreshment, they may be colloquially introduced, and may receive academic credit for being the excellent and inspired authors they are.
(from London is a Place, The Ravengate Press, Boston)
OUR VANISHING SEMINARIANS
A Catholic priest and a Protestant minister have certain things in common. These things are: the “Reverend” in front of their respective names, the clerical discount on their monthly bills, and the Jewish rabbi who insists on being mentioned every time a priest and a minister are. Apart from these accidentals — their mode of address, their 10% off, and their vocational classification with bearded Hebrews — a Catholic priest and a Protestant minister are necessarily unlike.
A Catholic priest is a teacher of dogmas; a Protestant minister is an expresser of opinions.
A Catholic priest can forgive your sins; a Protestant minister must excuse them.
For heritage, a priest has Christendom’s saints, its cathedrals, and its glorious crusades. A minister is left with the Reformation’s pillage, some hymns, and the Ku Klux Klan.
A minister’s success can be measured by his ability to maintain his reputation in the community. A priest’s greatest achievement lies in losing his reputation, and, ultimately, his life, for Jesus.
The majority of American Catholics, however, will not agree that there is any basic unlikeness between a Catholic priest and a Protestant minister. It is the loudly protested opinion of most American Catholics that a priest and a minister are both equipped to serve God and save souls. The only differences they will admit are those of equipment. To do his job well, a priest requires an altar, vestments, candles, Latin, and the power to turn bread and wine into God. To do his job, and the assumption is that it is done equally well, a minister needs none of these.
This lack of faith among American Catholics, this depredation of the Sacraments of Holy Orders, is beginning to have its logical effect on vocations to the priesthood. Vocations are everywhere taking a drop. Everyone has a theory about why this is so, yet no one has mentioned the fundamental reasons for our vanishing seminarians: the prevalent Americatholic teaching that there are people who can reach Heaven without the aid of a priest.
The call to the priesthood is no longer an imperative and zealous awareness. It is no longer an impetuous abandoning of family, wealth and self; no longer an alert eagerness to defend the honor of God and His Blessed Mother. An American boy’s decision to be a priest is now too often determined by (a) an attraction to the courtesies accorded to a Roman collar, or, (b) the double lure of a room at the rectory and a locker at the country club, or, (c) the expectation that the sacerdotal “glamour jobs” will soon need some new Bishop Sheens and Father Kellers.
America’s seminaries are turning out not apostles but apologetes; not pastors, but business men; not lovers of Jesus and Mary, but proponents of “divinity” and “religion.” A young priest is not encouraged to “preach in the highways and the byways,” and win America to the Faith. He is asked to study under atheists at heretical universities, to let everybody know how American and how intellectual a man can be, despite the fact that he is, at the same time, a Catholic priest.
The Catholic Faith did not come blazingly to our country the way Saint Patrick brought it to Ireland, or Saint James to Spain. The Faith disembarked here timidly, as an immigrant. It filled out all the forms, complied with all the regulations, and, after a couple of generations, lost all of its objectionable European qualities. The seminaries have been the chief instruments for this Americanization of the Faith. Now that it has been accomplished, a priest can walk down Main Street, America, and feel as much a part of the milieu as any Protestant minister might. Still, vocations to the priesthood are falling off.
Each year it is becoming more difficult for seminaries to interest young boys in a One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church which is just one of many ways to Heaven, and in a priesthood which has only advantages of liturgy over Billy Graham.
Our concern is not prompted solely by the prospect of empty confessionals, vacant tabernacles, and unanointed deaths. For the tragedy of America’s vocation problem is not just the shortage of laborers for the harvest. It is the belief that, even without laborers, the harvest can come in by itself.
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
A diocese in Africa and a diocese of equal size in the United States have been compared statistically by Mission magazine. The U. S. diocese, with 383 priests, made 438 conversions in one year. The African diocese, with only 38 priests, converted 19,129 during the same period.
There are two possible reasons for such totally different diocesan convert figures. (1) African natives have much more good will toward Jesus and Mary than American Protestants do, or, (2) African natives are being told to come into the Church and American Protestants are not.
We feel that it’s a combination of both.
Father Karl Adam is one of the European “authorities” most often quoted by our compromising theologians when they are out to prove that just about everybody can and does get into Heaven. Lately, Father Adam has been endorsing the Moral Rearmament movement of Dr. Frank Buchman, a movement that has been condemned by every vigilant Catholic Bishop in Europe.
If Father Adam goes Buchmanite (adding Buchman inter-morality to Adam inter-faith), our Americatholic theologians will be in the market for a new quotable “authority.” To qualify for the job, one must be a contemporary non-saint, preferably European, who can think up adaptable schemes that will oblige Catholics to remain in the One True Church, while excusing Protestants for staying out of it.
One day last month, Catholic religious houses throughout the world heard the following commemoration read from the Roman Martyrology: “At Saragossa in Spain, of Saint Peter of Arbues, first Inquisitor of the Faith of the Kingdom of Aragon who was cruelly butchered by relapsed Jews for the sake of that Catholic Faith which he had so zealously protected by virtue of his office. Pope Pius IX added him to the list of Martyr Saints.”
To America’s soft-peddlers of the Faith, the Spanish Inquisition is a chronic headache. And every September 17th the ache is intensified as Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast of the first Inquisitor, a man who carried on in such a way that the Jews killed him and the Pope canonized him.
St. Peter of Arbues, pray for us.
Many American Catholic priests shifted uneasily on their Interfaith platforms when Spain’s Cardinal Segura, addressing his diocese a few weeks ago, said: “It causes one real pain to see the tolerance shown toward non-Catholic sects among us and the indifference of the Catholics toward this question.”
King Henry VIII’s spiritual descendants congregated recently in Boston to reaffirm their allegiance to Protestant Episcopalianism. In episcopacies all over the country, gray-flanneled bishops packed up the kids and the crozier and headed east, or north, for the festivities. From across the ocean came Archbishop and Mrs. Fisher of Canterbury.
The Boston press, well trained in catering to the publicity whims of local church leaders, gave the convening Episcopalians broad (and high and low) news coverage. Caught up in this journalistic good will toward heretics, The Pilot, Boston’s weakly Catholic paper, had an editorial suggestion. Noting that the current Episcopalian trend is toward the Low Church, The Pilot hoped that some of the more liturgical Episcopalians would see fit to transfer their liturgizing to the Catholic Church. In an almost apostolic mood, The Pilot carried its suggestion to the point of coaxing — reminding the high Episcopalians that although there is, outside the Catholic Church, plenty of salvation, there is very little genuflection and practically no incense.
THE APOSTLE OF INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE
If you ask most Americans what the term “Boston Irish” means to them, they will tell you that it makes them think of strong, vigorous Catholicism. That this notion should prevail despite all evidences to the contrary, is due partly to the Boston Irish themselves, who like to create the impression, “Whatever we say, that’s the Faith,” and partly to the non-Catholics of the country, who feel that if this blustering, red-faced, unattractive thing can be passed off as Catholicism at its best, then they are well-excused in staying out of the Church.
The fact is, the Boston Irish have long since lost the Faith as the kind of bright, burning presence that fills the soul with joy and zeal. It has become for them merely a kind of national tradition, and they hold it not because it is true, but because that is what they were taught in Ireland.
There once was a time when the faith of the Boston Irish was strong, and they were persecuted for it — their convents were burned; they were told they need not apply for preferred jobs. But now the Boston Irish have ceased to make their Faith a challenge to those who hate it. They keep it to themselves, and try to conform to Protestant manners and Jewish morals. They are happy to take to their bosom any Yankee heretic who will agree to put on a green tie for St. Patrick’s Day and to attend a banquet given in his honor by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. And they can aspire to nothing higher than to send their sons to Harvard, where, they imagine, they may hobnob with the sons of rich Protestants and Jews.
The leader of the Boston Irish is His Excellency Richard J. Cushing, Archbishop of Boston. He is the official representative of Boston Irish Catholicism, its product and its pride, and the Boston Irish feel about him the way other Catholics feel about the Pope.
As spiritual shepherd of the Boston Irish, Archbishop Cushing is famous for two talents: fund-raising, and getting his picture in the newspapers. So successful has he been in the former endeavor, that salesmen and rival fund-raisers study his technique to see how he does it, and so successful has he been in the latter, that he has found it necessary, in order to provide the photographers with some variety in his pictures, to strike such unepiscopal poses as riding on a merry-go-round and playing baseball in a T-shirt. He has also staged publicity stunts like persuading a young Boston couple to be married by him at a Nuptial Mass in front of a television camera.
Besides making money and getting his picture taken, Archbishop Cushing is famous for one other thing. He is famous for denying that membership in the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. There are others who agree with the Archbishop in this denial, but he has been obliged to carry it further and to make it more conspicuously evident than anyone else. It has become the guiding principal of his episcopate.
Archbishop Cushing is known as a person who is willing to go anywhere, address any group, praise anyone. He has appeared at conventions of Jewish rabbis, at vaudeville shows, at testimonial dinners for pillars of the Protestant church. His invariable message at these gatherings, delivered with wide-spread arms and booming voice, is to assure his audience of his deep personal affection for them all, and to let them know, once again, that they can count on him not to regard differences of creed. That is all. He never mentions the divine privileges and prerogatives of the Catholic Church; never indicates that what Our Lord said about the necessity of Baptism applies to the Jews he is talking to; never indicates that what Our Lord said about the necessity of receiving His Body and Blood applies to the Protestants he is talking to.
Archbishop Cushing thinks that the kingdom of heaven is taken not by violence, but by ignorance. He thinks that the Protestants and Jews of Boston, where there is a Catholic church on every fourth or fifth street corner, will be saved either because they are unaware of the Faith, or else because they are too thick to understand it. In his largesse, the gate of heaven is open to all — both to those who die with the sacraments and to those who die hating Christ and His Church. Here is how he puts it: “When I die and go to Heaven, if I don’t find you there, I’ll know it’s because you’re not dead yet.”
In his published statements, Archbishop Cushing sounds more like a vote-coaxing politician than like a spokesman for the Church. Here are some of them:
To the Jews, who have for 2,000 years proclaimed their rejection of the Christ he professes to love, the Archbishop offers this expression of muddled charity: “No man could have my faith concerning Christ ... without loving Him and the people who produced Him, the Jews.”
To the Protestants, he presents this modest message, letting them know that the mission of the Catholic Church in America is merely to carry on the work begun by the nation’s Protestant founders: “Catholics are standing just as and where the Protestants did when they had complete moral leadership of the community.”
To non-Catholics generally, here is his assurance that they shouldn’t give a thought to changing their religion: “In the last analysis people will learn morality best within the household of their own spiritual families.”
And, ultimately, to his clergy, here is his modernization of the Gospel admonition about the narrow path and the strait way that leadeth to life: “No priest can be content today with serving God or saving people in a circumscribed or narrow path.”
Why Archbishop Cushing should have chosen as his episcopal motto Ut cognoscant Te, an apostrophe to God which means “that they may know Thee,” is a question only the Boston Irish can answer. For it is evident that the great intention of his episcopate is not that everyone may know God, as He is revealed in the Catholic Church, but, rather, that those who are ignorant of Him should have an archbishop’s assurance that what they don’t know won’t hurt them.
BY FATHER FEENEY
John Henry Newman was constantly praised for the clarity of his English prose and the limpid lucidity of his style. That he possesses these qualities, no one can deny. But his is the cold clarity of clear water in a fish bowl, in which one looks in vain for the fish.
The more you read Newman, the less you remember what he says. He is an author whom it is impossible to quote. What you recall, after you have finished reading him, is never what the clarity of his style was revealing, but some small, unwarranted queerness that it was almost concealing. You remember that Newman said that a chandelier “depends” from a ceiling; and if you look up “depends” in the dictionary, you will find that “hangs from” is exactly what it means. You remember that Newman felt entitled to mispronounce deliberately one English word to show his proprietorship over the language. He pronounced “soldier” as sol—dee—err. You remember that Newman was perpetually fussing about Reverend E. B. Pusey, who seems, in some refined way, to have gotten under his skin.
You remember Newman was shocked that Catholics were giving Protestants the grounds for declaring that “the honor of Our Lady is dearer to Catholics than the conversion of England,” as though anything else could be the childlike truth. You remember that Newman particularly disliked the Marian writings of St. Alfonso Liguori, a Doctor of the Universal Church, and said of these writings, “They are suitable for Italy, but they are not suitable for England.” You remember that, with regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Newman insisted, in scholarly fashion, that “her case is essentially the same as St. John the Baptist, save for a difference of six months” — which is precisely the difference this dogma demands. You remember that, though Newman was in favor of Papal Infallibility, he was not in favor of its being infallibly defined by the Pope.
(from London is a Place, The Ravengate Press, Boston)
The Birds I View
European visitors to America traditionally comment on the vastness of our country, the variety of our landscape, and the bizarre assortment of inhabitants which, for purposes of quick dismissal, are called Americans. It is only through extreme generosity on their part that trans-Atlantic visitors submit their precise vocabularies to the flagrant laxity of giving just one name, American, to such diversified U.S.A. fauna as the debutante, the cowboy, the crooner, the hobo, the revivalist, the disc jockey and the soda jerk.
And when the European visitor is also a Catholic, even more generosity is required. For Catholicism in America has, out of convenience, made itself as plastic as possible, not by way of being “all things to all men,” but in an effort to be one thing to this man and another to that. Generally, the European Catholic comes to America well-reminded ahead of time that, despite what he finds here, it is of the Faith that the Gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church.
At first glance, the visitor from a Catholic country will be impressed by the material plant, the layout, the perpetual building fund which is American Catholicism. In among the hospitals, the colleges, and the retreat houses, however, the visitor will discover that the Catholic dwellers in these places are, like other Americans, people of many varieties.
American Catholics are not birds of a feather. The truth of this is obvious enough when a few of them are flocked together. Take these birds, for example:
The Converted Cocktailer. This species is a very exalted one. The ordinary specimen is a former Protestant, from one of the better families, who comes into the Church in Paris, reduces somewhat his alcohol consumption, has a private audience with the Pope, and then writes a book about the state of the Faith.
He is often favorably compared with Saint Augustine, and for the rest of his life is referred to, not as a Catholic, but as a “noted convert.”
The Black-Suited Back-Slapper. A clerical counterpart of the Rotarian layman, he has his greatest popularity among those of television intelligence.
Golf balls and highballs are an integral part of his week, and on Sunday morning he brings his best eighteen-hole manner to the pulpit. His “Dear Brethren” sounds much more like “Hi, Gang,” and is followed by some good, hearty, common sense reasons why the parish should all pitch in and buy a jukebox for the Catholic Youth Organization.
The Left Wing Lack-Bird. The subscription list of the Catholic Worker is a likely habitat for this variety. It is quite probable that he bears degrees from several colleges, and wears debris from several ash barrels. Among his more ardent devotions are “Our Lady of the Bread Lines,” “Saint Joseph the Proletarian” and a brief litany of obscure saints who, it is said, didn’t wash too frequently.
By combining his economic theories and his Christian dogmas, he has arrived at a Christ who is equally present in the Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrifices of the masses.
The Liturgy Loon. Armed with an unabridged missal and a course in Gregorian chant, this migratory species travels from parish to pariah in search of a properly said Mass.
When he enters a church, his purpose is not to make a visit, but to go on a tour of inspection. And by a few liturgical scowls at the surplus statuary, he can dismiss the devotion of generations of simple Catholics. For the Liturgy Loon’s concern is not prayer, but performance; not dogma, but rubrics; not the Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, but the absence of lace on the altar boy’s surplice.
The Red, White and Blue Jay. This patriotic bird is often an S. J. He feels that the great Italian Jesuit, Saint Robert Bellarmine, made good not as a Doctor of the Universal Church but as a remote author of the United States Constitution.
Back at the start of the century, we had a visitor from Europe who wanted to turn this American aviary into an apostolate. The visitor’s name was Frances Xavier Cabrini, and she set out to find here some rare birds, indeed. She prayed she would find some Saints.
Mother Cabrini died In Chicago, in 1917, still very much a visitor, with herself the only answer to her prayers.
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
During the month of October, a revised version of the Protestant Bible was published. To ensure its sale to the already Bible-laden Protestants, the editors threw in a revision they were sure would delight all Protestant hearts and make them glad to pay out $6 to have a copy of this one on the parlor table. In Isaias 7:14, where it says, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” the new Protestant Bible has changed it to read, “Behold a young woman ... ”
The Catholic press commenting on this was notable, as always, for its lack of resentment. It showed great eagerness to defend the “scholarship” of the Protestants, but none at all to defend the virginity of the Mother of God.
In the Rome to which he never returned religiously, Professor George Santayana recently ended a brief illness and a lifetime of skepticism. For the past eleven years, Santayana had lived in Rome among the Blue Sisters, Catholic nuns of the Little Company of Mary, and it was in their hospital that he died.
From Harvard, there came all the official sympathy appropriate to the demise of a former employee. At Princeton, there was a perceptible dampness in the eyes of Dr. Maritain. In Rome, there were ever-so-slight qualms of conscience on the part of the Blue Sisters, who had required of Santayana much pill-taking, but no Hail Marys.
In case you thought a few months ago that the Catholic book situation couldn’t get any worse, here are a few current reasons why you were wrong. From Confucius to Christ, three dollars worth of confusion resulting from the admission that Confucius is to Dr. Paul Sih’s Catholicism what Saint John the Baptist ought to be; Walls Are Crumbling, in which convert Father Oesterreicher, nostalgic for the delicatessens of his childhood, writes on three Jews who came into the Church and four who didn’t, finds all seven equally Christian; Life of Baron Von Hugel, portrait of a modernist who never left the Church, drawn by that friend of liberalism and of the Catholic World, M. de la Bedoyere; Just for Today, the latest Christopher perpetration, a kind of spiritual, but interdenominational, Farmer’s Almanac, which includes 365 Father-Keller-prayers, all of them addressed to a pre-Bethlehem deity.
On the 19th of April back in the year 1602, there was a little more hope for the Catholic book situation. On that day, a London bookseller, Blessed James Duckett, was martyred for the Catholic Faith. Here is the way his biographer describes the martyr’s last moments: “James Duckett showed great alacrity in his mind, and spoke boldly and cheerfully, to the astonishment of many beholders. He said of how he professed that he died a Catholic, and that so he had lived; ... telling the people in general that he was most willing to die for that cause, and that it was as impossible for any to be saved outside of the Catholic Church as for any to avoid the deluge that was outside of Noah’s Ark.”
With roasted turkeys and warmed-over platitudes, Protestant America will observe this month its one religious feast day. Called Thanksgiving, it is the annual commemoration of a Plymouth Rock picnic, at which refugee Puritans and barbarian Indians abandoned their respective deities and diets and thanked a common god for their common gluttony.
In an effort to spread the “Thanksgiving” spirit, the November issue of Maryknoll magazine has gone out of its way to find a suitable infidel with whom it can share a general outlook on divinity. Beneath a snapshot of a Christ-and-Mary-hating Mohammedan, the priests of Maryknoll protest, “ ... we hold a common faith in God.”
THE CHURCH MILITANT AND THE CHURCH DILETTANTE
On October 7, the Church commemorates in her liturgy the Battle of Lepanto. It was on this date, in the year 1571, that a small Christian fleet under the command of Don John of Austria halted and destroyed the powerful Turkish forces that were threatening to invade and overrun Europe. To secure this miraculous victory, Pope St. Pius V, who then reigned, asked the faithful to storm Heaven with the Rosary, beseeching Our Lady to crush these enemies of her and her Son and to save Europe from their scourge. That is why, on October 7, to commemorate the glorious victory of the Christians over the Mohammedans at Lepanto, the Church celebrates the feast of the Most Holy Rosary.
Lepanto was the last, late impulse of that great movement known as the Crusades, a movement which had begun in the final years of the eleventh century and which had as its purpose to rescue the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb in which the precious body of Christ had lain, from the hands of the infidels. It was for this that millions of Christians left homes and lands and families, to journey to a strange country, and there to shed their blood fighting a strange people, a people who rejected and despised their God, and who thereby made themselves the enemies of those who loved Him.
The Holy Sepulchre is today in the hands of the infidels, just as it was at the time of the Crusades. (It has, indeed, been turned into a giant Interfaith temple, with Mohammedans holding the keys to the place, and Catholics, Orthodox, Monophysites and others holding services there.) But if a Catholic of our day were to suggest going off to the Holy Land to fight for possession of the Holy Sepulchre, he would be immediately labeled, by his pastor and everyone who heard of him, “out of his mind.” For there is no group in the history of the Church with whom modern, successful American Catholics have less in common than the Crusaders. There is nothng so remote from their interests and aspirations as trying to recapture the Holy Sepulchre.
But it is not merely in their unwillingness to fight for the Holy Sepulchre that American Catholics show their estrangement from the Crusaders. For the Crusades were more than a particular war for a particular objective at a particular time. They were motivated by a spirit, and that spirit has been shared by all faithful Christians at all times. It is a spirit that thinks the salvation of one’s soul is the most important task one has to accomplish, and is ready to sacrifice any lesser good to that end. It is a spirit that thinks the kingdom of Heaven is taken by violence, and that only the violent bear it away. It is a spirit that is sensitive to blasphemy, zealous to defend holy things, and wrathful when it sees them profaned. It is a spirit that thinks the enemies of Jesus and Mary ought to be the enemies of all Christians. It is a spirit that looks on life itself as a continual warfare: a warfare of right against wrong, of good against evil, of the seed of Our Lady against the seed of Satan; a warfare we must wage both within ourselves, to root out the evil that is there, and in the world outside; a warfare we must wage to save our souls, with the Cross as our shield and our standard.
There is nothing of this spirit among American Catholics. To them, life is not a warfare, but a pursuit for peace. They want to be peaceful both toward the evil that is in themselves and toward the evil that is in the world. They look on the Church as a kind of spiritual Rotary Club that has a slap on the back and a good word for everyone.
Despite the blasphemy, the lust, the greed and degeneracy that are accepted and expected commonplaces in American life, American Catholics still refuse to believe that this is a country opposed to Jesus and Mary. Despite this country’s continual and blatant profanation of the Holy Name of Jesus, despite its sniggering filth that constantly affronts the spotless purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, American Catholics still give no indication that the Faith has any enemies closer than J. Stalin. They show neither by their words nor by their actions any determination to stop these things or to separate and distinguish themselves from the people responsible for them. Instead, it seems that their main concern is to befriend these non-Catholic fellow-Americans of theirs, and to assure them that, whether they know it or not, and whether they like it or not, they have by their innate goodness and sincerity established themselves as members of the soul of the Church, on which account they are going to spend eternity in the Beatific Vision.
Every Catholic boy longs somehow for a crusade. He knows that that is what the Faith is meant to be — a glorious campaign for the love and honor of Jesus and Mary. And its fruits should be zeal, and courage, and sanctity, and greatness. But a Catholic boy in America does not find these things. Instead of the Faith being the most important thing in his life, something to give himself to wholeheartedly, something to fight for and to die for, the Faith is made to seem to him humdrum, and routine, and not nearly as exciting as most other things. He is told that the Faith is something that he is required to hold, but that others are not. He is told that people who are plainly enemies of Christ and His Church are fundamentally good-willed and are trying to serve God according to their lights. He is told that his primary duty is not preaching and protecting the sacred dogmas of the Faith, but is rather some cause like “brotherhood” that he has in common with those who reject such dogmas.
To an American Catholic boy, there seems to be no reason, no incentive for a crusade. The Church in America does not seem to need him to fight for it, or to want him to. It seems to be an organization that is politically powerful, wealthy, successful — and religiously unnecessary. It fights no battles and wins no victories. It produces no saints and inspires no heroes. It has no Don Johns, no St. Pius V’s, no Lepantos.
BY FATHER FEENEY
Now Our Lord came down and was born below,
In a what would you say if you didn’t know?
No, there wasn’t much shelter, but lots of song.
It was altogether unorthodox:
For instance, an ass, and, for instance, an ox,
Who were lacking in minds of the right precision,
And who made the view while they missed the vision.
But other attendants were called at once: —
Creatures, I mean, with intelligent eyes:
A distant sage and a nearby dunce,
For a shepherd, as well as a king, is wise:
And you had to have wisdom to get invited,
When the Wordling of God by the moon was lighted.
But where were the others, the in-betweens,
Who measure Madonnas by merely means,
Who make their Messiahs of potentates,
Of would-be giants and would-be greats?
They were idling in inns with the door shut tight,
Where they’ve stayed for two thousand years, not quite,
Night after Night-Before-Christmas Night.
AVE VERUM CORPUS NATUM
What little lambs and ewes
Went running to peruse ...
What baby calves and goats
And chickens out of shells
And heifers with their bells
And fillies lately born
Espied among their oats ...
What dull-eyed oxen saw
Commingling with their corn,
Strewn over with their straw ...
What donkeys with dismay
Found hiding in their hay ...
Abiding in our wheat,
In mystery complete,
At a far stranger manger
Is given us to eat.
THE NEW SOCIETY OF JESUS
Saint Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in the year 1534. This society preached the Catholic Faith, fought heretics, converted pagans, and produced twenty-six canonized saints during its two hundred thirty-nine year existence. In 1773, a bull of suppression, issued by Pope Clement XIV, marked the end of the Society of Jesus.
There is, in the minds of contemporary Catholics, an understandable confusion with regard to the designation, “Society of Jesus.” This confusion dates from the year 1814. In that year, Pope Pius VII attempted to revive the original Society of Jesus, the one founded by Saint Ignatius. Worthy as the project was, and with all respect for the Pope’s efforts, the order which Pius VII got back was, unhappily, the wrong one. What could be more confusing, therefore, than to believe, however sincerely, that the present-day Society of Jesus is the same Society founded by Saint Ignatius in the sixteenth century!
To eliminate any further difficulty with these two religious orders, The Point presents, below, a review of the New Society of Jesus. Any student of history, and all lovers of Saint Ignatius, will see that there can be no more than a nominal connection between this 1814 order and the one that produced Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Francis Borgia, and Saint John Francis Regis.
The New Society of Jesus has nowhere produced a canonized saint. It has contented itself with begetting the “Jesuit,” a type which, though recognizable the world over, allows of variation according to nation. In England, the Jesuit is often a convert and invariably odd — which may be demonstrated even from his most considered English statements, his published ones. This is the way Father C. C. Martindale, looking back on his conversion, sums up: “Hence, became a Catholic, hating it.” And here is how Father Gerard Hopkins, looking ahead to his resurrection, prophesies:
“I am all at once what Christ is, since
He was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch,
matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.”
The French Jesuit is much more articulate, but in much foggier pursuits. One of his specialties is discursive theology, a kind of mental ju-jitsu which enables him to be loyal to both Evolution and Genesis, without being accused of talking through his beret. It is the French-style Jesuit which prompted Mr. Webster to list “jesuit” (with a small j) as meaning, “a casuist; a crafty person; an intriguer.”
In close-by Belgium, the Jesuit truly makes the grade when he is invited to become a “Bollandist,” a member of that patient group of researchers who can cast doubts on the hagiology of almost any saint since the time of, and including, the Apostles. If he can’t be a Bollandist, the Belgian Jesuit would just as soon leave the country. Few non-Bollandists, however, have left as gracefully as Father J. B. Janssens, who went to Rome and became the present General of the New Society. In Italy, the General has made a hit by fostering such local Jesuit talent as Father R. Lombardi, the itinerant peddler of lots-more-love-for-whatever-God-you-believe-in.
Education is the chief assignment of the American Jesuit. His teaching is done in schools with rest-home names (Shadowbrook, Fairfield, Spring Hill, Rockhurst), schools where a Catholic boy can lay in a supply of rote and rational answers to Alexander VI, chained bibles, and indulgences.
Found apart from his chalk-and-blackboard setting, the American Jesuit is of no predictable pattern. He may be Father Edmund Walsh, living in Washington, wearing a cape, and giving the government sacerdotal go-aheads on deadlier atomic bombs. He may be Father Daniel Lord, the apostle of musical-comedy Christianity, whose sustained levitical levity makes the Catholic Church about as inviting as a midwestern clambake. He may even be Father Robert Hartnert, who puts out a magazine in which he protects his fellow-Americans against Colombian Catholics and Spanish Cardinals.
In no case will an American member of the New Society of Jesus be mistaken for a priest like Saint Isaac Jogues, an original Jesuit who kept telling the original Americans that they had to love Jesus and Mary, until, one day, he literally lost his head.
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
THE AMERICAN CHRISTMAS STORY
Christmas used to be celebrated by Catholics as the day when God came into our world as a Baby. But Christmas in the U. S. has no such limited significance. It is, instead, the great democratic festival that means all things to all men, the day when everyone celebrates and displays whatever religious feeling, or lack of it, he has, or pretends to have. Christmas, as it is observed in the U. S., is not the day when the Word became flesh, it is the day when the Word becomes anything that anyone wants Him to be.
Christmas in the U. S. is a day composed of, and characterized by, such miscellaneous items as Santa Claus, eggnog, mistletoe, candy canes, scotty dogs, snowfalls, and fruit cake. It is a day presided over by Protestant sentimentalism and by Jewish commercialism. It is a day that provides Americans with an opportunity for re-calling their Thanksgiving gluttony and for anticipating their New Year’s drunkenness. It is a day when the Protestants, who refuse to believe that the Baby whose birthday they are observing is true God and true man, and that His mother is the true Mother of God, try to turn Him into a symbol. They make Him stand for peace, or goodwill, or some other high-sounding Protestant abstraction, and they enthrone in His place, as the child of Christmas, that obnoxious little Protestant brat, Tiny Tim.
Christmas in the U. S. is a day when the Jews, who have rejected the Baby as their King, their God, and their Messias, re-affirm their belief in the divinity of the dollar. Christmas is not so much a day they care to celebrate themselves as one that they urge others to celebrate by exchanging the gifts that they sell and the cards that they write.
Christmas in the U. S. has been made what it is by the Protestants and by the Jews. But it is the Catholics — and especially the Catholic priests — who have allowed them to make it so. Because of the neglect, the equivocation, and the infidelity of too many American priests, the significance and the challenge are gone from Christmas, and it has been turned into the kind of day that the Protestants and the Jews have been able to take over and pervert to their own interests. And this has happened not because of what the priests have said and done on Christmas Day, only, but because of what they have said and done all through the year.
Too many American priests have failed to insist on the meaning and the necessity of the Incarnation; they have been careful, when in the presence of non-Catholics, always to talk about “God,” rather than about Jesus, the God-man; they have given the impression that all they ask of non-Catholics is belief in some common un-incarnated deity rather than in the God Who became a Baby at Bethlehem. They have pretended to the Jews that there is some other way to the Father than through this Baby; they have pretended to the Protestants that there is some other way to this Baby than through His Mother; they have pretended to all that there is some other way to Heaven than the single way He ordained. By equivalating the love and knowledge of this Baby with whatever belief one might sincerely hold, they have made Him seem vague and unreal. They have made His message vague, his Church vague, the Way to salvation vague.
Christmas in the U. S. will be the same in 1952 as it has been in other years. There will be the usual decorations, the usual revels, the usual songs. The Protestants will go on filling their mouths with plum pudding and talking about the spirit of the day; the Jews will go on hanging signs saying “Seasons Greetings” over their shops and hiring fat men to wear red suits and frighten the children. And, in the Catholic churches, Midnight Mass will be said; priests will bring God down upon their altars, in a presence as real and intimate as when He lay in the crib of Bethlehem.
But when Mass is over, and the door of the tabernacle has been locked, these American priests will go on talking and acting as though it does not matter, for those who choose to ignore it, that God has become a Baby.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine hopes to have the first installment of its new translation of the Bible out in time for Christmas. The translation is notable chiefly for its treatment of Genesis 3:15, the famous and crucial text in which God the Father, speaking to the serpent (the Devil), establishes enmity between him and Our Lady. In former versions, it read: “She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” The Confraternity has decided, for the instruction and edification of American Catholics, that Our Lady does not belong in the text, and has changed it to read: “He shall crush thy head ... ”
If Our Lady could have had the benefit of the Confraternity’s scholarship in time, she would surely not have made the mistake of appearing at Lourdes with her heel crushing the serpent’s head.
For centuries, Catholics have believed that the world was created the way Genesis says it was, and that, therefore, the age of the world is a knowable, and not too large, number. Not until the “anthropology-priests” of our day have Catholics defied the Church’s clear tradition on the age of the world. Each Christmas, however, the priests’ Breviary contains a decided kick in the shin-bones for those excavating clerics who prefer to think that the ancestors of the Infant Jesus were the baboons of a few million years ago.
Says the Martyrology for the 25th of December: “In the 5,199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth, in the 2,957th year after the flood; in the 2,015th year from the birth of Abraham; ... in the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus, all the earth being at peace, Jesus Christ, the Eternal God, and the Son of the Eternal Father, ... was born in Bethlehem of Juda of the Virgin Mary, made Man.”
Our page three prose selection by Fr. Leonard Feeney is from his new book, Bread of Life. Just published by St. Benedict Center, Bread of Life is Fr. Feeney in twelve Faith-full talks on the Holy Eucharist, Our Lady, and Salvation Inside the Church.
BY FATHER FEENEY
St. Joseph’s Christmas
Not envied, not desired,
Only admired: —
A girl on this will thrive
As on no thing alive.
And such was God’s rare plan
For Mary’s man.
He watched his loved one flower
Hour after hour,
With footstep caused no fear
In angel-anxious ear,
Gave her his husband’s praise
In nought but gaze:
The exquisite adulation
That lets a fact reveal
Itself as real,
And, in Our Lady’s case,
As full of grace.
He must have marveled most
When of the Holy Ghost
Her little Son who shivered,
At dawn was delivered.
He must have feared and feared
And hid behind his beard
When what was not his life
He welcomed from his wife
And his bride’s Babe and Lord
Adored and adored.
At Christ’s Nativity,
St. Joseph, I love thee.
BREAD OF LIFE (excerpt)
At Bethlehem, in the crib, is a loving, warm, exquisite Baby. In order to find that little Charity, that bundle of Love lying in the straw, you have got to walk down the hills, over the rocks, across the brooks, into the dark, in your hunt for the cave. You have got to sacrifice other things in order to find it, even the brightness of the stars. The songs of the angels have to be put away, or, if you are a shepherd, your sheep. That is how chaste you have to be to find this Baby ...
A Child is given unto us! A Child is born to us, Who is Christ the Lord! Our Lord’s life was, in its simplicity, the life of a child. He did not have too many friends. I do not think you would call seventy-two disciples too many followers — or twelve apostles too many close friends. ...
We all stay a child as we go through life — the best part of us does. We are a child when we eat, when we sleep, when we are sick, when we are old. When we are lonely, we are a child; when we are hurt, we are a child. If we only would let that child in us become interested in Jesus, you would be surprised how easily we could find Him!
Jesus of Bethlehem is given all over the world in the simple, complete value of Christmas, in all the traditions we know — in the kind of story one tells to a child. The inspired record of His life in Holy Scripture is there, in case a child is looking. If you are looking as a child this Christmas, it is child’s play to find it.
And Still ...
And still ... though maybe not one-tenth the town
Believes what boon this birthday brought us down,
We go on keeping Christmas just the same
With tinsel tricks, pretenses, and a name.
Whatever else one could or could not say,
(And who but God could deal us such a day?),
There must have come to notice, less or more,
That blinds are drawn in the department store.
And having soared in sales of Christmas cards
Inscribed with Christ-less rhymes by Christ-less bards,
Proprietor Mazuma sends the season’s
Best greetings round to all for Christ-less reasons;
Bravely endures a one-day profit pause,
Appeased with turkey and cranberry sauce,
Then snoozes sweetly as a buttercup,
Or boozes indiscreetly, woken up.
And still ... and still ... the marvel Mother-Maiden
Is of her infant Lad and Lord unladen;
Emmanuel, grown little for our sakes,
Into our world His baby-entrance makes.
And still ... above the Cave the stars are bright,
Some sheep and shepherds run with all their might;
And kings and camels from the Orient come,
While angels sing: Let there be Peace, for some!
DIM LIGHTS ON A CHRISTMAS TREE
Every December twenty-fifth, in liturgical generosity, the Church gives us three distinct Masses: the Midnight Mass, the Mass at Dawn, and the Mass of Christmas Day. In the midst of the middle Mass, the Mass at Dawn, the Church presents us with the memory of a girl named Anastasia, the only saint who gets a “feast day” commemoration on Jesus’ Birthday.
Saint Anastasia was martyred by burning on December twenty-fifth in the year 304, which means that her birth into Eternity occurred on the same day, 304 years later, as Jesus’ birth in Time. Among all the Christmas Day occurrences of nineteen hundred years, the Church has chosen to remember this fourth-century girl who defeated the flames that consumed her by becoming a new kind of Christmas star, burning in martyrdom to light us the way back to Bethlehem.
And it is doubtful, in this year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-two, that we should even recall the first Christmas, were it not for Anastasia and the girls of her Catholic courage whose professions of Faith still echo at Christmas time for men of good will. It is because we are assured of this echo in our world that Saint Paul tells us that “faith comes from hearing” a truth which is more often rendered in Latin, and was once put poetically this way:
And shepherds knew that Christmas was
A glory to agree to.
For angels were provided speech,
And fides ex auditu!