The Communion of Saints and Devotion to the Poor Souls in Purgatory

The Communion of Saints and Devotion to the Poor Souls in Purgatory

 

+St. John Chrysostom+

Various articles on this site explain the doctrine of the Mystical Body and how it is that we may be counted as members of that Body, even though we have no pope and we are not formally abjured from the heresies we may have committed as members of the NO or as Traditionalists (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/2-the-church/are-traditionalists-members/).

The Catholic Encyclopedia defines the communion of saints as “the spiritual solidarity which binds together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven in the organic unity of the same mystical body under Christ its head, and in a constant interchange of supernatural offices. The participants in that solidarity are called saints by reason of their destination and of their partaking of the fruits of the Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:2 — Greek Text).”

Under the subject ‘Church,’ the Catholic Encyclopedia states: “The Church is divided into the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant… The doctrine of the visibility [of the Church] in no way excludes from the Church those who have already attained to bliss. These are united with the members of the Church Militant in one communion of saints. They watch her struggles; their prayers are offered on her behalf. Similarly, those who are still in the cleansing fires of purgatory belong to the Church. There are not, as has been said, two Churches; there is but one Church, and of it all the souls of the just, whether in heaven, on earth, or in purgatory, are members (Catech. Rom., I, x, 6). But it is to the Church only in so far as militant here below — to the Church among men — that the property of visibility belongs.”

Rt. Rev. W. Keppler, D.D., Bishop of Rottenburg, in his work The Poor Souls in Purgatory wrote in 1923: “’Pray for one another, that you may be saved, for the prayer of the just man availeth much’ (James 5:16). This advice and assurance of St. James applies not only within the limits of the Church Militiant on earth, but it extends to the Triumphant Church and the Suffering Church beyond. We invoke the Saints in Heaven, and they pray for us and send us graces, that we may obtain salvation. The saints in Heaven and the faithful on earth send help to the Poor Souls, that they may reach their final goal.  The Poor Souls, in their turn, pray for us, and the prayer of these just souls availeth much for our salvation. Behold here the never-interrupted telephonic connection, the wonderful transmission of power from one realm of the Church to the others” (p. 170-71).

Rev. Clement Crock, in his discourses on the Apostles Creed, explains the phrase in that prayer “the communion of Saints,” writing: “…Every faithful Christian is included in the Church Militant.” And he defines the Church Militant as those who successfully wage spiritual combat each day. “The second group of the Communion of Saints is known as the Church Suffering. Its membership is composed of the suffering souls in Purgatory… We can safely conjecture that these souls can pray for us here on earth. But their own wounds, caused by their sins while on earth, can be healed only through suffering, or through our vicarious good works in their behalf. The last and highest division of the Communion of Saints is formed by the blessed in heaven and is known as the Church Triumphant. Not only is their time of strife and probation over, but they are already crowned as conquerors with an incorruptible crown of indescribable beauty. They are those who form as it were a continual triumphal procession around the throne of the Lamb, giving thanks for the grace of victory… And what a glorious throng they must form! …What a consolation for us to know that we are already united with those other two groups that form the Communion of Saints!

“What is the bond that binds these three groups together, making them one communion, members of one another? …This bond first of all must be in the mind, in the heart and in the soul.  The thoughts of the blessed in heaven often go back to those whom they have left here below, mourning their going.  It was here they fought and won their victory and here the foundations of their sanctity were laid. Surely they will remember us who have come forward to fill their places… The blessed in heaven often turn their thoughts to the holy souls in purgatory. Many among them have, perhaps, experienced the same purifying flames. …In turn the thoughts of the poor souls in purgatory, the Church suffering, must dwell a great deal upon the blessed in heaven… the object of all their hopes and longings. We are also taught that they frequently turn their thoughts to us below… And we, the Church Militant, …turn our thoughts and eyes… towards heaven and to the poor souls in purgatory… The Church Militant, Triumphant and Suffering, like a spider’s web, is knit firmly together by the more powerful bond of good deeds, mutual help and influence.”

If those in Heaven and Purgatory can be full-fledged members of the Mystical Body, yet be invisible, why is it so difficult for so many to believe that the Church in these times can still be members of that same Body, yet enjoy only a limited visibility? Many Traditionalists maintain that membership in Christ’s Mystical Body is available only to those who attend Mass and receive the Sacraments, and this is true. The error lies in their belief that they actually attend valid Masses and receive valid and licit Sacraments when they most certainly do not. Nor have they ever proven the validity of the orders they purportedly received during an interregnum in direct violation of Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, Pope Pius VI’s Charitas and Pope Pius IX’s Etsi Multa. These are infallible decisions and proclamations of the Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils which they cannot question. All these teachings and decisions are against their arguments, and none exist to support their claims.

St. Robert Bellarmine’s definition of the Church is often used by the Church Herself: “The Church is a union of men who are united by the profession of the same Christian faith and by participation in the same sacraments, under the direction of their LAWFUL pastors, especially of the one representative of Christ on earth, the Pope of Rome.”(de Eccl. Mil 2). To this definition, Pope Pius XII adds in Mystici Corporis that these members must also obey all the same laws. Of course Traditionalists get the first part right and conveniently ignore the most important part about lawful pastors and subjection to the Roman Pontiff. And they are oblivious to the fact that this is not all the Church expects of us, nor can it be limited to Mass and Sacraments. Pope Pius XII wrote in Mediator Dei: “The people must offer themselves as victims…This offering is not in fact confined merely to the liturgical Sacrifice. For the Prince of the Apostles wishes us, as Living Stones built upon Christ the cornerstone, to be able ‘as a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ,’” (I Peter 2: 5). This is what we must do today, to “fill up what is wanting to Christ’s passion.” We must assume all the dignities of that holy priesthood “in the absence of the hierarchy” as Pope Pius XII also commanded us to do.

If we pray the Mass of St. John, or say our Mass prayers in the absence of the True Mass; if we offer our very selves on this altar of sacrifice willingly and in a spirit of resignation to God’s will each day — in obedience to His signified will, His laws — isn’t the Sacrifice, then, still renewed spiritually in a continual way?  In his The Mystery of Faith, Vol. I, Rev. de la Taille writes concerning chapters 5-16 of Apocalypse: “It is declared plainly that in the New Jerusalem which is to succeed the Church Militant, there would be neither Temple nor light, except God and the Lamb…Under these sacrificial symbols and metaphors we have an indication of some kind of heavenly and eternal worship,” consisting of Christ’s perpetual immolation eternally offered before the Throne of God.

St Gregory Nazianzan wrote: “What then? Will they forbid us their altars? Even so, I know of another altar, and the altars we see now are but a figure of it…All the activities ’round about that altar are spiritual; one ascends to it by contemplation. At this altar I shall stand, upon it I will make immolations pleasing to God, sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, better than those that are offered now…”(Ibid).  St. Thomas writes: “The state of the New Law is intermediate between the state of the Old Law…and the state of glory, in which all truth will be fully and perfectly manifested. Then there will be no more sacraments; but now, inasmuch as we see only through a glass darkly, we have to enter into spiritual things through sensible signs.” So either we are being offered a foretaste of life in our Eternal Home, and the Church will eventually be restored; or we are being prepared for the end of the world proper and the commencement of the life to come in a very intimate way.

The Poor Souls in Purgatory

But as catacomb Catholics, visible members of the Church yet unseen by the world at large, are we really doing everything we can today to fully participate in the functions of the Mystical Body as Our Lord intended? Always in the Church there were the contemplative orders, hidden from the world and suffering in silence, also lay people dedicated to a life of prayer and suffering, who offered their prayers and very existence as a living sacrifice to save souls. They were the indispensable “living stones” relied upon by the missionaries and parish priests throughout the world to assist in the Church’s mission to procure the salvation of souls. Who has taken their place today? Who is left to pray for the conversion of sinners, the dying, the poor souls in Purgatory? Who? Only those of us who truly believe that we must now take the place of the many good souls who once labored for the Church can fill this void. Those of us who believe we must do our best to constitute that holy priesthood spoken of by Pope Pius XII are the ones called to this end times vocation.  But where do we best direct our efforts?

While our contemporaries today are convinced that they must serve in the soup kitchens, care for the homeless, advocate for illegal immigrants and the mentally ill and generally champion the underdogs of the world, calling this charity toward their neighbors, they need to reassess their efforts. Certainly these efforts do not go without their reward, but the Church, if She functioned today, would not classify all these needy people as truly worthy of care. Even in the Middle Ages, the Church warned abbots of monasteries and abbesses of convents against being taken in by “sturdy beggars.” In many ways we cannot make a difference in their lives without their cooperation, which often they are unwilling or unable to give. This would be a special mission of the Church and should be a priority of those in power, but we know today that this cannot be reasonably expected. And we are not able to supply for this deficiency. Better that we remember them in our prayers and help in the situations closer to home we are better informed about when they arise, than to practice charity indiscriminately.

The Doctors of the Church tell us that charity can be performed in a much better fashion. According to Assist the Souls in Purgatory, a little booklet issued in the 1940s by the Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration, (Clyde, Mo.), St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that mercy shown to the poor souls is more pleasing to God than if shown to the living. St. Francis de Sales also said, according to this booklet: “This one act of mercy towards the poor souls comprises the thirteen others, the spiritual and the corporal.” And finally, the booklet notes, St. Robert Bellarmine taught in one of his sermons: “He who espouses the cause of the Poor Souls and is charitable towards them performs a far greater act than if he had given a most generous alms to a poor person here on earth.” It is important today for Catholics to understand the truly dire consequences the Poor Souls are facing during these fearful times, when they have so few to advocate for them and there are no Masses to offer for their release.

All the works published on Purgatory confirm that the most efficacious means of securing the release of a soul from Purgatory is to offer Masses for them and assist at as many Masses as possible for them. This is the teaching of the Council of Trent. As catacomb Catholics we can certainly offer our spiritual Masses before the heavenly altar, but there also is a way that we can offer everything we do each day for the Poor Souls. Considering their extremity, those who feel called to this practice should embrace it. That practice is called the Heroic Act of Charity, and it consists in offering to God in favor of the Souls in Purgatory all the works of satisfaction (what we do to make up for our sins, either here or in purgatory), we practice during life and all the suffrages that will be offered for us after death” (Read Me or Rue It by Rev. Paul O’Sullivan, p. 26). This includes the indulgences attached to these works of satisfaction. One formula for this act reads as follows:

“Dear Lord, for the love of Thy Precious Blood, I wish to make an heroic offering of all the good works I do in life: in satisfaction for the temporal punishment do to my many sins, and of all the prayers offered up for me after death, in favor of those souls whom Our Blessed Mother wishes to deliver from the pains of Purgatory. Amen” (Jesus, Mary, Joseph Novena Manual, Fr. Stedman). Adding the Poor Souls to the intentions of our Morning Offering each day will keep their needs and our intentions in sharper focus.

While this act may seem daunting to those who make it, they are still free to pray for themselves, their friends and any other intentions. In all the works on Purgatory consulted for this article, the authors assure us that those who makes this act will be assisted by the Poor Souls when they die and during any time they themselves must spend in Purgatory. Numerous examples are given of the Holy Souls assisting such individuals at the hour of death and shortening their Purgatory. While certainly this is not a motive for making the act, it is a consolation that removes some of the fear of losing our own good works to remit the pains we will most likely suffer in Purgatory.

There also are several other ways to alleviate the sufferings of the Poor Souls, whether offering the Heroic Act or not. These are:

  • Recitation of the Rosary — The rosary is one of the most indulgenced prayers in the treasury of the Church. A plenary indulgence may be gained at the end of a novena in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. A partial indulgence may be gained for five years each time the rosary is said, ten years, once a day, when the rosary is said with others, five years each day a rosary is said in connection with a novena in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. On the feast of the Holy Rosary, a plenary indulgence may be gained for each devout visit in front of an image of Our Lady. Plenary indulgences also have been granted for saying the Rosary each day during the octave of the feast, on the feast and after the octave.
  • Prayer between the Rosary decades — As we have discussed in our previous blog entries and on the website, the current prayer commonly said during the Rosary decades is not the prayer given to the children at Fatima by Our Lady. That prayer, by all credible accounts, reads: “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, relieve the souls in Purgatory especially the most abandoned.” This is a different version of the prayer than was reported in the book, The Phantom Church in Rome, but further study leads us to believe it is the correct prayer. Catholics know that the third secret of Our Lady’s Fatima message predicted the infiltration and destruction of the Church and the terrible times that have followed. It would seem that the requests of Our Lady for recitation of the Rosary, also prayers and sacrifices were not heard by enough Catholics to prevent this frightful calamity we are now experiencing.

Our Lady knew the papacy would be overthrown and the Mass would cease. This is why she asked that this little prayer be inserted between the decades for the Poor Souls – it was their only hope of shortening their terrible sufferings. It explains why this prayer was falsified and those fighting to maintain the current prayer are so adamant about its authenticity. True Catholics know that it smacks of the teachings of Vatican 2, intimating that “all souls” may be saved by reciting this prayer during the rosary. Who cares about Purgatory of “all souls” can anticipate heaven?! It is not known how or why it was changed, but seeing what happened after 1960, when Lucia dos Santos said things would “become clearer,” we know that the fight was to shift the emphasis from anything that would indicate the Church had been hijacked by the usurpers.  To this day, few accept the reality that Antichrist reigned from Rome just as Our Lady prophesied at La Salette, and his “line” has perpetuated his reign to this day.

  • The Way of the Cross — Those who devoutly make the Way of the Cross gain a plenary indulgence.
  • Other Indulgences — those wishing to gain an indulgence for themselves or the Poor Souls must possess the intention to gain the specified indulgence and be in the state of sanctifying grace. Short, indulgenced ejaculations are the easiest way to assist those in Purgatory. There are numerous of these ejaculations and other short prayers listed in the Raccolta that will help alleviate the torments of the Poor Souls.
  • The Pardon Cross — One of the most richly indulgenced sacramentals is the Pardon Cross. the Pardon Cross is an indispensable recourse at the hour of death for those in the latter days, and a powerful aid for the souls in Purgatory. The following indulgences were bestowed upon the Pardon Crucifix by Pope St. Pius X in 1905 and approved in the pardon of the living and the souls in Purgatory in 1907. The lengths of the indulgences were repealed in the new Enchiridion, and the indulgences were granted to remit the guilt of the sin committed:

Whoever carries on his person the Pardon Crucifix, may thereby gain an indulgence:

  1. For devoutly kissing the Crucifix, an indulgence is gained.
  2. Whoever says one of the following invocations before this crucifix may gain each time an indulgence: “Our Father who art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “I beg the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray to the Lord our God for me.”
  3. Whoever, habitually devout to this Crucifix, will fulfill the necessary conditions of Confession and Holy Communion, may gain a Plenary Indulgence on the following feasts: On the feasts of the Five Wounds of our Lord, the Invention of the Holy Cross, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Immaculate Conception, and the Seven Sorrows (Dolors) of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  4. Whoever, at the moment of death, fortified with the Sacraments of the Church (something that does not apply when they are unavailable), or contrite of heart, in the supposition of being unable to receive them, will kiss this Crucifix and ask pardon of God for his sins, and pardon his neighbor, will gain a Plenary Indulgence.
  • Almsgiving — Any acts of charity we perform on behalf of the Poor Souls will also count as works that will shorten their time in Purgatory.
  • Reading Holy Scripture — 300 days for 15 minutes of reading; a plenary indulgence if these readings are continued for one month.
  • Penance — Our Lord told Lucia dos Santos in 1943: “The sacrifice demanded by everyone is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require.” This is elaborated upon by a South American apostle who left us a wealth of teaching on the true nature of penance and how we may practice it today.

Rev. Mateo Crawley-Boevey’s apostolate was ordered by Pope St. Pius X, blessed by Pope Benedict XV, directed and expanded by Pope Pius XI and confirmed by Pope Pius XII. In his Jesus King of Love, Rev. Crawley-Boevey tells us: “If your health does not permit of your using instruments of penance, just live your life as God planned it for you. Such a course of action will be a more painful mortification than any bodily penance, but accept all with great love… Never doubt that the best of crosses, the safest, the most divine, is always that one which Jesus Himself ordains without consulting us. A cross which is not of our own choosing is undoubtedly the heaviest to bear, not because of the cross itself, for that which Our Lord sends us is always more bearable and sanctifying than one of our own making, but because we are so fickle and capricious, even in our efforts to attain sanctity…

“The severest penance, even in the cloister, is the physical pain and moral anguish which God, in his wisdom and mercy, ordains for our sanctification. This includes, illness, sorrows, inclemency of weather, work, contradiction and lack of resources. We can make use of these penitential garments a hundred times a day, even a hundred times an hour! …Calvary is to be met with even in our own homes, where we encounter the cruel sufferings of disappointments, loss of fortune, sorrow, even death itself… A chronic invalid may lead as penitent a life as a Carthusian.  A mother whose heart, like that of Mary, is pierced with sorrows — yet who blesses and rejoices in her martyrdom — is a penitent and a martyr of the highest order, a real marvel of grace.” And yet, Rev. Crawley-Boevey notes, “Many flee in consternation at the slightest pinprick and refuse to taste even a drop of His bitter chalice.” Their only prayer, he quotes from St. Teresa of Avila, is “’From thy cross and my crosses deliver me O Lord!’”

Such is the nature of suffering and penance. How difficult it is today to fulfill our daily duties when so many other pressing matters demand our attention and time. And yet our best efforts in this process is the very thing God wishes to use for our sanctification and the deliverance of the Poor Souls from their penitential prison.

Our interaction with the Poor Souls

We know from Church teaching that those in Purgatory are there to expiate the temporal punishment for sin as well as the stains of venial sins. The saints and theologians teach they suffer the torments of a fire that far exceeds any conception we have of the pain suffered from earthly fire. Some are tormented alternately by ice and cold, then fire. Some suffer only briefly; others suffer for centuries, even until the end of the world. There are “special” types of Purgatory for certain souls and degrees of suffering in Purgatory. Some saints and holy people teach that certain parts of Purgatory can resemble paradise, and this may be the case, as St. Bede believed, of those nearing release from Purgatory and those whose sins were slight and more easily purged, as in the case of children.

It may surprise readers to know that in many ways the souls in Purgatory are much better off then we here below; we are more like them now than ever before in the history of the Church. Rev. Keppler, quoted above, tells us that they are in continual union with God, they are perfectly conformed to His will, they are perfectly content to be where they are for as long as God desires, they do not commit even the smallest faults, they are comforted by the angels, they are certain of their salvation, “and even their most bitter bitterness is wrapped in peace” (pgs. 56-57). These are the joys of the poor souls, as described by St. Bernardine of Siena; that and their joy in suffering and their assurance they will contemplate the Beatific Vision. “But not withstanding these advantages, their condition is very painful and truly deserving of our compassion” Keppler reminds his readers.

While they sorrow over no longer being able to atone for sins by penance on earth, which is why we must atone for them ourselves, there are other things they have in common with us. As Keppler quotes from a sermon on the Poor Souls: “Theirs is a miserable life. No bell calls them to the house of God, no altar chimes announce to them the moment of Consecration, they have no Sacrament of Penance, no Holy Communion…” (p. 194). This is only a recital of what we are lacking ourselves today. And we enjoy none of the joys Rev. Keppler attributes to these souls, namely, we  are open to committing faults and even grievous sins, we struggle each day to remain in union with God and be conformed to His will, and we pray fervently that we will be able to avoid the fires of hell. Is it possible that in this conformity with the Poor Souls we are closer to them than ever, and that what St. Thomas Aquinas said about those living after the death of Antichrist — that they would serve their Purgatory on earth — could actually be true?

We can only pray that this is the case. That we have our prayers and penances yet to offer for them, and that these are the hard-won fruits of our loss of Mass and Sacraments, also our inability to look to the Holy Father for guidance, may mean more in way of sacrifices than the offering of Masses and Communions. We still have our spiritual Masses and Communions to offer and like the widow and her mite, we can pray this is more meaningful in God’s eyes because it is all we have. One thing many may not know and appreciate is that the Poor Souls wish to gain our friendship and according to the revelations of various saints, they will advocate for us for remembering them in prayer, especially when we ourselves leave this earth. According to Rev. Keppler, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that the Poor Souls sympathize with the lot of their friends on earth, even though they do not know their exact circumstances. (Summa, 1a, ques. 8, ans. 8). He notes that the theologian Suarez and St. Robert Bellarmine conclude the Poor Souls can and do pray for the living (p. 87). He even opines that the Poor Souls can receive updated information about our state on earth from new arrivals there.

St. Catherine of Bologna and other saints and holy people testify that they have received great favors from the Poor Souls when they ask them to present their petitions to God the Father. We who are one body with these departed friends and brethren should address them as we would on earth, ask Our Blessed Mother and the saints in Heaven to succor them and beg Jesus to deliver them. Thus we will make good use of this wonderful “telephonic connection” that unites us all as members of Christ’s Mystical Body, in prayers, works, joys and sufferings each day. “Confidence in the Poor Souls and the practice of invoking them is deeply rooted in the hearts of our Catholic people,” Keppler wrote. “The blessed Cure of Ars used to say ‘Oh, if all of us but knew what a wonderful influence these Holy Souls have over the heart of God and what graces we can obtain through their intercession, they would not be so utterly forgotten; we must pray much for them, so that they may pray for us!’” (p. 89)… Keep up a continual intercourse with the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Let not a day pass without remembering them. ‘Make unto you friends… that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting life (Luke 16:9)’” (p. 196).

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The sincere internal assent Catholics owe papal pronouncements

The sincere internal assent Catholics owe papal pronouncements

 

+St. Peter’s Chair at Rome+

(See Unity Octave prayers following this post)

It has been suggested that in presenting some of the material on this site the opinions of questionable theologians have been used and therefore this destroys the arguments presented. Such statements only prove that a) the objectors have not read the site in its entirety and b) they have not comprehended the reasons for citing the various sources, even though these reasons are made quite clear in the course of the demonstrations. More to the point, it is not the opinions of these theologians that are presented as actual proofs here. Rather it is the sources they provide to document their cases, namely documents issuing from the Roman Pontiffs, the Ecumenical Councils, the Pontifical Congregations and the consensus of scholastic theologians.

Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton, in the January 1956 issue of the American Ecclesiastical Review (“Appraisal in Sacred Theology”), told his readers that “The theologian is expected not only to present accurate teaching, doctrine strictly in conformity with the statements of the Church’s magisterium, but also to prove or demonstrate the propositions he sets forth.” Proofs from divine revelation and Church teaching must accompany those things that are “objectively certain.” Reasons advanced for opinions must be “serious and highly pertinent.”  The theologians and other authors used to support what is written on this site are not cited primarily because of the author’s own specific reliability, but rather because of the proofs they present in their works and their loyalty to the Continual Magisterium. Their citation of numerous papal documents supporting their arguments is the most compelling reason for citing their works.

Even so, Fenton comments, “It is definitely not enough to have one’s teachings in harmony with those solemn judgments of the magisterium in which dogmas of the Catholic faith are defined.” Here Fenton cites the teaching of Pope Pius IX found in Tuas Libentur (DZ 1683) where the Pope reminds German theologians they must also “subject themselves to the doctrinal decisions set forth by the Pontifical Congregations and to those points of doctrine which are retained by the common and constant agreement of Catholics as theological truths which are so certain that to render opinions opposed to these points of doctrine, if not heretical, are at least deserving of some other theological censure.” In addition, those things also are forbidden which even approach heresy and non-infallible papal teachings, which also must be obeyed.

A tendency noted by Msgr. Fenton in another article, written before his departure from the Catholic University of America in the early 1960s, warns of yet a further danger — that of demeaning the teachings of the manuals of dogmatic theology used to demonstrate truths of faith to Catholic college students and to instruct seminarians.  “We are speaking…of the manuals in the field of fundamental dogmatic theology, which were in use and were influential at and after the turn of the twentieth century… Probably the most important of these manuals were those of Louis Billot, who will most certainly be counted among the very ablest of all the theologians who labored for the Church during the early part of this century. Even more widely known than the works of Billot were those of the Sulpician Adolphe Tanquerey. Many thousands of priests were introduced to the study of sacred theology, and particularly of fundamental dogmatic theology, by courses based on Tanquerey’s De Religione: De Christo Legato: De Ecclesia: De Fontibus Revelationis, the first of the three volumes of his Synopsis theologiae dogmaticae ad mentem S. Thomas Aquinatis accommodata. This particular volume had gone into its twenty-first edition in 1925. If the theses taught by Tanquerey were opposed to those of ‘the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages,’ then thousands of priests, educated during the first part of the twentieth century were being led into error by the men whom Our Lord had constituted as the guardians of His revealed message.” Here Rev. Fenton also mentions Revs. Garrigou-LaGrange, Van Noort, Devivier-Sasia, Yelle, DeGroot, E.S. Berry and many others.

Msgr. Fenton continues: “Now it is quite obvious that the common teaching of the manuals of fundamental dogmatic theology since the turn of the twentieth century has been the doctrine, which has been taught to the candidates for the priesthood within the Catholic Church, at least up until the past few months. We are dealing with books, which have been employed in teaching in seminaries and universities. If these books all contain common teaching opposed to or even distinct from genuine Catholic doctrine, then the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Catholic Church has been very much at fault during the course of the twentieth century.

It is quite obvious that the individual opinions of individual authors do not constitute Catholic doctrine and could not be set forth as such. But there is a fund of common teaching (like that which tells us that there are truths which the Church proposes to us as revealed by God, and which are not contained in any way within the inspired books of Holy Scripture), which is the unanimous doctrine of the manuals, and which is the doctrine of the Catholic Church. The unanimous teaching of the scholastic theologians has always been recognized as a norm of Catholic doctrine. It is unfortunate that today there should be some attempt to mislead people into imagining that it has ceased to be such a norm in the twentieth century.

The Catholic priest knows perfectly well that there is never going to be, and that there never could be, any ‘return’ to a more authentic Catholic doctrinal tradition through the abandonment of the common teaching of all the twentieth-century manuals of fundamental dogmatic theology. The living and infallible magisterium of the Catholic Church never abandons the most authentic Catholic tradition. That tradition is manifest in the teaching of the twentieth-century manuals, and in the condemnations of the various Modernistic propositions.”

It is this “fund of common teaching” that is consulted when weighing the worth of any given article or work used on this site, and if the teachings presented do not reflect that fund, then they are not quoted. Long before the “new theology” of Vatican 2 became the norm, Msgr. Fenton was down in the trenches doing all in his power to expose and defeat it. His many works, contained in this author’s library, provide a good sounding board for who and what was not in tune with Church teaching.

Anticipating Humani Generis

Prior to the issuance of Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis in Aug. 1950, Msgr. Fenton penned an admirable defense of the infallibility of papal encyclicals in a two-part article for the American Ecclesiastical Review. In opening statements to both articles, he emphasized the role played by those participating in the Vatican Council regarding the possibility of infallible statements in the encyclicals. In Part II he relates how, thanks to (then) Abp. Henry Edward Manning and Bishop Ignatius Senestry, the Council rejected the teaching that “the Holy Father can speak infallibly only when he solemnly proclaims a dogma of Divine faith or when he solemnly condemns some teaching as heretical.” It is clear from the excerpts below that Catholics are bound even by non-infallible statements in the encyclicals and are certainly irrevocably bound by those papal encyclicals and other papal documents, according to Humani Generis, entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis. This is precisely what was stated in the article Material-Formal Hypothesis Condemned As Heresy under Recent Articles on the content page of this site.

“Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals,” Pt. I; American Ecclesiastical Review, Aug. 1949

“Most theologians… insist the [Holy Father] has the right to demand, and actually has demanded, a definite and unswerving internal assent to his [encyclical] teachings from all Catholics… This sincere assent… due to teachings presented even in a non-infallible way …is definitely and seriously obligatory. The obligation holds until such time as the Church might come to modify its position on some particular portion of the teaching or …serious reasons for such modification might become apparent… The Catholic’s duty to accept the teachings conveyed in the encyclicalseven when the Holy Father does not propose such teachings as a part of his infallible magisterium is not based merely on the dicta of the theologians. The authority which imposes this obligation is that of the Roman Pontiff himself.” And here he cites the teachings of the Vatican Council and Pope Pius IX’s Tuas Libentur. Msgr. Fenton further points out that such an assent also must be extended to the non-infallible decisions of the various Roman Congregations.

“Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals,” Pt. II; American Ecclesiastical Review, Sept. 1949

Fenton wrote: “According to the Vatican Council… the Church can teach infallibly by solemn judgment or by its ordinary and universal magisterium” (DZ 1792). After explaining at length in both parts of his article that a good number of theologians deny this clear teaching or simply gloss over it, in Part II he details the dangers of this attitude and demonstrates where it had led at the time of his writing. “There is an attitude [of theologians] towards the encyclicals that can be productive of doctrinal evil and …lead toward a practical abandonment of their teaching. According to this attitude, it is the business of the theologian to distinguish two elements in the content of the various encyclicals. One …would be the deposit of genuine Catholic teaching which …all Catholics are bound to accept at all times.

“The other …would be a collection of notions current at the time the encyclicals were written. These notions… would enter into the practical application of Catholic teaching, as ideas Catholics can afford to overlook… This attitude can be radically destructive of a true Catholic mentality. The men who have adopted this mentality imagine they can analyze the content of an individual encyclical or a group of encyclicals in such a way that they can separate the pronouncements which Catholics are bound to accept from those which would have merely an ephemeral value. They, as theologians, would then tell the Catholic people to receive he Catholic principles and do as they liked about the other elements. In such a case, the only true doctrinal authority actually operative would be that of the individual theologian.”

In other words, the authority of the theologian, not the Holy Father himself, would be used to determine what was recommended for Catholic belief, Fenton points out. “It is very difficult to see where this process would stop,” Fenton continues. “The men who would adopt this course would inevitably force themselves to treat all the doctrinal pronouncements of the Popes after the fashion of the teachings of private theologians… If a man chooses to dissect the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII, there is no reason why the documents which emanate from Gelasius or from St. Leo I should not be subject to the exact same process. If the statements of Pius IX are not valid exactly as they stand, it is difficult to see how those of any other Roman Pontiff are any more authoritative.” Msgr. Fenton notes that while private theologians are obligated and privileged to study the encyclicals and explain them to the people, they are forbidden to interpret them.

“The Holy Father, however, not the private theologian, remains the doctrinal authority. The theologian is expected to bring out the content of the Pope’s actual teaching, not to subject that teaching to the type of criticism he would have a right to impose on the writings of another private theologian… The pronouncements of the Roman Pontiffs, acting as the authorized teachers of the Catholic Church, are definitely not subject to that sort of evaluation… This tendency to consider the pronouncements of the ecclesia docens, and particularly the statements of the papal encyclicals, as utterances which must be interpreted for the Christian people, rather than explained to them, is definitely harmful to the Church. It is and it remains the business of Catholic theologians to adhere faithfully to the teachings of the encyclicals and to do all in their power to bring this body of truth accurately and effectively to the members of Christ’s Mystical Body.”

Today we have those who are not even clerics spouting the opinions of the very remiss theologians Msgr. Fenton describes above as though it were gospel. This in spite of the fact that in Humani Generis Pope Pius XII declared the encyclicals (and even papal addresses) can and often do contain infallible statements. Anything entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis is binding, and even what is not there entered deserves a firm internal assent. This is not just the opinion of Msgr. Fenton, but of the majority of theologians, even before Pope Pius XII’s definition. Instead there are many who continue to teach today that the encyclicals are open to interpretation and still do not bind. Unless they wish to be counted among the nouvelle “theologians” who later became the architects of Vatican 2, they would do well to cease and desist and follow only the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs, in their entirety.

 

 

Unity Octave Prayers

Pope Leo XIII first suggested the following prayers in 1897 when he asked Catholics to pray for Christian unity by reciting a novena. Later, the actual Church Unity Octave was established and blessed by Pope St. Pius X in 1909, who set the dates for the Octave. Prayers begin with the date of the Chair of St. Peter  (Jan. 18) and end with the Conversion of St. Paul, (Jan. 26). Pope Benedict XV extended its observance to the Universal Church on Feb. 25, 1916. All today should join in these prayers.Priest: How the Sacred Heart must grieve to behold so many divisions among Christian Churches separated from the one true Church He founded.  Pray that Christ’s plea may be realized:

ANTIPHON: (Cantor) Ut omnes unum sint, sicut tu Pater in me* et ego in te; ut et ipsi in nobis unum sint, ut mundus credat* quia tu me misisti. (John 17: 21)(Translation: That they may all be One, as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou has sent me.)

  1. (Priest) “I say unto thee, that thou art Peter;”
  2. (All) “And upon this Rock I will build My Church.”

Priest:  LET US PRAY. O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst say to Thine Apostles: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you,” regard not our sins but the Faith of Thy Church, and grant unto her that peace and unity which are agreeable to Thy Will.  Who livest and reignest, God forever and ever.

All: Amen

Prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians, to Protect the Church

All: Mary, Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother, thou seest how the Catholic Faith is assailed by the devil and the world – that Faith in which we purpose, by the help of God, to live and die – Do thou, O Help of Christians, renew thy victories as of old, for the salvation of thy children.To thee we entrust our firm purpose of never joining assemblies of heretics.  Do thou, all holy, offer to thy Divine Son our resolutions and obtain from Him the graces necessary for us to keep them unto the end.  Bring consolation to the visible head of the Church – support the Catholic Episcopate; protect the clergy and the people who proclaim thee Queen.  Hasten, by the power of thy prayers, the day when all nations shall be gathered around the Supreme Pastor.  Amen.Priest:  Mary, Help of Christians,

ALL:  Pray for us.
(Those praying the Octave are asked to direct each day to the following intentions):Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 18: The return of all the “other sheep” to the one fold of St. Peter, the One Shepherd.
Jan. 19: The return of all Oriental Separatists to Communion with the Apostolic See.
Jan 20: The submission of Anglicans to the Authority of the Vicar of Christ.
Jan 21: That the Lutherans and all other Protestants of continental Europe may find their way back to the Holy Church.
Jan 22: That Christians in America may become one in communion with the Chair of St. Peter.
Jan. 23: The return to the Sacraments of lapsed Catholics.
Jan. 24: The conversion of the Jews.
Jan. 25: The Missionary conquest of the world for Christ.

 

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Defending sources used on this site

Defending sources used on this site

+Our Lady of Prompt Succour+

 

This is the introduction to Priests’ Problems, by Canon E.J. Mahoney, D.D., who one reader has accused of being a liberal nobody in the theological world. (This because some cannot accept the fact that several popes, to some degree unknown, have reportedly provided secret jurisdiction to certain oriental schismatic sects.) Far from being a nobody, it appears Can. Mahoney was considered knowledgeable enough to advise numerous priests in Ireland and England for over two decades. The Clergy Review was the equivalent of Homiletic and Pastoral Review and the American Ecclesiastical Review in this country. People who don’t have access to the actual theological works (or to the Internet for that matter) should refrain from making specious objections.

 

This same individual also has disparaged Rev. Ignatius Szal’s The Communication of Catholics With Schismatics (1948) because Rev. Szal later became a member of the Novus Ordo Church. This individual claims to have read his work and intimates Szal’s conclusions are not in keeping with pre-V2 dogmatic theology. Of course this same person questions whether Pope Pius XII was a true pope and is also a member of the Feeney sect. And as is so often the case, no proof whatsoever for these claims is offered.

 

While Szal later fell from grace, his work was soundly based on papal decrees and decisions of the Holy Office. Both prior and later theological works confirm what he presented in his dissertation. In no way whatsoever does his work deviate from what other leading and orthodox theologians taught prior to Pope Pius XII’s death regarding the status of schismatics. When King Henry VIII became a notorious heretic and left the Church, the Church did not denounce his Defense of the Seven Sacraments following his excommunication, a work which earned him the title of Defender of the Faith by Pope Leo X. The practice of the Church, not human opinion, must be followed in these uncertain times. And certainly Canon Mahoney and Rev. Szal’s works, being approved prior to the death of Pope Pius XII, are superior by far to anything concocted by Traditionalists of whatever shade.

 

The works of approved authors quoted on this site are nothing in themselves; their value is deduced from the faithfulness they demonstrate regarding papal teaching. That is why they are quoted. Notice also above that Rev. McReavey, who succeeded Can. Mahoney, notes that always those answers given must be reconciled with the most recent decisions of the Holy See and papal decrees. This is something that all those pretending to be devoted to the study of pre-V2 theology today fail to do.

 

The sources I have quoted are sound; if they deviate from the faith in any way then those making this claim are obligated to demonstrate how and where and present solid proofs. Unless and until this occurs, the use of these authors stands.

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The Communion of Saints and Devotion to the Poor Souls in Purgatory

The End of Traditional “Catholicism”

 

+The Epiphany+

 

We hear much these days about political conservatives and their connections to white supremacy ideology, also known as Christian Identity or British Israel (BI). British Israel is the belief that the people of the British Isles, genetically, racially and linguistically are the descendants of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. In other words, the people of Great Britain (and by way of descent, the U.S.) have become the “new Israel,” or chosen people and are basically blood descendants also of the Davidic line. Many believe that the rulers of England are blood relations of King David, and that the throne on which the English kings are consecrated sits over the same stone used to consecrate the Israelite kings. Christian Identity beliefs in America later evolved from this theory.

 

While politicians and Christian clerics deny white supremacy is linked to this belief, it may well be true to an extent few would be willing to believe. Certainly not all Christian Conservatives embrace this belief system. But many of those who do have gone to great lengths to conceal their true beliefs in order to pass as everyday Christians. Sadly, this applies to Traditionalists every bit as much as it does to Protestants. And In fact, the name Traditionalists chose for themselves long ago itself may be a clue to who and what they truly are.

 

But first, a brief personal history of my experience with white supremacy as a Traditionalist. The very first (and only) Trad group I joined, the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement, had its own branch, so to speak, which promoted these White Supremacist beliefs. I handled mail for a Traditionalist ORCM “priest,” Dan Jones, from 1980 until 1982, and also wrote for his newsletter, Sangre de Cristo Newsnotes. Anyone who subscribed to that newsletter into the 1990s knows Jones was advocating for and posting advertisements from (Protestant) Christian Identity groups and individuals, and he received mail criticizing him for this. He also printed a long series promoting the “Siri” theory, beginning in the late 1980’s. Certain members of the Siri group also promoted British Israel.

 

I left Jones’ group in 1982, after a showdown with him over an article he had instructed me to write for his newsletter, sympathetic to Identity beliefs. I pulled the article before it went into print and for this and other disturbing reasons, friends and I left Jones at about the same time. The next group I would become involved with also espoused Identity-related and other Gnostic beliefs, and after nine months I left them as well. I would run into yet another Trad group in the early 2000s that promoted British Israel (synonymous with Christian Identity), and by then I understood this belief was somehow intertwined with the Traditionalist movement, so I quickly rejected the ideas presented in their literature.

 

This tendency in Traditionalism had been evident from the beginning, following the publication of the book ghostwritten by a fellow Mexican for the Mexican dissident priest Rev. Joaquin Saenz-Arriaga in the early 1960s (The Plot Against the Church). It was Saenz who helped establish the ORCM in the U.S. He also was patronized by the publication Veritas, which was notorious for its anti-Semitic bias. This periodical, published every other month, was quite popular among Traditionalists. It seems that for the most part, then, Traditionalists seemed to willingly assimilate Identity teaching — at least insofar as they blamed the Jews for dismantling their Church — into their own brand of Catholic belief.

 

But that belief contradicts Catholic teaching. In his encyclical Mit Brenunder Sorge, written in 1937 shortly before the beginning of World War II in Europe, Pope Pius XI wrote: “Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the state, or a particular form of state, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the community… above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God… He is far from the true faith in God.” In a later address to Belgian pilgrims on Sept. 6, 1938, Pius XI said: “Abraham is called our patriarch, our ancestor. Through Christ and in Christ we are the spiritual descendants of Abraham… No, it is not possible for Christians to take part in anti-Semitism… [For] Spiritually, we are Semites.”

 

Let’s then compare the beliefs of “Christian” Identity, defined by Pope Pius XI as a contradiction in terms, with his teaching on this subject. Christian Identity began as British Israel. One source quotes John Henry Cardinal Newman as commenting that he became a Catholic precisely because the BI philosophy had totally taken over the Anglican church! This tells us there is no affinity between Catholic belief and BI/ ”Christian” Identity. The earliest book on BI appeared in England in 1590 and another work was published there in 1649.They hold the white race as the only race chosen by God to rule the nations and by and large have always discriminated against people of color.

 

The Ku Klux Klan has been associated with Identity beliefs. These proliferated in America in the 20th century, and were promulgated by Henry Ford, Fr. Charles Coughlin and others. Fr. Coughlin was asked by the Vatican to stop preaching BI on the radio in the 1930s by none other than Pius XII, then acting as Pius XI’s cardinal Secretary of State. He personally came to the U.S. to speak to Coughlin. Some claim the deal Pius XII cut with Coughlin was entirely political, but in reality it reflected everything later taught doctrinally by Pius XI in Mit Brenunder Sorge.

 

Pius XI forbade Catholics to exalt any one race or people over the other. That means Identity groups could not teach that they alone were destined to rule over other races based on their “divine” Davidic bloodline, or any other pagan ideal of racial supremacy (some claim “Atlantean” descent and its superior technological knowledge, reminiscent of Sir Francis Bacon’s work). Pius XI also condemns the idolatry of a particular form of state or government, (National Socialism, or for that matter what we see today as the positive idolatry of democracy as the only acceptable form of government, a concept rejected by the Church). And finally he condemns anti-Semitism outright in his radio address to the Belgians. He then goes on to announce that it is Catholics, (not Protestant Identity groups) who are descended from the Israelites and explains that such a descendance is not in the physical or any other sense but is strictly spiritual. The Jews were the physical descendants and Catholics are the spiritual descendants, encompassing both Old and New Testaments. Christ spiritualized everything, fulfilling all foretold regarding His birth, life and death in the Old Testament. Holy Scripture tells us to “avoid foolish questions and genealogies and contentions and strivings about the law” (Titus 3:9).

 

It appears there may have been (and most likely still is) a so-called “Catholic” secret society known as the Priory of Sion which Marcel Lefebvre and other clerics belonged to that embraced a philosophy similar to Identity. Lefebvre’s various religious establishments went by the name of “priories.” He is said to have resigned from the Priory in 1981. This society may have promoted the belief that certain members of the Catholic clergy are descended from Christ Himself and Mary Magdalene, reviving the old Gnostic heresy that Christ somehow did not die during His Crucifixion and escaped with Mary Magdalene to France, or some other location, there to father children. Another version of this blasphemous heresy would have the clergy and faithful descended from the family of Our Lady pre-eminent by blood in the Church, a heresy proposed by a faction of the Judaizers which was condemned in the early centuries by Pope St. Sylvester. This heresy also involved the descendants of Jesus’ family, who claimed that Jerusalem, not Rome was the intended center of Christianity.

 

Regardless of what any of these revolting beliefs might be, we know that no one could possibly adopt them and remain Catholic. But apparently, this has not stopped Traditionalists from joining forces with Identity groups and thus automatically resigning any Church membership they may have once possessed. That this occurred either before, or at the very establishment of Traditionalism is demonstrated by the name ‘Traditionalist’ itself, as we have commented in other places. The name was used to lure dissident Catholics unhappy with Vatican 2, who believed Tradition referred to the preservation of the Latin Mass and the supposed continuation of the Catholic Church.

 

They were largely ignorant of the earlier error by this same name (Traditionalism) as it was proposed by Lammenais, Bonald and Bonetty. Nor did they understand that it was condemned as a heresy and why it was condemned by the Church, although those “clerics” establishing and heading various sects across the U.S. and internationally were obligated under Canon Law and papal teaching to warn the faithful of such dangers. (See the article on the heresy of Traditionalism at http://catholicencyclopedia.newadvent.com/cathen/15013a.htm. This condemned belief holds that universal agreement is the rule of certitude as well as the rule of faith and must be trusted because man cannot rely on his reason, which totally contradicts the Vatican Council’s teaching on reason. And it is absolutely the principle adopted by supposedly “Catholic” Traditionalists.

 

In examining the various meanings of Traditionalism in all its varieties, as demonstrated on Wikipedia, we discover that none of them are Catholic and several can be classified as corresponding to some “Traditional Catholic” beliefs. Identity believers actually refer to themselves as Traditionalists supposedly of the political/conservative variety and this comes closest to what is identified as the Traditionalist School. But this is only a revival of the old Traditionalism condemned by the Church, with connections to dangerous far right movements today. There is also Spanish Traditionalism with its attempt to revive the Bourbon monarchy of Spain, referred to on some Siri sites as affiliated with the Great Monarch and “Catholic Restoration.” It is a broad, all-inclusive term that can mean a number of different things, none of them Catholic.

 

Whatever nonsense they believe, it is not the teaching of the Roman Pontiffs, as demonstrated above. Catholics do not listen to the teachings of men, only the teachings of the Church. No pope in history has ever approved Catholics persecuting Jews or anyone of another race or religious belief. And the Church has always identified Freemasonry, not Jewry, as the primary corrupting force in the Church (see the articles about the Jews at the top of our recent articles page.) One of the most dire consequences of this entire falsification of true Catholic Faith is that all those wishing to obey the Roman Pontiffs and keep the faith at home are now tarred with the same brush as those professing Identity beliefs. If they dare to defend the many contributions made by the Church to civilize the world, with the majority of those making these contributions of the white race, they are branded — even though this is an historical fact. If they object to the current trend of racial intermarriage on grounds that the Church has always supported — that the partner is not Catholic, their families may not be entirely happy about the union as a whole, the general climate of racial tension today deliberately created by the far left — they are branded.

 

If they strongly uphold the traditions of the Church and her teachings on the family, the rule of civil law, moral and social matters and embrace Catholic culture, they are branded, because those presenting as Catholic profess the same. They are racist if they oppose the unrestrained immigration of those from Mexico, a good number of whom are cartel members, gang members and seasoned criminals. Forget the common good of all who have every right to expect their government to protect them from such dangers. And although the Catholic Church has for centuries repelled the invasion of Muslim infidels (but has never approved the persecution of Muslims by Catholics), it is racist to even express the opinion this is unwise from a religious standpoint. So when they begin to hunt down the White Supremacists, no distinction will be made between Traditionalists and those simply trying to honor the teachings of Divine Revelation as confirmed by the continual magisterium. This even though this author has, since the 1980s, condemned BI/Identity as anti-Catholic, written books explaining this pernicious error, and posted articles to this website denouncing the Traditionalist position.

 

But maybe that was the plan all along — to get rid of the chaff along with the wheat. God, however, knows His own. In the end the message is the same: Those not obeying the laws and teachings of the Church are not Catholic. Traditionalism has been condemned by the Church, and all that issues from it, whether it calls itself Catholic or not. They are every bit as non-Catholic as any Protestant sect. We are not Traditionalists; and this is one of the primary reasons we long ago abandoned their ranks. Every effort has been made to warn the unwary of falling into this heretical trap, and we are done. The end of Traditionalism has arrived; no longer can it be considered Catholic IN ANY WAY, no more so than the Anglicans — who for decades following the Reformation insisted on calling themselves Catholics — or the Old “Catholics” of Germany who rejected the definition of papal infallibility.

 

What we see before us is the second Protestant Reformation, engineered by the Modernists and ultimately Freemasonry, gathering everything up that was once Catholic and twisting it into a bigoted, generic sort of “Christianity.” And this to fit their political purposes and the sick emotional needs of those they wish to deceive. We have no intention to continue beating this dead horse, and so the horse is buried here today. The epitaph on this spot reads: “Therefore God shall send them the operation of error to believe lying, that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity” (2 Thess. 2: 10-11).

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The Communion of Saints and Devotion to the Poor Souls in Purgatory

A ChristMass Cross  

+St. Sylvester+

I had every intention of wishing you all a Mary ChristMass this year, but God had other plans. And so belatedly I am here, since it is still the ChristMass season, to tell you a story inspired by an email sent by a reader.

 

For the past eight years, we have helped our son, who has some physical disabilities, raise his son. They lived just behind us and we were privileged to have been able to see him almost every day. He was a beautiful, delightful child, and I am not just saying this because he was my grandchild. He loved God, he was a bright, funny, caring, helpful little boy who wanted to be a soldier or policeman. He especially adored his dad more than anything and could never have survived being separated from him.

 

Our son was tormented, knowing the spiritual dangers he would be exposed to these days, especially in light of the fact that he and the child’s mother did not share the same Catholic beliefs. So he asked God to take him should he run the risk of losing his soul.

 

On Dec. 20, while traveling with his mother, he died instantly in a head-on collision when a car traveling in the opposite direction crossed over in front of his mother’s car. He had no visible injuries and was asleep when it happened. He was a sweet little guy, and one of the last things he did was to try and chop wood for his dad and bring it into the house to save him the time and trouble.

 

A friend, learning of the tragedy, sent me a photo of his ChristMass tree which bears a large cross. As a child, ChristMass was always a very special time for my family, as my parents were married the day after ChristMass and we celebrated our family’s founding that time of year. That carried over into our own families, and the families of our children. But then Dad died around ChristMass time, and this year our little grandson followed him the day after. On ChristMass Day, God gifted us with His only begotten Son. That gift was a parent’s love for His earthly children. And He sent His Son even though He knew that sweet Child was born for one reason and one reason only — to die for our sins.

 

Our family has been asked to return to God a precious gift He sent us and allowed us to enjoy for over eight years. As difficult and heartrending as that is, we are trying our best to accept it as our ChristMass cross and realize that nothing is too much to suffer if it means a soul could be spared. Please pray for our grandson, and our family.

 

Wishing all a blessed and peaceful New Year.

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