Through a Glass Darkly |
Through the Looking Glass of Vatican II John XXIII wanted to take the faithful. The journey has been going nowhere for 40 years and getting more dangerous each day as a surrealistic scene descends on reality. Like Alice in Wonderland they are lost and cannot trust the Cheshire cat, Tweedle-Dum, Tweedle-Dee, or any of the other characters that have popped up in the newchurch.
"And where is Peter, to whom the faithful have looked for two thousand years to be encouraged and confirmed in the faith of the Apostles? The sheep know the voice of the Shepherd, but what is this we hear about all men having the Spirit of God (though Jesus said the world could not receive Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him [John 14:17]), everyone going to Heaven, freedom of religion, two valid covenants, praying with unbelievers and idolaters, a New Theology, a New Mass, a New Pentecost, a New Church? In these things we do not hear the voice of the Shepherd, and we have fled in all directions from the heresy.
'I will smite the shepherd,' says the Lord, 'and the sheep will be scattered' (Mark 14: 27). The miracle is that we, though a remnant Church, are still strong in the faith. 'They've got the churches, but we've got the faith' (St. Athanasius) - the 'Faith of our fathers, living still.'"
Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for Quinquagesima Sunday, he stresses the importance of staying the course as he reminds us of today's Epistle in which the Apostle Paul references a mirror in reflecting what is truth and what is a mirage. The truths handed down for nearly 2000 years have been blurred by the flimsy film that covers the mirror into which Novus Ordinarian Catholics glance at today. While they see themselves as doing just fine and good Catholics if they are inclusive and tolerant of their neighbor, regardless of his sins, then they will be garbed in the white garment of grace and attain Heaven with little effort. In truth this mirror, as Holy Mother Church has always taught, is distorted like a circus mirror that doesn't provide a true image of a person's soul. Father points out how the Church has always safeguarded the Sacred Deposit of the Faith in all ages of heresies and today is no different; in fact far worse because of the great numbers who have been deceived. As John Paul II lays in a hospital bed, Father asks what accountability will be demanded, especially in light of the fact he did not take the Papal Oath demanded of every Sovereign Pontiff since St. Agatho. The present pope has been living in an Alice in Wonderland world, out of touch with reality and definitely out of touch with solid doctrine, seeking to establish new thrill rides like "the New Springtime" and the "Globalization Gallop" to hide the fact that it is all a facade and not what is reflected in the mirror of truth. Father concludes with a poem by the great G.K. Chesterton who reminds and remands us all to prepare for battle, to prepare for the worst for it must needs get darker before the Light will shine through. Father explains in his sermon "Through the Glass Darkly." [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]
Father Louis J. Campbell
"We see now through a mirror in an obscure manner," says St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12. How obscure it can get, we do not yet know. But it took extreme care and constant vigilance even in apostolic times to keep the Faith from being corrupted by heresy. Charged by Our Lord with the heavy responsibility of protecting and preserving the "deposit of faith" was St. Peter, the first pope: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:31,32).
Peter was soon busy encouraging the others and confirming the faith of the infant Church. The Apostles had to meet in Jerusalem as early as the year 49 A.D., to decide whether or not Gentile converts were obliged to keep the Mosaic Law, including circumcision. The Council of Jerusalem, over which St. Peter presided, and which all the living Apostles attended, including St. Paul, decreed that it was no longer necessary for Christians to keep the Jewish Law. This was only the first of twenty Church councils (or twenty-one if you want to count Vatican II) called together by the pope, or at least approved by him, to defend the Church and its traditional rites and teachings. A few years after the Council of Jerusalem St. Paul still found it necessary to declare to the Galatians, who had come under the influence of the Judaizers, heretics who still required the observance of the Mosaic Law:
"I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to the grace of Christ, changing to another gospel; which is not another gospel, except in this respect that there are some who trouble you, and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema!" (Galatians 1:6-8).
Heresy has raised its ugly head in every age, requiring the continuing vigilance of the successors of St. Peter to protect the deposit of faith. The popes themselves, since early times, as is evidenced by the oath taken by Pope St. Agatho in 681 AD, have sworn to uphold the received Tradition, that is, until the oath was refused by the last two conciliar popes. The oath, which reads like an expanded version of the words of St. Paul quoted above, reads in part:
"I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach upon, to alter, or to permit any innovation therein; To the contrary: with glowing affection as her truly faithful student and successor, to safeguard reverently the passed-on good, with my whole strength and utmost effort;… To guard the Holy Canons and Decrees of our Popes as if they were the Divine ordinances of Heaven, because I am conscious of Thee, whose place I take through the Grace of God, whose Vicarship I possess with Thy support, being subject to the severest accounting before Thy Divine Tribunal over all that I shall confess; I swear to God Almighty and the Savior Jesus Christ that I will keep whatever has been revealed through Christ and His Successors and whatever the first councils and my predecessors have defined and declared… Accordingly, without exclusion, We subject to severest excommunication anyone - be it ourselves or be it another - who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction to this constituted evangelic Tradition and the purity of the Orthodox Faith and the Christian Religion, or would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or would agree with those who undertake such a blasphemous venture" (Liber Diurnus Romanorum Pontificum, Patrologia Latina 1005, S. 54).
Surely there is a severe accounting to be made when one must search the ruins for anything that survives of the Church that was. Where are the good and holy bishops and priests, the prayerful and devoted nuns and brothers, the chant and the Catholic hymns, the processions, the devotions, the shrines, the pilgrims? Why the scandals, the fallen priests, the deserted convents, the decimated seminaries, the closed churches, the disheartened faithful?
And where is Peter, to whom the faithful have looked for two thousand years to be encouraged and confirmed in the faith of the Apostles? The sheep know the voice of the Shepherd, but what is this we hear about all men having the Spirit of God (though Jesus said the world could not receive Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him [John 14:17]), everyone going to Heaven, freedom of religion, two valid covenants, praying with unbelievers and idolaters, a New Theology, a New Mass, a New Pentecost, a New Church? In these things we do not hear the voice of the Shepherd, and we have fled in all directions from the heresy.
"I will smite the shepherd," says the Lord, "and the sheep will be scattered" (Mark 14: 27). The miracle is that we, though a remnant Church, are still strong in the faith. "They've got the churches, but we've got the faith" (St. Athanasius) - the "Faith of our fathers, living still."
We are seeing the darkness before the dawn, so the darkness itself should encourage us to believe that the Lord will soon come. These verses from G. K. Chesterton's poem, The Ballad of the White Horse, tell us to keep the faith, even in the darkest times:
From The Ballad of White Horse
"We see now through a mirror in an obscure manner, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I have been known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).