Today is the beautiful Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Just as the Blessed Mother's apparitions at a place best described then as a "sewer" along the Gave River in Southern France were a precursor to all that has followed from the mid 19th century to the present - a time of suffering that has reached every corner of the world - so also her Feast fronts the Season of Lent beginning on Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a very special day, the day we surrender all to Jesus Christ as His Heavenly Mother directs us to, the day we willingly place ourselves with Him at the Pillar, ready to suffer the slings and arrows He was subjected to so that we can be worthy of everlasting life merited by the Immolated Lamb upon the Cross. Mary knows His suffering, her heart was pierced by the sword of sorrows. She also knows our suffering and is always there to comfort us. In her motherly way she encourages us ceaselessly to submit ourselves body and soul to God's Holy Will. We are reminded of this through the 'Prayer of the ashes' in which the priest says: "Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris" - "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return."
For any sensitive feminists out there 'man' does not refer to gender but to the fallible, finite species of man - human being, if you will. Yet those who are out to desensitize the Bible will have a problem with that. But then, you probably won't find many of that ideology at Mass on Ash Wednesday - definitely not at a Tridentine Mass! That you can take to the bank.
Reverend Jerry or St. Jerome?
Someone else who is incensed about the desensitizing of the Bible is the Reverend Jerry Falwell. He's reasonably upset because Zondevan Publishing of Grand Rapids, Michigan, owned by Harper-Collins, is going to release a new gender-sensitive bible called the "New International Version" in April. How long will it be after that until the Bishops Conference authorize a 'catholic' version? I say that because the version Falwell is upset with is derived from the King James version. The Catholic Bible must be patterned on the Douay-Rheims Latin Vulgate version. The fact that today few of the modern aberrations are, speaks volumes. Lent is a time for offering up penance. If you have a modern missal it's a real - but unnecessary penance - to wade through the interpretation of translations. That is why pre-Vatican II missals for the most part are the Douay-Rheims version where you can be rest assured you are getting authentic translation, no question about it!
Now Falwell questions the new NIV on authenticity, and he has every right to for he is correct in sounding the whistle against such a travesty. But his argument plays right into the hands of those who see ecumenism for what it truly is as Pope Pius XI affirmed with his no-nonsense encyclical on true religious unity - Mortalium Animos. Those who have not read his excellent decree are missing, truly missing where Holy Mother Church stands. It is far from the direction being taken today by the post-conciliar church. In fact, the direction is far closer to Jerry than Jerome - as in Saint Jerome - than many realize.
Consider Falwell's comments about the NIV. "In my opinion, this new translation is an attempt to alter the Word of God to accommodate the present age, which is concerned with 'inclusiveness' and 'tolerance.' He also wrote, "The altering of God-inspired biblical meanings - important meanings! - for whatever reasons, especially the sole intent of satisfying politically-correct critics, is simply unforgivable."
We agree, but we ask the Reverend Falwell, what was the King James version but 'an altering of God-inspired biblical meanings'? What is the difference today from the altering of God-inspired biblical meanings' so expertly translated by St. Jerome, passed down through the uninterrupted traditions of the Church until the Protestant Reformation, when certain passages didn't jell with those who thought they had a better idea than what God had inspired? What is the difference? None! For to change something then Protestants have to admit they are dismissing that which has always been regarded by the Church. For it is the Church, founded by Christ, who has authoritatively and infallibly declared that all the books compiled by St. Jerome belong to the canon of inspired Sacred Scripture. Again the argument then was the same as it is today: to accommodate the present age! Despite the fact that those prevaricators changed 1 and 2 Kings to 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Paralipomenon to 1 and 2 Chronicles, Canticles to Song of Solomon, they also eliminated several books from the Latin vulgate: Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and both Books of the Machabees.
The Revival of the Malicious Machinations Against the Machabees
How convenient to drop those books, especially Machabees. How many realize the Book of Machabees chart the "end of the continual sacrifice" and "the abomination of desolation in the temple" in the Old Covenant foretold in Daniel? It's true, but then Protestants wouldn't know because they don't subscribe to the Bible that was perfectly acceptable to Christians from the fourth until the sixteenth century. You see, men like Martin Luther and John Calvin and the rest were doing the same thing that the promoters of the NIV version today and king Antiochus did in the Old Testament. It was this Judean ruler from Syria who, with the help of his high priests "set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God, and they built altars throughout all the cities of Juda round about...they sacrificed upon the altar of the idol that was over against the altar of God" (1 Machabees 57, 62). Read that carefully and compare it to the Novus Ordo tables which were set up 'over against the altar of God' until new temples could be built where the altar of God was totally expunged.
Just as this desecration and loss of true purpose didn't happen all at once in the Old Testament, so also it didn't happen overnight in the New Covenant circa the mid 20th century. As we have documented many times on these pages and many columns and articles in The DAILY CATHOLIC, especially last week's editorial, the erosion began at the Protestant Reformation when those who said they would not serve the Holy Church of Rome did the same as Antiochus, who "entered into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, and the table of proposition, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the little mortars of gold, and the veil, and the crowns and the golden ornament that was before the temple: and he broke them all in pieces" (1 Machabees 1: 23). This is exactly what the Protestant sects did in denying the One True Church by changing rubrics and liturgies and forsaking traditions.
The Council of Trent buttressed the Church back up, restoring the purity of the altar as the place of the continual sacrifice and set in stone forever the truths of the Faith, reaffirming the unchangeable doctrines of the Church founded by Christ. But the iconoclasm had already taken hold and over the centuries false religions cropped up, keeping some things but disgarding many that identified a church as truly 'Catholic.' No matter how many columns sprung up, trying to choke and smother into oblivion the one solid Pillar, the latter - the Holy Roman Catholic Church - remained sturdy. The aim then, because 'misery loves company' and because the 'Pillar' remained the only obstacle to their total anti-Catholic ideology, was to penetrate the Pillar, and seek to corrode its fittings by casting aspersions on the dogmas and traditions, by condoning beliefs and behaviors that were solidly adverse to what Our Lord preached.
Their logic: by infiltrating the Church's ranks they might possibly implode her. It was the only way to gain entrance since no avalanche of barrages cast upon it for nearly 2000 years had been successful. Therefore, in order to effect this the enemies of Holy Mother Church had to have operatives on the inside.
Pope Leo XIII and especially Pope Saint Pius X did all they could to safeguard the Church from these 'fifth columnists' with such strong defenses as the Prayer to Saint Michael and the Oath Against Modernism, plus the unyielding encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis But after Pius' death they made their move. Slowly but surely they bore into the Pillar, drilling liberal thoughts into young minds, permeating seminaries and universities. Errors spawned more errors. Men like Pius XI and Pope Pius XII tried to stave off their advances, but the die was cast. It was only a matter of time before the Pillar was compromised.
The Scourging at the Pillar
This permeation of modernism and error reached its saturation with the enablement of the liberal element by Pope John XXIII when he ordered schemas be sent to not only all the bishops but to countless other 'consultors' who used this door to squeeze in and plant themselves squarely inside the Pillar. Vatican II ennobled them to make their voices heard and become the 'new' thought in a Church they preached had grown out of touch. The truths are that Holy Mother Church had not lost touch; rather the world had lost touch with common sense and wisdom. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease and the progressives were greasing the Pillar with a thick waxy substance of ambiguity, relativism and rationalism with a huge gob of compromise mixed in where one didn't recognize the surface of the Pillar.
With this transformation carried out through the 'window' of Vatican II, it was virtually easy for them to tie, through intimidation, and then scourge, through persecution and sabotage, the Mystical Body of Christ at the Pillar. This then is the enactment of the second sorrowful mystery because it can be seen, in retrospect, how modernists came to power within, inflicting scars galore, stripping the mantle of sacrality by admitting into powerful decision making positions - periti - those who would rake the doctrines by introducing 'new' ideas that favored a humanistic agenda. Over these past 40 years the lashes have stung deeply as more scourgers have gathered around the Pillar and proceeded to further decimate the Mystical Body unmercifully with the whips of worldliness. Though they tried to extemporize the flagellation as nothing more than a few flesh wounds, it truly went much deeper as the precious Blood sorrowfully and scandalously blanketed the secular stone floor of neoism.
Thanks to the first of the dreaded phrases that has haunted Holy Mother Church for the past 40 years - 'aggiorimento' - we can look back on this saturation of 'new' ideology and realize the very same thing that happened to the people of Judas Machabeus a century and a half before the birth of the Savior, has happened today. Consider 1 Machabees 1: 40, "And the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled away by reason of them, and the city was made the habitation of strangers, and she became a stranger to her own seed, and her children forsook her." Want more? How about the following verses through verse 49: "Her sanctuary was desolate like a wilderness, her festival days were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach, her honors were brought to nothing. Her dishonor was increased according to her glory, and her excellency was turned into mourning. And king Antiochus wrote to all his kingdom, that all the people should be one: and every one should leave his own law. And all nations consented, according to the word of king Antiochus. And many of Israel consented to his service, and they sacrificed to idols, and profaned the sabbath. And the king sent letters by the hands of messengers to Jerusalem and to all the cities of Juda; that they should follow the law of the nations of the earth. And should forbid holocausts and sacrifices, and atonements to be made in the temple of God. And should prohibit the sabbath, and the festival days to be celebrated. And he commanded the holy places to be profaned, and the holy people of Israel."
If all of this sounds eerily familiar, then you realize the decimation and devastation caused by the reforms of Vatican II. Look who are the ones who have called for 'all the people should be one.' The post-conciliar popes - from John XXIII to John Paul II. His most recent venue to Assisi is just proof of this where crucifixes and those 'festival days to be celebrated' were forbidden for one reason - so as not to 'offend' non-Catholics! Yet they were allowed to 'sacrifice to idols' from Buddha to Hindus to Muslim to what-not! Tell me I am wrong. Tell me we are not living in these times the very same persecution, loss of faith, and deprivation of the continual sacrifice which Judas Macchabeus' people endured in the Old. Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.
It's all playing out according to the book.
Ashes to Ashes
And where is Papa Roncalli who unleashed and empowered and allowed the aberrations that have been allowed to perpetuate? Lying beneath a ton of wax, a very questionable process that would foist on the faithful that his body is incorrupt. Just more of the flagellation at the Pillar. Where are the rest of the periti from the international gathering that began 40 years ago on October 11th this year? Those who are not in high positions - the highest positions of power within the post-conciliar church, are deep in the ground - mere ashes. The lifeless bodies of others were made instant ashes through the compromise of cremation - another aberration that was allowed into the post-conciliar mindset. The bottom line is no one will get out of this world alive. Only One ever did, and He had to die first. The path to Calvary passed through the room of the pillar where Christ was strapped and lashed with the cruel, crude thorns of iron at the end of the roughly fashioned whips. Those wielding the straps had little mercy for the One they were scourging. Yet that same Victim had nothing but love for His persecutors, even to forgiving them from the Cross.
And how did they express their gratitude?
By ignoring His teachings and stubbornly binding His Mystical Body to the Pillar and whipping Him anew. Don't they understand that the words pronounced before Holy Mass on Ash Wednesday applies to them as well? Do they not realize that all the power and influence they seek to gain in temporal goals mean nothing in the final scene. God cares naught for titles or worldly achievements, only for those who remained loyal to His Commandments and His Holy Church - His Bride. She has been so defiled by those out to scourge her, but, unlike her attackers, she will emerge undefiled in the Heavenly court for the "gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16: 18). Those who have perpetrated this scourging with the first lashes applied on January 25, 1959 - and repeated flogging since then - must not be sensitive to how they harm Him so with their aberrant attitude that contradicts what His Bride has always taught.
While the Mystical Body of Christ may be scourged - some thinking beyond recognition - the soot and rot
piling up on the Pillar will someday be whisked away as merely useless ashes. Ash Wednesday is a perfect and necessary reminder of this, as Genesis 3: 19 affirms, "into dust thou shalt return." So it's 'dust or bust' time! We need to dust off our souls and cling with Christ's Mystical Body to the Pillar of grace. The only way to do that is to adhere to the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church. If we don't dust off the cobwebs of common sense and adhere to the teachings contained in the Sacred Deposit of the Faith; if we don't realize the wisdom and sanctity of those whose infallible teachings preceded Vatican II and the Scourging at the Pillar, then we're definitely in danger - big trouble! We all need to see that no matter how much we might have played an unwitting part in aiding and abetting the scourging to this point, no matter how much we may have stunk up our lives to this point, like the Grotto at Lourdes our souls can be transformed into a refreshing, neverending font of graces if we do not turn our backs on the truth. The longer we hesitate, the longer we wait for the Pope to do something, for God to make it all okay without our responsibility as members of the Church Militant, the more the poison will penetrate. Realize that the longer this is allowed to fester, the more flecks of finite, faulty fungus will just attach itself to the barnacles of banality and produce more putrid, deadly parasites that eat away at the foundations of the Pillar! The kind of rot that smells to high Heaven!