Fatima: Further Perspectives
John Martin, in his article “An Epic in Search of an Ending” (Aprib| is correct in saying that Fatima is the most important event of the twentieth century. It is sad that so many people, especially the young, know nothing about the message of Fatima. But I have to disagree with his assertion that Pope John Paul II’s 1984 consecration of Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart was not done properly. What many do not realize is that John Paul had a working relationship with Sr. Lucia dos Santos, the primary Fatima seer. I would think that he would have consulted with her on the consecration. Subsequently, Sr. Lucia said that Heaven had accepted it. That is good enough for me.
In his rebuttal to Martin, “An Epilogue for the Disappointed” (also in Aprib| Howard P. Kainz mentions Fr. Nicolas Gruner of the Fatima Center. I have known of Fr. Gruner for some time now and continue to receive many phone calls and e-mails about his organization. Many people have been confused and misled by the materials his group sends out. If Fatima apostolates intend to spread the “true” message of Fatima, they must be in good standing with the Church and engage in what Our Lady has asked us to do. This is why she appeared to three simple children who were not yet influenced by the world: Adults, in their pride, would have distorted the message, as is happening today.
What I tell people is that we must not worry about the non-essentials, but that we must live the message of Fatima. Why do we not have world peace? It is not because Pope John Paul II substituted “the world” for “Russia” in his consecration or because an elusive “fourth secret” or a portion of the text of the third secret has been “withheld.” It is because people will not consecrate themselves to Our Lady and will not pray the rosary daily or make reparation or practice penance in their lives, as she requested. When we begin to live the true message Our Lady delivered at Fatima, then peace will follow.
John C. Preiss, President
Fatima Family Apostolate
Thank you for publishing both John Martin’s and Howard P. Kainz’s articles on Fatima (Aprib~ I was troubled by Kainz’s earlier article (“On Fatima & the Private Interpretation of Private Revelation,” Nov. 2011), so it was helpful to read Martin’s poetic expression of the events and to have Kainz revisit his.
I do agree with Kainz concerning the “voice of Fatima” in the apparitions at Akita, Japan. It is possible to overreach when searching for the confirmation of an approved apparition (Fatima) in an apparition that is not approved by the Magisterium (Akita). And, like Kainz, I do not believe that our Popes have played tricks on us.
Yet these are troubled times, even in the Vatican, as reported in the New Oxford Note “Sex, Lies & Dossiers: The Vatican at the Crossroads” (Aprib~ If it is true that Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI provided Pope Francis with “a playbook” to help him “separate the sheep from the goats in the Vatican,” then it is plausible that our Popes have had their hands tied when it came to acting on the dictates of Heaven.
It seems absurd that God would request the consecration of Russia in union with the world’s bishops, but be O.K. with Russia not being named while remaining adamant about the bishops’ involvement, as comes across in Kainz’s portrayal.
I agree wholeheartedly with both authors that the primary message of Fatima is one of prayer and repentance. If God wants a consecration, then it will be done.
Earl J. Hinson
Martin Correctional Institution
Howard P. Kainz criticizes those who claim that John Paul II failed “to use the correct wording” when attempting to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984. I respectfully suggest to Prof. Kainz that the issue is not the correct wording per se. Rather, one who accepts that the several parts of the Fatima message are from God must acknowledge that God intends the consecration of Russia to accomplish some essential part of His plan of saving souls and achieving world peace. It follows that it must be accurately discerned whether the consecration of Russia has been done as requested by the Blessed Mother. That question comprehends (1) Russia’s need of such consecration, (2) the efficacy of Mary’s Immaculate Heart to meet that need, and (3) the authority of the Roman pontiff to do so with all the bishops of the world.
1. In 1884, after offering Mass, Pope Leo XIII fell into a mystical state and overheard Lucifer boast to Jesus that he could destroy the Church if Jesus would give him power for 100 years over all those who would give themselves to him. Jesus consented!
In her book Not Without Parables, Catherine de Hueck Doherty describes living on a Russian farm in 1905 when the Christian faith was intense and pilgrimages to holy shrines were a daily reality. A pilgrim Catherine’s family once put up for the night told them of a frightening encounter he had with Lucifer, who claimed that he was out to win Russia using existing injustices, and he boasted that neither Jesus nor His mother would be able to prevent it.
In March 1917 revolution began again in a Russia weakened by World War I. The Bolsheviks gradually gained control of the revolutionaries and were able to control most of the government by October. After three more years of brutal civil war, the Bolsheviks had replaced the autocracy of the Christian czar with the totalitarianism of a Luciferian dictatorship.
By 1929, when the Blessed Mother and Jesus told Sr. Lucia that the time had come for her to communicate to the Holy Father Heaven’s request for the consecration of Russia, the Bolsheviks had imprisoned and murdered tens of millions of believers, including bishops, priests, and religious. Sadly, Pius XI did nothing.
In 1939, as the world was falling into the darkness of another world war, Lucia’s advisors told her to ask Jesus if He would accept a consecration of the world instead of Russia by itself. Jesus replied that in return for that He would shorten the tribulation of the new war, but that Russia would not be converted then, and the period of peace would not come at that time. Jesus explained to Lucia that He would not convert Russia without its consecration because He wanted Russia’s conversion to be seen by the world as part of the triumph of His mother’s Immaculate Heart. Finally, in 1942, Pope Pius XII did so consecrate the world and soon the tide of battle turned with Nazi defeats at Stalingrad and El Alamein.
Likewise, Heaven accepted Pope John Paul II’s consecration of the whole world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in 1984, and in return mitigated the tribulation of the Cold War. But, as in 1942, Russia was not converted, and since 1984 the world has experienced constant hot war, while Russia today is as deep a moral cesspool and as politically corrupt as any Western country, including, so sadly and tragically, our own.
2. The Immaculate Heart of Mary not only beckons us to follow her in being pure of heart, free from earthly chains to do the will of God, but she is also able to obtain for us the divine assistance we require to do so. Mary is the perfect daughter of the Father, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, and the mother of the Son of God. Will she not do in Russia and then, using a converted Russia, throughout the whole world what she assisted the Church in Mexico to do among the Aztec people, freeing them from superstition and empowering them with the Holy Spirit?
3. The pope is Peter, the only vicar of Christ on earth. Christ is Lord of all the earth. There is none other, nor can there ever be another. Pope Francis is delegated by Christ to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Jesus with Mary specifically asked for this through Sr. Lucia in 1929. The events at Fatima were authenticated by the October 13, 1917, Miracle of the Sun, witnessed by 70,000 people. This miracle was promised and predicted by the Blessed Mother to prove the truth of the apparitions reported by the seers. Does it not also prove that the request for the consecration of Russia by the Roman pontiff came from God? Is it probable that Sr. Lucia fabricated the message or imagined it? Would the Queen Mother of angels and men, chosen by God and specifically tasked with this mission, choose as a messenger a silly goose who would do that? No. Our Queen Mother chose a modern-day Joan of Arc, Sr. Lucia dos Santos of Fatima.
It is clear to me, and I have tried here to clarify the case for Prof. Kainz, that the Holy Father must consecrate Russia by itself to comply with Heaven’s request. John Paul II did not do so because he truly believed that he could not. On August 1, 1984, John Paul told Fr. Pierre Caillon, a retired philosophy professor who had studied the issue of the consecration of Russia for years, that “the consecration is done…we cannot consecrate Russia apart by itself. We have consecrated all of the nations and we have added a special mention for the nation which Our Lady was expecting the consecration.” John Paul’s probable reasons to believe that he could not consecrate Russia alone could include the Vatican-Moscow Metz Pact of 1962, his fear of causing a schism in the Church, and internal opposition. These matters were more fully discussed in two talks I delivered in September 2012 at the Divine Will Conference in Orlando, Florida, which can be viewed on my YouTube channel or at www.forjesusandmary.org.
Fr. Jim Anderson
Taylor Correctional Institution
Santa Maria, California
In Howard P. Kainz’s renewed spin on the Fatima message we find a brimming second helping of ad hominem detraction and subtle innuendo against Fr. Nicolas Gruner of the Fatima Center (the first appeared in his Nov. 2011 article on the same). Does the “high-level apostasy in Rome itself,” as John Martin puts it, that’s warned of in the third secret, somehow become a groundless proposition simply because Fr. Gruner is associated with arguments that support the evidence? How, then, are we to relate to our Lord’s warning that apostasy will pave the way for His second coming? In like fashion are we to dismiss the authenticated prophecy of La Salette, that “Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist,” merely because this, too, impugns Kainz’s image of a Teflon Vatican? The Fatima event does not revolve around Fr. Gruner.
What are we to make of Kainz’s particular preoccupation with “the Vatican”? He writes, “If the Vatican willfully falsified the contents of the third secret, then we would have to believe that a succession of popes and bishops have been liars; and this belief is simply unacceptable to orthodox Catholics.” In point of fact, only the converse of this argument can be logically tenable. If all the cardinals, bishops, and popes whose witnessed statements and documented writings discrediting the “Vatican” position are to be believed, then surely it is “the Vatican” that is actually lying. After all, there is absolutely no authority or credibility attributable to “the Vatican” for the purpose of making pronouncements of any kind whatsoever in matters of either faith or prophecy. “The Vatican” is a non-person, a fictional entity trotted forth by those who would usurp the jurisdiction of true papal authority.
Pope Benedict XVI said, “We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete” (May 13, 2010). Recall that it was Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone who declared in 2000 that “Fatima brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil.” I have to wonder whether Bertone was chuckling to himself when he let that bombshell fly!
Bertone, the man behind the curtain of the faceless “Vatican,” assures us, à la Kainz, that in 2000 he was told, “yes, this is the Third Secret, and I never wrote another”; words purportedly uttered by Sr. Lucia but never witnessed, not tape recorded, and never corroborated because — mystery of mysteries! — third-party access to Sr. Lucia was blocked by — you guessed it! — “the Vatican.”
Rather than imputing to four consecutive Popes a liability for prevarication, we may reasonably probe for more likely circumstances that could explain the circuitous byways undertaken by our pontiffs in responding to Heaven’s blazoned, particularized prescription for world peace. Perhaps treachery in high places had a hand in exerting unbearable pressure in procuring the sabotage of the would-be consecration of Russia. Extortion, collusion, and betrayal are no strangers in the tortuous history of Vatican intrigue. Perhaps key levels of support, communication, or information were withheld, upon which the popes were obliged to rely. Perhaps, weakened and beleaguered, they were tempted to put greater confidence in the counsel of men rather than place faith in the prudence of the Blessed Mother of God.
Kainz models this lack of confidence in the power of God by arguing that the conversion of Russia “cannot be expected to take place overnight in a great dramatic metamorphosis.” He quotes Fr. Stanley Jaki as saying, “The conversion of Russia, whatever that may mean, will be a slow process, as are all large-scale conversions.” Really? Is there a limit to the power of God? Is He now constrained to act only as expected by the narrow-minded, stunted imaginations of His creatures? How can we escape concluding that Kainz’s assessment of the prerogatives of God are significantly at variance with a proper understanding of what it means to be “Almighty” and “Omniscient”?
Kainz would have us believe that the purpose of the unprecedented and awe-inspiring event of Fatima is merely to presage a barely perceptible “metamorphosis” of conversion, actuated, by all appearances, as a strictly human undertaking in the development of “authentic ecumenism that emerged from Vatican II.” The only thing authentic about ecumenism is that it had been formally condemned on numerous occasions by former pontiffs but now percolates insidiously since Vatican II. This epiphany of reckless disdain for former papal pronouncements models the very definition of apostasy! Beaming in the encomium of ecumenism, Kainz enjoys his leisure in lofty company, disturbed by naught in his restful repose, save for the fact-noxious heralds of the likes of Fr. Gruner, who would presumptuously dare to disturb the equanimity of his high-brow worldwide fellowship.
Those who dampen the urgency of the spectacular Fatima intervention set forth false acclamations of piety while seeking to oppose our dear Mother’s role in crushing the head of the serpent and in overthrowing the renewed attempts of the ungodly to rebuild the Tower of Babel. As Catholics called to love the Lord, we are challenged with this “new and improved” version of truth; to wit, only now does the Church pronounce truth unerringly whereas before she did not? Those who endeavor to make peace with this contradiction set themselves adrift on a dangerous current of surrender into an eternal, unspeakable, hair-tearing destiny of despair and self-recrimination in Hell. What Mother would not do everything possible to preserve her children from such a fate?
Macon State Prison
HOWARD P. KAINZ REPLIES:
I agree with John Preiss that the important response to Fatima is not to obsess over the consecration of Russia, or to force the Vatican to admit that it lied about the “third secret,” but rather to consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, say the rosary daily, and make the five First Saturday devotions, as Our Lady requested. As these devotions increase, miracles will happen. Unfortunately, after all this time, relatively few Catholics are aware of the most important event that took place in the 20th century. Few people, even Catholics, know about this essential message, let alone about the “secrets” revealed in connection with it.
It seems that some of my previous arguments and clarifications have been largely ignored. I’ll repeat a few of them here: Both Pope John Paul II and Sr. Lucia herself (not some “imposter”) declared that the consecration of Russia had been done in 1984. The “third secret” was published under two popes (one a cardinal at the time) who are not noted for being pathological liars. The dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1989 was a bona fide miracle witnessed by the whole world. Russia is no longer “spreading its errors around the world” or “persecuting the faithful” to any significant degree. Orthodox Christianity is flourishing in Russia, where church attendance is rising to the level of Catholic countries like Portugal and Ireland. The massive persecution of the Church and martyrdom of Catholics now taking place is almost entirely at the hands of Islamists, not Russians — a fact that we may easily miss, if we listen only to the mainstream media.
I am hoping, along with Earl J. Hinson, that Pope Francis will benefit from the “playbook” provided by Pope Benedict XVI, in not only cleaning up the Vatican financial intrigues but completing the very complicated process of dealing with the priest sex-abuse scandals, with justice to both victims and the accused.
Like Fr. Jim Anderson, I would like to think that the 1984 consecration would not only bring about the miracle of the dismantling of the U.S.S.R. but also, like the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which brought about the conversion of eight million Aztecs in seven years, bring about a proportionally great number of individual conversions among 140 million Russians, in spite of the massive obstacle of individual vices. But individual and instantaneous conversions may not be part of Our Lady’s plan. Pope Benedict XVI said as much when he explained that his May 13, 2010, prayer for the “fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” was “not intended…to express any expectation on my part that there is going to be a huge turnaround and that history will suddenly take a totally different course…. The triumphs of God, the triumphs of Mary, are quiet, but they are real nonetheless.”
I would like to respond to the multiple objections of Steve Graves with a number of clarifications and corrections. (1) “High-level apostasy in Rome itself” was never a part of the Fatima message but is an allegation created by Fatimists based on the supposed contents of some “missing” part of the third secret. (2) Parts of the “revelations” of La Salette were placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy Office. The prophecy that “Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist” was not made by Our Lady but is a statement made over and over again in the sermons of Martin Luther. (3) “The Vatican” is not a “fictional entity” but is a convenient shorthand expression referring to the papacy and its dicasteries, etc. Graves himself uses the term in that sense when he refers to “the tortuous history of Vatican intrigue.” (4) Cardinal Bertone did not say that “Fatima brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil”; rather, he said that “the decision of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to make public” the third secret brings this period to an end. The “period,” of course, is the 20th century; and “bringing to an end” here does not mean that the lust for power and evil is now gone, but simply that the Pope’s decision to publish the secret in the year 2000 takes place at the conclusion of this tragic century. (5) Also, I have no reason to believe Cardinal Bertone, in his meeting with Lucia, lied when he reported that she had said, “yes, this is the Third Secret, and I never wrote another.” (6) Graves asserts that Fr. Jaki’s suggestion that the conversion of Russia may involve a slow, large-scale development puts a “limit to the power of God.” But we cannot dismiss the factor of free will, which God has constrained Himself to respect. “Involuntary conversion” is a contradiction in terms. (7) I agree with Graves that the ecumenical movement has floundered at times; but there can be no question that the desire of our Savior that “they may all be one” (Jn. 17:21) is the spirit behind ecumenism, and that modest successes have been achieved in reducing the chasm between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches and certain Protestant denominations. (8) The papacy is not now offering us some “new and improved version of truth” but, as through the centuries, unlike tens of thousands of Christian denominations, it is providing sure direction, trusting our Lord’s promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church. For some mysterious reason, Jesus decided to entrust the preservation of the truth to Peter and His successors. If Our Lady returned to earth now, one can be sure that she would defer to the judgments of the vicar of Christ, whose guidance is much more trustworthy than the private interpretation of private revelations.
William J. Tighe
Procurator General, AMISALES
Unorthodox View of the Orthodox
Howard P. Kainz’s article “An Epilogue for the Disappointed” seems to contain a serious ecclesiological error concerning the “churchly status” of the Orthodox Church from the Catholic perspective. He writes, “The Orthodox Church in Russia…is a bona fide ‘sister Church’ with apostolic succession and all seven sacraments, according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 2000 instruction Dominus Iesus….”
If one reads the three most recent CDF documents pertinent to the question of the status of the Orthodox Church — Communionis Notio (1992), Dominus Iesus (2000), and “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church” (2007) — Prof. Kainz’s formulation does not stand the test.
All of these are easily accessible online at the Vatican’s website. Taking them all together, one will readily see that “the Catholic Church” — meaning that “communion of local churches in communion with the Church of Rome” — is the sole “subsistence” of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” and that, as such, she has no “sisters.” The term “sister churches” refers, strictly speaking, to local churches in communion with one another, and with the Church of Rome. By extension, and since the Catholic Church recognizes that true local churches with “valid Orders” can exist outside the communion of the Catholic Church — e.g., among the Orthodox, the Oriental non-Chalcedonian Orthodox, the Polish National Catholic Church, and others — these churches can be termed “sister churches.” Strictly speaking, though, it is not “the Orthodox Church” that is regarded as “a sister Church,” but “the Orthodox churches,” meaning the various local Orthodox churches (or other churches which the Catholic Church recognizes as having “valid Orders”) that, joined together, form local jurisdictions and, in some cases, patriarchates that, taken together, comprise what is called “the Orthodox Church.” Thus, the (Greek Orthodox) Diocese of Patras, say, and the (Roman Catholic) Diocese of Allentown are true particular (locabpchurches and so can be said to be “sister churches.”
“Responses to Some Questions” (2007) states that because “the oriental Churches separated from full communion” with the Catholic Church “have true sacraments and above all — because of the apostolic succession — the priesthood and the Eucharist,” they “merit the title of ‘particular or local Churches,’ and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.” However, since communion with the Catholic Church “is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches.”
This is a succinct statement of what Dominus Iesus expounded at greater length: “There exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church” (no. 17).
The section concludes, “The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach.” In fact, “the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities…. The lack of unity among Christians is certainly a wound for the Church; not in the sense that she is deprived of her unity, but in that it hinders the complete fulfillment of her universality in history.”
From one perspective, while this distinction may seem to be trivial and nit-picking, it is in reality anything but. If one fails to take this distinction into account, one runs the risk, as Dominus Iesus warns, of falling into the un-Catholic view that the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” is some divisible and/or invisible body (which are Protestant and Anglican views) of which the Catholic Church (or “papal communion”) is but one part. This is an error into which many Catholics, mostly but not exclusively “liberals” and “dissenters,” have fallen since the 1960s — an error that has occasioned various corrections on the part of the Magisterium, including those documents from which I have provided excerpts above.
Coram, New York
HOWARD P. KAINZ REPLIES:
While admittedly there is ambiguity surrounding use of the term “sister churches” as applied to particular Orthodox churches, the terminology has a history. Pope John XXIII used the term in a letter to the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras I; and Pope John Paul II, in a 1991 letter to the bishops of Europe, wrote, “relations are to be fostered as between sister Churches, to use the expression of Pope Paul VI in his brief to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras I.” However, as Tighe notes, the CDF in 2000 issued a directive that the term was being used too loosely in ecumenical discussions, possibly leading to an interpretation inimical to the unity of the Church. I used the term to emphasize that the Russian Orthodox Church, unlike Protestant communions, has the apostolic succession and all the sacraments.
Anderson, South Carolina
Neither Right nor Just
Since I am a resident of New York who has to live with the consequences of Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s tenure as the head of the Archdiocese of New York, I wish to respond to the letter about him from Mary Lou James (“A Right & Just Man,” Aprib~
Shortly after being appointed archbishop, Dolan wrote a widely read column titled “Jesus Is Still With Us” (May 6, 2010), praising the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, for a letter to the editor he wrote to the Wall Street Journal. The governor, who takes Communion regularly despite being divorced, living with his girlfriend, and actively promoting abortion-on-demand and same-sex marriage, wrote that Jesus Christ, not sinful priests or negligent bishops, is the cornerstone of the Catholic faith. Archbishop Dolan extolled the governor for his defense of the Church, describing him as “savvy, intelligent, perceptive.” He then went on to excoriate the Apostles for their “stupidity,” “hard-headedness,” “stubbornness,” and “ignorance,” likening them to the priests and bishops who were involved in the sex scandals. When the governor was heavily pressuring Catholic legislators to vote for the Marriage Equality Act, Dolan didn’t head to Albany. He took a trip to Seattle for a bishops’ conference instead. Even the liberal New York Times noted that “the Catholic Church, arguably the only institution with the authority and reach to derail same-sex marriage, seemed to shrink from the fight” (June 26, 2011).
We all know how Dolan behaved during the last presidential election. Mary Lou James defends his actions by comparing him to Jesus, who ate with the sinners and was disparaged for doing so. Nothing could be further from the truth. The sinners welcomed Jesus into their homes because they wanted to listen to Him and learn from Him. They were open to His teachings. The organizers of the Democratic Convention and the Al Smith Dinner, on the other hand, wanted Dolan in the same room with President Obama and his supporters in order to garner Catholic votes for their candidate. Obama won the Catholic vote again in 2012 and, therefore, the election. It is a national travesty and a disgrace to our Church that a cardinal helped a pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage candidate win the highest office in the land.
Those of us who live in New York must now face the prospect of homosexual behavior being thrust into our lives at work, in the schools, and perhaps soon, in our churches. Undoubtedly, the cardinal enjoyed his jovial dinner with the President and his happy praise of the governor. Unfortunately, faithful Catholics may have to pay a heavy price for Dolan’s decisions very soon.
Belton, South Carolina
Our Intellectual Infection
Anthony Rizzi’s article “How a Neglect of Physics Has Turned Christianity into a Myth for Modern Man” (Apribpon the physical basis of our Christian faith — indeed, of salvation history — is a blockbuster!
Are we Christians irrational? Well, perhaps today we are. But it’s not because Christianity is inherently irrational; rather, it’s because we hold on to a deep misunderstanding of our physical nature. And that misunderstanding is itself exactly at the root of original sin: man’s misbegotten attempt to bypass the physical basis of his knowing.
Saying more rosaries and holding more rallies at abortion clinics is not going to cure this problem. This is a deeply intellectual problem that reaches deep into our own minds. This is a problem within as well as without the Church. They — meaning non-Catholics, or non-Christians, or scientists, or whomever we think is misguided — aren’t the only ones with the problem. We are infected with it just as much. If this is deeply rooted in our culture, then how could we grow up in the modern world without having imbibed deeply of the poison?
It seems that the intellectual problem that confronts us is even thornier than what St. Thomas Aquinas dealt with in his day. Yet his grounded understanding of nature is exactly what we need to find our way out.
Kenneth F. Klenk
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Anthony Rizzi identifies a real problem facing Christians today — namely, an ignorance of physical principles. If we are to take the call of the new evangelization seriously, we must start by reclaiming our knowledge of these physical principles. If we do not know the preamble of our faith, it will be difficult for us to really know what we are talking about when we try to share the faith with others.
Rizzi also does an excellent job of explaining why man needs community (“to enable him to reach his natural end of Truth”) and why men and women are complementary. After reading the section entitled “Man is Two: Man & Woman,” I could not help but think about how our modern world wants men and women to be equal rather than complementary. Oh, how much happier we would be if men and women sought to live out this natural complementarity instead of seeking a false equality!
Lastly, I must add that I found Rizzi’s explanation of the fall of man to be fascinating. I have never heard the fall explained in such a way, but it makes very good sense. I am looking forward to the next installment of this series.
Ed. Note: Part II of Dr. Rizzi’s two-part series, “Recovering by Grounding Modern Physics,” appeared in our May issue and was titled “The Redemption of Man Requires the Redemption of Science.”
La Crescenta, California
Anthony Rizzi’s article is like no other I’ve seen in that it begins with the basics. Physics is a broad science — after all, it is the study of physical things. It studies the world around us, initially without theories or equations — those come later. Modern physics tends to go directly to the equations and symbols, leaving behind much of the real beings in nature. Modern physics, as Dr. Rizzi points out in his books The Science Before Science and A Kid’s Introduction to Physics (and Beyond), provides us with tremendous information about changeable being, but it is hidden in equations. Not to unpack the meaning of these equations is to take the “shortcut” Rizzi mentions in his article.
We need to heed the call that Rizzi is making to integrate fundamental physics with modern physics. All of our thinking depends upon a proper understanding of physics. Thus, the work of the Institute for Advanced Physics (IAP) is essential because it provides the ground upon which all other subsequent thinking and good works are built — from the pro-life cause to the proper adoration of God.
The IAP is unpacking the information of modern physics, but the task is huge. I encourage layman to support the work of the IAP and physicists to become certified members, as I did. Physicists, particularly Catholic physicists, need to become part of the work the IAP is doing. Catholic physicists need to integrate into their understanding the full physics that is implicit in modern physics but needs to be made explicit. The IAP has made a major impact in my life. It has taught me, among many other profound things, the urgent need for all of us to pull together to support the foundation of our knowing. It is the only place where this essential work is being done. We owe it to ourselves and to those who come after us to put ourselves to this task.
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
ANTHONY RIZZI REPLIES:
Dr. Daw, Mr. DiCarlo, and Dr. Klenk, thank you for your comments. It really is true that we need to commit ourselves to spending the requisite time learning this material if we want to have a culture of life in the fullest sense replace, in John Paul II’s words, our culture of death. To have such a culture means to have a truth-centered culture replace, in Benedict XVI’s words, the current dictatorship of relativism.
The problem we face is a principled problem at the beginning of our thinking and, as such, it affects everything from our understanding of economics and family to our understanding of politics and theology. The fix is for each of us to invest time, energy, and finances in fixing our own understanding and that of others.
Crescente G. Villahermosa
Virginia Beach, Virginia
A More Sinister Threat
It is obviously true that, as Thomas Storck writes (letter, Aprib| our country is increasingly divided between two “political-cultural factions.” If one equates liberals with Democrats and conservatives with Republicans, then the old “not a dime’s worth of difference” equivalence would certainly apply. But from the perspective of an orthodox Catholic, there is indeed a great distinction to be made between modern-day liberalism and traditional conservatism.
Among their other sins, doctrinaire liberals of today are by and large determinedly eager to destroy almost everything our society has inherited from the past, while most thinking conservatives seek to preserve the framework of society and the cultural and religious traditions in the broadest sense that we are fortunate enough to have been bequeathed by past generations. I find Storck’s argument unpersuasive that Catholics “ought not to embrace either of these factions” because they are guilty of “demonizing their opponents,” since liberals represent far more of a sinister threat to the survival of orthodox Catholicism in a world politically inclined against it.
Jeffrey D. Tiner
Charity: Not a Communal Mandate
Apropos the debate in your letters section regarding charity to the poor (Jan.-Feb., Aprib* It would be wise to remember that, as to obtaining Heaven, God’s saving grace applies to individuals and not communities or nations as a whole. We are admonished to care for those less fortunate than ourselves and not to store up earthly treasures at the expense of another’s need. However, neither the Bible nor the Church delineates where that line is crossed. How much is too much? Should one own more than one car? Go on vacation? Celebrate Christmas with gifts? All these things are outside the realm of “needs.”
Nowhere are we instructed to render unto Caesar to provide for the common welfare as seen fit by Caesar without dissent. If that were so, we could confidently reply to Matthew 25:35, “Why, yes I did, Lord. Every April 15 with a 1040 form!” Jesus instructed us to give from our hearts, and it is in response to this injunction that we will be judged. To give carte blanche to an impersonal, wasteful government to provide for these needs with taxes nullifies Christ’s command to give from our own hearts. Having concerns for our nation’s treasure being irresponsibly spent on unchecked welfare or immigration policies is not a sin. We are to help another in his need and to pull him up so he can eventually be able to meet his own needs. As history has shown us, governments have been utter failures at doing this.
The Compassion of Conservatives
Douglas Turner (letter, Jan.-Feb.) calls subsidiarity a code-word for “right-wing stinginess.” This is far from the case. Conservatives have been shown to give more, as indicated by Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, in his book Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism. This study shows that though liberal households tend to earn more, they give less.
I would suggest that we are called to “earn big and give big,” to borrow a saying. Statistically speaking, this is happening in America, where the wealthiest 10 percent pay virtually the entire federal tax burden, create the most jobs, and create the most foundations for the poor. Let’s also not forget to mention the 6.8 percent of Catholics whom Matthew Kelly, author of Rediscover Catholicism, has found account for 80 percent of the income of the Church. Many of those 10 percent and 6.8 percent are conservatives, and they all give much more than everyone else. These wealthy individuals donate even while being despised and condemned by those who receive the benefits of their wealth.
Conservatives view charity as an individual duty, whereby everyone should give of themselves voluntarily, not by legislation. Liberals view charity as an involuntary duty, in the sense that everyone will give money to the poor, whether they want to or not. We Christians should joyfully give — not from the threat of government regulation, but for the sake of our love for Christ.
How does one serve the needy without promoting dependence? This is the question conservatives ask. It is no sin to allow hardship to befall someone. Hardship can be a great motivator to independence and sanctity. And no conservative stands against reasonable methods of aid to those who fall on hard times.
In America, “envy of the poor appears to have surpassed the greed of the wealthy,” to quote Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Liberals declare that it is the government’s duty to remove a portion of the wealth of those who, by some subjective standard, supposedly have excess. Conservatives stand against this notion. How can you claim to be promoting charity when you are forcibly taking property? This is theft, not charity; being forced to give is not charitable at all.
Princeton, New Jersey
It is obvious that there are a good number of social conservatives who think of themselves as “moral conservatives” or, worse, pretend to be such. I put the term “moral conservatives” in quotes because one cannot be conservative or its opposite, liberal, when it comes to morality. One can only be moral.
Social conservatives are those who are against government-assisted contraception, abortion, and social safety nets (which they call “entitlements”) not primarily because of moral considerations but because they perceive such as unjust intrusions into their personal wealth. Many of them reacted with a spate of negative letters (“Wild & Unjust Twists” and “What Do We Owe the Poor?” Apribpin response to earlier articles and letters that defend the mission of the Church to look after and defend the poor and afflicted. These letter-writers are not necessarily even Catholic as, for example, Gerald Gelazela, who declared that he would rather stand with the social prescriptions of Ayn Rand than those of the Church. He then threatened to quit his subscription because he could not stand the editor’s exegesis (actually, quotations) of the Church’s teachings on collective responsibility for the welfare of our fellow man. I wish him the best of health, that he may live a long life so as to enjoy, as Dives did, his material wealth on earth.
Lie With Dogs, Catch Their Fleas
Egon Richard Tausch, in his letter “Wild & Unjust Twists” (Apribpin response to Donald DeMarco’s article on Atlas Shrugged (Jan.-Feb.), identifies himself as a devout Catholic, concedes that Rand was “an extreme atheist, and especially anti-Christian,” and then takes DeMarco to task for daring to focus on Rand’s atheism. Tausch goes on to excuse Rand’s atheism as being “due entirely to her abysmal ignorance of Christianity and its precepts,” and he contends that “Rand habitually confused some eccentric opinions of fundamentalist Protestantism with profound papal encyclicals, all from hearsay.” In the first instance, one can chalk up Rand’s “abysmal ignorance” to laziness — there was no dearth of written information on Christianity and its precepts in her lifetime. In the second instance, Rand’s “habitual confusion” of eccentric fundamental Protestantism with profound papal encyclicals can only be defined as profound stupidity. Muslims and Jews have more in common, it often seems, than the aforementioned fundamentalists and the pope. And what legitimate writer expounds his or her brand of philosophy based on hearsay?
So now we’ve come full circle, with a Catholic carrying the torch for Ayn Rand, despite the fact that she was — in Tausch’s own words — “an extreme atheist,” “anti-Christian,” and lost in “abysmal ignorance” about our faith. It comes then as no surprise when he concedes that he has based his own philosophy on atheists like Rand and Koestler, and that he was part of the Rand-inspired Christian Objectivists Libertarian movement. If you lie with dogs, you catch their fleas.
Tausch concedes that Rand praises selfishness and greed. Then he once again attempts to play the apologist by declaring that she “would have praised Christ’s sacrifice had she understood anything about Him or His mission.” Really now? From what crystal ball does Tausch divine such a postmortem rehabilitation of the lifelong, avowed, and unapologetic atheist Ayn Rand? His revisionist musings lack merit. If the proof is in the pudding, one need only cast an unbiased look at Rand’s collective writings. She is part of a long line of atheists — from Spinoza to Hitchens — who peddle their anti-Christianity to like-minded pagans. Tausch can wrap Rand’s atheism in tinfoil and hang a flag on it, but any effort to reconcile Catholicism and her godlessness is doomed to failure.
Frank J. Schwindler Jr.
Satan's Sound Strategy
“Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad.” Pope Leo XIII wrote these words in an 1890 addendum to his famous prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, showing quite clearly that corruption even at the highest levels of the Vatican are far from new. In fact, weakness and corruption within the highest ranks of the Church hierarchy can well be said to stretch back to its founding, when one considers the traitor Judas and St. Peter’s denial of Christ. So though we are saddened and shocked at various reports of unholy activities in the Vatican (“Sex, Lies & Dossiers: The Vatican at the Crossroads,” New Oxford Note, Aprib| it should be expected as the sound strategy of the archenemy.
Though weakened and blinded by overweening pride, Satan has fought his war of rebellion since the very beginning of time, which means that his tactics have had nearly boundless years to be refined to unthinkable levels of vileness. He knows the most efficient ways to seduce mankind into the arms of damnation, and among these is to sow doubt as to the personal holiness of the princes of the Church. As any special-forces officer can attest, decapitating an enemy’s command and control structure can accomplish quickly and efficiently what would otherwise require legions of soldiers and massive effort. Both things we have seen of late occur in the Vatican.
To be taken by surprise at such events shows how little of the history and teachings of the Church are understood, even among Catholics. In time, all our idols and idolatries will turn on us. But what is certain is that Jesus will never leave us adrift on a sea of scandal but will provide for us, often in unexpected yet perfectly fitting ways. As proof we may point to the election of Pope Francis, one of those holy surprises that God likes to spring on us. Times will often be dark and the tidings we receive grim, but be of good cheer, for the Lord bountifully rewards fidelity.
Rev. Dr. Thomas Cherukat, M.S.F.S.
In your New Oxford Note “Individuality: The New Conformity” (Aprib| you listed Aidan as one of the new trendy names for children disconnected from our Catholic heritage. This is incorrect. St. Aidan was a seventh-century monk who became the renowned Abbot of Lindisfarne, Northumbria. He was born in Ireland, and the name has been common among the Irish for centuries. I am proud to have a grandson with this name.
Your New Oxford Note “Individuality: The New Conformity” reminded me of a Korean woman I once met. She converted to Catholicism from Buddhism and took Magnificat as her Christian name. In this day and age, when parents try to dream up unusual names for their babies, wouldn’t Magnificat — perhaps Maggie, for short — be a great name for a girl?
Religious Bigotry Behind Bars
In late March I received two issues of Magnificat along with a nice note wishing me a happy Easter and advising that a Mass would be said for me by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter on Easter Sunday. A few weeks later I received a Magnificat Lenten Companion. Back in January I got a couple of very interesting books, and in December I got a beautiful, traditional Sacred Heart Calendar for 2013. All of these came from NOR readers who clearly “get” Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:31-45, especially verse 36 (“I was in prison and you came to me”). It is hard to explain just how much things like these mean to me — and to the rest of us here in prison. I always try to write back and thank the people who “visit” in this way, but I feel that I’m never quite able to express the true depth of my gratitude.
The NOR has provided me with a free “scholarship fund” subscription since 2008. Various readers have paid for this gift. Others have written or sent books, CDs, and Heaven knows what else. Much of what has been sent has never made it to me. Sometimes that’s been due to my almost continual transfers in the Georgia prison system. Sometimes it’s because someone in the mailroom has decided to be a good Nazi. I almost didn’t get the two Magnificats because the address and return address envelope labels weren’t “printed” on official business envelopes. Sometimes I get things (like Steve Wood’s CD set Sola Scriptura) only to have them seized and destroyed by avenging Protestant chaplains who brook no popery in their domain. What I receive I always share with as many Catholic (and non-Catholic) inmates as possible. What I pass on is frequently the only Catholic literature these brothers will ever see.
Six hundred and seventy-one names were listed as Associates in the March 2013 issue of the NOR. Every last one of these people contributes to the effort to ensure that there’s still an NOR to pass around here — and that there’s still a forum that motivates and encourages all these others to “visit” us prisoners.
Joseph P. Wall’s letter, “Out of Sight & Out of Mind” (March), in response to my letter (Dec.) is the truth. Why is it that so many readers of the NOR can get what Jesus means in Matthew 25:36, but no one seems able to get the official Church to wake up? Why does it seem that the official Church doesn’t care about all of us Catholics in prison? Why is it that no one fights for us or advocates for our religious rights? I’ve been in almost every one of Georgia’s 24 state prisons, as well as three private prisons, and fewer than 10 have regular Masses (“regular” meaning maybe every month or so). Most, like here, get periodic visits by eucharistic ministers. Exactly one has Catholic catechism and RCIA classes. We are openly discriminated against: rosaries are confiscated and thrown out, Catholic Bibles are not available (or get taken), not a single copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be found. Hundreds of Protestant tracts are rammed down our throats, yet not a single Catholic pamphlet or prayer guide is available from Georgia prison chaplains.
Because no one stands up for us prisoners — especially here in Georgia — those of us who speak out are continually retaliated against. My repeated transfers are due to my refusal to accept the constant discrimination against Catholics in general and myself in particular. I will not cooperate in their evil and I will not be quiet. It would not surprise me if I were transferred again in the near future because folks here don’t like being challenged over their religious bigotry. Asking why Catholic services are canceled so more Protestant services can be held, or why Catholics can’t meet for Bible studies but Protestants can, is not tolerated.
In this environment, we need the NOR and its readers. Thank you — to each and every one of you. May God bless and keep you.
An Appeal for the Missions
The Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales is a congregation with 1,400 members working in 26 countries around the world, chiefly in Africa, Asia, and South America. We need the help of generous people to support our numerous projects in the developing world for the poorest of the poor.
We are looking for used stamps, coins, banknotes, and all such objects of collection, as well as religious materials. The proceeds will be sent to our missions in Africa, Asia, and South America. Kindly send your contributions to:
The Procurator General
Associazione Missionaria di Sales (AMISALES)
Via del Mascherino 46/2
We thank you for your help.
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