Thursday, March 11, 2010
THE SMOKE OF SATAN IN THE TEMPLE OF THE CHURCH: IS THE DEVIL REAL?
On June 29, 1972, His Holiness Pope Paul VI delivered a homily on the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul where he speaks of the "smoke of Satan" entering the temple of the Church and the reality of the devil. Please note my comments at the end of part of the Holy Father's discourse during that homily:
Referring to the situation of the Church today, the Holy Father affirms that he has a sense that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” There is doubt, incertitude, problematic, disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation. There is no longer trust of the Church; they trust the first profane prophet who speaks in some journal or some social movement, and they run after him and ask him if he has the formula of true life. And we are not alert to the fact that we are already the owners and masters of the formula of true life. Doubt has entered our consciences, and it entered by windows that should have been open to the light. Science exists to give us truths that do not separate from God, but make us seek him all the more and celebrate him with greater intensity; instead, science gives us criticism and doubt. Scientists are those who more thoughtfully and more painfully exert their minds. But they end up teaching us: “I don’t know, we don’t know, we cannot know.” The school becomes the gymnasium of confusion and sometimes of absurd contradictions. Progress is celebrated, only so that it can then be demolished with revolutions that are more radical and more strange, so as to negate everything that has been achieved, and to come away as primitives after having so exalted the advances of the modern world.
This state of uncertainty even holds sway in the Church. There was the belief that after the Council there would be a day of sunshine for the history of the Church. Instead, it is the arrival of a day of clouds, of tempest, of darkness, of research, of uncertainty. We preach ecumenism but we constantly separate ourselves from others. We seek to dig abysses instead of filling them in.
How has this come about? The Pope entrusts one of his thoughts to those who are present: that there has been an intervention of an adverse power. Its name is the devil, this mysterious being that the Letter of St. Peter also alludes to. So many times, furthermore, in the Gospel, on the lips of Christ himself, the mention of this enemy of men returns. The Holy Father observes, “We believe in something that is preternatural that has come into the world precisely to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council, and to impede the Church from breaking into the hymn of joy at having renewed in fullness its awareness of itself. Precisely for this reason, we should wish to be able, in this moment more than ever, to exercise the function God assigned to Peter, to strengthen the Faith of the brothers. We should wish to communicate to you this charism of certitude that the Lord gives to him who represents him though unworthily on this earth.” Faith gives us certitude, security, when it is based upon the Word of God accepted and consented to with our very own reason and with our very own human spirit. Whoever believes with simplicity, with humility, sense that he is on the good road, that he has an interior testimony that strengthens him in the difficult conquest of the truth.
By the late 1960's and early 1970's many theologians and thus many priests were teaching that the Second Vatican Council or its "spirit" had created a new Church distinct from the Church prior to the Council. This was a lie! But because of this hermeneutic of discontinuity or rupture, theologians began to promote the following theologies as though these were doctrine that the Second Vatican Council desired:
1. Original Sin--the traditional approach too negative and an insult to human beings created in the image and likeness of God--needed a more positive understanding of human nature as good.
2. Sin, needed to emphasize the good people do and let their conscience guide them rather than decrees, laws and commandments. This led to the book by Karl Meninger, titled, "Whatever became of Sin." Mortal sin was demolished by theologians of this period.
3. A more positive view of sex in all its forms including artificial contraception had to be allowed. This was the beginning of the nose of the camel into the tent of the Church's traditional teachings on sex being dismantled in favor of the goodness of homosexual acts, thus the possibility of homosexual marriage, and openness to a wider variety of acceptable sexual practices within marriage that transcended natural law and scriptural prohibitions. In other words, theologians embraced the sexual revolution of this period.(any wonder there is a rise in reported cases of sexual abuse of children and adults by clergy, especially around 1974?)
4. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary needed to be diminished and God put first (as though he wasn't).
5. Questioned the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Birth and her perpetual virginity. She was just like us after all.
6. Questioned the bodily resurrection of Christ; whether or not he knew his divinity and emphasized his humanity--low Christology. He's just a buddy Savior, a slap you on your back kind of a Guy!
7. Questioned the existence of angels in general and thus Satan in particular
8. Questioned the existence of hell therefore
9. Questioned the existence of heaven.
10. Question the existence of purgatory and thus the need of indulgences, penance, etc.
11. Questioned the need of the Sacrament of Penance
12. Question the validity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders
13. Questioned the sacrificial aspect of the Mass
14. Questioned the permanence of marriage
15. Questioned the liturgical rites of the Church
16. promoted an egalitarian ecclesiology of the church, not distinction between clergy and laity
17. promoted women as priests
18. promoted the dismantling of religious life
19. promoted the deconstruction of Catholic churches based upon the egalitarian understanding of Church as a "classless" society--no division between laity and clergy which the altar railing, presbytery or sanctuary represented.
20. Liturgical silliness that led to the trivialization of all of the liturgies of the Church and the destruction of popular pieties all substituted by para-liturgies of great creativity and constant novelty.
The list goes on and on.
We need internal healing in the Church after a full generation of the above that continues to linger in some places of our Church. We need to acknowledge the smoke of Satan, return to prayers that are of a more "exorcism" character and strive for obedience in the areas of faith, morals, Church discipline and canon law. This is the "power fan" to blow away the smoke of Satan.