Thursday, October 30, 2014


I must say that the enigma that Pope Francis is continues to baffle me. He is very traditional when it comes to devotions, angels, saints and the devil, especially the devil.

Yet His Holiness sends out conflicting or ambiguous messages about who should be receiving Holy Communion. Yes, all Catholics, in fact anyone whosoever, is invited into the door of the Church the Catholic Mass and other liturgies. Yet we don't invite everyone, whosoever, to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. We ask that Catholics, practicing Catholics, without any kind of impediment, to receive but only after being properly prepared (one hour fast, no mortal sin and if so, confession prior to Holy Communion or at least a "perfect contrition when confession isn't possible" and then Holy Communion and actual confession).

The Holy Father must make clear to us once again if Mortal Sin that is not forgiven or is institutionalized in a lifestyle alien to the Catholic moral law no longer prohibits a Catholic from receiving or any baptized Christian for that matter or anyone baptized or not who is seeking the Lord!

It would seem to me that any institutional change in Church teaching on the revealed moral law in Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law would be of the devil!

Here's Pope Francis' excellent homily this morning on the devil:

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle being waged against Satan, the world and the passions of the flesh. His comments came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Thursday morning at the Santa Marta residence. He stressed that the devil exists and we must fight against him with the armour of truth.

Pope Francis's reflections during his homily were taken from the words of St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians where the apostle urged Christians to put on the full armour of God in order to resist Satan’s temptations.  A Christian life, he said, has to be defended and it requires both strength and courage. It’s a continuous battle against the three main enemies of Christian life which are the devil, the world and the passions of the flesh.

“From whom do I have to defend myself? What must I do?  Pauls tells us to put on God’s full armour, meaning that God acts as a defence, helping us to resist Satan’s temptations.  Is this clear?  No spiritual life, no Christian life is possible without resisting temptations, without  putting on God’s armour which gives us strength and protects us.”

Saint Paul, continued the Pope, underlines that our battle is not against little things but against the principalities and the ruling forces, in other words against the devil and his followers.

“But in this generation, like so many others, people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him.  Paul tells us this, it’s not me saying it! The Word of God is telling us this.  But we’re not all convinced of this.  And then Paul describes God’s armour and which are the different types that make up this great armour of God.  And he says: ‘So stand your ground,  with truth a belt around your waist.’  The truth is God’s armour.”

By contrast, said Pope Francis, the devil is a liar and the father of liars and in order to fight him we must have truth on our side.  He also underlined the importance of always having our faith in God, like a shield, when fighting this battle against the devil, who, he noted, doesn't throw flowers at us but instead burning arrows.

“Life is a military endeavour.  Christian life is a battle, a beautiful battle, because when God emerges victorious in every step of our life, this gives us joy, a great happiness: the joy that the Lord is the victor within us, with his free gift of salvation.  But we’re all a bit lazy, aren’t we, in this battle and we allow ourselves to get carried away by our passions, by various temptations. That’s because we’re sinners, all of us!  But don’t get discouraged.  Have courage and strength because the Lord is with us.”

My Final Comment: How many of you have heard your parish priest speak about the devil in this way? How many?!


Anonymous said...

Francis' problem is not misunderstanding the existence of the devil, but misunderstanding the truth. He has formed his own brand of theology that is about 50% Catholic. That's how he likes it, because he was brought up in an age when it was permissible for open minded clergy to "correct" the Church, especially its perceived harshness. As often as pop culture celebrities have praised him for what they believe he represents and is saying, you'd think that he might spend a couple of words to set them straight. He has yet to do that one time which indicates that the pop culture has him right and Catholics who don't want to admit that Francis is a terribly flawed pope, have it wrong. On the bright side of things, we can all celebrate Elton John’s nomination of Francis for canonization. Gosh, I wonder why Elton likes him so much? Sorry Father McDonald, Francis is no longer an enigma. Mike

JusadBellum said...

Come to think of it, no actually. I have NOT heard the devil (or world, or flesh) mentioned in homilies directly. Indirectly, in so many words, yes. But by name? No.

I don't know why that is.

Maybe the resident priests here to could explain how they prep their homilies and what sorts of criteria or mental guide posts they use to either add details or not bring up others?

It's easy to criticize from the pew, but a bit harder (unless you love public speaking) to speak for 10 minutes to a mixed crowd of folk who represent the gamut of the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual bell curve.

But it can be done and the ancient fathers, the saints whose homilies come down to us, and modern pastors' homilies (such as in Homiletic and Pastoral review) can provide templates for us to see how 'best practices are done'.

But each guy has his own style and general theme song running in his head. You can't expect everyone to be the same. Still.... there are many ways to bring up the 3 enemies of our soul.

Anonymous said...

The pope, talks and talks and talks, yet after a year And a half I still don't know if he believes in the Faith. So I have stopped listening. His responsibility it to preach the Gospel as the Church has always done. It's not his job to cause confusion, insult people on a daily basis, or to ignore the laws of the Church. I am beginning to question his sanity. And I am not being sarcastic. I'm deadly serious. One moment he is kissing a statue and the next he is telling Muslims to remain good Muslims.

Anonymous said...

"The Holy Father must make clear to us once again if Mortal Sin that is not forgiven or is institutionalized in a lifestyle alien to the Catholic moral law no longer prohibits a Catholic from receiving or any baptized Christian for that matter or anyone baptized or not who is seeking the Lord!"

Could we have this sentence/paragraph in English, please?

Anonymous said...

Anon/Mike, are you suggesting that the Pope is gay? Sounds like you are....

Sorrell Booke said...

I thought I might try something different here Father and actually answer your question:

I have only personally known ONE priest in my lifetime who spoke about the devil and demons. He is a member of a religious order and has been involved in deliverance ministry and assisted with exorcisms since the mid 1960's. His brothers in the order have treated him cruelly over the years, making fun of him and ostracizing him, yet many have come around to respecting him after they realized he was on to something. What I particularly remember about this priest is that every priest in the diocese laughed about him or said he was some kind of unstable fanatic--until someone came for help who they were unable to help--invariably, the problem person was sent to this priest.

Aside from that, the only priests I have ever noticed who take the devil seriously are priests involved in deliverance ministry or priests who regularly offer the Traditional Latin Mass or priests ordained before 1960. Most other priests give little attention to the thought of Satan, demons, temptations and spiritual warfare. Is is any wonder that so few people believe in Hell or sin or have discounted every deviant act from being sinful?

rcg said...

If Pope Francis preaches on the dangers Satan presents I would be foolish to speak against him due to my views another issue.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:05AM
No I'm not suggesting that the pope is gay. What I'm suggesting is that Elton John is fond of the pope because he likes so much what he hears from him and who Mr. John understands him to be. I haven't given any consideration to the possibility of your question. Whenever I see headlines about Francis I get depressed enough, because they are usually of the kind I read yesterday about Mr. John wanting to canonize him. However we do know that there is a gay cabal in the Vatican and that might help to explain the outcome of the "Family Synod". Mike

Paul said...

Are we the Free French or The Collaborators?

Perhaps we are Olympics-era Berlin: see, nothing has changed.

"Live and let live."

The few shepherds who have raised their head above the trench tend to find a bullet (metaphorically) headed their way. No doubt they have encountered Satan.

One can't escape Satan while hiding in the trenches. Better to stick one's head up -- maybe the bullet misses.

MR said...

Did Card Wuerl just re-affirm Church teaching on communion for the remarried here? Since he was picked to write the Synod's documents, I think this could be a good sign.

MR said...

Sorry, forgot to post the quote. Card Wuerl said:
“The fact that there are Catholic couples and people who have re-married, and therefore can’t come to Communion, the fact that they would desperately like to do so, and the Church recognizes the good of that; the question is, 'how do we do that while being faithful to the teaching of the Church concerning the bond?' That brings us to the question of an annulment, the declaration that there never was a bond in the first place,” Cardinal Wuerl commented.

Paul said...

"The fact that there are Catholic couples and people who have re-married..."

Doesn't that say it all?

They haven't "re-married". It isn't a marriage -- it is two people (unless living as brother and sister) living in sin. That's the problem. It's not the "mean old men who learn from Bronze Age goat herders", it's the people who stubbornly reject the teaching of Christ's Church. Christ's Church can assist in remedying the situation (if possible) but the question is: How much does one desire to be in Communion with the Catholic Church?

In a society of "yes", "no" is a rallying cry for those who would deny Truth.

JusadBellum said...

Yep, the bottom line in all this is what is more important to people in the Pews (and their pastors?) their FEELINGS or Christ's will?

If the entire Church of God is to change doctrine to placate the mob's FEELINGS then we will lose the faith in God's revealed way, truth and life.

If instead we hold the line and challenge people to accept the truth we can save their souls.

It's really simple though brutal (to feelings): what does Mr. Smith and his 2nd 'wife' want more than anything? To continue in their sexual relationship or to do God's will which may require a life of celibacy?

What is more important - the here and now or the hereafter? The convenience and ping of concupiscence now...or our relationship with Jesus?

If the former then doctrine, dogma, creed, morals will all ultimately be damned and we'll do whatever we want to do. If the latter then we'll say goodbye to the 'old man' and put on the 'new man' in Christ and thus bear witness to the world of God's power.

Anonymous said...

Feelings are not evil or sinful or things to be avoided. The celebration of the Eucharist....the Mass is theater, a theatrical production designed to appeal to our emotions...our feelings. It has all of the ingredients of theater...the music, costumes, script, smells, the lighting, the stage, the actors (star and supporting cast), the audience,the theater...even ushers. Different people choose different types of theater. Some like westerns or cop shows some musicals, some reality, some cartoons some old classics. Some think that what they like is "the best" and that everybody else should like it too. That's just not the way it is...the way we are.

JusadBellum said...

Right anonymous. It's a mystery which we do in remembrance of Jesus. So there's the human element - the rite, the rubrics, the language, the pomp, music, decorum etc. which are all means by which we enter into a communion with each other.

But then there is the divine element brought to us in the scripture and in the sacrament through the priest who stands in place of, or for, or 'in persona' of Christ to say "do this in memory of me".

The human, community centric stuff is important because we are hard wired to community and culture. But it's the connection with the age-less and universal truths of the scripture and sacrament that make the Mass much more than a mere community gathering. It's the Priest who brings us not just the word of God, but the Logos of God, the very in-fleshment of the word in the Eucharist.

Thus the mystery and holiness of the Mass transcends rite, rubrics, language, trappings, pomp, etc. and thus our need to be genuinely 'sincere' in approaching the altar. If we are not actually in communion with Jesus as disciples because we are addicted to some sin....if we are not objectively, sincerely committed to breaking from sin so as to cling to Jesus... then it's a sacrilege to say with the mouth "amen" and take communion when one's heart is far from God's will.

Just as a man holding back something does not actually marry his fiancé - so too a Catholic who holds back serious areas of life from communion and fidelity to God also doesn't actually eat and drink salvation but condemnation.

It's not for hate that we ought to keep habitual, unrepentant sinners from communion but love that they not commit another sin on top of their others.

If we ourselves are addicted to some habitual sin, we must pray sincerely for liberation each time in Mass. The Mass is great for such prayers and gives us 7 opportunities to repent and ask for pardon and make a firm commitment to avoid sin in the future before presenting ourselves for Communion.

I suspect the issue though is either a lack of belief in the Real Presence or a lack of belief that grace can help us overcome sin (and so again, a lack of faith in the power of God to not only change bread into His Body but also lack of faith in God's power to change us from animals to sons and daughters).

Anonymous said...

Jusad, It's apparent that you feel a need to give your windy if you are preparing children for their First Communion. I guess you like giving them. I, for one, don't read them.

And you did address the most recent one to me...not to the world at large.

George said...

Just as Augustine defined a Sacrament as a visible sign of an invisible reality, so the rubrics, the vestments, the order and choice of prayers and readings, the music, and altar arrangements of the Mass are a visible sign of our love and adoration for the invisible God. This God who is made visible to us at the words of consecration. This has a relationship to the pomp and ceremony accorded a visiting head of state. Christ the King who resides in the Eternal Heaven,comes down to visit us at each Mass. There are a placed in the Eucharistic worship liturgical responses to be uttered by the laity in unison and so in this way we celebrate the Mass as a community of believers,a community gathered together to pay homage and to partake of the Divine sacrifice.

Gene said...

LOL! Fr, you do realize how Manichean and protestant is the picture you chose for the heading of this thread...

Gene said...

Anonymous, I have to disagree with your first post in this thread. I think you do the Pope an injustice…his theology is at least 55% Catholic. Get it right!