Sunday, November 22, 2015


I took this photo of Cardinal, I mean, Archbishop Georg Gänswein when I was in Rome on sabbatical two years ago right now, 2013. It was after a papal Mass, I think when Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Our Lady of Fatima's statue was present:
This talk by  Cardinal, I mean, Archbishop Georg Gänswein on November 20th tells us that this is just how Pope Benedict XVI must feel about future Pope Robert Sarah. How cool would it be to have a Pope Bob!

I think many in the Church in the lowerarchy and the hierarchy are longing for the days of the Vatican speaking clearly and in a linear way and prophetically. Cardinal Robert Sarah is certainly a wonderful candidate for the papacy and from the periphery! But when it comes to the truth, he hits the bull's eye dead center!

Here is Cardinal, I mean, Archbishop Georg Gänswein's talk:

To the Roots!
By Georg Gänswein, 20 November 2015

Most Reverend Cardinal Sarah! Eminences, Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers, Dear Ladies  and Gentlemen!
As I was reading the galleys of your book "God or nothing" this past summer, your candour repeatedly reminded me of the boldness with which Pope Gelasius I in the Rome of the year 494 wrote a famous letter to the Emperor Anastasius I of Constantinople. When at last a suitable date for the presentation of this book here in the Anima was found, I discovered that it is today of all days, on the 20th of November, that the Church commemorates this pope. Today the Church celebrates Pope Gelasius from North Africa. Allow me therefore to briefly say a few words about his letter from the year 494.
Eighteen years before it was written, in the year 476, Germanic tribes had overrun the ancient capital. The Völkerwanderung – the mass migration of peoples – had begun, which brought about the end of the Western Roman Empire. Of that once so powerful empire there remained only the powerless Church of Rome.
It was in this situation that Pope Gelasius wrote the following to the East Roman emperor in Byzantium: To govern the world there is not just one power but two. This we know since the Lord gave to his apostles, after the Last Supper (Luke 22:38), the mysterious information, "two swords", which they had just handed to him, were "enough". However, these two swords would have to be, according to his conception, shared by the Emperor and the Pope throughout history. In other words, with this letter Pope Gelasius I put spiritual and secular power on an equal footing. There should be no more omnipotence. Pope and Emperor were – for the benefit of all people! – considered as partners before God.
This constituted a paradigm shift. But there was more. For Gelasius added to this that the Emperor of Constantinople, by divine right, was a little bit subordinate to him, the Successor of Peter in Rome. For did not even the supreme rulers have to humbly receive the sacraments from the hand of every priest? How much more should then the emperor be obliged to be humble vis-à-vis the pope, whose chair after all towered over every other bishopric? (my comment: here you can see how the Byzantine Church, part of which would become the schismatic Orthodox Church would cringe, but they would have liked both pope and emperor being on equal footing and thus we see the roots of nationalism in Orthodoxy, a novelty to say the least!)

The claim was outrageous. No wonder then that the Byzantine emperor at the time all but shrugged off the suggestion.
But the "two swords doctrine", as the claim was named after this letter, would describe the relationship between church and state for about 600 years. Its indirect effects lasted infinitely longer. The gradual emergence of Western democracies is inconceivable without this claim. Because here not only the foundation for the sovereignty of the Church was laid – but also for any legitimate opposition.
Europe in any case has painfully grown and matured from this time onward. The history of the Catholic Church as a civilizing force is unthinkable without the example that Gelasius I. set in opposing the pursuit of omnipotence by Emperor Anastasius I. The subsequent separation of church and state and the system of a "balance of power" began with this letter, when the powerless pope suddenly, fearlessly, denied the most powerful ruler of the world the right to claim to also reign over the souls of his subjects. It was a time of turmoil and the migration of peoples, as I said, during which the Roman Church became the decisive authority of the West.
Of all this today, as quite suddenly a mass migration is again flooding Europe from the East, the historically-minded Cardinal Sarah is very much aware, hailing, just like Gelasius, from Africa, that most vital and dynamic part of the universal, global Church. Probably, therefore, the groundbreaking "African" Synods of Carthage from the 3rd to the 5th century are as present to him as any subsequent councils up to the Second Vatican. Quite certainly he sees clearly – as only few others will – that many states today once more lay claim, with all their might, to that "spiritual power" that the Church once wrested from them in a long process for the benefit of society as a whole.
For when the states of the West today attempt to overturn, step by step, natural law at the behest of globally active pressure groups; when they want to adjudge, for themselves, on the very nature of man (as in the highly ideological programs of Gender Mainstreaming), then this is more  than just a fatal relapse into the rule of the arbitrary. It is primarily a new submission to that totalitarian temptation that has always accompanied our history, like a shadow.
Every generation knows this temptation, even though it manifests itself in a new form and language in every era. Cardinal Sarah today confidently and forcefully insists that the Church must not be allowed to dissolve into the Zeitgeist, even where this spirit comes disguised and camouflaged as science, as we already know it did with racism and Marxism.
Never again should there be any institution whatsoever of omnipotence. Neither the state nor the Zeitgeist has the right to claim it for them – and neither, of course, does the Church. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Absolutely. But unto God what is God's! It is on this distinction that Cardinal Sarah today insists; a solitary, frank and intrepid voice.
The state must be not a religion, as it is currently horrifically expressed in the so-called Islamic State. Equally, the State may not prescribe to the people Secularism as a supposedly neutral world view, as it is nothing more than a new pseudo-religion, which once again takes up where the totalitarian ideologies of the last century left off in attempting to denounce and ultimately extinguish Christianity (and every other religion) as outdated and useless.
That is why this book by Cardinal Sarah is radical. Not in the sense in which we usually use the word today, but in the original sense of the word. The Latin radix is called "root" [Wurzel]  in German. In this sense, the book is radical. Because this book takes us back again to the roots of our Faith. It is the radicalism of the Gospel that inspired this book. The author is "convinced that one of the most important tasks of the Church is to let the West rediscover the radiant face of Jesus."
It is for this reason that he has no hesitation to talk anew about the incarnation of God and the radical nature of this good news, which he contrasts with an unsparing analysis of our time. He opens our eyes to the fact that the new forms of indifference to God are not just mental deviations one can simply ignore. He recognizes an existential threat to human civilization par excellence in the moral transformation of our societies.
There is no question that the mission of actively proclaiming anew the Gospel is gaining urgency in this precarious situation. In this hour he arises, prophetically. He knows that the Gospel which once transformed cultures is now in danger of being transformed by so-called "realities of life". For two thousand years, the Church has cultivated the world with the power of the Gospel. Conversely, it will not work. Revelation must not be adapted to the world. The world wants to devour God. But God wants to attract and convince us and the world.
In this struggle, this book is therefore not a fleeting contribution to a certain debate. It is also not a reply to specific points of view of others. To say this would not do justice to the depth and brilliance of this witness of Faith. Cardinal Sarah is not concerned with individual points of debate, but with faith as a whole. He demonstrates how an individual issue is to be understood by correctly understanding the entirety of our Faith. And how, conversely, every theological attempt to isolate sub-questions damages and weakens the whole.
Yet this book has neither turned out a manifesto nor a polemic. It is a guide to God, who has shown his human face in Jesus Christ. It is a Vademecum for the start of the Holy Year.
On the 20th of November, 2016 – today in one year’s time – this jubilee year dedicated to the "Face of Mercy" will already be over. Until then, we can learn most valuable lessons about the nature of mercy from this book. For "mercy and rigor of teaching can only exist together," Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange wrote already in 1923. He continued:
"The Church is in her principles intolerant, because she believes, and she is tolerant in practice, because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant with regards to the principles because they do not believe, and they are intolerant in practice because they do not love”.
Cardinal Sarah is someone who loves. And he is a man who shows us here how and which masterpiece God wants to shape us into if we do not oppose His artist’s hands. This book is a book of Christ. It is a confession of faith. We must imagine its title as a joyful sigh: God or nothing!


Kathleen1031 said...

What a tremendous tribute to Cardinal Sarah and his book, which I had heard good things about, but had not yet purchased.
Clearly now, I must, and look forward to reading it.
Our church is in crisis, most obviously, but God will not leave us entirely abandoned.

Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

Perhaps, by some miracle, Cardinal Sarah will be the next pope.

But it would take just that, a miracle, in the Church's current climate. Oremus.

George said...

"The Church is in her principles intolerant, because she believes, and she is tolerant in practice, because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant with regards to the principles because they do not believe, and they are intolerant in practice because they do not love”.

There is no contradiction or conflict between God's Mercy and His Justice, between His Law and His Love.
Each are applied through His Holy Will in accordance with His inscrutable Wisdom and Divine Nature.
Mercy and Justice are both within our God and they exist within Him without contradiction. God's Mercy cannot be separated from His Justice because they both exist within Him. Each are governed by His Divine Love to work in perfect harmony for the benefit of our salvation.
There is no conflict and contradiction within God and these Divine attributes, His Mercy and Justice, work in harmony to the good of all.
So it is likewise with God's Holy Church in her principles and her practice.

Mallen said...

I am reading Cardinal Sarah's book now and can hardly put it down. Excellent!


TJM said...

The racist Cardinal Kasper of Germany will not hear of it.

Anonymous said...

As he was one of the 13 who signed the letter to Pope Francis, Cardinal Sarah was one of those criticized by Cardinal Wuerl as not liking Pope Francis and, therefore, must be counted among the right-wing crazies who are trying to restore the Church.

Gene said...

Where do any of you get the idea that the Church will move back toward a more believing, traditional faith? I think, at best, they will attempt some kind of compromise by choosing a so-called "moderate" know, sort of a Jeb Bush type of Pope, which may as well be another Francis.

Anonymous said...

I try to always be the eternal optimist, but I'm on the same page as Gene on this one, barring direct intervention from the Holy Spirit, we will continue in the status quo of the last 50 years, minus Benedict of course. Or maybe, if the rumblings from Rome are to be believed, Francis has been such a disaster, which Fr. Z and others have noted that as much has been said at the Vatican, that they will move back towards a Benedict.


Cletus Ordo said...

Speculations on who the next pope will be are pointless. In case any of us have forgotten, none of the "experts" handicapping the last papal election had Bergoglio's name anywhere on the radar. The Holy Spirit is the unpredictable element in conclaves, and none of us know what He is going to do, although one could make a strong argument that our current pope was elected to awaken us out of our stupor as a sort of chastisement.

What I find interesting is that there is a growing phenomenon of speculation about who the next pope will be. This sounds very much like the kind of editorializing one would find in a newspaper (anyone remember newspapers?) in a city of a losing
NFL team, when they realize that their had coach has got to go, and speculation rises as to whom will replace him.

Alas, in our case, the team owner is only approachable through prayer.

Anonymous said...

Wake me when the Bergoglio nightmare is over please.

George said...

The next Pope's primary initiative will need to be in restoring the Church in Europe and North, Central and South America. The effort of the next papacy will need to focus on the re-conversion of that part of the Church where effectively, large segments are in apostasy. The healthy parts of the Body of Christ will have to be brought to bear to heal those parts which are sick. This is so that once more the Church, the Divinely -ordained Instrument of Salvation, will come to be that which more and more across her ecclesial domain, encompasses a unity and universality of holiness in her members.

Flavius Hesychius said...

A pedantic point here:

There never was a 'Byzantine Church', or even a 'Byzantine Empire'. The word 'Byzantine' is an invented term. It's a dangerous term because it only fuels the belief that Christianity destroyed the Roman Empire, despite the fact the Empire and its state church continued to exist until 1453.

Gene said...

Yeah, but Byzantine is a good in..."this Pope has a byzantine approach to theology," or "Obama has a somewhat byzantine understanding of a Constitutional Republic..."

Marc said...

Flavius, you should know better than to try to insert actual facts or reasoned argument into a discussion of this topic, especially considering the lack of facts and reasoned argument coming from the person whom you are attempting to correct.

Gene, "byzantine" is not synonymous with "idiotic," as you suggest. :-)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

To all concerned, just realize that I am a Catholic priest and must warn former Catholics who have gone into schism by joining the Orthodox Church that their soul is in jeopardy if they have done so intentionally, especially after having made vows and promises when their were either baptized into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church or made a Profession of Faith along with the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. When one has had the opportunity for a lengthy discernment as an adult, accountability will be all the more severe with the good Lord on the day of judgment. Separating from the Pontiff for whatever reason, especially after having joined the Catholic Church relatively recently is a mortal sin and verges on apostasy. Quoting what the Orthodox states about this to a Catholic priest has little or no meaning.

Marc said...

Father, I think that you are definitely upholding your duty as a Catholic priest, and I respect that you are willing to do so.

I do not take issue with your warnings to the people you describe. I take issue with the poor manner in which you are issuing those warnings since your arguments are not rooted in facts and are otherwise not very strong arguments (in my opinion). The danger in going beyond mere warning and engaging in a debate with weak arguments is that it makes the other person's arguments appear very strong and it might have the effect of further entrenching the other person in their viewpoint when they see how strong their arguments (especially those from history) are compared the arguments that you are raising as a Catholic priest.

In the interest of full disclosure, I became Catholic as an adult, and I left the Church and was baptized into the Orthodox Church. I subsequently returned to the Catholic Church. At this moment in time, my personal feeling about religion is one of ambivalence due to the things that are going on in the Catholic Church and in the world at large. So, my argumentation here is mostly based on my desire to simply have a conversation with other people about a subject that interests me -- religion.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc you and your young family are in my prayers. Perhaps it is good to hear Christ through another Mark:

1* On another occasiona he began to teach by the sea.* A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.b 2And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, 3* “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. 7Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. 8And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables. 10And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. 11* He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, 12so that

‘they may look and see but not perceive,

and hear and listen but not understand,

in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.’

Marc said...

Thank you for your prayers, Father. That means a lot to me.

Anonymous said...

Marc, we have had the conversation before and Fr McDonald is merely stating what the Church teaches in regard to the seriousness of leaving the Church once baptised and confirmed. I personally cannot see how a person, truly converted, though, can walk in and out of churches when things don't appear to fit what they want. Unfortunately, I have found that sometimes people who do that end up with no faith at all, so take a serious look at what you are doing and seek guidance if you can.

What actually made you convert to the Church in the first place? Nothing has changed between then and now. All the tenets of the Faith are still the same as when you joined. As Cardinal Burke said, not even a Pope can change dogmas of the Faith, even if he wanted to. Even the SSPX claim not to have left the Church - they simply don't agree with some things in the Church. I don't agree with some individuals in the Church, I don't agree with the liberals in the Church, I don't agree with some of the shoddy liturgy that I have to endure but none of that is the Church, per se.

Look at all the dogmas of the Church - did you accept those when you decided to become a Catholic? Did you join the Church merely because you liked the cosmetics of the Church? A true conversion to Catholicism means accepting the truths of the Church and Her teachings - including the very valid point Fr McDonald makes above about the jeopardy you may put your soul into. Take what he says seriously because it is no joking matter. Faith is a gift from God so pray for that gift.

Marc said...

Jan, I'm going to ignore your ideas about "true conversion" because the underlying idea that you're conveying with that is tautological, akin to the Protestant eternal security idea.

I converted to the Catholic Church (from atheism) as a result of a long period of comparative religious study. I settled on the Catholic Church on the belief that it was the "original" expression of Christianity. After I converted, I continued to study history and theology, and I discovered the traditional Mass. With that, I found that modern Catholicism really has little connection to the "original" expression of Christianity. So, once again, I cast about searching for the original Church.

I found that Church in the Orthodox Church. It is safe to say that, in a sense, Catholicism was necessary for me because it allowed me to understand certain ecclesiological and doctrinal issues and to thereby to understand just what was "orthodox" about the Orthodox Church. If I had been aware of those issues and the existence of the Orthodox Church, I would likely have never converted to Catholicism.

I don't expect to convince you that it is possible for someone to accept all the dogmas of the Church, but then, after further study of the historical and theological issues involved, to conclude that certain of those dogmas are incorrect. In fact, that is extremely likely if one's barometer for correctness has to do with an historical lineage traceable to the Church fathers.

Anyway, I am aware of all your ideas about popes not changing doctrines, etc. I don't know what the SSPX has to do with anything. I don't have to endure shoddy liturgy since we have several traditional chapels where I live -- doctrine is more important than liturgy anyway. And whatever the doctrines, the Roman Rite is truly splendid. I did not join the Church because of aesthetics.

And I don't really need you to give me pointers about my soul, but I don't expect that to stop you from writing to me like we've known each other for years. (Father McDonald writes to me in this way because we have known each other for years.)

Anonymous said...

I don't need to know any Catholic for years, Marc, to tell them not to walk over a cliff. What Fr McDonald has said is the teaching of the Catholic Church, nothing more. You can read it in the catechism for yourself that YOU are putting YOUR soul in danger. From what you have said it does seem that you have never truly converted. You are in fact only experimenting, moving from place to place, like a guy who says he's found his one true love, marries her and then moves on to his next one true love without any compunction. You just need to face up to the hard cold facts.

Marc said...

Jan, I don't mind moving from place to place -- I won't stay involved in a place that is false just because I happened to start there.

Do you think that a person who converts from nothing to, say, Methodism has "never truly converted" if that person, through further study and prayer, decides to leave Methodism and becomes Catholic?

Perhaps you're right, though, that I should face the "hard cold facts" about Catholicism and formally leave again. Thank you for helping to make the situation more clear for me.

Flavius Hesychius said...

I've said it before: I don't think lay cradle Catholics are competent to judge what is and is not a 'true conversion', especially since they've never converted in the first place. I guess it's easier to have your faith given to you on a silver platter.


It's a shame I've never met you in person.


You are in fact only experimenting, moving from place to place, like a guy who says he's found his one true love, marries her and then moves on to his next one true love without any compunction

What nonsense. I'm still amazed at your ability to know these things about strangers, Jan.

Anonymous said...

Marc, yes, I would say that a person who converts from nothing to, say, Methodism and then goes on to something else, no, never did truly convert to Methodism. Just as someone who thinks they are in love and marry, probably in haste, then find someone else never truly loved in the first place. Confirmation is a sacrament and you have made promises. Sacraments leave an indelible sign on the soul and whether you choose to walk out or not that indelible mark remains, like the sacrament of Holy Orders. A priest may become laicised but his priesthood remains unchanged - an indelible mark on his soul. You need to pray for the gift of Faith. When you have truly got it you will never leave or consider leaving because that Faith will indeed be your one true love. It's like the husband and wife, truly in love, who stick together through thick and thin, in sorrows, in sickness and in health.

At one time it took quite a while before someone who wanted to become a Catholic could become one. They were normally instructed by a priest over months and years, not like today where they are run through the RCIA system in a very short time by lay people, many who don't even know the Faith themselves, and I have heard there are quite a few who leave within a few months. It's a serious business making those promises and people should be made fully aware of that and not to jump in lightly. People should not be admitted until they are completely sure.

There is an interesting article entitled why I am not leaving the Church, written by a convert:

"southern Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor remarked,

“The church is founded on Peter who denied Christ three times and couldn’t walk on water by himself. You are expecting his successors to walk on the water. All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful…Human nature is so faulty that it can resist any amount of grace and most of the time it does. The Church does well to hold her own; you are asking that she show a profit. When she shows a profit, you have a saint.”

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI likened the Catholic Church to the moon,

“The moon’s light is not its own light but rather, the light of another. It is darkness and brightness at the same time. The moon itself is darkness, but it bestows brightness that comes from another heavenly body whose light it transmits.”

I am sure you pray, Marc. I am sure your heart is in the right place. All the things that are done by some in the Church hurt us deeply and cause us righteous anger, but it is the Faith that keeps us going, through thick and thin, despite everything we continue on. Pray for the gift of Faith and you will get it. Believe me, it is stronger than anything else in life. Once you have it you would give up your life rather than lose it and you will realise that it is not like a garment that can be taken on and off at will and nothing else comes close.

Marc said...

Jan, I appreciate that you are logically consistent. Still, I think it is possible to convert to something and then leave it after further study reveals it to be false. In the case of Roman Catholicism, I see it as a bit of a bait and switch. The Catholicism of books and history is not the Catholicism in the real world of today. Once one takes an honest look at the novelties of the past few decades and honestly traces back the history of novelty to find when it began, the conclusion of that inquiry is quite clear and illuminating. Perhaps it is only possible to a convert to have the intellectual freedom to engage in such an honest inquiry.

To use your analogy, converting to Catholicism is a bit like marrying someone who has told you all about herself, but once you are married, you find she's lied about her history and she turns out to be schizophrenic.

Flavius, I think we'd be good friends if we met in person.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what you say, Marc, leads me to believe you were never truly converted. Unlike the Catholic Thinker in the Pathos blog you have allowed yourself to be deviated by the actions of some liberals in the Church. If you truly look at all the Church's teachings and at Her dogma, nothing has changed. If you had lived during the time of Arianism you would have left then too saying the Church was no longer the same, but She was - it was just some individuals who were in error just as they are and have been and will be down the centuries.

The following won't convert you but it is very interesting that they who had a direct conversion were immediately given the truths of the Catholic Faith - not the truths of any other Church. André Frossard was the son of one of the founders of the French Communist Party. His book "God is Real I have met Him" was a best seller at the time of release. He was converted and embraced the faith. He went through the upheavels of Vatican II and the pedophilia scandal but nothing rocked his Faith and he died a Catholic in 1995.

Andre Frossard's conversion was an on-the-spot encounter with God before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar which at that time he didn't even know what it was. It was an extraordinary encounter where he says he saw colours that he never knew existed, he said he could see himself absolutely steeped in mud and he saw Him whose name he could never speak for fear of wounding his tenderness.

The Catholic Church has produced and continues to produce saints - no other Church can point to that. In this day and age they may have good people but they don't have a Mother Teresa, they don't have an Edith Stein, they don't have a Maximillian Kolbe, they don't have a Thomas Aquinas, they don't have Augustine. Either the Church is true today or She never was. God doesn't make stepchanges. Even when the Jews were unfaithful He never lost faith, and so it is with the Church as it will be at the end of time and you can choose to be within or without. With free will you can choose what you will.

"Although they took place almost a hundred years apart, the conversions of atheists Alfonse Ratisbonne and André Frossard had many things in common—the most striking of which were their sudden and instantaneous experience of the mystery of God, their discovery of the truth of the Blessed Trinity together with all the doctrinal truths proclaimed by the Catholic Church. Why did André Frossard, an atheist, emerge from his extraordinary encounter with God in June of 1935 a Catholic, and not a Protestant or a Muslim? Precisely because there is but one God, and He revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. God can be known and encountered only in the Catholic Church, because only in the Catholic Church is the fullness of truth about God and the salvation of the human race proclaimed. God is a God of such great humility that He gives Himself to us entirely—His love and eternal life—in the mystery of the Eucharist.

Frossard states that his extraordinary encounter with God involved absolutely no choice on his part. He did not choose the path of faith for himself; even less did he choose the Catholic Church. He was simply, with absolute clarity, given the certainty that the fullness of truth resided in the Catholic Church alone. Only later, when he underwent catechesis in preparation for baptism, did he realize that he had already received full knowledge of the faith during his conversion and encounter with God. It was with utter amazement that he stated that everything he had then received had already centuries earlier been formulated and proclaimed by the teaching authority of the Church."