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Living In A Fool’s Paradise

March 24, 2021 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. JAMES ALTMAN

Dear family, we just celebrated “Laetare Sunday,” which means “to rejoice.” I know that you know that our rejoicing is not about anything in this world; rather, our rejoicing is in eternal joy in the next. Again, our rejoicing is not about anything in this world, which is why our rejoicing this Laetare Sunday, March 14, 2021, is so ironic. It was one year ago, on March 15, 2020, the Ides of March — a sort of doomsday from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar — I said to you the following words:
“Dear family, several dioceses have already canceled all Masses, so now the faithful cannot come to receive the Bread of Life. So, I do not know if we will be able to be together again, maybe the last time in a while.” End quote.
I was only joking at the time, dear family. I was only joking, for never in my wildest imagination did I dream we would to endure what we have endured over the past twelve months.
We have known what eventually would happen from the Book of Chronicles, dating back to some 500 years B.C. As we listen again to what happened back then, let us apply it to what we see going around us today. “In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send His messengers to them, for He had compassion on His people and His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His warnings, and scoffed at His prophets, until the anger of the Lord against His people was so inflamed that there was no remedy.”
Dear family, you know what the anger of the Lord looks like when there was no remedy. The people of Noah’s day found out when the flood came. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah found out when the fire fell from the sky. The Jews in Jerusalem found out circa AD 70 when, for the second time, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Except this time — unlike the Babylonians referred to in Chronicles — the Romans didn’t take captives. They slaughtered every man, woman, and child in the city.
Yes, dear family, we know exactly what the anger of the Lord looks like when there is no remedy. So how stupid was I — how deluded was I — what kind of fool’s paradise was I living in, that I did not look around the world and see all this coming?
How could we not take to heart the Gospel warning of Jesus Himself when He told the parable about the vineyard leased to evil tenants?
“When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.”
Then, as we know, Jesus asked: “What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” And His hearers replied: “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times” (Matt. 21:33-41).
So, given the entirety of salvation history, we know exactly what the anger of the Lord looks like: “Wretched men put to a wretched death.”
Connect the dots, dear family. We know exactly what it looks like when there was no remedy.
So how can I — or you — look around and not see what Jesus said in the beginning of the Gospel of John:
“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (John 1:9-11).
How can we not recognize the words of Jesus spoken later in the Gospel of John?
“And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil” (John 3:19).
History has revealed to us the consequences that come when both secular — and perhaps most importantly — religious leaders prefer darkness to light, because their works were evil.
Lest we try to think differently: “Oh no, father that was then, this is now,” let us go forward into more recent times and ask the question: Have such thoughts been expressed by recent Vicars of Christ on Earth? The answer to that question is “yes.” For the last 150 years, the Vicars of Christ have railed against liberal Catholics. It is the independence of the mind and will from God. Yet we know from recent Vicars of Christ that that is eternally dangerous ground.
On June 18, 1871, almost 150 years ago exactly, Pope Pius IX spoke to the French about liberal Catholics thusly:
“Atheism in legislation [think, dear family, of Roe v. Wade ], indifference in matters of religion, and the pernicious maxims which go under the name of Liberal Catholicism . . . [these] are the true causes of the destruction of states . . . they have been the ruin of France.” He continued: “Believe me, the evil I denounce is more terrible than the Revolution.”
The Supreme Pontiff was referring to the French Revolution, the radical socialist, anti-religious, and revolutionary government that attacked all things Catholic. You will remember how these Godless liberals lined up a group of 16 nuns before the guillotine and executed them, one after another. The Pope continued: “I have always condemned Liberal Catholicism, and I will condemn it again forty times over if it be necessary.”
In March of 1873, Pius IX addressed these words to the Circle of St. Ambrose of Milan, Italy:
“[There are people who] show themselves favorable to the intrusion of secular power upon the domain of spiritual; they lead their partisans to esteem, or at least to tolerate, iniquitous laws as if it were not written that no one can serve two masters.”
In other words, they promulgate or perpetuate the state’s interference in religion. We need no more clearer demonstration of their success than when today’s liberals let 1,000 people at a time into Walmart but only 10 or 25 into a Catholic church.
Pius IX continued: “Those who thus conduct themselves are more dangerous and more baneful than declared enemies, not only because, without being warned of it, perhaps even without being conscious of it, they second the projects of wicked men, but also because, keeping within certain limits, they show themselves with some appearance of probity and sound doctrine.”
He concluded: “They thus deceive the indiscreet friends of conciliation and seduce honest people, who would otherwise have strenuously combated a declared error.”
In other words, they deceive us like Satan in the garden, we who otherwise would fight against them if we knew what they were up to.
On May 8, 1873, Pius IX spoke these words of praise to the Confederation of the Catholic Circle of Belgium:
“What we praise above all in your religious enterprise is the absolute aversion which, as we are informed, you show toward the principles of Liberal Catholicism and your intrepid determination to root them out as soon as possible. In truth you will extirpate the fatal root of discord and you will efficaciously contribute to unite and strengthen the minds of all in so combating this insidious error — much more dangerous than an open enemy because it hides itself under the specious veil of zeal and of charity, and in so endeavoring [you will] protect the people in general from its contaminating influence.”
Dear family, understand that Pius IX was not some outlier. He was not some crazy loon. Rather, he was just one Vicar of Christ speaking out about 2,000 years of unchanged and unchangeable Truth. But if we do not know this Truth, if we are not familiar with this Truth, if we do not know our Catholic history, then we are vulnerable to exactly what Pius IX warned us against.
We are seeing this — in living color — in so many inside the Church today. That is not my opinion. As always, you do not have to take my word for it. Instead, listen to the voice of yet another Vicar of Christ, Pope Pius XI. Back in the 1930s, when faced with Communists fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and socialists in Germany and Italy, Pius XI was asked: “Who are the Church’s most dangerous enemies?” His answered thusly, quote:
“The Church’s worst persecutors have been her own unfaithful bishops, priests, and religious. Opposition from outside is terrible; it gives us many martyrs. But the Church’s worst enemy is her own traitors.”
As it was in the 1870s, as it was in the 1930s, so it is now: The Church’s worst persecutors have been her own unfaithful bishops, priests, and religious. We have witnessed this in the last 20 years of incomprehensible scandal, in the postconciliar liturgical abuses, and in the failure of many of our shepherds to push for us to have access to the sacraments.
As we look around and see the full blossoming of the Russian errors in the destruction of faith and family, let us conclude with the words of Karol Cardinal Wojtyla in 1976:
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think the wide circle of the American society, or the wide circle of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence.”
The future Pope John Paul II said: “It is a trial which the Church must take up…and face courageously.”

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