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Boston Catholic Journal

Today’s Martyrology



in the Twilight of Reason

Mary, Conceived without Sin, Pray for us who have Recourse to Thee


Mary, Conceived without Sin,

pray for us who have recourse to Thee


Why the One Catholic Church will always Prevail

Why the One Catholic Church

will Always Prevail

How often have we heard that the Church which has endured for over 2000 years — unlike numberless empires, political systems and countless social “revolutions” —  all of which have been tossed into Trotsky’s famous “dustbin of history” (before Communism ended up there in less than a century) ... is in decline? For the time being, perhaps, it is so in the decadent West, but not in Africa and Asia where it has grown exponentially.

The truth of the matter is quite to the contrary: it is precisely because the Church has resisted the prevailing and passing social currents and political doctrines of history — and remained faithful to the Depositum Fidei — the Sacred Deposit of the Faith — that She has prevailed. The doctrines and dogma by which the Church has been articulated through the prompting of the Holy Ghost remain immutable. They are unchanging because they cannot be changed. And they cannot be changed because Sacred Scripture itself cannot be changed, together with the Sacred Tradition around which it is understood and exercises its mandate to,
“Go, therefore and teach all nations; baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” — Christ’s very last words in the Gospel of Matthew (28.19 … last chapter, last verse).

Stat Crux dum volvitur orbis  — “The Cross Remains Standing while the World Turns” (the motto of the Carthusians) — is very much to the point. The Cross, together with the Church, and inseparable from it, remains, has remained, and will always remain despite the turning fortunes and misfortunes of the world. It is Christ’s Kingdom and, as He told us, it is not of this world. 3 She is the Mother of sinners whom She forms into saints. They, too, were, and are, and will be  — in spite of the world ... and, sadly, in spite of many of those within Her.

The Church appears to be presently unraveling precisely because — since it began questioning its very raison d'être at Vatican II — it has made enormous and perfidious efforts to accommodate a world that hates it and hates its teachings and the Christ Who made His New Covenant with it.

Do you really imagine that the Church would suddenly flourish if it is contemptuous of and unfaithful to its spiritual (not worldly) mandate and decides to have (presuming it can; and it cannot) transsexual “female” priestesses, adulterous “marriages”, same-sex marriages, abortions-on-demand, human cloning, human trans-species cloning, while abrogating every moral proscription concerning every aspect of human behavior, claiming that all is acceptable to a non-judgmental God (“all dogs and clones go to Heaven”) proclaimed by secularists — who largely claim that they do not believe in a God (not of their own making and whose attributes are their own)? Do you really think that it would win the adulation of the world? Such a Godless “church” well may. But it would no longer be the Holy Catholic Church. It would not even be a good counterfeit. It would be the world; a world appropriately cross-dressed as a “church”. It would not have the mark of Baptism, but the mark of the beast. It would the abrogation of the Church, or better yet, the transmutation of the Church into the world. In a word, it would be a pointless state of affairs.

Ecclesia Militans — the Church Militant

Since the Second Vatican Council we have, to an astonishing extent, forgotten who we are, and what our mandate is, as a Church: not a social service agency, not an NGO, not a steward of the earth's climate, not an arbiter of wealth and its distribution 1, and certainly not as masters of ourselves. We have lost our focus, if not our entire vision.


The Complete Church

One no longer hears of the complete Church: the Church Militant (Ecclesia Militans, here on earth), the Church Suffering (Ecclesia Penitens, in Purgatory) and the Church Triumphant (Ecclesia Triumphans, in Heaven). They are one inseparable Church. Each exists with the other and prays for the other, and hence we have a clear understanding of the Communion of Saints (Communio Sanctorum) and an even clearer understanding of the efficacy of intercessory prayer. Catholics had always understood this prior to Vatican II. Since then, however, our understanding of the Church has been truncated, diminished, incomplete. Our focus has become on the present with little or no real thought of realities in parallel worlds that are are, paradoxically, the same world to the Catholic. This is, or for two thousand years was, the sole province of the Church Militant whose primary obligation was to tirelessly seek the salvation of one's immortal soul; to know, to love, and to serve God in this life that one may be happy with Him forever in Heaven, and to strive, as “a good soldier of Christ”, 4 against all sin and every temptation we encounter through the blandishments of  “the world, the flesh, and the devil”.

Today, such notions — central to our lives as Catholics — appear oddly quaint; indeed, as quaint as the notion of a tripartite Church: Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant. The Church has been presented to us, not in its multidimensional reality, but as the very local "Faith Community" of the here and now, immersed in time rather than eternity, as broadly inclusive of “sensitivities" (hence our aversion to the word “sin” and our intolerance of the place “Hell”), as democratic, egalitarian, and gender-neutral. It is a place to feel good about oneself and to be assured of ones place in Paradise. It is a place to be indemnified against ones sins (and definitely not to confess them and be absolved of them!). It is pure ritual devoid of all religious ritual. It is not the Church Militant of ages past ... or even a few decades past.

That Church Militant came at great cost to oneself and in many ways. It was the “Narrow Path”. And now, as we all recognize, “the path is broad” 5, or has become so since Vatican II. In its unnecessary and dangerous struggle to “redefine itself” in terms compatible with “the Modern World” or the “21st century”, the Church that emerged from Vatican II hemorrhaged more than two generations of Catholics who spurn the Church as irrelevant (as indeed it has made itself)  — it largely forgot, or more frightening still, completely lost understanding of the very reason of its mission, its purpose, and its very being:

The Church exists for the Salvation of Souls

Everything else is ancillary, secondary, and of incalculably less worth. 2 As such it is ever at enmity with the world which capitalizes upon men for purely social, sexual, and political ends that find their short-lived fulfillment in the here and now. It is why the Church on Earth is called (or at least was called, for 2000 years) the Church MilitantCatholics on earth who, availing themselves of the Sacraments of the Church, perpetually struggle against, and fight the great spiritual battle with sin as the greatest affront to God through the instigation of the evil one and for the salvation of their immortal souls, against an implacable enemy: Saint Paul is clear on this when he wrote to the Ephesians (6.12)  that, “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”

This, then, is our vocation: the call to nothing less than holiness ... not equality; to God ... and not the world, as Saint John warns us:

Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that does the will of God, abides for ever.” (1 St. John 2.15-17)


Liberals — Leftists, really — we will not say “progressives” as they prefer to think themselves, and, after all, “a rose by any other name …” — both ecclesiastic and lay — nevertheless demand this transmutation of the Church as a point of “justice”. Considered carefully, however, a world of such “justice” is a world of insanity, a hellish world beyond the most grotesque vision of today’s darling academic sibyls. We know it! But it is not “correct” to state it … is it? We can, after all, call a rose by any other name … however ghastly the fumes that we insist on calling “fragrance”. As long as cadaverine looks like water, we will call it so, but live not a day if we imbibe it. But because it looks like water we will demand it be treated like water. Much like justice. No?

The Holy Catholic Church will remain all three — Holy, Catholic, and a Church — until the end of time. Why? Because Christ promised it. Can you adduce a better argument? The physical edifice may (indeed, already has) become mean and mediocre like the meager Faith of many of Her blighted children. She may become smaller in number, but for that reason She will be all the more fervent in holiness. That is okay. Parasitic thistles — that grow for a season and die and never re-emerge — are planted among the wheat that also dies but grows again, and manifold, season after season, — these thistles, yes, seem to overwhelm it, so vast is their number. But they have not reached the Threshing Floor where the chaff is separated from the wheat, although it is certain that they will. They must grow to feed the fire that cannot be quenched, while the wheat must grow to feed the Faithful.

The very gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. Do you really fear that Caesar with his debauched children will pull down her walls from without — or, given wide-spread apostasy within Her clerics and “princes” — within?

Boston Catholic Journal

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1  “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's” (St Matthew 22.21)
2   “For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?” (St. Matthew 16.26)
Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence.”  (St. John 18.36)
Labor as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”  (2 Timothy 2.3)
Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!”   (St. Matthew 7.13)






 The Reality of Mortal Sin and the Need for Holy Confession

The Antidote of Death


First, Mortal Sin ...

Our excuses are numberless. In fact, they are as numberless as our sins, none of which are now deemed by us (and, for sorrow, by many priests) grievous enough to preclude our receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. Most often they are reducible simply to this: “I have not committed any mortal sin.”


For Catholics who have never been taught the difference between Mortal and Venial sin — which is to say, the entire last generation of Catholics — we must be clear about the notion of sin — especially the distinction between two kinds of sin, before we can proceed to even understand the necessity, as well as the inestimable value of Holy Confession.       

Only one analogy suffices to make this distinction clear in a way that is particularly accessible to Western society (I do not say “civilization,” for that has ceased). Let us look at the matter somatically, or, through our bodies, or more likely than not, the bodies of others upon which we are, in one way or another, sexually fixated. Perhaps this will provide a visual cue, some imaginative element, to an otherwise immaterial reality:

The distinction between a Mortal Sin and a Venial Sin is akin to the difference between a minor wound ... and death-dealing blow.

In other words, you may accumulate many minor wounds and still live, although each is an impediment to your health and, while small, if left unattended, may yet contribute to something more serious, something more debilitating. It is a small laceration ... awaiting infection.

Mortal wounds, on the other hand, may be many, but any one of them alone will bring you to death. It is not the case that, inflicted with a mortal wound, you may die —the wound is called “mortal” precisely because, as a consequence of it, you in fact do die. We most often understand a mortal wound in a posthumous context, that is to say, in the past tense: the person is already dead, and that is why his injury was called “mortal”.       
It is of the nature of wounds that they are either the one or the other, although the non-mortal wound may be sufficiently grievous to cause lasting deformity or mutilation even if it does not culminate in death.

Physics, Bodies, and Bullets

Clearly, we wish to avoid both, but failing this we immediately tend the wound, see a physician, and apply the recommended remedy. The medicine may be bitter, or the therapy arduous, but we do not curse the doctor for that, still less the laws of physics brought to bear upon human anatomy, in the way, say, of projectiles and the like. Bullets do those things. We do not like it, and we would that bullets behaved otherwise, but the reality is that, however regrettable the result, we cannot, for that reason, alter the path of the bullet nor make it less fatal to the body. The consequences of this unfortunate concatenation of events are not within our will to change. I believe that we will all agree on this. We may argue that the bullet ought not have been shot, but having been shot we understand the inevitability of the result given laws inherent in physics, bodies and bullets.

That the trajectory of a projectile corresponds to a given amount of energy expended over a given distance — and intersected by the human tegument through which it subsequently passes causing death, is a terrible occurrence to be sure, but not one, in and of itself, that we are likely to imprecate. We do not rage against the laws of physics. Indeed, we would find such indignation ... odd, to say nothing of futile.

The laws inherent in physics and the constitution of the human body, are simply not amenable to our will, and we recognize this. We do not despair over it, but become terribly practical given this recognition: we avoid bullets. However great our outrage, we will not find a sane individual disputing it.

The reality we wish to avoid — the reality avoided at all costs at the pulpit — is that Mortal Sin is deadly. You die as a result of it. You will breathe and move and the world will applaud your posthumous existence. But you die to God — your life in God ceases. The fact as little pleases us as it pleases our preachers — sin has real, most often empirical, and always inevitable consequences. The ability of sin to harm, and yes, even kill, is as real and as indifferent to our wishes as the laws of physics that impinge on our bodies.

In our post-enlightened, post-modern pretension to sophistication, we frankly find such a notion abhorrent to our effete sensitivities ... social sensitivities that we have so delicately honed upon the touchstone of correctitude.

On the one hand, we morally concede to the correlation between crime and punishment — and deem it “just” — but somehow never quite attain to any legitimate correspondence between sin and condemnation on the other. We attenuate our clemency in the courts of men, given the gravity of the crime, but do not attain to that same rigor in the tribunal of sin ... given the gravity of the sin. There are, apparently, no capital offenses in the City of God, even as they abound in the City of Man. A mortal life is held to be forfeit for a crime, but life immortal is not held forfeit for a sin.

It is an odd state of affairs that few of us believe that we can abolish crime, while most of us appear to believe that we have virtually abolished sin.

Crime, of course can in fact be abolished.

“How?” you ask.

It is simplicity itself. Legitimize what is criminal. Account nothing a crime and you abolish the notion of crime itself — even as you leave the consequences intact.

“But that is absurd!”, you exclaim.

In very deed ...

A cursory review of civil legislation over the past 30 years reveals that, not only is it not absurd, but attains to policy:

·         Abortion

·         Sexual Deviance (homosexuality, lesbianism, transsexualism, transgenderism)

·         Homosexual “marriage”

·         Cohabitation (Living together unmarried, and in fornication)

·         Pornography

·         Prostitution (England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Philippines, offhand)

Few of us, I assume, would seek recourse to such a solution and for good reason. Legitimizing crime does not indemnify us against it — however much we hold ourselves to have abolished it. Yes?

We can say as much of sin.

In fact, we have said as much. Unlike the immediate consequences of crime, the consequences of sin — even temporally — are often deferred, less immediate ... and because we apprehend them as remote, as distant, as impending only, we dismiss them, for we fail to immediately see the terrible consequences they entail, consequences so terrible, so far-reaching, so much beyond our ken, that they have become effectively mythical, brooding like demons on some distant bourne that we obscurely perceive and never quite forget; an escarpment lost in light and shadow where life quite suddenly drops off that abrupt precipice to death. We know it ... because we know that we dance on the dead.

And now, Holy Confession …     

I will now state something with which you are likely to disagree, and for good reason:

My parish Church is the holiest in all of Christendom; not just in the Archdiocese of Boston, but in all Massachusetts; very likely all New England — perhaps even the entire world.

You will disagree.

In fact, you know your own Catholic parish to be the holiest, perhaps the most sinless parish in the world, and we will both appeal to the same reasons for making this remarkable statement: during Holy Communion the pews are literally emptied.

There is not a sinner among us; at least no sinner guilty of Mortal Sin which prevents our going to Holy Communion, since — as Catholics should know — we add the tremendous sin of sacrilege to whatever mortal sin we carry if we receive Holy Communion while not in a state of grace — which is to say, free of mortal sin.
But as I ponder the empty pews, the stigma of being the sole sinner in the parish weighs heavily upon me as many look askance at my kneeling while all others scramble to make their way to communion — I at least wonder. Do Catholics, do all Catholics, do most Catholics, do at least some Catholics, even know what a mortal sin is anymore? Do they know the difference between a mortal sin that sunders the soul from God, and a venial sin that merely impedes its union with God?

Since the entire congregation have had at least eight years of Catechism, or Religious Education eight to ten years, mind you! — surely so simple, so basic, so fundamental a concept as the difference between serious sin and sins far less grievous in nature, is clearly apprehensible.

A very ready analogy may be to the point: in the civic world, all of us know (probably because the penalty is clearly comprehended, immediate and forthcoming) the difference between grievously unlawful, or capital offenses such as murder and grand larceny, and misdemeanors, like receiving a speeding ticket or maliciously destroying a neighbor’s property. It is a no-brainer. We understand that there are sanctions and penalties involved with such behavior. It is, we are told, the means by which we maintain a “civil”, a mutually responsible, society.

We acknowledge the concept of justice and understand very clearly why it is maintained and what penalties are incurred if it is violated. We have no problem with that. After all, the law is not some gratuitous abstraction, and you are a fool if you think that you can trifle with it and walk away. If the breach is serious enough you are clapped in irons, removed from the community, and deprived of your liberty until justice has exacted its tribute, until you have “paid your debt to society.” By and large we are grateful for the severity of the law, even as its rigors make us uneasy.

We all recognize that our own behavior has not always been unimpeachable ... if not clearly actionable. We do not personally legislate parallel laws that contravene the laws of the state and hold, at any point of divergence, the private interpretation of the law to abrogate the public law. It is the opposite which is true. We may find the laws of the state repugnant to us, unamenable to our own inclinations, even contrary to our own convictions — in which case we are confronted with three clearly distinguishable alternatives: we can absent ourselves from the polity and choose to live elsewhere under a constitution that more closely corresponds with our desiderations and convictions, if such exists; we can continue to enjoy the collateral benefits in the present state that constrains us to abide by the laws through which it is defined and by which it is governed — or, we can seek to amend the law through the venues afforded us by the state.

What we cannot do is to enjoy the prerogatives of the state while either acting in defiance of it, or while subverting it. We understand this, and in fact underwrite it through maintaining our citizenship within it. We understand this broadly as a “pledge of allegiance.”

In any event, we cannot construct a private and parallel universe of statutes and anticipate that the public universe of affairs will recognize, respect, and honor our privately legislated laws. If we choose to abide only by those laws of the state that we do not find disagreeable to us we have not attained to personal freedom, but to arbitrary license; not to civility, but to anarchy. We become both legislator and law. In such a solipsistic “society” the legislature and the corpus of law are as numerous as the individuals legislating them.

Well and good.

But what of God’s Law?

Why, we must ask ourselves, is God’s Law somehow less important, less pertinent to our behavior? Why does it have less bearing upon our responsibilities and our choices — and, most especially — within Church? Is the Divine Law, are the laws of the Church, no more than pious and ultimately indolent sentiments — rather than clearly articulated precepts with very real corresponding sanctions and responsibilities — in other words, coherent laws?      

Do we give tribute to Caesar but withhold it from God? Is the Fasces mightier than the Cross?

We are indeed a generation which had been nurtured on defiance to authority — only seeing now, in our own children, the fruit of that unbridled defiance which we nurtured in them even as we pretended to “deplore it.” Our children were ... "independent” ... not defiant, and we were proud — until we began to detoxify them, to rehabilitate their behavior, to trade notes with our neighbors on “good analysts.” And our kids still get the keys to the car, no matter how grievous their transgression ... their money for the mall — just as we still get Holy Communion, no matter how grievous our offenses against God. We are as blind to our sins as we have made our children blind to their own. After all, a “good parent” “spares the rod” and does not descend to “primitive behavior” such as punishing the child, no? And if we are such “good” parents — how much “better” God? Surely, there is no sin, no offense so grievous, or so trite, as to offend Him ... nothing we can ever do or say such that we would ever forfeit our “right,” not to the keys of the car but to the Kingdom of God, through the Bread of Angels ... Holy Communion — that you as arrogantly insist is as much your right as the keys to the car ...

Still pondering the empty pews, it would seem so. Perhaps it is the case that all the parishioners are in fact guiltless of civil crime, however petty (for these, too, are the stuff of Holy Confession) — as well as sin.

The truly defining question appears to be this: to whom, we must genuinely ask ourselves, do we owe more — to God or man? To the City of God or to the City of Man?

On your blithe way to Holy Communion, ponder this — especially given the ultimate sanction placed before us by no less an authority than Saint Paul:

“Whosoever shall eat this bread or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of the Lord.”  (I Cor. 11:27)

... are you prepared to add sacrilege to your sins?

Or has the notion of sacrilege itself gone the way of mortal sin ... also?

Go to Confession. You must go. It is the only antidote of Mortal Sin, and thus “the antidote of death.” (St. Ignatius of Antioch,135 A.D.)


Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal

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To the Editor:

Just read ‘Mortal Sin and Holy Confession’. Another great reminder of what it means to be an orthodox Roman Catholic. I to, hope the empty pews can only mean that all who are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ are knowledgeable enough to know the difference between being in the state of grace and not being in the state of grace. I fear, like you, that our Vat II Catholic Church has miserably defeated its own purpose by not helping us to know the difference. I can only thank the good Lord that I was privileged to have a true Catholic education for 16 years and pray that I remember all that I was taught, Deo Volente, and I'm sure He is.
Keep up your encouraging work. Those of us in the trenches out here depend on your words of instruction and encouragement.


Dear JT,
I agree with you about the lamentable state into which our Holy Mother the Church has been brought — and not so recently. It has been metastasizing like an aggressive cancer spreading to every tissue in every part of the Church, the Body of Christ — and it appears that very, very, few will call it out for what it has undeniably been, the state of denial in which it is in, in and what it is becoming. You may find the following article interesting in this regard, Jim:  Subsequent generations, I am convinced, will look back upon these grim years with not just sadness, but revulsion — and sorrow at the calculated loss of Faith by through so many who refused to pass it on (L. tradere), and at what cost to so many unfortunate souls? I will no man perdition, but I fear that very many are deserving of it … who have chosen the “wide and easy way.” However much they are admonished, they persist. The word “stupid” derives from the Latin “Stupidus:” to be struck, as with the hand, and made senseless. Regrettably, this is the cause, not the cure.

There is a cure for sin called Sanctifying Grace. But there is no cure for stupid.

Boston Catholic Journal




The Greatest Pope that should have Been

Pope Benedict XVI on balcony with Crozier and the faithful during his pontificate

Pope Benedict was undoubtedly one of the great intellects and luminaries of our age — a brilliant mind only exceeded by his genuine humility. He embraced all his children ... in stark contrast to Francis who embraces only those who find favor with him, who share his ... ideology.

In this sense Pope Benedict XVI was a father to all his spiritual children. Gentle, kind, and courteous in a way foreign to this age; in this respect he was an exemplar to all of us.

This is not to say that his pontificate was flawless. On the one hand, he gave us the motus proprio Summorum Pontificum that restored to us the Mass of the Ages as it had been celebrated in Latin for 2000 years. That it had been torn from us in a fiat by Pope Paul VI and Vatican II was, in our estimation, tantamount to ecclesiastical suicide; if not, then at the very least a criminal and sectarian coup by Modernists.

Summorum Pontificum

Restoring what had been illegitimately taken from us was an act of justice. That it would later be torn from us yet again by Francis was an unconscionable act of pontifical pillage. It was unjust and remains unjust. But after the madness and the almost universal desecration of all things historically and intrinsically Catholic, it was for a brief time the restoration of sanity to the Mass. And how it thrived! But this was to the consternation of Francis ... who famously argued that his predecessors had failed to vigorously implement the effluence (no, not influence) of Vatican II, and that he alone “had the humility and ambition to do so” — failing to recognize that humility and ambition are  not compatible.

The gift was great but not irrevocable.

What is more, Pope Benedict had fallen into the same ecumenical nonsense that his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had fallen into on Oct. 27, 1986, as we witnessed, yet again, the pan-ecumenical scandal in Assisi on June 19, 2011.


Two years later, we would be astounded to find that Pope Benedict had tendered his resignation from the papacy on February 11, 2013, and his subsequent — and never-before-conferred title as “pope-emeritus” — was both baffling and disheartening for many, many Catholics. To further confuse the faithful, he was still addressed as “Your Holiness” the title reserved for a reigning pontiff. For the first time is history since the Avignon papacy and the Great Western Schism in the 14th century when there were two claimants to the papacy, we apparently had two popes living in Rome. The confusion and disappointment was compounded each year — for 10 years — by Benedict’s remaining a “pope-emeritus”; time he could have spent correcting the wayward course of the Church instead of abandoning it (and her children) to what he surely must have known would be a Modernist successor. And when that successor — Francis —emerged from the shadows of the dark logia there was, according to more than a few who witnessed it, an almost instinctual aversion to what appeared.

After many, many, episodes in which Francis found himself contradicting historical Church teaching — and Holy Scripture — and subsequently bringing scandal upon the Church, Benedict apparently did nothing to correct him; something many had seen as a dereliction of duty, especially in light of St. Paul’s example in correcting St. Peter when he failed to be forthright, and temporized with the Jews in Jerusalem 1. The only other pope in history to voluntarily abdicate the Seat of St. Peter was Pope Celestine V in 1294, over 700 years ago. In a word, it was unthinkable —and apart from Pope Celestine, unheard of.

Many see it, in some sense, as “Throwing the Church to the Lions” when she was most in need of defending. Pope Benedict certainly had the mental acuity, and, as we have seen, the physical stamina required by a Defensor Fidei (a Defender oif the Faith) but for reasons unknown to us, chose drop the sword and leave the arena.

Francis and Fixation: the Denouement

That his reckless successor (Francis) deliberately disdains to be called “the Vicar of Christ” — or even the “Patriarch of the West,” says much about the concept of the “hermeneutic of continuity” so often bandied about in today’s post-Modern Church. Instead, Francis chose to be listed merely as “the bishop of Rome” (in what Cardinal Gerhard Müller, called an act of “theological barbarism.)” in what is known as the Annuario Pontificio, as Catholic Culture pointed out. He eschews every identifiably Catholic title attached to all his predecessors, including “Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman province, Sovereign of the Vatican City-State.” Why such a disdainful break with the pontifical history of the 265 popes before him? The Vatican’s explanation is entirely in keeping with the present papacy, and the 4 papacies that preceded it? In their words, doing so “could prove useful to ecumenical dialogue.”  The much-vaunted notion of the concept of the “hermeneutic of continuity” (which purportedly connected the Church present with the Church past — and failed to do so) is, apparently, no longer in favor. “The pope? Oh, you mean the guy down the street?”  It has become barbaric, indeed.

It may have been otherwise for the Church, but God in His inscrutable wisdom — which does, in fact, exceed our understanding — in His permissive will has allowed this. Even from a merely human perspective, we are deserving of Francis, a man after our own hearts and minds, ever cleaving more closely to the world ... and other things. We wanted holiness without sacrifice, a god conformed to our image and articulated in terms of the lowest common denominator — terms equally accessible to children and adults with cognitive impairment. We have dumbed down even Dumb. We wanted to sit in the pews with our arms lazily draped over the the back of the pew (or perhaps stroking the back of a loved one) as though only tolerating what was otherwise extraordinarily stupefying — because it was. We wanted to wear our athletic uniforms, our team-shirts, our shorts and “distressed” (torn-to-the-flesh) jeans to Mass because, after all, we are not there for God, but God is there for us ... and only at our leisure.

All this was a direct consequence of the perilous course that Vatican II would subsequently take; a course for which — in collaboration with the dissident theologians Rahner, Küng, Schillebeeckx, and de Lubac — then Father Ratzinger was also responsible as an influential and “progressive” Peritus, or Theological Consultant. Often in a business suit and tie, in many ways he embodied the Nouvelle Theologie (new theology) together with the failed project, Ressourcement (“a return to the sources”) then in vogue, which attempted to “invigorate” what all five theologians saw as a stale Church in need of “updating.”

The Peritus as (Mr.) Ratzinger, Vatican II

Mr. Joseph Ratzinger and Karl Rahner Vatican II
(Fr.) Ratzinger and Dissident Theologian (Fr.) Karl Rahner

On the other hand, it was also entirely consistent with Benedict’s own contribution to the replacement of the Latin Mass during Vatican II. This may come as a surprise to many who saw in Pope Benedict a champion of the “Tridentine Mass” and Tradition. Regrettably, he was not. Indeed, in 1967 Ratzinger wrote the following in his volume  Problemi e risultati del Concilio Vaticano II in the Journal of Italian Theology: 2

  • “Additions [to the liturgy] of the late Middle Ages … was linked to a set authority, which worked in a strictly bureaucratic way, lacking any historic vision and considering the problem of the liturgy from the sole viewpoint of rubrics and ceremonies, like a problem of etiquette in a saint's court, so to speak.”

  • “There was a complete archeologization of the liturgy, which from the state of a living history was changed into that of pure conservation and, therefore, condemned to an internal death. Liturgy became once and forever a closed construction, firmly petrified. The more it was concerned about the integrity of pre-existent formulas, the more it lost its connection to concrete devotions.”

  • “The solemn baroque mass, through the splendor of the orchestra's performance, became a kind of sacred opera, in which the songs of the priest had their role as did the alternating recitals. .... On the ordinary days that did not allow such a performance, devotions that followed the people's mentality were often added to the mass.”

By the time he became pope, however, and well into the aftermath of Vatican II, he apparently glimpsed the devastation it wrought — but by then the horse was already out of the barn; indeed, as we have recounted, he had been instrumental, much earlier, in building the barn and opening the door.

In many ways, Joseph Ratzinger was the surpassing and ultimately heroic pope ... that should have been.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.



Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal

   Printable PDF Version


1 Galatians. 2.11-15

2  Our grateful acknowledgement to Tradition in Action for the translation into English (


Martyrology for Today

Semen est sanguis Christianorum (The blood of Christians is the seed of the Church) Tertullian, Apologeticum, 50



Wednesday March 22nd in the Year of Grace 2023

Season of Lent

This Day, the Twenty-Second Day of March

At Narbonne, in France, the birthday of the bishop St. Paul, a disciple of the Apostles. He is said to have been the proconsul Sergius Paulus, who was baptized by the blessed Apostle Paul, and left at Narbonne, where he was raised to the Episcopal dignity when the Apostle went to Spain. Having zealously discharged the office of preaching and performed miracles, he departed for Heaven.

At Terracina, St. Epaphroditus, a disciple of the Apostles, who was consecrated bishop of that city by the blessed Apostle Peter.

In Africa, the holy martyrs Saturninus and nine others.

The same day, the birthday of the Saints Callinica and Basilissa, martyrs.

An Ancyra, under Julian the Apostate, St. Basil, priest and martyr, who gave up his soul to God after having endured grievous torments.

At Carthage, St. Octavian, archdeacon, and many thousands of martyrs, who were slain by the Vandals for the Catholic faith.

In the same place, St. Deogratias, bishop of Carthage, who ransomed many captives taken from that city by the Vandals, and performed other good works, after which he went to rest in the Lord.

At Osimo, in the March of Ancona, St. Benvenutus, bishop.

In Sweden, St. Catharine, virgin, daughter of St. Bridget.

At Rome, St. Lea, a widow, whose virtues and happy death are related by St. Jerome.

At Genoa, St. Catharine, a widow, celebrated for her contempt of the world and her love of God.

And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

Omnes sancti Mártyres, oráte pro nobis.(“All ye Holy Martyrs, pray for us”, from the Litaniae Sanctorum, the Litany of the Saints)

. Thanks be to God.


Semen est sanguis Christianorum” — Tertullian

Roman Martyrology by Month

Why the Martyrs Matter

Each day we bring you a calendar, a list really, of the holy Martyrs who had suffered and died for Christ, for His Bride the Church, and for our holy Catholic Faith; men and women for whom — and well they knew — their Profession of Faith would cost them their lives.

They could have repudiated all three (Christ, Church, and Catholic Faith) and kept their lives for a short time longer (even the lapsi only postponed their death — and at so great a cost!)

What would motivate men, women, even children and entire families to willingly undergo the most evil and painfully devised tortures; to suffer death rather than denial?

Why did they not renounce their Catholic Faith when the first flame licked at their feet, after the first eye was plucked out, or after they were “baptized” in mockery by boiling water or molten lead poured over their heads? Why did they not flee to offer incense to the pagan gods since such a ritual concession would be merely perfunctory, having been done, after all, under duress, exacted by the compulsion of the state? What is a little burned incense and a few words uttered without conviction, compared to your own life and the lives of those you love? Surely God knows that you are merely placating the state with empty gestures …

Did they love their wives, husbands, children — their mothers, fathers and friends less than we do? Did they value their own lives less? Were they less sensitive to pain than we are? In a word, what did they possess that we do not?

Nothing. They possessed what we ourselves are given in the Sacrament of Confirmation — but cleaved to it in far greater measure than we do: Faith and faithfulness; fortitude and valor, uncompromising belief in the invincible reality of God, of life eternal in Him for the faithful, of damnation everlasting apart from Him for the unfaithful; of the ephemerality of this passing world and all within it, and lives lived in total accord with that adamant belief.

We are the Martyrs to come! What made them so will make us so. What they suffered we will suffer. What they died for, we will die for. If only we will! For most us, life will be a bloodless martyrdom, a suffering for Christ, for the sake of Christ, for the sake of the Church in a thousand ways outside the arena. The road to Heaven is lined on both sides with Crosses, and upon the Crosses people, people who suffered unknown to the world, but known to God. Catholics living in partibus infidelium, under the scourge of Islam. Loveless marriages. Injustices on all sides. Poverty. Illness. Old age. Dependency. They are the cruciform! Those whose lives became Crosses because they would not flee God, the Church, the call to, the demand for, holiness in the most ordinary things of life made extraordinary through the grace of God. The Martyrology we celebrate each day is just a vignette, a small, immeasurably small, sampling of the martyrdom that has been the lives of countless men and women whom Christ and the Angels know, but whom the world does not know.

“Exemplum enim dedi vobis”, Christ said to His Apostles: “I have given you an example.” And His Martyrs give one to us — and that is why the Martyrs matter.

  • A Martyr is one who suffers tortures and a violent death for the sake of Christ and the Catholic Faith.

  • A Confessor is one who confesses Christ publicly in times of persecution and who suffers torture, or severe punishment by secular authorities as a consequence. It is a title given only given to those who suffered for the Faith  —  but was not  killed for it  —   and who had persevered in the Faith until the end.

Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal

Note: We suggest that you explore our newly edited and revised De SS. Martyrum Cruciatibus — The Torments and Tortures of the Christian Martyrs for an in-depth historical account of the sufferings of the Martyrs.


“Woe to the pastors, that destroy and tear the sheep of my pasture, says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord the God of Israel to the pastors that feed my people:
You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold I will visit upon you for the evil of your doings, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23.1-2)


Boston Catholic Journal

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Scio opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum 
I know your works ... that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.
(Apocalypse 3.8)


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