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by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
One of the primary and constant themes of the preaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ was that we should judge things according to the truth. And the truth regards not only what can be seen, but what cannot be seen, but inferred from looking at the facts with faith.
And He put us to the extreme test by what He did and suffered. Because if you only allowed yourself to be amazed at His miracles and to admire His teaching, His Passion was so much the utter contradiction of worldly logic, that mere human admiration would be shattered.
The other extreme test He put us to was to have faith that He was the Bread of Life come down from Heaven, and thus that He is truly, really and substantially there in the Blessed Sacrament. The eyes see bread and wine, but with faith, they see the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Many ask me what is going on in the Church right now, and I have written an essay about this before. But now I want to approach the same problem from a different point of view.
The Vicar of the Christ Who ascended into Heaven
When Christ was about to ascend into Heaven, He said some truly marvelous words: All power in Heaven and Earth has been given to Me (Matthew 28:18 according to the Vulgate). This passage is often translated with the word, “authority”, not “power”, which if understood badly, as it often is, is understood to refer only to legal authority. But the Greek says, πᾶσα ἐξουσία, means the power to act. It is not just the right to act.
These words are tremendous because of their implication. Christ Our Lord, is not only God, but wields the Divine Power in all its fullness even as Man.
The import for us is that this God become Man is the author of the office of Saint Peter. Peter is not just the Vicar of Christ on earth. Peter is the Vicar of the Christ Who ascended into Heaven and wields all power to act, in Heaven and Earth.
This can be seen in the history of the Church. We Roman Catholics often boast about the Roman Church being superior to the other Apostolic Churches or more fecund in spreading the faith or having saints. We speak often as if this is because of the superiority of Western Civilization or of the Roman Culture, legal system, or philosophical or theological sciences in the West.
The Vicar of the Christ with all power to act
But the mystical truth is quiet other. It is not us, nor the work of our hands, it is the Office of Peter. For the Successors of Saint Peter hold the office of the Vicar of Christ. and not only of any Christ, but of Christ with all the power to act.
The man who in truth has this office, by his mere existence and our communion, with him, merits for us grace to act. He does not merit this by being a good pope or a bad pope, though if he be a good pope he manifests this more. No he merits it in a higher sense, because the Office of St. Peter has this instrumentality in the order of grace by its very nature as the Vicarship or Vice-Roy of Christ Jesus, Who has all power to act.
In this way, the last words of Our Lord on Earth, were a profound catechesis on the the nature of the Church and the order of grace. Our Lord was promising, by these words, that those who remained in communion with His Vicar, Saint Peter and his successors, would have the grace to accomplish His Final and Greatest Commandment: Go make disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things which I commanded you!
The Petrine munus cannot be hidden
It follows then, that you cannot hide the effects of the Papal Office. You cannot bury them in your sins or wipe out its force by your personal defects. It exists and is empowered on a divine level, the human cannot overwhelm it. This is because as Vicar of the One who has all power to act, there is no greater instrument in all the cosmos to mediate that active power, than the Office of Peter.
And thus, all of us who are in communion with the true Successor of Saint Peter will have the graces to accomplish the will of God, not because we merit it for our personal good works, but because we obtain it by being in and remaining in communion with the Vicar of Our Lord and Savior.
Likewise, if you are not the true successor of Saint Peter you cannot hide it. It will be evident in the immorality, blasphemies, idolatries, loss of faith, loss of every virtue and finally total abandonment of the divine ministry. You can see that in the cult of Palmar, Spain, who claim to have the true pope, but whose popes leave office and marry women.
Interpret the signs of the times!
Likewise, if the man you follow as Pope is ordering you not to be a Bishop, not to be a priest, not to believe, not to pray, not to frequent the sacraments, not to have devotion, not to practice virtue, not to be chaste, not the resist the world, the flesh or the devil, in short, not to be a Christian…
Then I say you need to discern the signs of the times. Christ Jesus did not say, All power to not act in Heaven and Earth has been given to Me.
Thus, the conclusion is inescapable. You’re mistaken. The one you think has the petrine munus, does not have it, because if he did, he would have the power to act and communicate this power to all the Bishops and clergy in communion with him. But it has been 7 years that he and they have been in formal schism with the one who does have that power, and now, their spiritual batteries have run down, and are dead. And the lights of the Church, that is the Sacraments, have gone out.
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“Unless you do penance, you shall all perish likewise.”
(St. Luke 13:5)
“So likewise, every one of you who does not renounce all that he has, cannot be My disciple.”
(St. Luke 14:33)
“Because he who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (St. Luke 14:11)
by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
On one occasion Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Faustina Kowalska and showed her the night sky, filled with the moon and stars. And He pointed to the full moon and said to the Saint, “You see how bright the moon is tonight, compared to the stars? Know that the glory of one soul in Heaven who was a faithful religious is like that in comparison to the glory of one soul who was a faithful layman.”
The greatness, beauty, honor, and glory of the religious vocation is a thing unheard of, unknown, and unappreciated in the world. Not only today; but in the past and until the end of time. It is unheard of in the world because the world does not speak of the religious life, except to ridicule it. It is unknown of in the world, because the world knows only pride of life, pride of the eyes and vanity of spirit. It is unappreciated in the world, because the world’s love leads to death; while a religious vocation leads straight to eternal life.
When a vocation begins to think of a religious vocation, he invariably considers that it is a difficult and narrow path. It contradicts what our nature loves, wants and is comfortable with. It contradicts what our parents, relatives, friends and worldly idols encourage us toward. It contradicts the freedom of life, the self determination of a career and the control our society encourages us to have over our life, lived here and now for the there and now. In short a religious vocation is the exact opposite of the creed of the world, the flesh and the devil.
To understand and appreciate and begin to desire a religious vocation, let us consider the four aspects of the essence of a religious vocation: its greatness, beauty, honor and glory.
The Greatness of a Religious Vocation
The greatness of the religious vocation is founded upon its essence. A religious vocation is a calling from the Triune God to devote one’s entire being and life, soul and body, heart and mind, prayer and works, to the knowledge, love and service of Him in this life, and to a special life and blessedness with Him in the world to come.
“Why did God make you?” This is the first question in the traditional Catechism, taught to children. And the answer is: “To know, love and serve God in this life, and to be blessed with Him forever in the life to come.” At Lourdes, St. Bernadette Soubirous, who was a cordbearer of St. Francis of Assisi, asked a favor of Our Lady. Our Blessed Mother replied: “I never promised to make you happy in this world, but only in the world to come.”
The idolization of technology during the last century has led to a complete here-and-now mentality in modern society. How many of our contemporaries are concerned solely and wholly with making money, getting a promotion, buying a house, raising a family, finding and enjoying new entertainments or be tourists here and there. But God did not make us for this world. God did not fashion us to be entertained in this life. God did not intend us to be satisfied here. If we are content with this life, entertained in this life, satisfied with this life, oh how sad, miserable, ignorant and wretched we truly are.
You shall die. God fixed the day before the foundation of the world. It will be for the punishment of your sins, for the punishment of the sin of Adam, if you die the friend of God; for the punishment of your own sins, if you die His enemy.
To be a religious is to consecrate oneself to the most important work in life: being the friend of God. If we become and remain His friend, His faithful servant, when we die He will grant us eternal life. This is the meaning of life; this is the mystery of life. It is that simple.
The greatness of a religious vocation is founded upon the essence of a religious vocation. A religious vocation is a calling from God to dedicate oneself entirely and purely to Himself. Since God is infinite goodness and eternal life, such a relationship is a arrow drawn and shot up into the infinity and eternity of God. As such a religious vocation is a calling to the maximum greatness a man can ever hope for and achieve: the eternal divine sonship, by the adoption of grace.
The Beauty of a Religious Vocation
The beauty of a religious vocation consists in the beauty of God. The religious vocation is an invitation and path to become immersed in the life and beauty of God. This is accomplished by our cooperation with the life of grace. Grace as you know is the participation in the life of the Most Blessed Trinity. Now God is perfect, infinite and eternal Beauty. And beauty is the harmony of order in goodness. So a religious vocation is a calling to become absorbed in God, immersed via grace into the beauty of mind, the beauty of heart and the beauty of spirit.
The beauty of mind to which a religious is called, is the immersion of our intellect in revealed truth in this life by faith and the virtues of wisdom and understanding and knowledge. The beauty of heart to which a religious is called, is the immersion of our will in the pure love of God via the virtues of charity, hope, prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice. The beauty of spirit to which a religious is called, is the exaltation of our mind and heart and body in the contemplation of God for his own sake and the dedication of our life to the works of mercy towards all.
The beauty of a religious vocation is seen so clearly in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose beauty of mind is so remarkably seen in the Magnificat, whose beauty of heart is so remarkable seen in her silent witness at the foot of the cross, and whose beauty of spirit is the sight which so many saints and holy souls have longed for and sought ought with so much prayer and fasting and good works. Indeed Our Blessed Mother is so beautiful that she has single handedly inspired the greatest of artists to the work of beauty.
The beauty of a religious vocation is seen also very clearly in the life of the Saints. How the saints inspire us to virtue, console us with their words, enlighten us with their teachings, encourage us in sorrows and urge us on to the perfection of charity. The saints are our best friends. How great an honor, if God should grant us the desire to follow in their footsteps. Thought not all Saints where religious; nearly all saints were religious, or if they were not, they lived more like religious than even some religious.
The Honor of a Religious Vocation
The honor of a religious vocation is derived from the One whom a religious serves. There is nothing greater than the service of the Most High and Blessed God, Three and One, the Eternal Lord, the Everlasting Creator, He who is all good, wholly good, without whom nothing is good.
Without God there is not honor, with God there is all honor; to serve God a little is a already a great honor, to serve Him faithfully a greater honor; but to serve Him faithfully and perfectly, that is entirely and wholly and perseveringly: this is the greatest honor, a sublime destiny and the work meriting a stupendous and amazing reward.
The honor of a religious vocation is the honor of serving a Great King, a most noble Redeemer, and a most powerful Master.
A religious is called to serve a Great King. Consider how High God is and you will being to understand the honor of a religious vocation. God is in His being beyond all angels and creatures: He is so good that all creatures by nature must desire either Himself or His works. He is so beautify that death would be the immediate result of seeing Him, so much would our soul flee the service of the body so as to grasp Him. He is so true, that to know Him as He is, is the root of immortality.
A religious is called to serve a most noble Redeemer. God the Son became a lowly man, a poor man, a crucified a rejected Messiah, so that by His poverty all of us might be rich in grace. God gave, God gives, and God will give of Himself and His riches to poor wretches sinners like ourselves. He is most generous, most giving, and most forgiving. What greater captain, general or lord is there to follow?
A religious is called to serve a most powerful Master. His faithful servants healed the sick, raised the dead, cursed to death the enemies of the Church, exorcised demons, and worked all manners of miracles. These were gifts which God gave them to manifest the even greater and truly safe spiritual gift which He gave them: the life of grace. God by His grace is Lord of heaven and earth. To serve him as a religious is to be taken up into a supernatural life, conversing with angels and saints and Our Lady, by faith.
How great then the honor of a religious vocation It is an honor to serve in the armed forces of one’s nation, to protect the safety of us all from temporal dangers. How much greater an honor to serve in the army of the God, the army of the Church Militant, to protect the Church from spiritual dangers? He who serves God faithfully in this life, will merit unimaginable riches in the life to come.
The Glory of a Religious Vocation
The glory of a religious vocation is the immense reward that lies in wait for the faithful religious. This reward is so great that if it were clearly known all the faithful would rush upon monasteries and convents in such numbers that the police would have to be called in just to control the crowds.
The glory of a religious vocation is the tremendous riches of heaven which are for all who serve God faithfully and over and above this very special graces and gifts which shall only be given to religious. Such are not even given to those saints who were not religious.
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it even entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love him. To love God is to keep His commandments out of love for Him. But to love God perfectly is to love Him with one’s whole mind, heart, soul and strength, and this is perfectly fulfilled in the whole and entire and perfect and pure dedication of a religious soul. So then how great is the glory of the religious in the world to come? It is beyond imagining, so I would be a liar if I described it in words. I imagine it to be so truly, greatly, beautifully, wonderfully, stupendously good, that it would be stunning and truly beatifying. But I am certain that it is greater than all this. For God loves a generous giver. And the blessedness of Heaven consists essentially in God’s giving of Himself, as He is, to the soul by an ontologic contact of mind to mind, will to will, spirit to spirit. Such an embrace is truly to be wondered at. But how much more the embrace of One who has be all the more loved. Such is the blessedness of the religious in Heaven.
The Duties of a Religious Vocation
A religious has the duty to know, love and serve God. To know Him by prayer, meditation and the study of Catholic teaching and scripture in this light. To love Him by keeping the commandments and following His precepts and by works of charity for our neighbor. To serve Him by being faithful and persevering in what he has promised until death.
A religious vows poverty, obedience and chastity. Poverty, in that he forsakes personal property and shares everything with his community. Obedience, in that he forsakes his own will, and does what his superior’s legitimately ask him to do for the community or the Church. Chastity, in that he forsakes all carnal pleasure, of body or mind, and lives with the innocence of a child who is concerned with pure things, holy things, heavenly things, and not those of the earth.
Such duties encompass the entire day and year and life of a religious. A religious should consider vacations and remuneration shameful. What he does and is, is for God alone; and no recompense in the life is comparable. Indeed it is so unequal to the beauty, honor, greatness, and glory of a religious vocation that it is a lie and a deceit to compare it to a career or job. The Church will only be restored with religious who are what they are and do what they do for His sake.
The Need for Religious
There is a very great and urgent need for religious today. With the dissolution of religious life there is obviously a need for new religious and new communities. With the loss of so many priests and brothers and sisters in decades following the Second Vatican Council there is obviously a need for others to take their place. But there is also a need for good and faithful, holy and generous religious. If there has been failure in recent years and a dissolution and leaving of many of the faithful, it is only because the prayers and example and works of religious were lacking. Religious are like Moses on the mountain above the plains of battle; when they let down their arms the Church suffers loss.
“Who shall go for My sake?” says the Lord. It is the religious who says: “Here I am Lord, send me!”
The religious vocation is a call to be a disciple, a soldier, a knight, a servant, and a son. What calling is greater? What destiny more worthwhile?
May God grant you each such a desire; and if you do not desire this, beg Him for it, or at least beg Him to grant this desire to others.
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by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
On line media is in constant competition for viewership. Catholic online media is the same. That is simply a fact of the medium.
But what most Catholics perhaps are not sensitive too, is that when seeking information about the Catholic Faith or the Catholic Church the verity of the source of the information is just as important as the information. Some websites and Media operations are just not worthy of trust. Many use the name ‘Catholic’ but are not worthy of it.
What does “Catholic” mean?
As a word, “catholic” is derived from the Greek adjective meaning universal, that is, that which pertains to everywhere, every place. It was in the second century, A. D., at Antioch, in the Roman Province of Syria, where this Greek word was first used in reference to the Church founded by Jesus Christ. The meaning of the term in reference to the Church has always been the same: the institution which wherever it is in the world, holds the same faith of Christ. (“Faith of Christ”‘ is the traditional term for the Catholic Faith; in which ”of” does not refer to the faith of the person but the Faith taught by the person).
But today I am going to use the term “‘Catholic” in a slightly different sense, because online “Catholic’ media are not part of the Catholic Church, though some of these outlets are official works or apostolates of certain Dioceses of the Catholic Church.
Instead, here I will use the term “Catholic”‘ in the common and popular sense used in American English, to refer to the orthodoxy of the information presented. Here I used the term “orthodoxy” not in reference to the Greek schismatics, but in its proper etymological sense of ‘right teaching’.
To be Catholic a Media site has to meet certain criteria
First, a Catholic site must meet certain criteria to be worthy of being judged “Catholic”. As I just said, I am not using the term, “Catholic”, in reference to whether the website is sponsored or approved by an ecclesiastical institution or diocese. I am using it in reference to right teaching in matters of faith or morals etc.
By “criteria”, which is the plural of “criterion”, I mean rules or principles by which a thing is judged to be what it is or claims to be. It is only sane an rational, that if something is to be judged it be judged by objective norms, not by opinion, not by claims, not by emotions etc.. Is the website or journalist you read for information about the Catholic Faith or the Catholic Church (here I used “Catholic” in the original sense at it was used at Antioch in Syrian in the second century A. D.) truly Catholic (here I use “Catholic” in the sense of conforming to right teaching or orthodoxy)?
Because if it is not truly Catholic, but is seeking your attention and or financial support, then you are being defrauded. Now, no one can insist you not let yourself be defrauded, but common sense tells us that we should not let ourselves be defrauded, because self-preservation, the fundamental moral principle of all human action, demands that we protect ourselves from fraud and from being defrauded.
This consideration is raised to the level of the infinite, when we consider that if we let ourselves be defrauded or mislead in regard to the Catholic Faith or to what the Church teaches or as regards how as Catholics we should act in regard to God, His Church, or any other matter, then we risk consenting to our eternal damnation by accepting lies in place of truth, lies which turn us away from saving truth, lies which confirm us in error and vice, lies which, when accepted, merit for us eternal damnation, because it is a mortal sin to knowingly accept a lie, and it is a mortal sin of imprudence to put yourself in constant danger of accepting lies.
There is a moral obligation then, to use discernment
Discernment is the act whereby we apply what we know is true or just to a matter which needs to be judged as to whether it conforms to the proper truth or justice to be had in a particular matter or affair.
For example: at the supermarket, you discern whether to buy a product or not based on its apparent quality and whether the price is proportionate to that and your need for the product. Yes, there are individuals who go to the supermarket and just buy anything they see for no reason at all. They have no discernment, and some of them have a psychological disorder known as the compulsive buyer.
I suppose there may be a disorder called the compulsive reader or listener syndrome, but I have never heard of it. Reading and listening should be an activity which employs more discernment than shopping for food. Not only because the act itself must be undertaken with understanding, which is an act of the intellect, the power of judging, but also because what is read or listened to — here I am not speaking of music or simply video per se — should be the truth or at least a true criticism of error or a true presentation of facts.
Just as one may be occasionally fooled by street corner hustlers, who say one thing, simply to get something from us, and what they say is nearly always entirely a lie, so we should be cautious in matters of our Catholic Faith, because we live in an age of hucksters and false apostles and calculated and contrived deceit of the most nefarious kind.
So if you are to protect yourself, you need to use discernment. And if you have any true charity for those in your family or who know you and might follow your example in anything, then keeping yourself free from error, by not allowing yourself to be deceived, is essential to protecting them too from error and lies which could lead them astray.
A Reputation is founded upon facts and deeds
Here we must keep in mind that it is one thing to make a claim and another to exhibit the comportment or behavior which is consonant with that claim. Many websites do not actually claim to be “catholic’ in any sense of the word, but nevertheless constantly publish information about the Catholic Faith or the Catholic Church.
Before Vatican II, it was the Catholic Clergy who directed or ran nearly all Catholic media. That is what it meant for it to be Catholic. Being trained in institutions which were Catholic in both senses of the word, the clergy who ran them were competent to execute the duty entrusted to them.
Nowadays, however, very few media outlets are run by clergy. Moreover, since Vatican II, the anti-Church forces in the Church have nearly entirely destroyed the formation process of the Catholic clergy, to such an extent that it is a rare priest and bishop who knows the Catholic Faith well enough to be even able to speak as a Catholic at all times, let alone think as one, or run a Catholic media outlet.
Having self-proclaimed Catholic journalists or apostolates take over what these Catholic Clergy used to accomplish is obviously not the best solution nor even a solution. It puts the important apostolate of spreading the truth of the Gospel in the hands of men who were never trained or examined or proven to be worthy of that trust. And it makes the Catholic Faith appear to be something like the Anglican church, that is, a collection opinions which are up for grabs.
There is also a lot of deep pride and egoism in men and women who were never in a formation program and never learned what it means to mortify your ego and live for Christ Christ and obey His Church in the proper sense of those words. And not a few websites exhibit this. Egoism is a form of idolatry, so everyone needs to beware of this disorder, since it makes a person subject to being taunted this way or that, as the Devil may want them to do, to achieve his greater plans against souls and the Church.
So you should pay attention to what is being said and whether it conforms to the Catholic Faith. And when a source of information habitually deviates from the Catholic Faith on any point, you need to take care not to be led astray. Some Catholics have the intellectual gifts and preparation that they can discern this and avoid the error while plucking a few grapes of truth from a source of information which is thus vitiated. But most Catholics do not have this ability. We need to be honest and confess this.
This is even more true, when we recognize that as human beings, we are wont to trust in others, and that in the present crisis in the Church our habit of trusting in others can be and is being abused by unscrupulous men, clergy and lay alike.
The duty of Catholics who publish
Catholic websites and media outlets have a graver duty to publish the truth than anyone else, because to publish a lie which is read by thousands is to commit a mortal sin in regard to each and every person who reads what is published. Catholic journalism and Catholic social media apostolates, therefore, are a fast track to hell if run by those without discernment and zeal for the truth. This is why not a few of them are patently diabolic, because while they are capable of knowing the truth, and have been presented with the truth, they fail to publish it or even worse attack it.
The Devil in Social Media…
I recall the example of a Catholic Diocesan Newspaper which was asked by a humanitarian organization to run an advertisement on behalf of defending and helping Catholics being persecuted in the Mid-East by ISIS. The director of advertising refused, because he said it would create confusion about the Gospel message of forgiveness. A more diabolically contrived response was never had.
You see, there is a global effort now underway to undermine everyone’s grasp on reality and on real religion, because reality itself is seen as the enemy of the agenda which needs to be pushed. The ones pushing such a diabolic conspiracy have oodles of money and are willing to spend it to control Catholic Social Media sites, so they print and publish lies and stop printing and publishing the truth.
Catholic media which are run by organizations or corporations are directly vulnerable, because it is sufficient that the enemies of the Faith gain control of the organization or corporation to direct or control the information they put out. EWTN is a classic example. Before Mother Angelica had her stroke, the station was solidly catholic. After she had her stroke, laymen took control and these laymen were then suborned by unfaithful Bishops to alter the kind of information put out. EWTN then began to purchase other Catholic media outlets and the same kind of control of information spread. When asked in 2016 to run advertisements to help persecuted Christians, EWTN refused because they said it would have disastrous consequences to their apostolate world wide. I guess they mean by apostolate, their sources of funding or control.
Catholic media which are run by individuals are vulnerable inasmuch as the funding they seek or receive is controlled or not by those who want error promoted and truth suppressed.
You can easily know if a source of information about the Church or the Faith is compromised by simply compare what they are saying with the documents which are published by the Church or in ages past.
A classic example of fraud, today, is that which is perpetrated by those who promote the opinion of universal acceptance of a papal election. They boldly share images of the text in question, of the Thomistic author they cite as an authority, which text clearly uses the word “canonically” in reference to elected, and then proceed to apply the principle to the case of the present crisis in the Church as if the word “canonically” was not in the text.
When confronted with the documents of the Church which say that a pope resigns when he renounces his munus, they ignore the word munus, and place a X in its place, which they will replace with whatever word they like as it suits them for that day, and claim that a resignation is valid, whenever a pope says the word “renounce” X.
These are just two current examples of fraud which show clearly that such individuals or sites are not Catholic and that in reading them you are being defrauded of the truth and led astray. It is not just a question of intellectual dishonestly, it is dishonesty which intentionally misrepresents the truth of Church teaching or history. And as a Franciscan hermit, I can tell you that such a habitual practice of deceiving in matters of religion is no small vice. It is deeply evil, and there is something behind it more than just egoism.
So I exhort one and all, use discernment when you go online to learn more about the Catholic Faith or the Catholic Church. Look for sites which quote documents and are faithful in their reading and application of the truth which the Church has always taught.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photo taken by Br. Bugnolo of the Papal Throne at the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, Rome. Just as the throne is at the center of the Sanctuary, so should we put the truth at the center of our minds and love of it at the center of our hearts.
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