In this episode, Br. Bugnolo explains what the Mark of the Beast is, and how to avoid it, giving you the discernment on what St. John the Apostle meant by this term and how to recognize it.
by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
One of the criticisms of evangelicals against Catholics is that Jesus is not in the forefront of our religious thought and motivation. While this is patently false as regards the Church as an institution, it however can come about in individual souls of all Christians, not just Catholics.
Jesus is our Savior!
Yes, we believe this. But we must avoid the errors which would reduce faith to a sentiment of trust or to an intellectual act of mere assent to an ideal or doctrine.
Saint Bonaventure’s exposition of the theological virtue of faith avoided the error that can result from Saint Thomas Aquinas’ definition. For Aquinas, faith was a virtue of the intellect, not the will. But for Saint Bonaventure, faith was a virtue which governed both intellect and will.
It is no surprise, then, that when Martin Luther attacked the Catholic Religion on the question of the virtue of faith, he was responding to the preaching of a Dominican, not a Franciscan!
Putting the differences of Saint Bonaveture and Saint Thomas aside, since they are both Doctors of the Church in Scholastic and Dogmatic Theology, we need to recognize that when we assent in our minds to the truth that Jesus is our Savior, we also need to consent in our wills to regard Jesus our our Savior.
And for this we need to understand that as all Scripture and Tradition hand down, the salvation of which we speak, when we call Jesus our “Savior” does not merely take place at the moment of death, or regard the world to come. Rather, it regards the present moment and all the moments, places, and decision which we will pass through, come to be in and make, respectively, on the way to the hour of our own death and beyond.
Jesus is Our Savior, then, because, by His Passion and Death
- He redeemed all Creation, including myself.
- He atoned for all sin, including my sins, past, present and future.
- He merited all grace for all creatures capable of receiving it, of which I am the most unworthy.
- He did that which no one could do, including myself.
- He did that which had to be done, else the world and myself go necessarily to damnation.
- He did that which alone is capable from saving me from the power of Satan before and after death.
- And finally, He did that which He did not have to do, and at great price to Himself, such that all creation, including myself, owe Him a profound and eternal and infinite gratitude, of the kind which is religious and sacred and continual and habitual.
But the wonderful truth that Jesus is our Savior, is that in every moment of our lives and in every problem we can turn to Him for salvation. And the kind of prayer and request which He is most pleased to receive is that of the sinner seeking salvation. This is so, because that is the prayer for which He descended from Heaven and died upon the Cross by such a bloody and painful and shameful execution.
This truth that Jesus is our Savior then, should be more than a truth, it should be a rule of live and daily existence.
Let us therefore go to Jesus, physically, by visiting Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament and attending Mass, when we can.
Let us go to Jesus by turning to Him in prayer at the beginning and end and throughout the day.
Let us go to Jesus by trusting in His infinite power to save us and rescue us from every danger.
Let us go to Jesus to save us from the habits of our sins, from the tragedy of our lives of sin, from the evil effects of turning away from Him in sin, and to obtain the grace to repent and repair the effects of our sins, in ourselves and in others.
And let us go to Jesus especially to ask for the light to see what we truly are and how much we truly need Him and His help, so that begging with humility, we might obtain as He is wont to grant, generous and efficacious graces for our own salvation and that of all.
But Jesus is our Savior, also, in the sense that the “our” refers to the whole Church, and not just to each of us individually.
And now more than every, we need to run to Jesus as OUR Savior! — As can plainly be seen everywhere.
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by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
G. K. Chesterton wrote a series of stories, in which the protagonist, a Catholic priest, named Father Brown, solved various and sundry mysteries that were inexplicable to his contemporaries. In his short stories, Chesterton, who was himself a convert to the Catholic Faith, colored the narrative with social commentary and apologetic insights to explain how the Catholic Faith makes one see reality differently and in a better and more rational manner.
The fundamental principle of Chesterton’s Catholic epistemology, you might call it, was expressed in his short story, called, The Oracle of the Dog, which he published in 1923:
It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense.
I think we are seeing this right now in the Corona Panic, because if you survey all the world or Church leaders who are panicking the most they are those with the least Christian faith.
The cause of this lost of common sense, comes from the intervention of the will to prevent a rational examination which leads to the consideration that there must be a God and He must exist, for else, nothing else makes sense.
Chesterton rebuked the mindset which allowed the will to trump right reason in his Father Brown story, entitled, The Miracle of the Moon Crescent, which he published in 1924.
You hard-shelled materialists were all balanced on the very edge of belief — of belief in almost anything.
Emile Cammaerts, in his study of G. K. Chesterton, published in 1937, entitled, The Laughing Prophet, gave birth to the common maxim of Chesterton, which he never wrote, but which succinctly summarized the import of his observations of faux religiosity in the atheistic materialists of his day, thus:
The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.
You can read the curious story of how her summation of Chesterton came to be held as a genuine quote from his writings, at Chesterton.org, in their article, When a man ceases to worship God.
While, I do not ascribe to the mythology of Modernism which holds that man has a need for God, rising from his sentiments, which seeks or demands that he put his trust in something greater than himself, I do agree with the observation of the Scholastics that God has so ordered this world and so made man, that it is innate in our very nature to be able to recognize that all things come from God and lead back to God. For this reason, the minds and brains of men are so structured spiritually and physically, as to seek subordination to what is greater, higher, truer, more principle and more powerful.
The result, then, is that a man at reason’s counsel admits that there must be a God and that He should be obeyed and adored, because He is the First Cause and the Last End of all things, and because man of himself is nothing in comparison to Him, in anything, since He is the source of all order, beauty, goodness, perfection, and truth.
But the atheist, especially the materialistic atheist, insists with a malicious will, that such considerations must be rejected and avoided. He has spiritually accepted the mindset of a demon who thinks liberty consists in rebellion and who deceives himself into thinking that he is something even when compared to the Creator of all.
This is madness. It is madness even if at the beginning it does not manifest itself as insanity. But in decision making it will manifest itself as such, because it has divorced thought from its liberty to assent to truth, and that is intellectually the same thing as self-lobotomization or mental suicide.
When such godless and proud men become the leaders of nations and churches, only disaster can result. Because not having any religion, they are disposed and eager to make anything else but God the object of that innate inclination of every man to subordinate himself.
The leaders of the world, gripped by Corona Panic, have established a new world religion. It is a religion of fear mongering, and not the preaching of the Good News. It is the devotion of panic in the unknown, instead of the devotion of confidence in God the Creator. It expresses itself in mindless loyalty to the unproven dictates of persons without any medical or scientific credentials to speak, in place of humble religious submission to those whom Christ Jesus entrusted with the munus to teach, govern and sanctify.
Having participated in, or tacitly consented to, the removal of Pope Benedict XVI, Christ’s only true vicar on Earth, they have thus fallen into a terrible and dark religion of fear and panic. That is both a consequence of their negligence and a punishment for it.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a screensaver by Quote Fancy, which offers a variety of artistic layouts for this saying of G K Chesterton, which is fr.om his book, The Man who knew too much, published in 1935, p. 65.
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by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
A group of lawyers, who are not believers, asked me for counsel yesterday, here in Italy. They are terrified of dying from the Wuhan virus and do not know what to do.
Wherever I go, I find more fear among what we call, in the USA, liberals, that is, those of a left leaning or fallen political affiliation.
But among believers, not so much.
However, since we are all humans, and we are prone to following a herd when it sets off in a stampede, we need to draw, now more than ever, upon the riches of our Holy Faith to be counter cultural and counter-panic. This is part of our witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and if we fail in it, God and history will judge us.
A great scandal is being given the world, and it is not the Wuhan virus. It is Bishops closing the doors of Churches and/or abolishing the public offering of the Sacraments of our Holy Faith.
Let us be clear. The Bishops have no right to do this. Their duty is to minister the sacraments, in season and out of season, as the great Saint Paul the Apostle teaches.
We must show our divine faith that Christ Jesus is the God of Life, the Author of Creation and as Author of the Sacraments has chosen sacramental forms which are in NO way dangerous to the health of anyone, body or soul.
To entertain doubts on this is a mortal sin against the Faith.
For since Christ can rise from the dead, He has power over not only all the living, or the dead, but over all life, and indeed, not only has He power over life, but
HE IS LIFE! HE IS HEALING! HE IS THE CURE OF CURES!
And as such He must be our HOPE!
Now is the time to bear witness to this to your local clergy. Tell them they will merit eternal hell fire if they fail in faith in this crisis. You should resist them if they want to close your churches and end the celebration of the sacraments. And you should threatened them with civil lawsuits, if possible. You should make it clear that they will never again merit from you any financial support. And if you can organize the men of our parish, you should use even force if necessary to keep YOUR church open. Because, after all, it is YOUR MONEY which built that Church.
If they clergy will not serve the faithful in times of need and grave crisis, what good are they. They might as well leave the priesthood and attempt to huskster their fake sentimental vocation to another religion.
And, as for those laymen, who are urging the Bishops and Clergy to shut Churches and stop services, they can be assured of thrones in Hell Fire alongside Judas Iscariot.
What can I do in addition?
Obviously, go to confession. And if the priest refuses you confession, remind him that he only needs to hear your confession, you can shout it from the sidewalk as he sits in the window on the second or third floor of the Rectory.
Second, resolve to sin nor more.
Third, resolve to live for God and pledge yourself first to the care of your own family and relatives, especially those who are apt to be at risk right now.
If you have extra time or if you are free of these obligations because you have no one who needs your help, consider helping those around you, your neighbors, whether they be believers or not, Christians or not, who have need. It is precisely in crises such as this, that our works of charity and mercy will convert the hardest of sinners to the Faith, for they will see in our faces and hands and feet, anxious to serve others, the truth that indeed, Christ has risen from the dead!
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photo by Br. Bugnolo of a painting here at Rome, featuring the Consolation of Saint Joseph, to die accompanied by Our Lord and Our Lady. Our Lord points to Heaven to reassured Saint Joseph of his imminent Resurrection.
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by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
God could have forgiven sin by simply willing it. He did not have to order His Son to become incarnate and die on the Cross to redeem us.
Yet, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that all who believe in Him, may not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16, Vulgate).
God’s incarnation was a scandal to the Jews, who refused to admit that God could take flesh and remain God. So they had Him betrayed by a false apostle and buffeted Him, falsely condemned Him and put Him to death.
But since He was God of Life, He rose from the dead, as the Saving God and as the Redeeming Man.
The passage of Jesus Christ from the glory of Palm Sunday through the horrors of the Cross to the Glory of Easter Sunday is the Mystery of Faith.
Here I use “mystery” and ”faith” differently that what you might suppose. I use the former as in a crime novel, and the latter as the theological virtue.
The path through the Cross and to the Resurrection was necessary for Christ’s Disciples. Because having become true Man, they could hear His teaching and accept it as either coming from a man or from the Son of God. Hence in them, both human faith in the man who stood before them and supernatural faith in the God who stood before them were joined together in a single act.
Human faith however cannot save. Only supernatural faith can save.
Of this supernatural faith, The Apostle Paul says, Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
Thus, to teach us to have supernatural faith it was necessary that Christ do something the acceptance of which would be impossible for human faith. And since human faith is a natural virtue and nature is inclined first of all to preserve its own life, the Cross was the necessary path through which Jesus Christ, as our Redeemer and our Teacher, had to walk to guide us by His example to eternal life.
This is why the Cross is inexplicable to the natural or carnal man. This is why our corrupt human nature draws back at the suggestion of penance, mortification, sacrifice and offering our lives up at risk for the sake of the Gospel. And this is why so few desire the grace of martyrdom, or even the lesser graces of being a victim soul or embracing a religious vocation of penance and sacrifice.
But only in the embrace of total self sacrifice, motivated out of Faith in Jesus, can we follow the call of truly supernatural faith, that which alone can lead us on the path from death to life, from this world to the Resurrection.
This is why, there is no Faith, no supernatural faith, without the Cross. And this is why we must embrace the Cross if we have faith, because that is what faith is about. And this is how we can renew the Church, each of us individually, while doing God’s will on earth.
Faith does not point the way to suicide, faith points the way of self sacrifice for God and neighbor, in the works of mercy, corporal or spiritual, and in the mortification of our corrupt nature in penance and conversion. We must begin with conversion of ourselves and the keeping of God’s commandments, but we must grow into the life of being merciful to others.
This is also why there is not fruit in the apostolate without the apostle accepting suffering. And this is why physical suffering is more necessary than any other kind of suffering. Physical suffering is the only kind that can kill you. Physical suffering, thus, is the only true sacrifice and risk. Though we should be cheerful when any suffering comes upon us on account of our service to God. When we embrace that with faith, we can merit great things for others.
And this is why Our Lord said, Greater love no man hath than he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
Our Lord did not require that we do the greatest sacrifices. But He invites us to follow Him on that path. The salvation of countless souls depends upon that.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photo by Br. Bugnolo of a grate to a side Chancel at Saint John Lateran.
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350 Meters, to be exact.
Yes, in that direction, 350 meters, dwells Christ’s Vicar on Earth: Pope Benedict XVI, in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, which is nearly at the geographical center of the Vatican City State.
So close, yet so far, because if the faithful were only free to speak with Him, I am sure we could convince him to take up again the Petrine Ministry and exercise again the Petrine Office which He has never renounced.
Many ask, when the present crisis in the Church will come to an end, if ever.
Many fear that we are in the end times and that all will go downhill from here.
But as regards prophecies, the Saints remind us that we know neither the day nor the hour of the End. Thus, we cannot omit good works and even heroic works to solve the problems in our own times.
If we had 50,000 Catholics standing with me hear at the wall, and willing to walk prayerfully and humbly to the Vatican, to unveil there our Banners and Flags can call for Pope Benedict to return, then I think that crisis would be nearer to the end.
Because, until at least some of us show God that we believe in the truth of the Religion He gave us, that we are willing to come to Rome en mass and demonstrate that Faith, I really do not think we deserve it.
If we are not willing to do that, while we remain willing to march on our national capitals for this or that political purpose, then I think we can rightly be said to be hypocrites.
And God despises hypocrisy. He came down to Earth to destroy pride and hypocrisy and to save the humble. — And, alas, the problem is that so few know this truth, and those of us who do, know about it through social media, which is a medium inclined to inform but not to motivate anyone to action.
But all true motivation, has only one source, the Holy Spirit, Who has never inspired anyone to sit on a couch and do nothing about evil.
And if you want the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it is not sufficient to ask and presume, you need to pray humbly and in secret and with ardent perseverance and confidence, that, in the doing of any good any holy work, which is necessary for the salvation of souls, He is with us!
These are my thoughts and the subject of my prayers. — Br. Alexis Bugnolo
“The whole principle of our doctrines has taken root from the Lord of the Heavens above” (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 1, “On Isaias”).
On the occasion of receiving the Doctorate in Sacred Theology, at the University of Paris, in 1252, St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, one of the two primary Doctors of the Church, gave a historical sermon on the Magisterial Authority of Jesus Christ, which remains, to this day, one of the most eloquent and theologically complete exposition of the Catholic Faith on the topic. In what is now commonly referred to as n. 15, of that Sermon, the Seraphic Doctor has this to say:
From the aforesaid, therefore, there appears, the order by which and the author by whom one arrives at Wisdom. — For the order is, to begin from the stability of the Faith and proceeds through the serenity of reason, to arrive at the savoriness of contemplation; which Christ hinted at, when He said: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And in this manner is fulfilled that verse of Proverbs 4:6: The path of the just as a splendid light goes forth and grows even unto the perfect day. To this order did the Saints hold, attentive as they were to that verse of Isaiah, according to the other translation: Unless you will have believed, you will not understand. This order the philosophers ignore, who neglecting the Faith and totally founding themselves on reason, could in no manner arrive at contemplation; because, as St. Augustine says in the first book On the Trinity, « the sickly keenness of the human mind is not fixed in such an excellent light, unless it be cleansed through the justice of the Faith ».
From time immemorial, it has been an intrinsic and infallible truth of the Catholic Faith, that by faith is a man-made pleasing to God,* a faith founded upon the assent of the mind to revealed truth, accompanied by an act of repentance from all wickedness. It is St. Paul, himself, who taught us that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6). And in this dogmatic teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles, one can easily discern a profound commentary on the words of Our Lord and Master: God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
Worshiping God in truth, requires, obviously, first of all, that man knows the truth regarding God; and this truth is the truth God has revealed about Himself, partially in the writings and teachings of the Prophets of the Old Testament, fully in the self-revelation of Himself when He became Man, known to faith and history as Christ Jesus, faithfully and clearly in the teachings of the Apostles, of whom we have the letters of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, St. Jude, and St. John, and the Gospels of the Evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and, again, St. John.
Down through the ages, in the fulfillment of the words of Christ, Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her. (Matthew 16:18), and, again, I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may never fail, and so that when you are converted, you may strengthen your brethren. (Luke 22:31), the Roman Pontiffs have at times used their divinely conferred authority, to strengthen the whole Church in the Faith of Christ, that is, the faith which Christ taught. They did this in letters, at councils, and in promulgating decrees and other documents, wherein they specified with precise terminology, what is to believed, and what is not to be believed, so that the faith of all Christians might find stability and unity in the profession of the same authentic doctrine which Christ taught and which He handed down and willed to be kept, through the Apostles, in the Catholic Church, until the tend of time.
Stability in the faith, therefore, is nothing to be ashamed about; rather it is something of which every faithful Catholic should glory, knowing as he does that this is a necessary blessing, without which a man founders in a sea of error, especially in those times of life or in those ages in which the fallen spirits wage more openly their war against the righteous.
Stability in the One True Faith, without which it is impossible to be saved, requires, consequently a loyalty to the One True Faith, which was given by Christ and passed from the Apostles in the Church, through the Magisterium, faithfully, unchanged, for tewnty centuries. Hence, fidelity to Christ requires that every Catholic hold fast to this historic deposit, and that thus, if in any aspect of the life of the Church, there has been a falling away from this Holy Faith, that he dedicate himself to restoring what was lost in practice.
Lost in practice, because in truth, the Church has never lost Her Faith, regardless of how many clergy, religious, or even Bishops, might abandon it or its practice. Lost in pratice, not in the whole Church, but in many members of Her, because the Holy Spirit is always at work inspiring some members to keep what He Himself wishes restored in the Church, even if the vast majority have forgotten or abandoned His inspirations and handiwork.
Hence it is a good and holy thing to be a restorationist, in this sense; and those who say otherwise, have been deceived by the world, the flesh, or the Devil.
But faithfulness, does not mean legalism. A legalist sees only laws, and not the truths upon which they are founded, or the end for which they were instituted. A legalist, for example, who is faithful to Vatican II, might forget that it was merely a pastoral council, that it intended above all the salvation of souls and the conversion of the world to Christ. A legalist who remains loyal to the Council but forgets these greater truths, might insist upon the Council even to the destruction of the faith, of the salvation of souls, or to driving away souls from the Church; or worse, to confirming the enemies of Christ in their hatred for the Faith.
A VICE DIRECTLY CONTRARY TO STABILITY IN THE FAITH
Directly contrary to the stability with which the Catholic believer is blessed, is the vice and curse of impulsiveness.
Impulsiveness is that vice of consenting to violent movements of passion, emotion, feeling or sentiment, which assail a man from within his own soul. A man poorly trained in the use of his reason, easily falls to such movements, confusing the movement for a free act which comes from himself; and giving himself up to it, such that he considers it an inspiration in the general sense of a worthwhile thought; or worse, an inspiration in the specific sense, as something from God.
In truth, many such violent movements come from the effects of original sin in the soul and body; still others come from the fallen spirits which are ever afoot to harm souls. Such movements are more frequent in souls beholden to some sinful and vicious preoccupation with things, with some sort of idolatrous devotion to wordly values or goals. They are most frequent in souls which glory in their own impulsiveness, or who think that such impulsiveness comes from God, which last stage of this vice is the worst of all, since no one in good conscience can escape noticing, that the God of Truth is a God of order, not disorder, peace non violence.
Impulsiveness occurs when a man does not submit his reason and judgement to faith; fails to examine his conscience, omits humility which would cover his mind with a suspicion about such instantaneous outbursts. Since a humble man knows that of himself he is nothing but dung and capable of evil; he knows well that instantaneous violent movements within him, DO NOT COME FROM GOD. He eschews impulsiveness, as a vice which leads to imprudent destructive action.
If a man, however, is stable in the One True Faith, he has a stable norm for mortifying his inner self; and from this comes the strength of will and reason to recognize impulsiveness for what it is, a vice, and to combat it with humility, self-reflection, and self-criticism.
In this way, as St. Augustine says, Faith leads to the purification of the mind and heart; and in this way the light which has come to us in Baptism, the light of faith, grows from the faintest dawn to the full day of holiness (Proverbs 4:6).
* When we say, that a man is made pleasing to God by faith, we speak of “faith” as a theological virtue and in regard to the order of instrumental causality, since, obviously, it is God who by giving us faith as a free gift, justifies us; that is God works faith in those whom He calls to salvation, and by faith conforms the mind of the believer to His own mind. Justification, however, is thus not by faith alone, as Luther taught, because there is necessary for justification, that (1) a man be disposed to accept God’s teaching and the movements of the Holy Spirit in his soul, (2) that hear the word of God preached to him, (3) that he believe the Gospel message contained therein and all that Christ and the Apostles and Prophets taught, (4) that He love the God who has thus revealed Himself, (5) that he hope in fulfillment of what God has promised in Christ Jesus’ Resurrection and teaching, (5) that he purposefully and firmly resolve to accept Baptism in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, and in particular (6) do so in penance of all his sins and vices, because a man who believes without repentance, has believed in vain. After Baptism, if a man sins, he has the blessing of the help of Christ Jesus offered in the Sacrament of Confession, which Christ taught and instructed the Apostles to give to repentant sinners, when He said: Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you hold bound, are held bound! He who hears you, hears Me; and he who rejects you, rejects Me! The 12 Apostles in ordaining Bishops and priests established the Catholic Hierarchy, which extends down through time to our day, and which forms that 1 true Church which is known to men as the Catholic Church.