From “Abandonment to Divine Providence”, by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ:
The soul that does not attach itself solely to the will of God will find neither satisfaction nor sanctification in any other means however excellent by which it may attempt to gain them.
If that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you, from whom do you expect to obtain what you desire? If you are disgusted with the meat prepared for you by the divine will itself, what food would not be insipid to so depraved a taste? No soul can be really nourished, fortified, purified, enriched, and sanctified except in fulfilling the duties of the present moment. What more would you have? As in this you can find all good, why seek it elsewhere? Do you know better than God? As he ordains it thus why do you desire it differently? Can His wisdom and goodness be deceived? When you find something to be in accordance with this divine wisdom and goodness ought you not to conclude that it must needs be excellent? Do you imagine you will find peace in resisting the Almighty? Is it not, on the contrary, this resistance which we too often continue without owning it even to ourselves which is the cause of all our troubles?
It is only just, therefore, that the soul that is dissatisfied with the divine action for each present moment should be punished by being unable to find happiness in anything else. If books, the example of the saints, and spiritual conversations deprive the soul of peace; if they fill the mind without satisfying it; it is a sign that one has strayed from the path of pure abandonment to the divine action, and that one is only seeking to please oneself. To be employed in this way is to prevent God from finding an entrance. All this must be got rid of because of being an obstacle to grace.
But if the divine will ordains the use of these things the soul may receive them like the rest-that is to say-as the means ordained by God which it accepts simply to use, and leaves afterwards when their moment has passed for the duties of the moment that follows. There is, in fact, nothing really good that does not emanate from the ordinance of God, and nothing, however good in itself, can be better adapted for the sanctification of the soul and the attainment of peace.
The SSPX has been largely silent during the recent firestorms created by Pope Francis’ interviews. Today, the silence is broken with what strikes me as the most comprehensive and respectful criticism I have seen thus far:
After he has been in charge of the Holy Catholic Church for more than half a year, it is easier to understand the thought of Pope Francis. Due to many of his statements, even if we see a genuine movement in his way of focusing on our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel as the Good News, we may feel real causes of concern.
In his declarations, we seem to find running through the papal thought a kind of idée fixe, which focuses on the Pauline teaching developed by St. Augustine regarding the gift of life and the fight against what may kill it. “St. Paul,” says the Pope, “is the one who laid down the cornerstones of our religion and our creed. You cannot be a conscious Christian without St. Paul… Then there are Augustine, Benedict and Thomas and Ignatius,” who was “especially a mystic.” And “naturally Francis.”
His model is Fr. Peter Faber, the Reformed Priest co-founder of the Jesuits. The Pope likes his gentleness and simplicity, his proximity to the poor and those on the margin of society, his availability and qualities of discernment and judgment.
“His two preferred contemporary thinkers are Henri de Lubac and Michel de Certeau.” Henri de Lubac, a founder of the New Theology, opened a theological battlefield and created a great confusion with his works on the natural and the supernatural. Moreover, he rejected the necessary ecclesial logical link, the continuity between the present beliefs and the explicit faith of the first centuries.
Would the word of the Apostle to the Corinthians: “For the letter kills, but the spirit vivifies,” help us to discern the web of his mind?
“We have to find a new balance. Otherwise, even the moral edifice of the church is likely to
fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
– Pope Francis
Radical, earth-shaking, disruptive policy changes don’t generally happen before subtle hints have been dropped in order to gauge reactions and initiate some low-level discussions. A prudent leader wants to anticipate problems and objections in advance. On several occasions now, Pope Francis has hinted that he would like to relax the Church’s perennial discipline as it pertains to withholding communion from those living in invalid “second unions” (those who have divorced and remarried without an annulment). He believes that the present discipline is “unmerciful”. Yesterday, it was announced that the pope will call an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops next year to discuss the matter. This appears to be a subject close to Pope Francis’ heart. His previous remarks on this topic may have seemed unscripted and “off the cuff”, and perhaps subject to translation problems, etc., but he seems very determined to move forward on this subject.
As every Catholic should know, the sacramental theology of the Church requires that communicants be in a state of grace, or free from mortal sin. A person who contracts a civil “marriage” while still validly married to another person is, objectively, living in a state of adultery until this second union is renounced or the first union is canonically annulled. That is reason enough to bar such persons from the reception of the Eucharist. Furthermore, there is the additional problem of scandal, whereby even if such persons were subjectively ignorant of their sin, by publicly receiving communion they would still give scandal to the faithful.
This is a big deal, folks. In theory, I suppose it is possible that Pope Francis could change the longstanding discipline of the Church without, in theory, unraveling the Catholic doctrine of indissoluble marriage. But a change in discipline wouldn’t change the objective reality of sacrilege at the altar. Furthermore, with respect to the faithful, the psychological effect would be devastating, effectively making a mockery of marital “indissolubility” and thereby poisoning every marriage at the outset with an escape clause. I can’t help but think of the insult this would send to thousands of faithful Catholics who, in obedience and faith, have remained faithful to their marriage vows, even when deserted by and divorced from their spouses, and whose fidelity has been – until now – honored by the discipline of the Church.
In the La Cavilta Cattolica interview quoted above, the pope expresses concern that the Church’s “moral edifice” could collapse like a “house of cards” unless the Church finds a “new balance”. He seems to be saying that the Church must relax her disciplines or risk losing her moral authority in the lives of the faithful. The danger is that this “new balance” will itself reduce the Church’s “moral edifice” to a paper tiger.
A theology professor at the University of Florence calls Pope Francis to task, gently and respectfully, for the recent disastrous interviews and other public statements and actions that have undermined the Catholic Church.
A “LIQUID” MESSAGE
by Pietro De Marco
In conscience I must break with the courtly choir, composed of all-too-familiar secular and ecclesiastical names, which for months has accompanied the public statements of pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio. It is the choir of those who celebrate the “new” of the pope knowing that it is not such, and are silent about the true “innovations,” when they are embarrassing. For this reason, I am constrained to point out some of the reiterated approximations into which the spontaneous and captivating eloquence of Francis has fallen.
No one is exempt, in daily and private conversation among a few, from approximations and distortions, But there is no person who has responsibility in regard to many – who teaches, for example – who will not adopt another register in public and seek to avoid improvisation.
Now, instead, we have a pope who exclaims: “Who am I to judge?” as one can emphatically say at the table or even in preaching spiritual exercises. But before the press and the world a “who am I to judge?” spoken by a pope objectively jars with the entire history and profound nature of the Petrine function, moreover giving the distasteful sensation of an uncontrolled outburst. Because of his function as a vicar with respect to Christ, not as an individual, the pope judges. Since Pope Francis demonstrates, when he wishes, the awareness of his powers as pope, this is a matter – whatever he might want to say – of a true error of communication.
We then read in the interview with “La Civiltà Cattolica” the phrase: “Spiritual interference in personal life is not possible,” which seems to group together under the liberal-libertarian figure of “interference” both theological-moral judgment, and the public evaluation of the Church, when necessary, and even the care of a confessor or spiritual director in indicating, preventing, sanctioning intrinsically evil conduct. Pope Bergoglio Involuntarily adopts here a commonplace typical of postmodernity, according to which the individual decision is, as such, always good or at least always endowed with value, in being personal and free as one naïvely thinks it may be, and therefore incontestable.
This relativistic slippage, no longer rare in general pastoral practice, is covered up, not only in Bergoglio, by references to sincerity and to the repentance of the individual, almost as if sincerity and repentance canceled the nature of sin and prohibited the Church from calling it by its name. Moreover, it is doubtful that it is merciful to be silent about and respect that which each one does because he is free and sincere in doing it: we have always known that clarifying, not hiding, the nature of sinful conduct is an eminently merciful act, because it permits the sinner to discern about himself and his state, according to the law and the love of God. That even a pope should seem to confuse the primacy of conscience with a sort of unjudgeability, or even as immunity from the judgment of the Church, is a risk for the authoritativeness of the pope and for the ordinary magisterium that cannot be underestimated.
In the interview with “La Civiltà Cattolica” the pope returns to the “who am I to judge?” and confirms: “If a homosexual person is of good will and is seeking God, I am no one to judge him. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has made us free.”
The reiterated use of that “who am I?” confirms on the one hand, in Francis, a popular acceptation of “to judge” as a synonym of “to condemn” – which produces confusion, because judgment is not necessarily condemnation, and often it is not – and on the other accentuates the idea that none of us and not even the pope is legitimated to express judgment. But this is false: each of us can be judge in every organization and even in the Church, if he acquires competence, and the pope is judge because of the mandate that is proper to him. Moreover, either no one is legitimated, ever, in judgment, because only God is, or it is not clear why only in the case of homosexuality the capacity for judgment should not be found.
If moreover, as the pope says, “religion” – a cursory way of designating the history and institutions and treasures of grace founded in Christ of which the pope is the guarantor – “has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people,” but must not interfere in freedom, there is no longer room either for the law of God or for charity. Freedom as such becomes, truly, the absolute. And certainly if “religion” is reduced to an opinion group it cannot take on the stature of judge. Who has, moreover, need of charity if his freedom absolves him prior to any judgment?
The formula of the Church “in the service of the people” returns in the words of the pope even with regard to liturgical reform, which is taken to be “a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel on the basis of the concrete historical situation.” A staggering definition that reduces the sacred signs even below the little they had fallen to in the Protestant churches. What has been the use of a century and a half of liturgical “ressourcement?”
It will be said that one must not overanalyze words that are spoken in a conversation between Jesuit confrères. But if this is the case, it would have been well that the conversation should have remained in the private memoirs of pope Bergoglio and Fr. Antonio Spadaro. To endure the fate of reading in “La Civiltà Cattolica” – a magnificent combatant at least since the 1950’s for the Catholic truth and for Rome – that for the current successor of Peter doctrine, traditions, and liturgy have become the faculty and eventuality of giving an opinion and “offering a service,” is a humiliation that could have been spared the Church.
In “la Repubblica” of October 1 we read other debatable statements of pope Bergoglio. We learn that “proselytism is solemn foolishness, it makes no sense,” as a response to the theme of conversion proposed ironically by Eugenio Scalfari (“Do you want to convert me?”). But seeking the conversion of the other is not “foolishness”; it can be done in a manner that is foolish, or sublime, as in many saints. I recall that the spouses Jacques and Raïssa Maritain, converts themselves, ardently desired and worked for the return to the faith of their great friends. Why avoid the theme of conversion by comparing it with “proselytism,” a word loaded with a negative connotation?
We then read that, to the relativistic objection of Scalfari: “Is there a single vision of the good? And who establishes it?” the pope concedes that “each of us has his vision of the good” and “we must incite him to proceed toward what he thinks to be the good.”
But if everyone has “his vision of the good” that he must be able to realize, these visions cannot help but turn out to be the most diverse, in contrast and often in mortal conflict, as proven by current affairs and by history. Inciting one to proceed according to his personal vision of the good is in reality inciting the struggle of all against all, a strenuous battle, because it is waged for the good and not for the useful or something else contingent. This is why particular visions – including those guided by the most upright intentions – must be regulated by a sovereign, or in modern terms by the law, and ultimately by the law of Christ, which has no nuances of concession in individualistic terms.
Perhaps Pope Francis meant that man, according to the Catholic doctrine of the natural law, has the original capacity, a primary and fundamental impulse, given to all by God, of distinguishing that which is good in itself from that which is evil in itself. But here is inserted the mystery of sin and grace. Can one extol Agustine, as the pope does, and omit that in that which man “thinks to be the good” sin is always at work also? What has become of the dialectic between the city of God and the city of man and of the devil, “civitas” of love and of self? If the good were that which the individual “thinks to be the good,” and the convergence of these thoughts could save man, what need would there be for positive law in general, for the law of God in particular, and for the incarnation of the Son?
The pope also maintains: “Vatican II, inspired by Pope John and by Paul VI, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to open to modern culture. The council fathers knew that opening to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with nonbelievers. After then very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and the ambition of wanting to do it.”
All of this sounds like an “a priori” that is hardly critical. How much destructive “ecumenism” and how much “dialogue” subservient to the ideologies of the Modern have we seen at work in past decades, to which only Rome, from Paul VI to Benedict XVI, have presented a barrier! The Bergoglio who criticized the theologies of liberation and revolution cannot fail to know that dialogue with modern culture carried out after the Council was quite another thing than a courteous “ecumenism.”
Pope Francis shows himself to be the typical religious of the Society of Jesus in its recent phase, converted by the Council in the years of formation, especially by what I call the “external Council,” the Vatican II of militant expectations and interpretations, created by some episcopates, by their theologians, and by the most influential Catholic media outlets. One of those churchmen who, in their conciliatory and pliable tone, in their undisputed values, are also the most rigid “conciliars,” convinced after half a century that the Council is yet to be realized and that things should be done as if we were still in the 1970’s, in a hand-to-hand with the “pacellian” church, neoscholastic theology, under the influence of the secular or Marxist paradigm of modernity.
On the contrary: that which the “conciliar spirit” wanted and was able to activate has been said or tried over the decades and today it is a question in the first place of making a critical assessment of the results, sometimes disastrous. Even the tenacious proclamation in Pope Francis of the divine mercy corresponds to a pastoral attitude now widespread among the clergy, to the point of that laxity which the pope moreover censures. Not only that. The theme of sin has almost disappeared from catechesis, thereby liquidating the very need of mercy. Rather than promoting generally merciful behaviors, this is a matter today of reconstructing a moral theology less made up of words and again capable of guiding clergy and faithful in concrete cases. Also in moral theology the road to the true implementation of the Council has been reopened by the magisterial work of Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger.
Some maintain that Francis could be, as a postmodern pope, the man of the future of the Church, beyond traditionalism and modernism. But the postmodern that most thrives in him – as liquidation of forms, spontaneity of public appearance, attention to the global village – is superficial. With its pliability and aestheticism, the postmodern is hardly plausible in a bishop of Latin America, where until recently the intelligentsia was dominated by the Marxist Modern. Bergoglio’s solid core is and remains “conciliar.” On the road undertaken by this pope, if confirmed, I see first of all the crystallization of the dominant pastoral conciliarism in the clergy and in the active laity.
Of course, if Bergoglio is not postmodern, his worldwide reception is. The pope pleases right and left, practicing and nonbelievers, without discernment. His prevalent message is “liquid.” On this success, however, nothing can be built, there can only be remixed something already existing, and that not of the best.
There are worrying signals of this “liquid” appearance for anyone who may not be prone to the relativistic chatter of this late modernity:
a) the concession to set popular phrases like “everyone is free to do…” “who says that things must be this way…” “who am I to…” allowed to slip out in the conviction that they are dialogical and up-to-date. Presenting himself as a simple bishop to justify hardly formal behaviors, do not cover up and cannot cover up the different weight and different responsibility that instead belong to his words, any word, since the bishop of Rome and the pope are one and the same;
b) the lack of scrutiny on the part of persons of trust, but wise and cultured, and Italian, of the texts destined to be circulated, perhaps in the papal conviction that there is no need for this;
c) a certain authoritarian inclination (“I will do everything to…”) in singular contrast with the frequent pluralistic propositions, but typical of the democratic “revolutionaries,” with the risk of imprudent collisions with tradition and the “sensus fidelium”;
d) moreover, there remains incongruous in Pope Francis this constant taking of individual public communication initiatives and this wanting to be without filters (the symptomatic image of the papal apartment as a bottleneck), which reveal the unwillingness to feel himself a man of governance (something more difficult than being a reformer) in an eminent and “sui generis” institution like the Catholic Church.
His is, at times, the conduct of a modern and informal manager, one of those who concede a great deal to the press. But this clinging to persons and things on the outside – collaborators, friends, press, public opinion, even the apartment in Santa Marta is “outside” – as if the man Bergoglio were afraid he would not know what to do once he were left alone, as pope, in the apartment of the popes, is not positive. And the thing could not last. Even the media will get tired of supporting a pope who needs them too much.
Two last observations.
1. To those who invoke the Ignatian style of accompanying the sinner, or the far away, I reply that this concerns the relationship of the internal forum or the direction of conscience or private conversation. But if the pope expresses himself this way in public, his words enter the flow of the ordinary magisterium, they become catechesis. We all know that the conciliarist motto “from the cudgel to mercy” was aimed not so much at softening confessors as at weakening the authority of Rome.
2. The expressive model chosen by Bergoglio cannot be pushed to the limit of knocking down the ordinary magisterium and making it hardly or not at all obligatory. The powers of a pope do not extend to the very nature of his own “munus,” which transcends him and imposes limits on him. I do not approve of the traditionalist extremists, but there is no doubt that tradition is the norm and the power of the successor of Peter.
Florence, October 2, 2013
We speak with our TAC children almost weekly, and by all accounts they are loving the experience so far. The classes and discussions are stimulating for both of them, and the school’s rigorous curriculum takes up the majority of their time. They like their sections and their tutors. They are taking advantage of the incredible spiritual life available to them. But they are also making friends and participating in extra-curricular activities – music groups, dances, pro-life activity, and so forth. Already I can hear more confidence and maturity in their voices.
Recently after Mass on Sunday I was able to catch up with a gentleman, about my age, who graduated from TAC in the early years. He mentioned how difficult it was coming home to his family for extended periods because “the conversations just couldn’t measure up” to those he had every day on campus. I suppose that would be a bit of an adjustment. TAC is going to be a hard act to follow during the holidays!
I have always appreciated how the college markets itself. It’s a serious place for serious students, and the school’s promotional work is truth-in-advertising. TAC’s new introduction video adheres to the same high standard.
A blessed feast of St. Francis of Assisi to my few readers. Some of you have read the words spoken by Pope Francis in a homily given earlier today. Courtesy of Fr. Peter Carota, I thought it would be good to post a letter from St. Francis himself given to all the faithful in the year (most scholars agree) 1215 A.D. If the Holy Father’s choice of name brings more attention to this great saint of the Church, that is all to the good!
“LETTER TO ALL THE FAITHFUL” by St. Francis of Assisi
TO ALL CHRISTIANS, religious, clerics and lay folk, men and women; to everyone in the whole world, Brother Francis, their servant and subject, sends his humble respects, imploring for them true peace from heaven and sincere love of God. I am the servant of all and so I am bound to wait upon everyone and make known to them the fragrant words of my Lord. Realizing, however, that because of my sickness and ill-health I cannot personally visit each one individually, I decided to send you a letter bringing a message with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Word of the Father, and of the Holy Spirit, whose words are spirit and life (Jn 6: 64).
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the glorious Word of the Father, so holy and exalted, whose coming the Father made known by St. Gabriel the Archangel to the glorious and blessed Virgin Mary, in whose womb he took on our weak human nature. He was rich beyond measure and yet he and his holy Mother chose poverty.
Then, as his passion drew near, he celebrated the Pasch with his disciples and, taking bread, he blessed and broke, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take and eat; this is my body. And taking a cup, he gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, This is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins (Mt. 26: 26-29). And he prayed to his Father, too, saying, Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me (Mt. 26: 39); and it was the Father’s will that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for our sake, should offer himself by his own blood as a sacrifice and victim on the altar of the cross; and this, not for himself, through whom all things were made (Jn 1: 3), but for our sins, leaving us an example that we may follow in his steps ( 1Pet. 2: 21). It is the Father’s will that we should all be saved by the Son, and that we should receive him, or want to be saved by him, although his yoke is easy, and his burden light (Mt. 11: 30).
All those who refuse to taste and see how good the Lord is (Ps. 33: 9) and who love the darkness rather than the light (Jn. 3: 19) are under a curse. It is God’s commandments they refuse to obey and so it is of them the Prophet says, You rebuke the accursed proud who turn away from your commands (Ps. 118: 21). On the other hand, those who love God are happy and blessed. They do as our Lord himself tells us in the Gospel, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul…and thy neighbour as thyself (Mt. 22: 37-39). We must love God, then, and adore him with a pure heart and mind, because this is what he seeks above all else, as he tells us, True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth (Jn. 4: 23). All who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4: 24). We should praise him and pray to him day and night, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven (Mt. 6: 9), because we must always pray and not lose heart (Lk. 18: 1).
And moreover, we should confess all our sins to a priest and receive from him the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The man who does not eat his flesh and drink his blood cannot enter the kingdom of God (cf. Jn 6: 54). Only he must eat and drink worthily because he who eats and drinks unworthily, without distinguishing the body, eats and drinks judgment to himself (1 Cor. 11:29); that is, if he sees no difference between it and other food.
Besides this, we must bring forth therefore fruits befitting repentance (Lk. 3: 8) and love our neighbours as ourselves. Anyone who will not or cannot love his neighbour as himself should at least do him good and not do him any harm.
Those who have been entrusted with the power of judging others should pass judgment mercifully, just as they themselves hope to obtain mercy from God. For judgment without mercy to him who has not shown mercy (Jn. 2: 13). We must be charitable, too, and humble, and give alms, because they wash the stains of sin from our souls. We lose everything which we leave behind in this world; we can bring with us only the right to a reward for our charity and the alms we have given. For these we shall receive a reward, a just retribution from God. We are also bound to fast and avoid vice and sin, taking care not to give way to excess in food and drink, and we must be Catholics. We should visit churches often and show great respect for the clergy, not just for them personally, for they may be sinners, but because of their high office, for it is they who administer the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. They offer It in sacrifice at the altar, and it is they who receive It and administer It to others. We should realize, too, that no one can be saved except by the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy words of God, and it is the clergy who tell us his words and administer the Blessed Sacrament, and they alone have a right to do it, and no one else.
Religious especially are bound to make greater efforts, without neglecting the duties of ordinary Christians, because they have left the world.
Our lower nature, the source of so much vice and sin, should be hateful to us. Our Lord says in the Gospel, it is from the heart of man that all vice and sin comes (cf. Mt. 15: 18-19), and he tells us, Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you (Lk. 6: 27). We are bound to order our lives according to the precepts and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so we must renounce self and bring our lower nature into subjection under the yoke of obedience; this is what we have all promised God. However, no one can be bound to obey another in anything that is sinful or criminal.The man who is in authority and is regarded as the superior should become the least of all and serve his brothers, and he should be as sympathetic with each one of them as he would wish others to be with him if he were in a similar position. If one of his brothers falls into sin, he should not be angry with him; on the contrary, he should correct him gently, with all patience and humility, and encourage him.
It is not for us to be wise and calculating in the world’s fashion; we should be guileless, lowly, and pure. We should hold our lower nature in contempt, as a source of shame to us, because through our own fault we are wretched and utterly corrupt, nothing more than worms, as our Lord tells us by the Prophet, I am a worm; the scorn of men, despised by the people (Ps. 21: 7). We should not want to be in charge of others; we are to be servants, and should be subject to every human creature for God’s sake (1Pet. 2: 13). On all those who do this and endure to the last the Spirit of God will rest (cf. Is. 11: 2); he will make his dwelling in them and there he will stay, and they will be children of your Father in heaven (Mt. 5: 45) whose work they do. It is they who are the brides, the brothers and the mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. A person is his bride when his faithful soul is united with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit; we are his brothers when we do the will of his Father who is in heaven (cf. Mt. 12: 50), and we are mothers to him when we enthrone him in our hearts and souls by love with a pure and sincere conscience, and give him birth by doing good. This, too, should be an example to others.
How glorious, how holy and wonderful it is to have a Father in heaven. How holy it is, how beautiful and lovable to have in heaven a Bridegroom. How holy and beloved, how pleasing and lowly, how peaceful, delightful, lovable and desirable above all things it is to have a Brother like this, who laid down his life for his sheep (cf. Jn. 10: 15), and prayed to his Father for us, saying: Holy Father, in your name keep those whom you have given me. Father, all those whom you gave me in the world, were yours and you gave them to me. And the words you have given me, I have given to them. And they have received them and have known truly that I have come forth from you, and they have believed that you have sent me. I am praying for them, not for the world: Bless and sanctify them. And for them I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified in their unity, just as we are. And, Father, I wish that where I am, they also may be with me, that they may see my splendor in your kingdom (cf. Jn 17: 6-24).
Every creature in heaven and on earth and in the depths of the sea should give God praise and glory and honour and blessing (cf. Ap. 5: 13); he has borne so much for us and has done and will do so much good to us; he is our power and our strength, and he alone is good (cf. Lk. 18:19), he alone most high, he alone all-powerful, wonderful, and glorious; he alone is holy and worthy of all praise and blessing for endless ages and ages. Amen.
All those who refuse to do penance and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are blind, because they cannot see the light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They indulge their vices and sins and follow their evil longings and desires, without a thought for the promises they made. In body they are slaves of the world and of the desires of their lower nature, with all the cares and anxieties of this life; in spirit they are slaves of the devil. They have been led astray by him and have made themselves his children, dedicated to doing his work. They lack spiritual insight because the Son of God does not dwell in them, and it is he who is the true wisdom of the Father. It is of such men as these that Scripture says, their skill was swallowed up (Ps. 106: 27). They can see clearly and are well aware what they are doing; they are fully conscious of the fact that they are doing evil, and knowingly lose their souls.
See, then you who are blind, deceived by your enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, our fallen nature loves to commit sin and hates to serve God; this is because vice and sin come from the heart of man, as the Gospel says. You have no good in this world and nothing to look forward to in the next. You imagine that you will enjoy the worthless pleasures of this life indefinitely, but you are wrong. The day and the hour will come, the day and the hour for which you have no thought and of which you have no knowledge whatever. First sickness, then death, draws near; friends and relatives come and advise the dying man, “Put your affairs in order”. Wife and children, friends and relatives, all pretend to mourn. Looking about, he sees them weeping. An evil inspiration comes to him. Thinking to himself, he says, “Look, I am putting my body and soul and all that I have in your hands”. Certainly a man who would do a thing like that is under a curse, trusting and leaving his body and his soul and all that he has defenseless in such hands. God tells us by his Prophet, Cursed shall he be that puts his trust in man (Jer. 17:5). There and then, they call a priest; he says to the sick man, “Do you want to be absolved from all your sins?”
And the dying man replies, “I do”. “Are you ready then to make restitution as best you can out of your property for all that you have done, all the fraud and deceit you practiced towards your fellow men?” the priest asks him. “No”, he replies. And the priest asks, “Why not?” “Because I have left everything in the hands of my relatives and friends”, is the answer. Then his speech begins to fail and so the unfortunate man dies an unhappy death. We should all realize that no matter where or how a man dies, if he is in the state of mortal sin and does not repent, when he could have done so and did not, the devil tears his soul from his body with such anguish and distress that only a person who has experienced it can appreciate it. All the talent and ability, all the learning and wisdom which he thought his own, are taken away from him, while his relatives and friends bear off his property and share it among themselves. Then they say, “A curse on his soul; he could have made more to leave to us and he did not.” And the worms feast on his body. So he loses both body and soul in this short life and goes to hell, where he will be tormented without end. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In that love which is God (cf. 1 Jn. 4: 16), I, Brother Francis, the least of your servants and worthy only to kiss your feet, beg and implore all those to whom this letter comes to hear these words of our Lord Jesus Christ in a spirit of humility and love, putting them into practice with all gentleness and observing them perfectly. Those who cannot read should have them read to them often and keep them ever before their eyes, by persevering in doing good to the last, because they are spirit and life (Jn. 6:64). Those who fail to do this shall be held to account for it before the judgment-seat of Christ at the last day. And may God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless those who welcome them and grasp them and send copies to others, if they persevere in them to the last (cf. Mt. 10:22).
“There is today, however, a growing confusion which leads many to leave the missionary command of the Lord unheard and ineffective (cf. Mt 28:19). Often it is maintained that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom. From this perspective, it would only be legitimate to present one’s own ideas and to invite people to act according to their consciences, without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith. It is enough, so they say, to help people to become more human or more faithful to their own religion; it is enough to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity. Furthermore, some maintain that Christ should not be proclaimed to those who do not know him, nor should joining the Church be promoted, since it would also be possible to be saved without explicit knowledge of Christ and without formal incorporation in the Church.”