THERE are serious seismic changes occurring in the world and our culture almost on an hourly basis. It doesn’t take a keen eye to recognize that the prophetic warnings foretold over many centuries are unfolding now in real time. So why have I focused on the radical conservatism in the Church this week (not to mention radical liberalismthrough abortion)? Because one of the foretold events is a coming schism. “A house divided against itself will fall,” Jesus warned.
Some feel they are defenders of the truth when, really, they are doing it great harm. For love and truth can never be separated. The so-called “left” tend to over-emphasize love at the expense of truth; the “right” tend to over-emphasize truth at the expense of love. Both feel they’re right. Both wound the Gospel because God is both.
Thus, among others, the one thing that should unite us—the Holy Mass—is the very thing that is dividing…
The Mass is the single most incredible daily event that happens on earth. It is foremost there that the promise of Jesus to remain with us “until the end of the age” is actualized:
The Eucharist is Jesus who gives himself entirely to us… the Eucharist “is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual experience”… it is a “memorial, namely, a gesture that actualizes and makes present the event of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus: the bread is truly his Body given, the wine is truly is Blood poured out.” —POPE FRANCIS, Angelus August 16th, 2015; Catholic News Agency
The Eucharist, affirmed Vatican II is, therefore “the source and summit of the Christian life.”  Thus the liturgy “is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows.”
So, if I were Satan, I would attack three things: belief in the Eucharist; the Holy Priesthood; and the liturgy that makes Christ present, thus, cutting off as much as possible “the font” from which all the Church’s power flows.
VATICAN II — A PASTORAL RESPONSE
The idea that the life of the Church was all rosy before Vatican II is false. Modernism was already well underway. Many women stopped wearing veils to the Latin Mass long before the Council was even invoked. Pews were more or less full, but hearts were increasingly disconnected. The sexual revolution was exploding and its tendrils taking root in the family. Radical feminism was emerging. Television and the cinema were beginning to challenge moral norms. And unbeknownst to the faithful, predator priests were closing in on their children. More subtly, though no less serious, many went to Mass simply “because that’s what their parents did.” One priest recounted that he had to pay his altar boys a nickel just to show up.
One man foresaw that all this spelled disaster for the flock. Pope St. John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council with his famous words:
I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in!
The Council Fathers saw that the Church needed to reform her pastoral approach to further stave off the growing tide of laxity and rebellion, and this included reforming the Mass. What they intended, and what followed, are two different things. As one observer wrote:
…In sober truth, by empowering the liturgical radicals to do their worst, Paul VI, wittingly or unwittingly, empowered the revolution. —from The Desolate City, Revolution in the Catholic Church, Anne Roche Muggeridge, p. 127
A REVOLUTION… NOT A REFORM
It became a liturgical “revolution” instead of a mere “reform.” In many places, the Mass became a vehicle to promote a modernist agenda that much later would contribute to a mass exodus of Catholics from the pews, the closure and amalgamation of parishes, and far worse, the relativizing of the Gospel and steep moral decline.
In some parishes, statues were smashed, icons removed, high altars chainsawed, Communion rails yanked, incense snuffed out, ornate vestments mothballed, and sacred music secularized. “What the Communists did in our churches by force,” some immigrants from Russia and Poland observed, “is what you’re doing yourselves!” Several priests have also recounted how rampant homosexuality in their seminaries, liberal theology, and hostility toward traditional teaching caused many zealous young men to lose their faith altogether. In a word, everything surrounding, and including the liturgy, was being undermined.
But the “new” Mass, impoverished as it was, remained valid. The Word of God was still proclaimed. The Word made flesh was still made present to His Bride. That’s why I stayed with it all those years. Jesus was still there, and that’s ultimately all that mattered.
There is an understandable, yet, unjustifiable reaction to the apostasy that has all but shipwrecked the Church. It too has caused damage to the hull of the Barque of Peter. And the spirit behind it is gaining traction.
Let me say out right… I love candles, incense, icons, bells, cassocks, albs, Gregorian Chant, polyphony, high altars, Communion rails… I love it all! It is indeed sad, a real tragedy, that some of these things were so carelessly discarded as if they were somehow “in the way.” What they were, in fact, was a silent language that communicated the Mystery of God, of the Holy Eucharist, of the Communion of Saints and so on. The liturgical revolution didn’t update the Mass so much as erase much of its mystical language and beauty borne on the transcendent wings of sacred symbols. It’s okay to not only grieve that, but work to recover it.
However, there has been another response that has been no less damaging to the life of the Church. That has been to blame the Second Vatican Council (instead of individual apostates and heretics) for everything. And secondly, to declare the new Ordinary form of the Mass to be invalid—and then to mock it, the clergy, and the hundreds of millions of laity who participate in it. “We are the ‘remant,’” these fundamentalists say. The rest of us? It’s implied, if not made explicit, that we are on the wide road that leads to hell.
It’s not uncommon to see photos on social media of priests wearing a clown nose or dancers prancing about in the sanctuary. Yes, these are unsanctioned liturgical “practices.” But these photos are presented as if this is the norm in Catholic parishes. It’s not. Not even close. It is dishonest and incredibly scandalous and divisive to suggest it is. It is an attack on millions of faithful Catholics and thousands of bishops and priests who faithfully, lovingly, and reverently participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Ordo Missae. The fact that many of us have remained in our churches for decades, perhaps enduring at times a less than “beautiful” liturgical experience (out of obedience) in order to bring whatever life and renewal we can to our shrinking parishes, is laudible—not a compromise. We didn’t abandon ship.
Moreover, the Latin or Tridentine rite is only one of many.
In fact, there are seven families of liturgical expression in the Church: Latin, Byzantine, Alexandrian, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean. There are many beautiful and diverse ways to celebrate and make present the Sacrifice of Calvary throughout the world. But, in truth, all of them pale compared to the “Divine Liturgy” taking place in Heaven:
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, “Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power…” (Rev 4:9-11)
To fight over whose liturgy is the most beautiful is like two children squabbling in front of their parents over who’s coloring is the best. Sure, the “older” brother’s is nicer… but they’re both the “art” of little children in the eyes of God. What the Father sees is the love with which we pray, not necessarily how precise we color within the lines.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit andtruth. (John 4:24)
NOT JUST THE LIBERALS NEED CORRECTION
Thus, Pope Francis, as head of our household, was right to correct…
…those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past [and a] supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline [that] leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism… —Evangelii Gaudium, n. 94
That is, those who on the other end of the spectrum also weaponize the Mass.
I have spoken to several people lately who have been deeply affected by the manipulation and use of the beautiful Tridentine Mass to fear-monger and threaten others with guilt-trips or the charge of heresy and even hell-fire. Says one reader:
We are healing after leaving the Latin church, because of the laity. I loved the priests so dearly and Tridentine Mass. But people were judged that went to the Ordinary Mass, kids were hurting from the strictness, etc.. I could not take anymore and it felt like I left a cult. I felt I did damage to my kids. But, it was a great lesson. We now don’t run to every event at church but slow down and live our lives infusing our faith when we can. I now listen to our adult kids and try not to shove their religion at ’em at every turn… I let them grow. I pray more, not worrying about what I am suppose to do according to other families. I try now to walk the walk not talk it all the time. I love my kids and pray to Our Mother to protect and guide them.
Yes Mark, we are the Church. Losing our brethren from the inside hurts. I don’t want that and do gently speak of wrongs within, building our Church, not tearing her apart.
This is not everyone’s experience, of course. Other readers have written of very positive experiences in the Latin Mass, which is very much part of our Tradition. But it is terrible when faithful Catholics are being treated as second-class citizens for remaining in their parishes and attending the so-called “Novus Ordo.” Or being told that they are blind, unfaithful, and deceived for defending Vatican II and subsequent popes. Take for example these quotes lifted from a Catholic blogger who presents himself on the Internet as a faithful “Traditionalist” as he addresses the clergy:
“Sniveling coward… Pathetic excuse for a shepherd…”
“…pervert protecting and pervert priests are going down… Filthy clericalist sodomite scum.”
“Bergoglio [Pope Francis] is a liar… pompous, arrogant, heretic… a sick mind… a disgrace to the faith, a walking, breathing scandal… pompous, hypocritical, pervert-protector.”
“Damn them all….”
It’s hard to know who is doing more damage: the modernist’s chainsaw or the fundamentalist’s tongue?
In his meeting with the Central American Bishops, Pope Francis again highlighted the damaging vitriol and negativity that is driving some in the Catholic press:
I am worried about how the compassion of Christ has lost a central place in the Church, even among Catholic groups, or is being lost – not to be so pessimistic. Even in the Catholic media there is a lack of compassion. There is schism, condemnation, cruelty, exaggerated self-praise, the denouncing of heresy… May compassion never be lost in our Church and may the centrality of compassion never be lost in the life of a bishop. Christ’s kenosis is the supreme expression of the Father’s compassion. Christ’s Church is the Church of compassion, and that begins at home. —Pope Francis, January 24th, 2019; Vatican.va
I and many other lay leaders and theologians who used to support “conservative” Catholic media are disgusted with the antipapal tone and divisive rhetoric that masquerades as orthodoxy.
They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. —POPE PIUS XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ), June 29, 1943; n. 41; vatican.va
Remaining loyal to the pope does not mean remaining silent when he missteps; rather, responding and acting like sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, so that he may fulfill his ministry better.
We must help the Pope. We must stand with him just as we would stand with our own father. —Cardinal Sarah, May 16th, 2016, Letters from the Journal of Robert Moynihan
Says another reader regarding the fundamentalism that is re-emerging:
In my own reflections on the response to Pope Francis, and similarly to JPII, Paul VI and all, I keep coming down to the reality of fear. Christ’s teaching and actions became a source of fear, particularly to those who were quite sure they knew the way things ‘should be’. Those most open were those who deeply knew their need for healing and forgiveness and they did not make any attempt to assess how Christ approached them or if he was observant or not.
Love and truth. If progressivism has diluted the Word of God, rigid “traditionalism” has suppressed it. If progressives exaggerate the importance of spontaneity and freedom, fear has often muzzled it. Satan is working from both ends to divide and conquer. Indeed, the Roman pagans crucified Jesus—but the high priests were the ones who brought him to trial.
People are fed up. They have had enough of modernism, compromise, lukewarmness, the culture of cover-up, silence, and perceived waffling of the clergy while the world burns. They are angry with Pope Francis because they expected him to come out swinging harder at the culture of death and to, at every step, blast the Left, blast the globalists, blast the pagans, blast the abortionists, blast the pornographers, and last, blast liberal bishops and cardinals—not appoint them.
But not only did Jesus not blast the pagans and sinners in His time, He appointed Judasto his side. But did you notice in the Garden that Jesus condemned both the sword of Peter and the kiss of Judas, that is, rigid fundamentalism and false compassion? So did Pope Francis in a profound speech to the entire Church (see The Five Corrections).
Those who use the Mass as a weapon to bludgeon others, silence their opponents, justify their personal agenda, or promote the “kiss” of a false Gospel… What are you doing? Those who insult millions of Catholics, belittle priests, and mock a Mass where Jesus becomes present in the Eucharist… What are you thinking? You are crucifying Christ all over again, and often, in your very brother.
Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness… he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:9, 11)
May God help all of us to treasure again the great gift that the Holy Mass is, in whatever legitimate form it takes. And if we really want to love Jesus and show it to Him, let us love one another in our strengths and weaknesses, diversity and differences.
This is Mass: entering in this Passion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension of Jesus, and when we go to Mass, it is as if we go to Calvary. Now imagine if we went to Calvary—using our imagination—in that moment, knowing that that man there is Jesus. Would we dare to chit-chat, take pictures, make a little scene? No! Because it’s Jesus! We would surely be in silence, in tears, and in the joy of being saved… Mass is experiencing Calvary, it’s not a show. —POPE FRANCIS, General Audience, Crux, Nov. 22nd, 2017
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AS the weekend Mass readings rolled by, I sensed the Lord saying once again: it is time for the prophets to arise! Let me repeat that:
It is time for the prophets to arise!
But don’t start Googling to find out who they are… just look in the mirror.
…the faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 897
What does a prophet do? He or she speaks God’s Word in the present moment that we may know more clearly His Will. And sometimes, that “word” must be a strong one.
CASE IN POINT
Right now, I am thinking of the recent ghastly turn of events in New York where the Governor there has moved to a new level of barbarism by legalizing abortion for any reason right up until birth. To the politicians in Canada, Ireland, Australia, America, Europe, and beyond, the Church (that is, you and me) ought to cry out with one voice, not only that life is sacred, but repeating again God’s commandment: “Thou shalt not kill”!
Why do we have Canon Laws if we fail to enforce them? To not use them for fear of offending or sending the wrong message is actually offensive and sends the wrong message. The power Christ gave the Church to “bind and loose” is ultimately the power of excommunication when a baptized member commits an excommunicable sin. Regarding such an unrepentant sinner, Jesus said:
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:17)
Adds St. Paul:
The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst…. you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. (1 Cor 5:2-5)
The goal is that these (all too often) “Catholic” politicians be brought to repentance—not be enabled by our silence! In Canada alone, it has been Catholic politician after Catholic politician who has legalized and safeguarded abortion, no-fault divorce, the redefinition of marriage, gender ideology, and soon, God-knows-what. How is it that these authors of public scandal can still partake in Holy Communion? Do we think so little of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? Are we so trite towards His Death and Resurrection? There is a time for “righteous anger.” It’s time.
Bishop Rick Stika of Tennesee took to social media regarding the situation in New York:
Enough is enough. Excommunication is to be not a punishment but to bring the person back into the Chruch… this vote is so hideous and vile it warrants the act. —January 25th, 2019
Bishop Joseph of Strickland of Texas tweeted:
I’m not in a position to take action regarding legislation in New York but I implore bishops who are to speak forcefully. In any sane society, this is called INFANTICIDE!!!!!!!!!! …Woe to those who ignore the sanctity of life, they reap the whirlwind of Hell. Stand against this holocaust any way you can. —January 25th, 2019
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, N.Y., said,
The kind of procedures that are now possible in New York state we wouldn’t even do to a dog or cat in a similar situation. It’s torture. —CNSnews.com, January 29th, 2019
And Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington restated the Church’s perennial, but mostly unenforced pastoral guideline:
Politicians who reside in the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, and who obstinately persevere in their public support for abortion, should not receive Communion without first being reconciled to Christ and the Church (cf. Canon 915; “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles.” Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2004).
The Church’s commitment to the life of every human person from conception until death is firm. God alone is the author of life and for the civil government to sanction the willful murder of children is unacceptable. For a Catholic political leader to do so is scandalous.
I encourage the faithful to turn to our Lord in prayer for our political leaders, entrusting them especially to the intercession of St. Thomas More, a public servant who preferred to die at the hands of civil authorities rather than abandon Christ and the Church…. —February 1st, 2019;dioceseofspokane.org
As commendable as these prophetic voices are, we are too late as a Church in terms of stopping the culture of death. It’s like parking a car in front of a runaway train. We are reaping the whirlwind of decades of collective silence.
But it is not too late for the clergy to show us the path of martyrdom, that holy courage that defends the Truth at any cost. At least in the West, the cost is not too great. Yet.
In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied. And yet, the Church cannot withdraw from the task of proclaiming Christ and his Gospel as saving truth, the source of our ultimate happiness as individuals and as the foundation of a just and humane society. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, London, England, September 18th, 2010; Zenit
A COLD SHOWER
Yes, it is late. Very late. So late, that the world will likely not listen any longer to the status quo of the pulpit… but they might listen to prophets.
Prophets, true prophets: those who risk their neck for proclaiming “the truth” even if uncomfortable, even if “it is not pleasant to listen to”… “A true prophet is one who is able to cry for the people and to say strong things when needed”… The Church needs prophets. These kinds of prophets. “I will say more: She needs us all to be prophets.” —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, Santa Marta; April 17th, 2018; Vatican Insider
Yes, it’s time that we comfortable Christians had a cold shower. Because the cost of our complacency can be counted in souls.
Following Christ demands the courage of radical choices, which often means going against the stream. “We are Christ!”, St Augustine exclaimed. The martyrs and witnesses of faith yesterday and today, including many lay faithful, show that, if necessary, we must not hesitate to give even our lives for Jesus Christ. —ST. JOHN PAUL II, Jubilee of the Apostolate of the Laity, n. 4
Those who remain silent, thinking that they are sowing peace, are only letting the weeds of wickedness take root. And when fully grown, they will choke out whatever false peace and security we have been clinging to. This has been repeated throughout the history of mankind and will happen again (see When Communism Returns). It is imperative that every Christian who has a voice today open their mouths to resist, not only the genocide of the unborn but the social experimentation with gender and the glorification of sexual immorality. Oh, what a whirlwind we will reap when today’s teenagers, brainwashed, manipulated, become tomorrow’s politicians and police force.
It’s not just mortal sin that excludes one from Paradise, but cowardice.
But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
If I say to the wicked, you shall surely die — and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives — then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. (Ezekiel 3:18)
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)
This does not mean, however, that we run into the streets damning souls to Hell. We must never forget what kind of prophets we are to be.
In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul,Diary, n. 1588
As St. Paul said in the Second Reading last Sunday:
…if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)
We are prophets of Mercy, of He who is Love itself. If we exhort another, it is because we love them. If we correct another, we do it in charity. Our role is simply to speak the truth in love, in season and out, without attachment to the results.
The prophet is not a professional “reproacher”… No, they are people of hope. A prophet reproaches when necessary and opens doors overlooking the horizon of hope. But, the real prophet, if they do their job well, risks their neck… Prophets have always been persecuted for telling the truth. —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, Santa Marta; April 17th, 2018; Vatican Insider
THE DARKER IT GETS, THE BRIGHTER WE MUST BE
Last, I want to remind you of what St. Paul said in last Thursday’s reading at a time when the early Church thought that they, too, were living in the “end times.” Paul did not call the Body of Christ to build bunkers, store weapons, and pray for God’s justice to descend upon the wicked. Rather…
We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works… and this all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb 10: 24-25)
The darker it gets, the more we ought to be spreading the light. The more lies cover the earth, the more we ought to shout the truth! What an opportunity this is! We
ought to shine like stars in this present darkness so that everyone knows who we are. Rouse each other to courage. Give an example to one another of your faithfulness. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of our faith:
For the sake of the joy that lay before him Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. (Today’s First Reading)
Prophets arise! Isn’t time that we did?
Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places like the first apostles who preached Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities, towns, and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel! It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern “metropolis.” It is you who must “go out in the the byroads” and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, World Youth Day, Denver, CO, 1993
We are still well short of our ministry’s needs.
Please help us continue this apostolate for 2019!
Bless you and thank you!
Mark & Lea Mallett
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
THERE is a collective gasp rising from America, and rightly so. Politicians have begun to move in several States to repeal restrictions on abortion that would allow the procedure up until the moment of birth. But more than that. Today, the Governor of Virginia defended a proposed bill that would let mothers and their abortion provider decided whether a baby whose mother is in labor, or a baby born alive through a botched abortion, can still be killed.
This is a debate on legalizing infanticide.
In a generation where parents or children can go back to work or school with color 3D ultrasound photos in hand of the newest member in the family still forming in the womb… where science and medicine have found ways to save premature babies as early as five months… where research has found that the pain threshold of babies in the womb, because of their thin skin, is much higher than a born child, and that sensory function can begin as early as 11 weeks gestation…  it is unconscionable that our society still burns to death unborn babies with saline solution, or literally pulls them apart piece by piece. This is exactly the procedure being endorsed in Virginia and New York tonight, and already legal in Canada (because there are no laws governing abortion here!) in late-term abortions. Butchers. We are a generation of butchers who rival if not surpass the brutality of tribal nations.
Of course, we don’t see it that way because we discuss it in business suits and high heels. We don’t see it that way because, well, we don’t see it. It’s all done neatly in an abortion “clinic” down the street. Maybe that’s the only silver lining in all this: Governors Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Ralph Northam (VA) are helping people to visualize who exactly we are so willing to kill. A fetus? Hard to relate to—but a baby about to be born? That, we can visualize. If not, this former abortion doctor will help:
In defence of the proposed Repeal Act for third trimester babies, Gov. Northam said:
…it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s non-viable… No woman seeks a third-trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances. —The Washington Times, January 30th, 2019
This we know to be false, just as abortions are not done in “rare cases” when “the mother’s life is in danger” as the politicians once told us they would be. And today, “difficult circumstances” can simply be emotional turbulence. Once current restrictions are repealed, abortions of viable, healthy, and unwanted late-term babies will occur because it’s already happening in the United States and in Canada. In an exchange with the Virginian delegate who proposed this bill, she is actually questioned about the mental health of the mother, not the health of the baby. Watch her stunning reply:
The Governor’s response:
This is why decisions such as this should be made by providers, physicians and the mothers and fathers that are involved… We want the government not to be involved in these types of decisions.—The Washington Times, January 30th, 2019
This is pure nonsense, of course. Because in matters of life and death, the government is always involved. If my wife and I decide, along with our physician, that a noisy, belligerent, unemployed neighbour who plays his music too loud and drives on our lawn should be—aborted—well, we can’t do that. The government would intervene in a second. This passive-aggressive argument is a red herring. A bloody red herring. Because not only is the Governor of Virginia justifying the destruction of late-term children, but even the termination of babies whose mothers are in labour, and then who are born.
The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.—The Washington Times, January 30th, 2019
Calling the baby an “infant” at this point rather than a fetus is a step forward, even if it is a haunting one. It’s hard to say whether it was Tinker Bell or a roll of the dice that decided that one:
I just wish these architects of the culture of death would be more honest—like feminist Camille Paglia:
I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue. The state in my view has no authority whatever to intervene in the biological processes of any woman’s body, which nature has implanted there before birth and hence before that woman’s entrance into society and citizenship. —Camille Paglia, Salon, Sept. 10th, 2008
In other words, Ms. Paglia is unabashedly in favour of infanticide. So are these politicians who are now moving rapidly to abort any law that would prevent a woman from exercising her “rights”—in or outside the womb. Who, I ask, is next? Unwanted toddlers?
As the World Trade Center was coloured pink to celebrate New York’s fresh assault on the unborn, the words of Jeremiah came to mind:
The kings of Judah have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built high places for Baal to immolate their sons in fire as holocausts to Baal: such a thing as I neither commanded nor spoke of, nor did it ever enter my mind. (Jer 19:4-5)
It seems that even mankind has found a way to astonish the Creator with things that never even entered His mind…
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Mark & Lea Mallett
TWENTY years ago or so, I was given a glimpse of something coming that sent chills down my spine.
I had been reading the arguments of several Sedevacantists—those who believe the “seat of Peter” is vacant. While they are divided even among themselves as to who the last “valid” pope was, many hold that it was St. Pius X. I am not a theologian, but I was able to clearly see how their arguments failed to grasp theological nuances, how they pulled quotes out of context and distorted certain texts, such as the documents of Vatican II or even the teachings of St. John Paul II. I read with jaw-wide-open how the language of mercy and compassion was frequently twisted by them to mean “mediocrity” and “compromise”; how the need to revisit our pastoral approach in a rapidly changing world was viewed as accommodating worldliness; how the vision of the likes of St. John XXIII to “throw open the windows” of the Church to allow the fresh air of the Holy Spirit in was, to them, nothing short of apostasy. They spoke as if the Church was abandoning Christ, and in some quarters, that may have been true.
But that’s precisely what they did when unilaterally, and without authority, these men declared the seat of Peter to be vacant and themselves to be the authentic successors of Catholicism.
As if that was not shocking enough, I was disturbed by the frequent brutality of their words towards those who have remained in communion with Rome. I found their websites, bantor, and forums to be hostile, merciless, uncharitable, judgmental, self-righteous, impertinent and cold towards anyone who disagreed with their position.
…a tree is known by its fruit. (Matt 12:33)
That is a general assessment of what is known as the “ultra-Traditionalist” movement in the Catholic Church. To be certain, Pope Francis is not at odds with faithful “conservative” Catholics, but rather “those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past [and a] supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline [that] leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism…”  In fact, Jesus was so deeply turned off by the Pharisees and their callousness that it was they—not the Roman butchers, thieving tax collectors, or adulterers —who were on the receiving end of His most blistering adjectives.
But I reject the term “Traditionalist” to describe this sect because any Catholic who holds fast to the 2000-year-old teachings of the Catholic Church is a traditionalist. That’s what makes us Catholic. No, this form of traditionalism is what I call “Catholic fundamentalism.” It is no different than Evangelical fundamentalism, which holds their interpretation of the Scriptures (or their traditions) to be the only correct ones. And the fruit of Evangelical fundamentalism looks much the same: outwardly pious, but ultimately, pharisaical too.
If I sound blunt it is because the warning I heard in my heart two decades ago is now unfolding before us. Sedevacantism is a growing force again, though this time, it holds that Benedict XVI is the last true pope.
COMMON GROUND—CLEAR DIFFERENCES
At this point, it is imperative to say that, yes, I agree: a vast portion of the Church is in a state of apostasy. To quote St. Pius X himself:
Who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is—apostasyfrom God… —POPE ST. PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 3, 5; October 4th, 1903
But I quote his successor also—considered an “anti-pope” by the Sedevacantists:
Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. —POPE PAUL VI, Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977
In truth, I am more than sympathetic to those who lament the state of affairs in the Body of Christ. But I am not entirely sympathetic to their schismatic solutions, which essentially throw the baby out with the bathwater on almost every point. Here I will address just two: the Mass and the papacy.
I. The Mass
There is no question that the Mass of the Roman Rite, particularly in the ’70s-’90s, had become greatly damaged by individual experimentation and unauthorized modifications. The discarding of all use of Latin, the introduction of unauthorized texts or improvisation, banal music, and the literal whitewashing and destruction of sacred art, statues, high altars, religious habits, altar rails and, most of all, simple respect for Jesus Christ present in the Tabernacle (which was moved to the side or out of the sanctuary altogether)… made liturgical reform appear more like the French or Communist revolutions. But this is to be blamed on modernist priests and bishops or rebellious lay leaders—not the Second Vatican Council, whose documents are clear.
Perhaps in no other area is there a greater distance (and even formal opposition) between what the Council worked out and what we actually have… —from The Desolate City, Revolution in the Catholic Church, Anne Roche Muggeridge, p. 126
What these fundamentalists sarcastically call the “Novus Ordo”—a term not used by the Church (the proper term, and that used by its initiator, St. Paul VI, is Ordo Missaeor “Order of the Mass”)—has indeed been greatly impoverished, I agree. But it is notinvalid—as much as a Mass in a concentration camp with bread crumbs, a bowl for a chalice and fermented grape juice, is not invalid. These fundamentalists hold that the Tridentine Mass, known as the “Extraordinary Form”, is practically the only noble form; that the organ is the only instrument capable of leading worship; and even those who do not wear a veil or a suit are somehow second-class Catholics. I am all for beautiful and contemplative liturgies too. But this is an overreaction, to say the least. What about all the ancient Eastern Rites that are arguably even more sublime than the Tridentine Rite?
Morever, they hold that if we just reintroduce the Tridentine liturgy that we will re-evangelize the culture. But wait a minute. The Tridentine Mass had its day, and at its height in the twentieth century, it not only did not stop the sexual revolution and paganization of the culture, but itself was subject to abuses by both the laity and the clergy (so, I have been told by those who lived back then).
By the 1960’s, it was time for a fresh revamping of the Liturgy, starting with letting the congregation hear the Gospel in their own language! So, I believe there is a happy “in between” that is still possible fifty years later that is a more organic revitilization of the Liturgy. Already, there are budding movements within the Church to restore some Latin, chant, incense, cassocks and albs and all the things that make the liturgy more beautiful and potent. And guess who is leading the way? Young people.
II. The Papacy
Perhaps the reason so many Catholic fundamentalists come across as bitter and uncharitable is that no one has really paid serious attention to them. Since the Society of St. Pius X had entered into schism, thousands of theologians, philosophers and intellects have repeatedly rejected the arguments that the seat of Peter is vacant. That’s because their arguments are, like the Pharisees of old, based on a myopic reading of the letter of the law. When Jesus performed miracles on the Sabbath setting people free from years of slavery, the Pharisees were incapable of seeing anything but their strict interpretation of the law.
History is repeating itself. When Adam and Eve fell, the sun began to set on humanity. In response to the growing darkness, God gave His people laws by which to govern themselves. But something unexpected happened: the further humanity departed from them, the more the Lord revealed His mercy. By the time Jesus was born, the darkness was great. But because of the darkness, the Scribes and Pharisees expected a Messiah who would come to overthrow the Romans and rule the people in justice. Instead, Mercy became incarnate.
…the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen… I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. (Matthew 4:16, John 12:47)
This is why the Pharisees hated Jesus. Not only did He not condemn the tax collectors and prostitutes, but He convicted the teachers of the law of their utter shallowness and lack of mercy.
Fast forward 2000 years later… the world has once again fallen into great darkness. The “Pharisees” of our times also expect God (and His popes) to put the hammer of the law down on a decadent generation. Instead, God sends us St. Faustina with the sublime and tender words of Divine Mercy. He sends us a string of pastors who, though not unconcerned with the law, are more preoccupied with reaching the wounded, the tax collectors and prostitutes of our time with the kerygma—the essentials of the Gospel first.
Enter: Pope Francis. Clearly, he has made manifest that this is the desire of his heart too. But has he gone too far? Some, if not many theologians believe he has; believe that perhaps Amoris Laetitia is far too nuanced to the point of falling into error. Other theologians point out that, while the document is ambiguous, it can be read in an orthodox manner if read as a whole. Both sides present reasonable arguments, and it may not be something that is resolved until a future papacy.
When Jesus was accused of crossing the thin line between mercy and heresy, almost none of the teachers of the law approached him to discover His intentions and understand His heart. Rather, they began to interpret everything He did through a “hermeneutic of suspicion” to the point that even the clear good He did was considered evil. Rather than try to understand Jesus, or at the very least—as the teachers of the law—try to gently correct Him according to their tradition, they instead sought to crucify Him.
Likewise, rather than seek to understand the heart of the last five popes (and the thrust of Vatican II) through honest, careful, and humble dialogue, the fundamentalists have sought to crucify them, or at least, Francis. There is a concerted effort rising now to invalidate his election to the papacy. They claim, among other things, that Emeritus Pope Benedict only “partially” renounced the office of Peter and was forced out (a claim which Benedict himself has said is “absurd”) and, therefore, they have found a loophole to “crucify” his successor. Does it all sound familiar, like something out of the Passion narratives? Well, as I’ve told you before, the Church is about to enter her own Passion, and this, it would seem, is part of that too.
GOING THROUGH THE PASSION
The prophecies regarding a terrible trial for the Church seem to be upon us. But it may not be entirely what you think. While many are fixated on the intolerance of “left-wing” political parties toward Christianity, they do not see what is rising on the far “right” in the Church: another schism. And it is just as harsh, judgmental, and uncharitable as anything I’ve read over the years from the Sedevacantists. Here, the words of Benedict XVI regarding persecution ring particularly true:
…today we see it in truly terrifying form: the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from external enemies, but is born of sin within the Church. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, interview on flight to Lisbon, Portugal; LifeSiteNews, May 12th, 2010
So, what now? Who is the true pope?
It’s simple. Most of you reading this are not a bishop or cardinal. You have not been charged with the governance of the Church. It is not within your or my capacity to make public declarations regarding the canonical legality of a papal election. That belongs to the legislative office of the Pope, or a future pope. Nor am I aware of a single bishop or member of the College of Cardinals, who elected Pope Francis, who has suggested that the papal election was invalid. In an article rebutting those arguing that Benedict’s resignation was not valid, Ryan Grant states:
If it is the case that Benedict is still pope and Francis is not, then this will be adjudicated by the Church, under the aegis of the current pontificate or a subsequent one. To formally declare, not to merely opine, feel, or secretly wonder, but to definitively declare Benedict’s resignation invalid and Francis to not be the valid occupant, is nothing short of schismatic and to be avoided by all true Catholics. — “Rise of the Benevacantists: Who is Pope?”,One Peter Five, December 14th, 2018
This does not mean that you cannot hold concerns, reservations, or disappointments; it does not mean that you cannot ask questions or that bishops cannot issue a “filial correction” where deemed appropriate… so long as all is done with proper respect, procedure and decorum whenever possible.
Moreover, even if some hold fast that Pope Francis’ election is invalid, his ordination is not. He is still a priest and bishop of Christ; he is still in persona Christi—in the person of Christ—and deserves to be treated as such, even when he falters. I continue to be shocked at the language used against this man that should not be tolerable against anyone, much less a priest. Some would do well to read this canon law:
Schism is the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him. —Can. 751
Satan wants to divide us. He does not want us to work out our differences or try to understand the other, or above all, show any charity that might shine as an example before the world. His greatest triumph is not this “culture of death” that has wreaked so much destruction. The reason is that the Church, in her united voice and witness as a “culture of life,” stands as a beacon of light against the darkness. But that light will fail to shine, and thus be Satan’s greatest victory, when we are set against each other, when “a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” 
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. (Today’s Gospel)
It is [Satan’s] policy to split us up and divide us, to dislodge us gradually from our rock of strength. And if there is to be a persecution, perhaps it will be then; then, perhaps, when we are all of us in all parts of Christendom so divided, and so reduced, so full of schism, so close upon heresy… then [Antichrist] will burst upon us in fury as far as God allows him… and Antichrist appear as a persecutor, and the barbarous nations around break in. —Blessed John Henry Newman, Sermon IV: The Persecution of Antichrist
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Mark & Lea Mallett
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
FAITH is the key, which unlocks the door of hope, that opens to love.
That might sound like a Hallmark greeting card but it’s actually the reason Christianity has survived for 2000 years. The Catholic Church continues, not because she has been well stocked throughout the centuries with smart theologians or thrifty administrators, but saints who have “taste and seen the goodness of the Lord.”  True faith, hope, and love are the reason millions of Christians have died a brutal martyrs death or given up fame, riches, and power. Through these theological virtues, they encountered Someone greater than life because He was Life itself; Someone who was capable of healing, delivering and setting them free in a way no thing or no one else could. They did not lose themselves; on the contrary, they found themselves restored in the image of God in which they were created.
That Someone was Jesus.
TRUE LOVE CAN’T BE SILENT
The early Christians testified:
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:20)
There are countless testimonies from the earliest days of the Church that speak of souls—whether they were businessmen, doctors, lawyers, philosophers, house-wives, or tradesmen—who encountered the overwhelming unconditional love of God. It transformed them. It melted their bitterness, brokenness, anger, hatred, or hopelessness; it liberated them from addictions, attachments, and evil spirits. In the face of such overwhelming evidence of God, of His presence and power, they caved in to love. They surrendered to His Will. And as such, they found it impossible not to speak of what they had seen and heard.
TRUE LOVE TRANSFORMS
This, too, is my story. Decades ago, I found myself addicted to impurity. I attended a prayer meeting where I felt as if I were the worst person alive. I was filled with shame and sorrow, convinced that God despised me. When they handed out song sheets, I felt like doing anything but singing. But I had faith… even if it was the size of a mustard seed, even if it was covered over by years of manure (but doesn’t manure make for the best fertilizer?). I started singing, and when I did, a power began to flow through my body as if I was being electrocuted, but without the pain. And then I felt this extraordinary Love fill my being. When I walked out that night, the power that lust had over me was broken. I was filled with such hope. Moreover, how could I not share the Love I had just experienced?
Atheists like to think that poor little people like me manufacture these feelings. But in truth, the only “feeling” I was conjuring up in the previous moment was self-hatred and the sense that God did not want me and would never manifest Himself to me. Faith is the key, which unlocks the door of hope, that opens to love.
But Christianity is not about feelings. It’s about transforming fallen creation into a new heaven and new earth in co-operation with the Holy Spirit. And thus, Love and Truth go hand in hand. The truth sets us free—free to love, because that is what we were created for. Love, Jesus revealed, is about laying down one’s life for another. In fact, the love I experienced that day was only possible because Jesus decided 2000 years ago to give His life in order to seek out the lost and save them. And so, He turned to me then, as He does to you now, and says:
I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it… —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1816
TRUE LOVE TRANSCENDS
Today, the world has become like a ship on a stormy sea with a broken compass. People feel it; we can see how it’s playing out in the news; we are watching Christ’s haunting description of the “end times” unfold before us: “Because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.” As such, the entire moral order has been turned upside down. Death is now life, life is death; good is evil, evil is good. What can possibly begin to turn us around? What can save the world from recklessly drifting into the shoals of self-destruction?
Love. Because God is love. The world is no longer capable of hearing the Church preach her moral precepts, in part, because we have lost our credibility to do so through decades of scandal and worldliness. But what the world can hear and “taste and see” is authentic love, “Christian” love—because God is love—and “love never fails.” 
The late Thomas Merton wrote a powerful introduction to the prison writings of Fr. Alfred Delp, a priest held captive by the Nazis. Both his writings and Merton’s introduction are more relevant than ever:
Those who teach religion and preach the truths of faith to an unbelieving world are perhaps more concerned with proving themselves right than with really discovering and satisfying the spiritual hunger of those to whom they speak. Again, we are too ready to assume that we know, better than the unbeliever, what ails him. We take it for granted that the only answer he needs is contained in formulas so familiar to us that we utter them without thinking. We do not realize that he is listening not for the words but for evidence of thought and love behind the words. Yet if he is not instantly converted by our sermons we console ourselves with the thought that this is due to his fundamental perversity. —from Alfred Delp, SJ, Prison Writings, (Orbis Books), p. xxx (emphasis mine)
This is why Pope Francis (despite whatever confusing aspects to his pontificate one might question) was prophetic when he called the Church to become a “field hospital.” What the world needs first is a love that stops the bleeding of our wounds, which are the consequence of a godless culutre—and then we can administer the medicine of truth.
The Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. 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. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow. —POPE FRANCIS, September 30th, 2013; americamagazine.org
Well, we are presently watching the Church begin to fall like a house of cards. The Body of Christ has to be purified when it no longer flows from authentic faith, hope, and love—especially love—that comes from the Head. The Pharisees were good at keeping the law to the letter, and making sure everyone lived it… but they were without love.
If I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)
In an insightful blend of psychology and evangelizing principals, Pope Francis explained at World Youth Day today how we as Christians can attract the world to Christ again by reflecting our own encounter with God who does not abandon even the greatest sinner.
The joy and hope of every Christian—of all of us, and the Pope too—comes from having experienced this approach of God, who looks at us and says, “You are part of my family and I cannot leave you out in the cold; I cannot lose you along the way; I am here at your side.” —POPE FRANCIS, Penitential Liturgy and confessions at Juvenile Detention Center, Panama; January 25th, 2019, Zenit.org
Unconditional love. People need to know that they are loved simply because they exist. This, in turn, opens them up to the possibility of a God who loves them. And this then opens them to that truth that will set them free. In this way, through building relationships with the broken and friendships with the fallen, we can make Jesus present again, and with His help, set others upon the path of faith, hope and love.
And the greatest of these is love.
As I was finishing this writing just now, someone sent me the message that comes out of Medjugorje on the 25th of each month, allegedly from Our Lady. It should serve as a strong confirmation of what I’ve written this week, if nothing else:
Dear children! Today, as a mother, I am calling you to conversion. This time is for you, little children, a time of silence and prayer. Therefore, in the warmth of your heart, may a grain of hope and faith grow and you, little children, will from day to day feel the need to pray more. Your life will become orderly and responsible. You will comprehend, little children, that you are passing here on earth and you will feel the need to be closer to God, and with love you will witness the experience of your encounter with God, which you will share with others. I am with you and am praying for you but I cannot without your ‘yes’. Thank you for having responded to my call. —January 25th, 2019
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Mark & Lea Mallett
AS we begin this new year together, the “air” is pregnant with expectation. I confess that, by Christmas, I wondered if the Lord was going to be speaking less through this apostolate in the coming year. It has been the opposite. I sense the Lord almost eager to speak to His beloved ones… And so, day by day, I will continue to strive to let His words be in mine, and mine in His, for your sake. As the Proverb goes:
Where there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint. (Prov 29:18)
And as dear St. John Paul II said:
Now is above all the hour of the lay faithful, who, by their specific vocation to shape the secular world in accordance with the Gospel, are called to carry forward the Church’s prophetic mission by evangelizing the various spheres of family, social, professional and cultural life. —Address to the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee on their “Ad Limina” visit, May 28th, 2004
That mission does not change according to the times. In fact, it is more urgent than ever. And that’s why The Now Word is here: to help you find and live in God’s will for your life so that you are a source of light to the world around you. As the world grows in spiritual darkness, the opportunity for us to shine is ever brighter! That’s pretty exciting if you ask me.
But I cannot do this ministry without your help. The Now Word is a full-time apostolate that has only existed to this point because of your prayers and generosity. As this new year continues, I come to you again as a beggar to help me reach souls in whatever way you can. In fact, I pray that those of you who are financially capable will really pray about making a big difference in our apostolate this year. I hate thinking about money but that’s the reality every ministry faces in the twenty-first century. I don’t ask very often, but I need to today.
This year, we are praying about expanding my ministry into a podcast and/or videocast, if it is desired by you. I’m also discerning whether the Lord wants me to do more outreach in person. So pray that God will shower me with Wisdom and Light so that I may know and do His Will with joy and without reserve.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?… Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; though war be waged against me, even then do I trust. (Psalm 27:1, 3)
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Last, Lea and I want to thank you for your prayers, support, and beautiful letters that flooded in over Christmas. Our family is no different than any other—we are all under siege. But that’s why we have to stick together, right?
You are loved.
Mark & Lea
Bless you, and thank you!
Mark & Lea Mallett