“For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Consideration of these words from Jesus should be enough to convince any rational person to do everything possible to save his or her soul. And, of course, such a rational person will want to know what is required to save one’s soul. As the Catholic Church teaches, we must die in a state of sanctifying grace to save our souls.
Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma lists several de fide truths relating to sanctifying grace, including among others: in the state of original sin man is deprived of sanctifying grace and all that this implies; sanctifying grace sanctifies the soul; sanctifying grace makes the just man a friend of God; sanctifying grace makes the just man a child of God and gives him a claim to the inheritance of Heaven; the three Divine or theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are infused with sanctifying grace; and the grace by which we are justified may be lost, and is lost by every grievous sin.
For better or worse, Pope Francis has dispensed with all subtlety and we can now clearly see the war on sanctifying grace.
We can thus see how truly vital sanctifying grace is. Yet, as the Council of Trent declared, we cannot know with the certainty of faith that we are in the state of sanctifying grace:
“For, just as no pious person should doubt the mercy of God, the merit of Christ, and the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, so every one, when he considers himself and his own weakness and indisposition, may entertain fear and apprehension as to his own grace, since no one can know with the certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.” (Denzinger 802)
These words should not lead us to despair, but they have led Christians in all ages to heed the words of St. Paul: “with fear and trembling work out your salvation” (Philippians 2:12).
In The Glories of Divine Grace, Fr. Matthias Scheeben provides several examples of the lengths to which saints have gone to persevere and grow in the state of sanctifying grace:
“In order to escape or lessen the danger of losing grace, they freely became their own tyrants and considered themselves fortunate to be able to buy perseverance in grace by means of the greatest suffering, mortifications and sacrifices. St. John Bonus stuck sharp splinters under his fingernails, that he might be able to overcome a difficult temptation against holy purity. The Blessed Martinian made a slow fire of brushwood and then allowed his limbs to be burnt on it, asking himself meanwhile how insignificant was this pain when compared to the eternal fire of Hell, of which he would make himself deserving by losing grace. St. Francis rolled his bare body at one time on cold snow, at another on thorns, in order to make himself strong against the dangers of the flesh.”
Not all souls are called to take such extreme measures to avoid sin, but these examples ought to remind us that we must have tremendous care for the inestimable gift of grace that Jesus won for us on the Cross.
Bishop Robert Barron appears to be leading the heretical propaganda that all souls may be saved, but Pope Francis has added to it indirectly both through his refusal to correct the bishop and his own extensive efforts to promote false ecumenism.
Gradually over the past several decades, though, the majority of nominal Catholics have seemingly lost this sense of anxious regard for the state of their souls. Although their pastors may have continued to refer to sin and grace, the changes flowing from the Spirit of Vatican II all have a subtle way of diminishing the importance of sanctifying grace. During the same period, the dangers to salvation have increased dramatically, leading many Catholics to a perpetual cycle of sin that blinds the sinner to the need for grace.
For better or worse, Pope Francis has dispensed with all subtlety and we can now clearly see the war on sanctifying grace. He has intensified some attacks and launched a few of his own devising. When we consider the following (partial) list of attacks against sanctifying grace, we can readily discern that they result not from mere happenstance but from a concerted effort:
Amoris Laetitia. With Amoris Laetitia, we had an early indication that Pope Francis would attempt to reshape the related doctrines of mortal sin and sanctifying grace:
“For an adequate understanding of the possibility and need of special discernment in certain ‘irregular’ situations, one thing must always be taken into account, lest anyone think that the demands of the Gospel are in any way being compromised. The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”
Though this was always an egregiously bad piece of guidance, one could think that he really was trying to leave the doctrines of sanctifying grace and mortal sin intact while making a strained argument that the conditions necessary for mortal sin may be absent in the case of certain “irregular situations.” In hindsight, it seems more likely that he retains the concept of mortal sin for behaviors that he dislikes personally — particularly the behaviors of conservatives and capitalists — while taking the liberty to extend God’s forgiveness to those behaviors that he accepts. Thus, we find that he has emphasized that it is a mortal sin to administer the death penalty, refuse to give vacation days to employees, neglect the elderly, and torture people (clearly, some of these are mortal sins). Meanwhile, he has excused politicians who support abortion, those who commit the manifold sexual abuses under his watch, and those (including himself) who worship false idols.
When we have good reason to suspect that many of the pope’s closest Catholic collaborators live in a state of perpetual mortal sin, we can conclude that the pope does not place much value on sanctifying grace and the glorious benefits of growing in grace.
Dare We Hope? Bishop Robert Barron appears to be leading the heretical propaganda that all souls may be saved, but Pope Francis has added to it indirectly both through his refusal to correct the bishop and his own extensive efforts to promote false ecumenism. Although it is possible for some souls to be saved in another religion (as opposed to being saved by another religion), we know that the Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside the Church. False ecumenism obviously hurts those outside the Church because it tells them there is no reason to convert. It also harms those inside the Church because it effectively denies the necessity of the Catholic sacraments and teachings in helping souls to live and die in the state of sanctifying grace.
One of the clearest indications of Pope Francis’s false ecumenism is the 2019 Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, which states its own purpose as follows:
“It is a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”
If Pope Francis appreciated the importance of sanctifying grace, he would know how hateful it is to encourage his non-Catholic “brothers and sisters” to remain in religions that cannot provide such grace. As we read in Dr. Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, “the justification of an adult is not possible without Faith. (De fide.)”
Endless Scandals. Pope Francis inherited several horrifying scandals from his “saintly” predecessors but has seemingly dedicated himself to making them worse. The sickening spectacle drives souls from the Church but also works to deaden the consciences of those who remain. When we have good reason to suspect that many of the pope’s closest Catholic collaborators live in a state of perpetual mortal sin, we can conclude that the pope does not place much value on sanctifying grace and the glorious benefits of growing in grace. Men of sin are deadened to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, guided by passions that grow progressively worse, and generally hostile to Catholicism. Corruptio optimi pessima — the corruption of the best is the worst — and those who should be princes of the Church have become the most dedicated warriors in the fight against sanctifying grace.
Abuse of the Sacraments. Pope Francis has not had to do much to attack the Church’s sacraments themselves (owing to the destruction already accomplished by Paul VI and John Paul II) and he has even granted the priests of the Society of St. Pius X faculties to hear confessions. His efforts have instead focused on expanding the availability of the sacraments to those who are not properly disposed to receive them, while taking steps to deprive traditional Catholics of the sacraments they wish to receive worthily. The recent threats to Summorum Pontificum underscore the tendency to use sacraments not as a way to restore and increase sanctifying grace but as a reward system to incentivize Catholics to step into line with the liberal policies he promotes.
Pope Francis has placed such tremendous importance on advancing the cult of Covid that one can no longer pretend that he places much value on the Church’s timeless teaching about the salvation of souls.
Church of Covid. At a time of tremendous need for sacramental grace and the consolations that only the Faith can provide, Pope Francis and his bishops told us to stay away from the Church. Pope Francis has placed such tremendous importance on advancing the cult of Covid that one can no longer pretend that he places much value on the Church’s timeless teaching about the salvation of souls. Indeed, since the beginning of the pandemic of hysteria and fear, Pope Francis has been effectively telling his flock: “For what shall it profit a man, if he save his soul, and die of Covid?” Countless Catholics learned during the lockdowns that keeping Catholics in the state of grace is not an “essential service.”
German Schism. The impending German schism related to blessing of civil unions is a logical consequence of Amoris Laetitia. Throughout his papacy, the pope and his trusted bishops have attempted to normalize an “accompaniment” of sinners that effectively encourages Catholics to live and die in a state of mortal sin. In his 2020 Patris Corde, Pope Francis even misrepresented the life of St. Joseph to promote this mistaken belief that Catholics should “accompany” rather than “admonish” the sinner: “Joseph’s attitude encourages us to accept and welcome others as they are, without exception . . .” All of this undermines the Church’s teaching on sanctifying grace by sending the message that pertinacious adherence to sin is not nearly as bad as the Church once taught.
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Neglect. From the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis employed the image of the world as a field hospital, with people in desperate need of emotional and material support. From a Catholic perspective, the most prevalent and grave maladies facing the world today are those of mortal sin. Imagine a doctor doing his rounds in the hospital and routinely failing to take the simple and customary steps necessary to treat the life-threatening medical problems of his patients. Such a doctor would be guilty of malpractice and subject to criminal penalties — we would think he was a monster. The pretend spiritual physicians of the Catholic field hospital are infinitely worse, for their neglect destroys souls rather than bodies. Fiendishly, these fraudulent spiritual physicians frequently infect Catholics with the liberal and modernist cancers that attack sanctifying grace and lead to spiritual death.
Cooperation with the Great Reset. It is no mere coincidence that the architects of the Great Reset have every interest in eradicating the true appreciation of sanctifying grace, which stands in the way of their hideous designs. Clearly our enemies have gone to such great lengths to wage war on sanctifying grace precisely because it is something they despise and fear more than almost anything else. The most able of men might be powerless on their own against the prince of darkness and his minions, but even the pagans and apostates feel the threat of St. Paul’s words of reliance on Christ: “I can do all things in Him who strengthened me” (Philippians 4:13). God wins in the end, and Christians strengthened with sanctifying grace will be instruments of that victory. Why is the pope fighting on the wrong side of this war?
When Pachamama is more welcome in St. Peter’s than the Tridentine Mass, and priests are more likely to care for our state of vaccination than our state of grace, we have every reason to suspect that Satan is leading many within Pope Francis’s hierarchy.
Diabolical Disorientation. From these observations one could argue that the pope merely adopts a “live and let live” policy that errs (badly) on the side of excusing sinful behavior. Unfortunately, the pope does not extend this same open-mindedness to those who adhere to what the Church has always taught (that is, Catholicism). Not only is there a profound inversion of the spiritual and material needs of man, but within the spiritual realm there is a preference for the paths leading to sin rather than those leading to sanctifying grace. When Pachamama is more welcome in St. Peter’s than the Tridentine Mass, and priests are more likely to care for our state of vaccination than our state of grace, we have every reason to suspect that Satan is leading many within Pope Francis’s hierarchy.
Obviously Pope Francis deserves considerable blame for this terrible state of affairs. Even so, it all represents the mature fruits of the Spirit of Vatican II, unleashed by the Council years before Bergoglio’s ordination to the priesthood. On some level he has been terribly misled by those who seek not only our souls but his as well. He too is the victim of the intellectual, theological and spiritual poisoning by men who had been condemned by Pope Pius X decades before his birth.
In our righteous anger we should do all we can to repel these attacks on sanctifying grace, by refuting error and promoting virtue. It seems as well that we ought to pray fervently for Pope Francis, honoring our duty as Catholics as well as the specific request of Our Lady of Fatima. If such a man could realize that he has been deceived, and then convert to Catholicism, he might be fueled with enough righteous anger to spend his remaining days doing what the popes should have been doing for the past fifty-plus years: defending the Faith against the enemies within the Church. Unless and until he converts, though, we must oppose him in the wretched war he wages against sanctifying grace. Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio!