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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Mysticism of Encounter and Yet Another Papal Message of Nothingness

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The Mysticism of Encounter and Yet Another Papal Message of Nothingness

Back in November, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter concerning the Year of Consecrated Life he had called for, which began on November 30. At this point in the Bergoglian pontificate it should come as no surprise that this Apostolic Letter on consecrated life says nothing of any substance about consecrated life, but that it does advance the ideology of Bergoglianism, whose essence, as set forth in Evangelii Gaudium, is derogation of “structures which give us a false sense of security… rules which make us harsh judges… habits which make us feel safe” in favor of “the promptings of the Holy Spirit who helps us together to read the signs of the times…” (Evangelii Gaudium, nn. 14, 49). In other words, a form of illuminism quite alien to the Catholic notion of ecclesiastical tradition as the incommutable, organically developed and handed-down embodiment of apostolic tradition—in fact, the real result of the “promptings of the Holy Spirit” throughout the history of the Church.

Because the Apostolic Letter is an ideological exercise, like the rest of this pontificate in the main, it proposes three aims for the Year of Consecrated Life that have no intrinsic connection to consecrated life. The first is “to look to the past with gratitude.” Does this mean restoring traditional practices abandoned by all the religious orders decimated by the “reforms” following Vatican II in order to revive those orders and produce growth in vocations? No, no, no. There will be none of that. Rather, we must look to the past with gratitude in order “to read the signs of the times with the eyes of faith and to respond creatively to the needs of the Church. Grateful remembrance of the past leads us, as we listen attentively to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today.”

That is, we remember the past in order to forget it. What must control is the latest illuminist inspiration for the continuing devastation of consecrated life in keeping with the forgetfulness of the past that has characterized the whole conciliar aggiornamento. Accordingly, it was Francis who ordered the demolition of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate on account of what his hatchet man, Father Volpi, called their “crypto-Lefebvrianism” and “definite traditionalist drift.” Those friars were supposed to remember the past, not actually be guided by it! By dismantling the order Father Volpi has informed its members of what “the Spirit”—as Francis calls the Holy Ghost throughout the Apostolic Letter—is “saying to the Church today.” But how do we know that Father Volpi, or Francis for that matter, has received any such instructions from “the Spirit”? We don’t, obviously. The authority invoked is as unchallengeable as it is unverifiable.

Apparently, we must follow “the Spirit” in spite of all evidence that “the Spirit” is an evil influence—Paul VI called it “the smoke of Satan”—rather than the third Person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Apostolic Letter opines, at one and the same time, that Vatican II “represented a ‘breath’ of the Holy Spirit” according to which “consecrated life undertook a fruitful journey of renewal which, for all its lights and shadows, has been a time of grace, marked by the presence of the Spirit,” yet “various forms of consecrated life are currently experiencing… decreasing vocations and aging members, particularly in the Western world…” Some might see a contradiction between “renewal of consecrated life” and “decreasing vocations and aging members,” but then those naysayers are not listening to what “the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today.”

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The second aim of the Year Consecrated Life, writes Francis, is “to live the present with passion.” What does that mean? Francis explains: “Living the present with passion means becoming ‘experts in communion,’ ‘witnesses and architects of the plan for unity which is the crowning point of human history in God’s design.’” And what does that mean? Francis explains further: “Live the mysticism of encounter, which entails the ability to hear, to listen to other people; the ability to seek together ways and means.’” That sounds like advice a CEO would give his middle managers during a corporate retreat. For this we needed an Apostolic Letter?

The third aim of the Year of Consecrated Life is “to embrace the future with hope…” We must not be troubled, says Francis, by such things as “decreasing vocations and aging members” because “hope is not based on statistics or accomplishments, but on the One in whom we have put our trust.”

Yes, of course we must trust in Our Lord. But did not Our Lord found a Church, and did not His Church, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, gradually develop and hand down for centuries apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions that were the foundation stones of all the religious orders? And did not the religious orders begin to collapse precisely when those same traditions were removed from consecrated life after the Council, like so many bricks from the foundation of an ancient and venerable home? Should we not, then, trust in what the Lord provided His Church for so many centuries? Should we not recover and replace the lost foundation stones, including the traditional liturgy, the traditional Breviary, and the traditional rule of common life in the orders that are now on their deathbeds—including the once thriving Franciscan Friars, whose restored foundation Francis has wrecked?

Don’t even think it! As Francis declares: “It is to that future that we must always look, conscious that the Holy Spirit spurs us on so that he can still do great things with us.” In other words: remember the past only to abandon it, ignore the disastrous consequences of breaking with the past, and invoke “the Spirit” and a hazy future in defense of the crumbling Novus Ordo status quo. Irony of ironies, unlike Pope Benedict, Francis “the Great Reformer” wants no reform at all but rather a resolute return to the drift and decay that have afflicted the ecclesial mainstream since the late 1960s. This is what Cardinal Burke meant when he said: “At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder.”

In sum, the Apostolic Letter on consecrated life is a message of nothingness, the same nothingness Martin Mosebach has so aptly termed “the heresy of formlessness” which, outside of a few traditionalist oases, has buried the timeless landmarks of the Faith under the lifeless sands of a “renewal” that is really a desert.

Toward the end of the Apostolic Letter, Francis declares: “I thank the Lord that the Year of Consecrated Life coincides with the Synod on the Family.” May God protect the family from the Synod on the Family, and what still remains of consecrated life from the Pope who destroyed one of the few healthy and growing religious orders in the Church today.

Last modified on Monday, December 15, 2014
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.