The Last Judgement, Godzilla and Deep Impact

(Many of these essays here on this web-site are intended for our post_Christian agnostic, skeptical, humanitarian-believing brothers and sisters, who have had little knowledge, if any, of the fundamental doctrines of the Catholic Church.)

I believe many people see the Last Judgment as some kind of disaster movie where Our Lord appears as some great giant Godzilla-like or comet-like approaching figure bringing with His presence great physical disasters, disasters which may presage the coming. There are many disaster movies, but which end with man very much immersed in the same sins and life-styles as before the disaster. Man does not change much through suffering disasters.

At the Last Judgment it could well be quite the opposite: time and space of our universe stops instantly. The dead arise instantly. And all see at the same time, in the very front of each and every one of our consciousnesses, Our Lord, present to our eyes with a reality never seen before – a reality unavoidable. One’s eyes have nowhere to look, neither up nor down, nor sideways, but only gazing at the face of Our Lord and His wounds. There is nowhere to go, for there is no time and space in which to go to or to turn to. Eternity, Our Lord’s eyes and wounds are immediately present to all. The old world is gone.

The Judgment takes place instantly through the gaze of Our Lord’s eyes. There are only one of two responses to that gaze: of love or of hate. For those who hate, Our Lord said they would wish for the mountains to fall on them, because there is no way to escape from the eyes of Our Lord. We know in His life on earth, Our Lord’s relationships with us drew no intermediary responses: He was either loved or hated. There was no indifference of men to Him. He spoke by command and instruction and testing questions. There were no conversations and there will be no conversations in the Last Judgment, no appeals, for we will have judged ourselves by our response to His gaze and to His wounds which we each have caused.

In one instant, our hearts may reach out in sorrowing love for Him, sorrow for hurting Him so much for our sins; or sorrow for the horror of our rejection and the deliberate ignoring of Him and the consequences that brings. Those eyes of Our Lord are the eyes of Judgment. Instantly we see through His eyes the state of our souls and our hearts, our life, our works. No words need be spoken. Those eyes in the very front of our consciousness are the Judgment itself.

For those who love Him, in that one instant our purgatorial fire of sorrowing love is measured not in years but in the intensity of that love. We humans measure time in purgatory by being trapped into using time and space to explain events in eternity which has no time. So, the “time” between the Particular Judgment at death and the Last Judgment may be instantaneous – the only measure being the intensity of that loving sorrow for Our Lord.

And in the next instant, there is a new universe created for us, with a new kind of time and space and dimensions, with new kinds of bodies, impassible in time and space, perhaps even different times and spaces for everyone to live eternally. “There are many mansions” Our Lord said which are prepared for His followers. Endless bliss – a bliss proportioned to each – is promised for those who love Our Lord, even to the weakest of those who love Him.

The hope for many, who are ignorant or complacent regarding Our Lord and the Last Judgment, is commanded by Our Lady of Fatima that we pray after each Rosary decade: “Save us from the fires of hell and lead ALL SOULS to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”

Covid-19 and the Prospect of Death

(Many of these essays here on this web-site are intended for our post_Christian agnostic, skeptical, humanitarian-believing brothers and sisters, who have had little knowledge, if any, of the fundamental doctrines of the Catholic Church. Yet, much of the underpinning of these thoughts are just the common sense philosophical pretty-strong arguments of non-Christian, pre-Christian Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the widely-held beliefs of mankind over millennia.)

Covid-19 – we all are getting quite unsettled by it. Thoughts of one’s demise arise more frequently than in the past, even though we shrug off the prospect of Death and say: “Gotta go sometime,” the idea of Death stays just underneath our consciousness like a bad smell.

Well, Death is a horrible prospect no matter what way one looks at it! I do not, definitely not, want to die, and nobody else wants to die as well. Death is an awesome fact of life. It is the end of life, my life, my whole series of prospects, adventures, relationships, hobbies, everyday awareness of things as they are. Death is the end. The End.

Death is the most unnatural event, most ghastly thing that is going to happen to everyone born on earth. Yes, animals die, but they don’t know it. To us human beings, it is a confrontation of something not right. Death is not right. There is something wrong with life, existence, if we have to die! I mean, what is the meaning of life if we have to die. Eventually, there is nothing left of us in this world which will remain. Our works, our achievements, our families, even our grave stones will disappear eventually. Nothing remains. Death takes it all.

Or does it?

The fact of Death raises two possibilties: either we human beings are constituted of purely material objects, or we have a soul, an essential constituent, which exists after Death.

The first possibility, that we are purely material beings, is pretty stupid, really. Matter does not look at itself, chemicals don’t stand outside themselves and think. Pure materialism is just outrageously stupid. It is obvious that no matter how much we explain our functioning in material terms, it is the very fact of our standing outside ourselves explaining material causes which is contradictory. What is the thing which stands out, which sees the picture, the logic, the whole rather than the material parts? It ain’t matter!

Just suppose we are nothing but material processes, then there is no meaning to anything, there is no meaning to a bunch of protons and electrons, no matter how complex they are assembled. “Meaning” is something beyond the parts: and that is the constituent element of a human being which allows us to give meaning to anything and it can’t be material. So there is a constituent element of being a human being called the “soul” for want of a better word. I hate using the word “spiritual”. Too many silly connotations with that word. Even the word “soul” has too many silly connotations. But we have to use such words but try to be as accurate in our use of them as is possible.

So, to the second possibility: we have a soul, an essential part of being a human being. And when we die the soul continues to exist. This is not rocket science: for ever since man has been earth mankind has and will always believe in life after death, some kind of personal existence. That is just common sense. Almost all believe in life after death, one big reason being the need for justice after death, some kind of ordering of the good and the bad, some kind of punishment and reward. Otherwise, if there is no justice then there is no good or bad, no consequences for the evil man who may be full of hate and kill millions of people but is kind to dogs and small children, and dies peacefully in his bed.

However, there are many, many beliefs about what constitutes this kind of “soul” existence as there are cultures and individuals on earth: from the idea that this soul transmigrates to another plane of physical existence in another material being, to the idea of a “ghost-like” being that is just like a physical human being without the “physical” body.

So, let’s examine the idea of the “soul”. It is a principle of life which gives order and direction to the physical elements of a body. In a human being, this “soul” is self-aware to the point of being aware of its being self-aware – our soul looks onto itself’s own self-awareness, and one can conceptualise an infinite number of steps of being aware of self to aware of self on to infinity. So, the meaning of the soul is to end in some kind of being in touch with the infinite – a huge jump from being just a functioning material being, fulfilling its normal physical requirements. Whatever happens after Death, this “soul” is still aware. And therefore our life is not completed at death.

Sure, we can no longer call the soul a human being: it’s not, it is missing a body. What a huge wrench, a huge divorce of two elements which makes us human. That is what makes Death horrible, unnatural. It stops the fulfilment of being complete: of reaching the truth, of achieving the highest dreams we can think of, because without a body, the soul after death is not complete either. Mr John Doe is no longer, even though his soul lives on. His soul is not a human being!

What is worse is that this soul has no longer a body to inform it of the senses which it requires to operate: no touch, no sensation, no physical world to respond to, to interreact with. It lies open to whatever constitutes the non-material universe, of which we know very little. And since it is sense data which gives the soul options to choose one thing over another, the will is probably fixed after death. The will needs data to choose options. A mystery is that one cannot know whether the will or orientation of a person’s soul to reality after death can change. The same with understanding: does the soul understand the state it is in? Is it aware of things in the physical world? The soul will still be “individuated”, that is, it is different from anyone else’s soul, because it’s understanding and memory and habits of thought have been imprinted on it by it’s body all its existence.

All the above discussion is pretty much basic Aristotlean philosophy. It is fairly minimalist. Aristotle worked with a scientific mind from first principles and made no assumptions beyond the limits of reasoning. The Catholic Church’s teaching about the soul are pretty much the same as Aristotle. The above fits with common sense reasoning without being sensationalist.

But where philosophy ends, religious beliefs begin.

The big questions are about the soul and God, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Since we live in a post-Christian world many people choose to minimise the role of all of these beliefs. They have heard about Jesus and love and mercy, about heaven being the reward for good people. They believe that most people are “good”. They are also infected with the Enlightenment belief that we are all born “good” and that good and evil actions are only really caused by social and economic factors. So, when we die we have this vague belief in some kind of justice for the really “bad” but the rest of us get to some happy place called “heaven”. Furthermore, many believe that the soul then flies around like a happy bird, somewhat similar to the beliefs of New Age spirituality: Eastern religious beliefs without the uncomfortable other beliefs of Hinduism or Buddhism. Those religions have their heavens and hells as well as Christians.

And the idea of “heaven” is quite vague in many minds. “Heaven” is where we have a good time, pursuing our pleasures, or being born higher up with the gods, or losing one’s self in the eternal Buddha of nothingness, or a place where one meets up with all those other “good” people – our family. In many ways, post-Christian belief in a heavenly life after death is similar to pagan beliefs: a place of comfort for the good, contentment, happiness. And so did the ancient Greeks and Romans and other cultures believe that the good rested well in Elysium wandering peacefully among the dead.

The Christian idea of Heaven is totally different from all of these. It is quite confrontational! Heaven is the one to one personal, ecstatic, vision of the very heart of God – the face to face loving relationship with Jesus, Creator of the Universe. Only those who are perfect in holiness are able to enter this state of being.

So, contemporary post-Christians are unsettled by the thought of Death, yet ignore the consequences of belief in the nature of the after-life of the soul. Well, it is very unsettling to realise that the soul after Death is open to the spiritual world, without the veil of the body. That means that the soul is open to the effects on it of all the spirits, good and bad. But more than that, the soul is open to the presence of God, and that means Judgment: is my soul “good” in God’s eyes? What we believe to be the average “good” person may well be not enough in God’s judgment. After all, the First Commandment is that one should have no other God’s than Me, in other words, the main goodness God is looking for is loving piety and humility. Does this soul have the habit and thought processes of piety, worship, and loving complete humble surrender to God, with no hint of that inner rebelliousness every human is born with. Didn’t Jesus say that the first commandment is to love God with all one’s might, strength, heart, soul, etc. Those are the qualities of a “good” person, nothing to do with being measured by what is meant by “good” in this world!

So, when a person dies, the soul is immediately judged according to the first commandment. Without love of God, the soul cannot enter heaven. It can’t change its mind.

I can imagine the kind of conversation a typical modern “good” person’s soul might have with God at Death: “I have done lots of good things in my life: looked after the sick, the poor and been kind to everyone.”

And God’s reply: “But I have called you to pray to Me, to lift up your heart to Me, to find Me in your local church, many times in your life, and you have rejected those calls in the hope that this shopping list of good works is a suitable substitution for loving Me. I am your Creator and you have consistently refused Me because in your heart of hearts you are a rebel saying ‘I will not serve’. And even those good works which you have done, were at My initiation and direction. It is the return of love in your heart for Me which I desire and died for on the Cross.”

However, many of us will die in that “grey” area of loving God but not wholeheartedly. Of dying in sorrow for one’s incomplete love of God, yet willingly surrendering oneself to God and joyful at seeing Him at last. And this kind of soul will fly towards Him in increasingly loving joy and sorrow, burning up with incomplete fulfillment of love, yet secure in knowing that soon it will possess the fullness of that union with Him.

Otherwise… Let us not contemplate the alternative possibility.

So, Death is indeed an awesome prospect and one’s life ought to be oriented to that fact, to be in a position of hope that one’s will is not so rebellious, that one’s life is directed to being open to God. That is why Catholics ceaselessly pray that Our Lady intercedes for us “now and at the moment of our Death”.

Why “at the moment”? Because that moment is when the soul comes under attack by the enemy, either by keeping it complacent in its self-sufficiency, or tempting it to hopelessness. All the wiles of the enemy are brought to bear at that moment of Death. Catholics are taught to pray for “final perseverance” and to have a “holy death”, and to receive the Last Rites by a priest, so as to dispel all and every attack by the enemy.

The finest final act is for one, at the moment of Death, to lovingly offer one’s death with God’s death on the Cross, as a loving, willing sacrifice for others, to the point that one willingly accepts even greater pains to unite oneself with Him.

So, Death loses its sting. It is defeated and becomes a source of victory. It is to be looked at as a final gateway of one’s life, the race which has been won for us. We cross the finishing line into the “humble triumph” of the Cross and the Resurrection of the Dead.

Covid-19 then is a call to prepare for and to welcome Death.

THE WITHDRAWAL OF GOD’S GRACE FROM THE WORLD

PART ONE

During these present times, one at first may think that God is withdrawing His Grace from the world. But God’s loving grace is eternal and ever-present. It is present in two ways: exterior to our hearts through nature, societal and cultural channels; and interiorly, in our hearts in those who accept His grace and have made Him a guest in the house of their hearts and souls.

So, the only way we might be brought outside God’s grace is by our rejection of Him: by rejecting His laws written in nature and in our hearts, and/or by rejecting His guidance through the world’s many grace-influenced cultural channels, which He has gently guided through history.

So, if we feel that grace is withdrawn, it is us, either as individuals, or our society, which has closed off those channels of grace. And we have been doing that off and on for centuries now.

Exterior grace is God working actively, outside our will, not inside the very depths of our hearts with us cooperating as a willing friend and agent of God: that is interior grace. Example of exterior channels of grace, perhaps, is a society which has established just laws, or which has a culture which expressed piety to God, through its worship of a god or many gods, or a society which has developed a sense of humanity among its people. None of these channels are perfect because mankind – each one of us – is at base, disobedient and rebellious and will twist those channels to suit oneself. But nevertheless, God works His ways through those channels to give us glimpses of His Beauty, Truth and Goodness.

To solve the problem of our rebelliousness, God Himself, came to dwell among us to establish permanent, unbreakable physical channels of grace: Interior grace where He works directly inside our souls.

Jesus Himself is The Channel. While physically on earth, He is Grace amongst us physically. After He ascended into heaven, the Church He established is His Body on earth and its sacraments are channels promised to supply grace perfectly and to be spread over the whole earth until all have had a chance to receive His grace not just exteriorly but interiorly and affect the growth of society and culture in exterior means of grace. The interior grace is channeled through the Church making God Himself reside within ourselves making us “deified”: literally God’s special creations of Himself.

The world now has mostly rejected the Body of Christ as it did 2000 years ago: it, we, crucified God. And the world now has mostly rejected the societal and cultural channels of grace guided by God through His Church. The exterior channels of grace are rejected by society’s rejection of natural law and in increasingly stopping the flow of grace through cultural practices which might carry His love into men’s hearts. For instance, the cult of chivalry for the protection of the weak by the strong, of “gentlemen and ladies” rather than the bare “men”, “women”, of works of beauty in music and art, of good manners, of respect for the elderly, the health worker, the police, etc., these societal channels of grace are falling apart.

It took a thousand years, for God, through the Church, to establish a society based on channels of grace: Christendom – the Kingdom of Christ on earth. The empire of ancient Rome had to go even if it was Christian by 400AD. The cultural practices, habits and attitude of mind of Rome had become too hardened for grace to grow effectively.

A new society of a mix of German barbarian culture guided by the Church, especially by the Benedictine monks, who were informed with the best of Roman culture and law created a new vigorous and thoroughly Christian society and culture: Western Europe. For a thousand years, from about 800 to 1800, the world had been in-formed of the wonderful “gentleness” of grace woven into the very texture and fabric of European life, despite the constant battle going on in men’s rebellious hearts!

Real proof of the change in the hearts of men by interior grace working within their souls is seen in the new words, or old words with new meanings, introduced into Western Europe by 1200 AD: words like pity, gentle, mercy, beauty, bounty, charity, comfort, compassion, courtesy, delicate, devotion, grace, honour, humble, passion, patience, peace, purity, tender. Just think about this! Before Christendom, the above words would have been meaningless to pagans in everyday life. Sure some of these words were used, but the demand for the expression of these virtues and deeply felt emotions spread right across society at all levels. What a change to humanity! Most of these words were at first liturgical, part of the Mass, and became secularised to express a new reality of person’s attitude to others, a culture of “tenderness”. The world today still gives a nodding agreement with the emotions which lie beneath these words, but the generator of those emotions is the constant presence of the doctrinal reality of the Catholic Mass. Take away the presence of the Mass in people’s lives and the ground of those emotions become sheer sentimentality – “virtue-signalling” with no actual meaning other than conformity to whatever is the contemporary virtue of the day!

PART TWO
It is Interior Grace which really transforms our hearts, our wills, our habits, and by extension, our combined activity in society to transform the channels of Exterior Grace. Since we are physical beings, both interior and exterior grace must enter us through physical means, through physical channels.

The absolute means of God entering any one of us is by the physical sacraments of the Catholic Church. Note here: “physical”. Since we are physical creatures God’s main means of giving Himself to us is by physical means: firstly, by being physically among us, and then through the physical sacraments, the extension of Himself in human Time and Space. Let’s avoid the word “spiritual”: it is too vague and easily twisted by our dumb minds to understand even what “spirit” really means, but we all know what “physical” is.

And the main and ultimate physical conduit of God in the world is the Catholic Mass: the real physical sacrifice of God on the altar by a physical priest, and the separation of God’s physical Body and Blood on that physical altar made of stone – that is what things are killed on. That is what a priest is: a sacrificer of something physically living and then dying by that sacrifice. Any belief which reduces the physicality of this sacrifice reduces the main and essential conduit of God’s grace to the world.

Sacrifice is the main means mankind has of pleading to God, or the gods of the past, or for that mattter, pleading to someone else, for justice, for forgiveness, for good weather, for health. Justice demands that something living – a replacement of ourselves – is given up to God as a gift in order to receive something back from God. No different from the natural interchange in human justice. Sacrifice is part of Justice. So, that is why God became a Man so that a perfect sacrifice could be made for all mankind – past, present and future. Payment for each and every one of us in our indwelling disobedience and constant rebelliousness against God Himself. Just look at how many times we blame anyone other than ourselves. We even blame God. We are each and everyone of us quite debilitated in our thoughts, our hearts and our habits. It takes an almighty act of God to straighten us out: that is the Catholic Mass! It is the beautiful act of Love: God Himself, the Loving Creator of the Story of the Universe, allows Himself to enter the Story, and submit Himself to its evils, its hate, with Love. He died through Love to teach us how and why to love. He died to heal our hearts and to form a channel of interior grace into our hearts.

And over a thousand years, a huge number of physical actions, rituals, paintings, statues, churches, etc., all works of man, were made to underscore the main means of God’s grace in this world by the sacraments. Daily life of a Catholic was filled by continually making the physical sign of the cross before any activity, the Angelus bells, the holy cards, the daily office of psalms, the physical Rosary beads and the physical vocalising prayers through the day. All physical reinforcement of the conduits of God’s grace to the world through each Catholic. And these men and women spread those means of God’s presence in the world to the rest of mankind. The very presence of a Catholic in grace, physically spreads grace through his very body, he is carrying the Body and Blood of Christ inside him and that grace – grace is a form of God Himself – is physically touching everything that a Catholic touches – a normal Catholic in his practice of the Faith is physically altering the world!

It has almost all gone now. We, mankind, have taken away the conduits of God to physically be present on earth!!

We have made a new Tower of Babel, by giving free rein to our greed, licence for our feelings and thoughts, prideful insistence on our “rights” without “duties”, our prideful “individualism”, our deliberate ignorance of the past and the wisdom of our ancestors, and undermining even the force of logic in our promise of a “nice” life of earth, covering up the fact of death and the punishments in the after life. We have become conveniently agnostic, atheistic, and nihilistic, and have built enormously huge systems to support the Tower in worlds of politics, education, the media, our popular cultish art and music. And having the childish pleasures in sport, technological and scientific achievements to entertain and justify our “progress” and “superiority” over mankind. We are mesmerised by so-called facts of science and the miracle of the latest gadget, and turn a blind eye to some of the worst and most disgusting human behaviour in the history of mankind.

God will not be mocked. We have been steadily and increasingly mocking Him, closing off the channels of grace over the past 200-300 years and especially over the past 100 years, and we are going to be punished severely for it. This punishment is the natural consequence of our withdrawing from grace. It is not as if some angry god is punishing us. It is a loving God allowing nature to take its place hopefully to open our hearts and seek again the channels of grace.

PART THREE
We got into this “damming the channels” of grace by historical events which altered and finally destroyed Christendom. Developments in European culture broke down the social and cultural exterior means of grace.

Firstly, the growth of usury, wealth and the economy linked with the ending of feudal loyalties accelerated the growth of national kingdoms with the subsequent decline of Papal authority and “nationalism” of the bishops.

Secondly, by 1600, the Renaissance gradually established Greek humanistic rationalism and replaced the God-centred culture and thought of Europe.

Many of us are enchanted by the Renaissance. How wonderful the works of Leonardo, of Michelangelo, of Raphael! Yet each religious work combines a worship of Man as well as of God, a huge change in our view of reality. How wonderful becomes the prose style of the Renaissance! We now have intellectuals whose writings are imitations of Classical Roman prose. Gone now is the cool, logical, direct, Medieval prose, not particularly interested in making communication “beautiful” but ensuring that they were true.

The Renasissance was the greatest revolution in thought in the history of mankind, reaching into every aspect of life through writing and art and all expressions of culture and education. The iconic nature of religious art was replaced with the worship of God in rational terms and expressions, with the iconic sacramental nature of a Gothic cathedral replaced by the rationally-constructed Baroque pagan-styled temple. Greek rationalism brought with it an underlying scepticism and distaste for all the previous achievements of European culture to the point that all history after the end of the Roman Empire was called the “Middle Ages” – a deliberate term of abuse! This arrogant attitude created a self-reliant independence from God right through Western society, especially in Italy and the rich northern kingdoms. “Intellectuals” now became the arbiters of culture and religion.

To illustrate the tremendous change in the attitude to art objects, compare any of Raphael’s Madonnas with the traditional Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. On the one hand we have a most beautifully composition by Raphael: idealised beauty and proportion of Mother and Infant Christ arranged in a perfect pyramidal spiraling group to give life to the figures. On the other hand, we have iconic representation best seen in the Our Lady of Perpetual Succour icon of Mother and Infant Christ: no attempt at addressing realism, gold background, the oval tilt of the head, elongated fingers, strirated lines to represent folds of cloth, the child disproportionally adult, etc. In the our former attention is drawn to its “beauty” dominatiing our reactions. In the latter, “holiness” dominates our attention, “beauty”, if at all, a secondary consideration in this portrayal.

This same process takes place in music: compare Gregorian chant with Renaissance Polyphony. In the former the music is composed on the modes: no key signature and the meaning of each phrase is given notes with no attempt at making a rational whole of the chant. Gregorian chant addresses God directly: the idea of its being “beautiful” is secondary. On the other hand, polyphony is beautifully constructed to bring about religious feelings of gentleness in an very pleasing, aetheral manner. To be sure polyphony praises God, but since its beauty dominates, it replaces Gregorian chant in the Mass.

Now the questions are these: Which of the above works best conveys “holiness”? Which of the above works conveys the dominance of “beauty”? Even today there are quite educated and religious people who prefer “beauty” over “holiness” in their art. The Renaissance popes chose “beauty” over “holiness” and Gregorian chant gradually disappeared from major centres of European Catholicism, for once “beauty” became the standard then the Catholic Mass became dominated by either polyphony and works of classical composers.

Thirdly, by 1700 the Protestant Revolution got rid of the physicality of the sacraments: the sacraments were believed to be symbolic only and thus destroying the physicality of Christ’s presence in the liturgy, which no longer was called the Mass, because Protestants did not believe in the actual physical sacrifice of Christ in the Mass nor in the reality of His Body and Blood in the Host for Communion. The sacramental nature of life was therefore destroyed: no making the sign of the cross, nor rosary beads, no praying to the saints, no special religious status of kingship (thus the beheading of Charles I). In fact almost all physical sacramental signs were abolished in most of northern Europe where pure Protestantism took hohld. The Church as a universal physical body became an “invisible” united church, and the body of a church building became a bare, barren worship centre, dominated by a preacher and sentimental hymns. So, the whole of northern Europe lost the main interior means of Grace: the Mass and sacraments, but also the large numbers of expressions of exterior grace.

Fourthly, by 1800, the Enlightenment – a term to describe the progress of Reason over Superstition (engendered by the Renaissance) – won over all the intellectuals, the scientists, the lawyers, the educated man, and the media through essays, commentary and newspapers. This period of history is often called the Age of Reason. Rationalism became the dominant philosophy of Western Europe. Now, it might seem that being “rational” is a most common sense position to take in addressing the main issues of life, of reality, of the place of religion and science. However, being “rational” and believing in Rationalism are two different things. Rationalism is the belief that one cannot know reality as it is present to one’s mind. Descartes, the father of Rationalism, declared “I think therefore I am.” This claim made one’s own thoughts the centre of reality, making the great assumption that reality only existed in the mind, and that all one had to do was to build systems of thought on the logical progression of thoughts following from one’s own mind. The trouble with this assumption is that before one can even think, there has to be a Reality pre-existing in which one’s mind is already a part. Decartes separated Man from the Nature of Reality – a separation which dominates all modern philosophy and consequently all educational and cultural expressions in society. Everything becomes “subjective”.

And on the other hand, Hume, the father of empiricism, went further: the only reality is what one senses: the senses themselves – one has no reason to believe there is any thing or object (apple or orange) outside of one’s mind. All one can say is that I receive a sense of redness, of roundness, but I may not assert that the apple exists objectively. This branch of philosophy created a wave of scepticism about anything which was not “sensible”: out went religious belief, the soul, God, angels, and universal moral laws – all having no “rational” basis, none being “sense”.

Science and technology developed freely as these branches of thought rely purely on observed measurements regardless of their actual existence. But, of course, a scientist always believes in seeking the laws in nature, laws themselves beyond sensible proof, contradicting the basis of “rationalism” and its philosophies.

The philosophical structure of Rationalism was also brought to bear on politics and society. Political ideology developed through Hobbs, Locke and Rousseau. In Anglo-Saxon countries, John Locke’s theories justified the rights of property against the central government and supported the growth of capitalism. On the Continent, Rousseau invented the idea that all men were born innocent and equal and that it is only the social environment which creates “good” and “bad” development in people. The ancient idea that government was for the common good of the people guided by ancient moral principles fell to the idea that only the “individual” with his freedoms was the object of government.

So, Rationalism in all its forms created a world-wide intellectual atmosphere of irreligious, agnostic, scepticism and latent materialism. This atmosphere affected all aspects of society – a contagion affecting our educational systems and thus university and school syllabi, our media, our political systems regardless of being “left” or “right” wing. The expression of any strongly help religious belief was virtually banned even from casual conversation among friends and colleagues.

Because the Church was so successful in generating a “gentling” of mankind, these Rationalists pretended that the cultivated, civilised culture of French was a natural product of their own. They kept the practice of a mannered, civilised society and dropped the engine which kept that kind of society running. The Age of Reason justified itself by claiming responsibility for a world dazzled by technological, scientific and industrial victories over Mother Nature. “Progress” became and still is, the war cry of the Enlightened.

From about 1750 onwards, every writer of books, novels, plays, essays, etc., had one enemy: the Catholic Church and its cultural channels of grace. These channels of grace were derided. History books were written to show the evils of religion opposed to the great minds of ancient Greece and Rome. Gibbon’s deliberately anti-Catholic “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” became the standard for all historians. Guess which institution was blamed.

The French Revolution – a product of the Enlightenment – accelerated this process: run at first by well-meaning intellectuals it degenerated into some of the greatest atrocities mankind had ever seen. And now they added the nobles to the list of enemies of society together with the priests. Just read the novels of the 19th century and you will find the villian: a noble, or a priest, or a Spaniard (after all, they were pious Catholics). Increasing attacks on the Church were made right through the 19th Century by the French forcing the laicising of the clergy and the appropriation of all Church property; and by the British in full support of Garibaldi’s and Cavour’s takeover of Italy – the pope becoming a prisoner inside the Vatican. Germany also took up the fight against the Church – the Kulturkamp.

Religion was replaced with the Ideology of Liberty, Equality and the Brotherhood of Man, a vehicle of propaganda used by all nations to suppress channels of God’s grace. These ideas without grace easily became distorted by substituting Christian virtues with “citizenship”, “civic politeness” and a “love”, a word which could mean anything now and which soon became just an expression of sentimentality, without any substance, the individual determining the application of love according to one’s own convenience.

This great loss of Faith and the channels of grace led to two world wars and the rise of atheistic totalitarian governments on the one hand and liberal-dominated governments on the other hand, resulting in enormous loss of life world-wide by the imposition of ideologies on the rest of mankind through the 20th century.

All the above trends has led to a 21st century dominated by liberalism and its consequent consumerism, selfish individualism, the break up of families, the slaughter of innocent babies and the onslaught of euthanasia, all of which reveal people trying to escape the discomforts of life and the reality of death. Contemporary society is now ruled by adults with children’s pursuits, by bureaucrats and politicians who have no idea of what the “common good” is because “good” implies belief in something higher in reality – an objective moral law, which in turn implies a Lawgiver, God.

So, we have world-wide society dominated by finding means to escape from religion and belief in God.

PART FIVE

At the height of Christendom, it is difficult for us moderns to understand just how much the practice of Catholics entered the everyday lives of lay people. For instance, both the lowly poor to the high nobles attended daily Mass in the early morning, all together, and after fasting since midnight might take Communion. Those who could read might have the Book of Hours and recite the Little Office of Mary through the day – every three hours. The Angelus bell would ring and all would stop whatever they were doing for 5 minutes and say the Angelus. Many who could not read memorised the psalms and prayers of the day and of Mass. Rosary became very popular later in 14th Century and also became part of everyday life. There were many other channels of grace available to them through the day to the point that God, His passion, death and resurrection and the hope of salvation, the hope in heaven were the main thoughts behind a person’s daily life. All “normal” secular activity was seen as secondary to living a Catholic life. Of course, the force of our weakness as human beings reduced the impact of the channels of grace, but one could not avoid reminders of God, of Christ and Redemption everywhere.

It took centuries of attacks on Catholic life and the effectiveness of Christendom to reduce these channels of grace. The Great Schism in the 14th C., the Renaissance and the Protestant Rebellion reduced the influence of the Church on Europe.

Much of Europe was saved from Protestantism by the work of the Jesuits whose disciplined life, doctrinal purity and intense training broke the back of Protestant infiltration into France, southern Germany, Italy and Spain. The brilliant scholarship of the Jesuits, their holiness and their publications continued through the 17th and 18th centuries in answer to the forces of the Enlighenment. Intelligent, scholarly answers had to be made to fight the huge challenge of Rationalism. The main question requiring an answer was: Could a rational person believe in the beliefs of the Catholic religion? The Jesuits took on this challenge with remarkable success to the point that they produced systematic answers to every objection raised by the Rationalists. Jesuit founded schools and colleges to train Catholics to respond to these challenges.

But, in the process, doctrinal Catholicism was emphasised tending to replace the need for the publically expressed external cultural, liturgical life of Catholics. The Jesuits used the culture of Rationalism against the enemy but in the process, Rationalism entered the Church. The prayer life of Catholics became more personal rather than liturgical. For example, devotional life centred on subjective, emotionally-laden devotions to the Sacred Heart. Consequently, the ancient liturgy of Gregorian chant was lost, so much so that it took years of research by Benedictine monks around the early 20th century to rediscover Gregorian chant. Even the call by Pope Pius X to the Church to bring back the fullness of the ancient and Medieval liturgy and its supremacy in rendering God’s grace to Catholic life was met by great resistance, and eventually failed.

During the 19th Century and in the 20th Century the Church had to accomodate the new secular world. Much of the effort of its theologians was to minimise the ancient traditions of the church by makiing religious practices more acceptable to a secularised Catholic world. Vatican II was the great effort by the Church to accomodate the secular world, but which brought about disastrous results.

After Vatican Council II he Church lost the battle against Modernity: against usury, divorce, masturbation, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, and the economic splitting-up of the family unit. The Church even proclaimed itself as being now part of the “Modern World.” A tragic mistake for which the Church is suffering and will continue to suffer until it rejects accommodation to the world.

So, the Mass, the key to God’s physical presence on earth, was made ambiguous, a construct by a committee, still now in the 21st century retaining the “hippie” music, and the pseudo-Marxist community “spirituality”, filled now by old “baby-boomers” and emptied of the young, ruled by women who have as many abortions as non-Catholics. The only physicality left is the horrible introduction of shaking hands with everyone – that became “The” Sacrament – the pseudo-socialising shaking of hands. The Sacrifice of the Mass itself is shortened and disappears as we all eagerly await our “Bread” and “Wine” at the Meal (God forbid that we call it the Sacrificed Victim in case we offend anyone). The greatest event in the whole Universe since the beginning of time – Christ’s death and resurrection is rushed through – forgotten in the rush to get my little “piece of Bread”!! Rationalism brought this about by theologians selecting only the words of Consecration to make a Mass valid, but forgetting that the ancient Mass is a whole seemless robe made over centuries of guidance by the Holy Ghost stretching over centuries. And all the other sacraments have been reduced to symbols, not theologically (God forbid that we forget the Catechism) but practically. All the “old” rituals and prayers thrown away as signs of “superstition” and not “with it” in the “modern” church. Words and phrases of the past both in Scripture, the Psalms and the spoken ritual are replaced by ambigous, optimistic, inoffensive expressions covering-up any sense of the depth of sin, the devil, evil, tempation, death, judgment and heaven and hell.

One’s reception of the external graces given to us at Mass are limited to the dispositions of the receiver. If the Mass is reduced to common, secular, cultural expressions then the dispositions to receive grace are lessened. In the traditional Mass, especially sung and chanted in Gregorian modes, together with the full ornate cermonial creates a heavenly hierarchical world in total contrast to the secular mind. The old rite opens up heavenly dispositions in which to receive the inner graces of the Eucharist. Furthermore, the old rite emphasised the Sacrifice of Christ immediate to our senses requiring us to join that sacrifice with our hearts and souls, thus inspiring souls to become saints. The new rite is uninspiring at all levels and thus the call to the sacrifice to become a saint is seriously lessened.

The center of authority – the Vatican – is now run by the “gay mafia” and cultural Marxists who cleverly avoid making any “infallible” pronouncements, but hint at superficial heretical ideas repetitively in such a way as to make them seem authentic, accepted by all under the mistaken belief in the absolute authority of the Pope when he speaks about anything at all! And to top it all off, 99% of the bishops run scared of rocking the boat under a culture of obedience, joined at the hip with the rest of the world obediently bowing to the great global rulers, media and its advisers.

The only channels of God’s grace are now exterior to man: the left-over crumbs of the virtues taught us by Christendom: “gentleness”, “decency”, “fairness”, being “kind to others”, virtues which only survive within the context of Christianity. Take Christianity away and those virtues will gradually die away because, men being men, fall to the lowest level, without the practice and reminder of God’s love for us all. And Christians are dying out. They are contracepting themselves out of existence, and given in to modernity, and pick and choose convenient beliefs which support their life style. Going to Mass is a social and emotional occasion, a life-style choice only, in opposition to any expression of the Sacrifice of the Victim, God on the Cross, perpetually dying for their sins.

PART SIX

So, we now have a global pandemic and an economic crisis. The Tower of Babel will not fall though. The powers that be will just become more incompetent to handle either the pandemic or the social-economic breakdown. People will not become more religious, and not even more pagan. At least the ancient pagans had a deep sense of piety and channels through which God could exteriorly generate goodness, truth and beauty. Even the barbarians had piety. Not our coming barbarians, for despite the veneer of global civilisation there will appear a fundamental cruelty following the withdrawal of God’s grace from the world, a cruelty not seen before, not by the State, but by individual cruelty engendered by total selfishness. Our present totalitarian controllers will still remain the efficiency experts, but who have no idea and no understanding, not even an ideology to justify their actions nor understand the growing cruelty of the general population. And they will be incompetent and rightly ignored by the masses, and the weakest – the average mum, dad, and kids – will suffer horribly, caught between the barbarians let loose at the front fence and the demands of the employer, the government and the banks at the mortgaged door.

Where will our children’s children learn: “fairness?” “decency?” “being kind to others?” without channels of God’s grace, destroyed by total secularised culture with its Christian roots fully destroyed?

Urgent missive from Screwtape – Easter, 2019

My scrumptious Dark Flower,

I have had an urgent howl from Our Father Below, seeking the ones to blame for the recent unfortunate events over the past few months. I have traced the events to you, Dark Flower and your team.

We have been winning. Winning this great battle against the Enemy over the past few years. Hate, envy, lust, and confusion have spread like wildfire through the earth. Just look at our recent victories: we have made those horrid creatures of the Enemy substitute politics for religious belief. And then we have made politics a weapon of hate. The Russian Trump conspiracy is making Americans angry and hateful of each other; the Brexit issue is destroying the peace of England; the Gilets Jaunes issue is destroying France; the antifa and anti-immigration movements in Europe are dividing all into little pockets of hate. We even have power over the leaders of the main Christian churches: they all have interpreted the message the Enemy gave them into political and social issues. We even have a leader in the Vatican announcing that 2 + 2 could equal 5. Oh, what a victory for our team: relativism at its best.

What great victories for Our Father Below.

We have spent over 200 years convincing these miserable creatures that we do not exist, just to spite the Enemy and make all believe that we and all spiritual things are superstitious. We have made them all materialistic: all fixated on sex, gender, medicine, health, consumer spending, global warming, democratic elections, sport, and science : all filling their minds with nothing so that we may show them real suffering Nothing when they die.

And here we have you lot, impatiently desecrating and firing a few churches in Europe, which no-one noticed at the time. Other teams have tempted the destruction of Nigerian churches. We kept the media and the police quiet. But one of you, just to be smart, tempted a workman in Notre Dame to make a small accidental error in the cleaning up of the tower one night.

And what a time of the year to choose! Just when many lukewarm Catholics were slightly warming up their religious beliefs about hope, about the horrible victory our Enemy made over Our Father Below, your team made the world realize that such an event was about to be remembered. You all could have waited until later in the year.

The damage to our cause is terrible: we have those ugly creatures of the Enemy praying publicly on TV – and they are young! It would have been better if they were a bunch of old people, but no, they are young. That image on TV gave people the idea that religion is for the young and the future. Cannot you see the damage such a stupid temptation has caused. And we have the atheists falling over themselves to make repairs to our Enemy’s building.

And what is more it has revealed to many that the churches of France, our great atheist country, is ruled by atheists. People will now start asking questions about religion, a subject we do not want to be discussed, unless it is of course about corrupt priests and bishops.

And then again your team, attack the churches in Sri Lanka this Sunday. We have tried for years now to teach our marks, that other religions are “religions of peace” – non-moralistic, alternatives to the Enemy. And what do you do? Again draw attention to Christian persecution. Our Father Below is very, very angry.

This great accident has made people sympathetic and nostalgic about religion. What a great victory for Our Enemy.

Now it is imperative that you and your team get a so-called pious Catholic to retaliate by desecrating or burning another religion’s building. That will be hard: better to get some white right-wing extremist of no religious belief do it. He will already be in our camp, but Christians will be blamed.

And we must make the issue of the spire of Notre Dame a hateful debate making all forget about religion and concentrate on architecture. If one of you can get a truly ugly spire accepted then lots of damage to our Enemy will be done.

Remember, I am waiting for immediate results and I am getting hungry for a soul to devour.

Yours voraciously,

Screwtape.

The True Story of Fatima

The Three Children of Fatima

The Lady in the Light

by the Rev Father John De Marchi, IMC

1952.

Re-published by Patrimonium Publishing, 2016

[Download Kindle version: truestoryoffatima – a ‘mobi zip file’]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Lucia, Francesco, Jacinta and the Marto Family

The Three Angelic Visitations

First Appearance of Our Lady

Second Appearance of Our Lady

Third Appearance of Our Lady

The Three Children Imprisoned

Fourth Appearance of Our Lady

Fifth Appearance of Our Lady

The Children Examined

Portugal Assembles for a Miracle

Sixth Appearance of Our Lady

The Miracle of the Sun

The Children Examined Again

The Cost of Heaven: Vandalism, Mockery and Persecution

The Chapel

The Cost of Heaven: Francisco’s Offering

The Cost of Heaven: Jacinta’s Offering

The Cost of Heaven: Lucia’s Offering

The First Pilgrimage Statue and Official Persecution

The Chapel Bombed

Miracles

Lucia – a Dorothean Nun

Official Recognition by the Catholic Hierarchy

APPENDIX

I – Letter of Dr Mendes, September 1917

II – Masonic Notice

III – Letter from Lucia, July 1927

IV – The Secret of Fatima

V – Papal Consecration of Russia, July 1952

VI – Analysis of Miracle of Sun

VII – Lucia’s First Communion

VIII – The Seventh Apparition

IX – Erroneous Version of Events

X – The “Unknown Light” – the Extraordinary Aurora of 1938

XI – Father Ferreira’s Defence

XII – The First and Second Secrets

XIII – The Third Secret

The Fall of Mankind

Our First Ancestors – Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve – our first ancestors, generators of all mankind, the pair, wonders of the Universe!

We cannot understand ourselves without knowing our nature, and we cannot know our nature as human beings without knowing our genesis. We are all children of Adam and Eve. We carry within ourselves their nature. They generate to us through time what it is to be a human being.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.”

And it was so.

The Image of God
Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. Not just an animal, a living, breathing thing – but in the image of God: a self-conscious, self-reflective being, a being capable of understanding truth, free to choose among the good things presented to him. Being an animal, transmission of reality is borne through the senses, but being in the image of God, their intellects are in union with the essence of all things sensed. Fundamentally truth-seekers, knowers of the Universe of things. Their intellects go out to all things and unite with them. That is what we are made for: to know truth, to know God, to know what is good, what is the higher good and the lower good and to choose from them.

A little like angels. But angels see the essence of things directly; Adam and Eve indirectly through his senses. Angels live outside of time; but our parents live and us within time.

In the Image of God, Adam and Eve were created with an inbuilt need to direct each everyday act towards God – to love and serve God. The intellect of Adam and Eve demands that they know the Truth – God Himself. Their wills demand that they will, love, and desire, heart and soul, God Himself: that Adam and Eve need the full vision of God to be completely happy and fulfilled as a person.

The fundamental relationship between Man and God is an absolute ingredient, essential to the whole nature of what it is to be a Man. Man is created as a being, a thing, which needs to be in a total relationship with God – a marriage, if you will. Just as the soul and body are constituents of a human being – marriage partners – so also is it necessary, for man to be wholly man, for man to be with God.

This of course means that after the Fall there is no such thing as a fully natural Man. A truly constituent Man is one with God. Without God Man falls apart and becomes disintegrated.

So, they were given great gifts in order to fulfil Man’s nature: God gave them the special gifts of Himself. Firstly, God gave the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of God in their hearts, souls and to the very depths of their being.

Secondly, God gave them the gift of infused knowledge of God and nature – angelic knowledge. They had no limitations to their knowledge of things. Their intellects were clear, super-intelligent, knowing the inner essence of each thing directly without analysis – infused knowledge. Thus they knew God, knowing God not just through the senses but by infused knowledge. God talked to them directly. There was no doubt in them as to whom they were with. No doubt either in them over their closeness to God.

Infused knowledge meant that Adam knew an animal or plant in its very essence, as an angel knows. This means that Adam knew not only the parts of things by sense observation, but also, the whole inner essence directly. Each and every cause of each thing. Adam really knew – became one with everything. Adam could sense each animal and plant in depth.

Thirdly, they were given the gifts of immortality and impassability. Adam was immortal. Death had no claim on him. So, although other living creatures died, Adam enjoyed the fruits of immortality – no disease, no weakness, no anguish, no fear, no clashing instincts, no unruly desires, no shame. The gift of impassability meant that Adam could not suffer any injury – nothing could pass into him. Therefore, heaven was present on earth.

Adam and Eve were truly innocent. They experienced no shame, no remorse, no lack of control over their bodies. What they willed to do they did. No unruly passions. Their passions matched the demands of reason and will. They were like children, totally trusting in God.

All these gifts made Adam and Eve the perfect human beings – the Lord and Lady of the Universe!! Lordship over all the material world. With Lordship came real Power.

The Rule and Power of Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were created as the center of the Universe: the link between the material universe and the world of spirits. This means they were given the rule, as Lord and Master of the material Universe: which means the earth is the centre of the material Universe. Regardless of one’s ideas of galaxies and theories of the expanding universe: the earth, Adam and Eve’s progeny, are the Lords of all the worlds in time and space. There are no “aliens”. No matter how far we explore the material universe, we will find no other living things, which do not come under the rule of Adam.

Adam and Eve are given the right and the power to rule over all living things.

“Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.”

Adam and Eve, before the Fall, had real, effective power over all living things. This means that they had the summation of all the instincts of the animal world – as Lord and Lady. They knew living things in a depth greater than any scientist, not only how they lived but also they had the power to control them. For instance, we, even today, observe animals’ awareness of the subtle changes to the environment, to atmosphere, to evil events, to threats, etc. Adam and Eve could control animals by their very presence, their knowingness of them. At the very beginning, Adam named the animals and by virtue of naming them became their Lord.

Indeed, the lion and lamb could sleep at his side. No animal would worry them. Adam and Eve were actually the mightiest – the most powerful and knowledgeable of all of mankind who have ever lived on earth!

How small, ignorant and ignoble we have become!

The Unselfconscious Adam and Eve

Because of all these gifts of God to Adam and Eve, there was no need for them to analyse reality. Reality was a given. There was no “science”, no Adamic “investigation” into reality. No self-consciousness examination of cause and effect. No questioning of reality.

So, if we could see Adam and Eve then, we would be stunned and shamed at a sight of such truly magnificent creatures: a presence emanating from them that would stun us with our own lowness. We would bow down to the ground in their presence: the King and Queen of Humanity.

And they would be shocked at the existence of us miserable examples of humanity.


The Fall

The Fall of Adam and Eve is the first of the two greatest event in the history of mankind. It is not to be put aside by supposed scientific examination. The event cannot be examined neither by science nor historical research. But the Fall is absolutely evident in our own natures: we know that something has gone wrong!

What went wrong was the Fall!

Adam and Eve rejected walking and living with God. They chose to become as gods – to seek knowledge, knowledge of good and evil, to examine “why?” and “why not?” The temptation was to disobey God in order to know “what if?” To become as gods meant for Adam and Eve to stand back from themselves and to try seeing alternative options, one option being to take and eat the apple.

The evil entered them before eating the apple – the choice was already made: to be as gods. The serpent, Satan, assisted the process, by giving them the option.

To disobey God meant rejecting all the gifts. To choose to be gods was to choose the pride of life: this garden is mine; this knowledge I have been given is mine; I own it all. This all is mine. The great decision to stand apart from God created a division in Man’s nature: fundamentally he will now become “unnatural”!

In an instant Adam and Eve lost the gifts: they lost the indwelling of God in their hearts in rejecting God. They turned from the love of God and in doing so rejected His gifts.

They lost the gift of infused knowledge – knowledge now would have to be worked out through analysis, deduction, abstraction. But they would have retained the memory of all that they previously knew. Thus there would now be a degenerating knowledge of Man about Nature as time progressed.

They lost the gift of immortality and impassability. They would die. They could be injured.

And the consequence of mortality is that heaven is lost. No man nor women would enter heaven. The very nature of Man is to be in the Image of God. Our nature is to live forever with God as physical beings in paradise. Death is the result of the disjoint reality of Man divorced from God. The afterlife would now be a place without the presence of God. Death and an afterlife without God are totally Unnatural to Man. Hell, Hades, Sheol, are all terms describing the “unnatural” end of Man’s life. Every man feels this loss, this challenge of Death – the loss of one’s body – totally depressing, and an end where one’s soul is divorced from the body to wander in the shades for eternity.

And they lost their innocence. They knew shame. Suddenly both Adam and Eve were aware of their lack of control over their bodies: the flesh warring against the soul. Only the Love of God indwelling in them could keep their being integrated. Without that indwelling of God the will is at war with the body. What they will not to do, they do; what they will to do they do not! Lust in all its aspects – thirsting for sex, power, possessions – is at war with their wills. The sexual passions run riot through their bodies – their bodies visibly demanding satisfaction. All a great visible shame. Their bodies had to be covered.

Personal sin now enters the life of every man: not only the Original Divorce from Heaven brought about by the transmission of Adam to his progeny, but also the prideful rebellion of each man’s heart against God: the aggregation of little to big transgressions of the will against what is good, and each one’s willingness against Nature, God and His goodness demanding Just deserts.

They lost also their Lordship of the visible World: now dominated by disunity and discord, death and disease. Satan now becomes the Prince of this world, rather than Adam and Eve in unity with the Holy Angels in Heaven. Nature is now divorced from mankind. Animals will now bite and threaten. Even the very course of the stars and planets and interaction with the earth now are out of kilter. The harmony of the earth and the universe is now disrupted by earthquakes, and violent storms from which we would have been protected. The Nature of the Material Universe now heads downwards.

The biological decay of the Universe affects us right down to the microscopic core: viruses multiply; cell divisions cease without reason; or cancerously multiply; and cells start dying without known biological triggers. The Lord of the Garden of Eden, is exiled into a world of dying and death.

The Effect on Mankind and History
From now on all men inherit all the inabilities, the disjointedness, the lack of integrity, of Adam and Eve. Man is disjoint with the Universe and Nature. Man is now fully open to all the snares Satan and his minions lay before such weaklings! There is no Progress now, but a Great Fall Down through Time of Mankind. Knowledge of God slowly weakens until, as thousands of years go by, man even questions the existence of God. Knowledge of spiritual realities becomes muddied, superstition grows, scepticism grows, and the universal feeling of alienation becomes the ground of people’s existence. Hopeless.

Since we all have to suffer the discomforts of tiredness, ignorance, disease and eventually die, technology and religion now become the marks of mankind on earth. Technology – the making of things, of wheels, of fire, of an infinite variety of implements, of roads and cities, means of transport. All to lessen the impact of approaching death, to mark time! to make some kind of contentment until death.

Religions are founded to assuage the onset of misfortune on earth and to ease the prospect of death. All die knowing there will be reward and punishment for the unavoidable evils we cause in our lives. Justice hangs like a sword above our heads. Death and the afterlife threaten. Mankind sacrifices to the gods to make up for the underlying evil in our hearts.

Mankind progresses in technology, while trying to avoid the inevitable. And the progress of technology, the ever-growing complexities of social, political and economic global life, cushions Mankind from the inevitable, and indeed makes Man even forget the inevitable, until Man turns his back on Death, pretends that it does not exist, or has little import.

And Nature? Nature falls with Man. Over time all the species of the earth will gradually die away. The Gardener has lost his way.

The Future
Without the grace of God, Mankind will make greater and greater civilisations, exceedingly complex, world-binding, soul-binding. Mankind will become as little spoilt children teased with the promise of endless pleasures, and obedient to vindictive Masters given over to the Prince of this World.

That Horrible Word, “Sin”

The Modern world spurns this word. All sorts of evil connotations arise at its very mention: guilt, psychological assessment, right-wing fundamentalism, hypocrisy, etc.

So, let us start once again at the beginning:

All things are good. Everything made is good, according to their natures: the atom, the stars, the planets, all living things, even earthquakes and tidal waves – all being true to the nature, the pull of things to be as they are. Everything which exists is good for the fact of existing is good – the very wonder of being here, now, it is. All is good.

But things decay, die, cease to be. And things change and become other things which themselves are good. Nothing in the physical world of nature is forever: galaxies may form and expand to gaseous nothingness, suns die and become black holes, plants and animals die and create other forms of living matter. It is good that things fulfil their natures. All things move towards their ends, pulled to join with other things. There is a universal gravity of all things to become. Yet, none becomes perfect. That is the nature of things.

Man is a living thing. Man has a nature, a nature to fulfil as a living being but also as a knowing, willing thing. A man thirsts to know the natures of things. A man hungers to be fulfilled as a person. But as a person he cannot be fulfilled without his heart and mind completely in unity with a reality beyond the limit of his own imagination. He seeks happiness, but which cannot be found unless his mind and heart are at one with truth greater than the present, and with and in a loving personal relationship which never dies.

So, on the one hand, man is good, and to fulfil his nature he must not only fulfil the demands of physical existence, but also the seemingly unreachable happiness of his mind dwelling in and attaining truth, and his heart’s true desire to be in love forever.

Anything which leads him to the fulfilling of his nature is good. All things are good. All things can lead him to fulfilling his nature.

But Man is a willing thing. Man has the ability to choose among an endless array of objects, things, events, etc., in order to attain his end: being a living thing and gaining possession of the truth and fulfilment of his person – unity with personal goodness.

Choices are to be made: what will this choice lead to? One thing may lead to death. I die if I take this poison; I live and continue living if I don’t, yet the poison may not kill me, but cure me of a sickness. The poison is good but bad in some circumstances. In one circumstance to choose poison is to choose a lower good – nice-tasting drink, satisfying, but deadly in one amount; or life-giving in another amount. The best choice is one that leads to the higher good.

All choices are between a higher good and a lower good. We make mistakes in choosing between goods. We do not always know the full nature of a thing or act, and so we act against our natures in ignorance. We lack the full truth of nature. Or, we deliberately choose the lower good for purely selfish reasons: we choose to continue watching TV rather than help wash the dishes: both of which are goods, but one good is higher than the other.

To choose the lower good is to go against our own nature, which is to reject the end for which our mind and heart yearns for. To choose to continue watching TV instead of helping wash  the dishes is to prefer one small satisfaction of our desire to making wholesome the order of the household, social harmony, family peace, these latter being helpful in our living on earth and ordering our habits towards the goal of being in unity with total goodness.

This little choice of the lower good strikes against our end. It strikes at the heart of what we are to be. Animals do not do that! Every person on earth does do that: choose lower goods and not goodness! That is what is called “sinfulness”. These choices deny our natures. We raise our fist at our own nature. Actually, we have raised our fist against the whole universe: the universe of things do not do what we do –  all other things obey their own natures. We don’t.

Yes, I know, one will say, we are not perfect. We are not perfect as living things because we cannot always choose to stay alive or to grow physically. But we all have used our very freedom, the very noble, dignified ability to choose, as a means to undermine nature: our nature. This habit of Man is bad!

There are even worse choices – to choose things which attack another’s nature and at the same time our own: to give in to anger, lust, envy, sloth, greed, and do murder, theft, and adultery to appease our prideful desires. Not only are we, of all things in the universe, oriented to weakness in choosing goodness, but also we do great harm to others as well as ourselves.

We choose also to ignore this state of being Man, and deny that things are good, that reality is a wonderful thing, full of things, of being, of goodness, of truth. We choose to deny that we have a nature pointed to goodness. We deny that there is any real goodness, that it is all a man-made subjective reality. Yet, we are really cowards at heart, because we do not act on these denials: we want goodness of ourselves, we see the goodness of others, we hope for goodness, we thirst to be loved, to love others, and we thirst for the truth about nature. And all to avoid guilt: the guilt which comes from actually seeing the nature of ourselves, our true end, and our failure to reach for it. We shake our fist but only the truly insane act on that total denial.

And guilt is bad. Yep. Guilt implies punishment. There is a deep-seated understanding in us all that some kind of justice exists. We certainly are not slow to demand justice when it does not concern the faults of ourselves: we can easily become social justice warriors, or religious fundamentalists accusing the unfaithful. Our sense of justice is of course true. The demands of Justice means punishment: good shall be rewarded and evil punished – the heart of all morality, the basis of order in society.

How to escape this quandary? The quandary? Avoiding the implications of being a human being and guilt, yet not wanting justice to fall on ourselves?

Our hearts need healing. We need to be loved out of ourselves. We need to touch true love, to really feel and to really know that we are loved despite of ourselves. We need to be shown mercy. We need to see and to know goodness physically – no airy-fairy intangible goodness. We need our minds, and our thoughts to be enlightened in the darkness of our hearts – for our hearts will cover up truth so quickly to prevent the light! And only something acting outside of ourselves yet inside ourselves in our hiddenness can heal us. Our poor, poor, frightened, wounded hearts!!

Now, let us cut to the chase!

All the above is not new. Every man since time began has faced this problem. Every wise man has commented on it – the problem of sin, guilt and justice. From the beginning of time cultures, societies, have all tried to solve the problem. The solution is obvious: religious belief. That there is goodness itself, that man has to face up to that goodness, that there is ultimately goodness and justice. That goodness will be rewarded and evil ultimately be punished. That sin, guilt and punishment are with us, unavoidable.

You cannot avoid the problem by skirting around it by claiming it is all a social or political issue, pure evolutionary constructs of society. Why? because one has to make choices between what kind of society or political system will suit your own concepts of goodness. You will be forced back to one of two choices: either it is all subjective – any goodness system I choose is purely for here and now; or governed by an objective observation of nature and man.

The Nazi, the Pol Pot, Hannibal Lector, or the saintly: nothing to choose between them. Evolution depends on the word “fittest for survival” – note the word “fittest”, and “survival”. Why should one accept either word, unless one had already made a judgement about nature having laws, about survival being a good! If nature has laws written into itself then so has man.

Either there a reality in the words “goodness” or there is nothing good nor evil, but my thinking makes it so. No-one really acts on the latter option. It is unsustainable. And so  we are left to religious solutions.

Note please, that this whole essay does not mention God. Well … it does. The word, goodness derives from the word, God. I know it hurts, but once one realises one cannot escape the reality of goodness one cannot escape the reality of Godness. And why does it hurt? Because we are guilty! We cannot escape guilt, because we cannot escape sin.

Could goodness itself be so real and physical to touch us and reach into us and heal our wounded hearts? Could goodness be true, straight up front, clear, absolute “mano e mano”, man to man? Could goodness speak and say “I love you, I who made you, forgive you for offending against the very nature I gave you.” Could goodness instead of punishing us reward us for sinning by saying “I will give you your very heart’s desire: pure love physically forever and ever.

The Afterlife: Heaven, Hell or other?

Our Modern Age seems to have a very vague sense of the afterlife: most of us definitely do not want to even think about it. When we do, it is when someone close to us dies, a friend dies, a child dies … and we hear vague statements about the deceased somehow in some way surviving in some kind of afterlife.

It doesn’t really matter that we see ourselves as atheists, but more probably, agnostics – God doesn’t come into it. We still have this “hope” that something of ourselves survives death: as a soul, as a bird, as a star, part of a rainbow, a something more than a memory, a sort of angel or fairy thingey.

Those intimations are indeed from the vast store of mankind’s beliefs since time began! Every race, religion, tribe, clan, kingdom, civilisation, believed in some kind of afterlife, even the caveman. One of the oldest remains of the most ancient grave sites of pre-historic man had grave goods as part of his and her burial – goods to accompany the dead on their journey to the afterlife.

There are common strands in mankind’s beliefs about the afterlife: a place of punishment and reward, a land of shadows, where there is some connexion between the living and the dead, some kind of journey takes place, and there is final destination determined by one’s actions while alive.

This place of the afterlife is called by many names: Hades to the Greeks and Romans, Sheol to the Jews, and the names of the various “heavens” and “hells” in Buddhism and Hinduism, “happy hunting grounds” of the North American Indians, the home of the ancestors in very many cultures, etc. In both China and Japan there is a very deep connexion between the ancestors and one’s family. Traditional beliefs entailed the idea that there remains some kind of real connexion between the living and the dead.

As an aside here: Buddhism has become an alternative belief for many non-religious Moderns – quiet meditation, a take-it-or-leave-it disciplined way of life, a set of non-threatening moral commands, and an end in eternal bliss. Yet how disturbing it is to see paintings in Thailand of the tortures in the Buddhist Hell – the absolute horrors of the damned – those who break the traditional natural laws common to mankind. And then to look back and examine the very real strictures of traditional Buddhism in contrast to the cafeteria Buddhism of Moderns.

Together with these common traditional beliefs about the afterlife, is the common need by the traditional bereaved to help the dead on their journey by prayers and grave gifts for sustenance for the trip. Traditional rituals also made the very necessary sacrifice of an animal or precious thing to mollify the spirits in charge of the departed.

It is natural to mankind to believe in an afterlife of some kind. Modern confusion comes from the decline of Christianity in the Western world, the separation of modern people from their traditional cultures which gave a secure understanding of death and the afterlife, and the growth of religious agnosticism, which has cast modern man adrift at the very time in his life when he confronts the “fact” of death.

What happens is that the death event calls up one’s own standing to one’s religious beliefs – guilt generally – a determined running away from anything resembling “superstition” (after all, we are progressive, scientific people), but then the need also to handle the huge impact death has on our lives.

After all, the fact of death is the most confronting, truly terrible event in our lives. There is no avoiding the fact. This fear of “nothingness” or the fear of the totally unknown experience or the fear of losing one’s body is truly a terrible event. Even to those who believe in an afterlife: death is the tearing of one’s body away from the person. “I, the me, the identity, may indeed survive, but there is no way that whatever comes next, will ever be the same, without my body, the physical expression of what makes me a human being!” Such grief there is in the prospect of one’s own death or that of a loved one. One will never be in that experienced relationship ever … ever again. What a loss!

“Heaven”?
And so, we mix up a whole vague set of ideas to make us comfortable. Some vague sense of Heaven is mentioned. We need to feel that our loved one is happy in some way, and so we talk about “heaven”. But what or where is “heaven”.

Traditional non-Christian heaven is totally unlike Christian heaven. The trouble is that modern man mixes up the bits of the Christian heaven with bits of the old heavens of the past. So, lets get things straightened out!

Yes, indeed, in the non-Christian traditional heaven,a good person who dies, an innocent child who dies, may indeed go to a place of happiness – a happiness of light and beauty, a gentle refreshment of “heart” and soul. The person is rewarded by the demands of justice riding through the universe that good shall be rewarded and evil punished. There is no escaping the demands of justice, otherwise life on earth is totally meaningless: anyone can do anything evil they like and get away with it at death! Those agnostics who thirst for justice in the modern progressive thrust of political debate, who are the first to speak out about the obvious injustices of this world, must then by logic demand that justice be done, otherwise their words are just pointless! And so, nature demands justice! it is part of our DNA. If not in this life then in the next, Justice will come: the good are rewarded and the evil are punished.

Justice demands punishment, the “law of Karma” or the Natural Law, or the “Tao” of the East, is written in our conscience, governs the universe, nature demands reward and punishment. Those who need punishment are sent further “down” the levels of a Hades or Sheol; those who are the just are sent further “up”.

Where does the idea of forgiveness, and softness regarding death?

We all fail by the demands of Justice. The traditional “heaven” looks to be filled only with the souls of the very young and the souls of the few “just” men and women.

And so, we mix in Christian belief in the forgiveness of sins (from out of thin air!), and the old traditional belief of heaven, leaving a vague sense of everything being all right after all – no need for sorrow except for the personal loss of relationship, and a vague hope that we will see or be with our loved one again in some way or another.

The Christian heaven is totally beyond such naturalistic traditional beliefs. The Christian belief is that we are called to be perfect, to be with God Himself, to become God-like, to share the vision of the intensity of the love of Almighty God, God about Whom it is said: “To see God is to die!” – a vision so beyond imagining. More frightening than Death itself! More frightening if not for Love itself. If we are not perfect and full of Love when we die, we, if willing, will be made lovingly perfect – a very, very painful but loving process for most of us. And finally, we will have our bodies back, glorified, “super-bodies” physically and joyfully, ecstatically, in touch with our loving families, and friends.

The Christian heaven is nothing like the traditional belief in some “heavenly” after-life. No place of relative peace and happiness, of those demeaning images of playing harps, but a thrusting into a full personal facing-up to and with God Himself. And the so-called “forgiveness of sins” that we so magically call up to comfort us at the thought of death, comes at a price! Justice dying at the hands of Injustice for Mercy’s sake: a price we are all called to pay.

So, us Moderns scramble around avoiding the confrontation which death brings concomitant with religious belief. We end up “celebrating” the life of the deceased, but not giving them what they may desperately need – prayers to help them on their way. To pray for them and to make sacrifices, would entail belief in some kind of invisible authority above us. Even many Christian funeral rituals have mainly succumbed to the modern need to celebrate a life rather than to mollify the guardians of the souls.

To avoid such religious complications, we mix in a little reincarnation here or a little New Age Spiritualism here: the deceased becomes a bird, a fairy, a sparkling thought, and maybe even a little angel. But real connexion? We avoid the very real connexion with the deceased soul, spirit, a real being – good or bad – who we may pray to (to talk entreatingly with), who may pray for us, may hear our prayers, and may silently be present in our daily lives. Traditional beliefs firm up these connexions.

But we Moderns honour them with a photo as a reminder to ourselves, but avoid their presence in our continuing lives just at the time when we most desperately need them, in case that entails the supposed “silliness” of ghosts, goblins, and “spirits”.

For all others, except us Moderns, the whole event of death and the process afterwards is accompanied with age-old ritual which encompasses the whole nature of man and the very general sensible beliefs about the afterlife and death. It is still of great comfort to the dead to visit the grave site and lay flowers, gifts of life, not just as a memory, but a real reaching out to the dead – “I am here, dear. I am with you. Pray for me.”

And so sad this all is – this Modernity, this creeping atheism, a world of nothingness, of nothing good nor evil. If the traditional belief in an afterlife is true – that there is some real justice in the Universe; that there is some final meaning somewhere – then many of us Moderns who die are drastically missing out on the prayers and the sacrifices which are needed to accompany us and to sustain us after death.

Thankfully there are many still who offer those prayers and sacrifices for us all, including the Moderns.

Gabriel, the Archangel

To my Grandson, Gabriel.

Your patron saint is Gabriel, the Archangel. An angel.

Angels are spiritual beings created out of nothing at the beginning of all things. They exist outside of time and space: that is, they have no visible bodies (but they act on the material universe); and they do not conceive of time, but measure time by their actions.

An angel sees time like a unity of actions, liking striking a chord on a guitar: all the different actions of an angel play different notes from the six strings, so its actions are simultaneous but have different notes at different times for it, but one time for us.

How important are angels? Why were they made? To govern the whole universe! Every motion and action is under their authority. Every organised body of things – from the humble molecule to the greatest galaxy – comes under the direction of movement by an angel. The direction of animals, plants, weather, and our emotions – all are subject to movement. God, therefore, governs the whole visible and invisible universe through a hierarchy of beings, including mankind.

Each angel is totally distinct from any another angel. Each angel is its own thing – they are not a species. They are each like an individual star or gem, with its own individual character and unique power and authority.

Gabriel is an Archangel and is at the very top of this order of beings: he is, with the Seraphim and Cherubim, with Michael and Raphael. Gabriel has his own powers totally distinctly different. Gabriel is the strength of God. That means he brings to the universe – all of it! – the strength of God. In other words, he orders the lower angels, and his orders pass on to the even lower angels who in turn order the lowliest little angel.

Gabriel is your Patron. A Patron is an authority who oversees an area, or a body, or a person. Each body of matter, or each body of organisation has an angel patron. The earth has a Patron Angel, Australia has a Patron Angel, Sydney has a Patron Angel, your school has a Patron Angel, your family has a Patron Angel, you have a Patron Angel, called your guardian angel. But you are named Gabriel, so you have a special relationship with Gabriel himself as well as your assigned guardian angel.

When you ask Gabriel for help, you are calling on the special strength of God. Gabriel will ask Jesus, Our Lord, for special graces to help you. And after awhile you will take on the character of Gabriel himself, because as we enter into a loving relationship with someone we grow in likeness to them – we take on their character as well. So, praying for Gabriel’s help will help you grow in his likeness – strong in service to God.

Now, we call Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, Holy Archangels. Holy Gabriel or Saint Gabriel. Most of the angels are indeed holy, that is, full of God’s holiness, full of grace, of love, full of the Holy Spirit of God Himself. The word, “holy”, is related to wholeness, wholesomeness, being whole, integrated, at one with God. Perfectly aligned to God’s will. That is what a Saint is: perfectly aligned to God, full of God. So, when you pray for Saint Gabriel’s help you are also asking to become whole and to become perfectly aligned with God.

Heaven is full of all the Ones who are Holy: the Blessed Trinity of the Father, the Son – Jesus Christ – visibly complete in His body, and the Holy Spirit; and the Blessed Virgin Mary, visibly complete in her body; and the Holy Angels; and the Holy Souls of all the men and women who have died in the Love of God. Heaven is where we aim to be: and Holy Gabriel will help you get there.

The Incredibles and The Resurrection

Recently, I took the guilty opportunity to watch The Incredibles replayed on TV, while my wife and daughter were watching British drama on the main TV. I had been informed in the past that The Incredibles was a good film, but then again I have been so disapppointed by recommendations of contemporary animated films: their obvious moral relativism, their rude, tawdry preoccupation with adult issues disguised as childishness, rather than childlike innocence; their political ideologies, etc. They are cleverly constructed, and only very mildly amusing. In fact, I had given up going to any film on release, relying on the video release, so I can fast-forward through the graphic sex and violence and perhaps, just perhaps, enjoy what may be a really interesting story.

Well, The Incredibles took me by surprise. I was enchanted and experienced some joy, like the little boy on the tricycle at the end of the film, who expresses great delight at the final display of superpowers by the ordinary family next door. Wonderful indeed. But why? After all, this was the second time in 15 years I had been really impressed by any cultural work.Fifteen years ago I accompanied my art history students on a tour of France and Italy. Unexpectedly, we were all more impressed by Giotto’s narratives in the Arena Chapel and Martini’s Annunciation panel in the Uffizi than all the Renaissance works put together. According to the learned, and I count myself included, we should have experienced the Renaissance works as superior, conveying the nature of the Catholic Faith more effectively through greater, more convincing naturalism. Instead, Giotto’s narratives and ornate Mediaeval altarpieces carried the day.

Last year, I retired from teaching, and we immigrated to Sydney, Australia, from little ol’ NZ (Kiwiland). We joined the Maternal Heart of Mary Traditional Catholic Mass FSSP Community at Lewisham in Sydney. After a month going to Solemn High Mass there, the same feeling washed over me – heartfelt joy and hope. I looked to my wife and there she was, in tears of happiness. We were both actually singing Latin Gregorian, among clouds of incense, the Elevation among pealing bells, candles, the profound bowing, the numerous genuflections, the veils and Medieval Latin hymns.

The Incredibles, Medieval Art and Traditional Solemn High Mass? I think I could throw into this mix the climax of Pride and Prejudice, and Frodo’s cry of “Elbereth, Githoniel” in Shelob’s lair.

I may hazard a guess about reactions to Giotto and Medieval Art – innocence, purity and especially humility – the Mystery of Faith, human and divine. The same with the Gregorian Solemn High Mass. There is profound gentleness and no sentimentality.

But why The Incredibles?

The little boy realises that there are indeed super bodies which only he could dream about in his wildest dreams. Yes, the goodies win, but what joy to behold “ordinary” people possessing what may in fact be a promise to us all, an expectation that we might break free from the limitations of physics. I think, Startrek fans share similar fantasies. But then all mankind share this dream: that if we could have our way, we would live forever as human beings with real bodies, to fly, to go where no man has gone before, to thrill with absolute bodily freedom free from the limitations of our world. I do not think we really want “spiritual”bodies – real, physical bodies is what we would prefer, thank you very much. The Greek and Germanic gods had such bodies, and I suppose, most other developed religions thought the same.

Human beings really do want to live forever. But then we want to be happy as well. Death sucks. The little boy, in The Incredibles, like the rest of us, has a sneaking suspicion that it all may be possible, and that is why we respond with him – yes, let me have one too. And the reason for our reticence in voicing our hope in this fantastic possibility – to live bodily forever – is that none has set us a scientifically-proved example of breaking the barriers of physical space and time.

But, one cannot have this gift unless one is prepared to accept the full truth of the Passion, the Sacrifice, the Cross and the will to join oneself with Him. So, we can enjoy the ecstatic vision of God by becoming God in His Flesh and Blood, hearts which become like the Sacred Heart which can stand the demands of love of the Vision of God Himself.

It is all physical, mate! Christianity is all about bodies. About the hope of having a body with a heart so big that Mr Incredible’s body size and self-sacrifice is nothing compared to Christ or what is demanded of us. Yep! Christianity is Incredible. It is incredible that any group of Jews or Gentiles 2000 years could have invented a set of promises which infinitely surpasses the rationalism and idealism of Greek philosophy, the promises of all other religions of the world, and answers and surpasses the hidden heartfelt desires and yearning of the whole of humanity.

The bold claim by Christians that Jesus Christ did exactly that – overcome with His body the limitations of time and space – has been attacked from every possible angle, by historians, by scholars, by scientific theorists, even by Christians themselves. In these years of the Post-Modern world, the very meaning of the terms of “The Resurrection” have been nuanced out of existence. We have people making claims that this event is no more than what a Buddhist or Hindu means about heaven – a state of perfection of the soul reaching the highest levels, and purified by good living. Or we have some Christians claiming that this Resurrection is a Resurrection “event” – a symbol of hope in goodness and hope in the future of some kind of “spiritual” perfection. A faith in having faith. A symbol of the need to have good feelings about each other, to be kind and nice to each other. We have replaced the physical meaning of the Resurrection with “finding ourselves”, “looking for the spirit inside ourselves”, closing our eyes and meditating, etc. All very “wishy-washy”, vague, insubstantial – nothing new here because human society has always had its “spiritual improvement” side-by-side with its “moral movements”. A Heaven with resurrected physical bodies has been replaced by a “state of goodness”, a “state of perfection”, a higher state of [here it comes….] “spirituality”. And with this “spiritualizing” of our hopes and dreams, the “Real Presence” becomes a “spiritual” presence of Christ – no wonder the tabernacles have been removed to the side altars!I don’t think the little boy in the film would jump up and down with these beliefs. These reductive beliefs about the Resurrection are joyless, washed-out, “mellowed”, “reflective”, self-absorbed, and certainly not physical. So, what is the content of Christian belief about the Resurrection and Heaven.

Christ had a real physical body after the Resurrection. Hundreds of Christians, not just the Apostles, saw, touched, ate, and drank with Him. He appeared at any time at any place. His Resurrected Bodily Presence was so powerful that Christianity became a religion based almost solely on the Apostles and others proclaiming His Resurrection, certainly not because he was a good, loving guy who died for our sins, and not because of his nice teachings. It was the physical fact of the Resurrection – the in-your-face physical fact.

Secondly, He promises that we all will have recognisably our own bodies, bodies which will live forever, perfect ageless bodies which will be able to do anything , not restricted to the must-therefore-be very “provisional” laws of this universe. We will be able to fly from one end of an endless universe to the other in no time.Thirdly, we have been promised the ecstatic vision of the Face of God – the Face that the cherubim and seraphim cover their eyes from, the Face that one glimpse would sear your eyeballs in their sockets, the glow of which would burn one’s flesh off one’s bones, the vision of Love which would make one’s heart leap out of one’s chest, and a vision which only God can endure. And all in the company of other physical gods and goddesses, physical princes and princesses of a physical heaven, in place and time (but not our time).

Now the big point – our hearts and minds cannot take the power of these promises. We cannot take the infinite on board just like that. To experience the infinite and eternal is for gods. This Revelation of Christ is that we can only enjoy these things of God Himself unless we become in our hearts and minds perfect like God Himself. Our hearts and minds, the very substance of what we are, has to grow in this world in order to embrace fully the possibilities of the next. Christ promises us this absolutely mind-boggling future – a future which will come anyway, a future which every human being born on this planet will experience. Some will have a bad experience of this future. Why? because they reject the very openness to the fundamental love required to enjoy the physicality of the new world – I imagine that they will live “point-bodies” circling within themselves forever. Others of us, may, we hope, become purified after death. This will be a very, very painful experience! An extreme heart-rending experience, which only the saints have experienced in this life. An experience where every unintegrated desire will be expunged by the fire of love. Only those who have fully experienced the sacrifice of the Cross will be able to enjoy these promises. Unlike the Muslims, the promise of a physical heaven demands a fundamental change in our very physical substance.

Fourthly, He gives us the physical nature of Himself in the Eucharist – the god-making power of His Body and Blood – the physical stuff of the future so that we can be the Incredibles for real! As soon as one starts to theologize, to rationalize, about this promise it is reduced. He – the Lord of the Universe, the Resurrection Himself – is “physically” present, localized, in the Tabernacle, in the Host, unlike any “spiritual” presence. The words of the early Church Fathers and John’s Gospel use Greek terms like “crunch” and “gnaw” on his bones. Those are not to be taken symbolically, or “spiritually”.

In conclusion, Giotto’s narratives convey the profound humility of Christ and a humility of what is required of us; the Medieval altarpieces convey the physical glory of the promises in the sheer physical substances of gold and fine detailed rendering of everything with such gentleness and quiet joy; the Traditional Solemn Mass conveys the same gentle, pure, humble, many-layered reality of the Promises. Here at these Masses in particular, the physical reality of the sheer mind-boggling Face of God and the Sacrifice necessary for us, is made present in the only way possible for us in this world. The modern Mass on the other hand is too nuanced, too vague, too obviously hand-made, too comfortable, and too “spiritual” – needing further instruction for the faithful to understand things which it cannot convey. The Incredibles convey the shared joy in the very possibility of the promises of Christ.

This day, August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary – taken physically to heaven, the first of mankind to experience heaven with a body. Mary, the most humble maiden, is now magnified in Heaven, she now physically sees her son’s physical Face to her physical face in his glory. She now sees us as we are now, hears our said prayers, is present where she wills to be, her will being totally united with her son’s will. Her intercessions for us are physically-present as a mother of her adopted sons and daughters. In our eating her son’s Body and Blood, we are more than her adopted sons and daughters – we are physically made her real sons and daughters. She has now become our real physical Mother.

Pray for us, Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.