X – Modernity – Where to from here?

There are many writers, poets and philosophers who bemoan the alienation of man in modern society – our becoming Zombies to Global Market Communism. Some proffer further progressive social and political action; some proffer exerting one’s freedom to express oneself; some sheer rebellion against the world.

But in everyday life what do we do? If we do not have any objective higher good to aim for: no flag-waving; no institutional markers; no cultural, religious or ethnic authorities to guide us, we assuage our passions. We get a job for fulfilment and above all money to stay alive; we find pleasure where and whenever we can find it: sex, music, friends, projects, drinking and drugs. And fill our lives with distractions – and this technologically-driven world of ours can supply an almost infinite variety of distractions. All is changeable, and solipsistic.

Now distractions are healthy if there is some objective truth, beauty, and goodness in them: that these past-times make the world a better place; but the modern world offers us no ideal, no end, nothing in its distractions to ennoble us, to uplift us – we instead become immersed in the void. Cultural Nihilism prevails.

We find some kind of stability in pairing-up, marriage if you will, and possibly, children and a family, which in itself creates a kind of higher good. The question then becomes: Does this state of being create a moral obligation above the demands of ever-changing passion? If so, then one has accepted the Old Order! If not, then the kind of love which had drawn us into a relationship is nothing but the temporary curse of passion. Or if the situation is never resolved – neither of us are really put to the test of the moral demands of the higher good – to sacrifice all of one’s self, total commitment to the pairing. We circle round the issue and avoid situations which put our commitment to the test.  In many cases there is this underlying unease, a sense of basic insecurity that it may all explode.

The Old Order treated the pairing of man and woman as higher than each individual. The two form a social bond with rights above the demands of each one; and subsequent duties to the higher good. Unbreakable, socially stable and the origin of all other private goods. Marriage was sacred. Individual passions must be subordinated to the good of the whole. And all of society then supported the bond.

The trouble with us ordinary people is that almost every kind of information, data, we receive – all the cultural, social, political, media data – is opposed to the very idea of stability, of accepting higher goods above the needs of the individual.
There are many crocodile tears shed for marriage and family breakdown but no real solution is proposed because any real solution would imply that the whole Liberal, Socialist, Capitalist agenda is a mirage!

At bottom is the great unease of an unexamined life. To dwell deeper into ourselves calls forth our demons. That is why silence is forbidden: we surround ourselves with noise and constant prattle, hubbub. And if we confront our demons, we fall: into drink, drugs, sex, anger, violence …

Pascal said: “Nothing is so insufferable to man as to be completely at rest, without passions, without business, without diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his forlornness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness. There will immediately arise from the depth of his heart weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, vexation, despair.”

One may, indeed, retort that this state of affairs is the same for all of us.

Yes indeed, but some of us know that we are living East of Eden, in this Vale of tears, which the Fall of Mankind has brought about.

Yes, the basis of lives is insecure, we were born to be uneasy.

Yes, we live distracted lives.

Yes, the demons are still there forming a gate around our hearts.

Yes, it is extremely difficult to control our passions.

Yes, to live a good life is a continual struggle.

But, some of us live in Christian Faith and Hope. We know that right under all – to the very depths of our hearts Goodness, Beauty, Love and Wholeness resides and loves us no matter what. Even though the demons try to keep the Gate of our Hearts closed, He gives us peace and the strength to overcome our passions with a Love greater than all possible loves. There is a greater Good above all the other higher goods that this world offers. We can only gain that highest Good by total sacrifice of ourselves in carrying whatever crosses may come in the hope which He brings.

Relationships may break down; our children may rebel; lawless violence at home and in the streets may increase and overcome our lives; but that Love takes up residence in our hearts forever if we will. Death itself has been conquered.

Each minute of our lives is then given ultimate meaning: to work in love towards the Good, the True, the Beautiful. Life then is the ground to seek and to grow in love of the highest good. Distractions become a challenge for us to divert the diversions to goodness.

Silence becomes a challenge to face up to the demons and dispel them with love of the Cross, embracing the demons themselves for they do not know what they do!

All then is for Love and to keep returning to the source of that Love. Love, with a capital letter “L” is love of the highest good, Good, God, much higher than sentimental love, which is a frail imitation of the real thing.

The End. Ecstatic union with Incarnate Love Himself. This then is the Peace that the world cannot give.

Memoirs

The following are pages of my memoirs:
CHAPTER 1 – To Grasses Greener 1941-54
CHAPTER 2 – The Green Grass of Home 1955-59
CHAPTER 3 – High School Days 1955-59
CHAPTER 4 – Our Little Family Home 1956-58
CHAPTER 5 – Drifting Along 1960-61
CHAPTER 6 – Waking Up 1962-64
CHAPTER 7 – From Anglo-Catholic to Catholic 1962-66
CHAPTER 8 – Bishopdale’s Nappy Lane 1967-72
CHAPTER 9 – Vatican II and the Suburban Commune 1967-72
CHAPTER 10 – The Cultural Revolution 1967-72
CHAPTER 11 – Nappy Lane Hippies 1967-72
CHAPTER 12 – Arcadian Pahiatua 1973-77
CHAPTER 13 – Life at Ballance 1973-77
CHAPTER 14 – The Country School Teacher 1973-77
CHAPTER 15 – Back to the Bay 1978-83
CHAPTER 16 – Deepening Roots
CHAPTER 17 – Sky-Watching Discovery I: The Kaikoura “UFO”
CHAPTER 18 – Sky-Watching Discovery II: Making a Telescope
CHAPTER 19 – Sky-Watching Discovery III: Halley’s Comet BBQ 1986
CHAPTER 20 – The Amiga Dream
CHAPTER 21 – Battling the Cultural Wars I: in the Classroom
CHAPTER 22 – Battling the Cultural Wars II: in Parish Life
CHAPTER 23 – Handing on the Torch of Civilisation I: The History Teacher
CHAPTER 24 – Handing on the Torch of Civilisation II: The History of Art Teacher
CHAPTER 25 – Handing on the Torch of Civilisation III: The InfoTech Teacher
CHAPTER 26 – Parting Threads: Last Years in New Zealand
CHAPTER 27 – A Budding Medievalist: Our First Trip to Italy
CHAPTER 28 – Searching for Musical Grace: Lost Opportunities
CHAPTER 29 – From Godzone to the Land of Oz: Another Kiwi Family to Australia
CHAPTER 30 – Home at Last: Maternal Heart of Mary
CHAPTER 31 – Accepting Retirement
CHAPTER 32 – Pilgrimage: Our Second Trip to Italy
CHAPTER 33 – Truly Beautiful New Zealand

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.

“The Game of Thrones” and the “Middle Ages”

Game of Thrones is just another of those seemingly endless entertainments appropriating a thoroughly twisted view of the Middle Ages: an interpretation of a period of our history distorted by 500 years of prejudice, an interpretation reinforced by repetitious tropes, to the point when it is almost useless to try to get people to understand any aspect of the Middle Ages.

And yet, the Middle Ages is the very foundation of our Modern World. One could then say then that the Child, our modern world, hates its mother, to the extent of Matricide!!

The very terms, “Middle Ages”, and “Medieval” were invented by 15th Century Renaissance scholars to describe the period between the “good”, noble, arty, literate Classical era of Ancient Rome, and their own proud age of the rediscovered beauty of the Classical era. Everything between, from the Fall of Rome to c.1450 was dross, written off as in the Middle. They longed for the return of ancient Roman civilisation and its culture, art, music, literature, and laws. They wrote off 1000 years of our history, the very history which formed the foundations of his – Renaissance man’s – own ability to stand outside of himself and analyse the past.

What a travesty of history! Somehow Renaissance man just miraculously was able to think and analyse the past, to evaluate art and beauty, to explore ancient texts, texts of course, which just sprang out of the blue. European scholarship just sprang out of 1000 years of barbarism and artistic misery? One mustn’t mention where those universities of Europe began from which these Renaissance scholars received their doctorates.

And then the “Middle Ages” received its double whammy – the Protestant Reformation. From 1500 onwards much of Northern Europe as it turned Protestant, denied the traditions borne out through 1500 years of Christianity. For some Protestants, Christianity became corrupted right after the Apostles died, for others during Constantine’s reign c. 320 when the Church became established as Roman. And so, the Middle Ages was seen as the reign of the “Whore of Babylon” – the Pope. “Superstition” prevailed, and the doctrines of Catholicism – the enemy – darkened the mind of mankind.

And then the intellectuals – a new breed of men – sprung out of the Wars of Religion: the “Enlightened” ones who invented the new philosophies of idealism and empiricism – the foundations of our modern ideologies. The Enlightenment intellectuals cast the Middle Ages as a period of intellectual torpitude devoid of reason. The Middle Ages received this “triple whammy” – an age dominated by religious dogmatism, and at the heart of this was the Catholic Church – the enemy.

So, in order to celebrate the victories of Renaissance Humanism, the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the great Liberal Revolution, intellectuals have, over and over, and over and over, through 500 years now made the Middle Ages a monster to kill with every weapon. One could run through an enormous list of history and philosophy books, novels, plays, films, cultural motifs, etc., all of which have as their fundamental basis the willing distortion of the Middle Ages!

Let us examine this Monster.

This Monster founded the universities of Europe from c 1100 to 1300. There were reportedly 20,000 students at the University of Paris about the late 1100s – about the same number as now. Oxford and Cambridge, Bologna, Padua, et al., all rose about this time. The medieval medical school in Naples was famous in the known world.

As early as 800 AD (in the Dark Ages), Charlesmagne, insisted that every parish church in his vast empire have a school to teach all the children to read and write. He was so determined in this that much of his vast horde from his conquests was used to fund this project. Furthermore he had inspectors ensure that this dying wish of his was carried out. Parish schools and scholarships developed throughout Europe and grew through the next 500 years.

Representative parliaments all developed across Europe during this time of the 1100s: the rule in each kingdom was that a king may not issue a new tax without the consent of a meeting of nobles, clergy and commoners and this was not just in England! Cities, merchants and free-holders voted and became more powerful as the economy of Europe grew.

Welfare? Hospitals, aged care homes, orphanages, pensioner systems, homeless care, soup kitchens, were in place, mostly in the charge of large numbers of religious, but some funded by the nobility.

But, let us get to the heart. All very well assembling a list of wonderful Medieval inventions, discoveries, structures, cathedrals, etc. What were these Medieval people like? Where were their hearts?

Words and new connotations of words are invented in each age to express new thoughts and feelings which are demanded by new experiences.

And what new words and new connotations of words were invented in England in the Middle Ages to express these new experiences? Words such as pity, gentle, mercy, beauty, bounty, charity, delicate, devotion, grace, honour, humble, passion, patience, peace, purity, tender, loving-kindness, long-suffering. Many of these words were taken out of the religious context and placed in the relationship, not between God and men, but between everyday people, to express these new relationships. Other new words came about to express the loving relationship between men and women: dalliance, dainty, debonair, delight, pleasure, love-longlingly.

Here we have a new world of developing tenderness and solicitude between people and especially between men and women and children.

Even the word “lady”: a curt Germanic word meaning “load-kneader” in 400 AD had come to mean someone gracious and tender by 1200AD.

How can we then place a world of these new affectionate expressions beside the world of the Game of Thrones and the many other Medieval-based inventions of modern times?

What brought about a change in human relationships of such depth? About 1100 AD we have minstrels roaming the lands of Europe singing of untouchable ladies whose beauty enchants noble men, who are inspired to live a life of purity and gentleness; who are inspired to defend the down-trodden, the weak, the defenceless; and for some to sacrifice their noble warrior lives for the poor and sick. For instance, the cult of St Francis was the most popular in Europe for a hundred years – young men and women from noble families who give their lives up for humble poverty for the sake of a Crucified God who identifies with the poor and lowly.

Of course, I know the answer. It were the doctrines and traditions and “superstitions” of the Catholic Church – the enemy of the Modern world, which brought about the Middle Ages.

The Middle Ages started to come to an end by the mid 1300s: by then the Commercial and Population Explosions of the Middle Ages had ended. Kings started to become independent from their nobles and from the Church; and by 1600 – the Age of Absolute Monarchy. The Age of Ideologies took their place, and now the underlying Medieval culture of Europe in dying. Soon we will look back in sadness at those affectionate words of Medieval England and wonder what basis there should be for them? Just superficial sentiment?

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.