Monday, April 27, 2020

The Hope Of Our Salvation

During these trying times we are in desperate need of hope. To whom can we turn with the assurance of receiving hope in all our trials? The one whom the Church calls "our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope;" the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. I have a special devotion to Our Lady under her title Our Lady of Hope, based on the Church-approved apparition of Our Blessed Mother in 1871. While it is good, totally Catholic, pious, and laudatory to have devotion to one or more saints (such as my Patron Saint, King St. Louis IX of France, who always comes through for me), devotion to the Blessed Mother is indispensable. The Church even assigns a special theological term for the veneration due to her.

According to theologian Parente: "Worship, in the sense of religion is due to God alone (hence, the grave mortal sin of idolatry). However, an inferior form of religious worship may be licit with respect to creatures insomuch as these have reference to God and manifest His Perfections (Emphasis mine)...the singular worship due to God alone is called latria or adoration; that given the saints is called dulia or veneration...the Blessed Mother is called hyperdulia."  (See Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology [1951], pg. 68). Hyperdulia, then, is the most special veneration given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is elevated to receive greater veneration than that given to all the angels and saints combined. This is because Mary is intimately united to Christ Our Savior.

Mary plays a unique role in our salvation. Just as Adam and Eve brought us death, so Christ the Second Adam, brings us salvation and eternal life. Just as Eve cooperated intimately with Adam in our downfall, so too does Mary cooperate intimately with Christ as the Second Eve in securing our restoration to God's friendship and salvation. In Latin, Eve is Eva, the reverse of which Ave, is the first Latin word of the Hail Mary--that Angelic Salutation by which the Immaculate Virgin was told by the angel Gabriel that she was chosen to become the Mother of God--He Who would save humanity.

Christ was sinless by nature, Mary was sinless by grace. Christ was rose by His own power, body and soul, from the dead. Mary was assumed, both body and soul, into Heaven. Their lives were uniquely interwoven for the purpose of saving humanity. So many unique and awesome privileges were bestowed upon Mary.
My spiritual father, Fr. DePauw, had informed me that just prior to the death of Pope Pius XII, the pontiff called together a small group of anti-Modernist theologians and they were told to begin the groundwork for a dogmatic definition of Mary as "Mediatrix of All Grace." Unfortunately, it went nowhere when His Holiness died and false pope Roncalli [John XXIII] ordered the work scrapped because it would "offend our Protestant brothers and sisters."

One of the privileges and titles that has never been officially settled in reference to Mary, is that of Co-Redemptrix. Rightfully understood, a Traditionalist Catholic may accept or reject this title to the Mother of God. Among the approved theologians, there was no unanimity prior to the destruction of Vatican II.  Some approve and advocate for the title, and others feel it should be a title denied to her as it is unbecoming Our Lady. Neither side declares the title to be a matter of heresy or worthy of some censure short of heresy. I believe that the case for Mary being our Co-Redemptrix is much stronger than the case against it. Nevertheless, I will not condemn anyone for disagreeing--indeed, I cannot do so as I have no Magisterial authority, nor do I claim to be some ersatz "theologian" or "canonist;" as I am not.

Of course, that doesn't prevent the fiendish Feeneyites in New York, Fred and Bobby Dimond, from declaring anyone a "heretic" who dares to accept Mary's title and role as Co-Redemptrix. "Brother Peter" Dimond wrote an article that is as error-laden as their writings denying Baptism of Desire (BOD) and Baptism of Blood (BOB), and denouncing Church teaching on Periodic Abstinence. The Dimond bothers are never happy unless they are denouncing someone to Hell. The suffer from the "sickness of soul" endemic in all Feeneyites.

(See my post, about the infamous heretic Fr. Leonard Feeney).

In this post I will put forth the theological arguments in favor of Mary's title as Co-Redemptrix, and show how Dimond's article (claiming the title as "heretical") is false and deceptive. The article may be read in full here:

Mary's Role as Co-Redemptrix
Redemption designates the sum total of meritorious and satisfactory acts performed by Christ while on Earth, offered to the Eternal Father in and through the Sacrifice of the Cross, in virtue of which the Eternal Father was moved (humanly speaking) to reinstate the human race into His former friendship. When we say Mary is Co-Redemptrix of humanity, we mean that together with Christ (although subordinately to Him and and in virtue of His power) She atoned or satisfied for our sins, merited every grace necessary for salvation, and offered Her Divine Son on Calvary to appease the wrath of God, and that as a result of this, God was pleased to cancel our debt and receive us into His former friendship. This co-redemptive role of Mary actually began when She accepted to become the Mother of God by her own free will. (See theologian Carol, Mariology, [1956] pgs. 56-65).  It is to be noted that this unique role does not make Mary a "priest" in any way. The idea of Mary as "priest" was condemned by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1916, and again in 1927. 

1. Proof from Holy Scripture
There is no direct mention  of Mary as Co-Redemptrix in the Bible, but neither is there anything about her Assumption which is a dogma. However, in Genesis 3:15, we read that after the Fall, Almighty God addressed Satan with these words, "I will put enmities between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed. He [the woman's seed] shall crush thy head and thou shall lie in wait for his heel." The crushing of the serpent's head is a figure of speech used to describe the work of Redemption which will totally destroy the devil's dominion over humanity. According to theologian Rabanos, the seed of the woman is Christ, as an individual, and the woman mentioned in the text designates Mary. Since, according to the Magisterium, Mary is here portrayed as intimately sharing Christ's identical victory over the devil, it logically follows that she is foreshadowed as Co-Redemptrix. (See The Co-Redemption of Mary in Sacred Scripture, [1943], pgs. 9-59)

In St. Luke 1:26-38, when the angel Gabriel was sent by God to obtain Mary's consent to become Mother of the Redeemer, she answered, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word." In a very real sense, God conditioned the Redemption of the world dependent on Mary's consent, which she knowingly, willingly, and freely gave. This consent was ratified when she stood at the foot of the cross suffering with her Son as Simeon had predicted 33 years earlier: "And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother: Behold this Child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed." (St. Luke 2:34-35). She suffered for the same purpose as her Divine Son; the reconciliation of God and humanity. (See theologian Carol, op. cit., pg. 62)

2. Proof from Sacred Tradition
The idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix began with the analogies between Adam and Eve/Christ and Mary.
In particular, St Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus draw the parallels. These were developed in the 12th century by Arnold of Chartres and it continued to develop until it was expressly taught by approved theologians in the 17th century. (Ibid, pgs. 62-63). 

3. Magisterial Proof
Many popes have taught Mary's role as Co-Redemptrix (as I will demonstrate later on). In his dogmatic definition of Our Lady's Assumption, Pope Pius XII taught:

"Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages." (See the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, Para. #40; Emphasis mine). 

On November 26, 1951, the entire Cuban hierarchy petitioned Pope Pius XII for a dogmatic definition of Mary as Co-Redemptrix. An entire nation of bishops felt that it could and should be defined. The petition was well-received by the Supreme Pontiff, and the bishops were not in any way censured or condemned.  

Faulty Feeneyite Findings
Presented here is the inane idea of Dimond that the title Co-Redemptrix is "heretical." Each argument (if you can really call it that) will be presented with the refutation by me below. Although only "Peter" wrote the article, Fred and Bobby operate as one unit, so I will refer to them both (as they both profess the same errors). 

1. It’s an infallibly defined dogma that Jesus Christ alone is the Redeemer.

Pope Pius IV, Council of Trent, Sess. 25, On Invocation, Veneration and Relics of Saints, and on Sacred Images, ex cathedra: “… the saints, who reign with Christ, offer up their prayers to God for men; and that it is good and useful to invoke them suppliantly and, in order to obtain favors from God through His Son JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, WHO ALONE IS OUR REDEEMER and Savior… And they must also teach that images of Christ, the virgin mother of God and the other saints should be set up and kept… But if anyone should teach or maintain anything contrary to these decrees, let him be anathema.” (Denz. 984)
This dogmatic definition, that Christ alone is our Redeemer, even mentions Mary.  So, in the very context of mentioning the Blessed Virgin and the saints, the Council of Trent declares that Christ alone is the Redeemer.  That proves that Mary is not the Co-Redemptrix. (Emphasis in original)

Response: What the Dimonds, in their duplicity, choose to omit are the following words between the ellipsis, "and that they think impiously who deny that the saints who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven are to be invoked, or who assert that they do not pray for men, or that our invocation of them to pray for each of us individually is idolatry, or that it is opposed to the word of God and inconsistent with the honor of the one mediator of God and men, Jesus Christ...(Emphasis mine). It's clear that Trent was condemning the Protestants who think that because there is ONE MEDIATOR (not two or more--See 1 Timothy 2: 5-6), that saints are not to be invoked and cannot pray and intercede for us without derogating from the one Mediator, Jesus Christ. The Dimonds have no problem calling Our Lady Mediatrix, with no fear of minimizing Our Lord's unique role as the one Mediator. Likewise, Trent was not defining Christ to be the only Savior so as to exclude the possibility of Our Lady having a secondary and subordinate role in redemption. Just as Mary has a role in dispensing all grace (subordinate to and united with Her Divine Son) so as to merit the title Mediatrix without dishonoring or denying Her Son as the one and only Mediator, the title Co-Redemptrix would be given in the same manner.  So much for their contorting the meaning of Trent, just as they do in regards to its decrees on Baptism and the sacraments.

2. The Council of Florence and the Catechism of the Council of Trent
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino” 1441, ex cathedra: “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and teaches that no one conceived of man and woman was ever freed of the domination of the Devil, except through the faith of the mediator between God and men, our Lord Jesus Christ; He who was conceived without sin, was born and died, ALONE BY HIS OWN DEATH LAID LOW THE ENEMY OF THE HUMAN RACE BY DESTROYING OUR SINS, and opened the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, which the first man by his own sin had lost…” (Denz. 711)---Emphasis in original.

Response: When the Church teaches Christ alone is our Redeemer, they are referring to the primary, universal, and self-sufficient causality of Christ in the redemptive process which does not exclude Mary's secondary and totally subordinate cooperation which drew all its efficacy from the superabundant merits of her Divine Son. This is what they simply do not understand (or willfully ignore).

Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part III: The Decalogue – First Commandment – Thou Shalt not Have Strange Gods, etc. – Objections Answered: "True, there is but one Mediator, Christ the Lord, who alone has reconciled us to the heavenly Father through His blood, and who, having obtained eternal redemption, and having entered once into the holies, ceases not to intercede for us."

Response: It also states "there is but one Mediator," yet don't we call upon the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mediatrix? Do we not pray for the intersession of the saints? Don't Protestants use the "one Mediator" argument to exclude secondary mediators? Yet the Dimonds insist, " However, we’ve been disappointed by the fact that some people just aren’t satisfied with the dogmatic definitions.  They insist on calling Mary Co-Redemptrix or Co-Redeemer, even after seeing these dogmatic definitions.  This is problematic.  They are deviating from dogmatic truth." They claim that holding Mary as Co-Redemptrix is going against dogma and hence a heresy. This will come back to haunt them.

 3. St. Robert Bellarmine and Theologian Pohle
Also consider that pre-Vatican II theologian Fr. Joseph Pohle, in a work published and given an imprimatur before Vatican II, rightly noted that the title ‘coredemptrix’ is not appropriate for Mary.

Fr. Joseph Pohle, A Dogmatic Treatise On The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Of God, Imprimatur, 1919: “… it would be wrong to call her [Mary] redemptrix, because this title obscures the important truth that she herself was redeemed through the merits of Jesus Christ by what theologians technically term preredemption.  Even the title coredemptrix had better be avoided as misleading.  The titles redemptrix and coredemptrix were never applied to the Blessed Virgin before the sixteenth century; they are the invention of comparatively recent writers…”

Response: Incredibly, they cite.. approved theologians!! Theologian Pohle's objections are more about the fear of misunderstandings that could derogate from Christ's unique salvific role, not a condemnation of the correct understanding of Mary's role in redemption. He simply thinks it wrong; he does not call it an error or a heresy. The same theologian in the same set of approved theology manuals (Imprimaturs and Nihil Obstats) also teaches: "In adults the place of Baptism by water can be supplied in case of urgent necessity by the so-called Baptism of desire...Martyrdom (baptismus sanguinis) can also supply the place of Baptism." (See Dogmatic Theology, 8:243,248).

Notice what was written by Dimond; a pre-Vatican II theologian who wrote under a true pope, and had his work approved by those with authentic Magisterial authority to be free of error, should be believed when he wants to deny Mary the title of Co-Redemptrix. However, that same theologian in the same series of manuals, with the same Magisterial approval, when he teaches the reality of  BOD and BOB is to be rejected as wrong. The Magisterium can be trusted in the matter of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, but should not be trusted and definitively rejected on the teaching regarding Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood. How convenient! What kind of Magisterium can't teach? How do we know when and if they "get it right"? The answer: Fred and Bobby will tell you. There's a word for those who pick and choose what to believe---heretic. Moreover, the title Co-Redemptrix has approved pre-Vatican II theologians that write in favor of it (the majority) as it is a disputed point of theology. All pre-Vatican II approved theologians teach BOD and BOB. Yet, they treat the issue of Co-Redemptrix as one that contradicts defined dogma.

St. Robert Bellarmine, De Christo, Book V, Chap. 1: 
"But Christ Himself alone [solus] paid for us, and reconciled us to God by His own blood." (our translation from the Latin)

Response: Bellarmine was not denying Mary's unique cooperation by stating the truth of Christ's  primary,universal, and self-sufficient causality in the Redemption. St. Robert Bellarmine also teaches BOD and BOB. Do they quote the great Doctor of the Church and saint when he writes:

De Sacramento Baptismi, cap. 6: “...among the ancients this proposition was not so certain at first as later on: that perfect conversion and repentance is rightly called the Baptism of Desire and supplies for Baptism of water, at least in case of necessity”....."it is certainly to be believed that true conversion supplies for Baptism of water when it is not from contempt but through necessity that persons die without Baptism of water.”

The Church Militant (De Ecclesia Militante), c. 3: "I answer therefore that, when it is said outside the Church no one is saved, it must be understood of those who belong to her neither in actual fact nor in desire [desiderio], as theologians commonly speak on baptism. Because the catechumens are in the Church, though not in actual fact, yet at least in resolution [voto], therefore they can be saved."

4. The idea that Mary is formally “Co-Redemptrix” would be consistent with the idea that the original sin was the sin of Adam and Eve.  But that’s not Catholic teaching.

Response: What's not Catholic teaching is anything that comes out of "Most Holy Family Monastery." I don't know if it's more charitable to believe that Fred and Bobby lack the basic intelligence to understand the title Co-Redemptrix as correctly formulated, or they purposely deceive others. The essence of the antithesis between Adam/Eve and Christ/Mary lies in the fact that just as Eve cooperated with Adam in the sin that doomed the human race, so Mary has cooperated with Christ, the Second Adam, in bringing about the rehabilitation of humanity lost by that sin. We are talking about cooperation in sin and cooperation in redemption.

Eve fell for the lure of Satan and urged Adam to sin, thus cooperating in Original Sin. Mary was sinless and by her obedience to God allowed the savior to receive His human nature through her and became the God-Man Who redeemed us. It was Adam's sin, but Eve played and important and cooperative role. It was Christ's saving death, but Mary's cooperation with God in the role of redemption. Just as Adam alone brought sin in the world, yet had the cooperation of Eve, Mary is the Second Eve. Christ alone brought redemption to the world with the cooperation of Mary.

5. Mary wrongly becomes one of two Redeemers.
They say Mary is the “Co-Redemptrix,” just as others (e.g. St. Paul) help carry out the work of Redemption...They hold that Mary (in terms of the Redemption) is in a category with Jesus that does not belong to the other saints.  It is different not just in degree, but in kind from St. Paul, etc.  Thus, all the arguments they bring forward that St. Paul, the other saints, etc. can be loosely called “redeemers” do not support their position.  When they argue in that fashion, they are contradicting their position and asserting that Mary is just one of many co-redeemers.

Response: Mary cooperated uniquely in a way St. Paul and the others could not. She was the one through whom He came into the world, and with secondary and totally subordinate cooperation participated in His suffering and death as only a Mother could love her Son.  No other human being can make those two claims.

6. The popes were wrong. Pope Benedict XV was wrong about Mary's role in redemption and Pope Leo XIII was mistranslated.

Leaving the alleged mistranslation of Pope Leo aside for the moment, here's what Dimond writes about Pope Benedict XV:

  OBJECTION– In his March 22, 1918, document Inter Sodalicia, Pope Benedict XV teaches that Mary has redeemed the world with Christ.

Pope Benedict XV, Inter Sodalicia, March 22, 1918: “For with her suffering and dying Son, Mary endured suffering and almost death. She gave up her Mother’s rights over her Son to procure the salvation of mankind, and to appease the divine justice, she, as much as she could, immolated her Son, so that one can truly affirm that together with Christ she has redeemed the human race.”

ANSWER– Simply put, Benedict XV’s statement in this document is flat out wrong.  Many people cite the Latin title of this letter (Inter Sodalicia) as if it’s some major or authoritative document of a pope.  Well, it’s not.  The truth is that Inter Sodalicia was a letter of Pope Benedict XV to the Sodality of Our Lady of a Happy Death.  In other words, it’s basically a letter of the pope to a prayer group.  It’s not addressed to the universal Church.  It’s not an encyclical. It’s not in any way infallible.

Response: Here's where the Dimonds really get into a conundrum from which there is no escape. (a) They claim that Mary's title and role as Co-Redemptrix goes directly against Catholic dogma. (b) Pope Benedict XV taught something directly against the (alleged) dogma that precludes Mary from being Co-Redemptrix (c) Therefore, Pope Benedict made a mistake. However, it is their conclusion that is wrong because...

If what the Dimond's teach is true, Pope Benedict XV wasn't merely "wrong;" he is guilty of teaching heresy as a private theologian and could not have been the pope.

Fred and Bobby will only accept their private interpretations of infallible statements as "Catholic truth." If you cite to them the teaching of the theologians (St. Alphonsus Liguori, etc) in favor of BOD and BOB they will say "theologians and Doctors of the Church who are saints are not infallible." Bring up an official catechism and "it's not infallible." Bring up the teaching of a pope and "it's not infallible, it's just a letter, it's just an encyclical" etc. However, a pope cannot profess heresy and lose office while speaking ex cathedra. He has the protection of the Holy Ghost Who would not permit him to teach falsehood. The profession of heresy which leads to loss of office can only come about when speaking as a private theologian in a non-infallible statement.

Proof:  St. Alphonsus Liguori: "If ever a pope, as a private person, should fall into heresy, he would at once fall from the pontificate."( See Oeuvres Completes. 9:232; Emphasis mine).

Vatican Council of 1870: "What would be said if the Roman Pontiff were to become a heretic? In the [First] Vatican Council, the following question was proposed: Whether or not the Roman Pontiff as a private person could fall into manifest heresy?The response was thus: 'Firmly trusting in supernatural providence, we think that such things quite probably will never occur. But God does not fail in times of need. Wherefore, if He Himself would permit such an evil, the means to deal with it would not be lacking.' [See Mansi 52:1109]

Moreover, letters, allocutions, and Encyclicals have papal authority in teaching, even if not infallible.

Proof: Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, para. #20:
"Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me"; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians." (Emphasis mine)

Finally, the Dimonds, when confronted with the teaching of St. Alphonsus Liguori on BOB and BOD, will say "he made an innocent mistake." It could neither be innocent nor a mistake. A mistake is when Pope John XXII (1316-1334) preached sermons in Avignon, France  in which he maintained that the souls of the blessed departed do not see God until after the Last Judgement. It is a mistake, not heresy because: (a) the fact that the souls of the blessed departed do attain immediately unto the Beatific Vision upon entering Heaven was not yet defined dogma, (b) it was still open to discussion among the theologians, (c) he stated publicly that if he were wrong he would allow himself to be corrected by the Church.

Teaching something that contradicts defined dogma is not "an innocent mistake," it is teaching heresy. If baptism by water is the exclusive way to achieve entrance to the Church and salvation, then when St. Alphonsus taught BOD and BOB he was teaching heresy. Ditto for Pope Benedict XV teaching Mary is Co-Redemptrix. If the title and doctrine behind it contradicts a dogma that positively excludes it, that would constitute heresy.

But what if they just didn't know any better? What if clerics of the highest level of learning and ecclesiastical training didn't know they were contradicting dogma (i.e., not as educated and learned as Fred and Bobby)? Wouldn't that save them from being heretics if they didn't know better or didn't realize the title and doctrine of Co-Redemptrix is heretical? In a word: No.

Proof: According to theologian MacKenzie, a cleric's claim that "I was ignorant" does not excuse from the sin ("delict") of heresy: "...if the delinquent making this claim be a cleric, his plea for mitigation must be dismissed, either as untrue, or else as indicating ignorance which is affected, or at least crass and supine. His ecclesiastical training in the seminary, with its moral and dogmatic theology, its ecclesiastical history, not to mention its canon law, all insure that the Church's attitude toward heresy was imparted to him...Hence his present ignorance is unreal; or, if it be real, it can only be explained as deliberately fostered..."(See The Delict of Heresy, [1932], pg. 48; Emphasis mine).

Inescapable conclusion: Pope Benedict XV wasn't a true pope according to the Dimonds.

Fred and Bobby can now join the ranks of their former Feeneyite associate and "Vacancy Pusher" Richard Ibranyi who pushes the time of the vacancy back to 1130 AD with the papacy of Pope Honorius II. (Or at least Michael Bizzaro--his real name--who pushes back the vacancy to 1914 when Pope St. Pius X died).

7. Pope Leo XIII was mis-translated in Iucunda Semper.
As this is their last "argument," I don't even need to bother with translations. Here's what the popes had to say on Mary's position as Co-Redemptrix:

Pope Leo XIII, Supremi Apostolatus Officio (1883), para. #2
"And truly the Immaculate Virgin, chosen to be the Mother of God and thereby associated with Him in the work of man's salvation, has a favor and power with her Son greater than any human or angelic creature has ever obtained, or ever can gain." (Emphasis mine)

Pope Leo XIII, Parta humano generi, Apostolic Letter dated September 8, 1901
"For us nothing can be more effective in winning the Virgin's favor and in meriting the most salutary graces than to surround with the greatest possible honor the mysteries of our redemption in which she not only shared but also took part."(Emphasis mine).

Pope St. Pius X, Ubera cum Fructu, Apostolic Letter dated April 30, 1911:
"It was in the presence and under the very gaze of Mary that the Divine Sacrifice of our redemption was consummated; she took part in it by giving to the world and nourishing the Divine Victim, she the Queen of Martyrs." (Emphasis mine).

Pope Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, (1954), para. #38
"From these considerations, the proof develops on these lines: if Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God's design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of "recapitulation,"in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; (Emphasis mine).

Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, (1943), para. #110
"It was she, the second Eve, who, free from all sin, original or personal, and always more intimately united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father for all the children of Adam, sin-stained by his unhappy fall, and her mother's rights and her mother's love were included in the holocaust. Thus she who, according to the flesh, was the mother of our Head, through the added title of pain and glory became, according to the Spirit, the mother of all His members." (Emphasis mine).

In these perilous and unprecedented times of evil and pandemic, let us turn to Our Lady of Hope; she who is the Mother of Him Who can do all things. Without fear of being heretics, we may rightly call Mary our Co-Redemptrix. By her intimate connection to her Divine Son, she gives us our hope of salvation---Mary who cooperated in the very act of our redemption. How could her Son fail to hear the Queen of Martyrs' pleas for help on our behalf? 

If you do not join me in calling Mary our Co-Redemptrix, you're not a heretic either, because the Church must settle the matter, not Fred and Bobby Dimond. When making up your mind on the issue, remember the axiom of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, "De Maria Numquam Satis,"--"Of Mary, Never Enough." 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Reading, Writing, And...Relativism?

I really should really be writing a screenplay or novel about COVID-19. We all know that this pandemic will be the subject of countless movies, TV shows, and books. Just the sight of New York City looking like a veritable ghost town for the first time in my life is unsettling. I now do all my work via computer and phone from home until the lock-down is over. I was on the phone, talking to another lawyer I know, and she mentioned how glad she was that her children are reading more than ever since schools are teaching virtually and giving more reading assignments. When I inquired as to what they were reading, she responded, "The Harry Potter series. They read the first one, and now they want to read them all!" I told her those were not good books to read. Knowing my religious Faith, she replied with laughter in her voice, "Oh, I know! You're afraid their going to turn into witches and practice the occult, right?" What I said next was something she wasn't expecting. "No. I'm afraid they will not be able to distinguish right from wrong and do bad things."

The silence on her end of the phone was deafening. Then she slowly spoke up, "..what do you mean by that?" Whenever I'm confronted with someone who looks upon the supernatural with disdain, I try and explain the consequences of a non-Catholic worldview. Ideas have consequences. While it is very true that Harry Potter is evil because of its portrayal of Wicca and the occult, it is also wicked for promoting moral relativism. When I explained it all to her, she was shocked. A couple of days later, she called and left a message telling me that I was right and she would be taking the Harry Potter books away from her kids and replacing them with something else.

Fourteen years ago, at the request of a friend, I gave a presentation to a school board upstate New York explaining what moral relativism was, why it was bad, and how Harry Potter books teach children the wrong lessons. I recently found that paper. In this post, I will not attack Harry Potter (as countless others have rightfully done) for Wicca. Rather, I will hopefully demonstrate to you how that series of books encompass moral relativism, and why no child should read them. Despite cries of "separation of Church and State," what a person believes inevitably has consequences. What follows is the paper (edited by me) that I had researched and presented combined with my own current commentary. I hope this post will be a reminder that we must be vigilant as to what we read--and especially what children read. It is not without reason the Vatican II sect abolished the Index of Forbidden Books.

The Immoral Saga Begins
The Harry Potter craze began with the publication of author Joanne Kathleen (aka J.K.) Rowling’s first novel released in England as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for American readers, in September 1998. The book, about a young wizard-in-training, soon was on the New York Times best-seller list. Her life is as interesting as her fictional character. Her “mini-bio” runs thus:

Joanne Rowling was born on July 31, 1965 in Yate, near Bristol, a few miles south of a town called Dursley (Harry Potter's muggle-family). Her father Peter Rowling was an engineer for Rolls Royce in Bristol at this time. Her mother, Anne, was half-French and half-Scottish. They met on a train as it left King's Cross Station in London. Her sister Diana is about 2 years younger than Joanne. In 1971, Peter Rowling moved his family to the nearby village of Winterbourne (still in the Bristol vicinity). During the family's residence in Winterbourne, Jo and Di Rowling were friends with neighborhood children, Ian and Vikki Potter.

In 1974, the Rowling family moved yet again, this time to Tutshill, near the Welsh border town of Chepstow (in the Forest of Dean) and across the Severn River from the greater Bristol area. Rowling admits to having been a bit of a daydreamer as a child and began writing stories at the age of six. After leaving Exeter University, where she read French and Classics, she started work as a teacher but daydreamed about becoming a writer. One day, stuck on a delayed train for four hours between Manchester and London, she dreamt up a boy called Harry Potter. That was in 1990. It took her six years to write the book.
(See "J.K. Rowling" mini-bio at, see also official web site

What is not mentioned is that Rowling claims to have received her inspiration for Harry Potter from an other worldly source. Rowling, during that train ride in 1990, has stated hoe the character of Potter came to her: "I was staring out the window and the idea of Harry Potter just came. He appeared in my mind's eye fully formed." (See Reuters, "Harry Potter Just Strolled into My Head" 7/17/00) She also alleges to hear in her head the conversations she writes:  "Dialogue just comes to me as if I'm overhearing a conversation."

With a total of seven (7) books in the series, it began with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (hereinafter HP-1). The books that followed in order are:

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998) (HP-2)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) (HP-3)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000) (HP-4)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) (HP-5)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2005) (HP-6)

[The seventh and final book was released in 2007, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I will not touch upon that particular book directly, as it was published after my research---Introibo]

Briefly summed up: Harry Potter is a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful witches (or "wizards") and possesses unique magical powers of his own.[Those who are not witches are called "muggles"]. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents' mysterious deaths. (Synopsis from Tribune Media Service). 

So why is Harry Potter a bad character? The author bases Potter upon the teachings of Wicca. Even if someone were to disbelieve witchcraft, or deny witchcraft is really bad, the fact remains that Wicca teaches moral relativism. This relativism comes out throughout the series of books in the actions of the characters. Relativism and its relationship to Wicca, Rowling, and her characters will be demonstrated below.

It's All Relative?
Moral Relativism is not one doctrine, but rather can be classified into two (2) distinct and broad theses, both of which deny an external, unchanging Moral Norm. I will now present a short description of each thesis immediately followed by the reasons they are wrong, even apart from Divine Revelation.

  • Cultural/Normative Relativism is the teaching which holds that a person must behave in accordance with the accepted norms that have evolved in his/her society. It is an observed and recorded fact that cultures disagree over what is right and wrong, even when the terms in dispute are clearly defined and accepted by both groups of people. This proves that moral codes are mere social conventions invented by people. What is good for one culture might be considered bad by another. To be moral simply means to act in accordance with one’s society. Even the U.S. Supreme Court speaks of a "relevant community" for determining what constitutes "obscenity." (See Miller v. California 413 U.S. 15 [1973]). In Miller, the Court says to look towards the "contemporary community standards" and rejects attempting even a "national standard" for determining what materials shall be deemed "obscene."

    Refutation:  First, cultural relativism is descriptive, not prescriptive. It merely describes the way things are factually, without reference as to why things ought to be a certain way. Many disagreements are really factual, not moral. In the battle over abortion, the pro-abortionists never concede the unborn child is human. That would put them in a position of advocating for the killing of innocent babies, which everyone understands to be wrong. Instead they de-humanize the pre-born into mere "cells" and make the issue about "choice." Even the evil Justice Harry Blackmun, who authored the infamous majority opinion in Roe v. Wade (legalizing abortion in the United States, 1/22/73), admitted in his very opinion that if the fetus was a person abortion could not be made legal.   This proves that many underlying moral precepts are shared by all humans irrespective of society. As another example, no culture has ever valued cowardice in battle.

Second, it does not follow from the premises of the thesis that no moral code is correct or can be known by people. Different cultures have disagreed in the past as to the shape of the Earth, but it does not follow that no one can ever know the correct shape of the world.

Third, the Supreme Court has done nothing to clarify moral judgments. Miller can easily be attacked for obfuscating the issue. Why is any given "relevant community" correct in its ethical assessments?  If there is no external Moral Norm, how could the Nuremberg Trials condemn Nazis for following the moral dictates of their relevant community? It might also be asked where, precisely, we find the apposite community. People hold simultaneous membership in several communities, each with differing moral codes. In New York City, one could belong to his/her family, extended family, social club, place of employment, religion, and New York State. Which one is the "relevant community?"

Fourth, normative relativism suffers from what has been deemed the "Reformer’s Dilemma."  If cultural/normative relativism is true, then a reformer who wishes to correct a perceived injustice becomes a logical impossibility. The reformer, such as a Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi, must stand outside the society’s moral code and pronounce some feature of it to be wrong. However, if you are moral if and only if you conform to society’s standards, the reformer is immoral by definition and there is no allowance for any substantial change to practices like apartheid. (See "Sociological Approaches to Ethics: Cultural Relativism" at

Fifth, there are at least two logical inconsistencies with normative relativism. Suppose Society X believes that killing deformed babies is immoral, but Society Y thinks it’s moral to do so. How should a member of Society X view the killing of deformed babies in Society Y?  According to the moral code of Society X, he should condemn the acts as murder, but if the member of Society Y can only be ethical by following the code of his own community, how can you condemn that person for being moral by his society’s standards? The implication is that you can never condemn the acts of another relevant community. The logical extension is that the U.S. had no right to condemn the acts of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan, and the North had no right to condemn slavery in the Confederacy. Lastly, cultural/normative relativism violates the Law of Non-Contradiction: To assert that "All morality is relative" (to culture or in general), you’ve just made an absolute statement that applies to all people in all cultures!  How can you deny the existence and/or ability to know moral oughts, and then pronounce that we ought to do/abide by the standards of our relevant community? This line of thought is self-refuting.

  • Conceptual Relativism holds that societies can differ not merely in the judgment of right and wrong, but when Society X says, "Act Z is wrong;" this is a manifestation of the complete idea that "Act Z is wrong for Society X."  In reality, there is no such property as good or evil; rather goodness is a function or relation between an action and society. The very meaning of "right and wrong" is relative to any given society.

Refutation: Conceptual relativism is more radical than normative relativism insofar as the very meanings of moral terms of appraisal are themselves relative. At the heart of this theory is a pragmatic epistemology (epistemology is the study of how we know what we know) which doubts that we can ever attain truth, therefore what works is what is true. Hence, what works for one set of people might not work for another. This form of relativism is open to the same defeaters leveled at normative relativism above.

There is one additional objection: it makes it theoretically possible for cultures to never have a moral disagreement, and this is patently absurd. If Society X says, "What counts as murder for us, is wrong for us," and Society Y says, "What counts as murder to us, is right for us," no moral argument occurs as both could be true. The societies equivocate on the meaning of the terms murder, right, and wrong. Any theory that negates the real possibility of any cross-cultural moral disagreements is mistaken in fact because there are too many wars/conflicts fought for such differences throughout history (e.g. WWII, the U.S. Civil War, War on Terrorism, etc.).

When Harry Met Relativism
Rowling’s beliefs play a role in her books because of the practical consequences that necessarily follow. Rowling claims a "belief in God," without further elaboration. In an interview 5/14/00 for AOL the following exchange took place:
Raw3Pete asks...I have read a few articles saying Christians object to the occultic themes weaved into your stories. I was just wondering, what are your spiritual beliefs?

JKR::::deep sigh::: Well, as it happens, I believe in God, but there's no pleasing some people!” 

For many years she had delved into witchcraft as a hobby of sorts. Ian Potter, and his sister Vicky (childhood friends of Rowling), recount that she always loved dressing up as a witch and making pretend potions. (See interview of 7/16/02 at  Further proof of the influence of Wicca in Rowling’s life:

1. Although not an actual practitioner of the Wicca (aka "The Craft"), she openly claims, "I know quite a lot about it." 

2. Believes the number seven is "a magical number."

3. Has incredible knowledge and use of all things occult. (See

4. Uses an anagram for Madame Blavatsky (founder of the occult religious system known as “Theosophy” which shares many Wiccan beliefs) in HP-3. Rowling’s character, Cassandra Vablatsky is the author of a book on divination called Unfogging the Future

5. Whenever asked if she believes in Wicca, Rowling will never explicitly say "no," and leaves the distinct idea that she does indeed give credence to some form of "magick." (Spelled with a “k” at the end, practitioners of the Craft distinguish their belief in the ability to direct reality for their own goals—“magick”—from sleight-of-hand "magic" tricks; See e.g., Elizabeth Schafer, Exploring Harry Potter (Osprey, FL: Beachem Publishing; 2000).
Wicca is relativistic. Wiccan influence in Rowling’s life has gone into her writings, thus Harry Potter  is not suitable reading for children.. 

It remains to be shown: (a) that Wicca is relativistic in its moral teachings, and (b) Harry Potter demonstrates this relativism.

Bubble, Bubble, Wicca Spells Moral Trouble
When someone hears the word "witch" scenes of an ugly hag riding a broomstick most likely comes to mind. In reality, a practitioner of Wicca is likely to be seen as a nature-worshiping, peace-loving person, who believes in a "live-and let-live" mentality. Wicca is:
  • anti-authoritarian: they don't like rules in general.  
  • anti-dogmatic: they have a general belief system that each adherent is free to adopt wholly or partially.
  • the "Wiccan Rede" or "Pagan Ethic," which states "If you harm none, do as thou please." There is no one correct set of ethics. Each witch decides for himself /herself what is right and wrong and what constitutes "harm" to another.
They believe in "tolerance," towards all beliefs, which is seen as a virtue because all beliefs "contain some good." (sounds like the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium). Most interestingly, the "Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief," adopted in 1974 by the Council of American Witches states:
  • We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept. (See Francis' "encyclical" Laudato si).
  • We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal  practice and religious worship (Therefore homosexuality, bisexuality, and all perversions are encouraged).
  • Our only animosity towards Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be "the only way," and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.(Emphasis mine; the hatred they bear for the One True Church should be apparent, and it should be equally obvious why they like the Vatican II sect which eschews dogma for ecumenism).
Under the rede, Wiccans adhere to a completely subjective morality based on self-interest. An act is good as long as the witch subjectively believes that "I’m not hurting anyone." This subjective, relativistic moral code opens the door to all kinds of behaviors, ranging from sexual promiscuity, to drug/alcohol abuse, to prostitution, to lying and cheating— as long as he/she subjectively feels no one is really being hurt. 

(Not So) Wild About Harry
The Harry Potter series is full of subjective, situational ethics where what is “right” is really what is expedient to Harry. In HP-1, Harry begins breaking rules as soon as he arrives. We are also informed in HP-3 that his father, James Potter, "didn’t set much store by rules." (HP-3; pg. 284) Harry consistently lies, cheats, and breaks rules, all with minimal—if any—consequences. Sometimes he is actually rewarded! The only difference between Harry and his enemy, Voldemort, is one of degree, not kind.

Harry Potter comes off as a "hero," not because he is good, but because he is less evil than Voldemort. It’s really just a matter of which rules to break, what lies to tell to whom, and who commits the crime. Sure, there are times when Harry and his pals exhibit courage, loyalty, etc., but so does Voldemort!  Power is good or bad merely because of who uses it. Everything is therefore reduced to but one consideration: self-interest.

Some examples of characters behaving badly:

Harry Potter: Disobedient (HP-1, pgs. 148-150), Liar (HP-2, pg.128, and 209), thief (HP2-pgs. 186-188), cheater (HP-4, pgs. 324-329)

Hagrid: Law Breaker: (HP-1pgs. 230-233), Drunkard (HP-1, pgs. 202-203)

Mr. Weasley: Keeps secrets from his wife (HP-2, pg. 66), Uses Profanity (HP-4, pg. 43)

The list could go on and on with all the characters from the book--not just the ones labeled "evil." I want to be clear that in no instance was something done (e.g., steal) in order to save someone's life or avert a disaster in order to make such acts seem acceptable. It was done out of mere convenience and self-interest. 

As one writer puts it:
 Obedience, to Harry Potter, is not ‘obeying one's lawful superiors.’ Rather, it is more along the lines of ‘making it look like you're not doing anything wrong.’ Usually Harry and/or his friends are rewarded for disobeying a professor or a school rule, not reprimanded. If they are reprimanded, it is usually by the professor that is law-abiding, and therefore "out to get them." Of course, this is also the professor that is most often disobeyed, lied to, and stolen from. The reason for this is simple. If you don't like a superior, or if he is unfair to you, your obligation to obey him vanishes. We see this time and again. Harry does not have to obey his aunt and uncle because they are mean to him. He does not have to obey Professor Snape, because Snape hates him. He does not have to obey the prefect, Percy Weasley, because he is just Ron's nerdy older brother.

Courage, according to Harry Potter and friends, means looking for danger, usually after being told not to do so. Loyalty is breaking the rules for another. Justice means you can get away with anything if you're famous, and temperance is that virtue whereby a person gets drunk only when he's really happy or really depressed.

(See "Harry Potter" by Andrea M. Stoltz published in the September 2001 issue of The Angelus. While I, needless to say,  disagree with the R&R position, Mrs. Stoltz' article was spot on regarding these books).

What lessons could a child learn from Harry Potter? 
(1) Laws are only to be obeyed if and until they serve your self-interest.
(2) The morality of an act depends solely on the circumstances.
(3) The end justifies the means.

(N.B. On Rowling's website, she has given free licence for teachers to use her books during the COVID-19 pandemic. She wants to imbue as many as she can with her occult and relativistic writings).

We must be careful as to what we (and especially children) read. The errors and evils in this time of the Great Apostasy come not only from the rotten rock/pop/rap music, television shows, and movies. It is in popular books and preached in Vatican II sect churches. What we believe has a direct impact on what we do. It's a truism that "What goes into a mind comes out in a life."

JK Rowling and other ethical relativists acknowledge no moral absolutes. Look at some recent "heroes:" Walter White from the show Breaking Bad wants the audience to be sympathetic to a teacher turned meth dealer and murderer. On Dexter, we are supposed to root for a serial killer who kills other serial killers. These are shown to be "good" because (like Harry Potter) they are the lesser of two evils (their opponents). To such people there can only be one correct response: "The lesser of two evils is still evil." 

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Sacraments And Death

I write this post with a heavy heart. My best friend from law school is in the hospital suffering greatly from COVID-19. He has some children who are still minors. Neither his wife, children, nor I can see him because the hospital has banned visitors (as have all New York City hospitals) due to the inherent dangers. Please pray for his family and him. This past week, we remembered the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, and our thoughts turn to The Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell. This year, I'm reminded more than ever of these truths than I was in the past. New York City looks like a ghost town compared to what it was usually like just one month ago. The hospitals all have morgues around them to accommodate the bodies of the deceased. I've been working from home and haven't left the house in many days, in order to keep my family and myself safe. My friend is struggling to survive, and it pains me to no end.

Not to be morbid, but death will one day come for us all, and we must be prepared. "Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer." (St. Luke 16:2). One of the ways we must be ready is to make sure we, and our loved ones, receive the Sacraments; especially in danger of death. I see the bravery of the Traditionalist priests and the attendant cowardice of the Vatican II sect clergy, some of whose "bishops" agree they should not give the Last Rites (invalid anyway) to their parishioners in hospitals, but instead have nurses "pray for them" during this pandemic.  "But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth..." (St. John 10:12).

We all know when we should call for a priest when someone is in danger of death--or do we? One of my friends (much older than me), was one of the first male nurses in NYC. He worked in a Catholic hospital which, after 1964, fell as another "victim of Vatican II." It was 1972, and droves of priests started leaving the priesthood. The new "priests" were invalidly ordained, and they had embraced whole-heartedly the Modernism of the new sect. Almost all of the chaplains in his hospital left to cover parishes or left the priesthood. At this point they only had one chaplain left; a monsignor in his late fifties who was ordained in the early 1940s.  During an operation, my friend relates that the procedure was not going well for the patient. The surgeon, a member of the Vatican II sect, asked my nurse friend to "call the priest, I don't think he's going to make it." He called for the chaplain immediately and returned to assist the doctor.

Ten minutes later, the patient went into cardiac arrest, and they were working furiously to save his life. After twenty minutes or so, the doctor said it was no use, and he pulled the sheet up over the man on the operating table. My friend said a brief prayer for his soul, and went outside the doors to the OR. Just then, the monsignor arrived out of breath. "I'm here," he announced, "I had two other patients needing the Last Rites." My friend shook his head and said, "It's too late monsignor. He passed." The monsignor turned red with anger, "Stand aside!" he screamed. "It's never too late!" Stunned, my friend stood aside, and the priest went in to administer the Sacraments. This priest knew from his seminary training (and still believed it) that death is not as easy to determine as many assume.

This post will explore when, exactly, death occurs, and how the Last Rites are to be administered to those who are pronounced/considered dead.

Preliminary Considerations Concerning Death
Doctors themselves are not certain the exact moment death takes place. In the words of Dr. Cory Franklin, an intensive care unit director:

What is the exact moment when death occurs? The outer boundaries are obvious — a walking, talking individual is alive, a body with rigor mortis is not — but the precise instant when a person is considered dead is uncertain.

If the heart stops beating long enough, the person dies. But a stopped heart often can be restarted; this is routine during heart surgery. Likewise, someone who stops breathing can be kept alive by a mechanical ventilator. If both the heart and breathing cease, physicians may institute CPR. When the physician decides to stop CPR and declare a person "dead" is a matter of discretion, not an established fact.
(See,amp.html; Emphasis mine).

Dr. Franklin also correctly describes the two means of declaring death, "Death might now be declared in two ways — if a person's heart and lungs ceased functioning or if there was no brain activity." (Ibid). The former is called clinical death, and the latter is biological death. 

There are some things that happen prior to death that show (a) death is near and (b) the person is not as "out of it" as was thought. Cheyne-Stokes breathing is a cycle of anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes where the dying person's breathing deepens and speeds up, then gets shallower and shallower until it stops.Then there is a pause, which can sometimes stretch on so long that you think the person has stopped breathing altogether before the cycle resumes. It is sometimes called the "death rattle" because of the sound. This is because the dying person is not clearing their throat or swallowing. Take solace that there is little evidence of distress or discomfort.

Around this time, terminal lucidity, or lightening up may occur. It was first described in the medical literature as early as 1833. It refers to a period of awareness or consciousness, sometimes a complete return to form and personality in someone who may have been gone (for all intents and purposes) due to Alzheimer's disease, brain tumors, vascular dementia, etc. Just as a light bulb burns brightest before going dark forever, this happens in many people. How can brain damage magically repair itself, even for a short time? Many consider this a sign of the soul working outside the normal route of the brain.

The Lazarus Syndrome
This phenomena, described in the medical literature since 1982, is so named after Jesus' friend Lazarus, whom Our Lord raised from the dead after four days (the name "Lazarus Syndrome" or sometimes "Lazarus Phenomenon" was coined in 1983). (See St. John 11:38-44). There have been thirty-eight (38) confirmed cases since 1982 of people pronounced dead, but they were not. According to the Journal JRSM Open:

The Lazarus phenomenon or the unassisted return of spontaneous circulation after cardiac arrest is a grossly under-reported phenomenon in medical literature which essentially implies the "resurrection" of an individual after cardiac arrest. Although there have been a handful of such cases reported, the clinical incidence and significance may be underestimated. Because of the presumed infrequency of this condition, there are no studies specifically researching Lazarus phenomenon in scientific literature. (See Vaibhav Sahni, The Lazarus Phenomenon 

The cases are incredible:
  • 91 year old Janina Kolkiewicz was declared dead. Eleven hours later, she woke up in the morgue asking for tea and pancakes
  • In 2014, a 78-year-old man from Mississippi was declared dead after a hospice nurse found him with no pulse. The next day, he woke up in a body bag at the morgue
  • In 2014 came a report of an 80-year-old woman who had been "frozen alive" in a hospital morgue after being wrongly pronounced dead
And it's not only the cardiac arrest victims, but brain death as well:
  • St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse, NY came under fire in 2014 when incorrectly declaring a woman as brain dead following a drug overdose. The woman awoke shortly after being taken to the operating room for organ harvesting
  • In May 2015, 14 year old Taylor Hale was declared irreversibly brain dead. A friend of the family, a chiropractor by profession, went in and prayed for her. She awoke and made a complete recovery
(See; See also,; See also 

What causes the Lazarus Syndrome? No one knows for sure; there is no medical consensus. The delayed return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) after CPR has ceased in cardiac arrest patients, accounts for many cases of Lazarus Syndrome. What causes ROSC to happen after some time has passed? Some hypotheses include a pressure buildup in the chest caused by CPR. Once CPR is ceased, this pressure may gradually release and kick-start the heart back into action. It could be a delayed action of medication, or hyperkalemia, whereby blood levels of potassium are too high. (See

 For "brain death" or the apparent finding of someone dead, who then comes "back to life," there are other hypotheses, which include hypothermia. The low body temperature can cause heartbeat and breathing to slow to the point where it is almost undetectable. Another theory is catalepsy, which is characterized by a trance-like state, slowed breathing, reduced sensitivity, and complete immobility, which can last from minutes to weeks. The condition may arise as a symptom of neurological disorders. Finally, there's "locked in syndrome," whereby a patient is aware of their surroundings, but they experience complete paralysis of voluntary muscles, with the exception of muscles that control eye movement. (See All of this makes the person appear dead. 

Two points to be learned from the above:

1. Organ donation is good and honorable but don't let anyone know in advance of death. Someone should produce the legal documentation after death is certain.

2.  The soul may not leave the body when we think it does, thereby permitting the person to receive the Sacraments.

The Sacraments Administered to the Seemingly Dead
 This section is condensed and taken from the theological tome Death Real and Apparent in Relation to the Sacraments, written by theologian Ferreres in 1906, during the reign of Pope St. Pius X. Fr. Ferreres was Professor of Moral Theology and Canon Law, at the Collegium Maximum, in Tortosa, Spain. Also used is the work of theologian Halligan,  The Administration of the Sacraments (1962). Most of this section comes from those two theological works, and some small commentary added by me---Introibo. 

Thesis: It is possible to save, by administration of the Sacraments, the souls of adults apparently dead.  It is certain that an adult, whilst still alive and in possession of requisite dispositions, is capable of receiving some of the Sacraments, no matter how strongly outward appearances may indicate a state of death. It is certain, likewise, that on receiving or not receiving these Sacraments may depend the salvation of his soul. 

1. The Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism may be conditionally applied in the case of someone who appears (or has been pronounced) dead, and is not baptized, but there is reason to believe he implicitly desires baptism (not being a catechumen). Maybe he inquired about Catholicism or has Catholic relatives that he joined at Mass. If he also has attrition (sorrow for his sins because of the fear of punishments and Hell), Baptism would be valid if the soul has not left the body. Baptism of Desire (BOD) requires supernatural contrition, and is a rare miracle of God upon which no one should rely, as the Sacrament is the normative means of conferring Church membership and forgiveness of sins. Hence, the person who knows and may believe the essential truths of faith, may implicitly desire baptism and have contrition. Baptism may be conditionally conferred. In the case of someone who was mentally retarded or habitually insane from childhood, baptism would certainly be valid, and need not be conditional.

2. The Sacrament of Penance
A Catholic who is apparently dead, may have absolution given conditionally in the hope that he had at least elicited an act of attrition and needs the Sacrament. Perhaps he even elicits it in a kind of "locked in" state prior to the soul separating from the body. According to theologian Noldin, the first six minutes after what is commonly called "the moment of death," might not be real death (the soul not yet having left the body), and the Sacraments may be administered. Since brain cells don't start to die until oxygen deprivation reaches about 5 to six minutes, it is a reasonable hypothesis that the soul may still be functioning through the brain and has not left the body.

3. The Sacrament of Extreme Unction
A Catholic in the state of apparent death should be given Extreme Unction. It is universally taught by the theologians that Extreme Unction will wipe away even mortal sin, provided that the person had elicited an act of attrition, and is unable to confess or make an Act of Contrition.

4. How Long Must We Consider Someone "Possibly Alive"?
The common teaching of the theologians is that in cases of extreme necessity (which these cases fall under), the Sacraments may and should be administered conditionally, even though, through the apparent lack of one or more of the essential requisites, their validity be very doubtful--and this despite the fact that the Sacrament's validity be only slightly probable or have little foundation or be based on the opinion of others.

If faced with the possibility of death (you or a loved one) do not wait until you think it must be done immediately. Give the person reasonable time; as well as giving the priest time to get to the hospital/hospice/home. Remember that any  validly ordained priest can give the Last Rites in danger of death, or when someone appears dead,and no Traditionalist priest is available. This includes priests validly ordained prior to Vatican II, Eastern Schismatic priests, even a complete apostate who abandoned his vocation. If conscious, you cannot agree to accept their errors; if that is not imposed, you may receive the Sacraments from them. 

In the case of Vatican II priests, make sure they use the Traditional Rite for Extreme Unction. It is always good to invest in a Rituale Romanum published in 1962 or prior, as they probably don't have one and forgot how to properly and validly administer the Sacrament. Most might not have the valid matter to anoint. The proper matter is "Olive oil alone[blessed by a bishop]" (Catechism of the Council of Trent). The Holy Office declared (September 14,1842), that "it is rash and close to error, to assert that this sacrament could be valid with another oil." The Vatican II sect has virtually no more valid bishops to bless anything. In addition to this problem, according to "Pope" Paul VI's "Apostolic Constitution" Sacram unctionem infirmorum, November 30, 1972, "The sick are to be anointed with blessed olive oil or, as circumstances suggest, with another oil extracted from plants." (Emphasis mine). At least they can give a valid absolution. You're better off with an Eastern Schismatic where there is no Traditionalist priest. 

Most importantly, don't turn a priest away because the sick person "just died." As that priest rightfully yelled, "It's never too late!"

Monday, April 6, 2020

When Strangers Come Knocking---Part 8

This is the next installment of my series to be published the first Monday of each month.

There are members of false sects, like Jehovah's Witnesses, that come knocking door-to-door hoping to convert you. Instead of ignoring them, it is we who should try and convert them. In 1 Peter 3:16, our first Pope writes, "But in thy hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks thee to give the reason for the hope that thou hast. But do this with gentleness and respect,..." Before the Great Apostasy, the Church would send missionaries to the ends of the Earth to make as many converts as possible. 

Those in false religions don't always come (literally) knocking at your door. It may be a Hindu at work who wants you to try yoga. It could be a "Christian Scientist" who lives next door and invites you to come to their reading room. Each month, I will present a false sect. Unlike the Vatican II sect, I do not see them as a "means of salvation" or possessing "elements of truth" that lead to salvation. That is heresy. They lead to damnation, and the adherents of the various sects must be converted so they may be saved.

In each month's post, I will present one false sect and give an overview of:  

  • The sect's history
  • Their theology
  • Tips on how to share the True Faith with them
The Word-Faith Movement
You've probably seen him on TV, or read about him in the papers. His books (ten as of this writing), are all over the market, both in hard-copy and as e-books. Handsome, well-dressed, and charismatic, Joel Osteen (b. 1963) is part of the Word-Faith Movement (sometimes called the prosperity Gospel), and he has powerful incentives to make converts.  The Word-Faith Movement is somewhat nebulous in the sense that it is not an explicit Protestant sect. There is no organizational hierarchy, there are no elected leaders, there is no formal confession or doctrinal statement to which their followers must subscribe. As a matter of fact, there is nothing that binds these preachers together except their core doctrines and desire for wealth.  

Besides Osteen, Word-Faith preachers encompass such names as Kenneth Hagin (d. 2009), Benny Hinn (b. 1952), Kenneth Copeland (b. 1936), Paul and Jan Crouch ([founders of Trinity Broadcasting Network television]; Paul d. 2013, Jan d. 2016), Joyce Meyer (b. 1943), Joseph Prince (b. 1963), and T.D. Jakes (b. 1957). If any of these names are familiar to you, or you know someone who is a follower,the common thread that runs through all of their teachings, is that you will have health and wealth, which can be reached or attained through what is called "positive confession" or "acts of faith" such as donating money to them or throwing away medicines.

Osteen's book, The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today (2015) gives an excellent example of what the Movement is all about:

Lacy began to describe how she wasn’t fulfilled; she was lonely and she perceived her coworkers as more talented. She made statements such as, "I am unattractive. I am unlucky. I am a slow learner. I am always tired." After five minutes of listening to Lacy, I knew exactly what was holding her back. Her "I am"s. What follows those two simple words will determine what kind of life you live. "I am blessed. I am strong. I am healthy." Or, "I am slow. I am unattractive. I am a lousy mother." The "I am"s coming out of your mouth will bring either success or failure. (p. 1). 

The Word-Faith Movement believes that the human mind and tongue contain a supernatural "power." When a person is expressing his faith in (alleged) Divine Laws, his positive thoughts and verbal expression will produce a "divine force" that will heal, produce wealth, bring success, and even change the environment. Kenneth Copeland claimed to have healed his followers through their television screens. According to Newsweek magazine:

 Conservative televangelist Kenneth Copeland told viewers of his ministry's program that they were "healed" of the coronavirus disease as he prayed while asking them to touch their televisions screens to receive the spiritual healing.

Copeland's bizarre message to his followers during a "special report" on his Victory channel, titled "Standing Against Coronavirus," was first reported by Right Wing Watch on Thursday. In a clip of his prayer, the Christian pastor reaches his outstretched hand toward the camera, asking viewers to draw close and touch their screens.

"Thank you, Lord Jesus. He received your healing," the religious leader said in the video, bowing his head. "Now say it: I take it. I have it. It's mine. I thank you and praise you for it."

He went on: "According to the word of God, I'm healed. And I consider not my own body. I consider not symptoms in my body. But only that which God has promised." (See 

The four fundamental points of the Word-Faith Movement can be summarized thus:
  • God speaks things into existence 
  • People are God’s offspring and created in God’s image 
  • Before the Fall, humanity had the same ability to speak things into existence 
  • After "becoming Christian" (or "born again"), humans regain the ability to speak things, situations and circumstances into existence

The "God" Who Needs Faith in Himself?
In Osteen's book cited above, it tells you that the "magic words" of faith ("I am"--which only God can ascribe to Himself), can bring negative things or positive things depending on your use of the magic words:

Here’s the principle. Whatever follows the “I am” will eventually find you. When you say, "I am so clumsy," clumsiness comes looking for you. "I am so old." Wrinkles come looking for you. "I am so overweight." Calories come looking for you. It’s as though you’re inviting them. Whatever you follow the "I am" with, you’re handing it an invitation, opening the door, and giving it permission to be in your life...Get up in the morning and invite good things into your life. "I am blessed. I am strong. I am talented. I am wise. I am disciplined. I am focused. I am prosperous." When you talk like that, talent gets summoned by Almighty God: "Go find that person." Health, strength, abundance, and discipline start heading your way. (pg.2)

Osteen's "God" is nothing more than a genie in a bottle. If a good (positive) person releases the genie, you wish for (and get) good wishes. If a bad (negative) person releases the genie, you wish for (and get) bad things. Here are the key terms of Christianity as reinterpreted by Word-Faith preachers:

God: A supernatural Being Who must obey spiritual laws. He must have Faith in His own power for miracles. The spiritual laws to which God is somehow subordinate, can be manipulated by people to get God to do their bidding.

Jesus Christ: God's Son, Who came to Earth in order to save us from sin, sickness, poverty, and failure. After the Crucifixion, He went to Hell where He was tortured by demons (!), and then was "born again" to personally communicate the "Faith way" to Word-Faith preachers. 

Faith: A spiritual force that can manipulate "God." 

The Bible: God's "Book of Success" which needs to be reinterpreted by Word-Faith preachers. 

Humans: Potential "gods." 

The unscrupulousness of these preachers is astounding. "God" tells them things people want to hear. One such preacher, Robert Tilton (b. 1946), was sued in 1992 for 40 million dollars, when he told the wife of a wealthy man God was going to heal him. There was just one problem. The wife was actually the widow; the man had died, and was beyond healing (nor did Tilton raise him from the dead). 

The Word-Faith-Occult Connection
There are many similarities to the occult in the Word-Faith Movement. It's obvious the Movement's conception of God, Christ, Faith, the Bible, etc. are all heretical. These heretical doctrines are very close to many occult/pagan doctrines, such as:

1. The use of magic words to perform "miracles." Both the occult and Word-Faith use special words to effectuate changes over nature. There are those who will object that the same charge was made against Catholics about the form of the Sacraments (necessary words for validity) by Protestants. The form was derided as being "magic words." In particular, the Words of Consecration were attacked as "magic that changes bread into God." The phrase "hocus pocus" was derived from the Protestant blasphemers who said the words spoken by the priest over the bread at Mass (HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM) were "papal hoc-est, poc-est"--corrupted into "hocus pocus," and now spoken at sleight of hand magic shows. 

How is Catholic theology different?  According to theologian Tanqueray, "A miracle is a deed that is sensible, extraordinary, and of divine origin. Hence, since transubstantiation is not sensible, it cannot be considered a miracle in the strict sense. Miracles can only be used to support that which is true and good. It is impossible for God to deceive. Moreover, God would equivalently be producing falsehood if He were performing some miracles in order to demonstrate that some false doctrines or a doctrine that is altogether human has been revealed by Himself. We should recognize that God allows extraordinary things to be performed by the devil." (See A Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Desclee Company, [1959], 1:40-45; Emphasis mine). Hence, since the Sacraments are each a visible sign of an invisible grace, instituted by the historical Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of the human race, the effects are not visible but seen by the eyes of Faith. It is substantially different from voodoo "doctors" claiming a miraculous cure, or Word-Faith claiming miraculous health and wealth comes to you in a visible way.

2. Dialogue with the supernatural. Occultists claim "spirit-guides" talk with them, and Word-Faith preachers have personal audiences with "angels" or "God." 

3.   The end purpose is human self-interest. The occult is all about what people want; the Word-Faith is also about the same, except they claim it is God's Will for your own selfish interests to materialize so you can be happy.

4. Making people "gods." In both the occult and Word-Faith, you can control Nature or God, thereby making you a "god."

Proselytizing Word-Faith Adherents
The Word-Faith Movement attracts people because humans have a wounded nature and are inclined to sin and be selfish. Word-Faith encourages this idea, and tells you that God is some "divine butler" at your beck and call. The Word-Faith Movement also professes the heretical Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (the Bible alone) as the Rule of Faith. You can use this as a starting point to get them rethinking not only Word-Faith, but the heresy of sola scriptura; but do it one step at a time.

Here are some tips:
1. In this case, it is not ad hominem to present the stark contradictions between Word-Faith preachers and the teachings of the Bible. One preacher, Frederick K.C. Price (b. 1932), is quoted as saying, "The whole point is I’m trying to get you to see – to get you out of this malaise of thinking that Jesus and the disciples were poor and then relating that to you—thinking that you, as a child of God, have to follow Jesus. The Bible says that He has left us an example that we should follow His steps. That’s the reason why I drive a Rolls Royce. I’m following Jesus’ steps." (See transcript of "Ever Increasing Faith" program on TBN [ December 9,1990]). Yet did not Jesus tell the rich young ruler:

"You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." (St. Mark 10:21-25).

While there is nothing wrong with wealth in itself, it becomes an obstacle to Heaven. "For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."(1 Timothy 6:10; Emphasis mine). Are you listening, Word-Faith preachers? We must be poor in spirit. Why didn't Jesus advise the rich young ruler to keep his wealth, if He wants these preachers to have a Rolls Royce? 

2. Have them look at Scripture in context. In 3 John 2, it is written, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." The Word-Faith preachers look on this verse as a promise of prosperity. Again, however, there is nothing in the context to suggest this interpretation. John’s words here are simply a formal greeting akin to the more contemporary, "I hope you are doing well." This text cannot be invoked as expressing God’s unqualified Will that all believers be healthy and prosperous.

3. Word-Faith is contradicted at every turn by the Bible. The preachers reinterpret Scripture to suit their needs and get rich themselves from large donations. Christ Himself said, "For the poor you have always with you: but Me you have not always." (St. Matthew 26:11).  The things of God are more important than the things of Earth. Virtually every book of the Bible tells us we will suffer in this life. Nevertheless, St. Peter says we are to "rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ." (1 Peter 4:13). 

4. St. Peter tells us that suffering is connected to God's Will, "So then those that suffer according to God's Will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." (1 Peter 4:19). It is usually God's permissive Will whereby we suffer, but sometimes God will positively inflict punishments as He did to the Egyptians when the refused to release the Jews from captivity. (Book of Exodus). 

5. Finally, the idea that saying negative things will, ipso facto, bring negative things is contradicted by Christ Himself who said, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (St. Matthew 6:34; Emphasis mine).  God did not tell us we could "wish away" the troubles of life with "magic words."

The Word-Faith Movement is the apex of selfish gain for those who invoke God to justify their avarice. It turns the Bible's message about God and mammon on its head. It is occultic in its teachings. The idea of Christ suffering in Hell with demons tormenting Him so He could be "born again" is so blasphemous there are no words strong enough to condemn it. Finally, we have the magic "I am" words. God is the only "I AM"! Here's what Kenneth Copeland had to say July 9, 1987 on his "Believers Voice of Victory," Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN):
"When I read in the Bible where He (Christ) says, I AM, I just smile and say, "I AM TOO." 

Copeland (literally) declared himself "God." Think well on this: "And Jesus answering, said to them: Take heed that no man seduce you: For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many." (St. Matthew 24:4-5; Emphasis mine).