Jews Are Not Israel Or The Chosen People
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
SOLDIERS OF THE CHURCH MILITANT
Our Canonized Saints At War
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you also. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them who foretold of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and the murderers.”
When he had concluded these words, the speaker was led away and stoned to death by his audience.
Now, before anyone seizes upon this episode as an argument for always speaking politely, we had better note that, although the above utterance did anger the Jews of Jerusalem to the point of murder, it won for its author, Saint Stephen, the glorious and eternal recompense of being Christ’s Protomartyr: the first to shed his blood for the Catholic Faith.
Since Saint Stephen’s time, speeches like his have been no rarity in the annals of the Church. For it has become increasingly clear through the centuries that the kind of talk that gets you into trouble may also get you canonized.
Despite representations made by the modern school of hagiographers, the saints are not always smiling, are not always mild-mannered and consoling, do not have a good word for everyone. The saints find this world a far-from-rosy place, and are breathtakingly blunt in announcing their findings. Whether they are berating the enemies of Christ, or giving Christians a needed prodding, or simply insisting on the truths of the Catholic Faith, they leave no doubt that one requirement for being an exemplary member of the Church Militant is a measure of militancy.
A notion of the impact that the saints have made as preachers can be inferred from the titles that have been both popularly and officially bestowed on them: Saint Anthony of Padua, “Hammer of Heretics”; Saint John Capistrano, “Scourge of the Jews”; and Saint Gaspar del Bufalo, “Hammer of Freemasons.”
Of these three, Saint John Capistrano has undoubtedly had the most competitors for his title. During two thousand years, the Jews have remained the most tenacious, dangerous foes of Christ and His Church; and saints in every age have lashed out against them. A typical expression of this saintly anti-Jewishness are the following unminced words of Saint John Chrysostom, fourth century Bishop of Constantinople and Doctor of the Universal Church: “The synagogue is worse than a brothel ... it is the den of scoundrels, and the repair of wild beasts, the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults ... a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ ... a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, a refuge of devils, a gulf and abyss of perdition ... Whatever name even more horrible could be found will never be worse than the synagogue deserves.”
Earlier in the fourth century, an eighteen-year-old girl of Alexandria had taken it on herself to do some equally straightforward preaching. Summoned before the Emperor of the East, Catherine of Alexandria had won for herself a martyr’s crown by announcing to the enraged tyrant: “Furthermore, it is necessary for you to believe the Catholic Faith and to be baptized, as must every man to save his soul!”
The sad realization that courage like Saint Catherine’s was vanishing from the world moved Saint Gregory VII, just before his death in 1085, to excoriate Christendom with this appraisal: “There are in the world thousands of men who risk death every day at the summons of their lords. Yet, when the interests of the King of Heaven, our Redeemer, are at stake, how many Christians shrink, not from death only, but even from the hatred of other men! And the few — thanks be to God for those few — who dare to resist the wicked openly, and to face death, are not only unsupported by their brethren, but are accused by them of imprudence, and indiscretion, and are treated as fools.”
It was, in large part, the strength of Saint Gregory VII that made it possible for another pope, Blessed Urban II, to organize the First Crusade in 1095. Blessed Urban’s rallying-cry to the Catholic world (“Mark out a path all the way to the Holy Sepulchre, and snatch the Holy Land from that abominable people.”) has a doubly-sharp significance in our day, when the Land of Christ has been given over to His Crucifiers. Likewise meaningful today, are the fiery words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who preached the Second Crusade: “Will you allow the infidels to contemplate in peace the ravages they have committed? The living God has charged me to declare to you that He will punish them who will not avenge Him against His enemies.”
Blessed Bernardine of Feltre, fifteenth century Franciscan friar, besides perpetuating the name of the great Saint Bernard, continued also the high tradition of Catholic preaching. Here is a part of one of his discourses, on a perennial theme: “Canon law prohibits all intercourse with Jews, especially their employment as physicians. The presence of Christians at Jewish feasts is expressly indicted. Yet the Jew Leo celebrated the wedding of his son with a feast that lasted eight days, and how many crowded to his banquets, to his balls! In the present day, nearly everyone who is suffering from illness openly calls in a Jewish doctor.”
Perhaps the most outstanding holy preacher of modern times is Saint John Mary Vianney, the beloved Cure of Ars. The following extract from a sermon delivered by this heavenly patron of all parish priests will indicate that, among the saints, soft talk and watered doctrine are still anathema: “My children, why are there no Sacraments in other religions? Because there is no salvation there. We have the Sacraments at our disposal because we belong to the religion of salvation.”
If anyone should object that the militancy of the saints is not fairly proved by quoting from their sermons — since preaching is a rather rough and tumble business, anyway — we can offer more striking evidence. It is contained in what the saints say when they are, by anyone’s standards, polemically off-guard — in the fragments that have been preserved from their prayers. The following, for instance, is from the Revelations of Divine Love by fourteenth-century mystic, Blessed Juliana of Norwich: “ ... I saw not so properly specified the Jews that did Him to death. Notwithstanding, I knew in my Faith that they were accursed and condemned without end, saving those that were converted by grace.”
The great Jesuit missionary, Saint Francis Xavier, has left us a sample of the way he stormed Heaven, in his famous “Prayer for Infidels.” Lately, non-saints have taken to editing this prayer, so as to minimize its contrast with their own emasculated professions of Faith. Here is the uncensored version, as Saint Francis Xavier wrote it, and as it used to be said by millions of Catholics during the annual Novena of Grace: “O Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that the souls of infidels have been created by Thee out of nothing, and formed after Thine image and likeness. Behold, O Lord, how, to the dishonor of Thy name, Hell is being filled with these souls ... ”
The year 1958 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen-year-old peasant girl of Lourdes, in France. After her visitation from the Queen of Heaven, Bernadette entered a convent of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers. There she spent the remaining years of her short life, and offered convincing demonstrations that her spiritual fiber was that virile variety from which saints are made. “My gentle Jesus,” she prayed, “give me a great love of the Cross; and if I do not die through the cruelty of the Jews, I will die by the violence of my love.”
As a final and, we hope, clinching instance of prayerful militancy, we offer the following death-bed exclamation of Saint Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus — probably the most loved saint of modern times: “How happy I would have been to fight at the time of the Crusades or, later on, to fight against the heretics. Be assured that I should not have been afraid of the fire. Oh, is it possible that I should die in bed!”
There is certainly no body of writing or tradition in the world which is more confident, direct, and incisive than the doctrinal teachings of the Church’s saints. And this clarity of style extends to their pronouncements on every phase of Catholic belief. Here, for example, is the way a saint, the fourth-century Doctor of the Church, Saint Gregory Nazianzen, writes about the Blessed Virgin Mary: “If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is outside the divine order. If anyone shall say that Christ flowed through the Virgin as through a channel and was not formed in her both in divine and human fashion — ‘divine’ because without the cooperation of man, ‘human’ because conceived in accordance with human law — such a one, too, is an atheist.”
Called by the Church the “Angelic Doctor,” Saint Thomas Aquinas is among the most celebrated of our holy teachers. The celestial qualities of his work, however, do not commit him to ethereal matters, nebulously discussed. To the embarrassment of so many contemporary theologians, Saint Thomas teaches, in a representative passage, that Christian states would be doing a service to God and man if they were to put to death all those whom the Church condemns for spreading heretical doctrines.
And, in his letter, De Regimine Judaeorum, Saint Thomas gives detailed instructions for Catholic rulers who must deal with Jews. He cites as Christian “Law” the principle that “Jews, in consequence of their sin, are or were destined to perpetual slavery; so that sovereigns of states may treat their goods as their own property; with the sole proviso that they do not deprive them of what is necessary to sustain life.” Saint Thomas’ concluding advice: “And to your last question: whether it is correct that all Jews in your realm should be obliged to wear some special sign to distinguish them from the Christians. To this the answer is plain and in conformity with the decision given by the General Council. Jews of both sexes and in all Christian lands should on all occasions be distinguished from other people by some particular dress.”
Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Franciscan contemporary and friend, Saint Bonaventure, enjoyed the unique honor of being the first child to take the part of the Infant Jesus in a public representation of the Holy Crib of Bethlehem. Saint Bonaventure, at the age of two, was placed in a village “manger scene” by Saint Francis of Assisi. And when Bonaventure grew to young manhood and joined Saint Francis’ order, he retained always in his learned teaching the guileless-ness of a child and a sharp Christmas Crib clarity. In his Breviloquium we find this sample: “Because outside the unity of faith and love which makes us sons and members of the Church, no one can be saved, hence if the Sacraments are received outside the Church, they are not effective for salvation, although they are true sacraments. However, they can become useful if one returns to Holy Mother the Church, the only Spouse of Christ, whose sons alone Christ the Spouse deems worthy of inheritance.”
One of the most familiar forms for presenting Christian doctrine is the question-and-answer pattern of the catechism. And of all the compilers of catechisms, none has been more honored by the Church than the Jesuit theologian, Saint Peter Canisius. Writing at the time of the Protestant Revolt, when the unity of Christendom was being sundered, Saint Peter Canisius swept aside all cloudy notions of just who in Europe was still entitled to the Christian name. In his Catechism, he asks: “Who is a Christian?” And answers: “He who confesses the salutary doctrine of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, in His Church. Hence, he who is truly a Christian condemns and detests thoroughly all cults and sects which are found outside the doctrine and Church of Christ everywhere, and among all peoples, as for example, the Jewish, the Mohammedan, and the heretical cults and sects; and he firmly assents to the same doctrine of Christ.”
Beyond the teaching tradition of the great fathers and doctors of the Church, there lies a further and broader field of Christian instruction. Is it that “teaching by example” which makes every one of the saints’ lives a lesson to be studied and learned. Again, as in their writings, sermons, and prayers, it is the sharpness and clarity, the strength and intransigence of their actions which distinguish the life-stories of the saints.
Although there is small likelihood that any of our readers will ever be in a position to expel an entire community of infidel Jews from the limits of a given Christian nation, still, the fact that the Church’s saints in the past have done this (as Saint Louis IX of France did in 1254) is a valuable lesson for Catholics — and in an infidel-ridden country like our own, a consoling one.
More practically (and the examples could be multiplied by thousands) we might learn fortitude in the Faith from Saint Thomas More, who stood out for the true religion against, as he thought, every Catholic bishop in England; we might learn integrity from Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, who threw the gifts of a Calvinist admirer into the flames and told him that in such a manner will heretics burn in Hell; we might learn courage from an apostle like the North American martyr, Saint Isaac Jogues, who escaped once from his savage Indian captors only to beg permission to return to his work among them, and to certain martyrdom.
But from a later American apostle, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the tireless nun who died at Chicago in 1917, we can learn that most important lesson for contemporary Catholics. It has been preserved for us in Mother Cabrini’s own words: “We let ourselves be overcome by human respect, and cease to show ourselves true followers of Our Lord before the world ... We see truth trodden underfoot, and we remain silent. Why? Because we are cowards. Oh, how we need to renew our faith, to rekindle our hearts in the sublime principles of our holy religion.”
Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
ON MAKING THE UNITED STATES CATHOLIC
Reasons For Our Failure
Why is it that the Catholic Church in America, so replete with plant and apparatus, does not bring in enough converts each year to fill up the number of Catholics who leave?
Why is it that the Catholic Church in America still grows only through births and immigration — and not through conversions?
Where are the successors of the Apostles to preach on Main Street, America, the good news of the Gospel?
Where has our zeal for souls gone?
And how did it disappear?
These are questions which the full-grown, able-bodied American Catholic Church cannot ignore much longer. And to begin to answer them honestly, American Catholics will have to go back to certain events of one hundred years ago, where there starts a story which unfolds as follows.
Exactly one century ago this year, on July 7, 1858, Father Isaac Thomas Hecker founded the first natively-American religious congregation. Called the Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle (more commonly, “the Paulists”), Father Hecker’s new order had, as its avowed purpose, the conversion of the United States to the Catholic Faith. It seemed a magnificent objective. But Isaac Thomas Hecker was a strange man, with a strange understanding of the term “conversion.”
Born of Protestant, German-speaking parents, Isaac Hecker spent his early years in New York’s lower East Side. As a young man he became converted to the fashionable tenets of Transcendentalism, then being evangelized by the Concord divines, Emerson and Thoreau. To demonstrate his fidelity to this new religion, young Isaac moved out of the family’s Hester Street home and joined the experiments in communal living being conducted at Brook Farm and, later, at Fruitlands.
It was during this period that Isaac Hecker had his visions. The first of these, of “an angelic something I cannot describe,” so ravished the young seer that he fell desperately in love with it and resolved never to marry. Subsequent visions, Hecker noted in his diary, indicated the future course of his life.
In 1844, Isaac Hecker entered the Catholic Church, averring that “I had been a Catholic in heart all my life, and didn’t know it!” Convinced that he had been chosen as the special instrument of the Holy Ghost for converting America, Hecker applied for admission to the Redemptorists. He was received into the order and — though his seminary superiors were dismayed at his gross inability to grasp the principles of theology, or even to learn the simplest Latin prayers — he was eventually ordained.
Eight years later, the General of the Redemptorists summarily expelled Father Hecker from the order; whereupon the dogged reformer founded the Paulists, and set out in earnest to convert America.
Isaac Hecker never made any secret of what he was up to. He proclaimed boldly that America must not be preached to as Europe had been, but by a “new method.” Bringing America to the Faith would be accomplished not by changing America, but by changing the Faith. He gleefully accepted and justified the title which his Paulist colleagues bestowed on him, “the apostle of reconciliation of the Church with the age.” With his help, Americans would become Catholics “with no spiritual convulsions” (as the Paulists put it), without altering their ways or, substantially, their beliefs.
Father Hecker thought that the Church should appear to Americans as a bustling, up-to-date business corporation; its priests, a staff of resourceful salesmen. “If we wish to attract Americans to the Church,” he asserted, “we must present Catholicism to them as affirming in super-abundance those qualities of character which are distinctively American.”
“Individual initiative” became the angelic virtue in Paulist theology, replacing such apparently outmoded, European virtues as humility, poverty, and obedience. Likewise, any Catholic dogmas that Father Hecker deemed too severe for the American temperament he conveniently ignored, or else tamed through “interpretation.”
Now, if these doctrinal aberrations had been merely the brainstorms of Isaac Thomas Hecker, they would be of small importance in American Catholic history. What makes them of great, and tragic, significance is that they found support in a faction of powerful, liberal American Churchmen. These included Bishop John Keane, rector of Catholic University, who presided over Catholic participation in the notorious World Parliament of Religions; Archbishop John Ireland of Saint Paul, who had advocated sending all the Catholic children of America to public schools; James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, dean of the American hierarchy, who was known to have preached in Protestant churches, even in Masonic Lodges, and to have opposed steadfastly any papal condemnation of American Masonry. These, and others like them, hailed Father Hecker as their champion. “The ideal American priest,” Archbishop Ireland called him; while Cardinal Gibbons appointed him as his personal theologian at the Vatican Council (where Hecker was a leader of the forces opposed to the definition of papal infallibility).
Intoxicated with all this applause, Isaac Hecker got farther and farther from theological home-base. And the liberals watched anxiously to see just how far he would be allowed to go.
It was not until 1899, ten years after Isaac Hecker’s death, that his theories were finally condemned. In an Apostolic Letter (Testem Benevolentiae), addressed to Cardinal Gibbons and the American hierarchy, Pope Leo XIII systematically reproved the errors of Father Hecker. The Church, Pope Leo says, and not individual Catholics, should judge how the Faith is to be presented. “That sense of the sacred dogmas is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has once declared, and is not to be departed from under the specious pretext of a more profound understanding.” Nor are dogmas ever to be suppressed ... “whosoever would do so would rather wish to alienate Catholics from the Church than to bring over to the Church those who dissent from it.”
The reaction of the Catholic liberals to Pope Leo XIII’s letter was (1) to try to prevent its publication; (2) to issue it in faulty translation; (3) to deny that such doctrines had ever been held by any responsible American Catholic; (4) to declare that the Pope was the victim of anti-American intriguers.
But there was also another, and gratifying, reaction to the papal message. It came from those American priests and bishops who were not liberals, who attested that the Hecker errors were indeed being taught in America, and who thanked the Pope for his letter of condemnation. These anti-Heckerites were men like Archbishop Corrigan of New York, Bishop McQuaid of Rochester, Bishop Messmer of Green Bay, and a host of others, in and out of the hierarchy; for as one Catholic paper remarked, the liberals “in truth were never very numerous in the United States but, being restless and noisy, they always professed to be the only true Americans and the only genuine representatives of the Church.”
Pope Leo XIII’s intervention should certainly have ended it all. The message of his letter was unequivocal. Civilta Cattolica, the Roman Jesuit journal which was the champion and comfort of the papacy through all the turbulence of nineteenth-century Masonic Italy, summarized Testem Benevolentiae in 1899: “The practical lesson which we must all draw from Leo XIII’s Apostolic Letter is that Catholic principles do not change whether through the passing of years, or the changing of countries, or new discoveries, or motives of utility. They are always the principles that Christ taught, that the Church made known, that Popes and Councils defended, that the Saints loved, that the Doctors demonstrated. As they are, they must be taken or left. Whoever accepts them in all their fullness and strictness is a Catholic; whoever hesitates, staggers, adapts himself to the times, makes compromises, may call himself by what name he will, but before God and the Church he is a rebel and a traitor.”
As the twentieth century succeeded upon the nineteenth, however, it became clear that the liberals had no fear of being called names, and no notion of mending their ways. Testem Benevolentiae was followed by Saint Pius X’s condemnation of Modernism. Again, liberal theologians were pointed out and reproved by the Holy See for ignoring the fact that “Catholic principles do not change”; again, the liberals assured their ever-increasing flock of friends that the Pope meant someone else, and continued blithely about their business.
By the 1930’s, the shape of the liberal movement in America had changed considerably from the days of its Heckerite beginning. Still operating, the Paulists had branched out from their New York head-quarters, establishing mission centers in several American dioceses, and a novitiate and house of studies under the protective shadow of Bishop Keane’s Catholic University; their pamphlets filled the literature racks in many American parishes; but their comparatively small numbers (right now, about 200 priests) necessarily limited their activities.
Hecker’s order, however, had come to be almost superfluous as a means of spreading his spirit. The liberalism which he occasioned was settling into every corner of the American Church. The fact that no group of American prelates was now trying to match the flashy teamwork of Keane-to-Ireland-to-Gibbons, worked even more in the favor of the liberal cause. Individual bishops and independent theologians, compromising bit by bit the Church’s beliefs and practices, putting aside their commission to be apostles in order to “get along” better in their own immediate circumstances, gave no appearance of a formidable movement of the sort which might call down anew the wrath of Rome.
But a ferment was working, and the result, as it faces us today, might startle even Father Hecker.
What gave Isaac Hecker’s undertaking such honorable status as he started off was that it professed to be a crusade to make Americans Catholics. The Church would never, initially, have suspected a program like that. Father Hecker, it turned out, did not care what Americans believed once he got them into the Church — but he did plead that they should enter.
On this most basic point, the evolved liberalism of the present moment has far out-Heckered Father Isaac. It has built up an elaborate system of seesaw theology which relieves Americans of any obligation to become Catholics. While assuring them in paragraph A that the Catholic Church still believes it is the only True One, our current liberal pats his American neighbors on the back in paragraph B with the more vigorous assurance that their getting into Heaven in no sense requires that they should also get out of bed and into a pew for Sunday morning Mass.
There is no problem here of veiling the Church’s doctrine on indulgences, or minimizing its devotion to Our Blessed Lady, because the present-day liberal, unlike Father Hecker, need not mention Catholic teaching at all. He merely tells non-Catholic Americans to go on as they are going, to be true to their ideals, to live up to their lights, and thus, mysteriously, invisibly, subjectively, implicitly, invincibly-ignorantly, they will wake up on the other side of the grave as full-fledged Roman Catholics, members of the One True Church, subjects of the Pope, and partakers of Eternal Beatitude.
Presented with the above salvational arrangement (which is a scrupulously fair digest of all the current liberal theories), it is not difficult to conclude where apostolic life in the American Church has gone. It has disappeared down the commodious drains of liberal theology. If non-Catholic Americans are as universally hell-bent for Heaven as the question-and-answer columns of the liberal Catholic press maintain, then it is small wonder that Reverend Father Junior Curate suppresses his missionary urges with multiple rounds of golf and frequent trips to the ballpark. Why should he risk offending the general community with his Romish proselytizing if the general community is sanctifying and saving itself quite nicely, thanks, without his priestly ministrations?
Were we to stop at this point, it would appear that the decline of apostolic spirit in the American Church has been a strictly intramural affair, with all the impetus coming from clerical compromisers who have sought to wear their Roman collars in liberal comfort, avoiding the tangles and thickets of an active, practical apostolate. Such an explanation might be convincing, but it would certainly he incomplete. For we could devote a dozen more issues to those outside pressures which have closed in on the apostolic mission of the Church.
These enemies from without are the numerous offspring (both men and movements) of the French Revolution — the progeny of that Judaeo-Masonic union which has been so fatal to the Church in every country. And the most successful of them, in terms of headway made against the Catholic apostolate, is assuredly the interfaith “Brotherhood” campaign.
Through the press, radio, television, motion pictures, through every public means of persuasion, Americans, and perforce American Catholics, have been bombarded with the Brotherhood propaganda. “It’s not his religion that counts” ... “One belief is as good as another” ... ” “We’re all headed in the same direction, anyway” ... etc. Incessant talk like this puts the predatory Catholic convert-maker in practically a criminal class. And figures published in 1955 indicate that the Church’s should-be apostles are going right along with the Brotherhood act. A national poll showed that nearly eighty per cent of America’s Catholic bishops had authorized diocesan participation in that overt Judaeo-Masonic combine, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the country’s chief Brotherhood promoters. We may be certain that the percentage has not lately decreased.
Consequently, we have the sad assurance that America, and the American Catholic Church with it, is fast being subjected to the interfaith religion of Brotherhood — the Christ-less naturalism of the Masons and the Jews. And we are faced with the even sadder reality that Americans are still being denied the clear and salutary challenge of the Catholic Faith — a challenge which we know they can meet with a generosity and a vitality which would bring new blessings to our country, and new saints to our Catholic altars.