|By Fr. Juan Carlos
|Originally printed in
the August 2003 issue of The Angelus
Preface for a Catholic Understanding of History
Two cities have been formed by two loves:
the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God;
the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self….
St. Augustine, The City of God, XIV, 28
This is the history…that Christ calls and
wants all beneath His standard, and Lucifer, on the other hand,
wants all under his…. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual
The Church is Tradition. Essential for her
mission of sanctifying, ruling and teaching is the transmission of
what she herself has received from her divine Founder, from
generation to generation, until the end of time, without change in
its essentials. That is what Archbishop. Lefebvre acknowledged to
have been his life’s mission: Tradidi quod et accepi —I
have transmitted what I have received, and the mission he
entrusted to the Society of St. Pius X.
Thus, in this sense, this article is to be
"traditional," not original. It does not intend to communicate the
more or less sensible reflections of its author about History, but
to transmit the concept that the Church has of her life in the
world and of the life of the world around her in the light of the
immutable revealed principles of which she is the custodian. There
is a Christian view of History that has nothing to do with the
historical rot we are routinely taught. It is a "theology of
history," a vision sub specie æternitatis, an
interpretation of time in terms of eternity, and of human events
in the light of divine Revelation. The Church "reads" the
succession of events in the light of Faith, and discerns in that
bewildering multiplicity the pattern of the providential design of
God, ineluctably moving towards the end intended by the Creator
from all eternity: our beatitude.
Unfortunately, as individuals, many Catholics
ignore or simply reject such a vision. Life in a world molded by
Protestantism has allowed some of its tenets to permeate even into
our Catholic minds and hearts, particularly the assertions that
God’s reality must be theologically distinguished from empirical
reality, to preserve the transcendent sacredness of Christian
truth, that religious reality is an internal phenomenon, and that
the Church is essentially an invisible society of "true
believers," a spiritual thing, which must be separated from the
secular world for the integrity and freedom of both. Some
Catholics have thus become used to thinking of their Faith as an
exclusively private affair of the soul with God, somehow alien to
their personal daily activity in the world, and in practice
totally independent of the political, economic or cultural life of
the world around them. They may still acknowledge the "Social
Kingship of Christ" and even pray for its coming, but for them it
has become an abstract notion, or a term without content, or an
object of "devotion," or whatever you please, but not a feasible
Moreover, starting from the French revolution,
the world we live in has been overwhelmed by Liberalism, the
doctrine for which freedom is the fundamental principle by which
all things are to be judged and organized. In philosophy and
religion, Liberalism is a naturalistic system of thought that, by
exalting human dignity beyond its limits, declares that every man
has the freedom and the right to choose for himself what he feels
is true and good.
Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that
there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as
good as another… revealed religion is not a truth, but a
sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous;
and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what
strikes his fancy.1
These anti-Christian notions, which as such
were long ago condemned by the Church, are now taken for granted
as prime principles of thought and action. This widespread
acceptance has led the contemporary mind, and many of our fellow
Catholics, as Dr. John Rao writes,2 to the conclusion
that the Church’s refusal to adapt to and compromise with the
modern world is absurd or pointless, and that the Catholic
positions on this matter should be either automatically dismissed
as irrational or thoroughly revised to force the Church to
transcend, at long last, her obsolete "defensive modes," the
Counter-Reformation and the Counter-Revolution.
In fact and in spite of many optimistic
assessments and expectations, there is a crisis in the Church and
in the world and this crisis is simply the continuation of a
perpetual battle. There are new skirmishes, new weapons and
ever-renewed armies, but it is the same war. In centuries past,
anti-Catholic adversaries opposed the application of Catholic
principles to society and politics, while today it is Catholicism
itself that is under attack, its substance, its reason for
existing. The triumphant revolutionary Liberalism has assured us
that there is no returning to those questions which, in its mind,
have been settled once and for all. Traditional Catholicism is
denounced as hopelessly backward, as a "fundamentalism" almost on
a par with Islamic terrorism. In the past, the attacks came from
without, with the avowed goal of destroying the Church and the
Catholic Faith, while today the attacks come from within, from men
of the Church, men who "went out from us but they were not of
us," 3 using more devious and efficacious
weapons, under the appearance of good.
Perhaps unknowingly and unwillingly, we have
long cooperated with the visible and invisible forces that battle
against Christ and His one true Church. The battle still goes on.
As long as her enemies subsist and scheme, the Church must fight
with the weapons God has given her, Truth and Grace, doctrine and
The Church will preserve the Spirit of God
only on condition of being at war against the contrary spirit,
the Spirit of Man. Attacked, she must defend herself: it is her
right and her duty. What was said to her Divine Spouse is also
her history: Dominare in medio inimicorum. Always Queen,
always threatened, on earth she has to be militant.4
It is time to open our eyes, and see reality.
The first step is to learn and reflect upon the Catholic view of
History, upon how human events must be seen in the light of Faith.
Without this light, the succession of events is incoherent and
useless the study of History. And once we have seen, then we will
have to choose…
A Mystery of Faith
God is far above us. He is the infinitely Holy,
to Whom no man may draw near and live. He has, nevertheless,
revealed to us the highest of secrets, the mystery of the Trinity.
We would have known nothing of this if God Himself had not
revealed it to us. There is in that sense a coming down of God to
us, of Him "who …inhabiteth light inaccessible: whom no man has
seen, nor can see." 5 Yet, this revelation takes
place under the veil of Faith, and as such, it is open only to the
humble and the pure of heart that He has chosen. The proud and
profane world, to a great extent, will not accept His revelation.6
Throughout the history of His chosen people,
the revelation of God’s mysteries has been gradual, reaching its
climax with the coming of God Himself in the flesh, "the
mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations, but now
is manifested to his saints." 7 The Son has become
man, and, in a way which escapes our full understanding, has shown
the wholeness of His Father: "he that seeth me, seeth the
Father also." 8
It is this mystery of Christ that the Church
transmits to all generations. She herself is the "Mystical Body
of Christ," "and He is the head of the body, the Church."
9 Indeed, the mission of the Son into the world is
continued by the mission of the Apostles (and, therefore, of the
Church) into the world: "as the Father hath sent me, I also
send you." 10 As Christ discloses to us His
divinity, and as the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, makes
Christ’s mystery known to us, likewise Christendom is, in an
analogical manner, a manifestation or revelation of Christ’s
mystery. This is what Christendom properly is: the manifestation
of Christ’s mystery through the social body of the nations.
Christendom is, in an analogical manner, Christ’s incarnation in
the socio-political order.
Christendom in Concrete
Christendom is "a social fabric in which
religion penetrates down to the last corners of temporal life
(customs, uses, games and work…), a civilization in which the
temporal is unceasingly infused by the eternal." 11
Concretely, it is the ensemble of peoples who want to live
publicly according to the laws of the Holy Gospel, which is
deposited with Mother Church for her to guard it.
In Christendom, there is the certainty that
religion and life, united, form an indissoluble whole. Without
deserting the world, but without losing sight of the true sense of
life, it ordains the whole of human existence towards a unique
goal, "adhaerere Deo," "prope Deum esse," towards
the contact with God, the friendship of God, being convinced that
outside Him there is no lasting peace, either for the heart of man
or for society or for the community of nations.12
Christendom sees life on earth as a journey
towards life everlasting. The teachings of the Faith are the
directing principle of civilization —directive of minds, morals,
institutions, all activities of men. The supreme science is
Theology, which reasons from the teachings of Faith, draws out
their consequences and judges of everything in the light of that
same Faith. Philosophy remains as such, proceeding from natural
reason, but the philosopher, in the same light of Faith, is able
to avoid the errors towards which he is inclined because of the
wounds of Original Sin. Sciences are the work of human reason, but
they are useful to admire the workings of God in His Creation.
Literature and the Arts arise from natural talents, but their
inspiration is rooted in intelligence and sensibility penetrated
by Faith and animated by the love of God and neighbor. Technology
and crafts are at the service of a life made for eternity.
Political life retains its proper object and finality, the
temporal good, and is ruled by temporal powers distinct from the
Church. The State is a sovereign power, not directly subordinated
to the Church, but the exercise of its temporal tasks is
illuminated by the teachings of the Church, promoting and
facilitating her apostolate, never forgetting that the earthly
life of men is for eternal life.13
Christendom existed from the conversion of
Constantine to the French revolution, when the spiritual
sovereignty of the Church was completely and formally rejected.
Since then, Christendom has progressively disappeared. Only has
remained the Church with its external organization, and even that
has been now seriously shaken by the present crisis. Many peoples
remained Catholic after the revolution, and the residual habits of
a Christian order, although weakened and weakening further,
survived still. But Christendom is not simply an ensemble of
peoples in which Christianity predominates. Christianity may exist
without Christendom. Christendom exists only when the individual
and social action of Catholics reaches and shapes the political
order as such, the very life of a nation. Socially speaking, then,
to convert the world means to turn it back into Christendom.
Christendom and Church
Christendom is not the Church. In consequence,
although there is only one Church, there may be multiple "Christendoms,"
by reason of the diversity inherent in the earthly life of men,
according to different times and places. The Church is not tied
exclusively to one concrete realization of Christendom. The Church
exists even if there is no Christendom (as in the first three
centuries of the Christian era), and she continues to save and
sanctify men amidst utterly foreign cultures, mentalities, customs
History proves to what extent the Church has
always respected the distinctive characteristics, the particular
and legitimate contributions of different peoples. Faithful to
her divine mandate of procuring the salvation of souls, she has
always opposed that religious particularism which pretends that
revelation and salvation are the prerogative of one civilization
rather than of another.14
There is no sin in the Church; whatever is
sinful in her members does not belong to her. But Christendom is
affected by the sins of its members, who can impose on it grave
defects and deviations. All "Christendoms" are imperfect, because
men are imperfect. The Church will continue forever with her work
of salvation and sanctification, but Christendom, like all things
of this world, is perishable. Only the Church will survive all the
vicissitudes of History until the end of time.
In common use, the term "revolution" is an
emphatic synonym for "fundamental change," a major, sudden, and
hence typically violent alteration in government and in related
associations and structures. A revolution constitutes a challenge
to the established order and the eventual establishment of a new
order radically different from the preceding one. In this sense,
it is the triumph of a principle subversive of the existing order.
There have always been revolutions in human
societies, but Revolution with a capital "R" is (paradoxically) a
modern phenomenon. The French revolution in all its stages, from
the most moderate to the most cruel, is only a manifestation of
Revolution, which is a principle, rather than an event. Revolution
is the systematic denial of legitimate authority, it is rebellion
raised into a principle and right and law.
I am not what men believe. Many talk about
me, but they know me little. I am not Carbonarism… I am not the
street riots…or the change of the monarchy for a republic, or
the substitution of one dynasty for another, or the temporary
perturbation of the public order. I am not the howls of the
Jacobins, or the fury of the "Mountain," or the fight in the
barricades, or pillage and arson, or the agrarian laws, or the
guillotine and the massacres. I am not Marat, or Robespierre, or
Babeuf, Mazzini or Kossuth [or Hitler or Stalin…]. These men are
my children, but they are not me. Those actions are my works,
but they are not me. These men and those actions are passing
events, while I am a permanent state….I am the hatred of any
order that has not been established by Man himself, and in which
he is not king and god at the same time. I am the proclamation
of the rights of Man without any regard for the rights of God. I
am God dethroned and Man put in his place. For that reason my
name is Revolution, that is, reversal.15
A "Mystery of Iniquity"
From a religious point of view, Revolution can
be defined as the legal denial of the reign of Christ on earth,
the social destruction of the Church. Revolution necessarily
involves the Faith. Our contemporaries have lost a religious
sense of the world and of events. Revolution appears therefore
essentially as political, and only accidentally as religious.
Such a view is erroneous because while Revolution could
accommodate any political regime, it is always hostile to
Catholicism. He who believes in the divinity of Christ and in
the divine mission of the Church (if he is logical) cannot be a
revolutionary. All power has been given to Christ, in heaven and
on earth, and He has entrusted to the ecclesiastical hierarchy the
mission of teaching what is necessary to do the will of God.
Therefore, no society can refuse this infallible teaching. The
State, as much as the individuals and families, must obey God in
its laws and institutions. On the other hand, he who does not
believe in the divine mission of the Church usually concludes that
she tyrannically encroaches upon the freedom and the rights of
man, and, therefore, labors to bring her down to liberate man. The
die, then, is cast, and there is no room for neutrality. "He
that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with
me scattereth." 16
Revolution itself is a faith. It is faith
in the inevitable progress of mankind towards a new order, a
better world, to be achieved solely by human effort, without the
intervention of God. It is faith in the possibility of realizing
here on earth, by natural means, what cannot be realized except in
eternity, by supernatural means.17
Revolution is a "mystery of iniquity."
Satan is the father of all rebellions. "Non serviam!" The
Revolution begun in Heaven is perpetuated in mankind under the
action of Satan. The Fall introduced the spirit of pride and
revolt, which is the principle of Revolution. The evil has grown,
burrowing deeper in the hearts and minds of men and in the fabric
of societies, from ancient heresies and medieval laicism to
Humanism and Protestantism, to the Enlightenment and Rousseau,
until it took institutional form in the French revolution. From
hence, proceeding towards the heart of the Church, the end is in
sight: "The French revolution is the precursor of a greater
revolution, more solemn, which will be the last." 18
The essence of Revolution is satanic;
its goal is the destruction of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Blessed Pius IX has said it clearly: "The Revolution is
inspired by Satan himself. Its goal is the destruction of the
building of Christianity, to reconstruct upon its ruins the social
order of paganism." 19
Revolution is, then, a religious mystery
children of the Revolution have made this equally clear:
"Catholicism must fall! It is not a question of refuting Papism,
but of extirpating it —not
only to extirpate it, but to dishonor it —not
only to dishonor it, but to smother it in the muck." 20
The Church, enlightened by Christ and being thus alone in
understanding the true character of the Revolution, has since the
beginning been its natural enemy.
The Christian view of History is not merely a
belief in the direction of historical events by Divine Providence,
but also a belief in the intervention of God in the life of
mankind by direct action at certain definite points in time and
place. The Incarnation, the central doctrine of the Faith, is also
the center of History, giving a spiritual unity to the whole
historic process. As St. Irenaeus pointed out, there is a
necessary relation between the divine Unity and the unity of
History: "…there is one Father the Creator of man, and one Son
who fulfills the Father’s will, and one human race in which the
mysteries of God are worked out so that the creature conformed and
incorporated with His Son is brought to perfection."
After a providential preparation in the old
Dispensation, Christ came in the "fullness of time."
21 From the moment of the Annunciation, Calvary, Easter and
Pentecost, we live in this absolute fulfillment. Christ is the
pivot of History, revealing that the succession of events is not a
fatalistic chain of causes and effects, but has been ordained by
God from all eternity. Theologically speaking, then, the history
of the world is no more than the realization of the divine purpose
for and in mankind, and, concomitantly, the history of the war
between Christ and Satan, between His Church and the Revolution.
There are three realities confronted in
History.22 On one side, the City of God, as Christ has
made it forever: holy, immaculate, invincible, destined to be
configured to Him by the Cross and charity, destined to carry her
cross all the time of her earthly pilgrimage, but assured of her
infallible victory through the Cross. On the other side, the City
of Satan, her enemy, with its false doctrines and its seductions,
a divided City of conflict and hatred, united only in its
opposition to God, always enraged against the City of God,
seemingly victorious at times, but always ending in failure. And
in between, the "carnal cities," our countries and
civilizations, which, although having only an earthly finality,
are never neutral: knowingly or not, they are under the dependence
of either the City of God or the City of Satan.
As we are living in this "fullness of time,"
there is no question of expecting something beyond the redeeming
Incarnation of the Son of God, or of altering the immutable
constitution of the Church, given by God Himself. The Church will
always have sinners and traitors; she will always have to carry
the Cross with her Spouse. The earthly cities will never become an
earthly paradise; the diabolic poisons will always infect them,
and the Church will unceasingly try to heal them, inspiring their
restoration in conformity to the law of Christ. The continuation
of History, the trials and victories of the Church, the efforts of
Christendom, all these exist in view of the perfection of the
Even the wars, persecutions and all the other
evils which have made the history of empires terrible to read
and more terrible to live through, have had only one purpose:
they have been the flails with which God has separated the wheat
from the chaff, the elect from the damned. They have been the
tools that have fashioned the living stones which God would set
in the walls of His City.23
However, the succession of centuries has also
an earthly, temporal, secondary finality: to allow human nature to
develop all her potentialities in the work of civilization. But
the supreme finality of History is eternal: the manifestation,
through the Church, of the glory of Christ and of the power of His
Cross,24 until the longed-for day when, the fidelity of
the Church consummated in the tribulations of the end of Time, the
Lord will make History cease, introduce His Bride in the heavenly
Jerusalem, and shut up the Devil and his lackeys "in the
eternal lake of fire and sulphur, in the place of the second
Certain stages can be discerned in that
continual war between Christ and Satan. Already in 1310, Abbot
Engelbert of Admont described, according to the thought of St.
Paul,26 the principle of secession at work within
Christendom in his times: the mind without the Faith, the
Christian community severed from the Holy See, the kingdoms
rejecting the Christian order to follow each one its way in
isolation.27 Since the 14th century, in particular,
attack has followed upon attack, alternately aimed at Christendom
and at the Church.
First, the minds and hearts of men were
detached from the guidance of the Church. Rationalism, since
the Middle Ages and through Humanism and the Enlightenment, taught
men to trust only in their own reason, and while the Faith was
increasingly doubted, the Protestant rebellion contested and
rejected the moral authority upon which all depended. Once this
was achieved, Rousseau and Romanticism reacted against reason,
teaching men to trust only in their feelings, in their passions.
At the end of this process, men were left at the whim of the
movements of their own fallen nature, acknowledging no authority
and no order external to themselves.
Second, the Catholic states were undermined.
The corruption took hold first in the individual members of
leading classes, seeping down from the aristocracy to the
intellectuals and to the bourgeoisie. It only needed a push
to bring the rotten tree down, which had been invisibly rotten for
a long time: the French Revolution, the Napoleonic invasions, the
organization of new kingdoms and the poisoning of new peoples with
the principles of the revolution.
Third, the attack against the heart of the
Church came when the Catholic kingdoms, ramparts of the
Church, had been overwhelmed. First she was attacked externally in
her temporal sovereignty to leave her at the whim of the political
powers hostile to her. This brought her back to her beginnings,
suffering the persecutions and interferences of the civil power.
Once the Church was under siege by a hostile world, pressure
was brought upon her through her elite, the clergy. Such was (and
is) the work of Modernism, the ever-increasing desire for an
accommodation with the modern world, which has led to the
aggiornamento of Vatican II and the present secularization of
Delusion of Compromise
The French revolution consolidated and gave
institutional expression to the principle of Revolution, shaping
in this manner our modern world. From that moment on, many
Catholics have sought in vain to reconcile what is irreconcilable:
the principles of Catholicism and of the Revolution. After the
Second Vatican Council, this general tendency has become a
permanent turn of mind of (easily) most of our Catholic
contemporaries (of the clergy even more than of the laity),
expressed in multiple formulas, but grounded on the same ideas
—the reconciliation of the revolutionary "human rights" with the
Law of God, the acceptance of the principles of secularism and
tolerance, and the conviction that such a course of action is the
only possibility and hope for the Church in our times.
The present crisis is not new, it did not start
with Vatican ii, but it is the end result of a long history of
plots and blunders, cunning and weaknesses. Consequently, its
solution does not consist in turning back the historical clock to
the "good old times" on the eve of the Council.
No compromise is possible with the Revolution.
Catholic Truth is by nature intolerant. It cannot coexist with its
negation. The Revolution is anti-Christian. It has no
notion of Truth or of Common Good; therefore, habitually it cannot
(does not) procure either truth or good, and anything true or good
in it is merely accidental. Many times, Catholics have fallen into
the delusion of presuming the good will of the adversary.
Objectively, such "good will" does not exist (although the
adversary may be subjectively sincere and kind).
The Revolution cannot be fought with its own
weapons. There is an organic, indissoluble bond between the
tree and its fruits —agere sequitur esse, "the actions of any
being spring up from its nature." Institutions and laws
correspond to the principles from which they issue. They cannot be
used to bring about results contrary to that for which they have
been created. The modern "liberties," and the "democratic"
institutions in which they are enshrined, will not restore a
Christian society. It may happen that some good result is obtained
through them, but that can only be an accident, not the rule.
On the contrary, their use will taint our
principles. The Revolution is more skilled in their use, while for
us those weapons are foreign. The road of compromise is a slippery
slope. Once we have compromised, we need to keep going until some
results have been achieved —if not, the sacrifices made until now
will be a pure loss. Such need to obtain results leads, in turn,
to greater compromises. Compromise is, moreover, tainted and
accompanied by errors of judgment, imprudence, confusion,
obstinacy, and blindness. Ultimately, the compromisers will see as
the worst enemies of the common good those who still hold to the
If the world is to be converted, Christendom
has to be rebuilt —not a servile copy of the past, but a "creative
imitation," adapted to our times, of the same eternal Model.
The Church has not to sever herself from the
past, she has only to take up again the organisms destroyed by the
Revolution, and, in the same Christian spirit which inspired them,
adapt them to the new situation created by the material
development of contemporary society: for the true friends of the
people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but
The Task Ahead
The preliminary battle of the present day is,
above all, doctrinal —true doctrine has to be opposed to false
doctrine, the Christian ideal to the revolutionary ideal,
Catholicism to the Revolution.29 Any intellectual
disorder has consequences in the moral and even material orders.
Evil therefore has to be fought in its source, the ideas. Amidst
the widespread confusion, we must be men of doctrine, having
—according to our possibilities —a personal and detailed knowledge
of doctrine, studied in the Fathers, in Tradition, and in the
Magisterium. Doctrine will arm us for the higher battle, for
tearing the Revolution out of our hearts and minds, and out of the
world that surrounds us.
Our first duty is to tear the Revolution out
of our hearts. Today many Catholics do not consider themselves
as they really are, as one with Christ, moved by Him as a body for
the molding and transformation of society into Christendom, and
have submitted to the pervading and false Protestant separation
between "spiritual" life and daily life. As a consequence, they
have been lulled into indolence by the pleasing easiness of a
world organized against the designs of God, while deluding
themselves with their purely internal devotion to Our Lord. "We
die because of the Revolution, and because each one of us has been
willing to keep this poison in our veins." 30 On
this earth, there are two Cities, perpetually at war, and there is
no possible neutrality for any individual —acceptance of one
necessarily means war against the other. The Revolution is evil,
it is the seed of destruction for nations and families, for souls
as well as for bodies. As an evil, it has to be hated and fought
with and through the principles of the Church.
Our second duty is to tear the Revolution
out of our minds. We must restore in our own minds the
Catholic notions and principles, in their integrity:
- The notions of Truth and error, of Good and evil,
and their adequate distinctions,
- The notion of Law and its necessary agreement, to be
just, with Divine Law,
- The notion of Right and its necessary
conformity to our Ultimate End,
- The principle of Authority, which is at the
foundation of the natural and supernatural orders, and in direct
contradiction to the revolutionary notion of freedom,
- The notion of Hierarchy, the hierarchy of rights and
of persons, of Church and State, which is in direct
contradiction to the revolutionary principle of equality,
- The notion of Tradition, as directly opposed to the
revolutionary desire for novelties.
We must assimilate, as far as possible, the
whole Catholic Truth. "We must be frankly, wholly
Christian, in belief and in practice —we must affirm the
whole doctrinal law and the whole moral law." 31
In practice, as recommended by the Popes, this means to
restore the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas to its pre-eminent
place as the foundation of our intellectual edifice.
Our third duty is to make all possible efforts
to tear the Revolution out of the world around us. Once we
have completed the restoration in ourselves, we must extend it
around us, using all means available to refute and reject the
revolutionary errors, to propagate Catholic Truth. In this manner,
and in the measure of our forces, we will be doing our part in the
restoration of Christendom. "Many desire the recovery of
society, but without a social profession of Faith. At this price,
Christ, Omnipotent as He is, cannot work our deliverance; Merciful
as He is, He cannot exercise His mercy." 32 We must
affirm the Truth unceasingly, with sincerity, with strength and
courage, not only with words, but with our own moral life.
It is necessary to attack, to demolish the
citadels of the enemy to save our own fortresses. Foreign
doctrines must be overthrown to maintain the faith of the people
in our Christian doctrine. Destruenda sunt aliena ut nostris
The doctrine must be transmitted without
diminution or compromise. It is a disastrous condescendence to
abandon doctrine for the sake of peace. "We perish perhaps more
in reason of the truths that good men do not have the courage to
utter, than from the errors multiplied by evil men." And these
words of Louis Veuillot are a sharp rebuke to modern Catholic
leaders, enmeshed in a "dialogue" without issue with the
adversaries of the Church:
It is not our religion that you make lovable to
them, only your persons. And your fear of ceasing to be loved has
ended by taking away your courage to tell the truth. They may
praise you, but why? Because of your silences and your denials….34
To silence Catholic doctrine out of a misguided
"charity" for those who are in error is to debase ourselves with
Everybody sees and acknowledges the
abasement of all things since we have abandoned the heights on
which Christianity had placed us —nobody can deny it, the
abasement of the spirit, of the hearts, of the characters, the
abasement of the family, of political power, of societies,
briefly, the complete abasement of men and institutions.
The ending of so many abasements cannot be
in the abasement also of Truth, which is the only principle that
can impress on men and institutions the impulse to re-ascend. We
have to beg those who are oracles of doctrine never to have the
weakness to consent to any complacency, to any compromise. We
have to beg them to tell us in the future the whole Truth, the
Truth that saves individuals and nations. Their weakness will be
the consummation of our ruin. Then, let us not demand of the
Church of Jesus Christ to descend with us "ad ima de summis,"
but let us require her to remain there where she is and reach
out to us her hand, so as that we can ascend with her "ad
summa de imis," from the low and agitated region into which
we have fallen and where we risk descending even more, from here
to the elevated and serene region where she inhabits with the
souls and the nations that are faithful to her.35
It is the essence of Truth not to tolerate its
contradiction —the affirmation of a proposition excludes the
negation of the same proposition. When Truth is known, it is
necessarily intolerant. Tolerance is self-annihilation, because
Truth cannot coexist with its negation. Religious truth being the
most absolute and important, it is the most intolerant.36
But although the Church invariably teaches
truth and virtue, never consenting to error and evil, she takes
pains to make her teaching lovable, treating with indulgence the
wanderings provoked by weakness. A loving Mother, the Church never
confuses error with the man who is in error, nor the sin with the
sinner. She condemns the error, but continues to love the erring
man. She fights sin, but pursues the sinner with her tenderness;
she desires to make him whole, to reconcile him with God, to bring
his heart back to peace and virtue. Thus, the Church commands us
to be intolerant, exclusive, in matters of doctrine; that is, to
profess this doctrinal intolerance and to be proud of it. But, at
the same time, she directs us to make ours the prayer of St.
Augustine, "O Lord, send into my heart the sweetness, the
softening of Thy Spirit, so that while carried away by the love of
Truth, I will not come to lose the truth of Love" 37
—for the union of minds in the
Faith is indissolubly united to the union of hearts in Charity and
In the Hands of God
The Revolution, with its naturalism, secularism
and liberalism, is always alive, always growing and penetrating
more and more deeply. Today, it seems triumphant.
In the last times, [the] external reign [of
the Church] would appear to decline. The Prophets had said: "Bellabunt
adversus te et non praevalebunt" (Jer. 1:49). "They will
wage war against thee, and they will not prevail." But the
Prophet of the last age has other language: "Datum est
bestiae bellum facere cum sanctis et vincere eos" (Apoc.
13:7): "It has been given to the Beast the power to wage war
against the Saints and to defeat them," but this
last-moment victory will be the prelude of its coming defeat and
Thus, comforted with this promise, we must
oppose the Revolution with our incessant refutation of its errors.
We must reject the temptation of keeping quiet because there is no
reason to disturb the peace when there is no human possibility of
success.39 Peace is disturbed only by falsehood. When
Truth wages war, it is to restore peace.
The apparent impossibility of human success
should in no way deter us. It is not our responsibility to achieve
the longed-for restoration —the
extirpation of the power of the Beast and the restoration of the
rights of God —but to open the way for it, making it possible by
believing in the power and mercy of God. As Louis Veuillot wrote,
in the dark hours of more than a century ago,
Let us imagine the worst; let us grant that
the flood of irreligion has all the strength it boasts of, and
that this strength can sweep us away. Well, then, it will sweep
us away! It is of no importance, provided that it does not sweep
away the Truth. We will be swept away, but we will leave the
Truth behind us, as those who were swept away before us left
it….Either the world still has a future, or it has not. If we
are arriving at the end of time, we are building only for our
eternity. But if still long centuries must unfold, by building
for eternity we are building also for our time. Whether
confronted by the sword or by contempt, we must be the strong
witnesses of the Truth of God. Our testimony will survive. There
are plants that grow invincibly under the hand of the Heavenly
Father. There where the seed is planted, a tree takes root.
There where the martyr’s bones lie, a church rises. Thus are
formed the obstacles that divide and stop the floods.40
Fr. Juan Carlos Iscara, a native of Argentina,
was ordained in 1986 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. For the last
ten years he has been teaching Moral Theology and Church History
at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Winona, MN.
- Cardinal Newman, quoted in E.E. Reynolds, Three Cardinals
(London: Burns & Oates, 1958), p.16, note 1.
- See his Removing the Blindfold, an excellent work that must
be read to understand how we have reached the present crisis.
- I Jn. 2:19.
- Cardinal Pie.
- I Tim. 6:16.
- These paragraphs are based upon original notes given to the author
by Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity.
- Col. 1:26.
- Jn. 14:9.
- Col. 1:18.
- Jn. 20:21.
- Gustave Thibon, in Calvet, 11.
- Pius XII, Address for the Canonization of St. Nicolas de Flüe,
1947, May 16, in Civilisation Chrétienne, 16-17.
- See Daujat, passim.
- Letter of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli to the "Semaine Sociale de
Versailles," 1936, July 10, in Civilisation Chrétienne, 10.
- Gaume, Révolution, vol. I, 18.
- Lk. 11:23.
- Le Caron, 15.
- François-Noël "Gracchus" Babeuf, French journalist and
professional revolutionary who advocated radical agrarian reform and
absolute egalitarianism; guillotined in 1797. Quoted in Ségur, 18.
- Alloc. "Nobis et nobiscum," quoted in Ségur, 19.
- Edgar Quinet (1803-1875), French poet, Liberal historian and
political philosopher, for a while professor at the Collège de France,
from which he attacked the Church and exalted the Revolution. Quoted
in Ségur, 24.
- Galatians 4:4: "But when the fullness of time was come, God
sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law…" Eph. 1:10.
"In the dispensation of the fullness of the times, to re-establish all
things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in Him."
- These two paragraphs follow closely Calmel, 10-12.
- Thomas Merton, in Augustine, x.
- Calmel, 12.
- Calmel, 11-12; Apocalypse 21-22.
- II Thess. 2:3.
- Henri, Daniel-Rops, Cathedral and Crusade (London: J.M.
Dent & Sons, 1963) [reprint], 566.
- St. Pius X, Notre Charge Apostolique.
- This program for counter-revolutionary action is briefly
summarized from Roul, 521-532.
- Louis Veuillot, quoted in Roul, 524.
- Cardinal Pie, Oeuvres pastorales, vol. 9, p. 227.
- Cardinal Pie, quoted in Ousset, 485.
- Cardinal Pie.
- Quoted in Roul, 523.
- Cardinal Pie, quoted in Théotime de St.-Just, 220-221.
- See Cardinal Pie, "On Doctrinal Intolerance."
- Quoted in Cardinal Pie, "On Doctrinal Intolerance."
- Cardinal Pie.
- Cardinal Pie, "Pastoral Instruction on the Duty to Confess
Publicly the Faith."
- Veuillot, 66-67.
Augustine, St. The City of God. Introduction
by Thomas Merton, OCSO. New York: The Modern Library, 1950.
Calmel, Roger Th., Op. Théologie de l’histoire.
Bouère: Dominique Martin Morin, 1984.
Calvet, Gérard, OSB. Demain la Chrétienté.
Preface by Gustave Thibon. Dion-Valmont: Dismas, 1986.
Catta, Etienne. La doctrine politique et sociale
du Cardinal Pie. Paris: Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1991.
Daujat, Jean. La face interne de l’histoire.
Paris: Téqui, 1999.
Fahey, Denis CSSp. The Kingship of Christ and
Organized Naturalism. Palmdale, CA: Christian Book Club of America,
Gaume, Msgr. J.-J. La Révolution. Recherches
historiques sur l’origine et la propagation du mal en Europe. Paris:
Gaume Frères, 1856 (repr. Cadillac: Editions St.-Rémi, s/d.) [vol.1].
La Civilisation Chrétienne: Documents pontificaux, de
St. Pie X à Jean XXIII. Itinéraires, no. 67, November 1962.
Le Caron, Henri. Pour comprendre la Révolution.
Paris: Revue Moderne, 1974.
Ousset, Jean. Pour qu’Il règne. Bouère:
Dominique Martin Morin, 1986.
Pie, Card. Louis-François-Désiré-Edouard. Oeuvres
de Monseigneur l’évêque de Poitiers. Paris: H. Oudin, 1877 ff. (10
Pie, Card. Louis-François-Désiré-Edouard. Oeuvres
sacerdotales du card.…Choix de sermons et instructions de 1839 à 1849.
Paris: H. Oudin, 1891 (2 vols.).
Rao, John C. Removing the Blindfold.
Nineteenth-Century Catholics and the Myth of Modern Freedom. St.
Paul MN: The Remnant, 1999.
Roul, A. L’Église Catholique et le Droit Commun.
Paris: Doctrine et Vérité, 1931.
Ségur, Msgr. Louis-Gaston de. La Révolution
expliquée aux jeunes gens. Paris: Editions du Trident, 1996.
Théotime De Saint-Just, omc. La Royauté Sociale de
N.-S. Jésus-Christ d’après le Cardinal Pie et les plus récents documents
pontificaux. Lyon-Paris: E. Vitte, 1931(3rd ed.).
Veuillot, Louis. L’illusion libérale. Dion-Valmont: