Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 6, 2023

Jesuit Wisdom from the 1600’s, True for Today

How do you get lukewarm water?  Easy – mix some hot and some cold, roughly in equal amounts.  How do you get a lukewarm Catholic?  Easy – mix into the baptized human soul, both spiritual heat (supernatural divine truth, love and light) and spiritual cold (natural love of the world, the praise of men, carnal pleasures, self-love) – in roughly equal proportions.  Simply disregard the warnings in Scripture and try anyway to live a contradiction: an impossible “compromise,” a combination of love for God and love for Mammon.

See – Lk 16:13, 1Jn 2:15-17.

Here are some observations of a Jesuit priest of the 1600’s, Fr. Louis Lallemant, SJ (d. 1635).  In a book of his teachings, “The Spiritual Doctrine”, are notes from his lectures as teacher and spiritual director to seminarians, in the year 1630.  He observed in his time, among religious congregations and orders,  that the effect of lukewarm men or women in a religious congregation can be disastrous.  He wrote of “the religious” – meaning, men or women in a religious congregation – monks, brothers, sisters, nuns, etc., in a religious order:



THERE may be said to be four kinds of religious: 1) some perfect; 2) others bad, proud, full of vanity, sensual, opposed to all regularity; 3) others, again, tepid, slothful, careless; and lastly, 4) such as are virtuous and on the way to perfection, although they may perhaps never attain to it.

The holiest orders in religion may contain these four kinds of members, as well as those orders that have fallen into laxity, with this difference, however, that in an order that has fallen from its first fervor, the majority are tepid persons, and the remainder consists of some that are positively bad, a few who are laboring after perfection, and a very few who are perfect. But in an order in which discipline is still strictly observed, the bulk of the community is composed of those who are tending to perfection, and the remainder comprises some who are perfect, a few who are tepid, and a very few who are bad.

One very important remark may here be made: it is, that a religious order inclines to degeneracy when the number of the tepid begins to equal that of the fervent, I mean those who labor from day to day to make fresh progress in prayer, recollection, mortification, purity of conscience, humility. For those who do not use this diligence, even though they keep themselves from mortal sin, must pass for tepid persons; they corrupt many others, inflict extreme injury on the whole body, and are themselves in danger, either of not persevering in their vocation, or of falling into interior pride or great disorders.

The duty of superiors in religious houses is to labor, as well by their own good example, as by exhortation, private conversation, and prayer, that their subjects may persevere in the ranks of the fervent who are aiming at perfection; otherwise they will themselves bear the penalty of it, and that a terrible penalty.

Can these observations and conclusions be applied to a Catholic parish today, as it was to a religious order several centuries ago?  It seems they can.  How then can spiritual lukewarmness, or tepidity, take root and spread in a parish?  What is needed to rightly “shepherd the sheep” and enable them to grow, rather than stagnate or sicken and die, spiritually?

Question: What happens to the Christian supernatural virtues of Faith, and Hope, when the most important virtue, Holy Charity – Divine Love – diminishes or is lost?  God is Love!  When Holy Love is neglected or rejected, Faith in God diminishes or can be lost.  If Faith in God and Holy Love are lost, what in the supernatural realm can be hoped for?

When a poor soul loses or rejects supernatural and spiritual Faith and Hope and Charity – that is, the whole supernatural Christian Life! – then all that is left of God Himself are natural human ideas – that is, shallow, superficial idols. “Religion” is left tepid, barren, empty, mere idolatries.   Case in point: Laodicea, Rev. 3:14-22.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | February 27, 2023

What “to give up” for Lent?

Many suggestions are coming forth from pulpits this week as Lent begins – suggestions on “Lenten sacrifices.”

My comment (question, really) concerning the many many short-cut suggestions:  What does God want from us?

Psalm 51, from USCCB website:

Ps 51:3
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
and from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your eyes
So that you are just in your word,
and without reproach in your judgment.
Behold, I was born in guilt,
in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, you desire true sincerity;
and secretly you teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
You will let me hear gladness and joy;
the bones you have crushed will rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities.
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from before your face,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;
uphold me with a willing spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you.
Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,
and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.
Lord, you will open my lips;
and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it;
a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.
Treat Zion kindly according to your good will;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will desire the sacrifices of the just,
burnt offering and whole offerings;
then they will offer up young bulls on your altar.


[To the one praying: Repeat, slowly, carefully, prayerfully – until you hear and understand this prayer, and are on your knees sobbing for your sins and all the sins of Zion, His Holy Church, in Jerusalem and in the Vatican and in Catholic and Christian churches throughout the world.]

Posted by: Thomas Richard | February 15, 2023

We Must Not Lose the Traditional Latin Mass!

Important Background:

For a quick background: two radically different forms of the Liturgy of the Mass exist in the Roman Catholic Church today, around the world.  The predominant one, the “ordinary form,” developed from initial efforts of renewal which surfaced in the Vatican II Council.  This new, “ordinary” form replaced the centuries-old, now “extraordinary form,” the Traditional Latin Mass – the “TLM”.

The Vatican II Council was intended to be a non-radical renewal of the Church – a renewal of her approach to the world in such a way as to speak to the world in words and ways understandable to the men and women of today.   It was to seek and find ways to help the world see, listen to, hear and thus come to believe and live the radically different ways of Christ the Lord.  He sent us with this mission: to “make disciples of all the nations, … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-29).

Pope Paul VI, who closed the Council, soon learned of unintended effects of the Council that shook him to the core.  On the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 1972, in the Basilica of Saint Peter, His Holiness, Pope Paul VI delivered a sermon that immediately captured the attention of millions throughout the world, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Lamenting the chaotic state of the post-Vatican II Church, the pontiff declared: “Through some fissure, the smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God.” 

A recently published book, by a priest having personal connections and sources on this shocking realization by Pope Paul, also gives much light and depth of perspective to us concerning our Church today:  

A couple of years later, two highly-respected Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church —Cardinal Dino Staffa, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura [the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church] and Cardinal Silvio Oddi— met privately with Pope Paul [VI] and placed before him documentation of a very damning nature —documentation indicating exactly where in the temple wall His Holiness might find that fissure. 

The damning documents concerned two high-ranking members of the Roman Curia: Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops, and Bishop Annibale Bugnini, Deputy-Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. With proof in hand, Staffa and Oddi formally accused Baggio and Bugnini of being active Freemasons and, as such, traitorous infiltrators of the central government of the Roman Catholic Church. The seriousness of the matter could not be greater, given the positions these men held. 

Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops since 1973, decided who would and who would not become a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. He chose these episcopal candidates from a pool of half a million priests throughout the world. As the successors of the Apostles, bishops are absolutely essential to the existence of the Church. If, as Staffa and Oddi alleged, Sebastiano Baggio was the “Freemason Ambassador to the Holy See,” the havoc he was in a position to wreak upon the universal Church could cause irreparable damage. The bishops who had been nominated on his watch reflected Baggio’s own liberal ideological views. In the view of Staffa and Oddi, and some others in the Roman Curia, the “Baggio Boys” were self-styled “progressives” who were opposed to the central authority of Rome, all too ready to jettison theological orthodoxy in the name of “aggiornamento” and “dialogue” with the world. They argued that this trend was supported by the values of the creed of Freemasonry that Cardinal Baggio covertly espoused. 

As for Bishop Annibale Bugnini, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and undersecretary in the Congregation for Rites, his Freemason attachment, if true, could explain the radical liturgical revolution taking place in the Catholic Church. The implementation of the directives of the Second Vatican Council had patently gone far beyond the stated intentions of the Council Fathers, and indeed at times actually contradicted them. Venerable rites, customs, and devotional practices that had been safeguarded and passed on for centuries were simply swept aside. (1)

And The Effects?

These unintended effects following the Council continued to unfold, shocking and troubling many of the faithful including (then) Pope Benedict XVI. In an address to the Roman Curia, with what appears to be a profound interior grieving in his heart, he addressed the horrific eruption within the Church – within the clergy of the Church touching all levels of her bureaucracy.  Addressing specifically the unthinkable but continuing cases of priest and bishop sexual abuse of children, the pope said to the Curia:

In this context, a vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind, a vision which describes in a shocking way what we have lived through this past year. 

“In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’

And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.

For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)” (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).

In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged. This is also the occasion to thank the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity and, amid the devastations, bear witness to the unforfeited beauty of the priesthood. (2)

What Have We Learned?

All of this, so far, is to draw attention and importance to a crucial concern which we all must have, with all due sobriety, for the Church of our time.  The Church of today is sadly shallow in faith, in prayer, in moral obedience and in sacramental observance – this last weakness most importantly manifest in the Holy Mass.  The Church of today in her heart still beautiful beyond measure or compare, unequalled in God’s Creation, yet wounded, abused, her face sullied, her garment torn, her radiance clouded and darkened, her Truth dishonored.  Saint Hildegard’s vision reappears, only more disfigured now than then.

I have devoted years seeking to help in the work of catechesis.  The formation of children focused my attention to the need for catechesis of our adults, our parents.  The focus on adult catechesis in the Faith and in moral obedience to Truth led me to see the needs for holy empowering supernatural grace – and our need to turn to God in prayer and in living in His Presence.  

And now, from all I learned in my past, I understand the rule, “Lex orandi lex credendi.”  The law of prayer is the law of belief.  Our deepest prayer – our holy worship and adoration of God Himself in Himself – there our life in Him must be grounded, anchored; there our renewal as Church must begin.  There our focus and foundation must remain.  To rightful worship and adoration of the All-Holy Triune God we must return, and we as Church must never again forget who we are and Whose we are!  

The shameful absurdities of liturgical innovations and experimentations following the call of Vatican II for renewal in the Church, in the surrounding context of the moral collapse in the West of the 1960’s, still with us today, call the Church today to repentance and return!  The current focus on outreach to the unbelieving world by a Church barely distinguishable from that world, is yielding results that should have been foreseen: we are not evangelizing and converting them; they are evangelizing and converting us.  If it were not for immigration, the Church would be shrinking and not growing at all.(3) Immigrants are coming in, while “born-and-raised” Catholics continue going out. We are “doing Church” very badly.

The Church of today is deeply weakened and wounded by poor if existing adult catechesis in the Faith, poor catechesis in Catholic moral teachings (compounded by shameful examples of immorality tolerated in some of the clergy even “up” to scandalous examples among some bishops and cardinals) and dreadful failures to pass on to Catholic adults at an adult-level, Catholic teaching of the sacramental life and the interior life of prayer.  

But foundational to all this – to all the four pillars of the Faith – is the grace and power and Holy Manna needed and to be found in the Holy Mass.  Even this, we have minimized and weakened in our so-called “renewal” of worship and adoration of God, in leaving and now seeking to restrict if not cancel, the centuries-old “Mass of the Apostles”, the Traditional Latin Mass.  

We must not lose the Traditional Latin Mass!  Catholics need to humbly, in Spirit and Truth, worship and adore our Holy God. What is missing today in our bustling-busy parishes, with ever-expanding budgets and staff positions, with something for everybody, with “friendly” greeters and overflowing chatting and liturgical celebrations free of any awkward silences or encounters with God and His Truth?  What is missing is worship in Spirit and Truth: we have traded it in for something the world can “understand”.  We got a bad deal.  And so did all those seeking a way to find God.

End Notes:

  1. Murr, Charles. Murder in the 33rd Degree: The Gagnon Investigation into Vatican Freemasonry (pp. 44-46). Kindle Edition. 
  2. Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia, Address and Christmas Greetings Monday, 20 December 2010
  3. Richard, R. Thomas. Catholics: Some of our Members are Wandering Away!  Homiletic & Pastoral Review, 02/03/2014
Posted by: Thomas Richard | December 26, 2022

From Its Chamber, the Whirlwind and Cold – The Bomb Cyclone of 2022

Three “words” – three events – three “lessons” I guess they could be called, sum up this Holy Season for me, 2022.  The astounding coming of God Himself into humanity – quietly, secretly (mysteriously as a baby!) became present to me, leading me to an even deeper awareness of the promise of His second coming.  This next time is promised to be even more “astounding” – even shocking – to a humanity as a whole asleep spiritually, unconscious of the God of their creation soon to come.  He will come and ask for an account of our stewardship – what have we done with the many Gifts He has given us?

The Church has been taught, and entrusted, and was given much for which to give account. As humble stewards, we were to call the world to humanity’s stewardship of His mercy, and His love, and His call to us to holiness. We were to “make disciples.” As did John the Baptist, we were to proclaim His coming.

CCC 524 When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. [Cf Rev 22:17] By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” [Jn 3:30]

Lesson 1.

Very much in the season of Advent, I was stunned – shocked – by the surprise intervention of the Pope in the matter of Frank Pavone, a central figure in the pro-life battle in America.  I will not try to gather a long history of Pavone’s commitment to this vocation in his priesthood, nor with his several attempts to find a bishop to follow his first bishop in understanding, accepting and endorsing Pavone’s deep personal embrace of that vocation. But of the many ways a Pope might intervene to help in this matter, our Pope chose a “bomb” – a “nuclear” bomb at that: he chose, without discussion or possibility of compromise,  to strip Pavone of His ecclesial priesthood.  Of all the renegade priests and bishops and archbishops and cardinals today who are subverting the Church with divisive and confused moral and theological errors, our Pope chose to “correct” this one traditional and faithful priest with laicization.  He is no longer a priest in the Church. I was stunned, hardly able to make sense of this, by the quiet and sudden severity of this act: a “cold” “bomb”.

A passage of Scripture comes to mind:

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.
And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another.
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. (Mt 24:9-12)

Lesson 2.

The second lesson began with the papal cancelling of the “Latin Mass” – the 1962 Liturgy, the Traditional Holy Mass of pre-Vatican II. This intervention, strangely explained as an act demanded in the name of Church unity (?), began last year (07/16/2021) with Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.  This harsh new directive became an “Advent awakening” for me because of the literal cold that came in the Advent’s “Bomb Cyclone of 2022”.  My plan for Christmas Sunday Mass for myself, my wife and one of my sisters, was to drive to a near-by city to participate in the Traditional Latin Mass still, for the time being at least, allowed in our diocese in a very few locations.

Physically preparing for the coming severe cold upon the house and the household, I was left exhausted.  As Sunday Vigil came, along with the extreme cold, I was not in a safe condition to drive to that Traditional Mass.  We instead were able to be part of an “Ordinary Form” Mass in the local parish.  Prayerful reflection upon that celebration of the Mass, alongside the memories of the offerings of the Traditional Mass of past weeks in the near-by city, formed in me this second Advent Lesson.  This Lesson, significantly to me came on this most significant feast day, Holy Christmas: Christ is coming.  Christ is near, and coming, and before Him an account of our deeds must be given by us all – all in the Church and in the world.

This cold-induced interior bombing, in me, brought to mind a very disturbing passage of Scripture.  I will not spell out the meanings of this passage, except to set it before readers to reflect upon, as I reflect upon it: “Peter was with them, standing and warming himself.”

The maid who kept the door said to Peter, “Are not you also one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “I am not.”
Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves; Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. (Jn 18:17-18)

Lesson 3.

What is the meaning of “cold”?  How can we understand this strange silent weather explosion that came upon America in this past Advent, still lingering now into the Season of Christmas?  I was led to a passage from Scripture that focuses my heart and mind and prayer to one truth especially, the last verse in this passage:

God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things which we cannot comprehend.
For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth’; and to the shower and the rain, ‘Be strong.’
He seals up the hand of every man, that all men may know his work.
Then the beasts go into their lairs, and remain in their dens.
From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds.
By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.
He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning.
They turn round and round by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.
Whether for correction, or for his land, or for love, he causes it to happen.
(Job 37:5-13, RSV – CE)

Does God have cause for correction, in releasing this “bomb cyclone” of cold – an arctic whirlwind of cold – upon this land in particular, this nation so abundantly blessed by the Hand of God?  Does His love not require Him to correct this wayward self-indulgent child of His?  Our very Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, our Statue of Liberty, all judge and condemn us for our self-imposed spiritual and moral poverty, our bankrupt sense of charity, our desolate sense of justice, the corrupt swamp to be found in the belly of our institutions, secular and ecclesial.  What defense can we offer, on the coming Day of Judgment, for our pitiful failure to righteously tend to the Gifts He has given us?

He has “sealed the hand of every man” that by our hands we cannot fix this!  He has frozen our attention, if we will but even try to see and to hear with the senses He has given us! Will we not, even now, admit our wrong and see and “know His work” – for the sake of love – to correct and to save us?

And so a final word from the Word, in this the Octave of Christmas, 2022:

Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev 3:19-22)

Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 14, 2022

The Call to Holiness has Escalated

“The Vision of St. Paul,” – carried into Holiness – Nicolas Poussin, 1649-50

To us in the Catholic Church, in this tumultuous and troubling and dangerous time, a crucially important moment has come.  Our ancient call, our vocation and purpose, has risen to a significance that could terrify us, if we stood alone to hear and respond to it.  Yet it is also a whisper and not a trumpet blast.  It is to be heard in the depths of our hearts, not proclaimed from the mountain tops.  The call is to be responded to as His mother-to-be responded, with her unspoken “yes” and in her entire being, a bow of obedience to His word.  The call to the Faithful Church today, to make present His divine Presence in human flesh and blood, really and actually, demands our “yes” in complete sincerity and truth.  A new incarnation is yet to come, but it will.

The call to holiness, to the perfection of charity, was issued by Jesus in His first and comprehensive sermon recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5 – 7, “the Sermon on the Mount.”  In the context of love, of how we are to love and whom we are to love, He called us to love as He loves, as God loves, with the purity and depth of love the Church calls holy charity. He said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:43-48)

The Church, in the most recent Ecumenical Council, Vatican II, echoed this call later rewritten in our Catechism:

All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (CCC 2013)

I put this call before myself, and before you who would read this, fully realizing the weight – the difficulty – the costs – of this Truth of God.  This Truth, Jesus lived.  He came among us with the Cross awaiting Him, and He let us know, if we have been listening, that the Cross is inseparable from the Gospel of the Kingdom – the Gospel of salvation – the Gospel of Eternal Life that He proclaimed and lived in His brief time here on earth.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16:24)
And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mk 8:34)
And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Lk 9:23-25)

This cross, each cross bearing our personal individual names, the names of those members of His Body, is for us what His Cross was for Him: the total Gift of Self for the true good of God’s creation.  The world today, teetering on the edge of the chasm of destruction by the leadings of the evil one, is in desperate need of God’s holy and saving grace.  God’s Church, sent to be light for this dark and darkening world, has been infiltrated, infected, corrupted by the spirit of that evil one.  She, His Bride-to-be, has to large part been weakened into worldliness, into tepidity, into compromise with the spirit of this world.

Satan gathering his fallen angels – “They heard, and were abashed, and up they sprung” 1866, by Gustav Doré for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” (Public Domain)

The idolatry of Self and the love of this world have been dressed up and made presentable within many parishes and dioceses of the Church even to the Vatican, even to the chair of Peter.  The Church – the mother-in-law of the Peter of today – has been found in her sick bed; the Lord has come to raise her up:

And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. (Mt 8:14-15)

What are we to do? What is this “call”, this response that God awaits from us?  I am hearing this: He is calling for our total self-gift of Truth, in holy Love, our cross in participation with His.  Holy Mother the Church awaits a lifting up, to serve Him again in the fullness of her heart.  Her healing is needed, because her fever is grave at this time.  Holy Mother Mary, hidden in some ways for her safety in these evil times, awaits the work of her children, the works of holiness and the perfection of charity.  Her prayers will guard and protect us.

What is the work to which God is calling you?  What is your vocation in Christ?  Seek it, brothers and sisters, and resolve to live it relying on His light and grace to empower you.  Seek it in prayer, seek it in His word Holy Scripture, seek it in the whispers and signs He will place for you.  Seek it in loving mercy, praying for those who persecute, abuse and lie to you, even those who have brought sickness and corruption into His Holy Church.  The mother-in-law is not the true Mother, but she nevertheless is to be offered the healing hand of Christ in His Body, that she too might stand up and serve Him.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | July 15, 2022

The Book of Revelation Was Written For Times Like These!

Every day, it seems, the news has the same sad story of our beloved Church: once more, the Pope is praising and elevating those he should be correcting, while denouncing, insulting and restricting those he should be praising and thanking.  It is astounding.  It is deeply, deeply troubling.  Those who reverently embrace the Sacred Tradition of the Church, which has preserved and clarified Holy Truth through centuries of salvation history – these he dismisses as reactionary and rigid. 

Those who seek to make the Church more like the world, to modernize it in the worst possible sense of the word, these he makes bishops, archbishops and cardinals.  And they are the cardinals, of course, who will eventually vote into office the next pope – and these are of the same mind and purpose as himself.  The Church has been captured by modernists from within.

                  Be it ever so humble and small, Truth IS.

The parallel to the secular political situation in America is striking.  Biden seeks to overturn everything Trump did; Francis seeks to overturn everything St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI did. Biden and the progressives want to pack the Supreme Court to make it a rubber stamp for the progressive ideologues; Francis and the increasingly progressive curia in the Vatican want to pack the college of cardinals and thus the next consistory to insure progressive “catholic” popes well into the future.  Progressive politicians want to erase history, and the constitution, to redefine what America stands for; progressive “catholics” want to erase everything other than the unwritten  “spirit” of Vatican II, so they can redefine the Catholic Church and who we are, in Christ.  Progressives in and outside of the Church want a Great Global Reset bending the world toward their leftist ideology.  They want the world.  

Brothers and sisters, it is satanic.  Progressives inside the Church and progressives outside the Church are in lock-step with one another, because they are of one heart and mind, and their unity with one another comes not because they conspire together – they don’t have to even speak to one another, they are of one heart and one mind already with one another.  Thanks be to God we are not alone in the struggle that has come upon us!  The Lord – our Lord, Jesus Christ – promised He would be with His faithful ones, until the close of the age.  And that may well be very near indeed.  

Our challenge is to remain faithful, and grow ever closer to Him, and to one another in Him, in the Truth that is timeless.  St. Paul wrote:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace;
besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,…(Eph 6:10-18)

And I would add, pray as well for those faithful Catholic leaders – deacons, priests and bishops – who are remaining faithful to the Faith of the Church, clearly, bravely, beautifully, many at significant personal cost.

There is something we all must do – we can, and we must seek to grow in faithfulness and holiness and in divine charity in our Lord.  We must pray, and repent of any crippling love for this passing world, for He is coming.  Following in the footsteps of our Lord, we are called to offer our prayers, works, joys and sufferings in humble reparation for sinners, in union with Him and His Cross, that we might remain in mind and heart with Him.  Again, St. Paul wrote:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,
the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints.
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ.
For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me. (Col 1:24-29)

Let us keep our eyes and ears open, listening always for His holy will, that we might always say “Yes!” As did our mother in Christ, our Blessed Mother Mary.  Her Immaculate Heart will triumph over the hatred and deceits of the evil one; her heart, in His, seeks to keep us gathered into Him, into eternal Truth, no matter the darkness that must yet come upon this fallen creation. 

The evil one hates Mary, and all who honor her; he hates Truth, and all who will to live by it even in the rising tides of his lies.  The evil one hates life!  And seeks only to kill and lie and destroy.   We see his ugly lusts all around us: abortion, contraception, adultery, fornication, counterfeits of love, denial of human sexuality, power for power’s sake, ruling for ruling’s sake, hurting and killing in blood lust blind to the sufferings of others.  This creation is drunk with blasphemy, cruelty, murders and lies; its days are numbered.  Look up!  He is very near.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | June 30, 2022

Calls to Repentance

Creation of a Holy Church, yet Corruption Within

The Father sent the Son, in His divinity, to take upon Himself a human nature, and enter the fallen human race on earth as Redeemer and Savior through a human mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  After His years on earth culminating in His sacrificial human death on a Cross, His Resurrection from the dead and His ascension back into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with and in His faithful followers on earth, creating the Church, initiating the Church Age in human history.

In the Church Age, the saving Presence of God among men has continued what Jesus began, in a “millennium” lasting over two thousand years of faithful evangelization, witness, preaching and baptizing souls into His Life, His Truth, His Love.

Not all of the work of evangelization by the Church, however, has been faithful.  In this present era of sowing seeds of Gospel Truth and growing holiness among men on earth, God has held back the power of evil: satan and his band of demons have been limited – restricted.  They could still throw stumbling blocks in the paths of the faithful – they could still wreak havoc, confuse and tempt souls away from God and into a life of spiritual contradictions, self-indulgence, sin and even spiritual death.  But their evil was limited.  And God continued to be present among us in the world, offering holy grace to resist the empty promises and lies of the evil one, and helping the faithful to remain true to the path of growing life in Christ.

Not all, however, did remain faithful; and not all repented and returned when they did fall away.  Some members of the Holy Church did not resist temptations.  Some churches did not begin or remain pure beacons of divine light and holy truth.  Some did not fully embrace the enduring and eternal love of God, nor did they fully reject the carnal love of this world and the things of this world.  Some churches, and members, instead sought to have both God and the world.  They sought the approval and eternal promises of God, while continuing in the carnal pleasures and material ambitions of this passing world.  They sought the impossible: to serve both God and Mammon when the Lord says it cannot be done:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Mt 6:24)

Thus some members, and some parishes, became confused and confusing, misled and misleading in their witness to others of Christ.  Some unknowingly, and some knowingly, became false – teachers of error.  The churches were all commanded “Go and make disciples,” but compromised carnal witnesses and false teachers make misled disciples – whether innocently or intentionally.   The name and the title “Christian” thus became counterfeited, and its very meaning confused in the world, with some holding the title “Christian” authentically, heroically, beautifully, fruitfully – while others holding it falsely, superficially, lukewarm, careless and barren of the fruit God sent us to yield.

Many have been confused if not led astray by false teachers of a counterfeit Christianity! Woe to the false teachers who have done this!  The very name of “Christian” has been dishonored in the world by those taking His name in vain!  Those who entered the sheepfold not through the Gate of Christ Jesus, but by sneaking over the wall in the night, cloaking himself falsely in the sheepskin cloak of a believer, learning the language and vocabulary of a Christian, and passing himself off as one of us, all the while being not one of us but a wolf seeking his own advantage and pleasures – these of the enemy have infiltrated the churches of God with corruption, lies and deceit!  Though they be laymen or clergy, even deacons, priests, bishops, or popes, they are of the enemy of souls who are called to repent and be saved!

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. (Mar 9:42)

Light in God’s Word

Knowing such corruption would happen, God gave to the Apostle John holy divine revelations, showing to him things that were and things that were to come upon the earth, because of the contradictions and mixtures to come among us, through the sinfulness in us.  God would continue to work for true holiness in the Church even through her contradictions, falls and recoveries, and even in the presence of Judases of faithlessness. Concerning churches that were or that would be lacking in fidelity, or would fall from obedience to the true Gospel, Jesus says in the book of Revelation to the churches:

  • Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Rev 2:5)
  •  Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev 2:16)
  •  I gave [the Jezebel among you] time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her immorality.  Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings….(Rev 2:21-22)
  • Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. (Rev 3:3)
  • Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. (Rev 3:19)

As the era of the Church would draw near to its close, God’s restrictions and limitations on evil would be loosened.  Satan would soon be released, permitting a time of final and great tribulation for the Church.  Then would be released upon the world great trials, sufferings, hardships, pandemics and plagues, so that men (in or outside of the Church) might be awakened to the contempt being shown to God in their disbelief – whether disbelief of the truth of the Gospel as they had heard it, or rejection of the natural revealed truths of God manifest in the creation, given for all to see.  And being awakened to their dishonoring of God, whether intentional or unintentional, culpable or not, they might repent and seek Him earnestly, in sincerity and wholeness of heart, and finding Him, come into saving faith and holy life.

Sadly, even then, as Revelation reveals, even after the chastisements of these trials, tribulations and plagues rightfully due to men living in contempt of God – whether in or outside of the Church – even then they would not repent:

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot either see or hear or walk; nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their immorality or their thefts. (Rev. 9:20-21)

Thus instead of humbling these lovers of self and of the things of this world, whether inside the walls of the church or outside, His chastisements were rejected and their hearts only hardened further against Him. Rather than awakening them to true justice and rightful consequences of their acts, the people only grew in bitterness and obsession with their own pleasures, preferences and desire.  

Yet once more God again would reach out to them.  His will and His ways remain true and firm: His ways are life, apart from Him is only death.  He is the way, and the truth, and the life.  He would once more send chastisements – but more intense – into this rebellious world, that all who stumble in darkness of soul might repent, and awaken to seek light and truth, justice and righteousness in Him.  He sends punishments to them, that all who are apart from Him might see their own emptiness and futile pride, in contrast to His eternal power and glory. Oh that all might repent of their sins, as Jesus cried out to them in His first coming; and in the truth of humility, they might return in wholeness of heart to Him.

The result, in Revelation, of this third movement of grace from God?  Still they would not bend, they would not bow, they would not repent, they would not return, but even worse:

… they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory. … men gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores, and did not repent of their deeds. (Rev 16:9 – 11)

What Will We Do, People of America

Much of America – much of the world – is in open, arrogant, militant, violent rejection of God, His eternal moral Law, His faithful people, His Truth.  To replace God in their darkened hearts, they have only the poverty of their own opinions, wishes, conjectures and biased conclusions.  Instead of His wisdom and Truth, they have their desires: for power, for pleasure, for the interior exultation and social exaltation of Self.  The horrible consequence of their rejection of Truth, is their interior embrace of the Lie – and any lie, eventually, that promotes the ultimate Lie that there is no God.  They come to believe the Lie!

The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thes 2:9-12)

And so now, we have embedded among us, a culture “of death” as St. John Paul II called it – a pervasive subculture that is an anti-culture because it is hate-filled and violent to the point of murder, indeed, it is suicidal.  It is an anti-church within the Church; it is an anti-culture within the culture; it is an anti-humanity within humanity.  It is a parasite, a cancer; there is not life, nor light, nor love in it.  It has no viability, because it is of hell, and is self-driven to hell and destruction.  It hates God and all that is of God, because it is of satan.  When released for his last explosive run against God’s creation, there will be great destruction.  Those days will be numbered, but intense, and many will suffer greatly.  But the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of His Mother Mary, will conquer.

In such a dark trial, the People of God are called to follow their Master, Jesus, even to His Cross.  That is, we are to be obedient heroically, not counting the cost, looking only to the promise of God’s holy rewards for those faithful to Him.

We, People of God, must be True to the Truth.  And we must repent of any half-heartedness, any lukewarmness, any mediocrity, any minimalism within us, in the matters pertaining to life in Jesus Christ.  This our repentance.  We must find what defines us in Holy Scripture – read and heard and lived as God’s Word to us personally.  Seek the reality of His Life, His Presence in the sacraments of His Church.  Seek Him in prayer!  Seek Him not merely in favors and mercies that we beg of Him, but seek Him – Him! – in the communion of prayer where He awaits us, within, in silence and peace.

Pray, bear witness, seek holiness, and call for repentance!  Call for an end to the insanity that seeks to dominate the world in the Great Lie.  Seeing God’s love, and His desire that none should perish, we must sound His call to a lost culture of death to turn back – turn away from death and to life.  Not to mere consumer-fed existence but to Life – His eternal and divine Life – that is the promise to His children created in His image and likeness, for fellowship with Him and with one another, eternally.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | June 24, 2022

How Do We Get Home, From Here?

A Church in Need

I never thought I’d see the day when the Catholic Church would become as compromised, as mixed and confused, as it is today.  Today, from the Vatican, through diocesan bureaucracies and bishop’s chairs, down to parish staff and pastor’s desk, and maybe most importantly to our Liturgy, and specifically, the Holy Mass.  The Holy Mass is our corporate and personal encounter with God in Christ, in His Self-Outpouring Gift to the Church.  That encounter with Christ, in the celebration of the Mass, is being specifically weakened today, and I wonder if we as Church realize it even as it is happening around us and to us and in us.

More and more, the world is working its way into the institutional church.  And by world I don’t mean flowers and butterflies, I mean what John the Apostle saw in the world: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 Jn 2:16).  Many Catholics reveal that the ways of the world are very much with us even as we enter the Holy Place, even as we assemble for the Mass.  Many typically enter and depart the Sanctuary chatting and laughing together – not in the joy of the Holy Spirit and in the praise of God, but in the way of the world that knows no God, that lives as if God did not exist.  The chatting and the laughing together are about anything but the ways and the truth and the life of God; they are as if God does not exist, as if the Mass were long and far away, as if nothing has changed because of His Cross and Resurrection.  

And so the Holy Mass, for clergy and laity, is too often performed but not offered, read and recited but not prayed, attended at and present at but not participating in Him!

There are souls – few and far between – who do not approach God and His Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in this way, but enter with faces of holy and beautiful fear, in silence, in reverence, falling to their knees in prayer immediately, happy to be with Him. There are souls who do not leap back into the world as quickly as possible as do many others, but rather remain in silence on their knees, heads down and eyes closed in private prayer with Him, in secret communion, in hope and in love.  These few are prophets, though they may never realize it until they hear it from Him on that Day.  They are proclaiming God – they are living their priesthood, whether as the ordained or in the common priesthood of the laity.  

And there are others, crying in silence, in union with the Lord,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (Mt 23:37)

And there are those, seeing the signs of these times, who hear the Lord Present in these ancient words:

And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.
For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side,
and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold,
saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” (Luke 19:41-46)

This, it seems, is the Truth in these dangerous days.  Many, clergy and laity, are like Martha who was too busy about many things, preoccupied with the outward “doing,” which is necessary, but unaware of what is within, the “being” so sought by God, which is essential.  And there are always the few, thanks be to God, who like Mary know Christ on their knees, ever listening, learning, obeying.  They know His Cross.  They know His Resurrection.  They know His Presence, and He knows theirs.

The Four Pillars of the Faith

How has that encounter with Christ been weakened?  By our distance, by our distraction, by our preoccupation with the world in the very moments He is so close to us.  He is near, in all of the traditional four pillars of our Faith.

  • The first pillar: the Creed – the doctrinal “content” of our beliefs.  This is the Truth – the truths revealed to us by God and kept in Sacred Tradition, which we have not protected, not guarded, not treasured.  Instead, holy Truth has become cheapened in our hearts, as we have to our shame preferred the changing ideas and ideals of the world to the ways of the eternal God.  We don’t care to know the doctrines of the Church with careful precision: we have preferred the uncertain fellowship of the many in darkness, to the enduring love of God and a chosen few.
  • The second pillar: the Sacraments – the means of holy grace by which we receive a share in His holy life.  Holy grace has become unintelligible to us, unknown and unappreciated, disvalued and thus lost like sand through the fingers.  How did this happen?   Like an old friend of the past, taken for granted and ignored in preference for new and advantageous acquaintances, players in the fast and seductive world before us, we set Him aside.  We “lost touch”.  We stopped knowing Him, and thus holy grace – a share in His holy life – became as something unvalued, unimportant, irrelevant to the seductions of the life of this world.
  • The third pillar: the moral life – living the life of God in Christ.  When Truth of the Faith falls into the shadows, and grace becomes disvalued and unintelligible, moral life itself becomes loosened from its rightful anchor in God.  Our life becomes like a twig fallen into the stream, twisting and turning it flows away, downstream.  The twig follows a path away and downward by an unseen force (gravity).  The moral life of such a distracted and uncertain Catholic Christian also flows downward – the path of the world, not the one of God, not of our calling in Christ; not upward to Him in Truth.  
  • The fourth pillar: the interior life, the life of prayer.  “Prayer is nothing other than union with God,” taught St. John Vianney.  Here also, it becomes clear, that the Catholic weakened in his knowledge and understanding of God, weakened in the grace God wants to give him, weakened in the life of his calling in Christ, is consequently weakened in the communion of prayer that is his relationship with God in Christ.  How can his friendship with Christ – his prayer life – be other, when his knowledge of Christ’s Truth is undeveloped, his share in Christ’s grace through the sacraments – especially the Holy Mass – is lacking in power and unction, his moral following of Christ’s life – of self-gift, even unto the Cross – is without understanding and obedience?  How can his prayer life with God the Holy Trinity be fitting, when the other components of this essential relationship are lacking, or weakened?

Indeed, participation in the Holy Mass is an act of faith, it is an act of grace, it is an act of obedience, it is an act of prayer: it is an act of Catholic life.  But when our very life as a Catholic Christian is weakened, when we are lacking in appetite for the meat of the Gospel, and careless of the healthy foods that God has provided, when instead we decide to prefer the fast food and the junk food of this passing world, our spiritual health only declines and continues to decline, until we no longer realize what we have done.  We are starving ourselves; we are on the path, and we are very close, to death.  We, like Martha, have become so accustomed to the world, so familiar with its lifeless busyness, that we hardly know how to turn to life – life in the Presence of Jesus – as Mary did.


So what are we to do?  How do we return?  How do we get to home, from here? Well, the Church (capital “C”) can lead us home!  The Church (capital “C”) is our home on this earth, as we journey toward our permanent home in the New Jerusalem, in the New Heavens and the New Earth, in the eternal dwelling in God the Holy Trinity.  

I’m sad to say that some local churches (lower case “c”) may or may not be of much help, depending.   The institutional Church includes many local churches, and they can be very different realities for the lay members depending to a large extent on leadership, primarily the pastor, and also other local clergy, and the bishop and archbishop and of course the pope.  Some among both laity and clergy are very worldly, which they ought not to be; and some are sincerely striving toward holiness, as they ought to be.  Worldliness is the problem that is within the institutional Catholic Church.  Faithfulness – Holiness – Christ – His One Holy Church – is the answer.

We need to find the full reality of His One Holy Church.  We need to see that true Light – clear and unambiguous, pure, neither mixed nor confused with the very confused world all around us.

We need to repent; we need to pray.

Faithful Catholics – we need to pray.  Those who not know how to pray and to grow in prayer, need to learn.  The life of prayer is well-known in the Church!  His Church is rich with the supernatural treasures of Truth and Grace.  No Catholic ought to be left wanting, left hungry, in the midst of such supernatural plenitude.  We can all learn to grow in prayer, to grow toward Him more and more.  All who seek will find, as Jesus promised.

We need to find a home – a place of remaining – in Holy Scripture.  In the words of God we can hear, we can find, the Word of God our Savior.  We can read, listen to, study Holy Scripture, and the comprehensive Catechism of the Catholic Church.  We can seek out gifted laity, for fellowship and sharing, that we might feed one another from the abundance of the Spirit, that the Body of Christ might grow, and mature.  We can pray together for holy bishops, and holy priests, and holy deacons, and holy laity.  We can pray for the growth and maturation of the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, in all the members of His Body.  We can pray on behalf of the Church for right discernment of the ways of this world and the ways of Christ – they are different! – that we all might turn from the one to the other, for the sake of holiness, for the sake of life!

The Church has endured through many lean years, of persecution, of moral confusion, of spiritual impoverishment, of carnal worldliness and even depravity.  Much suffering, rooted in worldliness, is our reality today.  These days may be very close to those when Jesus came the first time, proclaiming the message of His forerunner John the Baptist: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Mt 3:2, 4:17)

Yes, then and now the Good News begins with the hard judgment, Repent!  No one can enter God’s Kingdom with the baggage of this fallen world! All of that must be left behind, rejected, cast away forever.  Only holiness is worthy in the Presence of the Holy One.  No one lacking the Wedding Garment of righteousness can remain in the eternal Wedding Feast of the Lamb with His Bride. (See Mt 22:1-14). Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!


Yes, consider the above spoken strongly and loudly.  I hope that some of the many who were taught otherwise, will hear me, read this, and rethink it.  Many were and are still being taught, by educated teachers, lay and clergy, that “the Church teaches that all the Baptized are given at least one charism.”  This is wrong.  I hope in this essay to demonstrate that the Catholic Church teaches that God – the Holy Spirit –  gives some of the baptized special graces called graces gratis datae, or graces freely given, or charisms.  Some – not all.

As one example of the contrary, this is a Question/Answer on the website of a widely received ministry promoting charisms among clergy and laity:

Question: Are all Baptized Christians given charisms?

Answer: Yes. According to Catholic teaching, it is the faith of the Church that you possess one or more of the charisms (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 951).

1) The Catechism.

Note Catechism 951 does not exactly say that, but rather: 

Catechism 951 – Communion of charisms. Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit “distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank” for the building up of the Church.<LG 12 # 2> Now, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”<1 Cor 12:7>

That is, the Holy Spirit distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank for the building up of the Church, in such a way that to everyone the Spirit is manifested for the common good.  Charisms are distributed “among the faithful of every rank” is not the same as, “Charisms are given to all of the faithful of every rank.”  Nor does St. Paul in 1 Corinthians say “to each is given a charism of the Spirit…” but rather he says “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit…”. 

Consider for example, when someone – who has been given a charism of healing – is led by God to exercise that grace and one or more people are healed. The result is that to all of those involved, the healer and the healed, the Holy Spirit has been manifested.  This is the way that every charism is intended to bless and to build up the whole church, for the common good.  To some are given the special supernatural graces of charisms, to bless and help build up in different ways some or many others, so that to each and all the love of God in the Holy Spirit is being manifested.

2) Catholic Teaching.

Recently our current Pope Francis said this (emphasis added by me):

The charisms are special graces, given to some for the good of many others. .… In particular, these spiritual gifts further the sanctity of the Church and her mission. (1)

“Given to some” is certainly not the same as “given to all” – “given to all” is an error still being spread. 

A Pope of several centuries ago, Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758) in a study of charisms among those canonized by the Church (2), saw that some of the canonized servants of God did – and some did not – show any record of supernatural charisms in their lives on earth, but all were found holy and were canonized. Note this study gathers understandings on this issue from several theologians and saints:

[Francisco] Suarez [S,J.,1548–1617] adds, that graces gratis datae [charisms] are bestowed on the just, though not upon all, because it is not necessary for the general good of the Church that all the just should minister to others, or that they should be raised up by a special grace to work for the good of others, as may be seen in the place referred to, where he alleges the illustrious authority of St. Augustine (3) who says, “These are not given to all the saints, lest the weak should be deceived in a most fatal error, thinking that greater blessings consist in them [in the charisms] than in works of justice, by which eternal life is obtained.” 

It seems, then, to be a good conclusion to draw from this, that silence is not to be imposed on the cause of a servant of God, in which graces gratis datae are not proved, provided there be proof of virtues in the heroic degree. Therefore, St. John Chrysostom, after saying that it was necessary to bestow them when the preaching of the gospel commenced, thus continues: ” Let us fear, then, beloved brethren, and bestow great pains on the ordering of our life; and let us not think that we have less, because now we do no miracles. We shall receive no more on account of miracles, as we shall not receive less because we perform none, if we apply ourselves to all virtues. We are not debtors to miracles, but for a good life and good works we have God for our debtor.” 

And this so much the more, for in no Bull of canonization, or Report of the Auditors of the Rota, is omitted the mention of virtues and miracles after death; some speak of graces gratis datae, but in others there is profound silence on the subject; from this it may be argued that some canonizations have been decreed, although the servants of God and the blessed, during their lifetime, received no graces gratis datae [charisms] from God. 

3) Conclusion

If “the servants of God and the blessed, during their lifetime, received no graces gratis datae [charisms] from God” (following the writing of Pope Benedict XIV) along with the support of Theologian Francisco Suarez, S.J., and along with the Saints and Doctors of the Church Thomas Aquinas, Augustine and Chrysostom, and we have heard our own Pope Francis tell us the same thing – if all these say that charisms are given to some and not all, I think we can say, charisms are given to some but not all.  

Furthermore, I hope we can all see God’s wisdom in ordering matters of grace this way.  It seems to be God’s way, to choose and bless the few, and then send them to bless the many.  In this way God chooses to provide for and to serve us all, especially those poor, whom He loves, to gather them/us into His own.

To clarify further, there are addressed here two kinds of grace: first, sanctifying grace given at Baptism for our justification, sanctification and salvation.  Sanctifying grace makes us a member of His Body, a participant in His Life.  Then, second, there can be the grace of a charism, given (if given) in God’s time, for God’s purpose, when and if He chooses to give it, and until when or if He chooses to remove it.  A grace of charism is given to a recipient for a need in the Church – a need in another to help him in his path to Christ.  A charism cannot give salvation to another, but it can point him to the One who can give Him salvation: Jesus Christ. 

Of these two kinds of grace, the first – in possession and in importance – is sanctifying grace, and this must be and remain our first in attention, our priority.  Sanctifying grace begins the life of Christ in a human person, and is ordered to growth in Christ, to maturity in Christ, to fruitfulness in Christ!  To neglect our own life in Christ to be preoccupied with the needs of others, is to be like busy Martha and not like her wise, prudent and prayerful sister Mary:

Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

If a Christian becomes overly concerned with what he can do for Christ, and becomes unconcerned with who he is in Christ and what he lacks of Christ, then he, like Martha, remains anxious and troubled – and remains too much in himself.  As John the Baptist learned, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3:30). This dying to self and living to Christ is possible only in the essential activity of sanctifying grace, and the virtues of supernatural faith, hope and holy charity, and the seven supernatural infused and abiding gifts of the Holy Spirit given “in seed form” at Baptism: 

Catechism 1831 – The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.<Cf. Isa 11:1-2> They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations. 

These gifts of the Spirit will bring forth fruit for all the faithful and diligent, in due season, fruit that will remain, to the merit of these who live them in obedience to our Lord.


(1) Pope Francis, General Audience Address November 6, 2013

(2) This study is recorded in “Heroic Virtue: A Portion Of The Treatise Of Benedict XIV On The Beatification And Canonization Of The Servants Of God, Volume 3.”  This includes discussion on the place of charisms, or graces gratis datae (graces freely given) in the examinations of the virtues of the servants of God.

(3) The quote from Augustine, in his commentary on Mt. 24:24, cited above by Pope Benedict XIV, is expanded and found in the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | May 23, 2022

An Open Letter to Part-Time Catholics

Do you know the Presence of the Holy?  If you do, you have received a gift given by God and only by God, for only He (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) can give this gift.  No human person can take, or make, or fabricate or assimilate or simulate or duplicate this gift because the gift is Himself, His own Self-gift within the blessed human soul.  When the chosen human person then enters the Presence of the Holy, there is aroused in him the due response of holy reverence.   This reverence is God within acknowledging, affirming, recognizing to the blessed human soul the divine Presence of the Holy then and there.

This reverence, springing up by no human effort or reasoning, is entirely the work of God – yet a divine work received within the human soul without any obstruction or interference by man.  It is in a sense undeniable because of the sublime delight it brings to the soul – how can it be resisted?  How can it be refused?  How can it be set aside for lesser occupations?  It is too beautiful to draw forth any response but love.

This reverence is itself prayer, prayer in its highest expression, prayer that is truly a dialogue of self-gift and divine gift.  St. John Vianney said it beautifully, “Prayer is nothing other than union with God.”  Prayer may begin seeming to be much different – a monologue – a soliloquy of man speaking to himself, really, in hopes that God is listening and hearing his heart-longings and felt needs.  But prayer is a living relationship that is to grow and mature to such a quiet resting in holy reverence with the Holy One – a blessed prayer of contemplation in the Presence of the Holy.

I entered the sacred space of the sanctuary, my local church, last Holy Day for the celebration of the Mass.  Immediately there, raised in a golden Tabernacle near the Altar, is resting the Holy Eucharist: the Resurrected, Glorified Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The entire sanctuary is illuminated by the glory streaming forth from His Presence there before us, and for us.  There must be myriads of angels filling that sacred space praising His Presence in song, invisible and inaudible to us, rising like incense in silent testimony to His glory, bowing before Him in perfect angelic reverence, bathed in the flood of His invisible light.  All the angelic choir is gathered into the holy communion of love and fidelity to Him, Lord of heaven and earth.  Into this prayer we, who enter the sanctuary, are called!  Into this reverence we, who enter His sanctuary, are called! Dare we enter and not tremble ?  Dare we enter with no thought of who we are – and who He IS – and where and what we have in fact entered?

People of God – Brothers and Sisters – do you know where you are, this moment, in His loving Hands?  Do you know where He is, every moment of your life?  How close He is?  How near?  How gently He touches your soul moment by moment, to awaken you… How He longs to gather you in His arms in deep and profound embrace!  Will you awaken?  Are you awakened yet, do you hear Him yet, in your busyness about so many other things…..  How He wept gazing at Holy Jerusalem, where even then men were gathered in agreement to kill Him that He might be forever excluded and rejected from their precious superior lives.  How He longed to gather them into His arms, and they would not.

These are dark times, Brothers and Sisters, and they threaten to grow darker still.  Will you yet return to Him?  Will you awaken, and remember – and in repentance in the heart – return to your first love, in Him?

Older Posts »