Holy Week 1997
Dearly beloved in Christ,
The Sacred Liturgy of Holy Week presents to us in a most powerful and vivid manner the culmination of the Public Life of Our Divine Savior Jesus Christ. From Palm Sunday to the Feast of the Resurrection, we will walk in spirit with Our Blessed Lord in His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, be present at the institution of the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood in the Upper Chamber, stand with Our Mother of Sorrows at the foot of the Cross, and finally witness His glorious Resurrection on the third day.
In these difficult times for the Catholic Church, when the Mystical Body of Christ itself undergoes a spiritual crucifixion, we can find a tremendous source of supernatural comfort and support in meditation on the remarkable resemblance between the solemn events in the Life, Passion and Death of Jesus Christ and the present crisis within the Church. May these considerations help us to draw many graces from the Sacred Liturgy of Holy Week.
The first consideration to be made is that our Savior Jesus Christ was rejected by the very ones who should have been the first to recognize Him as the promised Messias and the Son of God. As we well know from the four Evangelists, the scribes and Pharisees were the most bitter enemies of Christ.
Throughout His public life, Our Lord preached in a manner so wonderful that it was said, “Never has man spoken as this man” (John 7:41). His language was clear and concise; His style was so simple that even the common people comprehended the most profound truths that He taught. The four Gospels record in great detail the wonderful miracles of Our Lord. These public, supernatural works proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the divine mission of Jesus Christ. Yet, despite Our Lord’s marvelous teachings and miracles, the scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of the temple, were the very ones who rejected Him and condemned Him to death. They in turn incited the majority of the Chosen People to turn against Him and to clamor for His death.How remarkably similar is the present rejection and condemnation of the one true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, by those who were once the leaders of the Church, but who now have betrayed the Catholic Church and the true Faith by the desire to form, in a spirit of false ecumenism, a brotherhood of all religions.
In the Vatican II Declaration Nostra Aetate, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islamism, and Judaism are given explicit recognition, despite the fact that the Hindus and Buddhists worship false gods, that the Moslems deny the divinity of Christ, and that the Jews reject Jesus Christ as the Messias. In fact, this Conciliar Declaration goes so far as to state:
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is good and holy in these religions.”
Have you ever wondered at the strong and emotional animosity that the modern hierarchy of the Church of Vatican II manifests toward traditional Catholicism? In this ecumenical age, when the modern hierarchy “bends over backwards” to seek a false unity amongst all religions (Christian and non-Christian alike), all are lovingly received and recognized. Isn’t it ironic that any and all religions are accepted by the Church of Vatican II as long as they are not traditional Roman Catholic? How out of line appears our Catholic belief that Jesus Christ, our Messias and Redeemer, founded a Church and that membership in that Church is a necessary condition for salvation. This is looked upon as simply an intolerable doctrine.
Consider the numerous, blasphemous ecumenical meetings of John Paul II:
November 17, 1980: During a visit to Germany, John Paul II went to a Lutheran church and declared: “I come to you as to the spiritual heritage of Martin Luther.” He expressed admiration for Luther’s “profound religious spirit.”
May 25, 1982: In England, John Paul II took part in a religious service in Canterbury Cathedral, side by side with the Anglican archbishop.
January 25, 1983: John Paul II promulgated the New Code of Canon Law in which noticeably omitted is the sanction of excommunication against Freemasons, and in which permission is given in certain cases to allow “Holy Communion” to be administered to schismatics and heretics without their return to the Catholic Church.
December 11, 1983: John Paul II, accompanied by several cardinals, preached from the pulpit of a Lutheran church in Rome, took part there in a heretical service, and recited a prayer composed by Luther. Earlier, he had stated his opinion that Luther’s case should be re-opened so that it could be “considered in a more objective light.”
April 17, 1984: John Paul II received a delegation from B’nai B’rith, and called the audience a “meeting of brothers.”
May 10, 1984: In Thailand, John Paul II visited the supreme Buddhist patriarch Vasna Tara, who received him seated on his throne, and before whom John Paul II bowed profoundly.December 11, 1984: John Paul II sent a representative to the laying of the foundation stone for the biggest mosque in Europe at Rome.
December 11, 1984: John Paul II sent a representative to the laying of the foundation for the biggest mosque in Europe at Rome.
August 8, 1985: In Togo, Africa, John Paul II went to the “sacred forest” where he attended animist rites. He further participated in pagan rites at Kara and Togoville.
August 9, 1985: At Casablanca, Morocco, next to King Hassan II, “Commander of the Believers,” and before a crowd of 80,000 young Muslims, John Paul II preached “dialogue with Islam” and claimed “we all have the same God.”
February 2, 1986: During his visit to India, as one could see in the media and on television, John Paul II received from the hands of a Hindu priestess the sign of the Tilak. Less publicized was another act which was positively more serious; on February 5, at Madras, John Paul II received the imposition of the “sacred ashes” from the hands of a woman.
April 13, 1986: John Paul II went into a Jewish synagogue in Rome where he was received by Rabbi Elio Toaff in order to join in an ecumenical prayer service. There he called the Jews “our elder brothers, our dearest brothers.”
October 27, 1986: John Paul II convened the ecumenical “prayer meeting” at Assisi in which 150 religions of the world were invited by him to pray to their false gods for world peace.
These acts of false ecumenism remind us of the words of Pope Pius XI:
“...to favor this opinion and to encourage such undertakings is tantamount to abandoning the religion revealed by God” (Mortalium Animos, 1929).
And the reason he gave in this same encyclical is quite simple:
“They presuppose the erroneous view that all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy, inasmuch as all give expression, under various forms, to that innate sense which leads to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule.”
In other words, the doctrine of false ecumenism holds that any one of the various man-made religions of the world is fine and good, and fulfill man’s obligation to worship and adore God, and that acceptance of Jesus Christ, His teachings and His Church, are not really necessary for salvation! Catholics have always believed that God the Father sent His Only-begotten Son into this world to divinely reveal to mankind for all time the way of salvation. Jesus Christ worked the most stupendous miracles to prove His divine mission, founded one true Church with the authority to infallibly teach the truths necessary for salvation and gave that Church the means to sanctify its members by means of the seven sacraments and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In spite of all this, false ecumenism holds that all these things Jesus Christ accomplished are not really that essential and that all religions must also be considered to have the means of salvation.
It was for this reason that the Catholic Church, prior to the Second Vatican Council, had forbidden Catholics to take active part in non-Catholic worship. Canon 1258 of the Code of Canon Law (1917) legislated:
“It is forbidden to actively participate in the worship of non-Catholics.” (communicatio in sacris)
And also Canon 2316:
“One who cooperates communicatio in sacris contrary to the provision of Canon 1258 is suspected of heresy.”
In the conclusion of his teaching on false ecumenism, Pope Pius XI stated:
“Thus, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics.”
The rejection and condemnation of Christ by the chief priests nearly 2,000 years ago closely resembles the present rejection and condemnation of His Mystical Body, the Catholic Church, by the modern hierarchy. To the leaders of the temple, Jesus Christ was a false Messias; to the modern hierarchy, traditional Catholics are schismatic and excommunicated.
The second consideration which shows the parallel between Our Divine Lord’s Passion and Death and the Mystical Body of Christ today is found in the words of Christ, “I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” (Mark 14:27). What must have been the tremendous confusion and disunity of the Apostles when their Master was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the chief priests and was condemned by Caiphas the High Priest for blasphemy! The Apostles were indeed bewildered and scandalized: Jesus, their Beloved Master, in Whom they had placed all their trust and confidence, was cruelly scourged, crowned with thorns, and finally crucified amid the jeering and mockery of the scribes and Pharisees. How stunned must the Apostles have been!
In our times, Roman Catholics who have remained faithful to Christ and the traditional Catholic Faith are likewise confused and scandalized. Jesus Christ, in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, has been dethroned in the churches that were once Catholic. During the changes which followed the Second Vatican Council, many of the tabernacles were first relocated to the side and then eventually removed altogether. In many churches, the altars were stripped and replaced by a table with the presider’s chair behind it. No longer would Catholics-priests and laity-face the altar and Crucifix to offer the august Sacrifice of Calvary; no longer would the tabernacle be the center of worship with the Divine Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
How great has been the confusion of traditional Catholics to see their churches turned into Protestant halls and their Holy Sacrifice of the Mass stripped of all reference to a propitiatory sacrifice and reduced to a Lutheran “Memorial of the Last Supper.” How great is the confusion to see “extraordinary ministers” (lay men and women) distribute “communion” into the hands of the laity in a manner so lacking in proper reverence for what is supposed to be the Holy Eucharist.
And as if this were not enough, the modern Church of Vatican II, in its ecumenical bent, has legislated that under certain circumstances, schismatics and heretics can receive the “Sacrament of the Eucharist”!
Although many modern Catholics find this so incredible, this new sacrilegious law is contained in their 1983 Code of Canon Law promulgated by John Paul II:
Canon 844, Sec. 3: “Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick to members of the eastern Churches not in full communion with the Catholic Church, if they spontaneously ask for them and are properly disposed.”
Sec. 4: “If there is danger of death or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or of the Episcopal Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, Catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the Catholic Faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.”
Later on, in the “Directory for the Application and Norms of Ecumenism” approved by John Paul II on June 8, 1993, this law was extended to allow the “eucharist” to be given to non-Catholics during the ceremonies for mixed marriages.
“At mixed marriages, between a Catholic and a baptized Christian who is not in full communion with the Catholic Church, a eucharistic sharing is possible.”
Compare this new law of 1983 to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 731:
“It is forbidden to administer the Sacraments of the Church to heretics and schismatics, even though they may be in good faith and ask for them. It is necessary that they first renounce their errors and become reconciled to the Church.”
Furthermore, the Council of Trent taught:
“If anyone saith that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the Sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist; let him be anathema. But if anyone shall presume to teach, preach, or obstinately to assert, or even in public disputation to defend the contrary, he shall be thereupon excommunicated.”
“I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” Pope Leo XIII realized a century ago the diabolical forces which were at work to destroy the Catholic Church. For this reason, he composed an exorcism prayer which begins with an invocation to St. Michael. Pope Leo XIII wrote on September 25, 1888:
“These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the Spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.”
As our Divine Savior was crucified, so will His Mystical Body the Catholic Church undergo a spiritual crucifixion. Let us not be surprised by the small number of traditional Catholics in contrast to the many modern Catholics. When our Divine Savior hung upon the Cross, there were but a handful of followers faithful to Him: His Sorrowful Mother Mary, His beloved Apostle St. John, St. Mary Magdalene, and a few holy women.
The enemies of Christ, the chief priests and Pharisees, thought with satisfaction that they had finally discredited and destroyed Him. What was their astonishment on the morning of the Third Day to receive word that He had risen from the dead, even as He said! The enemies of the Catholic Church today believe they also have discredited and destroyed the Catholic Church. Little do they know that the Son of God has promised to be with His Church all days even to the consummation of the world and that the gates of Hell will not prevail.
We celebrate in the Sacred Liturgy of Holy Week the greatest events in the history of mankind-our Redemption by Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, and His glorious Resurrection. Let us be resolved to suffer with Him in our daily lives, especially in the practice of our Holy Catholic Faith, in order that we may rise gloriously with Him on the Last Day!
In Christo Jesu et Maria Immaculata,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI