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Saturday, September 4, 2021

Reimagining Redemption: From Vatican II to Francis and Beyond

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Reimagining Redemption: From Vatican II to Francis and Beyond

Two councils, over four hundred years apart, set forth profoundly different interpretations of the role of Jesus Christ’s earthly mission. Can you identify the two councils based on the passages below?

Council A

“Whereby it came to pass that the heavenly Father, ‘the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort,’ when that ‘blessed fullness of time’ was come sent to men Christ Jesus, His Son, who had been announced and promised, both before the Law and at the time of the Law to many holy Fathers, that He might both redeem the Jews, who were under the Law, and the ‘Gentiles, who did not follow after justice, might attain to justice,’ and that all men ‘might receive the adoption of sons.’ ‘Him God has proposed as a propitiator through faith in His blood, for our sins,’ and not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world. But although Christ died for all, yet not all receive the benefit of His death, but those only to whom the merit of His passion is communicated. For, as indeed men would not be born unjust, if they were not born through propagation of the seed of Adam, since by that propagation they contract through him, in conception, injustice as their own, so unless they were born again in Christ, they never would be justified, since in that new birth through the merit of His passion, the grace, whereby they are made just, is bestowed upon them.”

 

Council B

“Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. . . . To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. . . . As an innocent lamb He merited for us life by the free shedding of His own blood. In Him God reconciled us to Himself and among ourselves; from bondage to the devil and sin He delivered us, so that each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God ‘loved me and gave Himself up for me.’. . .  Pressing upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. But, linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to resurrection in the strength which comes from hope. All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.”

If you guessed that Council A is the Council of Trent (Session VI, January 13, 1547), you are correct. That said, the Council of Trent was simply stating timeless Catholic truth that might have been stated in substantially the same way at any time in Church history. Indeed, most of the text simply quotes Holy Scripture.

What of Council B? This passage is perhaps much more interesting and perplexing to read for many faithful Catholics because it does not merely restate timeless Catholic truth. Instead, it combines some of the same ideas found in the Council of Trent formulation with some that were essentially new in Catholic theology: Christ “fully reveals man to man himself”; human nature has been raised up to a divine dignity; “by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man”; and grace works “for all men of good will” just as it does for Christians, albeit “in an unseen way.” 

Any objective non-Catholic who witnesses both the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass can see that one is a holy sacrifice and the other resembles a social gathering with a snack.

For those of us who may struggle to make it through the Gaudium et Spes excerpt, Fr. Alvaro Calderon helpfully paraphrased these Vatican II novelties in his Prometheus: The Religion of Man:

“God, our benevolent Dad, knows that man is only interested in the mystery of his own bellybutton, and thus sent the Word to explain it to him.”

If that seems a bit unfair, it is worth considering that the beliefs and practices of most of the world’s nominal Catholics are much easier to trace to this new “theology” than to the Council of Trent’s Catholic teachings. We see farcical beliefs and practices because the supposed shepherds have fed their flocks with a farcical theology. And tragically, these farcical novelties promulgated in the name of Vatican II’s theological and pastoral developments have led to incalculable apostasies, scandals, sacrileges, and damnations.

It behooves us to better understand this new theology, and thus we must explore the meaning of the term mentioned twice in the final three sentences of the Gaudium et Spes passage quoted above: “Paschal Mystery.” Though the term may sound familiar, it was indeed reformulated into a new theological concept leading up to Vatican II.

John Paul II described the Paschal Mystery in his 1980 Dives in Misericordia:

“The messianic message of Christ and His activity among people end with the cross and resurrection. We have to penetrate deeply into this final event - which especially in the language of the Council is defined as the Mysterium Paschale - if we wish to express in depth the truth about mercy, as it has been revealed in depth in the history of our salvation.”

Though this may appear to be the fruit of a John Paul II Random Quote Generator, it is among the clearer statements about the Paschal Mystery. Even the Wikipedia page for “Paschal Mystery” reassures us that we are not alone in doubting the way in which Pachal Mystery is used: “Some fathers expressed doubts saying that it was a vague and chimeric idea, its orthodoxy was dubious, and that it was ignored by sound theology.” And yet Benedict XVI described the Pachal Mystery as “the centre of what it is to be Christian – and therefore of the Christian life” (February 14, 2013 address to parish priests and clergy of Rome).

In addition to Satan — who ultimately inspires and directs all attacks on Catholicism — we can see that the globalists have a vital interest in trying to abolish both the Tridentine Mass and all virtuous action that flows from a devout appreciation of the Redemption.

For a more detailed and useful analysis of the Paschal Mystery and its implications, we can refer to the Society of St. Pius X’s 2001 study entitled The Problem of the Liturgical Reform, which describes the new theology of the Paschal Mystery and its relation to the changes to the liturgy. Although this study is not new, it is worth considering before reflecting on the current fruits of replacing the “Redemption” with the “Paschal Mystery.”

The SSPX study cites Pope Pius XII’s Haurietis Aquas as a baseline for the Catholic teaching on the Redemption:

“The mystery of the Divine Redemption is firstly and by its nature a mystery of love; the mystery of Christ’s love of justice towards His heavenly Father, to whom the sacrifice of the Cross is offered in a spirit of loving obedience, gives the superabundant and infinite satisfaction which the sins of the human race made necessary; ‘By suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race’ (ST, III, Q. 48, A. 2).”

Christ died on the Cross to satisfy the divine justice. Conversely, Pope John Paul II’s view in his Dives in Misericordia sees the Cross as a witness of God’s love for us:

“It is precisely beside the path of man’s eternal election to the dignity of being an adopted child of God that there stands in history the cross of Christ, the only-begotten Son, who, as ‘light from light, true God from true God,’ came to give the final witness to the wonderful covenant of God with humanity, of God with man—every human being.”

So whereas the traditional (Catholic) formulation of the Redemption makes it clear that Christ died to make satisfaction for our sins, the Paschal Mystery is the “supreme revelation of the eternal Covenant which God has made with humanity, and which has never been destroyed by sin” (SSPX study).

To illustrate the deep psychological divide between these two theologies, the SSPX study cites the unvarnished statement of Fr. Aimon-Marie Roguet (a founder of the Center for Pastoral Liturgy):

“Redemption takes the form of a problem to be solved. . . . How can an infinite offense be atoned for? How can one person make up for all? How can somebody who is innocent pay for somebody who is guilty? It is unfortunate that these are the terms in which Redemption is presented to many of our contemporaries. Some are scandalized in their sense of justice, and think that such a Redemption is an unanswerable objection to the goodness of God. If God were truly Father, would He be so exacting in His accounts, and would He take out His anger on His beloved Son? In the theology of the Paschal mystery, one does not meet with such pitfalls. Our salvation now appears to be wrought by a vital, free, and purely voluntary initiative coming entirely from God’s merciful love.”

We can see echoes of this every time Francis eschews the “harsh and rigid” Catholic Faith in favor of God’s “merciful love” that accepts all men as they are. For instance, his 2020 Lenten message highlights this emotional appeal of the Paschal Mystery:

“It is good to contemplate more deeply the paschal mystery through which God’s mercy has been bestowed upon us. Indeed, the experience of mercy is only possible in a ‘face to face’ relationship with the crucified and risen Lord ‘who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20), in a heartfelt dialogue between friends.”

For Francis, Jesus’s “heartfelt dialogue between friends” never involves any suggestion that our sins required Him to die on the Cross or that we sinners should “sin no more lest some worse thing happen” to us (John 5:14).

We can cast out these vile demons, but only if we fight for the genuine Catholic Fatih with greater fervor than Francis and the globalists fight against it.

As the SSPX study and Fr. Calderon’s Prometheus describe in detail, this new theology of the Paschal Mystery has several interconnected components: sin does not leave us in debt to God; salvation is a work not of justice but of love; the Savior is not Jesus Christ, but God the Father; and salvation was not achieved at Christ’s death but at His glorious Resurrection. Even if we seldom hear the false shepherds teach these novelties openly, we can see their implications and fruits as Catholics have effectively abandoned the Cross (and their crosses) for decades.

The SSPX study focused on the most significant fruit of Vatican II”s Paschal Mystery theology, the liturgical changes:

“Because the theology of the Paschal Mystery no longer considers the redemptive act as the satisfaction offered by Christ to divine justice, but rather as the ultimate revelation of the eternal Covenant that God made with man, the structure of the rite of the new missal is that of a memorial meal that celebrates, makes present, and proclaims the divine Covenant, and not that of a sacrifice.”

Any objective non-Catholic who witnesses both the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass can see that one is a holy sacrifice and the other resembles a social gathering with a snack. The fact that approximately 70% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist suggests that they have reached the same conclusion. The change in liturgy flows naturally from the change in theology. And the liturgical changes help propagate the theological changes that permeate the Conciliar Church’s entire crumbling edifice.

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Who, we may ask, would have wanted to make such a change? As a partial answer to this question we can look to a few testimonials in Michael Davies’s Liturgical Time Bombs:

“The ultra-evangelical Church of the Confession of Augsburg/Alsace-Lorraine issued a statement after the meeting of its Superior Consistory on December 8, 1973, permitting its members to receive Holy Communion in Catholic churches: ‘We attach great importance to the use of the new prayers [of the Catholic liturgy], with which we feel at home, and which have the advantage of giving a different interpretation to the theology of sacrifice than we were accustomed to attribute to Catholicism. These prayers invite us to recognize an evangelical theology of sacrifice.’”

“Dr. M. G. Siegvalt, a professor of dogmatic theology in the Protestant faculty at the University of Strasbourg, testified that ‘Nothing in the renewed Mass need really trouble an evangelical protestant.’”

“The Protestant theologian Roger Mehl wrote in the September 10, 1970 issue of Le Monde: If one takes account of the decisive evolution in the Eucharistic liturgy of the Catholic Church, of the option of substituting other Eucharistic prayers for the Canon of the Mass, of the expunging of the idea that the Mass is a sacrifice, and of the possibility of receiving Communion under both kinds, then there is no further justification for the Reformed Churches’ forbidding their members to assist at the Eucharist in a Catholic Church.”

So the Protestant desire to rid Catholicism and the Mass of the difficult idea of “sacrifice” (both that of Christ and of Christians) has some bearing on the question of who desired the transition to the Paschal Mystery theology. Like all other reforms of Vatican II that initially pointed to an ecumenical motive, however, we see something of an anomaly: not only were there never any real positive fruits from ecumenical outreach, there are refusals to even evangelize. “Ecumenism” was Vatican II’s version of “15 days to slow the spread” — malefactors who want to change the world have to convince enough of us to play the part of useful idiot to get their plans in motion, and for that they often appeal to our good intentions. By the time we realize they are lying, they have already started their process of demolishing and “building back better.”

Faced with such an assault from the degenerates of Davos and the Vatican, faithful Catholics know they are called “to act against” (agere contra) the enemy’s work.

Who else might be interested in ending the Catholic vision of sacrifice that makes saints and leads people to stand firm in opposition to anti-Catholic tyranny? In addition to Satan — who ultimately inspires and directs all attacks on Catholicism — we can see that the globalists have a vital interest in trying to abolish both the Tridentine Mass and all virtuous action that flows from a devout appreciation of the Redemption. Understandably, the globalists have no real problems with the Novus Ordo Mass or Francis, two of the most poisonous fruits of Vatican II’s Paschal Mystery — they actually depend upon counterfeit Catholicism and could not accomplish their goals without the cooperation of naive Catholics.

Faced with such an assault from the degenerates of Davos and the Vatican, faithful Catholics know they are called “to act against” (agere contra) the enemy’s work. Where the enemies fight to defeat the Tridentine Mass, we must make it our duty to promote, support, defend, and draw as much profit as possible from it. The saints tell us that if we truly understood the value of the Mass we would make every effort to attend daily if possible and always with as much devotion as we can. If we will not listen to the saints, perhaps we will be persuaded by the attacks of our enemies as they continually try to rob us of it — they fear and despise it because they know how valuable it is to us.

So too with the spiritual life outside of Mass. In the Gospels, Jesus’s disciples ask Him why they could not cast out a certain unclean spirit.

“And He said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:28)

Throughout this entire post-Pachamama crisis, we have heard very little about the need for increased prayer and fasting from the hirelings who live according the Pachal Mystery theology.   This should be one of the greatest signs that we need to turn to prayer and fasting with great devotion. We can cast out these vile demons, but only if we fight for the genuine Catholic Fatih with greater fervor than Francis and the globalists fight against it. God is on our side, and He wins. May the Blessed Virgin Mary help us to do the will of Her Son, our Redeemer, cost what it may! Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us! Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio!

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Last modified on Saturday, September 4, 2021
Robert Morrison | Remnant Columnist

Robert Morrison is a Catholic, husband and father. He is the author of A Tale Told Softly: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Hidden Catholic England. 

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