Homily by Father X
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “There shall be signs in the sun, in the moon, and the stars, and upon the earth, distress of nations.”
Words taken from today’s holy Gospel. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
In the Old Testament- in the first book of Kings, to be exact- the good Lord grants Israel its first king, namely King Saul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin. King Saul is very tall, he’s a strong figure who becomes filled, the Bible tells us, with the Spirit of God after being anointed by the prophet Samuel.
But King Saul has a penchant for disobeying direct orders of the good Lord. And as a result of his sin, Saul is rejected as king by the good Lord, and David, the son of Jesse, a man after the heart of God, is chosen in his place. Yet despite being the chosen one to lead God’s people, David will not usurp the throne. He will not revolt against King Saul. David, rather, will wait for the good Lord to remove Saul, who was anointed and appointed as king.
David, the Bible is clear, is very handsome, and he’s a charismatic personality. David is also filled with great courage and gains the allegiance of the people, especially with his killing off of Goliath, the giant Philistine and sworn enemy of the Hebrews.
King Saul is filled with jealousy. He’s filled with rage against David and he seeks any number of ways to kill David. Twice, the Bible says, he seeks to pierce David through with a spear. King Saul also offers his daughter in marriage to David, but only at a cost of killing many Philistines and endangering his own life in the process. King Saul s truly possessed. The Bible is clear: King Saul is possessed by a demonic spirit and even consults a witch to gain insight. But despite all these attacks, all these dangers, David remains on the defensive. He protects himself, of course, but David never seeks to kill King Saul.
Gathering a faithful army of men about him, David becomes a fugitive on the run from King Saul, and on two occasions- two occasions, mind you- David has an easy opportunity to kill Saul; once as the king was relieving himself in a cave, and another time when David and a few companions find themselves before a sleeping King Saul in his royal tent. But David refuses to lift the sword against King Saul. No one but the good Lord is to take out the one that the good Lord has anointed.
David will wait until the Lord removes Saul from the scene. David will not ascend the throne until the time is come, according to the workings of divine providence. Saul was still David’s king, no matter how wicked and evil Saul was, and this title of king rendered the person of Saul inviolable. David did not usurp the throne, he did not demand Saul’s resignation or abdication, he did not question Saul’s legitimacy to act as a king; he did not participate in a revolution against the Lord’s anointed, though Saul had fallen from grace.
Though all of his hot-headed advisors suggested otherwise, David would act on the defensive and not be the aggressor, for he embraced the mysterious plans of divine providence and what God would allow. The good God had promised David the throne but had not authorized him to lay violent hands upon Saul. As a result of this, the great Church Father and church Doctor Saint John Chrysostom stated that David gained more merit in sparing Saul than in killing Goliath, the Philistine. David would officially become king only after Saul had died in battle; literally, falling upon his own sword as opposed to being taken by the enemy army.
Now on February 11th, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication from the Throne of Saint Peter. At the end of that month, Benedict would no longer act as Bishop of Rome and the visible head of the mystical body of Christ on earth. This unprecedented move- simply retiring from office due to age or weakness- certainly has severely damaged the papacy.
On March 13th, 2013 at 7:13 PM (lots of 13’s) white smoke arose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, announcing the election of a new pontiff. “Habemus papam!” “We have a pope!” Initially, I did not know the identity of the new pontiff, but I soon found out that he was a Jesuit, and a Jesuit from South America. To be honest with you, I was not very confident about the new papacy; very concerned, in fact, from day one.
Furthermore, when he appeared on the balcony without the mozzetta, without the traditional velvet shoulder-length cape, I was concerned that his rejection of time-honored customs might suggest that this new pope had certainly a disdain for tradition. People spoke of His Marian piety, trusting that perhaps Our Lady would temper the new pope’s revolutionary tendencies.
One thing was for sure, though: we had a new pope. Period. No voting cardinal, no, not even the Canon Law expert and former Prefect of the Vatican’s highest court, Cardinal Burke, ever questioned the legitimacy of Benedict’s resignation or the legitimacy of Francis’s election. And this is the case still to this day. No voting cardinal has ever clamored for Francis’s resignation.
Like David, Cardinal Burke sees with the eyes of faith. He embraces the mysterious workings of divine providence. He’s defending the Faith, of course, Cardinal Burke, but never being aggressively agitating or being revolutionary. His voice is not like that of Abishai in the Bible, one of David’s hot-headed lieutenants. What David stated so long ago applies here: “But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not kill Saul, for who can lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?’” unquote.
But despite the example of Cardinal Burke and the obvious legitimacy of the papacy of Pope Francis, various Abishais have arisen. Hot-headed, unthinking, and revolutionary in their mindset, they aggressively attack the legitimacy of Pope Francis like untrained pundits foolishly pontificating on matters that are well beyond their pay grade and certainly mysterious. They draw dogmatic conclusions with an arrogant air of pseudo-infallibility. And sad to say, even a bishop has fallen prey to this insanity- albeit a retired bishop.
Stating his unfiltered, unthoughtful, imprudent, and revolutionary position on the matter of the pontificate of Francis on an internet blog website, the former bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas concluded, writing quote: “I call for a meeting of twelve valid cardinals to declare the papacy of Francis the Merciful invalid as well as declaring invalid the status of the title ‘Cardinal’ on all the men he tried to elevate to the College of Cardinals,” unquote.
The Abishai spirit is strong in him as he seeks to do away with the anointed one of God, referring to Bergoglio, as he calls him, as an antipope. These imprudent statements made by both clergy and laity- their insulting language, their demands for resignation- have had a bad effect. A recent poll was done on a conservative Catholic website regarding the identity of the present pope: ‘Who’s Pope?’ Of the hundreds and hundreds of respondents to this poll, more than 70% believed that Benedict was still the reigning pontiff. Extraordinary.
Holy Mother Church has entered into the Advent season on our calendar and in Her liturgy as well. And on this First Sunday of Advent, the end of the world and the second coming of Christ is openly discussed, including the upheaval and turmoil that will occur even in the very Heavens above.
Traditionally speaking, the notion of there being signs of the end of the world in the Heavens above, and the sun and the moon and the stars and the planets and other celestial bodies literally falling from the sky can also refer to the fall of churchmen, according to the Church Fathers. That is, Heavenly bodies falling downwards also points to various bishops and priests, even bishops of Rome, falling from grace and falling away from the Faith into heresy and apostasy.
We are all aware that as the last days approach the Catholic faith and the Church Herself will have seemed to have disappeared. Tradition is clear on this matter. But in these dangerous times, in these uncertain times, in these confusing times, let us not fall prey to deception and to the spirit of the Antichrist. We cannot become Chicken Littles as the sky falls and as various prelates fall from the heights. Our Lord predicted it all.
Our Lord stated that the deceptions of the Antichrist will be so powerful that even the elect, the ones chosen by God, are susceptible to being fooled by these deceptions and would in fact be fooled if the time of evil were not shortened. And many Catholics, especially conservative and traditional ones, are being fooled daily.
What did Pope Benedict XVI actually state in his resignation speech on February 11th, 2013? Have we actually read what he said? For his words will not only give us his intention, but also demonstrate the objective act of leaving the Throne of Saint Peter, leaving it vacant, empty. Benedict stated the following, quote: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience,” -“repeatedly examined my conscience” he writes- “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to adequately exercise the Petrine ministry.”
He continues, “For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, and with full freedom, I declare that I renounce the ministry of the Bishop of Rome in such a way that as from the 28th of February, 2013 at four o’clock, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant, empty; and a conclave to elect a new Supreme Pontiff will be convoked by those whose competence it is,” unquote.
Full freedom, having examined his conscience, he renounces the Throne and the Throne is empty. Could anything be more clear than that? Pope Benedict quit. He resigned, he abdicated the Throne of Peter, leaving it empty until it could be filled by another pope. And in addition to this clear, clear statement, Benedict has, on several occasions, had to restate his purpose in resigning; the validity of his act. He writes, “There isn’t the slightest doubt about the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,” Benedict stated. “The only condition,” he states, “for the validity is the full freedom of the decision.” And then he adds, “Speculation about its invalidity is simply absurd,” unquote.
Seeing how clear Benedict was, it is no wonder that a good priest friend of mine stated to his parishioners lately that “any notion that Benedict is still pope is clearly an insane position to take”. And furthermore the notion that there is some sort of divided papacy, a daring duo of men in white carrying out a combination of both active and passive aspects of the papacy, is also equally insane. It can only be one Bishop of Rome. He’s a monarch. One ruler. Benedict’s confusing statement regarding his still “having a share” in the Petrine ministry or still being “within the enclosure of Saint Peter” was not to be taken literally, but only figuratively, as is clearly indicated by Benedict’s carefully worded phrase, quote, “so to speak” versus stating openly that he’s still pope.
That retired bishop I mentioned earlier who fell prey to that error so common today of expanding the charism of papal infallibility to the point of the ridiculous, as if the pope were impeccable, somehow unable to sin, unable to speak anything against the Faith. The bishop erroneously states the following quote: “If Bergoglio,” as he calls him, “seems repeatedly to engage in material error, that first raises the question of the validity of his election, because one expects and authentically elected Roman Pontiff miraculously and uniformly to be entirely incapable of stating error in regards to Faith and morals,” unquote.
And he’s somehow protected miraculously from ever speaking any error against the Faith. You wonder if this good bishop ever read a Church history book in his life. Didn’t the case of the very public error of Pope John XXII come to his mind at least?
With this statement made by the former bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas as a measurement for who is and who is not a pope, you wonder if we’ve actually even had a real pope since Pope Saint Pius X! There’ve been more than a few erroneous statements and scandalous actions over the last fifty years especially. Various conservative catholics are up in arms against Pope Francis’s confusing statements and teachings that are unsound and offensive to pious ears, but where were their voices in previous pontificates?
In other words, people would decry Pope Francis’s lack of liturgical reverence- not genuflecting at the time of the consecration- but what about the de facto destruction of the Roman rite by Pope Paul VI? I’d think one was a little bit more serious, wouldn’t you? Many are up in arms, and rightly so, about Holy Communion being made available in certain cases- for the divorced and remarried Catholics still engaged in adulterous acts, for the divorced receiving Communion, yes- yet one Father Ratzinger held the same position as far back as 1972. And today, even though his position ‘evolved’ on the matter, Benedict would still allow such persons in adulterous unions to act as sponsors for the Sacraments or leaders in Church communities.
And yes, it is true that Pope Francis spoke in a vulgar way on a plane interview regarding a woman who had eight children by cesarean section and made that vulgar statement, “We’re not like rabbits.” But isn’t it true that Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae spoke about the importance of ‘responsible parenthood’, seven times mentioned in the document? I guess he had fallen prey to the population or ‘overpopulation’ myth.
It is true that Pope Francis has been infected by ecumenical and interreligious dialogue fever. But has he ever done anything that would approach the horrors of the Assisi ‘Prayer for Peace’ meetings held three times during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II? This former pope celebrated the fact that he “Prayed with pagans for the first time in Togo Africa,” as he put it, which, objectively speaking, was a direct violation of the first Commandment of God.
In other words, Pope Francis is the full flourishing, the full flourishing of the fruits of the spirit of the Council. He’s not different in kind than modern popes, he’s rather only different in degree.
As a final note, more than a few catholics are falling prey to the revolutionary spirit of Abishai, which leads to various forms of sedevacantism, where the pope is no longer there- there is no pope- or that Benedict is still pope. We must embrace the spirit of David, King David, which is a counter-revolutionary spirit that endures this time, that endures the cross and embraces the mysteries of divine providence; how much God will allow and permit. Despite the evil King Saul attacking David and hurting the people of Israel daily, David does not aggressively seek to remove the anointed one of the Lord. Rather, David protects himself and waits for the Lord to resolve the problem.
We must accept the fact- and this is what people don’t want to accept- the obvious fact that Francis is our Holy Father and that we truly deserve him. We truly deserve him. He is the perfect pope for the modern catholic, the perfect pope. He’s a perfect pope for an unfaithful people, and he is the surest sign that the Good Shepherd in Heaven above is not pleased with His flock. We have to wake up to that.
Therefore, let us make reparation for our crimes and let us beg God for relief. In Advent we say, “Come, Lord Jesus, and save us. Come, and do not delay. Ransom us, for we are held captive. Look kindly upon us, and though we are very undeserving, come to our aid and remove our present affliction.”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.