Thursday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy

Friends,

The Eucharist, thanks to which, God’s absolute ‘no’ to violence, pronounced on the cross, is kept alive through the centuries. The Eucharist is the sacrament of non-violence! 

-Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. (March 11, 2005)

 The narrative of Jesus’ Passion and death was the first part of the Gospel Tradition to acquire a fixed structure and, of all portions of the Gospels, was the first to be included as a recited liturgical remembrance. Note it is the narrative of Jesus’ Passion and death that was the central remembrance around which the Gospels took form and that was the primal remembrance of Christian liturgical recital. Note also, it was narrative, and only narrative, tethered intrinsically to the Gospels’ Passion narrative, which was primal and paramountnot theological, metaphysical or mystical expositions of the Passion of Jesus.

Probably a billion Christians participate in the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, the Agape Meal, the Mass, the Divine Liturgy with some remembrance of Jesus’ Passion and death every week. Moreover, billions of other Christians over the last two thousand years have also participated in the Eucharist. Think what the Church and the world might be today, if today and yesterday, Christians continuously heard in the anamnesis/remembrance narrative of the Eucharist Prayer—instead of the verbal generalities “suffered” and “died” as the remembrance of Jesus Passion and death—a narrative of particulars drawn directly from the narratives of the Gospels. For example, suppose that instead of simply “suffered and died,” a billion Christians this week heard and billions of Christians going all the way back to the time of Constantinian continuously heard and pondered a liturgical recital of the Passion narrative along the lines of the following: what would be the state of the Church and humanity at this moment?

 On the night before He went forth to His eternally memorable and life-giving death, like a Lamb led to slaughter, rejecting violence, loving His enemies, and praying for His persecutors, He bestowed upon His disciples the gift of a New Commandment:

“Love one another. As I have loved you,
so you also should love one another.”

Then He took bread into His hands, and giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying:

“Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my body,
which will be given up for you.”

In a similar way, when the Supper was ended, He took the chalice. And once more giving thanks, He gave it to His disciples, saying:

“Take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the cup of my blood,
 the blood of the new and eternal covenant,
 which will be poured out for you and for many,
for the forgiveness of sins,
“Do this in memory of me.”

Obedient, therefore, to this precept of salvation, we call to mind and reverence His passion where He lived to the fullest the precepts which He taught for our sanctification. We remember His suffering at the hands of a fallen humanity filled with the spirit of violence and enmity. But, we remember also that He endured this humiliation with a love free of retaliation, revenge, and retribution. We recall His execution on the cross. But, we recall also that He died loving enemies, praying for persecutors, forgiving, and being superabundantly merciful to those for whom justice would have demanded justice. Finally, we celebrate the memory of the fruits of His trustful obedience to thy will, O God: the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand, the second and glorious coming. Therefore we offer You your own, from what is your own, in all and for the sake of all…

Excerpt from The Nonviolent Eucharist (1991)

The intentional erasure or hiding or ignoring of a memory or of history always serves an end. It is not possible to envision any spiritual advantage or to find any good end that is served by truncating the Eucharistic Passion narrative down to “suffered and died.” Such an extremist shrinking of the narrative of Jesus’ Passion all but converts the Eucharistic anamnesis into a liturgical instrument of amnesia.

Holy Thursday of Holy Week is a dangerous memory because it is the memory of the institution of the Eucharistic with its two commands: “Do this in memory of me,” and the “new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.”  If the memory of me is bowdlerized, then the content and meaning of the new commandment will be correspondingly bowdlerized. And, the consequence of this interconnected and interactive bowdlerization will be, in the Church and in humanity, what? Look out of the window or turn on the television!

The insertion by the Churches of Christianity of a narrative of Jesus’ Passion—as clear and as descriptive as the narrative of the Gospels—into the anamnesis/remembrance of their Eucharistic Prayer is a requirement of truth, a requirement of agape, a requirement of fidelity to the Word of God Incarnate. It is a gift all Christians need to receive from the leaders of their various Churches. It is a witness to the grace of the cross that all Christians and all humanity need to encounter in Christian practice.

Wednesday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy

Friends,

A third reason that accurate remembrances of Holy Week and of Jesus’ Passion in the anamnesis of the Eucharist Prayer are potentially dangerous memories is that such memories do not look only to the past; they also look toward the future. Acute memories of acute human suffering have the power to motivate people to make life better in the future, especially if the particular suffering remembered is still unabatedly operative in the world. New memories of human suffering or new insight into well known memories of human suffering can reveal the tragic flaw in the taken-for-granted worldview of a group. Pondering the memory of a single suffering person has the power to undermine the prevailing myths by which a secular or a religious society and its rulers live and operate, e.g., the memory of one Third World mother in agony and out of her mind with horror holding her child who has just been decapitated by a First World drone or smart bomb. But, memory must be kept alive for it to have a future and not just a past.

The Church is supposed to be the bearer of the dangerous memory of Jesus, a victim of the violence of the powerful, and by compassionate extension the bearer of the dangerous memory of all the victims of the violence of the powerful across the ages down to this very day. The Church is supposed to be the bearer of the dangerous memory of Jesus’ torture and death that motivates witnessing to humanity by word and deed to overcome evil with good (Christlike agape).The Church is supposed to be the Body of Christ that responds to its own violent victimization in the Way it remembers Christ responded to His violent victimization—thereby breaking the perennial cycle of violent reciprocity, retaliation and revenge by returning good (agape) for evil.  The Church is suppose to be that group of people who hears and listens attentively to the anguished cries of intolerable pain of the victim of the violence of the powerful, Jesus of Nazareth, and by the grace of His cries hears, with compassion and urgency, the anguished cries of all the victims of the violence of the powerful. But is this what the institutional Church is?

Do the Churches of Christianity, in whatever nation they may be situated, proclaim the memory of Jesus in such a way that it draws Christians and others into strongly identifying with the victims of the violence of the powerful, beginning  with Jesus? Or, is the proclamation of the memory of the torture and murder of Jesus by the institutional Churches of Christianity made so metaphysically and mystically circuitous and innocuous that these Churches nurture their Christian people into strongly identifying with the powerful and their violent agents, who operate out of the same spirit and myth as their occupational predecessors, the torturers and murders of Jesus?

Traditional Catholic Teaching on Sacred Scripture

By CatholicScout

It’s hard to find a single website which lists the pre-Vatican II teachings on Sacred Scripture. But, contrary to certain popular beliefs, the Second Vatican Council and it’s Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum is not the source and summit of Catholic teaching on the subject!

A long time ago someone commented that the position put forward on this blog (that Christ taught a Way of non-violent love of friends and enemies, and bound His Church and followers to practice such Way) was not consistent with Sacred Scripture. That I was essentially putting God the Father vs Jesus. Which of course is nonsense in lots of ways.

So I am dedicating this post to the question:

Is Gospel Non-violence consistent with Sacred Scripture?

The short answer is yes, of course it is. I’m not making this stuff up, you can read the words of the Divine Lawgiver right here – Mt 5:21-25.

So the question is really, how does a Catholic reconcile Christs teaching of non-violent love of friends and enemies, with the God of the Old Testament.

There are a lot of references, which to an uneducated mind, point towards a homicidal God. A war-approving God. Here’s a few: Gn 6:8; 19:4-5,26; 38:7,9-10. Ex 12:29; 14:28. Lv 10:1-3. Nm 11:1-3,4-35; 14:36-38; 16:27-32,35,49; 21:4-9; 25:9. Js 10:10-11. Ez 16:46-47, 49-50. 1Sm 6:19; 25:38. 2Sm 6:6-7; 12:14-18; 24:13. 1Kn 13:1-24; 14:10-18; 20:35-36; 22:51. 2Kn 1:9-12; 2:23-24; 17:25-26; 19:35. 2Ch 13:20; 21:14-19.

The problem of course, is that the Gospels are conspicuously different. In the Gospels, God is not a perpetrator of violent torture and murder. He is the victim of it. In fact, God in the Gospels expressly forbids it.

So what, did God change His mind? No, God cannot change His mind. He always Was, always Is and always will Be the same. He is the Eternal Constant.

So Sacred Scripture is wrong? No, Sacred Scripture is not wrong. The Prophets of Old were not mistaken in what they wrote. To say that Sacred Scripture can err is one of the manifestations of the heresy of Modernism. It was Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Providentissimus Deus, who beautifully and comprehensively explained the role of Sacred Scripture – please have a read!

As St Augustine explained in his letter to St Jerome, where there is an inconsistency with Sacred Scripture. It is not God at fault. It is not the inspired author at fault. It is the reader. I am misunderstanding Scripture.

For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.

St Augustine also points out that the Gospels are the primary revelatory documents of the Church in his work “On the Catechising of the Uninstructed“.

So, for you Traditional Catholics trying to reconcile the Old Testament with the New. Stop. Read Leo XIII, read St Augustine, and relax. The Gospels are the Gospels. Christ is God. His teachings are Gods teachings.

Please, please please listen to this audio file from Fr Emmanuel McCarthy – “Question and Answers on Gospel Non-Violence – What about violence in the Old Testament?” which so eloquently answers this particular (apparent) conundrum:

I will leave you with this quote on interpretation of Scripture from Leo XIII, which is a gem.

The authority of other Catholic [newer] interpreters is not so great; but the study of Scripture has always continued to advance in the Church, and, therefore, these commentaries also have their own honourable place, and are serviceable in many ways for the refutation of assailants and the explanation of difficulties. But it is most unbecoming to pass by, in ignorance or contempt, the excellent work which Catholics have left in abundance, and to have recourse to the works of non-Catholics – and to seek in them, to the detriment of sound doctrine and often to the peril of faith, the explanation of passages on which Catholics long ago have successfully employed their talent and their labour. For although the studies of non-Catholics, used with prudence, may sometimes be of use to the Catholic student, he should, nevertheless, bear well in mind-as the Fathers also teach in numerous passages(41) – that the sense of Holy Scripture can nowhere be found incorrupt outside of the Church, and cannot be expected to be found in writers who, being without the true faith, only gnaw the bark of the Sacred Scripture, and never attain its pith.

41. Cfr. Clem. Alex. Strom. vii., 16; Orig. de princ. iv., 8; in Levit. hom. 4, 8; Tertull.de praescr. 15, seqq.; S. Hilar. Pict. in Matth. 13, I.

So as a last note to you Traditional Catholics, the Second Vatican Council does not have all the answers regarding Sacred Scripture.

Yes, You have to scrape around for the teachings and traditions regarding our traditional teachings on Sacred Scripture, but they are there!

We can much more effectively argue the Inerrancy of Scripture, the Primacy of the Gospels, and many other points, without ever having recourse to Dei Verbum – Thanks be to God!

Tuesday; Holy Week a Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy

Friends,

A second reason that an accurate remembrance of Holy Week and of the Passion of Jesus in the anamnesis of the Eucharistic Prayer are potentially dangerous memories is that memory defines known history. If the only memory available is the memory of those who were the victors, who successfully prevailed, then the very identity of people is formed from the narration of these memories and from the values, attitudes and beliefs the victors and the successful embody and encourage. Generally there is hardly any remembrance in history of the losers, the oppressed, the forgotten, the broken, the victims—like Jesus of Nazareth.

When secular and religious memory is controlled by the 1%, it is assured that what they include and what they erase, what they emphasize and what they  downplay, what they glorify and what they ignore in memory, and therefore in history, has as its purpose creating an identity for human beings, which is thoroughly consistent with the interests and needs of the 1%. As Johannes Metz writes, “Selective memory that remembers only the triumph of the powerful and “screens out” the agony of their victims, creates a false consciousness of our past and an opiate for our present.”

Since grace works through nature and not independent of it, the primal experiential memory during Holy Week should be the primal natural phenomena of Holy Week, the agony of the victim Jesus at the hands of the powerful, and by empathic extension the agony of all victims of the “great ones.” But it is not. Such a memory is too dangerous to the 1% of this world, who have built their victories and success on an ongoing, en masse, agonizing crucifixion of human beings. But if memory is distorted, by commission or by omission, to that extent it will distort any spiritual, metaphysical or mystical experience and/or interpretation derived from it.

Martin Luther said of the princes of Germany who were protecting him from the violence of the Church of Rome but who were also being attacked by the peasants they had been brutally oppressing for generations, “It is easier today for a prince to get to heaven by killing a peasant than by prayer.” The memory reflected upon in sermons and homilies and pieties during Holy Week, like the memory presented during the Eucharist, is composed and mediated, since the time of Constantine, by the victorious 1% and their kept scribes. Think about that and the dearth of concern about the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies in all the Churches of Christianity today and for the last 1700 years.

Monday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy

An accurate remembrance of Jesus’ torture and murder during Holy Week and of His response of nonviolent love to the violence directed against Him is a very dangerous memory.
It is dangerous first of all because it is a memory that ends in Jesus’ told destruction, with His friends betraying Him, running away and hiding in fear for their lives. All hope that Jesus, the incarnational paragon of nonviolence and nonviolent love was going to bring about significant social, political or religious change in things as they are and as they always have been was—as of three o’clock in the afternoon on  Friday of Holy Week—as dead as Jesus. Jesus was dead wrong, the meek never have and never will possess the earth. The violent rule. The default option of all ruling power comes from the barrel of a gun. The violent may tolerate the likes of the nonviolent Jesus for a while but can and will do-him-in if ever they feel the need to do so. As of Saturday of Holy Week, Jesus changed nothing socially, politically or religiously in Israel or in the world. That is a dangerous memory for any Christian who espouses any species of Constantinian Christianity—conservative, liberal or radical.

Holy Week: The Triumph of the Spirit of Cain

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

Milan Kundera

For Christians, Holy Week is the most meaningful and most significant week of the liturgical year—most meaningful and significant because the events of that week actually took place some two thousand years ago, and most meaningful and significant because they are every year somewhat liturgically remembered. But for the vast majority of people alive during that week two thousand years ago—or, indeed, for most living during any Holy Week since then—it is just another week, no different from any week before or after: Just another week filled with births and deaths, joys and tears, hopes and fears, loves and hates, mercy and violence, quiet and not so quite desperation, empathy and enmity.

The primal spiritual encounter of Holy Week—between Satan and God, evil and good, the lie and the truth, death and life, total destruction and total salvation—takes place on the historical plane as an encounter between violence and nonviolence, violent hate and nonviolent love, violent justice and nonviolent righteousness, violent retribution and nonviolent forgiveness, violent mercilessness and non violent mercy, violent wounding and nonviolent healing, violent power and the power of nonviolence, violent holy men and a nonviolent Holy Man, violent people and a nonviolent person, the violence of the secular and the religious kingdoms of this world and the nonviolence of the Kingdom of God, the violent Prince of this world and the nonviolent Prince of Peace, violent monotheism and nonviolent monotheism, the violent Cain and the nonviolent Christ, the violent sword and the nonviolent cross. Jesus does not suffer and die quietly, in bed, from medical problems associated with old age—and there must be a reason in the Redemptive Plan of God through Jesus Christ for this.

Holy Week is situated and saturated in a life-and-death battle between violence and nonviolence. Take the violence of humanly planned and executed torture and murder out of Holy Week, and there is no Holy Week. Take Jesus’ Nonviolent Love of all, of enemies and of friends, of His torturers and of His murderers, out of Holy Week and there is no Holy Week. If we do not choose to accept His Word as He communicates it, then we have no access to authentic revelation, which means we have no access to its power and wisdom.

So why do bishops, priests, ministers, and pastors refuse—almost universally, and almost universally in the spirit of willful obstinacy—to talk about, much less focus on, nonviolence, or its derivatives, e.g., nonviolent love, in their sermons about Holy Week during Holy Week? Is it for the same reason that they have reduced the torture and murder of Jesus to the mere words “suffered and died” in their Eucharistic Prayers? The same reason that they selectively forget to include Jesus’ response of Nonviolent Love towards His torturers and murderers in those same prayers?

Is it for the same reason that the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are employed as the two fundamental public creeds of their Churches—two restatements of individual and communal beliefs that fail utterly to mention Christ’s Way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies? Why is it that these Creeds jump, non-stop, from the cradle to the crucifixion, ignoring the crucial revelation and teaching of the nonviolent love of all—always—which is the will of the Father done in heaven that Jesus comes to proclaim, by word and deed, must be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 5:38-48; Lk 6 27-36; Mt 6:10; Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2822). “[B]orn of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried,” reads the Apostles’ Creed. “He came down from heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered, died and was buried,” reads the Nicene Creed. Is it a matter of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ in order to leave unquestioned and unquestionable the status quo which is already in view and in the mind?

Nowhere did the authors of these Creeds deem it necessary or worthy of mention that Jesus did not just die. He was murdered. An act of violence was responsible for His death—that’s what the word murder communicates. Murdered means someone is intentionally killed by another person or persons. In this case, Jesus was intentionally killed by the violent religious and political rulers of His time and place, and by people who accepted to live in their spirit and according to their direction. Jesus is a victim of religious and state violence. More precisely, He is a victim of those human beings—whether they be a Pilate or a Caiaphas, a soldier or an armed servant— who buy into the violence and enmity justifying myths of a religion and/or of a state. Jesus came to free every human being and all humanity from being enslaved by the hypnotic spell of these mythical, non-existent, idolatrous, hideous and hellish gods of violence and enmity made in the image and likeness of fallen man. He accomplished this Divine Task by revealing in His words, and deeds, life and death, the true image of God, namely, God as Father of all, God as Nonviolent Love (Agape) of all —always.

Is it even rational to believe that the manner of Jesus’ death and the Spirit in which He dies are irrelevant to the salvific truth and saving grace that God desires to communicate about Himself, His Will and His Way to humanity through Jesus? Is it possible to honestly hold that Jesus’ steadfast response to violence—nonviolent love, and nothing else—demonstrated throughout His entire ordeal during Holy Week, is not essentially significant? That it does not reveal to humanity the knowledge of the power that saves from every form of evil and death, including, most pointedly, all species of violence and enmity?

As of Saturday of Holy Week, the spirit that seduced and possessed Cain has triumphed, as it has triumphed throughout all of human history. As of Saturday, Holy Week is just another week glutted, at every point of longitude and latitude on this planet, with anonymous, countless victims of violence, largely forgotten, except in the hearts of those who loved them, where the memories often become the motivation for perpetuating that same violence. As of Saturday of Holy Week, violence rules.

As of Saturday of Holy Week, nonviolence and the nonviolent love of all, even lethal enemies, are again incontestably verified by the world as an express ticket to the grave and to doormat status in history. Nonviolence can speak the truth with love—as Jesus did—to those who live by the power of violence, and those who live by the power of violence can snuff that word out like a bug—as Jesus was— if that is what they want to do.

There is nothing in the torture and murder of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels during Holy Week to suggest that He intended harm, in the short, medium or long-term, to anyone, including His lethal enemies. His steadfast nonviolent love toward both betraying friends and murderous enemies has no motive other than the intention to do the Will of the Father in heaven, to which Jesus wholeheartedly desires to be faithful. He knows that the Will of the Father is that all human beings be saved, and He knows the means by which they will be saved. On earth Jesus loves (agapé) as He knows the Father in heaven loves (agapé), because He knows this love (agapé) is the Will of the Father that must be faithfully and ceaselessly incarnated on earth in order to release the power—the only power—that can save each and all. He knows this love must be made visible by living it, so that each and all can imitate it (His new commandment), not only because it is the Way to Eternal Life but also because that Way—the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is the Way to participate in the Eternal Life of God “who is love” (agapé), here and now.

If ever there was a moment when we could see what the Love of God looks like, if ever there was a moment when we could see the Way of “God who is love” in action in the flesh, if ever there was a moment to clarify and solidify for ourselves what the imitation of Christ entails, what Jesus’ new commandment—Love one another as I have loved you—means and calls for, prescribes and proscribes, Holy Week is that moment par excellence.

But, if we do not remember Holy Week accurately, if we do not remember the torture and murder of Jesus accurately, if we do not remember that the historical battle two thousand years ago was the battle between the evil of violence and the Nonviolent Love of all, at all times and under all circumstances, then to that extent we will be unable to follow Him properly, ‘to love one another as He loves us’ correctly. A fuzzy, euphemistic by omission, emaciated, watered-down, poorly articulated remembrance, whether during Holy Week or during the anamnesis narrative of the Eucharistic Prayer recited every week, results in the loss of grace otherwise available to a person, to a Christian community, and to all humanity through Jesus’ sacrifice of self —an act of self-sacrifice that made the invisible love (agapé) of God supremely visible to human beings trapped in the impenetrable spiritual darkness of disordered desires and passions.

Jesus is indeed a sacrificial victim, but not of some blood thirsty God who demands His ounce of blood down to the very last drop to avenge a wrong done to him, before he will forgive. He is a victim of violence, of humanity’s uninterrupted history of, and nurturing in, violence. He is a victim of individual human beings living in and out of the spirit of violence. But He is a victim of that violence precisely because He refuses it: He knows it and calls it what it is: lie, sin, the means and method of Satan, never an activity of God. He refuses to stop loving the violent ones as their Father in heaven loves them. He refuses the option of violence and chooses instead the option of Nonviolent Love because He knows that only choosing the Way of God—agapé—can impart to those murdering Him, and to all humanity, the gift of the very Life of God—that same Divine Nonviolent Agape—that can save them, and everyone, from falling forever into an eternally inescapable black hole.

Jesus is a sacrificial victim to human violence and for human beings because He chooses nonviolent love of all—even lethal enemies—as His option to confront violence, in order to reveal to humanity the only Way out of the wickedness and snares of otherwise unconquerable evil. The sacrifice of Jesus is a sacrifice of Love.

But as of Saturday of Holy Week, the book on Jesus’ life has been closed by the victorious violent ones. It is now entombed, seemingly forever, in the bowels of the earth, together with all the books on all the lives of all the billions of victims of violence—never to be read by anyone. And as far as His opening the gateway to salvation for all humanity, well, He couldn’t even save Himself, could He? His unrealistic, impractical, foolish, idealistic Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies was powerless before the power of violence. Wasn’t it? It bit the dust and, as of Saturday of Holy Week, was returning to dust. As of Saturday of Holy Week, the power that Cain released into the human condition continued to reign in human existence—with no way out even imaginable. The law of violence and its seed—fear—and its most destructive fruit—also fear—simply continue to rule human life, as they have done from time beyond recorded memory.

Station XII: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Consummatum est. The death rattles, the open eyes, the limp, heavy, breathless body, this is how it ends, on a small piece of dirt on a small planet in a small solar system, which is only one of a hundred billion solar systems in a small galaxy, which is only one of billions of galaxies in the known universe. On this little space, life, personality, and possibility expire.
Hydrogen continues to turn into helium on the sun; people in China and Finland and Angola go about their business; microscopic life eats microscopic life in a drop of water; politicians and their moneyed friends continue to connive as usual; fear seizes the hearts of millions; romance fills the hearts of millions of others; boredom and fatigue empty the hearts of billions; meals are cooked and eaten; dreams are dreamt; revenge is planned; games are played and tens of thousands are buried each day. All this and more continues to happen oblivious to the fact that a person has just freely chosen to give up His life on the cross of nonviolent love. Does anyone know? Does anyone care? Was it worth it? Was it really the right course? What difference does it make?” (Stations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love)

So ends Holy Week. Another in the succession of unending unholy weeks of violence has concluded. A life of Nonviolent Love, the life of a human being who believed that through living this Way He was being unreservedly faithful to the will of God and serving humanity has also to an end. The results: another week of total triumph for the spirit of Cain.

Palm Sunday Entrance of the Nonviolent Jesus into Jerusalem

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The warrior’s bow shall be banished,
And he shall proclaim peace to the nations.

His dominion shall be from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.”

-Zachariah 9: 9

“Although Mark does not mention the text, the entrance into Jerusalem (MK 11:1-11) is such a clear echo of Zechariah 9:9 that hardly any interpreter doubts that a reenactment was deliberately intended. The Messiah king appears as meek and lowly, riding upon an ass, without the trappings of royalty and the panoply of war; he is the very antithesis of the conquering political and military hero.”
Light on the Gospels: A Reader’s Guide, Fr. John L. McKenzie p. 95

The root cause of Just War Theory – why is this important?

Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.

Matthew 26:36-42

Why is the way we understand Christ’s Agony in the Garden important?

Because it’s about Salvation. What was the thing that Saves? Is it Christ’s death on the Cross? Is it Christ’s decision to accept the Will of the Father, that Christ should suffer and die for the Salvation of All?

What I am saying is that the Saving Grace, the thing that Saves, is the free choice (free use of the will) to be obedient to the New Testament. Christ Saves by being obedient to the New Coventant.

That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:34

Everything within Catholic Salvation History, Tradition, Canon Law, Theology and on, falls into place, and only into place with this understanding.

I am Saved by, until the day I die, cooperating with God’s Grace, in freely choosing with my will to be obedient to the New Testament.

The Gates of Heaven, were thrown open, and Salvation was offered to all, when Christ showed us the Way. He freely chose to be obedient to the New Testament. He did not resist evil, he did not retaliate, he repaid good for the evil done “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. And He went to His death showing us The Way.

If I choose not to be obedient to the New Testament, my salvation is in peril. If I die, unreconcilled with God and His One Holy Catholic Apostolic (Roman Catholic) Church, then I will not see the Beatific Vision.

That is why it is important.

Just War Theory cannot exist under these circumstances.

The root cause of Just War Theory – a misinterpretation of the Agony in the Garden?

Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.

Matthew 26:36-42

All four of the Gospels record that Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane before his passion, only the Apostle John does not record what happened there.

Last Sunday (14th September) was the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, and while listening to the homily at Mass, I found myself disagreeing with the preacher on nearly every point of his sermon. I won’t try to recount the entire homily here, however the basic point was that the Christ’s passion and death on the cross, was what brought salvation to humanity.

In listening to the homily and my interior disagreement, I stumbled across what I think may well be the root cause of the prevalence of the Theory of Just War in the Catholic Church.
It comes down to a simple question:

What was the “chalice” in the Garden of Gethsemane?

The (post-Constantinian) Traditional Catholic understanding is that the “chalice” presented to Christ is the Father’s requirement that His Son should suffer and die, and by the Son’s suffering and death, the Son would save the world.

Perhaps putting it in plain English like this, you my readers may already perceive a subtle problem:

Arianism.

There is an every-so-slight corruption of the Dogma of the Hypostatic Union of Christ’s humanity and divinity and the Dogma of the Most Holy Trinity – specifically the Homoousios (consubstantial with the Father).

There are several understandings of the Chalice and the Agony in the Garden presented in Traditional Catholicism.

  1. Christ is presented with a revelatory command from the Father
  2. Christ is accepting the burden of all sin.
  3. Christ contemplates the sufferings about to come.

One or any combination of these, according to some Traditional understandings cause Christ to sweat blood (the Agony in the Garden).

The first position is Arian, because it corrupts the Hypostatic Union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and the Consubstantiality with the Father.
God the Son knows perfectly everything that the Father knows (Homoousios clause of the Nicene Creed), and the human intellect of Jesus Christ knows what the Divine Intellect of the Son knows by the Hypostatic Union between Christ’s divinity and His humanity.
It is impossible for the Son to receive a “revelation”.

The second position Theologically is transferable. It can support an Arian point of view that says the Father commands the Son to take on the sins of the world – which equally means the Father commands the Son to suffer (because Scripture says the Son does indeed suffer). The cause of Christ’s Agony in the Garden as being the acceptance of all Sins is logically more complicated than my conclusion below (Occham’s Razor).

The third position frustrates the Dogma of Hypostatic Union and Homoousios. Like the first position, there is a concept that new information is being presented. But to admit that is Arianism, a denial of the Hypostatic Union and the Homoousios of the Father and the Son. Christ has always known the information.

Please note: I said that it is an “Arian point of view that says […] the Father commands the Son to suffer”.

Why is it Arian to hold that the Father commanded the Son to suffer?

Homoousios means that the Father cannot withhold anything from the Son. The same works the other way around, the Son cannot withhold anything from the Father. What the Son teaches and holds as absolutely true, the Father teaches and holds as absolutely true. There can be no divergence.

The Incarnate Son condemned violence and enmity, so the Father condemns violence and enmity – absolutely and for all time (past, present and future). The Incarnate Son provided a New Covenant, a New Commandment; “Love one another as I have loved you”, which means that the Father Commands this too.

To hold otherwise would deny the Homoousios or the Hypostatic Union – Arianism. Either God the Son and God the Father say different things (no Homoousios), or there is a miscommunication between the Divine Person, God the Son and human intellect and will of Jesus Christ (no Hypostatic Union).

For example run this past your logic: “Son, I command You to suffer and die on the cross, for the fulfilment of scripture and the salvation of the human race”. Does that fit with “Son, I love You as You love Me”?

If it were respecting of the Homoousios (or consubstantiality) then the command must be mutually applicable. The Son must be able to say the same to the Father – “Father, I love you, so you must suffer and die”. Such a concept is absolutely abominable.

So if Christ already knows what is going to happen, and has not been commanded by the Father to suffer and die, what is left for the Incarnate Son, who at the time, is bound by the temporal?

Christ knows. Christ is also perfectly in control of Himself. What is the one thing that remains, one thing that can only be done in the moment?

Quite simple – the use of his human free will.

Christ, knowing all things, that he was about to be betrayed, to be violently abused, tortured and killed, had a choice whether or not to be obedient to the Commandment that He (and thus entire the Holy Trinity) gave to His Disciples in the Upper Room minutes ago. To return good for evil. Not to respond to violence with violence. To love those that did evil to Him.

And what was the ultimate Good that He could do, in the ultimate evil that was about to happen (Deicide)? To offer His suffering as expiation for sins.

The Chalice was not the sins themselves, it was the free assent to obey to His own law; Non-violence. Knowing, absolutely, what was to happen, Christ had the choice to run away, He had the choice to resist, even resist violently. It was the weight of the choice whether, or not, to be obedient to His own teaching (and therefore all the consequences), which was enormous enough to make Him sweat blood.

But He did, what He taught His disciples, and His Church to do. He freely chose to obey His own Command. He did not resist evil, He did not give way to violence, He repaid evil with Good. He did what He Commands us to do.

Christ saved us, by being obedient unto death, even death on the cross. Obedient to His own Command of non-violent love of those that do evil to Him.

The Cross, His Passion and death, are not what saved humanity. What saved humanity was His decision to abide by His own Law, and as a consequence of that obedience he was tortured and murdered. The Cross, the instruments of His Passion, are consequences, which if taken by themselves loose all importance. The key was free assent to His own Law.

He was obedient, and by being obedient, He did the greatest Good in return for the greatest evil, He offered His death in reparation.

The Exultation of the Cross, isn’t the exultation of His suffering and death exclusively. It is the proof that Christ was willing to show us, even to the most horrible torture and death, that obedience to His own Commandment is the Way. He loved those that tortured and murdered Him, to the extent of offering His suffering in expiation of all sin, for all time. The glory of the Cross, is the Exultation, manifestation, of Gospel Non-Violence.

The root of the Theory of Just War, I believe, is the Arian heresy. A denial of the Homoousios “oneness”.

CatholicScout Responds: Chesterton: Is War Irrational — or is Pacifism Feverish?

On the international traditional Catholic newsblog, Rorate Caeli, there was a post titled “Chesterton: Is War Irrational — or is Pacifism Feverish?“.

One of my readers has asked for my comments on the post.

Firstly, let me just clear the ground, Rorate Caeli is an outstanding blog, and I highly recommend it for keeping the pulse on Catholic News. However, I must swiftly point out that the contributors to Rorate Caeli are human and fallible. In this particular case, both the contributor and the original author are very wrong.

In the first case, the contributor (NewCatholic) is attempting to use G K Chesterton’s rant against 1915 pacifists, essentially as a Call to Arms for modern-21st Century Catholics to support homicidal violence in the Middle East (and elsewhere no doubt). The contributor here visibly demonstrates what I have mentioned in previous posts – the strong tendency that exists among Traditional Catholics towards “justifiable homicide”. In Traditional Catholic circles the theory of a “Just War” after almost 15 centuries of inculcation, has for them become dogma. Those that suggest otherwise are anathema.

Traditionalists will point out that Just War theory was supported by Saints Ambrose (d.397), Augustine (d.430), St Thomas Aquinas (d.1274) and so on. There are even Traditionalists with whom the appeal to Scripture and the Divine Lawgiver would be lost on. There are even some Traditionalists that believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ would kill humans in war (if it were just). There is one thing common to these and all other Christians who hold similar ideas:

Their perception of reality is incongruous to historical fact. They are deluded.
The fact that Saints were deluded too, shouldn’t be too much of a shock either, since Canonisation is simply saying that the Saint is in heaven, not his/her works.

The contributor is doubly wrong in using this quote from G K Chesterton for advocating “Just War” on a Catholic blog, because they quote G K Chesterton writing an article on “May 29, 1915“. G K Chesterton became a Catholic in 1922. At the time of writing this article G K Chesterton was a heretic…

The contributor is triply wrong in using a quote from the Anglican G K Chesterton, because Pope St Pius X, who died from grief at the outset of World War One, both warned the world and condemned the onset of war. Pope St Pius X, the person the contributor should have quoted, said before the onset of World War One:

Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: “There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man.

In the second case, G K Chesterton, a man of great renown and later on in life of great holiness, he is a fallible human being, just like you or I. In the case of this particular rant, he is most certainly wrong on several counts. Let us assume for a moment that the Anglican G K Chesterton had written this article about me. I respond as follows:


Dear esteemed sir,

In response to your article in The Illustrated London News, May 29, 1915.

Your argument that Pacifism is morally wrong, is correct, if by Pacifism you mean doing nothing in the face of evil. Firstly, I am not a “Pacifist”. I am a Christian who believes that Christ Commanded us not to commit homicide. However, Christ did not Command us to do nothing in the face of evil. Christ showed us a way to confront the power of evil, with the power of Good. He showed us the Way to return good for evil done, and to be “obedient [to His Commands] unto death, even to the death of the cross” (cf. Phil 2:8).

Christ’s Way of returning Good for evil, is the only morally pure and right course of action. War, homicide, violence are condemned by the Messiah.

If now we talk about Gospel Non-Violence (having put away the notion of Pacifism), I can assure you sir, that I believe that Christ Commanded His followers (and His Church to teach all future generations) to “love one another, as [He] has loved [us]” (cf. Jn 13:34). I believe that His New Commandment is absolutely binding to all who claim to be His disciples, just as the Commandments of Old were (and still are) to the Jews. I believe that there are no exceptions, no clauses, no excuses, and I believe that the Church and her Saints were, and are, wrong in suggesting otherwise. I emphasise “suggesting“, because let me remind you, the Church has never infallibly proclaimed the Theory of a Just War to be Dogma.

There is no moderation in my position, because there is no moderation in Christ’s position (as born witness by Sacred Scripture and the first three centuries of Christianity). Just because there are few of us that hold such a fundamentalist position, does not undermine the fact that it is supported by the Fathers of the Church, the Apostles and God His-Incarnate-Self.

Since our salvation rests on the Saviour of Mankind, and since He showed us the Way to Eternal Life, please, esteemed sir, point out to me where Christ said that there is such a thing as “wars that are right and wars that are wrong”. Christ didn’t pronounce judgements and commandments about many things (such as those things that were already absolutely anathema at the time – like contraception, abortion, sodomy etc.), but he did pronounce judgements on killing, violence and harming others (things which were at the time considered justifiable). War is simply an extension of the killing, doing violence or harming of a single human being.

Since Christ did condemn the killing, doing violence or harming of a single human being, how do you sir, justify that doing it to hundreds, thousands, tens or hundred of thousands, or millions, can be right?

The Way of Christ is one of obedience. Obedience to His Law. Not to man’s. It is not easy, but the reward is Eternity.

Yours Sincerely,
CatholicScout.


Lastly – please pray for us dear Gilbert Chesterton, that we don’t use your words to send our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters off to war, to kill other peoples’ brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.