April 27, 2015: Often you hear religious and laity lament the dearth of monasteries since Vatican II. Indeed, the falling numbers of vocations and the greatly diminished quality of vocations have led to a great reduction in the numbers of many ancient orders.
At the same time, one often hears of the lack of new foundations, and questions why this is.
As a Franciscan brother who has tried for 18 years to make a foundation, I have some experience with all the devils which work to oppose such a holy endeavor. Since I have “inside” knowledge from practical experience, I will share what I know, for the benefit of others.
Since evil is dispelled when at once it is named and exorcised, I will first name the 5 evil errors or spirits which oppose monastic foundations and then give my thoughts on the remedy to each one.
1) The Goddess of Liberty has replaced Christ the King
One of the errors of the Enlightement was to exalt reason above faith, that is, the faculty of reasoning without faith above the faculty of reasoning with faith. As a consequent of this error, the age which saw the French Revolution slaughter thousands of souls and bodies, was one in which liberty was exalted as THE means to man’s ultimate happiness, on earth.
So violent and vicious is the Demon of our age against religion, that He uses every device and error to keep men from concluding that unless they return to the teaching of Christ in all things they shall be lost. Instead, he attempts to preoccupy men with the consideration that all they have to do is forge peace with their neighbor and mind their own business, allowing everyone their own liberty.
Thus in politics all is aimed at and excused at the altar of Liberty. And all is done to silence, hide, obscure and overturn the Altar of Jesus Christ.
For this reason, Monasteries are seen as centers of obscurantism which must be stamped out, if not by destruction of the physical structure, by suppression of them in law or subversion of them in the end for which they exist and operate.
Bishops or religious superiors who worship at the altar of the Goddess of Liberty, might at first seem very open to a new foundation, especially if it exalts a liberty which departs from tradition; but if a community veers towards a concept that true liberty consists in submission to Christ and the Holy Spirit, then it is immediately calumniated, opposed and stamped out. We see this in the recent scandalous actions against the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.
Solution: When you see a religious order or monastery persecuted or defamed or denounced because they are doing something which Christ commanded or the Saints praticed, or which comes from before the Council, stand up and defend them with voice, help them with your hands, and support them with even more generous donations. If necessary, lobby the authorities in the Church or State on their behalf.
2) The Denial of Original Sin and its effects on man
This denial has become so complete that in many of the institutions of Catholic learning it is considered antiquarian to even discuss the notion of original sin. This is partly because, if one admits the existence of original sin and its effects, then the false modern religion of Liberty falls to pieces. Because, if there was a sin which damned all mankind from the start, then man must seek salvation, not liberty; and a salvation in which his own personal liberty is consecrated and devoted to Christ the King, His only Lord and Savior.
But the denial of original sin is something which is propagated in all human endeavors. First in the error of liberty of speech and information, in devotion to which Catholic parents give their children cell phones, guaranteeing them a life time of distraction and pornography, trusting that with time they will learn not to be hooked on impurity.
They dress their children in immodest clothes, such that even girls of 4 are dressed like whores used to dress some decades ago. They give their sons gyms and dolls with exaggerated body parts, so that they end up conceiving male perfection with something which is physical, and then wonder why they have grandchildren out of wedlock or abortions in the family.
They never give their children books about the saints, which might lead them to think that one has to do something decisive to save one’s soul! Like joining a monastery — God forbid! they say.
Solution: Stop living for the sake of your own pleasure or that of those around you: instead, seek first the Kingdom of God over you and your family, by going to confession regularly, asking pardon for your offenses, forgiving those who ask for your forgiveness, and expelling from the home everything which is an occasion to sin for those in it (pornography or impure images for all, liquor for alcoholics, immodest clothing etc.), and by imposing upon yourself a good set of mores, not going out late and being faithful to the duties of your state, keeping your speech dignified, not swearing; and, without a doubt, ignoring and avoiding all mass media or forms of communication which bombard you with examples of bad behavior, e.g. sitcoms, crude-talking radio hosts, pornographic tv series (e.g. on HBO or Game of Thrones, etc.).
Praise the saints and impart to your children that the only thing important in this world is saving your own soul and that of your neighbor.
3) The work of Aggiornamento has replaced the work of Conversion
The third demon is one which possesses the hearts and minds of very many clergy and religious today. It teaches them to have every anxiety and take every action, even when exaggerated, to keep up with the times.
Consequently, if they detect any movement towards or affirmation of the truths of the Faith or the truths of spirituality which existed before Vatican II, then they pounce upon the “infected” individuals and by every art and stratagem, open and secrete, attempt to dissuade them or coerce them away from such a mindset.
They will therefore insist more and more that the religious of a monastery engage in things ruinous to authentic faith, authentic hope and authentic charity. Against the first, they will propose ecumenical activities with heretics and unbelievers. Against the second, the will propose presumption of salvation for all. Against the third, they will propose tolerance and consent to the sins of others, especially the impure.
So obsessive are such followers of the Aggiornamento, that to merely cite a document or writing of a Pope or Saint from before the Council, is suspect; to omit a citation to Vatican II, a heresy. To forbid anything for the sake of discipline or virtue is to be puritantical, extreme, rigoristic and old-fashioned.
Solution: Rebuke anyone, even if he is a Bishop or priest or religious, who says or implicates that what was before the Council was not Catholic, or is dangerous to children, adults or vocations. Remind everyone that it is the four last things which alone count: Death, Judgement, Heaven or Hell, and that all who neglect their own souls, will lose them.
4) The replacement of the Social Reign of Christ with Social Justice.
While the work of conversion requires that we consider the 4 last things, which regard the end of every individual and the Last Day of Judgement, it nevertheless remains necessary for Catholics to put their Faith in practice in public life, in family life and in social life.
For that reason Catholics must support and work for those changes which order family and state and every institution, especially in the Church, towards doing Christ’s will for men, for promoting the salvation and sanctification of men, now, and in the future.
Catholics of today fail their duty towards Catholics of tomorrow when they fail to support and found institutions which will contribute to the spread of the faith, the care of souls, and the sanctification of society IN THE FUTURE.
Instead, the error has arisen that Catholics are somehow not faithful Christians if they are not concerned only about the corporal works of mercy for those who have present needs. Social justice work has been promoted by socialists and communists and the avaricious who use these works for their own gains or social transformation. So strong is the propaganda in favor of social justice that it is usually the first basis of a criticism against monastic foundations, which seek to care for all souls and their salvation in the future, not just the material needs of some in the present time.
Solution: Since the present age over emphasizes the corporal works of mercy, devote yourself and your efforts to the spiritual works of mercy and in their promotion.
5) The refusal to see the Will of the Holy Spirit manifest in the Saints and their works
Saint Francis receives the Stigmata of Christ, on the morning of September 14, 1224 A. D., while praying on Mt Alvernia, Tuscany, Italy.
Modern Christians seem to love to talk about the Holy Spirit, almost as much as they are zealous to ignore him. They speak about doing the will of God the Vivifier, but they work every day to destroy His works and uproot His inspirations in souls.
As devotees of the Goddess of Liberty, they worship the God of surprises and fear most of all the God of continuity or of Tradition. Thus, they deny in practice if not in word, that the Holy Spirit wrote every word of Sacred Scripture and guided the Church along the paths of Divine, Apostolic and Ecclesiastical Tradition in the Church.
Hence, they deny and denigrate the example, teaching and works, if not even the miracles, of the Saints, during their own lives and after their passing to glory. Thus, they say we should be inspired by these things, but we should not strive to imitate them; and thus that we are not obliged to follow their teaching, but can merely take it as an inspiring piece of advice, not a moral obligation or exhortation to do what they actually advocate.
Solution: Respect and honor the pre-Vatican II Saints as monuments of the will of the Holy Spirit for all ages, and support those religious who do the same.
These are just 5 of the chief Demons and errors which plague the world today, and make it quite incomprehensible to superiors and to the general body of the faithful, that anyone should want to found a monastery, let alone one which restored the ancient observances of an order founded by a Saint who lived and died and was glorified by God, before Vatican II.