Satan at His Most Subtle: A Reflection on the Temptations and Traps of the Pious

112314What is temptation? Temptation is the work of Satan to drag you to Hell. And Satan can read you like a book and play you like piano. Do not exaggerate his power, but do not underestimate it either.

Some of his subtlest work is done in the area of religious observance. There, he can cloak himself quite easily in the lamb’s clothing of piety, but, wolf that he really is, distort it, either through excess or defect, thereby destroying you with what is good. Beware what some spiritual writers call the “traps of the pious.” Consider some examples:

  • He can discourage you with prayer by saying, “If only you would pray a little longer, God will give you what you seek.” But the deception is that if we can pray a little longer, then we can never have prayed enough. Thus though we pray, we only feel guilty and inadequate. And since we can never have prayed “enough,” prayer increasingly turns into a burdensome task; God becomes a cruel taskmaster demanding longer and more precise prayers. Or prayer becomes a superstitious endeavor whose outcome we somehow control by the length and type of our prayers. Jesus counsels us that the Father knows what we need and that we should not think that merely multiple words and pious actions are necessary. We may need to persevere in prayer over time, but God is not a cruel tyrant demanding endless incantations.
  • Satan can take the beautiful practice of praying the rosary, or attending daily Mass, or other devotions and slowly incite in us a feeling of smug superiority, elitism, or pride. Gradually, others are thought to be less devout, even in error, because they do not do or observe what is optional or encouraged but not required. What is beautiful and holy is thus employed to incite ever-growing pride and cynicism. A most extreme form of this comes from those who take the beautiful and powerful devotion to our Lady of Fatima and allow Satan to set them against even the Pope and all the world’s bishops by claiming that they failed, either ineptly or willfully, to properly consecrate Russia. And thus one of our most beautiful and informative apparitions can engender in some people distrust of the Church and disunity from her, from multiple popes, and even from Sister Lucia herself. It is an astonishingly crafty work of the evil one to take what is good and religious and corrupt it in the minds of some.
  • Satan can also take what IS required and turn it into a kind of religious minimalism, a way of keeping God at a distance. And thus he tempts some souls with the notion that Sunday Mass, a little something in the collection plate, and a few rushed prayers are the end of religion rather than the beginning of it. Such observances become a way of “checking off the God-box” and being done with God for the week, rather than a foundation on which to build a beautiful and ever-deepening relationship of love with God. Such minimal practices become a form of “God-control” for those tempted in this way; it is as if to say, “I’ve done what I am supposed to do, now God and the Church have to leave me alone. God also needs to take care me now since I’ve done what I’m required to do.” And thus the Church’s beautiful laws and the requirements describing the basic duties or foundation for a deepening relationship with God, become a kind of “separation agreement,” insisting on very strict visiting hours and specifying who gets what.
  • Satan can take religious zeal and corrupt it into harsh and uncharitable zealotry. He can take a love for the beauty of the Liturgy, ancient or new, and turn it into a persnickety insistence on exactly the right ingredients, at the expense of charity and at the cost of ridicule, false superiority, and disunity. And thus, charity thrust aside, we say, “Just make sure you celebrate the liturgy the way I like it. Anyone who doesn’t like what I like is antiquarian, a knave, or an uncouth troglodyte and must obviously hate the Church that I love so beautifully …”
  • Satan can take the beautiful love for the poor and corrupt it into an enslaving paternalism that locks them into dependency, or does not address their spiritual needs by speaking to them respectfully of their sins, or does not seek to deepen their spiritual and family lives. And thus the beautiful corporal works of mercy are either set at odds with the spiritual works of mercy or are considered adequate in themselves. Satan can send many to serve the poor, armed with half-truths and approaches that merely bandage deeper wounds without addressing them.

Well, you see, in a certain sense, any virtue will do. Satan can make use of any of them and will seek to corrupt all of them, even the religious ones. He will just as surely go to work in the life of someone in a church pew, as in a brothel or the gutter. No one is exempt from his work of temptation; his goal is to drag us to Hell.

What makes his work of corrupting virtue so insidious is the subtlety of his work, for he takes something that is intrinsically good and seeks to corrupt it, either by excess or defect, or to turn it into some sort of caricature of itself.

Virtues, of course, are meant to work in combination with other virtues that balance them. For example, charity should be balanced by truth and truth by charity. Without charity, the truth can bludgeon; without truth, charity can become harmful, patronizing, and wickedly affirming. Charity and truth are meant to balance each other and to work alongside other virtues in a delicate interplay.

One of Satan’s tactics is to take one virtue and isolate it from others. Beware of these subtle tactics of Satan, who disguises himself well in the robes of virtue. But they are detached virtues, virtues out of balance and proportion.

Beware the traps of the pious.

74 Replies to “Satan at His Most Subtle: A Reflection on the Temptations and Traps of the Pious”

  1. About the blue headed chapter on the beautiful love of the poor.
    “Satan can send many to serve the poor, armed with half-truths and approaches that merely bandage deeper wounds without addressing them.”
    I wonder if you were moved to this through Jeremiah 6:14 & 8:11.
    This may well be followed by Jeremiah 8:15. maybe.
    All we need is in Scripture but, all too often, we don’t find it or mis-interpret it because we approach it with the false comfort of pre-conceived notions. Myself very much included here.

      1. I remember a priest at a church that I once visited, insulting people for kneeling before receiving the Holy Eucharist. He said: This DISRUPT the unity of this church. What nonsense! Later, the altar rail was removed from the Church. Yes, beware of Wolf in lamb’s clothing!

  2. We would all be wise to heed these well written warnings. For it is indeed a wily and subtle adversary. As humans, we tend to view it performing the usual big ticket tricks: fallen priests, families destroyed through adultery, careers lost through embezzlement or corruption. The young kid who begins speaking in Aramaic and classical Greek, levitating in front of others. But we rarely stop to consider the subtle twisting damage it does through our minds. Sorry, some find the thought of being vigilant tiresome, akin to those who eschew training for a marathon do. Victory doesn’t go to the weak. God does His culling right here. We must want the crown of victory so badly that we will never cease trying and never drop our guard. In my weakest areas i pray daily to God to cover and protect me-from myself. The rest i slog on through for He covers my weakness with His strength.

    1. Have you ever considered that Father Corapi reacted out of very human hurt? He will be a priest forever, in his heart, his soul and his mind. There be real goats and wolves out there Robert. Too many in clerical clothing. He is not one of them. i think too many of us severely misjudge the spiritual strength, the mettle of this priest. Remember what God forgave King David. i do not judge him, simply pray for him with all my heart.

      1. I noticed a comment regarding Fr. John Corapi and have seen him in person in Lowell, Ma.
        I truly feel that God will not allow the gifts He has bestowed on this priest to lie dormant much longer.
        There is a “voice” deep within me that moves my heart and soul to believe that Our Lord and Blessed Mother will allow him to return with even greater gifts of teaching, healing, Unity, Hope, and the power of prayer.
        (And I hope he will be wearing his “BDU’s).
        God Bless all – Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.

  3. The place I’ve found this most is in the ‘New Evangelicals’, especially anyone involved with Intentional Discipleship.

  4. It has taken a while, but my wife and I, fellow-converts, and not really familiar with all the basic Church principles, are finally realizing that after reading the Catechism, going to Mass on a regular basis is the most important way we can get to know what is expected when starting each and every week the way our Lord Jesus wants us to.

    The way I interpret it, knowing the basics and doing what is offered without fail really puts Satan in a bind. Bless you, Monsignor. May you and your congregation have a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving Day.

  5. Excellent counsel and help; relevant to today’s challenges. A good weapon is catchesis and instruction of the Faithful to answer all of the whys and why nots of Church actions which, on the surface are confusing or disorienting….admittedly even to bishops at times (apparently)…

    This post is a very good start. I hope pastors will pick it up and lead from here…with a solid balance of virtues and understanding of Church history as well.

  6. “Satan can take religious zeal and corrupt it into harsh and uncharitable zealotry. ”

    I have argued that Ecclesia Dei and Summorum Pontificum provide a compassionate relaxation of the Liturgical norms and reforms earnestly desired by the Holy Spirit through the Vatican II Ecumenical Council…that it is similar to the situation where Moses allowed the Jews, because of the hardness of their hearts (the words of the Lord Himself) to divorce when it was not God’s will for them to divorce. Likewise, by virtue of the Vatican II reforms, it is not God’s will that we relapse back to the pre-reform Liturgy, but it will be allowed for a time for the sake of charity.

    Is this an uncharitable position or statement? What is the will of God, and should not we all be led to follow God’s will, and not our own ( which lead to disunity).

    1. I don’t think it’s uncharitable, but it is wrong. Have you read Summorum Pontificum? The idea isn’t to allow the older form to allow for those hard-hearted trads to relapse for awhile until everyone gets that God wants CITH and guitar Masses. Rather, the idea is that the real reform desired by the Council was hijacked in the 70s and 80s. Restoring the pre-conciliar Mass is ultimately supposed to effect a “Reform of the Reform” and bring our liturgical worship back on track, repairing it from what Summorum calls ” arbitrary deformations of the liturgy.” Rather than seeing the TLM as something God does not will, Summorum points out that “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.” We might add it also cannot be considered a violation of God’s will to worship Him the way our ancestors have for so many ages. You’re entire comment seems to assume a rupture between the (now hated of God) “pre-reform Liturgy” and the post-reform Liturgy. Summorum doesn’t see things this way, instead saying “in the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.”

      I’d strongly recommend reading the whole document. It is rather short. For a fuller treatment on the thought of Benedict XVI that ultimately culminated in Summorum, I’d recommend reading his great book “The Spirit of the Liturgy.”

      God bless.

      1. I cannot with good conscience accept your answer because it is unreasonable and has very little faith and understanding as a basis. Thank you.

        1. Taylor,

          Some specifics would be helpful. You say “unreasonable.” What reasoning do you see lacking? This seems pretty well-reasoned to me, grounded in direct quotes from the documents you referred to. Do you have counter quotes to show that Nathan’s are taken out of context?

          You say lacks faith…well…again, *how*, specifically? What has been omitted that should have been said here to demonstrate the author’s faith?

          And last, you say Nathan’s post lacks understanding. If that’s so, seems to me the charitable thing to do would be to explain what exactly it is that seems to have been misunderstood, and take the time to correct the misunderstanding. “Instruct the ignorant” is a work of mercy. 🙂

          1. I think he is reading with a biased eye and with little understanding of the history of rebellion and faithlessness leading up to SP. SP is a remedial action, and not an intent at reform.

          2. You’re still not answering with any kind of specificness. At this point, I have to say his reasoning is much more persuasive than yours because he’s actually giving his reasoning. You are making statements but not backing them up with your reasons. You say “biased” but you don’t say “This quote that he says means x actually means y. He took it out of context, the sentence before and after actually say “…”. This leads me to think he’s reading the document in a biased way, seeing only what he wants to see” If you had your reasons spelled out like that, it would make sense that you might be right in accusing him of being biased. But saying “he’s biased” with no actual justification given, sounds like mere name-calling.

            Same with repeating yourself on the “little understanding” without actually stating what it is that’s being misunderstood. Okay, so you did say “history of rebellion and faithlessness” but that is so vague as to be meaningless. It could mean any number of things. It doesn’t so much as tell us even a general category of the type of rebellion you are thinking of, like whether you are referring to rebellion of a right-leaning type (such as sedevacantists) of rebellion left-leaning type (such as those wanting womenpriests).

            On the whole I have to say that the one being unreasonable here – in the sense of not having, or at any rate not being willing to disclose – *reasons* to back up what you say is you.

          3. Charity is not received where it is not welcome. Jesus taught us in Scripture not to spend time in places where He and His teaching are not welcome.

          4. Well, Taylor, I said that to tease, anyway 🙂 I don’t actually think Nathan is ignorant. He seems pretty well-versed in the content of the document, able to quote it directly. On the other hand, you know it’s title (oh, and its abbreviation)… but that’s all the reference to it you’ve made. You don’t seem to be able to track down actual quotations to back up your assertions. Have you in fact read it?

          5. Your question stems from doubt, and implies judgment without knowledge. Jesus taught us not to judge each other.

          6. Yes, of course my question stems from doubt. I doubt that you’ve read the document 🙂 Don’t worry, you won’t be judging if you answer that question or give some quotes to back up your original assertions. That’s not what Jesus was forbidding. 🙂

    2. Taylor, again, the Devil is deceptive and you have been deceived by what you perceive as compassion, when the “Vatican II reforms” which went well beyond the ambiguous documents of Vatican II, have effected a vicious attempt to destroy the sense of the supernatural reality of the Christian religion and promote a “symbolic” view of the Eucharist. The Tridentine Mass is the most hated thing on the planet because it elevates the mind and the soul and the heart to God. The absolute sewer of a society we now live in has been encouraged by the loss of supernatural Faith among Catholics, which is connected to the loss of the sacred and the reverent in the Mass of the Ages. The restoration of the Tridentine Mass throughout the Church is the most important Apostolate in the Church.

        1. @ Taylor

          …what can possibly be wrong with giving our Lord due Reverence and Devotion?

          …have you not noticed the way people act at Mass…? as if watching a performance or a show..?
          NO reverence whatsoever.
          I recently attended Mass at a church in my area, where it was announced that cellular phones had to be turned off and CHEWING GUM! had to be taken out of the mouth before receiving the Holy Eucharist!!!!!!!

          1. Hi mb,

            I saw a lady put candies in her mouth, right before going up to receive the Holy Eucharist. People are completely lost. This is where we are folks.

    3. “What is the will of God, and should not we all be led to follow God’s will, and not our own ( which lead to disunity)..”

      How do you know that the hippie guitar playing Mass is the will of God? Perhaps, the guitar Mass was a break from the beautiful worship that God wants.

      The guitar Mass is pretty similar to the rock music Protestant services of today; anyone can see this.

      You are comparing divorce (????) with the beautiful Majestic Latin Mass? How did you come up with this logic?

      1. I did not write about a “hippie guitar playing Mass” and your tone and attitude are not from God.

        1. Oh my goodness, I hurt your ….feeling…now don’t cry on me… Did you know that song was a 70’s soft rock hit? 🙂

          Perhaps then you should not compare divorce with the Majestic Latin Mass because that comparison is….cuckoo.

          And how do you know that “my tone and attitude are not from God.”

          Are you …..Omniscient?

          Enjoy the song:

          “Feelings, for all my life I’ll feel it
          I wish I’ve never met you…
          …Feeling, woo-o-o feeling

    4. So Divorce is EQUAL to the MAJESTIC Latin Mass (Your words: pre-reform Liturgy)?

      Ah, attacking the Majestic Latin Mass with the CRAZY comparison to Divorce…you did it sir…. just like the article’s title: Satan at His Most [twisted] Subtle.

      Please explain your comparison, since you are telling everybody else that they are: “unreasonable” and “tone and attitude are not from God.”

      Bravo, Brilliant… with the: “Do it this way or else I will condemn you” attitude!

      Wow, you prove the point of this Article, of course you are not Satan but your words are ATTACKING people who love the Majestic Latin Mass!

      Your words: ” it is not God’s will that we relapse back to the pre-reform Liturgy..”

      And YOU know God’s will?

        1. Thank You! Someone needed to call a Spade a Spade for goodness sake. *Taylor* His comments were completely unbalanced. No Charity whatsoever.

          Thank You Nathan and John for your enlightened and loving reply.

          For the record my family and I attend both, that isn’t to say we attend the “Mystery Cafeteria Ordo” We attend ones where the Rubrics etc are done correctly where there isnt a Stand Up Comedy Homily. Thats whats soo disappointing, the fact that it IS NOT consistent in Novus Ordo and why TLM’s are gaining steam. (of course many other reasons why the crowds grow at TLM)
          Who wants Father never giving insight to the Gospel, but lets us know how his vineyard is coming along and in a month we can purchase a case of wine if we’d like!? or bemoaning being paid next to nothing as a Priest..(It wouldnt hurt to reflect on St Francis would it?)

          And why doesn’t anyone site that God/Jesus DID and does get upset .. He wasnt this Flowers and Pie kinda guy. Even Revelation points to His mighty power to expel the evil ignorant fools.

          God please fix our complacency! AMDG

  7. Yea, so what? We all know Satan and he knows each of us.

    Keep praying and strive for piety.

  8. Thank you for another good reflection on the challenges of life , which can seem overwhelming at one level ,

    unless we get to take all of it as gifts and aspects of us being made in His image ..with the roles and the power that come from same , to be even like the 4 ‘ creatures ‘ full of eyes , described in the Book of Rev ., that we have to be on the look out … are there remnnants of all those ancestral lines from the Old Test. playing out ….in self or the other ..and as St.Paul , in Romans as well as the reminder in here , while seeing what is amiss in the other , being truthful and loving /caring enough, to oneself as well, to see if similar traits in oneself too ,
    thus , to go to The Father , in oneness of spirit , with the other – ‘have mercy on us and all in our family lines as well , that we may get to trust in Your love and live accordingly , away from the piggy infested realms of idolatrous need for approval /attention , from those we hold in positions of power and prestige , including the self !’

    May The Spirit carry us , ever in His bosom , gentle like that of a ‘ Grand ! ‘ Father ….helping us to shed the weight , of all unneeded memories of hurts and slights , the related little / large appetites for a bit of revenge , instead , taking in and helping the other too, to do so , in Godly wisdom and prudence ,
    in the union of prayer , those drops from the Ocean of Mercy , that He holds , esp. in The Bread and Wine. into which we are asked to bring all in our lives and our relationships ,in the hope of the glory of goodness, in
    gratitude , we see and await for , in each other as well !

    Glory be !

    A very Blessed Thanksgiving and family gatherings ; may they too remind us amidst the at times whiny and demanding children , how God expects us , to use the best He has given us , in being parents /grandparents /family and waits , like we too do , to give and live in the dignity He blesses us with – which do take those vigilant eyes and the other gifts , esp. of The Spirit and the life skills He has given us !

  9. I’ve long struggled with #1 and only recently discovered my scrupulosity comes from OCD, a neurological problemthat triggers fear with each intrusive thought. So an innrr alarm bell rings, “Danger!”, at the thought of not praying “ebnough”. What I am learning in therapy is to let that alarm ruing without prsying more to relieve the fear. Trying to pray “enough”, like the good Monsignor wrotr, doesn’t work, anyway, because “enough” doesn’t exist. Spiritually, I’m striving to put my active trust in God despite my fearful feelings and rely on His grace to persevere in ERP therapy.

  10. Inspired words. Eloquently states a struggle I’ve endured myself and witnessed in others. I’ll be praying about this for sure. And offering up in thanksgiving for this post.

  11. I’m just comparing something the first point (and I think this theme is found throughout the article) in the article with something St. Basil said as quoted in “The Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection.” (which I highly recommend)

    St. Basil said this:

    “We ought to be very exact in giving to Almighty God, the time allotted for our spiritual exercises. And as, whenever it happens, that we have not had time to eat and sleep in consequence of our being obliged to watch with a sick person, … we take great care to refresh immediately our wearied bodies, and will be sure to find time for doing so; in like manner our prayer or examination of conscience at the usual hour, we must ardently desire to supply that omission, and to acquit ourselves of these duties as soon as we possibly can.”

    Where as the first point you make in this article you say that we should avoid an attitude where we have not prayed enough, prayer can turn into a burdensome task, a superstitious endeavor which is overcome with precise and lengthy prayers. Yet the words of St. Basil seem to directly contradict what you say here. Now it is true that St. Basil is expressing a rule, and that many people may take time to work their way up to this rule according to their state in life. But it seems very clear that he is saying we should be “very exact” in our prayers and in our time spent praying (and obviously, that this is a healthy attitude to have when approaching the spiritual life.)

    Just like St. Basil compares how we will be very exact in our relaxation (for example making sure we eat nutritious food), so should we be exact in asking God for the things that we need. A prayer asking for a specific intention such as “God, help Johnny with his struggles with Chastity” is more efficacious than a prayer that simply says something like “Oh God, you are so big, help us.”

    Pride is also a serious problem, but I don’t think people who do not believe the Consecration of Russia happened are setting themselves against the Pope. Just like no one is bound to believe Private Revelation in the first place, no one is really bound to believe that the consecration has happened or not. Where pride enters in is when people fail to realize that they are not the Pope, so it’s not a matter that should burden their conscience, they should pray for the Pope and worry fulfilling their state in life not about the Consecration of Russia.

  12. “A most extreme form of this comes from those who take the beautiful and powerful devotion to our Lady of Fatima and allow Satan to set them against even the Pope and all the world’s bishops by claiming that they failed, either ineptly or willfully, to properly consecrate Russia.” Please tell us Monsignor, when the Pope in concert with the Bishops, concecrated Russia as Our Lady requested and how we know this was done.

    1. St. John Paul II, for his part, asked for the envelope containing the third part of the “secret” following the assassination attempt on 13 May 1981. On 18 July 1981 Cardinal Franjo Šeper, Prefect of the Congregation, gave two envelopes to Archbishop Eduardo Martínez Somalo, Substitute of the Secretariat of State: one white envelope, containing Sister Lucia’s original text in Portuguese; the other orange, with the Italian translation of the “secret”. On the following 11 August, Archbishop Martínez returned the two envelopes to the Archives of the Holy Office.(2)

      As is well known, Pope John Paul II immediately thought of consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and he himself composed a prayer for what he called an “Act of Entrustment”, which was to be celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major on 7 June 1981, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the day chosen to commemorate the 1600th anniversary of the First Council of Constantinople and the 1550th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus.

      In order to respond more fully to the requests of Our Lady, the Holy Father desired to make more explicit during the Holy Year of the Redemption the Act of Entrustment of 7 May 1981, which had been repeated in Fatima on 13 May 1982. On 25 March 1984 in Saint Peter’s Square, while recalling the fiat uttered by Mary at the Annunciation, the Holy Father, in spiritual union with the Bishops of the world, who had been “convoked” beforehand, entrusted all men and women and all peoples to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in terms which recalled the heartfelt words spoken in 1981:

      Sister Lucia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady wished (“Sim, està feita, tal como Nossa Senhora a pediu, desde o dia 25 de Março de 1984”: “Yes it has been done just as Our Lady asked, on 25 March 1984”: Letter of 8 November 1989).

      The Vatican presented as documentation the actual manuscripts of Sister Lucia: 1) the Holy Father’s letter of 19 April 2000 to Sister Lucia; 2) an account of the conversation of 27 April 2000 with Sister Lucia; 3) the statement which the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, to read on 13 May 2000; 4) the theological commentary by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

      Hence any further discussion or request is without basis, and is a grave offense against charity, unity and filial docility to the pastors of the Church. Sadly Our Lady is used by those who would excoriate the Popes and Bishops and in this way the Evil twists their hearts and minds against the legitimate and lawful exercise of Church governance by the designated pastors. It is a shameful use of our Lady. Frankly is even a bit disgraceful that the faithful would even demand that Sr. Lucia affirm the consecration took place. It is a good testimony to patience of the Popes and Bishops that such verification was obtained. But even with that some of the faithful are not convinced and assert conspiracy theories and set themselves up over and against the legitimate hierarchy, all in strange and twisted devotion to Mary. Thus the devotion becomes devilish.

      1. The thing that is so strange about this obsession is its victims ignore not only the facts you just mentioned but also the collapse of Soviet Communism. For all its faults,Russia is a country that is far more Christian now than it was in 1984. I’m not sure what people expected…tongues of fire to descend on Russians like what happened at Pentecost? If anything, we should ask all the bishops of the world to re-consecrate the West. Last I checked, Hollywood and Washington aren’t in Russia.

        1. And, yet, “Russia” is back in full force through Putin. I have read that Lucia reversed her approval of the JPII consecration of the whole world and that the BVM at Fatima asked for the consecration of Russia and not the whole world. But all this aside there are very holy priests saying that the BVM is asking for the consecration of Russia now and that the assassination attempt of JPII is not the third secret and that the assassination of Francis will take place in Jerusalem. In light of ISIS announcing they want to kill the Pope and invade Rome, it all seems rather current. So one has to ask if the Locutions at are real. The priest/confessor to the person receiving the locutions is real enough. All of this has been and is being discussed in these daily locutions. The BVM also called Francis Her selection. So I guess we watch, we pray and we wait while staying as close to Jesus and His mother as possible. And trust the Father is in control. And I wouldn’t discount Medjugorje. JPII didn’t.

      2. So–he actually consecrated the world—- but NO mention of Russia, is what I understand. Nor did all the bishops join in the requested consecration.. There was a report in L”Osservatore Romano dated March 26, 1984, and in the Avvenire where he admits he consecrated the world, but not Russia in particular. Go figure. Therefore, I think there are some valid questions about this. Have you seen a great change in Russia– or conversions worldwide for that matter? Seems like more people are falling away form the faith and any type of religion. Something seems amiss. Just saying…

        1. Patt,

          Whether you hear about the spread of the Gospel or hear only about the spread of evil, depends a lot on where you get your news from, I guess. Yes, there are conversions worldwide. Just one example of conversions and goodness is 40 Days for Life which is a movement of prayer and penance in response to the sin of abortion. 40 Days for Life is growing and spreading worldwide.

          Furthermore, yes, there has been a great change in Russia. See Nate’s comment above. Things have improved a lot in Russia from what they were. And, while things aren’t perfect there of course (where are they ever? certainly not in our own country), there are definitely a few things which Russia is doing right that our country isn’t – in those things they actually are setting a good example for us! (one example: vocally protesting the legalization of assisted suicide for children in certain countries by forbidding international adoptions to those countries)

          1. Marie–you might to want to check out what has happened since Vatican II—FACTS such as the closing of churches, major drop in vocations, people leaving the church in droves, contraception, catholics thinking more like the unchurched–accepting co-habitation, gay marriage, and the list goes on. That is just REALITY.

          2. Well, sure, of course those evil things are reality. Monsignor even wrote a post recently wondering if they are prominent enough that we should regard them as a sign of the end times. I don’t disagree with that. It’s a fair question. And a fair observation on your part to note that these evils are reality.

            But they aren’t *all* that’s happening. There’s all kinds of great and good things happening too. And those good things aren’t reported in the papers – well in our day, online papers or TV news sources – even “conservative” sources. Most news sources report mostly bad things because guess what sells? Good news doesn’t get reported like it should.

            I think that an overfocus on the bad might be part of what St Paul might be wanting us to steer away from where he says “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phillipians 4:8)

            Should we try and stem the tide of evil where and how we can? Of course. St Paul himself wrote letters to various churches (notably the Corinthians) denouncing their wrongs. But in the very same letters he also took time to praise the things they were dong right and thank them for their past kindnesses to him – in other words, he took whatever good there was and made sure to make much of it.

            As to the main topic of discussion in this thread, “has the consecration been accomplished correctly”, I think Monsignor made that point pretty resoundingly. And your followup question of whether we’re seeing the fruits yet, well, I think the undeniable major changes in Russia (overthrow of Communism, once unheard of freedoms restored there now, most importantly religious freedom) certainly count as one good fruit.

            Whether you want to think the growth of movements like 40 Days for Life is the beginning of worldwide conversions as promised or not, certainly it is something “pure, lovely, excellent and worthy of praise”, right? Something worth “thinking on”? Have you seen how many abortionists are leaving the industry as a result of 40 Days for Life? (I think such a thing counts as a pretty major conversion!) It started with just one, but the list keeps growing and growing! Totally awesome work of God!

  13. “Satan can take a beautiful love for the poor and corrupt it.” Unfortunately, i’ve seen it. In fact i helped this, without foreseeing the consequences and about 2 weeks ago, felt truly terrible. When i first began my street mission, there were very scant offerings of wholesome food. I prayed and asked God to help me build a garden, Abba’s Garden, to bring good, fresh organic vegetables and fruits to my neighbourhood. Within a month, through City Councilman Jay Scherneir, i had two beautiful raised beds and other defined planting areas, built to accomodate my worsening spinal cord issues. It has been, thanks to God alone, a huge success.

    i had also pleaded with the Pastor at Williams Memorial COGIC to allow the Food Bank to distribute food from there. 2 years ago he did so. Because of the abundance of good healthy foods, things may have improved considerably, but spiritually, they have all slipped badly. More Food Stamps are being sold for drugs, more, not less crime, and definitely more crime. How sad is this?

  14. Thank you for this very insightful article. I do not know if charity to the poor is “paternalistic” and often failing to address the “sins of the poor”. Because we Christians are told “blessed are the poor” and the “poor we shall always have with us”. The Holy Fcom parsonamily was notably poor, so clearly, poverty is not inherently sinful in itself. Jesus admonished us that it is it is “harder for a rich man to get into heaven” with his “camel passing through the eye of a needle” comparison. This seems to suggest charity is always right when it comes to those in need. Whether we feed the hungry, clothe the naked or give water to those who are thirsty, we are truly meeting the Christ in each person and performing all these charitable actions for Jesus personally and in His name.

    1. I don’t think Msgr. is referring to programs that provide the basic needs which Christ obligated us to help the poor with. The welfare state goes well beyond this, often to the detriment of the people it’s trying to help. Development aid has also frequently been counterproductive. Truth needs to inform these programs for them to be effective at helping people.

  15. We fail God when we limit ourselves to doing good; we were created to do Holy and Divine Acts!

  16. Doesn’t anyone go to church just because they like it? I love the early morning mass when I can barely open my eyes to see. It is the most spiritual experience for me. I wish more people could have that experience.

    Regarding the Fatima consecration…God doesn’t make mistakes. Even if the Church “got it wrong” which I doubt, what ever happened is was and will continue to be His will. The gates of hell shall not prevail. Yes, we can draw a line from Fatima to today’s social crises, but rather than fretting over it, how about we see God at work in it? He is there, you know. Always has been, always will be.

  17. LoL….beware the traps of the pious….AND also the “good Catholic man” who claims to be so in love with you, says he wants to marry you, but isnt ashamed to push for second base. And after stealing the base, claims you are not whom he expected.

    Seriously. Wolves in sheep clothing.

    1. Hmm… Why such cynicism? What ever your personal hurt, you seem to dis men in general and so I would ask: Why is it wrong for a man to desire a woman’s beauty? If boundaries are in place, even if he wants “second base” (I forget exactly what that means), he might still, out of respect for a woman’s dignity and boundaries, behave properly. I mean do you really want or think there exists a man who has no desire for 2nd, 3rd or home base with a woman he is dating in discernment for marriage? Is sexual desire per se evil? No. It is an essential way that God draws people to marriage. And, if the man “pushes” (to use your word), is not the woman free to assert her boundaries and remind him of what God expects? And perhaps in his weakness he needs this encouragement. Perhaps he is not evil, perhaps he just needs help to do what is right. And with this help he WILL do what is right. IOW how about a little less cynicism and a little more understanding that he desires your beauty, but just needs encouragement to observe boundaries and seal the deal with marriage? Why do as you imply, yield to his weakness and then have him say “You’re not what I expected?” Why not be stronger in your own boundaries and not “let” his use you, whether in weakness of malice? Less LOL, please. I am sorry you were hurt but I wonder if we are getting one side of the story here. A one-sided pancake is very thin. ….”Seriously”

      1. A good chaste man will have self control and will not push for “bases.” Men are allowed to be chaste, you know!

      2. Chad, I’m not sure I can agree with your analysis here. I don’t think it’s just. In the in a situation as described to us (sure we may be missing some details, but let’s not speculate about those, and simply take the bare facts that are described): First, we have a man and a woman in a chaste relationship discerning marriage. Then man asks woman to fornicate. Then woman says yes. Then man upbraids woman for committing fornication. In this situation, the man has committed three sins. The woman has committed one. She has every right to be angry with him.

        Here are the sins the man committed:

        1) Scandal (defined per catechism as “attempting to lead another into sin”)
        (She has a right to be angry with him for this alone. It is a *grave* injustice against someone to attempt to get them to commit a mortal sin! Regardless of whether or not they say yes!)

        2) Fornication (He consented to this sin freely. Even after she said yes, he could still at any point between that and the actual deed have thought better of the plan and decided at the last second to actually stand up and be a man and call the whole thing off. “Honey, I know I am the one who asked you. And yeah, we’re just about to get started. But you know what – I’m Catholic, you’re Catholic. We both know it’s wrong. Let’s not go through with this.”)

        3) Unjust criticism (She has a right to be angry with him for this, too. Unjust criticism is exactly that, unjust!)

        I think probably #3 is where you’d be most likely to disagree with me so I’ll take some space here to explaining why it is wrong. First of all, let’s look at the respective moral positions of the man and the woman at the conclusion of the act of fornication. He’s guilty of two sins and she’s guilty of one. So, objectively speaking, if we’re going to apply the verse about specks/splinters and logs/planks, who has the bigger piece of wood in their eye? Neither the mortal sin of scandal nor the mortal sin of fornication is exactly a speck, but I’d certainly say that two planks in the eye impairs the vision worse than just one, wouldn’t you? So according to Our Lord’s words, out of justice the one with two planks should certainly humbly keep his mouth shut about the less-sinful state of the woman until the planks are removed from his own eye. Instead, he pridefully takes it upon himself to upbraid her for her less serious state of sin. What hubris.

        It isn’t that he “desired her beauty” that is wrong. It’s that he let that desire lead him to commit _three_ sins that’s the problem! At the conclusion of the fornication if he’s feeling guilty about it no way should he have decided to relieve that feeling by “venting” that *she* wasn’t as virtuous as he expected. What the heck! Here’s what he should have been saying:

        “Honey, wow. I can’t believe what I just did. I was *so* wrong to ask you to fornicate and here I have led us to both commit a grave sin. I am so sorry for what I’ve done to you and I am going to confession right now to acknowledge before God both of the sins I’ve committed against God and you.

        After that, I’m going to do everything I can to make this right. If there’s a baby you bet I’m going to support you and him financially. If not, and you are open to still continuing this relationship (I totally understand if you aren’t, given what I just did to you), but if you are still open to continuing it I’m going to be setting some serious boundaries so that I don’t ever do anything like this to you again.

        What I’ve done is a serious breach of the trust you should have been able to place in me as a Catholic man to protect your virtue. I know that words alone aren’t enough to regain that trust. I’m going to put in the work to earn your trust back by my actions in specific ways that I want your input on and the input of (wise, orthodox and trusted priest) and feel free to kick me to the curb if you don’t see me walking the talk.”

        That, my friend is what that Catholic man should have said after a) soliciting his girlfriend to commit fornication and then b) going through with the act when she consented.

        1. I left out the following words that should have been part of the man’s apology: “…support you and him financially *and in every other way that you will allow me to.*”

          Because a mother needs far more than just financial support, but frankly she may not desire emotional or other kinds of support that require personal interaction from a man who just wronged her so deeply. And if she doesn’t, but prefers to get it from others such as parents, friends, etc. he should humbly respect that. But he should absolutely make clear that she does have his complete support and love and he’ll in every way take responsibility as father of that child and not just disappear and leave her to deal, nor pressure her to make the child disappear.

  18. I love the Mass and I try to go every day. The evil one knows this and that is where the attacks come. I have experienced more anger over superficial things before, during and after Mass, than any other place or time in my life. I always think I have a handle on it and then he sneaks in there. I have learned to always sit in the first pew and only open my eyes during the homily and to receive communion. I lose myself in the beauty of the Mass and the grace and mercy I receive there. I will be social when Mass is over.
    I was confirmed six years ago, at the age of 52 and I am pretty sure I have fallen into every catagory mentioned above, with the exception of religious minimalism. Being Catholic is hard work! The pay and benefits are out of this world though.

  19. Thank you, Msgr Pope. I am afraid I have fallen into many of these snares. Your post has helped me more than Zi can say. God bless you.

  20. Thank you Msgr. Pope and also to the many who commented. Personally the daily renewal of consecration to Jesus through Mary, ( St. Maximilian Kolbe method) is helpful in this battle for souls. Does it guarantee me infallibility? Absolutely not, however it along with daily rosaries and frequent confession brings me to humility. I think our pious actions and love of God / neighbor should reflect a sense of littleness in us. After all God doesn’t “need” us, yet allows us to share in his body, His Church.
    These warning’s that Msgr. posted are helpful in this ongoing struggle for holiness, true holiness.
    I pray we all strive for holiness while we can, while we walk through this valley of tears.

  21. I have a rhetorical question and an observation: Does this mean that Catholics who were concerned about the lack of a full consecration conditions being met after the first incomplete official attempt and after the second incomplete official attempt were guilty of a sin against charity? I assume you would say no since those were, after all… later deemed incomplete (otherwise there would not have been a third attempt). And yet we were assured by the competent authorities at the time that the consecration was sufficient. With all due respect, I seriously doubt that Russia has been converted as Our Lady promised… and we are certainly NOT seeing the promised era pf peace. So I believe it is plausible that the well intention-ed ecumenical ‘deletion’ of the requested NOUN ‘Russia’ by the text used by Saint John Paul II was possibly incomplete and therefore deficient. At the same time.. as a layman… I don’t really have to blame my bishops for incompetence because I myself have not completely complied with Our Lady’s requests. I do know this though… if it were possible to sue bishops for malpractice… then most concerned Catholics would all be rich. And yet we are stuck with each other and are called to love each other in Christian charity. However, what we are not called to do is to attempt to say something happened as requested when in fact it has not yet happened as requested. An 11th hour call from the Vatican Secretary of State to Sr. Lucia will not help the matter any.

    My suggestion: For laymen and priests to begin resuming the Fatima devotions starting with the daily Rosary and the First Saturdays. Anything else is a delusion. Our Lady did not make these as suggestions. Yes, they are ‘optional’ as you say… but so is taking an antibiotic when one is dying of an infection. Lets not kid ourselves please.

    vty Bob Fox.

    1. Okay, but the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, indicates that the consecration requested by our Lady has been made, sister Lucia agreed and her hand written notes to this effect are attached to the letter from the prefect of the congregation. You can go on living in your own little stovepipe church but it is wrong to stir up in fellow believers an animus against the authorities of the church. I don’t know if Russia has been converted, I don’t know if America has been converted, frankly I don’t know if I’ve been converted. I just hope I’m on the way. One thing I suppose that is different about Russia is it is no longer aggressively spreading atheistic Communism. Frankly too I think the secular sexually confused West is probably more of a pernicious influence today then discredited communism. However debatable these points are, it is not debatable that the church is clear the consecration requested by Our Lady has been done. I generally find trying to have a conversation with consecration deniers is pretty fruitless since you all seem to think you just know better than the rest, including numerous popes The heads of designated Vatican congregations, and even sister Lucia herself. And it is just kind of hard to talk to people whose just seem to know better than everybody else.

  22. The common thread among all of Satan’s strategies is to divert our eyes from Christ. The instant we look at ourselves rather than Him, we are sitting ducks.

    1. Yes, I was reflecting on the same thing. I think we can never forget the ultimate goal- union with Christ. If we cling to him, and humbly let him work in us, he’ll navigate us through the temptations.

  23. I am very dismayed and disturbed by all that I have been reading here, whether the “Consecration” has been done or not or if the Novus Ordo (NO) is proper or not. A priest once told me that OBEDIANCE is more difficult to follow than poverty or chastity. OBEDIANCE seems to be in VERY SHORT SUPPLY these days among the
    following. There are many who think the NO has been diluted and sabotaged and therefore no longer valid. Pride has overtaken them. They long for the old ways (I do too). OBEDIANCE to the Pope and the Magisterium
    is ESSENTIAL AND MANDATORY regardless of what we think the way things should be. We are all being TESSTED with regard to obedience. If the church OFFICIALLY teaches the Consecration was done and the NO
    is valid, we are morally obligated to accept and obey. End of story. Tragically the story to some, continue.

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