One such email arrived a few weeks ago from a reader who was kind enough to express her thoughts in a way that showed me that perhaps the battle is not lost yet. This lady, Catherine by name, is a serious Catholic who is able to see clearly the dangers threatening that Faith. Aside from her too kind remarks about our blogging efforts I think readers will agree that, as the quote by Hilaire Belloc which can be found at the header on this blog says, perhaps it is "already morning."
Dear ‘Aged Parent’,
Please forgive me writing to you to say ‘BRAVO’ for your excellent post of Friday, 15th April entitled ‘Eating and Drinking Judgement on themselves’. Apart from ‘Bravo’, I should like to make some comments for most articles/posts I have read seem to overlook something that seems of fundamental importance.
You mention that ‘the Pope's all-mercy-no-repentance approach is nothing if not pure Protestantism’ and, of course, you are quite correct. Amoris Laetitia is intimately connected with the Holy Year of Mercy. The two events, the Holy Year and Amoris Laetitia, are (I hope you will agree) an outright attack on the doctrine and practice of the Church. Such as been noted, and includes the mercy without repentance. Neither repent/repentance, amend/amendment nor guilt are anywhere to be found in the Bull Misericordiae Vultus (whereas mercy appears 164 times and merciful appears 25 times). Penitent comes three times, but penitence, or the necessity for it, is not mentioned. Repentant, as in the prodigal, comes just once and pardon/justice/forgive-ness added together around 60 times.
However, I think the problem is much deeper and much more serious. The mercy-without-repentance/amendment is more than merely an attack on doctrine and/or practice. It is an outright attack on the very nature and foundations of the Church. Mercy without repentance is just a complete impossibility. Surely this is an attack on the very foundations of the church. For if mercy can be had without repentance (it can’t), then what is the point of the church, or the priesthood, or prayer, or virtue, or indeed, the Incarnation and Our Lord’s Passion? Nothing is left.
The concept that mercy requires repentance is not my idea for it comes from Genesis 3. The serpent tempts Eve, who then tempts Adam. However, when the Lord God walks in the garden, Adam & Eve are still there and hide. When questioned by God, instead of admitting their disobedience, they played the blame-game with neither admitting nor accepting responsibility. Both St Thomas More (where I originally found this) and St Augustine state the same: that Adam & Eve’s excuses made the original disobedience worse. More observes that it was at this point that God enumerated the woes that would fall to mankind and their banishment from Paradise followed immediately, while St Augustine says that their excuses do not excuse but accuse. Excuses and justifications rather than repentance led to Adam & Eve’s expulsion from the garden. They did not receive unconditional mercy, for they failed to admit their sin. If a lack of repentance or even admission of guilt did not work then, it is not going to work now (notwithstanding the God of surprises!).
I hope this is useful, and not too long. I should have said that I’m a mature student doing a postgraduate research degree on ‘Fear in the Life and Writings of Thomas More’ which is how I discovered all this. For your information: the reference to St Augustine is from The City of God, Bk 14, Ch 14. The references to Adam & Eve made by St Thomas More are to be found in A Treatise upon the Passion, which is Volume 13 in the Yale edition of The Complete Works of Thomas More. The page numbers are 18/6-8; 22/27-30; and 53/14-20. [This is the only available edition.] There is also one reference in More’s Dialogue concerning Heresies, Volume 6 of the same edition, page 405/6-7; and one reference in More’s Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer, page 308/32-309/2. One reference unconnected with Adam & Eve, but on the same topic is:Imitation, Bk I, Ch 2, No 1: ‘We often do amiss, and then do worse by excusing ourselves’.
I also agree with you that a chastisement is coming and that, to use your word, it will be ‘awful’. Part of the answer must be the Rosary and fidelity. But how many are going to be led astray by all this? God help us all.
I do find your blog extremely interesting and informative, and so thank you very much.
With people like this lady still around on earth surely there is reason to see a glimmer of light at the end of this long dark tunnel: