Skip to comments.Why Are 2 Different Popes Telling Us to Read “Lord of the World”?
Posted on 04/11/2016 2:07:42 PM PDT by NYer
Its a somewhat obscure apocalyptic novel, much overlooked since its publication in 1907, and yet it comes with a recommendation that just about any best-selling author would covet: the spiritual leader of the whole world says its a good read. And not just the current pope, the previous one too.
Pope Francis raised eyebrows in 2013 and again in 2015 when he recommended Robert Hugh Bensons Lord of the World to the faithful as a book that depicts a globalization of hegemonic uniformity. Similarly, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, referred to the Universalism depicted in Lord of the World in an address he gave in Milan in 1992.
What makes this book so remarkable?
The world depicted by Benson is eerily similar to our own: rapid travel and communication systems, weapons of mass destruction, and a materialistic outlook that denies the supernatural and purports to elevate humanity to the highest place. In a way, Lord of the World is more timely now than it was when Benson wrote it in the early 20th century.
When Pope Francis spoke of the book as showing the dangers of globalization and what he calls ideological colonization, he did so in the context of his visit to the Philippines. The colonization he refers to is a process in which economically and politically powerful cultures such as those in America and in Western Europe impose a materialistic and secular worldview on the developing world.
When you read Lord of the World, its easy to see the prophetic character of the book, to see the technological predictions that have materialized, to see even some of the political predictions come true; we think of other stories such as 1984 and Brave New World. Indeed, in the edition recently released by Ave Maria Press, the excellent introductory essays describe Robert Hugh Bensons vision as one that inspired the genre of dystopian fiction, and they also give background on Bensons conversion from Anglican cleric to Catholic priest.
The story itself concerns the ascent of Antichrist to world power, primarily in the person of the enigmatic Julian Felsenburgh, a mysterious American senator who rises to worldwide prominence by negotiating a long-desired world peace. Any opposition to Felsenburgh and the world order that he leads melts away: nations beg Felsenburgh to be their leader, and people embrace him by mass acclamation. The only ones who remain in opposition are the few members of a remnant Church, led by Fr. Percy Franklin, who is elected Pope Sylvester III and who looks strikingly similar to Felsenburgh.
In the midst of this large-scale story of materialism, technological advancement and world government battling a seemingly defeated Church, it is easy to overlook a subtle spiritual reality: a world that denies the supernatural does not cease to be influenced by supernatural forces but rather simply blinds itself to those influences. The government ministers, the average citizens on the street, apostate priests who join the humanitarian movement all fall in with Felsenburgh out of emotion and false hope; they lose not only the perceived superstitions and moral chains of Christian faith, but they lose their ability to recognize the spirit of Antichrist come into the world. In this way, Lord of the World is reminiscent of another novel that recounts the entrance of Satan into an atheistic world that denies his existence: Mikhail Bulgakovs The Master and Margarita.
A world that fails to recognize the supernatural, a world that seeks to elevate humanity to the highest order is one into which Antichrist can enter and operate more easily. Man does not lose his need for hope; Bensons depiction of the mass movement to embrace and project hopes onto Felsenburgh presages the mass movements that engulfed world affairs throughout the 20th century and up to the present moment. Viewed in this light, we can see the character of Mabel Brand, who undergoes a profound alienation from the humanitarian mass movement, as a sort of conversion story: she comes to see the reality of evil in the world and flees from it, while halfway around the world, Felsenburgh and Pope Sylvester meet in a final cataclysmic battle between good and evil.
Perhaps this is why the popes have suggested we read the book. We ought not only be cautious to avoid using the work of globalization for the purposes of propagating policies that harm people in the developing world, but we must also bear in mind the supernatural reality that Good and Evil are real, and that to deny the Devil is to give him place to operate.
Colin OBrien works in the communications department of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and periodically updates his personal blog, Fallen Sparrow.
How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.
Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.
HOMILY OF HIS EMINENCE CARD. JOSEPH RATZINGER DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS
I've posted this quote many times but it bears repeating, ping!
The best thing a true Catholic today can do is to flee this new religion like one would flee the plague.
God is not pleased with what has happened to His Church left behind to endure until the Second Coming.
The third link is to the audio version:
It’s in the public domain, so free versions are available.
In the meantime, to be replaced with?....
I would think a “true Catholic” would require those Sacraments that can only be found within the Church. How could one claim to be a “true Catholic” otherwise?
Among our many weapons is an almost fanatical devotion to the pope!
The ‘sacraments’ are now tainted as they’ve passed through the hands of heretics.
(1) pry as many people away from the Church as possible
(2) get the rest so obsessed with the sins of others "in high places" that they neglect prayer, charity, and the duties of their state in life.
You can see how easy it is for him to find allies in these projects.
Classic statement of Donatism, a 4th century heresy. Those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it.
Yet Francis slobbers all over abortionists, globalists, enviro-genocidal maniacs, etc., etc. He can’t get enough of the one-worlders.
Spoken like a true Donatist.
"...I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings" (Diary 153).
Visions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven according to St. Faustina
Baptism. Confirmation. Holy Eucharist. Penance. Extreme Unction. Holy Orders. Marriage.
You seem to paint with a fairly broad brush. There are no honest priests left?
I’d respect Pope Che if he told me to read Camp of the Saints, but that ain’t never gonna happen.
I think that’s pretty darn plausible.
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