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Spirit Daily ^ | March 12, 2003 | Michael Brown

Posted on 03/12/2003 8:41:44 AM PST by NYer

Ten years ago, when I first met my wife, we wandered into a small chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael. We wanted to see what it was all about. The Mass was in Latin, and everyone was the epitome of "traditional," most evident in the women, who all wore something on their heads.

I enjoyed the Latin mystique and later met with the priest, who'd given a thunderous homily containing many words that I wish were spoken every Sunday at the other, more conventional churches. There was talk of the devil; there was strong, direct commentary on the evil of the times; there was great emphasis on the sacraments.

All that was good, but it was a church of maybe seventy people, and upon further investigation, it was out of line. The chapel was not obedient to the local bishop -- who in fact had banned it -- and thus was unaffiliated with Rome. The "bishop" for this church in Upstate New York lived a good distance away, in Connecticut. The pastor sent me books claiming that the Novus Ordo Mass (the one we have, the one the Pope celebrates every day) is not valid, and that all the popes since Vatican II have been "anti-popes." In fact, one book claimed that Paul VI had been an actual imposter -- a man disguised as the real Pope. We watched from a distance as the place fell apart and the pastor was later jailed when the congregants had him arrested for what they claimed was theft.

It was a shame, seeing this sort of dissension. I really appreciate the goodness and devotion of many traditionalists, but there is the issue of obedience, which the Bible tells us is greater than sacrifice. From what I understand, there are about 600 chapels in the U.S. with similar "traditionalist" leanings and perhaps 100,000 congregants. One of them is arguably the most famous actor in the U.S., Mel Gibson. In fact, Gibson, who first rose to fame as the star of Lethal Weapon and then Braveheart, is constructing a 9,300-square-foot mission-style church in the mountains near Malibu based precisely on this sort of traditionalism. He has sunken $2.8 million of his own money into it. It has about the same membership as the one I visited, and is likewise "unaffiliated" with the diocese.

This naturally concerns me. According to press reports, Gibson's father has penned a book that criticizes John Paul II (one of the greatest pontiffs of all time) and is entitled, Is the Pope Catholic? I find this  unfortunate in the extreme, and wish Mel's church were in line with official Catholicism. The websites for many "traditionalist" groups are full of vitriol toward Rome and what can only be described as wild conspiracy theories (one example: there was no Holocaust).

But let me hasten to add that, in all this coming out at this time, it seems the famous actor is encountering what is called "spiritual warfare." Let me be more straightforward: Gibson is being attacked by the devil. He is being attacked because he has firm Christian beliefs in a country that has strayed from them and in a place -- Hollywood -- where there are few firm beliefs in anything but the flesh, in anything but money, in anything but hedonism and celebrity and the New Age (blame Hollywood for projecting an awful image for America, one that is now coming back to haunt us). He is being attacked for trying to be good. And he is being attacked for directing a new movie called The Passion that portrays the Crucifixion of Jesus as it has never been portrayed, focusing on the last 12 hours of His life and all in the dialogue of ancient Aramaic and Latin. In short, Gibson is seeking to show us how truly awful, how great, was the suffering of Jesus.

As such, in a world like the one in which we now live, in a world that seeks to negate Christ, we find what Mel Gibson is doing nothing short of courageous, by all reckonings a great risk. His production company is picking up the $25-million cost. And everyone is asking how such a film -- with no English -- could succeed. Answers Gibson: "I didn't invent this story. I do happen to believe it. It's something that just gets inside of you and has to come out. I'm just trying to tell it well, better than it's ever been told before. There is no greater hero story than this one – about the greatest love one can have, which is to lay down one's life for someone. The Passion is the biggest adventure story of all time. I think it's the biggest love-story of all time; God becoming man and men killing God – if that's not action, nothing is."

Gibson understands Christ and he also comprehends demonic attack. He alluded to it in an interview with television show host Bill O'Reilly when he mentioned that such projects bring mysterious opposition. At the time, he was referring to an upcoming article in The New York Times that was to focus on his and his father's traditionalism (it ran last Sunday). He felt the Times was out to discredit him, and if such "attacks" occur it will be no surprise considering the power behind the film, which is inspired by the Bible and the writings of mystics such as Catherine Emmerich. The star, the actor playing Christ, is Jim Caviezel -- whose own conversion is traced in large part to Medjugorje. Miracles are said to be occurring on the set. There must be power in this film. There is always power with Jesus' Blood!

And so, naturally, there is resistance. My goodness: of course the devil is going to resist this. He is tremendously active right now. He is perverting everything. He has caused imbalance at every turn. He is fogging our thinking. And except for rare films, he dominates the world of entertainment. Did anyone note that just before that fire in  Rhode Island, in that nightclub, the heavy-metal fans were giving that signal with the pinkie and pointer finger -- knowingly or unknowingly, the sign of the devil? Did anyone not see something amuck in the stampede at another nightclub, this time in Chicago, less than a week before? Are we listening?

Evil begets evils. And it is rampant. Everywhere we look, the envelope is being pushed on profanity, nudity, blasphemy, occultism, and lewd behavior. Nothing shocks any longer. Our politicians appear on radio shows that are based on vulgarity while even the most "respectable" talk-show hosts use off-color language and do little more than collect millions for venting anger.

Is this is what we are about? Spreading lust? Spreading perversity? Hating each other?

And how can we explain a culture that produces superstars who mutate their own faces, who appear in videos with stark demonic images -- who transfigure into werewolves -- or who entice our youths into the most dangerously immoral conduct, dressing in dark leather? How can we justify the success of a show based on the everyday life ofa man whose band was known as "Black Sabbath"?

This is not to judge them as individuals. I have no idea what led to what such folks are. I have to first look for the lumber in my own eyes. But at the least we can say that these poor souls have been deceived by evil. They believe that by making millions they are justified -- that material success indicates goodness, a blessing, that they can now say or do what they want as a seemingly helpless public shrugs it off or hides its collective head.

Which all stands in stark contrast to Mr. Gibson, who truly believes in God, who is willing to go on the line for Him, and who said the other day, "the struggle between good and evil, and the overwhelming power of love, go beyond race and culture. This film is about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. These are things that the world could use more of, particularly in these turbulent times." The film is about the only human Who ever resurrected. The film is about true heroism in a world desperately in need of heroes. How could there be a more opportune time? When have we ever been in more need of Christ's sanctifying Blood, right there on the big screen?

Do I wish Mel Gibson were in line with mainstream Catholicism? Of course. But bravo, braveheart. Welcome to the war. Go get them Mel! 

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; General Discusssion; History; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Theology; Worship
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A very interesting commentary from a devout catholic who, like me, is waging war against the abuses in the Albany Diocese.
1 posted on 03/12/2003 8:41:44 AM PST by NYer
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To: Siobhan; american colleen; sinkspur; livius; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; ...
For your discussion.
2 posted on 03/12/2003 8:42:17 AM PST by NYer (Kyrie Eleison)
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To: NYer
Very interesting. Thanks. I don't think most "traditionalists" have wandered from the church; I think they are still devout Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass (Tridentine) and that is fine, provided they do not turn their back on the Church. The Church allows the Tridentine Mass as an option, provided it is sanctioned by the local Bishop. I think this is a good thing and should be permitted; however, if the Church decided down the road that allowing these Masses jeopardized the faithful and discontinued the permission, we would have no choice but to follow.

Most of these Catholics, and I would imagine Mel Gibson as well, are in communion with Rome. It's when they start going off the deep end ... like saying they don't have to listen to Rome, or that JPII is the one who's schismatic, etc. that they jeopardize their communion.

I pray that one day we will all be together, one body in Christ, worshipping the Lord in the full glory and manner He deserves.
3 posted on 03/12/2003 8:55:51 AM PST by Gophack
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To: NYer
Thanks for this excellent post.
4 posted on 03/12/2003 9:07:32 AM PST by Barnacle (A human shield against the onslaught of Liberal tripe.)
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To: NYer
Catholic bump!
5 posted on 03/12/2003 9:44:57 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Gophack
I agree. I am a traditionalist who endures the Novus Ordo out of obedience. I do wonder however, is there anything that the Vatican or the Cardinals could do that would be against the Church or is everything they do no matter how it contradicts traditional Catholicism considered licit simply because of the office held?
6 posted on 03/12/2003 9:58:13 AM PST by TradicalRC (Fides quaerens intellectum.)
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To: Gophack
So well said!

Maybe Jim Caviezel will have an influence on Mel Gibson if Mel G. is "on the fence" - which we do not know for sure. It does, however, give one pause when the parish he is building is not in conjunction with the diocese.

I think it would be wonderful if, unknown to us, a few of the cardinals thanked Mel G. for doing what he is doing - putting his money where his mouth is. The unvarnished and unhollyweirded story of Jesus Christ's suffering for our salvation is so needed, especially now... and I wonder if the bad press he is getting for his (unknown) spiritual life is again, the media working in an odd way to bring this movie to our attention. It is possible that a lot more people will go and see it due to the negative media coverage Mr. Gibson is receiving. We knew about this movie because we keep up with "Catholic" news, but I'm starting to run into people who could care less about "Catholic" news but who have heard of the movie through the secular press - and everyone I've talked to seems intrigued by it.

7 posted on 03/12/2003 9:59:04 AM PST by american colleen (Christe Eleison!)
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To: NYer
It should be noted that Mel Gibson has neither said that he is a schismatic, or made any of their typical pronunciations about the Pope. All this stuff is based on hearsay, and thanks to the NY Times, on a 'sins of the father' type rumor.

Personally, I could care less when it comes to this movie or any of the previous ones he made. If he simply tells the story as it appears in sacred scripture, that is enough.
8 posted on 03/12/2003 10:51:05 AM PST by Antoninus (In hoc signo, vinces †)
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To: Gophack
Just found this post by wideawake on yet another thread about Mel Gibson and his ties with Catholicism.

------------------- To: hazelmotes

I've done a little research. There is an order called the Servants of the Holy Family (founded in Colorado in 1977) and they exclusively celebrate the traditional liturgy.

According to Paul Metress of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, they are not a schismatic group.

He likens them to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

So the fact that this church is not a diocesan one doesn't necessarily mean that it is a schismatic one in this instance, if it is affiliated with the SHF.

46 posted on 03/12/2003 11:53 AM EST by wideawake (You'd better look out for me - I'm a member of the F.V.K.)

9 posted on 03/12/2003 10:59:22 AM PST by american colleen (Christe Eleison!)
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To: american colleen
We can't know what's in Mel Gibson's heart, but he appears to be a devout Catholic who prefers the Tridentine Mass.

Cardinal Mahony, though deserve our respect because of his office, has not proven to be a solid shepherd of the faith. He doesn't allow any of his priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, and I personally think this is wrong, but it is his perogative.

I think it's telling ... "by their fruits you will know them" ... that the Los Angeles diocese is losing seminarians; St. John's is closing which used to be one of the largest seminaries. The priests under the Cardinal have moved sharply left and have made many statements that can only be seen to be against the faith. While we don't know why God has allowed this, we know there is a reason. Perhaps the young priests coming up through the ranks will bring about a spiritual renewal, with our prayers and the intercession of saints. I can only speak from personal experience, but the young priests I have met or heard speak are very devout and orthodox.

I don't like the term "traditional" because I consider myself quite traditional, without opposing Rome, and I do enjoy and receive much from the Novus Ordo mass. I try my hardest to adhere to the teachings of the Church, including contraception, abortion, divorce, etc. In that sense, I am traditional. But I don't think the Church is suddenly wrong in my lifetime because Vatican II gave us the Novus Ordo. The problems stemming from Vatican II were not the documents, but the interpretation among the less faithful priests and laity who took them to be documents of license. I believe JPII has done much to try and fix some of the damage.

Whatever the reason for the church scandals, Vatican II, or any other problems the church is facing, we must all understand that ALL of this was allowed by God, therefore He has a reason we simply don't understand.

God bless.
10 posted on 03/12/2003 11:03:32 AM PST by Gophack
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To: Antoninus
It should be noted that Mel Gibson has neither said that he is a schismatic, or made any of their typical pronunciations about the Pope. All this stuff is based on hearsay, and thanks to the NY Times, on a 'sins of the father' type rumor.

Excellent point. I know many good, faithful, loyal Catholics who simply attend the Tridentine Mass because they prefer it, but only at churches in the diocese that are still in communion. Fortunately for them, in the Sacramento diocese there are several churches that offer the Latin Mass with the permission of the Bishop.

11 posted on 03/12/2003 11:05:08 AM PST by Gophack
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To: TradicalRC
You ask a good question, and I'm definitely not schooled enough to give a good answer.

I don't think that Vatican II has "contradicted" the traditions of the Church. From listening to Catholic radio -- which is full of conservative priests and theologians -- it seems to me that the church can never be in err, but can understand the Truth more fully as it is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Why God allowed the Church to change the Mass is something we can not understand, but there must be a reason because God is reasonable. Many bishops throughout the country allow the Tridentine Mass at some of their parishes, and I personally think this is a worthy compromise to allow those who prefer the Latin Mass to celebrate it.

God bless.
12 posted on 03/12/2003 11:08:08 AM PST by Gophack
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To: NYer
Nice article.

I also would prefer the Latin Mass, and a change to more conservative, traditional catholicism, where priests call evil what it is.

But I believe the writer is correct, obedience is what we need. Work and obedience. And probably alot of prayer.

Keep up the good fight.

13 posted on 03/12/2003 11:08:13 AM PST by Cap'n Crunch
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To: NYer
Oh, and I can't wait to see Mr. Gibson's movie. I intend on taking the whole family.

If he read the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich then he knows that many people reportedly will leave the Church and faith will grow very low. She said it will seem that Catholicism will be nearly snuffed out but God will restore the Church in the sight of all mankind and She will shine like never before.

So I hope Mr. Gibson is and remains obedient to the Church and is there to see the Church gloriously restored. If this all occurs in our lifetime.

14 posted on 03/12/2003 11:13:07 AM PST by Cap'n Crunch
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To: NYer
Oops! Sorry, I just double posted this!!
15 posted on 03/12/2003 11:50:30 AM PST by abigail2
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To: Gophack
Having read Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Vatican II document on Liturgy) I can say it is a fairly reasonable document. Having said that I must say that the Novus Ordo Mass does not adhere to much of it. Notably, SC states that Latin IS TO BE PRESERVED while the LIMITS of the vernacular may be extended. No doubt there are "conservative" theologians who will state that the Novus Ordo does not contradict the documents of VaticanII but their arguments tend to be mere sophistry. Christ may have distinguished between the Spirit and the letter of the law, but He did not disregard the letter of the law entirely. Pope Paul IV seemed to sense that something had gone awry. There is much confusion in the Church and Scripture has it that God is not a God of confusion but a God of order. I question whether the so called "Spirit of Vatican II" is indeed the Holy Spirit or something darker.
16 posted on 03/12/2003 11:56:14 AM PST by TradicalRC (Fides quaerens intellectum.)
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To: TradicalRC
I agree with you on the "Spirit of Vatican II". This is an interpretation of Vatican II, not what it actually says. Vatican II sought, I believe, to open the faith more fully to Catholics and Truth-seekers who, in this day and age, perhaps needed more "down to earth" explanations -- especially those who did not go to Catholic School for 12 years and found it difficult to understand why Catholics do what we do.

It has been unfortunate that so many priests and bishops have gone along with the "spirit" of VII, rather than adhere to it's clear reasoning. I do believe in ecumenanism (sp?) in order to bring more people into the faith, but not to the extent that we change the deposit of faith.

However, I do believe the deposit of faith has been well-protected by the Holy Spirit and that He will continue to do so.
17 posted on 03/12/2003 12:04:16 PM PST by Gophack
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To: biblewonk

I'll be sure to keep this in mind for the next time someone tells me Mel Gibson is Catholic.

18 posted on 03/12/2003 12:07:02 PM PST by newgeezer (fundamentalist, regarding the Constitution AND the Holy Bible)
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To: TradicalRC; Gophack
Having said that I must say that the Novus Ordo Mass does not adhere to much of it.

I agree to the extent that many priests and bishops have interpreted SC to suit their own purposes. This has lead to disorder. Perhaps the one truly RARE exception to this is the mass on EWTN.

The Mass on EWTN is in keeping with the norms for the Roman Rite. Anyone who has been to Rome or to one of the great shrines of Europe knows this. Unfortunately in many places the great tradition of the Roman Rite is being obliterated by banal (and illicit) innovations, and de-Romanized by the elimination of Latin and Chant. The effect has been that the young have no experience of a truly Catholic liturgy and older people have forgotten it or been convinced it is "out-of-date."

By offering the Mass in Latin and English the desire of the Second Vatican Council and all Popes since the Council for Latin to be retained is satisfied. Pope Paul VI, in granting permission for the vernacular languages, stated that he wanted Catholics to retain the use of the Church's sacred language in the Proper Responses (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus etc.). Pope John Paul II also wants the Church's language to be used. This was repeated yet again in the latest document from the Holy See on the Sacred Liturgy, the 4th Implementing Document of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council (1994). In fact, this goal is part of every document Rome has released on the liturgy, including paragraph 19 of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (the book used on the altar). [See also Latin and English in the Mass]

EWTN broadcasts worldwide by TV and WEWN short-wave so it is appropriate that Latin be part of the Mass for that reason. Catholics who don't know English can follow the Mass by its universal structure and even participate in the universal language of the Church.

Finally, the Mass on EWTN/WEWN educates Catholics concerning the true nature of the liturgical reform called for by the Council and the popes since, and which in many cases has been co-opted by those with their own agenda. It shows Catholics the glory of the Roman Rite as it is possible even now, using the current missal. By its fidelity to the intentions of the Magisterium it thus glorifies the Father, in the Church, through Jesus Christ.

19 posted on 03/12/2003 12:07:54 PM PST by NYer (Kyrie Eleison)
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To: Gophack; NYer
Thanks for the post Nyer. Everything that you said Gophack, for me again..
20 posted on 03/12/2003 12:08:31 PM PST by .45MAN (If you don't like it here try and find a better country, Please!!)
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