They behold a false light which is worse than the very darkness

Our Lady of Sorrows

The years between 1766 and 1775 were kind neither to the world nor to the Church.  Pope Clement XIII passed on to his reward, apprehensive of the future, on February 2, 1769.  And the six year reign of his successor, Clement XIV, produced the most disastrous wound that could have been inflicted on the Church: the suppression of the Jesuits.

There will be more posts about the suppression of the Jesuits, but suffice it to say it was the first great blow struck by a movement whose goal was to assault the Catholic Church and to erase the teaching of the Jesus Christ from the history of the human race, and it was wildly successful.  Francois-Marie Arouet, known to history as Voltaire, was its instigator.  His group of Encyclopedists or, as they called themselves, “the Philosophers” had as its mission to cause the nations that the Catholic Church had brought into existence once upon a time to forget her and to throw her to the dogs.  His group conspired at the Bourbon courts of Spain, France, and Portugal and instigated greedy monarchs and/or their conniving ministers to conspire against the Jesuit order, because it was heavily involved in education of the young and operated on a transnational basis under the direct command of the pope,  and these eventually maneuvered Pope Clement XIV into suppressing the Society of Jesus on July 21, 1773.

The Church’s and Catholic civilization’s best defense against the conspiracy of barbarism about to be unleashed in their midst was now gone.  Within the next two generations the Bourbon monarchies of France, Spain, and Portugal would all either be dealt devastating blows or erased entirely from the face of the earth by the forces unleashed by their stupidity.  Here is a lesson to all in political power NEVER to compromise with evil, even and especially when it presents itself as a good thing but you still have that funny feeling at the back of your neck. This was the situation as Giovanni Angelico Braschi took the name Pius VI and warily mounted the papal throne on February 15, 1775.

On Christmas Day of that year His Holiness published his first encyclical Inscrutabile.  Included in this encyclical is a writhing and prophetic condemnation of the rapidly metastasizing errors of his age.  He begins by openly proclaiming that those who are spreading the ideas that in our own rapidly declining society are called the ‘enlightenment’ are in fact the fools and false teachers whom Saint Paul in his second letter to Timothy and Saint Peter in his second epistle prophesied would emerge in the last days.

He never ascribes this fraud specifically to one specific individual like Voltaire or Rousseau, but he correctly discerned that the disastrous ideas then spreading throughout the Christian world were the product of the machinations of an organized group.  Voltaire’s group styled itself “the Philosophers,” and Pius VI pilloried them for that claim: “They say they are wise and have become fools.”

And then he outlines the errors spread by this conspiracy:

They have come to such a height of impiety that they make out that God does not exist, or if He does that He is idle and uncaring, making no revelation (read Deism here) to men.  Consequently it is not surprising that they assert that everything holy and divine is the product of the minds of inexperienced men smitten with empty fear of the future and seduced by a vain hope of immortality… they attract and wretchedly ensnare many of the weak into rejecting their faith or allowing it to be greatly shaken.  While they pursue a remarkable knowledge, they open their eyes to behold a false light which is worse than the very darkness…

 They keep proclaiming that man is born free and subject to no one, that society accordingly is a crowd of foolish men who stupidly yield to priests who deceive them and kings who oppress them

These are remarkable words.  They are as relevant today as they were in 1775.  Pick your favorite contemporary atheist such as Richard Dawkins or the late Christopher Hitchens (God rest his soul) or pretty much any one of your friends or acquaintances who subscribe to this view.  This is essentially the same argument you would get from one of them:

‘There is no God.  You only believe in God because you are stupid and because you can’t face up to the fact there is nothing.  Death is the end and you can’t handle it.  You only follow the Catholic religion because you are a fool: you have been deceived by your parents and your priests, and you have no real experience of the world i.e. you haven’t pursued every opportunity of having self destructive sexual relations with every member of the opposite (or the same) sex that you can get your hands on.’

Is this not what we hear every day in one form or another?  The charge of being “inexperienced” or naive always makes me laugh.  Have these people not read Saint Augustine?  He had all the ‘experiences’ that these men could desire, yet by the prayers and tears that Saint Monica offered to Heaven and the preaching of Saint Ambrose he finally saw the Light of Truth and flew like a bat out of hell to get away from those ‘experiences’,embracing the Truth in its fullness and becoming a Catholic priest and bishop and Doctor of the Church who, through his explanations of the Faith, has over many centuries helped lead countless souls to salvation.  Truly Saint Monica has a great multitude of spiritual sons.  I count myself among them.   Saint Thomas Aquinas never lived like Augustine did in his early life, but he was certainly not naive and had a full appreciation for all facets of human life.  Read these men if you think that to be a Christian is to be a fool.  Throw in Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Jerome, Saint Athanasius, Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and all of the others I won’t list because if I did then this post would go on for a month of Sundays.

Nope all these brilliant men and women were all idiots and instead we should follow Voltaire’s road to hell.  All because that way we get laid.  And isn’t that what it is really all about?  All sorts of fancy ‘philosophical’ justifications for unbridled and self destructive lust.  I am going to preach the moronic idea that there is no God and that the universe just up and created itself one day, or that He made the world but for some strange reason can’t be bothered to care about it, all because if there is a God, and He in fact does care, well that kind of hinders my sex life.  Fools.

His Holiness also goes on to make a rather prophetic declaration:

When they have spread this darkness abroad and torn religion out of men’s hearts, these accursed philosophers proceed to destroy the bonds of union among men, both those which unite them to their rulers, and urge them to their duty.

Is this not the history of the last 250 years?   The false lights they beheld have truly been worse than the very darkness.  The bonds which bind men to each other, to their nations, to their rulers, to their families, and even to themselves have been constantly assaulted and withered away during this whole awful period of so called ‘enlightenment.’  Sometimes and for long periods slowly with a law here a new fashion introduced there, but these are universally followed by the sudden onset of cataclysms like 1789-1815 and 1914-45 from which we are told there is no turning back.  The false lights of dead kings rotting in dead marshes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers immediately come to mind.

In truth there is no going back, in the sense of returning to the atmosphere of yesterday.  The Bourbon kings are doubtless never to return to France, nor are the Romanovs ever likely to rule Russia again.  What there is however is Jesus Christ.  And “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Please pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  And go to Confession.

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