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“Master, Doth It Not Concern Thee That We Perish?”

Christ Asleep in His Boat – Jules Joseph Meynier

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’
And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.

For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)”

– Vision of St. Hildegard of Bingen as cited in Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Christmas address to the Roman Curia, December, 2010

Sitting down at my desk today, I couldn’t find where to begin. The images filtering in from Cuba are bothersome, with the pope offering Mass in view of a giant image of the murdering, thug, Che Guevara. More photos, this time of Pope Francis meeting with a track-suited Fidel Castro, guilty of the death of untold thousands of Cubans and proprietor of Latin American communism. I glance at these while skimming through reports indicating that nobody, not even Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi, knows if the pope will meet with “Catholic dissidents.”

I still haven’t processed all the articles I’ve had on my to-read list since last week. Articles like the LifeSiteNews story about the absolutely surreal list of papal appointees to attend and participate in the Synod, despite their open and flagrant actions and positions which show them to be no friends of the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage. Or the story about how the official website of the German bishops published an article from one of their theologians making the case for “gay marriage.” Or the one about how Cardinal Tong Hon of Hong Kong is not being invited to the Synod for the alleged reason that he’s too old (at 76) despite the fact that there are at least half a dozen others — including the arch-heterodox Cardinals Kasper and Daneels — who are older still. On this last, Rorate Caeli reports:

Cardinal Tong Hon is by all accounts a man deeply interested in fostering Christian family life as shown by his Christmas pastoral letter of 2012 (affirming that marriage should be between a man and a woman), and his November 2014 Pastoral Letter on the “Gospel of the Family.

It’s almost impossible to believe that orthodoxy alone has become the criterion for exclusion from a Synod of bishops. And yet, here we are.

Taken alone, these things would be enough. But there’s also the issue of an increasing number of voices who have begun canonical critiques of the so-called “annulment reforms” issued by Pope Francis earlier this month. Meanwhile, no less a figure than Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, the Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (and thus, head of the Vatican Commission which is responsible for the reform of the process) said last week that these reforms were “desired and decided by Pope Francis’ while also being attributed to the will of Our Lord through the Holy Spirit and intended to facilitate an increase in the declarations of nullity — and dares to imply that the Lord expects obedience to these new procedures.

So, with this fundamental law, Francis makes a real beginning to his reform: by putting the poor at the center, that is, the divorced and remarried, considered set apart and distant, and asking bishops for a true and proper metànoia. That is to say, a “conversion”, a change of mentality which convinces and sustains them in following the invitation of Christ, present in their brother, the Bishop of Rome, to pass from the restricted number of a few thousand annulments to that immeasurable [number] of unfortunates who might have a declaration of nullitybecause of evident absence of faith as a bridge to knowledge and thus to the free will [necessary] to give sacramental consent — but are left on the outside by the current system.


But how will the bishops or eparchs, most of all in large dioceses, be able to guarantee, at least in part and as a sign, their role as shepherds and judges?  What is important is that the spirit of collegiality and communion among bishops under obedience to the Pontiff, begins to permeate the hearts and minds of the shepherds. The faithful are waiting with eagerness and love for such a metànoia and will nonetheless be patient in the Lord when faced with the good faith of their shepherds. The Jubilee Year of Mercy expects this sign of humble obedience (on the part of  the Churches’ shepherds) to the Spirit who speaks to them through Francis.

Of course, it’s not like we have only a trickle of annulments because the process is so arduous. While in the 1960s there were only a few hundred annulments a year, that number skyrocketed into the tens-of-thousands per year in the post-conciliar era – with Kenneth Jones claiming in his book, Index of Leading Catholic Indicators, that the number hit 50,000.

Now, with a process extended by design to “that immeasurable number of unfortunates who might have a declaration of nullity”, we’ll have even more.

How is this not Catholic no-fault divorce? And how –if the determination of nullity is delegated to the local ordinary, who delegates it to the local priest, who tells the couple that it’s a matter of conscience in the “internal forum” — is this not the very thing we’ve feared? How is it anything but an opportunity for the divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion regardless of whether or not their current relationship is, objectively, adulterous? We haven’t even arrived at the Synod yet, and it appears that the very danger many of us were worried it would produce has already come like a thief in the night.

It’s all happening so fast that we can’t take it in.

I would be remiss not to mention the positive signs, and they come mostly from the places one might not have otherwise expected. The Polish Bishops Conference today has released a statement re-affirming that “Holy Communion cannot be given to the divorced and remarried…” Last week’s video from Polonia Christiana (which I’m still transcribing quotes from) in which several Catholic prelates discuss how heresy and schism are now a reality facing the Church remains one of the best things we’ve seen on the topic.

The attack on marriage — and through it, the promotion of sodomy and of sacrilegious reception of the Eucharist — is the issue that is even now bearing down on us like a freight train. But we’ll be treated — from now until the end of the month — to a non-stop barrage of papal imagery coming from Cuba. Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York. There will be speeches and addresses and homilies; appearances with heads of state and before Congress and in front of the United Nations; canonization Masses and spectacle Masses and “off-the-cuff interviews” and enough confusing imagery and messaging to make even the most hearty among us need a nap and a stiff drink.

For our part at 1P5, we simply can’t cover it all. We’re not even going to try. We are going to do our best to stay focused on what we are facing next month. If something comes up that simply demands commentary, we’ll address it as we can. Even so, there’s a reason why we published an article on division and another on distraction last week. The enemy is hard at work, sowing disinformation and waging psychological warfare against the faithful. It will overwhelm you us if we’re not careful. It will even cause us to despair if we are not vigilant.

In this moment, a scene from the Gospels comes to mind, the deeper meaning of which many of us are now experiencing in a new and personal way:

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that the ship was filled. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, sleeping upon a pillow; and they awake him, and say to him: Master, doth it not concern thee that we perish? And rising up, he rebuked the wind, and said to the sea: Peace, be still. And the wind ceased: and there was made a great calm. And he said to them: Why are you fearful? have you not faith yet? (Mark 4:37-40)

It seems now as we watch the Barque of Peter battered on the waves of heresy and scandal that Christ sleeps through the tempest that surrounds us. Even so, we must remember that His power is not latent and His awareness has not turned away from us. His love for His bride is deeper than any man’s for his own beloved, and He will save her in her deep distress.

In his encyclical on the Kingship of Christ, Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI reminds the faithful:

Not least among the blessings which have resulted from the public and legitimate honor paid to the Blessed Virgin and the saints is the perfect and perpetual immunity of the Church from error and heresy. We may well admire in this the admirable wisdom of the Providence of God, who, ever bringing good out of evil, has from time to time suffered the faith and piety of men to grow weak, and allowed Catholic truth to be attacked by false doctrines, but always with the result that truth has afterwards shone out with greater splendor, and that men’s faith, aroused from its lethargy, has shown itself more vigorous than before.

Take heart when you see the attacks of those who hold false doctrines, for the glory of Holy Mother Church will once more shine, the splendor of the Mystical Bride, who “lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood.”

She will prevail, her robes mended, her shoes polished, her face cleansed, her radiance restored. Christ sleeps, but soon, He will arise. Why are we fearful? Have we not faith yet?

30 thoughts on ““Master, Doth It Not Concern Thee That We Perish?””

  1. Those of us in the play who know the ending are still constrained to play are parts with zeal for the house of the Lord and so it is known you will continue to strive even as you do well to remind us of the ultimate triumphalist.

    You’re doing a great job with this Blog, Steve.

      • Amen to that.
        Look what our fellow Christians are suffering in the Middle East – if they can, we must.
        This article has been comforting and encouraging to those who mourn what the Church is being put through with this Synod. May truth prevail.

  2. This has all the dimensions and epic proportions, but multiplied exponentially, of watching the Towers come down on 9/11. I can’t believe what I’m seeing, and feel stunned into silence. Raw sadness and awe. Fear and disgust. It’s as if 9/11, the tsunamis, and the mega-earthquakes of the last 15 years, are simply metaphorical shadows of realities about to engulf all of humanity.

    But there is the Lord in the bottom of the boat, with a word ready on his sleeping lips, to stop the storm.

    How long, O Lord?

    Maranatha, Lord.

    Rev 6:10 “And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? ”

    Psalm 68:21 “But God will shatter the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.”

  3. The mystical Body of Christ is sharing in the crucifixion of Christ. But we know Christ rose from the dead and so too will the church after this crucifixion.

  4. You forgot all the renewed hatred directed at Catholics with the coming beatification of Fr Serra.
    I’m out here on the left coast in the very heart of the Franciscan Missions. Protests on Church property allowed, nothing in the diocesan web sites. Nothing but the big lie. The bile and hatred directed at Catholics in local newspapers is worse than I’ve experienced in 55 years.

  5. Superb, as always Steve. You are forever in my prayers!!


    Weary, weary,

    On this earth

    Shielding souls

    Beyond their worth.

    Few are grateful

    Some regress

    Others proud

    They won’t confess

    When the waves

    Break on the shore

    Warning them

    What is before.


    You stand on this

    ‘Gainst the gales

    Fore those who mock

    Facing squalls

    They cannot see

    But all behold

    Your bended knee.

    Few will follow

    Some deny


    They won’t comply.

    Then a blue moon

    Saffron sun

    Come together

    Almost one.

    Fingers blessed

    With Holy Oil

    You lift the Light…

    Sun moon recoil.

    Blinding many

    Opening eyes


    Most despise.

    But on this rock


    You stand your ground

    Opposing strife.

    Between the storms

    And sheep you block

    The tempest winds

    That hurt the flock.

    With outstretched

    The daily crux

    You nail the Truth

    So not in flux

    Never will lie

    Only can free

    Upon this rock


  6. Thank you Steve, especially for the comments on division and distraction. Now is not the time for petty squabbles between traditionalists, but rather “all speak the same thing, and… be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment” (1 Cor 1:10). It’s going to be a rough few months, and a rougher few years. We need to trust in God, abandon ourselves to Mary and Joseph, fight patiently and pray diligently. God bless you, and all your readers and contributors.

  7. Another excellent column Steve helping to sustain our hope which is the confidence we have in our Lord who “rebuked the wind, and said to the sea:Peace….And he said to them: Why are you fearful? have you not faith yet? (Mark 4:37-40)

    Our confidence is to be based on faith in God which means dependence on God. The main thing we need to do pray and depend on God having confidence that He will take care of the situation in his own good time. He always has, He always will.

  8. Can’t you see the obvious dragon speaking through Francis? You will certainly be made aware at the Warning, 6th Seal in the Bible. The new era of peace is coming but only after the great tribulation.

  9. I remember a piece written by Dale Vree in the NOR back when it (and he) was still Anglican. He talked of time spent in East Germany (the GDR) and the underground church there. Vree was so positive about the suffering undergone by Christians there and the resulting purity of their faith that it almost made me wish I could see the tools on the flag and some VoPos outside my window. But that was suffering imposed by an obvious enemy, one infamous for hating Christ and everything associated with Him.

    Our persecution, while some of it comes from outside, is mostly internal. Surely its most dangerous elements wear Roman collars and red zucchetti and birettas rather than anything like the grey-green uniforms of the Volkspolizei. In East Germany, Catholics and other Christians mostly knew whom not to trust; we can’t always say the same. Today’s treason is always couched in sweet songbird concern for the “poor,” the “outcast,” and the “disadvantaged” (here supply just about any definition you like; imprecision is the stock-in-trade of the “progressives”) and decorated with righteous scorn for “bean counters,” the “holier-than-thou,” and the “hardhearted” (i.e. anyone who dares suggest the Church ought perhaps be more than just another social welfare agency).

    I don’t know about others, but all this drama costs me sleep and insinuates itself into my thoughts constantly the day long, robbing even the sunniest late-summer day of its appeal. Like Steve, I plan to ignore the pope’s speeches and all the media hype surrounding his visit. I know that, as with his whole papacy, what he says will affect matters far less than what his auditors hear or think they hear. His words are often quite good in isolation, but they do not drive events at all. It is the setting, the context, and a few chosen phrases that will fill the pages of newspapers and history books. Unfortunately for us, this pope has a knack for choosing the wrong setting and creating the worst context for words that often are hardly well-chosen.

    • Very good point, JC, that his words do not drive events at all. Yes, this is strange. One can find, if one searches diligently some good stuff in the mass of verbiage. But this good stuff floats by and moves no one. Has God made this pope dumb because He knows Francis will not speak Catholic Truth? Has God made us deaf and blind because He knows we will not hear, nor see? This is the punishment. We don’t have to wait for the so-called chastisement.

      • And now, Barbara, we have to add the curious actions and non-actions, the things said and those withheld, the invited guests and the “surprise” guests at all the events that happened in the US this last week. All things considered, this is one of the sorriest of Francis’ performances to date. Very depressing.

    • I fully sympathize with the lost sleep. I went through a period not so long back where my mental state as a result of all this was what I could only describe as sheer pandemonium.
      Thankfully that has passed, though not, of course, that I do not worry or despair at times. Reflecting on the prophetic warnings of Holy Scripture and those of Our Lady: as saddening as things are, and they truly are, we can perhaps allow ourselves some relief – excitement even? – to recognise in this disordered world the unique privilege we have in being witnesses to these times.

      • And we should also keep in mind that, bleak as the landscape is for us, it’s far worse for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. There many Catholics face the loss of their home and their country, if not their very lives or those of their family members. And to add to their sorrow (and ours), they are witnessing the extinction of the faith from lands where it has survived since shortly after the time of Jesus. I agree with what you say about the warnings of Scripture and those delivered to us by Mary, and it makes me afraid for what may be coming soon.

  10. It seems you are in good company (please forgive the lengthy quote, but I think it justifies itself) :

    “Something which we often forget is that this almighty God is and always will be in control of everything. Absolutely no happening among creatures escapes His hand. If God does allow evil things to happen, He Himself fixes the degree of this evil; He fixes the limit of this harm. Things cannot get worse than He allows, period. Like when Our Lord was sleeping in the boat. There were waves and water coming into the boat. We don’t realize enough that whatever quantity of water came in, it was exactly the quantity which Our Lord allowed; not one drop more. The waves had a certain height: exactly the height our Lord did fix. The winds had a certain strength: exactly the strength He did give to that wind. Yes, and He was the One who was sleeping in the boat.

    It is the same today. We see a storm; and it is a storm! We see harm, we see evil around us; it is true harm, it is true evil. Nevertheless, we must never forget that all this is still in the control of the Almighty, All-wise God, our Lord, who is with us, who allows this. Whenever He allows an evil to happen He does so for the greater good. We may not understand it now, but it will be seen clearly by us someday, maybe here on earth, maybe in Heaven. It will happen because God is God. He is above all these things. And to think that even in this storm He is so close to us, it is so easy to be with God. This storm, all these things, don’t matter; on the contrary, all these things are given there, prepared by this all-bountiful God, to draw us closer to Him. Everything cooperates for the good of those who love God. We must always have this in mind. It is very important. It is not a dream. It is the reality. To forget it means to live a nightmare. We can only truly understand what is happening if we look to God and His Divine Providence.”

    • This is just what we need to read and embrace. The winds howl so loudly that it is hard to hear and see what is real, or I should say Real.

  11. I would have so much more confidence in the storm if the chief Shepherd acted like a shepherd. It’s not even that he’s an obvious wolf, but more like a distraction that adds to the confusion. The sheep need to hear a voice that is calm, clear, and commanding; instead they run in circles, trampling each other. We have strong voices from past ages reminding us of ancient truths, but what sets the Church apart is her Vicar. Seriously, whom do we follow if Francis won’t lead? This seems rather unprecedented, no?

  12. Thank God for Scripture and his Word which will sustain us during this very difficult time.
    We must at all times remember Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church.
    Thanks for a great


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