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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 28 Jan 2002

modernist heresy QUESTION from Diane March 15, 2000 Hi Br. John-Paul,
I have been reading a lot about the Modernist heresy/dissent and the problems it is causing in our Church. Could you please define this for me? Some web sites that discuss this will use the term Modernist dissenter, some use Modernist heresy and some just say Modernism. Is there a difference between those terms? Does Modernism, (or whatever term is appropiate) mean the illicit changes at Mass promoted by some priests, or is it a different theology than our Church officially teaches? Thanks for any insight that you can give me.
Also, why do some priests neglect to say the Nicene Creed at Mass? They just completely omit it. And on the same vein, what is their problem with the Gloria? Is it a form of heresy to refuse to include it?
Thanks again, Diane
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on March 22, 2000 Dear Mrs. Diane:
For a more simple but formal definition of modernism, I offer the definition found in the Catholic Almanac as an example (a much more technical and complete definition of all aspects of the philosphy of moderismcan be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia). The Catholic Almanac 2000 quick definition is:
The synthesis of all heresies,' which appeared near the beginning of the 20th Century. It undermines the objective validity of religious beliefs and practices which, it contends, are products of the subconscious developed by mankind under the stimulus of a religious sense. It holds that the existence of a personal God cannot be demonstrated, the Bible is not inspired, Christ is not divine, nor did he establish the Church or institute the sacraments. A special danger lies in modernism, which is still influential, because it uses Catholic terms with perverted meanings. St. Pius X condemned 65 propositions of modernism in 1907 in the decree Lamentabili and issued the encyclical Pascendi to explain and analyze its errors. If we don't already have copies of these two Church documetns in our Library under the Modernism Section, we will have soon.
The most definitive and comprehensive no-holds-barred, take no prisoners book that gives a summary and analysis of modernism as it affects the Catholic Church specifically (and which was resoundingly endorsed by the Vatican when it was published), is the book Liberalism is a Sin. We have that entire book located in our Library. Just click on the title above.
All this nonsense about Political Correctness and Inclusive Language is part and parcel of modernism. One of the most dangerous aspects of modernism is that it is completely disingenuous and without conscience to integrity and morality. The language engineering we hear about in the appeal for inclusive language is a Liberal attempt to create social engineering in society and religious engineering in the Church. As we know, language engineering always preceeds social engineering. But in addition to that, this modernism or liberalism will lie, cheat, and steal to effect its goals in any way it has to, and oftentimes enjoys itself in debauchery along the way. Sound like any President we know?
There is a great joke I heard the other day.
This woman gets up to the pearlie gates of heaven and notices all these clocks (the old fashion kind with actual hands). She asks St. Peter what all these clocks are for.
St. Peter says, Everyone has a clock. Before we make judgment on a soul we take a look at their clock. For each lie one tells the clock advances one minute. For example, here is Abraham Lincoln's clock. He told two lies and so his clock was advanced two minutes. Here is Mother Teresa's. She told no lies so her clock is at double 12 and not advanced at all.
This woman seeking entrance into heaven and whose name is Hillary, can't help herself. She is curious about her husband's clock and asks St. Peter where she can find Bill's clock.
St. Peter said, Oh, we have his clock in Jesus' office, Our Lord uses it as a ceiling fan!
That is a modernist/Liberal!
Now of course, they will not admit that!
There are two bottom lines to modernism. 1) the modernist, regardless of what he says, does not believe in absolute Truth; 2) the modernist, regardless of what he ways, creates the world in his own image, creates Truth according to his own opinion, and tries to force this self-made worldview on everyone else.
Modernist (or Liberals) follow an old adage from Aristotle that is often quoted St. Thomas Aquinas: Qualis unusquisque est, talis finis videtur ei This means that every man judges of what is good according to his good or evil dispositions. In other words, Good and evil are self-determined. There is no absolute judge or measure.
Or to put it another way, from a Catholic perspective: a modernist (or Liberal) is a person who thinks his own opinion outranks the Church.
With that last definition we can identify those whom we usually consider liberal, but also those who are Ultra-Traditional as BOTH being liberal. They BOTH assert their personal opinions above the Church -- Liberals with a heretical trend, Ultra-Traditionalists with a schismatic trend.
Liberal -- that is religious liberal -- can be used as a overall general term to include modernism and all its many and varied children.
Here is a litany of sins of Liberalism committed by Catholics:

Whenever a Priest rebels against the Church and changes the rubrics of the Mass on his own authority and opinion, he is sinning the sin of Liberalism (rebellion).

Whenever you see liturgical dancing in a Latin Rite Church you see the sin of Liberalism.

Whenever you see teens being invited around the altar during the consecration of the Eucharist, you see the sin the Liberalism.

Whenever you see priests, or even well-known Cardinals, telling their people to stand at the consecration without proper reason or authority, you see the sin of Liberalism.

Whenever you see people asserting that women should be ordained to the priesthood, you see the sin of Liberalism.

Whenever you see people promoting and/or using contraception, promoting homosexual sex,, same-sex marriages, fornication, concubinage, or violating any other aspect of the Church's teaching on sexuality, you see the sin of Liberalism.

When you see Catholics promoting abortion or choice for abortion, you see the sin of Liberalism.

When you see a parish, as a matter for form, as a matter of rubrics, all holding hands together, the whole parish doing this, not just a family or a few friends individually and privately doing it, you see the sin of Liberalism.

When priests knowingly and purposely omit the creed or the Gloria from the Mass when the rubrics call for it, you see the sin of liberalism. (be sure the priest is actually omitting it rather than just forgot it).

Whenever you see unauthorized people preaching homilies, you see the sin of Liberalism.

Whenever you see the abuse of Communion Services, you see the sin of Liberalism (such as a Communion Service conducted on a Monday because it is the priest's day off).

Whenever you see EXTRAordianry ministers of the Eucharist perform their duties ORDINARILY, you see the sin of Liberalism. (Extraordinary Ministers are to be used TEMPORARILY and only when there are not enough priests or deacons to efficiently distribute communion. A single priest can easily distribute communion to 400 people without unreasonable extension of time at Mass. If there are other priests assign to the parish, even though not con-celebrating, they should be present for distribution BEFORE any laity is used. Laity are used ONLY properly as a last resort and not as a matter of course on a routine level).

Whenever you see innovations in liturgical music, most times at the initiative of a lay liturgist (only a priest is a valid liturgist), you generally see the sin of Liberalism. (only SACRED music is allowed at Mass. Folk music is great but it is not allowed at Mass.)

Whenever you see people saying the Mass of Paul VI is invalid or evil or modernist, you are seeing the sin of Liberalism.

Whenever you see the groups like the SSPX and other arrogant organizations rebelling against the Church on the issues of the Mass, you see the sin of Liberalism.

Whenever you see people suggesting that Pope John Paul II is an anti-pope and so was every pope since John XXIII, you see the sin of Liberalism (and you see the insanity of people who need psychiatric care).

Whenever you see dissent with a spirit of protest and lack of respect to the Church, you see the sin of Liberalism.

and on and on and on.....
When you see obedience, the submission of opinion to the Church, and Obedience, and respect to the Church even when one disagrees on issues that one is allowed to disagree on, and Obedience THEN and ONLY then do you see the presence of the Spirit of God working in those people.
I can't remember the quotation, and from which Saint I cannot remember either, but perhaps some of our readers might know it and send me the actual quotation. It goes something like this, to the best of my memory: If the magisterium were to declare that black was white, I would without hesitation believe that black was white.
That is a REAL Catholic and a REAL person of God.
Here is an actual quote from St. Ignatius in a letter he wrote to his brothers:
It is in obedience more than in any other (virtue) that God our Lord gives me the desire to see you become outstanding, not only for the particular good to be found in it, as the Holy Scriptures so praised with examples and words in the Old and the New Testament, but because (as St. Gregory says)... Obedience is a virtue that by itself imprints in the soul all the other virtues, and once printed, it keep them there. For as long as obedience blooms, all other virtues will also be seen to be blooming and bear the fruit that I wish for your souls, which is the same desired by Him. He redeemed, out of obedience, a world lost for lack of it. ... I pray to you, for the love of Christ our Lord, that no only ordered obedience, but preceded with His example of obedience, that ... the knowledge and the true love of God our Lord may be entirely posses and guide your soul through this pilgrimage to lead you, with many others through your means, to the ultimate and most happy end of His eternal happiness.
What is Modernism, Liberalism, and whatnot? The opposite of what St. Ignatius said in the beautiful quote above.
Obedience, by the way comes from a Latin word, meaning to listen, in this case to the legitimate authority of the Church (Pope and Magisterium of the Church) who has been given that authority (the keys) by Christ Himself and who speaks for Him on this earth.
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