Sunday, October 2, 2016

St. Remigius/St. Remy, pray for us!



Glory be to our Lord, who showed forth His wonders in thee! Remembering those gestes of God accomplished in all climes by her sons the Franks, the Church recognizes the legitimacy of applying to thee the beautiful words which announced the Messias: 'Give ear, ye islands, and hearken, ye people from afar. The Lord hat called me from the womb...And He said: ... Behold I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles that thou mayest be My salvation even to the farthest part of the earth.'  Truly it was a day of salvation, that Christmas day, whereon our Lord was pleased to bless thy labours and grant the desires of thy long episcopate. By the holy faith thou taughtest, thou wast then the 'covenant of the people' the new people composed of the conquerors and the conquered in that land of France, which, when once itself raised up, soon restored to God the inheritance that had been destroyed. 

O true Church, the one only bride, captive and destitute, behold Remigius rises to say to thy sons that are bound, 'Come forth', and to them that are in darkness, 'Show yourselves'! From north and south, from beyond the sea, behold they come in multitudes: all these are come to thee. Therefore give praise, O ye heavens and rejoice O earth, because the Lord hath comforted His people; after a whole century of heresy and barbarity, God has once more demonstrated that they shall not be confounded that wait for Him. 

Our confidence in God will again be rewarded if thou, O Remigius, deign to present to our Lord the prayer of the Franks who have remained faithful in honouring thy memory. The renegades sold over to satan may tyrannize for a time over the deluded crowd; but they are not the nation. A day will come when Christ, who is ever King, will say to the angels of His guard those words of His lieutenant Clovis: 'It displeases me that these Goths possess the good land of France; expel them, for it belongs to us.

Dom Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, Vol. 14, p. 314-315.

Now more than ever, St. Remigius, 
pray for the return of the King!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fr. Campbell's comments on Charity vs. Rash Judgement

I asked Fr. Campbell for his opinion on the previous post on Charity and Rash judgement and he has taken time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts, which are posted below with his permission. After Father's comments is found the original post for reference.


Father Campbell's comments:


I found your essay very well done, and I don't see any errors. If you err, it is at least on the side of charity. I feel very much as you do about condemning people as heretics without really knowing what is in their hearts. I know people also who are truly Catholic and would never deny their Catholic Faith. This, of course, applies to many of the older generation, some of our family members and friends who are trying to hold on to what they learned from their parents, their teachers and their priests when they were young. But your paper also prompted me to reflect on what has happened since the end of Vatican II. It has now been half a century since the close of the "council", which means a couple of generations, if you consider a generation about 25 years.

After the end of Vat. II the changes came about very quickly. In fact, they had already begun, and the "spirit of change" ruled the day. The Catholic Faith was no longer taught, because the clergy began to preach heretical sermons and do experimental "liturgies", guitar masses, polka masses, clown masses, school masses planned by the teachers and the children. The miracles of Our Lord were now given a natural explanation. The "nuns" discarded their habits and donned secular dress, jewelry, etc. The children were no longer taught the truths of the Faith, but learned about how Jesus loved everybody. Everyone now went to Heaven. Purgatory and Hell were forgotten. At funeral masses the deceased were now canonized, and no one needed to have Masses offered for the repose of their souls. I know, because I was once a part of all this.

But you know all about that, Karl. The point I am trying to make is that I think the younger generation are no longer Catholic. Perhaps they were validly baptized, but even that is not certain, since all of the sacraments were changed. And they have NEVER believed what the Catholic Church believes and teaches. They think they are Catholic, but they are not. They are heretics, protestants, pagans. This is not to judge any one particular person rashly. It is just to take a realistic look at the situation. This does not apply to all of them, of course, but I think to the vast majority, sad as it is. They have been victims of the Vatican II wolves in sheep's clothing who were out to destroy the Catholic Church.

Strangely enough, Karl, I had not been thinking this way until I read your paper. As I said, I think it is very well done, but perhaps it applies more to what is left of the older generation, and not so much to young novus ordo catholics. But we still must exercise charity towards them, because they have been led astray, and I think only the Lord can bring them back now. What we can do is pray for them, and preach and teach the Catholic Faith as it was handed down to us from the beginning.

Prayers, and God's Blessings,

Fr. Campbell





St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

SERMON XXX. FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST. - 
ON CHARITY TO OUR NEIGHBOUR. 

For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. LUKE vi 38.

 IN this day’s gospel we find that Jesus Christ once said to his disciples: "Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful." (Luke vi. 36.) As your heavenly Father is merciful towards you, so must you be merciful to others. He then proceeds to explain how, and in what, we should practise holy charity to our neighbour. "Judge not," he adds, “and you shall not be judged" (v. 37). Here he speaks against those who do not abstain from judging rashly of their neighbours. ”Forgive, and you shall be forgiven" (ibid). He tells us that we cannot obtain pardon of the offences we have offered to God, unless we pardon those who have offended us. ”Give, and it shall be given to you" (v. 38). By these words he condemns those who wish that God should grant whatsoever they desire, and are at the same time niggardly and avaricious towards the poor. In conclusion he declares, that the measure of charity which we use to our neighbour shall be the same that God will use towards us. Let us, then, see how we should practise charity to our neighbour: we ought to practise it, first, in our thoughts; secondly, in words; thirdly, by works.

 First Point. How we should practise charity to our neighbour in our thoughts.

1. "And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother." (1 John iv. 21.) The same precept, then, which obliges us to love God, commands us to love our neighbour. St. Catherine of Genoa said one day to the Lord: "My God, thou dost wish me to love my neighbour; but I can love no one but thee." The Lord said to her in answer: "My child, he that loves me loves whatsoever I love." Hence St. John says: ”If any man say: I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar." (1 John iv. 20.) And Jesus Christ has declared that he will receive, as done to himself, the charity which we practise towards the least of his brethren.

2. Hence we must, in the first place, practise fraternal charity in our thoughts, by never judging evil of any one without certain foundation. ”Judge not, and you shall not be judged." He who judges without certain grounds that another has committed a mortal sin, is guilty of a grievous fault; if he only rashly suspects another of a mortal sin, he commits at least a venial offence. But, to judge or suspect evil of another is not sinful when we have certain grounds for the judgment or suspicion. However, he that has true charity thinks well of all, Page 125 of 233 and banishes from his mind both judgments and suspicions. "Charity thinketh no evil." (1 Cor. xiii. 5.) ...

... But they that are not entrusted with the care of others, ought to abstain carefully from inquiring after the defects and conduct of others. 

...

And when it is in your power to do it, it will be a great act of charity to defend the character of the persons who have been defamed. The Divine Spouse wishes that the words of his beloved be a veil of scarlet. ”Thy lips are as a scarlet lace." (Cant. iv. 3.) That is, as Theodoret explains this passage, her words should be dictated by charity (a scarlet lace), that they may cover, as much as possible, the defects of others, at least by excusing their intentions, when their acts cannot be excused. ”If," says St. Bernard, ”you cannot excuse the act, excuse the intention. ” (Serm. xl. in Cant.) It was a proverb among the nuns of the convent of St. Teresa, that, in the presence of their holy mother, their reputation was secure, because they knew she would take the part of those of whom any fault might be mentioned.

Thus far, St. Alphonsus. What follows is my commentary.

Avoiding rash judgement has always been difficult, due to our fallen nature. Hence the warning from Our Lord to remove the beam from our own eyes before we try to remove the speck from the eye of our brother. Before the fall of the Great Apostasy and the eclipse of the Church, it was difficult to avoid this fault, even for devout Catholics, even with the benefit of spiritual guidance from our parish priests, nuns, monks, etc. It is doubly difficult in our days. Not only due to the absence, for most Catholics, of spiritual direction from valid priests, nuns, bishops, and pope, but also because of the diabolical cleverness of the attack which we are enduring.

I am not referring so much to judgements on issues pertaining strictly to sins of the flesh. These are also more confused now than before, but as it relates to the trouble of rash judgement, it is not so complicated (at least until very recently!) What I am referring to is demonstrated in the following sample conversation, which takes place between two Catholics who have corresponded with Divine Grace and left the novus ordo religion to keep the Apostolic Faith:

John: So, how long has it been since you left the novus ordo, Mike?

Mike: The last bogus ordo service we went to was Christmas Eve in 1995. I am so grateful to God and Our Lady for getting us out of it.

John: Amen! How did the rest of your family react? You are a cradle Catholic, right?

Mike: Yes. My family have always been Catholic. You know, some good some bad, some fallen away, some very holy. Most, somewhere in the middle. My parents are still trying to figure out what has happened. They don't condemn us for not going to church with them anymore, but they don't quite understand. They would never do or believe anything contrary to the Faith, and would rather die than be separated from the Church. That is what is so hard, you know? For those who were around when there was a pope, bishops, priests and nuns everywhere - because the rot started from the top and came down. The men they were raised to obey with filial respect - parish priests, bishops, the pope - started telling them things that were not right. My folks would never knowingly depart from the Faith, but with all of this confusion, I am afraid they might be in error about some things, simply because they came from a man that they thought to be the pope!

John: Yeah, it was the same with my parents and grandparents. My grandmother was a Third Order Franciscan for over fifty years and would rather die than depart from the Faith, but things are so confused now. Things are looking up though! They are starting to understand and agreed to come to Mass last week - they even went to confession before Mass and then went to communion.

Fred (who was listening in on the conversation): WHAT? John, your parents are HERETICS! They go to the novus ordo!!! How could you invite them to Mass? They should wait until they become Catholic before they go to Holy Communion!

John: Hi Fred. What makes you say that they are not Catholic?

Fred: They have been going to the novus ordo haven't they? So, they can't be Catholic; they are heretics.

John: You don't seem to agree with the Church's definition of what a heretic is. A heretic is someone who knows that the Church teaches something, but believes something different. One must know that his beliefs are contrary to Catholic doctrine in order to be a heretic; he must be pertinacious about it. One can be in error without being a heretic.

Mike: Didn't St. Augustine say something like, "I may someday be in error, but I will never be a heretic?" He said that because he loved the Faith and would never knowingly depart from it.

John: Yes, he did say that. And it is very easy these days to be in error, considering that every diocese in the world has been taken over by a false bishop - even the diocese of Rome.

Fred: But how could they NOT be heretics? They go to the novus ordo and believe that Bergoglio is the pope, for crying out loud. There is no way they could NOT be heretics!

Mike: But, Fred, you have internet service, you know all of these things that Bergoglio and his predecessors have said and done. Not everyone follows things so closely. John's folks and mine grew up Catholic and have never changed their beliefs. They have been the victims of the satanic plot to destroy the Church. You cannot just rashly assume that they have become heretics.

John: Right. If you were to ask them if they believe anything contrary to what the Church teaches, they would be aghast at the very suggestion. They would NEVER go against the Church - and that is what a heretic does. They are confused, no doubt, because they hear teachings that are against what they grew up being taught. But, they never would believe something that they knew was against Church teaching!

Fred: Well, maybe not. But I was scandalized by them going to Holy Communion, even though they went to confession right before.

Mike: I don't think you understand the term scandal either. Scandal is some act that leads people into sin. Are you saying that you were tempted to go to the novus ordo, become confused, and then come back to a real Mass, because of John's parents went to Communion? No, I doubt it. What you actually mean, is not that you were scandalized, but that you decided to make rash assumptions about their interior dispositions and make judgements about things that you cannot know with certainty. Then, you decided to condemn them based on your rash judgements.

Fred: But I know that they go to the novus ordo!

John: But you don't know what is in their hearts. They went to Confession right before Mass. They went to Communion, very reverently. If you ask them any catechism question, they will answer it correctly. They would die before they would deny the Faith.

Fred: How can they NOT be heretics?

Mike: Like we've been saying, to judge someone without certain proof is a mortal sin. Be careful! You would be justified if you were to - with charity - talk about things with them. I don't mean attack them with a battering ram, either! But just ask them about some article of the Faith. If they are mistaken about it, it is your duty to explain what the Church teaches. You have a responsibility to prove to them that it is the Church's teaching, though. You can't expect them to just take your word for it. This is not so easy as you might think! They might bring up Vatican II and so forth, which teaches many heresies, so you will have to be ready to explain how it is false, and teaches modernism. You will have to show them the TRUE Catholic teaching, then you might have to explain that Catholic teaching does not change because it is revealed by God Himself. It is a very long chain of reasoning to explain this horrible crisis. Do you see how complex it is when you want to accuse someone of heresy who professes to be Catholic?

Fred: I begin to understand that things are not as simple as I thought. They should become Traditional Catholics before they go to Communion, though. Maybe they are Catholic, just confused? Maybe I should make an effort to explain, and be patient with them. I had forgotten that it took me years to understand all of this - but I never considered myself as anything other than Catholic.

John: They were Catholics before you were born and they believe the same now that they did then. I think we might have more people coming to understand the situation, family members, friends, and so on, if we did not demand instant understanding of everyone who comes here to investigate things. But as soon as they come, they meet with this cold, suspicious attitude - like yours - that says that everyone must have a "St. Paul Conversion" and instantly realize the situation, or else we will treat them as "heathens and publicans" and turn them away. In reality, most people, myself included, go through a very long and painful process of becoming aware of the depth of this crisis.

Mike: Yes, I know many people who will have nothing to do with anyone, even parents and siblings, if they don't instantly agree with everything that they have taken YEARS to figure out! So they won't go to birthday parties, family gatherings, or anything else with any of their family, until they become sedevacantists and understand everything just they way they do. They forget the example of St. Monica for instance, who even followed Augustine on his journeys when he was truly a heretic and knowingly rejected Church doctrine. She cooked for him, cleaned for him and so forth. Finally, through her prayer and sacrifice, he cooperated with God's Grace and converted. But, Fred, your parents, my parents, John's parents, have never knowingly denied a single teaching of Holy Mother Church and you are ready to abandon them to their fate because you have decided that they are heretics, unworthy of your presence.

Fred: But what if they DO believe some of the heresies of the Conciliar church? Surely, they can't be untainted after so much exposure to the rot?

John: They might be. They might be in error on some points. But to be in error does not put you outside the Church. You would have to establish that they knew that what they believed was contrary to the Church's teaching; something that is very difficult to do these days, with so much confusion every where. We are in the midst of the Great Apostasy, in my opinion. No pope, no bishop in site, hardly any priests. We should be patient with family and friends who only want to be Catholic, explain gently the situation and show them what has happened. St. Monica waited for years, and she had the help of St. Ambrose, the true Mass, confessors, and on and on.

Mike: Indeed! Let's pray more Rosaries, make more sacrifices, fast more often.

Fred: But... aren't we supposed to avoid heretics - even family members?

Mike: Definitely! There are many, many warnings about avoiding heretics. But you're doing it again!

Fred: Doing what?

Mike: Confusing heresy with error. A heretic is somebody who pertinaciously believes something that he knows is contrary to the Church's teaching. People like this must be avoided. So if somebody in your family says, for example, "I know that is what the Catholic Church teaches - but I don't believe it." That person should be avoided; family, friend or whatever. However, please show me the Church's command to avoid people who mistakenly believe that something is Catholic dogma? Much less, should we call people heretics who DO NOT believe anything contrary to the Faith, but are surrounded by false shepherds. My point is, to call someone a heretic who is merely in error is a sin against charity, it is the sin of calumny, because to call someone a heretic is to say that he knows that his belief is contrary to the Faith.  This should not be done unless one is certain his guilt. As St. Alphonsus says, quoting St. Bernard, "If you cannot excuse the act, excuse the intention."

John: Well said, Mike. Fred, I know your heart is in the right place, you are of good will. You have been fighting the good fight, and can't stand to see any possible offense offered to Our Lord. That is admirable! But take care not to rashly judge somebody of heresy who would never knowingly deny the Faith. Many people who are trapped in the novus ordo church, are struggling mightily with what seems to be, and is, a terrible puzzle. We must patiently help people; directly by gentle correction and explanation; indirectly by fasting, praying for them, and by treating them with respect, even as we show them that what they believe is false.

Mike: And remembering also, that we live in a time of great upheaval and confusion. We have to be even more patient than those of earlier times when people had the direction of Holy Mother Church to succour them.

Fred: Thank you, my friends. I have a lot to think about!





Saturday, June 4, 2016

Charity vs. Rash Judgement in an Age of Apostasy



St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

SERMON XXX. FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST. - 
ON CHARITY TO OUR NEIGHBOUR. 

For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. LUKE vi 38.

 IN this day’s gospel we find that Jesus Christ once said to his disciples: "Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful." (Luke vi. 36.) As your heavenly Father is merciful towards you, so must you be merciful to others. He then proceeds to explain how, and in what, we should practise holy charity to our neighbour. "Judge not," he adds, “and you shall not be judged" (v. 37). Here he speaks against those who do not abstain from judging rashly of their neighbours. ”Forgive, and you shall be forgiven" (ibid). He tells us that we cannot obtain pardon of the offences we have offered to God, unless we pardon those who have offended us. ”Give, and it shall be given to you" (v. 38). By these words he condemns those who wish that God should grant whatsoever they desire, and are at the same time niggardly and avaricious towards the poor. In conclusion he declares, that the measure of charity which we use to our neighbour shall be the same that God will use towards us. Let us, then, see how we should practise charity to our neighbour: we ought to practise it, first, in our thoughts; secondly, in words; thirdly, by works.

 First Point. How we should practise charity to our neighbour in our thoughts.

1. "And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother." (1 John iv. 21.) The same precept, then, which obliges us to love God, commands us to love our neighbour. St. Catherine of Genoa said one day to the Lord: "My God, thou dost wish me to love my neighbour; but I can love no one but thee." The Lord said to her in answer: "My child, he that loves me loves whatsoever I love." Hence St. John says: ”If any man say: I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar." (1 John iv. 20.) And Jesus Christ has declared that he will receive, as done to himself, the charity which we practise towards the least of his brethren.

2. Hence we must, in the first place, practise fraternal charity in our thoughts, by never judging evil of any one without certain foundation. ”Judge not, and you shall not be judged." He who judges without certain grounds that another has committed a mortal sin, is guilty of a grievous fault; if he only rashly suspects another of a mortal sin, he commits at least a venial offence. But, to judge or suspect evil of another is not sinful when we have certain grounds for the judgment or suspicion. However, he that has true charity thinks well of all, Page 125 of 233 and banishes from his mind both judgments and suspicions. "Charity thinketh no evil." (1 Cor. xiii. 5.) ...

... But they that are not entrusted with the care of others, ought to abstain carefully from inquiring after the defects and conduct of others. 

...

And when it is in your power to do it, it will be a great act of charity to defend the character of the persons who have been defamed. The Divine Spouse wishes that the words of his beloved be a veil of scarlet. ”Thy lips are as a scarlet lace." (Cant. iv. 3.) That is, as Theodoret explains this passage, her words should be dictated by charity (a scarlet lace), that they may cover, as much as possible, the defects of others, at least by excusing their intentions, when their acts cannot be excused. ”If," says St. Bernard, ”you cannot excuse the act, excuse the intention. ” (Serm. xl. in Cant.) It was a proverb among the nuns of the convent of St. Teresa, that, in the presence of their holy mother, their reputation was secure, because they knew she would take the part of those of whom any fault might be mentioned.

Thus far, St. Alphonsus. What follows is my commentary.

Avoiding rash judgement has always been difficult, due to our fallen nature. Hence the warning from Our Lord to remove the beam from our own eyes before we try to remove the speck from the eye of our brother. Before the fall of the Great Apostasy and the eclipse of the Church, it was difficult to avoid this fault, even for devout Catholics, even with the benefit of spiritual guidance from our parish priests, nuns, monks, etc. It is doubly difficult in our days. Not only due to the absence, for most Catholics, of spiritual direction from valid priests, nuns, bishops, and pope, but also because of the diabolical cleverness of the attack which we are enduring.

I am not referring so much to judgements on issues pertaining strictly to sins of the flesh. These are also more confused now than before, but as it relates to the trouble of rash judgement, it is not so complicated (at least until very recently!) What I am referring to is demonstrated in the following sample conversation, which takes place between two Catholics who have corresponded with Divine Grace and left the novus ordo religion to keep the Apostolic Faith:

John: So, how long has it been since you left the novus ordo, Mike?

Mike: The last bogus ordo service we went to was Christmas Eve in 1995. I am so grateful to God and Our Lady for getting us out of it.

John: Amen! How did the rest of your family react? You are a cradle Catholic, right?

Mike: Yes. My family have always been Catholic. You know, some good some bad, some fallen away, some very holy. Most, somewhere in the middle. My parents are still trying to figure out what has happened. They don't condemn us for not going to church with them anymore, but they don't quite understand. They would never do or believe anything contrary to the Faith, and would rather die than be separated from the Church. That is what is so hard, you know? For those who were around when there was a pope, bishops, priests and nuns everywhere - because the rot started from the top and came down. The men they were raised to obey with filial respect - parish priests, bishops, the pope - started telling them things that were not right. My folks would never knowingly depart from the Faith, but with all of this confusion, I am afraid they might be in error about some things, simply because they came from a man that they thought to be the pope!

John: Yeah, it was the same with my parents and grandparents. My grandmother was a Third Order Franciscan for over fifty years and would rather die than depart from the Faith, but things are so confused now. Things are looking up though! They are starting to understand and agreed to come to Mass last week - they even went to confession before Mass and then went to communion.

Fred (who was listening in on the conversation): WHAT? John, your parents are HERETICS! They go to the novus ordo!!! How could you invite them to Mass? They should wait until they become Catholic before they go to Holy Communion!

John: Hi Fred. What makes you say that they are not Catholic?

Fred: They have been going to the novus ordo haven't they? So, they can't be Catholic; they are heretics.

John: You don't seem to agree with the Church's definition of what a heretic is. A heretic is someone who knows that the Church teaches something, but believes something different. One must know that his beliefs are contrary to Catholic doctrine in order to be a heretic; he must be pertinacious about it. One can be in error without being a heretic.

Mike: Didn't St. Augustine say something like, "I may someday be in error, but I will never be a heretic?" He said that because he loved the Faith and would never knowingly depart from it.

John: Yes, he did say that. And it is very easy these days to be in error, considering that every diocese in the world has been taken over by a false bishop - even the diocese of Rome.

Fred: But how could they NOT be heretics? They go to the novus ordo and believe that Bergoglio is the pope, for crying out loud. There is no way they could NOT be heretics!

Mike: But, Fred, you have internet service, you know all of these things that Bergoglio and his predecessors have said and done. Not everyone follows things so closely. John's folks and mine grew up Catholic and have never changed their beliefs. They have been the victims of the satanic plot to destroy the Church. You cannot just rashly assume that they have become heretics.

John: Right. If you were to ask them if they believe anything contrary to what the Church teaches, they would be aghast at the very suggestion. They would NEVER go against the Church - and that is what a heretic does. They are confused, no doubt, because they hear teachings that are against what they grew up being taught. But, they never would believe something that they knew was against Church teaching!

Fred: Well, maybe not. But I was scandalized by them going to Holy Communion, even though they went to confession right before.

Mike: I don't think you understand the term scandal either. Scandal is some act that leads people into sin. Are you saying that you were tempted to go to the novus ordo, become confused, and then come back to a real Mass, because of John's parents went to Communion? No, I doubt it. What you actually mean, is not that you were scandalized, but that you decided to make rash assumptions about their interior dispositions and make judgements about things that you cannot know with certainty. Then, you decided to condemn them based on your rash judgements.

Fred: But I know that they go to the novus ordo!

John: But you don't know what is in their hearts. They went to Confession right before Mass. They went to Communion, very reverently. If you ask them any catechism question, they will answer it correctly. They would die before they would deny the Faith.

Fred: How can they NOT be heretics?

Mike: Like we've been saying, to judge someone without certain proof is a mortal sin. Be careful! You would be justified if you were to - with charity - talk about things with them. I don't mean attack them with a battering ram, either! But just ask them about some article of the Faith. If they are mistaken about it, it is your duty to explain what the Church teaches. You have a responsibility to prove to them that it is the Church's teaching, though. You can't expect them to just take your word for it. This is not so easy as you might think! They might bring up Vatican II and so forth, which teaches many heresies, so you will have to be ready to explain how it is false, and teaches modernism. You will have to show them the TRUE Catholic teaching, then you might have to explain that Catholic teaching does not change because it is revealed by God Himself. It is a very long chain of reasoning to explain this horrible crisis. Do you see how complex it is when you want to accuse someone of heresy who professes to be Catholic?

Fred: I begin to understand that things are not as simple as I thought. They should become Traditional Catholics before they go to Communion, though. Maybe they are Catholic, just confused? Maybe I should make an effort to explain, and be patient with them. I had forgotten that it took me years to understand all of this - but I never considered myself as anything other than Catholic.

John: They were Catholics before you were born and they believe the same now that they did then. I think we might have more people coming to understand the situation, family members, friends, and so on, if we did not demand instant understanding of everyone who comes here to investigate things. But as soon as they come, they meet with this cold, suspicious attitude - like yours - that says that everyone must have a "St. Paul Conversion" and instantly realize the situation, or else we will treat them as "heathens and publicans" and turn them away. In reality, most people, myself included, go through a very long and painful process of becoming aware of the depth of this crisis.

Mike: Yes, I know many people who will have nothing to do with anyone, even parents and siblings, if they don't instantly agree with everything that they have taken YEARS to figure out! So they won't go to birthday parties, family gatherings, or anything else with any of their family, until they become sedevacantists and understand everything just they way they do. They forget the example of St. Monica for instance, who even followed Augustine on his journeys when he was truly a heretic and knowingly rejected Church doctrine. She cooked for him, cleaned for him and so forth. Finally, through her prayer and sacrifice, he cooperated with God's Grace and converted. But, Fred, your parents, my parents, John's parents, have never knowingly denied a single teaching of Holy Mother Church and you are ready to abandon them to their fate because you have decided that they are heretics, unworthy of your presence.

Fred: But what if they DO believe some of the heresies of the Conciliar church? Surely, they can't be untainted after so much exposure to the rot?

John: They might be. They might be in error on some points. But to be in error does not put you outside the Church. You would have to establish that they knew that what they believed was contrary to the Church's teaching; something that is very difficult to do these days, with so much confusion every where. We are in the midst of the Great Apostasy, in my opinion. No pope, no bishop in site, hardly any priests. We should be patient with family and friends who only want to be Catholic, explain gently the situation and show them what has happened. St. Monica waited for years, and she had the help of St. Ambrose, the true Mass, confessors, and on and on.

Mike: Indeed! Let's pray more Rosaries, make more sacrifices, fast more often.

Fred: But... aren't we supposed to avoid heretics - even family members?

Mike: Definitely! There are many, many warnings about avoiding heretics. But you're doing it again!

Fred: Doing what?

Mike: Confusing heresy with error. A heretic is somebody who pertinaciously believes something that he knows is contrary to the Church's teaching. People like this must be avoided. So if somebody in your family says, for example, "I know that is what the Catholic Church teaches - but I don't believe it." That person should be avoided; family, friend or whatever. However, please show me the Church's command to avoid people who mistakenly believe that something is Catholic dogma? Much less, should we call people heretics who DO NOT believe anything contrary to the Faith, but are surrounded by false shepherds. My point is, to call someone a heretic who is merely in error is a sin against charity, it is the sin of calumny, because to call someone a heretic is to say that he knows that his belief is contrary to the Faith.  This should not be done unless one is certain his guilt. As St. Alphonsus says, quoting St. Bernard, "If you cannot excuse the act, excuse the intention."

John: Well said, Mike. Fred, I know your heart is in the right place, you are of good will. You have been fighting the good fight, and can't stand to see any possible offense offered to Our Lord. That is admirable! But take care not to rashly judge somebody of heresy who would never knowingly deny the Faith. Many people who are trapped in the novus ordo church, are struggling mightily with what seems to be, and is, a terrible puzzle. We must patiently help people; directly by gentle correction and explanation; indirectly by fasting, praying for them, and by treating them with respect, even as we show them that what they believe is false.

Mike: And remembering also, that we live in a time of great upheaval and confusion. We have to be even more patient than those of earlier times when people had the direction of Holy Mother Church to succour them.

Fred: Thank you, my friends. I have a lot to think about!




See: Pertinacity: Material and Formal Heresy by John S. Daly






Monday, May 2, 2016

Juana Tabor - 666 by Hugo Wast

 


Here is the beginning of a book written in 1942 by a very devout Catholic from Argentina. It is a novel about the end times, and, although he does not get everything correct, it is amazingly accurate in many respects. For one thing, he has the antichrist coming from ARGENTINA. Do you know of any famous apostate antipopes from Argentina? I do! Anyway, here are the first few pages.



Beginning of Juana Tabor by Hugo Wast This link goes to a side by side Spanish/English version.

200 Years After Voltaire

On the 30th of May of 1978, Fray Plácido de la Virgen went to bed so exhausted that only with great difficulty was he able to pray the litanies with which he always ended his Rosary and he fell into a deep sleep. The wooden board upon which, in keeping with the holy rule, he lay fully dressed must have seemed to him deliciously comfortable and the smoothened piece of wood that served as a pillow, soft as down.
He was, however, at the age at which sleep is a stranger and insomnia is a habitual companion. He had been born the first day of the XX century having reached, therefore, the age of 78 years. His day usually began before midnight. The praying of his breviary and some devotions required three long hours to complete; the Mass half an hour; time in the confessional, sometimes one hour, sometimes four or five or more, if many penitents came who spoke Latin or Spanish, the only languages that he knew, since he was never able to, nor did he desire, to learn Esperanto, the universal language since 1960.
At midmorning, he would receive the visitors who needed his advice or his help, followed by the frugal lunch of the Gregorians, who followed the Trappist rule; afterwards, a brief period of spiritual reading which frequently turned into a brief siesta; and all of the other duties of the community. He rarely, if ever, went out of that very old mansion that was his monastery.
            That day, he had to preach a long panegyric of St. Gregory celebrating the ordination in their church of six young priests celebrating their first Mass. There would not be many in the crowd that filled the three naves that understood his sermon because he gave it in Latin. If he had given it is Spanish, there would have been even fewer that understood it.
            Fray Plácido de la Virgen belonged to one of the most illustrious religious congregations, the Gregorians, that was slowly dying out like a lamp burning its last drops of oil.    After having had hundreds of houses in the world, populated by thousands of friars, there were no longer more than three or four monasteries in their last agony.           As an immense fig tree, worn out by the centuries, its branches, which had borne tremendous fruit in ages past, was now drying out, without any new shoots coming up from the ancient root.
            One would think that the world had entered into the epoch of religious tepidity, that will precede the last days or the Second Coming of Christ, in fulfillment of the words of Jesus Himself: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find, think you, faith on Earth?” There still existed, at any rate, vocations: crowds of young people felt the call to a higher life. They sacrificed their youth; they left behind the imperfect liberty of the world and purchased the liberty of Christ that consisted in submitting themselves forever to the will of another. But it was to enter into other religious orders: and only very rarely did the church of the Gregorians celebrate an event such as the one they were celebrating on that day. One after another, like aged oxen, the friars were falling in the furrows of their unfinished task, dying peaceful and edifying deaths, the Angels taking their souls to heaven.
            His companions, singing the Office of the Dead, carried the body on the same wooden board that, during so many years, was his bed and as the Rule mandated, they nailed the habit down around the form of the body and without further adornment, they placed him in a recently dug grave in the moist soil of the consecrated ground so that, under the shade of the pious cypresses he would return to dust awaiting the resurrection of the flesh. In a corner of the cemetery was a great, dry Pau d’ Arco tree that had been there for 200 years. Los friars did not pull up its immense, useless trunk because, in its sterile branches dwelled the doves of the bell tower and because they believed the ancient tradition that that tree would bloom again in the spring in which the last Pope would die, that is, on the very eve of the Second Coming of Christ.
             The burial ceremony having ended, each friar returned to his work, a little sadder and somewhat more alone as well because no novice would replace the one that had died and his cell would be turned into a refuge for vermin and bats.
            With what pain did Fray Plácido de la Virgen, superior of the monastery, witness the extinction of his order! Ten years, twenty years more and there would be nobody else in the world who would vest himself with that white linen habit that the founder prescribed, inspired by what was described by the Prophet Daniel in his visions: “The cincture, girded with a band of gold of Uphaz.” Due to this sad thought, if in this exhausted state, a young man presented himself asking for the habit, his aged heart sang a Te Deum.
            After many painful occasions in which the monastery of Buenos Aires was close to being closed, on that 30th of May, 1978, six new priests offered their first Mass and among them one already famous for his austerity and his talent. Fray Simon de Samaría was 30 years old when he was ordained. The rigorous Gregorian Rule did not extinguish his spirit. Despite the tonsure that insulted his arrogant head, when he mounted the pulpit, the people were left astonished and captivated by intense emotion.
            Fray Plácido contemplated him with love and fear and, while admiring him, he was filled with undefinable anguish: “The heart of a man – as the scriptures say – often reveals more than seven sentinels on a height.” For that reason, that afternoon, after the ceremony of ordination, when he judged that the young priest would be alone, he went to his cell, kissed him on the cheek and said to him:
“You now have consecrated hands, my son! You are now a priest of the Most High.”
“Yes, for all eternity”, responded the young man.
“Listen to me, in the most solemn moment of your life, now that you are just like a king, because the oil of anointing is a diadem.”
The young man responded with the words of Samuel, because he knew how pleasing were the words of the biblical texts to his superior:
“Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening.”
“I have long pleaded with our Lord that he raise up in our Order a man able to give it the brilliance that it lacks, so that, in the same way as other orders that were at the point of being extinguished, it might be reborn and multiply and fill the world.”
Fray Simon listened to his superior with his eyes fixed on the stone floor and with his hands folded into the loose sleeves of his beautiful habit.
“As St. Teresa made the Carmelites bloom once again, and Rancé with the Trappists, so did I desire that someone give new life to the Gregorian vocation and I think that God has heard my prayer; because when I see the influence that your semons have over the people, I cannot but repeat the verse of the prophet with which the Church honors St. John the Baptist on his vigil: ‘I have placed my words upon thy lips.’ ”
“Ecce dedi verba mea in ore tuo”, murmured the young friar in order to show the old man that he remembered the passage and a shiver of pleasure ran through his frame. The superior looked at him intensely as if he had discovered the chink in that magnificent armour and he told him:
“But…after every sermon, close yourself up in your cell and humble yourself and apply the discipline and beg of God that he send you an angel to buffet you and not allow you to fall into secret vanity, that he punishes with other temptations, as St. Paul warns.”
“I will do that.” replied Fray Simon, calmly.
The superior looked at him through the corner of his eye and continued:
“Woe to you if you cannot attain to humility except through many falls! Hold it as certain that the Lord will permit the most oppressive temptations, in order that you learn how little we are worth without His Grace.”
“I know that already, due to my study of theology.”
“May God keep you from having to learn it through experience!”
“Pardon me, your Reverence.” the surprised youth responded, “but tell me frankly, have you found anything in me that troubles you?”
It was not the proper time to explain himself in too much detail, and the old friar prefered to continue speaking in general terms.
“In the vow of poverty that you have made as a Gregorian, you should include not only the renunciation of all material property, but also of all spiritual property.”
“The virutes are what Your Reverences refers to as Spiritual property? How can one renounce virtue?”
“I will tell you: The virtues produce pleasure, a delight. Perfection lies in the renunciation of such spiritual pleasures that produce virtue because, sooner or later, they capture the will, and make one believe that anything that goes against such spiritual pleasure is evil, and all that gives such pleasure is good.”
“Truly,” said Fray Simon, “I recall having read in some mystical work that the spiritual pleasures are sometimes more dangerous than the corporal pleasures…”
“And I am sure” added Fray Plácido, “of having read in explanations of St. Catherine of Genoa that we should flee spiritual pleasure more than the devil himself because they entangle men and from them is born spiritual self-love with the appearance of good infinitely more dangerous than the carnal love, due to its being the root of all evils that can aflict us in this world and in the next. The rebellion of Lucifer and his angels had not other cause than spiritual self-love.”
“What a horrible that such love must be, but how difficult it is not to confuse it with zeal for the glory of God!”
“I will teach you the secret to understanding the difference without fail.”
“What is it?”
“Obedience. All that you do in virtue of holy obedience to your rule or to the orders of your superiors is good. All that you do contrary to obedience, even to the suffering of martyrdom, is bad.”
“I am a man of desires.” said the young man with melancoly, remembering the words of the Archangel in the prophecy of Daniel; and many times I know not which wind it is that beats upon me.”
Fray Plácido shook his head as if to say: “I know exactly what you mean, my son!” and he gently patted him on the shoulder and repeated to him the words of Thomas A Kempis: “Not every exalted thing is holy, nor is every desire pure. Sometimes we are moved by passion and we think that it is zeal.”
“I should continue speaking to you, my son?”
“Speak to me, my father!” exclaimed Fray Simon uneasily, because he felt that the eyes of the old man were scrutinizing him unto the depths of his soul. The old friar continued, “the touch stone of virtue for a priest is his absolute adherence to the Pope. That will, or rather, that feeling, because the young Levite must be transformed into the flesh of his flesh, in a sort of instinct, which at the beginning of his career could be nothing more than a cold obedience, that adherence to Rome is what makes him a living member of the Mystical Body of Christ.”
 “How must this be and what limits should that adherence have?”
“It should be unlimited,” the old man answered quickly; “disinterested and silent as long as there is no reason to speak of it - because then you must speak of yourself – even at the cost of martyrdom. But this does not apply only to your exterior actions, but you must also submit your thoughts…”
“That is much.” the young man observed with melancholy: and the old man continued:
“…and anything that separates you from that sentiment you must take as a diabolical temptation.”
“Anything – even if it were a virtue?”
“Anything – even if it seem to you a virtue, although it be the most sublime thing on the earth, even if it be the promise of a tiara, even if it be the security of a cross.”
“And, if Christ were to appear to me and say to me: ‘Separate from Rome and follow me’”?
Fray Plácido reflected for barely a second and answered without hesitation: “that is predicted in the gospel and will be the sign that the world is approaching its end. Three evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke say it with identical words: “Many will come in my name. If anyone say to you, ‘The Messiah is here, the Messiah is there,’ do not believe it, for there will arise false Messiahs and false prophets…’ and since this will be the supreme temptation of the elect, Jesucristo, in order to put us on our guard, adds a warning, “Behold, I have told it to you beforehand.”
After a short, embarrased silence, the old man took up his thoughts once more. “The primary virtue of a religious” continued Fray Plácido, “is obedience, due to its being formed of obedience, it contains all of the others. Obedience, not only exterior, which is apparent, but interior, which means the renunciation of one’s own will.”
“And also of ones own opinion?”
“Yes, that too.” A religious does not fulfill his end, except when he anihilates his personality and becomes as a drop of water in the sea, without dimension or limits, or anything of his own.” The drop is in the sea and the sea is in the drop of water.”
“I will do so.” responded Fray Simón weakly.
“Listen, now, to a warning that you must not forget. The vocation of a priest rests upon two pillars. When one of them is weakened, the other does not delay in weakening and everything collapses.”
“What are those pillars?”
“You think they are other things, greater and more sublime in appearance. For me, those two pillars are liturgical prayer and devotion to the Pope, or, in other words: disciplined prayer and unfailing humility.”
Fray Simón straightened up, as one whom someone touches on a hidden wound. Then he knelt and kissed the sandled feet of the old man.
The superior left and he remained alone in his cell, whose whitewashed walls seemed tinted with purple, because through its windows, that looked out upon the garden, streamed the rosy glow of a marvelous sunset.
He opened the window and breathed to the depths of his lungs the golden breeze of the evening.
“Lord, Lord,” he exclaimed as he beat his breast after the manner of the publican, “I feel like Daniel, the man of desires: vir desideriorum es tu! I have the sense that I bear within myself all the energies of a new belief. My mission is to bring up to date religions in the fields of dogma, politics and society. I feel myself a priest unto the marrow of my bones, but I have received from the Lord a divine secret: The Church of today is only the seed of the Church of the future, that will have three circles: in the first will belong Catholics and Protestants, in the second, Jews and Muslims, in the third, idolaters, pagans, and even atheists… I will begin myself, in myself, the perfect kingdom of God…I am the first son of a new alliance…” The cell was filled with blue shadow. The bell calling the friars to choir shook him from his trance.
In the choir were six friars. Later, in the refectory, they gathered again, twelve in all including the professed friars and novices, and since it was a great feast day, the cook added to the boiled tails and the lettuce with oil, that were their ordinary fare, a piece of grilled anchovy and a jug of beer. Fray Plácido rejoiced seeming this timid re-flowering of his congregation. He pleaded with God that the little stream that bubbled up in the sanctuary would be transformed into a mighty river like that in the vision of Ezekiel.
In order to rest his tired head, that night in his cell, he began to read a book in which was told in detail of the death of Voltaire, foolish and unfortunate man, who, in the frightening trance was more interested in the destiny of his old skeleton, already rotting, than in that of his immortal soul. He read of the tricks by which he attempted to arrange it so that an ecclesiastical burial would not be denied him, which he desired only for the most inexplicable and contradictory vanity. In order to attain his goal, his called his confesor and he consented to sign a document retracting his false doctrines.
But since he recovered from his illness and returned to health, he repented of his retraction and fearing that he would repeat it if he became ill once more, he declared in the presence of a notary a statement against another such retraction in articulo mortis if another confessor were able to obtain it from him.
No less than thirty-five years passed. God awaited him with infinite patience. He found himself again in the grip of death and worried always about the destiny of his cadaver, he accepted the help of M. de Tersac, priest of St. Sulpice, his parish, and offered to him the rite of retraction, without which no priest had the faculties to absolve him. But, the priest submitted the case to the archbishop, who did not accept the document written with too much cunning, he demanded something more categorical. Voltaire, taking advantage of a sudden improvement, began to boast. Suddenly, death truly arrived and the philosopher died, not surrounded by flowers and friends and chatting and smiling philosphically, as his admirers imagined, rather blaspheming and naked, because his inflamed gut could not bear even a thread of clothing and yelling for a chunk of ice to slake his thirst.
His torture and despair had reached such a state that he buried his hands in the pus of his gut and filled his mouth with it while those around him, his niece, Denis, his nephew, Villette, his servant Wagniéres, his doctors Tronchin and Lorry, transfixed with horror, contemplated the scene.
“Talis vita, finis ita.” – said the friar, closing the book. He paused on noting a date: Voltaire had died on the 30th of May, 1778, and that night marked the second centenary of his death. “Two hundred years!” exclaimed the superior, “the unending period of sufferings and nevertheless, his eternity has not even begun. What a mystery, O Lord, that of those souls to whom you gave more light than to others and have blasphemed Thee more! What hidden delight there is in the pride that inebriated and caused the fall of the third part of the angels!”
With these thoughts, he began to pray, until, overcome with weariness, he fell fast asleep. He must have slept barely two hours. A loud noise made him open his eyes and he saw through the window that the moon had not yet risen. The garden was wrapped in complete darkness, and in his cell, a strange light appeared together with an insufferable stench. He sat up in the bed and stretched his hand out toward his bottle of holy water when he was paralyzed by the sound of a voice of one in infinite sorrow, that came from the farthest corner of his cell.
“Do not touch that water, for with it you would drive me away. Do not pronounce exorcisms if you want me to share with you hidden secrets about what the future holds. I am the unfortunate philosopher of whose death you have just read; a wise-man in the eyes of fools and now an eternal fool in my own eyes… Will you hear me?”
Fray Plácido was able to see the figure of an unclothed man, with his flesh calcified and consumed, evidently, the form of Voltaire. “Speak, in the name of Christ.” The word has scarcely left his lips, when he heard the cracking of those bones, and he saw them bend until kneeling upon the the cold tiles on the floor and he heard a lamentation: ‘Why did you call Him? Do you not know that when that Name sounds, all the inhabitants of Heaven and Hell must kneel? You cannot even imagine the torture that this causes me, who only refer to Him as The Infamous One, to adore Him each time that others call Him by His true Name.’”
“Speak, I will not call Him again!” – said the friar, hesitant to frighten that horrifying shadow, from which he desired to draw those secrets and upon seeing the grimace of the disdainful skull, he asked him, perplexed: “Do you smile, Voltaire?”
“This smile is my condemnation. I have laughed at men so that they would not believe in the divinity of The Infamous One. And I BELIEVED! I believed and trembled, knowing that one day we would meet face to face. I knew myself to have been blessed with a tremendous intelligence, greater than that of all other men, after Solomon, and I had to choose between serving God or rise up with it against Him and make myself His eternal enemy.”
“And you said, as did Lucifer, Non serviam!”
“Yes! And He gave me, in return, long life so that I would have time to repent.”
“And now, do you regret not having taken advantage of that opportunity?”
“No! To repent is to humble oneself, a thing utterly impossible in the miserable condition in which my soul finds itself. If I were to return to life, I would condemn myself again…”
“Explain that horrible mystery to me!”
“For sixty years I have been praised and celebrated as a king. Poets, philosophers, princes, women, fainted in admiration at the most trivial of my mockeries.”
“And you, did you also admire yourself?”
“As I advanced in age I felt greater and greater disgust at that object of admiration of men and women, and every time I would open my mouth, before they heard the sound of my words, I would smell my foul breath. But if I was nauseated by the fetid odor of my mouth, the hedonism of my thoughts was incomparably worse.”
“Unhappy soul!”
“They considered me almost a god and I held them in low regard, feeling my flesh rotting wrapped within an immortal soul. Woe is me! For eighty-four years that flesh that was dissolving was my only defense against the Infamous One. As long as I, that is to say, my will, subsisted entrenched in that flesh, I was able to cry out my call to war: ‘Crush the Vile Thing!’”
“Christ lives, Christ reigns, Christ rule!”—the old man exclaimed horrified, without thinking of the consequences of that triple praise.
Voltaire gave out an indescribable lamentation; and once more was heard the sinister grinding of his burning knees, which bent all the way to the floor, and the macabre figure bent over in praise—“That is my greatest torment: to confess His divinity!”
“In nomine Jesu–murmured the friar to himself–Omne genu flectatur coelestium, terrestrium et infernorum.–and he added aloud: “Did you not fear God?”
“Oh if I had feared Him! Oh, the misery and contradiction of my pride! When I would think about death it terrified me and I would have given my fortune, my fame and my books in exchange for one tiny grain of humility, the seed of repentance. But humility is not natural, but supernatural. A man without eyes could see more easily than a proud man and say: ‘I have sinned, O Lord, forgive me.’ To see without eyes is against nature; a natural force can be changed by another natural force. But to repent without humility is against the supernatural law, and is infinitely beyond the strength of man. It requires divine grace.”
“And did God not give it to you?”
“Yes, he flooded me with graces! I would’ve begged God that he had not given me such graces. Because when we are judged in this region of shadows, graces rejected count against us more than sins committed.”
“Continue, Voltaire! I am listening anxiously.” The patriarch of Ferney continued amidst dry and horrifying sobs: “When one has obstinately rejected the supernatural help of grace for twenty years, thirty years, half a century, God abandons him to his simple natural strength, intelligence and will. I could see my destiny if I didn’t humble myself; but to humble myself would have been a miracle. And my pride inebriated me telling me that I, foul and maggoty, could of my own free will resist grace, and take pleasure in my power and fight against God. What delirium, to do the impossible even for the stars of heaven and the archangels: to resist God! I was mad with blasphemy and sacrilege. In order to mock the Infamous One I communicated sacrilegiously many times in the presence of my servants and my friends applauded me and imitated me. And thus I came to the fearful day.”
“The hour of vengeance,” said the horrified friar—“Effunde frameam. Draw Thy sword, O Lord.”
“And thus it was, God’s time arrived and he unsheathed His sword against me.”
“Tell me about your final moments.”
“Men do not even suspect how mysterious is that hour, especially the final moment in which all the powers of the soul, the memory, the understanding, and the will acquire immeasurable acuity.”
“And how long does that last?”
“Suppose it were only one second: but in that one second is contained much more than your entire life no matter how long it was; in that moment resides your eternity. In that instant your will can direct your destiny. Miserable wretch that I am! The stubbornness of eighty years, transformed into final impenitence, is as a polished bronze wall that surrounds the soul and absorbs the final assault of mercy, shaking, oh the contradiction! Of being overcome and being afraid of what will be his own triumph. Woe is me! I was triumphant. The rays of divine grace shattered, upon striking my heart, as arrows of marble against a rock.”
“And were there times when grace did prevail?”
“Thousands and thousands of times, because that is the virtue of the Precious Blood. How many unexpected retractions there are hidden in the next world! But if you were to see the hardness of those who had sinned against the Spirit; of those who had despaired; of the witty who feared not to blaspheme in order to get a laugh; of those who sold out to pride in their final hour; of the apostates. In order to be present and encourage the final impenitence of such as these, the devil leaves aside every other occupation and enters into the his veins and there is, as it were a transfusion of diabolical pride into the soul of the renegade.”
“Men are ignorant of the profundity of Satan.” Murmured Fray Plácido.
“If the devil were able to repent, that would be the moment of his conversion, when, in order to fortify the pride of a soul he has weakened his own in transferring it to her. Oh! When one arrives at such profundity the soul is voluntarily swallowed up in it’s destiny.”
“Voluntarily?” Asked the Friar.
“Does it surprise you? Listen, I signed with my own hand my eternal damnation. And I would sign it again a hundred times with full discernment rather than humble myself and say, ‘I have sinned, O Lord, forgive me!’”
“My mind cannot grasp,” -- replied Fray Plácido--“that it could be possible that if you were able to live again you would condemn yourself again.”
“Yes, a hundred and a thousand times! In the final instant of my life, when, to alleviate my thirst I filled my mouth with foul excretions and I released that frightening shriek that is told of my life, when my eyes became fixed and all thought me dead. But I lived still, scratching at the rotted mud of my flesh, that still for a few seconds more was preventing me from falling into the hands of God.”


 Here is the original Spanish:



JUANA TABOR (1942)



HUGO WAST
(Gustavo Martínez Zuviría)
CAPÍTULO I
200 años después de Voltaire

El 30 de mayo de 1978 fray Plácido de la Virgen se acostó tan fatigado que a duras penas alcanzó a rezar las letanías con que terminaba su rosario, y se durmió profundamente.
Debió parecerle deliciosa la tabla del camastro en que se tendía vestido conforme a la regla, y blando el leño mal desbastado de su almohada.
Estaba sin embargo en la edad en que el sueño es arisco, y el insomnio un compañero habitual. Había nacido el primer día del siglo XX; tenía pues 78 años. Su jornada comenzaba antes de la medianoche; el rezo de su breviario y algunas devociones le llevaban tres horas largas; la misa, media hora; el confesionario, a veces una hora, a veces cuatro o cinco o más si venían muchos penitentes que hablaran en latín o castellano, únicos idiomas que él conocía, ya que nunca pudo ni quiso aprender el esperanto, la lengua universal desde 1960.
A media mañana recibía las visitas de los que necesitaban sus consejos o sus socorros, en seguida del almuerzo frugalísimo de los gregorianos que seguían la regla de la Trapa; después un rato de lectura espiritual —que se convertía a menudo en una breve siesta— y todas las demás distribuciones de la comunidad. Salía poco, o más bien nada, de aquel viejísimo caserón que era su convento.
Ese día tuvo que predicar un largo panegírico de San Gregorio con motivo de haberse consagrado en su iglesia seis jóvenes sacerdotes, celebrantes de primera misa.
No serían muchos en el público que llenaba las tres naves los que entendieron su sermón, porque lo dijo en latín. De haberlo dicho en castellano lo habrían entendido menos aún.
Fray Plácido de la Virgen pertenecía a una de las más ilustres congregaciones religiosas, la de los gregorianos, que iba extinguiéndose como una lámpara que quema las últimas gotas de su aceite.
Después de haber tenido centenares de casas en el mundo pobladas con millares de frailes, ya no le quedaban más que tres o cuatro conventos agonizantes.
Como una inmensa higuera mordida por los siglos, sus ramas, antes frondosísimas, habían ido secándose sin que otros retoños brotaran de la vieja raíz.
Alguien pensaba que el mundo iba entrando en la época del enfriamiento religioso que precederá al fin de los tiempos, o al segundo advenimiento de Cristo conforme a las palabras del propio Jesús: “Cuando viniere el Hijo del Hombre, ¿os parece que hallará fe sobre la tierra?” Todavía sin embargo existían vocaciones: muchedumbres de jóvenes sentían el llamado a una vida más alta, sacrificaban su juventud, abandonaban la imperfecta libertad del mundo y compraban la libertad de Cristo que consiste en someterse para siempre a la voluntad ajena. Mas era para ingresar en otras órdenes religiosas, y sólo muy de tarde en tarde la iglesia de los gregorianos celebraba una fiesta como la de ese día.
Uno tras otro, como bueyes viejos, iban cayendo sus frailes en el surco de la inconclusa tarea, con muerte plácida y edificante.
Los ángeles se apoderaban de sus almas; sus compañeros, salmodiando el oficio de difuntos, tendían el cadáver sobre la misma tabla que durante tantos años fue su lecho; conforme lo dispone su regla le clavaban el hábito al contorno del cuerpo, y sin otro aderezo lo metían en una fosa recién cavada en la jugosa tierra del camposanto, para que bajo la sombra de piadosos cipreses se disolviera aguardando la resurrección de la carne. En una esquina de aquel terreno había un lapacho, gran árbol seco desde hacía doscientos años. Los frailes no volteaban su inmenso tronco inútil porque en sus ramas estériles se posaban las palomas de su campanario, y porque afirmaba una antigua tradición que ese árbol volvería a florecer en la primavera en que moriría el último papa, es decir en la víspera misma de la segunda venida de Cristo.
Acabada la ceremonia del entierro cada fraile volvía a sus trabajos, un poco más triste y algo más solo también, porque ningún novicio reemplazaba al difunto y su celda se convertía en un refugio de musarañas y murciélagos.
¡Con qué dolor fray Plácido de la Virgen, superior del convento, presenciaba la extinción de su orden!
Diez años, veinte años más y no habría nadie en el mundo para vestir aquel blanco sayal de lino que el fundador prescribió inspirado en el que describe Daniel en sus visiones: “ceñida la cintura con una banda de oro de Uphaz”.
Por ello, si a las cansadas presentábase un joven pidiendo el hábito, su viejo corazón cantaba un Tedeum.
Después de penosas alternativas, en que más de una vez el convento de Buenos Aires hubo de cerrarse, en aquel 30 de mayo de 1978 dijeron su primera misa seis nuevos sacerdotes, y entre ellos uno famoso ya por su austeridad y su talento.
Fray Simón de Samaria tenía treinta años al orde­narse. La dura regla gregoriana no apagó su espíritu. A pesar del cerquillo con que afrentaba su arrogante cabeza, cuando subía al púlpito las gentes quedaban pasmadas y presas de contagiosa emoción.
Fray Plácido lo contemplaba con amor y temblor, y al admirarlo se llenaba de indefinible angustia: “El corazón de un hombre”, afirma el libro santo, “anuncia a veces más cosas que siete centinelas sobre una altura”.
Por ello esa tarde, después de la ceremonia de la consagración, cuando juzgó que el joven sacerdote se hallaría solo, fue a su celda, lo besó en la mejilla y le dijo:
—¡Ya tienes las manos consagradas, hijo mío! Ya eres sacerdote del Altísimo.
—Sí, para toda la eternidad —respondió el joven.
—Escúchame en el momento más solemne de tu vida, ahora que eres tanto como un rey, porque el aceite de unción es una diadema.
El joven respondió con las palabras de Samuel pues sabía cuánto agradaban al superior los textos bíblicos:
—Habla, señor, que tu siervo te escucha.
—Yo he pedido largamente al Señor que suscitara en nuestra orden un hombre capaz de darle el brillo que le falta, a fin de que a la manera de otras órdenes que estuvieron a punto de extinguirse, renaciera, se multiplicara y llenase el mundo.
Fray Simón escuchaba a su superior con los ojos fijos en las baldosas y con las manos en las mangas sueltas del hermoso hábito.
—Como hizo reflorecer Santa Teresa a las carmelitas y Ran cé a los trapenses, así anhelaba yo que alguien hiciera renacer la vocación gregoriana; pienso que Dios ha escuchado mi oración, porque cuando veo el influjo que tienen tus sermones sobre el pueblo no puedo menos de repetir el versículo del profeta con que la iglesia honra a San Juan Bautista en su vigilia: “He puesto mi palabra sobre tus labios”.
—Ecce dedi verba mea in oretuo —murmuró el joven fraile, para mostrar al viejo que recordaba el pasaje, y por su médula corrió un estremecimiento de placer.
El superior le miró intensamente, como si adivinase la falla de aquella magnífica armadura, y le dijo:
—Pero..., después de cada sermón enciérrate en tu celda, humíllate, disciplínate y suplica a Dios que te envíe un ángel para que te abofetee y no te deje caer en el orgullo secreto que Él castiga con otras tentaciones, según lo manifiesta San Pablo.
—Así lo haré —respondió mansamente fray Simón.
El superior lo miró con el rabillo del ojo y prosiguió:
—¡Ay de ti si no pudieras llegar a la humildad sino a través de las caídas! Ten por seguro que el Señor permitirá las más bochornosas tentaciones para que aprendieses cuán poco valemos sin su gracia.
—Eso ya lo sé, por mi teología.
—¡Quiera Dios que no llegues a saberlo por tu experiencia!
—Perdóneme, V. R. —replicó sorprendido el joven— pero dígame con franqueza: ¿ha encontrado algo en mí que le cause inquietud?
No era día de explicarse con demasiada precisión y el viejo fraile prefirió seguir hablando en general.
—En el voto de pobreza que has hecho como gregoriano debes incluir no solamente la renuncia a toda propiedad material, sino también a toda propiedad espiritual.
—¿Las virtudes son eso que V. R. llama propiedades espirituales?¿Cómo puede renunciarse a las virtudes?
—Te diré: las virtudes producen un gusto, una delectación. La perfección está en renunciar a esos gustos espirituales que produce la virtud, porque a la corta o a la larga cautivan la voluntad y hacen creer que todo lo que contraría nuestros gustos espirituales es malo, y todo lo que los fomenta es bueno.
—Realmente —dijo fray Simón— recuerdo haber leído en algún tratado de mística que los gustos espirituales son a veces más peligrosos que los gustos corporales...
—Y yo estoy seguro —agregó fray Plácido— de haber leído en las explicaciones de Santa Catalina de Génova que a los gustos espirituales hay que huirles más que al diablo, porque enlazan al hombre. De ellos nace el amor propio espiritual con apariencia de bien, infi­nitamente más peligroso que el carnal, por ser la raíz de todos los males que puedan afligirnos en este mundo y en el otro. La rebelión de Lucifer y de sus ángeles no tuvo otra causa que el amor propio espiritual.
—Terrible cosa debe de ser ese amor, pero ¡cuán difícil no confundirlo con el celo por la gloria de Dios!
—Yo te enseñaré el secreto para descubrirlo infaliblemente.
—¿Cuál es?
—La obediencia; todo lo que hagas en virtud de la santa obediencia a tu regla o a las órdenes de tus superiores, es bueno. Todo lo que hagas contrariándola, así sea el sufrir martirio, es malo.
—Yo soy un hombre de deseos —dijo con melancolía el joven recordando las palabras del arcángel en la profecía de Daniel— y muchas veces yo mismo ignoro qué viento me arre bata.
Fray Plácido meneó la cabeza como diciendo: “¡Vaya si sabré yo lo que te pasa, hijo mío!”
Le palmeó cariñosamente el hombro y le repitió las palabras de Kempis:
—“No es santo todo lo alto, ni todo deseo puro. A veces nos mueve pasión y pensamos que es celo”... ¿Debo seguir hablándote, hijo mío?
—¡Hábleme, padre mío! —exclamó fray Simón con cierta inquietud, porque sentía que los ojos del viejo escudriñaban hasta el fondo de su alma.
El viejo prosiguió así:
—La piedra de toque de la virtud de un sacerdote es su absoluta adhesión al papa. Esa voluntad; mejor diré, ese sentimiento —porque el joven levita debe transformar en carne de su carne, en una especie de instinto, lo que al principio de su carrera pudo no ser más que una fría voluntad— esa adhesión a Roma es lo que lo hace un miembro vivo del cuerpo místico de Cristo.
—¿Cómo ha de ser y qué límites ha de tener esa adhesión?
—Debe ser ilimitada —contestó con presteza el viejo— desinteresada y silenciosa mientras no llegue el caso de pregonarla, porque entonces debe pregonarse aun a costa del martirio. Pero no sólo debe orientar tu acción exterior, sino también atar tus pensamientos...
—Mucho es eso —observó melancólicamente el joven.
Y el viejo prosiguió:
—Y todo lo que te aleje de ese sentimiento tenlo por una tentación diabólica.
—¿Todo? ¿Aunque sea una virtud?
—Todo, aunque te parezca una virtud, aunque sea la cosa más sublime de la tierra, aunque sea la promesa de una tiara, aunque sea la seguridad de una cruz.
—¿Y si se apareciese Cristo y me dijera: “Aléjate de Roma y sígueme”?
Fray Plácido reflexionó apenas un segundo y respondió sin titubear:
—Eso está predicho en el Evangelio, y será la señal de que el mundo va llegando a su fin. Tres evangelistas, Mateo, Marcos y Lucas, lo dicen con idénticas palabras “Vendrán muchos en mi nombre; si alguno os dijera: ‘El Cristo está aquí; el Cristo está allá’, no le creáis, porque se levantarán falsos Cristos y falsos profetas...” Y como ésta ha de ser la suprema tentación de los elegidos, Jesucristo, al ponernos en guardia, añade una advertencia: “Mirad que os lo he dicho de antemano...”
Después de un rato de silencio embarazoso el viejo reanudó su plática.
—La virtud primordial de un religioso —prosiguió fray Plácido— es la obediencia, porque, siendo hecha de humildad, encierra todas las otras. Obediencia no sólo exterior, que es aparente, sino interior, que significa la renuncia a la propia voluntad.
¿Y también a la propia opinión?
—Sí, también. Un religioso no realiza su fin sino cuando aniquila su personalidad y viene a ser como una gota de agua en el mar; sin dimensiones, ni límites, ni elementos exclusivos. Ella está en el mar y el mar está en ella.
—Así lo haré —respondió fray Simón blandamente.
—Escucha ahora una advertencia que no debes olvidar: sobre dos pilares se asienta la vocación del sacerdote; mientras ellos resisten el edificio se mantiene. Cuando uno de ellos afloja, el otro no tarda en ceder y todo se derrumba.
—¿Cuáles son esos pilares?
—Tú pensarás en otras cosas más grandes y en apariencia más sublimes. Para mí esos dos pilares son el rezo litúrgico y la devoción al papa, o con otras palabras, la oración disciplinada y la infalible humildad.
Fray Simón se estremeció, como aquel a quien de improviso le tocan una herida oculta. Luego se arrodilló y besó los pies del viejo, calzados de sandalias.
El superior se fue y él quedó solo en su celda, cuyas enjalbegadas paredes parecían teñidas de púrpura, pues por sus cristales, que daban al huerto, penetraban los rojos fulgores de un maravilloso crepúsculo.
Abrió la ventana y respiró a pleno pulmón el oreado viento de la tarde.
—Señor, Señor —exclamó, golpeándose el pecho a la manera del publicano—, me siento como Daniel, hombre de deseos: ¡vir desideriorum es tu!Tengo la conciencia de que llevo conmigo todas las energías de una nueva creencia. Mi misión es reconciliar al siglo con la religión en el terreno dogmático, político y social. Me siento sacerdote hasta la médula de los huesos; pero he recibido del Señor un secreto divino: la Iglesia de hoy no es sino el germen de la Iglesia del porvenir, que tendrá tres círculos: en el primero cabrán católicos y protestantes; en el segundo, judíos y musulmanes; en el tercero, idólatras, paganos y aun ateos... Comenzaré yo solo, en mí mismo, el perfecto Reino de Dios... Soy el primogénito de una nueva alianza.
La celda se llenó de azulada sombra. La campana, llamando al coro, lo sacó de su arrobamiento.
En el coro había seis frailes. Más tarde, en el refectorio, reuniéronse hasta doce entre profesos y coristas, y como fuese un día de gran fiesta, el cocinero añadió a las coles hervidas y a las lechugas con aceite, que formaban su ordinario sustento, un trozo de anchoa asada y un jarro de cerveza. Fray Plácido exultaba viendo aquel tímido reflorecimiento de su congregación. ¡Pluguiera a Dios que el arroyito que brotaba en el santuario se transformase en río caudaloso como el de la visión de Ezequiel!
Para descansar el cerebro fatigado, esa noche en la celda se puso a leer un libro en que se contaba minuciosamente la muerte de Voltaire, necio y desventurado personaje que en el espantoso trance interesábase más por el destino de su vieja osamenta, semiputrefacta ya, que por el de su alma inmortal. Leyó las artimañas de que se valió para que no se negara a su cuerpo la sepultura eclesiástica, que ansiaba sólo por la más inexplicable y contradictoria vanidad. Para lograr ese propósito llamó al confesor y consintió en firmar un documento retractándose de sus doctrinas.
Pero, como mejorase de esa enfermedad y recobrara la salud, se arrepintió de su retractación, y temiendo recaer en ella si volvía a enfermarse, levantó en presencia de un notario una protesta contra una manifestación análoga que in artículo mortis pudiera arrancarle otro confesor.
Pasaron nada menos que treinta y cinco años; Dios lo esperaba con infinita paciencia. Se halló de nuevo en trance de muerte, y preocupado siempre por el destino de su cadáver, aceptó los auxilios de M. de Tersac —cura de San Sulpicio, su parroquia— y extendió la retractación de ritual, sin la que ningún sacerdote tenía facultad para absolverlo. Pero el cura sometió el caso al arzobispo, que no aceptó aquel documento redactado con demasiada astucia, y exigió algo más categórico. Voltaire, aprovechando una fugaz mejoría, empezó a chicanear. De pronto llegó de veras la muerte, y el filósofo expiró, no rodeado de flores y amigos y dialogando y sonriendo filosóficamente, según lo imaginaban sus admiradores, sino blasfemando; desnudo, porque su vientre inflamado no soportaba ni una hebra de hilo, y gritando que le dieran un estanque de hielo para aplacar la sed.
Tales llegaron a ser su tortura y su desesperación, que hundió las manos en el pus de su vejiga y se llenó la boca, mientras los circunstantes, su sobrina la Denis, su sobrino Villette, su criado Wagniéres, sus médicos Tronchin y Lorry, transidos de horror, contemplaban la escena.
—Talis vita, finis ita —dijo el fraile yendo a cerrar el libro.
Se contuvo al ver una fecha: Voltaire había muerto el 30 de mayo de 1778, y esa noche se cumplía el segundo centenario
—¡Doscientos años! —exclamó el superior—. Sucesión inacabable de sufrimientos. Y sin embargo todavía su eternidad ni siquiera ha comenzado. ¿Qué misterios, Señor, los de estas almas a las que disteis más luz que a las otras y que os han blasfemado más? ¿Qué escondido deleite hay en el orgullo, que embriagó y perdió a la tercera parte de los ángeles?
Con estos pensamientos se puso a rezar, hasta que lo venció el sueño y se durmió.
Debió dormir apenas dos horas; un fuerte ruido le hizo abrir los ojos y vio por la ventana que aún no había salido la luna. Plena oscuridad en la huerta, y en su celda un resplandor extraño y un insufrible hedor.
Se incorporó en el camastro y estiró la mano hacia su pila de agua bendita. Lo paralizó una voz infinitamente dolorosa, que venía del rincón más alejado.
—Guárdate de tocar esa agua, porque me harías huir. Guárdate de pronunciar exorcismos, si quieres que te comunique los secretos del porvenir. Yo soy el desventurado filósofo cuya muerte viste escrita; un sabio a los ojos de los necios, y hoy un necio eterno a mis propios ojos... ¿Quieres oírme?
Fray Plácido alcanzó a ver la figura de un hombre desnudo, con las carnes calcinadas y consumidas; evidentemente, la figura de Voltaire.
—¡Habla en nombre de Cristo!
No bien pronunció esta palabra, oyó el crujir de aquellos huesos, los vio doblarse hasta arrodillarse sobre las baldosas y escuchó un lamento:
—¿Por qué lo llamaste? ¿No sabes que cuando suena ese nombre todos los habitantes del cielo y del infierno se arrodillan? Tú no puedes ni siquiera imaginarte el suplicio que es para mí, que solamente lo llamo “el Infame”, adorarlo cada vez que otros lo nombran con su verdadero nombre.
—¡Habla; no lo nombraré más! —dijo el fraile, temeroso de espantar aquella sombra a la que deseaba arrancar sus secretos.
Y al advertir el rictus de la desdentada calavera, le preguntó, perplejo:
—¿Te ríes, Voltaire?
—Esta risa es mi condenación. Yo he hecho reír a los hombres para que no creyeran en la divinidad del Infame. ¡Y yo creía! Creía y temblaba, sabiendo que un día nos encontraríamos frente a frente. Me sentía dotado de una inteligencia portentosa, mayor que la de todos los hombres después de Salomón, y pude elegir entre servir a Dios o alzarme con ella contra Él y ser su enemigo eternamente.
—Y dijiste, como Luzbel: ¡Non serviam!
—¡Sí! Y Él me dio, en cambio, larguísima vida, para que tuviese tiempo de arrepentirme.
—¿Y ahora te arrepientes de no haberla aprovechado?
—¡No! Arrepentirse es humillarse, cosa imposible en la miserable condición de mi alma. Si yo volviera a vivir, volvería a condenarme...
—¡Explícame ese horrible misterio!
—Durante sesenta años fui festejado y aplaudido como un rey. Poetas, filósofos, príncipes, mujeres, se pasmaban de admiración ante la más trivial de mis burlas.
—¿Y tú, te admirabas también a ti mismo?
—Yo, a medida que avanzaba la vejez, tenía mayor asco del objeto de aquella admiración de hombres y mujeres, pues cada vez que abría mi boca, antes que ellos sintieran el rumor de mis palabras, yo olía el hedor de mi aliento. Pero si era nauseabunda la fetidez de mi boca, era incomparablemente peor la hediondez de mis pensamientos.
—¡Infeliz!
—Ellos me consideraban un semidiós y yo los despreciaba, sintiendo pudrirse mi carne, envoltura del alma inmortal. ¡Ay de mí! Durante 84 años esa carne, que iba disolviéndose, fue mi única defensa contra el Infame. Mientras yo, es decir, mi voluntad, subsistiera atrincherada en esa carne, podría seguir lanzando mi grito de guerra: ¡Aplastad al Infame!
—¡Cristo vive, Cristo reina, Cristo impera! —exclamó, horrorizado, el viejo, sin pensar en las consecuencias de esa triple alabanza.
—¡Ay! —dijo Voltaire con indescriptible lamento; y otra vez se oyó el siniestro crujir de sus rodillas quemadas que se doblaron hasta el suelo; y se vio a la macabra figura postrarse de hinojos—. Éste es mi tormento mayor: ¡confesar su divinidad!
—In nomine Jesu —murmuró el fraile para sí mismo—, omne genu flectatur cœlestium, terrestrium et infernorum.
Y añadió en voz alta:
 —¿Acaso no temías a Dios?
—¡Oh, sí, lo temía! ¡Oh, miseria y contradicción de mi soberbia! Cuando pensaba en la muerte me aterraba, y hubiera dado mi fortuna, mi fama y mis libros por un solo grano de humildad, la semilla del arrepentimiento. Pero la humildad no es natural; es sobrenatural. Un hombre sin ojos podría ver más fácilmente que un hombre soberbio decir: “Pequé, Señor; perdón. ” Ver sin ojos es contranatural; una fuerza natural puede modificarse por otra fuerza natural. Pero arrepentirse sin humildad es contra lo sobrenatural, infinitamente más allá de las fuerzas del hombre. Se necesita la gracia divina.
—¿Y, por ventura, Dios no te la dio?
—¡Sí, a torrentes! Pluguiera el cielo que no se me hubieran dado tantas gracias. Pues, al juzgarnos en esta sombría región, se tienen más en cuenta las gracias rechazadas que los pecados cometidos.
—¡Sigue, Voltaire! Te escucho con ansiedad.
El patriarca de Ferney prosiguió así, entre secos y horripilantes sollozos:
—Cuando uno ha rechazado obstinadamente durante veinte años, treinta años, medio siglo, los auxilios sobrenaturales de la gracia, Dios lo abandona a sus simples fuerzas naturales, la inteligencia y la voluntad. Yo veía mi destino si no me humillaba; pero humillarme habría sido un milagro. Y mi orgullo me embriagaba diciéndome que yo, hediondo y agusanado, podía por mi libre albedrío resistir a la gracia, complacerme en mi fuerza y luchar contra Dios. ¡Qué delirio, hacer lo imposible aun para las estrellas de los cielos y los mismos arcángeles: resistir a Dios! Tenía el frenesí de la blasfemia y del sacrilegio. Por burlarme del Infame comulgué muchas veces sacrílegamente delante de mis criados; y mis amigos me aplaudían y me imitaban. Y así llegué al día del espanto.
—La hora de la venganza —dijo el fraile, horrorizado—. Effunde frameam. Desenvaina tu espada, Señor.
—Así fue; llegó el turno de Dios, y desenvainó la espada sobre mí.
—Cuéntame tus últimos momentos.
—Los hombres no sospechan los misterios de esa hora, especialmente del postrer momento en que las potencias del alma, la memoria, el entendimiento, la voluntad, adquieren una agudeza inconmensurable.
—¿Cuánto dura eso?
—Supón que sólo sea un segundo; pero en ese segundo cabe mucho más que toda tu vida, por larga que fuera; allí cabe tu eternidad. En ese instante puede tu voluntad fijarle el rumbo. ¡Desventurado de mí! La obstinación de ochenta años, transformada en impenitencia final, es como un muro de bronce incandescente que rodea el alma y aguanta el último asalto de la misericordia, temblando, ¡oh, contradicción!, de ser derrotada, y espantándose de antemano de lo que será su propio triunfo. ¡Ay de mí! Yo triunfaba. Los rayos de la gracia se rompían sobre mi corazón como flechas de marfil contra una roca.
—¿Triunfa la gracia alguna vez?
—Millares de veces, porque es la virtud de la Sangre. ¡Cuántas retractaciones inesperadas, que quedan en el secreto del más allá! Pero si vieras la dureza de los que pecaron contra el Espíritu... de los desesperados, de los irónicos que por lograr un chiste arrojaron una blasfemia, de los que vendieron al orgullo su última hora, de los apóstatas. Para asistir y vigilar la impenitencia final de ésos, el diablo abandona toda otra ocupación. Y se mete en sus venas y hay como una transfusión del orgullo diabólico en el alma del renegado.
—Los hombres no conocen las profundidades de Satanás —murmuró fray Plácido.
—Si el diablo pudiera arrepentirse, ése sería el momento de su conversión, cuando por fortalecer la soberbia de un alma se ha empobrecido de la suya transfundiéndosela. ¡Ay!, cuando se llega a esas profundidades, el alma se hunde voluntariamente en su destino.
—¿Voluntariamente? —interrogó el fraile.
—¿Te sorprende? Escucha: yo he firmado con mi propia mano mi eterna condenación. Y la volvería a firmar cien veces, con pleno discernimiento, antes de humillarme y decir ¡Pequé, Señor; perdóname!
—No cabe en mi mente —replicó fray Plácido aterrado— que sea verdad el que si volvieras a vivir volverías a merecer tu condenación.
—¡Sí, cien y mil veces! En el último instante de mi vida, cuando por aliviar mi sed me llené la boca de inmunda materia y arrojé aquel espantoso alarido que ha quedado en mi historia; cuando mis ojos se cuajaron, todos me creyeron muerto. Pero yo estaba vivo, arañando el barro podrido de mi carne que todavía, por unos segundos, me libraba de caer en manos de Dios.