Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What does Fatima say about Amoris Laetitia?

My friend, the rather brilliant theologian Fr Serafino Lanzetta asked me the question: What does Fatima say about Amoris Laetitia? It is a good question, a bit like the Zen master's question, 'what is the sound of one hand clapping?' On one level both questions could be answered by the simple answer, 'Nothing', but then both questions are to be pondered, sipped slowly, with no rash conclusion, both questions are in fact are profound.

I was 'formed' in a relatively liberal theological climate of the 1970s, it was fundamentally apophatic, to an almost snobbish degree, in our age it has reappeared with a vengeance. Apophatic (negative) theology isn't a bad thing in itself, it is a frank admission that God is beyond us, his ways are not our ways, there is always something unknowable about, ultimately he is Mystery but always it needs to be balanced with Cataphatic (positive) theology which tell us God gives us reason and revelation, especially through Jesus Christ allow us the know and love him. God became incarnate, so that in our flesh we might see him.

In the 1970s there was such a push against anything that spoke of mystery, of the supernatural, of the other, of anything that said we might actually be able to 'touch' God, it is fundamentally Arian, the belief that God did not become Man, Jesus was not what the anti-Arian Nicene Creed says so strongly that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father (Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sǽcula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero, Génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri: Qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem Descéndit de cælis. Et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto Ex María Vírgine, et homo factus est. Per quem ómnia facta sunt.), Arius could say none of this because Jesus for him was not fully God, just a form of God.

The theology that dominated this period was that of men like Hans Küng, which was far removed from the Catholicism of ordinary Catholics, it was very deeply rooted in the protestant Tübingen school which pioneered the historical-critical analysis of biblical and early Christian writings, which in certain hands could reduce the 'historic' Jesus' - who is different to the Jesus of faith - words to a message that could be written on the back of a postage stamp. Miracles like the feeding of the 5000 could be reduced to an act of sharing, the Incarnation and Resurrection to a mere myth, the Eucharist to a sharing in bread and wine, 'a meal for people today rather than the sacrifice of yesterday offered to God', Mary of course, who in Catholic/Orthodox theology is the resolute defender of true belief in the doctrine of the Incarnation lost her place of the triumphant Immaculate and becomes a doubter like any other woman, her sinlessness becomes an embarrassment and myth, a kindly mum, of doubtful virginity rather than the pure Theotokos, As Lumen Gentium says what can be said of Mary can be said of the Church, and so the Church becomes an old fashioned human institution that is in need of constant updating rather than the sacred bride of Jesus Christ.

It was of course against this background that Vatican II and the ecumenical movement and relationships with non-Christians grew up, it was in this environment that modern liturgy came into being and was implemented and all the world's bishops were chosen, and this environment in which the priests of my generation grew up.

Fatima, which I must admit for years I had difficulty with - Walsingham is ancient it is pretty harmless, Lourdes at least is useful, it is about healing. Fatima on the other-hand is different it is about so many unpalatable issues: judgement, penance, heaven and hell, condemnation and divine wrath, it is hot knife cutting through butter. It is so unsophisticated, a reflection of child-like peasant belief. In a world, a Church that has grown uncomfortable with the supernatural, it is profoundly super-natural, illogical, unscientific; God intervenes, the sun dances this is such a contradiction of what has now become the 'theological norm'.

Amoris Laetitia is from one world whereas Fatima from another.


Unknown said...

Thank you, Father. I want a peasant's Faith.

Tony McGough

Pelerin said...

This is the first I have ever heard of negative theology. This perhaps explains so much of what appears to be wrong in the Church today. Pew sitters are in dire need of positive facts about their Faith and a return to the mystery once so evident during every Sacrifice of the Mass.

Thank you Father for linking to that film. I had no idea it was on YouTube and although I noticed it was on in one of the cinemas in Lourdes and planned to go and see it, I was unable to fit it in during my visit. Not being 100% at the moment I shall watch it this afternoon - I too have never felt drawn to Fatima but perhaps it is ignorance of the details which has prevented me from seeing the importance of what happened there.

Liam Ronan said...

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” - 13 July 1917- Our Lady to the three shepherd children -

There is a hell people go there for their sins. Souls are lost for all eternity, not annihilated.

What has Fatima to do with AL? Everything. What has AL to do with Fatima? Nothing.

Steve said...

A faith just like little children.

Physiocrat said...

The liturgy has been formed by liberal theology. The present generation of Catholics has been formed by the liturgy. Will there even be another generation of Catholics? Or will it be "last one out, turn off the lights"?

Look at the age profile of the clergy and of congregations.

JARay said...

I have been to Fatima twice and the time distance between my two visits is about 50 years. The first time Fatima was much smaller and I witnessed whole families sleeping out on the ground and I saw them trying to get water from one tap in the town square. Now there are hotels everywhere and fleets of buses driving up and down the place. I felt more affected the first time but I was much younger then and I only got there by hitch-hiking. The second time I was in one of those buses and was driven right up to my hotel. Somehow it was not the same and I recognised nothing that I had seen on my first visit.

Liam Ronan said...

This Friday, 13 October 2017, the 100th anniversary of The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, the Sanctuary of Fatima will be darkened for the presentation of a "Fatima Tempo-de luz" audio visual light show which will "map projections, light effects and an original soundtrack" onto the Sanctuary at Fatima, ala' what had formerly been done to St. Peter's. Here is the link.


A counter-miracle of the sun being worked.

Unknown said...

In the 1970s there was such a push against anything that spoke of mystery, of the supernatural, of the other, of anything that said we might actually be able to 'touch' God,content creation Listen to God.

Physiocrat said...

Why did the architects of the Fatima Minor Basilica (not the main one, but the new basilica that opened in 2007) choose WW2 German fortifications as their source of inspiration?

Pelerin said...

Physiocrat - Good question! The 'style bunker' is not exactly inspirational and yet it seems to be a popular style of recent ecclesiastical construction in Europe. 'Hospital theatre style' is equally uninspirational. Where are the soaring spires of yesteryear?

Lepanto said...

Our Lady of Fatima' purpose (e.g. the vision of hell) surely was to provide an antidote to much of the theology published and taught since the apparitions occurred, including many of Pope Francis' assertions/implied teaching (hell isn't for ever, non-believers are annihilated, revelation is 'dynamic' - i.e. changing - etc. etc. etc.)

Physiocrat said...


Was Russia converted? And to what?

Lepanto said...


Not yet clearly but 'in the end' Her Immaculate Heart WILL triumph and we shall enjoy the promised era of peace.

Unknown said...

@Liam Ronan

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God Bless (Hello to Fr Ray)


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Liam Ronan said...

@Agnus de Christus,

Thanks. I'll have a gander. We've only just got our electrics back after being smacked by hurricane Ophelia here in the County Cork No light show for us.


Christopher Boegel said...

Fr. Ray:

Were you aware of this statement by Walter Kasper in history work "God in History" (1967):

"The God who sits enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offense to man."is

Liam Ronan said...

@Agnus de Christus,

I watched the YouTube video you'd referenced. Some of the assertions strike me as a bit extreme.

I offer you here something of St. Paul's in contemplating the parade of beasts in the Vatican light show projected onto St. Peter's:

"...they, who claimed to be so wise, turned fools, and exchanged the glory of the imperishable God for representations of perishable man, of bird and beast and reptile.

That is why God abandoned their lustful hearts to filthy practices of dishonouring their own bodies among themselves. They had exchanged God’s truth for a lie, reverencing and worshipping the creature in preference to the Creator (blessed is he for ever, Amen); and, in return, God abandoned them to passions which brought dishonour to themselves..." 1 Corinthians: 22-26 (Msgr. Ronald A. Knox Translation)

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