Confronted with the Truth

Pope Francis does not mince words in his daily homilies: calling the attempt to tame the Holy Spirit in the work of the Second Vatican Council, stubbornness and foolishness; and then several days latter saying that “ideologues,” from whatever side they come, “falsify the gospel.”

And these ideologues, as we have seen in the history of the Church, end up being intellectuals without talent, ethicists without goodness – and let us not so much as mention beauty, of which they understand nothing.

Pope Francis says that the solution is the humility by which one welcomes the Word of God, not only into one’s head, but also into one’s heart.  He says that the doctors of the law in our Lord’s time were too heady:  they knew the law, but they were unconverted:

They are the ones who walk only ‘on the path of duty,’” theirs is the moralistic (outlook) of those who pretend to understand the Gospel with their heads alone.

Today he speaks of “lukewarm Christians,” “Christian satellites” who want to have a small Church, and “walk only in the presence of common sense,” building a Church according their specifications for their little group.

Hard words about hard words (Jn 6:60).

I have written much on this blog about ideology on the left and right in the Church.  Ideologies are unhelpful, whether they have to do with turning sex into mysticism or a crisis into the apocalypse.  Thank God, once again, for Pope Francis.


30 thoughts on “Confronted with the Truth

  1. “And these ideologues, as we have seen in the history of the Church, end up being intellectuals without talent, ethicists without goodness – and let us not so much as mention beauty, of which they understand nothing.”

    YES! This is the best quote I’ve read in a long time, and quite a gift to have coming from the Holy Father himself. Beauty is not a stylistic formula, nor is it easily dissected, nor can it be taught by simple rules. Ideology is the great destroyer of art, and mere intellectualism is a great destroyer of minds.

    Thanks for passing this on, Father!

  2. By the way of art and beauty, some time ago I had watched a documentary that they have said to me that was very good about that issue. Its title is Why beauty matters by Roger Scruton, a British philosopher. It is more about Arquiteture, but it has a large range (um amplo alcance). In our times, there is a culture that exats (extols) the ugliness. In a Christian sense, I think this means a search for the bad and the sin.

    Por que a Beleza Importa (Why Beauty Matters). Legendado

  3. This make me remind the following text. It’s a text of a Orthodox monk about the destruction of the classical meaning of beauty by the modern art. By the way I think the ugliest churchs in the world are in Brazil (America Latina). The exaltation and glorification of modern arquiteture in this side of the emisphere is really rediculous, if not sick (doentio).

    The Nihilist Program
    War against God, issuing in the proclamation of the reign of nothingness, which means the triumph of incoherence and absurdity, the whole plan presided over by Satan: this, in brief, is the theology and the meaning of Nihilism. But man cannot live by such blatant negation; […]

  4. Father, about the ideologies, I agree with you. However the ideology that more grows in the world today is the marxism or communism. I know that may be stupid or ridiculous, but I say that based in what has happened in my country. Some decades ago, the leftist said there was a right dictatorship in my country. But that wasn’t true. But today there is a left dicatorship in my country. They said the same thing for Argentina, Pope Francis’ country. Maybe Pope Francis may have said that based in the history of his own country. Actually the political history of the countries of South America (America Latina) is very similar.

    What I want to say is: despite theorically both ideologies, as on the rigth and on the left are bad, on reality is necessary to figth against left ideologies, because currently they are the dangerous threat to Christians nowadays.

    I don’t know if Garabandal prophecies are true, but they said that the communism would seem to desapear and after some time would grow again and would become stronger than the begining. And that seems true. That is we are watching in our days. I don’t mean apocaliptic, but I think these things are sings of our time.

    P.S.: Please, forgive my bad English.

    See this documentary

  5. A word of caution regarding modern art. Generally speaking, there is no easy parallel between modernism in the arts and modernist theology, and a tremendous amount of unnecessary damage is done when the two are confused. While there certainly have been modern art movements which have attacked beauty, there is also a great deal of deliberately and profoundly beautiful modern art, architecture, and music.

    The camera is a modern invention: it can be used to create beautiful art, or hideous art. We do ourselves no credit if we ban all photography because some use it for evil. Likewise with modern musical developments.

    I’m not sure the Holy Father is addressing anything close to these examples, but ideological thought tends to lob grenades anywhere–any target will do, so long as it can be painted as the enemy. The endgame is only cultural and intellectual impoverishment–never the desired restoration of a golden age.

    The habit of aligning everyone and everything into ideological camps is ultimately dehumanizing, and destructive to approaching others as individuals, loved by Christ. If we drop ideologies, and actually dare engage each other as people rather than as political units, we take a step towards the sunlight. I believe this is part of what the Holy Father is suggesting–at least I hope it is, and I am grateful to hear it.

  6. Eric,
    I know that can be beautiful modern art, athough it is exception. Honestly I hate modern art. It’s my like, but I know many people like it and they have their reason, I have to admit it. But in my country the modern art is absolutly ugly, tottaly hideous. If you see, you will believe me. I have a huge disgust at Churchs in modern style.(Eu tenho um enorme desgosto em relação à Igrejas em estilo moderno).

    I just commented about that issue, because you had commented before and I realy like arts and arquiteture, despite I’m just a lover and not a expert.

    See the official webpage of the Belo Horizonte’s Cathedral desing. And there are a lot of another else hideous churchs in Brazil.

    And through a search by google

  7. About Pope Francis’ homily, he speaks very generaly. What he said can be applied to anything in the Church. When he called some Catholics or Christians of “satellites”, I think he is trying to say that that people who are like satellites just follow Chris away, they keep thenselves away, they don’t get involved in, they don’t want to go ahead with Christ until the Cross and be crucified with the Master. They watch Christ’s passion away, confortably. (Of course I’m talking figuratively.) I think that is what he is talking about. But I thought very interesting the relation that Fr. Angelo made with the several homilies of the Holy Father.
    Assuming the Holy Father’s metaphor is about the tradicionalist and the progressists (here in South America I would call the last ones of followers of Liberation Theology/Teologia da Libertação.), they are satellites because they constructed his own world, they live in another world, in this own world, despite they “follow” the Church. They say that they follow the Church, but they follow what they like following, as well what they desire. They don’t follow Christ in “Christ’s planet” (His Church), this is, they don’t obbey the Church, they obbey their fantasies, their nonsenses, even their heresies. At least, that makes sense for me. I hope I’m right.

  8. The tradicionalist want a Chruch stucked at Pius XXII’s pontificate. And the progressist or modernist or followers of Libertation Theology (Teologia da Libertação), imagine a unreal Church that break up with its past and have to create a Church absoluty new, absolutely differente from the past. You can’t imagine how many stupid and even heretical and profane things some crazy priest from South America has made with the Church. That just can be the final of the ages. See what they made in the most important marian Shrine in Brazil, the Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida (Santuário de Nossa Senhora Aparciada).

    Novena Solene | Entrada da Bíblia – 3º dia – dia 05 de Outubro de 2012

  9. Just one more example! See what so stupid theater they dare performing into the shrine of Our Lady Aparecida.
    Novena Solene | Entrada da Bíblia – 5º dia – 07 de Outubro de 2012

    Besides that, it has no sense!

  10. Alex,
    Thank you so very much for digesting the Holy Father’s homily and regurgitating it for us who ‘didn’t understand’. (Sarcasm)

  11. No problem, Marie.
    I didn’t mean arrogant (arrogante, snobbish?). Have I ever said that I’m gratuated as a Portuguese teacher. I do tend to explain the things like a teacher all the time. I have to admit some times that is misunderstand, but it’s ok. I have been learning to control myself at this point, although sometimes I failed.

  12. I like these thoughts about sacred arquiteture. See

    “When considering, for example, fire, precious stones, or the ocean,
    they believed these beautiful things spoke of excellence and marvels that must be appreciated and fit into a harmonious order.

    From this, they constructed veritable cathedrals of harmonious ideas that were reflected in the actual structures that they later built for God’s greater glory.

    Ultimately, they desired Heaven. Yet it was an idea of Heaven based on all the earthly marvels that they thought could reflect Heaven’s marvels.”

    Source: America Needs Fatima on Facebook.

  13. Alex,
    I prayed for you during Mass today. I also asked for an increase of charity for me.
    Peace on earth to men of good will.

  14. Alex,

    Your English is better than my Portuguese! Like most North Americans, I only speak one language badly!

    I’m no expert on modern Brazilian architecture (I’m a musician by education) but I looked at exterior photos of the Catedral Christo Rei. I find it stunningly beautiful, and would caution you to please avoid confusing your personal dislike (and perhaps misreading) of the architecture with any sort of real philosophical or theological objection. Has modernism produced, in some quarters, an “aesthetic of ugliness”? Yes. But if we are going to be responsible critics of art, we have to be honest about exactly where this aesthetic has been advanced. To say that all modern art (or even most modern art) had this goal is simply wrong. It’s like saying that all classical music was written simply to prop up the aristocracy, or all romantic era music was written to celebrate lust. In short, it’s a gross oversimplification and gets us exactly nowhere.

    Modern art had many, many sources, many inspirations, and many goals. For every composer like Schoenberg (who was eager to express a dark, disturbed Freudian subconscious) there are plenty of composers whose version of modernism was an attempt to restore a pre-Romantic classicism (such as Stravinsky, Debussy, Satie, et al). To the average listener, unschooled in music, a great deal of Stravinsky and Schoenberg sound similar–but to say that they were both interested in ugliness would be wrong. It would also be unfair to tar all of the followers of Schoenberg–many applied his musical ideas differently–and in the world of art, intent matters deeply. Olivier Messiaen, for instance, was influenced by Schoenberg’s student, Berg–and yet went on to write music that he hoped would serve as an expression of his Catholic faith (his masterpieces include an opera based upon the life of St Francis of Assisi and a Quartet based upon the book of Revelation).

    Much modern art was a deliberate yearning for something more simple, more basic, less arrogant, gaudy, or decadent as the art that proceded it. Much of it took popular forms seriously, rather than always deferring to aristocratic tastes. Musically, both Brazil and the United States produced geniuses of music outside of the European classical tradition (Antonio Carlos Jobim and Thelonious Monk are two: there are countless others). The music and art of the Americas is young yet, but we need not consider it heretical–any more than we might consider European music heretical simply because it didn’t resemble the Jewish modal music of the first century (which is undoubtedly what Jesus and the apostles would have considered music!)

    If we see or hear something we don’t like, let’s assume the best at first: let’s first ask “what was the architect trying to say? Might I grow to understand it better?” My entire life as a musician has been a story of growth for willingness to ask those questions.

    There is room for everything good.

    Peace, brother.

  15. Hi Eric! I love your comment! How many intersting things about music! I have to say I Iove music. One day I would like to study music. Specially I love Gregorian chant. I have already tried to enter in a conservatorium (a school of music) at my city, but I wasn’t able to be admited. The regent said I need to excercise more my voice. I think he said that because I coudn’t say some long musical notes.
    I have seen you have a blog about music. That’s great!
    I have a friend on facebook who studies music. He has a interesting chanel on Youtube. If Fr. Angelo allows, I’m going to share the link of his chanel. I think you would like it.

    Thank you for your compliments for my English. That’s a boost for me making more efforts to get my English better.

    I hope you can learn Portuguese too. 🙂

  16. Marie, you’re welcome! Thank you too for your pious prayers for me! God bless you!
    I would like to share with you some enlightening words of Padre Pio. I hope you like them and don’t worry. 🙂
    “Let us observe with profound gratitude, that sublime mystery which strongly attracts the Heart of Jesus to His creatures.” (Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina)
    “Bear in mind that the more pleasing a soul is to God, the more he must be tried. Therefore, courage, and go forward, always.” (Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina)

  17. Alex, I would love to learn Portuguese–then I could listen to João Gilberto without having to read translations! I have a deep appreciation and respect for Brazilian music. Listening to Gilberto has taught me so much over the years–especially about phrasing. I have several musician friends from Brazil–mostly from Sao Paulo–and I would love to visit there someday.

    I like Gregorian chant, too. Very beautiful, strong, foundational music.

    Peace and God Bless.

  18. Alex,
    Padre Pio is one of my favorite saints. His image is every where in my home and I keep a third class relic of his on my rosary. I ‘kiss’ him every time I pray Our Lady’s psalter, or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Padre Pio is the reason I came back into the Catholic Church. I am indebted to his intercessions.
    I had hoped to be a Third Order Franciscan one day. I had thought it was his inspiration, as well as the Madonna’s. Time will tell.
    I like the second saying best. It reminds me of St Bernadette, St Louis de Montfort, St Therese, St Faustina….and Blessed Pope John Paul II ~ my hero!

    Thanks for sending a lovely selection of sayings. You hit a home run on that one!

    Ave Maria!

  19. Father,

    If Our Lady is Polaris, then Mary Victrix is the Big Dipper of the web: it points to her and keeps us on course. Thank you for letting us post here.

    [For any musicians reading, there are some overly broad generalizations in what I wrote above. To quickly clarify: my mention of Debussy should be taken only in a very specific sense; that of his early pre-Raphaelite interest. To suggest he turned away from Romanticism would be wrong–I think there is a great deal of natural development in Debussy, and no reactionary spirit. Satie is probably the stronger example of pure modernism (though not a reactionary either). Likewise, Schoenberg takes a hard hit in the prose above: a deeper discussion of his art would reveal much greater scope. Schoenberg’s theories and method of atonality might have had motivations many of us consider unworthy or off target, but even his severest critics should know that his influence was not all negative: his work often inspired other composers to discover even deeper principles of music. It is impossible to think of Messiaen, and his brilliant understandings of modality, tonality, and atonality, without the pioneering work of Schoenberg, who in many ways forced a discussion that needed to happen.]

  20. Eric, what a great surprise for me is knowing you like Brazilian music and have friends from Brazil. Thank you for mention it.
    I’m going to share my link on Google Plus. Some times I share pieces of music and songs there. Maybe you will like then.

  21. Marie, I hadn’t yet watched the video you shared. Realy beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing it!
    I’m happy to know you liked the sayings of Padre Pio. I receive then every day from Padre Pio Group. It is a website that send then for free by email.

  22. Alex, I have never been to Brazil, but I love her and her people deeply. The reason:

    To discuss why Gilberto is so great, why his music is so miraculously expansive in the midst of it’s quiet beauty, would take a very long discussion–and would demand an engagement with African music, European music, the history of popular song, the social history of Brazil, the history of amplification…the list goes on. But when an artist like Gilberto finds a way to express his soul through all of these ancient influences and modern methods, he opens a world of experience for all of us to enter: we are invited to love what he loves, to share in the beauty of his experience. When bossa nova came into being in the ’50s, it opened a new way to share these beauties–a new way to sing from one soul to another.

    When I see the plans for the Catedral Cristo Rei, I see praise of God in an architectural song worthy of your great nation. Now you may never like it–you don’t have to!–but perhaps that it is held in such esteem by your brother to the north will help you accept it, and realize some of its great value to the world.

    Feel free to email me anytime–my email can be gotten through the bio on my blog.

    God Bless and Ave Maria!

  23. Eric, you chose a very beautiful song! I love it! Brazil has already been a country very cultured. Nowadays, however it has became a country destroyed by marxism and other leftists ideologies.
    The most of the songs produced nowadays in Brazil has only stupid lyrics or just a sexual meaning. But I can’t share these kind of songs here.
    Later I’m going to write to you.
    Thanks for the song!
    God bless you too!
    Ave Maria!

  24. Just thought I would pass along a link to a conference on Church architecture that I found interesting and informative given by Denis McNamara at the Franciscan University in Steubenville

    In Christ,

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