Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
Speaking in Cleveland recently, Harvard’s professor of anthropology, E. A. Hooton, reaffirmed his belief in the inhumanity of man. Dr. Hooton reported that man is merely a “super-ape,” that he is “savage, predatory, acquisitive, primarily interested in himself.” To an approving audience of fellow scientists, Dr. Hooton explained how advantageous it would be if men could adopt for themselves the breeding methods currently being used on domestic animals.
Dr. Hooton is his own rebuttal. The Point ’s concern is for those Hootonites with Roman collars who have become a familiar sight in our neighborhood. Once more this month we want to register our protest against members of the Society of Jesus who are willing to sit in a Harvard classroom and listen politely while Dr. Hooton establishes the simian ancestry of the Sacred Humanity of Jesus.
Publisher F. J. Sheed, a disappointed lawyer from Australia, who wandered into New York by way of London and an English wife (whom he affectionately calls “Ward”), has finally decided to go all out for the salvation of any Protestant who likes Sheed & Ward books. Even a Protestant minister can make the grade, as Mr. Sheed affirms in the following announcement:
“We were very sad indeed to hear that Dr. Hobart McKeehan, a Protestant minister who loved books and gave Sheed & Ward many excellent reviews, died last month in a car accident. Although we’re sure he spent Easter in Heaven, we had a Mass said for him.”
Among other poses, Archbishop Cushing was photographed for the Boston newspapers this past month wearing a large smile and the habit of a Franciscan friar. The occasion was his being made an honorary member of the friars’ First Order. After the ceremony, which took place in the auditorium of a local insurance company, the Archbishop had this to say: “I have always done my humble best to follow in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.”
This should be enough of a cue to all members of the Archdiocese that, from now on, Archbishop Cushing will expect to be referred to as “the little poor man.”
Suppose you were Pope and you wanted to say, in a way that no one could squirm out of, that there is absolutely no salvation outside the Church. Could you put it more clearly, more strongly than it is in these statements?
Pope Innocent III, at the Fourth Lateran Ecumenical Council, in the year 1215, speaking infallibly, “There is only one universal Church of the faithful and outside of it none at all can be saved.”
Pope Boniface VIII, in his bull, Unam Sanctam, dated 1302, speaking infallibly, “We declare, say, define and pronounce that it is wholly necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Pope Eugene IV, in his bull, Cantate Domino, dated 1441, speaking infallibly, “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and teaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire, ‘which was prepared for the Devil and his angels,’ unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the Sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgiving, their other works of Christian piety, and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.”
THE OVERSEERS OF AMERICAN THEOLOGY
Americans like to boast that they live in the land of opportunity, where the son of poor immigrants can grow up to have a diamond-studded swimming pool and an ermine-wrapped wife. This boast expresses what Americans refer to as “the pursuit of happiness,” a pursuit to which they were dedicated at their country’s founding and in which they have been furiously engaged ever since.
Yet, it is glaringly evident that, for all the devices they have contrived to help them snare it, happiness remains for Americans something perpetually out of reach and out of sight. And the franticness of their pursuit merely emphasizes the pathos of their failure.
But what about the 29 million Americans who are Catholics? Are they not sufficient to leaven their society, and to show their fellow countrymen that happiness is not something to be overtaken in high-powered convertibles on superhighways, but is to be sought in the quiet adoration of a white wafer that is God? Yes, American Catholics could do this — except that they are wholeheartedly engrossed in the same kind of pursuit of the same kind of happiness as all other Americans; and are just as unhappy as they. Far from leavening their society, they have made themselves, in their conversations, their interests, and their ambitions, indistinguishable from Protestants and Jews.
This thoroughly unhappy state is due partially to the fact that American Catholics have let other interests take precedence for them over the Faith. But there is another reason even more significant: They do not tell their fellow countrymen how to find happiness in the Faith because they do not themselves know the Faith; and they do not know it because they have never been taught it. It has never been presented to them as the vital, exciting, joyful and beautiful thing it is, but only as a kind of not-too-interesting required routine, something they are neither encouraged nor expected to know much about. Instead of being instructed by their own parish priests, patiently and lovingly, they have been made to feel — as have the parish priests also — that there are only a few men qualified to speak on doctrinal matters, a few theological know-it-alls who tell the rest of the Catholics, clerical and lay, what the Faith is all about.
Of these doctrinal dictators, the three outstanding are Father Francis J. Connell, C. Ss. R., Monsignor Joseph C. Fenton, and Monsignor Matthew Smith. These three priests have emerged from nowhere to set themselves up as the official and unquestioned American theologians. Not even the Pope is able to speak to American Catholics without their mediation. His pronouncements require their interpretations, which infallibly follow, in order to make them clear and to show what he was really trying to say.
The opinions and interpretations of Fathers Connell, Fenton, and Smith are disseminated by means of one journal, one university, and many newspapers. These are, respectively, The American Ecclesiastical Review, of which Fenton is the editor and Connell the associate editor; the Catholic University of America, at which Fenton was, and Connell is, Dean of the School of Theology; and the newspapers that print articles issued by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, of which Connell is the star performer, together with the Denver Register, of which Smith is the editor and featured columnist.
Properly speaking, Monsignor Smith is not a professional theologian at all, but only a journalist with a flair for theological dabbling. Connell and Fenton are really the original thinkers, issuing their proclamations from the nation’s capital. Smith is merely their parrot, the voice out of the West. His job is to see to it, by means of his newspaper, that American Catholics are informed of the opinions Connell and Fenton have decided they ought to have. However, he does his job so faithfully and so well — besides which he often adds bright touches and anecdotes of his own — that he deserves to rank with the other two.
Father Connell specializes in giving the “Catholic position” on the latest newspaper headlines. There is not a single curiosity or scandal that he fails to notice and to comment on for the edification of American Catholics. Typical of his unholy interests and faithless comments is the article he wrote last year during the “flying saucer” ruckus. Asking himself the question, how could men on other planets be redeemed, he casually elaborated a scheme of multiple Incarnations and reincarnations of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, a scheme which turns Our Lady from Virgo Singularis into just one of the mothers of one of the Divine Persons who became man.
Monsignor Fenton likes to make it appear that he is terribly strong and intransigent on the matter of dogma, and that he is persecuted on account of this by those with more liberal ideas. However, as is plainly evident to any long-term reader of Fenton’s Ecclesiastical Review, there is no lasting difference between him and the liberals; he merely says what they say two years later.
In his interpretations of the doctrine “no salvation outside the Church,” his prize interpretations, Fenton lays down conditions for non-Catholic salvation that are so rigid and far-fetched that practically no one can meet them. (This is to show his “terrible strength.”) However, it does not bother him that those who want to go all out for getting non-Catholics into Heaven, do so using his reasons and his authority. All the liberals need is one little loophole, which Fenton gives. Through that loophole, the liberals are able, in their need, to squeeze every Protestant and Jew in America.
The Faith is meant to be something clear and simple, which the Holy Father can teach us in innocent terms, and every man can and must know for his salvation and his happiness. But as long as Fathers Fenton, Connell and Smith are running the show, the Faith is going to be presented as something obscure and esoteric — something that can be known by no one but these priests, and those to whom it shall please them to reveal it.
BY FATHER FEENEY
This is chastity: to keep central things central, to keep the Holy of Holies holy. The one central thing in the temple of the Jews was the Holy of Holies. The courts outside it had significance and meaning because the central thing was kept sacrosanct. Into the Holy of Holies, the High Priest went but once a year. He was the only one who could enter in. The faithful remained outside, watching. We have a Holy of Holies far more sacred than that of the Jews. And when a priest walks into the sanctuary of our Holy of Holies, there should be no other interest in his heart or in his thoughts except that Blessed Eucharist.
Our Bread of Life looks like the frailest little thing in the world. The Host is the least like stone that anything could possibly be. It is the most perishable little substance. Each morning it has to be renewed. But it is infinitely more abiding than the stones in the Ark of the Covenant — as long as the words of Jesus Christ are spoken, as long as there are priests somewhere in the world.
The Blessed Eucharist will never be lost, as were the Tablets of stone in the Ark of the Covenant. You can lose the Faith, if you are a priest, but another priest will come — there will be another altar, another vineyard, another wheat field. The Sacrifice of the Mass will always be in the world, from the rising of the sun to its going down.
We have not just one Ark of the Covenant. We have thousands and thousands of tabernacles, housing that little Frailty, whose whiteness and roundness are now the wrappings of the Flesh and Blood of God, once structured in Nazareth out of the pure substance of Mary’s body. Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist is the Gift of God, and of her who for nine months was the tabernacle of God.
The Blessed Eucharist will never be lost. Jesus visibly said only one Mass. He forgave only a few sins directly. But His priests fill the confessionals and the sanctuaries of the world with absolving and with consecrating hands.
(from Bread of Life, published by St. Benedict Center)
Dear Catholic Priests of America
Saint Benedict Center
23 Arrow Street
Dear Catholic Priests of America,
In the early years of the eighteenth century, there was in France a very holy and very much alone priest whose name was Louis-Marie de Montfort, Slave of Mary. His mission was to prepare the world for what he called the “Age of Mary,” and as he wandered through northern France, being silenced by this bishop and misunderstood by that one, he spoke constantly of that time when the Mother of God would shine forth in all her dogmatic challenge, and when those “Slaves of hers, the apostles of the latter times,” would secure the triumph of Mary over the army of Satan.
But there was no one to hear Louis-Marie, the priest from Montfort, and so he wrote all these things in a little book and called it True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And he died in 1716, with the vision still before him of those valiant slaves of Mary, of whom he had written in his book:
“They shall be little and poor in the world’s esteem, and abased before all, like the heel, trodden underfoot and persecuted as the heel is by the other members of the body.“They shall be like sharp arrows in the hand of the powerful Mary to pierce her enemies.
“They shall be true disciples of Jesus Christ, treading the narrow way of God in pure truth; sparing, fearing, and listening to no mortal, however influential he may be. … They shall carry on their shoulders the bloody standard of the Cross, the Crucifix in their right hand and the Rosary in their left, the sacred names of Jesus and Mary in their hearts.”
We write you all this, dear Catholic priests of America, because we have an American postscript to add to the story of Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort and his True Devotion. It goes this way.
At the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, three winters ago, an American boy named Eddie Cunningham knelt before a statue of Our Blessed Lady and gave himself to her for keeps. Never outdone in generosity, Our Lady promptly began to give things to Eddie. Within two weeks she had given him a brand new religious vow, under the patronage of Saint Louis-Marie; a new title, Slave of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and, under the leadership of Father Leonard Feeney, a share in a very old battle, that constant one for the preservation of the Faith.
Last month, after three years in the hassle, and after countless new gifts from his Queen, including her very name to add to his own, Edward Maria Cunningham charmed Our Blessed Lady into presenting him with that infinite gift, the Beatific Vision. When he died, with every sacramental comfort one could pray for, his last word was “Jesus,” his last gesture was the Sign of the Cross.
But this letter to you, dear fathers, is not intended as an obituary notice. It is, rather, a warning — a warning that Edward Maria is out to get you! In all the spirit of one of Saint Louis-Marie’s apostles of the latter times, “Sparing, fearing and listening to no mortal, … ” Edward Maria is launching a holy blitz to get you to tell America about the Catholic Faith, to get you off your Interfaith platforms and into the highways and the byways.
In three years time, Edward Maria had a chance to visit an awful lot of your parishes. From Maine to Maryland, from Boston to Chicago, in the Main Street shops and the factories and mills, he saw thousands of people whom you never see. He saw the Catholics who don’t have a son at Georgetown and who never read the diocesan newspaper. They liked what Edward Maria told them; that without Our Blessed Mother you can’t save your soul, that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation. For Edward Maria brought them an echo of the Faith they once heard from their parents.
Knowing that he wants all of you to talk the way he did, and knowing that Our Blessed Lady is not through answering his requests, we just had to warn you this month, Catholic priests of America, to watch out for Edward Maria, Slave of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Editors of The Point.