Dr. Mark Miravalle – Franciscan Thesis and the Test of the Angels

Dr. Mark Miravalle, one of my professors of Theology when I was an undergraduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, speaks of the moral test of the Angels. Why are there Holy Angels and fallen angels? What proved the good Angels to be “good” and the fallen angels to be “evil”? Why is there a spiritual war raging between Lucifer and St. Michael?

From beginning to end the Bible tells us that the battle has to do with the Woman and her Offspring (cf. Gen 3:15 and Apoc 12). The Evil One, “that great dragon…, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world… stood before the Woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her Son” (Apoc 12:7,4) – spiritual warfare is centered on the mystery of the Incarnation.

This is not a coincidence. According to the Franciscan school Satan (and a third of the angelic host with him) was condemned to Hell forever and lost his glorious light because he refused to serve Christ as King and Our Lady as Queen: non serviam! I even wonder if this is the reason that he goes after Eve, the first woman, instead of Adam in the garden of Eden… he either suspected her to be “the Woman” or despised her because she represented that Woman. Although I treat of this and draw upon the writings of Fr. Gabriel Amorth and the Ven. Mother Mary of Agreda here, here and here, nonetheless, the topic is always fresh and worthy of further meditation. I am posting a 10 minute presentation where Dr. Miravalle gives insights into Mary’s role as Queen of the Angels. After the introduction to the topic he speaks of the Franciscan thesis and how the Incarnation of Christ and the divine maternity of Mary were presented to the Angels, that it was revealed to them that they would have the joy and privilege of serving Christ as King and Mary as Queen if they accepted God’s marvelous plan. The Holy Angels are the ones who embraced the will of God and make up the nine choirs of Angels in Heaven. Here is Dr. Miravalle’s reflection:

Pope Benedict XVI – Monastic life and the absolute primacy of Christ

On November 20th, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the “absolute primacy” of Christ in his address to the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Besides his reference to the absolute primacy of Christ (clearly a reference to the Franciscan and Benedictine tradition of Christ’s primacy quite apart from any consideration of sin – Pope Benedict has spoken very highly of the Benedictine Abbot Rupert of Deutz and specifically underscores his Christology), note how this entire paragraph regarding religious life stands on its own quite apart from any mention of Christ’s redemptive work:

Christo omnino nihil praeponere [prefer nothing to Christ] (cf. Rule of Benedict 72, 11; Augustine, Enarr. in Ps 29: 9; Cyprian, Ad Fort 4). These words which the Rule of St Benedict takes from the previous tradition, clearly express the precious treasure of monastic life lived still today in both the Christian West and East. It is a pressing invitation to mould monastic life to the point of making it an evangelical memorial of the Church and, when it is authentically lived, “a reference point for all the baptized” (cf. John Paul II, Orientale lumen, n. 9). By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God’s glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final “revelation of the sons of God” (Rm 8: 19). When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ, on whom this Congregation’s Instruction Verbi Sponsa (13 May 1999) extensively reflected, monasticism can constitute for all the forms of religious life and consecrated life a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.

Pope Benedict XVI underscores a point that is central to the doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ, namely that the primary reason Christ came in the flesh, and the primary reason that the Angels and the elect exist, is for the glory of God – ad majorem gloriam Dei as St. Ignatius of Loyola puts it. The Incarnate Word gives the maximum glory to God in His Sacred Humanity; we are called to give glory to God per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, viz. through Him, with Him and in Him as we pray in the Sacred Liturgy. This is God’s plan, sin or no sin, and the Pope’s words ring true not only for monks and nuns, but for all the faithful: By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries [and by way of extension families, parishes, our souls, etc.] are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God’s glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final “revelation of the sons of God” (Rm 8: 19).

He mentions adoration and praise of the divine presence. Sin or no sin, we were created to adore and praise God. Our Lord Himself tells the Samaritan woman, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4: 23-24). Christ, then, who tells us that He is that truth (cf. Jn 14:6), is the Mediator, the High Priest, the one through whom we can adore the Living God. Christ exists for the glory of God; we also exist for the glory of God, but for us that glory is given to Christ and through Him to the entire Trinity. For this reason, as Pope Benedict XIV states, “a profound spousal union with Christ” reveals “what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before His love.”

According to Franciscan Christology these beautiful expressions would hold true even if Adam had not sinned – in other words, in a sinless world we would still be called to seek Christ and put nothing before His love and to give glory to God through, with and in Christ. Because of sin Christ comes in passible, mortal flesh and works out our Redemption on Calvary. The divine design is the same – man is called to glorify God and be one with Him through the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – but because of sin Christ had to suffer, die and rise from the dead to conquer sin, Satan and eternal death forever [for more on this topic, including diagrams and a video click here].

According to the Franciscan school God willed one economy of grace which He offers to Angels and the elect through Christ (gratia Christi) and not two economies, one for Angels and Adam and Eve before sin (gratia Dei) and another “better” economy for Adam and Eve and their progeny after sin (gratia Christi), a sort of “plan A”, but because of sin God gives an even better “plan B”. Bl. John Duns Scotus points out that “there could never be but one Head in the Church from which there is derived the influx of graces upon the members.” (Ordinatio, III, d.13, q.4, n.8.).  So Jesus is the Head (Col. 1:18); in Him dwells the fullness of Divinity corporally (2:9); from Him, as the Head, the whole body is supplied and built up (2:19). That is God’s eternal decree, sin or no sin.

The primacy of Christ and scandal

St. Peter Damian

“Truly, this vice [of homosexuality] is never to be compared with any other vice because it surpasses the enormity of all vices.… It defiles everything, stains everything, pollutes everything. And as for itself, it permits nothing pure, nothing clean, nothing other than filth.…”  St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church

It has been a sad week for the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the United States, and the reports of scandals among the priests, even Bishops… even Cardinals – ex-Cardinal Mccarrick (now more accurately known as Uncle Ted) and Cardinal Wuerl’s negligences which will probably be exposed by the PA Grand Jury in the weeks to come, have reached the ears even of this hermit. The scandals are part of the ongoing spiritual and moral crisis both in our society and within the Church.

Personal encounters with scandal

I saw that some priests, like Fr. Desmond Rossi (see here), Fr. Roman Manchester (see here), former priest Peter Mitchell (see here), former seminarians John Monaco (see here), John DeFilippis (see here), and an anonymous H.R. (see here) have gone public with the gay culture they encountered as seminarians, and even Michael Voris has shared how he was harassed by a priest (Fr. Richard McBrien?) at Notre Dame (see here). I too experienced being groomed by a Jesuit priest during high school. Fortunately no crime or sin was committed, but the diabolical disorder and seductive methods of these homosexual priests is frightening and deserves to be exposed. As St. Maximus the Confessor once wrote, “He who puts on a show of friendship in order to do his neighbor some injury is a wolf hiding his wickedness under sheep’s clothing” (Ad Thalassium, 25). So let me describe exactly what happened to me…

Fr. Joseph Casey, SJ

It was 1984. I was 15 or 16 years old and a sophomore at Brebeuf Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN, which was run by the Jesuits. I don’t remember the circumstances, but one day a priest, Fr. Joseph Casey, SJ, (who happened to be the President of the school) said hello to me and invited me to stop by his office sometime. He didn’t mingle with the students much because he was usually in his office, so the encounter was strange to begin with. I was a straight A student at the time and so, being asked by a priest and the President of the school to come by his office, I felt it was my duty to stop by. I did. I had no idea why he wanted to see me, but I expected it to be like my other encounters with the faculty – academic or business oriented. Well, he told me that he had seen me at the school dance and that I was a very good dancer. I had the bizarre feeling that this priest was stalking me.

I was on the swim team at that time. One afternoon we had a swim meet and as we were piling onto the bus there was Fr. Casey. Apparently he was coming to cheer us on. Really, no one came to our swim meets and certainly no one traveled on the bus with the team, so this was quite unusual. It never occurred to me during the swim meet that he was coming to watch me – like he had done at the school dance – only now with nothing but a Speedo swimsuit on. After the swim meet we all piled back onto the bus. Fr. Casey got on the bus and made it a point to sit next to me – I was basically trapped between him and the window. It was very dark and the windows were all steamy because it was so cold outside. I put my knees up against the back of the seat in front of me and tried to get some rest because I was exhausted. Fr. Casey never said anything or did anything, but I felt awkward and tense for the entire bus ride… Fortunately my tale ends here. Nothing happened. I never went to his office again and he never reappeared in my life. But when I look back, especially in light of all that has come to the fore in the last 20 years, it makes me tremble. I was so, so vulnerable at that time. Besides being a teenager, my parents had just divorced. It would have been devastating for me if anything had happened.

Brebeuf, as it turns out, has always been notorious for abuse. The Dean of Students in the 1970’s, Fr. James Grear, molested boys (see here); in my freshman year in 1984 I remember Michelle, a cheerleader, telling us that the computer teacher, James West, had taken her into his office and offered her an “A” if she would let him spank her; a credible accusation was made against Fr. Bernard Knoth, SJ, for sexually abusing a student in 1986 (see here) when Knoth was Principal of the school; Rick Doucette, a religion teacher (full blown heresy, by the way) and wrestling coach, would frequently take the wrestlers and other boys to hotels for overnights and even “chaperoned” a trip to Italy – he was released from Brebeuf and later caught red handed molesting a minor twice as soccer coach (see here). [N.B. during all 4 years that I was at Brebeuf (1983-87) the Principal, President and only male religion teacher were all homosexuals and all secretly preying on male students]

After my own conversion to Christ and His Church in 1988 (before I knew about his misbehavior), I met with Fr. Bernard Knoth, SJ, twice as I myself had started discerning the priesthood. In my first meeting with him he confided to me how, as a Jesuit seminarian, he had been raped by another seminarian. In my second meeting with him he told me that the Eucharist was not the Real Presence and that Confession was just a psychological phenomenon – in other words, he had lost his faith but continued to “function” as a Jesuit priest. My heart goes out to him and many others who, through being molested, lost their faith and went on to hurt others. Pray we must, for both victim and perpetrator.

As if this wasn’t enough, my spiritual director who helped me discern the Franciscans informed me in 1997 that his Bishop threatened to suspend him as a priest if he would not perform homosexual acts with him. My director refused and was indeed suspended as a priest. It turns out that the Bishop had also been going on a regular basis to the red light district and hiring men and woman prostitutes. They called him “the Bish” and knew that they would get wined and dined like kings or queens before the dirty work would begin. My director, after getting nowhere with Rome, went public (anonymously) with The Wanderer around that time of 1997-1998 and finally Bishop Daniel Ryan resigned in late 1999 (see here).

I could go on (just with examples I have come to know about personally, let alone what’s hitting the news and what you can find in books like Goodbye, Good Men), but it would be pointless.

A particular problem: Sodomy

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

As noted, the problem is a spiritual and moral crisis in the world and in the Church. But most of the priest scandals in the Church are specifically related to the sin of sodomy (see Fr. Regis Scanlon’s article which calls a spade a spade). While this sin is nothing new (think of Sodom and Gomorrah), we are living in a society that is telling us on all sides that homosexuality and gender-confusion is not a disorder, but just part of an enlightening evolutionary process and that everyone needs to be open minded to where that process is leading us.

The fact is that pedophiles are sodomites whose disordered passions lead them to seep down into lower age brackets. In the world it is legal for a young man to look at internet pornography, but not child pornography. Well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that as long as there is no restraint in looking at pornography there will continue to be a market for child pornography. Similarly, as long as homosexual priests are not disciplined (like Fr. Fred Daley who for 14 years now has been publicly professing himself to be a gay priest) there will continue to be those who prey on children (not to mention teenagers and seminarians). Enough is enough! If a priest does not accept the perennial teaching of the Scripture and the Church he should be shown the door; and if he does not live that teaching he should be disciplined; and “pink” seminaries should be shut down. Otherwise the accusations and lawsuits will continue to plague the Church and her credibility will continue to crumble.

The solution: Jesus Christ

One of the beauties of the doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ is that He became flesh to glorify the Father in the most perfect way possible in a created universe. “And where sin abounded, grace did more abound” (Rm 5:20)… in other words, nothing will eclipse the perfect glory given to God in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Christ invites us to be forgiven and freed from our sins and to glorify God through, with and in Him. But even if nobody were to accept His invitation, perfect glory would still be given to God in His Sacred Humanity. Sin never has the upper hand in God’s plans; sin never has the last word.

Christ does not need us; we need Him. Will we follow Him? Will we take up our Cross and be His disciples? Will we be pure of heart so that we can see God? The merciful invitation to repent and believe remains. And whether individuals (including clerics) respond to that invitation or not, He will nonetheless come in glory to judge the living and the dead. Then He will submit all to His Father for His eternal glory: “And when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be made subject to Him who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).