The following reflection, dated 22 November, 2020, is taken from the website of the Archdiocese of Glasgow – editorial comment added…
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia
In a far-reaching reflection this week, Archbishop Philip considers the new pandemic restrictions, our duty to live with charity and solidarity during this period, and our final judgement by Christ the King: “Two things make me hopeful for our eternal destiny … I have never met anyone without a scrap of love and charity in their heart.
Editor: allow me to introduce myself…
Secondly, the Church has never said that any individual person is in hell.
Editor: allow me to introduce you to Saint Jacinta – one of the Fatima seers, solemnly canonized by Pope Francis at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, in Portugal on 13 May 2017. After the vision of Hell, when the seers saw the souls (plural) of those suffering there, Jacinta was so desperate to help poor sinners avoid Hell that she made many sacrifices. Read all about Fatima here – you really need to know about it, if you want to make sense of what is happening in the world today. Oh, and to know that there ARE souls in Hell. Lots, sadly, of individuals. Our Lord told us that, even before Saint Jacinta… Don’t you remember? He mentioned “the furnace of fire” where there would be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:5). Don’t you remember? And it is the tradition of the Church, the teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, that Judas Iscariot is in Hell. I’m not sure that we’ve ever covered this in our newsletter, so watch out for our January 2021 edition – we’ll find a spot for it there. Interesting, isn’t it, that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church agree unanimously that there is, at least, one bishop in Hell… Er, moving on…
Jesus is the one who has the authority and the power to look into our souls and find there the love that will permit us to enter eternal life.
Editor: allow me to introduce you to Our Lord’s definition of “love” – He told us that if we love Him, we will keep His Commandments and voila! Then we will be admitted to eternal life. It’s a tad misleading to speak of Jesus finding “love” in our souls when the word is so misused and abused these days. Don’t you have a duty to make sure that those hearing and reading your words understand the nature of the love required to achieve eternal happiness? “Love” (in the sense of the pop song) is NOT “all you need”.
“Jesus is the one who, despite our sins and frailties, has the authority to validate our existence and our activity forever. Jesus, the Universal Judge, in calling us to unselfish charity, is the one who scrutinises our souls for the spark of divine love that will permit us to live forever with the saints in heaven.
Editor: allow me to introduce you to my previous response. Except I need to mention “validate our existence and our activity forever” – if this is the latest way of describing The Judgment, I’d say ditch it. The Four Last Things is much easier to understand: Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell. Nobody needs to run for a dictionary.
“Covid-19 is a particularly nasty virus, and we do not want people to become ill or die. Practical charity in this pandemic may just be that spark of divine love in us that the Lord will look for.”
Editor: allow me to introduce you to St Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the many great Christian souls who longed for death: “During this prayer, I would begin thinking that the day of rest was coming to an end, that the morrow would bring with it the necessity of beginning life over again, we would have to go back to work, learning lessons, etc., and my heart felt the exile of this earth. I longed for the everlasting repose of heaven, that never-ending Sunday of the Fatherland!” Indeed, can you believe this, Archbishop, we’re all going to die of something, some day. And horrible as this virus is (you are right about that – well, even a broken clock is right twice a day 😀 ) some deaths may be much worse.
Full text follows:
And then there were 20 … It seems like a huge joke on the Church to proclaim Jesus Christ as King, while being under such severe restrictions that only 20 people at a time are allowed to come together in Church for Mass to celebrate this great feast. I never imagined for a second that I would mark my fifteenth anniversary as a bishop under these circumstances.
Editor: well, this is one “joke” that’s not leaving any of the faithful amused. Not one little bit. I’ve yet to meet any Catholic anywhere in Scotland who finds this situation remotely funny. I take your point, however, and it is true that we find it disgusting that the bishops would preach Christ is King while effectively handing His crown to Nicola Sturgeon. An uncharitable soul might accuse the hierarchy itself of being “a huge joke”. So, your point is not without merit.
I consoled myself by remembering the crucifixion of Jesus when the soldiers mocked him. “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
Editor: well, don’t console yourself. What you ought to be remembering is the fate awaiting false shepherds, because Scripture reveals that Christ warned against false teachers more than He preached about love or any other desirable quality. To teach that the Government’s authority is greater than that which Christ the King bequeathed to His Church, is not something which should console you – it should worry you, dare I say it, to death…
When we proclaim Christ as King, we need to recognise that He is a King who reigns from the Cross, and, from the Cross he is the King who can promise paradise. To one who was crucified with him, you remember, and who recognised Jesus’ innocence, Jesus promised, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus is King because, through his Cross and Resurrection, he is the Saviour who has won for us the crown of eternal life.
Editor: the “Good Thief” was promised Paradise despite his sins and crimes; but why? Because he confessed his sinfulness, unlike the other thief who doggedly taunted Our Lord and refused to accept his own sinfulness before God. We’re still waiting for that “Good Thief” confession from any of our Bishops; nothing, so far. All we are hearing is that you’re all doing your bit to “save lives” and “protect the NHS”. No repentance for designating God as non-essential in a public health “crisis”.
Jesus is the King who reigns from the Cross, and those who belong to his kingdom are called to carry their Cross and follow him to the glory of the Resurrection. Because of this pandemic, we are once again suffering even more severe restrictions to our freedom to come to church to worship God. Part of our suffering is the fact that it is not particularly clear why 50 had to drop to 20 in the Tier 4 regulations. It could, however, be worse. In England, Ireland and France, all churches are just closed full stop. We do not want that to happen, so we will bear this cross with dignity, patience and forbearance, hoping that the Tier 4 restrictions are lifted on 11th December as has been promised.
Editor: this is not a “cross” – this is a dereliction of duty. A cross of suffering we must accept with peaceful resignation. Episcopal and priestly neglect we rightly abhor. It is a scandal which we are duty bound to publicly correct. God is never “non-essential” especially at a time when we are being frog-marched into totalitarian governance.
If you are frustrated by the Tier 4 restrictions on your personal freedoms, let me point you to today’s Gospel. Jesus is King also because he is the universal judge of every human being, with the authority to admit to eternal life or to condemn to the eternal fire.
Editor: that is a non-sequitur. There is no connection between my loss of my personal freedom, for which the hierarchy (and each individual member of it) is largely to blame, because the Governments of the UK could never have imposed these restrictions on our religious liberty without the co-operation of the hierarchy, so, to recap, there is no connection between the loss of my personal freedom and the authority of Christ to Judge us in eternity. Unless, that is, you are saying that those politicians responsible for removing our personal (and religious) freedoms are going to face a very severe judgment. Is that what you mean? If so, you have a duty to warn them very publicly and very clearly, not hide your warning behind a vague, generalised statement.
In this scenario of the last judgment, the measure Jesus will use for his judgment is love and practical charity. Here are his words: “I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, sick and imprisoned and you visited me, a stranger and you made me welcome. When you did this to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
Editor: another non-sequitur. What do those [beautiful] words of Our Lord have to do with your insistence on obeying a wholly secular and heavily Marxist-leaning Government which is responsible for the introduction of evil laws to destroy the family and legitimise (and promote) sexual immorality, a Government which is planning further evil through its shocking Hate Crime Bill and which is now wielding authority over the Church? We’re definitely in waffle territory here.
We are told that we are under Tier 4 restrictions because the rate of Covid-19 infection in Glasgow and the West of Scotland remains, in the First Minister’s words, “stubbornly high”. At the beginning of this pandemic, we were all in it together and it was easier to accept lockdown. Now we are not. In some parts of Scotland, people are shopping normally, going to pubs and restaurants freely until fairly late in the evening, and socialising with each other more than we are.
Editor: it’s very interesting – and telling – that you found the first lockdown “easier” to accept, and that you quote the ridiculous slogan “we’re all in this together” which, is balderdash. The fact that the churches were closed meant that no Catholic found the first lockdown remotely easy. We found it painful and doubly so because you, our bishops were happily going along with the Government’s authoritarian rule. We can’t even accuse the politicians of a coup d’état because the bishops were happy to co-operate and hand over their authority to the Government. I find it very interesting that, for all the quotes from Scripture relating to Judgment, you do not seem to apply any of them to yourselves. Your confidence in “love” being the passport into Heaven is troubling. When Christ pointed out that that the infamous sinner, the woman who anointed his feet with oil would be forgiven her many sins “because she hath loved much”, she had first washed his feet with her tears of repentance. This was no superficial or emotional love – it was the kind of love required of us all, the love that takes us to the confessional box. (Luke 7:37-48). It is misleading for priests and bishops to speak of “love” as if it pleases God and brings us to salvation, without repentance of our sins.
Part of this disparity is that in four Catholic dioceses, 50 people can be at Mass; and in the other four (which contain the vast majority of the Catholic community of Scotland), only 20 people can be at Mass. If this makes you frustrated or angry or feel a sense of unfairness, just try to bear it as our commitment to practical charity and to the love of our neighbour, so that infection rates will come down, and we will all be able to enjoy more personal freedoms at the end of this period of Tier 4 restrictions.
Editor: there are just no words in any dictionary to describe the frustration and anger (to use your words) felt by Catholics shocked by your subservience to the Government throughout this period. To speak of “practical charity” and the “love of neighbour” as being the correct response to the limitations set on numbers of faithful who may attend Mass simply beggars belief. Charity and Justice must first be offered to God. Of course, since the introduction of the new Mass, the emphasis has been on the people, the “community”, making the Mass more enjoyable, fun even, for them but – of course – that is the wrong way round. Charity is first and foremost, the love of God. Our concern for justice, too, must first be directed to Justice for God to Whom we owe true worship. The Ten Commandments are more important than any Coronavirus restriction. Thankfully, there ARE some (not many) priests who are defying Government rules – I’ve just been reading about a priest in Ireland who has re-opened his church despite his bishop cowering behind the propaganda about the need to “suppress the virus” – such idiocy! This priest reveals more insight than any bishop into the reality of what is going on when he says: “There is a suspicion that they want to stop people believing in God … to stop people practising their faith.” Got it in one. In Scotland – and indeed across the UK – the bishops, complicit with the Government, are succeeding in doing this, whether deliberately or unwittingly, where the Protestant Reformers of the 16 century failed.
More than that – much more than that – Jesus the Universal King will judge us at the end on our love and charity.
Editor: to quote Groucho Marx, if I’ve told you this before, don’t stop me, I want to hear it again… (I repeat): we will be judged on the kind of love which leads us to obey the Commandments: “If you love Me, you will keep my Commandments” (John 14:21-24 ).
Two things make me hopeful for our eternal destiny … I have never met anyone without a scrap of love and charity in their heart. Secondly, the Church has never said that any individual person is in hell. Jesus is the one who has the authority and the power to look into our souls and find there the love that will permit us to enter eternal life.
Editor: again, in the spirit of Groucho Marx, allow me to repeat myself by introducing you to Saint Jacinta – one of the Fatima seers, solemnly canonized by Pope Francis at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, in Portugal on 13 May 2017. After the vision of Hell, when the seers saw the souls (plural) of those suffering there, Jacinta was so desperate to help poor sinners avoid Hell that she made many sacrifices. Read all about Fatima here – you really need to know about it, if you want to make sense of what is happening in the world today. Oh, and to know that there ARE souls in Hell. Lots, sadly, of individuals. Our Lord told us that, even before Saint Jacinta… Don’t you remember? He mentioned “the furnace of fire” where there would be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:5). Don’t you remember? And it is the tradition of the Church, the teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, that Judas Iscariot is in Hell. I’m not sure that we’ve ever covered this in our newsletter, so watch out for our January 2021 edition – we’ll find a spot for it there. Interesting, isn’t it, that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church agree unanimously that there is, at least, one bishop in Hell… Er, moving on…
Jesus is the one who, despite our sins and frailties, has the authority to validate our existence and our activity forever. Jesus, the Universal Judge, in calling us to unselfish charity, is the one who scrutinises our souls for the spark of divine love that will permit us to live forever with the saints in heaven.
Editor: once more, in the spirit of Groucho Marx, allow me to repeat myself. If by “validate our existence and our activity forever” you mean The Judgment, I’d say ditch it. The Four Last Things is much easier to understand: Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell. Nobody needs to run for a dictionary.
Covid-19 is a particularly nasty virus, and we do not want people to become ill or die. Practical charity in this pandemic may just be that spark of divine love in us that the Lord will look for.
Editor: the problem with all this talk of “practical charity” is that the Government tells us to stay away from people. I’m surprised that the bishops haven’t picked up on that in their anxiety to obey Mz Sturgeon & Company. There’s not a lot of “practical charity” any of us can legitimately do when we are supposed to be wearing masks (which discriminates against the hard of hearing who struggle to understand what is being said behind the muzzles) and when we must keep a distance of six feet or whatever it is now from others – I no longer keep up with these crackpot rules. I’ve worked it out that God has given me a mind of my own for a reason. So, really, with all due respect, we don’t need exhortations from our bishops to “practical charity” or patience in carrying this “cross”; we need to see some backbone, some pushback, some practical charity towards God by a declaration that “enough is enough”. The virus has been used by Government to introduce totalitarian governance by stealth, using the fear of infection and death to control us.
Shame on you, Archbishop Tartaglia, and your brother bishops for allowing yourselves to be complicit in this spread of Communism, which was foretold at Fatima. You must seek to make amends urgently, and where better to begin – after opening your churches, refusing to pay fines and accept prison if necessary – than by asking the Pope to arrange for the Consecration of Russia to be carried out in the manner prescribed by Our Lady at Fatima. When she spoke to the Fatima seer, Sr Lucia, Our Lady requested that the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world, consecrate Russia, the first ever nation to publicly deny the very existence of God in its governance, the first ever Communist country, to her Immaculate Heart. Only when this is done, will peace and order be restored in both the world and the Church.
This public giving back to God of Russia, this Consecration must be done by the Pope and the bishops of the world at the same time. A short prayer of Consecration, as requested by God through His mother at Fatima, would see off the fear of this virus (which is not at all the deadly threat which the schemers claim) and we would enjoy the promised period of world peace. To date, we are seeing a purely worldly response to a contrived public health crisis, absent any spiritual, religious or moral leadership from the hierarchies around the world. There’s plenty of talk of “judgment” in the above reflection but it is all askew – it is clear evidence of the lack of any Catholic sense.
At Catholic Truth, Archbishop, we are praying for you and for your brother bishops in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. But what we cannot do, is defend your negligence and your worldly complicity with the politicians who are brazenly changing the way we are governed in order to remove our personal and religious freedoms. Of this you must repent, as a matter of the utmost urgency, in the knowledge that judgment for any of us can come at any minute, day or night. You may take refuge in the Woody Allen philosophy: “It’s not that I’m afraid of death, I just don’t want to BE there when it happens!” Well, Archbishop, Breaking News, you WILL be there.
St Joseph, patron of a happy death, pray for us. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
To read Archbishop Tartaglia’s Reflection on Covid restrictions and salvation, click on Source