Dear Friends and Benefactors,
"Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever" (Heb. XIII, 8). At the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), a host of leading Catholic churchmen sought to bend Our Lord out of shape because they thought that His Church had become out-of-date. Let us for the beginning of this Lent meditate briefly upon the beginning of our Lord's Passion in the Garden of Gethsemane to see how closely the Gospel fits our own times.
Let us start with the background to Our Lord's Agony in the garden, which was his isolation from the mass of men. True, a few days before there were, on Palm Sunday, crowds of Israelites crying out "Hosanna, Hosanna to the son of David" in jubilation at the entry into the Holy City of the Rabbi of Nazareth who had been so good to many of them, but events one day after when many of the same Israelites would be crying out "Crucify him, crucify him", were going to show that this jubilation, like the weeping of the daughters of Jerusalem on the Way of the Cross, was mainly sentimental.
Among Western peoples at this turn from the 20th to the 21st centuries there are still the vestiges of a generalized good will towards the teacher Jesus and his Christianity in general, but that good will is largely sentimental and it is being fast eroded by the media, politicians and universities which are, by those peoples' fault, controlled by the successors of the "chief priests and ancients persuading the people to make Jesus away" (Mt. XXVII, 20). In reality, it is Our Lord who is solely responsible for the benefits of what is called "Western civilization", but the peoples are letting the media persuade them to the contrary, such that if things continue without interruption on their present course, it is merely a matter of time before the peoples will, following their democratic media, be baying for the blood of Christians: "It is all the Christians' fault! Away with them to detention camps! Death if necessary! We want Barabbas' New World Order!"
Our Lord was nevertheless accompanied by a handful of faithful friends into the Garden of Gethsemane, the twelve Apostles minus Judas. These Apostles had no idea what Judas was then doing to plot and contrive with the chief priests Our Lord's destruction, but of course every detail had been known to Our Lord by his divine omniscience from eternity. In fact without partaking in Judas' sin, Our Lord had sent him on his way to betray (Jn XIII, 27), because through that sin freely chosen by Judas, our Lord would work the Redemption of mankind.
A few years ago, Archbishop Lefebvre used to say that we have little idea of all that the Freemasons and their collaborators inside the Vatican are plotting and contriving in order to deliver the Catholic Church bound hand and foot into the power of Christ's enemies, but God has obviously known every detail from all eternity. If then He chooses to allow His enemies such a seeming triumph over Him as today's chaos in the Catholic Church, we can and must be sure that without in any way causing their sin, God is making use of it to bring about tomorrow some great good.
The Apostles in Gethsemane might have understood this if by prayer they had enlightened their minds to enter into the ways of God, which are not men's ways (Is. LV, 8,9). As it was, Peter and his fellow-Apostles were full of a confidence all too human (Mt. XXVI, 35), so that even when Our Lord urged them to watch and pray that they might not enter into temptation, the spirit indeed being willing but the flesh weak (Mt. XXVI, 41), still they did not keep awake, but nodded asleep, while Judas Iscariot was hard at work.
At Vatican II, the mass of the world's Catholic bishops cannot have been watching and praying in the sense here required by Our Lord, because they were caught asleep at the switch by the very active enemies of Our Lord, blue-printing the destruction of the Church by the votes of those bishops (see Fr. Ralph Wiltgen's "The Rhine flows into the Tiber"). Since that time Catholic Tradition has re-awoken, but it had better now watch and pray with its suffering Master if it is not to fall asleep again and get taken by surprise like the Apostles in Gethsemane.
Interesting question - supposing the Apostles had stayed awake to pray as Our Lord asked, what would or could they have done? Firstly, they would have given human consolation and support to the human heart of Our Lord in his hour of terrible agony. Then they would not have prevented Our Lord's capture, nor, enlightened by prayer, might they oven ha-re tried to do so, because how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled (Mt. XXVI, 54)? But they would not have shamefully fled, and even so they would not have been harmed themselves, because Our Lord guaranteed their safety (Jn. XVIII, 8,9).
Through the triple prayer of his Agony, Our Lord in his humanity, without human support, found in God the strength to go through with his Passion. When his enemies at last arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane, led by Judas betraying hire with a kiss, Our Lord far from reproaching him, appealed to him - "Friend, what have you come for?" This "Friend" is astonishing in the circumstances, but such is Our Lord, thinking only of souls and their salvation - Judas, think what you are doing, and repent, before you cast yourself into a terrible and eternal damnation!
In today's crisis of Church and world, our strength is in God alone, because humanly speaking we are powerless in the face of the trials confronting us. Our enemies are all-powerful, those inside the Church being much more dangerous than those outside. Just as the chief priests and ancients hated Jesus unto death, but they needed an Apostle to betray him, so we may blame Jews and Freemasons and others like them for engineering the destruction of the Church, but it has taken churchmen from within to do the actual betraying and destroying. Does Our Lord hate these traitors, as we can be sorely tempted to do? No, he seeks only their salvation, although their punishment will be horrible if they do not repent.
After being betrayed with a kiss in Gethsemane, Jesus calmly asked the Temple rabble whom they sought. "Jesus of Nazareth!" they cry out. "That is me", says Our Lord, but in such a way that they all crash to the ground (Jn XVII, 6)! Obviously it is Our Lord who is in control. But he wishes to suffer, so he smothers the power of his majesty and lets them arrest him - "This is your hour and the power of darkness" (Lk. XXII, 53). Obviously at any moment today the Lord God could stop the Church-wreckers dead in their tracks, but in March of 2000 it looks as though He is still choosing not to do so. Because God is holding back, the Devil has virtually a free rein and we are making the bitter experience of the power of darkness. But God's hour will come.
However Simon Peter could not wait. Single-handed with one sword he was ready to take on the whole Temple rabble that had come out to arrest Jesus. Virile and courageous, adoring Our Lord, he could not stand by inactive. He had to act! He slashes off an enemy ear, only to be told to sheath his sword by our Lord, who proceeds to look after the enemy! How many good men there are today who similarly cannot bear to stand by inactive, as it seems, and watch the rabble of mankind (us they can seem to us) tearing to pieces every last shred of truth and decency. Surely we can DO something! Surely we MUST do something! Let us slash the ears off a few Jews and Freemasons, etc.! But then we would find Our Lord only stooping over them to look after them! "You know not of what spirit you are" (Lk. IX, 55).
To Peter he gave three reasons why he wanted him to put away his sword (Mt XXVI, 52-54). Firstly, those who take the sword will perish by the sword. Secondly, if Our Lord wanted to defend himself by force, he could have 12 legions of angels at his side in a flash. Thirdly, if he was delivered from the hands of his enemies, how then would Scripture (e.g. Isaiah LIII, 10) be fulfilled? All three reasons bear closely on our situation today.
Firstly, if the friends of Our Lord make the cause of Our Lord into a trial of force, then as sheep amongst wolves (Mt X,16) they can easily be overwhelmed by force. We think of those well-intentioned souls in Waco, TX, who seven years ago took guns and perished by flame-throwers. Not that resorting to force is always wrong, but it will rarely win over men's hearts. If Our Lord's friends make him into the Knave of Clubs and sticks (Mt XXVI, 55), they will never make him what he wants to be, the King of Hearts. All hearts he will draw after him by being raised on the Cross (Jn 111, 14, 15). Even today when sin has gone so far that God may use the force of a Chastisement to set things straight, still we will see the Church revived by the free and not forced love of men for God. Noah was not forced to love God as he did, either before or after the Flood.
Secondly, in any trial of force between good and evil, the Creator could crush His creatures whenever He wished. A few mere legions of angels could do that. But, again, the Creator seeks conversions, not concussions! Supposing all today's corrupt churchmen were liquidated, would the Church's problems be solved? Of course not. So long as souls were not converted, other churchmen would merely take their place and become equally corrupt.
Thirdly, God decreed from eternity that his Son would die on the Cross to redeem mankind. This decree was progressively revealed to the Old Testament prophets, notably Isaiah, who consigned it to Scripture. There is no way in which such a prophecy can be not fulfilled. Similarly Scripture reveals that at the end of the world to which we are now winding down, the Catholic Church will be very small (Lk XVIII, 8) and fiercely persecuted by the Antichrist (Apoc. XIII,7). It may be mysterious that God should have decreed to allow this virtual disappearance of His Church, but there is no questioning the decree or its fulfillment. "Thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and rise again from the dead" (Lk XXIV, 46). The Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, must suffer in like fashion today, and while each of us must do his duty of state, none of us is going to change that decree.
But since Peter and his companions did not pray in the Garden when Our Lord told them to, they could not grasp what he was saying. Did he not want to defend himself? Did he not want them to defend him? Was he out of his mind? What kind of a Master was this? He had betrayed them! In the hour of Satan the Apostles' minds were overwhelmed by such thoughts of darkness, and as we say today, "they lost it". They fled, and abandoned Our Lord. If Catholics today attempt to grasp by any merely human measure this crisis of the Church, unique by its scale and depth in 2000 years of Church history, they risk being overwhelmed by darkness. As Archbishop Lefebvre repeatedly said, "What is happening is unimaginable, inconceivable". But it is here. And whereas the Apostles had only verbal warnings from Our Lord of his coming Passion, Catholics ever since have had the extraordinary events of that Passion to throw light upon the sufferings of Christ's Mystical Body, the Church.
Then let us this Lent meditate on Gethsemane (Mt.XXVI, 36-56; Mk.XIV, 32-52; Lk.XXII, 39-54; Jn.XVIII, 1-12) in order neither to rage uselessly at the enemies of Our Lord, nor join them, nor run away from his Church in its hour of need, but to stand by in prayer and if necessary in suffering, to await the hour appointed by God for the triumph of His cause.
I thank and bless all of you praying for my mother (Helen by name), but I have to warn you that she will not be easy to convert. Into God's hands...
With all good wishes and blessings, in Christ,
+ Richard Williamson