An Imaginary Letter from Saint Faustina to Pope Francis

Divine MercyDear Holy Father,

Praised be Jesus Christ!  All glory to the Most Holy Trinity on this Divine Mercy Sunday!  Adoration to the Father of mercies, His adorable Son, and the sanctifying Spirit of Truth!  May eternal hymns of thanksgiving and honor be offered to the God who has rescued humanity from it’s tragic fall, sending His Son to teach, suffer, die, and rise again, that the chambers of limbo may be emptied and the halls of heaven filled with the just.

Holy Father, you who hold the keys of Saint Peter and the power of binding and losing on earth and in heaven, who govern here below the kingdom of Christ our divine Savior, I write to you with the profoundest love and respect during this glorious season of victory over sin, death, and all the wicked powers of the fallen spirits – those cunning deceivers who strive to draw to the eternal pits of hell frail and tepid souls.

I have heard with the deepest sadness of the confusion and division that presently afflict the Church of Christ, and that you presently find yourself at the center of this chaos.  How audacious is that lying murderous serpent to dare to approach the See of Peter, as if to proclaim his morbid errors from the very heart of Mother Church.  As we know, all confusion that denies or obscures the doctrines and morals of the Church, that misleads well-meaning but simple souls, so that those who seek the saving Truth are unable to find it, or to discern the hard and narrow way of salvation from the broad and easy path of eternal perdition – all such confusion is the work of that pernicious preternatural tempter, Satan, the ancient serpent whose sole objective is to deprive, once and for all, God Almighty of His precious children.

I know you are aware of the divine inspirations I have received; even more, of the blessed promises our Most Merciful Lord delivered through his humble handmaid, requesting that I serve as His unworthy apostle and secretary of mercy.  Yet, throughout these visions of hope and trust, Our Lord revealed to me as well many warnings of a horrible nature, scenes and proclamations of perpetual agony for unrepentant sinners.  And I suspect, Holy Father, that such visions were revealed to me precisely for times such as these.

Therefore, I lovingly offer to you – no, Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe, declares to you – the truth about these matters, so that you may recognize the signs of the times and urgently bring a resolution to the confusion and division that daily harass the Holy Roman and Catholic Church.  For, although we have been promised that the powers of hell will never prevail against the Church of the Living God, still, this same promise has been tried as never before, so that many of the sincerest faithful, loving Christ’s Kingdom with all their hearts, are presently suffering trials of a purely spiritual type, such as would have caused the martyrs of ancient centuries to tremble.   For even in the worst of times, the faithful were always certain that their proverbial houses were built on the firmest rock of divine revelation, rather than the shifting sands of human caprice.  Hence, this scandalous mayhem must not be allowed to continue, for the salvation of countless souls is at risk, including the salvation of those shepherds whose solemn duty it is to lead Christ’s flock into the rich pastures of eternal truth – the same truth once delivered for all time by the supreme Good Shepherd, Christ Our Lord.

Holy Father, the following excerpts are taken directly from my Diary.  They are a small selection of the passages that concern the existence of hell, its eternity, and the never-ending conditions of the many wretched souls who have merited to enter its firy caverns.  Of course, all such private revelations can add nothing to that sublime deposit of faith delivered by Christ to the Apostles, and carried through the centuries on the Divine Spirit’s wings of Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition.  They simply emphasize that which Holy Mother Church has always, everywhere, and to everyone, proclaimed for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

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153:  One day, I saw two roads.  One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music, and all sorts of pleasures.  People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves.  They reached the end without realizing it.  And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell.  The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell.  And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them.  And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them.  Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on.  At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness, and all these souls entered there.  At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings.

965:  Jesus looked at me and said, Souls perish in spite of my bitter Passion.  I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy.  If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity.  Secretary of My mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.

1728:  Write: I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin.  I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it.  My mercy embraces and justifies it.  With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths, and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me.  I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return.

Tell sinners that no one shall escape My hand, if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands.  Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart…when will it be for Me?  Write, that I am speaking to them through their remorse of conscience, through their failures and sufferings, through thunderstorms, through the voice of the Church.  And if they bring all my graces to naught, I begin to be angry with them, leaving them alone and giving them what they want.

741:  Today, I was led by an angel to the chasms of hell.  It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is!  The kinds of torture I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one’s condition will never change; the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it- a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger; the fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.  These are the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings.  There are special tortures destined for particular souls.  These are the torments of the senses.  Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned.  There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another.  I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.  Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin.  I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like. 

I, Sister Faustina, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I may tell souls about it and testify to its existence.  I cannot speak about it now, but I have received a command from God to leave it in writing.  The devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God.  What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw.  But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those that disbelieved that there is a hell.  When I came to, I could hardly recover from the fright.  How terribly souls suffer there!

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Holy Father, I ask that you would reflect especially on this last vision.  The denial of hell, its eternity, and the truth that both angelic and human beings will be punished there forever – such a denial is a pernicious heresy that itself can bear eternal loss, as I painfully recounted in the above Diary passages.

I must emphasize the most outstanding warnings to all preachers and teachers of the faith, especially those who mistakenly believe that, if only they speak no longer about a particular doctrine, the reality on which that doctrine is based will cease to be real.  No, it is impossible for the creature to alter in any way the truths established by the Creator.  Nor did Christ reveal His Holy Gospel so that sinners could whimsically select from it only what they liked, or only what was popular among the lukewarm masses, and omit the rest.  God forbid!  Even a claim of ignorance of hell will provide no protection from it.  To the contrary:

” I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like.” 

“But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those that disbelieved that there is a hell.”

In closing, Holy Father, if you would pardon my boldness in offering you one small piece of advice.  For the good of the Church, scrap the Scalfari interviews.  Have nothing to do with that proud heathen, whose “reconstructions” of papal interviews are only calculated efforts to place heresy on your lips, for the purposes of confusing and dividing the faithful and emboldening the many heretics in the Church who have long been betraying the True Faith by spewing such lies.  After all, that mischievous atheist to whom you have revealed your heart is not so deeply moved by your accompanying him in his unbelief as to actually become a believer himself.  On the contrary, he has only devised a means of hijacking the sublime Petrine Ministry in order to promote his own unbelief.  And you, apparently, have either overlooked this strategy, or else – Lord have mercy on us all – are pleased to see the denials of defined Catholic teaching seemingly acquire a dignity and status, such as only your lofty office could render.  No, Holy Father, I tremble at such a thought, at so malevolent a suggestion.  I cannot believe it.  Yet, I cannot deny that such has been the inevitable effect of these miserable interviews, and such will be the predictable effect of any future encounters with this vandal.

Praised be Jesus Christ!  I pray that you will kindly receive this letter from your servant, and recognize in it nothing other than the purest love for Our Lord, love for His Bride, and love for you, as you carry out your difficult ministry on behalf of all the Christian faithful of every continent and condition.  May the risen Lord guide and strengthen you, and one day find abundant reasons to reward you with the happy and beautiful vision of His Glorious Face!

 

Your Servant in Jesus Christ,

Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska
Jesus, I trust in Thee

[Please note, this is an entirely imaginary letter of my own making.  But the remarkable excerpts from St. Faustina’s Diary are real and accurate.]

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“Amoris Laetitia” and the Revealed Nature of Christianity

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The confusion over Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) continues to worsen, and the criticism of it by both bishops and scholars is daily growing more pointed and precise. From its first appearance in March of 2016, many Catholics found this document, especially its eighth chapter, to contain statements and principles that either subtly or blatantly contradict Catholic teaching on marriage, sexuality, and the sacraments.  More recently, four cardinals – Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Leo Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner – addressed a private letter to the pope, asking for clarifications on five key points of confusion.  After receiving no response for two months, the cardinals decided to release their letter to the public.  From this release, the four cardinals have been openly criticized and maligned by many in the Church, especially those sympathetic to the liberal perspectives of Pope Francis.  Yet, there is also growing support for the four cardinals and the questions and objections posed in their letter.  For example, an international group of twenty-three scholars recently published the following statement:

“As Catholic scholars and pastors of souls, we wish to express our profound gratitude and full support for the courageous initiative of four members of the College of Cardinals, Their Eminences Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Leo Burke, Carlo Caffarra and Joachim Meisner.”

In addition, two more scholars have published a statement entitled, The Misuse of Amoris Laetitia To Support Errors against the Catholic Faith, explaining how many passages in the pope’s document may be easily used to directly contradict Catholic teaching. Finally, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in a talk given at the Laponto Foundation in Rome, has been especially blunt in his criticisms of Amoris Laetitia.  He said,

“An ecclesiastical authority that issues norms or pastoral guidance that provides for such admission, arrogates to itself a right that God has not given it. A pastoral accompaniment and discernment that does not communicate to the adulterous person, the so-called divorced and remarried, the divinely-established obligation to live in continence as a sine qua non condition for admission to the sacraments, exposes itself in reality as an arrogant clericalism, as there does not exist any clericalism so pharisaical as that which arrogates to itself rights reserved to God.”

Finally, previous to the release of the document, and after reviewing its contents, as many as thirty cardinals had warned the pope that Amoris Laetitia would only weaken marriage, but the pope chose not to listen.

To state the obvious, the ideas proposed in Amoris Laetitia amount to changes in Catholic teaching and practice, especially regarding the reception of Holy Communion by those living in “second” marriages.  Catholic doctrine, in accord with Holy Scripture, clearly teaches that civil divorce cannot break a sacramental marriage, so that those Catholics who divorce and enter into a second “marriage” are actually living in a state of adultery, since they remain married to their first partner while they live and have sexual relations with their second partner, to whom they are not actually married.   And to be clear, this document proposes that such adulterous couples who continue to have sexual relations may, in certain cases, receive Holy Communion.

To use the popular accusations and judgements of the day: Are these notions of marital and sexual morality only pharisaical rigidity? Are they indications that one is seeing only in black and white?  Are they the merciless precepts of nostalgic fundamentalist ideologues?  Absolutely not!  The issues involved in the Amoris debate concern fidelity or infidelity to the moral teachings of Jesus Christ.  There is no other way to say it.

Speaking through the prophet Malchi, God revealed the divine perspective on divorce:

“…You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor at your hand. You ask, ‘Why does he not?’  Because the Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.  Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life?  And what does he desire?  Godly offspring.  So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth.  For I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel…” (Mal. 2:13-16).

While debating with the Pharisees on the subject, Jesus said,

“For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Mt. 19:8-9).

From the beginning, it was God’s intention that man and woman should marry and remain faithful to each other for life.  Divorce, therefore, clearly contradicted the divine will, but under the Old Covenant and through Moses, it was tolerated due to the hardness of human hearts.  With the establishment of the New Testament in Christ, however, the original will of God was re-established.  Divorce was forbidden, but if a couple should divorce, at the very least they could not attempt to marry again as long as their spouses were still living.  For since divorce cannot break the marital bond, but only death can, attempting to enter into a second marriage would constitute adultery – that is, living and having relations with one partner, while still being married to another.

Notice that, in the controversy between Jesus and the Pharisees, the Pharisees argue on behalf of divorce and remarriage, while Jesus forbids them. In other words, Phariseeism in this case entails the toleration of divorce and remarriage – and thus, adultery – rather than the condemnation of them – quite contrary to the way the charge of Phariseeism is carelessly thrown around these days.  In this case, Jesus is clearly the “doctor of the law” type, the uncompromising teacher of black and white morals, rather than the halting moralist whose mercy is seen in his laxity.

The Catechism teaches the following on this subject:

“In his preaching, Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning: permission given by Moses to divorce one’s wife was a concession to the hardness of hearts. The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it: ‘what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder’” (CCC 1614).

“The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the Old Law” (CCC 2382).

In light of these passages from the Bible and the Catechism, it is clear that divorce and “remarriage” amount to the mortal sin of adultery.  Man cannot make right that which God has declared to be wrong.  To do so is to indulge in a moral authority that he does not possess.

Christ foresaw all the difficulties that would follow from His teaching about divorce, all the hardships that married couples would face, including the pains of “failed” marriages and the loneliness that follows them.  Nervertheless, He declared these moral truths, and it is the responsibility of the Church to proclaim them and of Catholic couples to live them.  By divine grace, all things are possible, including the humanly impossible.

Parallel to the teaching of Christ on divorce is another remarkable warning: “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you” (Mt. 7:6).

The so-called “dogs” and “swine” in this passage refer to the Gentiles in general, or more specifically, to sinners who reject the ways of the one true God.  In other words, that which is holy is not to be given to those who are morally unfit to receive it or to appreciate it, for such would be a sacrilege.  And sacrilege neither pleases God nor helps the sinner or the unbeliever.

Saint Paul took these principles a step further and made a defined connection between the issues of sin and that which is supremely holy; namely, Holy Communion.  He wrote,

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.  Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor. 11:27-29).

This last excerpt provides the biblical basis for Catholic teaching.  Any person guilty of a mortal sin must first be reconciled with God in the sacrament of Penance.  Only after repenting of and confessing the sin may he or she receive Holy Communion.  To receive our Eucharistic Lord while in a state of mortal guilt is to commit an additional grave sin of sacrilege.  To permit people to commit such a terrible sin is neither compassionate not pastorally responsible.

Adultery is a mortal sin.  Hence, the Church has always taught that people guilty of adultery must not receive Holy Communion.  This is not an arbitrary law or a mere custom of the Church.  Rather, like the Ten Commandments, it is divine law, and man cannot change the moral laws established and revealed by God.  In fact, all people will be judged by this divine law, regardless of how they felt about it or whether it seemed in their view to be rigid, pharisaical, or overly black and white.  Who are they to judge God?

The problem with Amoris Laetitia is that it proposes the reception of Holy Communion for some couples who are in invalid second “marriages” and who, in spite of understanding the teaching of the Church on the subject, nevertheless continue to have sexual  relations.  Previously, the Church in certain cases would allow such couples to receive Holy Communion only if they would live together continently, as brother and sister.  In other words, the acts of adultery would first have to end before they could receive.  Amoris Laetitia proposes a change in this requirement, and Pope Francis has repeatedly confirmed this.

Practically speaking, that one couple, knowingly and freely living in a state of ongoing adultery, committing one act of adultery after another, can receive Holy Communion, while another couple that has – say –  neglected to keep the one hour Eucharistic fast cannot receive, reveals a moral system that is both inconsistent and incoherent.  And should that adulterating couple be instructed to observe the Eucharistic fast out of respect for the Most Blessed Sacrament?  Let their pastor try to make sense out of that one!  Talk about straining out a knat and swallowing a camel!

It is in light of these principles that the controversy over Amoris Laetitia must be waged. It is not a matter of right or left, conservative or liberal, modern or traditional, but of right teaching or wrong teaching, of observing Christian morality or indulging in the world’s immorality.  For the Holy Eucharist is the most sacred thing we have, since it is Jesus Christ Himself.  To show an indifference in receiving Him is a scandal unto itself, and one that will lead to other acts of disrespect towards God.  And just as importantly, the controversy poses a threat to our understanding of the very nature of Christianity itself; that is, are its teachings revealed by God or are they merely composed by men?

Religions have come about in various ways. Some religions are the collected musings of imaginative individuals, some are the nonsensical ramblings of lunatics, some are the result of experimentations with altered states of consciousness, some are the fabrications of opportunists, some are the result of contact with demonic spirits, while others are the fruit of sincere human inquiry into the mysteries of the soul, the afterlife, right and wrong conduct, and the nature of the Supreme Being.  Religions that are the fruit of sincere human searching contain some truths and possess a certain value and nobility, and can be effective preparations for the reception of the Holy Gospel.  But whereas the world’s religions are the result of man’s search for God, Christianity is the result of God’s search for man.  As a result, they are worlds apart.

Christian teaching is the direct consequence of God’s having come in the flesh to walk among us, teach us what we could never have discovered by reason alone, demonstrate for us the meaning and nature of true righteousness and holy love, and finally, reconcile us with Himself through the Cross, thus making salvation possible for the first time since the infamous fall of our common parents. In other words, Christianity is a religion of divine revelation, and on this fact it either stands or falls.

Christian doctrine and morality are not human doctrine and morality. Rather, they are God’s doctrine and morality.  They are founded on objective truths about God, man, the world, and the future that have been shown to us by our Creator, not arbitrarily, but purposefully, so that we may know, love, and serve Him in accord with His will.  If a person does not believe this, if they instead believe that Christian doctrines and morals are merely the pious musings or the oppressive assertions of human beings, then he or she lacks substantial reason to be a Christian.  And specifically, if a Catholic does not believe that the Catholic Church is God’s chosen means for making known this saving truth and dispensing the saving grace that accompanies it – and all this by the promised Spirit of Truth – then in the same way, he or she lacks substantial reason to be a Catholic.

The controversy over Amoris Laetitia concerns, not only the particulars of moral and sacramental theology, but also, the very nature of Christianity as a world religion among other world religions.  If a pope may legitimately alter or eliminate any teaching he wishes, if he may simply ignore clear and emphatic commands made by Christ and Saint Paul, then Catholicism is not the true religion, but only one religion among many other equal religions, and the notion of a “one true religion” is only a fantasy.  If divinely revealed  teachings can be derided as “rigid,” and then new human teachings put in their place, then the proper order of the two great commandments has been reversed, and the Church is loving others in a manner that conflicts with the love of God.

When Christ gave St. Peter, the Apostles, and their successors the authority to teach, sanctify, and govern the faithful in His name, saying, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” He did not give them an absolute authority.  They could not then abolish the Ten Commandments and the Gospel precepts.  Rather, such authority was given so as to uphold, expound, and defend the truths and laws of God in the face of opposition to them or confusion about them.  The Church possesses no authority whatsoever to deny what Christ has asserted in the Gospel.

Confusion in serious matters of religion is not of the Holy Spirit, but of the devil, especially if that confusion concerns teachings which had previously been clear and certain.  And the teachings regarding adultery and the reception of Holy Communion have been quite clear and certain.  Yet,  Amoris Laetitia has caused such confusion that even the bishops cannot resolve it; even they now disagree on fundamental matters of morality.   Hence, if one is in Poland or certain dioceses in the Untied States, one cannot be an adulterer and receive Holy Communion; but if one is an adulterer in Germany, Belgium, or the Philippines, one can receive Holy Communion.  This is a disaster that parallels the confusion of denominationalism.   It makes the Catholic Church appear no better off than the countless sects and factions that resulted from the Protestant rebellion of the sixteenth century.

The Catholic Church and faith will survive, no matter what we do to them.  But the fact is, the ancient faith is presently being neglected and assaulted by those who have the responsibility from Christ to be its chief defenders.  In such difficult circumstances, we must all “contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  For we are not members of a football team or cheerleaders on the sidelines; rather, we are disciples of Jesus Christ, and it is our duty and privilege to live and die for the faith He taught…even when our leaders betray that faith.   There can never ever be a good excuse for being a bad Catholic.

I stand firmly with the four cardinals, twenty-five scholars, and thirty cardinals against the confusion caused by Amoris Laetitia.  But rather than have each confused passage be painstakingly resolved in an effort to “save” the document, I would personally prefer to see either the eighth chapter removed or the entire document withdrawn.  Let’s end this catastrophic confusion by altogether eliminating the cause.

Let me conclude with one more superb passage from the Catechism concerning both Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition:

“Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it.  At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully.  All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith” (CCC 87).