Assuming that elected officials are not our instruments. Assuming that our principal obligation in an election is to vote for the least bad candidate with any chance of winning. To what degree does one assume moral responsibility for the actions of a candidate for whom one votes? 



A few years ago I had the honour of being present at the beatification of Blessed Karl of Austria. It was fascinating to see the Emperor’s son and heir Otto von Habsburg kneeling before St John Paul II at his father’s beatification knowing that the Pope’s father was a fiercely loyal soldier in the service of Emperor Karl and that Karol Wojtyla was named after the last Emperor. When, less than a year later, John Paul II drew to his death, it looked like he was going to die on the very same day as the saint for whom he was named. I was in two minds about this. I had always been uneasy about Bl. Karl’s death on 1st April given that his enemies, irritated by his sanctity, mocked him and treated him as a fool in his life. As it happened John Paul II did not give him the feast of his heavenly birthday but instead made his feast day 21st October the day of his marriage (perhaps in anticipation of the beatification of the Empress Zita). It would have been fitting for John Paul II to have the same heavenly birthday as his name saint but I had the same reservations about the Pope having 1st April as a feast. In the event John Paul II died on 2nd April 2005. I thought then how sad that Karl had not been given 1st April so they could have had feast days side by side. In the event, when Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II (an event for which I was not present though I made it to the canonisation) He gave him not the day of his death but the day of his papal inauguration as his feast day. This was sublimely providential for the anniversary of John Paul II’s papal inauguration is the day after the wedding anniversary of Blessed Karl and Empress Zita. Thus Karl and Karol ended up with adjacent feast days after all and so Emperor and Pope, united in name and in death, are now united in glory in heaven and in the praises of Church upon earth.






Caterina de’ Ricci’s lauda in veneration of Savonaroloa was composed in gratitude for a cure from painful and debilitating illness. Born to a wealthy Florentine family in 1522, she took her vows at the convent of San Vincenzo in Prato in 1536 at the age of 14. By 1540 she had been suffering from an internal illness that had confined her to bed for over a year, and by the end of May the pain had prevented her from sleeping for a whole month. On 22 May, the vigil of Savonarola’s execution, some of his relics were brought to her, but they provided no relief. In the night she threw them onto the floor in exasperation, but regretting her action, she struggled from her bed, and, as she knelt to recover them, the friar appeared to her. He made the sign of the cross and pronounced the healing words sana facta es. She recovered at once. During the next two years the friar reportedly appeared to her in more than a dozen visions.

     Caterina commemorated her miraculous cure in a lauda. As a model she turned to Feo Belcari’s Da che tu m’hai Iddio il cor’ferito; she begins Da che tu m’ hai dimostro tanto amore. The heading specifically names Savonarola and his two Dominican companions. The refrain and first stanza provide a glimpse of the vivid imagery of Caterina’s vision of the friar, and his fiery glow:

– Patrick Macey, Bonfire Songs (Oxford University Press, 1998), 132.


Da che tu m’ hai dimostro tanto amore,
Servo di Cristo, con quel dolce sguardo
e con quel don che or m’ è doppio dardo,
sempre t’arò nel mezzo del mio core.

    Nelli tormenti e pene ero somersa,
e tu pietosamente subvenisti:
ogni letizia stava per me persa,
quando la tua pietade ad me apristi:
i’ ti chiamavo; e tu alfin venisti,
come piatoso padre ad una figlia
con quella faccia lucida e vermiglia,
che rutilava lucido splendore.


    Since you have sown me such love,
Servant of Christ, with that sweet glance,
and with that gift which now is a double dart,
I will have you always in the centre of my heart.

    I was submerged in torment and pain
and you mercifully came to my aid:
all joy was lost to me,
when you revealed to me your mercy.
I called you, and you finally came,
like a tender father to a daughter,
with that shining vermillion face
that glowed with brilliant reddish light.

CLEMENT XI 1700-1721

Concerning Truths which Necessarily Must be Explicitly Believed

[Response of the Sacred Office to the Bishop of Quebec, Jan. 25, 1703]

1349a Whether a minister is bound, before baptism is conferred on an adult, to explain to him all the mysteries of our faith, especially if he is at the point of death, because this might disturb his mind. Or, whether it is sufficient, if the one at the point of death will promise that when he recovers from the illness, he will take care to be instructed, so that he may put into practice what has been commanded him.

Resp. A promise is not sufficient, but a missionary is bound to explain to an adult, even a dying one who is not entirely incapacitated, the mysteries of faith which are necessary by a necessity of means, as are especially the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation.

[Response of the Sacred Office, May 10, 1703]

1349b Whether it is possible for a crude and uneducated adult, as it might be with a barbarian, to be baptized, if there were given to him only an understanding of God and some of His attributes, especially His justice in rewarding and in punishing, according to this remark of the Apostle “He that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder’; [Heb . 11:23], from which it is inferred that a barbarian adult, in a certain case of urgent necessity, can be baptized although he does not believe explicitly in Jesus Christ.

Resp. A missionary should not baptize one who does not believe explicitly in the Lord Jesus Christ, but is bound to instruct him about all those matters which are necessary, by a necessity of means, in accordance with the capacity of the one to be baptized.


Emeth is a character in The Last Battle the seventh and final volume in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. He is a Calormene. That is, he belongs to the human southern desert nation opposed to the heroic Narnian talking beasts of Lewis’s stories and to their human allies in Archenland. Allegory in C.S. Lewis is a lot more prominent than in Tolkien. Tolkien only really employs allegory in Leaf by Niggle and officially disapproved of the form. Certainly, a lot of the Chronicles of Narnia is non-allegorical but it is hard to deny that some elements, and they are key elements, cannot be classified any other way. This is especially true of The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Last Battle which provide the creation narrative, the salvation narrative and the eschatological climax to the series. (Incidentally, I can never quite escape the suspicion that Prince Caspian is intended as a pro-Anglican parable about the Reformation). The Last Battle describes the Narnian end of the world in ways that clearly imitate classical Christian eschatology. There is a false prophet (a monkey called Shift) and an (oddly invincibly ignorant) Antichrist (a donkey called Puzzle). Key to the narrative is the infiltration and conquest of Narnia by the Calormenes. The Calormenes are pretty transparently based on the Muslims. This is one reason why I doubt very much that either The Horse and His Boy or The Last Battle will ever be adapted for film. The central role of Islamic conquest in Lewis’s view of the end times is very interesting, especially as it must have been far less obvious that this was at all likely when he wrote in the nineteen fifties. The Calormenes worship a god called Tash who is quite obviously Satan. They sneak into Narnia disguised as merchants and seize control of the country under the auspices of the monkey Shift who persuades his dim-witted friend Puzzle to dress up in a lion skin and pose as Aslan (the Lion who in the Chronicles of Narnia symbolises Christ). It seems from this that Lewis believes that the deception of the Antichrist will be a treason from within Western culture by non-believers posing as believers and manipulating the credulity of the mass of the people but that it will be accomplished in alliance with and ultimately to the profit of Islam. This is very interesting especially when one reflects upon the alliance between Liberalism and Mohammedanism in contemporary Western culture.

Emeth is among the Calormene soldiers who enter Narnia in disguise to assist Shift in his overthrow of the legitimate king Tirian and establishment of an indifferentist pseudo-theocracy centred on the government and worship of Tashlan. Emeth is naturally virtuous sincere believer in Tash and is sickened by the duplicity of the methods by which the conquest of Narnia is to be accomplished and sickened by the suggestion that Aslan and Tash are one and the same. In the event, the conspiracy issues in the destruction of the the entire Narnian world, the defintive expulsion of Tash, and the second coming of Aslan. Emeth, however, is saved and finds himself in heaven. Emeth encounters Aslan, is ravished by his beauty, confesses his lifelong worship of Tash and awaits death at the hands of the true God. He is told instead that every sincere and naturally virtuous act he performed for the sake of Tash (who Aslan describes as his ‘opposite’) was in fact done in honour of Aslan and all evil acts done in Aslan’s name are really done for Tash. For this reason Emeth, as an anonymous worshiper of Aslan, is saved.

“Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”

This seems like pretty pure Pelagianism. In fact, it helpfully illustrates how utterly Pelagian the Implicitist heresy is. A determination to worship God in whatever manner God has appointed is a requirement of natural reason. If natural moral virtue combined with a determination to worship God in whatever manner He has established, combined with error of fact as to what this religion is, can save us then nature and reason alone suffice for the forgiveness of sins and participation in the divine nature. This is not just heresy it is the central claim of Satan in his rebelion against God. Is Lewis then, ironically, preaching the greatest of all deceptions in a work supposed to warn us about the Antichrist?

I think it may be possible to save Lewis from this most serious charge. I do not deny that Lewis’s theology is often sloppy. Without the solemn defintions of Councils and Popes to guard him against rash speculations and unable, as a Protestant, to submit to the consensus of the Fathers, he often strays too far and entangles himself in positions he probably would repudiate if baldly stated. He also has an odd tendency to fall into dualism (displayed here in the reference to Tash as Aslan’s ‘opposite’) and an unhealthy fascination with platonic angelology probably derived from Charles Williams. Nevertheless, it is not clear that there has been any kind of fall in Narnia or that the Calormenes are descended from Adam. It may be that the non-earth descended inhabitants of the Narnian world have a purely natural end and that if they do receive supernatural beatitude it is by a purely gratuitous elevation at the end of time, not because they possessed supernatural grace (or original sin) during their lives. Furthermore, it is not altogether clear that Emeth is even dead when he meets Aslan.

Of course the entire premise of the story is impossible. It is not possible for there to be non-human rational animals. There are no rational animals who are not descended from Adam. There have not been and will not be multiple incarnations. Furthermore, it is hard not to conclude that Lewis did have a rationalist Pelagian understanding of salvation as the story is almost certain to be taken this way by any ordinary reader. The Last Battle was published in 1956 and Lewis is generally seen as a champion of classical conservative western Christianity against liberalism. The problem of Emeth shows how much the Implicitist error already went by default on the eve of the Neo-Modernism revolution.

“People shouldn’t call for demons unless they really mean what they say.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

I was musing yesterday on the fact that a time, times and half a time, more or less, had passed since the election of the present pope, and wondering whether this might be the basis for a blog-post, when I received an e-mail not dissimilar in theme, but more precise and more heartening:

Lightning again struck St. Peter’s Basilica today, October 7th, in a massive storm around 9:20 a.m., on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary:
The first time in recent history that lightning struck there, as you’ll remember, was February 11, 2013, which was another Feast of Our Lady, and the very day Pope Benedict announced his imminent abdication.
Today is the 1335th day following the first lightning strike. That is a prophetic biblical number. It symbolizes relief or victory after a period of patience and perseverance: “Blessed is the man who has patience and perseveres unto one thousand, three hundred and thirty-five days” (Daniel 12: 12). Could this strike from the heavens at the Vatican Basilica on this Feast-Day be a symbolic indication that the great weapon of the Holy Rosary will be Our Lady’s ‘sword’ to combat and vanquish the subtle doctrinal evil and confusion that has increasingly afflicted the Church from the very top down, following Benedict’s fateful decision to relinquish his God-given office?
As at Lepanto, 445 years ago today, this number 1335 could also symbolize another victory eventually to be won by Our Lady of the Rosary over the new Islamic threat to Europe – the tattered remains of Christendom! – presented by the unassimilable Muslim masses now invading that continent as “refugees”. For the great year of Our Lady of the Rosary, 1917, when she appeared under that title at Fatima (a name with strong Muslim resonance), was the 1335th year on the Muslim calendar, which begins with 622 A.D., the year of the Hegira, the ‘Flight of the Prophet’ to Medina. (The traditional Muslim lunar calendar has only 354 days.) So the coins of the Ottoman Empire of 1917 bear the date “1335”. That was also the year in which the Muslims lost control of the Holy City of Jerusalem for the first time since the Crusades. The conquering Christian British forces under General Edmund Allenby marched into the Old City through the ancient Jaffa Gate on December 11, 1917.