I am in the middle of reading a commentary on the Apocalypse published in 1955 by Fr Hermann Kramer and called The Book of Destiny. It is better and more erudite than you might suppose from its title. I learned about it when listening to a talk by Hamish Fraser, who refers to it as the most interesting book that he has ever read.

Fr Kramer takes the Apocalypse to be principally a chronological prophecy of the Church’s future from the apostolic age to the Parousia, though with some reprises, rather than, say, a depiction of permanent features of the Church’s situation in this world. He offers some interesting interpretations of the 7 trumpets of Apoc. 8 and 9. On the assumption, reasonable given his general approach, that the description in 7:13-14 of those who have come through the great tribulation represents the Church as she emerged from the Diocletian persecution, he argues that the seven trumpets announce events that follow this period of freedom.

The first trumpet he takes to mark the barbarian invasions. His interpretation here is perhaps too literal: he suggests that  the burning up of a third part of the trees might refer to a serious disruption of agriculture, at that time. Earlier, by contrast, he suggested that ‘tree’ might be taken to refer to the leading men of the time, and this might apply better here also. Although he doesn’t mention it, the burning up of all the green grass would fit well with his view of the barbarian invasions as a punishment for excessive luxury. The Fathers interpret ‘green grass’ as a symbol of concupiscence, in the Feeding of the Five Thousand.

But I was more interested in the next two trumpets. Apoc. 9:8 says:

And the second angel blew sounded the trumpet: and as it were a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea became blood. And the third part of those creatures died, which had life in the sea, and the third part of the ships was destroyed.

Fr Kramer thinks this is a reference to Islam; and it does seem antecedently plausible that so terrible and permanent an enemy of the Church would be mentioned in the only canonical prophecy of the Church’s life (if that is indeed what we should understand the Apocalypse to be). ‘Fire’ suggests, among other things, the passionate fanaticism of militant Islam, while ‘mountain’ is a good symbol of its bulk, impermeability and deadness. ‘The creatures which had life’ is literally ‘the creatures which had souls’, suggesting the death of the soul caused by the prolonged Mohammedan usurpation. He also suggests that ‘ships’ here might be a symbol for ‘churches’. Might one-third, approximately, of the churches then existing have been desecrated by Islam?

The Apocalypse continues:

And the third angel sounded the trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a torch, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountain of waters. And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made better.

This disaster differs from the previous two, since it is said to proceed from ‘heaven’. The author interprets heaven throughout the book to refer to the Church, considered as endowed with heavenly gifts. Apoc. 1:20 itself strongly suggests that ‘stars’ in the Apocalypse will refer to bishops or priests. A ‘great’ star, therefore, says Fr Kramer, will be an eminent bishop or metropolitan. It is said to be burning even after as it descends (unlike the stars that fall in 6:13, 9:1 and 12:9), suggesting that it still gives some light to the faithful after leaving the Church, indicating rather schism than heresy, and the continued presence of erudition.

The star is called ‘Wormwood’. In Jeremiah and Amos, wormwood is mentioned in connection with priests who are disobedient (Jer. 9:13-15), and who teach falsely (Jer. 23:11-40), and with those who pervert the sources of justice (Amos 5:7). These last people are told, instead, to ‘seek him that maketh Arcturus and Orion’ (Amos 5:8), which, if we accept the symbolism of a star as a bishop, implies a command to recognise the diving origin of the hierarchy of the Church: again, a warning against schism.

This great shining star falls upon a third part of the springs of water, presumably the sources of grace. Many die from drinking the bitter waters. As Fr Kramer says:

Wormwood is to be given those people, priests, and bishops who refuse to obey the authority of the Church which possesses this authority by divine commission from Christ. This is schism, ad formal schism is grievous sin. And many shall die from participation of the fountains, the sacraments, polluted by the star fallen into schism. […] The fallen star is guilty of pride, hypocrisy, and rebellion, when he assumes unlawful authority over others and perverts and refuses submission to the true order established by Christ. It begets pride and rebellion in his followers. They follow a slippery path and must stumble and fall after they have partaken of this poisonous potion. Sharing in the hypocrisy and rebellion of their schismatic superior, they knowingly partake of his wormwood and become wormwood themselves.

Surely, as the author implies, this describes no one so well as Photios the Great? His very name suggests a shining light, and he was famed for his learning. He was a great star, too, metropolitan of a see that claimed second rank in the Church, but he broke away from the constellation appointed for him. A great number of dioceses, though still a minority, were struck by his calamitous fall and the sources of grace to this very day have been made bitter for all those who knowingly partake of his schism. What, in fact, is more bitter than schism, directly opposed as it is not to the faith, but to charity and joy and peace?




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.


Tombé à terre à la suite de premiers coups de couteau, tu essaie de repousser ton assaillant avec tes pieds, et tu dis : « Va-t’en, Satan » ; tu répètes : « Va-t’en, Satan » (from the sermon of the archbishop of Rouen at the funeral of Fr Jacques Hamel)

(You fell to the ground at the first jabs of the knife, you tried to kick away your attacker with the words, ‘Off with you Satan’; again you said, ‘Off with you, Satan’)

Islam is not simply a revolution brought about by Arabs who, bored of living under their tents, were stirred up by a gifted leader to make a sudden conquest of the most opulent cities of the East. Rather, God allowed the ancient enemy of mankind to have a special opportunity, and to choose an instrument by which he might lead nations astray, enslaving them by the sword. And so there arose Mahomet, the man of Satan, and the Koran, his gospel.

But what was the crime which induced divine justice to go to such an extremity, abandoning nations to a slavery of which we can still see no end? Heresy: for heresy is a dreadful crime which makes the coming of the Son of God into this world to be of no avail.  It refuses the word of God; it tramples upon the infallible teaching of the Church. Such a crime must be punished, in order that Christian peoples may learn that no nation resists the revealed words without the danger of suffering, even in this world, the penalty of its rash ingratitude. And so Alexandria fell, though it was Peter’s second see, and Antioch, where he had first been bishop, and Jerusalem, keeper of the glorious Tomb.

The tide was stopped in front of Constantinople, and did not immediately overflow the regions that surrounded it. The Eastern empire, soon to become the Greek empire, was given the opportunity to learn a lesson. Had Byzantium watched over the faith, then Omar would not have come to Alexandria, nor to Antioch, nor to Jerusalem. A delay was granted; it lasted for eight centuries. But when Byzantium had filled up its measure, then the Crescent appeared once more in vengeance. No longer is it the Saracen, who is a spent force, but rather the Turk. Hagia Sophia will see its Christian images whitewashed, with verses from the Koran painted over them. And this is the reason: it had become the sanctuary of schism and of heresy. [. . .]

It dared to penetrate even into the land of France. But a hard expiation it had to do for its boldness, on the plains of Poitou. Islam had made a mistake; where there is no heresy, there it can find no foothold. [. . .]

We shall stop here, having acknowledged the justice of God in regard to heresy, and the true reason of the victories of Islam. We have seen the only reason why God permitted Islam to arise, and why it did not remain an obscure and ephemeral sect in the deserts of Arabia.

We can remember also the words of Leo XIII in Exeunte Iam Anno:

The impartial and unchangeable justice of God metes out reward for good deeds and punishment for sin. But since the life of peoples and nations, as such, does not outlast their world, they necessarily receive the rewards due to their deeds on this earth.

What a joke. Islam is code of belief and practice that one may adhere to or reject in whole or part. If I wish to disapprove of Islam and (in proportion to their freedom in the matter) its adherents I bloody well shall. In regard to persons who have no responsibility for their adherence to Islam (minors, the simple, the inculpably ignorant and oppressed women) I might still oppose their emigration to the United Kingdom simply because the bankrupt secular culture of the UK cannot fail to be overwhelmed by the infusion of multitudes from a coherent and vigorous rival civilisation. Disapproval of someone’s ethnicity on the other hand is irrational and immoral. The very equation of anti-Semitism and ‘Islamophobia’ is anti-Semitic. I do not suppose Jeremy Corbyn disapproves of Jewish ethnicity per se. He disapproves of the existence of the state of Israel. The problem now is that the state of Israel is a fact. To position ‘I have nothing against the French. I just want to deport them to Canada and partition their country between Germany and Spain’ is difficult to distinguish from just being anti-French. The Islamic vote upon which Labour is increasingly dependent does indeed disapprove of the ethnicity of the Jews per se and adheres to a religion which looks forward to the eventual genocide of all Jews who do not convert to Islam. I, along with Western Civilisation as a whole, accept the great bulk of Judaism as true and good but lament the failure of its adherents to recognise the Messiah. Corbyn rejects Judaism as a whole and finds the ultimately supernatural basis of its claim to the Holy Land deeply offensive. This is the ultimate root of non-Islamic left-wing anti-Semitism. The Left are the vanguard of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is a movement to eliminate divine revelation as a source of public policy and public law. The destruction of confessional schools, of the diplomatic recognition of the Holy See, the National Anthem, the Coronation and the state of Israel, are necessarily essential aims of the Left. Islam may not be their ideology of choice but they sympathise with its internationalism and its willingness to use violence to advance its cause. As Burke said of them in the first flush of their victory “to those who have observed the spirit of their conduct, it has long been clear that nothing was wanted but the power of carrying the intolerance of the tongue and of the pen into a persecution which would strike at property, liberty, and life.”

So, the Irish have chosen madness and the abyss. Another one for the ‘astonishing but unsurprising’ file.

The Irish State has dissolved itself, and this for two reasons. First of all because it has renounced the Catholic faith that until now was enshrined in the preamble to its constitution. St Thomas Aquinas writes:-

It must never be permitted that infidels should newly gain dominion over the faithful, for this would cause scandal and be a danger to the faith. For easily those who are subject to the government of others can be changed by those under whom they live, so that they may follow their rule, unless those who are subject be of great virtue. . . . And so the Church in no way allows infidels to acquire dominion over the faithful.

This would by itself be sufficient to make the official institutions of Ireland henceforth illegitimate. But there is a second reason. The state has officially declared war on marriage and the family, abolishing marriage insofar as lies within its power. But the State is a society of families united under a common rule. By nullifying the family, as far as lies within its power, it nullifies itself; it denies its own reason for existence and so it denies or dissolves itself.

When the Moors swept over Spain, no Spanish Catholic, surely, would have supposed that those Moors who got permanent control over their particular village or town were their legitimate rulers. They were not in the same position as the pagan Roman rulers who held power from God, according to Romans 13. If the Spanish obeyed the local Moorish ruler, it was from prudence, because until a counter-attack could be organised, it was the lesser of two evils. In the same way, from now on the Irish need not obey the ‘laws’ of the ‘State’ out of justice, but only out of prudence. Heretics, apostates and lunatics do not hold power from God over the faithful.

Ideally, the remaining Catholics should officially secede from the evil pseudo-State, and find some promising young army general to help them set up a new State somewhere in Eire. I am serious. Apparently of the 43 constituencies, only Longford and Roscommon-South Leitrim voted to retain marriage. Since these are contiguous, that would seem to be the best place to found it. Maybe Poland or Hungary would help them.

The prophet Zechariah once had a vision of four successive chariots, each pulled by a pair of horses, emerging between two brazen mountains. The first pair of horses were red, the second black, the third white and the fourth were grey and strong. What does it all mean, he asked the angel?

The angel told him:

These are the four winds of the heaven, which go forth to stand before the Lord of all the earth. That in which were the black horses went forth into the land of the north, and the white went forth after them: and the grisled went forth to the land of the south. And they that were most strong, went out, and sought to go, and to run to and fro through all the earth.

Adapting an exposition of Pope Gregory IX, we can see this as a reference to the four great religious rules in the Church. The earliest is that of St Basil. He is symbolized by the red or chestnut horses, since this is the closest a horse can be to the imperial colour: and his very name means king or emperor. His horses are not said to go to some new location, since Catholic religious life in the East has on the whole not moved far, down the centuries, from those places where it began.

The black horses represent the rule of St Benedict, and in their chariot are the black monks. Starting in Monte Cassino, or Nursia if you prefer, they “went forth into the land of the north,” and filled it with their monasteries.

The white horses stand for the rule of St Augustine. Why do these ‘go forth after’ the black ones, when Augustine lived a hundred years before Benedict? Perhaps because the Orders which have perpetuated his rule in the Church are ones that came later – the Premonstratensians and the Dominicans. These Orders also go forth after, that is, imitate, the Benedictines in being committed to a solemn choral office. The religious of these two Orders wear white, hence the white horses.

The last of the great rules is that of St Francis, symbolised by the strong, grey horses pulling his chariot of grey friars. Why do they go to the land of the south? At first I wondered if this could be a reference to the evangelisation of South America; but the Dominicans were prominent in this as well. Perhaps then it stands for some future great effort of evangelisation of the Muslims, foreshadowed by the early Franciscan martyrs of north Africa, and by St Francis’s own attempt, ultimately successful according to the Fioretti, to convert the sultan of Egypt. May then the strong sons of Francis go forth against the sons of Mahomet and slay them, with the sword not of steel but of the Spirit!

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