Monday, 9 November 2015

The days are coming, indeed, they are already here

The Days Are Coming, and Are Already Here

The Antichrist, says Soloviev, was "a convinced spiritualist." He believed in goodness, and even in God. He was an ascetic, a scholar, a philanthropist. He gave "the greatest possible demonstrations of moderation, disinterest, and active beneficence."

In his early youth, he had distinguished himself as a talented and insightful exegete: one of his extensive works on biblical criticism had brought him an honorary degree from the University of Tübingen.

Giacomo BiffiBut the book that had gained for him universal fame and consensus bore the title: "The Open Road to Universal Peace and Prosperity," in which "a noble respect for ancient traditions and symbols was joined with a sweeping, audacious radicalism toward social and political needs and directives. Limitless freedom of thought was united with a profound comprehension of everything mystical; absolute individualism with an ardent dedication to the common good; the most elevated idealism toward guiding principles with the complete precision and viability of practical solutions."

It is true that some men of faith wondered why the name of Christ did not appear even once, but others replied: "If the contents of the book are permeated with the true Christian spirit, with active love and universal benevolence, what more do you want?" Besides, he "was not in principle hostile to Christ." On the contrary, he appreciated his right intentions and lofty teaching.

But three things about Jesus were unacceptable to him.

First of all, his moral preoccupations. "The Christ," he asserted, "has divided men according to good and evil with his moralism, whereas I will unite them with the benefits that both good and evil alike require."

He also did not like Christ's "absolute uniqueness." He was one of many, or even better – he said – he was my precursor, because I am the perfect and definitive saviour; I have purified his message of what is unacceptable for the men of today.

Finally, and above all, he could not endure the fact that Christ is alive, so much so that he repeated hysterically: "He is not among the living, and will never be. He is not risen, he is not risen, he is not risen. He rotted, he rotted in the tomb…"

But where Soloviev's presentation shows itself to be particularly original and surprising – and merits greater reflection – is in the attribution to the Antichrist of the qualities of pacifist, environmentalist, ecumenist. […]

Did Soloviev have a particular person in mind when he made this description of the Antichrist? It is undeniable that he alludes above all to the "new Christianity" that Leo Tolstoy was successfully promoting during those years. […]

In his "Gospel," Tolstoy reduces all of Christianity to five rules of conduct which he derives from the Sermon on the Mount:

1. Not only must you not kill, but you must not even become angry with your brother.

2. You must not give in to sensuality, not even to the desire for your own wife.

3. You must never bind yourself by swearing an oath.

4. You must not resist evil, but you must apply the principle of non-violence to the utmost and in every case.

5. Love, help, and serve your enemy.

According to Tolstoy, although these precepts come from Christ, they in no way require the actual existence of the Son of the living God to be valid. [...]

Of course, Soloviev does not specifically identify the great novelist with the figure of the Antichrist. But he intuited with extraordinary clairvoyance that Tolstoy's creed would become during the 20th century the vehicle of the substantial nullification of the gospel message, under the formal exaltation of an ethics and a love for humanity presented as Christian "values." [...]

The days will come, Soloviev tells us – and are already here, we say – in which the salvific meaning of Christianity, which can be received only in a difficult, courageous, concrete, and rational act of faith, will be dissolved into a series of "values" easily sold on the world markets.

The greatest of the Russian philosophers warns us that we must guard against this danger. Even if a Tolstoian Christianity were to make us infinitely more acceptable in the living room, at social and political gatherings, and on television, we cannot and must not renounce the Christianity of Jesus Christ, the Christianity that has at its center the scandal of the cross and the astonishing reality of the Lord's resurrection.

Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Son of God, the only saviour of mankind, cannot be transformed into a series of worthwhile projects and good inspirations, which are part and parcel of the dominant worldly mentality. Jesus Christ is a "rock," as he said of himself. And one either builds upon this "rock” (by entrusting oneself) or lunges against it (through opposition): "He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one, it will crush him" (Mt. 21:44). [...]

So Soloviev's teaching was simultaneously prophetic and largely ignored. But we want to repropose it in the hope that Christianity will finally catch on to it and pay it a bit of attention.

The new book by Giacomo Cardinal Biffi from which the passage on the Antichrist was taken:

Giacomo Biffi, "Pinocchio, Peppone, l’Anticristo e altre divagazioni [Pinocchio, Peppone, the Antichrist, and other Meanderings],” > Cantagalli, Siena, 2005, pp. 256, euro 14,90.

And this:

Soloviev And Our Time
By Giacomo Cardinal Biffi

Vladimir Sergeevic Soloviev passed away 100 years ago, on July 31 (August 13 according to our Gregorian calendar) of the year 1900. He passed away on the threshold of the 20th century -- a century whose vicissitudes and troubles he had foreseen with striking clarity, but also a century, which, tragically, in its historical course and dominant ideologies, would reject his most profound and important teachings. His, therefore, was a teaching at once prophetic and largely unheeded.

A Prophetic Teaching

At the time of the great Russian philosopher, the general view -- in keeping with the limitless optimism of the "belle epoque"' -- foresaw a bright future for humanity in the new century: under the direction and inspiration of the new religion of progress and solidarity stripped of transcendent elements, humanity would enjoy an era of prosperity, peace, justice, security. In the "Excelsior" -- a form of dance, which enjoyed an extraordinary success in the last years of the 19th century (and which later lent its name to countless theaters and hotels) -- this new religion found its own liturgy, as it were. Victor Hugo proclaimed: "This century was great, the one coming will be happy."

But Soloviev refused to allow himself to be swept up in this de-sacralized vision. On the contrary, he predicted with prophetic clarity all of the disasters which in fact occurred.

As early as 1882, in his "Second Discourse on Dostoevsky," Soloviev foresaw -- and condemned -- the sterility and cruelty of the collectivist tyranny which a few years later would oppress Russia and mankind. "The world must not be saved by recourse to force." Soloviev said. "One could imagine men toiling together toward some great end to which they would submit all of their own individual activity; but if this end is imposed on them, if it represents for them something fated and oppressive... then, even if this unity were to embrace all of mankind, universal brotherhood would not be the result, but only a giant anthill." This "anthill" was later constructed through the obtuse and cruel ideology of Lenin and Stalin.

In his final work, The Three Dialogues and the Story of the Antichrist (finished on Easter Sunday 1900), one is struck by how clearly Soloviev foresaw that the 20th century would be "the epoch of great wars, civil strife and revolutions" All this, he said, would prepare the way for the disappearance of "the old structure of separate nations" and "almost everywhere the remains of the ancient monarchical institutions would disappear." This would pave the way for a "United States of Europe."

The accuracy of Soloviev's vision of the great crisis that would strike Christianity at the end of the 20th century is astonishing.

He represents this crisis using the figure of the Antichrist. This fascinating personage will succeed in influencing and persuading almost everyone. It is not difficult to see in this figure of Soloviev the reflection, almost the incarnation, of the confused and ambiguous religiosity of our time.

The Antichrist will be a "convinced spiritualist" Soloviev says, an admirable philanthropist, a committed, active pacifist, a practicing vegetarian, a determined defender of animal rights.

He will also be, among other things, an expert exegete. His knowledge of the bible will even lead the theology faculty of Tubingen to award him an honorary doctorate. Above all, he will be a superb ecumenist, able to engage in dialogue "with words full of sweetness, wisdom and eloquence."

He will not be hostile "in principle" to Christ. Indeed, he will appreciate Christ's teaching. But he will reject the teaching that Christ is unique, and will deny that Christ is risen and alive today.

One sees here described -- and condemned -- a Christianity of "values," of "openings," of "dialogue," a Christianity where it seems there is little room left for the person of the Son of God crucified for us and risen, little room for the actual event of salvation.

A scenario, I think, that should cause us to reflect...

A scenario in which the faith militant is reduced to humanitarian and generically cultural action, the Gospel message is located in an irenic encounter with all philosophies and all religions and the Church of God is transformed into an organization for social work.

Are we sure Soloviev did not foresee what has actually come to pass? Are we sure it is not precisely this that is the most perilous threat today facing the "holy nation" redeemed by the blood of Christ -- the Church?

It is a disturbing question and one we must not avoid.

A Teaching Unheeded

Soloviev understood the 20th century like no one else, but the 20th century did not understand Soloviev.

It isn't that he has not been not recognized and honored. He is often called the greatest Russian philosopher, and few contest this appellation.

Von Balthasar regarded his work "the most universal speculative creation of the modern period" (Gloria III, p. 263) and even goes so far as to set him on the level of Thomas Aquinas.

But there is no doubt that the 20th century, as a whole, gave him no heed. Indeed, the 20th century, at every turn, has gone in the direction opposed to the one he indicated.

The mental attitudes prevalent today, even among many ecclesially active and knowledgeable Christians, are very far indeed from Soloviev's vision of reality.

Among many, here are a few examples:

Egoistic individualism, which is ever more profoundly leaving its mark on our behaviors and laws;

Moral subjectivism, which leads people to hold that it is licit and even praiseworthy to assume positions in the legislative and political spheres different from the behavioral norms one personally adheres to;

Pacifism and non-violence of the Tolstoyan type confused with the Gospel ideals of peace and fraternity to the point of surrendering to tyranny and abandoning the weak and the good to the powerful;

A theological view which, out of fear of being labeled reactionary, forgets the unity of God's plan, renounces spreading divine truth in all spheres, and abdicates the attempt to live out a coherent Christian life.

In one special way, the 20th century, in its movements and in its social, political and cultural results, strikingly rejected Soloviev's great moral construction. Soloviev held that fundamental ethical principles were rooted in three primordial experiences, naturally present in all men: that is to say, modesty, piety toward others and the religious sentiment.

Yet the 20th century, following an egoistic and unwise sexual revolution, reached levels of permissivism, openly displayed vulgarity and public shamelessness, which seem to have few parallels in history.

Moreover, the 20th century was the most oppressive and bloody of all history, a century without respect for human life and without mercy.

We cannot, certainly, forget the horror of the extermination of the Jews, which can never be execrated sufficiently. But it was not the only extermination. No one remembers the genocide of the Armenians during the First World War.

No one commemorates the tens of millions killed under the Soviet regime.

No one ventures to calculate the number of victims sacrificed uselessly in the various parts of the earth to the communist Utopia.

As for the religious sentiment during the 20th century, in the East for the first time state atheism was both proposed and imposed on a vast portion of humanity, while in the secularized West a hedonistic and libertarian atheism spread until it arrived at the grotesque idea of the "death of God."

In conclusion: Soloviev was undoubtedly a prophet and a teacher, but a teacher who was, in a way, irrelevant. And this, paradoxically, is why he was great and why he is precious for our time.

A passionate defender of the human person and allergic to every philanthropy; a tireless apostle of peace and adversary of pacifism; a promoter of Christian unity and critic of every irenicism: a lover of nature and yet very far from today's ecological infatuations -- in a word, a friend of truth and an enemy of ideology.

Of leaders like him we have today great need.

Born in Milan on June 15, 1928, Biffi was ordained on December 25, 1950. A Milan seminary professor, he became a bishop in 1976, then archbishop of Bologna in 1984 and a cardinal on May 25, 1985.

In Bologna, he is the 110th successor of St. Petronius.


Anonymous said...

Except from the messages of Christ to the Rev Albert Drexel .
Words of the Savior
in the Early Morning of May 7, 1971
Do not be worried and discouraged by the time of apostasy, even if
it is threatening a whole country!
Again I tell you: the time of Antichrist has begun. The Antichrist is
not Satan, nor a single person. The Antichrist is the Church of the
world, the society that has detached itself from God and My Gospel, –
it is the anti church of those who have given themselves to the world,
and who do not want to know about the cross and about grace. As true
Christians know, adore and love Me as their God and Savior, so do the
godless worship the world and man. Their idol is not Satan, in whom
they do not believe, but man, who has made himself into a god.
Antichrist is the world detached from God.

Michael Dowd said...

Very good. Also check out Fr. Robert Hugh Benson's 'Lord of the World'
with is another look at where we might be going.


Liam Ronan said...

Speaking of the antichrist,

I was alarmed at the very very late mention of abortion in the text of 'Laudato si' and even then (as opposed to the very broad strokes painted in respect of other topics touched) the destruction of human life was suspiciously nuanced.

The unborn child, the child in its mother's womb, is referred to as the 'human embryo' (see paragraphs 117, 120, and 136). More suspicious because the language elsewhere in these same paragraphs refers to 'a poor person', 'disabled persons'. However, no unborn 'person'.

Shocking and peculiar terminology at best. The 'human embryo' is a 'person' but this encyclical is at pains to avoid that word in connection with the unborn child.

Furthermore, this encyclical's references to "poor person" and "disabled person", both terms which have no scientific meaning or understanding, contrasts remarkably with its specific reference to the "human embryo", a medical/scientific term often defined thus:

"An unborn human, especially in the first eight weeks from conception, AFTER IMPLANTATION but before all the organs are developed." (Oxford Medical Dictionary emphasis added).

In short, after fertilization and before implantation, the term "human embryo" does not apply.

I suggest therefore this encyclical's specific reference to the medical/scientific term "human embryo" is both calculated and may reasonably be read to as permitting the use of abortifacient drugs, i.e. the "morning after pill", etc. as well as any other drug and/or medical procedure (suction methods) meant to thwart or prevent the IMPLANTATION of the fertilized egg in the womb.

Catholic doctrine insists that from the moment of fertilization, the unborn child is a distinct human being. This 'scientific' encyclical, by carefully and deliberately referring to the the unborn child as a 'human embryo' seems to allow or tolerate abortion from conception until the time of implantation.

This is intolerable if not heretical 'teaching'.

(My apologies for my use of caps.)

Anonymous said...

Where is your oist about fighting to death the sodomite lies? Why did you delete it?????????

Liam Ronan said...

By the way, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote commenting on the second temptation of Jesus in his 2004 book ‘On the Road toward Christ Jesus’ (referring directly to Soloviev’s ‘A Short Tale of the Antichrist’):

“And a phrase of Soloviev’s is illuminating: The Antichrist believes in God, but in the depths of his heart he prefers himself.”

Liam Ronan said...

@ Michael Dowd,

Yes. In the book that Francis is keen to mention but (I believe) never quote, i.e. Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson's "The Lord of the World", the apostate pantheistic priest, 'Francis', proposes his liturgical innovations devised for Mr. Felsenburgh, an American Senator who has suddenly arisen from obscurity and arrived on the world scene and who is in fact the Anti-Christ.

This apostate 'Francis' devises four 'liturgical' feasts (ecological and man-centred)to please the Anti-Christ:

"Life under four aspects – Maternity corresponds to Christmas and the Christian fable; it is the feast of home, love, faithfulness.
Life itself is approached in spring, teeming, young, passionate.
Sustenance in mid-summer, abundance, comfort, plenty, and the rest, corresponding somewhat to the Catholic Corpus Christi; and,
Paternity, the protective, generative, masterful idea, as winter draws on.... I understand it was a German thought.“ - Lord of the World -

I don't think Francis, the Bishop of Rome, has read that book carefully, if at all.

Liam Ronan said...

Just in supplementing my previous remarks on the reference to the "human embryo" in Ladauto Si, you will remember that in vitro fertilization, an abomination which leads to multiple fertilizations ultimately destroyed or experimented upon, does not involve implantation in the uterus, ergo, all these little unborn children are not "human embryos" referenced in this encyclical and, not being among the identified 'poor', are fair game for further scientific experimentation.

I am having great difficulty in having my analysis of this problem published and/or distributed online. Perhaps there is an error in my logic. If so, I should be grateful to have it pointed out to me.

Liam Ronan said...


While the Antichrist is/will not be the incarnation of Satan, I believe I am on firm doctrinal and theological grounds when I say the Antichrist is/will be a human person (the False Prophet as well).

Please note my citation of then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (above) who quoted Soloviev's analysis of the Antichrist's character.

You may benefit from the series of sermons delivered by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman on the Antichrist. (see url below)

Liam Ronan said...

Here is what seems permitted by the reckless use of the restrictive term "human embryo" in 'Laudato si'. (see my earlier remarks on this distinction regarding 'implantation')

The Daily Mail (UK Science) 22 July 2011 - "150 human animal hybrids grown in UK labs: Embryos have been produced secretively for the past three years"

"Scientists have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in British laboratories.

The hybrids have been produced secretively over the past three years by researchers looking into possible cures for a wide range of diseases.

The revelation comes just a day after a committee of scientists warned of a nightmare ‘Planet of the Apes’ scenario in which work on human-animal creations goes too far..."

Dorota said...

@ Liam Ronan
Maybe it is not any inconsistency in your argument that causes the difficulty in publishing it, but rather the opposite.
Since the pope chooses Hans Joachim Schellnhuber for his scientific advisor, he most certainly considers the world overpopulated. Also, he doesn't mind photo-ops with transgender persons, an announcement of a wholehearted support for manipulation of human biology. These two examples alone say a lot about the manner in which the pope deals with the obvious inconsistency of his choices and teaching with the teaching of the Catholic Church. It is all in the open, yet not officially pronounced.
Why should the world so progressive, it is hostile to reason and logic, want to award your logic any credence, if the pope of the Catholic Church (the bastion of all backwardness) himself doesn't seem willing?

Sandpiper said...

Keep up the good fight Liam. Keep spreading the word that Laudato si is remiss in not mentioning our brothers and sisters, in their non-implanted embryonic stage, who now number very likely in the millions who are being kept alive in deep-freezes at reproductive centres worldwide. They will be forgotten! That is one of the reasons IVF is so evil.

Liam Ronan said...

@Dorota and Sandpiper,

Thank you for your gracious encouragement. We must all soldier on in our own way and according to the grace God grants.