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Mass at the Carmelite Monastery of PhiladelphiaFacebook

(LifeSiteNews) — LifeSite’s recent reports on Rome’s suppression of a historic Carmel monastery in Philadelphia, which was the first foothold in the U.S. for the devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, has received many responses. Many Catholics, not only in Philadelphia, but in the entire U.S., are indignant about how Rome tried to discourage the preservation of this Carmel, whose founding sister had direct correspondence with Pauline, the sister of St. Therese, at the beginning of the 20th century. LifeSite will soon present more evidence on this case.

Among the responses, LifeSiteNews received a commentary from a Catholic priest, a long-time observer of the crisis in the Church who has been close to the Philadelphia battleground and has witnessed events crucial to the life of the Church. LifeSite is pleased to bring to our readers his reflections, according to which the attacks on the Carmel in Philadelphia are “part of a greater war against contemplative religious life” in the Church of today. And indeed, the case of the Carmel of Philadelphia is so important for a larger audience because it is an example of Rome’s current method of operation regarding the contemplative orders of the Catholic Church. Recent reforms undermine their traditional charisms and urge them to become part of larger associations which urge them to leave their monasteries, a great disruption for many of the contemplative religious.

Our commentator puts the case of the Carmel in Philadelphia in a larger context of the crisis in the Church which started with the Second Vatican Council, and he issues a sort of battle cry, calling Catholics to resistance.

“To shrug our shoulders with an air of indifference, helplessness or despair in the face of sad reality in Catholic Philadelphia is to allow the Carmel in Philadelphia to be taken from us, to be lost to the defiled hands of the enemies of Christ and His Church,” he writes. He sees forces at play that are working against the Faith. “This is the church of no faith, or anti-Faith, to speak more precisely. Its eager and zealous devotees are the authors of destruction in Philadelphia and throughout the Church today.”

Please see here the full commentary by the priest who wishes to remain anonymous:

A Reply to Dr. Maike Hickson’s October 28, 2022, LifeSite News article about the suppression of the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia

LIVE BY FAITH, OR DO THE DEVIL’S BIDDING

“But yet the Son of man, when He cometh, shall He find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

For the past six decades following the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, we have witnessed the astonishing degradation and destruction of Catholic life and of the various human elements and structures meant to foster the unique divine mission of the true Church of Christ, one, holy, Catholic, apostolic and Roman. The jaw-dropping infidelity and apostasy of lay and clerical Catholics these past sixty years continues at an accelerated pace. O, how the mighty have fallen!. Stars have plummeted from Heaven. I cannot fail to see in the spiritual demise of so many chosen and privileged souls a frightening reflection of the ancient casting down of the reprobate angels from the celestial heights to the depths of Hell.

The attacks against the Carmelites of Philadelphia are part of the greater war against contemplative religious life in the Church today. Responding to the ongoing troubles in Philadelphia, one commentator noted that the Carmelite nuns are part of the front lines in the Church’s continual battle for souls. Were it not for the spiritual warfare of our contemplatives, the Church’s external works for the conversion, sanctification and salvation of souls could not succeed. The enemies of Christ know this, and that is why they relentlessly pursue the destruction of contemplative religious communities,

The loss of souls is the ultimate goal of Christ’s enemies. They march in lock-step to the beat of Satan’s drum. They execute his will with a zeal seldom seen among the true followers of Christ. They fully embrace Satan’s pursuit of our eternal damnation.

What means does Satan use to achieve our damnation? He has many tricks up his sleeve, but one of the most effective means he uses is to tempt us to lose the supernatural gift of faith, first given to us by Christ through His Church at our baptism,

This faith is the bedrock, the solid foundation, of supernatural life. It is the beginning of our salutary, personal relationship with God as our Father, not simply as our Creator. Faith opens the door to the cleansing, sanctifying and saving waters of baptism and, thus, to sanctifying grace and life in Christ. As the key that unlocks the door to baptism, it also gives to us our membership in the Church, access to all the other life-giving sacraments and, finally, the promise of eternal life. Without this supernatural faith, no one can please God and hope for or enter Heaven.

Satan often snatches the seed of faith scattered in this world by the perennial preaching and teaching of the Catholic religion. Faith comes by hearing, but many who have ears to hear would rather not hear it, so the birds of the air (the demons) carry away from their reach this seed of faith, the saving word of God, and devour it. Jesus speaks of this in the Gospel. Horrifying reality it is for a soul not to possess supernatural faith, I wonder how many Catholics today consider such lack of supernatural faith a horrible evil for any soul?

Jesus continues the parable of the seed. There are people who open to the word of heavenly truth; the seed of faith falls upon the ground of their souls. These are the faithful of Christ, who actually receive the gift of faith. For some of them, however, that faith withers; it was never cultivated and nourished. They received it with joy for a time, but the life of faith and the very virtue of faith at the root of that life withered away because of troubles and persecutions. Still others received the seed of faith and saw it grow for a time, but the cares of life and the deceits of the world were like thorns that choked it to death. Jesus Himself thus tells us why people fall away from living, and fruitful faith.

These souls in whom the life of faith has practically died are the souls of which we speak when we speak of the enemies of Carmel and of contemplative life. They had received the gift of faith in baptism and were made children of God and of Holy Mother Church. But as their assaults on the Philadelphia Carmel and elsewhere have come to light, we realize the frightening truth about these poor souls. As one respondent to the tragedy in Philadelphia wrote, there is an “effective loss of faith,” a “loss of faith and supernatural vision,” at play here in their destructive operations.

This loss of faith is the key to understanding what is happening in Philadelphia. Confused, bewildered and scandalized Catholics are asking how people consecrated to the service of God and His Church, of whatever rank, condition or authority, could possibly be engaged in destroying what Christ established in the Church. The answer is as simple as it is sickening: these people in effect no longer believe the Catholic Faith, if they ever actively did.

Without divine and supernatural faith given to us by God we can neither please Him nor hope to save our souls. The enemies at work in Philadelphia are not ignorant of this truth. Like the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they are not content with losing Heaven themselves. If they cannot enter Heaven, they will strive that we ourselves will never enter the heavenly kingdom to behold the Face of God. With diabolical jealousy, they must work assiduously so that faithful Catholics grow lax in their Catholic lives, weary of the struggle to remain faithful, fall away from the Faith and abandon the Church.

These same enemies know another truth as well, namely, that without the outward manifestations of our Catholic Faith, we cannot hope to maintain our supernatural relationship to God. This is why the loss of the Carmel in Philadelphia is of such great importance. We are not speaking of the Philadelphia Carmel as an isolated individual monastery or as a mere building of mortar and stone. We are speaking of an institution which is a profound manifestation of our Catholic Faith and a means by which our Catholic lives are nourished. To lose Carmel is to lose another support for Catholic life in a hostile world, a world whose prince is Satan, and for which Christ has not prayed.

To shrug our shoulders with an air of indifference, helplessness or despair in the face of sad reality in Catholic Philadelphia is to allow the Carmel in Philadelphia to be taken from us, to be lost to the defiled hands of the enemies of Christ and His Church. To allow it to be lost would be an implicit admission that no outward manifestations of our Catholic Faith are worth saving; they are neither important nor necessary for our lives in this world, nor are they profitable for our eternal salvation.

Who will oppose the juggernaut of the ascendant Antichurch? The popes before Vatican II strenuously opposed all the errors and evils which oppose the true Faith and morals and endanger man’s eternal salvation. They tirelessly condemned those errors and evils which undermine man’s true nature and his relationship with God via the true religion.

From the condemnation of freemasonry by Pope Clement XII in 1738 until the authoritative condemnations of false ecumenism at the twilight of the pontificate of Pius XII in 1958, the popes of the modern age zealously warned Catholics of the threats to their eternal welfare. Ironically because of this vigilance, many Catholics became so accustomed to the orthodoxy and fidelity of their leaders and superiors that they were lulled to sleep. Furthermore, the world began offering more and more comfort and convenience, unbridled liberties and enticing escapes from the harsh realities of life. People became distracted and unconcerned about the inevitable, the unavoidable confrontation with divine judgment and their own eternal fate at the moment of death.

When after the death of Pius XII in 1958 the enemies of Christ within the Church began to come out of the shadows and gain the ascendancy in the structures of the Church, especially with the hijacking of the Second Vatican Council, faithful Catholics—good bishops, priests, religious and laity—were unprepared to resist the ecclesial revolution unfolding before their eyes. They could not imagine the usurping and abuse of authority that would create a parasitic Antichurch, the ape of the true Church of God (as Bishop Sheen prophetically called it and as Anne Catherine Emmerich foresaw). Yet, here it is in 2022, claiming to be the Roman Catholic Church in order to deceive faithful Catholics, even the elect if possible.

This is the church of no faith, or anti-Faith, to speak more precisely. Its eager and zealous devotees are the authors of destruction in Philadelphia and throughout the Church today. Once we accept this fact, we can see more clearly what is happening to the Philadelphia Carmel and why. Please God, we who love our Faith and all that is a manifestation and support of Catholic life will understand and oppose our enemies for the love of Jesus Christ.

Jesus asked; “Will I find faith?” May He find it in us, at His return or our return to Him at death. May He find in us the light of Faith shining brightly and our hands filled with the good works of faith He has wrought in and through us. Whether we succeed or fail on the battleground of the Philadelphia Carmel, we wish only to fight for Jesus and His Church as they deserve, so that we may hear from His own lips at life’s end an answer to His question: “Yes, I have found faith! Well done, good and faithful servant.”

By their fruits ye shall know them

Those who are engineering the destruction of the Carmelite monastery of Philadelphia are doing an evil deed. While it is true that we cannot know with absolute certainty the state of their souls, we can know what kind of people they are.

The great evil taking place in Philadelphia is not that those in positions of influence and authority are sitting back and doing nothing to prevent a tragedy. That would be bad enough. Yet this was their implicit and disingenuous claim. Please recall that in the days following the April 2021 departure of the Philadelphia Carmelite nuns for Nebraska, the Archbishop of Philadelphia claimed through his communications director that the archdiocese had no influence whatsoever in this sad turn of events. Not so.

No, indeed. What is worse here is that people of influence and authority, who could have done well by Carmel, have done just the opposite. They are actively involved in the destruction of the Philadelphia Carmel. Such are their shenanigans in the material realm.

But let’s look at this in the more profound spiritual realm. These destroyers are ultimately stealing bread from from the mouths of their starving spiritual children. Are we to pretend that their actions can be excused or ignored, as though their positions give them carte blanche to do whatsoever they wish? Are we to conclude that as they commit objectively grave evil we must nevertheless consider them to be pure as the driven snow? Let us not call evil good or good evil. We have been warned by the Infallible word of Holy Scripture that such perverse inversion of reality would mark the latter days of mankind. Men shall assert that evil is good and that good is evil.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the latter days. After all, there are those who would insist that the representatives of Christ, who act or claim to act in His name or with His authority, cannot possibly do something evil. They would look upon the actions of the destroyers of Carmel as something benign, something good. I know such a scenario is difficult to imagine, but I never cease to marvel at the number of Catholics who stare evil in the face and do not or will not recognize it. Nay, how many heartily approve and endorse it! American politics, anyone? But I digress.

The reality is otherwise. The destroyers of the Philadelphia Carmel may appear to be spotless in the eyes of some, but their own actions betray them. They are, in the words of Jesus, whited sepulchers filled with dead men’s bones. Dead to what is truly good. Dead to the voices of their own people.

Jesus has said about them even more. By their fruits you shall know them. The destruction of the Carmel they are currently accomplishing in Philadelphia is an evil fruit. What does this say about them whose fruit this is, whose work this is?

From all evil, Jesus, deliver us! Have mercy on us, lest we perish at the hands of evildoers!

AUXILIUM MEUM A DOMINO

Editor’s note: This article was updated on November 22 to include additional reflections from the priest who wished to remain anonymous.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.

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