some reflections on one aspect of the mystery of the Passion by Mgr. R. Williamson
Recent events in Catholic Tradition have reminded us how easy it is to fall away from the truth, and how especially seductive is the corruption presently devastating the Catholic Church. We can hardly come back too often to take its measure.
In "The Keys of This Blood" (1990), the late Malachi Martin wrote a fascinating chapter entitled "The Judas Complex", in which he compared the fall of the Catholic churchmen into the Newchurch of Vatican II with the fall of Judas Iscariot. The comparison may seem violent at first sight. Surely even the Newchurchmen are not as wicked as that? But then Judas did not start out that wicked either... Let us, for Lent, reflect on the terrible figure of the Apostle who betrayed, in the hope of course that such reflection will help ourselves not to betray. Let us begin with what is of Faith in the Gospels, fill out the picture with a 20th century elaboration of the Gospels, and conclude with a brief application to the Newchurchmen, along the lines laid out by Malachi Martin.
Understandably, the Gospels tell us little of the Apostle who turned traitor. Before the Passion, they tell us almost nothing of the Apostle listed twelfth (eg. Mt X, 4), except that he had betrayed his function as bursar of the Apostles by stealing, a detail mentioned by St. John to help explain Judas' begrudging the expensive ointment poured out on Our Lord by Mary Magdalene a few days before the Passion (Jn XII, 2-6). Perhaps Our Lord's gentle rebuke on this occasion (Mt XXVI, 10-13) was what finally drove Judas to hand Our Lord over to the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver (Mt XXVI, 14-16). Then Judas' pretended innocence at the Last Supper, and early departure; the treacherous kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his subsequent despair; his flinging back the blood-money at the contemptuous chief priests, and his terrible suicide - all these details are well-known from the Gospel narrative. But how did Judas come to this? The Gospels hardly say.
However, from the moment we begin to reflect on the drama of Judas, one shattering truth breaks through: the reality of free-will. Jesus, foreknowing infallibly and from eternity that Judas would betray him, could not possibly have accepted him amongst the Apostles with their correspondingly huger graces and responsibilities unless Judas had been genuinely free for all three years of his apostleship to convert, had he wanted to - But he did not, finally, want to.
This great truth is underlined again and again in the full-length portrait of Judas given in Maria Valtorta's "Poem of the Man-God". This - in English - five-volume life of Our Lord, based on visions supposedly given by Our Lord himself to a bed-ridden Italian woman during the Second World War, is much controverted. But in our time of all-round and on-going betrayal of the Catholic Church, who can dispute the reasonableness of the last of the seven reasons given supposedly by Our Lord for his granting this panorama of his life to mankind in mid-20th century? - "To acquaint you with the mystery of the fall of a soul upon which God had bestowed extraordinary benefits... to acquaint you with the process by which servants and sons of God fall, changing into devils and deicides, killing the God who is within them by killing grace... Apply yourselves to studying the horrible but all too common figure of Judas, a knot tying together, like twisting snakes, all seven capital vices... how many people, in all walks of life, imitate Judas by giving themselves over to Satan and hurtling to their eternal death!" Judge for yourselves the authenticity of the portrait of Judas Iscariot as presented in the "Poem of the Man-God": -
He is presented as an intelligent and talented young man, but proud, complicated, sensual and worldly. He recognizes Jesus' outstanding qualities, correctly discerns in him Israel's King and Messiah, and begs repeatedly to be accepted as an Apostle so that he will share in the triumph of Christ the King. Again and again Jesus warns Judas that this kingdom will be spiritual and not political. Outwardly Judas accepts this disclaimer, but inwardly he never renounces his own ideas. Jesus, knowing that the Apostleship may be Judas's best - or only - hope of conversion and salvation, gives way to Judas' insistence on becoming an Apostle.
Through the following three years, Judas is by no means always evil. Patiently instructed by Our Lord, there are moments when he sees himself as he really is, weeps over his own hardness of heart and genuinely tries to be better. Alas, these moments pass, and by shameless lying in particular, he works his way regularly back to the world, the flesh - and the Devil.
His falls get progressively worse. Finally he has himself convinced that Jesus is a mere man, and that the Temple authorities are right to want him out of the way. Our Lord leaves him free to make his own appalling choice, but in the hope of preventing Judas' terrible damnation, covers for him to the very last moment, in Gethsemane, a moment known to us from the Gospels: "Friend" (friend!!), "whereto art thou come?" To the traitor on the very brink of the abyss, the Sacred Heart still gently appeals!
The portrait in the "Poem" of Judas from Gethsemane to his death, is truly harrowing, but corresponds to what we know with certainty from Scripture - Mt XXVII, 3-10, and Acts l, 16-20. Still we ask, how could somebody so close to Jesus for so long have come to such an end? Malachi Martin makes a fascinating analysis when he compares Judas with the Newchurchmen in "The Keys of This Blood" (pp. 660-676). Here is how: -
Judas began serving Our Lord with the best of intentions, and received great graces. He had no desire to leave Jesus, in fact he resolutely stayed with him each time Our Lord left him perfectly free to depart. Similarly Newchurchmen no doubt began their vocations well, received many graces and loved Our Lord. Nor, like Judas, do they mean to leave Him or to destroy His Church - they only want to fit Our Lord to the world according to their own ideas.
For indeed Judas truly hoped for the kingship of Jesus, with a major role for himself in the future kingdom. But Jesus would keep on refusing political power, he would insist on clashing with the Temple authorities, he would not stop acting in an unworldly way. Now if only he would listen to Judas who got along with those authorities and understood the ways of the world, then a decent compromise could have lead to an enormous success of Jesus' kingdom, powered jointly by Jesus' extraordinary gifts and the Temple's worldly clout.
Similarly the Newchurchmen really wish for the Catholic Church to triumph, with a major part for themselves to play in the New World Order. But Catholic Tradition is uninterested, in fact it insists on condemning the modern world and its Judeo-masonic masters. If only Catholics would listen to the Newchurchmen who understand the modern world, if only all Catholics would agree to an up-dating of Tradition, then a decent compromise could lead to the Church's worldwide success, powered jointly by the force of Tradition and the ideals of the Revolution.
Finally Judas is so disillusioned with Jesus' unworldliness that he ceases to believe Jesus is God. And since Jesus insists on wasting his gifts on an unreal kingdom highly disturbing to the normal, and practical, Temple authorities, then best let them deal with him. Similarly the pre-Council Churchmen were so tired of the failure of the pre-Conciliar Church to get through to the modern world that they ceased to believe in the divine origin of Catholic Tradition. And since that Tradition was nothing but an obstacle in the way of the admirable modern world, then best if an ecumenical Council would turn Tradition over to the world. Hence the historic compromise of Vatican II, a Judas betrayal, a tissue of ambiguities mixing Our Lord with his enemies who run the modern world, and putting him into their power.
Therefore the Newchurchmen are, objectively, Judases, however sincere or well-intentioned they may be. In fact they are crusading Judases, because they have themselves convinced that their Newchurch will save both Church and world. That is why they not only firmly believe in compromising Catholic Tradition with the world, but also they are set upon pulling what remains of Tradition into their compromise. That is why the SSPX both refused the recent approaches of "Rome" to draw it into the Newchurch, and must prepare to resist any more such approaches.
This situation is bound to continue until the Newchurchmen abandon their (objective) Judas compromise with the world, and return to Catholic Tradition. On that day they will have once more a huge problem with the same old wicked world, but at least they will be true churchmen again. And a clear sign of their return to sanity will be that they have no more problem with Catholic Tradition, not even with the SSPX!
May God grant us all to be faithful until that day.