In his General Wednesday Audience of 1 September 2021, Pope Francis spoke about the second chapter of Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, you know, about the precept of circumcision first given to Abraham. For twenty five years Abraham was not our Father in Faith, disbelieving all that time that God could give him his own son with his own wife. Then Isaac happened, and later the angel staying his arm. Abraham became a believer. But in punishment for all those years of unbelieving, of laughing at God’s promise of life, Abraham and those of the family of faith after him would have to undergo a pedagogical punishment reminding them to be open to life, a painful, graphic, disgusting punishment: circumcision. This was meant to be an occasion with which, and with God’s grace, that they could assent to having a humble, contrite heart, having their hearts circumcised, as St Paul puts it.That pedagogy of circumcision was valid only until the time when the Messiah, the Divine Son of the Living God, the God of Life, would come among us and lay down His life for us Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Jesus Himself was circumcised as a babe and then also His heart when the soldier thrust his sword into that Sacred Heart, when the very Temple was circumcised, the veil of the Holy of Holies being torn from top to bottom by the angels.
That God is the God of Life is never more evident than when the Messiah dies on the cross undergoing a painful, graphic, disgustingly brutal punishment, paying the price of our sin from Adam until the last man is conceived. Nothing can teach us better about punishment for sin, about the aptness of contrition for sin. To insist on disgusting mere circumcision as a better sign than Jesus Himself on the Cross – and then rising from the dead – is blasphemy, condemning those who do this.
Insisting on circumcision is exactly what Peter does, after the death and resurrection of the Lord:
- “When Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” (Galatians 2:11)
“Condemned…” Quite the strong language, that: ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν. But Peter had flipped, uselessly, hypocritically siding with those insisting on circumcision despite the Lamb of God already having been sacrificed for us so as to bring us to life. His political correctness stood condemned? “He stood condemned.” Paul reprimanded Peter as an act of charity for Peter and the whole Church, and also to save his own soul. These days, with soft ecclesiastics brutally criticizing all criticism, even Paul’s act of charity in this reprimand of Peter is rejected with the attitude that we are never to help each other to stay on the right path. That “Be soft!” attitude is execrated by so many bishops right around the world, as if they wanted us all to go to hell and go there with us.
Distinctions, distinctions! Circumcision, though a precept the breaking of which would cut one off from the family of faith, is, however, not similar to the Ten Commandments. Circumcision, as mentioned above, was a mere pedagogical and merely temporary precept, however obligatory at the time, while the Ten Commandments are instead essentially reflective of our obligations before God and neighbor and those commandments are always in force for us as creatures of our Creator.
- Any blurring of the lines here between commandments and a temporary precept is gravely misleading.
- But also, any blurring of the lines is not meant to raise circumcision to the level of an always-valid-commandment, but rather to lower the Ten Commandments to the level of a merely passing precepts like circumcision, which had to give way to fulfillment with the God of Life hanging from the cross. There it is. Bam.
Here’s the deal: Francis speaks of not being scrupulous about precepts. But a Catholic must scrupulously reject circumcision if circumcision is chosen against belief in the redemption wrought by Christ Jesus.
But Francis is not concerned in the least with circumcision. Francis wants to draw an analogy with our own times with other… um… mere precepts?… mere commandments?… mere laws of praying and believing?… Lex orandi lex credendi?… Here’s just a minute of that:
See the transcript here: POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE Wednesday, 1st September 2021 Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 7. Foolish Galatians Note that I’ve changed the translation. Whoever it is translating didn’t like to use the word “rigidity”, but that’s what Francis said repeatedly. That word “rigidity” is a technical word for him. He uses it against those who give religious assent to correct doctrine and correct morality and rejoice when the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus is offered with reverence and humility and joy and no idol worship. With real anger in his voice he condemns such RIGIDITY. Here’s the core paragraph:
- “In this way, Saint Paul invites us too to reflect: how do we live our faith? Does the love of Christ, crucified and risen again, remain at the centre of our daily life as the wellspring of salvation, or are we content with a few religious formalities to salve our consciences? [This doesn’t seem to refer to, say, Amoris laetitia, but rather to the Liturgy.] How do we live our faith? Are we attached to the precious treasure, to the beauty of the newness of Christ, or do we prefer something that attracts us momentarily but then leaves us empty inside? [He wouldn’t be saying that the Sacrifice of Jesus does that, would he?] The ephemeral often knocks at the door during our days, but it is a sad illusion, which makes us give in to superficiality and prevents us from discerning what is truly worth living for. [Is that a reference to Genesis 4:7?] Brothers and sisters, let us however keep the certainty that, even when we are tempted to turn away, God still continues to bestow His gifts. Throughout history, even today, things happen that resemble what happened to the Galatians. Even today, people come and harangue us, saying, “No! Holiness is in these precepts, in these things, you must do this and that”, and propose a rigid religiosity, rigidity that takes away from us that freedom in the Spirit that Christ’s redemption gives us. Beware of the rigidity they propose to you: be careful. Because behind every rigidity there is something ugly, which is not the Spirit of God. [Yep. This seems to be about the Liturgy, specifically those who love the TLM. They are all monsters who are against Christ and against the Holy Spirit. These words of his are pretty much verbatim to his continuous condemnations of religious communities and seminaries and seminarians and priests and bishops who simply love the TLM.] And for this reason, this Letter [to the Galatians] will help us not to listen to these somewhat fundamentalist proposals that set us back in our spiritual life, and will help us go ahead in the paschal vocation of Jesus. [Because the TLM, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, specifically thwarts progress in the spiritual life and removes us from the paschal vocation of Jesus?] […]”
It would be bad enough if Francis were to equivocate the precept of circumcision and the Ten Commandments, but here he equivocated a temporary pedagogical precept of circumcision with the Traditional Latin Mass, not to bring circumcision up to the level of the Holy Sacrifice of Christ Jesus, but to lower that Law of Prayer to the level of that which can be fulfilled, surpassed. That is the heart and soul of Traditionis custodes. The Sacrifice of Jesus and the faith that went with it – doctrine and morality – is old, dead, forgotten, a hindrance, the enemy of all that is good and holy, ugly and, most of all, RIGID.
It would make it a lot easier to put up with all the insults from Pope Francis if bishops were to not be so scrupulous and would go ahead and make use of Canon Law 87. Hey! There’s an idea to fulfill the wish of Pope Francis that none of us be rigid!
Anyway, too much information, but not really: It was my family practice to have males circumcised right quickly after birth, meaning that yours truly is circumcised. And while I carry that pedagogical sign of punishment of unbelief in my body, it is my wish that circumcision of the heart – as Saint Paul says – would also be mine. Mind you, that would involve quite the solidarity of my heart with the Heart of Christ Jesus. His Sacred Heart was cut up by the sword of the soldier whilst He was yet on the Cross. We will all look on Him whom we have all pierced through. Cor ad Cor loquitur. Cor cum Cordis loquitur. Our hearts are restless until…
Unity with Christ is never out of date, and while His love and truth is ever ancient, it is also ever new. No one denies this. Everyone rejoices in this. We are happy to receive absolution of real sin. We are happy to witness to Christ regardless of the cost, you know, all that parrhresia.