Now the content of Faith is immutable and infallible, and, as the First Vatican Council teaches, can develop through the centuries only in the clarity and profundity of its expression. In recent years, however, we have observed how doctrines have been insinuated into the Magisterium which constitute neither a clarification nor a deeper understanding of the Faith, but rather new doctrines: heretical in character, either actually or tendentially, according to the deadly agenda of Modernism.
What we would like to ask now with regard to these doctrines, is whether they represent mere distortions or falsifications of the respective articles of Faith, or whether, together with the New Rite of Mass, the New Rites of all the sacraments, the New Code of Canon Law, the New Breviary, the New Catechism, the New Evangelization, the new morality and spirituality lived and preached by the clergy, the new relaxed Church discipline (in the rules of the religious orders and the dress of the clergy) they form as a whole a New Religion altogether.
In our discussion of the new marital teaching of the Church’s Magisterium in our work ‘Family under Attack’ we offered an answer to this question in terms of Gnosis. The aim of the present essay is to expound that answer in further detail. The essay falls into the following parts:
I Gnosis at the Beginning of Time;
II Gnosis in the Perverted Càbala;
III Gnosis as the New Religion.
Postscript on Gnosis in the World of To-day.
I wish to thank Francesca Romana for her kindness and tireless efforts in translating this essay.
GNOSIS AT THE BEGINNING OF TIME
The great Argentinean theologian Don Julio Meinvielle, writes: “Throughout human history there have been two fundamental ways of thinking and living: one is Catholic and it is the Tradition received from God, through Adam, Moses and Jesus Christ: the other is Gnostic and Cabalistic which nourishes the error of all peoples, in paganism and apostasy, first in Judaism and then in Christianity itself.”
The first of these great systems of thought and life is, then, the Catholic Faith (including its pre-Christian phase), and the second is Gnosis. The former is the one true Faith and Religion. The latter, inasmuch as it constitutes a coherent body of doctrines and is widespread, inasmuch as in the final analysis it is atheist and in its essence antagonistic to the one true Religion, can be described as an Anti-Religion, or as the Anti-Religion par excellence.
How should we define Gnosis? The word ‘gnosis’ comes from Greek and means ‘knowledge’. As we shall later see, this knowledge is understood as a form of arcane knowledge directed towards the self-deification of man.
Gnosis, the perennial rival of the Catholic Faith, was first manifest amongst men in the event known as Original Sin. We proceed to meditate on this primordial event as recounted in the book of Genesis.
‘Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death. For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil. And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons.’
The event here described, that of Original Sin, has always been understood and taught by Holy Mother Church as a real event on the part of the first human couple, Adam and Eve. It was a sin of pride and disobedience to God, caused by the seduction of the Devil in the form of a serpent: an action which, inasmuch as it was performed by the representatives of the whole of mankind, brought about harm not only to them but also to all of mankind. This event at the same time constitutes the paradigm of Gnosis.
First of all we observe that Gnosis is based on the negation of Divine Revelation, on the negation of the Word of God, namely, that death will be the consequence of eating of the forbidden fruit. For this reason it may be described as heretical, even if it is not heretical in the typical and formal sense of denying a dogma of the Faith.
Let us proceed to examine the Gnosis system in the light of the Catholic Faith: first in its theology, then in the knowledge that it purports to offer to man, and finally in its morality.
1) Gnostic Theology
The principal characteristic of Gnostic theology is Monism. The reason for this is simple: if man can become God through his own efforts, man must share in the nature of God: man and God must possess a single nature, differentiated only according to the degree and perfection of that nature.
Gnostic theology is monistic; Catholic theology, by contrast, is dualistic, teaching that man and God possess two different natures: a human nature and a divine nature. These two natures are not differentiated only and essentially according to their degree of perfection, but rather in their ontological diversity.
We see further that the principal characteristic of Gnosis, namely Monism, includes another characteristic – immanence – for if man and God possess the same nature, if they are not distinct in their nature, then God must be immanent to man.
By contrast, Catholic philosophy and theology teach that God is transcendent to man, and indeed to the whole universe: philosophy teaches that He is absolutely above and beyond the universe: absolutely independent from it; theology teaches the same on the basis of the dogma professed in the Creed that God is Creator and Judge of the world: He, Who created the world through a perfectly free act of the will, and is also its Master and Judge, is necessarily absolutely independent of it.
Another characteristic of Gnostic theology is the mutability of God. According to Gnosis man becomes God, so that in a certain sense God Himself is in the process of becoming, which means that there is a certain movement and mutability in God.
Catholic philosophy and theology on the other hand, teach that in God there is neither mutability, nor movement, nor change, since God is Being itself, the fullness of being, Pure Act in Whom everything is actualized.
In conclusion, then, we see three errors in Gnostic theology as already expressed in the book of Genesis Monism in contrast to Dualism; absolute immanence in contrast to transcendence; mutability in contrast to the immutability of God, Pure Act.
We observe in relation to the second point, that the doctrine of God’s absolute immanence is logically unsustainable. This is because the concept of God, deepened by theological refection, is a concept of a Being necessarily transcendent to the world. If we deny the transcendence of God, by positing that He is solely immanent to the world, we effectively deny His very existence. The same is true for the other theological errors of Gnosis: the Monism between God and man and the mutability of God.
2) Gnostic Knowledge
As regards the type of knowledge by which Gnosis claims to deify man, we may make the following remarks:
- i) The knowledge to which the passage from Genesis refers is of two types: the first type is the knowledge of how to be deified, the knowledge of a means to an end: that is to say the knowledge of a particular practice; the second type of knowledge is the end proposed to Adam and Eve: that is to say, the Knowledge of Good and Evil;
- ii) The knowledge (in both cases) is purely natural;
iii) It is detached from the will: it is not directed towards the exercise of the will or any action;
- iv) It is sought for pleasure, above all for sensual pleasure: ‘The tree was good to eat, delightful to the eyes, and knowledge of it desirable.’
- v) It is arcane: it is not accessible to everyone, but hidden, indeed intentionally hidden by God, so they claim, for His own questionable motives.
Let us compare this knowledge offered to our first parents by the Devil with the knowledge of God offered to man by the Catholic Religion.
- i) The knowledge of God offered to man by the Catholic Religion is also of two types: the first type is the Faith itself which is a means to reach the final end of man in Heaven; the second is the Beatific Vision, which constitutes that final end. The knowledge of God in both cases is the knowledge of the Most Blessed Trinity, a knowledge which is therefore infinitely superior to that offered to Adam and Eve.
- ii) This knowledge is supernatural knowledge: an illumination of the intellect by means of Grace and Glory respectively; whereas, as we have already said, the knowledge offered to Adam and Eve is of the purely natural order;
iii) Furthermore, the knowledge of God is directed to the exercise of the will in Charity: to perform one’s every action and to lead one’s whole life for the love of God during this earthly exile, and at its end to rest and delight in God in Heaven;
- iv) Pleasure is not the reason for seeking knowledge, but is the consequence of having acted according to this knowledge by living a virtuous life;
- v) Finally, the knowledge of God in this life, that is to say the Faith, is not arcane, nor hidden by God, but revealed to man, with the mandate of proclaiming it to the entire world.
In conclusion then, we see that Gnostic knowledge is nothing more than a pale shadow, a deceitful surrogate, of the true knowledge of God: its object is not the Most Blessed Trinity, its mode is not supernatural; it is divorced from good works, sought for pleasure, and falsely presented as the True Good.
3) Gnostic Morality
Let us finally examine Gnostic morality as it is manifest in the passage from Genesis, comparing it to Catholic moral theology.
- i) We have defined Gnosis as a system of self-deification. As such it stands in opposition to Christianity which teaches that the deification of man proceeds from God alone;
- ii) The former type of deification consists in man’s transformation into God by losing his identity, the latter in his participation in God while keeping his identity;
iii) In the former man makes himself God: without God, in place of God and in spite of God, (St. Maximus the Confessor in reference to Original Sin); in the second man is deified by humbling himself before God;
- iv) The former comes about through natural efforts; the latter through God’s supernatural Grace;
- v) The former is a form of self-determination; the latter a determination effected by God;
- vi) The former originates in natural knowledge, and, as is the case for all natural knowledge, is mastered and dominated by the subject and absorbed in him; the latter originates in supernatural knowledge to which the object must subject himself, by sacrificing his intellect to absolute Truth;
vii) The Gnostic type of knowledge, as we have said, is divorced from good works; the Catholic type of knowledge is essentially directed towards them;
viii) The former is motivated by pleasure, the latter by love;
- ix) The former is accessible only to an élite, the latter to all men.
In synthesis, the former is characterized by pride and egoism; the latter by humility and sacrifice. In short, it can be said that Gnosis is Egoism elevated to the status of a Religion.
Gnosis enables man to be like God in one sense, that is in the exercise of his free will to do whatever he desires, but at the cost of eternal beatitude. The Catholic Faith on the other hand, enables man to become like God in the exercise of his free will in harmony with the order established by God: the order of the objective True and Good, with the purpose of knowing and loving God here on earth and afterwards in Paradise.
In the Garden of Eden there are two trees: the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. To eat of the first tree pride is necessary, to eat of the second, sacrifice. The first represents Gnosis, the perennial rival of the Catholic Faith; the second represents the Faith: For the second is the Tree of the Cross, the fruits of which are all God’s graces and blessings here on earth and the eternal joys of Heaven. To gain possession of these, however, it is necessary to pass through suffering and sacrifice, by taking up the Cross and carrying it behind Our Blessed Lord, to Whom be every Honour and Glory forever and ever. Amen.
GNOSIS IN THE PERVERTED CABALA
We said that Gnosis was seen amongst men for the first time in Original Sin.
Before continuing however, we wish to observe that it was manifest even before, in the Fall of the Angels. For since the essence of a thing is determined by its ultimate end, we may identify the essence of Gnosis as the attempt on the part of the creature to deify himself. This, however, had already occurred with the rebellion of the angels. Lucifer and the other angels wanted to make themselves God, that is to say without God: by their own unaided and natural efforts. The consequence was their fall and their transformation from angels into devils.
‘Quis ut Deus?‘ replied St. Michael the Archangel, since no-one in fact is like God, but this was precisely Lucifer’s claim: to be like God, and it is the same claim that he later proposed to Adam and Eve.
Gnosis goes back, then, in its essence, to the first moments of the universe, to the first free act of rational creatures. From here it has developed through the course of the centuries, assuming ever more ample theological and moral proportions. It takes different paths according to the religions and nations which it visits: be it Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism; be it the Persian nation, the Egyptian nation, and so on.
We will focus on the Jewish Religion, considering, with Don Julio Meinvielle, that this is the most influential form of Gnosis in the modern world.
Now, the Jewish Gnosis is a perversion of the Cabala. The Cabala, before its perversion, constituted the oral tradition of the Old Testament. The authentic Jewish Faith, which became the Catholic Faith with the Advent of the Lord, had a twofold tradition: a written tradition and an oral tradition, precisely as the Catholic Faith.
The oral tradition, that is to say the primordial Cabala, taught men the fundamental truths of nature and Grace necessary for salvation; it spoke of the nature of God and His attributes, of pure spirits and the invisible universe; it even contained teachings about the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of Our Lord before His Advent into this world.
This sublime and mystical Tradition however, underwent a process of perversion under the influence of Egyptian Gnosis. Egyptian Gnosis dates back three thousand years prior to the coming of the Lord, and thence, of course, to the very beginning of time. The perversion occurred during the exile of the Jewish people in Egypt in the 14th century before Christ, and then in Babylon in the 6th century B.C. in an even more damaging way.
A part of this influence consisted in magic practices, and a part in false doctrines. The false doctrines were negations of Divine Revelation as contained in the pre-Christian Jewish Faith, and may thus, as we noted in the first section, be considered as heresies sensu lato. These errors insinuated themselves into the Jewish oral tradition and represent a development of central Gnostic doctrines.
The doctrines that we wish to examine now are two:
1) The transformation of man into God;
2) The Monism between God and man.
We will look at these two doctrines in their various developments, first in the light of the Faith, then in the light of reason.
- The Transformation of Man into God
The doctrine of the transformation of man into God is elaborated as a process of evolution, and includes the following elements:
1) The Emergence of God, the World and Man from Nothing 2) Reincarnation;
3) The Gradual Fulfilment and Realization of God and Man
1) The Emergence of God, the World and Man from Nothing
The Faith teaches us that God exists eternally and has no beginning in time. It teaches us likewise that the world and man did not come into existence of themselves, but that God created and made them from nothing, ex nihilo: yet not from nothing as from a pre-existing substance, but from nothing in the sense that there was in fact no pre-existing substance.
Moreover, reason teaches that nothing can come out of nothing, as nothing, by definition, does not exist.
In the Letter to the Hebrews we read (9.27): ‘It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment’. The Faith teaches us in addition that the human soul is capable of positive development, but not by means of repeated reincarnations, but by the work of moral perfection and sanctification.
Reason teaches that reincarnation is impossible since every human soul is the principle of its own human body: the human soul cannot inform a non-human body, and cannot inform a human body that is not its own.
3) The Gradual Fulfilment and Realization of God and Man
The Faith teaches that God is immutable and does not change. St. James writes (1. 16-17): ‘Do not err, therefore, my dearest brethren. Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration’.
Reason tells us, besides, that God, as we have said above, is transcendent and immutable by definition. If something changes in man, it is not God.
We add a last logical criticism, which is valid for all three of these evolutionist doctrines, that is: the greater cannot derive from the lesser: substance cannot proceed from nothing; God cannot proceed from man; the soul cannot purify itself by itself in the course of successive lives.
The Monism between God and man is elaborated in the direction of three distinct forms of monism:
1) An ontological Monism between God and the universe, where the universe is considered in a certain sense as divine: a Pantheistic doctrine;
2) A moral Monism where good and evil are considered as integral parts of a greater reality, which allows of no real principle of distinction between them. This moral monism is considered in the final analysis as God Himself;
3) A logical Monism in which even Truth and Falsehood are reconciled with each other.
1) Monism between God and the Universe (Pantheism).
We reply to this error as we have replied to the error of Monism between God and Man. The Faith teaches that God is Creator: Credo in unum Deum, creatorem coeli et terrae. God is therefore entirely independent of the universe, which He created with a free act of will. It did not emanate from Him according to His nature; it did not come into existence necessarily.
Furthermore Reason teaches us that the concept of God is a concept of an essentially transcendent Being.
2) Moral Monism
Moral Monism is in effect conceived as the thesis that good and evil are one single thing and that evil exists in God.
The Faith teaches us by contrast that good and evil are distinct principles opposed to each other; that by adhering to the good man is saved, and by adhering to evil he is damned.
The Faith teaches equally that God is infinitely good, the Father of Lights, Who, to cite St. James once more (1.13): ‘is not a tempter of evils, and He tempteth no man’.
Reason, in accord with the doctrine of St. Thomas, teaches us that good and evil do not form one single entity, inasmuch as the Good is Being itself, and evil is the privation of Good: that is the privation of a good that is due to it. Evil is not in God, inasmuch as God is infinitely and necessarily good. As we have said of the other perfections of God, so we can say about His goodness: if He is not good, then He is not God.
3) Logical Monism
Logical Monism claims that the true and the false also constitute one single reality. Gnosis holds this, for example, in its syncretism, maintaining that all religions and philosophies are equal.
Faith teaches us by contrast, that True and False are opposites, and the Lord says (Mt. 5.37): ‘But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil’.
Reason affirms that the false is a negation of the true. As Aristotle says, it is impossible for the same thing, at the same time and in the same way, to be true and false. This is the principle of non-contradiction, one of the first principles of thought and metaphysics. If we renounce these first principles, we renounce rationality itself and the very possibility of understanding and explaining anything at all.
Don Julio Meinvielle holds that the absurdity of Logical Monism – that True and False form one single reality – is the consequence of the absurd Gnostic thesis that the world, man, and God emerge from nothing.
We would say, rather, that it corresponds to all of the absurdities taught by Gnosis: emergence from nothing, reincarnation, the development of God within the world, Pantheism, the so-called reconciliation between good and evil. In the final analysis Logical Monism is a result of the fundamental thesis of Gnosis: that man can become God. The irrationality of this thesis results from the rebellion of the will against the Truth. The thesis is in fact nothing other than the ultimate expression of that rebellion.
GNOSIS AS THE NEW RELIGION
If we are indeed standing face to face with a New Religion, our next question must be, what is its nature? Before examining it in the murky light of Gnosis, we may ask whether it is simply a new form of Protestantism, Humanism, or Atheism. Certainly the Catholic Faith, as it is presented to-day, bears a certain likeness to each of these systems. But this likeness, we suggest, derives not from a principle peculiar to any one of these systems, but rather from a principle which all these systems share, namely that of subjectivism.
Subjectivism, in the view of a number of modern scholars such Romano Amerio and Paul Hacker, is in fact the essential principle of Martin Luther’s theology, as it is equally of (anti-Christian) Humanism and Atheism – in the form of Anthropocentrism. And yet we must admit that the principle of subjectivism is even more clearly marked in Gnosis than in these three systems: for as we have already said, Gnosis is nothing other than Egoism elevated to the status of a Religion.
Now for the New Religion to qualify as a form of Gnosis it clearly must not only be characterized by subjectivism, but must also share a sufficient number of the qualities of the latter system that we have listed above. Looking closely at the New Religion in the light of Gnosis, we can see that the qualities that it shares with Gnosis are first and foremost the essential tenet of the latter which is the self-deification of man; then the central importance given to knowledge and sensuality; to the triple Monism; and finally to the principle of Evolution.
Before attempting to show this in detail, we make the brief historical observation that the perverted Cabala undergoes further development in the period following the birth of Christianity and later in the Middle Ages, culminating in the work of Mosè de Leon. It enters the Christian world with Ramon Lull, the Abbot Joachim di Fiore and Pico della Mirandola; in the modern world with Leibniz, Spinoza, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and lastly with the apostate Jesuit, Teilhard de Chardin.
1) The Self-Deification of Man
This thesis is manifest in the New Religion for example in the declaration that man is ‘ the only creature willed for himself’(Gaudium et Spes, a statement which Cardinal Schoenborn describes as the key for understanding the New Catechism of which he was Editor-in-chief); and that man (at least in marriage) is be loved with a love of ‘total self-giving’ (Familiaris Consortio). We point out that the self-deification in question is no longer considered a process to be undertaken, but as an act already accomplished.
The Self-Deification of Man in its widest extension may be described as Anthropocentric Idolatry, or as the all-consuming concern for man’s well-being, pleasure, and sensibilities. It constitutes a new and suffocating Humanism, where God is discarded and man put in His place. This new Humanism is indeed attaining the status of a genuine dogma in the mouths of the clergy and even of the Hierarchy; it is expressed in the liturgical abuses where the Sacred Mysteries are celebrated (in the words of Pope Benedict XVI) ‘as if God did not exist’.
The type of knowledge offered by the contemporary Church that recalls Gnosis is the knowledge of God by experience. The experience may take the form of a spiritual encounter with Our Lord Jesus Christ, as in the Charismatic movement, deriving from the Protestant enthusiastic tradition. Alternatively it may take the form of a sacramental encounter with ‘The Risen Lord’ considered as the very essence of the Holy Mass.
A difference between this type of knowledge and traditional Gnostic knowledge is that it is no longer arcane in character.
An important aspect of this knowledge of God is pleasure, or joy, recalling the pleasurable nature of Gnostic knowledge. In fact the Charismatic movement and the modern Church in general (under the influence of this movement), put considerable emphasis on joy. Indeed they view the Christian life in this light and find it difficult to endure or to understand it in the absence of joy.
This spiritual joyfulness is expressed in the more festive manifestations of modern Church music with its charged emotional content, its rousing volume and melodies, in stark contrast to the solemnity and sobriety of Gregorian chant and of the chant of the ancient Eastern rites, and to the profundity of the former in its spiritual joy, in the order and harmony which it infuses into the sufferings of the human heart, and in its ineffable nostalgia for the Heavenly homeland.
Let us look again at the phrase from Genesis: ‘The tree was good to eat, delightful to the eyes, and knowledge of it desirable’. The phrase describes the first movements of concupiscence on the part of Eve and refers not only to pleasurable knowledge, but also, and more generally, to sensual pleasure. In addition, this primordial encounter between the Woman and the Devil is traditionally taken as a symbol of the impurity to which the encounter will lead. Sensuality and impurity were indeed to become typical features of Gnosis in the millennia to follow.
We have already noted in our book ‘Family under Attack’ a contemporary shift in the Church’s central doctrine of love: from the supernatural love of Charity to the natural love of the senses – to affection, joy, sentimentality, and the sensibilities. In regard to marital ethics in particular, we have attempted to explain – in the most recent (German) edition of the book – how the Church Magisterium now presents the essence of marriage in effect as ‘sensual love absolutized’.
In the Bishops’ Synods on the Family, significant members of the Hierarchy were pleased to countenance extramarital cohabitation and unnatural unions. In the subsequent papal encyclical Amoris Laetitia, we observe, even in the title, a preoccupation with joy, and, in the body of the text (§298 with footnote 329), a move to relax Our Lord’s absolute prohibition and condemnation of adultery in favour of sensual love. Following closely on the heels of this document, leaflets were distributed on ‘World Youth Day’ in Poland by the Pontifical Commission for the Family replete with obscenity and Satanism. In short, a spirit of sensuality has entered into the mind of modern Churchmen reminiscent of the worst excesses of Catharism.
4) The Triple Monism
- a) Ontological Monism
The ontological Monism at issue here is the thesis that God and man share the same nature. This thesis, as we have shown above, is entailed by the self-deification of man by his own efforts. We observe this form of monism in the Church of to-day in the silencing of the doctrine of Grace, which is the only means of uniting the natural and supernatural worlds. Grace is no longer mentioned, and attention is focussed instead on an undefined, vague love as the key to Heaven.
One concrete example is the conceit that Our Lord Jesus Christ united Himself to every man through His Incarnation, understood as a redeeming act. Another example is the conceit that there are means of sanctification outside the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
- b) Moral Monism
Moral Monism inside the Church to-day consists in the attitude that any action whatsoever is morally good. The attitude is manifest in the silencing of the notion of sin (above all mortal sin) and of Hell. The faithful are no longer taught to go to confession, particularly after falling into mortal sin, nor to abstain from receiving Holy Communion in that state. A sin typically passed over in silence is that of impurity. This corresponds to the Gnostic predilection for sensuality and libertinism.
The same attitude (that every action is morally good) is manifest in the related attitude that all men will be saved since God is ‘Love’ or infinitely merciful (to the exclusion of His infinite Holiness and Justice).
- c) Logical Monism
Logical Monism claims that the True and the False co-exist. Assuming that the Traditional doctrines are true and the Modernist false, we see that Logical Monism obtains in the bosom of the Holy Catholic Church to-day: one parish priest professing doctrines such as Hell, Limbo, Purgatory, and another denying them; or as we have seen at the Synod of Bishops on Marriage, one Bishop sustaining Catholic doctrines on marriage, adultery, divorce, and Holy Communion, and another denying them.
Logical Monism not only obtains in the Church to-day, but it is also the official position of the contemporary Hierarchy, which considers both visions as valid and both as Catholic. Some members of the Hierarchy do indeed attempt to harmonize the visions by viewing one as the ‘continuation’ of the other, but of course the positions are in reality mutually exclusive, and it is clearly impossible to witness Truth becoming Falsehood, however long one waits.
Logical Monism implies contempt for objective truth. This contempt, in the case of the Faith, is the contempt, nowadays common, of the supernatural, immutable Truth which is Dogma.
As regards Dogma we may reply as follows:
- i) There is an objective reality;
- ii) God is that objective reality in an absolute and definitive sense;
iii) Faith is the knowledge of such a reality;
- iv) Faith does not give perfect knowledge of God, since only God can have perfect knowledge of Himself;
- v) Faith does, however, give certain knowledge of God: more certain indeed than the evidence of the senses;
- vi) The Church has the Divine mandate of teaching this reality, these realities, these truths, for the salvation of man: for the salvation of every man on earth;
vii) The exercise of this mandate enjoys infallibility;
viii) The truths that the Church teaches in this way are therefore infallible, and are known as ‘Dogmas’. He who denies a dogma puts himself outside the Church and is no longer Catholic.
The type of Gnostic evolution which is found in to-day’s Church is expressed in the attitude that the Truths of the Faith can change over time. An example is the attitude that the Church was the only Ark of Salvation in the past, but now no longer is. Most of the Hierarchy and Clergy, if they do not hold that traditional and modernistic doctrines somehow co-exist, seem to believe that the Truths of the Faith are mutable, or at least they act or preach is if that were the case.
We note that this attitude is only tenable if ‘Truth’ is considered on a par with scientific theory: as an endeavour to express ever more clearly an elusive reality; if it is understood in its normal, objective sense, then the attitude is clearly absurd.
We note that the Gnostic elements of the Self-deification of man, of the triple Monism, and of the thesis that Truth evolves over time may all be found in false, or non-Catholic, Ecumenism. We recall that Ecumenism has two senses: a Catholic and a non-Catholic sense. The Catholic sense is the initiative of converting all to the one true Faith. The non-Catholic sense is the initiative of promoting some spiritual or moral good, typically vague and indefinite, through meetings between Catholics and members of other Christian confessions or of other Religions. This attempt is syncretistic and, as such, typical of Gnosis, as we said above.
Non-Catholic Ecumenism seeks union among participants on the basis of what they hold in common. For this reason it neglects Grace, Catholic morality, and Catholic Truth in its integrity. In neglecting Grace, however, it favours Ontological Monism (Pantheism); in neglecting morality, it favours Moral Monism (the thesis that Good and Evil can co-exist); in neglecting Truth, it favours Logical Monism (the thesis that True and False can co-exist). Furthermore, in its exercise of ‘Dialogue’, understood as a never-ending search for the truth (devoid of the principle Iam satis est, as Romano Amerio observes), it expresses the attitude that truth can change over time. Finally, in not putting the One, True God at the centre of the meeting and of the World, it necessarily puts man in this place.
We conclude that The New Religion that we are confronted with to-day has sufficient features of Gnosis to be termed ‘Gnostic’. More precisely it may be termed ‘Neo-Gnosticism’, for Gnosticism is the name given to that mixture of Catholic and non-Catholic, Gnostic doctrines into which the Faith of the early Church was disintegrating, until it was saved by the Saints and the Doctors of the Church, and what we are seeing to-day is simply a new form of the same phenomenon.
Let us return to our initial reflections. There are two ways in which man may try to deify himself: by means of the Catholic Faith or by means of Gnosis.
The Catholic Faith teaches that man is divinized in this life through Our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, through Grace and the Sacraments, above all Baptism and the Holy Eucharist; not in virtue of magical practices, but by a good life; not by taking, but by giving; not by seeking oneself, but by seeking God; not by pride, but by humility; not by puffing oneself up, but by self-annihilation; not through evolution, but through moral progress; not through the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: a false, irrational, and phantasmagorical knowledge, but through the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life is the Tree of the Cross and its prolongation in the Holy Mass. This is the Tree that protects us from the heat of this cruel world under its sweet and peaceful shadow; which will nourish us with its sublime fruits in the Eternal Beatitude of Heaven: if we will but take up our cross and follow Our Lord, as He teaches us: by sharing in His sufferings on this earth, so as to share in His Glory in Heaven. Amen.
Laudetur Jesus Christus. In Aeternum. Amen.
GNOSIS IN THE WORLD OF TODAY
We shall in the following section examine Gnosis in the contemporary world as it flourishes outside the Church, first in atheism and then in the esoteric sects.
It is present in Atheism in three ways:
- a) inasmuch as Atheism, with its doctrine of evolution, holds that man has evolved from something less than himself or even from nothing;
- b) inasmuch as Atheism, with the same doctrine, implies that this principle from which man proceeds and in which he then dissolves, is at the same time a higher reality;
- c) inasmuch as Atheism, in denying God, effectively deifies man.
This type of Gnosis, which is Positive Atheism, is nurtured by modern philosophy, beginning with the anthropocentrism of Descartes and continuing with the various modern systems of materialism and idealism. It is nurtured equally by Buddhism, an atheistic system which holds that man proceeds from nothingness and then dissolves into nothingness, viewed, at the same time, as a higher reality (‘Nirvana’).
- The Esoteric Sects
The second type of Gnosis outside the Church is found in the esoteric sects: Satanism, Freemasonry, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, and the so-called New Age movement, which are to be considered as the legitimate heirs to Gnosis.
- a) Satanism
Satanism teaches doctrines already manifest in ancient Gnosis: Polytheism, and in particular the existence of two gods: one good and the other evil; the creation of the world by a Demiurge; the identification of him with the evil god. Over the course of the centuries the God of the Old Testament came to be identified with this evil god who wants man to suffer, whereas Satan was presented as the good god who wants to liberate man and make him happy. The moral principle of Satanism is: fac quod vis: do what you will.
Satanism exercises an important influence on the other modern sects mentioned above, on which we will now say a few words.
- b) Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a secret society which professes a rationalist and typically atheistic humanism. In his book ‘Freemasonry in Its Secret Documents’ Léon de Poncins writes: ‘The great secret is in a certain sense the eminent Sovereignty of Man. It is the affirmation of man’s supremacy in the face of Revelation… Man, says Freemasonry, is a possible God. Once we organize him socially, internationally, and universally, he will laugh in the face of the God of our legends and nightmares who is his persecutor. It is the liberation of Man from the Divine.’
The establishment of a politico-religious world order of humanist inspiration is the central aim of Freemasonry, through the destruction of the state (above all the monarchical state) and of the Church.
It aims at the former objective by inciting Revolutions, like the Russian Revolution; by attacking society and the family inter alia by divorce and immoral educative programmes including that of ‘Gender’; and by promoting atheism, either explicitly, or implicitly behind a veil of pantheism and polytheism.
It aims at the latter objective by infiltrating its own members into the Church and by exercising pressure on Her from without and within to make Her collapse doctrinally, liturgically, and morally.
Freemasonry’s rationalism and atheism form the base for its particular antagonism towards the Catholic Church with the latter’s claim to teach supernatural, objective Truths in the form of dogma and Divine Revelation; and with her intent to live, and to teach others to live, according to such Truths.
Freemasonry manifests Satanism in three particular ways: in its perverted rites which include sacrilege and human sacrifice; in its aim to destroy the Catholic Church; and in its ulterior and definitive aim which is the adoration of man in the place of God.
The supreme personal principle of Freemasonry is the ‘Great Architect’ understood variously, with the doctrinal fluidity with which it is characterized, as God, Man, or the Devil.
Since its birth in the Eighteenth Century, Freemasonry, one of the most powerful enemies of the Catholic Church and Her ends, which are the glory of God and the salvation of souls, has been the subject of at least 14 solemn condemnations on the part of The Roman Pontiffs and the Holy Office.
The Second Vatican Council, on the contrary, represents a turning-point in the Church’s official stance towards it. According to Abbé Daniel Leroux in his book ‘Pietro mi ami tu?’ (Edizioni Gotica p.92): ‘Through Cardinal Bea, the Freemasons obtained the decree on religious liberty and applauded the victory of false ecumenism and collegiality.’ The same author quotes welcoming discourses in the Vatican by Pope John Paul II to Freemasons of the ‘Trilateral’ and the Jewish sect ‘B’nai B’rith’ which appeal to humanist principles supposedly shared by both parties; he shows how the new Code of Canon Law (1983) no longer excommunicates members of the Freemasonry, and in fact does not even mention them.
- c) Theosophy
Theosophy, elaborated by Mme. Blavatska, holds that evil is one of the sustaining principles of the world, a necessity for Evolution and progress. The spirit of evil, called ‘Lucifer’, is the active energy of the universe, a law which reconciles opposites and produces the final harmony. This law, in her view, will liberate man from Falsehood (which clearly refers to the Catholic Faith) and will obtain his self-redemption.
- d) Anthroposophy
Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy, on the other hand, identifies the universal spirit that harmonizes opposites with the ‘Spirit of Christ’, a doctrine adopted subsequently by the apostate Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin. This harmony of opposites includes the syncretistic union of all religions and philosophies. Anthroposophy teaches in addition reincarnation and the extrasensory knowledge of the universe.
In these two systems (c and d) various Gnostic elements are re-proposed; in the second system they are fused with Christianity. Suffice to say in regard to these two theories, that opposites, when they are contradiction (as in the case of True and False, Good and Evil) are by their very nature irreconcilable; and therefore to speak of ‘reconciling them’ is nonsense. Furthermore, the ‘Spirit of Christ’ conceived as the Godhead immanent to the world, is also nonsensical, since, as we have already explained, God is by definition absolutely transcendent to the world.
- d) New Age
The New Age system may be described as ‘Contemporary Gnosis’. It is derived principally from Theosophy, but also contains elements of Anthroposophy and other Gnostic doctrines. It claims to inaugurate a new era for the world, and to offer man the only available path to salvation. It is presented as scientific and mystic at the same time. As a scientific system it adopts the slogan: ‘Think globally’ which means looking at the world in a holistic way as part of a whole, but also in a syncretistic way, by reconciling opposites like True and False, Good and Evil. As a mystical system it proposes occult knowledge and practices in order to experience ‘higher worlds’: UFOs, and ‘spirits’ but most of all the ‘Self’ understood as divine: to be developed in this life, and in subsequent lives through reincarnation. New Age advocates feeling more than understanding; it is fundamentally irrational and subjectivist.
We shall present four elements of this contemporary Gnosis, confuting each in the light of Faith and Reason.
1) The Self-Deification of Man through Arcane Knowledge
This arcane knowledge is offered in the form of practices aimed at enabling man to experience ‘The Immanent God’. They are taught by men presenting themselves as ‘spiritual masters’. This recalls the pleasurable knowledge offered to Adam and Eve in the eating of the forbidden fruit. The practices in question are in fact magic practices for achieving a preternatural (rather than supernatural) state of the soul. They are surrogate sacraments, proposed by surrogate spiritual masters, saints, or prophets, to achieve states of union with God, which are also surrogates. They are fictions invented by the great Imitator of God and Inventor of all Deceit who is the Devil.
As regards the idea of an Immanent God, we repeat that God is absolutely transcendent to the world; He is also immanent in a limited way, but only in the sense that He is present to the being of every thing. However, this does not allow that thing, inasmuch as it is conscious as man is, to experience Him.
2) Arcane Knowledge
The concept of arcane knowledge is particularly manifest in the Gnostic claim that the Church hides truths vital for the good or happiness of man. As St. Irenaeus says, the Gnostics have always claimed to possess greater and deeper knowledge than that which the Church has revealed. Their criticism of the Church on this score recalls the doubt that Satan insinuated into the minds of Adam and Eve concerning God’s good will in forbidding them to eat from the fruit of the Tree.
Here we may ask, though, what knowledge the Church is supposed to be hiding when She has revealed to man Reality in its definitive sense: the absolute Truth which is the Most Holy Trinity? – and when She has revealed to man all possible means for attaining Him, and thereby to achieve his final end, which is Eternal Beatitude? What knowledge is supposed to greater or deeper, higher or more useful to man?
3) Ontological Monism, or Pantheism
This doctrine is expressed in the Gnostic thesis diffused even among Catholics of to-day, that the human soul is a divine spark, or the thesis that the soul and God are composed of ‘subtle matter’. These are typically pantheistic theories, and, in the final analysis, atheist. The Church, in contrast, teaches that matter and spirit are two distinct principles, and that God is transcendent to the world.
4) Subjective Reality
The thesis of Subjective Reality corresponds to the contempt for objective reality described above, and correlates to Logical Monism: the concept that True and False can co-exist.
Regarding the thesis of Subjective Reality, the following may be said: the intellect was created to know reality as the eye was created to see objects. Truth is the correspondence between intellectus et res: the intellect on one side and on the other the res, the object: objective reality. This correspondence between the intellect and objective reality is the Truth, the Objective Truth. All of that which we think and say, we think and say as an expression of objective reality. If I think that I am now reading a text, that I now have a head-ache, I think it as objective reality. I cannot deny objective reality, the objective truth about things, without renouncing my very intellect, without renouncing the very use of reason. Even if I say that reality is subjective, I say it as an expression of what I hold to be objective reality.
The concept of subjective reality has sense only in describing errors like those of a madman, or to speak of the world of the senses: of the private world of sensations, emotions, and feelings. To want to lend some ontological substance to the concept of subjective reality in order to substitute it for objective reality is pure fantasy and illusion.
Here, then, are some of the particular errors of Contemporary Gnosis. If we wished to identify the general errors which it shares with all the Gnostic systems, we would focus on Pantheism and Egoism. We observe that the errors of Gnosticism may to-day be found even amongst the Catholic faithful, albeit these errors are diametrically opposed to the Faith.
Perhaps the major achievement of the Gnostic sects is to present sheer muddle-headedness as Mysticism.
Translation: Rorate Contributor Francesca Romana
 I recommend any-one who has a sin of impurity on the conscience (either alone or with another) or indeed who has been involved in esoteric practices, to have recourse to Confession as soon as possible. For such sins are of grave matter and endanger salvation.
 We may distinguish four attitudes concerning this doctrine (which applies mutatis mutandis to Catholic Truth in general): the Traditional attitude: that it has always been true; the Modernist: that it has always been false; the Logical Monist: that the doctrine is (in some sense) both true and false at the same time; the Evolutionist: that the doctrine was true and has become false.
 Humanum Genus Leo XIII ‘With the greatest unanimity the sect of the Freemasons also endeavours to take to itself the education of youth. They think that they can easily mold to their opinions that soft and pliant age, and bend it whither they will; and that nothing can be more fitted than this to enable them to bring up the youth of the State after their own plan.’
 We note that Monsignor Bugnini, architect of the Novus Ordo Missae, was, according to a well-founded and widely spread opinion, a Freemason.
 Clement XII, Open Letter, quoted in Les Fils de la Lumière, Roger Peyrefitte (cfr. Le secret des Francmaçons, Chiré-en-Montreuil, cap.11).
Canon 2335 of the Code of 1917 had stated: ‘Those who join a Masonic sect or other societies of the same sort, which plot against the Church or against legitimate civil authority, incur ipso facto an excommunication reserved to the Holy See’. This was modified and substituted by the new Canon 1374: ‘A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty – one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict.’ The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith later re-iterated the ‘negative judgement of the Church on Masonic associations’ the grave sinfulness of the faithful who belong to them and their preclusion from Holy Communion, but no longer punished them with excommunication.
 Did I have to court the angels? and with what prayers and what rites? Many in their attempts to turn to Thee, and not succeeding alone, they tell me, tried this path. Exalted, they sought Thee with the pride of science, swelling out their breast rather than beating it; they drew to themselves by an affinity of feeling the powers of the air, complices and allies of their pride, and let themselves be deceived by their magic powers (St. Augustine).