May 5

Tuesday, May 5th

Good morning, Good morning,

The letter today is offered for those parishioners who are bi-ritual, raised in the Latin and Eastern rites. The Catholic Church structure is divided into two divisions under the single papacy.  Eastern Rite and Western Rite.  The Eastern Rite, identified as Byzantine actually has twenty three different groups called, “Uniates.”   Albanian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian, Greek, Hungarian, Italo Albanian, Macedonian, Melkite, Romanian, RussianRuthenian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean (Ethiopia), Chaldean (Iraq) , Syro-Malabar (India).  They are remembered for the time when the Great Schism, in 1054, caused the break up between the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church.  There is another story in that, for another time.  The collectives above never left the union with the Catholic Church.  And for that reason, they find the term “Uniates” offensive because some would say they left and came back.  Not so, together they have a pretty long line of martyrs lost in keeping their affiliation with the Pope and teachings of Christ in His Church.

Now, onto the story of the day.  In the Russian Revolution of 1917, led by Vladimir Lenin, there was a total shutdown of religious institutions.  Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant Churches were set upon with a great persecution and all went to the underground.  Many years later just before World War II the Soviet government promised freedom of religion for all if all would support the impending war effort.  With that freedom was attained but short-lived.  In 1947 the Soviet government announced a certain freedom of religion but all would stand under the umbrella of the Orthodox Church.  There was no freedom for Catholics in 1917, or 1947.  They never retained their Church properties.

Did you ever notice all the papal trips cover the entire planet except Russia.  Did you ever notice how the Soviet premier, Putin, has made several trips to the Vatican to see the Pope? But no reciprocal invitation is offered.  The Russian religious leaders are deathly afraid the Pope may show up and ask to have the Catholic properties restored to the Church.  Not a happy thought for some people.  During the Vatican Council the Church fathers encroached upon soviet sovereignty when they identified one of the Catholic Byzantine Collectives under a new name.  What had been known as the Eastern Rite would now be called the Ukrainian Rite.  That was big smoke at the time. 

If the Church can encroach upon the Soviet empire is it possible the Soviets can encroach upon the Church.  Most definitely.  During the 1917 revolution the Bolsheviks attacked the Church on all levels priests and religious who did not succeed in fleeing went to the prisons or to their graves.  The relics and all sacred objects were crushed, burned, buried, or thrown into the rivers.  The body of the great St. Josephat was secretly taken to Rome where it sits in a glass case, in the center of St. Peter’s Basilica.  As a collegian visiting Rome I can remember being stunned by the sight of the body in the glass case.  Not a sight for the timid. 

Everyone wants a claim on St. Josephat.  He was born in the Ukraine but served as a Monk/Archbishop for the Ruthenian rite in Lithuania and Poland.  He was martyred in the conflict between Orthodox and Catholics in 1623.  In the Church’s continued conversations with the Soviets referred to as the,”ostpolitik,” there has been a continued request to have St. Josephat brought home… so they could lose him.  It gave a whole new meaning to, “Rome is home” for St. Josephat. 

Speaking of the “ostpolitik,” There was a time when the Vatican officials were stymied on how the Soviets always seemed to have a leg up on them when they had their meetings.  The Soviets seemed to be prepped for the Vatican agenda ahead of time.  In response to their suspicions the Vatican officials asked the Italian Secret Service to look for bugs in the Vatican.  The ISS arrived as electricians reviewing all the wiring in the Vatican Offices.  And after some time they found eleven bugs.  Five Russian made and six from… wait for it …. Wait for it… America

There is a phenomena of curiosity that rises about every twenty years in the studies of church figures and events.  No, not the question of George Washington becoming a Catholic before he died… the Jesuits of Georgetown float that through the Post once in while just to keep the juices of curiosity flowing.  Not at all.  It is the issue of Soviet spies in the ranks of seminarians.  I first heard of conspiracy topic it in the Fall of 1973 and asked a visiting lecturer to the Buffalo area what he thought of it.  He brushed me off as a young collegian without depth… and he was right.  His name was Christopher Derrick.  He was a very successful English scholar and lecturer on contemporary Church politics.  He was well versed in the writings of Chesterton and Lewis, both friends of his father.  He was a student of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings and familiar with a future professor of mine named Joseph Pieper.  He didn’t like my question and I sure didn’t like his answer.    This is a must read article on Communist invasive manipulations into the life of the future priests in Eastern Europe.  If it could happen there, it could happen…

Twenty five years later I was visiting in the Archdiocesan seminary in Riga, Latvia.  The seminarians asked for my assistance in a computer glitch they were dealing with in an old computer and I was happy to comply.  It was a dinosaur, with DOS operating system and 1400 baud modem.  I was trained in the technology from fifteen years earlier and was happy to assist.  The strange feature of the computer center was how it was placed on the top floor of the library, behind a stack of disheveled books.  I would never have noticed it without the assistance of the seminarians.  

At dinner that night the priest I was visiting clearly responded to my question of Russian Spies in the Seminary.  He responded in the affirmative but quickly added they had been identified and left alone.  Why not dismiss them?  Because the replacements might be more clever and dangerous.  I was also fascinated in meeting a Latvian Bishop who had actually been a Russian General in his early days.  A Russian spy?  Not hardly.  Too well known.  Upon return to Arlington Bishop Keating allowed me to send a new laptop to the seminarians in Riga.

A number of years after my visit to Riga I picked up a book by one of my favorite authors.  His name was Ralph McInerny.    Some may remember him writing the Fr. Dowling mysteries.   He wrote a book titled, “The Noonday Devil.”  The bottom line in the story finds a Soviet mole sitting in an Indiana monastery… unidentified for many years.   Then one day he was activated by his Soviet handler.  The mission:  to kill the Pope in an upcoming visit to Indiana. 

Rather than give away the story to one of my favorite books let it be said, the monk actually converted to the Faith in his years in the monastery.  He couldn’t fulfill the mission.  But the Pope used one of his greatest weapons, and absolved the mole.  Great book.

In recent months, in the twenty year cycle, we have been introduced to a testimonial from the widow of Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand, Alice, and how she and her husband were informed by an old friend, Bella Dodd, that in her communist days, before converting to Catholicism under the direction from an Illinois priest named, Sheen, she knew of a thousand seminarians who were Soviet spies.  I consider it a little farfetched to have that many ideologues in the seminary systems, all at the same time, back in the good old days of the forties and fifties… and sixties.  The real issue may have involved having too many demigods in the ranks.  But, I digress.

/  This is a very interesting video on Bella Dodd but leaves a very dangerous editorializing comment on the Vatican Council that doesn’t help in the conversation on outside influences in the Church formation programs.

What was creeping into the ranks of the clergy in the 50’s – 60’s was either the introduction to Liberation Theology with it’s Marxist roots in the Hegelian dialectics.   Or the more subtle New Age tool of the Enneagram, determining the Pscho/social/spiritual direction of the human heart and soul.  Both close to our home in Purcellville.  The theologians of Liberation Theology lived across the river in Washington DC.  The Franciscan promoters of the enneagram programs lived over the mountain in the retreat house in Winchester.   

Let us pray for one another. 

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