Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
My very Dear Sons,
Where are the men in our day? Where are the giants? The book of Genesis tells us that in early times “there were giants upon the earth [in Hebrew, “Nephilim”]…the mighty men of old, men of renown” (Gen. 6:4). Holy Scripture explains—although this is wrapped in mystery—that after the sons of God went in to the daughters of men there came into existence an extraordinary race living on the earth. What happened to those great men, those giants? The Book of Wisdom implies that they perished in the flood in the time of Noah (Wis. 14:6). We do not really know otherwise, as the modern world has lost their trace. We only have those obscure mentions in the Holy Scriptures. Nevertheless the biblical image of these giants of old provides us, perhaps, with an idea that can teach us still today.
In a spiritual sense there have also been giants on earth, giants of faith, giants of sanctity. In a real way the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament were men of colossal stature in the moral sense. The holy women too, whose lives are recounted in the great stories of the Bible, appear as larger than life and play an imposing and essential role in Sacred History.
With the coming of Christ, in the fullness of time, a new generation of spiritual giants appears. They have a foundational role: they are pillars of what becomes the Church. Everything refers back to them, even now as we move toward the consummation of history. The greatest saints of our own times, in fact (and there are some), are sitting as it were on the shoulders of those of the early Church. The Church was and is truly founded on Christ Himself, of course, but also on the witness of the Apostles, especially on the precious martyrdoms of Saints Peter and Paul, whose feast we are celebrating today. The Apostles were giants of the grace of God, giants of the Gospel, even as they were also the humblest of humans, acutely aware of their smallness next to God. “Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church,” said the Lord, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). We know, however, from the account of the last days of the Lord in the Gospel just how lacking in strength was that rock named Peter, from the terrible moment of the Passion of his Master up until the coming of the Holy Spirit at the first Christian Pentecost. It was the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit coming upon him that made a giant of Peter the Rock.
Over the centuries the Church has known many generations of Popes: the papal authority has operated according to various modes, depending upon historical circumstances and upon the particular graces given to each successor of Peter. First there came the popes under the Roman persecution, including martyrs such as Pope Saint Clement and later Pope Saint Sixtus II, in the time of the great Roman deacon, Saint Lawrence. There followed a generation of popes facing the dire social conditions of the Fall of the Roman Empire, especially Pope Saint Gregory the Great. The Popes of Middle Ages, many of them Benedictine monks, withstood terrible combats in favor of the liberty and holiness of the Church under attack by the secular power of kings and emperors. In turn the prince-like popes of the Renaissance oversaw the construction of vast churches and other splendid Christian buildings and the expansion of the Church across the world, even into the New World that had just been discovered. But all were founded on Saint Peter, the humble fisherman of Galilee, whom God transformed into a giant witness to the truth of Christ.
Through the centuries many have been the efforts of the “gates of hell” to overthrow the Church, efforts aimed especially at the person of Peter, at the reigning pope. Some of these vicars of Christ were martyred; some were led into exile; others were persecuted in the most nefarious ways. To take one modern situation among many regarding this persecution of the popes, it would suffice to speak of the last one hundred years. It is a well known fact that Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the famous Franciscan who died heroically at Auschwitz, founded the Militia of the Immaculata in 1917, the year of the apparitions in Fatima, in answer precisely to the threats of the Freemasons to control the Vatican—which they said would happen by the year 2017. Here are the Saint’s own words about his foundation.
When in Rome the Freemasons started coming out in the open daringly, flaunting their banners under the windows of the Vatican, depicting, on the black banners of the followers of Giordano Bruno, St. Michael the Archangel crushed under the foot of Lucifer, and openly lashing out against the Holy Father in propaganda pamphlets, the thought came of setting up an association committed to fighting Freemasonry and other servants of Lucifer. To make sure that such an idea was coming from the Immaculata [that is how he called the Blessed Virgin Mary], I sought counsel from my spiritual director at the time…. Having obtained assurance from holy obedience, I decided to get down to work.
We know too well how much the Church—and with her the successor of Peter—has had to suffer during that century beginning in 1917. But it is the Immaculata, not Lucifer and his slaves, it is Mary with her Immaculate Heart who will win the contest and is already winning it.
Waves of trouble and heresy have periodically swept through the Christian world and even through the Church, including that of Modernism condemned by Pope Saint Pius X and that of the “dictatorship of Relativism” deplored by Pope Benedict XVI. Currently there is trouble over the doctrinal and pastoral question of whether Holy Communion can be given to people who are divorced and civilly remarried. But, as Cardinal Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently stated,
It is absolutely impossible that the pope, as the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Jesus Christ for the Universal Church, [would] present a doctrine which is plainly against the words of Jesus Christ. [The pope and the magisterium] are “merely the interpreter” of the words of Christ, and the “doctrine on indissolubility of matrimony is absolutely clear. (Interview with Raymond Arroyo, EWTN, May 25, 2017.)
So, where are the giants? Where are the great men of our day? Well they are still here, holding us up on their shoulders. Saints Peter and Paul continue to be, along with and after Christ, the foundations that will not roll from under our feet. Neither heresy, nor New World Order, nor Islamic State, will ever overcome this unique race of spiritual giants. “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have thee, that he may sift thee as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…” (Lk. 22:31-32).
Our Lady of Fatima, the One with the Immaculate Heart, pray for us. Amen. Alleluia.