Chapter III

THE Church is our mother. During his catechesis of Wednesday, September 11, 2013, Pope Francis said : “ First of all a mother generates life, she carries her child in her womb for nine months and then delivers him to life, giving birth to him. The Church is like this : she bears us in the faith, through the work of the Holy Spirit Who makes her fertile, like the Virgin Mary. The Church and the Virgin Mary are mothers, both of them ; what is said of the Church can be said also of Our Lady and what is said of Our Lady can also be said of the Church ! ”

The Church bears us in the faith. How can this take place ? The object of the third chapter of the encyclical is to explain it to us.


37. Those who have opened their hearts to God’s love, heard His voice and received His light, cannot keep this gift to themselves. Since faith is hearing and seeing, it is also handed on as word and light. Addressing the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul used these two very images. On the one hand he says : Just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with Scripture – I believed, and so I spoke – we also believe, and so we speak (2 Co 4:13). The word, once accepted, becomes a response, a confession of faith, which spreads to others and invites them to believe.

St. Paul also uses the image of light : All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image(2 Co 3:18). It is a light reflected from one face to another, even as Moses himself bore a reflection of God’s glory after having spoken with Him : ( God ) has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Christ(2 Co 4:6). The light of Christ shines, as in a mirror, upon the face of Christians ; as it spreads, it comes down to us, so that we too can share in that vision and reflect that light to others, in the same way that, in the Easter liturgy, the light of the paschal candle lights countless other candles.

Faith is passed on, we might say, by contact, from one person to another, just as one candle is lighted from another. Christians, in their poverty, plant a seed so rich that it becomes a great tree, capable of filling the world with its fruit.

The last sentence of this rich paragraph bears the signature of Pope Francis and is marvellously consonant with the expression of Lucy of Fatima who spoke of the “ poor children ” to designate herself and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta :

“ Blessed be the poor ’ ! ”

If the transmission of the faith passes from one generation to another, “ how can we be certain, after all these centuries, that we have encountered the real Jesus ? ” Paragraphs 38 and 39 summarise, confirm and call for the entire anthropology of Georges de Nantes, Mystical Doctor of the Catholic Faith :

Persons always live in relationship. We come from others, we belong to others, and our lives are enlarged by our encounter with others. Even our own knowledge and self-awareness are relational ; they are linked to others who have gone before us : in the first place, our parents, who gave us our life and our name. Language itself, the words by which we make sense of our lives and the world around us, comes to us from others, preserved in the living memory of others.

Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory. The same thing holds true for faith, which brings human understanding to its fullness. Faith’s past, that act of Jesus’ love that brought new life to the world, comes down to us through the memory of others – witnesses – and is kept alive in that one remembering subject which is the Church. ”(no. 38)

Thus the Church is not a people of equals, an aggregate of individuals gathered together by some invisible Spirit ; she is a historical and hierarchical society of apostolic tradition in which the Word of God is taught with authority.

On April 21, 2013, in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father reaffirmed that the mission of teaching is chiefly incumbent upon priests, catechists and mothers, upon those who have authority : “ As for you, my dear brethren and sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the Word of God that you have received with joy. Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the Word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith ! They transmitted to you this gift of faith. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practise what you teach. Remember too that the Word of God is not your property : it is the Word of God. The Church is the custodian of the Word of God. ”

Consequently, “ it is impossible to believe on our own ”(no. 39). Faith is not simply “ a completely private relationship (...) between an autonomous subject and God. ” Rather “ it always takes place within the communion of the Church.

“ Certainly, ” the Pope says elsewhere,“ faith is a personal act : I believe, I personally respond to God Who makes Himself known and wants to enter into friendship with me. I, however, receive the faith from others, within a family, within a community that teaches me to say I believe, ’‘ we believe. A Christian is not an island ! We do not become Christians in a laboratory, we do not become Christians alone and by our own effort, since the faith is a gift, it is a gift from God given to us in the Church and through the Church. ” (catechesis of September 11, 2013)

This group of persons who believe form “ in the Spirit, a We, a communion of persons, a new family ” : the Catholic Church.

“ The very word Church, ’ from the Greek ekklesia, means convocation : God convokes us, He impels us to come out of our individualism, from our tendency to withdraw into ourselves, and He calls us to belong to His family. ” (catechesis of May 29, 2013).


For transmitting a purely doctrinal content, an idea might suffice, or perhaps a book, or the repetition of a spoken message. Yet what is communicated in the Church, what is handed down in her living Tradition, is the new light born of an encounter with the true God, a light that touches us at the core of our being and engages our minds, wills and emotions, opening us to living relationships of communion with God and neighbour.

This encounter is achieved by “ a special means capable of engaging the entire person, body and spirit, interior life and relationships with others. It is the sacraments, celebrated in the Church’s liturgy. The sacraments communicate an incarnate memory, linked to the times and places of our lives, linked to all our senses.

“ The Sacraments, ” our Father wrote, “ are real encounters real contacts between man and God, willed for a communication of particular graces (...).

“ Between the nothingness of the creature, the undeniable wretchedness of sinful man and the holiness of the Living God, an encounter can be neither banal nor platonic ; it can only be significant and sacramental. ” (The Christian mysteries, CCR no. 91, p. 2)

These sacraments engage us “ as members of a living subject and part of a network of communitarian relationships ” in the bosom of the Church. Thus, they are the sacred signs that communicate and reveal “ a new sacramental sense in our lives as human beings and as Christians, in which visible and material realities are seen to point beyond themselves to the mystery of the eternal. ”(no. 40)

BAPTISM (nos 41-43).

41. The transmission of faith occurs first and foremost in baptism.

The baptismal rite begins with this question :

“ What do you ask of the Church of God ? ”

“ Faith. ”

“ The Church gives us the life of faith in Baptism, ”the Pope affirms.“ That is the moment in which she gives birth to us as children of God, the moment she gives us the life of God, she engenders us as a mother would. ” (catechesis of Wednesday, September 11, 2013)

Thus, baptism is not merely“ a way of symbolising the confession of faith or simply a pedagogical tool. ”

“ One does not belong to the Church as one belongs to a society, to a party or to any other organisation. The bond is vital, like the bond you have with your mother because, as St. Augustine says, The Church is truly the mother of Christians ’ ”(ibid.).

Baptism is a sacrament that erases original sin by conferring on us supernatural life, and it makes us Christians, children of God and the Church. The encyclical does not mention original sin. Quoting St. Paul, the Pope writes :

“ ‘ We were buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life ’(Rm 6:4). In baptism we become a new creation and God’s adopted children.

We know that it is original stain, the rebellion of man against God, his sins and their burden of temporal punishments that are buried with Christ by baptism. The remainder of St. Paul’s quotation states so explicitly : “ We know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For when a man dies, he has been absolved from sin.’ ” (Rm 6:5-7)

The Pope contents himself with recalling that the baptised commit themselves to obeying whole-heartedly the teaching of the Church, not only by professing a doctrine but by following “ a specific way of life that demands the engagement of the whole person and sets us on the path to goodness.

During a homily at St. Martha’s, the Holy Father said : “ The proclamation of Jesus is not a patina, ” it penetrates “ the bones, ” goes “ straight to the heart, to the interior, ” and “ changes ” man. This is what “ the spirit of the world cannot tolerate ; it cannot tolerate it and because of this persecutions arise ” ( May 28, 2013 ).

The baptised, however, do not fight alone. They are sons of the Church :

Baptism makes us see, then, that faith is not the achievement of isolated individuals ; it is not an act that someone can perform on his own, but rather something that must be received by entering into the ecclesial communion that transmits God’s gift. No one baptises himself, just as no one comes into the world by himself. Baptism is something we receive. ”

We are indebted to our parish priest, to a spiritual father, to our parents, to our godfather and godmother for the grace of baptism. We do not beget ourselves to supernatural live, just as “ we are not autodidact in religion, ” our Father used to say. “ ‘ I converted all by myself, I read books, I understood, I have my own religion. ’ No ! We are children of the Church. ”

“ 42. What are the elements of baptism ?

First, the Name of the Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – is invoked upon the catechumen. Thus, from the outset, a synthesis of the journey of faith is provided. ” The baptised thereby receive “ a new filial identity. ”

Water is at once a symbol of death, inviting us to pass through self-conversion to a new and greater identity, and a symbol of life, of a womb in which we are reborn by following Christ in His new life. In this way, through immersion in water, baptism speaks to us of the incarnational structure of faith. Christ’s work penetrates the depths of our being and transforms us radically, making us adopted children of God and sharers in the divine nature. It thus modifies all our relationships, our place in this world and in the universe, and opens them to God’s own life of communion. ”

St. Paul boldly assimilates the baptismal action of immersion in the mortifying and vivifying waters to the burial of Christ, thus making it as though it were the operative mime of the Lord’s redemptive Passion. “ The baptised person ” Georges de Nantes wrote, “ is identified with Christ and with Him dares the descent into death and burial, thereby freeing himself from his passions, expiating for his sins and escaping from his Adversary who had pursued him up to this impassable frontier. Then, identified with Christ to the extent of sharing His essential destiny, the baptised person rises with Him, coming forth from the tomb clothed, like Him, in a new and eternal life, sharing in His wonderful metamorphosis. It is an extraordinary comparison and the real truth ! ” (The Christian Mysteries, CCR no. 91, p. 7)

Thus, “ parents are called, as St. Augustine once said, not only to bring children into the world but also to bring them to God, so that through baptism they can be reborn as children of God and receive the gift of faith. ”(no. 43)

What is missing here is the reason that explains the necessity of responding to this call, by following the Church’s time-honoured, though unconsidered, practice of infant baptism and of the rites of exorcism, renouncing Satan, anointings and signing with the sign of the Cross for babies just as for adults, surprising though such rites may seem :

“ If these newborn babies do not belong to Christ, then they are under Satan’s power and evil is in them so that their purification is as laborious and miraculous as that of an adult, who may have already prepared the work of his salvation by good works or who may have considerably aggravated his state by his own personal crimes. ” (ibid., CCR no. 91)

An Argentinian has related that after a Mass, the parents of a child named Suzanne presented their child to the Archbishop of Buenos Aires for him to bless her. Cardinal Bergoglio took her in his arms and, although no one had informed him that the child had not been baptised, he insistently repeated : “ Please, have her baptised. ” (Antonio Gaspari, “ A Cyclone Named Francis, ” translated by Claude de Cointet, May 2013)

“ What is the value of the world ? ” our Father asked. “ That is for the Church to judge and she has already done this once and for all by following the example and the lesson of her Master. The Church judges the world to be diabolical, as needing to be exorcised, baptised and blessed element after element, for devils to be chased out and for it to be consecrated to God.

“ Such is the very practical, concrete and implacable view of original sin in its historical context that the liturgy imposes on us. It is a fallen world, a cursed and diabolical world, attractive and fascinating though it may appear to us. In pagan man there will always exist a connivance at and complicity with this world and its prestige. The need for baptism to be saved, so often affirmed by Jesus and His Apostles, and the miracle of liberation effected by baptism are taught and illustrated in the baptismal liturgy in a much more striking way than they are in our dogmas. ” (ibid., CCR n° 91)


44. The sacramental character of faith finds its highest expression in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a precious nourishment for faith : an encounter with Christ truly present in the supreme act of His love, the life-giving gift of Himself. ”

All the sacraments are an encounter of Christians with the Good God, but the Eucharist is the crowning one, because it works its effect not through some interposed person or matter but through the Body Itself “ instrument conjoint with the Divinity, ” in the very living and acting Person of the Son of God made man – the Word Incarnate.

In the Eucharist we find the intersection of faith’s two dimensions. On the one hand, there is the dimension of history : the Eucharist is an act of remembrance, a making present of the mystery in which the past, as an event of death and resurrection, demonstrates its ability to open up a future, to foreshadow ultimate fulfilment. The liturgy reminds us of this by its repetition of the word hodie, the today of the mysteries of salvation. ”

What is lacking in this ‘eschatological’ vision of the mystery as a “ remembrance of the future ” is the affirmation of the present reality ; namely that at each of our Masses, as Georges de Nantes explained, priests “ enable Christ to act in accordance with the words that they pronounce at His command and in conformity with their mission. The priests compel the living and risen Jesus Himself, present in His Church, to do what they tell Him to do, which is what He wants to do : He makes Himself physically present on the altar ” with the purpose of offering the Holy Sacrifice, of which there is no trace in this exposition devoted to the Eucharist !

On the other hand, we also find the dimension that leads from the visible world to the invisible. In the Eucharist we learn to see the heights and depths of reality. The bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, Who becomes present in His passover to the Father : this movement draws us, body and soul, into the movement of all creation towards its fulfilment in God. ”

If we carefully re-read this paragraph, we will not discover the slightest allusion to the Holy Sacrifice as “ a new, localised, dated and timed act ” accomplished by Christ “ in a new and distinct act at this Mass. ” By this act, His spiritual power seizes hold of the being of the wine in order to change it into His Blood : He pours His life into this cup to signify His suffering (G. de Nantes, The Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of the Lord, CCR no. 96, p. 16).

Nevertheless, Jesus Christ’s Presence, action and gift of Himself in the Eucharist make of this sacrament the principal constituent of the Church in view of “ the eternal consummation of the Church’s union with Christ, when the Church will be presented by Christ to His Father, as a new creature full of justice and holiness. ” (G. de Nantes, ibid., p. 17).

Emphasis is placed on the “ communion ” but as the result of the ‘ profession of faith ” and not of the sacrifice. All this is more Lutheran than Catholic. Pope Francis “ makes it his own. ” (no. 7)


45. In the celebration of the sacraments, the Church hands down her memory especially through the profession of faith. The Creed does not only involve giving one’s assent to a body of abstract truths ; rather, when it is recited the whole of life is drawn into a journey towards full communion with the living God. ”

In reality, our Creed does not set forth ‘ abstract truths ’but historical events :

It takes us through all the mysteries of Christ’s life up to His Death, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven before His final return in glory.

It tells us that this God of communion, reciprocal love between the Father and the Son in the Spirit, is capable of embracing all of human history and drawing it into the dynamic unity of the Godhead, which has its source and fulfilment in the Father. The believer who professes his faith is taken up, as it were, into the truth being professed. He cannot truthfully recite the words of the Creed without being changed, without becoming part of that history of love that embraces him and expands his being, making it part of a great fellowship, the ultimate subject that recites the Creed, namely, the Church. All the truths in which we believe point to the mystery of the new life of faith as a journey of communion with the living God. ”

Sister Lucy of Fatima wrote sublime lines in her Apelos in the style of the Epistle to the Hebrews. This is not surprising because, like St. Paul, she had contemplated “ the Light of the immense Being Who is God. ”

“ Faith is the basis of the entire spiritual life. It is by faith that we believe in the existence of God, in His power, His wisdom, His mercy, His work of redemption, His pardon and His fatherly love.

“ It is by faith that we believe in God’s Church, founded by Jesus Christ, and in the doctrine she transmits to us and by which we shall be saved.

“ It is the light of faith that guides our steps, directing us along the narrow way that leads to Heaven.

“ It is by faith that we see Christ in others, loving, serving and helping them when they are in need of our assistance.

“ It is also our faith that assures us that God is present within us, that His eyes are always upon us.

“ They are eyes of Light, almighty and immense, which extends everywhere, sees everything, and penetrates all things with the unique purity proper to the Divine Sun alone, as compared with which the sun that we see and that shines on us is no more than a pale reflection, a fragile spark emanating from the Light of the immense Being Who is God. ” (He is Risen no. 12)


46. Two other elements are essential in the faithful transmission of the Church’s memory. First, the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father. Here Christians learn to share in Christ’s own spiritual experience and to see all things through his eyes. From Him Who is Light from Light, the only-begotten Son of the Father, we come to know God and can thus kindle in others the desire to draw near to Him. ”

Since the Our Father is included in the Eucharistic celebration, we would expect the Pope to recommend the Rosary, as he had done last August 15 at Castelgandolfo.

In the Apelos, Sister Lucy wrote :

“ I believe that, after the liturgical prayer of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the praying of the Rosary, in view of the origin and sublime nature of the prayers used in it, and of the mysteries of the Redemption that we recall and on which we meditate during each decade, is the most pleasing prayer that we can offer to God, and one that is most advantageous to our own souls. If such were not the case, Our Lady would not have asked for it so insistently.

“ We must attach a very great value [ to this prayer ] and persevere in practicing it without ever abandoning it. God and Our Lady know better than anyone else what is most appropriate for us and what we most need. Moreover, this prayer will be a powerful means of helping us to preserve faith, hope and charity. ” (He is Risen no. 13)

Similarly important is the link between faith and the Decalogue. The Pope opportunely quotes “ the words that introduce the Ten Commandments : I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt(Ex 20:2). The Decalogue is not a set of negative commands, but concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego in order to enter into dialogue with God, to be embraced by His mercy and then to bring that mercy to others. ”

“ Let us think of the Ten Commandments, ”the Pope said during a catechesis, “ they point us to the road to take in order to mature, to anchor our behaviour. They result from the tenderness and from the very love of God Who has given them to us.

“ You may say to me : but they are orders ! They are a series of nos ! I would like to ask you to read them – perhaps you have more or less forgotten them – and then think about them in a positive way. You will see that they concern the way we behave to God, to self and to others, exactly what a mother teaches us in order to live correctly.

“ They ask us not to make ourselves material idols that subsequently enslave us. They ask us to remember God, to show our parents respect, to be honest, to respect others. Try to see the commandments in this way and to think of them as though they were the words, the teachings that a mother gives in order to live the best way. A mother never teaches what is evil, she only wants the good of her children and so does the Church. ”(catechesis of Wednesday, September 18, 2013)


47. The unity of the Church in time and space is linked to the unity of the faith : there is one body and one Spirit ( ... ) one faith ’(Ep 4:4-5). ”

One might think that this unity of the Church, fruit of the adhesion of all to a same faith, “ is incompatible with freedom of thought and personal autonomy, ” which are dear to the modern mentality. Such is not the case :

The experience of love shows us that a common vision is possible, for through love we learn how to see reality through the eyes of others, not as something that impoverishes but instead enriches our vision. Genuine love, after the fashion of God’s love, ultimately requires truth, and the shared contemplation of the truth which is Jesus Christ enables love to become deep and enduring. ”

The fruit of this common vision is the “ joy of faith. ” What joy, indeed, to receive from the Vicar of Christ, the heir of the entire lineage of the successors of Peter, an unambiguous profession of faith :

St. Leo the Great could say : If faith is not one, then it is not faith. ’ ”

Nevertheless, it is necessary to understand what determines the bond of this unity :

What is the secret of this unity ?

Faith is one, in the first place, because of the oneness of the God Who is known and confessed. ”

Which “ God ” ? This is a special theme of Pope Francis’ daily preaching : “ We have a Father ! ” God “ is our Father ” ; to say “ God ” without this precision, Pope Francis said, is tantamount to making Him an “ aerosol God. ”

If, however, one invokes “ God our Father, ” then “ all the articles of faith speak of God ; they are ways to know Him and His works. Consequently, their unity is far superior to any possible construct of human reason. ”

The Father sustains all things and everything proceeds from Him. Everything that is outside Him, thoughts, ideologies, systems, is but nothingness and heresy.

There is more in the catechism than in all the works of all the philosophers of all times.

Faith is also one because it is directed to the one Lord, to the life of Jesus, to the concrete history that He shares with us. ”

Modernists separate the ‘ Jesus of the Faith ’ from the Jesus of history, but they only expose their thought before an informed and chosen public, following the example of the Gnostics against whom St. Irenaeus of Lyon fought in the past.

The Gnostics held that there are two kinds of faith : a crude, imperfect faith suited to the masses, which remained at the level of Jesus’ flesh and the contemplation of His mysteries ; and a deeper, perfect faith reserved to a small circle of initiates who were intellectually capable of rising above the flesh of Jesus towards the mysteries of the unknown divinity.

In opposition to this claim, which even today exerts a certain attraction and has its followers, St. Irenaeus insisted that there is but one faith, for it is grounded in the concrete event of the Incarnation and can never transcend the flesh and history of Christ, inasmuch as God willed to reveal Himself fully in that flesh. For this reason, he says, there is no difference in the faith of those able to discourse of it at lengthand those who speak but little ’ [blind faith] between the greater and the less : the first cannot increase the faith, nor the second diminish it. ”

Here, the Pope renews the warning given above, according to which theology must be “ at the service of the faith of Christians, that it must work humbly to protect and deepen the faith of everyone, especially ordinary believers ”(n° 36).

We would have liked the Pope to give the names of these “ adepts ” who no longer have faith but continue “ to speak ” in such a way that the “ humble people ” are turned away.

Finally, faith is one because it is shared by the whole Church, which is one body and one Spirit. ”

Fr. de Nantes explained in his Total Theology that “ the Church is the work of Christ Who organised the multitude in a human and political fashion, and that the successors of the Apostles continue. In order for these multitudes to accept the common law that is given from On High, they need to have within themselves a movement, an inspiration that makes them strive towards unity, whereas a body without a soul tends to fall apart. This is why the Fathers of the Church and theologians have always said that the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. ” This is also what the Pope writes :

In the communion of the one subject which is the Church, we receive a common gaze. By professing the same faith, we stand firm on the same rock, we are transformed by the same Spirit of love, we radiate one light and we have a single insight into reality. ”

Provided that the dogma of the Faith be preserved :

48. Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole. ”

This is what Blessed Pius IX called “ becoming shipwrecked in the faith. ”

Each period of history can find this or that point of faith easier or harder to accept : hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety (cf. 1 Tm 6:20) and that all aspects of the profession of faith are duly emphasised. Indeed, inasmuch as the unity of faith is the unity of the Church, to subtract something from the faith is to subtract something from the veracity of communion.

The Fathers described faith as a body, the body of truth composed of various members, by analogy with the Body of Christ and its prolongation in the Church. The integrity of the faith was also tied to the image of the Church as a virgin and her fidelity in love for Christ her Spouse ; harming the faith means harming communion with the Lord. ”

The Pope might have added that the personification of the Church as Virgin-Mother is the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the Immaculate, Mother-Spouse of Jesus Christ, most perfect and most faithful.

The unity of faith, then, is the unity of a living body ; this was clearly brought out by Blessed John Henry Newman when he listed among the characteristic notes for distinguishing the continuity of doctrine over time, its power to assimilate everything that it meets in the various settings in which it becomes present and in the diverse cultures which it encounters, purifying all things and bringing them to their finest expression. ”

“ From the death of the last Apostle until October 11, 1962, the substance of the Faith remained the same ; the dogmatic expressions increased in number, logically stringing together and inextricably linked to one another. Theology developed in parallel without any contradiction, exclusion, innovation or alteration. This ‘ development of the dogma ’ is, if you insist, biological, in any case, it is natural and thus logical. It is the work of the living Tradition of the infallible Magisterium and of the whole Church. It is still the deposit of the Revelation in its genuine richness. ” ( G. de Nantes, CRC no. 6, March 1968, p. 12 )

Faith is thus shown to be universal, catholic, because its light expands in order to illumine the entire cosmos and all of history. ”

I thought I heard the crow of the cock when I read in the columns of the Italian daily ‘ La Repubblica, ’ that Pope Francis had said to Eugenio Scalfari : “ I believe in God. Not in a Catholic God, a Catholic God does not exist. God exists. ”

It is nonetheless true that the unity and integrity of the faith are guaranteed by the hierarchy of the Church, when Peter, her head, “ returns ” (Lk 22:32). This is the object of the following paragraph :

49. As a service to the unity of faith and its integral transmission, the Lord gave His Church the gift of apostolic succession. Through this means, the continuity of the Church’s memory is ensured and certain access can be had to the wellspring from which faith flows. The assurance of continuity with the origins is thus given by living persons, in a way consonant with the living faith that the Church is called to transmit. ”

“ The corpus of the words and writings of the Apostles form the ‘ deposit of the Faith ’ that the Church has the mission of faithfully preserving and transmitting, without falsifying or adding anything to it. ” ( G. de Nantes, ibid. )

She depends on the fidelity of witnesses chosen by the Lord for this task. For this reason, the Magisterium always speaks in obedience to the prior Word on which faith is based ; it is reliable because of its trust in the Word that it hears, preserves and expounds (cf. Ecum. Council Vat. II, Dei Verbum no. 10. ”

When the Pope, a bishop, a parish priest or a mother catechist teach what the Church has always and universally held to be certain, they are the echo of the unanimous Tradition of the Church and are necessarily and infallibly speaking the truth.

In St. Paul’s farewell discourse to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus, which St. Luke recounts for us in the Acts of the Apostles, he testifies that he had carried out the task that the Lord had entrusted to him of declaring the whole counsel of God(Ac 20:27). Thanks to the Church’s Magisterium, this counsel can come to us in its integrity, and with it the joy of being able to follow it fully. ”

It would seem as though Fr. Georges de Nantes’ criticism of the conciliar constitution Dei Verbum, has been heard. One only has to reread To Prepare Vatican III, CRC no. 51, to see that Lumen Fidei emends what was most detrimental in this conciliar constitution, when it demolishes the channel of the transmission of the Revelation, with the aim of making the People of God a people of witnesses in direct contact with God, and of reducing the Magisterium to a secondary function of controlling and interpreting.

Here, the Magisterium recovers its full status : it is through it that God’s will is expressed and through it that we find the joy for carrying it out.

Vatican III is underway !

Chapter IV

In the first three chapters of the encyclical, which analyse the “ light of faith ” according to three key words : love, intelligence and tradition, the Pope writes a conclusion pointing out the fruitfulness of this “ light. ”


50. In presenting the story of the Patriarchs and the righteous men of the Old Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews highlights an essential aspect of their faith. That faith is not only presented as a journey, but also as a process of building, the preparing of a place in which men can dwell together with one another. ”

The Holy Father does not philosophise. Like St. Francis, he applies himself to rebuilding the City of God relying on the promises that God made to His chosen ones :

The first builder was Noah who saved his family in the ark (Heb 11:7). Then comes Abraham, of whom it is said that by faith he dwelt in tents, as he looked forward to the city with firm foundations (cf. Heb 11:9-10). ”

The condition for fulfilling these promises is “ a new reliability, a new firmness, which God alone can give. ” In fact, “ Faith reveals just how firm the bonds between people can be when God is present in their midst. Faith does not merely grant interior firmness, a steadfast conviction on the part of the believer ; it also sheds light on every human relationship because it is born of love and reflects God’s own love. The God Who is Himself reliable gives us a city that is reliable. ”

It is the City of God.

Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God, in His love, and thus sheds light on the art of building ; as such it becomes a service to the common good. Faith is truly a good for everyone ; it is a common good. Its light does not simply brighten the interior of the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter ; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope [...]. The hands of faith are raised up to Heaven, even as they go about building in charity a city based on relationships in which the love of God is laid as a foundation. ”(no. 51)

This city is Christendom, which Pope Francis is discreetly reintroducing into the corpus of pontifical encyclicals. He does not justify it as St. Pius X did a century ago, but it is underway :

“ When we consider the forces, knowledge, and supernatural virtues that have been necessary to establish the Christian City, and the sufferings of millions of martyrs, and the light given by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the self-sacrifice of all the heroes of charity, and a powerful hierarchy ordained in Heaven, and the rivers of Divine Grace – the whole having been built up, bound together, and impregnated by the life and spirit of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, the Word made man – when we think, I say, of all this, it is frightening to behold new apostles eagerly attempting to do better by a common interchange of vague idealism and civic virtues. ” (Letter on the Sillon of August 25, 1910, no. 38)

The Pope will only have to draw from Fr. de Nantes’ immense treasure of faith and charity “ to go forward ” on this path.


The basic cell of this new city is the family. The Pope does not establish this on the basis of sociology but on the biblical account :

52. In Abraham’s journey towards the future city, the Letter to the Hebrews mentions the blessing that was passed on from fathers to sons (cf. Heb 11:20-21).

The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gn 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan. Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture that engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Promising love forever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan that sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love.

Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who entrusts us with the mystery of a new person. So it was that Sarah, by faith, became a mother, for she trusted in God’s fidelity to His promise (cf. Heb 11:11). ”

While our Father often endeavoured to explain that Christian marriage participates in the ends and holiness of the major union of Christ and the Church, Sr. Lucy, for her part, insisted more on the participation of the spouses in the creative work of the heavenly Father. We can read in her Call to the Sanctification of the Family :

“ The divine Creator wished to entrust to the family a sacred mission, that makes two beings become one in a union so close that it does not admit of separation. It is from this union that God wishes to produce other beings, as He generates flowers and fruit from plants. (He is Risen no. 15)

Sister Lucy added : “ Parents are the ones who must guide their children’s first steps to the altar of God, teaching them to fold their innocent hands and to pray, helping them to discover how to find God on their way and to follow the echo of His voice. This is the most serious and important mission that has been entrusted by God to parents. ”

This is what Pope Francis teaches :

53. In the family, faith accompanies every age of life, beginning with childhood : children learn to trust in the love of their parents. This is why it is so important that within their families parents encourage shared expressions of faith that can help children gradually to mature in their own faith. Young people in particular, who are going through a period in their lives that is so complex, rich and important for their faith, ought to feel the constant closeness and support of their families and the Church in their journey of faith. ”

There follows a passage on the WYD that must be understood has an encouragement for young people to remain in the Church in order to hear “ a magnificent calling, the vocation of love, ” that “ is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness. ”

At Rio de Janeiro, the Holy Father delivered a more direct speech : “ ‘ Put on Christ in your life, place your trust in Him and you will never be disappointed ! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one that we can call Copernican ; it removes us from the centre and puts God at the centre. ”(July 25, 2013)

This “ revolution ” is nothing less than a Counter-Reformation ! It is also a counter-revolution :


54. Absorbed and deepened in the family, faith becomes a light capable of illumining all our relationships in society. As an experience of the mercy of God the Father, it sets us on the path of brotherhood. Modernity ’[sic], sought to build a universal brotherhood based on equality, yet we gradually came to realise that this brotherhood, lacking a reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation, cannot endure. We need to return to the true basis of brotherhood. ”

Pope Francis speaks like St. Pius X :

“ No, Venerable Brethren, there is no genuine fraternity outside Christian charity. Through the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ Our Saviour, Christian charity embraces all men, comforts all, and leads all to the same faith and same heavenly happiness. By separating fraternity from Christian charity thus understood, Democracy, far from being a progress, would mean a disastrous step backwards for civilisation. If, as we desire with all our heart, the highest possible peak of well-being for society and its members is to be attained through fraternity or, as it is also called, universal solidarity, all minds must be united in the knowledge of Truth, all wills united in morality, and all hearts in the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ. This union, however, is attainable only by Catholic charity, and that is why Catholic charity alone can lead the people in the march of progress towards the ideal civilisation. ” (Letter on the Sillon, no. 24)

55. Faith, on the other hand, by revealing the love of God the Creator, enables us to respect nature all the more, and to discern in it a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care. ”

Has Pope Francis read Georges de Nantes, our mystical doctor of the Catholic Faith ? He too spoke about a “ grammar ” that had to be learned with a view to understanding the discourse of the beings and facts of creation and of the biblical, evangelical and ecclesiastical events. This would allow faith to be “ the profound welcome we give to these beings and deeds from the light they radiate, a sensible revelation of the ultimate mystery of these things, events and persons. ” (G. de Nantes, The mystical vision, CCR n° 106, p. 11)

Faith also helps us to devise models of development that are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted ; it teaches us to create just forms of government, in the realisation that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of the common good. ”

Authority does not come from man but from God, according to the doctrine of St. Paul : “ There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. ” (Rm 13:1-2)

When faith is weakened, the foundations of humanity also risk being weakened, as the poet Thomas Stearns Eliot warned...

Even better than him is the inspired poet : “ Unless Yahweh build the house, they labor in vain who build. Unless Yahweh guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch. ” (Ps 127:1,) and Jesus Himself : “ Without Me you can do nothing. ” (Jn 15:5)

In the Letter to the Hebrews we read that God is not ashamed to be called their God ; indeed, He has prepared a city for them(Heb 11:16). Here the expression is not ashamed is associated with public acknowledgment. The intention is to say that God, by His concrete actions, makes a public avowal that He is present in our midst and that He desires to solidify every human relationship. Could it be the case, instead, that we are the ones who are ashamed to call God our God ? That we are the ones who fail to confess Him as such in our public life, who fail to propose the grandeur of the life in common that He makes possible ?

The answer is self-evident. Hail the Pope who wants to restore God to His legitimate place in the public sphere !

Faith illumines life in society. If it possesses a creative light for each new moment of history, it is because it sets every event in relationship to the origin and destiny of all things in the Father Who loves us. ”

This is what Georges de Nantes called “ divine orthodromy. ”


Suffering and death are the retribution for original sin.

Pope Francis restored its true worth to suffering by recalling that God manifests Himself mainly to those who suffer and who feel weak, and through them to those who surround them.

To speak of faith often involves speaking of painful testing, yet it is precisely in such testing that Paul sees the most convincing proclamation of the Gospel, for it is in weakness and suffering that we discover God’s power which triumphs over our weakness and suffering. The Apostle himself experienced a dying that would become life for Christians (cf. 2 Co 4:7-12). In the hour of trial faith brings light, while suffering and weakness make it evident that (...) we do not proclaim ourselves ; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Co 4:5). ”

Thus it is necessary to resign oneself to suffering and death, and even to accept them out of love in order to imitate Jesus on the Cross :

Christians know that suffering cannot be eliminated, yet it can have meaning and become an act of love and entrustment into the hands of God Who does not abandon us ; in this way it can serve as a moment of growth in faith and love. By contemplating Christ’s union with the Father even at the height of His sufferings on the Cross (cf. Mk 15:34), Christians learn to share in the same gaze of Jesus. Even death is illumined and can be experienced as the ultimate call to faith. ”(no. 56)

The joy of imitating Jesus on the Cross is not the only consolation of those who suffer. There is also the hope of Heaven :

Faith is linked to hope, for even if our dwelling place here below is wasting away, we have an eternal dwelling place that God has already prepared in Christ, in His Body (cf. 2 Co 4:16-5:5). The dynamic of faith, hope and charity (cf. 1 Th 1:3; 1 Co 13:13) thus leads us to embrace the concerns of all men on our journey towards that city whose architect and builder is God(Heb 11:10), for hope does not disappoint(Rm 5:5). ”

What is lacking here is a mention of the redemptive value of the sufferings endured in union with Jesus, the expiatory Victim for our sins. We must in our flesh fill up what is lacking in the Passion of Christ, St. Paul says. We must suffer in a spirit of reparation for our sins and those of poor sinners.

The words of the Angel of Portugal : “ Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners, ” inspired Sr. Lucy of Fatima to make The Call to Sacrifice, the object of a chapter of the Apelos.

When a limb suffers, she explained, all the other limbs participate in this suffering :

“ The same thing applies in spiritual life. We are all ill ; we all have many failing and sins. It is therefore the duty of all, in union with Christ, the innocent Victim, to sacrifice ourselves in reparation for our sins and for those of our brethren, for we are all members of the one and only Mystical Body of the Lord. ” ( Calls from the Message of Fatima )

Here is the conclusion : “ Let us refuse to be robbed of hope, or to allow our hope to be dimmed by facile answers and solutions that bar us on our path. ” (no. 57)

A detail is missing here : “ on our path… ” to Heaven !


In the conclusion of the encyclical Lumen Fidei, the Pope writes : “ In Mary, the Daughter of Sion, is fulfilled the long history of faith of the Old Testament, with its account of so many faithful women, beginning with Sarah : women who, alongside the Patriarchs, were those in whom God’s promise was fulfilled and new life flowered. ” (no. 58)

This was at least the promise that could be read in Jeremiah : “ Yahweh has created a new thing upon the earth : a woman must encompass a man. ” (Jr 31:22) This can be understood about a marriage, a woman putting her arms around her man ; or else about the maternity of a Woman conceiving in Her womb the Son of God made man, as was the case for the Virgin Mary on the day of the Incarnation of the Word :

In the fullness of time, God’s Word was spoken to Mary and She received that Word into Her Heart, Her entire being, so that in Her womb it could take flesh and be born as light for humanity. ”

On the day of the Annunciation, when Mary conceived by the operation of the Holy Spirit, the King, the Son of David announced by the Word of God that the Angel transmitted, is in Her, within Her. Consequently, a very intimate relation was established between the Mother and Her Child, more intimate than that between a bridegroom and his spouse. They are truly one flesh ; one flesh that thrills with all the blessings of a spiritual love that expresses itself through inspired words such as those that we read in the Canticle of Canticles :

“ My nard gives forth its fragrance. ”

This is how personified Wisdom speaks : “ I have exhaled a perfume like cinnamon and acacia, I have breathed out a scent like choice myrrh. ” (Si 24:15) Mary identifies Herself with this Wisdom, and She exhales the perfume of Her Child :

“ My Beloved is for Me a sachet of myrrh lying in My bosom. ” (Ct 1:13)

The Pope continues : “ St. Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho, uses a striking expression ; he tells us that Mary, receiving the message of the angel, conceived faith and joy. In the Mother of Jesus, faith demonstrated its fruitfulness ; when our own spiritual lives bear fruit we become filled with joy, which is the clearest sign of faith’s grandeur. ”

This is particularly the case when we have received Holy Communion in the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Son of God present in us as He really, substantially and physically was in Her.

“ My Beloved is for Me a cluster of cypresses in the vineyards of Engedi. ” (Ct 1:14)

The Spouse speaks like personified Wisdom saying : “ I have grown tall as a palm tree in Engedi, as the rosebushes in Jericho. ” (Si 24:14)

This exchange of fragrances between the Mother and Her Son becomes a dialogue of love :

“ Ah, You are beautiful, My Beloved, ah, You are beautiful ; Your eyes are doves ! ” (Ct 1:15)

They are mirrors of the purity of the Immaculate “ full of grace. ”

“ How beautiful You are, My Beloved, and how delightful ! ” (Ct 1:16)

His beauty is that which the Word of God appropriated in the womb of the Virgin Mary, which She moulded for Him out of Her own flesh and blood. Georges de Nantes, our Father, used to say that nothing more beautiful than the white host on the paten, than the wine in the golden chalice, could ever be invented, save the very Body of Christ and the Virgin.

In Mary, the faith journey of the Old Testament was thus taken up into the following of Christ, transformed by Him and entering into the gaze of the incarnate Son of God. ”

To this beauty of Christ within Her, the Virgin Mary wishes to associate all that is “ verdant, ” that is to say, all the beauty of creation :

“ Our bed, too, is verdant ; the beams of our house are of cedar, our panelling of cypress. ” (Ct 1:17)

The “ house ” of their Covenant is the Temple of Solomon, while awaiting the house of Nazareth and the stable of Bethlehem, to which all the churches of Christendom would succeed.

The final paragraph of the encyclical is dedicated to the privileges of the Blessed Virgin. Her Son and Bridegroom can say most truthfully :

“ As a lily among the thistles, so is My Beloved among the maidens. ” (Ct 2:2)

Far from engaging, as the Modernists do, in “ dissecting the human from the divine in the Gospel and in reducing the historical Jesus to the level of any man whatsoever, forgotten, by means of our criticism and hypercriticism, whilst we place Christ the Son of God in a mythical heaven where He becomes an object of a faith of pure sentiment, ” the Holy Father is making the “ revealing reality ” of Jesus Christ present, despite or “ through the span of the centuries, which count as no obstacle for us. ” (Georges de Nantes, The Scriptures, Mystical Poems, CCR no. 106, p. 20) :

In Mary’s virginal conception, we have a clear sign of Christ’s divine Sonship. The eternal origin of Christ is in the Father. He is the Son in a total and unique sense, and so He is born in time without the intervention of a man. As the Son, Jesus brings to the world a new beginning and a new light, the fullness of God’s faithful love bestowed on humanity. ” (no. 59)

When we listen to Pope Francis’ daily homily, what Jesus experienced, “ what He knew of Himself and made manifest has been given to us to see, hear and contemplate now as the mystery of God... ” (G. de Nantes, ibid.)

Conversely Mary’s true Motherhood ensures for the Son of God an authentic human history, true flesh in which He would die on the cross and rise from the dead. Mary would accompany Jesus to the cross (cf. Jn 19:25), whence Her Motherhood would extend to each of His disciples (cf. Jn 19:26-27). ”

Georges de Nantes continues along the same lines :

“ Close to Him stands the Blessed Virgin Mary, Whose intimate and incomparable experience is to be the Mother of God, Who conceived the Word in spirit before conceiving Him in the flesh, as we read in St. Leo’s famous text at Matins each Christmas. Now, this experience related in the Gospel has become another treasure of the human tradition. In this mystery of Divine Motherhood, Mary is the model of every creature who gives a welcome to the Word of God and who keeps it, who is activated and made fruitful thereby and so at last is impelled to produce the fruit and do the works of the Word. This experience in itself is already a little closer to ours than is that of the Son of God made man and it suggests what our own mystical lives are, no matter how poor or mediocre they may be when, abandoning ourselves to the Creative Power, we thereby give expression to the Word with all our being, to the Splendour of Glory as much as in us lies. ”

The Pope continues :

She will also be present in the upper room after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, joining the Apostles in imploring the gift of the Spirit (cf. Ac 1:14). The movement of love between Father, Son and Spirit runs through our history, and Christ draws us to Himself in order to save us (cf. Jn 12:32). At the centre of our faith is the confession of Jesus, the Son of God, born of a Woman, Who brings us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, to adoptive filiation (cf. Gal 4:4). ”

The encyclical ends with a prayer to “ Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith, ” so that She may teach us to imitate Abraham !

Mother, help our faith ! Open our ears to hear God’s Word and to recognise His voice and call.

Awaken in us a desire to follow in His footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive His promise. ”

Fr. de Nantes wrote :

“ Just as ‘ Abraham saw His Day and rejoiced ’ (Jn 8:56) two thousand years in advance, so we too see Him and rejoice. For Abraham’s vision under the Oak tree at Mambre belongs to our world as does the crossing of the Red Sea, the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor, the vision of the Risen Lord in the mist of a beautiful spring morning by Lake Tiberias, the beheading of St. Paul on the Ostian Way, the sending of missionaries to the English by St. Gregory, St. Louis embarking on the crusade, Joan of Arc present at the King’s anointing in Reims and her burning at the stake in Rouen, St. Therese praying Jesus for Pranzini, that old priest passing in the street below, the Host in the Tabernacle… the list is far from exhaustive. Of such is our mystical food, our gnosis, our vision. ” (ibid., p. 20)

Therefore we can make Pope Francis’ prayer our own :

Help us to be touched by His love, that we may touch Him in faith. Help us to entrust ourselves fully to Him and to believe in His love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature. Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. Remind us that those who believe are never alone. ”

In fact, “ the Jewish scriptures belong to Christians and the Christian Scriptures, the total Revelation, belong to everyone, each being one whole or holon in a much vaster chain whose general totality or Catholon expresses the mystery of universal history, otherwise known as Catholicism. ” (G. de Nantes, ibid.)

Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that He may be light for our path. May this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ Himself, Your Son, our Lord ! Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 29 June, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in the year 2013, the first of my pontificate. ”

“ Franciscus. ”


We can truly apply to Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, what Georges de Nantes, our Father, wrote about John Paul II’s first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, with“ a sacred anguish for the Church and for our countries, the salvation of which depends entirely upon the Church ” : it contains “ two themes that can no more blend with each other than oil and water in a glass ” (CCR no. 110, April 1979). The difference lies in the explanation of this disturbing ambiguity : this “ four-handed ” encyclical unequivocally reflects two religions : the religion of Pope Francis, which is Catholic, and Pope Benedict XVI’s, which no longer is.

To distinguish the one from the other is an easy and delightful exercise. The encyclical begins with an affirmation of rare plenitude : “ Those who believe, see ; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets. ”

This bedazzlement is immediately followed by an incursion of darkness :

“ Yet in speaking of the light of faith, we can almost hear the objections of many of our contemporaries. In modernity, that light might have been considered sufficient for societies of old, but was felt to be of no use for new times, for a humanity come of age… ”(no. 2)

With a quotation of Nietzsche as proof… the author is obvious.

Light, however, returns when “ Christians learn to share in Christ’s own spiritual experience and to see all things through His eyes ” (no. 46), following Pope Francis’s thought.

It is a mystical invasion whereby the Pope’s thought follows the same line as Fr. Georges de Nantes’, in the brilliant courses he taught at the Mutualité Conference Hall : Kerygmatics (1973), Apologetics (1974), A Mysticism for Our Time (1978), Scientific Apologetics (1981), Total Metaphysics (1982), Total Apologetics (1985), Total Morality (1986), Total Theology (1982), and also Blessed Duns Scotus’ Metaphysics (1996) : The Person of Jesus Embodies the World.

“ Christian faith is centred on Christ ; it is the confession that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead (cf. Rm 10:9). All the threads of the Old Testament converge on Christ [...]. In the love of God revealed in Jesus, faith perceives the foundation on which all reality and its final destiny rest ” (no. 15)... Heaven.

That goes without saying, but it would be better to say it. Nevertheless, according to this encyclical, “ faith’s new way of seeing things is centred on Christ, ” and no longer on ‘man’ (no. 20).

This is an immense restoration of order, without which the reforming of the Curia itself would not even make sense :

“ The light of faith is the light of a Countenance in which the Father is seen. In the Fourth Gospel, the truth that faith attains is the revelation of the Father in the Son, in His flesh and in His earthly deeds, a truth that can be defined as the light-filled life of Jesus ” (no. 30).