The Bishop Speaks

Bishop Louis Vezelis O.F.M.

The first antichrist was Lucifer, the highest of the pure spirits created by God.

The first act of disobedience of the creature towards the Creator was when Lucifer made known his willful act: "Non serviam!" - "I will not obey!" `To serve" means to obey the wants or needs of someone else. The servant is at the beck and call of another. Serving and obeying are, basically, the same thing.

`To obey' implies a relationship between two beings. This relationship requires that one party has the right to command and the other party has the obligation to execute that command. An officer in the military is empowered by his government to issue commands to other citizens subject to that same government in limited circumstances. Those circumstances are clearly defined as when one citizen becomes a soldier subject to the authority of the officer under whose command he has been placed.

There is no human being who is so independent that he need not obey anyone. Reduced to the simplest terms, every creature of intelligence and free will is ultimately bound to obey God, his Creator. It is God, the Supreme Being, Who has the ultimate right to every creature's obedience.

This is the original right order as established by God, the Creator. Every being was designed by God to serve a specific purpose. From the smallest subatomic particle to the most exalted angel - and everything in between - all without exception were made by God for a specific purpose. And, it is in the faithful fulfilling of each being's specific purpose that peace and harmony are maintained. This is what is meant by `right order.' Or, as some might say, `A place for everything and everything in its place.'

Although all beings of a species are created equal in so far as they partake of the same essence, their position in space and time are not equal. `Equality' as too often misunderstood would result in the most absurd impossibilities. For example: In order to be perfectly `equal' (And equality would require perfection) every cat would have to occupy the same place in space at the same time. Otherwise, there would be `inequality' since one cat would be sleeping on a soft sofa while another is rummaging garbage cans at Midnight.

Ever since that first act of disobedience to God, disorder has ruled a creation once subject to divine order.

Adam, the first human being, was created in a state of grace. His remaining in this state of grace was dependent upon his free choice to obey God's command. The command was not that difficult to obey.

We know that God gave Adam a command before Eve was created from his side. The Lord said: "From every tree of the garden you may eat; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you must not eat; for the day you eat of it, you must die" (Gen.2, 16).

Now there were two trees in the Garden of Eden - besides all the other trees that were "pleasant to the sight and good for food...".

Besides all these other trees, there were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Then, God made the woman. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were already existing. Adam had command of all of the creatures in the Garden. He already had named them (which indicated his dominion over them).

It is a matter of revealed truth that God made the first woman from the man, Adam.

"The Lord God cast the man into a deep sleep and, while he slept, took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib which the Lord God took from the man, he made into a woman, and brought her to him." (Ibid.2,21).

It is now Adam who speaks: "She now is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, for from man she has been taken" (Ibid. 2, 23).

Adam then proceeds to give the woman a name, just as he gave a name to every other creature over whom God had placed him. He calls the first woman `Woman.' He does this because, as he says, "for from man she has been taken." In Hebrew the word is `ishah': `from man,' i.e., `woman'; `ish': man.

There follows the foundation for the Scriptural injunction which does not allow divorce: "For this reason a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh" (Ibid. 2, 24").

The man and the woman complete each other and for this reason they form but one flesh in the eyes of their Maker. While in the state of grace, the new unit lived harmoniously. Adam was the lord and Eve was the helpmate and companion. They were one flesh, but like every organ in the body has its place and purpose, the woman was subordinate to the man. This subordination was not one of demeaning slavery.

The original order of matrimony was based on divine order joyfully observed by these two intelligent beings. It was only after the first act of disobedience that the right order was inverted and subsequently all of innocent nature in the Garden was subverted to Satan's disorder.

Satan and his followers were already wreaking havoc in the rest of creation. The Garden was that plot of geographic soil where Satan had not yet exercised his dominion. But, the warning had been sounded: The tempter would come to test the good will of the man and the woman.

"...but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you must not eat; for the day you eat of it, you must die." This was the clear warning; this was the simple prohibition imposed on the man, and later upon the woman because she, too, was part of the man.

Both had one mind and one heart. Here was the first human example of true love.

The truth and unwavering continuity of God's injunction has not been altered. The sacredness of the marriage bond would only be broken after the woman disobeyed her husband and turned to a lesser creature, the Serpent.

The man and woman were naked, but they had no reason to be ashamed because all things - including their bodies - were ordered to the purpose for which God made them. In the beginning, nudity did not destroy love; but now, after turning away from God, even nudity became a shameful thing and lust destroyed love.

Among the signs of the demonic today, Archbishop Sheen numbered nudity. Nudity before the fall was not cause for shame; but why did it become a cause for shame after the fall? What was it that made that same human body become an object of shame? Why is it that we consider those who undress in public as `shameless'?

The reason is because shame is natural human sentiment experienced when the conscience is violated. Shame is the painful feeling of guilt for having done something indecent or for having disgraced or dishonored oneself. Only those who have some self-respect can feel shame.

There are only two situations when shame is not experienced. The first is when God's laws are obeyed and this is the testimony of a good conscience. Secondly, shame is not experienced when all morality and sense of honor are destroyed by constant offenses against God's laws. In the first case, conscience is alive; in the second, conscience is dead.

We are living in an age when nudity and perversity are touted; when it is considered never too early to corrupt the young. It is a shameless society. Hardly anyone is able to still blush today because to blush means to have a conscience.

It was only after they had disobeyed God that the first man and woman perceived their nakedness. Their nakedness was not only manifest in their bodies, but especially in their souls. Lacking supernatural grace, they lacked even the right order in their bodies. Love became lust. And for this reason they were now ashamed of each other. They felt the need to conceal that part of their bodies that once were honorable, but now have become dishonorable.

No longer did the flesh obey the spirit because the spirit no longer obeyed God.

Today, the consequences of disobedience to God's laws are heightened by the false feeling of an innocence that is not there. Vice is made to appear as virtue, and genuine virtue is now considered an obstacle to `happiness.'

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce, He said to them:

"Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, made them male and female, and said `For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?

Therefore now they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder." (Matt. 19, 4-6).

But the Pharisees would not relent. They hypocritically invoked Moses by saying: "Why then did Moses command to give a written notice of dismissal, and to put her away?" they were referring to cases of infidelity. Although, it appears clear that they had some other ideas, too.

Our Lord replied: "Because Moses, by reason of the hardness of your heart, permitted you to put away your wives; but it was not so from the beginning." (Ibid.)

Jesus then put an end to all such disputes on the matter by announcing the command of God: "And I say to you, that whoever puts way his wife, except for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a woman who has been put away commits adultery." (Ibid.)

The heretics of the Old Testament (today's "Jews") recognized divorce just as today the Devil could find no better way to destroy God's created image than to drive a wedge between the two persons united in one flesh. Man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God because in God there are Three Divine Persons united in the perfect unity of one divinity.

The one flesh of the two united persons were meant to bring forth a third person who would form a trinity of persons. The man expresses the power of God, the Father; the woman expresses the Word which is the Son, and the child, or children, completes the trinity by expressing the Holy Ghost which is the mutual love of the Father and the Son.

Except for those relatively few circumstances when mutual love is physically unable to be made visible in the begetting of a third person, matrimonial union that refuses to be fruitful is a hideous thing. For this reason, birth control is an abomination. Abortion of one's infant child is murder.

These crimes are primarily offenses against God; secondarily, they are offenses against the individuals because they falsify and make a lie of the love once pledged. Marriage today is basically nothing more than a public approval for unbridled lust.

While man obeyed God, all of nature obeyed man. This right order was not to last. Satan would see to it. And thus, the Devil becomes the Tempter, the Deceiver, the Hypocrite.

Then the Tempter came. He was clever and cunning. He did not present himself to the man because the man had the special grace of his state. The man would be more difficult to approach directly. A stratagem was needed. He found it. It was called `woman.'

The Tempter approaches the woman and engages in casual conversation. A lesson for all: Beware of people who come to you and begin with a question. This is what the Pharisees always did. They invariably played ignorant so as to set the trap for Our Lord. They still do these things.

The Father of Lies asked the woman: "Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" (Gen.3,1).

It is obvious that the woman understood the Serpent to mean that they were not to eat anything. We are told her reply so that no one might question or attempt to excuse her act of disobedience. Most people seek to justify their sins by appealing to ignorance. It is clear that there was no such ignorance on the part of the woman, for she answered: "Of the fruit of all the trees in the garden we may eat; but `Of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden,' God said, `you shall not eat, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"(Ibid.3,2).

The stage is set. The truth has been made manifest. There is no question of doubt or ignorance. All is very clear: "Of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden you shall not eat, neither shall you touch it, lest you die"

The woman has heard the command; she knows what it is and knows the consequences of disobedience.

God has spoken through her husband for it was to her husband that God had first given the command. Now that they were one flesh, it was sufficient that the head of this mystical union be informed. God has a way of delegating His authority.

Satan who has appeared to the woman in the form of a lesser creature than she, begins by contradicting her husband's understanding of God's command to him. He says to the woman: "No, you shall not die; for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen.3, 4-5).

God told the man that he would die if he disobeyed; the man shared this information with his helpmate and companion. Now, a seemingly lower creature contradicts the man and in so doing, contradicts God.

All temptations make evil look good, and good look bad. The Devil can only tempt us with what is perceived to be good. Thus, the need for deception.

The promise of the Tempter had a foundation in reality. It was not unnatural to desire

Obviously, neither the man nor the woman possessed the fullness of knowledge. This certainly proves that the human spirit can never be fully satisfied in its knowing and in its loving when limited to created things. The human spirit is restless in its quest for the fullness of knowledge and in search for perfect love. These qualities of truth and goodness are only acquired with time and effort. Even in the supernatural life of grace, the created spirit is not united to the Uncreated Spirit instantaneously. Thus, there was some foundation of truth in the Devil's suggestion that disobedience to God's command would make them `like God.'

We have come from God, and we can never rest until we return to God - according to the penetrating insight of St. Augustine.

The woman could relate to the positive part of the temptation because it corresponded to an innate desire placed there by God Himself. She could not quite relate to the negative part - the part of knowing evil and dying. She had never known evil nor could she even comprehend the reality of `death.' These two ideas paled in significance to the imposing thought of `being like God.' Wouldn't you wish to be `like God'? Of course you would - people are trying to do just that all the time.

The woman then prevailed upon her husband to become a partner in her act of disobedience. Torn between obedience to a God Whom he could not see, and a physical companion whom he could see, the man chose the woman. From this act followed the condemnation of the entire human race which sprung from the first man and the first woman.

It was no defense then, and it will not be a defense now or ever for the man to blame the woman. The right order established by God, the Creator, was inverted _ the lord became the subject and the subject became the lord.

The Lord God called the man (Not the woman!) and said to him, "Where are you?" But the only foolish reply the man would make was to answer God by saying: "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid." (Ibid. 3, 10).

The man was not afraid to show himself before God earlier. Why is it that suddenly his nakedness becomes a reason to hide from God? Rightly does God ask: "Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten then of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat"(Ibid.).

No one can hide his conscience from God. The man tried to blame the woman, and the woman tried to blame the serpent. But, notice the subtle nuance of the truth here. The man does not say that he was deceived by the woman. He simply says: "The woman you placed at my side gave me fruit from the tree and I ate" (Ibid.).

The man was not deceived by a lesser creature. He knew exactly what he was doing and choose to be with his sinful wife rather than with God.

And the woman? What did she try to do? She attempted after to shift the blame upon a lesser creature by admitting her fragility and susceptibility to be a victim of deception.

Even at the last moment the woman looks to blame someone else: To the question directed to her "Why have you done this?" the woman simply says: "The serpent deceived me and I ate." (Ibid.).

We have here an example of all those who act beyond their competency and, therefore, outside of their position. The woman did not have the grace to resist the serpent because she had already usurped the God-given authority of her husband.

There should be a lesson for all our people today who so readily abandon their responsibilities. Since the original family established by God to watch over all of creation fell into sin and found itself in the same need for a Redeemer, God established a new family _ the Holy Family _ to be the means whereby holiness might once more enter the world to return all things to God. The first Adam and the first Eve found themselves no longer the hope of all nature that groans for the children of God to lead it out of its subjugation to Satan. Now, all mankind was likewise in need of a Redeemer.

The new hope of mankind is to be found in Jesus Christ and in the example of the Holy Family.

Only a return to the order established by God in all our social structures can open the way to peace and justice in this world.

The only other alternative is to prepare oneself to embrace the slave-state of the Antichrist.

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