You can’t make this stuff up!

‘A Heart On Fire for Demons’: Official Synod Publication Promotes Praying for Reptiles and Devils

We all knew the Synod on Synodality would be demonic. What we didn’t know was that they were going to advertise it so openly.

Not only is the infernal assembly taking place in the hellish Paul VI audience hall, which resembles the head of a snake, has no Catholic artwork in it, and presents a ghastly-looking demon as the ‘Resurrected Christ’. Even more so, the synod’s official spiritual resource guide openly asks people to have a “merciful heart” that is “on fire” not only for other people but also “for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists”. And then some.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Before we get started, let’s first give a quick tip of the hat to Ann Barnhardt, who appears to have been the first to break this story, on Oct. 18. (We also want to take the opportunity to invite her once more to respond to our refutation of her position regarding the alleged ‘substantial error’ in Benedict XVI’s resignation, but that’s not our topic now.)

A ‘Spirituality’ of Synodality

“The synodal process is first and foremost a spiritual path”, the official synod web site informs us. Therefore, they have put together for all members of the synod a 58-page document entitled Towards a Spirituality for Synodality, and made it freely available for public download. Read it at your own risk:

The description on page 3 (numbered page 1) reads: “This document provides a selective overview of the principal aspects and resources helpful in developing a spirituality for synodality and the synodal process.”

Perusing the document, one notices right away the incredibly childish layout of the whole thing. Even as a resource guide for World Youth Day it could not be taken seriously. That, however, is the least of its problems.

On page 31 (numbered page 29), the following text appears:

Discernment as attunement – a metaphor. In many ways, we can see the gift of discernment in musical terms. Often, we learn to sing through singing with others. From them, we learn to recognise the true and false notes. Gradually, we become familiar with the music and we begin almost intuitively to know when we are in harmony. So, too, from familiarity with God, we can come to recognise what is true and in harmony with God’s purpose and what is out of tune or strikes a false note.

We also learn that which is God’s way of loving and acting for the salvation of the world through the new ‘music of the Cross’. In the end, discernment is an act of love for God and for neighbour. It is the knowledge that comes through love. In discerning in and through love, we can begin to comprehend reality in all its relationships and in its ultimate destiny to participate in God’s triune life. Discernment, then, is also an opening of the heart in love and mercy to all things. As St Isaac of Nineveh (St Isaac the Syrian) expresses it:

“What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them, the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled, and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation. For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner, such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God.”

(bold print given; the source for the ‘Saint’ Isaac quote is given as “First Collection, Homily 74.”)

Since this is somewhat hard to believe (or is it, at this point?), here is a screenshot of the actual page from the synodal ‘spiritual’ handbook (click image for larger view):

One thing is certain: The quote attributed to “St Isaac of Nineveh (St Isaac the Syrian)” is accurate. It appears in sundry books about the mystic and is even identified as a “well-known text” by one source (The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, p. 42), though it is sometimes identified as Homily 71 rather than 74.

Now, inevitably, the question presents itself:

Who was ‘Saint Isaac the Syrian, of Nineveh’?

It does not take long to find out that Isaac was a bishop and a hermit who lived in the seventh century but was not a Catholic. In fact, he was a Nestorian heretic, although there is some reason to believe he may have converted to Catholicism toward the end of his life. However, not having any concrete evidence of that, we will presume he died in the religion he professed for most of his life.

As a Nestorian, he would obviously be no saint at all, and it seems he is venerated mostly by the Eastern Orthodox. (Even though there may be some Eastern churches in communion with Rome who venerate him, that does not mean he is necessarily a Catholic saint.)

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1910 has the following biographical sketch of Isaac of Nineveh:

A Nestorian bishop of that city in the latter half of the seventh century, being consecrated by the Nestorian Patriarch George (660-80). Originally a monk of the monastery of Bethabe in Kurdistan, he abdicated for unknown reasons after an episcopate of but five months, and retired to the monastery of Rabban Shapur, where he died at an advanced age, blind through study and austerity. Towards the end of his life he passed under a cloud as his Nestorian orthodoxy became suspected. He was author of three theses, which found but little acceptance amongst Nestorians. Daniel Bar Tubanita, Bishop of Beth Garmai (some 100 miles south-east of Mossul), took umbrage at his teaching and became his ardent opponent. The precise contents of these theses are not known, but they were of too Catholic a character to be compatible with Nestorian heresy. From an extant prayer of his, addressed to Christ it is certainly difficult to realize that its author was a Nestorian. Eager to claim so great a writer, the monophysites falsified his biography, placing his life at the beginning of the seventh century, making him a monk of the Jacobite monastery of Mar Mattai, and stating that he retired to the desert of Scete in Egypt. Since the discovery of Ishodenah’s “Book of Chastity” by Chabot in 1895 the above details of Isaac’s life are beyond doubt, and all earlier accounts must be corrected accordingly.

… Isaac’s writings possess passages of singular beauty and elevation, and remind the reader of Thomas à Kempis.

(Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Isaac of Nineveh”)

Isaac’s entry in the Encyclopedia of Monasticism confirms that he was “a member of the Church of the East, commonly known as ‘Nestorian’ because of the sharply Dyophysite Christological position that it held (although historically it had little or nothing to do with Nestorius).” The same entry also addresses the obnoxious prayer on the “merciful heart” the synodalists have included in their spiritual guidebook. The author’s explanation of it is found, quite appropriately, on page 666:

The main theme of Isaac’s theology is that of divine love. God Himself, in Isaac’s understanding, is first of all immeasurable and boundless love. Divine love is beyond human understanding and stands above description in words. It is the main reason for the creation of the universe and is the driving force behind the whole of creation. Divine love dwells at the foundation of the universe, it governs the world, and it will lead the world to a glorious outcome when the latter will be entirely “consumed” by the Godhead. God loves equally the righteous and sinners, angels and demons. God’s love toward fallen angels does not diminish as a result of their fall, and it is not less than the fullness of love that He has toward other angels.

If God is love by His nature, everyone who has acquired perfect love and mercy torwards all of creation thereby becomes godlike. Characteristic in this connection is Isaac’s famous text on the “merciful heart,” that attainment through which one can become like God: … [quotes prayer]

Thus, the “merciful heart” in a person is the image and likeness of God’s mercy, which embraces the whole of creation — people, animals, reptiles, and demons. With God there in [sic] no hatred toward anyone but rather all-embracing love, which does not distinguish between righteous and sinner, between a friend of truth and an enemy of truth, or between angel and demon.

(Hilarion Alfeyev, in William M. Johnston, ed., Encyclopedia of Monasticism, Volume 1 (Chicago, IL: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000), s.v. “Isaac the Syrian (Isaac of Nineveh), St.”, p. 666.)

It is difficult to count all the heresies in Isaac’s thought as laid out above, but at least now we understand better why he wrote what he wrote, and why the synodalists like him so much. In fact, the above is reminiscent of ‘Pope’ Francis’ endless blather about mercy and forgiveness while at the same time consistently refusing to talk about God’s justice or the conditions necessary for obtaining forgiveness in the first place. Isaac’s vision also reminds one of the crazy “omega point” pseudo-theology of the Jesuit evolutionist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), who was just recently endorsed by Bergoglio.

So where did this ‘Saint’ Isaac get his strange ideas? He certainly did not find them in the New Testament, nor did he receive them from the Catholic magisterium. Scholar Sabino Chialà of the Monastic Community of Bose “suggests that it is out of Isaac’s own experience of mercy … that he developed his theories of Apocatastasis and how they do not contain anything contrary to the Gospel. And that Isaac was informed and motivated more by his own insight and experience than by the controversy surrounding the issue” (Isaac the Syrian’s Spiritual Works, ed. and trans. by Mary T. Hansbury [Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2016], p. 341).

Now that would explain it: Isaac based his doctrine on subjective experience and his own ideas rather than on divine revelation. No wonder he is making an appearance at the synod now, which is all about consulting people’s experience to discover something about God!

The Novus Ordo Modernists have spent decades making theology and faith a matter of experience. ‘Pope’ Francis in particular loves to talk about faith and mercy as an experience: “Faith … is born and reborn from a life-giving encounter with Jesus, from experiencing how his mercy illumines every situation in our lives” (Homily at Vartanants Square in Gyumri, Armenia, June 25, 2016). Two other examples of Bergoglio’s predilection for ‘experience’ can be found here and here.

Isaac of Nineveh’s Heresy: Apocatastasis or Universal Salvation

In one of his other writings, Isaac the Syrian explains a bit more his belief about a final reconciliation of all creatures with God:

I am of the opinion that He is going to manifest some wonderful outcome, a matter of immense and ineffable compassion on the part of the glorious Creator, with respect to the ordering of this difficult matter of (Gehenna’s) torment: out of it the wealth of His love and power and wisdom will become known all the more – and so will the insistent might of the waves of His goodness. (Isaac II. XXXIX.6)

(Quoted in Isaac the Syrian’s Spiritual Works, pp. 341-342)

Such are Isaac’s thoughts, and they are false. In fact, the Catholic Church has long condemned them as heretical.

The heresy that underlies Isaac’s prayer is a kind of universal salvation (universalism). A more precise term for it is “Apocatastasis“. The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907 defines it as “the doctrine which teaches that a time will come when all free creatures will share in the grace of salvation; in a special way, the devils and lost souls.” In other words, Apocatastasis holds that in the end, all creatures capable of beatitude will be eternally happy with God in heaven. ‘St.’ Isaac apparently goes further still, extending beatitude to irrational creatures as well, such as reptiles and other animals.

But could not demons — the fallen angels — receive forgiveness from God at some point? Could they not also share in God’s boundless mercy? No, they could not. The reason why is that “due to their spiritual nature, once they have made their free choice between good and evil they are immutable in their will and so without possibility of repentance” (Pietro Parente et al., eds., Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, s.v. “demon, devil”, p. 73). Thus, like damned souls, they cannot repent and thus are lost forever.

The heresy of Apocatastasis, which was infamously promoted by the Church Father Origen, who on that account is not revered as a saint, necessarily denies either the existence or at least the eternity of hell. If in the end, everyone goes to Heaven, eternal punishment cannot be real.

Thus, Pope Vigilius in 543 condemned this dangerous and heretical position as follows: “If anyone says or holds that the punishment of the demons and of impious men is temporary, and that it will have an end at some time, that is to say, there will be a complete restoration of the demons or of impious men, let him be anathema” (Canons against Origen, Canon 9; Denz. 211).

Summary and Concluding Thoughts

So, let us summarize.

Isaac of Nineveh is not a saint; he was not a Catholic; he is not well known; he believed in and promoted the condemned heresy of Apocatastasis; and, although some may be trying to rehabilitate him now, we can infer that, so far at least, he has had little significance even in the Vatican II Church because the New Catholic Encyclopedia of 2003 does not even have an entry on him.

Naturally, then, we must ask: Why did the Synod on Synodality bother to pull out a quote from this non-Catholic monk that encourages people to pray for reptiles and demons, neither of which are capable of eternal beatitude? Could they not find better (and real) saints to quote — especially Catholic saints who give spiritual advice that does not imply or promote the heresy of universal salvation?

That is the real issue at stake here: not why a non-Catholic hermit of the 7th century thought we should pray for demons and reptiles, but why a ‘Catholic’ Synod on Synodality in 2023 AD would see fit to repeat his words and promote his idea as characteristic of a sound spirituality.

We know that at least since the eco-encyclical Laudato Si’, published in 2015, the Vatican II Church under ‘Pope’ Francis has manifested a certain undue affection for “the things that are upon the earth” (Col 3:2). Recall, for example, the abominable climate light show that was projected onto the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception that same year:

With regard to reptiles and other creeping things — let’s not forget that in the Garden of Eden the devil manifested himself as a serpent (see Gen 3:1ff.) — St. Paul’s warning to the Romans comes to mind:

For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient…

(Romans 1:22-28)

It is amazing to see St. Paul connecting the worship of the creature with the vice of sodomy, but it may just explain the ‘spirituality’ of the Synod a bit more.

Given all of the above, we can only imagine how the bidding prayers will go at the next synod-inspired ‘Eucharistic celebration’: “For all demons and reptiles: that they may receive God’s love and mercy and rejoice with us as we move forward on our journey toward a civilization of peace and love, we pray to the Lord….” Ouch!

By the way: The Synod on Synodality leaders are not the first to bring up Isaac the Syrian. Earlier this year, ‘Pope’ Francis quoted him in his Urbi et Orbi Easter address, and on May 25, 2002, during a visit to Bulgaria, ‘Pope’ John Paul II said to a number of Orthodox clerics that monks “share in God’s love for all creatures, and they love — as Isaac the Syrian says — the very enemies of truth” (Address at the Monastery of Rila, n. 6).

The Vatican II Sect is straight from hell, and they are beginning to admit it.

Image sources: composite with elements from and Shutterstock (Duda Vasilii/milart)
Licenses: public domain and paid

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