In these days of Islamic takeover of Afghanistan, few saints in the Church evoke my admiration as St. John of Damascus (675–749).
He was a Catholic Syrian monk and priest. He was a scholar and was declared a Doctor of the Church. He was a great promoter of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven centuries before Pope Pius XII declared it a formal dogma in the Church in 1950. But what interests me is that he lived under Islam.
Damascus was overrun by the Arabs in 630. The writings of St. John on Islam are among the earliest surviving Christian testimonies about Islam. He lived under the Dhimmi system in Damascus and had full experience of what it meant to live with Islamic rule, even when it was supposedly "benevolent" towards Christians.
We tend to forget that Syria was a Catholic country before it was overrun by the fanatic armies of Muhammad.
He left us several writings, but one in particular interested me today: The Fount of Knowledge, and especially the chapter called the "Critique of Islam." He wrote in On Heresies:
From that time to the present a false prophet named Muhammad has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from Heaven.
He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his, and he gave it to them as an object of veneration. ...
There are many other extraordinary and quite ridiculous things in this book which he boasts was sent down to him from God. But when we ask: "And who is there to testify that God gave him the book? And which of the prophets foretold that such a prophet would rise up?" — they are at a loss.
And we remark that Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai with God appearing in the sight of all the people in cloud and fire, and darkness and storm. And we say that all the prophets from Moses on down foretold the coming of Christ and how Christ God (and incarnate Son of God) was to come and to be crucified and die and rise again, and how He was to be the judge of the living and dead.
Then, when we say: "How is it that this prophet of yours did not come in the same way, with others bearing witness to him? And how is it that God did not in your presence present this man with the book to which you refer, even as He gave the Law to Moses, with the people looking on and the mountain smoking, so that you, too, might have certainty?"
They answer that God does as He pleases. "This," we say, "we know, but we are asking how the book came down to your prophet." Then they reply that the book came down to him while he was asleep ... ."
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–74), writing about Islam, said Muhammad perverted the Old and New Testaments and forbade his followers to read the originals:
Nor do divine pronouncements on the part of preceding prophets offer him [Muhammad] any witness. On the contrary, he perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law. It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity.
Muhammad, according to St. Thomas in Summa Contra Gentiles, attracted "brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Muhammad forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms." Aquinas warned: "Truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity. It is thus clear that those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly."
In the Catholic Herald in 2017, Msgr. Mauro Longhi of the Opus Dei prelature recounted a conversation he had with Pope St. John Paul II in March of 1993 on one of their many hiking trips in the mountains:
Then Wojtyła changed tone, and making me privy to one of his nighttime visions, told me, "Tell this to those whom you will meet in the Church of the third millennium" [that's us, folks!].
[He said] "I see the Church afflicted by a deadly scourge. Deeper, more painful and more deadly than those of this millennium [referring to communism and Nazi totalitarianism]. It's called Islamism. They will invade Europe. I saw the hordes coming from the West to the East," and he described to me the countries one by one: from Morocco to Libya to Egypt, and so on to the eastern parts.
The Holy Father added, "They will invade Europe. Europe will be like a cellar, old relics, shadowy, cobwebs, family heirlooms. You, the Church of the third millennium, will have to contain the invasion. Not with armies — armies will not suffice — but with your faith, lived with integrity."
When we see Doctors of the Church, saints and popes warning us about the spread of this pagan heresy, we would be real fools in not listening to them. Because this is what we are seeing right now — the verification of the vision of Pope St. John Paul II, and the invasion of Islamism into Europe. Unfortunately, no noticeable resistance is being offered to it except from a few powerfully independent counties who know what it is like to suffer under the yoke of Islamic dhimmitude, and who are defying the European Union's forceful institution of "refugee" quotas.
As if that is not bad enough, the highest authority in the Church today is behind and supporting this invasion by a misguided sense of "welcoming strangers."
There's a dangerous confusion in America today — especially among bishops — between "refugee" and "immigrant." A refugee is someone who comes to America in order to escape persecution in his homeland, made unstable by dictators. Such folks are Venezuelans, Cubans and Christians in the Middle East. We are called to help them, to receive them, to keep them until such time as the situation improves in their own country, and they may go back. That is what happened to the Holy Family: they fled persecution from Herod in the Holy Land, and stayed away until the situations improved; and as it did improve with his death, they went back.
But "immigrant" is totally different; these are people who want a better life for themselves and their families. They do not suffer persecution for their faith or political stance. It is a praiseworthy goal, but they must obey the law of the land they want to live in, and do not have the inherent right to be accepted. The current administration is abusing the law with the illegals with the support of Chicago's Cdl. Blase Cupich and company. Immigration is a privilege, not a right.
Yes, a refugee is not the same as an immigrant, and an immigrant, especially an illegal immigrant, is not the same as a refugee.
Pope St. John Paul II may well be turning over in his grave while witnessing the disgraceful display of capitulation towards Islam! Yes, Islam, the most misogynistic, racist, religiously bigoted and murderously violent supremacist ideology on the face of the earth.
"The perverse are difficult to be corrected, and the number of fools is infinite" (Ecclesiastes 1:15), is a Scripture verse that currently applies to Europe and to America.