Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fighting for the Faith

This post was written almost entirely by a correspondent who emailed his thoughts to me last week. If you’ve been keeping up with the Vortex, you’ll find that these ideas sound very similar to those expressed by Michael Voris, but the email actually preceded the Vortex episodes. I think that people of a traditional Catholic bent are beginning to think alike, to see the writing on the wall. Since my correspondent’s thoughts express mine so well, I’m just publishing his email with only minor changes and editing, and with just a few comments of my own.

It seems to me rather self-evident that priests who behave as they do at abusive and sacrilegious Masses can't possibly believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord. Such priests have apparently lost whatever faith they may have once had and are merely going through the motions of Catholic priesthood; otherwise, they would not be able to condone and celebrate such Masses.

Now I'm starting to believe that the same conclusions can be drawn about our bishops in general: that they have lost their faith, assuming they once had any. And why do I think this? Because you can't truly claim to believe what the Catholic Church believes and teaches and behave as so many bishops do towards heresy, dissent, public scandal, and sacrilegious liturgy. If a priest reveals his lack of faith by the way he conducts himself at Mass, then a bishop reveals the same lack of faith by his own conduct at Mass and in the exercise of episcopal office.

I think I have been operating on the assumption that if we just speak the Truth to our bishops and priests, then things will start to move in the right direction. That is, of course, assuming that there is indeed both faith and a genuine desire to conform oneself to the Truth in said priests and bishops. Can we look around and say, honestly, that our priests and bishops, in general, are such fertile soil? No. We can't. Personally, I can attest to the fact that even when I have respectfully presented a request that is documented with references to the appropriate documents, priest and bishops are often unwilling to even acknowledge that there is a problem. (There have been a few exceptions to this, but those have been few and far between, in my experience.)

Once a bishop told me that the problem was that I was always pointing out something that was wrong. I was taken aback, and I reminded him of the many times I had written to him to commend him on his bi-weekly newspaper column, or sent him a congratulatory card on his anniversary, or defended him when other parishioners bad-mouthed him. I reminded this bishop that he had even directed a newspaper reporter to speak to me when the reporter was writing an article about him. When I pointed out these things, he acknowledged that perhaps he had been a little “thin-skinned”. But my concerns were still not addressed.

Others, I know, have had the similar experiences. Yet, we keep doing what has become the "man in the street" definition of insanity: we do, and encourage others to do, the same thing over and over, and expect different results from what we have experienced: Talk/write to your priest/bishop; write to the Papal Nuncio if you don't get a satisfactory answer from your priest/bishop; and then, if you're still not satisfied, write to Rome with all appropriate and necessary documentation.

Don't we all have the T-shirt for "been there, done that" to know that this has accomplished nothing?

I guess we all need the sense that we are doing something in response to the massive apostasy that is all around us at so many levels in the Church – which is absolutely frightening. Of course, we need to faithfully learn, teach, and defend the Truth. That is never out of season. But I'm not sure we don't need to start considering "survival strategies" for the faithful Catholics living in what has become a "foreign land" for the practice of the Faith. We are modern day "recusants" living in a visible Church that is hostile to the Faith. Our bishops and priests, in general, show no concern for the salvation of souls. They have generally failed to preach on the evil of contraception, homosexual marriage, and even abortion; and they have allowed a dilution of the Truths of the faith that make many parishes resemble Protestant congregations rather than faithful Catholics.   

The Truths of the faith are essential to the salvation of souls. But then, I guess if you don't really believe in Hell, then the salvation of souls is a rather pointless concern because we're all already “saved” – a Protestant belief, of course, not a Catholic one. And if we’re already saved, there’s not much point to the pursuit of holiness on earth, is there? If we’re all going straight to Heaven, there’s no need to “offer up” our sufferings for the poor souls in purgatory…because purgatory, like hell, must be empty. And if we’re all going straight to Heaven, then it’s no wonder the priests are spending hours alone in the confessionals. Sin? What’s that? We’re all forgiven anyway.

We have invested large amounts of energy attempting to make Catholics aware of the crisis in the Church. The "New Mass" was supposed to be the primary vehicle for renewal of the Catholic Faith; it has not only failed by all statistical measurements, but it clearly reinforces a defective understanding of all that is most central to Catholic belief and practice. I think we have to acknowledge, out loud, that while the Novus Ordo is (hopefully, most of the time) licit and valid, it is absolutely pathetic as "the source and summit" of Catholic life and worship.

I would half-seriously suggest that the most obvious way to distinguish "good" from "bad" bishops/priests is whether they welcome and encourage Pope Benedict's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. They get extra credit if they actually celebrate the Traditional Roman Rite! But I think traditional, orthodox Catholics need to actually say that more seriously instead of timidly! You can't renew the Church on the back of the pathetic, embarrassing, sacrilegious central act of worship that we have in the Novus Ordo. That Pope Benedict doesn't take the lead in all this is most unfortunate, but at least the Holy Spirit moved him to encourage the Church to "welcome home" the Traditional Roman Rite.

We're trying to fix and reform something that doesn't want to be fixed or reformed! Time to start learning to build an ark!

I think we need to change our strategy. Let's stop worrying about all those priests and bishops who don't want to know or respond to the Truth. Let's start to focus on those who will need to learn to build and live in “arks”! And as one priest of my acquaintance has suggested, let’s call on the good SSPX priests to “come over and help” as we try to salvage what we can of the Church in the US.

The devil hasn't destroyed the Church (he can't), but he has sure destroyed the Church in the West. As tradition-minded Catholics, we are not really part of the same Catholic Church that Cardinal Dolan is: we don't really believe the same things. It really doesn’t seem possible that Cardinal Dolan believes in Hell, as he seems unwilling to prevent dissenting “Catholic” politicians from receiving Holy Communion.  If he can seriously think that it’s something to cheer about that we have a “Catholic” like Joe Biden running for vice-president, then he’s not in the same Church we are. And what does his willingness to wear a cheese head at Mass communicate about his belief in the Real Presence? Do you think all those bishops we saw in that video contrasting the Novus Ordo with the Byzantine Rite really believe the same thing about the Mass that tradition-minded Catholics do?

We are living in Elizabethan England where the entire hierarchy has gone off the rails and we have to find little pockets of Catholicism to practice our Faith. It's just a matter of time before we – the orthodoxy, tradition-minded faithful – get excommunicated from the "establishment Church."

For more posts on this blog about the TLM and liturgical abuse, click on the tab at the top of the page.

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