Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dealing with Fear of Francis

If you find your traditionalist self a little appalled and worried about some of the things Pope Francis has said (or was reported to have said), then of course you are not alone.  I know I have had moments of trepidation and foreboding, and I must say I am sick to death of reading the re-interpretations of the media interpretations of the Pope’s words; it sounds a little too much like excuse-making and glossing-over for my taste.

That said, there is a way to put your mind and heart at ease over this current situation.

Listen to these two recent sermons from the Audio Sancto website: “Christ is the Point” and “Spiritual Contraception” (no, the second one is NOT about NFP!). I am working on a transcript of each, but that takes time; I encourage you to listen to these in the meantime!

I’ll provide a little synopsis of each; but there’s much more to be discovered when you listen to them in their entirety.

In the first sermon, the priest reminds us that there have been some pretty bad popes in the past, and some pretty egregious things have happened in the name of papal authority. What we have now pales by comparison (at least at the moment!). And the bottom line is that Christ is the point. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, and we must not let our human fears hinder our faith, regardless of what our shepherds are doing and saying.

The priest gives this analogy and explanation: Imagine you’re on a boat, and there’s a big storm. You’re holding on for dear life when you realize that the captain and crew are having a drunken brawl in the wheelhouse. What do you do? Jump overboard?! Of course not! You are safer in the ship, of course; it’s a storm, so you hang on. Well, we’re in the Catholic Church, the ark of salvation; we’re already on a ship that can’t sink, that won’t sink. Even if there are drunks in the wheelhouse, we need to keep our perspective, remain calm, and hang on.

In the second sermon, the priest reminds us that the Holy Spirit is in charge of the Church. Even if we believe that “a few puny men” have conspiratorially taken over key positions in the Church and are wreaking havoc that they have been planning for decades, we must realize that they have not done so out of their own will and strength. “Either God’s in charge of the Church, or He isn’t; it’s that simple”, says the priest. Rather, God has not only allowed the current crisis to occur, He has willed it as a chastisement and a correction for the widespread failure to uphold the teachings of the Church – amongst the laity and clergy alike. 

Quoting St. Gregory the Great, the priest says, “Divine justice provides shepherds according to the just deserts of the faithful”.  This is a scary thought; some people said during the papal conclave that we should pray that God give us what we need, not what we deserve. Well…

Go, listen to the sermons! I will do my best to put them in written form ASAP.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Altar: Do's and Don't's

Here's a re-post from a while back, as we prepare for the weird things people do to the altar during Advent, and then Christmas:

A Catholic church cannot be a church without an altar. This is where the Holy Sacrifice takes place. This is where the host is transubstantiated into the Real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as Christians, and it is at Mass where we see the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

What then should be the primary visual focal point in the sanctuary?  The altar!

Making the altar a dignified and awe-inspiring element of the sanctuary helps us to achieve a greater sense of reverence concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

How should an altar be decorated? The answer, truly, is not at all. However, an altar may and should be “vested” just as the priest is vested appropriately for Mass. A traditional way of creating a “vestment” for the altar is the antependium or frontal.

For some very good commentary, photos, and explanations, see articles at The New Liturgical Movement blog hereherehere, and here.

Here are a few photos of antependia created by a non-professional:

At Our Lady of the Valley, in La Grande, Oregon:

Too bad we can't see (and use) the old high altar
that's hidden behind the "new" altar.

At St. Anthony's in North Powder, Oregon

Now, if we could just get rid of that gauzy drape on
the crucifix (which a friend has dubbed the "cruci-diaper")

The sanctuary in this little mission church is tiny. Still, it could actually
look like a sanctuary if we could replace the dining room furniture with
something more fitting. The captain's chair just doesn't make it, let alone
the end table with the doily-like cover!

By the way, the people rejected the above antependia, saying “It’s just not us.” And here I thought it was about Him! At any rate, they decided to go back to this type of arrangement:

Below are some further examples of inappropriate "vesting" of the altar.

In the first photo, we see the altar being used primarily as a backdrop for a nice floral arrangement. Which is more important: the altar or the flowers?! This treatment puts the altar in second place. 

This was a misguided attempt to create some sort of shrine for the feast of All Souls. It looks particularly incongruous with the reredoes.

Thankfully, the pastor of the parish was also appalled, and this type of thing is not seen there any longer!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Prayers of the Old Mass

I was reading through the prayers of the extraordinary form of the Mass yesterday as I made my spiritual communion.

There’s one prayer that often makes me melt. It’s in the prayers after the consecration; in the little red Latin-English missal it’s under the heading “For Blessings”. It says:

Humbly we beseech Thee, almighty God, to command that these our offerings be carried by the hand of Thy holy Angel to Thine Altar on high, in the sight of Thy divine Majesty, so that those of us who shall receive the most sacred Body and Blood of Thy Son by partaking thereof from this Altar may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing: Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

I love thinking about the holy Angel carrying our offerings up to Heaven, right into the sight of King of the Universe. I love thinking about “every grace and heavenly blessing”, because if you really think about what that prayer if saying, the immensity of it boggles the mind!

Also from the little red book is an after-Mass prayer from St. Bonaventure. I especially like the first part:

Dearest Lord Jesus, pierce the inmost depths of my being with the sweet and wholesome pang of Thy love, with true and tranquil and most holy apostolic charity, so that from sheer melting love and desire of Thee my soul may ever faint with longing, yearning for Thee and for Thy dwelling-place, asking only to be released from the flesh and to be with Thee.

Today when I read that, I thought also about how we must always strive to keep our souls cleansed of sin by confession and penance, because if we are released from the flesh, we want to go to Heaven quickly, with a minimum amount of time in Purgatory. And thinking about that made me think about the sins I had already committed that day, and inspired me to beg forgiveness for them.

It also made me think about all of the sins I’ve committed in my life – some of them pretty egregious – and the fact that God has forgiven me for all of them, since I have freely confessed them. I do know better than to dwell on past sins, tormenting myself about them. That’s not what I’m talking about; I’m talking about remembering that God is so great and merciful that He has forgiven those sins and cleansed and purified me each time I’ve gone to confession - provided, of course, that I can move myself to contrition and perform the prescribed penance. That is really something, when you stop to consider it! How much more, then, should I forgive the little grievances I hold against others.

The prayers of the old Mass, I think, lead us into that kind of thinking and that kind of appreciation for God, which then helps us to worship Him as He deserves and demands.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pope Pius XI on Christ the King

Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King in the old calendar. Below are lessons 4, 5, and 6 from the Divine Office of Matins (from the Divinium Officium website)

From the Encylical Letters of Pope Pius XI
Litt. Encycl. Quas primas diei 11 Decembris 1925

Since this Holy Year therefore has provided more than one opportunity to enhance the glory of the kingdom of Christ, we deem it in keeping with our Apostolic office to accede to the desire of many of the Cardinals, Bishops, and faithful, made known to Us both individually and collectively, by closing this Holy Year with the insertion into the Sacred Liturgy of a special feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This matter is so dear to Our heart, Venerable Brethren, that I would wish to address to you a few words concerning it. It will be for you later to explain in a manner suited to the understanding of the faithful what We are about to say concerning the Kingship of Christ, so that the annual feast which We shall decree may be attended with much fruit and produce beneficial results in the future.  

It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of "King," because of the high degree of perfection whereby he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign "in the hearts of men," both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind. He reigns, too, in the wills of men, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors. He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his "charity which exceedeth all knowledge." And his mercy and kindness which draw all men to him, for never has it been known, nor will it ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as Jesus Christ.  

But if we ponder this matter more deeply, we cannot but see that the title and the power of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too. For it is only as man that he may be said to have received from the Father "power and glory and a kingdom," since the Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created.

...The foundation of this power and dignity of Our Lord is rightly indicated by Cyril of Alexandria. "Christ," he says, "has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature." His kingship is founded upon the ineffable hypostatic union. From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to him as man angels and men are subject, and must recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures.  

But a thought that must give us even greater joy and consolation is this that Christ is our King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for he is our Redeemer. Would that they who forget what they have cost their Savior might recall the words: "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled." We are no longer our own property, for Christ has purchased us "with a great price"; our very bodies are the "members of Christ."

… Let Us explain briefly the nature and meaning of this lordship of Christ. It consists, We need scarcely say, in a threefold power which is essential to lordship. This is sufficiently clear from the scriptural testimony already adduced concerning the universal dominion of our Redeemer, and moreover it is a dogma of faith that Jesus Christ was given to man, not only as our Redeemer, but also as a law-giver, to whom obedience is due. Not only do the gospels tell us that he made laws, but they present him to us in the act of making them. Those who keep them show their love for their Divine Master, and he promises that they shall remain in his love. He claimed judicial power as received from his Father, when the Jews accused him of breaking the Sabbath by the miraculous cure of a sick man. "For neither doth the Father judge any man; but hath given all judgment to the Son." In this power is included the right of rewarding and punishing all men living, for this right is inseparable from that of judging. Executive power, too, belongs to Christ, for all must obey his commands; none may escape them, nor the sanctions he has imposed.

This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration.

This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross. Christ as our Redeemer purchased the Church at the price of his own blood; as priest he offered himself, and continues to offer himself as a victim for our sins. Is it not evident, then, that his kingly dignity partakes in a manner of both these offices?

It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. Therefore by Our Apostolic Authority We institute the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ to be observed yearly throughout the whole world on the last Sunday of the month of October - the Sunday, that is, which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints. We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to be renewed yearly.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Forward Boldly" Radio Show: Discussion of NFP

I’ll be on the “Forward Boldly” radio program tomorrow night, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, at 10 pm ET. (7pm “my” time, here in Eastern Oregon), talking about NFP.

Here’s the blurb from the “ForwardBoldly” page:

Fr. John Fisher fills in as host for Christine Niles in this episode, in which he discusses the topic of Natural Family Planning with Dr. Jay Boyd, author of "NFP: Trojan Horse in the Catholic Bedroom?" and Christopher Gawley, author of the article "Heroic Parenthood."

What is the Church's teaching with regard to marriage and children? Do you have questions about NFP? Call the show at (646) 716-4669 with your questions, or add your voice to the chat room at the bottom of the episode page.

You can read my summary of Christopher Gawley’s article on “Heroic Parenthood” here, and the article in its entirety is here, at the Christian Order website.

Also, be sure to check out Christine’s other shows. Here’s the “Forward Boldly” blogtalk radio home page; and you can find a list of archived and up-coming interviews here. To be really “in the loop”, go to the “Forward Boldly” Face Book page, and “like” it. Christine has lots of good info to share, and she interviews many interesting and well-known people, as well as providing other programming.

By the way, among the other shows “Forward Boldly” sponsors is one called “Omnia Instaurare in Christo” (Restoring All Things in Christ), which is hosted by David Rodriguez, brother of Fr. Michael Rodriguez. David Rodriguez described the latest show:

Yesterday's evening edition of Omnia Instaurare in Christo (our internet blog talk show sponsored by Forward Boldly and the St Vincent Ferrer Foundation) was a class on why it is so important for all, priest and faithful, to worship and pray to God at Mass in the same direction, namely turning towards God (facing East). This is one of the first 'complaints' many people have about the Latin Mass and is usually phrased along the lines of "I don't like how the priest gives his back to us." Well, we should all be ready and prepared to respond to this vain objection and this class will do a great to help in this effort.

You can listen right here:

Thank You, Bishop Paprocki: Vortex

Here's a short Vortex urging us all to say "thank you!" to Bishop Paprocki for defending the sacred against the intentions of the homosexualist agenda.  Watch it, and then enter your own note of thanks at the Springfield Diocese contact site.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Mean Ol' Catholic Church and the UN

MEAN bishops. MEAN. No contraception?! MEANIES.
The Catholic Church is so stinkin’ mean! Just watch the video below to see how the Church is portrayed as anti-human rights! Those rotten Catholics have failed to ratify a whole bunch of treaties that are simply immoral. (Oops. I wasn’t supposed to point out that last fact, was I?)

This information came to my attention via an email update from  C-Fam with the subject line “Vatican Out at the UN?”. Austin Ruse, president of C-Fam, says:

That is an arresting subject line but that is precisely what radical anti-Catholic pro-aborts are trying to do as we speak.

Watch this video and come right back: CFC See Change campaign. [I’ve embedded it below.]

This nasty video is the beginning of a global campaign by "Catholics" for Choice, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood to strip the Vatican of its seat at the UN.

Why do they want the Vatican out of the UN? Because the Vatican is the number one voice for the unborn child and the natural family at the UN. Without the Vatican, it is all too possible there would be a universal right to abortion and the family would have been defined out of existence.

Sometimes the Vatican stands all alone. You ought to see those brave priests stand alone against the powers of the earth.

C-FAM was founded 16 years ago when the Papal Nuncio to the United Nations made it known there needed to be a full time office of Catholic laymen at the UN. You see, the Vatican always wants the help of pro-life groups.

A small number have answered that call and started C-FAM precisely to defend the unborn child, the family and the Church from anti-Catholic radicals that work in and through the UN.

Who am I talking about?

Catholics for Choice, formerly Catholics for a Free Choice, exists for the single purpose of undermining the teachings of the Church and to encourage the killing of unborn babies. Ditto for the Center for Reproductive Rights, a group of lawyers advancing the culture of death globally.

Mr. Ruse also notes that the fight costs money, and C-Fam is in need of funds to raise a shortfall of $100,000 by the end of the year. Donations are gratefully accepted at if you are so inclined.

The Holy See at the United Nations: Church or State? from Catholics for Choice on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bishop Paprocki Puts His Foot Down

I just saw this article posted on Catholic Vote’s Face Book page: [and see an update below]

Springfield bishop: ‘Blasphemous’ same-sex advocates wearing rainbow sashes won’t be allowed at Mass
SPRINGFIELD-The head of Springfield’s Roman Catholic diocese moved Tuesday to scuttle a silent protest by same-sex marriage advocates planned at the capital city’s largest Catholic church, calling their plans to pray the rosary for marriage equality “blasphemous.” Advocates for the Senate Bill 10 plan to attend a 5:15 p.m. Tuesday Mass at the Cathedral of

SPRINGFIELD-The head of Springfield’s Roman Catholic diocese moved Tuesday to scuttle a silent protest by same-sex marriage advocates planned at the capital city’s largest Catholic church, calling their plans to pray the rosary for marriage equality “blasphemous.”

Advocates for the Senate Bill 10 plan to attend a 5:15 p.m. Tuesday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception as part of what organizers describe as a “loud Catholic Presence for marriage equality” that will wrap up a daylong rally in support of the stalled legislation.

But Bishop Thomas Paprocki, head of the Springfield Catholic diocese, said anyone wearing rainbow sashes won’t be permitted inside the church.

“It is blasphemy to show disrespect or irreverence to God or to something holy,” Paprocki said in a statement released late Tuesday morning. “Since Jesus clearly taught that marriage as created by God is a sacred institution between a man and a woman (see Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9), praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral.

People wearing a rainbow sash or who otherwise identify themselves as affiliated with the Rainbow Sash Movement will not be admitted into the cathedral and anyone who gets up to pray for same-sex marriage in the cathedral will be asked to leave,” Paprocki said.

“Of course, our cathedral and parish churches are always open to everyone who wishes to repent their sins and ask for God’s forgiveness,” he said.

What a wonderful Shepherd! He just defended the Faith in no uncertain terms! He defended the honor of God and His Blessed Mother, and he did so in words that no one can misunderstand. 

What a charitable thing to say to those who have been deceived into thinking homosexual beahvior is anything less than a grave sin! 

May God bless and protect Bishop Paprocki!

Go here for an "on-line contact form" where you can leave a supportive message.


A follow-up article says in part:
Rick Garcia, a longtime gay activist and political director for Civil Rights Agenda, entered the church before the scheduled 5:15pm Mass without incident – but was not wearing a rainbow-colored sash, he said.

He called Paprocki’s statement blasphemous, and a stark contrast to Pope Francis’ recent comments calling for the need to make the Catholic Church a more merciful, welcoming place.

“We’re not committing blasphemy. The bishop’s committing blasphemy,” Garcia said.
Police cars were parked near the church in the hour leading up to Tuesday’s Mass, and one officer could be seen standing within the main entryway doors.

Well, we see again how the media reports of the Pope’s comments are interpreted by the homosexualists. Thank God for the clear statement of Bishop Paprocki. It appears that even the media could not distort his words in a way that would be taken to mean that homosexual behavior is anything less than disordered and morally depraved.

The Storm Clouds Are Gathering: Vortex

Yesterday’s Vortex (Oct. 21) is another call to arms for faithful Catholics.

You may notice a recurring theme, both on this blog and in the Vortex episodes: pray, fast, do penance. Learn the faith.

Nowhere is the dire state of this country in greater focus than in the advancement of the homosexualist agenda across the nation. MV notes that 43 percent of Americans currently live within a jurisdiction where “gay marriage” or “civil unions” are now legal. More and more, the right of Catholics to speak to the moral depravity of homosexual behavior is being undermined, and it seems inevitable that this will eventually be used as a means of persecution.

Wait…actually, it already is being used that way. There have been several cases in the news where business owners have been punished for not catering (literally and figuratively) to “gay marriage”.  As MV says:

The storm clouds are gathering and these forces are coalescing and since their origin is the demonic, and the object of the demonic is the destruction of the people of God – well, it doesn’t take a super intellect to see where this is going.

And he concludes this episode of the Vortex with the now-familiar exhortation:

For the strength that will be needed to withstand what is coming – faithful Catholics NOW need to start becoming even more dedicated to their faith. 

Prayer, STUDY, sacrifice.  Get to it.  The clock is running out.

When the Son of Man returns – will he find any faith on the earth?
These times are ripe for martyrs and saints.

The script:

With this past week’s ruling by the New Jersey State Supreme Court clearing the way for legalization of same-sex marriage in the Garden State, more and more is coming into focus.

That now makes 14 states and the District of Columbia that accept a romantic relationship built around sodomy as marriage.

That’s essentially a quarter of the states, BUT… when you stop to consider the populations of those states, it’s actually ONE-THIRD of the entire US now lives in a jurisdiction where men can “marry” men and women, women.

And when you throw in for good measure the other legal construct of “civil unions”, in another 5 states, the percentage swells to approaching half: 43 percent of Americans live in a legal environment where sex between two men or two women is blessed by the state and extended the same legal protections as traditional marriage, even if it isn’t called by that word marriage in every circumstance.

In practice, it IS viewed as marriage by the courts and lawmakers.

Did you catch that? Nearly half of the entire country, and this has all happened in less than ten years.

Once this becomes nationwide, which it will, it will inevitably be the case that the legal environment will then be used against faithful Catholics.

One can imagine any number of situations, oaths having to be taking, or contracts agreed to as a condition of employment for example.

Most of America’s top companies already support the gay agenda and while it isn’t an actual CONDITION of employment that each every worker support it, well, as we all know the way the world works, the unwritten code is you at least not voice any opposition.

This is already true across the board in the government.  Try voicing opposition to the gays in the military policy if you are in the military and see how long you last.

We could give millions of examples but here’s the point. The storm clouds are gathering and these forces are coalescing and since their origin is the demonic, and the object of the demonic is the destruction of the people of God – well, it doesn’t take a super intellect to see where this is going.

Little by little, faithful Catholics will be boxed into a corner and hemmed in on these moral issues and made to declare their support, explicitly or implicitly – and it’s already happening.

For the strength that will be needed to withstand what is coming – faithful Catholics NOW need to start becoming even more dedicated to their faith. 

Prayer, STUDY, sacrifice.  Get to it.  The clock is running out.

When the Son of Man returns – will he find any faith on the earth? 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Catholic Mind: Rod Pead

It seems that whenever I have to be on the road for more than an hour or so, I find myself listening to a particular CD I keep in the car. I’ve mentioned it before (here and here); it’s a talk (and also an article) by Rod Pead, editor of Christian Order magazine, delivered at a “Faith of Our Fathers” conference 13 years ago.

The last few times I’ve listened to Mr. Pead’s talk, I have been particularly struck by the segment on the “Catholic mind”. More and more I see that the Catholic mind is becoming a thing of the past. Catholics today often don’t really know how to think as Catholics because they haven’t been taught how, and they aren’t exposed to examples of Catholic thinking. Such an example can be as simple as a priest saying to his flock, “Let’s take a look at what the Church teaches” on a particular subject. But so often, we hear only the priest’s opinion, and even worse, too often that opinion might just mesh nicely with the secular, worldly opinion. We hear St. Thomas and St. Augustine dismissed as irrelevant, and in general the logical analysis inherent in truly Catholic thinking is not taught or encouraged these days.
Here’s what Rod Pead has to say on the subject. And if what he said thirteen years ago was true then, it is, sadly, even more true today. (All emphases are mine.)

Well, I'm telling you, if we adopt this attitude; if we opt for life in this Establishment Catholic comfort zone of perennial appeasement and Quietism; if we are more interested in retaining an air of respectability than in confronting, strongly and bluntly, this mysterious darkening of episcopal hearts and minds for fear of being called 'extremists' and 'zealots' and 'fanatics'; if we continue living this liberal illusion that we can act justly without risking our good name, our tranquil life, our well-being - then we might as well stand around fretting like Peter and wait for the cock to crow!

I’m afraid that those of us who are willing to say “the emperor has no clothes” will be castigated as much or more so today than we would have been in the year 2000. Just recently, when I tried to make a case for Church teaching on a particular topic, I was accused by someone as being “one of those people who are more concerned about doctrine than the love and mercy of God”. Unfortunately, comments by Pope Francis have been taken to mean that standing up for the truth is not a good thing.

Mr. Pead goes on:

But our woes are not all down to the Establishment Pollyanna's. We are all soaked in human respect; full to the brim with false charity. I guess affluence and Catholic faith have never been good bedfellows: food on the table and a warm bed at night does little to encourage the vigorous prayer life required to sustain the truly Catholic mind we need in order to act justly. How else are we to explain the lack of passion and sense of urgency before the disaster we face. It is true that while at the moment we find we can't live with the bishops, we know, too, that by God's design we can't live without them, and that there is only so much we can do. But have we done even that much? Have we prayed and fasted and done penance and really begged God on our knees to convert the hearts and minds of the bishops? Have we consistently pleaded with Him to take the hirelings who will not respond to His grace to their early reward, and send us real Catholic Shepherds in their stead?

The persistent widow
We each need to ask ourselves these questions, because it is hard to believe that God would not have sent Britain at least some orthodox episcopal relief if He had been badgered sufficiently - Christ Himself told us, in the parable of the unjust judge, that we should pray continually and never be discouraged [Lk 18 1:8]. Just as the unjust judge was worn down by the persistent visits of the widow seeking redress against someone who wronged her, Our Lord told the people: "will not God give redress to his elect, when they are crying out to him, day and night? Will he not be impatient with their wrongs? I tell you, he will give them redress with all speed." And then Christ immediately adds, underlining the point I made earlier, "But ah, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith left on earth?" And so I repeat, and I repeat it more for my own benefit than anyone else's: are we really praying for the conversion of the hirelings or their replacement by strong, solicitous, Catholic Shepherds - as if we believe? Given Christ's promise, I can't imagine that enough of us are.

And because our prayers are not what they should be our thoughts are not what they should be. Only by continual prayer can we put a spiritual disposition on everything that we do and thus keep the Commandments and live peacefully and unperturbed, come what may, in God's presence, in union with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, leaving all and suffering all according to His providence, including the agonies of our present crisis.

[As a quick aside…hasn’t Rod Pead just described a “personal relationship with Jesus”?!?]

This is all about retaining that increasingly rare commodity in the neo-pagan West: a Catholic mind, encompassing a truly Catholic view of life. A view once summarised as that "which sets all earthly values within the context of the eternal, the view which relates all human problems - social, political and cultural - to the doctrinal foundations of the Catholic Faith, the view which sees all things here below in terms of God's supremacy and earth's transitoriness, in terms of Heaven and Hell."

Ah yes. That “doctrine” thing again. Doctrine is at the foundation of the Church. If we do not know it, believe it, and live it, how can we be Catholic? How can we bring the light of the Church – the light of Christ – to the darkened world around us? How can we have a “personal relationship” with Jesus outside those doctrinal foundations of the Church?

Rod Pead:

It is because our thoughts are not ordered in this Catholic way that we do not hate the insidious Modernist heresy as we should; as the polluting of God's truth, which is the worst of all impurities. "Where there is no hatred for heresy," said a famous convert, "there is no holiness." And without holiness, truth rapidly becomes a dead letter and any prospect of unity dies with it.

On the other hand, one who possesses a truly Catholic mind is alarmed by heresy! He sees that souls are being lost now! And this sense of urgency alerts him, intuitively, to the deeper implication of Cardinal Manning's contention that "all conflict is theological". He sees, in other words, that everything, every debate on whatever issue returns to Catholic moral and doctrinal realities and, therefore, that a healthy, unified Catholic Church precedes and gives rise to a healthy, unified and coherent State.

Again: doctrine is important! It is essential! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

And he sees all about him the catastrophic consequences for society of the Modernist heresy destroying the Western Church. Thus, he doesn't put the cart before the horse; he doesn't fool himself into accepting that a sick Church can heal a sick world; he knows that we have to heal the Church and unite ourselves - Catholics of the Latin Rite - before trying to heal the world and unite divided Christianity. And so with that broad appreciation of the importance of a healthy Church - a Church untainted by the stench of heterodoxy and heresy - the Catholic thinker is not as easily pleased as the average orthodox layman whose standards, after years of struggle, have plummeted to desperate levels. A prelate stands up to condemn sodomy or abortion - the minimum one might expect of a Catholic bishop - and we go weak at the knees and lose all sense of proportion in our rush to congratulate him. In our desperation for something - for someone - to hold on to, we blithely ignore the standards set by St Paul, who wrote to Titus that "a bishop must be beyond reproach, since he is the steward of God's house…", and that the bishop is duty bound to "rebuke sharply" the "many disobedient, vain talkers and seducers" who "bring ruin on entire households by false teaching"; false teachers who, St. Paul concludes: "must be silenced." [Titus 1:7-13].

Learn your faith. If you’ve been studying the current Catechism, or reading only Vatican II and post-Vatican II documents, expand your horizons to consider traditional Church teaching. Look at papal encyclicals that don’t mince words, that exhibit the Catholic mind Rod Pead is talking about.

Fast and pray. Do penance.

And do it more.

Sack cloth and ashes, anyone?!