Thursday, July 23, 2020

No Reason to Crawl

There is hope yet for the city of Boise.  Even in this blue dot in the midst of a red state, the revolutionaries are not welcome, at least by the (well-armed) rank-and-file citizenry (as distinguished from Boise's new socialist mayor and some other city government luminaries).  The Black Lives Matter people, who undermine black lives by making war on the nuclear family and the Catholic Church, have failed again to establish a reign of chaos in Boise.  In response to their scheduled "Defund the Police" "protest” at City Hall on the 21st, several hundred of the above-mentioned well-armed rank-and-file citizenry organized a march to City Hall from one of the local parks.  BLM decided to move their operation to the local university campus, although a few of them trickled back to City Hall.  Events carried on largely without incident, barring a few arrests.  In fact, the liberal local news media's conspicuous failure to trumpet the BLM "protest," plus the dearth of pictures of the BLM people in action, seems to suggest that the BLM event must have been pathetic and embarrassing.

Thus fizzled BLM's third attempt on Boise since the death of George Floyd.  After weeks of watching vandals attack monuments and Catholic churches all over the country, and after all the local media buildup of the upcoming BLM agitation, a few local Catholics, organizing under the banner of "Catholic Defense Idaho," decided to gather in front of St. John's Cathedral to pray the Rosary.  The purpose was to defend the Cathedral with prayer in this spiritual war against the Church, and to be visible and take up the public space that too many of our public officials are ceding to the enemies of peace and right order.  We also hoped our presence there would deter anyone who might want to attack the cathedral.  

There appears to be hope yet, as I say, for the blue city of Boise.  But what about the Church in Boise?  A response to our itty-bitty prayer rally for the defense of the Cathedral appeared on the Cathedral's Facebook page (emphases in original):

Dear Parishioners,

We are well aware that there are protests planned for this evening in Downtown Boise.  We are taking the necessary precautions to protect the Cathedral.  WE WILL HAVE PROFESSIONAL SECURITY ON SITE.  We are discouraging anyone from coming to the Cathedral as the safety of our parishioners is paramount.  We also have no connection to "Catholic Defense Idaho."  Please know that all official communication will come from here and no other sites or emails.  Please STAY HOME and PRAY for our Church and city.

Please contact the office with any questions.

Since secular laymen don't need anyone's permission to pray on a public sidewalk, and since there was no evidence that the professional security were going to be using the Rosary as one of their weapons, 15 of us showed up anyway.  There were a couple of guys in T-shirts behind the chain-link fences that had been placed around the front entrance to the Cathedral.    About the time the protests were starting in another part of downtown, we gathered on the sidewalk, sprinkled exorcised salt in front of the cathedral and around our group, and prayed the Rosary and Litany of the Saints.  While we prayed, one lone passer-by shouted an F-bomb at us, then beat a hasty retreat.  Other than that, nothing happened.

Why is all this such a big deal?  Ever since she emerged from the Catacombs, the Catholic Church has had a very long tradition of making her presence known and felt in public spaces.  She does this by means of prominent churches with tall steeples and towers (at one time, the tallest buildings in any town); statues and monuments; icons; bells; the distinctive dress of her clergy and religious.  In times of both celebration and crisis, she holds processions and public gatherings of prayer.  What is the point of keeping a high profile?  Obviously, it is to comfort her children and men of good will, and also to strike fear in the hearts of her enemies.  There can be no doubt that the overt, visible presence of the Church in the public square is a deterrent to her enemies, and thus her first line of defense.  This is why it is a primary tactic of her enemies to destroy her monuments, efface her symbols and try to make her withdraw and disappear from public life.  What makes this current time so depressing is the capitulation of so many men in the Church to this offensive, when they should be leading the troops against it.

There is no excuse for this capitulation.  Why have BLM's efforts in Boise bombed?  I submit the reason is twofold.  One, these agitators are basically cowards.  Two, and more importantly, BLM has failed here because ordinary citizens who oppose revolution are nipping it in the bud by taking up public space, making themselves (and their firearms) visible, and telling the agitators to their face that their revolution will not be tolerated here.  I would also like to think that public prayer for their defeat had its effect, not due to the merits of those praying but because God is faithful to His promises.  On the other hand, it appears the revolutionaries generally have their greatest successes in places where they are allowed free reign without any pushback.  This should tell us that, if we are unwilling to use a little effort at the outset to deal with these problems, we will end up being compelled to use a much greater effort to dislodge them later, and the odds of violence skyrocket.

There is no doubt we are living in a time when the enemies of God and His Church are running amok and having an influence out of all proportion to their numbers.  I feel the fear just as keenly as anyone else.  But there are two things we Catholics need to remember.  Firstly, these poor people who have arrayed themselves against God and against His Church are the slaves of satan.  What they are doing objectively constitutes mortal sin, and so, besides being on the losing side, they are most likely bereft of sanctifying grace and are thus gravely weakened spiritually and intellectually.  As soon as satan can get no more use out of them, he will discard them.

The second thing we have to remember is that God has already won the war.  He also infused us with faith, hope and charity at Baptism, and at Confirmation with the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord and fortitude.  We also have the Rosary, with all of God's promises through our Lady that come with it, and the intercession of all the angels and the saints.  Above all, we have the August Sacrifice of the Mass and the forgiveness of our sins in the Sacrament of Penance. For churchmen to surrender to a bunch of basement-dwelling, protein-deficient, vice-ensnared Marxist agitators is on the order of a tank commander surrendering to a guy with a bow and arrow.  There is absolutely no reason for Catholics in the state of grace and fortified by the Sacraments to crawl before the devil's slaves.

Not everybody is meant to go out and personally participate in the high-profile task of taking back our public spaces.  Some people are meant to labor for peace in secret.  But not everybody.  Making the Church's presence known and felt in public is an essential part of pushing back against the diabolical disorientation that swirls around us.  (The men, by the way, should lead this effort and not leave it all up to the women; and the women should let the men lead.)  Our failure to do this gives hope to our enemies and discourages our friends.  We are not meant to prize our hides more than our souls, or to value safety above all else.  If we get used to telling ourselves that now is not the time to fight, it will become such a habit that there will never come a time to fight.  Then, one day, we will wonder how everything we hold dear has been destroyed.  We will never win souls for Christ -- or even save our own -- by playing it safe all the time.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Dear Bishop Barron

Your Excellency:

This is in response to your Word on Fire piece on the 24th inst. entitled, Why 'What Are the Bishops Doing About It?' Is the Wrong Question.  In this piece, you address those who criticize you for not taking concrete action in response to the violent attacks on Catholic monuments.  I beg you would allow me to speak plainly to you concerning your remarks.

In this article, you state:
Over and again, perhaps a hundred times, commentators said some version of this: “Well, bishop, making a statement is all fine and good, but what are you and the other bishops going to do about it?” Now almost none of these questioners made a concrete suggestion as to what precisely they had in mind, but I will gladly admit that there are certain practical steps that bishops can and should take in regard to such a situation. We can indeed lobby politicians, encourage legislative changes, and call community leaders together, all of which bishops have been doing. But what struck me again and again as I read these rather taunting remarks is that these folks, primarily lay men and women, are putting way too much onus on the clergy and not nearly enough on themselves.

You then go on to cite to the documents of Vatican II, particularly Lumen Gentium, to argue that the secular arena is primarily the province of the laity, whose business it is to bring to the world the teaching, direction and sanctification they have received from their pastors and bishops.

Let me tell you, Excellency, how this situation looks to us in the pews.  One problem with the foregoing -- and it pains me to have to say this -- is that, for the past half-century, we have not been getting solid Catholic teaching, direction and sanctification from many of our shepherds.  The Pew survey that came out last August, showing that a majority of Catholics disbelieve in the Real Presence, proves this.  You yourself characterized this as "a massive failure of the [C]hurch] in carrying out its own tradition."  I submit to you that this massive failure has culminated, not only in the existence of the present crisis, but also, during the course of it, in the conspicuous absence of most of our bishops.  Most of you rushed to cancel public worship before the secular authorities did, without apparently seeking the least restrictive alternatives to deal with the coronavirus, and this during the holiest season of the year!  Most of you went to ground, surfacing only long enough to lock us out of our churches, and anticipate the resumption of public Masses by prohibiting the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue.  Some of you -- God help you -- ordered your priests to deprive us not only of Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Penance, but also Extreme Unction.  Very few of you have raised a voice against discriminatory crackdowns on public worship by local authorities.  All this is, quite simply, a scandal.  We in the pews can exercise our civil remedies to protest the violation of our constitutionally guaranteed rights; but why should public officials take any notice of us when, by your silence, you, our shepherds, give the impression of being totally fine with it?  

The other difficulty with your comments quoted above is that your puzzlement about what we want you to do in this crisis seems to be rooted in a purely worldly view of what bishops are for.  It is true that we do need you to use the greater visibility that you have as heads of your local churches and to preach, denounce attacks and even get on the phone to the governor.  We assume, in fact, that you have enough prestige with the secular authorities to have a better shot at getting direct access to the governor than any of us would, and we would like you to use that prestige.  Most of us do not have the bully pulpit, or the moral authority that you have as successors of the Apostles, to admonish public officials who fail to work for the common good.

But it is not primarily in engaging the secular world that we most need you to be active.  You well know, as St. Paul tells us in Chapter 6, verse 12 of his Letter to the Ephesians, that "our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places."  It is blindingly obvious that preternatural forces are currently running riot throughout the world.  The frenzied attacks we are now seeing on peace and good order, on all sorts of civil monuments, on Catholic monuments, and on flesh-and-blood human beings, are clearly demonically driven.  It is plain that the battle is not merely in the secular realm that is the province of the laity, and that the attacks on churches and statues of saints are really attacks on the Catholic Church for which they stand.  Who ought to have something to say and to do about such things more than the bishops?  More than anything else, we need you to take the fight to the real instigator of all this chaos: satan, the prince of this world.  This, surely, is why you chose to receive Holy Orders in the first place!

In your piece, you state that nobody has given you any concrete suggestions as to what bishops ought to do in the present crisis.  I don't think that you, who studied for many years for the priesthood, and who have been ordained for nearly a quarter of a century, really need my suggestions; but since you ask, I will tell you what I would like you and all bishops to be doing right now:

- Make yourself personally visible with public exhortations to the faithful, for the comfort and encouragement of your flocks.  Put in appearances at your parishes.  Right now, a lot of us are not even sure if our bishops, who are supposed to be our spiritual fathers, are alive or dead.  We feel alone and fatherless.

- Break out your Rituale Romanum and pronounce blessings and prayers of exorcism over your dioceses, and select priests to join you in these efforts.  Do this publicly, so that we can see you doing it and take heart.

- Go out to all your parishes, and every other important and prominent place in your dioceses, and clean house with holy water and exorcised salt.  See that as many of the faithful as possible are equipped with these and other sacramentals.

- Organize and personally lead Eucharistic processions, especially to bad neighborhoods and places that have particularly suffered from rioting.

- Order regular 40 Hours in all your parishes and, where possible, encourage parishes to institute perpetual adoration.  In fact, see that perpetual adoration is instituted in parishes in such a way that everyone in the diocese is within reasonable traveling distance of an adoration chapel.

- Proclaim days of fast and abstinence.

- Proclaim prayer campaigns, particularly of the daily Rosary.  With all due respect, to say that we ought to be doing that on our own anyway is a cop-out.  The idea is to get people to do it who aren't doing it now.  This is what fathers are supposed to do!

Notice that these are all things that we in the pews cannot do.  Only bishops, and their delegates among priests, can do them.  If bishops and priests fail to do what they were ordained to do, and what only they can do, how will they explain this to God when the time comes for them to stand before Him in judgment?

Excellency, yours is an awesome and fearful responsibility, and I thank God for having made me a woman and thus given me the absolute certainty that such responsibility will never be thrust upon me.  But I am floored by your weak response to those who are calling upon you to exercise the power and authority that is specially yours as a successor of the Apostles.  This is not just a secular fight, purely within the lay domain.  This is the gates of hell trying to prevail against the Church, and trying to do it right now.  It is not merely a negative trend, but a deadly, dire emergency.  We need you to do something about it.  The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

Be assured of my daily prayers for all priests and bishops.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Why the Bishops Are Letting the Mobs Destroy Statues

In his latest video, about the destruction of statues of Bl. Junipero Serra in California at the hands of howling mobs of satanic tools, Taylor Marshall asks a good question: where are the bishops while all this is going on? Why aren’t they out there denouncing this destruction?  Why don’t they do something substantive about it?

What we are seeing now is the chickens of aggiornamento coming home to roost.  The point of aggiornamento was never to open the modern world up to the influence of the Church, but to open the Church up to the influence of the modern world.  And the defining characteristic of modernity is the rejection of God, and therefore the rejection also of man as a creature made in His image and likeness, possessing a high dignity that is worthy of respect.  What could possibly go wrong?

The modernist experiment has created churchmen who are not champions of Jesus Christ and His Church, but little men who occupy themselves with vain and worldly pursuits like global warming, women’s ordination and the accumulation of vast wealth, and leave the flocks to be picked over by the wolves.  Since modernism teaches us to place the city of man ahead of the City of God, it has left us, not only with men who have made themselves irrelevant, but also with men who are entirely in the tank for the Church’s secularist persecutors.  

When the Church is full of enemies and weaklings from within, she is defenseless against attacks from without.  We saw this graphically illustrated during the coronapanic, when Catholics all over the world were deprived of Mass and the Sacraments during the holiest time of the year, while secular pursuits were allowed to continue.  We are seeing it graphically illustrated now, when the enemies of Christian civilization are trying to overthrow governments here and abroad by force of violence.  We are seeing that the iconoclasm aimed at monuments to civic figures was never going to stop there, but ultimately has as its goal the destruction of the Catholic Church.  And we are seeing that decades of modernism within the Church has left the gates of the sheepfold wide open to the wolves.  

Of course we have bishops doing nothing about the wanton, demonically-driven destruction of monuments to saints!  Why should this come as a surprise, when, for decades, bishops have themselves been in the forefront of destruction of the Church and her treasures?  Who is it that has been bulldozing altars, tearing down statues and Communion rails, whitewashing frescoes and filling dumpsters with beautiful vestments and vessels and altar missals?  Who is it that has been building churches that look like warehouses and factories, instead of monuments to the supernatural?  Who is it that has supervised the wrecking of the liturgy, replacing Latin with street vernacular and chant with campfire ditties and Broadway show tunes, and turning the priest around to face the people as if he is doing a nightclub act?  Who is it that has failed to safeguard the flocks against bad teaching, until substantial numbers of Catholics contracept, divorce and remarry, shack up, accept same-sex “marriage” and disbelieve in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?  Who is it that has been trying to filter traditional Catholic men out of seminaries?  None of this has been the work of Antifa or Black Lives Matter.  This has been the work of men within the Church.

After all this, should we really wonder why, when hordes of hooting barbarians pull down statues of one of the founding fathers of Catholicism in the United States, the local bishops are taking no action?  Why would they take action?

In modernism, we thought we were getting this shiny new ideology that would allow us to make our peace with the world and yet remain Catholic.  We thought that we were all grown up now and mature enough to have things our own way, and that having our own way was the path to true happiness.  We thought we could make our enemies love us by divesting ourselves of our spiritual weaponry and disregarding the “outdated” warnings of our forebears and presenting ourselves unarmed and vulnerable.  Now we are being allowed to learn, in the school of hard knocks, that “updating” the Church really only means making it easier and more convenient for our enemies to take us out.  We are having to learn from experience that the prince of this world is still a liar, and that his minions that hated the Founder of our Faith before us, still hate Him, and us.  We are having to learn that it is not the Church that needs to fall into line with the world, but the world that needs to fall in line with the Church.  And we are having to learn that the modernist ideology has neither help nor consolation to give us in times of crisis.

That, I humbly submit, is the answer to Taylor Marshall’s question.  And I humbly submit also that we need to begin to deserve to have God send us true shepherds.  Step one is to do as our Lady asked at Fatima over a hundred years ago, and start praying the Rosary every single day.  As Taylor Marshall is fond of saying, and he’s absolutely right: if you’re not praying the Rosary every day, you’re not on the team.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Thoughts on the SSPX

The subject of the priestly Society of St. Pius X has been coming up a lot lately in Catholic circles, possibly because of (a) the role they have played during the present crisis, and (b) the distress that many Catholics feel over the closures of churches, and over bishops using the coronapanic as the occasion to try to quash traditional practices like Communion on the tongue.  The SSPX has some very vociferous critics, particularly among some professional Catholic internet wonks.  I myself have been very critical of the Society in the past, and in this space, because their dealings with Rome seemed to me fraught with arrogance, and because I felt that, by retreating to their mountain fastnesses outside the regular structure of the Church, they were leaving me and others like me by ourselves, to foot it as best we can in a modernist environment.  I also avoided their chapels for years and years, despite my great desire for the traditional Mass, because of their irregular situation.  But now, amid the crises of our times, I have revisited my opinions about the SSPX.  Herewith my thoughts on the Society of St. Pius X, for what they are worth, and in which there is probably something to displease people from every point on the Catholic continuum, from CINOs to ueber-traditionalists.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit to my own motives in this area.  I have come to love the traditional Mass, and have long wished to attend it exclusively, though I live in a diocese where, until a year ago, there was no parish within 300 miles that had the traditional Mass at all.  There is still no local parish that has it every Sunday.  Yet ever since I discovered the traditional Mass, the Novus Ordo has become increasingly painful to attend.  Modernism is in the ascendancy, and traditional-minded priests are marginalized and have little influence.  The situation has only gotten worse with the coronapanic, in which the opportunity has been taken to try to purge the Novus Ordo Mass of traditional practices such as Communion on the tongue and Communion on one’s knees.  Mother Angelica aptly described this state of affairs as “electric church”: every time you go, you get a shock.  I have had enough of the shocks.  There is an SSPX chapel less than an hour’s drive from home, and I could no longer come up with any good reasons not to go there when there is no traditional Mass at a regular parish.

I am not a canon lawyer, and so I do not pretend completely to understand the SSPX’s very messy and very complicated canonical status, which they admit is complicated and irregular.  But I think I understand enough about them now for my own purposes.  Although ‘90s talking points persist, and people constantly cite to them without taking into account later events, the evidence seems to weigh against the Society’s being schismatic.  Since 1988, the hierarchy, and particularly the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei (whose functions have now been transferred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), has softened its position on the SSPX.  Catholics are allowed to fulfill their Sunday obligations at SSPX Masses, make contributions to the SSPX, and have their marriages witnessed and their sins forgiven by SSPX priests.  In fact, it must be the case that we can fulfill our Sunday obligation at the SSPX chapels even if we have other options: if there were really no other options, and the SSPX were really in schism, then the Sunday obligation would be impossible to fulfill and therefore non-existent.  SSPX priests work with diocesan bishops and have dealings with diocesan tribunals.  Pope Francis, of all people, has broadened their faculties, or at least removed doubts about the existence or validity of their faculties.  That SSPX priests may receive faculties would seem to indicate that they are not suspended.  The SSPX priests have always prayed for the current Holy Father, including Pope Francis, by name, in their Masses, showing that they recognize the Pope’s authority.  The Society has received and cooperated with visitations from Rome.  This is all evidence that the Society is not a schismatic sect.

Secondly, I believe that Archbishop Lefebvre was not a lunatic, or a megalomaniac, but was in fact a very holy man, one of the great missionaries of the 20th century, who was not out to set up a new Church with himself or any successor of his as its head (as even traditionalists feared in 1988), but who tried to do the best he could in an agonizingly difficult situation.  He came from a family of devout Catholics: in particular, his mother was such a holy woman that, after her death, her pastor wrote a book about her.  It is possible for a holy man to fall, or for an evil man, like Maciel of the Legionaries of Christ, to masquerade as a holy man, pulling the wool even over the eyes of the reigning Pontiff.  Yet, when Archbishop Lefebvre rejected what passed for “reform” in the wake of Vatican II, and tried to cling to the traditions in which he had been brought up, a long and fruitful ministry should surely have earned him enough creds at least to be taken seriously and not dismissed out of hand as a schismatic.  Plus, events since 1988 would seem to support his position.  For one thing, we have the bad fruits that have abounded in the Church since the forced changes to the liturgy, to include a substantial percentage of Catholics disbelieving in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and a substantial number of bishops cooperating in the attempted suppression of the Catholic Church amid the global coronapanic.  For another, in his motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI declared that the traditional Mass was never abrogated, and thus vindicated Archbishop Lefebvre’s belief that in adhering to the traditional Mass, he was acting within his rights.  That Archbishop Lefebvre and the other bishops whom he consecrated in 1988 were not validly excommunicated, as the Society maintains, is a position that deserves serious consideration and not an out-of-hand dismissal as a lunatic delusion.  Also, authorities that I trust, including but not limited to Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Father John Zuhlsdorf (see here, here and here) think well of the priests of the SSPX and say that we may attend their chapels with a clear conscience.  These men have had a lot more time than I have to become knowledgeable about the SSPX and its issues, and, as they have yet to steer me wrong, I am content to lean on their judgment on this subject.

Many objections to the SSPX center on their lay followers, and are based on the strange beliefs that some of them hold.  It is falsely assumed that all of them hold strange beliefs.  First of all, the lay people who attend SSPX Masses are not themselves members of the SSPX, so that, even if they hold strange beliefs, they do not speak for the Society, and it should not be presumed that these beliefs were taught to them by the Society.  Secondly, it must be remembered that no sector of the Church in our time is free from erroneous thinking, and that this can be found even in enclaves of traditionalism like SSPX chapels.  After all, the men who came up with the modernist heresy in the first place lived out their lives in a time when there was no Novus Ordo, and the only form of the Roman Rite was the one we now call the Extraordinary Form.  Will you find that some people in the pews at the SSPX chapels believe the Novus Ordo is per se invalid?  Yes.  Will you find sedevacantists?  Yes.  Will you find that some think those who attend the “Novus Ordo Church” are not real Catholics?  Yes.  These lay folks are wrong, and, by the way, also opposed to what the SSPX holds on each of these points.  But if you worry about associating with people who hold errors, consider that the average regular parish is by no means an error-free zone.  If you go to the average regular parish, will you find people who believe the traditional Mass is an evil that needs to be eradicated?  Yes.  Will you find people who think the Eucharist is only a symbol?  Yes.  Will you find people who think contraception is virtuous?  Yes.  You will also find people who scorn traditional devotions, support pro-abortion politicians, think it is wrong to deny Communion to public sinners, think women should be priests, and believe it is un-Christian not to allow persons of the same sex to attempt marriage with each other.  You will not only find people in the pews who believe these things, you will find priests and bishops who believe them, and who think they are the True Catholics, and that anyone who disagrees with them is a reprobate.

Finally, it is worth taking note of the Society’s performance during the coronapanic, which has done so much to expose everyone’s true priorities, clergy and laity alike.  While millions of Catholics have been locked out of their churches, and denied the Sacraments, the SSPX has doubled and trebled down on providing the Mass and the Sacraments to as many people as possible.  Most SSPX chapels are served by single priests who do not live local and have to travel long distances every week, yet they have increased the number of Masses they offer.  The SSPX chapel near me has gone from offering one Mass on Sundays to three.  It is even offering Saturday Mass in the evening, even though the traditional form of the Roman Rite admits of no Sunday Mass on Saturday, and uses the propers for Sunday only on Sunday.  (This, by the way, is an example of the SSPX following the universal legislation of the Church, even though it deplores the Saturday vigil Mass practice.)  The chapel shut down public Mass when the civil authorities initiated lockdown, but re-established it at the earliest possible opportunity.  Other SSPX chapels elsewhere continued to offer public Masses even after local bishops shut it down, where not prevented by the civil authorities.  This demonstration of the Society’s priorities during the current crisis deserves serious consideration.

I hope that one day, the Society’s canonical status will be straightened out.  That it is canonically irregular is not a plus.  Yet it may be providential at this moment, when so many bishops have proven untrustworthy and willing to exercise raw power beyond their authority, that the Society priests are, by reason of their status, beyond the reach of those bishops.  It also seems providential that there is within the Church a society of priests that is uncompromising in its refusal to offer the Novus Ordo, which they hold to be deeply flawed and a danger to the faith (though not invalid).  The SSPX, being made up of men who are sinners, is not perfect, but it is among those groups of traditionalist priests who provide an oasis here and there in the howling desert of modernism that is our world.

St. Pius X, pray for us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Re-Post: The Church of Nice

This post originally went up March 21, 2013.  As we see how the Church is currently dealing with a worldwide crisis, my thoughts below seem to have been vindicated.

The other night, I sat down and watched The Robe all the way through for the first time in my adult life. The product of a now-long-gone era when Hollywood respected the sensibilities of its audiences, The Robe has some fairly compelling scenes, and some pretty good features.  Richard Burton made a good swashbuckling Christian; Jean Simmons was demure and virtuous, yet noble and steely; Jay Robinson made an especially diabolical Caligula.  His oak-leaf chaplet was even arranged to make him look like he had horns.  

On the other hand, the story is clearly told from a non-Catholic point of view.  There are some things one would not expect to find in a story about the earliest Christians, and other things one would expect to find but does not.  For example:

-- Judas Iscariot delivers an inspirational message before going out to hang himself. 

-- Peter hides the fact that he denied Jesus, and allows everyone to think that he stuck with Jesus right to the end. 

-- Jesus is held to be present only in His Word and not in the Real Presence of the Eucharist.  In fact, it is not clear that Jesus is present among the early Christians at all, except as a memory.

-- There are no priests.

-- Nobody gets baptized or receives any Sacraments.

-- The Blessed Virgin Mary is virtually absent, and plays no role even at the foot of the Cross, where Scripture plainly places her.

-- And an item that I felt especially sensitive to because it was during the interregnum: the early Christians depicted in this movie do not respect the primacy of Peter. 

Without the Sacraments, and the Mother of God, and the Holy Father, the Church is a cold, sterile, one-dimensional thing.  It is just a collection of people being nice to each other for no apparent reason.  What we see in The Robe is the beginning, not of the Universal Church, but the church of nice.  There is no roaring furnace of charity at the heart of mere niceness: nothing to inspire missionaries, or artists, or musicians, or poets, or martyrs.  There are no miracles in the church of nice, and no great saints.  The church of nice, having no priests, offers no sacrifices, not even the Sacrifice of Calvary.   In the church of nice, Peter has no real authority, nor any integrity, since it is permissible for him to allow the propagation of a falsehood about himself for the good of the church.  The members of the church of nice will not worship Caesar as a god; but since Peter has no real authority, and the Mother of God does not illuminate the truth about her Divine Son, and there are no Sacraments to stoke the fires of sanctifying grace, there is nothing to prevent the worship of Caesar in the fullness of time, once it is judged expedient.  The two main characters of The Robedo end up as martyrs; but if one's knowledge of Christianity came solely and entirely from the information conveyed in the film, one would be hard pressed to understand why they should have given up their lives for it.

The Robe is far superior to the standard run of Hollywood fare today, 99.99% of which is just pure trash.  But it shows the Christian faith through a lens, darkly and incompletely, and therefore inaccurately.  The Pope, the Sacraments (and therefore the priesthood) and the Holy Mother of God are precisely the things the world has against the Catholic Church; but her Founder made them necessary elements of the Christian faith, without which it has neither depth nor breadth nor height.  It is necessary to bring a lot to the film in order to fill in the gaps, and not accept the errors.  One more reason why Catholics need to know their faith.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Random Observations

- Seems like only yesterday our Elders and Betters were telling us we can’t let terrorists randomly attacking crowds on the streets dictate how we live our lives.  Some of our Elders and Betters, like say the Mayor of London, even told us terrorist attacks were the New Normal and we needed to get used to them and reconcile ourselves to them.  Now our Elders and Betters are telling us we need to completely cancel our lives, shun all social contact, even among family members, and shut down our economy, because of a virus that has had a very low fatality rate.  Ever stopped to wonder why the change of tune?

- The same people who are listening to a computer geek to find out how to deal with a disease are telling the rest of us that because we are not experts in diseases, we are too ignorant to decide when it’s best for us to start going about our daily business again.

- Ever notice that villains in literature are often physically ugly or disfigured, as an outward expression of their inward evilness? Ever notice the physical ugliness of real-life characters like George Soros?  Harvey Weinstein?  Hillary Clinton?  Bill and Melinda Gates?  Theodore McCarrick?  By any chance, is there a message in this?

- This massive quarantine, which still continues in some states and which in some places imposes restrictions that only apply to religious observance, is clearly shaping up to be an attack on religion, and especially on the Catholic Church.  Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that so many of our bishops have abandoned us to tyrannical mayors and governors, whom they seem overly anxious to please.  Except for St. John, the entire college of bishops, hand-picked by Jesus Christ Himself, deserted Him during His Passion.  One handed Him over to His enemies.  His chosen Vicar on Earth denied Him three times.  The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ, and what happened to the Head is going to happen to the Body.

- The whole concept of governments deciding which businesses and services are “essential” and which are “non-essential” is positively Orwellian.  All legitimate enterprises are essential, especially to the people who depend on them for their livelihood.

- Do our Elders and Betters who are urging us to keep our nasty, filthy, contagious selves locked away at home for the benefit of the vulnerable really care about the vulnerable?  Are these not the same people who favor the extermination of the most vulnerable among us, namely, the elderly and the unborn?  One suspects that, by “the vulnerable,” they really mean themselves, but are unwilling to admit it.  This is understandable, since persons who are atheists and aggressive secularists, and are unwilling to repent, certainly have very good reason to dread death.

- When Catholics all over the world are deprived of the Sacraments — and this at Easter, the holiest time on the liturgical calendar — this qualifies as a sign, and apocalyptic.  When we respond by doubling down on irreverent practices with the Eucharist, that shows we are not paying attention, and we are asking for even worse things to follow.

- Why are we being asked to adopt this obsessive-compulsive, Howard-Hughes-like, effeminate phobia of microbes?  Is there the slightest possibility that the purpose of this drive to make us shun our fellow man as a source of contagion is to purge charity from the face of the earth and leave us with nothing to mediate between us and power?  And why are so many people, including members of the Catholic hierarchy, on board with this agenda?  Answer: because without the Catholic faith, which gives us eyes to see the world in the light of the supernatural, we are sitting ducks.  Without a supernatural view, we are, to say the least, missing an entire data set that is relevant to deciding how to proceed.  Judging by their actions, we have a lot of Catholics, including priests and bishops, who lack supernatural faith.  And sorry, but this also goes for non-Catholics who call themselves Christians.  If you are Orthodox, you suffer the disabilities that go with not being in union with Christ’s Vicar on Earth.  If your religion derives from the Reformation, you also suffer those disabilities, plus you don’t have the Sacraments and you believe that you can dictate the terms upon which you will accept God’s mercy.  And you are all the more vulnerable for thinking you’re not vulnerable.

- Two literary references spring to mind when I contemplate this “pandemic.”  One is the Solarians in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.  The Solarians were human colonists on another planet who so dreaded social contact that they filled their world with robots to serve their needs, and refused to interact with each other except by television.  Eventually, in their radical narcissism and hatred for each other, they came up with a way to perpetuate the race without copulating by mutilating themselves into androgynous, asexual creatures.  The other reference is H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  Do you know what it is that eventually conquers the Martian invaders?  Germs.  Make of all this what you will.

- I cannot take credit for the following observation, but it is definitely worth passing along: the wrath of God is actually the love of God, as experienced by those who resist it.

- There are a couple of lines in Scripture that are much in my mind at the moment, and that we should think about in these troubled times.  They are both from the Gospel of Luke, in the passage that has become known as the Magnificat, which the Church prays every evening at Vespers.  Luke 1:50:
And His mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear Him.
So there is no generation that is excluded from God’s mercy, even generations that are subjected to chastisement, as ours is, provided we fear Him.  Fear of the Lord is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  And Luke 1:51-52:
He hath shewed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.  He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
Right now, we lie prostrate with the hob-nailed boots of the proud and the mighty upon our necks.  Right now the totalitarians and secularists appear to be in charge all over the world and within the Church, and humanly speaking, there is nothing we can do about it.  But ultimately, God is in charge. What He has done before, He will do again.

We have His promise.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

If You’re Afraid of Catching the Virus...

...then stay home.  No law requires you to go out and risk exposure.

Are we or are we not a God-fearing nation?  If we fear God, we extend charity to our neighbor.  If we are, then why are we depriving beauticians and interior decorators and craft store owners of their livelihoods in Idaho because people in New York are afraid of catching the virus?

A person who goes out and earns an honest living engaging in legitimate pursuits is not a “murderer.”  Life is about taking risks.

If you don’t want to take risks, then stay home.

Understand, though, that it takes an awful lot of other people out there working, making things, providing services, and generally mingling around, to enable you to stay at home without starving to death or being deprived of other things you need.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Observations on the Coronapanic

Some observations about the worldwide panic, in no particular order:

- It is a mark of tyrannical regimes that their citizens are atomized, isolated, trained to distrust one another and forbidden to gather in groups for the pursuit of common interests.  This is why the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of the people peaceably to assemble.  For the last six weeks, we have been deprived of a constitutionally guaranteed right.  Not only that: many Americans have enthusiastically thrown away this right, and even busied themselves about shaming and reporting to the authorities their fellow citizens who think, along with the Founding Fathers, that this right is important.

- The right to work and to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor is a basic human right and a requirement of human dignity.  Yet Americans are being forbidden to work.  American businesses have been wiped out.  More than 20 million Americans have lost their jobs because of shutdowns.  Depriving people of the ability to earn a living and support their families also carries dire consequences, up to and including death — and not only for the unemployed.

- No one wants to die, and an aversion to death is hard-wired into us by our Creator.  But many people show, by their words and their conduct, that they believe physical death to be the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person, and that the continuation of earthly life — particularly their own — is the supreme good, to which all other goods come in a distant second.  This is a symptom of godlessness.

- Language shapes ideas, and sways emotions.  Have you noticed how largely the term “coronavirus” has fallen into disuse, in favor of the more sinister-sounding “COVID-19”?

- President Trump never recommended ingesting or injecting oneself with disinfectants like bleach or Drano.  The context in which he used the word “disinfectant” last week makes clear he was talking about the disinfectant properties of ultraviolet radiation.  Ultraviolet radiation is known to kill viruses.  There is actually such a thing as light therapy.  But facts like these make no difference to those whose hatred of Trump outweighs all other priorities.

- We have not seen nearly the death toll from coronavirus we have been told to expect.  The deaths have been so few that the Public Health Gurus have even admitted they are counting as coronavirus deaths persons who were positive for the virus but died of something else, just to bump up the numbers.  Hospital staff have so little to do that they are either being furloughed, traveling to other jurisdictions or making stupid dance videos, allegedly in a bid to “boost morale.” Meanwhile, people with conditions other than coronavirus are going untreated.

- When we consider the low numbers of cases and deaths from coronavirus, we do well also to consider that (a) not every jurisdiction has a lockdown order, and (b) not every jurisdiction that has a lockdown order stringently enforces it.  I happen to live in a place where (b) applies.  I have been through several drive-through restaurants where employees are not wearing gloves or masks, or are not changing gloves between orders.  I have been to stores where social distancing is not observed.  Yet, at this writing, Idaho has had 1,768 cases and 56 deaths statewide.  This can’t be owing to all the urged precautions.

- People do not become “murderers” merely by going about their daily lives and engaging in legitimate pursuits.  How many of the same people who think their neighbors are “murderers” for wanting to reopen their businesses or get a haircut or go to Mass, support abortion, contraceptives and euthanasia?  When did supporters of euthanasia suddenly start caring about the vulnerable elderly?

- If the virtue-signalers who denounce their neighbors for wanting to be productive are so afraid of catching the coronavirus, nobody is forcing them to go out.  Let them stay home while the rest of us get on with our lives.

- How many people in nursing homes are being put out of the way under the guise of coronavirus?

- Is it just possible that the coronavirus is the excuse for our Elders and Betters to slap the restrictions upon us that they have been wanting to slap on us all along?

- It has long been said that cleanliness is next to godliness.  But for many years, sellers of antibacterial soaps and sanitizers have been training us to cultivate more and more an effeminate horror of microbes to rival that of Howard Hughes.  Is it possible that our inordinate germophobia is part of what has left us open to being led, so tamely and so easily, to shut down our economy and abandon our freedom?

- If there is one thing this pandemic and the ensuing panic has done, it is to expose our true priorities, and the true priorities of our leaders, both secular and religious.  It has exposed the frightening number of little gauleiters and commissars among the citizenry, even in an allegedly free society.  It has exposed how illusory is the promise of religious liberty in a relentlessly secularist society.  It has exposed the futility of the centuries-old project of trying to replace the divinely-revealed Deposit of Faith with a man-made secularist ideology.  It has exposed the utter bankruptcy of the modernism that so many of our Catholic priests and bishops have enthusiastically embraced.  It has exposed the fact that nothing we cobble up on our own to try to replace what God has given us will ever work or give us what we need, especially in times of crisis.

- Not every decision our bishops make is right, just because they are bishops, and failing or refusing to come to terms with that fact is not a mark of virtue.  We cannot fix our bishops; we can only extend our charity and pray for them.  But we are not going to do that if we don’t acknowledge problems.  Even while we forgive bishops who have deprived us of Mass and the Sacraments and locked us out of our churches; even while we pray for them; even while we examine within ourselves the reasons why God evidently thought it right to permit us to suffer this; even so, we take note of the fact that these bishops did not even wait for the secular authorities to put the kibosh on religious observance before rushing to do it themselves.  Nor, as far as we can tell, did they lobby the secular authorities for an exception to lockdown orders for the Sacraments, religious services or care of souls. These actions and omissions are the best possible advertisement against the modernism that has been crammed down our throats for years and years and years, and ought to move every Catholic to finally reject it once and for all.

- Ann Barnhardt, with whom I have explicitly and by name taken issue in this space, came up with a term years ago that aptly describes the media coverage of this pandemic: agitporn.  It is designed precisely to whip us up into a perpetual state of fear and agitation, to which we become addicted, and which makes us eager to comply with even the most draconian measures.

It is time to turn off the agitporn, turn on the common sense and start to pick up the pieces of our shattered society before it is damaged beyond repair.

UPDATE: Memo from our Elders and Betters: why we need to sit down, shut up, take our castor oil, smile and say THANK YOU.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Fiddling While Rome Burns

Comes the news that Pope Francis is forming yet another commission to study the question of female deacons.

Millions of children are being destroyed in their mothers' wombs every year.  A post-Christian world is trying to redefine marriage and even obliterate the whole concept of male and female.  Atheistic secularism, hostile to Christianity, is the predominant world view.  A small minority of leftist elites is out to destroy Western culture and concentrate as much power as possible into their own hands.  The Catholic Church in China has been sold out to the communists.  Idols have been worshiped in the heart of Christendom on earth, in the presence and with the apparent approval of the Pope himself.  Sexual abusers have proliferated within the Catholic priesthood and episcopate.  And now, we're in the middle of a worldwide crisis where some people are getting sick and dying; many more are losing their livelihoods because of quarantines and the shutting down of "non-essential" services; and Catholics all over the world cannot receive the Sacraments or even pray in their churches.  Some bishops are going as far as to try to forbid priests to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.  Hospitals are denying the dying access to priests.

And this is the time the hierarchy decides to fiddle with the impossible and futile project of ordaining women to the diaconate.

Decades of sissified liturgy, designed to make us comfortable and complacent and flabby rather than zealous for God and for souls, has produced Catholics -- and therefore priests and bishops -- who do not have a supernatural outlook.  The "spirit of Vatican II" church that for decades has pushed the need for the Church to be "relevant" to modern man has succeeded only in making itself irrelevant to real people with real trials and tribulations.

What an indictment of the modernist experiment within the Church.  

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Yes, Virginia, That Was an Earthquake (And No April Fool's)

From the Facebook page of St. John's Cathedral, Boise:
damage to cross over north transept from last night's earthquake.
I had to laugh at the headlines in the immediate aftermath reporting an "apparent earthquake."  Nothing "apparent" about it.  As a veteran of many major earthquakes, including the horrific Northridge Earthquake in 1994, I am here to tell you it was pretty unmistakable.  And it was unmistakable to people who felt it all over Idaho, and also in Montana, Washington and Canada.  My first thought, when I realized what was happening, and saw the window glass in my front room window rippling, is that my house might not have been either built with earthquakes in mind or seismically retrofitted.  My second thought was an impulse to call my mother, followed immediately by the recollection that both of my parents are dead.

Quite honestly, even in the midst of the dire events of this Lent, an earthquake was the last thing I was expecting.  It has been 25-plus years since I was last in an earthquake.  Yes, I have always known that there are occasionally earthquakes in Idaho; in fact, two children were hit and killed by falling masonry in Idaho's last big earthquake in 1983.  But nevertheless, I figured, naively, that I was getting away from earthquakes when I moved from California to Idaho in 1995.  Idaho, though volcanic in origin, is not one of your notoriously earthquake-infested states.  The ground in Idaho has always felt safe and solid -- at least as safe and solid as the ground can feel anywhere on earth.

Not anymore.  One more security blanket has been taken away.  Our confidence in one more earthly thing has been shaken -- literally.  

This earthquake coincides with the release to a wider public of the news that, several weeks ago, Idaho's bishop issued a decree forbidding priests to celebrate the Novus Ordo ad orientem, to provide kneelers or Communion rails to parishioners who want to kneel for Holy Communion at Novus Ordo Masses, or to introduce into the Novus Ordo any elements of the traditional Mass.  But that was actually the first of a series of Lenten blows to come out of the chancery.  The next was the initial response to the coronavirus, which was to forbid the faithful to receive Communion on the tongue at Novus Ordo Masses.  Then came the closing of Masses to the public.  Then, immediately following the governor's stay-at-home order, came the bishop's order to lock up all churches, effectively shutting down perpetual adoration, which had been taking place at no fewer than four parishes in the Boise metro area, and the expanded availability of the Sacrament of Penance that some parishes had instituted.  

Now, this concatenation of events has gotten me seriously thinking.  I strongly believe that we are in the midst of a great chastisement that has been coming for a long, long time, and that it consists not only in the pandemic and other natural disasters, but also in the almost entire deprivation of the Mass and the Sacraments in vast stretches of the globe.  For this men and their abuse of their powers are responsible, but God has obviously allowed it to happen, or it couldn't have happened.  I believe part of the reason He has permitted all this is to expose the utter impotence of trendy modernism in the face of catastrophe, and what a catastrophe modernism is in and of itself.

Yet I also feel the all-pervasiveness of this modernism that doesn't leave me untouched.  Modernism denies the supernatural.  When I look at all the signs, I am tempted to dissociate the supernatural from it all, and to think that only the banal and worldly is what is real.  I am tempted to think I am only seeing what I want to see, or only what fits in with my narrative.  I worry about reading things into events that aren't really there.  

On the other hand, it makes sense that we in Idaho should feel some divine wrath.  The rest of the country thinks of Idaho as a very conservative state; but this does not take account of the state of the Church in Idaho.  The hobnailed boot of liberalism has been on the neck of the Boise Diocese for a very long, long time.  The modernist Old Guard has been very complacent here, and thus very arrogant, for a very long time.  One of them, former Father William Thomas Faucher, the great liberal editorialist and wreckovator of parish churches, felt complacent enough to amass a gigantic stash of child porn of a character so vile and so violent that the detectives working the case characterized it as the worst and most sickening stuff they had ever seen.  Faucher felt complacent enough to take pictures of himself urinating on a copy of the Code of Canon Law, and to boast online to his pervert pals about urinating in a chalice.  In jail, he felt complacent enough to publish a newsletter to his supporters and give a newspaper interview in which he predicted that his legacy would not be as a child pornographer.  At his sentencing, he felt complacent enough to give an almost twenty-minute speech blaming his porn and drug addiction on being sidelined by the late former bishop, and asking the judge, with a straight face, for probation so that he could "help" others understand the evils of child porn.  And in the aftermath of his being sentenced to 25 years fixed, the remaining Old Guard still felt complacent enough to carry on business as usual, to include trying to put the kibosh on the small grass-roots steps toward regaining tradition that were inspired by horror over the Faucher affair.  

But business as usual has now been brought, forcibly, to an end.  Whether we try to go back to it is going to depend on whether or not we have learned anything from all this.

St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.
St. Rocco, patron against plagues, pray for us.
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, patron against earthquakes, pray for us.