Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Illumination of Conscience: We Are Already in It

We humans like our affairs to be tied up in neat little bows, our crises to be expeditiously resolved, like on a sitcom, and a convenient time frame for all this to happen — preferably within the next half-hour.  That is probably why seers and purported prophets are all the rage in these wildly uncertain times: we are looking for resolution, a when and how the cavalry will come charging in and save the day.  A big item on the prophecy hit parade is the so-called “illumination of conscience,” where it is alleged that God will miraculously reveal to all of humanity, simultaneously and instantaneously, the true state of our souls as He sees them, thereby shocking many into repentance and conversion.

There is a danger, of course, to being too attached to our preconceived notions, and that is that we will be so busy looking for God to follow our script and do things our way that we risk missing what He is actually doing.  It seems pretty clear that this turbulent, coronapanicky year 2020 IS the “illumination of conscience.”  If we have eyes to see, what has been done in secret is now being paraded in front of the whole world, and the true priorities of everyone, from the greatest to the least, have been exposed by this global moral panic.  Just a few examples:

- In a stunning case of elder abuse, the Democrats are openly and shamelessly running a candidate who is obviously senile, clearly in order to be able to put him out of the way as soon as possible after the election so that their real and probably totally unelectable candidate can take over.

- Government officials all over the world have taken the opportunity of the coronapanic to suppress public worship, thus putting on display their hatred of religion and — let’s not kid ourselves — especially the Catholic Church.  They have made clear that they are preparing for us a world in which we can get an abortion or look at pornography but cannot go to Mass.

- Government officials in liberal cities and states have openly demonstrated their sympathy with violent revolutionaries and other criminals, and their contempt of the people they were elected to represent.

- Persons holding high office in federal, state and local governments have proven their willingness to do anything to try to overthrow Donald Trump, even at great cost to those who elected them to look after their interests and the common good.

- A light is being shone on the rot and corruption within the medical profession as it participates in scaremongering for political purposes, strips patients of their dignity, denies to patients access to their families and to the Sacraments, denies or scares off people who need treatment for other illnesses, and subjects the elderly and infirm to a level of cruelty and isolation that not even murderers have to endure. 

- Peoples who thought they were living under some form or other of representative government are finding out just how impotent their elected officials are on their behalf, and how much of the real power is held by unelected and unaccountable officials acting in concert with huge, private moneyed interests behind the scenes.

- People all over the world are finding out whether their local police forces are willing to safeguard their freedom and their right to carry on their legitimate business unmolested, or whether they like lording it over their fellow citizens and treating them as enemies.

- Americans are finding out that there is an unwritten “pandemic” exception to all their constitutionally guaranteed rights, especially the right to the free exercise of religion and the right of peaceable assembly.

- Catholics are finding out how many of their prelates are enemies of tradition, and that most of them are in the tank for the dehumanizing globalist agenda that pits itself against faith, family, culture, freedom and love of God.

- Catholics are discovering the utter failure and bankruptcy of the modernist experiment within the Church, which has proven that, despite all its drivel about “accompaniment” and “compassion,” it has got absolutely nothing for us in times of real crisis, and has left us with locked churches, no Easter celebrations, months without the Sacraments, and successors to the Apostles who have gone AWOL.

- Catholics are finding out the appalling number of their priests and bishops, from the lowest echelons of the hierarchy up to the very highest, who are opposed to Catholic moral teaching, especially in the area of sexual morality.

- We ourselves are shown to ourselves and our neighbors for what we are, especially in our inordinate fear of death; our inordinate fear of microbes; our treatment of our fellow human beings as hazardous waste; our willingness to demand that our fellow human beings forfeit their identity and their humanity so that we may feel less afraid; our willingness to bully and humiliate and demonize others for not towing the party line.  In short, the absence of charity in our own hearts (not to mention the utter futility of the anti-bullying campaigns of yesteryear) is on full display.

- We can also see for ourselves how unwilling we are to suffer wrongs patiently, and how, rather than wage principled and prudent opposition to the unwarranted incursions on our private lives, we long to avenge ourselves on others who are acting out of the fear that has been stoked by those in government, the medical profession and the media, who are furthering this “great reset” agenda to the peril of their own immortal souls.

In short, God does not need to work a miracle in order to show us what we are really made of.  He has instead allowed the current concatenation of disastrous events to do that.  It’s all right out in the open for all to see.  If that doesn’t scare us straight, I don’t know what will.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Just Stop.

In these days of extreme laxity, which has slid into licentiousness and out-and-out anarchy, when so many of our shepherds are either keeping mum or giving scandal, a great danger for Catholics is the temptation to grossly over-correct.   As one prone to scruples, I understand this, and don’t consider myself immune to the tendency.  

And while the tendency may at least show the presence of zeal for the faith, it is not something to celebrate.  It’s bad enough when we chain ourselves up with worries and anxiety; it’s something else again to chain up others.  Too often, over-correction takes the form of trying to lay burdens on the consciences of other Catholics.  The Catholic blogosphere and social media has no shortage of keyboard and webcam warriors of all stripes who are too ready to impose their own opinions on others, on pain of sin, and to write out of the Church whole cohorts of other Catholics for not agreeing with their views.

My problem with this is threefold.  Firstly, we have people with no magisterial authority whatsoever, and often with deficient knowledge and understanding and life experience, with logs in their own eyes while they try to take specks out of other people’s eyes, declaring sins.  Not all of us are qualified to administer fraternal correction.  Being articulate, and possessing the ability to string words together into coherent English sentences, are not qualifications to administer fraternal correction.  Secondly, we see this “fraternal correction” happening where the subjects under discussion are controversial and contentious, and where weighty opinions are to be found on both sides of the issue.  In these circumstances, there are obviously legitimate doubts, and many questions that are not settled.  What rule can be enforced, on pain of sin, in the presence of legitimate doubts?

Thirdly, the Scriptures tell us again and again that our God is a God Who grants us peace such as the world cannot give.  He breaks bonds, frees captives, liberates from servitude and lifts burdens.  Bonds, captivity, servitude and burdens are the results of sin.  He asks us to exchange the slavery of sin for His yoke that is sweet, and His burden that is light.  Consistent with this, as Fr. Zuhlsdorf points out, one of the Church’s governing legal principles is that restrictions are to be construed narrowly, while freedoms are to be construed broadly.  But what is going on these days is that restrictions are construed broadly, and freedoms are construed narrowly, even stingily.  Is this not an invasion of the world’s mentality into the Church?  Is there any authority for the proposition that holiness consists in living in a straitjacket?  Is the God Who sent His Only Begotten Son to die for our salvation going to consign us to the fires of hell for being wrong about issues that theologians cannot agree on?

We can legitimately deplore laxity and license and disobedience to legitimate authority.  But before we start burdening the consciences of other people, we should probably make sure we are able to recognize real laxity and real license and real disobedience when we see them, and not use them as a cover for beating people into submission to our private opinions.  The next time we are tempted to wallop our fellow Catholics with some “fraternal correction,” we really should 



Before we end up doing more harm than good.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

What the World Needs Is More Catholic Triumphalism

On Sunday, the feast of Christ the King, I woke up really early and decided to go to the early Mass at the SSPX chapel, a 45-minute drive by freeway.  So I dragged myself out of bed and hurriedly got ready and got on the road.  I arrived about 10 minutes to 8:00, thinking I was golden, time-wise.

Only to find that Father was in the middle of his homily.  The early Mass, it turns out, starts not at 8:00, but at 7:30.  The next Mass is at 10:00.

So, there being nothing else for it if I was to fulfill my Sunday obligation, and being several dozen miles from home, and the vestibule being tiny, chairless and cold, and the basement being filled with doughnuts that I really didn’t need to be around, I went back out to the car to commune with St. Augustine’s The City of God, in which I have been re-discovering St. Augustine’s masterful and at times downright hysterical fisking of Roman polytheism.  It was in the car that I realized I had forgotten my purse at home.  What kind of a self-respecting, middle-aged woman forgets her purse at home?

But I was to make another realization amid the follies and foibles of the morning, which was that, as always, God’s plans are far better than my own.  Because if I had carried out my original plan, and not been at the 10:00 Mass, I would have missed the Eucharistic procession at the end of Mass, replete with canopy, incense, candles, a well-used and possibly rescued yet lovely processional crucifix, an army of altar boys, and the singing of hymns.  I got to walk right behind the canopy, and thought, how fortunate the people living along the processional route, where Jesus in the Eucharist processed with His entourage, right out in the middle of the street, just as if He owned the place (and I rather think He does).  I would love to have the Prince of Peace marching down my street in these troubled times, reclaiming the neighborhood for Himself, casting a glance upon my home and sending His peace and blessings upon it.  Was there anyone along the streets we passed down who believed that this was happening to them?  Then, the circuit walked, back to the chapel for the public recitation of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Why on earth did the Catholic Church ever give up Eucharistic processions?  What has aggiornamento given us in their place, and what good has it done us?  As far as I can see, all we’ve done by hiding away the Blessed Sacrament — even from the faithful, inside our own churches, where the tabernacle is no longer front and center — is to cede territory to the enemy.  Our pusillanimity has culminated in the wholesale capitulation of the hierarchy of the Church to her enemies in secular governments before they even made a move, ending public Masses, depriving the faithful of the Sacraments and locking up churches.  All we accomplished when we decided to stop being “triumphalist” was to leave ourselves defenseless.

If you ask me, for the heartening of the faithful and the dismaying of our enemies, what the world could really use right now is a heaping plateful of old-style, pre-failed-aggiornamento Catholic triumphalism.  Since Christ is our King, and He has already conquered, we really have no excuse for anything else.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Because Adjectives Fail Me

 Why has this blog been silent for so long?  Because events have been moving at breakneck speed and adjectives fail me.