A voice from the chorus

Before sending my little essays out in the world, I apply a special coating, to prevent them from going viral. It is my own secret recipe, which I am not prepared to share. I will only give a couple of annoying hints, on the ingredients. What I put in may be obvious enough; but what I take out is the key to it. For instance, whenever possible, I remove proper nouns. Gentle reader may have heard that the sin, and not the sinner, should be the target of Christian resistance; but for the world, the sinner is the search term.

Sometimes one must names names, however. But then one relies on another non-ingredient. I carefully avoid what the world is currently talking about, in relation to the name; to construct the post in such a way that it cannot be much use to anyone with an axe to grind, and therefore, no one will want to link it.

No one is perfect, and sometimes I slip. Usually it is because something has happened that makes not only others, but me, rather angry. There is some injustice that is obvious and needs rectifying; the victim is small and the perpetrator large. Still, with luck, my reputation for irrelevance may protect me from excessive attention.

I see that Thomas Rosica, one of the Basilian Fathers from over at St Mike’s — who have, in my longstanding opinion, done much over the years to kill off Catholic congregations and vocations — admirer of the disgraceful Gregory Baum, founder of Salt+Light TV, and now the English-language media point man at the Holy See Press Office under Fr Federico Lombardi (enough said) — has threatened to sue my friend David Domet. It is a story getting play all over the “traditionalist” blogosphere. Domet’s Vox Cantoris blog is a good enough source for material and links to many who do not much admire Fr Rosica, nor appreciate his “progressive” contributions to the life of the Church. I do hope Vox Cantoris stays up through the proposed “lawfare,” which began with a formal demand that Domet take down every post in which Fr Rosica is mentioned. (Go read them while you still can!)

Domet is a little guy, Rosica a big guy. (Well, biologically, they are more evenly matched.) I, personally, have many disagreements with both, yet am not midway between them. Domet treasures and defends the mystical dimension of the Church, and is deeply involved in her music. Where he has gone over the top, it seems to me he has chosen the right hill. Rosica is a mover and shaker; a wonderfully well-connected “modernist,” with a tin ear.

As a media man myself, at least in my dark past, I would not criticize the Vatican media operation nor, particularly, would I allege its total incompetence. As the Schoolmen used to say, some arguments are unnecessary.

Instead, I would call attention to a deeper problem, not only in media operations but most other communications I notice emanating from the current ecclesial bureaucracy, and devolving through various quasi-autonomous ventures (such as Salt+Light TV). They are upbeat, smileyface, welcoming, to a fault. The wolf, as we may see from Fr Rosica’s private, thuggish attempt at intimidation, may lurk behind the scenes, but in front we see only soft, glib, very comfortable sheepskin. We call this, “The Church of Nice.”

The harrying from within of all Catholic tradition — the replacement of her moral teaching with a fake “mercy”; of her profound liturgy with cheap karaoke; of transcendent truth with cute bumpersticker — is a sign of the times. We must read it even as we continue to pray; and in the knowledge that inevitably, Christ will prevail.

It might appear that the Church is imploding; that we watch a death star. I cannot know; I do not think this is the end of times, however. I suspect that under the surface the opposite is happening: that men will look back upon this as a true age of renewal, “out of Africa,” perhaps, but perhaps also out of here, in old Protestant territory, where converts have been breathing in new life. In order for the Church to emerge once again, from beneath the smoke, visibly as what she is and has always been, the gases of modernity must burn off. That, I think, is what is now happening: outwardly terrifying, but do not be alarmed. The forces of liberalism are consuming themselves.

Lex orandi, lex credendi. The law of prayer is the law of belief. This will not be forgotten. Those who pray as the Church has always prayed, now suffer a persecution that comes not only from outside. A bureaucracy and even a hierarchy which leaves heresy to flourish, turns with increasing vigilance against every expression of orthodox faith.

On this Quadragesima Sunday, I am reminded so poignantly of this, in the account of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, and in the words of the ninetieth Psalm, scattered through the Tract and all the chants. Far from desolation, we have a song of tenacity and backbone, resolution and confidence. In the epistle, Saint Paul sounds the war horns: “Behold, now is the acceptable time.”

Persist: in caritate non ficta, “in charity unfeigned.”