Don’t leave

I have received more despairing letters from Catholics (and aspiring Catholics) this last week or so — since the Holy Father went to Mexico, and to Cuba again — than ever before. Many of these are livid with anger, and let me say I understand it. The sense of betrayal is one I share, not only with the Ukrainian Catholics. A couple of the letters were particularly distressing, because they were from persons who said I had “lured” them across the Tiber, and now they would “move on.” I find this kind of thing heart-rending.

One tries to write to people individually. Yet there are many more, not in correspondence. So let me reply to them, too, “from the heart,” if I may mean that hackneyed saying.

Context is required. The catastrophe of “the Spirit of Vatican II” precedes in time the current catastrophe, in which the faith of serious Catholics is being seriously tested. And there is, I would insist, a history before that in which the evil of Modernism was infiltrating the Church. Too much is blamed on our current Holy Father, whose election was, according to me, much more a symptom than a cause. To comprehend the crisis in the Church, we must be patient enough to look over centuries.

Righteous indignation will have its place. Then pause. The Fathers and the Doctors of the Church have expounded the suitable use for anger, short of Wrath. It must goad us beyond indulgent emotion.

Christ Himself put the limits upon it. Read e.g. First Peter, especially chapter two, and Ephesians, especially chapter four, and every word of four Gospels, before you allow your anger to blind you.

Before giving in to this anger, we must ask ourselves at least the practical question, What is it we hope to achieve? If there is nothing we can do, beyond our own vicinity, it follows that we must channel our anger to some lesser, but possible, good purpose.

Those who remain in communion with the Church founded by Christ, must do their best to acquaint themselves with her true teaching, from the Deposit of Faith, and defend that, in defiance of any contradiction. (Do not settle for a flip understanding; keep digging.) They should encourage each other, in Love, to hold the ground that Satan is assailing. Note that I named Satan, not some passing bishop.

Long before I was received into this Church, myself, I was well acquainted with the destructive “progress” of “liberalism” within her. I do not think I was naïve when I joined. I was tremendously encouraged by the papacies of Saint John Paul II, and beloved Benedict XVI, two extraordinary popes. It seemed that the crisis was being carefully addressed; now it seems that it was worse than even they imagined. Not only do we have a bad pope — playing for applause, to a world in which hard Catholic Truth isn’t going to win it — but the possibility that the next will be worse. For we have bad cardinals, too (though also some very impressive). We need not play the (typically modern) Pollyanna.

But there is no place for despair, either; and truly, no room to feel sorry for ourselves. Despair is a sin, for a start. True despair — the wilful abandonment of all hope in salvation — is a mortal sin. Yet many lesser forms of “desolation” lead unto that hell-gate, and here we are discussing one of the principal highways. We must remember that we have had worse popes, and even worse times in Church history. And that the Church can be righted, even through weak men and women who refuse to abandon her in her need.

Nor forget that the fire is being rekindled in places and ways that we overlook: in Africa, in China, and in obscure corners even of America and Europe. Even for this world it may be foolish to despair, and in the view over history it may be, that this was actually an age of recovery.

It could be the age of recovery in gentle reader’s heart.

Nor forget that the Holy Spirit is not only immanent, but also infinitely beyond us. It may be that catastrophes must happen; that these human evils will be used for a Good that we could never foresee; just as the mistakes in our own lives have opened gates for us. On this view, we cannot know even what is happening now, when we think we are on top of the news. For the news is, usually, totally misleading.

“Don’t let the bastards drive you out of the Church.”

The Enemy wants you to despair. He wants you to wander; to get you alone. He wants to exploit your anger. He wants you to leave: “Go! Go!” You have no idea how much he hates you.

Don’t! — if only for the sake of your own immortal soul. Do not participate in schism. Through the centuries it has done no good. Do not think that because things are bad here, they will be better at some more exotic location, where different mistakes are being made. Do not, at any level, simply assume. Faith is not grounded on assumptions.

Should the world be reduced to only one Catholic, be ready to answer: “Lord, I am here!”

And is it yet so bad?

Those who hesitate to be received, must remember it is the Catholic Church they are refusing — not the “church of Francis” or whatever. In a few years he will be gone, in a few more his successor gone, and I think we may reasonably expect that in a few more still, the liberal innovations will be gone, too: because they are unsustainable. Men and women, called to Christ, with their very lives on the line, will not be sustained by such pabulum.

The Founder and Head of Our Church is not some person in Rome; it was not even the (rather fallible) Saint Peter. It was and remains Jesus of Nazareth. Those in Rome are merely custodians — human, for better and for worse.

Our allegiance is to Christ, and it must not be altered because clowns attempt to speak for Him.

Do not sacrifice what is immortal, for what is merely passing. Do not cut and run from the fight. It will not bring you peace; it can never bring the peace which passeth all understanding.

Whatever may happen: Keep the Faith.