To be men not destroyers

A gentleman who wears the collar expresses surprise at the surprise. He has been wearing that collar for some time. He was in the seminary so long ago, that he can remember when the classes were taught in Latin. He has lived with degeneration in the Church since before Vatican II — has seen it all, and heard it all, and now he is seeing and hearing more.

“I find it hard to stomach all the misplaced surprise. I hear echoes of Genesis‎: ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ …

“Where were these alarmists as our children’s catechism was denuded, our altars disobediently despoiled, our Catholic institutions‎ demolished? … Catholic Children’s Aid, gone‎. … Catholic Hospitals, gone‎. … Catholic Schools, no longer Catholic. … Immigration Services for Catholic immigrants, gone. … Seminaries, not even a shadow of their former institutional selves. … Convents turned to condos. …

“As to clerics who lived lifestyles not in keeping with their calling: one would have had to ‎be a member of the Orange Lodge not to have rubbed shoulders with a multitude of them in the ’sixties and thereafter. …

“Now, on a sudden, the flood of crocodile tears. …

“Sexual perversion lamented by folk in second unions, contraceiving, sterilizing, in-vitro fertilizing. Yet marriage is a holy calling, and one with vows. Vatican II did remind us that the clergy have no monopoly on holiness, and the laity are not held to a lesser standard. …”

He could go on.

I am in only my sixteenth year as a Catholic. Yet I have known Catholics, it seems, since time out of mind. I did not directly experience the heartbreak and desolation through years of the contemptible “Bugnini reforms,” yet felt them vicariously through close, “traditionalist” Catholic friends, and through what I read by Catholic writers. (A certain Joseph Ratzinger was the most impressive among the living ones; even as an Anglican I subscribed to Communio.) I was aware, when I was received into the Church, that she was, in these Western lands at least, at a nadir in her fortunes. I could honestly tell my collared friend that I was not surprised by recent revelations that the rot ascends from feet to knees, and to the very top of the hierarchy.

As I have tried to make abundantly clear, I do not take Bergoglio for the cause, but as a symptom of our squalor. We have finally got “the pope we deserve,” surrounded by a cabal of perverts. Or perhaps we have not, and worse will come.

Let us not make excuses for them, but more urgently, let us not make excuses for ourselves. The priests have failed the laity. The laity have failed the priests. And now we all fail in the face of the “hurricane” I described this morning at Catholic Thing (here). Do not pretend to be surprised by the torrents.

A mob of accusers can accomplish nothing, except to spread more destruction. The task before us is to rebuild; to consult once again the directions of our Founder.

Fragments of Holy Church can still be found in the immense fields of rubble. We must collect them with reverence, and clear the rubble away. Wherever the Old Mass is worthily sung, there we still hear: the voice of Our Lord singing in the ashes.

“To be men not destroyers,” as that old wreck of a poet Ezra Pound once proposed.