Depends what you mean by Is

The Church is not in crisis, as Cardinal Sarah was saying the other day. We are in crisis. The Devil wants us to think that God has abandoned His Church. He hasn’t. In fact, He can’t, if I may add my theological understanding of the matter. I like to quote Joan of Arc: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.” It is only when we redefine the Church, to be something it is not, that complications arise.

In separating, generally, wheat from chaff, observe: there is wheat. From what I hear, we have some very bad priests (to say nothing of the bishops), but I know some good ones. The same may be said of the laymen. A friend, who has been in Rome recently, almost looking for corruption, mentioned this surprising thing. Much of what goes on in curia and seminaries is what always went on, including prayer and daily work. Why would it not? Men and women have jobs to do, and often they do them. Even those in whose hearts the Church is subverted and betrayed, have the Mass to get on with, and many other things they are paid and were trained to do. They may not be particularly malicious; rather, slovenly in mind and spirit. Their learning and their homilies may be mediocre, but there are deadlines which may be less trouble to meet than to ignore. Always, somewhere, the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Even going through the motions has value, when the motions are in service to a cause that is divine. Inspiration is anyway for special occasions. The Mass is valid, when we go through the motions; it was actually designed to be hard to invalidate. We needn’t bother our little heads with whether the priest is worthy. That is his business. We need only ask if we are in any way adequate to receive the Host, for the consequences of my not being worthy do not fall upon anyone else, except tangentially; and neither can my guilt be transferred to my neighbour.

Plausibly, it can be said that “the Church has failed,” in one way or another. Gentle reader will know what I think of plausibility. The Church has never failed, even once. Men fail the Church, constantly — both from outside and from inside her — and they’ve been doing so since her earthly beginnings. The cock was crowing on our first pope. In our blindness we think, “Christ isn’t there”; that He has (quite understandably) “walked.” Only in the sense that He goes where He is wanted, can this appear to be true. Have we looked for Him? Is He hidden in plain view?

I was also sent, the other day, some screed by a man who said he doesn’t go to Mass any more; that we should continue to be Catholics without the Church. Spot the contradiction. The man was an intellectual; his screed was incoherent. The poor fellow may have some religious inkling, because he still feels the Sunday obligation he rejects. Somehow it had meaning “for him” when he attended; somehow it has no meaning now. He invites others to beclown themselves, by his example.

Christ hasn’t walked. The writer had perhaps noticed that others have walked, and now he follows the Zeitgeist through the narthex, or out the windows, into the Godlessness outside. He is, in other words, too well satisfied with himself, to reason the matter through. Has he lost his faith? He did not say he had, and I don’t think he has, either. As the priest of Ambricourt observed of his parishioners, no one loses his faith. It is there, or it is not, in every cell of the person. It is not like a wallet, or your car keys.

Has he lost his faith or has the faith lost him? Since neither is possible, I will assume he never had any; for a faith that is conditional must be some other thing.

I am speaking in absolutes, but about absolute things. Our modern man is very shy of absolutes. The Dictatorship of Relativism does not allow them. It only allows, at best, “if … then” propositions, which are quite useless to analyse an Is.