After years of scandal and controversy, it’s easy to forget how heroic so many of our priests are. We must support them and pray for them.
And we, Catholic brothers and sisters, must remain brave ourselves, and firm in our Faith! Tribulations are coming. One could easily argue (Wuhan Virus, anyone?) that they are here already.
You want my traditional Catholic lifejacket? Take it!
Today–12 February 2020–is the day the much anticipated/dreaded Papal document on the Amazon Synod came out. We were all bracing for the worst sort of news when it came to married priests and lady jungle deaconesses, but instead the document says something rather different.
Here is the text of tweet made by EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo:
The Pope’s final Amazon document is a shock and a wakeup call to progressives who have sought “revolutionary” change in the Church. Pope Francis has reaffirmed the tradition of ordaining celibate men, and ruled out ordaining women. Expect a ferocious response.
Does that mean we’re out of the woods? Probably not. As many online commentators–each with much deeper thought processes and way larger numbers of followers–have been warning, the whole idea of adding married priests and/or female deacons into the post-Vatican II Church was never the objective. Rather, the goal was to move the Catholic Church in ever closer alignment with the secularist goals of the UN and the likes of Jeffery Sachs, George Soros, and of course little Greta. The climate and environment are the real threats to mankind, and globalism is the only solution. The salvation of our souls and the methodologies used to obtain said salvation is a back-burner issue. And I’m afraid that while the current (and let us not forget temporary) leadership in Rome works ever harder to make the Church the UN’s favorite NGO, the issues of married priests, lady deacons, and eventually full-on priestesses is far from settled.
Still, isn’t it delightful to think how disappointed all the Modernists are at this moment? All of the coquettish hinting that the door was open for massive new changes and innovations to the priesthood. Oh, how they must have been anticipating it!
This pope is a master of weaponized ambiguity, and no mistake. Most of that ambiguity has worked to the advantage of the Modernists (think Amoris Laetitia). Each odd little statement he makes at an audience or airplane presser is like a little hand grenade of weaponized ambiguity tossed into the foxholes of Faithful Catholics with devastating effect. You “progressive” theologians, priests, bishops and laity have loved lobbing those grenades at us. But every now and again, one of those ambiguous hand grenades might just blow up in your own face.
“Take it, lad. You need it more than I do.” – Chaplain George Rentz, giving his life jacket to a seaman following the sinking of USS Houston during the Battle of Sunda Strait, 1942.
Commander George Rentz was a Chaplain aboard USS Houston, a cruiser sunk during a fierce naval battle with superior Japanese forces in the dark days of 1942. Clinging desperately to a hopelessly overloaded piece of wreckage with several other sailors, he relinquished his spot of safety. Giving his lifejacket to a young seaman with those words, he pushed away, treading water for a while before his strength gave out and he sank below the waves, joining 800 other men from Houston who perished that day. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his action, the only chaplain so honored during the Second World War.
Please God that he has received a far greater reward.
Rentz’s words became one of a handful of famous naval sayings which (along with better known phrases like “Don’t give up the ship” or “I have not yet begun to fight”) my Naval Academy classmates and I were ordered to commit to memory over 45 years ago.
It’s funny how those words stick with you. Thinking about it now, those three phrases (which I shouted with gusto as a sweating frightened Midshipman 4th Class whenever prompted by an upperclassman) can apply to us Catholics of a traditional/orthodox bent during these troubling and apocalyptic times for our Church. And surely 2020 will be a year as dark for our beloved Catholic Church as was 1942 for the U.S. Navy, the year Rentz laid down his life.
Hopefully, nobody reading this will be scratching their heads wondering why I lament the state of things in our Church. If you don’t know the situation, you simply haven’t been paying attention. For the rest of us, perhaps those three phrases will seem like good advice.
“Don’t give up the ship!” – I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m abandoning the Barque of Peter, no matter how hot the battle.
“I’ve not yet begun to fight!” – The enemy is demanding our surrender. Far from complying, we’re about to renew the battle with fierce determination.
“Take it, lad. You need it more than I do.” – Well, maybe this one isn’t as clear. Let me explain.
My response to the desperate battle facing us is nowhere near as noble or heroic as what that chaplain (only a month away from full retirement) did amidst one of the fiercest naval battles of World War II. It’s really pretty trivial and cheezy in comparison.
Instead of giving up my lifejacket, I’m giving up my seat at my FSSP parish.
My FSSP parish is small. When FSSP was granted permission to have a parish in my city, the small run-down church had been closed and abandoned, stark evidence of Catholicism’s post-Vatican II continual collapse. After three years of effort (including some pretty serious engineering), the building had been restored to its former beauty. The high altar was in place, and all vestiges of the Novus Ordo experiment were gone.
And our little parish began steadily growing. It wasn’t just cranky old timers incapable of “getting with the times,” as the Traditional Mass’ detractors like to paint us. Nope. More and more young families came through our doors. In ten years our little outfit produced five vocations.
The growth was steady but manageable. Then came the Summer of Shame.
When it became evident how rampant the scandals, how deep the rot, how Modernist the hierarchy, and how big the mess confronting our Catholic faith, attendance at my little parish exploded. We ushers saw more and more new faces every week. There were more and more new families showing up. They were curious first-timers, and they had questions which we tried to answer, always encouraging them to come back.
And, boy, did they come back! Our job as ushers, of course, included finding seats for our parishioners and visitors. These days we look less like ushers and more like those famous Japanese train conductors who have to pack passengers like sardines! Our three FSSP priests laid on additional Sunday Masses to alleviate the strain, but the crowds kept growing. We’re now at the point where if you don’t show up for Mass at least a half hour early, you’re not going to get a seat…at least not in a pew inside the church.
During good weather (which is abundant in our state), we leave the double doors open and set up two rows of folding chairs under a portable canopy. People sit outside, peering in and listening to the homily broadcast on exterior speakers. During the parts of the Mass where you’re supposed to kneel, they kneel uncomplainingly on the concrete sidewalk. We’ve taken two of our classrooms and made them overflow rooms where the Mass is relayed via WiFi onto large screen displays.
A first-time visitor to our parish shouldn’t be forced to watch from such disadvantaged locations, so it isn’t uncommon for parish “regulars” to give up their pew for a visitor.
Such is the state of our little Latin Mass parish.
The good news is that we’re not the only place in our city where the Mass is offered in the Extraordinary Form. Two much larger parishes have brave priests who offer the Latin Mass at least once a week, offering their parishioners the opportunity to attend the Extraordinary Form in addition to their regular Novus Ordo Masses. I say these priests are brave for two reasons: first of all, they haven’t had the extensive training which Latin-only outfits like FSSP, ICKSP, and SSPX seminarians go through. The Latin Mass is beautiful, but certainly difficult for a man not trained from the ground up in saying it. Secondly, our city is home to one of the more liberal bishops in America. So far, he has been tolerant of these pre-1969 Masses being said by his diocesan priests. That, of course, could change at any moment.
I’ve attended these Latin Masses, and they are growing as well. They’re both said in very large churches, so there’s still plenty of room. I’d put the attendees at a Novus Ordo parish Latin Mass at about (this is a very unscientific wag) 40% Traddie and 60% Novie. Many, many families are being exposed to the old rite. It’s good to have a significant number of Traddies in the pews there. We act as guides of a sort, I guess. If you’re a Novie Newbie and are struggling to keep up, it’s helpful to keep an eye on the people wearing mantillas and sporting those massive black missals. When they kneel, you kneel. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!
I’ve also struck up a friendship with the pastor of one of these Novus Ordo parishes. He’s a wonderful guy, orthodox in his theology and eager to bring authentic Church teachings to his people. I love encouraging and supporting him. Due to logistical imperatives (dealing with chronically ill family members), my wife and I have been attending separate Masses on Sunday in order to always have somebody at home. She’s been going to this Latin Mass at the big Novus Ordo church for a couple of years now.
Now, I’m doing likewise.
I’m still a member of my FSSP parish, and continue to support them financially. I still plan to get there at least once a month. But I think it’s time to give up my pew there to make room for that next confused and battered Catholic who stumbles through the door in search of the genuine Faith which seems to be evaporating before our eyes in far too many places.
To that Novie looking for a pew where they can experience the full beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass, I gladly say, “Take it, lad (or lass). You need it more than I do.”
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in early 2019. We’re re-publishing it now to coincide with the recently concluded annual March for Life.
Sorry, Your Eminence. Despite your best efforts to downplay the scandal, excommunication very much remains “a thing!!” It is considered a harsh remedy for the salvation of a soul in desperate danger of damnation, but it is still very much a tool which a caring shepherd can use in a situation like this.
Notwithstanding our silly little meme which opens this article, why haven’t our bishops acted to excommunicate notable (and notorious) Catholic politicians who actively support infanticide and abortion? Here are three reasons. You might find Reason #1 hard to take, but please consider it.
Reason #1: “It’s not ‘pastoral.'”
“Pastoral” is one of those handy post-Vatican II buzzwords that can mean pretty much just about anything the priest, bishop, or trendy theologian using the word wants it to mean. In its most common use, “pastoral” appears to mean “we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” If you pair this word up with the equally-potent term “mercy,” you have a powerful incantation which permits you remain inactive, even if public figures in your diocese are actively defying Church teachings, committing egregious mortal sins, and encouraging everyone around them to do likewise.
“We must show mercy. We must be pastoral.” That’s number one on on our hit parade. Upon further considerations, that really isn’t a reason, so much as it’s an excuse.
Mercy is absolutely essential to our salvation, there’s no debating that point. What is conveniently overlooked by so many of our modern theologians, prelates, and celebrity priests is the fact that mercy as a concept is meaningless if it does not remain paired with the concept of justice. A person who sins (that’s all of us) will be subject to the Divine Justice unless they are saved by the Divine Mercy. Mercy manifests itself through the sacrament of Reconciliation: you acknowledge your sins in the confessional, you show true sorrow and perform penance, and you are once more under the protection of Mercy because you’re once more in a state of sanctifying Grace.
In His earthly ministry, Jesus showed true pastoral care and mercy towards His lost sheep by living among them, sharing meals with them, and calling them to repentance. When He was dining with publicans and sinners, he wasn’t “accompanying them on their journey.” While he was eating with them, He wasn’t affirming their present lifestyle; he was calling them out of it. And in his preaching, Jesus made it abundantly clear what would happen to their souls if they failed to turn away from sin; if they failed to repent and follow Him.
He reminded them of the reality of hell, and of the horrifying consequences of dying in a state of mortal sin. He offered them a way out of this eternal damnation which they had earned, if only they repented and accepted His gift of salvation through the Cross. Now that’s being pastoral!
That’s what excommunication does: it points out–in no uncertain terms–the state of danger a person’s soul is in as a result of mortal sin and calls that person to repentance. And not only the person who is the object of this public call to repentance…an excommunication serves as an exhortation for all of us to repent, confess our sins, and to avoid the types of sins which have produced this grave set of circumstances for the public figure who is the object of this harsh remedy.
Bishops and cardinals: you want to be pastoral? Then call your people away from sin through whatever means necessary–including excommunication–in order that they may benefit from Christ’s divine Mercy!
Reason #2: They don’t want to upset the applecart.
These bishops have a pretty good racket going. They’re respected (well, maybe not so much these days), they’re considered pillars of the community, and they perceive themselves as being beloved of their people. If they’re a big-city bishop, they’re probably rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. They’re accepted by the local glitterati, and just might be considered a major celebrity in their own right. They’re like the unpopular kid in school who suddenly finds themselves accepted by and hanging out with all the kids in the highest rung of the social ladder…jocks, cheerleaders…heck, they might even get chosen to have a big role in Homecoming!
And, equally important, there are those financial considerations. Dioceses and archdioceses are big money operations. Many of them receive government money to engage in social and charitable work. These are not insignificant sums. Initiating a God-vs.-Caesar type of conflict by excommunicating a very powerful politician could have some very serious financial implications.
And that’s unfortunate. The role of a bishop is first and foremost to defend his sheep and do everything they can to help them get to Heaven. When their excellencies and eminences look into the mirror each morning, they’re supposed to see shepherd willing to lay down his life for the sake of his sheep staring back at them. Instead, too many of these men instead see the CEO of a charitable NGO (non-governmental organization) with obligations to “the bottom line”…and that vision informs all their actions.
Yes, there are certainly going to be consequences to a public excommunication. Reason #2 means you’re more concerned with the temporal consequences than you are with the eternal ones.
Reason #3: Moral cowardice and/or lack of supernatural faith.
Lacking the guts to do the right thing and call a Catholic politician who is endangering their own soul (and countless souls around them) to Judgement and everlasting fire…what can that be called other than cowardice? This ties in with Reason #2 to a great extent; something as profound as a public excommunication is going to have consequences. If the fears of earthly retaliation (social, political, economic) are strong enough, the prelate fails to act…even if he knows in his heart he is doing the wrong thing; knows in his heart that souls are in danger but he simply can’t muster the courage to do the hard thing…the right thing.
Pray for these men. They are like the Apostles who dearly loved Jesus, but fled in terror from Gethsemane when confronted with the specter of temporal suffering which would arise from remaining at their Savior’s side. They love their Lord, and may yet find their backbones. Pray for them, support them, and encourage them to do the right thing.
And the other component of reason number one is a most terrifying theory: what if these men simply don’t believe that it matters?
Has their faith been deadened to the point where they really don’t believe in the consequences of personal sin? What if “mercy trumps all” dominates their mind to the point where they completely disregard justice? Have they convinced themselves that there truly is “a reasonable expectation that all people go to heaven,” and–that aside from Hitler and people who throw plastics into the ocean–nobody will merit everlasting punishment? It almost seems as if some of them are acting that way.
Pray for these men as well.
And, by all means, pray for the souls of those who promote, procure and perform abortions, as well as for those who support or assist them. They–along with us–are being called to accept God’s eternal Mercy, but if they reject the gift of the Cross, what happens then? “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)
Your Excellencies and Eminences, listen to Hank Igitur in this video. He’ll explain it to you…
Blessed Fulton Sheen, pray for us! Here are some of his thoughts on this most holy of nights, taken from his book Life of Christ:
[E]very other person who ever came into this world came into it to live. He came into it to die. Death was a stumbling block to Socrates — it interrupted his teaching. But to Christ, death was the goal adn fulfillment of His life, the gold that He was seeking. Few of His words or actions are intelligible without reference to His Cross. He presented Himself as a Savior rather than merely as a Teacher. It meant nothing to teach men to be goo unless He also gave them the power to be good, after rescuing them from the frustration of guilt.
The story of every human life begins with birth and ends with death. In the Person of Christ, however, it was His death that was first and His life that was last. …
The manger and the Cross thus stand at the two extremities of the Savior’s life! He accepted the manger because there was no room in the inn; He accepted the Cross because men said, “We will not have this man for our king.” Disowned upon entering, rejected upon leaving, He was laid in a stranger’s stable at the beginning, and a stranger’s grave at the end. An ox and an ass surrounded His crib at Bethlehem; two thieves were to flank His Cross on Calvary. He was wrapped in swaddling bands in His birthplace, He was again laid in swaddling clothes in His tomb — clothes symbolic of the limitations imposed on His Divinity when He took a human form. …
He was already bearing His Cross — the only cross a Babe could bear, a cross of poverty, exile and limitation. His sacrificial intent already shone forth in the message the angels sang to the hills of Bethlehem:
This day, in the city of David
A Savior has been born for you,
The Lord Christ Himself. (Luke 2:11)
Not every outfit calling themselves “Catholic” is worthy of our attention.
That goes for fly-by-night charities, certainly, but it also large chunks of religious orders whose names you probably recognize.
It’s a sad state of affairs that we have to view solicitations for our cash from organizations with perhaps hundreds of years of goodness behind their names, but such is the state of our Church in the midst of this crisis.
Here is one very disturbing example:
In case the words in this image are blurry, here is the text of the Christmas greetings which the Franciscans International are offering you in their hideous little e-card:
In the context of the nativity, Luke tells us about the meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. The two women, both expecting a child, meet each other with attentiveness and sensitivity. At the opening of the Synod, Pope Francis asked us to approach the peoples of the Amazon on our ‘tiptoes’.
In this picture you see Mary, who we honor as the ‘new Eve’ or Mother of Life, together with Pachamama, who some indigenous peoples honor as the ‘earth mother’. Francis of Assisi too describes the earth as our mother in the Canticle.
Celebrating Christmas, I wish that we may approach God and each other on our ‘tiptoes’ so that we experience in these meetings the ‘real living’.
On behalf of Franciscans International,
Markus Heinze, OFM
Are all Franciscans bad? Have they all openly embraced paganism and apostacy as this particular whack-job branch of the order has? No, of course not!
But…just because they wear the Franciscan habit doesn’t mean that they are faithful sons of the saint from Assissi. Just remember those scenes from the Amazon Synod where, back in October, we were treated to the sight of a Franciscan in full habit prostrating himself on the ground before an image of this pagan idol which has apparently captured the hearts and mind of our senior Church leadership.
As you write out your checks for various charities during this holy season of Advent, be careful. Be discerning.
And…if by some odd circumstance, you’ve written a Christmas check to the Franciscans International…for goodness’ sake, stop payment on it!
Take a close look at this “O-Antiphon” tweet by the USCCB from Wednesday, 18 December. Do you see any symbology which looks a little…well…Masonic?
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge! pic.twitter.com/VGfU3QW43W
— U.S. Catholic Bishops (@USCCB) December 17, 2019
And, yes, I do know that the eye within the triangle, the “All-Seeing Eye of God” has a Catholic history. You can see it displayed in the artwork of old churches and manuscripts. But for the last several hundred years, it has been co-opted by the Lodge as a distinctly Masonic symbol. As such, it has gained a fair degree of toxicity. It’s no different than the rainbow. What was once thought of as the universal sign of God’s pledge never again to destroy the world with water, it has now become the universal sign of something rather different, hasn’t it? So it is with this symbol.
The question begs itself: was this simply a slip-up by the poor seminarian whose collateral duty it is to pretend he’s tweeting on behalf of all the bishops in the USCCB? Or was the symbology fully understood ahead of time.
Has the USCCB, in fact, gone “full Modernist?”
Confused about some of the perplexing pronouncements being issued from press conferences in aircraft or even papal documents? You’re not alone!
There has been quite a bit of “churn” over the past few years, and the tempo seems to be increasing daily. What has the Catholic Church always taught about things like divorce, homosexuality, the legitimacy of other religions, or even the death penalty? If you’re attempting to follow the news coming from Rome (whether through official press releases, established news organizations, or the blogosphere), it’s small wonder if you reach the troubling conclusion that doctrine is “up for grabs” and subject to modernization.
Well, it isn’t. If you want some reassurance on that point, read on.
It’s only eight pages, but if the last few years have left you feeling confused or uncertain about the true teachings of the Church, you owe it to yourself to read “Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time.”
Read New ‘Declaration of Truths’ Affirms Key Church Teachings in the National Catholic Register.
If you want to purchase a hard copy (might make a dandy Christmas or birthday gift), you can pick it up for just a few bucks at MarianCatechist.com.