Two little words are the key to true understanding, to the supernatural life, and to Heaven itself -I Believe! Actually, in Latin it is one simple word: Credo! To believe as the Church believes must be the greatest happiness, for "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk.16:16). Before He suffered Jesus prayed for us to the Father: "Father, the hour has come! Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee, even as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, in order that to all Thou hast given Him He may give everlasting life. Now this is everlasting life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Him Whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ" (Jn. 17:1-3).
We believe because we trust in God Who is Absolute Truth, and whose word is truth (Jn.17:17). In fact, all are obliged to believe when God speaks, as He does through the pages of the Sacred Scriptures, and through the teachings of the Church handed down to us from the preaching of the Apostles. It is the only reasonable thing to do. We may doubt the testimony of human beings because they are not always truthful, but the testimony of God - never!
The body of revealed truth called the "deposit of faith" which the Church received at its beginning has been jealously guarded by the Church since apostolic times. It is like that pearl of great price of which Our Lord spoke, for which a man sells all he has in order to buy it (Mt.13:46). The deposit of faith cannot be changed, nor can its contents be diminished by deleting old doctrines, or increased by adding new ones. It can be pondered, studied, written about by theologians, taught, and preached, but never changed. It is God's revealed word.
Lest the faith should suffer change at the hands of the Modernist heretics, Pope St. Pius X published a Syllabus of Errors (Lamentabili Sane, July 3, 1907), in which he identified sixty-five Modernist errors which were to be proscribed and condemned. In the same year he issued his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (September 8, 1907), in which he referred to Modernism as "the synthesis of all heresies." To ensure obedience to his decrees, the holy pope required an Oath Against Modernism (September 1, 1910) to be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries. Since then every Catholic priest took the oath until it was abrogated by Paul VI in 1967. Why?
The Oath Against Modernism included the words: "I firmly hold… and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way."
Along came Vatican II! The documents of the said council have been described by no less an authority than Cardinal Josef Ratzinger as a countersyllabus, a rebuttal of the condemnations of Pope St. Pius X's Syllabus of Errors. Hence to sign the documents would amount to breaking the Oath Against Modernism imposed by St. Pius X. Therefore every bishop who signed the documents at the end of Vatican II, must be held as guilty of breaking the solemn oath made before God's holy Altar at the time of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Could God be pleased with this wholesale forswearing of a solemn oath by the majority of the chief representatives of His Church? Could the Holy Ghost ever be the author of this debacle? We may hope that many bishops did not realize the full impact of what they were doing in signing the documents. Many bishops, of course, refused to sign them and returned to their dioceses in sadness. The dismantling of the Catholic fortress had begun.
Another part of the fortress fell with the abandonment of the Papal Coronation Oath. History records that it was sworn by every pope, at least from the time of Pope St. Agatho in 678 A.D. The oath includes the words: "I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach upon, to alter, or to permit any innovation therein… We subject to severest excommunication anyone - be it Ourselves or be it another - who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction to this constituted evangelic Tradition and the purity of the orthodox Faith and the Christian religion, or would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or would agree with those who undertake such a blasphemous venture." This solemn oath, however, hallowed by long tradition, was not sworn to by John Paul II.
The heaviest blow was the imposition of the Novus Ordo Mass upon the Catholic faithful, and the attempted abandonment of the Traditional Latin Mass. Dom Prosper Gueranger, author of the great work The Liturgical Year, wisely remarked: "To change people's religion, you need do no more than change their books of worship."
Another renowned liturgist, Msgr. Klaus Gamber, agrees: "Liturgy and faith are interdependent. That is why a new rite was created, a rite that in many ways reflects the bias of the new (modernist) theology. The traditional liturgy could not be allowed to exist in its established form because it was permeated with the truths of the traditional faith and the ancient forms of piety. For this reason alone, much was abolished and new rites, prayers and hymns were introduced, as were the new readings of Scripture, which conveniently left out those passages that did not square with the teachings of modern theology - for example, references to a God who judges and punishes" (The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, Una Voce Press, 1993, p.100).
The phrase "keep the faith!" must be a rallying cry for all true Catholics in these times of apostasy. And to keep the faith, we must keep, above all, the Traditional Latin Mass, which is "permeated with the truths of the traditional faith and the ancient forms of piety."
"Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature," Jesus commanded as He prepared to ascend to the Father (Mk.16:15). The Apostles preached! We have believed! "Remember your superiors," says St. Paul, "who spoke to you the word of God. Consider how they ended their lives, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today, yes, and forever" (Heb.13:7,8).
"To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen" (2Pet.3:18).
For the Ascension Thursday Proper for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, see "Viri Galilaei"