Readers of my Daily Catholic articles would have to notice that most of my articles are directed to traditional Catholics and about what we are doing in our role Divinely appointed to us in this crisis. Correspondingly little space has been devoted to what goes on outside the traditional Catholic movement, that is to say, outside the Church. Other writers handle quite well the secular world out there; there is little I could add to their efforts. Likewise, still others address the problems in the Novus Ordo to a degree I would almost rather not think about, given their gross decadence, worldly ways, positively hellish political correctness, and overall unedifying example.
And this article is no exception to my most common practice. When people's eyes look outwards only to the point they see so well the faults of others and yet become unable to see their own faults, this can only be detrimental to one's interior spiritual life, whatever constructive value that due warning to those outside is indisputably worth. Such warnings are useful for one single function, and that is to bring people into the Truth. Now as for we who have arrived there, is that all there is? We become traditional Catholics, find a Latin Mass, attend there exclusively, and then we're all set, right?
Of course not right. Having found the Church we are obliged not only to receive the Grace of its sacraments and accept its teaching and guidance, but most of all we may now begin (and we can only begin when that first has been accomplished) that seeking after the moral and spiritual perfection practiced by the great saints. How better to attain this end bit by bit over the course of our lives by reading and praying and meditating over the spiritual works of the great saints, and by applying their wise counsel. What value there is in our association with our fellow congregants at the Mass, our priest, and even our ability to defer to the wishes of those members whose wishes we may not even like!
Sadly, all too many Catholics are known not personally in the Church they attend but only as disembodied "voices" over the internet. We are so scattered and few all over the earth that such remote forms of "fellowship" are often necessary, especially for those of us not located anywhere near a Catholic Church, who must travel for hours and hours just to go to Mass. To most who know of me at all I, too, am just one of these many disembodied voices over the internet.
What can I contribute to all of this? Have I scaled the heights mounted by the likes of the Cure of Ars or Saint Francis de Sales or, oh, so many other such saints who enrich our holy calendar? In the interior spiritual realm there is no "standing on the shoulders of giants." We must aspire to become such giants ourselves, however little progress we may make in that direction. But one thing I can do from my limited station is exhort all to holy piety and righteousness.
Unpleasant as it is to think about, the traditional Catholic community does nevertheless have its abuses, excesses, and other faults that scandalize many and limit our expansion. Before anyone starts pointing to any of my criticisms of traditional Catholics as "proof" that we Catholics are still sinners just like everyone else, let me put something in proportion here. Objectively speaking, our faults are but mere flyspecks next to the grotesque spiritual condition of those who have not the benefit of the Church's teaching, guidance, and sacraments, and community. At best, those outside can only hunger for a Truth that they as yet know nothing about and seem to lack the capacity to even recognize should they encounter it all.
Flyspecks our faults indeed are, but among us these flyspeck faults bear more responsibility and culpability than nearly all of the far grosser faults of those outside. For we have the spiritual assets needed to overcome these faults where they lack even a sense of what direction to turn let alone the means to head in that right direction were they even to know it. Thrashing about in the dark they have only their own sins to guide them. Such picayune peccadilloes as ours would be utterly lost in the shuffle of their debased and sinful states of mind. What additional blame would attach to them were they to adopt our sins as well as all of their own?
But as Catholics we are called to a far superior moral standard than they, and empowered to meet that calling, if only we avail ourselves of what we have. It is in this context, and as a fellow traditional Catholic, that I write all of my criticisms of some unhealthy tendencies one often finds in our precious Church which our Lord laid down His life to save. Now, to the unhealthy tendancy to address in this article:
Many of us have come recently from the Novus Ordo. While some few of us may have come easily and peacefully, many more of us have left the Novus Ordo with extreme bitterness in our hearts over the nonsense that went on therein. It was that nonsense that finally drove us out, seeking shelter elsewhere and thankfully finding it in the Church we now attend. But oh what agony that nonsense gave us, what pretzels we had been twisting our minds into trying to reconcile that nonsense with the true vision of the Mystical Body of Christ written on our hearts from the dawn of time!
Given that, it is quite understandable that we should be bitter about them and the way they have treated us and flouted and mocked God Himself. How dare they? They have used up years of our lives that we have wasted following their misguidance, being taken advantage of, ill-used, chewed up and finally spat out, ultimately thrown away by them like an empty candy wrapper once we have nothing left to give. We want it all back, the years, the tears, the time, the money, the reputation, the sacrifices we have made, and so forth, and we resent their not giving these things back to us. Can we help referring to them, and their leaders who made them so and tolerated their being so, in terms that almost seem to say "you dirty rotten bastard," or "dirty rotten bastards," or the like?
This seems especially so in our written and published statements posted on the internet. We may take some solace in finally being able to say the things we formerly kept bottled up inside, things that practically demanded to be said for the sheer truth of them, but to those who read us, who read our articles so posted, I wonder sometimes whether we end up coming off as strutting roosters showing off our anger like a status symbol.
And what do I have to say today? It is just this: Lose the attitude. Can we know their interior state? Were they truly the deceiver or merely the deceived? Were they themselves the mastermind bad guy seeking to be our nemesis or merely a shill put up to it by another true nemesis masquerading as a friend or even quietly staying in the background? Are they a conscious conspirator, or themselves as misled and mistaken as you had been while among them yourself?
Leave it to God to judge. He knows who did what, and all will be revealed to all on the Great White Throne Judgment. Let us be concerned with how we will stand then. And in the meantime, let us learn to "suck it up" and then offer that up for the poor souls in Purgatory. How do we treat the Protestant clergy who never had anything to do with us and whose corruption we have had no occasion to be personally exposed to? We are polite, respectful, eager to encourage good in them, and even to pray for them that they might come to the Faith.
Can we not treat the Novus Ordo leaders and "clergy" in a similar fashion? So often we treat them like traitors to offices that they have been false to rather than as mere holders of some other new synthetic fake offices that require no integrity on their part. If a Protestant Episcopal "bishop" decides to host and honor a virulent pro-abort political candidate at some religious function (or whatever), what do we say of it? Not much. What they do matters little to us; we hardly remark on it at all, as is proper. But when a Novus Ordo "bishop" does the same thing we get all up in arms, as if we expected him to do better. We call him treacherous traitorous apostate as if he were the Devil incarnate (and a Protestant Episcopal "bishop" doing the same thing isn't?), as though he had violated some sacred trust, which we fully understand that the Protestant hasn't.
But as we know, we who have studied the present situation and come to realize that the Novus Ordo is organizationally, canonically, and ontologically a different church than the Church that Christ founded, there is absolutely nothing that obligates the Novus Ordo "bishop" (or any other representative) to do anything Catholic at all. We therefore need not treat him any worse or different than we treat the Protestant. Indeed, when such, be he Protestant, Novus Ordo, or anything else, should ever do something for a change that actually IS truly fitting for a Catholic to say or do, is not at least some limited credit due?
Can we do that? If we must refer to these characters at all, can we not do so in calm, neutral, objective terms that expose the evil they have done (rather than the evil we wish to attribute to their endarkened little hearts but which God alone can truly know and weigh and judge), and even be willing to give credit when one or another of them actually does something Catholic? And if they do something good can we not simply say of it "good for him" instead of attributing his good action to some sinister plot on his part to fool good people into thinking he is also good like they are?
Just recently, the Vatican leader Benedict XVI advised his flock to start learning the standard Catholic prayers in Latin so that Catholics from all over the world can pray together. Whatever else the man has done, this one act, considered in isolation from everything else he has done, is itself genuinely of merit, and while I am a Catholic who is outside the scope of his "diocese," I nevertheless intend to do just that in the weeks and months to follow. Now where was the praise for this? Some Indultarians perhaps, maybe even an arch-conservative Catholic-at-heart Novus Ordo believer or two somewhere. Good for them.
And good for him; may there be more things like that where that came from, amen. Does that therefore make him pope? Obviously not. There remains a tall order to do first regarding the revocation of Lumen Gentium that he needs to do, at no doubt great personal cost. How will he be emboldened and encouraged to begin actually taking on that tall order unless we who are the Church can be quick to take notice of every step he takes in that direction, fully as quickly as we were to jump on him for making "archbishop" Levada his primary doctrinal consultant?
The parent who merely scolds and punishes abuses the child. The parent who merely rewards and allows everything spoils the child. Either way the parent who does either equally conveys no message to the child but his own meanness or niceness. A good parent punishes the evil acts and rewards the good, that the child may learn right from wrong. Let we who are the Church behave in a manner consistent with that parental role with respect to everyone else which we do in fact possess. Let us proceed with the calm assurance of the authority our traditional bishops truly possess, and which all the rest of us traditional Catholics derive from them while in obedience to them. We traditional Catholics are to admonish, encourage, and direct as needed.
Leave it to the others to do the ranting and raving.