It's now official: I'm a heretic. The Catholic priest at the local Novus Ordo parish of which I used to be a member informed me of this today. New to the community within the past few months, he'd never met me before today, but he was certain that I have turned my back on the Catholic Church by joining the ranks of "heretical" Traditional Catholics. He mentioned his disdain for the choice of books I had tried to use with the high school kids during my tenure on the religious education committee in his parish. (These books are very conservative and are weekly touted in the pages of The Wanderer). He believed that I had been guilty of trying to implement my own agenda for what I want the Catholic Church to be. Suffice it to say that the encounter was not pleasant and it upset me greatly. However, to Father's credit, he did calm down eventually and ended the encounter on a kind note.
Of course, I was caught off guard by all this. It is useless to try and defend myself when the jury has already presented the verdict. However, I know that no books were ever ordered without the approval of the past priest. I also know that the Catholic education of the people here has been thoroughly neglected for 30 years in favor of the modern hoop-la which has proven to be without substance or nourishment. I simply tried to present something of substance which is Catholic to the core.
This sleepy little Novus Ordo parish is just like thousands of others under the care of priests and bishops in "full communion" with Rome. They are paralyzed Catholics confined to the wheelchair of a liberal, modernist agenda, being fed intravenously while they sleep.
My so-called "agenda" is to be Catholic. I want to grow in the virtues and attain to whatever degree of holiness God's grace may allow. That's all. The Novus Ordo establishment works in exactly the opposite direction, forcing compromise; appealing to the need for communion with the Supreme Pontiff while essentially rewriting Catholicism and scoffing at those who "take religion too seriously" or appear "too pious."
The neo-Catholics will vigorously claim that "in the entire history of the Church, from the first century to this century, no example can be produced to show that any Pope or general council ever revoked a decree of faith or morals enacted by any preceding Pontiff or Council" (Catholicism and Reason, Rev. E.J. Hayes, C.R. Publishers Inc., 1996, p. 137). While this is literally true, there is no recognition of the fact that an essential change or reversal in doctrine can be accomplished without changing a single letter of the law. This has been accomplished in our time through the use of ambiguity, stripping the Mass of symbolism and theology, a majority of clergy intent on teaching contrary to the Truth (not to mention seminaries rotting in filth), or a multitude of clerics and religious content to remain silent. The essence of Catholicism can also be cleverly reversed by focusing the attention of the faithful upon themselves and their extraordinary intelligence and talents.
The New Mass has the amazing capacity to admit man-centered worship right into the heart of the Church. Such flagrant abuse of the Church's Liturgy was never the intention of the Majority of council fathers at the last ecumenical council. However, nothing essential has been done to stop it. Therefore, the faithful are denied the authentic, God-centered worship which the Sacred Liturgy engendered for centuries and centuries. The results have been devastating.
Church teaching on transubstantiation, Christ present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity has been effectively altered in our time by way of misleading the faithful. While the official teaching remains on the books without change, the essence of this teaching is hardly recognizable in many Catholic parishes, affecting the faith of millions.
Historians will be able to look back upon the pontificate of John Paul II and claim truthfully that he never pronounced an infallible teaching contrary to the doctrine proclaimed before him. However, we all know there is more to the Faith than the infallible pronouncements of the Popes. If in essence the faithful can be convinced to abandon authentic Catholic teaching by way of changes in tradition, or changes in practice and worship, then in fact the Faith has been altered.
Heart-wrenching and painful though it was, after much prayer I quietly left my local Novus Ordo parish, not because I had an agenda to make the Catholic Church be the way I want, but rather because I could no longer find there the Catholic Church as she really is.
The Traditional Catholic community of which I am a part, recently had the good fortune to acquire a church building which was being abandoned by a local Lutheran parish. Complete with choir loft and bell tower, the old church was built in the days when even some Protestants had a sense of architectural awareness regarding the necessary difference between a sterile "worship space" and a building set aside for worshipping God. We couldn't be happier that this building actually looks like a church and is more "Catholic" looking than the local Novus Ordo church building.
Only a few days after the legal papers were filed transferring ownership of the building to our community, one of our fine young parish members, a committed Catholic husband and father of eight young children, was killed in a tragic automobile accident. He had been instrumental in helping acquire the church and was in route to the church with his wife to begin helping with the renovation when the accident occurred. So, before any renovation had even begun, before any celebration took place, the first activity in the newly acquired church was a Requiem Mass within hours of his death.
Only our Good Lord understands this tragedy which engulfed the entire rural area where I live. People of all denominations, people with no religious affiliation, young and old, reached out to comfort and support the devastated family.
The thing that really got my attention however was that, due to the size of the large extended family, there were more Traditional Catholics at this funeral than I've ever seen in one place at any time since before Vatican II. Despite the deep sorrow of the event which brought us together, there was something awesome about walking into that church for the Rosary the night before the funeral only to find the building packed beyond its limit with Traditional Catholics on their knees in reverent silence before Our Lord in the Tabernacle.
Since most of my Catholic life has been spent within the Novus Ordo establishment, and I've gone to many vigil Rosaries and funerals, I can tell you that there was a distinct difference in the atmosphere pervading this Traditional Catholic event and that of any which I've attended in the modern church. The reverence, the focus and the devotion to Our Lord seemed to fill the air.
Aside from the deep sadness of such a great loss, there was a profound sense of joy due to the large number of children present. Without words, children firmly establish hope and meaning for the future; they are living testimonies to God's grace and generous blessings; they are one of the fundamental pieces of the puzzle (life) that give meaning to everything else. It is here, more than any other area where, in my opinion, the Novus Ordo church falls flat on its face.
I'll go into more detail in my next article on the why.