So Wrong For So Long!|
Section Three of Four Parts
"If anyone asserts that our Holy Father, who has recently decried the abandonment of holiness and doctrinal purity in the recruitment of men for the holy priesthood, did not know about these things until recently, he is very much mistaken. Goodbye! Good Men! might be news to many Catholics. However, it is not news to anyone in the Vatican. These facts have been known for a long time. Nothing has been done about them, and the very bishops who have been documented to preside over the screening out of sane, qualified men for the priesthood have in many instances been promoted to receiving a cardinal's red hat."
Thus, supposedly "scientific" discoveries (the ideology of evolutionism, discussed at length in Christ or Chaos exactly one year ago) must alter the way we view the Faith. If the world is evolving, then God must be evolving, His truths must be evolving, His liturgy must be evolving (process philosophy and process theology, both of which are species of Hegelian dialectics). Everything is open for discussion and debate according to the "insights"of scientists and sociologists and political scientists and anthropologists and psychologists. This leads, ultimately, to the belief that one is self-redemptive (the essence of Protestantism and Masonry), which is the subject of the next part of the apostolical letter to be quoted and analyzed.
TB: "We come now in due course to what are adduced as consequences from the opinions We have touched upon; in which if the intention seem not wrong, as We believe, the things themselves assuredly will not appear by any means free from suspicion. For, in the first place, all external guidance is rejected as superfluous, nay even as somewhat of a disadvantage, for those who desire to devote themselves to the acquisition of Christian perfection; for the Holy Ghost, they say, pours greater and richer gifts into the hearts of the faithful now than in times past; and by a certain hidden instinct teaches and moves them with no one as an intermediary."
Comment: The American spirit of unbridled individualism was bound to undermine a Catholic's belief in the sacraments as the principal means by which he receives supernatural helps to resist sin and to grow in holiness. The Pentecostal movement, which was taking many Protestants by storm at the time Pope Leo wrote Testem Benevolentiae (and would be christened the "Charismatic Movement" in the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council), contended that individuals did not need any intermediaries with God. Yes, this is one of the cornerstones of Lutheranism and Calvinism, to be sure. Pentecostalism, however, rejects all semblance of external authority in matters of the interior life as an impediment to the working of the Holy Ghost, Who they believe acts immediately and personally upon individuals to enlighten and to strengthen them without the sacramental action of the Church Christ founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. This leads individuals into thinking that they are "empowered" by God directly, and that it is possible to know infallibly God's will for them, as well as to believe that God wills for them to do things that are contrary to what is taught in His name by His true Church, which of her nature is hierarchical and authoritative. No, individuals are authoritative, not any "artificial" construct made up of mere men. How can such mere men who wear "fancy costumes" know more than any one of us?
This spirit infects the American hierarchy in any number of nefarious ways. The Protestant and Pentecostal rejection of a visible, hierarchical society instituted directly by the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made man leads many in the American hierarchy to give half-hearted (and frequently, feigned) lip-service to the Successor of Saint Peter. In actual point of fact, though, most bishops consider themselves to be free agents who are beyond any correction or removal. They are accountable to no one, especially to Rome, whose "interference" in "American" matters is as resented today as it was by Archbishop Carroll and Bishop Spaulding. As the lay director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) told me in an interview that ran in The Wanderer in 1993, American theologians, he noted approvingly, and liturgists believe that the "spirit" was leading them to "move" the liturgy into the twenty-first century. There are all types of spirits; not all of them are holy. Some of them are quite demonic. And anyone who asserts that the "spirit" is leading them to define the Faith differently than that which Christ Himself taught is being led by a "spirit" of darkness and evil, not the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost.
TB: "It is indeed not a little rash to wish to determine the degree in which God communicates with men; for that depends solely on His will; and He Himself is the absolutely free giver of His own gifts. The Spirit breatheth where He will. But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the giving of Christ. For who, when going over the history of the apostles, the faith of the rising Church, the struggles and slaughter of the valiant martyrs, and finally most of the ages past so abundantly rich in holy men, will presume to compare the past with the present times and to assert that they received a lesser outpouring of the Holy Ghost?"
Comment: Once again, the arrogance of modern man, who believes that he is somehow more enlightened and better equipped to achieve "progress" (as the world defines it) than men in the past. This is why the glory of the Middle Ages must be dismissed by Protestant and secular history textbooks as "The Dark Ages." This is why even the obligatory memorials, as they are called now, on the new liturgical calendar are frequently ignored by priests; how can the modern man of science and "advanced" Biblical exegesis believe that people who did not live in the framework of democracy and consensus and pluralism have anything positive to offer us in our own dynamic era? And it is this contempt for the past which ultimately infected the Vatican itself, leading Annibale Bugnini and his revolutionaries to purge the calendar of many saints and martyrs, about whom, it is alleged, very little is known for sure. Never mind the nasty little fact that most of the liturgical presuppositions that served as the basis of Sacrosanctum Concilium (and of the Consilium headed by Bugnini) have been disproved as the sort of antiquarianism warned about by Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei? No, the modern era is what should be exalted. This is true of all revolutions. And while the Americanist revolution was more subtle and therefore less obvious, its contempt for the past did indeed infect Catholics in this country, most of whom know next to nothing about the true history of the Church or of the lives of the saints, expunged as most of them have been from our calendar. It is here that we see the intersection of the currents which produced both Americanism and European ideologies, the veritable witches' brew that would serve as the theological and philosophical backdrop for the Second Vatican Council. (See, for example, The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber.)
Moreover, American Catholics have been convinced by their mistaken belief in the superiority of the United States as a nation that we are so special that the obligations imposed upon Catholics in the baptismal font to preach the truths of the true Faith in all circumstances do not apply to us. We are to get along with others without concern for our apostolic and evangelical duties as people incorporated into Our Lord's Mystical Body, the Church, in the baptismal font.
Ironically, many Protestants understood the responsibilities a Catholic undertakes as a result of Baptism better than most Catholics in this country. Many Protestants and other nativists (read: Freemasons) feared that the Pope would govern the United States if Catholics were able to acquire unchecked political power. They knew the social teaching of the Church better than Catholics and thus feared what would happen if Catholics took their duties seriously to convert the nation, which is why many Protestants and Freemasons incited such violence and hatred against Catholic immigrants to these shores in the nineteenth century. Led by their bishops, however, Catholics learned early on how to become good Americans, that is, to fit in and make money without making waves. Thus, why should Catholics "make waves" today about contraception and abortion. To do so might "cost" them something, and we can't possibly risk the blandishments of this passing world for something so ethereal as pleasing Christ the King and Mary our Queen, right?
TB: "But, aside from that, no one doubts that the Holy Ghost, by His secret incoming into the souls of the just, influences and arouses them by admonition and impulse. If it were otherwise, any external help and guidance would be useless. 'If any one positively affirms that he can consent to the saving preaching of the Gospel without the illumination of the Holy Ghost, who imparts sweetness to all to consent to and accept the truth, he is misled by a heretical spirit.' But as we know by experience these promptings and impulses of the Holy Ghost for the most part are not discerned without the help, and, as it were, without the preparation of an external guidance. In this matter Augustine says: 'It is he who in good trees cooperates in their fruiting, who both waters and cultivates them by any servant whatever from without, and who by himself gives increase within.' That is to say, the whole matter is according to the common law by which God in His infinite providence has decreed that men for the most part should be saved by men; hence He has appointment that those whom He calls to a loftier degree of holiness should be led thereto by men, 'in order that,' as Chrysostom says, 'we should be taught by God through men.' We have an illustrious example of this put before us in the very beginning of the Church, for although Saul, who was breathing threatenings and slaughter, heard the voice of Christ Himself, and asked from Him, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? he was nevertheless sent to Ananias at Damscus: Arise and go into the city, and there it shall be told to thee what thou must do.' It must also be kept in mind that those who follow what is more perfect are by the very fact entering upon a way of life which for most men is untried and more exposed to error, and therefore they, more than others, stand in need of a teacher and a guide. This manner of acting has invariably obtained in the Church. All, without exception, who in the course of ages have been remarkable for science and holiness have taught this doctrine. Those who reject it, assuredly do so rashly and at their own peril."
Comment: Yes, we are enlightened by the actual grace given us by the Holy Ghost, which actual grace is one of the fruits of the Holy Mass. All actual grace flows out into the world as a result of Masses. However, it is difficult to discern the will of God. We are fallen creatures with a darkened intellect and weakened will. Only a relative handful of genuine mystics have been spoken to by God directly (and have submitted their experiences to the Church for examination and ratification). We need a spiritual director to help us to discern the will of God and to help chart our path as we attempt to grow (despite our falls) in the interior life. We need, in other words, an external guide to help us to discern the will of God in most instances. This is especially true for those in the priesthood and the consecrated religious life. For once a priest or a consecrated religious come to believe that he is directed by God Himself without any external direction, then arrogance and pride take over his life. He will be driven by this spiritual fad and that spiritual fad. He may even be led to abandonment a life of Christian prayer, take up yoga or some other form of alleged Eastern mysticisim, participate in feminist para-liturgies (as Rockville Centre Auxiliary Bishop Emil Wcela, who believes in women's ordination to the priesthood, has been known to do from time to time), or to take up the practice of a perverted life in violation of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments. If Christian asceticism and a true life of detachment from the things, places and people of this world are not the foundation of a priest's or a religious's interior life, then his "god" will become the lusts of the flesh and the show of this passing world.
Yes, it has been the abandonment of holiness as the prerequisite for study for and ordination to the priesthood that is at the real core of the crisis facing the Church in the United States at present. A psychological evaluation of a candidate for priestly study in the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1979 concluded that while the candidate was "intelligent, creative, and had the capacity for rich interpersonal relationships, he did not possess the sufficient degree of flexibility needed for a postconciliar vocation." The evaluation, conducted by a Jewish psychologist, Dr. Leonard Krinsky, who was under contract to the Diocese of Rockville Centre, also stated that the candidate's desire to be a priest to celebrate Holy Mass and hear confession was considered to be "self-centered and preconciliar." The candidate's desire to live a priestly life of personal penance and mortification was termed "a possible source of masochism." Krinsky was merely given a set of parameters as to what a "postconciliar" vocation to the Catholic priesthood involved: openness to change, the ability to respond to the needs and demands of parishioners, and a willingness to expand one's theological horizons in accord with the dictates of contemporary theologians and liturgists and alleged pastoral experts.
The candidate was advised by a one time professor of his from St. John's University in Jamaica, Queens, to write to Wladyslaw Cardinal Rubin, then the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Rites, who responded by saying that he had forwarded a copy of the candidate's letter to his friend from Poland, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. The matter was revisited in a letter summarizing the state of the Diocese of Rockville Centre under its second bishop, the now deceased John Raymond McGann, to Silvio Cardinal Oddi, then the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy. Cardinal Oddi assured the candidate during a personal audience in Rome in 1984 that he knew all about the problems orthodox men had in pursuing their vocations in the United States. And Cardinal Oddi met with the Pope regularly in those days. If anyone asserts that our Holy Father, who has recently decried the abandonment of holiness and doctrinal purity in the recruitment of men for the holy priesthood, did not know about these things until recently, he is very much mistaken. Goodbye! Good Men! might be news to many Catholics. However, it is not news to anyone in the Vatican. These facts have been known for a long time. Nothing has been done about them, and the very bishops who have been documented to preside over the screening out of sane, qualified men for the priesthood have in many instances been promoted to receiving a cardinal's red hat.
Persistence in moral turpitude by a priest is, in large measure, therefore, the result of the rejection of holiness and of authentic spiritual direction. Pope Leo XIII thus prophetically predicted the demise of the priesthood in the United States as a result of the stress on American individualism and the rejection of external guides to conduct one's life, especially as it pertains to the priesthood and consecrated religious life.
TB: "For one who examines the matter thoroughly, it is hard to see, if we do away with all external guidance as these innovators propose, what purpose the more abundant influence of the Holy Ghost, which they make so much of, is to serve. In point of fact, it is especially in the cultivation of virtue that the assistance of the Holy Spirit is indispensable; but those who affect these novelties extol beyond measure the natural virtues as more in accordance with the ways and requirements of the present day, and consider it an advantage to be richly endowed with them, because they make a man more ready and more strenuous in action."
Comment: It is part and parcel of the Americanist spirit to believe that an American can do anything he puts his mind to doing. There is no limit to an American's ability to achieve, to will success, if you will. He does this by being a man of natural virtue and natural goodness and natural courage. He does not need sanctifying grace. He is able to chart his course on his own. Frank Sinatra's "My Way" is quite apposite here. The rugged spirit of both agrarian and frontier individualism is what built the country and conquered the West. This has infected the souls of many bishops in the recruitment of men to the priesthood. Natural virtues are preferred to the supernatural, which are sometimes held in contempt.
Most of the American bishops reject as primitive the concept of a Catholic world. They are contemptuous of the glory not only of the Middle Ages but of Catholic America. For, yes, there was a time when we had a Catholic America. The Spanish, French, and Portuguese missionaries who accompanied the adventurers and explorers and conquerors to the New World of the Americas saw in the native peoples of this hemisphere souls who were loved by Love Incarnate. These missionaries planted the seeds that resulted in the establishment of a Catholic America, vestiges of which still exist in many parts of Latin America to this very day. The missionaries to the New World did in this hemisphere what the first Catholic missionaries had done with the barbaric tribes of Europe during the First Millennium: preserve what was naturally good in those tribes and eradicate everything which was opposed to the Cross of Christ. And just as a Christocentric Europe arose as a result of the efforts of the first Catholic missionaries, a Christocentric America arose in the latter half of the Second Millennium.
Blessed Junipero Serra, for example, walked with a bad leg all the way up the Pacific Coast from Baja California (which is now part of Mexico) to the Monterey Peninsula of contemporary California. He walked to establish missions in which the native peoples could be converted to the true faith and fed with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Divine Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He traversed a difficult and frequently mountainous terrain (replete with poisonous snakes and savage wild beasts) to give away the riches with Christ the King had given to him by virtue of his priestly ordination. He had the courage of an apostle, never once thinking about the hardships and difficulties that he had to endure to be faithful to his missionary work. He wanted to plant the seeds that might result in a California where Christ was King and our Lady was Queen. He did on the Pacific Coast what the North American martyrs had done near the Atlantic Coast, and what countless others had been (and were doing) in Central and South America. He had a love for souls. He wanted to see the standard of the Holy Cross as the basis of personal and social life.
Contrast the motivating reasons for the courage of Blessed Junipero Serra with the reasons that motivated the courage of those who crossed the Rocky Mountains in search of gold in the same state where had established his missions. It is certainly the case that the hearty pioneers who crossed the Rockies were possessed of tremendous courage. They had to brave cold winters and hot summers. But they were motivated to display such courage in order to take riches out of the earth, not to give anything of themselves, no less the true faith, to others. As quintessentially materialistic Americans, the courageous folks who traversed the Rockies and crossed the desert in search of gold wanted to be rich as this world counts wealth. They were not seeking to be rich in Christ.
Similarly, priests are trained in most instances today to be rich in the natural virtues of "goodness" and "niceness" (whatever that is) in order to "relate well" to their parishioners and to understand their needs, as well as to work "collaboratively" with the "pastoral leadership team" in a parish. They are not trained to be men of Eucharistic piety. They are not required, as I wrote a few months ago, to be consecrated to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart as a condition of their ordination. No, even men who demonstrate a proclivity to perversity can be ordained if they are considered to be "pastorally suitable." However, this fits perfectly the American belief that holiness is unimportant; it is "strength of character" derived from one's "inner self" that matters. We see this only too clearly in the priesthood today. Americans like "action," not contemplation, as Pope Leo noted in a later section of Testem Benevolentiae.
TB: "It is hard to understand how those who are imbued with Christian principles can place the natural ahead of the supernatural virtues, and attribute to them greater power and fecundity. Is nature, then, with grace added to it, weaker than when left to its own strength? and have the eminently holy men whom the Church reveres and pays homage to, shown themselves weak and incompetent in the natural order, because they have excelled in Christian virtue?"
Comment: No man can be ordained to the priesthood who has not excelled in the traditional practices of Christian virtue, who has not developed a deep and sustained life of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament on a daily basis and who is not totally devoted to the Mother of God. Our Lord wants men of holiness to shepherd the flocks entrusted to their pastoral care to scale the heights of holiness in their own daily lives as they give all to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart to be used as she sees fit for the honor and glory of the Blessed Trinity, the salvation of souls, and the building up of the Mystical Body of Christ. However, the American contempt for the supernatural-and the American cultural stress on avoiding anything that might make someone "feel" bad (St. Padre Pio would not have been accepted for priestly study by today's standards, would he?)-has led to a situation where the supernatural is either denigrated outright or defined in a New Age manner by naturalistic standards. "By their fruits you will know them." Indeed. No more needs to be added at this juncture.
TB: "Even if we admire the sometimes splendid acts of the natural virtues, how rare is the man who really possesses the habit of these natural virtues? Who is there who is not disturbed by passions, sometimes of a violent nature, for the persevering conquest of which, just as for the observance of the whole natural law, man must needs have some divine help? If we scrutinize more closely the particular acts We have above referred to, we shall discover that oftentimes they have more the appearance than the reality of virtue. But let us grant that these are real. If we do not wish to run in vain, if we do not wish to lose sight of the eternal blessedness to which God in His goodness has destined us, of what use are the natural virtues unless the gift and strength of divine grace be added? Aptly does St. Augustine say: 'Great power, and a rapid pace, but out of the course.' For as the nature of man, because of our common misfortune, fell into vice and dishonor, yet by the assistance of grace is lifted up and borne onward with new honor and strength; so also the virtues which are exercised not by the unaided powers of nature, but by the help of the same grace, are made productive of a supernatural beatitude and become solid and enduring."
Comment: In other words, it is impossible in the normal course of events (although not, strictly speaking, absolutely impossible) for a person to live a virtuous life without having belief in, recourse to, and cooperation with sanctifying grace. We are here not to be "good" people; we are here to be holy. Our supernatural destiny requires us to be earnest at all times about the pursuit of our Last End in light of our First Cause. Besides, as Pope Leo XIII pointed out, many of those the world admires as naturally virtuous possess the appearance, not the reality, of virtue. It is important for men aspiring to the priesthood to be inspired by the examples of holiness in the priesthood of those who have preceded them. St. John Marie Vianney. St. Padre Pio. St. Maximilian Kolbe. St. John Fisher. Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro. Blessed Junipero Serrra. Sts. Isaac Jogues and companions, and that is to name just a few. Are these saints held up as models for our priest to follow? Or sadly, are they taught to conform themselves to pastoral models designed by those at war with the living tradition of the Church? It is not just any virtue we are called to pursue. We are called to be canonizable saints. We are not to be content with the pursuit of William Bennett's natural virtues he outlines in The Book of Virtues. We must be never ceasing in our pursuit of the heights of personal sanctity, which is only made possible by cooperating with the graces won for us by Our Lord on the wood of the Holy Cross. These graces are the pre-requisite of personal holiness and hence of all social order.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives
MID-SUMMER HIATUS ISSUE
July 15 - September 1, 2002
volume 13, no. 104
CHRIST or chaos