3 November 2014

Is it War?!!?

Can it be true that Cardinal Burke has been prevented from offering the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, in the Extraordinary Form, in an Austrian church? Since, as I observed two or three weeks ago, Cardinal Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons of the Holy Roman Church, the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, have the right to celebrate anywhere, constructively to prevent one from doing so manifests, surely, a schismatic spirit of hostility towards the Sovereign Pontiff himself. If this report proves to be true, a very singular situation will have arisen.

Some while ago I think I saw something in The Tablet (I sometimes have a quick look inside it without buying it when I'm in a Catholic bookshop) about the Battle Lines being drawn up; and Fr Zed, I think, has mentioned getting ready for warfare. Things, surely, have been building up to this for decades, if not since the Enlightenment. The Battle within Society ... whether to take our guidance from Christ and His Church or from the Spirit of this Age ... from the Paradosis* or from the Zeitgeist** ... has now entered the Church as well. As B Paul VI's prophetic eye discerned, though some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God. The Enemy has breached the walls ... has established a bridgehead. Readers may be able to supply a fourth or even a fifth metaphor! The Enemy which Christians have always been obliged to oppose in the World, we have now also to engage within the Church herself. And it can't be all left to hierarchs to sort things out. Remember the Great Episcopal Apostasy of the Arian period. And, earlier, the traditor bishops of the Diocletian persecution.

What is to be done?

I think Fr Zed has shown his usual wise and sensible leadershp by calling us to renewed Sacramental life, particularly to frequent Confession. Being a bit of a Paul-junkie, I would add: read the Bible more, especially the New Testament, and remember that S Paul was dealing with a world very much like our own, with "the Spirit of this Age"; with similar vices; and a world in which Christianity was a minority religion. He knew that he was contending, as we are, "against the principalities, against the powers, against the World Rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places".

And, through the Rosary, Mary's Immaculate Heart will conquer.

From the Anglican Patrimony of the Ordinariate, we can bring you our own experience of how a cancer can spread in an ecclesial body once the Zeitgeist gets a foothold in it. As well as that experience, we bring with us our great Doctors, most especially B John Henry Newman, and Clive Stapleton Lewis, both of whom fought so resolutely against Liberalism, with every weapon of erudition and of wit. There is a remarkable narrative in Lewis's The Pilgrim's Regress of the exposure of the Zeitgeist ... and its slaying. If Screwtape is lying dusty on your bookshelves, reread it. Hideous Strength is jam-packed full of acute observations about the tactics of the Enemy. I venture to suggest to hard-line traditionalists that Lewis's canonical position of not having been in Full Communion with the See of S Peter is not the most important thing about him, and that his writings should be recognised as having enormous relevance to the problems of our day.

Indeed, perhaps it is generally important to go for broad alliances. I know there are Traditionalists who like the Vetus Ordo and Conservatives who can't see the point of it: but what we have in common may at this juncture be more important than what divides us. I believe that the good contained in some encyclicals of S John Paul II, especially Veritatis splendor, is the important thing to emphasise. Since B Paul VI is now beatified, I urge insistence upon Humanae vitae and Mysterium Fidei. Anomalies in the canonical situation of the SSPX may come to be seen as less significant than the witness which it bears. Perhaps those attached to the SSPX might show more openness to the sincerity of those who did not follow His Excellency Archbishop Lefebvre into a breach with what they call the "Conciliar Church". Do not forget some Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans who are not exactly fighting against us. Somebody has described Cardinal Pell's relationship with the Evangelical Archbishop of Sidney as an 'Ecumenism of the Right' ... not that I very much like the idea of being characterised as a Rightie.

A correspondent remarked to me that the Church is guaranteed; the Gates of Hell cannot prevail against her. That is most wonderfully true. But I would remind you of two things.
(1) It may be that, in the great workings of Providence, a crucial part is designed, destined, for you, for me, which is not meant for anybody else, to do in this period of conflict. Our assurance of the Church's indefectibility is no justification of inactivity.
(2) The Gates of Hell, indeed, cannot prevail against the Church, that great body spread out through all time and space, terrible as an army with banners, ut castrorum acies ordinata. But I do not recall that the English churches (or whatever your nationality is) have a specific guarantee of their survival. Time was when the whole of North Africa was fertile with great churches. We English recall an earlier age when Catholicism was all-but extinguished in our own land. "It took a long time to do this thoroughly; much time, much thought, much labour, much expense; but at last the work was done. Truth was disposed of, and shovelled away ..."
* Tradition  **The Spirit of the Age.


the Savage said...

Clive *Staples* Lewis! Yes, Homer nods.

John Fitzgerald said...

Good spot re That Hideous Strength - a novel of Dostoyeskyan insight and intensity - packed full of prophecy and eschatology and a cracking story to boot!

Patrick Sheridan said...

Keep the home fires burning...

William said...

Not an original idea, but are all these things signs that we are finally approaching the Great Realignment (if I may so term it)? That is to say, the point at which we finally accept that our inherited labels, our dearly-held associations and cultural links, our historically-preferred modes of thinking and acting – even, dare I say, our specific obsessions and hang-ups – do not fundamentally divide us in the same way as does the basic contrast between belief in a revealed faith and in a humanly constructed faith – between the Guarding of the Deposit and the Dictatorship of Relativism – between Paradosis and Zeitgeist? And that those "broad alliances" of which you speak may not be merely marriages of convenience but the new and natural way in which to associate?

If so, then the institution of the Ordinariates, so far from being (as often thought) a blind alley of only short-term significance, may turn out to have been quite extraordinarily prophetic.

Deacon Augustine said...

"Our assurance of the Church's indefectibility is no justification of inactivity."

So true, Fr. A turn to greater piety is meritorious, but if St. Athanasius had resorted to piety alone, we might all be Arians now. We need to recognize the demonic infiltration for what it is and resist it with all our intellect, passion and might.