GUEST POST: From a priest reader of Fr Z’s blog:
I am grateful that your ministry serves as a voice for many faithful and Traditional Catholics. I have come a long way from hostility to the usus antiquor to being convinced that Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum has given believers an enclave of sound doctrine and authentic worship.
By now, I am sure you have read the Pontifical Academy for Life’s Humana communis on how we ought to respond to the Wuhan pneumonia. But it’s exactly what’s deliberately left unsaid that is so distressing.
There is not a single mention of God or of our Lord Jesus Christ.
All hopes, instead, are placed in a vaccination to eradicate the virus and new “human community” that will supposedly emerge from this pandemic.
The language of “mindfulness” caught my attention, too, as if it is offered as a substitute for prayer and recollection. No room is left for grace to do its work, and there are no summons to turn to the Lord and ask Him for healing, as if 2 Chronicles 7:14 is the elephant in the room that has been poached simply to remove the inconvenience of repentance and conversion of life.
If the United Nations had a “secretary for culture,” this document looks like it could’ve been written by them rather than the legates of Christ.
Are the dicasteries of the Holy See more interested in looking “respectable” the secular age? (Cf 1 Cor 1:18-2:16)
When I look back on the Church’s history, plagues were often met with public penitential liturgies and processions of repentance. I will never forget when I saw this image back in high school–before I became a Catholic–which suggested to me the very spiritual vigour that defined the Catholic Church.
Modernism denies the immanence of the supernatural; is it a latent or residual Modernism that causes our prelates to dismiss the possibility that God is chastising us?
The very fact that the Church is not engaging in an examination of conscience suggests to me a certain hardness of heart.
The Church’s Tradition – relayed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 675 – speaks of a general apostasy at the twilight of history; though I’m sure the idea crossed the minds of Sts Thomas More and John Fisher in Henrician England, or Cardinal von Galen during the Third Reich, it would still be worthwhile to ask ourselves again, at least in the spirit of preparation and at most in the spirit of vigilance, whether those long-dreaded days are upon us. And, if not, how will we fare when that Day does come?
I’ll come right out and say it: The Holy See has become a dumpster fire, and the boldness of the Gospel is wanting.
As a priest, I know the power of Holy Mass, of prayer, of preaching, and of the indwelling Holy Spirit which makes the bombing of Hiroshima look like a firecracker; I simply wanted to vent to my brother-priest and to give voice to the many, many lay people who, with greater frequency, look to the Patriarchate of Moscow rather than the Bishop of Rome for boldness in the witness to Jesus Christ.
What we often read in the Lives of the Desert Fathers, I say to you: “Abba, give us a word.”
Meanwhile, now’s probably a good time for me to read St Augustine’s The City of God.
Fr. Z responds:
Here’s my word: Euge!
You have put your finger on several sore spots, including one of the sorest of all: Modernism.
I very much like your image of the dumpster fire juxtaposed to the Mass as atom bomb v. firecracker of the next paragraph.
As priests we must follow in the High Priest’s path: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49)
Since my Je m’accuse post, I’ve paid greater attention to traditional preparation prayers before Mass, including…
Ure igne Sancti Spiritus renes nostros et cor nostrum Domine: ut tibi casto corpore serviámus, et mundo corde placeamus. … Enkindle, O Lord, our hearts and minds with the fire of the Holy Spirit: that we may serve you with a chaste body and please you with a clean heart.
Brother, I have another word for you.
It’s time we get religion.
You were moved by that image from the “Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry” of Pope St. Gregory in procession against the plague, when St. Michael appeared over the tomb of Hadrian, now Castel Sant’Angelo. Gregory and the plague afflicted inhabitants of Rome got Religion. They both got it and they got it, if you get my drift. They understood and they acquired it.
I mean, of course, the virtue of Religion.
We have to get really serious about the virtue of Religion.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines religion in the glossary toward the back of the newer English edition, “Religion: a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The first commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion. (Cf. also CCC 2084 and 2135)
The Angelic Doctor says that Religion is the virtue by which men exhibit due worship and reverence to God (STh, 2-2a, 81, 1) as the creator and supreme ruler of all things, and to acknowledge dependence on God by rendering Him a due and fitting worship both interiorly (e.g. by acts of devotion, reverence, thanksgiving, etc.) and exteriorly (e.g., external reverence, liturgical acts, etc.). The virtue of religion can be sinned against by idolatry, superstitions, sacrilege, blasphemy, etc.”
The virtue of Religion can be sinned against also by omission, neglect. NB: The
Dumpster Fire’s Holy See’s omission of reference to God in their document.
At the top you mentioned your growing appreciation of the traditional forms of our liturgical worship. I respond that that Summorum Pontificum was the most important thing that Benedict XVI gave to the Church in his too short pontificate. It will have the longest and most profound consequences.
Why? Because of the knock on effect created when priests learn to say the Traditional Mass. It changes the priest and how he sees himself and understands his role at the altar and in the Church. It kindles a fire that spreads from him to those who in the congregation.
Why? Because lay people begin to experience our sacred liturgical worship on a new, deeper level. There’s more “fuel” more “sustenance”. This has its own knock on effect in their sphere of life.
Why? Because WE ARE OUR RITES!
We are facing huge changes in the Church. We had to face them anyway, but COVID-1984 has accelerated the process. A demographic sink hole is going to open up under the Church in these USA and swathes of “Catholics” will disappear. Those left will be of a traditional leaning together with converts from Evangelical backgrounds and well-rooted charismatics who are enthusiastic about their Faith.
There will be some frictions, but these groups will find each other out of need. The result, I predict, will be amazing.
The Traditional Latin Mass is the key to the future. It must become widespread and frequent and beautifully executed. Only after a significant period of stability with the traditional forms will the real “mutual enrichment”, as Benedict XVI called it (or “gravitational pull” as I have called it), manifest its effects. Until then, avoiding any impatient tinkering, we must have an increase in celebrations of our traditional worship, which means more than just Holy Mass.
We need all the traditional devotions and other rites as well.
WE ARE OUR RITES.
Our rites shape us from the outside in and the inside out. They inform us and give us our identity. In order to have an impact on the world, which is our Christian duty, we have to know who we are. Hence, we need solid CULT, CODE and CREED. Worship, Catechism, and Law.
Every good initiative we have as a Church must begin in and return to sacred liturgical worship. This is clear because of the necessity of the virtue of Religion, which must order our lives, orient us.
No initiative we undertake in the Church can succeed without it being rooted in our sacred liturgical worship.
However, our collective sacred liturgical worship is presently in a state of cataclysmic disorder. Therefore, our collective observance of the virtue of Religion is not well fulfilled by the Church. I believe with all my heart and mind that we, collectively, cannot in this present state fulfill properly our obligation to God according to the virtue of Religion, that virtue which directs us to give to God what is His due. Hence, according to the hierarchy of goods which we all must embrace, we are, collectively, disordered.
Nothing we can do as a Church will succeed in this state of affairs. We have to see to our worship of God.
The use of the TLM will help us to correct our downward trajectory.
The knock-on effect that learning the TLM has on priests is remarkable. That knock-on effect spreads like fire outward, beyond the sanctuary to congregations.
We are making progress, and that progress will speed up even as the eucatastrophe striking the Church is speeding up. You will recall Tolkien’s term. There are disaster which, like the felix culpa, result in some unexpected, hardly to be predicted good that result, some unexpected blessing.
So much more has to be done. An alarmed Enemy is fighting back and fighting hard.
The revitalization for the Church through a restoration of our Catholic identity will require nearly heroic courage from priests.
Priests will need to work hard to acquire tools that they were systematically cheated out of in their formation. They will be intimidated. They will fear that they can’t do it.
They can do it, but it will take hard work and support from others.
Graces will be given in this undertaking, because the connection of the priest and the altar is fundamental to the Church’s life.
No other thing that the priest does is more important.
Priests must also be willing to suffer attacks from libs, many of whom are not malicious but who are blinkered and nearly brainwashed.
Next, it is going to require nearly heroic courage and spirit of sacrifice from lay people who must support their priests and encourage them in projects that they will be reluctant to undertake. Lay people must also be ready to engage in their parishes on a new level.
Remember, friends, that we are our rites. As the Church prays, so do we believe and live.
Everything that we are and do as a Church flows from and returns to sacred liturgical worship.
We are our rites.