The other night I watched, once again, the 1973 film, The Catholics, with Martin Sheen and Trevor Howard. The title was later changed to Conflict.
If you want to understand where we’re going, watch the movie.
Brief synopsis: The Latin Mass has almost disappeared after Vatican IV. A group of Irish monks, however, continue to pray the Latin Mass and, to accommodate the crowds, they say it on a mountain that was once the scene of Masses during Cromwell’s persecution. After a news broadcast about the Mass, pilgrims head to Ireland from all over the world to attend the Latin Mass which puts the monks on modern Rome’s radar screen.
A young priest (Sheen) comes from Rome charged with bringing the recalcitrant monks into the post Vatican IV fold.
Good grief, you rigid troglodytes, get with the program! Believing in the Real Presence is optional these days, you know, just a symbol. And individual confessions are definitely out! Besides, the superior of the order is meeting at an important ecumenical conference with the Buddhists. You’re rocking the boat and endangering the Church of anything goes, any belief works, and who needs God when we’re so enlightened? So just bend your knees in obedience and pray the new Mass!
The film is powerful and prophetic. (Spoiler alert!) The abbot (who has lost his faith) agrees to suppress the Mass and faces a monastery in rebellion. At the end, after Sheen leaves to head back to Rome, the monks are angry and confront the abbot. In the final scene, they go into the church with the abbot, who has assured the young modernist priest that his monks will obey him. As we hear the monks praying the Our Father, we are left wondering what happens next.
Like in Arlington!
That’s us, folks! But will our priests resist?
Many, perhaps most, of our bishops seem to have lost the faith like the sad abbot. The question is — what will the faith-filled priests in the Abbey do? How will they respond? Will the last Mass of the Ages on the earth be finally suppressed. Will the abbot really be able to control them through their vow of obedience?
That’s the question! The steamroller of suppression is gathering steam. What will happen next?
Under the guise of a false obedience many bishops (Cardinal Cupich for sure) seem eager to lead the flock over the cliff like the herd of pigs in the Gerasene story described in Matthew chapter 8. Jeremiah has a word for them! “’Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the LORD.”
So many of the priests of Arlington have been a gift to the faithful and have stood up to serious challenges. It was the priests who instigated opposition to the so-called Safe Touch sex ed program when Bishop Paul Loverde tried to impose it. They succeeded with the support of the laity.
The question now is whether our priests will organize and just say no to what is happening.
Obedience is a limited virtue. Yes, we owe obedience to lawful authority, but that authority is limited. Parents cannot order an adult child to marry their choice. A boss can’t demand his secretary clean his house. No one can order someone to sin. The pope is not a dictator with unlimited authority although the pope of Pachamama and circle spirits seems to think he is. Every word from the mouth of a pope is not infallible. Popes can sin! And they can sin against the flock.
It’s time for faithful priests who love God to walk in the footsteps of those holy martyrs of England who risked everything to bring the Mass to the Catholic people in time of persecution. And we laity need to be ready to support them. How many went to death for the crime of allowing Mass to be said in their homes. How many priests died for offering it?
Fr. Hardon used to say, “Raise your children to be martyrs.” The persecution is here. That it’s coming from our shepherds is tragic, but we are nonetheless called to respond with courage. The Latin Mass was being prayed in 21 locations in Arlington prior to Bishop Burbidge’s action on Friday. There are at least 21 priests in that group. Will the bishop really throw a significant percentage of his priests under the bus for resisting an evil and unjust order that oversteps the authority of the pope?
Perhaps he will. I hope we are blessed to have an opportunity to find out.
Please, dear priests of Arlington, resist this evil and continue to give us the Mass!