Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I coulda been an apostate instead of a bad Catholic which is what I am

This sounds all too familiar:

I have a certain acquaintance from a few years back who was raised Protestant. He gradually came to see recognize the claims of the Catholic Church through independent study and was convinced that he needed to enter the Church...

...Unfortunately, the Church he studied his way into, the Church he fell in love with, in fact did not exist. He spent two years studying Latin because he thought Latin was the language of the Church - and in a technical sense it certainly is - but my friend gradually became saddened as he realized that Latin had been all but banished from Catholic liturgical usage.

The intellectual arguments he learned in defense of papal authority lost their edge as he witnessed the popes apparent embarrassment at the traditional teaching, and their subsequent consistent refusal to exercise the power that they spent centuries previously insisting upon. The boldness that characterized Gregory VII's interactions with Henry IV or Innocent III's dealing with King John had fled, or been banished, from the Vatican. The Church had insisted for centuries that it wielded a sword of spiritual power bequeathed to it by Christ - why now did it refuse to wield the sword that God gave it?

He was saddened and confused that the simple yet powerfully eloquent teachings of the saints found no parallels in modern writing or preaching, and could not understand why the beautiful structures that were the glory of Christendom were being replaced and in many cases destroyed in favor of ugly modern structures constructed on secular humanist principles. Most of all, he was distraught that the Church that had produced so many martyrs, who had suffered death in defense of the purity of the faith, was now no longer proclaiming the uniqueness of that Faith in undiluted purity, but seemed intent upon affirming non-Catholics where they were, implying to them that their own religious traditions were also salvific, and that there was really no need for formal union with the Catholic Church.

The fact that the above mention demolition of the traditions of the Church was not happening externally but was being aided and abetted by the Princes of the Church and the successors of the Apostles was especially devastating. He realized that the Church today is very weak, weak because it chooses to be. Weak because it will not clearly proclaim the message entrusted to it by Christ, weak because its people and prelates do not seek holiness, weak because the Church refuses to take up the weapons and armor our Lord left with it and instead tries to muddle through on its own.
If the personal example of Catholics was to be my only acquaintance with the Catholic religion, then I never would have converted. Not in a million years. Traditionalists are stereotyped as being dour, humorless, know-it-all, pharisaical prigs. Like all stereotypes, there is truth to it. However, the people who hurl those accusations ought to consider the plank in their own eye: many Novus Ordo attending Catholics are lukewarm at best, ignorant superstitious heathens at worst. If I may presume to speak on behalf of my fellow converts, our complaint is not so much that the Church is a hospital for sinners or that her ranks are rife with ignorance, heresy, and apostasy. Wasn't our Blessed Lord betrayed by one of his hand picked Apostles? Did he not say the tares would grow alongside the wheat until the harvest time? Weren't the first generation of Protestants all apostate Catholics?

I think the most jarring thing for all converts is the sheer indifference to it all. Many Catholics - including, I fear, many priests, bishops, and religious - are ignorant of their own faith's traditions and they prefer it that way. They recoil in horror from traditional Catholicism's emphasis on suffering, on sin, grace, redemption, sacrifice, carrying the cross, discipline, and spiritual warfare. We prefer saccharine sweet reassurances that a Christ without the cross came to lead men who were without sin into a Kingdom they could not ever lose. We prefer to dialogue with the world rather than confront it. We wish to engage in ecumenical talks with the heathen instead of converting him. Hundreds of millions of souls throughout the world, going on fifty years now, have been drowning in secularism, materialism, hedonism, and nobody cares.

The New Evangelization is a tacit admission that the Church is in shambles and something must be done. The Church is in shambles because she wants to be. The world is the way it is because we Catholics are the way we are. We are the salt of the earth that has lost its saltiness, and Christ himself said that we are good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot. And we have been. The faith is all but dead in Europe. It's dying in North America. In the global South, we are losing tens of millions of souls to the Protestants.

But even if the Church and the whole world come crashing down around us, we cannot despair. The temptation is powerful but we know how the story ends. God could have created us during any other time, but he put us here, in these times for a reason. This is why I'm committed to learning and spreading traditional Catholicism even if my parish, my diocese, or even my entire country be lost to Modernism. Didn't St. Athanasius persevere even when the world groaned to find itself Arian? The self-destruction of the Catholic Church was perpetuated by men who lost sight of its supernatural character, who came to regard her as a human institution that they could reshape and reform based on their own liberal will to power. Those of us who would see her restored to all of her former glory mustn't come to think that the restoration too is just a matter of human will power. The decline and fall of the Catholic Church in the West was the work of human hands. Her resurrection will be the work of divine providence.

Of course this doesn't mean we ought not take action within our spheres of influence and states in life. Ultimately, God judges us as individuals. How much did we love our neighbor and love our God? In times past when the Church was submerged in worldliness and corruption, God raised up saints. The modern Church is infected with Modernism, liberalism, and feminism. Who better to do battle against it than men formed with Traditionalism?

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