Thursday, March 13, 2014

Well done, thou good and faithful servant

RIP to Mario Palmaro, one of the great Traditionalist writers of our time. The Eponymous Flower provides a translation for his last article:
A field hospital, where one of the sick, injured and dying says they are fine just as they are. There's no talk of returning to the original state of health, and especially of those medicines that do not suit the palate, certainly not. If you want to Pope Francis such an effusive metaphor that has been received by media, chattering classes and retained in the collective Catholic memory, one can  not otherwise define   the meaning of the speech with which Cardinal Walter Kasper opened the consistory on the family. There can be no doubt, when he says, "but we must be honest and admit that a chasm has opened up between the Church's teaching on marriage and the family and the convictions of many Christians."  There is no doubt, because  all of his  considerations do not focus on, retrieving and returning the fugitive and lost sheep from the herd, and not on the reasons why they have been lost in the first place, but on the need to adapt to the new situation. The shepherd is not only to acquire the scent of his sheep, but especially those sheep who have gone.
Part of what makes the current crisis in the Catholic Church so maddening is that so few are willing to admit that there is a crisis at all. When Catholics say that the emperor has no clothes, it is they who are told to pipe down, that there's nothing to see here, that we're in a new Springtime. The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem in the first place. If Catholics are abandoning the Church's moral teachings en masse, the instinct of the Modernist is that the Church's teaching must change.
The speech of Cardinal Kasper is made of the stuff, which is only suitable for being raised as a white flag in the besieged citadel of God. To say that one must resort to the modern categories of thought and morals, is, to embezzle the necessary mediation of ideas and a language that are the true "natural" way.
The truth is not only dogmatic and supernatural, as the truth of the dogma is not only the  fixed point, the aim is to preserve the Catholic thinking. There is a "natural"  truth of the language and the concepts that is absolutely indispensable for exclusively religious purposes. Therefore, the classical ideas of nature and person can not be interchanged for the modern with impunity. 
You can not explain to  the Hegelians the truth of the dogma with  Hegelian terms, the Cartesians with those of Descartes, the Kantians with those of Kant, the Marxists, by using the Marxist concepts and so on, because modern philosophy is essentially anti-natural and the grace's impact on nature, not the anti-nature. 
"If you use their words, you will end up thinking their thoughts." The Catholic Church is not a garbage recycling plant where you can dump any old philosophy into the grinder and presto, out pops a perfectly orthodox new marketing campaign to sell the faith to "modern man."
The real knot,  with which Catholic Theology is gagged and choked  is  the abolition of sin and the separation of faith and sacraments.  The Sacraments are the support and resources to keep the creature from sinning. This is the basic, but forgotten and neglected topic:  sin. That is the scandal, the shame, without which man can not be understood. It's already in order: the Paschal Mystery, the Resurrection, the triumph of the rolled away stone. But there is no guarantee that our souls will be saved from inevitable death. Sin brings the mystery of eternal damnation with it.
At this point, together with the Incarnation the sacrament enters in the story, the mystery that is also essential for the salvation of man from his condition as a sinner. A Church without sacraments is simply unthinkable, it's a no man's land, or if it goes well, a field hospital, where everyone saves himself. The discussion around the approval of the remarried divorced couples to Communion is grueling and in some ways even absurd. The real question is much simpler: How is man to save himself?   How is he to save himself, if one preaches or gives to understand that hell does not exist or if it exists, is empty?
Christ has not crucified in order to save the people before the war, poverty, envy, the marriage gone awry or sadness. He did it to save them from eternal damnation. And the sacraments are the means of grace to get out of this terrible disease. The old Catechism of Saint Pius X said: "The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Jesus Christ to sanctify us." And further, that "they are efficacious signs of grace, because they  have the tangible parts of this invisible grace,  signify or show that they give, and they are effective characters because they really give the grace that they signify." 
 The Good News of the Gospel doesn't make any sense apart from the bad news of Original Sin and the possibility of eternal damnation. If hell does not exist, or if it is empty, then what do I need God for? Why did Christ have to die? The Catholic faith is reduced to a shallow humanistic set of rules for do-gooders. Our sense of sin has died because so few of our shepherds speak of it anymore. I used to joke that if I ever became a priest, the homily I'd give every Lent would be, "We're all a bunch of lazy, ignorant, undisciplined pagans, and we're probably all going to hell unless we repent, confess, and do penance right now." If any priests read my blog, feel free to use that. Your people will thank you.

The crisis in the Church is maddening because it's ultimately an identity crisis. What is the Church for? Why did Christ found her? What do we need her for? I doubt that there are 100 bishops, fifty priests, or a dozen laypeople in the world who would all be in complete agreement about the answers to those questions.

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