Thursday, February 19, 2015

Breaking glad

Everyone knows of Christmas and Easter Catholics, but for some reason many of them turn out on Ash Wednesday as well. It's not a holy day of obligation but I've noticed that even many non-Christians observe Lent; not in the religious sense but in their desire to exercise self-discipline. Giving something up for Lent is not required of us - save for abstaining from flesh meat on Fridays - but almost everyone does so anyway whether it's caffeine, chocolate, cigarettes, or other treats.

It's a period of self-examination. Ideally we should be exerting greater effort in combating our sins, flaws, and defects compared to the rest of the year. The last year has been spiritually difficult for me. I struggle with the truths that 1) God loves me, and 2) He has a plan for me. It's easy to believe those things when everything is going great. When plans don't work out, when you wonder where your next paycheck is coming from, when you don't know where to turn or whom to trust, it's more difficult. As a rational matter, I know that suffering is inevitable. Intellectually, I know that God keeps his promises on his terms and his timeline. On an emotional level, I sometimes wonder if he's forgotten me or if I somehow don't have a part to play in his plans for the world, not even as an extra in the background.

All Catholic men who take the faith seriously discern the priesthood or religious life at one time or another. I was in the seminary for two years. You can probably figure out why I'm no longer there if you don't know already. Suffice it to say, I had no patience for walking on eggshells or holding my tongue in the face of manifest silliness or outright error. I did for a short time. Well do I remember all those times Father Z has told seminarians to keep their mouths shut at all costs because the elderly Modernists on many seminary faculties are looking for an excuse to dismiss orthodox young men who yearn to roll back the errors and follies of the last fifty or so years. There came a point where I finally said to myself, "Fuck that noise." It's that kind of thinking that has led to the Church's current fugue state. That unwillingness to speak the truth, that hesitancy to declare that the emperor has no clothes has led to decades of ecumania, of a crippling lack of confidence, of grown men having to sit in silence as clip-haired, mean faced old broads in pantsuits henpeck them in umpteen committee meetings because the seminary drills you hard on whether you have a "problem with women."

I love the priesthood in its Platonic ideal, but given the modern understanding of the priesthood and the way it is lived in most parishes in the 21st century I'm not at all surprised they struggle with recruitment. Men are willing to give their lives for a mystery, but not for a question mark. It's brought me more inner peace since I decided that it's not for me. One thing the diocesan vocations director said to me before we parted ways for the last time was, "You'd have been a good priest 60 years ago." I fail to see why that should make a difference. I was under the impression that the Church is the same today, yesterday, and forever but apparently I was wrong.

I'm personally embittered about it to some extent, but I'm angrier over the general pattern. I'm far from the only man to be dismissed for being too Catholic for the seminary's taste; it's happened to much better men than me. I'm angry because the priest shortage is a 100% manufactured problem the Church inflicts on herself because the bishops are too stubborn to see that the pastoral strategies and changes of the last few decades have been manifest failures.

I stick with the Catholic faith because the Catholic faith is true. If I depended on the examples set by bishops and priests, I'd have left a long time ago. Maybe God allowed it all to happen as a way of increasing my faith in him instead of the institution.

1 comment:

  1. Saint Vincent of Lerins tells us why me and thee are being tested

    Tertullian a great Trial to the Church.

    [46.] shall not hearken to the words of that prophet. For why? Because the Lord your God does make trial of you, whether you love Him or not.

    Chapter 19.

    What we ought to learn from these Examples.

    [47.] It behooves us, then, to give heed to these instances from Church History, so many and so great, and others of the same description, and to understand distinctly, in accordance with the rule laid down in Deuteronomy, that if at any time a Doctor in the Church have erred from the faith, Divine Providence permits it in order to make trial of us, whether or not we love God with all our heart and with all our mind.

    Chapter 20.

    The Notes of a true Catholic.

    [48.] This being the case, he is the true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, who loves the Church, who loves the Body of Christ, who esteems divine religion and the Catholic Faith above every thing, above the authority, above the regard, above the genius, above the eloquence, above the philosophy, of every man whatsoever; who sets light by all of these, and continuing steadfast and established in the faith, resolves that he will believe that, and that only, which he is sure the Catholic Church has held universally and from ancient time; but that whatsoever new and unheard-of doctrine he shall find to have been furtively introduced by some one or another, besides that of all, or contrary to that of all the saints, this, he will understand, does not pertain to religion, but is permitted as a trial, being instructed especially by the words of the blessed Apostle Paul, who writes thus in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, There must needs be heresies, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you: 1 Corinthians 2:9 as though he should say, This is the reason why the authors of Heresies are not immediately rooted up by God, namely, that they who are approved may be made manifest; that is, that it may be apparent of each individual, how tenacious and faithful and steadfast he is in his love of the Catholic faith.

    The praxis of schismatics and sedevacantists is a public confession that they have failed the test and so we pray they repent and reform while they still have time.