Monthly Archives: February 2015

What Luther Can Teach Some Prelates

It is well known that numerous prelates, even high ranking ones, are promoting the idea that the Church should permit those who, although validly sacramentally married, nevertheless have divorced and remarried another spouse, to receive the Eucharist.

They claim that this is an act of mercy. They claim that these re-married persons should be considered to be worthy of receiving the Eucharist, to be no longer “living in sin”.

Ironically, some of these same prelates, even high ranking ones such as Cardinal Marx, contend that Martin Luther has something to teach Catholics: see here and here.

Indeed, Martin Luther does have something to teach some modern Catholics, esp. those such as Cardinal Marx.

What does Luther have to teach some modern Catholics, such as Cardinal Marx? That sin is sin!

Luther contends that there are three kinds of people: First, smug hypocrites who contend that they have no sin within them, who contend that what is in fact sin is not a sin, who proclaim themselves or others internally innocent. Second, there are those who face the true demands of the law and recognize that they are sinners. Third, there are those who, though they recognize they are sinners, nonetheless come to God in faith so as to receive his mercy and commit not to sin in the future.

Now, if we deny that we have sin within us, if we call what is sin “not a sin,” then we are in the first category. We are smug hypocrites and liars.

But Cardinal Marx and others contend that to live in an adulterous union is not to live in sin. They thus fall into the first category, or rather, their theory falls into the self-justification of those in the first category.

But such persons, those in the first category, are the farthest away from Gospel Peace! Why? They are self-righteous. So, they do not reach out towards God. They think their righteousness comes from themselves, not from God: “Being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom 10:3).

Thus we have a number of ironies. First, whereas Marx contends that Luther can teach us, he ignores Luther’s very first lesson, the lesson without which all the labor of Luther is totally lost. Those who do not follow Luther on this point are guilty of making sin innocence, calling evil good, guilty of the most fundamental lie of the serpent, guilty of the fault of Adam and Eve, who took of the fruit and so called evil good.

Second, whereas Marx wants to lead people to Christ – and we can grant him this good intention – he nonetheless leads them straight away from Christ. For whoever would come to Christ rightly must recognize his own sin. Who would come to Christ proclaiming his own internal righteousness, when in fact he is a sinner, leaves the temple unjustified. He is the smug one. Since he has clung to himself, his righteousness must be his own work. And if he is faulty, his righteousness will be; hence, he leaves the temple unjustified. But on the contrary, it is he who beats his breast and begs, “Be merciful to me, O God, for I am a sinner,” – it is he who approaches Christ rightly.

Now, Marx and Luther do agree on one point. Both seem to agree that the most important thing one can obtain is freedom from punishment. Both seem to agree that the most important thing is not internal conversion to true charity towards God and neighbor.

How is this the case? Marx wants for those living in sin the fruition of the Eucharist but without the dispositions that allow the Eucharist truly to be fruitful for the individual. If spouses fight and are quite irritated with each other, they do not approach each other for the nuptial embrace. Or, if they do, they know deep down that this is deeply inappropriate. That they must first be reconciled. There would be deep dissatisfaction should they kiss but hate each other.

So, if the crucial interior conversion is not worked out, just what kind of dialogue, just what kind of relationship can the interiorly guilty, the interiorly un-converted have with God?

Similarly, Luther wants, most of all, to escape punishment and only secondly to escape interior corruption. He would, that is, rather be in heaven with a heart of hell, than in hell with a heart of heaven. He writes,

“We would perhaps have disregarded corruption [the inward evil] and been pleased with our evil unless this other evil, which is wrath [the outward evil], had refused to indulge our foolishness and had resisted it with terror and the danger of hell and death, so that we have but little peace in our wickedness. Plainly wrath is a greater evil for us than corruption, for we hate punishment more than guilt” (LW 32:224).

Again, Luther writes,

“Just as wrath is a greater evil than the corruption of sin, so grace is a greater good than that health of righteousness which we have said comes from faith. Everyone would prefer—if that were possible—to be without the health of righteousness [gift] rather than the grace of God, for peace and the remission of sins are properly attributed to the grace of God, while healing from corruption is ascribed to faith.” (LW 32:227)

But these sentiments are as far from sanctity as can be imagined. They are night, whereas sanctity is day. By contrast, there is St. John Chrysostom, who praised Paul for loving God more than loving himself:

“Paul] loved Christ not for the things of Christ, but for His sake and things that were His, and to Him alone he looked, and one thing he feared, and that was falling from his love for Him. For this thing was in itself more dreadful than hell, as to abide in it was more desirable than the kingdom” (Homily, Romans XV).

There is also the statement in the “O My God, I am heartily sorry…”: We state, “Most of all because they offend you.” So, if we love God for his own sake, we fear to offend him; we would rather not enjoy consolation, not enjoy pleasures, and yet still please him through love, still cleave to his goodness, than to enjoy pleasures and yet hate him. This is true sanctity, rightly ordered love.

Indeed, what is the status of one who has faith in Christ but does not love God more than man? It is a miserable state, as John implies:

“Nevertheless many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (Jn 12:42f).

So much for Scripture agreeing with Luther on justification by faith alone!

So, Marx is at one with Luther on the worst element in Luther’s thought, on the heresy of Luther, on the tragedy of Luther. But he is at odds with what is true in Luther, namely, that sin is sin.

Does Luther have something to teach Marx et alia? Yes, namely, that sin is sin. And, moreover, that if you don’t fight sin, if you don’t take up arms against sin, if you don’t try to escape sin, you are no true believer! These are what Marx should have taken from Luther, if he insisted on learning from him.

But Luther’s roadmap to heaven is a highway to hell. 

Therefore, in suggesting that we learn from Luther, Marx does us a great disservice. For the Council of Trent can teach us all of the above, with balance and clarity.

Excellent Letter From Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga

Rorate Caeli has posted the below letter. What a splendid letter on the situation in the Church today. We need more prelates, all over the world, to speak the truth on these matters. The lived-life of the Church is increasingly corrupt. That the world cheers this corruption is the sure sign it is not a movement of God but of the Devil Himself.
It is time to put away the hysterical denial. Yes, it is not those who speak truth as does this Bishop who are hysterical. It is those who deny it. The countless faint minded Catholics who deny the corruption are hysterical, faint of mind, weary, bleary-eyed. Those who have something to gain from being faint-minded should call to mind the love of God and the urgency to be clear sighted in order to love rightly. The Church has rotted out from the inside in her lived life.
Why do I say “lived life”? Because the Church in her essence is holy and undefiled. What is the Church in her essence? It is her infallible dogmas that are true forever; it is her sacred action that is always per se sanctifying; it is her genuine saints that are truly holy; it is her high moral teaching, unchanging and inviolable forever and the groundwork of all pastoral action and application – Thus is she holy and undefiled. But in her lived life – in this man or that woman, in this priest or that bishop, in this or that pope – that she can become greatly corrupted, terribly and appallingly corrupted.
Of course, corruption in the lived life of the Church is nothing new to our day. St. Peter Damian in his day had to call Benedict IX, Pope of Rome, who was thoroughly morally compromised: “A Demon From Hell in the Disguise of a Priest.”
But in Peter’s day, the sins of the priests and bishops were universally recognized exactly as that. They were scandalous not in the sense of leading people into confusion about what is right; they were scandalous because people, knowing such sins (murder and unnatural sex, e.g.) were gravely evil, could be tempted to leave the Church. But today, the scandal taking place is ignorance of the Gospel.
Only consider the unbelievably contorted words of His Excellence Cardinal Marx of Germany. Such nonsensical utterances as his are leading vast numbers into utter confusion, into de facto schism with the True Church of Christ. Perhaps I’ll expose the absurdity in his remarks in the future.
Meanwhile, I have garbled on long enough. Time to read a truly courageous and uplifting letter. God bless you, Archbishop Pawel Lenga!
Reflections on some current problems of the crisis of the Catholic Church
I had the experience of living with priests who were in Stalinist prisons and camps and who nevertheless remained faithful to the Church. During the time of persecution they fulfilled with love their priestly duty in preaching Catholic doctrine thereby leading a dignified life in the imitation of Christ, their heavenly Master.
I completed my priestly studies in an underground Seminary in the Soviet Union. I was ordained a priest secretly during the night by a pious bishop who himself suffered for the sake of the faith. In the first year of my priesthood I had the experience of being expelled from Tadzhikistan by the KGB.
Subsequently, during my thirty-year stay in Kazakhstan, I served 10 years as priest, caring for faithful people in 81 localities. Then I served 20 years as bishop, initially as bishop of five states in Central Asia with a total area of around four million square kilometers.
In my ministry as a bishop I had contact with Pope Saint John Paul II, with many bishops, priests and faithful in different countries and under different circumstances. I was member of some assemblies of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican which covered themes such as “Asia” and “The Eucharist”.
This experience as well as others give me the basis to express my opinion on the current crisis of the Catholic Church. These are my convictions and they are dictated by my love of the Church and by the desire for her authentic renewal in Christ. I am forced to resort to this public means of expression because I fear that any other method would be greeted by a brick wall of silence and disregard.
I am aware of possible reactions to my open letter. But at the same time the voice of my conscience will not allow me to remain silent, while the work of God is being slandered. Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church and showed us in word and deed how one should fulfill the will of God. The apostles to whom He bestowed authority in the Church, fulfilled with zeal the duty entrusted to them, suffering for the sake of the truth which had to be preached, since they “obeyed God rather than men”.

Unfortunately in our days it is increasingly evident that the Vatican through the Secretariat of State has taken the course of political correctness. Some Nuncios have become propagators of liberalism and modernism. They have acquired expertise in the principle “sub secreto Pontificio”, by which one manipulates and silences the mouths of the bishops. And that what the Nuncio tells them appears as it would be almost certainly the wish of the Pope. With such methods one separates the bishops from one another to the effect that the bishops of a country can no longer speak with one voice in the spirit of Christ and His Church in defending faith and morals. This means that, in order not to fall into disfavour with the Nuncio some bishops accept their recommendations, which are sometimes based on nothing other than on their own words. Instead of zealously spreading the faith, courageously preaching the doctrine of Christ, standing firm in the defense of truth and of morals, the meetings of the Bishops’ Conferences often deal with issues which are foreign to the nature of the duties of the successors of the apostles.
One can observe at all levels of the Church an obvious decrease of the “sacrum”. The “spirit of the world” feeds the shepherds. The sinners give the Church the instructions for how she has to serve them. In their embarrassment the Pastors are silent on the current problems and abandon the sheep while they are feeding themselves. The world is tempted by the devil and opposes the doctrine of Christ. Nevertheless the Pastors are obliged to teach the whole truth about God and men “in season and out”.
However, during the reign of the last holy Popes one could observe in the Church the greatest disorder concerning the purity of the doctrine and the sacredness of the liturgy, in which Jesus Christ is not paid the visible honour which he is due. In not a few Bishop’s Conferences the best bishops are “persona non grata”. Where are apologists of our days, who would announce to men in a clear and comprehensible manner the threat of the risk of loss of faith and salvation?
In our days the voice of the majority of the bishops rather resembles the silence of the lambs in the face of furious wolves, the faithful are left like defenseless sheep. Christ was recognized by men as one who spoke and worked, as one, who had power and this power He bestowed upon His apostles. In today’s world the bishops must liberate themselves from all worldly bonds and – after they have done penance – convert to Christ so that strengthened by the Holy Spirit they may announce Christ as the one and only Saviour. Ultimately one must give account to God for all that was done and for all what wasn’t done.
In my opinion the weak voice of many bishops is a consequence of the fact, that in the process of the appointment of new bishops the candidates are insufficiently examined with regard to their doubtless steadfastness and fearlessness in the defense of the faith, with regard to their fidelity to the centuries-old traditions of the Church and their personal piety. In the issue of the appointment of new bishops and even cardinals it is becoming increasingly apparent that sometimes preference is given to those who share a particular ideology or to some groupings which are alien to the Church and which have commissioned the appointment of a particular candidate. Furthermore it appears that sometimes consideration is given also to the favour of the mass media which usually makes a mockery of holy candidates painting a negative picture of them, whereas the candidates who in a lesser degree own the spirit of Christ are praised as open and modern. On the other side the candidates who excel in apostolic zeal, have courage in proclaiming the doctrine of Christ and show love for all that is holy and sacred, are deliberately eliminated.
A Nuncio once told me: “It’s a pity that the Pope [John Paul II] does not participate personally in the appointment of the bishops. The Pope tried to change something in the Roman Curia, however he has not succeeded. He becomes older and things resume their usual former course”.
At the beginning of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, I wrote a letter to him in which I begged him to appoint holy bishops. I reported to him the story of a German layman who in the face of the degradation of the Church in his country after the Second Vatican Council, remained faithful to Christ and gathered young people for adoration and prayer. This man had been close to death and when he learned about the election of the new Pope he said: “When Pope Benedict will use his pontificate solely for the purpose to appoint worthy, good and faithful bishops, he will have fulfilled his task”.
Unfortunately, it is obvious that, Pope Benedict XVI has often not succeeded in this issue. It is difficult to believe that Pope Benedict XVI freely renounced his ministry as successor of Peter. Pope Benedict XVI was the head of the Church, his entourage however has barely translated his teachings into life, bypassed them often in silence or has rather obstructed his initiatives for an authentic reform of the Church, of the liturgy, of the manner to administer Holy Communion. In view of a great secrecy in the Vatican for many bishops it was realistically impossible to help the Pope in his duty as head and governor of the whole Church.
It will not be superfluous to remind my brothers in the episcopacy of an affirmation made by an Italian masonic lodge from the year 1820: “Our work is a work of a hundred years. Let us leave the elder people and let us go to the youth. The seminarians will become priests with our liberal ideas. We shall not flatter ourselves with false hopes. We will not make the Pope a Freemason. However liberal bishops, who will work in the entourage of the Pope, will propose to him in the task of governing the Church such thoughts and ideas which are advantageous for us and the Pope will implement them into life”. This intention of the Freemasons is being implemented more and more openly, not only thanks to the declared enemies of the Church but with the connivance of false witnesses who occupy some high hierarchical office in the Church. It is not without reason that Blessed Paul VI said: “The spirit of Satan penetrated through a crack inside the Church”. I think that this crack has become in our days quite wide and the devil uses all forces in order to subvert the Church of Christ. To avoid this, it is necessary to return to the precise and clear proclamation of the Gospel on all levels of ecclesiastical ministry, for the Church possesses all power and grace which Christ gave to her: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and I am with you always unto the end of the world” (Mt 28, 18-20), “the truth will set you free” (John 8, 32) and “let your word be Yes, yes; No, no: for whatsoever is more than these comes of evil” (Mt 5, 37). The Church cannot adapt herself to the spirit of this world, but must transform the world to the spirit of Christ.
It is obvious that in the Vatican there is a tendency to give in more and more to the noise of the mass media. It is not infrequent that in the name of an incomprehensible quiet and calm the best sons and servants are sacrificed in order to appease the mass media. The enemies of the Church however don’t hand over their faithful servants even when their actions are evidently bad.
When we wish to remain faithful to Christ in word and deed, He Himself will find the means to transform the hearts and souls of men and the world as well will be changed at the appropriate time.
In times of the crisis of the Church God has often used for her true renewal the sacrifices, the tears and the prayers of those children and servants of the Church who in the eyes of the world and of the ecclesiastical bureaucracy were considered insignificant or were persecuted and marginalized because of their fidelity to Christ. I believe that in our difficult time this law of Christ is being realized and that the Church will renew herself thanks to the faithful inner renewal of each of us.
January 1st  2015, Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God
+ Jan Pawel Lenga

Are All Communities but the 1962 Lost? No

By my previous post, I by no means stated or meant to state that all communities but those that preserve the 1962 liturgy are lost. That would be ridiculous and presumptuous to say. I simply stated that in such communities have I heard those very somber tones, not gloomy tones but somber ones, sober ones, tones that make your heart long to sing well to our Tender God, to weep for your sins, to amend your life with real vigor and intention and not faint wishing. Such communities, so ostracized, are not out to gain anything, to curry favor. It can be tempting for many of us to wish to curry favor, for one unspoken reason or another. (And unthought reasons.)

But of course there are heroes and saints among other communities. When I walk into some such communities, I get an immediate and palpable sense of true humanity, real common sense and down-to-earth charity. Often, these are dominated by immigrants from the Third World.

On the other hand, Fr. Cipolla has on Rorate pointed out that too many people have perceived 1962 communities as sometimes smug, self-enclosed, lacking evangelical outreach, judgmental, etc.

Let these simply be perceptions, all the way around.

The lesson? How sick is man! How sick is the lived life of the Church today! We are all very sick – let us face it. Bitterness within haunts many; flippant frivolity carries many blindly through life. When one makes progress, he begins to lord it over his neighbor.

What then, Pessimism? By no means! When all seems lost, there must be some great consolation for those who genuinely believe in God. I am very pessimistic in terms of the world. I think it is going to hell in a basket. Yet, the saints give us reason to hope against all odds. For if God exists, now is surely his proving time. He may let us go on another year or so in our wayward rebellion. In our confusion. Our failure to teach the Full Catholic Faith. Our failure to love and live in charity, to dress the wounds of the poor man beaten by thieves. He may let us go on a little while. But he will come with his decision at some point. And at what greater time to prove his greatness?

If the Jews were about to be swamped by the Red Sea, if Satan’s Legions had them cornered and all was lost, if no hope in man was possible, God suddenly and decisively acted. Praise his holy name. And now, if vocations to the priesthood are plunging at suicidal proportions; if Mass attendance is abysmal; if donations to the coffers are at their wits end (too many pedophile and homo-sexual scandals to recall for the donors, etc.); if knowledge of the faith has been corrupted; if sinful rebellion among the hierarchy has set in (Paul VI’s vision of the Smoke of Satan); if Modernism has crept in on its giant lion’s feet; if confusion about simple things like what a man and a woman are has cast its hideous veil upon nature; if deceit, dissension, lies, fornications, greed, malice, ruthlessness, heartlessness have set in and are ready to tyrannize us all; if Satan has friends in all the opposing camps and thus is about to checkmate the Church of God; Then God has no choice but to save his little flock from the violent madness. Act he will, and decisively. Many of us there are who know it, who hope it, who believe it.

Take, then O Lord, our hearts of stone, if we are smug, and smite them upon the Rock of your Christ. Take, then, O Lord, our quivering fear, if we are terrified of your terrible wrath and unable to breath, and ask us to rise up and walk and show ourselves to the priests. Take then, O Lord, our fornicating hearts and chasten us with your firm but gentle hands. Lead us to your promised land. Amen.

Where Hath Catholicism Gone?

I commend to your considered attention the article at

In a nutshell, the study indicates that from 1920 to 1965, there was a linear increase in the US in numbers of seminarians and priests. And that, from 1965 to 2014, there has been an exponential decay (qualified in a not very significant way) in these numbers.

I have been giving increasing attention to issues such as this for about 5 years or more. As it seems to me, studies such as these are more and more necessary as “scientific” analyses of what seems to me evident upon reflection of experience in the Catholic Church. Why? Because people are not paying sufficient attention, using their eyes, to see the absolutely deplorable state of things Catholic in just about every measure and way. Hence, we need statistical studies to wake us up to common sense, blinded for various reasons. (Some people have a dog in the fight, and need approval from hierarchs and therefore fear to tread these waters. Others are naively pious that lived Catholicism must in every case be simply real Catholicism. Of course, this naive piety contradicts their own love of ecumenism, which (rightly, let it be sated) states that lived Catholicism can sometimes be worse than lived Orthodoxy. The liturgy is one way in which this dictum proves true. Now, if we take that ecumenical insight to bear on the living of Catholicism since 1965, we can be freed to be loyal sons of the Church who yet point out that contemporary Catholicism is very sick. Very, very sick. One who says this is not thereby disloyal in any sense of the world. The blind piety of some, however, can be indeed called fearful, timid, unable to come out of the clamshell of denial, for fear of the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

In short, the Church has been, on so many levels and in so many ways and in so many areas, in decay since 1965. Have there been “ups”? Sure. The laity have experienced this or that new emphasis on the universal call, etc. A few good women have become theologians.

On the other hand, I tend to be cautious when I hear these latest things praised and the previous experienced criticized. Often, this is useful idiots repeating what they were fed. I recall professors trying to force feed this to me in graduate school and undergraduate days. Investigation of 1900-1960 might tell a different tale. In fact, back in the day, there were many active sodalities and other organizations, doing good to the poor, instructing the ignorant, praying for the dead, etc. The laity were quite active, nor were they under the foolish clericalist illusion that they should become mini-priests, such as so-called “extraordinary ministers”, etc. For back in the day, real Catholicism did not mean only what you do within the walls. Conversely, it certainly meant that within the walls you did a mystery; rather, a mystery made you! Hence, you could not dice it up with neat analytical statements. You could never get one “bird’s eye view” of the whole? Why not? Because you were a man! Rather, a worm, and not a man.

Moreover, data such as these studied here cannot be ignored. One could also examine Pew’s data on mass attendance, catechetical formation, acceptance of moral teachings, etc.

Moreover and most importantly, perhaps there is a study on ‘life orientation’. What do I mean? I mean an answer to this question: Do I or do I not consider attaining union with God the definition of my success, such that all is failure short of this. ALL is failure. It would be instructive had we data on that. But what has in fact happened since 1965 is a creeping wordliness. We “embraced” the world in 1965 so as to order it to God and convert it. However, what could so easily happen in fact happened: We began to “enjoy” the world. Augustine’s firm doctrine, and that of Jesus (mammon or God), is that we can truly “enjoy” only God. Everything else we must approach only in order to God.

This is why in the past, many Catholics frequently refrained from many of the activities associated with the world. There was resistance to the world and its march “forward”. Not Luddite backwardness. Rather, ‘pressure’ against swiftness to change. A slowness to use the latest thing regularly. A sobriety of judgment; unwillingness to be rash. At the same time, confidence in reason and discovery. One can be confident in reason and discovery yet prudently cautious to embrace the use of the latest technology. (Witness Steve Jobs; though to his reasons regarding his children, we should add considerably more and higher reasons.)

This is why there were figures in Brideshead Revisited such as “Bridey”. A bit glum and perhaps smug; nevertheless, not simply a downer. In fact, I suspect that Bridey did not have no role in the eventual repentance of Julia and thus of that of Charles. At any rate, consider Cordelia after she has “left the girlish ways,” as Saint Paul did (When I was a child, I reasoned like a child; but when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.) She is not the colorful, fun-loving spirit of her youth. She is measured, far-sighted.

In short, all these outlooks consider death and dung (TS Eliot) as the outcome of human life. And indeed, an inductive study would back their outlook up. Death and dung. These things Catholicism-of-Late (not the essence, but the lived life, the practice) has dismissed with a wave of the hand. No, not everywhere. But in most places.

When have you heard a homily on hell; on the reality of hell; on how it is by no means impossible to land there? When have you seen black at a funeral? When have you heard the “Dies Irae”? When have you heard a funeral homily rather than a eulogy? When have you heard the priest say that we don’t know whether the soul of this corpse is in heaven? And that therefore we should pray for his rest? When have you heard the pains of purgatory even considered? They exceed those of crucifixion, and yet mum is the word! When, alas, have you heard a priest say that in case this soul is not in hell, we might pray for it? That hell is real; that you, in the pews, might go there. That it doesn’t take you being Satan to go there. That all it takes is you to have committed adultery and not to have repented to go there. That all it takes is you to have donned a condom and had intercourse to go there. That all it takes is you to miss Sunday Mass without legitimate excuse to go there, for our Lord spread his arms between heaven and hell, not for his glory but for your salvation, and by cavalierly missing his Sacred Gift of the Mass you have thrown his blood in his face!

I did hear one priest at a funeral mention purgatory and urge us to pray for my Grandfather’s eternal rest. God bless you, Fr. Mel, for a real sermon; the best lived sermon I have heard. Thank you, and may you rest in peace, Fr. Mel, OSB.

Those years before 1965 were sober years, those years of supposedly “gloomy” Catholics. Gloomy to children who want to disobey their parents; gloomy to rebels who want to suck the marrow of worldly goods, as their bodies slowly drift towards rot. Gloomy to those who are perishing, and who think only the faded lamp of the moon is the real sun of being.

For the real Catholics of yesterday loved not the things of this world but pursued holiness. We today can’t hope to measure up to many of them, yet we laugh at and mock them about “Jansenism”. We today hardly know what Jansenism is. We today find every ascetical effort to be backwards, needless, or perhaps only as fruitful as an exercise regimen.

But we do not view asceticism as our cooperating with Christ in paying the penalty for sin. We dot not view asceticism as connected with the truth that every crime deserves to be and shall be punished. We do not see asceticism as also discipline in righteousness. We do not see it also as a statement: “Dust you are, and unto dust shall you return!” Not as a judgment on the world: “You are not my everlasting shelter from the storms of being!” Not a rejection of the Prince of the Power of Darkness, who has ruled and wishes yet again to rule this world! Our asceticism is effete. Our lived Catholicism has become empty—banal.

We are all delirious from the wine not of the Spirit but of this world.

“O Lord, can you not see that the boat is sinking? We are on the point of drowning. Save us, Jesus, from the belly of the beast that seeks to sink us.” And yes, I quite catch the irony of his answer to us. He called for faith, but He did not call for denial!

But then again, I have seen some of this sobriety, this right judgment, this sound ordering of the worldly things to God as last end, the Gospel urgency to evangelize, the urgency to be converted and to convert (yes! to convert: For those in darkness must turn to the light; those pursuing evil deeds must turn and repent; those floundering around and looking, almost in vain, for the one true religion must be told in unequivocal terms: “Here is the one true religion, and all else are either false or have been superceded”), the deep consolation of a mercy that is exacting also, the thrill of a call to greatness in the eyes not of the world but of God, the humility before the face of liturgically experienced mystery. I have seen these things and tasted them.

Where? In the Traditional 1962 Liturgy and in all that accompanies the wisdom of Catholicism up till that time: Its theology, its Magisterial clarity and continuity, the metaphysical and logical rigor of its theology, its depth of real charity, its sobriety, its true love of the poor, its wisdom in ministry, its true pastoral spirit, its holiness, its mystery, its humility, its grandeur.


Chris Malloy