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Despair Is Not an Option

The Remnant on Pilgrimage to Chartres, France

Michael J. Matt POSTED: 5/22/12
Editor, The Remnant  

Editor's Note: The Remnant Online will not be updated as frequently as we would like over the next two weeks but, where Wi-Fi is available, we will be posting updates from France, including, God willing, video and commentary on the 2012 Notre-Dame de Chretiente Pilgrimage to Chartres. MJM

( A few days from now much of The Remnant’s team here in the States will board an airplane bound for France. On Pentecost weekend, God willing, we will be walking for the twenty-first time with traditional Catholics from all over the world on the grand Pentecost Pilgrimage of Notre-Dame de Chrétienté to Chartres, France.

I ask readers to please keep John Rao, Chris Ferrara, Fathers VanderPutten and Rodriguez and 50 fellow Americans in their prayers as we once again attempt the 3-day pilgrimage across France. The now 21-year-old U.S. Chapter of Our Lady of Guadalupe will remember all the readers of The Remnant in their prayers.

The generous readers of this newspaper who sponsored 15 young American pilgrims this year will be remembered each and every day on the Pilgrimage.  Spiritually, we will be united on the Road to Chartres. Pray for us, as we surely will be praying for you.   We also ask for your patience when it comes to us filling your much-appreciated book and subscription orders, as our staff will be reduced over the next two weeks.

The Chartres Pilgrimage is all about young Catholics.  Very few things matter more to the future of our sad world than putting all of our energies and recourses toward encouraging young Catholics to keep the Faith against seemingly impossible odds.  What differences do our efforts make if in the end we fail to keep the next generation in the trenches, fighting for the preservation of everything that matters. And there’s so much reason for hope!  Examples of God’s grace working in young Catholics are everywhere—young people who, by any reasonable human standard, should have lost not only the Faith  by now but also any sense of morality, given the onslaught of filth and apostasy against which they must battle on a daily basis.

To that end, I would like to share a hopeful letter recently received from yet another young person who for reasons known to God alone has somehow found light where there appeared to be only darkness—not unlike the late, great Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn who found God in the hell that was the Soviet Gulag.

The lesson for us? Never count God’s grace out, and don’t give up on many, many young Catholics today who quite obviously are called to a very special mission in His name in the months and years to come. MJM

How Tradition Helped Saved My Soul

By Stephen Waldron

Manassas, VA

After reading the Editor’s Note in the April 30, 2012 edition of The Remnant concerning the new youth columnist, Miss Kate Larson, and her ability to provide a unique perspective on life as a young traditionalist in the modern world, I was prompted to write a few words of my own and to provide witness to you and, if you choose, your readers to the profound effects traditional Catholicism has had on my life.

I come from a mixed-marriage family.  My Catholic father had once entertained the vocation to the priesthood; but that was in the mid-70s—hardly a highpoint in Catholic history.

My own religious education in the Faith consisted of the weekly Sunday CCD classes at my local parish.  While it provided a “foundational base” for my faith, I can honestly say that I don’t remember much from the instructions.  I do remember practicing for my first Holy Communion by using broken pieces of bubble gum to represent the Eucharist.  I also remember referring to myself as a Catholic when my friends asked if I was a Christian. Even in my youth I acknowledged my birthright, though obviously in a naïve, childish way.  I followed in the footsteps of my older brother, Peter, in choosing my patron saint for Confirmation (all of my brothers share the names of some of the first martyrs of the Faith: Peter, Stephen, and John).  It has only been this past year, however, in which I have begun to appreciate the example St. Stephen made by holding fast to the Faith in the light of persecution, and even forgiving his killers.

My education was in public school.  I enrolled at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – commonly known as Virginia Tech – to get my bachelor degree in history.  But, like too many young adults heading off to college without a strong foundation in the Faith, I was led towards apathy, and, if I may be frank, apostasy.  I did not go to Mass at all my freshman and sophomore years.   During spring break freshman year, on the way to go skiing, I was in an automobile accident which should have killed me. 

As I lay on the stretcher in the ambulance listening to the paramedics talking amongst themselves about how lucky I was to be alive, I broke down in tears and thanked God for sparing me. 

I then promptly repaid Him by falling back into sin and neglecting my Faith.  But from that moment on, I believed in God.  It was a start.  I began attending Mass on campus on Sundays in my junior year.  I learned to pray the Rosary for the first time, even enrolled in the Brown Scapular.  I started going to the more conservative parish church in town for Mass.  My attendance was still sporadic but I had begun to read more about the Faith.  In the spring semester of my junior year, I took a class on the Crusades. Even though I was passionate about history, I discovered that I really knew nothing of the rich history of the Church. Tragedy struck my school that semester.  The events of that day are well known; a crazed gunman took the lives of many students, including one of my classmates. I was home when I heard the news (classes were cancelled for a week), and the first thing I did was go to the  parish office of my hometown  in search of a priest.  He listened to me as I poured out my heart, and explained why tragedies happen.  Even at that terrible moment, God was trying to lead me back into the fold.

I remember a summer job I had throughout high school and most of my college years. It was at a private swim and tennis club.  Most members were Catholic.  In my ignorance I  used to refer to the pious ones  as those “crazy Catholics.”  Like Saul holding the coats of the murderers of St. Stephen, I had joined with the ones who were attacking those who held to Tradition.  May God forgive me.

My senior year consisted of only one semester, as I was able to graduate early.  It was during this time that I met my future fiancé (our wedding is in September of this year) through mutual friends.  While she had lived in the same school district, I never knew her because she was homeschooled.  We struck up a relationship, talking for hours over the phone, as she lived in St. Louis at the time.  She recommended The Young Man’s Guide by Father Lasance, which I have now read three times.  We exchanged presents that Christmas.  My mind, still being rooted in consumerism, thought it best to buy her an Apple iPod.  She made me a Rosary using my school’s colors for the beads.  It is now my most treasured gift.  She was a traditional Catholic, and she knew what true gifts are.

Eventually, she moved back to Virginia.  For several years we tried to kindle a relationship, but in selfish love of the world, I had “moved on”. 

I had a revelation one night, while not being able to sleep.  I am convinced that God, in His infinite Providence, finally knocked enough sense into me to realize my vocation and who to share it with.  I begged for another chance.  She did and we began our courtship.  This was in the spring of 2011.  I was still on the roller-coaster concerning my faith, but gradually she became my anchor.  She introduced me to the Tridentine Mass, and I wholeheartedly agree that it is “the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven.” 

My future in-laws, to whom I will be eternally grateful, sent me two Remnant articles, “Mass Confusion” and “The New Mass Revisited,” along with several other books Remnant readers are familiar with, which pushed me further into the investigation of who and what I am, Who is God and finally even questions about the destruction of the liturgy and the traditional practices of Catholicism.

This last year has been reading everything about my Faith that I can get my hands on.  I spent 25 years of my life in darkness—I now long for the light!  Had it not been for my fiancé and future in-laws, as well as others fighting for Tradition, I am convinced beyond that my soul would have been lost. 

Thank you for all that you do, and please continue to fight the good fight.  You have helped provide the means to aid this poor Catholic as he struggles, finally and sincerely, to save his soul.

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