Most people believe we live in a democracy. They were probably told this myth by a very sweet fourth grade teacher. A democracy is when the laws are made by all of the citizens. At certain points in its history, ancient Athens was a democracy. The Athenian citizens (who were a small portion of the actual population) met together and made laws and voted to fill administrative offices. At the federal level our law is made by 535 Congressmen and Senators and 1 president or by 9 Supreme Court justices. At the state level, the laws are made by usually fewer than 100 state legislators and a governor and less than a dozen supreme court justices. With a population of over 300 million such a number is nowhere close to “all” the citizens.
With everything else in the Church having been “reformed” or given a new meaning—not officially, of course!—over the past fifty years, it was only a matter of time before the concept of “miracle” would undergo an adaptation to post-conciliar requirements.
The problem was how to canonize Paul VI without a single clear-cut miracle to his credit, like one of the many indubitable miracles seen in the case of Saint Pius X, the last Pope to be canonized. For example, the instantaneous curing of a nun of bone cancer after a relic of Pius X was pinned to her clothing.
But the Vatican was up to the challenge: on February 24 we read the news that the “consulting theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Pope Paul VI, moving him closer to sainthood.”
I wonder if it’s possible for so many of our modern churchmen to be any more out of touch with reality than they already are. They keep making grand and solemn statements to the world about this and that social issue, almost as if the world hadn’t stopped listening some twenty-five years ago. With all due respect, exactly who in the world do they imagine still cares? On any given day, Miley Cyrus has more social impact on society than any ten princes of the Church combined. If they realized this perhaps they’d start trying to say things that actually matter to real people, rather than just media people.
Media people are not the real people. The ones I lived with in Rome during the last conclave, for example, care much more about good Roman restaurants than Roman Catholic rituals. A casual observer watching them at work, however, buzzing around with their cameras and high-tech microphones, might have come away with the impression that these guys really do care about all things Catholic. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
So if a cardinal or a pope evaluates the world’s reaction to his words by the media’s reaction, he’ll likely end up with a fairly skewed notion of reality, if not utterly oblivious to the fact that in the real world—in the bars, cafes, stadiums, workplaces, kitchen tables and churches—nobody cares. The scandal has been too great, the words too vapid, the dumbing down too complete, the liturgy too stupid, and too many churchmen just too silly to matter anymore—which is why millions have opted out of the Church altogether.
It goes without saying that hope for the ever-on-the-horizon New Springtime to finally come to our withering Church, has been relegated to the True Believers, and by that I mean the Old Timers. I suppose that makes sense: after all, their ideas have hardened with time, making such folks less liable to change their views, even when confronted by the cold light of reality. I stress that this goes without saying. Everyone who has a stake in the Catholic game knows that it’s the Old Timers who cling to the Myth of Vatican II with an ungodly, stubborn strength.
It’s the old folks who are the most extraordinarily irrational concerning the question, What is to Be Done? We all know that it is among our Church’s charming geriatric community that we find the last remnants of the most ridiculous of unfalsifiable premises—namely, that Vatican II still needs to be cashed out, if only we give its ideas a bit more time, if we attend to the Project with a bit more energy and attention, and if we hold the line a bit longer…if, if, if we just strip down the church even more, if we just get a bit more hip and relaxed and groovy, if we entirely ditch all of the pomp and circumstance and smells and bells and Latin and incense and formality and rules and dogmas, if we just quit acting like we’re the only show in town, if we get a bit more tolerant and accepting of other religions and ideas and attitudes, if we just loosen our collars a bit (or take them off), if we lighten up a bit more, if we embrace a bit more simplicity and iconoclasm and quit parading around in our Renaissance gear, if we quit acting like we’re part of some monarchial hierarchy, if we cease with the formality and titles and special outfits, if we just get rid of all of the aesthetic decadence that forever attaches itself to these ‘old ways’, and if we get a bit more vague on the whole morality thing….then, then, well, you’ll see! People will see the Catholic Church for the hip and awesome and simple and humble and groovy institution that it is. All of these ancient customs and ceremonies and outfits, and all of these dogmas and laws and rules and rules and rules…they are getting in the way of our true appeal! We’re turning people away with all of our gilded and stuffy customs!
If you wreck it, they will come!
Today (February 17) the world press reported that Pope Francis has obtained an Argentinian passport and identity card under his former name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and that he “would like to keep traveling around the world with the Argentinian passport.” That is, although he already holds a Vatican passport as Pope Francis, head of the Vatican city state and Vicar of Christ, he would like to continue to be known, and treated by immigration authorities, as simply Jorge Bergoglio, citizen of Argentina. In yet another display of an endlessly praised humility that is becoming a titanic spectacle, Pope Francis—or should I say Jorge Bergoglio—insisted on personally paying the processing fees to the Argentinian government. In the “Church of the poor” there is no money to waste on fees for the Pope’s alter ego passport and ID card, but $28 million was readily available for a massive three-hour rock concert cum Novus Ordo Mass on the beach in Rio.
I believe many Catholics today have been lulled and propagandized into a too-defensive position, causing them, mostly unconsciously, to feel hesitant, if not embarrassed, to proclaim their Faith. Although parts of the following little essays may seem a tad pugnacious, keep in mind that any points readers may find worthwhile must be expressed with tact, prudence, and, above all, charity. Choose your audience well, perhaps your golfing buddies.
I. Are You a “Catholic Christian”?
My first reaction to hearing this often-repeated phrase was negative, but I could not understand why. Now I think I do. Consider these situations: Would you say to your wife, “Please pass me a fork utensil”? Do you say to your neighbor, “I enjoy baseball sport”? Do you ask your grocer if he has “oranges fruit”? Rhetorical questions, to be sure; we don’t normally find it necessary to identify a sub-category with its category—unless the person doesn’t understand the connection. If you uttered any of the above quotations, your listener might think you a little odd, or, at best, speaking in near-redundancies.
Someone sent me Bronwyn Lundberg's “This Guy!” the other day. I guess I'd somehow missed this particular “masterpiece” the first time around since it actually preceded her sensationalist 'The Last Supper' from last year, which included the likenesses of Ellen DeGeneres (as Christ), that loudmouth ex-Catholic with the anger-management issues and a few lesser known gay icons as part of its heavy-handed attempt to be provocative.
Bronwyn Lundberg enjoys spoofing Christian art so much that she’s evidenlty cranking off one of these bad boys annually. The original title of this thing was “Jesus Christ, Jesus!” Get it? Ain’t that funny!
And just who is this Bronwyn Lundberg? Exactly!
While responding to a Tuesday night rollover accident in Chula Vista, Calif., a police officer and firefighter got into a dispute over where the fire engine should park. It ended with the uniformed firefighter in handcuffs.
The California Highway Patrol officer reportedly ordered the firefighter, identified as Jacob Gregoir, to move the fire engine off the center divide or he would be arrested. As he worked the scene and checked the overturned car for more victims, he reportedly told the unidentified officer that he would have to check with his captain.
That’s when the officer decided to detain the firefighter instead.
The following letter was sent to The Remnant a couple of weeks ago. It is not atypical of the thousands like it that we’ve received in recent months, posing similar questions. Perhaps posting it here will help instigate a constructive exchange of ideas about the question every one of us must answer, sooner or later: Where do we go from here?
Editor, The Remnant: I am grateful for your strong defense of this order on Remnant TV http://youtu.be/tn2nF_b76WA. It has dismayed me to learn of their dismantling under the Vatican’s Fr. Volpi. Your perspective and defense of the friars has helped me to deal with this blow.
To know the friars personally is to love and respect them. It is to wish to emulate them, if you love Jesus Christ and His true Church. I first encountered the friars in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I used to visit their chapel sometimes during lunch hour or after work and was amazed at their reverence for Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I learned much from their homilies and example about the goodness of true adoration, reverence and devotion for our Lord, present in the tabernacle. Later, I encountered them in their little, dirt-floored chapel in Baltic, Connecticut. There I learned of the friars’ commitment to humility, sacrifice, and poverty. Later, by God’s grace, they would have a church built in Griswold, Connecticut. I was never able to attend Mass there regularly because of the distance from my home, but I continued to hear about their work from time to time; seeing them in the news for their pro-life witness, for example.
By the time this goes to print the most solemn of secular feast days will have passed. The winner of Super Bowl XLVIII will have been decided and the engine of mass culture will have moved on to the next over-hyped sporting event or cause celebre. Fortunately for them the Winter Olympics is being hosted by a country known for its intolerance toward homosexuals and Islamic Jihadists and it’s sympathy for U.S. expats who leak dirty NSA secrets. It would be the perfect storm if only Russia were full of Catholics instead of Russian Orthodox, whom whatever other criticism liberalism can assail them with are at least formally opposed to the Bishop of Rome. This is less important now that Benedict XVI has abdicated, but a fact in their favor nonetheless.
Faithfulness requires a clear head and the ability to call out nonsense for what it is. To be steeped in history is to cease to be neo-Catholic. It is to see the truth of Tradition, and the farce that is the ritual reference to the hermeneutic of continuity.
I’m always amazed by the sheer number of converts who have written books about their journey to the Church. I’m not sure who reads these books, but apparently there’s quite a market for them. I promise you to never join that fray. For one thing, I can’t imagine My Story would be of interest to anyone but a small group of (no doubt annoyed) confessional Lutherans. For another thing, even within this niche market, it would prove to be terribly boring reading. I simply have had no Road to Damascus experience, no existentialist crisis, no particular phenomenological breakthrough, and no precise ‘ah ha!’ moment; I didn’t have an apparition or vision, and I was never ‘shaken to the core’ or some such thing. More importantly for my present purposes, I didn’t see in the Church the solution to some life crisis or trauma, I didn’t ‘feel’ my way into the Church, I didn’t ‘fall in love’ with any aspect of it, and as a result of finding the Church, I didn’t ‘find myself’, nor did I have any other sort of emotional epiphany or therapeutic recovery (though it should be noted that if my conversion had given me such an emotional headway, no Lutheran worth his salt would have taken me seriously anyway—call it the Lutheran Catch-22).