Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lessons learned

A while ago, I was asked to describe the problem with Modernism... I mean Novusordoism in the Catholic Church.

"Here's a lovely glass of orange juice for you. It's 99.999% delicious and healthy juice of fresh oranges.

"It's only got one teeny, weeny little teaspoon of arsenic in it.

"Just drink around the arsenic parts if you don't like them."

The battle between the Faith and Novusordoism is often small to the point of invisibility. But there are places and situations in the Church where it is being made nearly inescapable, and the religious orders are one of those places.

Some years ago, I compiled a great deal of information on what was being touted at the time as a "revival" in the religious life in the more "conservative" corners of the Church. In the course of this research, during which I accumulated about 90,000 words worth of notes, I came to an uncomfortable conclusion: that it is impossible to revive the religious life in the Church in its current condition. The Church as a whole had to choose between the World and the Faith.

All of the communities that I was using as examples were attempting the same thing: they wanted to strike a "balance" between what we have come to call the Traditionalist position and the new moral and doctrinal dispensation that has been adopted throughout the Church that I have since nicknamed "Novusordoism". They, to a man, have tried to create a detente between what are clearly two radically opposed proposals for the Church.

This Mexican standoff, which was always extremely difficult to maintain but which was made possible by supportive papacies, is now crumbling. In every case, the groups have been forced to choose a side and, unsurprisingly, nearly all are choosing Novusordoism.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this choice is the example being made of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate who are being shown now what happens to a community that strays too far over to the "Traditionalist" side of the hair-thin line known as "conservatism". (It is to be remembered, of course, that this line is not only too thin to walk, it moves further and further to one side all the time.)

They were founded in a time when it was simply impossible to adopt the Traditional rites (and religion) of the Catholic Church. To exist as a new community in the early 80s, one had to at least pay minimal lip service to the new dispensation. Over the years, they tried to find a "middle path," allowing both within the community. When Benedict released the Old Mass, they thought their prayers were answered. Here was the pope endorsing their proposal of detente. It was an attempt to nail down "conservatism" in the Church as a "reasonable" option between the grey pony-tailed Marxist hippies and the Mad Trads.

But Benedict, as much as we loved him, was making the same mistake as the rest of the Church, (and I think in the end he understood this). The new papacy is teaching us the same old rule of Christianity: you have t pick a side eventually.

"Conservatism" is not a position in the Church. It is only a waiting room, (in the same way Newman called Anglicanism a way-station on the path to atheism) a place that until recently had been kitted out by the popes as a kind of Catholic VIP lounge where you could have a few drinks with your well-heeled Beltway friends while making up your mind about which side you might choose in the unlikely event that you had to.

The trouble that the secular world has and always had with Christianity is that it does not allow for a comfortable middle ground. And I have said it before: the last two papacies have done one bad thing to the Church: they have promoted the idea of compromise, of "mutual enrichment" between the good and the bad. They have created an illusion of a "safe," easy Catholicism where we can fit in, more or less, with the world and still be "good Catholics". And the outside world is really putting the pressure on these days. Pinch but one grain of incense to the state gods and you may believe privately whatever you like.

Gentles, "conservatism" is the incense. Do not pinch it, for the sake of your souls.

Given what is happening to the Franciscans of the Immaculate right now, I don't think we will have long to wait for a new Oath to be created that will be required of everyone who proposes to take a public position in the Church, an "Oath of Modernism". They tried to make the SSPX adhere to this new dispensation and (I'm increasingly grateful) they refused. It seems now that the FFIs are being shown the instruments of torture and offered the usual deal: conform and you will hold a high place, be honoured and lauded, coins put in your purse for all your good works.

But I think the Franciscans of the Immaculate are doing martyrs work, showing us the limits of this proposal. The time has come to choose a side.



James C said...

My God, how appalling! Reading that tyrant's letter, you'd think they were worse than the Legionnaries!

Anonymous said...

You're totally right. But how to convince people of this?? It's remarkable how many are conned by a puff of incense and a Latin hymn or two. But it's counterfeit religion. Most people are not prepared to scratch beneath the surface.

The neo-Cons are on the ascendancy unfortunately. Pascendi Dominici Gregis should become mandatory reading for all Catholics.


Anonymous said...

How ironic that the good Father's name means 'fox'...


Anonymous said...
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Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


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Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Warned you.

Dave Heath said...

Very well written...and your conclusions are probably mirrored by others within and without the Trad ranks. It's been boiling for quite a while and the lid has to come off sometime. This may be the time, as the story has been in the news far too long to be considered a stutter. God help us...please.