Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Fantasy of bitterness

A friend on Facebook wrote about a woman who is "bitter" at the disasters in the Church, and the evils it has created:

"A 61-year-old woman I've been corresponding with... has seen the faith of almost everyone in her life decimated by the post-conciliar Church. Her mother lost her faith after the changes (and I presume, is now deceased). She describes her own children as "godless". She is 'bitter and angry'.

"This is what the Church did. This is what men like Kasper and Maradiaga and Marx and the rest of them have done to His little ones. These are the stories that don't get told, because the people leave and are rarely heard from again. God forgive us for what -- and whom -- we have abandoned."

But, acknowledging the unimaginable losses the collapse of the Church has caused, there is something good to remember here. In the past people had the Faith handed to them, and it cost them little or nothing to accept and keep it. They were often given little instruction past that which is given to children. People followed the Faith because it was what their parents did, or because all their neighbourhood was Catholic or their friends or businesses were. I know nuns who said that the exodus from the convents really happened because they had been given no intellectual formation in the Faith either in their homes or schools or the novitiate. It was mainly about how to walk and hold your hands so you looked like a holy nun. She had been a Carmelite, and she said they were told they were not allowed to read Teresa, for fear it would give them airs.

The Asteroid wiped all that away, and the people who had received the Faith so easily dropped it just as easily. What you get for nothing is not valued, even if it is pearls.

And now the Faith is still there and can still be found, but it is no longer easy. The result of the post-Conciliar catastrophe has been as our friend above said, but it has also created a race of Catholic guerilla fighters of which we are the second and third generation, and who are now going to be called upon to carry the fight forward. The ferocity with which they have acquired and kept the Faith is going to be required by everyone.

There is no more cheap grace to be had for tuppence in all the shops. Now if you want to know what is true, you have to go looking for it, develop your mind and knowledge and exercise your intellect and will, which faculties had become nearly atrophied in the immediate pre-conciliar period. Now just getting to know what you need to know to be a merely practising Catholic requires almost heroic effort of will and powers of investigation, as well as taking the trouble to learn to tell the truth from the sweet lies nearly all the parishes and priests are peddling. Heroism has, essentially, become our baseline.

And then you have to exercise those muscles of will to hold on to it as the World turns on you like a horde of screaming savages. In a situation like this one, the people who know and hold to the Faith are the Charles Atlas of the Catholic world. And it is going to be true very soon that they are going to require all that strength to stand up to what is coming at us. Anger can be the fuel for much of the fire in the blood required to get this far, but indulging in bitterness is really just a means of avoiding the fight. "Bitterness" is really just a fancy word for sulking, and right now, if you are indulging it, you're sulking while everyone else is fighting a war. It's a variety of self-indulgence that we have no spare resources for.

It might not sound like I'm being sympathetic, but a great many of us have been forced to claw our way out of the Novusordoist fever swamps, and for a lot of us it has cost pretty dearly. I know someone who started asking awkward questions in her small working class town in eastern Canada, and eventually got to the point where she wanted to study at a small orthodox Catholic college. Her parents and family, all the friends she had grown up with, almost entirely disowned her when she came to the unavoidable conclusions.

She loves her family and her home town, but knows that there is no longer any place for her there and that she will probably have to spend the rest of her life living far away so she can receive the real sacraments. It was a horrible but ultimately heroic choice, and she made the right one, but it will never stop being hard.

One of the terrors of Traditionalism is that we learn at some point that the Faith makes a totally uncompromising demand. It is this choice that the happy-clappy Kasperian Church wants to hide and banish. But we are coming to a time in which heroism is going to be only the first rung, the bare minimum requirement to save our souls. Ours is a fearsome Faith, and the kind of choices my friend made are going to be forced on more and more of us. We can't expect everyone to make the right one.

We must get used to asking the question: "Which Faith are you willing to die for?" The religion of the Tango-Mass?

Or this one?

Our friend Ann Barnhardt offers a piece of advice that I think would be a good cure for a person's indulgence in bitterness:

"Our Lord Himself who has told many mystic saints and doctors of the Church the same thing: THINK AND PRAY ABOUT MY PASSION AND DEATH. Why? Because thinking about Our Lord’s torture, agony and excruciating death forces us to confront Him as a Person, True God AND True Man. Legal systems don’t sob until their capillaries burst. Philosophies don’t suffer the agony of unrequited love. Imaginary friends don’t lay down their lives. Bureaucracies don’t fight asphyxiation by pushing themselves up on their impaled feet.

Only a PERSON can do these things. Only a DIVINE PERSON did. And remember, He would go through His ENTIRE PASSION just for you alone, and He would go through it REPEATEDLY for you alone, in fact as many times as you assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even more. That is how much He PERSONALLY loves you, PERSONALLY.

And yes, I lost my mother to the Novusordoist revolution and the Sexual Revolution that Novusordoism is now embracing. She entered the Church in 1972 in Remi de Roo's Victoria, BC. They taught her that God wanted her to embrace the entire delusion, including the new sexual paradigm. In the end, it destroyed her life, and finally as she pursued what these evil people taught her, she contracted HPV and died of cervical cancer, estranged from me and everyone else in her family, addicted to and entirely engulfed in the post-60s Fantasy, refusing to the last minute to involve herself in reality.

One of the delusions of "bitterness" is that you alone have the right to complain. It whispers to you that your personal suffering is worse than everyone else's and that it absolves you of responsibility. But the War has left very few without scars.

Bitterness is a Fantasy. A life dedicated to the Real has no room for it.



Anonymous said...

I often wonder what it will take for me to snap. Native American prayers in place of the Creed - nope. Not praying for the Jews to convert at Easter - nope. A nun not telling off a priest who was suggesting to us that Mary and Joseph slept together - nope. Abortion - nope. Homosexuals chipping away at marriage - nope. Then I read this today;

I can just see those poor misunderstood paedophiles in 15 years, born that way, pleading their cause, then demanding their rights. How far backwards will I bend? Will I snap then? I don't care about going to the gallows, but I would like to DO something to earn it. I'm not bitter at anyone but my own cowardice.


Mary Kay said...

Well, I certainly needed that quote, and the whole message, as circumstances have dropped a little extra difficulty in my way. Yes. Thinking about Christ's Passion will change my whining tone.

BTW, I remember Remi de Roo (known South of Victoria as Winnie the Pooh). Poor Pooh Bear, to be afflicted with such a comparison!

Gerald said...

Very well-said, Hilary. A call for battle! I will be saving this text and putting it beside the following extract from one of Tolkien's letters, to call up when tempted to despair:

"'Trends' in the Church are...serious, especially to those accustomed to find in it a solace and a 'pax' in times of temporal trouble, and not just another arena of strife and change. But imagine the experience of those born (as I) between the Golden and Diamond Jubilee of Victoria. Both senses of imaginations of security have been stripped away from us. Now we find ourselves nakedly confronting the will of God, as concerns ourselves and our position in Time. 'Back to normal' - political and Christian predicaments - as a Catholic professor once said to me when I bemoaned the collapse of all my world that began just after I achieved 21. I know quite well that, to you as to me, the Church which once felt like a refuge, now often feels like a trap. There is nowhere else to go! (I wonder if this desperate feeling, the last state of loyalty hanging on, was not, even more often than is actually recorded in the Gospels, felt by Our Lord's followers in His earthly life-time?) I think there is nothing to do but pray, for the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and for ourselves; and meanwhile to exercise the virtue of loyalty, which indeed only becomes a virtue when one is under pressure to desert it."

Anonymous said...

Doing Catholicism was never easy, if it was easy you weren't doing it. Do you think it was easy to hold onto your faith when your child had died of scarlet fever? Or when your young wife had died in childbirth? Grace is not cheap and it never was. It's always been paid for in blood sweat and tears. When those mothers of that era of easy faith as you call it were raising ten children without the benefits of plastic diapers or antibiotics or powdered formula or clothes dryers or dishwashers or a second car or air conditioning (really think about that) they "were" Catholic guerrilla fighters in ways that the young of today can not imagine. I also take issue that Catholics of the past were not well instructed in the Faith, certainly there is always room for improvement but you risk sounding like those who dismiss the past as a naive time of smells and bells, neurotic nuns and obsessive compulsive congregations. It's all a part of the "Lie." What I will say is that people were not well instructed in the nature of evil, for the kingdom of hell comes in a way not foreseen by man and a mans enemies will be those of his own household.
It was hard then, it's hard now, and it will be hard tomorrow, but the good news is that someday we'll die.

John L said...

There are a few objections to be raised against this post - which should not be taken as detracting from its excellence.

I don't think the idea that the preconciliar church was a house of cards because of the subsequent collapse is correct. It is not right to think that catastrophic defeat necessarily implies weakness. There are always very strong forces that are working for evil, and it does not take great weakness for them to triumph; all that is required is ceasing to make a really determined and uncompromising fight against them. I have no direct experience of the conciliar and postconciliar period, but from what I can see it is not true that 'the people who had received the Faith so easily dropped it just as easily', if we apply this to the laity. For one thing, the attack on their faith was not an easy one to weather. It had the backing of most of the priests, bishops and religious, and was prosecuted viciously, deceitfully, and cleverly. The attackers also had the vehement support of the powers that be outside the Church. Most people will not stand up against attacks of this sort; this is just an unfortunate fact about human nature, not a reflection of weakness in the Church.

On anger and bitterness; I think contrary to what you say there was and still is a lamentable lack of anger and bitterness in the Church. This is why very few people are willing to actually put up a fight against modernists such as Kasper et al., and to denounce them openly as enemies of God and the Church. The admirable Ann Barnhadt is angry and bitter, and that makes her take the initiative and do the right thing. You are not so bad in this sphere yourself. What is a bad thing is anger and bitterness that is not transformed into aggression against evil; traditionalists are admittedly prone to this, including myself, but the answer to this failing is not to stop being angry and bitter.

Anonymous said...

You point out (correctly, in my view) that “bitterness”, in this instance, is being used as a camouflage for sulking. Things aren’t arranged according to a person’s liking, so they go off in a huff and do their own thing.
Sadly, you are sulking yourself. You talk about being a guerrilla fighter; then slope off to your EF Mass. You should remember that you owe your loyalty to God’s Church, not the particular version of the Mass - now effectively a museum piece - that you feel to be your personal preference. You’re so superior to the NO hoi-polloi, aren’t you?
If you want to be a guerrilla-fighter for Christ, the front-line is the Church’s mainstream liturgy and activities. You’ve gone Missing in Action

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Ah, so, moving to a small town so I can lower my expenses so I may spend more time praying, attending daily Mass and the Divine Office and writing is, in the minds of some, going MIA...

Odd logic...

Hilary Jane Margaret White said... link from Steve and all the stupid, rude people come screeching out of the internet woodwork...

what a bore.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hilary, in one sentence you’ve managed to describe me as “stupid”, “rude”, “screeching”, and “a bore”.
So, let me get this straight…. I’m the one being rude and you’re the injured party? I don’t recall calling YOU names. You clearly don’t do irony.
Concerning the sacrifice you intimate you have made in your lifestyle choices, to be honest I’d be more impressed if your liturgical preferences had led you to move to a sink-estate in south London. I’m no psychoanalyst but on a brief survey of your blog, you clearly have a preference for all things quaint and arty; in which the old Mass and Italy sit very nicely. Good luck you, privately. But when you start publicly trashing my Church then the gloves are off. Fair’s fair.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I'm so terribly sorry my personal life has offended you so deeply.

I'm sure you'll be happier elsewhere.

off you go.

Anonymous said...

Weren’t you the person who was going “to fight and die, hell yes!” for your beliefs? But the moment someone disagrees with your 1950s Happy Days Utopia you insult them, then tell them to go away. Don’t worry, the feeling’s mutual. I won’t be back. You bore me, anyway.

Gerald said...

Who is this person? As it happens I found myself at a Novus Ordo last evening during which the "kiss of peace" took longer than the distribution of Holy Communion. You see, the "presider", whose Cranmer communion-table was located 50 feet from the altar into the nave, insisted on going up and down the pews shaking everyone's hands. What's more, he sent his stable of altar girls to do the same. Whilst I was in the middle of the Agnus Dei, a 10-year-old girl in an ill-fitting alb grabbed my hand, already covered in the sweat and oils of a number of other people. Time for communion? Nope---I was not going to have Jesus unceremoniously dropped in that hand like everyone else.

Every Novus Ordo is more or less abusive than this. What they ALL have in common is that they were manufactured by a committee of bureaucrats in the 1960s with the express purpose of watering down the Faith through changes in worship. These bureaucrats have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations in creating a liturgical vehicle through which to accomplish their objectives.

By abandoning a millennium and a half of hallowed liturgical tradition and clinging to this 1960s "banal product of the moment", you are the one giving up the fight.

As for Hilary's relocation to Norcia, each of us is different. Some of us fight better as part of a group whilst a few can battle alone behind enemy lines. The Church needs both, and She certainly doesn't need these kinds of attacks.

No doubt you think St Benedict was a coward for withdrawing from the Roman equivalent of a South London sink estate?

MairinT said...

Thank you Hilary. Have just read your article out loud to share with my grandson (15). We attend TLM on Sunday's and I attend a respectable NO on weekdays. It is a big fear for me when I think of what Church will remain for my grandchildren... We are blessed to have so many dedicated young men joining the traditional fraternities. There is where the Church is healthy and growing. These are REAL men, well educated and generous with their time and not ensnared by worldliness. I thank God that I had a good grounding in the Faith through my parents and Irish Dominican Sisters. The collapse of the Church definitely happened in the sixties onwards. I was in the Netherlands when "mass" was being celebrated around a was a 'meal' . The infamous Dutch Catechism was launched. By the time my children were in schools - in Canada- modernism was in full swing. How they survived the rotten "Catholic" school system is a miracle. Hilary, we are fortunate to have the Internet where we can seek and find our continuing education, support each other and stay abreast of the shenanigans in Rome, Germany etc. Not even His Holiness is safe from those who conspire

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


beats me.

Just the sort of rude schmoe one tends to pick up while swimming around internet, like a remora.

I sometimes wonder about such people. Do they march uninvited into people's houses and start insulting the hostess and talking about how much they hate the furniture?

One wonders what the point of it is. but then, not being inclined to trolling myself, I suppose I miss the appeal.

But one does detect a note of envy here. My 50s utopia is available to anyone who wants to live in it. You just have to decide to do so.

Anonymous said...

"If you want to be a guerrilla-fighter for Christ, the front-line is the Church’s mainstream liturgy and activities. You’ve gone Missing in Action."

Wrong. The frontline is actually in all the world's monasteries: that is where the real spiritual warfare occurs. The more laymen can align their lives with those in the monasteries, the better off we are, both in the Church and in the world. The answer lies in prayer and asceticism and not in activism.

You have done the right thing.


GracieLou said...

"one link from Steve..." Well at least the one who hates the idea of veils, people who like veils, the tradition behind veils, defenders of veils and/or anything lacy resembling a veil who at the same time insists she has no problem with veils, hasn't shown up. Nor the white knight lion man who defends all fair Pollyannas (and veil haters) from the clutches of the Meanie Minions of Mean from the Eeevil Kingdom of Truth, who insists he has no problem with truth as long as it doesn't upset the ladies.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Heh. That was some awesome alliteration there.

I have no idea who all yer talking about, but it was good.