+St. John Bosco+
Prayer Society Intention for the Month of February, Month of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Family
“Most Holy Trinity we adore Thee, and through Mary we entreat Thee: Make all men one in faith and give them the courage to profess it faithfully.” (Raccolta)
The first person to create a name for those praying at home was the late “Fr.” Anthony Cekada, who described us as “home alone.” I think the true psychological implications of this term, however, have been lost on those to whom it was applied. Cekada intended the term to be derogatory and to suggest that few held this position. But he also intended to appeal to the fear harbored by most LibTrads that they would more or less be outcasts or rejects, not members of any Catholic religious group or body. This fear of being isolated is a result of the herd mentality instilled into children in public schools and even private schools. They are taught that to be accepted by their peers and teachers one’s thinking and believing must coincide with the mainstream. Most LibTrads today are second and third generations issuing from the initial Vatican 2 breakaways, some of whom, at least, had attended Catholic schools, so they knew that their salvation could not be assured by conformity.
But Cekada’s characterization of those praying at home resonated with those not as well educated. They didn’t want to be excluded especially from “mass and sacraments,” to be seen as different, and so they went along to get along. But even before Vatican 2, the tendency to conformity had been chronicled by at least one Catholic theologian, Rev. Paul Furfey, who wrote: “[Certain] things are so perfectly plain and clear and obvious that no Catholic can logically hesitate for an instant to accept them. Yet some Catholics do hesitate. In defiance of all logic, they betray their hesitation not by positively denying any supernatural doctrine but by talking as though such doctrines did not exist. They can discuss the sociology of the family by the hour without ever once mentioning marriage as a sacrament They can discourse learnedly about the evils of modern war but not from the standpoint of the doctrine of the Mystical Body. They remain consistently silent about all these social doctrines which are peculiar to the Catholic Church.
“Thus they convey the impression they do not differ basically from materialists in their social thought. No one would gather from their language that there is sharp antithesis between the viewpoints of Catholics and unbelievers on social questions. Such persons may be appropriately dubbed Catholic conformists, for they are Catholics in the sense that they deny no doctrine of the Church outright and they are conformists in that they conform as closely as they dare to the viewpoint of unbelievers… This phenomenon cannot be explained by logic. It can be explained only in terms of cowardice. It requires unusual courage to break sharply with current opinion and this courage the conformist lacks. So he tries to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. He attempts to retain the respect of both Catholics and unbelievers. Of course in the long run the attempt is bound to fail but to the timid soul of the Catholic conformist it seems the easiest course.”
“…Many Catholics have lost their sense of horror and disgust at dogmatic error. Had they not done so they would not be so easily inclined to seek a common ground with heretics and infidels… A Catholic must love all heretics and infidels with the strong love of charity but he should have only an overwhelming disgust for the loathsome errors to which these heretics and infidels are a prey. The Catholic in the modern world must constantly rub shoulders with unbelievers. He should not love these men tepidly because of their errors neither should he abominate the errors the less because they are the errors of his friends… Catholics can never make their rightful contribution to social reform until they set a very high price on the dogmatic truths that are theirs. These are the truths which Christ himself brought to the world. They are the truths which countless martyrs loved so well that they died rather than abandon the smallest part of them. To overlook them, to abandon them — even in part — or to under emphasize them is to render ourselves ineffective against the mystery of iniquity. To hold them uncompromisingly without conforming to the spirit of the world to the slightest degree is they sure road to success” (The Mystery of Iniquity, 1945). And until these truths are held 100 percent in their entirety, the Mystery of Iniquity triumphs and Catholics remain divided.
The Mystery of Iniquity
How can we possibly reconcile the above with the most shining examples of our faith? Without the sacrifices of the heroic Christian martyrs of the early centuries who attended house churches and definitely were defying the religious norm, none of us would be here today! Those praying at home in these times who are constantly seeking out others of their same age group are missing the point. While it is true that in the past Catholic communities existed that functioned as such that is not the reality we face today. Rev Furfey calls his book The Mystery of Iniquity for a reason. He explains that such conformists are the very ones who will not see that that “mystery” was at work even in St. Paul’s day and was already well advanced in the 1940s. He comments further:
“The mystery of iniquity is mysterious because it is secret — the forces of evil operate in devious and hidden ways. But it is mysterious also by its very nature for it represents a degree of evil which surpasses our comprehension…He explains how the passages in Apocalypse Ch. 13 concerning the land and sea beasts “typify the use of deception. Thus the symbolism of these apocalyptic beasts makes it clear that force and deceit, all power and all wicked deception, are the characteristic weapons of the mystery of iniquity… It is aided in its machinations by an organized society called the world or synonymously the Kingdom of this world, that is the Kingdom of Satan…” Therefore, he concludes, “The mystery of iniquity [is] …the Satanic plan to bring to naught the saving work of Jesus Christ… The use of force, violence and deception [accomplish] this end.” He goes on to name Communism and fascism as examples of this system, but he clearly refers to the forces of Freemasonry when he paraphrases Pope Leo XIII, describing this Mysteryas “a group of forces which at first glance appears separate and independent but which on closer examination prove to be interlocking so that in spite of their seeming separateness they actually cooperate surprisingly well against the Kingdom of God.”
Furfey then goes on to describe Catholic conformists as inclined to materialism and not truly appreciative of the dangers posed by the existence of this evil and the eventual arrival of Antichrist. And this is what we are seeing today, only to a much greater degree, because today it is clear that the “saving work of Jesus Christ” has effectively been brought to an end. And yet this does not seem to faze those living in these times in the least. They seem not to understand that a high degree of sanctity is now required of us. Dom Chautard said over 125 years ago: “In former centuries, ordinary piety was enough to preserve souls from the contagion of evil. Nowadays, for the poison of violence multiplied a hundredfold inoculated by the allurements of the world, a much more energetic, vigorous serum is required. For want of laboratories capable of producing efficacious antidotes, our workers have been satisfied with producing sentimental fervour, tremendous outbursts no sooner ablaze than extinguished; or else they have been able to reach only a small minority.”
True meaning of sanctity
Such sanctity cannot be measured by exterior conformity to standards set by LibTrads, exterior acts of piety that extend only to the appearance of true holiness — whited sepulchres filled with dead men’s bones, outwardly beautiful but filthy inside. (Matt. 23: 27-28). One cannot be truly holy unless they are actually members of Christ’s Mystical Body, obeying the Commandments, all the popes have taught and obeying Canon Law. And sadly those who are calling themselves sedevacantists who pray at home have not only adopted LibTrad standards of exterior piety, but have also adopted their attitude toward papal teaching, refusing to obey binding decrees and daring to pick and choose for themselves what to believe. They present as holy. They believe themselves to be holy and wish others to see them as holy. They fill the Internet with lengthy and raucous outbursts that are anything but holy, because they are not faithful to the laws and teachings of the Roman Pontiffs in presenting them. And they do all this because they know nothing of true holiness as the Church has always taught it.
The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us concerning holiness: “Sanctity, says the Angelic Doctor, is the term used for all that is dedicated to the Divine service, whether persons or things. Such must be pure or separated from the world, for the mind needs to be withdrawn from the contemplation of inferior things if it is to be set upon the Supreme Truth— and this, too, with firmness or stability, since it is a question of attachment to that which is our ultimate end and primary principle, viz., God Himself — “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels. . . nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39)… In the moral order sanctity is the assertion of the paramount rights of God; its concrete manifestation is the keeping of the Commandments… Thus to keep the Commandments faithfully involves a very real though hidden separation from this world, as it also demands a great strength of character or stability in the service of God…”
Worldliness and living with oneself
But many today do not embrace this separation. They live in the world and pretend that they are not of it, because their participation in worldly things bears a religious flavor, or so they delude themselves. Those saints and theologians writing on the interior life warn that without a close personal relationship with our Lord that can be gained only in solitude — by prayer and contemplation — we cannot hope to engage in any kind of meaningful action. Dom Chautard, in his Soul of the Apostolate (one of Pope St. Pius X’s bedside books) wrote:
“Saint Gregory the Great said of Saint Benedict: “He lived with himself.” To live with oneself, in oneself; to wish to govern oneself and not be governed by the exterior; to reduce one’s imagination, feeling even ones intelligence and memory to the part of servants of the will and continually to conform this will to the will of God, is a program that is less and less accepted in this century of feverish agitation which has seen a new ideal spring up: love of action for action’s sake. To escape from this discipline of the faculties any pretext is held to be good: business, family cares, health, good reputation, love of country, the honor of one’s congregation the pretended glory of God — all these vie with one another to prevent us from living in ourselves. This sort of frenzy for exterior life even succeeds in gaining over us an irresistible attraction…” And here we must pause for a moment to note what St. Francis de Sales taught: “Obedience to the Commandments, both divine and ecclesiastical, is of obligation for all, because there is question here of THE ABSOLUTE WILL OF GOD WHO HAS MADE SUBMISSION TO THESE ORDINANCES A CONDITION OF SALVATION” (Holy Abandonment, Rt. Rev. Dom Vital Lehody O.C.R., page 9).
Dom Chautard continues: “We should ask ourselves [if] we have not an excessive confidence not only in certain noisy amusements but even in various means (pilgrimages, ostentatious festivals, congresses, speeches, publications, syndicates, political action etcetera,) lavished so abundantly in our day and very useful, without doubt, but which would be lamentable to put in the first place. Preaching by example will always be the chief lever. Lectures, good books, the Catholic press and even excellent sermons ought to revolve around this fundamental principle: to organize the apostolate for the people by the example of fervent Christians who make Christ live again by sending forth the sweet odor of His virtues… Since holiness is nothing else than the interior life developed up to the closest union of the will with that of God, the soul as a rule, unless by a miracle of grace, does not reach this end until it has gone through all the stages of the purgative and illuminative life by means of continuous and laborious efforts…”
Helps to holiness
Who today, without a spiritual director, could even come close to this? And yet we must try our best. How, though, could Catholics ever hope to achieve such union and act as an example to others where there is no obedience to Christ’s Vicar on earth, no regard for the laws of the Church and only contempt for fellow Catholics who insist on upholding these laws and teachings? In this there can be no likeness of Christ or imitation of His virtues whatsoever. In past blogs we have recommended a simple work by Rev. Robert Eiten, A Layman’s Way to Perfection, that helps Catholics begin their journey to the interior life. It is available for free download on the Internet. Some excerpts are listed below:
““For one reason or another it may at times be difficult to find a suitable spiritual director. In this case good spiritual reading will be the best substitute since in reality spiritual reading is in a certain sense written direction for achieving sanctity. It is as it were written spiritual direction. In the matter of books, we ought to aim to read only the best since there is not enough time for reading even the best. Our first aim should be to read the great modern authors since besides giving what the older authors give, they will give us the latest results of modern scholarship. This is especially true of the lives of Christ. A list of such authors will include such names as Prat, Lagrange, Goodier, Boylan, Plus, Marmion, Tanquerey, Lehodey and Leen. In an appendix of Boylan’s This Tremendous Lover, a fine selective bibliography of great modern authors on various spiritual topics is given.
“After we have finished reading most of the great modern authors, we can turn to the great spiritual writers of the last few centuries. Such names as St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Paul of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross will be included here. We will also find selections from such earlier authors as St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas very helpful. After this field of spiritual reading has been covered, we will have rather definite ideas on what we need and like. Good solid spiritual books such as the Imitation of Christ should be read slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully. Other lighter books as biographies may be read more rapidly. We might even scan or skip certain parts of them. It is sometimes very helpful to re-read — even several times — certain passages which have particularly struck us.
“Finally let us never forget that the greatest of all books is the Bible, especially the New Testament. Let us make this our constant companion, be able to quote freely from it, and enjoy reading passages of it again and again.” After reading this list offered by Rev. Eiten, it is hard to see how there could be any real development of the spiritual life in watching rambling, lengthy videos or hearing DVD’s. The interior life involves communion with God in mental prayer, a development of self-realization regarding one’s own shortcomings; it is not focused on the voice and images of a facilitator. Visual or audio means of communications cannot produce the necessary reverence, devotion and union with God sought in mental prayer. And if many Catholics made excuses, they were not able to find time for mental prayer in the 1940s when Rev. Eiten wrote his work, as he notes, how could they make time for it now if they spend hourswatching videos and listening to DVD’s without neglecting their daily duties?!
A saintly author on solitude
To learn the value of such meditation, listen to the holy advice of one of the author’s Rev. Eiten recommends above:
“1. Seek a suitable time for thy meditation and think frequently of the mercies of God to thee. Leave curious questions. Study such matters as bring thee sorrow for sin rather than amusement. If thou withdraw thyself from trifling conversation and idle goings about, as well as from novelties and gossip, thou shalt find thy time sufficient and apt for good meditation. The greatest saints used to avoid as far as they could the company of men, and chose to live in secret with God.
“2. One hath said, “As oft as I have gone among men, so oft have I returned less a man.” This is what we often experience when we have been long time in conversation. For it is easier to be altogether silent than it is not to exceed in word. It is easier to remain hidden at home than to keep sufficient guard upon thyself out of doors. He, therefore, that seeketh to reach that which is hidden and spiritual, must go with Jesus “apart from the multitude.” No man safely goeth abroad who loveth not to rest at home. No man safely talketh but he who loveth to hold his peace. No man safely ruleth but he who loveth to be subject. No man safely commandeth but he who loveth to obey.
“4. …O how good a conscience should that man keep, who never sought a joy that passeth away, who never became entangled with the world! O how great peace and quiet should he possess, who would cast off all vain care, and think only of healthful and divine things, and build his whole hope upon God!
“5. No man is worthy of heavenly consolation but he who hath diligently exercised himself in holy compunction. If thou wilt feel compunction within thy heart, enter into thy chamber and shut out the tumults of the world, as it is written, ‘Commune with your own heart in your own chamber and be still’ (Psalm 4:4). In retirement thou shalt find what often thou wilt lose abroad. Retirement, if thou continue therein, groweth sweet, but if thou keep not in it, begetteth weariness…
“6. In silence and quiet the devout soul goeth forward and learneth the hidden things of the Scriptures. Therein findeth she a fountain of tears, wherein to wash and cleanse herself each night, that she may grow the more dear to her Maker as she dwelleth the further from all worldly distraction. To him who withdraweth himself from his acquaintance and friends, God with his holy angels will draw nigh. It is better to be unknown and take heed to oneself than to neglect oneself and work wonders. It is praiseworthy for a religious man to go seldom abroad, to fly from being seen, to have no desire to see men.
“7. Why wouldest thou see what thou mayest not have? The world passeth away and the lust thereof. The desires of sensuality draw thee abroad, but when an hour is past, what dost thou bring home, but a weight upon thy conscience and distraction of heart? A merry going forth bringeth often a sorrowful return, and a merry evening maketh a sad morning? So doth all carnal joy begin pleasantly, but in the end it gnaweth away and destroyeth. What canst thou see abroad which thou seest not at home? Behold the heaven and the earth and the elements, for out of these are all things made.
“8. What canst thou see anywhere which can continue long under the sun? Thou believest perchance that thou shalt be satisfied, but thou wilt never be able to attain unto this. If thou shouldest see all things before thee at once, what would it be but a vain vision? Lift up thine eyes to God on high, and pray that thy sins and negligences may be forgiven. Leave vain things to vain men, and mind thou the things which God hath commanded thee. Shut thy door upon thee, and call unto thyself Jesus thy beloved. Remain with Him in thy chamber, for thou shalt not elsewhere find so great peace. If thou hadst not gone forth nor listened to vain talk, thou hadst better kept thyself in good peace. But because it sometimes delighteth thee to hear new things, thou must therefore suffer trouble of heart“ (Thomas a’ Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, Ch. 20).
Modernism is a heresy with many faces. It was a system devised by men secretly selected to reform the Church and first weaken, then destroy, Her authority. This in preparation for what we later saw happen at Vatican 2. One of the errors they taught is that all things must somehow become modern to be acceptable and to attract others, especially the young — to be truly effective tools of conveying information — when this is not the case. Yet how is it that for 1900 years the Church managed to exist without radio, without television, without computers without cell phones and Her information and her teachings were nevertheless conveyed succinctly by the bishops and the priests and most especially by the Roman Pontiffs? If even the home-schooled young of a Traditional bent truly do better understand things if they are preached to them in audio and video form as they claim, then it would seem the aims of the neo-Modernists have been achieved. Because all this amounts to is the fascination with the new and how things must evolve in order to be relevant; how we must adapt ourselves to these methods and abandon the old ways.
Why are we throwing away the best parts of our faith to bow down to technology? Because that is what this is really about. Yes, it’s true that this website is taking advantage of technology to spread the truth. I dare say that Pope St. Pius X who encouraged use of the press to spread the truth would not disagree that it should be employed to spread the teachings of the popes and the saints, approved theologians and canonists. But that is the right use of things — the videos on this site are only there because people requested them and claimed that they could not understand the faith in written form as well as they could understand it through these mediums. But that does not mean that reading, study and meditation — which we have encouraged for decades — should ever be slighted or abandoned. Novelties and innovations are most dangerous when used in a manner that appears to promote the truth when instead they are actually teaching error and leading the faithful away from true spirituality. And sadly, this is what we are dealing with today.
It seems that everyone has forgotten why Vatican 2 happened and what went before it that brought about the changes in the first place. Certain left-leaning lay people calling themselves Catholic effectively lobbied for a more people friendly liturgy, greater participation in the liturgy and other Church functions, the removal of Latin because they couldn’t understand it, a more modern approach to education, a Catholic version of “fellowship,” and various other (basically Protestant) innovations. THEY WEREN’T INTERESTED IN MAKING THEMSELVES MORE PLEASING TO GOD, BUT IN MAKING GOD AND HIS CHURCH MORE PLEASING TO THEM. They welcomed John 23rd’s aggiornamento, because it made them look good to their Protestant friends. They wanted a church more in tune with the times and that is exactly what they got. And it isn’t any different with those who want an up-to-date Church today, one Traditionalist enough to suit the LibTrads and conservative enough to hopefully draw in those who pray at home: true conformism. And here we see the good old Hegelian principles at work: thesis, antithesis, synthesis.
The paragraphs above only echo what St. Paul taught in 1 Cor. 2: 12-16: “Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are given us from God. Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man. For whom hath known the mind of the Lord, that we may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
May God’s peace be with you; never cease to pray and watch.