An important moment for the US Church in the USA, in light of The Present Crisis.

I will keep saying it.

The passing and replacement of Bp. Robert Morlino is an important moment for the Church in the USA, particularly in light of The Present Crisis.

The Diocese of Madison has a page with links to some personal notes about the bishop.  HERE  The list is growing.  So far…

Personal Remembrances

Among these, the contribution of Kevin Phalen has a telling anecdote about the oath bishops must take, which I also treated HERE.

However, today I what Joseph Pearce wrote.   He, as you may know, is the author of Literary Converts (my favorite of his US HERE – UK HERE free UK delivery at the time of this writing) as well as a good book on Shakespeare and his Catholicism (US HERE – UK HERE).   Something of Pearce’s recollection of Bp. M.  What this tale reveals is a) something of the landscape of the diocese which had been entrusted to the bishop and b) how he worked the landscape, and c) his personal style.

Memories of My Friendship With Bishop Morlino
Bishop Robert C. Morlino was a courageous crusader for all that is good, true and beautiful

The Church in the United States has lost one of its most courageous leaders. Bishop Robert C. Morlino, late of the Diocese of Madison, who died suddenly and unexpectedly last week, was someone whom I admired greatly for his sanity and sanctity and someone whom I had the privilege to serve.

Several years ago I was invited by Bishop Morlino to lead a retreat for the priests of his diocese. I was honored to receive the introduction and excited at the prospect of meeting the bishop himself in person. He asked if I might speak on the evangelizing power of beauty and what might be called cultural apologetics. He was keen that the priests of his diocese should understand the importance of beauty in the struggle to win souls for Christ in an age of ugliness and relativism.  [This was a major theme for the bishop over several years.  It was part of his liturgical vision as well.  All of a piece.]

At his behest, I spoke of the good, the true and the beautiful as being a reflection of the Trinity, inseparable, coequal and yet mystically distinct. The good was the way of virtue or love; the true was the way of reason; the beautiful was the way of creation. In an age which had corrupted the meaning of love, removing its rational and self-sacrificial heart and replacing it with narcissistic feeling, and in an age which had corrupted reason to something merely relative and devoid of objectivity, the power of beauty to evangelize was more important than ever. I spoke of the power of a sunrise to raise the heart and the mind to God, echoing the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins that the world is charged with the grandeur of God. I spoke also of the power of human creativity to partake of the creative power of God in the making of great works of art, such as St. Peter’s Basilica or Michelangelo’s pieta, which also raised the heart and mind to God. Such beauty could reach the most hardened of hearts.  [Pretty good, right?]

Bishop Morlino was delighted with my presentation but I was a little disturbed by the reaction of some of his priests. Although all the priests of the diocese were expected to attend, about half of them failed to show. Some of these absentees might have had very good reasons for their non-attendance; others, however, had simply treated the bishop’s invitation and his expectation with indifference or resistance. Equally disturbing was the relative indifference or even sullen resistance of half of those in attendance. In all my years of giving talks to Catholic audiences, at parishes, conferences, colleges, high schools and other venues, I had never met with such negativity. I was not heckled, of course, but the lack of enthusiasm was palpable. About half of those in attendance were clearly there against their will, dragging their cognitive heels, and waiting for the ordeal to be over. These beat a hasty retreat as soon as the formal part of the proceedings were over, failing to attend the reception and convivium that followed. [NB] It was only then that I had the great pleasure of speaking with the happy remnant who were on fire with the faith and shared their bishop’s fervor. I couldn’t help but notice that these were the younger priests of the diocese, signaling that the future was in good hands.  [As the Biological Solution continues is grinding on all sides, this is an important observation.  Bp. Morlino ordained 40 men during his tenure.  This will have a huge impact on the diocese in the future.]

As I returned home, I felt deeply for Bishop Morlino and the thankless task that he and other courageous bishops faced. He and his faithful confreres had spoken out against modernism, against the culture of corruption that had manifested itself so sickeningly in the sex abuse scandal, and against the culture of active homosexuality which spurns the very concept of chastity. In return, they are met with indifference, resentment and even open hostility and rebellion. Bishop Morlino was one of those few, those happy few, those band of brothers, who fought the good fight when so many of his brother bishops were doing nothing or in some cases worse than nothing.  [Hence, his passing and replacement is an important moment in the US Church.]

Before I left, the bishop gave me his personal phone number, telling me to phone him whenever I liked. A friendship was born, albeit one which would never again bring us together in the flesh. It was, however, good to know that the Diocese of Madison was in such good and vigilant hands and that there was a corner of God’s vineyard that was being well-tended. How shocked I was to hear of his sudden death, and how I grieved for his flock. A good and holy shepherd had been lost. A true and courageous soldier of Christ had fallen in the midst of battle. And yet — and here’s the good news that vanquishes all shadows of grief — a good and worthy servant had gone to receive his heavenly reward.

In truth, we have not lost Bishop Morlino. He is not lost to us. He is in a better position than ever to help us and to help the beleaguered Church that he served so faithfully. He is in the company of the saints and in the Presence of God. He can hear us. He can help us. He can intercede for us.

Bishop Morlino, courageous crusader for all that is good, true and beautiful, pray for us that we might be given the courage to fight as you fought in this life that we may be happy with you forever in the glories of the life to come. Amen!

Some sharing options...

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to An important moment for the US Church in the USA, in light of The Present Crisis.

  1. Malta says:

    I’m sad about Bishop Morlino. Bishop Jugis strongly encourages all of his Priests to celebrate the EF of the mass: https://liturgyguy.com/2016/06/25/a-charlotte-first-confirmation-in-the-extraordinary-form/

  2. Amerikaner says:

    I pray that not only God put a good replacement into the Madison Diocese but that He inspire other bishops to reflect on the memories/articles of Bishop Morlino in terms of their own governance. Bishop Morlino appeared to exhibit saintly courage and care of those under his spiritual care in this modern (and unrelenting) age.

  3. Shonkin says:

    Robert Morlino was Bishop of Helena, MT for just a few years before he was called to Madison. He was one of the best our diocese ever had.

  4. FrAnt says:

    I hope along with you that a good and holy successor is found for the Diocese of Madison, but (a big BUT) isn’t Cardinal Cupich the Metropolitan and a member of the Congregation of Bishops? I am reluctant to say my hope is squashed, but right now, it is.

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    The Metropolitan Archbishop is actually Abp Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee. He’ll be celebrating Bishop Morlino’s funeral.

  6. Thomas S says:

    FrAnt,

    No. Cupich isn’t the metropolitan. Listecki of Milwaukee is.

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    Joseph Pearce wrote: “Several years ago I was invited by Bishop Morlino to lead a retreat for the priests of his diocese…At his behest, I spoke of the good, the true and the beautiful as being a reflection of the Trinity…Although all the priests of the diocese were expected to attend, about half of them failed to show. Some of these absentees might have had very good reasons…the relative indifference or even sullen resistance of half of those in attendance.”

    “…then I had the great pleasure of speaking with the happy remnant who were on fire with the faith and shared their bishop’s fervor. I couldn’t help but notice that these were the younger priests of the diocese, signaling that the future was in good hands…”

    “As I returned home, I felt deeply for Bishop Morlino and the thankless task that he and other courageous bishops faced. He and his faithful confreres had spoken out against modernism, against the culture of corruption…”

    “In truth, we have not lost Bishop Morlino. He is not lost to us. He is in a better position than ever to help us and to help the beleaguered Church that he served so faithfully. He is in the company of the saints and in the Presence of God. He can hear us. He can help us. He can intercede for us.”

    Well said. Three recent articles by Joseph Pearce that may be helpful:

    “Winning the Long Defeat” opens with several quotes:

    “Actually I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect “history” to be anything but a “long defeat”-though it contains…some samples or glimpses of final victory.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

    “Together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.” – Galadriel

    Pearce then begins with this statement:

    “One of the fatal errors that Christians make is the belief that Christians need to rule the world.”

    “The Church persecuted is the Church purified; the Church which accommodates the fads and fashions of the world is the Church decadent. Those who understand these bedrock realities know that the Church in the land of exile which is called Time, and in the vale of tears which is the Long Defeat of history, is always the Church Militant, the Church at War with the world.”

    “If Christ is not who He says He is, the whole of history is an Endless Defeat, a grimly grotesque diabolical comedy, consisting of nothing but meaningless suffering in a meaningless cosmos. Such is the anti-gospel of despair which counters the Gospel of Hope.”

    “If, however, Christ is who He says He is, we know that the Long Defeat of history is only the stage on which we fight for our eternal lives. The Long Defeat is, for each of us as individuals, a very short history, spanning our own lifetime. We are called to fight the Long Defeat for a short time so that we might win the everlasting victory…”

    Pearce refers to China’s Cardinal Zen and the Cardinal’s advice that “They take away your churches? Go back to the catacombs.” (SG here: see techniques such as clandestine Mass and sacraments, and priest holes.)

    Pearce closes:

    “Be of good cheer. Be not afraid. There is nothing to fear. The dragon is slayed!”

    https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/11/long-defeat-joseph-pearce.html

    Pearce’s second article is “St. Augustine’s “Confessions”: An Introduction”:

    “It [“Confessions”] speaks to our age, as it spoke to Augustine’s own age, because it speaks to all ages. It cuts through the cant of all the intellectual fads and fashions, those accidents of history (philosophically speaking) which do not partake of those truths which are truly essential to our understanding of ourselves, of each other, and of our place in the cosmos.”

    “Augustine is accessible and applicable because he is one of us. He suffers from the same temptations and succumbs to those temptations. He falls and does not always get up again, preferring to wallow in the gutter with his lusts and his illicit appetites. And yet, like us, he is restless until he rests in the truth, which can only be found in Christ and the Church he founded.”

    “Unlike the other great philosophers, Augustine doesn’t seek in The Confessions to show us the truth purely objectively, by setting out the abstract concepts and proving his point with dispassionate and logical reasoning. He seeks to show us the objective truth through his subjective engagement with it and by the consequences of his failure to engage with it.”

    https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/10/saint-augustine-confessions-introduction-joseph-pearce.html

    In this third and final article “Classical Education and the Future of Civilization” we continue with the good, the true, and the beautiful.

    Pearce discusses a Great Books program at the University of Oklahoma, John Senior, Wyoming Catholic College, and Sequitur Classical Academy. The resulting senior’s theses explore topics such as: the flaws of evolution, church music, enslavement to technology, the environment and moral obligation, and medical ethics for body and soul.

    Pearce closes:

    “It is astonishing and very encouraging that young men and women, still in their teens, are questioning and challenging the status quo with such insightfulness and eloquence. These are the men and women of the future who will pass the torch of civilization to the next generation, keeping the light of intellectual life blazing in a darkening world. As the night gets darker their lights will shine all the brighter for the darkness, attracting people with the goodness of truth and beauty. Enlivened by the past, they are the future.”

    https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/11/classical-education-future-civilization-joseph-pearce.html

    Pearce’s book “Literary Converts” is well worth one’s time.