Sometimes Leon Trotsky is given credit for saying that you might not be interested in war but war is interested in you. He didn’t say that, exactly, but it is nevertheless true.
I have not infrequently challenged you readers to be ready and to get readier for sudden reversals of fortune and for what I think are inevitable long-term struggles, both on the general, human level and on the level of our being members of the Catholic Church.
At the same time I as I been pushing the old semper paratus line, the old “Si vis pacem, para bellum” line, some folks out there in the wider interwebs have been snuffling and sniveling and wringing their hands over bellicose imagery, hard stands, adherence to standards and – forehand – doctrine and law. They moan that the time for being culture “warriors” is over, nay rather, that such militant attitudes are counter-productive and, well, just not very nice.
To these I say: “Nuts!”
My friend, the awake and watchful Msgr. Charles Pope has written something which must be read. HERE
Please take note of this sample and then read the rest there:
Comfort Catholicism Has to Go; It is Time to Prepare for Persecution
We are at war for our own souls and the souls of people we love. We are at war for the soul of this culture and nation. And like any soldier, we must train to fight well.
There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom.
It is long past dark in our culture, but in most parishes and dioceses it is business as usual and there is anything but the sober alarm that is really necessary in times like these.
Scripture says, Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1). Preparing people for war — a moral and spiritual war, not a shooting war — should include a clear setting forth of the errors of our time, and a clear and loving application of the truth to error and light to darkness.
But there is little such training evident in Catholic circles today where, in the average parish, there exists a sort of shy and quiet atmosphere — a fear of addressing “controversial” issues lest someone be offended, or the parish be perceived as “unwelcoming.”
But, if there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now.
Again, if there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now. It is zero-dark-thirty in our post-Christian culture. And while we may wish to blame any number of factors for the collapse, we cannot exclude ourselves. We who are supposed to be the light of the world, with Christ shining in us, have preferred to hide our light under a basket and lay low. The ruins of our families and culture are testimony to the triumph of error and the suppression of the truth.
More than ever we need to shift toward being distinctive from the culture we have refused to critique and call to reform. More than ever our faith needs to shine brightly and clearly in our churches and communities.
And if a world now accustomed to great darkness calls our light harsh, so be it. If our light does not shine, there is no light at all. Our Catholic faith is the sole and last hope for this world. It has always been so.
Simply put, it is time for clergy to prepare themselves and God’s people for sacrifice. Seeking to compromise with this culture is now unthinkable. Our only recourse is to seek to lance the boils. And the culture will cry foul. And we who do the lancing will be made increasingly to suffer. But we have to be willing to embrace and endure such suffering in increasing ways in the months and years ahead.
We are at war for our own souls and the souls of people we love. We are at war for the soul of this culture and nation. And like any soldier, we must train to fight well. We must study our faith and be more committed than ever. We must also know our enemy and his tactics, and we must be prepared to suffer — and even to lose our life.
We have to retool and provide every opportunity to get clear about our faith. Sermons and other teachable moments must sound a clear call to personal conversion and to battle for souls and to stop treating lightly the sinful disregard for God’s law in our families and communities.
Our bishops especially need to shift into another mode entirely. Collectively and currently they seem more interested in protecting what little we have left, than summoning the Catholic people to battle. Priests too seem loath to summon people to anything challenging or uncomfortable. The image of Peter trying to keep Christ from the Cross comes to mind. Peter said, “This shall never be for you!” And the Lord severely rebuked him saying that he was thinking as man, not God, and was in the service of Satan.
I will say it AGAIN.
Among the things we must do – now – urgently – is revitalize our liturgical worship of God. This is a sine qua non for anything else we hope to accomplish in our Church and in society at large. Even if we want simply to fight a holding action, a defense war for the nonce, our greatest bulwark, our stone wall, is our liturgical worship of God. If we adopt the “Benedict Option” or the “Dominic Option” or another option… we must root its begins and continuation in our liturgical worship of God.
I think that one of the great “weapons” – remember that a sword and an AR-15 are also defensive – we Roman Catholics have is the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite. We must revive and revitalize it, restore it to prominence, pick it up and shine it up, polish it and hone it, clean, oil and adjust it, get it sighted in and then use it until it is an extension of our hand, mind and heart. It can be used side by side with other magnificent tools of our Catholic identity, other rites and rituals, other Rites of our sister Churches. But it must take its prominent place in our armory, for this is a time of war.
Back to Msgr. Pope for a moment:
It is time, past time, to retool. It is time to prepare for persecutions that will get bolder by the month and year. The dark movements that marched in under the banners of tolerance never meant it. And having increasingly gained power, they are seeking to criminalize anyone who resists their vision. No tolerance for us. Religious liberty is eroding, and compulsory compliance is already here. The federal courts increasingly shift to militantly secular and activist judges who legislate from the bench.
When will we as a Church finally say to the bureaucrats who demand we comply with evil laws: “We will not comply. If you fine us we will not pay. If you seek to confiscate our buildings, we will turn maximum publicity against you, but we still will not comply. If you arrest us, off to jail we go! But we will simply not comply with evil laws or cooperate with evil.”
Right now, most of us can barely imagine our clergy standing so firm. Quiet compromises and jargon-filled “solutions” will be a grave temptation to a Church ill-prepared for persecution.
The older form of Mass formed the priests and laity of the missions to 16th c. Japan, to the cities and countrysides of 18th c. France, 20th c. Mexico and Spain, among others.
I ask you: Is the preaching at your parish and the teaching in your parochial schools readying you for what is coming? Is the liturgical worship you experience forming burning hearts and backbones of adamant?
One of the element of one talk I give at conferences, etc., is that if way Holy Mass is regularly offered where you are isn’t preparing you for your death, then it is failing. The plain fact is that, even though Christ defeated the Enemy and Death once for all time, we still have to war against the Enemy, who wars on us, and we still have to die. We can mask our “daily winter”, as Augustine calls it, our fear of death in many ways. We can distract ourselves and we can soften the edges of the facts of life around us until they are fuzzy and meaningless. What we need as a remedy for our fear of death are hard and apophatic elements in our worship, which is the locus of our encounter with Mystery which transforms us, carries us across our fear into awe. Our worship must break us out of distraction and slumber and bring us to awe at transcendence, in that which is frightening yet alluring.
Dear friend, if you are not interested in all this war talk, I firmly think that war is still interested in you.
Years ago, I asked an American bishop what he thought about the state of the Church. “TERRIBLE!”, he rumbled. “What”, I asked, “should we do about it?” “The first thing we have to do is stop blowing happy gas at everyone!”… or words to that effect.
We was, of course, right.
Please give some time to Msgr. Pope’s article.
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