Thoughts on the Synod: Saruman v. Ents, Orcs v. Fangorn

I am receiving one cri de coeur after another.

Lots of people are confused and angry and sad about what they are hearing.  Instead of firm foundations from bishops, we got sand.   Yes, can can make cement with sand, but right now it is nothing but sand.  Still, we have choices to make.  Leave it be sand or make cement?

Thus, I have received comments and notes such as this:

Well, how about that. Those of us who have lived and, according to Church teaching, in frater-soror partnerships, until the good Lord saw fit to resolve our situations Himself have been what the English call right mugs, haven’t we? Oh, I suppose the ban on communion in remarriage after divorce, that was right five minutes ago but it’s going to be wrong now? Or perhaps Our Lord was only joking, yes that must be it, ho ho ho, what fools we have been!

Sorry, Father.Sorry, Father.

No need for “sorry”!

That’s exactly the sort of thing that I am hearing from a lot of people right now.

Time and again in recently history faithful priests felt kicked in the teeth for preaching Catholic doctrine.  Day after day for a while there they were called every name in the book.  They were labelled as rigid and doctrinaire, without compassion.

Now, faithful lay Catholics, suffering in certain ways related to their relationships, also feel kicked in the teeth.

The cumulative effect is that people – including priests – start to doubt why the hell we have been fighting for all this time?

Friend, I understand your frustration. But… we must persevere!

Here is another note I received:

Please notice how parents just got thrown under the bus:

“it is therefore necessary to discern which forms of exclusion that are currently in practice in the areas of liturgical, pastoral, educative, and official responsibilities can be eliminated. ”

So, if I expect my kids will be taught by Catholic school teachers and parish catechists who are NOT in a public state of mortal sin, I’m out of luck? Maybe not – my own bishop is quite solid. But it sure looks like this passage means public adulterers ought not be excluded from teaching the Faith or in Catholic schools. Like that’s really going to strengthen our identity and effectiveness….

The members of the Synod could have made clear statements that, in themselves, would also encourage the Catholic faithful in addition to advise the Holy Father about what he might address in his own document.

They could have.   They didn’t.

It is true that the document “could have been worse”.   62 people survived the Hindenburg, too.  So, it was not as bad as it could have been.

What I want all of you to do now is… calm the heck down.

I have in mind a scene from the written version, real book The Lord of the Rings, not the wussified movie from the people who really didn’t get the book at all.

Sound and fury surrounded this Synod, much like the hurricane of violence unleashed by the Ents on Isengard.  Lay people and clergy with them did manage to stop the Kasperites.  It is interesting that the German newspapers say this was a defeat.  That’s enough for me.  Anyway.  There is this vast tumult surrounding Isengard and then, suddenly, it stops.  Bam.  Silence.  And from the tower comes the single little laugh of Saurman who really doesn’t know what sort of deep doodoo he is really in.

The hobbits recount the destruction of Isengard…

‘As soon as Saruman had sent off all his army, our turn came. Treebeard… went up to the gates, and began hammering on the doors, and calling for Saruman. There was no answer, except arrows and stones from the walls. But arrows are no use against Ents. They hurt them, of course, and infuriate them: like stinging flies….

‘When Treebeard had got a few arrows in him, he began… to get positively “hasty”, as he would say. He let out a great hoom-hom, and a dozen more Ents came striding up. An angry Ent is terrifying. Their fingers, and their toes, just freeze on to rock; and they tear it up like bread-crust. It was like watching the work of great tree-roots in a hundred years, all packed into a few moments.

‘They pushed, pulled, tore, shook, and hammered; and… in five minutes they had these huge gates just lying in ruin; and some were already beginning to eat into the walls…. I don’t know what Saruman thought was happening; but anyway he did not know how to deal with it.’….

‘He seems at one time to have got round them, but never again. And anyway he did not understand them; and he made the great mistake of leaving them out of his calculations. He had no plan for them, and there was no time to make any…. As soon as our attack began, the few remaining rats in Isengard started bolting through every hole that the Ents made. The Ents let the Men go, after they had questioned them, two or three dozen only down at this end. I don’t think many orc-folk, of any size, escaped. Not from the Huorns: there was a wood full of them all round Isengard by that time….

‘When the Ents had reduced a large part of the southern walls to rubbish… Saruman fled in a panic….

‘When Saruman was safe back in Orthanc, it was not long before he set some of his precious machinery to work. By that time there were many Ents inside Isengard… they were roaming about and doing a great deal of damage. Suddenly up came fires and foul fumes: the vents and shafts all over the plain began to spout and belch. Several of the Ents got scorched and blistered. One of them, Beechbone I think he was called, a very tall handsome Ent, got caught in a spray of some liquid fire and burned like a torch: a horrible sight.

That sent them mad. I thought that they had been really roused before; but I was wrong…. It was staggering. They roared and boomed and trumpeted, until stones began to crack and fall at the mere noise of them…. Round and round the rock of Orthanc the Ents went… storming like a howling gale, breaking pillars, hurling avalanches of boulders down the shafts, tossing up huge slabs of stone into the air like leaves…. I saw iron posts and blocks of masonry go rocketing up hundreds of feet, and smash against the windows of Orthanc. But Treebeard kept his head. He had not had any burns, luckily. He did not want his folk to hurt themselves in their fury, and he did not want Saruman to escape out of some hole in the confusion. Many of the Ents were hurling themselves against the Orthanc-rock; but that defeated them…. [They] could not get a grip on it, or make a crack in it; and they were bruising and wounding themselves against it. So Treebeard went out into the ring and shouted. His enormous voice rose above all the din. There was a dead silence, suddenly. In it we heard a shrill laugh from a high window in the tower. That had a queer effect on the Ents. They had been boiling over; now they became cold, grim as ice, and quiet. They left the plain and gathered round Treebeard, standing quite still. He spoke to them for a little in their own language; I think he was telling them of a plan he had made in his old head long before. Then they just faded silently away in the grey light. Day was dawning….

‘They set a watch on the tower… but the watchers were so well hidden in shadows and kept so still, that I could not see them. The others went away north.’

My friends, you are the Ents and the trees of Fangorn which went to Orthanc and to Helm’s Deep. When you band together and get into action you can do anything and the Enemy had better flee.

Be cool. Be watchful. None of this is over.

They are not going to win.  They have not seen your true strength yet.

We are now playing the long game.  We outnumber them.  We will not quit.  We will prevail.

It does out side no good to freak out and do things that will both help the enemy and weaken our identity.

Stay frosty.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Be The Maquis, Cri de Coeur, Semper Paratus, Si vis pacem para bellum!, Synod, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jfk03 says:

    In last Sunday’s sermon, our priest reminded us that things have been worse. Like in France, right after the French revolution, when priests were forced to sign pledges to support the atheistic government.

    God will prevail. I am comforted by the words of St. Paul: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” (Gal. 1:8.) St. Paul did not pussyfoot around. There is only one Gospel . . . the one preached by Jesus Christ and his apostles.

  2. Benedict Joseph says:

    Is it possible the decay and decomposition effecting the Church and the culture stems from self-contempt arising from a hopeless guilt. While the guilt is absolutely justified, it is inordinately magnified by an unacknowledged “practical atheism” – Catholic, protestant, Jew, et al. It is impossible to shed this self-contempt without the sacraments. When the nominal faithful cannot stand their self, what better way to escape the pain than to join the secular collective where the “self” contempt is diluted in the collective?
    Is the reprehensible comportment of the secular materialists in the hierarchy toward the laity (perceived incapable of realizing the deception of the “back door” maneuver), grounded in a contempt for the human person, made in the image and likeness of a God now believed non-existent, and utilized only as camouflage?
    Besides the debasement of the teaching of Jesus Christ, presented clearly in Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the magisterium of the Church, the great scandal of the synod is that members of the hierarchy believe they can deceive the faithful, whom they see as nothing better than groundlings, lemmings, “dumb, eh?”

  3. chris_R says:

    I have calmed down. I actually thought it would be worse but was hoping for better. What happened with this Synod is nothing new. We have received sand instead of cement before and we may well again, but we have the luxury of being 2000 years out with the ability to know the Truth and to act accordingly. Still sad to recall lines in movies and TV, such as that one on HBO’s “The Sopranos” where a line in one episode referred to a bad group “That breaks more rules than the Catholic Church.” I remember when the long-accepted discipline of no meat on any Friday (which I still follow as much as I can) was suddenly and seemingly erased, leaving no Friday obligation at all (as it was reported all over) became the fodder for the likes of George Carlin, just waiting for a chance to bash religion, who made it a point to ask in his stand-up monologues, “What about all those guys who are in Hell on a meat rap?” People by and large, it seemed, stopped taking lots of things spiritual seriously after that, but many understood and refused to abdicate. We have the freedom to make the right choices regardless of what this Synod does and not worry about come what may. The graces to that have brought us here today, after 2000 years, where every known enemy has tried to destroy the church and has failed. We have Our Lord’s promise to be with the Church until the end of time.

    Sadly, though, I feel bad for anybody who really wants a good, thorough, complete review of a marriage case but it may only take more persistence and time to find a solid priest or bishop.

  4. Mary says:

    Pray, pray some more, fast and bet we will out live them.

  5. “We outnumber them.”


    Given that a look around in the pews of the typical parish may suggest to many that orthodox believing Catholics are greatly outnumbered.

    [Dear Henry. I know you are sensitive to numbers. Think Agincourt.]

  6. Vincent says:

    But Father..! The films were pretty great too. Not the original material, but still a lot better than the vast majority of the trash put out these days…

    I’m a big Tolkien fan, so I’m glad to see an analogy from the Lord of the Rings. In my book (haha, get it?!) every opinion piece is improved with a bit of Tolkien. On that note – my current Kindle (Paperwhite, of course) reading is Birzer’s “JRR Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth”. Pretty good stuff, for anyone interested (and not yet interested) in the pre-eminent Catholic author of the 20th century…

  7. ShenValleyLewis says:

    Thanks Father, I appreciated that post. Especially the Tolkien quote – that is one of my favorite passages from the book. Regarding the synod, it helps to have some historical perspective. Even ecumenical councils have issued poor decisions, or shown a failure to grasp the true challenges which the church of their time was facing. Of course the Holy Spirit ensured that they did not solemnly teach heretical or false doctrine, but beyond that they had no guarantee against the effects of human fallibility. Needless to say, that applies even more so to a synod of bishops.

    If any readers doubt what I say about the ecumenical councils, I suggest reading The Church In Crisis by Msgr. Phillip Hughes, it is a history of the councils, and quite revealing. We easily make the mistake of thinking that everything was hunky-dory in the Church down through the ages up until Vatican II. A little historical reading puts that illusion away pretty quickly.

    Our task is to shoulder our cross each day and try to imitate Christ. Whether the Pope or the bishops are doing their job properly, in the end doesn’t make much difference to our task. Yes, we need to pray and work for the building up of the Church, for liturgical renewal, for evangelization, a renewal of catechesis, outreach to confused or fallen-away Catholics, etc. etc. We have always needed to do these things and we always will.

    Pax et bonum to all.

  8. LeeF says:

    Our cross is to endure and fight this silliness with patience, forbearance and good humor. Future generations of believers will have their own crosses, perhaps much worse.

  9. Wryman says:

    We need spiritual means to fight a spiritual war.
    Is there any organized group that is trying to convince the US bishops to bring back meatless Friday?

    [Sounds like a good… poll subject.]

  10. RichR says:

    A historical side note of relevance:

    The Papal Birth Control Commission in the 60’s unanimously recommended Pope Paul VI relax the teaching on artificial birth control for Catholics. The response from the Pope was Humanae Vitae.

  11. McCall1981 says:

    I was encouraged to see this from Card Wuerl, since he is a liberal and was on the final document drafting committee:
    “There’s no new recommendation” on access to the sacraments for divorced Catholics, said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington in an interview on Sunday. “It doesn’t change the law.”

  12. Peregrinator says:

    If we are the Ents who, praytell, is Saruman?

  13. Peter Stuart says:

    Father, as an SSA Catholic who feels like the slats are getting kicked out from under him, I thank you for your support.

    There are plenty of faithful priests and lay people out here and they don’t get enough thanks. But it’s because of you that people like me don’t just say, the hell with it.

    [DAMN! I love messages like this. There are serious warriors on our side. We all have things we struggle against. Some are greater than others. These struggles makes us warriors or gerbils. Oorah!]

  14. Curley says:

    Pell is satisfied and the pope is testy. What don’t we know about what’s going on behind the scenes?

  15. rwj says:

    Thanks for this post, Fr. Z, you are the man. I finally read the Lord of the Rings a few weeks ago– great! (has anyone else ever have a synod-themed daydream featuring Pope Benedict XVI yelling: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” – that would be neat.)

    To the many truly faithful people who’s eyes glance at these comments– who may feel like they have been abandoned/taken for granted by their shepherds:
    For what its worth, this priest ordained just shy of 5 years has some life left in me– as God permits and with His help, I’ll accompany you and I know you’ll accompany me– and we’ll follow the Good Shepherd.

  16. scotus says:

    Which German newspapers you reading, Father? I’m not fluent in German so rely on Google translations, but here are the Google translations of parts of what Die Welt and Die Zeit reported.

    Die Zeit said:
    Wiederverheiratete Geschiedene können sich nach der Bischofssynode in Rom vage Hoffnungen auf eine Zulassung zur Kommunion in Einzelfällen Machen.
    Google translation:
    Divorced and remarried can do after Synod of Bishops in Rome in individual cases vague hopes of admission to Communion.

    Die Welt
    Google translation:
    Thus the participants of the Synod of Bishops in Rome voted by a slim two-thirds majority in favour of more openness in dealing with divorced and remarried.

  17. Sword40 says:

    I just watched Michael Matt and Dr. John Rao’s diagnosis on the synod. I an agreeing with Dr. Rao.

    [I saw that video. I like Dr. Rao, though he has had issues with me. I think the main historical point he leaves out is that, over time, Christ’s promise remains: Hell loses… Jesus wins. In the meantime, we are left to struggle and… as he points out properly… maybe WE have to die! I am not ready to say that anything these dopes do is disaster until Our Lord returns. It may well be that that will take at least another year, since the Cubs were bumped off. Meanwhile, I hope Dr. Rao will NOT tone down his rhetoric. We need piercing commentary like his. But would ask him also to remember that stones dropped from a great height can damage. Let us all positively promote spiritual warfare now rather than rub ourselves with dung on the sidelines.]

  18. MWindsor says:

    Ok, Father, I get your clarion call to war. Between you and Bishop Olmstead, I get it. I’ve even taken action, immediately after I heard about the synod results. But I haven’t seen anyone else taking any actions. So, you want to play the long game? You want to start a war?

    1. Never underestimate your opponent.
    2. From a non-prayer front. We can create a nice diversion by hitting many bishops with requests for the EF at the same time. Press to Rome if need be (and it will undoubtedly will be very necessary). Keep them occupied and let them know that this will be utterly relentless.
    3. Number 2 above is a great diversion – a series of jabs to annoy and get them off balance if possible. But there will need to be a wicked right cross to stagger them. And no, I don’t know what that might be.
    4. From a prayer front. Get anyone that’s organized that will help to do so in any and every way possible. Norcia in Italy, Clear Creek and Our Lady of Ephesus in the U.S., Silverstream Priory in Ireland. Every priest that reads here and his prayer groups in their parishes. Anyone that can be trusted.
    5. Our means of communications are far too accessible to the enemy. We need one of the tech-heads here to find a setting where we can talk privately. In time of war, you don’t give your enemy easy access to your plans. Loose lips sink ships.
    6. Insert your ideas here.

    We need to setup some kind of a plan before we really just jump at this. When the time comes, I don’t mind trying to contact Our Lady of Epesus and Silverstream Priory. Either I or my wife have had contact with both for several years now. Others might know them better, but I don’t mind making the contact.

    But here’s the thing. It can’t just be me and Fr. Z trying to save the Church from the forces of darkness. There need to be others. Only in the movies to superheroes save the world. In real life, it takes an army.

    Fr. Z, your reciting the Ent attack is cool. I’d forgotten about the differences between the movie and the books, to be honest. But I’m reminded now of a movie called Serenity:

    “Y’all got on this boat for different reasons, but y’all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this – they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.”

  19. MWindsor says:

    So for a #6 above (a first of many, I hope), how about a social media combat team? Voris? Rao? Who else? I don’t do social media.

  20. NBW says:

    Thanks Fr. Z.
    I’d like to add that God is in control. The devil is using his best tool on us again- discouragement. Have hope in the Lord and pray the Rosary and fast. Pick a bishop or Cardinal and pray/fast for a deep conversion to the faith for him. I will be praying very hard for the one I’ve chosen. The devil has lost; don’t let him deceive you into thinking that it’s all going to fall apart.

  21. Kerry says:

    Yesterday, Oct 25th was the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.
    Oh, and also Christ the King. Viva Christo Rey!

  22. Tiber Swimmer 2012 says:

    So, don’t be like Michael Voris and post an 11 minute video attacking the Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI?

  23. ghp95134 says:

    So we patiently wait for the “Scouring of the Shire”! I still have my sword polished and my bow ready.

    See you at Bywater.

  24. Pingback: Synod: “Instead of firm foundations from bishops, we got sand” | Biblical False Prophet

  25. joan ellen says:

    I can’t resist: ENTS…Ears to listen for good stuff; Noses to smell things that are fishy…including days other than Fridays, Throats…to speak as cheerleaders at a hockey game…and Saints to help us.

  26. Auggie says:

    Real Catholicism, while difficult in many ways, is the most beautiful thing on earth. We must reveal that beauty, that Truth, to as many people as possible. Two friends of mine became devotees of the TLM this past Sunday. Perhaps they will invite two of their friends next week… and so on…

  27. joan ellen says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for encouraging us to ‘hang in there.’ And rwj also. My Pastor said these kinds of things in his sermon yesterday.

    We fight on…with words of Truth, and other weapons not of this world…Masses, Sacraments, devotions…especially the Rosary… As you noted Fr….Our Lord has not abandoned us…we should not abandon Him.

    After following this blog, and a couple of others…there is no doubt in my mind that the Truth is in the community of the faithful…the sensus fidei.

    I see the Tradition…in need of resuscitation, Holy Scripture…in need of interpretation in light of Truth, the Magisterium…in need, History… in need of reality, Holy Archaeology… in need of removing renovations. Truth in the faithful…appears unadulterated. We know it when we see it or hear it.

    With 4+ billion people in need of the gospel…we have work to do… As Fr. John Hardon might say…”And we go on.” These kinds of thoughts and words of others keep me going. At Mass we might say Praise to you, Lord, Jesus Christ.

  28. Norah says:

    I was shocked that so many bishops voted in favour of a favourable look at communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and same-sex attracted Catholics; this explains why so many bishops sat back and let the orthodox teaching of the Faith in Catholic schools implode. They don’t believe in the orthodox Faith.

    These bishops don’t seem to understand that allowing conscience to inform decisions as to whether to present for Holy Communion is undermining the whole theology of the Eucharist. Anyone, of poor formation, whose conscience excuses them of any reprehensible act will feel free to commit sacrilege by their reception of Holy Communion. I remember reading many years ago that mortal sin deprives the soul of grace – the soul is spiritually dead and dead things don’t need to eat.

    I can only think that a shocking number of bishops don’t believe in the Real Presence and judgement which awaits after death.

  29. mrshopey says:

    I am not sure the analogy will work well for the females because they, Ents, lost the Entwives. Maybe they are off praying.

  30. juergensen says:

    This has been a demoralizing pontificate. I can’t believe that after John Paul and Benedict we have this.

  31. GAK says:

    None of this would be so bad if we weren’t living in a digital world.

    I’m sure lots of goofy bishops with goofy ideas have banded together in the past and tried to influence the Pope, who may or may not have been goofy himself in some ways.

    But now every last eye bat given by the goofs is transmitted around the world — like that — and the volume of digital info is such that the truth can be drowned out so easily, by those who want to annihilate her for good.

    This is not dismay speaking, just a fact. There were plenty of clowns running around the Church for plenty of decades in plenty of centuries. But the rest of the faithful world didn’t have to hear about them or have the anti-christs shoving the clowns in their faces.

    So. In that respect we have something new and very aggravating and even worrying to offer up. I think in some respects St. Jerome and the others envy us our post-modern century. We have it worse than they did. Which means we have an even greater opportunity for sanctity.

    Back in the day Nicholas could just tell Arias to stuff it, and that was that. Arias didn’t get to whimper all over the world via digital transmissions and build a case for why he was right and take even more sheep off the cliff with him.

  32. stephen c says:

    Tolkien is good: also, there is Bernanos, who describes the thoughts towards the end of life of one of his fictional characters “sometimes a familiar face that we see suddenly with the eyes of love makes us aware that we have been in love with it for longer than we have realized.” I have the feeling that not a few people have recently realized how much they love our threatened Church Militant. This synod has not concerned me much : I pray God will bless us with the correct results and consequences: for example, perhaps sooner than we think, abortion supporters will stop pretending to be Catholic and Christian, and many ecclesiastics of every rank who have to date not shown any real mercy to the poor unborn, so often forbidden to live a single day on Earth, will realize anew the danger of faithlessness and gladden us all by a change of heart.

  33. Tantum Ergo says:

    First, my feelings on the matter: I’m royally pissed. So are many of us, but what are we to do, just wring our hands?
    The Barque of Peter has taken a beating in this storm, this rigged fiasco called a ‘synod,’ and is listing badly to port. We can either go down with the ship, or bail.
    Pass me a bucket!

  34. Bosco says:

    This admonition and consolation comes to mind:

    “Yet he saved Lot, an innocent man who was overborne by the violence and the wantonness of his wicked neighbours; eye and ear could testify to his innocence, although he lived among men whose lawless doings, day after day, wrung that blameless heart.

    The Lord does not find it difficult to save his true worshippers from their trials, while the wrong-doers must await the day of judgement, marked down for torment; those especially, who follow the defiling appetites of their corrupt nature, and make light of authority.

    So bold are they, so obstinate, that they are not afraid to bring in new and blasphemous ways of thought, whereas angels, with a strength and a capacity far above theirs, do not bring on themselves any charge so abominable.” 2 Peter 2: 7-11

  35. Traductora says:

    We do need somebody to rally us to fight back, and it should be soon. The enemy is moving very quickly and more boldly everyday and I think Francis’ disgraceful words at the end of the Synod were a taunt because he knows he has succeeded and his opponents are too intimidated and confused to fight back. Don’t forget, he has dealt very harshly with clergy and even heirarchs who have opposed or questioned him, and he does control their living. And he seems to have his spies everywhere, so that even humble orthodox parish priests in places like Spain have somehow come to the attention of Rome, or at any rate, of the Casa de Santa Marta. As for laypeople who come to his attention, they are subjected to the court of ridicule in the press, depicted as ignorant or hypocritical or foolish and superstitious.

    I think we’ve all been bending over backwards to ignore or even deny it, but I believe that the Pope has now openly declared war and that the time for being polite about this is over. Obviously, we have to make every effort to maintain some semblance of Christian charity. But there is little to be charitable about when arguing with someone who is causing such great distress and suffering to the Church and particularly to its little ones, the humble members of the flock who have stuck with it thoroughout all the sufferings and scandals and now are being told, hey, it really doesn’t matter anyway.

  36. sahn105 says:

    @RichR. Very good connection.

  37. Cantor says:

    I fear that my feelings of this brief synod are more in line with…

    Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

  38. Gratias says:

    In a Synod on the modern family we deserved discussion of abortion, gene editing, and pornography. About gays they only talk about families that have an homosexual member that is to be accompanied, as if one of your children were afflicted. But through this loophole the progressives will drive a truck. As for cohabitation, laisser les bon temps rouler! as they say in Bourbon Street.

    Cardinal Bergoglio had a lengthy Latin American Bishop Synod Document written for him (in Spanish) in 2007 at Aparecida, Brazil. Most of the Spirit of Aparecida has been already incorporated into the Magisterium of the Church by Franciscus P.P. The present synod document is just a beginning and I fear we will see it implemented for decades to come. Cardinal Kasper did win.

    We must never give up, I know, but the answer is in the TLM. The Extraordinary Mass is only available in limited doses in the USA and France, other countries being severely starved (see wikkimissa. Entire continents such as South America are in practice devoid of the EF. En passant, one might mention the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. I guess all we can do is pray, travel far for the TLM, and put our money where our hopes are. As for writing to Bishops I have stacks of letters we sent to Cardinal Mahony, he is probably had a good laugh.

  39. Semper Gumby says:

    Thanks for the Tolkien excerpt Fr. Z, very refreshing.

    There are some bishops who seem to be inspired by ideological silliness more than the Gospel. This calls to mind Ephesians 6:12, but perhaps that is too harsh.

    The intervention by Dr. Cernea and the fortitude of the bishops confronted by Communism may one day inspire these errant bishops to reflect more fully on their pastoral duties.

    As the Church Militant, final victory is assured, even if at times we are temporarily outnumbered or outmanuvered during this age-old struggle.

  40. Tamquam says:

    A Mexican proverb from the Christeros: Christ and I are a majority of one.

  41. LeeF says:

    Take a look over at Fishwrap where MSW is positively gushing (and gushing) over how the synod was a success and a great win for the pope. And of course how evil were the 13 cardinals and their like-minded brethren. He waxes enthusiastic about the internal forum “solution”, but fails to analyze whether it will actually be put into effect by the HF and later the bishops. And not once, not once mind you, does he use the words “homosexual”, “gay” or “same-sex.” Very curious isn’t it? His piece wreaks of someone trying to put lipstick on a pig. That should make all of us here feel a little better. Note that he promises tomorrow to deal with “false narratives” coming out of the synod, i.e. more spin and lipstick.

    Also, despite all of us discussing how the mainstream left will turn on Pope Francis, which it has begun to (see article on the synod in the Spectator), MSW and the Fishwrap crowd seem to be taking a different approach, which is to to flatter and compliment (polite terms . . . others come to mind) whatever Francis does, even if he doesn’t currently grant their heretical and immoral wishes, so as to make a starker contrast with the conservative critics and perhaps make the HF more amenable to their positions in the future.

  42. Eonwe says:

    Great post father, Tolkien is a go to author for hoping that what is good and true will prevail (my favourite author too). A lot of parallels could be drawn between whats going on in the Church and LOTR. Frodo and Samewise are great models for us lay Catholics. Keep going even if hope is distant.

    On a more gloomy note, who can we say Sauruman and his ilk are, and what devices of the enemy have they been delving too deeply in? Moreover, we all know who Sauruman was controlled by…(I may be stretching this a bit).

  43. Kate says:

    First of all, I’m thankful that I have been taught by solid priests, my parents, and other who love the Church.

    The one thing I keep wondering about is the idea that “mercy” means keeping the truth from people. This is certainly not the message of Divine Mercy.

    As if we can’t handle the truth? Is that it? Like we are too weak and infantile to man up and change our lives if we are living in sin?

    When we see elite athletes persevere in their athletic training and grow stronger and faster and better, even though it takes sacrifice, discipline, and hard work, we are in awe of them. Why then do we not realize the spiritual analogy to this athleticism?

    I have had the experience in my life of going to priests for help and walking away without a solid answer. I’ve been told things like, “It’s not my place to tell you what to do” or “That’s not for me to say,” when I have asked specific questions about sinful acts. I have always walked away from such encounters feeling confused.

    When I turn to a priest for help and guidance, I expect to hear the Truth, even if it’s a hard truth. There is clarity of mind and heart that comes from having the truth explained in a simple way by a priest who loves Christ. Going to Confession and cleaning out all the bad stuff and living life a new way is absolutely freeing.

    It has been my experience that truly merciful priests explain Church doctrine and correct my sinful ways. There is no joy in mamby-pamby non-answers, but there is real joy in the Truth.

    I just don’t get why anyone would want the slippery, soft, “whatever goes” approach. It smacks of all things distasteful to me. But then again, I never like felt banners, either.

  44. WYMiriam says:


    I was shocked that so many bishops voted in favour of a favourable look at communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and same-sex attracted Catholics

    May I please add a distinction? SSA Catholics, as long as they are living a chaste (i.e., continent) life, can certainly receive Holy Communion. As a matter of fact, frequent reception of the sacraments of confession and Holy Communion are the two most solid pillars for the foundation of their striving to be holy.

    Those SSA Catholics who are sexually active. . . . that’s a whole different ball of wax. Please pray for them.

  45. Jason Keener says:

    I greatly appreciate your work, Father Z. You’ve pulled me back from the ledge of more than one spittle-flecked nutty, this recent crisis included. We should be thankful that God has given to us the True Faith. All of this nonsense will be sorted out one way or another. We must stay the course! We should also take comfort in knowing that Christ has given us the privilege of suffering for the True Faith and that the biological solution will continue to purify Holy Mother Church day-by-day. Most priests I know under the age of 40, even the Jesuits, are faithful and orthodox priests.

  46. Muv says:

    Fr Z, you could use this blog for ongoing 54 day rosary novenas. Perhaps a little item in the side bar, with the intentions, and a mention in your posts to remind people what day we are on. This way thousands could join in, and people can pray for their own intentions at the same time.

    I am on day 50 today, thanking God for the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ being upheld, and I confess that I am saying “despite the Synod”

  47. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Only in the movies to superheroes save the world. In real life, it takes an army.”

    Hey…I Am the Masked Chicken. I have been known to inspire fear in small insects and growing plants…eh, what was the question?

    The Chicken

  48. The Masked Chicken says:

    “5. Our means of communications are far too accessible to the enemy. We need one of the tech-heads here to find a setting where we can talk privately. In time of war, you don’t give your enemy easy access to your plans. Loose lips sink ships.”

    Captain Techhead, reporting for duty, sir!

    I can encrypt things so well that even your mother’s intuition would have a hard time decoding them, but, you know, that old Fish sign in the catacombs thing is really bad history. The Romans knew all about it. See, what you should be working on is telepathy…

    The Chicken

  49. The Masked Chicken says:

    Oh, the apostles rarely encrypted their messages (except St. John, but that was, partially, for literary style and who thinks that St. Peter fooled anyone by how he called Rome by a different name). Christ encrypted nothing.

    Still, if the message don’t fit, you must encrypt…or something like that.

    The Chicken

  50. MWindsor says:

    Ok. So far it’s the Masked Chicken and I against the world.

    That’s twice as many as we had an hour ago.

    Who’s next?

  51. MWindsor says:

    “Oh, the apostles rarely encrypted their messages (except St. John, but that was, partially, for literary style and who thinks that St. Peter fooled anyone by how he called Rome by a different name). Christ encrypted nothing.”

    They didn’t live in a digital age.

  52. MWindsor says:

    “First, my feelings on the matter: I’m royally pissed. So are many of us, but what are we to do, just wring our hands?”

    There are lots of good words in this thread, but very little suggestions for action. That’s really sad. One comment kinda sums it up:
    “In last Sunday’s sermon, our priest reminded us that things have been worse.”

    Is that to be our battle cry? Or perhaps this:
    “Pray, pray some more, fast and bet we will out live them.”

    Henry V would have been somewhat less effective if he’d only called upon his men to outlive the French at Harfleur.

    We have a clear call from Bishop Olmstead, and even from Fr. Z, to war. Fr. Z said, “I am determined to form a battle plan in view of what I think is headed our way.” Fine. But here’s the rub:


    Yes, prayer is going to be important for this fight. And to those called to be prayer warriors, bravo! But there are other means at our disposal to fight this tyranny. We are not confined to stand with our rosaries and let them mow us down.

    “[Dear Henry. I know you are sensitive to numbers. Think Agincourt.]”

    Fine, but did the English sit back and pray and let the enemy simply ride down the archers? No. By Shakespeare’s account:

    If we may pass, we will; if we be hinder’d,
    We shall your tawny ground with your red blood

    The sum of all our answer is but this:
    We would not seek a battle, as we are;
    Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it:
    So tell your master.

    “Our cross is to endure and fight this silliness with patience, forbearance and good humor.”

    NO!! If this church – THE Church – means something to you, FIGHT FOR IT! They will not be patient. They will not forebear. They will, however, hang you with your own good humor. Don’t give them the opportunity. We’ve sat back long enough.

    “[Sounds like a good… poll subject.]”

    A pox on your polls! Lead or organize, otherwise get out of the way. Do you want to be a later-day Charles Martel? Do so. You want to be Jan Sobieski? Do so. You have the means here. People will follow you. Martel didn’t take polls and Sobieski didn’t wait for consensus. Gather your forces, or use your pulpit here to gather forces for someone else. But for the love of God Almighty, do something!

    Sorry, Father, for being forceful. But we’ve taken polls, we’ve borne these trials with good humor, we’ve prayed – and we are still losing. The time for talk is concluded.

  53. oldconvert says:

    I know that there have been violent disagreements in the Church before, ever since St Peter and St Paul went to the mat over the issue of admitting gentiles. But it is still heartbreaking to read people talking about “our side” vs “their side”, and “the enemy”. Whatever happened to the rock, the one holy apostolic and catholic Church?

    Prayers and faith and hanging in there, that’s all we the laity have. We have been assured that in the end, that will be enough.

  54. oldconvert says:

    “catholic and apostolic”. You can see how upset I am.

  55. The Masked Chicken says:

    “You want to be Jan Sobieski?”

    Well, Leelee Sobieski played Joan of Arc on TV :)

    Now, I’m all for kicking some Catholic butt, but in butting the butt, you have but to know the buts of butting. In other words, it’s “Onward Christian Soldiers,” not, “Onward Sour Soldiers.” If St. Lawrence and St. Thomas Moore could joke in the face of death, we can be the hundred running lunatics, joyfully smashing the logic of our foes, impaling with glee their rhetoric, and painting pumpkin faces on their news releases. In the words of Mr. Miyagi, “Never trust a monk who can’t dance.”

    See, you aren’t subtle enough, Grasshopper. Ah, letta Sensei Chicken, ah, enrighten you…

    Making war with riberals is rike trying to spear water. No, no…you must ask self why is ah riberal so erusive. The secret – they are always talking about the end of things, never beginning. They always pulling off shoes rike the journey has ended. They always rook rike they win because winning is at the end of a conflict and that is where they make camp.

    You want defeat liberal? Drag them to the beginning and make them march to the end. Riberals dread one word – consistency. The skulls of many Cathorics filled with mush. They rike theological spiders spinning webs on LSD. Talking to them rike trying to find elusive semi-boneless chicken. Their theology is paraconsistent. Yet, they want truth. Can divide Catholics into three tribes: those who want truth, those who want to be the truth, and those don’t care about truth.

    How to win war? Must learn about apologetics before the retter A. Before fighting, one must rearn to fight. One must rearn to use opponent’s strength against them. One must rearn ah Logic Judo. One must devastate one’s opponent. Once fear in the heart of riberal, no can win.

    Logic Judo Lesson One:

    “There, once was a young boy who wanted to become a jade cutter, so he hired himself out to a famous jade cutter as his apprentice. At the first meeting, the Master gave the boy a piece of jade and told him to sit in the corner and study it, all day. The second day came and the boy expected further lessons. The Master gave the boy a block of jade and told him to sit in the corner and study it, all day. The apprentice was disappointed, but did as he was told. On the third day and for the following two weeks, the apprentice would show up and the Master would give him a block of Jade to study. Finally, after two weeks, the apprentice was getting tired of doing nothing but study jade and was going to confront the Master. The Master smiled at the apprentice and gave him a green stone and told him to go and sit and study it. A few minutes later, the apprentice came back and put the rock before the Master and said, “This is not jade.”

    The Master smiled and said, “That is your first lesson.”

    Wax on, wax off. Before you run headlong into battle, make sure you know the truth like jade.

    Lesson number 2, tomorrow.

    The Chicken ?

  56. MWindsor says:

    I’m not suggesting that we rush headlong into battle, Chicken. I’m suggesting that we start acting like we’re going to do battle, rather than knit.

  57. Imrahil says:

    Especially the Tolkien quote – that is one of my favorite passages from the book.

    Of course, the coolest bit has been left out:

    To Isengard! Though Isengard be ringed and barred with doors of stone;
    Though Isengard be strong and hard, as cold as stone and bare as bone,
    We go, we go, we go to war, to hew the stone and break the door;
    For bole and bough are burning now, the furnace roars – we go to war!
    To land of gloom with tramp of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come;
    To Isengard with doom we come!
    With doom we come, with doom we come!

    For the record, I second the dear Vincent that despite Peter Jackson’s deviation from Tolkien’s intent in a few instances (I’m referring not so much to, however regrettable, understandable omissions such as Tom Bombadil or the Scourging, but the gross misrepresentations of e. g. Faramir or also Denethor, or that he did not find it worth bothering with my own humble self, speaking in alias), still it isn’t right to say that he understood nothing of the books at all.

  58. MikeM says:

    If it’s of any comfort to those who feel stabbed in the back after this synod, while some have surely been unmasked as fools recently, I don’t think that it’s those of you who have taken on great challenges to live Christ’s teachings faithfully.

  59. Praynfast says:

    A sportscaster use to say, “Not so fast, my friend.” This is applicable here; it was revealed by a priest close to Pope Francis that Pope Francis will apparently write a post-synod document. Laudato si was/is bad enough.

    I’m just hoping Pope Francis doesn’t advise bishops to decrease the number of Daily Masses in order to “sustain”, “preserve”, or re-distribute wheat and grapes. Don’t put it past him.

  60. Hidden One says:

    God is not on our side in this fight. We are on His. He is the omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Let us each strive to play our own small, very small, parts in the grandest of Plans.

  61. Imrahil says:

    Correction on an unimportant point: I mixed the order up, and meant to say that excluding my own humble person (speaking in alias) is among the regrettable, but understandable, omissions – not among the things Peter Jackson really did get wrong.

  62. Pingback: Post-Synod Analysis | CruceSignatiBlog

  63. James says:

    “Kerry says:
    26 October 2015 at 6:36 PM

    Yesterday, Oct 25th was the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.
    Oh, and also Christ the King. Viva Christo Rey!”

    ## *And* of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. (Not including SS. John Fisher & Thomas More).

    If we must have secular battles, the Battle of Balaklava was also fought on this day in 1854.

    :resists temptation to mention events on this day in the chronology of the Lord of the Rings:

  64. joan ellen says:

    The problem: …It seems…We altogether, the Army…or TEAM…are scared. Our fight is not on the ground…as in soil. It it with thoughts… It is with words… It is with actions. For God. Or against God. (Against God we take to confession.) Our fight is Sacred & our fight is secular.
    Imrahil: Your words always keep me thinking higher. They ‘Inspire Higher’.
    Kate: “When we see elite athletes persevere in their athletic training and grow stronger and faster and better, even though it takes sacrifice, discipline, and hard work, we are in awe of them. Why then do we not realize the spiritual analogy to this athleticism?” And every good athlete benefits by cheers. (On this blog cheers are also known as ‘kudos’ and ‘oorahs’.).

    The ‘TEAM’ made up of many, with many Gifts & Talents. Each team member knows his or her strengths or weaknesses…likes & dislikes, what he or she is good at or not so good at. Those G & T are the weapons.
    MWindsor: “I’m not suggesting that we rush headlong into battle, Chicken. I’m suggesting that we start acting like we’re going to do battle, rather than knit.”

    Last night I went to a parish council meeting…to pray…expecting contention. Others went to do the same. I took my knitting…crocheting… What an excellent meeting it turned out to be. No contention at all. Constructive questions. Constructive responses. Thanks be to God.
    Point: There are many ‘tactics’, legal & moral’ that can be used in the game…in this fight. The best news…looking to the end…we know we win! As Hidden One & others above say.

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