ASK FATHER: When do traditional Catholics throw in the towel?

From a reader…


I have been engaged in a deep theological and spiritual crisis for 10 years now, struggling to remain Catholic or finally cross the Bosphorus and convert to Orthodoxy. [pffffft] It seems that with every passing day, Modern Catholicism continues its precipitous decline. How do we reverse it all? What outreach is being performed to open the closed minds of modern conservative Catholics?

Here is the point of my question: when do traditional Catholics throw in the towel? When is there a moment of realization that the Roman Church will never return to traditional worship, praxis, and teaching?

When is there a realization that no matter what they do, traditional Catholics wil not turn the tide?

I am fearful, anxious, and confused. Thank you and God bless.

Throw. In. The.  TOWEL?!?



Christ, God Man, Second Person of the Trinity, Eternal Word, Truth, Love and Light Itself founded the Catholic Church. Why would you want to belong to any other?

Is there dysfunction?  Sure.  Do you think there isn’t dysfunction among the Orthodox?  Don’t make me laugh.  I’ll take our dysfunction any day.

Hell attacks the Church – the CATHOLIC Church -that GOD FOUNDED with all its relentless fury and the Devil is very good at what he does.   The very fact that Hell attacks the Church so furiously is a demonstration of WHO and WHAT the Church is.

Today in the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite we heard St. Peter warn us that the Devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour.  It is the sole desire of the Enemy to steal souls from heaven so that God will have just that much less glory, that there will be just that much less joy.  Therefore, the Enemy targets the Church that Christ founded, through whose mediation every soul is saved.

“But Father! But Father!, some trads whimper.  “Things are – *sniffle* – going so wr-wr-wrong now!  I need a s-s-safe space and hug.”  And the Libs, agents of the Enemy that they are chortle back “HA HA FATHER! You and your stupid Zed Heads hate VATICAN II!  And we know what the spirit of Vatican II wants.  Enough with sin and guilt! Enough with verticality!  Enough with oppressive patriarchalism!  Enough with claims of ‘truth’! Aren’t all faiths the same?  We are all grown up now and don’t need any controls.  In the spirit of Vatican II go ahead and leave.  Make our job of tearing everything down that much easier.”

B as in B, S as in S.  Toughen up and RESIST what they are do to our Church.  Such enemies of God have always been in the Church.  If there are enemy armies occupying our fatherland then be the maquis!  To conscript the language of the Left we need to form our own base communities and resistance bands and fight back.

If we see someone wounded, we run fast to help.  We open our veins to give blood in times of emergency. When we see people who are on fire or being attacked, we run towards the gunfire, towards the blaze.

Prepare for battle!

Some of you are in the front lines where the clash is.  Some will be in the supporting ranks, where the binding of wounds takes place.  Some will be on supply lines.  Some will provide QRF.  Some will be on oversight.  Some will provide command and control.  We all have to step up and own who we are as Catholics and own our vocations.

We must own our missions and our roles.

If we focus on our individual pain – boo hoo hoo! – we won’t serve our cause well and we’ll let our brother beside us down..

So, put aside some food and fast.  Set aside some money for almsgiving.  Turn off some program, dig that Rosary out of your pocket and PRAY – its a mighty weapon. GO TO CONFESSION!

Let us be warriors together, not worriers separated.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "But Father! But Father!", ASK FATHER Question Box, Be The Maquis, Hard-Identity Catholicism, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. boredoftheworld says:

    In 1999, which as it turns out is several lifetimes ago, I found out I was going to be a father for the first time. The state of the Church became a serious reality for me in ways I’d never thought possible. I’ve fought the fight on five fronts now if you accept each child as a different battlefield. Thanks to the priorities of the overwhelming majority of our bishops I’m losing ground, on all fronts.

    These men, these successors of the APOSTLES, who appear to be more concerned with the temporal well being of non-Catholics, have been worse than useless in the battles for my children’s souls. I keep telling people my kids aren’t fools, they can tell real from fake. My kids KNOW that the Church, in the persons of her official ministers, doesn’t really believe “this stuff”. “This stuff” being “the Faith” my wife and I have been trying to pass on to them.

    Had we been Orthodox, at least I could say “look, here is an institution that takes itself and you seriously.” If I were to say that to my children about the Church today they’d rightly call me a liar to my face.

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    I suggest that the reader, obviously well-intentioned and trying to adhere to the truth, do some reading about the teachings of the Orthodox churches on the subject of divorce and remarriage. Some of it will strike the reader as something with which Cardinal Kasper would agree.

    Catholics do not throw in the towel. We die it purple, and use it to cover our sacred images during part of Lent.

  3. catholicgauze says:

    Because Orthodox resist modernism with their multiple marriages and doing whatever reforms Ottomans tell them to do.

  4. G1j says:

    I for one will never give up. We can continue to worship reverently and ensure we continue to use all of the gestures and postures during Mass. We can voice our concerns to our pastors when we notice new innovations creeping into the liturgy that focus on the horizontal instead of the vertical. We can learn our faith so we are able to teach the young and those wishing to enter the Church through RCIA. Pastors are a funny lot…Ours reminds us that the parish is his and things will be done his way. We have to accept his additional innovations to the Mass if we wish to receive the Eucharist. Reverent worship by the laity is contagious. What bothers me the most is how the celebration of the Mass is being changed ever so slowly. A little is sliced off here and there. We no longer recite the Confiteor, we no longer recite the Nicene Creed, we substitute the Apostles Creed instead. This shaves off a few minutes time so Mass doesn’t “take too long.” Eucharistic Prayer #2 is always used because it is short and really keeps things on schedule for the 40 minute Mass crowd. I, as well as others in our parish, often ask for the Mass to slow down a bit. Unfortunately our requests fall on deaf ears. We have to continue to pray for our priests and ensure we as laity continue to worship as reverently as we can. Try to be as active in our parishes as we can. Pastoral Council, if you have one, we had one at our parish until the pastor no longer wanted it, one less meeting for him were his exact words. Always remember why we are attending Mass…to worship and praise God. It’s not about us…it’s about Him. Keep the faith!!!

  5. Hidden One says:

    I refuse to commit the sin of schism because other people are sinning too.

    Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, pray for us.

  6. Nan says:

    I thought we could throw it in to get s better grip on our cross?

    Best take St Vetonica’s example and use the towel to wipe Christ’s face.

  7. jarocookies says:

    A song which often encourages me in moments of spiritual discouragement: raw, heartfelt, simple, and focused on reliance on God. And NOT a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s song of the same name.

  8. mysticalrose says:

    I can completely identify with the questioner and with the comments of boredoftheworld. I think something changes when you become a parent . . . I have fought against progressives in some rather acrimonious settings and it is worth it. But when it comes to raising one’s own children in this Church, well, the doubts start to creep in. I have wondered if we are on the wrong side of the Great Schism and whether the present state of the Church is proof of this. Fr. Z’s point about the devil attacking precisely this Church and not the Eastern Orthodox is very well-put and well-taken though. But should one risk the formation and salvation of one’s children in a banal or heretical N.O. when there are solid Orthodox options? I don’t know the answer to this, and fortunately since I have a good parish I do not have to figure this out (yet).

  9. jdt2 says:

    Thank you, Father. Very helpful right now.

  10. Zephyrinus says:

    Thank You, Fr.
    Next Problem ?

  11. LDP says:

    I have at times also been tempted by Eastern Orthodoxy, however I think it’s important to realise that the grass ‘over the Bosphorus’ isn’t anywhere near as green as some may think.

    First, consider the Orthodox position on divorce and artificial contraception.

    Second, the Ecumenical Patriarch – whose flock in Turkey numbers only several thousand – is himself a moderniser; the synod that he organised last year in Crete had, for example, been termed by some as the ‘Orthodox Vatican II’. Yes, the council failed, but the resulting turmoil has demonstrated the lack of unity between the autocephalous Orthodox churches: Moscow is trying to become the ‘Third Rome,’ wrestling power from Constantinople, whilst Constantinople is trying to curry favour with western liberals, leading the venerable monks of Mount Athos to reject their own ‘ecumenism-loving’ Patriarch. Not to mention the Ukrainian Orthodox trying to oust the Moscow Patriarch.

    All the while, disagreement over what calendar to use persists, with some Orthodox using the Gregorian calendar and others the Julian. Schisms have even resulted because of this, hence the Greek Old Calendarists. Further, the Alexandrian Orthodox Church has, I believe, recently decided to re-introduce some form of the ‘deaconess ministry’.

    Also, more subtle reforms seem to be creeping into Orthodox worship and practice, especially in the diaspora: pews and organs are appearing where once they were absent, veiling for women is becoming less common, regular reception of communion is becoming more normal, Church Slavonic and Ancient Greek are making way for modern languages in the Divine Liturgy. Now, I realise that we personally might view some of these reforms as trivial – or even a good thing – in comparison to our own woes in the West, but were one an Orthodox rather than a Catholic traditionalist, then one would surely be having a ‘spittle-flecked nutty’ anytime now. So no, the Orthodox Church isn’t all it’s made out to be (not that I wish to demean the Orthodox, I do have an especial respect for them and desire unity with them, but let’s just be realistic: they’re not perfect!).

  12. Ralph says:

    Orthodox- unthinkable

    But I’m honest enough to admit that where there an SPXX chapel and school in my community we would likely be gone from our NO parish and school.

  13. inviaadpatriam says:

    Mr. Flynn,

    I think that I understand the intention in your post, but I do want to offer a slight correction:

    What might be a typical Orthodox understanding of marriage and the potential for it to be dissolved is actually not at all what Cardinal Kasper and some others think of it (at least, it is not what Cardinal Kasper declares publicly). A typical understanding (and I do stress the indefinite article here, for the teaching on marriage and its potential to be dissolved is not dogmatized in the Orthodox tradition in the same manner as Catholic teaching) would be something like the following: marriage can dissolved under certain circumstances based on the Lord’s “exception” clause in Matt. 5:32, as that has been elaborated on further in ecclesial tradition. A marriage can become void through the sins of those who were married. If the marriage dies thus, the former marriage partners must repent of their sinful acts and so undergo (at least in theory; in practice, who knows…) public penance for their sin in allow the marriage to become dead, including several years of being banned from the Holy Gifts. At the end of a period of public penance, they might contract a second marriage, which can be blessed in church but using a form of the wedding service that is markedly different in its non-festive and penitential character. In any case, the teaching in sum is this: in certain circumstances, the church can recognize the death of a marriage, allow for divorce, demand that the former marriage partners repent in public (including by suffering excommunication) and eventually be permitted to another marriage. If another marriage is contracted, the parties are not viewed as adulterers inasmuch as the original marriage is considered no longer real. Note: we might disagree with this entirely, but that is the theory (as I have come to understand it), just to be clear. (If there is one among us who is more learned in Orthodox canon law, then please correct any misunderstanding that I am offering.)

    The teaching of Cardinal Kasper (and what it appears the Holy Father if certain interpretations of AL are correct) is not at all the same at the level of theory. It is this: a real marriage cannot be dissolved under any circumstances, period. But sometimes those who civilly re-marry can be admitted to communion again. Thus (if we consider the two aspects of the theory and practice together), the teaching is that sometimes people who are known to be public adulterers can be re-admitted to the Holy Gifts, even though they are understood to remain adulterers.

  14. Matt Robare says:

    Despair is one of the most powerful weapons of the Enemy.

    I know. I’ve been there. Then my friend gave me a copy of Robert Hugh Benson’s “Lord of the World” and I discovered a message he wrote in the frontispeiece. It was a quote from Tolkein “Together through the ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.”

    As important as the events of our lifetimes seem to us, in the grand scheme of things they’re nothing, except in so far as they impact our souls. We can never know in this life what fruit (if any) many of our actions will bear — few saints were rewarded with anything better than torture in this life.

    Let’s be honest: if bland liturgy, insipid music and confusing statements from Rome are the worse crosses we have to bear in this life, then it must be said that we’re being coddled in comparison with, say, Christians in Nigeria or the Middle East; the poverty, drug addiction and alienation bourne by many of our fellow Americans; or the people in Africa being forced by the United States, EU and UN being forced to embrace abortion and gender theory in order to receive needed aid.

    Think of the saints. Think of what the Lord endured in His passion.

  15. Charles Broadway says:

    You can never quit your way or retreat your way to victory.

  16. Charles E Flynn says:


    Thank you for the lengthy and detailed explanation.

    I had wanted to review what I had read online about the Orthodox teaching about divorce and remarriage, but I could not find it again. My memory of what I had read was not as accurate as I would have liked.

  17. jfk03 says:

    Things are not greener on the Orthodox side of the Bosphorus. There is plenty of in fighting and division over there. The best solution is to stay in communion with the Church of Rome and lead a holy life.

  18. stuartal79 says:

    Boreoftheworld, the worse interpretation of A.L. is still preferable to the Orthodox teaching on marriage. The Orthodox can also be fairly lax on contraception.

  19. joekstl says:

    Boredoftheworld states: These men, these successors of the APOSTLES, who appear to be more concerned with the temporal well being of non-Catholics; and goes on to state our bishops don’t believe the “this stuff” meaning our faith. I don’t know what is meant by the temporal well being of non-Catholics. What I do know is that in our Diocese and parish we come together each Sunday to worship and be nourished with the body and blood of Jesus. Then we are sent to “all nations” to preach the Good News. And our parish takes the Gospel to mean implementing the criteria for the final judgment as found in Matthew 25. – which deals almost exclusively with the temporal well being of our brothers and sisters. “All nations” would include “all” – Catholic or not.

  20. benedetta says:

    Things are way weird, it’s true, but running away from it will not help things, nor will excessive worrying. From experience. It can be difficult to face the reality, but then, facing the situation with all the limitations and problems can often really give rise to creativity and strength. Through that process one can often discover options and possibilities that did not previously seem to present, and find the resources to do what is needed to take a good step forward. Recognizing the reality objectively and considering concrete, practical options does not mean giving way to worry and fear. One does not need to engage in denial of what is occurring, that’s certainly not helpful to anyone, but with objectivity look at whatever is presenting as the most concerning problem given one’s responsibilities and life and then address it with even some seemingly small, undramatic, and seen by the world as “useless” but nonetheless time tested solid Catholic sorts of remedies always available. When one thinks about it, there are myriad of these, and when one thinks about it some more, if one is able to, and I realize at times it can be very trying, but one can also be thankful for these which seem not really that valuable or powerful given the forces of evil arrayed against Holy Mother Church. Even these meager attempts we might make, will be blessed by God, with sometimes very surprising, uncalculated, far surpassing expectations sorts of results. The things we feel we need, need, need, may be yes in some senses really important and crucial, but in fact are not required for the actual daily walking the path of universal holiness. We have to give God room and opportunity to act and be involved with our lives. If we trust that something important gets taken away, He will not betray us. Faithfulness is His trademark, it is His characteristic. Trusting will only help us over time as difficult, extremely difficult, as it may be. He certainly does not will confusion, terrors, threats, deprivation of teaching and sacraments, closing or failure of parishes or worse still. There is no perfect human institution but He has given us the way forward acknowledging that we are flawed, that we are going to need forgiveness, that our freedom is not something God has taken for granted. It is a battle, like Fr. Z says. Like Gandalf says.

    I think it is very ok for us to disagree with certain things. And I think it is also very correct for us to act for the good of our own souls and those entrusted to us to defend what is good, holy, true, and beautiful, where we live. I think that this is what we should be concerned with first and foremost. Parents in particular in raising good children of character in the Church are literally saving the world. That is a phenomenal calling but it involves a lot of really disrespected and unpaid and unglamorous moments, pretty much thankless. It’s a tremendous paradox. If we all were to concern ourselves with our little areas and our own private beautification projects in our domestic churches, well, my sense is that a lot of the nonsense we are suffering through currently as far as churchly confusion will be kind of dust in the wind in a generation or two. If you look around at certain areas, you will see a lot of hope for the Church, in terms of like brute fortitude, harkening to the Greatest Gen, not seen lately or in a long time, and, they are really not going to be appreciating the Marty Haugen routines in another twenty years. There are already and will be a lot of seriously well equipped laity who are already running a lot of things and will be increasingly. Anecdotally, in an area that has been a boondoggle for weird liturgy, like an epicenter for a long time, I have heard through the grapevine that in building a new sanctuary a bunch of parishioners stood up and said “Hey this time, spending the money, we want something far more traditional than the barn thing we had these last forty years” or to that effect. And so it begins. If you host a town hall, people will show up and they will say ” We want the good stuff”. It’s only going to continue and increase and build. What we’re going through is just a phase of temporary weirdness.

  21. teachermom24 says:

    I am a convert to the Catholic Church 2004, formerly LCMS Lutheran. We raised our four children as Catholics (now ages 27-17) and all are faithful Catholics now, one discerning a vocation to religious life. How did we do it? Homeschooling and focusing on the “domestic church”. We kept them out of the world long enough to form them properly so that they could go out into the world and be salt and light in a darkened world and church. We have been in northwest Tennessee for the past 9+ years, certainly no haven for Catholic orthodoxy–quite the opposite! But here we are, and we are fine.

  22. Chon says:

    The Russian Church and the Papacy, by Vladimir Soloviev, is the book that convinced me to return to the Catholic Church after a five year experiment with eastern Orthodoxy. It’s published by Catholic Answers, and is a condensation and translation of the original French book, written by the famous Russian Orthodox convert to Catholicism.

    You might want to try one of the eastern Catholic parishes or monasteries that are working hard at regaining their own liturgical patrimony. Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin, comes to mind.

    All the best to you…

  23. stephen c says:

    We need to pray for the powerful leaders of the Orthodox who teach falsehoods regarding divorce and contraception; many Orthodox Christians see those falsehoods for what they are, but not enough of them do, and many of the leaders are misleading their flock in a sad way. But we also need to pray for our poor foolish elderly Pope, who refuses to defend the innocent unborn with any fervor: whatever badly written footnotes there may be in the poor man’s cherished and proud writings, his obvious lack of true concern regarding the ongoing massacre of the unborn is the greater scandal, and certainly one of the greatest scandals there has ever been in the history of the Papacy. Everybody knows that but few are willing to say it. While we are at it, perhaps we can pray for the Dominicans – nearly every Dominican is holier and nicer and wiser than me, but sadly they constantly repeat that which is not true about the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and perhaps we can pray for the Jesuits who often have so much love in their hearts but who have so often abandoned their oaths of loyalty to the truth…. And for me, of course. I certainly would prefer to live in a world where the Dominicans loved the truth more than I do, where the Jesuits loved Jesus so much that one is amazed, and where the Pope was without a doubt holy and full of compassion and love for the Church. I don’t think I live in such a world. Maybe I am foolish and I do live in such a world, or maybe I am not: in either case we need to pray for each other.

  24. Makemeaspark says:

    Dear Fearful, anxious and confused, I know several friends that travel a long ways to find a faithful mass in the Extraordinary form. There is that solution.
    I have one friend in Florida who gathered like minded Catholics and they lobbied the local Bishop until he gave them a priest and they had to find their own location, they did it. Many of them travel a ways to make it to their EF parish.
    In my parish we got a Charismatic priest who is very committed to the move of the Holy Spirit and he provides one mass each week (11 am) that is ordinary form, but celebrated Ad Orientem, and has loads of latin and chant. We are planning to restore a high altar soon, and have been slowly adding statues and embellishments to the simple sanctuary. This is awesome. SO as Fr. Z says Brick-by-brick, it is happening. Tabernacles are being restored to have pride of place in sanctuaries, parishes are trying experiments in saying mass “toward the Lord”. Yes its slow and may not be visible from where you sit on Sunday, but be of good courage. Post stories about this kind of progress on your facebook page, instagram it, tweet it, plant seeds in conversations. Be part of the solution, even in small ways. Thanks.

  25. inviaadpatriam says:

    Dear Karl,

    I’m not really sure about what you are asking of me. The following might be what you are after, but again I am not sure: in this part of my previous post, I am merely pointing out that, according to AL as interpreted by some conferences of Catholic bishops (whether rightly or wrongly—I hope wrongly), two points are accepted at once: on the one hand, that a sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved. On the other, that some who are civilly remarried (though not to the partners of their sacramental marriages; i.e., that some who are adulterers and intend on remaining as such) can be admitted to communion. If you put the two points together logically, the teaching being offered by them is effectively this: in some cases, those who live in adulterous relationships can be admitted to communion. Please mind you, I do not support this teaching nor offer it as my own, nor think it is that of the Catholic Church (at least, historically speaking, that has not been Her teaching). I merely offer it as what seems to be the logical conclusion of what AL would offer should the interpretations of it given by certain conferences of Catholic bishops be deemed correct (but, in the words of Romans 3:4, “God forbid” that such a thing should be.)

  26. inviaadpatriam says:

    Dear Mr. Flynn,

    You are very welcome. I would again note, however, that I am not an Orthodox canonist, and stand to be corrected (and I hope that, if one here can do so, that he or she will). I rely for my generalization on some articles that I have read before in journals, but I have not engaged in some of the serious canonists of the tradition (e.g., Theodore Balsmon, Alexios Aristenos, and some of the others) on this question myself.

  27. greenlight says:

    “When do we throw in the towel?”

    Yes of course, we should never give up. But a better question might be: HOW are we supposed to fight when all too often we are lay people fighting against priests, bishops, and even, seemingly, our own pontiff? A friend approvingly reposts some drivel from Fr. James Martin. I take issue with it. The response is essentially “Who are you to argue with a priest in good standing who’s just been specifically appointed as a consultant for the Vatican Secretariat for Communications?”

    Who indeed? Yes, we should fight but HOW do we fight?

    [Really? I told you! So, put aside some food and fast. Set aside some money for almsgiving. Turn off some program, dig that Rosary out of your pocket and PRAY – its a mighty weapon. GO TO CONFESSION! “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed….” Get to it. And when you think it isn’t working. Get to it more. And then more.. and more… and more….]

  28. JARay says:

    Several years ago there was an excellent article on the web-site “Christian Order”. They are strong SSPX people and the article was called “Eastern Orthodoxy Unveiled”. It was written by James Larsen and it takes Eastern Orthodoxy to pieces bit by bit. It shows their dodgy Theology which includes a total lack of understanding of Original Sin and the need for Baptism. Their ideas about Grace are very dodgy and their ability to accept divorce and re-marriage are both ideas which no faithful Catholic could subscribe to. You may like their liturgy and their Slavonic chant but those are no reason to depart from the one true Church instituted by Jesus Christ.
    There are times when I take out my copy of this article and re-read it just to remind myself that I could never be one of them!

  29. JGavin says:

    Rosary and devotion to the Sacred Heart!

  30. greenlight says:

    I was unclear. I acknowledge all those recommendations and understand that they are ultimately far more efficacious than anything else we do. But we still have to dialogue with those who are being led astray and I don’t understand how we can debate convincingly when these doctrinal differences go all the way to the top. Prayer and fasting are important. More important than winning a debate. But we still have to verbally defend the faith and by what authority do we do that when it’s our word against Fr Martin or their bishop or the pope?

  31. Charles E Flynn says:


    Thanks again.

    My error and your response have at very least made it clear that the subject of divorce and remarriage in the Orthodox churches is worthy of serious consideration for anyone thinking of leaving the practice of the Catholic faith for one of the Orthodox churches.

  32. JabbaPapa says:

    boredoftheworld :

    My kids KNOW that the Church, in the persons of her official ministers, doesn’t really believe “this stuff”. “This stuff” being “the Faith” my wife and I have been trying to pass on to them.

    Except that the Church is every Catholic, not just “the persons of her official ministers” — if you are teaching what the Church teaches, then you are teaching what the Church believes, regardless of whatever your parish priest(s) and Bishop(s) may have been doing during that period.

    You and your wife are not “less Catholic” than any clergy.

  33. marie6566 says:

    Thank you Father. By praying and fasting we let go of our pride and our quitting talk and hold on to God’s promises. Traditionalism shouldn’t lead us away from the truth, or run from suffering. In the Bible reading today Jerimiah reminds us God will come to our aid. Read the lives of the saints, too.

    I have seven children. I praise God for his amazing grace in helping my husband and I raise children who have kept the faith. Keep close to Mary, our Blessed Mother, pray the rosary daily as a family. We pray daily to St. Joseph to be the patron of our family. He has always come to our aid.

    I feel sad to know that someone is bored of the world. It is a beautiful world, and I refuse to believe that God would ever abandon his church. I thank God for the holy priests and bishops that are leading us into the battle. Thank you for your amazing help, service to God, and leadership during these confusing and frightening times. I am reminded that discouragement comes from the devil. I am always encouraged reading this blog. It helps me to understand the beauty of the traditional Mass, to be reminded to get my family to confession and to have hope!!!

  34. Imrahil says:

    Dear Karl,

    How you can demand the dear inviaadpatrem to, quote, “recant” when all he did was to explain Cardinal Kasper’s understanding of AL, not (even) agreeing with it. A reasonable discussion needs not to have to cover itself under a torrent of disclaimers.

    And for another thing,
    I do not like it, but I feel someone’s got to say it. All the more since you run into strange sorts of sinful thought about rejecting our Lord at the Judgment.

    Give. It. A. Break.

    Not everything in the world is related to the sad issue with you and your wife. And her fault is btw. not Christ’s nor the Church’s fault. And that she is obliged to come doesn’t, from all that appears, actually make her come back. People sometimes do not do what they’re obliged to; and that’s not Christ’s fault, insert expletive!

    All right, enough of that. (And I didn’t even use cappitals.)

  35. TrueDevotions says:

    I have an old friend, who regularly tells me to remember, that the mystical body of Christ must pass through the same passion that Christ passed through. She recently rang me to tell me that she believes that we are at the stage where Christ is being nailed to the cross.

    As regards the behaviour of modern day bishops, she tells me not to be surprised but to look to the behaviour of the first bishops at the time leading up to the crucifixion. They all ran away. They all abandoned their master. They threw in the towel, so to speak. Peter, the first pope, eventually followed at what he thought was a safe distance and ended up denying His master three times as Our Lord had warned him he would do.

    Only one apostle was at the foot of the cross on the day of the crucifixion and we can learn a great lesson from him. St John, when he ran away at the time of Christ’s arrest, ran to Christ’s Mother Mary and with Mary, he ended up at the foot of the cross.

    When the going gets tough, run to Our Lady, she will sustain us at the foot of the cross so that we too may share in the joy of the resurrection. In this regard may I recommend the simple devotion from St Bridget of saying seven Hail Marys each morning in honour of Our Lady’s seven sorrows.
    God bless.

  36. Kerry says:

    TrueDevotions, yes, Mary and the Rosary.
    greenlight, perhaps ask your friend who” approvingly reposts”, “What would Athanasius do?”

  37. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I often think of the dear Holy Family, who remained true to God and true to their Jewish faith, even in the face of the Roman occupation, and in the face of the corrupt power of their kings (Herod, etc.), as well as of the Sanhedrin – which may be thought of as analogous in some respects to our own USCCB or to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Many of those very Sanhedrin either argued in favor of condemning an innocent man (Our Lord) in order to save their people from Roman reprisal, or allowed themselves to be swayed by such vicious arguments (that is, to do evil that good may come of it).

    Evil and corruption were at play in every institution – both temporal and religious – that governed many aspects of the lives of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph during their times here on Earth. And of the Apostles’ lifetimes. And of the lifetimes of the Church Fathers. Even so, God was ultimately in control and ultimately His plans and His holy will prevailed through it all.

    Each member of the Holy Family knew this, and acted accordingly. Each of the Apostles, and the early martyrs knew this, and acted accordingly. As did the Church Fathers, many of whom preached, wrote, prayed, and fasted at a time when the barbarians were destroying Rome itself and ravaging all the known world, and the Church was infected by Arianism and other heresies. Even many priests and bishops were going over to the heretics, and making life difficult for true Catholics. (And we think *we’ve* got it tough! Which we do, but not as tough as those folks.)

    I think of Our Lady, who remained a faithful Jew, even after the Jewish authorities were complicit in the murder of her Son. Remember, instead of attending fully to the body of her Son, as any mother would wish to do, she went away with John and the other women to observe the Sabbath with the intention of returning to Him on the third day.

    And she remained faithful to God, even in the face of Her Son’s hideous and prolonged torment at the hands of the pagan Romans. As she had remained faithful in the face of a lifetime of pagan Roman insults, verbal and physical. On her way to and from the market and the well, the brutal pagan Roman soldiers who passed by were not above pushing and shoving a mere Jewish woman, just because they could. Maybe kicking her so that she fell down. And the soldiers probably laughed. And trying to lift the hem of her veil and trying to paw at her, because they could. Maybe they stole her few market items or grabbed her water bucket out of her hands, and took it for themselves. I assume Our Lady had to endure much. And maybe Saint Joseph was with her some of these times, and took this kind of abuse, too. And the youth Jesus, as well. And the entire time, Our Lady, Our Lord, and Saint Joseph were well aware that the Jewish authorities were often complacent in the face of such abuse. Why didn’t God intervene and strike these men – all of them – with a lightning bolt? They were the Holy Family – why did they have to put up with this?

    The Holy Family endured because they knew that God was on His throne, and they trusted Him. Maybe much of the time, the Holy Family were not in much of a position to do *obvious* battle with the pagan Romans or with the corrupt Jewish religious authorities . . . but, they were in a position to do *spiritual* battle, by praying, by fasting, by trusting in God, and by encouraging, assisting their fellow faithful Jews all they could, and by preaching and teaching to the people of God who had not yet heard, but who were willing to listen.

    When the way seems shut against our ability to go up against the wicked and the corrupt within the Church in word and deed, we can yet draw closer to the Blessed Trinity and to Our Lady and to the Saints, and ask for their help.

    As the great Apostle asked, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

    And it is the time we spend in prayer – before the Blessed Sacrament, if possible – that imparts to us the courage and the power to do battle in word and deed against the wicked. Without prayer, without the grace of God, we can achieve no victories at all.

    So let us continue to trust and to pray, remembering the Holy Family’s example, and imitating them.

  38. Lavrans says:

    I agree that things are difficult right now. However, there is a need for tradition-minded Catholics to pray, fast, and work harder, not give up. For my part, I work in, what at times, seems like two worlds. I attend and assist Masses in both the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite and the Divine Worship of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. At the parish which uses the OF Mass, it is done reverently and by-the-Missal. I help to ensure that it is and support the priest and the parish with time, talent, and funds. At the parish which uses the Divine Worship of the Ordinariate, I do the same thing. It stretches our family a bit, both in time and resources, but it is very good for my children and very good for me. I believe I am serving the Church well by doing both, and I find that in my own life, my family, and in the parishes I work at, there is “mutual enrichment” occurring. I am not a fan of the traditionalists who act not unlike some who attend, exclusively, the OF form of the Mass (the “Novus Ordo” Catholics), who are suspicious and uncharitable with the “opposition.” This division is not going to conquer the heresy of modernism which is very much alive and powerful among many in the Catholic Church. There are two primary forms of the Roman Rite of the Mass, and many other uses among smaller groups (the Ordinariate, Eastern Rites, Dominican, etc). There is indeed one Sacrifice, but it does have multiple and valid forms. The scorn heaped on the OF by some traditionalists is just as discouraging and disgusting as the scorn heaped on the EF and Ordinariate use Masses by liberals. Stop stooping to their level. Call them out, properly, when liberals go off the rails from the GIRM and the Missal. But stop calling out, improperly, those who do things properly. Sure it is a Mass which I do not prefer, but it is a Mass nonetheless. Work with it. Make it better. Attend and assist at the EF or Ordinariate Masses too. Invite people to the EF or Ordinariate Masses…and HELP THEM when they are there! Get involved too. Pray, fast, and perform works of mercy. Why let the liberals do all of the works of mercy and receive all of the accolades from the chancery and press for it. Do something other than complain and hunker! Go out and make disciples, you knuckleheads! The EF and Ordinariate Masses are beautiful. The Baltimore Catechism is wonderful. Stop bashing the licit OF Mass and start working to make it better and bring those people the to the other forms too. Get the EF Mass said at your parish too. There is so much to do. Throw in the towel? That is for cowards and lesser chumps!

  39. Dialogos says:

    I want to echo what Fr. Z. and readers have said here: If you are thinking the Orthodox Churches are a refuge, please, stop, slap yourself very very hard, and resist. Repeat as needed. I was Orthodox for twelve years before being received into the Catholic Faith. (My story can be found in the Coming Home Network’s archives.) There are beautiful elements to Orthodoxy and yes, they have valid sacraments and valid orders. What they also have is tradition held in place not by a magisterium, but by obsessive parochial pettiness; caesaro-papism and phyletism in abundance; and their largest perversity–(apophatic) self-definition as NOT-Catholic. What you will also see are growing struggles over issues like ordination of women (to the diaconate) and how “welcoming” to be to the LQBTQetc. crowd. And yes, as others have noted, while in most cases the Orthodox have high standards for the liturgy, they also permit divorce. The Orthodox like to claim that Catholics and Protestants are two sides of the same coin (and, considering the past 60 years, they do so with some justification, no pun intended), without acknowledging how very Protestant they can be in their ecclesiological chaos. I write all this as someone who sometimes misses (especially when forced to sit through insipid tunes in an OF Mass) the beauty of many Orthodox churches and the smells and bells of reverent worship, but also as someone who has made his way through Protestantism and Orthodoxy to find THE Church. Hang in there!

  40. OldProfK says:

    Psalms 141 and 142 (Douay-Rheims, going by 1859 Haydock) may also be helpful.

  41. To any who wants to understand why – in the matter of divorce and remarriage- defecting to the Orthodox Church is not a solution, I recommend the “Five Cardinals Book” in defense of marriage, tradition – Remaining in the Truth of Christ.


  42. sibnao says:

    I so identify with the questioner’s struggles. However Fr. Z is so right that we never give up. My one bit of advice is to read some detailed history of the Church. When you see what ordinary Christians in 680 or 1580 or 1780 had to deal with (Vikings killing their children, bishops becoming Lutheran and destroying altars, priests being hung from lampposts, etc) it puts our struggles into perspective.

    Hidden, living faith. We never know when ours is what reignites that of others!

  43. departing contestant says:

    I see your Gandalf and raise you

  44. anilwang says:

    I can definitely sympathize. Under the current papacy my spiritual practices have attrophied. Under Pope Benedict XVI, I was able to do the Liturgy of the Hours, a daily rosary, attend daily mass 4 times a week, and do a lot of spirtual reading both in audio books and physical books. All have mostly evaporated except the once a week daily mass. But recognize that as Our first Pope said in John 6:68, there is nowhere else to go.

    I have looked at all the modern alternatives. There is none. I’m including Eastern Orthodox. As Cardinal Newman pointed out, if you rule out the papacy, there is no principled way to say that the Eastern Orthodox are right in rejecting the Council of Florence and also right in accepting the councils that rejected the Oriental Orthodox and rejecting the Robber Council of Ephesus. Furthermore, on matters of doctrine, there is no consistency on the nature of the sacraments and even the morality of contraception, divorce and remarriage, and even ecclesiology and the nature of purgatory (some patriachates even accept that some saints can pray someone out of Hell yet they reject purgatory).

    So where does that leave you? The same place countless Catholic have found themselves….keeping faithful to a Church that *appears* to have lost its faith. The good news is that history has shown things will get better. The bad news is that you might not live long enough to see it happen. So in the mean time, your task is to fight and complete your task of becoming a saint. If you see the light at the end of the tunnel, then praised be the Lord for he can even raise up the Church even from the rocks (Matthew 3:9). If you don’t see that tunnel, then then praised be the Lord for God is faithful and the gates of Hell prevail against it (Matthew 16:15-20).

  45. The Masked Chicken says:

    I think St. Paul (or whomever wrote, The Letter to the Hebrews) answered this question 2000 years ago:

    “1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? –“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? …

    11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled; 16 that no one be immoral or irreligious like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. 18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken to them …

    22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel …

    28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.”

    In other words, in the immortal words of Peter Quincy Taggert, the commander of the NSEA Protector:

    “Never give up! Never surrender!”

    The Chicken

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  46. Mike says:

    Stop bashing the licit OF Mass and start working to make it better and bring those people the to the other forms too. . . .

    Good attitude, but a tricky proposition. The intrinsic anthropocentrism of the Novus Ordo has been the vehicle for the post-Vatican-II shift to anthropocentric doctrine and praxis. It has been largely responsible for propelling the Church’s doctrinal and liturgical institutions, and the faith of Her members, to the brink upon which they teeter today.

    Christocentric worship must be restored, with gentleness and charity but also with dispatch and in its fullness, if the monstrous displacement of God by man is to be vanquished. The longer the traditional Mass is effectively suppressed, the longer Catholics’ relationship with Christ and the Father is distorted and souls imperiled.

  47. Imrahil says:

    some patriachates even accept that some saints can pray someone out of Hell yet they reject purgatory

    It’s not so really much to the Topic, but that seems an interesting question.

    What would they mean by “hell”? St. Thomas teaches that “Hell” consists of the “Hell of the damned”, the Limbo of the Fathers (now empty), the Limbo of the children (as now speculated, perhaps empty by Special grace) and Purgatory; the hell of the damned is then sometimes called “hell properly so-called” or, in Brief, “hell”.

    And what do they mean by the purgatory they reject? I don’t know much about it, but I have seen Eastern Orthodox people hold that after death there are “customs stations” or what where you have to pay for your sins, and hastingly add “but that is not Purgatory”. I wonder if that is not Purgatory, then what do they mean by Purgatory, unless perchance that they have taken the illustrations of purgatory on the popular mind, pious and reasonable enough in themselves as they are, as essential part of the Dogma (and that as distorted by Protestants)…

    That said, a by nature exceptional (!) praying-out-of-hell would not be heretical, even where the Hell of the damned was concerned. There was for a long time a tradition, though I mean not depositum fidei when I say Tradition, that precisely this happened to Emperor Trajan… and the Catholic Encyclopedia would say: “In itself, it is no rejection of Catholic dogma to suppose that God might at times, by way of exception, liberate a soul from hell. […] But now theologians are unanimous in teaching that such exceptions never take place and never have taken place, a teaching which should be accepted”, that is to say: that the punishment of Hell is eternal is a Dogma, but that God never makes an exception from this is merely sententia communis.

    [This seems to be going astray.]

  48. Imrahil says:

    Dear JARay,

    that was a very interesting link – or rather, Connection, I went to a search engine to find the article.

    (Though they do go a bit far when in accusing Pseudo-Denys and his “infecting” the Church with Neoplatonism. There is probably no more accusation against Pseudo-Denys for impersonating Dionysius to be made than against me for impersonating the Prince of Dol Amroth, though I am not as important. But that was, I guess, just about all the disagreement.)

    Thank you!

  49. Pingback: MONDAY CATHOLICA EXTRA | Big Pulpit

  50. SanSan says:

    Amen Father! Cold water in the face! Wake up dear brothers and sisters…..stay in the Barque of Peter and hang on! Never ever give in, give up or roll over! Love Father Z and all those who KNOW the TRUTH and follow it. They are the ones saving souls. We can too……..keep PRAYING. CARE. DO. LOVE.

  51. inviaadpatriam says:

    A small update on the Orthodox canonical/canonistic tradition on divorce and re-marriage: There is a chapter in a book recently published by E. Christian Brugger, under the title “The Indissolubility of Marriage and the Council of Trent,” devoted especially to the question of the Greek traditions. I have not had time to review it in detail, but it looks helpful for those who might be interested and at least part of it is available on Google Books for those without access to the full version.

  52. Hidden One says:

    I think that the most recent book by Robert Cardinal Sarah contains within it all that one needs to know to successfully withstand and repel the onslaught of evil which we face.

  53. Seamus says:

    If a Latin-Rite Catholic were to “cross the Bosphorus,” wouldn’t that put him on the Asian side, outside of Constantinople?

  54. FloridaJoan says:

    NEVAH ! Keep on truckin ! Pray another rosary !

  55. I readily understand people feeling discouraged and even alienated because of current developments; but I simply do not understand how any of that can justify leaving the Catholic Church.

    If you have to go to a different parish, do that. I suppose it’s possible that you can’t find any Catholic parish you feel safe in attending. Maybe, but I will need a tremendous amount of convincing on that assertion. I mean, I do understand that lots of parishes feature odd things happening during Mass, or inadequate catechesis, or preaching, but are they actually unsafe to attend? A spiritual peril?

    Theoretically possible, but sorry, I’m not buying it without a really strong case.

    I’m sorry it’s hard. I’m sorry that parents have to explain things to their kids they’d rather not have to explain. Please try to be charitable toward priests and bishops when you do so — particularly, in not saying more than you need to. For example: if father says something goofy or even wrong from the pulpit, it isn’t necessary to say he’s teaching “heresy”; it is sufficient to say, “not all priests have the gift of being able to explain things clearly, and sometimes things weren’t taught to them all that clearly. Let’s look at what the Catechism says…”

    When I was in the seminary, there were problems, which have been fixed, thank God. When one of my fellow seminarians came back from a class, visibly upset over something the instructor had said, I told him, “there is nothing about this place that can prevent you from being a good, holy priest.” And I would say the same at present: no matter what you think about the inadequacies of priests, bishops, parishes, even the pope, they do not have the power to keep you from being a good, holy Catholic.

  56. chantgirl says:

    Fr. Martin Fox- I would argue that the spiritual peril enters into play not as much for the adult Catholic with a solid moral life who is firmly inoculated against modernism, but for impressionable children. I will admit that sometimes if I need to attend a Mass that has abuses, I will often not receive Communion since I am distracted and perhaps angry by the time Communion happens, but I don’t lose my faith over it. However, as the parent of small children, I would say that the children are much more easily influenced by what they see. They notice when the parishioners, or God forbid, the priest, don’t seem to be taking Mass seriously. Sometimes, even more than abuses, I think children pick up on the vibe of a Mass. If it seems casual, if the people seem casual, children will come away with the impression that what they just did was no more important than going to the grocery store. That is the real danger. They will decide that Mass and religion are only trivial things that children have to do because their parents force them, but that even the adults don’t really take it seriously. On the other end of the spectrum, children really notice pomp and circumstance. They are intrigued by uniforms, by ceremony, and they tend to take Masses which have these things more seriously, because, by all accounts, it looks like something important.

    All of the discussion we can try after a Mass will not convince children that what they just saw was important if it did not look important. Of course externals aren’t everything, and adults can have their mind in a different place even when they are outwardly doing things reverently, but I think externals are the first and most efficient means of evangelizing children.

  57. Chantgirl:

    I understand what you are describing. I sympathize. Nevertheless, I maintain that leaving the Catholic Church is not a remedy (not that you said otherwise).

    Also, do not underestimate the power of your own example.

  58. chantgirl says:

    Fr. Martin Fox- Agreed about not leaving the Church. “To whom shall we go? You alone have the words of everlasting life.” I would just encourage parents and those scandalized by their local parish to do whatever it takes to find one which is a safe, spiritual refuge, even if it means changing jobs or moving. It seems that the firestorm in the Church is only increasing, and it would be great if we had the most children possible growing up in a functional, sane, and reverent Catholic parish. It doesn’t guarantee that they won’t leave the faith, but it gives them a fighting chance.

    Thank you for your priesthood and your witness, Fr. Fox. As for my own example as a parent, few things keep me up at night like having to answer for the souls of my children!

  59. Maineman1 says:

    Some folks have commented that because the Roman Catholic Church is enduring these theological battles, that proves it is the one true Church of Christ.

    The Anglican Church is enduring fierce theological debates and doctrinal battles, whereas,the traditional Anglicans of the ACNA and GAFCON battle the western progressives.

    So does that mean they are also the true Church of Christ? In fact, most Protestant churches are riven by divisive internecine theological strife.

  60. Maineman1 says:

    Can people please link to the official websites of the Canonical Orthodox churches wherein they openly endorse and promulgate multiple marriages and contraception?

  61. Maineman1 says:

    Fr. Martin,

    You stated, “I mean, I do understand that lots of parishes feature odd things happening during Mass, or inadequate catechesis, or preaching, but are they actually unsafe to attend? A spiritual peril?”

    You soundly answered your own queru. Yes, such parishes are spiritually unsafe to attend.

  62. Maineman1 said:

    You stated, “I mean, I do understand that lots of parishes feature odd things happening during Mass, or inadequate catechesis, or preaching, but are they actually unsafe to attend? A spiritual peril?”

    You soundly answered your own queru. Yes, such parishes are spiritually unsafe to attend.

    I strongly disagree. Inadequate catechesis does not make a parish “unsafe” — you are entirely free to skip it. And I would say the “odd things” at Mass, or preaching would have to be rather extreme to justify that assessment.

    I’m sorry these things happen — I’ve experienced them myself. I know they happen at parishes in my own diocese. But when you know these things are wrong, you are effectively inoculated against them. Yes, keeping your temper and restraining your facial expressions and comments is a trial, but it will strengthen your virtue. It will not “harm” you.

  63. RJBennett says:

    Great blog entry, absolutely GRRRRRRRRREAT!

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