Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ubi es, Domine?

Melancholicus is feeling rather well this Tuesday morning of the first week of Advent, notwithstanding his ugly encounter yesterday with the conciliar church openly playing with its own faeces even within sight of members of the public.

And no, he did not make it to Harrington Street today either, but this was due to reasons of charity rather than sloth, as he had arranged to give someone a lift to work this morning at the same time as Mass was beginning in St. Kevin’s.

He has since been reflecting on the frustratingly quixotic nature of the conciliar church. Sometimes it looks so much like the Catholic Church as to deceive (if it were possible) even the elect. At other times this synagogue of Satan flaunts its true colours in the faces of its few remaining faithful without the slightest shame.

Small wonder Catholics are confused, and why so many have long since ceased to have any contact with the Church or with churchmen. Apart from the occasional spirited defence of Catholic social or moral teaching which catches us all off guard, the public pronouncements of our hierarchs are mostly insubstantial and thoroughly secular ramblings about world peace, immigration, employment, welfare, equality and suchlike, and harmonize startlingly well with the views of the Labour party on the same subjects. And the state of the liturgy is absolutely atrocious.

When was the last time, gentle reader, you heard an Irish bishop (or indeed any bishop) talk about God, or the eternal destiny of the human soul? When was the last time you heard such a bishop talk about sin, and the need for repentance and conversion (in the Catholic sense, that is), never mind the need for the sacrament of penance? When was the last time you heard a bishop discourse on the joys of heaven or the pains of hell, or on the awesome beauty of the holy sacrifice of the Mass? Well, you won’t have heard a bishop discourse on this last unless he is given, unusually, to celebration of the immemorial rite for (let’s face it), the novus ordo just doesn’t have any beauty, awesome or otherwise, on which a bishop could discourse.

Can you think of any bishop who has publicly discoursed on these things? Please take as long as you need. And Archbishop Lefebvre doesn’t count.

What does it mean to be a member of the Catholic Church? Theologically, it means one is incorporated into the mystical body of the Lord. But in practical terms, how is this incorporation realized? Does my salvation depend on my being in communion with Father Jesuit, with Bishop Arthur Roche, and with Judas Priest? How about my local ordinary, “Dermot our archbishop” (as the text of the vernacular liturgy has it)? Since his installation in 2003 what, precisely, has he done to help the Church in this rapidly sinking diocese, where the continuing decline in the number of priests and the similar decline in the number of the church-going faithful are vying to outstrip one another? Does the salvation of my soul depend on my preserving communio in sacris with such a negligent, double-tongued, equivocating, politicised careerist as this? Sure, he has done good things, such as the erection (in response to Summorum Pontificum) of the so-called Latin Mass Chaplaincy, where traditional Catholics have at least some semblance of parish life, but even this grand gesture is not untainted with the self-interest of the conciliar church since it effectively corrals the Tradition onto the ecclesiastical equivalent of an Indian reservation.

It is a matter of faith that the Church is a visible and hierarchical society. Catholics must believe this. It is also a matter of faith that the Church is a perfect society, and is sinless, without spot or wrinkle, the immaculate bride of the Lamb. This last stands to reason, since the Church is the mystical body of the Lord Jesus, and how could there be any trace of imperfection—never mind sin—in the Lord Jesus? I understand full well the distinction between the sinlessness of the Church and the sins of churchmen. But the sheer scale of the negligence and turpitude among churchmen of the present time, not to mention the fanaticism wherewith they have pursued a gospel other than that which they had received, has the effect (at least to me) of clouding the visible nature of Holy Church, at least from time to time, as though I were trying desperately to glimpse the face of the Lord Jesus under ruffled water. Frighteningly, when the water calms enough for me to see through it, it is often not the face of Jesus that I glimpse, but something quite other, ugly and horrifying. Some might say this is the disfigured, bruised and bloodstained face of the Lord crowned with thorns and crucified, and that is the reason for my horror. I say no; the crucified does not leer with the malevolence I see on this face.

And so I ask: Ubi es, Domine? Where art thou, O Lord? I feel like a man stumbling along an uneven road, soaked through with the heavy rain that has reduced visibility ahead to only the few yards in front of his face. The night is dark and I am far from home. Among the stark limbs of trees denuded by winter frosts on either side of the road I glimpse sinister crozier-wielding impostures, talking out of both sides of their mouths, contradicting themselves and each other, and beckoning me to hear them and to participate in their ghastly idolatry. One does oneself more harm than good by listening to such, and I leave them well alone, and press on through the darkness and the rain.

How does one preserve one’s membership of the Catholic Church in these trying times, when, entering a church or even simply talking to a priest, one is in constant doubt about whether one is about to have an encounter with the Catholic Church or with the synagogue of Satan? Holy Mother Church now shows herself, and now hides, and it is often not easy to find her. Her state—now open, now hidden—has become uncannily similar to that of a possessed girl—the personality of the girl herself is still in there somewhere, but the baleful influence of the demon, with its malice, keeps inexorably coming through.

Do not, gentle reader, misunderstand me. I’m not thinking of going anywhere. I’m simply trying to find the Catholic Church, still buried as she must be under tons of rubble since that devastating earthquake of 1962-65 in which countless parishes, dioceses, religious orders, schools and beautiful churches were wrecked, and in which millions of souls perished. A few years ago, galled beyond endurance by the sheer unreliability of the conciliar church with its relentless perfidy and abuses (and, it must be admitted, in the grip of a rather severe depression), I considered abandoning the Roman communion entirely for that of Anglicanism, and even had a few exploratory meetings with a rector of the Church of Ireland to that effect. But I could not bring myself to doubt (never mind disbelieve) the doctrine of transubstantiation, upon which all my adherence to the Catholic Church turns. It was the Mass and the Eucharist, far more than abstract things like papal primacy and apostolic succession, which kept me within the Church; and as the Mass is so vitally important to my life as a Christian—a Catholic Christian—I cannot bear to see it abused and trampled on with the casual off-handedness I see in so many churches in this diocese and elsewhere.

One last remark before I close this already overlong and personal post. If any bright spark reading this feels driven to leave a comment exhorting me to cleave to the SSPX as though such would solve all my problems, I have just one word of advice: don’t. Save your time, and my own. I am not under any illusions regarding that sect, or regarding those who hold authority within it.

Nor am I at all interested in sedevacantism. I recognize Pope Benedict XVI, and his office. I pray for him daily. It is true that he is, like his immediate predecessors, a conciliar pope, and that he says—and sometimes does—some disappointing things. But he is such an immense improvement over John Paul II that I cannot express how thankful I am for his election.

Herein, incidentally, we find a possible reason why our holy mother the Church sometimes appears possessed by an alien spirit. The conciliar popes have tried—without much success, in my opinion—to be pope of two mutually-antagonistic churches at the same time. Paul VI most fully embodied this unstable and precarious position—it was he, in fact, who acted as midwife at the birth of the conciliar church—but John Paul II likewise tried to be pope of two churches at once, and to serve the cult of God alongside the cult of Man, picking up the cudgels where his predecessor had left them, and with similar contradictory and chaotic results. Thankfully, I believe the tendency of the Vicars of Peter to ape the double-minded attitude of Paul VI is waning. At least let us hope so; a great deal of damage might be done at the next conclave, whereafter we might see all the careful and patient restoration work of Benedict XVI undone in a trice.

But one day at a time; right now I can’t begin to imagine such a scenario. Now it is time for me to go to chapel for my midday prayers.

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