Tag: authority

Iron Rations

Iron Rations posted in Eleison Comments on October 22, 2016

In military affairs, it is normal for generals and soldiers alike to have in mind rather the last war than the one they are now fighting. Who imagined trench warfare before World War I? Yet by World War II the inter-war development of tanks had made trenches obsolete. Similarly in religious affairs. The 21st is no longer the 20th century. Surely Resistant Catholics since 2012 are unwise to be hoping for anything like the establishment and expansion of the Society of St Pius X in the last century. For example, from two admirable Resistants of today come a general and a particular lament, neither perhaps altogether wise . . .

The general lament is that the “Resistance” is falling apart rather than making headway. These “Comments” often put inverted commas around the word “Resistance,” precisely to suggest that the Catholic resistance to the Conciliarisation of the SSPX is not yet any kind of organisation but rather a vague movement with a precise aim, to save the Catholic Faith, but with as yet little structure to help it to do so. However, let Resistants take heart, because while man proposes, God disposes, so that what can look like a human failure may not be a failure from the standpoint of Almighty God.

Thus in the 1970’s Archbishop Lefebvre proposed to rally half a dozen Catholic bishops so as to throw up a real roadblock in the way of the Conciliarists then destroying the Church, but God disposed differently. In this purpose of his the Archbishop would fail, but in trying he would succeed in building a worldwide treasure-house to safeguard the treasures of the Church’s doctrine, Mass and priesthood for better times. Similarly now there are Resistants proposing to build a replacement for the endangered SSPX, and their apparent weakness (at least up till now) may suggest that any such large-scale replacement is not in the plans or dispositions of Almighty God. However, in trying, Resistants are ensuring (at least for now) the survival of the Catholic Faith, which is certainly a disposition of Providence.

The particular lament is that if only the “Resistance” had schools, many SSPX parents would swell the ranks of the “Resistance” as they cannot now do, because their children would immediately be thrown out of the SSPX schools to which there is presently no decent alternative. But again, we are fighting for the Faith in the 21st, not in the 20th century. Back in the 1980’s there were still enough like-minded Catholic parents and teachers and priests to form that triangular frame within which the children almost have to grow up straight. But today? Today one learns of an SSPX boys’ school that has been in serious difficulties because of an outbreak within its walls of that sin against nature which cries to Heaven for vengeance. But what walls can stop adolescents from getting to know of that sin’s glorification among the mass of their country’s male adults, and of a new word invented to condemn the new vice of its condemnation – “homophobia”? And since when are adolescents not to imitate their adults? In fact, how can anyone run a boys’ school since the invention of the Internet, with pocket access to it? Are Catholic institutions still possible?

In today’s religious war, surely the order of the day is iron rations, meaning the soldiers’ strict necessary for survival, here to keep the Faith. This war must be won in the home, or it will be lost. God gives to parents a natural power to form their children that overwhelms by, say, five to two the power of any institution to deform them, but only as long as parents take hold of their power. A small rudder can steer a big ship, but not if the steersman lets go of it. If parents let go of their children, they cannot blame the world for steering them to Hell. And if any parents have wanted SSPX schools to qualify their children for the world rather than for Heaven, may not here be one important reason why the SSPX has slidden?

Kyrie eleison.

Archbishop Commented – II

Archbishop Commented – II posted in Eleison Comments on January 10, 2015

Before leaving Archbishop Lefebvre’s realistic remarks of 1991 (cf. the last two EC’s), let us comment further, in the hope of helping Catholics to keep their balance between scorning authority in the name of truth and belittling truth for the sake of authority. For ever since the churchmen of Vatican II (1962–1965) put their full authority behind the Church Revolution (religious liberty, collegial equality and ecumenical fraternity), Catholics have been thrown off balance: when Authority tramples upon Truth, how indeed is one to maintain one’s respect for both?

Now in the tormented aftermath of Vatican II, who can be said to have borne fruits comparable to that preservation of Catholic doctrine, Mass and sacraments for which the Archbishop was mainly (albeit not solely) responsible? In which case, the balance that he himself struck between Truth and Authority must be especially deserving of consideration.

Firstly, let us consider a simple observation of the Archbishop on authority: “Now we have the tyranny of authority because there are no more rules from the past.” Amongst human beings all with original sin, truth needs authority to back it, because it is a Jeffersonian illusion that truth thrown into the market-place will prevail all on its own without a disaster being necessary to teach reality. Authority is to truth as means to end, not end to means. It is Catholic faith which saves, and that Faith lies in a series of truths, not in authority. Those truths are so much the substance and purpose of Catholic Authority that when it is cut loose from them, as by Vatican II, then it is cut adrift until the first tyrant to lay hands on it bends it to his will. The tyranny of Paul VI followed naturally on the Council, just as by pursuing approval from the champions of the same Council, the leadership of the Society of St Pius X has likewise behaved itself tyranically in recent years. Contrast how the Archbishop built up his authority over Tradition by serving the truth.

A second remark of his from 1991 deserving of further comment is where he said that when in 1988 he tried to reach an agreement with Rome by means of his Protocol of May 5, “I think I can say that I went even further than I should have.” Indeed that Protocol lays itself open to criticism on important points, so here is the Archbishop himself admitting that he momentarily lost his balance, tilting briefly in favour of Rome’s authority and against Tradition’s truth. But he tilted only briefly, because as is well-known, on the very next morning he repudiated the Protocol, and he never again wavered until his death, so that from then on nobody could say either that he had not done all he could to reach agreement with Authority, or that it is an easy thing to get the balance always right between Truth and Authority.

A third remark throws light on his motivation in seeking from 1975 to 1988 some agreement with Roman Authority. Judging his motives by their own, his successors at the head of the SSPX talk as though he was always seeking its canonical regularisation. But he explained the Protocol as follows: “I hoped until the last minute that in Rome we would witness a little bit of loyalty.” In other words he was always pursuing the good of the Faith, and he never honoured Authority for anything other than for the sake of the Truth. Can as much be said for his successors?

Kyrie eleison.

“Marcellus Initiative”

“Marcellus Initiative” posted in Eleison Comments on November 10, 2012

After last week’s presentation of details of the “Marcellus Initiative” set up to facilitate donations to the cause of an « expelled » bishop, a few readers reasonably asked what the “Initiative” would be for. To begin with, it will cover his personal expenses of moving out of Wimbledon, maybe out of London, and then living elsewhere. Over and above those expenses, the word “Initiative” was chosen deliberately to leave options open. However, it is important that nobody should think that their donations will any time soon go to the setting up of a replacement for the Society of St Pius X or a substitute seminary. There are good reasons for not hurrying to do either.

As for an alternative to the SSPX, we must learn the lessons to be drawn from its present severe crisis. The Catholic Church runs on authority, from the Pope downwards, but our Revolutionary world has today so broken down men’s natural sense of authority that few know how to command, and most men obey either too little or too much. We have, so to speak, run out of that peasant common sense that enabled Catholic authority to function. Thus as God alone could establish Moses’ authority by a sensational chastisement of rebels (cf. Numbers XVI), so in our day surely God alone will be able to restore the Pope’s authority. Will it be by “a rain of fire,” such as Our Lady of Akita forewarned in Japan in 1973? Be that as it may, oases of the Faith remain an immediate and practical possibility, and I will do my best to serve them.

Similar arguments apply to the re-starting of a classical Catholic seminary. One cannot make bricks without straw, says the old proverb. It is more and more difficult to make Catholic priests out of modern young men, say I. Supernatural qualities of faith, good will and piety go a long way, but grace builds on nature, and the natural foundations, such as a solid home and a truly human education, are more and more lacking. Of course there are still good families where the parents have understood what their religion requires of them to put their children on the path to Heaven, and where they are doing their heroic best. But our wicked world is set upon destroying all common sense and natural decency, of gender, family and country. With the best of good will, the children of today’s social environment remain in general more or less severely handicapped when it comes to perceiving or following a call of God.

Does that mean that God has given up on his Church, or that he means to leave us without priests for tomorrow? Of course not. But it does mean that no Catholic organisation set up tomorrow to save souls can be allowed to lose its vision of the soul-destroying nature of the Conciliar Church and the modern world. It does mean that priests can no longer be formed tomorrow to have a perfect knowledge of St Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiaewhile having little to no idea of how it applies in real life today.

By hook or by crook, tomorrow’s Congregations and seminaries must keep their grip on reality, and not get lost in dreams of how “normal” they are, or need to be. Can it be done? With God’s help, yes. But God is God, and for the salvation of souls tomorrow it may be that he will no longer resort to the classical Congregation or seminary of yesterday. For myself, I shall attempt to follow his Providence in the ordaining of priests – or in the consecrating of bishops. God’s will be done.

Kyrie eleison.

Momentous Decision

Momentous Decision posted in Eleison Comments on October 27, 2012

So the exclusion from the Society of St Pius X of one of the four bishops consecrated for its service by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 is now official. It is a momentous decision on the part of the SSPX leaders, not for any personal reasons, but because of the removal of what many people took to be the single biggest obstacle within the SSPX to any false reconciliation between Catholic Tradition and Conciliar Rome. Now that he is gone, the SSPX may the more easily continue its slide into comfortable liberalism.

If the problem was merely his person, there might be no serious consequences. He is 72 years old (and “more or less gaga”) with not too many active years left ahead of him. He could be safely ignored, or further discredited if need be, and left to rant and rave in his isolated retirement. But if indeed his exclusion does mean the repudiation of that opposition to Rome which he represented, then the SSPX is in trouble, and far from resolving its interior tensions by having made an example of him, it is liable now to be racked with silent dissension or open contradiction.

This is because Archbishop Lefebvre founded the SSPX to resist the Council’s destruction of the Catholic Faith by its 16 documents, and of the practice of that Faith by the New Mass above all. Resisting the Council was built into the very nature of the Society. Now to undo a thing’s nature is to undo the thing. It would follow that with this exclusion the SSPX of Archbishop Lefebvre is well on its way to being undone, and it will be replaced by something quite different. Actually that transformation has been observable for many years. The exclusion is merely one final blow.

Not that the Archbishop was primarily, or only, against the Council. Primarily he was Catholic, a Catholic bishop, a true pastor of souls, as is clear from his writings prior to the Council. But once that unspeakable disaster for the Church had taken place, he soon saw that the most urgent task in defence of the Faith was to resist the Vatican II Revolution which was taking over millions and millions of Catholic hearts and minds. Hence his founding in 1970 of the SSPX which would use exclusively the Tridentine rite of Mass. Hence his famous Declaration of November, 1974, which was like a charter of the Catholic principles inspiring the SSPX’s resistance. Only the conversion and reversion of the Church authorities to the true Faith can justify the abandoning of those principles. And has such a conversion or reversion taken place? By no means. On the contrary.

And the future? To fill the vacuum left by abandoning the purposes of the Archbishop, probably the mainstream SSPX now hastens into the arms of Rome, especially if Benedict XVI’s conscience is driving him to end the “schism” before he dies. The bishop’s exclusion may or may not have been a pre-condition set by Rome for a Rome-SSPX agreement, but in any case it certainly favours one. SSPX priests who see clear might lie low for the moment and wait for a flock of chickens to begin to come home to roost. SSPX laity might attend SSPX Masses for the time being, but they should watch out for the moment when the transformation mentioned above begins to threaten their faith. As for the excluded bishop, any donations to him or his cause will have to wait a little until the necessary arrangements can be set up. But be sure of one thing: he is not thinking of retiring.

Hang tight, everybody. We are in for one “helluva” ride. Let’s just make that a ride to Heaven!

Kyrie eleison.

Sarto, Siri?

Sarto, Siri? posted in Eleison Comments on September 29, 2012

In a sermon for the Feast of St Pius X I found myself uttering « almost a heresy »: I wondered aloud whether Giuseppe Sarto would have disobeyed Paul VI’s destruction of the Church, if, instead of dying as Pope Pius X in 1914, he had died as a Cardinal in, say, 1974. Within the Society of St Pius X that must sound like a heresy because how can the wisdom of the heavenly patron of the SSPX be in any way flawed? Yet the question is not idle.

In the 1970’s Archbishop Lefebvre made personal visits to a number of the Church’s best cardinals and bishops in the hope of persuading a mere handful of them to offer public resistance to the Vatican II revolution. He used to say that just half a dozen bishops resisting together could have seriously obstructed the Conciliar devastation of the Church. Alas, not even Pius XII’s choice of successor, Cardinal Siri of Genoa, would make a public move against the Church Establishment. Finally Bishop de Castro Mayer stepped forward, but only in the 1980’s, by when the Conciliar Revolution was well ensconced at the top of the Church.

So how could the best of well-trained minds have been so darkened? How could so few of the best churchmen at that time not have seen what the Archbishop was seeing, for instance that the “law” establishing the Novus Ordo Mass was no law at all, because it belongs to the very nature of law to be an ordinance of reason for the common good? How could he have been so relatively alone in not letting such a basic principle of common sense be smothered by respect for authority, when the Church’s very survival was being placed in peril by Vatican II and the New Mass? How can authority have so gained the upper hand on reality and truth?

My own answer is that for seven centuries Christendom has been sliding into apostasy. For 700 years, with noble interruptions like the Counter-Reformation, the reality of Catholicism has been slowly eaten away by the cancerous fantasy of liberalism, which is the freeing of man from God by the freeing of nature from grace, of mind from objective truth and of will from objective right and wrong. For the longest time, 650 years, the Catholic churchmen clung to and defended reality, but finally enough of the engrossing fantasy of glamorous modernity worked its way into their bones for reality to lose its grip on their minds and wills. Lacking grace, as St Thomas More said of the English bishops in his time betraying the Catholic Church, the Conciliar bishops let men’s fantasy take over from God’s reality, and authority take over from truth. There are practical lessons for clergy and laity alike.

Colleagues inside and outside the SSPX, to serve God, let us beware of reacting like Giuseppe Siri when we need to be reacting like Giuseppe Sarto, with his magnificent denunciations of the modern errors in Pascendi, Lamentabiliand the Letter on the Sillon. And to obtain the grace we need in this most tremendous crisis of all Church history, we need tremendously to pray.

Layfolk, if horrors of modern life make you “hunger and thirst after justice,” rejoice if you can that the horrors are keeping you real, and do not doubt that if you persevere in your hunger, you will “have your fill” (Mt.V, 6). Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, and they that mourn, says Our Lord, in the same place. As for the surest protection against your minds and hearts being taken over by the fantasy, pray five, better fifteen, Mysteries a day of Our Lady’s Holy Rosary.

Kyrie eleison.

Reversible Declaration

Reversible Declaration posted in Eleison Comments on September 22, 2012

Not everything about the General Chapter of the Society of St Pius X held in Switzerland in July may have been disastrous, but of its two official fruits, the “Six Conditions” were “alarmingly weak” (cf. EC 268, Sept. 1), and its final “Declaration” leaves much to be desired. Here is the briefest of summaries of its ten paragraphs:—

1 We thank God for 42 years of our Society’s existence. 2 We have rediscovered our unity after the recent crisis(really?), 3 in order to profess our faith 4 in the Church, in the Pope, in Christ the King. 5 We hold to the Church’s constant Magisterium, 6 as also to its constant Tradition. 7 We join with all Catholics now being persecuted. 8 We pray for help to the Blessed Virgin Mary, 9 to St. Michael 10 and to St Pius X. This is a Declaration not lacking in piety, which St Paul says is useful for all purposes (I Tim. IV, 8). However, to his two disciples, Timothy and Titus, he is constantly emphasizing the need for doctrine, which is the foundation of true piety. Alas, the Declaration is rather less strong in doctrine. Instead of blasting the Council’s doctrinal errors which have been devastating the Church for the last 50 years, it has in its most doctrinal paragraphs, 5 and 6, only a timid condemnation of those errors, together with a tribute to the unchanging Magisterium (5) and Tradition (6) of the Church, accurate but constituting an argument all too easily reversible by a Conciliarist. See how:—

Paragraph 5 mentions Vatican II novelties being “stained with errors,” whereas the Church’s constant Magisterium is uninterrupted: “By its act of teaching it transmits the revealed deposit in perfect harmony with everything the universal Church has taught in all times and places.” Which of course implies that Rome should take Vatican II to the cleaners to take out the stains. But see how a Roman can reply: “The Chapter’s expression of the continuity of the Magisterium is wholly admirable! But we Romans are that Magisterium, and we say that Vatican II is not stained!”

Similarly with paragraph 6. The Declaration states, “The constant Tradition of the Church transmits and will transmit to the end of time the collection of teachings necessary to keep the Faith and save one’s soul.” So the Church authorities need to return to Tradition. Roman reply: “ The Chapter’s description of how Tradition hands down the Faith is wholly admirable! But we Romans are the guardians of that Tradition, and we say, by the hermeneutic of continuity, that Vatican II does not interrupt it but continues it. So the Chapter is entirely wrong to suggest that we need to return to it.”

Contrast the force of Archbishop Lefebvre’s irreversible attack on the errors of Vatican II in his famous Declaration of November, 1974. He declares that Conciliar Rome is not Catholic Rome because the Conciliar reform is “naturalist, Teilhardian, liberal and Protestant . . . poisoned through and through . . . coming from heresy and leading to heresy,” etc, etc. His conclusion is a categorical refusal to have anything to do with the Newrome because it is absolutely not the true Rome.

Pull up on the Internet both Declarations, and see which is an unmistakeable trumpet-call for the necessary battle (I Cor.XIV, 8)! One has to wonder how many of the 2012 capitulants have ever studied what the Archbishop said, and why.

Kyrie eleison.