Some readers of these Comments no doubt objected to the reference made last week (EC 370) to the “Resistance” presently making “little apparent headway.” They might have preferred a valiant call to arms. But we must stay real. For instance, when the Traditional diocese of Campos in Brazil fell back into the arms of Newrome back in 2001, did not several of us say that out of some 25 priests formed in Bishop de Castro Mayer’s school, at least a few would break ranks? Yet not one of them has gone independent since then to continue defending Tradition as Campos had always defended it, and so all of them are more or less on the neo-modernist slide. However, if we do stay real, there is not nothing to be said.
First of all, God is God, and he is conducting this crisis his way and not ours. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, your ways are not my ways, says the Lord” (Is. LV, 8). We dream of the clear-sighted priests and laity banding together to stand up to his enemies, but God does not need anybody’s “Resistance” to look after his sheep or save his Church. Forty years ago when Archbishop Lefebvre hoped for and looked for a handful of fellow-bishops to stand beside him in public and throw up a real road-block in the way of the Conciliar steam-roller, surely he might have found them, but he never did. In fact when God intervenes to save the situation, as he certainly will, it will be obvious that the rescue was his doing, through his Mother.
Secondly, more than five centuries of rampant humanism have made man so ignorant of God, the Lord God of Hosts, that mankind has to be taught a lesson which it will not learn except the hard way. The ninth of St Ignatius’ 14 Rules for the Discernment of Spirits (first week) gives three main reasons for a soul’s spiritual desolation, which can be applied to the Church’s present desolation:—
1. God punishes us for our spiritual lukewarmness and negligence. God alone knows today just what a worldwide chastisement is deserved by our worldwide apostasy and plunge into materialism and hedonism.
2. God puts us to the trial to show us what is really inside us, and how we depend on him. Does not modern man seriously think that he can do a better job of running the universe than Almighty God? And might it be that the truth will not sink in until all of his own little efforts have failed?
3. God humbles us with desolation to cut short our pride and vainglory. Coming from the chief ministers of the one true religion of the one true God, was not Vatican II an unprecedented outburst of human vainglory, preferring man’s modern world to God’s unchanging Church? And the little Society of St Pius X thought that it could save the Church? Unless the “Resistance” remains duly modest in its claims and ambitions, it is doomed in advance.
Then what should those ambitions be? First and foremost, to keep the Faith, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb. XI, 6), and which is expressed in doctrine, in the Catholic Creed. Secondly, to give witness to that Faith, especially by example, if necessary unto martyrdom (“martyr” is the Greek word for “witness”). So howsoever the “Resistance” is or is not organized, it must devote its resources, however meagre, to whatever will help souls to keep the Faith. Then, since its stand for the Truth is bound to be recognizable as such, merely by existing it will not be failing, because it will be giving witness.