Vocations Still?

Vocations Still? posted in Eleison Comments on October 10, 2020

Can there still be vocations of younger or older souls to the service of God in a seminary, convent, friary or monastery, amidst the distress of the Catholic Church today? The answer can only be in the positive because the fact is that God is still calling souls to His service, and “A fact is stronger than the Lord Mayor.” On the other hand Superiors of seminaries or religious houses need to take into consideration two circumstances special to the situation of the Church today which should render them more careful than ever in accepting vocations beneath their roof. These are firstly the ever increasing immaturity of souls growing up in the modern world, and secondly, the ever growing unreliability of Church leaders.

To begin with, let us remind ourselves that the Catholic Church comes directly from Jesus Christ who will preserve it until the end of the world (Mt. XXVIII, 20), and into eternity. He has with the Father and the Holy Ghost all the power needed, and much more, to provide it with all means necessary for its survival. Now those means necessarily include a priesthood, bishops and priests and in some sort of hierarchy, to ensure those sacraments which are essential to the life of supernatural grace of the Church’s members. Therefore until world’s end Our Lord will always be giving enough vocations to men to guarantee that the Church has the men it needs as ministers. As for the women into whose nature it is built by God to be the “helpers” or “helpmates” of man (Gen.II, 18), they are not to be priests nor as necessary to the Church as priests, but by the gifts which God gives to them and not to men, they can render to the Church such precious services that it one cannot imagine the Church being without feminine vocations. For instance, where would the Church’s apostolate be without the prayers of Sisters, grandmothers, etc.?

However God is God, and His ways are inscrutable by men. See the end of Romans XI, and all of the Book of Job, Chapters XXXVII to XLI. He reaches far beyond our human minds, and in the fallibility of the last six Popes inclusive, He is already reaching well beyond what many Catholic minds can bear. They need to read Job. Nor is the Almighty finished yet by any means. Our Lady has told us that fire will fall from the sky, eliminating a large part of mankind, and if sins do not slow down there will be no more forgiveness for them, a prediction easier to understand ever since the Covid scam recently made so many of the very churchmen shut down their confessionals. Let us pray and work for Our Lord to send workers into His vineyard, but let us not try to tell Him how many He needs. Only He knows that.

Meanwhile we human beings must confess that, as said above, we throw at least two serious obstacles in the way of His calling souls to serve Him. Firstly, the immaturity of souls leading a modern life. If there is one thing that makes a boy or girl grow up so as to become capable of enduring the discipline of religious life or the hardships of married life, it is suffering, but is not the illusion everywhere today that suffering can be blamed on somebody else, may be avoided, and need not be endured? Nor are the characters of children formed when parents less and less know how to bring them up. Nor are they given much responsibility to bear, which could also mature them. City and suburban life hardly favour vocations.

But secondly the disorder in the Church also discourages vocations. For as long as the Church was, despite all human failings, a doctrinal and structural rock of ages, I could as a young person entrust my life to it and be sure that several layers of Superiors above me would function on a basis of objective truth and justice overall. But ever since Vatican II changed Church doctrine and the basis on which it operates, how can I still be sure of an objective and stable framework within which to lead the rest of my life? One great lesson of this Church crisis is that the Catholic Church can no more do without the Pope than a puppet can do without its puppeteer – it becomes a jumbled heap of strings and bits of coloured wood.

Of course God can and will supply for the good of His Church, but we can hardly expect vocations to come forward tomorrow just like they did the day before yesterday.

Kyrie eleison.

Grave Danger

Grave Danger posted in Eleison Comments on March 31, 2012

The desire of certain priests within the Society of St Pius X to seek a practical agreement with the Church authorities without a doctrinal agreement seems to be a recurring temptation. For years Bishop Fellay as the Society’s Superior General has refused the idea, but when he said in Winona on February 2 that Rome is willing to accept the Society as is, and that it is ready to satisfy “all the Society’s requirements . . .on the practical level,” it does look as though Rome is holding out the same temptation once more.

However, the latest news from Rome will be known to many of you: unless the Vatican is playing games with the SSPX, it announced last Friday, March 16, that it found Bishop Fellay’s January reply to its Doctrinal Preamble of September 14 of last year “not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems which lie at the foundation of the rift between the Holy See and the SSPX.” And the Vatican gave the SSPX one month in which to “clarify its position” and avoid “a rupture of painful and incalculable consequences.”

But what if Rome were suddenly to cease requiring acceptance of the Council and the New Mass? What if Rome were suddenly to say, “Alright. We have thought about it. Come back into the Church as you ask. We will give you freedom to criticize the Council as much as you like, and freedom to celebrate the Tridentine Mass exclusively. But do come in!” It might be a very cunning move on the part of Rome, because how could the Society refuse such an offer without seeming inconsistent and downright ungrateful? Yet on pain of survival it would have to refuse. On pain of survival? Strong words. But here is a commentary of Archbishop Lefebvre on the matter.

On May 5, 1988, he signed with then Cardinal Ratzinger the protocol (provisional draft) of a practical Rome-Society agreement. On May 6 he took back his (provisional) signature. On June 13 he said, “With the May 5 Protocol we would soon have been dead. We would not have lasted a year. As of now the Society is united, but with that Protocol we would have had to make contacts with them, there would have been division within the Society, everything would have been a cause of division” (emphasis added). “New vocations might have flowed our way because we were united with Rome, but such vocations would have tolerated no disagreement with Rome – which means division. As it is, vocations sift themselves before they reach us” (which is still true in Society seminaries).

And why such division? (Warring vocations would be merely one example amongst countless others). Clearly, because the May 5 Protocol would have meant a practical agreement resting upon a radical doctrinal disagreement between the religion of God and the religion of man. The Archbishop went on to say, “They are pulling us over to the Council . . .whereas on our side we are saving the Society and Tradition by carefully keeping our distance from them” (emphasis added). Then why did the Archbishop seek such an agreement in the first place? He continued, “We made an honest effort to keep Tradition going within the official Church. It turned out to be impossible. They have not changed, except for the worse.”

And have they changed since 1988? Many would think, only for yet worse.

Kyrie eleison.

Undesired Celibacy

Undesired Celibacy posted in Eleison Comments on January 16, 2010

Last Sunday’s Feast of the Holy Family may be a suitable moment to quote a reader’s question arising from the pronouncement of “Eleison Comments” three weeks ago that, normally speaking, an unmarried man is a “zero” while an unmarried woman is “less than a zero”: what about a man or woman who might have liked to get married, but for whatever reason either could not or did not do so? Not everybody that does not marry has a religious vocation, the reader added.

I began by replying that unnatural loneliness is all too normal today. Modern life, especially big city life, causes not only marriages not to happen which should happen, but also many marriages which have happened to come apart. That is one punishment amongst many others of liberalism, which by glorifying individualism engenders an inaptitude to live in the married state. Liberalism also glorifies freedom from all ties, and the marriage bond is nothing if not a tie. “Hence the collapsing birth-rates of the Western nations and the suicide of once Catholic Europe. It is all immensely sad and immensely serious.”

I continued: “Obviously to call all men “zeros” is a colorful way of saying that, firstly, we are all before God minute creatures, and secondly, men are not nearly as great as they think they are. (Two Russian proverbs say that a man without a woman is like a garden without a hedge (to surround it), or like a man out in January (in Russia) without a fur cap!) To go on to call women “less than zeros” is a likewise provocative way of saying that firstly, contrary to the dreadful disparaging of their complementarity by the enemies of God everywhere today, women are not the same as men, and secondly, they are more profoundly dependent on men than men are on women – see Eve’s punishment in Genesis III, 16: “Thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.” But the “zero” and “less than zero” are not primarily to provoke but to be put together in an eight, to demonstrate graphically the natural power of the union of marriage.”

Alas, today many a priest comes across young women who would love to marry but can hardly find a young man that strikes them as fit to be a husband. The young men seem all too often virtual dishrags, washed out by a liberalism which dissolves their minds by which God meant them to lead. Liberalism does not so easily undo the instincts and emotions which God makes natural to woman, although when it does, the results can be even more terrible.

In conclusion, I referred to the Eighth Station of the Way of the Cross, where Our Lord consoled the weeping women of Jerusalem (Lk. XXIII, 27–31): such a punishment, he warned, would soon come down on deicide Jerusalem as would make them envy the women who had never had husband or family. In our own day that is not a reason not to marry, but it may be a consolation for anyone to whom Providence has not given to marry but who might have liked to do so, because coming down upon us in what cannot be the too far distant future is . . . tremendous reason to start putting now more trust than ever in God’s unfailing Providence . . .

Kyrie eleison.

Scarce Vocations

Scarce Vocations posted in Eleison Comments on December 1, 2007

In the up-coming edition of « Credidimus Caritati », the trimestrial bulletin of the Latin American Seminary of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), will appear some interesting remarks of an Argentinian deacon due to be ordained priest in three weeks’ time. He is asked by the interviewer what he thinks the present lack of vocations is due to. Here is his reply:—

“It seems to me that one can speak of the lack of vocations either amongst Catholics attached to the SSPX, or amongst Catholics who are for whatever reason more or less far from Society positions.

“Amongst the latter, it is clear to see that the farther away they are from the true doctrine and Faith, the fewer will be the vocations, because the modern world catches hold of such men or women the more easily that they belong more to the world and less to Our Lord. Generally speaking, the religious Congregations closer to the SSPX are those that have the more vocations.

“Amongst SSPX Catholics, it seems to me that youngsters born and raised within the SSPX, with a few praiseworthy exceptions, develop a split personality, one side Traditional and the other side modern. The Traditional side comes from parents, relations and friends who have struggled to keep the Faith as best they could, and have wanted their children to follow in their footsteps, continuing the struggle. Where the modern side comes from is obvious – today’s world swamps the youngsters in all kinds of enticing novelties to get them for itself. The youngsters are aware of the clash in their own lives and try to combine the two sides as best they can. Add in the lack of a serious prayer life and the lack of resorting to the sacraments, and the result is that the youngsters grow used to living with a split personality, it comes to seem quite normal, even comfortable, and who wants to have to quit a comfort zone?”

Simple. Clear. What is the solution? Family fathers must so fortify true religion in the home, especially by their own example, that the false glamour of the world is out-gunned, and loses its power to attract. That requires a real effort, but it can be done. St. Joseph, Patron of the Church and of vocations, help!

Kyrie eleison.