To those Catholics – in God’s foreknowledge – that are currently sliding down the slippery slope to eventual schism and separation from Holy Mother Church. May it never be! May God in His grace help you to not do so! May this book be used for that purpose. St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, whom he dearly loved: “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (4:16). Proverbs 27:5-6 concurs: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend . . .” Proverbs 12:15 informs us that “a wise man listens to advice,” and verse 9:8 adds: “. . . reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”
Also to my esteemed “traditionalist” brothers and sisters in Christ and His Church. We agree on so much. I am not “against” you; I am for you; and most of the time, with you!
We all must strive (with God’s necessary enabling power always) to be “wise” and not “fools” in the biblical sense.
Some recent encounters on my Facebook page have convinced me of the need for a second book on the broad topic of radical Catholic reactionaries. The crucial and necessary issue of definition and the various titles that get thrown about, back and forth, will be covered in great detail in the first chapter.
The present volume consists of a collection of various website or blog papers of mine on three topics: the radical Catholic reactionary strain of Catholicism (“RCRs” or “RadCathRs” in short), the New (Pauline, Novus Ordo) Mass and its liturgical abuses, and genuine, orthodox (not silly liberal, “ersatz”) ecumenism: derived from my three web pages devoted to those topics.
I often hear complaints about why I “pick on” the errors of the “right” far more than on the errors of the “left”. It’s because I think theological liberalism (or what calls itself “progressivism”) is fundamentally an intellectually dishonest enterprise, whose proponents pick and choose what they like and dislike from among Catholic dogmas: thus losing the gift of supernatural gift of faith altogether, as St. Thomas Aquinas and Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman have both stressed.
The dissident spirit is simply watered-down, half-baked agnosticism, or (in another sense) pseudo-Protestantism (insofar as it exercises unchecked private judgment, espouses doctrinal relativism, and rejects binding Church authority). At least atheists and agnostics and Protestants usually try to be, and are, honest with themselves and self-consistent. I know I always tried to be so, as an evangelical Protestant for thirteen years.
For this reason, I have never paid theological liberalism or “Catholic” modernism much attention in my wide-ranging apologetics (though I have devoted half a book to it, and one small web page). Even as an evangelical Protestant apologist in the 1980s, I rarely dealt with Protestant liberals in my work. I detest these false notions; have nothing but intellectual contempt for them (while trying to love the persons, as I should).
I strongly believe that radical Catholic reactionaries, on the other hand, know better. These are Christians with genuine faith, who want to be observant and faithful Catholics, for the most part, but they have been misguided and misled and bamboozled by various errors of the nature of what is called “rigorism” — or what might be described as a “puritanical” outlook. It’s a matter of degree, and there are many variations.
This recurring problem throughout Church history is seen in groups such as the Donatists, Montanists, Jansenists, and the Old Catholics who left the Church after Vatican I: an error of thinking and out-of-whack perspective; an inability or unwillingness to think with the Mind of the Church, and a lack of charity. It’s often characterized by gloom and doom pessimism and difficulty in taking a “long view” of history (caused by ignorance of past Church history). Radical Catholic reactionaries are also particularly prone to absurd conspiratorial notions (as well as anti-Semitism).
Despite these serious errors, I think that many in this extreme category may, perhaps, be able to be persuaded through (orthodox Catholic) reason and presentation of clarifying fact. I have received many reports informing me that my first book on the topic swayed people (by God’s grace, always) away from this dead-end and quasi-schismatic mindset. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that a second book might be used by God to accomplish that same end result. One can only make an attempt.
The devil loves to divide the Church and pull away folks who otherwise would be faithful, zealous Catholics, living according to traditional Catholic morality: into lonely corners and isolated backwaters. We see the same tendency in conservative politics, with many people pulling away, playing the “independent” game and engaging in third-party fantasies and pipe-dreams: with the most zealous “true believers” among them allegedly better and “purer,” more principled than the rest of us.
Human nature never changes. What the devil gains so often with lust and lack or loss of faith on the theological or ecclesiological left, he gains with spiritual pride and Pharisaical “holier-than-thou” legalism and tunnel vision on the right. He is constantly at work dividing Christians and even Catholics (orthodox ones) against each other: “divide and conquer.” This allows the world to keep going to hell in a handbasket, becoming more and more immoral, cruel, and secularized all the time, while we endlessly fight and squabble with each other.
But this book is not mere (and yet more) wrangling; it is an orthodox Catholic “answer” to the errors and falsehoods dealt with: a proposed “roadmap” for the way out of the morass and despair, so that the in-fighting and faulty thinking and lack of charity towards multiple millions of fellow Catholics can lessen, not increase and continue indefinitely.
My position (as I wish to make crystal-clear from the outset) has always been that people ought to be freely allowed to worship as they please (at whatever form of Mass they prefer), with the sanction of the Church. I held this view before the declarations promoting wider availability of the Tridentine Mass: not only of Pope Benedict XVI (in 2007), but the earlier ones from Blessed John Paul II as well. It’s always been my position since I became a Catholic in 1991.
From that same year I have attended the Novus Ordo Latin rite, which is performed at my parish in downtown Detroit in a very reverent, traditional fashion, with no abuses that I have ever seen. We receive Holy Communion at an altar rail, on the tongue. This is what I do every week. We don’t have altar girls; rarely even have eucharistic ministers (but then, we have small numbers).
Those issues can be discussed pro and con on various levels. I’m simply describing my own parish (where I have chosen to worship nearly my entire Catholic life): what we believe and practice, and in so doing, showing that I have no problem at all with traditional Catholic worship (which I dearly love). That’s not what this book will be critiquing. It will, rather, critique radical views that seek to “bash” the New Mass as profoundly “inauthentic” or vastly inferior Catholic worship.
My parish is one of only two that I know of in metro Detroit that offers the Tridentine Mass (every week in one of the three church buildings). I have attended it in my own church several times. I love it; it’s fantastic. I myself prefer the Novus Ordo Latin Mass. If the choice is between a corrupted or scandalous Novus Ordo Mass (that is, not performed as it is supposed to be, according to the rubrics) and the Tridentine Mass, I would choose the latter in a heartbeat.
I don’t have to make that choice in my own parish, or “give up” any reverence or solemnity in the Pauline Mass that I personally prefer. I understand that, unfortunately, many millions feel (given the fact of widespread liturgical corruption) that is the stark choice they face. I enthusiastically support the choice of the Tridentine Mass in such sad situations (or as a choice for anyone, anytime, if they should so prefer). If we “vote with our feet,” maybe we can see much further liturgical reform and a renewed emphasis on reverence and solemnity “on the ground.”
As with my first book on the topic, I will not “name names,” because my goal is to critique the various false beliefs and bad tendencies, as opposed to getting into all the “legalistic” wrangling back and forth, and personal offense, and stepping on the toes of folks who are fond of various persons or organizations. Such a practice (not naming specific names) follows the example of most (if not all) of the Tridentine decrees, that didn’t name Luther or Calvin or other Protestant leaders; they simply corrected the errors and proclaimed Catholic truth: defining faith and justification and other doctrines that were being redefined or rejected by the new Protestant movement.
Whether or not a particular error is present in a given person or group is for the reader to discern and ascertain. I am communicating truth as I believe it to be, and critiquing errors, in line with the Mind (as far as I understand it) of Holy Mother Church. This is my task and grave responsibility as a lay apologist and teacher. I am happy — as always — to be corrected by priests and bishops in that Church, as the case may be.
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