By Charlie Johnston
Last Tuesday was the Feast Day of St. Pius X – and also my first full day back in Denver after two and a half months. When I went to Mass, the Priest was not who I expected. Rather, it was a Priest known for his heterodoxy. I had long ago decided that I would find something else to do if I came upon this Priest, as I hate leaving Mass angry and offended. But I decided to stay to see if he would speak on the scandals and, if so, whether there would be any sense of contrition or responsibility in his homily. Whoo boy, I was treated to one of the most ugly, ignorant, profane homilies I have ever managed to sit through.
He began by blaming the scandals largely on the pre-Vatican II Church, pronouncing the “spirit of Vatican II” to have blown a breath of fresh air throughout the Church. Sourly, I thought that a tree is known by the fruit it bears – and massive sexual predation at the highest levels is not what I would call “fresh air,” much less good fruit. This Priest never speaks without congratulating himself repeatedly on what a profound and enlightened intellect he has. He noted that the traditionalists want to go back to the bad old days before the fresh air blew through – but that is because of their intellectual deficiencies. He remarked that they even have a society, something like the St. Peter Society. It took remarkable restraint to keep from jumping up and shouting that it is the St. Pius X Society – and this on his feast day. (There is a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter which is traditionalist but entirely faithful to the Magisterium – and the Society of St. Pius X which is traditionalist and dissents, in some cases, from the Magisterium) Sadly, I don’t think he was being sly; I think he really did not know. He is one of those worldly sorts who thinks their intellectual acuity does not involve knowing actual facts and stuff: it is the ideological pretensions that make “wisdom,” not any intellectual rigor. He did speak highly of St. Pius X, but bizarrely intimated that Pius would be one of the heterodox, progressive cohort if he were around today.
The Priest spoke of what a step backwards the Church took with the papacy of St. John Paul II, though he excused John Paul because that Pope was clearly a backwards, unintellectual rube from a communist country who had little experience of the world and so was held captive by the Deep State of the curia of the time. (I am not making this up). He bemoaned that John Paul did not really understand Vatican II, so that held us back. Again, I resisted the crushing urge to tell him that St. John Paul was one of the primary architects of the documents of Vatican II – and his papacy gave them their authentic interpretation, contrary to the “spirit of Vatican II” nonsense all the Bishop Wormtongues were – and still are – peddling. It was painful to hear this befuddled fellow denigrate the acumen of one of the greatest intellectual giants the Church has ever produced. But in a peculiar way, it caused me to sympathize with him somewhat. For the first time I thought to myself, “He really doesn’t know much of anything.”
He closed by urging frequent reception of communion while denigrating the Sacrament of Confession. He noted that some people are thinking of leaving the Church because of the scandals. His solution was to just let them go, respecting their free will. Really, I am not making this up. Afterwards, several people told me they were surprised that my head did not just explode. I was too busy thinking that, man, we really are going to need a bigger boat.
In the few days since I have been back home, I have been deeply contemplating the trouble we are in throughout the world, in our country, and mainly in the Church. We’ve got a whupping coming, and that right soon. Several things strike me about the Church scandals going forward.
First, this time, the Bishops need to speak plainly and stay away from obfuscating clericalese. I know many of them think it makes them sound like St. Thomas Aquinas, but the reality is that it is usually a pale parody of the vibrant words of such as Sts. Thomas Aquinas, Augustine and John Paul. It mimics the style while neglecting the substance. A better example for how to speak on this would be from the Apostles Paul and Peter. They spoke plainly on impenetrable things. The best example of who to imitate is Christ, Himself – God in the flesh. The Lord often spoke mysteriously, but the things He wanted to drive home He did with plain speech and vivid, earthy metaphors. It is a mark of our limitation, not our sophistication, that we often speak so formally and pompously to get our point across. Unlike Christ, we struggle to explain complicated things clearly and simply, so we camouflage our limitations with a word salad. On this one, the Bishops had best speak plainly if they would be heard. The best statement I have heard thus far came from Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin. It was clear, blunt and did not mince words. I hope others are taking note.
Second, I have heard some suggest that the laity must take control in this. I have long said that this is the moment for the authentic apostolate of the laity – but this is a bridge too far. It was Christ who entrusted the governance of the Church to His Apostles, the Bishops. I am not about to start contradicting Christ, thinking I have a better plan. It is the Bishops who must steer this ship. But as I said, we, the crew, have the right to demand that they do not abuse us and don’t drive us into the shoals. We, the laity, have failed our duty to those clergy have lived faith by treating the wolves with the same deference we treat the shepherds. In so doing, we have enabled the wolves, the Judas Bishops, and enfeebled the devout. St. Paul speaks of this several times, most clearly in Galatians 1:6-10: “…there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ, but even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” Our refusal to demand sound doctrine is a huge part of the problem. Paradoxically, while no Bishop should abdicate his responsibility to lead and decide, the wisest Bishops will entrust investigations of these horrors to the laity. Portland’s Archbishop Alexander K. Sample has taken the leading role in this in his Archdiocese. We will be able to tell who is just giving lip service from who means it by what they do, not so much what they say. And yes, though we must not presume to take the wheel of the ship, we must hold Bishops to account for proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, not some Gospel of their own vain imaginations.
Third, remember that in Pope Leo XIII’s vision of the satan’s conversation with the Lord, the satan swore to destroy the Church, not just pervert the hierarchy. Do NOT let your zeal for your reform cause you to become an unwitting ally of the satan’s plan. It is going to get much uglier. The Judas Bishops have no timidity; they will try to leverage this to destroy more faithful clerics than they already have. Some may even throw on a phony cloak of orthodoxy, like the late Rev. Marciel Macial, once leader of the Legionnaires of Christ. The secular world wants to destroy the Catholic Church and will try to leverage the same. Many innocent Priests are going to be accused – sometimes by scabrous, wolfish clerics. I think back to when Our Lady told me, just before the Dallas Conference in 2002 that “they will scarcely acknowledge my Holy Son.” It infuriates me that, even as they met, some in attendance were mouthing empty pieties while plotting how to keep their fleshpots running and how to derail those who would deprive them of them. It brings home a larger dimension of what Our Lady was saying. Judge righteous judgment.
This will become a preponderant theme here for a time. The temptation for many will be to abandon the faith, to look the other way and leave someone else to take care of it, or to let growing rage scorch both the just and the unjust. Don’t do it. If you do you become participants in the satan’s scheme. We are the children of light, called to be the light of the world, called to carry the light of Christ to the world with power, conviction and clarity. Paper-shuffling, bureaucratic clericalism is bad enough, but we are faced with a satanic clericalism that blasphemously uses the things of God to feed its disordered and unnatural lusts. I have long said we live in the times described in Revelation 12 – and I would not be surprised if the number of the clergy that is completely corrupted will be similar to the number of angels cast out of heaven for the same reason. God will cast them out IF we make common cause with those brave clerics who, often persecuted and cowed, are prepared to rise to the forefront and follow the Lord’s command to “feed my lambs.”
I direct you to Fr. Richard Heilman’s Roman Catholic Man site, which is leading the charge for The Holy League’s 54-day Novena for Our Nation, to culminate with the National Rosary Rally in Washington, D.C. on October 7.
I will close with some lengthy and slightly modified, excerpts from a message I sent to my team about a week ago:
“There has been much that is significant going on in the world. All the foundational pillars from which we receive a sense of security have, indeed, crumbled.
We can all see a little better what I was getting at when I have often said that, in some ways, things would be far worse than what we could imagine and, in some ways, not nearly as bad. People’s imaginations insist on seeing a “War of the World’s” apocalyptic scenario that isn’t quite coming, while failing to appreciate the horror of finding that almost all the institutions we rely on are either betrayers or have been internally betrayed. Who can you trust? When that question arises in such a comprehensive way, you know a truly deep horror.
Of course, we can always count on God – but for many (most) even that gets strained as all the visible pillars of support are shown to be visibly corrupted. This gets, really, to the heart of my message – to be a sign of hope. If our only reliable source of security is in God, then we must hold fast to that source…always acknowledging God, then very deliberately taking the next right step (knowing full well that in our feebleness, it will sometimes be the wrong one – but knowing equally well that when we steadfastly acknowledge God, He will set us right even when we have set ourselves wrong), and then BE a sign of hope to those around us. Now is the time when the third leg of that triune formula I set forward comes to the forefront. In a time when so many trusted people and institutions have turned out to be frauds and active betrayers, the question is not where to find hope: we find hope in the same place it has remained solidly anchored from time immemorial – in God. We are, of course, a sacramental people. We need those visible signs of God’s invisible grace…but in these times, we are most urgently called to BE visible signs of God’s invisible grace…thus, be a sign of hope to those around you.
I, too, am affected by the hideous nature of all the revelations gushing forth with ever greater force. I will tell you that, since the beginning of the year, what I hear frequently – insistently, if not forcefully – is the phrase, “Let there be light.” It is not like any locution or apparition I have ever had…and I am by no means sure this is not just from within me. But, glory! It is insistent. Rising too, but ever so very slowly. But insistent, like a primordial force. So, lest I get distracted by the winds and the waves growing around us, I focus ferociously on the things I know I would want the Lord to find me at should He come: re-building the culture of life. I seriously doubt it will stay the trials we have before us, but I KNOW it will help enable us to deal with them far better…
…The main point here is that I am working at concrete things that are perfectly aligned with the larger spiritual goal. That way, whatever happens and whenever it happens it is all seamless – seamlessly devoted to rebuilding a culture of life that is the fertile eco-system for a healthy Christian culture. I may have to stop everything suddenly if things go dramatically south – but only so as to work at a different aspect of what I am already working at…being a sign of hope. This is what we all should do. Do specific, concrete things that help along the larger goal…which is to re-build the City of God. Care for your children, work at your Parish, do the things that Christ always directed us to – and with solid muscle behind it…but remain supple enough to move seamlessly into whatever else may be required to get to the Triumph…Prepare for what you can reasonably foresee but have no care about what you can’t – knowing that so long as you are acknowledging God, He will prepare you for what you have not taken into account – and know that you will have surprises. Remember that much of this is designed to remind each of us that He is our ONLY source of security…and to ram home to our feeble minds that He is all the security we need.
I cringe a little any time anyone asks me about when anything might happen. Ha! Throughout my life I have been deadly, chillingly on point on interpreting the what…but I REALLY stink at interpreting the when. So the key for me, as well as each of you, is to remain steadfastly prepared to acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope at every moment and in every circumstance. That is enough. Which does not mean you cannot look at the signs of the times, only that you must remain focused on your duty before God and to your neighbor. Certainly, from a purely temporal standpoint, one has to wonder if the election results, whatever they may be, will be accepted. Having already encouraged and fomented violence, will the left accept a loss without going full-bore violent revolt? Should they win, would they hesitate in the least at resuming their effort to destroy Christians and impose their will in an authoritarian, or even brutally totalitarian, way? In that case, aren’t normal people obligated to fight for freedom? I don’t know for sure how it will develop…what I do know is that I can be steadfast in acknowledging God, taking the next right step, and being a sign of hope. I prepare for those things I can reasonably foresee and don’t worry about those I can’t, trusting that God will show me the way as I need it.
I contemplate the growing refrain stuck so long in my head, “Let there be light.” Light, of course, reveals the rot that has accumulated. It is worse than I thought…and we are only at the surface of what I fear will go very deep, right into the heart of our culture. Light also cleans and sanitizes…the dark flees the light. Right now, (the dark) is screaming and howling as it flees. But there is still another sense of it all…to be a sign of hope is to be light. Christ is the light of the world…and that is the light we carry to a world broken and weary from its own terrible sins and offenses. Pray – and work – to be clear vessels through which the light of Christ will shine through with pure clarity…revealing, sanitizing and bringing hope. (Remember, to work diligently at a noble resolve is a particularly refined form of prayer -the prayer of doing, which is much neglected in these times.) And, so, I repeat to you what has been most in my heart, mind and soul throughout this year: