11 January 2015

Random Thoughts

A few random thoughts:

1. St. Pius X was a modernizer (in one sense of the word) and a reformer. You've heard otherwise? The facts disagree with what you've been told.

2. Parishes suffer because their pastors make no effort to catechize the faithful outside of oblique doctrinal points in the Sunday homily. The old practice of having weekly catechism for adults should be restored.

3. Probably part of the reason pastors no longer try to catechize their flocks is because they often have no understanding of the faith, and are incapable of trying to explain it.

4. Pastors probably have no understanding of the faith, because they were not taught it in a clear way. They were not taught it clearly because of the faddishness of academic theology, which is (forgive me) frequently modernist, and pastorally useless.

5. Modernist theology is pastorally useless, because one of the essential points of modernism in all its forms is that faith is unnecessary.

6. When the modernists try to make theology useful, they make it humanly useful. Thus all of the "theologies of the genitive" (theology of the body, theology of workers, theology of play, theology of gender, etc.), which, as Gherardini says, tacitly re-orient theology so that it is anthropocentric. Anthropocentric theology! The apex of fallen man's absurdity.

7. One way people frequently talk about the "anthropological turn" without immediately revealing their absurdity, is to say that they are making theology "accessible" or "relevant". "Accessible" because we live in an age where people only care about things which somehow tap into their emotional lives; relevant because we live in an age of egoists. Therapeutic spirituality is the order of the day.

8. The question of Lefebvre's canonical status and the rectitude of his rebellion against the orders of Paul VI and JPII is a messy one. Less messy are the points he makes about the post-Conciliar collapse. When one reads him in his "Open Letter to Confused Catholics", it's hard to deny that he speaks the truth. When one reads his justifications for maintaining the Econe seminary and administering the sacraments after his suspension, he sounds too much like Luther.

9. This is not to say that he was a bad man. He lived in horrendously destructive times (as do we presently, it seems more and more), and it may be that some day he is canonized as the Athanasius he thought himself to be. This seems possible to me. In the meanwhile, this question seems unfruitful to me.

10. It is a mistake to "reject" Vatican II. Hostility to the council itself is an error, since it is impossible to deny that it was an ecumenical council of the Holy Catholic Church. The degree of authority (i.e. "Is this document intended as a definition of the faith or a meditation on present affairs?) and enduring prudential relevance ("Does the situation which this document was meant to address exist today?) of many of its pronouncements can be called into question. If one has difficulties reading the work of the council, they should be expressed that way.

11. Additionally, it is worth noting that hostility to Vatican II is extremely inexpedient. It's a sure way to raise the hackles of many catholics who might otherwise be receptive to those elements of the tradition which have been neglected over the past half-century.

12. Because the Roman Pontiff is charged with confirming his brothers and sisters in the Faith, it is deeply scandalous when he fails to do so, when he neglects the faith, or downplays its significance, or favors those who deviate from it or reject it outright, while showing hostility to those who attempt to uphold it. Many are so resolute not to be scandalized by the holy father that they make him the fount of doctrine, instead of the one responsible for confirming us in what has been handed down. They make him the divine legislator, instead of the chief preacher of the law of grace. Papal positivism.

13. The effect of this positivism is that it turns the faith which stems from Christ, which was inspired in the Apostles by the Holy Spirit, into a kind of spiritual policy. The pope creates the policy, and the people accept or dissent from it as they see fit. If they dissent from it, they do so in a spirit of progressivism, campaigning for the changes they see as necessary. Modernism again.

14. If the faith is meant to serve man and his emotional needs and personal spirituality, then of course it should be a policy. Of course it should be updated to suit the changing moods of the populus ecclesiae from one day to the next. Anthropocentrism again.

15. One never cries "be merciful!" to an referee when he makes a call that is displeasing or disadvantageous. When the game is taken seriously, its rules are treated with gravity and respect. Widespread failure to take the law of God seriously—no, even worse, widespread inability to conceive of the need to treat the divine law with gravity—is a sign of widespread idolatry.

16. The idol which has taken the place of God, which justifies the effacement of divine law, is human sensibility. We worship our feelings, and dare not offend them. Surely God must bow before the sensitivities of men. Surely he would understand our needs, and see that they supersede anything he might will for us.

17. New evangelical strategies reflect this. One often hears it in the form of that noxious line attributed to St. Francis: "Preach Christ always; if necessary use words." This line has a proper sense, which is good. But its ordinary understanding is that the primary way the Gospel is communicated is by being a nice and good person. No, preaching requires words.

18. The silence of Catholics is inspired by the silence of their Pastors, and in the midst of this silence: the faith is not handed down (or not adequately), divine things are not discussed, God is forgotten, and what is not forgotten, what is discussed, what is handed on, becomes increasingly the object of our attentions, our desires, our ultimate aspirations.

19. So it is: we begin by attempting to make the faith relevant and accessible and modern; we end, two generations later, by eliminating faith altogether.

20. The road to apostasy begins with phenomenology and guitars.