A Decidedly Un-Catholic World
Thomas A. Droleskey
We live in a decidely un-Catholic world. As I explained in Better This Than Purgatory (Or Worse), the people we encountered in rural Texas one week ago this morning were clueless about the person of human existence. They survive in a world of dense fog, catechized by television and propelled from one moment to the next by whatever suits their fancy. There is no thought of going to Hell for all eternity by committing a moral sin. They believe that they have been "saved" by making a "profession of faith in the Lord Jesus" on their lips and in their hearts. There is thus no incompatibility between living for the material pleasures of this world and salvation. They have been convinced by the Protestant ethos of Presumption that they can have their material heaven on earth and be in Heaven above with God for all eternity once they die.
Obviously, each of us meets people such as the ones described above every day of our lives. We work with them. We encounter them in shops. We see them on the highways. Some of them might even be our own family members. As a result of the experiences of the last week, which are as yet ongoing, associated with the breaking of our motor home's tow bar and the subsequent damage to our Chevrolet Trail Blazer, we have had numerous opportunities to have extended conversations with ordinary Americans in the Bible Belt of the South concerning First and Last Things. The sadness that fills our hearts when talking with the people we have met, each of whom believes earnestly in the American ethos of religious indifferentism and cultural pluralism, cannot be described accurately.
To wit, one man we encountered in recent days told me that his father had had "five or six" wives. He, a man who appeared to be in his early forties, has several siblings he had never met. He follows "conservatism," especially a brand of "conservatism" taught by some Protestant radio personality who urges his listeners to "make money for Jesus" and then to buy whatever luxury items they can afford to buy without using credit cards. "You earn it, you spend it as you see fit," is the way the fellow I was talking to described his secular mentor's philosophy. No sense of the embrace of the Holy Poverty of, say, Saint Francis of Assisi or any understanding of the binding Social Teaching of the Catholic Church on matters of economics, which always falls in the realm of the Divine positive law and the natural law, in Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum and Pope Pius XI's Quadragesimo Anno. No, Protestants, lacking any received tradition and rejecting the existence of a divinely instituted hierarchy, must constantly "re-invent the wheel," so to speak, by interpreting the Bible, which they believe is the only source of Divine Revelation, by themselves and by applying what they think are "Biblical principles" to the actual circumstances of daily life. Each succeeding generation of Protestants thus must redo the work that was done by others, spawning endless new sects to advance this or that allegedly novel approach to "Biblical principles" that no other "preacher" has thought of prior to that time.
The fruit of all of this is religious indifferentism: the belief that it does not make any difference what religious denomination you belong to, if any, as long as you are a "good" and "sincere" person. This is the diabolical ethos of Modernity. This is the diabolical ethos that has infected the human elements of the Church in the form of Modernism, especially through the not-so-silent apostasy of ecumenism.
I, for one, never cease to be amazed at the extend to which some supposedly traditional Catholics attempt to rationalize the novelty of ecumenism with the received teaching of the Divine Redeemer and the actual history of the Church He founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. Some have even dared to go so far as to say that Protestantism has had good results. Where? To convince the people we meet in every part of the United States of America that they can have the life of sanctifying grace within them after committing objectively mortal sins after their Baptism (assuming the validity of their "baptism" to begin with). To convince people that they have no need to receive worthily the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity made Man in the Eucharist? To convince people that they have no need to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance instituted by Our Lord Himself? To convince people that there is no divinely instituted authority that has been entrusted with the entirety of Divine Revelation, both in terms of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and is therefore its only infallible teacher and guide? To convince people that human salvation is assured by making a "profession of faith" and/or "proved" by the acquisition and retention of material wealth as a "sign of divine election"? Those who would dare to talk about the "positive" influences of Protestantism would rather play games with the truth than to face the reality of the world in which the people we meet across this country live and die. And this is say nothing of the Catholics who have fallen into these empty lives as a result of living in an ethos of religious indifferentism and cultural pluralism and as a result of conciliarism's embrace of these evils as actual "goods" that show how the Church's has "adapted" herself to the exigencies of the modern world.
The Church herself, in her human elements (that is, the human beings who hold ecclesiastical authority) has for the first time in her history is failing the needs of people who are outside of her true Sheepfold. No bishop anywhere in this country is evangelizing or proselytizing the Protestants we meet across the nation. No bishop anywhere in this country is evangelizing or proselytizing Jewish people or Mohammedans. Indeed, the Vatican specifically discourages proselytism in the name of "ecumenism" and "inter-religious dialogue." Are all of the people thus left without access to the true Faith assured of their salvation? Is, as I noted a few days ago in Denying Christ by Omission and Commission, the great missionary work of the saints of Tradition somehow totally irrelevant and "inappropriate" in our supposedly sophisticated age?
The man referred to above, whose father had five or six wives over the course of his lifetime, told me that his wife follows a local preacher who was convinced that the end of the world was going to occur on January 1, 2000. He follows the conservative radio host who rationalizes American material acquisitiveness with the Gospel of the Divine Redeemer. She follows a "preacher man" who is no more familiar with the Truth Who is Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ than the forty-second President of the United States of America. They have put their young daughter in a "Christian" school where she is learning "real good conservative values."
"Conservative values" do not save anyone. Catholicism is the means of human salvation. Which Pope since 1958 has stated this clearly and without any equivocation? How does "inter-religious dialogue" address the urgent need to evangelize and catechize souls who are doing to die without ever once being invited into the true Church? How is social order, no less peace among nations, going to be produced when souls do not believe in, have access to, or cooperate with sanctifying grace? How are men going to have models to follow to get home to Heaven if they are not consecrated to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and do not rely upon her maternal patronage and the example and the intercessory power of the other saints? Do all men need the Church as their means of sanctification and salvation? Or do they not? Those who dare to defend anything the conciliarist ethos of ecumenism must answer this question: Does Pope Benedict XVI believe that the Catholic Church has the positive obligation to win converts for the true Church lest their souls possibly perish for all eternity in Hell? If the answer to that question is no, as any objective observer can plainly see, then those who are defending ecumenism must stop misleading their fellow Catholics about the truth of this matter. The truth is this matter is to be found all of the world, especially in the backwaters of the United States, where decent and hard-working human beings are left to fend for themselves in the diabolical trap that is the world of Protestantism and Judeo-Masonry (not the oxymoron of "Judeo-Christianity").
Misadventures in the Bible Belt
All of this is but a prelude to yet another chapter in the continuing saga of our journey with the flatbed trailer we purchased one week ago this morning in rural Texas. Yes, believe it or not, we had more misadventures on Monday, September 26, 2005, the Feast of the North American Martyrs, as we attempted to traverse from West Memphis, Arkansas, to the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. It was during those particular set of misadventures, offered completely to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, that we met some of the folks whose stories are recounted above. I do not want to more specific about which people told me what stories. Suffice it to say that Our Lady led us to meet these people so as to plant a few seeds concerning the true Faith in their immortal souls.
We left on the expected 885 mile journey on Monday, September 26, after having experienced the three hour delay in the parking lot of a gasoline station the previous evening, Sunday, September 25, caused by the left front tire of the Trail Blazer falling through the rotted wood of the flatbed trailer being used to haul it back to the northeast behind our motor home. Sunday night's experience was made particularly lengthy by the fact that the poor tow truck driver who was sent to assist us was not given the right equipment (the result of the sloth, not his, his employer's, please understand, that reigns supreme in a world where the Social Reign of Christ the King has been overthrown). Thus, we were grateful to be back on the road once again.
Our trip did not last too long, however.
A motorist honked at me as I was driving the motor home on Interstate 40 around 10:30 a.m. just about ten miles of Memphis, Tennessee. A woman in the passenger seat was pointing to the back of the flatbed. I couldn't hear what she was saying. Concerned, I stopped the motor home-flatbed assembly on the right shoulder of the highway, getting out to examine the situation. Had the Trail Blazer fallen off? Had the right front wheel, which was making an indentation in the rotted wood underneath it, given way? What was wrong?
Well, the problem was simple: the tow truck driver from the previous evening had not secured the ratchets properly. Both had come loose. The ratchet on the left rear of the Trail Blazer was dragging on the highway.
You see, the tow-truck driver from the previous evening thought at first that he would have to take the Trail Blazer off of the flatbed to place the steel mesh ramp under the area where the right front tire had gone through the rotted wood. We convinced him that that was not the brightest thing to do: the effort to pull the car off would result in the collapse of all of the wooden planks and the crashing of the Trail Blazer to the ground, a loss for which we probably would not have been covered by our insurance company. This was not a matter of simply "replacing the wood" on the flatbed. The wood on the flatbed cannot be replaced until the Trail Blazer is taken off at whichever body shop winds up repairing it. Unfortunately, however, the man did not secure the ratchets properly, thus exposing the Trail Blazer to another unexpected ride.
Once again offering this new problem up to our dear Blessed Mother's Immaculate Heart, we stopped for some breakfast before attempting to find a mechanic who could secure the ratchets properly. A mechanic at a Midas Muffler Shop in the eastern suburbs of Memphis agreed to to help us, spending a considerable amount of time doing so.
"It's not going anywhere now," the mechanic said as he finished the job. "You'll be all right."
Relieved, we took off around 12:10 a.m., Central Daylight Savings Time, knowing that an optimally fourteen hour drive to Vienna, Virginia, was cutting it awfully close to make it 6:30 a.m. Mass at Saint Athanasius Church the next day. Nevertheless, we said our travel prayers and were on our way once again.
We had prayed our family Rosary about an hour into the trip. Shortly after completing the Rosary, however, a man passed us on the right, honking his horn and gesticulating at us.
"What's his problem?" I thought to myself. "The flatbed's not fishtailing that much right now. In the immortal words of Ed Norton, 'What a grouch.'"
The honking driver was trying to get my attention. We did have yet another problem.
I noticed that the motor home was vibrating more than usual. It always vibrates. As Sharon says, "Driving in our motor home is like living with a 5.0 earthquake all of the time."
The vibration we felt at around 2:45 p.m. Central Daylight Savings Time, however, was caused by the fact that the left rear tire on the flatbed trailer had blown out, as in gone, kaput, billowing smoke as the rim dragged on the highway. We were stuck once again, this time parked precariously on the shoulder of Interstate 40 around the 183 milepost on the eastbound side of the highway, approximately twenty-six miles west of Nashville, Tennessee.
I exited the motor home to assess the situation. It was bad. All to you Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
A telephone call was placed to 911. As many of you may know, calls to 911 are adventures in and of themselves. This one was caused by the fact that the 911 operator was in a different country and had no jurisdiction over the interstate highway. Further complicating the matter was the fact that there are no "intermediate" mileposts (that is, tenth of a mile mileposts) in Tennessee. I did not know we were at milepost 183 until a passerby actually stopped about an hour into our wait alongside the highway to tell me where we were. At first, therefore, the state police dispatcher did not know where I was and could not provide assistance until an actual location could be pinpointed. And a wrecker could not be sent until a state trooper arrived to call for one. Oh, by the way, it was hot.
"Not as hot as Purgatory--or worse," I kept telling myself.
Several more calls were placed to 911 over the course of about ninety minutes. Each call was routed to the state police. Assistance was finally ordered when the passerby told me of our location, just about a mile or so east of the Fairview/Dickson exit.
The state trooper, who was genuinely friendly and cooperative, arrived and immediately attempted to get assistance for us. He knew of a tire dealer at the previous exit and looked up his number in a telephone book he had with him in his cruiser, which was a a sports utility vehicle. The tire dealer, though, did not want to come out to the site, protesting that he could not leave his shop. He said that he had two new tires that matched the ones on the right side of the flatbed. All we had to do was to get to his shop! And the only wrecker in that area was unable to assist us at that time. Thus, we had to wait and wait and wait. As we waited, the trooper told me that one of his colleagues had been killed back in July just feet east of where we had stopped. A trucker ran the trooper down as the trooper was giving a motorist a ticket. "This is a dangerous situation you're in," the trooper told me. I knew he was telling me the truth. Sharon was praying to her Guardian Angel to keep the cars and trucks from hitting the motor home.
Word was received by the trooper that the wrecker itself had been in a wreck. I reported that news to Sharon, who relayed it by phone to her sister Bridget in New Jersey. It turns out that the wrecker had not been involved in a wreck, only that it had to answer a call to assist a local police officer whose vehicle had been involved in a collision, thus the reason for the delay in the wrecker getting to our site.
An actual, old-fashioned tow truck arrived, accompanied by a flat-bed. There had been a failure to communicate properly what our situation was. That is, the tow truck operator, whose name is Bear (no, I'm not making this up), thought that he would have to tow the motor home and the flatbed separately. I said that that was not necessary. All that had to be done was to load our flatbed onto their flatbed with the Trail Blazer to be taken to the tire shop for two new tires (the other tire on the right side was about to blow out). Bear said that that was a non-starter, that his flatbed was not heavy enough to carry our flatbed and the Trail Blazer. He suggested unloading the Trail Blazer. I responded quickly, "No, I don't think that's going to happen."
A happy solution, we thought, was found when Bear said that he could take off the tires on the right side of the flatbed and take them to the tire dealer at the Fairview/Dickson exit to be replaced with new ones. I would have to go with him to pay for the tires, which would then be brought back to the site of the motor home/flatbed combination.
"Done deal," I said firmly. "Let's do it," explaining to one and all how this cross had been perfectly fashioned for us from all eternity by God Himself and that the graces He won for us on Calvary were sufficient to prosper under this cross and to offer all to Him through His Blessed Mother's Immaculate Heart. I think the trooper was listening. I'm not so sure about the others.
Anyhow, Bear pulled his wrecker on the grass alongside the flatbed. What Bear did not take into consideration was how muddy the ground under the grass was as a result of the buckets of rain dropped by Tropical Depression Rita the day before. His wrecker stuck in the mud! He couldn't go anywhere.
"You're stuck?" I asked Bear incredulously.
"Not for long," this good-hearted, hard-working man bellowed. "My partner will get me out."
Thus, Bear's company's flatbed tow truck had to position itself in the mud to pull his own wrecker out of the mud. It was quite a sight to behold, part of which is documented below photographically.
Freed from the mud, Bear drove his wrecker to the rear of the flatbed trailer, bringing out a jack to lift our trailer up far enough so that the two tires on the right side of the dilapidating vehicle could be taken off and brought to the tire shop. Again, this is documented photographically below, as is my own entry into the tow truck to accompany Bear and his associate to the tire shop.
The ride to the tire shop was a little hair-raising. Bear crossed the highway to a U-turn space for "authorized vehicles." The driver of an eighteen wheeler blared his horn as Bear crossed into the U-Turn space, coming very close to hitting the truck in which I was a passenger.
"That was close!" Bear exclaimed. "Sorry if my landing here was a little rough. I didn't want to get wiped out the way I was a few years ago."
Yes, you see, Bear had been hit and seriously injured by a truck in similar circumstances. This is why he has "Hooked on Jesus" on the tow hook on his wrecker. He is grateful to Our Lord for having saved him. Do you see what I mean, ladies and gentleman, about good people being left to wander in the darkness, thinking that they have true Faith, without being evangelized by the Church. Bear would make a great Catholic. So would the trooper. No one had attempted to evangelize them until the few fleeting moments we were given with them on Monday, September 26, 2005, and all we could do was to plant a few seeds.
Bear dropped the tires and yours truly off at the tire shop as he took his associate, who was talking about how he had been in the wrecker business since for thirteen years, half of twenty-six years of life, home. Bear had been in the business since he was seven. They work very hard to make their living. Once again, think of how much merit would be theirs if they knew they could offer up all of that hard work for the honor and glory of God through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Think of the levels of sanctity they could pursue if they had access to the Sacrament of Penance and to the worthy reception of Holy Communion. Men disposed to natural virtue are capable of high sanctity if given access to sanctifying grace. My heart just sank to see how truly decent men are left to their own devices without the helps provided by Holy Mother Church. We must pray and pray and pray for the conversion of all people to the true Church.
Well, the fellow in the tire shop, although a little distracted by a phone call from his employer, put on the new tires, which, it turns out, are not what we are supposed to have on the flatbed. The new tires replaced the old tires, which had something called "dry rot" on them (pretty bad, huh?), but the old tires were the wrong tires to have on the flatbed to begin with. It's better to how new wrong tires than old wrong tires. We are going to have to replace all of the tires with correct ones, called "trailer load" tires, at some point before the end of the world. Oh, those folks in rural Texas really raked us over good.
Indeed, I placed a telephone call both on Sunday and on Monday to those folks in rural Texas who sold us the flatbed. I was promised a return phone call on both occasions. No such call has been received. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
Bear came back to take me back to the motor home. I had plunked down $163.70 for two new tires and mounting. I had to pay Bear $90.00 for his work.
"How many books was that?" Sharon asked me later. "Too many, honey," I replied. "I don't even want to think about it right now."
We returned to the motor home/flatbed combination. The state trooper was still, thankfully, standing guard, reading a bit from a copy of Restoring Christ as the King of All Nations that I had given him. The two new tires were put on the flatbed, which was then lowered back to the ground.
"I'd get those other tires replaced," Bear told me. "They're not going to last long." He recommended a Firestone dealer at Exit 196, some thirteen miles east of where we had been for nearly four long hours. I thanked him and he was off on his way, crossing the highway once again to that U-Turn space.
I thanked the trooper once again for all he had done, inviting him once more into the true means of salvation, the Catholic Church. I told him that we would be praying for his entire family and asked him to keep in touch with us via e-mail
As I boarded the motor home after this latest adventure, Sharon began our travel prayers, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. . . ." We were off on the way again, well, at least for a short while.
We had to stop at the Firestone dealer just about ten miles west of Nashville, which is where I learned that the new tires were, in reality, passenger car tires that were not designed to carry a load such as a car loaded down with boxes of books.
"Those other tires have to be replaced. We just don't have them in stock."
"All to you Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls," I said to myself as I walked out of the store, relating the tale to Sharon.
We then got back on the road at around 7:00 p.m., Central Daylight Savings Time, deciding to drive to Louisville, Kentucky, so that we could get to Mass of all ages at Saint Benedict Church at 10:00 a.m., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Tuesday morning, September 27, 2005, the Feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian. The trip to Louisville, interrupted by some much needed shopping for provisions to feed Lucy Mary Norma while en route, was uneventful.
We were indeed able to get to Holy Mass yesterday, and was while en route back to the campground (we decided to take the day off from travels--or non-travels, that is) I spied a truck from a tire company that appeared to provide on-site service. Would they come out to a campground to put tires on here without our having to move the whole assembly yet again. Yes, they would!
Committed, however, to the concept of new wrong tires, we had to buy two more new wrong tires to match the new wrong tires that I had purchased on Monday, September 26. Willie, the man who put on the tires, assured me that they would carry the load for now. He was even good enough to notice that the right front tire of the Trail Blazer was about to collapse through the rotted wood beneath it. He jacked up the car in a matter of minutes, easily putting the other steel mesh ramp underneath the right tire.
"Ah," I told Willie, "this is what should have happened on Sunday night in Memphis."
Thus, it appears (emphasis on appears) that we have a somewhat functioning flatbed for the rest of our journey, which we will complete today, September 27, the Feast of Saint Wenceslaus. One of our recurring family jokes is my telling Sharon, "Well, I think we've finally gotten the bugs out of the motor home" after some particularly bad problem has been repaired, only to have something else go wrong within a matter of hours. Thus, trying to be as serious as I could, "Honey, I think we've finally gotten the bugs out of the flatbed." She broke out laughing. I could not contain myself. I laughed so hard that I spat out some iced tea onto my computer screen! All to you Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
This terrible, recidivist sinner is so truly blessed to have such a wonderful, patient, loving wife. She is totally supportive of the life that we live to try to give souls access to the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church and to promote the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King and of the Traditional Latin Mass as the consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. She is an exemplary mother, helping Lucy to love the things of the Faith. There is nothing that Lucy loves more than to play with her holy cards. And does she ever know her saints. As a matter of fact, Lucy said, upon seeing Bear from the window of the motor home, "There's Saint Benedict." Well, there was a slight resemblance there, to be honest with you.
Oh, yes, it does not matter to me one little bit that few people understand the work that we are attempting to do. Both Sharon and I know that the only one who wants this work, no matter how little income it generates and how tenuously we must live, to stop even for a moment is the adversary, who tries to throw obstacle after obstacle in our paths. I am blessed to have a wife who has embrace the life of Holy Poverty, content to rely totally upon Our Lady as we endeavor to do what most people consider is utter madness in a world where Christ is not King and His Most Blessed Mother is not honored as our Queen.
The intentions of all hearts and the circumstances of all lives are made manifest only on the Last Day at the General Judgment of the Living and the Dead. As long as we have the breath of life, though, each of us is called to carry on with the work of the Faith according to the talents that God has given us so that those intentions and circumstances, having been purified through the crucible of suffering united with the Cross of the Divine Redeemer through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, may be seen to have played some small role by means of God's graces in the restoration of a world that is decidedly Catholic in everything without any exception whatsoever.
Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint Wenceslaus, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us and protect us.
Saint Jerome, pray for us.
There's "Saint Benedict," as Lucy called him, otherwise known as Bear, watching his wreck get pulled out of the mud.
There goes the wrecker. I am watching in disbelief as Sharon captures the tow of the tow on a digital camera.
The wrecker, liberated at last!
At work on the tires. A careful look will reveal how the board under the right front was sagging.
The blown out tire. You can see the mud track made by the wrecker when it was pulled out of the mud.
The state trooper's SUV. A view of the oncoming traffic. It was very interesting, folks.
Getting into the wrecker for my ride to the tire shop. Saint Christopher, pray for us!
Another onlooker. I guess one bear wanted to see what another "Bear" was doing.