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March 19, 2004

Faithless, Heartless Bureaucrats

Revolutionaries hate everything about the past, which is why they must resort to physical violence against people and property so as to wipe out all traces of the past, to say nothing of teaching any possible counter-revolutionaries a lesson or two about what might befall then and their families and their property if they stand up to the inexorable march of the evolutionary forces of progress.

The first real modern revolution was the Protestant Revolution (whose path was certainly made possible by the sophistries and lies of pretended “philosophers” in the Renaissance), which was a violent and bloody assault upon the priestly hierarchy established by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the Last Supper and upon anyone who held fast to it in spite of the slogans and misuse of history and theology by the revolutionaries and their apologists. Catholic churches were ransacked and stripped, statues destroyed, altars smashed, confessionals ripped out. I know, this sounds pretty much like what has happened within the Catholic Church in the past thirty-five years or so, which is precisely the point: the spirit of the innovation and the novelties of the past thirty-five to forty-five years is indeed Protestant to its very core, manifesting itself not only in the novelties of the Novus Ordo Missae but in the very design of our church buildings, both exteriorly and interiorly.

Indeed, the Protestant hatred of the glories of Catholicism reached fever pitch with John Calvin and his bloodthirsty disciples throughout Europe. Oliver Cromwell smashed altars in England with glee in the Seventeenth Century. The Immemorial Mass of Tradition was replaced with a "worship service," focusing on community fellowship which attempted to recapture the mythical spirit of a mythical, simpler liturgy. Again, this sounds very familiar to war-weary traditional Catholics who have seen the Faith of our Fathers stolen from us by wolves who are dressed in shepherds' clothing.

The Protestant Revolution, founded in its hatred for Christ’s true Church, was but the precursor of all modern social revolutions, starting with the French Revolution, founded as they have been in the hatred of everything to do with God and the deification of man. The French Revolutionaries executed many Catholics, all to the delight of the bloodthirsty crowds, and committed unspeakable blasphemies in Catholic churches, including on the high altar of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The Freemasons who overthrew the Papal States in Italy were motived in large measure by a fierce anti-clericalism and a hatred for all things Catholic. Otto von Bismarck’s Kulturkampf sought, at least for a brief time, to make war upon the true Church in Germany as he sought to create the world’s first Welfare State. The Bolesheviks, having reached an accommodation with the Russian Orthodox to purchase their silence and to give them churches stolen from the Catholic Church, made war upon Catholics wherever they were found in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (especially in the Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States) and the countries of Eastern Europe seized by force during and after World II that had large concentrations of Catholics. The Freemasons in Mexico, many of whom made war upon each other occasionally, persecuted the Church with intermittent ferocity, reaching a fever pitch in the second and third decades of the Twentieth Century. And the Maoists are still at work in Red China, persecuting the tiny minority of Roman Catholics in the underground Church there, doing so without a word of protest by any American presidential administration, Republican or Democrat. Sadly, this is only a partial listing of the attacks upon the Church by the world’s social revolutionaries in the past two hundred fifteen years.

Of particular interest to revolutionaries is the destruction of all physical reminders of the past. Statues are knocked down and destroyed. As noted above, churches are ransacked or turned into museums or shrines of the revolution. Even the dating of time itself must be altered so as to create the illusion that the Incarnation of the Word in Our Lady’s virginal and immaculate womb never occurred and that time itself has not been forever divided by it. Revolutionaries must convince others, both by means of sloganeering propaganda and the use of brute physical force, that the world of the past was bad and the world of the revolution is that of progress and justice. It will always be so for those who deny the special creation of man by God in the Garden of Eden, man’s fall from Grace in that Garden, the Incarnation of the Co-Eternal Son as Man and His Passion, Death, and Resurrection as defining the entirety of human existence. Revolutionaries never learn the lessons of their predecessors. Each supposedly new variation of the old revolutionary lie of the Devil told to Eve in the Garden of Eden is premised upon its originality and upon the promise it holds to redeem men and nations.

Statism is the one of the rotten fruits of social revolutions, some of which occur quietly, as has happened in the United States of America in the past century, something I discussed in article in the June 2000 issue of Christ or Chaos (which I may reprint at some point on this site). The State must take the place of the Church as the guide for all social activity. The phenomenon of political correctness in the West, noted so presciently by Dr. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn at Harvard University on June 8, 1978, has spread so successfully in the past thirty years because the very people who claim to be “independent” of any external authority are actually seeking precisely that: some ultimate authority to guide them as to how to live and be “happy.” The State thus fills the void left by the Protestant Revolt and its overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ King, corrupting every aspect of culture and law and bankrupting a nation by squandering the income of its people on unjust, evil program administered by a totally unnecessary and bloated bureaucracy that we are convinced by these statists is essential to human progress and happiness.

In essence, you see, the “errors of Russia” Our Lady spoke about in 1917 are the errors of Modernity, founded in its rejection of and war on the Incarnation and the Deposit of Faith her Son has entrusted to His true Church. Marxism-Leninism just happens to be the enshrinement of those errors, which have manifested themselves in so many different ways throughout the world in past five centuries, starting with the aforementioned Renaissance. And the errors of Modernity, which involves a worship of “scientific methods” of inquiry, are really at the foundation of the heresy of Modernism, analyzed so brilliantly and completely by Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi Domenici Gregis, issued on September 8, 1907. This multifaceted heresy has wreaked much havoc in the life of the Church in the past century. Indeed, it is responsible for the liturgical and theological revolutions that have undermined the Faith from within and have cast aside almost everything to do with the Church’s actual patrimony prior to 1958 that would have gladdened the hearts of Luther or Calvin or Cromwell or Danton or Garibaldi or Santa Ana or your ordinary thirty-third degree Mason.

Revolutionaries, of course, don’t retreat. They keep insisting that their plans are succeeding even when all empirical disproves their positivist lies. They come up with new plans and strategies, each of which is enforced with exceptional zeal. This should sound familiar to traditional Catholics, especially since the failure of the liturgical and theological revolutions of the past forty to forty-five years is hailed as a success, a veritable “springtime of the Church and a “qualitative renewal” in a “civilization of love” by those who planned and have implemented this disaster.

Part of the zeal of the revolutionaries within the Church in the past forty years has been to destroy everything associated with her past. The Immemorial Mass of Tradition was cast aside. Almost every encyclical letter prior to 1958 was consigned to the Orwellian memory hole, with only a handful referenced now and then. For example, there was only one footnoted reference, at Paragraph 22, to Pope Pius XII’s Mediator Dei in the first document issued by the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium even though there was a gap of only sixteen years (1947-1963) between the two documents. The destruction of the Sacred Liturgy was followed in short order by the wrecking of the interior of our churches so that they could be “renewed” for the mythical liturgy of the past that we were told was simply being “restored” to its rightful place. Those churches that had the misfortune of being incapable of “renewal” were slated for sale or outright destruction, sold to the highest bidder by faithless, heartless bureaucrats interested only in the bottom line and/or the removal from the sight and the minds of Catholics the glories of the past.

Enter Edward Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York. “Insiders” reported nearly four years ago that Cardinal Egan was appointed the successor of the late John Cardinal O’Connor partly because of his ability to raise funds. Cardinal Egan has sought to raise funds by closing and selling over thirty older churches within the archdiocese, many of them located in the Borough of Manhattan.

One of those churches is Saint Ann’s Church, which is located on East 12th Street near Greenwich Village. It is one of the most glorious churches my eyes have ever beheld. And I had the privilege as a single man of going there practically every Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. Traditional Latin Mass (Saturday liturgy) that was instituted with the permission of John Cardinal O’Connor in 1989. Yes, I know. No priest needs permission to offer the Traditional Latin Mass, the attendance of which is, as Michael Davies has noted, is our baptismal birthright as Latin Rite Catholics. However, the indult, as unnecessary as it is, has been the bridge for many of us to find our way into the fullness of the Church’s tradition, which is expressed most perfectly and beautifully in the Traditional Latin Mass but encompasses the entirety of the Deposit of Faith.

My wife Sharon, who had converted to the Faith through the Traditional Mass, and I assisted at Holy Mass there two days after we were married in June of 2001. Our daughter, Lucy Mary Norma, made her first appearance there on April 6, 2002, when she was just ten days old–and six days after her baptism in the traditional rite in Omaha, Nebraska. The wonderful family I have been blessed with made the thirty-five mile trip in from Bethpage, Long Island, to St. Ann’s from that point until we left Long Island as residents on July 25, 2003. Our final Mass there was on September 6, 2003, at which point we heard the news that the future of the church had been put on hold temporarily. There appeared to be reason for hope that St. Ann’s, which has been the home of Armenian Catholics for a long time, would stay open.

Such hope was misplaced. Cardinal Egan, among other things, is a bottom-line bureaucrat, a cleric who has forgotten that there is more to a church building than brick and mortar and the value of the real estate upon which it sits. St. Ann’s is especially important. As one man who wrote to me last year when I had written about its pending closing in The Remnant, “Such a closing will be a disaster.” Indeed, it is.

Everything about Saint Ann’s Church is beautiful, expressing the beauty of God and the glories of Heaven. Its particular perfection was to be seen when the movable “table” for the Novus Ordo was out of sight and the magnificent marble high altar, one of the few Privileged Altars in the nation, stood alone as the vessel on which the God-Man was made incarnate under the appearance of bread and wine by an alter Christus acting in persona Christi. The altar rail was a reminder of the distinction between the hierarchical priesthood of the sacerdos and the common priesthood of the lay faithful, a division between the temporality in which we live, signified by the nave of the church, and the timeless of the Mass, which transports us back to Calvary and is at the same time a foretaste of Heaven. The solid wood pews were a reminder of how we who sat in them had to remain solid in our faith and humble in bearing before God. The marvelous statues provided the faithful with an opportunity to reflect on the virtues we are all called to imitate as we lift high the Cross of the Divine Redeemer in our lives and in the world. There is no price tag that can be placed on all of this, to say nothing of the countless souls who have been fed unto eternity with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, of those who have had their souls regenerated in the baptismal font and in the confessional, of the couples who were married there, of the souls whose mortal remains left there for a cemetery after their requiem Masses.

Sure, churches have caught fire and burned to the ground. They have been destroyed by earthquakes or floods. They have been bombed during wars. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to state that one of the great unexplored tragedies of World War II in Europe was the destruction of so many Catholic churches throughout the continent. It can be said that Pope Pius XII was perhaps so focused on the physical rebuilding of the churches destroyed in World War II that he was not paying careful attention as he appointed men like Annibale Bugnini to important posts and then accepted representations from them that such “reforms” as those that were instituted for Holy Week in 1955 were actually a “restoration” of some long forgotten rite, paving the way for the further decadence of the liturgy in the 1962 and 1965 Missals prior to the Novus Ordo Missae of 1969. How very insidious of the adversary to use a war between nations so that those from within the Catholic Church who wanted to make war upon the Sacred Litugy could do so incrementally while the Pope’s attention was focused on trying to help churches recover from the physical cost of said war.

Thus having noted that churches have been destroyed or suffered damage throughout the centuries, what we are witnessing at present is truly unprecedented: large scale sales of church buildings that could be preserved and maintained if dioceses and archdioceses cut their bloated bureaucracies and the paper and materiels produced thereby, ended unnecessary and harmful “workshop” programs, and had bishops removed from priestly ministry all sodomites actually guilty of offenses and prevented sodomites from being ordained to the priesthood. This unprecedented sale of churches is prompted in some instances by heartless bottom-line cost accounting (which does not, as indicated above, take into account the spiritual cost of destroying such treasures), in other instances by a faithless and ruthless revolutionary zeal to remove all vestiges of the past from the view of Catholics.

The hardy souls who traveled to Saint Ann’s Church every Saturday for the Traditional Latin Mass braved heavy traffic, inclement weather, street closings for various “street fairs,” and difficulties in finding a parking place near the church. Priests were recruited on a weekly basis by Mr. David Lane, who is associated with Manhattan chapter of Una Voce America. Some of the priests offered the Mass of our fathers very well. Our dear friend, the late Father Salvatore V. Franco, who was so kind to offer my family the Traditional Mass in his kitchen practically every day for several months in 2002 after Lucy was born and before he took ill and died, offered Mass there once in a while, doing so with exquisite perfection. Father Richard Trezza, a Franciscan, was always a special joy to listen to. Many priests passed through the doors of Saint Ann’s over the years, including the champion of the Church in China, Father Paul Chan. To be honest, some of the older priests who offered the Mass at St. Ann’s on Saturdays flubbed things pretty badly, trying to do the Mass from their memory of it. The irony of this is not lost on the revolutionaries in chancery offices: many younger priests, who have had to teach themselves or have had to be instructed by others about how to offer the Traditional Mass, offer it better than those who had been ordained in and for it.

The Mass offered at St. Ann’s on Saturdays was usually a Missa Cantata. Vocalist Joyce Linton and another woman, whose last name I do not know, sang beautiful traditional hymns. The organist who had devoted thirteen years of his life to the Saturday Mass at St. Ann’s quit in February of 2003 while giving a tirade from the choir loft about the decision to close St. Ann’s, which was the first time that most of us had heard that the church was in danger of being closed and sold. He was visibly shaken by such a betrayal of the faithful. Although his public tirade was inappropriate inside the church before Mass, one could understand the depth of his anguish, yet another victim of parent abuse: the abuse by church authorities of their spiritual children.

An effort was begun to save Saint Ann’s, including reciting a Novena to Saint Ann after Mass each Saturday afternoon. A relic of Saint Ann was used to bless the faithful after the recitation of the novena. Good souls such as Walter Phelan, an attorney for the New York City Transit Authority, led the effort to have people keep up their prayers in behalf of the preservation of Saint Ann’s. A homeless man named Jimmy who hung around the parking lot where many of us parked our cars said the following when interviewed by a television station news crew last summer: “They gotta save Saint Ann’s. They just gotta save Saint Ann’s. Don’t let them tear down Saint Ann’s Church.”

Well, the decision to close Saint Ann’s has been made. It is being sold to the United States Postal Service for a reported sum of several million dollars. The Archdiocese of New York says that the money is needed from parishes that have outlived their usefulness to help to subsidize parishes in the five counties north of affluent Westchester and Rockland counties. Again, there are ways to save revenue, starting with the elimination of a bloated bureaucracy. If the Archdiocese of New York wants to save money, let it start by selling the chancery office on First Avenue. That should bring in a lot of ready cash. But no, a chancery office is sacrosanct; a repository of the Blessed Sacrament must be de-commissioned and sold to the highest bidder.

What is lost on these faithless, hearless bureaucrats is the spiritual bottom line: how will the City of New York be a poorer place spiritually with one less Catholic Church wherein Our Lord comes down from Heaven to feed souls and wherein He resides in His Real Presence for our adoration, accompanied by all of the saints and angels, starting with Our Blessed Mother. The country of France is still suffering the consequences, both ecclesiastically and socially, for all of the warfare made upon the Church during the French Revolution--and for the actual celebration of the spirit of the Revolution by many within the Church hierarchy in France today. Attendance in French diocesan churches hovers at between five and ten percent, if that, of baptized Catholics, a product of the French Revolution and the liturgical revolution of the past thirty-five years. Church buildings there are being sold to the Muslims, who have flocked to formerly Catholic France, which suffers also because her bishops will not forcefully denounce evils such as contraception, Oh, yes, there are social consequences aplenty when churches are closed and the Traditional Mass is denied to the people. Such a spiritual bottom line is lost on our own heartless, faithless bureaucrats, who continue to ride on their own donkeys as Our Lord is driven out cruelly from yet another Catholic church.

The effort to save Saint Ann’s Church has not stopped. The Society of Pope Saint Pius X offered a Mass on East 12th Street outside of Saint Ann’s on March 6, 2004, to make reparation for its closing and pending sale. Over 300 people were in attendance, another testament to the solid Catholic action offered by the Society (as we saw in the case of Father McMahon and the Buddhists in Grand Rapids, Michigan). The priests of the Society have a far clearer understanding of the spiritual consequences for souls of the closing of Saint Ann's than the self-righteous bottom-line bureucrats at 1011 First Avenue, the address of the twenty-story archdiocesan chancery office. And a weekly prayer vigil will be held outside of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral every Wednesday, starting on March 24, 2004, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. Those of you who live in and around the New York City metropolitan area should make it a special point of joining this vigil, which we intend on joining ourselves if we find ourselves back in New York.

Just as our living patrimony has been destroyed by the revolutionaries from within the Church, so is it the case that those who are forgetful of that patrimony will be heartless as they deal with the glories of the churches like Saint Ann’s on East 12th Street in Manhattan. Invoking, therefore, the
intercession of Saint Ann, the mother of the Mother of God, we hope and pray that Cardinal Egan will renege on the deal with the United States Postal Service. Perhaps a fellow with a little spare change, say, someone like Mel Gibson, might come along to buy the church and to have it become a fully traditional parish offering the Traditional Mass and all of the sacraments on a daily basis, something that doesn’t exist anywhere in the five boroughs of the City of New York or anywhere in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, or Rockland Counties. The only place where there is such a parish is Our Lady of Fatima Chapel in Pequannock, New Jersey, which is administered now by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (and which has nineteen scheduled Masses every week). Alas, that is about twenty-five miles from Manhattan. What a wonderful denouement to this sorry episode it would be to have Saint Ann’s saved and become a fully traditional parish.

This article is being posted on the Feast of Saint Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church. He, the son-in-law of Saint Ann, is most powerful. He is the man who denied himself his biological fatherhood in order to be the foster-father of the Word Who was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us. The model of all patience and virtue, we must pray to this glorious saint, a man who labored hard at his trade as a carpenter, so that his embrace of poverty will inspire men like Cardinal Egan to have their hearts of stone turned once more into hearts of flesh, hearts that will see in treasures like Saint Ann’s Church a boon to the salvation of souls and the honor and glory of God upon which no earthly price tag can be placed.

Our Lady, the daughter of Saint Ann, pray for Holy Mother Church in these troubling times.

Saint Ann, pray for us.

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