Tailoring the Church for Modern Man
Thomas A. Droleskey
An article from three months ago, Tailoring the Message for Modern Man, dealt with the belief of the "new thinkers," including the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, that the Gospel message must be tailored for the "needs" of "modern" man. Ambiguity and nuance replaced clarity and certainty. Efforts have been made to empty defined dogmas of the meaning that they have held from time immemorial in order to fill the phrases signifying those dogmas with the content of Modernists. Pope Pius XII wrote about this in Humani Generis, August 12, 1950:
In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.
Moreover they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.
Pope Pius XII was describing in Humani Generis the very biases of Joseph Ratzinger and his mentors, including Hans Urs von Balthasar.
"Modern man" is prideful man, believing that he has "new" insights into the human condition. He believes that he can even ignore solemn statements issued by dogmatic councils of the Church that anathematize his alleged "insights" This pronouncement of the First Vatican Council has been completely ignored by the conciliarists as they use the word "Tradition" to signify a nebulous dialectic that leads us to an ever more "mature" and "contemporary" understanding of Revelation:
Hence, that meaning of the sacred dogmata is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy Mother Church, and there must never be an abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.... If anyone says that it is possible that at some given time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmata propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has always understood and understands: let him be anathema.
The fact that most Catholics today, including bishops and priests, are bereft of the sensus Catholicus is due in no small measure to the bewilderment produced by the ever-changing and ever-changable Novus Ordo Missae, which has accustomed Catholics to "change" as a part of their ordinary lives. Rapid and ceaseless changes in the "official" worship of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church has been seen by most Catholics as a signal that doctrine itself is just as subject to these sorts of changes, which was one of the goals of the liturgical revolutionaries. Part of "razing the bastions" of Catholicism involves the tearing down of everything that made Catholics "too" secure in their Faith, which why the Mass of Tradition, resonant with clarity and permanence and solemnity, had to be torn down as the first part of the revolutionary program.
Liturgical bewilderment became a part of Catholic life in 1956 when the changes in the Holy Week liturgy, critiqued four months ago on this site, were implemented. Priests and ordinary lay Catholics alike were very taken aback by the changes, which presaged other changes that few Catholics could imagine possible. The rich panoply of octaves was reduced from fifteen to three in the name of "simplification" (although priests and the laity alike were able to prosper under the full fifteen octaves for centuries without any concern of concern until the Twentieth Century). The feast days of canonized saints, including Saint Philomena herself, whose feast day is August 11, were suppressed by John XXIII, conveying the definite impression that the Church had been "wrong" to include the feasts of individuals about whose lives "little" was said to be known for certain. This is a very important point as it would lead Catholics to think that the Church could be "wrong" on other matters, including those pertaining to Faith and morals.
Over and above the inherent problems in the Novus Ordo Missae, which I have examined at length in G.I.R.M. Warfare, an ecclesiastical spirit of libertarianism was created in the aftermath of the implementation of the new Mass in 1969. Kneeling was forbidden for the reception of Holy Communion. People were focusing on their neighbors, not God, just before the reception of Holy Communion during the Sign of Peace. Raucous new music was introduced to accustom the faithful to profanity as acceptable in the context of what purported to be the worship of God. The reception of Communion in the hand and the distribution of Communion under both species were introduced so as to undermine belief in the sacerdotal priesthood of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Some of the feast days of the saints who were kept on the universal calendar of the "reformed" liturgy were moved from where they had been from time immemorial. And, starting in the 1990s, Catholics in more and more places around the world were "relieved" of the obligation to assist at Mass on Holy Days of Obligation if the Mass fell on a Monday or on a Saturday (with Christmas being an exception). Coupled with the relaxation of the laws of fast and abstinence, in accord with the bias against "external acts of penance" contained in Paragraph 15 of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal, the accommodations made liturgically to the "needs" of "modern" man produced Catholics who cared little for the interior life of the soul who believed that there was little that they could do or say that would send them to Hell, if such a place really exists, that is.
The Novus Ordo Missae has been, therefore, a principal agent in accustoming Catholics to an Hegelian view of the Faith and to reaffirming them in their worldly pursuits undertaken without regard to the salvation of their immortal souls. A Mass that is designed to suit the "needs" of "modern" man cannot have reference to a God Who judges and the possibility of the loss of one's souls. No, a Mass that is designed to suit the "needs" of "modern" man must appeal to his vanity and to his desire for ease and ready luxury. The Novus Ordo Missae leads ultimately to demands for more and more accommodations to the the "needs" of modern man, including transferring the observance of most Holy Days of Obligation to the nearest Sunday.
Thus it is that the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales announced on July 27, 2006, that Benedict XVI had approved their proposal to move all Holy Days of Obligation to Sunday, save for Christmas Day, which will remain, at least for now, on December 25. After all, "modern" man is too "busy" to be forced under penalty of Mortal Sin to assist at Mass on a weekday. The world has changed. The economy has changed. The "needs" of "modern" man must be taken into account when considering his religious duties. The truth of the matter, however, is this: our religious duties must be taken into account first and foremost before we pursue anything in this passing, mortal vale of tears.
Liturgical feast days, including Holy Days of Obligation, should be commemorated with joy. Special observances should be kept in the home. Details about the life of the saint of the day--or details about the particular feast of Our Lord or Our Lady that is observed on a given day--must be read to our children. Days of particular solemnity, such as Holy Days, should be ones in which men who are wage-slaves take off from their work, if at all possible, and those who conduct their own businesses shut their doors to business. There are still pockets of places in Latin America where this is the case, where the feast of a patronal saint of a parish or a country is truly a holiday (which word is derived from Holy Day, after all). It must be so in our lives. This is what way we can combat secularism in the lives of our family and can give witness to others that our lives are organized around the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, not around the Masonic holidays of the plaster "saints" of national mythology or the Hallmark holidays created to sell greeting cards. We should be concerned about sending Mass cards to our relatives and friends for their birthdays and anniversaries, not greeting cards.
Those of us who keep to the authentic Tradition of the Catholic Church are a relative handful of people, which is one of the reasons the internecine warfare in our ranks must cease. How can be attempt to be Christ's leaven in the world when we go around shooting at each other? Yes, the wandering remnant, must give a vibrant witness to the joy that is produced in our lives from everything that is involved with being a Catholic, including the carrying of the crosses that have been fashioned by God from all eternity to suit us specifically and for which His ineffable graces are completely sufficient to bear in a spirit of equanimity and total surrender to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. We must not permit conciliarism's tailoring of the Church to meet the "needs" of "modern" man to influence us in the slightest.
Benedict XVI's approval of the plan of the English and Welsh bishops to transfer all Holy Days of Obligation save for Christmas to Sundays demonstrates the cloudiness and murkiness of his thought process, itself the product of the spirit of the likes of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henri de Lubac and Karl Rahner and Maurice Blondel and Johann Baptist Metz, among others.
That is, Benedict is evidently quite concerned about the inroads made by secularism in the world, although he does not accept the fact that the only antidote for secularism is the triumph of Catholicism in every aspect of a country's life and the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King. Indeed, the former Joseph Ratzinger, the man who opposes secularism, endorses one of the chief means by which secularism has spread into the world, the Modern State that does not recognize Catholicism as its official religion. The inroads made by secularism are in large measure the result of the refusal of the Modern State to so recognize the true Faith as the only foundation of personal and social order. Benedict's "healthy secularity" or "healthy laicism" thus reaffirm State indifferentism to religion, which itself produces atheism as the lowest common denominator.
Consider these words, yes, once again, from Pope Leo XIII's Immortale Dei, November 1, 1885:
To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name. Men who really believe in the existence of God must, in order to be consistent with themselves and to avoid absurd conclusions, understand that differing modes of divine worship involving dissimilarity and conflict even on most important points cannot all be equally probable, equally good, and equally acceptable to God.
Despite his apparent sincerity in seeking to combat secularism, Benedict XVI feeds into it by refusing to adhere to the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the necessity of her being recognized as the official religion of the State. Benedict feeds into secularism by promoting the belief, contrary to both reason and Revelation, that the adherents of false religions can contribute to the betterment of societies by the use of their "doctrines." Benedict feeds into secularism by being an enthusiast for "ecumenism," which he believes will unite people of different "faiths" into a common cause against secularism. A person with a clear mind can see, as Pope Leo XIII noted in Immortale Dei, that conflicting religious ideas do not result in a synthesis of anything other than atheism. This is not all seen by Benedict and by others who are possessed of the Hegelian mind.
Moreover, Benedict feeds into secularism by surrendering to its grip on men and their nations when he does such things as approves the transfer of all but one of the remaining six Holy Days of Obligation in the Roman Calendar to a Sunday. He does not see this. There is no conflict in his mind between accommodating the "needs" of "modern" man and opposing, at least rhetorically, man's immersion in the modern world. He does not see that the one and only antidote to secularism is Catholicism--and Catholicism as it has been handed down to us from the Apostles without one iota of change.
This madness is going to continue until we have a pope who will fulfill Our Lady's Fatima Message. In the meantime, though, no matter what positions, if any, we take concerning the state of the Church in this time of crisis, let us seek refuge in the traditional underground. Find a good priest who understands the Faith and who offers the Mass of the ages well. Live the liturgical life of the Church. Read Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year. Extricate yourself and your family members from whatever grip the popular culture has on you. Consecrate yourself totally to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Offer to her the fruit of all of your prayers and sufferings and joys and penances and mortifications. Keep her Divine Son company in His Real Presence. Insulating ourselves from the madness and the absurdity and the insanity of conciliarism will help us to be good apostles of Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was built on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, a spot where an unexpected summer snowfall had occurred. A wealthy Roman couple beseeched Our Lady to ask her what to do with their plenteous material means. She appeared to them in a dream to ask them to build a church on the spot where the snow had fallen. A wonderful, loving intervention on the part of the Mother of God, who knew that the Crib in which she placed her Divine Son following His Nativity in Bethlehem would be placed in that very basilica.
We must rely upon Our Lady during these times of ecclesiastical confusion and contradiction. She will make manifest the triumph of her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. There will be the Reign of Mary. May we, by remaining steadfast to the Church's authentic Tradition and totally loyal to our dear, dear Blessed Mother, try to plant a few seeds so that this great triumph will occur sooner rather than later, so that the Church will present the unchanging message of her Divine Son according to the eternal needs of each soul, that is, to gain Heaven by dying in a state of Sanctifying Grace as a member of the Catholic Church.
Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of the Snow, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Martha, pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
Saint Anne, pray for us.
Saint Joachim, pray for us.
Saint Athanasius, pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, pray for us.
Pope Saint Stephen I, pray for us.
Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, pray for us.
Saint Dominic, pray for us.
Saint Basil, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
The Seven Machabees, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, pray for us.
Saint Tarcisius, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Blessed Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Blessed Francisco, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta, pray for us.
Sister Lucia, pray for us.
The Longer Version of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII, 1888
O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
Verse: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
Response: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
Verse: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
Response: As we have hoped in Thee.
Verse: O Lord hear my prayer.
Response: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Verse: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls.