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Caritas Super Omnia

The supernatural virtue of Charity was infused into our souls at the moment of our baptism. As Saint Paul teaches us, it is the only infused virtue that lasts in the souls of the just for eternity. We will have no need for the supernatural virtues of Faith and Hope if we have died in a state of grace and gain possession of the Beatific Vision. Indeed, it is the privation of the virtue of Charity from the souls of the unjust that damns them to Hell for eternity.

Charity is not an empty headed sentiment. Authentic Charity consists in mirroring God's love for us, which wills our good, the ultimate expression of which is the salvation of our immortal souls. We do not love ourselves or others authentically if we do or say anything that interferes with the sanctification and salvation of their souls in any way. As is the case with the other two supernatural virtues-and with the natural virtues, Charity must be increased in our souls by our worthy and fervent reception of Our Lord in Holy Communion and by the rooting out of our venial sins and failings by frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance. Charity is also increased by our voluntary acts of penance and mortification, the time we spend in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, our total consecration to the Mother of God, Scripture reading, spiritual reading, and devotions such as the Stations of the Cross.

The precepts of the virtue of Charity demand that we treat our fellow human beings as we would treat Our Lord Himself. This does not mean, however, that we look the other way as someone we know persists unrepentantly in a life of sin or makes war upon the Deposit of Faith or upon the reverent worship of God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It does mean, though, that we are required to remember the fallen state of us all when we undertake the necessary task of correcting those who are in error, always trying to join a firm rejoinder with an assurance of prayers for those who err. We can never cast into the darkness even those who are the worst revolutionaries in the Church and the enemies who attack the Church from the outside. It is a fundamental sin against Charity to give up on those revolutionaries and enemies. While recognizing a duty to correct error and falsehood with necessary firmness and resolution, we have a fundamental duty to pray for all people-and to remind others to do so.

The prompt for this particular reflection on the supernatural virtue of Charity was a phone call I had received from a reader of The Remnant. He wanted to complain about some of my articles that he considered to be "Novus Ordo friendly." As a very harsh critic of the foundations of the new Mass, I was a little astounded by the man's opening line. I asked him to give me an example of such a "Novus Ordo friendly" article. He made reference to a piece of mine in the December 15, 2003, issue of The Remnant in which I had praised Jack McKeon, the seventy-two year old Catholic man who had guided the Florida Marlins to the 2003 World's Championship against the evil empire known as the New York Yankees. The point of my article was simply this: that McKeon maintained a tender devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux and went to Daily Mass despite working in the rough and tumble world of professional sports is most admirable. The caller objected, saying that McKeon was not a traditionalist and thus was not attending the Traditional Latin Mass every day. McKeon should not be praised for going to the Novus Ordo.

My reaction was one of controlled righteousness. I told the caller that the fact that he, the caller, had been a traditionalist from the very beginning of the movement in this country was a grace from Our Lady. Only a relative handful of individuals (Father Gomar DePauw, Walter Matt, Michael Davies, Hamish Frasier, Father Harry Marchosky, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani) saw things clearly from the beginning and acted courageously to defend the Traditional Latin Mass as the fullest expression and best protection of all of the truths of the Holy Faith. Even priests who became known as great defenders of Tradition, such as the late Father Frederick Schell, S.J., offered the Novus Ordo Missae for a time before they came to embrace Tradition. And Gerry Matatics, who converted from Presbyterianism to the true Faith, underwent a second conversion from a defender of all things Papal to one of the most articulate defenders of Tradition found anywhere in the Church today. People come to Tradition as they respond to the grace of God as it is channeled to us through Our Lady, who is the Mediatrix of all graces. It is nothing other than a grace that any of us have been willing to lose long-standing friendships (and even financial benefactors) to embrace the Traditional Latin Mass and the entirety of the Faith expressed so perfectly and so beautifully therein.

This does not, as I explained to the caller, make us one whit better than any other man, including Catholics who attend the Novus Ordo. My caller's rejoinder was that there has been enough "information" out there to convince people to abandon the Novus Ordo. I tried to tell him that most people have been so thoroughly brainwashed by the bishops and pastors that they believe the Pope is infallible in everything he says or does, including the unprecedented creation of a synthetic concoction such as the Novus Ordo. Most people are busy with their own lives. And those relatively few Catholics who still attend Mass in their local parishes are oblivious to the Traditional Mass because they believe things told to them by their shepherds that are false, meaning that the real culpability is at the level of the wolves in shepherds' clothing. We do no good for the cause of Tradition and the Holy Faith by Pharisaically browbeating people who have not been given the grace of Tradition for not seeing things as they should. Indeed, we fall into the ugly stereotype that so many ordinary Catholics have of traditionalism and of traditional Catholics if we angrily denounce them for being "stupid" and "blind" and "ignorant."

Jack McKeon is thus not to be condemned because he has been too busy to know about the importance of restoring the Traditional Latin Mass. Sadly, there are some in the traditional movement who believe they have the character of reading the souls of others, having convinced themselves that the Novus Ordo is not only harmful, which I believe it is, but invalid and that those who attend it are going to Hell. The fact that a seventy-two year old man has been able to maintain a tender devotion to the Little Flower and gets himself to Daily Mass is a testament to the fact that God's grace is not limited only to the Traditional Mass and to traditional Catholics. In spite of all of the doctrinal and rubrical problems that are part and parcel of the Novus Ordo Missae, Catholics are still able to sanctify and save their immortal souls. Yes, it would be better for them to hear the Mass of tradition. We must encourage them to do so. We must pray for them to do so. However, we do not write off every Catholic who is not a traditionalist. God doesn't write us off. He keeps inviting us to repentance, does He not? Who are we to play God and to judge the subjective state of another's soul and to not only condemn him for failing to see things as they should but refusing to even remember them every single day in our prayers?

Indeed, the spiritual myopia that has been bred as a result of the devastation of the Faith in the past forty years has led at least a few traditional Catholics to forget that there are hundreds of thousands of truly uninformed and misinformed Catholics who spend countless hours of prayer each week before the Blessed Sacrament. They participate in Rosary rallies. They are a peaceful, prayerful presence in front of abortuaries. They are doing the best they can with what has been given to them. We must lead them gently to the truth of Tradition. They are not responsible for the clown Masses and Polka Masses and Rock Masses and the horror of the invasion of the sanctuary during Holy Mass by lay people. If any of them believe that such horrors are good, we must try to convince them otherwise. And we can start with that by having a Traditional Mass or two offered for them to abandon the new Mass and seek out the Traditional Mass wherever it is offered by a validly ordained priest who is not a sedevacantist. Charity impels us to do no less.

Yes, the abuses engendered by the new Mass and the ecclesiastical power structure that has promoted and institutionalized them have caused a good deal of legitimate anger on the part of members of Christ's true flock in the Roman Rite of the Church who simply want what is their baptismal birthright: the Traditional Latin Mass. This anger is understandable. It is quite legitimate. The Mass of our fathers has been taken away from us in our parishes, forcing us to seek it out in disparate, often inconvenient locations or to flee into the underground Catholic network of independent chapels or chapels run by the Society of Pope Saint Pius X. Only a handful of bishops in this country and the world have permitted the daily offering of the Traditional Latin Mass by such groups as the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter and the Institute of Christ the King. As one who has been forced from my own native place to seek out a fully traditional environment in which to raise our daughter, I am quite unhappy about the current state of things in the Church. Nevertheless, we must recognize that what is happening at present is within the Providence of God. The graces won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross by the shedding of every single drop of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood are sufficient for us to meet the challenges posed by this unprecedented destruction of the worship of God and of the true Faith. Although anger in the midst of this situation is both legitimate and understandable, we must transcend anger in order to sanctify our souls and to offer up our prayers, fasting, and almsgiving for the conversion of all people within the Church to the glory of Tradition so that Holy Mother Church herself will be able to seek the conversion of all people outside of her.

The cause of Tradition and the Traditional Latin Mass is also done no good by the fratricidal warfare that takes place among traditional Catholics. John Vennari, the editor of Catholic Family News, has stated that there is no traditional movement, only a loose confederation of warring tribes. Sadly, this is quite true. There are some priests and lay people who believe that it is seriously wrong to go to the Traditional Latin Mass anywhere other than a chapel administered by a particular group or individual. There are some traditionally-minded priests and lay people who believe, very mistakenly, that it is a schismatic act to hear Holy Mass at a chapel run by the Society of Pope Saint Pius X. Contrariwise, some people are kicked out of Society chapels for going to an indult Mass; there is at least one instance I am aware of wherein a diocesan priest kicked out a man for having gone to a Society Mass. There is a word for this: crazy.

Yes, the Society of Pope Saint Pius X is to be heralded as the principal, although not only, means by which the Traditional Latin Mass and the undiluted truths of the Catholic Faith were preserved. It has been the single most organized traditional instrument that the Vatican has been forced to deal with in the past thirty-four years. Bishop Bernard Fellay has just issued a magnificent statement on the false foundations of the Vatican-inspired mania for "ecumenism." The Society has done and continues to essential work in defending the Faith. Archbishop Lefebvre would be a candidate for canonization if the Church was not in the throes of a continuing revolution. Indeed. Does that mean, however, that men like Father DePauw and Father Schell, to name a few, were no less heroic in doing what they did to preserve Tradition? Does it mean that Father Patrick Perez, who is continuing the work of Father Schell and who offers the Traditional Mass with exquisite perfection, is a threat to the Holy Faith?

To believe that Tradition will only be maintained in one place and no other is to limit the omnipotence of God. It is to deny the working of God's grace through validly ordained priests. It is to adopt a Manichean spirit of "we are pure and everyone else is tainted." Let's not kid ourselves, folks: none of us is untainted from the corruption of our sins. To believe that there is only one approach and one strategy to restore the Traditional Latin Mass as normative is to engage in an exercise in spiritual pride. Every Roman Rite Catholic has the absolute right to hear the Traditional Latin Mass in any venue that recognizes the See of Peter is not vacant.

The perpetually binding, universal indult for the offering of the Traditional Mass is to be found in Pope Saint Pius V's Papal Bull Quo Primum. Just as we could hear the Immemorial Mass of Tradition in every parish in the world until 1964 or 1965, when the first major changes (admitting that there were Bugnini inspired changes as early as the Holy Week "reforms" promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1955) began to take hold, so too is it the case today that we should be able to hear the Mass of our fathers without having to present our credentials as a member of this or that group, that we are forced to swear allegiance to this or that strategy. The only credential we need to hear any Catholic Mass in the world is our baptismal certificate, none other. It is the height of uncharity for both priests and laymen to take it upon themselves to, in effect, excommunicate people from traditional chapels for alleged offenses that "prove" they are disloyal to the cause of the Tradition. Even if an actual spy is sent from a chancery office, he or she is not to be cast into the darkness. As Father Schell told some of his parishioners one time when an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was found in civilian clothes before Mass, "Well, tell him to stay out of the way, and he is welcome to stay if he wants to hear a good Mass." Perhaps the glory of Tradition might melt the hardened hearts of even committed revolutionaries, no?

As a traditional Catholic, I want the Mass of our fathers restored. As I have noted in endless pieces in the printed version of Christ or Chaos over the past eight years and in articles of mine that have been posted on various websites, we need a restoration of the entire Faith that has been undermined by all of the "pastoral" and liturgical novelties of the past forty years, which are nothing more than an enshrinement of the various, nefarious aspects of Modernism. That is not going to happen overnight. Indeed, I do not believe it is going to happen until some Pope actually consecrates Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. The errors of Russia, which are the errors of modernity, are very much enshrined in the novelties of the past forty years. In the meantime, though, we are called to be truly charitable to others. As my dear wife notes, "We must be extra charitable in these troubled times. We must prove to God that we are worthy to have the Mass restored. Our lack of charity and our willingness to find enemies among our allies must prompt us to ask the following question: Are we worthy to have the Mass restored?" We must be as patient with those "who don't get it yet" as Our Lord is with us erring, recidivist, ungrateful sinners.

May Our Lady, the Singular Vessel of Devotion and Mystical Rose, help all traditional Catholics to work first for their own sanctification, to see in other traditional Catholics their allies despite differences of approach and style, and to see in other Catholics human beings made in the image and likeness of God who need our prayers for their full conversion to unadulterated tradition, not our condemnation.

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