Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Over at The Cafeteria Is Closed, Gerald commented on an editorial at NCR which cast a critical eye on Bishop Finn of Kansas City. I rather agreed with Gerald's take on the editorial, and when I went to append a comment I ran into this one from "Sage:"

What is so striking to me about articles like this is what they reveal about the progressive mindset. There is the strangest hypocrisy about the radical mind that I have never quite managed to tease out, though better writers than me have expressed the problem reasonably well.

What I'm referring to is this: Radicals in positions of power never come to acknowledge and accept their role as The Establishment. When the Spirit of Vatican II descended on parishes and diocese around the country, the effect was like that of a nuclear blast. Established ways of believing and of doing things were trampled underfoot by "reforming" Bishops and lay people with all the glee of a beach bully demolishing a sand castle. Nothing, not the liturgy or even (especially?) the very bricks and mortar of the Churches themselves, was to be held too sacred for the ravages of the progressive agenda. The determination to remake Catholicism in the mold of newfangled ideologies and left-wing political agendas was unremitting and merciless. All resistance was dismissed as illegitimate and dangerous. Millions abandoned the Faith altogether, and soul-wrenching heartbreak was ubiquitous. I have heard tales directly from the mouths of older priests who literally wept at the altar for, as they said, they were powerless to resist and their only chance of survival was to accommodate the whims of the advocates of "reform."

Now, at no point did the arbitrary exercise of power for these purposes, so reckless and so obviously infused with an "agenda," ever come to be seen as somehow illegitimate. The mentality which reigns among revolutionaries, from France to St. Petersburg, has been one of "permanent revolution." Once in power, in order to avoid the stigma of establishmentarianism, and in order to avoid the suggestion that they really are The Man now, revolutionaries must always insist that their work has only begun, and any remaining trace of the old order is seized upon with zealous righteousness as a sign of reactionary elements, as vindication that their work is only beginning. These tiny sparks are held up as justification for the relentless pursuit of purification, and therefore of the power wielded by the revolutionaries.

Thus, it is not enough to set fire to the liturgy of one's own parish. It becomes necessary to go much further, by denying anyone the positive right to practice older, pre-revolutionary forms of liturgy. Any embers of the the past must be stamped out entirely, and the work of doing so must be cast as so important that it justifies the continued dominance of a small and out-of-touch revolutionary elite. Catechism must be re-written or thrown out altogether, altars must literally be smashed to make way for the New Order, sacramental Confessions truncated, tabernacles removed and hidden, priestly authority assaulted from every direction, ancient music discarded as though it were nothing, Adoration reduced or eliminated altogether, secular administrators and educators must be brought in to reshape spiritual formation and Catechesis, and on and on endlessly without reprieve.

Now, as the radicals are beginning in some places to lose their dictatorial control, even the most modest rollback of their all-encompassing program is viewed with wild despair. The exercise of any power not their own is decried as authoritarian and tyrannical, and the mere presence of any agenda at all--even a plainly pastoral and simply Catholic one--is cast in the most darkly suspicious tones. The self-serving hypocrisy of it all is so brazen that it must require an act of the will. Presenting their own halcyon days as somehow devoid of agendas and power-seeking, as somehow non-ideological, as a period of peaceful and merely organic change, becomes the necessary lie that they must tell themselves and others. No matter how obviously untrue this story is, they must repeat it in order to assume the role of the put-upon victims of unwanted change, even if this role reversal is laughable in its implausibility to any ordinary observer.

Expect more of this sort of thing. The poor-little-old-me-what-did-we-ever-do-to-deserve- this-sort-of-treatment line is going to be the broken record in the background for the next fifty years or more. Stand firm, and let the Restoration proceed with all the zeal of the revolution that preceded it. For, the "agenda" we bring is not sprung from our foreheads like Athena the goddess of war leaping sword-in-hand from the head of Zeus. We come not with the bloody scythe of the revolutionary, but with the warm and life-giving earth of the eternal Church militant. It is the tradition of thousands of years and the only remaining hope for real renewal of the life of the Church. Indeed, it is the only hope there ever was, for any one of us.

Well said!



P.S. The Catholic Pillow Fight has an excellent perspective on this matter as well.


  • At 4:11 PM, May 12, 2006 , Blogger Tony said...

    Another advantage for the liberal reformers is the culture of obedience that traditional Catholics have for the authority of the priests and bishops.

    It seems the liberal dissenters are not so constrained themselves. They need to continue to push, while we, while resisting, have to resist our compunction to obey the most flagrant abusers if they are wearing a white collar.

    This is changing, though, and it's changing as more orthodox and faithful priests are being ordained, and the crazies like McBrien, Chittister and O'Leary are marginalized into obscurity.

    We are seeing such a renewal at our parish. Our pastor has moved the tabernacle from the eucharistic closet^H^H^H^H^H^Hchapel to front and center behind the altar of sacrifice, and we have... get this... a votive candle rack in there in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin.

  • At 7:44 PM, May 12, 2006 , Blogger Joe said...

    You're right. Even when confronted with one of those As Heretic As It Gets priests, I am mindful his hands bring me Christ.

    Good thing they don't care for the Roman collar, huh?



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