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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Just because I don't post Catholic commentary these days...

...doesn't mean I can't refer to other people's.

1. Steve Skojec ruminates on the apocalyptic. And offers some solid advice on prayerful responses. The latter seems especially fruitful, and worth pondering. God knows my own prayer life is best described as "undead" these days. Read both.

With respect to the former, I don't have much to offer. It strikes me as moderate, thoughtful and speculative, with Steve freely admitting the latter.

My only thought is it seems to be in the cultural air, so to speak--"it" being apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic thinking. From people spending hefty sums on the latest survivalist "cottage" to shows about "preppers" to hotcake-sales of young adult fiction (Hunger Games, Divergent, The 100), a discordant chord is chiming through our society right now. We sense that something is really wrong, even as we try to distract ourselves from facing it. Mostly successfully, if not entirely so.

I'm the least capable prognosticator you've ever run across, so I'm not going to begin to speculate, at least not in the religious realm (my exegetical skills being even less trustworthy at this point). To the extent I will venture out on a limb, I am reasonably certain we're past the point of no return, fiscally-speaking. We're an interest rate spike from being unable to service our debt. Not a new dark age, but more of a slow-mo tumbledown, with the related corrosive impacts on the social fabric. Zero-sum gaming begins once the money runs out. That, and the scapegoating. Our progeny will have ample reason to resent us, and wonder why we wasted so much time on bullshit and reality-avoidance.

2. Elliot serves up some weapons-grade snark at Catholic quietism, but there's a deadly serious argument wrapped up in it. Namely, in our post-conciliar age, with its mashup of collegiality and soft ultramontanism, Catholicism is no more than what the Pope and/or your bishop say it is.

Given the irresistible and undeniable power of the episcopacy to do whatever they want with the traditions, disciplines, and “style” of the Church at any time in history, why should I bother clinging to those features from any age in the Church’s life, as if such pesky particulars mattered? The Faith is the thing, the Creed is the thing, the Mass is the thing–not how it’s lived, expressed, or celebrated. What am I, more Catholic than the pope?

Admittedly, this quietist position does not help me resolve the tension created by seeking above all to “empower the laity” in the past half-century or more, but, again, I am a mere worm, and the Church certainly doesn’t need my input. The key to Catholic happiness, apparently, is more than “pay, pray, and obey.” The key to happiness in the Church in our day is not simply to submit, not simply to commit all things to the Lord, but, rather, actively to flout one’s sense of tradition and prudence in order to defend and valorize and “internalize” every aspect of the status quo. Resignation is not enough; celebration is the sign of a Serious Catholic. After all, didn’t Luther criticize the hierarchy and various abuses, and we know how that turned out? The key to happiness in the Church now is to breathe deeply and unflinchingly from the exhaust pipe of the New Evangelization as the hierarchy drives the Catholic Cadillac where God knows it must go. Woe to the man who would lay a finger on God’s anointed one. Just ask St. Athanasius. 

Which is, I think, a--if not the--root of my discontent.

By the way, I recognize the following sorta violates my no-commentary rule, but permit me to answer a question/charge posed to/thrown at me before. Namely, if I fall away, it won't be to sojourn to the weird, illogical faerie realm of sedevacantism, nor to the anomalous-status Society, whose position doesn't really compute, even where I sympathize with layfolk who have gone that route. That, and the repulsive Jew-hatred that permeates some sectors of trad-dom also finds fertile enough soil in both places.

Nor does Orthodoxy persuade--despite my incurable love of things Byzantine. I'll just be...gone, I guess. So much for my earlier bravado.

Such are the twists and turns of life. Your prayers continue to be welcome.


  1. Dale, if all else fails, be a Simple Man. :D

  2. I hear you, brother. Catholicism and Orthodoxy do not yet persuade but I can't go pedal-to-the-metal-Prot because of brain-dead neo-Episcopalianism like this:

  3. "Skojec... moderate."

    You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  4. I've begun a daily Rosary for you. May the Blessed Mother cover you in her mantle.

  5. It's probably the contrarian in me but the more obviously convinced "everybody" is of imminent social collapse the more I conclude it's an illusion and won't happen.

  6. You really need to blog more often. Wielding words like weapons is a lost artform.

  7. Mr Skojec seems to have been seduced by gnosticism. Interesting how the Catholic Right is falling apart.


  8. My sympathies, Dale. As an outsider, perhaps I could offer this comfort: human life is brief, and the future unpredictable (by us, at least).

    In the nature of things, we can't view the world truly Sub specie aeternitatis.

    A Catholic around the time of Martin Luther (and the Turkish siege of Vienna) would have had reason for feeling down, but things improved.

  9. FWIW you and your family are in my prayers. Some of what happens in the Church at large is alternately terrifying and infuriating.

    A few thoughts from Nicolas Gomez Davila:

    "The ineptitude and folly of the bishops' and popes' chatter would disturb us, if we old Christians had not fortunately learned as little children to sleep during the sermon."

    "A cloud of incense is worth a thousand sermons."

    "I listen to every homily with involuntary irony. My religion, just like my philosophy, comes down to trusting in God."

    "The religious sensibility oppressed by the Church takes refuge in strange catacombs."

    "Nothing is more dangerous for faith than to frequent the company of believers. The unbeliever restores our faith."

    "That the history of the Church contains sinister chapters and idiotic chapters is obvious, but a manly Catholicism should not make its contrite confession by exalting the modern world. "

    "'Religious instruction' appears at times to have been invented in order to counteract the religious effectiveness of the liturgy."

    "The Church will need centuries of prayer and silence to forge anew its flabby soul."

    "In the bosom of the Church today, 'integralists' are those who do not understand that Christianity needs a new theology, and 'progressives' are those who do not understand that the new theology must be Christian."

    "The religious problem grows worse each day because the faithful are not theologians and the theologians are not faithful."

    "Rationalizing dogma, relaxing morality, simplifying the rite, do not make it easier for the unbeliever to approach [the Church], but rather [for the Church] to approach the unbeliever."

    "The Christian knows that Christianity will limp until the end of the world."

    A blessed Easter to you and yours.