Over the past few weeks I’ve come across a diversity of people in the Catholic populous. I don’t just mean they’re diverse in their persons, but diverse in their dispositions. Their individual dispositions aren’t much of a surprise to me. Show me a Catholic, and I’ll tell you about a hundred others just like them. They may be modernists, they may be modernized , they may lean to the right to various degrees, both reasonable and extreme. Been there, done that. Seen it all before. Most likely, so have you.
But lately it’s been more of a flood of this diverse Catholic crowd. I’ve been encountering these dispositions with great frequency. And I am left very sad, disturbed, and disheartened by what I am noticing.
Everyone has an opinion about what’s wrong with the modern Catholic Church…’
The mass needs to get better. The clergy is either modernized, or indifferent. The altar rails are gone. We’ve got people receiving communion in their hands. Our schools are failing. Nuns aren’t wearing habits. Religious brothers are more like business people than saints.’ We’ve got sme Bishops only speak up when they’re belittling the faith. Some Cardinals shouldn’t be speaking at all, considering the disordered theology they espouse. Then we have the laity. The “God is Love” crowd, the “Jesus is my buddy” crew. The fatimites, the radicals, the modernists; the emotionites and erroniacs whose disposition is informed by the secular playbook. Oh we have all kinds.
You know what really troubles me? It isn’t what’s present in the Church, it’s what’s absent. It isn’t what we do have—modernists, radicals, and so on—it’s what we don’t have…balance! There is so little balance to be found in the Church today. So painfully little! Because there is no balance, there is the modernist. Because there is no balance, there is the radical. Because there is no balance, there is error, and flirtation with heresy. There is indifference, and there is carelessness. All of this is because the balanced are so few and far between, so very hard to find, and such a small camp in the Catholic culture. Where are the balanced?
“Radical Traditionalism is a malignant poison…”
A particular disposition I’ve been exposed to this week is that of radical traditionalism. I’m not talking about orthodox, traditional Catholics. I’m talking about a subset of Catholicism—and it is a subset—that tends to redefine, and overplay tradition. I’m talking about extremism here, not orthodoxy. Radical Traditionalism is a malignant and poisonous disposition, and it disturbs me deeply to see that this mindset is growing, and growing in the Church culture, to such a degree that I’m even seeing it in person, in my own diocese.
You know who I didn’t meet this week? A balanced, orthodox Catholic. It’s interesting, I’ve been having several discussions with atheists over YouTube, and something I’ve been saying to all of them comes from the mind of Peter Kreeft, and it goes like this: “Nature abhors a vacuum”. And it’s true. In the natural order, and that includes the human order, where a vacuum springs up, something responds to it. Something must, and something will, every time. The rise of modernism, another cancer in the Church, has created a vacuum in the Church. And Radical Traditionalism is now filling it; growing in speed, momentum, and aggression. Spreading like a forest fire, it turns everything in its path to smoldering columns and ash; continuing to call itself “Catholic” when it has fundamentally changed in substance, just as smoldering columns and piles of ash are no longer trees. They’ve changed in substance, and are no longer what they once were.
“Where are the balanced?”
The balanced are very hard to find. Sure, they’re out there. Just look at our audience. But why are there so few? Why am I more likely to run into a Modernist, or a Radicalized Catholic than a balanced orthodox Catholic? Where…are…the…balanced!?!
This, my friends, can either be the next great tragedy of the Church. It is her next great crisis, or it can be her next great victory. A deficiency of leadership has permitted modernism and indifferentism to grow in the Church. This secularization of the faithful has resulted in many either leaving the Church, or leaving the True Faith, by adopting a deformed, bastardized version of it called Modernism. Radical Traditionalism is growing in response to this vacuum in the Church, motivated in part in response to an ongoing indifference and incompetence in many in the Hierarchy, and energized, by disordered, disloyal, self-righteous Catholic communicators who borrow from the legacy of our traditions, and our history in order to establish the [false] creditably they need in order to rally the faithful to save the Catholic Faith from the Catholic Church.
What we need then is a growth and expansion of the balanced. We need more people who are balanced Catholics. Firm in their faith, confident in the Church, who resist modernism like the plague, and avoid radicalism like the cancer that it is.
We need more people who recognize that the Church is suffering, and respond to it with greater faith, charity, and hope. Who see the crisis in the Church, and in the world, and naturally respond to it with a more more vigorous and more deeply committed zeal for the Gospel; applying it to their lives, and bringing it to the world. We need more Catholics who are balanced. More Catholics who are orthodox. We nee more Catholics to be Catholic.
Or we can take the key that the Modernists stole from Peter, and hand it right over to the Radicals, saying, now it’s your turn to do your very worst. Will it be another 50 years before Catholics respond to error, with right-action, and good orthodoxy? Will it take another 50 years, and another 50 lashes across the back of the mystical body, before we respond with faithfulness to the Truth, instead of faithfulness to our preferences?
To the balanced out there, I want to say may God bless you abundantly. May his blessing upon you, and your homes, and on the ones you love be in proportion to the great struggle you endure to maintain and uphold our Ancient Faith in a time of such great crisis both in the world, and in the Church. God bless you, and God love you. To those who lean to the left, I say this: Catholicism is not about picking and choosing the parts that you like. It isn’t about choosing which parts of the Gospel that you like. Catholicism is about the full set of doctrines of the Church. It’s about the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Catholicism is about all four of the Gospels, and it’s about everything that we find in each of those Gospels. It includes the nice parts, and the challenging parts. It includes the Jesus who loves us, and the Jesus who will let us go to Hell. If you want to do good in the world, please get right. Because doing good in the world has to start with goodness in you. It has to start with full faith in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Catholic Church, the Bride of Christ.
To those who lean right, and I mean rather heavily to the right, I offer this: You already know that there’s only one way to be Catholic. But that also means that there are many ways to get it wrong. There are many ways to not be Catholic. The more a Catholic leans to the right theologically, the more they find themselves on a slippery slope. Criticizing everything, becoming reactionary, misapplying not only the Gospel, but also the moral teachings of the Church. The moral teachings can indeed be misapplied; modernists do it all the time. Why do you think you can’t do the same thing? The teachings of the Church can be misapplied to the left, and they can also be misapplied to the right. The truth is in the center, it’s balanced. The more a Catholic leans to the right, the more they tend to restrict the faith and the Church to a little box; restricting the Church from growing, and from growing stronger.
When the Church grows, it doesn’t change. It grows stronger. But when we suffocate her, it cannot grow. And the Church can’t obey the will of the Holy Spirit if we are stuffing the Church inside of a box, and we tend to do that the more we lean to the right. So come back to the center, as fast as you possibly can.
These turbulent times in Church history needn’t result in the next great tragedy or the next great crisis in the Church. We can turn this into victory and glory. But we must do our part. We must betray some of our preferences, and quiet some of our ambitions, and we must do our part to be good, holy, loyal, obedient, balanced Catholics prepared to follow our mother wherever she leads us, knowing that she will always lead us to Christ.
May God be with you all. Please pray for us.