With Saint Catherine of Siena, we wish to say: “Come to Rome in complete safety,” next to the house of the common Father who was given to us as the visible and perpetual principle and foundation of Catholic unity.I wanted to comment over at Fr. Z's, but had to give up the attempt. This is so close to my heart, so deep in my soul, that I cannot dash off a couple of sentences and be done, and my intensity will show through, and people will ignore me (as is right to do when some stranger blunders into a place and has an emotional episode).
Come take part in this blessed future in which we can already foresee dawn, despite the persistant darkness. Your refusal would increase darkness, not light. And yet the sparks of light we can already admire are numerous, beginning with those of the great liturgical restoration effected by the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”. It stirs up, throughout the whole world, a large movement of adherence from all those who wish to increase the worship of God, particularly the young.
In 1971, I entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. It was simply wonderful, the culmination of a long journey of years of prayer, reading, observation and thought. It was the biggest decision of my young life, it was all mine, and I did it in good faith and with a right understanding of what I was getting into. Or so I thought.
Over the next very few years, the Church that was my haven against the wildness of the world became as strange and hostile to me as my mother, who had unfortunately taken to drink after the visit of an old friend. In the middle of all this confusion, I learned that, nearby, there was a chapel of the SSPX. I learned about it because it was excoriated by other Catholics, neighbors. And, to make things worse, there was another neighbor, across the street, who actually attended!
The woman was a convert to Catholicism of a few years, and in doing so, she had adopted all of what Catholicism embraces, including children as God gave them. Her children's souls were more important than whether or not the local diocesan priests wanted to please the bishop, so she took her brood down to the SSPX chapel where they would learn real Catholicism. (Because of inhibitions on SSPX's faculties, she went to a local church that was run by a religious order of famously pious and holy priests for confession.)
Her neighbors were pretty cruel in their gossip and condescension. But I had talked with her, several times, and I knew what she was fleeing from in the Church. The others simply took it at face value: that's what Rome wants, it's what Vatican II requires, we'll do it. But Vatican II didn't require lots of the things that were perpetrated, and our good priests were just trying to find middle ground between the innovations and the needs of their bewildered parishioners.
I never joined the SSPX, but I understand them and feel that I know where they're coming from with all this. The Church left me. I didn't leave the Church. I'm sure many, if not most, SSPX feel that way. The hurt is deep and has colored my life. I couldn't imagine that the Roman Catholic Church would do those things! But they did, and do them still, although the tide is turning, thank God and Pope Benedict.
It is particularly galling when the "reformers" take over the Church, strip the liturgy, introduce sacrilege and make it part of the rubrics, then scold people for doing simple things like kneeling for communion etc., but have the nerve to call you schismatic, when you didn' do nuthin' but just keep worshiping God as was required for millennia. If you call the SSPX schismatic, then I'm in schism, too.
Of course, the reformers were all about imitating Protestantism, ostensibly to draw the Church closer to her separated brethren, but all they did was cripple the Faith. For example, it used to be a mortal sin to evade the abstinence and fast rules on Fridays and Ash Wednesday and so forth. The bishops abrogated that, but their "do something else instead" got lost completely, and so now Catholics don't abstain on Fridays except during Lent if they remember. But it doesn't have the force that it used to. It used to be sacrilege to touch a consecrated Host with unconsecrated hands; now people shuffle up and get their little biscuit in their paws, and it's "unity," not sacrilege. The problem with that kind of change is it completely tosses out authority: so if it's not a sin today, then was it before? Of course not. You cannot say "well, it is the way the Church says it is," because those are BIG changes - either you go to hell (mortal sin) or you don't. And if you were consigned to hell because you messed up on those, did the rollback of the law somehow magically snatch you out of the eternal fire? I'm confused.
That is why I find myself just reading Scripture, plain, unadorned. Cross references, sure; once in a while a commentary or a study Bible or some such to elucidate a passage or explain an ancient custom. Otherwise, I rely on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They do not change. They do not get a wild hair up their... nose... and decide to rework the whole shebang because Woodstock, or something. Paul warned us against the traditions of men ... I think now I know why.