Sunday, February 01, 2009

Smaller but More Faithful

A lady asked me last night how to explain the Williamson affair to her Jewish friends, and I suspect to herself, her liberal husband and her non practicing children.
My explanation: the Pope wants a million souls back in the Church and Williamson is part of the package, persuaded her, I think, but I am not sure if it will persuade her friends, her husband or her children, who I suspect value reputations, appearances, media presentations more highly.
Today the BBC news reported the appointment of Fr Gerhard Maria Wagner, who blamed the destruction of New Orleans on its liberalism, as Auxiliary Bishop of the uber-liberal diocese of Linz. Wagner's appointment is I presume a sign to the liberal German speaking world.
I think I understand what the Holy Father is doing but I don’t know how to explain it to my people in such a way that they feel confident in explaining it to their neighbours.
I think now is the time when the Pope’s prophecy, (is that the right word?) that the Church of the future will be smaller but more faithful is about to be come true.
The stakes are high, now is the time of deep and intense prayer. I suspect in the next few months there will more signs from the Pope that will difficult to explain.


Anonymous said...

It will certainly be smaller as many decent people will not wish to be associated with Bishop Williamason. There must be literally millions of people in the world who had some of their relatives gassed by the Nazis. Included must be those who as Jewish children were saved from the Nazis by Catholic families and in consequence converted. Many of them are priests.

Having gathered the harvest of souls let us hope that the Holy Father will attend to the weeding.

Jane said...


When I first heard that remark, I understood by it that we were to have a brave Pope who would not back down in the face of media persecution, or of rebellion from within our 'protestantised' Church. Yes, it was prophetic in the sense that he knew what he must do with his Pontificate, knew what an outcry there would be if he actually dared to reteach people the Faith, and to have little or no hope that an unspiritual world would understand his motives.

I'm afraid that Williamson, whether through ineptitude or design, is responsible for this crisis. And it has apparently now delayed the Pope's intention to take another step towards Unity tomorrow. I have the feeling that it has wrecked a very carefully planned timetable, regardless of all the moaners in the Vatican, who demonstrate the rot in that quarter.

Time or the Washington Post, can't remember which, has said he's healed one Schism only to create another.........

After reading the pieces this morning, I felt literally sick with worry. It's as if Benedict has lanced a huge and hideously infected boil in the Church that was threatening to destroy her. The blow-fly Media are licking up the poison as it drains out.

So yes, perhaps in the long run a smaller, healthier and more fervent Church, that will have to start evangelising from a less powerful base. How long this will take to play out, only God knows.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Friends of the Pope have said he sees his Papacy as "short but decisive" in the future of the Church.
As he ages he will be in more of a hurry, so there will be more. As we saw in his role at the CDF he is not concerned with popularity only Truth.

Anonymous said...

The SSPX USA website says that attending the Mass the pope says is both sacriligious and sinful.

Does Benedict now think that is the truth?

gemoftheocean said...

How about BXVI coming to his senses and saying..."I must have had a brain lapse this day...oops, deasrie me, I didn't see all the anti-semitism which is apparently fairly widespread on the US SSPX official website, and I missed all those ninnies in France too....I'm going to have to excommunicate everyone again. I was having a bad day and BAD ADVICE."

That's something I could get behind. I will NEVER accept those SSPX pinheads who've caused all this trouble unmless they ALL one by one recant their anti-semitism (those who are) and those who say the pope had no authority over them, which as far as I can see is ALL of them./ Every man, woman and child of them.

NUTS to them.

You can't spread sugar of excrement and expect there to be no odor.

Anonymous said...

We can surely trust the Holy Father to do the right thing here. And we must pray that he continues to have the courage of his convictions.

Lifting the excommunications has nothing to do, per se, with any other baggage any individual bishop carries. Williamson's odious comments are a matter for him, his conscience and his (reconciling) confessor (as they are for any bishop who teaches erroneously) - they are not intrinsic to the Holy Father's benevolent action last week.

People getting hysterical about this odious matter, without sensibly separating it out from the driving issue of the excommunictaions and the possibilities for re-union with the true Faith, are only adding to the anti-Catholic detraction perpetrated by the enemies of the Church. Satan is alive and well - a fact we perhaps sometimes forget, and one can see his hand in all this anti-Catholic hyperbole in the media.

The Holy Father is our guiding light here, not our human emotions of anger or righteous indignation. Faithful Catholics understand that, I am sure.

nickbris said...

His Holiness is showing the the World that The Church will not be dictated to by the Garbage Press or Hollywood.

There is a lot to sort out and if it means a smaller Church at least it will be healthier.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gem, That is madness, if God can love you, and me, he can love them. If he can find a place in his Church for the two of us, well others must be able to find a room in his house.
Following the Lord's example we welcome sinners, we don't reject them, ever!
In fact we are called to go in search of them, and even to be crucufied for them!

Anonymous said...

Never been convinced by this smaller but better Church. Christ stretched out his arms on the cross and in doing so embraced all of humanity. I fear that we may end up with something resembling a sect.

Sadie Vacantist said...

The problems with an effective defence is that it inevitably involves an effective offense. My point of reference is the pro-war propaganda that drove the UK & France to declare war on Germany in the first place. We declared war and started indiscriminate bombing of a country with at least 6 million vulnerable hostages openly detested by an anti-Semitic government. Was this the "good" thing to do? The whole prosecution of a war which cost 50 million lives needs examining. We are innundated with propaganda that tells us that WWII was justified - a "good cause". The British are some of the worst culprits in this regard. What good came of this war? There is no good war and no bad peace.

Volpius Leonius said...

Then she should ask them why they reject Jesus, we are still supposed to evangelise, even Jews after all, what a opportunity they are actually asking about the Faith so we should tell them.

Elizabeth said...

Fr Gerhard Maria Wagner I am sure is very close to the truth and in good company.The liberal Germans, like the rest of liberal Europe has lost its true Catholic Faith and needs a wake up call.

Archbishop Emeritus Philip J. Hannan, said about Hurrican Katrina “I think it's up to us to preach very strongly and candidly and directly to say that this was a chastisement from God.”

Rev. Robert Guste of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Kenner, said that the lewd homosexual festival, Southern Decadence, the rampant pornography and gambling and the brazenly blasphemous activities surrounding the annual Mardi Gras, a festival renowned for its mockeries of Christian symbols, may have suggested divine punishment.

We need to pray more than ever in these troubled times. Our Lady is asking us to Pray the Rosary. So Please if you don't pray it daily start now. When Jesus returns let's make sure there are some Catholics left to greet Him.

Anonymous said...

'but I don't know how to explain it in such a way...'
Thank you for your blogging. It means a lot to me, and I'm sure it does to many, especially in these confusing times for Catholics.
PS Does anyone know more about Fr Wagner's comments? I'm hoping they were taken out of context. When I was a student I lived across the street from 3 strip clubs and the Jesuit church. There were no weather events even comparable to Katrina, despite the many provocations;)
Seriously, though, I don't have to accept the Katrina as Divine vengeance idea, or do I?

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I'll take that to mean that something's coming that's going to drive liberal Catholics crazy

Anonymous said...

I hope that you will forgive me Father for a purely political/historical post but Sadie Vacantists version of history cannot go unchallenged.

1. There was practically no pro-war propaganda in Britian in 1939, indeed one of the problems of the time was that so much pacifist propaganda had made it difficult to rearm and had made a policy of appeasement popular.

2 Britain and France declared war because Hitler had invaded Poland without cause or justification.

3 Allied bombing of cities was sparked off by Goering's offensuve against London, Coventry, Birmingham, Manchester, etc.

4 Good did come from the war - the peaceful Federal Republic of Germany is infinitely preferable to the racialist, aggressive, pagan Third Reich, in which religion was due to be destroyed. (incidentally the number of Jews in Germany when Britain declared war was not 6 million but about 300,000).

Anonymous said...

Father, some of these postings are crazy. God punishing a City because of its lewd ways. I remember an elderly Jesuit priest telling me that the titanic sank because some protestant workers at Harland and Wolff wrote blasphemies against Our Lady inside the hull. I couldn't contain my laughter. With such crazy notions around the church will certainly become smaller - but better? come, on.

Anonymous said...

Reading the comments I think we should reflect on matters that are too easily accepted by our consciences rather than focusing on the obvious error of a few members of the SSPX. How many Catholics received communion today in this country despite the use of contraception, divorce and remarriage, fornication, homosexual practice, cooperation with procuring an abortion, failing to bring their children up in the faith and at the same time appear so beside themself with anger over Bishop Williamson and the action of the Holy Father. We simply have ceased to be shocked by what should scandalise us and look for the obvious in others. I think in this country we all need to sober up and see things for what they are in our own life and not be too bothered about a bishop out of his depth and spouting what is clearly untrue.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying that God planned, and is in some sense satisfied by the death and destruction wrought in New Orleans? You're saying that He, who endured shame and spitting and the Cross, is so offended by the mockery of the symbols of His Church, that He's prepared to kill and do violence to His children? Even if this were comparable to the destruction of Sodom, didn't God promise Abraham that He would not destroy the city if there were even one good man there? Therefore you and Their Excellencies are saying that a) there were no innocents in New Orleans or b) collateral damage poses no problem for God?
I'm getting freaked out, Fr Ray. Is this part of the Church's teaching on natural disasters?

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

If you think of the darkening of the skies and the earthquake that occurred when Jesus died, it is not far-fetched to suspect that the forces of nature can be affected by human sinfulness. Sin, after all, is the ultimate form of environmental pollution -- a spewing of moral poison all over God's creation, visible and invisible. I personally believe that sin probably does have physical and material effects in addition to its spiritual consequences.

I think that natural disasters are partly caused by sin because of this double effect. Of course, the causality is not so direct as to result in the immediate punishment of the evildoer by some natural "act of God." That would be too easy. But I definitely think that humanity can make matters worse and certainly distance itself from God's protection and blessings by indulging in grave immorality.

So, did all the decadence and voodoo in New Orleans result in Hurricane Katrina? Partly, yes. Did sex tourism in Far East make the Boxing Day tsunami worse? Probably, yes. But it's not so much about God directly chastising as man reaping the "natural" consequences of his own actions.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I have rejected a couple of contentious posys on the war.

I seem to remember the Lord asking if the Galileans slain whilst offering sacrifice, or those crushed when the tower at Siloam fell were greater sinners than anyone else. Similarly when the disciples asked who sinned, this man or his parents, when discussing the man born blind.
We all suffer the consequences of sin.
Misuse of our bodies, might have direct consequences of disease. Immorality might destroy a society but I can't see it causing an earthquake.

Anonymous said...

"gemoftheocean said...
unmless they ALL one by one recant their anti-semitism..."

Dear gem, anti-semitism is a very bad thing, it is sin. But. It is NOT reason for excommunication. No one was and can be excommunicated solely because of (verbal) antisemitism. Also, it may be helpful to try to understand better what really antisemitism is. First, is it possible to love Jews or be a Jew and still ndeny Holocaust? Yes. There exist conservative and orthodoxal jewish groups who deny Holocaust. Are these Jews anti-semits? There is therefore no necessary connection between Holocaust-denial and anti-semitism. Second, just understanding (and not hiding this for fear of bad public acceptance or whatsoever) that Jews continue to stay out of the truth, is it anti-semitism? Or is it wishing conversion of Jews to the only one true faith? Preying God for the conversion of Jews? All these things are part of the Catholic faith, and actually point that the Church loves Jews and wishes them to come to the Truth and salvation. But all these things are also called "antisemitism" by many popular liberal anti-catholic media.

Please do NOT be fooled by the media people who too often aim mostly to increase their audience by all means and therefore vlook for sensations (some also discrediting the Church which they hate) and too often do not (and usually do not like to) properly understand what they are writing about. It is strange that the Holocaust of the past is in the centre of the media coverage whereas the biggest Holocaust continues quietly almost unnoticed by the same media. Why a stupid man who seem to just misunderstood certain historical facts and evidence is attracting such an attention, why should everyone blame him so much and so hostile, inasmuch as the only harm is a few words almost everyone understands are stupid? Why do not the media and all these people blame in a similar way the people who supported, enforced and promoted mass killing of unborn babies by real and wilful actions? Why do not everyone asks for excommunication and most bloody sanctions against these other people?

As to the SSPX saying that Pope has no authority... They never told this. They completely accept the Papal power and the teaching of the Church, but do not like the "innovations" of the Second Vatican which in their opinion are erroneous and against the Catholic faith. It is actually a very honest position that we must respect even if we admit they are in a mistake. Wec must hope we are themselves as honest and brave in the critic of the modern trends of this secular society. Also, there are too many complicated issues about the SSPX. For example, it is usually said they are currently in the state of schism. But there are serious canonical arguments against this assertion.

Sadie Vacantist said...

In other words you have prevented a response to a deluded view of 20th century history - a delusion which resulted in the deaths of 50 million people.

Can we complain when the holocaust continues in the form of abortion?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sadie, Yes, it is a digression.

Anonymous said...

"Immorality might destroy a society but I can't see it causing an earthquake."

Father, is not it a traditional Catholic belief? Or just misunderstanding and exaggeration of cathlics (including many saints, including Doctors of the Church) of previous centuries?

Personally I think, to be exact about the immediate "mechanics," most often we may not say of "causing," but perhaps of "not preventing."

Fr Ray Blake said...

Seems to have more to do with Protestant Charismaticism than Catholiscism.
It is certainly not De Fide and is contrary to the Gospels.
Which Doctors teach that type of causality?

alban said...

Father: I find the idea that God punishes people by natural disasters to be abhorrent and contrary to the Gospels.

If the lewdness of New Orleans was responsible for the hurricane, then what is ths sin of the poor who suffer drought in Darfur? Are children who are born with disease being punished in some way - perhaps for the sin of their parents?. If God were to treat people in this manner, the UK should have been destroyed years ago.

No, God does not willfully destroy His people. This kind of thinking is akin to the fundamentalist television preachers in the US rather than authentic Catholic teaching. It is obscene thinking and makes of God a capricious Being.

Anonymous said...

Fr., if you mean a re-unification of all orthodox believers (with a small o rather a big O) of whatever stripe e.g. SSPX, NO, Eastern Church then I'm all for it. We've often been "gentle as doves" in the past 40-50 years but we certainly haven't been "wise as serpents" and this is the way to go for me. The Church militant again as opposed to the "Church pushover". It's a shrewd political move if this is what the Pope is thinking.

We are too bothered about what the world thinks and that's the problem. I can't imagine the martyrs of the Colliseum agonising over whether to be orthodox or not just because the people of the day might all find it a bit difficult and not like them.

If this is indeed what the Pope is thinking the next problem will be getting the diverse elements of the orthodox groups to bury the hatchet among themselves.

St. Peter, pray for us

Elizabeth said...

I found the following quite useful

"Nature's Vengeance"?
by Luis Sergio Solimeo
Why did God punish the Indian Ocean region with the tsunami rather than other, perhaps more sinful, areas of the earth? Why did hurricane Katrina devastate the city of New Orleans but leave the sinful French Quarter nearly unscathed?
Given our limited intellect, we cannot answer these questions with all certainty. However, we must conform to what the book of Ecclesiastes says:
And I understood that man can find no reason of all those works of God that are done under the sun: and the more he shall labor to seek, so much the less shall he find: yea, though the wise man shall say, that he knoweth it, he shall not be able to find it.
What really matters is not determining the ultimate reasons why God punishes some and spares others, but to understand that there is no injustice at all on His part.
In today's profoundly interrelated world, great catastrophes have a global impact. Images are quickly broadcast everywhere. One event can affect many other nations politically and economically.
Sin undeniably deserves punishment, be it in this life or the next. Likewise virtue deserves reward. The fact that God punishes or rewards some people already on earth and for others reserves His reward or punishment for the next life does nothing to alter His justice.
Therefore, one cannot claim that since the more sinful parts of the world were spared from the tsunami, or since the most sinful quarter of New Orleans was spared , then, there was positively no Divine interference.
As Saint Paul teaches, the just man lives from faith Roman 1:17 .Faith obliges us to believe in Divine Providence and in God's intervention in history. It is not a dogma of faith that tsunamis or hurricanes like Katrina are God's punishments on a humanity immersed into sin. However, prudence calls on us to consider this hypothesis very carefully as it helps us to better understand Divine justice and the malice of sin.

Anonymous said...


I forgot to add that for anyone interested in seeing pictures of the basket case that is the diocese of Linz check out Chris Gillibrand's blog He's got virtually a photo album of their liturgical disasters collected over the past couple of years. Be warned though - you'll need a strong stomach.

Fr Ray Blake said...

"Faith obliges us to believe in Divine Providence and in God's intervention in history."

Of course it does, but Divine Providence, is about mercy, God bringing good out of evil.

I think the problem here is a fundamental "misunderstanding" of the doctrinre of the Incarnation, in which God takes on himself the punishment for sin.

Elizabeth if we follow your inference, I would never go anywhere near a centre of legislation, just in case a thunder bolt fell.
The obverse of your arguement is God blesses the good with wealth and plenty, this is incredibly dangerous. It is denial of the Cross and ultimately of the Divinity of Our Lord, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.

Father John Boyle said...

Coming back to the 'how to explain it' question: I have been informed that my celebration of the extraordinary form is interpreted as sharing a bed with Williamson, as being tarred with the same brush as the SSPX.

Regardless of how we think things really are, we cannot deny the people's perceptions, even if they have been spun by the media.

My celebration of the extraordinary form began out of a desire to be a pastor to those who were attached to it. Now I have been put in the same box as supposedly anti-semite SSPX members.

This is untrue and unjust - I continue to celebrate the novus ordo, I preach about Vat II and no and ef Masses - and yet it's a reality in the realm of perception.

Some PR work needs to be done - doesn't the Catholic Church in this country have a Media Office for this purpose? Could this Office not enter into a coherent dialogue with the media?

And contrary to Fr Blake's experience, I get no young people at my ef Masses. Apart from some young families who shop around for them, some of whom might also attend the relatively local SSPX chapel. But I'm not doing it necessarily for young people but for whoever wishes to avail of it.

And - something which I did not anticipate - I now find it of immense spiritual benefit to me personally.

Hope your Candlemas ef Mass went well.

gemoftheocean said...

Fr. Ray, of course God loves the SSPXers too. But I'd think he'd want them to admit the error of their ways. It's this that irks me. Jesus said: "go now, AND SIN NO MORE."

I think Fr. Boyle hits the nail *exactly* on the head why I'm irritated (to say the least!) with this particular decision of the pope.

The reason I've always enjoyed your blog, Fr. Boyle's, Fr. Sean's and the-Hermenutic's blogs so much is *precisely* because you 4 AREN'T SSPXer types. The 4 of you are very spiritual and intellectual at the same time. Here in the US (and I might guess France as well) too often the Latin Mass was seen as something (in the last 40 years at least) as something craved by merely the SSPX types who do harbor or protect too many (especially those in leadership position - every church has its nuts) fringe elements. Adrienne was not kidding when she's said she's seen places torn apart by their attitudes (and she saw it from the inside.) I've found the English blogger priests a most welcome read. I.E. "yes, you can be a NORMAL Catholic and find wonderful things to admire about the Latin Mass." I have been watching, from afar, how slowly and steadily the English (who as far as I can tell NEVER had a huge SSPX following) priests have attempted to bring back some of the old ways and reverence for the Mass. I was hoping you folks and other like minded would gradually be the ones to be the spear heads for pointing the path to reverence for the Mass in general.

But as Father John says MOST people are not much aware of the Latin Mass yet, geez, I bet you perhaps FIVE out of a hundred Catholic in the US have even heard about priests being able to celebrate the EF - I'm NOT joking. Many diocese in the US are pretending "this didn't happen, let's wait for the pope to die and all this will blow over."

It's like watching dear precious grass shoots being slowly nurtured and developed and some bulldozer comes along and ploughs them up before they have a chance to thicken and spread. That's what angers me so about this decision.

Too many people NOT "in the know" will look at the *thoughtful* good priests who do the Latin Mass and assume they are part of the nut brigade.

Anonymous said...

Writing on the west bank of the Vistula - thank you Britain for going to war against Germany in 1939! Many many thanks! Many many many thanks!

A pre-natally-freed-from-a-life-of-slavery-to-the-Reich Pole

(shame about Yalta, mind you:-)

Anonymous said...

Fr Ray, I can remember John Paul saying in the 1990's looking at the immorality in Europe that God will not be silent forever. I also recall that in the apparitions at Fatima sister Lucia was told that if men do not mend their ways there will be a further and more awful war. The sign of this happening was apparetnly the aurora borealis in the late
1930's, visible in Europe.
The diary of St Faustina speaks of chastisements. Of course God can draw good out of evil but this whole area of chastisement is perhaps not one on which the Church teaches magisterially and therefore a range of opinions is possible. God certainly uses what occurs naturally in our lives to prune us spiritually but the area of chastisement and suffering and its spiritual setting is perhaps open to opinion in so far as it does not err against Church teaching. Chastisements are clearly mentioned in the lifes of many mystics. Is it a grey area?
Kind regards

Fr Ray Blake said...

If one acts against the Natural Law ctastrophe follows, normally for other people.
Today the Children's Society published a report on the effects of what Christians would call society's sins on the happiness and wellbeing of children in the UK.
It is pretty obvious that the irreligion and consequent lack of moral restraint of the USSR and Nazi Germany resulted in war and oppression, it was a natural consequence.

Fr Ray Blake said...

If one acts against the Natural Law ctastrophe follows, normally for other people.
Today the Children's Society published a report on the effects of what Christians would call society's sins on the happiness and wellbeing of children in the UK.
It is pretty obvious that the irreligion and consequent lack of moral restraint of the USSR and Nazi Germany resulted in war and oppression, it was a natural consequence.

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