…because, trust me, no one in your parish is going to help you.
Here’s your shovel. Now get to work.
The other day, I did a post that quite a few people seem to have read… and shared… and commented on… in fact, it’s been the biggest hit since I started this blog. This puzzles me slightly, because in it I basically said the same thing I’ve been saying from the start (and more or less the same thing I’ve been saying as a Catholic blogger since I started in 2004… only with fewer recipes.)
To sum up, Francis isn’t a weird and inexplicable anomaly. He’s really just the logical conclusion of what has been happening in the Church, and the world, since 1965. He’s not a surprise. He’s not “confusing.” He’s not a diversion from the glorious path of gloriousness the Church has been on since the close of Vatican II. He’s the embodiment of everything that’s been happening, including the intellectual and moral degradation, since the Church opened the windows and let the post-Enlightenment world in to run things. This includes his apparent inability – and the inability of his friends and supporters – to understand why a logical contradiction is meaningless. (When I mention “intellectual degradation” that’s what I mean. The loss of the ability to employ the basic principles of rational thought.)
All of this, I continue to maintain, is OK. It’s not a disaster unless you too start nonthinking that way. Moreover, this is all going to work out to a good thing in the end, since in Francis we finally see just what a grotesque parody of the Faith and of rationality this direction produces. He’s not just the embodiment of Vaticantwoism; he’s a walking, talking, blithering, selfie-taking, blaspheming, antirational, heretical twaddle-spewing example of the ancient parenting principle of the Bad Example; a guy so brazenly a bad father that he serves as a salutary lesson for the children in what not to do.
From the first day of this pontificate, I have been saying that this is the wake-up call the Church has so desperately needed. So obvious was this that it was the first thing my longtime atheist friend said when we talked after the Conclave: “Well, well… Pope Francis sure is popular with non-Catholics, isn’t he?”
I have maintained that the Church, bleeding out from a million papercuts, could not have survived another “conservative” pontificate. John Paul and Benedict had the capital of centuries to spend, but it’s all gone now, and we have to start from scratch. Francis is not only going to make that possible, but he’s going to make it the only possible path for believers. And that’s a good thing. In short, this pontificate was exactly what has been needed to force Catholics to re-learn their Faith, in order to defend it, now not only from the world but from the entirety of a hierarchy steeped in and addicted to their intellectual and carnal sins.
And [Halleluja!!] the remaining believing Catholics are starting to figure it out. Even the ones who were infected with the papal positivism that had become the norm under John Paul II, have started to question the nostrums of novusordoism – that set of ever-so-slightly-off and often unspoken assumptions about Catholicism that are in reality direct contradictions to the Faith of our fathers.
That “Unknowing” post has generated a big rush of emails. I will use one as an example. I won’t identify the writer, but she is a devout young lady from the US, who asks, “What are the main tenets of traditionalism as you refer to it? What is meant by “neo-modernism”? What was wrong with Pope Benedict’s pontificate? Can you recommend articles or books to read that cover this issue in greater detail?” Since I (and the small group of Trad bloggers out there) have been getting quite a few of these requests, I thought it would be a good idea to do a post giving the secret away.
I have written many times about the intellectual path I took that brought me out of the Novusordoist conservative paradigm. I have said that the logical contradictions of Vaticantwoism finally simply became insupportable, and another hypothesis was required to encompass the observable facts.
The difficulty people have, however, is that the source and meaning of these “observable facts” will remain obscure if the person continues to have nothing to create a contrast. I give the example of my good friend S, a young lady who came to stay at my place in Santa Marinella when she got a temporary job in Rome. She was a peach and everyone loved her, cheerful, kind and as devout as it is possible to be in the modern Church. She had just finished a degree at a large American mainstream Catholic university, and as such had never in her life encountered anything but “conservative” novusordoism. While she was staying with me and getting to know the Rome Trads she started going to the Trad mass at Trinita. I didn’t press her for her thoughts on the old rite, just hoping it would kind of sink in.
Then the Sunday came when we missed the Train into the City, and decided not to fight it and just stay in S. Mar for the day. We went to the NO Mass at the little Rosary Chapel around the corner from the flat. It was usually pretty innocuous; no guitars or hand holding, and the priest, while a bit longwinded, was at least a genuine believer as far as anyone could tell.
After Mass, as we walked down to the supermarket, S. suddenly burst out, “It’s SO DIFFERENT!” “What?” I said. “The whole thing! It’s almost as if it’s a totally different religion! Like it’s really all about us, like we’re all just sitting there talking about ourselves! God hardly gets a mention!”
I admit that I had difficulty stifling an evil laugh.
The trouble most people are going to have is that they never get an opportunity to get out of the NO bubble. They never hear about how the New Paradigm differs from the Faith.
Fortunately, the one thing they seem to have retained is the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, and it is this that Francis is now attacking. I think this will be his greatest contribution, since it is only on these issues that the novusordoist Catholics have retained any awareness of the Church’s tradition.
And of course, because the laity has to live every day out there in the secular wasteland, they see much better than most clergy just how much the world has diverged from the Church’s teaching, even in only the last few years. So many of us are children of divorced parents, so many of us have struggled out of the mire of the Sexual Revolution, the notion of a pope trying to force the Church to accept the secular world’s mores remains a horror to them. And this, I believe, is the last hope we have. It is only this, that to many of us is like a punch to a wound, that will shock them into investigating what is really happening.
It reminds me of another conversation I had some years ago. I met a nice young fellow from a seminary in Ireland. One evening we were seated opposite each other at dinner and we got into a discussion about the deficiencies of the New Rite and New Theology. He was a clever enough young fellow (working on a degree in math and physics) and had the Faith, so it was fairly easy to show him the more obvious logical and theological inconsistencies. It was pretty much Trad 101 stuff and he was willing to listen.
This was a young man who was never going to be satisfied with half-answers from either side of the argument. Ultimately, he was a nice young guy who wanted to know The Real and seemed willing to face the consequences of what he learned.
At the end of a long and very interesting discussion, he asked why he needed to change. Wouldn’t the NO do?
I asked him, “What is your intellect for?”
He replied, “To know God.”
“Good. So, when you are using your intellect to know God, does he want you to seek only partial knowledge, or does he want you to know everything that is within your power to know?”
He didn’t answer, but gave me a rather pained look.
“Of course,” I said with my Evil Smile, “there is no reason at all for you to do anything about this. You can secure your salvation in NewChurch. As you said, the Holy Spirit has rescued the NO Mass and the other sacraments from outright invalidity. You can lead a perfectly holy sacramental life in the new dispensation and go to heaven. You don’t have to look up and compare the two texts of the Mass and see what was removed and speculate on why. You don’t have to read the Von Hildebrands…
“You don’t have to ask yourself these difficult and frightening questions, or consider the consequences of finding out true things that would lead you somewhere you don’t want right now to go.”
“I can take the Blue Pill,” he said.
“You can take the Blue Pill.”
And here’s where I answer my young interlocutor’s question above. If you want to know what’s wrong with the New Paradigm in the Church, you will have to learn the Old Paradigm. After that, you will have the awful responsibility of deciding which one is true and what to do about it. This is something you have to do mainly on your own. It is where the question comes down to you and God. There will be people around you all yelling different things. There will be people who want to help you find out the truth, and people who want you to continue to conform to the New Paradigm. There will also be people who just get mad at you for wanting to be different – always failing to realize just how sucky it is to be different and weird, and that no one in his right mind just chooses it for the sake of being different. (There will also be the mean, stupid, bitter, angry or outright crazy Trads who just like yelling at people and telling them what to do. Avoid these. They are out there, but you don’t have to talk to them. I delete their rubbish from the inbox regularly.)
Here’s the reading list. It’s not complete. In fact, it is what I would call a starter kit. Quite a lot of it is old and out of print, (the Trad apologists started publishing in the early 80s for the most part) but can be found here and there on second hand and out of print bookseller websites. Also quite a lot of it has been made available online in full or in large quotes.
I learned a lot just by spelunking in the innernet a lot. Also, I had the huge advantage of living in John Muggeridge’s house for nearly three years, and it was literally piled high with this material, for obvious reasons.
I’ve avoided the really polemical works, which you probably don’t need to start with but will probably be more useful later on. A bunch of it comes from the SSPX, but I figure if you are too delicate a snowflake-flower to get past all the anti-SSPX nonsense, you probably also wouldn’t be reading me.
D. Von Hildebrand: Trojan Horse and Devastated vineyard, the Charitable Anathema
Abp. Lefebvre: Letter to Confused Catholics
Michael Davies: everything, but especially the Mass trilogy, (Cranmer’s Godly Order, Pope John’s Council and Pope Paul’s New Mass) his work on the false V-II idea of “religious liberty,” The Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, and Liturgical Time Bombs. There’s quite a lot more, many of which are thin booklets and out of print. Go and find them.
Romano Amerio: Iota Unum: A Study of the Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century.
Ralph Wiltgen: The Rhine Flows into the Tiber
Maritain: The Peasant of Garonne
Bouyer: “The Decomposition of Catholicism”
And the popes:
Quanta Cura (full text) – Pius IX on the errors of the modern age, including the Enlightenment/French Revolutionary principles that form the basis of the American Constitution.
Pascendi Dominici Gregis: Pius X’s declaration of war against the Modernist heresy.
Quas Primas: in which Pius XI explains how everything you thought you knew about “Catholic social teaching” is wrong. The Social Reign of Christ the King.
Mirari Vos: Gregory XVI on the grave threat (in 1832!) of liberalism and religious indifferentism.
Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae: Leo XIII against the Americanist heresy (essentially, against the idea that the Church and the same Enlightenment principles noted above can be compatible.)
… all of which is pretty much summarized in this book, “The Popes Against Modern Errors: 16 Papal Documents”
And if you are interested in comparing Francis (and JPII) and the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and sex, Casti Connubii: Pius XI.
Think of it as a shovel. With this material, you can dig down past the false floor and find the lost Church buried beneath.
It’s fun! Like being Indiana Jones.
In fact, you can listen to this while you do your homework.