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The Dangers of Focusing Only on the Negative in the Church


The video below, taken from a talk by Fr. Chad Ripperger — a traditional priest, psychologist, and exorcist of some renown — has been making the rounds since last year. I’ve always intended to listen to it, but at an hour in length, I never seemed to make it all the way through.

This past weekend I had to make a long drive alone, so I finally fired it up and patched it into the car stereo.

I’m glad I did.

I think this talk touches on some important points. I think it’s something we all need to hear. I keep mentioning that I want to highlight more of the positive aspects about the Catholic Faith, not just report on the seemingly endless wave of assaults on it from within. There is a reason for that. I know it’s toxic. I can feel it. (Still, focusing on the positive is easier said than done these days.) It doesn’t mean the bad news doesn’t matter, or that we shouldn’t be informed, or even that we here at 1P5 shouldn’t cover those things.

But we must seek a balance. If we focus only and always on what’s wrong, we habituate ourselves to seeing the bad in everything, and it becomes an impediment to our spiritual growth. As Fr. Ripperger says, we shouldn’t stick our heads in the sand, but we should only pay as much attention to these things as the duties of our state in life demand.

I think there’s a lot of food for thought here. If you can make the time to listen to the whole thing — and I do recommend that you hear all of it, to get the different pieces he covers throughout — it’s worth your time.

Please remember that Father Ripperger’s talks are licensed as “Penanceware”. What does that mean? I’ll let him explain:

These media files are PenanceWare, which require that you do one of the following: (1) $1.00 via Paypal, (2) offer up a decade of the Rosary, or (3) perform some form of penance for the intentions of Fr. Ripperger (for each individual media file downloaded). The same rule applies if you copy and distribute to friends. External links, e.g. the videos from Keep the Faith, etc. are not Penanceware.

If you’d like to hear more of his excellent talks and conferences, they’re available at his website here. I’ve included the video below for convenience, but it’s an unofficial copy, and you should treat it as though the same licensing applies. So grab a seat, have a listen, and fire up those rosaries and/or donations. It’s for a good cause.

73 thoughts on “The Dangers of Focusing Only on the Negative in the Church”

  1. As usual, Fr. Ripperger gives sound advice. His talks have taught me a lot. In this present time of darkness the teaching of clear, sound doctrine shines brightly as a beacon of Truth. May the Lord send many more Holy priests to work in His vineyard.



    Weary, weary,
    On this earth
    Shielding souls
    Beyond their worth.

    Few are grateful
    Some regress
    Others proud
    They won’t confess

    When the waves
    Break on the shore
    Warning them
    What is before.

    You stand on this rock
    ‘Gainst the gales
    Fore those who mock

    Facing squalls
    They cannot see
    But all behold
    Your bended knee.

    Few will follow
    Some deny
    They won’t comply.

    Then a blue moon
    Saffron sun
    Come together
    Almost one.

    Fingers blessed
    With Holy Oil
    You lift the Light…
    Sun moon recoil.

    Blinding many
    Opening eyes
    Most despise.

    But on this rock
    You stand your ground
    Opposing strife.

    Between the storms
    And sheep you block
    The tempest winds
    That hurt the flock.

    With outstretched arms
    The daily crux
    You nail the Truth
    So not in flux

    Never will lie
    Only can free
    Upon this rock

  3. What a great post. There’s a really amazing thing going on in the Church today: the Flame of Love movement. Fully approved by the Church, and the woman (Elizabeth Kindleman) who received locutions recorded much in a diary, which received the Apostolic blessing. Mary told Elizabeth that God hasn’t given such graces to humanity since the incarnation of Christ, such as the graces bestowed on us through this devotion. It requires some fasting and prayer, but the effects are three-fold: 1) bringing about the Second Pentecost, 2) bringing about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, 3) availing ourselves of Mary’s role as our Advocate. She told Elizabeth that this Flame of Love grace will be to Christians what the ark was to Noah. This must be everyone’s primary focus as Catholics today – Jesus said that too! So many souls will be saved through this grace.

    • Fr. Ripperger has a great sermon debunking a “second Pentecost” in the archives of Audio Sancto. It is on outstanding sermon. And he calls a second Pentecost a proximate heresy. I was present for that sermon and you could have heard a pin drop.

      • What would the Triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart be but this? Jesus himself spoke to Elizabeth of the Spirit flooding the earth! “On March 27, the Lord said that the Spirit of Pentecost will flood the earth with his power and a great miracle will gain the attention of all humanity. This will be the effect of grace of the Flame of Love.” I choose to hope in this miracle and outpouring of grace brought about by Mary’s advocacy for her children.

        • The Holy Spirit already flooded the world, once and only once. A “new Pentecost” or a ” second Pentecost” is proximate heresy.

        • What EDK is saying is that this Flame of Love devotion is not legitimate, or at least appears so. I’ve not heard of it before but what I’ve now seen after taking a look makes me leery of it. It has the feeling of other illegitimate Marian apparitions… It is safer to stick to Traditional devotions and prayers in these confusing days to avoid being carried off by various strange teachings.

          I’m NOT saying this devotion is definitively false. I’m just saying be careful and do not put too much faith in these prophecies – put faith only in the promises of Our Lord.

          • It’s Church approved! Cardinal Erdo approved the apparitions. He practices the devotion. And her Diary received the apostolic blessing. Mary’s making an appeal… I’m more leery of ignoring her explicit requests. Look into it!

  4. As usual, Father Ripperger cuts through the fog and speaks frankly about negativity and how Satan uses “the news” to move us to anger and despair.

    Part of this temptation is we can think that because we are focused on The Church, The Pope, The Mass, etc. we are ‘being religious and pleasing God.’ This is far from the truth. He says around the 17 minute mark that anything that takes us away from God is bad…and so if our focus is always on what’s happening in the Church, we are certainly not focused on Him.

    For me, this means no more OnePeterFive, or any of the half dozen blogs I read daily. I find myself mired in the most debilitating negativity. Sorrow, anger, and even hatred, as well as despair, cloud my every thought. Four years of focus on the negative in Francis and the Church in general, which is not to say we are not flooded with it to the exclusion of the positive, have taken a toll on my intellect and my will.

    I asked myself this morning “what is good news? where do I find it? who is speaking it?” I realized that in some circles we speak of the Gospel as “the good news.” The good news is that this world is not a source of happiness, contentment and ease. Sort of like that old song says I’m “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Frankly I can’t think of a source of good news on the internet, if you discount the pictures of puppies and babies, and the new rose at the local flower show. Where is it to be found?

    Father Ripperger also says if we are not perfect how can we expect to find it in others? Anyway, thanks for putting this up for a review. Most of the beginning Father also describes in his book: “Introduction to the Science of Mental Heath” – not an easy read but worth ploughing through.

    It’s unfortunate that going cold turkey – off the blogs with all the negativity/news/discord in com-boxes is the answer. Habits are hard to break, and breaking the habit of reading negativity day after day will be just as hard. I state categorically that the above are only my thoughts, my difficulties, and my solution. I mean NO criticism of anyone, most certainly not OnePeterFive.

    • Barbara — I hear you. I am a new convert and have gone through cycles of confusion as I hear so many self-identified Catholics interpreting/responding to Church teaching in so many opposing ways. I’ve gone cold turkey, then gone back to the blogs, then limited my intake. I even confessed this as a sin to my priest; I confessed that I was becoming too distracted by the scandal of the day.

      How much is too much? One technique I’ve tried is limiting myself to 5-10 minutes/day for news/blogs. The other trick is to balance out negative news with actions like prayer…and especially studying the Catechism. I try to read the Catechism every day. It’s measured tone contrasts greatly with the blurting utterances that some people try to pass off as dogma. Just the act of trying to understand the authentic Magisterium…researching, thinking, reasoning…once we practice those disciplines we can quickly realize that those who oppose authentic teaching are really just shooting from the hip, they are not thinking things through, they are merely seeking attention.

      I actually decided to financially support 1P5 today based on it introducing me to this video and to book “The Political Pope.” I look at outlets like 1P5 as resources pointing me to deeper resources (videos, books, long-form essays) that help to cement my confidence in the beauty, truth, and effectiveness of Tradition. These deeper resources help to combat the superficial confusion I have when coming across negative news.

      “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”

      • One piece of very friendly advice to offer: steer clear of reading “the political pope’; not because it isn’t good (so far it is) but because it will not help your strategy of reducing your focus on the scandal of the day. It recounts scandal after scandal after scandal. Incredibly depressing because it’s overwhelmingly true.

        • Thank you polycarped. I am already on chapter 3 though. Thus far it is helping me understand why Francis is the way he his; we can trace his pedigree and predict his behavior. This gives some comfort. Nihil novi sub sole

      • You can’t imagine him saying such a thing because he never would and never has said such a thing. As Steve pointed out above, Fr. Nicholson said that and there is quite the difference between the two priests.

        • He did believe the SSPX were schismatic. I can vouch for that in one of his sermons. I listened to most of his sermons on his website years ago. I don’t remember him saying the black Mass comment. I hope he didn’t. But EDK seems to have had private personal conversations with him. Linking SSPX attendance with demonic oppression is wrong and absolutely disgusting.

          • Let’s wait until EDK produces the ‘private conversations’ with proof before we jump to conclusions.

          • You either take him at his word or don’t. How is he going to produce the private conversations? He wasn’t recording them.

          • Quite. Having huge respect for Fr Ripperger and never having heard of EDK before, I decline to take him at his word.

          • He is a respectable priest. I am just saying that there is a bit of a cult of personality around him and he is not always correct.

          • I can’t. I am not saying he is not a respectable priest. I’m just saying he is not always correct.

          • So, I’m lying? How can I produce private conversations and then post them here? You either believe it or you don’t. Why not ask him?

          • Not only that, but he convinced my confessor and spiritual director that I needed to undergo certain rituals provided by father reporter in order to be freed from these demons.

      • Floored me, too. See my comment to Steve Skojec. He told me (when he was still an FSSP priest) that he thought I had a demonic oppression from attending the SSPX.

        • Wow. I knew that he thought the SSPX were schismatic as he says in a sermon. I disagree with him and think he is completely wrong on that, but to take it as far as what you say, is too much. I hope now with all that has happened to him with the bishops and the positive developments with the SSPX /Rome and regularization of their sacraments, he can see the error of this thinking.

          • And in the context of not being too negative about things in the church perhaps he should take his own advice. That’s all I am trying to say.

          • Is there a way to contact you privately? Your experiences with certain individuals suggest other experiences that I am aware of, and I would be interested to speak with you privately.

          • Post an email address and I will reach out. I would but being on the bad list here opens me up to a flood of emails demanding what I can’t provide.

          • I know a conservative diocesan priest who, only ten years ago, said that +Lefebvre was a heretic and a schismatic.

            Now, a decade later into the crisis, he thinks the SSPX are great, which is, of course, quite correct.

    • You’re confusing him with Fr. Paul Nicholson, who has since disappeared from the public eye after his bishop pulled the plug on his online ministry.

      He wrote that about the SSPX Mass in response to something I published here, so believe me, I’m familiar with that situation.

  5. I’m so glad you posted this information, Steve. I’d never heard of this good priest and I really look forward to hearing his talks. This is so timely and we all need some positive reinforcement and guidance. Thanks much.

  6. Five to ten years ago, I devoted most of my free time to church-related endeavors, and the negativity and frustration only grew. In the past couple years, though, I gave up all my interests in “helping” the church, and took up totally unrelated hobbies, traditional woodworking for one, and started a new and very challenging career. I can’t believe how much more positive I am now that I don’t spend my time thinking about things related to the Catholic church. If you had told me ten years ago that the best thing I could do for my own well-being was “stay away from the problems in the church as much as possible” and do something unrelated, I would have thought it crazy. After all, the church is supposed to be our “home”, and how will things get better if we don’t make an effort? Well, folks, perhaps it’s a broken home and perhaps it’s not up to us to fix. Go out and do something — anything — else if you can. You’ll be better for it.

  7. “…we should only pay as much attention to these things as the duties of our state in life demand.”

    Nail. Head. That’s the key challenge for many of us I suspect. I know it is for me. But its hard not to get angry when your love – the very Bride of Our Lord – is being abused. It’s easy for frustrations to build up and affect (destructively) our personal/spiritual and family lives. As somebody rightly said in a combox recently, none of us will get to heaven on the sins of others. Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for Us!

    • Most of the time, yes, that’s true. It’s often hard to strike a proper balance between reporting what’s happening and giving hope and proclaiming the good, true, and beautiful. With so much evil in the world, it’s easy to get caught up. This article is not only something for us to see, but also, I think, an expression of an intent to point more to the good and holy whenever possible.

    • 1P5 is able to hone in on, document, and explain the evils that are malignant, especially those coming from the highest levels of authority in the Church in a way that few blogs do.I think it would be a mistake to sugar-coat things for the sake of pleasing those who tend toward Polyannyism. There is plenty of Saint-produced spiritual reading and there are many good sermons on the net. In the best of these you will also find specific information and examples of the evil contrasted with the good.

  8. Steve – glad to see you post this. It is very important. Fr. Ripperger is an important voice and reliable through and through.

      • Thanks Steve. With all that is going on, it is incredibly difficult to strike that balance. For me, my peace emerges out of the reality that God is in control even when we, as His people, are completely out of control on a human level. It is easier to see things from a merely human perspective – political machinations – etc. It is harder to step back and see all of this beautiful mess from God’s perspective. Regardless, keep up the good fight. May your weapons be of the Lord’s choosing and my they be effective in defending the Way the Truth and the Life.

  9. This is really about the Truth. The fact is that although things are truly dire, we have to remember that God is still very much at work, and we still have much good to do.

  10. Our Catholic faith is more than a belief, it is an experience of great love for Christ, His Church and His children.
    The experience is how we live the faith, in relationship to our Lord and to others.
    Knowing this Truth, can certainly cause great pain, as one sees more and more the rejection of Christ and His teachings in every aspect of our world, particularly in our Church. And yet, we cannot hide nor turn a blind eye, for that in a way, would be denying Christ, in my mind. But, if our KNOWLEDGE of the battle for our Church, leads to overwhelming negativity, how can we live our faith for Him and for others? How can we stay as ” little children” so that we may adore and please Him? How do we give, without worry of receiving?

    Fear and worry, are two great enemies. They prevent so much good from being given, as Christ would have.
    And I have a very good son, that his father and I give to the priesthood, should our Lord call on that, as He seems to be doing. I am no saint here, I have great worry for his safety, which I keep to myself. Enough of me.

    God be with us all and let us try to support each other with understanding and kindness, during these difficult times, and always, always, always………..keep the faith in fidelity to Christ first, and I do think that does require a bit of backbone, which our good Lord will provide. In the end, when we give, we may lose many things on this earth, but that is just the Way.

  11. The lecture is worth listening to a second and third time. (I will have a rosary worth of decades by the time I finish.) Although he addresses “traditionalists”, I suspect his words apply to all of us. The prayer that ran through my mind as Father spoke was the “serenity prayer” — “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    There is an extension to the “serenity prayer” — the full version — that I think is especially apropos:

    “Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, Not as i would have it.
    Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with him forever in the next. Amen.”

    It isn’t a “Catholic prayer” per se, but I think it applies to the situation we are all faced with today: in the Church, in our families and communities, in our workplaces and businesses and in the world today. God Bless.

  12. I would love it if more of the traditional Catholic media spent time discussing the Faith (theology) and even cultural things and the traditional approach to them. There are so many wonderful things that have been a part of Catholic life for centuries that have been abandoned and yet many of it is barely mentioned by most traditionalist sites. I know recently on the Remnant Michael Matt expressed interest in doing a show on homeschooling… something that I think many trads would be interested in and something that’s actually positive. I get it’s not the kind of stuff that gets viewers like the bad news, but it certainly is nice to be educated on these kinds of things.

    • We began with those kinds of essays, and I’m pushing to find our way back to including more of them. The problem is, and has been, that the crisis is what’s on everyone’s mind.

      But if you look at the “Browse Articles & Podcasts” pulldown at the top and take a look at “Culture” or “Catholic Life” or “Theology” or “Liturgy
      & Sacraments” you’ll find a bunch of that kind of thing. Yes, there’s some news mixed in there as well.

      I think we may need to add a category list so people can more easily find what they’re looking for.

  13. So I checked out Fr. Ripperger’s website. Oh my! Simply awesome. I am going to be saying the rosary a lot, it appears, for whatever intentions the good Father desires. These are exactly the resources my soul craves.

    I think 1 Peter 5 has just provided me with the answer to my dilemma. From the masses in my community I can get the Liturgy of the Word (hit or miss! on the homily) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. From Fr. Ripperger’s website, I am guaranteed to find a homily that is holy and honoring of the Lord. Combine the two and I am good.

    I have been praying for an answer as to what I should do — what the Lord wants me to do. My prayers have been answered. If you haven’t checked out the link to Sensus Traditionis it is well worth the visit.

  14. Excellent choice, Steve.

    Father Ripperger was instrumental in educating us about Freemasonry and provides prayers for breaking the Masonic oaths. I highly recommend them to all who have or had Freemasons in their direct line of ancestry!

    Great job, Steve, and as the negative is the “defense”, the positive is the “offense” in the fight against evil. So BRAVO and god’s blessings on your goals here!

    Looking forward to it!!

  15. Not only you, but all of us share the same concerns. You’re absolutely right that all of the news coming out regarding our faith is bad because bad things are happening. But I think you miss the point of the article.

    Let’s use another analogy. In all reality, we’re in the middle of a war. So, during a war, what do the armies do? Well, certainly they send out scouts and analyze intelligence to determine the enemy’s position and assess strengths and weaknesses. They strategize, and plan engagements… but while the leadership and intelligence services do that, what does the everyday soldier do? When not in a direct engagement they will train to hone their skills, clean their weapons and equipment, or even spend some time with their comrades and have a little fun. Until marching orders come and they march.

    The average soldier is not spending all his time analyzing every bit of intelligence coming in (unless that’s his job) and mulling over what the generals are going to do. That would make him go crazy! And, like it or not, that’s what we are. So what we need to do is study our faith (honing our skills,) learn to pray more effectively (preparing our weapons and equipment,) and maybe blow off some steam with our comrades (I think we all have some good friends.)

    In addition, we need to look at our history and see what it is we’re actually fighting for. We need to look at our great works of art, spend time in prayer, take up devotions, etc. On top of that, it’s by taking up these devotions and being in prayer that we actually fight the battles. And when the news does come in, we take the intelligence, analyze it, and move on until we have some clear marching orders.

    The point of this article isn’t to turn a blind eye or just start reporting good things; the point is to have a balance so that we can be an effective fighting force.

    • Jafin, great comment but my issue with the analogy is the cause of the confusion is so deep it’s virtually impossible not to be negative. You use the analogy of the soldier, which is apt, so let’s stick with it. Imagine a soldier fighting a war where his superiors are his enemy, his enemies are his enemy, and the few people who think like you are similarly stressed because of the same predicament.

      There is no way for that soldier to escape the predicament unless he becomes a deserter, but if he stays he doesn’t see who he is fighting for. Can I follow the commands of my superior? It might get me and my buddies destroyed spiritually. Do I agree with their direction or their ideas? Do they agree with me or do they consider me a deserter already to be punished as a God denying rigorist?

      Without sounding too negative we are literally in an impossible situation intellectually. There is no right way to fight the battle, there is no leader, and the leadership is completely against you. Do I really believe Cardinal Burke really thinks like me? Do I really believe the restoration of the Church is Ratzingerian theology?

      Just war theory is predicated on the idea that victory is attainable. I could have 1,000 good willed Catholics give me 1,000 plans of what that victory would look like and how the battle should be fought and all of them would be different. It’s leadership that matters. How can that war be fought if no one agrees on who, what, and where the battle should be fought outside of saying to pray?

      The war is over, it’s been fought and we lost. Being under enemy control is ok, just like the Japanese who for 400 years didn’t have priests. The difference is would they have persisted for 400 years if their leaders told them their beliefs were wrong, they were rigorists, and they had to believe with obedience things they were told they were the faith their whole lives? We don’t live in physical slavery, but we live in a spiritual slavery to beliefs that are called into question by the men we were told could never undo what Christ did. It’s a spiritual nightmare and from a nightmare without a forseeable end humanly speaking smiling about the Church is virtually impossible unless you aren’t thinking about the faith.

      • Intellectually, yeah, you’re right. There’s no way to win. It’s a good thing it’s Our Lord who’s actually in charge. Even with all the traitors in the ranks, the True Head, Our Lord, is reigning. He’s allowing this. But He’s got it under control. Another point: do you think the Japanese persisted for 400 years by lamenting about how bad things are? Or did they take whatever little bit they could get to help them live and believe the Catholic faith? We fight the war by persisting in that which is good, true and beautiful. I would say the war certainly is NOT over… or Our Lord’s promise in Matthew 16:18 would be a lie.

        • You make some good points. However, what little bit do you take and what little bit do you leave behind? Is it the SSPX? Is it the fraternity of Saint Peter? Is it your local diocesan priest? I’ve had a vast amount of experience dealing with all of this and have found deficits in the mall. To be honest if I were dealing with a person who wanted to convert to Catholicism I would not know where to send them. It’s hard to be so upbeat. I have a psychological analogy that I have used frequently with friends. It goes something like this: you come from an abusive home and you hunger for a good father figure and a strong motherly heart to help you and guide you. When your abusive father throws you a few crumbs from the table you tend to over compensate his positive qualities. I think that is where traditionalists and conservative Catholics are at this moment in church history. Don’t see what isn’t there.

          • Personally, I’m going to the FSSP parish in my diocese. I’ve found good Catholics and good priests, though I don’t really fit in with the other parishioners well. I’ve also found an Ordinariate priest who is amazing and traditional that I trust. I take what little bit I can get wherever I can get it. A bit from one place, a bit from another. I also help serve and teach young people in a very bad liberal Novus Ordo parish where there is a good faithful Faith Formation Director holding the tide against a number of heretic priests, because this is one place I can help fight against the evil in the church. There are lots of good, traditional spiritual reading and prayers to say. There’s some companionship to be had online if you can’t find it in the real world.

            I can’t say where YOU will find it, because I’m not you and not God and I don’t know what He has for you. But what I DO know is that wallowing in our own misery, wondering how things will every get better, and being down doesn’t do anything. I should note that I have struggled for years with severe anxiety and depression, and I still do every day. It’s not healthy from a purely human, psychological standpoint, much less a spiritual one. If there is a diocesan priest who is a great confessor, an SSPX priest who gives wonderful homilies, and an FSSP priest who is great at teaching children the faith, then make use of all of those priests’ gifts. The Church is full of riches… 2000 years worth almost… they’re a bit harder to find with all the rubbish scattered about for the last 52+ years, but it’s all there. You just have to dig, sometimes quite far.

          • I attend FSSP guardedly. I worked for them in the office processing sacramental requests and they are hog-tied by the dioceses. SSPX is my comfort zone.

  16. Thanks, Steve, for posting Fr. Ripperger’s talk. I listened to it on the way to work this week and was a bit surprised at how negatively Father portrays Traditional Catholics. As someone relatively new to “Traditional Catholicism” perhaps I lack the proper perspective but I have to say that the Traditional Catholics I have met so far (including on 3 retreats over the course of the past 3 years) are not at all like those mentioned by Fr. Ripperger in his talk. Rather, I find most of them to be much more joyful and welcoming – although perhaps a bit more reserved in their nature – than most folks in my former Novus Ordo parish.

    Please keep up the good work and may God bless you, your family and 1P5.


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