As she appears in her present earthly configuration, the Catholic Church has no credibility to the world, for she looks, speaks, and acts like the world: the world has claimed her, to make of her what it wants, to have its way with her. Or rather, those who speak and act on behalf of the Church handed her over to the world, thinking thereby to convince it of her benevolence and desire to raise up the lot of man; but the world merely used and ravaged her, and made her into a limp, toothless ape of the world, or, as some have said, Chaplain to the United Nations. This is the Church that holds events like “The Economy of Francesco.”
The Church was betrayed by the progressives of Vatican II, just as Christ was betrayed by Judas; and as Peter denied Christ to protect himself, so the hirelings in the Church have abandoned truth until the world stopped bothering them, indeed until it seemed to agree with them; and thereby the Church became the world’s “little pet,” the lapdog of Soros and friends.
It is extremely painful to watch this happening, when it seems that, humanly speaking, there is nothing we can do about it. It is like watching, from a high position, two trains running towards each other on the same track, which we know will collide. We can shout; we can close our eyes; we can utter a prayer or a less admirable word; but the trains will collide.
As we see in the Gospels, Jesus Christ stood firm and never changed His uncompromising messianic and divine message. For this, he was persecuted and murdered. Likewise, those in the Church who care not for their own life but only for the life of Christ in His Church, these, too, are persecuted and exiled and “put to death”—usually in the form of marginalization and silence.
Yet such ostracization is not, or need not be, the end of the story, any more than the tomb was the end of Christ’s life. Judas, the Pharisees and scribes, Pilate and the Roman soldiers, none of them could prevent Christ from rising on the third day, exactly when He chose to rise. They could not prevent His apostles, duly chastened, from evangelizing the earth. They could not prevent His kingdom from taking root here below as it directed souls heavenward. Come what may, this Church will not be eradicated, though its fruit be stripped and its branches hewn off.
Traditional Catholics often hear the comment: “But aren’t traditionalists just a tiny minority? Why do you think you matter in the big picture?”
But how much do numbers really matter to God? In fact, upon consideration of the Bible and of Church history, it looks like He prefers to accomplish great things by means of little things—and the greater the work, the littler the means. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways your ways…” (Is 55:8). “The foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong” (1 Cor 1:27).
He started the entire human race with one man, Adam, and an original couple, Adam and Eve. When they wrecked their lives and ours, He promised to redeem us by the Woman and by her Seed, that is, by two other individuals.
He started the human race over again, so to speak, with Noah and his immediate family.
He started Israel with Abraham and Sarah, the one a bargainer and bigamist, the other a laughing skeptic. From their son Isaac emerged descendents as numerous as the stars of the sky or the sand of the seashore.
He started the New Israel with twelve men. The first four were fishers. Most were rather unremarkable in worldly terms. One of them betrayed Him and all but one fled. From this unpromising beginning came forth a global spiritual empire.
He rejected 31,700 troops of Gideon, preferring to defeat the armies of Midian by means of three hundred picked men. He wanted to make it clear that the victory was His to boast of, not Israel’s.
The prophet Elijah was the leader of the resistance movement against the cult of Baal, which had all the political power and numbers on its side.
St. Benedict of Nursia started the greatest monastic movement in the history of the world. According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia: “At the beginning of the fourteenth century the order is estimated to have comprised the enormous number of 37,000 monasteries. It had up to that time given to the Church no less than 24 popes, 200 cardinals, 7,000 archbishops, 15,000 bishops, and over 1,500 canonized saints.”
Something similar could be said of St. Dominic, St. Francis, and St. Ignatius of Loyola. These individuals—not the nameless masses or the high-falutin’ world of courtiers—are the ones who most of all changed the face of the earth. God chooses one in order to bless many; He leads many back to Him by means of the one.
You and I, too, are supposed to be “important individuals who make a crucial difference.” Our job, the only one God has given us, is to become saints, and in so doing, to make a difference in a world gone mad by its loss of God, and in a Church gone rotten from its lukewarm members. We will do this primarily by prayer; by the study of the Word of God; by stability in our vocations; and by giving fearless witness whenever and wherever demanded. For some it will involve a more active apostolate; for others, on the contrary, it will mean withdrawing into silence and penance.
On the other hand, Scripture paints a sobering picture of the direction that the majority at any time tend to go in: the majority of Adam’s fallen descendents (“wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat,” Mt 7:13); the majority of Israelites; the majority of Christians in the early centuries who fell away under persecution; the majority of Christians who became worldly in this or that period of history; the majority of self-identified Catholics today, whose beliefs and lives differ little or nothing from those of their unbelieving liberal neighbors; the overwhelming majority of the episcopacy throughout the world. Can we detect a pattern? What should be surprising to us is any stretch of time, any privileged place, where we see anything other than this pattern.
Scripture also tells us that sin maketh nations miserable (Prov 13:34), and that he who loveth iniquity hateth his own soul (Ps 10:6; cf. Prov 8:36). The Church, too, for her own good, cannot escape this law. For churchmen to shut down public Mass and sacramental reception for months, and then to follow it up with an exponential increase in mandatory Eucharistic profanation—I refer to various policies requiring communion in the hand and forbidding it on the tongue—is like someone taking cyanide and then, for good measure, shooting himself in the head. It will get results. Namely: the execution of divine wrath, which will sweep away the excuse of the worldly Church as it swept away the temple and nation of the Jews under the impious kings of Judah and Israel.
Like Elijah, we must remember there are still servants of God who will not bend the knee to Baal. We must persevere in prayer and refuse to consent to their wickedness, while we await our deliverance from God, whose all-seeing wisdom, cosmic timeline, and methods of involvement are not ours.
We do not know what will come. We may suffer sacramental deprivation for long periods of time. We may be forced to go underground and rely on the few priests—they exist in almost every diocese—who are still animated by reverential fear of the Lord and love for the eternal destiny of His flock. It will not be easy, and we must be ready to forego human respect and the psychological consolation of “acting by the books.” The state of emergency is not just a remote theoretical possibility; it is increasingly the only environment in which we live.
The greatest miracle of modern times is not the dancing of the sun at Fatima, as marvelous as that was, but the miracle of a Church that has survived its postconciliar mutilation and malnourishment. To be more precise: the standing miracle is the Lord’s preservation and protection of a minority of clergy and faithful who have remained true to, or who are awakening to the truth of, Catholic doctrine and tradition, and who are, in fact, the Church alive in orthodox faith, in devotion, in the pursuit of virtue. This is the whole Church in miniature, like a potent seed ready to grow again into a great tree, or a leaven ready to lift the dough.
Dr. Peter Kwasniewski is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College and The Catholic University of America. He taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria, the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austria Program, and Wyoming Catholic College, which he helped establish in 2006. Today he is a full-time writer and speaker on traditional Catholicism who has written many books and publishes on a wide variety of sites. His work has been translated into twenty languages. Visit his personal website at www.peterkwasniewski.com, his Substack “Tradition and Sanity,” his publishing house Os Justi Press, and his composer site CantaboDomino.