You may have noticed that posting has been light this week. I’ve noticed too. What used to take me a few hours to write seems to be taking several days. My reserves are tapped out. Every day is starting to feel like deja vu all over again — the same stories, or some variation on the same stories, again and again and again until you’re not sure if you’ve seen this one before. I’m not sure how many more beatings this dead horse can take. Is there any honest Catholic left on earth who doesn’t recognize the utter insanity of what is happening in the Church? When I started this gig, defenders of this papacy and the steps being taken in its “program of reform” were legion. The challenge back then was waking them up.
Now, the challenge is keeping the people who have woken up from jumping ship.
I had a conversation with someone the other day who told me a story. He said that when he was young, he went to confession, and for some reason he asked his confessor the question, “What would happen if we had a bad pope who was really damaging the Church? What would we do?”
“I couldn’t have imagined it would ever happen,” he said to me. “I don’t know why I asked, but I did.”
The wise old confessor said to him, “What do you think people did in the middle ages when popes were accusing popes and fighting over the throne and there were antipopes rivaling real popes? They put their heads down, they prayed, they studied, they taught their children, they lived their faith, and they protected those who would become the next generation of priests, bishops, and cardinals.”
“Until very recently, I kept thinking we needed to form some kind of organized resistance,” my friend said to me. “But now, I realize this is what we must do.”
This same person told me another story, about a wise bishop who was faced with great challenges in his diocese. Loss of faith, disinterested people, parishes a mess…just a range of seemingly unsolvable problems.
“What can you do?” My friend asked.
“Focus on becoming a saint,” the bishop replied. “Taking action can only accomplish so much, but one saint can convert an entire country.”
It seems this is where we find ourselves. Maybe this is what Bishop Athanasius Schneider means when he tells us that it is the laity who will save the Church. Or when he exhorts:
I would like to say to these priests, seminarians, young people and families: “It is an honor and a privilege to be faithful to the Divine truth and to the spiritual and liturgical traditions of our forefathers and of the saints and being therefore marginalized by those who currently occupy administrative power in the Church. This your fidelity and courage constitute the real power in the Church. You are the real ecclesiastical periphery, which with God’s power renews the Church. Living the true tradition of dogma, liturgy and holiness is a manifestation of the democracy of the Saints, because tradition is the democracy of the Saints. With Saint Athanasius I would like to tell you these words: Those in the Church who oppose, humiliate and marginalize you, have occupied the churches, while during this time you are outside; it is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the Apostolic Faith. They claim that they represent the Church, but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray (cf. Letter to his flock)”.
For my part, I don’t want to tell you the same bad stories day after day anymore. I don’t want this to be the place where you go to hear the latest outrage, to stoke the fires of discontent, to lose your peace of soul. I asked recently if you’re in this fight. But what I think I’ve been coming to understand is that the battle has actually shifted to a different front, and it’s time we did too.
Scandal is addictive. We do not manufacture it here, but we have put it on display. We believe that the faithful have the right — and even the duty — to be informed. But at some point, we have to draw a line. We have to make choices about where to place our focus. We have woken up about as many people as we can hope to wake.
So what do we do now? Where are we going?
These are the questions I can’t stop asking myself. Our motto here is our mission statement: Rebuilding Catholic Culture. Restoring Catholic Tradition. Why did I choose this phrase? Because Catholic Culture built Western Civilization, preserved the knowledge of the ancients, brought innovations in science and technology, invented the University system, inspired the greatest artists, musicians, and craftsmen of all time, and filled countless souls with a zeal for God that led them to live holy lives, and even to preach the Gospel at the cost of their blood. Every answer to every problem we have now can be found in our long-abandoned roots. And Catholic Tradition — those teachings, devotions, practices, and most of all, the Mass of All Time, are what nurture and nourish an authentic Catholic culture.
We can return to these things. We can make them present again, and allow them, once rediscovered, to flourish anew.
Over the years, I’ve occasionally mentioned that I want to focus more of our efforts on the timeless things. On exploring the beauty of our Catholic Faith, and on learning from those people and places in the world where it is being manifested most impressively today. We have never stopped producing this kind of content — the kind that reminds us why we fight, but in our attempts to stay abreast of the avalanche of current events, it has continuously slipped into last place in our list of priorities.
In that respect, we’ve failed you.
My friend Hilary White said to me recently that she thinks we’ve been hoodwinked into playing the enemy’s game. That they do something awful, and we react. Again and again, this cycle repeats itself, until we suddenly realize that we’ve long since been dancing to their tune. You may have noticed that she shut down her blog, What’s Up With the Synod? These realizations — and the alarming awareness that this isn’t good for any of us — were among the reasons she made that decision.
What I’m telling you is, I think we need to find a way back. Back out of the cesspool that our alleged shepherds have dug out for us. We need to study our faith. To re-learn it, or even to learn it for the first time. There are a lot of young Catholics now looking to tradition. They haven’t read the books. They are too young to remember what things were like before Summorum Pontificum. They do not carry the baggage of having watched the asteroid hit. They just want to know, to learn, to understand.
We can help them.
As long as only a very few publications are willing to stand in the breach, we will never be free of the duty to cover the stories that matter most. But we can no longer be so heavily focused on nothing but the scandal du jour in Rome. It’s killing me. I’m miserable. I don’t want to think of nothing but the evils that have infested the Mystical Body of Christ. I want to remember why Holy Mother Church is beautiful, lovable, a majestic creature worthy of the painstaking work of restoration.
And I know in my bones that the enemy has co-opted us — all of us who have become frustrated and disillusioned — in his plans for the papacy. Francis may be the one destroying the credibility of that office, but he is doing it with our help. For just as none of us who lived through the sexual abuse crisis will ever really trust a priest around our children, even though we want to, those of us who have lived through this crisis of the papacy will likely always have a reflexive distrust of the Successor of St. Peter. We are forgetting how to respect the office because the man in the office has behaved so disrespectfully. We are losing an essential part of the sensus fidei. We must be very careful to guard ourselves against a bitterness that cannot be rooted out.
I don’t know exactly how to move forward from here. I may be the captain of this ship, but there’s no definitive map for where we are, or where we must go, though we’ve been given some clues. If we truly want to engage in the work of restoring what was made ugly into something beautiful again, we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves. We’re going to have to read more, research more, spend a lot more time thinking through what and how we should discuss, highlight, and share. We need to get serious about providing resources for people to grow in their faith, not just show them the horror show in Rome and hope they don’t lose it.
It may mean fewer, but better posts, with more time in between. It may mean new features added on to the site that have been on the back burner for years. It’s going to mean more collaboration with all of you to tell us what we can help you with.
Are you a homeschooling mom? What are you looking for?
Are you a husband and father trying to find a way to network with other men of like mind? How can we connect you?
Are you a parish priest who needs resources for your parishioners? What can we make?
Are you a new Catholic — or just new to tradition — trying to figure out what you should read and where you should go? Tell us what you lack.
Whoever you are, whatever you need, help us help you. This should be more than just a place where you come for information. It should be a real community. The internet now makes possible the kind of networking and distribution of resources that just a generation ago were unimaginable. Let’s use them! We have hundreds of thousands of visitors here each month. How can we all help one another?
I’ll be candid: I’m terrified to open this door. I already feel overwhelmed, burned out, and emotionally drained to my absolute limits. But the way I see it, I can either give up and throw in the towel, or I can dig in and find a new way to do more, and better. At this time when our little publication has reached a surprisingly wide audience, how can we use our superpowers for good?
And while what I am asking for here is your input and suggestions — knowing full well I can’t implement them all — I will also remind you that we need your financial support. We hit our goal last month, thanks in large part to one anonymous donor. But it’s a new month, with new bills, and we’re not doing so hot on the latest campaign. Remember, every little bit helps. (And for those who keep asking: yes, you can donate by mail.)
It’s time to turn the corner. Everything in me is screaming that we had so much momentum in bringing the fight against the revolution that we’re overcommitted to that path. We’ve won some major battles. The tide of public opinion among orthodox Catholics has definitively turned.
But we can’t leave all these people blinking in the sunlight with nowhere to go. The question that is always asked of me is: “what do we do now?”
The answer, I suspect, is, “What we’ve always done. Live our faith, and by so doing, change the world.”
Please pray that I find the strength and guidance to chart out a new and better course. We’ve got to do a better job of helping people get to heaven. If we fail at that, the rest of this is just a waste of time.