Early Monday morning in Rome, an anonymous group of men entered the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, removed the wooden “Pachamama” idols, and ceremoniously threw them into the Tiber river. Catholics the world over rejoiced, much to the chagrin of various papal sycophants, liberals, and Vatican representative Paolo Ruffini, who called the act “A theft. An act of bravado. A gesture, in my opinion, against the special dialogue that should always animate everybody.”
In my most recent article, I argued that Catholics must be willing to push the Overton window farther toward the social reign of Christ the King rather than taking a purely defensive position against the evils of our age. The majority of people who read the piece seemed to agree, but not all were sure how this more aggressive stance would look in practice. Today, we have been given a wonderful example of what it looks like when Catholics go on the offensive for the sake of Christ.
In 1971, progressive community organizer Saul Alinsky wrote the famous Rules for Radicals, a playbook for subversive tactics that could be utilized to topple hierarchies and shift political power. Alinsky also codified his version of the repulsive “ends justify the means” ethic. Needless to say, there is much that Alinsky wrote that is totally incompatible with Catholicism! However, if we wish to work for the restoration of Holy Mother Church, we must be willing to use whichever just and licit means Providence makes available to us. Sometimes, that includes utilizing some of the morally neutral tactics of our enemies, for the correct end of promoting the Kingdom of Christ.
I humbly offer my own “rules for Catholic radicals,” in no particular order.
Rule #1: Know thyself. Know thy faith. Know thy goal.
As OnePeterFive contributor Professor Peter Kwasniewski once said, “conservatism is liberalism in slow motion.” Orthodox Catholics need to unite under the banner of true traditionalism, which seeks to restore the Church to tradition as such. We must reject “conservative Catholicism,” which seeks only to preserve individual traditions, when possible, in order to stem the tide of liberalism. We must all be able to answer the question (with as much unanimity as possible): “What would a restored Catholic Church look like?” and work toward that goal as individuals and as communities.
Rule #2: Ora et labora. Pray and work.
How convenient it must be for Satan to see so many Catholics extolling others to “just pray, let God take care of it, it’s not your place to do anything, trust the Holy Spirit”! Of course, we must pray. If we wish to work for Catholic restoration, our first step must always be to beg God for the grace to know what we should do and the strength to do it. However, trusting in God’s providence does not mean we should wait for brimstone to rain from the sky when we ourselves can take action.
Rule #3: Accept that Christ came not to bring peace, but a sword.
The relativism and indifferentism of our age have eroded our Catholic understanding to such an extent that we no longer understand the absolute necessity of taking a side. We do not believe in the yin and the yang, where both sides contain some good and some evil. There is God, and there is the devil. We must act in light of this black and white choice and humbly accept the accusations that we are “exclusive,” “dogmatic,” “simplistic,” and so forth.
Rule #4: Stop punching “right.”
The left-right dichotomy is not particularly helpful, especially in relation to the history of the Church, but the point still stands. If a fellow Catholic to the “right” of you is not going against the teachings of the Church, consider leaving him be. Let him destroy idols, get arrested for trespassing in abortion facilities, or attempt to halt a pro-sodomy parade with a giant rosary and crucifix in hand. If you have criticism to make in regard to the prudence of a certain action, it’s preferable to say something privately.
Rule #5: Stop using the language of the enemy in a way that benefits the enemy.
For example, anti-abortion Catholics are not “true feminists.” Saying that they are only emboldens the demonic feminist movement. The same often goes for terms such as “anti-Semite,” “racist,” and “sexist.” These terms have been defined explicitly by the enemies of the Church, or else the existing definitions have been mutilated by them to the point of meaninglessness.
Rule #6: Stop defending yourself against false and irrelevant allegations, and go on the offensive.
As in Rule #5, do not cede a false premise. It’s always a trap. When you’re hit with, for example, “Catholics are racist because Christopher Columbus!,” which response is more effective?
- A) “Actually, the Catholic Church is the least racist organization in the world. We have Saints of every race and ethnicity.”
- B) “Thank God that Catholic explorers discovered the Americas. The missionaries who followed them helped to put an end to the human sacrifice and general savage violence that was commonplace by converting native peoples to the Christian faith.”
Both are true but implicit in answer “A” is the de facto acceptance of the left’s absurd elevation of racism (“racism” as defined by the left) as one of the gravest sins plaguing the world today. Answer “B” puts the accuser on the defensive instead.
Rule #7: Don’t apologize to mobs. Ever.
When you cause offense and are tempted to apologize, ask yourself: “Would I apologize for this if no one was demanding that I do so?” If the answer is no, don’t apologize. The enemies of the Church are not seeking to forgive you. They’re seeking to force you to show weakness. Don’t fall for it.
Rule #8: Use the minority rule effect to our advantage.
For example, non-Muslims will eat halal food, for the most part, and Muslims will not eat non-halal food (the same goes for Jews and kosher food). In light of this fact, what we end up with is a society which caters more and more to a small minority, which exerts a disproportionate influence. There is no reason we can’t do the same thing as a small remnant of traditional Catholics, both within the Church and in the secular world.
Rule #9: Don’t be afraid to be a nuisance.
The progressives have transformed society to an astonishing degree largely by making it socially uncomfortable to oppose their goals. Why have we given up protests, letter-writing campaigns, petitions, and similar actions? These tactics work! If they didn’t, the enemies of God would not use them. Never underestimate the power of a dissident Facebook comment on a corporate woke-post. Most people do not want to be the first person to do or say something, but they’re happy to be the second, third, or fiftieth. Remember this.
Rule #10: Step out in front. The people power we need will follow.
The true radicals of Vatican II and the New Mass were a small minority of the total number of Catholics. However, within a couple of decades, they were able to sway the majority “in the middle” to their side, by a passive lack of resistance if nothing else. There is no reason we can’t lead these same people back to the fullness of the Catholic faith, by the grace of God. We can’t all be leaders, but we can all get behind solid Catholic leaders with material support and prayer support.
For the first time in a long time, as Pachamama sank to the bottom of the river Tiber, the Catholic faithful took a real win against the Modernists. Let us remember this moment of victory, and be stubborn in maintaining our motivation to fight for the Church, with all of the weapons near at hand.
Stefanie Nicholas is an unexpected Catholic convert from a (very lapsed) Greek Orthodox background. The history of the Crusades played a positive role in her faith journey, and she believes firmly that the Rosary will save the world. Readers can connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @StefMNicholas.