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The Church, The Crisis, and The Parable of the Bear

Everywhere we look, the signs are clear: the crisis in the Church is ubiquitous. If anything, things are continuing to escalate, and there’s no end in sight. I spend a good bit of time in the comment boxes here at 1P5, and I see the outrage, the frustration, and the sadness. I see the questions that people are asking. They want to know what’s going to happen. They want to know what to do next.

There’s a blogger who goes by the pseudonym of Mundabor. I’m not a fan of anonymous bloggers, and I won’t recommend everything he says. But Mundabor wrote something recently that gets right to the heart of the problem we face. The post is entitled, “The Church in The Times of Madness: Instructions for use.” He starts by laying out the scene: We’ve got a pope who goes around preaching heresy, and none of the bishops or cardinals have the courage to correct him. The former pope is 92, and isn’t long for this world. He isn’t going to fix anything. And when Francis eventually departs this life, the next conclave is going to be stacked with Cardinals that he has appointed, who will almost certainly elect another man in the same ideological vein.

This means, the blogger tells us, that we are in the soup for a long time to come. That we are “likely going to live and die in the Time of Madness.”

He then goes on to do something significantly more helpful than state the obvious. He lists some of the things we can do to survive these times, which he sums up quite succinctly as “being Catholic, no matter what.” He recommends practical things. Pray the rosary daily. Find a traditional Latin Mass. Read up on what happened in the 20th century that brought us to this point. Buy old catechisms and reference them. Learn the old devotions and disciplines of the Church and actually practice them. Memorize as much as possible about the teachings of our Faith.

And know that while you do these things to deepen your faith, the problems aren’t going to magically go away.

A few days ago, the Italian journalist and “vaticanista” Sandro Magister revealed the results of a seminary study that have recently come to light after first being published in 2017. The authors of the survey, who are both “specialists in social psychology” conducted detailed interviews with 50 seminarians at two seminaries in Brazil. And what they found is deeply troubling:

First of all, the interviewees say, homosexuality in their seminaries “is a common thing, a reality ever more present.” So normal “that it even reaches the point of being trivialized.” It is the widespread conviction among them “that in reality 90 percent of seminarians today are homosexual.”

Some homosexuals – they say – “seek the seminary as a means of escape so as not to take on before their families and society the responsibilities connected to their behavior.” Others “discover that they are homosexual when they are already in the seminary,” finding a favorable environment there. And almost all of them, some say 80 percent “go in search of sexual partners.”

Homosexuality, in fact – they state – “is a reality present in the seminaries not only in the order of being, but also in the order of practice.” Many practice it “as if it were something normal.” The authors of the survey write: “In the vision of the research participants, in the present context of the seminaries a good part of the seminarians are in favor of homosexuality. And, even more, they maintain that if there is love in a homosexual relationship, there is nothing wrong. They say: ‘’If there is love, what harm is there?’”

This survey was not conducted 30 years ago, but very recently. And it is an indicator of what we are up against. We hear time and again about dioceses that make a big show of taking a tough stance against child abusers but then turn a blind eye to active homosexual clergy. We don’t have to look to Rome for trouble. We see it at the local level. And it’s pretty much everywhere.

We are likely going to live and die in the Time of Madness.

This is why we need to do exactly what Mundabor says, and what Steve Skojec is once again trying to return a primary focus of this publication to doing: figuring out how to be Catholic, no matter what. We need positive “life support” of all sorts: theological, historical, and faith-cultural. We have to admit that there is no human light at the end of this tunnel. The best we can do is have faith that there is an end to the tunnel. In fact, it wouldn’t be faith if there were a lot of light. The truth is, this crisis probably has a good solid quarter century of air left in its lungs. This diabolical, modernist insanity is already dead on its feet, but it’s just too stubborn to know it yet.

Which reminds me of a true story.

Many years ago, I was bear hunting with my son and a friend, accompanied by my friend’s hounds.  The strike dog cut loose on a hot track, and we turned them loose. Off they went into the mountains. Some time later, we heard their baying shift from the sound of tracking to contact with the bear. You can tell a lot about what hunting dogs are doing by the sounds they make, and we could hear the telltale signs of skirmish and retreat. The bear would run, stop, fight, and then run again. Over and over. It would never stay put, and it would never tree. This went on for a couple hours. Finally we could hear the race getting closer as we scrambled up and down in the mountains trying to keep up with the action. And then, all of a sudden, we were in the thick of it. I saw the bear for a brief moment as it crossed an old overgrown skid trail. In that moment, I was able, from a kneeling position, to get a shot on it just as it it hesitated in the middle of the trail. Frankly, it was a bit of a long shot to take with a .44 Magnum revolver — about 40 yards — especially when breathing hard after a climb and a run. Even so, the shot was true, and the bear dropped.

Still catching our breath, we all sighed some relief as the dogs piled on. But then, to our surprise, the bear, which we thought was down for the count, launched itself off the ground, grabbed a dog, and dove over the bank down a steep slope, mauling the dog the whole way. I immediately went over the bank in pursuit, got to within about 15 feet, just in time for the thing to let go of the dog and take off. Another shot from my wheelgun took him in the hip and angled him forward as he ran away from me. At the shot, the bear turned, swatted at its rear end, saw me, and charged. It was close — about 10 yards or so — and I gave him another one, this time hitting him a little too far back to do much damage. At that moment, the dogs were on the bear again and a melee ensued: bear biting dogs, dogs biting bear, bear grabbing dogs, all of them growling and screaming. It was a real mess.

I ran up to the twirling, flashing scrum and placed the muzzle of my revolver right at the chest of the bear and fired. Later, my son said I was stroking the trigger so fast it sounded like a burst from a submachine gun. At the same time, my friend ran up, placed his rifle muzzle right against the bear’s head and then…nothing. He scooted away without firing a shot. (Later we found out it was a new gun for him, and in the chaos of the moment he forgot how to work the safety!) This left me with the bear at my ankles, still fighting.

To be honest, I couldn’t figure it out. My first shot had been a side lung shot, and through the whole fight, I kept expecting the beast to run out of steam and drop. But he didn’t, so I stuck my pistol into his chest again and pulled the trigger.

And that’s when I heard the loudest noise I’ve ever heard: “Click.”

I heard that same, awful sound several times over: “Click”…”Click”…”Click.” I suddenly realized that I’d miscounted my shots, and I was empty. The bear, on the other hand, was still up for a fight, angry, and right at my feet. I didn’t have any interest in leaving it there alive, but my body refused to move, so I did the only thing I could: I started to reload as fast as I was able. Fortunately, the dogs were buying me precious seconds as they mauled and got mauled in return.

All during the fight, my son, who was 14 years old at the time, had been right next to me. With the bear coming at me now, and seeing that my revolver wasn’t going to be back in action nearly soon enough, he decided it was high time to do something. In a flash, he dove over my left shoulder, and to this day I think that had his rifle been fitted with a bayonet would have staked that bear to the ground. Instead, just before contact, he touched off the round in the animal’s chest, and that, at long last, finished the whole affair. The bear, now bleeding from an assortment of wounds, relaxed at last, fell back, and did what it should have done long before that moment, and died.

Rod Halvorsen and the bear. “It was a small bear,” he says. “A lot of the mean ones are!”

The truth of my battle with that bear is that the very first shot was the fatal one. He was dead on his feet from the beginning, but his brain and his system still had enough oxygen and adrenaline left in them to go a few more rounds, and he was just too stubborn to quit.

How long did the fight take in total? My best guess is that it wasn’t more than two-and-a-half minutes. But just like anyone who has ever boxed can tell you just how long three minutes in the ring with a tough opponent can be, it’s a very long couple of minutes when you have poked a few holes in a mean bear and the thing just won’t quit! In short, a lot can happen after a bear is dead on its feet but hasn’t come to that realization yet. Bear don’t just quit. That means the hunter can’t either, especially after poking the bear! In fact, the worst thing the man can do is cut and run.

As I look at what’s going on in the Church today, I find myself thinking of this fight. The heretics that run the Church are like the bear. They have no idea that their ideas, plans, practices, and goals are dead on their feet, so they just keep going.

Right now, we are in the middle of the melee. Jesus fired the first shot — the only shot that really matters. It’s up to us now to just see this thing through. The evil one’s plan is also dead on its feet, but he is willing to fight until he can’t fight anymore. And he’s a ferocious adversary, which leads lots of folks to want to cut and run. Some will just give up the fight and join the other side. Others are so scandalized by the fact that our Catholic leadership isn’t Catholic anymore that they’ll decide they’re not going to be Catholic anymore either. But just like when faced with a mean, badly wounded bear, these are especially bad ideas. It’s tantamount to turning your back on the bear, which is something I’m not willing to do.

Somehow, through it all, we have to figure out how to stay on our feet, and we need to keep shooting, and we need to rely on others next to us to shoot, too. This isn’t the kind of fight you win alone.

Most of all, we need faith, and with the knowledge of what has already been accomplished and who wins in the end. We need to stick it out through thick and thin, keeping the understanding ever before us that eventually, whatever it is that keeps the modernists going will run out, and they are going to die off like their wretched sterile doctrines and practices guarantee they will.

We may have to content ourselves to play the long game. We will outlast the enemy. We may live and die in the Time of Madness, but Christ and His Church will triumph over all.

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