It’s difficult to know how to begin this letter to you. Perhaps you’re already cringing at my use of “divisive” Catholic qualifiers, lamenting the fact that I can’t just call us both “Catholics” and get on with what I have to say. I hate this categorical language. Yet I feel I have no choice but to use it, in the same way I have no choice but to unapologetically call myself a “Catholic Christian” instead of just a “Christian” because Protestantism has usurped the Church as the rightful steward of the meaning of Christianity.
We are both Catholics insofar as we both believe in the One True Faith. Catholicism cannot be divided, and it cannot teach two diametrically opposed views. Catholicism, as I often remind my Protestant friends, is not and can never be a denomination. But Catholics like you and me, the human element of the Church? We most certainly can fall into our own divisions regarding what we believe. This has been true from the earliest days of the Church. Even Holy Scripture speaks to this reality. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, prayed for our unity. That type of division is not new.
What is new, however, is what brought you here to read this letter. What led you to read One Peter Five in general. What led you to go full black pill at one in the morning on vacation reading about Paul VI’s fake nose…well, maybe that one was just me.
Steve Skojec calls this new, unprecedented thing in the Church “The Big Ugly.” I call it the Passion of the Church, the brutal crucifixion of the Bride of Christ. Whatever we call it, and whatever doctrinal differences remain between you and me, I trust we can agree on one thing: this situation in the Church is like nothing we have ever experienced before, and it is deeply terrifying, even with the promise that we will win in the end.
Historically, when the Body of Christ was being rent into pieces, it was virtually always because of various individuals or groups opposing the one mind of the Church. Make no mistake: this sin is horrific enough. It wounds Our Blessed Lord on the cross. It blinds those in error and scandalizes those orthodox Catholics who witness it.
Today, there’s a harder truth to swallow: the mind of the Church (in her human element), from Pope Francis down to the majority of bishops, priests, and laity, is beset with the diabolical disorientation that Sister Lucia of Fatima warned Paul VI about.
So much has been written on the topic of What Went Wrong in the Church that I am not sure what else I can add in this brief letter that has not already been said. If you’re reading this, I hope and pray that you’ve been giving an honest ear to those crazy radical traditionalists you may have dismissed your whole life. I hope you’ve been thinking about the criticisms of the Second Vatican Council. I hope you’ve read about Pope St. Pius X’s brilliant encyclical against modernism. I hope you’ve been researching the changes to the Mass with the creation of the Novus Ordo.
I hope above all that you’ve been praying the Rosary every day and pondering the beautiful promises that Our Blessed Mother has given us all in return, particularly the promise that the Rosary “shall be a powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.”
If a person truly wants to learn the full truth of the Catholic faith, the “traditional” Catholic faith that has remained a safe harbor for souls for 1,900 years, the information is out there. The spiritual aids are out there, too, most of them available even for those of us who still currently attend Novus Ordo parishes by necessity (me) or by choice (maybe you).
What I want you to know is simply this: you will have to choose a side. There will come a time, and I feel that time is close at hand, where the middle ground will be ripped out from beneath your feet. Where there will be an end to Catholic qualifier language, by necessity, and in a most painful way. Where I will not be able to call us both Catholics even in a broad sense. Where every one of us will be either a son of the Church or a son of the Anti-Church.
I don’t know how this will come to pass, but I have no doubt that it will. I don’t enjoy this reality any more than you do. I don’t like having to affirm that, yes, we traditional Catholics are in fact “more Catholic than the pope” by all available evidence.
We know we are to be as gentle as doves. But equally we must always remember to be as wise as vipers.
The time for appeasing the dragon was over before it began. It’s never too late to put your foot down, take up your cross, and decide to come all the way to the Catholicism that has existed from the very beginning. To be unapologetic in standing for the whole truth, even the parts that the majority of the Church Militant has ignored for half a century or longer. It’s what we are commanded to do, and though the task is not easy, we can count on the grace of God to give us every strength we need to do His will.
“The truth will set you free” is not a mere talking point. The feeling of liberation in knowing that for the first time in my sinful life, I am resting in truth is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I want that for every Catholic, every one of us who has been adopted in baptism to be children of God. It is our birthright, and we need to fight for it with everything we have.
If not for ourselves, we must find the will to fight for our children. I have a three-year-old son. He wasn’t baptized until he was two due to my ignorance and sin. The Lord, in His incredible mercy, protected this little creature He gave me to care for, watching over him until that glorious Easter Vigil when he was finally brought to the safe waters of baptism. The fight isn’t over for his soul, but I will do whatever it takes to help him get to Heaven.
I do not know if you will come over to our side, the side of tradition. Maybe you’re still thinking things through, still questioning everything, still trying to find a way to make a “hermeneutic of continuity” work. But I hope you will consider undertaking this decision with the same level of holy fear that I had when I realized the gravity of the fact that my child was not baptized. Your soul and the souls of your children depend on following Christ in His Church, in her true and perennial teachings, in the fullness of her sacraments, in the beauty of her devotions and sacramentals.
Dear traditionalist sympathizer, be assured of my prayers. Be assured of my love for your soul, as it is precious beyond measure. Be assured that even if you have blown us off until the late hour, I will welcome you with joy, as will many, many like-minded Catholics. Do not be deceived. Do not despair – the first pope, after all, abandoned Christ on the very day He was crucified. If it wasn’t too late for Saint Peter, it isn’t too late for any of us. By the mercy of God, we’re still breathing, and as long as we’re breathing, we have the chance to choose what is right.
Pray the Rosary, cling to the Blessed Mother, and make your choice. We may not have much time.
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.