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What We’re Fighting For: Rediscovering Catholicism’s “Why”

Image: Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, trapped in ice. (1915)

What is Catholicism’s “Why”?

On my morning walk today, I was listening to an audiobook called Start With Why, by Simon Sinek. The book’s fundamental premise is that what you do in any given project or organization do is far less important than why  you do it. Your why is your fundamental belief, the idea and understanding that shapes and forms and inspires your action. In business, Sinek argues that the most successful companies have a strong why, and that this attracts like-minded believers. People don’t, to use one of his examples, buy Apple computers because they’re necessarily better in any way than their competitor’s products, but rather because Apple means something to them. Something about them. People who buy Apple products love showing them off. It says something about who they are. As Sinek puts it, the typical brand message for a computer company would be

We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Wanna buy one?

But Apple’s is

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?

An Apple product isn’t just a computer, or a phone, or an MP3 player, it’s an ethos.

So what does this have to do with Catholicism?

Well, Catholicism is certainly far more than just a company, or a brand, or an organization. But it shares attributes with all of those things. It has a unique identity. It has distinguishable characteristics. It has a mission. It has a very clearwhy. If I were to write it up briefly, like the example above, I might say:

We exist because Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, became incarnate of the Virgin Mary to die for our sins, to conquer death, and to establish a means of salvation in this world so that we can know God, love Him, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next.

We believe that God loves every person, and actively wills and desires that they become saints. We believe that He has entrusted us with the mission of bringing those souls to Him, which is why every cathedral we build, every artwork we commission, every piece of sacred music we compose for the Mass, every theological exposition we write, every liturgy we offer, and every sacrament we dispense all have no other purpose than this: to cause men to reflect upon the majesty of Our Creator and to inspire them to live the kinds of lives that will allow them to be with Him in Heaven. We will not rest until we have brought the Good News to every corner of the world, because we know that outside of this institution established by and united with Him, no man can be saved.

Want to join us?

We could probably tweak it a bit, but as a working draft, I think it covers the bases. And I would propose to you that all the problems we’re facing now with the Church — every. single. one. — can all be traced back to the abandonment of that why. Whether it’s due to fear, embarrassment, disagreement, a sense of futility, or outright contempt for the beliefs expressed above, the “executives” of our “company” no longer believe in what they’re selling, and they have consequently lost the ability to inspire others to join them.

On the other hand, if you’ll allow me to continue with the business metaphor, there are a core group of “employees” and even a couple folks in the “C-Suite” who have never lost their passion for the why of Catholicism. They live it. They breathe it. They love it. And they know that the only way to get back on top is for every member of the organization to embrace it again, and to share their passion for it with the world.

That, my friends, is us. You. Me. The four dubia cardinals. The loud but lonely voices in the Catholic media and blogs crying out against what is happening in the Church. The 45 theologians. The countless priests who are fighting every day in the trenches of the confessional and the pulpit to hold the line on what we believe and why we must honor it. The families having children and offering them to God to become priests and nuns. The spouses caught up in divorce against their will who nevertheless honor their vows and the 6th Commandment and offer up their struggles and their suffering to Our Lord, no matter who tells them they don’t have to.

We are vastly outnumbered, but we have something they don’t: we believe in what we’re doing with the kind of passion that is only possible when we know it has been ordained from on high. We already have the assurance of victory. We just have to keep duking it out until we get there.

Which brings me to my next point.


Nobody Plays to Lose

I’ll refer back to Sinek again:

In college I had a roommate named Howard Jeruchimowitz. Now an attorney in Chicago, Howard learned from an early age about a very simple human desire. Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, he played outfield on the worst team in the Little League. They lost nearly every game they played—and not by small margins either; they were regularly annihilated. Their coach was a good man and wanted to instill a positive attitude in the young athletes. After one of their more embarrassing losses, the coach pulled the team together and reminded them, “It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, what matters is how you play the game.” It was at this point that young Howard raised his hand and asked, “Then why do we keep score?”

Howard understood from a very young age the very human desire to win. No one likes to lose, and most healthy people live their life to win.

How often have you felt this way?

When you read that the dubia Cardinals are practically begging for scraps from the papal table, when you see them renew, in writing, their “absolute dedication and our unconditional love for the Chair of Peter and for Your august person, in whom we recognize the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Jesus” when he won’t even give them the time of day, when people admonish you for being too critical about what’s going on without acknowledging that what’s going on is the problem and you are just pointing it out, doesn’t it sometimes feel like you’re being told that the only thing that matters is how we play the game?

Unlike in business or in sports, of course, Catholicism admonishes us in ways that can seem at cross-purposes with our competitive nature. “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” Or how about, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Litany of Humility, which I’ve written about before, strikes at our pride like a series of hammer blows. Line after line as we pray this prayer, we become aware of a creeping sense of doubt: “Do I really mean this? Do I really want to lose the desire to be esteemed and loved? Do I really want others to be preferred over me? Do I really want others to become holier than me??” It can be tempting, as we contemplate these challenges to our egos, to think far more fondly of a famous quote from former NBA star Charles Barkley: “The meek may inherit the earth, but they won’t get the ball from me.”

It is in our nature to fight. To strive. To win. What the spiritual life does, as we seek to embrace humility, is to strip away the impediments that keep us from victory. Unlike earning a promotion, winning a chess tournament, or bringing home a Super Bowl ring, salvation isn’t something we can simply work toward until we achieve it. We can’t train for it like a marathon. We can’t get a degree that unlocks the gate of heaven. There is no process of self-actualization, no amount of blood, sweat, or tears that will get us there. The only way to heaven is via the cross, and by God’s grace. We have to do our part, but we literally cannot do it without Him. The winning attitude of a spiritual champion, therefore, is, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

This doesn’t mean we need to stomp out the flames of competition in our hearts. We just need to re-think how ambition works. Ephesians 6:12 tells us of a visceral combat, not some languid surrender as we’re carried along on a divine current. “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” And what are the rules of engagement for this wrestling? A more comprehensive reading of Ephesians 6 (10-20) paints a clearer picture:

Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God). By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints: And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel. For which I am an ambassador in a chain, so that therein I may be bold to speak according as I ought.

This is a real battleAnd battles are fought to be won.


Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey

In the 6th chapter of his book, Sinek tells the story of Ernest Shackleton, the early twentieth century English explorer who set out to traverse Antarctica. Shackleton knew that it would be a treacherous adventure, covering 1,700 miles across the southernmost tip of the world. His journey, however, went further awry than he anticipated:

On December 5, 1914, Shackleton and a crew of twenty-seven men set out for the Weddell Sea on the Endurance, a 350-ton ship that had been constructed with funds from private donors, the British government and the Royal Geographical Society. By then, World War I was raging in Europe, and money was growing more scarce. Donations from English schoolchildren paid for the dog teams.

But the crew of the Endurance would never reach the continent of Antarctica.

Just a few days out of South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic, the ship encountered mile after mile of pack ice, and was soon trapped as winter moved in early and with fury. Ice closed in around the ship “like an almond in a piece of toffee,” a crew member wrote. Shackleton and his crew were stranded in the Antarctic for ten months as the Endurance drifted slowly north, until the pressure of the ice floes finally crushed the ship. On November 21, 1915, the crew watched as she sank in the frigid waters of the Weddell Sea.

Stranded on the ice, the crew of the Endurance boarded their three lifeboats and landed on tiny Elephant Island. There Shackleton left behind all but five of his men and embarked on a hazardous journey across 800 miles of rough seas to find help. Which, eventually, they did.

What makes the story of the Endurance so remarkable, however, is not the expedition, it’s that throughout the whole ordeal no one died. There were no stories of people eating others and no mutiny. This was not luck. This was because Shackleton hired good fits. He found the right men for the job.

And how did Shackleton find those men? With an advertisement in the London Times. Unlike typical jobs ads that outline required skills and experience, Shackleton knew what kind of men he needed to find, and spoke to their inner fire.

“Men wanted for Hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

“The only people who applied for the job,” Sinek writes, “were those who read the ad and thought it sounded great. They loved insurmountable odds. The only people who applied for the job were survivors. Shackleton hired only people who believed what he believed.”


Surviving Insurmountable Odds

If you’re here, and you’re reading this, it’s because like Shackleton’s men, you’re a survivor. You are not on this journey, as the Barque of Peter drifts dangerously close to the shoals, weathers tempests, or finds itself moored in ice, because you are blind to the dangers. You do not sit in your cabin enjoying delusions that you are experiencing smooth sailing under sunny skies. You are not running to the deck rail, ready to throw yourself overboard because you cannot bear the thought that your captain, whom you trusted, has led you into dangerous waters.

You know that the odds are insurmountable, but you believe in the voyage. And because you believe, you’ll find a way through.

God didn’t place an ad in a newspaper or on Craigslist to find you. He did, however, give you life at this incredible moment of history. He called you to the Catholic Faith. He instilled in you an instinct for truth, and an ability to discern it from more popular and comforting fictions. He reached out and chose men and women who had eyes to see, and He opened them. And you answered His call, no matter the risk, because you believe.

Though Sinek doesn’t mention it, Ernest Shackleton never completed his quest. After returning home from the failed 1914 expedition, he tried again in 1921, only to die of a heart attack en route.

Some of us, too, may not live to see the Church restored. In fact, it’s possible that none of us will. Does that mean that we should give up, go home, and find some nice, peaceful, and far less stress-inducing way to spend our days? Could any of us even do that if we wanted to? Could we live with ourselves? Would it be possible for you to return to an anodyne existence, blithely ignoring what may well be the most important battle in history? A battle for the very heart of the Church, and the souls she exists to save?

There is no human reason to believe that we will prevail. But this is no merely human institution we are fighting for.


We’re Building a Cathedral

I’ll borrow one last anecdote from Sinek’s book:

Consider the story of two stonemasons. You walk up to the first stonemason and ask, “Do you like your job?” He looks up at you and replies, “I’ve been building this wall for as long as I can remember. The work is monotonous. I work in the scorching hot sun all day. The stones are heavy and lifting them day after day can be backbreaking. I’m not even sure if this project will be completed in my lifetime. But it’s a job. It pays the bills.” You thank him for his time and walk on.

About thirty feet away, you walk up to a second stonemason. You ask him the same question, “Do you like your job?” He looks up and replies, “I love my job. I’m building a cathedral. Sure, I’ve been working on this wall for as long as I can remember, and yes, the work is sometimes monotonous. I work in the scorching hot sun all day. The stones are heavy and lifting them day after day can be backbreaking. I’m not even sure if this project will be completed in my lifetime. But I’m building a cathedral.”

WHAT these two stonemasons are doing is exactly the same; the difference is, one has a sense of purpose. He feels like he belongs. He comes to work to be a part of something bigger than the job he’s doing. Simply having a sense of WHY changes his entire view of his job. It makes him more productive and certainly more loyal. Whereas the first stonemason would probably take another job for more pay, the inspired stonemason works longer hours and would probably turn down an easier, higher-paying job to stay and be a part of the higher cause. The second stonemason does not see himself as any more or less important than the guy making the stained glass windows or even the architect. They are all working together to build the cathedral. It is this bond that creates camaraderie. And that camaraderie and trust is what brings success. People working together for a common cause. [emphasis added]

I will freely admit to you that many days, I am the first stonemason. My version goes something like this: “I’ve been fighting this fight for as long as I can remember. The work is monotonous and things never get better. I read awful stories all day and have to find the energy to write about what’s happening when I’d rather be doing almost anything else. People attack me all the time just for trying to do the right thing. Or they come to me and tell me that they’re thinking of leaving the Church, or want to know what they should do now that things have gotten really bad, and I don’t know what to tell them because I don’t even know what should be doing. I keep thinking that something has to give, but maybe it doesn’t. Maybe God is going to just drag this out for the rest of my life and I’ll never see things get better. The darkness of it all is overwhelming at times. But I’ve thrown my entire life into this work. It’s how I pay the bills and feed my family. I’m not sure what else to do at this point.”

But it is critical to remember that what we are doing, all of us, is building a cathedral. And that means something. When the history of our age is written, people will look back and see that there were those who stood fast. Who did the work, day by day, of documenting and opposing the activities of the enemies who have invaded His Mystical Body like a cancer. Who continued to teach the true faith. Who retained their love of God and his Church and the countless souls being led astray, and who, despite the weight of their temptations to despair and their own innumerable sins, pressed on.

Your prayers, your sacrifices, your Masses, your rosaries, your efforts wherever you go to live the faith and to “be bold to speak according as you ought” — these are the stones of the cathedral that is being built. These are the work of restoration, and it will be realized some day, even if the project is not completed in your lifetime.


The Joy of Not Being in Charge

When it comes right down to it, there’s only so much you and I can do. We cannot fix what is broken in our beloved faith. We do not have the power or the means. In fact, I would venture to say that at this point, as I’ve said before, there is most likely no human solution.

But God is not constrained to human means. It is His faith, His Church, His bride. He has allowed her to endure great torment, to share in His passion, but He will not leave her to perish under the blows of her enemies. He has promised us that the gates of hell will not prevail, and though it may appear that she has died, He will raise her up again, just as He himself did on that first, glorious Easter.

If you’re anything like me, it’s easy for you to forget that you’re not in charge, and that it isn’t up to you. But you’re not, and it isn’t, so be at peace, for He has already told us how we should proceed:

Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be. – John 14:1-3

113 thoughts on “What We’re Fighting For: Rediscovering Catholicism’s “Why””

  1. “…as I’ve said before, there is most likely no human solution.”

    I believe that our enemies in institutions across the globe will in fact miraculously snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the span of a moment. I can’t wait to see it, to both weep tears of joy, and to marvel at the sudden and final turnaround due to a heavenly invention. In the meantime, no prelate will save us, but at the same time I wish they made a lot more ruckus. When it’s all over, will they say “I’m sooooo glad I kept quiet”? I think not.

    • The saints never stopped fighting for Christ Jesus even though they knew there was never a mere human solution to moral evil.

      As St. Paul said: I planted. Apollos watered. But it is the Lord Who gives the growth.

      We must keep fighting, as God wants us to, but we must rely wholly on Christ’s Power and Mercy to effect the change.

    • We have to have discernment regarding the battle. There are times when we must fight, and times we must flee. We need to be careful that we don’t allow ourselves to “Go down with the ship” if the ship is sinking into hell. A misguided sense of loyalty to something objectively and gravely displeasing to God is not obedience, and it is not virtuous. It is blind and ignorant. We have to be careful. We have to watch out for heretical bishops and not tolerate them. We have to sever communion with them, because that is what the saints and the fathers and the canons tell us to do. We don’t have the right to say, “The bad shepherd will pay the price because he led us astray!”

      No, God will not accept that from us. Consider what was written in the early Church in the Apostolic Constitutions:

      “Hear, O you bishops; and hear, O you of the laity, how God speaks: I will judge between ram and ram, and between sheep and sheep. And He says to the shepherds: You shall be judged for your unskilfulness, and for destroying the sheep.

      That is, I will judge between one bishop and another, and between one lay person and another, and between one ruler and another (for these sheep and these rams are not irrational, but rational creatures): lest at any time a lay person should say, I am a sheep and not a shepherd, and I am not concerned for myself; let the shepherd look to that, for he alone will be required to give an account for me. For as that sheep that will not follow its good shepherd is exposed to the wolves, to its destruction; so that which follows a bad shepherd is also exposed to unavoidable death, since his shepherd will devour him. Wherefore care must be had to avoid destructive shepherds.”

      + Apostolic Constitutions II.XIX

      That’s serious, and it has serious consequences. If you believe you have heretical bishop, you have to:

      1. Not attend any mass in his diocese. For communion is not just reception of the body of Christ, but spiritual unity with its members. And we cannot have spiritual unity with heretical bishops.

      2. Not attend the mass of anyone who shares his mindset.

      It’s hard but true.

      • Bravo! I almost left the Catholic church 17 yrs ago but divine providence led me to the traditional latin mass which I attend exclusively through the Society of Pius the X and Society of Pius the V. It is like a little piece of heaven on earth! There are also wonderful independent priests that offer the latin mass too.

        • I would not attend a Independent unless absolutely necessary (like no possible TLM offered by diocese or SSPX).. I won’t of course attend a Novos Ordo so were no TLM available anywhere, then I would attend an independent.

      • Ad 1. Can you participate in any Mass whatsoever? It seems all catholic bishops have spiritual communion with the pope. I don’t think you can make such a statement. If the Mass is valid you can attend, imho, as long as a bishop is not formally excommunicated because of his errors, it’s still Christ presenting Himself to you in the Mass, even if your Bishop seems to be a heretic, or a public sinner. As long as there’s no cannonical recognition and he doesn’t incorporate any of those ideas of his in the Missal, I think.

        • And what happens when the homily is from the very pit of hell and the Eucharist is bread from heaven? Light and Darkness. Good and Evil. Holy and Profane. All in the same mass.

          As a living example: The gospel reading was about the Woman at the Well. In the homily, the priest compared Jesus’ knowing of the Samaritan woman’s history (she had five husbands and the man she was with was not her husband) to the practice of psychic readings, channeling, and magic. Evil/ sin was normalized, approved and compared to something holy. Never once did the priest say that occult and magic were grave matters and sins against the 1st Commandment. But everything else during the mass was proper.

          It seems that as long as the consecration of the host is valid, then nothing else that happens during the mass matters. Really?

          Can a copy of the Koran be placed on the altar in honor of Muslim cleric who is visiting and attending mass? How about a statue of a Hindu god or goddess on the altar in honor of a Hindu priestess who is visiting and attending mass? Or what about a picture of Martin Luther placed on the wall in the sanctuary in honor of 499th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation?

          If sin is solicited by the priest during the homily, is the mass still valid? What if the deacon gives a homily that entirely misrepresents the gospel (180 degrees wrong), is the mass still valid? Are these legitimate reasons to not attend mass? No, it isn’t excommunication. No, it isn’t leavened bread used as the host. No, it isn’t the priest having an affair with the church secretary or molesting an altar boy.

          So is it all good as long as the Eucharist was properly consecrated? Form, matter and intention — check, check, check — valid mass.

          • Form, matter, and intention along with a validly ordained priest and novus ordo indeed IS valid however it can never be licit. Quo Primum is the law of the land and can’t change.

            Buddha or koran involved in any way would probably zap it down in the intention category, what intention would a priest have who allowed such a thing? Not a good one, which brings to mind the Asissi event.

          • I am about to go to a “Spanish speaking mass” as my weekly obligation. It isn’t a matter of TLM on every corner — try a three hour drive. I do not speak Spanish. I would not understand what is being said, except for knowing the order of the mass, and what should happen when. The advantage of “all Spanish including the homily” is there is no chance of being scandalized by blasphemy and heresy. (The priest could say anything and I would smile and nod.) I would received the Eucharist and I would leave with my faith intact.

          • It does matter! It’s so, so sad! But what you can do about all those things? Tell the priest that he’s wrong? Yes, tell him! We are and should act like prophets. Keep telling every time! Not to nod nor smile, rather shed tears – but it’s still Our Lord in the hands of those poor priests – unloved, not respected, humiliated, mocked, unappreciated, unbelieved… Why would you leave Him alone?

          • I would smile and nod because I would have no idea what the priest was saying in Spanish.

            As for shedding tears: I have shed buckets.

            At one mass, the deacon gave a homily that was 180 degree opposite of what the scripture (and Catholic teaching) says.

            He even made a joke about it — the entire congregation including the priest were in stitches of laughter.

            I wasn’t laughing. I was horrified. I did not know what to do, so I made an appointment with a priest at another parish.

            It was someone I trusted. I explained what had happened and I asked him, “Was that the gospel?” He said, “No.”

            I told him I wanted to confront the deacon on the homily. He told me I must not do that — “don’t be so hard on the man”.

            Then he told me that the homily was the “least holy” part of the mass and “bad homilies” were par for the course.

            The priest whom I trusted/ respected became someone I no longer trusted/ respected. But I heeded his direction.

            In hindsight, I concluded I was given bad counsel; I should have confronted the deacon in spite of the priest’s advice.

          • “So is it all good as long as the Eucharist was properly consecrated?” No, far from it! Attending Mass on Sundays is mandatory for Catholics but only when it is orthodox and there is no impediment such as distance.

            Consider what St Vincent of Lerins had to say. “What should the Catholic Christian therefore do if some part of the Church arrives at the point of detaching itself from the universal communion and the universal faith? What else can he do but prefer the general body which is healthy to the gangrenous and corrupted limb? And if some new contagion strives to poison, not just a small part of the Church but the whole Church at once, then again his great concern will be to attach himself to Antiquity which obviously cannot anymore be seduced by any deceptive novelty” (Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Abp M Lefebvre, pp 130-131).

            How is one to deal with these modernists? ─ like St John. St Polycarp related that when St John saw the heretic Cerinthus at the public bathhouse he fled yelling: “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is inside.”

            In my case there was no yelling. I simply told the priest that he was a heretic, and told him that Abp Fulton Sheen warned that all of these modernists fell into heresy when they ceased to believe in the Real Presence. The Abp even said that they always remember that dreadful date so I asked him when his date of disbelief fell. Silence …..

            I immediately stopped going to the NO as the only available Masses were celebrated by manifest modernists. I recalled that ‘modernism is the synthesis of all heresies’ and doubted that they had the ‘intention to do what the Church does’ as they believed in little else that we believe. Wrecking the Church, communion rails to the tip, saints’ pictures thrown out, outrageous sermons, no
            confession and/or bad advice and one penance I recall: “go and waste some time with God.” These were not encouraging signs. And I feared the effect this would have on my children.

            So for seven years we read the TLM at home and made an act of Spiritual Communion. This plus family Rosary, Angelus thrice daily, spiritual reading and home schooling resulted in my family keeping the traditional Catholic Faith.

            When I learned of the SSPX I made contact with their district superior and an SSPX priest drove monthly 650 km (1300 round trip) to our home for the Nine First Fridays. Through him I learned the truths of the NO. Providentially, my circumstances changed and I was able to relocate closer to a SSPX Chapel.

            The SSPX advises against attending the NO as, whilst it may be valid per se, it is illicit. It is not pleasing to God. Again, doubtful priests confer doubtful sacraments and it is reasonable to suppose that many of today’s NO priests lack the intention to confect the Sacrament. There is the serious problem of having one’s Faith adversely affected by both the NO Mass and its Last Supper or meal focus rather than the unbloody Sacrifice of Calvary. Then there are the dreadful sermons, at best lacking anything substantially spiritual, and ‘reconciliation’ or re-education.

            Susan, may I suggest that you visit and look at their Mass locator, their FAQs
            (to understand our obligations) and note that you can always send them a Mass stipend for whatever intentions you wish. (($20 is the norm).

            With an assurance of prayers.

    • Fr Benjamin Sanchez relates in ‘The Last Times’ how the triumph of the Immaculate Heart was made known to the stigmatic Marthe Robin by Our Lord:

      ‘I play with the plans of men. My right hand prepares miracles and My Name shall be glorified in all the world. I shall be pleased to break the pride of the wicked much more when the world will be most hostile to all that is supernatural. And much more admirable and extraordinary will be the event that will come out of the encounters.’

      ‘In the place of the throne of the Beast, two glorious thrones will arise, one of My Sacred Heart and the other of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’

      ‘Then it will be understood that neither human power. nor demons, nor the genius of industry will end the war …. it will end only when reparation has been consummated.’

      ‘Be courageous for the Kingdom of God is near. It will begin with something that will come so suddenly as to be unexpected.’

  2. Edify. You edify, in both the sense of providing understanding and knowledge to others, but in the root meaning of the word: to build, as in … a cathedral. Stone by stone, article by article, you build up God’s Kingdom on earth by navigating those who seek the Truth away from error and toward Him.

  3. Excellent article Steve and you are so right. We are not in charge – God is – and it takes a significant effort of will to relax your will into His and learn to trust in Him no matter how bad things may appear.

    Nothing that the apostate Pope Francis attempts to put into place is irreversible, for nothing that finite man builds lasts for very long. Only that which God utters from His Mouth is eternal. The freewill of men is only granted to each for a very short time – and after that he is judged.

    Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will remain forever.”

    • Actually Bergoglio is not an apostate but a heretic. Ann Barnhart explains the difference in her podcast #009.
      A heretic denies certain truths of the Faith but remains in the Church and an apostate rejects Catholicism entirely and does not remain in the Church.

      • Thanks for your reply – point taken. At the end of the day, utilizing whichever terminology that may apply, the ‘Francis Effect’ is still the same. It’s a cancer planted within the Church which rejects the sanctifying Grace of The Holy Spirit and instead attempts to substitute it with the finite reasoning of fallen men.

        Whoever goes to the grave accepting the critical need for the Grace of God to overcome one’s personal inclination to sin has a far greater chance at salvation than one who rejects that Grace – and instead puts his faith in fallen men.

        • Ann Barnhardt also makes a point about the prophecy that the apostasy will begin at the top ….which may indicate that we can look forward to an apostate pope. Bergoglio has stacked the deck with cardinals to his liking.
          We could actually get a worse pope.
          This, of course , does not change our faith in the one true Catholic Faith nor in Divne Providence.

  4. Very encouraging.

    Tolkien would be proud; that master of this very same (and very Catholic) theme of warring against unfathomable odds. For those united to Christ, we bear a hidden joy, a secret fire…

    One often sees this theme in the character of Gandalf in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. “The Enemy is strong beyond our reckoning,” the old wizard recalls: “Yet we have a hope at which he has not guessed.” Elsewhere, Pippin catches a glimpse of this profound secret: “In the wizard’s face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth.”

    One recalls Jesus’ assurance: “In the world, you will have trouble. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)

    Amen. Further!

  5. “He has promised us that the gates of hell will not prevail”
    -True. But the good Lord works through us, his people. He never said “stay home, I got this”.
    -Good article. Thank you.

    • Reading The Parable of the Talents earlier today (Matthew 25:14-30), i was reminded that we should not be like the 3rd servant who hid his master’s money (symbolising God’s gifts), playing it safe and lazily waited on his master’s return, the two other servants took risks and put their master’s money(gifts) to work (doing what God demands for the benefit of His Kingdom) and in the end attained salvation.

  6. I’ve enjoyed Sinek’s TedTalks and YouTubes, especially the WHY and Leaders Eat Last. Your connections are very thought-provoking. I know it’s true that while we can strive to be God’s hand …wanting action…it seems to always be the case with our faith that things happen slowly. Ora et labora, prayer comes first. Thank you for this article.

  7. So…”there is nothing we can do.” This is a great recruiting slogan! Inspired by Shackleton? Sarc. Margaret.

    • There is no need to inform Margaret that you post is sarcasm: that isn’t sarcasm it’s being snide (whether you intended to be or not.)

        • Intentionally being snide to your sister in Christ because she disagrees with you on the use of sarcasm probably is a sin, I would have to know more of your motive to say for sure. At the very least it is being petty and that is never something to aspire after.

        • I stated that they were being snide with their remark and yes it’s Christian to fraternally correct your fellow human being and especially a brother or sister in Christ.

  8. Thank you, Steve. You hit so many points. I need to go back and reread it meditatively. Good lector to begin my day.

  9. Another fine reflection Steve.
    Perhaps we should all be like Dostoyevsky’s Idiot.
    In this mad dystopian world where indeed the smoke of Satan has entered parts of the Church, only the simple idiot is the sane one who believes Beauty (Christ) will save the world ( His Church).
    And can we each adopt a form of ‘Benedict Option’ ?
    For this idiot it’s trying to give faithful attention to God’s will,in prayer and work and in involvement in Church worship and community.
    All will be resolved in what shape or form we know not, but all in God’s time.
    We are not totally powerless.
    Not even the Idiot.

  10. ”all the problems we’re facing now with the Church — every. single. one. — can all be traced back to the abandonment of that why.”
    And the abandonment of Beauty and the sense of the Sacred. Did this malaise commence at the time of the Vatican 2, just before and after?
    The disfigured Church we have today with its rampant heterodoxy in high and not so high places would appear to have resulted from what was thrown overboard from the Barque and from novelties that have been shipped in throughout the last decades.
    Those not so beautiful modernist churches and impoverished liturgy and music have failed us.
    I am old enough to remember the before and after of Vatican 2 in the Church. What we have today pales in comparison.
    The smaller more faithful Church Pope Benedict espoused must rediscover the beautiful and the sacred. And become more meaningful to the committed.

    • I suspect this malaise began to set in probably very early in the 20th century. Pope St. Pius X saw it, tried to combat it, and had some success. But in the aftermath of 2 World Wars the hierarchy lost sight of the eternal and looked at the temporal. Just as St. Peter walked on water to go to Jesus, but when he looked away, he began to sink, so too did the Church, when she looked at where her feet were landing, she feared and began to sink. But just as Our Lord saved Peter then from drowning, so shall He save His Church. The fact that it was Peter in this story is rather significant.

  11. “Men wanted for Hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

    lol Love this!

  12. Your scary title “Rediscovering Catholicism…” reminded me of that horrifyingly bad Dynamic Catholic organization Matthew Kelly runs. His book, Rediscover Catholicism (first titled Rediscovering Catholicism) was OK, but that organization is pure garbage. Cotton candy is nice to draw people in. It’s bright, colorful, fun, and it certainly has its place. Groups like Matthew Kelly’s organization, however, behave as if the cotton candy is the main attraction. It doesn’t last. It doesn’t satisfy.

    • Someone gets it. Cotton Candy. Bright. Fun. Colorful. That is Dynamic Catholic. It is the Catholic version of a number of popular Protestant books and organizations. The goal: they make merchandise out of you. And earn a decent living along the way. When the sugar high wears off, one is left even hungrier than before.

  13. This article needs to be read and re-read (several times) in order for its message to get through our distracted skulls. Well done Steve! Let’s not ever give up on Our Lord Jesus Christ or on His Church, for has He ever given up on us? Let’s never give Him a reason to. So fight, fight and fight we must. Victory might belong to others, our children or grandchildren. It’s our lot to be in the trenches, with the apostate whizz-bangs, the heretical 5.9″s and sodomitical shrapnel coming over, and what an honour it is!

    I have been asking” why?” (again) this morning about the restaurant opposite my apartment building here in China where I am working at the moment. Every morning, all the staff troop out onto the pavement, a loud Chinese pop song or two is played, and they all do a disco dance for ten minutes or so before they all disappear back inside. Is this Chinese marketing? Is this Japanese-style team building? I think we should be told.

    • Definitely agree with you there old boy – I’ve copied Steve’s article and am sending it to everyone I know – it’s a little gem to be sure. I hope all is well and am continuing to pray for your dearly departed Mum. Take Care and God Bless!

        • Spitfire MkXIV (Rolls Royce Griffon 65 powered – introduced in 1943): Top Speed 448 mph in level flight at 26,000 feet. As well as restored Merlin powered examples in top flying condition, we have at present one Griffon powered Spitfire here in NZ.

          • Too right. Often referred to as the ‘Twelve Piece Symphony’ – the best sounding RR Merlins being the two-speed two-stage blown 61, 63 and 66 models as fitted to the Spit MkIX (introduced in late 1942) – realizing 410 mph at 23,000 feet (up from the old Spit Vb’s 370 mph).

            BTW the international restored aircraft community are not happy with a certain French pilot who pranged Griffon Spitfire XIX PS890 at a northern French airshow over a week ago – the only airworthy Spitfire in France. He got cocky and poured on the power too early while taking off on a very soft grass airstrip – showing off he was – ended up nosing into the ground and back-flipped. He’s OK, but the machine is not…

          • Frogmen are still a rather delicate subject down here – after agents (frogmen) of the French DGSE attached limpet mines to a Greenpeace ship ‘Rainbow Warrior’ on the 10th July 1986 while docked in downtown Auckland. It blew up and sank at dock with the loss of one life. I’m no fan of Greenpeace at all, but attacking a ship while in the harbor of an ally is a bit rich. Generally I find French tourists to be a good lot – but I don’t trust their government – they have a boastful arrogance about them which is distinctly anti God and anti the Home Country.

          • They did give Serge Blanco and Philippe Sella to the world though, so a lot can be forgiven them.

            By the way, I have an old schoolmate who has worked with planes down there for years in NZ – Andrew Lynn – would be about 54 now. Ever come across him?

          • Sorry for the late reply – no I haven’t met Andrew personally, but a friend told me that he was part of the ITL Aviation team who restored Spitfire MkIX PV270 down in Feilding. Andrew was one of the certifying engineers. (It took over 5 years to rebuild this aircraft). Small world isn’t it!

    • The experience of victory in the Church Militant will most likely be for the next generations. But how much more pleased Christ Jesus will be with us if we fight knowing this.

      Glory be to His Holy Name.

  14. I feel this way exactly. Thank you for writing this, it’s a bit encouraging to know others feel as you do. I am saving this to re read

  15. When I first became Catholic, I read most of the books by Henri Daniel-Rops on the history of the Church. They are excellent. And they provided me with a deep perspective on how bad things have been before, how often they have been bad, and how long it took and how hard it was to fix them.

    Most of the repair work was done by saints. It was not enjoyable. They got very tired, were attacked and betrayed (usually by people the trusted) with great frequency, were covered by the mud of slander and accusation, and often wanted to give up. They didn’t.

    So what are you waiting for? Start now. Become a saint. Not trying is false humility, and disobedience to Christ, who commanded us to “be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

    Daily readings of In Conversation With God, by Francis Fernandez will help. Be advised: they are fierce.

  16. Now THAT is the fire I needed in my belly…certainly for today, but also going forward !! Well done Steve and Thank You !!

  17. Very good Steve. I would like to see more analysis of the Catholic religion as product concept. For example: Who are our buyers? Answer: The poor in spirit, etc (see beatitudes). Why do they buy the Word of God? Like other products (Apple and Mercedes), the Word of God, makes them feel better about themselves, it elevates their status in their minds eye, it gives them hope in a hopeless world, it promises eternal life, it declares the love of God each believer, etc. We have lost that in the Catholic Church particularly since Vatican II. Somehow being a social justice warrior doesn’t cut it. The Catholic Church became the Democrat Party with Barack Obama replacing Jesus Christ. Now how many are going to lay down their lives for that? The Catholic Church needs to return to basics: redemption, eternal life, hope and happiness. Especially now!

    • “I would like to see more analysis of the Catholic religion as product concept.”

      No, no, no and no again! God forbid. This approach is an appalling idea.

      Our Lord Jesus Christ told us to go and preach the Gospel to all nations – not to the A and B brackets and forget the Cs and Ds.

      The Catholic Church is there not for “buyers” but for SINNERS – and that is everyone on the planet over the age of reason. Our job is merely to get the Catholic Faith in front of a person. Our Lord determines to whom he gives the gift of faith, NOT some marketing department.

      Steve, please commit never to treat the Faith as a soap or a shampoo or any other “product”. This is exactly what the Novus Ordo Church already does!

      • Great Stalin. Yes, Yes, Yes, by all means, yes. Our faith is a product–a spiritual product. We ask folks to buy into it. To believe it. To commit to it. Preaching is selling our faith product. Our product is guaranteed by God. It is available at God stores, i.e., Churches. The benefits of our Catholic product are holiness and happiness. Our buyers are sinners that’s why they need our product. Our job is not merely to get our product in front of people and let God to the rest. Our job is to use our product ourselves so folks will have credibility in what we tell them. Everyone is called to our faith product and we are the “sales people” who make it available to them. The problem with our current Vatican II product is that it is false by worshiping Man rather than God and consequently doesn’t work. We are the distribution system for our Catholic product. God gives the gift of faith to those who seriously embrace the requirements of our spiritual system as it were. Marketing, Great Stalin is what Christ and the Catholic Church are all about.

        • It’s a narrative framework, not a perfect analogy. That said, used properly, and subordinated to the eternal truths it represents, I tend to agree that how we package the faith and “sell” it to people is really the distinguishing factor between what makes evangelization effective and what makes it fall flat.

          • Steve– I agree. The proof of a product is whether or not it produces the effect it claims. The Catholic faith practiced in the manner prescribed by Christ produces saints. Any adulteration of the Faith, such as we have seen since Vatican II and now with Pope Francis, will not be effective in producing saints but rather heretics and apostates.

  18. “Shackleton hired only people who believed what he believed.”

    “Be not afraid…
    Christ didn’t leave us orphans…”


    Jewel of the west
    On eastern coast
    Atlantic aurora
    Our Mother’s boast

    The proud are scattered
    In conceits of their heart
    Blind to Melchisedech’s
    Priests thou art

    Jewel of the west
    On eastern coast
    Atlantic aurora
    Our Mother’s boast

    A light to the Revelation
    Of faithful Gentiles
    Angels sing canticles
    Simeon smiles

    Jewel of the west
    On eastern coast
    Atlantic aurora
    Our Mother’s boast

    Root of Jesse
    Gate of morn
    Unworldly womb
    The skulkers scorn

    Jewel of the west
    On eastern coast
    Atlantic aurora
    Our Mother’s boast

    And we your daughters
    Comely and fair
    A terrible army
    Birthing His heir

    Jewel of the west
    On eastern coast
    Atlantic aurora
    Our Mother’s boast

    For our sons’ inheritance
    Roman men toil
    A Cathedral of cassocks–
    Catholic priesthood all Royal!!


  19. The “why” has been, to large extent, reduced to a horizontal and social mission. Our “vertical” beam, the eternal and transcendent, has been severely weakened and is largely ignored. This vertical “why” is the Church’s primary concern, and it needs to be reclaimed. People aren’t looking to join a spiritually vague version of the American Red Cross.

  20. I want to thank you all for your supportive comments. I’m making a concerted effort not to get bogged down in the comment box, because I can spend all my time here responding to individual comments and that means we’re not producing content.

    But I’ve read each and every one, and I am humbled by your kindness. I know this post was a departure from the norm, and I’m glad it was well-received.

    • Steve, many thanks for all your good work. But I hope you will permit me one correction – Shackleton was an Irishman.

      • Irish by birth, but grew up in England and served in the merchant navy and worked as a journalist there. Did he ever move back to Ireland that you know of?

        (I’m always happy to correct mistakes, but I need to make sure I’m not correcting them with another one.)

          • P.S. On some further amateur enquiry, the question seems to be vaguely controversial. A common compromise is to call him ‘Anglo-Irish’, the term used for Protestant, usually landed, Irish. However, no-one ever called himself an Anglo-Irishman. Shackleton was an Irishman who was British, in the same way an Englishman or Welshman is British. So, while it wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to call Shackleton British, it would be wrong to say he was English.
            Hoping this helps and that it’s not too nit-picking. Thanks for engaging.

    • Thanks, Steve. I agree with others. I think this is the single best thing I’ve read on this site, or even most blogs. Thank you for your dedication, and trying to continue to find a way.

  21. Steve, this may be the best thing you’ve ever written to date.
    I’m a convert, so my why is “because it’s true.” And it is true irregardless of family differences,
    loss of friends, a constriction of everyday life in 21st century America because you can’t in good conscience do so many “normal” things. Which is why I can’t leave.

    My daily prayer re: the crisis is that no one will be so angry, frightened, bitter or discouraged that they will do anything to
    harm their own soul, or the souls of other’s.

      • Well, it’s a fact.

        Helps that Ernest Shackleton is one of my heroes! I spend my winters on nordic skis with a rifle on my back in the mountains out beyond my ranch and I think of him and others like him a lot when it is dark and the snow is deep and blowing!

        What you have written here is gold. It is the challenge we need to hear from every one of our prelates. We have virtue and strength and power that is inherent to the faith Christ has given us. This piece exposes it!

        Playing defense all the time doesn’t put points on the board, and at some point the leaders of the Church have got to cease making excuses for every sin and peccadillo human kind can conjure. They have a job only they can do, but we do, too.

        We need to get back in the game of evangelizing the lost, and THAT comes thru clarity of mission and message, not ambiguity and vague purposelessness. What you have written here is a tremendous boost to those who want to go out and win souls for Christ and I’m sending it all around.

        At this point, though, we know our job is tough, and we need to hold tight, to “hold until relieved” just as Major John Howard was ordered to hold the Orne Bridge on D-Day. But every time we have the chance, we must reach out and lead others to join with us so the day that relief arrives we are found, maybe bloodied and bruised, but ready!

        Thank you Steve!

  22. Delayed reading this because I knew it would hurt too much. As always, desolation is compensated by consolation.
    Thank you.

  23. I recently read that book- good stuff. Simon Sinek actually came to my workplace to talk about leadership- very interesting guy. His other book is ‘Leaders Eat Last.’ We have a crisis of leadership in our culture, as well as the Church. Too many leaders cave to nonsense.

    • Ditto with O’Riada’s comment. We all need encouragement! Thank you! God bless you and yours…

  24. What we’re fighting for is the truth.

    ” Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. Pilate saith to him: What is truth?” John 18: 37-38.

    Those words of Pilate, are repeated to us daily by Francis and his fellow travelers in the Church. You see, truth is “rigid” and Francis doesn’t like “rigid”. Every time Francis rants and tears his garments in Casa Santa Marta in a morning homily in which he sneers at the “rigid”, he’s repeating the words of Pilate. He hates the truth and that is the simple fact of the matter. Truth is not flexible, it is not negotiable, it is not a human construct and it does not require our approval. Sadly for Francis, just as for Pilate, it is “rigid”.

    Francis’ inner rage is fueled to a great extent by this. The truth is beyond his control. He cannot change it and so all that’s left to him is to ridicule and denigrate those who love the truth and who attempt to follow it unwaveringly.

  25. The best thing you have ever written. I was totally immersed in where you were leading. Although nothing in the Church has changed since I read this article, I now, in a way, don’t stress over it too much. You have consoled me, enlightened me, invigorated me. My pathetic labors are not in vain. I serve, and willingly so, the Savior of the world. What’s not to like about that?

  26. Once when in a start that I sometimes reach that is deep prayer with little or no awareness of the world around me. Bl Mary said, “Jesus and I would like the Church to return to where we left it”. Work that one out,

  27. This seems very much banal and inappropriate in many places.

    The Church is not just any society.
    Church Militant is the perfect society instituted by the Godman. Justice demands that every man should live and die for Holy Mother Church.
    ‘God made me to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life, and be happy with Him in the next. ‘

    The Cross is the meaning of life. Many a solider would never give up all the hardships of the long march and the battlefront itself for the transcendent joy of camaraderie and purpose, all this for a worldly cause that although impressive and perhaps even just in the natural sense ought to be reckoned as dung compared to the glorious cause for Christ’s Kingdom which has been bestowed to the knights of Holy Mother Church. This is why Catholic Monarchy and nobility is the proper manifestation of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth.

    “Men wanted for Hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months
    of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and
    recognition in case of success.”
    The transcendent attracts the noble. The banal the ignoble.

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