Words of Encouragement From Our Contemporary Athanasius


Regular readers are no doubt aware of the fondness I have for Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan. While it is true that other bishops and cardinals are even now defending Our Lord’s truth, Bishop Schneider is, like his namesake saint, a uniquely strong voice crying out among the bishops of the world addressing clearly, courageously, and unequivocally the crisis in the Church. While he has become well-known for his critiques of the Synod and those bringing an anti-Catholic agenda to it, he had already established a reputation as a defender of the Most Holy Eucharist and one of the Church’s bright lights on liturgy and doctrinal clarity.

Near the end of last month, I wrote to Bishop Schneider to ask for his counsel. I was feeling the burden of what we do here at 1P5, and the discouragement I was hearing from people in private correspondence, as well as my own frustration. I said:

I am absolutely astonished at what his happening in the open in the Church right now. Bishops who openly contradict Catholic teaching. Scandals like an openly homosexual celebrity doing a reading at the Papal Mass. The list of papal appointees to the Synod is terrifying. So much confusion and deception.

Many are looking to me and to the work we do for encouragement. I have told them to remember Christ asleep in the boat during the storm. Where shall we look for support, for leadership, when so few bishops seem interested in standing for the teachings of Our Lord?

We are praying for you. Please also pray for us. I fear that many are losing their faith that the Church is truly indefectible, and is the only True Faith and path to eternal salvation.

His response, as has been the case every other time I’ve interacted with him, was beautiful and encouraging. I present it to you exactly as he wrote it so as not to alter it in any way:
Dear Mr. Steve Skojec, thank you for your greetings. In deed the crisis of the faith inside the Church is reaching its heights. This is a special time, which the inscrutable wisdom of God permits to purify and to strengthen our faith. God is using in this time the little one in the Church, the pure faith mostly of the lay faithful to keep the faith intact and to hand it over to the next generations. It is an honour that we can be witnesses and defenders of our dear Catholic faith not only against the enemies outside but also in the face of the traitors inside the Church, even when these traitors are bishops or cardinals. The Church is always in the hand of our Lord, even in our dark days. I think that God permits that the evil inside the Church must grow and reveal itself in all its wickedness and then God will intervene and make shine the truth and the beauty if the faith, of the liturgy and of the moral life anew. As saint Paul said: when there increased the evil, the grace increased still more. Be confident and be proud and joyful because of our Catholic faith. God bless you. Yours in Christ + Athanasius Schneider
I have already quoted this message elsewhere, inasmuch as he returns continuously to the theme that it has fallen to us, the lay faithful, to defend Catholicism from the enemies within. And it truly is an honor to take up the standard.
But another point he makes here is, perhaps, of even greater importance: “I think that God permits that the evil inside the Church must grow and reveal itself in all its wickedness and then God will intervene and make shine the truth and the beauty [of] the faith, of the liturgy and of the moral life anew.”
Many of us are fearful, because of what we see coming. But what if this is what God wants? What if He is allowing this Synod to come to its fruition in perverse distortions of doctrine or praxis so that it may become clear who Our Lord’s enemies are, and how He will confound them? I have had this thought in my mind for some time, but Bishop Schneider’s letter confirms it. I have found it beneficial to no longer pray specifically that the Synod preserve the doctrine on marriage, but instead that God’s will be done with the Synod. If He wants preservation of doctrine through this body, so be it. If He wants schism or heresy or apostasy so that the cancer may be excised from the Church, so be it.
I want what He wants, and only that.
I recently wrote about Christ asleep in the boat, and referenced it in my correspondence above. This is the closest biblical analogy I see to our present situation. Why was Christ unconcerned with the storm? Were the apostles just being wimps? Of course not. These were career fishermen. They knew the ocean better than anyone. They knew when to worry about the weather. That storm must have been truly terrifying.
But with a word, the winds and the seas obeyed Him. He was testing the apostles. He wanted them to have faith. He wanted them to prove that they loved Him and trusted Him, even if they didn’t fully understand the magnitude of having the Creator of the Universe in their midst. And it was a teaching moment. He was showing them in a way that they would never forget that He has power over and above all things – the sort of power that can overcome death on a cross. The same power that guarantees the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church.
We have a unique opportunity. We have a front-row seat to the kind of event that most of us have only ever read about in history books or the lives of the saints. Vatican II is said to have ushered in “the age of the laity” – it appears it couldn’t have come at a better time. It has fallen to us to safeguard the faith, and to defend our Holy Mother Church, “not only against the enemies outside but also in the face of the traitors inside … even when these traitors are bishops are cardinals.”
Deus vult!
Print Friendly, PDF & Email