Sunday, August 23, 2015

Father Z Tells Traditionalists They Can "Revitalize" The Church: Wherein CIB Rants

In my days as a Catholic traditionalist, I truly believed that the traditionalist movement was the salvation of the Church.  Without traditionalists, the Church would surely be destroyed by destructive elements from both inside and outside.  I look back at myself back then and I can only shudder at the raging hubris by which I lived.

However, that same hubris continues to infect many of those who call themselves "traditionalists", and it was on full display in a recent post by Father John Zuhlsdorf. (Oh, I'm still banned from viewing his site (that's for life), but that is only on my personal IP address. Like everyone else in the world, I can access his blog from any other IP address.) When I saw the post entitled, "You are the periphery which can revitalize the Church!", I immediately recognized the savior complex by which I had lived for so many years. Father Z and his followers are infected with this savior complex in spades.

Father Z started out his post by painting traditionalists as persecuted victims in the Church:
They have even been made into a periphery by the Church’s own appointed pastors.
Traditionalists are always complaining that they are basically the "Dr Pepper" of Catholics - so misunderstood. Yet, they will make the most outrageous, condemning remarks about anyone who doesn't agree with them, or someone with whom they don't agree , as Father Z does on a regular basis with the LCWR, as just one example. What's good for the goose is obviously not good for the gander.

Father Z, claiming to quote Pope Francis, says that "we should look to peripheries for that which can help to revitalize our identity, get us strong and healthy again. We need what the periphery has to offer." It is interesting that Father Z does not give us the context in which Pope Francis made these statements.

I have found two statements by Pope Francis in which he speaks of the peripheries. He is basically talking about those who are ostracized by society:
Poverty that is learned with the humble, the poor, the sick and all those who are on the existential peripheries of life. Theoretical poverty is of no use to us. Poverty is learned by touching the flesh of the poor Christ, in the humble, the poor, the sick, in children. (5/8/13)
The Gospel is for everyone! This reaching out to the poor does not mean we must become champions of poverty or, as it were, “spiritual tramps”! No, no this is not what it means! It means we must reach out to the flesh of Jesus that is suffering, but also suffering is the flesh of Jesus of those who do not know it with their study, with their intelligence, with their culture. We must go there! I therefore like using the expression “to go toward the outskirts”, the outskirts of existence. All all the outskirts?, from physical and real poverty to intellectual poverty, which is also real. All the peripheries, all the crossroads on the way: go there. And sow there the seed of the Gospel with your words and your witness.
Father Z - frequent patron of museums and fine restaurants - could hardly be looked to as one who lives on the "peripheries" of society.  Yet, that is exactly what he is trying to tell us.

When Pope Francis tells us to "go to the peripheries", he is speaking of the poor and downcast, those who are rejected by society.  He is not telling us to go here:

I couldn't even begin to guess the cost of that vestment worn by Cardinal Burke at a recent TLM. There is nothing poor or humble about this scene. This is NOT the "periphery" spoken of by Pope Francis. Yet, that is exactly what Father Z would have us believe, as he writes:
Traditional Catholics whose “legitimate aspirations” have been drawn to the traditional forms of our sacred liturgical worship, and who stick closely to traditional expressions of doctrine, are a periphery. They have even been made into a periphery by the Church’s own appointed pastors.

It’s time to start listening to this periphery.
If "traditional" Catholics are a periphery, it is because they have created the situation.  They are the ones who reject Vatican II.  They are the ones who reject the "Novus Ordo" Mass.   As I have written, Father Z has proudly proclaimed that he refuses to say Eucharistic Prayer II of the Canon, even though it is completely approved by the Church and honored by the Holy Trinity in turning bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.   Father Z has refused to accept the plain teaching of the Church that the EF and OF are two forms of the same rite, and banned me from his blog for pointing out this fact.

These are prime examples of how traditionalists have separated themselves from the Church. If they are on the periphery, it is because they have put themselves there. This can hardly be compared to the poor of society, those who had no choice.

Father Z and Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Father Z then cites to an interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider to bolster his points. I have attended Mass celebrated by Bishop Schneider and have his book personally autographed by him. He was one of my heroes during my traditionalist days. However, I am becoming very concerned about him. He seems to be fairly close to Michael Voris, to whom he gave an exclusive interview in which he bashed fellow bishops. He seems to be very close to radical traditionalists in calling out the "evil" in the Church.

In the interview cited by Father Z, the interviewer asks Bishop Schneider:
Can Your Excellence give some words of encouragement to those priests who, for being faithful to Church Tradition, are isolated and pushed into the background in their dioceses and not given temples where they can officiate Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form, as well as to those faithful who are deprived of Traditional Holy Mass?
Once again, notice the tone of victimization and the persecution complex contained in this question. Do traditionalists ever ask themselves that if these things are true, could they possibly have done anyhing to cause this? Could their constant condemnation of everything post Vatican II have anything to do with the fact that the mainstream Church considers them completely out of touch with reality? Pope Benedict XVI gave them Summorum Pontificum so that they would no longer feel on the outside. Instead, they have taken that beautiful document and used it as a weapon to bludgeon the rest of the Church as "proof" that only they are right and everyone else is wrong. The purpose of SP was to bring us together. They have used it to drive the rest of the Church even further away.

Bishop Schneider's answer to the question posed to him is even more troubling and divisive than the question itself:
I would like to say to these priests, seminarians, young people and families: “It is an honor and a privilege to be faithful to the Divine truth and to the spiritual and liturgical traditions of our forefathers and of the saints and being therefore marginalized by those who currently occupy administrative power in the Church. This your fidelity and courage constitute the real power in the Church. You are the real ecclesiastical periphery, which with God’s power renews the Church. Living the true tradition of dogma, liturgy and holiness is a manifestation of the democracy of the Saints, because tradition is the democracy of the Saints. With Saint Athanasius I would like to tell you these words: Those in the Church who oppose, humiliate and marginalize you, have occupied the churches, while during this time you are outside; it is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the Apostolic Faith. They claim that they represent the Church, but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray (cf. Letter to his flock)”.
Where do I even begin with this? Bishop Schneider is telling traditionalists that they are the only true Catholics and everyone else is a phony.  He is telling the traditionalists that they constitute the Church, and therefore they can and should ignore everyone - including Church authority - who opposes them.  Bishop Schneider usurps the words of St. Athanasius. who opposed true heretics, and uses these words to describe everyone in the Church who does not accept "Traditional Catholicism.":
"Those in the Church who oppose, humiliate and marginalize you, have occupied the churches, while during this time you are outside; it is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the Apostolic Faith. They claim that they represent the Church, but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray." 
If we are to accept this statement as defined by Bishop Schneider, we must believe that the list of "false" Catholics who have "gone astray" ranges all the way from Pope Francis to the 80 and 90 year old ladies who attend the bland New Mass and pray the Rosary every day at my local church.  

Where in all of Church history do we see true saints patting themselves on the back for being the saviors of the Church?  I look at our Blessed Mother who said, "My soul glorifies the Lord."  Mary never pointed to herself but always to her Son.  St. Paul - possibly the greatest evangelist in Church history - worried that he would even be saved:  "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."  (I Corinthians 9:27).

Even Our Lord never glorified Himself but always pointed to the Father: "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." (Mark 10:18). Well, the traditionalists have news for Jesus Christ. They will be the first to tell you, as Bishop Schneider says, that their "fidelity and courage constitute the real power in the Church." Silly me. All of this time I thought it was the Holy Spirit who guided and led the Church. No, it is the traditionalists!  And if you don't believe it, then you are a heretic.   

The scariest thing about traditional Catholics is that they never, never doubt themselves.  And they never hesitate to condemn, in no uncertain terms, anyone who does not believe as they do, as we have seen here with Bishop Schneider.  I know how traditionalists think because I use to believe just as they do.  I really felt that I had all the answers and anyone who disagreed with me didn't know what he was talking about.

That attitude leads only to conflict and division.  Our job is not to sit in judgment of one another.  It is not our job to pat ourselves on the back for having all the right answers.  Our job is to submit to the Will of God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.  He can't do that if we allow our own hubris to take over.

Many who read these words will say that I am judging the traditionalists. But I am not speaking as one looking in from the outside. I am speaking as one who was very much a part of this. Just as a drug addict or an alcoholic can understand others with these problems, I understand traditionalists. And I know, firsthand, the danger in their way of thinking. I see it constantly on their blogs and websites, as I have repeatedly pointed out.

Father Z ended his post with even more troubling words:
Beautifully expressed. 
He is right. 
Be the Maquis!
The Maquis
Who are the Maquis? From Wikipedia: "The Maquis (French pronunciation: ​[maˈki]) were rural guerrilla bands of French Resistance fighters, called maquisards, during the Occupation of France in World War II." By using this terminology, is Father Z telling us that traditionalists are the loyal opposition to the big bad Church authority? This is promoting out-and-out rebellion in the Church. There is no other way to express it. Father Z is calling for traditionalists to resist and oppose the mainstream Catholic Church who has ostracized them into a "periphery." Such a statement should greatly concern everyone who reads it. Instead, traditionalists hold up such statements as banners under which to march.

I am not saying that Bishop Schneider and Father Z are consciously trying to destroy those who follow them. But by building up the egos of their followers with statements that paint them as the saviors of the church, and then urging them to resist anyone and everyone who opposes them, these two clerics of the Church are promoting the same kind of dissension that drove such heretics as Martin Luther.

Satan's dream is for Catholics to be fighting one another. I say, resist Satan, not the Church. And for all traditionalists, the Church has never been, is not now and never will be Satan.

Our world continues to devolve into more and more evil. The Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, is the only light upon which we can truly depend. We have to realize that apart from the Church, we are just as lost as everyone else around us. If we stand opposed to the Church, we are leaving ourselves wide open to the destruction that will surely befall the rest of the world. 

As Jesus Christ said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5).  If we begin to trust ourselves over these plain and simple words of Jesus Christ, we are surely headed for destruction.

Despite the words of Father Z and Bishop Schneider, the true peripheries are defined by Pope Francis as the following:
I would now like to conclude with one thing in mind. In this epoch, when gratuitousness seems enfeebled in personal relationships because everything is bought and sold and gratuitousness is hard to find, let us Christians proclaim a God who to be our friend asks nothing other than to be accepted. The only thing that Jesus asks for: to be made welcome. Let us think of all who live in desperation because they have never met anyone who showed them attention or comforted them, anyone who made them feel precious and important. Can we, disciples of the Crucified One, refuse to go to those places where no one wants to go, for fear of compromising ourselves or of the opinion of others, and hence deny these brethren of ours the proclamation of God’s word? Gratuitousness! We have received this gratuitousness, this grace, freely; we must give it freely. And this is what, in the end, I want to tell you. Do not be afraid, do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of love, of the love of God our Father. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to receive the grace of Jesus Christ, do not be afraid of our freedom which is given by the grace of Jesus Christ or, as Paul used to say: “you are not under law but under grace”. Do not be afraid of grace, do not be afraid of going out of our Christian communities to seek and find the 99 who are not at home. And go and talk to them, and tell them what we think, go and show them our love, which is the love of God.

Dear brothers and sisters: do not be afraid! Let us keep going, to tell our brothers and sisters that we are under grace, that Jesus gives us grace and that this costs nothing: only, accept it. Onwards!

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