Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Rebellious Children of Israel and the Catholic Blogosphere: Two of a Kind

A fight scene from "Deadwood"
I recently heard a priest describe the Catholic blogosphere as the Wild West where anything goes. Anyone who has watched "Deadwood" on HBO has a good idea of just how lawless and violent the Wild West was.  The Catholic blogosphere goes even further as their motto seems to be "Shoot first and don't bother to ask questions before or after you shoot."  A vast majority of Catholic blogs engage in cyber lynching on a regular basis.  And the saddest part is, they think they do God a service (John 16:2).

One thing I find amazing is the simplicity of thought among these bloggers.  They march in lock step with one another, all covering the exact same topics with the exact same point of view and opinion.  None of them seem to have an original thought.  They read each other's blogs and take their cues from one another.  They are all agreed on who the enemy is - Pope Francis, the bishops, the priests and any Catholic who does not fully and completely embrace the Traditional Latin Mass as the only REAL Mass.  Their comrades in arms are any bishop, priest or laity who rejects Vatican II and the "Novus Ordo" Mass and thinks the Traditional Latin Mass and Catholic Tradition in general is the savior of the Church.  

Their current favorite target is, of course, Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ.  It doesn't matter to them that Pope Francis is the personal representative of Jesus Christ on earth.  As they like to point out, the pope is infallible only when it comes to faith and morals, and there have only been two instances in the 2000 year history of the papacy when the Pope has actually acted infallibly.  

My question to them is, if it is true that we only need to listen to the Pope when he speaks ex cathedra on faith and morals, and that has only been done twice in all of history - then why do we even need a pope? Why should anything he does or say be of any importance or even interest to Catholics? According to these bloggers, we should listen to the pope only when he says anything with which they, the arbiters of truth, personally agree. But if he says or does anything that they don't personally like, then "throw the bum out!"

Catholic bloggers were overflowing with vernom and hate during the Pope's visit to the United States.  But that was only a warm up act to the Synod on the Family, which starts October 4.  They have been building up to this one for the past year.  And they are gearing up the big guns, ready to drop the nuclear bombs where necessary.  

A good example of this is Pat Archbold, who was fired from National Catholic Register for his constant vitriol against Pope Francis and the Church in general.  Archbold has now joined Michael Matt, editor of Remnant Newspaper.   Michael Matt has called Pope Francis the "worst pope in history", so you can see that Archbold and Matt are perfect for each other.

Pat Archbold tells us at Creative Minority Report that he is going to be live blogging on the Synod with another Remnant reporter.  As he tells us, he will "try to keep you up to date with all the happenins [sic] at the synod from a traditional Catholic point of view."  "Traditional Catholic point of view" means, of course, one who hates the Pope and everything post Vatican II.  Archbold has also re-labeled the Synod on the Family, calling it the "Synod of Doom." He has even trademarked this label! 

I see all of this as very much paralleling the children of Israel when they rebelled against Moses. Moses was personally chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to freedom.  The Lord freed Israel from Egypt through a series of great miracles, and continued his supernatural guidance of Israel right to the promised land, just as He has does in the life of each and every Christian and in the life of the Church in general.

Just as God did not consult us on the plan of salvation, neither did He consult the children of Israel. He had his own plan and this is what he communicated to Moses. However, a lot of that plan, in fact MOST of God's plan, did not make sense according to human reasoning. And the Israelites never hesitated to voice their displeasure.

First off, when God called Moses, things actually got much worse for the Israelites. As commanded by God, Moses told Pharaoh to "let my people go". Pharaoh basically responded with, "Up Yours, Buddy!". This was followed by the ten plagues, which was no picnic to be sure. Finally, Pharaoh gave in after all of the first born males in Egypt - both men and animals - were killed by the angel of death. But as the Israelites were leaving, Pharaoh had a change of heart and went after them with his army. When the people saw they were caught between being destroyed by Pharaoh's army or drowning in the Red Sea, they forgot all the miracles they had just witnessed and began moaning and complaining against Moses (Exodus 14:10-12)
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.
They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?
Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"
We know, of course, God saved Israel by parting the Red Sea and allowing them to walk through on dry ground, and then drowning Pharaoh's army in those same waters. Yet, even seeing this great miracle did not cure the Israelites of their complaining. In fact, they were only beginning. They whined and bitched every step of the way.

They began complaining immediately after witnessing the parting of the Red Sea. Exodus 16:1-3:
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin,which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.
In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."
It was at this point that God began to give the Israelites manna every morning, a great miracle in itself and symbolizing the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ which would be given in the future. But did this satisfy them? You've got to be kidding.

Exodus 17:1-2:
The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.
So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?"
Again, the Lord showed great patience with Israel, and Moses gave them water from the rock, symbolizing the saving water and blood from the side of Jesus Christ.  

Still, the Israelites continued in their rebellious ways. After this we come to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. God called Moses up to the mountain, where he stayed for 40 days and nights receiving the law and being instructed by God. But the Israelites didn't like this, and decided to take matters into their own hands.

Exodus 32:1-2:
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him."
The Israelites then engaged in a literal orgy.  When the Lord saw this, He said to Moses that He was going to destroy the people for their rebellion.  Moses intervened on behalf of the people, prefiguring the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and so the people were spared total destruction.  However, as Exodus 20:35 tells us, they still paid a price:  "And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made."

The rebellion and rejection of Moses' authority continued throughout the 40 years that the Israelites traveled in the desert.  In fact, the reason they wandered in the desert for so long was that they didn't trust God to overcome and conquer the people in the Promised Land of Canaan.  The Lord responded by saying that none of that generation would enter the Promised Land, but only their children and descendants.

St. Stephen, the Church's first martyr after Christ, spoke to the Jewish leaders of his day and recounted the story of the Israelites' rebellion against Moses.  In Acts 7. St. Stephen tells the story of God choosing Moses to lead the Israelites to freedom.  Then he told of the disrespectful, scandalous treatment suffered by Moses as the hands of the Israelites.  Acts 7:35-40:
“This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.
“This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’  He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.
“But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’
St. Stephen then accused the people he was talking to of being guilty of this same attitude which led directly to their killing Jesus Christ.  Acts 7:51-53
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
How similar this sounds to all those Catholics who bemoan the state of the Church and tell us that we are on the edge of total disaster.  Without hesitation they condemn those whom the Holy Spirit has placed in positions of authority. Like the ancient Israelites, these self-righteous Catholics seem to have completely forgotten all of the great miracles which brought the Church into existence and which saves each one of us from our own well-deserved place in hell. They seem to have forgotten the ironlad promise that Christ would always be with us and never allow the gates of hell to prevail.

These bloggers obviously have no use for the writings of St. Paul who told us in Romans 8:
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
These bloggers will tell you that it is obvious that St. Paul had never seen the likes of Pope Francis or the heretic bishops and priests of the 21st Century. Never has the world seen such evil, certainly far beyond anything St. Paul could have comprehended. As stated above, Michael Matt has told us that Pope Francis is the worst pope in history. Pope Alexander VI was a saint compared to Frances. Yeah, I now that Pope Francis starts his day with two hours of prayer, then follows it with early morning Mass. I know that he daily prays three rosaries, and ends each day with an hour of adoration. I know that he put his life in extreme danger in Argentina when he saved people from certain death from the military in the 1960's. But c'mon! There is no one more vile than he is!!

Like the ancient Israelites who looked back on their slavery in Egypt as the good old days, these bloggers talk constantly about the good old days when everyone was a perfect Catholic, knew their religion better than the Pope, and never did anything wrong. Then along came the evil Pope St. John XXIII, who said the Church needed to go out of itself into the world and give the world the great saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Things were so much better when fear was the main motivating factor of most people, and scandal was denied and kept hidden where it belonged. Those were the good old days when the Church never interacted with the world but stood in condemnation of anyone who did not believe as we do. The pre-Vatican II Church knew that mercy and compassion are for wimps!

Like the ancient Israelites, these Catholic bloggers and their conservative traditionalist followers are all convinced that they know exactly what is right and wrong and good and bad.  They know the mind of God and what He wants for us and how He wants us to accomplish the mission of preaching the Gospel to the world.  And when Church authority does not follow their game plan, they declare war on that authority in the Church, and it becomes time for Gunfight at the OK Corral.  It never enters their mind that God might have a different plan in mind than what they think is best.  They believe they are so completely tuned in with God that they can never be wrong!

We are going to see this scenario played out in major ways in the next two weeks of the Synod of the Family.  The venomous vitriol that will be flowing from conservative traditional blogs, causing division and strife in the Christ's Mystical Body, will thrill Satan as almost nothing else ever has.

These bloggers would do well to read the stories of ancient Israel and what happened to them when they rebelled against Moses, the servant of God.  Here is one example from Numbers 11:1-3:
Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.
Very few of these bloggers ever quote scripture, so my guess is that they have read very little, if any, of the Bible. This past week the Church celebrated the Feast Day of St. Jerome, the great translator of the Bible. A favor quote of his is as follows:

As St. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10, it is important to read these scriptures because they were written for us, the followers of Jesus Christ.  Read these sober and very wise words from one of the greatest saints in the Church:
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.  Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”  We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.  We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The Synod on the Family is called by the one person on earth - the Vicar of Christ - who has this promise of Jesus Christ as found in Matthew 18:18 - "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." The Synod is not a political event. Although there is no doubt that some will come with their own agenda. there is also no doubt, or should be no doubt, that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to officially rebel against Christ.  This has been true for 2000 years, and it won't suddenly become "untrue" now.  

The problems besetting the family in the 21st Century are, in many ways, unique in the history of the Church and of all mankind.  Never has there been a time in world history when marriage has not been solely between a man and a woman.  Few societies in the history of the Church have rejected God as completely as has 21st Century Western culture.  Our definition of love is whatever makes you feel good.  When it doesn't feel good any longer, then it is time to move on.  This philosophy has had disastrous, catastrophic consequences for our world.  The Church must address these problems.  

And we, as followers of Jesus Christ, must trust that the Holy Spirit will not abandon us, even if we stand between Pharaoh's army and the Red Sea with seemingly no way out.  As St. Paul warned us:
We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.


  1. Well! This is fun!

    Okay, so you want originality from a Traditionalist Catholic blogger.

    All I have at this late hour tonight, I suppose, is a request.

    Please list some positive accomplishments of Pope Francis.


    1. How about the following as some of the positive accomplishments of Pope Francis?

      Sexual abuse crisis: Established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, headed by Cardinal O'Malley (not exactly a liberal)
      - Laicised and excommunicated a pedophile priest from Argentina and not only laicised but placed on trial the now-deceased the former nuncio to the Dominican Republic.

      Financial corruption:
      - Established a committee headed by Cardinal Pell (again, hardly a liberal) who has managed to raise the moral credibility of the 'Vatican Bank' which had been routinely used for money laundering.

      Issued the apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, and 2 encyclicals: the beautiful reflection “Lumen Fidei”and the challenging “Laudato si”. (Please resist the temptation to comment on these until you have actually read them.)

      Granted SSPX priests the faculty to hear confessions during the forthcoming Holy Year, thus removing any doubt that they are not in schism.

      Made the College of Cardinals more representative of the Church as a whole, all the while adhering to the limit of 120 voting members imposed by Blessed Paul VI, when he could have stacked the College with his 'favourites'.

      I do not include the current extraordinary synod because it is too early for anyone to have an informed opinion as to whether or not it is successful.

      The holy, humble and intelligent Benedict XVI is an incredibly self-effacing person and people wrongly saw this as being aloof. Francis has, I believe, raised the credibility of the papacy in the eyes of many, not only by continuing to live the simple lifestyle he had in Argentina but also by being incredibly available. As Catholic in Brooklyn has pointed out, he spends at least 3 hours a day in solitary prayer; no doubt this is the source of his strength.

    2. Wow, that is a great answer, much more extensive than I would have been able to give. Thank you so much. Alban, your answer shows that those who want to criticize and condemn Pope Francis put blinders on and see only what they want to see.

      I think listing the positive effects of Pope Francis's papacy is actually a great idea, and much more extensive than I feel can be covered in a comment. Thank you, Laramie, for the idea for my next post. I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.

    3. I think listing the positive effects of Pope Francis's papacy is actually a great idea, and much more extensive than I feel can be covered in a comment

      Please do. It has been easy for me to find criticism of the pope. Let us list the positives and see what sticks.

    4. Just to let you know that I'm working on it. I thank you for approaching this with an open mind.

  2. I think that traditionalists like hyperbole. If you want to see how wicked the world can be try reading what society was like before the coming of Jesus. Polygamy, infancide, woman and children as chattel property, slavery, murder as entertainment, gluttony. Is the world going that direction? Yes, because people have rejected Christ, either in the total sense or practical sense. But this reactionary nostalgia for the past is also pretty messed up, because many people did the rituals but didn't keep the morals. See: Native American genocide or King Leopold's Gost.


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