Revivalism: Catholic Pilgrimages and One’s Own Life Pilgrimage in a Dark Age
By Joseph Andrew Settanni
For devout Catholics, each and every Advent is a holy pilgrimage and mystery; and, the religious and theological significance of the profound understanding of this meaning ranges ever far beyond just the Church season leading up to Christmas each year. Against the rather dark moral and spiritual background of the existing, aggressive, secularist, Western society and culture, why is this said?
The Mystery of the Redemption is not and should not seem to be an easy ride; one must seek to actively earn it by deeds and prayers, not by just having supposed faith alone, which amounts, upon critical analysis, as the cheap having of a belief in faith itself, not really in the Lord God. Thus, to be a true or practicing Catholic is to simultaneously be a meek pilgrim, engaged in this mystery, in this fallen world.
Should there be, however, a Catholic revival of the idea of making physical pilgrimages? It could not hurt one’s soul if sincerely done always for the right reasons, not frivolously entertained as just a silly lark. Of course, such places as the Middle East and elsewhere are much too dangerous for practical choices, as to possible religious sites or shrines for visiting and praying at, as a means of better securing redemption through the penance involved.
What is meant? The penance involved is the deliberate turning away from worldly things and ambitions to, instead, rightly seek religious and spiritual benefits and cognate blessings, as a so humble pilgrim for the Lord’s sake. It can be rightly remarked, nonetheless, that many Catholics do still, these days, go on various pilgrimages, though it is hardly a common practice attended to by the vast majority.
There are, e.g., many North American shrines to visit (which ought not to be life-threatening endeavors, unlike the typical reality of the Middle East, whether ancient, medieval, or even contemporary times).
Of course, people of different faiths, all over the world, have surely been going on spiritual or religious journeys for literally thousands of years. The Hindus, in India, take trips to the Ganges River that they regard as being sacred. In ancient, medieval, and even modern times, Christians have gone to various locations, such as the more famous sites, including Santiago de Compostela, the Camino de Santiago (the Road of St. James), which is a huge system of ancient pilgrim routes still certainly extending across Europe and joining together, finally, at the holy Tomb of St. James.
Different Journeys by Different Religions
The Roman Catholic pilgrimage, a free celebration of Christian spirituality is, however, extremely different from, e. g., the Moslem pilgrimage, known as the hajj, to Mecca that is, in fact, a sacred duty not involving free will. How is this specifically meant? After all the myriad of qualifications and fancy frills are removed, their principal religious journey, many times of a lifetime, is yet functionally thing-centered, which will be explained.
And, this raises an important point for significant discussion as to the nature of this type of purportedly religious-oriented trip, as this present effort at expiation will come to elucidate clearly, for the Spirit of Christ is an incarnational reality, not an inanimate one.
Of all people, the radical Jihadists do, insightfully, have some basic truth on their side in that they do denounce the terrible idolatry of worshipping the supposedly sacred stone of Islam, instead of rightly worshipping God, their Allah [which word actually means submission]. Occasionally, even extremists of this sort can get things notably right, the way that even a broken clock is absolutely right twice a day.
Many of them have publicly said that they would actually destroy the building housing that absurd thing and, of course, the very preposterous revered stone itself. Being such self-declared religious zealots, purists, or Islamic “Puritans,” they are absolute iconoclasts who, thus, do so adamantly insist that these existing Mecca-based things be totally eliminated for the assumed holy sake of further purifying Islam.
In such an aforementioned context, their avid logic would seem, therefore, to be highly correct and so integrally undeniable, quite impeccable, meaning as to both its fairly apparent overt validity and evident justice; this is, however, set within the strict limits of making their religion so much more abstract, for the logical end of this iconoclastic cognition must, one supposes, further insist upon destroying the Koran as a mere affectation of religion, for as Trotsky said, who says A must say B.
Muslim pilgrims, going on a momentous hajj, perform a sacred ritual centered on The Black Stone of Mecca, the Kaaba, a physical symbol of their no-graven-images faith that is related to the Archangel Gabriel in the thinking of Islam. Contrary to this so ridiculous idolatry, Catholic spiritual journeys are God-centered, meaning even more especially being Christocentric events dealing with ultimate matters, such as the important salvation of souls. Places or locations, thus, ought never to be the true theological or religious issue involved.
And, different religions produce deferent orientations toward definitions of the sacred, meaning that which is holy, and the profane, what is of temporality alone being separate from the sacred. For Roman Catholics, the religious significance is not the particular or actual geographical location, the object(s) to be found there, or any other physicality involved whatsoever; the means provided is faith, the holy object is to give ever greater glory to God, not to the sacred shrine or mere place, of course.
What is critically meant is similar to denouncing the dumb slander, repeated by Protestants and others, that Catholics worship plaster saints, not God, or the supposed worship rendered to the Blessed Virgin Mary. While Moslems believe there is, by definition, inherent religious virtue in the Kaaba, no Catholic’s faith ought to be ever summarily destroyed if, e. g., absolutely all the shrines (and their contents) of what used to Christendom were to be entirely destroyed.
Christ and His Kingdom would still exist; the Roman Catholic Church would still be present, the glorious truths of the Faith would yet permanently be in full existence, etc., regardless the vile active onslaught of secularization with its “gospels” of pragmatism, materialism, hedonism, positivism, and nihilism.
Truth resides in the Lord Almighty as to the substance of Catholicism, not in things (especially in and of themselves); there is, therefore, no inherent or integral substantiality of religious value, meaning in the highest sense, to be found present in the mere symbolism of physical objects qua objects, meaning totally unlike what Islam’s Kaaba intrinsically represents to all those who are committed believers. In short, superstition is not religion, except, one guesses, for Moslems and other heathens who may be so inclined. The ancient Hebrews, as another instance, were told by God, in Deuteronomy 16:16-17, to make journeys to the Temple three times per year.
As was noted earlier, the more radical (and, perhaps, more logical) jihadists easily recognize the highly superstitious nature of centering the focus of an important pilgrimage on what is quite obviously only a rock, glorified, true, but still just a stone. It is so truly pathetic, as is always superstition itself. For as Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman would have wisely insisted, and more to the point needed here, false ideas of religion do harm people.
For instance, the English Protestants, during their occupation of Ireland that even partly continues today, could have burned and utterly destroyed all the churches, shrines, etc., but there would still be the Faith regardless, which is not a superstition. Pilgrimages, nonetheless, are today a foreign concept to almost all dedicated (committed) Protestants, especially those who are doctrinaire about the so-called Reformed Religion, who would never tend to naturally develop such (Papist) desires.
After all, The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by the Puritan John Bunyan, is, at bottom, an anti-Catholic screed. Yet, there are many different journeys made by different religions, for there is no true religion by the generic name of Christianity, contrary, of course, to what many people may ignorantly believe.
Although in both ancient and medieval times being told by a priest to do penance by, thus, going to visit a shrine could be made religiously mandatory to separate one’s self from mere profane reality; nothing like that is prevalent these days, though not really impossible nor just inconceivable, if it may so further the salvation of one’s precious soul, of course.
For believing Moslems, meaning for those who possess the ability to do so, the hajj is simply mandatory; it is a definite part of their demonic faith that sanctions brutality and massacres in the horrible name of their devil-god Allah.1 Christians, however, are not under any such obligation to go anywhere for such a purpose because a truly much different theology is at work as well as different spiritual values, sacred values, not simply or vainly a contrary monotheism as such.
No inanimate object or place, therefore, possesses the religious power of compulsion as does the Kaaba for the confirmed believers in Muhammadinism, which point needs to be kept so keenly in mind. For Christians, the “movements” of the soul are ever much more highly important and spiritually indicative than, in sharp contrast, the mere peregrinations of the physical body, unlike the opposed thinking of devout Muslims.
Of course, admittedly, a typical Moslem would strongly deny such any extremely denunciatory assertion about the Kaaba, but, ironically, the radical Jihadists, being devout Muslims themselves, have uncovered the disgusting truth and exposed this much too pietistic nonsense for what it, in essence, really is; the jihadists, the more logically radical of them, do recognize and condemn the preposterous worship and veneration of an object, presumed, in fact, to be just a meteorite – of all things to be so very excessively cherished by (presumably sensate, rational) human beings.
Predating Islam by centuries, the Greek historian Herodotus, who had catalogued many of the ancient world’s then religious practices, would have likely agreed. But, people, throughout the course of history, have certainly demonstrated a rather wide and incredible capacity to believe and practice many diverse and amazing beliefs: Muhammad, they believe, was lifted physically at death seated upon his much celebrated horse.
Thus, both he and equine companion with full regalia were dramatically levitated up into the extremely erotic and ever highly sex-obsessed Moslem paradise, an ethereal, prolific, and infinite orgy. And, as Moslems must believe, there he is spending eternity preoccupied in everlasting coupling with his 72 perpetual virgins (or, as a jested failure of their scripture, is it actually just one 72 year old virgin?).
So, over the many centuries now, millions upon millions of the faithful adherents of Muhammadinism, [which it should really be called – in the ways that, e. g., Lutheranism signifies that Martin Luther created his Protestant religion and John Calvin developed Calvinism as yet another Protestant belief system] – have loyally done their hajj to honor Islam and its founder.
All Muhammadans, moreover, are required, if financially and otherwise able to do so, to make at least one such journey during their lifetimes to get near this particular rock and devoutly to perform many spiritual exercises publicly celebrating it. In fact, one can view, either online or otherwise, many pictures and videos of people intensely circulating around the building housing this much celebrated rock; all of which exists as a monument to unrestrained heathenism and unadulterated ignorance supreme.
The situation to be beheld there is, thus, either mindlessly pathetic or, perhaps, pathetically funny to the nth degree. In any event, it is greatly unlike what St. Augustine, in his Tractates on the Gospel of John, said of the Christian life as so being a “pilgrimage in this wilderness …” Spiritually speaking, therefore, this fallen world, the very epitome of mere profane reality, filled ever as it must be with equally fallen creatures must, of necessity, be a place of pilgrimage, of seeking to promote Catholic holiness.
He there further wrote: “Let us during this our earthly pilgrimage be ever occupied with the thought that we shall not always be here, and then, by leading good lives, we shall be preparing for ourselves a place whence we shall never pass on.” Thus, in effect, all true Christians, meaning all practicing Roman Catholics, are true pilgrims for their entire lives on earth (this wilderness), meaning, in particular, after their sacramental baptism.
Every practice leading toward holiness, therefore, makes that aspect of the practice a recognition of the sacred, though both the sacred and the profane coexist, within human reality, even as it reaches toward the divine in the lives of truly sincere and humble Christians.
Quo Vadis, Pilgrim?
Leading a truly Christian life, especially in terms of Catholicism, must include the idea of being a lifelong pilgrim who cannot spiritually find any genuine rest prior to the achievement of salvation in Heaven. It is, moreover, religiously incumbent upon every Catholic especially, whether clerical or lay person, to engage in this earthly quest, when still in the City of Man, that is to have a specifically heavenly end, meaning the City of God, as St. Augustine would have so fully agreed.
And yes, it is much easier said than done, for many are called, but few are chosen. There are difficulties in trying to elude the mounting temptations of a secular, hedonistic, materialistic, consumer-oriented society and culture diligently worshipping (a supposed perpetual) youth, (endless) sensuality, and then, ultimately, consequent nihilism, resulting insanity, and inevitable profane death, if truth be told.
So, verily, the greatest human delusion, as to vanity of vanities, is still ever self-delusion, regardless of what rampant secularism, pragmatism, positivism, and relativism appear to joyously offer to often witless willing fools. Contrarians, however, should sagaciously seek Christ and His Kingdom first, the sacred order, not profane reality.
Of course, the Roman Catholic Church has always imparted the thinking that that a pilgrimage is a beneficial way to creatively reinforce one’s Christian faith and piety. In sharp contrast, the Protestant Churches, being more open to secularism, generally excluded the idea of pilgrimage, as based upon their marked nominalist predilections 2; this was basically because they ignorantly believe that it gives people an erroneous idea about God concerning places and things.
They, in effect, question the incarnational reality of Christian faith more than they ever know or, perhaps, would ever dare to admit to doing so. In short, (orthodox) Catholics are not as embarrassed about Jesus Christ as Protestants tend to be.
Why is this said? Because average people, not well tutored in much of religion and, especially, theology often lack the higher ability to be so perceptive. Rationalization of Christianity, seen in Protestantism’s reductionism, recapitulates, the old saying, on how Christ was/is always “a folly to the Greeks [Gentiles] and a scandal to the Jews.”
And, this ever critical matter deserves to be properly reiterated here for requisite emphasis as to what constitutes the orthodox foundation of Christian Faith, namely, the reality, both in the past terrestrial and forever supernatural, as to the true founder of the Catholic religion, namely, Jesus the Christ. The first “pilgrim,” dying, seemingly only, a mortal’s death, was the Messiah Himself and His earthly journey was completed with the Crucifixion of the Lord God at Calvary about 2,000 years ago.
In historical fact, going on a pilgrimage was, certainly, always popular in the Middle Ages, when people were less embarrassed, ashamed, about an incarnational religion, and, remarkably, is crescively gaining in popularity again; this is, perhaps, because some serious Christians are spiritually probing for a truer Christian identity, within the necessarily antagonistic bustle and commotion of an otherwise secularizing contemporary life, for better seeing all things or places in Christ, the sacred order.
The good idea of religious journeys publicly celebrating the historical places evocative of Christianity, moreover, was ever quite notably prominent since the earliest centuries of the Church, of its intimate foundational history no less. The Blessed Virgin Mary, for instance, had adamantly urged her fellow Christians to reenact the Passion, which eventually became the “Catholic calisthenics” of the Stations of the Cross, for those who could not be at the actual locations. A few more examples ought to suffice, many more could be given if needed, even as the profane world may scoff and belittle Christian humility.
In the History of Eusebius, it is there plainly noted that, in 271 AD, Bishop Alexander had “performed a journey from Cappadocia to Jerusalem in consequence of a vow and [be it known] the celebrity of the place.” What could be more plain as to the truth of what is being said?
The religious status of such journeys, more to the point, was greatly more elevated after the conversion of Constantine and, in such association, the consequent visit to Jerusalem of the Empress St. Helena; thereafter, the various pilgrimages to the Holy Land became so exceedingly more common. It is usually connected to the story of the finding of the true Cross because its simply relational influence was mainly so obvious.
Specifically put as to the facts involved, the first church of the Resurrection was built by Eustathius the Priest. But, the indicative stream of pilgrimages began, in certain strength, about four years after St. Helena’s deliberate visit (in approximately the year 326 AD).
After that time, the Roman Catholic Church, as an official body partly caused and somewhat resulted from the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), had then willingly sustained the same religious custom as to its proper validation. The Council had, therefore, publicly given the ecclesial stamp of approval to this holy practice of properly seeking to so venerate a surely major Christian pilgrimage site.
Thus, e.g., those Protestants saying that they wish to be Augustinian Christians are only disreputable liars, if they should denigrate, minimize, or coldly dismiss the spiritual and moral benefits of Christian pilgrimages. But, in short, Protestantism, ever dependent upon the violently iconoclastic Protestant Revolution that sought Christianity’s rationalization, is never a suitable vehicle for the truly sacred celebration of Christianity athwart the profane world; this is forever proved, moreover, as with the Deist Thomas Jefferson who genuinely thought that he could easily write up much better Scripture, as with the greatly blasphemous Jefferson Bible. It is a rather odd work that was previously unthinkable without the prior radical theological existence of Protestantism.
Rationalization and reductionism, given enough time, eats away at belief, so the so-called Reformed Religion ranges from Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Methodism, etc. and to the rather far fringes of Mormonism and Unitarianism/Universalism, as the “Christian” link becomes necessarily ever more quite tenuous toward its logical and eventual obliteration. A secularist society and culture, especially modernist ones, do, logically, result, for the seeking of true holiness, especially as a Catholic pilgrim, cannot ever abide the worship of secularism, meaning, ultimately, Satan and his so fiery kingdom.
Departure from true religious and theological orthodoxy, therefore, always has its greatly deleterious, spiritually toxic, consequences; these results are, thus, normally called heresies, which do really end up being fatal, denoting as truly regards a soul’s important hope for achieving, through needed practiced holiness, salvation, meaning, thus, for finally reaching Heaven. Keeping one’s eyes on the prize really helps.
The last location for the beautified souls exemplifies the acknowledgment of that, by definition, which defines sacredness forever set against the greatest blasphemous profanity, of course, which is Hell itself. But, some requisite amplification will be rendered next, for better heuristically illustrating, what needs to be enhanced in religious cognition for advanced comprehension.
Two concepts from sociology will be used here, with different connotations, to so help reinforce what needs to be properly said for providing further axiological extrapolation and clarification: Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (society). For Roman Catholics, especially orthodox and practicing ones, their religious community is or ought to be far separate from the destructive values of the surrounding and extremely larger secularist society, as well as the Protestant society seen only as a subset social structure more congenial to secularism than is often publicly admitted.
The Catholic Gemeinschaft must be alienated from and appalled at the secular society ideal held by the predominate and usually ruling majority of the American and Western elites, for it is a sacred sense of community opposite to the temporality observed in the profane social and cultural realities prevalent. A laicist Zeitgeist can often readily produce an abundance of pity, with always very little real and deep compassion among the so jaded populace. But, why is this said?
The aggressive, laicist, and so pervasive Gesellschaft, dedicated to the terrene glorification, in effect, of nominalism in cognition, as the very basis of (relativist) truth, cannot be ever combined with the sacred community of believers; they are the ones, ever urged on by traditionalist Catholicism; they are the ones who ought to absolutely reject the profound profanity of the decadent social order and its many degenerate cultural constructs, and without, one hopes, any hesitation whatsoever.
For as St. Augustine correctly had put it, Christians are only in the world, not really of the world; there is present, therefore, the conflict set between the City of Man (the world, the flesh and the Devil) versus the City of God (the pursuit of holiness toward, one hopes, future salvation in Heaven).
The traditionalist Catholic community, dedicated loyally as it is to the true Faith, ought to ever take a necessary precedence to the wayward or, at the least, very questionable demands of the society at large; the former is to be the true standard, the moral compass, of normal right versus wrong, simple normality, not the latter component of the dying and decadent culture worshipping, as it so obviously does, death and its harsh realities.
At a bare minimum, for a Christian life on pilgrimage, there is to be a much greater and wanted fidelity to seeking God and His Kingdom and a certain determined lessening of desires oriented toward the many things of this distracting world. Unfortunately, these days, the Christianizing of C. S. Lewis’ “mere” Christianity is really needed more than ever, so, e. g., sincere and devout pilgrimages would not hurt to be taken.
Seek Ye the Greater Good
Unlike ancient and medieval pilgrims, perhaps, today’s modern religious journeys are not so fraught with danger, especially if done more locally or within, e. g., only the borders of the United States. The potential dangers, in earlier times, of such usually long trips were basically taken in stride as part of the reality to be confronted realistically by fallen creatures in a fallen world, but the mystery of it all has not, regardless of the many past centuries, departed from Catholic life.
What are many or, perhaps, most pilgrims seeking? Would not it be fairly said that they do hope for perceiving intimations of the divine, as to their personal experiential perceptions, involved in doing such a spiritually special journey? Many sites in Europe were, indeed, formerly places that pagans had taken excursions to and the Church decided, in its wisdom, to Christianize them by giving a new meaning to those locations.
This is especially so if the ecclesiastical authorities could not really sufficiently convince the stubborn majority of the locals, even, perhaps, after a number of generations, to stop frequenting those particular destinations.
The indigenous people, for (many) hundreds or, in certain cases, even thousands of years had felt, for whatever reasons, that the localities visited had some definite connection to what was considered to be divine as to a hierophany, an actual physical manifestation of the sacred or holy in the profane world; it would be, therefore, helping to act as a spiritual eidolon for mystical imitation or practical adoration, a physical manifestation of the holy or sacred that serves as a spiritual eidolon for emulation or worship, if not (always) explicit or greatly dramatic kratophanies, manifestations of divine power.
Such traveling is usually fraught with inconveniences, sometimes unexpected obstacles on highways or roadways, and other things or people that may be even more annoying. Such are but normally small sacrifices, especially when the final goal is kept in mind, for the pilgrimage is the encompassing fullness of the spiritual journey, not just the physical destination in and of itself to be sought.
Sanctification of the soul, which can include rightly acknowledging the glorious Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ or, perhaps, the Virgin Birth, is sought above and beyond merely revering, in person, a particular religious site; that could, unfortunately, verge unto a form of idolatry.
Yes, it would be logically more safe to simply just stay at home or in one’s own village, city, or town; but, these spiritual “adventurers,’ throughout the ages, sought out the greater good of making pilgrimage as a physically manifest sign of faith, of, in essence, a symbolic journey toward God. For the symbolism involved goes fairly deep into both the heart and mind of the believer, for too many abuses, by venial superficialities, ruin unnecessarily the soul of the pilgrim and vitiates the quality of the pilgrimage.
Lesser matters have gotten pushed aside, regardless of how often busy a human life may seem to be. The riches and attractions of this world may need to be sacrificed, for the sake of the spiritual richness and treasures gained, by having taken such a journey that can have the effect, one hopes, of positively changing one’s temporal life for the good, for intimations of the divine.
Sometimes, one must think of the broader spiritual implications and benefits involved by so forsaking immediate goods (or what may seem so) for the better pursuit, instead, of what has been rightly noted already as the greater good, the worship of Jesus Christ and the adoration and veneration of His saints as to the sites visited. The honoring of their holy memories continues from the beginning of the trip there, during the actual visit, and any thoughts thereafter associated to the reason for the pilgrimage.
Of course, it may not be that easy to correctly recognize the larger or much more complete good to be sought, as if looking through a darkened glass toward the outer world. People, even members of the religious, may lose themselves in particulars (e.g., concern for a church choir, organizing parish groups, etc.) while not keenly perceiving the larger appropriate reality of what they are supposed to be about as to their humble mission in life, especially the salvation of souls.
An instance had sadly occurred in [to fictionalize it] Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pinesvilley, Texas of a priest being unable or, perhaps, unwilling to sacrifice a lesser good for the higher sake of preserving the traditionalist Latin Mass-oriented nature of the parish. This is sad to observe. Instead, the decision was made by the pastor, Fr. Ernest Lovely, as a sort of Vatican II moment (an inability to separate the sacred from the profane), to take the unfortunate road, the horrid path, toward a rather obviously Novus Ordo-oriented direction for the parish.
In yielding to the values of the Gesellschaft, there is said to be the great need to embrace change and to be not fearful of it; the parish has, in effect, received its own version of the aggiornamento (renewal and updating) marching orders; the then proclaimed requirement to obey has, thus, proceeded so logically. Instead of lovingly and properly uniting the parish, the terrible existential choice was made to keep a highly controversial choir director, as a paid employee no less, who had lacked, in fact, any such prior actual experience for such a position. Why is this being said?
Thus, a rather bad-sounding choir, which does not seem to improve with practice, exists that causes real occasions of sin because of the laughing/remarks usually made by Mass attendees at the 10:00 am Sunday services. It is much like the proverbial tail being permitted to wag the dog, the particular has been made to govern the general reality; priorities, in short, have gotten screwed up quite terribly.
If Fr. Lovely could but perceive the important and requisite need to seek the genuinely greater good in this matter, removal of the inexperienced choir director would signal that the focus is to be upon the traditionalist Holy Mass, not oddly catering to the allowed poor performance of a choir. Instead, as a consequence, the split in the parish will continue needlessly, and, one suspects, so thoughtlessly as well.
Those who prefer the non-choir 8:00 am Mass will, therefore, continue to eschew, to reject, the 10:00 am one, thus, forever breaking the sense of useful harmony and unity in the precious and difficult life of the parish, filled as it is with the marginalized, scorned, disrespected, and ghettoized believers. The “alternative” choir has formed for the earlier Mass, thus, intensifying the split and, since coming with the pastor’s permission, officially then solidifying the division in the parish.
This is a much worse condition for traditionalist-minded parishes versus Novus Ordo ones because the former do seek a unity of orthodox faith, the latter typically is filled with people who are not that much concerned with spiritual, liturgical, and moral unity; heterogeneity is what the latter generally find more congenial as to the Novus Ordo parish life and their choirs that, not surprisingly, do reflect this doleful reality.
Our Lady of Church, however, is supposed to be a traditional Latin Mass parish whose orthodox focus of intentional attendance ought not to be the dreadful choristers, the singing performers, for it is not, e. g., a Protestant church nor, in particular, a Novus Ordo one either, of course. The congregation is now unfortunately divided (along this entirely unneeded fault line) against itself for neglect, by the pastor, of rightly seeking to find and follow the more substantial spiritual good versus the lesser particular good or choice of keeping the novice choirmaster. But, can a parish divided against itself for long stand?
For what really attracts people to a viable church is the bold proclamation and adamant defense of the truth, especially the ultimate Truth, not a choir (and, certainly, not a terrible-sounding choral group that oddly seems to get worse with the more practice sessions done).
And, this matter was rudely handled as a Vatican II-style fait accompli action; this quite tiny parish, precariously holding on within the diocese in terms of its marginalization, must be disproportionately made to support a paid choir director/organist chosen, ultimately, by Fr. Lovely, with absolutely no prior consultation with the parish’s Finance Committee; a (relatively) great financial burden put upon a tiny parish of (an average of) only thirty-five families, which makes it, thus, having been a disproportionate action to take (about $12,000 per year).
As C.E.M. Joad well and correctly put it, decadence is the loss of the object. The pastor, regardless of what may be his good intentions, has chosen the well-known Novus Ordo path toward the acceptance of decadence for the now divided parish. Great axiological harm has, thus, been done to the Catholic Gemeinschaft, which ought to have been adamantly defended in the name of Catholicism. This choice probably cannot, one suspects, have any truly good consequences, especially in the long run of things.3
The object lost is the need to worship the Lord God Almighty in general and above all other precise considerations, not catering to any one faction, the choir, of the parish in particular. Why the serious lack of perception held by Fr. Lovely? Nominalism in cognition makes it often difficult to recognize corruption, i e., decadence. One fairly knows, thus, that decadence ought to be ever regarded as a moral horror and, subsequently, forever righteously rejected as being sinful. But, recognition of it can be, at times, difficult due to one’s mortal imperfection, giving to many often different “perceptions” of reality.
Fr. Lovely has, therefore, chosen to be blind to the reality of the situation that is being permitted to exist that will then, so necessarily, lead to the further spiritual and moral detriment of his parishioners. For as always, the road to the Infernal Regions is paved with good intentions (and profane consequences often as well). It is greatly hoped, however, that the pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church will, someday, see the unfortunate error of his ways, accept this rebuke, restore sight to his blindness, and take a good spiritual pilgrimage toward the Light of Christ, the Mystery of Mysteries.
The sacred quest is for seeking a path of salvation toward the Savior, who through His Crucifixion, provided the Redemption possible for human souls who seek His Kingdom, not earthly things as to profane fixations and orientations. Unsurprisingly, one ought to see Catholicism, especially its vital orthodox understanding and comprehension, as in itself being a true religious journey or, perhaps, a lifetime passage for seeking intimations of the divine.
For there is ever the constant battle between the sacred and the profane, the pursuit of the love of God versus the world, the flesh, and the Devil. It is, therefore, mightily exemplary practice for the Catholic Gemeinschaft to uphold the Faith, regardless of the aggressiveness of the secularist Gesellschaft and its temptations, which are extremely prolific and many more subtle than they may simply appear to be.
As the Father of All Lies, Satan, as is known, often slyly wraps evil under the cover of what may seem to be an apparent good, during the momentous journey of a person’s life on earth; most people, however, are blissfully unware of the invisible but yet powerful metaphysical struggle that actually exists, in the entire universe, until the end of time, for the Devil and his minions certainly hate not only God but, in fact, all of the Great Lord Almighty’s Creation.4
For every Christian starting at Baptism and, for Catholics, ending at Extreme Unction, that is the absolute finish, the full journey’s end, of the pilgrimage of one’s life here in this sadly fallen world. Santa Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus.
And, yes, as J.R.R. Tolkien had long ago truly remarked, Roman Catholicism is, indeed, quite a “severe religion;” and, much more than that, let it be known that the only real tragedy, in this life, is not to have died a saint on one’s life pilgrimage, in the soteriological expedition toward the Christian mystery of final salvation.
Athanasius contra mundum!
1.) For believing Christians and, in particular, especially for orthodox, traditionalist Roman Catholics, since all other religions do not worship the true God, they, by definition, are put into the category of the worship of demons instead. Conversely, of course, the Moslems do say exactly the same thing about those who do not believe in Allah.
Incidentally, the Jews, who are no longer the “Chosen People” by rejecting Jesus Christ as God in, thus, breaking the Covenant, no longer worship the true Lord and believe in a demon substitute; this is openly affirmed, moreover, by the doctrine of supersessionism: Catholics are now, by definition, the new Chosen People living under the New Testament. Of course, this does NOT mean, in any way whatsoever, that all Catholics simply go straight to Heaven upon their deaths; quite the contrary, many are called, few are chosen.
2.) With emphasis, it can be stressed that nominalism, when fully accepted within one’s cognition, becomes a form of (often unrecognized) insanity. Modernity, in fact, could never have advanced as quickly as it did, starting in the European Renaissance, without a peculiar form of ratiocination that normalized what would have been otherwise seen as being cheap rationalizations for, e. g., the lust for power, as with Machiavelli.
Thus, the rise of and any success attendant to Protestantism is surely a manifest function of modernity. Nominalism, as the formative basis of modernity, then produces rationalizations for the acceptance of subjectivism, positivism, pragmatism, materialism, hedonism, nihilism, and, ultimately, insanity itself, which is seen at its logical nadir in postmodernity. A very good example of modernity is the so-called Reformed Religion of Christianity.
Protestantism, therefore, ought to be regarded as a logical synonym for nominalism. By rejecting the Papacy, the Protestants had, in effect, said that the Gates of Hell had, indeed, prevailed against the Church, though they willfully exempt their own churches, of course. Nominalism, then, operates best by rejecting the proper and sound Aristotelian principle of logic that something can and cannot be true at one and the same instance; thus, the Devil, according to Protestantism both simultaneously, has and has not won over against the Church, which is, by logic, right reason, and common sense, not ever possible. Q. E. D.
In the postmodern world, therefore, bizarrely disoriented boys say that they are really girls, girls say they are actually boys, people claim to be truly lower animals, folks with otherwise healthy limbs demand one or more be chopped off – all of which is now to be held to be simply normal, instead of being appropriately recognized immediately as the insane nonsense it really always is.
None of this would be possible without the prior victory of nominalism becoming as pervasive as the air breathed and, now, seemingly unnoticeable to the vast majority of contemporary human beings who just think it to be plain common sense. In short, insanity has become a normalized condition.
3.) Besides bearing the cross of one’s life (among other crosses to bear), yet another has been added by having to endure a grandiloquent gesture made toward a vainglorious enterprise, denominated as a church choir no less.
The less personal (invisible) crosses, endured during a life’s pilgrimage, includes having to live in a dying, decadent, Western world, inclusive of America; it is unfortunately experiencing, as with ancient Rome, the ever-advancing harsh and relentless tides of the parasitical barbarians who, thus, colonize and do not really wish to assimilate, meaning to any major degree of actual positive acculturation as such.
The once so much higher American civilization must sadly then yield, increasingly, to the unwashed, brutish, envious, often hate-filled, barbarous multitudes, mostly ignorant of the baleful consequences their truly destructive and usually quite dangerous habits and desires, e. g., the Moslems. More than all that, however, the now celebrated postmodern world vilely sees the actual, social, political, and cultural glorification of sodomites, transvestites, abortionists, etc., in short, of all manner of true evil that claims to be positive good; it is, of course, the ever ongoing revenge of Hell and its Chief Demon.
There is, indeed, the great archetypal kind of burdensome cross to bear of having to actually live during the ebb tide, the crescive nadir, of a rather markedly degenerate and, by definition, highly secularized, culture and civilization. This noted ever advancing and aggressive, pragmatic secularization makes the unwanted invasions, the disgusting incursions of the worst sort, less and less tolerable. No wonder that many joke about the long awaited S.M.O.D. (Sweet Meteor of Death) to someday come as a substitute deus ex machina.
4.) Some particular clarification may help to illustrate dramatically the cognition and theology, within this article’s purview, as to the vitally important suppositions attendant to the epistemology involved; this ever relates critically to the ontological order that includes both physical and metaphysical order simultaneously, which should, logically, inspire both holy fear and awe.
By creation, for Christians, especially believing Catholics, means something set very far beyond what an atheist or agnostic (read: cowardly atheist) would limitedly ever mean; all of actual reality encompasses both the delimited, finite physical order (covering the “mere” entire universe) and all that is beyond, the metaphysical order, which includes Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and the literally impossible to comprehend and amazingly mysterious infinity of the Supreme Being Himself.
Comprehensively speaking, therefore, definitely all of this constitutes the Catholic’s notion of God’s Creation, nothing less, which is, thus, necessarily always contrary to Protestantism and any other such terribly deficient faiths, philosophies, or beliefs.