Tuesday, January 7, 2020

After Darkness, Light

The old Calvinist motto Post Tenebras Lux has been on my mind in recent weeks. This is in part because I just completed the reading and glossing of thousands of pages of Reformed dogmatics, but also because of the barrage of alarming Church news that shot at me once I finished that project and raised my head above the trenches. This present darkness is so oppressive that many who have been long asleep to ecclesiastical corruptions are beginning to awake. Are we waking quickly enough to set the ship aright before it founders?

Coming into the Church in the early 2000s, I had the impression of moving not from darkness to light, but from darkness into grey fog and shadows. Like many converts, I was forced to fight for every scrap of certainty, for every clear definition of doctrine, for every act of liturgy that was not a slap in the face of Christ and of all Christians. Every priest was potentially going to preach heresy or offer immoral advice in the confessional. Every layman was potentially ready to explain why contraception was in and the Real Presence was out. Every book published by a Catholic press was potentially evidence that imprimaturs no longer meant anything, if indeed they ever did.

The more orthodox-leaning commentators have been predicting a reform and return to sanity since before my time as a baptized Christian. “Once this generation dies off,” they smugly opined, “the conservative generation will take over. Look at the fresh crop of seminarians in my diocese!” And look at how our seminarians are oppressed and discerned away by the “dying generation” at every turn. Look at how many were corrupted and brainwashed by Uncle Ted and his still-unpunished enablers. It is necessary to acknowledge that we might not in fact see the clear light of God’s day in our lifetimes.

By faith we know and firmly believe in all that the Church teaches. The content of this faith is what gives us hope, not only for our own salvation, but for the righting of the Church as a whole. There have been many evil bishops and popes in the past, and they will continue to arise until the Final Judgment, but it is impossible for the Church Catholic to be devastated beyond repair. Altars may be desecrated and commandments wantonly offended, but judgment will find the offenders in the end. I do not recommend cheerfully ignorant optimism, but the acceptance that we may not see justice shining clear before our own deaths. The consolation of hope transcends earthly expectations. The certainty of faith is more blessed to those who do not see and yet believe.

We can hide in our liturgical shelters for a while, but nothing is safe from episcopal busybodies who demand conformity. There is no reason to think that the immediate future will be any more friendly to traditional movements than it has been since the 1970s. Even the most solid Latin Mass community can be taken away at a moment’s notice; all it takes is the right word whispered in the right bishop’s ear at the right time. Every traditionalist might be only a week away from needing to hear Mass from a soy-boy cleric who grows a backbone for the first time when he sees a participant kneeling among the kneelerless pews with a rosary in his hands.

A robust sense of humor is the surest way of living through Pachapapa Bergoglio’s reign intact. “Happy is he that hath had no sadness of his mind, and who is not fallen from his hope” (Sir. 14). There is much in our lives that we cannot control. Frustration is a constant temptation in troubling times; schism and apostasy are frustration’s daughters. One never actually abandons the grey fog for light, but always for a deeper darkness. The sun is still visible through the fog if only as an obscured disc, and God always gives us enough light to keep from stumbling unto death.

Christ is on his throne, always interceding for us with the Father. Mary and John are ever at his right and at his left, praying on our behalf. A great cloud of witnesses anticipates the outworking of divine decrees in our deeds. Nine choirs of spirits are always enlightening us and one another, loving God with intense fire and ready to fight for our good.

We must not fight for ourselves but for our children and for the Church universal. It may be that the special virtue of our time is to endure and never lose faith, to defend to the death without ever having the strength for an offensive assault. We may even succeed, as it were, in saving the Shire… but not for us. Some may need to lose the expectation of seeing the restoration of the good in this life so that others may keep it.

(Inger Edelfeldt)

1 comment:

  1. blackpill. yikes

    Love thine own soul, and comfort thy heart, remove sorrow far from thee: for sorrow hath killed many, and there is no profit therein. -ecclesiastes