Understanding Modernism

“Modernism is not merely a political stance in opposition to traditionalism,” said the priest at the Latin Mass I attended that Sunday.  “Modernism is refusal to submit to the Church.  It is the idea that ‘I’ make the rules and am the authority.  By the way… you will find more Catholics like this in Extraordinary Form Masses than in Ordinary Form Masses.”

After receiving Our Lord and leaving for home, I wrestled with this particular part of the sermon very hard.  By this definition of Modernism, I have most certainly been guilty at times.  I thought about all the different “modernist” thinkers and what they believed, I thought about the “modernizing” trends in the Church with which I have had firsthand experience, I reflected on the many “traditionalist” Catholics I have shared pews with, and I considered the thought “process” of modern man and his continual vain pursuit of pleasure.

So… was this priest right in his assertions?

Mostly yes.

First of all, I would like to state the one thing that was not quite correct.  You will not find “more” modernists in Latin Masses than in Novus Ordo Masses.  The numbers alone make such a thing impossible.  By this definition, will you find as high of a proportion of modernists in Latin Mass Churches as at their Novus Ordo counterparts?  As someone who has spent time in both, I am sadly inclined to say yes.  There are many in both types of communities who are good Catholics and many who twist the Church’s teachings and cut out things they find inconvenient.  To my readers who are Latin Massers, there are not as many modernists in the Ordinary Form Masses as you may believe, but they definitely exist.

The priest was dead right on his explanation of the root cause of Modernism.  Unfortunately, many of us who see modernism as a threat tend to be too narrowly focused on one specific “branch” of it that we miss the underlying reasons…. even within ourselves.

Consider the definition of modernism as given above and consider the following false ideas that we see all too often.

First Wave Modernism (Late 19th/Early 20th century): The scriptures are but helpful myths and the Catholic Church was not what Christ intended even if it is the best vehicle for his teachings.  Sacraments and Church Dogma were not there from the beginning and were developed by the early Christians in the first three hundred years after Christ.  We can discount the biblical proof of these Sacraments because can we really believe that the Gospels were written by the four evangelists?

Second Wave Modernism (mid-20th century): The old traditions and culture of the Church are no longer helpful to modern man.  Modern western man needs liturgy, beliefs, and a Church that speaks down to his level.  We must look outside the deposit of the faith for inspirations of how to reach modern man… how about some 19th century German philosophy?

Third Wave Modernism (21st century): The morals that the Church espouses (because she received them from Christ) are outdated and no longer relevant.  Modern man is progressing and the Church must keep pace to be “cool” and “relevant” (Like the Anglicans!).  The Church needs to open itself up to the destructive anti-mores that have destroyed any semblance of family life in the West.  Humanae Vitae…  what is that? (Pope Paul VI, soon to be canonized, pray for us!)

Ultramontanism:  The Church is fully at the mercy of Papal whims and desire.  If a pope wishes to let divorced and remarried commune, he has that power to do so and we must obey him.  The pope is the final authority on everything.  Period.

Obedientism: A Catholic is bound not only to papal whim but to every whim of the clerical authority above him.  If a bishop tells you to do something you must do it even if it goes against morality or the Faith.  Don’t rock the boat!  What are you, a disobedient schismatic SSPX-er?

“Traditionalist” Ultra-Reactionaries: The Church in Rome is gone.  We can have nothing to do with it.  The only priests I will take Sacraments from are those who I deem valid and not modernist.

Modern Neo-Paganism: Ugh… religion.   So uncool!  Ugh… books.  Boring!  Ugh… anything that makes me uncomfortable is totally killing my mood.  Don’t be a hater!  Ugh… you need to be open-minded!  Something that doesn’t validate my biases?  F*** that!  I hate you!

What we see here is that all these errors have the same root cause: denial of objective truth beyond the whims of man.  I want it, therefore I will I and believe it.  The pope or <INSERT POPULAR PERSON HERE> wills it therefore it is true.  God and what He wants of us does not factor into the equation.

ALL of the above are examples of modernism.  All of them must be guarded against.  In a roundabout way, Pascendi was right in saying Modernism is the synthesis of all heresies.  It skips all he “frivolous” intellectualism and theology that something like Monothelitism or Calvinism hides behind and strikes to the heart of the issue: I believe something because I want to believe it and the truth has nothing to do with it.

Modernism is distilled essence of heresy in its purest form. That is all it is.

This is an especial point of caution for American Catholics.  Too often we, reinforced by a terrible public education system and a garbage media, politicize everything into “left” and “right”.  When we see others go to one extreme, we rush into the arms of the other without considering a third and better option.  You are Republican or Democrat.  You are conservative or liberal.  You are Coke or Pepsi.  You are Socialist or Capitalist/Corporatist.

You are “traditionalist” or “modernist”.

No!  You are with God and His truths or you are with mammon and the whims of men.  The will of God is all that matters, what the world wants is irrelevant.

Kyrie Eleison

Deus Vult!

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Folly

I have generally steered clear of Pope Francis and his controversies.  The dioceses I reside in have enough Modernism, Montanism, and Protestant-Wannabeism (courtesy of the megachurch “bible belt”) without me having to look up what the Bishop of Rome is up to.  I have enough on my mind and enough problems just outside my own door and – even more – within my soul to occupy me.

And yet, it is still impossible to entirely escape.  The revelation that Pope Frank knew more about sex abuse scandals than he was letting on has caught my attention.  The allegation that he is just as guilty in coverups as many of his brother bishops strikes a cord that I cannot ignore.

It brings me no joy that the First Bishop’s hands are dirty.  I am not filled with the envious and demonic shaudenfreude many today feel when their “enemies” fall.  I do not gloat at the thought of seeing him pulled into the mud even if he deserves it, for such things always damage the papacy.  Every wicked pope that dragged the See of Peter through the mud ensured that their successor had to put great effort to restore it.  The Chilean Abuse Scandal is no victory for tradition; it is a tragedy and a temporary triumph of evil that sex abuse and coverups of this sort happen at all.

This may well be the end of this “popular” Pope’s temporal influence.  I did a quick search this night on what the trending news was for him and found this:

“Pope reinstates sex abuse commission” (a necessary act, especially currently)

“Pope Francis: Same Sex Marriage is a Diabolical Attack on the Family” (I imagine his former “allies” in Germany will not appreciate this reversal)

“Pope backs down in Nigerian Bishop controversy” (Local clergy can oppose the will of the Vatican, and win?!)

“Pope Francis reveals he meets with sex-abuse victims on Fridays” (In all sincerity, if he really does this then I applaud him)

I am not the Pope’s judge, only God holds that power.  It is clear to me though that the goodwill he won from the world by seeming like a “hip pope” who was going to “open the Church to the gays and the world” is dried up.  Bishops defy him (with Conservatives becoming eerily SSPX-like in a “recognize and resist” stance and leftists in Germany saying they might start blessing the “unions” regardless of what the Vatican says), most ground-level Catholics I’ve met hardly notice his presence, the media and mammon he seemingly worked so hard to please is disenchanted with him…. there is no one on this earth who seems to side with him.

And, for once, I sympathize.  I too have gone down one or two rabbit holes in defiance of my Church, knowing full well it was wrong.  When one reaps the empty fruit of sin, there is no where to run but back to God like the prodigal son while also resolving to never sin in that manner again (some of us are stupid that way).

Some of the most recent articles like those above appear to tell a story of a pope who is losing his grasp, and is falling back on orthodoxy in some respects.  I only hope that he sees the folly of trying to please the world and takes a firm stand for the Church he was installed to steward.  Only then, will he be liked and have the respect he seems to value so much.

I myself once tried to please mammon and learned my lesson.  Never again.

I only hope the Holy Father has learned as much.

Deus Vult

 

The Charismatic Heresy: Return of the Montanists

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“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” – Matthew 24:24

Tertullian is not a canonized saint.  Tertullian wrote some of the best composed defenses of Christianity in the early Church.  Tertullian defended the Church from Gnosticism and Paganism with great energy.  Tertullian has sometimes been seen as the Theological Father of the early Latin Church even as much as Sts. Augustine and Ambrose.

Yet, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus has never been a canonized saint.

This is not a case like that of Origen, who died a martyr’s death only to have his less fortunate speculations dug up long after (leading to a condemnation centuries after he was unable to deliver apologies or clarification).  No, while Tertullian lived he fully endorsed a heresy that has barred him from any hope of canonization regardless of whatever actually happened at his judgement day.

And the heresy he endorsed, like the “First Order” in the new “Star Wars” films, has seen a recent re-emergence from copycats.  The Montanist heresy has returned…  After nearly 1800 years, it has returned bigger, badder, and far more effective than its predecessor.

a recent convert, Montanus by name, through his unquenchable desire for leadership, gave the adversary opportunity against him. And he became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning. Some of those who heard his spurious utterances at that time were indignant, and they rebuked him as one that was possessed, and that was under the control of a demon, and was led by a deceitful spirit, and was distracting the multitude; and they forbade him to talk, remembering the distinction drawn by the Lord and his warning to guard watchfully against the coming of false prophets. But others imagining themselves possessed of the Holy Spirit and of a prophetic gift, were elated and not a little puffed up; and forgetting the distinction of the Lord, they challenged the mad and insidious and seducing spirit, and were cheated and deceived by him. In consequence of this, he could no longer be held in check, so as to keep silence. Thus by artifice, or rather by such a system of wicked craft, the devil, devising destruction for the disobedient, and being unworthily honored by them, secretly excited and inflamed their understandings which had already become estranged from the true faith. And he stirred up besides two women, and filled them with the false spirit, so that they talked wildly and unreasonably and strangely, like the person already mentioned. And the spirit pronounced them blessed as they rejoiced and gloried in him, and puffed them up by the magnitude of his promises. But sometimes he rebuked them openly in a wise and faithful manner, that he might seem to be a reprover. But those of the Phrygians that were deceived were few in number. “And the arrogant spirit taught them to revile the entire universal Church under heaven, because the spirit of false prophecy received neither honor from it nor entrance into it. For the faithful in Asia met often in many places throughout Asia to consider this matter, and examined the novel utterances and pronounced them profane, and rejected the heresy, and thus these persons were expelled from the Church and debarred from communion.

– Eusebeus of Caesarea

Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: “Behold this is new!” for it has already gone before in the ages that were before us.  There is no remembrance of former things: nor indeed of those things which hereafter are to come, shall there be any remembrance with them that shall be in the latter end.  Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity.

I have met the charismatics.  I have had “hands laid on me” by one of their lay followers (to zero effect).  I have studied and had explained to me how they intend to learn the Charisms of the Holy Spirit.

What they do is not from Christ.  It is not of the Holy Spirit.  It is man-made concoction.

They purport that by praying a prayer faster and faster the sound that results is a “spoken tongue”.  Aside from the blasphemous act of saying the words of a prayer fast instead of… you know, praying it, I would like to point out what anyone with uncommon common sense would; saying “I am the very model of a modern major-general” extraordinarily fast and “in the spirit” will not give me the ability to speak Sanskrit.  If, at point in my life, I do begin to speak Sanskrit I would hope that someone with me has the ability to procure a genuine exorcist quickly.

They claim that the final act to be a member of their group involves one of their number laying hands on an initiate to give them the charisms.  Aside from the fact that I know from experience that this act gives no spiritual power, it dogmatically sets an opposition to the Holy Orders of the Church: a neo-Protestant “ordaining” so some laity with weak foundations in the Faith can go out to LARP and pretend they are the apostles.

Nothing they do has any power in the spiritual realm.  When one has a genuine spiritual experience, they know.  Anyone who has had any real contact with a spirit, whether good or malevolent, can affirm that the charismatic movement is just pretending by grown adults.

Why would it be anything else?  Why would the Holy Spirit grace with his charisms a bunch of thrill-seekers gathered in a room looking for an emotional experience?  Why would He give His gifts to those who demand them and use psychological quasi-sorcery to “obtain” them?

He never has given them to such as these.  All those who have been blessed with the charisms were those holy enough to not want them.  Every saint (and there are quite a few) who ever spoke in tongues did so when God chose to give them it as an unasked-for gift and to suit a specific need: addressing to Christians of many languages (St. Anthony of Padua), giving spiritual strength to Christians who sought them out (St. Paul of the Cross), or to preach to non-believers (the Apostles on Pentecost and many others).  Never did any saint seek for fame or worldly renown for this gift.  St. Dominic even charged one of his monastic brothers to keep secret an instance where they spoke in tongues until the saint died “lest the people should take us for Saints who are but sinners.”

Where is this spirit in the Neo-Montanists of today?  Nowhere.  Their acts are never done in secret, are never done for the intents of converting those who they cannot communicate with, and often result in the weaker of them having ecstatic flights of imagination with no spirituality whatsoever.

And, what of the excuse, “But it is approved by the Church!  You have to accept it!”

Are we bound to accept that the act of digging up a corpse to put it on trial is a good one?  Were Christians ever bound to kiss the Q’ran, murder our enemies, set up “vigilance councils” in our parishes to denounce “modernists”, or endorse Arianism just because that was the bad example set by some clerical authorities?  If your mother and father rob a bank, are you bound to follow their lead?

No, it is the duty of a Christian to try to stay true to the objective orthodox truth of the Church.  It is our duty to first tend to the well-being of our own soul and then to resist heresy when we see it.

Stay true to Faith and never let the evils of the world uproot the Charity in your hearts.

Until next time, this has been your sinful vigilante.

Deus Vult

Pharisees and Sadducees

A general misconception about the Pharisees in the New Testament is that they and the high priests were the same people.  Not only is this not true, but the pharisees were in fact opposed to the group to which many of the high priests were aligned: The Sadducees.

Why is this seeming trivia important?  Because the two groups have direct parallels in the Church today.  Indulge me for a bit, if you will, as I explain who these people were.

The Sadducees were a group within Judaism that supported only the written letter of the law and believed that anything beyond could safely be ignored; and what they defined as the “written word” included only the Pentateuch.  They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead,  angels and devils, and many did not even believe in the soul. Paying your dues to the temple and everything associated with honoring/obeying the priestly classes was given highest priority in their interpretation of the law.  Coincidentally, most of them were in some way associated with the temple, the priestly classes, and those who profited when temple dues were paid (or when buying and selling was done in the temple).

In opposition to them stood the Pharisees.  Unlike the Sadducees, their beliefs were not popular among the upper echelons of the temple and priestly classes.  The people in this movement were primarily either non-priestly Jews or “lesser rabbis” (the way Christ was a lesser rabbi).  They believed in the full extent of the law and that it should be practiced without question.  They saw it as their duty to follow the law perfectly as the corrupt Sadducees were not doing so.  They were the protectors of tradition and true Judaism as far they saw it.

Ultimately, what we see in both of these groups is legalism taken to both extremes: minimalism and maximalism.  When Christ enters the scene He takes not the side of either faction, but makes enemies of both.

He throws out the buyers and sellers from the temple, He praises the woman who gives her one drachma over the rich man who gives a generous offer, and He outwits the Sadducees when they attempt the “Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar?” trap.  Christ and his followers are a threat to the Sadducees authority for He declares that the mere letter of the law is insufficient.

At the same time, this holy rabbi shockingly (at the time) does not take the side of Pharisees and denounces them constantly for both their excesses and for missing the point entirely.  Most who have read the Gospels are more aware of the Pharisees than their opponents precisely because of all the times Christ calls them out (“hypocrites”, “swallowing the camel, but straining out the gnat”, the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, and lastly all of Matthew Chapter 23).  This is necessary for, even though there are many holy and good Pharisees, a great many are spiteful angry hypocrites who care only about the external appearance of holiness.

It is no surprise then, that the Crucifixion sees the vast majority of the crowd fully hostile to the condemned Christ.  He has refused to validate their positions and exposed their failings.  He has taken neither of their side and refused to play their games.  For that, He must die.  In this one thing, the Pharisees and the Sadducees manage to find unity.

In our own time, one can see the echoes of these groups.  We must beware the temptation to become a secular Sadducee, worried about appearing Catholic when convenient while putting our true allegiance to the world and our own lazy desires.  We cannot allow a superficial worship of “obedience” to cloud our vision of what is right and what is wrong.  This Lent, we must do more than the bare minimum.

On the same note, let us avoid becoming a Pharisee.  Let us not look down on those who say… go to a different Mass than we do (“I go to a Latin Mass, aren’t I so much better than those Novus Ordo Catholics!” or “Oh God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of Catholics and instead go to a Praise and Worship Mass which is really the true best Mass ever!”).  Let us not let our fasting be a point of pride for us and remember that it is better to be Charitable and not fast than to “abstain from beasts and birds but bite off the head of our brothers and sisters.”

And those of us who know Pharisees and Sadducees in the Church, let us pray for their reform and not hate them as some of them hate us.

Deus Vult

 

The Sacrament of Marriage

When one opens his heart to a woman and prepares to consecrate the Sacrament of Matrimony the third set of challenges they must overcome together (the first being lust and the second being the mutual selfishness of the future spouses) is a seemingly endless routine of diocese-mandated seminars, classes, and meetings. It is enough to tempt one to try to find an agreeable priest and a handful of witnesses in order to arrange a quick elopement. Alas (or perhaps thankfully) the chances of that are almost nonexistent.

So, one is resigned to sit through TOBIT classes (where unmarried speakers are paid to lecture future couples on how wonderful their bodies are), counseling with sponsor couples (theoretically, a much-needed good idea), and NFP classes (where you are taught to plot graphs on the female cycle despite the fact that there are purchasable mini-computers that will do the hard work for you). The process is not without its merits and there are many items that are there specifically to learn from past mistakes (more on that in a moment), but when there are deficiencies… Boy, Howdy! There are deficeincies.

So, with this said, I’m sure those reading are wondering… Where does the Vigilante stand on so-called NFP now that he is preparing for marriage? Considering that a mere three days ago the infamous sexual revolutionary Hugh Hefner met his eternal reward, what better time could there be to tie in my very strongly-held view on NFP with the American Sexual Revolution?

Part 1:  The Myths of Era-ism
There is an ongoing myth that refuses to die in the popular consciousness: That the decade of the 1950s was (if you are on the political right) a pure upright time of perfection, decency, greatness, and the United States at its finest that was shattered instantly by the onslaught of the “dirty g**damnn hippies”; or (if your leanings are far to the political left) that it was a backwards mini-era where McCarthy and an American gestapo-like organization named the “John Birch Society” could lynch anyone as a communist until the Beatles and the flower power of Rock ‘n Roll liberated society from this backwards existence.

What both these ahistorical fantasies ignore is what was going on in the households of regular, everyday, and newly TV-induced Americans who possessed at-the-time unprecedented luxuries at their disposal. In the post-WWII world, gone were the days when a father was forced to parent his son or watch the consequences of not doing so.  Gone were the days when a man would return from work to gather his children around the fireplace to pray and read the Bible as a family. Gone were the days when men could amuse themselves with fruitful hobbies and give good examples to their children to combat the old adage, “an idle mind is the playground of the devil”. The television was the new hobby, the new altar, the new parent, and the new reality of this decadent time.  A man could work during the day, hit the bar with his buds, and return home to his couch where his wife was sure to have cooked him his dinner; and she would dutifully deliver it to him as good loving wives always had done. The difference between this man and generation before him was that he now had all the benefits and less than half the work.

Why did he have to do any cooking or cleaning? That was a wife’s duty! Why did he need to instill an example of religion in his children through example? That was why he sent his kids to sunday school. Why would he need to ever play with his children? They had friends at school didn’t they? Why did he ever need to learn how to discipline his kid or understand his wife’s womanly feelings? They could both take the back of his hand if they ever got too annoying.

And spiritual fatherhood? You mean like priesthood?  Well, good old “Father O’Insert Irish Name Here” has got that covered. He’s good with young boys. Why, he’s even taken a liking to our little Tommy…

The age of Western greatness had ended, it was buried on the battlefields of 1914-1918. The time of Western Man’s fight for survival was finished. He was now to take his place in a hell of his own choosing, as a breathing vegetable.

Is it any wonder, then, that pornography would catch on like wildfire among such males (or males raised by such males) when made commercially available and socially acceptable? In the Parable of the Sower, Christ demonstrates that plants sown will not prosper unless the ground is made ready. In 1953 the ground was quite fertile for Hugh Hefner to launch the project that would make him a household name.

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Pictured: A Playboy subscriber and his family

The sexual revolution had begun. It would take root in the 1950’s with pornographic magazines, under-the-table abortions, and the underground homosexual culture that festered beneath the all-too-perfect image. But it would not achieve a substantial victory until a new twisted perversion of human science (already a cliche in that century by that point): the poison commonly known only as “the pill”. Woodstock did not destroy the bonds of marriage in the average conservative house of the 1960s. The men of such houses were already convincing their wives to poison their wombs, knowing and caring nothing of St. John Chrysostom’s denunciation of this exact thing.

Pope Paul VI would issue the much-needed Humanae Vitae, only to find from the negative backlash within the church that he had been far too late. The smoke of Satan had indeed penetrated the Church. Then Pope John Paul II years later gave a series of talks that would later be known as “Theology of the Body”. It was in the debate over these works that the true deficiencies of marital understanding and teaching among Catholics – both past and present – would be revealed.

Unfortunately (?) this post ran longer than I expected, so I will conclude with Part 2 as soon as I can.

The Dark Vigilante Returns (Apologies to Frank Miller)

I would like to apologize to my readers for the months-long lack of posts or updates. Life has been… interesting to say the least for the last few months. There is going to be a “whammy” of an entry coming that ties directly into these circumstances.

The blog is still up and running so you can expect posts, but it probably will not be on a weekly basis. I think it better to give fewer and more substantive entries than more regular trite entries. I am not NCR, Rorate, or Patheos. This endeavor is the hobby of one man for no profit. I will give posts whenever I feel I have something important to say.

And, as I am preparing to receive a new Sacrament, I feel I must speak.

Pax Christi

Titus 3:9-11

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.