By Father Kevin M Cusick
There really is no debate that the Church is in crisis, or perhaps undergoing a series of crises. Some crises come from inside the Church and some from circumstances outside the Church.
Vatican II was a crisis or change, no matter your point of view, that originated from within the Church.
However, Vatican II was at the same time a response precisely to the world outside ecclesial bounds. The trouble with responses is that they are based on perceptions and perceptions are not scientific and differ for each person.
Our responses are always based in part on a mix of emotions and reason. Only a very honest and severe examination can separate the one from the other.
The Church is the Body of Christ in the world, divine in origin and being because of grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Church is also flesh because of her baptized members. That flesh is prone to mortal sin.
The worst afflictions or crises come from within the Church and, among these, mortal sin and scandal attaching to it are the very worst.
This is affirmed by Benedict XVI, in holy wisdom filtered from a long line of popes and sainted mystics and visionaries such as Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Bernadette who is reported to have said “I fear only bad Catholics”.
Yes, there are problems for the Church, but the first and greatest problems for her are Catholics who are not holy.
When a person has cancer there is a crisis afflicting the body which has the potential to destroy life. A doctor will prescribe another series of crises or responses to the cancer in order to reestablish a semblance of normalcy so that life can go on, however differently than before.
Cancer or other diseases cause pain and suffering. Medical interventions cause suffering as well. The patient, with a doctor’s help, must see the pain of treatment as a necessary evil in order to prolong the good of life.
This is metaphoric for the individuals who comprise social bodies as well. However, when a patient is spiritually ill and realizes that the moral pain he suffers results from immoral pleasure or sin, he must be instructed that the remedy involves the will of the patient to avoid the near occasions of sin in the future as well as repentance in Confession.
The medical analogy of the Eucharist as “medicine” for the spiritually weak or sinner breaks down at this point. I have seen the complete rejection of auricular sacramental Confession, even on their deathbed, on the part of those who rightly attended Mass, albeit never on Sunday as a matter of convenience, and consistently received the Eucharist.
I have explained in homilies that Our Lord in the Eucharist is not a med for eradicating all the effects of sin, such as those people take to eradicate the effects of various physical ailments like bad cholesterol or a bad heart or diabetes.
One doesn’t have to cooperate with intellect and will to enjoy the benefits of medication. You simply physically take the pill and it does its work whatever the disposition of the patient.
That’s not how the Eucharist works. Our Lord thus present is grace for those already alive in grace to increase this heavenly foretaste.
The complete neglect of Confession on the part of many of the baptized is indeed a crisis, but its roots are not necessarily found only in changes imposed in the wake of Vatican II.
Whatever the complex picture of its origin it results in those in mortal sin, forgiveable only through Confession, receiving Our Lord in a state of mortal sin, and thereby committing an additional serious sin, as well as uselessly and deceptively going through the motions of holiness.
The worst effect of deception is on the one doing the deceiving. This kind of crisis is a failure of the individual to adapt to the truth. It has nothing to do with the spirit of the age.
Some see crisis for the Church as resulting from a failure to adapt to what is outside of her, to bring the Church into “harmony with the spirit of the age”, as Romano Amerio writes in “Iota Unum”. (page 3)
He goes on,
“It should be remembered in this regard that the Church penetrates the world from its very nature as its leaven, and it can be seen historically to have influenced every facet of the world’s life: did not prescribe even such things as calendars and food? So great did this influence become that the Church was accused of encroaching on temporal matters to the point where a purging or removal of its influence was allegedly needed. The fact is, that the Church’s adaptation to the circumstances in the world is a law of its being, established by a God who Himself condescended to become man, and it is also a law of history, shown by the Church’s continually increasing or decreasing influence on the world’s affairs.” (Ibid.)
The debate about what exactly “aggiornamento” or updating really means in practice rages on.
For Pope Francis it has meant giving to Communion to adulterers, changing the catechism to an irrational exclusion of any recourse at all ever to capital punishment, changing the words of the “Our Father”, the one prayer given by Christ Himself, and officially legislating conferral of the ministry of acolyte and lector upon women.
This is a short list of the DNA alterations in the Church meant to constitutively change the being of the Church Herself in all Her aspects: moral teaching, sacraments, law, liturgy and prayer.
Aggiornamento, for those who are in authority in the church today, means changing absolutely everything except only those very minimal elements which can absolutely be proven to have been required by Christ Himself.
What this means is that, rather than allowing everything in the church to radiate outward from what Christ has instituted and reflected in implementation, we must reverse that idea of radiating Christ and instead radiate the world into the Church, what it thinks, and minimize, reduce only to the barest essentials, what can absolutely be proven by Christ to have been required for salvation.
But perhaps even this gloss is being too generous, because we’ve seen that this can be the wrong pedagogy when you end up giving Holy Communion to adulterers as Amoris Laetitia is clearly meant to do. Pope Francis confirmed this interpretation by inserting a letter stating so from the Bishops of Argentina in the AAS, the Acts of the Apostolic See, which in effect officializes the teachings expressed in documents so inserted.
What does the world offer in example to the Church?
We live in a country that is racing to disfigure itself from one that is open to truth and free to follow it into one that outlaws and persecutes truth. As one example, Catholic evangelizers are being systematically banned from YouTube and other platforms. The Church in some of her aspects seems to be following this very same suicidal path.
Our response must be holiness of life at the parish and family level. Here we preserve life beyond the reach of government funds and government coercion.
We need to communicate with each other. Sunday lunches at my parish following Sunday Mass allow the healthy and holy DNA of the parish to mingle and strengthen each other.
Keep parishes and individuals unmuzzled. Leave room for truth. Stop voting for death and COVID party candidates.
You can’t be COVID and Catholic. Freedom means going with your God-given rights to religious liberty, freedom of expression in Catholic Faith and worship.
Compromised bureaucrats in church and government will not be the heroes when the history of this time is written.
They are characterized by love of power, prestige and self aggrandizement. An office and a letterhead doesn’t mean you are a good Catholic or Christian. We follow a God-Man who had nowhere to lay his head.
Our task is rebuilding the Christian order in the midst of a crumbling civilization. Prepare your children to attend Mass in a barn if need be.
Thank you for reading and praised be the risen Lord Jesus, now and forever.