I didn't take last night's loss too badly, because I immediately reflected on the fact that a very flawed team took its measure of talent and circumstance and still nearly went all the way, just a year after losing the second best player the team ever had, its manager, and several key players to injury. Count your blessings, I said to myself. How many fans in other cities would take the last thirteen months in exchange for a lifetime of disappointment (yes, I'm talking to Cubs fans)? And the situation in St. Louis, baseball-wise, looks good for the foreseeable future.
Because as a Catholic matters of the temporal world always provide fodder for the spiritual life, if we just look at them in a different way, the above reflection made me think about the state of the local Church. Principally, I reflected on the loss of our "manager" and "key players" in the last several years, and the effect their departure has had on the local scene.
It is no secret that I greatly prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and the traditional modes of Catholic practice in general. It is no secret that I greatly admire Cardinal Burke and his work here in revitalizing the faith. It is no secret that I love St. Francis de Sales Oratory and the work of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
Between 2004-2008, so much good was done on so many fronts of Catholic restoration in this Archdiocese that it was hard to keep track. Not only did the traditional Mass Apostolates grow, receive new and bigger Mass locations, and attract scads of new members, but in every area of the Church there was measurable improvement. The seminary became a beacon of vital, orthodox teaching, with growing numbers of seminarians-- particularly from this Archdiocese. Devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart were consistently encouraged. The tenets of the faith, and the laws of the Church were defended against heresy, schism and dissent. The flock was shepherded by a caring shepherd who did not live in the world of ambiguous formulations of the teachings of Christ-- he stood by the "hard sayings" that make up part of the "easy yoke" and "light burden" of the faith.
Cardinal Burke's policies defended the faith, provided clarity, and embraced the whole of Catholic Tradition. His policies were vindicated by the actions of the Holy Father. Cardinal Burke was ahead of the curve on the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. He was ahead of the effort (late in coming as it was) to hold Catholic politicians to their faith in the exercise of their offices and to stand up to the anti-Catholic secular government.
Because he led, the faithful followed. Because he was faithful, he was attacked.
But Catholics were grateful for their shepherd, and I for one started this blog to do whatever small part I could to defend and support him. Over the years, this blog has done some good, and some bad, and has mostly been lame. But I don't regret starting it or writing it.
Since the Cardinal's elevation and departure for his post at the Apostolic Signatura, the momentum has waned a bit. Mr. Bozek continues to draw his check in a Church that is not his. Cardinal Burke's enemies in the press, the community and (unfortunately) in the Church have lost their timidity. The seminary has lost key faculty and there is a drop in local vocations. Though the traditional Mass Apostolates remain and are still growing, the rate and momentum of growth are less.
The Burke reign was like a powerful and refreshing wave that hit the beach, seemingly out of nowhere.
Waves hit the shore, then recede.
It would be easy to point out the lack of the powerful wave these days, just as it would be easy for a Cardinals fan to focus on last night's loss and the departure of the old manager and key players. I know it's easy, because I've done it.
Use this blog as an example: It still gets an amount of daily readership that is humbling to me, and which boggles my mind. But when Cardinal Burke was here, and when the growth of the traditional Mass really took off, the regular readership was about double what it is now. Moreover, my energy and desire to keep writing it were about ten times what they are now-- no doubt you've noticed.
And back then Saint Louis was not only relevant in the current events scene of the Universal Church, it was actually a beacon of hope. A leader. A light to others. In addition to more empirical measures, I personally know many people to came to live in St. Louis just because of the excitement of what was happening here. Some have now moved on, each for reasons unique to them, I guess. And St. Louis has resumed its role as a walking "slow news day".
It is easy to complain. It is easy to point out the wave that is gone.
But I think that is not the right way to look at it. And it is time for some gratitude.
When the tide is rising, each wave that hits the shore does recede. But the next wave hits higher. And if you move back to your spot on the beach without taking this fact into account, you will get washed out to sea-- or at least very wet.
Hence, in this time of waiting for the next wave, I resolve to be grateful. Grateful for what we had, yes, but also grateful for what we have now. I came to the Traditional Catholic party very late, and it was easy to be spoiled by the magnitude of recent success. But if you could have told some of my friends who lived through
But more than anything, I resolve to be grateful for what is to come. After all, Christ is victorious. Nothing and no one can stop Him. All that is to come is from His will. And I believe Mary's Immaculate Heart will triumph, as she said at Fatima. I know that the wave that no worldling can withstand is coming; whether there is much or little suffering that we must endure before it comes is irrelevant.
And the Spirit and the Bride say: Come. (Apoc.22:17)
So, I will write on through the days between, and I thank you for reading here. Hopefully we will all be there to witness the better things to come.