I have been contemplating a post for some time now on the strategy, or better yet, the attitude, of a Catholic trying to make sense of the current turmoil. Something about the duty of daily duties as a substitute for dramatic and immediate successes. The way things are going, I thought it a bit ambitious to discuss the "joy" of daily duties.
But Canon Wiener's sermon on Sunday has me thinking about a discussion of the duty of daily joys.
In discussing with a friend the other day the lack of support for a traditionally-minded Catholic family coming from the top of the hierarchy of the Church, I tried to articulate my feeling that what is happening to canonically-regular Catholics who actually believe the faith is the worst sort of persecution: the persecution of neglect.
Consider, the SSPX and those beyond them-- they are used to the current state. I won't speak for them, but guess that the current confusion and environment of novelty is something they would maintain has existed almost unabated for fifty years. Perhaps the last pontificate would be considered a breather from that. Perhaps. They feel actively persecuted for the faith.
The heretics who consider themselves "progressives" within the Church feel vindicated. To them, they must feel that again (after a brief and bitter persecution of someone actually expressing an opposite opinion) they are on the right side of history, along with Marx, Boff, Jesus and all the other revolutionaries. They feel no persecution except from the 1%, however they define it.
The professional Middles are good either way, of course. They are never persecuted within the Church, though sometimes outside it. They read the latest press reports of what the Pope says and claim they agree with that. Always did, always will. They are always on the side of the moment. We have always been at war with East Asia.
The "canonically regular", or "Ecclesia Dei" communities, what once would have been called by some the "indult communities", well, pardon me if I speak about them. I am most familiar with them. We are in a situation that previously existed roughly from 1988-2005. And while that situation is not new, remember that these communities have seen rapid growth, especially in the last 8 years or so. So much that many of the faithful who belong to these communities are now experiencing for the first time the sensation of not being in favorite status in Rome, of not being on the cutting edge of restoration, of not being particularly welcome away from the crazy table anymore. Not aggressively curtailed yet (if one is not a Franciscan of the Immaculate, anyway), but more like just being ignored. Neglected. We are irrelevant.
Obviously, not being persecuted is a pleasant feeling. On the other hand, being aggressively persecuted can feel the next best thing. You KNOW you are being persecuted, you KNOW it is for Christ, and it pulls you through. You can glory in it, in a sense--which is the great danger, because the devil can tempt us even as he kills us, if you get my drift.
But being ignored or suffering benign neglect has none of the pleasant sensations of either. There is little glory in it, though it requires the perseverance of the persecuted. Those who lived through any portion of 1970-2005 while trying to preserve the traditional understanding and practice of the faith know this state. But, like I said, many are now getting this for the first time, and want to be reassured.
Why? Why is this happening? Am I in the right place? What was Pope Benedict thinking? There must be a PLAN behind all this. Right?
Which leads me to Canon Wiener's sermon. The topic was Gratitude. It struck me that gratitude provides the glue, the reason, the motivation we need at this time.
I think it is in being actively grateful to God that we can best steer through the current doldrums and do His will. It is in being grateful that we will find the daily joy of our duties. We have been given so much. It is pride to look to outsmart the daily grind. We must be patient, and wait on the Lord.
Though problems obviously remain, it is undeniable that access to the Mass has increased around the world, especially in this country. In St. Louis, there are at least three places where the Mass is celebrated in the ancient rite every single day. And if you are so blessed as to have St. Francis de Sales Oratory, so ably manned by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, how can you not be grateful?
The best way to secure future blessings is to be grateful for those that God has already given us.
St. Francis de Sales says it well, as usual. I leave you with this prayer because this great saint speaks to us, right now, on how to handle all of this. In gratitude we can find peace and joy:
Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence as they arise. God has guided you thus far in life. If you hold fast to God’s hand, you will be led safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, God will carry you lovingly in his arms.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same eternal father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day of your life. Either God will shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations. Amen.