04 February 2014

Here Comes Nobody?

A longtime reader sent me a link to an article by John Zmirak on the "shame of the Catholic subculture". By way of commentary, I reprint the exchange, below, and the link to the article. The article is thoughtful, and deserves close reading. Whether the commentary qualifies as the same I leave up to you.

Dear TheTimMan:


Hope all is well there in St. Louis. I understand Canon Talarico was recently at St. Francis de Sales. We were fortunate to have him here in Pittsburgh for a weekend the week before he was in St. Louis.

I'd be interested in your take on the article linked to above. I know you're a Zmirak fan.

Keep up the good work.


Dear _______,

Thanks for sending it. It is a good piece. I can't subscribe to all of it, but Zmirak does us the honor of making an in-depth case intelligently, and it deserves a close read and reflection.

Certainly, there is a smaller group of doctrinally faithful Catholics.
Certainly, contraception (and I would argue irregular marriages) is/are the fulcrum issue(s).

His desire for a conclusive ending to the essay implies that handing out Charles Murray books will turn the tide. We are way beyond that point, if such an approach would ever have worked.

And his asides to rap on the head those he thinks are self righteous are a distraction-- not because we're not self-righteous but because we're not trying to be self righteous. In other words, reminding "the remnant" as he calls us not to be smug and insular is a good admonition, but his manner assumes we don't know that already, and leaves Zmirak as the arbiter of who is and isn't sane, or holy, or smug, etc. --a little too playing-to-the-publisher.

In short, he's largely right, and what I'm about to say doesn't change the fact that we still have the obligation to evangelize. But I can't see a turnaround from here to the state of things he paints --call it his private A.D. 1957-- unless there is extraordinary Divine intervention. By that I mean Fatima, or something more eschatological.

Wait, there could be one more Divine action that could do it. Allowing mass persecution of the remnant that spurs the consciences of the rest.

God knows better than I do, but those three seem to be the only ways out. The Church cannot and will not fail. How big (or small) it will be at the end is not part of the guarantee. That is the smaller, purer Church Pope Benedict described, whether he meant it in that sense or not. Don't ask me to interpret "neo-Pelagian immanentism" in that context. It's beyond me.

Thanks again for the article, a good reminder to keep evangelizing and not to lose hope. It's one of the reasons I love the Institute. I never get that "we're better than the Church" vibe from them. And frankly, I don't often see it anywhere in traditional circles. But with the Institute, I see the joy of the faith, and charity, and hope, and that desire to evangelize with the truth and charity inseparably linked. Not saying that it isn't the case elsewhere, but with the Institute of Christ the King it is palpable.

My own conscience seems to be schizophrenic-- half lax and half scrupulous. Veritatem Facientes in Caritate is the remedy for both halves.

Now that I've reached the end of what I thought would be a quick thank you note, I think I might post it (withholding your name of course) with a link to the article, as a commentary on it.

Having just celebrated the feast of St. Francis de Sales, it is good to remind myself to be faithful in the small, daily duties, calling on the Divine Assistance, and the thus prepare myself for larger duties if God should send them.

God bless you and your family this New Year.


The Shame of the Catholic Subculture, by John Zmirak

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