16 May 2017

In Partibus Infidelium

The Remnant has published a great piece by Anthony Mazzone that pretty much covers all the good and bad of the current situation from a traditionalist, i.e., Catholic, perspective. I thought I would post just a few excerpts, but the whole piece is quite readable. 

It begins by describing the bizarro world in which we live-- inside the Church and inside the body politic:

The Catholic Church is the safe Inn to which our Lord the Good Samaritan has carried wounded humanity. But it continues in a state of accelerating decomposition. To Traditionalists at least it’s obvious that this crisis is not limited to liturgy or even governance, but is a deeper one of purpose and identity. Unfortunately the faithful members of the Church, too, are further divided into tribes: mainstream Novus Ordo, Reformers of the Reform, traditionalists who hold to the 1962 Roman Missal and those who hold to the 1920 Roman Missal with or without the changes in the 1950’s. Can’t we just pray together? Hell’s bells, we can no longer even say the rosary together. Some Catholics will insist on publicly reciting the Luminous Mysteries because they are new, while others resist for basically the same reason.

Switching realms, it sometimes looks as if Christians have lost every battle in the sphere of public life and morality. Oh, if we only had one more Republican Congressman, one more conservative Supreme Court Justice, we will be able to turn things around! I’m sorry, but what ails us as a country simply isn’t curable by politics. The political scientist Harold Lasswell has defined politics as being about “who gets what, when, how.” While this is not an Aristotlelian definition, I think it is true.

The point I am making is that you are not alone in feeling you are riding a roller coaster in Bizarro World. Things have been wrong for so long that we are forgetting what is normal. It is not normal for laymen to parse the spontaneous utterances of a Pope to divine their implications, much as Roman augurs read the flights of birds. It is not normal that the liturgy is among Catholics not an expression of unity but a constant cause of strife and division.

Dioceses that had been lost to the Muslim conquests or had otherwise ceased to be functional have long been characterized as being in partibus infidelium, "in the realm of the unbelievers." We are all living in partibus infidelium now. We can’t escape the fact that any contemporary defender of the mos maiorum (“the way of the ancestors”) is by definition a heretic regarding the naturalistic dogmas of the day.

I realize none of the above is less than obvious. But what is the Catholic response?

Let’s remind ourselves that God, from all eternity, has chosen precisely this moment in history for each one of us to be alive. There is nothing arbitrary in this. Now it’s our turn to respond to the demands of our time as the saints taught us to do: by remaining stubborn rosary counters and rigid restorationists, and doing so not only with hope but with high spirits.

    “You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds....What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can."  -  St. Thomas More

This puts me in mind of the Western Rebellion that Michael Davies wrote about some years ago. Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, completed the first Book of Common Prayer at the end of 1548. The Act of Uniformity of 1549 mandated its use, while the Chantries Act among other things denounced “vain opinions of purgatory and masses.” The response was a massive armed uprising that began in Cornwall and spread to the rest of the West. The Cornishmen took up arms to “keep the old and ancient religion as their forefathers before them had done…” In their list of demands, the leaders of the rebellion stated: “We will have our old service of Matins, Mass, Evensong and Procession in Latin, not in English, as it was done before.” They wished their priest to revert to “his old popish attire and sayeth Mass and all such services as in times past accustomed.”  The rebellion was eventually crushed by a brutality I pray we will never witness in our own country.

    “Tradition does not mean a dead town; it does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive. It means that it still matters what Penn did two hundred years ago or what Franklin did a hundred years ago; I never could feel in New York that it mattered what anybody did an hour ago.” G.K. Chesterton

We are here, where we are, alive at this moment, for a reason-- God's reason, perfectly conceived. So rejoice:

So I suggest we have reason to rejoice now, for a great treasure that was for all practical purposes lost has been found. This treasure is simply the Gregorian Roman liturgy, the most ancient of all rites, which had been handed down virtually without molestation until the present time. This most sublime cultural treasure of the West, the channel of grace to generations, was nearly obliterated by a Church hierarchy which ruthlessly brought all its might and authority to bear against it. Make no mistake: it was a close thing for a while, a true near death experience. However a small group of clergy and laity (whom we now identify as traditionalists), refused to allow the Traditional Latin Mass it to die. Because of them, our Roman Missal, Pontifical, Breviary and all the venerable Roman liturgical books did not become extinct, and with the help of God will not only survive but outlast whatever it is that passes for Western liturgy these days. It would have seemed inconceivable only a short time ago, but now there are over thirty institutes of various types dedicated to the traditional liturgy. There are a small number of personal parishes that use only the traditional liturgy, and increasing numbers of priests being trained to celebrate it. This is not meant to imply that we should be complacent when told: “You got your old Mass now, so shaddup.” No, that’s not enough. It will not be “enough” until the traditional Roman liturgy is installed in every Latin Rite Church in the world along with the rest of the liturgical books, functioning within a society that acknowledges the sovereignty of Christ as King.

Here is something else to be happy about: as Father Time marches on, Vatican Council II is rapidly fading in the rear view mirror along with love beads and psychedelic rock. With its roots in the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1960’s it has become totally outdated, simply not responsive to the problems of the Church today. The documents retain a sort of paradigmatic presence, an incantatory value both to progressives and neo-Catholics who invoke them for essentially the same purpose: a harbinger for a springtime that never comes or a talisman to conjure a blissful future that is always out of reach. Well, no matter how thin you slice it, it’s still baloney.

There is a useful Americanism known as “Plan B.” When you think about it, doesn’t that describe salvation history? God’s original Plan was for mankind to live sinless and without disease of body or soul in the Garden of Eden. But the Fall destroyed that original state of being. It necessitated the implementation of an alternate program, “Plan B,” which is redemption through the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This changed everything, even the meaning of virtue and vice. For example Adam did not have to work, was never intended to weary body and soul for the sake of subsistence. But now a person who avoids work is not a virtuous pre-lapsarian Adam, but simply a bum. Similarly, to call someone a “hard worker” is considered high praise, turning the effects of a curse into a blessing.

Going further, human beings were likewise never meant to sin. So aren’t we all creating our own Plan B whenever we seek mercy through Confession, whenever we respond generously to the needs of others who suffer the effects of the Fall? Endless repetition of the mantra of “mercy” should not harden us to Our Lord’s commission to show benevolence to all living creatures. Of course this is not mercy on the cheap without repentance and rehabilitation. I’m speaking of mercy that arises from the awareness that life itself is hard: hard for all of us in varying degrees. The people we encounter while walking on the street, with whom we interact at the grocery store: we don’t know what burdens these children of God might be bearing. Why not treat everyone with the respect due to their inevitable sufferings, their inherent human dignity? Why pile burdens, even minor ones, upon one another when life on earth itself is quite efficient in doing so? What this means is that at all times we should try to follow the most difficult advice of the Cure of Ars: “Never do anything you cannot offer to God.”

 "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph." These words of Our Lady of Fatima guarantee the triumph of good over evil. Whether this triumph is synonymous with the eschaton or else a intervening period of peace is not definitively known.  But if, as most believe, this triumph of the Immaculate Heart is a temporal period of peace prior to the events of the second coming, what will this look like? I think Mazzone's description would fit very well, for whatever happens in the natural or political order, what does a triumphant Church Militant look like?

Patient reader, whether you buy into the Benedict Option, become a hermit in the woods, move to a traditionalist stronghold in Idaho, choose life in the big city or the suburbs—whatever is best for you—you will still be living in partibus infidelium . Those Rossinian moments will just keep on coming. You are going to continue to wake up every morning to a culture increasingly irrational and decadent, to the sleazy self-serving behavior of our political and social leaders, to a Church hierarchy that lurches between crackpot social theories and Teilhardian poppycock. But do not be disheartened by verbal snakes on a plane! We are going to win this war.

This is what I believe: the traditional liturgy will be universally restored as the primary liturgical form and norm of our faith; the misbegotten Roman Missal of 1970 will become a historical aberration, a curiosity available only in research libraries. Pontiffs will pass down what they have received, prudently govern the Church, and won’t dare disrupt our piety. Our prelates will be holy and modest but have iron in their spines. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if you interject at this point “Do you really know what you’re talking about? Maybe you should just keep quiet.” How can I be so sure? Because I am convinced that this is what Christ our King wants. To adapt an old phrase: “If the King ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” From the Preface of the Mass on the Feast of the Sovereignty of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme King: He will grant us: “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life; a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.”

In conclusion, I can leave you with no better advice than that given after every sermon by Msgr Vincent Giammarino, who was pastor of St Michael’s Church in Atlantic City in the 1950s:

    “My dear good people: Do what you have to do, When you’re supposed to do it, The best way you can do it,   For the Love of God. Amen.”


Long-Skirts said...

A wonderful article!!

Peggy said...

I read that article as well. Spot on!

I am, however, very dejected, disconcerted, dismayed, etc, at the state of our Church and our nation. Francis' destruction of our Faith; the massive war on Trump, duly elected by the People. It's becoming too much. (At least, somehow, MM got his marching orders and is putting a better product on the field. That's something in all this mess, eh?)

I continue to pray for and actively seek employment for myself, in addition to all that.

God bless and keep you and all the faithful.

thetimman said...


The person you are referring to is a loon and I will not give him any attention by linking. Story false and based upon the delusions of his mind. I can't get more specific without committing detraction, though if the word is out enough I could say plenty to defend the good name of those whom he slanders.


Athelstane said...

Thanks for the feedback, Timmman.

I suspected that might be the case.