No matter what some people might think of our parish, there is no regnant idea here of being the sole surviving remnant of true Catholicism, the last of the hardliners on Church doctrine -- theological and moral -- or on the liturgy. The truth is that we try merely to be faithful, as our Lord demands His disciples to be, of all He has given us. I like to think of this kind of conservatism as 'preservatism,' an appreciation and custody of what is most to be valued, rather than a stiff, desperate inflexibility. In fact, those who fit the ideal I believe directed by our faith are often (not always) the most reasonable, understanding, gracious, tolerant, and -- within limits -- accommodating people there are, liberal-minded people of a kind fast fading from the scene. There are, on the other hand, sternly rigid and harshly restrictive, dogmatically closed-minded folk of political correctness for whom there must be unbending conformity to the prevailing opinions of those who set the standard for culturally accepted norms. Those norms -- decidedly leftist -- will not admit disavowal by those upholding the perennial validity of an inherited body of intellectual truths and moral precepts.
There need not be an apology for wholeheartedly embracing the tradition of religious, philosophic, and moral truth. It is a precious inheritance which has been entrusted to our care, to be preserved for successive generations -- to Christians in particular. This legacy obliges those who recognize its worth to safeguard it from any who may dilute or abolish it. With regard to our parish, this means that we continue to teach doctrinal truths, that we covetously preserve our liturgical tradition, and that we insist on enduring moral truths (especially with regard to marriage and sexuality) which are of divine origin and which, for that reason, are irreformable.
What is it that is hapening in our beloved Catholic Church where many of our brethren seem eager to bow to the spirit of a rebellious age, dismissing past beliefs and ways as no longer tenable? More distressing perhaps is their silence in the face of creeping doctrinal novelties and liturgical caprice. Should there not be in a time of great confusion and moral obscurity, manifest clarity about what's true and right and decisive means put forth to preserve it? The mind and heart crave surety and stability rather than vagueness and diffidence, especially from our pope, bishops, and priests, those official guardians and expositors of the deposit of faith and heralds of Christ's Gospel.
There ought not to be doubt about the truths of faith, moral conduct, liturgical propriety and the worth of the apostolic tradition that has been bequeathed to us. It is a cause of wonderment that these certainties can be so readily discarded or adjusted to the spirit of the time -- a restless, ever shifting spirit which must soon forsake its devoted adherents for faddish novelties it has yet to propose.
In the meantime, while temporizing is condoned, those who insist on perennial truth and on tradition are dismissed, ridiculed, or hatefully regarded as enemies of progress. They ought not, however, to entertain doubts about what is right, good, true and beautiful. Confidence comes not from an egotistical estimation of being the measure of truth, but from Christ's indefectible Church which has weathered centuries of stormy controversy over what is true. It is the abiding presence in her of the divinely promised Spirit of Truth that is the foundation of certitude.
"God is our refuge and strength. Therefore we shall not fear even should the mountains tremble. The Lord of Hosts is with us" (Psalm 46). Being sure of God and of His promised fidelity is an anchoring, stabilizing, and healthy way of being a Catholic Christian. Saint Paul sounded a word of admonition to the Ephesians that would well be heeded in our day: "Be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ" (4:14). I wish our parishioners to persevere in this age of anxiety and uncertainty as people who steadfastly 'speak the truth in love.' May you ive tranquilly in this often disconcerting, sometimes exasperating, manifestly troubled age.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Fr. Perrone on the ground of our hope and certitude
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, December 18, 2017)