Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"Do You Want To Be Right, Or Do You Want To Make Money?"

The title of this post comes from a common expression on Wall Street, and in investing circles more generally.  It's a maxim about knowing when to swallow your pride and abandon your cherished, failed projects in favor of something else that might work.  It's about the bias we have toward our own precious opinions and preferences even though we've obviously bet on the wrong horse (or the wrong stocks or bonds or real estate).  It is a crass maxim, but one worth remembering.

There are many in the Church today, especially older lay folk and clergy of all ranks, who need to admit their projects have largely been a failure in the past five decades, and they need to honestly ask themselves,

"Do you want to be right, or do you want to see souls re-born in Jesus Christ?"

God is posing that question because the evidence is there for all to see, and they will have to answer to Jesus if they persist in their pride.

Chris and I have walked the streets again for the last three days (joined twice by Jeff and once by Meagan), and we ran into numerous fallen-away Catholics.  These were men and women who were fifty or older, and we know the numbers are even worse among the young.  We are not passing along the faith to the next generations.  Period.  End of story.

Meanwhile God is pulling men and women out of the rubble of our post-Christian civilization, healing them, and then guiding them to robustly orthodox parishes where there is beautiful, serious liturgy (worship), and where the faith is lived and taught in all it's divine glory among passionate friends.  This apostolate is entirely comprised of men and women like that, and such men and women are the Church of tomorrow.  They are deep in prayer, they relish listening and speaking of the things of Jesus Christ and His Bride the Church, and they go to confession every 7-10 days.  They have no time for squishiness or novelty, but desire to walk in the brilliant and bloody footsteps of the saints who have walked before them.

Yesterday I spoke on the streets for over an hour to David, a young man who was raised a Catholic.  He now attends an evangelical presbyterian church, and is orthodox in Christology, Biblical hermeneutics, etc.  In other words, he is a devout, committed Christian.  God pulled him from the world (specifically, from slavery to his computer--more on that in a future post) through a stunning series of supernatural experiences.  In these experiences, David was explicitly warned about the lies of theological liberalism (or Modernism more generally).  This is the disease--in all it's manifestations--that has emptied our churches.  That is why Blessed John Henry Newman famously declared in his Biglietto speech (upon receiving his cardinal's hat),

"For thirty, forty, and fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion."

I encourage you to check out a brilliant and brief "manifesto" on these matters by a spiritual son of Cardinal Newman, Fr. Ed Tomlinson of the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Here is a taste:

We reap what we sow. And the current harvest – spiritually meagre- has been sown since the late 20th Century; I speak of that modernist trend which stripped altars, turned focus from God to man, ripped out communion rails, ended devotional practices, threw away sacred images and embraced the groove of the world. Those who watered down doctrine to appease the world promised us relevance and growth. What bitter irony! God, it seems, will not be mocked. Thus, wherever modernism prevailed, witness decay. The closure of seminaries and parishes, the abandonment of faith in the culture.

What does this say? Why do so many prelates continue with the model that is failing? Is anyone in the hierarchy considering why growth is linked to orthodox witness? Or do they ignore it because this growth is ‘the wrong sort’ and linked to a robust Christian witness which they themselves fear as being too rigid and uncompromising to the Spirit of this world?
Yet despite little encouragement from on high the little shoots of growth continue to sprout. It is like the end of Winter in Narnia. Witness the hunger in younger Christians for a fulsome faith. Be that Extraordinary Rite or Ordinariate or just a more orthodox and faithful interpretation of the Novus Ordo. Such things give me hope. Surely Pope Benedict XVI was right when he recently stated, “God wins in the end.”

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