cult of mediocrity


Disneyland

Brits who have visited the United States are usually familiar with the “I’m Irish!” phenomenon. The bewildered Brit is usually told this by a very American seeming person on the strength of a grainy black and white photograph of a great-grandfather who may or may not have been wearing a green item of clothing. This flimsy evidence is then used to justify a bewildering series of observances involving plastic leprechauns, green lager and corned beef that seem to have almost nothing to do with the fair Hibernia of actual experience. Of course, the Irish (particularly in the Republic) do tend to connive at this phenomenon, however disparaging they may be in private, as it pays serious financial and geo-political dividends.

Even more irritating for an English Catholic is the expression of admiration by American Catholics for the ‘wonderful’ Anglicans. Who are apparently ‘so English’ despite the fact that the English people (Catholic, Non-Conformist, godless and even many of the Anglicans themselves) have always held the absurd Anglican confection in contempt as a cultural substitute for Christian faith invented for the political, financial and sexual convenience of Caesar. As Tolkien put it “a pathetic and shadowy medley of half-remembered traditions and mutilated beliefs”.

One of the very few positive aspects of the “I’m Irish!” and ‘wonderful Anglican’ phenomena is that they prepare you psychologically for the even more ludicrous phenomenon of the American ‘Greek Catholic’. Usually we are talking here about ‘Ruthenians’ although the individuals in question often have no idea that the churches they frequent are, or were once supposed to be, Ruthenian. In this case there is seldom even the pretence of any ancestral or cultural connection to Eastern Europe. Mention of Uzhgorod or Mukachevo is met with blank stares. The best one can hope for is a nervous defensive supressed grimace from someone (perhaps a cleric) with a vague sense that he is supposed to have something to do with these places. Often, ironically, these ‘Greek Catholics’ actually are Irish (or at least of Irish descent). Often too one finds they are former Protestants who the eviscerated post conciliar liturgy and a residual desire to be their own magisterium has sent on a trip to Disneyland invent-your-own Byzantium.

Any ‘real’ familiarity the plastic-Byzantine may have with Byzantine tradition begins and ends with the schismatic ‘tradition’ of the ‘Orthodox’. They have read a few books by Kalistos Ware and are now ready to tell you all about what ‘we Byzantines’ do in ‘the East’. The music is terrible. A friend said to me in shock after visiting an American Greek Catholic church “I didn’t realise it was possible to do the Divine Liturgy badly”. Even more terribly they have attempted to create a Novus Ordo Divine Liturgy where the first third of the rite is abbreviated into a single paragraph and the veneration of the Gospel is thrown in as a coda to its proclamation.

The most dreadful thing of all for those who know and love actual Greek Catholics and actual Greek Catholicism is the veneration for and identification with the schismatics. Real Greek Catholics have preserved the flame of Byzantine tradition through centuries of persecution. Often their parents and grandparents have been imprisoned, tortured and killed by Communist and Tsarist authorities inspired and encouraged by the ‘Orthodox’, often too they have had to fight physically to retake their stolen churches from the schismatic Soviet stooges. Imprisoned Greek Catholic clergy were frequently offered their freedom and great advancement if they would only conform themselves to the schism. These are the descendants of the converts of Cyril and Methodius and of the people of Volodymyr, of the Romans who have lived and endured for centuries under Muslim domination in the Middle East. To now be told by some Anglophone colonials in fancy dress that they fall short because they insufficiently resemble Muscovite upstarts and Hellenic nationalists is impertinence and vulgarity that beggars belief.

Perhaps this vindicates the traditional disapproval for promiscuity of rite. There are many reasons why this may be best avoided but this obscene invention and appropriation (not to say desecration) of tradition is not the least of them.

Is there any remedy? Yes! Fasting, history lessons, penitential pilgrimages to Uzhgorod, the repudiation of all Agonyclite tendencies, singing lessons!, the restoration of the Filioque to the Creed (if they are Ruthenians), learning Old Slavonic, shredding their awful gender inclusive bowdlerised translation of the Liturgy, zeal for the true faith, horror of schism!

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Many believe in or claim that they believe in and hold fast to Catholic doctrine on such questions as social authority, the right of owning private property, on the relations between capital and labour, on the rights of the labouring man, on the relations between Church and State, religion and country, on the relations between the different social classes, on international relations, on the rights of the Holy See and the prerogatives of the Roman Pontiff and the Episcopate, on the social rights of Jesus Christ, Who is the Creator, Redeemer, and Lord not only of individuals but of nations. In spite of these protestations, they speak, write, and, what is more, act as if it were not necessary any longer to follow, or that they did not remain still in full force, the teachings and solemn pronouncements which may be found in so many documents of the Holy See, and particularly in those written by Leo XIII, Pius X, and Benedict XV. There is a species of moral, legal, and social modernism which We condemn, no less decidedly than We condemn theological modernism.

– Pius XI

Hamish Fraser once observed that the universal restoration of the traditional liturgy would not solve the crisis in the church. The traditional liturgy was, after all, universally observed before the crisis arose and it did not prevent it. That which was not upheld and which would have prevented the crisis, the absence of which led to the crisis and the restoration of which alone will solve it, is the preaching of the Social Kingship of Christ. However, as Hilary White has recently and eloquently observed the Kingship of Christ exists exclusively for the salvation of souls. When His disciples could not find Him in Capharnaum they found the Lord alone in the hills praying. He said to them “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” As I once heard a very holy monk observe, the word here translated as ‘came out’ is ἐξῆλθον the same word as Our Lord uses in John 8:42 to describe His eternal generation. He went out into the hills to prepare to preach to the people. He came out from the Father in eternity that He might breathe forth the Spirit. He came into the world to save mankind, but that salvation consists in going out from the perishing city as He went out from Capharnaum to share in the eternal processions of the Divine Persons through prayer – the one thing necessary. Only in this light are any temporal benefits (such as the people of Caphernum sought) even benefits. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

St Benedict says “To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.” But he is not addressing would-be statesmen or even the fathers of families, he is addressing would-be monks. The Social Kingship of Christ consists in the reordering and subordination of temporal realities to the supernatural end. Its foundation lies in the recognition of the utterly surpassing nature of that end. Its foundation is in the monastery and the monastery’s foundation is in heaven. Without this all temporal Christian struggle is worthless. The path of restoration proceeds from the monastery through the liturgy to the capitol and back again, but cut off  from its source and destination it will nought avail.

I have had the opportunity over the years four times to celebrate the feast of Christ the King on its traditional date in the United States of America according to the traditional rite. On one of those occasions the Mass was arranged by a lay ‘Latin Mass Community’ who ensured that it was celebrated with gusto. A High Mass with full choir, Blessed Sacrament procession and the solemn intoning of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the other occasions the Mass was offered by the FSSP. Now the FSSP are splendid fellows but the liturgy was not at all celebrated with the vigour and pomp one might expect for the Feast instituted to combat social and political modernism, the consecration was recited in a frankly perfunctory manner (and one occasion omitted entirely), there was no procession and the Blessed Sacrament was not exposed. Most seriously of all there was absolutely no mention made in the sermon of the Social Kingship of Christ on any of these occasions.

Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in order to compel the clergy to preach this doctrine.

[A]lthough in all the feasts of our Lord the material object of worship is Christ, nevertheless their formal object is something quite distinct from his royal title and dignity. We have commanded its observance on a Sunday in order that not only the clergy may perform their duty by saying Mass and reciting the Office, but that the laity too, free from their daily tasks, may in a spirit of holy joy give ample testimony of their obedience and subjection to Christ. The last Sunday of October seemed the most convenient of all for this purpose, because it is at the end of the liturgical year, and thus the feast of the Kingship of Christ sets the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ already commemorated during the year, and, before celebrating the triumph of all the Saints, we proclaim and extol the glory of him who triumphs in all the Saints and in all the Elect. Make it your duty and your task, Venerable Brethren, to see that sermons are preached to the people in every parish to teach them the meaning and the importance of this feast, that they may so order their lives as to be worthy of faithful and obedient subjects of the Divine King.

Hamish Fraser famously described the American Catholic as “a Protestant who goes to Mass”. There is, alas, all too much truth in this ungenerous observation. One is often struck by the way in which American Catholics will say “I’m Catholic” rather than “I am a Catholic” as if ‘Catholic’ were one among a number of flavours of Christian. They will even talk about ‘Catholics and Christians’ as if there were some other sort of Christian or as if Catholics were not Christians or as if there were some kind of generic ‘mere Christianity’ approximating mildly conservative Protestantism upon which Marian devotion and five sacraments and the Real Presence are (hopefully) harmless baroque accretions.

Fr Brian Harrison observes:

[R]ejecting papal authority in favour of one’s own individual judgment was a perfect recipe for religious anarchy. And in medieval Christendom it was much easier to see that fact – and also to see that such anarchy is thoroughly undesirable – than it is in modern Western society. Desensitised after several centuries spent under a socio-political umbrella that shelters multiple coexistent Christian denominations, we have now, as a society, baptised this chaotic anarchy with the bland name of “religious pluralism”, and have come to see it as an instance of normal and healthy progress, rather than of pathological decline from the revealed norm of a Catholic polity that recognises the kingship of Christ. (After all, isn’t such ‘pluralism’ a cornerstone of democracy and a guarantee of individual liberty?) Those of us who are converts to the faith can testify from experience that for modern Protestants right across the liberal-evangelical-fundamentalist spectrum, the co-existence of many Christian denominations or “churches”, while theoretically acknowledged as falling short of the biblical ideal of Christian unity, is for practical purposes taken for granted as something normal, natural and inevitable – pretty much like the co-existence of many different countries, languages, styles of music, or ice cream flavours. From that perspective it is precisely “Rome” that appears as the renegade – the black sheep in the Christian fold – by virtue of her “arrogant” claim to be the one and only true Church. And let us recall the full radicality of this Protestant critique. It is not that the Southern Baptists (let us say) object to the aforesaid claim simply because they consider their own denomination, rather than “Rome”, to be the one true Church. That would basically be the same kind of objection that many claimants to this or that national throne have made over the centuries against rival claimants: “It is not you, but I, who am the rightful king!” No, the Protestant position cuts much deeper. It is like objecting to someone’s claim to the throne of England on the grounds that no such throne exists! It’s like protesting that anyone at all who claims to be England’s rightful ruler is ipso facto an impostor and potential tyrant whose pretensions must be firmly resisted! For the common position now shared by Protestants is precisely that no single Christian denomination may claim to be the Church founded by Christ, and, therefore, that no leader of any one denomination may dare claim the authority to make doctrinal or governing decisions that bind all Christians. Rather, it is said, each denomination should respectfully recognise many (or even all) of the others as being true, that is, real, “churches”, and so limit itself to making the modest claim of being preferable to the others in one way or another – for instance, by virtue of possessing what it believes is a better understanding of Scripture. In other words, the different organised “churches”, according to this ecclesiology, are seen as being in this respect pretty much like banks, schools, cars, brands of toothpaste, or any other sorts of commodities and services. It is considered legitimate to promote one or other as being of better quality than the rest; but just as it would be outrageous and beyond the pale for Wells Fargo to claim seriously that none of its competitors is truly a bank, or for General Motors to claim that nobody else makes real automobiles, or for Colgate ads to proclaim that what you’ll get in tubes of other brands is not just inferior toothpaste but fake toothpaste – so Protestants right across the liberal-conservative spectrum consider it theologically outrageous and beyond the pale for any single Christian denomination (read: Roman Catholicism) to claim that it is the one and only real Church.

The analogy of a disputed throne versus ideological republicanism is quite apt. The nonsense that legitimate governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed” goes hand in hand with nominalist contractualist ecclesiology. It is this Protestant vision and only this vision that could make sense of an intended adherence to the Gospel and a simultaneous acceptance of the ‘separation of Church and State’ as desirable for its own sake. The superstitious awe in which the citizens of the USA are expected to hold the Freemasons and Deists who composed their constitution and Declaration of Independence forbids the very idea of taking an axe to the First Amendment. American Catholics are expected to fly the flag of the US in the very sanctuaries of their Churches. This is extremely rare to non-existent even in countries that are or were formally Catholic, but this is the flag of the first western polity since the Edict of Theodosius in 380 to withhold recognition from Christ and which substituted the five pointed star for the Cross on its flag. This secularised banner is often, even in churches, hoisted on a staff surmounted by a golden eagle, the very symbol the Labarum supplanted and which was employed to desecrate the Holy of Holies in 70 AD.

Between the World Wars liberal economics and politics seem tired. The world was torn between totalitarian ideologies that demanded the whole person. The Church thrived in this context with an integral vision of God and man that answered all the aspirations of the human person in freedom and ranged her against “the modern world in arms”. The Leonine formula of indifference to the form of regime but implacable insistence on the conformity of the civil order to the Divine and Natural Laws made vast strides against Modernity. In the wake of the Second World War the USA was left as the hegemonic power and the ideology of its founders has eaten away at the Church. The ‘Boston Heresy Case‘ was a disaster as the quasi-condemnation of Feeney’s garbled version of explicitism seemingly justified the complete surrender of the American church to the spirit of Thomas Jefferson. The United Kingdom, born of the revolution of 1688, has this paradoxical advantage: the sovereign is subjected to a religious test. The Jacobites, like the colony of Maryland, became entangled in the dubious cause of religious liberty. The rectification of the British constitution, upon the conversion of the Monarch and the people, requires only a single Act of Parliament.

Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux!

Some original footage of the asteroid (cf. Miss Hilary White, passim)

http://www.nbcuniversalarchives.com/nbcuni/clip/51A06327_s01.do

What a joke. Islam is code of belief and practice that one may adhere to or reject in whole or part. If I wish to disapprove of Islam and (in proportion to their freedom in the matter) its adherents I bloody well shall. In regard to persons who have no responsibility for their adherence to Islam (minors, the simple, the inculpably ignorant and oppressed women) I might still oppose their emigration to the United Kingdom simply because the bankrupt secular culture of the UK cannot fail to be overwhelmed by the infusion of multitudes from a coherent and vigorous rival civilisation. Disapproval of someone’s ethnicity on the other hand is irrational and immoral. The very equation of anti-Semitism and ‘Islamophobia’ is anti-Semitic. I do not suppose Jeremy Corbyn disapproves of Jewish ethnicity per se. He disapproves of the existence of the state of Israel. The problem now is that the state of Israel is a fact. To position ‘I have nothing against the French. I just want to deport them to Canada and partition their country between Germany and Spain’ is difficult to distinguish from just being anti-French. The Islamic vote upon which Labour is increasingly dependent does indeed disapprove of the ethnicity of the Jews per se and adheres to a religion which looks forward to the eventual genocide of all Jews who do not convert to Islam. I, along with Western Civilisation as a whole, accept the great bulk of Judaism as true and good but lament the failure of its adherents to recognise the Messiah. Corbyn rejects Judaism as a whole and finds the ultimately supernatural basis of its claim to the Holy Land deeply offensive. This is the ultimate root of non-Islamic left-wing anti-Semitism. The Left are the vanguard of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is a movement to eliminate divine revelation as a source of public policy and public law. The destruction of confessional schools, of the diplomatic recognition of the Holy See, the National Anthem, the Coronation and the state of Israel, are necessarily essential aims of the Left. Islam may not be their ideology of choice but they sympathise with its internationalism and its willingness to use violence to advance its cause. As Burke said of them in the first flush of their victory “to those who have observed the spirit of their conduct, it has long been clear that nothing was wanted but the power of carrying the intolerance of the tongue and of the pen into a persecution which would strike at property, liberty, and life.”

Former top SNP advisor Alex Bell has exposed the complete incoherence of the  SNP plan (lower taxes + higher public spending + free money) for Scottish Independence. Plunging oil prices are putting the delusions of the National Socialist Scottish Workers Party into sharper and sharper relief.

“Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.”

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

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