We who write for and read JungleWatch stand firm in our commitment to rid the poor, suffering Church of the greatest abuses by whatever means are legally and morally available to us. But no matter what anyone says, the removal of the errors and corruptions of the Catholic Faith by the NCW is not and cannot be the end-game. The removal of NCW as the dominating force in the Church on Guam is really just the end of the storm. But how will we start again to rebuild after such a long tempest?
Remember though: Tradition isn't the same as traditions. Traditions are the practices, but Tradition (to grossly oversimplify it) is the entire life of conformity to Christ as lived since the Apostles with all its practices (such as traditions). We don't do it for the sake of being old-fashioned; we do it because it is known for a fact that it leads very quickly to personal sanctification and a peaceful, Christian society.
Apuron personally told me years ago that he brought the Neo to Guam (among other reasons) in order to help counteract the incursion of the Jehovah's Witnesses, SDAs, and Mormons. They, too, should never have stood a chance. Apuron could have called for an archdiocesan year of prayer and fasting, or reinvigorated the apologetics efforts, or a Rosary crusade, with him leading by example, or any number of things (when I mentioned this, he flatly ended that fiesta conversation). But instead, he did nothing but hand off the problem for Kiko to save the day with his panacea. So whether it's his fault or ours or both, that NCW got an invitation, the fact is they were given the keys to the city, and that has caused so much suffering that I am grieved daily.
Or perhaps it’s a really a warning to others and the world of what happens when we become lax. If so, the Good Lord knew we would come back and not be spiritually defeated. So that should give us comfort too.
Either way, this whole experience has been a purification—a way for us to “get it.” On the one hand, Western culture has in a very real sense become pagan all over again with its worship of money, fame, luxury, and impurity (and a literal worship of demons clothed as pagan gods). On the other hand, we have the Neo -types who on the other extreme are so against being of the world that they don’t seem to live in it. For example, they teach that a man being concerned with earning enough to support his family means he makes his family his idol. It rejects the Faith and its practice of the Tradition because that Tradition was fostered in the Christendom that the NCW despises.
But there that middle ground that is not a compromise, but rather the world of the exercise of the Faith. It is that simple, ordinary life of holiness. It’s not monastic and cloistered, nor is it in your face. It’s the day-to-day pursuit of holiness. Yes, it has its own struggles and hardships, but these are offered up to God by each family—the domestic church—and these domestic churches together are what make up parishes.
But that’s another post to come up soon.
So what I'm saying is a return to the Tradition: the unity of our Faith in history, among the Church Triumphant, Church Militant, and Church Suffering, through time and Eternity. It’s a return to the Tradition that imbibes us, a return to the real sacramental life, esp daily Mass (remember that?) and monthly (if not weekly) Confession. It’s a return to the Catholic household as it always was with its family Rosary. It’s a return to the life in conformity to Christ in His One Holy Roman Catholic Church.
There’s a variety of things to consider, but I’ll just mention a few for your consideration:
- The installation of a holy bishop. We need a genuinely holy bishop. If that’s such a rarity that we can’t find one, then at the very least an honest, orthodox one who knows how to administer an archdiocese. For myself, I’d personally love Raymond Cardinal Burke (Francis isn’t a fan and wants him out of the way—fine, send him here, I’ll take him…but that’s just me. There are plenty of good men out there who would fit the bill).
- The Return of the Mass as it supposed to be served. While I love the Extraordinary Rite, I’m not talking about that. I mean the Novus Ordo itself served reverently, the way it should be but so often isn't. When the Missal was revised a few years ago, I saw a lot of liturgically revitalized parishes when I visited all over the US. On the whole, I haven’t seen this as much on Guam, but so much work remains to be done implementing the GIRM. Undoing the damage of having everyone stand after receiving communion and not offering thanksgiving by itself took years. Likewise, let there be a simple return to “Do what’s in red, say what’s in black.” On a related note, regularly scheduled confessions before Masses would be a a great help.
- Holy priests. The fact is that we get clergy we deserve; why would God give us holy priests when we reject their holiness and do not seek holiness ourselves? Hence, we must become far holier than we are. Now this won’t happen overnight. But, in the end, if the priest will not pursue holiness, then a holy people shames the priest into greater holiness, just as he shames us by his example, and that's a blessed thing indeed. Just as a good and holy woman inspires her man to be a better husband, so let us inspire our priests, not with bullying or harshness, and let them see that their example will be ours.
- The renewal of Catholic manhood and family life. Men must renounce this soft, feminine living where they shun virtue and nobility and are ashamed to be worthy of the great honor and responsibility that God has given them. We must teach our young men to cherish the responsibility as husband, father, provider, and guardian of their families; where they are the “little Christ” to their household, suffering for all and reconciling all together; where they show forth the virile strength of the wise and moral life. The Catholic man must love his wife as Christ loves his Church: in purity, nobility, and sacrifice.
- Renewed and reformed Roman Catholic catechesis. This is obvious. NCW made headway in the same way the Jehovah’s Witnesses do—they attack where they perceive weakness, which is in personal knowledge of the Faith. Take a lesson from them: GOOD catechesis is needed. Genuine preaching from the pulpit is a huge start. Likewise, parish-based Bible study led by those who know are informed, regardless of who they are. That said, we have to remember that no one ever went to heaven because they were smart. They went because they were in grace. Catechesis needs to be directed at grace and the holiness that flows from it--not the Protestant knack for quoting out of context.
- Last but by no means least: Justice and accountability. Transparency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I don’t need to know or want to know the day-to-day issues in the chancery, nor the drama or politics that always creep in. I’m certainly not for the democratization of the Church. But after everything we’ve been through, a decent measure of accountability is a must if trust is ever to be restored. We want humble authority over us, not clericalism. The past clerical scandal can be healed, but it takes time.
These are just a few ideas to get us thinking about where we want to go. Pray over these, of course, and whatever is in your heart. But most of all, work for your own holiness. Avail yourself of the sacraments as much as possible. And as one internet priest always say, “STOP SINNING!” If it’s there, remove mortal sin and its occasion from your life. It’s a gradual process, but we all must move forward, praying together and healing together.
Holiness--the conformity to the love of Christ our God--takes time, but it's the effort that leads to Eternity. And all of it is the entire point of the Tradition.
God love you.
Comments are always welcome. These are just a few ideas. Please give input on these and your own concerns.