February 1, 2003
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
One amongst a thousand marvelous sayings of St. Augustine is the principle, "In things certain, unity; in things doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity". If there were in the Catholic Church today little confusion, there would be much certainty and we could expect much unity, but since there is much confusion and much doubt, surely we must allow for a corresponding degree of liberty. Speaking for myself, I am sure that the Society of St. Pius X has the long-term solution to the Church's present confusion. The confusion comes from the attempt to mix Catholicism with the principles of the modern world. The solution is to denounce those principles and to refuse even the least mixture. Now one cannot expect all Catholics to understand that, or to accept it, in the twinkling of an eye, but it behoves me to explain patiently why I am so sure the SSPX is right. Let me then gently answer a recent editorial by a - to all appearances - honourable priest in a - to many appearances - honourable monthly Catholic magazine in the United-States. I could name both, but in order to stick to the issues, let me leave out names.
"Souls are the only issue", says the editorialist, Fr. J., and because of two recent experiences in which he saw souls being hurt, he made in his editorial a two-edged appeal, to the authorities in Rome on the one side and to the Superior General of the SSPX on the other, to come to an understanding. The first experience was in Rome, where Fr. J. saw a young Fraternity of St. Peter priest being at the last moment forbidden to celebrate in St. Peter's Basilica an early morning Tridentine Mass for a Latin Mass pilgrimage. The second experience was in Ridgefield, Connecticut, where after an SSPX priest in our Retreat House had celebrated the funeral Mass for a devout girt to whom both he and Fr. J. had ministered, Fr. J. found himself being invited by the priest to conduct the burial ritual at the graveside, which he gladly did.
So Fr. J.'s editorial appealed to Rome to grant to traditionally-minded Catholics a canonical structure which would protect them from harassment by diocesan personnel who feel threatened by any manifestation of pre-Conciliar spirituality. And on the other side the editorial appealed to the SSPX's Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, to consider very seriously the Pope's offer to the SSPX of a "universal apostolic administration". Fr. J. suggests that Archbishop Lefebvre would have accepted such an offer, because "souls aren't the real issue; they're the only issue".
Dear Fr. J., yours is, if I may say so, a noble appeal. You surely grasp the primacy of souls, and the value of pre-Conciliar - meaning Catholic - spirituality. But have you grasped the full depth of the religious war - no less - raging now for 40 years between Conciliarism and Catholicism? Roman or diocesan Conciliarists are of course perfectly free to present to you their side of the case, and they may persuade you that the SSPX and those who think like it are proud, intransigent, divisive, lacking in charity, etc.. But let me here present to you the SSPX's understanding of the matter. And let me start with a parable, from arithmetic.
In olden days, everybody used to think that two and two made four, to the point that nobody even doubted it! But then came modern science, engineering, technology and computers, and people began to doubt the old-fashioned arithmetic. It was, they came to feel, very narrow and limiting and uncreative to think that two and two could only make four! On the contrary it was broad-minded and progressive and up-to-date and altogether more free to think that they might make five, or six or why not - sixty-seven! So one fine day all the arithmeticians woke up to discover that they felt that two and two could make any number they wanted them to make! And since the arithmeticians were all into this New Arithmetic together, then to enjoy their new freedom together, they threw a great party, and they rejoiced exceedingly in their total liberation from two and two making exclusively and only four! What a feeling of freedom!
But then an unpleasant rumour arose amongst them: there was in the boondocks an old arithmetic teacher, named Back Ward, who would not go along with the New Arithmetic. He was apparently still insisting that two and two could only make four!" Hey, he's going to spoil our fun", they said. "He must join in the party!" So they sent a delegation to Back Ward, to bring him around. Whereupon the following conversation ensued: -
Del: Hey, Back, what's wrong with you? Join in the fun! The whole world is now arithmetically free, except you! We're enjoying ourselves! We're in tune with the modern world! Why are you raining on our parade?
B.W.: Arithmetic is a question of truth. Two and two can only make four.
Del.: Of course it is a question of truth! We all know that! And we all know that two and two make four. But now we know that they can make five or fifteen as well as just making four! We have broadened truth!
B.W.: But truth is what it is, independently of all of us arithmeticians. None of us can make two and two equal anything other than what they equal.
Del.: Of course truth is what it is! But what it is broader now than what it was. We have freedom today!
B.W.: But truth cannot change, nor can it be changed.
Del.: Of course truth can't be changed! But we're not changing it. We are merely discovering an extra dimension of truth that modern times have revealed. After all, we're no longer peasants!
B.W.: But two and two can still only make four!!
Del.: Of course two and two make four! But can't you get it into your head that at the same time they can make six or sixty? Computers today can work wonders!
B.W.: Look, if you say two and two can at one and the same time make four or five or six, then you are completely dissolving arithmetic! No number is then what it is, it can be any other number, you have total confusion!
Del.: You think we're confused? We're liberated! We're H-A-P-P-Y!
B.W.: Oh, go to - Heaven!
Del.: Now, you're not being nice. Be careful. If you're not nice, if you don't join us, then we may make things nasty for you!
B.W.: Be my guest. I would rather think straight on my own than think crooked with the whole world.
At which point the delegates gave up trying to persuade Back Ward. But they were resolved in their own minds that he should not be allowed to continue to rain on their parade, and already on their way home they were planning sticks (and even carrots!) with which to bring, or force, him over. And the sticks and carrots continue to this day!
Dear Fr. J., between Conciliarism and Catholicism lies the gulf that lies between two totally different ideas of truth. The gulf could not be deeper. And when the Conciliarists - like, surely, our present Pope - sincerely believe that they believe in Catholicism at the same time that they also believe in Conciliarism, that proves that they have no real grasp of Catholicism, just as the arithmetician who believes that he believes that two and two make four, even while he also believes that they can make five or whatever, proves that he is a dissolver of arithmetic with no understanding at all of what makes arithmetic.
Of course, that two and two making four EXCLUDES two and two making anything else is clear to anybody with a grain of common sense. It is, admittedly, less clear that the Nicene Creed excludes Conciliarism. But - one clear example -Pope Pius XI's "Mortalium Animos" excludes today's ecumenism. Yet today's ecumenists do not think so! "'Mortalium Animos' was valid in the 1920's", they will say, "but not from the 1960's onwards". In other words, Truth swings with swinging decades!
Fr. J., are you getting a glimmer of the problem? The Second Vatican Council rests upon principles so opposed to the Catholic Faith that for a Catholic to believe in that Council is like an arithmetician believing that two and two can make both four and five, either at the same time or alternatingly. But to believe such a thing, even alternatingly, is to dissolve arithmetic. Similarly to believe in the Council, even a little bit, is to dissolve the Catholic Faith.
Now all of today's Romans that have any clout believe more or less in Vatican Two. Therefore they have all more or less dissolved the Faith in their own heads, and they are - with however good intentions - dissolving it in the heads of all Catholics world-wide who are following and obeying Rome. The problem could not be more grave, because this dissolution of truth, at a supernatural or natural level, rots the mind. Whosoever accepts Vatican Two will end up losing his mind, while still persuaded that he is being Catholic, following the Pope, etc. etc.. And who loses his mind is well on the way to losing his soul. It is all about souls!
You may ask where all this began, and how it ends. It began, let us say, 700 years ago, in the High Middle Ages, when men began to detach their minds from reality and attach them to fantasy. The process took a giant step forwards with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). St. Pius X said, "Kantism is the modern heresy". In brief, Kant makes truth no longer objective, but subjective, depending upon man's subjective desires or perceptions.
And where does it end? In my gentle opinion the process is today too far gone to end in anything other than a gigantic reality check, human and/or divine. A human World War III is at our doors, but as WWI and WWII were not enough to make modern man change course, so one may doubt whether even a cataclysmic WWIII would bring 21st century man to his knees. In which case the Lord God Himself may well intervene, because the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart promised by our Lady at Fatima and still to come suggests we are not yet at the end of the world. But her Heart cannot triumph amongst Kantians. That is why God may intervene. When in the time of Noah He cleaned up mankind with the Flood, He promised He would never use water again for that purpose. I conclude that Kantism will be cleaned out of the Catholic Church by a deluge of fire...
Dear Fr. J., do read the enclosed letter of Bishop Fellay. He does not speak of a deluge of fire, but he does ask the key question: if Rome wants to offer to the SSPX the most magnificent and suitable of "apostolic administrations", would they found it upon the shifting sands of Vatican Two, or upon the Rock of Peter? That says it all, in a nutshell. The SSPX must wait for Romans to climb back onto the Rock of Peter. Until then, we must pray and do penance. Pray especially the true Mass and the Rosary, do penance especially in Lent, coming up.
May God have mercy upon us all! Dear Friends and Benefactors, always, thank you.
+ Richard Williamson