January 1 , 1995
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
For the New Year and for January two magnificent quotes from two great churchmen of the last century, who saw then into the heart of our troubles now. Firstly, from Msgr. Gaume, some words of encouragement for what might seem another daunting New Year:
"See what is happening around you; understand both the signs of the times and things you have been told of, and the terrible dangers threatening you. Seduction surrounds you on all sides: in the laws, in morals, in books, in speeches, in the public and private behavior of the people. The number and authority of Catholic truths is shrinking day by day amongst the children of men. Understand all that well: be firmly convinced that your position was never more critical. Draw the conclusion not that you must withdraw from the world, but that you must keep yourself from evil; and, at all costs, keep what is dear to you from evil. More than in any other time, every Catholic must be a soldier to his last breath. If you have a clear understanding of the formidable trial awaiting you and which you are already undergoing, it will fill you with great courage and holy joy. It is the unshakeable proof of your faith and the rock-solid foundation of your hopes because it is the tangible fulfilment of the prophecies of your Divine Master.
"Did he not say, 1800 years ago, that toward the end of times, the nations would universally apostatize; that the faith would grow so weak that it would give out only a glimmer of light; that iniquity would overflow like an impetuous torrent across the face of the entire earth and that the charity of the great number would grow cold? Did he not say that there would arise a multitude of false prophets, precursors of the Man of Sin; that God would count for nothing; and that at the same time the Gospel would reach all the way around the world? Did he not say that he was foretelling these things to prevent your being scandalized by the passing triumph of wicked men; to prevent your saying in your heart: Christ is asleep; he has given up on us? All these things foretold by God, do you not have the impression of seeing them, at least in part, fulfilled beneath your very eyes? Then have a clear understanding of your position, and lift your head bowed beneath the weight of grief, humiliations and fear. The great struggle against Christ is both the proof of your faith and the dawning of the day of justice, when right order in everything will be re-established, never again to be disturbed.
"Do not content yourselves with seeing all this, but also watch; what I say to you, I say to all: Watch. Many men in Noah's time did not recognize the warning signs of the Flood, nor in the century of Our Lord's death the warning signs of the destruction of Jerusalem: so it will be at the end of the times" ("Where are we headed?", pages 198-200).
To read such words of a French bishop written one hundred and fifty years ago is no sentimental comfort to us today, because superficially, they are not words of good cheer. However, to read them in the United States at the end of the 20th century is a virile consolation, because their remoteness in time and space highlights their abiding truth.
Woe to the sentimentalists! As the chickens of men's unprecedented wickedness come home to roost in this close of our accursed century, such self-comforters will have to step up their wilful blindness to keep pace, until nothing but a miracle can open their eyes, and miracles are owed to none of us. On the contrary, blessed the virile in spirit who prefer to see reality as it is, and who through each New Year they are appointed to live, will know how to "possess their souls in patience”, by concentrating on their duty as it, comes to them day by day, with few expectations (from men) and with even fewer illusions.
The second quote treats of spiritual virility, and is suited to January, month of the Holy Family, insofar as, without even mentioning the family, it puts its finger on the essential problem today undermining the family, the lack of men. Here is how Cardinal Pie said it, again, an ocean away and a century ago:
" ....What a disappointment for mothers to realize that the male they gave birth to is not a man, and will never deserve to be called a man!... Is not ours an age of mislived lives, of unmanned men? Why? ... Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity droops, men droop - look closely, they are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus what do you hear on all sides today? The world is dwindling away, for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men ....
"I do believe: there are no men, where there are no characters; there are no characters, where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands take doctrines, principles, where there is no religious faith and consequently no religion of society. Do what you will only from God will you get men.
"And if you had the misfortune to go seek for the remedy to the country's intellectual and moral impoverishment in a system of education which the children would have to attend without having to be Christians if, to re-build a generation of men, you were to invent schools where nobody was to be absent except God; then such an outrage to human liberty, reason and religion dike would be the final blow, and the country's death warrant".
Notice, dear friends, that the Cardinal concludes on the pernicious effects of a godless public school system, but the real problem he named earlier: the lack of a religion of society. In fact the real religion of modern societies, i.e. the foundation-stone on which they are built, is religious liberty, or the principle that society has no right to interfere with individuals choosing what religion (or lack of it) they like. It is this religious liberty which not only leads directly to a godless public school system, but also, by implicitly equating religious truth with religious lies, discredits all religion and all truth, undermines convictions, and so unmans men - see the Cardinal above.
If Catholics will not condemn a society built on religious liberty, that society will condemn them. By a just punishment it will dissolve the men, their wives, their children and their families. Dear friends, the New Year is in the middle of the 1990's, not the 1950's. Take much courage. The God of Cardinal Pie and of Msgr. Gaume is for real.
May Our Lord be with you through the New Year.
Sincerely yours in Christ,