To Give Or Deny

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As part of my conversion to the Catholic Church, I’ve begun the work of organizing my money to both be more responsible, but also include charitable giving in my budget. In my Protestant past, my efforts to tithe were sporadic and more often than not I found something better to do with my money than the donation plate, even if it meant I was “robbing God.”

However, I have again run into an issue concerning money and the Church. No doubt the Catholic Church is in a weakened state and I confess that though my faith was strengthened by my conversion, it was not strengthened as much as I would have hoped. Weak homilies, video presentations on donating to the local archdiocese during Mass, and immigrant African priests who sing “If you’re happy and you know it” during Mass (yes, really) are just a few of the experiences that have weakened my convictions and make devotion that much harder. Yet, I feel a sense of duty to financially support the Church to which I have sworn fealty.

In this struggle, I find that The Hirsch Files has asked the question of why Catholics have reduced their tithing. One commenter asked, “… why faithfully give money to a group working against your faith?”

So the issue for me is, should I support the Catholic Church in its weakened state knowing that my contributions will mostly likely be used to further the weakness or do I withhold my support?

The first immediate response is a pseudo monastic option where I both withdraw all support by not giving financially nor giving of my time past what is absolutely required. If there is an illness in the Church, than continued financing of it by own hand makes me complicit and a poor manager.

The second option calls me to give in an act of faith, trusting that Christ will correct His Church. From this stance, money and time given are given more for Christ’s sake than the Church’s. Devotion and loyalty are maintained and put into practical action, even in the worst of times.

At this season in my life, I do not have access to Traditional Latin Mass or one of the breakaway parishes that have deliberately worked to resist the modernization and weakness in the Church. So I must engage in the parish I am attending.

Turning toward Tradition and Scripture, I came across the offering of the widow in Luke.

[Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”

I wonder if that poor widow considered the Temple life of that time to be corrupt (as Jesus declared it to be). If she did not believe it to be corrupt then she was giving out duty and faith. But if she did believe it to be corrupt, then her faith in God still shone through and Jesus made note of it. There was something beyond the money that mattered.

So I ponder, should I give my tithe to the Church, knowing it is in a poor shape or should I deny it? Which is an act of faith? Which is true to God?

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Rediscovering Divine Revelation

 

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In the days before I converted to Catholicism I wrestled with a simple, but profound question. Did the Traditions of the Church come from God or from Man? After examining the evidence as well as working through several other philosophical thoughts I came to conclusion that, yes, the Traditions of the Roman Catholic Church did come from God. They have divine origins and were given through divine revelation. And since the Traditions were divine in nature, so were the scriptures that the Church gave the world.

In the twenty-first century, basing one’s core presumptions on divinely revealed knowledge is considered not much different from tribal voodoo men who believe in magical sticks and stones. There is, even among the voices calling for a revised Western Civilization, a sense there may be a God, but man is essentially on his own. The current clash of globalism and nationalism falls into a conflict between atheistic and deistic philosophies, respectively.

These materialistic views of life are not going to be effective in the long-term since it was the rejection of divine revelation that gave rise to the zealous devotion to the sciences which has caused much of the current confusion. Man stopped believing in God and now believes in anything.

Divine revelation is important because it moves the cause of the preservation of Western Civilization from a mere product of genetics and chance to a transcendent calling to a higher moral order. The entire concept of civilization is the work of elevating man from being nothing than an animal driven by primal instinct to being a creature of a higher order, an order that is supernatural and divine.

If there is an underlying question that pushes the pursuit of civilization, it is whether man can survive as an animal. On the one hand, the answer is that man, being a product of genetics, must survive as an animal and to civilize him is to kill him. On the other hand, the answer is that man, being created by divine will, faces a slow decline toward extinction without civilization.

This is more than merely assimilating the concept of God into an already materialistic thought process, as if God was just another category of imagined characters in a narrative. Rather it is the issue of belief, conviction, and committed faith in something that cannot be seen with the eyes or touched with the hands.

Without divine revelation and the devotion of belief in it the push to preserve the West will become just another manifestation of the atheistic thought that has come to dominate the minds of the twenty-first century. It is not enough to save the cathedral for the sake of the architecture and intellectual symbolism. To truly save the cathedral and the civilization birthed by it, man must believe without doubt that therein lies an altar and at that altar he can meet with God.

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Civilization Or Christendom

Civilization or ChristendomAmong the numerous voices advocating for the revitalization of masculinity, dismantling of disproven visions of social engineering, and the restoration of the West, I cannot but help notice that many of these voices are atheist, advocates of unfettered sexual experience, and, sometimes, even homosexual. What there is little of are arguments from a generally Christian perspective and specifically a Roman Catholic perspective.

This is understandable as Christianity in the West is horribly anemic, compromised, and reduced to wandering rebels without a clue. Even the vaunted Catholic Church seems to be doing its hardest to deny the words of Christ declaring that nothing would ever prevail against it. Some effort is being made to assure men that Christianity is not just for women and children, but no effort is being made to deal with the causes of what men believe.

There are two perspectives of the West. First is the view that advocates for Western Civilization. The other advocates for Western Christendom.

The Western Civilization perspective views everything in a timeline that covers ancient cultures and civilization and includes Greek wisdom, Roman ingenuity, Christian morals, and Enlightenment-era advances in science. This perspective is, by its nature, atheistic. There may be invocations of “God” as an abstract religious concept, but no genuine belief in things supernatural is required. Civilization is a product of race, culture, and experience and the rediscovery of a worldview embracing these foundational elements of knowledge is said to be the key to saving the West from extinction.

The Western Christendom perspective also recognizes ancient civilizations as well as the realities of race and culture. However, it holds that a core source of the most important knowledge was given by Divine Revelation. Not only is there a God, but this God gave to Man unique knowledge that he could not have gleaned on his own though merely materialistic means. These divine sources include Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture.

The reason why one view is humanistic and the other theistic began when the historic Western Church was rejected at the Reformation and developed through the Enlightenment where Man discovered permission to  rebel against God Himself. Darwin allowed thinkers to redefine Man’s beginnings. Freud allowed them to redefine Man’s present. Marx redefined Man’s future. The humanist holy trinity was established and the new cathedral began construction.

The theistic view declares that the divinely revealed knowledge is not only superior to all other knowledge, but vital to the survival of Man and the longevity of whatever he may build on that divine knowledge, such as Western Christendom.

At this moment, the two views seek something similar, the preservation of a Western world. Soon, though, the Christian and the atheist are going to have to compete over who will rule a renewed West. Given that Christianity offers a devotion to something divine and this devotion may be the only thing to stop the Islamic conquest of the West, Christendom may prevail. Until then, the West must endure a weak Church caught up in an atheist civil war.

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Don’t Forget To Live

Don't Forget To LiveCultural and political causes are so numerous, there might be a vending machine market for them. The drama of modern discourse is a whirlwind of news, blogs, and tweets that carries enough with it to feed an internet junkie all day every day. At least a video game has something resembling a beginning, a middle, and an end.

There is nothing wrong with believing in a cause or jumping into the debate. A good Catholic is not going to simply sit by and allow matters to run wild without a warning that something is very wrong. In that sense, there is work to be done.

But, there is the temptation to pursue the cause merely for the thrill of the fight. Fevered typing on a keyboard in heated debate with someone somewhere out there on the information super highway easily devolves into a case of virtual road rage.

Writing or Crisis Magazine, Bishop James D. Conley states

My good friend Chris Stefanick, a wise speaker and author, wrote last week that we should “read less news,” and “read more Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” He’s right. We won’t be happier, or wiser, or more peaceful because we consume more of the “age of noise” than we need.

Americans are obsessed with consuming news and controversy because politics is where they derive their identity and morality. In the noise they seek God and fail to find happiness. And happiness is an important facet of the Catholic life.

The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it (CCC 1718).

I’m all for pursuing the cause of a Traditional Catholic faith and for exploring the political theories of the Alt-Right, but these are the effect and not the cause. What I ultimately seek is to find fulfillment as best I can of the natural desire for happiness. Not only that, but to try to point to others where happiness is found and expose the destructive roots of false happiness. The idea of happiness sounds sugary and childish, but that is only because the modern lusts have lied to men about where true happiness is.

As of the writing of this article, America is still essentially a peaceful nation. There are no major wars or disasters afflicting its citizens. This I believe is a grace from God and I want to be grateful for it by avoiding the temptation of obsessive misery that comes from constant pursuit of controversy.

In my desire to fight, I should not forget to live.

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A Truly Unpopular Traditionalism

Unpopular TraditionThe Unpopular Thought

The great spirit of the modern age is one of relaxed morals and especially of relaxed devotion to things ancient, sacred, and supernatural. To be a modern Catholic is to be laid back about those things closest to and most important about the faith. In a moment of needed clarity, Davis M.J. Aurini shines light on why the acknowledgement of Christ is so unimportant in today’s Catholic Church.

It’s used to be that the Church was where you got your sense of meaning, your identity. It was the absolute. Whereas the politics, it’s like your opinion, man. These days we are deriving our identity, our morality, and our sense of valuation from the political sphere. And your religion, like, that’s just your opinion, man.

I have come to believe that a major reason why Catholic identity has moved away from the Roman Church to the American body politic is because many have been convinced of a simple philosophical concept. All things are naturally equal.

If all things are naturally equal, then inequality is a social construct. In this utopian paradigm, claims of superiority are man-made and not in line with reality. The idea that God is greater than Man is an ancient, primitive concept when in reality, it is believed, God and Man are equal. This has been applied to the Church and an erosion of the Church has been the result.

God and Man being equal nullifies the concepts of God judging Man, of sin, and eternal separation. It also nullifies the concept of the God-Man, Jesus Christ being superior to other divinities, such as Muhammed or Buddha. And since Christ is but a god among gods, so the Catholic Church is but a church among churches. Men and Women are but humans among humanity.

(Notice the use of title-case words compared to lower-case words. This is deliberate on my part. We’ve moved from giving titles to superior things to bringing them down into the blandness of common test tube labels.)

Most people I know have no problem with me being a devout Catholic, a Traditionalist resisting the spiritual laziness of modernity through simply taking the faith seriously. However, resisting the modern devotion to equality is tantamount to sin.

Why?

Because, as a Davis Aurini has stated, the moral center has moved from the Church to politics and the defacto moral standard for politics is equality. The noble man is not he who submits to things greater than himself, but rather he who rebels against and tries to pull them down for his own individual benefit.

However, Creator and created are not equal, men and women are not equal (how can they be if men are called to govern his family?), divine revelation and scientific theory are not equal, and Catholic morality and secular politics are definitely not equal.

Yeah, definitely not a popular idea.

Equality As A Poison And Lie

Inequality calls men and women to strive for something greater than themselves, be it a greater morality, a greater devotion, or a greater society. If some things are better than others, than to not strive for what is superior is to accept decline toward the inferior, no matter how far it goes. Equality calls men and women to settle for the lowest common denominator. Alexis de Tocqueville made a couple of astute observations about equality as he toured America in the 19th century:

There are no surer guarantees of equality among men than poverty and misfortune.

And:

Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

What his thinking reveals is that equality does not elevate men. Ultimately, it lowers men, moving everyone to the lowest point. When it comes to kings and peasants, equality does not make everyone royalty. It does, however, make kings into paupers.

Worse is that equality thinking feels like an optimistic utopian dream of the best for everyone, but by necessity calls people into not striving for the best. Doing their best might create inequality over another and so doing as much as the next man is all that is required. It is a competition to get to the bottom instead of the top. Such a mindset makes it quite easy for those who propose equality for the masses to place themselves in positions of elite governance.

And herein lies the madness of the lie. Equality is proposed as a righteous remedy to the evil of medieval inequality while completely ignoring that a newer and more oppressive form of inequality is being established as a handful of elites seek to rule completely over the masses. For the sake of equality, the masses are quite willing to accept a polite and elegant form of slavery.

The Tradition Of Church Supremacy

Restoring the natural and rational idea that not all are equal and that the inequalities of life can actually promote better men is an important aspect of Traditional Catholic thinking. The first place to begin is to adhere to and promote the one, true, holy, apostolic, Catholic Church as superior to all others. The Church of Rome being superior yesterday, today, and tomorrow provides a lasting venue for Christ being superior in the hearts of men. This is something modern churchianity and culture has utterly failed to do.

In my pursuit of Tradition, I have chosen not only to pursuit as deep a devotion as I can, but I am fully convinced that the superiority of the Catholic Church (despite its current weakness) justifies that devotion. Truly, if Christ is superior to me (and I assure you He is) then His Catholic Church is superior to all other claims, regardless of their sincerity.

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What Does It Mean To Be A Traditionalist Catholic?

Young man silently praying at his bedside with his rosaryI will confess that part of the reason I converted to Roman Catholicism was to get away from the splintered and shattered mess that is the American Protestant church. There is a tremendous amount of sincerity, but a sincere blindness to the cracked weakness of their own position in the dominance of modernist sensibilities. However, as I took steps to enter the Church, alas, I was once again faced with the plague of modernist thought and its maddening effects.

Despite this disappointment, I had already set my mind to not just join the Catholic Church as if I were merely joining a club, but to genuinely devote myself to the Church and to fully embrace a Catholic identity. I would either be a Catholic or I would be something else. The idea of being a “nominal” or “lapsed” Catholic is merely a nice way of saying that a man has stopped being Catholic.

Some Catholics have embraced without qualm the modernist innovations introduced in the 1960s and others have not only not embraced the changes, but have, in various degrees, resisted those changes with intense zeal. Of those who are resisting, there is a banner called “Traditionalist.” But the term itself remains ambiguous. Not everyone who desires to practice authentic Catholicism call themselves Traditionalist and some who do call themselves Traditionalist are called extremists.

I knew before I entered the Church that I was going to be resisting modernist thoughts, but I did not know exactly what my resistance would look like. At first I began looking at superficial trappings, the forms, in an effort to create some sort of traditional identity. I had a copy of the Douay-Rheims Bible with a parallel Latin Vulgate, a 1964 Roman Missal, and even prayed “Holy Ghost” instead of the “Holy Spirit.” This, however, did not fit. Something seemed amiss with all of these efforts. Instead of joining the historical Roman Catholic Church, a transcendent identity, I felt I was trying to be an American 1950s Catholic, much in the same way that Protestant churches still read from the King James Bible and herald a 1950s American civic morality.

It felt fake. It also felt like trying to be an anti-Catholic Catholic, going into the Church only to rebel against it. There was a corrosive militancy to the whole thing. It was, in fact, the same tactic that many leftist have used. They join an organization and fein loyalty only to directly challenge the very foundations of the organization. In the depth of my being I knew this was not the way. A man cannot build a better future while clinging to an idealistic past or burning down the present.

I had to go deeper than superficial cultural trappings. There was more than recent scripture translations, new catechisms, the problematic Second Vatican Council, or even the Novus Ordo Mass. As terrible as these things might seem to be, they are in and of themselves superficial. Scripture still contains the sacred words of Christianity, the Catechism still reflects the authority of the Magisterium, and the Eucharist is still given by priests to the laity.

The modernist infection is more of a spiritual infestation, an invisible and silent infection that is tarnishing, in small ways, the magnificence and grandeur of ancient and preserved divine Truth. Modern innovations are rightly perceived as weakening the seriousness and reverence once afforded the Church. However, that is not the same thing as outright heresy nor outright death.

Looking out on the Catholic Church, I saw that the real problems were much more subtle. I saw it in the way some of the homilies seemed all but non-commital to the faith. I heard how many voices in the RCIA program (the teaching of potential converts) openly called for the faithful to be more Christian and less Roman Catholic, something more generic and less specific. I noticed that even though the Missal outlining the rite of Mass contained a penitential prayer (a prayer of confession), it was not part of Sunday morning worship. And I felt that spiritual leaders did not take my sin as seriously as I did.

During an email conversation with Laramie Hirsch, proprietor of the informative The Hirsch Files, Laramie provided me a moment of clarity. In trying to describe the goal of Traditional Catholicism, he wrote:

I suppose to hold out for as long as possible, and perhaps win new ground and converts, so that perhaps one day, the Church will expel the errors of modernism like a rejected tumor.

To hold out sounded like a fine idea. It had the virtue of taking a stand on faith of future redemption without the destructive call to burn everything to the ground (a Protestant trait). Given that the problems are spiritual in nature and more subtle than just texts and ceremonious conventions, I decided to resist, and push back, in spiritual and subtle ways.

The tactic I chose is deliberate devotion. When some head for the door right after Communion, I try to stay after Mass has ended to pray. Some only come to Mass during Christmas and Easter and I seek to attend every Sunday and on every day of obligation. I attempt to seek the Rite of Penance once a month instead of just once a year. When taking the Host, I put effort into being reverent. At home, I try to pray at least twice a day. I study the latest catechism, the most recent edition of the Roman Daily Missal, and my RSV-2nd Catholic Edition copy of scripture. I work to build piety, meekness, and virtue in my life.

The problem of modernism is that it gently calls Catholics to relax their faith and not hold matters so seriously. The Catholic is lured into the false sense of comfort that comes from having the Cross for sentimental reasons, but not having to carry it. This is the modernist spirit.

And it is this spirit I resist, as best as an imperfect man can. For me, this is what it means to be a Traditionalist Catholic. Traditionally, Catholics sought both Christ and His Church with gravity. The modern world does not want me to take my Catholic faith seriously. And this is exactly what I hope to do.

Deus Vult.

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A Conversion Poem

Conversion Poem

Let Sacred Tradition be my coat
Let Holy Scripture be my bread
So in the fullness of Christ
I am truly clothed and fed

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