A Traditionalist New Year’s Resolution:
To be “Speakers of the Greatest Words and Doers of the Greatest Deeds”
(The Remnant, December 31, 2015.)
"Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 13:11)
An Austrian professor sent me a very perceptive article a few months ago demonstrating through historical examples that a civilization--- as opposed to a mere piece of land---can only be conquered by an invading force if it is in effect already culturally dead. When basic moral and intellectual elements of a civilization remain viable it can hold its own and even eventually triumph over adverse elements despite its physical weaknesses. This is especially true when the intruding force is itself a cultural inferior.
Western Christendom is not merely “in crisis”. It is already stone cold dead. Its basic cultural building blocks---Church, State, Family, Education, and Artistic Achievement---have all been pulverized. They no longer exist as effective sociological forces. Anyone who does not recognize that fact is sleepwalking amidst the ruins of a civilization that “survives” only as tourist attractions in what is, at heart, one big western Disneyland.
Sadly, this pulverization is self-inflicted, due to suicide by poison. That poison is one that Christendom and its deluded members have been taking in perilous doses since the time of the Reformation. Yes, we still have a Pope, but one who is presiding over a corpse. And terrible to say, the Supreme Pontiff will most certainly happily celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of Christendom’s first seriously consequential quaff of doctrinal poison in 2017.
In short, the situation is more dangerous today than it was at the beginning of the fifth century, when St. Augustine penned his City of God explaining how the work of the Church would continue even if the Roman Empire disappeared. One must remember that that was a thought as inconceivable to the men of late antiquity as the truth that the American Empire will also inevitably one day vanish may be to our contemporaries.
Our situation is more dangerous because in Augustine’s time, the Christian building blocks of the politically and militarily crippled imperial society were still suitable for use in new construction projects. Moreover, Catholics learned to fit these blocks together nicely with what was left of the Greco-Roman achievement. Working with both, they managed to provide a foundation viable enough to house the culturally inferior German outsiders and domesticate them---although even here with enormous suffering, repeated and terrible setbacks, and bitter, bitter tears. Today, despite the fact that the treasure chest of Revelation and sacramental grace undeniably remains intact, its “paper tiger” custodians do not want to open it up and use it for the protection not just of believing Christians but of the entire human race. They are merciless. But, then again, mercilessness is one of the selfish as well as self-destructive manifestations of any love affair with suicide.
That brings me to our little band of Traditionalists, as we stumble through the ruins of what once was Christendom, eager to find a way to rebuild a civilization that was slowly and to a large degree voluntarily deconstructed. There can be no effective construction without a preliminary blueprint based on clear-headed thinking about what serves one’s needs and what does not. The following Syllabus of Traditionalist New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 are my modest but considered contribution to that blueprint.
Although they are many in number, these resolutions really all boil down to the central thesis of my book, Black Legends and the Light of the World: the need to face the full message of the Incarnation head on. An honest confrontation with that message---the message of the Social Kingship of Christ---is often painful, even for those of us who love Tradition, because it can poke holes in pet heresies and false customs too long accepted as Catholic “truths” and “traditions”. Nevertheless, it is only through this difficult analysis of our present situation, personally and socially, with reference to what the Social Kingship of Christ demands of us that we can expand upon and perfect the mission given to Achilles through Homer: “to be a speaker of words and a doer of deeds”. It is only in this way that we, the beneficiaries of the complete message of salvation can become the speakers of the greatest words and the doers of the greatest deeds. Readers can take these resolutions to heart or reject them, but I feel obliged at least to record them on The Remnant pages for the sake of my own sense of duty as a Catholic historian and fellow militant.
I resolve to take the whole of Catholic Tradition seriously; not simply that part of it that suits the present and all too legitimate Church authorities, along with those who for various reasons will slavishly praise anything that these authorities say and do---whether it be black today or white tomorrow. I also resolve to remember that I myself am not the Catholic Church, that I may have my own misconceptions regarding what she teaches, and that I cannot exclude my own pet heresy from the judgment of the whole of the Catholic Tradition.
I resolve not to waste any more time fretting about what Second Vatican Council said or did not say, recognizing that its ambiguous elements are all destined for the rubbish heap of history anyway. When tempted into a debate on Dignitatis humanae I will loudly recite passages from St. Dominic and St. Francis against the Albigensian Heresy, or listen to the auto-da-fe scene from Don Carlo in a Catholic spirit instead.
I resolve to remember with pride the Holy Roman Empire, thereby calling to mind the historical truth that Christendom is meant to be an international community---not a society of arrogant, parochial, nationalist caves.
In conjunction with the above resolution, I resolve to honor the way in which the Holy Roman Emperors did yeoman service for the Church by tossing unworthy occupants of the Holy See off their throne, thereby contributing mightily to the glory of the High Middle Ages.
I resolve, sadly, to remember that these Holy Roman Emperors---as well as all those individuals and groups who in every age of Church History have called themselves “Catholic” rulers or “Christian” parties---have also often been guilty of unacceptable and immoral actions. Therefore, I resolve to admit that it is my duty to reject and condemn their bad deeds and not slavishly praise them by arguing that “after all”, they at least called themselves “Catholics”. I resolve always to demand that those with political and social authority of any kind prove that their use of the word Catholic means something serious by actually being Catholic.
I resolve to remember that even though it is absolutely the case that many Protestants do believe in Christ, are shocked by the wickedness of the contemporary world, should not be attacked as persons, and may often be allies in one battle or another, that Protestantism in and of itself is a horrible evil, whose doctrines bear the poisons of modernity in them and must be spat out like a piece of tainted meat.
I resolve to remember that trying to build social unity on the concept of some broad “Judeo-Christian” principles or “basic common sense” is a pathetic fraud. Without sound Catholic doctrine and grace to back these up in thought and action, all such principles and common sense-filled resolutions become nothing other than museum pieces, and perishable ones to boot.
I resolve to remember that it is not the rebirth and enhancement of the knowledge of antiquity and science that is the problem with the Renaissance and Modernity, but the way in which many of the supporters of the Renaissance and Modernity destroyed all sense of the supernatural, worshipping nature and seeking to gain power over it with a willful, irrational, and ultimately absurdly magical spirit.
I resolve to remember that willful naturalism is the problem of the Enlightenment as well, and that the result of this has been that many different sorts of willful, naturalist individuals and sects have come up with many different kinds of explanations for how a universe without God should function---all of them badly flawed. Some of these have tried to build a world operating by machine-like rules and no respect for the individual; some have tried to build a world on the basic of individual freedom alone with no respect for man’s social nature and universal moral laws.
I resolve to remember that the Radical Enlightenment of the French and Russian Revolutions involved an open and direct attack on the Social Kingship of Christ.
I resolve to remember that the Moderate Enlightenment of the English and American Revolutions and of that modern Pluralism they engendered involves a much more effective and thoroughgoing assault on the Social Kingship of Christ masqueraded by its apparent promotion of “religious liberty” for all. For they destroy the sacred not by outlawing it but by rendering it socially impotent; not by making revolutionary calendars abolishing Sunday, but by turning the Lord’s Day and Christmas into nothing other than shopping opportunities.
I resolve to remember that the Moderate Enlightenment’s political expression is Liberalism, and that Liberalism is a wicked heresy. But in doing so, I resolve to remember that Liberalism is built upon an exaltation of individual “freedom” that attacks the moral teachings of the Social Kingship of Christ in a myriad of ways, and that what are called Liberalism, Conservatism, and Libertarianism in the United States are all different manifestations of its same basic error. They all have pet liberties that they wish to promote, while irrationally condemning the pet liberties of their competitors. And they all end up ensuring the victory of the strong over the weak---which is the end result of all Liberalism.
I resolve to remember that all of the theological and philosophical and scientific stupidities that have been propounded in the modern age do not destroy the value of theology, philosophy, science, and human Reason in general.
I resolve to remember that belief in “American Exceptionalism” is an assault on the universal Catholic moral vision and the entire concept of international Catholic Christendom. I resolve to remember that “my country, right or wrong” is a principle condemned by Blessed Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors.
I resolve never to forget that Islam is indeed a force for evil, but also to remember that the current Moslem invasion of the western world is to a very large degree due to the consequences of Israeli warmongering, neo-conservative passion for “regime change”, neo-liberal breaking down of borders in the name of “economic freedom”, and detestation of secularist Arab governments ready to play ball with a secularist West.
I resolve to remember that even though Traditionalism is very weak in practical terms, that we do have the whole of the Tradition behind us---and the Traditional Mass as its most precious aid. I resolve to remember that we are strong in so far as we constantly bring what that Tradition means before our contemporary “paper tiger” leaders---as The Remnant is doing with its current Petition to Pope Francis.
I resolve to remember that there are indeed many confused people “out there” whom I must not treat offhandedly simply because they do not know of or have not yet accepted the whole Catholic or Traditionalist Catholic position. I resolve to do my best to play Virgil and Beatrice to all those “lost in the woods”.
And, finally, I resolve to do two difficult things simultaneously: remember that we are living through a crisis that is unprecedented in the entire history of the Church, and that we must retain a spirit of joy and a sense of humor through this apocalyptic madness nonetheless. For our “drama” is, after all, part of the Divine Comedy, and Christ will win in the end.
Viva Cristo Re!
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