Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Many of you, bless you, have been asking whether on the eve of leaving the United States I plan still to write a monthly letter. If I do, it will certainly not be this letter, which belongs to the Seminary and will therefore go to the new Seminary Rector, to do with as he wishes. Nor should anyone interfere with a successor in a post of command by “hanging around.” Nor would any letter written for an Argentinian readership be quite the same. But time may have me pick up the pen again – I could even be driven onto the Internet! But not willingly!
Meanwhile enclosed you have the promised poem of farewell. Brother Marcel did the cartoons. I hope he and it suggest how much I have enjoyed my 21 years in the United States, and I thank all of you for your support and friendship When I get to the Argentine, I shall need a hole-in-the-heart operation – the hole left by all of you! Lest however the light-hearted poem give anyone to think that this time I have really lost my marbles, let me sketch out one last time the serious danger represented by today’s Rome.
I can remember Malcolm Muggeridge saying that just when the modern world had proved itself a busted flush in the aftermath of WWII, and just when the Catholic Church could and should have accepted the world’s unconditional surrender to her Truth, just then the Catholic churchmen themselves surrendered at the Second Vatican Council, and went over to those modern principles which are the dissolution of Catholicism. Similarly today, Vatican II is proving for steadily more souls of good will to be a busted flush, and the Society of St. Pius X’s stand for the Catholic truth is coming closer to being widely recognized as such. This is just not the moment for the Society to lay down its arms and go over to the Conciliar enemy! Yet that is just what the Devil has in mind!
For as in a tug-of-war between two teams of eight men, the anchor-man with the end of the rope wrapped around his midriff is usually big, fat and correspondingly ugly, but he is still the most important man on the rope, so in the tug-of-war between Vatican II’s Conciliarism and (Traditional) Catholicism, the SSPX acts as Tradition’s anchor-man, so that it may in the eyes of all kinds of people – especially “conservative” Catholics – appear to be fat and “disobedient” and ugly and “schismatic,” but the fact remains that those “conservatives” would have no rope on which to pull against Conciliarism unless the SSPX were acting as Tradition’s anchor-man.
Which means that the Romans tugging the Church away from Tradition must at all costs undo the SSPX. In 1988 they pretended to use the biggest stick available to them as churchmen: a declaration (false) that the SSPX leadership was “excommunicated.” Alas, the SSPX failed to disintegrate, even when its great Founder died in 1991, so Rome resorted to a policy of smothering the Society in silence and neglect. Alas, the SSPX would still not wither away, so when its perseverance generated for the Jubilee Year of 2000 what was surely the largest integrally Catholic pilgrimage to Rome of the whole Jubilee, even the Romans could neglect the Society no longer, so they switched from stick to carrot.
Accordingly, since 2000 the SSPX has been subjected to wave upon wave of what the French call “a charm offensive,” or assault by charm. The Big Bad Wolf began to coo like a dove! – “Dear SSPX, we love you, we need you, do come in from the cold!” But the SSPX in its little red riding hood has not budged so far. Why not? To explain this crucial point I have before resorted to a comparison with arithmetic. Let me now extend and expand that comparison. I imagine a dialogue between an up-dated Roman and a true Catholic: –
|Catholic:||If I am to follow you in arithmetic, I need to know you are a true arithmetician. Please make a profession of your two-times table, up to 20.|
|Roman:||2×2=4; 2×3=6; 2×4=9; 2×5=10; 2×6=13; 2×7=14; 2×8=19; 2×9=18; 2×10=20.|
|Catholic:||I am afraid you have made three mistakes. Kindly repeat.|
|Roman:||(He corrects all except 2×8=19).|
|Catholic:||(Respectfully) I fear you have still made a mistake. 2×8 are not 19.|
|Roman:||(Gently) No, 2×8=19. That is not a mistake.|
|Catholic:||(Still respectfully) But how can you say such a thing? If 2×8 were 19, they would be more than 2×9!|
|Roman:||(As if inspired) Ah, but I FEEL that 2×8 are 19. That is my inward EXPERIENCE and my personal NEED!|
|Catholic:||(Puzzled) But then what makes you say that 2×2=4?|
|Roman:||(Enthusiastically) Just the same, my inward EXPERIENCE and my personal NEED!|
|Catholic:||(Shocked) But the two-times table, like every other part of the multiplication table, rests upon objective reality!|
|Roman:||(A little exasperated) Of course its does, but objective reality must still be assimilated by me, i.e. it must become my personal experience.|
|Catholic:||(Slowly) So if today you “assimilate” that 2×2 are 4, but tomorrow “assimilated” that they were 5, then tomorrow they would be 5?|
|Roman:||(Triumphantly) Exactly! What value would any arithmetical table have if it was not assimilated by me in accordance with my present needs?|
|Catholic:||(Jumping up, and jamming on his baseball-cap sideways!) Get me outa’ here! You’re CRAZY! (Exit, as fast as his legs can carry him).|
Notice three things. Firstly, the comparison between arithmetic and Catholic dogma is apposite, insofar as both are a connected body of objective truths. Thus as the single error that 2×8=19 is enough, if applied enough, to destroy all arithmetic (then 2×8 is greater than 2×9, so 8 is greater than 9, etc., etc.), so the denial of a single Catholic dogma is enough to destroy the entire Catholic Faith (dogmas also interlock), and he who denies a single dogma is a heretic.
Secondly – worse – notice in our comparison how close our Roman seemed to come to objective reality. Had he corrected all three errors and not just two, or had he from the outset recited correctly the whole two-times table, then our Catholic might have thought he was dealing with a Roman Catholic and not with a Roman modernist. Only our Roman’s insistence upon 2×8=19 drove our Catholic to discover that our Roman rested his entire multiplication table not upon objective reality but upon his personal inward experience and needs! Similarly today’s Rome could come closer and closer to resembling outwardly the true Rome, yet if the very basis upon which it seemed to be the true Rome was, for instance, ecumenical need or modern experience, then the Society would still have to not budge an inch!
But how then will we ever know that the Romans are back to professing the true Faith upon its true basis? Archbishop Lefebvre used to reply: when they subscribe to Pius IX’s “Quanta Cura” (against liberalism in politics), to Pius X’s Anti-Modernist Oath (against modernism in religion) and to Pius XI’s “Quas Primas” (against secularism in society). And the sure sign of the Romans’ subscribing sincerely to these papal documents will be when they have no more problem with the SSPX, assuming always that the latter will not have budged. In other words, until the Romans subscribe as above, any Rome-SSPX agreement is impossible, and once they subscribe, it will no longer be necessary! Meanwhile, as the Romans tug towards Conciliar perdition, the one thing that the “schismatic” anchorman must do is not budge one inch from his “schism”!
Notice thirdly from the comparison with arithmetic another tremendous element of deception in our present situation – our Roman as presented above need not be of ill will. He can be a rabid modernist and still a “very nice guy.” Of course the ring-leaders of modernism who know exactly what they are doing to detach souls from objective reality, supernatural and natural, are of a diabolical pride and malice, but if our Roman learned from his mother’s knee onwards that the multiplication table has an inward basis, how can he think any differently? How can he not be sincere? And if he is sincere, he can be very convincing in defense of his error, as, for instance, Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Castrillon all seem to be (God alone knows for sure what is in the human heart – Jer. XVII, 9, 10).
Now no amount of sincerity or niceness can turn objective error into objective truth. For if a man wants to preserve ice, what does it matter how sincere he is in thinking that the best way to do so is to expose it to warm sunshine? It will still melt. However, while subjective sincerity cannot change objective reality, it can be deceiving, highly deceiving. Thus the more innocent or ignorant – “sincere” – these Romans are in what is objectively their deluded fight against Catholic reality, the more dangerous any contacts or negotiations with them can be. The SSPX, like any other defender of the objective Catholic Faith, must today and tomorrow beware like the plague of “nice guys” in Rome. As St. Theresa of Avila said, “I do not need my confessor to be a Saint, I do need him to know his Catholic doctrine.”
Should then the SSPX have no contact at all with the Romans? No. Even if a man’s mother is a leper, he stays by her bedside, while taking care not to catch the illness which would put an end to his being able to look after her. In May I said that the Romans, as holding authority over the Church, have huge influence and responsibility for millions of souls, and they are not necessarily impervious to the Truth – while there is life, there is hope. To which one can add that if by the grace of God the SSPX possesses the Truth, it is the SSPX’s duty to make that Truth – prudently – available and accessible to the churchmen who so need it. Also, that Truth will have the effect of discerning the spirits in Rome, and of dividing the Romans who are truly in good faith from those who are not. But how can the little stone of Truth bring down the giant of error (Dan. II, 34, 35) if there is no contact?
My dear friends, let us all persevere in the Truth, however much more difficult yet that may become in the next several years. For if we do persevere, our reward in Heaven will go far beyond anything we can imagine. Let us pray for one another. I will not forget the United States. I send you all my blessing as a bishop. Please support my successor in Winona.
Sincerely yours in Christ,