Monday, August 14, 2017

Choosing Our Battles Wisely

A Confederate Cemetery Monument in Denton Texas
Vandalised on July, 20, 2015

I am a student of history. I love learning the real reasons why things happened. It's not just how they happened that interests me, but why. That's the real interesting thing about history. That's what makes it come alive. This is why history is boring in public school classrooms. It's because the "whys" of history are filled with religious explanations, but in public schools, they're not allowed to talk about religious explanations, or at least not too deeply. For this reason, many of the "whys" of history are lost, and the study of history (on a public high school level) becomes little more than the memorisation of names, dates and places, in what seems like a disjointed chain of events without rhyme or reason.

Nobody really taught me American history. I learned it myself, the hard way. Yes, I had history teachers in public high school, and one of them was pretty good, but even he knew his limitations. He tried to teach the "whys" of American history to the best of his ability, as far as the school would let him, and I got a little glimpse of things through his class. In the end, however, what really did it for me was college. I took a college American history class in my freshman year. I thought it would be easy, because I had just taken the same class in high school the year before. I encountered two problems. The first was that my college American history teacher was from another country (the irony), and his accent was so thick I couldn't understand him. The second problem was the history book. It had almost nothing in common with my high school history book. I was failing what should have been an easy class for me. So I did something radical. Rather than drop the class, as most of the other students did, I stuck through it and I passed it. But this is how I did it. I went to the library and spent hours there. I must have read through dozens of American history books, on my own, trying to figure the whole thing out. Eventually it clicked. American history is really all about the history of religion in America! Once you understand that, the whole thing comes alive!

Religion played a vital role in the founding of the British colonies in America, and the movement of colonists between those colonies. It also played a vital role in the founding of the United States and the type of government these early Americans eventually settled on. Within that type of government was a political conflict, again based on the religious experience of these early Americans. Without getting too deep into it, the conflict was between Federalism and Antifederalism. Federalists wanted a strong centralised government, like what existed in England. While the Antifederalists wanted a loose decentralised government, something more akin to a confederacy. In the end, the Federalists won the day with the ratification of the United States Constitution. That, however, didn't mean the conflict was over. The Antifederalist mentality lived on, particularly in the Southern states, which saw the increasing power grabs of Washington City as the prophetic warnings of their Antifederalist forefathers coming to life. For all the talk of slavery and secession, the real cause of America's Civil War was really only about one thing: the conflict between Federalism and Antifederalism. The political arguments that originally took place in Philadelphia's Independence Hall, during the Constitutional Convention, would eventually find themselves playing out on the battlefield all across the nation just a generation later. The Northern armies represented the Federalists, while the Southern armies represented the Antifederalists. Like the Constitutional Convention, the Federalists eventually won the day in the Civil War.

Antifederalism, also known as "States Rights," was crushed in that 78-year span between 1787 to 1865. What began as a civil debate in a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, ended in a bloody Civil War and the surrender of the Army of Virginia at Appomattox. It's all connected. It's all the same thing. The issue of slavery was just a distraction.

I think this is why so many Southern Americans hoped to keep the memory of the Confederacy alive, because they hoped that by enshrining the heroes and battles of the South, some aspects of the Antifederalist arguments might be kept alive. This is why there are Confederate monuments, statues, and battle flags all across the American South. It is, after all, a big part of our American heritage, and the arguments made for decentralisation and States Rights remain very much a part of American politics today.

However, something tragic happened on the way to Antifederalist revival in the 21st-century. It was married to racism, Antisemitism and Anti-Catholicism. The wedding occurred slowly over the course of the 20th-century, and the marriage was finally consummated during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. It was during this time that racists, from all corners of America (North, South, East and West), adopted the symbols of the Old South to signify their hatred of Blacks, Jews, Catholics and other minorities. The honeymoon lasted over the remainder of the 20th-century, and now what has emerged is nothing short of a complete hijacking of the Antifederalist (Confederate) argument to bolster hatred of everyone who is not a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (W.A.S.P.).

To be sure, Robert E. Lee is rolling in his grave right now. I'm sure the thought of monuments dedicated to his memory, now being used as flash-points in a virtual race war slowly erupting is something he would object to. Being an honourable and humble man, he would likely insist that such monuments to his memory be removed as soon as possible to keep the peace.

However, this latest eruption over Confederate monuments and Confederate flags is in itself a religious movement of sorts. During the 1950s and 60s, while Northern and Western racists were consummating their marriage with the signs and symbols of the Old South, a new religious movement was birthed on American soil. It wasn't anything new. In fact it had been widely accepted in Europe for nearly 100 years prior. I'm talking about militant Secularism here, which eventually manifested itself in Marxism in the early 20th century. In America it took a softer approach, preferring the term "Liberal" at first, and then "Progressive" later on. It could best be described as political Leftism, because the way it promotes itself is by creating an amalgamation of various different groups, known as "identities," and then promotes itself as the defender of these "identities." This is what is meant by "Identity Politics." However, what these identity groups fail to realise is that they're all just means to an end. The final goal has nothing to do with defending or promoting a particular group's identity. Rather, it's about consolidating all power to a centralised government, because militant Secularism isn't about identity at all. It's about putting the government above everything else -- even God.

Because militant Secularism views government as divine, all things (even religion) must be subject to the state. As for Antifederalism (States Rights), or the idea of a decentralised government, that has no place in a militantly Secular society. All vestiges of government decentralisation must be crushed, and that's easy enough to do when all the historical relics of the Antifederalist argument (the Confederacy) have been married to White Power, NeoNazi, racism!

So come the tragic events of Charlottesville, Virginia last week, wherein amid violent clashes between NeoMarxist and NeoNazi protesters, over a monument to Robert E. Lee slated to be removed, an Ohio man (a Northern man with ties to racist groups) drove his car at high speed into a marching crowd of NeoMarxist demonstrators, killing one and injuring scores more. The man was captured by police, thank God, and is facing charges, that when convicted of, will surely send him to prison for a very long time, that is, if he doesn't receive the death penalty. The whole incident was captured on multiple smartphone video cameras and broadcast on the Internet for all the world to see. Since then there has been a national outcry, over the span of just a couple days, that has resulted in mayors and city councils all across the American South calling for the demolition of all Confederate monuments, as well as the total anathematising of the Confederate Battle Flag.

It's not going to end in Charlottesville. In fact, it only began there. The battle over the symbols of the Old Southern Confederacy is over, and just like the Civil War itself, the Confederacy (and Antifederalism) lost. It's over. There will be no recovery from this.

The symbols of the Confederacy will soon be relegated to the ash heap of history. As unfair as it is, and as historically inaccurate as it is, the Confederate Battle Flag will now be relegated to the same level as the Nazi Swastika Flag. Monuments to the Civil War heroes and battles of the South will soon disappear. The memory of the Confederacy will be nothing more than a footnote in the history books within a generation. Whatever lessons it had to teach us about Antifederalism and the dangers of a centralised Federal government, are now drowned in the cries of "White Power!" and "Heil Hitler!" These are overshadowed only by the media attention they receive and the cries of Leftists trying to shout them down. All real political discussion is over in America. All real historical education is finished. The only thing left are two extremists, the extreme Left and the extreme Right, shouting in the streets at one another, throwing rocks and bottles at each other, and committing shameful acts of violence against each other. Political and historical discourse is dead in America. All that is left is hate and violence now.

So where does this leave us as Catholics? I must confess that a sad day has come if you're a lover of history like me. Because the time has come to choose our battles wisely.

I can't save the memory of the Old South. I can't salvage the good ideas about decentralised government that came from there. I can't honour the memory of Confederate soldiers who died for something other than slavery. I can't because I'm just one man, and there aren't enough people like me to get the job done. For every time I shout "Antifederalism" or "States Rights," it's drown out by the shouting of "White Power" and "Heil Hitler" which is further drown in the cries against "Racism" and "Bigotry." A lowly little history-lover like me can't even get a word in edgewise, and even if I do, I'll be labelled with the Klansman and NeoNazis who's beliefs I oppose and despise. So it's over folks. This is the end of the road for me when it comes to American history.

I've come to the conclusion that Americans don't want to know their own history. Some are too busy jumping on bandwagons to care. They're too busy identifying with either the NeoMarxist Left or the NeoNazi Right to bother. The rest just don't care about anything other than food and circus (entertainment). I've come to the conclusion that in today's America, I have to pick my battles wisely, because there is no more room for frivolous history lessons about Antifederalism and the Civil War. We've moved way beyond that now. It has been said that a nation that forgets its past has no future. I agree with that. America has most certainly forgotten its past, and we are now witnessing a national demonstration that indicates it has no desire to relearn it. It has also been said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I would like to add that those few, who actually do learn from history, are doomed to helplessly watch as others repeat it.

For this reason, among many others, I don't personally believe the United States will survive the 21st century. Short of another Constitutional Convention (Article V, Convention of States) in which a new set of delegates can totally remake ourselves as a nation, this government will continue to descend into the rule of political strongmen (billionaires like Donald Trump), until finally it collapses under its own weight. The lessons of the Old South are lost, along with the Confederacy and her symbols. I have to ask myself; is this the proverbial "hill" I want to "die" on? Is this really my battle to fight? Is this really what I want to be my own personal legacy?

The answer is no.

I have bigger battles to fight, and bigger proverbial fish to fry. America is lost, along with her history. It's time to let it all implode, and let the archaeologists sort it out centuries from now. By the time that day comes, I wonder if anyone will remember an American Civil War ever happened, let alone, what it was really about. I suppose that all depends on how well we are able to erase our history from our collective consciousness. At this point, I say let them do it. Let the monuments come down. Relegate the Confederate Battle Flag to the Nazi Swastika. Go ahead. History obviously doesn't matter to Americans anymore, so go ahead and make up a new story to fit the political ideology of the day. If it keeps the peace, and it prevents Americans from killing each other, then I suppose it's worth it for now.

So let the confederate monuments, statues and battle flags all come down. Let them be dismantled and put away in museums. Let all history of the Confederacy and Antifederalism be erased from our collective memory. Let America be ruled by political strongmen, and maybe (if we're lucky) we'll get another Constitutional Convention to peacefully remake us into something entirely new. Or maybe not, and the United States Federal government will eventually collapse, leaving the fifty states to reorganise into new countries of their own making.

As for Catholics, let's focus on how we will rebuild America after it's inevitable collapse. Whether it will be rebuilt as a new union of 50 states, following another Constitutional Convention, or a collective of new countries in the place of the old after it falls, we cannot know. What we do know is this. The new America (or Americas) that must be rebuilt will need to be rebuilt on Christian principles entirely. Because militant Secularism is bankrupt, and the racial violence we see unfolding now is just another symptom of that.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants

Monday, August 07, 2017

Thank God for Evangelicals!

Evangelist Billy Graham and Pope Saint John Paul II

You know, I've had a re-awakening in the last couple weeks, and it's all thanks to some friends of Pope Francis. Bear with me, this isn't what you might think.

On July 13, 2017 a papal adviser, Father Antonio Spadaro published an article with Presbyterian Pastor Marcelo Figueroa, in the Vatican-vetted magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, entitled "Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism." The article was painful to read. It's also been excoriated by some American Catholic bishops (click here for an example). Had it just been another liberal article in another liberal magazine I wouldn't have cared. I certainly wouldn't waste my time writing about it on my blog. I've got much better things to do. However, this particular article was Vatican-vetted by the Curia Secretary of State. It's not an official Vatican publication, but it does receive the blessing of the Vatican, and I suppose, that's why it hurts. I personally don't know what Pope Francis thinks, and I assume he is more open-minded than this, but I now know what at least one of his advisers thinks.

In the article, Spadaro and Figueroa refer to social cooperation between American Evangelicals and Catholics as an "ecumenism of hate" along with a litany of calumny describing such cooperation as "strange ecumenism" that is "attributable to its xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations." I don't even know where to begin with such nonsense.

Not only am I a devout Roman Catholic, but I was reconciled to the Catholic Church from both Evangelicalism and Anglicanism. My entire family (mother, father, sisters, cousins, in-laws, etc.) remain Evangelical. Before becoming Anglican, and eventually Catholic, I studied for the ministry in an Evangelical association, and substituted on Sunday mornings for the pastor while he was away. Today I am not only an Internet apologist for the Catholic Church, but I'm also a catechist for my local parish. So I am uniquely qualified to speak on the connection between today's Evangelicals and faithful Catholics in America. All I can say is that not only are Father Spadaro and Pastor Figueroa incredibly ignorant of this social ecumenism between Evangelicals and Catholics in America, but they also seem to be laughably ignorant of American politics in general.

Let me tell you how it really is...

Yes, a lot of faithful Catholics and Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, but let's be clear about something. The overwhelming vast majority of us didn't vote FOR Donald Trump. Rather we voted AGAINST Hillary Clinton. It just so happened that Donald Trump was the only viable alternative to a Hillary presidency. Yours Truly actually voted for Bernie Sanders (a self-described Socialist) in the Missouri Democratic Primary, not because Yours Truly wanted Bernie Sanders as president, but rather because Yours Truly was willing to do just about anything to stop a Hillary presidency. Yours Truly then turned around and voted for Donald Trump in the general election for the exact same reason. I didn't vote for Sanders and Trump because I particularly believed in either one of those candidates. Rather the prospect of a Hillary presidency was so frightening that I was willing to vote for Sanders and Trump (two polar opposite candidates) in the hope of stopping her. To use an American football colloquialism, something I'm sure neither Spardaro nor Figueroa will understand (namely because they don't seem to understand anything else about America), it was nothing short of a "Hail Mary Pass," and by that I mean pun intended, because I did pray a whole lot of "Hail Marys" in the process.

I'm sure a similar story can be told of most American Catholics who likewise voted for Trump in the general election. For that matter, the same can be said of most Evangelicals, who's favoured candidates in the primary were clearly: Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee -- not Donald Trump. However, none of them could best the incendiary campaign of Donald Trump, and the reason why he won is because that incendiary method was directed primarily toward Hillary Clinton, which tapped into the absolute fear and loathing most Christian Americans had toward her all along. His occasional comments about illegal aliens and Muslim radicals paled on comparison to his fiery comments about her. His scorched-earth campaign style left every stop with a smouldering reminder of why so many Americans distrust and dislike the former First Lady and Senator from New York. That's why he beat his Evangelical rivals in the primary, and that's why he won the Republican nomination for president. In the end, that's why he won the general election and the presidency.

Let me make this crystal clear for anyone at the Vatican who might be reading this. Speaking as an American Catholic, down here in the trenches of the political battles unfolding in America, the one and only reason why Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election is because of Hillary Clinton. She is the reason why he is the president today. She is the reason why faithful Catholics and Evangelicals turned out en mass to vote for Donald Trump and the Republicans last November. She is the reason why the Republicans are now the majority in the U.S. Congressional House and Senate, as well as the majority of the state legislatures and governors mansions around the nation. She, and she alone, is the one singular reason why things turned out the way they did. She was the candidate with a pro-abortion advocacy record unparalleled in American history. She was the candidate with her disdain for Evangelicals and faithful Catholics. She was the candidate with her "deep seated... religious beliefs... have to be changed" comment (see here) that scared the hell out of faithful Christians all across America. She was the candidate with her "it takes a village to raise a child" background. She was the candidate with her history of corruption and cronyism. She was the candidate with her shady connections and questionable ties, not to mention her sleazy husband. She was the candidate with her pro-globalism agenda. She was the candidate with threats to isolate Russia, in Ukraine and Syria, pushing the superpowers ever closer to another World War. She was the candidate with her history of arming terrorists in Syria, selling uranium to Russia, and abandoning an American embassy under terrorist attack, all while she was Secretary of State. She was the candidate with her support of Obamacare that has bankrupted millions. She is the reason why the mainstream news media is afraid to say it, and she is the reason why the Democratic Party will never admit it. It was her.  It was all her all along. And it was only her. She's the reason why Donald Trump won the election. She and no other. That is what's really going on down here on the ground in America, and that's what some in the Vatican seem to have no understanding of. I find it absolutely frightening that such men have the ear of the Vicar of Christ. It's terrifying actually. I can only hope and pray he pays little attention to them.

So now that I've vented a bit, let me move on to the social cooperation between Catholics and Evangelicals in America.

It helps to understand the religious makeup of America first. The United States is still a very Protestant country with a Secular government. The reason why America's government is Secular is because there are so many different Protestant denominations in the United States, and America's Founding Fathers wanted to avoid a repeat of the oppressive confessional state that existed in England for centuries following the Protestant Reformation. This Secularism was originally welcomed by American Catholics, many of whose parents and grandparents fled to the colonies from the Penal Laws in England. Granted, American Secularism has taken on a more militant nature in recent decades, which is problematic to be sure, but only a tiny minority of faithful Catholics in America want to turn the country into a confessional state defined by the Catholic Church, and even those few concede that toleration should always exist for Protestants and other religious groups, at both the political and legal level. In other words, even those most extreme Catholic Integralists, infinitesimally small as they are, acknowledge that legal and political toleration of various religious beliefs is generally a good thing, and would prefer to "return the favour" toward Protestants in America who have done the same for Catholics over the last two centuries. For some strange reason, Spadaro and Figueroa seem to think these Catholic Integarlists are much larger than they really are, and they mistake the political and social alliance between regular faithful Catholics and Evangelicals as some kind of sinister conspiracy to overthrow the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and replace it with a Christian Fundamentalist theocracy.

Another thing Spadaro and Figueroa fail to understand is that in recent decades a growing rift has developed between American Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, almost to the point where we could begin to talk about them as two separate religious entities. While there is a general crossover between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists when it comes to religious doctrine, which is staunchly Protestant of course, the difference is in emphasis and attitude. Evangelicals tend to focus on the core beliefs of the gospel (evangelium) showing more tolerance and flexibility on peripheral doctrines. While as Fundamentalists (shrinking in number now) tend to hold core gospel beliefs and peripheral doctrines on equal footing. As a result, Evangelicals express a much stronger willingness to work with Catholics, cooperate with us, and tolerate our difference in belief. While Fundamentalists do not. The move away from anti-Catholicism is measurable in Evangelical circles, especially in the Bible Belt of the United States (the Traditional South or "Dixie") wherein Evangelicals are more likely to confess ignorance of Catholic beliefs rather than vehement opposition to them. As a former Evangelical pastor in training (during the 1990s) I can testify that the trend was already in motion back then. We, in Evangelical church leadership, found ourselves having to frequently remind our congregations of our opposition to Catholic teaching, though we confessed admiration of Catholic devotion and discipline, all the while acknowledging that they very well may be Christian. That was in the 1990s. A lot has changed in the two decades since. These days Evangelicals are far more likely to acknowledge Catholics as fellow Christians, all the while admitting ignorance about Catholic teaching and practices.

Much of this current relationship came about in the 1980s and 90s, on the front lines of the American proverbial "culture wars," particularly in the trenches of the Pro-Life Movement. Faithful Catholics and Evangelicals found themselves under fire together from hostile forces on the Secular and Pagan Left in America. (Yes, there is a "Pagan" Left in America. Just ask any Wiccan or New Ager.) We faithful Catholics watched the Left belittle and malign the very people we stood side-by-side with (Evangelicals) on the street corners of America during Pro-Life demonstrations. We all suffered the insults and profanities together by passing traffic. We all endured the egg throwing and garbage tossing by the same motorists passing by. Even our little children, who stood there with us, were subject to the same, asking "Mommy, why do they hate us so much?" Ours was an alliance forged in the crucible of soft persecution by the American Left, and we built strong relationships through it. Today, it can be said that many faithful Catholics in America feel a stronger kindred with local Evangelicals than we do with cafeteria Catholics in New York, Washington DC, Europe and yes, even the Vatican. Why? I think the Spadaro/Figueroa article speaks for itself on that. Too many of our fellow Catholics are too clueless, or too snobbish, to understand what it's like to have raw eggs, garbage and profanities thrown at you and your small children, while you stand side-by-side with Evangelicals having the same things thrown at them, in our public proclamation of the Gospel of Life.

It was during this time that a group of prominent Evangelicals and Catholics produced a statement pledging our support for one another in the midst of this cultural upheaval. The document itself was a major source of division between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, accelerating the rift between them, but it forged a deeper relationship with Catholics and Evangelicals on the front-lines of the battle with the Secular and Pagan Left. The name of the document is Evangelicals and Catholics Together: the Christian Mission in the Third Millennium. It's a document that every Catholic and Evangelical should read and share with others.

That relationship didn't stop there. In the Bible Belt of America, where Catholic parishes are small, and Evangelical churches are large, there came a sharing of resources and abundance. Many Evangelical church leaders reached out to Catholic families, not in attempted proselytism or anti-Catholicism, but rather neighbourly affection. They offered their meeting rooms and property grounds for Catholic events pertaining to social renewal. In some rare cases, as need arose, they even offered their church buildings for Catholic mass when Catholics had no building of their own. They also offered their youth-group activities and field trips to Catholic children, who were local friends with the children of Evangelical members. At the same time, Catholic schools began taking in Evangelical children. Homeschooling networks, strong with Evangelicals in the Bible Belt, began accepting Catholic children for membership, and Evangelical adults began referring to their Catholic neighbours as their "Catholic brethren in the Christian faith." Yes, of course there was the occasional friction between Catholic and Evangelical theology. That's the sort of thing that happens when people of different faiths get together. Friction, when handled properly, can lead to greater understanding and mutual respect. In the Bible Belt, just about every faithful Catholic is a mini-apologist for the Catholic Church. We have to be, and as a result, Evangelicals tend to be much more respectful now than in ages past. This relationship between faithful Catholics and Evangelicals in America is real and solid. It's built on common persecution from our common adversaries, and it's grown in a spirit of both curiosity and respect. This supposed "ecumenism of hate" that Spadaro and Figueroa speak of simply does not exist. Faithful Catholics and Evangelicals in America are allies because we have to be, and we're better off because of it. Perhaps some of our Catholic brethren in other parts of the world will eventually understand someday, when they too find themselves side-by-side with a few Protestants while being attacked by a society that hates them both. I suppose in Europe, that day may not be too far off now. Lord knows, Catholics and Evangelicals in heavily Islamic countries tend to be very tight with each other. Is this also an "ecumenism of hate?" I don't think so.

I have lived in the Ozark Mountains of Southern Missouri for a quarter of a century now. This is deep within the Bible Belt of the United States. Over that span of time I have watched, with my own eyes, the breakup of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. I have also watched the softening of Evangelicals toward Catholics, while Fundamentalists harden and shrink into irrelevancy. Catholics in this area have reciprocated Evangelical hospitality rather quickly, and the relationship that now exists is fairly strong. Nothing would please the political Left more than a rupture between faithful Catholics and Evangelicals now, but I've got news for them. That's not going to happen. We remember the raw eggs, garbage and profanity the American political Left threw at us and our children. We stood side-by-side with Evangelical parents as we tried to shelter our babies from this stuff, while simultaneously proclaiming the Gospel of Life. Now our children have grown up with their children. Some of their children have become Catholics, and some of ours have become Evangelicals. (The latter may not be ideal for us, but it is reality. Our blood has mixed with theirs and vice versa.) Our children sometimes attend Evangelical events, and their children sometimes attend Catholic events. Faithful Catholics and Evangelicals work together in the workplace, sometimes against management that is openly hostile toward traditional Christianity. In the same public schools, Catholic children are told to put away their rosaries, and Evangelical children are told to hide their Bibles. Neither are allowed to proclaim their faith too loudly. Both whisper their faith to one another, and both silently share their prayers with each other. That kind of relationship won't be broken by a nasty article vetted by the Vatican Secretary of State, any more than the constant Leftist attempts to get us to turn against each other. If I only had a dollar for every time a political Leftist tried to tell me that Evangelicals secretly hate me. I'm sure they say the same to Evangelicals about Catholics. Of course they want to drive a wedge between us. Our cosy relationship presents a political threat to them and their agenda. I think they're starting to figure that out now. I bet they're thinking maybe they shouldn't have thrown so many eggs at us in their youth. Maybe they should have thrown their garbage into trash cans, rather than at our children. Maybe their profanities and middle fingers should have been more restrained in those days. Ah! Regrets. C'est la vie.

Today, the alliance between faithful Catholics and Evangelicals is strong, and I say thank God for that! What would we do without Evangelicals to take the place of cafeteria Catholics who are too clueless, or too snobbish, to help us in our social struggles? Thank God for Evangelicals who loan their chapels to Catholics in need of a place to say mass. Thank God for Evangelicals who invite Catholic children to youth functions without intent to proselytise them. Thank God for Evangelicals who fearlessly stand side-by-side with Catholics on street corners during Pro-Life demonstrations, willing to suffer all the same abuse we do for the sake of the Gospel. Thank God for Evangelicals who have witnessed to lapsed Catholics and brought them back to some faith in Christ after they've abandoned it for atheism and hedonism. Thank God for Evangelicals who consider Catholics their Christian brethren, even when they confess ignorance about our beliefs and practices. Thank God for Evangelicals who stood with us in the last presidential election against that horrible woman (Hillary Clinton) who would have surely used her executive powers to hurt the freedoms and liberties of all religious people. Thank God for Evangelicals, because without them, political Leftists and cafeteria Catholics would have already turned America into another Venezuela or Argentina. Thank God for Evangelicals who aren't afraid to loudly proclaim their faith, and put a Christian stamp on almost everything they touch. As a Catholic in the Bible Belt, I am grateful for their cultural events, entertainment and amusement parks, which are friendly to the Gospel message. Thank God for Evangelicals who make movies with a good moral message. Thank God for Evangelicals, for simply being Christians we faithful Catholics can ally with. I suppose, as a former Evangelical, I would be biased in saying that Evangelicals make the best Catholics when they reconcile with the Catholic Church, but after years of watching RCIA classes, that has been my observation.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Anglican Patrimony Groups

Portrait of Pope Benedict XVI
Signing Anglicanorum Coetibus.

The "Anglican Patrimony" is the liturgical history, particular to Medieval England, that the Catholic Church and Anglicans have in common. It is upon this Patrimony that the Ordinariate Form (Divine Worship) was built. Divine Worship is the official liturgy of the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans.

The "Anglican Use of the Roman Rite" is now effectively and functionally suppressed (If indeed the term "suppressed" can even properly be used. It may be more accurate to say "obsolete."). It no longer exists. It was the prototype for Divine Worship, lasting 35 years (from 1980 to 2015). Divine Worship is now the official liturgy of the Ordinariates, known officially as "Divine Worship" and less officially as the "Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite." A full mass sample of Divine Worship can be viewed here...

Divine Worship consists of a Missal (mass liturgy) as well as a Breviary (daily office), though the revision of the Breviary is still awaiting final approval from Rome. If you would like to see what this revision looks like, you need only visit the Covert Prayer website: Many lay Catholics, both in the Ordinariates and outside them, are already using the Covert Prayer website as their guide to "Divine Worship: The Office," even though it's not official yet.

The Personal Ordinariates are special jurisdictions within the Catholic Church that apply specifically to certain parishes and persons, hence the name "personal." The idea here is to create a special diocesan-like structure that overlaps other dioceses, but only applies to certain persons who are attached to that Ordinariate. It's sort of like a Military Archdiocese that applies only to military chapels, chaplains and members of the armed services. Think of it this way. Imagine if you will a religious order, like the Benedictines, or the Franciscans, for example. There would be a special headquarters for that order, that have several monasteries under it. Well, the Ordinariate is like the religious order, and the parishes are the monasteries.

Three Ordinariates were created to overlap dioceses in certain geographical areas. These are (1) the United Kingdom, (2) Anglo-America which consists of the United States and Canada, and (3) Oceania which consists of Australia, New Zealand and even Japan. Within these Ordinariates can be found a number of parishes that celebrate the Anglican Patrimony of Divine Worship. The legal structure for creating these Ordinariates is an Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 entitled Anglicanorum Coetibus (which is Latin for "Groups of Anglicans"). It's pronounced like this: ANG-lick-an-OR-oom CHAY-tee-boos. Now these are the Ordinariates...
Now these Ordinariates were primarily designed for Anglicans who wish to convert to Catholicism, but retain those liturgical practices that are most familiar to them. However, this also applies somewhat to Methodists too. Any Roman Catholic, who was once connected to Anglicanism or Methodism, is automatically eligible for Ordinariate membership. Furthermore, anyone who converts to Catholicism (from anything) is automatically eligible, if he/she converts in an Ordinariate parish or community. Any Roman Catholic who has not yet received a sacrament of initiation (baptism, first communion, or confirmation) is eligible to become a member if he/she receives one of those sacraments in an Ordinariate parish or community. Finally, any Catholic with an immediate family member in the Ordinariate is also eligible for membership.

Membership in any one of the above Ordinariates may be requested by visiting the above websites and filling out the required application.

Ordinariate parishes and communities are not exclusive clubs just for certain kinds of Catholics. In fact, any Catholic may become a member of an Ordinariate parish or community, even if said Catholic is not eligible for Ordinariate membership. This is important to note, because Pope Benedict XVI said the Anglican Patrimony was a gift to the whole universal Church, not just members of the Ordinariate. This means that any Roman Catholic can meet the Sunday obligation by attending mass in an Ordinariate parish, and any Roman Catholic can join such a parish or community as a full member, and yet remain under the episcopal jurisdiction of the local diocesan bishop.

Yet there is more. While the Divine Worship mass can only be found in Ordinariate parishes and communities, there is the other half of the Anglican Patrimony -- The Office! As Pope Benedict XVI said, the Anglican Patrimony is a gift to the whole universal Church. The Divine Worship Office is part of the Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite. In other words, it's part of the Roman Rite. It's a third form of the Roman Rite, which means ANY LAY ROMAN CATHOLIC CAN CELEBRATE IT. That's right, any lay Roman Catholic can use the Divine Worship Office for Morning and Evening Prayer as an alternative to the regular Novus Ordo Office (Christian Prayer), or the older Tridentine Office (The Breviary). Because of this, many lay Roman Catholics, who have no previous connection to Anglicanism or Methodism, are now reciting the Divine Worship Office, currently proposed to Rome for approval, as shown on the Covert Prayer website: They're praying this office with their families, in their homes, all over the United Kingdom, Anglo-America and Oceania.

In addition to that, new groups are now forming, creating the foundation for a second wave of Ordinariate parishes and communities to sprout up in the future. We are particularly seeing this happen in Anglo-America. These consist of lay Catholics who have some kind of attachment to the Anglican Patrimony. This might be because they were formerly Anglicans or Methodists before converting to Catholicism. It might be because they have relatives who are Anglicans or Methodists. It might simply be because they are Anglophiles and love all things English! Whatever the reason, it's happening. Small groups of families are meeting in living rooms, libraries, office buildings, and sometimes even Catholic chapels, to recite and sing the Divine Worship Office.

The Anglicanorum Coetibus Society (ACS), formerly the "Anglican Use Society," serves to help such small groups organise and network together, particularly in Anglo-America for now, and may expand this to the United Kingdom and Oceania at some later date. The ACS provides scholarly publications, as well as a news blog, and will soon offer podcasts, for all things related to the Ordinariates and the Anglican Patrimony. However, it's crown service right now is the ACS Patrimonial Map. This is a map, primarily of Anglo-America, featuring not only the established Ordinariate parishes and communities, but also emerging "Anglican Patrimony Groups" or "Patrimonial Groups" that might someday become Ordinariate communities and parishes. Catholics (and converts) interested in becoming part of the Ordinariate can link up with such Patrimonial Groups when no Ordinariate parish or community is nearby. OR, if they're adventurous enough, and are willing to make the long-term commitment, they can start their own Patrimonial groups. The ACS will support them with a listing on the map, provided they follow the requirements. The requirements for placing a Patrimonial Group on the map, are listed on the map page itself...

Unlike the Ordinariates, literally ANYONE may be a member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society. This is a lay apostolate, that serves the Ordinariates. So any Catholic can be a member of the Society and support its mission. The Society provides connectivity for those who are attached to the Anglican Patrimony, regardless if they were ever Anglicans or not. So it doesn't matter who you are, or what your background is. Membership in the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is open to you.

The Society supports its members with the services mentioned above, and also provides occasional conferences, wherein ACS members can meet and mingle with one another. The main focus of the ACS, however, is networking Catholics attached to the Anglican Patrimony, letting them know they're not alone, and their part of a bigger family within the Catholic Church. The gist of it is this. Through the ACS, Roman Catholics who celebrate the Vatican-approved Anglican Patrimony outside established Ordinariate parishes, now have a voice and a network.

If you're interested in becoming a member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society (ACS), simply go to the membership form on the website and sign up! However, if you're interested in starting a Patrimonial Group in your area, because there is currently nothing else around, just visit the ACS map and follow the instructions for listing.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'm Catholic and I'm Here to Stay!

LGBTQ Rainbow Flags outside the Vatican

So I got over my little crisis of faith nearly 3 years ago. Yes, it was 3 years ago (in Autumn of 2014) the Vatican put on that horrible circus called the "Extraordinary Synod on the Family," which preceded the "Ordinary Synod on the Family" in Autumn of 2015. I call it a circus, because well, it was. That's the nicest way I can put it. Anything else wouldn't be fit to print. It was a circus because of what was produced by the Synod -- a working document seriously entertaining not only communion for the divorced and remarried, but also the acceptance (even "valuing") of homosexuality within the Catholic Church. Yes, the whole thing was a joke, but not the funny kind. The media firestorm that erupted around this singed the faith of many. It resulted in faithful Catholics seriously floating the idea of Pope Francis being an antipope right here in some local Catholic churches in the Ozarks. Yes, I heard the conversations with my own ears. People were actually talking about it in the parish halls. It spurred me to write two articles on the subject -- here and here. For the record, I defended Pope Francis against the charge of antipope, both in private conversations and online. However, at the same time, my public apologetics for his leadership style ceased. I cannot defend what I do not understand.

There were many fantastic reports from various Catholic media outlets, but none covered the issue more thoroughly than Church Militant...

Since then (a year later) we had the Ordinary Synod on the Family in 2015, which was much more toned-down and reasonable. The African bishops saved the day, so to speak, by resisting all of this craziness, and what we got from the Ordinary Synod was a final document much closer to authentic Catholic teaching on marriage and homosexuality.

Controversy has since erupted since the Pope's followup exhortation Amoris Laetitia (Spring of 2016), which on the surface would appear to imply that holy communion for the divorced and remarried (without an annulment) is acceptable. Some of the world's bishops have interpreted Amoris just like that, opening their dioceses to a communion "free for all" for Catholics in a state of perpetual adultery. Other dioceses have interpreted Amoris more conservatively in accordance with historic Catholic teaching. What currently exists in the Catholic Church, right now, is a quagmire of functional schism, wherein second and third "marriages" are recognised as legitimate in some dioceses but not in others. Therefore, these persons are permitted to receive Holy Communion in some dioceses, but not in others. This is functional schism as far as a certain group of Catholics are concerned. Divorced and remarried Catholics, who have not obtained an annulment, will have to carefully plan where they live and where they go to mass from now on. For in one diocese their "marriage" may be recognised and they can receive communion, but in the diocese right next door, their "marriage" may not be recognised and they cannot receive communion. Furthermore, all of this is now subject to the whim of the bishop. So theoretically, one bishop may give permission for communion to people living in perpetual adultery, while his future replacement may not, or vice versa.

All of this is a tragedy to be sure. In my opinion, the Catholic Church has just taken one gigantic step backward into confusion. We have entered a new "dark age" where sacraments are recognised as valid in some dioceses but not in others.

It's no skin off my back though. I'm not divorced and remarried, so none of this really applies to me. Furthermore, I don't have to deal with it here in the Ozarks. Both my Ordinariate bishop, and the local Diocesan bishop, have clearly stated that canon law remains unchanged in these jurisdictions. Divorced and remarried persons will have to receive an annulment before they can receive communion here on the Missouri side of the Ozarks, just as they always have. However, Catholics moving into this area, from other dioceses, may receive a rude awakening about their reception of Holy Communion, if they are divorced and remarried without an annulment. I'm sure our priests will hear the cry: "But they said it was okay in the Diocese of _________" (fill in the blank), and our priests will have to explain to them that that was the Diocese of _________, and this is the Diocese of Springfield - Cape Girardeau, or the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and we do things differently here. It's a tough position for any priest to be in, and I don't envy them, yet this is the quagmire the Pope seems to want right now, so here we are. I don't understand it, but I'll let history be the judge.

In the backdrop of all of this is this nagging question about homosexuality. While the African bishops seemed to have successfully blocked any serious discussion about changing Church practice on the matter at the Ordinary Synod (2015), there are still many priests, bishops, and high-ranking Vatican officials that are clearly lobbying for it in one way or another. This has been punctuated by various scandals related to homosexual activities by some clergy throughout the Church, and even within the Vatican. We have seen what happened on the issue of divorce with the last two Synods and following Apostolic Exhortation. It only seems likely to me that what the homosexualist lobby is working for is a similar type of arrangement for homosexuality, wherein it will be accepted (even valued) in some dioceses but not in others, widening the functional schism within the Catholic Church. I don't know if they will ever accomplish this, but that seems to be their intended strategy.

So now that I've recapped the last 3 years of history on this topic, I want to follow it here with a personal statement, and I hope others will follow me on this.

My family comes from 500 years of Protestantism. The Schaetzels were some of the first Lutherans baptised in Guntersblum, Germany, just a short drive north of Worms on the Rhine River. Throughout these 5 centuries, they were proud to be Protestants, and some of them remain so today. In the late 20th century, two of my relatives (my grandmother and aunt) converted to the Catholic Church. Then in the year 2000, my wife and I converted to the Catholic Church. I was the last person in my family to cross the Tiber, and my wife was the only one in hers. None of our relatives have followed us, and it now looks like none of them ever will.

My own journey of faith goes like this. I was born Lutheran, raised a Baptist, became an Evangelical as a young adult, before becoming Anglican. Then in 2000, my wife and I (both Anglicans at that time) converted to the Catholic Church.

I know there are some people in the Catholic Church who wish that never happened. I know there are some people in the Catholic Church who would have preferred that we remained Anglicans (Protestants). Why? Because my wife and I hold to the historical teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage and family. We have no previous marriages. We are man and woman. Our marriage is fruitful and has brought two wonderful children into the world. (Our third child didn't make it.) We are not the least bit sorry or ashamed of this, and we will never be. We believe divorce and remarriage, without an annulment, is a sin, and we believe that homosexuality (in all of its manifestations) is a sin as well. We know plenty of homosexual people, and we have good relations with them, but we view their lifestyle as "sinful" just as we do the lifestyle of divorced and remarried people (without an annulment), and cohabiting people, as well as the lifestyle of people who engage in other forms of sexual perversion. I understand that there are a growing number of people in the Catholic Church, even some clergy, who believe that there can be "exceptions" for various sins of a sexual nature. I firmly disagree with them and I will never change my mind on this.

The gospel teaches that we are all sinners, and we are in need of God's forgiveness to be saved not only from temporal self-destruction, but also eternal damnation. Likewise, forgiveness requires repentance. God suffered and died to forgive our sins not condone them. That is the gospel. If we want to have a relationship with God, we need to do so on his terms not ours. He requires sincere repentance, and in turn, he offers unlimited forgiveness. That's the gospel in a nutshell, and that is what I will go to my grave defending.

Where is there left to go besides the Catholic Church? Orthodoxy, though I highly respect it, would be a step backward for me. Protestantism is out of the question. I can never return there, nor would I want to. The Catholic Church is the Church established by Jesus Christ on St. Peter. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI just recently said: "the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing." This was his commentary on the state of the Church today. There are those who want to blame Pope Francis for this. I resist that analysis. The condition the Church is in today is the result of nearly 50 years of a lack of discipline, poor catechises and bad liturgy. (The three always seem to go hand-in-hand.) One man cannot be blamed for all of this. It was a group effort. Multiple people have been trying to change the teaching and character of the Church for decades, and now it's all coming to a head.

The battle began 500 years ago, not just with an Augustinian monk and priest in Germany, but also with a king in England. The latter valiantly defended the Church against the heresies of Luther, but in the end, he joined them by breaking England away from the Catholic Church over an annulment from his saintly wife that Rome refused to grant. In the end, the whole Protestant Reformation was really about two things. Corruption in the Catholic Church related to the sale of indulgences (money), and corruption in the civil authority related to the nature of marriage (King Henry VIII). It doesn't sound too much different than the problems of today, though admittedly today the problems are much worse. The Protestants of northern Europe made a terrible mistake in the 16th century. They retreated from the spiritual battle, by breaking away and making their own churches insulated from it. However, in doing so they made matters even worse for themselves. Retreating from spiritual battle is never a good option. The only real Church ever founded by Christ is the Catholic Church, and she must be defended at all cost. Going off to some other communion, or trying to make one's own, is no longer a viable option. It never really was, but that is much more apparent now.

So what I want to say now is this. I am a Catholic, and I will remain so indefinitely. Much to the chagrin of those who would prefer to change the teachings of the Church on sexual sin, I will continue to defend the traditional gospel until the end of my life, and I WILL NOT EVER LEAVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. They will have to formerly excommunicate me first (on paper, citing the reasons in black and white, so I can frame it and hang it on my wall as a badge of honour to show my children and grandchildren), and even then, if something like that ever happened, I would just identify myself as a martyr for the Catholic faith until my dying day.

My family has been running away from the spiritual battle in Rome and civil governments for 500 years. That's what Protestantism is and always was, a retreat from the spiritual battle of corruption and heresy within the Catholic Church, into schism and bigger heresy. Well on behalf of the Schaetzel family, I just want to say: "We're back!"

I'm hear to fight for Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and Holy Mother Church, and I'm not going away. They can try to do whatever they want to me, but I will never run away from the fight. Leftist heretics within the Church, who want to change the teaching and character of the Church, are going to have to deal with the likes of me, and others like me, who will not back down or go away. Here I stand under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostolic teachings of her Divine Son in the historic Catholic faith! I'm digging in. I will not budge!

I hope others will join me in this resolution.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Catholic Identity Movement

Procession on Sunday, June 7th, A.D. 2015, Canada, Photo Credit: SSPX

There is a grave need in the Catholic Church today for a Catholic Identity Movement. By this I mean a necessity for Catholics, particularly young Catholics, to start identifying themselves as Catholic first, above everything else: race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, politics, peer-groups, etc. We need to begin identifying our very being, who we are, with our Catholic Christian faith. Catholicism should not "influence" us, but rather "define" us. Many people call themselves "Catholic" but few actually have a Catholic Identity...

Characteristics of Catholic Identity...

A person who has a Catholic Identity is one who submits to Jesus as King, and views the pope as his royal prime minister. Bishops are the King's local sheriffs, while priests and deacons are the sheriff's deputies. Catholic identity means submitting to this God-ordained government first. This is our primary government, and we only submit to local civil governments insofar as our primary government (the Church) allows. So naturally we obey the speed limits, traffic laws, tax code, state and city ordinances, etc. However, if any of these things ever violated the sacred law of our first government (the Church) we would have to disobey them. For example; suppose a civil government were to ban the celebration of mass within a certain city limits. Catholic identity would demand that we ignore this civil government since it secondary to the Church. Then we would celebrate the mass anyway, even in secret if necessary, because our primary government demands this. The same principle could be applied to many different things.

A person with Catholic Identity embraces life. Understanding that God is the God of life, and that his desire is to give us life in this world and beyond; Catholic Identity demands that we embrace human life in all its forms, rejecting anything that cheapens life, or destroys it, even if society considers this acceptable and/or legal. This means that while there is often little we can do to prevent people in society from killing themselves and each other, we who embrace Catholic Identity reject these things for ourselves, our families, and our communities/parishes: abortion, euthanasia, cloning, embryonic and foetal stem-cell research, artificial insemination, surrogate pregnancies, executions, riots, and unnecessary wars, etc. For all of these things involve the unnecessary death of human beings (both born and preborn). Therefore, it is vitally important that those of us who embrace Catholic Identity, and the communities we support, valiantly reach out to defend and protect members of our own communities/parishes who's lives are in danger.

As part of embracing life, a person with Catholic Identity absolutely rejects the relativist standards of sexual ethics that are now considered "normal" in Western civilisation. This means that Catholic Identity demands we obey the sexual laws of King Jesus and his Kingdom Church. Sexual activity is to be limited between one biological man, and one biological woman, in the bond of Holy Matrimony for life. Catholic Identity rejects both concurrent polygamy and serial polygamy -- the latter of which is prevalent in Western society in the form of divorce and remarriage. Catholic Identity likewise rejects fornication, cohabitation, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and gender fluidity. It also rejects artificial means of contraception and sterilisation. Catholic Identity understands that these views run counter to societal norms and legal standards. However, we don't care, because our primary society is the Catholic Church, and our primary government is the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, with Jesus Christ as our King. Matrimony is designed to give life because our God is a God of life. Catholic Identity understands sexual relations between a husband and wife as both unification and procreation. Sexual intercourse, under Catholic Identity, is designed solely to bring a man and a woman into complementary biological unity. That is it's primary function. Then, as a direct result of this primary function, procreation naturally occurs, and the unity of the man and woman create a new person (baby). Even in cases of natural infertility, when procreation is not possible, the unification process (sexual intercourse or spousal communion) must be open to the possibility of life (however remote). For with God, all things are possible. Catholic Identity demands we only embrace periods of natural infertility to regulate family size. Catholic Identity demands that we embrace all the marriage laws of the Catholic Church, and reject for ourselves anything outside those laws, regardless of what is considered permissible and legal according to civil law, because civil law is secondary to us.

Catholic Identity means that we marry within the Catholic community. We do not marry non-Catholics, nor do we marry non-practising Catholics. For statistics tell us that children of mixed marriages rarely remain Catholic, and mixed marriages are more likely to end in divorce anyway, which is illegal under Catholic law, hated by God, and leaves families broken. Recent statistics clearly show that when both spouses are practising Catholics, the chances of the marriage surviving are much higher. Furthermore, marriage within the Catholic community simplifies life and makes the relationship easier.

Catholic Identity means we do not trust anyone outside of the Catholic community to educate our children. Therefore, our primary means of education for our children consist of: homeschooling, cooperative schooling, Catholic distance schooling (online or correspondence learning), or sometimes parochial schooling when such schools actually teach Catholic Identity. Catholic communities/parishes should work together to insure that Catholic parents have some of these means at their disposal, and provide both financial and practical support when necessary.

Catholic Identity means that we support others within our Catholic community/parish. When faced with a choice to patron the business of a community/parish member, versus a non-community/parish member, Catholic Identity demands that we patron our fellow parishioners first. Catholic Identity means we always show favour to our own when it comes to business and finance. We only venture our business outside of our community/parish when we need to. This can only be realised by the intentional choice of each member, and a personal resolution to live by this standard. Ideally, Catholic bishops should start robust credit unions, with small offices near every community/parish, to aid in this process. This helps keep our money within the community as much as possible.

Catholic Identity means consciously tuning out of mass media culture. That doesn't mean "cutting the cable" or eliminating all forms of modern communication. What it does mean is carefully limiting what kind of information enters your home and/or media devices. Net Nanny is a service available to parents wishing to accomplish this. Elimination of modern communication devices might reasonably become a last resort, when limiting the content of information becomes too difficult.

Catholic Identity means thinking about the Catholic Church FIRST in all political matters. Translated practically, this means voting in accord with politicians and ballot issues that best protect the safety and freedom of the Catholic Church. Politicians and ballot issues that threaten the Catholic Church's integrity, or safety, or that limit the Catholic Church's freedom to act in accordance with the gospel, are an unacceptable threat to Catholic Identity and must be voted down. While other issues; like abortion, marriage, poverty and climate, are all very important, these come secondary to protecting the safety and freedom of the Catholic Church, regardless of what our Catholic bishops may valiantly say or write. Remember, Catholic Identity sees the Catholic Church as our primary government. Therefore it must be protected at all cost. We are subjects of King Jesus first, and the Church is his Kingdom on earth. It is not the full Kingdom of God, but it is a deposit of that which is to come, and is still very much real in the here and now. We are subjects of the King first, and citizens of our nations second. REMEMBER THAT. While protecting such things as church property and finances are important, they are secondary to protecting our bishops, priests and deacons, along with our fellow parishioners.

Catholic Identity means putting your local community/parish first in all things. This means that we don't just go to church for mass once a week. Catholic Identity means seeking ways to fellowship with communicants/parishioners outside of mass, and finding ways to volunteer at the community/parish in any way possible. It also means finding a Catholic parish that promotes Catholic Identity. This can be done by finding a traditional type of parish (see details here) that is hopefully nearby (within 15 minutes drive). If one is not, and cannot be reasonably found nearby, Catholic Identity means we do something radical. We move. That's right, we move to put ourselves as close to an authentically Catholic community/parish as possible.

Catholic identity means stepping up to the plate financially when it comes to supporting our community/parish. Dropping $5 in the collection plate just won't cut it in a world that is hostile to our Catholic Christian faith. Catholic Identity means we set up a giving method that is habitual, consistent and substantial. For some this means an automatic bank transfer. For others this means having your bank draft and send an automatic check. (This is what I do.) Many banks provide this service free of charge. The amount should be substantial and within the confines of your budget. For some it may mean $10/week. For others this may mean $25/week. For others $50/week. Still others may be able to give more. Financially supporting the work of the Church is one of the 5 Precepts taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. People adhering to Catholic Identity take this seriously.

Catholic Identity means loving traditional ways of Catholic worship -- see details here.

Catholic Identity means being stable. We may move around a bit when we are young, so as to get established with work, but as a general rule, we should always seek to become established near a Catholic community/parish that promotes Catholic Identity (traditional Catholic prayer and devotion -- see details here). Once established, we stay put! Stability is a sign of spiritual maturity, and a willingness to give back to the community/parish. It is necessary for the growth of the community/parish, and the further formation of one's own Catholic Identity. Adult children should try to live close to their parents, and parents' community/parish, whenever possible. When not possible, families should make every effort to remain close in other ways. In addition, Catholic Identity means embracing the community of the local parish as well. This means getting involved in things: prayer groups, Bible studies, charity work, even if it's just a social hour. We must learn to share each other's burdens and rejoice in each other's blessings. Coming closer in community means learning how to forgive. Because everyone has rough edges, and they only way they can be smoothed is to interact and forgive one another for being human.

A person with Catholic Identity will embrace the spiritual disciplines of the Church (fasting & abstinence) as well as organised daily prayer and devotion, both individually and with family. This is in addition to regular confession and mass attendance.

A person with Catholic Identity will embrace social ostracism, social non-conformity, public ridicule, and outright persecution for the Catholic Christian faith. In the West, his may mean losing some career opportunities and/or financial gain.

A woman with Catholic Identity will embrace Mary-like modesty, refusing to conform to the flesh-revealing "norms" of society, and covering the head during times of prayer. The following are some suggested online retailers of modesty clothing for women, but honestly, some of this stuff can be found at conventional retailers too. I'm not telling women to shop here, though you're certainly invited to, but I am saying to use these websites for ideas...

A man with Catholic Identity will likewise embrace modesty, neither showing off too much flesh nor wearing excessively tight clothing.

Both men and women with Catholic Identity will seek modesty in swim wear. One easy solution is the use of sun/swim shirts used primarily for protection from UV radiation from the sun. These can be worn easily by both men and women, boys and girls, not only providing modesty for the upper body, but also the added benefit of protection from sunburn. Boys and men should wear swim trunks as opposed to briefs. Women and girls should seek bathing suits that are one-piece with an attached skirt that hides the thighs and bottom. Some swimwear companies are now offering bathing suits with leggings that go midway down the thigh. Here is one example of this type, but it is certainly not the only retailer marketing to modest women. Catholic Identity means being different. It means being a called-out people from the rest of society. We are not to conform to social fashions and norms. Catholic Identity means we set our own fashions and norms.

Catholic Identity means we resolve ourselves toward learning some Latin. We need not be fluent speakers of Latin, but we should at least know some basics. Here is a short PDF you can download to get you started. Learn these two pages, and you'll already be more familiar with Latin than 90% of people in the Church today. Now, once you've got that down, and if you're ready to really dig into the language of the Church, pick up a copy of Reading Church Latin here. This will keep you busy for several months, but it will teach you a lot. Or if you prefer a total immersion method, and are willing to spend a little more: get First Form Latin, followed by Second Form Latin, followed by Third Form Latin, and Fourth Form Latin, etc. Finally, if Catholic Identity is something you really want to fully incorporate into your life, and you're willing to dedicate a couple years to the language, get Rosetta Stone Latin Software, Level 1-3. This will bring the language to life! Now the reason why I'm recommending it this way is because it's a logical progression. First you download the free PDF and learn the bare basics of Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation. When you're done with that, you get the Church Latin book (or the Form Latin sets), and that primes you fully in Ecclesiastical Latin. Lastly, you get the Rosetta Stone software, and this teaches you how to actually speak Latin conversationally. The software teaches both Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin. There is just a subtle difference of pronunciation between them, Ecclesiastical Latin is simpler. By reading the Church Latin book (or the Form Latin sets) first, you'll be well aware of how to pronounce Latin with an Ecclesiastical accent. Once you've completed Rosetta Stone software, you'll be ready to literally speak Latin with anyone around the world -- FLUENTLY. The point here is to inculcate a fully integrated Catholic identity through language. This helps bring Catholics together, and sets us apart as a distinct people, unique from the world. It also provides a common auxiliary language for Catholics to use with other Catholics who have fully adopted the Catholic Identity around the world. Learning a language takes time and practise. Embracing the Catholic Identity means being patient with yourself, and being realistic about learning another language. Don't set yourself up to fail by expecting too much too fast. Relax and take your time with this. Try to enjoy it. You will be shocked how much learning Latin can actually help your English skills as well as provide an easy bridge to learning other Latino languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, etc.).

Catholic Identity means we reach out to others in love. We don't want to come across as the "uptight traditionalist" who judges others for being less Catholic than himself. We must have compassion for others, and be patient with them. We do not beat people over the head with our beliefs and traditions. Rather, we simply attract them with the demonstration that we are different. Catholic Identity means we reach out to our local communities with charity and kindness, all the while never compromising our beliefs or standards. We should volunteer, and socialise with others, so we don't become "weird" in isolation. Catholic Identity means being counter-cultural, and part of being counter-cultural means showing true Christian charity (real love not sentimentality) to our neighbours (see details here). Remember, the message of the Scriptures is to tell us we are IN the world but not OF the world. We interact with humanity, but we don't imitate it. Above all, we must focus on our Lord and King at all times, for only that will make us joyous.

We are never going to recover our Catholic Identity until we choose to become our Catholic Identity. This needs to be a real movement, with no central head or organisation, but rather an organic grassroots movement starting with individual young people willing to make a commitment. The general rules of this movement, which I've outlined here, are basic guidelines. They are by no means concrete, but should be considered directions. Let the Church be our guide and our organisation. It's time for Catholics to start getting radical again. It's time for Catholic youth to start getting real. This is about surviving as a distinct community within a hostile society and culture. The time is now. Tomorrow is much too late. It's time for a worldwide Catholic Identity Movement. 

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'
A Catholic Guide

to the Last Days

for Protestants

Thursday, June 29, 2017

We Must Return to Tradition

Traditional Latin Mass, St. Agnes Cathedral in Springfield, Missouri, circa 2014

A number of Catholics are starting to realise that we've entered into a new paradigm in history. The sexual revolution and culture wars in the West were not a passing fad. They were, in actuality, a permanent apostasy. Western Civilisation has rejected Christ, for the long-term foreseeable future.

We mustn't make the same mistake as our Evangelical brethren in the Christian faith. Their religion is new (less than a few hundred years old at best), and they've never seen anything like this before. Therefore, they assume that such a radical shift in society signals the end of the world and the impending Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

This is not the case. Catholics should know better. We've been in similar situations before. The first major apostasy came with the Arian Heresy (3rd - 6th centuries AD). At its height, there was a period of time when there were more Arians than Christians. The Mohammedan Heresy (Islam), which is just a rehash of militant Arianism, has dominated the East for over a thousand years now.

More recently the Marxist Heresy (Communism) had completely dominated large portions of the world, and is still a persistent problem in the East, as well as a few beachheads in the West. However, what the West is primarily dealing with right now is the Nietzsche Heresy (Moral Relativism), named after Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) which holds that morality should be constructed actively, making it relative to people, places, time and culture. In other words, there are no moral absolutes. Like all great heresies, this too shall pass, but not until it runs its course and levels society. I think it's reasonable to assume that the Nietzsche Heresy in the West will run at least as long as the Marxist Heresy in the East. The Marxist Heresy is going on its 100th anniversary this year (2017), insofar as widespread acceptance. It's already seen its glory days, so its on a downward trend now. The Nietzsche Heresy will probably get a run close to that. It gained widespread popularity around 1960, so we can expect it to last well into 2060, and possibly a little beyond. Both the Marxist Heresy and the Nietzsche Heresy are destructive to society, each in its own way, but destructive nonetheless. Neither creates any kind of religious or moral structure to replace Christianity, so they inevitably result in the collapse of society. This means we need not worry about them lasting as long as the Arian or Mohammedan heresies. Still, 100 years is a long time. It's unlikely that I'll see the end of it in my lifetime.

Expecting a sudden change, and a return to sensibility, in Western society anytime in the near future, is delusional. Outside of divine intervention on a global level, it's simply not going to happen. In the past, God has simply allowed great heresies to run their course, intervening only in small ways to preserve his Church in the midst of them. We shouldn't expect any more than that. We can pray for more, but we shouldn't expect it. It is far more likely that God will simply carry on with his usual pattern of preserving his own people while the world goes to hell in an hand-basket. Christendom (AD 500 - 1500), for all of its flaws, was the greatest civilisation ever produced. It's no wonder the devil has sought to destroy it so aggressively.

So now what? We need to go back to tradition.

It's already happening. Catholics and Orthodox are returning to tradition, because you see, Christianity only withers and dies insomuch as it has embraced modernity. They say that many Catholic parishes and dioceses in the West have become "protestantised." I've had some time to think about that, and I've decided that as a former Protestant, I'm offended by that, and it's an offence to many Protestants in general. Many Protestants (especially Evangelicals) have rejected the moral relativism that now infects society and the Catholic Church. Catholic churches in the West have not been "protestantised." They've been MODERNISED! They've accepted many of the errors of Modernism, and one of them is the moral relativism of the Nietzsche Heresy, or what I call the "Heresy of Don't Judge -- Be Nice." Many Catholics, of all different backgrounds and traditions, are beginning to realise that some of these parishes and dioceses cannot be reformed. They, like the rest of society, are just going to have to be allowed to run their course. Many Catholic dioceses in the United States are already in a state of managed and orderly decline, with parishes merging, closing, then merging again. Properties are being sold off as a result. It's not going to get any better until our leadership radically changes, and we don't see that happening fast enough. So what are Catholics doing?

They're going back to tradition by attending more traditional parishes. By this I mean parishes that are rejecting modernity and embracing the historic traditions of the Catholic Church. Some of them are driving long distances to attend such parishes. Many more are just switching to the parish on the other side of town. That is what it's going to take to preserve our families, and our faith, in this new paradigm of Nietzsche apostasy in the West.

We Catholics now have three legitimate Patrimonies to choose from: Roman, Eastern and Anglican.

The Roman Patrimony is by far the largest. This is most clearly manifested in parishes that celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, (or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite). Now the parish doesn't have to be an exclusively Latin Mass parish. It may celebrate the Latin Mass only once a week, in conjunction with a more reverent version of the regular Vernacular Mass (Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite) more often. Some of these parishes are diocesan. Others are part of a fraternity or institute. There are LOTS of them. THIS WEBSITE will serve as a very effective tool for finding them, but I do recommend you call the listed parish first, to make sure the information is up to date. I also recommend checking the notes at the bottom of many of these pages for updates as well. Some parishes might not celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass at all, but the priest may still be staunchly orthodox and traditional in the way he celebrates the Vernacular Mass with no innovation or abuse. These parishes should be considered as viable alternatives. 

The Eastern Patrimonies are also a legitimate options for Roman Catholics. Yes, there are more than one type. One doesn't need to change rites to be a participating member of an Eastern Catholic parish. Granted, these parishes are not part of the historic Western culture, but they are a legitimate Catholic expression of Eastern cultures. All of them are in full unity with the pope and the Roman Catholic Church. THIS WEBSITE will serve as a very effective tool for finding them. If no Roman Patrimony parish is nearby, one of these parishes might serve as a viable alternative.

The Anglican Patrimony is a relatively new option for Roman Catholics, because it was only recently reintegrated back into the Catholic Church after 500 years of heresy and schism. However, what was reintegrated was extremely traditional and based on a patrimony that is actually a bit older than the Traditional Latin Mass (Exraordinary Form). This is because the Anglican Patrimony is based on the Serum Use, which was used in England, and throughout the British Isles from AD 1000 to 1535. It's very medieval in character, even though it is technically more closely related to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The Anglican Patrimony is part of the Western tradition, so it shares many features with the Roman Patrimony. The name of this Form of the Roman Rite is called Divine Worship, and it is a legitimate option for any Roman Catholic to attend. Though this form of liturgy is exclusive to Personal Ordinariate parishes, one does not need to be a member of the Ordinariate to attend. A Roman Catholic doesn't even need to become a member of the Ordinariate to become an active member of such parishes.

  • THIS MAP shows the official Ordinariate parishes in North America.
  • THIS MAP shows them in the British Isles.
  • THIS WEBSITE shows them in Oceania.
  • While THIS MAP (available soon) will show all of them, along with additional startup groups in various areas.

Whatever Patrimony a Catholic chooses to preserve his faith and family in, it's not nearly as important as getting involved in some kind of traditional parish. That's the main thing. When society takes a turn like this, the way people survive is they hunker down in tradition. We get back to what you know works. We return to the faith of our forefathers. That's what many Catholics are already doing. That's where the majority of Catholic youth is heading. If you haven't already done so, it's time for you do the same.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants