Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
In the October, 1953, issue of The Point, we reported how the Catholic Digest had been rebuked by the Bishop of Saint Augustine, Florida, for some bad theology in one of its articles. We advised the Digest to stay away from anything theological in the future and to stick to its usual features in the fields of medicine, sociology, and household hints.
But our advice went unheeded. Last month the Catholic Digest published another religious article, this time in the field of moral theology, and, sure enough, it had to be slapped down again. The piece was a contribution from the English Dominican, Gerald Vann. The archdiocese of Detroit issued an official protest against Father Vann’s religious ethics, saying that his article contained “several errors,” and “flaws that tend to be dangerous to a high degree.”
The Point neither subscribes to, nor purchases, the Catholic Digest. We see it only when someone in the neighborhood calls one of its erroneous articles to our attention. Of late, there is someone at our door nearly every month.
Recent reports from Paris, and the very welcome statement by Cardinal Lienart of Lille, indicate that the French priest-worker movement is now just about over. Deo Gratias!
And what Cardinal Lienart says about the priest-workers (“To be a priest and to be a worker are different functions, two different states of life, and it is not possible to unite them in the same person without changing the idea of the priesthood”) applies quite as much to those functions which are currently being hyphenated with the priesthood of our American priests.
How about priest-sociologists, priest-television stars, priest-financiers? Or how about our American priest-anthropologists whose “two different states of life,” the sacerdotal and the scientific, lead them to abandon cassocks for overalls, sanctuaries for silt deposits, and Catholic colleges for secular universities, so as to discredit the account of creation given us in the inspired Book of Genesis?
HELL-BENT FOR HEAVEN
If there is one thing the spokesmen for American Catholicism are convinced of, it is that the present state of this country is thoroughly and flagrantly hellish. And, from Cardinal Spellman to Joe Breig, they proclaim this conviction constantly, insistently, and with endless variety.
They write books on our national insanity; they launch diocesan-newspaper attacks against our filthy literature; they issue official statements deploring the condition of family life in America; they give sermons and lectures on our unrestrained selfishness and greed.
Each week Bishop Sheen speaks to fifteen million people, who presumably are in the depths of despair — if not actually contemplating suicide — and tries to persuade them that life is worth living. Even smiling Father James Keller, urging his Christophers to light candles rather than curse the darkness, manages to convey the impression that there is a lot of darkness to curse.
The most notable thing in the statements of these Catholic spokesmen, however, is not what they say; — the existence of the evils they describe is a matter of universal observation and acknowledgment — rather, it is what they leave unsaid. For there is one strange, glaring omission in all their accusations, one inescapable conclusion which they are determined to escape.
They will call the American people drunken, divorced, delinquent, debauched; but they will not say that unless the American people amend their ways they are going to lose their souls. They will denounce, deplore, reprehend, rail against the iniquity of our country; but they will not say the one thing that might shock, frighten the country out of its iniquity: they will not say that it is headed for Hell.
And not only will they not say this, but they become terribly upset if anyone else says it. “Judge not,” they snap, not bothering that they have already judged, and you are just making the necessary conclusion from their judgment.
These Catholic complainers have drawn a sharp, impassable line between matters which they think concern only the temporal, social sphere, and those which they think concern the Faith. And they keep their discussion of American iniquity determinedly in the former category. This arrangement accounts for the fact that the same people who are painted as being so horrible and degenerate in one article, become suddenly, when the subject of salvation is brought up, “fundamentally good and sincere people whom God in His mercy would not permit to be lost.” They act on the principle that it is all right to say anything you please about the American people, just so long as you are careful to preserve for them a place in Heaven.
The barrier between what belongs to man’s social and what belongs to his spiritual welfare, also explains why it is that so many prominent Catholics are willing to condemn, say, Harvard for being Communistic. But they would never condemn Harvard for being against Jesus and Mary. That, they are afraid, would be considered bigotry and religious fanaticism.
Though these spokesmen for temporized Catholicism decry the present state of the nation and say they want a change, it is hard to see why they should. As long as people like their present way of life, and as long as they are assured that everything will work out fine in the end as far as their salvation is concerned, what difference should it make what state things are in?
Bishop Sheen complains that no one knows how to think, and says he is going to teach them how. But why should people bother thinking when he gives them nothing worthwhile to think about? (It is his firm policy to stay off the subject of the Faith and to talk only of large, inoffensive generalities.) How is thinking an improvement over non-thinking, unless you have the right thoughts?
Father Keller wants his Christophers to change the world, but it is not at all clear what he wants them to change it to, or what advantage his new world will have over the present one.
The remedies that these priests prescribe for getting rid of the evils of the world will never be effective, or even be tried, because they have no strength in them, no value, no purpose. (How much influence has Father Keller’s friendship had on Bing Crosby, who has just had to be reprimanded by the Catholic press for the filthiness of his television program?)
All these temporizers vitiate their own accusations against America by their refusal to back them up with the threat of eternal damnation. And consequently, no one takes them seriously. For all their frantic yelling, the situation keeps getting worse and worse. And it will continue to get worse as long as America is dominated by priests like Bishop Sheen and Father Keller.
Let us pray, then, for courageous priests who will tell America that the cause of its wholesale iniquity is its wholesale rejection of the Catholic Faith, and that the only way it can be saved is to accept the Faith. And let us pray that these priests will be listened to, so that our country may at last become in fact what it has long been in dedication — the land of the Immaculate Conception.
BY FATHER FEENEY
Catholicism is not only a matter: a truth to be told; it is also a manner: a way of telling it. Manner makes meaning quite as much as matter does. To say what Christ said, but not in the way He said it, (that is to say: without enthusiasm, determination, excitement, wonder, challenge, indignation, summons and alarm) is an evasion and an apostasy. The Christian Gospel is good news, but with an emphasis on the news. It is exciting enough to have had the Heavens open at Our Lord’s birth for its sake, and to have had angels in the sky shouting and singing it to shepherds.
There is also a Protestant manner. If it cannot be defined or described, at least it may be identified. It is the manner in which it is utterly impossible to profess any clear or vital Christian certitude. Its credentials in academic circles (which will vouch for its kindred behavior everywhere) are: the subdued voice, the indefinite reference, the qualified statement, the sustained smile. There is not a single Scripture Text that can survive on the support of such a symposium.
The Protestant manner in religious discussion never has anything revelational to disclose, only something unrevealed to protect. Its cult is that of personal integrity. In the midst of controversy, when it is not saying, “ Please don’t argue!”, its constant incantation is: “I hope you do not think I am insincere!”
The Protestant manner has no dogma to disclose, but it is capable of a liturgy of sorts. Its liturgical urges range all the way from the static repose of the Quaker to the dynamic ubiquity of the Holy Roller. The happy mean between these extremes in contemplative and active performance, is the unhappy Anglo-Catholic: the superstitious Protestant with good taste.
MEET DOCTOR LIVERMORE
Meet Doctor Grosvenor Livermore,
That most discreet psychopathic M. D.;
Greet him and tell him what you most abhor,
And let him look at you suspiciously.
He’ll be unsurprised as anything;
He will always have known you of yore;
And a nice little vice, disguised as anything:
Well, that’s what Doctor Livermore is for.
So sit down, and listen to him chatter,
While he tells you what to tell him is the matter;
And if you fear what he’s afraid that you have got:
If you’re a split personality nut;
A completely unmotivated mutt;
If your innate decency is everything but —
There is no need to shiver more,
Once you meet Doctor Livermore.
THE HAMMER OF FREEMASONS
The Catholics of the United States of America need never fear a Mason-inspired revolution of the kind that French Catholics suffered in the eighteenth century, or that Italian Catholics suffered in the nineteenth century, or that Mexican Catholics have just now in our own day suffered. This is because, unlike France, Italy, Mexico, or any place else, the United States of America was under strong Masonic influence from the start.
There was in attendance, as America was born, an eminently versatile group of lodge-members. Among them, there were capable rousers of the people, like Brother Thomas Paine and Grand Master Paul Revere. And there were coarse men with only their muskets and their aprons to recommend them, like Brother Ethan Allen. But, most important, there were Masons of the international variety, of the highest councils of Masonry, control-men like Brother Benjamin Franklin, the publisher of Masonic handbooks, the bargainer who had access to every Masonic gathering on the Continent, the delight of the Illuminati, and of Talleyrand, Mirabeau, and Lafayette.
From the days of these men to the present, American Masonry has never lost the share of power it so well secured at the outset. Half of our Presidents have openly admitted they were Freemasons. The Great Seal of the United States is composed of Masonic symbols and embellished with a motto which is Masonry’s supreme goal, “Novus Ordo Seclorum.” (This plea in Latin for a “new world order” may be found on all current one-dollar bills.) Given the opportunity, the controlling Masons will always involve our country in the intrigues of their Brothers throughout the world. Usually, the aid they offer takes the form of the aforesaid dollars, though in cases like the Mexican revolt, it can be extended to include guns, food, and pats-on-the-back from President Wilson.
To Catholics who love their country, and therefore want to see it become Catholic, the realization of this Masonic hold on America is often discouraging, for there is no other one group so ably intent on keeping America not Catholic as are the American Masons.
This year, however, American Catholics who want a Catholic America are getting some encouragement in their necessary battle against the Masons. It has been announced that, during the Marian Year, His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, will canonize Blessed Gaspar del Bufalo, the Italian priest who is known by the glorious title, “Hammer of Freemasons.”
At Rome, in the year 1810, Blessed Gaspar del Bufalo was sentenced to the dungeons at Imola for refusing, out of obedience to the Pope, to take an oath of allegiance to Napoleon. After four years of imprisonment, Blessed Gaspar returned to Rome and founded his order, “The Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood.” By every device, the Italian Masons tried to undo his work. They first tried to get Pope Leo XII to suspend him. Ultimately, this failed. The next plot of his enemies was defeated by Blessed Gaspar’s holy shrewdness. He saw that in securing for him an appointment as papal nuncio to Brazil, they were easing both him and his attacks on Masonry out of the country. Blessed Gaspar refused to go. But the final plan of his enemies did succeed. In the year 1830, the “Hammer of Freemasons” was silenced by Pope Pius VIII, his faculties were taken away from him, and his order was all but abolished. When he died, seven years later, he had been allowed to say Mass again, but his order was still not functioning with full papal approval.
Blessed Gaspar, after all these misfortunes, is in for some successes this year. Not the least of them will be the countless invocations from hopeful American Catholics: “Hammer of Freemasons, pray for us!”