The Point – November 1952

Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center

November, 1952

POINTERS

During the month of October, a revised version of the Protestant Bible was published. To ensure its sale to the already Bible-laden Protestants, the editors threw in a revision they were sure would delight all Protestant hearts and make them glad to pay out $6 to have a copy of this one on the parlor table. In Isaias 7:14, where it says, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” the new Protestant Bible has changed it to read, “Behold a young woman … ”

The Catholic press commenting on this was notable, as always, for its lack of resentment. It showed great eagerness to defend the “scholarship” of the Protestants, but none at all to defend the virginity of the Mother of God.

In the Rome to which he never returned religiously, Professor George Santayana recently ended a brief illness and a lifetime of skepticism. For the past eleven years, Santayana had lived in Rome among the Blue Sisters, Catholic nuns of the Little Company of Mary, and it was in their hospital that he died.

George Santayana (1863-1952) (1882-1973) Images via Life Photo Archive
George Santayana (1863-1952)
Images via Life Photo Archive

From Harvard, there came all the official sympathy appropriate to the demise of a former employee. At Princeton, there was a perceptible dampness in the eyes of Dr. Maritain. In Rome, there were ever-so-slight qualms of conscience on the part of the Blue Sisters, who had required of Santayana much pill-taking, but no Hail Marys.

In case you thought a few months ago that the Catholic book situation couldn’t get any worse, here are a few current reasons why you were wrong. From Confucius to Christ, three dollars worth of confusion resulting from the admission that Confucius is to Dr. Paul Sih’s Catholicism what Saint John the Baptist ought to be; Walls Are Crumbling, in which convert Father Oesterreicher, nostalgic for the delicatessens of his childhood, writes on three Jews who came into the Church and four who didn’t, finds all seven equally Christian; Life of Baron Von Hugel, portrait of a modernist who never left the Church, drawn by that friend of liberalism and of the Catholic World, M. de la Bedoyere; Just for Today, the latest Christopher perpetration, a kind of spiritual, but interdenominational, Farmer’s Almanac, which includes 365 Father-Keller-prayers, all of them addressed to a pre-Bethlehem deity.

(from left to right) Dr. Paul Kwang Tsien Sih Image via Taiwan Today, Fr. John Maria Oesterreicher (1904-1993) Image via The Jewish Daily Forward, Michael de la Bédoyère (1900-1973) Image via Amazon
(from left to right) Dr. Paul Kwang Tsien Sih (right)
Image via Taiwan Today, Fr. John Maria Oesterreicher (1904-1993)
Image via The Jewish Daily Forward, Michael de la Bédoyère (1900-1973)
Image via Amazon

On the 19th of April back in the year 1602, there was a little more hope for the Catholic book situation. On that day, a London bookseller, Blessed James Duckett, was martyred for the Catholic Faith. Here is the way his biographer describes the martyr’s last moments: “James Duckett showed great alacrity in his mind, and spoke boldly and cheerfully, to the astonishment of many beholders. He said of how he professed that he died a Catholic, and that so he had lived; … telling the people in general that he was most willing to die for that cause, and that it was as impossible for any to be saved outside of the Catholic Church as for any to avoid the deluge that was outside of Noah’s Ark.”

With roasted turkeys and warmed-over platitudes, Protestant America will observe this month its one religious feast day. Called Thanksgiving, it is the annual commemoration of a Plymouth Rock picnic, at which refugee Puritans and barbarian Indians abandoned their respective deities and diets and thanked a common god for their common gluttony.

In an effort to spread the “Thanksgiving” spirit, the November issue of Maryknoll magazine has gone out of its way to find a suitable infidel with whom it can share a general outlook on divinity. Beneath a snapshot of a Christ-and-Mary-hating Mohammedan, the priests of Maryknoll protest, “ … we hold a common faith in God.”

THE CHURCH MILITANT AND THE CHURCH DILETTANTE

On October 7, the Church commemorates in her liturgy the Battle of Lepanto. It was on this date, in the year 1571, that a small Christian fleet under the command of Don John of Austria halted and destroyed the powerful Turkish forces that were threatening to invade and overrun Europe. To secure this miraculous victory, Pope St. Pius V, who then reigned, asked the faithful to storm Heaven with the Rosary, beseeching Our Lady to crush these enemies of her and her Son and to save Europe from their scourge. That is why, on October 7, to commemorate the glorious victory of the Christians over the Mohammedans at Lepanto, the Church celebrates the feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

Lepanto was the last, late impulse of that great movement known as the Crusades, a movement which had begun in the final years of the eleventh century and which had as its purpose to rescue the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb in which the precious body of Christ had lain, from the hands of the infidels. It was for this that millions of Christians left homes and lands and families, to journey to a strange country, and there to shed their blood fighting a strange people, a people who rejected and despised their God, and who thereby made themselves the enemies of those who loved Him.

The Holy Sepulchre is today in the hands of the infidels, just as it was at the time of the Crusades. (It has, indeed, been turned into a giant Interfaith temple, with Mohammedans holding the keys to the place, and Catholics, Orthodox, Monophysites and others holding services there.) But if a Catholic of our day were to suggest going off to the Holy Land to fight for possession of the Holy Sepulchre, he would be immediately labeled, by his pastor and everyone who heard of him, “out of his mind.” For there is no group in the history of the Church with whom modern, successful American Catholics have less in common than the Crusaders. There is nothing so remote from their interests and aspirations as trying to recapture the Holy Sepulchre.

But it is not merely in their unwillingness to fight for the Holy Sepulchre that American Catholics show their estrangement from the Crusaders. For the Crusades were more than a particular war for a particular objective at a particular time. They were motivated by a spirit, and that spirit has been shared by all faithful Christians at all times. It is a spirit that thinks the salvation of one’s soul is the most important task one has to accomplish, and is ready to sacrifice any lesser good to that end. It is a spirit that thinks the kingdom of Heaven is taken by violence, and that only the violent bear it away. It is a spirit that is sensitive to blasphemy, zealous to defend holy things, and wrathful when it sees them profaned. It is a spirit that thinks the enemies of Jesus and Mary ought to be the enemies of all Christians. It is a spirit that looks on life itself as a continual warfare: a warfare of right against wrong, of good against evil, of the seed of Our Lady against the seed of Satan; a warfare we must wage both within ourselves, to root out the evil that is there, and in the world outside; a warfare we must wage to save our souls, with the Cross as our shield and our standard.

There is nothing of this spirit among American Catholics. To them, life is not a warfare, but a pursuit for peace. They want to be peaceful both toward the evil that is in themselves and toward the evil that is in the world. They look on the Church as a kind of spiritual Rotary Club that has a slap on the back and a good word for everyone.

Despite the blasphemy, the lust, the greed and degeneracy that are accepted and expected commonplaces in American life, American Catholics still refuse to believe that this is a country opposed to Jesus and Mary. Despite this country’s continual and blatant profanation of the Holy Name of Jesus, despite its sniggering filth that constantly affronts the spotless purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, American Catholics still give no indication that the Faith has any enemies closer than J. Stalin. They show neither by their words nor by their actions any determination to stop these things or to separate and distinguish themselves from the people responsible for them. Instead, it seems that their main concern is to befriend these non-Catholic fellow-Americans of theirs, and to assure them that, whether they know it or not, and whether they like it or not, they have by their innate goodness and sincerity established themselves as members of the soul of the Church, on which account they are going to spend eternity in the Beatific Vision.

Every Catholic boy longs somehow for a crusade. He knows that that is what the Faith is meant to be — a glorious campaign for the love and honor of Jesus and Mary. And its fruits should be zeal, and courage, and sanctity, and greatness. But a Catholic boy in America does not find these things. Instead of the Faith being the most important thing in his life, something to give himself to wholeheartedly, something to fight for and to die for, the Faith is made to seem to him humdrum, and routine, and not nearly as exciting as most other things. He is told that the Faith is something that he is required to hold, but that others are not. He is told that people who are plainly enemies of Christ and His Church are fundamentally good-willed and are trying to serve God according to their lights. He is told that his primary duty is not preaching and protecting the sacred dogmas of the Faith, but is rather some cause like “brotherhood” that he has in common with those who reject such dogmas.

To an American Catholic boy, there seems to be no reason, no incentive for a crusade. The Church in America does not seem to need him to fight for it, or to want him to. It seems to be an organization that is politically powerful, wealthy, successful — and religiously unnecessary. It fights no battles and wins no victories. It produces no saints and inspires no heroes. It has no Don Johns, no St. Pius V’s, no Lepantos.

BY FATHER FEENEY

GUESS WHERE
Now Our Lord came down and was born below,
In a what would you say if you didn’t know?
Wrong! …
No, there wasn’t much shelter, but lots of song.
It was altogether unorthodox:
For instance, an ass, and, for instance, an ox,
Who were lacking in minds of the right precision,
And who made the view while they missed the vision.
But other attendants were called at once: —
Creatures, I mean, with intelligent eyes:
A distant sage and a nearby dunce,
For a shepherd, as well as a king, is wise:
And you had to have wisdom to get invited,
When the Wordling of God by the moon was lighted.

But where were the others, the in-betweens,
Who measure Madonnas by merely means,
Who make their Messiahs of potentates,
Of would-be giants and would-be greats?
They were idling in inns with the door shut tight,
Where they’ve stayed for two thousand years, not quite,
Night after Night-Before-Christmas Night.

AVE VERUM CORPUS NATUM
What little lambs and ewes
Went running to peruse …
What baby calves and goats
And chickens out of shells
And heifers with their bells
And fillies lately born
Espied among their oats …

What dull-eyed oxen saw
Commingling with their corn,
Strewn over with their straw …

What donkeys with dismay
Found hiding in their hay …

Abiding in our wheat,
In mystery complete,
At a far stranger manger
Is given us to eat.

THE NEW SOCIETY OF JESUS

Saint Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in the year 1534. This society preached the Catholic Faith, fought heretics, converted pagans, and produced twenty-six canonized saints during its two hundred thirty-nine year existence. In 1773, a bull of suppression, issued by Pope Clement XIV, marked the end of the Society of Jesus.

There is, in the minds of contemporary Catholics, an understandable confusion with regard to the designation, “Society of Jesus.” This confusion dates from the year 1814. In that year, Pope Pius VII attempted to revive the original Society of Jesus, the one founded by Saint Ignatius. Worthy as the project was, and with all respect for the Pope’s efforts, the order which Pius VII got back was, unhappily, the wrong one. What could be more confusing, therefore, than to believe, however sincerely, that the present-day Society of Jesus is the same Society founded by Saint Ignatius in the sixteenth century!

To eliminate any further difficulty with these two religious orders, The Point presents, below, a review of the New Society of Jesus. Any student of history, and all lovers of Saint Ignatius, will see that there can be no more than a nominal connection between this 1814 order and the one that produced Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Francis Borgia, and Saint John Francis Regis.

The New Society of Jesus has nowhere produced a canonized saint. It has contented itself with begetting the “Jesuit,” a type which, though recognizable the world over, allows of variation according to nation. In England, the Jesuit is often a convert and invariably odd — which may be demonstrated even from his most considered English statements, his published ones. This is the way Father C. C. Martindale, looking back on his conversion, sums up: “Hence, became a Catholic, hating it.” And here is how Father Gerard Hopkins, looking ahead to his resurrection, prophesies:

“I am all at once what Christ is, since
He was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch,
matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.”

The French Jesuit is much more articulate, but in much foggier pursuits. One of his specialties is discursive theology, a kind of mental ju-jitsu which enables him to be loyal to both Evolution and Genesis, without being accused of talking through his beret. It is the French-style Jesuit which prompted Mr. Webster to list “jesuit” (with a small j) as meaning, “a casuist; a crafty person; an intriguer.”

In close-by Belgium, the Jesuit truly makes the grade when he is invited to become a “Bollandist,” a member of that patient group of researchers who can cast doubts on the hagiology of almost any saint since the time of, and including, the Apostles. If he can’t be a Bollandist, the Belgian Jesuit would just as soon leave the country. Few non-Bollandists, however, have left as gracefully as Father J. B. Janssens, who went to Rome and became the present General of the New Society. In Italy, the General has made a hit by fostering such local Jesuit talent as Father R. Lombardi, the itinerant peddler of lots-more-love-for-whatever-God-you-believe-in.

Education is the chief assignment of the American Jesuit. His teaching is done in schools with rest-home names (Shadowbrook, Fairfield, Spring Hill, Rockhurst), schools where a Catholic boy can lay in a supply of rote and rational answers to Alexander VI, chained bibles, and indulgences.

Found apart from his chalk-and-blackboard setting, the American Jesuit is of no predictable pattern. He may be Father Edmund Walsh, living in Washington, wearing a cape, and giving the government sacerdotal go-aheads on deadlier atomic bombs. He may be Father Daniel Lord, the apostle of musical-comedy Christianity, whose sustained levitical levity makes the Catholic Church about as inviting as a midwestern clambake. He may even be Father Robert Hartnert, who puts out a magazine in which he protects his fellow-Americans against Colombian Catholics and Spanish Cardinals.

In no case will an American member of the New Society of Jesus be mistaken for a priest like Saint Isaac Jogues, an original Jesuit who kept telling the original Americans that they had to love Jesus and Mary, until, one day, he literally lost his head.

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