The Point – November 1955

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

November, 1955

POINTERS

Now that Mass is being celebrated in front of television cameras, Catholics find they have to cope with problems of liturgy in their living rooms. Tuning in on the Holy Sacrifice, Catholics are faced with such considerations as: Should we go on smoking? Should we stop the card game? Should we get out our missals? Should we all get down on our knees at the Consecration?

In the earlier days of the Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was thought so sacred that it was kept entirely concealed from unbelievers, lest it be blasphemed. Even catechumens were not allowed to witness its most solemn parts.

The American hierarchy, however, are so remote from this kind of zeal for guarding holy things that they have abandoned the Mass to the barroom blasphemies and drawing room dismissals of the nation’s television viewers.

There is cause for much rejoicing among Interfaith Catholics who have been embarrassed by the fact that canonized saints are an exclusively Catholic concern. By next fall, publisher Frank Sheed will have on the market an interdenominational treatment of the lives of the saints appropriately entitled Saints for Now.

Edited by that eminent authority on sanctity, Mrs. Henry Luce, the book will contain evaluations of well known saints by prominent English and American, Catholic and otherwise, authors.

Saints for Now should have a good sale. A great many people will be curious to read about Whittaker Chambers’ ardent devotion to Saint Benedict; and Bruce Marshall’s “world, the flesh, and Fr. Vianney” treatment of the Cure of Ars; and most curious to learn from Mortimer Adler just how a Jewish Thomist feels about the Catholic Saint he has been making his living on.

Congratulations to Sheed & Luce for sensing that this kind of text must have a few illustrations by Salvador Dali.

The Spanish magazine Ecclesia has come to the defense of Spain’s primate, Cardinal Segura, who recently condemned the adoption of any attitude of “benevolence” toward Protestants, and as a result of it was taken over the coals by the Catholic Press of the U. S. To the Indiana Catholic, which said that Spain was “calling the cops on the Protestants four centuries late,” Ecclesia replied, with devastating forthrightness, that far from being four centuries late, Spain had immediately realized the dangers of Protestantism in the sixteenth century, and had organized the Inquisition to combat them. And to Fr. Robert Hartnett, S. J., editor of America, who had attacked the Cardinal on the score that his “theology leaves political philosophy out of account,” Ecclesia replied by saying that in their opinion it was more important for Catholics to “conform with theology and papal encyclicals than with political philosophy.” They declared, also, that in his article Fr. Hartnett had proclaimed “real doctrinal errors contrary to papal encyclicals.”

Fr. Hartnett, grinning broadly to show how calm he could remain in the face of this Spanish fury, decided, inappropriately, that this was the time to put into practice the Jesuit principle: When confounded, distinguish. In answer to the charge that he was uttering heresy, Fr. Hartnett mumbled, “That is only one of two tenable positions.”

AMERICAN POWER AND CATHOLIC FREEDOM

The Catholic Church in the United States is, slowly but inevitably, making itself completely unnecessary. By missing the point of its existence — to be the one Divinely-ordained way in which men may work out their salvation — the Church is putting itself in a gravely perilous position. It is turning itself into just another sect. It is letting itself be swept up in the new American super-religion: Interfaith.

Interfaith is that unchaste union of creeds that is fast becoming the state religion of the United States. It has the great advantage for this purpose of not being restricted by any sectarian commitments. It transcends all previous religions, and then offers a synthesis of them that is tailor-made for democracy. Democracy has a passion for making everything be just like everything else, for dragging everything down to the same mediocre level. Interfaith is the religious manifestation of that passion. It eliminates all religious differences, and provides one standard, die-stamped faith that is suited to all. Interfaith makes no demands in the way of positive doctrine; it offers only vague aspirations as to how everyone ought to love everyone. It aims to remove any possibility of discord or unpleasantness over such an unimportant thing as religion, by making it completely innocuous. The tenets of Interfaith, usually presented in the form of slogans, are these: that every belief is worthy of respect; that no one should ever say anything against another’s faith; that it does not matter what you hold as long as you are sincere; that such things as “good will” and “brotherhood” are more important than dogmas. Although it has not yet gone so far, we may expect that before long Interfaith will outlaw saying that Jesus is God, for fear of giving offense to those who think He is not, and do not want Him called so.

Interfaith is clearly bent on the destruction of all dogma and certitude, which it plans to accomplish under the banner of freedom of religion. To ask us to respect every belief, no matter how fantastic, is to ask us to respect none. To ask a Catholic, committed to certain clear and definite dogmas, to respect a religion that categorically denies these dogmas, is to ask him to give up the Faith. And that is what Interfaith asks.

The only way the Church could keep from being destroyed by such a powerful and insidious enemy as Interfaith would be constantly to guard against it, constantly to fight its influence. But the Church is so anxious to be liked in America, and Interfaith is so obviously America’s religious darling, that the Church does not dare oppose it. Every day there are pictures in the newspapers of Catholic priests posing with Protestant ministers and Jewish rabbis at Interfaith rallies. There is an almost frantic eagerness on the part of Catholics to show their liberality toward other religions.

“The things on which we agree are vastly more important than the things on which we differ,” is not the statement of an American diplomat urging England to put aside petty differences and join in the fight against Russia; it is the statement of an American Catholic priest assuring non-Catholics of his conformity to the Interfaith code; and the less-important “things on which we differ,” are such things as the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady.

So engulfed in Interfaith has the Church in America become, that most Catholics no longer know what are the true doctrines of the Church. Most of them seem to be firmly convinced that the slogans of Interfaith are articles of the Creed. “I don’t think it matters what church you belong to,” they tell you, “as long as you lead a good life.”

The fact that such a statement is heresy apparently interests no one. Certainly not the priests. It is impossible that the priests are unaware of this wholesale ignorance of the Faith; it is impossible that they are unaware of the heresies their parishoners are holding; but still they do nothing about it. Either they must feel that they do not know enough theology themselves to correct the situation, or else they do not think it is important enough to bother about.

You almost never hear of an American priest or bishop who is publicly and openly exhorting non-Catholics to come into the Church, telling them of the Church’s singular prerogatives and possessions. Any general appeals they make are that men of all faiths get together to fight against materialism or atheism or gambling or corruption in government, or some other such agreeable Interfaith endeavor. There is never any insistence on the strong, central Catholic truths, never any mention of the fact that the Church is the sole custodian of the one true Faith given by Our Lord to His Apostles, and that it alone possesses the  means for attaining eternal life. One would think, listening to these clerics, that the Church had nothing more valuable to give than its money, for the building of non-denominational hospitals.

There is no doubt but that the temptation to seek the approval and respect of non-Catholic Americans is a potent one; and the Church here seems to have succumbed to it. The only condition that has been asked for this approval is that the Church play down those challenging, disturbing dogmas that set it apart from all other religions, and substitute for them the inoffensive slogans of Interfaith. As evidence of the American clergy’s willingness to do this, here is a statement by Archbishop Cushing of Boston:

“There must be an end of feuding over religious dogmas and a resurgence of tolerance and magnanimity. We cannot any longer afford the luxury of fighting one another over doctrines concerning the next world …”

However much this kind of statement might increase the Archbishop’s popularity, however much it might win him applause from Interfaithers, it is clearly a denial of that Catholic Faith which, as a bishop, he is pledged to preserve, even to the shedding of his blood.

BY FATHER FEENEY

The London Jew is, in points, identical with the Jew from all great capital cities. But comparisons of him come clearest when he is contrasted with the Jew from Berlin. The Jew from London is an idealist. The Jew from Berlin is an ideologist. The Berlin Jew has hopes for his thoughts. The London Jew has hopes for his investments. Neither is the original Jew from Jerusalem. And their defections can be put most neatly in a deliberate play on words. The one has stopped studying the Law and the Prophets. The other has started studying the Profit and the Loss.

One may ask who is responsible for what is known as the London Jew — is it London, or is it the Jew? I say it is London. I admit that London’s Jew is responsible for his own unrest — as a despiser of the Old and New Testaments for the sake of his old and new investments. But the Bank of England was not the escape the Rothschilds were looking for. It was the escape that London’s Calvinism provided. For though London’s liturgies are supported by Anglicanism, its morals are founded in Calvinism. And Calvinism is the Christian support of usury.

Lutheranism is the Christian support of totalitarianism; which is the obsession of the Jew from Berlin. When the Jew from the Holy Land went to the Rhineland, he found Christian corruptions there to ease his conscience and soothe his religious nostalgias. He found the Christian mind overplaying itself at the expense of Christian values. He found Luther’s super-theology — his “Faith without good works” — his belief in belief — his fat-headedness without performance — his frenzy without finesse. This gave the Jew from Jerusalem his chance to be a mental Messiah, and to start a procession of prophetic intellectualism that has lasted down to our day; and has included: Kant the super-philosopher; Hegel the super-ontologist; Heine the super-poet; Wagner the super-musician; Nietzsche the super-sociologist; Marx the super-economist; Freud the super-psychologist; Mann the super-Romanticist; Einstein the super-mathematician. All these Jewish versions of the Lutheran lead have contributed to the development of German intellectualism, and the collapse of German intelligence. The climax came when an apostate Catholic from Austria ran into Germany with a queer mustache, took over the militia, and out-Jewed the Jews. He became the super-German. And that was the end of Germany.

(from London is a Place, Ravengate Press)

Varieties of Religious Experience III — The Yankee Clippers

In Boston, one Sunday morning in 1785, the Episcopalian parishioners of King’s Chapel showed up for services with their Books of Common Prayer in one hand and well-inked quills in the other. Systematically they deleted from their liturgy any reference to the Three Persons in God. This rebuke to centuries of Christmases, this disdain for the Word made Flesh, marked the beginning of the Unitarian Church.

Trusting that God-the-Father would survive in King’s Chapel, after they had annihilated God-the-Son and God-the-Holy Ghost, these resourceful Bostonians decided that an appropriate inscription should be placed on the walls of their meeting house, to indicate the kind of divinity that was currently being worshipped there. A bigoted papist of that day was tarred and feathered for suggesting that the following might go very well on the walls of King’s Chapel:

Here God and manger were estranged,
When our discrete barbarians
Twice murdered Him, and then arranged
Themselves as Unitarians.

From its start, Unitarianism was well received in Boston. Its repudiation of the Blessed Trinity and its contempt for “Romanism” made the movement a most acceptable Boston institution. The principal credit for this success belongs rightfully to that man who was pledged to defend Christ against “the superstitious abuses of Catholic priests,” that Doctor of Unitarian Divinity, William Ellery Channing.

Bill Channing, as he was never called, brought to Unitarianism all the advantages of a Harvard education. In his many speeches and public writings, the Unitarian message is presented with cultivated manner and flawless grammar. The American Unitarian Association has proudly preserved the doctrinal pronouncements of Channing, hoping thus to further his “beneficent influence.”

For the benefit of those who are unacquainted with the tenor of William Ellery Channing’s “beneficence,” here are a few examples.

Having deplored those great world tyrannies, “heathenism, Mohammedanism, and Roman Catholicism,” Dr. Channing adds, “Do you ask me how I think Catholicism may be successfully opposed? I know but one way. Lift men above Catholicism.” Of the union of two natures in the one adorable Person of Jesus, Channing says, “Such a being is certainly the most puzzling and distracting object ever presented to human thought.” To Our Blessed Mother, Dr. Channing extends this bit of Harvard chivalry, “A superstitious priesthood and people imagine that they honor the Virgin Mary by loading her image with sparkling jewels.” His detached appraisal of Our Lord’s death on Calvary has been recorded this way, “Infinite Divinity dying on a cross, a doctrine which in earthliness reminds us of the mythology of the rudest pagans.”

Such neatly phrased blasphemy does not go unrewarded in Boston. For remarks like these, William Ellery Channing soon found himself at the head of the Unitarian Church.

Lest people should think, however, that Unitarianism was merely a synthesis of good taste and anti-Catholicism, Channing and his associates shrewdly acquired for their new sect two very useful items of religious equipment. These were (1) a theological seminary, called Harvard Divinity School, and (2) a semi-theologian, called Ralph Waldo Emerson. The effects of these two were, respectively, to depreciate faith in the Divinity of Christ, and to advocate reliance on the divinity of self. Through them, Unitarianism hoped to extend its influence beyond the borders of Boston; but after a brief success for Emerson as the philosopher of abstemious thinkers and for Harvard as the goal of midwestern ministers’ sons, Unitarianism was finally obliged to return to its proper home. For only Bostonians with proper accents were equal to its proper doubts.

The religion of William Ellery Channing and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and their tradition of three names in one Unitarian, is continued now in Boston by the Reverend Dana McLean Greeley. From his pulpit in Channing’s old Arlington Street Church, Dr. Greeley exhorts Unitarians to persevere in their belief that mothers are much too inferior for God to have had one.

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