Thursday, September 04, 2014


God loves you.

Regarding this:

byzcath, Facebook, and even Catholic Answers failed me. Same old song every time: Catholics who discovered the Christian East last week, so to speak, and preach that Catholicism no longer teaches it's the true church, "both Catholicism and Orthodoxy are." The ecumenically minded Orthodox in those place, not to be confused with the hardliners who just pound on us, buy that misreading of Vatican II because of course it flatters them. It's a make-believe religion in Byzantine drag, neither Catholic nor really Orthodox. ALL there look down on Catholics who actually believe in Catholicism. Catholicism's so "uncool" that if you believe in it, even if you learn Greek or Russian and go on the Julian calendar, you're considered not really Eastern. They think conservative Catholics who take refuge at Byzantine Catholic churches are idiots.

I know that people who really love the Christian East AND are 100% Catholic exist.

Just not online, apparently. It's like Diogenes looking for an honest man.

I’ve haunted Byzcath for a while and I’ve seen your posts. Maybe you’d like to tell the fishies the entire story. Maybe you’d like to show them some of your flame-throwing posts where you stir up the Orthodox on the forum with a loaded topic or question and then post sarcastic responses, further inflaming everyone and then whine and play the martyr card when the moderator shuts you down.
Compared to online (convert) Orthodoxy I'm a softie. Anyway, I don't care about byzcath (let the dead bury their dead, and most of them are the disloyal Catholics I described, not Orthodox) — in recent weeks I wasn't really looking for a fight (except from online Orthodoxy, but they're famous for dishing it out); I'm looking for Eastern forums that are at least Catholic-friendly. Find the posts where you think I misrepresented the Catholic Church or the Orthodox churches and I'll answer you and, if necessary, retract and apologize. Deal?
Let me ask you a question. What are you expecting from an Internet forum? More basically: what do you hope from this life? Because time spent on an Internet forum is life spent. Isn't it?

Isn't it better to focus on repentance, prayer, spiritual reading, study and works of mercy — as well as communion with others in 3D?

I'm sure you've read this essay by St. Maria Skobtsova: Types of religious lives. What do you think about her conclusions?
Novus Ordo-ey Orthodox (like the kind who act all friendly on Catholic forums but are really agreeing with the liberal misrepresentation of us) might like her, but like our intelligentsia she could be deep and had a point.

The way you describe my being online makes it sound like I don't even go to church! Believe me; Internet church isn't church for me. And you get glimpses of my real life from my blog.

As Marcia on "The Brady Bunch" said her first day of high school, I'm here for the "intellectual stimulation"; ha ha.

I like what a friend recently articulated for me: true religion is oriented to God and others; fake religion is always about self, whether it's East, West, high-church, conservative, or liberal. My guess is you and St. Maria Skobtsova agree. It can be a problem with high churchianity including Catholic traditionalism: spiritual pride, or religion as entertainment rather than religion.

Non nobis, Domine: I like to think the dustup I got into at the forum AxxeArp mentioned wasn't so much for my sake as I've seen the bad religion taught there (telling people it's OK to leave the church) do real harm. My personal problems (becoming Orthodox) were minor in comparison. I'm talking about someone not only leaving the church but moving himself and his little daughter thousands of miles to join a super-strict splinter cult, and another's marriage breaking up. If I can use my experience to persuade someone to give the church another chance, it's worth it.
I like the points you've made lately elsewhere about the value in remaining where one is. Fr. Chadwick says the same. It's not a principle strange to our tradition. Stability is one of the vows required by St. Benedict's rule. It's important to put down roots — it forces one to face oneself rather than always taking the geographical solution (or the ecclesiastical solution). So it can be spiritually fruitful to stay put, even if one's situation is not "perfect."
I'm glad I became Catholic, even if it was due to idiosyncrasies and wanting to fit in, growing up in, some of the time, Irish-Italian Joisey. But yes, there's a lot to be said for "bloom where you're planted." For those who haven't read this: I referred to C.S. Lewis saying the people at the centers, the hearts, of their churches are closer to God and to each other than the fringy people in them (byzcath wannabe Orthodox, convert Orthodox or convert Catholics, us trads by choice, et al.). As far as the church goes, born members of other faiths pretty much get the benefit of the doubt, certainly true of the estranged Catholics who are the nice Greeks and Russians who are most of Orthodoxy.

"That's nice, John. Very modern of you. How do you square that with the teaching of the church including extra ecclesiam nulla salus?"

Yes, as far as I know it is modern and it's not heretical if you spin it the right way. Here's a try:

This doesn't deny there is only one church. As Msgr. Ronald Knox wrote, a Protestant, Jew, et al. isn't saved because he's a non-Catholic but because he's a Catholic without knowing it. Only those who know specifically that Catholicism is the church and refuse to come in risk damnation. So missionary work is mostly a passive witness, charity etc. We teach the truth but not by terror or other coercion. If someone is convinced we're the church, we of course bring them in.

At the time of the Fr. Feeney controversy (1953), churchmen said something similar: the criterion is a good conscience; those who sincerely believe their religion is the truth have a chance of being saved. That's from Pius XII's church so I think I'm on solid ground.

If not, well, at least I'm not a priest or professor, didn't mean to do harm, and was trying to be nice, so the real pre-conciliar church wouldn't have a problem with me.

During my six or seven years at St. Clement's in the '00s a friend there had a classic Anglo-Papalist line of reasoning, explaining that he was being a good Roman Catholic by remaining in the Episcopal Church, which he was born into, as was I. Which is sort of true; such don't have the responsibility to remain in the church that Catholics do. Of course it was tempting to some Catholics in the dark days for high-church trads after Vatican II (my first stint there over 25 years ago). The high churchmanship protected by the semi-congregationalism and resulting close parish community is something we should learn from.

  • Rediscovering Anglicanism. Fr. Jonathan Mitchican at Conciliar Anglican, particularly Biblical Catholicism. Learned but readable posts, like Fr. Bob Hart or Archbishop Peter Robinson but from an Episcopalian (former Catholic; guess this liberal overcame his aversion to high church). Confident, slightly Protestant high churchmanship, wonderfully explaining everything from their branch theory (it's not relativist; "We're No. 1!") to the fact that high Anglicanism was originally about authority, not ceremonial. It had the confidence to claim you were THE legitimate church in this realm, with the purest teaching because it's "reformed" as well as "Catholic." High church didn't originally mean and doesn't necessarily mean Catholic wannabe. The beautiful picture below is of St. Luke's, Germantown, which I've never been in. My first formative Catholic experience was in a place that looked and felt much like this, even though technically it wasn't Catholic! Not just high-church, Anglo-Catholic. All Saints', Orange, NJ, as Fr. Wetherell had kept it; now closed.
  • The church is a big, welcoming home indeed: who else noticed that Takimag snarkster Gavin McInnes is now a Catholic?
  • I was wrong about Joseph Smith. According to master snarkster Mark Twain (read him; he's a scream about the Book of Mormon and you'll learn the awful truth about Brigham Young), Smith didn't come up with polygamy for Mormons; the part of his family that became the Reorganized Latter Day Saints (now the mainlinish Community of Christ) was right about that. Brigham Young came up with the sex cult.

True contrition is found at the foot of the cross.


  1. Actually, although he covered it up during his lifetime, it's pretty certain that Smith is the one who invented polygamy. His widow, Emma, and the other founders of the Reorganized Church (now called the "Community of Christ") denied it, but the rumors were there during his lifetime, and even the Reorganized Church doesn't deny them any more.

  2. "The church is a big, welcoming home indeed..."

    My great-uncle was an alcoholic utterly beyond help (he once wobbled off of a bar stool and went head--first through a large plate-glass window, then dusted himself off and staggered home) but he was raised in the pre-conciliar Church and knew his duties, even if he didn't practice them particularly well. Since his favorite dive bar used to close early on Christmas Eve, he would round up all of his toothless wino friends, then herd them over to midnight Mass, where most of them passed out in the pews before the end of the service. It's not a way of life to emulate, but I imagine God probably appreciated that he made the effort.


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