As Providence would have it, my biweekly column falls on Good Friday. Far be it from me to feign the ability to be a spiritual writer, but it does seem fitting to touch on the nature of this Good Friday, nonetheless.
We find ourselves at the tail end of this long Lent which comes to us a decade into this long and difficult papacy. Doubtless, we are all wondering at what point this crisis in the Church will end—if it ever will.
We have read the headlines, heard the airplane interviews, and been exposed to the continual updates to the Catechism. The Synod on Synodality has become a meme-factory at this point, and many people are now under the impression that the pope cares more about vaccines than Sacred Scripture.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
Latin-Massers are waiting for the proverbial Sword of Damocles to drop on their Sunday TLM, and the German bishops are making Martin Luther look like Marcel Lefebvre.
Needless to say, we are tired, and this decades-long Good Friday is getting to be a bit much…
How do we make sense of such a time?
Perhaps you have tried to take the “conservative” route. Which is to say you personally believe the Catechism and the perennial teachings of the Church. Of course, you know that your local parish offers a liturgy that at times looks more Lutheran than Catholic—but you have tried to explain away any and all errors that come from the hierarchy in an attempt to cling to the misguided ultramontanism that has plagued the Church for so long.
Perhaps you have given up on that strategy and jumped ship from the hermeneutic of continuity and begun swimming in the wild waters of Traditionalism, what with its saturnos, endless podcasts, and group therapy sessions after Mass to deal with PVSD (Post-Vatican II Stress Disorder).
Wherever you find yourself, you find yourself at a crossroads, which is to say you find yourself at a crux, which is to say you find yourself at a cross.
Surely, in this New Springtime that has been like the never-ending Narnian Winter, you have grown impatient at times and feel veritably helpless as the house seems to be burning down around you. Surely, in this New Springtime that has been like the never-ending Narnian Winter, you have grown impatient at times and feel veritably helpless as the house seems to be burning down around you.Tweet This
All said, how do we make sense of this? Clearly, the Church cannot continue the way it is going unless the Church is to become a complete antichurch. But we must also hold fast to the promise given by Christ that the “gates of hell will not prevail.”
Believe it or not, we are not the only Catholics to have lived through a great crisis, even if ours might appear to be the worst of them all.
The Christians during the century of Arianism woke with their heretical bishops one morning to find that the world had become Arian. Athanasius and others were kicked out of Christian society, and the faithful of the time travelled into the desert to worship God amongst the thorns and thistles of the arid topography.
Islam came from the East like a veritable dragon out of the desert and ripped to pieces all that the Christian order had tried to sanctify of the pagan patrimony of Rome. For hundreds of years, Catholics in the Iberian Peninsula languished under the thumb of Muhammad’s militia of iniquity, only to recapture Europe and evangelize the New World under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who crushed the plumed serpent of the Aztecs standing on the Crescent Moon.
Martin Luther did more to rip the Mystical Body of Christ to pieces than the Roman centurions could do with their flagellators and knotted cords to Christ’s Sacred Flesh at the pillar, only for his heretical sect to become a parody comprised of lesbian priestesses and rainbow vestments.
Robespierre thought he had killed the eldest daughter of the Church, but his Reign of Terror cut straight through his own heart.
We could go on, but the point is that there have been many times in Church history wherein Catholics stand at a crossroads of crisis, where the Church and Christendom stand defeated—at least seemingly so—by the enemies of Christ.
Granted, this time is perhaps a bit different than in ages past, as our enemies tend to be wearing collars and clerical suits; but this should not disturb our sense of peace in the Providence of God.
There are no accidents in Scripture, as the Holy Ghost inspired exactly the correct words to be written down by the sacred authors.
What we call Holy Thursday may also be called the night of betrayal and apostasy. Christ ordained His men that evening, and then one betrayed Him and almost all the others fled. Michael Davies called this fateful night “the first collegial decision of the Pope in union with the bishops of the world.”
Of course, Peter denied Our Lord three times, and the rest is history.
But let us imagine the scene at Golgotha. What do we see?
We see the powers of the world and the hierarchy of the established religious order mocking the God-Man as He gives up the Ghost. And, at the Cross, we find but one bishop—John, the Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene, and some other women of Jerusalem. It does us well to remember that if Christ was crucified, then His Mystical Body must share in some ways with His Passion and suffering. And, if we are alive during a Passion of the Church, then we should not be surprised to find ourselves at the foot of the Cross, with virtually none of the hierarchy, and without Peter.
But this is not a punishment for us, any more than it was a punishment for Mary Magdalene to weep on the shoulder of the Virgin Mary. On the one hand, we are isolated and cut off from the world; but on the other hand, we are closer to God and His Blessed Mother than all those who walked away from Christ when He was crowned King of the Jews.
We may not live to see the restoration of the Church, as there were many who did not live to see the triumph of the Church during those early centuries. However, God has allowed us to live in a time such as this. So, on this Good Friday, let us unite our sufferings to the Cross as we keep Our Lord company during this Passion of His Church.
[Image: “Allegory of Abuses by the Authorities of Church and State” by Gillis Mostaert I]