When Catholics Feel Persecuted by the Church (Guest: Joshua Charles)

We all know the Church is in crisis right now. So how do we respond? A great first step is to look at how saints in the past responded to crises in their times.

Crisis Point
Crisis Point
When Catholics Feel Persecuted by the Church (Guest: Joshua Charles)


Joshua Charles is a Catholic convert, #1 New York Times bestselling author, former White House speechwriter, historian, scholar, speaker, and classical pianist. He has authored and co-authored several bestselling books. He recently co-authored Persecuted from Within: How the Saints Endured Crises in the Church (Sophia Institute Press).



Eric Sammons:

We all know that the church is in crisis right now, so how do we respond? A great way to start is to look at how the saints have responded to persecution in their own times, both from outside the church and also within. That’s what we’re going to talk about today on Crisis Point.

Hello, I’m Eric Sammons, your host and editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine. Before I get started, I just want to encourage people to smash that like button, subscribe to the channel, also to follow us on social media at Crisis Mag, all the various channels. Go to our website, crisismagazine.com, to subscribe to our email newsletter.

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We have a great returning guest today, Joshua Charles. He is a Catholic convert. He’s a number one New York Times bestselling author. He is a former White House speech writer. He is a historian, scholar, speaker, and classical pianist. He’s author and co-authored many bestselling books and his most recent one is one we want to talk about the subject of today’s podcast, which is Persecuted From Within: How the Saints Endured Crises in the church, and it’s out from Sophia Institute Press.

I’ll make sure, of course, I’ll have a link to it so you can purchase it. It just came out I think within the last month or so, and frankly, it’s a perfect book for Crisis magazine to talk about. So welcome to the program, Joshua.

Joshua Charles:

Thank you. And the other thing I need to add to my bio is that I have passed Eric Sammons’s five-year test.

Eric Sammons:

That’s right.

Joshua Charles:

So I’m a certified convert, Sammons-certified convert.

Eric Sammons:

That’s right. For those who didn’t hear our last podcast, or I don’t even know if we said it publicly, but I made the comment.

Joshua Charles:

No, we did.

Eric Sammons:

The Catholic converts, really, they should probably keep quiet for the first five years and learn and stuff. I’m also a convert, but for 30 years now. I remember when I said that you had been, I think you had just passed it at that point. It was funny because I was just recently talking, I was interacting with somebody online and I realized they’d only been Catholic for four years and I almost pulled it out. They were telling me something about Catholicism and I almost like, “Dude, you didn’t pass a five-year test. I’ll talk to you in a year.”

Joshua Charles:

Well, you found out I just passed it. And then you asked me about, “What about the crisis in the Roman church, what do you think?” And I joked, well, hey, I passed the test, so now I’m qualified to answer this toughest of questions, apparently.

Eric Sammons:

That’s right. I mean, St. Paul only had three years, but I figured five years for today’s, we’ll give him a two-year pass, but the rest of us…

Joshua Charles:

All right.

Eric Sammons:

Oh, geez. So anyway, so you wrote this book about how the saints have enduring crises in the church in the past. And so obviously we’re in a crisis, and I say obviously, but I actually want you to answer the question, why do you think? What is the fundamental crisis today that you would say that Catholics face within the church?

I think let’s not talk about the world because we know where that’s going, but in the church itself, what would you say is the fundamental crises we’re facing?

Joshua Charles:

Probably something like wanting Christ without the cross. I was talking with some friends yesterday and Flannery O’Connor made some sort of statement about the Eucharist to the effect, “If it’s just a symbol, to hell with it.” And it’s the same with our faith in many ways. If eternity doesn’t matter, eternal life or eternal damnation, than to hell with it.

There are many times at least my flesh says I have better things to do. And I know I hardly am original with that phrase, Christ without the cross. I think Venerable Fulton Sheen talk about that quite a bit. But it’s this desire and you see it everywhere in the modern world. It’s so weird in the post-Christian West. It’s like everybody wants to have, almost everybody, a claim on Jesus without actually following him.

And I think that’s rampant in the church, including well in all levels of the church. I’ll just put it that way and there, but for the grace of God, go I. I have to examine myself every day, every hour, sometimes every minute to make sure I’m not among those. And sometimes I am. I go to confession, and so this is a perennial human struggle. It’s never not going to be a part of being a Christian, part of being a Catholic.

But I think it’s particularly strong these days because it’s just part of the zeitgeist of our culture. And unfortunately the men who’ve been tasked with being shepherds, there are some very good ones, but it seems that there’s a lot of lacking in spines to put that case for there’s eternal life or there’s eternal damnation. I think I want the benefits of Jesus without the cross of Jesus. It’s a form of spiritual fornication. I want the benefits of marriage without being married.

Eric Sammons:

I don’t often reference Protestant writers or scholars or anything, but have you read Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

Joshua Charles:

Oh yeah, yeah. He’s one of my great heroes.

Eric Sammons:

That’s one of the main themes of his writings is the idea of Christ without the cross. And it’s very powerful. And of course, knowing when he was living, the context, makes it very powerful. And of course, knowing how he ended up, his death, and it really was the recurring theme.

It was interesting, because of the fact that I know people can compare things too often to Nazi Germany and too loosely, I get that. But the idea then was people still wanted to call themselves Christian and act Christian while they watched the trains go by with the Jews and sang a little bit louder. That’s kind of what we’re doing today is we see all this destruction around us.

Obviously, abortion being the main holocaust today, but also transgenderism, homosexuality, all that. And we just sing our hymns louder. And what it seems like is our leaders are encouraging us just to sing a little bit louder so we don’t hear and we don’t address, and we don’t really challenge the problems in the world today.

Joshua Charles:

I would have two comments on that. Well, the first one I’d say is as a preliminary is if people haven’t seen the movie A Hidden Life, I’d highly, highly recommend that movie. It was done a few years ago. It’s an exhausting movie. So if you’re going to go into it, be ready for a three and a half hour marathon that you’ll just feel, at first, you’ll feel just totally wiped at the end. But then you’ll be like, wow, that was inspiring.

It’s about, I think he’s a blessed, now, blessed Franz Jägerstätter, if I’m pronouncing that correctly, and he was martyred in his late thirties. But the short version of the story is he was a soldier called Up for duty. I think he was involved in the campaigns in Poland and France, then he was sent back home. But then as things started going badly in the East for the Germans, he was called up again, but he realized what was going on.

He’d seen some things happen in Poland, I believe, and he knew every soldier had to swear personal allegiance to Hitler. There was no “protect and defend the Constitution,” an abstract document or whatever. It was the furor himself. And so Jägerstätter knew he couldn’t do that in his conscience, and he knew that his conscience, he owed to God, nobody else.

So this man with a beautiful wife, I think he had two or three daughters, his whole life presumably ahead of him if he survived the war. He said no, and he was killed for it, and he didn’t get a whole lot of support from the priesthood, from his friends. His wife stood by him, but he had to stand alone. I have a book of some of his writings that I’m slowly going through in the midst of everything else I’m working on. And they’re deeply inspiring.

So if you haven’t seen that movie, beautiful Cinematography, beautiful soundtrack, I’d highly, highly recommend. I think he could have easily been in this book. Of course, you always have to pick and choose, but if we ever did a volume two at some point, I think Franz would certainly be in there as not necessarily being actively persecuted by the church, but simply being hung to dry in the midst of trying to follow God’s law.

Eric Sammons:

And I think this actually applies very directly today in a lot of ways. Here’s a real world example. So here in Ohio where I live, we just recently, they passed an amendment to the Constitution of the state to legalize abortion through all nine months, no exceptions, all that stuff. It’s horrible.

Joshua Charles:

You’re in California now, where I’m from.

Eric Sammons:

Well, here’s the thing, actually, it starts up on December 7th. So this week is when it goes into effect, and I had somebody come to me, a friend who is a public servant, and so therefore the job he’s in, he has to take an oath to uphold the constitution of the state of Ohio. Now, when it’s a judge who has made an interpretation of the Constitution that allows something evil, that’s one thing because obviously you can just say, “Well, that’s a bad interpretation. It’s not the Constitution itself.”

Well, here we have the Constitution itself saying this evil. And he is going to have to at some point when he re-ups his service, I don’t want to say what he is, I don’t want to identify who it is, but he will have to make the oath to that uphold that constitution. He was asking, “What do I do here?” And it’s a great question.

It’s very much in keeping Jägerstätter, what he had to do, but it also addresses the point of your book, and what we’re saying here is there’s nobody in any high level of the church that’s even going to touch that. It’s not like the bishops are saying, “Here’s what you need to do,” or make a stand and say, “As the bishops of the state of Ohio,” or whatever state, California, we’re saying, “Catholics, you can no longer make this oath.”

Because what would happen, just theoretically, if all of a sudden every Catholic in public service just said, “Nope, I’m not going to do that.” I mean something would happen, so it’s a case of neglect. And that’s what I was going to say and ask you about is you say persecute from within, you have this history. I want to talk about some of the examples, but would you say it’s both persecution and neglect from the hierarchy towards Catholics that we’re talking about today?

Joshua Charles:

Well, persecution is defined by the duty that it’s in distinction with, and so I think neglect would be a form of persecution. I mean, if you’re a father, if you just stopped feeding your children, could they call that persecution? Sure. I mean, it’s maybe not the common way of using that word, but sure, why not?

I was just reading St. Jerome’s commentary on Ecclesiastes the other day, as people are apt to do, but it’s great.

But he has a line in there where he’s talking about why do the bishops and the priests not teach? Why do they just pursue offices for financial gain or whatever in this kind of plaintiff Ecclesiastes sort of sense? All is vanity, all is vanity, and it’s a perennial struggle.

Honestly, this is one of the reasons why I’m Catholic as opposed to Protestant. In some ways, this will sound maybe a little strange at first, but in some ways I think it’s a golden age to be a Catholic because St. Pope Gregory the Great, whether we’re in the times immediately preceding Antichrist or not, I have my guesses, but they’re just that, guesses.

But St. Pope Gregory the Great, it’s actually right, I don’t know if you… Those red and blue volumes over there, six volumes. It’s massive work, The Moralia in Job, amazing work, amazing. It’s as big as the City of God and Confessions together, and it’s all in just one book. And he has a lot in there about the state of the church in those times.

Now, this is not to say we’re in those times, per se. Again, I have suspicions, but he says it’ll be the worst ever. And he says that many of the visible gifts that the church has had in past ages will be if not completely removed, very much brought down and less visible. Now, he gives a beautiful reason why this is so. And one of the things he says is The words of doctrine will fall silent, is one of the things he says. So I thought that was interesting.

But what he says is that this is done by God, allowed by God because it allows the righteous more ample opportunity to gain eternal reward, and it is more likely to bring the wicked out in the open and basically certify their damnation. The fathers weren’t afraid to speak that way. And so that’s why I feel if we see it the right way, there’s a sense in which…

There’s a part in here of St. John of the Cross where he heard about the opportunity to suffer and he went into rapture for an hour. Now, I’m very far from that, I admit, but I’m working toward it. And I was actually, this was co-authored with a friend of mine, and we met at the White House, and so many of us speech writers were Catholic converts, mostly from Protestantism.

So I said to a group of us one time, I said, “The thing that sucks about being Catholic is we can’t complain about suffering anymore.” And they all laugh. No prosperity gospel for us, no being elect and having supposed assurance or anything. So, we don’t have as many of those visible external supports as we may have had in some past pontificates.

I mean even JP II, Benedict, not perfect. You and I, we would agree on a lot there, but in many ways, much more visibly out there. I mean, men that Protestants were like, wow, these men are very impressive. So when we don’t have those visible supports, there is an opportunity in both evangelism and apologetics to make the case for the faith in a way that I think is more precise and more real.

So for example, one of the reasons I came into the church, I had read a lot of church history, and I’ve read a lot of church history since I’ve been in. The church hasn’t gotten to 2023 on a feather bed at all, both externally or internally, as this book talks about. The Judas element is intrinsic to the church’s pilgrimage on this earth. Paul tells us about the pilgrimage of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, and that the 40 years in the wilderness was a type for us to warn us.

And he talks about Balaam for money was going to prophesy against Israel, but he couldn’t. Korah’s rebellion, mentioned by Jude, the people murmuring against Moses. He said, many fell, they didn’t make it, but there’s all these internal…

There’s Amalack, who’s attacking Israel wanting to destroy it from outside, and there’s the Korahs, the Balaams, and the others who want to destroy it from the inside. Even Moses himself had moments of weakness, which prevented him from going in the Promised Land at all. So, Paul is pointing us to that.

Then when I looked at church history, there was this highly developed theology in the Fathers, I thought, where again, using typology from both Old and New Testaments, the wheat and the chaff and the one threshing floor of the Lord, the clean and the unclean animals, and Noah’s Ark, the one arc of salvation they’re basically saying, “This is part of what it is to be Catholic. Jesus suffered at the hands of Pilate and the Sanhedrin, much of it, and from Judas and Peter’s denial, and the other apostles except John fleeing.”

That’s what you’re signing up for. When Jesus says, “You must take up my cross,” to loop it in with what we said at the beginning, that’s what he’s saying, that cross doesn’t just come from the Neros of the world or the Hitlers or the Caligulas. It comes from the Judases. It comes from the Peters, frankly, on occasion, it comes from the family.

Eric Sammons:

And I think it’s much tougher, much more painful.

Joshua Charles:


Eric Sammons:

Because a lot of us who are, probably most practicing Catholics, there’s a certain part of embracing Catholicism that is a rejection of the world. So when the world attacks us, it’s like, “Well, we rejected you.” So when I go to pray in front of an abortion clinic and some pro-abort crazy starts yelling and screaming at me, it doesn’t faze me at all.

I’ll walk away and I won’t even think about it anymore. But when a priest, for example, would say something against what I do, something against the Faith, that will bother me, that will linger with me for a while. So this idea of persecution from within, it really is so much more painful and it’s so much more difficult to process.

I think the question is, I want to get into a few specific examples, based upon what you’ve read and studied, what are the secrets for handling that and processing that when your own church leaders and fellow Catholics are attacking you for being faithful to Christ?

Joshua Charles:

Well, before I forget, I was reading a letter, rereading a letter, I’d read it a number of years ago, of St. Basil the Great during the Arian crisis. And he was in the second or third generation of the Arian crisis. This is I think in the 370s or something.

He made a comment, something to the effect of, I don’t have it in front of me, but something to the effect of, “The course of action that’s bound to get you in the most trouble these days is being faithful to the traditions of the Fathers.” I thought that was very interesting. I was like, huh, that’s familiar.

Eric Sammons:

That sounds a bit familiar.

Joshua Charles:

Anyway, which is not to say I like or agree with every traditionalist action these days. I don’t, frankly. But it felt very poignant to read it. There’s these motifs throughout church history, and so I think the first step, and we try to do this in this book to a certain extent before we even get to the saints, is go to scripture and the Fathers, because the scripture and the Fathers talk about this all the time, all the time.

And frankly, Catholics need to do this because this is partly what makes people easy prey for Protestants. Protestantism is so diverse, and it’s really protestantisms. Whenever I see those pie charts with a little bit over half Catholic, a bit of a sliver orthodox and a good chunk of a Protestant, it’s like, no, no, no. That Protestant chunk needs to be like a million different pieces.

So I can’t speak of Protestantism, but there is an idea among the sects that you need to have this perfectly pure church or something like it. And if you don’t like what’s going on this, I’m sure you guys did this, sometimes, you move on, you do another church. You either go to another church or you start your own or whatever. But the Fathers have a highly developed biblical theology of why that’s untenable. So I’d start with scripture and the Fathers. The.

Second is I’d go with the saints, which is what we were trying to do with this book. It was funny, Bishop Strickland’s a friend, and he had endorsed it a month or so before he was asked to resign and then forced to. So, I think what we like about this compilation of saints we have is you find them in very different situations. St. Athanasius was a bishop, so not a layman.

So that affected his duty and his actions. St. Joan of Arc, a lay woman, St. Thomas Moore, a lay man, St. John Fisher, another bishop, St. Padre Pio, a religious, which is as we’ll talk about later, that is a bit different, quite a bit different than a layman. So the point is that people sometimes like to pit these people against each other, and frankly in their prudential situations, I can’t say for sure that each of these saints would’ve responded in the exact same way, which is itself, I think…

I posted something, and I’ve reposted the language several times. I come from a divorced family and thank God there’s been tons of healing. And our family, our nuclear family is five people, three of us are in the church now, and one, my mom, she’s on the way, meaning she’s decided. She’s been going to mass every day for a year and a half. She’s in, she’s on the way. So it’s been so much healing, so much redemption, it’s been beautiful.

But coming from a divorced family, what I know is that when there’s issues with the parents, the kids, they go about trying to find their own ways to resolve things. And that is sometimes necessary in a bare sense, but it often leads to its own chaos. So what I learned is that I have two sisters. What I learned is that each of them responded quite differently to what was going on in our family. I had to be very gracious with them, and I responded differently than they did, and they hopefully had to be very gracious with me.

So that’s what I see among a lot of Catholics today, is that when the fathers of the family don’t rule well, the kids get all rambunctious and start fighting with each other and whatever. So I basically was encouraging people, we need to really pray for grace with one another, because there’s this constant siloing and infighting. There’s a lot of disunity in the church today. You’re aware of that.

I mean, it’s kind of the basis of your magazine, but that’s what I pray for. So when you look at all these saints, Athanasius is in a very different situation than Joan of Arc, who’s in a very different situation than Padre Pio. But my point is that I can’t say all these saints would’ve reacted the same in each situation, which is itself an indication that we need to have, especially in matters where there’s so much necessarily a lot of prudence involved, where prudence is the application of unchanging truth to changing situations, essentially.

When that is involved so much, we have to show mercy to one another and give leeway to one another. So that’d be some of my starting points.

Eric Sammons:

So let’s make an application in one case, St. Athanasius, which you’ve mentioned. And the reason I want to bring up St. Athanasius is because it seems to me from my reading of history, I don’t think you can compare our time directly to any other time exactly. However, the idea of a heretical understanding of the faith being very much the bad level within the church and very pervasive, I think does track very well with the fourth century with Arianism then modernism today.

So how was St. Athanasius who, I think this is something we have a problem with, is sometimes we look back, we’re like, oh yeah, he was great. He always knew that he was in the right and stuff like that. But of course, he had other bishops, most other bishops who were saying, “You are wrong.”

So how did he deal with this idea of being, I mean, Athanasius Contra Mundum is for a reason. I mean, he’s against the world. How exactly did he respond to the fact that essentially the institutional church was against him and said he was wrong in what he was doing?

Joshua Charles:

Yeah, it’s a very, very interesting situation with Athanasius. In general, and I think this is true of all the saints that we profile in this book. Many popes have said this, many theologians said this, people need to understand that nobody, no matter their office, can ever command sin, ever. And so varying degrees of religious has a higher duty to basically allow his superior to make virtually any judgment in prudence.

But even his superior, that’s the highest vow of obedience I’m aware for religious within the church, maybe the papal secret, but in even a religious vow, the superior can never command the monk or the celibate to do something that’s sinful. So with Athanasius, it was a similar sort of thing. He was always going to Rome, which is interesting.

But even Rome, there was a situation where Pope Liberius, this is what’s interesting for today, and we need to keep in mind zero instant communication in those days. So, news would’ve filtered out slowly and it would’ve been very delayed. So Pope Liberius had, under duress, we know now, and Athanasius found out later, but Pope Liberia signed a quasi-Arian creed.

It was a compromise creed that still was quasi Arian. It was not Nicean. He did so under duress with the emperor, an emperor was trying to force him. Eventually, once he was out of that situation, he clarified everything, all that was taken care of, and Athanasius defended his orthodoxy. So I mean, he went to Pope Julius before that and then Liberius. So, Athanasius was always appealing to Rome.

Rome sent letters to reinstate him and others who’d been mistreated by bishops in the East. So it’s a good story in general for Rome, frankly. But there was a period where it appeared as if the Pope himself had succumbed to Arianism. It would’ve appeared that way. It didn’t actually happen when you consider the duress and all that, whatnot, but it would’ve appeared that way.

When I was reading Athanasius, I read all of his works in 2020. I used some of the time I had in the evenings to read the whole Schaff set. It’s like 650 pages or something, so read all of Athanasius. The other thing is I think Athanasius, I had a row with James White recently, everybody’s favorite anti-Catholic.

And I’ll give James his due, and I said that he’s been prophetically right on a number of issues in the culture, whatever. And we both love Star Trek.

Eric Sammons:

There we go.

Joshua Charles:

He has got the Enterprise D warp engine behind. I’m like, ah, I need to get that. But I watched all of his debates with Catholics before I converted to hopefully convince me that I didn’t need to convert, and the opposite happened. So anyway, I’ve had a few rows within the last few months, and they’ve all been him taking Patristic quotations and relevant to St. Athanasius. He quoted St. Athanasius to basically make it seem like Athanasius believed in sola scriptura.

Well, that’s when I compiled all the research I’d done, and it took a few hours, but I compiled all this research where when you read it together, it’s utterly and completely clear St. Athanasius is not sola scriptura. The scripture is in many ways supreme, but it’s always alongside what the church had constantly taught, apostolic tradition in general. He refers to things that are not scripture as rules of faith as well.

So I say that because I think one of the reasons Athanasius stood so strong is because he even refers to it. He says, “Who was ever catechized with this?” The Arian stuff. He’s like, “All of us in our catechesis didn’t get this. We’ve never taught this. We’ve never believed this.”

There was different language that was being used at Nicea using the word consubstantial, whatnot. And so the church was using more precise language, and then that more precise language became the standard for orthodoxy. But Athanasius was very clear, no, the constant teaching of the church has been X.

So I don’t care how many of you bishops are saying, “Well, now it’s X not,” or “It’s Y,” or “It’s X-ish.” It’s like, no, no, no, no, no. We’ve always taught X, so we’re going to believe X. That’s what the Council of Nicea through the authority of the Holy Spirit declared. He would encourage, there were Arian bishops who, once he was booted from Alexandria, ascended to his Episcopal throne, and he encouraged layman to not communicate with them.

So that’s where some of the more feisty in the church today may be like, “Oh, Athanasius is on our side.” And you know what? Maybe he would be, I can’t say with certainty they’re not right. I think there’s more factors at play. But you’ll see Athanasius constantly appeal to tradition, constantly appealing to the constant teaching of the church.

You’ll see the same with the Cappadocian fathers who were standing by him in later generations, Gregory of Nyssa, St. Basil the Great, they’re making the same appeals. For the fathers, it seemed very clear, if a bishop was a heretic, you have no duty to obey him. It was that clear. Now, I think some developments have happened in the church since that have clarified some of that. I don’t think the essence of that has changed.

Eric Sammons:

I think then one of the challenges is, and this is going to be, I’m going to put on my Protestant hat for a second, which I just got rid of 30 years ago, but still, I can put it back on sometimes. And that is, it sounds like you’re saying then, “If I, as an individual Catholic, determine that Bishop C,” we’ll say, “is a heretic, I don’t need to obey him.”

How is that any different? And what am I using to determine that? I’m using scripture, and yes, as a Catholic I’m using tradition and some other stuff, but how is that essentially different from Protestantism that says, “I realized that my Methodist pastor is a heretic about this. I’m going to go join another church.” What’s the essential difference between those two things?

We’ll assume in this case that Bishop see actually is a heretic. I mean, maybe he really does, but at the same time, what do I as a lay Catholic, have authority to do that and now withhold my obedience to him or even speak out against him or whatever the case may be?

Joshua Charles:

Well, that’s a multi-thread issue. I think the difference is enormous. Let’s see, how would I approach this? I think our stance should generally be we obey as much as we can, and we say no as little as necessary, but forthrightly when we must. Many popes are clear about this. Many theologians are clear about this.

Part of it is because when something is ambiguous, it’s generally not binding. I’m forgetting the Latin term right now, but there’s a legal term that basically says an ambiguous law is no law. So when the status of a bishop is unclear, then the duty on the individual to obey is necessarily lower. I’m not saying it goes completely away. Maybe in some circumstances, it would. If a bishop came out at a mass and said, “There’s nothing wrong with homosexual behavior.” Yeah, I mean that’s a clear cut case.

In the case, how would that be different from Protestant, I’d say it’d be vastly different. So, there was a prominent Protestant figure recently who did a video basically saying, well, private and judgment is something we all do, so it’s not just a Protestant problem. I think that’s absurd and ridiculous for many, many reasons.

But I’ll refer to an argument made by Dr. William Marshner. You probably know him from Christendom. Great guy. He’s hilarious and brilliant and all those things. I got to spend some time with him a few years ago, because he helped me convert and just a brilliant man. But he was in a debate about solo scriptura with some Protestants. It was him, Patrick Madrid, I’m forgetting the other Catholic, and it was three Protestants.

It was a great debate. I think it was called What still Divides Us. You’ve probably heard it. There was a point where he was giving his closing remarks, and he said something to the effect of, “When you’re Protestant, you hear a liberal pastor start preaching liberal doctrines. You immediately are like, wait, wait, wait. What’s going on? And you either leave or whatever.”

He’s like, “You need to come back to the Catholic Church, because the church makes sense of your own experience,” which is what I referred to with Athanasius earlier. This is not what we’ve ever taught. And so when an individual Catholic in an ambiguous situation, again in ambiguity, the duties are lowered, in general, in general. In that situation, when a Catholic is appealing to what the church is always taught, infallibly and utterly, usually with an exercise of the extraordinary magisterium, we are binding and losing very, very explicitly.

He’s not appealing to his own private opinion of things. I accepted the authority of the church before I agreed in every respect with all of her doctrines. That was part of how I converted. There were still some doctrinal things. I was like, I need this to be explained to me some more, but I also know this authority is real. So that’s a very, very different paradigm than the Protestant paradigm of, I mean, what are you appealing to? You’re appealing to your own sense of what scripture means, and sometimes your sense of scripture may be right.

We need to get rid of this idea that the Catholic case is that we can’t know anything about scripture without the church. That’s not true, and that’s never been the Catholic case, although some Catholics act like that’s the case. The issue is that in the multiplicity of opinions and whatnot, how do you reconcile contradicting opinions? That’s the issue.

And unless you can reconcile with finality those contradicting opinions, there’s no way to bring peace to the mind of the church. None. You have to have infallible authority to do that. And so when a Catholic sees a bishop or even a Pope teaching something apparently that we’ve never believed, they’re not saying, “Oh, well, Pope Francis,” or “Oh, Bishop So-and-So, I appeal to… Well, I see it differently.”

It’s like, no, it’s like Pope Francis or Bishop So-and-So, the church has taught me to see it differently and has always done so what is going on here? So it’s a very, very different, if you have a devil’s advocate pushback on that, I’d love it, because I think this is a very important issue, especially for our Protestant friends.

Eric Sammons:

I think I’m actually trying to listen to your answer as a Protestant would, and I think a Protestant would probably say, “You appeal to the church as a separate authority that you give ascent to. So you’re telling the Pope or the Bishop or whoever the church has taught you this.” They would say, “Well, I’m appealing to a authority that’s not my own, not sacred scripture, and that says that you’re wrong.”

I mean, I think I have a hint. I know how I would answer, but I’d just be interested. How about that pushback of the idea of, well, you’re saying it’s not your personal opinion, it’s the church. But I’m saying it’s not my personal opinion, it’s the scripture. So all we are is we just have two different authorities that we claim.

Joshua Charles:

Well, that would take us into a whole other conversation about solo scriptura and that issue. And I would give the answers that are common, and maybe I’d hopefully improve on some of them in some way. But I’d think that’d be completely untenable for the very reason I just stated.

That I explained, I am writing an article called My Protestant Conundrum, and it was basically, I constantly was in a position where people I loved and respected, both personal friends and mentors, but also authors I would read like the RC Sprouls and the MacArthurs and the James Whites even. As far as I could tell, good, holy, learned men disagreeing on different issues.

As St. Augustine says to the Manichaean Faustus, I believe he was a Manichaean, in Contra Faustus, he’s like, “If you’re going to appeal to the scripture, then you need to believe in the authority the scripture so clearly testifies to, which is that of the church.”

So that would just get into all those debates, and I’d be very happy to have those debates. But to avoid getting into that whole jumble of a different issue, I would basically go there. My whole life, I heard people say, “Well, the scripture says…” Well, it’s like, well, then when I read the Fathers, I’m like, well, the Fathers are utterly consistent on multiple points on which Protestants said, “Well, it clearly says this.”

And of course, they’re contradicting one another as well, but they were unanimously contradicted by the fathers on things like baptism or generation, apostolic succession, sacrifice of the Eucharist and whatnot. And so just simply saying, “My authority of scripture,” is a farcical claim.

Eric Sammons:

So let’s take the same basic point, but from a different angle. So the Protestant, I think there argument doesn’t really work, but then you have the inside the Catholic Church, you have what some what’s commonly called the hyperpapalist, the popesplainer, whatever you want to call them. They would say that you’re being like a Protestant still, because of the fact that you are not obeying. As a Catholic, you don’t have this personal interpretation. You’re not supposed to be a Protestant.

And so if the Pope says X, you have to believe X no matter what. And likewise, even if a bishop, I mean, a little bit lesser authority, but still, you’d have to at least listen to a bishop who says X, no matter what you think the church says, because that’s actually what the church… When you say the church says this, what really that means is the Pope said X, and so therefore, how do you then go on that side of the argument of saying, no, I’m not being like a Protestant when I am contradicting the Pope even and many bishops when I say that they’re wrong in some issue.

Joshua Charles:

Well, there are examples of that in this book.

Eric Sammons:

Give me an example of this one.

Joshua Charles:

Well, and this example isn’t in the book, but I was just reading it yesterday again when I was working on an article. Was it Irenaeus of Lyon? Was it him? I think it was St. Irenaeus. He confronted Pope Victor. There was a controversy about the dating of Easter. This is the late second century, and some portions of the East were dating it, I think, according to the Jewish calendar. Whereas the Roman tradition in many other places was basically a new calculation.

So, St. Pope Victor excommunicated a wide swath of the Eastern church, and they were claiming, well, we have this tradition from the Apostles. Some were saying that the Apostle John, and so we can’t really go against that. Whereas the Pope was saying, well, there’s authority in Rome to decide this issue for the whole church. And St. Irenaeus recommended, I believe it was St. Irenaeus recommended to the Pope not doing this. He was pleading with the Pope to take…

Eric Sammons:

I think it was Polycarp.

Joshua Charles:

Might’ve been Polycarp, I’m blanking. I was covering Eusebius, I was covering a whole lot of church histories last night, so I-

Eric Sammons:

It’s one of those because they’re the same timeframe and they were on the same page on that. So it might’ve been Polycarp, but the essential point is still there.

Joshua Charles:

But he was directly challenging the Pope. He didn’t say he didn’t have authority to do it. I think people need to realize that… It’s so interesting. One of the things I was most excited about when I was becoming Catholic was that there were seven more books of the Bible, and Sirach is one of my absolute favorites. And Sirach has this powerful, let me actually just pull it up really quick.

It has this really powerful verse that was helpful for me coming from a family with some divorce and things like that. My parents are wonderful in so many ways, but when there’s situations of divorce, there’s issues too. And so Sirach 3 has this powerful line, and I think it could apply. It talks about fathers and mothers, mostly fathers. I think it can apply to spiritual fathers as fathers.

Starting at verse 10, he says, “Do not glorify yourself by dishonoring your father for your father’s dishonor is no glory to you. For a man’s glory comes from honoring his father, and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother. Oh, son, help your father in his old age and do not grieve him as long as he lives.”

Here’s the clincher. “Even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance in all your strength. Do not despise him, for kindness to a father will not be forgotten and against your sins. It will be credited to you. In the day of your affliction, it will be remembered in your favor as frost and fare weather, your sins will melt away. Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord.”

So that really struck me because it struck me that even if you don’t believe this is a divinely inspired document, psychologically, it’s stunningly wise because I think there’s something that just our whole human nature gets out of alignment when we actively despise our parents. Even if our parents, mine were wonderful in many ways, but some people have horrible parents who abuse them or whatever.

But there’s something that just is completely out of whack in our souls if we’re actively despising our parents. Whereas the commandment says, “Honor your parents, honor your father and your mother.” And by the way, I want to be crystal clear. I don’t have all this settled in my mind yet. I’m just trying to lay out general principles. I would say that many of these saints, they went as far as they could to be obedient. There were some cases where they said, usually because of what seemed to be direct matters of faith, “I cannot go there, Bishop or Holy Father. I can’t.”

There was a case with St. Bruno. He’s in this book, where I believe it was Pope Paschal II. He had compromised, again under duress, but with slow communication. There wouldn’t have been a lot of knowledge about that immediately. But he had compromised with the Holy Roman Emperor. I think it was Henry IV. So at the end of the 1000s, 1070s, 1080s, St. Pope Gregory VII, the investiture controversy, basically it was who has the authority to appoint bishops, the Pope or the emperor?

Gregory made it extremely clear, the Pope. But this was a struggle because for many decades, a century or so, the emperor and lay leaders had been doing it. Now, they’d still get the hands laid on, but the lay leader would be the one saying, “You’re going to be the bishop or whatever.” And so the pope was like wresting that back.

So, Paschal II about a century or so later, he gets in a tussle with Henry V, I believe it was Henry V, and in a situation where Henry invaded the Papal States, and Paschal signed basically a complete capitulation to Henry, which basically allowed the lay power to appoint bishops. St. Bruno, who was in the good graces of the papacy and the Roman aristocracy at the time said, “No, this is contrary to the faith.” And he referred to St. Pope Gregory VII. But Bruno talked about it being a matter of love for him to confront the Pope on this.

And the Catholic tradition is full of this. I mean, St. Thomas, in his Summa chapter on fraternal correction, he says, even layman have the right in charity and with charity to correct their prelates if it’s a matter of the faith. And he cites both Galatians 2, Paul confronting Peter to his face, and St. Augustine who cites the exact same example to basically say, “This is a warning to all bishops that if we ever stray from the straight path, we can be corrected by our inferiors.”

It doesn’t mean the inferior becomes an ecclesiastical judge. It doesn’t mean the inferior, you and I, the layman, have jurisdiction. And we can’t even say to other Catholics, “You must go with what we’re saying.” We can’t do that. We can make our case and we’re not claiming jurisdiction. People sometimes misuse this word, judge. I went to law school, which means for some people, I’m smarter. For most other people, I’m annoying as hell.

So, but in law school, there’s two different versions of what people mean when they mean judge. There’s judge in the juridical sense, “I have actual power and authority over you to make a judgment.” In that sense. Nobody can judge the Pope, nobody, because nobody is his superior. To be under a judge, the judge has to be your superior.

Even President Trump, a lot of what’s going on is very strange not to get into Trump stuff, but he is the inferior, even a former president is the inferior of the judge. So even in our country, that’s the case. But then there’s the other sense of judge, which is simply to discern. That’s all it means, which is why Jesus says in Matthew 7, he says, “Don’t judge lest you be judged.” But he also says, “Judge with righteous judgment.”

So I saw a meme one time, it was the beginning of Matthew 7. At the beginning it says, “Judge not,” and then the rest is blacked out. That’s the modern thing, so we got to be clear on all these concepts. And honestly, I’d have to get a little bit more tangible situation to give you, I think, a clear answer. I will say that these saints, I’ll give one example, one that I was particularly affected by Saint Joan of Arc, a lay woman.

Basically, she was in a situation where she received these visions. I think most people know the story, but for those who don’t, receive these visions to basically help Charles VII, who was the king in waiting, the dauphin, fancy term, to help fight the war against the English, the French and the English were at War. England at the time controlled a pretty big swath of France.

And that she would fight for Charles VII to get him to Reims, the town of Reims, which is the traditional location where French monarchs are coronated. So she goes to Charles VII, she wins some battles, he gets coronated. So he’s the official king of France. Well, she eventually gets captured by the English, and she’s tried for heresy and witchcraft and sorcery.

It was a very political trial because they were on the English side essentially. And basically, the bishop and the ecclesiastical tribunal were trying to pry into her visions and trying to get things from her that they had no right to get. And she varied directly, but very charitably constantly said, “No, I’m not going to tell you that. St. Margaret and whatnot told me I can’t reveal this stuff.”

And in truth be told, the bishop had no right to know what it was. So eventually it gets to the point where there’s a lot of shenanigans with the trial, but she appeals to the Pope, which she had every right to do in canon law, and the bishop denied it to her. And not only that, she ended up being killed. So a law secured for this Catholic lay woman in canon law to appeal to Rome was not only denied, but it was followed up by her being executed, burnt at the stake.

So I mentioned that story because I think everybody has this vague sense of Joan of Arc in her story, but she was a faithful Catholic to the end. So I don’t mean to be unfeeling because I’m very concerned about what’s going on right now. Please don’t misunderstand me. And I think it’s a grave situation. Please don’t misunderstand me. I stand in judgment of no one.

But I will say after researching many of these saints, I came away with the undeniable sense that their tolerance level for what they believed apparently implicitly was possible in the church. And it still being the church was a lot higher than ours. And I think sometimes many Catholics have this sort of… It’s very interesting because the sort of legalism had taken over with the Pharisees prior to them executing Jesus.

It feels sometimes that a legalism has taken over with regard to these questions. The minds of many Catholics where everything’s almost like a legal question, and there’s a role for that. Law is very important, and I think I’m thankful for my training in law. It helps you with all sorts of concepts and being clear and making distinctions, whatever.

But ultimately, the church is a mystery that law is relevant to, but law can’t fully capture. And that mystery, as we mentioned at the beginning, is there’s going to be suffering. And what’s an aspect of suffering that many of us forget? One of the worst aspects of suffering is we oftentimes don’t know why. It’s that aching question of why, Lord, why?

What I’m learning is a Catholic, and again, I stand in judgment of no one. What I’m learning as a Catholic, and what I learned from so many of these stories is the docile humble willingness to suffer solves in and of itself without understanding everything that’s going on, solves in and of itself the vast majority, if not all, of the issues. I sometimes joke with Protestants who bring up Pope Francis and some of the things going on, look, if I can get you to 2013 with the Catholic Church, we’re doing well.

I’ll say, “Look, some things in the church like St. Bruno, he challenged the Pope, said, ‘This is contrary to the faith.'” I say this as a loyal, loving son of the church, this is not what the church is taught. Layman cannot invest clergy. And he was despised. He was out of the cool kids circle. He was not among the elites anymore.

Well, guess what? He was canonized a few decades later after his death, as was St. Joan of Arc, her trial verdict was smashed. I’m forgetting the word right now, was rescinded, and she was canonized. And as I say this, it’s terrifying because it’s like, who wants to live this way? It really shows that, to go back to something we said at the beginning, it’s heaven or hell, eternal life, eternal death.

If that’s not what’s at stake, then to hell with it. This shows that our faith is either completely bonkers or it really is supernatural and gives us the ability to live in a way that our human nature mired in original sin simply cannot do on our own, if that makes sense.

Eric Sammons:

Yeah, and I think something you said really struck me, and that is, maybe not saying these words, but the idea that the church can be a mess and that just is the way it is. And we can’t necessarily fix it, but we can suffer for it through the mess. And that will eventually fix at least this mess until the next one comes around.

I remember when Bishop Schneider a while back wrote about the idea of on the issue of can you depose a pope? And he basically came to the conclusion, no, you can’t. A pope could obviously resign or whatever, but we do not have the power, the authority, to depose him. So his conclusion was, when you have a bad pope, even a terribly bad pope, you simply suffer under him.

There’s an actual benefit to that suffering that will help resolve the problem one day, probably not in our timeframe that we want, but it will. And I remember there’s a lot of people who from all sides who attacked him for that, because I do think it’s like this modern, especially American mentality. We got to fix it. We got to problem, we’ve got to fix it, and we have to fix it this way by taking this action.

I will be the first to put up my hand and say, “I fall into that too.” And I think there’s something beautiful though, what Bishop Schneider said, I think it sounds very consistent with what the saints, especially in this book and other saints who have dealt with persecution, is, it’s not quietism. It’s not this idea of, oh, we just pray and we endure, because we look at Bishop Schneider himself, what is he doing? He’s going out and he’s speaking out all the time, and he’s saying, “This is where-“

Joshua Charles:

Offering fraternal correction.

Eric Sammons:

Offering fraternal correction, over and over again, publicly, making it clear. So this is a case of him shutting up and not saying anything. What he’s saying though is that what I can do as a bishop, which is a little different what we can do, but there’s similarities. I can speak out. I can say, this is what the church has always taught. This is what is to be believed.

And what they are saying even in Rome is not that, but I am not able to say, “He is not the pope,” or whatever the case may be. Instead, I just have to suffer with the fact that my own spiritual father is dishonoring himself, and I have to say that, but then he can’t not be my father all of a sudden. And so I think that that’s kind of what I take away from the example of saints. And what you’re saying, is that the thread you’re going with here?

Joshua Charles:

Yeah, in general, yeah. There are some things I don’t talk about publicly, because I have my own theories and thoughts, and our Lord is very clear, you’ll have to answer for every word. And so I want to be very careful. I don’t want to scandalize anybody. I’ll simply say I do think it’s possible.

There are many, I think, there’s this wonderful book written by a Brazilian lawyer called Can a Pope be a Heretic? And he cites just an amazing plethora of theological sources, doctors of the church, fathers, Popes. I think he even cites some ecumenical counsels that elusively deal with this issue. And again, it goes back to something you said earlier, that there are genuine cases where, I don’t know the Latin, but the English is an unclear law, and ambiguous law is no law.

So there can be times, but then the proper response to that is not to become an autonomia, meaning one’s own law. That’s not the proper response. So I’ve thought I go to traditional Latin mass, FSSP Parish, it’s beautiful. The sacraments are available in a way that is nowhere in our diocese. And I’ve had to wonder, I think we’ll be fine, because of FSSP’s status, whatnot.

But I’ve had to think, well, if the Bishop, and I sometimes go to a Novus Ordo and frankly, some of the reasons I do that is to avoid, I think, sometimes there are some in the Latin mass community that sometimes get a little supercilious toward people who go to the Novus Ordo. They don’t realize that a lot of times these people just simply don’t know anything else.

As somebody who came from Protestantism who hadn’t even heard of the church fathers prior to 2014, 2015, I didn’t know any better either. And so again, the children need to learn to have a little mercy with each other, a little grace, because the constant squabbling is helping no one. But at the same time, like you were saying, there are these papal maximal, as you say, “Well, everything the Pope…”

That’s a huge subject. The short version is the Catholic faith has never, ever, ever, ever been that the Pope is an oracle. And if you’re going to say that basically everything the Pope says is binding, you’re making him an oracle, and that’s just not Catholic. I’m sorry, it’s not. If it was, then I guess first century Christians shouldn’t have been eating with Gentiles if they were Jewish, because that’s what Peter failed to do. Peter was engaging in dining with people based on race.

So imagine if I was to say, if I was to say, “Yeah, we’ve got a Pope in Rome right now who refuses to eat with some race.” That’s what Peter was doing. That’s what Peter was doing, and he wasn’t doing it from conviction. He wasn’t binding whole church to it. He was just a coward. It says in Galatians 2 that out of fear of the Jews, he was just being a coward and Paul corrected him to his face on it.

I’ll give one other story. This isn’t in the book, but this is what happens whenever you and I talk, Eric, I blame it on you. There’s just so many things. There’s just so many things to talk about. There’s a lot of things in the book we didn’t even get to. Maybe we do another one at some point, but this is great too.

But there’s a story from St. Pope Gregory the Great’s dialogues, and I love citing St. Pope Gregory the Great. Why? He’s a saint. He’s a doctor of the church, he’s a church father and he’s a pope. Other than being immaculately conceived, which we celebrate on Friday, there’s no four bigger check marks you can get in the Catholic Church.

And he wasn’t writing this as some binding dogmatic statement, but his pastoral rule, which I know you’ve read a lot or read all of it, there’s a story, I’m sorry, this wasn’t in the pastoral world, this was in the dialogues, I’m sorry. In the dialogues he gives this story, I think his name was Pistasios, Roman name, Deacon Pistasios. And Deacon Pistasios was a very holy man and there was a papal election, I forget which pope it was. It was a bit before Gregory.

For whatever reason, Pistasios did not accept who the Roman church elected as Pope, for whatever reason, Gregory is a little unclear about the reasons, but he does ascribe it to ignorance. So Deacon Pistasios dies and immediately his grave starts to smell like flowers and produces miracles, so presumably he’s a saint, he’s in heaven or on his way. And roughly at the same time, his spirit or something that looked like him was appearing to a bishop in a public bath asking him to pray for him.

The bishop prayed for him, offered mass for him, and it stopped. So Gregory says explicitly then he must’ve been in purgatory essentially, but he says he’s in heaven. Not because was wrong about… He’s in heaven in spite of being wrong about the Pope, because his decision in that regard was not malevolent. It was based in ignorance. We know that St. Vincent, why am I forgetting his last name? Farer, was wrong about the identity of the Pope. There have been a few other situations.

Now, does that exactly apply to today? That’s a whole other topic. My point simply is this, these are facts of Catholic history that saints have been wrong about elements of this, and they’re still saints. People need to realize, I think sometimes we forget how important the day of judgment is in the overall Catholic scheme of theology. What I mean by that is that every one of us will be held accountable.

So whenever we don’t have an answer for, well, how is this resolved? And essentially much of Protestantism derives from the fact that, well, if we can’t solve it here, then we’re going to solve it ourselves. Well, that’s honestly, I hate to be, this is a big topic, but that’s essentially what the Day of Judgment is for. It really is. It’s a catch-all, not to be lazy about it, but it is. So, there may be weird things about this time that the church tells us about at a later point.

But at the end of the day, in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done,” whether you’re married or a priest or in a religious vow or even a layman trying to follow a vocation, when you’re fasting, when you’re doing penance, we’re mortifying our will. And so this is truly an otherworldly aspect of our religion. If we as Catholics get into this frame of mind where problem in the church must be solved by us on our timeframe, I would say that is getting a little bit Protestant, in at least ethos, not theology per se, but ethos.

And it is very American, as you said. It’s like our country was like, “There’s a problem with the king, we’re going to fix it.” Supposedly. And there’s some value to that. But I’m sorry, that’s not how the church works. The church is established on the foundation of the Apostles. They’re successors. I’ll give one more example from the Old Testament. God makes these astounding promises to King David. I think it’s actually very applicable.

I think it’s 2 Samuel 7 and basically says, Messiah will come from your line. I’ll maintain the house of David. You’ll be on the throne, whatnot. So he makes these promises to David in David’s lifetime. But in David’s lifetime, David himself was expelled from Jerusalem by his own son. And so it would’ve appeared to the average Israelite like, what’s going on? What about those promises God made to David and whatnot?

So there would’ve been a surface level sort of, well either God didn’t make that or he’s a liar, or David’s a liar. So, my point is there can be great ambiguity and as long as we approach that ambiguity with a docile, humble will, I think we’re in an infinitely better situation than somebody who’s simply trying to fix what they have no authority or power to fix.

Eric Sammons:

Now, I promised earlier we wouldn’t go as long as last time, but we almost… I am going to wrap it up here. In fact, what I want to do is-

Joshua Charles:

I’m honored, thank you.

Eric Sammons:

To be honest, I would love to go three more hours. YouTube might break, though, if we just kept going on. But what I want to do is just wrap it up by saying that I think one of the most important things I’ve heard from this discussion I really appreciate is this idea that we are merciful to our fellow Catholics who are trying to figure out this crisis just like we are. And I think it applies to all of us.

It applies to me first, how I treat others and all that and everybody else, that we are in a crisis, we know this. And when the church is in a crisis, even saints can get it wrong on specific issues, and they still can be saints, and the reason they’re saints-

Joshua Charles:

Can and have.

Eric Sammons:

Yeah, and have. So even when we disagree on, I think probably the most pressing one is Pope Francis. We all know that, that’s the elephant in the room. And we all have a different idea of what does this mean that he acts the way he does, he says what he does, he persecutes people like Bishop Strickland and things like that. What does that mean?

I think it’s okay to say, “I don’t know. I don’t know what that means.” I just know I have to be faithful to Christ, faithful to his church, and that involves a lot of different aspects. And so if somebody else says, “I think that means this is about Francis,” and another Catholic, “This means about Francis.” It’s like that’s fine for you to have that opinion. I have a different opinion, I have the same opinion, whatever.

But ultimately, we have to realize that we don’t really know the answer and the timeframe for determining the answer might be after our lifetime. It might be after we’ve already left this world, that it gets resolved to a satisfaction of us. Because like you said, even King David being kicked out, it’s like remember during that time the people would’ve thought God’s promises were not true.

Joshua Charles:

It would’ve appeared, yeah.

Eric Sammons:

It would’ve appeared that way. And so there are people today, I know Catholics who-

Joshua Charles:

Plausibly, plausibly.

Eric Sammons:

… question that God’s promises haven’t been true because of what they believe the promises are to Christ as Peter and his successors and what Pope Francis done. And I think we should have a certain humility to say, “Well, it might just be appearances in the grand scheme of things are different than are specific.”

One final thought and then we will wrap it up.

Joshua Charles:

Honestly, I’d be happy to come on and dive into more specifics about each of these saints if you would like. That may be fun and edifying for people and maybe different lessons from each one. So I’d be willing to do that as a part of my advent penance if you’d like. No, I’m just kidding. I’m totally kidding. It’d be an honor and it’s fun, and you’re a great interviewer and thank you.

I have many thoughts. But one that always comes to mind is, as I was telling you before we were recording, I prayed in college to God, God, if there’s some way I can always read and dig deeper for the truth and it somehow pay my bills, that’d be awesome. And that’s turned out to be the case. And I’m extremely blessed. I mean, these are all fathers and this is all other amazing civilization stuff and there’s other libraries in the house and whatever.

It’s just like most of my day is spent frankly in quiet just with the Father’s scripture. And I’m trying to keep it as much that way as possible. I say that because not to say, oh, look at me. Not at all. I think modern media, social media, instant communication, it has a very, it’s not an unmitigated evil, that’s obviously false, but it’s far from always good. It’s far from even mostly good I think.

I think it creates this disquiet in many of our souls where even knowing about tragedies on the other side of the world. Now, we have planes, we have vehicles, we can help, we should know about this so we can help. Fine. But there is a sense in which being aware of everything adds this stress about, whether it’s humanitarian stuff or stuff in the church, we’ve got to fix it. It’s like, it obscures for us that what’s in front of us is really our primary duty. You’re a husband and a father.

You know this. That’s way more important than heading crisis. Crisis comes second, third or fourth, whatever. And the same with all of us. So it’s like when I go to mass and I even some local Novus Ordo I go to on occasion, where I prefer the Latin mass, I’ll just put it that way, strongly. But life goes on.

If I just turned it all off, if I compare what my Catholic life was when I came into the church with now, it’s exactly the same. I know that’s not the case with everybody. I know that’s not the case. So again, it’s not quietism, it’s just St. Francis de Sales. I read Introductions to the Devout Life, after I read his book against Protestantism, because I think it’s the single best apologetic against Protestantism I’ve ever written.

But he says that there’s essentially nothing… We should do absolutely everything we can to always maintain peace of soul, because when your soul is worked up and agitated, it’s almost certain to make poor decisions. I’m pondering that a lot and I’m pondering also the mystery. I said this on Avoiding Babylon, I know with your best bud Anthony, but pondering the typology and the mystery of how Shem and Japheth responded to Noah being drunk compared to Ham.

And Ham was cursed and what Noah was doing, whether he intended it or not, that’s all an interesting debate of whether he knew what he was doing. Whether he knew it or not, it was embarrassing. We have a lot of embarrassing fatherly behavior right now from many people. But I’m pondering, and I’m not going to presume to give an answer to your audience or to you, I’m just saying maybe we can all ponder some of these type.

I think scripture and the Fathers, we need to… Typology is so wonderfully liberating. It’s how there’s literally no gospel without typology. I’m cataloging all the times in the New Testament where Jesus and the Apostles are using typology. And if there was not a typological analysis of scripture, reading of the Old Testament makes absolutely zero sense, zero explicit sense.

I suggest we ponder some of these mysteries about the drunk father and how Shem and Japheth were blessed. And Shem ended up being the line, Shem means name. It’s like the name of God ended up being the line of the Messiah, because of how he treated his father when he was drunk. And you do this so well. I think you’re very measured. So thank you for being, I think a wonderful exemplify of how to do this.

I know not everybody always agrees, but I think you do a good job about this. Sometimes, I know Anthony makes… He’s like our boring dad. You’re not boring. But sometimes we do need just that calm, measured, chill. It’ll be fine.

Eric Sammons:

I think we should end it on a compliment of me. That’s exactly the good way.

Joshua Charles:

Well, that’s what I mean. It’s like in times of crisis, who do people look to? They’re the calm guy, the guy who keeps his head about him when everybody else is losing theirs, and you do that very well. So, thank you.

Eric Sammons:

I appreciate it. I think it’s my personality. Also, my wife, we have an inside joke that it’s not going to be inside anymore, but sometimes when I’ll be downstairs in the office at night instead of during the day when I’m at work, and I’ll come up and she’ll go, “Oh, was somebody wrong on the internet?” It’s a good reminder to me.

Joshua Charles:

That’s hilarious.

Eric Sammons:

You don’t have to correct everybody on the internet, and it started with me saying that. I would say, “Somebody was wrong on the internet and I had to correct them.” So now she’ll ask me that just to keep me in check in a good way of like, “Hey, you don’t have to correct everything. Go on, allow it.” And like you said, ponder, so I think we’ll stop there.

Although I want to continue for hours more, but I think that’s a good message to end on is just the idea. Let’s ponder the mysteries, ponder what’s going on a little bit more, not quietism, but definitely understanding that not everything has a solution. So thanks a lot.

And again, let’s make sure, the book, Persecuted From Within. Let me get the subtitle right, How the Saints Endure Crises in the Church. It’s very good, Sophia Institute Press. I think it’s perfect for today’s time, so I really appreciate you and Alec writing it. It’s great. So thank you very much, Joshua.

God bless you. Until next time, everybody. God love you.

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