Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Sheltering in Place: Part II: Truth and Resources

March 4th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Some have interpreted “Sheltering in Place” as referring to protection under a government trying to decimate religion in the public square. Others have interpreted this series as referring to the current papacy and divisive issues which have arisen. Actually it can be either or both, and even more. If we are deprived of a bible because the government confiscates all bibles, or because it were to be edited to remove certain sins such as adultery in case of marriage, divorce and remarriage without annulment, the result is the same. Perhaps distortion of dogma and doctrine is the worse, but some principles apply to both cases. 

Sheltering in Place: Part II: Truth and Resources

“What is truth?” asked Pilate, as he looked Truth in the Face. And then he sent Jesus to the Cross.

Whatever actions we may take by “sheltering in place,” it is important to base those plans on the secure foundation of truth, for Christ Himself is  “…the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6.) The word ‘truth’ is used 21x in the Gospel of John.  In John 17:17, we are given Christ’s High Priestly Prayer to the Father regarding the apostles and, by extension, regarding us and His Church: “Sanctify them in the truth. Thy Word is truth.” Continuing in John 17:19, Christ prays: “And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be consecrated in Truth.”

Under the Wings of the Holy Spirit

I think one of the key elements of sheltering in place is at least having a sense of being consecrated to Truth, i.e. under the protection of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s prayer to the Father says it clearly: “Thy Word is truth.’ Yes, Christ is Truth. So too is the sacred word of the bible, and of 2000 years of the Deposit of Faith and Sacred Tradition, which even a Pope cannot change; a pope’s work is to protect, not change.  Fortunately, we are not casting about to find that Truth; it is readily accessible. It is a valid question to consider if we were under persecution in this country, or in a situation of ‘rupture’ in the Church, as the laity experienced during the Arian period, what resources would we wish we’d had in place?

The basic take-away regarding using and relying on trustworthy information depends directly on the teaching authority of the Church.  Modern controversies have no power over us, if they contradict what Christ has always taught through His Church.  We are not orphans, casting around for crumbs of spiritual food or deeper understanding; rather we are descendants of 2000 years of well-documented Church Teaching.  It is best in times of confusion and discord to rely on what has always been reliable, truth through the ages, and not be dissuaded or troubled by rumors not confirmed, or by abuses of power, miscommunication, or subtleties of translated, modern speeches positioned through unreliable media.

Treasury of Resources

If we were putting together a trove of materials to sustain us during a drought of teaching, we’d certainly begin with Sacred Scripture, Old and New Testaments, a solid commentary on the books of Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (a gift through Pope St. John Paul II), even Canon Law and its commentary.  And we might want to have duplicate copies, or resources available for others, if or when such resources are no longer available. For bibles, there is value in having different but acceptable translations, like the Douay, the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSV-CE), and the New American Bible (NAB).  The RSV-CE is the foundation translation for the English Language Catechism, and the NAB for liturgy in the U. S.  In addition, Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), a missal to “read the Mass” and a Catholic hymnal could be valuable additions. We should not assume in difficult times that we can just “Google” the  resources we might wish we had available.

Personal Resources

While the wide range of resources which unite us in faith is important, so too are personal resources which are deeply in our own practice, memory or family tradition. Like a grandparent’s rosary, a pyx to carry the Holy Eucharist, a crucifix, holy water, holy cards, scapulars, relics and other sacramentals. What else would you put on the list?

I have an old Last Rites set used at bedside for the anointing of the dying. Were one to “Shelter in Place” for a prolonged period, would we not prefer to be in a house that has been blessed? Or even had an Enthronement of the Sacred Heart?    That might just be good planning ahead.

One of my treasures is a little book my father carried every day, entitled “Catholics Pocket Manual,” with an imprimatur Dec. 4, 1905. That little book (and it1905 Catholic Handbooks 224 thin pages) covers an incredible amount of information, from morning and evening prayers to confession, from litanies to instructions to a “Clerk” on how to serve Mass.  I am particularly surprised at the contrast between preparing for confession today, and the significantly more extensive practice recommended 112 years ago. It is shown in the picture as approximate size.


While there certainly is enough for reading and re-reading many times in the resources mentioned above, if our ability to get untainted materials were to be limited, there may be a selection of other resources we’d like to have available. Besides, why wouldn’t we want to have some of these resources anyway? Ideas might include Lives of the Saints for inspiration, and books by solidly faithful authors, like Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI (especially the Jesus of Nazareth books) and Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, all in more modern times, but also classics like the following (in no particular order):

  • The Sadness of Christ by St. Thomas More,
  • Life of St. Catherine of Siena by Blessed Raymond of Capua,
  • Holy Man Fr. Damien of Molokai by Gavan Daws,
  • Sacred Then and Sacred Now by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.,
  • Story of a Soul by St.Therese of Lisieux,
  • The Sacrament of the Present Moment by de Caussade,
  • Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales,
  • Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis,
  • The Cure of Ars and the Holy Eucharist,
  • Interior Castles by Therese of Avila.

I’m sure there are better lists, more famous or more frequently cited, but I am thinking of which 10 I might limit myself to if I only had these to read and re-read, and these were the first that came to mind.  So if you have other ideas, please comment! One might add to the list of resources a number of DVD’s and CD’s, including inspiring religious music.  That will be excellent, as long as the grid doesn’t go down.

Times of turmoil

In times of great turmoil, such as the Church seems to be experiencing right now, it is natural for those most affected to wonder what to do. What is right? What is wrong? What information is reliable, what is not? What is true? To shelter in place effectively we want to know that the resources we have are true, and well-aligned to the Church’s teaching over two millennia.  So, we have started with those that are most necessary and reliable.

But the next questions would be about trying to read and interpret what is really happening, who can be trusted or not, especially among various media, among priests and their preaching, and among bishops and the magisterial office. We are in a time when bishops are openly disagreeing with each other, positions which can’t all be right. Which news is reliable and which isn’t? What agenda is really being played out? And where does this all fit with the galloping horse-hooves of the end times and of eternity, drawing ever nearer on the road behind us?


6 Responses to “Sheltering in Place: Part II: Truth and Resources”

  1. catholicmom says:

    Just started reading Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon by Rev. Donald Calloway MIC. I believe the rosary will defeat the troubles we have in our families, the church and the world.

  2. Ben Anderson says:

    One of my treasures is a little book my father carried every day, entitled “Catholics Pocket Manual,” with an imprimatur Dec. 4, 1905.

    how neat! what a treasure.

  3. JLo says:

    I like your list very much, Diane; and in response to your invitation to add to it, I’ll only reflect that Bishop Sheen advised that we should always have a biography of Jesus active in our reading. Since I like the good bishop’s way of writing (short, clear sentences), I’d have my “Life of Christ” with me.

    I’d also have about me with my ever-present scapular a sacramental that has become a personal treasure, an Agnus Dei given to me by a dear friend who passed in 2015. I don’t even know from which Pope it came, but I know for certain that it predates the current pope and his direct predecessor.

    So troubling to me is how I seem to be on automatic when I read anywhere that something is from Pope Francis… I skip over it. I do not want to read anything he writes. Those who approve or excuse what he’s doing say that he is working to make the Church more pastoral by giving decisions for pastoring to locals. Kind of like the Feds giving certain jurisdictions back to the states. I like that in our government, but the Church is not a government, and I believe there is great hurt coming because we have a pope and people who are treating it thus, completely missing what is truly its makeup… Christ the Head and all the people His Body, the Kingdom come on earth, not a social structure to be fashioned this way and that as the times and places call for social engineering.

    This new progressive approach will indeed make schism necessary for those who will not be fooled by those who see Jesus now in a different place. He warned us it would happen, and many ages have experienced those trying that. I fear we will experience such a time. So I hang on to the tried and the true while I strive to keep a charitable attitude for those who are running toward what they see as a new day, as a necessary dragging of the Church into the 21st Century (just read that sorry statement in an article printed from Rome).

    Thank you for being out there, Diane, a noble watchdog and an encouragement to we who do not see that the Church can be anything other than what its holy patron St. Joseph would esteem and love in these sad and dangerous times, and I don’t believe he would esteem nuanced approaches to walking the Way given us over two thousand years ago and priests and prelates acting as social and mental health workers instead of soul savers.

  4. Diane Harris says:

    Very well said, JLo. In a future section I do want to address the “people” part of truth, and whom to trust or not. Since doctrine and dogma are so settled and accessible, I don’t think we need to hang on Pope Francis’ every word, as we have very well-written, lucid and charitable teaching documents fully available to us. Personally, I don’t think we need to subject ourselves to discord of soul or anxiety of spirit by reading anything inconsistent with what we’ve already been taught, or anything which is just confusing. More to come on that subject …. Peace.

  5. militia says:

    Here is a good example of why it is important to stockpile faithful materials. There is a great risk of their being changed, in violation of Church teaching.

  6. annonymouse says:

    Father Martin was, once upon a time, relatively orthodox. He’s gotten quite full of himself in his narcissism, and has become more aggressive of late in his support of homosexuality. One wonders why. Here he is advocating a change in the catechism, indeed a change in the Church’s entire teaching about human sexuality and marriage to accommodate his radical agenda.

    Father Martin, as well as many, many priests (including some in our own diocese), are ill formed and lack vital understanding of human sexuality as integral to the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony. They ignore the critical understanding that any licit and moral sexual relationship must be open to cooperation with God in the creation of new life, and of course homosexual acts are by nature not ordered toward (indeed incapable of) the creation of new life. This is one area where I think celibate priests (who, God knows, may be of that inclination themselves) don’t seem to fully grasp the magnificence of entering into an act of co-creation with God of new life and how that is fundamental to marriage.

    Mark my words, this is a battle – the lines were drawn going into the synod a couple years ago and the number of bishops/cardinals who would have liked the Church to change its beliefs about sexuality and sin were not insignificant. And the battle is coming to a parish in your neck of the woods. Word is that two lesbians had their baby baptized during Mass just a few weeks ago at St. Katari.

    Father Martin should go back to Genesis (and the Gospels of Matthew and Mark) and re-read the part about “God created them male and female.”

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