Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Faithful (?) Remnant

March 19th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

In the comment box for Dr. K’s piece on parish attendance at SA, OLOL, SM Downtown, and GS, Bernie mentioned that for as many people that have left, at least doubly so have stayed. Why? In my most humble opinion, those who stay in parishes whose liturgical prowess, not to mention theological basis in reality, fall into the following categories:

  1. The Ideological Crusaders – These are the people who try to work from within to kill the beast. These people usually have a love for all things genuinely sacred, a distaste for heresy and dissent, and an underpinning sense of fear. Those whom I know who have stayed in parishes such as St. Anne have only done so because they “are on the music committee,” or maybe “the liturgy committee.” Whatever the committee, they stay to undo do, or at least, oppose, those evils which have made themselves manifest. However, under this genuine desire to serve the parish that once was, they fear what the parish is. In their minds, the St. Anne (or Good Shepherd, or Our Lady of Lourdes) of the past is not dead, but in hibernation – all they need to do is prevent the hunter from shooting the poor beast in its sleep. Well, perhaps it’s true that a parish can revive from adversity – just look at Our Lady of Victory before the refugees. However, there is a difference between shifting demographics and a purposeful scattering of the flock. If a lamb meanders away on its own accord, it can be readily led to rejoin the others. However, if a wolf drives a lamb away, bloodying it and battering it, it is improbable that the lamb should rejoin those in the pasture – it has borne too much injury, and suffered too much pain to go back. Those who fled the parishes made a choice akin to that of leaving the room of a dying parent for one last time. Upon leaving that parish, you will never know it as it once was known. “The old things have passed away,” and it is not the working of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Ignorant – These are those poor souls who have never been catechized properly, never been educated by a true lover of the faith, never been exposed to the true beauty of the liturgy. For these people, “Church” is “church.” The parish is the faith, as opposed to an instrument of that faith, through which its universality is displayed. These people cling to a parish, no matter what, because they love it. No doubt rests in my mind as to the love people have for their home parish. However, there comes a point when one must make a break from the parish, if it becomes a hotbed of sin and dissent. A child will always, in some way, love her mother. However, if the mother becomes a drug addict, selling her body for money enough for the next snort of cocaine, conscious only between binges of drugs and alcohol, the child must leave that parent and seek refuge elsewhere. There is love for the mother, of course. However, the temporal needs of the child outweigh the love for the self-destructing parent. Rehab is an option, yes. But a child never stays with the parent if her welfare is endangered. So too must the faithful flee from dissent – yes, you will always love your spiritual mother, your parish, but at what cost? Would you rather lose your soul for clinging to error and those professing it, than you would experience a “white martyrdom,” voluntarily leaving your parish for the sake of Truth?
  3. The Bitter – These are the people who let anger and pain get in the way of practicing Catholic virtues. The Bitter stay at a parish to be a thorn in the side of the administrator – not to rectify a problem, but to agitate and aggravate the problem’s creator. This is not right, not at all. One must always have love for one’s enemy – as we have love for those whom we discuss here. However, the moment hate enters into the picture, one must flee. This is the doing of Satan, who uses the free will of weak and erring humanity to enter into the Church. I have no doubt that Nancy DeRycke, Joan Sobala, Anne-Marie Brogan are good and loving people. However, through their actions, a demeanor enters the Church, a demeanor which is most definitively not from God. The Bitter are no different – they have a love for the Church, but they let this love turn into a jihad, if you will. It turns from love, to pain, to anger, to aggression.
  4. The Opportunists – These are those individuals who enjoy putting on a show. I cannot begin to recount the stories of dozens of individuals, each one focusing around someone who would put up a strong front of orthodoxy, only to swoop in for titles and privilege once the faithful had left. A reader sent an email to us about something along these lines at St. Anne. A woman on the parish council was “grievously wounded” at what Sr. Joan had started doing at Mass. She had resolved to resign her chair on the parish council but, not for the sake of joining another church. No, she intended to convert to the Episcopalian parish on nearby Highland Avenue (which, you will note, is holding ecumenical Lenten services with OLOL). However, once several seats were vacated in several committees, she suddenly had a conversion, and swooped in to save the ailing parish. By the time all was done, she had more titles and duties after the debacle than she had before. This is heinous in its duplicity. This is not loving the Church at all – it is using it to flaunt one’s abilities, one’s talents, one’s name and reputation. “Oh, look, Mr. _______ is on the music committee, the liturgy committee, the finance committee, and the RCIA team. He must be really into the Church.” Oh, no, dear friends. The opposite is true. Those who stay at these failing parishes only for the sake of gaining something are more concerned with “self,” not the Church.

I can state, with absolute certainty, that losing my parish of 30 years was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. It wiped me out emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. For several months, my soul wept as it has never wept before. Not for family, not for pets, not for national disasters. No death was as bitter and all-consuming as was the death of my beloved parish. However, if it had not been for this bloody exile, this personal Via Dolorosa, I would never have discovered the unsurpassed beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass, the depth of the faith I had never truly experienced, the transcendence of a Novus Ordo Mass celebrated correctly, without political bias, done right. In losing my soul, I gained it back. Indeed, looking back on those years, I can clearly see the hand of God through it all. Without these things, I would be one of the God-loving apathetic lambs in the congregation. I wouldn’t be motivated to assist those in similar situations, I wouldn’t be motivated to write to Rome or the nuncio. I wouldn’t be motivated to put myself to the spiritual grindstone, as it were. I would be absolutely complacent. A lover of God, yes, and a lover of the Church, but not a defender.

If you, dear reader, are an exile, you will know what I have relayed. You will have wept, you will have suffered. You will also have discovered yourself. If you are one of the faithful who have held on, continuing the good-fight, well aware of the implications, please consider making a break. Do not lose your soul defending a building. Gain radiance of soul by defending the Church.

If you are an opportunist, or a scatterer of sheep, may God have mercy on your soul. You will be in my prayers, and in the prayers of all who read this blog. But never presume that you, dear friend, are worthy to receive God’s mercy. Love Him, not yourself. Love the Church,
not your self-appointed self-importance. Find the glory of God in the Tradition of His Church, not in the folds of your lay preacher’s alb.

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5 Responses to “The Faithful (?) Remnant”

  1. Bernie says:

    Excellent points and well said!!!

    To be honest it's the "ignorant" that worry me the most; far too many of them.

  2. VCS says:

    The Ignorant – too often they are people who WERE properly categorized as young children and young adults. However, they have been fed "sawdust" for many years instead of the Church's prime "steak" (truth) or allowed themselves to be fed this garbage. Overtime, they just sit there and accept this poison and don't even realize the truth and beauty of the Church that has been slowly taken away from them. They have been given a comfortable surround and no longer desire the challenges and sacrifices that Christ puts before all of us. God have mercy! How sad!

  3. VCS says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps, you left out a few categories in your analysis.

    Since the entire Diocese is being systematically taken apart, many good Catholics are forced to look for other Parishes. Every Sunday, people end up playing a game of "musical chairs" in search for another parish because their own parish is being clustered or closed. This category is willing to consider a St. Anne (or OLOL or GS) as an alternative. They don't register with the parish, but are inclined to give generously to that particular parish of the week. They are wandering around, looking for solid ground and have not yet reached a place to be comfortable with. They may be even forced to concede to a parish just by location or availability of transportation. Do not mock them for trying to fulfill their Sunday Obligation and contributing to the Church.

    Another group are those who know better and yet are passive, but still a thorn in the side of the Administrator. Just by their presence, they are showing resistance and not giving up ground as those who left. They are not filled with hate, as you alluded to. They hold a hope for the future, and are holding on and continuing the good fight. This group has chosen to stay, not to defend a building, but to defend the Catholic Church. They may have already registered with another parish but attend both when possible.

    Consider also, a seventy-something retired Priest who celebrates Mass in this environment and has to put up with all this manure. He is forced into a terrible position but continues to stay and faithfully perform his duties. We owe him a debt of gratitude for providing us the Sacraments.

    We are all called to suffer as the Church is suffering. Perhaps this entire process is the purification of the Church. In this way, your title of the "Faithful Remnant" becomes reality.

  5. Gen says:

    Your first group would fit into the general theme of the exiled – they have no home.

    I agree almost 100% – however there is a clear difference between passivity and weak-willed surrender. People may think that they're a thorn in the side of the administrator, but in the grand scheme of things, they're just one more number bolstering her ranks.

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