Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

“As the stars keep on their course…”

November 9th, 2014, Promulgated by b a


Now, how is charity to be perfected in them ? It must abound, more and more, in knowledge and in all understanding of salvation, that is, in faith. It is faith that constitutes the basis of all supernatural virtue. A restricted, a diminished,5 faith could never support a large and high-minded charity. Those men, therefore, are deceiving themselves whose love for revealed truth does not keep pace with their charity! Such Christianity as that believes as little as it may; it has a nervous dread of new definitions; and out of respect for error, it cleverly and continually narrows the supernatural horizon. Charity, they say, is the queen of virtues; it makes them take everything easily, even lies against truth ;- to give the same rights to error as to truth is, in their estimation, the highest point of Christian civilization grounded on love! They quite forget that the first object of charity, God who is substantial Truth, has no greater enemy than a lie; they cannot understand how it is that a Christian does not do a work of love by putting on the same footing the Object beloved and His mortal enemy !

The apostles had very different ideas; in order to make charity grow in the world, they gave it a rich sowing of truth. Every new ray of light they put into their disciples’ hearts was an intensifying of their love; and these disciples, having by Baptism become themselves light;l were most determined to have nothing to do with darkness. In those days, to deny the truth was the greatest of crimes; to expose themselves, by a want of vigilance, to infringe on the rights of truth, even in the slightest degree, was the height of imprudence.2 When Christianity first shone upon mankind, it found error supreme mistress of the world. Having, then, to deal with a universe that was rooted in death,3 Christianity adopted no other plan for giving it salvation than that of making the light as bright as could be; its only policy was to proclaim the power which truth alone has of saving man, and to assert its exclusive right to reign over this world. The triumph of the Gospel was the result. It came after three centuries of struggle— a struggle intense and violent 0n the side of dark— ness, which declared itself to be supreme, and was resolved to keep so; but a struggle most patient and glorious on the side of the Christians, the torrents of whose blood did but add fresh joy to the brave army, for it became the strongest possible foundation of the united kingdom of love and truth.

But now, with the connivance of those whose Baptism made them, too, children of light, error has regained its pretended rights. As a natural consequence, the charity of an immense number has grown cold in proportion ;1 darkness is again thickening over the world, as though it were in the chill of its last agony. The children of light,2 who would live up to their dignity, must behave exactly as did the early Christians. They must not fear, nor be troubled: but, like their forefathers and the apostles, they must be proud to suffer for Jesus’ sake,3 and prize the word of life4 as the dearest thing they possess; for they are convinced that, so long as truth is kept up in the world, so long is there hope for it.6 As their only care is, to make their manner of life worthy of the Gospel of Christ,6 they go on, with all the simplicity of children of God, faithfully fulfilling the duties of their state of life, in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, as stars of the firmament shine in the night.7 ‘The stars shine in the night,’ says St. John Chrysostom, ‘they glitter in the dark. ; so far from growing dim amidst the gloom that surrounds them, they seem all the more brilliant. So will it be with thee, if thou art virtuous amidst the wicked; thy light will shine so much the more clearly.’8 ‘As the stars,’ says St. Augustine, ‘ keep on their course in the track marked out for them by God, and grow not tired of sending forth their light in the midst of darkness, neither heed they the calamities which may be happening on earth; so should do those holy ones whose conversation is truly in heaven ;9 they should pay no more attention to what is said or done against them, than the stars do.’10

Note the language used against Cardinal Burke by those who applaud the revolution:

“polarizing figure”
“outspoken, unstinting conservatism in matters of liturgy and church teaching”
“helped facilitate the most controversial US appointments of Benedict XVI’s pontificate”
“one senior US prelate termed the steady stream of polemics [Burke’s recent interviews] a form of “public suicide.”

When reading such things, it is always good to ask questions about such charges. What makes him a polarizing figure? Is it wrong to endorse an outspoken, unstinting conservatism? What made his appointments controversial? What exactly did he say that was a form of “public suicide?” Of course the answer to these questions is that Burke’s sin is that he takes too seriously the words of St. Paul:

Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.

The bigger question is – is it possible to be a faithful clergyman in today’s Church and not be ridiculed as Burke is (as Pope Emeritus Benedict is/was)? What must one compromise to earn the applause of the world? Is it worth it?


2 Responses to ““As the stars keep on their course…””

  1. Diane Harris says:

    I suggest the National Catholic Register article today provides additional insight on the Cardinal Burke matter, and is worth reading:

Leave a Reply

Log in | Register

You must be logged in to post a comment.

-Return to main page-