Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Sheltering in Place: Part IV: “Get the Hell out”

February 11th, 2018, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Sheltering in Place:

  • Part I in this series began as we should begin, with the importance of our personal commitment to the Faith. Without that, how can we go any further?
  • Part II explained the importance of holding onto truth, and to the resources (many pre-Vatican II) which might someday soon cease to be available, or be distorted in their content. The emphasis was on reading materials since many electronic resources might be unavailable if the grid goes down, or if religious subjects are censored.
  • Part III was entitled “The indispensible priest” with much emphasis on the Sacrament of Confession, and the need for access to a priest who is faithful to the true Catholic faith, and to his responsibility for souls.

Part III actually set the foundation for this Part IV: “Get the Hell Out!”  This post is about getting rid of what we don’t need, what will injure us or those close to us, avoiding anything or anyone in authority who contradicts what the Church has always taught. Of course it means eliminating our own sin, as a primary responsibility, and as discussed in Part III. But it also means identifying who or what puts our own souls at risk and then getting those elements “the hell out” of our lives, so that we may hold deeply and strongly to the Faith. Just as those most necessary are priests (Part III), so too those with the potential for damaging influence over us are usually priests, by what they say and by what they refuse to say.

Sheltering in Place: Part IV: Get the Hell Out!

The first three parts of “Sheltering in Place” were written early in 2017. This fourth part needed more time to develop, and has come now to its own timing as a result of some outrageous developments over the past year. We have seen the deepening split in interpretation of Amoris Laetitia and the Pope’s refusal to answer the Dubia (and now two of those four Cardinals are deceased),  then we read the ridiculed but apparently sincere filial correction and, most recently, there is just silence and commencement of further split, one might say, de facto schism.

Meanwhile, in our time, the Vatican provides a venue and pulpit for pro-abortion population-control forces, and the destruction or tainting of the clear pro-life intent of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Its members were dismissed and its efforts diluted with prudential judgment issues of capital punishment, immigration and climate change! The Church now teeters on the brink of surrendering the Catholic Church in China to secular powers, the ones which force women to abort all but one child.  I would never have dreamed such a split could have occurred in the Church in my life time, or in anybody’s lifetime. She needs our prayers, earnestly. In addition to finding solid, holy, trustworthy priests, we must have the courage to turn away the wolves in our lives, especially those with any ability to touch our souls, whether we personally like them as people, or not. Each day that goes by, each news cycle, we see more and more divisions.With what has been happening at the global, macro level, it seems unreasonable to assume there are not splits right at the level of what is preached, even within dioceses and within parishes.

What is the source of this division?

One might say the answer is Christ Himself, or rather our reactions to His teaching. For some will hold onto the Sacred Word, the Deposit of Faith, the Catechism and the teachings of the Fathers, and others will be tepid, picking and choosing in cafeteria style, adapting to the times, even with a seemingly ‘good’ intention of making life easier for the ‘faithful.’  Others will disguise themselves as faithful, but are not. Christ said:  “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”  Luke 12: 51-53

If we are to “hold on” to what Christ taught in its fullness, we risk much by trying to do so through priests who are not holding on themselves. Or holding on just so far and no further, writing their own rules, seducing with their own opinionated prudential judgments the very people they should be protecting with faithful commitment to and teaching of the unchangeable doctrine and dogma.

The errors of Gradualism and “NEW?” Revelation

Several Sundays ago I was approached by a friend saying she had been at a local church the prior week and the homily was given by a senior priest who has some recognition locally, who asserted the entire erroneous teaching about gradualism, and the need to embrace ‘new’ revelation by the Holy Spirit. She was shocked and so am I, of course. We mutually affirmed what we each have always been taught, including that gradualism and anything which allows deferring of repentance until we ‘feel ready’ (without foregoing Communion) is wrong. Understanding of our Faith may deepen, but it never contradicts what has gone before. This is neither an obscure, theoretical issue nor theological debate fodder. It is the smoke of Satan hovering in hallowed halls. And perhaps the even greater danger is that the hunger to return to the Church in order to receive Communion will be a meaningless desire if one can receive Holy Eucharist without repentance.

Division is not a surprise. It is what Christ predicted between the faithful and those who are not. Today, it is particularly characterized by ‘shopping around’ for a priest who will agree with one’s own point of view. It is also what has given rise to over 40,000 different faith traditions among Protestant creeds and practices. The reward / punishment balance, perhaps, for a lifetime of shopping around for an ‘easy’ priest, is that one gets to have that priest hovering at one’s deathbed, and supplying what the soul needs at such a time with all the proper attention to detail, or not, as the case may be.


Even sheep know enough to be afraid of the wolves.

Even sheep know enough to be afraid of the wolves.


Sheltering in Place, Part IV

is very simply taking OUT of our lives

those priests who are not faithful to the Deposit of Faith,

who make their own interpretations of obedience,

and who are, deliberately or not,

misinformed and misquoting Church Teaching.

Wolves at the Gate

St. Paul said to the Ephesian elders: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which He obtained with the blood of His own Son. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”   Acts 20: 28-32

What is occurring in the Church right now seems awesomely portended by those words of St. Paul. Note that the wolves break in, and then are ‘come among.’ It is hard to argue that is not the condition of the Church today. They are inside the very gate. What advice are we to take from St. Paul? His comments are even more directed to the hierarchy and magisterium. Yet we too need to be alert, and avoid those who are speaking perverse things. And we must pray, for them and for us, to receive the needed grace and protection. But we also cooperate by leaving no room for wolves in our midst. We remember that it is Christ we obey, above all. What about when a pope or bishop or priest teaches error? We hold onto Paul’s words in Galatians 1:8:  “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.”  And well-catechized laity may still be used by God to save souls.

Being Faithful

What about “good Catholics” caught in the web of being taught one thing by the wolves, and something quite different by a faithful priest?  If the lay member really didn’t know the true teaching, there would be some mitigation in which the wolf would bear even more responsibility. But if laity choose to be deliberately ignorant, there would be much less mitigation of guilt, if any. For those who really know the true Church teaching in their hearts, the obligation to obedience is inescapable, as martyrs know well. Where there truly is confusion that can’t be sorted out, one can always choose the harder path, at least until it IS sorted out. To be simplistic about the principle: we need only fast one hour before Communion; but there is no Church law that prevents our fasting in the pre-Vatican II practice from midnight, which even included fasting from water.  Yes it did. Many moral issues can be submitted to the “harder way” for the sake of “offering it up” or as a resolution to confusion. Rarely do we see any required practices becoming harder; they are almost always being “relaxed.” It often seems consistent with the secular mindset of having a ‘right’ to have things easy, which is similar to the arguments for abortion and euthanasia and contraception.  At least easier on this side, before the Judgment.

Priests matter, Parishes not-so-much

Ultimately, the faithfulness of the priests who are in our lives matters much. If we hope to attract good care for our souls, it helps to get rid of what is dissembling. The erosion of faith, disturbance of conscience, and confusion of soul caused by the wolves has no good purpose or outcome.  But how do we recognize them so that we can avoid their parishes, their pulpits, and their influence?  One has to notice the details, yet with kindness and generosity. No one is perfect, but that should never prevent us from striving to obey Christ’s command: “You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48. Nor from expecting our priests to do the same.

But how do we know whom to trust?

If we just pay attention, we can’t help but notice a lot. It may seem that some priests who consistently arrive a minute before Mass (or later) may not have prepared or even looked at the readings;  however, I have come to believe some do stay away from certain intrusive traffic patterns in the sacristy before Mass, even preparing in the rectory or car. But a priest does need enough time to say the prayers of vesting before Mass, to check that everything is ready, and to “recollect” himself. Want a quick take on his obedience? Does he wear all the prescribed vestments? I have stopped going to some Masses because the priest only wears the alb and un-cinctured stole, no chasuble. Since the cincture symbolizes celibacy, continence and chastity, his commitment to sexual purity, one can only wonder what un-cinctured albs represent.  At the least it shows ignorance of the requirements, and perhaps at worst it is flaunting deliberate disobedience. About the missing chasuble?  “…the chasuble is the outer garment worn over the alb and stole.  Over the centuries, various styles of chasubles have emerged.  Derived from the Latin word ‘casula’ meaning “house,” … spiritually, the chasuble reminds the priest of the charity of Christ: ‘Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect’ (Colossians, 3:14).  The former vesting prayer was “O Lord, Who hast said, ‘My yoke is sweet and My burden light,’ grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace.”  So, just what does it mean to celebrate Mass without wearing a chasuble? [Quote in italic is from ]

Another indicator of “recollection” comes right at the beginning of Mass, when the priest says aloud “In the name of the Father….etc.” Watch carefully how his words synchronize with the position of his fingers …. Out of sync? Distracted? Also I’ve noticed, but it’s harder to explain and quantify, how some clergy seem to shy away from using the Crucifix or referring to the Passion, but I have no explanation, just caution. St. Paul reminds us “… we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:23-24. One priest who removed the Crucifix from the Sanctuary had a pseudo-uprising among his parishioners whom he called “divisive;” but, the diocese forced him to reinstall that Crucifix promptly. I have heard, now that we are in Lent, that the Crucifix has again disappeared from the Sanctuary!  Hopefully, the parishioners will again bring the matter to higher authority, and keep doing what is necessary.

We can listen carefully to the celebrant’s reading of the Gospel, for changes, tone, emphases in text. The homily is not the time to zone-out. Preaching distinguishes a priest’s communication to his people, how he is inspired by the Holy Spirit, how he chooses to serve his congregation.  Are the homilies mostly simplistic “God loves you. Be good. Send money. Don’t run with scissors” type homilies, or do they address difficult issues of needed catechesis, without violating the laity’s right to their own prudential judgments in those relevant issues? Does the priest’s homily show a sufficient grasp of the bible and the catechism?  Why would we want to have our confession heard by someone who is not totally conformed to Church Teaching? Much can be learned from a priest’s preaching, knowledge of context and scripture, insight and personal joy (or lack thereof). Listen carefully for any personal, unauthorized revision of the words of the Canon. Some don’t like “dewfall” and sometimes “for all” is snuck in where the words “for the many” are proper.  Sometimes other names are inserted in the Canon where not appropriate. The Mass does not belong to any particular priest; it is given to the people of God who have a right to expect obedience, not “pastoral” creativity.

I don’t want to leave the impression that the aforementioned “gradualism” or “new revelation” are the only errors being routinely preached today; so, I offer some fairly recent examples, which give me pause. In most of these situations I did offer input, which was rejected. But sometimes it is necessary to persist, for the good of souls.  Here are some examples and warnings experienced in the last few years. All are priest’s words, as near as can be remembered:

  • At a weekday homily:  “If the pope said something was white and I could clearly see it was black, I would say it is white.” (Appalled at the decision to lie for anybody, I challenged the conclusion which remained the same. I spoke to a senior priest whom I trust. I asked if he would die for the pope and he quickly said “yes.” Then I asked “Would you lie for the pope” and just as quickly he said “Never.”)
  • One priest said in a study group setting: “All sin is the same; not some big and other little sin.” 1 John 5:17 was pointed out to him and he got angry. “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.”
  • A priest said in a weekday homily that basically everyone at the Mass was also “in” the host.
  • In a group of about 20 lay people, a priest expressed the opinion that priests should be able to forgive in confession a divorce and remarriage without annulment, and readmit the ‘penitent’ to Communion without change in marital status. He also said he has no reluctance to attend “homosexual union” celebrations.
  • Several priests have made a point of saying they don’t know the bible very well, but said it dismissively as if it weren’t important. I don’t understand how they can not know the bible, or how Sacred Scripture can ever be unimportant.
  • I was approached by several people who had been at a Mass which I did not attend, complaining about what the presider said: “I wasn’t here to hear confessions before Mass [he never was; confessions weren’t scheduled before Mass in that parish] so, therefore, no matter what sins you have to confess, it is alright to come up for Communion, and just confess at another time.” I later asked the priest if he had actually said this and he acknowledged he had, and defended that he had, using Canons 961-2 as argument, which do not seem to support his actions.



I could go on with a list but the only point is to be very prudent and circumspect about those whom we allow into the circle closest to our souls, to encourage challenging that which we know to be untrue, not putting up with convenient revision of the Deposit of Faith or disrespect for Scripture, and basically protecting ourselves from the wolves inside the gate who are awarded pulpits from which to reign.


2 Responses to “Sheltering in Place: Part IV: “Get the Hell out””

  1. militia says:

    I think this should also be read in combination with the perspective in

  2. Ben Anderson says:

    Another good indicator I’ve found to determine where a priest stands is to witness him celebrate a funeral. If he canonizes the person and invites everyone to communion, even those who look like they have absolutely no interest and perhaps have never been to a Catholic Mass before, then you can be pretty sure where he stands. Death is an amazingly useful evangelization tool – not that it needs to be hijacked for such a purpose, but the reality of it just is. If you whitewash it by saying, “we all KNOW that X is in a better place now and that we’ll all see him again because we all know we’re guaranteed heaven as well”… well that’s just not Catholic.

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