A reader writes me:
I am following you for some time and I want to thank you for your precious work. I remain a bit disappointed by you when you define yourself as “Traditionalist Catholic.” Traditionalist is fine, but Catholic is for me like a finger in my eye. I do not claim explanations or motives from a person of your intellectual stature, you will have your motives.
I just wanted to let you know that by reading you every day and enjoying your information with your prose, I really do not understand about this profession. I must confess that I would be happy someday to know that you take a distance from what I consider to be a real disaster for the whole world.
I wish you a Happy 2018 made of more comforting news …
At my age, I no longer have much patience towards the conventional prejudices that people have blindly adopted and that each one repeats to me as if they were original ideas and witness to their critical freedom. Your anti-Catholicism, dear reader, is one of these conventional prejudices; I’ve already had the opportunity to listen to it, as you imagine, many times. The revulsion towards the same word ‘catholic’ has now (with the masses) the characteristic of being a conditioned reflex, triggered by itself. It involves not only derision and contempt but — more seriously — will to exclusion from public space: a ‘Catholic’ has no right to say anything because he is dogmatic, intolerant, he believes that there is truth, he is a moralist ….
And this, exactly in the historical moment in which it is precisely relativism that is imposed as a dogmatic truth. And it is precisely the mass unbelievers who show all the symptoms that they erroneously attribute to the ‘Catholic’ or religious fanatic: sentimental comfort from certainties received, conformity, rejection of doubt, Pharisaic security of being right, moralistic presumption, intolerance towards positions of others, repeated acts of faith towards ‘Progress,’ ‘Darwinian evolution,’ ‘science’ and other unverified beliefs of progressive ideology. Enough, to say, that [Laura] Boldrini opens her mouth to repeat some current dogma of the left, with the unequivocal attitude of the bigot sure of possessing the truth [Note: Laura Boldrini is a leading political Italian figure who is always very progressive in all her public statements]. It is an attitude that, descending on the social scale, induces the gay militants, let’s say, to paint frescoes in churches portraying homosexuals in Paradise, or mocking nativities with two saints Joseph, and even more, youngsters breaking the figurines of the nativity in the parishes: signs in which, beyond the will to offend those who believe gratuitously, one should recognize the wahabite [Note: ‘wahabite’ is an Islamic fundamentalist movement] extreme of unbelief: we cancel, repress and profane the ‘superstitions’; only our truth must exist.
At 74 I no longer have so much patience, especially as I witness, from the bigots, dogmatic and wahabites of ‘progress’ and ‘reason’ the sheer destruction of the splendid Greco-Roman-Christian civilization they inherited. But your letter, dear reader, is so sincerely saddened to see me as a ‘Catholic’ (therefore obscurantist, then surpassed and non-glamor, therefore a moralizing judge full of prejudices about sex?), that I feel compelled to try to answer them.
Do not make me wrong to think that for someone like me, in this century, to believe in one God in three Persons, one of whom became man, born of a Virgin, to atone for our sins by being crucified in our place and to save us from eternal damnation, is an escape into an easy faith, a consoling refuge. For me, as for every conscious Catholic who lives in this time of absolute disenchantment and easy material seduction, maintaining this faith is an endless battle and a daily victory against doubt, irreligiosity, the neighbor and its derision, and bad examples. But above all it is a daily struggle against one’s own pride, one’s own arrogance. Such an ‘absurd’ faith requires above all a preliminary act of humility, the ‘decision’ to believe. In this too Christianity is different from all the other great spiritualities of history, which do not require as much faith; and it is impressive to see that from the very beginning — we read very well in the letters of Saint Paul — it is debated, contested by the first converts: faith too much in breaking with that Judaism from which it declares its fulfillment; too demanding faith in monogamy, chastity, faith immediately threatened by heresies. Newborn ‘agonizing’ faith.
Only the ignorant atheist believes that faith is a consolation, a presumptuous adjusting to a ‘I do not know’ what a privileged moral state; for those who take it seriously, religion is a burden —a load of spiritual disciplines, of ‘weights’ that he does not know if he will be able to shoulder — indeed he knows very well that he is not able to carry himself, without help from above. Think of it: chastity, monogamy, control of one’s own pride, examination of conscience before God really present: daily care against self-complacency and presumption. Before being ‘comforting,’ faith is a challenge to one’s ‘self-esteem’ and comfort. The adoption of a spiritual discipline that the atheist does not even know — and we can see very well from the way he lives, that is as an intolerant and honorless beast, prey to all his impulses, the opposite of the ‘liberated’ person he believes being and advertising ensures him to be.
“But why take on this burden?” obviously says the non-believer. Adhere to absurd things like the Virginity of Mary or the Real Presence in the consecrated bread? Personally I have not inherited this faith, I have somehow found it again. I have non-amateurish knowledge of Buddhist texts, Hindu doctrines, I have fraternal friendship for Sufism. Why then?
If I have to answer, it is because I lived while Padre Pio was on earth. Because I was sent to India to see Mother Teresa and I saw her works. The alter Christus with the stigmata, the woman who washed the repulsive poor seeing in them the Christ who rattles on the cross: “I am thirsty.” If the most scandalous assertions of the post-conciliar hierarchy make me doubt, I think of Padre Pio and I say to myself: no, this faith ‘works.’ He is living proof. I also know that despite this crisis and general apostasy, Christ is choosing his own, calling them one by one — and there are those who answer. It is mainly the children who understand. When I have doubts, I re-read the little Jacinta of Fatima, who accepted everything until she died at age 9 because “so many souls go to hell,” Maricarmen who ‘surrendered’ to suffering for the conversion of the Mason who had killed his father; I recall José Sanchez del Rio, the ‘cristero’ who accepted the sacrifice at the age of 14, as a true hero and an irreducible fighter. I know from experience that what Christ said is true: that divine things, which the wise do not understand, are instead clear to kids and children. And I also understand why: because the little ones want to be heroes. They are the knights, noble crusaders, the frontline fighters, they say ‘yes’ to the supreme need of the Commander, without thinking “but maybe I can not do it,” “I’m not able,” “you’re asking too much.” Like Padre Pio, like Mother Teresa, or Father Kolbe, as myriads of others I do not know, I know that ‘Catholic’ means being a hero. People who, at some point, have to throw themselves without a safety net — and they do it, and then they work miracles.
Neither more nor less, until they shed their blood. And I, who am just a soldier in this army, so far from the front line and from having the courage of Jacinta or José Sanchez or Padre Pio — I would like to stay in the shadow of these warriors, hoping for their intercession, and because I get a penny of their courage. For the times we are living.
(From the blog maurizioblondet.it. 2018©AP. Used with permission)