Staying Faithful in the Spiritual Winter of the Church

10-16-2022Weekly Reflection

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony of Jesus. (emphasis added) Revelation 12:17 The real opposition to things Christian comes not from dogma, but from revolt against the majesty of the revealing God… Fr Romano Guardini, The Faith and Modern Man p.113 1952

Professor Roberto De Mattei described in a talk a Latin phrase motus in fine velociter and its meaning: The Latin motus in fine velocior is commonly used to indicate the faster passing of time at the end of an historical period. The multiplication of events, in fact, shortens the course of time, which in itself does not exist outside of the things that flow. Time, says Aristotle, is the measure of movement (Physics, IV, 219 b). More precisely we define it as the duration of changeable things. God is eternal precisely because He is immutable: every moment has its cause in Him, but nothing in Him changes. The more one distances himself from God the more chaos, produced by the change, increases….We are living through an historical hour which is not necessarily the end of times, but certainly the end of a civilization and the termination of an epoch in the life of the Church.

Recently Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Kazakhstan, was interviewed in the Brazilian daily Gazeta de Povo on October 4 about the Pope’s visit and the crisis in the Church. Here is part of that interview:

Gazeta do Povo: How do you assess the current state of the Church?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: We are experiencing a major crisis, nobody can deny that. We are experiencing a harsh winter in the Church: In Europe and America, churches are being sold and closed for lack of believers; the clergy are in a moral crisis; religious and moral relativism in the Church is increasing. The most obvious example is the church in Germany, but everything I am describing is happening throughout the Western world, with the exception of Africa and Eastern Europe. Over the past few decades the church has sought to conform to the spirit of this world, and precisely here lies the deep root of the church's current crisis.

Gazeta do Povo: The Church has gone through other very difficult times, like the Arian crisis, the time of the immoral popes of the Renaissance or the persecutions not so many centuries ago. How do you compare the current crisis to previous crises?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: As far as I can see, there has never been a worse crisis than the current one. The Arian crisis centered on a single theme, namely the divinity of the Son of God. This was undoubtedly something essential: this heresy effectively abolished the Holy Trinity. If it prevailed, we would cease to be Christians.

But the dogmatic definitions of the councils settled the controversy and Arianism was defeated. The moral crisis of the papacy, as its name suggests, was moral, not dogmatic or doctrinal. The persecutions of the Enlightenment, the Freemasons and the Communists came from outside and strengthened the Church precisely for this reason, in contrast to the internal persecutions, as happened in the Arian Crisis or in the times of immoral popes, cardinals and bishops.

But today the crisis of the Church shows itself as total relativism. The concept of truth itself no longer exists: truths change; Theological truths, dogmatic truths, moral and liturgical truths, everything is changeable. This is the most dangerous thing, because it deprives us of the whole basis of faith, adapted to the postulates of the unbelieving, atheistic and materialistic world of our time…

Gazeta do Povo: Is there a way out of this crisis?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: The Church belongs to God; it is not in our hands, and we must have a supernatural vision and trust that God will again lead the Church to a true springtime, to the flowering of a deeply Christian, pious life, to a new zeal for holiness among the clergy, to recover the sanctity of the liturgy, to a new missionary zeal to proclaim Jesus Christ without compromise or relativism, as did the apostles and the early Christians. In fact, this is already the case. In the midst of the crisis, we see small realities of genuine spiritual, doctrinal and liturgical revival throughout the western world. They are small communities, young and large families, new seminarians and priests who yearn for the wholeness of the faith of the Church of all times, for the beauty and holiness of the liturgy of all times and saints. This is the work of the Holy Spirit and gives us hope and courage. Notice that it's not something that comes from above, but something that comes from below, and God loves that. He calls the small to confuse the mighty.

He loves and calls the little ones, those not of the Establishment or belonging to the nomenklatura to renew His Church. (Note: The nomenklatura formed a de facto elite of public powers in the former communist bloc; one may compare them to the Western establishment holding or controlling both private and public powers (for example, in media, finance, trade, industry, the state and institutions).

Cardinal Gerhard Muller, a noted theologian, and former head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith sounded the alarm about another aspect of the crisis: the hijacking of the so-called synodal process, called for by Pope Francis. In an interview with Raymond Arroyo, on the show “The World Over,” on October 6, he was asked:

Arroyo: Your Eminence, thank you for being here. The last two years, the Church has been polling Catholics all over the world, and non-Catholics we might add, about their desires in the Church and from the Church. Now, these national reports have been sent to Rome. Internationally, an average of 1% to 10% of baptized Catholics have really taken part in these synodal discussion groups, For such a small representative group, do these national surveys mean very much? Do they actually reflect what Catholics are most concerned about?

Cardinal Muller: I think the approach is wrong. ... We have to listen to the word of God. And then to put it into practice...

Arroyo: The concerns of these reports are curious. In England, Ireland, France and others, they cite the need for a more welcoming Church, your Eminence…In order to be a more welcoming Church, there’s a deep need for ongoing discernment of the whole Church on how to best accompany our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters.” What do you make of this focus on the “LGBTQ” community? And how do you see the evolving synod taking up those concerns?

Cardinal Muller: The aim of this ideology ... is to instrumentalize the Catholic Church …for promoting their own ideas. But, in reality, everybody is welcome in the Church; but first he must repent of his sins and change his life according to the commandments of God. It’s best for us, human beings, to follow the way of Jesus Christ and to change our life according to his commandments and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ

(NOTE: LGBTQ+ is a political ideology with tenets directly opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Faith. Clergy who seek to subordinate the doctrine of the Church to this ideology place themselves in opposition to Scripture and apostolic Tradition and hence become heretics or worst apostates. Ultimately they are rejecting God the Creator in favor of a political ideology, which Cardinal Koch pointed out was done during the Nazi era by the so-called German Christians.)

Going back to Bishop Schneider he also spoke about the synod and synodality:

Gazeta do Povo: What are your expectations of this synod on the subject of synodality? What will be tried with it and what can actually happen?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: I am not a prophet, but my experience with the past synods, particularly the Family Synod and the Amazon Synod, and the start of the publication of the local reports, shows that they will again try to dilute the clarity of the Faith. The synod could become the catalyst for a lot of doctrinal and moral relativism, and I do not rule out them preparing the results of the synod in advance.

Gazeta do Povo: The most radical expectations were more or less not fulfilled at the previous synods.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: That's right, and I hope that the Holy Spirit will continue to support the Church and the Pope so that things like the abolition of celibacy or the ordination of women are not approved. However, I envision an increasingly relativistic climate in which everything will continue to be questioned to the point of exhaustion in order to destabilize the Church in her morals, doctrine and liturgy; that's for sure. So we must pray much for the Pope to have the power to strengthen the Church and drive out the wolves, who disguise themselves as cardinals and bishops today, and appoint real pastors, bold, zealous and apostolic. (NOTE: “Wolves who disguise themselves as cardinals and bishops today” is a good definition of the anti-church described by Pope John Paul II before he was elected Pope, when he said: “We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.” The celibacy of the clergy is a disciplinary matter of long standing and theoretically could change. However, the Church not ordaining women was definitively settled by Pope John Paul II and is doctrinal: the Church has no authority to ordain women.)

The most holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or, above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the holy Rosary. With the holy Rosary, we will save ourselves; we will sanctify ourselves; we will console our Lord, and obtain the salvation of many souls. Conversation between the Servant of God, Sr. Lucy of Fatima and Fr. Fuentes, Dec. 26, 1957 The anti-church heresy and apostasy will be defeated as in St. Dominic’s time through the Rosary and the intercession of our Lady: Her Immaculate Heart will triumph.