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Patrick Archbold

Within a single week, we experienced two great shocks, but I am unsure which one was greater. The first, of course, was the stunning defeat of the virulently anti-Christian presidential candidate (there is no other way to put it). Hillary’s stunning loss to Donald Trump gave many Christians an unexpected sigh of relief. It isn’t necessarily that they have great faith in Trump, although some do, but that they stepped back from the brink of the abyss that would have been Hillary’s term.

But as my jaw was still smarting from hitting the floor and the air from my long gasp of relief still escaping my lungs, I woke up one morning to a greater surprise. Four Cardinals had sent a letter to the Pope asking him to clear up the purposeful confusion of Amoris Laetitia.

For Fatima watchers, 2017 is already shaping up to be a year to watch. Chaos and crisis have enveloped the Church. The faith and the faithful seem to be under perpetual attack, both from inside and outside the Church. Russia, God's chosen instrument of chastisement is on the move and internet news searches for "war with Russia" return more articles than one can read. World politics is in turmoil as evidenced by the Brexit vote and Trump's victory.   All this as we enter the 100th year of Our Lady's appearance, requests, and warnings at Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

As humans, we are naturally prone to give significance to anniversaries and we love round numbers. So it is entirely human and natural to wonder if, on the 100th anniversary of the most stunning apparition and miracle, that testified to dire warnings, that perhaps, just perhaps God has something great and terrible in store for us this year.

The rumor mill has been in overdrive recently that the next big topic of interest for the Pope and the possible topic of the next Synod will be married priests.

Today we learn, via Vatican announcement, that the topic of the next Synod will be “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”

Huzzah! We’re saved!

11258170 937104536352953 1192605343233174181 nRad Trads?

If you spend even a few moments online among Catholics, you will come across the pejorative “Rad Trad” or radical traditionalist. This is an exclusive club I somehow got inducted into and yet I don’t remember filling out the application. And man, the dues… the dues are steep.

As most of us know, “Rad Trad” is meant as an insult, a way of separating Catholics and, let’s be honest, smearing a group of good Catholics who attempt to practice their faith in a way similar to how Catholics have always practiced it. They label them as judgmental, holier-than-thou, Pelagian, Promethean, haters of mercy and all the proof required is some comment by some guy in some com box somewhere that was over-the-top and rude. So, you are just like that guy. Just ‘cause.

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The admonishment is stated so often in discussions about inner Church workings that many people treat it as axiomatic: Do not view the Church through a political lens, the Church is different.

Yes, the Church is different. You cannot view the Church as simply aligning with your local political situation, but the Church is inherently political. Where there are people involved, there is politics. And I venture to say that not only is this current period no exception, it is quickly setting new levels.

A fair amount of ink has been spilled in recent weeks over the controversy that erupted after Cardinal Sarah's London speech suggesting that priests might want to check out ad orientem worship this coming advent.

For a 100-year-old apparition of the Virgin Mary that we were assured was exclusively a 20th century history lesson, it sure has been in the news lately.

To catch up – first, we had Alice Von Hildebrand’s recollections at OnePeterFive about the Third Secret of Fatima having to do with an apostasy that would begin at the top.

A week later we had the confirmation of the decade-old assertion by Fr. Ingo Dollinger—a personal friend of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI—that subsequent to the latter’s description of the Third Secret as regarding a crisis of faith, a bad council, and a bad Mass (and the vastly different account of it out of the Vatican in the year 2000), the then-Cardinal Ratzinger has claimed that there was indeed more to the secret than what was published.

awesome mary pic

These are tumultuous times, both inside and outside the Church, no doubt about it.  It is unsurprising therefore that among some of the faithful there is a growing interest in the end times and Catholic prophecy.

Spend just a few minutes on Catholic social media and you will see faithful who run the gamut from viewing today’s events as humdrum growing pains in the age of the Church, to those who seem convinced that the Parousia is just around the corner.  Further, you will see well-meaning faithful getting caught up in messages of some modern-day apparition of a self-proclaimed messenger of God.  Some Catholics, realizing the problems to which an uncritical approach to prophecy can easily lead, reject all or most prophecy rather than risk going down that particular rabbit-hole.

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Now that Amoris Laetitia, the long awaited post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation has been released, the real debate is over. Don’t misunderstand me, the document itself, as it is digested over the next weeks, will certainly undergo much-needed debate about particular passages. Obviously, there are several key paragraphs that raise immediate concern and these can and should be debated.

Yet, I think that much of that debate will be hampered because of the working assumption that goes into such debates, a key assumption that papal positivists, many conservative Catholics, and the revolutionaries are counting upon. That assumption upon which the groundwork of the revolution is laid is that the words on the page actually mean things and, conversely, don’t mean other things.

Imagine you are buried alive. Do I have your attention? Good. Imagine you are six feet under in a coffin and you are running out of air. You don’t know how much longer you can hang on. But then, suddenly, you hear scratching on the outside of your coffin, and then miraculously see a drill hole appear above your head. Then through the drill hole a tube emerges, with an air tube to the surface and you can suddenly breathe again. I am quite certain you would be very grateful to the person who dropped the air tube down to you, granting you a much-needed and welcome reprieve.

That is what the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” felt like in 2007. It seemed like a lifeline for Tradition and the traditional Mass. Suddenly we could breathe again and it seemed like Tradition was saved from certain death. We, understandably, felt relieved and grateful.
There is something about the modern mindset that corrupts language and thought. Take, for instance, the simple word ‘rediscover.’ There is a lot of discussion in NuChurch at the moment about rediscovery. There is a Catholic pop-author giving away lots of books at parishes across the land asking us to ‘rediscover’ Catholicism.

There is currently a fair bit of discussion going on in Catholic social media circles about the nature of this type of outreach.

I don’t intend any critique here of Matthew Kelly or his works, but rather a critique of the mindset that is hardly exclusive to Mr. Kelly.

Recently, I had to attend the One Eight Lifeteen confirmation preparation program for one of my sons. I had to sit through the mandatory several-hour session with my son. It was painful beyond belief. We had to sit through games and discussions and activities, none of which had anything to do with the sacrament of confirmation, let alone Catholicism. We played Family Feud.

We had to form groups to talk about family traditions. After several hours of this, they played a little video which talked about confirmation in very general ways as a sacrament. That was our allotment of Catholicism for the day. 

I am friendly with the pastor, a very good man, and I needled him about the uselessness of the program. He responded back to me: “Honestly one eight is not for your family – it is for pre-catechetical families (most of which are the families in this and every parish). We start off silly to get their attention but eventually move them to solid material. It really does work – the teens eventually get it. 
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