Learning Difficult Lessons in Catholic Europe

The juxtaposition of two news stories I read today provides much food for thought. The first piece was “Bishop Cancels Nicene Creed to Avoid Offending Non-Catholics” at Church Militant; the second, “Cardinal: Spain faces ‘true emergency for our future’” at the Catholic Herald.

The executive summary of the first:

Bp. Derio Olivero of the diocese of Pinerolo made the announcement about the omission.

“Since there are also non-believers, everyone will say it silently,” Olivero told his flock at the Cathedral of St. Donatus in Pinerolo, a town in Piedmont, near Turin. “Those who believe can say it, and those who don’t believe or have other beliefs will silently contemplate the reasons for their beliefs.”

A few minutes of embarrassed silence followed the bishop’s announcement, then the Mass resumed as if nothing had happened, La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana reported.

To which I responded on Twitter with the first words that came to my mind:

Words which subsequently came to mind were Lex ordandi, lex credendi, in light of which his Lordship’s deliberate violation of the rubrics is all the more nakedly perfidious. That awkward silence during which the congregants silently expressed their belief in the God, gods, or lack thereof of their choice could not possibly compare to the beautiful silence of the Roman Canon in the Traditional Latin Mass. The latter is full of meaning; the former is just a void, and an embarrassing one at that.

The comment of a gentleman on Facebook hit the nail on the head: “Wait until he sees the Athanasian creed!” That creed, as many of my readers well know, concludes thus: “This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.”

Regarding the piece in the Catholic Herald about Spain’s latest descent into secularism, I responded also with the first words that came to mind:

“Our Lady of Covadonga, pray for Spain!” The reference is to the Marian title associated with Don Pelayo and the Reconquest of Spain.

This sad situation of Spain’s descent into secularism is the result of liberalism in the Church, plain and simple. When Spain was more herself and the Church was more herself, Spanish Catholics triumphed over these very same forces. Now, during the times when many of the Church’s bishops fail to challenge the culture at large with the truth of the Gospel, and even hide their light under a bushel basket (as disgracefully epitomized by Dom Olivero), the truculent enemies of the Church are having a field day.

It is a painful but necessary lesson to learn. Yes, the Church has enemies. Now, we are Christians, and are called to love our enemies, even when they make themselves very odious. This is why, after its primary purpose of loving God, we have the infused virtue of Charity in our souls. It’s not there for decoration; it gives us the power to love our enemies. (Think Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe.)

But how love them? By capitulating? By selling out? No, for we also have the virtue of Fortitude and its eponymous Gift of the Holy Ghost.

We must fight them and work for their conversion. If we can think in those terms and act accordingly, we can become saints.

Which is a difficult lesson we all need to learn.