There and Back Again

On July 3, 1966, the man who had married my mother and father, and baptized me, Father Francis McGinley, lay dying. He had spent his tenure at Saint Thomas Aquinas beautifying the church and setting our school on a secure economic footing. Doctor McGinley was a learned man and a shrewd student of sacred art, so when in his first years he ordered new stained glass windows, it was with an eye to our town, Archbald, and its Irish and other immigrant coal miners, patriotic Americans all.

There was Saint Patrick, his crozier planted upon the green, baptizing an Irishman kneeling before him. There was Our Lady appearing to the children at Fatima, a communist hammer and sickle in the panel below, and a Russian cross in the panel above.

There was Saint Ignatius entreating Saint Francis Xavier to join him, citing the words of Jesus, “What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world?” And in the panel below, Francis, having given himself up to gain the world for Christ, dying upon a distant shore, holding the cross before him.

Two popes appear in the windows too: Pius XII, canonizing the virgin Saint Maria Goretti, and Saint Pius X, giving Holy Communion to a kneeling boy and girl.

In the panel beneath that scene is the only railroad ticket I’ve ever seen in a stained glass window. It reads Ferrovia dello Stato, State Railway – a round trip between Venice and Rome. The humble Pius bought it to attend the conclave after the death of Leo XIII. He never thought he would have to remain in Rome.

The wedding at Cana is there too, with bride and groom watching as Jesus orders the jars to be filled with water. Father McGinley knew what trouble was in the offing, and wished to confirm the Church’s teaching on marriage. The panel above features two golden rings, interlocked, to affirm the holiness and the indissolubility of the union.

It was Father McGinley to whom my mother spoke, when my father was on furlough from his stint in the army, and she was assailed with doubts about chastity. She says that he was gentle, speaking in an exalted way about why God had ordained the sacrament of marriage. She never doubted again.

The same Father McGinley bequeathed, as I’m told, $190,000 to fund our school, the interest to be used for expenses. Back then, the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary staffed the school. We paid no tuition, and we had as many as fifty children in a single class.

But he lay dying, and the beautiful church he left would soon fall victim to the spirit of deletion. How quickly, too! It is a shock to view, next to one another, a photograph of the interior of Saint Thomas’ at his death, and the same interior a mere three years later.

The collapse
The collapse

The high altar is gone. The architectural painting that united the walls with the rounded vault of the ceiling has been covered with blank cold white. The large canvases of Saints Peter and Paul, high in the sanctuary to left and right, are gone, leaving the church with the anomaly of ten apostles but not eleven and twelve, and three popes (Blessed Pius IX is on the ceiling, beholding Mary as the Immaculate Conception). But no Saint Peter. It was ugly and stupid.

The church has been restored under the excellent direction of Father Christopher Sahd; but the school is long gone. Father McGinley’s bequest was rifled pretty quickly, once the IHM sisters went, having taken leave of their senses.

I look upon those photographs, and am still astonished; I wonder how embarrassment, if not devotion, failed to restrain the pastors who followed Father McGinley. I knew those men and have always thought well of them. Perhaps there was something in the water, something to turn sensible men into fools or modestly virtuous men into knaves.

I may have discovered that something a few days ago, when my mother and I were combing through old scrapbooks. Among the items was a complete Scranton Times from April 26, 1967, less than a year after Father McGinley’s death. The paper was full of war and the rumors of war, of national tumult – of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the year before they were assassinated; of Lyndon Johnson and George Romney, and, tucked in an article at the bottom of the front page, accompanied by a handsome photograph of his celebration of the Mass, of Father Charles Curran.

He had just been ousted by Catholic University for public dissent from Catholic teachings regarding sex and marriage.

That article makes for painful reading. Thousands of Catholic students at CUA and Georgetown demonstrated for his reinstatement. Academics across the nation joined in. Humanae Vitae was yet to come, but the teaching, which Paul VI would confirm, was clear.

Here we’d be gratified to read that the Cardinal of Washington, Patrick O’Boyle, came out in support of CUA. O’Boyle later slapped sanctions on priests dissenting from HV, but, according to the article, he joined in the chorus, urging the trustees to uphold academic freedom and to bring Curran back.

One of the men who laid hands upon O’Boyle when he was consecrated bishop was Henry Klonowski, who confirmed my sister and me in 1969. He and O’Boyle were from Scranton, a few miles away. There was a Bishop Klonowski High School in Scranton, now no more.

O’Boyle was theologically orthodox, while socially and liturgically “progressive,” which must have seemed right at the time. It does not seem so now. There is a connection to be drawn between the blank liturgical space where Peter used to be and the blank moral space where Peter’s successor used to be.

Reading that paper, I felt that I stood at the edge of calamity, and that the earth was about to open up beneath.

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child and Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture. He directs the Center for the Restoration of Catholic Culture at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts.

  • Harry

    I felt that I stood at the edge of calamity, and that the earth was about to open up beneath.

    Even if the earth does indeed open up beneath us and deep darkness swallows us up, what Corrie ten Boom wrote about her time in a Nazi concentration camp will remain true: “No matter how deep our darkness, God is deeper still.”

  • Dave Fladlien

    I think it’s more complicated. It’s true that HV forced married couples to decide if they would “go against” the teaching of the Church, but it’s just as true that the position that “Catholics are not conscientious objectors” proclaimed by the man who had years before confirmed me led others of us to say ‘no’ to the Church.

    At the same time, people everywhere were leaving the mentally simple life of the traditional “laity” behind and becoming educated, not just in leftist garbage, but just in learning to think for themselves. And think we did.

    Then too there was the gospel of social justice, which had and has some merit, but which was too often taken to be mindless and irresponsible big government spending, but not big spending results, because it was the wrong approach. The main aid most of the poor need is genuine opportunity, and some of the sincere ones will tell you that themselves. But they can’t find any opportunity. And the people who bought the extreme view of the gospel of social justice seem to think, as Fr. Morello pointed out yesterday, that they should vote for the person who will “be for all the people…and that moral issues matter little.” I apologize if I’ve taken that comment out of context; I think it sums today’s Catholic voting problem up perfectly.

    So people were put in a position to reject the Church just as the social environment encouraged that rejection, and then the anti-authority movement of the 60s spilled over into the so-called sexual revolution and that was that. The end had come for the “old Church”. It will never return. The Church has to reinvent itself if it wants to be broadly relevant today; but it *must* do so in a way that is consistent with its Apostolic Tradition and with the Sacred Scripture. I’m not very sure it is doing that, and I think the result of failing to do that is already becoming clear.

    I myself am a Catholic today — to whatever degree I am one — probably to a great extent because I am of the unalterable conviction that the consecrated host is really, truly, literally the whole Power of and behind the universe. And because I know that Power is a friendly and caring Power, and I’m not about to be separated from His actual, physical presence. Most people apparently have not been given the gift of that sharp awareness. So they stay away.

    • givelifeachance2

      “. The main aid most of the poor need is genuine opportunity, and some of the sincere ones will tell you that themselves. But they can’t find any opportunity.” Yes. Abortion unraveled the family in more ways than one. By “empowering” women to take on careers outside the home, it ushered in a definite slide into joblessness for American men, far outpacing the effect illegal immigration would have. Which created an odious cycle of family decay and poverty overseen by Big Nanny state. If slavery (and in particular, slavebreeding) was the heroin of our country’s first century, abortion and contraception was the heroin of the second, bringing us back to debt-slavery in our third.
      The only practical solution I can see is for women who don’t *have* to work, to get their ovaries home and off someone else’s husband’s job. And homeschool the children, and homecare the granny to become part of the solution.

      • Harry

        Hello, givelifeachance2,

        The law of supply and demand dictates that doubling the size of the workforce will drive down wages. Predictably, Moms entering the labor pool was soon followed by it taking two incomes to provide for a family instead of just one. This demonstrates that modern feminism (19th and early 20th century feminism was quite sensible), on top of every else that is wrong with it, is just stupid.

        The results of modern feminism’s stupidity made it difficult for Catholic couples who remained open to God’s plan for populating heaven with the citizens He intended on bringing forth from their union, but didn’t make it impossible to remain open to it. My wife and I raised ten children on a single income. Don’t ask me how that was humanly possible in today’s world. It never appeared to be to me. But I said humanly possible. Nothing is impossible for God. It never did look like it was going to work as far as I could see, but I can’t see that far. God sees all and miraculously and wonderfully made things work out. It was amazing how often new babies and raises or better jobs came along at the same time.

        It saddens me to think of young Catholic couples who would love a big family but just don’t understand how that is possible. They don’t have to understand that because God understands it. He leads us along paths that, according to our limited human understanding, it just doesn’t make sense to take. But He will prove to us, if we follow Him anyway, that His folly is wiser than the wisdom of the world.

        • Bobo Fett

          Great comment!

        • givelifeachance2

          You are correct on most counts but I do think 19th century feminism had too much divorce focus to be excluded from the problem.

          It is interesting how the downward spiral is perpetuated by the two career family’s use of government schools which leads to all the perversities of zpg indoctrination.

      • Dave Fladlien

        Givelifeachance2 and Harry: I’m going to disagree with you folks on this one (Women in the Work Place), for 3 reasons:

        1) As I recall, Pope St. John Paul II wrote a wonderful letter called Women in the Work Place, in which he says that while he doesn’t believe he has the authority to ordain women, women definitely do belong in the workplace, because they bring qualities and attributes that men can’t bring;

        2) my own views on *truly* overcoming the cycle of poverty, the right way (see TCT February 20, 2016 comments), requires that we massively expand the world economy. I’m definitely not sure, but I think that will require every worker we can get, men and women, just as winning WWII did. The reason that wages don’t rise is due to supply and demand, as Harry points out, but the low demand is at its core due to the fact that between horribly-prohibitive regulations, grossly unfair taxes, and just plain lack to desire to do it, we have no economic growth despite the Fed’s ludicrous Zero Interest Rate methods;

        3) my own business partner is a woman. She brings an immense amount to our business, as a world-class artist whose work turns my and her drawings into presentation pieces that really give a prospective client a clear view of what we propose. She is also a fine designer herself, and does most of the work on one whole aspect of our designs. I’m a gifted designer by God’s Grace, but in that particular aspect of our work, she is simply much better than me. Finally, she brings — as I suspect Pope John Paul was trying to get at — an understanding of human nature and human expectations that I don’t have.

        I *possibly* could have started this business without her, but I almost certainly never would have.

        • givelifeachance2

          1. John Paul II was careful to say the outside work should NOT come at the expense of the family.
          2. Every mother is a working mother. GDP is a bogus indicator of economic health – it only indicates what the government can tax, which reflects why governments want women in outside work – the extra taxes they bring in.
          3. Your personal argument sounds sort of like the employers who hire illegal aliens – “they have such a good work ethic” – while ignoring the bad effect it has on society. I never said women weren’t *capable* of most outside jobs. I don’t know whether your business partner is a mother, or married, or not – my beef is with women who drag and drop their kids at government re-education center in order to go to work. So good for you that you have a woman working with you – but if she sticks her kids in the local government school, I’d appreciate a polite thanks from you for taxpaying for her kids’ indoctrination and babysitting while you make a profit.

          • Dave Fladlien

            I find this incredible, but for the sake of the other readers, I’ll try to provide a (mostly) civil answer —

            You can try to distort or cover over the meaning of “Women in the Work Place,” but that won’t change the fact that the obvious point of the Pope’s letter was that women have just as much business in the work place as do men. The cautions to which you refer would apply just as much to men, who should also put their families first.

            Regarding your insinuations about my partner, for the sake of her reputation with other readers who may know who she is but not know much about her: she doesn’t have children. What she does do is take exemplary care of her aging mother while properly dividing her time between her established career and her rapidly growing additional career in our company, all the while also donating time to our diocese, in which she serves on an unpaid but pretty important advisory committee. As should be clear from that, if she did have children, she’d make the changes needed to care for her children and her career too. You might try reading St. Edith Stein’s account of her mother’s career in the family business, which she capably took over while still raising a number of children. Women are often very good at multiple roles, as both my partner and St. Edith’s mother have demonstrated.

            As for your remarks about profits, do you have something against profits? If by this you mean “sticking” children into a public school which is supported by taxes, you might consider that the kids would have to go to school in any case, and very few people can afford private schools, fewer are remotely qualified to do home-schooling, and even if they are, there are still the social-development aspects of attending school to consider. We are not being aided by the government at all. What we have to thank the government for is so many laws and regulations that our second-highest expense so far is legal fees, even though we have a very decent and sincere law firm which does its level best to minimize the fees (co-founded by a woman, by the way).

            Right now we are blessed with several really outstanding male professionals with whom we work closely. But almost all are either in, or heavily committed to, the one industry where we are. In general, over the years, my experience with other male professionals has been that they are often insecure, and mostly have as their main objective to show how smart they are (which they often have to do because it isn’t obvious). While I’ve had a couple of bad experiences, my usual experience with women professionals is that they possess a genuine humility (openness to the possibility that they are mistaken or could do something a better way) often lacking in men, are very capable, and will almost always do a good job for me.

            I have to wonder what your real issue is here, that causes you to attack women professionals so aggressively that your first comment in this thread resorted to degrading comments about a woman’s anatomy. If you think that kind of attitude is Christ-like, you’ve really missed the point.

          • givelifeachance2

            It was you who put your personal situation into the spotlight. But my argument obviously doesn’t touch your personal situation, inasmuch as it deals with outside-working mothers.
            John Paul II Laborem Exercens: “Experience
            confirms that there must be a social re-evaluation of the mother’s role,
            of the toil connected with it, and of the need that children have for
            care, love, and affection in order that they may develop into
            responsible, morally, and religiously mature and psychologically stable
            persons. It will redound to the credit of society to make it possible
            for a mother – without inhibiting her freedom, without psychological
            or practical discrimination, and without penalizing her as compared with
            other women – to devote herself to taking care of her children and
            educating them in accordance with their needs, which vary with age.
            Having to abandon these tasks in order to take up paid work outside the
            home is wrong from the point of view of the good of society and of the
            family when it contradicts or hinders these primary goals of the mission
            of a mother”

            And finally, feminism threw the first punch at prolifers with “keep your rosaries off my ovaries”. Whether you’re a hard feminist or a soft one, though, one should be able to defend the government school system, with all its dereliction, if one is going to “stick” one’s child there.

        • Harry

          I don’t have anything against women in the workplace per se. Women sometimes are the sole provider for themselves and possibly others. Who has any right to say they shouldn’t be in the workplace? Nobody. Some of the most heroic and virtuous people I know are single Moms.

          In general though, in two parent homes, what children really need from Mom is Mom herself far more than what Mom’s income will purchase for them, unless, of course, Mom’s income is necessary for them to have the basic necessities of life, like food and shelter.

          In the same way, and qualified in the same way, kids need Dad himself far more than what his income will purchase for them. There was a time when people home-schooled, and children learned an occupation from their parents by working with them — and Dad and Mom didn’t have to be absent in order to provide for and educate the children. I think that was the best situation for children.

    • pj_re

      “The Church has to reinvent itself if it wants to be broadly relevant today” – soon, society will have to reinvent itself in order to remain relevant to the Church, which endures forever.

    • Beth

      Yes, for those who have left, they cannot possibly know of the True Presence. We all know tens if not hundreds of ex-Catholics or non-practicing Catholics. I’ve not known one to express belief in the Eucharist. If one truly knows and believes, to leave would be choosing death.

      • Oscar Pierce

        Totally agree Beth, no believer could abandon, “The Source and Summit.”

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Knowing you as a friend Dave I think I know where you are coming from. Yes you did quote me out of context since the point I made was the clear wrong in placing material equanimity above the killing of innocents, and I appreciate your recognizing your mistake. What you should reexamine is your ethereal notion of personal conscience as if it were some sort of god that perhaps should have been enshrined by the Paris Commune in Notre Dame along with the gods of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. We have only one God revealed by Christ, and we are called to conform our conscience to what He teaches. Now that I’ve projected my own prejudices Dave based on our previous discussions on conscience, I again reread your comment after noticing so many up votes including Robert Royal thinking I must have missed what you were actually saying, which I did and now correct myself that you did not quote me out of context. There goes my aura of infallibility.

    • Joyfully

      Really appreciate your bit about that “friendly and caring Power”. That is a great way to contemplate both God and power. Most often we imagine “power” as a force to be reckoned with rather than a force of friendly, caring presence. And, yet, those of us who “unalterably convicted” know that he is both.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Rereading your comment Dave, especially the last two paragraphs I agree and am edified with what you say there. Nonetheless I stand by my previous reply on conscience.

  • Manfred

    It is certainly interesting, Dr. Esolen, to see the Church go from the Catholicism of Pope Saint Pius X, followed by the Catholicism of Fatima, to the Church as It exists, barely, today. Thank Heaven there are one or two Catholic sites, not TCT, which are not only recording what has/is occurring, taking aggressive steps to report what is occurring NOW and these assaults on the Church can be thwarted NOW.
    One such site, alerted to the fact that there was to be a satanic mass at Harvard, broadcast this fact on the internet. One subscriber, an American woman formerly in the Harvard community now liviong in Australia(?), immediately got on to her social network and alerted all her friends in the Harvard community. A march commitee was formed which led to a Catholic procession with hundreds of marchers on the day the event was to occur to the president of Harvard’s building and the mass was cancelled.
    The great boon of the last fifty years is that a core of educated, orthodox laity and priests is forming which is capable of teaching and protecting its members from a corrupt, homosexual hierarchy and priesthood and a pope who belongs in a sanitarium. In the opinion of Charles Rice +,
    professor of law at Notre Dame for many years, there are two Churches: one, with the Pope, bishops, etc., is the organization aligned with the State. The smaller, authentic one, is barely visible and it is with this minority that the Church will survive.

    • mike

      What are those websites?

  • Bobo Fett

    I don’t think it is complicated at all. Modernism is a complete catastrophe embodying the ecclesiastical embrace of every flawed recycled social theory that’s been trotted out in the past 150 years. The rape of the churches and watering down of doctrine is just a more voluntary version of what happened to Hagia Sophia in 1453, only worse – because it’s self-inflicted. The church is seriously sick. We need to vomit this modernist rot completely out before we can move forward again. We cannot digest it or abide it.

    To be true to the title of this article: “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth.”

    Let’s hope there indeed is, a “back again.”

  • Chris in Maryland

    Professor:

    That is the whole story in a nutshell. I am sure that there have always been two churches: The continuous transcendent one, and the disoriented Hegelian one.

    Your good Fr. McGinley knew that goodness and truth depends on beauty.

    I too was raised and schooled by good sisters of the IHM from Scranton. Sister Maria Thomas of Saint Raymond’s School in E. Rockaway NY taught us Gregorian chant when we were little boys in the choir. She was an artist…she also directed the school plays…and the school band.

    But the Hegelian mistake surged once again in the Church in the 1960-70s, and the IHM, like so much else of the Church, withered away, because it declared itself a new creation, and in its distraction, it lost the capacity to contemplate beauty and truth. And in the disoriented words of Laurie Brink of the LCWR, they “have moved beyond Christ.”

    And yet the gifts of goodness, truth and beauty remain…to be opened.

    • Howard Kainz

      Blaming Hegel for a loss of transcendence in the Church is a bit far-fetched.

      • Chris in Maryland

        Professor Kainz:

        Yes – it may indeed travel a long way.

        What I am connecting to are the Hegel idea of “synthesis” and how it is manifest in the person and ideas of Cdl. Kaspar and the Spirit of V2…and it does seem evident that it goes hand-in-hand with loss of transcendence…does it not?

        And I believe that it all culminates in a new “synthesis” – What we believed Tuesday must be left behind, because it’s Wednesday. We go from “The Alpha and the Omega” (a person – Ratzinger) to the 0mega Point (Higher Collective Consciousness – Chardin) to “Moving Beyond Christ” (moving beyond the Incarnate Word himself – per Laurie Brink of LCWR).

        In sum – the Chardin idea (unintentionally) moves the class to conclude that their choices are truth, because they are on the path of higher collective consciousness…and after 10-20 years…they are indeed distant from the personification of transcendence…thinking with LCWR that as they distance themselves from Christ…they are ascending.

  • JTM300

    Brilliant, evocative, and spot on!

  • Christophe

    By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and we wept, as we remembered thee, O Sion.

  • bernie

    They have “renovated” Baltimore’s Old Cathedral (Basilica). It is now, they say, as it was at the beginning, when the architect left I suppose. White covers just about everything. All the Stain Glass windows are gone and replaced with plain glass. Many people think it is all quite beautiful. I think it is awful. My wife made her first Communion there around 1935. She knew the exact spot on the Marble Rail where she first received. Of course, it is all gone now. Humorously, we met the Cardinal in the crypt one day on a tour. She asked him where the Rail was and would he let her buy that section where she received. “Oh, no”, he responded, “we have that in storage.” Somehow I doubt that. The stain glass was all donated to a new Church outside the City. It was not original, they said. I keep thinking, “Of course not. Neither were all the furnishings of St Mary Major in Rome, or St. Peter, or almost any other Church. A Generation built them and generations furnished them. I find most modern Churches to be just plain ugly, as are all the renovated churches that preceded them. A happy exception in my experience is the Church at Charlestown Retirement Community in Baltimore, where I lived for 7 years. The present Pastor oversaw the entire restoration of the old St. Charles Seminary Chapel. The place is exactly as it was when the Seminary was closed, only beautifully cleaned. It is a prize of the Church in America and ranks with the best. It is now Our Lady of the Angels, a full fledged Parish in the Archdiocese. So, occasionally, someone does it right.

    • Harry

      I love old Catholic churches filled with beautiful artwork that catechizes and inspires, and so much ornate craftsmanship that it takes a long time to even notice all of it.

      Catholics used to spend their lives working on a magnificent cathedral that they knew they wouldn’t live to see completed. These were masterpieces of incredibly ornate craftsmanship and spectacular, teaching art. Frescoes in ancient cathedrals were the impetus for Merton’s first step toward interest in religion.

      What was the motivation for people to work for years on a cathedral they would never see finished, and carefully building it such that they fully expected it to still be standing when Jesus returned? I think it was obvious to them that if it was simply for the glory of God, it was worthwhile to undertake a huge project and use all the skill they possessed in working on it. I think they must have considered it worthwhile to make a statement to future generations about who they were and what they believed was important.

      If such was indeed a significant aspect of the Catholic motivation for building such cathedrals (for some people, of course, it was simply a matter of making a living), is there any trace of such sublime motivation in Catholicism today? I think there is, but it must not be present in those making the decisions about how to build and decorate new Catholic churches.

      • bernie

        A thoughtful comment. Thanks.

        My Sister in Law was living in the DC area. While in her home city of Baltimore, she took her little daughter to an old well known downtown Church to make a visit. As they were leaving, my niece looked at her Mother and said. “Mommy is this a Catholic Church?” “Yes, of course”, she replied. “Why don’t they make them all like this?”, her child responded.

      • Howard Kainz

        They started constructing the church La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona in 1882, and the construction is still going on.

      • Luigi Del Gaudio

        Harry, your words are so well put as to the motivation to build these magnificent structures that many would never see brought to its completion. I think of one bit of detail I heard about the building of “Holy Cross Cathedral” in my home Archdiocese of Boston. I understand that the stones used as keystones over the entrance arch comes from a destroyed convent from revolutionary times. The convent was burnt down by bigots, haters of the Catholic Church. Out of the ashes comes a glorious gift to our God. I fear much of that thought and detail may be gone today in part.

        • Harry

          Much of that thought is indeed gone today. Rational thought itself is struggling for survival. This is clearly demonstrated by the stark contrast between Christian civilization, which produced people so selfless that they would spend their lives working on a magnificent cathedral they would never see finished, and do so simply for the glory of God and for the sake of future generations, and today’s atheism dominated civilization, which produces people so self-centered that they destroy the next generation by the billions before they ever see the light of day.

          It is ironic that this is happening at a time when the discoveries of modern science have reduced atheistic belief to extremely far-fetched irrationality. One could say that all irrationality is far-fetched, but that contemporary atheism’s irrationality is in a class by itself becomes clear when one understands the evidence against it which modern science now provides those who seek it out. If the negative connotation of the word “fundamentalism” means clinging to a belief in spite of evidence demonstrating it is false, then contemporary atheism has boldly taken “fundamentalism” where no man has gone before. The Church desperately needs to find its tongue in this regard.

          I pointed out that I am talking about fundamentalism in the negative sense of the word. This is because Catholics must remain fundamentalists in the way Athanasius was one, clinging to and proclaiming fundamental truth come Hell or high water — even if the Hell and high water comes in the form of Catholic bishops who deny it, as it did for Athanasius.

  • phranthie

    The iconoclastic acts within churches throughout Christendom in recent times are unspeakably dreadful. Father McGinley is a person we could all pray to with confidence for some help along the way.

  • ForChristAlone

    One of the things that always shocks me is the rapidity with which the deconstruction of the liturgy and church accoutrements took place – almost overnight. You’d swear that in some ecclesiastical precincts a contract with some wrecking company was signed with a codicil requiring that the work be completed in a very delimited time frame (i.e. before the people actually were on to what was happening).

    Perhaps Kumbaya and the “hymn” that included the lines “Let there be peace on earth” was commissioned expressly to lull the people into a 20 year deep trance.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Let me respond first with a humorous aside. One of our fathers when assigned to an Hispanic parish in NM noticed what appeared to be a silly looking doll up in the rafters of the church. He took it down and threw it in the garbage heap by the adjacent rectory. When the parishioners arrived Sunday morning Father B. heard an outcry of angry yells. He came out not knowing he was probably risking his life. One astute parishioner took him aside and told him he had discarded their revered Santo Nino. Father B. didn’t last long at that assignment. The Protestant Reformer like aftermath of Vat II caused immense damage Tony. I’m older and entered the seminary at the time and found a snake pit. It took years to recover the thought of vocation. There is a motivation factor that is often overlooked, which is the virtual break away of the Am Church from Rome. Paul VI and to some extent O’Boyle realized that. I will not make excuses for everything O’Boyle did following the Hum Vitae debacle in his diocese or for the mistakes regarding liturgy etc that occurred under Saint Paul VI. If anything warranted his sainthood it was the suffering he endured at the time. There was constant defamation and disgusting accusations against him posted and plastered, announced and broadcast all over the City. Some on this site cast Paul VI as approaching demonic. I saw him as a suffering saint who did everything possible to keep the Church intact when outright schism was brewing. His issuing Humanae Vitae is a testament to his courage and faith. The moral catastrophe we experience here and elsewhere is largely the result of ‘conscientiously’ rejecting Hum Vitae. The liturgical art issue was very important but the more import issue was this.

    • rick

      Father, your comment seems to indicate that since the “snake pit” of a seminary you entered, you feel that things have gotten better. Was that your intent? It would be hope-inspiring to think things have gotten better.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Yes Rick there have been major changes for the better in seminary training with the pontificates of Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They influenced the reintroduction of philosophy particularly Aquinas and clearer standards on Church doctrine. My sense is that work is not complete and needs to continue.

    • Tony

      I’ve just been informed by someone in the know that O’Boyle was ordered to call for Curran’s reinstatement by Pope Paul himself. That man remains an enigma to me. The German bully Hans Kung has long sneered at “the Montini Pope,” accusing him of being a politician and something of an autocrat, but if anything, I see that Pope Paul was a shy man who hated having to rebuke anybody, who was easily hurt, and who had neither the temperament nor the confidence to bring dissenters back to their senses.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Thanks Tony I wasn’t aware of that. Perhaps that tells us that a good man is not necessarily a good leader.

  • Alicia

    This is a very sad article.!
    Because we know that many other writers could write similar ones about their churches and their Catholic schools, we must all pray for the Church.

  • augury

    “Progressivism” was the sine qua non for Catholic inclusion in the American power elite. Like a magic ring, the religious freedom progressivism spoken by JFK in Houston, under Courtney Murray’s tutelage, freed Catholics from the dragon of second-class citizenship. The ring’s power to bestow the “blessings” of secular American prominence became clearer and clearer, starting with the sexual revolution of the late 60’s and extending to the present, where it threatens the theological heart of the Church…

    Or something. Just playing a bit w/ your facsinating metaphor Anthony.

  • kathleen

    Stay close to Holy Mother Church and her teachings in good times and bad. The Holy Spirit is in charge. If things are not going well in our parishes and dioceses because of unfaithful priests and bishops, it is our duty to pray for them and for us to stay faithful to the teachings of Jesus and His Church. We must pray earnestly and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in all things – the rest is up to Him. And, remember, the gates of hell shall not prevail…. We must evangelize – the Holy Spirit will give us ample opportunities if we ask Him. If we do these things we won’t be so anxious and we will stop complaining. Lastly, join Cardinal Burke in prayer on the 1st of every month. Cardinal Burke offers Mass at 11am in Rome and after Mass prays the Rosary. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world have joined this crusade of prayer for our Church, our countries, and many other good intentions. Check out this wonderful movement. Easy to do – just google for more information.

  • bernie

    Prof. Esolen, You really have a beautiful and insightful way of writing. I am much enjoying reading your book, Reflections on the Christian Life”. Thank you for this current essay. It rings so true with many people.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      But Prof Esolen keeps borrowing lines from great writers like Tolkien, or from the Bible. I’m waiting for the creative writer hidden inside of him to make his debut.

      • bernie

        Shows he is well read, sort of like Aquinas, e.g.

      • Cheryl Jefferies

        As Bernie says on this thread, it shows Anthony Esolen to be well read. And, from where else should Christians “borrow” lines if not from the Bible? And, from which other source should Christian writers find and set the cornerstone of their own writings if not upon the Word of God? Finally, I find Anthony Esolen to be quite creative in his writing…his essays always make me think and think deeply. And, whatever he writes, I always see a firm and consistent faith shining through.

        • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

          Thank God he has such devoted fans. Including myself. Cheryl you must read into my intent, which was humor.

          • Cheryl Jefferies

            Many apologies, Fr. I truly did not discern the humor. I should have known better. Mea culpa. Thanks for clarifying.

  • Patrick Miron

    Thaank you; I have LIVED you’re pain; and sadly expect “act II” in the not to distant future. BUT God remains in Charrge my friend,

  • olhg1

    And fifty years from now, they’ll be nostalgic folks yearning for the good old days of 2016. And there’ll be folks chanting “Jesus, God Almighty-Yesterday, Today, and Forever.”

    • Bobo Fett

      You’re right. It IS a fad. The real test will be whether people 1,200 years from now crave it as we now do crave Gregorian chant. Uh, I doubt it.

      • MSDOTT

        I playing a CD of Gregorian Chant right now, as I do my housework. Am on my break to read TCT…

  • Dave Fladlien

    I’m going ask the editors to bear with me for one more comment today: if any of the readers has a chance to visit the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland CA, by all means do so. Yes, it is very modern, but is also a moving experience, where the whole concept of Christ as the Light of the World doesn’t need to be preached, it is felt and experienced.

    I don’t live in Oakland, but that church is worth a trip to see, and *experience*. Not all modern designs are bad, and not all are out of keeping with Christian traditional concepts, even though they may express them differently.

    • bernie

      When San Francisco’s Cathedral burned down, they built another atop one of the hills. It is a keeper. It fits the City and is an experience just to be in it.

  • Tom Brennan

    Dr. Esolen: So you’re from up the Valley? How interesting… If you went to Prep, we probably learned classical languages from some of the same teachers.
    FWIW: my wife teaches at a Catholic school here with a small group of IHM sisters – in habit. A remanent will survive.

  • mrteachersir

    Fr. Sahd is a good man. I think Archbald is blessed to have him.

  • mrteachersir

    Dr. Esolen us one of my favorites to read. When he talks of his childhood, I know exactly what he’s talking about, having experienced much of the same, and can vividly imagine it all over again…



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