This week I would like to mention a few good books. I have just begun reading Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book, ‘Christus Vincit – Christ’s triumph Over the Darkness of the Age’. The early chapters are a fascinating read and deal with the history of Bishop Schneider’s family.
I am struck by the fact that Bishop Schneider was born in April 1961, just eleven months before I was born. I was born in Dublin, about seven and a half thousand miles from Kyrgyzstan, where Bishop Schneider was born. The society I was born into was a relatively free society with little or no oppression. Bishop Schneider was born into an extremely oppressive society where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was forbidden and where priests used to celebrate Mass secretly and at great peril to their lives. Many Catholic priests died in the Russian Gulags such as that of Karlag in Kazakhstan. That such oppression existed so recently, and still exists today in some parts of the world, is difficult for one brought up in the leafy suburbs of Dublin to comprehend.
Bishop Schneider’s paternal grandfather, Sebastian Schneider, was killed by Stalin’s military when he was just twenty-seven years old, leaving Bishop Schneider’s paternal grandmother Perpetua, a widow with two young children. She was twenty-five years old. The military came in the night and rounded up the men who were taken away and shot.
A couple of weeks later the military returned to check the house and found holy pictures hanging in the rooms of the house. These were forbidden at that time. Perpetua Schneider was ordered to take down the holy pictures but she refused, and when the policeman went to remove them she shouted at him, “You did not put that picture up on the wall and you do not have the right to take it down”. The shocked policeman left the pictures where they were and went away.
Later again, Perpetua had to work in the “kolkhoz” system, which was a communist collective of forced labour. The labourers were required to work on Sundays but Perpetua, being a devout Catholic, refused. When the commander ordered her to work on Sundays, this mother of two young children replied, “You can kill me because I will not work on Sundays.”
I do not want to spoil the story and I highly recommend that you get this book.
The family history shows us the stuff that Bishop Schneider is made of. He was born at a time and in a place where it was usually impossible to get to Sunday Mass unless one of the hunted priests was secretly visiting the area. There was one time where the family did not get to Holy Mass for over a year. The strength of this family’s faith also shows us the importance of family catechesis, something that has long been neglected in many Irish homes.
Bishop Schneider notes that amongst the German Catholics from whom his own people came and who were exiled by the communists, “what’s beautiful is that no one apostatized. Not one.” He then tells us that “almost all of the two hundred priests from the diocese, with the exception of a few priests, were killed or imprisoned. So, there was a very strong and very deep Catholicism in those German villages. I knew my grandmothers, and I am so thankful to God that they and my parents transmitted the Catholic faith to me.”
Reading this recent history made me reflect on the situation here in Ireland. Many Catholics complain about how tough it is to be a Catholic in Ireland now and yet we have it so easy compared to the people in Eastern Europe less than sixty years ago. In general, the Irish have become soft and complacent in the practice of the Catholic faith and so it is dying.
I am also reminded of the passage from Walter Macken’s book ‘Seek the Fair Land’ which I have quoted in a previous article. ‘Seek the Fair Land’ begins in Drogheda during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland and follows the fortunes of one Dominick MacMahon. Dominick’s wife is killed by Cromwell’s forces leaving him to look after a young son and daughter. He buries his wife in the local graveyard and there he comes across a wounded priest, Father Sebastian. The four of them then flee together to seek refuge in the west of Ireland.
This time in Ireland was similar to what Bishop Schneider relates of the times his parents and grandparents had to live through. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass had been forbidden and Mass was said in secret at the Mass rocks of Ireland with lookouts posted to warn of the approach of Cromwell’s soldiers.
In the scene from ‘Seek the Fair Land’ which I was reminded of, Fr Sebastian is saying his last Mass before being captured and executed. During the homily he addresses the people gathered for Mass thus:
“The future depends on you; it is not an easy future. You will not hold your faith easily. Like a granite rock throws off the water you will have to throw off persecution. It is easy enough to fight and conquer persecution. But it is not as easy to conquer the inducements of the easy road.” (from Seek the Fair Land – Walter Macken)
The faith of the Irish remained strong during the tough Penal times where persecution was harsh and out in the open. Harsh persecution strengthens the resolve of faithful Catholics. In these days of “the easy road” however, it would seem that the majority of Irish Catholics have lost all genuine interest in the Catholic faith of their ancestors and they have become indifferent to the true nature of the Catholic Church. They have also become indifferent to the concept of absolute moral norms with many baptised Catholics voting for ‘same-sex marriage’, abortion and divorce.
We have arrived at a ‘nanny’ state where the government is looked upon to provide for the educational needs of our children and most parents no longer have direct involvement in their children’s education. They pay for the school fees and for the educational trips, they attend an annual or once per semester parent teacher meeting, but apart from this, they have no direct say in their own children’s education or in what they are to be taught in the schools they attend.
The same is unfortunately true of our Irish bishops. They have lost control of the curriculum in the Catholic schools of which they are the patrons, and most of these schools, especially at secondary level, are teaching children contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church in the area of human sexuality with little or no strategic opposition from the Irish episcopal conference.
This brings me on to two more books. Lumen Fidei Press, which is a project of Catholic Voice, is hoping to re-publish two more classic volumes which will be of great interest to our readers and supporters. We are hoping to have these two books ready to launch at the annual Catholic Voice conference which takes place this year in The Strand Hotel, Limerick on Saturday 23rd November. We are delighted to be joined once again by his Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke who will preside at the conference and deliver the keynote address.
The first book is called ‘Liberalism is a Sin’ and was written by a Spanish priest, Don Felix Sarda Y Salvany, back in 1884. This is one of those books which shows us, that we were very clearly warned about the encroaching evil of our own times.
Speaking of education and of the desire of the Liberals to have complete separation of Church and State Don Salvany says:
“But the results of the fatal distinction do not stop with the functions of legislation and administration subjecting the Church to social and civil persecution; in modern times it has gone further still and extends its baneful influence to the school room, propagating itself by placing the education of youth under its dominating influence. It forms the conscience of youth not according to the divine law which acknowledges the will of God, but upon a premeditated and careful ignorance of that law. It is as secular education that it seizes upon the future and breeds atheism in the hearts of the coming generations.” (Liberalism is a Sin – Chapter 6)
In chapter 26 – ‘Permanent Causes of Liberalism’, he has this to say.
“To gain the child is to secure the man. To educate a generation apart from God and the Church is to feed the fires of Liberalism to repletion. When religion is divorced from the school, Liberalism becomes its paramour. Secularism is naturalism, the denial of the supernatural. When that denial is instilled into the soul of the child the soil of the supernatural becomes sterilized. Liberalism has realized the terrific power of education, and with satanic energy is now striving the world over for the possession of the child. With what success we have only to look around us to realize. In its effort to slay Christ it decrees the slaughter of the innocents. “Snatch the soul of the child from the breast of its mother the Church,” says Liberalism, “and I will conquer the world.” Here is the real battle ground between faith and infidelity. Who is victor here is victor everywhere.”
In Ireland the Liberals have been more clever yet. They pretend that we still have a Catholic education system. But the Catholic schools have been infiltrated by a curriculum which is not truly Catholic and by many teachers who teach things to catholic children under their care which are contrary to the Catholic faith. The largest teachers’ union in Ireland, the INTO, is actively promoting the LGBT agenda into Catholic schools. What they promote is not part of the official curriculum, so many parents are unaware of it. Some of their members are corrupting very young catholic children with false ideological information which has no basis in reality and which is contrary to Catholic church teaching on human sexuality.
Don Salvany was writing in 1884 so we cannot say that we have not been warned, but we have not heeded the warnings sufficiently.
The second book we hope to publish is a ‘Catechism on Modernism’. This book was written by Father J.B. Lemius, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate. The book is based on the landmark encyclical of Pope St Pius X, ‘Pascendi Dominici Gregis’ and it takes us through this great encyclical against the heresy of modernism in a simple question and answer format.
For example, in the opening paragraph of the encyclical we read the following.
“There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking “men speaking perverse things” “vain talkers and seducers”, “erring and driving into error”” (Pascendi Dominici Gregis – No 1)
In the book this is dealt with by way of a question as follows.
“Q. — Has such vigilance been necessary in every age?
A. — There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the Supreme Pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there has never been lacking “men speaking perverse things,” “vain talkers and seducers,” “erring and driving into error.”
The book goes through the whole encyclical in this way thus emphasising each and every point made by Pope St Pius X. In our times, as readers of Catholic Voice will be only too aware, the Catholic Church is awash with modernists who spread their poisonous corruption of Catholic doctrine everywhere. These modernists are very careful not to directly contradict Catholic Church doctrine, but they undermine the doctrine with a pretence of being caring and pastoral.
I recently mentioned an example of this that had found its way into the Dominican Sunday letter. I sent the text in question to a Benedictine moral theologian asking him if the text contradicted Catholic doctrine. He responded as follows.
“This is tough. The text is certainly tendentious, but in my view not overtly heretical. For example, it does not say that Vatican II changed Pius IX but that it was a “swing”. Clever word that avoids saying what would be unacceptable. As regards the Hindu scriptures, again, it does not confront the Gospel but only the liturgical presentation of it at a certain time. Very very clever. The guy who wrote this stuff is extremely careful, but also extremely dangerous. In brief, it is 100% modernism, just at Pope St Pius X described it”
Modernism is alive and well and we need to be aware of the warnings given to us by Pope St Pius X if we are to keep our faith intact and pass it on to the next generations. We also need to be aware, as Don Salvany, tells us in ‘Liberalism is a Sin’, where he outlines three types of Liberal; the Extreme; the Moderate; and the Quasi Liberals.
“The extreme Liberal roars his Liberalism, the moderate Liberal mouths it, the tainted Catholic whispers and sighs it. All are bad enough and serve the Devil well. Nevertheless the extreme Liberal overreaches himself by his violence, the fecundity of the tainted Catholic is partially sterilized by his hybrid nature, but the moderate is the real satanic type; his is the masked evil, which in our times is the chief cause of the ravages of Liberalism.”
May God bless you
P.S. Lumen Fidei Press will launch four books altogether at the Annual Catholic Voice Confeence on Saturday 23rd November 2019. The other two books are.
Reflections on the Abortion Issue in Ireland by James M Bourke.
Elements of a Catholic Reform Based on Truth – Monsignor Michael Schmitz – Vicar General ICKSP.