Saturday, July 29, 2017

Five Unlikely Scenarios

One thing that has really interested me over the years is that Catholics have very differing views on how things will play out in the future.

The future is a very illusory thing. It is often invoked as a solution to all our problems, even as the past is castigated as their source. When faced with the break down of the liturgy, or the nonsense coming out of Rome, it is comforting to think, "It won't be this way forever. Someday a future pope or council will fix all this. God won't abandon us."

And no doubt, He won't. There will be periods of reform. The Church always reforms herself. And we know from divine revelation that the Church wins in the end. This is why I am not a total skeptic about the problems in the Catholic world - why I do not give in to ultimate despair. Essentially, why I continue to be Catholic. I know how this story ends. We all do. Christ and His Church will triumph.

But over the years I have listened to a lot of Catholics talk about what this triumph looks like, and I have realized that it is drastically different for people. For example, I personally believe the Church will triumph in the end, but I have never assumed that this triumph will take the form of some kind of general social restoration. Other Catholics see it differently; they see the vindication of the Church as essentially bound up with a kind of restoration, not only of the Church's social influence but of her ancient rites and customs as well.

I have always been a kind of pessimist in this regard. I have never assumed any future pope or council will totally undo everything. At best, I have held out hope that they would mitigate some of the more serious problems. I do believe in the future there will be a shift back towards tradition within the Church; what that shift looks like, I could not say.

Don't mistake me - I would like a total restoration, but I just don't see it as feasible in light of history and where we are going. But my essential view of the future is it gets worse and worse and worse until the world burns. God's grace may spare us certain calamities, but not all. The wheat has to be sorted from the chaff before the end, and this process is unstoppable. This is just my opinion, so I grant I could be totally wrong about it.

In this post, I am examining five scenarios I have heard bandied about by Catholics who hope the future is going to be better. In each case, I think the proposed scenario is much too overly optimistic and vain to pin ones hopes on. I then will present two alternative scenarios which I find more realistic.

1. A Future Pope Will Condemn Pope Francis

What some vainly imagine will happen
: Many Catholics are extremely confident that some future traditional pope will call out and condemn the most egregious acts and statement of Pope Francis; extreme variants have this future pope condemning the acts of pretty much the entire post-Conciliar papal Magisterium. Some envision an ecumenical Council formally condemning the acts of the modern popes.

What could possibly happen: If there is a shift back towards tradition, it is conceivable that a future pope will issue decrees that call out some of the problematic statements in previous papal teaching and issue documents with the specific aim of correcting these previous problems. Benedict XVI once said Nostra Aetate was a weak document, and also complained that Gaudium et Spes was too uncritical in its acceptance of modern progressivism. Of course, Benedict was referring to conciliar documents, not papal teaching; and Benedict, despite these criticisms, never did anything to correct the imbalances he noted. It is conceivable, however, that a future pope might call out the errors in the documents of Francis or other post-Conciliar popes and actually issue documents meant to balance them out or correct them.

What is most likely to happen: People who bank on either of the two above scenarios happening don't understand how bureaucracies work. When a new chief comes in to assume control of a bureaucracy, he has to be able to manage and work with the bureaucracy, otherwise he can't get anything done. To accomplish that, there is a strong sense that his own legitimacy depends upon showing a continuity with what has come before him. A new leader wants to appropriate the strength and momentum of the bureaucracy, and to do that he has to be able to show, in some ways, that nothing has changed - that differences are just a matter of style or emphasis. A leader of a bureaucracy is very hesitant to openly contradict or overturn what a predecessor has done because he does not want to undermine the strength of the very office he holds. And he does not want to create a precedent that may lead to his actions being overturned in the future. This is why the most likely scenario is that the problematic statements of Pope Francis will simply never be addressed. They may not be quoted or cited in future sources of doctrine, but they will not be repudiated or corrected. The Magisterium of the future will simply put their hands in their pockets and hum and skip along like the Franciscan pontificate never happened. Future theologians will be left to puzzle out how (or if) Francis' teaching has a permanent place in the deposit of faith while the Church's highest theological authorities will be deafeningly silent on the matter. But no pope is going to want to openly overturn anything done by a previous pope; he will feel like he is undermining his own authority.

2. The Novus Ordo will be Abolished

What some vainly imagine will happen: The abolition of the Novus Ordo is the perennial wet dream of traditionalists. And rightfully so! So much of the destruction of the Catholic faith in the past fifty years has been bound up with the new liturgy. In most trad fantasies, the Church suddenly comes to its senses. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, the zealously traditional future pontiff and episcopate will scrap the Novus Ordo entirely and implement a return to the Traditional Latin Mass throughout the Latin rite. Possible variants include the Novus Ordo being declared heretical or invalid.

What could possibly happen: The vision of Pope Benedict XVI was that the two "forms" of the Roman rite should "mutually enrich" each other, a view Cardinal Sarah has recently endorsed in a plan he called "liturgical reconciliation." If the traditional movement continues to gain steam, it is possible that the traditional rite begins to "enrich" the Novus Ordo. We may see future tinkering with the Novus Ordo to bring it back more to something like what the Council Fathers intended. It is possible that a restoration of Gregorian chant sees the Church's historical music actually taking pride of place, as Sacrosanctum Concilium envisioned. We could see some of the options of the Novus Ordo removed, for example, some of the Eucharistic canons, or the celebration ad orientem made mandatory, or communion kneeling on the tongue become more or less universal again. Of course, this also means the Traditional Latin Mass may also have to suffer "enrichment" from the Novus Ordo, which is a major (and valid) complaint against Cardinal Sarah's opinion. Although, if we were in a situation where the traditional Mass was popular enough to start to really influence the Novus Ordo, it is unlikely that the worst elements of the Novus Ordo would be injected into the Extraordinary Form. It is possible that over time - and I am talking a century - the Novus Ordo could blend into something that looked and felt quite similar to the Extraordinary Form in its externals but of course retained the essential structure and lectionary of the New Mass.

What is most likely to happen: Neither the abolition of the Novus Ordo nor the transformation of the Novus Ordo into a quasi-Extraordinary Form entity are extremely likely. What is more likely is that the Novus Ordo will simply continue on as it always has. It will bend a little here and there based on the whims of the current pontiff. Under Benedict it grew more traditional in some places; under Francis anything goes again. But it will essentially remain unchanged. However, the Traditional Latin Mass will continue to gain traction. Unless Summorum Pontificum is positively abrogated, it is likely to continue to attract the youth. We will see a kind of cross fading between the two forms - as conventional Novus Ordo parishes continue to decline (in some cases precipitously), offerings of the Traditional Latin Mass will increase. Eventually we may have a situation globally akin to what we now see in France, where there is a thriving traditional movement existing side-by-side with a moribund, dying Novus Ordo establishment. But I don't see the Novus Ordo ever formally being abolished. The Novus Ordo is here to stay.

3. Vatican II Will Be Overturned

What some vainly imagine will happen: At some future date, another solemn Ecumenical Council will be held in which the documents of Vatican II will be completely nullified or abrogated. This is theoretically possible (it is argued) since none of these documents make binding theological definitions. In some scenarios, it is actually imagined that Vatican II will be declared no true Ecumenical Council at all. The documents of Vatican II will be publicly and entirely repudiated and possibly condemned as formally heretical.

What could possibly happen: If there is a future shift back towards tradition, clarifying documents could be issued that interpret the documents of Vatican II in the most traditional light possible. This sort of thing happened in 2007 when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an brief interpretive document on the phrase subsistit in in Lumen Gentium, directing that this teaching should be interpreted in continuity with the traditional understanding that the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ. Athanasius Schneider has called for a similar authoritative interpretation of various aspects of the Council. If the Church hierarchy globally should ever begin to shift in a more traditional orientation, we could possibly see more clarifications of this sort that attempt to bring harmony between tradition and Vatican II (Related: What is the Hermeneutic of Continuity?).

What is most likely to happen: Like it or not, most Catholic prelates, even conservative ones, do not think there is any fundamental problem with the documents of Vatican II. Most hold the theory of the "hijacked council", or a version of "good council-bad implementation." What will most likely happen with the documents of Vatican II is...nothing at all. We could potentially see a few key phrases of teachings from the Council find their way into the perennial sources of faith. Perhaps Gaudium et Spes comment that without the Creator, the creature becomes incomprehensible; perhaps some of the ecclesiological statements of Lumen Gentium. Possibly a statement from Dei Verbum. But really, besides the two Constitutions, much of the conciliar corpus is unmemorable. As has occurred in the past with other ecumenical councils, a few kernels will be repeated and remembered and the rest of the Council documents - with all their wordy verbosity - will fall into obscurity. That is not to say they will be abrogated; rather, they will be superseded by new documents. These documents will probably be of a slightly more traditional bent (in the same way Benedict XVI was slightly more traditional than John Paul II), but they will not evidence any truly radical departure from the essential teaching of Vatican II.

4. The Bishops in Union with the Pope Will Consecrate Russia

What some vainly imagine will happen: A future pope, moved by the message of Fatima and convinced by the calamitous state of the world, will recognize the need for a consecration of Russia specifically according to the directives of Our Lady of Fatima. The pope in union with the bishops of the world will consecrate Russia - Russia alone and specifically - and an era of peace will be ushered in, the orthodox will be reconciled, and all manner of marvelous things will happen because of obedience to Our Lady.

What could possibly happen: The above scenario is very unlikely, as it would require future popes to admit that the actions of previous popes were errant or insufficient, which is highly improbable. Also, it requires a pope who takes Fatima seriously enough to break the Vatican's ostpolitik and risk harming "diplomatic" relations with the Patriarch of Moscow, which is also a big no-no. More likely is a scenario where the previous consecrations of "the world" to Our Lady are periodically renewed. For example, I can see a 50th anniversary commemoration of John Paul II's 1984 consecration in 2034, in which "the world" is again consecrated to Mary, similar to the consecration of the world made by Pope Francis in 2013. Just as the original Jubilee Year of 1300 became something that was repeated and became institutionalized, so we may see periodic renewals of the consecration of "the world" to Mary, none of which will mention Russia but which will all somehow be done "in the spirit" of Fatima.

What is most likely to happen
: Nothing at all. As time goes on, the message of Fatima will be seen more as a general, feel-good sort of vague thing; devotion to Fatima will be reduced to just "loving Mary" and will get away from anything specific. Lots of flowers. Lots of feeling good. Lots of "On This Day O' Beautiful Mother," but nothing else really. It's eschatological content will wither and be forgotten, even by conservative popes/prelates.

5. A Restoration of Global Catholic Monarchy

What some vainly imagine will happen
: After some future calamity - or alternately, perhaps during an "Era of Peace" ushered in by the Fatima consecrations - there will be a massive conversion of the world to the Catholic faith and global penitence. Reinvigorated by a new found devotion to the Kingship of Christ, Catholic monarchy's will be restored throughout much of the Christian world, perhaps with a sort of restored Holy Roman Empire ruled by some crusty scion of the House of Hapsburg. The social Kingship of Christ will be totally restored.

What could possibly happen: After some future turn of events upon which we can't speculate, some areas with a high population density of Catholics could see the rise of some Catholic strong-men dictator types, rulers who are autocratic but whose power is mitigated by their Catholic piety. I am talking about people like Portugal's Salazar or Englebert Dollfuss. These will not be monarchs, however, but authoritarians whose rule would be a far cry from a true restoration of Christ's kingship. At best, they will restore the social position of the Church, at least externally, and will enact laws reflective of some aspects of Catholic social teaching. But it will be difficult for them not to slip into the characteristic pitfalls of dictatorship.

What is most likely to happen: The slide of society towards liberalism will progress unabated until the Second Coming of Christ. As time goes on, there will be no more devout Catholics in positions of authority nationally, at least not such that they can wield any real influence. There will be no general social Catholic restoration of any sort. What restoration there occurs will be in little social niches, small communities, personal networks, etc. (No, please do not spam a bunch of quotes from obscure 17th century blesseds about the Great Monarch, nor do I want to hear about Fr. Ianuzzi's books).

Anyhow, that's my take on things. I may be totally wrong. I hope I am. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

New commenter here. First, thanks--I've read and enjoyed USC for a few years now. The one blog I have appreciated equally pre- and post-"tradversion."

I can't claim clairvoyance, and I accept that in this world there are any number of ways things could turn out. But I do think there are good reasons a somewhat more optimistic forecast is not implausible, at least. When all the nonsense of recent decades gets me discouraged, I take comfort in a remark buried somewhere in Quas Primas--not, it seems to me, one of the more widely quoted statements in that text. Pius XI says that every crisis in doctrine is followed by an unprecedented degree of theological clarity--which presumably is the benefit which comes at the cost of the crisis. I am no Church historian, but this rings true to me from what I know of the great historical heresies.

From there, I suppose much depends on how much perfection one believes God wishes the Church Militant to achieve in history. I think one can be optimistic here without falling for the illusion of a Leibnizian best of all possible worlds. God is glorified whenever His truth and law are vindicated against great odds. Thus it was no accident that Christendom only developed after the Roman empire tried to destroy the Church root and branch, or that the Thomistic synthesis was only achieved after centuries of varying degrees of theological confusion and heresies threatening to split the Church. But the latter example also points in a way to the natural mechanics of progress in knowledge. Lacking the beatific vision on earth, much of our knowledge of God comes from correcting errors; theological wisdom doesn't typically come to us easily or gently but violently. In light of this, a proper defense of the faith against modernism could give us a figure who is to St. Thomas as St. Thomas was to Augustine. I don't want to get too carried away with this, but let's not let the Hegelian counterfeit of synthesis blind us to the truth. And such a further theological development could surely only develop in fullness after the Modernist crisis has been overcome, probably for enough time to allow us to look more objectively at it. Our faith and liturgy glorify God on earth--it is in His interest to vindicate them on earth, so long as we are as faithful as we can be.

In that sense the exact nature of the outcome is partially on us. In view of that, what exactly are we looking for? I don't disagree with your observations about a condemnation of Francis or VII. But what really matters here is that errors are repudiated, and then that we are fortified against them anew. So, once VII has been taken off its pedestal and a proper appreciation of the pre-conciliar magisterium has been restored, some sort of condemnation may not be necessary, but then it also becomes easier to envision. Ditto for the current pontificate. The liturgy is a more difficult question, because it's not so much a matter of rhetoric or talking points as the legislated practice of worship. Here I imagine that Tradition will be restored in the measure that we merit it by our virtue, prayers, humility, mortifications, etc. If we are really generous here, I think the sort of "mutual enrichment" you envision--where EF and NO attendance balance out--will naturally restore the traditional alternative as such to favor. Otherwise, my hunch would be some sort of compromise being imposed as a norm, with the worst omissions and complications of the NO undone but not all of the beauties of tradition restored. Will we be bold and ask God for all the nourishment He can give us, or be content with less?

Boniface said...

^Beautifully said, especially the last paragraph.

Remember too, the much lauded "Thomistic synthesis" of the 13th century lasted only for about 50-70 years before being toppled by other strains of thought.

Murray said...

Very thought-provoking. Thanks.

I think you're broadly correct in your "most likely" scenarios. I'd demur slightly in the matters of the Novus Ordo and the advance of liberalism.

Disclaimer: I attend the Anglican Ordinariate's Divine Worship, so my traditionalist bona fides may be in some doubt. Regardless, here are my thoughts.

For the first, the Novus Ordo is so immensely deficient that even if it does continue indefinitely, it will effectively create two parallel and perhaps irreconcilable Catholic Churches within the one Body; indeed, it's arguable that it's already done so. Lex orandi, lex credendi, as they say, and the two forms are so utterly different in sensibility that it's hard to see how they can be harmonized or reconciled with each other.

So the Novus Ordo limps along, but with a graying and ever-shrinking crowd of more or less secularized Catholics. The Latin Mass (perhaps along with intermediate forms such as the Ordinariate's Divine Worship) will continue to grow, but will remain tiny in proportion to the mainstream. The end result will be a much smaller, bifurcated Church, with internal contradictions that will eventually develop into a full-blown crisis. How this shakes out, I have no idea.

Having read what I've written, it's pretty much the same as your scenario. I guess the difference is that I don't think it can continue indefinitely. One or the other will have to prevail. That, or a formal schism takes place.

You write:
It is possible that over time - and I am talking a century - the Novus Ordo could blend into something that looked and felt quite similar to the Extraordinary Form in its externals but of course retained the essential structure and lectionary of the New Mass.

You don't have to wait a century. This is more or less what has occurred in the Ordinariate. It uses the new lectionary and some BCP-derived prayers, but is otherwise very similar in structure to the TLM.

I differ more substantially on the advance of liberalism, which is already in its death throes, as far as I can see. Like all ideologies built on lies (in this case, the oldest lie: Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil), liberalism is collapsing under the weight of its own internal contradictions. Since liberalism is inherently open-ended and must always seek new frontiers of "liberation", it eventually finds itself in open war with reality, the ultimate oppressor. That's where we are now with the trans hysteria. Spoiler: reality always wins.

But I think you're ultimately correct. The only earthly hope for a Catholic restoration would be in the context of a radical decentralization, with the fragmenting of monolithic liberal states into independent polities. In that scenario (assuming the Chinese don't just march in and take control), I could see a diversity of forms emerging, perhaps including some types of confessional statelets. More likely is something even more authoritarian (and perhaps more unpleasant) than what we have now.

Don D. said...

I agree that I think we are on our way down and down until Christ returns. I believe we may be in the midst of the great delusion. I tend to lean toward a belief that the worldwide LGBT movement and the normalization of same sex relations and same sex marriage could be this great delusion. It is almost CRAZY how quickly the whole world has changed in this regard, with same sex marriage now accepted in most of the world. If someone believes same sex acts are immoral they are branded bigoted and haters.

Alexander Verbum said...

Regarding point #4

Our Lord said to Sr. Lucia that a Pope and the bishops will in fact consecrate Russia but it will be “too late.” So it is going to happen – how and when, who knows?

dxv515 said...

gee I wonder what you think of La Salette secret published by Melanie in 1879?

Boniface said...

^I think I give it the same weight as any other private revelation.

Mark said...

The following is from the book The End Of This Present World And The Mysteries Of The Life To Come, by Fr. Charles Arminjon:

"Cornelius a Lapide, the most learned of the interpreters of the Sacred Books, expresses the opinion that the end of the times will not come until Christianity has been not only proclaimed and propagated, but established and organized, and has subsisted at the level of a public institution, among men of every race and nationality: in such a way that, before the centuries have run their course, there will not be a single barbarian shore not one island lost in the ocean or any place, at present unknown, in the two hemispheres, where the Gospel has not shone in all its splendour, where the Church has not made herself manifest in her legislation, her solemnities and hierarchy, including the bishops and lower clergy - in a word, where the great prophecy "There will be one fold and one shepherd" has not been completely fulfilled.

We incline to this latter opinion. It is more in harmony with the testimony of Holy Scripture. It is more in accord with the wisdom and mercy of God, who makes no distinction between the civilized and the barbarian, Greeks and Jews, but, desiring the salvation of all men, does not exclude any of them from the light and gift of the Redemption. Finally, it accords better with the ways of Providence, which shows an equal solicitude for all peoples, and calls them in turn to the knowledge of its law, in the time appointed by its immutable decrees."

Yes, a restoration look humanely impossible at the moment. But looking back, history seems to swing like a pendulum. I don't think anyone in the 1950s or 60s would have envisioned or guessed that it was likely that we'd be where we are now in society and in the Church. But here we are, so who knows.

If I had to guess, it would be similar to yours, that things will get way, way worse over time. We'll then experience a chastisement of global proportions, but instead of the second coming, I think we'll be left with the Church to pick up the pieces, and then from there we'll be headed towards the long and painful process of a renewal and restoration of Christendom.

Noah Moerbeek said...

Good article,

I think most of the hopes mentioned in this article have misplaced our hopes for eternal life, and really just hope for a relief from suffering in this present life.

We poor sinners forget that no matter what a great majority of Catholics who attend Mass will not be fervent. Even if tomorrow the NO was suppressed a ton of very badly said 1962 Missals would take their place and Church's filled with irreverent lay people bad conduct. Or that the Great Monarchs still would need a large amount of Taxes and political cooperation from various power structures to function.

These piety informed day dreams should just be viewed as what they are, a temptation to stop loving and embracing the cross. I think many people who become sidetracked on these ideas are anticipating these thoughts with the thought of vindication. I would rather think it would be better to look forward to the day of Judgement for those hopes of vindication against the wicked and unbelievers than these temporal outcomes.

Boniface said...

I have that book!

I think I am inclined to think that what Lapide described has already happened. There is almost nobody on this planet who is ignorant of Christianity.

Boniface said...

^Nicely said.

Catherine Hawthorn said...

Have faith and hope, Boniface.

Has Our Lady ever backed down from Her promises? The Pope and all the bishops of the world WILL consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart. She has said that it will be "late" not "too late".

Pessimist statements such as yours destroy Hope and take God's Grace out of the picture. Bad popes and papal actions have been condemned in the past and abuses have been corrected or have destroyed themselves, thanks be to the Holy Ghost. God is not bound to the laws of human history or direction, we should not be looking to those as our lens into the future. His Grace and Power are enough to change even the hardest of hearts and the course of history.

While I do agree with some of your points, your overall tone is one of skepticism that these abuses will ever be corrected. If you'll excuse my bluntness, you are a doubting Thomas. Our mission is to nurture hope and belief in miracles, not destroy it with human logic. Our Lord can and WILL correct these abuses - how is up to His Judgement and His alone.

I leave you with this quote from St. Paul, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised), And let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:23-25 DRV)

Labore ad Deo,

Farm Lassie

John said...

Way too pessimistic, I think:

1. A Future Pope Will Condemn Pope Francis
- if the entire Church doesn't rise up and condemn him, or if his election isn't simply declared invalid in the first place due to issues surrounding it, he'll simply be looked back on as a very weak & unfortunate Pope who wanted to grovel to the political powers of the time, and his more egregious statements will be looked on like those of Honorius, John XXII, etc.

2. The Novus Ordo will be Abolished
- it won't need to be abolished, it will die a natural death because it cannot sustain a Catholic ethos. There will come a time when no bishop or priest will want to offer it, it will be considered

3. Vatican II Will Be Overturned
- a later Council will clarify all its main ambiguities and it will be ignored from then on, except for theologians and historians to study how far the Bishops can go astray.

4. The Bishops in Union with the Pope Will Consecrate Russia
- this will happen; you seem to think it can't because, A. it would admit previous Popes failed, B. it would offend ostpolitik. But the previous Popes admitted that they had failed (like JPII saying "I did the best I could") and there are already prelates admitting they did (Cardinal Burke); and ostpolitik will become irrelevant with the changes in the political climate (which are already happening).

5. A Restoration of Global Catholic Monarchy
- this is the most important one. St. Paul talks about the "restrainer" who must be taken away become the coming of Antichrist; the Church fathers read this as the Roman Emperor. The Roman Emperor was taken away 200 years ago and the powers of Antichrist have swelled exponentially since. The USA and the EU are manifestations of the power of Antichrist (I think either the US or EU is "Mystery Babylon" mentioned in the Apocalypse). Now you kind find many prophecies from saints down the centuries on the internet talking about a future great emperor who will restore things. I do think that this restoration will take place, it is the "Triumph of the Immaculate Heart". It seems that world would wind down into liberal apostasy until the very end like you say, but that would be inappropriate: yes, the Church will one day be ground into the dust with the coming of Antichrist and the end of the world, but before that happens it is appropriate that the Church should be glorified around the world before its collapse. The Church has really only triumphed fully in Europe so far; this triumph will be more universal, stretching from the far east to the far west. We are in the 5th age of the Church, corresponding to the church of Sardis in the scheme of the 7 churches of the Apocalypse. This is a time of weakness and decay for the Church. The next era, the 6th church (Philadelphia) is the most glorious era, but then follows the worst: the lukewarm church of Laodicea. I agree with a commentator I read online years ago, that the Antichrist won't be a godless liberal dictator, but an extremely religious right-wing type who will claim to be restoring religion and instituting a purer Catholicism while persecuting actual Catholics as lukewarm. But before that, the restoration is on its way and you can see it in the changes in the political climate: there is currently a great reactionary movement getting started in the West against liberal decay, and all we need is a Pope that will speak to these young traditionalists (in the broad sense), rather than spit on them, to begin the revival.

Konstantin said...

Sounds like a perpetual Benedictine pontifcate. Nonethelss, I hope for a new misionary era where the Church spreads to the Muslim world, to places like Afghanistan or Sudan where they will have a native episcopate and clergy and the Church will shine in all its splendor, as Mark quoted Cornelius a Lapide above.

Konstantin said...

I really like Farm Lassie's comment. Let's have more hope in God.

Noah Moerbeek said...

The hope we are suppose to have in God is not centered on temporal order in this world, but life everlasting to come.

Athelstane said...

As a roadmap for the foreseeable future - say the next generation, or even two or three - I think your scenario(s) are the likeliest. Things will generally continue to get worse, in the aggregate. No great restoration is on the horizon.

Of course, the future is generally hard to read, especially over the long haul, and can change more radically than we humans typically expect (the Revolutions of 1989 being a recent case in point). Consider the papacy and the hierarchy. Your principle of bureaucratic stasis does hold true. And we are not in any serious danger of a new pope eager to disavow the Council or the post-conciliar establishment. But a major upheaval that introduces real organizational rupture - say civil disorder or invasion that results in the occupation of the Vatican, and the imprisonment or even death of much of the curial or select national hierarchies (and all of these things *have* happened before in the past, most recently at the hands of Bonaparte, and came within a hair of happening under Hitler) - could change the equation, and make unthinkable things suddenly thinkable. A pope or series of popes rebuilding the Church out of the rubble of such disasters might feel much less investment in the Council or post-conciliar settlement. And if a Leo II can condemn a Honorius, it is not impossible that a future pontiff could cast a similarly gimlet eye on certain post-conciliar popes. But much water might have to flow over the dam (and many farmlands flood) before such a thing happens.

I also share the sense that the Novus Ordo is not reformable (nor can it organically evolve), and is not in any danger of vanishing for years to come. But that does not mean that the liturgical settlement ca. 2017 will prevail ca. 2117. Not only will modern rite shrink and the old rites grow in the West, but we may well see the promulgation of new rites/forms or uses in coming generations, further fragmenting the liturgical landscape.

Konstantin said...

Noah, I think it is a reasonable feeling that Catholics hope to see the Church thrive. Everything else would seem like defeatism or indifferentism.

Boniface said...

^Not necessarily. There's no guarantee the Church will continue to "thrive" in a temporal sense, especially if we are approaching eschatological times of the falling away, the great delusion, love of many growing cold, etc.

Boniface said...

I think a lot of you guys are making the same mistake I am warning about...assuming that these indicators of the Church's temporal restoration are fait accompli. They are not.

Yes, the Church always reforms itself. But there's no guarantee the reform will take us back to where we were, or even close. It may be 10 steps forward and only 3 steps back.

Also, the rosy prognostications of things getting better presuppose that we are not close enough to the end to where they do not get better. If this is the cusp of the great delusion spoken of by Jesus and Paul, there's no reason to assume anything gets better in any sense

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the traditional rite or Holy Orders (including Episcopal Consecration) & the traditional rubrics for sacraments reinstated.

Throwback said...

“Actually I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’— though it contains (and in legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory” - JRR Tolkien

The long defeat will continue until the end.

God bless you, sir.

Boniface said...

God bless you, Throwback. Nice to hear from you.

c matt said...

a proper defense of the faith against modernism could give us a figure who is to St. Thomas as St. Thomas was to Augustine.

Thomas::Augustine as Feser::Thomas?

Tend to agree with your take on things. "Triumph" of the Church and the slide toward progressivism's natural end/long defeat are not necessarily incompatible. As Noah points out, our definition of triumph may not necessarily be God's definition or vision. As BXVI mentioned, he envisioned a smaller but more pure Church. I tend to see it that way as well - a "cultural Catholic" church with slowly diminishing numbers, but still likely the larger chunk of the institutional Church; a more pure "remnant" with steady growth, but still not large or powerful by earthly standards. I also don't foresee an outright condemnation of V II or Francis/other post-conciliar popes - just letting them die on the vine, so to speak, by never citing to them except in the odd doctoral thesis, and essentially forgetting about them.

Under Mary's Mantle said...

Dear sir, thank you for your blog and for this post. Although I think you have an excellent handle on the issues, it can't be over-emphasized that any good that will happen will be through the providential hand of God. Through His grace many a miracle will be wrought.

One specific point: you may consider changing the usage of the phrase "wet dream" in your post, as it is rather a vulgar one.

Many blessings to you!

JD said...

I've thought a lot about this stuff over the years and honestly I've come to the same conclusions. That Vatican II or the Pauline Mass will be abrogated, or that some social reign of Christ run by righteous Catholic monarchs will happen are all pipe dreams and fantasies, at least for the foreseeable future.

Your take on things is based on a realistic understanding.

All we can do is to do the best with what we have in front of us and trust that God will see us through till we reach our heavenly home or Jesus Christ comes again.

Anonymous said...

Whew! I just typed out a long rant, but decided to delete it and just post the foundational points.

I think that this article is too pessimistic. I'm even surprised and a bit disappointed at its tone.

Looking at Salvation History, we find many examples of a crisis followed by a renewal. It is a constant factor. You should reflect on that.

I certainly have a problem with your attitude toward Marian Apparitions. The Blessed Virgin Mary, has come to us several times in the last two centuries, (confirmed and approved by the Church) to tell us the same thing. Repent, convert, stop sinning, pray and do penance, or else God will punish the world. Was She just pulling our leg? Is the approval of the Church not enough to confirm Her presence? Then who are we talking about here? Did Our Lady come down to Earth just to make traditionalists crazy and neurotic? Really?!

Is your thought really that it is most sensible to think that "the message of Fatima will be seen more as a general, feel-good sort of vague thing; devotion to Fatima will be reduced to just "loving Mary"?!" It may be that this is what actually happens, but, if so, I would suggest you get ready for the destruction she promised.

The Novus Ordo (and I do believe it is valid) was an abrupt and imposed change. We can't expect this thing that is a scant generation in duration to change back? Barely 50 years of the exaltation of man in the Church cannot really be turned around? So we should just deal with it? God wants to be worshiped His way, not ours. I would expect that these novelties would go away. We are talking about the highest form of worship that man can offer his Creator. We are most definitely not talking about liturgy formed by committees to be relevant to teens, heretics, dissenters, or other sensibilities. The liturgy is absolutely NOT about us. Both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant ways to worship God were given to us by God Himself. I can't believe that Bugnini crafted something of any duration whatsoever. I just can't believe it. It seems to be a ridiculous thought. Laughable, in the face of all we know about Salvation History.

St. Peter, in one of his epistles prophesied that at the end times, men would say nothing changes, everything remains the same. That seems to be a pretty close paraphrase of your counsel with some minor variation. Yet when we look at the Church through history, we see massive upheavals, tides ebbing and advancing, many changes.

If you will forgive me, I would like to suggest that just a touch of Modernism has influenced your thinking. I don't know. That is for you to reflect on.

But I have to disagree. It would be interesting to me to see what you think of your article in ten years. I bet it won't age well at all.

Anyway, I enjoyed the article. But I think that a step back from our day to day lives, and a moment of contemplation, would give it the lie.


Boniface said...

Hi Alan!

To respond to your points one by one:

Of course there will be a renewal. I have faith that the Church will have renewal. I just disagree that this renewal will look like what many Traditionalists are expecting.

You said, "he Blessed Virgin Mary, has come to us several times in the last two centuries, (confirmed and approved by the Church) to tell us the same thing. Repent, convert, stop sinning, pray and do penance, or else God will punish the world. Was She just pulling our leg?"

No. She's not pulling our leg. That's exactly what will happen. We will get punished for not repenting. Or if we do repent things might get better, not it won't result in any of the traddie wet dreams I outlined in my article.

Yes, I do think that's what will become of the Fatima message, and yes, I do think some form of destruction will follow.

Yes, I totally believe the Novus Ordo can go away, I just think it won't - not in the sense that the Church will repudiate it at least. It may evolve into something more traditional, but it will never be repudiated.

I'm not sure why you think a touch of modernism has affected my thinking; if it had, I would be much more optimistic, but in the other direction - that all the innovations will make things better or something.

My basic two arguments are that "renewal" does not equal the total restoration wished for by Traditionalists; and that rather than things being horrible or great, we're probably destined to a Church of "meh" for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Hi Boniface,

Thanks for your comments. They make your article a bit more clear. You left me with the impression that there would be no punishment from God regarding the Marian Apparitions, just a devotion that peters out.

You did not seem to leave much room for renewal of the Church, but only seem to predict a grayish muddle-through, that winds up with a whimper rather than a triumph and vindication of the Church.

I suggested that a touch of Modernism has influenced your thinking because of this: Modernists tend to doubt and to de-mythologize everything. They doubt the miracles of both the Old and New Testaments. So they certainly cannot see God acting miraculously in our times. You also seem to not conceive of God acting miraculously in our times. That is where I drew the connection and possible influence. Nothing more. A "meh" church does not communicate a glorious or miraculous rebirth or renewal.

On the other hand, I happen to believe many of the saints and blesseds whose predictions you to disdain. I conceive of a scenario in which there is a great purging of the Church, a great conversion of the people, and and exaltation of the Holy Catholic Faith. I think that much of this will be via chastisement and miraculous deliverance, but also much will come through a scientific renaissance in which Evolution is discredited, Creationism and Geo-centrism are shown to be correct, and that fact, as much as any other, is what will bring the Protestants back to the fold and convert Islam. The incipient destruction of Rome will be enough to make poor Pope Francis a bad memory that will be so obviously wrong that he will not have any defenders, as so will not need to be condemned nor even discussed. The Novus Ordo will be abolished, or at least trade places with the Latin Mass, being reserved only for those who have an "attachment" to it. The Latin Mass will become the Universal Mass again, but I wouldn't expect it to be the 1962 missal or anything in a set of specifics. God knows how He wants it done, and with the help of Saints, not committees, He will get what He wants.

I expect that this will be the "Age of Mary." This is before the actual end times. God will exalt and vindicate His Church. There will be a period of peace, plenty, and holy teaching. The end times will come when man turns away from God again. Not because he has become ignorant of God or been taught falsely of Him, like today, but willfully rejecting Him, after having known Him. This will bring the Anti-Christ and the terrible events of the End Times. When man becomes God's enemy through malice, not weakness.

This is what I can see happening, and I am quite sure it is probably an extreme fantasy in your book (I also think you should excise that vulgar phrase). But I am not making this up. I am taking it from readings of both current science, writings of Catholic Saints and Blesseds, and a look at recent events. I also think that something like this is going to happen over the next decade or so. But I also suspect that however it plays out, it will not conform exactly to what I have laid out. I am not a prophet and have no special training, let alone revelation. But the same God that created us out of nothing and performed the Resurrection is the God we worship today. All of our sophisticated doubts just seem to prepare us to be put to confusion and silenced in some even greater miraculous manner than has yet been achieved. Public Revelation may be concluded, but Salvation History certainly is not.

You can chalk me up as an unrealistic traddy, that is no problem. But it is unrealistic to believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, that there was a Flood, that God became Man, that man came back from the dead, that there is a Hell, that the Bible is inerrant, and so on. So yes, I'd agree that I am unrealistic. But so is everything that we have seen so far in Salvation History. So I suspect that I am on pretty firm ground.

Thanks for your response.


Boniface said...

Well you know what we can both agree on is that I, like you, hope you are right!

I certainly believe God can act miraculously in our times, and that there can be renewal, but I just do not think it will be the sort that many traditionalists are looking for. Looking at history, God certainly acts miraculously, but He never totally cancels out the trajectory of history. He works within it.

Capreolus said...

What do I think? I'm glad you asked. Two things come to mind:

First, a quote from a movie I ordinarily wouldn't cite on a Catholic blog, but since you used the dubious phrase "perennial wet dream," I am emboldened. "You acquiesce to defeat before you even begin. No wonder you can't do it!" Foresight is a (potential) part of prudence; if your prognostication is gloomy and limited, you'll never be able to achieve great things. So many Eeyores among the commenters!

Second, mutatis mutandis, a similarly pessimistic outlook was expressed by some of Bishop Challoner's priests, asking how it would ever be possible for the Catholic Church to thrive again in England (from the vantage of the late eighteenth century). To which, the good Bishop replied: "There will be a new generation. They will do the things that we cannot." We've all seen so much that is bad, it's as if we've forgotten how to "hope all things, believe all things."

Finally, way back in the early 80's, I was told by a couple of priests regarding the old Mass: it's never coming back; it's finished forever. I suspect that if you and some of the others here had been around, you would have sadly nodded in agreement: "Well, it will probably never really come back, just some form of it, maybe, in English, etc., etc." Have a little courage, my friend!

Br. David Anthony said...

Dear Boniface:

Pax et bonum! I read your Five Unlikely Scenarios article. However, I have a more optimistic opinion for the future of the Church. Below are what I believe are likely to happen.

1) Pope Francis may be condemned by a future Pope and/or council. There is a precedent. Pope Honorius I (A.D. 625-638) was anathematized, by name, by the Third Council of Constantinople in A.D. 680 (although erring by calling him a heretic), and by Pope Leo II, “We anathematize the inventors of the new error, that is, Theodore, Sergius,…and also Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic Tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted.” Although not censured for heresy; all the same, he was condemned for guilty negligence.

2) I believe the New Mass will definitely be abolished when the Church is restored. The Novus Ordo is a danger to the Faith and, for the sake of the Church’s survival, will not, nor can, last much longer. A future Pope or Pope and council will, without a doubt, abolish this masonically inspired, protestantized liturgy. Perhaps, when tradition is reestablished (during the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), a gradual return to the traditional rite may be in order and some organic changes may be made to the ceremony itself, but the Novus Ordo will, from henceforth, cease to exist.

3) Vatican II may be overturned. However, even if it isn’t, another council will probably be convened to reexamine, correct and/or amend the documents that caused the crisis that V2 ushered into the Church.

4) As for the Consecration, Russia will be consecrated as requested. We have Heaven’s word for it. Our Lady said at Fatima in 1917, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” Later on, Jesus, complaining that the Consecration had not yet been done, said to Sr. Lucia (then a nun in a convent) in 1931, “They will do it, but it will be late.”

5) In regards to the global Catholic monarchy, I have no opinion. Nonetheless, during the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and era of peace (perhaps a period spanning hundreds of years or more), the Church’s enemies, both within and without, will be routed and her power and prestige restored and extended throughout the world amid a time of mass conversions to the Faith. However, things will eventually go downhill: the advent of the Great Apostasy (the one we are presently experiencing is, I believe, only a preview); the appearance of Anti-Christ, followed by his persecution of the Church and ultimate defeat; the end of the world; Christ’s Second Coming and Judgment Day.

Anyway, that’s my take. May the Lord bless thee and keep thee.

God bless,
Br. David Anthony, S.R.

PS: Using the phrase “perennial wet dream of traditionalists” is inappropriate, especially for a Catholic website, let alone a traditional one.