“I saw the torments of hell and those of purgatory; no words can describe them. Had poor mortals the faintest idea of them, they would suffer a thousand deaths rather than undergo the least of their torments during a single day.”
— St. Catherine of Siena
Modernism is the coming together of many heresies, but if you look carefully you will see that they all share a disbelief in, or disdain of, the supernatural. The supernatural, of course, is the belief in angels and devils, heaven and hell, sin and salvation. It is composed of that which is above the natural, that which we can feel only with the soul, and know only through the highest of reason.
Many moderns believe these unseen matters to be foolishness, ignorance, and in so doing they distance themselves from them, endangering their soul for the sake of honor and pride, for the satisfaction of thinking they are the highest authority over their own lives.
Looking at these latest scandals in the Church is to see this principle in action. If someone believed in heaven and hell, sin and salvation, would they commit these awful sins for years? Would they do so without remorse, without removing themselves from occasions of sin, without recognizing that they are on the path to Hell? It is hard to believe, but the fact is that once you cut yourself off from supernatural truth, you are simply an unprotected soul behind enemy lines.
What is most striking in the scandals of the Church these days is how none of the people involved in them seem to have any internalized understanding of the eternity they are facing. This is a side effect of the heresy of modernism, the narcissism of the now, the placing of the honor of others above God. If those around you don’t believe in eternal salvation, in the angels at our side, in the demons whispering in our very ears, slowly, very slowly, neither will you. That is, unless you know that you are at war. If God is not first, if heaven and hell become metaphors to you, then all of faith becomes politics, and all of your actions become politically motivated. Then, of course, you are easy pickings for the Enemy to conquer, because the world, the times, the culture, are his.
Some, perhaps many, cower from, or laugh at, the idea of spiritual warfare but how else can you explain men who once sought holiness turning from it, adopting the values of the culture, denying and rationalizing their own sins, preying on young men, destroying lives, harming the very Church they must, once at least, have loved. Perhaps there are a million human failings to blame, but there can be no doubt that subtle pushes, whispers, and pressures were brought to bear by the devil and his agents. And their inclination or decision to deny the supernatural, and submit to the temptation to look down on people who do believe in it, spreads evil and endangers their very souls forever.
We are talking about vile and beastly sins here, the ruining of lives and careers, sexual sins that were covered up, those who committed them protected by a dark cabal that rose through the Church and even now they seek to downplay it all, make it go away. Men who should have led the innocent to the light instead convincing them that their sins were not sins, that they should go in the direction of pride, of redefining and denying their sins, that is to say, the way of darkness.
The supernatural is the key. Either you believe there is a hell from which you need salvation or there is not. How could the men who committed and covered for these sins possibly believe in salvation as they do these things? There is no way.
We in the Order are not at all shy about pointing out the folly and dangers of modernism, but there is a step further you must ponder. Do you believe more in this world or the next? Is your God honor or is it God as He is. Are you prepared to be humble before God, or must you put yourself above Him? Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? Because He is not just about mercy, He is about justice, He is not just about love, He is the keeper of the narrow gate that most will not get through.
How could these men believe that and do what they did?
They could not.
God, in His wrath, has now cracked the Church apart and the light is shining into the dark places. His will be done.
For the rest of us, it seems offhanded or flippant to simply say that we must pray. But prayer is a vital part of the supernatural battle we are now fighting, perhaps moreso now than ever before. The problem is a supernatural one–Satan has done his worst but has now been flushed out into the open, caught in the light of day.
The solution too is a supernatural one. We must humble ourselves before God, not think that our conclusions are better than His, we must pray the rosary for the tradition and future of the Church, we must face our sins and confess them instead of denying them, we must enter the supernaturally powerful state of grace. Once there we must offer our sufferings up, to be united with Christ’s, for the restoration of His holy Church. They are not too small, no, they are vital, our sufferings are a weapon in the spiritual battle that Christ and His angels can use for the cause. We must take the time to pray fervently and then listen dutifully. We must shake off the chains of doubt that the culture and the times place over us as we go through our days, and we must put on the armor of spiritual battle.
Satan, as we noted, is in the open now. It is time to hit him hard and with all we have. Yes earthly justice must come for those who committed the evil acts, yes we must pour out our love for the victims, yes it is difficult and you may have to struggle against the temptation to deny the world of the unseen, but you are needed on the battlefront in this supernatural war. Summon your energy, embrace the nature of it all, step back into the mystical body of Christ, and join the fight.