The Church of Christ Without Christ!
Perhaps the most remarkable novel published in the past century (a large claim, but a defensible one) is Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood. O’Connor was the most eccentric of human beings: she took her Catholic Faith seriously. This made her appear extremely odd to her contemporaries, and in her fiction she presents us with characters that are beyond odd: they are often described by critics as bizarre and grotesque, and none more bizarre and grotesque than the main protagonist in Wise Blood, Hazel Motes.
Hazel, like his creator, is spiritually serious. To him, there is only one question of any importance: is man redeemed by the Blood of Christ? So pressing is the need to decide the truth of this matter for Hazel that he projects it upon others, believing they, too, must have made a conscious judgment on the question and aligned their lives accordingly. He shocks an uncomprehending passenger sitting across from him on a train, a total stranger, by saying to her, “I guess you think you been redeemed?” Like most people, she has never given much thought to the question.
What O’Connor accomplishes through Hazel is to demonstrate how superficial, even negligible, is the question of supernatural salvation in the lives of most people today. And although she does this by detailing the misadventures of a spiritually serious man, the same point can be made by focusing on a spiritually un-serious man. She gives us an example in another character, Onnie Jay Holy: a religious huckster who says that if you want to be a crowd-pleaser and make money in religion, “You got to keep it sweet, brother.” Onnie Jay is like a photographic negative of Hazel, with all the areas of light and darkness reversed.
What we seem to be witnessing in the Catholic Church today is the opposition of the types of Hazel and Onnie Jay. Analogies are always inaccurate in some respect, for the principle of identity holds: a thing is what it is and is not something else – a good principle to bear in mind in doctrinal considerations. That said, we can proceed to fill in our analogy.
The spiritually serious Catholics are those who hold to dogma and morals as taught by the magisterium of the Church throughout the ages. Father Gruner was a spiritually serious priest who asked the hierarchy, “Do you believe Our Lady of Fatima?” Like Hazel’s question about redemption, inquiries concerning belief in Fatima – and obedience to its Message – were generally unwelcome and largely ignored.
Spiritually serious Catholics are now called Traditionalists and they have become the target of continual abuse by the Bergolio papacy, with Francis himself hurling daily insults at those he labels “Pelagians.” (See: “A Most Revealing Passage” and “the Pope Francis insult generator”.)
The main complaint against Traditionalists, so often repeated by Francis and his devotees, is that they are legalistic: they tie salvation to how one behaves, as though one’s conduct mattered. What’s more, they are fond of quoting Scripture and dogmatic teaching, but they supposedly only use these tools to make themselves feel superior and to inflict hurt on others. Traditionalists, it would seem, are cruel people, hardened by pride. And Francis repeatedly erects this straw man and uses his argument ad hominem to dismiss from serious consideration whatever doctrinal position he finds inconvenient. (See: “Francis reveals contents of upcoming Apostolic Exhortation”.)
Following the Onnie Jay Holy prescription, Francis wants to gain an audience by keeping it sweet (sweet, that is, for non-Traditionalists). He wants divorced and remarried people to be admitted to Holy Communion, without having to repent of and abandon adultery (see: “Bombshell: Pope to His Favorite Journalist: ‘All the Divorced who ask will be admitted [to Communion]’”). He wants to show sympathy for the homosexual lifestyle, as evidenced by his now infamous, “Who am I to judge?” remark, which appears on T-shirts at gay pride rallies. And Francis has made some outrageous appointments that demonstrate beyond doubt that he is not concerned with homosexual sin within the Church or without (see: “Pope's ‘eyes and ears’ in Vatican bank ‘had string of homosexual affairs’” and “Pope Francis Appoints Radically Liberal, Pro-Homosexual Priest to Vatican Council”).
We are witnessing the dismantling of dogma and morals in the name of “mercy”. Francis has declared a Jubilee year of mercy that began on December 8. Who knows what will be left standing of Catholic teaching and practice when it concludes? Francis has used Our Lord in much the same way Onnie Jay uses his “prophet” in Wise Blood. Having been spurned by Hazel, Onnie Jay pays someone to dress like Hazel and stand behind him; he then claims he has been saved by the sweet words of the “prophet.”
Francis has turned Our Lord into his personal “prophet”. Francis props up his re-invented, non-dogmatic, non-judgmental Christ and presents himself as his chosen messenger. Claiming to base his remarks on the beatitudes, Francis told the National Conference of the Italian Church on November 10, that he wants a “restless Church” where people “innovate freely” (see: “Catholicism can and must change, Francis forcefully tells Italian church gathering”).
One can read the beatitudes repeatedly without discerning any counsel to be restless and innovative. Some translate the Italian word the Pope used not as “restless” but as “unsettled.” Even so, one can find nothing in Scripture or Tradition that justifies extending the beatitudes to include “Blessed are the unsettled” and “Blessed are the innovators.”
In Wise Blood, Hazel initially rejects redemption, but he cannot imagine a life that is not defined by a religious style, so he founds “The Church Without Christ.” Onnie Jay mars the formulation and calls it, “The Holy Church of Christ Without Christ” – a senseless contradiction that has leapt off the pages of fiction and become, alas, a monstrous fact.
In Wise Blood, Hazel tries without success to reject Christ and his own redemption. His futile attempt to turn away from the truth of salvation costs him much in the way of suffering, both physical and moral. We are living in a time when many in the Catholic hierarchy, including Francis, are engaged in what will prove a futile attempt to evade the immemorial teaching of the Church to accommodate the lax morals of an apostate society in the name of mercy. How much suffering will have to accrue before this attempt is abandoned?
Sister Lucy told Cardinal Caffarra that the final battle between Our Lady and satan would be about marriage and the family. As the battle heats up, as it is doing now, we have only one hope: Our Lady of Fatima. It is only She who can save the Church from the diabolical disorientation that is becoming increasingly evident with each passing day.
TradcatKnight: Fr. Gruner, "God Is About To Punish The World"