In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church.
—Pope Benedict XVI, February 27, 2013
For the Record
As a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate whose rule and life in a particular way is a profession of faith in the authority and ministry of the Successor of St. Peter, I wish to profess my love and loyalty to Benedict XVI as he leaves office today. This abdication is for the good of the Church.
Likewise, and after the example of His Holiness, “I vow unconditional reverence and obedience to the future Pope.” And I formally reject a priori any and every pretext for counting the successor of Pope Benedict unfit, unqualified, not sufficiently traditional, or sufficiently evangelical to run the Church. I also reject the parallel “magisterium” of academics, pundits, propagandists and ideologues who will inevitably “know better” than the next pope.
I understand the difference between doctrinal and pastoral authority, and between dogma infallibly taught, and non-infallible magisterial teaching, but I will never use any such distinction as a pretext to armchair-quarterback the Church against the consistent teaching of the postconciliar popes. Nor will I use this blog or any other medium as a means to spread anti-magisterial propaganda, or otherwise use such media to apply pressure on the supreme magisterium to see things my way.
Logicians and Mystics
Chesterton says that if it is reason that makes a man mad it is mysticism that keeps him sane. Of course, he makes a point of reassuring his reader that he is not disparaging the authority of reason, only of defining its limitations, and that failure to understand those limitations leads to something very unreasonable, and very bad for man. He writes:
The whole secret of mysticism is this: that a man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.
The immediate reference of Chesterton’s critique of the “morbid logician,” is the materialist. But the curious thing is that our materialist, secularist age has produced a defender of mysticism that is as ruthlessly logical and unwaveringly certain about his rational system as the materialist.
Here I speak of the modernist and traditionalist, or more inclusively and simply, the modern gnostic. Among these initiated there are fierce battles, anathemas and excommunications. They all want to be the only ones standing on the privileged little island of wisdom. Pope Benedict fittingly and essentially defined the ancient gnostic as an intellectual elitist. I wonder if the general audience about St. Irenaeus in which he gave that definition was more about the modern gnostic than the ancient.
In particular, the modern gnostic of the more traditional persuasion contemplates a strictly hierarchical society in which everything has its place and is properly subordinated. This medieval order is epitomized in the heirarchical structure of both the Church and state. This, surely, is a mystical idea, unlocked with the keys of Peter and maintained even in secular society by the divine right of kings. But curiously both the architects of the New World Order and the renovators of the Old World Order want to deprive us of the one thing that made the hierarchical structure of Christendom the great guardian of mysticism, namely, the enigmatic protection of God bestowed upon the papacy. If there ever was one person at any time of Christian history that had a “divine right” to rule it has been the successor of St. Peter. In fact, traditionalists will correctly argue that the divine right of Christian kings means nothing without the papacy. Yet the modern gnostic—the intellectual elite, the traditional analogous elite, the new Catholic aristocracy—ironically wants to deprive us of the last shred of the real sacred order (hierarchy) that Christ established so that we have an imagined version of it. The one “king” that we actually do have they want to bypass in order to have an imaginary one of their own making.
I will have none of the king making. There is only one Vicar of Christ. He’s the man. I will not be deprived by the neo-gnostics of what is truly mystical and supernatural and embrace the pseudo-intellectualism and magic of either modernism or traditionalism. We find ourselves in the postconciliar moment. It is a critical time and we had better get it right.
Christ the King reigns from the Cross. I have the utmost respect and gratitude to Pope Benedict for his courage and firmness. God bless him for listening to the Holy Spirit and not to man. As he will remain on the Cross in his silence, I will be always reminded that salvation comes not through the din of controversy, but through the steadfastness of suffering love.
The “always” is also a “forever” – there is no return to the private [life]. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry does not revoke this fact. I am not returning to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but I am remaining at the foot of the Crucified Lord. I will no longer vest the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer rest, so to speak, in the yard of St. Peter. St. Benedict, whose name I bare as Pope, is a great example of this. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.
Thank you Your Holiness. Thank you for your priesthood and your many, many years of faithful service to the Church. Thank you for your perseverance in the pastoral ministry. Thank you for the great gift of your intellect put at the service of the truth and of prayer. Thank you for the restoration of the sacred liturgy still underway. Thank you for your pontificate, exercised in fidelity and courage. And thank you for this moment, sorrowful for many of us, but one also that we have faith serves the purposes of the true head of the Church, Jesus Christ.
Thank you, Your Holiness for all you have done for us and will continue to do for us with your suffering and prayer.